March 2014 News Reports

Pope Francis and President Obama, March 27, 2014 (White House Photo)

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President Barack Obama bids farewell to Pope Francis following an audience at the Vatican, March 27, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)


Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly roundup of March 2014 news

March 31

CIA LogoWashington Post, Senate report: CIA misled on interrogations, Greg Miller, Adam Goldman and Ellen Nakashima, March 31, 2014. Senate investigators say the agency concealed details about the severity of its methods, overstated the significance of plots and prisoners, and took credit where it wasn’t due.

Huffington Post, What I Told the NSA, Geoffrey Stone, March 31, 2014. From the outset, I approached my responsibilities as a member of the Review Group with great skepticism about the NSA. I am a long-time civil libertarian, a member of the National Advisory Council of the ACLU, and a former Chair of the Board of the American Constitution Society. To say I was skeptical about the NSA is, in truth, an understatement. I came away from my work on the Review Group with a view of the NSA that I found quite surprising. Not only did I find that the NSA had helped to thwart numerous terrorist plots against the United States and its allies in the years since 9/11, but I also found that it is an organization that operates with a high degree of integrity and a deep commitment to the rule of law. "In short, I found, to my surprise, that the NSA deserves the respect and appreciation of the American people. But it should never, ever, be trusted."

Washington Post, U.S. might release Israeli spy in effort to save peace talks, Anne Gearan and William Booth, March 31, 2014. Israel is seeking Jonathan Pollard’s release as part of negotiations to extend the U.S.-backed talks, officials say.

New York Times, Is Canada Tarring Itself? Editorial Board, March 31, 2014. Start with the term “tar sands.” In Canada only fervent opponents of oil development in northern Alberta dare to use those words; the preferred phrase is the more reassuring “oil sands.” Performing language makeovers is perhaps the most innocuous indication of the Canadian government’s headlong embrace of the oil industry’s wishes. Soon after becoming prime minister in 2006, Stephen Harper declared Canada “an emerging energy superpower,” and nearly everything he’s done since has buttressed this ambition. Forget the idea of Canada as dull, responsible and environmentally minded: That is so 20th century. Now it’s a desperado, placing all its chips on a world-be-damned, climate-altering tar sands bet.

Associated Press via Washington Post, Russia hikes gas price for Ukraine, Staff report, March 31, 2014. Russia on Tuesday sharply hiked the price for natural gas to Ukraine and threatened to reclaim billions previous discounts, raising the heat on its cash-strapped government, while Ukrainian police moved to disarm members of a radical nationalist group after a shooting spree in the capital. The discount was part of a financial lifeline which Russian President Vladimir Putin offered to Ukraine’s President, Viktor Yanukovych. Radical nationalist groups played a key role in Yanukovych’s ouster, but they quickly fell out with the new government. Many activists are still encamped on Kiev’s Independence Square, known as the Maidan, and have signaled their intent to remain there until the election of what they deem to be a legitimate government.

March 30

Robert Richards IVHuffington Post, 'One-Percenter' Convicted of Child Rape Dodges Prison Because 'He Wouldn't Fare Well,' Ashley Alman, March 30, 2014. A Delaware man convicted of raping his three-year-old daughter only faced probation after a state Superior Court judge ruled he "will not fare well" in prison. In her decision, Judge Jan Jurden suggested Robert H. Richards IV, shown in a file photo, would benefit more from treatment. Richards, who was charged with fourth-degree rape in 2009, is an unemployed heir living off his trust fund. The light sentence has only became public as the result of a subsequent lawsuit filed by his ex-wife, which charges that he penetrated his daughter with his fingers while masturbating, and subsequently assaulted his son as well. Richards is the great grandson of du Pont family patriarch Irenee du Pont, a chemical baron. According to the lawsuit filed by Richards' ex-wife, he admitted to assaulting his infant son in addition to his daughter between 2005 and 2007. Richards was initially indicted on two counts of second-degree child rape, felonies that translate to a 10-year mandatory jail sentence per count. He was released on $60,000 bail while awaiting his charges.

March 29

Jeb Bush

Washington Post, Top Republicans court Jeb Bush for 2016 run, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, March 29, 2014. Conservative leaders, seeing problems with Chris Christie and fearing a run by Rand Paul, consider the former Florida governor the GOP’s brightest hope. Editor's Note: As predicted here months ago....

Afghanistan and Iraq mapWashington Post, A legacy of pain and pride, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, March 29, 2014. More than half of the 2.6 million Americans dispatched to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan struggle with physical or mental health problems stemming from their service, feel disconnected from civilian life and believe the government is failing to meet the needs of this generation’s veterans, according to a poll conducted by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation. The long conflicts, which have required many troops to deploy multiple times and operate under an almost constant threat of attack, have exacted a far more widespread emotional toll than previously recognized by most government studies and independent assessments: One in two say they know a fellow service member who has attempted or committed suicide, and more than 1 million suffer from relationship problems and experience outbursts of anger — two key indicators of post-traumatic stress.

Daily Mail, The ghosts of Guantanamo: Prisoners declared innocent... but never let out, Caroylyn Graham, March 29, 2014. Their jailers driven mad by the horrendous conditions. From the shadow of the original Camp X-Ray, a disturbing report from the grim camp justice forgot. At Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, 154 prisoners from 21 countries remain trapped in legal limbo after being cleared for release, but not let out. Shaker Aamer, the last British prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, starts his day in an 80sq ft cell where he has been locked up for the past 12 years. The 45-year-old married father of four – who has been cleared for release since 2007 – faces what he calls the ‘living hell’ of being held  without charge inside the world’s most notorious prison. Last week, the Mail on Sunday travelled to the remote US naval base on the tip of Cuba where 154 prisoners from 21 countries remain trapped in legal limbo and where lizards have more rights than humans.

Reuters via International Business Times, Turkey YouTube Ban: Full Transcript of Leaked Syria 'War' Conversation Between Erdogan Officials, Jack Moore, March 29, 2014. Turkey's courts have blocked access to Twitter a little over a week before elections as Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan battles a corruption scandal. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ban of YouTube occurred after a conversation was leaked between Head of Turkish Intelligence Hakan Fidan and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu that he wanted removed from the video-sharing website. The leaked call details Erdogan's thoughts that an attack on Syria "must be seen as an opportunity for us [Turkey]." In the conversation, intelligence chief Fidan says that he will send four men from Syria to attack Turkey to "make up a cause of war." Deputy Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Yaşar Güler replies that Fidan's projected actions are "a direct cause of war...what you're going to do is a direct cause of war." Turkey's foreign ministry said the leaked recording of top officials discussing the Syria operation was "partially manipulated" and is a "wretched attack" on national security. In the leaked video, Fidan is discussing with Davutoğlu, Güler and other officials a possible operation within Syria to secure the tomb of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman empire. A full transcript is here translated by @castizbey.

March 28

President Obama, Secretary of State Kerry and National Security Advisor Rice on call with President Putin, March 28, 2014President Barack Obama talks on the phone with President Vladimir Putin of Russia while in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 28, 2014. With the President are Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)

Common Dreams, Ukraine’s IMF Deal Means Greece-Like Depression, Jack Rasmus, March 28, 2014. On Thursday, the IMF released the broad outlines of its terms and conditions for loans and other measures for the Ukrainian economy. What those terms mean is less a rescue of the Ukrainian economy than the onset of a Greece-like economic depression. In previous articles, this writer estimated that at least $50 billion would be needed to stabilize the Ukraine’s economy over the next two years. That figure may even rise by 2015. A $21 billion net IMF injection is an economic illusion. Here’s why.

Peter B. CollinsPeter B. Collins, Journalist Roger Shuler Recounts His 5 Months in Alabama Jail, Peter B. Collins, left, March 28, 2014. Roger Shuler, journalist and publisher of the Legal Schnauzer blog, was just released after 5 months in jail, and reports on his hellish experience. Shuler was dealt one injustice after another by the corrupt court system in Alabama. In 2013, his reporting exposed hypocrisy on the part of powerful Republicans in the state, prompting defamation suits from Rob Riley (son of former governor) and current Attorney General Luther Strange. This conversation begins with his detention, and the deputies failure to present a warrant or initially even mention a warrant. We discuss the charge of resisting arrest, and Shuler’s conviction in a January hearing that resulted in a suspended 90-day sentence. Shuler gives a detailed account of what he observed–and his limited participation–in a hearing on November 14, 2013. There’s much more, including his emotional description of life in jail and the hardship this episode caused for Shuler and his wife, Carol. Your financial support for the Shulers is critical, as they are broke and their house is set for foreclosure at the end of April.

Daily Beast, French and Belgian Jihadists Boast About the Syrians They Slaughter, Tracy McNicoll, March 28, 2014. Gruesome videos show the so-called “French Brigade” that fights as part of a breakaway Al-Qaeda faction opposed to Assad. A cable news station in Paris has aired shocking video of French-speaking jihadists at work in Syria. The footage broadcast Thursday night on BFMTV played like a macabre postcard home, only the latest reminder that hundreds of French and thousands of European jihadists are waging war against Bashar al-Assad. The news channel has called it evidence that France’s own are “direct actors in the atrocities committed in Syria.”

Western via YouTube, The REAL Reason Flight 370 Disappeared, Video produced, written, and edited by Kris Zane. Narrated by Tom Hinchey, March 28, 2014.  

March 27

Washington Post, Obama appears ready to expand covert assistance to Syrian opposition, David Ignatius, March 27, 2014. The Obama administration, stung by reversals in Ukraine and Syria, appears to have decided to expand its covert program of training and assistance for the Syrian opposition, deepening U.S. involvement in that brutal and stalemated civil war. This stepped-up assistance program is likely to be discussed during talks Friday between President Obama and Saudi King Abdullah. Obama appears more comfortable with a covert approach than with direct military intervention, as in Iraq and Afghanistan. The United States would help train Free Syrian Army fighters to combat al-Qaeda extremists, even as the rebels launch guerrilla attacks against Assad’s army. The rationale, bluntly stated, is that to reach an eventual diplomatic settlement in Syria, it is necessary now to escalate the conflict militarily. This has been a hard pill for Obama to swallow, but prodded by the Saudis, he seems to have reached that point. 

Huffington Post, Christie Report Finds A Culprit: A Scorned, 'Emotional' Woman, Ashley Alman, March 27, 2014. A report on Thursday distancing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie from George Washington Bridge lane closures concluded his former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, was behind the political payback scheme. The taxpayer-funded report also suggested Kelly's actions in ordering the lane closures were emotionally charged, because her boyfriend had just broken up with her. According to the review, Kelly had grown dependent on Bill Stepien, her predecessor as Christie's deputy chief of staff. The report claimed Stepien broke up with Kelly right around the time she contacted then-Port Authority official David Wildstein, saying, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."

Washington Post, D.C. General shelter residents say security rules are often flouted, Tara Bahrampour, March 27, 2014. Kahlil Malik Tatum is being sought in connection with the disappearance of Relisha Tenau Rudd, 8. The first time Yolanda Manning, a 22-year-old resident of the homeless shelter at the former D.C. General Hospital, saw Kahlil Tatum, a janitor there, he tried to give her 4-year-old daughter $2.  Manning was celebrating her daughter’s birthday in the cafeteria, and her maternal instincts bristled. “It was weird, because you don't know me from Adam or Eve,” she said. “I said, ‘No, she can’t take that.’ ” As the search for Relisha Rudd enters second week, records reveal a history of poor living conditions. But half a dozen mothers standing outside the shelter Thursday said that the facility’s rules, including one prohibiting social interaction between employees and residents, were regularly flouted — in particular by Tatum.

Washington Post, IMF says it will provide Ukraine with up to $18 billion over next two years, Kathy Lally and Will Englund, March 27, 2014. Ukraine is in dire economic straits after years inefficient management and plundering by corrupt officials.

OpEdNews, Proof of Turkish False Flag -- Erdogan Hail Mary, Michael Collins, March 27, 2014. Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government was caught planning a false flag attack on ISIL rebels in Syria according to audio recordings released today on YouTube.  Erdogan warned Syria that any attacks on the shrine to an 11th century religious figure revered by Turks would cause a military response by Turkey. The shrine is located just inside Syria on the border with Turkey. There are no reports that any party in Syria has attacked the shrine. A false flag operation could mobilized much needed support for Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP), which is facing major challenges in March 30 local elections. Since December 17, audio tapes of secret wiretaps exposed criminal behavior by Erdogan and his cronies. The PM's response has been varied but a clue to the desperation came when Erdogan said that he would be vindicated of all charges when his party received an endorsement from the people in the elections, now just days away.

Real News Network via Roots, Prosecuting the Messenger, Ray Baker, March 27, 2014. Mr. President, Mr. Attorney General, Hands Off Edward Snowden! The U.S. government should make an ironclad commitment to fully respect Edward Snowden's legal rights to seek political asylum, and to not engage in abduction or other foul play.

March 26

Lawfare, James Risen Needs to Read the NYT, Jack Goldsmith, March 26, 2014. Andrew Beaujon at Poynter reports that at last week’s Sources and Secrets conference, NYT reporter James Risen, who is fighting a subpoena for information in the Jeffrey Sterling trial, made these remarks [analyzed in the full column]:

  • 1)     The Obama administration is “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation.”
  • 2)     The administration wants to “narrow the field of national security reporting [to] create a path for accepted reporting.”
  • 3)     Any journalist who exceeds those parameters “will be punished.”
  • 4)     The administration’s aggressive prosecutions have created “a de facto Official Secrets Act.”

Columbia Journalism Review, Sources and secrets, Ben Adler, March 21, 2014. An event at the Times Center discussed whether journalists reporting on government secrets are more prosecuted than in eras past. Has the War on Terror turned into a War on Journalists? Yes, according to speakers from some of the most prestigious print outlets in the country. They considered the issue at “Sources and Secrets,” a George Polk Awards conference, hosted by The New York Times, on Friday that examined the relationship of the press and government in covering national security.

Washington Post, Charting the years-long decline of local news reporting, Paul Farhi, March 26, 2014. The economics of the digital age work against reporting about schools, cops and the folks down the street. Newspapers alone have cut some 14,000 newsroom positions over the past six years, or nearly 30 percent of their total employment, according to the American Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2012, the most recent year of ASNE’s newsroom census, total newsroom employment nationwide was 38,000, the lowest since the organization began counting in 1978. “Local news and information is a key area of interest to the American public, but how that news is supported remains a question,” said Amy Mitchell, Pew’s director of journalism research, in an interview. “It’s a question many news organizations are struggling with.” The slow deterioration of local-news reporting has been a source of alarm in some quarters for years, especially the retreat from state- and local-government accountability reporting.

Common Dreams, Anger, Disbelief as Obama Defends US Invasion of Iraq, Jon Queally, March 26, 2014. In order to not appear hypocritical, Obama rewrites history around Iraq War while denouncing Russia. President Obama is on the receiving end of scorn for remarks made during a high-profile speech in Brussels on Wednesday in which he defended the U.S. invasion of Iraq in an attempt to chastise Russia for recent developments in Crimea and Ukraine.

Jimmy Carter Call To Action on Women, ReligionWashington Post, Jimmy Carter says he would consider pardoning Edward Snowden, Sean Sullivan, March 26, 2014 (video). 39th president spent an hour at the Washington Post. Former president Jimmy Carter (D) said Wednesday that he would consider pardoning Edward Snowden if he returned to the United States and was convicted and sentenced, but acknowledged he doesn't have enough information to judge how much damage the former National Security Agency contractor has done to U.S. national security interests. Carter has been making the rounds to promote his new book, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power. The discussion, which also focused heavily on women's issues and religion, was moderated by David Ignatius and Sally Quinn. Carter has been a critic of the NSA surveillance efforts revealed by Snowden, who is living in Russia. The former president recently said that he believes the agency is monitoring his e-mails. On Wednesday, Carter called on Obama to do more to scale back the scope of government surveillance. "I would like to see him do it by executive order which I think he could," Carter said. On the situation in Ukraine, Carter reiterated his belief that the United States and its allies could not have done anything to stop Crimea from falling into Russia's hands. But, he added that Russian President Vladimir Putin "has to be stopped now." He said that while the threat of U.S. military force to prevent Russia from moving further into Ukraine is probably excessive, showing support for the Ukrainian military in concert with U.S. allies is prudent. "I think it would be legitimate to say we are going to make sure the Ukraine military are fortified and [provided with] whatever weapons they need," said Carter. Jimmy Carter and Roselyn Carter at 1997 Inaugural (Carter Center)On Middle East peace efforts, Carter urged Obama to adopt a robust posture in support of his chief diplomat if he comes forth with a comprehensive peace plan in the region. "He doesn't have to be involved in the negotiations," said Carter, "but he has to make sure once [Secretary of State] John Kerry comes forward with a roadmap ... that he lets the whole world know this is the United States position." Carter is shown at right with his wife, Roselyn, at his 1977 Inaugural in a photo courtesy of the Carter Center. See also:

  • Washington Post, Jimmy Carter: 'God doesn't hate women,'Sally Quinn, March 26, 2014. Former President Carter discussed the abuse of women around the world.
  • Washington Post, Jimmy Carter says Pope Francis promised 'women should have a greater role,' Michelle Boorstein, March 26, 2014. Carter said he wrote to Pope Francis challenging him on the status of women in the Catholic Church. 
  • Washington Post, Jimmy Carter in talks with Venezuela on disease, March 26, 2014. Carter said be hopes to visit Venezuela to airlift medics to treat river blindness in a remote tribe on the Brazilian border.

Washington Post, President Obama’s foreign policy paradox, Robert Kagan, March 26, 2014. Robert Kagan is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He writes a monthly foreign affairs column for The Post. Whether one likes President Obama’s conduct of foreign policy or not, the common assumption is that the administration is at least giving the American people the foreign policy they want. The majority of Americans have opposed any meaningful U.S. role in Syria, have wanted to lessen U.S. involvement in the Middle East generally, are eager to see the “tide of war” recede and would like to focus on “nation-building at home.” Until now, the president generally has catered to and encouraged this public mood, so one presumes that he has succeeded, if nothing else, in gaining the public’s approval.

Washington Post, Senators say administration lacks strategy for Syria, Karen DeYoung, March 26, 2014. Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unleash a barrage of criticism.

Washington Examiner, 'Shocked' Anti-Defamation League slaps FBI diss on hate crimes, Paul Bedard, March 26, 2014.

March 25

Washington Post, Billionaire mogul Sheldon Adelson looks for mainstream Republican who can win in 2016, Matea Gold and Philip Rucker, March 25, 2014. Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who along with his wife plowed more than $92 million into efforts to help mostly losing candidates in the 2012 elections, is undertaking a new strategy for 2016 — to tap his fortune on behalf of a more mainstream Republican with a clear shot to win the White House, according to people familiar with his thinking. In 2012, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson spent so much of their money on long-shot candidate Newt Gingrich that they helped extend an ugly intraparty fight that left the eventual nominee, Mitt Romney, severely bruised by the time he faced President Obama in the general election. This time, the Adelsons are plotting their investments based not on personal loyalty, but on a much more strategic aim: to help select a Republican nominee they believe will have broad appeal to an increasingly diverse national electorate.

Institute for Public Accuracy, Snowden's Passport & Political Asylum, March 25, 2014. Nine months after revocation of his passport by the Obama administration, a news conference in Washington will call for a change in the U.S. government stance toward NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The news conference will feature three speakers: Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst whose responsibilities included preparing the President’s Daily Brief and chairing National Intelligence Estimates, is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. McGovern was one of four American whistleblowers, including Coleen Rowley, who met with Snowden in Russia on October 9 to present him with an award for integrity in intelligence; Coleen Rowley -- a former FBI special agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures -- was named one of Time magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002. Rowley wrote to the FBI Director again in February 2003 with some hard questions about the reliability of the evidence being adduced to “justify” the impending invasion of Iraq; Norman Solomon is founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of, a U.S. organization sponsoring a pair of petitions about Snowden. The petitions, with a combined total of 100,000 signers, will be presented at the Justice Department and the State Department the morning after the news conference. "The past nine months of heavy labor, on the part of Snowden and the journalists in whom he put his trust, have birthed an easily recognizable image of Snowden as a patriot,” McGovern says. “Secretary of State John Kerry ought to be man enough to recognize that he made a big mistake in pulling the passport of an American patriot and making him stateless. The shocking truths revealed over the past nine months about government abuse amply show that Edward Snowden should get his passport back.”

Miami Herald, Intelligence Chairman Rogers won't seek re-election, David Lightman, March 25, 2014. Rep. Mike Rogers, the tough-talking Michigan Republican who heads the House Intelligence Committee, said Friday he won’t seek re-election to another term. Rogers, 50, a former FBI agent and seven-term House veteran, told Detroit radio station WJR-AM he will become a nationally syndicated radio host.

Washington Post, In Georgetown ricin case, a portrait of a student with a sharp mind, many troubles, Justin Jouvenal and Ann E. Marimow, March 25, 2014. When his roommate went away for a long weekend, the Georgetown University sophomore told authorities, he turned their dorm room at 615 McCarthy Hall into an impromptu laboratory to create one of the world’s most deadly poisons — an idea he gleaned from the hit TV show “Breaking Bad.”

March 24

Washington Post, White House plan targets NSA program, Ellen Nakashima, March 24, 2014. The Obama administration is drafting legislation that would end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone data, a program that has been criticized by privacy advocates.

Washington Post, Possible 2016 race hangs in the air as Jeb Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton share billing, Philip Rucker, March 24, 2014. Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton appearance underscores their shared status as potential 2016 candidates.

March 23

Edward SnowdenJonathan, Edward Snowden gives TED Talk on saving the Internet, Charlton S. Stanley, (video & transcript), March 23, 2014. A few days ago, Edward Snowden was the speaker at the TED2014 annual conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The 2014 conference celebrated the 30th anniversary of TED. Snowden made his appearance from a remote location via a gadget TED calls a "Telepresence Robot." It looks like a cross between a TV on a stand and a Segway. The speaker can control this audience interactive device from their own computer. He was interviewed live by Chris Anderson. Here is the TED talk and interview with Edward Snowden, recorded last Tuesday, March 18. It is longer than many of the TED talks, but well worth 35 minutes of your time. Especially if you are concerned about freedom of speech, association, and long term viability of the Internet. Snowden is shown in a file photo from a recent interview.

For those not familiar with the TED Talks, they were the brainchild of Richard Saul Wurman, an architect and graphic designer. TED was intended as a single presentation in Silicon Valley back in 1984. TED is an acronym for Technology, Entertainment, Design.  The talks have grown into a handful of views and participants into millions of views. Presenters have come from every walk of life and culture, including entertainers, cientists, entrepreneurs, and educators. TED has recently redesigned their website, hosting their own original content videos. What does that mean? They are immune from copyright takedown demands. Many people livestream and record the videos. That means it is virtually impossible for anyone to censor or take down a TED Talk. Copies are out there in the wild. At least, they are out there until the Internet is destroyed, but even then, they will be circulated on film and digital media much like the pamphleteers of long ago. I am sure everyone recalls those troublemakers Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin. I posted a story on February 1, entitled Edward Snowden Speaks. In that story, we discussed the mysterious takedowns of the German TV interview with Mr. Snowden on YouTube almost as fast as they appeared.

OpEd News, Three Who Made A War, Paul Craig Roberts, March 23, 2014. The Spanish-American War was caused by three people: Teddy Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, and William Randolph Hearst. The war, which killed a number of Spaniards and Americans, including some prominent Harvard "Swells," was based entirely on lies and machinations of these three men and served no purpose other than their personal needs. Princeton University historian Evan Thomas calls these three monsters The War Lovers. If Americans were to read three history books, they could free themselves from their self-righteous delusions that endanger all life on earth. Those books are: A People's History of The United States by Howard Zinn, The Untold History of the United States by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick, and The War Lovers by Evan Thomas.

New York Post, Threat of 9/11 US terror network still looms, Paul Sperry, March 23, 2014. A multicity support network inside America funded by Saudi Arabian officials to aid the 9/11 hijackers was never “taken down” after the attacks, according to the former US senator who headed the joint congressional inquiry into 9/11. Former Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla) also said America will remain “vulnerable” to another attack until a secret report detailing the network is made public. Graham co-chaired the joint inquiry, says releasing the 28-page chapter — which was “censored from word one to the last word” over the objection of he and Republican co-chair Sen. Richard Shelby — would ¬expose shocking details on the terrorism plot that killed nearly 3,000 people. Allegedly, they identify Saudi officials, agents and other contact men for the hijackers.  More than a decade ago, President George W. Bush mysteriously classified a 28-page section of the “Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.” The documents remain secret under President Obama despite his promise to 9/11 families to release them.

March 22

FireDogLake, FDL Book Salon Welcomes Luke Harding, Kevin Gosztola, March 22, 2014. Luke Harding of the Guardian authoredLuke Harding The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man (Random House, 2014). The disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and the efforts of journalists to thoroughly report on them have demonstrated the key differences between the United States and the United Kingdom when it comes to press freedom. In the United Kingdom, GCHQ, the country’s spy agency, sent technicians to ensure the hard drives that had been used by the Guardian were destroyed. This was not going to stop the media organization from reporting on the files. It was “purely a symbolic act.” The threatened alternative, if the Guardian did not comply, was to use the law to stop further coverage of the National Security Agency files. Luke Harding’s book chronicles these episodes and how the Guardian ultimately chose to navigate the reality that their country does not have a strong tradition of freedom of the press by partnering with the New York Times, a rival media organization which Harding notes was not particularly liked by journalist Glenn Greenwald or Snowden. See also, New York Times, Book Review: The Snowden Files, Michiko Kakutani, Feb. 2, 2014.

Washington Post, NSA targeted network of Chinese tech firm Huawei, leaked document shows, Ellen Nakashima, March 22, 2014. The National Security Agency has sought to create back doors into the networks of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies in an effort to learn whether the company was spying on behalf of Beijing, according to a leaked document.

Los Angeles Times, U.S. shifts Syria strategy to 'southern front,'  Nabih Bulos and Patrick J. McDonnell, March 22, 2014. The U.S. and allies are giving cash, and many say, training, to rebel forces in what many view as a last chance to turn the war against Bashar Assad's government. In recent months, Syria's so-called "southern front" has become the focus of a reinvigorated U.S.-backed initiative to bolster faltering opposition forces now losing ground in their three-year battle to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad.

March 21

War Is A Crime, The War Activists, David Swanson, March 21, 2014. War activists, like peace activists, push for an agenda. We don't think of them as activists because they rotate in and out of government positions, receive huge amounts of funding, have access to big media, and get meetings with top officials just by asking -- without having to generate a protest first. They also display great contempt for the public and openly discuss ways to manipulate people through fear and nationalism -- further shifting their image away from that of popular organizers. But war activists are not journalists, not researchers, not academics. They don't inform or educate. They advocate. They just advocate for something that most of the time, and increasingly, nobody wants. William Kristol and Robert Kagan and their organization, the Foreign Policy Initiative, stand out as exemplary war activists. Crac de Chevaliers, Homs, SyriaThey've modified their tone slightly since the days of the Project for the New American Century, an earlier war activist organization. They talk less about oil and more about human rights. But they insist on U.S. domination of the world. Kagan has worked for Hillary Clinton. His wife Victoria Nuland has just been stirring up trouble in the Ukraine as Assistant Secretary of State. This pair is something of a good-cop/bad-cop team. Kristol bashes Obama for being a wimp and not fighting enough wars. Kagan reassures Obama that he can be master of the universe if he'll only build up the military a bit more and maybe fight a couple more wars here and there.

Reuters, Syrian army says has control of western Homs province, Firas Makdesi, March 21, 2014. Standing at the gate of a Crusader castle captured from insurgents less than 24 hours before, a Syrian army officer declared on Friday that forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad were now in control of the western half of Homs province. The castle Crac de Chevaliiers is shown in a file photo.

New York Times, Russian Defiance Is Seen as a Confidence Builder for Syria’s Government, Anne Barnard, March 21, 2014. Russia’s growing rift with the West over the crisis in Ukraine has bolstered the confidence of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, pro-government analysts here say, emboldening him to press ahead with plans for re-election despite a three-year insurgency and making Syrian officials doubt that Russia will pressure him to compromise anytime soon. The prospect of a compromise brokered by Russian and American officials to end the Syrian war seems increasingly remote.

March 20

Alan ColmesFox News Talk Radio The Alan Colmes Show Liberaland, The “Legal Schnauzer” Calls From The Dog House, March 20, 2014. JIP Director Andrew Kreig arranged an interview from Shelby County's jail with Fox News Talk Radio Host Alan Colmes, shown in a file photo. See also, Legal Schnauzer, Attorney, Author Andrew Kreig Visits Legal Schnauzer Publisher Roger Shuler in Jefferson County Jail, March 18, 2014. Attorney and author Andrew Kreig of Washington, D.C. visited Legal Schnauzer publisher Roger Shuler at the Jefferson County Jail on Monday, March 10. Kreig had traveled to the state on Thursday, March 6, to take part in that weekend's commemoration of the Selma march anniversary. Thankfully, however, Kreig was able to finally meet with Shuler on Monday in the jailed journalist's second only visit by a reporter since his arrest on Oct. 23.

National Press Club, Panel: Civil Liberties Dead Zone, March 20, 2014. (75 minutes). "Civil Liberties Dead Zone: Do First and Fourth Amendment Rights Not Apply at the Border?" examines known cases of media workers and journalists who have been interrogated at the U.S. border by Homeland Security Department officials who have demanded access to their laptops, thumb drives and other digital devices. Defended as a tool in the fight against crime and terrorism, the DHS policy has aroused the concern of press freedom advocates who worry the practice could jeopardize reporters' sensitive information -- including the identities of anonymous sources -- particularly if journalists are unaware their digital information is vulnerable to search and seizure at the U.S. border. The NPC’s Freedom of the Press Committee put together a well-rounded expert panel that will examine the legal environment of the policy, the risks it poses to press freedom and to privacy, as well as the potential benefits in the fight against terrorism. Speakers include:

  • Moderator Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center
  • Frank Smyth, senior adviser for journalist security at the Committee to Protect Journalists
  • Neema Guliani, legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union
  • Steven Bradbury, partner, Dechert LLP, and former head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, 2005-2009

Washington Post, Lawrence E. Walsh, Iran-contra prosecutor, dies at 102, Joe Holley, March 20, 2014. Mr. Walsh led a seven-year investigation of the Reagan-era Iran-contra scandal.
The investigation would conclude that the administration of President Ronald Reagan had illegally sold arms to Iran to win the release of U.S. hostages in the Middle East and had given the proceeds, in defiance of Congress, to a rebel group known as the “contras,” who were fighting to overthrow the Marxist government of Nicaragua. Congress also created a joint investigative committee, which many thought would lead to Reagan’s impeachment. The Iran-contra affair led to the dismissal of the president’s national security adviser, Navy Adm. John M. Poindexter, and Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, the National Security Council staff aide accused of masterminding the scheme.

Greg, One Year Ago: My Piece on Media and Iraq Killed by 'Wash Post,'George W. Bush and Dick Cheney March 20, 2014. The piece below was written, in only slightly different from, on assignment for the Washington Post exactly one year ago, but killed by the paper's Outlook section. They later ran a piece by their own Paul Farhi claiming that the media actually "didn't fail" on Iraq.  When I wrote about this reaction it drew wide attention across the Web. For awhile, back in 2003, Iraq meant never having to say you’re sorry, at least for the many war hawks. The spring offensive had produced a victory in less than three weeks, with a relatively low American and Iraqi civilian death toll. Saddam fled and George W. Bush and his team drew overwhelming praise, at least here at home. But wait. Where were the crowds greeting us as “liberators”? Why were the Iraqis now shooting at each other—and blowing up our soldiers? And where were those WMD, biochem labs, and nuclear materials? Most Americans still backed the invasion, so it still too early for mea culpas—it was more “my sad” than “my bad.”

Zero Hedge, Ukraine Goes Cyprus 2.0, To Tax Deposits Over 100,000 Hryvnia (To Appease IMF?), Tyler Durden, March 20, 2014. It would appear the IMF's dirty little fingerprints are all over this latest piece of legislation in Ukraine. The Ukraine Finance Ministry is proposing to take a very-similar-to-Cyprus approach to bailing in its despositors: "Ukraine Proposes New Tax On Deposits Exceeding 100,000 Hryvnia; and Ukraine Tax Proposal Would Include 1.5% Of All Deposits." This would appear a measure designed to stabilize the budget for potential IMF negotiations and fits perfectly with what the IMF has consistently hinted as the next steps for many nations. This is further to the news last week that a 25% deposit "tax" was being considered. Via Tax News, "Ukraine's parliament is to consider draft laws which would ban foreign-currency bank deposits and introduce a 25% tax on interest on deposits in banks and other financial institutions in circumstances where the interest received is more than 5% above the rate set by the National Bank of Ukraine." The proposed amendments to banking and tax legislation were put forward by Yevhen Sihal, who is a member of the country's ruling Party of Regions.

Democracy Now! Georgia Activists Confront GOP Rejection of Medicaid as Moral Mondays Spread Across South, Staff report, March 20, 2014. Reverend Dr. Raphael Warnock, serves as senior pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. On Tuesday, he was among the 39 protesters arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience as part of the Moral Monday Georgia movement. "Medicaid expansion now!" was the rallying cry this week of a rising grassroots movement spreading across the South. Nearly 40 people were arrested at the Georgia State Senate on Tuesday protesting a bill that would bar the expansion of Medicaid. Georgia has the fifth-highest number of uninsured people of any state in the country. Under the Affordable Care Act, an estimated 650,000 additional residents would be eligible for Medicaid.

March 19

Barack Obama, John Kerry, Susan Rice, March 19, 2014President Barack Obama talks with Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice in the Oval Office, March 19, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)

New York Times, Protest Disrupts Georgia Senate Session On Bill To Block Medicaid Expansion, Herbert Buchsbaum, March 19, 2014. "The movements are rare stirrings of impassioned, liberal political action," writes Herbert Buchsbaum at the New York Times, "in a region where conservative control of government is as solid as cold grits and Democrats are struggling for survival more than influence."

Tampa Bay Times, President Barack Obama spent "$5 billion paying Ukrainians to riot and dismantle their democratically elected government," Katie Sanders, March 19, 2014. A meme on Facebook says President Barack Obama spent “$5 billion paying Ukrainians to riot and dismantle their democratically elected government.” The claim is rooted in a December 2013 speech by Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland to the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, a non-governmental agency that promotes democracy in the former Soviet republic. She made clear the United States supported the protesters’ fight and spoke of how she met with Yanukovych, pressing him to end the pushback from Ukrainian security forces because it is "absolutely impermissible in a European state, in a democratic state." She described how American taxpayer money has supported Ukraine’s democratic development despite the country’s challenges. "Since Ukraine's independence in 1991, the United States has supported Ukrainians as they build democratic skills and institutions, as they promote civic participation and good governance, all of which are preconditions for Ukraine to achieve its European aspirations," she said. "We have invested over $5 billion to assist Ukraine in these and other goals that will ensure a secure and prosperous and democratic Ukraine." Wasn’t Nuland talking about money given since Ukraine broke away from the Soviet Union? The State Department said yes. Since 1992, the government has spent about $5.1 billion to support democracy-building programs in Ukraine, Thompson said, with money flowing mostly from the Department of State via U.S. Agency for International Development, as well as the departments of Defense, Energy, Agriculture and others. The United States does this with hundreds of other countries. About $2.4 billion went to programs promoting peace and security, which could include military assistance, border security, human trafficking issues, international narcotics abatement and law enforcement interdiction, Thompson said. More money went to categories with the objectives of "governing justly and democratically" ($800 million), "investing in people" ($400 million), economic growth ($1.1 billion), and humanitarian assistance ($300 million). That’s a distorted understanding of remarks given by a State Department official. She was referring to money spent on democracy-building programs in Ukraine since it broke off from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Common Dreams, New 'Southern Strategy'? Waves of Liberal Protest Ripple Across South, Lauren McCauley, March 19, 2014. Demonstrations in Georgia and South Carolina highlight growing movement against conservative control. Disrupting a session of the Georgia Senate, protesters unfurled a large banner denouncing the GOP-led push against health care in the state. Waves of liberal protest are rippling across the South as a newly energized base—fueled by the momentum of the Moral Monday protests in North Carolina—are declaring to the largely Republican establishment that they will no longer be ignored. Thirty-nine protesters were arrested at the capitol building in Atlanta, Georgia on Tuesday during a raucous protest against the GOP-led effort to prohibit Medicaid expansion in the state. In South Carolina, 17 demonstrators were also arrested at the Columbia state house in the third weekly demonstration against lawmakers' refusal to accept federal health care funding.

Nation, What’s Next for the Moral Monday Movement? Ari Berman, Feb. 19, 2014. This article appeared in the March 10 edition. This multiracial, multi-issue progressive coalition is not only remobilizing in North Carolina—its model of activism is now spreading all over the South. On Feb. 1, 1960, four black students at North Carolina A&T kicked off the decade’s civil rights movement by trying to eat at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter in downtown Greensboro. Two months later, young activists founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) at Shaw University in Raleigh, which would transform the South through sit-ins, Freedom Rides and voter registration drives. So it was fitting that when North Carolina’s Moral Monday movement held a massive “Moral March” in Raleigh on February 8, it began at Shaw University, exactly fifty-four years after North Carolina’s trail-blazing role in the civil rights movement. Tens of thousands of activists from thirty-two states—representing all different backgrounds, races and causes—marched from Shaw to the State Capitol, protesting the right-wing policies of the government (sample sign: Welcome to North Carolina. Turn Your Watch Back 50 Years!) and rallying for economic fairness, equal justice, labor rights, voting rights, universal healthcare and public education.

Telegraph (London), We will hold joint military exercises with Britain and US, says Ukraine, Bruno Waterfield and Colin Freeman, March 19, 2014. Ukraine's new government said on Wednesday night that it would be conducting military exercises with Britain and the United States, in a move intended to warn Russia against further seizures of Ukrainian territory. Kiev said the maneouvres would be conducted under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, a document signed by Britain, American and Russia to guarantee Ukraine's territorial integrity after it gave up its share of Soviet nuclear bombs. However, a Downing Street source said Britain had not "committed" itself yet to the exercises and declined to elaborate on whether they would involve sending British forces to the Black Sea region.

Marcell Ferrar de Noli

Professors Blogg (Sweden), Corruption-fighting journalist Roger Shuler still jailed after five months, Edited by Prof. Marcelllo Ferrada de Noli (shown in file photo), March 19, 2014. Andrew Kreig offers a timely report on an American journalist still being jailed after nearly five months for his investigative reporting. Longtime readers may recall both Andrew and the jailed reporter Roger Shuler as breaking important stories in late 2010 that revealed how U.S. political strategist Karl Rove was advising Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. Andrew’s multiple columns for us complemented our probes into the hidden agendas behind Sweden’s vast litigation to question Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Huffington Post, Women's Advocacy Group, Denied Access To LDS Church Meeting, Antonia Blumberg, March 19, 2014. Any Mormon women hoping to raise the issue of female ordination in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may have a long road ahead of them. A Mormon church official notified the women's advocacy group, Ordain Women, that it would not be granted tickets nor allowed to protest in Salt Lake City’s historic Temple Square during the faith’s general priesthood meeting on April 5, The Associated Press reported on Monday. The group, which celebrated its one-year anniversary on March 17, seeks to bring gender equality and women's ordination to the table in a faith that, they say, has a long tradition of equality.

Jackson Free Press, An Innocent Woman? Michelle Byrom vs. Mississippi, Ronni Mott, March 19, 2014. Michelle Byrom, 56, is serving a sentence at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl for the 1999 murder of her husband. Despite serious questions about her guilt, Byrom is scheduled to be executed on March 27. She would be the first woman Mississippi has put to death in seven decades.

March 18

Barack Obama with Mahmoud Abbas at White House, March 17, 2014President Barack Obama tells Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas goodbye in a first floor hallway after concluding meetings in the West Wing of the White House, March 17, 2014. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.

AP and Reuters via Deutsche Welle (Germany), Putin defends Russia's actions in Crimea, saying it 'wants to be with Russia,' Wire reports, March 18, 2014. Putin defends Russia's actions in Crimea, saying it 'wants to be with Russia.' President Putin has defended his country's inclusion of Crimea into the Russian Federation, citing a common history. He also hit back at Western critics for what he said was their contradictory use of international laws.  During an address to lawmakers in Moscow on Tuesday, Vladimir Putin hit on a number of topics, from the injustice of Crimea's transfer to Ukraine in 1954, to the peninsula's legal and just declaration of independence, to Western leaders' hypocrisy in their portrayal of how recent events transpired.

Richard Nixon PortraitNew York Times, Randolph Thrower, I.R.S. Chief Who Resisted Nixon, Dies at 100, Paul Vitello, March 18, 2014. Randolph W. Thrower, a Republican lawyer who headed the Internal Revenue Service under President Richard M. Nixon from 1969 to 1971 before losing his job for resisting White House efforts to punish its enemies through tax audits, died March 8 at his home in Atlanta. The end of his federal job came in January 1971, after Mr. Thrower requested a meeting with the president, hoping to warn him personally about the pressure White House staff members had been placing on the I.R.S. to audit the tax returns of certain individuals. Beginning with antiwar leaders and civil rights figures, the list had grown to include journalists and members of Congress, among them every Democratic senator up for re-election in 1970, Mr. Thrower told investigators years later. Mr. Thrower received two responses from the president, shown in his official portrait. The first was a memo from the president’s appointments secretary saying a meeting would not be possible; the second was a phone call from John D. Ehrlichman, the president’s domestic affairs adviser, telling him he was fired. In White House tapes and memos released in later years, Nixon described what kind of I.R.S. commissioner he wanted. “I want to be sure he is a ruthless son of a bitch,” he was recorded as saying, “that he will do what he is told, that every income tax return I want to see I see” and “that he will go after our enemies and not go after our friends.”

BradBlog, How Legitimate is Crimea's '96.7%' Referendum Result? And what does it tell us about U.S. elections? Brad Friedman, March 18, 2014. In a blog item on Monday, law professor Ilya Somin, of the Washington Post's right-leaning "Volokh Conspiracy" blog, declared the weekend's reported 96.7% vote in favor of Crimea joining Russia to be either fraudulent or the result of voter intimidation of some kind. At the same time, it serves as a stark reminder that concerns about election fraud elsewhere are perfectly welcome in the U.S. corporate mainstream media, while far more demonstrable evidence of fraud and malfeasance in U.S. elections is often never allowed the light of day from the very same publications.

Hudson County TV, Ex-Secaucus Mayor’s daughter suing Governor Christie’s office, Staff report, March 18, 2014. The daughter of jailed former Secaucus mayor Dennis Elwell has sued the office of New Jersey governor Chris Christie under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act to obtain potentially explosive “color coded” dossiers on the mayors, their political allies and opponents in at least 100 towns across the state.

Crooks and Liars, Journalists Leave Roger Shuler To Rot In Alabama Jail, Karoli, March 18, 2014.  Is freedom of the press only for the journalists in their own circles? Why no outcry about Roger Shuler's endless incarceration? It's amazing to me that Roger Shuler's rights are being violated this way, that he's not being given the right to a trial or any due process, and journalists everywhere shrug. Andrew Kreig of the Justice Integrity Project interviewed Roger recently, and took journalists to task for turning the other way and pretending this isn't happening right here in this country.

March 17

Barack Obama and John Boehner St. Patrick's Day Lunch March 14, 2014President Barack Obama shares a laugh with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, during a St. Patrick’s Day lunch for Prime Minister Enda Kenny of Ireland at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., March 14, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)

Washington Post, NSA recorded ‘every single’ call in one country, Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani, March 17, 2014. The NSA has built a voice interception program capable of recording “100 percent” of a foreign country’s telephone calls and replaying voices from calls up to 30 days old. At the request of U.S. officials, The Washington Post is withholding details that could be used to identify the country where the system is being employed or other countries where its use was envisioned. 

Consortium News via OpEdNews, Mainstream US Media Is Lost in Ukraine, Robert Parry, March 16, 2014. As the Ukraine crisis continues to deepen, the mainstream U.S. news media is sinking to new lows of propaganda and incompetence. Somehow, a violent neo-Nazi-spearheaded putsch overthrowing a democratically elected president was refashioned into a "legitimate" regime, then the "interim" government and now simply "Ukraine."

ABC News, Russian Deputy PM Laughs at Obama’s Sanctions, Kirit Radia, March 17, 2014. Russia’s deputy prime minister laughed off President Obama’s sanction against him today  asking “Comrade @BarackObama” if “some prankster” came up with the list. The Obama administration hit 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials with sanctions today as punishment for Russia’s support of Crimea’s referendum. Among them: aides to President Vladimir Putin, a top government official, senior lawmakers, Crimean officials, the ousted president of Ukraine, and a Ukrainian politician and businessman allegedly tied to violence against protesters in Kiev. It remains to be seen whether the sanctions will dissuade Russia from annexing Crimea, but one an early clue that they will not be effective came just hours later when President Putin signed a decree recognizing Crimea as an independent state, perhaps an early step towards annexation.

John PilgerCounterpunch, How the Same Godfather Rules from Canberra to Kiev: The Forgotten Coup, John Pilger (shown in a file photo), March 17, 2014. Washington’s role in the fascist putsch against an elected government in Ukraine will surprise only those who watch the news and ignore the historical record. Since 1945, dozens of governments, many of them democracies, have met a similar fate, usually with bloodshed. The great game of dominance offers no immunity for even the most loyal US “ally.” This is demonstrated by perhaps the least known of Washington’s coups — in Australia. The story of this forgotten coup is a salutary lesson for those governments that believe a “Ukraine” or a “Chile” could never happen to them. Australia’s deference to the United States makes Britain, by comparison, seem a renegade. This dictum was rudely set aside in 1972 with the election of the reformist Labor government of Gough Whitlam. Although not regarded as of the left, Whitlam — now in his 98th year — was a maverick social democrat of principle, pride, propriety and extraordinary political imagination. He believed that a foreign power should not control his country’s resources and dictate its economic and foreign policies. He proposed to “buy back the farm” and speak as a voice independent of London and Washington.

In 1974, the White House sent the Marshall Green to Canberra as ambassador. Green was an imperious, very senior and sinister figure in the State Department who worked in the shadows of America’s “deep state.”  Known as the “coupmaster,” he had played a played a central role in the 1965 coup against President Sukarno in Indonesia — which cost up to a million lives. One of his first speeches in Australia was to the Australian Institute of Directors — described by an alarmed member of the audience as “an incitement to the country’s business leaders to  rise against the government.” The CIA had infiltrated the Australian political and trade union elite and referred to the Governor-General of Australia, Sir John Kerr, as “our man Kerr.” Invoking archaic vice-regal “reserve powers”, Kerr sacked the democratically elected prime minister. The problem was solved.

OpEdNews, Robert Reich Warns: Millions of Voters Could Be Turned Away in November, Joan Brunwasser, March 17, 2014.  We have so many things to be outraged about that it's all too easy to fall into a kind of cynical oblivion. But that's a dangerous cop-out. Even if someone is living in the bluest of states, they're likely to have friends or relations in a red state -- and those friends or relations need to be mobilized to take on Republicans who won't lift a finger to save the Voting Rights Act or who might try to suppress minority votes.

LouisianaFox News /Liberaland, Louisiana Forgets There’s A First Amendment And Sues Liberal Group, Alan Colmes, March 17, 2014. put up billboards and did a TV ad critical of Governor Bobby Jindal rejecting Medicaid funds. The state is suing claiming it is illegally using a logo. Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne has been locked in a pitched battle with the group for weeks, unsuccessfully calling for it to take down the billboard that is currently up on the I-10 coming into Baton Rouge from Port Allen. “We have invested millions of dollars in identifying the Louisiana: Pick Your Passion brand with all that is good about Louisiana. No group should be allowed to use the brand for its own purposes, especially if it is for partisan political posturing,” Dardenne said in a statement announcing the suit. In response to the suit, Civic Action’s Executive Direct Anna Galland said the organization hasn’t yet received notice of the complaint, but, “if press reports are accurate, it is very sad to see the state spend taxpayer money on a frivolous lawsuit instead of providing health care to the people of Louisiana.

The Huffington Post, 'Moral Monday' Group Plans Protest At Georgia State Capitol, Samantha Lachman, March 17, 2014. A coalition of organizations under the "Moral Mondays" banner is planning to protest legislation at the Georgia state legislature in Atlanta on Tuesday, in an attempt to broaden the reach of such protests beyond North Carolina, where the civil rights rallies began.

March 16

OpEdNews, Who Set-Up Medea Benjamin? Lawrence Davidson, March 16, 2014. For several months prior to March 2014, the peace organization Code Pink was in communication with Egyptian diplomatic representatives in the United States for the arrival of approximately 100 women from around the globe who would come to Egypt...and hold a demonstration on International Women's Day (March 8) to show solidarity with the women of Gaza. One of the principal organizers of this event was the well-known peace activist Medea Benjamin. Medea Benjamin's horrid treatment (including a dislocated shoulder when she was roughed up at airport security and held incommunicado for 13 hours) was not a mistake. It was not the action of a few rogue border officials. It was a premeditated act on the part of the military dictatorship that now passes for a government in Egypt. Who gave the orders? No doubt this plot started in Washington when someone, probably a security officer attached to the visa department at the Egyptian embassy, recognized Benjamin's name.

Consortium News, Corporate Interests Behind Ukraine Putsch, JP Sottile, March 16, 2014.  Behind the U.S.-backed coup that ousted the democratically elected president of Ukraine are the economic interests of giant corporations – from Cargill to Chevron – which see the country as a potential “gold mine” of profits from agricultural and energy exploitation, reports JP Sottile.  On Jan. 12, a reported 50,000 “pro-Western” Ukrainians descended upon Kiev’s Independence Square to protest against the government of President Viktor Yanukovych. Stoked in part by an attack on opposition leader Yuriy Lutsenko, the protest marked the beginning of the end of Yanukovych’s four year-long government. That same day, the Financial Times reported a major deal for U.S. agribusiness titan Cargill. Despite the turmoil within Ukrainian politics after Yanukovych rejected a major trade deal with the European Union just seven weeks earlier, Cargill was confident enough about the future to fork over $200 million to buy a stake in Ukraine’s UkrLandFarming.

OpEdNews, The Nazis Even Hitler Was Afraid of, George Eliason, March 16, 2014. EU politicians that supported the Maidan Revolution are voicing concerns bordering on fear about how much control Ultra Nationalists have over the government in Kiev. Chancellor Merkel's government is telling her she can no longer afford to ignore the Ultra Nationalists in Ukraine. They are scared Germany will be responsible for setting up a new Reich. It's time to strip Ukraine Map Wikimedia Commonsaway the rest of the veneer and take a look at what's really there. Every important ministry, from education and social policy to policing, prosecution and national defense, is headed by Ultra Nationalists. In every aspect of national life, Ultra Nationalists now determine what it means to be Ukrainian and all the policies needed to enforce it.

Paul Craig, Obama Declares Self-Determination To Be A Threat To US National Security, Paul Craig Roberts, March 16, 2014. In his March 6 Executive Order, “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine,” Obama declares that support for Crimean self-determination constitutes “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.” Obama and the lawyers who drafted his executive order did not notice that the way the order is drafted it applies to Obama, to the unelected coup government in Kiev, and to the Washington and EU regimes. The order says that any person “responsible for or complicit in, or to have engaged in, directly or indirectly . . . actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine” is subject to having his assets frozen. Washington and the EU are the only two governments whose personnel have undermined democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine by overthrowing the elected government and imposing an unelected one. Of course, Obama’s executive order will not be applied to those to whom it is applicable. It will be applied to those to whom it is not applicable–authorities who permitted the Crimean population to exercise democratic processes in order to determine their own fate.

OpEd News, Anniversary of Boston Marathon Bombing Looms, Many Questions Remain, Joan Brunwasser, March 16, 2014. Our original piece, which appeared within four days of the bombing, attracted tremendous attention and huge social media reaction, was based on our concerns that so many "national security" events don't make sense, and that we need to be vigilant about being manipulated in support of unexplained agendas, often having to do with the power and profitability of the perennial "homeland security" and "national security machines."

March 14

Bashar and Asma AssadWashington Post, On third anniversary of Syrian rebellion, Assad is steadily winning the war, Liz Sly, March 14, 2014. President Bashar al Assad is planning his own reelection and his foes are in disarray. Editors Note: In a file photo, Syria's president, a member of the Muslim Alawite sect, is shown with his wife, Asma, whose Sunni Muslim religious background is seldom reported in the Western media, which has tended to portray Syria's battles as a fight to the death between Alawites and Sunnis. Until recently, the media have made scant mention either of the Western-backed foreign jihadist fighters supported by billions in foreign aid, much of it from Gulf monarchies, in the effort to overthrow Assad in Syria.

Washington Post, In eastern Ukraine, residents and their loyalties are deeply divided, Anthony Faiola, March 14, 2014. Some people want Russian protection, while others are loyal to the Ukrainian government.

Consortium News via OpEdNews, Neocons Have Weathered the Storm, Robert Parry, March 14, 2014. AP and Newsweek reporter Bob Parry helped break the Iran-Contra Scandal in the 1980s. You might have expected that the neocons would have been banished to the farthest reaches of U.S. policymaking, so far away that they would never be heard from again. However, the neocons have proved their staying power, now reemerging as the architects of the U.S. strategy toward Ukraine. Neocons played key behind-the-scenes roles in instigating the Feb. 22 coup that overthrew a democratically elected president with the help of neo-Nazi militias; the neocons have since whipped Official Washington into a frenzy of bipartisan support for the coup regime; and they are pushing for a new Cold War if the people of Crimea vote to leave Ukraine and join Russia. The neocons positioned themselves wisely. They still controlled government-funded operations like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED); they held prominent positions inside think tanks, from the American Enterprise Institute to the Council on Foreign Relations to the Brookings Institution; they had powerful allies in Congress, such as Senators McCain, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman; and they dominated TV chat shows and opinion pages, particularly at the Washington Post, the capital's hometown newspaper. NED, which was founded in 1983, is best known for investing in other countries' "democracy building" (or CIA-style "destabilization" campaigns, depending on your view), but much of NED's money actually goes to NGOs in Washington, meaning that it became a lifeline for neocon operatives who found themselves out of work because of the arrival of Obama.

Washington Post, U.S. plans to relinquish control over administration of the Internet, Craig Timberg, March 14, 2014. March 14, 2014. The federal government has been a partner in running the nonprofit, and the shift is likely to be controversial.

March 13

Mark ZuckerbergCNN, Mark Zuckerberg calls Obama to complain about NSA, Jose Pagliery, March 13, 2014. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg called President Obama on Wednesday night to express frustration about the government's spying and hacking programs. "When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we're protecting you against criminals, not our own government," wrote Zuckerberg (shown at right in a file photo courtesy of Wikipedia). It may seem disingenuous for the leader of a giant tech company that hoards your data (and sells it wholesale) to point an angry finger at government surveillance. But Zuckerberg's complaint is specifically aimed at one thing: hacking. His concerns are based on the latest investigative report from The Intercept, which revealed that the National Security Agency has weaponized the Internet, making it possible to inject bad software into innocent peoples' computers en masse. Put simply, using the QUANTUM program, the NSA can sneak into someone's Web browser. The report is based on documents provided by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Eric HolderProject on Government Oversight (POGO), Hundreds of Justice Department Attorneys Violated Professional Rules, Laws, or Ethical Standards, Staff report, March 13, 2014. Administration Won’t Name Offending Prosecutors. (Attorney General Eric Holder is shown in an official photo.) An internal affairs office at the Justice Department has found that, over the last decade, hundreds of federal prosecutors and other Justice employees violated rules, laws, or ethical standards governing their work. The violations include instances in which attorneys who have a duty to uphold justice have, according to the internal affairs office, misled courts, withheld evidence that could have helped defendants, abused prosecutorial and investigative power, and violated constitutional rights. From fiscal year 2002 through fiscal year 2013, the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) documented more than 650 infractions, according to a POGO review of data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and from OPR reports.

New York Times, Russia Massing Military Forces Near Border With Ukraine Steven Lee Myers and Alison Smale, March 13, 2014. Russia’s Defense Ministry announced new military operations in several regions near the Ukrainian border on Thursday, even as Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany warned the Kremlin to abandon the politics of the 19th and 20th centuries or face diplomatic and economic retaliation from a united Europe. The operations came as Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr V. Turchynov, said in a statement on his official website that he believed Russian forces massed near the border were “ready to intervene in Ukraine at anytime,” and that he hoped diplomatic efforts by Ukraine and sympathetic nations would “stop the aggression.” Underscoring the potential gravity of the troop movements, Russia’s senior commander, Valery V. Gerasimov, spoke by telephone with his NATO counterpart, Gen. Knud Bartles of Denmark, the news agency Interfax reported, citing a defense source.

Guardian, US criticised by UN for human rights failings on NSA, guns and drones, Ed Pilkington, March 13, 2014. Geneva panel shares deep concerns over US record on host of different subjects, including racial inequality and Guantánamo. The US came under sharp criticism at the UN human rights committee in Geneva on Thursday for a long list of human rights abuses that included everything from detention without charge at Guantánamo, drone strikes and NSA surveillance, to the death penalty, rampant gun violence and endemic racial inequality. At the start of a two-day grilling of the US delegation, the committee’s 18 experts made clear their deep concerns about the US record across a raft of human rights issues. Many related to faultlines as old as America itself, such as guns and race. The committee is charged with upholding the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a UN treaty that the US ratified in 1992. The current exercise, repeated every five years, is a purely voluntarily review, and the US will face no penalties should it choose to ignore the committee’s recommendations, which will appear in a final report in a few weeks’ time.

Angela MerkelOpEdNews, The Failure of German Leadership -- Merkel Whores For Washington, Paul Craig Roberts, March 13, 2014. Washington, enabled by its compliant but stupid NATO puppets, is pushing the Ukrainian situation closer to war. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has failed her country, Europe, and world peace. Germany is the strength of the EU and NATO. Had Merkel said "No" to sanctions on Russia, that would have been the end of the crisis that Washington is brewing, a crisis unlikely to be ended short of war. But Merkel, shown in a file photo, has signed away the sovereignty of the German nation and assigned the fate of Germany to a province in the American Empire. Washington's mismanaged Ukrainian coup has cost Washington Crimea, which Washington wanted most of all in order to deprive Russia of its warm water naval base on the Black Sea. In addition, the mismanaged overthrow of an elected government in Ukraine is threatening to also lose the Russian cities of eastern Ukraine. Like Crimea, eastern Ukraine consists of former Russian areas that Khrushchev stuck into Ukraine in the 1950s.

CIA LogoWashington Post, Ukrainian oligarch with ties to Russia's Gazprom arrested on FBI warrant, Will Englund, March 13, 2014. Dmytro Firtas, a Ukrainian oligarch with deep and lucrative ties to Russia’s state-owned energy monopoly, has been arrested in Vienna at the request of the FBI, according to Austrian press accounts. The charges of bribery and criminal conspiracy could be the beginning of a U.S. effort to inflict financial pain on Russia over its role in the Ukrainian crisis.

Washington Post, CIA feared Senate probe would expose key sources, intelligence officials say, Adam Goldman and Greg Miller, March 13, 2014. Problems intensified after the CIA notified the Senate panel that its computers were searched again.

Washington Post, News organizations increasingly turn to sponsored discussions as source of revenue, Paul Farhi, March 13, 2014. The formula is simple: Take a high-minded topic and a few knowledgeable talking heads, and rent a hall. Then get a sponsor willing to shell out top dollar to splash its name on the ensuing discussion.

War Is A Crime, World Has No Idea How U.S. Decides on Wars, David Swanson, March 13, 2014. People from Yemen and Pakistan and elsewhere have told me, and have testified in the U.S. Congress, that they have a hard time convincing their neighbors that everyone in the United States doesn't hate them. The good news is that, of course, we don't all hate Yemenis or Pakistanis or Somalis or Afghans or Libyans or any of the other people who might suspect us of it.  The bad news -- and the news that I'm afraid would be almost incomprehensible to many millions of people around the world -- is that most of us have only the vaguest idea where any of those countries are, some of us don't know that they ARE countries at all, and we pay far greater attention to our sports and our pets than to whom exactly our government is killing this Tuesday. This obliviousness comes into sharpest relief perhaps when we elect the officials who are legally called on to decide on our wars. The extent to which Congress has handed war making over to presidents is also brought out by observing Congressional elections.

March 12

Barack Obama and Ukraine Interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk March 12, 2014President Barack Obama talks with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk of Ukraine at the conclusion of their bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, March 12, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)

Washington Post, Russia issues arrest warrant for militant leader in Ukraine, Kathy Lally and Carol Morello, March 12, 2014. Russia on Wednesday intensified the pressure on Ukraine’s new leadership, issuing an arrest warrant for the leader of the militant faction that toppled the government there and sparked a Russian military takeover of Crimea.

OpEdNews, Obama Regime's Hypocrisy Sets New World Record, Paul Craig Roberts, March 12, 2014. Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, a conservative scholar and commentator Paul Craig Robertsshown in a file photo, was associate editor of the Wall Street Journal and assistant Treasury Secretary during the Reagan Administration. The neoconservative warmongers who control the Obama regime are boasting that unless Russia prevents Crimean self-determination, Washington will use sanctions to "badly damage the Russian economy." Sanctions are likely to backfire. Sanctions would damage economies of Washington's NATO puppet states, making them think again about providing cover for Washington's aggressive words and deeds. Europe will pay for Washington's aggressive actions. Sanctions are likely to speed up the implementation of the BRICS negotiations to leave the dollar system. National sovereignty is inconsistent with being part of the US dollar system. During the Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama regimes, Washington has established that whatever serves Washington's agenda is legal. Therefore, Washington is offering its stooges in Kiev $1 billion to help the coup government get up and running in violation of US law that prohibits giving financial assistance to governments whose leaders come to power via coup or other illegal means.

New York Times, Obama Raises Stakes With Russia Over Ukraine, Peter Baker and Michael R. Gordon, March 12, 2014. In a meeting with Arseniy Yatsenyuk, interim prime minister of Ukraine, President Obama vowed retaliation if Moscow follows through with threats to annex Crimea. The United States embarked on a last-ditch diplomatic effort to defuse a crisis that reignited tensions between East and West. The tentative feeler came as Mr. Obama dispatched Secretary of State John Kerry to London to meet with his Russian counterpart on Friday, two days before a Russian-supported referendum in Crimea on whether to secede from Ukraine. Mr. Obama said the world would “completely reject” what he called a “slapdash election,” but added he still hoped for a peaceful settlement.

Committee for the Republic, Jon Basil Utley -- A Tribute, Moderator John Henry, March 12, 2014 (published May 3, 2014). The Committee for the Republic's March 12 meeting saluted the extraordinary life of Jon Basil Utley as he celebrates his 80th birthday at the Metropolitan Club in Washington, D.C. Constitutionalist Bruce Fein announced the Defender of Liberty award. Featured speakers included those who have known Jon at different times of his life -- as a principled opponent of Soviet communism and, later, America's subsequent military interventions in Serbia, Iraq and Afghanistan -- and now as a publisher of The American Conservative magazine. The video features short reflections on Jon Utley by his colleagues and friends, including John Henry, Chairman of the Committee, fundraising giant Richard Viguerie, Lee Edwards of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, Dan McCarthy, editor of The American Conservative, Allan Brownfeld of the American Council for Judaism, Alex Chafuen, President of the Atlas Economic Research foundation, Norman Birnbaum, Georgetown University Professor emeritus, British writer Francis Beckett, author of Stalin's British Victims, and Fran Griffin, President of Griffin Communications, who also read a message from Pat Buchanan. Utley talks about some of the lessons learned during his action-packed life:

-- Soviet Prison Camps
-- Living under Dictatorships in Cuba and Peru
-- America and the Third World
---Washington and War: Why War is its Favored Action
-- Conservatives and the Growing Police State in America
-- Sun Tzu and America's Way of War

Washington Post, Judge dismisses indictment against Indian diplomat, Karen DeYoung, March 12, 2014. A federal judge dismissed an indictment Wednesday against an Indian diplomat whose arrest in December on visa fraud charges led to a major diplomatic crisis between the United States and India. Devyani Khobragade, an Indian consular official in New York, did not have full diplomatic immunity when she was arrested in December for submitting false forms to obtain a U.S. visa for a household worker. But the Indian government subsequently changed her job to one with full immunity, and the fact that this occurred on Jan. 8, the day before she was formally indicted, meant the indictment was invalid, Judge Shira A. Sheindlin of the Southern District of New York ruled. The case had provoked outrage in India over both the arrest and the conditions of Khobragade’s brief detention, including a strip-search.

Washington Post, Holder to push for shorter sentences in most drug cases, Sari Horwitz, March 12, 2014. As part of Attorney General Eric Holder’s effort to reduce the country’s burgeoning prison population, he is expected to testify today in favor reduced penalties.

JFK Facts, CIA spying on Congress: ‘Undercover’ officer duped House JFK investigators in ’78, Jeff Morley, March 12, 2014. While electronic surveillance may be new, the CIA has used its espionage techniques to thwart Hill scrutiny before. In 1978, the CIA went so far as to plant a spy in Congress’ inquiry into the murder of a sitting president. The proof emerged in 2010 when a top CIA official stated in a sworn affidavit that the agency planted an “undercover” officer  into the House of Representatives investigation of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The House investigators came away feeling much like the Senate Intelligence Committee does today: deceived and manipulated. Then as now, it seems the threat of exposure and embarrassment on a sensational issue of the day — be it torture or assassination — prompted senior CIA officials to subvert Congress’s efforts to hold the agency accountable for its actions. Now Washington is asking why agency officials thought they had the right to spy on a congressional investigation. The answer is that history has shown they can get away with it., Judge 'conditionally' rules Luther Strange won't be forced to testify at Lowell Barron trial, Paul Gattis, March 12, 2014. A judge today conditionally denied a subpoena request by former state Sen. Lowell Barron to force state Attorney General Luther Strange to testify at Barron's trial next month. Barron's attorney, Joe Espy, said in court last week that Barron was seeking Strange's testimony about how campaign funds are frequently used. Espy also filed almost 200 pages of Strange's campaign documents outlining money given to a former campaign aide. Barron and Rhonda Jill Johnson, a former campaign worker, have been indicted on six counts of violating the state's campaign and ethics laws. They are scheduled to go to trial on April 14.

Dianne FeinsteinCommon Dreams, The Feinstein Syndrome: “The Fourth Amendment for Me, But Not for Thee,” Norman Solomon, March 12, 2014. Photo by C-SPAN as Sen. Feinstein speaks on the Senate floor March 11, 2014.  It may already be a historic fact that Senator Feinstein’s speech blew a whistle on CIA surveillance of the Senate intelligence committee, which she chairs. In her blockbuster speech, Feinstein charged that the CIA’s intrusions on her committee’s computers quite possibly “violated the Fourth Amendment.” You know, that’s the precious amendment that Feinstein—more than any other senator—has powerfully treated like dirt, worthy only of sweeping under the congressional rug. A tidy defender of the NSA’s Orwellian programs, Feinstein went on the attack against Edward Snowden from the outset of his revelations last June. Within days, she denounced his brave whistleblowing as “an act of treason”—a position she has maintained.

March 11

Washington Post, Feinstein accuses CIA of illegally spying on Senate panel probing agency, Greg Miller, Ed O’Keefe and Adam Goldman, March 11, 2014. The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee sharply criticized the CIA, saying the agency had improperly interfered with one of the panel’s most sensitive investigations. The comments by Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) marked an extraordinary — and extraordinarily public — turn in a long-simmering dispute between lawmakers and the intelligence agency. See also in the Washington Post, Senators rally around Feinstein, demand answers from CIA, Wesley Lowery and Ed O'Keefe, March 11, 2014 and Why the feud is public, Adam Goldman, March 11, 2014.

Washington Post, Feinstein is owed more than a sorry, Dana Milbank, March 11, 2014. The White House must cough up documents it has been withholding.

New York Times, How a Court Secretly Evolved, Extending U.S. Spies’ Reach, Charlie Savage and Laura Poitras, March 10, 2014. Leaked documents add new details to a secret body of law that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has developed since it began to broaden its role in 2001.

Washington Post, NSA nominee backs Obama on shifting responsibility for phone data collection, Ellen Nakashima, March 11, 2014. The administration’s nominee to become the next director of the National Security Agency said he backs President Obama’s call to move the mass gathering of Americans’ phone records out of the government’s hands but would oppose an end to the bulk collection of such data. “I support the president’s decision to shift that from the National Security Agency,” Vice Adm. Michael S. Rogers told the Senate Armed Services Committee at a confirmation hearing Tuesday. But Rogers said he wants some form of the record collection to be preserved.

WhyWhatWhy, Boston Bomber Carjacking Unravels (Part I of II), Russ Baker, March 11, 2014. The only witness to the Boston Marathon bombing confession has provided dramatically inconsistent accounts, an exclusive WhoWhatWhy investigation reveals. The clashing stories, coming from a man whose identity remains shrouded, form the basis for the publicly accepted narrative of the bombing and its aftermath. The discrepancies involve the nature and length of the carjacking episode, and raise serious questions as to whether the anonymous witness was ever a captive of the alleged bombers. This in turn touches on the credibility of his claim to have received a confession from Tamerlan Tsarnaev. In fact, the problems with this witness’s story cast doubts on almost everything we have been told about what has been described as the largest terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11.

March 10

Washington Post, Prosecutors: D.C mayor knew of ‘shadow’ effort, Ann E. Marimow, Matt Zapotosky and Paul Schwartzman, March 10, 2014. A judge accepts businessman Jeffrey Thompson’s guilty plea as he admits to funneling money to Vincent Gray’s campaign coffers in 2010.

Wall Street Journal, Federal Prosecutors Seek Records on Port Authority Chairman, Ted Mann, March 10, 2014. Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed records from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey related to the business interests of its chairman, David Samson, people familiar with the matter said Monday. The demand for records came last week as scrutiny of Samson—a close ally of Republican Gov. Chris Christie—has increased since allegations emerged that the Port Authority closed George Washington Bridge access lanes for political purposes. Samson's law firm, Wolff & Samson PC, is one of the most prominent in New Jersey and has clients involved in a range of matters important to the Port Authority and the state's elected officials.

Washington Post, Russia cites ‘chaos’ in eastern Ukraine; gunmen storm bases in Crimea, Carol Morello and Kathy Lally, March 10, 2014. Russia and its sympathizers seized control of more Ukrainian military bases and facilities in Crimea on Monday while Moscow issued threatening statements about eastern Ukraine that signaled Russia’s intention to play a significant role in the country’s future. At least four Ukrainian military bases, including one stocked with missiles, were overrun by armed men in uniforms who say they are members of local self-defense units, which are typically under the command of Russian military officers. The headquarters of the Ukrainian naval fleet had its electricity cut, and the director of a military hospital was ousted and a replacement installed by the pro-Russian militia that took over.

March 9 via USA Today, Thousands march in remembrance of 'Bloody Sunday,' Alvin Benn, Montgomery Advertiser, March 9, 2014.  Thousands of activists walked across the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge on Sunday to retrace the steps of peaceful protesters who were beaten, gassed and run over by horses by Alabama authorities in 1965. The annual commemoration drew what could have been the largest attendance since the event began two decades ago. Local law enforcement officials are already planning for the 50th anniversary next March — something expected to be much larger.

March 5

Barack Obama Discusses Ukraine Feb. 28, 2014President Barack Obama discusses Ukraine during a meeting with members of his National Security Staff in the Oval Office. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Washington Post, E.U. proposes $15 billion in aid to Ukraine, William Booth and Kathy Lally, March 5, 2014. Secretary of State John Kerry was to meet with his Russian counterpart in Paris but Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov did not attend.

Washington Post, How the Ukraine crisis ends, Henry A. Kissinger, March 5, 2014. Henry A. Kissinger, shown in a file photo from early in his career, was secretary of state from 1973 to 1977. Public discussion on Ukraine is all about confrontation. But do we know where we are going? In my life, I have seen four wars begun with great enthusiasm and public support, all of which we did not know how to end and from three of which we withdrew unilaterally. The test of policy is how it ends, not how it begins. Far too often the Ukrainian issue is posed as a showdown: whether Ukraine joins the East or the West. But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other — it should function as a bridge between them. Russia must accept that to try to force Ukraine into a satellite status, and thereby move Russia’s borders again, would doom Moscow to repeat its history of self-fulfilling cycles of reciprocal pressures with Europe and the United States. The West must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country. Russian history began in what was called Kievan-Rus. The Russian religion spread from there. Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then. Some of the most important battles for Russian freedom, starting with the Battle of Poltava in 1709, were fought on Ukrainian soil. The Black Sea Fleet — Russia’s means of projecting power in the Mediterranean — is based by long-term lease in Sevastopol, in Crimea. The European Union must recognize that its bureaucratic dilatoriness and subordination of the strategic element to domestic politics in negotiating Ukraine’s relationship to Europe contributed to turning a negotiation into a crisis. Foreign policy is the art of establishing priorities.

Zero Hedge, "Behind The Kiev Snipers It Was Somebody From The New Coalition" -- A Stunning New Leak Released, Tyler Durden, March 5, 2014. When it comes to "dirty tricks" what is about to be presented, blows the top off anything Russia may or has done to date. Earlier today an even more shocking recording has been "leaked" this time one between the always concerned about human rights EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet, in which it is revealed on tape that all those photos of horrifying deaths of Ukrainians by snipers during the last days of the Median stand off, were in fact caused not by snipers controlled by Yanukovich, but that the snipers shot at both protesters and police in Kiev were allegedly hired by Maidan leaders! Here is the key exchange, just after 8 minutes into the conversation:

Paet: "All the evidence shows that people who were killed by snipers from both sides, policemen and people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides.... Some photos that showed it is the same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it is really disturbing that now the new coalition they don't want to investigate what exactly happened. So there is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition."

Ashton: "I think we do want to investigate. I mean, I didn’t pick that up, that’s interesting. Gosh."

Paet: "It already discreditates (sic) this new coalition."

So first US orchestrates the Kiev overthrow, and now the new "leaders" of Ukraine are allegedly found to have fired against their own people -- the same provocation they subsequently used to run Yanukovich out of the country and install a pro-Western puppet government.

Of course, said pro-Western coalition has not been discredited because Ms. Ashton has sternly refused to investigate, knowing quite well how horribly this would reflect on the new Ukraine "leadership" -- a government which shot its own people to fabricate the pretext under which it rose to power. Is it any wonder then that Russia has responded the way it has?

Henry KissingerFireDogLake, Given Alleged CIA Spying on Senators, When Will Senate Intelligence Committee Release Torture Report? Kevin Gosztola, March 5, 2014. Reported and alleged Central Intelligence Agency spying on Senate Select Committee on Intelligence members should only increase the effort by senators to have a report on the agency’s rendition, detention and interrogation program released. McClatchy reports that the CIA Inspector General’s Office has requested that the Justice Department investigate “malfeasance” by the agency stemming from conduct related to the Senate report, which comprehensively details the CIA’s role in the torture of terrorism suspects. The “malfeasance” is suspected to be alleged “monitoring” of computers that committee staff were using when working on the report in a “secure room at CIA headquarters.” The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has pushed for the release of the 6,300-page report and filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the CIA, appropriately reacted, “If it turns out that the CIA was spying on the Senate committee that oversees the agency, it would be an outrageous violation of separation of powers.”

Op-Ed News, Propaganda Rules The News, Paul Craig Roberts, March 5, 2014. What has happened in Ukraine is that Washington plotted against and overthrew an elected legitimate government and then lost control to neo-nazis who are threatening the large Russian population in southern and eastern Ukraine, provinces that formerly were part of Russia. These threatened Russians have appealed for Russia's help, and just like the Russians in South Ossetia, they will receive Russia's help.

OpEd News, Live In Or Visit Alabama? Be Afraid, Very Afraid, Kathryn Bauman Rubenstein, March 5, 2014. This is a warning if you live in or plan to visit the state of Alabama. There is the possibility that you may be arrested, beaten and thrown in jail without cause. Normal Civil Rights and respect for the United States Constitution do not apply. Roger Shuler, an Alabama based blogger, was arrested in October 2013 and to date remains in jail after being beaten and arrested by Shelby County sheriff deputies. The judge on the case was hand-selected by the Rileys to ensure their brand of justice prevails. I have had my own experience with unlawful judicial proceedings in Alabama after uncovering and substantiating forgery of my father's Will and Trust. Four years ago I left the state abruptly, concerned my own fate would mirror that of Roger Shuler's or worse. Mr. Shuler was arrested without a warrant. In Alabama's lawless society, it could happen to any of us.

Liz WahlPolitico, RT Anchor Resigns On-Air: I Can't Be Part of Network 'That Whitewashes the Actions of Putin,' Dylan Byers, March 5, 2014. American 'RT' anchor quits in protest of network's Putin coverage. A Washington-based anchor for the Kremlin-backed RT news channel announced her resignation on-air Wednesday, saying she "could not be part of a network funded by the Russian government that whitewashed the actions of Putin." "I'm proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth," Liz Wahl, shown in a screen shot, an anchor in RT's D.C. bureau, told viewers, after explaining how her parents had fled Soviet persecution during the Hungarian revolution. "That is why after this newscast, I'm resigning." Wahl's public resignation came two days after another anchor Abby Martin, condemned the military intervention during her own broadcast. "What Russia did is wrong," Martin said on Monday. "Military intervention is never the answer, and I will not sit here and apologize or defend military aggression." In the wake of Martin's remarks, RT (formerly Russia Today) released a statement saying that all RT journalists are "free to express their own opinions, not just in private but on the air" and that "there will be absolutely no reprimands made against Ms. Martin."

March 4

Vladimir PutinWashington Post, Putin: Will protect Russians in Ukraine,  Kathy Lally and William Booth, March 4, 2014. He asserts that the pro-Russian former regime in Kiev was illegally overthrown and that the man he regards as Ukraine’s president asked him for military help.

Washington Post, Cold War looms over NATO’s talks on Ukraine, Anthony Faiola, March 4, 2014. NATO members pledge “solidarity” at emergency meeting, but there are signs of division in Europe over how to respond to Russia’s intervention in Crimea. U.S. prepares sanctions on Russians.

Cryptome, Ukraine's Leaders Seek National Socialism, John Stanton, March 4, 2014. The American press is fond of patting itself on the back for upholding the first amendment to the US Constitution, that being, among other things, freedom of the press. But that does not mean the freedom to obfuscate, ignore facts and curry favor with the US national security apparatus in whatever covert or overt form it takes. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post have engaged, once again, in a classic information operations effort. This time it is to shape a national anti-Russian consensus around the legitimate concerns of the Russian government. As these three big corporate institutions are the semi-official organs of the United States' government, they have shown the weakness of President Obama's national security advisers and, by proxy, heavyweight financiers like George Soros (who runs the Open Society NGO).

Washington Post, Why did Michelle Obama give a Ukrainian pop star the Women of Courage award?  Mamuma Ahuja, March 4, 2014. On Tuesday morning, first lady Michelle Obama and Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom presented 10 women from around the world the Secretary of State’s Women of Courage award. So how does a pop star from Ukraine make the list? "I think of myself as a volunteer ... showing people that we need to be here because there is no other way,” Ruslana said to Reuters in December. "Russia is our past, Europe must be our future," she explained. Even though Ruslana continues to be best known for her music, this isn't the pop star’s first foray into politics. Hercareer in activism and humanitarian work began long before the protests started in 2013. She was an active participant in the 2004 Orange Revolution, became the first ever UNICEF National Ambassador in Ukraine in 2005, was speaking out for renewable energy in 2008 and now acts as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

March 3

Washington Post, Russian forces expand control of Crimea, Will Englund, William Booth and Kathy Lally, March 3, 2014. Russian forces expanded their control of Ukraine’s Crimea region Monday, as the Ukrainian prime minister called for Western political and economic support and the Russian and Ukrainian currencies fell in tandem. The Russian forces, already in control of much of Crimea, took possession of a ferry terminal in Kerch, in the eastern part of the peninsula just across a strait from Russian territory, according to reports from the area.

Huffington Post, Washington Post 'News Article' Slams President Obama for Not Bombing Russia, Robert Naiman, March 3, 2014. People make fun of Senator John McCain, saying that he never met a war he didn't like. But if the Washington Post were a Senator, Senator W. Post's extremist warmongering concerning the potential use of military force would make Senator McCain look like a prudent moderate by comparison. This isn't just true of its "opinion" pages, but of how the Washington Post "reports the news." In the wake of the Russian military intervention in Crimea, the Post -- in a purported "news article" -- is claiming that the crisis illustrates that President Obama is too reluctant to use military force. 

Zbigniew BrzezinskiWashington Post, What is to be done? Putin’s aggression in Ukraine needs a response, Zbigniew Brzezinski, March 3, 2014. Zbigniew Brzezinski was national security adviser from 1977 to 1981, and co-founded the Trilateral Commission with David Rockefeller in 1974. Regarding the Russian aggression against Ukraine, much depends on what Vladimir Putin does next. Putin’s thuggish tactics in seizing Crimea offer some hints regarding his planning. He knew in advance that his thinly camouflaged invasion would meet with popular support from the Russian majority in Crimea. He was not sure how the thin and light Ukrainian military units stationed there would react, so he went in masked like a Mafia gangster. In the event of serious Ukrainian resistance, he could disown the initiative and pull back.

Bloomberg, Russia Gas Threat Shows Putin Using Pipes to Press Ukraine, Elena Mazneva and Stephen Bierman, March 3, 2014. Gazprom’s threat to end natural gas discounts for Ukraine adds to the financial burden on the near-bankrupt government in Kiev and makes Europe’s energy supply part of the escalating crisis. Russia’s gas-export monopoly said on March 1 it may end last year’s agreement to supply Ukraine at a cheaper rate unless it’s paid $1.55 billion owed for fuel. Vladimir Putin, shown in a file photo, has permission from Russian lawmakers to deploy troops to Ukraine and has repeatedly used gas to strong-arm his western neighbor.

National Press Club, Ukrainian protest leader to speak at Press Club Newsmaker March 5, Herb Perone, March 3, 2014. One of Ukraine’s most internationally recognizable and politically active citizens will discuss the situation there at a Newsmakers conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The pop music star and former Ukrainian Parliament member Ruslana Lyzhychko – known simply as Ruslana – comes one day after she receives the U.S. Secretary of State’s international Women of Courage Award.

Of Two Minds, Who Gets Thrown Under the Bus in the Next Financial Crisis?  Charles Hugh Smith, March 3, 2014. The collapse of the U.S. dollar would destroy the foundation of both the Deep State and the U.S. nation-state, hence my conclusion that the Deep State will not enable that collapse. As for all the financial claims on real wealth that will have to go to zero value, let's identify the operative vector of dependency with a question: which scenario most threatens the Deep State: 50 million hungry Americans taking to the streets shouting, "We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it any more!" or 10,000 financiers losing a couple trillion dollars in phantom wealth? In other words, the phantom financier claims of Wall Street now pose a strategic threat to the integrity of the U.S. and its Deep State. It's certainly not lost on the Deep State that a palpable hatred of bankers, financiers and the Federal Reserve is taking root across the land.

Legal Schnauzer, Publisher Roger Shuler Will Appear at Jefferson County Hearing on Wednesday, March 5, Roger Shuler, March 3, 2014. Legal Schnauzer publisher Roger Shuler will appear at a hearing at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, March 5 at the Jefferson County Courthouse. The hearing, before Judge Don Blankenship, is in a lawsuit filed by Republican political figure Jessica Medeiros Garrison. The hearing reportedly will involve an attempted default judgment that Garrison is seeking. Shuler is incarcerated in the Shelby County Jail because of a lawsuit filed by Rob Riley, one of Garrison's Republican political allies. Garrison is the former campaign manager for Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange. Editor's Note: Shuler has been held without bond on a contempt of court charge for failure to spike his stories pre-trial after being sued in a separate libel case. He has no lawyer.

March 2

Hamid Karzai 2009 at Munich Security Conference Wikimedia CommonsWashington Post, Interview: Karzai says 12-year Afghanistan war has left him angry at U.S. government, Kevin Sieff, March 2, 2014. Hamid Karzai was in the midst of negotiating a security agreement with the United States when he met a 4-year-old girl who had lost half her face in an American airstrike. Sitting behind his desk Saturday night, the man who has projected a defiant image toward the West suddenly looked frail. In an unusually emotional interview, the departing Afghan president sought to explain why he has been such a harsh critic of the 12-year-old U.S. war effort here. He said he’s deeply troubled by all the casualties he has seen, including those in U.S. military operations. He feels betrayed by what he calls an insufficient U.S. focus on targeting Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan.

Hamid Karzai speakers to Congress in 2004 with VP Cheney and Speaker Hastert (wikimedia commons)Hamid Karzai became Afghanistan's president in 2001 after being wounded in the overthrow of the Taliban. He is descended from a family prominent in Afghanistan for many decades. The former graduate student at Stanford and Oxford universities was a CIA contractor during the war against the Soviet invasion, and broke with the Taliban in the 1990s. In photos via Wikimedia Commons, he is shown at a security conference in Munich in 2009 and also with Vice President Dick Cheney and House Speaker Dennis Hastert addressing Congress in 2004.

Washington Post, House GOP will push welfare reform, Robert Costa, March 2, 2014. The upcoming House Republican budget will recommend a sweeping overhaul of social programs.

New York Times, Pressure Rising as Obama Works to Rein In Russia, Peter Baker, March 2, 2014. As Russia dispatched more forces and tightened its grip on the Crimean Peninsula on Sunday, President Obama embarked on a strategy intended to isolate Moscow and prevent it from seizing more Ukrainian territory even as he was pressured at home to respond more forcefully. Working the telephone from the Oval Office, Mr. Obama rallied allies, agreed to send Secretary of State John Kerry to Kiev and approved a series of diplomatic and economic moves intended to “make it hurt,” as one administration official put it. But the president found himself besieged by advice to take more assertive action. The Russian occupation of Crimea has challenged Mr. Obama as has no other international crisis, and at its heart, the advice seemed to pose the same question: Is Mr. Obama tough enough to take on the former K.G.B. colonel in the Kremlin?

March 1

Washington Post, Obama speaks with Putin by phone, calls on Russia to pull forces back to Crimea bases, Karen DeYoung, March 1, 2014. President Obama spoke for 90 minutes with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday in what appeared to have been a testy exchange reflecting an escalating battle of wills and growing international tension over Ukraine. Obama expressed “deep concern” over Russia’s “violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity . . . [and] breach of international law,” the White House said. He called on Putin to pull Russian forces, now reportedly spread across Crimea, back to their bases in the autonomous Ukrainian region, according to Barack Obama Speaks with Vladimir Putin March 1, 2014 (White House Photo)a White House statement, and made clear that Russian refusal would lead to suspension of U.S. participation in planning for the upcoming Group of Eight summit in Sochi, Russia, scheduled for June, and “greater political and economic isolation.”

Washington Post, Russia sets stage for showdown, Troops take control across Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, Kathy Lally, William Booth and Will Englund, March 1, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin wins authorization to send in more forces;  thousands of pro-Russia Ukrainians welcome his move, but nationalist groups in the nation’s west vow to mobilize.

Washington Post, Spell out the consequences for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Editorial Board, March 1, 2014. It took Vladimir Putin less than a day to trample on President Obama’s warning against a Russian military intervention in Ukraine. The United States now faces a naked act of armed aggression in the center of Europe by a Russian regime that is signaling its intent to steamroller this U.S. president and his allies. Mr. Obama must demonstrate that can’t be done.

Washington Post, U.S. foreign policy comes home to roost with Russia’s action in Ukraine, David J. Kramer, March 1, 2014. David J. Kramer is president of Freedom House and a former deputy assistant secretary of state for Russia and Ukraine in the George W. Bush administration. President Obama faces the gravest challenge of his presidency in figuring out how to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There are things Obama needs to do immediately, some in collaboration with our European and NATO allies, others on our own. They include: Imposing sanctions against Russian state-owned banks and financial institutions....

Professors Blogg (Sweden), Was the reopening of the Sweden case, part of the US request to prosecute Assange by any means?  Dr. Marcello de Ferrada de Noli, March 1, 2014. After nearly four years of the Marcell Ferrar de NoliProfessors Blogg on the case of Julian Assange, my 250 analyses and articles, one book, and nearly 1,000 comments, I have to admit that the international debate on the Swedish case against Assange is still futilely devoted to “the legal aspects.” My position is instead: there is no legal ground for a prosecution in Sweden on the base of the alleged behaviors. Arguments from the part of the Swedish prosecutors in vague insinuations of “undisclosed” reasons for pursuing an interrogation with Assange (at the same time they neglect carrying out such interrogation in London) emerges as a pure and simple bluff. And this bluff shall be certainly “called” if an interrogation ever is performed. Julian AssangeErgo, the case is postponed indefinitely. So, what is necessary is international criticism changing focus to the actual political plot and denouncing its main actors. It emerges now that the “Assange prosecution-case” was a request from the US government. 

Washington Post, How Republicans lost their minds, Democrats lost their souls and Washington lost its appeal, Robert G. Kaiser, March 1, 2014. "Do you miss Washington yet?” A friend asked me this on the phone the other day, and — like a longtime Washingtonian — I avoided a full and frank reply. “Not yet,” I said. It’s an odd sensation, leaving the town I’d lived in for most of my 70 years, ending my 50-year career at the Washington Post, turning my back on the political circus that enthralled me for so long. But a more honest answer would have been this: I don’t miss Washington.

RT, Andrew Kreig exclusive interview with RT International, March 1, 2014.