Donald Trump at GOP debate Aug. 6, 2015Trump projected as U.S. presidential winner, explodes pollsters' predictions with victories in Florida, North Carolina, major Midwestern states

Most final polls of the 2016 federal election campaign as of Nov. 8 predicted a victory by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over Republican Donald Trump.

Nov. 9Donald Trump for President logo

New York Times, Donald Trump Wins 3 Big Prizes: Florida, North Carolina and Ohio, Michael D Shear, Nov. 9, 2016. Donald Trump won Florida’s 29 electoral votes, one of the biggest prizes of the night. Donald J. Trump, who ran an improbable and often ugly campaign against the establishment, was holding on to small but significant leads in a series of key battleground states on Tuesday night, upending months of polling that had given the advantage to Hillary Clinton and raising Republican hopes of seizing back the White House.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoJust after 11:30 p.m, Mr. Trump was declared the victor in Florida, earning him the state’s 29 electoral votes and giving him a more certain grip on the presidential contest with Mrs. Clinton. Reaction to the prospect of a Trump presidency rippled across the globe, with financial markets abroad falling as American television networks raised the prospect that Mrs. Clinton might lose. Asian markets were trading sharply lower, down around two percentage points, and in the United States, Dow Jones futures were down as much as 600 points in after-hours trading.

USA Today, Trump wins battlegrounds Florida, Ohio, N.C.; Clinton hangs on, John Bacon, Nov. 9, 2016. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump was the projected winner in the crucial battleground states of Florida, North Carolina and Ohio on Tuesday, widening an incredible but increasingly likely path to victory for the billionaire real-estate mogul and reality TV star. Democrat Hillary Clinton was clinging to faint hopes as the election of the nation's 45th president neared a frenzied conclusion.

By midnight, Trump had claimed more than 240 electoral votes to Clinton's 215. The magic number is 270, and swing states still too close to call include Pennsylvania (20), Michigan (16), Wisconsin (10) and New Hampshire (4). 

Trump’s strong early showing brought angst to world financial markets, with the Dow Jones industrial average falling as much as 500 points in after-hours trading. Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network, said a Trump win would spark uncertainty and likely result in a steep fall in stock prices Wednesday.

Nov. 8

The non-partisan Justice Integrity Project has compiled poll results showing Democrats also are predicted to win a narrow advantage in the U.S. Senate. But polls (updated to Nov. 8) suggest Democrats will fail to gain control of the U.S. House, which state legislatures heavily gerrymandered for a decade after the 2010 census.

  • Princeton Election Consortium, Predictions as of November 6, Dr. Sam Wang, Nov. 8, 2016 (6:06 A.M. EST). Snapshot (191 state polls): Clinton 307, Trump 231 Electoral votes. Meta-margin: Clinton +2.2 percent. Clinton Nov. win probability: random drift, 99 percent. Senate snapshot (48 polls): Dem+Ind: 50, GOP: 50.
  • Real Clear Politics, Presidential Electoral Map Predictions (No Toss-ups), Staff report, Nov. 8, 2016. Clinton/Kaine: 272; Trump/Pence 266 Electoral Votes. (Assumes Trump wins in FL, IA, NC, NV, OH but not NH.)
  • Huffington Post, Forecast for President, Natalie Jackson and Adam Hooper, Nov. 8, 2016. Clinton: 98.2 percent; Trump: 1.5 percent. In the event of a tie, the newly elected House of Representatives will elect the president, and the newly elected Senate will elect the vice president. Percent of simulations where each party gains control of Senate: Dem: 66 percent tie: 24 percent.
  •, Who will win the presidency?  Nate Silver, Nov. 8, 2016. Hillary Clinton: 71.6 percent; Donald Trump: 28.4 percent. Electoral votes: Clinton 302, Trump 234.
  • Donald TrumpNew York Times, Who Will Be President? Josh Katz, Nov. 8, 2016. Hillary Clinton has an 84% chance to win. The Democrats have a 52 percent chance of winning the Senate. The Upshot’s elections model suggests that Hillary Clinton is favored to win the presidency, based on the latest state and national polls. A victory by Mr. Trump remains possible: Mrs. Clinton’s chance of losing is about the same as the probability that an N.F.L. kicker misses a 38-yard field goal.
  • University of Virginia Center for Politics, Our Final 2016 Picks: Clinton 322, Trump 216 EVs; 50-50 Senate; GOP holds House, Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik, and Geoffrey Skelley, Nov. 7, 2016. Based on RealClearPolitics’ state-level polling data for 2004, 2008, and 2012, the candidate leading the most polls in a given state usually wins said state. In those three election cycles, there were just three cases where the candidate who led in a plurality of all polls taken from Sept. 1 to Election Day did not go on to win the state: Wisconsin in 2004, Indiana in 2008, and Florida in 2012.
  • Washington Post, Final Predictions, Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake, Nov.  8, 2016. Electoral votes: Clinton 275, Trump 215, with FL, NC, NH as tossups.

An appendix provides a sample of relevant recent news coverage and commentary.

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The first encyclopedia of covert Central Intelligence Agency partners assembles the vast bulk of the agency's non-government entities that are most important to its secret operations.

The Almost Classified Guide To CIA Front Companies and Proprietaries is an encyclopedia-style listing from A to Z of the CIA's various fronts, proprietaries, and contractors/corporate partners since the agency's inception in 1947.

Wayne Madsen shown during a New York City panel discussion, May, 2015The author is Wayne Madsen, a former Navy intelligence officer, analyst for the National Security Agency, and defense contracting executive.

Shown in a file photo, he is now an investigative reporter at The Wayne Madsen Report (WMR, a subscription service) and a commentator elsewhere who is frequently smeared by political opponents on Wikipedia and elsewhere. Yet he has been published by mainstream newspapers hundreds of times in recent years with op-eds on various current, as well as by various controversial outlets on the right, left and internationally.

Last week, he launched his 350-page book, his 15th book, at the National Press Club during a dinner lecture that aptly underscored the book's importance — and why no one previously has published one like it.

As contrast, the club and mainstream media provided deferential treatment Oct. 31 to billionaire financier Peter Thiel that downplayed the role of his CIA-incubated Palantir Technologies data mining company in order to focus at a newsmaker event on his presidential preference and libertarian philosophy. 

Palatir's initial funding came in part from the CIA, and the company is now near the core of CIA and NSA monitoring of every American's electronic communications — topics that never came up during Thiel's talk, the extensive question and answer period, or coverage of the talk by such outlets as the Washington Post, which is among those named as CIA partners in Madsen's book. (More on that in an appendix.)

"Here's one of the things that shock me the most," Madsen began. "You have an organization [the CIA] dealing with the Campfire Girls and 4-H Clubs, and also the Mafia and Hell's Angels."

He explained that CIA's goal is influence over public life in covert ways, with the ultimate goal of sustaining American political support for empire-building on behalf of the nation's plutocrats who have historically dominated the agency even more than elected politicians.

One of the creators of the CIA's strategy was the late Frank Wisner Sr., the CIA pioneer who a close aide to CIA Director Allen Dulles and weekly dinner companion to Washington Post publishers Philip and Katharine Graham. Wisner coined in private the term a "Mighty Wurlitzer" to denote how the agency could orchestrate public opinion in tandem with his close friends in the media via the Operation Mockingbird program and otherwise, as recounted in such predecessor books as The Mightly Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America by Hugh Wilford (Harvard University Press, 2008).

But no one before Madsen has so far named the names in near-comprehensive fashion. Experts in the field regard the format as particularly useful because front companies and covert partners are often used for black operations such as propaganda, citizen surveillance, arms and drug smuggling, and civil disturbances to create regime change or civil war.

His book's information comes from declassified or other public sources (hence the words "almost classified" in the title) in order to avoid breaking the law on national security. Yet Madsen described the publishing process for this kind of book as so sensitive that he could not trust a commercial publisher, many of whom he found to have hidden ties with the CIA or other intelligence agencies that can disrupt (or augment) book marketing.

Madsen's research matches Justice Integrity Project findings, as well as those from such experts as the late Defense Department executive L. Fletcher Prouty, an Air Force colonel whose job some five decades ago was to serve as the Pentagon's top liaison to the CIA for covert operations. That included placing agency CIA loyalists into key private sector and government jobs where their status as members of the agency's Wayne Madsen Almost Classified CIA Front Cover"Secret Team" would not be known by colleagues or the public.

So, we are particularly delighted to recommend Madsen's book, and summarize highlights of his lecture and courageous, much-needed work. It happens all of the four journalists on our Justice Integrity Board of Directors were noted in his dedication, and so this launch is especially congruent with our goals here.

In that spirit, longtime Press Club member and civic leader John Edward Hurley introduced Madsen's talk as follows to the McClendon Group, a speaker society at the club that Hurley has led for a quarter century:

Found in this book, which belongs on the desk of every researcher, historian, journalist, and spy, are the most famous or infamous, depending on one's outlook, CIA fronts and proprietaries.

The reader will find descriptions of Zapata Off-Shore, the Bay of Pigs front linked to George H. W. Bush; Air America, the Indochina War airline once dubbed the "World's Largest Airline" and nicknamed "Air Opium"; Southern Air Transport, the CIA proprietary that flew guns and drugs on behalf of the Nicaraguan Contra guerrillas in violation of U.S. law; and the CIA's favorite money laundering bank, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), also known as the "Bank of Crooks and Criminals."

"While perusing the pages," continued Hurley, "one is immediately struck by the staggering degree that the CIA infiltrated American society, including entertainment, education, the news media, religion, labor unions, corporations, and social organizations."

Hurley's experiences have included covering the White House with famed correspondent Sarah McClendon of the McClendon News Service and running the Confederate Memorial museum for a quarter century, as well as many volunteer posts in civic organizations."The president who created the CIA, Harry S Truman," Hurley continued, "later called for its total reform. However, others felt that the CIA had become too powerful and totally entrenched in American society to be redeemable."

With that warm and apt introduction, Madsen took the podium to describe one of most useful and courageous of his 15 books.

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A Missouri candidate’s disputed rape claim is opening a Pandora’s box of sexual, financial and partisan secrecy that could affect which party on Nov. 8 wins control of the U.S. Senate.

Cora Faith Walker via Facebook photoOn Oct. 26, a St. Charles County prosecutor declined to press charges for a complaint brought by Democratic legislative nominee Cora Faith Walker against fellow Democratic nominee Steven Roberts Jr. — a bachelor who then filed a defamation suit Oct. 27 against the married Walker. Roberts said they had a consensual affair eight years ago, which rekindled at political functions in August after they became nominees.

The dispute between two candidates raises questions also about Walker's ties to a controversial tax referendum and its key backer Jason Kander, the Democratic nominee for a Missouri seat in the U.S. Senate.

Kander, now Missouri's secretary of state, was nearly tied in the latest voter poll with incumbent Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, 66, in a race that could help win U.S. Senate control for Democrats. The GOP holds 54 seats currently.

Kander, 35, gained prominence in the Republican-dominated state in part by supporting a referendum proposal Nov. 8 backed by a new group called “Raise Your Hand For Kids.” The plan, dubbed RYH4K for short, would increase state funds for education by raising cigarette taxes from 17 cents to 77 cents per pack, with higher taxes on smaller companies that did not participate in a 1990s settlement to users stricken with disease.

Stephen Roberts Jr.An anonymous attack on Kander called “The Kander Memo” filed this month with federal and state authorities claims that Kander worked secretly to sell the plan along with allies who included Walker. She is a lawyer who is listed as the secretary of the three-person board controlling millions of dollars in spending by RYH4K. Its main spending to date has been to acquire some 320,000 Missouri voter signatures that had to be approved by Kander as secretary of state over the objections of a Missouri appellate court to put the RYH4K measure on November's ballot.

The anti-Kander memo claimed that RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co. helped fund the RYH4K ballot referendum in ways that would help Kander’s senate campaign with field operations and would also help "Big Tobacco" by raising taxes especially high on discount cigarette sellers.

The full-127 page memo is here, with the main section on RYH4K beginning on page 68 and extending for nearly 60 pages before an appendix.

Update: The allegations in the memo are "shocking" and untrue said RYH4K Executive Director Linda Rallo in a phone interview Nov. 2. "It find it highly offensive," continued Rallo, who assumed her post last fall. "This campaign has nothing to do with Jason Kander." She said RYH4K has complied with state filing requirements, and she was too busy in a meeting and preparing for the Nov. 8 balloting to describe more specifically her complaints about the memo. As of Nov. 3, the memo has received 8,100 views, mostly in recent days.

The memo claimed that Walker, who has a master's degree in health studies along with a law degree, was a relatively minor player and one of the attractive Missouri fronts along with Rallo and another woman on the RYH4K board involved with a secret strategic plan concocted by others, primarily natives of Kansas. The plan was, according to the memo, to use the millions of dollars raised in the RYH4K ballot initiative to help Democrats and "Big Tobacco" in their goals, coinciding with ostensible sole purpose of helping children obtain better education and health.

Jason KanderOn Oct. 13, we reported that Kander (shown at right in an official photo) has orchestrated a variety of such deceptive campaign finance and organizational practices, according to the allegations in the memo, which was filed anonymously before seven federal and state oversight bodies. No actions have been reported by the bodies. We headlined that column Deceit Claims Lodged Against Missouri Democrat in Key Senate Race. 

Today, the Justice Integrity Project (a non-partisan investigative reporting organization) first summarizes developments in Walker's rape claim, including context regarding other disputed rape allegations nationally. Then we report on the larger political issues, which we plan to amplify by additional pre-election coverage.

We predict more political and legal controversy before the election. Reaction is likely to raise questions also about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Koster, a ticket-mate of Kander.

Koster is the current state attorney general, and his office should have monitored any improprieties by Kander, the secretary of state whose team approved the RYH4K initiative. The referendum, including the signature drive, has been challenged repeatedly in court during the year. In April, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch separately reversed on other grounds its editorial backing of the plan.

The real issues remain largely below the surface. They include some that are so sensitive that few dare to publish first. [Update: Missouri's two largest newspapers, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Kansas City Star, published their senate endorsements Sunday, Oct. 30 but ignored the controversies reported here.]

But the scandals are too important to ignore in the long run, even for the deadline-driven mainstream media that dwell on polls and personalities — and not on why events occur, much less who really benefits.

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Famed bank whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld launched his tell-all memoir Lucifer’s Banker last week at the National Press Club with a harsh indictment of the nearby headquarters of the U.S. Justice Department.

Birkenfeld, described earlier this year by CNBC as "the most significant financial whistleblower of all time," attacked law enforcers as being cowardly, self-seeking and deceitful in monitoring crime by top financial Bradley Birkenfeld NPC Oct. 18, 2016 JIP Photoinstitutions that help the wealthy commit massive frauds on taxes. The schemes hide money, sometimes ill-gotten, and thus may hurt the criminals' spouses, business colleagues, fellow citizens, and governments.

Birkenfeld, 51, helped American authorities recover an estimated $15 billion in back taxes, interest and penalties from wealthy tax cheats who worked with his former employer, UBS, the world's largest bank. UBS is at the center of Switzerland's notoriously secretive system that helped the wealthy duck debtors and facilitate crime that includes drug and arms trafficking.

"The great irony," Birkenfeld told about 80 guests at the press club Oct. 18 (as shown in our JIP photo), "is that the only banker imprisoned for the financial scandals was me, the whistleblower."

"The problem," he continued in an interview the next day with RT, "is the U.S. Department of Justice is corrupt."

His Lucifer’s Banker memoir, subtitled The Untold Story of How I Destroyed Swiss Bank Secrecy, is an engaging, important and otherwise compelling overview of his unique, courageous role in exposing and reforming Switzerland's system of secret banking for the world's mega-rich.

His story also shows how he endured a 40-month prison sentence. After serving 31 months (with time off for good behavior), he is now free to tell the tale, bolstered by $104 million (before taxes) that he and his lawyers managed to obtain as reward money despite the best efforts of Justice Department tormentors to hinder the full force of his disclosures.

Bradley BerkenfeldParticularly important is that authorities -- and not just the Justice Department but also Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her colleagues -- sought to protect in his view many of the rich and powerful tax cheats who could have been exposed.

Update: JIP's editor discussed this column on Oct. 25 during an hour-long edition of The Phil Mikan Show simulcast on WLIS-AM and WMRD-AM in Connecticut, and streaming worldwide. A major point was that the topic was not simply important but interesting -- and that true reform will never occur until the public becomes engaged in how seemingly far-away issues directly affect personal quality of life, such as when criminals hide assets from employees, business colleagues or spouses, or when narcotics traffickers destroying communities hide their money overseas.

Birkenfeld says he outlined to authorities precisely how they could have obtained the names and other records of all 19,000 of the UBS customers availing themselves of secret accounts. Also, he told prosecutors how they could capture all UBS bankers entering the United States on phony customs declarations, thereby enabling prosecutors to squeeze the bankers to cooperate in criminal cases against the tax cheats and foster reform through such additional avenues as Senate oversight hearings.

But, he argues, U.S. authorities obtained only 4,700 names that UBS cherry-picked in mysterious ways. He believes the bank and compliant authorities protected the vast bulk of the most politically influential tax cheats. That deprived taxpayers, he argues, of even greater reimbursement than the $12 billion (plus interest and penalties) that IRS recouped.

More generally, he portrays a corrupt and incompetent oversight landscape that is marred also by often-timid and misguided defense counsel typically available whistleblowers, even though he could afford top  lawyers and researched extensively those available.

Despite roadblocks, his saga proceeds in a buoyant manner in describing how he overcame the obstacles for the most part, aided by his final team of lawyers from the National Whistleblower Center. He provides kudos to the Internal Revenue Service, which he calls the most effective, non-political and otherwise admirable of the oversight bodies he encountered.

Praise for the IRS is not the only unconventional aspect of this memoir. So is his admiration for the rigorous training he received at Vermont's Norwich University, the nation's oldest private military academy. Also, he is proud of his luxurious and libidinous lifestyle as a high-paid banker. In a convoluted but ultimately convincing way, such diverse experiences led him to the monumental risks and results of his whistleblowing.  

Today's column draws from his case, his powerful memoir and his appearance last week in the nation's capital. Our conclusion? His harsh words against the Justice Department and the overall structure it exemplifies appear to be justified, although we recognize that many thousands of employees labor also each day to live up to the DOJ's aspirational goals of delivering justice.

In concluding this, we draw upon years of reporting here documenting other injustices by top federal authorities involving both their whitewashes that protect the powerful and their remarkably harsh treatment to political targets, including whistleblowers.

Thomas Drake photo by Noel St.JohnReaders are familiar with the threats to democracy inflicted by the Justice Department on many political prisoners and/or whistleblowers.

As a few examples reported here through the years: Privacy advocates, whistleblowers and political targets Edward Snowden, Joseph Nacchio, Thomas Drake (shown at right in a Noel St. John photo at the National Press Club), Jesselyn Radack and John Kiriakou; and the still-imprisoned former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and the DOJ political targets (such as Richard Scrushy, Tamarah Grimes, Gary White, and Dana Jill Simpson) who courageously supported one of the Deep South's most prominent Democrats during his 2006 Justice Department frame-up despite pressures from the department to adjust their testimony or otherwise drop their protests against one of the nation's most enduring human rights disgraces.

Among others we've covered have been President John F. Kennedy's former Secret Service guard Abraham Bolden, a black officer who tried to warn the Warren Commission about racial hatred against JFK within the protective service but instead found himself imprisoned on trumped up DOJ charges; and many more DOJ victims. That's one of the department's most enduring and important shames.

Several of these victims and civic heroes were honored guests at Birkenfeld's book launch last week. What follows is our take on the Bradley Birkenfeld story and its continuing importance to you.

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Missouri’s Democratic U.S. Senate nominee has orchestrated deceptive campaign finance and organizational practices, according to allegations filed anonymously before seven federal and state oversight bodies.

Jason KanderMissouri’s Secretary of State Jason Kander is the Senate nominee shown in an official photo at left. He and his allies allegedly devised a secret agenda behind a state referendum plan ostensibly to help children with increased tax on tobacco products, for example.

But the “Raise Your Hands 4 Kids” ballot referendum was concocted as a sweetheart deal for the tobacco companies, according to the 127-page memo, and also as an organizing tool in Republican-dominated rural Missouri for what pollsters say is surprisingly strong Senate race by Kander. Alleged manipulation of the New York Times best-seller list and crowd-funding for charitable purposes are among the other allegations.

A Kander victory in the Missouri Senate race over incumbent first-term Republican Sen. Roy Blunt (shown at right in an official photo) has the potential to help deliver Senate control to Democrats, who now trail Republicans 46-54 (counting independents Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine, who support the Democratic caucus).

Roy BluntTherefore, the many serious new allegations against Kander and his wife — motivational speaker, lawyer and investment counselor Diana Kagan Kander — have both state and national importance.

Update 1: In a potential major development, the Legal Schnauzer blog published by Roger Shuler drew on a St. Louis Post-Dispatch report for a column headlined on Oct. 26:, Prosecutor declines to bring rape charges in case with apparent ties to Jason Kander scandal surrounding Missouri U.S. Senate race against Roy Blunt. Details are via the link, and are excerpted below.

Update 2: The allegations in the memo are "shocking" and untrue said RYH4K Executive Director Linda Rallo in a phone interview Nov. 2. "It find it highly offensive," continued Rallo, who assumed her post last fall. "This campaign has nothing to do with Jason Kander." She said RYH4K has complied with state filing requirements, and she was too busy in a meeting and preparing for the Nov. 8 balloting to describe more specifically her complaints about the memo.

Inquiries failed to bring a response to the memo from Kander, his campaign, his wife, or the Secretary of State’s communications office campaign. The memo had been filed by anonymous “US investigative and Independent Journalists” with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), a half dozen other bodies, and at least three journalists.

Investigative reporter and author Wayne Madsen broke the story on the Wayne Madsen Report this week under the headline, No Candor in Kander campaign for Senate. The story included links to the 11-page cover letter sent with the full memo to government agencies. The full-127 page memo is here.

Today’s column provides an overview of the allegations, which allege misconduct also against Kander’s wife. She, like her husband, is a lawyer age 35 reared in Johnson County, Kansas. They each received a law degree from Georgetown University’s Law Center in 2005. After working for a year at a major Missouri-based law firm, according to the memo, her work now focuses on motivational speaking and investment counseling.

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President Obama continues to withstand the nation's most aggressive war hawks from both parties even as the long-secret U.S. plan to overthrow Syria's government last week reached a turning point in Aleppo amidst remarkable threats between the United States and Russia of military action against one another.

The Washington Post's well-connected Associate Editor Karen DeYoung and national security columnist Josh Rogin were among those reporting (here in the Post's print edition Oct. 9, for example) that Obama and some of the Defense Department's top experts remain reluctant to agree to widespread calls for a U.S.-enforced no-fly zone in Syria or major upgrades of weapons systems for rebels.

Democratic and Republican Campaigns DecodedMeanwhile, however, Obama's CIA Director John Brennan and a number of other allies and administration members reportedly back exactly those actions.

Update: In a major development reported on Nov. 10: Washington Post, Obama directs Pentagon to target al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, one of the most formidable forces fighting Assad.

Vice Presidential nominees Tim Kaine and Mike Pence, Democrat and Republican respectively, renewed their call for U.S.-enforced no-fly-zone. So did Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) and a number of other hawks. Such a zone is an act of war and would be, at this point, without either congressional or international authorization.

Their public reasons are ostensibly on humanitarian and pro-democracy grounds. Many news stories focus on civilian deaths in Syria, albeit with almost no coverage of whether the estimated 8,000 rebels, many of them non-Syrian jihadists drawn from other nations, are using civilians and hospitals as human shields, as Syria's government claims.

Given the U.S.-backed atrocities against Yemen's civilian population by Saudi Arabia (such as a Saudi strike on a funeral killing 140 over the weekend) and the CIA's role in fomenting the Syria war, the complaints over civilian deaths in Syria suggest that many American leaders fear their plan to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is failing. The CIA has sought to control Syria for many years, according to documents, books and interviews, including a 1986 Rolling Stone interview of Miles Copeland, the CIA's first station chief in Syria after World War II.

President Obama prepares for his last UN General Assembly address on Sept. 20, 2016 (WH Photo)Fast forward. During the presidential debate Oct. 9 in St. Louis, GOP nominee Donald Trump took a different view from his running mate, Pence. Trump argued that Aleppo has already fallen and that it is nearly pointless to attack Assad because of his willingness with Russia to attack ISIS.

Trump's Democratic rival Hillary Clinton rejected the idea of using American ground troops in Syria but backed special forces there and troops for a major push against ISIS in Iraq, where the government has invited U.S. help. "I hope," she said, "that by the time I am president we will have pushed ISIS out of Iraq." 

A White House photo shows the president while he waited backstage before making his last address at the United Nations General Assembly in New York Sept. 20.

Today's column reporting these momentous developments is particularly timely because much of the American public has been distracted in recent days by the debate, the Trump "Access Hollywood" lewd video, and Hurricane Matthew, the category 4 storm that hit Florida and the Carolinas after inflicting many fatalities in the Caribbean.

Most Western news media coverage of Syria primarily focuses upon civilian casualties in eastern Aleppo from Russian and Syrian bombing. But other developments include the possibility that the current "proxy war" between U.S. and Russian allies could rapidly expand to a more direct war, including nuclear attacks.

Today, we report military threats (including an appendix of the most recent news articles). Our follow up columns will address longer-term issues, including recent revelations regarding propaganda strategies to build support for war-making. The Syrian civil war that began in 2011 has already caused hundreds of thousands of deaths and displaced millions, including the refugees destabilizing European nations and fostering fears that terrorists are part of the mass migrations from Syria.

We start with a recap of how the last week created what former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and French nationalist Marine Le Pen, among others, are calling a 'dangerous point.'

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