News Reports

February 2016 News Reports

Written by Andrew Kreig
Published on February 4, 2016


 

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

Feb. 29

Intercept, Apple Wins Major Court Victory Against FBI in a Case Similar to San Bernardino, Glenn Greenwald and Jenna McLaughlin, Feb. 29, 2016. Apple scored a major legal victory in its ongoing battle against the FBI on Monday when a federal magistrate judge in New York rejected the U.S. government’s request as part of a drug case to force the company to help it extract data from a locked iPhone. The ruling from U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein was issued as part of the criminal case against Jun Feng, who pleaded guilty in October to drug charges. It is a significant boost to Apple’s well-publicized campaign to resist the FBI’s similar efforts in the case of the San Bernardino killers.

Perhaps most devastating to the FBI’s case is Orenstein’s recognition that the purpose of the FBI’s request is not simply to obtain evidence in one particular case, but rather to grant the government broad, precedential authority to force Apple and other tech companies to take affirmative technological steps to cooperate with criminal investigations generally. To accept that the U.S. government has this power, ruled the court, is to vest law enforcement agencies with statutory authority that Congress itself never enacted:

New York Times, Women Tell Justices Why Abortion Was Right for Them, Adam Liptak, Feb. 29, 2016. Hoping to humanize their decisions, more than 100 women filed briefs directed largely at Justice Anthony M. KennedyAnthony M. Kennedy Official Photo, who holds the crucial vote in a key abortion case. But some say the tactic may only alienate the justice (shown in an official photo. Related stories: Clarence Thomas Breaks 10 Years of Silence in Court and How the Case Could Change Women’s Access to Abortion.

Washington Post, Voters to face stricter ID requirements on Super Tuesday, Sari Horwitz, Feb. 29, 2016. Laws in the states range from asking voters to present photo IDs at the polls to requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote.

Real Clear Politics, Trump Disavows KKK, Duke: "How Many Times Do I Have To Continue To Disavow People?" Ian Schwartz, Feb. 29, 2016. Donald Trump addressed an interview with CNN where he did not completely disavow support from the KKK and white nationalist David Duke. Trump told NBC's The Today Show today he had a "lousy earpiece" for the interview and thought Jake Tapper, the CNN interview, was talking about "other groups."

Huffington Post, Secret Service Agent Roughs Up Journalist Reporting At A Donald Trump Rally, Michael Calderone, Feb. 29, 2016. The agency's role is to protect the candidate, not enforce the campaign's press restrictions. A Secret Service agent slammed down Time magazine photographer Christopher Morris at a Donald Trump rally Monday in Radford, Virginia, after the journalist tried to cover a protest. Morris told CNN's Jim Acosta that he stepped about 18 inches outside the press pen before a guy "grabbed me by the neck and started choking me and slammed me to the ground." Independent Journal reporter Joe Perticone wrote that the altercation began when an unidentified agent tried preventing Morris from covering protesters. Morris reportedly responded "Fuck you" to the agent's command.

South Front, International Military Review -- Syria-Iraq, Staff report, Feb. 29, 2016. On Feb.28, the Syrian Arab Army and its allies re-opened the supply route to Aleppo following week-long clashes with ISIS and al Nusra in the area. According to the Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee, 97 armed factions agreed last Friday to respect a temporary truce for two weeks. However, on Feb. 27, the Russian Centre received from the USA a list of only 69 armed groups which confirmed their loyalty with the terms of the ceasefire. By noon of Feb.28, the Centre has received appeals from 17 more armed groups, which accepted the conditions of ceasefire.

WorldNetDaily (WND), Claim: GOP's secret plan to block Trump, even by electing Hillary, Jerome R. Corsi, Feb. 29, 2016. Establishment 'seeks to draft Romney if Rubio doesn't perform.'  In a bitter fight for its Roger Stone Hillary Clinton "War on Women" Coverlife, establishment GOP leaders have decided to block Donald Trump’s nomination at all costs, even if it means losing the presidency to Hillary Clinton, says Roger Stone, co-author of the 2015 bestselling book “The Clintons’ War on Women,” and the recently published “Jeb! and the Bush Crime Family.”

“The big fix is in,” Stone, a former adviser to Trump, told WND in an exclusive telephone interview Sunday. “Beware the ‘Big Steal,'” Stone warned. “The leaders of the GOP establishment plan to steal the nomination from Trump and to thwart the popular will, and they don’t care if they lose. Trump threatens all the establishment GOP leaders’ cozy deals. He’s a threat to the lobbying class. He’s a threat to the consultant class. He’s a threat to the globalists.”

“The GOP establishment would rather suffer through four years of Hillary – whose policies are indistinguishable from Marco Rubio’s or Mitt Romney’s – than to have an outsider be president like Trump, who is beholden to no one,” Stone insisted. “Rubio has been given until Tuesday and if he doesn’t win the Florida primary, the establishment GOP leaders have decided to dump Rubio in favor of drafting Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential nominee who lost to Barack Obama in 2012,” he explained. “If Rubio cannot win Florida, then Rubio drops out and Romney is in.”

“If Trump does not win enough delegates to carry the nomination on the first ballot, there’s no way he will be president,” Stone stressed. “On the second ballot, the GOP establishment figures enough delegates, including the 210 GOP superdelegates, can be pounded together to make Romney the GOP nominee in 2016.”

Feb. 28

Washington Post, GOP implosion over Trump’s candidacy has arrived, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, Feb. 28, 2016. At a moment when Republicans had hoped to begin taking on Hillary Clinton, many party leaders are vowing never to back the billionaire and openly questioning whether the GOP could come together this election year.

Feb. 27

Hillary ClintonNew York Times, ‘Smart Power’ and a Dictator’s Fall, Jo Becker and Scott Shane, Feb. 27, 2016 (Part I). The secretary of state was persuasive. But the ouster of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi left Libya a failed state and a terrorist haven. This is the story of how a woman whose Senate vote for the Iraq war may have doomed her first presidential campaign nonetheless doubled down and pushed for military action in another Muslim country.

As she once again seeks the White House, campaigning in part on her experience as the nation’s chief diplomat, an examination of the intervention she championed shows her at what was arguably her moment of greatest influence as secretary of state.

The New York Times’s examination of the intervention offers a detailed accounting of how Mrs. Clinton’s deep belief in America’s power to do good in the world ran aground in a tribal country with no functioning government, rival factions and a staggering quantity of arms.

Intercept, Antonin Scalia: The Billion-Dollar Supreme Court Justice, David Dayen, Feb. 27, 2016. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was worth billions of dollars to corporate America, if a Dow Chemical settlement made public Friday is any indication. Dow was in the midst of appealing a $1.06 billion class-action antitrust ruling after a jury found that it had conspired with other chemical companies to fix prices for urethane, a material used in furniture and appliances. But because of Scalia’s death and the sudden unlikelihood of finding five votes on the Supreme Court to overturn the case, Dow decided to settle for $835 million, the bulk of the original award.

Corporations have used the conservative majority on the court as a safety valve to nullify unfavorable rulings. As the Alliance for Justice has documented, time and again, the Roberts Court has issued 5-4 rulings that protect big corporations from liability, limit access to justice for workers and consumers, and allow companies to evade regulations on the environment, racial and gender discrimination, and monopolistic practices.

“Growing political uncertainties due to recent events with the Supreme Court and increased likelihood for unfavorable outcomes for business involved in class-action suits have changed Dow’s risk assessment of the situation,” the company told Bloomberg News.

Feb. 26

New York Times, Scalia Led Court in Taking Trips Funded by Private Sponsors, Eric Lipton, Feb. 26, 2016. Antonin Scalia was the longest-tenured justice on the current Supreme Court and the country’s most U.S. Supreme Courtprominent constitutionalist. But another quality also set him apart: Among the court’s members, he was the most frequent traveler, to spots around the globe, on trips paid for by private sponsors.

When Justice Scalia died two weeks ago, he was staying, again for free, at a West Texas hunting lodge owned by a businessman whose company had recently had a matter before the Supreme Court. Though that trip has brought new attention to the justice’s penchant for travel, it was in addition to the 258 subsidized trips that he took from 2004 to 2014. Justice Scalia went on at least 23 privately funded trips in 2014 alone to places like Hawaii, Ireland and Switzerland, giving speeches, participating in moot court events or teaching classes. Just a few weeks before his death, he was in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Many of the justices are frequent expenses-paid travelers, a practice that some court scholars say is a minor matter, given that many of the trips involve public talks that help demystify the court. But others argue that the trips could potentially create the appearance of a conflict of interest, particularly when the organizations are known for their conservative or liberal views. Some groups at times use the presence of a Supreme Court justice as a way to pull in members or other paying guests.

“I am worried about the public perception of gratitude, even if there is no effect on your behavior,” said Stephen Gillers, a professor at the New York University School of Law who specializes in legal ethics. “And the greater the luxury, the greater the risk of public suspicion.”

A look at the numbers of privately paid trips taken by Supreme Court justices from 2004-2014, ranked top to bottom by frequency of travel per year (excerpt of two most frequent travelers, Scalia and Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, a Democratic appointee).

Scalia: 258 trips in 11 years
23.5 trips per year

Breyer: 185 trips in 11 years
16.8 trips per year

CNN, Justice Scalia's death prompts Dow Chemical to settle price-fixing case, Chris Isidore, Feb. 25, 2016. The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has prompted Dow Chemical to settle a class action lawsuit and pay Antonin Scalia Supreme Court photoout $835 million. A jury hit Dow with a $1.1 billion judgment in a price fixing case, and the company was appealing the verdict all the way to the Supreme Court. Now the settlement will put the case to an end. Dow Chemical said Friday that it no longer thinks it could win its appeal because of Scalia's death on February 13.

Scalia was one of the most conservative justices on the nine-member court and a consistent vote on the side of business in class action cases. His death and a political dogfight over the nomination of a successor creates the prospect of 4 to 4 deadlocks in controversial cases. "Growing political uncertainties due to recent events within the Supreme Court and increased likelihood for unfavorable outcomes for business involved in class action suits have changed Dow's risk assessment of the situation," Dow wrote.

In its petition to the Supreme Court, the company cited a 2011 class action involving Walmart (WMT) and a 2013 case involving Comcast (CMCSA). Scalia wrote the court's majority decisions in both cases -- and in favor of the businesses.

Washington Post, Christie endorses Trump in stunning blow to remaining hopefuls, Jose A. DelReal, Feb. 25, 2016. The endorsement could potentially recast the GOP nominating contest yet again, giving Chris ChristieDonald Trump — already the undisputed front-runner — the weight and validation of a respected Republican executive officeholder. Trump's critics have persistently scrutinized his grasp of public policy and his bombastic style.

Christie (shown in an official photo as New Jersey's governor) was not Trump's only gubernatorial endorsement Friday: Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) also endorsed the real estate mogul during a radio interview on the "Howie Carr Show." "I think he could be one of the greatest presidents ever," LePage said.

Feb. 25

From CNN GOP Debate in Houston as three of five candidates pointed fingers:

Donald Trump, pointing to Marco Rubio and then Ted Cruz: "This guy's a choke artist, and this guy's a liar."

Ben Carson: "Could someone attack me, please?"

GOP Houston PresidentWashington Post, Feisty Rubio mocks, spars with Trump in GOP debate, Karen Tumulty and Robert Costa, Feb. 25, 2016. Robust arguments between Sen. Marco Rubio, who many consider the Republican establishment's best hope, and the billionaire businessman dominated Thursday's debate. Sen. Ted Cruz also joined in to criticize the front-runner and cast him as insufficiently conservative.

Huffington Post, How The Republican Party Has Failed To Dig Up Dirt On Donald Trump, Sam Stein, Feb. 25, 2016. GOP operatives are alarmed. Democrats are astonished. It's no secret that rival campaigns were caught off guard by Donald Trump's ascent in the Republican primary. But the extent to which they are still left scrambling to prevent him from becoming the nominee -- on the eve of the crucial Super Tuesday primaries -- is alarming many Republicans and astonishing rival Democrats.

Multiple Republican campaign sources and operatives have confided that none of the remaining candidates for president have completed a major anti-Trump opposition research effort. There are several such efforts being run by outside conservative organizations. But those efforts are still gathering intel on the businessman after having started late in the primary season, these sources told The Huffington Post. And they worry that it may come too late. "It is one of the many ways we underestimated him, I suppose," conceded one top Republican campaign official whose candidate has since exited the race.

Washington Post, Trump is the GOP’s Frankenstein monster. Now he’s strong enough to destroy the party, Robert Kagan, Feb. 25, 2016. Robert Kagan is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributing columnist for The Post. Why didn’t party leaders stand up and try to stop Trump earlier, while there was still time? But how could they have? Trump was feeding off forces in the party they had helped nurture and that they hoped to ride into power. Some of those Republican leaders and pundits now calling for a counterrevolution against Trump were not so long ago welcoming his contribution to the debate.

The politicians running against him and now facing oblivion were loath to attack him before because they feared alienating his supporters. Instead, they attacked one another, clawing at each other’s faces as they one by one slipped over the cliff. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie got his last deadly lick in just before he plummeted — at Trump? No, at Rubio. (And now, as his final service to party and nation, he has endorsed Trump.) Jeb Bush spent millions upon millions in his hopeless race, but against whom? Not Trump.

So what to do now? The Republicans’ creation will soon be let loose on the land, leaving to others the job the party failed to carry out. For this former Republican, and perhaps for others, the only choice will be to vote for Hillary Clinton. The party cannot be saved, but the country still can be.

Huffington Post, A Perfect Storm: Judicial Bias, Prosecutorial Misconduct, and a Death Sentence, Bennett L. Gershman, Feb. 25, 2016. Bennett Gershman is a professor of law at Pace University and author of the book, "Prosecutorial Misconduct." Next Monday, the Supreme Court will consider whether the constitution is violated if the chief judge on the highest court of the state refuses to disqualify himself in a death penalty appeal where he was the chief prosecutor who authorized the defendant's death sentence, obtained the death sentence through his office's misconduct, and campaigned for the judgeship by showcasing how many people he put on death row, including the defendant.

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

President Obama meets Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdorgan, now that nation's president, on Dec. 7, 2009 (White House Photo)

OpEdNews, Et tu Barack? The End of Turkey's Little Erdogan, Michael Collins, Feb. 25, 2016. If Erdogan and his advisors seriously believe that they can publicly blackmail a superpower like the USA then their days are numbered. Apparently, Turkish President Erdogan and his cronies failed to get the memo. They continue to insist that the United States label as terrorists the Kurdish fighters of northern Syria known as the YPG. The YPG and the Syrian Arab Army are the only two ground forces fighting ISIS. The Kurdish YPG fighters are mopping the floor with the barbarians and control nearly the entire border region between Turkey and Syria. Even so, the Turkish government insists that the U.S. is either for Turkey by labeling the YPG as terrorists or against Turkey by supporting YPG's efforts against ISIS.

Erdogan's defiance is not just blatantly insubordinate and disrespectful; it poses a clear risk of exposing the truth about the destruction of a people and a nation on the basis of a whim -- 'Assad must go.'

Feb. 24

"We've had so many people [in government] who are controlled," said GOP presidential contender Ben Carson Feb. 24 at a Fox News Town Hall in Houston. "They are either at the puppet part the string, or at the puppet master part."

Ben Carson NPC Oct. 8, 2015Fox News, GOP Candidates Face TX Voters in 2-Hour 'Kelly File' Town Hall, Megyn Kelley, Feb. 24, 2016. Comment by GOP contender Ben Carson:  [Justice Integrity Project photo of Ben Carson at National Press Club on Oct. 8, 2015.]

Washington Post, Justice Scalia spent his last hours with members of this secretive society of elite hunters, Amy Brittain and Sari Horwitz, Feb. 24, 2016. High-ranking members of the elite hunting society, St. Hubertus, were staying at Cibolo Creek Ranch at the same time as Justice Scalia in the days leading up to his death.

John Poindexter

Here's what you need to know about the group. When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died 11 days ago at a West Texas ranch, he was among high-ranking members of an exclusive fraternity for hunters called the International Order of St. Hubertus, an Austrian society that dates back to the 1600s. After Scalia’s death Feb. 13, the names of the 35 other guests at the remote resort, along with details about Scalia’s connection to the hunters, have remained largely unknown. A review of public records shows that some of the men who were with Scalia at the ranch are connected through the International Order of St. Hubertus, whose members gathered at least once before at the same ranch for a celebratory weekend.

Members of the worldwide, male-only society wear dark-green robes emblazoned with a large cross and the motto “Deum Diligite Animalia Diligentes,” which means “Honoring God by honoring His creatures,” according to the group’s website. Cibolo Creek Ranch owner John Poindexter (shown in a file photo) and C. Allen Foster, a prominent Washington lawyer who traveled to the ranch with Scalia by private plane, hold leadership positions within the Order. It is unclear what, if any, official association Scalia had with the group.

Washington Post, Billionaire leaves rivals trailing far behind in third straight victory, Philip Rucker and David Weigel, Feb. 24, 2016. Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz fell short despite aggressive campaigning, underscoring the challenge for them to slow Donald Trump’s momentum heading into next week’s critical Super Tuesday. The breadth of Trump’s support was staggering, with Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Ted Cruz (Tex.) running more than 20 percentage points behind him in second and third place respectively, despite their aggressive campaigning across Nevada in the closing days.

Totals via Associated Press, with 100 percent reporting: Trump (shown in photo by Gage Skidmore): 45.9%, Rubio 23.9%, Cruz 21.4%, Carson 4.8%, Kasich 3.6%.

Huffington Post, With Nevada In The Bag, Donald Trump Barrels Toward The GOP Nomination, Christina Wilkie, Feb. 24, 2016. How the West was Trumped. Billionaire real estate investor and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump easily swept the Nevada Republican caucuses on Tuesday. Trump's victory raises serious questions about whether any of his Republican rivals can catch up to his lead in delegates, or match his momentum going into the Super Tuesday contest on March 1.

Bill Shuster 2005Politico, Shuster lounges poolside with airline lobbyists as he pursues FAA bill, Anna Palmer, Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan, Feb. 24, 2016. It's the latest example of the Transportation Committee chairman's coziness with the airline industry. On Feb. 10, Nick Calio, head of the nation’s top airline trade group, Airlines for America, testified before Rep. Bill Shuster’s House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The topic was a top priority for both men: A bill to overhaul the Federal Aviation Administration, most controversially by putting air traffic control in the hands of an entity favorable to the airlines.

Two days later, Shuster’s committee approved the measure. And the week after that, Shuster (shown in a 2005 photo) and Calio escaped to Miami Beach, Florida, with Shelley Rubino, an Airlines for America vice president who is Shuster’s girlfriend…. It’s the most recent example of Shuster’s cozy relationship with the powerful airline association. His panel has jurisdiction over the $160 billion U.S. airline industry.”

Southfront, International Military Review – Syria, Staff report, Feb. 24, 2016 (video 2 mins.). Heavy clashes are ongoing in several points along the Khanasser-Aleppo road and the Sheikh Hilal-Ithriyah road, including the town of Khanasser captured by ISIS in the recent days. A coordination center to reconcile the implementation of the ceasefire among warring parties in Syria has been launched at the Khmeimim airbase. The coordination center will monitor the various sides’ compliance with the expected ceasefire. Russia has handed over the hotline contact to the U.S.

Washington Post, Republican governor of Nevada Brian Sandoval being considered for Supreme Court, Mike DeBonis and Juliet Eilperin, Feb. 24, 2016. Top Senate Republicans vowed Wednesday to continue Brian Sandovalblocking President Obama’s nomination to the Supreme Court ahead of November’s presidential election, even if Obama chooses the Republican governor of Nevada to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Brian Sandoval, a centrist former federal judge who has served as governor since 2011, is among the Supreme Court candidates under White House consideration, according to two people familiar with the selection process. Some key Democrats view Sandoval (shown in an official photo) as perhaps the only nominee President Obama could select who would be able to break a Republican blockade in the Senate. But after the Washington Post published news of Sandoval’s consideration Wednesday, GOP leaders insisted that Obama nominating a Republican would make no difference.

Reporters Without Borders, Turkey: Dilek Dündar in Washington: "We hope that Can and Erdem will be released," Staff report, Feb. 24, 2016. Today Reporters Without Borders (RSF) held a panel discussion in Flag of TurkeyWashington on Turkey’s crackdown on journalists, focusing on Can Dündar and Erdem Gül’s detention.

Can’s wife, Dilek Dündar, investigative journalist for the Washington Post Dana Priest, Hürriyet’s Washington DC correspondent Tolga Tanis, the New York Times investigative journalist James Risen, and award-winning investigative journalist Carl Bernstein were featured on the panel.

The event demonstrates solidarity of the US journalism community with the current situation in Turkey. During Dilek Dündar’s trip to Washington, DC, she met with US government officials, members of Congress, and journalists in order to raise awareness about her husband’s case. She said she “hope[s] for an independent decision from Turkey’s Constitutional court and that Can and Erdem will be released soon.”

Turkey’s Constitutional court is expected to decide tomorrow whether or not to release Can and Erdem while they await their trial, set to begin March 25. Turkey is ranked 149th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. In a video message broadcast at this morning’s event, the investigative journalist Carl Bernstein remarked that Turkey has “instituted a methodical crackdown on the media, using the smokescreen of terrorism to justify the arrest and detention of numerous distinguished journalists whose only crimes have been the pursuit of the truth.”

Washington Post, Scalia’s traveling companion in Texas was a prominent Washington lawyer, Jerry Markon, Feb. 24, 2016. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s traveling companion at the Texas ranch where he died is a longtime Washington lawyer who has represented the Republican Party and shared a love of food, wine and hunting with the late conservative justice. C. Allen Foster had been the subject of mystery in the days after Scalia’s body was found Feb. 13 inside a ranch bedroom. Authorities said Scalia had traveled to the luxury Cibolo Creek Ranch with a friend but they repeatedly declined to identify him.

A Texas sheriff’s department on Wednesday confirmed that Foster was the man who had flown on a chartered aircraft with Scalia, arriving at a private airport near the ranch the day before Scalia was found dead. A sheriff’s incident report on the investigation described him as a “a close friend of Scalia” and said that he, along with the ranch owner and manager, took Presidio County Sheriff Danny Dominguez to the room where Scalia died.

Foster, a 74-year-old Louisiana native, is a prominent lawyer in Washington. In 1993, he went before the Supreme Court to argue a case on behalf of Hispanic Republicans in Florida who said the state’s reapportionment plan diluted their voting strength. During the argument, Scalia didn’t spare Foster, asking him tough questions he was known for flinging at lawyers from the bench. “I don’t understand,’’ Scalia said at one point. “I had thought that the whole name of the game in trying to maximize the racial vote is not to keep neighborhoods together, but to keep only so many of them together as will give you 51 percent of the vote.’’

Foster could barely get off a fumbling response amid Scalia’s interruptions. The court ruled that voting rights had not been diluted. Scalia, along with Justice Clarence Thomas, dissented on procedural grounds. It is not clear when Scalia and Foster became friends. Legal specialists said the trip Scalia and Foster took to the Texas ranch raised no ethical concerns, calling it common for judges to socialize with lawyers in the close-knit fraternity of elite legal practitioners. Only if Foster had a pending case before the Supreme Court, they said, would there have been an issue. “You can’t say ‘I’m not going on a trip with my friend because he may someday be a party in a case before the Supreme Court,’ ’’ said Stephen Gillers, an expert on legal and judicial ethics at New York University law school. Told that Foster’s sole argument before the court had been in 1993, Gillers said: “Twenty years ago? It’s not even close. Lawyers wouldn’t blink at that.’’

Despite having a famous friend, Foster has mostly stayed out of the news. Over the years, his eclectic group of clients has included the Republican Party, the libertarian Cato Institute, plaintiffs enslaved by Japanese corporations during World War II, and the former Blackwater Security Consulting, which was involved in a series of questionable incidents, including a 2007 shootout in Iraq that killed 17 Iraqis.

Breitbart, Roger Stone Responds: CNN’s ‘Ban Is Really About My Book On the Clintons,’ John Nolte, Feb. 24, 2016. “I’ve only been on CNN three times since August, so it’s not a real ban,” veteran political Roger Stone CNN appearance operative and one-time advisor to Republican frontrunner Donald Trump told Breitbart News in a Wednesday morning interview. “CNN never called me. I was blindsided,” Stone added. “This is a private transaction between Media Matters and CNN.”

“A cable news network that folds on the demands of the Clintonistas on who and who not to interview is not an unbiased news organization,” Stone tweeted Tuesday, after learning of the ban like the rest of us did — through the news media. The “ban” was announced Tuesday in a statement from CNN to Media Matters, the result of a series of Stone tweets that attacked CNN commenter Ana Navarro as a “moron,” “borderline retarded,” and a “Bush stooge.”

“Black beans and rice didn’t miss her,” Stone tweeted of the Hispanic Navarro back in October of 2011. Also targeted was then-CNN commenter Roland Martin, a black man.  “Who is this stupid negro Roland Martin? Buffoon or token Buffoon?,” Stone tweeted in November of 2012. Another Stone tweet addressed to Martin reads, “Who made you God, Fattass? Eat some more Popeye’s.”

When asked about the tweets, Stone said, “I’ve done many controversial things through the years. The point I wanted to make is that these people are not qualified for those jobs.” Columnist Ann Coulter, who Stone calls a “buddy,” responded to news of the ban by pointing out that establishment Republican consultant Rick Wilson “is still an honored guest at CNN” after he used “Twitter to ask me [about] anal sex w/ Trump.” “Yes, this ban is really about my book on the Clintons,” Stone believes.

That book is really under the skin of The Clinton News Network [CNN]. They know it’s the oppo-dump that that will beat Hillary. [Media Matters founder] David Brock wants my book silenced. I expose Bill Clinton as a rapist and Hillary as his accessory after the fact in these sex crimes. We found Bill’s illegitimate black son. Black Lives Matter to the Clinton unless you are Clinton’s son. Brock is afraid of all this.

“Starting with Nixon, this is my ninth presidential campaign, so the loser here is CNN,” Stone said. “CNN is losing my depth of knowledge and unique perspective about the current-Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.”

Feb. 23

CBS, Syrian regime agrees to truce deal, Staff report, Feb, 23, 2016. The Syrian government said Tuesday that it had accepted a proposed truce in the country, adding that operations would nevertheless continue against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al Qaeda's branch in Syria. A Foreign Ministry statement on Tuesday said government forces would have the right to respond to any violation carried out by insurgents.

Tax Wall Street Party, Russian-Us Joint Statement On Syria Brings Hope To End Fighting, Webster G. Tarpley (shown in file photo), Feb. 23, 2016. In a positive development for the world situation, the United States and the Webster TarpleyRussian Federation on Monday announced the detailed timetable of their plan for a cessation of hostilities in Syria. Hostilities are scheduled to cease at midnight Friday US eastern time among those forces who have informed the US or Russia twelve hours earlier of their intention of respecting the cease-fire.

The accord cleverly establishes that parties to the conflict who do not opt in to the peace process will have opted out of it, and may come under immediate military attack. The terror group known as ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh/Caliphate is excluded from the accord and will be continue to be pounded. The same goes for al Nusra, a branch of the criminal al Qaeda organization.

The Russian-US statement talks about the “cessation of hostilities,” a concept which is broader and more comprehensive than a cease-fire. The authority to deal with violations, claimed violations, and other incidents is largely in the hands of the Russian and US representatives, meaning that the influence of Jeffrey Feltman, the de facto boss of the United Nations Secretariat, and of UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, has been reduced.

Washington Post, Sheriff’s report reveals new details about Scalia’s death at remote ranch, Amy Brittain and Sari Horwitz, Feb. 23, 2016. Antonin Scalia's body was found in bed with a pillowcase over his eyes, Antonin Scalia Supreme Court photobut the sheriff noted that the position of the pillow “did not seem to have inhibited Scalia's breathing. Read the Texas sheriff’s report.

Washington Post, Republicans vow no hearings and no votes for Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Mike DeBonis and Paul Kane, Feb. 23, 2016. Senate Republicans on Tuesday united behind an official position on how to deal with President Obama’s expected nominee to replace the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia: no hearings, no votes and no new justice until Obama is out of office. “Presidents have a right to nominate, just as the Senate has its constitutional right to provide or withhold consent,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a morning floor speech. “In this case, the Senate will withhold it.”

That declaration was underscored after McConnell held a closed-door meeting with Republicans sitting on the Senate Judiciary Committee. All 11 GOP panel members subsequently signed a letter pledging not to hold hearings on any replacement for Scalia until a new president is inaugurated.

Their decision not to act, they said, was “based on constitutional principle and born of a necessity to protect the will of the American people.” But Republican senators have also been emboldened in recent days by past statements from Democratic senators arguing against confirming the judicial nominees of Republican presidents in election years.

Washington Post, Aides’ email-server testimony could throw Clinton campaign a curveball, Spencer S. Hsu and Rosalind S. Helderman, Feb. 23, 2016. A judge ordered that State Department officials and members of the her inner circle be questioned under oath to determine whether her arrangement thwarted open-records laws.

Politico Europe, Why the Arabs don’t want us in Syria, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Feb. 23, 2016. They don’t hate ‘our freedoms.’ They hate that we’ve betrayed our ideals in their own countries — for oil. In part because my father was murdered by an Arab, I’ve made an effort to understand the impact of U.S. policy in the Mideast and particularly the factors that sometimes motivate bloodthirsty responses from the Islamic world against our country. As we focus on the rise of the Islamic State and search for the source of the savagery that took so many innocent lives in Paris and San Bernardino, we might want to look beyond the convenient explanations of religion and ideology. Instead we should examine the more complex rationales of history and oil — and how they often point the finger of blame back at our own shores.

America’s unsavory record of violent interventions in Syria — little-known to the American people yet well-known to Syrians — sowed fertile ground for the violent Islamic jihadism that now complicates any effective response by our government to address the challenge of ISIL. So long as the American public and policymakers are unaware of this past, further interventions are likely only to compound the crisis. Secretary of State John Kerry this week announced a “provisional” ceasefire in Syria.

But since U.S. leverage and prestige within Syria is minimal — and the ceasefire doesn’t include key combatants such as Islamic State and al Nusra — it’s bound to be a shaky truce at best. Similarly President Obama’s stepped-up military intervention in Libya — U.S. airstrikes targeted an Islamic State training camp last week — is likely to strengthen rather than weaken the radicals. As the New York Times reported in a December 8, 2015, front-page story, Islamic State political leaders and strategic planners are working to provoke an American military intervention. They know from experience this will flood their ranks with volunteer fighters, drown the voices of moderation and unify the Islamic world against America.

Media Matters, CNN: Trump Supporter Roger Stone "Will No Longer Appear On" Network, Eric Hananoki and Joe Strupp, Feb. 23, 2016. CNN has pledged to stop booking Donald Trump supporter and regular Roger Stoneguest Roger Stone after he wrote a series of incendiary tweets against network personalities. In a statement released today to Media Matters, a CNN spokesperson said of Stone: "He will no longer appear on CNN."  

Stone recently co-authored The Clintons' War on Women. The 2015 book is dedicated to -- and cites research from -- a Holocaust denier who blames a "Jewish plot" for the 9/11 attacks. Stone's history includes forming an anti-Hillary Clinton group named "C.U.N.T." during the 2008 election.

Stone worked for Trump's presidential campaign last year and is now organizing against Clinton's campaign again. He is a frequent presence in the media because of his long ties to Trump; their friendship and professional relationship goes back decades. The Republican consultant had become a favorite guest on the network, appearing on CNN seven times in the last month. Stone has regularly lobbed sexist and racial attacks against politicians and members of the media, including current and former CNN personalities.

Ring of Fire via YouTube, Historically Stupid Marco Rubio Still Has A Shot At Being Nominee, Mike Papantonio with Farron Cousins, the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine, Feb. 23, 2016 (video 6:24 min.). When you really look at Marco Rubio, you begin to get the sense that he’s really not all there.

OpEdNews, The Deregulation Swindle: The Public Is Being Looted By Privatization And Deregulation, Paul Craig Roberts, Feb. 23, 2016. The privatization movement and the deregulation movement have turned out to be failures. Today privatization is a way that governments can reward cronies by giving them valuable public resources for a low price. When the UK government privatized the postal system, there were news reports that one postal property in London alone was worth the purchase price of the entire postal service.

Privatization is also a way that conservatives, who object to social pensions and national health, can stop "taxpayer support of welfare." In the US conservatives want to privatize Social Security and Medicare. In the UK conservatives want to privatize the National Health System. The case for privatization and deregulation needs to be reexamined in light of the evidence and the real reasons they are being pursued.

Feb. 22Barack Obama, Scott Walker, Peter Shumlin, Joe Biden, Feb. 22, 2016President Barack Obama talks with Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., and Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vt., left, as Vice President Joe Biden talks in the background with Gov. Kate Brown, D-Ore., following their event with the National Governors Association in the State Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 22, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)

Politico, Judge seems skeptical of call to block voter proof-of-citizenship requirement, Josh Gerstein, Feb. 22, 2016. A federal judge sounded skeptical Monday about a request from voting and civil rights' groups Richard Leonto block a federal official's decision to embrace requirements in three states that new voters submit proof that they're U.S. citizens. During a 90-minute hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon (shown in a file photo) repeatedly asked about past and upcoming registration deadlines in Alabama, Georgia and Kansas, suggested that the parties who brought suit earlier this month may have acted too slowly and seemed focused on the fact that only a small percentage of voters register in any given year.

Huffington Post, Actually, Ted Cruz Does Want To Round Up Every Undocumented Immigrant, Nick Visser, Feb, 22, 2016. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has taken a page from Donald Trump's Ted Cruz presidential buttonpresidential campaign playbook, hardening his rhetoric against undocumented immigrants. Cruz told Fox News host Bill O'Reilly on Monday that yes, should he be elected president, his administration would deport all 12 million undocumented people estimated to be in the U.S. and wouldn't allow them to return.

Cruz said America would build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, triple the border force and establish biometric entry systems "so we will know the day someone overstays their visa." The senator's comments represent an escalation in rhetoric from a candidate who rejected the notion of a "deportation force" of "jackboots" just last month, and lambasted the idea after it was proposed by GOP front-runner Trump. Cruz in January said such a policy would reflect "a police state," adding, "That's not how we enforce the law for any crime."

Huffington Post, Ted Cruz Asks Senior Aide To Step Down After Spreading False Report About Marco Rubio, Igor Bobic and Amanda Terkel, Feb. 22, 2016. Cruz said Tyler had "committed a grave error of judgment." Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) announced Monday he had asked for the resignation of his senior communications director, Rick Tyler, for spreading a false report about Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). 

The Texas senator said Tyler was "a good man" but that he had "committed a grave error of judgment" and that "even if it was true, our campaign should not have sent it." Tyler has been engaged in some of the Cruz campaign's most embarrassing missteps, fueling criticisms that the outfit is engaged in dirty tricks. On Monday, Tyler apologized for distributing a video that inaccurately depicted presidential contender Rubio as dismissing the Bible.

Intercept, Emails Show Hillary Clinton Aides Celebrating F-15 Sales to Saudi Arabia: “Good News,”  Lee Fang, Feb. 22, 2016. The shockingly brutal Saudi air campaign in Yemen has been led by American-made Hillary ClintonF-15 jet fighters. The indiscriminate bombing of civilians and rescuers from the air has prompted human rights organizations to claim that some Saudi-led strikes on Yemen may amount to war crimes. At least 2,800 civilians have been killed in the conflict so far, according to the United Nations — mostly by airstrikes. The strikes have killed journalists and ambulance drivers.

The planes, made by Boeing, have been implicated in the bombing of three facilities supported by Doctors Without Borders (Médicins Sans Frontières). The U.N. Secretary General has decried “intense airstrikes in residential areas and on civilian buildings in Sanaa, including the chamber of commerce, a wedding hall, and a center for the blind,” and has warned that reports of cluster bombs being used in populated areas “may amount to a war crime due to their indiscriminate nature.” Bombs dropped by fighter jets are pulverizing Yemen’s architectural history, possibly in violation of international humanitarian law. A few years earlier, as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton made weapons transfer to the Saudi government a “top priority,” according to her closest military aide.

Antonin Scalia seat draped in black Supreme Court photo

Politico, Supreme Court resumes without Scalia, Josh Gerstein, Feb. 22, 2016. The Supreme Court resumed its public work Monday as Chief Justice John Roberts (shown in an official photo) paid a public tribute to Justice Antonin Scalia, who died unexpectedly just over a week ago during a visit to a Texas ranch. As the remaining eight justices took the bench for the first time since Scalia's death, his chair was vacant and black wool crepe was draped over the spot he occupied as recently as a month ago.

John RobertsThe attorney arguing for the voter and civil rights groups, Michael Keats, pulled no punches in his presentation arguing that federal Election Assistance Commission executive director Brian Newby exceeded his authority and acted arbitrarily when he granted requests from the three states to change a federal motor voter form's instructions to include those states' demands for proof of citizenship at the time of registration.

The Saker, Turkey is screwed. And it’s all US fault, Arras, Feb. 22, 2016. Amid rising tensions between Turkey and Russia over the situation in Syria, one important fact got lost. It’s not Russia that caused the current Turkish problems. It was the USA.

The most fundamental problem modern Turkey is facing is the Kurdish question. It’s a chronic problem, which threatens the integrity of Turkey. The change from the so-called policy of zero problems with neighbors, which Erdogan and his government used to promote, came as a surprise to many and is directly related to the Kurdish issue and the events in Iraq after the disastrous U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Rolling Stone, Donald Trump Attacks Chicago Cubs' Ownership, James Montgomery, Feb. 22, 2016. GOP frontrunner goes after the Ricketts family for "secretly spending $ against me." Maybe he's actually a Cardinals fan? Having just cleaned up in South Carolina, forced Jeb Bush to Charlie Brown Shuffle his way of the presidential race and made Westeros great again, Donald Trump has turned the full force of his perma-tanned fury toward another unlikely foe: The Chicago Cubs. To be clear, Trump isn't totally taking on the Cubbies, but rather, their owners, the Ricketts family, who bought a majority share of the team in 2009. Seems the Donald is furious that Marlene Ricketts, wife of billionaire J. Joe Ricketts, had contributed a reported $3 million to a super PAC that had been hammering the GOP frontrunner with negative ads ahead of the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries.

Southfront, Why is Aleppo important for Turkey?  Predrag Ćeranić, translated by A. Đurić, Feb. 22, 2016. Turkey made plans along with the Gulf countries about new energy routes and selling exclusively Sunni Flag of Turkeyoil and gas to western countries and China. Turkey plans to establish a “buffer zone” in northern Syria alongside its border.

Care about the “moderate rebels” was just a cover for Turkey to provide a route for the [energy] corridor. Turkey made it clear to EU that, if it is forced to open borders [again] for migrants, about a million of them could be on way to Greece or Bulgaria. The focus of Turkey’s worries now are refugees from Aleppo. Why? Because the trio of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar see the high economic possibilities in the pipeline which would go from Qatar via Saudi Arabia to Syria and through Aleppo and Turkey to the EU. 

Feb. 21

Newsmax, Trump Won With 'Falwell Factor' in South Carolina, Christopher Ruddy, Feb. 21, 2016. Christopher Ruddy is CEO and editor of Newsmax Media Inc. Donald Trump’s big win Saturday night falls largely on the shoulders of the son of the late great Jerry Falwell Sr. After New Hampshire, I wrote Trump would "march South" triumphant, leaving that moderate, independent-leaning New England state and do surprising well in conservative, evangelical South Carolina. There were some doubters. Cruz had done exceptionally well in Iowa, due to the evangelical voters. But Falwell, a Southern Baptist, and his Liberty University, the South's leading evangelical university, would weigh more significantly with evangelical voters in the Palmetto State, I argued.

And the exit polls prove that Trump won South Carolina because of a seismic shift of evangelical voters away from Cruz to the billionaire. This key reversal of Christian conservative voters in favor of Trump, as well as his dominance with veterans, led to his landslide victory in South Carolina last night. On March 1, Super Tuesday should all be favorable terrain for Donald Trump thanks to the same "Falwell Factor" that brought him victory Saturday. 

CNN, Rubio on a Romney endorsement "I have no reason to believe that he's anywhere near endorsing anyone," Jake Tapper, Feb. 21, 2016. Today on CNN’s State of the Union, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), joined anchor, Jake Tapper. TAPPER “There's a report this morning that Mitt Romney will endorse you this week. What would an endorsement from Mr. Romney mean to you?” 

RUBIO:  “Well, that report is false. I have no reason to believe that he's anywhere near endorsing anyone. We would love to have his endorsement."

Huffington Post, Exclusive: Mitt Romney To Endorse Marco Rubio, Scott Conroy, Feb. 21, 2016. In a major development in the Republican presidential race, 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney will endorse Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) for president, the Huffington Post has learned from two Republican sources. The sources said that the former Massachusetts governor had been eager to provide his backing to Rubio for days but had hesitated, due to his respect for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), who suspended his campaign on Saturday night following his dismal fourth-place showing in the South Carolina primary.

 

Syria Homs Bombing Feb. 21, 2016Zero Hedge, Multiple Suicide Attacks Rock Shiite Strongholds In Syria; Dozens Killed, Hundreds Wounded, Tyler Durden, Feb. 21, 2016. "We have reached a provisional agreement in principle on the terms of a cessation of hostilities that could begin in the coming days,” John Kerry said on Sunday at a news conference in Amman with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh. Kerry was in contact with Sergei Lavrov today and the two diplomats reportedly agreed on “the modalities” for a ceasefire -- whatever that means.

Although this is being reported by both the Western and Russian media as though it marks some kind of turning point, Russia again reiterated that any deal won’t include “the terrorists” and Moscow’s list of “terrorists” in Syria is a bit longer than Washington’s list. While Lavrov indicated that The Kremlin would refer to the UN Security Council’s list of terrorist groups, the situation on the ground is so fluid in Syria that it’s fairly easy to target whomever you please and claim there were terrorists in the area because frankly, there are terrorists, militants, and Sunni extremists virtually everywhere.

Indeed, efforts to curtail the fighting are off to a rather inauspicious start. 46 people were killed in Homs on Sunday after two car bombs hit the city center's Zahra district. Charred bodies lay smoldering in the wreckage and more than 100 injured bystanders stumbled through the streets, shell shocked. Although no one immediately claimed responsibility, ISIS is the likely culprit. The group killed 26 people in Homs less than a month ago in a similar attack.

USA Today, Harry Reid delivers for Hillary Clinton, Jon Ralston, Feb. 21, 2016. Nevada's 'neutral' power players may have saved a campaign and changed history. I’d like to congratulate the winner of the Nevada Democratic caucuses: Harry Reid.What’s that, you say? The Senate Democratic leader wasn’t running? What am I talking about?

Last Saturday may well have been the day that altered the course of the Democratic presidential race — when Hillary Clinton blunted Bernie Sanders’ campaign. After she was forced to work as hard as she ever has for a week (with a little help from a lot of friends), she was sling-shotted with new momentum into South Carolina's primary this Saturday and Super Tuesday on March 1. Nevada could indeed prove to be the contest that saved Clinton’s campaign. But the caucuses, which Clinton won by about 5 percentage points, also cemented Prince Harry as a man Machiavelli would have bowed to, a man with one eye who still sees the field better and is still more dangerous, effective and cunning than any pol the state (the country?) has ever seen. Clinton might not have won Nevada if Reid had not interceded last week, when the man feigning neutrality saw what everyone in the Democratic elite saw: Sanders erasing a once mountainous lead and on the verge of perhaps winning Nevada and rendering inoperative the “Hillary is more electable” argument.

Breitbart, Rahm Emanuel Partners in Wrigley Field Development Deal Donate $5 million to Anti-Trump PAC, Warner Todd Huston, Feb. 21, 2016. A Chicago-based family of billionaires, with close ties to Chicago mayor and former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, were revealed as the secret donors behind a series of anti-Donald Trump advertisements. A report from the Federal Election Commission, revealing donors to the Our Principles PAC, shows Chicago’s Marlene Ricketts was the single biggest donor to the group headed by former Mitt Romney adviser Katie Packer.

According to The Hill, the PAC spent up to $4 million fighting Donald Trump in the first three GOP primary states. As this primary cycle began, the Ricketts gave $5 million to a super PAC supporting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s now failed bid for the White House. The family also gave ten thousand each to PACs working to elect both Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Now the FED report reveals that Ricketts gave an additional $3 million to the anti-Trump PAC. The Ricketts family are the owners of the Chicago Cubs and recently reached what many local residents feel is a sweetheart $500 million deal with Chicago Mayor Emanuel to renovate the Cubs’s Wrigley Field, the second oldest stadium in Major League Baseball.

Feb. 20

Donald Trump Gage Skidmore photo CPAC conventionWashington Post, Trump projected to win South Carolina GOP primary, Philip Rucker, Robert Costa and Mike DeBonis, Feb. 20, 2016. Donald Trump was projected to win the South Carolina primary on Saturday night, sustaining his position as the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. Trump prevailed after a rocky week on the campaign trail by tapping into the frustrations and anxieties of voters here with his red-hot rhetoric about combating terrorism and ending illegal immigration, brushing aside what appeared to be a condemnation from Pope Francis.

While exit polling made Trump’s victory apparent soon after polling places closed, the size of his victory will be closely watched as ballots are counted Saturday. The margins between Trump and the next two candidates — likely Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida — could recast the race going into the 13 “Super Tuesday” contests on March 1. The Associated Press projected that Trump would win the South Carolina race. Rubio and Cruz were battling for second place in early results. Only South Carolina’s Republicans voted Jeb Bush ....No More BushSaturday; Democrats will vote Feb. 27.

JIP Editor's Note: Trump is shown in file photo by Gage Skidmore. With 100 percent of the South Carolina vote counted, Trump was winning 32.5 percent with Marco Rubio narrowly ahead of Ted Cruz for second place with 22.5 percent in a record GOP turnout there. Jeb Bush edged John Kasich for fourth place with nearly 8 percent, narrowly ahead of Ben Carson.

Because of GOP rules, Trump was poised to win all of the state's 50 delegates. Rubio, backed by Gov. Nikki Haley and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, split with Cruz nearly all the major endorsements of GOP office holders. But Trump won both the state and congressional district totals, and thus the delegates.

Bush announced that he will suspend his campaign, as his wife Columba sobbed at his side. Ben Carson announced that he would continue the race. The GOP caucuses for Nevada are Feb. 23.

Washington Post, Clinton beats Sanders in Nev., John Wagner, David Weigel and Mike DeBonis, Feb. 20, 2016. Former secretary of state  Hillary Clinton held off a powerful late challenge from rival Sen. Bernie Sanders in Nevada’s Democratic caucus vote Saturday, securing with a 52.5-47.4 margin a narrow victory that could help her renew a claim to the mantle of presumptive Democratic nominee.

Jeb Bush Celebrity News photoHuffington Post, Jeb Bush Flops In South Carolina, Suspends Presidential Campaign, Scott Conroy, Feb. 20, 2016. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) suspended his campaign after a disappointing finish in the South Carolina primary on Saturday, ending a dismal presidential campaign that was built to “shock and awe” his opponents but barely made them flinch. 

New York Times, Bush Is Humbled As Party Lines Shift, Ashley Parker and Michael Barbaro, Feb. 20, 2016. In what turned out to be the year of the unconventional outsider, Mr. Bush conducted his campaign as the conventional insider.   

 

Antonin Scalia Public Domain file photo

Washington Post, Antonin Scalia’s funeral reflects the justice’s life of faith, Robert Barnes, Feb. 20, 2016. Justice Antonin Scalia was prayerfully offered up by his son Paul and Washington’s political and legal elite Saturday in a formal but simple funeral Mass in the American Catholic Church’s grandest venue. Vice President Biden, all of the living Supreme Court justices with whom Scalia served save one, congressional leaders and the city’s legal establishment were among the thousands who attended the ceremony in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Washington Archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl welcomed the crowd to the largest Catholic church in North America, and he drew laughter when he said it was a proper setting for the Scalia family’s request for a “simple family parish Mass.” An angelic-sounding choir and scores of white-robed priests filled the massive chamber.

World Socialist Web Site, Antonin Scalia’s death during secret junket points to new ethical violations, John Burton, Feb. 20, 2016. Antonin Scalia died as he lived, indulging behind closed doors in the largess of the very wealthy, who could depend on the right-wing associate justice to defend their interests in the United States Supreme Court. The nauseating praise for Scalia as a towering judicial figure is exposed as all the more dishonest and absurd by the still emerging circumstances of his passing.

On Friday, February 12, the start of the Supreme Court’s annual week-long President’s Day recess, Scalia (shown above in a public domain file photo) took a chartered jet from Washington, D.C., accompanied by an unidentified lawyer friend, to the exclusive Cibolo Creek Ranch in the Chinati Mountains of West Texas, near the Mexican border. U.S. marshals assigned as Scalia’s bodyguards were told not to make the trip.

John B. Poindexter, a former commanding officer in Vietnam who now controls a Houston manufacturing empire with multiple subsidiaries, taking in total annual revenues of close to $1 billion and employing 5,000 people, bought the 30,000-acre property in 1988. He renovated its three adobe forts, which date back to 1857, turning them into plush accommodations for a high-end resort. Among the guests seeking seclusion in the lap of luxury at Cibolo Creek Ranch that have been identified by the press are Mick Jagger, Bruce Willis, a variety of businesspeople and “European royalty.”

This episode pulls back the curtain a bit on how big financial interests have been pulling the strings in the Supreme Court.

John PoindexterPoindexter (shown in a file photo) confirmed to the Washington Post that Scalia was not going to pay for his stay at Cibolo Creek Ranch. “He was an invited guest, along with a friend, just like 35 others,” Poindexter said. According to media sources, Poindexter hosts gatherings two or three times a year.

Last year, James Hinga, a 76-year-old machinist for MIC Group, one of Poindexter’s companies, filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking review of a lower-court decision that summarily dismissed his claim that he was fired based on pretexts because of his age. Scalia participated in the October 5, 2015 decision denying review, thus ending the case in Poindexter’s favor. Scalia’s acceptance of gifts worth several thousands of dollars so soon after ruling in a party’s favor is a clear violation of judicial ethics.

Other significant ethical questions remain unanswered a full week later. Poindexter maintains that he did not pay for Scalia’s chartered jet. There is no indication yet whose pocket that money came from, but one can be assured that it did not come from Scalia’s own.

Similarly, it is not yet known whether Scalia’s companion, or any of the 35 other Cibolo Creek Ranch guests, similarly had matters pending before the Supreme Court, because none of these witnesses to the circumstances of Scalia’s death have been identified.

This silence itself suggests that Poindexter and the others may have something to hide. This is not the only time Scalia has been caught hobnobbing during private hunting junkets with people who had vested interests in his actions as a Supreme Court justice. He was, in addition to being an arch reactionary who consistently ruled in opposition to democratic rights, a thoroughly corrupt individual who flaunted his corruption.

Scalia’s practice of slipping away from Washington, unannounced, all expenses paid, to socialize for days in private, intimate settings with selected people who have business either before or affected by the Supreme Court epitomizes how justice in the United States is dispensed. It highlights the role of a social layer that is profoundly hostile to democratic principles and feels itself in no way bound by traditional political methods or legal prescriptions.

Politico, Scalia family largely absent during Obama visit, Josh Gerstein, Feb. 20, 2016. Most of late Justice Antonin Scalia's family was absent Friday afternoon when President Barack Obama visited with a handful of Scalia's kin at the Supreme Court. Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama met "briefly" with Scalia's son Matthew, his wife Michelle and their children, court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said. Scalia's widow Maureen was not in attendance at the meeting, which took place in the Solicitor General's office at the high court. That office sits just off the court's Great Hall, where Justice Scalia laid in repose as mourners paid their respects throughout the day Friday.

Washington Post, Alarms were raised before Va. officials accepted use of Redskins box, Laura Vozzella, Feb. 20, 2016. State economic-development officials raised ethical flags before Virginia’s secretary of commerce watched a Washington Redskins playoff game from the team’s luxury box, according to newly released emails that also show that his last-minute effort to fill the suite with business prospects fell flat.

 

SouthFront.org, Russian Military Grouping in Syria, J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson, Feb. 20, 2016. There are two major unknown questions concerning the breakdown in relations between Turkey and Russia following the ambush of a Russian Su-24 bomber in the skies above Syria. The first is what turn of events prompted Turkey’s leadership to adopt a course of confrontation against Russia. The second is why this escalation did not come months sooner, when Hmeimim was far more vulnerable to Turkish attack or blockade. 

Reuters, Syrian army, allies advance against Islamic State in eastern Aleppo: reports, John Davison, Feb. 20, 2016. Syria's army and allies, backed by Russian air strikes, recaptured 18 villages from Islamic State fighters in eastern Aleppo province on Saturday, a monitoring group said. The advance extended their control of parts of a road running towards the jihadist group's stronghold of Raqqa, and built on gains made in assaults that intensified sharply earlier this month. Damascus's offensive, drawing heavily on Russian air cover and ground support from Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian fighters, has brought the Syrian army to within 25 km (15 miles) of Turkey's border.

Feb. 19

Gawker, Donald Trump: "You Will Find Out Who Really Knocked Down the World Trade Center," Staff report, Feb. 19, 2016. At a campaign event in Bluffton, South Carolina, on Wednesday morning, Donald Trump, in the midst of a rant about how much he doesn’t like Lindsey Graham, seemed to imply that, if elected president, he would reveal the true perpetrators of the 9/11 terror attacks. Here is what he said:

We went after Iraq, they did not knock down the World Trade Center. It wasn’t the Iraqis that knocked down the World Trade Center, we went after Iraq, we decimated the country, Iran’s taking over, okay. But it wasn’t the Iraqis, you will find out who really knocked down the World Trade Center. Because they have papers in there that are very secret, you may find it’s the Saudis, okay? But you will find out.

He’d made the same argument earlier in the day, on “Fox and Friends.”

Now, while it is true that Iraq did not knock down the World Trade Center, it is no secret that 15 of the 19 hijackers who participated in the 9/11 attacks were citizens of Saudi Arabia. It is also true, however, that 28 pages of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001’s official report — which is not to be confused with the 9/11 Commission Report — remain classified. Those 28 pages suggest “specific sources of foreign support for some of the September 11 hijackers while they were in the United States,” according to the relevant chapter’s introduction.

Infowars: The Alex Jones Channel, Trump To Expose 9/11 If Elected!! Alex Jones, Feb. 19, 2016 (6:58 min.). GOP frontrunner Donald Trump has promised to make public currently guarded secrets surrounding the 9/11 attacks, should he be elected President.


Antonin Scalia Supreme Court photo
Washington Post, Scalia died at a secluded Texas ranch. Here’s where else the Supreme Court justices go when they leave town, Christopher Ingraham, Feb. 19, 2016. Everything you need to know about who pays when Supreme Court justices travel.

Judges cannot accept anything of value from someone with a case in their court, and they are required to report travel-related reimbursements that total at least $375, an increase over previous years, according to the filing instructions sent out last year.

But these instructions include an exemption covering “food, lodging or entertainment received as a personal hospitality,” which is described as a person letting a justice stay at their home or property owned by them or their family.

U.S. Supreme CourtWashington Post, Everything you need to know about who pays when Supreme Court justices travel, Mark Berman and Christopher Ingraham, Feb. 19, 2016. A guide to the things Supreme Court justices do and don't disclose -- and who foots the bill when they take trips. Judges cannot accept anything of value from someone with a case in their court, and they are required to report travel-related reimbursements that total at least $375, an increase over previous years, according to the filing instructions sent out last year.

But these instructions include an exemption covering “food, lodging or entertainment received as a personal hospitality,” which is described as a person letting a justice stay at their home or property owned by them or their family. This is a sizable loophole, one that may have extended to Scalia’s trip to west Texas last weekend, according to Stephen Gillers, who teaches legal and judicial ethics at the New York University School of Law.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie SandersRealClearPolitics.com, Nevada Caucuses Put Clinton, Sanders to New Test, Alexis Simendinger, Feb. 19, 2016. Bernie Sanders has a path to the Democratic nomination, but the results of the Nevada caucuses Saturday will foreshadow whether that path is mostly magical thinking. In the wake of his near-victory in the Iowa caucuses and 22-point triumph over Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire primary, Sanders would like to make inroads with minorities, moderates, older voters and upper-middle-class Democrats to demonstrate an appeal beyond the base he’s developed of younger people, liberals and white voters.

At a Democratic town hall in Las Vegas Thursday evening, Sanders predicted he would succeed. “I chose to run, proudly, in the Democratic primary and caucus process, and I look forward to winning that process.” Clinton was equally bullish on her own prospects. "He's won one. I've won one. We've got 48 to go,” she said, referring to Sanders’ victory in New Hampshire. “I'm not going to waste a minute. That's why I want to get this nomination as quickly as possible so I can get to work on being your president,” she said at the event, broadcast by MSNBC and Telemundo.

LewRockwell.com, Jeb Bush: Coke Dealer? Roger Stone, Feb. 19, 2016. My newest book Jeb! and the Bush Crime Family reports allegations that Jeb Bush dealt both drugs and alcohol at his Andover prep Jeb! and the Bush Crime Familyschool for the rich and entitled and that he was involved in drug smuggling operations that eventually led to the murder of CIA pilot Barry Seal, who tried to blackmail the Bushes and ended up riddled with bullets. These allegations fit Jeb’s lifelong pattern of elite deviance.

But I more recently discovered allegations that Jeb teamed up with Dudley Farenthold, son of legendary Texas Democrat Sissy Farenthold and John B. Connally Jr., son of former Texas Governor John Connally, to smuggle cocaine into Houston for resale. Steven Mark Coble, a reporter for Teknosis, confirmed the following in an email:

“In Houston, from 1977 until 1980, I rented the garage apartment next to my business attorney, David C. Cobb. His father is Daniel W. Cobb, retired Houston Chronicle Executive Managing News Editor of some 40 years, Dan Rather’s first boss. We became good friends over the years. Dan happened to be late for a holiday function one evening in 1979. He was animated and filled with excitement as I had ever seen him. “You won’t believe what just happened” he stated. There were a number of people present there in the kitchen and dining room, among them was a girl I happened to be seeing at the time, Ms. Katherine Farenthold. Kathy had recently become the ex-wife of Dudley Farenthold. Dudley was the son of Francis (Cissy) Farenthold, a prominent state Democratic Party official and former gubernatorial candidate. Dan went on to say, “Dudley, John Connally Jr., and Jeb Bush had just been picked up by HPD and arrested on charges of cocaine possession.” Zarko Franks, Chief Investigative Reporter for the Chronicle, had gotten a call from contacts inside Houston Police Department and immediately went down to investigate the story.

Needless to say, this caused quite a stir in a room full of socially prominent people. Everyone wanted to know the obvious which was “Are we going to read all about this in the morning or see it on TV tomorrow? “

“No way!” was his response. He then went on to explain that the phones lit up, agents came out of nowhere pressures were applied, the boys were released and there wouldn’t be any record of it. There was a definite air of disappointment after that. Dan didn’t seem so upset, stating that he doubted we had heard the absolute end of the story. The future has a way of catching up with you, I believe is the way he put it.

Lee Atwater, who was my partner in the political consulting firm of Black, Manafort, Stone and Atwater after leaving the Reagan White House as Deputy Political Director, told me that he and Jeb had snorted lines of cocaine at the Vice President’s residence at the Naval observatory on the night of Vice President George H. W. Bush’s election to the Presidency. A prominent Tallahassee lobbyist told me that he also had snorted coke with Jeb Bush, and said that Governor Bush did so largely out of boredom with the slow pace of the State Capital.  

The point here is not drug use or drug dealing. Jeb is a hard-line drug warrior who supported tougher mandatory state penalties for drug possession and more funding for the failed federal war on drugs. As always with the Bushs, it’s “do as I say, not as I do.”

BMW BeamerOpEdNews, Scalia's Black Beemer, Greg Palast, Feb. 19, 2016. It was one of our team's weirder investigative discoveries: The recently departed Justice Antonin Scalia -- aleha hashalom -- in 2011 was ticketed for recklessly driving his black BMW. (Investigative reporter, best-selling author and former BBC commentator Greg Palast is shown at right.)

Greg Palast file photoTo his family, I offer condolences. To my readers, I offer the facts. A man's soul must be laid to rest, but history must not be buried as well, especially now that the Justice's passing has become grounds for stories that border on historical obscenity, cf. the New York Times, "Liberal Love for Antonin Scalia."

Love?? Well, if you want a Valentine, this ain't it. There's been a lot of gleeful chuckling, for example, about Scalia's courtroom bench "humor." But behind his jokey comments lay a cruelty aimed at the poor, the injured, the Beemer-less class that turns to the Court as the last hope for protection against corporate and state violence.

Here's a telling example of Scalia's humor from a crucial voting rights case. In 2005, Indiana's Republican legislature passed a law barring the vote to anyone without current state photo ID. The excuse: an official ID would prevent voter fraud--despite the fact that the state had not found, in over 100 years, even one case of a voter illegally impersonating another. The media did get a laugh out of the ten nuns who were turned away from an Indiana polling station because the sisters' driver's licenses had expired. The nuns were in their eighties and nineties. Their licenses had expired, though they had not. Tough luck ladies, you lose your vote.

Bobby Kennedy and I covered the cute story of the nuns; but we also wrote about the unnoticed 78,000 African-Americans in Indiana who lost their right to vote because they did not have the right ID to vote. A disproportionate number of African-American lack cars, and therefore driver's licenses; and only a few, apparently have passports for weekends in Paris.

Civil rights groups sued, stating the obvious: that the Indiana law is racist in its operation, a violation of the Voting Rights Act. Black folk, the elderly, students, and poor whites were all blocked from registering and voting. Federal Justice Terence Evans threw out the biased ID law, writing, "The Indiana voter photo ID law is a not-too-thinly veiled attempt to discourage election-day turnout by certain folks believed to skew Democratic."

But Indiana argued before the Supreme Court that anyone could get an ID -- they just had to get a non-driver ID from a county office. Experts pointed out that the average poor person in Indiana -- a poor person likely to be Black-- lived an average 17 miles from a county seat. That's when Justice Scalia rode, recklessly, to Indiana's rescue. Scalia chortled that "Seventeen miles is seventeen miles for the rich and the poor," Black or white. How cute. How droll, Mr. Justice. And it's true, at 65 miles per hour, 17 miles is just a 15 minute cruise, whether your BMW is black or white.

But the experts I spoke with told me they calculated that travel required two bus rides, cost a day of work, and included fees that amount to a poll tax. In the non-BMW world, 17 miles is just another long, obstacle-choked road to the ballot for voters of color.

The Guardian, US’s longest-standing solitary confinement prisoner set free in Louisiana after more than four decades in form of captivity widely denounced as torture, Ed Pilkington, Feb. 19, 2016. Albert Woodfox, the longest-standing solitary confinement prisoner in the US, held in isolation in a six-by-nine-foot cell almost continuously for 43 years, has been released from a Louisiana jail. Woodfox, who was kept in solitary following the 1972 murder of a prison guard for which he has always professed his innocence, marked his 69th birthday on Friday by being released from West Feliciana parish detention center.

It was a bittersweet birthday present: the prisoner finally escaped a form of captivity that has widely been denounced as torture, and that has deprived him of all meaningful human contact for more than four decades. Albert Woodfox speaks after 43 years in solitary confinement: 'I would not let them drive me insane.' For the duration of that time, Woodfox was held in the cell for 23 hours a day. In the single remaining hour, he was allowed out of the cell to go to the “exercise yard” – a small area of fenced concrete – but was shackled and kept alone there as well.

Last November James Dennis, a judge with the federal fifth circuit appeals court, described the conditions of Woodfox’s confinement. “For the vast majority of his life, Woodfox has spent nearly every waking hour in a cramped cell in crushing solitude without a valid conviction,” he said. In a statement released by his lawyers, Woodfox said that he would use his newfound liberty to campaign against the scourge of solitary confinement that at any one moment sees 80,000 American prisoners being held in isolation. “I can now direct all my efforts to ending the barbarous use of solitary confinement and will continue my work on that issue here in the free world.”

Washington Post, The psychology behind why people believe conspiracy theories about Scalia’s death, Joseph E. Uscinski, Feb. 19, 2016. Joseph E. Uscinski is an associate professor of political science at the University of Miami. He is a co-author, along with Joseph M. Parent, of American Conspiracy Theories. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died just days ago, but already conspiracy theories about his death abound. Radio talk-show host Alex Jones suggested that a pillow found near Scalia’s head might indicate that he’d been suffocated. Some retired detectives said the lack of an autopsy was evidence of a cover-up. One website (the aptly named Trunews) wondered whether the CIA used heart-attack-inducing drugs to kill the justice. Even Donald Trump joined the fray, calling the death “pretty unusual.”

Those concerns motivated psychologists and social scientists like me to try to better understand why people believe conspiracy theories and what the consequences are. In the past decade, scientists have conducted hundreds of opinion polls and laboratory experiments on the subject, leading to the publication of dozens of books and scholarly articles. Based on this emerging body of research, the explosion of Scalia assassination theories is probably two-fold. First, some people are, by their nature, inclined toward conspiratorial logic. Second, partisans tend to view their side as virtuous and the opposition as ignorant, wrong-headed, corrupt and perhaps evil. Increasingly partisan times, like these, stir the pot even more.

Russia Insider via Global Research, CIA, NATO and Swedish Military Plotted Regime Change in Sweden in 1980s, Alexei Pankin, Feb. 19, 2016. ‘Heroes’ and victims of 80’s US disinformation provide clues to today’s Russian scare. To win the cold war, President Ronald Reagan formed a secret ‘deception committee’ for a disinformation campaign against the USSR. On several occasions, ‘disinformation’ put the world on the brink of nuclear war.

Olol Palme, late prime minister of Sweden 1968 photo via WikimediaThe ‘Soviet’ U-boat scare that shook Sweden in the 80s was caused by US and UK subs that penetrated Swedish territorial waters disguised as Russian ones. Swedish military were fully aware of these operations but did not report to Prime Minister, Olof Palme. The number of Swedes believing in a Soviet threat increased fourfold. ‘Dove’ Palme had no choice but to take anti-Soviet stance. He was assassinated the day before his trip to meet Gorbachev, whom he saw as a like-minded person.

The 52 minutes documentary “Deception: The Methods of Reagan” by German director Dirk Pohlmann premiered last May on ‘ARTE’ the French/German highbrow channel. Broadcast late at night and early in the morning, it generated no reaction. It has not been shown in Sweden, although it throws light on two of the most dramatic episodes in modern Swedish history – the Soviet U-boat scare of the 1980s that was suddenly repeated in 2014, and the assassination in 1986 of the Swedish premier Olof Palme (shown in file photo). This film is not a Hollywood thriller, but a sequence of stories told by people who have faces, names, titles and ranks.

Feb. 18Barack Obama and Staff Feb. 2, 2016

President Barack Obama meets with Vice President Joe Biden and other advisors in the Oval Office (White House photo)

Consortium News, Risking Nuclear War for Al Qaeda? Robert Parry (shown in file photo), Feb. 18, 2016. The risk that the multi-sided Syrian war could spark World War III continues as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and U.S. neocons seek an Robert Parryinvasion that could kill Russian troops — and possibly escalate the Syrian crisis into a nuclear showdown, amazingly to protect Al Qaeda terrorists. When President Barack Obama took questions from reporters on Tuesday, the one that needed to be asked – but wasn’t – was whether he had forbidden Turkey and Saudi Arabia to invade Syria, because on that question could hinge whether the ugly Syrian civil war could spin off into World War III and possibly a nuclear showdown.

If Turkey (with hundreds of thousands of troops massed near the Syrian border) and Saudi Arabia (with its sophisticated air force) follow through on threats and intervene militarily to save their rebel clients, who include Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, from a powerful Russian-backed Syrian government offensive, then Russia will have to decide what to do to protect its 20,000 or so military personnel inside Syria. 

A source close to Russian President Vladimir Putin told me that the Russians have warned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Moscow is prepared to use tactical nuclear weapons if necessary to save their troops in the face of a Turkish-Saudi onslaught. Since Turkey is a member of NATO, any such conflict could quickly escalate into a full-scale nuclear confrontation.

Boston Globe, The media are misleading the public on Syria, Stephen Kinzer, Feb. 18, 2016. Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press. Reporting about carnage in the ancient city of Aleppo is the latest reason why.

For three years, violent militants have run Aleppo. Their rule began with a wave of repression. They posted notices warning residents: “Don’t send your children to school. If you do, we will get the backpack and you will get the coffin.” Then they destroyed factories, hoping that unemployed workers would have no recourse other than to become fighters. They trucked looted machinery to Turkey and sold it.

This month, people in Aleppo have finally seen glimmers of hope. The Syrian army and its allies have been pushing militants out of the city. Last week they reclaimed the main power plant. Regular electricity may soon be restored. The militants’ hold on the city could be ending. This does not fit with Washington’s narrative. As a result, much of the American press is reporting the opposite of what is actually happening. Many news reports suggest that Aleppo has been a “liberated zone” for three years but is now being pulled back into misery.

Inevitably, this kind of disinformation has bled into the American presidential campaign. At the recent debate in Milwaukee, Hillary Clinton claimed that United Nations peace efforts in Syria were based on “an agreement I negotiated in June of 2012 in Geneva.” The precise opposite is true. In 2012 Secretary of State Clinton joined Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Israel in a successful effort to kill Kofi Annan’s UN peace plan because it would have accommodated Iran and kept Assad in power, at least temporarily. No one on the Milwaukee stage knew enough to challenge her.

New York Times, Mainstream G.O.P. Field of Three Faces Brutal Delegate Math, Nate Cohn, Feb. 18, 2016. If the Republican Party remains divided for much longer, it will start getting more difficult for a mainstream candidate to win the nomination. Yet Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and John Kasich all have incentives to stay in the race, preventing the party from getting behind one candidate.

On Super Tuesday (March 1), 25 percent of the delegates to the Republican national convention will be awarded. If the mainstream field hasn’t been narrowed by that point, it will become very hard to avoid serious damage to the candidate who ultimately emerges as the party’s anointed favorite. The top mainstream candidate could easily fall more than 100 delegates short of what he might have earned in a winnowed field. He would even be in danger of earning no delegates at all in several of the largest states because of one number: 20 percent.

RealClearPolitics, Cruz-Trump Feud Heats Up Ahead of S.C. Vote, Caitlin Huey-Burns, Feb. 18, 2016. Liars and lawsuits. Both words figure prominently in the increasingly heated feud between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, the two leading contenders in the Palmetto State primary.

Three days before South Carolina Republicans head to the polls, Cruz is challenging Trump to make good on his threat to sue him over an ad the Texas senator is running that hits Trump's position on abortion. Trump said he has grounds to sue over Cruz’s ad, which uses clips from a 1999 interview in which the real estate mogul describes himself as “very pro-choice.” And, in true Trump fashion, he went even further. “Likewise, if I want to bring the lawsuit regarding Senator Cruz being a natural born Canadian, I will do so,” Trump said in a statement. “Time will tell, Teddy.”

New York Times, Trump ‘Is Not Christian,’ Pope Suggests, Citing Border Stance, Jim Yardley, Feb. 18, 2016. The pope inserted himself into the U.S. presidential race, and, when asked about contraception in areas where the Zika virus poses a threat, said, “Avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil.” Trump Calls Pope’s Criticism ‘Disgraceful’  

OpEdNews, The 587,688 Man ISIS Army, Michael Collins, Feb. 16, 2016. The Commander in Chief of Turkey's half million-man military, President Recep Tayipp Erdogan, is a supporter of ISIS and a financial Flag of Turkeybeneficiary of the ISIS oil trade. It is entirely reasonable to say that Turkey is aligned with ISIS and is actively supporting that group and other extremist jihadist groups in the attack on Syria. Since the start of the attack on Syria in 2011, Turkey has been a key transit point for foreign jihadists, supplies, and weapons headed for rebels fighting to bring down the Syrian government.

Turkey is threatening to invade northern Syria with its army supplemented by fighter jets and troops from Saudi Arabia. The Turks strongly implied that an invasion would occur if the Kurds and Syrian army secure Azaz from Syrian rebels including Al Qaeda aligned Al Nusra. Why? Because Azaz is a key to the supply of personnel and weapons to jihadist terrorists, Al Qaeda aligned, ISIS, and others. How much more proof do NATO and others need to realize that the 587,688 person Turkish military is now part of the ISIS alliance? The Kurds and Syrian army forces continue their advance on Azaz. We will soon see if Erdogan is bluffing, in which case there will be no Turkish invasion, or if he's lost his mind and orders his army to cross the Syrian border.

Reuters, Russia warns Assad not to snub Syria ceasefire plan, Alexander Winning and Christian Lowe, Feb. 18, 2016. President Bashar al-Assad was out of step with the views of his main ally, Russia, when he said he planned to fight on until he re-established control over all of Syria, Russia's envoy to the United Nations was quoted as saying on Thursday. In the first public sign of cracks in the alliance between Moscow and Damascus, the envoy, Vitaly Churkin, said Russia had helped Assad turn the tide of the war so it was now incumbent on him to follow Russia's line and commit to peace talks.

Military Times, U.S. quietly tells Russia where American troops are located inside Syria, Andrew Tilghman, Feb. 18, 2016. The Pentagon told the Russian military where U.S. Special Forces are located in Syria with the hopes that Russian aircraft will steer clear of that area and not risk bombing American service members, top military officials said Thursday.

InfoWars, Here's Why Scalia Didn't Get Autopsy, David Knight interviews Wayne Madsen for the Alex Jones Show, Feb. 18, 2016 (video 4:45 min). Scalia's body could have been flown directly to Virginia - but wasn't.

CNN, Justice Scalia's unexamined death points to a problem, Judy Melinek, Feb. 18, 2016. Dr. Judy Melinek is a forensic pathologist who performs autopsies for the Alameda County Sheriff Coroner's Office in California and is the CEO of the medico-legal consultancy PathologyExpert Inc. When my husband called and told me the news that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had died, the first question that came out of my mouth was, "Where?" "Texas," he said. "Oh no." I have been called to testify as a forensic pathology expert in many legal cases in Texas. I know about the laws that govern death investigation in that state.

It came as no surprise to me that Justice Scalia, found cold and pulseless in bed with a pillow "over his head," was declared dead of natural causes without an autopsy being performed. I was not shocked to hear that a county justice of the peace agreed to issue the death certificate without visiting the death scene or seeing the body for herself.  Why is it that in a nation with the best medical technology in the world, we are still allowing a law enforcement official and a judge on the end of a telephone line to declare someone dead and pronounce the manner of death as natural without an autopsy?

Washington Post, Scalia’s son: Conspiracy theories about father’s death are a ‘hurtful distraction,’ Lindsey Bever, Feb. 18, 2016. The conspiracy theories began to swirl almost as soon as the news broke that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had been found dead in his room at a remote West Texas hunting resort. After joining a group that was hunting quail Friday and laughing with other resort guests at a private party that night, Scalia retired to his room. There, authorities said, he died in his sleep.

But how? He was pronounced dead by an official who hadn’t seen Scalia’s body in person, and an autopsy was never performed, leading skeptics to wonder: Was he injected with a substance that would simulate a heart attack? Was the pillow found over his head used to suffocate him? Wednesday, the judge’s son, Eugene Scalia, addressed the rumors on “The Laura Ingraham Show,” saying: “Our family just has no doubt he died of natural causes.”

“My father was like a force of nature,” he said. “He seemed sort of a permanent institution. But he would have been the first to tell you — the first — that, we’re from dust, we return to dust, and your life could be taken from you at any instant.

Feb. 17

Washington Post, Why Justice Scalia was staying for free at a Texas resort, Mark Berman and Jerry Markon, Feb. 17, 2016. Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden death over the weekend at a West Texas ranch raised questions about the nature of his travel, who paid for the trip and whether justices are subject to the same disclosure guidelines as other judges or federal officials.

Antonin Scalia Smiling Where did Justice Scalia die? Scalia was at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a resort tucked away in the Big Bend region of Texas about 30 miles from the border with Mexico. The ranch is 30,000-acre getaway that is home to John B. Poindexter, according to the website of J.B. Poindexter & Co. It is a remote location that has reportedly attracted the likes of Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall and Bruce Willis. When Tommy Lee Jones directed a movie more than a decade ago, he filmed several scenes at the ranch, according to the Houston Chronicle.

All of which raises the question: Who pays for a Supreme Court justice to make this kind of trip? Not Scalia, it turns out. Poindexter told The Washington Post that Scalia was not charged for his stay, something he described as a policy for all guests at the ranch. “I did not pay for the Justice’s trip to Cibolo Creek Ranch,” Poindexter wrote in a brief email Tuesday. “He was an invited guest, along with a friend, just like 35 others.”

Washington Post, Why those conspiracy theories about Antonin Scalia’s death don’t add up, Philip Bump, Feb. 17, 2016. Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead in a bed at a resort in Texas on Saturday morning. As The Washington Post reported on Sunday, there was some confusion over the exact circumstances of his death, although his doctor indicated that he "suffered from a host of chronic conditions." That gauziness quickly developed into a full-fledged conspiracy theory over the cause of Scalia's death, jumping quickly from the expected vector of universal conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to conservative talk radio to the Republican front-runner for the party's presidential nomination. Asked about Scalia by Michael Savage on Monday, Donald Trump replied that "they say they found a pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow."

“We discovered the judge in bed, a pillow over his head. His bed clothes were unwrinkled,” said Poindexter. When Texas millionaire John Poindexter invited Justice Antonin Scalia to his remote ranch near the Mexican border, it was for a private party with about 35 other guests, a weekend of hunting and sightseeing on his painstakingly restored and cultivated 30,000-acre spread. But when Scalia, 79, failed to appear for a morning excursion at 8 a.m. Saturday, Poindexter became concerned and went to his room, which has its own outdoor fire pit and a wall of windows overlooking the 22-room adobe ranch hotel, a lake and surrounding peaks of the Chinati Mountains.

San Antonio Express-News, Who is John Poindexter? John Gonzalez, Feb. 17, 2016. Editors note: This story, about the man who owns the ranch where Supreme Court Justice Antonin John PoindexterScalia died Feb. 13, was written by staff writer John Gonzalez on Oct. 30, 2005. It is republished here without changes.

Still single at age 61, Houston businessman John Poindexter is concerned about his legacy. Will he be remembered as a combat-tested Vietnam veteran who became a wealthy industrialist and rancher with a passion for preserving some of the most majestic lands in West Texas? Or will he go down in Texas folklore as the rich guy who wanted to buy a pristine part of Big Bend Ranch State Park?

Despite the controversy that erupted over his unsuccessful attempt in August to acquire 46,000 acres from the state park system, Poindexter said last week he may revive his purchase offer after next year’s GOP gubernatorial contest, which he claims had a role in dooming the initial deal. Poindexter drew fire from environmentalists and park conservation groups that said they were ambushed by the unpopular proposal. He argued then, and still contends, the sale would enable

AP via Fox News, Scalia’s Supreme Court chair draped in black in mourning, Feb. 17, 2016. Justice Antonin Scalia’s courtroom chair has been draped in black to mark his death as part of Antonin Scalia seat draped in black Supreme Court photoa Supreme Court tradition that dates to the 19th century. Scalia died Saturday at age 79. He joined the court in 1986 and was its longest-serving justice. Scalia died February 13, reportedly of natural causes, at a resort in Texas. (Photograph by Franz Jantzen/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States via Getty Images.)

Gothamist, Robert Caro Wonders What New York Is Going To Become, Christopher Robbins, Feb. 17, 2016. The inspiration for the authoritative book on power in New York City came from the author’s Robert Carorealization that he understood nothing of it. “I spent a lot of time thinking, if you’re really interested in political power, everything you do is bullshit,” Robert Caro told us recently. Caro, who was a reporter covering Robert Moses at Newsday in the late 1960s, took seven years to write The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, a good chunk of it spent researching in the Frederick Lewis Allen Room of the main branch of the New York Public Library. Until April 7, the NYPL has a kiosk in the McGraw Rotunda one floor above the Allen Room featuring some of Caro’s primary source material.

Last week, Caro (shown in a file photo) took a break from writing the fifth and final installment of The Years of Lyndon Johnson — a series he began researching 42 years ago — to talk about how his time at the library helped him during a dark period of his life, why the decisions Robert Moses made are still gridlocking New York, and what he misses most about being a newspaper reporter.

RT, Turkey wants ‘secure line’ created 10km inside Syria, including Azaz: deputy PM, Staff report, Feb. 17, 2016. Turkey wants to create a secure zone 10km within Syria, which would include the town of Azaz, Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan stated, as cited by Reuters. The move comes after Ankara’s shelling of Syrian Kurds for four successive days. However, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan mentioned on Wednesday that Ankara does not intend to stop shelling Syrian Kurdish YPG militia. He also called on the US to choose whether it wanted to back Turkey or the Syrian Kurds. Washington and Paris have both called on Turkey to cease its massive artillery bombardment against Kurdish targets in Syria.

“We are concerned about the situation north of Aleppo and are working to de-escalate tensions on all sides,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement. “We have also seen reports of artillery fire from the Turkish side of the border and urged Turkey to cease such fire.”

Washington Post, Ukraine’s prime minister survives no-confidence vote amid deepening anger, Andrew Roth, Feb. 17, 2016. A political crisis fueled by unrest over a faltering economy and corruption has been building in Kiev for 2 years.

Huffington Post, Feds: Cliven Bundy Is Terrible At Cattle Ranching, Dana Liebelson, Feb. 17, 2016. Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher in custody over charges stemming from his involvement in a 2014 armed Cliven Bundy Mullnomah County Sheriff's Officestandoff, is terrible at cattle ranching, according to a court document filed by federal authorities on Tuesday. "While Bundy claims he is a cattle rancher, his ranching operation -- to the extent it can be called that -- is unconventional if not bizarre," wrote the U.S. attorneys for the districts of Nevada and Oregon in a memorandum arguing for Bundy's continued detention before trial.

Bundy flew to Oregon last week with the reported intent of supporting his sons, who last month seized a remote federal property near the town of Burns. But he was arrested Feb. 10 and charged with assault and conspiracy -- among other crimes -- for leading a confrontation with federal authorities in 2014. That standoff started after Bundy refused to pay federal grazing fees. The Bureau of Land Management rounded up 400 head of cattle it claimed Bundy kept unlawfully on public land but was forced to release them after armed militants gathered to protest the action.

The government is now questioning Bundy's ranching skills. The feds claim Bundy allows his cows, which numbered over 1,000 at the time of the standoff, to run wild with "little, if any, human interaction" until they are "sold or slaughtered for his own consumption." Bundy does not vaccinate or adequately feed the cows and doesn't know where all of them are, the document says.

Feb. 16

Vancouver Harbour shown in Marco Rubio 'Morning Again in America" ad


Vancouver Sun, Vancouver skyline featured in Marco Rubio’s ‘Morning Again in America’ campaign ad, Staff report, Feb. 15, 2016 (image, with Canadian flag on tugboat, from Rubio campaign ad).

Guardian (London), Republican frontrunner makes bizarre claim that rival’s perspiration would affect America’s ability to conduct foreign policy effectively, Adam Gabbatt  Feb. 16, 2016. Donald Trump has upped his attacks on his Republican rivals at a rally in South Carolina, describing Ted Cruz as “a very dishonest person” and launching a bizarre rant about Marco Rubio’s “excessive sweating.” Trump didn’t mention his earlier threat to sue Cruz at the event in Greenville, but again characterized the Texas senator as “unstable” before accusing Marco Rubio of a level of perspiration that would cause problems for diplomacy.

His remarks were received by a packed house, however some supporters were literally left out in the cold after being moved to a drafty overflow room that lacked chairs and a large-screen TV. About 10,000 people were in the TD convention center, according to some reports. During his speech Trump said some 3,000 supporters had been turned away from the ticket-only event. 

WGBH (Boston), Despite A Full Life, Justice Scalia Died Prematurely -- By At Least One Measure, Harvey Silverglate, Feb. 15, 2016. Harvey Silverglate is a longtime Boston civil rights lawyer and adjunct law professor. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia lived a full life by many measures, and so it is difficult to call his death “tragic” in the traditional sense. However, his absence from the Supreme Court will almost certainly leave a hole not likely to be filled, regardless of whether the replacement appointment is made by a Democrat or a Republican. It will be very difficult to find a justice who would make as serious an effort as Scalia constantly made to enforce rights even when such enforcement produced results that some – especially what we call the “law and order” set – disliked.

Scalia’s impatience was particularly acute when dealing with a problem that is disturbingly common in federal criminal law: the plethora of statutes so vague and broad that no person of normal intelligence – or even superior intellect for that matter – can figure out where the line is being drawn between crime and business-as-usual. Scalia was the member of the court most disturbed when a citizen found himself convicted of violating a statute that gave no fair and clear guidance of the demanded standard of conduct.

Talking Points Memo, Scalia’s Death Came As Conservatives Were About To Seize Historic Legal Gains, Tierney Sneed, Feb. 16, 2016. The entire current legal strategy of the conservative legal movement has American Originalbeen stymied by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. His unexpected passing robs conservatives of the 5-4 advantage they had on the Supreme Court at the very moment they were making arguably their most aggressive play yet to cement some their most cherished and longest sought legal gains, in areas like abortion, voting rights, and affirmative action.

While much of the immediate focus after Scalia's death over the weekend was on the long game of who replaces him, and when, the impact is far more immediate and potentially historic. Even if a Republican president ultimately names Scalia's successor, the conservative legal movement will have suffered a dramatic setback by virtue of how many important cases it had queued up for this year that will be thrown into turmoil by a court with only eight justices and the potential for 4-4 tie votes.

WhoWhatWhy, The Full Story of the Sirhan Sirhan Parole Hearing, Shane O'Sullivan, Feb. 16, 2016. The near-complete media blackout means the world had to rely on one reporter’s account of the Sirhan Sirhan parole hearing. Here is the complete story of what actually transpired and matters.

Politico, Campaigns secretly prep for brokered GOP convention, Ben Schreckinger, Feb. 16, 2016. Mysterious outside groups are asking state parties for personal data on potential delegates, Republican campaigns are drawing up plans to send loyal representatives to obscure local conventions, and party officials are dusting off rule books to brush up on a process that hasn’t mattered for decades.

As Donald Trump and Ted Cruz divide up the first primaries and center-right Republicans tear one another apart in a race to be the mainstream alternative, Republicans are waging a shadow primary for control of delegates in anticipation of what one senior party official called “the white whale of politics”: a contested national convention. The endgame for the most sophisticated campaigns is an inconclusive first ballot leading to a free-for-all power struggle on the floor in Cleveland.

The primaries and caucuses that dot the nominating calendar and whose results drive headlines will decide whom most delegates are bound to vote for on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention. Should the first ballot fail to produce a nominee, the outcome of the convention will depend on results of the parallel primary now underway for the hearts and minds of delegates.

Feb. 15

Washington Post, Conspiracy theories swirl around the death of Antonin Scalia, Lena H. Sun and Sari Horwitz, Feb. 15, 2016. Two days after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly in remote West Antonin Scalia Supreme Court photoTexas, a former D.C. homicide commander is raising questions about how the death was handled by local and federal authorities. “As a former homicide commander, I am stunned that no autopsy was ordered for Justice Scalia,” William O. Ritchie, former head of criminal investigations for D.C. police, wrote in a post on Facebook on Sunday.

Scalia was found dead in his room at a luxury hunting resort in the state’s Big Bend region by the resort’s owner. It took hours for authorities to find a justice of the peace. When they did, Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara pronounced Scalia dead of natural causes without seeing the body — which is permissible under Texas law — and without ordering an autopsy.

The manager of the El Paso funeral home that handled Scalia’s body said Scalia’s family insisted on not having an autopsy done. But the decision has spawned a host of conspiracy theories online, as well as skeptical questions from law enforcement experts such as Ritchie.

“You have a Supreme Court Justice who died, not in attendance of a physician,” he wrote. “You have a non-homicide trained US Marshal tell the justice of peace that no foul play was observed. You have a justice of the peace pronounce death while not being on the scene and without any medical training opining that the justice died of a heart attack. What medical proof exists of a myocardial Infarction? Why not a cerebral hemorrhage?”

JIP Editor's Note: The term 'conspiracy theory' was popularized by the CIA via its widespread hidden assets working in the news media and academia to disparage those, such as News Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who criticized  the 1964 Warren Report on the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy. These facts are now known via many books and declassified memos, including one by the CIA on April 1, 1967 outlining in 50 pages its propaganda plan to use the "conspiracy theory" smear. The Washington Post had been a leader in the CIA's Operation Mockingbird propaganda campaign and remains a leader in applying the term on an arbitrary basis to allegations of government misconduct -- as indicated by its application of the term to questions raised in the above article by someone so experienced in police procedures a former head of criminal investigations for the District of Columbia.

Associated Press, Texas judge disclosed details about Scalia's health, Sam Hannel and David Warren, Feb. 15, 2016. The Texas county judge who decided no autopsy was needed following the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has disclosed new details about Scalia's health in the days before he died. Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara told the Associated Press on Monday she spoke with Scalia's doctor on the day he was found dead in his room at a remote Texas ranch.

She said the doctor told her that Scalia had a history of heart trouble, high blood pressure and was considered too weak to undergo surgery for a recent shoulder injury. Those details are seemingly at odds with recollections of friends who described Scalia as his usual, happy self during the days leading up to his death. News that the 79-year-old justice was in declining health may come as a surprise to the public, but unlike presidents, the high court's members don't provide regular health disclosures.

Guevara told the AP that she consulted with Scalia's personal physician and local and federal investigators, who said there were no signs of foul play, before concluding that he had died of natural causes. She said she spoke with a "Dr. Monahan" at some point after 8 p.m. on Saturday to discuss Scalia's health history.

New York Times, What Would Scalia Want in His Successor? A Dissent Offers Clues, Adam Liptak, Feb. 15, 2016. Members of the Supreme Court in 2010. As Justice Antonin Scalia noted, its members are by many measures remarkably similar, giving the court the quality of a private club. What sort of person would Justice Antonin Scalia have wanted President Obama to name as his successor? We know more than you might think. In a largely overlooked passage in his dissent from the court’s decision in June establishing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, he left detailed suggestions.

Avoid “tall-building lawyers,” especially ones who work in skyscrapers in New York. Find someone who did not go to law school at Harvard or Yale. Look for a candidate from the Southwest. Consider an evangelical Christian. Justice Scalia was criticizing the lack of diversity of the court he sat on, and he did not exclude himself. He was right as a factual matter: Supreme Court justices these days are by many measures remarkably similar, giving the court the insular quality of a private club or a faculty lounge.

Since Justice John Paul Stevens retired in 2010, the court, for the first time, has no Protestant member. Justice Scalia was Catholic, as are five other justices. The other three are Jewish. In his dissent from June, Justice Scalia lamented this state of affairs, writing, “Not a single evangelical Christian (a group that comprises about one quarter of Americans), or even a Protestant of any denomination.” Justice Scalia also surveyed the lack of geographical diversity on his court. “Four of the nine are natives of New York City,” he wrote.

WND, Jeb hit between eyes with sensational allegations, Jerome R. Corsi, Feb. 15, 2016. Roger Stone turns to GOP candidate after exposing Clintons. Jerome R. Corsi, a Harvard Ph.D., is a WND senior staff Jeb! and the Bush Crime Familywriter. He has authored many books, including No. 1 N.Y. Times best-sellers "The Obama Nation" and "Unfit for Command." Corsi's latest book is "Who Really Killed Kennedy?"

Just as the Bush family is about to put on a full-court press to save the failing presidential candidacy of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Nixon confidant Roger Stone and co-author Saint John Hunt, son of Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt, have published an exposé titled “Jeb! and the Bush Crime Family: The Inside Story of an American Dynasty.”

“Virtually every one of Jeb’s failed business enterprises is a carried interest in which he put up no cash but used his family name and connections to secure loans, financing, waivers, or other financially significant benefits,” Stone and Hunt write. “No less than five of Bush’s former partners in these endeavors are in jail.” With Jeb Bush recruiting his family’s assistance in the South Carolina primary, Stone seeks to make his new book every bit as relevant as the one he published last October with Robert Morrow,The Clintons’ War on Women, which spotlighted Bill Clinton’s history as a serial sexual predator and his wife’s role in covering up for him and attacking the victims.

Feb. 14

Brennan Center for Justice, Remembering Scalia Without Tears, Andrew Cohen (a Brennan Center fellow shown in a file photo), Feb. 14, 2016. Let’s now try to be as clear about Antonin Scalia in death as he tried to be in life. He surely was a hero to a Andrew Cohenhundred million conservatives who saw his originalist approach to constitutional doctrine as a bulwark against the forces of demographic and cultural change. Yet he surely was a villain to a hundred million liberals who saw him as an eternally angry man, often a bully, seeking forever to thwart progress and equality. That he was both these things at the same time for so long explains why he was a transcendent Supreme Court justice, a man whose many philosophies will be cited, in court and beyond, for centuries to come.

Having covered his work on the Court for nearly two decades, I came gradually to understand the nature of the dissonance and contradictions he created and nurtured on the American scene. For he was, above all else, an operator, a former bureaucrat who was so much smarter than everyone else around him, and so eager to exert that intellect in blunt tones, that he figured out how to mesh his partisan ideology with a constitutional doctrine at precisely the right time in history to make both stick. He deserves immense credit for this. He was a potent activist who decried activism; a man with an agenda who used an anti-agenda doctrine as the patina of his intellectual life.

A hundred years from now historians of all stripes will remember Justice Scalia as the anchor and avatar of one of the most conservative courts in American history; as the man who filled in the walls and floors and ceilings of the ideological foundation started by Chief Justices William Rehnquist and Warren Burger toward the end of the 20th Century. 

SCOTUSBlog, Ninth Circuit Judge Paul Watford is the most likely nominee to replace Antonin Scalia, Tom Goldstein, Feb. 14, 2016. In thinking about how to respond to the vacancy on the Supreme Court, the administration has two priorities. First, fill the Scalia seat by getting a nominee confirmed. The stakes could not be higher:  the appointment could flip the Supreme Court’s ideological balance for decades.  Second, gain as much political benefit as possible and exact as heavy a political toll as possible on Republicans, particularly in the presidential election. 

Precisely because of the seat’s importance, this is the rare time that a material number of voters may seriously think about the Court in deciding whether to vote at all and who to vote for.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin with ISIS backdrop (Press TV image/DCMA)

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin with ISIS backdrop (Press TV image via DCMA)

Unz Review, Week Eighteen of the Russian Intervention in Syria: A Dramatic Escalation Appears Imminent, The Saker, Feb. 14, 2016. The situation in Syria has reached a watershed moment and a dramatic escalation of the war appears imminent. Let’s look again at how we reached this point.

Syria's Flag This strategic Russian and Syrian victory meant that all the nations supporting Daesh, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the USA were facing a complete collapse of their efforts to overthrow Assad and to break-up Syria and turn part of it into a “Jihadistan.” The Americans could not admit this, of course; as for the Saudis, their threats to invade Syria were rather laughable. Which left the main role to Erdogan who was more than happy to provide the West with yet another maniacal ally willing to act in a completely irresponsible way just to deny the “other side” anything looking like a victory.

What is clear is that in any war between Russia and Turkey NATO will have to make a key decision: is the alliance prepared to go to war with a nuclear power like Russia to protect a lunatic like Erdogan? It is hard to imagine the US/NATO doing something so crazy but, unfortunately, wars always have the potential to very rapidly get out of control.

The current situation is full of dangerous and unstable asymmetries: the Russian task force in Syria is small and isolated and it cannot protect Syria from NATO or even from Turkey, but in the case of a full-scale war between Russia and Turkey, Turkey has no chance of winning, none at all. In a conventional war opposing NATO and Russia, I personally don’t see either side losing (whatever ‘losing’ and ‘winning’ mean in this context) without engaging nuclear weapons first. This suggests to me that the US cannot allow Erdogan to attack the Russian task force in Syria, not during a ground invasion and, even less so, during an attempt to establish a no-fly zone.

The latest news strongly suggests to me that the White House has taken the decision to let Turkey and Saudi Arabia invade Syria. Turkish officials are openly saying that an invasion is imminent and that the goal of such an invasion would be to reverse the Syrian army gains along the boder and near Aleppo. The latest reports are also suggesting that the Turks have begun shelling Aleppo. None of that could be happening without the full support of CENTCOM and the White House.


Syrian satellite images comparing 2011 and 2015Side by side satellite images of Syria, 2011 on left, and in 2015 at right.

Note the almost complete obliteration of Aleppo, located to the top left in a bright spot and in 2011 the nation's most populous city. But destruction of electric infrastructure doubtless accounts for most of the lighting loss, not the diminished population

Reuters, Syrian army gains ground around Aleppo, looks to Raqqa, Paul Carrel, Shadia Nasralla and Tom Perry, Feb. 14, 2016. Russia said on Saturday a Syria ceasefire plan was more likely to fail than succeed, as Syrian government forces backed by Russian air strikes took rebel ground near Aleppo and set their sights on the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa province. The Syrian army looked poised to advance into the Islamic State-held province of Raqqa for the first time since 2014, apparently to pre-empt any move by Saudi Arabia to send ground forces into Syria to fight the jihadist insurgents.

OpEdNews, The Neoconservatives Are Brewing A Wider War In Syria, Paul Craig Roberts, Feb. 14, 2016. While you are enjoying your Sunday, the insane neoconservatives who control Western foreign policy and their Turkish and Saudi Arabian vassals might be preparing the end of the world. Any person who relies on Western media has no accurate idea of what is happening in Syria. I will provide a brief summary and then send you to two detailed accounts.

BBC, Syria calls for UN action on Turkish attacks on Kurds, Staff report, Feb. 14, 2016. Syria has condemned Turkish military action against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria described it as a violation of its sovereignty. It called on the UN Security Council to take action. Turkey carried out a second day of shelling on Sunday of Kurdish forces advancing in northern Aleppo province.

Ankara views the Kurdish militia in Syria as allied to the outlawed PKK, which has carried out a decades-long campaign for autonomy in Turkey. But the United States and others back the Kurdish militia in Syria, the YPG, in its fight against the so-called Islamic State (IS) group. Syria has accused Turkey of violating its sovereignty by backing "al-Qaeda-linked terrorists" in the north and has warned it has a right to respond.

Los Angeles Times, Scalia spent his last day relaxed at a storied Texas ranch steeped in Southwest history, Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Feb. 14, 2016. When Texas millionaire John Poindexter invited Justice Antonin Scalia to his remote ranch near the Mexican border, it was for a private party with about 35 other guests, a weekend of hunting and sightseeing on his painstakingly restored and cultivated 30,000-acre spread. But when Scalia, 79, failed to appear for a morning excursion at 8 a.m. Saturday, Poindexter became concerned and went to his room.

New York Times, Jeb Bush to Take Stage With Brother in South Carolina, Ashley Parker, Feb. 14, 2016. Former President George W. Bush (shown in official photo) is set to take a stage in South Carolina on Monday with his brother, in an appearance George W. Bushthat offers a glimpse into the complicated dynamics of a family dynasty.

Washington Post, Debate rips open GOP wounds, and the party risks tearing itself apart, Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, Feb. 14, 2016. Trump is defiant as his rivals charge him with declaring “war” on the Republican Party. Trump was defiant and unapologetic Sunday, saying that he is a truth-teller and that the majority of Americans — weary of war, alienated by the political class and thirsting for a populist revival — would heed his call.

“The war in Iraq has been a disaster,” Trump said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “It started the chain of events that leads now to the migration, maybe the destruction of Europe. [Bush] started the war in Iraq. Am I supposed to be a big fan?” Despite the polls, Trump’s competitors and their allies view South Carolina as perhaps their best opportunity to slow or stop Trump’s march to the nomination.

New York Times, How America Was Lost, Paul Krugman, Feb. 14, 2016. Once upon a time, the death of a Supreme Court justice wouldn’t have brought America to the edge of constitutional crisis. But that was a different country, with a very different Republican Party. In today’s America, with today’s G.O.P., the passing of Antonin Scalia has opened the doors to chaos.

Feb. 13

Antonin Scalia National Press Club Noel St. John April 17, 2014Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at the National Press Club in 2014 (Noel St. John photo, used with permission.)

San Antonio Express-News, Senior U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia found dead at West Texas ranch, Gary Martin and Guillermo Contreras, Feb. 13, 2016. Associate Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead of apparent natural causes Saturday on a luxury resort in West Texas, federal officials said. Scalia, 79, was a guest at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a resort in the Big Bend region south of Marfa. According to a report, Scalia arrived at the ranch on Friday and attended a private party with about 40 people. When he did not appear for breakfast, a person associated with the ranch went to his room and found a body.

American OriginalIn 2009, the Justice Integrity Project interviewed on our Washington Update radio show the prominent Supreme Court biographer Joan Biskupic, USA Today Supreme Court reporter, on her pioneering full-scale biography American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The book was the first to combine the life-story and public impact of the court’s most provocative justice. Her biography was augmented by exclusive interviews. The author had covered the Supreme Court since 1989, and wrote the 2005 biography Sandra Day O’Connor. about her authoritative treatment of Scalia.

Washington Post, Death plunges court into turmoil as McConnell declares ‘vacancy should not be filled’ under Obama, Robert Barnes, Feb. 13, 2016. President Obama gets a chance to appoint a third justice, but the Republican-led Senate could refuse to fill the seat until after the election.

New York Times, U.S. Marshals Are at Scene of Scalia’s Death, Spokeswoman Says, Eric Lichtblau, Feb. 13, 2016. The United States Marshals Service, which aids in security for Supreme Court justices, sent personnel to the site of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in West Texas, a spokeswoman said. “We were there after the fact — that’s all I have,” the spokeswoman, Donna Sellers, said by telephone Saturday evening. “We have personnel there.” Ms. Sellers said she could not provide a time of death and would not say what security personnel, if any, had accompanied Justice Scalia for his trip, referring all other questions to the Supreme Court. She said she had no information to indicate that the death was the result of anything other than natural causes, and declined to comment further.

Washington Post, Trump dials up personal attacks; S.C. voters will tell us if it worked, Dan Balz, Feb. 13, 2016. Refusing to toe the line of political orthodoxy, Donald Trump tore into one of the most revered families in Republican politics and sent a message that he’s not backing down, no matter how withering the fire becomes.  In a few boisterous minutes, the Republican presidential race was crystallized around the question that has been asked for months: Can anyone stop Donald Trump, or will the New York billionaire bulldoze the party elites with tough talk and a ­no-quarter antiestablishment message that has allowed him to dominate the GOP race for months?

Rarely has the division between Trump and party elites been more apparent than it was on the debate stage Saturday night at the Peace Center here. Refusing to bow to party orthodoxy or even politeness, Trump trashed one of the most revered families in Republican politics and made a big political bet that standing his ground is better than backing down, no matter how much he is under fire.

This was by far the rowdiest of any of the GOP debates, with Trump accusing Texas Sen. Ted Cruz of being a liar and with Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida tangling again over immigration.

Washington Post, Bernie Sanders and the clash of memory, Jonathan Capehart, Feb. 13, 2016. This is a story where memory and historical certitude clash. Where the doubt of a campaign strategist slams up Bernie Sanders at 1962 University of Chicago CORE sitin Danny Lyon photoagainst a university archive. Where the word of a proud photographer conflicts with the pride of an ex-wife and friends. Where the civil rights activism of Bernie Sanders and Bruce Rappaport collide.

All hell broke loose when I wrote Thursday that folks should “stop sending around this photo of ‘Bernie Sanders.’ ”

That’s the now-famous one of a dark-haired, bespectacled student leader addressing a sit-in at the University of Chicago. [Shown at left from the University of Chicago archives, and taken by now-famed photographer and film maker Danny Lyon, then a student.]

Devine gave the piece life when told me on Wednesday, “To be honest we are not 100% sure if it is or not.” This was after officials at the University of Chicago confirmed to me that the caption on the 1962 photo was changed in January from Sanders to Rappaport after a number of alumni came forward last year to insist that the young man in question was not the former but the latter.

“I thought your piece was outrageous,” Danny Lyon told me when we spoke on Friday. I can’t fault the famed civil rights-era photographer’s reaction. Unbeknownst to me until after my post was published, Lyon told book publisher Phaidon earlier this month that Sanders is indeed the person he photographed. Then, in response to my blog post, Lyon took to his blog with what he said were “newly discovered pictures” from contact sheets from the same roll of film he used 54 years ago.

Men's Trait, Pro-Clinton Columnist In Bed With Clinton Staffer — Literally, Jeremiah Lechler, Feb. 13, 2016. Over the past 24 hours, a flurry of scandal has unfolded involving MSNBC contributor, Washington Post opinion columnist and prolific Clinton supporter Jonathan Capehart. Writing an opinion piece for the Washington Post, Capehart sought to sling mud at Bernie Sanders — Swiftboat-style — in questioning Bernie Sanders’ past achievements in fighting for civil rights on behalf of African-American communities in the 1960s. (This, itself, isn’t even an original idea, as Capehart was simply jumping on the Establishment’s anti-Sander claims, which continue time after time to be disproved or found to be outright lies.

But that is not the central thesis of this story. Instead, let’s look a little more closely at Jonathan Capehart himself, and the flurry of lies and misdirections for which he is quickly becoming known. Capehart, who currently offers his opinions to readers of the Washington Post and viewers on MSNBC, has spent the past five years in a long-term relationship with Nicholas Schmit IV, a long-term Clinton aide. Schmit has served in various capacities for the Clinton family and the US State Department under Clinton since 2004. You can see his full resume on LinkedIn, but we’ve summarized the key timeline of his career here.

Instead of admitting his mistake and moving on, Capehart has doubled-down and attacked anyone who questions his “journalistic integrity” as an opinion writer, refusing to acknowledge that his story was factually inaccurate and has already been widely disproven.

[Capehart responded via Twitter]: "Last I checked, you neither know me or know what I do exactly. So stand down."

MSNBC, John Lewis clarifies comments on Bernie Sanders, Alex Seitz-Wald, Feb. 13, 2016. Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis on Saturday clarified comments he made earlier this week questioning Sen. Bernie Sanders’ involvement in the civil rights movement. Lewis, who is supporting Hillary Clinton over Sanders in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, had said he never met Sanders.

“In the interest of unity, I want to clarify the statement I made at Thursday’s news conference,” Lewis said in a statement from the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, which endorsed Clinton on Thursday.

“I was responding to a reporter’s question who asked me to assess Sen. Sanders’ civil rights record. I said that when I was leading and was at the center of pivotal actions within the Civil Rights Movement, I did not meet Sen. Bernie Sanders at any time. The fact that I did not meet him in the movement does not mean I doubted that Sen. Sanders participated in the Civil Rights Movement, neither was I attempting to disparage his activism. Thousands sacrificed in the 1960s whose names we will never know, and I have always given honor to their contribution.”

Lewis had also suggested that he had known Bill and Hillary Clinton during the civil rights era, a comment he also clarified. ”If you take a look at a transcript of my statement, you will find I did not say that I met Hillary and Bill Clinton when I was chairman of SNCC in the 1960s. My point was that when I was doing the work of civil rights, led the Voter Education Project and organized voter registration in the South in the 1970s, I did cross paths with Hillary and Bill Clinton in the field. They were working in politics, and Bill Clinton became attorney general of Arkansas in the 1970s as well. That began a relationship with them that has lasted until today,” Lewis said in the statement.

The clarification comes as both Clinton and Sanders make aggressive efforts to court African-American voters ahead of primaries in South Carolina and other Southern states. Lewis is a prominent civil rights activist who still has scars from injuries he received on the Edmund Pettus Bridge during the march from Selma to Montgomery for voting rights. Sanders was a student organizer at the University of Chicago during the era.

Flag of Turkey

Washington Post, Turkey strikes Kurdish militia in Syria, demands it withdraw, Orhan Coskun and Daren Butler, Feb. 13, 2016.  The groups had been able to capitalize on Russia bombing raids to take an air base from Syrian rebels. Turkey’s military shelled Kurdish militia targets in northern Syria on Saturday, and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu demanded that the group, known as the YPG, withdraw from the area, further complicating the conflict across the NATO member’s border.

Meanwhile, Syrian government forces captured another village near Aleppo on Saturday, tightening the noose around ­rebel-held parts of the northern city, Syrian state television and an opposition activist group said.

Feb. 12

Financial Times, Syria ceasefire: What does it mean? Erika Solomon, Feb. 12, 2016. World powers, led by Russia and the United States, are aiming to implement a “cessation of hostilities” by the end of next week. This move is a fervent attempt to try to halt chaos in Syria that was spinning out of control. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warning of a “new world war” as regional power Saudi Arabia announced it wanted to plan a ground intervention. Framed as part of the US-led anti-Isis coalition battle, most observers saw it as a way for Gulf countries and Turkey to ensure their influence in Syria and try to shore up the rebels they have backed. The opposition looked on the verge of collapse after a major assault on Aleppo this past week by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces under Russian air cover.

Bashar and Asma AssadAssad is shown in a file photo with his Western-educated wife, Asma Assad, who is of Sunni Muslim background in contrast to her husband's Shia-related Alawite sect.

BBC, Assad 'vows to retake all of Syria', Staff report, Staff report, Feb. 12, 2016. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to retake "the whole country", in an interview published hours after a pause in hostilities was agreed. He told AFP news agency the involvement of other countries in Syria meant that "the solution will take a long time." Earlier, the UN said it hoped to start delivering aid to some besieged areas in Syria within the next 24 hours.

Washington Post, Skepticism greets Syria truce deal on worries over Russian bombing, Liz Sly and Zakaria Zakaria, Feb. 12, 2016. Syrian opposition groups cautiously welcomed a truce deal Friday aimed at halting the bloodshed in Syria, but raised worries that it leaves room for Russia to continue a bombing campaign to aid Syria’s government. The international agreement announced in Munich — backed by the United States, Russia and others — calls for a “temporary cessation” of hostilities to begin in a week. It also calls for the delivery of humanitarian aid to besieged communities on both sides of the conflict and the resumption of stalled peace talks in Geneva later this month.

Reuters via Yahoo, Syria rebels say get more missiles from Assad's enemies, Tom Perry, Feb. 12, 2016.  Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's foreign enemies have sent rebels new supplies of ground-to-ground missiles to confront a Russian-backed offensive by the government near Aleppo, stepping up support in response to the attack, two rebel commanders said.

Today's Zaman (Turkey), Davutoğlu signals Turkish action after fall of Aleppo corridor, staff report, Feb. 12, 2016. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has implied that Turkey will take action after the capture of the town of Azez in Syria, a strategic corridor between Aleppo and Turkey for rebel groups, by Syrian regime troops backed by Russian airstrikes. When asked whether Turkey will take action to reopen the corridor to Aleppo, Davutoğlu said, “Wait for the next few days and you will have the answer,” Daily Hürriyet reported on Friday.

WND, Putin aim in Syria 'to destroy Europe,' Jerome R. Corsi, Feb. 12, 2016. Attack could flood EU with millions more Syrian migrants.

Donald Trump Pointing Finger Gage Skidmore DMCADonald Trump (file photo courtesy Gage Skidmore)

CNN, Trump threatens to sue Cruz for 'not being a natural born citizen,' Eugene Scott, Feb. 12, 2016. Donald Trump on Friday threatened to sue Ted Cruz for "not being a natural born citizen" if the Texas senator "doesn't clean up his act" and stop running negative ads against him. "If @TedCruz doesn't clean up his act, stop cheating, & doing negative ads, I have standing to sue him for not being a natural born citizen," he tweeted.

Trump has previously argued that if Cruz won the Republican nomination, Democrats would argue that the Canada-born Texas senator was ineligible for the presidency. Last month, Trump asked a rally if he should sue Cruz "just for fun" over the issue. Earlier Friday, Trump questioned the sincerity of Cruz's faith, accusing his opponent of being "so dishonest." "How can Ted Cruz be an Evangelical Christian when he lies so much and is so dishonest?" the Republican front-runner tweeted.

Trump also had called Cruz's honesty into question in a tweet Thursday night. "Lying Cruz put out a statement, 'Trump & Rubio are w/Obama on gay marriage.' Cruz is the worst liar, crazy or very dishonest. Perhaps all 3?" Trump said.Thursday night. "Lying Cruz put out a statement, 'Trump & Rubio are w/Obama on gay marriage.' Cruz is the worst liar, crazy or very dishonest. Perhaps all 3?" Trump said.

"There is more than a little irony in Donald accusing anyone of being nasty given the amazing torrent of insults and obscenities and vulgarities that come out of his mouth," Cruz told reporters in Greenville, South Carolina. "Being attacked by Donald, it is always colorful. I will give him this: he's not boring." Cruz communication director Rick Tyler said Trump was having a "Trumpertantrum," a line the Texas senator has used in recent weeks.

Trump previously slammed his chief presidential rival as a "total liar" as Cruz and his allies have claimed that Trump favors government-run, universal health care. "Look, Ted Cruz is a total liar. I am so against Obamacare. I've been saying it for two years in my speeches, I'm going to repeal and replace Obamacare," Trump said earlier this month on ABC's "This Week." "I don't even know where he gets this."

The Intercept, Henry Kissinger’s War Crimes Are Central to the Divide Between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, Dan Froomkin, Feb. 12 2016. The sparring during Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate Hillary Clinton Buttonbetween Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders over whether Henry Kissinger is an elder statesman or a pariah has laid bare a major foreign policy divide within the Democratic Party. Clinton and Sanders stand on opposite sides of that divide. One represents the hawkish Washington foreign policy establishment, which reveres and in some cases actually works for Kissinger. The other represents the marginalized non-interventionists, who can’t possibly forgive someone with the blood of millions of brown people on his hands.

Washington Post, DNC rolls back Obama ban on contributions from federal lobbyists, Tom Hamburger and Paul Kane, Feb. 12, 2016. The Democratic National Committee has rolled back restrictions introduced by images/B arack_Obama_Situation_Room_WH.jpgpresidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008 that banned donations from federal lobbyists and political action committees. The decision was viewed with disappointment Friday morning by good government activists who saw it as a step backward in the effort to limit special interest influence in Washington. Some suggested it could provide an advantage to Hillary Clinton’s fundraising efforts.

“It is a major step in the wrong direction,” said longtime reform advocate Fred Wertheimer. “And it is completely out of touch with the clear public rejection of the role of political money in Washington,” expressed during the 2016 campaign.

Thought Matters, Citizen Trump, Joel L. Swerdlow, Feb. 12, 2016. A fleshy-faced man stands in front of an enlarged image of his own face, spreads his arms, smiles at the adoring crowd, and proclaims, “Every straw vote, every independent poll shows that I will be elected. I know, it does seem too good to be true.”

Donald Trump? No, Charles Foster Kane, fictional protagonist of the 1941 classic Citizen Kane. Such Trump-like statements fill the film, consistently voted the number one movie of all time and celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

The most important truth about Trump will not be his eventual electoral fate, but what he represents about our citizenry and our political process. And, while today’s candidates may be louder and more absurd than ever, these are not new revelations. As Citizen Kane shows, any nostalgia we may feel for a golden age of unbiased and fact-based political coverage is a fallacy. In Citizen Kane, Hermann Mankiewicz never pulled back the camera to reveal this bigger picture, instead leaving it to viewers to draw their own conclusions about the dangers posed by putting a media man on the campaign trail. But his use of the authoritative newsreel voice throughout the film—in many ways a precursor to the seductive certainty of people like Trump — along with the fact that Kane’s campaign was eventually derailed by a sex scandal, shows us that Hermann clearly knew where the relationship between politics and the media was headed. 

Dr. Joel L. Swerdlow is an author, editor, journalist, researcher, and educator. A senior writer and editor at National Geographic for 10 years, his published works include "To Heal a Nation: The Story of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial."

Feb. 11

OpEdNews, Review: Stacey Hunter Hecht and David Schultz, "Presidential Swing States: Why Only Ten Matter," Marta Steele, Feb. 11, 2016. This riveting, excellently edited collection of essays on ten swing states and two others, "pre-swing" and "post-swing," is well preceded by two richly explanatory introductions and a conclusion that lend clear perspectives to the whole. The balance of the book focuses on what the volume editors consider the ten swing states that these days decide presidential elections.

These ten states are Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Iowa. Missouri used to be one and Indiana may become one, and so discussions of these two are also included to illustrate how a state joins the swing category or exits from it.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), A tale of two Cubans -- one an American hero, the other not so praiseworthy, Wayne Madsen (an author, investigative reporter and former Navy intelligence officer shown in a file photo), Feb. 11, 2016 (Subscription required.) There are some similarities but many fundamental differences between Cuban immigrants to the United States Otto Macias and Rafael Cruz.....Rafael Cruz, Sr. [father of GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz] did not become a U.S. citizen until 2005. His early years remain clouded in mystery with strong suspicions that his later "finding Jesus" was after a long and clandestine career with the CIA, one that saw him cross paths with presidential assassins, oil company brigands, and other unsavory characters.

Sirhan SirhanInformation Clearing House, Man Shot Alongside RFK Says Sirhan Sirhan Should Be Granted Parole, Steve Fiorina, Feb. 11, 2016. Paul Schrade, now 91 years old, was shot in the head on June 5, 1968, at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles while standing alongside Kennedy. Schrade contends that Sirhan was not the only shooter that night. In an exclusive interview that aired on 10News Tuesday night, Schrade stated that Kennedy was actually killed by a second gunman.

Washington Post, Sirhan Sirhan denied parole despite a Kennedy confidant’s call for the assassin’s release, Peter Holley, Feb. 11, 2016. After decades of investigation, Paul Schrade has no doubt about the identity of the man who shot him in the head shortly after midnight on June 5, 1968, in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel: It was Sirhan Sirhan, the same gunman convicted of assassinating Robert F. Kennedy. And yet, when Schrade came face to face with Sirhan for the first time in nearly 50 years, at a parole hearing in San Diego on Wednesday, he argued that the notorious gunman wasn’t Kennedy’s killer.

But the panel wasn’t swayed and Sirhan [shown in a 2016 photo] was denied parole for the 15th time, according to the Associated Press, which noted: Commissioners concluded after more than three hours of intense testimony at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Center that Sirhan did not show adequate remorse or understand the enormity of his crime.

Still, the AP reported, Schrade forgave his shooter during the hearing and apologized to Sirhan not doing more to win his release. “I should have been here long ago and that’s why I feel guilty for not being here to help you and to help me,” Schrade said. The fatal bullets, Schrade argued, were fired from a different shooter’s gun.

Sirhan Sirhan

Sirhan Sirhan is shown in a photo upon his arrest in 1968

JIP Editor's Note: Important new books and citizen efforts, including by the new Citizens Against Political Assassinations, are compiling additional evidence that Sirhan, a Christian of Palestinian descent and no strong political views, was most probably a mind-controlled patsy who took the fall for Robert Kennedy's murder, with scant intention or remembrance of the circumstances. 

Cliven Bundy Mullnomah County Sheriff's OfficeCliven Bundy Mullnomah County Sheriff's Office

Washington Post, Cliven Bundy arrested in Portland as Oregon occupiers say they will surrender, Sarah Kaplan and Carissa Wolf, Feb. 11, 2016. Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher at the center of an armed standoff with federal officials in 2014, was arrested Wednesday in Portland, Ore., according to jail records and news reports. He was reportedly on his way to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in isolated southeastern Oregon, where an armed occupation in its 41st day seemed to be coming to an end. The occupation had been organized by Bundy’s sons, Ammon and Ryan, who are now in jail facing felony charges of conspiracy to impede a federal officer. The last remaining members of the occupation had said they would turn themselves in on Thursday morning, after the FBI appeared to close in on their encampment.

Sacramento Bee, As climate change disasters loom, it's no time to discard Obama's environmental legacy, Wayne Madsen, Feb. 11, 2016. Critics, particularly big businesses and right-wing conservatives, keep carping about the costs of the Obama administration's well-conceived campaign to fight climate change. Can you imagine how much they will carp 20 or 30 years from now when our low-lying coastal cities are flooded with ocean water and millions of acres of farmland are fallow and our forests change from timber to tender?

ABC News, Victims: Feds Hid 'Sweetheart' Deal for Sex Offender With Deep Political Ties, James Hill and Matthew Mosk, Feb. 11, 2016. This July 27, 2006 arrest file photo made available by the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office, in Florida, shows Jeffrey Epstein, a Palm Beach financier. New court filings are bringing fresh attention to a Florida sex scandal that could become grist for political trouble in the 2016 Presidential campaign.The new legal filings allege that federal prosecutors in Florida “repeatedly” and “intentionally” violated the rights of dozens of teenage sex abuse victims by secretly negotiating an “extraordinarily lenient” deal with a wealthy Palm Beach financier known in the past to have socialized with powerful business and political figures -- including former President Bill Clinton and current GOP front-runner Donald Trump.

Mother Jones, Civil Rights Hero John Lewis Slams Bernie Sanders, Pema Levy and Tim Murphy, Feb. 11, 2016. When a reporter asked Lewis to comment on Sanders' involvement in the movement—Sanders as a college student at the University of Chicago was active in civil rights work—the congressman brusquely interrupted him. "Well, to be very frank, I'm going to cut you off, but I never saw him, I never met him," Lewis said. "I'm a chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for three years, from 1963 to 1966. I was involved in the sit-ins, the freedom rides, the March on Washington, the march from Selma to Montgomery, and directed their voter education project for six years. But I met Hillary Clinton. I met President Clinton."

Rep. John Lewis officialEditor's note: Lewis (shown in a file photo) has been quoted separately as saying he did not meet the Clintons until the 1990s. The Mother Jones story resumes below:

The preeminent civil rights hero's pooh-poohing of Sanders came at a press conference where the Congressional Black Caucus PAC announced its endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president. The CBC PAC endorsement of Clinton was hosted at the Capitol Hill headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, which raises questions about the DNC's supposed impartiality in the Clinton-Sanders race. 

As Mother Jones reported previously, Sanders was involved in the campus chapter of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), another civil rights group: "During his junior year, Sanders, by then president of the university's CORE chapter, led a picket of a Howard Johnson's restaurant in Chicago, part of a coordinated nationwide protest against the motel and restaurant chain's racially discriminatory policies. Sanders eventually resigned his post at CORE, citing a heavy workload, and took some time off from school."

Under Sanders' leadership, the CORE group at University of Chicago joined forces with SNCC's campus chapter, held sit-ins to protest segregation in university-owned apartment buildings, and raised money for voter registration efforts focused on African Americans. Political observers have pointed to South Carolina as the state where Clinton has a shot at arresting Sanders' post-New Hampshire momentum due to her standing with black voters. With the fight on for black voters, endorsements from the African American community are important for each campaign — and Lewis' comments won't help Sanders

USA Today, U.S., Russia agree to a deal for a cease-fire in Syria's civil war, Jim Michaels, Feb. 11, 2016. Diplomats meeting in Munich agreed early Friday to implement a "cessation of hostilities" in Syria's John Kerrylong-running civil war and bring aid into the country to stem a humanitarian crisis that has displaced millions. Secretary of State John Kerry (shown in a file photo) announced the agreement after meeting with his Russian counterpart and other diplomats in an effort to reach a cease-fire in the nearly five-year-long war.

The goal is to have a cease-fire in a week’s time, Kerry said. The announcement amounted to a significant development in a civil war that has killed more than 250,000 people, caused mass destruction and created Europe's worst refugee crisis since World War II. The United States had been pressing for an immediate cessation of hostilities at the talks, but Russia had argued for a cease-fire to start March 1, which would give Assad’s military more time to consolidate gains against the rebels.

WorldNetDaily, Putin aim in Syria 'to destroy Europe,' Jerome R. Corsi, Feb. 11, 2016. Attack could flood EU with millions more Syrian migrants. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aim in Mohammed bin Salman al-Saudlaunching an assault against the rebel stronghold of Aleppo, Syria, is not only to keep President Bashar al-Assad in power but to weaken Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany by flooding Europe with millions more migrants this spring and summer, warns a top European foreign-policy analyst. The ultimate objective is to destroy the European Union, she contends.

“Merkel’s latest plan is for Turkey to stop the flow of refugees to Greece, which can no longer cope under the immense strain,” said Judy Dempsey, a nonresident senior associate with the Brussels-based Carnegie Europe and the editor and chief of Strategic Europe. On Wednesday, Turkey angrily rejected demands that it open its border to some 30,000 Syrian “refugees” fleeing the Russian airstrikes supporting the Assad-led Syrian government assault on Aleppo.

On Thursday, Al Arabiya reported Saudi Arabia has reached a “final” and “irreversible” decision to send military forces to Syria to back the Sunni militants in Aleppo. Saudi Brig. Gen. Ahmad Al-Assiri told reporters on Thursday that Riyadh is “ready” and will fight with the U.S.-led coalition to defeat ISIS militants in Syria by sending ground troops into the conflict. The statement came as Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman (shown in a file photo) visited NATO headquarters in Brussels to discuss the Syrian civil war.

Feb. 10

WIAT-TV (Birmingham, AL), Don Siegelman’s prosecution raises questions about politics, DOJ, Sherri Jackson, Feb. 10, 2016 (video 5:57 min.). Raw deal or corruption?  Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman’s prosecution on federal corruption charges has raised questions about politics and the Department of Justice. Red flags surfaced when former Federal District Judge Mark Fuller had Siegelman handcuffed, shackled and sent immediately to a federal prison on bribery and corruption charges in Alabama’s Middle District back in 2006. Since that time, Siegelman has appealed his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming that he is a political prisoner, which is a notion rejected by the justice department.

If you ask political insiders, and those familiar with the inner workings of the Department of Justice like we did, they will tell you that Don Siegelman is in prison because of politics. Just recently, Siegelman tried to discuss his case from prison in a live radio interview by telephone. But, he was abruptly cut off. According to his son and attorney Joseph Siegelman, he was sent to confinement inside a Special Housing Unit at Oakdale Federal Corrections Institution. The younger Siegelman found that out after not hearing from his dad for weeks.

Retired Federal Judge U.W. Clemon had this response to Siegelman’s treatment after that interview: “That’s rather alarming in a Democratic society and I’m very disappointed that the Obama administration would allow it to happen.” In our investigation of the Siegelman case, CBS42 News has been denied an interview with Don Siegelman at Oakdale FCI 1. Warden Becky Clay sent us a denial letter nine months after our initial request, citing “security reasons.” The initial request was in July 2014.

We have repeatedly asked for a review of our request. As late as February 10, 2015, we have been told from a person familiar with our request but not authorized to give an official statement that “there is still no final decision made on the matter.”

According to Clemon, “It gives added weight to the contention, one in which I believe that Don Siegelman is in fact a political prisoner. I believe he is there because he engaged in the political activity of campaigning for governor and seeking to have the voters approve a lottery and that basically for that reason he is now in federal prison.” Clemon served in Alabama’s Northern District for 30 years and has voiced major concerns about the peculiarity of the corruption cases brought against Siegelman dating back to 2002. Former Alabama Attorney General Troy King says what happened with Siegelman is an epidemic in the U.S. Courts.

Washington Post, Congressional Black Caucus to formally endorse Clinton on Thursday, Paul Kane, Feb. 10, 2016. The Congressional Black Caucus is rushing to defend Hillary Clinton, following what many black lawmakers said was an expected loss in New Hampshire but one that should not hurt her in the next round of voting.

James ClyburnOn Thursday morning, the CBC’s leaders will appear at the Democratic National Committee to formally endorse Clinton for president, through the CBC political action committee. The group will then disburse its African-American lawmakers to states where black voters are crucial, particularly in South Carolina’s Democratic primary on Feb. 27. Rep. James E. Clyburn (S.C.), the No. 3 House Democratic leader and the most prominent South Carolina Democrat, has since then said he is considering backing Clinton. He is shown in his official photo.

Foreign Policy, Inside Hillary Clinton’s Massive Foreign-Policy Brain Trust, John Hudson, Feb. 10, 2016. The campaign has enlisted several hundred experts to advise the former secretary of state. Is it too big to fail? Every day, in offices across Washington, scores of foreign-policy advisors who Hillary Clinton has never met are drafting policy memos for her that she will never read. The group of advisors is so large, officials in the Clinton campaign cannot offer a definitive estimate of its size. “Several hundred” is the stock answer. It is so decentralized, officials admit they no longer directly control its membership.

Despite its unwieldiness, this network of policy experts has become one of Clinton’s most important weapons against her challenger for the Democratic nomination for president, Bernie Sanders. Not only does her phalanx of surrogates routinely bash the Vermont senator for his views on foreign policy, their vast breadth has created the impression that Clinton has locked up the Democratic Party’s entire stable of foreign-policy hands.

Washington Post, The ill-timed and unremarkable presidential campaign of Chris Christie, Janell Ross, Feb, 10, 2016. A look back at the campaign that was -- and wasn't. From the beginning of his presidential Chris Christiecampaign, Chris Christie told voters as often and as forcefully as possible that he -- unlike Marco Rubio, unlike Ted Cruz, unlike Donald Trump, unlike Carly Fiorina and unlike Ben Carson -- was a governor. He knew how to make tough and smart decisions. He knew how to lead. The only problem was that as a governor of a state home to more than a few real workhorse news organizations, Christie's real rather than self-assessed results were also easy to find.

Christie's time was 2012, when Republicans who weren't in love with Mitt Romney clamored for a reluctant New Jersey governor to step forward. He decided to wait. This time around, there were bigger anti-union warriors in the White House race (see Scott Walker). There are brighter, shinier, younger party stars. There are people with more solid governor's resumes. And, for sure, there's someone in the race who is ruder, brasher, bolder and meaner. And his name is Donald Trump.

Washington Post, Fiorina ends her Republican presidential campaign, Jenna Johnson, Abby Phillip and Robert Costa, Feb, 10, 2016. The former Hewlett-Packard CEO made early gains but Carly Fiorinawas outspent and lost momentum. Former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina said Wednesday that she is suspending her campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, following a lackluster showing in the New Hampshire primary.

Legal Schnauzer, Judge in Mike Hubbard case has family ties to the law firm that now is trying to keep the Alabama House Speaker from an up-close view of our state prisons, Roger Shuler, Feb. 10, 2016. The judge in the Mike Hubbard corruption case used to be the primary partner in the law firm that now is helping to defend the Alabama House Speaker. In fact, Judge Jacob Walker's family built the firm that now is trying to earn a not-guilty verdict for Hubbard on a 23-count indictment of ethics-law violations. When you add this information to the affidavit Montgomery political consultant Baron Coleman filed, claiming possible prosecutorial misconduct, today's hearing in the case should be filled with intrigue.

Washington Post, This Kennedy confidant has spent decades calling for the release of RFK’s killer, Peter Holley, Feb, 10, 2016. After decades of investigation, Paul Schrade has no doubt about the identity of the man who shot him in the head shortly after midnight on June 5, 1968, in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel: It was Sirhan Sirhan, the same gunman convicted of assassinating Robert F. Kennedy.

And yet, when Schrade comes face to face with Sirhan for the first time in 50 years, at a parole hearing in San Diego on Wednesday, he is expected to argue that the notorious gunman wasn’t Kennedy’s killer, according to Shane O’Sullivan, author of “Who Killed Bobby? The Unsolved Murder of Robert F. Kennedy.”

The 91-year-old Schrade, a Kennedy family friend, was working as the labor chair of the senator’s presidential campaign in 1968. He was walking behind Kennedy when the Democratic candidate was shot four times. In part because Kennedy was struck from behind, Schrade has long advanced the argument that Sirhan fired shots that night — but not the ones that killed Kennedy, according to the Associated Press.

The fatal bullets, Schrade argues, were fired from a different shooter’s gun.

RT, Syria invasion plan? Turkey will defend its ‘Aleppo brothers,’ says PM Davutoglu, Staff report, Feb. 10, 2016. Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu pledged to return a “historical debt” to Turkey’s “Aleppo brothers” who helped defend the country in the early 20th century, just days after Russia warned of Ankara’s intentions to invade Syria as the rebels there falter. Davutoglu was apparently referring to World War One and subsequent events in the Turkish War of Independence, seemingly glorifying the defense and retaking of Turkish cities from the Allied forces. Yet, he failed to mention that the Turks had been drawn into the war by Ottoman imperial ambitions.

Alarmingly, the statement comes less than a week after Russia’s Defense Ministry warned that Turkey was preparing a military invasion of Syria and is trying to conceal illegal activity on its Syrian border. At a press briefing, the US State Department chose not to reveal what was discussed at the ambassador’s meeting, but when RT’s Gayane Chichakyan pressed Kirby with a question regarding Davutoglu’s statement on “defending Aleppo,” here is the vague response she received:

“You should talk to the Turks about what they are implying or inferring or suggesting in that statement,” Kirby said. “We continue to believe two things. One, there isn’t going to be a military solution to this conflict. The second thing, we do look for Turkey’s assistance on the military front when it comes to fighting Daesh [IS].”

Counterpunch via Information Clearing House, Putin’s Aleppo Gamble Pays Off, Mike Whitney, Feb. 10, 2016. Last week’s game-changing triumph in northern Syria has moved the Russian-led coalition to within striking distance of a decisive victory in Aleppo. Recent peace talks in Geneva were convened with one goal in mind, to prevent Syrian President Bashar al Assad and loyalist forces from retaking Aleppo.

While it’s impossible to know whether Turkey, Saudi Arabia or the US will actually invade Syria, it’s clear by the panicky reaction to the encirclement of Aleppo, that all three countries feel their regional ambitions are more closely aligned with those of the jihadists than with the elected government in Damascus.  This tacit alliance between the militants and their sponsors speaks volumes about the credibility of Washington’s fake war on terror.

New York Times, New Hampshire Takeaways: Trust, Experience and Message Count, Patrick Healy, Feb. 10, 2016. More than half a million voters cast ballots in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, rewarding Donald J. Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont with resounding victories, and sending some candidates home to rethink their campaigns. But the results also tell much about the electorate and the challenges the contenders face going forward. Here are some key takeaways from the nation’s first primary. Editor's comment: Isn't it bizarre to claim, as here, that experience counted in these results?

Oregonian/OregonLive, Oregon standoff: Who are remaining occupiers Sean Anderson, Sandy Anderson, David Fry and Jeff Banta? Elliot Njus, Feb. 10, 2016. The FBI surrounded the four remaining armed occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Wednesday.

The Washington Post, Is Gawker slowly exposing the ugly underbelly of D.C.’s ‘transactional’ journalism?  Callum Borchers, Feb. 10, 2016. Gawker on Tuesday published the latest revelation from its public records request for all email correspondence between former deputy assistant secretary of state Philippe Reines, a top aide to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, and members of the press.

Gawker posted a series of emails between Reines and former Atlantic contributing editor Marc Ambinder that show Ambinder allowing Reines to dictate word choice and framing in a story about a July 2009 policy speech delivered by Clinton. In exchange, Reines gave Ambinder, now an editor-at-large at The Week, an early look at Clinton’s prepared remarks — a scoop that allowed him to write a preview of a speech that other journalists had to wait to see live.

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The Indicter, NATO’s Propaganda War: A case study on Norwegian propaganda in Libya, Jón Karl Stefánsson and Floyd Webster Rudmin (Professor Rudmin is member of The Indicter’s editorial board), Feb. 10, 2016. Norway is probably not the first country that comes to mind when thinking of biased media and war propaganda. Norway is, however, a NATO member state and has participated in numerous military endeavours on directed by NATO’s command. In the Libyan war of 2011, Norway was a very active participant.

Feb. 9

Washington Post, Trump, Sanders win New Hampshire primary, Results signal a remarkable victory for two outsiders, Dan Balz, Juliet Eilperin and David A. Fahrenthold, Feb. 9, 2016. Hillary Clinton’s defeat in New Hampshire was so resounding that her campaign conceded immediately when the polls closed at 8 p.m. Among Republicans, Donald Trump had been ahead for so long that the GOP contest had already become a race for second, third and fourth.

Republican presidential candidates, from left, John Kasich, Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Rand Paul take the stage during the CNN Republican presidential debate at the Venetian Hotel & Casino on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)RealClearPolitics.com, New Hampshire Presidential Primary polls, Feb. 9, 2016. ARG polls released Feb. 9: Republicans: Trump 33, Rubio 14, Kasich 17, Cruz 10, Bush 9, Christie 8, Fiorina 3, Carson 1: Trump +16.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie SandersDemocrats: Sanders 53, Clinton 44: Sanders +9.

RealClearPolitics recent New Hampshire primary poll averages. Republicans. Democrats

The Intercept, GOP Candidates Compete Over Who Will Commit Most War Crimes Once Elected, Murtaza Hussain and Dan Froomkin, Feb. 9, 2016. At a rally in New Hampshire on Monday night, Donald Trump was criticizing Ted Cruz for having insufficiently endorsed torture — Cruz had said two nights earlier that he would bring back waterboarding, but not “in any sort of widespread use” — when someone in the audience yelled out that Cruz was a “pussy.” Trump, in faux outrage, reprimanded the supporter, repeating the allegation for the assembled crowd: “She said he’s a pussy. That’s terrible. Terrible.”

The spectacle of one Republican presidential candidate being identified by another as a “pussy” for failing to sufficiently endorse an archetypal form of torture exemplifies the moral state of the current race for the GOP nomination. The Republican candidates have seemingly been competing with one another over who would commit the gravest war crimes if elected. In recent months, one candidate or another has promised to waterboard, do a “helluva lot worse than waterboarding,” repopulate Guantánamo, engage in wars of aggression, kill families of suspected terrorists, and “carpet bomb” Middle Eastern countries until we find out if “sand can glow in the dark.”

The over-the-top bombast plays well in front of self-selected Republican audiences — the crowd responded to the description of Cruz Monday night with full-throated chants of “Trump! Trump! Trump!” But such promises of future criminality from potential presidential nominees have outraged many legal experts.

Marco Rubio ButtonBuzzfeed, The Anxiety Of Being Marco Rubio, McKay Coppins, Feb. 9, 2016. Rubio’s flustered debate performance revealed something his close friends and allies have long known about him. “Marco, calm down.” Millions of people watched Marco Rubio’s televised tailspin in the opening minutes of last weekend’s Republican presidential debate — but what, exactly, they saw depended on the viewer.

To rivals, Rubio’s reflexive retreat to the same snippet of well-rehearsed rhetoric — over and over, and over, and over again — was proof of the freshman senator’s status as a lightweight. To supporters, the wobbly display was a forgivable fluke, one bad moment blown wildly out of proportion by a bloodthirsty press corps.

But to those who have known him longest, Rubio’s flustered performance Saturday night fit perfectly with an all-too-familiar strain of his personality, one that his handlers and image-makers have labored for years to keep out of public view. Though generally seen as cool-headed and quick on his feet, Rubio is known to friends, allies, and advisers for a kind of incurable anxiousness — and an occasional propensity to panic in moments of crisis, both real and imagined.

This jittery restlessness has manifested itself throughout Rubio’s life, from high school football games in Miami to high-profile policy fights in Washington — and in some ways, it’s been the driving force in his rapid political rise.

Washington Post, The controversy at Mount St. Mary’s goes national after professors are fired, Susan Svrluga, Feb. 9, 2016. Professors from universities across the country — from Stanford to North Carolina Central to the University of Nebraska to Harvard — signed a petition Tuesday calling on the Mount St. Mary’s University administration to reinstate professors who had been fired.   

Feb. 8

Washington Post, Bill Clinton erupts, and it’s 2008 all over again, Greg Sargent, Feb. 8, 2016. Multiple reports out this morning confirm that Bill Clinton dramatically escalated his criticism of Bernie Sanders at a New Hampshire rally late yesterday. According to one account, Bill Clinton hammered Sanders’s supporters for unleashing misogynistic attacks against Hillary’s high-profile female supporters, describing them as “vicious trolling and attacks that are literally too profane often, not to mention sexist, to repeat.” Bill also mocked Sanders for claiming to lead a revolution, claiming: “When you’re making a revolution, you can’t be too careful with the facts.

Washington Post, Ted Cruz needs an intervention, Jennifer Rubin, Feb. 8, 2016. It is no disgrace to lose a presidential primary. But it is quite another thing to lose because you, throughout your life, have been Ted Cruzhated if not uniformly, then widely and passionately. Other than Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), we are hard-pressed to recall a presidential candidate who so utterly failed to develop trust, respect and friendships in his adult life.

If Cruz does not make it to the presidency, he will no doubt blame the “establishment.” But whether he recognizes it or not, his wife and political advisers surely understand that alumni, roommates, law clerks, former staffers in the George W. Bush campaign and White House (and the president himself), members of Congress and others who have known Cruz — lots and lots of people — consider him socially awkward, nasty, dishonest, a blatant apple-polisher and all-around creepy guy.

Washington Post, The real problem with Marco Rubio’s scripted debate performance: His ideas, Paul Waldman, Feb. 8, 2016. The big political story of the day is the continued fallout from Marco Rubio’s Marco Rubio officialperformance in Saturday night’s Republican debate, when he repeated a particular line about Barack Obama multiple times, even after being ridiculed by Chris Christie for doing so.

What’s missing from much of the discussion is that Rubio is embracing some of the most lunatic ideas on the right — and he’s managing to do so without most in the media hearing the dog whistle, even as he’s being criticized for being overly scripted and robotic. So when Rubio says Obama “wants America to become more like the rest of the world,” he’s saying that Obama is trying to harm America, to bring it down, to weaken it, to punish it, to make it less than it has been and should be. Let’s pause before we proceed to acknowledge how positively insane this idea is.

Free Press via Smirking Chimp, New Hampshire: The Birthplace Of Electronic Election Theft, Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, Feb. 8, 2016. As the New Hampshire primary lurches toward the finish line, the reality of electronic election theft looms over the vote count. The actual computer voting machines were introduced on a grand scale in New Hampshire’s 1988 primary. The godfather was George H.W. Bush, then the Vice President. As former boss of the CIA, Bush was thoroughly familiar with the methods of changing election outcomes. The Agency had been doing it for decades in client states throughout the world.

In the Granite State, Bush was up against Bob Dole, long-time Senator from Kansas. Dole was much loved in hard-core Republican circles. But Bush had an ace-in-the-hole. For the first time, the votes would be cast and counted on electronic voting machines, in this case from Shoup Electronics.

Reuters, Russian firepower helps Syrian forces edge toward Turkey border, Suleiman Al-Khalidi and Humeyra Pamuk, Feb. 8, 2016. The Syrian army advanced toward the Turkish border on Monday in a major Syria's Flagoffensive backed by Russia and Iran that rebels say now threatens the future of their nearly five-year-old insurrection against President Bashar al-Assad. Iranian backed-militias played a key role on the ground as Russian jets intensified what rebels call a scorched earth policy that has allowed the military back into the strategic northern area for the first time in more than two years. The Russian-backed Syrian government advance over recent days amounts to one of the biggest shifts in momentum of the war, helping to torpedo the first peace talks for two years, which collapsed last week before they had begun in earnest.

United Nations investigators called for new sanctions on Syrian officials as well as leaders of the two most hardline rebel groups, Islamic State and the Nusra Front, accusing the three of mass killings, torture and disappearances of civilians in custody. 

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin with ISIS backdrop (Press TV image/DCMA)

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin with ISIS backdrop (Press TV image via DCMA)

Zero Hedge, Turkey, Saudi Arabia Mull Syria Ground Invasion As Russia, Hezbollah Decimate Rebels, Tyler Durden, “What’s going on in Syria can only go on for so long. At some point it has to change,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters on a plane back to Turkey from Latin America over the weekend. As we’ve documented extensively over the past several days, Ankara, Riyadh, and Doha have their backs against the wall when it comes to the effort to oust Bashar al-Assad and perpetuate Sunni hegemony in the Arabian Peninsula.

Saudi Arabian flagHezbollah has surrounded Aleppo and their advance is backed by what’s been described as an unrelenting Russian air campaign. The rebels’ supply lines to Turkey have been cut and without a direct intervention by either the US or the Gulf states, the battle for Syria will have been lost for the opposition, which pulled out of peace talks in Geneva citing the ongoing aerial bombardment by Moscow. Now, with time running out, both Saudi Arabia and Turkey are weighing ground invasions.

Over the weekend Erdogan blasted both Russia and the US. Erdogan's frustration reflects the fact that the various groups fighting to take control of Syria are now virtually guaranteed to lose. The only option now is a coordinated ground invasion by the rebels' Sunni benefactors. Underscoring just how close the world is to careening into World War III, various reports out over the weekend indicated that the Saudis may be preparing to stage 150,000 troops in Turkey.

Huffington Post, The Historic Battle for Syria, Joe Lauria, Feb. 8, 2016. As the Russian-backed Syrian army threatens to liberate Aleppo, potentially determining the outcome of five years of civil war, Saudi Arabia is challenging the US to lead a ground invasion that could escalate into an historic battle for a country that has been fought over for centuries.President Barack Obama has so far maintained he will not send U.S. ground forces into Syria, beyond a few hundred special forces. But the Saudis, the U.A.E. and Bahrain, driven by fierce regional ambitions, said last week they are ready to invade if the U.S. will lead, pressuring Obama to decide if he's willing to lose Syria to Russia and Iran.

Timothy GeithnerWashington Post, Geithner gets JPMorgan credit line to invest with Warburg Pincus, Miles Weiss and Kiel Porter, Feb. 8, 2016. The bank is one of the largest the former treasury secretary oversaw during the financial crisis. Former treasury secretary Timothy F. Geithner is preparing to borrow from JPMorgan Chase to help fund his new career in private equity. Geithner, 54, secured a credit line with JPMorgan, one of the largest banks he oversaw during the financial crisis, to finance personal investments in funds started by his current employer, Warburg Pincus, according to a filing with the New York State Department. He is borrowing money to invest in a $12 billion private-equity fund that the firm raised in November, its first main fund since he joined almost two years ago, a person familiar with the situation said.

Editor's Note: In May 2014, the Justice Integrity Project provided perspective in Geithner Defends Conduct In First Post-Treasury DC Appearance.  President Obama's pick to be the former first-term Treasury secretary (shown in an official photo) used his first Washington, DC public appearance following his resignation to defend his decision making and that of the rest of the Obama administration. The column and the book Presidential Puppetry examined the almost never-reported coincidence that Geithner's father had served at the Ford Foundation as the boss of President Obama's mother, Ann Dunham Soetoro, for a period of her still-mysterious work in East Asia.The significance? Even basic biographical details of some of the nation's top officials are ignored, especially if they might point the way to crony relationships at major institutions.

Feb. 7

New York Times, Bill Clinton Unleashes a Stinging Attack on Sanders, Jonathan Martin, Feb. 7, 2016. The former president, addressing supporters in New Hampshire, portrayed his wife’s opponent for the Democratic nomination as hypocritical, “hermetically sealed” and dishonest.  Mr. Clinton’s comments represented an escalation in the language that he and Mrs. Clinton’s campaign have used to attack Mr. Sanders, who has maintained a sizable advantage in the polls here. Mr. Clinton made headlines in 2008 for fiercely defending his wife, and leveling tough attacks on Senator Barack Obama, but he has been largely restrained so far in this campaign.

Marco Rubio Bumber StickerNational Public Radio, Rubio's Repeated Line Shakes Up Last Debate Before New Hampshire Votes, Ron Elving, Feb. 7, 2016. After six months of wrangling on various TV stages, the seven Republican Marco Rubio officialpresidential candidates who met in Manchester, N.H., Saturday night finally produced A Moment. The sharp exchange between Marco Rubio and Chris Christie near the beginning of the ABC News event cast a sudden shadow on Rubio's bright and rising star. "This notion that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing is just not true. He knows exactly what he's doing, he's trying to make the U.S. a different country," said Rubio passionately.

It was a thought he had expressed with feeling before, but on this night Rubio said it again and again and again – almost word for word – including several times within the space of two minutes. Christie was on him each time, calling him out for the robotic repetition and characterizing it as "what Washington does." The crowd seemed to be with Christie on this, as was much of the digital world. Suddenly there were mash-ups of Rubio's repetitions everywhere, and Twitter and other social media platforms were rife with derision. Commentators competed in ridiculing the Rubio "glitch."

It seemed important to Rubio to establish that Obama's failings and misdeeds were caused by wrong-headedness rather than any lack of maturity or experience. But after four repetitions of the same language, the concern seemed to have become an obsession.

Bloomberg News, Advantage Assad After Five Years of War in Syria, Selcan Hacaoglu, Henry Meyer, Dana Khraiche, Feb. 7, 2016. After five years of war and a quarter-million dead, President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies now have the upper hand in Syria, and they’ve seeking to drive home a growing battlefield advantage rather than negotiate. In the past week, the United Nations has tried to get peace talks under way in Geneva, European leaders met in London to seek ways to halt a refugee influx that’s playing political havoc across the continent.

But those events looked like sideshows to the action unfolding in northern Syria, where Assad’s forces -- backed by pro-Iranian fighters and reinforced from the air by Russian planes -- are moving closer to recapturing Aleppo and winning the most decisive victory of the war.

Feb. 6

NBC News, Madeleine Albright Slams Sanders on Foreign Policy While Supporting Clinton, Kristen Welker and Elizabeth Chuck, Feb. 6, 2016. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright slammed Bernie Sanders on Saturday, expressing concerns over the Democratic presidential contender's "lack of knowledge" about foreign policy. "We have to have a president that is ready on Day 1 to deal with problems," Albright told NBC News in an exclusive interview. "I have never seen such a complicated international situation, and we can't afford learning on the job."

Madeleine AlbrightAlbright (shown in a file photo), who has been stumping for fellow former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire this weekend, added that Sanders' responses to foreign policy questions at the last presidential debate "surprised" her. Earlier Saturday, during a Clinton rally in Concord, New Hampshire, Albright defended Clinton's progressive and foreign policy credentials, and also made a plea to young women in the audience to vote for Clinton, arguing she is the best candidate to defend women's rights.

"Just remember, there's a special place in hell for women who don't help each other," Albright — who was the first-ever female secretary of state — told the audience, repeating a catchphrase she has become known for.

Editor's Note: The Justice Integrity Project profiled Madeleine Albright's rise to power in a column last October: Madeleine Albright, Godmother To Foreign Policy Disasters Today, and we reported: "Let’s not applaud uncritically former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, as occurred this month when she lectured on the foreign policies that she hopes Hillary Clinton will pursue as president....Clinton has helped implement bipartisan foreign policies that are creating strategic and moral disasters, as evident in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and the mass migration of refugees to Europe." 

Feb. 5

Huffington Post, Hillary Is the Candidate of the War Machine, Jeffrey Sachs, Feb. 6, 2016. There's no doubt that Hillary is the candidate of Wall Street. Even more dangerous, though, is that she is the Hillary Clintoncandidate of the military-industrial complex. The idea that she is bad on the corporate issues but good on national security has it wrong. Her so-called foreign policy "experience" has been to support every war demanded by the U.S. deep security state run by the military and the CIA.

It is often believed that the Republicans are the neocons and the Democrats act as restraints on the warmongering. This is not correct. Both parties are divided between neocon hawks and cautious realists who don't want the US in unending war. Hillary is a staunch neocon whose record of favoring American war adventures explains much of our current security danger.

CNN, National poll: Sanders and Clinton neck-and-neck, y Jeremy Diamond, CNN February 5, 2016, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton are running even in a new national poll tracking support for the Democratic presidential race. Clinton garnered 44% to Sanders' 42%, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Friday. A sizeable 11% say they are undecided. The poll appears to signal a dramatic tightening of the Democratic race following Clinton's razor-thin victory over Sanders in the Iowa caucuses. 

Observer, Exclusive New Docs Throw Doubt on Julian Assange Rape Charges in Stockholm, Celia Farber, Feb. 5, 2016 (Publisher: Jared Kushner). As UN rules Wikileaks founder was 'arbitrarily detained,' he stands accused by two Swedish women — is the whole thing just Nordic neurosis? Note: The regrettable invasion of privacy that follows is strictly for the purpose of clarification about the events that took place in Stockholm in 2010, which has led to a five-year legal quagmire between Sweden, the United Kingdom and Ecuador. The matter has kept Julian Assange in various degrees of custody since December of 2010, and has cost U.K. taxpayers over 13 million pounds to date.

Two Swedish women — Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilen — had sex with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in Stockholm, in their respective apartments, in the month of August, 2010. He stands accused of three counts of sexual molestation and “unpeace” and one count of rape, by Swedish prosecutors, who initially dropped all charges against him, then revived them — just one of many inexplicable twists and turns in the gluey saga.

Was it rape? Was it somewhere in the “grey zone”?

When Ms. Ardin learned Mr. Assange had also slept with Ms. Wilen, and when he failed the golden rule of elemental post-coital communications, they locked arms and went to the police—not to charge him with rape, but to see if he could be compelled to take an HIV test, on a Saturday, in Stockholm.

The report contains several testimonies — Ms. Ardin, Ms. Wilen, two Swedish male journalists, Ms. Wilen’s ex boyfriend, brother, and several friends and colleagues of the two women. Finally, Mr. Assange himself. It closes with grainy photographs of a broken condom, as well as a condom tip — and the forensic analysis of experts from “Staten’s Kriminaltekniska Laboratorium” (The State’s Criminal Technological Laboratory) — offering forensic results about the exact conditions along the broken edge of the condom. (Ruled not to have been broken by an “instrument,” but to have failed by natural means.)

After the incidents for which he is wanted for questioning took place, in mid-August 2010, Mr. Assange remained in Sweden for five weeks, until September 27, during which time Swedish prosecutors once dropped the case altogether, only to re-open it days later. Prosecutor Marianne Ny was quoted in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter as having said: “Even if I’m wrong, I won’t give up.”

Mr. Assange was originally under arrest in absentia (but not charged) for four counts of sexual offense: one of unlawful coercion, two of molestation and one of rape. In August of 2015, all counts expired due to the statute of limitations, except for the rape charge, which will remain intact until 2020.

Feb. 4

President John F. Kennedy prepares to deliver remarks  Photo credit:  John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum / White HousePresident John F. Kennedy prepares to deliver remarks. Photo credit:  John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum / White House

WhoWhatWhy, Exclusive: List of Withheld JFK Assassination Documents, Russ Baker, Feb. 4, 2016. Here It Is — a Map to What We Can Still Learn.  Exciting news: WhoWhatWhy has obtained the complete list of 3,603 secret documents on the Kennedy assassination still being held by the US government. (Or, to be precise, what it admits to still holding.) Now we can at least get a peek at what they have been hiding. The list was obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request by FOIA specialist Michael Ravnitzky, who alerted us. The complete list is below [On WhoWhatWhy site). You’ll note that some documents are briefly characterized by subject, while others are less clearly identified.

The government has promised to release as many documents as possible in October, 2017, the 25th anniversary of the JFK Records Act, in which Congress mandated that all efforts be made to release everything in Washington’s possession unless an overriding case can be made for withholding in the national interest. Some — perhaps most — of these documents could be released at that time. Then again, they may be further withheld. The CIA in particular is likely to argue that some are just too sensitive to be made public. Still, knowing their subject matter makes it easier to press for disclosure, and to hold the government accountable by insisting it justify any continued withholdings.

Those who wish to look at the list should be forewarned that it’s a bit like looking at hieroglyphics. Most of the names and brief references will mean something only to a very few. Among the documents that caught our eye:

•  Lee Harvey Oswald’s CIA “201 File.” 201 files contain personality assessments
•  Records on David Morales, David Atlee Phillips, E. Howard Hunt, William King Harvey and others considered by top researchers prime suspects for participation in the planning and implementation of Kennedy’s murder.
•  Tax returns of Michael Paine, who with his wife Ruth provided housing and more for the Oswalds — Ruth also got Lee a job in the Texas School Book Depository — from which he purportedly shot Kennedy; Michael worked for the defense contractor Bell Helicopter.

JFKFacts.org, Denied: the JFK records the government doesn’t want you to see, Jeff Morley, Feb. 4, 2016. The invaluable WhoWhatWhy has posted a spreadsheet of the 3,600-plus assassination-related records that the U.S. government has never made public. The existence of the 3,600 records was first reported in JFK Facts last May. The WhoWhatWhy document, obtained by FOIA specialist Michael Ravnitsky, advances the story by providing new details about what exactly the government does not care to share with the American people. I’ve already called attention to seven key files that the CIA is hiding.

The National Archives staff, led by Martha Murphy Wagner, says that it is now preparing to release all of these documents online by October 2017. This list identifies many more documents relevant to the question, “Who killed JFK?” and still more of historical interest. Some that jumped out at me on first reading. Take look and send me your list of the five JFK documents you think should be made public.

Politico, Obama gets new pardon attorney, Josh Gerstein, Feb. 4, 2016. The Justice Department has named a veteran political corruption prosecutor from Philadelphia, Robert Zauzmer, to oversee the office that reviews applications for presidential pardons and commutations. Zauzmer faces a daunting task: digging through more than 10,000 applications to determine which to recommend granting and which should be denied. The backlog has mushroomed in the past couple of years after President Barack Obama announced a "clemency initiative" to offer early release to drug convicts who are serving long terms for gun crimes and meet other criteria.

The previous pardon attorney, Debbie Leff, departed last month after less than two years on the job. Sources say she was frustrated with a lack of adequate resources to comb through the thousands of pending applications before Obama is set to leave office next January. Just last month, the Justice Department posted 16 new job openings for lawyers in the pardon attorney's office. Justice Department officials say Zauzmer was deeply involved in another aspect of the Obama Administration's criminal justice reform efforts: the endorsement of a plan to allow re-sentencing of thousands of drug convicts who might have received shorter sentences if sentenced today. Zauzmer helped persuade other federal prosecutors to back the idea and then trained them in how to handle such re-sentencing cases, a DOJ official said.

Washington Post, Clinton blasts Wall St., but rakes in millions from banking titans, Matea Gold, Tom Hamburger and Anu Narayanswamy, Feb. 4, 2016. Through the end of December, donors at hedge funds, banks, insurance companies and other financial-services firms had given at least $21.4 million to support Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential run, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission filings by the Washington Post.

AP via TPM News, Oregon Standoff Leader Ammon Bundy And Armed Militiamen Indicted, Steven Duboise, Feb. 4, 2016. A federal grand jury has indicted Ammon Bundy and some of the men and women who joined him at the armed occupation of an Oregon wildlife refuge, authorities said Wednesday. However, the indictment remained sealed and further details on the charges were unavailable. Assistant U.S. Attorney Geoff Barrow said the documents would be unsealed within 24 hours. Barrow said the indictment was returned against the 11 people who have already been arrested and others, perhaps a reference to the last four holdouts at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Al Jazeera, Syrian forces break rebel siege of key towns, Staff report, Feb. 3, 2016. Offensive by forces loyal to President Assad takes Shia towns after three-year siege as Geneva peace talks called off. Syria's Syria's Flagarmy and its allies have broken a three-year rebel siege of two Shia towns in northwest Syria, the government and rebel groups said, cutting off a main supply route to nearby Turkey. The breakthrough comes after days of rapid military gains north of the major city of Aleppo, with Russian air strikes playing a key role in the advance.

The two towns of Nubul and Zahraa, with an estimated 60,000 population, are connected to the border by areas under the control of Kurdish militias that provided access. Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from Gaziantep, Turkey, said that in taking the towns, the government achieved in three days what it's been trying to do for three years. "There is no doubt this is a decisive turning point because at the end of the day, Turkey is the lifeline for the opposition. What we understand from pro-government sources is that this is just the beginning -- the aim is to reach the Turkish border." 

BBC. Julian Assange is being arbitrarily held, UN panel to say, Caroline Hawley, Feb. 4, 2016. A UN panel has ruled in favour of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange after he complained he was "arbitrarily detained", the BBC understands. Mr. Assange claimed asylum in London's Ecuadorean embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex assault claims, which he denies. The Met Police says Mr Assange would be arrested if he does leave the embassy. He earlier said his passport should be returned and his arrest warrant dropped if the UN panel ruled in his favour. In 2014, Mr Assange complained to the UN that he was being "arbitrarily detained" as he could not leave the embassy without being arrested.

Previous rulings by the panel have gone against countries with some of the world's worst human rights records, such as Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and Egypt. So a decision against Sweden and Britain in favour of Mr Assange is bound to be controversial. But it doesn't mean that he'll walk free. It's not legally binding. And British officials have made clear that the European arrest warrant against him remains in place.

Smirking Chimp, After Iowa ... Can Bernie Win a "Strip and Flip" Selection? Mimi Kennedy, Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, Feb. 4, 2016. Bernie Sanders has shown in Iowa that he’s a viable candidate … and more. Considering Bernie was down 50 points just a while ago, Iowa has sent a clear signal that this campaign must be taken seriously. But the terrain will quickly shift. Bernie will obviously do well in New Hampshire. Then the race will move to southern and bigger states, where Hillary may have an edge. But we’re not talking about demographics. The real terrain shift that concerns us is from a caucus state to ones where the votes are counted on electronic voting machines.

Feb. 3

Syria conflict: UN suspends peace talks in Geneva, Staff report, Feb. 3, 2016. The UN has suspended peace talks aimed at ending Syria's five-year civil war, just days after they began. But the organisation's special envoy Staffan de Mistura insisted negotiations had not failed and would resume on 25 February. Each side blamed the other for the collapse of the round. It came as the Syrian government said it had dealt a major blow to the opposition by cutting a key supply route to the rebel-held city of Aleppo. Syrian state television reported that government forces had broken the siege of Nubul and Zahraa, two towns north-west of Aleppo.

Washington Post, A tough call on Libya that still haunts: Clinton calls her 2011 decision smart power. Critics call it a failure to learn from Iraq, Kevin Sullivan, Charles Ommanney and Robert Davis, Feb. 3, 2016. Gregory Hauenstein photo, Hillary Clinton in Des Moines, IA, June 14, 2015 FlickrClinton has pointed to the international military operation as a signature moment in her four-year tenure as the top U.S. diplomat: “No one else could have played the role we did,” she wrote in her book Hard Choices, adding that acting with European and Arab allies helped “prevent what might have been the loss of tens of thousands of lives.”

But Libya today has deteriorated into a virtual failed state run by hundreds of private militias. Eighteen months after the initial airstrikes, U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in attacks by militants on a U.S. diplomatic post and a nearby CIA site in Benghazi. The North African nation has become a primary outpost for the Islamic State, which has exploited the chaos to take territory, train soldiers and prove its strength outside Syria and Iraq.

While the administration’s use of force was widely praised at the time, Libya has become a liability for Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and one of the central lines of attack on her by the leading Republican candidates — and some Democrats. (Photo of Clinton in Iowa by Gregory Hauenstein via Flickr.)

Washington Post, Hard feelings complicate Cruz’s effort to consolidate evangelical support, James Hohmann, Feb. 3, 2016. His campaign, full of bare-knuckled operatives who pride themselves on their take-no-prisoners approach to politics, might have poisoned the well. Ted Cruz won the Iowa caucuses because evangelicals turned out in record numbers and broke his way in the final days. For the Texas senator to win in South Carolina, he’ll need that to happen again. But the Cruz campaign, full of bare-knuckled operatives who pride themselves on their take-no-prisoners approach to politics, might have poisoned the well.

In the hours before Monday’s vote, his campaign circulated rumors that Ben Carson was planning to drop out. This incensed the normally mild-mannered retired neurosurgeon, who had reacted with surprising equanimity in the face of Donald Trump’s vicious attacks last fall. His wife Candy was also visibly upset when she had to deny the rumor at a caucus site.

Time via Yahoo, Trump: Cruz ‘Illegally Stole’ Iowa Caucus Win, Zeke J Miller and Sarah Begley, Feb. 3, 2016. Donald Trump isn't taking losing the Iowa caucuses lightly. After a brief effort to appear statesmanlike and spin his success positively, Trump is now accusing Texas Sen. Ted Cruz of stealing his first-place victory and calling for Cruz's win to be nullified or for a new Iowa vote to take place. On Tuesday, Trump declared the Cruz campaign's efforts around Carson "a disgrace."

Run time: 17 minutes

GOP Presidential hopeful Ben Carson denounced rival Ted Cruz's tactics. Press conference at National Press Club, Feb. 3, 2016 (17 min. video).


OpEdNews, There Is No Freedom Without Truth, Paul Craig Roberts (shown in a file photo), Feb. 3, 2016. Dear Western Peoples, if you wish to live in the freedom that was achieved in the West after centuries of struggle, wake up, Paul Craig Robertsfind time from less meaningful pursuits to become aware of what is being stolen from you. It is late in the game. If you do not stand up for truth, you will have no freedom as there is no freedom without truth.

Dwight D. Eisenhower was a five-star general in charge of the Normandy Invasion and a popular two-term President of the United States. Today he would be called a "conspiracy theorist." Eisenhower's successor, John F. Kennedy, realized that the military-security complex was a threat, but he underestimated the threat and paid for it with his life when he stood up to the military-security complex. In stating this fact, I have joined Eisenhower as a conspiracy theorist. (For a hair-raising account of the threat posed to President Kennedy by General Lyman Lemnitzer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, read chapter three in Richard Cottrell's book, Gladio, NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe.)

Conspiracies are real. There are many more of them than people are aware. Many government conspiracies are heavily documented by governments themselves with the official records demonstrating the conspiracies openly available to the public. Just Google, for example, Operation Gladio or the Northwoods Project. These conspiracies alone are sufficient to chastise those uninformed Western peoples who go around saying, "our government would never kill its own people."

Huffington Post, Rand Paul Is Suspending His Presidential Campaign, Mollie Reilly, Feb. 3, 2016. Not enough people stand with Rand, apparently. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is suspending his presidential campaign, Politico and CNN reported Wednesday. "It's been an incredible honor to run a principled campaign for the White House. Today, I will end where I began, ready and willing to fight for the cause of Liberty," the senator said in a statement on Wednesday, following his fifth place finish in the Iowa caucuses.

Paul, who has served in the Senate since 2011, launched his presidential bid in April. The self-described "libertarian-ish" candidate poised himself as an alternative to establishment candidates, touting his grassroots appeal. However, Paul failed to break ahead of the crowded GOP field, landing behind business mogul Donald Trump, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and others in most polls. His numbers further plummeted in the fall.

Fox News, Santorum suspends 2016 presidential campaign, endorses Marco Rubio, Staff report, Feb. 3, 2016. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum announced Wednesday in an exclusive interview on Fox Rick SantorumNews’ "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren" he is suspending his 2016 presidential campaign and endorsing Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Santorum (shown at the National Press Club in a Noel St. John photo used with permission) said he came to the decision after discussing it with his wife Karen after the Iowa caucuses. While saying he does not “endorse lightly,” Santorum described Rubio as “the new generation, and someone who can bring the country together.” “We wanted to find a candidate that really espoused the values we believed in,” he said.

Woodrow Wilson Center, Combating Grand Corruption Internationally, Staff report, Feb. 3, 2016. "Grand corruption"--the abuse of public office by a nation's leaders--is widespread. It is costly and closely correlated with violations of human rights. The victims of grand corruption range from the poor and powerless to the major international businesses which are disadvantaged because of their dedication to operating ethically. Indignation at corruption is destabilizing many countries and creating grave dangers to international peace and security. Despite laws, treaties, and the energetic efforts of civil society, grand corruption remains endemic in many nations.

In the inaugural lecture of the Woodrow Wilson Center's Rule of Law Initiative. United States District Judge Mark L. Wolf addresses the question of how to combat grand corruption more effectively, including the potential of international criminal law. To be followed by a discussion with a panel of experts:

  • Sarah Chayes, Senior Associate in the Democracy and Rule of Law Program and the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment; formerly Special Adviser to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Brackett Denniston, Former General Counsel and Senior Vice President, GE
  • John Engler, President, The Business Roundtable and former Governor of Michigan
  • Frank Vogl, Co-Founder and former Vice-Chairman, Transparency International
  • William E. Pomeranz, Deputy Director, Kennan Institute

Media

Pando, All The Billionaires Men, Mark Ames, Feb. 3, 2016.  “It is one thing for a journalist to make a mistake; like everyone, they all do that at some point. But to expressly lie about your sources in order to make your assertions seem more substantial is as serious a journalistic breach as can be committed,” Glenn Greenwald (2006).

Silicon Valley billionaire Pierre Omidyar’s flagship publication, The Intercept, has suffered through a series of humiliating failures in its first two years, but the newest bombshell, which dropped yesterday, is an entirely different matter. The publication had its own digital Stephen Glass. Correspondent Juan Thompson was caught inventing entire stories, sources and quotes in his year-plus time with the publication, about half of its existence. The practice apparently continued under two different editors: John Cook and Betsy Reed.

It’s the sort of editorial failure that would destroy most fledgling publications. The New Republic is nearly a century old, and yet it never quite recovered from its Stephen Glass failure. Neither has the New York Times completely overcome its Jayson Blair scandal — in fact public editor Margaret Sullivan recently attributed some of the newspaper’s over-caution in pursuing stories like Snowden’s to lingering institutional damage from its 2003 Jayson Blair scandal.

Feb. 2

Guardian, The Intercept admits reporter fabricated stories and quotes, Julia Carrie Wong, Feb. 2, 2016. Intercept editor-in-chief Betsy Reed said Juan Thompson stood by his published work and ‘did not cooperate in the review.’  The Intercept has fired reporter Juan Thompson after discovering “a pattern of deception” in his reporting. In a note to readers, editor-in-chief Betsy Reed revealed that Thompson had fabricated quotes in several stories and created email accounts in order to impersonate people.

“Thompson went to great lengths to deceive his editors, creating an email account to impersonate a source and lying about his reporting methods,” Reed wrote. Following an investigation into Thompson’s reporting, the publication is retracting one story in its entirety and appending corrections to four others. Among the inconsistencies The Intercept discovered were quotes “attributed to people who said they had not been interviewed” and quotes that could not be verified.

“Thompson admitted to creating fake email accounts and fabricating messages, but stood by his published work. He did not cooperate in the review,” Reed wrote. Among the stories of concern was a report by Thompson that Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old accused of mass murder at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, was in part motivated by a love interest rejecting him in favor of a black man.

In his author biography at The Intercept, Thompson said that he previously worked as a production assistant and reporter for WBEZ, a public radio station in Chicago, and a reporter for DNAinfo Chicago. However, according to Ben Calhoun, VP of content and programming at WBEZ, this is not true. In an email to the Guardian, Calhoun wrote: “Juan was never a reporter at WBEZ. Juan was an intern for a local talk show for four months (May-August of 2014). The extent of his duties was minimal, and he has no bylines with us.”

Thompson has recently tweeted about being diagnosed with testicular cancer. Thompson’s Intercept email account is no longer active, and he did not immediately respond to attempts to reach him via Twitter.

The Intercept was founded in 2014 by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill. Greenwald and Poitras are the journalists responsible for initially publishing the Edward Snowden documents detailing revelations of NSA surveillance. The Intercept is the first, and thus far the only, digital magazine published by eBay chairman Pierre Omidyar’s First Look Media.

Huffington Post, Iowa Dem. Caucus Result Effort to Redeem the Soul of America, Clarence B. Jones, Feb. 2, 2016. The most poignant part of the Democratic Primary contests is the presidential candidacy of former Secretary of State and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. She has positioned her candidacy as being about HER and her experience, and about being a woman who should NOW be elected President.

Senator Sanders has presented his candidacy as being about WE. He says "WE" have got to change the politics and elections in our country so that the election process is "not rigged" in favor of the rich and powerful from Wall Street and corporate America, who can direct enormous sums of money "to buy" or materially influence the outcome of our State, Congressional and Presidential elections.

Center for Public Integrity, Sarah Palin's PAC burning through cash, Dave Levinthal, Jan. 29, 2016. Alaskan spending money on self, not conservative candidates. In a blaze of rhyming, rambling glory, Sarah Palin this month glommed onto Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Palin, whose belly-up online channel, kaput Fox News contract and son's domestic violence arrest rank among recent indignities, thrust herself back into lame-stream media headlines.

But the former Alaska governor's own political action committee, once prodigious, is flaming out: Palin's appetite for luxury travel and pricey consultants has depleted its cash reserves to historically low levels, a Center for Public Integrity review of new federal records indicate. Sure, lots of political committees would love to have the $380,000 that remained in Sarah PAC’s coffers as of Dec. 31. But not since mid-2009, just after Palin formed SarahPAC following her unsuccessful vice presidential bid, has the group’s cash stash dipped so low. It sat on $1 million as recently as mid-2014.

Feb. 1

Ted Cruz StickerWashington Post, Cruz upsets Trump in GOP race; Clinton, Sanders in virtual tie with most votes counted on Democratic side, Jose A. DelReal, Juliet Eilperin and David Nakamura, Feb. 1, 2016. Supporters of Sen. Ted Cruz delivered a hard-fought upset win over businessman Donald Trump in the Iowa Republican caucuses Monday night, making good on his bet that a methodical campaign organization would eclipse the New Yorker’s media dominance in the first test of GOP voters. Hillary Clinton ButtonWith 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Cruz (Tex.) was besting Trump by more than 5,100 votes, with fellow senator Marco Rubio of Florida a close third. 

On the Democratic side, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) were virtually deadlocked, as months of heated rhetoric and fierce jockeying in the 2016 race for the White House was finally put to the test on both sides.

Daily Howler, Reporting Bernie and the hand jive! Bob Somerby, Feb. 1, 2016. As a general matter, caucus systems are designed with the intent of restricting participation by voters. Every four years, the Daily Howler Logoabsurdity of the caucus system passes with almost no comment. The people hired to play journalists on TV are too busy poring over the latest polls; speculating about what will happen tonight; and avoiding all matters of substance, a cultural preference which has reached its fullest flowering in the current campaign.

Credit where due! In this morning's Washington Post, Ruth Marcus offers her "quadrennial rant against the caucus system." Marcus offers a lonely rant against a faux and ridiculous system. On the other hand, consider the utter nonsense with which readers are gifted in this morning's New York Times. And consider the major discussion of substance which, to this day, still hasn't barked.

As people prepare to attend the Iowa caucuses, Times readers are being told what hand gestures Sanders makes when he tells particular jokes. But within its news reporting, this glorious former newspaper still hasn't reported the projected budget effects of Trump's crazy tax proposal.

Vanity Fair, Hillary's Other Daughter, William D. Cohan, February issue 2016. The loyal aide has spent decades at the presidential contender’s side with unparalleled access. But with a powerful Republican senator Huma Abedin October-2010-flickrHuma Abedin (shown in a file photo raising questions about her role in the Clinton-era State Department, Abedin finds herself the latest victim of the Stop Hillary movement.

Huma, as anyone who follows politics knows, is 40-year-old Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s “shadow,” as Politico once described her. She began working for Hillary in 1996, when she was a 19-year-old intern fresh from George Washington University assigned to the First Lady’s office. Whoever wants to curry favor with Hillary has to go through Abedin, as thousands of recently released e-mails make abundantly clear. For the quotidian matters of the schedule, she speaks for Hillary, and people adept at getting access to Hillary know it. “Everybody fights to be at the center,” the former adviser says, “and Huma controls a lot of that dynamic.”

Washington Post, Trump has a couple of things right about the phony Cruz, Jennifer Rubin, Feb. 1, 2016. Donald Trump is the perfect combatant to take on Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). In the words of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Cruz has an authenticity problem. It is one Trump is expert at exploiting. On the loans Cruz took from Goldman Sachs and Citibank but did not disclose during the 2012 Senate race, Trump zeroed in on the issue on Face the Nation: "I think that Ted Cruz has been severely affected by the Goldman Sachs loans, which he didn’t disclose. And it was on his personal financial form, and the Citibank loans he didn’t disclose."

Trump is on the money, pardon the pun, explaining how Cruz set up a false narrative of himself and then had to hide the loans and make up a tale of self-sacrifice later. Trump can read an amateur manipulator and poseur because he’s a professional, highly skilled one. Cruz is a relatively poor fabricator compared with Trump.

Mike Huckabee Gage Skidmore photoCNN, Martin O'Malley, Mike Huckabee end presidential campaigns, Mark Preston, Jeff Zeleny, Gregory Krieg, Feb. 1, 2016. Democrat Martin O'Malley and Republican Mike Huckabee (shown above in a Gage Skidmore photo) ended their presidential campaigns Monday after failing to register in the Iowa caucuses. The two former governors had banked on a strong showing in the Hawkeye State to buoy their candidacies, but failed to gain traction against better-funded operations and an election season marked by voter desire for anti-establishment candidates.

Washington Post, ‘Eyewash’: How the CIA deceives its own workforce about operations, Greg Miller and Adam Goldman, Jan. 31, 2016. Senior CIA officials have for years intentionally deceived parts of the agency workforce by transmitting internal memos that contain false information about operations and sources overseas, according to current and former U.S. officials who said the practice is known by the term “eyewash.”

Agency veterans described the tactic as an infrequent but important security measure, a means of protecting vital secrets by inserting fake communications into routine cable traffic while using separate channels to convey accurate information to cleared recipients. But others cited a significant potential for abuse. Beyond the internal distrust implied by the practice, officials said there is no clear mechanism for labeling eyewash cables or distinguishing them from legitimate records being examined by the CIA’s inspector general, turned over to Congress or declassified for historians.

WTOP, Ex-lawyer: ‘D.C. Madam’ records could be relevant to presidential election, Neal Augenstein, Feb. 1, 2016. The former lawyer of Deborah Jeane Palfrey — dubbed the “D.C. Madam” — has filed a motion to allow the release of her escort services’ records, saying they “may contain information relevant to the upcoming presidential election.” Palfrey committed suicide in 2008 following a racketeering conviction. Montgomery Blair Sibley, whose legal strategies and motions often included antagonizing opposing counsel and judges, has filed a judicial conduct complaint against Chief Judge Richard Roberts, of the District Court of the District of Columbia. Sibley, whose license to practice law was suspended in 2008 for three years by the D.C. Court of Appeals, remains under several 2007 restraining orders, which prohibited him from releasing Palfrey’s records. Sibley won’t say how the records could affect the election.

“I believe the information in my possession from the subpoena returns in the ‘D.C. Madam’ case may be relevant to the upcoming election,” Sibley told WTOP in an email. “As I am presently restrained by Court Order from releasing that information, I feel obligated to seek release from those restraining orders.”

Jacobin, The War on Bernie Sanders: The Democratic Party elite has launched a virtually unprecedented attack against Bernie Sanders, Matt Karp, Feb. 1, 2016. Matt Karp is an assistant professor of history at Princeton University and a Jacobin contributing editor. Two stark facts have defined the 2016 Democratic primary since the campaign began last spring. The first is the remarkable success of self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders, who appears to be mobilizing far more support from lower-income voters than any other Democratic underdog in a generation.

The second fact, evident since the beginning of the campaign but even more visible in recent weeks, is the fierce determination of the Democratic Party elite to nominate Hillary Clinton.

 

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