JIPLogoEditor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative September 2018 news and views

Note: Excerpts are from the authors' words except for subheads and occasional "Editor's notes" such as this. 

Nov. 15

Trump Rants Against Prosecutors

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump blasts Mueller probe a week after installing new acting attorney general, John Wagner, Nov. 15, 2018. President Trump on Thursday lashed out anew at the investigation of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, calling his team of lawyers “a disgrace to our NationNation” and accusing them, without evidence, of threatening witnesses to get answers they want.

matthew whitaker headshot recentTrump’s rant, in a pair of morning tweets, came a week after the installation of Matthew G. Whitaker, right, as acting attorney general, a move many Democrats have said appears designed to curtail Mueller’s investigation into possible coordination between Russia and Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election.

Trump angrily dismissed a reporter’s question about that notion last week and said he had not spoken to Whitaker about the Russia probe before naming him to replace ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Many of Trump’s complaints in Thursday’s tweets were familiar, but they took on heightened significance with Whitaker now overseeing Mueller’s probe, which is also examining whether Trump has obstructed justice.

Facebook's Sellout of Customers?

ny times logoNew York Times, Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis, Sheera Frenkel, Nicholas Confessore, Cecilia Kang, Matthew Rosenberg and Jack Nicas, Nov. 15, 2018 (print edition). In just over a decade, Facebook has connected more than 2.2 billion people, a global nation unto itself that reshaped political campaigns, the advertising business and daily life around the world. Along the way, Facebook accumulated one of the largest-ever repositories of personal data, a treasure trove of photos, messages and likes facebook logothat propelled the company into the Fortune 500.

But as evidence accumulated that Facebook’s power could also be exploited to disrupt elections, broadcast viral propaganda and inspire deadly campaigns of hate around the globe, Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg stumbled. Bent on growth, the pair ignored warning signs and then sought to conceal them from public view. At critical moments over the last three years, they were distracted by personal projects, and passed off security and policy decisions to subordinates, according to current and former executives.

ny times logoNew York Times, How Facebook Wrestled With Scandal: 6 Key Takeaways From The Times’s Investigation, Nicholas Confessore and Matthew Rosenberg, Nov. 15, 2018 (print edition). For more than a year, Facebook has endured cascading crises — over Russian misinformation, data privacy and abusive content — that transformed the Silicon Valley icon into an embattled giant accused of corporate overreach and negligence.

facebook logoAn investigation by The New York Times revealed how Facebook fought back against its critics: with delays, denials and a full-bore campaign in Washington. Here are six takeaways.

Facebook knew about Russian interference. In fall 2016, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, was publicly declaring it a “crazy idea” that his company had played a role in deciding the election. But security experts at the company already knew otherwise.

They found signs as early as spring 2016 that Russian hackers were poking around the Facebook accounts of people linked to American presidential campaigns. Months later, they saw Russian-controlled accounts sharing information from hacked Democratic emails with reporters. Facebook accumulated evidence of Russian activity for over a year before executives opted to share what they knew with the public — and even their own board of directors.

Saudis Charge Scapegoats?

washington post logoWashington Post, Saudi Arabia seeks death penalty for five suspects in killing of Jamal Khashoggi, Kareem Fahim​, Nov. 15, 2018. Saudi Arabia said Thursday it has indicted 11 people in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month and that it is seeking the death penalty against five of them for ordering and committing the killing, according to the country’s public prosecutor.

Saud al-Mojeb said in a statement that the former deputy head of intelligence, Ahmed al-Asiri, had dispatched a Saudi team to Turkey to negotiate Khashoggi’s return to Saudi mohammed bin salman al saudArabia. The order to kill the journalist came from the head of the Saudi team in Istanbul, the prosecutor added.

Officials in several countries have said it is unlikely Khashoggi could have been killed without the knowledge of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader. But no definitive evidence has emerged showing that Mohammed ordered the operation. Saudi officials deny that the crown prince was in any way responsible for Khashoggi’s death.

2018 Elections:

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge orders Florida to allow more time to clear up disputed signatures on some ballots, Sean Sullivan and Isaac Stanley-Becker, Nov. 15, 2018.Florida’s historic recount was thrown once more into uncertainty Thursday when a federal judge ruled that voters whose mail-in and provisional ballots were rejected because of issues with their signatures will have two more days to resolve the problems and possibly have their votes counted.

rick scott blue shirt fileThe decision by Judge Mark Walker of the U.S. District Court in Tallahassee came just hours ahead of the Thursday afternoon deadline for elections officials to complete a machine recount. It is particularly notable in the too-close-to-call Senate race, in which Gov. Rick Scott (R), left, leads Sen. Bill Nelson (D) by fewer than 13,000 votes.

Walker’s decision affects Floridians who cast their ballots by mail, or voted provisionally, but whose signatures did not match records maintained by state officials. More than 4,000 ballots across 45 counties in Florida were set aside because of inconsistent signatures, he wrote in his opinion. In the other 22 counties, the number is unknown.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The real fraudster in Florida is Mitch McConnell, Dana Milbank, right, Nov. 15, 2018 (print edition). In Palm Beach, the elections supervisor said its outdated dana milbank Customequipment overheated, causing figures to not add up as it attempts to meet the recount deadline of Thursday. Equipment problems in Broward also delayed the recount.

There is deep cynicism in Republicans complaining about the lengthy recounts and, worse, suggesting fraud is the cause: They voted down funds for updated voting equipment for states. Senate Republicans on Aug. 1 blocked Sen. Patrick J. Leahy’s (D-Vt.) plan to send $250 million to states for cybersecurity and “replacing outdated election equipment.” A few weeks later, the bipartisan Secure Elections Act stalled in the Senate, in part because “we didn’t have the level of Republican support we needed."

Florida Voter Suppression?

ny times logoNew York Times, Sloppy Signatures May Disqualify Thousands of Florida Votes, Glenn Thrush, Audra D. S. Burch and Frances Robles, Nov. 15, 2018 (print edition). Ballots were rejected because voters’ signatures did not match what was on file, which Democrats argued was disenfranchisement. The issue emerged as a central point of contention in the Florida recounts and touched on constitutional questions of equal protection and free speech.

The nuns at Zina Rodriguez’s Catholic school in the Bronx thwacked her knuckles to punish sloppy handwriting, so she was shocked when her mail-in ballot in Florida was rejected because her signature did not match the one on record with elections officials.

Ms. Rodriguez, a registered Democrat, found the rejection notice in her mailbox at 7 p.m. the night before the Nov. 6 election, two hours after the deadline for appeal had passed. When she protested at the Palm Beach County Board of Elections the next morning, she learned that the culprit was a driver’s license signature, hastily squiggled on an electronic signature pad two years earlier.

“There were 13 amendments on that ballot. The only reason I chose to write in was because I wanted time to research all the questions. I was fulfilling my responsibility,” said Ms. Rodriguez, 47, a behavioral health care consultant from Lake Worth, Fla. “All of that got thrown away because I wanted to get out of the D.M.V. office as fast as I can. It is incredibly upsetting.”

The issue of faulty signatures, especially on mail-in ballots, has emerged as a central point of contention in the county-by-county recounts taking place in Florida, with lawsuits spinning off the 2018 election like tornadoes off a hurricane.

bill nelsonLawyers for Senator Bill Nelson, left, a Democrat who in his bid for re-election is running slightly behind Gov. Rick Scott, his Republican challenger, were in federal court in Tallahassee on Wednesday arguing that the ballots of traditionally Democratic voters — minorities and especially young people — were more likely to be thrown out because of signature variations than those of other voters.

At least 5,000 ballots from all voters — and perhaps twice that many — were left uncounted across Florida as a result of signature mismatches, according to various estimates from the Florida secretary of state and analysts examining the latest data. Before the recounts began over the weekend, Mr. Nelson was behind by 12,562 votes.

The signature battle touches on constitutional questions of equal protection and free speech. But it is rooted in larger societal trends that are rapidly rendering an individual’s handwriting an unreliable electoral hallmark.

Inside DC

washington post logonancy pelosi oWashington Post, Pelosi faces daunting challenge in speaker’s bid as Democratic foes stand firm, Erica Werner, Mike DeBonis and Elise Viebeck, Nov. 15, 2018 (print edition). In an electoral year marked by a record number of women joining the House, incoming female Democrats may help decide Nancy Pelosi’s fate.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, right, on Wednesday faced solid opposition from at least 17 Democrats and encountered a significant bloc of undecided women in her bid for speaker, setting the stage for an intense battle over who will ascend to one of the most powerful positions in Washington

washington post logoWashington Post, Veterans aren’t getting their GI Bill payments — because a 50-year-old computer system broke, Alex Horton​, Nov. 15, 2018. Thousands of veterans have been put under financial strain after the Department of Veterans Affairs' computer systems buckled under complex new rules.

washington post logobetsy devos oWashington Post, Betsy DeVos set to bolster rights of accused in rewrite of sexual assault rules, Laura Meckler, Nov. 15, 2018 (print edition). Controversial regulation governing campus investigations set for release in coming days.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, right, is set to release a sweeping overhaul of how colleges and universities must handle allegations of sexual assault and harassment, giving new rights to the accused, including the ability to cross-examine their accusers, people familiar with the matter said.

The proposal is set for release before Thanksgiving, possibly this week, and replaces less formal guidance issued by the Obama administration in 2011. The new rules would reduce liability for universities, tighten the definition of sexual harassment, and allow schools to use a higher standard in evaluating claims of sexual harassment and assault.

UK Brexit Crisis

washington post logoWashington Post, Brexit secretary, other ministers resign in a stinging setback for Theresa May, William Booth and Karla Adam​, Nov. 15, 2018. Dominic Raab, the minister in charge of helping Britain leave the European Union, said he could not support a withdrawal agreement just approved by Prime Minister May’s Cabinet. Two other ministers and a junior minister also quit their posts.

United Kingdom flagThe minister in charge of helping Britain leave the European Union, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, abruptly resigned from Prime Minister Theresa May’s government on Thursday morning, saying he could not support the withdrawal agreement approved by her cabinet the night before.

It was a stinging setback for May. Also quitting their posts were two other ministers and a junior minister in the Brexit ministry. The rapid-fire resignations sent shudders through London and E.U. headquarters in Brussels, raising the possibility that May does not have the support she needs to pursue her deal for a softer, slower-moving Brexit, a plan loaded with compromises that few in Britain like.

Crime, Courts: Child Murder?

washington post logoWashington Post, A man drove his severely autistic kids off a pier to their death. Prosecutors say he did it for the insurance money, Meagan Flynn, Nov. 15, 2018. It was April 9, 2015 and Ali Elmezayen was at the wheel. His two autistic children, ages 8 and 13, were strapped in tight in the back seat, and their mother was in the passenger’s seat — screaming for Elmezayen to hit the brakes.

But federal prosecutors said on Tuesday that Elmezayen knew exactly what he was doing that April night: They say he drove off the bridge on purpose to kill his family, and that it was all part of a scheme to collect on the millions of dollars in seven life insurance policies he had taken out on their lives. It was a plan he had been plotting for more than two years, according to prosecutors.

washington post logoWashington Post, Michael Avenatti speaks out after his arrest on suspicion of domestic violence, Elise Viebeck and Eli Rosenberg, Nov. 15, 2018. The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed the arrest of Avenatti, a Democratic lawyer whose public profile exploded this year when he sued President Trump on behalf of adult-film star Stormy Daniels. In a statement, Avenatti called the allegations “completely bogus.”

California Wildfires

california wildfire washington post

washington post logoWashington Post, California’s deadliest wildfire is also a massive air quality problem, Ben Guarino, Zara Stone and Sawsan Morrar, Nov. 15, 2018. Children, the elderly and people who spend significant time outside are particularly at risk for breathing complications.

Nov. 14

TrumpWorld

washington post logoDonald TrumpWashington Post, Five days of fury: Inside Trump’s bad Paris temper, election woes and staff upheaval, Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker, Nov. 14, 2018 (print edition). President Trump’s testy call with British Prime Minister Theresa May while en route to Paris set the tone for turbulence in the French capital and more presidential anger over the recent elections and media coverage of Trump's decision to skip a ceremony honoring the military sacrifice of World War I, officials said.

washington post logoWashington Post, President refuses to acknowledge the fraught history of nationalism, Anne Gearan, Nov. 14, 2018 (print edition). President Trump has tried to define his brand of nationalism as a form of patriotism devoid of the darker aspects his critics warn the term conjures.

Protecting Special Counsel

washington post logoWashington Post, Flake refuses to vote for Trump’s judicial nominees until the Senate acts on bill to protect Mueller, Karoun Demirjian, Nov. 14, 2018. The move could complicate Republicans’ hope of confirming dozens of conservative judges this year.

Flake’s warning will likely force Republicans — who hold 51 seats in the Senate — to rely on Vice President Pence to confirm any of the 32 judicial nominees pending before the full Senate, as Democrats have little incentive to support those who Flake has committed to oppose. Flake issued his threat after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked Flake and Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) from holding a vote on the bill, which would give any fired special counsel the ability to swiftly challenge their termination before a panel of three federal judges.

washington post logoWashington Post, Whitaker’s unusual path to Justice Department included owning day-care center, trailer maker and concrete supplier, Robert O'Harrow Jr., Nov. 14, 2018.  Whitaker stands in vivid contrast to his predecessors, whose résumés typically boast judgeships, partnerships at prestigious firms and senior roles in the Justice Department. Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, faced down her hard-line critics on Wednesday and won the support of a jittery cabinet for a plan to quit the European Union, keeping on track her push to avert an economically damaging rupture with the bloc in March.

ny times logomatthew whitaker headshot recentNew York Times, Justice Dept. Defends Legality of Trump’s Appointment of Acting Attorney General, Charlie Savage, Nov. 14, 2018. The Justice Department pushed back on Wednesday against accusations that President Trump’s appointment of Matthew G. Whitaker as acting attorney general was illegal, arguing that it complied with both federal statutes and the Constitution — and that it fit within a history of similar designations dating back to the earliest days of the country.

The Trump administration made its case in a 20-page memorandum by Steven E. Engel, the head of the department’s Office of Legal Counsel. It came a day after the State of Maryland asked a Federal District Court judge to issue an injunction declaring that when Mr. Trump ousted former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the role of acting head of the department passed instead to the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, as a matter of law.

matthew whitaker weightlifting twitter

Acting U.S. Attorney Gen. Matthew Whitaker, a former college football player, features this photo across the top of his Twitter page.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Matthew Whitaker is steeped in time travel and Bigfoot. He’s the right man for the job, Dana Milbank, right, Nov. 14, 2018 (print edition). In addition to dana milbank Customhis exotic legal views and his lack of relevant experience, Matthew G. Whitaker was already known to have hawked hot-tub seats for a business that shut down this year after reaching a $26 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission for defrauding customers. But that’s just the beginning of the crackpottery.

During the current U.S. attorney general’s time on the company’s advisory board, from 2014 onward, World Patent Marketing:

● Claimed that “DNA evidence collected in 2013 proves that Bigfoot does exist,” had a website selling Bigfoot paraphernalia and planned a celebrity event called “You Have Been Squatched!”

● Asserted that “time travel” could be “possible, perhaps within the next decade” and tried to raise money using bitcoin for time-travel research by one of Whitaker’s fellow board members. The company suggested users might “relive moments from your past” or “visit your future.”

● Announced, in the same media release heralding Whitaker’s appointment to the board, a patent application for an extra-deep “masculine toilet” for the well-endowed. Specifying the size of “average male genitalia,” the release said “this invention is designed for those of us who measure longer than that.”

Israeli Cabinet Crisis

benjamin netanyahu frownDaily Beast, Israel’s Government Is Collapsing After Accidental Gaza War and Embarrassing Truce, Noga Tarnopolsky, Nov. 14, 2018. In a surprise move, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has resigned, thrusting the Israeli government into uncertain territory.

Lieberman kept his intentions close to his chest, surprising everyone from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, to members of his own political party, who now find themselves in the parliamentary opposition.

Lieberman announced his departure from the coalition in a punchy press conference in which he accused Netanyahu of “capitulating to Hamas terror” with the truce that halted fire on the Israel-Gaza border yesterday after two days of battle. He called on Netanyahu to advance the elections that are currently scheduled for November 2019.

AMD, Israel’s Immigration Minister resigns shortly after Lieberman, Staff report, Nov. 14, 2018. Israeli Minister of Immigration and Absorption Sofa Landver, a member of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, has announced her resignation following the decision of the party leader and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to resign. Landver headed the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption for over nine years. The resignation of Lieberman reduced the ruling coalition to 61 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.

Brexit Advances In UK

ny times logoUnited Kingdom flagNew York Times, U.K. Cabinet Backs Theresa May’s Brexit Plan, Stephen Castle, Nov. 14, 2018. Prime Minister Theresa May won approval of her Brexit plan from her cabinet. Now, she faces the far more difficult challenge of winning over Britain’s Parliament.

Hate Crimes

washington post logoWashington Post, Authorities arrest avowed white nationalist in D.C. who ‘fantasized about killing “Jews and blacks,” Spencer S. Hsu and Peter Hermann, Nov. 14, 2018 (print edition). A D.C. man who described himself as a white nationalist to law enforcement officers and became a social-media follower of the suspect in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting has been arrested on a gun charge after his worried relatives contacted the authorities, according to federal court filings.

Jeffrey R. Clark Jr., 30, is charged with illegally possessing a firearm and a high-capacity magazine and made his initial court appearance Tuesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Washington.

jack posobiec jeffrey clark edward clark source photo

Alleged Neo-Nazi Jeffrey Clark, center with camera, and his late brother Edward follow far-right “Pizzagate” propagandist Jack Posobiec (HuffPost source photo)

Huffpost, DC Neo-Nazi Who Called Pittsburgh Murders A ‘Dry Run’ Arrested; Has Deep Ties To ‘Alt Right,’ Jessica Schulberg, Nick Baumann, Ryan J. Reilly, Travis Waldron, and Luke huff post logoO’Brien, Nov. 13, 2018. Jeffrey Clark, the 30-year-old man federal agents arrested here Friday after he called the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting a “dry run” and his relatives worried he might try to launch a race war, wasn’t shy about being a neo-Nazi.

richard spencer CustomIn April 2017, when someone asked Clark at a White House rally organized by “alt-right” coiner Richard Spencer whether he considered himself a fascist, he said no ― he considered himself a Nazi. Antifa activists photographed him at the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017. He has posed for pictures in front of Nazi symbols and holding Nazi memorabilia.

On Gab, the favored social network of racists and anti-Semites, Clark had the username @PureWhitEvil and called himself “DC Bowl Gang,” a reference to Dylann Roof, the bowl-cut racist who murdered nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.

It wasn’t until November, after Clark’s own family contacted law enforcement, that the FBI finally found the allegedly illegal weapons that have him facing gun charges.

Court documents, as well as photos and videos obtained by HuffPost, suggest Clark’s late brother, Edward Clark, shared a similar ideology. That both men were able to spew neo-Nazi rhetoric, amass an arsenal of weapons, and openly threaten journalists and critics for months without consequence shows just how much freedom far-right extremists have to operate in the U.S. — and how far their behavior has to escalate before law enforcement takes it seriously.

Clark lived in a rowhouse in Bloomingdale with his father, sister and younger brother Edward William “Teddy” Clark, who killed himself on Washington’s Theodore Roosevelt Island on Oct. 27, the day of the Tree of Life shooting.

In May 2017, the Clark brothers teamed up with far-right “Pizzagate” propagandist Jack Posobiec, who was then the D.C. bureau chief for the far-right website Rebel Media, to shoot footage for a film Posobiec was working on about Seth Rich, the Democratic National Committee staffer whose murder near the Clarks’ home in Bloomingdale has spawned numerous far-right conspiracy theories.

washington post logoWashington Post Magazine, The state of hate: Who should get to measure it? David Montgomery, Nov. 14, 2018 electronic front page. Researchers at the Southern Poverty Law Center have set themselves up as the ultimate judges of hate in America. But are they judging fairly?

Crime, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump endorses bipartisan criminal-justice reform bill, Seung Min Kim​, Nov. 14, 2018. The new Senate package includes language that lowers mandatory minimum sentences for drug felonies, including reducing the "three-strike" penalty from life behind bars to 25 years.

washington post logoWashington Post, Michael Avenatti arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, Elise Viebeck and Eli Rosenberg​, Nov. 14, 2018. The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed the arrest of Avenatti, a Democratic lawyer whose public profile exploded this year when he sued President Trump on behalf of adult-film star Stormy Daniels. Avenatti did not answer his cellphone or return messages late Wednesday. It was unclear who was involved in the alleged incident

Military Used For Caravan

washington post logoWashington Post, At the border, uncertainty about the migrant caravan and military concertina wire, Dan Lamothe and Maya Averbuch, Nov. 14, 2018. The Trump administration has dispatched more than 5,900 active-duty troops to the border to buttress U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents processing asylum claims. Federal law and Pentagon policy limits the scope of what the troops can do, though the military has said they could be asked to fly CBP officers in helicopters to less secure parts of the border if the caravan attempts to enter the country there.

The first group of migrants, meanwhile, decided last week to turn west toward Tijuana and began arriving there Tuesday. They numbered a few hundred on Wednesday. They could disperse into smaller groups, but other caravan groups are still farther away in Mexico and it is unclear where they will go.

U.S. Politics

washington post logokevin mccarthyWashington Post, Kevin McCarthy is caught between #MAGA and the GOP, Jacqueline Alemany, Nov. 14, 2018 (print edition). McCarthy (R-Calif.) is expected to be chosen as House minority leader. But will his close bond with President Trump be his greatest asset or put him at odds with his responsibilities to lead Republicans back from the wilderness in 2020?

Roll Call, Why So Few House Republican Leadership Races Are Contested, Lindsey McPherson, Nov. 14, 2018. Five of the seven House GOP leadership positions are solo affairs. At the top, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy is expected to easily defeat Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan for minority leader.

Jordan, a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus, has been one of the few voices calling for new Republican leadership after the party’s drubbing last week.

The middle five leadership positions are uncontested, guaranteeing the Republican Conference will elect Louisiana’s Steve Scalise as minority whip, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney as conference chairwoman, Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer as National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker as conference vice chairman and Missouri Rep. Jason Smith as conference secretary.

#MeToo, Sexual Assault, Universities

ny times logoNew York Times, For University of Minnesota, Chinese Tycoon’s Arrest Shines Light, Again, on Sexual Assault, Tiffany Hsu, Raymond Zhong and Carolyn Zhang, Nov. 14, 2018 (print edition). When the Chinese billionaire Richard Liu was arrested two months ago in Minneapolis on suspicion of rape, he wasn’t in town for business. Mr. Liu, a 45-year-old internet tycoon, was a student at the University of Minnesota, taking in lectures by day and enjoying dinner parties by night.

As prosecutors weigh whether to charge Mr. Liu, the case represents a setback for a university that has made progress on how it handles sexual misconduct. In recent years, the university has dealt with a series of sexual assault and harassment episodes involving students and faculty members, which have prompted a state audit and new campus policies. Now, the university is once again in the national conversation, and the focus this time is on a relatively new and lucrative academic program.

Mr. Liu, who has denied wrongdoing, was in Minnesota for a global business program, aimed at Asian executives, that is on track to generate over $10 million for the school in tuition since starting last year. His accuser, who has not been publicly identified, is a young Chinese student at the university who volunteered for the program.

The case “puts the university administration in an impossible situation” as it tries to simultaneously protect its students and its reputation, said Kristen Houlton Shaw, the executive director of the nonprofit Sexual Violence Center in Minneapolis.

Media Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Leading conservative lawyers criticized Mr. Trump’s attacks on the justice system and the news media, Adam Liptak, Nov. 14, 2018. The annual convention of the Federalist Society, the conservative legal group, has long been a glittering and bustling affair. In the Trump era, though, the group has become more powerful than ever, supplying intellectual energy and judicial candidates to an assertive administration eager to reshape the legal landscape.

But as the group prepares to gather on Thursday for the start of this year’s convention, more than a dozen prominent conservative lawyers have joined together to sound a note of caution. They are urging their fellow conservatives to speak up about what they say are the Trump administration’s betrayals of bedrock legal norms.

The group, called Checks and Balances, was organized by George T. Conway III, a conservative lawyer and the husband of President Trump’s counselor, Kellyanne Conway. In recent opinion articles, Mr. Conway has criticized Mr. Trump’s statements on birthright citizenship and argued that his appointment of Matthew G. Whitaker to serve as acting attorney general violated the Constitution.

The new group also includes Tom Ridge, a former governor of Pennsylvania and secretary of homeland security in the Bush administration; Peter D. Keisler, a former acting attorney general in the Bush administration; two prominent conservative law professors, Jonathan H. Adler and Orin S. Kerr; and Lori S. Meyer, a lawyer who is married to Eugene B. Meyer, the president of the Federalist Society.

Nov. 13

Challenge To Trump, DOJ

Reuters, Maryland goes to court to challenge Trump's attorney general pick, Sarah N. Lynch and Susan Heavey, Nov. 13, 2018.  The state of Maryland launched a court challenge on Tuesday to the legality of President Donald Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting U.S. attorney general, saying the president overstepped his constitutional authority and broke federal law.

matthew whitaker headshot recentTrump installed Whitaker, right, as acting attorney general last week after ordering Jeff Sessions to resign from the post. Trump had repeatedly criticized Sessions for recusing himself in March 2017 from the federal investigation, now headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election, a probe Trump has called a “witch hunt.”

Maryland asked U.S. District Judge Ellen Hollander to bar Whitaker from appearing in an official capacity as acting attorney general in existing litigation related to the Affordable Care Act healthcare law and to substitute Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in Whitaker’s place.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here comes that boatload full of House Democrat subpoenas against Donald Trump, his family, and his goons, Bill Palmer, Nov. 13, 2018. Over the weekend, Palmer Report explained that while the new Democratic House majority obviously intends to destroy and oust Donald Trump, the most effective way to do that is not to immediately jump into impeachment proceedings. Instead, the best chance of impeachment actually working is if the Democrats use their newfound subpoena power and committee hearing control to severely weaken Trump first. Sure enough, here comes the boatload of subpoenas.

Internally, House Democrats are preparing to launch a “subpoena cannon” in the direction of Donald Trump and everyone in his orbit, according to Axios. In all there are at least eighty-five different targets for these subpoenas. In our estimation, that’s enough to include Trump’s cabinet, his White House advisers, his campaign advisers, and his family.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that when the House Intelligence Committee was under Republican control, various Trump-Russia figures raced to testify before the committee, so the committee could falsely declare their innocence. The trouble for them now: their testimony is still on record, and now it’s about to fall under control of House Democrats. If any of Trump’s people lied during their testimony, look for quick criminal referrals on the part of incoming committee chairman Adam Schiff.

California Wildfires / Climate Change

california wildfire washington post

washington post logoWashington Post, For Trump, even disaster response is colored in red and blue, Matt Viser and Seung Min Kim, Nov. 13, 2018. California has been a leader in the resistance to President Trump, and his disdain for it has been evident during repeated bouts of wildfires and other difficulties.

ny times logoNew York Times, More Than 200 Missing in California’s Deadliest Wildfire, Thomas Fuller, Nov. 13, 2018. Search teams were heading back into the devastated town of Paradise with the grim expectation of finding more bodies. The Camp Fire, the deadliest in California history with 42 dead, and the Woolsey Fire, which killed two, were both only about 30 percent contained.

washington post logoWashington Post, California wildfire becomes state’s deadliest, turns retirees’ haven into a living hell, Scott Wilson, Nov. 13, 2018. The death toll from the Camp Fire in Northern California rose to 44 with the discovery of 13 more bodies, including 10 in Paradise.

Trump To Fire Homeland Secretary?

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump is preparing to remove Kirstjen Nielsen as Homeland Security secretary, aides say, Nick Miroff, Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker, Nov. 12, kirstjen nielsen o2018. The president is believed to be looking for a replacement who will implement his immigration policy ideas with more alacrity.

President Trump has told advisers he has decided to remove Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, right, and her departure from the administration is likely to occur in the coming weeks, if not sooner, according to five current and former White House officials.

us dhs big eagle logo4Trump canceled a planned trip with Nielsen this week to visit U.S. troops at the border in South Texas and told aides over the weekend that he wants her out as soon as possible, these officials said. The president has grumbled for months about what he views as Nielsen’s lackluster performance on immigration enforcement and is believed to be looking for a replacement who will implement his policy ideas with more alacrity.

Nielsen’s departure would leave a leadership void at the government’s third-largest agency, which has 240,000 employees and a $60 billion budget. The deputy secretary job at DHS has been vacant since April, and the White House has not submitted to Congress a nomination for that post.

Trump Firings?

nbc news logoNBC News, After clashes with first lady and others, Kelly may soon exit White House, Carol E. Lee, Kristen Welker, Hallie Jackson and Courtney Kube, Nov. 13, 2018. The White John KellyHouse Chief of Staff has had an array of disputes with officials from the NSC and the East Wing in recent months.

washington post logoWashington Post, First lady Melania Trump’s office calls for firing of White House national security official, Felicia Sonmez and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 13, 2018.  The news of the potential ouster of deputy national security adviser Mira R. Ricardel comes amid reports of tensions between Ricardel and White House officials. A National Security Council spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Saudi Dissident's Murder

ny times logomohammed bin salman al saudNew York Times, Tell Your Boss’: Recording Is Seen to Link Saudi Crown Prince to Khashoggi Killing, Julian E. Barnes, Eric Schmitt and David D. Kirkpatrick, Nov. 13, 2018 (print edition). Shortly after the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed last month at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, a member of the kill team made a call to a superior. The recording is seen by intelligence officials as some of the strongest evidence connecting the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, right, to Mr. Khashoggi’s death.

Press Freedom

washington post logojim acosta gage skidmore croppedWashington Post, CNN sues White House to regain access for reporter Jim Acosta, Paul Farhi​, Nov. 13, 2018. The unusual lawsuit comes after the president banished Acosta from the White House grounds after a testy exchange last week.

CNN sued the Trump Administration on behalf of reporter Jim Acosta (shown at right in a Gage Skidmore photo) on Tuesday, asking a court to restore Acosta’s White House press pass after President Trump suspended it last week.

The unusual lawsuit, an escalation of Trump’s longrunning war of words with CNN, seeks a judge’s intervention after Trump banished Acosta from the White House grounds for an indefinite period after a brief altercation between Acosta and a White House press aide.

cnn logoAfter a testy exchange between the president and the reporter, the unidentified press aide went up to Acosta to take a microphone out of his hands. As a result, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced a few hours later that the White House had revoked Acosta’s “hard pass,” which enables reporters to enter and leave the grounds each day.

CNN filed suit in U.S. District Court in Washington. “We have asked this court for an immediate restraining order requiring the pass be returned to Jim, and will seek permanent relief as part of this process,” the network said in a statement released Tuesday morning.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House changes its tune on why it yanked CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s press pass, Aaron Blake, Nov. 13, 2018. That the White House isn’t sticking with its initial justification when faced with legal action shows how dodgy the claim was to begin with. In a statement Tuesday morning, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders suggested that the decision was about Acosta refusing to yield the microphone while questioning the president.

But that’s different from the initial justifications offered by the White House for revoking Acosta’s press pass. Less than a week ago, it was primarily about him supposedly placing his hands on and getting too rough with an intern.

Mediaite, Bob Woodward Criticizes CNN Lawsuit Against White House: We’re Taking Trump’s ‘Bait,’ Joe DePaolo, Nov. 13, 2018. One of the preeminent figures in American journalism is coming out against the rare lawsuit filed by a news organization against the White House.

bob woodwardIn comments reported by Dylan Byers of NBC News, Bob Woodward — speaking at the Global Financial Leadership Conference in Naples, FL — came out against CNN’s White House lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday morning. The network is suing to have access restored for its chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.

But Woodward, shown in a file photo, believes CNN is just taking the “bait” being dangled by President Donald Trump. “This is a negative,” Woodward said. He added, “Trump is sitting around saying, ‘This is great.’ …When we engage in [Trump’s strategy] we’re taking his bait.”

The longtime Washington Post journalist added, “The remedy [isn’t a lawsuit], it’s more serious reporting about what he’s doing.”

Inside Trump World

washington post logoWashington Post, In a morning tweetstorm, Trump takes repeated aim at France’s Macron, John Wagner and James McAuley, Nov. 13, 2018.  President Trump lashed out at French President Emmanuel Macron's approval rating, his country’s employment rate, its trade policies on wine and his vision for the military.

emmanuel macronPresident Trump unleashed verbal attacks Tuesday on French President Emmanuel Macron, right, taking aim at his approval rating, his country’s employment rate, its trade policies on wine and his vision for the military.

The broadside on Twitter escalated a spat that began Friday when Trump took umbrage at Macron’s call in a radio interview for a “true European army” so that the continent can defend itself without relying on the United States.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Donald Trump knows the true meaning of sacrifice, Dana Milbank, right, Nov. 13, 2018. On Veterans Day, Americans recall the sacrifices of dana milbank Customthose who served our country.

We think of the bayonet charge of Maine’s 20th Regiment on Little Round Top, the young men battling through rain and poison gas in the Argonne, the soldiers in the frozen Ardennes Forest in the Battle of the Bulge.

djt handwave fileAnd we think of President Trump [shown in a file photo], battling rain for not one but two days in France this weekend. On Saturday, the White House, citing “logistical difficulties caused by the weather,” canceled Trump’s trip to a memorial at Belleau, where 2,000 U.S. Marines died a century ago. It was raining — and Trump opted to remain at the U.S. ambassador’s residence, watching TV and tweeting.

The next day, when other world leaders marched down the Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe for the centenary of the Armistice ending World War I, Trump instead took his motorcade. The reason this time: security. Once again, it was raining, and Trump stayed dry in his armored limousine.

These were brave decisions, because they meant Trump would have to endure the hurtful images of other world leaders visiting other memorials around France despite the rain, then marching in soggy solidarity without him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Park Service nominee will be grilled on whether protesters should pay for security costs, Marissa J. Lang, Nov. 13, 2018. The Park Service has proposed changes to how the agency facilitates protests in the District — including a query on whether the agency should consider charging organizers for the costs of large-scale demonstrations — and several senators have raised objections to the change.

epa general logoAl.com, Trump’s southeast regional EPA administrator indicted on Alabama ethics charges, Kyle Whitmire, A Jefferson County grand jury has indicted the Southeast regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and a former Alabama Environmental Management Commissioner for violating state ethics laws.

Charges include multiple violations of Alabama’s Ethics Act, including soliciting a thing of value from a principal, lobbyist or subordinate, and receiving money in addition that received in one’s official capacity, according to the Alabama Ethics Commission.

Before being appointed by President Donald Trump to serve as the Region 4 administrator of the EPA, Trey Glenn worked closely with the Birmingham-based law firm Balch & Bingham and one of its clients, Drummond Co., to fight EPA efforts to test and clean up neighborhoods in north Birmingham and Tarrant.

President Donald Trump appointed Glenn lead EPA’s Region 4 in August 2017, after incidents covered in the indictment. That region includes Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.

After he was appointed to the EPA position, Glenn reported income from numerous public and private entities, including the BCA, City of Birmingham, Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority, Matrix LLC, Blue Ridge Partners, Strada and Big Sky Environmental.

Big Sky Environmental made headlines this year after it accepted human feces from New York for disposal at its Adamsville landfill. A train that delivered that refuse stunk up the surrounding community and after national news coverage became known as the “poop train.”

More on U.S. Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, A Week After the Election, Democratic Gains Grow Stronger, Alexander Burns, Nov. 13, 2018. What seemed like a mixed result for Republicans has turned more kyrsten sinema ogrim as Democrats continue to pick up seats in the House and statewide gains come into focus.

Democratic losses in the Senate look less serious than they did a week ago, after Kyrsten Sinema, right, was declared the winner in Arizona on Monday.

The underlying shifts in the electorate suggest President Trump may have to walk a precarious path to re-election in 2020, as several Midwestern states he won in 2016 threaten to slip away, and once-red states in the Southwest turn a purpler hue. The president’s strategy of sowing racial division and stoking alarm about immigration failed to lift his party, and Democratic messaging about health care undercut the benefit Republicans hoped to gain from a strong economy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge delays certification of Georgia results, citing concerns over provisional ballots, Vanessa Williams, Nov. 13, 2018. The court said that Georgia's secretary of state must first try to contact voters and allow them to address problems that might prevent their provisional ballots from being counted.

ny times logomark sanford oNew York Times, Opinion: A Wake-Up Call for the G.O.P., Mark Sanford, Nov. 13, 2018 (print edition). Mr. Sanford, right, is a Republican representative from South Carolina. My South Carolina district hadn’t voted for a Democrat in 40 years. What happened?

In June, after winning three straight elections to the House of Representatives from South Carolina, I lost my primary race to Katie Arrington, who in turn lost last week’s general election to Joe Cunningham, a Democrat. After the general election, Ms. Arrington immediately blamed me for her loss because I did not endorse her.

While it’s human nature to blame someone, what happened here is far bigger than any postelection spin, given that it has been more than 40 years since a Democrat has held this seat, which runs along South Carolina’s coast and leans Republican by 10 points. In fact, there was not a more conservative district in the country to flip to the Democrats.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: Truth and Virtue in the Age of Trump, Paul Krugman, right, Nov. 12, 2018. You’re a hero if and only if you serve The Leader’s interests.

What with the midterm elections — and the baseless Republican cries of voting fraud — I don’t know how many people heard about Trump’s decision to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Miriam Adelson, wife of casino owner and Trump megadonor Sheldon Adelson. The medal is normally an acknowledgment of extraordinary achievement or public service; on rare occasions this includes philanthropy. But does anyone think the Adelsons’ charitable activities were responsible for this honor?

Now, this may seem like a trivial story. But it’s a reminder that the Trumpian attitude toward truth — which is that it’s defined by what benefits Trump and his friends, not by verifiable facts — also applies to virtue. There is no heroism, there are no good works, except those that serve Trump.

In Trumpworld, which is now indistinguishable from G.O.P.world, good and bad are defined solely by whether the interests of The Leader are served. Thus, Trump attacks and insults our closest allies while praising brutal dictators who flatter him (and declares neo-Nazis “very fine people”).

washington post logoWashington Post, Should 16-year-olds be able to vote for president in the nation’s capital? Fenit Nirappil, Nov. 13, 2018. The D.C. Council is poised to give preliminary approval to a bill allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to vote.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: How to lose in 2020 if you are a Republican, Jennifer Rubin, Nov. 13, 2018. Over the weekend, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) who heads the National Republican Senate Committee, joined President Trump and Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) in fanning conspiracy theories — baseless and irresponsible theories, that is — about possible vote stealing in Florida. Republicans cling to Trump and curry favor with the White House at their own risk. If they want to win independents’ and moderates’ voters support, they better stop acting like Trump lap dogs.

mike espy cindy hyde smith jackson free press

Republican incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democratic challenger Mike Espy (shown above) are headed for a runoff on November 27. Here's why Espy has a better chance than you might guess.

GQ, How a Democrat Could Swipe a Senate Seat in Deep-Red Mississippi, Jay Willis, Nov. 13, 2018.Mississippi's Cindy Hyde-Smith, appointed by the governor in March to replacing the retiring Thad Cochran, failed on Election Day to earn the majority necessary to win the special election for the right to serve out the remainder of Cochran's term, which expires in 2021. Thus, the top two vote-getters — Hyde-Smith, a Republican who took home 41.5 percent of the vote, and Democrat Mike Espy, a black former congressman, who finished just behind her at 40.6 percent — will head to a runoff on November 27.

All this means is that right now is not a great time for Cindy Hyde-Smith to do this: "If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row"- Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith says in Tupelo, MS after Colin Hutchinson, cattle rancher, praises her.

Hyde-Smith is not talking about Espy here. But even so, at best, her comments are a profoundly ill-advised attempt at folksy humor in the state that was the nation's lynching capital between the end of the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement.

U.S. Economy / Jobs

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Tax Cut Was Supposed to Change Corporate Behavior. Here’s What Happened, Jim Tankersley and Matt Phillips, Nov. 13, 2018 (print edition). Nearly a year after the tax cut, economic growth has accelerated. Wage growth has not. Companies are buying back stock and business investment is a mixed bag.

The $1.5 trillion tax overhaul that President Trump signed into law late last year has already given the American economy a jolt, at least temporarily. It has fattened the paychecks of most American workers, padded the profits of large corporations and sped economic growth. Ten months after the law took effect, that promised “supply-side” bump is harder to find than the sugar-high stimulus. It’s still early, but here’s what the numbers tell us so far.

washington post logoamazon logo smallWashington Post, Amazon makes it official, selects Northern Va., NYC for new outposts, Jonathan O'Connell, Robert McCartney and Patricia Sullivan​, Nov. 13, 2018. The company will split its much-sought investment of up to 50,000 jobs between sites in Crystal City in Arlington County, Va., and New York City. Amazon also said it has selected Nashville for a new center for its operations business.

ny times logoNew York Times, Offering $2 Billion in Incentives, Did New York and Virginia Overpay for Amazon? Ben Casselman, Nov. 13, 2018. The states offered tax credits, rebates and other incentives to lure the online retail giant and 25,000 jobs. Neighboring states offered even more.

washington post logoWashington Post, Property owners are delighted Amazon is coming to the region. Renters, first-time buyers and low-income residents aren’t, Tracy Jan and Kathy Orton, Nov. 13, 2018.  An influx of highly paid tech workers could exacerbate inequality in the D.C. region, housing advocates and others warn.

Famine Disaster

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: To rescue Yemen, the U.S. must end all military support of the Saudi coalition, Editorial Board, Nov. 13, 2018. If the Trump administration will not get tough on Saudi Arabia, Congress should act in its place.

Brexit Draft Goes To UK Cabinet

ny times logoNew York Times, Britain and E.U. Agree on a Plan for Brexit, Stephen Castle, Nov. 13, 2018. The draft agreement opened the way for a high-stakes meeting of Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet.

United Kingdom flagBritish and European Union officials reached a long-awaited draft agreement on Tuesday on Britain’s troubled withdrawal from the bloc, opening the way for a high-stakes meeting of Prime Minister Theresa May’s most senior ministers to consider the plans, the prime minister’s office said.

Cabinet ministers will have a chance to review the draft text before a critical meeting of the full cabinet at 2 p.m. Wednesday, the prime minister’s office said.

After months of deadlock over the terms of Britain’s exit from the bloc, the presentation of the draft agreement is a moment of truth for Mrs. May, who is desperate to avoid a chaotic and disorderly “no-deal” Brexit. But she cannot be assured of support from hard-line Brexiteers in her cabinet, whom she may need to face down.

Nov. 12

California Wildfire

San Diego Union, California wildfires: New records set by 2018 fires, Luis Gomez, Nov. 12, 2018. It had only been nearly a year since the Thomas Fire was declared the largest wildfire recorded in California, but the fires burning in early November are already setting new records. The death toll was reported as 42 Monday night.

Three major wildfires in California continued to burn Monday with catastrophic results — 29 dead in Paradise where more than 6,000 homes have burned, thousands more threatened by two more blazes in Southern California, and as many as 210,603 acres burned collectively.

The Camp Fire, the largest and most destructive of all, was only 25 percent contained, San Francisco Chronicle reporter Lizzie Johnson said in a tweet Monday.

Whitaker Job, Mueller Probe

ny times logoNew York Times, Top Democrats Vow to Block Matthew Whitaker From Interfering in Russia Inquiry, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Nov. 12, 2018 (print edition). Newly empowered House Democrats threatened to subpoena the acting attorney general and take other measures as they push for his recusal from the investigation.

jerrold nadler o SmallThe incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, right, vowed to make Mr. Whitaker the panel’s first witness when the new Congress convenes in January — and subpoena him if necessary. The incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, said Democrats would investigate Mr. Whitaker, a Trump loyalist who has repeatedly and explicitly criticized the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race.

democratic donkey logo“The questions we will ask him will be about his expressed hostility to the investigation, and how he can possibly supervise it when he’s expressed, when he’s come out and said the investigation is invalid,” Mr. Nadler said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

And Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, warned that if Mr. Whitaker did not step aside, Democrats would attach legislation protecting the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, to a must-pass spending bill.

CNN, Roger Stone associate Jerome Corsi says he expects to be indicted by Mueller, Evan Perez with host Wolf Blitzer, Nov. 12, 2018 (3:30 mins.). Roger Stone associate Jerome Corsi said Monday he expects to be indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller for "giving false information to the special counsel or to one of the other grand jury." Corsi made the comment during his streaming show on YouTube.

jerome corsi"And now I fully anticipate that the next few days, I will be indicted by Mueller for some form or other of giving false information to the special counsel or to one of the other grand jury or however they want to do the indictment. But I'm going to be criminally charged," Corsi said Monday.

Corsi, right, could face any number of charges -- spanning from perjury to making false claims to obstruction of justice. The potential charges are related to false statements he made about his relationship with WikiLeaks and Stone.

Corsi's role in the investigation largely revolves around the possibility that he was an intermediary between Stone and WikiLeaks. Stone denies that he ever told Trump about WikiLeaks' dumps before they became public. He also denies colluding with Russia.

Doctors Fight Gun Lobby

washington post logoWashington Post, "Being silenced is not acceptable: Doctors express outrage after NRA tells them ‘to stay in their lane,’ Frances Stead Sellers, Nov. 12, 2018 (print edition). At first, Judy Melinek didn’t know how to respond when she learned about a National Rifle Association tweet last week telling doctors who dared enter the gun debate “to stay in their lane.”

nra logo CustomBut two days later, when the West Coast forensic pathologist was on her way to the morgue to examine the body of one of the country’s many forgotten gunshot victims, the words came to her.

“Do you have any idea how many bullets I pull out of corpses weekly? This isn’t just my lane,” she tweeted Friday. “It’s my [expletive] highway.”

Joseph Sakran, a trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore who suffers from a paralyzed vocal cord after taking a stray bullet in the neck almost 25 years ago, refused to stay silent as the country’s latest mass shooting hit the news.

“I have Two Words for you Hell No! #Hell No for #ThousandOaks #Hell No for all black men that die & no one hears about it. #Hell No for all those that we still may be able to save,” Sakran wrote.

Melinek and Sakran are among countless medical professionals who have taken to Twitter in the past few days to fire back at the NRA — creating a viral response that has ricocheted around the Internet under the hashtags #thisisourlane and #thisismylane.

countless medical professionals who have taken to Twitter in the past few days to fire back at the NRA — creating a viral response that has ricocheted around the Internet under the hashtags #thisisourlane and #thisismylane.

They have taken a debate that has churned for decades among powerful political gun lobbies and in academic journals and relaunched it in the unfiltered Twittersphere. And they have accompanied their indignant messages with photographs of feet sliding on red-splattered floors, of swabs and scrubs drenched in blood, and occasionally of unidentifiable and misshapen torsos heaped on gurneys.

U.S. Elections

kyrsten sinema oRoll Call, Kyrsten Sinema Becomes First Female Senator Elected From Arizona, Bridget Bowman, Nov. 12, 2018. She’s also the first Democrat to win an Arizona Senate election in 30 years.

Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, right, has made history by becoming the first woman elected to represent Arizona in the Senate. She defeated Republican Rep. Martha McSally after several days of ballot counting. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Sinema led McSally 50 percent to 48 percent when The Associated Press called the race six days after Election Day.

Sinema’s victory also marks the first time in 30 years that a Democrat has won a Senate seat in Arizona. Sinema’s historic win could appear surprising in a state where women had early success running for statewide office. But long-serving male senators kept Senate seats elusive, until the two women faced off this year to replace retiring GOP Sen. Jeff Flake.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump calls for halting recounts in Florida races, handing victories to fellow Republicans, Sean Sullivan, Beth Reinhard and John Wagner, Nov. 12, 2018. The president alleged without evidence that many ballots were missing and forged and that a valid tally was no longer possible in the races for governor and U.S. Senate. Florida officials say they have found no evidence of criminal conduct.

President Donald Trump officialPresident Trump on Monday called for halting the just-launched recounts in the Florida races for Senate and governor, alleging without evidence that many ballots were missing and forged and that a valid tally was no longer possible.

In a morning tweet, Trump suggested the results from the night of the election should stand, handing victories to fellow Republicans Rick Scott in the Senate race and Ron DeSantis in the gubernatorial race.

“The Florida Election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged,” Trump said in a tweet that misstated what Florida officials have concluded. “An honest vote count is no longer possible-ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night!”

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats signal aggressive scrutiny of Trump, resist impeachment calls, Felicia Sonmez and Colby Itkowitz, Nov. 12, 2018. Fresh off a resounding midterm elections victory, House Democrats on Sunday began detailing plans to wield their newfound oversight power in the next Congress, setting their sights on acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker while rebuffing calls from some liberals to pursue impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Democrats Can’t Play It Safe. They Need Inspiring Candidates, Steve Phillips, Nov. 12, 2018. Learning the right lessons from the 2018 midterms is key for the party as it looks ahead to the 2020 elections. Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams, progressive African-American Democratic candidates, may not have won their races for governor in Florida and Georgia (both are still too close to call). But the strategy they followed is still the best strategy for Democrats to win: inspiring, mobilizing and turning out voters of color and progressive whites.

democratic donkey logoConventional wisdom dictated that both Mr. Gillum and Ms. Abrams did not give Democrats their best chance; more traditional, moderate white candidates were seen as the most competitive.

claire mccaskill 113th oMidterm results laid bare the fallacy of that view. In Missouri, Claire McCaskill, the incumbent Democratic senator, lost to Josh Hawley by six percentage points, 45.5 percent to 51.5 percent. Senator McCaskill, right, campaigned by highlighting her moderate credentials and ran a radio ad distancing herself from her party: “Claire’s not one of those crazy Democrats,” a narrator said. “She works right in the middle and finds compromise.”

In Tennessee, Phil Bredesen, the state’s former governor, lost his bid for the Senate by over 10 points despite his attempt to peel off Trump supporters by coming out in support of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.

cindy hyde smith gov phil bryant 11 12 2018 twitter

Mississipppi Gov. Phil Bryant and Sen. Cind Hyde-Smith at an anti-abortion event on Nov. 12 (Twitter photo via Jackson Free Press).

Jackson Free Press, Governor Calls Abortion ‘Black Genocide,’ Amber Helsel, Ashton Pittman, Donna Ladd, Nov. 12, 2018. Defends Hyde-Smith on ‘Hanging’ Tape. Gov. Phil Bryant led a press conference about Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith’s anti-abortion position today by railing against the supposed “black genocide” by African American women choosing to have the procedure.

As state and national controversy swirls around U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith’s comment about a “public hanging” in her race against an African American opponent, Gov. Phil Bryant opened a press conference this morning implying that black women are participating in “the genocide of 20 million African American children” through legal abortions.

“See, in my heart, I am confused about where the outrage is at about 20 million African American children that have been aborted. No one wants to say anything about that. No one wants to talk about that,” Bryant said, with Hyde-Smith and National Right to Life President Carol Tobias standing nearby.

Bryant’s use of the abortion-as-genocide conspiracy theory about a woman’s right to choose a legal abortion, a trope popular with white conservatives, comes amid a state and national outcry after it went viral Sunday that Hyde-Smith had made a comment about “public hangings” at a campaign stop in Tupelo. She is in a run-off to keep her U.S. Senate set on Tuesday, Nov. 27, against former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy, who would become Mississippi’s first African American senator since Reconstruction, should he win the race.

Anti-abortion activists, white and black, often point to black women choosing abortion as a form of “genocide” of African Americans. “Look at African Americans,” Bryant said Monday morning. “According to Wikipedia, had those (black) children not been aborted, the African American population would be 48 percent larger in America. Forty-eight percent larger. We can play with those numbers, and we can look at statistics, but the cold, grim truth is, children are being murdered.” (At press time, we had not located the Wikipedia page Bryant referred to.)

The “black genocide” charge draws heavy criticism from African American women who work to increase better health and reproductive care for Mississippi mothers.
How Personhood Failed in Mississippi

#MeToo Terror At Border

ny times logoNew York Times, They Were Stopped at the Texas Border. Their Nightmare Had Only Just Begun, Manny Fernandez with photographs and video by Caitlin O’Hara, Nov. 12, 2018. After crossing the Rio Grande, three immigrant women were picked up by a Border Patrol agent. Their relief soon turned to terror.

Pressures On Trumpwashington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Trump is cracking, Jennifer Rubin, right, Nov. 12, 2018. President Trump is back in the United States — and back to attacking democracy.

The press and the country at large should keep in mind that Trump acts out when he is weak, humiliated and cornered. He’s all those things right now:

• His performance in Europe was panned.• The election results get worse for Republicans with each passing day.• His great North Korea diplomacy, contrary to the gullible pundits and political spinners, was a bust. (He was snookered.)• We now have two major Middle East problems — Iran and out-of-control Sunni despots who think (not unreasonably) they can lead him around by the nose.• He is not winning the trade war, and it may be one of many factors leading to an economic pullback before the 2020 election.• Mueller plows ahead, with possibly more indictments (e.g., Roger Stone, Donald Trump Jr.). • Obamacare is here to stay. It’s more popular than ever, and red America has fallen in love with Medicaid expansion.• Trump’s finances are no longer protected from scrutiny, nor are his daughter and son-in-law’s.

Vatican Stops U.S. Sex Abuse Probe

washington post logopope francis 2013 SmallWashington Post, Vatican blocks plan by American Catholic leaders to confront sexual abuse, Julie Zauzmer and Michelle Boorstein, Nov. 12, 2018. In a surprising directive, the Vatican asked that America’s bishops halt their effort to hold bishops more responsible in abuse cases that have scourged the church. Pope Francis  is shown at right.

School Hitler Salute?

washington post logoWashington Post, Apparent Nazi salute at prom investigated by Wisconsin school district, Laura Meckler and Deanna Paul, Nov. 12, 2018. A large group of boys at a rural Wisconsin high school prom was photographed displaying what appears to be the Nazi salute, prompting international outrage and a local investigation.

In the photo, more than 50 boys from Baraboo, Wis., pose on outdoor steps. The vast majority are shown hoisting their right arms stiff and straight into the air, fingers pointed out, as Nazis did in Adolf Hitler’s Germany. One boy in the front row has his arms down but his right hand is forming the okay sign, a symbol adopted by the white power movement.

Israeli-Gaza Escalations

washington post logoWashington Post, Israel bombs more than 70 Gaza targets, including Hamas TV station, as 300 rockets are fired into Israel, Ruth Eglash, Hazem Balousha and Loveday Morris​, Nov. 12, 2018. A new round of hostilities triggered by a botched Israeli covert operation into the Gaza Strip pushed the territory’s fragile security situation to the brink on Monday, as Palestinian militants launched hundreds of rockets toward Israel and Israeli jets carried out bombing raids.

Israel’s military said it had rushed extra infantry troops and air defenses to the boundary with Gaza as at least 300 projectiles were launched toward Israeli territory in less than three hours into Monday evening. At least two projectiles hit houses, while an antitank missile hit a bus transporting soldiers near the border, the military said, critically injuring a 19-year-old soldier.

The military said it had targeted the TV station for “providing operational messaging to militants” as a barrage of rockets from Gaza showed no sign of slowing. Palestinian factions vowed revenge after a botched Israeli covert operation. ·​

Global News: N. Korea

ny times logonorth korea flagNew York Times, Missile Bases in North Korea Suggest a Great Deception, David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, Nov. 12, 2018. President Trump says the nuclear threat from North Korea is over. New satellite images of 16 hidden ballistic missile bases suggest that it has worsened since his summit meeting.

Crisis For Defrauded U.S. Students

ny times logoNew York Times, Borrowers Face Hazy Path as Program to Forgive Student Loans Stalls Under Betsy DeVos, Stacy Cowley, Nov. 11, 2018.  The students attended institutions with pragmatic names like the Minnesota School of Business and others whose branding evoked ivy-draped buildings and leafy quads, like Corinthian Colleges. Tens of thousands of them say they are alike in one respect: They were victims of fraud, left with useless degrees and crushing debts.

Now the government program meant to forgive the federal loans of cheated students has all but stopped functioning.

No Education Department employees are devoted full time to investigating borrowers’ complaints, according to three people familiar with the agency’s operations. Instead, the agency’s staff has fought in court to reduce the amount of relief granted to some students and to halt a rule change intended to speed other claims along.

U.S. Politics: 2020 Electionrichard ojeda screengrab

CNN, Richard Ojeda launches presidential bid after losing House race, Dan Merica, Nov. 12, 2018 (3:51 min. video). Richard Ojeda, shown above, the former congressional candidate who lost his 2018 bid as a Democrat in southern West Virginia, is running for president in 2020. "I'm Richard Ojeda and I'm running for the President of the United States of America," he announced Monday at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.

Prior to his announcement, Ojeda filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for President and teased the run in an email to supporters on Sunday night.

democratic donkey logoOjeda's entry to the race is unexpected and highlights just how massive the Democratic field for President will be in 2020. Democratic operatives believe big-name candidates will announce presidential bids in early 2019, but fully expect candidates like Ojeda and others to explore a run starting in late 2018.

richard ojeda CustomOjeda's unique candidacy -- he is a former Army paratrooper who ran on the Democratic ticket as a populist and Trump critic in Republican West Virginia -- markedly over-performed how Hillary Clinton did in the state in 2016. Trump won the state's 3rd Congressional District by 49 percentage points in 2016. Ojeda closed that gap, losing by 12 percentage points earlier this month.

But getting through a Democratic primary could be difficult: Ojeda, shown during his previous military service, voted for Trump in 2016, something that may be beyond the pale for some Democrats.
Ojeda has soured on Trump, though, and Trump called him "a total whacko" at campaign events in 2018.

At his announcement on Monday, Ojeda said, "I think I relate to the people far more than what the President can ever relate to these people. The very people he comes down to West Virginia and stands in front of could never afford one single round of golf in some of his fancy country clubs. That's not where I stand."
He continued, "I stand with the working-class citizens. I am a Democrat because I believe in what the Democratic Party is supposed to be: taking care of our working-class citizens."

Nov. 11

California Wildfirescalifornia wildfire washington post

washington post logoWashington Post, California wildfire threatens to become deadliest in state history, Joel Achenbach and Cleve R. Wootson Jr.​, Nov. 11, 2018. Already the most destructive wildfire in California history, the Camp Fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills has become the state’s third deadliest — killing 23 people in three days, with more than 100 people unaccounted for in a charred swath of land larger than Detroit.

Although the fire [portrayed above in a photo via the Washington Post] had been 25 percent contained by Sunday, high temperatures and gusty winds made the weather optimal for the Northern California fire to spread for at least another day.

As of Saturday, the Camp Fire had destroyed nearly 7,000 structures in and around the mountain town of Paradise and has been blamed for most of the last week’s fire deaths. The wildfire is the deadliest in the state since 1991. In Southern California, two people were found dead in fires burning outside Los Angeles.

Global Leaders Meet

Reuters, Russian President Vladimir Putin talked to his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump in Paris on Sunday Russian news agencies cited Putin as saying,  Maria Kiselyova, Nov. 11, 2018. Putin, who attended Armistice commemorations in the French capital, said the conversation was good, RIA reported.

washington post logoemmanuel macronWashington Post, Critics pile on after Trump cancels visit to U.S. military cemetery outside Paris, citing weather, David Nakamura, Seung Min Kim and James McAuley, Nov. 11, 2018 (print edition). French President Emmanuel Macron, right, says Europe should take on more of defense burden.

President Trump flew 3,800 miles to this French capital city for ceremonies to honor the military sacrifice in World War I, hoping to take part in the kind of powerful ode to the bravery of the armed forces that he was unable to hold in Washington.

But on his first full day here, it rained on his substitute parade weekend. Early Saturday, the White House announced Trump and the first lady had scuttled plans, due to bad weather, for their first stop in the weekend’s remembrance activities — a visit to the solemn Aisne Marne American Cemetery, marking the ferocious Battle of Belleau Wood.

It was not completely clear why the Trumps were unable to attend. The cemetery is 50 miles from Paris. Perhaps the president was planning to travel on Marine One, which is occasionally grounded by the military. But the sight of dignitaries arriving at other sites outside Paris, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, led some foreign policy analysts to speculate the U.S. commander in chief just wasn’t up for it.

“It’s incredible that a president would travel to France for this significant anniversary — and then remain in his hotel room watching TV rather than pay in person his respects to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory gained 100 years ago tomorrow,” David Frum, who served as a speechwriter to President George W. Bush, wrote in tweets. Trump is actually staying at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Paris.

So began a weekend in which Trump — battling on a number of political fronts in Washington — seemed distracted and disengaged. Trump left Washington as the list of White House worries piled up: newly empowered Democrats, criticism of his pick for acting attorney general and backlash over his personal attacks against journalists.

washington post logoWashington Post, In remembrance of World War I, Macron denounces nationalism as a ‘betrayal of patriotism,’ David Nakamura, Seung Min Kim and James McAuley​, Nov. 11, 2018. French President Emmanuel Macron's speech to more than 60 global leaders, including President Trump, aimed to draw a clear line between his belief that a global order based on liberal values is worth defending and those who have sought to disrupt that system.

U.S. Elections

democratic donkey logony times logoNew York Times, In the Campaign, Democrats Didn’t Let Trump Distract Them. That Will Be Harder Now, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Nov. 11, 2018. As Democrats prepare to assume control of the House, a central challenge will be remaining focused as they put forward their own agenda. Striking a balance between working to hold the Trump administration accountable and ignoring the president’s provocations will be imperative.

washington post logoWashington Post, Key Democrat wants to question whether Trump targeted CNN, Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Nov. 11, 2018. To the long list of investigations House Democrats have planned for next year, add a look into whether President Trump used his office to try to punish companies associated with CNN and The Washington Post.

Incoming Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) brought up the potential probe during an interview with Axios as an example of the type of oversight Democrats should be exercising.

Schiff pointed to Trump’s effort to block AT&T from purchasing Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, and his desire to get the U.S. Postal Service to increase shipping costs on Amazon, whose chief executive, Jeffrey P. Bezos, also owns The Post.

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, The Indicted and the Dead, Travis Dunn, Nov. 11, 2018. Once-Toxic Officials Elected Thanks to Partisanship. The indicted and the dead have been elected chris collins cropped obefore, and likely will be again. This past election was no different, providing several notable examples of criminal defendants being elected to office, as well as a congressman who sued an elderly constituent for defamation. And, of course, this list would not be complete without the dead pimp who won a race in Nevada:

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton; Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA 10); Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ); Dennis Hof, deceased brothel owner and newly elected representative for the 36th Assembly District of Nevada; Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY 27, shown at right); and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA 50).

While it is unusual for such candidates to win elections, it is not unheard of, particularly in Congress. Analysis found that at least 25 sitting congressmen since 1987 have been elected despite being under indictment.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rick Scott spirals out of control as the Florida elections start to slip away from him, Bill Palmer, Nov. 11, 2018. The 2018 races for Governor and Senator in Florida have turned out to be as suspiciously stacked in the Republicans’ favor as the 2106 race for President was in Florida, and the most obvious commonality is that Rick Scott has been the Governor overseeing all of the above rig-jobs.

Scott also happens to be the GOP candidate in the 2018 Senate in question. Not shockingly, he’s done everything he could to try to prevent all the votes from being counted – but his efforts are starting to slip away from him, and he knows it.

rick scott blue shirt fileTrue to form, Rick Scott, shown in a file photo, has been trying to prevent a legitimate vote count from happening in Florida this week. First he falsely accused Democrat-heavy Broward County of voter fraud, and sent in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate. But that failed when the FDLE quickly concluded that there was no fraud in the county. So now Scott is spiraling out of control.

So far this evening Rick Scott has filed three bogus lawsuits aimed at preventing the votes from being properly counted. He’s trying to have the voting machines and ballots impounded in the midst of being counted, presumably so his henchmen can screw with the results. And, even though his own FDLE officials have confirmed that there was no voter fraud on the part of Democrats, he’s still using the word “fraud” in interviews.

ny times logoNew York Times, Uncounted Ballots, Overvoted Ballots: Why Is the Governor Claiming Fraud in Florida’s Election? Frances Robles and Patricia Mazzei, Nov. 11, 2018. On Sunday, rick scottas three statewide recounts were underway, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, right, whose initial 56,000-vote lead over the Democratic incumbent, Bill Nelson, has dwindled to fewer than 13,000, filed emergency motions in court asking law enforcement agents to impound and secure voting machines when they are not in use.

The latest legal maneuvering came amid growing doubts over the progress of the recounts, required under state law for races — in this case, for governor, Senate and state agriculture commissioner — where the candidates are separated by margins of 0.5 percent or less.

Although experts say that no credible allegations of fraud have surfaced, the number of problems identified in Broward County and the county’s history of botched elections have prompted a number of prominent Republicans to call for the ouster of the elections supervisor, Brenda C. Snipes, who is a Democrat elected to the post.

Roll Call, Rohrabacher Loss Marks End of an Era in Orange County, Andrew Menezes, Nov. 11, 2018. Longtime Republican congressman loses to Democrat Harley Rouda. After 30 years representing the longtime conservative bastion of Orange County, California, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher will not be returning to Congress next year.

Democrat Harley Rouda led the 15-term Republican congressman by more than 8,500 votes in the 48th District, 52 percent to 48 percent, when The Associated Press called the race Saturday night. Rohrabacher has not conceded, with a campaign spokesman citing the need to wait until all votes were counted. Rohrabacher had won all but one of his previous races by double digits going back to 1988 — including a 17-point win two years ago — but the Democratic enthusiasm and strong voter distaste for President Donald Trump in the affluent, suburban seat appears to have been a liability for him this year.

Conservatives On New AG Disputes

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion; Trump’s acting attorney general pick was an unnecessary self-inflicted wound — but not a fatal one, Hugh Hewitt, Nov. 11, 2018. The appointment of acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker strikes many as possibly unconstitutional and even more as an utterly unnecessary self-inflicted political wound by the president. A “regular order” acting attorney general would have avoided igniting conspiracy theories. Replacing Whitaker quickly could still douse those that have been lit.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House Spin: Tump does know acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker, Kellyanne Conway says, Felicia Sonmez, Nov. 11, 2018. The White House counselor's comments came two days after President Trump sought to distance himself from his handpicked acting attorney general by claiming he didn't personally know him.

U.S. Presidency / First Lady

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Review: For eight years, Michelle Obama watched every word. In her memoir, she’s done with that, Connie Schultz, Nov. 11, 2018. Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and the author of “ . . . and His Lovely Wife.”

michelle obama becoming cover horizontalAs first lady, every word Michelle Obama uttered and every action she took received advance scrutiny for signs of potential damage to her husband’s presidency. Now, freed of the constraints of the White House, she is ready to tell it as she sees it. Her new memoir crackles with blunt, often searing observations about politics, race and gender in America. Its title, Becoming, reflects her journey from modest beginnings on the South Side of Chicago to an incessant spotlight on the world stage.

Though her life has been full and large, Obama is still figuring out who she wants to be. For the first time in two decades, she is allowing herself to explore her own ambitions separate from the rest of her family. She writes that her little girls, Malia and Sasha, are now “young women with plans and voices of their own.” Her husband is “catching his own breath” after eight years as president. “And here I am,” she writes, “in this new place, with a lot I want to say.”

Becoming is a political spouse’s memoir like no other, and I say that as the author of one. Obama doesn’t waste time naming every person who helped to elect her husband. This is her book, not his. She also cites, by name and deed, some of those who offended her. This is not an act of revenge but rather a clear sign that she is unwilling to pretend none of that mattered. Good for her.

But it hasn’t been easy. “Since stepping reluctantly into public life, I’ve been held up as the most powerful woman in the world and taken down as an ‘angry black woman,’ ” she writes in the preface. Those three words — angry black woman — make her want to ask her detractors “which part of that phrase matters to them the most — is it ‘angry’ or ‘black’ or ‘woman’?”

Nov. 10

California Fires Continue

washington post logoWashington Post, More than 200,000 flee as wildfires leave trail of death, destruction in Calif., Joel Achenbach, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Lindsey Bever and Eli Rosenberg​, Nov. 10, 2018.Officials announced nine dead in the Camp Fire and two more killed in Southern California fires. The massive Camp Fire north of Sacramento has destroyed some 6,700 structures, becoming the most destructive inferno in a state with a long and calamitous history of fires.

Election 2018

washington post logoWashington Post, Recount to begin in Fla. Senate and governor’s races, Beth Reinhard, Lori Rozsa and Sean Sullivan​, Nov. 10, 2018. Three statewide contests in Florida — including the closely watched Senate race — headed for history-making recounts, election officials confirmed Saturday, with the lead by Gov. Rick Scott (R) over Sen. Bill Nelson (D) in the marquee contest shrinking to 12,562 votes out of nearly 8.2 million cast.

The .15 percent margin is narrow enough to not only trigger a machine recount, which by law must be completed by Thursday, but is likely to result in a recount by hand across the state — a complicated logistical task in the nation’s biggest battleground state.

The new tally in the governor’s race was not quite as close, but also met the threshold for a voting machine recount. Numbers posted on the state election website showed Republican Ron DeSantis leading Democrat Andrew Gillum by 33,684 votes.

washington post logoWashington Post, For Democrats, a midterm election that keeps on giving, Dan Balz and Michael Scherer, Nov. 10, 2018. Democrats appear poised to pick up between 35 and 40 Democratic-Republican Campaign logosseats in the House, once the last races are tallied, according to strategists in both parties. That would represent the biggest Democratic gain in the House since the post-Watergate election of 1974, when the party picked up 49 seats three months after Richard M. Nixon resigned the presidency.

Republicans will gain seats in the Senate, but with races in Florida and Arizona still to be called, their pre-election majority of 51 seats will end up as low as 52 or as high as 54.

Meanwhile, Democrats gained seven governorships, recouping in part losses sustained in 2010 and 2014, and picked up hundreds of state legislative seats, where they had suffered a virtual wipeout in the previous two midterm elections.

washington post logoWashington Post, Prospect of another recount in Florida sparks partisan showdown, Amy Gardner, Beth Reinhard and Lori Rozsa, Nov. 10, 2010 (print edition). Trump says Florida officials ‘finding votes out of nowhere.’ The razor-close Senate race in Florida erupted into outright partisan warfare Friday as Democrats pressed for a recount and Republicans — including President Trump — accused local elections officials of tilting the outcome against them.

Trump and his allies offered no evidence that fraud was to blame for a diminishing GOP lead in heavily Democratic Broward County in South Florida, where the still-unfinished counting of absentee and provisional ballots has narrowed Republican Rick Scott’s statewide lead. The margin has prompted vocal protests from Republicans — a dramatic shift in rhetoric since Tuesday, when Trump declared “incredible” victories across the country and stayed away from accusations of a “rigged” election.

lucy mcbath anthony delgado kendra horn Small

Freshman Democratic House-members elect Karen Horn of Oklahoma, at left, Anthony Delgado of New York and Lucy McBath of Georgia (file photos).

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: The Resistance Strikes Back, Michelle Goldberg, Nov. 10, 2018. Two years of progressive organizing built the blue wave.

In April 2017, progressives across America turned toward Georgia’s Sixth District for the race to fill the House seat vacated by Tom Price, who’d become President Trump’s (short-lived) secretary of health and human services. That affluent, highly educated district in Atlanta’s northern suburbs had been solidly Republican for decades; Newt Gingrich had held it for 20 years, and Price won his 2016 election by more than 23 percentage points. But Trump had prevailed there only narrowly, and Democrats dreamed of using the special election to rebuke him.

Money poured in from all over the country for the Democratic candidate, Jon Ossoff. It became the most expensive House contest in history. He lost. Afterward, people complained — often on cable TV — that Democrats had squandered their money. But last week, some of that investment finally paid off.

democratic donkey logoOn Thursday we learned that a year and a half after Ossoff’s loss, Lucy McBath [shown above], an African-American gun control advocate, had flipped the seat.
McBath’s victory was emblematic of the Resistance triumphs in the midterms. The steady work of citizens who’ve been trying, over the last two years, to fight the civic nightmare of Trumpism bore fruit. It was a slog, pockmarked with disappointments.

nra logo CustomMcBath’s victory was especially sweet. She’d become an activist after the 2012 murder of her son, Jordan Davis, by a white man who, angry over loud music, shot up a car Davis was riding in. Running in her son’s memory, she beat an incumbent with a top rating from the National Rifle Association in a largely white district.

As I write this, Democrats have flipped at least 30 House seats, and their total haul could go as high as 40. Democrats virtually wiped out the Republican Party in the Northeast, but they also won new seats in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and South Carolina. The party is on track to make more gains in the House than it has in any election since Watergate's aftermath. Across the country, Democrats flipped at least 333 statehouse seats, a third of all those lost over the course of Obama’s presidency.

Trump's AG Pick: Unfit?

cnn logoCNN, Whitaker's controversial prosecution of a gay Democrat, Drew Griffin, Collette Richards and Patricia DiCarlo, Nov. 10, 2018. When Iowa state Sen. Matt McCoy, right, learned matt mccoy iowaDonald Trump had appointed Matthew Whitaker to be acting attorney general of the United States, he was aghast -- he believes Whitaker was behind a politically motivated prosecution that was personally "devastating" to him.

Whitaker has been facing questions from reporters about whether the case was politically motivated since the day the indictment was announced in 2007. An editorial in the Des Moines Register soon after McCoy was acquitted called for the government to compensate McCoy for his legal fees and questioned, "Was the McCoy prosecution a product of poor judgment, inexperience, misplaced zeal or partisan politicking? Perhaps all of the above."

washington post logoWashington Post, There is no way this man should be running the Justice Department, Editorial Board, Nov. 10, 2018 (print edition). Is Matthew G. Whitaker the legitimate acting attorney general?

matthew whitaker headshot recentFrom approximately the second President Trump ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions and tapped Mr. Whitaker, right, to temporarily exercise the office’s vast authority, legal experts have sparred over whether Mr. Trump can unilaterally elevate someone from a role that does not require Senate confirmation to one that does.

But regardless of whether the promotion is legal, it is very clear that it is unwise. Mr. Whitaker is unfit for the job.

Several prominent legal scholars point out that the Constitution demands that “principal officers” of the United States must undergo Senate confirmation. The Senate above all should be offended by the president’s end run around its authority.

And Mr. Whitaker is worse than random. It took less than 24 hours for material to emerge suggesting he could not survive even a rudimentary vetting.

  • First, there are Mr. Whitaker’s statements criticizing the Russia probe of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
  • Then there is Mr. Whitaker’s connection to a defunct patent promotion company the Federal Trade Commission called “an invention-promotion scam that has bilked thousands of consumers out of millions of dollars.” Mr. Whitaker served on its board and once threatened a complaining customer, lending the weight of his former position as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa to the company’s scheme.
  • Finally, and fundamentally most damning, is Mr. Whitaker’s expressed hostility to Marbury v. Madison, a central case — the central case — in the American constitutional system. It established an indispensable principle: The courts decide what is and is not constitutional. Without Marbury, there would be no effective judicial check on the political branches, no matter how egregious their actions.

If the Senate were consulted, it is impossible to imagine Mr. Whitaker getting close to the attorney general’s office. He should not be there now.

Guardian, Trump's acting attorney general involved in firm that scammed veterans out of life savings, Jon Swaine, Nov. 10, 2018 (print edition). Matthew Whitaker, a former US attorney in Iowa, was paid to work as an advisory board member for World Patent Marketing (WPM), a Florida-based company accused by the US government of tricking aspiring inventors out of millions of dollars. Earlier this year, it was ordered to pay authorities $26m.

In related news, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday FBI Is Investigating Florida Company Where Whitaker Was Advisory-Board Member. Details below.

Palmer Report, Commentary: Here comes Donald Trump’s Attorney General head-fake, Bill Palmer, Nov. 10, 2018. Donald Trump has fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and temporarily replaced him with Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. It’s already clear that the scandal-a-minute Whitaker isn’t long for the position, and that Trump will have to nominate someone else to be the new permanent Attorney General in January. Accordingly, some names are being publicly floated. Don’t believe it.

Here’s the thing. Even though the Republicans are going to retain control of the Senate, any Attorney General nominee is still going to face tough and potentially damaging questions from Senate Democrats during nationally televised hearings. That alone can derail things. For instance, while the Democrats weren’t able to stop Sessions’ confirmation in early 2017, they were able to get him to commit perjury, which resulted in him having to recuse himself, which ended up being Trump’s worst nightmare.

For that matter, Trump didn’t even bother to nominate Rudy Giuliani to his cabinet in early 2017, for fear that the Democratic cross-examination during confirmation hearings would expose Rudy’s role in the Trump-Russia election rigging scandal. So don’t look for Trump to nominate anyone who could make things worse for him – or worse for themselves – during a bruising confirmation battle. In that context, the names being floated right now are almost laughable.

Donald Trump’s people are telling multiple major news outlets that Chris Christie is on the Attorney General shortlist. But Christie was on the Trump transition team, which has since been exposed as having known about Michael Flynn’s illegal transition-period coordination with the Russian Ambassador. Outgoing Florida AG Pam Bondi is also supposedly on the short list, but she took a campaign donation from Trump in exchange for not pursuing the Trump University scandal.

These are not the kind of people Donald Trump wants to put through an Attorney General confirmation process. So why is he even floating their names? He wants us to get up in arms about the prospect of Christie, or Bondi, or Rudy, or Bigfoot, or whoever he’ll float next. That way, by the time he nominates some obscure henchman, we’ll be more likely to simply accept it, because at least it won’t be some big hated name.

At least that’s how he thinks it’ll go. The key for the Resistance is to fight this one all the way to the end. Trump doesn’t get to have a new Attorney General.

Reporter's Murder By Saudis

washington post logoWashington Post, Audio of Khashoggi’s killing given to U.S., Saudi, Europeans, Erdogan says, Loveday Morris and Louisa Loveluck​, Nov. 10, 2018. Saudi journalist Jamal jamal khashoggi western suitKhashoggi, right, a contributor to The Post, was killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Turkish officials say the recording from inside the consulate in Istanbul captures his death.

The tape is a critical piece of evidence that Turkey says backs up its assertion that Khashoggi, right, was killed by a Saudi hit team after he entered the consulate on Oct. 2. Saudi Arabia now acknowledges that Khashoggi was killed, but its internal investigation has not implicated leaders, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler.

Trump On World Stage

washington post logoemmanuel macronWashington Post, Macron and Trump meet in Paris amid strain over Iran, Syria and climate change, David Nakamura, Seung Min Kim and James McAuley, Nov. 10, 2018. President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, right, met Saturday amid tensions over Macron’s call for a “true European army” — remarks the U.S. president deemed “very insulting” moments after he landed here for World War I commemoration ceremonies this weekend.

There were some visible signs of strain between the two men Saturday even as they exchanged warm words at the start of their bilateral meeting at Elysee Palace.

U.S. Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, MS-13 associate sentenced to 40 years in prison in videotaped slaying of 15-year-old girl, Justin Jouvenal, Nov. 10, 2018. Venus Romero Iraheta orchestrated the killing of Damaris Reyes Rivas as part of a revenge plot.

A judge imposed a sentence of 40 years in prison on Iraheta, the most high-profile defendant in a slaying so horrific it drew national attention and was used by the Trump administration to grimly highlight the resurgence of MS-13 in the Washington area and beyond. Ten associates of MS-13 have been convicted of the vicious attack in wooded areas.

More On AG's Vet Scam Scandal

matthew whitaker agGuardian, Trump's acting attorney general involved in firm that scammed veterans out of life savings, Jon Swaine, Nov. 10, 2018 (print edition). Matthew Whitaker, right, a former US attorney in Iowa, was paid to work as an advisory board member for World Patent Marketing (WPM), a Florida-based company accused by the US government of tricking aspiring inventors out of millions of dollars. Earlier this year, it was ordered to pay authorities $26m. Continued from excerpt above.

Several veterans, two of them with disabilities, said they lost tens of thousands of dollars in the WPM scam, having been enticed into paying for patenting and licensing services by the impressive credentials of Whitaker and his fellow advisers. None said they dealt with Whitaker directly.

“World Patent Marketing has devastated me emotionally, mentally and financially,” Melvin Kiaaina, of Hawaii, told a federal court last year, adding that he trusted the firm with his life savings in part because it “had respected people on the board of directors”.

  • Matthew Whitaker was paid advisory board member for WPM
  • Veteran: ‘I spent the money on a dream. I lost everything’

The 60-year-old said he was a disabled veteran US army paratrooper and paid the company in 2015 and 2016 to patent and promote his ideas for fishing equipment.

“I received nothing for the $14,085 I paid to the company, other than a bad quality drawing and logo that my grandson could have made,” he said.

Kiaaina and other WPM customers described their experiences in declarations to court written under penalty of perjury, as part of a civil lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against WPM and its chief executive, Scott Cooper. Emails filed as evidence to the case showed desperate customers begging Cooper and his team for their money back.

“You have caused me tremendous grief, I can’t sleep, my stress level is at an all-time high and the last of my savings has been stolen with nothing to show for it,” one unemployed widow, who lost $8,000, wrote to Cooper in December 2016. Another inventor who paid $12,000 said he was left with “a stress related condition that is eating away at my hair”.

In particular, WPM promoted itself as a champion of those who served in the military. “Not only do we honor the veterans and soldiers of our armed forces but we are also celebrating what they are protecting - the American dream,” it said in a statement timed for Veterans Day 2014, which highlighted Whitaker’s role at the firm. WPM claimed to have made an unspecified donation to the Wounded Warrior Project nonprofit, which did not respond to an email seeking confirmation of the payment.

Another WPM client, Ryan Masti, who served in the navy and suffers from dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), said a WPM representative boasted of the company’s connections to Whitaker and Mast in a promotional telephone call that persuaded him to hand over money.

Masti told the court he lost more than $75,000 after paying WPM to register, develop and promote his idea for “Socially Accepted”, a social network aimed at people with disabilities. He said that in return he received only a press release, a logo and a shoddy website template.Advertisement

Whitaker publicly vouched for WPM, claiming in a December 2014 statement it went “beyond making statements about doing business ‘ethically’ and translate[d] those words into action.” He said: “I would only align myself with a first-class organisation.”

But customers reported to authorities that they had been treated unethically by a company that, beneath its glossy marketing pamphlets, was a shabby operation.

Having voted for Trump enthusiastically in 2016, Masti said on Friday he would soon be changing his party affiliation to Democratic, following the president’s elevation of Whitaker.

“It’s totally ridiculous,” said Masti. “It makes the whole Republican party look so bad. How could a president appoint someone like this? And then not have a problem about it when it comes out? He should be taking care of the victims.”

U.S. Freedom To Advocate

Holland Sentinel (Michigan), Opinion: US colleges and universities are right to protest Israel's anti-Palestinian policies, Wayne Madsen, Nov. 10, 2018. Backing the plight of the Palestinian people, particularly during a time when the Trump administration encourages further annexation of Palestinian territory by Israel's current far-right government, is a worthy cause adopted by many institutions of higher learning.

Academic and campus organizations in the United States are opposing attempts to stifle student and faculty activism against current Israeli policies.

These include legislative moves at the federal and state levels to criminalize both the boycott of illegal Israeli settlements and advocacy for Palestinian rights by labeling them "anti-Semitic." Any such criminalization, obviously is glaringly unconstitutional.

Nov. 9

Trump's New Attorney General

Vox, Exclusive: Trump loyalist Matthew Whitaker was counseling the White House on investigating Clinton, Murray Waas Nov 9, 2018. Whitaker advised the president on launching a new special counsel while working as chief of staff for Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

matthew whitaker screengrabMatthew Whitaker, whom President Donald Trump named as his acting attorney general on Wednesday, privately provided advice to the president last year on how the White House might be able to pressure the Justice Department to investigate the president’s political adversaries, Vox has learned.

Whitaker (shown in a file photo) was an outspoken critic of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe before he became the chief of staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions in September 2017. That has rightfully raised concerns that Whitaker might now attempt to sabotage Mueller’s investigation. But new information suggests that Whitaker — while working for Sessions — advocated on behalf of, and attempted to facilitate, Trump’s desire to exploit the Justice Department and FBI to investigate the president’s enemies.

In May 2018, President Donald Trump demanded that the Justice Department open a criminal investigation into whether the FBI “infiltrated or surveilled” his presidential campaign and whether Obama administration officials were involved in this purported effort. Trump, his Republican allies in Congress, and conservative news organizations — most notably Fox News — were making such claims and amplifying those of others, even though they offered scant evidence, if any, that these allegations were true.

Sessions, Rosenstein, and other senior department officials believed that if they agreed to Trump’s wishes, doing so would constitute an improper politicization of the department that would set a dangerous precedent for Trump — or any future president — to exploit the powerful apparatus of the DOJ and FBI to investigate their political adversaries. Those efforts, in turn, coincided with the president’s campaign to undermine Mueller’s investigation into whether the president’s campaign aides, White House advisers, and members of his own family colluded with Russian to help Trump win the 2016 election.

washington post logoWashington Post, New acting attorney general was paid by firm the FTC called a ‘scam,’ Carol D. Leonnig, Rosalind S. Helderman and Robert O'Harrow Jr., Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). Former customers of World Patent Marketing, which was forced to pay a settlement and cease operations, expressed dismay at Matthew G. Whitaker’s appointment to lead the Justice Department for now.

When federal investigators were digging into an invention-promotion company accused of fraud by customers, they sought information in 2017 from a prominent member of the company’s advisory board, according to two people familiar with the probe: Matthew G. Whitaker, a former U.S. attorney in Iowa.

matthew whitaker agIt is unclear how Whitaker, shown at right, — who was appointed acting attorney general by President Trump on Wednesday — responded to a Federal Trade Commission subpoena to his law firm.

In the end, the FTC filed a complaint against Miami-based World Patent Marketing, accusing it of misleading investors and falsely promising that it would help them patent and profit from their inventions, according to court filings.

In May of this year, a federal court in Florida ordered the company to pay a settlement of more than $25 million and close up shop, records show. The company did not admit or deny wrongdoing.

Whitaker’s sudden elevation this week to replace fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions has put new scrutiny on his involvement with the shuttered company, whose advisory board he joined in 2014, shortly after making a failed run for U.S. Senate in Iowa.

At the time, he was also running a conservative watchdog group with ties to other powerful nonprofits on the right and was beginning to develop a career as a Trump-friendly cable television commentator.

wsj logoWall Street Journal, FBI Is Investigating Florida Company Where Whitaker Was Advisory-Board Member, Mark Maremont and James V. Grimaldi, Nov. 9, 2018. Active case is being handled by FBI Miami office; acting attorney general oversees FBI.

fbi logoThe Federal Bureau of Investigation is conducting a criminal investigation of a Florida company accused of scamming millions from customers during the period that Matthew Whitaker, the acting U.S. attorney general, served as a paid advisory-board member, according to an alleged victim who was contacted by the FBI and other people familiar with the matter.

The investigation is being handled by the Miami office of the FBI and by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Says ‘I Don’t Know Matt Whitaker,’ Despite Several Oval Office Visits, Matthew G. Whitaker, Eileen Sullivan and Katie Benner, Nov. 9, 2018. The acting attorney general chosen by President Trump, is said to have easy chemistry with the president. Mr. Whitaker now oversees the Russia inquiry, which he said has gone too far and should not be permitted to investigate the president’s finances.

President Trump went out of his way on Friday to distance himself from Matthew G. Whitaker, his choice to replace Jeff Sessions as attorney general, saying repeatedly that he did not know Mr. Whitaker and had not spoken to him and emphasizing that the new attorney general was merely “there in an acting position.”

“I don’t know Matt Whitaker,” Mr. Trump told reporters as he left Washington for a weekend trip to Paris. But the president stressed that he did know Mr. Whitaker’s reputation well, calling him “a very respected man.”

The faint presidential praise came just two days after Mr. Trump unceremoniously dumped Mr. Sessions, putting Mr. Whitaker in charge of the Justice Department and the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Since then, criticism has mounted about Mr. Whitaker’s lack of credentials to be the nation’s top law enforcement official, along with allegations that he has conflicts of interest that should keep him from overseeing the Russia inquiry.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the chamber’s top Democrat, sent a letter to Mr. Trump on Friday saying that the appointment of Mr. Whitaker, who was chief of staff to Mr. Sessions, was unconstitutional.

See also below:

ny times logoNew York Times, Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker Once Criticized Supreme Court’s Power, Charlie Savage, Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). The acting attorney general, Matthew G. Whitaker, once espoused the view that the courts “are supposed to be the inferior branch” and criticized the Supreme Court’s power to review legislative and executive acts and declare them unconstitutional, the lifeblood of its existence as a coequal branch of government.

washington post logoWashington Post, As a Senate candidate, Whitaker said he won’t support ‘secular’ judicial nominees and courts should be ‘inferior branch,’ Michael Kranish and Robert Barnes​, Nov. 9, 2018. Matthew G. Whitaker’s comments, made during an unsuccessful 2014 run, have drawn new scrutiny since he was named acting attorney general.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump’s Appointment of the Acting Attorney General Is Unconstitutional, Neal K. Katyal and George T. Conway III, Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). The president is evading the requirement to seek the Senate’s advice and consent for the nation’s chief law enforcement officer and the person who will oversee the Mueller investigation. Mr. Katyal and Mr. Conway are prominent appellate lawyers.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump’s Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker panics and locks down his Twitter account after his scandals explode, Bill Palmer, Nov. 9, 2018. When it comes to Donald Trump, the only thing more consistent than his dirty scheming is the fact that he never bothers to do his homework before putting his schemes in motion.

The Atlantic, Opinion: It’s Probably Too Late to Stop Mueller, Benjamin Wittes (Editor in chief of Lawfare and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution), Nov. 9, 2018. The prospects for interference are dimmer than many imagine.

washington post logoWashington Post, The Mueller probe could be in mortal danger, Harry Litman, Nov. 9, 2018. Harry Litman teaches constitutional law at the University of California at San Diego and practices law at the firm Constantine Cannon. He was U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania from 1998 to 2001 and deputy assistant attorney general from 1993 to 1998.

washington post logoWashington Post, New acting attorney general once promoted a company accused of deceiving clients, Carol D. Leonnig, Rosalind S. Helderman and Robert O'Harrow Jr.​, Nov. 8, 2018. Former customers of World Patent Marketing expressed dismay at Matthew G. Whitaker’s appointment to lead the Justice Department for now.

washington post logoWashington Post, Commentary: Matthew Whitaker has experience advising con artists. Will he help more under Trump? Catherine Rampell, Nov. 8, 2018. But maybe Whitaker really was picked because he has experience advising con artists. Whitaker, after all, was involved with a Miami-based firm that federal regulators shut down last year as an alleged scam. The firm, World Patent Marketing, promised aspiring inventors that it would patent and market their brainchildren, based on what a 17-page Federal Trade Commission complaint characterized as bogus “success stories” and other false claims.

DeSmog, Dark Money Paid New Trump Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s Salary for 3 Years, Sharon Kelly, Nov. 7, 2018. Whitaker was appointed as Session’s chief of staff on September 22, 2017. Before that, he served for three years as the executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), which describes itself as “a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas.”

FACT has come under fire for its own lack of transparency, with the Center for Responsive Politics calling attention to FACT’s funding, which in some years came entirely from DonorsTrust, an organization also known as the “Dark Money ATM of the Conservative Movement” and whose own donors include the notorious funders of climate denial, Charles and David Koch.

“In other words, an organization ‘dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency’ gets 100 percent of its funds from a group that exists mainly as a vehicle for donors to elude transparency,” the Center for Responsive Politics wrote in 2016.

In 2014, FACT received $600,000 from DonorsTrust — the only donation it reported that year, according to OpenSecrets.org. An additional $500,000 flowed from DonorsTrust to FACT in 2015. And in 2016, DonorsTrust gave $800,000 to FACT, tax records show, as well as two additional donations, one for $100,000 and another for $450,000. That $2.45 million represents virtually all of FACT's entire reported receipts for those years (except for a total of $456 from 2015 to 2016).

In 2016, Whitaker earned $402,000 as FACT’s director and president, according to the organization’s tax filings. That followed reported compensation from FACT for Whitaker of $63,000 in 2014, and $252,000 in 2015.

His work included advocacy for causes backed by the fossil fuel industry.

Mass Shooting

cnn logoCNN, Thousand Oaks gunman went from Marine vet to mass shooter. Investigators want to know why, Nicole Chavez and Holly Yan, Nov. 9, 2018. After a Marine Corps veteran stormed into a country music dance hall in California and killed 12 people, investigators said there is no clear motive behind the attack.

ian long croppedAuthorities say Ian Long, 28, right, fired a Glock .45-caliber handgun without a word as patrons line-danced at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks late Wednesday night. He first shot a security guard and a woman working at the counter, but authorities say there was no indication he was targeting employees.

Hours after Long was found dead, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police searched for clues at the home where he lived with his mother. As investigators dig for answers, loved ones and strangers mourn the victims -- including some now known as heroes.

Hours after Long was found dead, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police searched for clues at the home where he lived with his mother. As investigators dig for answers, loved ones and strangers mourn the victims -- including some now known as heroes.

washington post logoWashington Post, Deaths of guard and sheriff’s deputy fuel debate over active-shooter defenses, Justin Jouvenal and Alex Horton, Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). The Ventura County mass shooting that left 12 dead Wednesday became a grim test case in a persistent debate about how places such as schools, nightclubs and houses of worship should ian long new york post coversteel themselves against shooters and how police should respond to them.

The massacre (whose aftermath is portrayed at left), and others like it in recent months, show how difficult devising an effective strategy to head off an attack can be — and the exceptionally high cost it can exact on those on the front lines.

The gunman began his rampage by shooting an unarmed security guard outside a country-music bar in California, police said. After the attacker began firing on patrons inside, a sergeant with the sheriff’s office charged into the building to confront him and was cut down by gunfire.

The debate has gained urgency during the past year, as President Trump and others have repeatedly said security guards — specifically armed ones — could have prevented the nation’s mass shootings; earlier this year, Trump tweeted his support for the controversial idea of arming teachers.

California Tragedies: 6 Deaths So Far

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘The Whole World Was on Fire’: Infernos Choke California, Thomas Fuller, Jennifer Medina and Jose A. Del Real, Nov. 9, 2018. The fire-prone state was battling three major blazes, one in the northern Sierra and two west of Los Angeles. Thousands of people have fled and hundreds of buildings have burned. At least six people have been killed.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘It Really Can’t Get Much Worse’: After Shooting, City Faces Fire, Jennifer Medina, Jose A. Del Real and Tim Arango, Nov. 9, 2018. Residents of Thousand Oaks had just begun to mourn the 12 people killed on Wednesday when wildfires forced some who had survived the attack to evacuate.

Only hours after a gunman attacked a country music bar in Thousand Oaks, the city was once again struck with panic. This time, fire forced the evacuation of the town still reeling from the devastating shooting.

Residents in Thousand Oaks had just begun to mourn the 12 people killed late Wednesday at the Borderline Bar & Grill when the second crisis this week set the city on edge. For hours after the shooting, people crowded into the Thousand Oaks Teen Center, anxious to find out if their loved ones had survived. It was well past lunchtime before it began to empty out. But by midnight, it was crowded again — this time as a fire evacuation center.

U.S. Political Culture

washington post logoWashington Post, In new memoir, Michelle Obama blasts Trump over birther theory and ‘Access’ tape, Krissah Thompson, Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). The first lady’s book is not a Washington read full of gossip and political score-settling. But she does lay bare her deep, quaking disdain for President Trump, going so far as to write that her “body buzzed with fury” at one point.

michelle obama becoming cover horizontalAs Michelle Obama’s highly anticipated memoir Becoming arrives, it’s clear that the former first lady is occupying a space in the culture beyond politics. With an arena book tour featuring A-list special guests, she seems to exist in the middle ground between two icons she calls friends, Oprah Winfrey and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. Her approach is short of Winfrey’s full-on confessional style but goes further than the guarded intimacy of Knowles-Carter’s art and performances.

Her book walks a similar line. It’s revealing, right down to the glossy cover photo in a casual white top — one shoulder exposed, eyes bright. (Spoiler: It’s not the kind of shirt a soon-to-be political candidate wears.) But Obama, who was famously guarded as first lady, still values her privacy — even as she offers frank opinions about Donald Trump and discloses past fertility struggles.

“I don’t think anybody will be necessarily prepared to read a memoir like this — especially coming from a first lady,” said Shonda Rhimes, the television producer, who read an advance copy of Obama’s book.

ny times logoNew York Times, In 'Becoming,' Michelle Obama Mostly Opts for Empowerment Over Politics, Jennifer Szalai, Nov. 9, 2018. For anyone who’s wondering: No, she’s not running. In her new memoir, Becoming — a book whose reportedly enormous advance rendered its contents almost as closely guarded as the bullion at Fort Knox — Michelle Obama puts to rest any speculation about her political ambitions. “I’ve never been a fan of politics,” she writes, “and my experience over the last 10 years has done little to change that.”

Note how she says “the last 10 years,” not two. She emerges in these pages as a first lady who steadfastly believed in her husband’s abilities but had no illusions that the sludge of partisanship and racism would melt away under the sunny slogans of hope and change. A month after President Obama started his first term in 2009, Michelle Obama was sitting in the balcony during a joint session of Congress, where she could see a cadre of Republicans scowling while her husband delivered his address. “They would fight everything Barack did, I realized, whether it was good for the country or not.” She continues, “It seemed they just wanted Barack to fail.”

This might sound like the acuity of hindsight if it weren’t consistent with the woman she had already shown herself to be: Michelle, the wry, orderly realist to the dreamy, cerebral Barack, joking on the 2008 campaign trail about her husband’s slovenly habits in the real world. She also talked candidly then about how the popular enthusiasm for him and his message — in a country in which the prospect of a black president had seemed far-fetched even to her — made her feel. “For the first time in my adult lifetime,” she told a crowd before the Wisconsin primaries, “I’m really proud of my country.”

wsj logoWall Street Journal, Donald Trump Played Central Role in Hush Payoffs to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, Joe Palazzolo, Nicole Hong, Michael Rothfeld,
Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Rebecca Ballhaus, Nov. 9, 2018. Federal prosecutors have gathered evidence of president’s participation in transactions that violated campaign-finance laws.

david pecker croppedAs a presidential candidate in August 2015, Donald Trump huddled with a longtime friend, media executive David Pecker, in his cluttered 26th floor Trump Tower office and made a request.

What can you do to help my campaign? he asked, according to people familiar with the meeting.

Mr. Pecker, chief executive of American Media Inc., offered to use his National Enquirer tabloid to buy the silence of women if they tried to publicize alleged sexual encounters with Mr. Trump.

djt Karen McDougal Donald Trump youtubeLess than a year later, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Pecker to quash the story of a former Playboy model who said they’d had an affair. Mr. Pecker’s company soon paid $150,000 to the model, Karen McDougal (shown with Trump at left), to keep her from speaking publicly about it. Mr. Trump later thanked Mr. Pecker for the assistance.

The Trump Tower meeting and its aftermath are among several previously unreported instances in which Mr. Trump intervened directly to suppress stories about his alleged sexual encounters with women, according to interviews with three dozen people who have direct knowledge of the events or who have been briefed on them, as well as court papers, corporate records and other documents.

djt stormy daniels 2006Taken together, the accounts refute a two-year pattern of denials by Mr. Trump, his legal team and his advisers that he was involved in payoffs to Ms. McDougal and a former adult-film star [widely reported to be Stormy Daniels, shown at right in a file photo]. They also raise the possibility that the president of the United States violated federal campaign-finance laws.

The Wall Street Journal found that Mr. Trump was involved in or briefed on nearly every step of the agreements. He directed deals in phone calls and meetings with his self-described fixer, Michael Cohen, and others. The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan has gathered evidence of Mr. Trump’s participation in the transactions.

On Thursday, the White House referred questions about Mr. Trump’s involvement in the hush deals to the president’s outside counsel Jay Sekulow, who declined to comment.

In an Oct. 23 interview with the Journal, Mr. Trump declined to address whether he had ever discussed the payments with Mr. Cohen during the campaign.

“Nobody cares about that,” he said. He described Mr. Cohen as a “public-relations person” who “represented me on very small things.”

Roll Call, Donald Trump’s Trans-Atlantic Tweetstorm on Air Force One, John T. Bennett, Nov. 9, 2018. President said he was focused on ‘the world.’ He spent hours attacking domestic foes. President Donald Trump assured reporters as he left the White House Friday morning for Paris he was “thinking about the world.” Only, he wasn’t.

The president and first lady Melania Trump boarded Marine One just before 9:30 a.m. and lifted off to link up with Air Force One a few minutes later. By 10 a.m., the executive jet was wheels up for a diplomatic trip to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

Before the roughly six-hour flight to Paris, any global focus of the diplomat in chief appeared to have been discarded on the South Lawn, where he took a list of questions from reporters on his way out.

Before Air Force One had made much progress crossing the Atlantic, Trump’s worldly thoughts had given way to an hourslong trans-Atlantic Twitter rant about exclusively domestic topics, including his political foes. Other world leaders he will see in Paris, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, were not mentioned.

The GOP president, whose base is mostly white and conservative and who is hammered regularly by critics for spouting racial “dog whistles,” mused just after 12:30 p.m. Eastern time about vote-counting issues in Florida’s Broward County. Never reluctant to espouse conspiracy theories, Trump wrote, “How come they never find Republican votes?” — referring to what he called the “Broward Effect.”

To find one answer, Trump could have had his staff seek out U.S. Census Bureau and Florida Department of State data about Broward’s demographics. For instance, the bureau found the county’s population is 64 percent white — but African-Americans and Latinos combine for 60 percent of residents. Both those groups largely vote Democratic. And the state office’s website says Broward has 249,822 registered Republicans and 586,833 registered Democrats.

2018 Elections Update

washington post logoWashington Post, Democratic candidates in Florida pull into recount range as state again is epicenter of post-election fight over ballots, Michael Scherer, Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). Republicans maintain a narrowing lead in the U.S. Senate and governor’s races as votes continue to be counted. Nearly two decades after hanging chads transfixed the nation, rick scottFlorida is once again headed toward a high-stakes election recount, as vote margins narrowed in Democrats’ favor Thursday in the state’s marquee U.S. Senate and governor’s races.

Hundreds of party and interest-group volunteers spent the day trying to track down people who had cast provisional ballots, seeking affidavits to prove their votes should be counted. And in an echo of the 2000 presidential election, state Republicans tried to preempt the coming fight by accusing Democratic lawyers of democratic donkey logoheading to Broward County to “steal” the election.

In the Senate race, Gov. Rick Scott (R), above right, had a lead of just more than 15,000 votes, or 0.18 percent, over Sen. Bill Nelson (D) as of Thursday night. In the governor’s race, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) trailed former congressman Ron DeSantis (R) by more than 36,000 votes, or 0.44 percent.

washington post logodave bratWashington Post, The Republican who toppled Cantor ran timidly this time in Virginia’s 7th District, Laura Vozzella, Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). Rep. Dave Brat, the little-known economics professor who toppled then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014 and presaged the rise of populism and Donald Trump, held few events during his failed reelection bid and was a no-show at his own election-night party.

abigail spanberger twitterThis year, up against the suburban rage unleashed by Trump’s presidency, the congressman seemed skittish. After Democratic protesters shouted him down at two town hall meetings last year, Brat, right, stuck to tightly scripted public appearances. Campaign events were mostly closed to the media and publicized only after the fact; he last advertised one on Facebook in July.

The winner was former CIA operative Abigail Spanberger, left.

washington post logoWashington Post, In Arizona Senate race, Democrat takes narrow lead as vote count continues, John Wagner and Elise Viebeck, Nov. 9, 2018. Questions of uncounted ballots remain in gubernatorial races in Georgia, Florida. Democratic Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema has taken a narrow lead over Republican opponent Martha McSally in the Arizona kyrsten sinema oSenate race as officials continue to tally mail-in ballots — a change in fortunes that could narrow the size of the GOP martha mcsally omajority next year.

Sinema, right, now leads McSally, 49.1 percent to 48.6 percent, according to results provided by election officials at 8 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday. The two congresswomen were separated by just 9,610 ballots cast statewide, with a Green Party candidate lagging far behind.

McSally, left had consistently led in the count since Tuesday’s midterm elections, but more than 400,000 ballots remained outstanding as of Thursday night, leaving the race in flux in a state where about three-quarters of voters cast ballots by mail.

Mass Shooting

ny times logoNew York Times, Many Who Fled California Attack Were Survivors of Las Vegas Massacre, Jose A. Del Real, Jennifer Medina and Tim Arango, Nov. 8, 2018. Country music was blaring and beer was flowing. The Lakers game was on the television, and if revelers weren’t line dancing they were playing pool. Then all of a sudden, into “College Country Night!” at the Borderline Bar & Grill stepped a man with a gun.

Wearing dark clothing and a dark baseball cap, he set off smoke bombs to create confusion. He shot a security guard at the entrance and then opened fire into the crowd. Patrons dropped to the ground, dashed under tables, hid in the bathroom and ran for exits, stepping over bodies sprawled across the floor.

And as they raced for safety, many of them thought, Not again.

Just last year, they had fled the same chaos — gunshots, bodies falling — in Las Vegas, at a country music festival where 58 people were killed in the worst mass shooting in modern American history. The Borderline, a popular hangout for country music fans, had become a place of solace for dozens of survivors of the Vegas massacre to come together for music, for healing and for remembering — “to celebrate life,” in the words of one.

And now, at least some of them belong to a group that seems uniquely American: survivors of two mass shootings.

“This is the second time in about a year and a month that this has happened,” Nicholas Champion, a fitness trainer from Southern California who posted a group photo on Facebook of Vegas survivors gathering at the Borderline in April, said in a television interview. “I was at the Las Vegas Route 91 mass shooting as well as probably 50 or 60 others who were in the building at the same time as me tonight.”

Climate Change

washington post logoWashington Post, Federal judge blocks Keystone XL pipeline, dealing a major blow to Trump, Fred Barbash, Allyson Chiu and Juliet Eilperin​, Nov. 9, 2018. A federal judge temporarily blocked construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, ruling late Thursday that the Trump administration had failed to justify its decision granting a permit for brian morris 2014the 1,200-mile long project designed to connect Canada’s oil sands fields with Texas' Gulf Coast refineries.

The judge, Brian Morris, right, of the U.S. District Court in Montana, said the State Department ignored crucial issues of climate change in order to further the president’s goal of letting the pipeline be built. In doing so, the administration ran afoul of the Administrative Procedure Act, which requires “reasoned” explanations for government decisions, particularly when they represent reversals of well-studied actions.

It was a major defeat for Trump, who attacked the Obama administration for stopping the project in the face of protests and an environmental impact study. Trump signed an executive order two days into his presidency setting in motion a course reversal on the Keystone XL pipeline, as well as another major pipeline, Dakota Access.

More On New Attorney General

ben wittes brookingsThe Atlantic, Opinion: It’s Probably Too Late to Stop Mueller, Benjamin Wittes (right, Editor in chief of Lawfare and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution), Nov. 9, 2018. The prospects for interference are dimmer than many imagine.

Eighteen months ago, I said, President Donald Trump had an opportunity to disrupt the Russia investigation: He had fired the FBI director and had rocked the Justice Department back on its heels. But Trump had dithered. He had broadcast his intentions too many times. And in the meantime, Mueller had moved decisively, securing important indictments and convictions, and making whatever preparations were necessary for hostile fire. And now Democrats were poised to take the House of Representatives. The window of opportunity was gone.

washington post logoWashington Post, The Mueller probe could be in mortal danger, Harry Litman, Nov. 9, 2018. Harry Litman teaches constitutional law at the University of California at San Diego and practices law at the firm Constantine Cannon. He was U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania from 1998 to 2001 and deputy assistant attorney general from 1993 to 1998.

How serious is the forced resignation of Jeff Sessions and the installation of his chief of staff, Matthew G. Whitaker, as acting attorney general? And what does it portend for the Mueller probe and related investigations?

The first question is easy: It is as serious as a heart attack. Whitaker’s appointment, which President Trump effectuated before all of the midterm election results were even final, immediately divested Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein of his oversight authority of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.

washington post logoWashington Post, As a Senate candidate, Whitaker said he won’t support ‘secular’ judicial nominees and courts should be ‘inferior branch,’ Michael Kranish and Robert Barnes​, Nov. 9, 2018. Matthew G. Whitaker’s comments, made during an unsuccessful 2014 run, have drawn new scrutiny since he was named acting attorney general.

Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker has said that judges should have a “biblical view,” that he could not support nominees who are “secular” and declared that federal courts should be the “inferior branch” of government.

Whitaker’s comments, made during an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate in 2014, have drawn new scrutiny since President Trump named him Wednesday to replace ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In an April 25, 2014, debate, moderator Erick Erickson asked the candidates about their faith. Whitaker said that, if elected, he would want judges who “have a biblical view of justice, which I think is very important …”

Erickson interjected: “Levitical or New Testament?”

“I’m a New Testament,” Whitaker answered, according to an account at the time in the Des Moines Register. “And what I know is as long as they have that world view, that they’ll be a good judge. And if they have a secular world view, where this is all we have here on Earth, then I’m going to be very concerned about that judge.”

ny times logocharlie savageNew York Times, Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker Once Criticized Supreme Court’s Power, Charlie Savage, right, Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). The acting attorney general, Matthew G. Whitaker, once espoused the view that the courts “are supposed to be the inferior branch” and criticized the Supreme Court’s power to review legislative and executive acts and declare them unconstitutional, the lifeblood of its existence as a coequal branch of government.

In a Q. and A. when he sought the Republican nomination for senator in Iowa in 2014, Mr. Whitaker indicated that he shared the belief among some conservatives that the federal judiciary has too much power over public policy. He criticized many of the Supreme Court’s rulings, beginning with a foundational one: Marbury v. Madison, which established its power of judicial review in 1803.

“There are so many” bad rulings, Mr. Whitaker said. “I would start with the idea of Marbury v. Madison. That’s probably a good place to start and the way it’s looked at the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of constitutional issues.”

The interview was among evidence that shed new light on Mr. Whitaker’s views, including disparagement of the Russia investigation, which he now oversees, and an expansive view of presidential power. Congressional aides, journalists and other observers scoured his record after Mr. Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday and replaced him with Mr. Whitaker, instantly raising questions about whether the president wanted a loyalist in charge at the Justice Department with the power to end the Russia investigation.

Groups throughout the nation marched on Thursday to support the inquiry of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, and to protest Mr. Whitaker’s appointment. Thousands demonstrated in dozens of cities, including in Washington, Philadelphia, Omaha and Salt Lake City.

In New York, about 4,000 people marched from Times Square to Union Square, the police said. Protesters held signs and chanted “Trump is not above the law.” On Twitter, #ProtectMueller was trending.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Mueller Has a Way Around Trump and His Minions, Richard Ben-Veniste and George Frampton, Nov. 9, 2018. A road map from the Watergate prosecution shows a potential route for the special counsel to send incriminating evidence directly to Congress.

Whitaker Appointment Unconstitutional?

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump’s Appointment of the Acting Attorney General Is Unconstitutional, Neal K. Katyal and George T. Conway III, Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). The president is evading the requirement to seek the Senate’s advice and consent for the nation’s chief law enforcement officer and the person who will oversee the Mueller investigation. Mr. neal katyal oKatyal, shown at left, and Mr. Conway, shown below at right via his Twitter photo (and husband of Trump White House counselor Kellyanne Conway), are prominent appellate lawyers.

What now seems an eternity ago, the conservative law professor Steven Calabresi published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal in May arguing that Robert Mueller’s appointment as special counsel was unconstitutional. His article got a lot of attention, and it wasn’t long before President Trump picked up the argument, george conway twittertweeting that “the Appointment of the Special Counsel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!”

Professor Calabresi’s article was based on the Appointments Clause of the Constitution, Article II, Section 2, Clause 2. Under that provision, so-called principal officers of the United States must be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate under its “Advice and Consent” powers.

He argued that Mr. Mueller was a principal officer because he is exercising significant law enforcement authority and that since he has not been confirmed by the Senate, his appointment was unconstitutional. As one of us argued at the time, he was wrong. What makes an officer a principal officer is that he or she reports only to the president. No one else in government is that person’s boss. But Mr. Mueller reports to Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general. So, Mr. Mueller is what is known as an inferior officer, not a principal one, and his appointment without Senate approval was valid.

matthew whitaker agBut Professor Calabresi and Mr. Trump were right about the core principle. A principal officer must be confirmed by the Senate. And that has a very significant consequence today.

It means that Mr. Trump’s installation of Matthew Whitaker, shown left in a new official photo, as acting attorney general of the United States after forcing the resignation of Jeff Sessions is unconstitutional. It’s illegal. And it means that anything Mr. Whitaker does, or tries to do, in that position is invalid.

Much of the commentary about Mr. Whitaker’s appointment has focused on all sorts of technical points about the Vacancies Reform Act and Justice Department succession statutes. But the flaw in the appointment of Mr. Whitaker, who was Mr. Sessions’s chief of staff at the Justice Department, runs much deeper. It defies one of the explicit checks and balances set out in the Constitution, a provision designed to protect us all against the centralization of government power.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump’s Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker panics and locks down his Twitter account after his scandals explode, Bill Palmer, Nov. 9, 2018. When it comes to Donald Trump, the only thing more consistent than his dirty scheming is the fact that he never bothers to do his homework before putting his schemes in motion.

We all know why he named Matthew Whitaker as his new Acting Attorney General: the guy has already said he thinks the Trump-Russia investigation should be shut down. But the part Trump missed, or doesn’t understand the importance of, is that Whitaker is a disaster in a thousand other ways.

It’s not just that Matthew Whitaker has gone on national television and pre-confessed to the obstruction of justice he intends to commit, making it much easier for the Democrats to build a case for forcing him to recuse himself. It’s that Whitaker is a complete train wreck in every way imaginable. For instance he was part of a scam company that was shut down by the Federal Trade Commission last year. That’s right, Trump’s own federal government has already busted Whitaker and branded him a criminal, but Trump doesn’t seem to know or care. It gets worse.

After Democratic political operative Adam Parkhomenko began exposing Matthew Whitaker’s older pro-Russia tweets yesterday, Whitaker hit the panic button and locked down his Twitter account so that the public couldn’t see any of his old tweets. Those who visited Whitaker’s account last night were greeted with this message: “This account’s Tweets are protected. Only confirmed followers have access to @MattWhitaker46’s Tweets and complete profile. Click the “Follow” button to send a follow request.”

If Matthew Whitaker has done this with the intention of deleting his scandalous older tweets, he’s going to be disappointed to learn that public internet archive services already have caches of his old tweets, and he can’t delete those. In any case, the Acting Attorney General of the United States just locked down his Twitter account because his scandals are exploding so severely. That’s beyond precedent. He just made it even easier for the Democrats to use his scandals to push him out of a job.

More on 2018 Elections

OpEdNews, Opinion: Ten Midterm Takeaways, Bob Burnett (Berkeley writer and previously one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems), Nov. 9, 2018. The results of the 2018 midterm election are in. Democrats achieved some, but not all, of their objectives. Here are ten takeaways from the November 6th results.

1. The Resistance worked.

2. Nonetheless, a lot of work remains to be done.

democratic donkey logo3. Big voter turnout didn't necessarily translate into wins. The New York Times estimates, "Approximately 114 million votes were cast in U.S. House races in 2018, compared to 83 million in 2014." A record 80 million voters participated in Senate contests -- not all states had a Senate race. Democrats cast 57 percent of the votes and still lost 3 seats.(!) Because Republicans turned out where they had to. For example, in Texas, Democrats had an excellent candidate, Beto O'Rourke, and Republicans had a loathsome candidate, Ted Cruz. Democrats turned out in record numbers -- more than 4 million voters -- but Cruz won (50.8 percent) because Republican voters also turned out.

Roll Call, Election Day +3: Here are the 13 House and 2 Senate Uncalled Races, Staff report, Nov. 9, 2018. Some races going to recounts, one is going to court. Three days after Election Day, two Senate and 13 House races remain uncalled, and if the 2000 presidential race is an indication, we could be waiting weeks for the outcome of one of those Senate races. A third race in the Senate will be decided later this month when Mississippi votes in a runoff for Tuesday’s top two finishers.

House Democrats have already passed the threshold for a majority that they haven’t held since 2010. Based on current projections, they could obtain as many as 234 seats — good for a 33-seat majority — though it is more likely they’ll land somewhere around 228 seats for a still-significant 21-seat margin.

In the Senate, the GOP flipped seats in Indiana, North Dakota and Missouri — states that President Donald Trump won by double digits in 2016 — over to their side.

Here are the races yet to be called by noon Friday that will determine the size of the Republicans’ majority in the Senate and the Democrats’ in the House:

Senate: Florida

bill nelsonThe race for the Senate seat in Florida has turned into a nasty battle of accusations as it is likely to go to a recount. After three terms in the upper chamber, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, right, conceded to Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott just after midnight Wednesday, but as the margin between the two narrowed later in the day Nelson called for a recount.

Scott and the National Republican Senatorial Committee sued Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes Thursday for failing to turn over information about ballots that have been counted. Scott also called for a Florida Department of Law Enforcement Investigation into Broward’s handling of ballots.

Trump accused Broward County officials with “finding votes out of nowhere” as he left the White House Friday morning for a trip to Paris for an Armistice Day celebration.

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Senate: Arizona

Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema holds a lead of less than a point over GOP Rep. Martha McSally with almost all precincts reporting. Absentee and provisional ballots will also add to the vote totals over the next few days.

Senate: Mississippi

The race for Mississippi’s junior Senate seat has been called, but there will not be a declared winner until a Nov. 27 runoff election. GOP Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and former Democratic Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy advanced to the runoff after Hyde-Smith failed to reach the 50 percent threshold for an outright victory. Republican Chris McDaniel siphoned off 16.4 percent of the vote from Hyde-Smith.

Press TV, U.S. midterm elections fallout, Guests: Michael Springmann (American Author and Attorney); Don DeBar (Activist and Commentator), Nov. 9, 2018 (21:59 mins.). Justice Integrity Project views cited at 11:58 min. mark.

carol miller west virginiaRoll Call, Meet Carol Miller. She Could Be the Only New Republican Woman Coming to Congress Next Year, Simone Pathé, Nov. 9, 2018. Among the 33 new women elected to the House this week, only one is a Republican.

Carol Miller, right, the majority whip in the West Virginia state House and daughter of a former Ohio congressman, won the Mountain State’s 3rd District seat Tuesday night, defeating Democratic state Sen. Richard Ojeda.

Although she’s replacing a man (GOP Rep. Evan Jenkins didn’t run for re-election) Miller is joining a Republican conference with significantly fewer women than the current Congress.

Indonesian Air Disaster

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: From 5,000 Feet to Shattered in Seconds: What Caused a Jet’s Fatal Plunge? Hannah Beech and Keith Bradsher, Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). The final moments of Lion Air Flight 610 as it hurtled from a calm Indonesian sky into the sea on Oct. 29 would have been terrifying but swift. What appears to have been a perfect storm of problems may have left the pilots with an insurmountable challenge, investigators have found.

indonesia flagThe final moments of Lion Air Flight 610 as it hurtled soon after dawn from a calm Indonesian sky into the waters of the Java Sea would have been terrifying but swift.

The single-aisle Boeing aircraft, assembled in Washington State and delivered to Lion Air less than three months ago, appears to have plummeted nose-first into the water, its advanced jet engines racing the plane toward the waves at as much as 400 m.p.h. in less than a minute.

The aircraft slammed into the sea with such force that some metal fittings aboard were reduced to powder, and the aircraft’s flight data recorder tore loose from its armored box, propelled into the muddy seabed.

Animal Rights - Gambling

ny times logoNew York Times, Thousands of Greyhounds May Need Homes as Florida Bans Racing, Audra D. S. Burch and Christina Caron, Nov. 9, 2018. Florida’s newly passed ban on greyhound racing will leave thousands of dogs homeless. Groups on both sides of the amendment will work to find homes.

Animal activists have been trying for years to put an end to greyhound racing in Florida, one of the country’s most popular spots to watch dogs chase mechanical rabbits round and round a track. In their view, the greyhounds were mistreated, subjected to harsh living conditions, then retired with broken bones.

On Tuesday, voters overwhelmingly backed a measure that set greyhound lovers scrambling in a new direction: finding new homes for thousands of dogs with no clear future.

Amendment 13, which proposed banning racing by the end of 2020 and hardened the battle lines between greyhound track owners and animal advocates, passed with 69 percent of the vote.

The industry has long been criticized as abusive to the dogs. Track owners and trainers pushed back, saying the dogs were well cared for and would not race if they were unhealthy or neglected.

But as Florida is home to 11 of the nation’s 17 active dog tracks, there is a concern that the networks of people who find new owners for dogs at the end of their short racing careers will be overwhelmed.

#MeToo In High-Tech

ny times logofacebook logoNew York Times, Facebook to Drop Forced Arbitration in Harassment Cases, Daisuke Wakabayashi and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Nov. 9, 2018. Facebook said on Friday that it would no longer force employees to settle sexual harassment claims in private arbitration, making it the latest technology company to do away with a practice that critics say has stacked the deck against victims of harassment.

Facebook acted one day after Google announced similar plans. Last week, 20,000 Google employees staged a walkout from the company’s offices around the world to demand that it change the way it handled sexual harassment incidents. Microsoft changed its arbitration policy about a year ago, as did the ride-hailing company Uber six months ago.

Nov. 8

Election Follow-ups

washington post logoWashington Post, Questions of uncounted ballots remain in gubernatorial races in Georgia, Florida, Elise Viebeck, Nov. 8, 2018. Republican Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state, claimed victory and submitted his resignation from that office, even though his race against Democrat Stacey Abrams had not been called.

In Florida, Democrat Andrew Gillum appeared to back off his election-night concession to Republican Ron DeSantis, citing reports of uncounted ballots. See also, Washington Post, Senate, governor's races in Florida pull into recount range.

washington post logoWashington Post, Once in majority, House Democrats plan quick vote to protect coverage for those with preexisting conditions, Erica Werner​, Nov. 8, 2018. The vote would follow up Democrats’ successful midterms strategy of focusing on health care and attacking Republicans relentlessly over their attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Whitaker Helped Promote Scam Company

washington post logoWashington Post, New acting attorney general once promoted a company accused of deceiving clients, Carol D. Leonnig, Rosalind S. Helderman and Robert O'Harrow Jr.​, Nov. 8, 2018. Former customers of World Patent Marketing expressed dismay at Matthew G. Whitaker’s appointment to lead the Justice Department for now.

matthew whitaker screengrabWhen federal investigators were digging into an invention-promotion company accused of fraud by customers, they sought information in 2017 from a prominent member of the company’s advisory board, according to two people familiar with the probe: Matthew G. Whitaker, a former U.S. attorney in Iowa (shown in a screen shot).

ftc logoIt is unclear how Whitaker — who was appointed acting attorney general by President Trump on Wednesday — responded to a Federal Trade Commission subpoena to his law firm.

In the end, the FTC filed a complaint against Miami-based World Patent Marketing, accusing it of misleading investors and falsely promising that it would help them patent and profit from their inventions, according to court filings.

In May of this year, a federal court in Florida ordered the company to pay a settlement of more than $25 million and close up shop, records show. The company did not admit or deny wrongdoing.

New Insights On Mueller Probe

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC, Conservative Scholars Dispute Whitaker appointment, expert guests, Nov. 8, 2018. At least two prominent conservative scholars disputed President Trump's power to promote Justice Department Chief of Staff Matthew Whitaker to the post of acting attorney general without senate confirmation.

Those scholars are University of California at Berkeley Law School professor John Yoo, a high-level Justice Department appointee during the George W. Bush presidency, and Fox News commentator and former New Jersey state court judge Andrew Napolitano.

Their views were reported by several MSNBC hosts, among others, who separately quoted guest Neal Katyal as saying many individuals would have "standing" before the courts to challenge Whitaker's powers, particularly if Whitaker seeks to thwart Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of the Trump Administration.

Host Lawrence O'Donnell, formerly a longtime Democratic staffer for the U.S. Senate, also warned that Whitaker could be liable for the obstruction of justice charges that have a five-year statute of limitations that could extend into a Democratic administration.

In related news, a member of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team told a federal appeals panel how newly appointed Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is now kept informed of the special counsel's work and can affect major decisions.

Prosecutor Michael Dreeden made the comments in response to questions from a three-judge panel hearing arguments from Andrew Miller, a reluctant witness before the special counsel's grand jury probe into the activities of GOP consultant Roger Stone. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow reported on the comments. The events were at the federal courthouse in Washington, DC. The Justice Integrity Project visited the courthouse vicinity based on a tip advising of unusual activity at the courthouse.

ny times logoNew York Times, Acting Attorney General Once Declared Courts ‘the Inferior Branch,’ Nov. 8, 2018. The newly installed head of the Justice Department, Matthew G. Whitaker, also criticized the Supreme Court’s power to review legislative and executive acts. In a Q. and A. in 2014, Mr. Whitaker espoused views that a constitutional scholar called “internally contradictory” and “ignorant.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Commentary: Matthew Whitaker has experience advising con artists. Will he help more under Trump? Catherine Rampell, Nov. 8, 2018. Many assume Matthew G. Whitaker was chosen as acting attorney general because he criticized the Russia probe, said he would have indicted Hillary Clinton and otherwise looks like a die-hard Trump loyalist.

But maybe Whitaker really was picked because he has experience advising con artists.

Whitaker, after all, was involved with a Miami-based firm that federal regulators shut down last year as an alleged scam. The firm, World Patent Marketing, promised aspiring inventors that it would patent and market their brainchildren, based on what a 17-page Federal Trade Commission complaint characterized as bogus “success stories” and other false claims.

Among the many, many ways this company hoodwinked customers, according to the FTC complaint: It claimed its customers’ inventions were sold in “big box” stores such as Walmart and Target, when in fact none were; it claimed it owned a manufacturing plant in China, though no such plant existed; and it said its board of advisers (“Invention Team Advisory Board”) personally reviewed customers’ invention ideas, when the board did no such thing.

The company allegedly bilked some customers out of their life savings and threw others deeply into debt; a Miami New Times exposé found that some had lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. In return, the company “provided almost no service,” according to the FTC.

Just as bad, when customers complained or asked for refunds, the FTC said, the company resorted to threats and intimidation.

Sometimes this involved ominous references to World Patent Marketing’s “intimidating security team, all ex-Israeli Special Ops and trained in Krav Maga, one of the most deadly of the martial arts.”

Mostly, the message came from lawyers. Including Whitaker.

Whitaker was on the World Patent Marketing’s “Invention Team Advisory Board” — yes, that body the FTC said was falsely advertised as reviewing customers’ creations. The company touted Whitaker’s credentials as a former U.S. attorney and Republican Senate candidate. Whitaker publicly vouched for the firm in promotional materials.

Investigator's Report Announced

wayne madsen trumps bananas coverWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigation: General release of Trump-Mafia collusion Road Map, Wayne Madsen (syndicated columnist, author of 16 books, including the recent Trump's Bananas Republic, and former Navy intelligence officer), Nov. 8, 2018 (Most WMR columns are subscription only but this article is available to the general public.)

Since WMR began developing and maintaining the "Trump-Mafia collusion Road Map" in 2017, it has been WMR's intention to release it to the general public the moment Donald Trump made a hostile move on the Department of Justice and specifically, Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Sessions — who was recused from overseeing the collusion investigation of Trump's and his family's criminal foreign entanglements — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller are all being targeted by Trump and his criminal associates in an attempt to hide the Trump Organization's close connections to and involvement with major international criminal networks.

The Trump-Mafia Road Map illustrates the myriad nature of Trump's criminal enterprises. Due to its size and compression, the .PDF file [download here] must be expanded by at least 400 times, using a .PDF viewer, for proper reading and scrolling.

sam clovis fox news CustomOn November 7, Trump fired Sessions, removed Rosenstein from overseeing Mueller's investigation, and named, as acting Attorney General, the Attorney General's chief of staff Matt Whitaker, a GOP operative from Iowa and a close friend and political associate of Sam Clovis, left, a Trump campaign official and a witness called before a grand jury empanelled by Mueller.

This "Wednesday afternoon massacre" was the first step toward Trump's shutting down the important work of Mueller and his team of investigators.

There is an inter-active version of the Road Map. It contains side notes and other relevant information. It can be accessed by clicking here. If you choose this viewing method, be prepared for very long load times. This is a massive document. Your device may freeze during accessing. We are, therefore, recommending only downloading the PDF document.

djt roy cohn mob clients carmine galante john gotti tony salerno1533348924301

More On Trump Probes

washington post logoWashington Post, Acting attorney general said to have no plans to recuse from Russia probe, Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky and Josh Dawsey​, Nov. 8, 2018. Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker has no intention of recusing himself from overseeing the special counsel probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to people close to him who added they do not believe he would approve any subpoena of President Trump as part of that investigation.

matthew whitaker agSince stepping into his new role on Wednesday, Whitaker (left) has faced questions — principally from Democrats — about whether he should recuse from the Russia investigation, given that he has written opinion pieces in the past about the investigation, and is a friend and political ally of a witness.

On Thursday, two people close to Whitaker said he has no intention of taking himself off the Russia case.

Ethics officials at the Justice Department are likely to review his past work to see if he has any financial or personal conflicts. In many instances, that office does not require a Justice Department official to recuse, but suggests a course of action. In the past, senior Justice Department officials tend to follow such advice, but they are rarely required to do so, according to officials familiar with the process.

Reuters via New York Times, Whitaker’s Friendship With Trump Aide Reignites Recusal Debate, Staff report, Nov. 8, 2018.  President Donald Trump's pick for acting attorney general, Matt Whitaker, is a close friend of Trump's 2016 election campaign co-chair, and a former government ethics chief said the friendship makes Whitaker unable to oversee impartially a politically charged investigation into the campaign.

Matthew Whitaker, named on Wednesday to replace Jeff Sessions, will directly oversee Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation into possible links between Trump's campaign team and Russian officials.

Whitaker publicly criticized Mueller’s investigation before he was hired as Sessions’ chief of staff last year.

walter shaubSam Clovis, who was co-chair of Trump's 2016 campaign and has testified before the grand jury in the Mueller investigation, said he and Whitaker became good friends when they ran against each other as Republicans in a 2014 Senate primary campaign in Iowa. Whitaker also later served as the chairman of a Clovis campaign for state treasurer.

Walter Shaub, right, who was director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics for four years before resigning in July 2017, said the friendship between Whitaker and Clovis should disqualify Whitaker from supervising the Mueller investigation.

Palmer Report, Analysis, Buzz says Donald Trump Jr is on the verge of arrest, Bill Palmer, Nov. 8, 2018. Yesterday, Donald Trump made the too little, too late move of firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions after Special Counsel Robert Mueller had by all accounts already reached the finish line of his investigation. The question was why the usually-tepid Trump pulled the trigger at all. Now there’s suddenly buzz everywhere that Donald Trump Jr is on the verge of arrest. This is bolstered by the fact that one of the people making this assertion is Junior himself.

Donald Trump Jr has been running around telling people that he thinks he’s going to get indicted soon, according to New York Magazine and Politico. But this report is just the start of it. Now the Democratic Coalition has just announced that according to its sources, Junior’s arrest is “imminent.” Other usually-reliable pundits are floating the same thing. But really, this comes back to Junior’s own claim that he’s about to get popped – and yes, there are ways he could know it’s about to happen.

For instance, Robert Mueller’s people told Paul Manafort in advance that he was about to be indicted and arrested, in the hope of convincing him to cut a plea deal. It’s not quite as clear why Mueller would give Donald Trump Jr an advance heads-up, as he’s not going to flip on his father, at least not right away. That said, if Mueller has hauled Junior’s associates before a grand jury, they could have tipped him off about how far Mueller has progressed.

There are a couple key things to keep in mind here. We don’t know if Robert Mueller is planning to nail Donald Trump Jr for Trump-Russia collusion right out of the gate, or if he might initially have someone like SDNY nail Junior on more-easily-proven financial crimes instead. If Mueller hands it off, that would help circumvent any potential complications raised by Jeff Sessions’ recent firing. Also, if Junior is about to be arrested, it would mean he’s already been indicted, and it’s under seal. Stay tuned.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: This is what the firing of Mr. Sessions could mean for the Russia investigation, Charlie Savage, Nov. 8, 2018 (print edition). President Trump’s decision to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and appoint Mr. Sessions’s former chief of staff, Matthew G. Whitaker, as the acting head of the Justice Department immediately raised questions about what the move means for Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel leading the Russia investigation.

What does this mean for the Mueller investigation?

The shake-up means that Mr. Whitaker assumes oversight of the inquiry from Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general.

jeff sessions ag oMr. Sessions, left, recused himself from overseeing cases arising from the 2016 election, citing his role as an active Trump supporter, so Mr. Rosenstein has been serving as acting attorney general for the investigation into whether any Trump associates conspired with Russia’s election interference and whether Mr. Trump obstructed the inquiry itself. He appointed Mr. Mueller as special counsel.

But because Mr. Whitaker is not recused from overseeing cases arising from the 2016 election, as Mr. Sessions was, he takes over the case. Mr. Rosenstein goes back to his day job overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Justice Department.

ny times logoNew York Times, Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker Once Criticized Supreme Court’s Power, Charlie Savage, Nov. 8, 2018. The acting attorney general, Matthew G. Whitaker, once espoused the view that the courts “are supposed to be the inferior branch” and criticized the Supreme Court’s power to review legislative and executive acts and declare them unconstitutional, the lifeblood of its existence as a coequal branch of government.

In a Q. and A. when he sought the Republican nomination for senator in Iowa in 2014, Mr. Whitaker indicated that he shared the belief among some conservatives that the federal judiciary has too much power over public policy. He criticized many of the Supreme Court’s rulings, beginning with a foundational one: Marbury v. Madison, which established its power of judicial review in 1803.

“There are so many” bad rulings, Mr. Whitaker said. “I would start with the idea of Marbury v. Madison. That’s probably a good place to start and the way it’s looked at the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of constitutional issues.”

The interview was among evidence that shed new light on Mr. Whitaker’s views, including disparagement of the Russia investigation, which he now oversees, and an expansive view of presidential power. Congressional aides, journalists and other observers scoured his record after Mr. Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday and replaced him with Mr. Whitaker, instantly raising questions about whether the president wanted a loyalist in charge at the Justice Department with the power to end the Russia investigation.

Groups throughout the nation marched on Thursday to support the inquiry of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, and to protest Mr. Whitaker’s appointment. Thousands demonstrated in dozens of cities, including in Washington, Philadelphia, Omaha and Salt Lake City.

In New York, about 4,000 people marched from Times Square to Union Square, the police said. Protesters held signs and chanted “Trump is not above the law.” On Twitter, #ProtectMueller was trending.

Palmer Report, Donald Trump’s new Acting Attorney General stooge Matthew Whitaker is already crashing and burning, Bill Palmer, Nov. 8, 2018. After he fired Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump could have picked just about anyone to be his new Acting Attorney General. Trump has any number of loyal stooges who would be willing to do his corrupt bidding in this role. But as it turns out, Trump – true to form – picked the one guy who is already crashing and burning in real time.

matthew whitakerThe key to secretly putting your own corrupt stooge in power is to make sure it’s actually a secret. Donald Trump, who becomes more divorced from reality by the hour, doesn’t appear to understand that concept. Of all the stooges available, Trump chose Matthew Whitaker, right, – a guy who has spent the past several months flat out admitting on television and in writing that he thinks Trump should be shielded from any attempt at investigation.

If Trump had picked anyone else as Acting Attorney General, House Democrats would have had to wait for that person to actually commit obstruction of justice, and get caught doing it, before they’d be able to make any headway in forcing that person out. But because Matthew Whitaker has already publicly and repeatedly pre-confessed his intent to commit obstruction on Trump’s behalf, the Democrats can immediately make headway in taking this guy down.

In fact Nancy Pelosi is already calling for Matthew Whitaker to recuse himself. Will it happen? We’ll see. Keep in mind that Donald Trump installed Jeff Sessions as Attorney General specifically to protect himself in the Trump-Russia investigation, yet as soon as Sessions found himself facing potential criminal culpability of his own, he quickly recused himself. Whitaker is already crashing and burning; we’ll see how bad it gets for him.

ny times logoRobert Mueller (FBI Official Photo)New York Times, Opinion: Mueller Was Running on Borrowed Time. Has It Run Out? Editorial Board, Nov. 8, 2018. The president seems to want a lawman he can control. Robert Mueller (shown in a file photo), the special counsel, always knew he was running the Russia investigation on borrowed time. That time may have just run out on Wednesday afternoon, when President Trump ousted his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, less than 24 hours after Republicans lost their eight-year lock on the House of Representatives.

So who’s going to protect Mr. Mueller now?

rod rosenstein indict russians 7 13 2018 screeengrabUntil Wednesday, the job was being performed ably by Rod Rosenstein (shown in a screengrab), the deputy attorney general who assumed oversight of the Russia investigation when Mr. Sessions recused himself in March 2017.

Under Mr. Rosenstein’s leadership, the investigation Mr. Mueller took over has resulted in the felony conviction of the president’s former campaign chairman, guilty pleas from multiple other top Trump aides and associates and the indictments of dozens of Russian government operatives for interfering in the 2016 election. For more than a year, Mr. Rosenstein walked a political tightrope, guarding Mr. Mueller’s independence on the one hand while trying to appease Mr. Trump’s increasingly meddlesome demands on the other.

The good news is that no one, including Mr. Whitaker, can stop the multiple prosecutions or litigation already in progress — including the cooperation of Paul Manafort; the sentencing of Michael Flynn; or the continuing investigation of Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump's former lawyer, and the Trump Organization by federal prosecutors in New York. The courts will have the final say on what happens in each of those cases.

Mass Shooting Near L.A.

ny times logoNew York Times, Many Who Fled California Attack Were Survivors of Las Vegas Massacre, Jose A. Del Real, Jennifer Medina and Tim Arango, Nov. 8, 2018. Country music was blaring and beer was flowing. The Lakers game was on the television, and if revelers weren’t line dancing they were playing pool. Then all of a sudden, into “College Country Night!” at the Borderline Bar & Grill stepped a man with a gun.

Wearing dark clothing and a dark baseball cap, he set off smoke bombs to create confusion. He shot a security guard at the entrance and then opened fire into the crowd. Patrons dropped to the ground, dashed under tables, hid in the bathroom and ran for exits, stepping over bodies sprawled across the floor.

And as they raced for safety, many of them thought, Not again.

Just last year, they had fled the same chaos — gunshots, bodies falling — in Las Vegas, at a country music festival where 58 people were killed in the worst mass shooting in modern American history. The Borderline, a popular hangout for country music fans, had become a place of solace for dozens of survivors of the Vegas massacre to come together for music, for healing and for remembering — “to celebrate life,” in the words of one.

And now, at least some of them belong to a group that seems uniquely American: survivors of two mass shootings.

“This is the second time in about a year and a month that this has happened,” Nicholas Champion, a fitness trainer from Southern California who posted a group photo on Facebook of Vegas survivors gathering at the Borderline in April, said in a television interview. “I was at the Las Vegas Route 91 mass shooting as well as probably 50 or 60 others who were in the building at the same time as me tonight.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Gunman Kills at Least 12 at California Bar, Jose A. Del Real, Gerry Mullany and Russell Goldman, Nov. 8, 2018. At least 11 bar patrons and a sheriff’s deputy, Ron Helus, shown at right, died late Wednesday in a shooting at a country and western dance hall in Thousand Oaks, Calif. The gunman is dead, officials said early Thursday. The bar had been holding an event for college students.

ron helus croppedThe shooting came just over a year after 58 people were killed at a country music festival in Las Vegas when a gunman opened fire from a high-rise hotel room. There was an eerie parallel between the two shootings as some of the same people who emerged from the bar, the Borderline Bar & Grill, described having survived the shooting on the Las Vegas Strip.

Witnesses recalled a chaotic scene at the bar, which was filled with hundreds of people, many of them college students: A gunman opening fire, first at a security guard, as patrons dropped to the dance floor, hid under tables and broke windows to escape. When other law enforcement officers arrived the gunman was already dead.

Helus, was described as a hero who was approaching retirement after a long career but who stepped forward in the crisis and saved many lives.

Experts said it was No. 307 in a count of "mass shootings" so far this year, as calculated by events where four or more persons were shot, with a total of 328 deaths..

ny times logoNew York Times, Commentary: How the N.R.A. Builds Loyalty and Fanaticism, Nicholas Kristof, Sahil Chinoy and Jessia Ma, Nov. 8, 2018. The evolution of the N.R.A.’s magazine shows that a group once about hunting and sports has transformed itself into a far-right political organization.

nra logo CustomAnother needless tragedy in America: This time a gunman opened fire in a bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif., killing at least 12 people and injuring many more.

These horrors happen far more often in America than in other advanced countries partly because of the outsize political influence of the National Rifle Association. N.R.A. candidates suffered some important defeats in Tuesday’s midterm elections, but in a broad swath of red state America it remains potent, controlling politicians who know that an N.R.A. endorsement can make or break an election.

It is not the richest interest group. The National Association of Realtors has spent twice as much in the 2018 federal election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

It is not the largest interest group. It claims about six million members (probably an exaggeration); AARP has more than six times that number.

But the N.R.A. attracts incredible loyalty from its members. “That’s the critical thing people miss,” said Robert Spitzer, a political scientist at SUNY Cortland and the author of five books on gun policy. He said that the group combines a shared pastime with “ideological fervor.”

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Bars Immigrants Who Cross Border Illegally From Seeking Asylum, Michael D. Shear, Nov. 8, 2018. The Trump administration announced new immigration rules on Thursday that give President Trump vast new authority to deny asylum to virtually any migrant who crosses the border illegally, invoking national security powers meant to protect the United States against threats from abroad.

djt gage skidmore2 cpacOfficials declined to say who will be affected, but they indicated that the president will issue a proclamation on Friday. It is widely expected inside the government and by migrant advocates that Mr. Trump (shown in a Gage Skidmore portrait) intends to deny asylum to members of Central American nations, some of whom are marching toward the United States in a caravan.

Administration officials said the new regulations — which draw upon the same authority that Mr. Trump used to ban travel from predominantly Muslim countries only days after his inauguration — give the president, and his successors, new power to deny asylum to any group of immigrants who cross the border illegally.

That assertion is certain to be challenged in court. Immigration advocates said it violates longstanding federal asylum law that is meant to judge each person’s asylum claim on its own merits. And they said the new rules conflict with treaties in which the United States pledged to accept asylum claims from migrants.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House shares doctored video to support punishment of journalist Jim Acosta, Drew Harwell​, Nov. 8, 2018. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Wednesday night shared a video of CNN reporter Jim Acosta that appeared to have been altered to make his actions at a news conference look more aggressive toward a White House intern.

jim acosta gage skidmore croppedThe edited video looks authentic: Acosta (shown in a file photo by Gage Skidmore) appeared to swiftly chop down on the arm of an aide as he held onto a microphone while questioning President Trump. But in the original video, Acosta’s arm appears to move only as a response to a tussle for the microphone. His statement, “Pardon me, ma’am,” is not included in the video Sanders shared.

Critics said that video — which sped up the movement of Acosta’s arms in a way that dramatically changed the journalist’s response — was deceptively edited to score political points. That edited video was first shared by Paul Joseph Watson, known for his conspiracy-theory videos on the far-right website Infowars.

Watson said he did not change the speed of the video and that claims he had altered it were a “brazen lie.” Watson, who did not immediately respond to requests for comment, told BuzzFeed he created the video by downloading an animated image from conservative news site Daily Wire, zooming in and saving it as a video — a conversion he says could have made it “look a tiny bit different.”

A frame-by-frame breakdown by Storyful, a social-media intelligence firm that verifies media content, found that the edited video included repeated frames that did not appear in the original footage. The repeated frames were shown only at the moment of contact and made Acosta’s arm movement look more exaggerated, said Shane Raymond, a journalist at Storyful.

Sanders’s tweet of the edited video, in which she said the White House would “not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video,” has at least 20,000 retweets and more than 2 million views. Watson’s video, posted two hours before, has been seen at least 740,000 times.

Watson wrote on Infowars that Acosta “clearly uses his left arm to physically resist/restrain the woman," and that he “overpowered her.” Infowars, whose conspiracy theories include the baseless claim that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax, was banned this year by Facebook, Google and Twitter for sharing offensive or threatening content.

Congress, Crime, Courts

linda sánchez oRoll Call, Rep. Linda Sánchez’s Husband Indicted for Theft of Federal Funds, Lindsey McPherson, Nov. 8, 2018. California Democrat dropped leadership bid citing “unexpected family matter.” Linda Sánchez, right, Withdraws From Democratic Caucus Chair Race. Cathy McMorris Rodgers Not Running for Leadership Hakeem Jeffries Enters Democratic Caucus Chair Race.

The “unexpected family matter” cited by California Rep. Linda T. Sánchez in withdrawing from the race for House Democratic Caucus chair relates to her husband, who was indicated on theft and conspiracy charges related to spending corporate money on personal trips, including some allegedly spent on Sánchez.

democratic donkey logo“Earlier today I learned that my husband is facing charges in Connecticut,” Sánchez said in a statement Thursday. “After careful consideration of the time and energy being in leadership demands, I have decided that my focus now needs to be on my son, my family, and my constituents in California.”

Sánchez, the current vice chairwoman of the Democratic Caucus, was expected to face fellow California Rep. Barbara Lee for the caucus chair position. New York Rep. Hakeem T. Jeffries joined the race earlier Thursday.

Sánchez’s husband, James Sullivan, was one of five individuals associated with the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Corporation indicted by a federal grand jury for spending more than $800,000 of the corporation’s money on personal trips.

The CMEEC is a cooperative public corporation that has membership agreements with Connecticut municipalities that allows the towns’ electric utilities to work together to furnish power to the combined areas. The CMEEC membership agreement requires excess revenues to be returned to the member towns to help keep electricity costs stable.

The indictment against Sullivan and his CMEEC colleagues, all of whom hold or have held board or executive positions, spent corporate money on trips to the Kentucky Derby in 2015 and 2016 and to a luxury golf resort in West Virginia in 2015.

They directed the funds used to pay for the trips from the CMEEC Margin account, without a vote of the board and written consent of the member towns as required by the membership agreement.

Justice Hurt In Fall

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospitalized With 3 Broken Ribs, Eileen Sullivan and Adam Liptak, Nov. 8, 2018. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court, shown in a file photo, was hospitalized on Thursday morning, with three broken ribs after falling in her office Wednesday evening, a spokeswoman said.

ruth bader ginsburg scotusJustice Ginsburg, 85, went home after her fall, but experienced discomfort over the night. She was admitted to George Washington University Hospital, where doctors found three broken ribs on her left side, Kathy Arberg, a Supreme Court spokeswoman, said in a statement.

The next sitting of the Supreme Court begins on Nov. 26, and Justice Ginsburg’s history suggests the injuries are not likely to keep her away. She broke two ribs in 2012, without missing work. And she returned to work quickly after undergoing a heart procedure in 2012. She is also a cancer survivor and returned to work less supreme court graphicthan three weeks after having surgery.

Even as Justice Ginsburg has shown she bounces back quickly from health setbacks, liberals have become jittery about how much more time she will be able to serve, particularly with the balance of the Supreme Court shifting to the right because of President Trump’s appointment of two conservative justices.

Update: She was reported released from the hospital on Nov. 9 and working from home.

More On U.S. Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, A Trump-Fueled ‘Wipeout’ for House Republicans in the Northeast, Shane Goldmacher and Nick Corasaniti, Nov. 8, 2018 (print edition).  Of the 60 congressional races on Tuesday in eight Northeastern states, including New York and New Jersey, not a single Republican is on pace to top 57 percent of the vote ballot. The party was poised to cede six seats — more than one-third of their overall total — and of the nine remaining Republican-held seats, two incumbents were leading with less than 50 percent of the vote.

republican elephant logoIn New Jersey, voters slashed the number of Republicans in Congress from five down to two, and possibly only one.

In New York, Democrats declared victory in three congressional races in President Trump’s home state, ejecting the last remaining Republican from New York City.

And in the six other states in the Northeast, the lone remaining Republican congressman, Representative Bruce Poliquin of Maine, was clinging to his seat on Wednesday, his fate to be decided by the second choices of third-party voters through ranked-choice voting.

“This was a wipeout for Republicans in the Northeast,” declared Christopher H. Shays, a former moderate Republican congressman from Connecticut who lost his own re-election a decade ago.

Associated Press via NBC News, Arizona GOP sues to limit mail-in ballots in Senate race, Staff report, Nov. 8, 2018. Republicans filed a lawsuit Wednesday night to challenge the way some Arizona counties count mail-in ballots as election officials began to slowly tally more than 600,000 outstanding votes in the narrow U.S. Senate race — a task that could take days.

kyrsten sinema oRepublican Rep. Martha McSally and Democratic Rep. Kyrstin Sinema (shown at right) were separated by a small fraction of the 1.7 million tabulated votes.

Breaking: NBC News reported the evening of Nov. 8 that new votes have put the Democratic candidate in the lead by nearly 10,000 votes, flipping a previously announced win by the Republican at at least temporarily, with hundreds of thousands of votes remaining to be counted.

About 75 percent of Arizona voters cast ballots by mail, but those ballots have to go through the laborious signature confirmation process, and only then can be opened and tabulated. If county recorders have issues verifying signatures they are allowed to ask voters to verify their identity.

The suit filed Wednesday by four county Republican parties alleges that the state's 15 county recorders don't follow a uniform standard for allowing voters to adjust problems with their mail-in ballots, and that two counties improperly allow those fixes after Election Day.

Democrats believe the uncounted urban ballots dropped off shortly before Election Day favors Sinema. The lawsuit is scheduled to be heard Friday, after the next release late Thursday of tallied ballots.

It's one window into the complexities of mail ballots and the so-called "late earlies" that arrive just before Election Day and regularly gum up the state's vote counting system. This election featured heavy statewide turnout of about 60 percent, more in line with a presidential election than a midterm — part of the reason county registrars were overloaded with uncounted ballots.

One candidate familiar with the long wait is McSally. It took The Associated Press 12 days to name her as the loser of her first congressional race in 2012 because the margin was so narrow and vote counting was slow. McSally's second and successful bid for the seat ended with a recount in December of 2014, more than one month after the election.

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP’s Kemp claims victory in Georgia governor’s race as Abrams declines to concede, Elise Viebeck​,​ Nov. 8, 2018. Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state, submitted his resignation from that office, though his race against Democrat Stacey Abrams has not been called. Voting rights advocates have accused Kemp of disenfranchising voters.Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp declared victory and resigned his state position on Thursday, though his race against Democrat Stacey Abrams remains unresolved.

brian kempAs Democrats accused Kemp (shown at right) of disenfranchising thousands of voters, Kemp convened a news conference where he said he had submitted his resignation as Georgia secretary of state, effective Thursday.

“We’re in court this morning still dealing with a lot of these quite honestly ridiculous lawsuits,” Kemp said. “We’re going to continue to fight that. The votes are not there for her.”

Abrams vowed to press on as election officials counted thousands of absentee and provisional ballots.

Kemp had 50.3 percent of the vote to Abrams’s 48.7 percent with 100 percent of precincts reporting as of Thursday morning, according to the Associated Press. Meanwhile, Democrats triumphed in one of Georgia’s tightest congressional races on Thursday after Republican Rep. Karen Handel conceded to anti-gun violence advocate Lucy McBath.

McBath will come to Congress as part of the House’s new Democratic majority. Her victory marked the party’s 29th pickup in the lower chamber, with several races still undecided, according to a tally by The Washington Post.

McBath was a first-time congressional candidate who jumped into the race at the last minute, citing February’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead. She became an activist after her 17-year-old son was fatally shot in 2012 by a man who had argued with the teen and his friends about loud music coming from their car.

White House Press Dispute

The Hill, Reporters accuse Sarah Sanders of sharing edited video of The Hill, Avery Anapol, Nov. 8, 2018. Trump to Acosta: CNN should be 'ashamed' of employing you. White House sarah huckabee sanderspress secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (shown in a file photo) is facing accusations that she shared an edited video of the exchange between CNN correspondent Jim Acosta and an administration aide at President Trump's post-midterm news conference on Wednesday.

Sanders shared the video on her official Twitter account to justify the White House's decision to revoke Acosta’s press credentials after his tense exchange with Trump:

We stand by our decision to revoke this individual’s hard pass. We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video.— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) 10:33 PM - Nov 7, 2018

Sanders cited Acosta’s interaction with the press aide as reason for suspending his “hard pass.”

During the press conference, the aide attempted to take a microphone away from Acosta as he questioned Trump, but he refused to let go. Video shows his arm brushing hers in the process.

But dozens of social media users, including several reporters and political analysts, said that the video Sanders shared zooms in on the moment of contact, and appears to have been sped up to make the moment appear more aggressive.

cnn logoMatt Dornic, CNN’s vice president of communications and digital partnerships, said it was “absolutely shameful” for Sanders to share the video. “History will not be kind to you,” Dornic tweeted. "Absolutely shameful, @PressSec. You released a doctored video - actual fake news. History will not be kind to you."

Sample comments:

  • This is a video that Infowars made. They sped it up so that it seems more violent than it is.— Nicole Goodkind (@NicoleGoodkind) 11:42 PM - Nov 7, 2018
  • 1) Took @PressSec Sarah Sanders' video of briefing 2) Tinted red and made transparent over CSPAN video 3) Red motion is when they doctored video speed 4) Sped up to make Jim Acosta's motion look like a chop 5) I've edited video for 15+ years 6) The White House doctored it— Rafael Shimunov (@rafaelshimunov) 3:34 AM - Nov 8, 2018.

Terror Threat Against CNN

benjamin craig matthews baxter countyArkansas Democrat-Gazette, Arkansan charged in threats to CNN, Baxter County man accused of 40 calls, Bill Bowden, Nov. 8, 2018. A Mountain Home man was arrested Tuesday, accused of making threatening telephone calls to CNN headquarters in Atlanta. Benjamin Craig Matthews, 39, made more than 40 threatening calls to CNN from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, according to a probable-cause affidavit filed in Baxter County Circuit Court.

cnn logoIn several calls, Matthews threatened a CNN journalist described in court documents as DL. In one call, according to the affidavit, Matthews asked the CNN switchboard operator, "Could I be directed to DL's dead body hanging from a tree?" In another call, Matthews spoke of "bloody pictures of DL cut up in small pieces, like the movie Saw," according to the affidavit from Sgt. Brad Hurst with the Baxter County sheriff's office.

CNN has been a consistent target of President Donald Trump.

Matthews' telephone records indicate that he had also made calls to MSNBC; U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.; U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.; attorney Michael Avenatti; Washington Speakers Bureau; and Planned Parenthood, "suggesting a pattern of harassment towards certain political affiliations," according to the affidavit.

Matthews has been charged with five counts of felony terroristic threatening, four counts of misdemeanor terroristic threatening and nine counts of harassing communications, which is a misdemeanor.

#MeToo Ruling On NY AG

ny times logoNew York Times, Schneiderman Will Not Face Criminal Charges in Abuse Complaints, Alan Feuer, Nov. 8, 2018. After a six-month investigation, prosecutors said Thursday that they would not pursue criminal charges against Eric T. Schneiderman, right, the former New York State attorney general who resigned in May after four women accused him of assaulting them.

eric schneiderman oThe decision not to file charges was announced in a statement issued by Madeline Singas, the Nassau County district attorney, who was asked by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to investigate the case shortly after Mr. Schneiderman left his post.

Ms. Singas said the women who accused Mr. Schneiderman of abuse were credible, but there were legal hurdles to bringing charges. She did not elaborate on those obstacles, except to say that some of the accusations were too old to pursue under state law.

Trump World

New York Observer, Rudy Giuliani Has Spent $286,000 on His Mistress in Six Months, According to his Wife, Davis Richardson, Nov. 8, 2018. According to his third wife, Judith Nathan, Rudy Giuliani, right, has two very expensive habits: Cigars and mistresses.

rudy giuliani recentCourt filings from the pair’s divorce proceedings in Manhattan claim Giuliani dolled out $286,536 to his mistress, Maria Rosa Ryan, over the last six months. The two began an affair earlier this year, prompting Nathan to file for divorce. Like Giuliani, Ryan is also married.

When President Trump’s attorney wasn’t bankrolling his affair, he was reportedly spending $447,938 on activities “for his own enjoyment” and $165,165 on travel, per NBC. Nathan also alleges Giuliani spent $12,012 on cigars and $7,131 on pens. All expenses are said to have occurred since April.

Yemen: Major Houthi Victory?

Al-Masdar News (AMS), Houthis cuts all supply lines to Saudi Coalition troops in Hodeidah, Leith Aboufadel, Nov. 8, 2018. The Houthis Movement scored an important advance on Thursday that resulted in the complete encirclement of the Saudi Coalition troops inside Hodeidah.

The Houthis released a statement this evening that said all Saudi Coalition troops inside of Hodeidah are now trapped after they cut all the supply lines to these fighters in the provincial capital. the Houthis said that at least 150 members of the pro-government forces had been killed over the last few days.

Furthermore, the Houthis managed to destroy another 17 military and technical vehicles that belonged to the Saudi Coalition forces in western Yemen. This latest news from Hodeidah comes just 48 hours after the Saudi Coalition forces broke through the frontline defenses of the Houthis at the provinc

Syrian War

SouthFront, In Special Operation: Syrian Army Frees Remaining Al-Suwayda Hostages From ISIS (Video), Staff report, Nov. 8, 2018. The Syrian Special Forces freed all the remaining al-Suwayda hostages from the ISIS hands during a special security operation in the eastern Homs countryside, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), which said:

syrian flag waving“In a heroic and precise operation, a group of heroes of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) clashed, in the area of Hamimah east of Palmyra, with a group of ISIS terrorists, who had abducted women and children from the governorate of al-Suwayda weeks ago … after fierce battle our heroes managed to free all the hostages and killed all the terrorists,”the SANA said in a short press release.

The state-run news agency didn’t provide further information about the special operation. However, Syrian pro-government activists believe that Russia Special Forces may have played a role in the supposed operation, especially that they were deployed in al-Suwayda earlier.

The hostages were abducted on July 25 during a brutal attack by ISIS terrorists on several villages in the eastern al-Suwayda countryside. Back then, more than 250 civilians and local fighters were killed.

Now when the hostages are freed, the SAA and its allies will be able to use all their fire power against the remaining terrorists in al-Safa.

Nov. 7

Sessions Resigns: Threat To Mueller?

washington post logoWashington Post, Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigns at Trump’s request, Devlin Barrett, Nov. 7, 2018. Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department on Oct. 26.

jeff sessions ag oAttorney General Jeff Sessions resigned on Wednesday at President Trump’s request, ending the tenure of a loyalist he soured on shortly after Sessions took office in 2017 because the former senator from Alabama had recused himself from oversight of the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Despite the tension with the White House, Sessions had described the position of top law enforcement officer as his dream job and he pursued his conservative agenda with gusto. But he also had to live with sometimes humiliating attacks from a president he couldn’t seem to please and the suspicions of career staff jeff sessions djt new york post front cover nov 7 2018 Smallmembers who feared the politicization of a Justice Department that prides itself on its independence.

Department veterans have expressed concerns that Trump’s repeated public attacks on Sessions, the Justice Department and the FBI could cause lasting damage to federal law enforcement.

Sessions, 71, was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump, and in many ways he had been the biggest supporter of the president’s policies on immigration, crime and law enforcement.

But all of those areas of agreement were overshadowed by the Russia investigation — specifically, Sessions’s recusal from the inquiry after it was revealed that he had met more than once with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the 2016 campaign even though he had said during his confirmation hearing that he had not met with any Russians.

Trump has never forgiven Sessions for that decision, which he regarded as an act of disloyalty that denied him the protection he thought he deserved from his attorney general. “I don’t have an attorney general,” he said in September.

washington post logoWashington Post, Sessions’s ouster throws future of special counsel probe into question, Rosalind S. Helderman, Matt Zapotosky and Carol D. Leonnig, Nov. 7, 2018. The new acting attorney general could sharply curtail Robert S. Mueller III’s authority or budget.

matthew whitakerTrump named as acting attorney general Matthew F. Whitaker, right, Session’s chief of staff, who as a legal commentator last year wrote that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III appeared to be taking his investigation too far.

A Justice Department official said Wednesday that Whitaker would assume final decision-making authority over the special counsel probe instead of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein.

Since last year, Rosenstein has overseen the investigation because Sessions, a key Trump surrogate in 2016, recused himself from dealing with matters involving the campaign. It wasn’t immediately clear what role, if any, Rosenstein may play in the probe going forward.

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC, Analyst: Sessions Replacement 'Worst Possible,' Katie Tur interview of Matthew Miller, Nov. 7, 2018. Former Obama Administration Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller said that President Trump's replacement of Attorney General Jeff Sessions with his replacement, Chief of Staff Matthew G. Whitaker is the "worst possible" choice

That's because, in Miller's view, a 2017 Whitaker opinion column for CNN described as improper any attempt by the ongoing investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller III to probe Trump's finances or the behavior of his family. Whitaker wrote that it would be a "red line" if Mueller extends the probe into matters not covered by the "four corners" of his initial appointment.

matthew whitaker cnn july 26 2017 don lemon SmallThat would presumably exclude Donald Trump Jr.'s 2016 campaign meeting at Trump Tower with Russian operatives to obtain dirt on rival presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. "I doubt if you could find any other person at the Justice Department" who has taken that position, Miller said. Whitaker is shown second from the left in a screenshot from a CNN interview on the topic by host Don Lemon, at far left, on July 26, 2017.

Miller said that the appointment poses a "red alert" to the continued viability of the Mueller investigation but would probably not result in Mueller's firing. Instead, Miller said, the Justice Department is likely to simply sit on any new Mueller findings and never approve major new indictments or forward any report to congressional authorities. Miller said it is a time for the public to think of taking to the streets in protest of new developments.

Sessions had been recused from supervision of the Mueller probe because of a Sessions conflict whereby some of his own activities. Deputy Attorney Gen. Rod Rosenstein had been supervising Mueller but that authority is now likely to transfer to Whitaker, who had been a Bush-appointed U.S. attorney for Iowa from 2004 to 2009.

Justice Department log circularTrump is now under investigation for, among other possible crimes, obstruction of justice for his firing of FBI director James Comey who was investigation allegations of election rigging in 2016 with Russian influence.

MSNBC analyst Robert Costa, a Washington Post reporter, said that Whitaker is a "hard-right" Republican partisan Costa observed years ago in Whitaker's unsuccessful campaign for a U.S. Senate seat in Iowa.

Another MSNBC analyst, former Justice Department executive Chuck Rosenberg, told host Nicole Wallace that the circumstances of Whitaker's appointment might be highly relevant to a Mueller obstruction of justice probe.

NBC analyst and author John Heilmann said that Trump has installed a "lackey" in Whitaker instead of the normal transition figure, Deputy Attorney Gen. Rod Rosenstein, and is rather clearly moving towards thwarting the Mueller probe, thereby prompting a possible constitutional crisis.

The potential crime at issue in the Mueller probe is "ten times worse" than President Richard Nixon's Watergate cover up, according to historian Michael Bechloss, who said that Nixon was covering up a burglary, whereas Mueller's core probe is about alleged interference by Russia into the 2016 presidential election of Trump. 

matthew whitaker 2012 campaign statement cspanDeSmog, Dark Money Paid New Trump Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s Salary for 3 Years, Sharon Kelly, Nov. 7, 2018.Today, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that Matthew G. Whitaker, who served as chief of staff for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, would replace his boss. Sessions was forced from office a day after the midterm elections, which were rough for climate and anti-fracking measures around the country.

Whitaker (shown in a C-SPAN screenshot as a Republican surrogate during the 2012 presidential campaign) was appointed as Session’s chief of staff on September 22, 2017. Before that, he served for three years as the executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), which describes itself as “a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas.”

FACT has come under fire for its own lack of transparency, with the Center for Responsive Politics calling attention to FACT’s funding, which in some years came entirely from DonorsTrust, an organization also known as the “Dark Money ATM of the Conservative Movement” and whose own donors include the notorious funders of climate denial, Charles and David Koch.

“In other words, an organization ‘dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency’ gets 100 percent of its funds from a group that exists mainly as a vehicle for donors to elude transparency,” the Center for Responsive Politics wrote in 2016.

In 2014, FACT received $600,000 from DonorsTrust — the only donation it reported that year, according to OpenSecrets.org. An additional $500,000 flowed from DonorsTrust to FACT in 2015. And in 2016, DonorsTrust gave $800,000 to FACT, tax records show, as well as two additional donations, one for $100,000 and another for $450,000. That $2.45 million represents virtually all of FACT's entire reported receipts for those years (except for a total of $456 from 2015 to 2016).

In 2016, Whitaker earned $402,000 as FACT’s director and president, according to the organization’s tax filings. That followed reported compensation from FACT for Whitaker of $63,000 in 2014, and $252,000 in 2015.

His work included advocacy for causes backed by the fossil fuel industry.

As FACT’s executive director, Whitaker sought documents from the Attorneys General United for Clean Power Coalition, alleging in a 2016 op-ed that the Coalition “launched a campaign to silence many public policy organizations and even individuals for their work challenging liberal views on climate change, as well as private companies like ExxonMobil.”

That coalition, representing attorneys general from 17 states, included Eric Schneiderman, then attorney general for New York state, Maura Healey of Massachusetts, and Claude Walker of the Virgin Islands, who were all reportedly investigating ExxonMobil for failing to disclose what it knew about climate change to its investors for decades.

Whitaker labeled the probe of ExxonMobil, which has funded climate denial efforts to the tune of at least $33 million, “both unconstitutional and unethical” — but it recently led to charges against the company.

barbara underwoodLast month, following three years of investigation, Schneiderman’s successor Barbara Underwood, left, filed a 91-page lawsuit alleging that ExxonMobil had engaged in four counts of fraud.

“Investors put their money and their trust in Exxon — which assured them of the long-term value of their shares, as the company claimed to be factoring the risk of increasing climate change regulation into its business decisions,” Underwood said in a statement, according to Courthouse News. “Instead, Exxon built a facade to deceive investors into believing that the company was managing the risks of climate change regulation to its business when, in fact, it was intentionally and systematically underestimating or ignoring them, contrary to its public representations.”

FACT has also come under fire for its right-wing partisan bent.

“It’s perhaps worth noting that although FACT describes itself as a ‘non-partisan ethics watchdog,’ its ethics complaints are targeted overwhelmingly (though not exclusively) at Democrats, and it is funded entirely by an anonymous trust fund (a so-called ‘pass-through) favored by ultra-wealthy conservative donors, including Charles Koch,” the Global Anti-Corruption Blog wrote in September of this year.

As Acting Attorney General, Whitaker will replace Jeff Sessions, described as a “climate change skeptic” by the Washington Post for saying on the floor of Congress in 2015 that “Carbon pollution is CO2, and that’s really not a pollutant; that’s a plant food, and it doesn’t harm anybody except that it might include temperature increases.”

The Department of Justice's Office of Public Affairs has not yet responded to questions about Whitaker and FACT sent by DeSmog.

U.S. Midterm Elections

Democratic-Republican Campaign logos

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats seize House as GOP expands Senate majority, Philip Rucker, Matt Viser, Elise Viebeck and Isaac Stanley-Becker, Nov. 7, 2018. Democrats leveraged fury with President Trump to capture the House on Tuesday after a hard-fought election that saw Republicans expand their majority in the Senate, a split verdict that set the stage for divided government and partisan conflict that will shape the rest of Trump’s first term.

The dramatic conclusion of the most expensive and consequential midterm in modern times fell short of delivering the sweeping repudiation of Trump wished for by Democrats and the “resistance” movement. But Democrats’ takeover in the House still portended serious changes in Washington, as the party prepared to block Trump’s agenda and investigate nancy pelosihis personal finances and potential ties to Russia.

“Thanks to you, tomorrow will be a new day in America,” said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), right, who is poised to reclaim the speaker’s gavel she lost eight years ago. The Democratic victory, she said, “is about restoring the Constitution’s checks and balances to the Trump administration,” as well as a check on Senate Republicans.

washington post logoWashington Post, Which House seats flipped, Staff report, Nov. 7, 2018. Democrats needed a net gain of 23 seats to win control of the House. Here's the result for each seat and how likely it was to flip, based on pre-race ratings from Cook Political Report.

washington post logoWashington Post, How to explain to someone living abroad that Democrats can have over 10 million more Senate votes and still lose, Rick Noack, Nov. 7, 2018. As Europeans woke up to the results of the 2018 midterm elections on Wednesday, their primary question — what next for a president who is so deeply unpopular here? — remained largely unanswered.

And while viewers here tried to make sense of the results, they repeatedly stumbled over two numbers: the total votes for Democratic and Republican Senate candidates. More than 45 million Americans voted for Democratic Senate candidates vs. about 33 million for Republican contenders, according to figures updated around 11 a.m. Eastern time Wednesday.

As the animated TV graphics clearly showed, though, it was Republicans who ended the night in control of the Senate — not the Democrats.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Winners and losers from election night 2018, Aaron Blake, Nov. 7, 2018. Democrats leveraged fury with President Trump to capture the House on Tuesday after a hard-fought election that saw Republicans expand their majority in the Senate, a split verdict that set the stage for divided government and partisan conflict that U.S. House logowill shape the rest of Trump’s first term.

The dramatic conclusion of the most expensive and consequential midterm in modern times fell short of delivering the sweeping repudiation of Trump wished for by Democrats and the “resistance” movement. But Democrats’ takeover in the House still portended serious changes in Washington, as the party prepared to block Trump’s agenda and investigate his personal finances and potential ties to Russia.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says he would take a ‘warlike posture’ if House Democrats investigate him, Philip Rucker and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 7, 2018. While President Trump vowed to work with the Democratic House majority on issues, he warned those efforts could stall if the party uses its subpoena power to investigate him or his administration.

President Trump threatened Wednesday to retaliate with a “warlike posture” should the new Democratic House majority use its subpoena power to launch investigations into his administration, warning that any probes would jeopardize prospects for bipartisan deals.

During a lengthy and at times combative White House news conference, Trump repeatedly praised Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), who could reclaim the speaker’s gavel she lost eight years ago, and said his chances of striking agreements on legislation were greater with a divided government.

“The election’s over,” Trump said. “Now everybody is in love.”

The president, who had demonized Democrats in apocalyptic terms and attacked Pelosi on the campaign trail, said he looked forward to working with her on “a beautiful bipartisan-type situation.” He said they could find common ground on rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, lowering the cost of prescription drugs and refashioning trade policy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Republicans retain control of Senate with candidates who embraced Trump, Sean Sullivan, Nov. 7, 2018. Republicans lost their most vulnerable Senate seat, in Nevada, but retained control of the chamber after victories by candidates who aligned closely with President Trump.

Republicans cemented control of the Senate for two more years Tuesday and positioned themselves for a more conservative majority, with victories by candidates who aligned closely with President Trump.

josh hawley missouriNorth Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer, Indiana businessman Mike Braun, and Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, left, all staunch Trump allies, won seats held by Democrats. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R), another Trump loyalist, defeated a popular former governor in Tennessee.

The results held implications for coming battles over the federal judiciary, trade, health care, government spending and immigration. Trump’s worldview is expected to be reflected strongly in those debates in the wake of Tuesday’s elections.

The outcomes also held significance for Trump himself. His administration could face an onslaught of investigations beginning next year. Democrats took over in the House. Some Democrats have even raised the possibility of impeachment. Senate Republicans could be Trump’s bulwark on Capitol Hill.

“I see two things,” said Jim Manley, a former top Democratic Senate aide, looking ahead. “A president unwilling to tone down his rhetoric, along with the Senate Republicans unwilling to break with him.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats flip at least 7 governorships, Tim Craig, Nov. 7, 2018. The party won contests in Wisconsin, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Illinois, Nevada and New Mexico. But the race was too close to call in Georgia.

andrew gillum oDemocrat Andrew Gillum, right, was defeated in his bid to become Florida’s first black governor Tuesday, but the party flipped at least seven governorships after voters rejected some Republican candidates in the Midwest and the Sun Belt, including in Wisconsin, Kansas and New Mexico.

At times choking up during a speech at Florida A&M University, Gillum conceded his race to Republican Ron DeSantis, who is closely associated with President Trump.

“I sincerely regret that I couldn’t bring it home for you,” he told his supporters.

Gillum performed relatively well in Florida’s cities and suburbs. But DeSantis won massive margins from Florida’s rural counties, underscoring the advantage Republicans continue to hold in statewide elections there.

“Throughout the campaign, I knew the only thing I could control was how hard I worked,” DeSantis said in his victory speech. “And although I was confident in achieving a victory, I was at peace knowing I worked as hard as I possibly could, and I left everything out on the field.”

Including Florida’s, the 36 gubernatorial races on state ballots offered examples of America’s cultural and ideological divides under Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: How Trump helped the Democrats and further divided the GOP, Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 7, 2018. This account is based on more than four dozen interviews with campaign strategists, White House advisers and others, on both sides of the aisle.

keith ellison o smallMinneapolis Star-Tribune, Keith Ellison defeats Doug Wardlow in Minnesota attorney general race, Stephen Montemayor, Nov. 7, 2018. Democratic U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison will be Minnesota’s next attorney general, defeating Republican Doug Wardlow after a bitter campaign marked by allegations of domestic abuse and an intense spotlight on both candidates’ pasts.

Ellison, right, helped deliver the DFL Party a sweep of the statewide elected offices and was met by a raucous room of supporters chanting his name at the party’s election night celebration in St. Paul. Ellison acknowledged the difficulty of the race but said his campaign persevered thanks to his supporters.

Ellison, who is also deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has risen to national political prominence since becoming the nation’s first Muslim congressman in 2006. In June, he surprised supporters by announcing that he would give up a safe Democratic House seat to pursue the Attorney General’s Office after Lori Swanson filed to run for governor. Ellison won the DFL Party’s primary just days after ex-girlfriend Karen Monahan alleged that he emotionally and physically abused her.

Ellison, 55, of Minneapolis, has denied Monahan’s claim, and an investigation commissioned by the DFL Party concluded that it could not substantiate the allegations. Republicans dismissed the investigation because the attorney who led the probe works for a law firm that has represented DFL Party interests.

The election promises to usher in a new era for an office led by Swanson since 2006. Ellison has said that he would approach the office as a tool to challenge certain Trump administration policies in court as other state attorneys general have since Donald Trump’s election.

Ellison said recently he would make as his “first legislative priority” safeguarding staff attorneys from being fired based on their politics — a proposal that was in direct response to a recording of Wardlow pledging to a group of Republican donors that he would purge the office of 42 DFL attorneys.

Before launching his campaign, Wardlow also worked for the national Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian nonprofit legal group behind numerous court challenges to same-sex marriage and transgender rights.

Probes of Trump Team

Roll Call, Here’s How a House Democratic Majority Might Protect Mueller If Trump Fires Him, Griffin Connolly, Nov 7, 2018. With power to investigate and subpoena, Democrats have options to protect special counsel.

House Democrats, with their new majority, will have an expansive new toolkit once they take control of the chamber on Jan. 3 to protect special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation — even if acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker decides to shut it down.

If President Donald Trump, through Whitaker or his full-time replacement, does indeed order Mueller to shutter his investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election, that would trigger a quick response from Democrats. In two months, they will wield the all-important power of subpoenaing officials.

Democrats’ first step would be to preserve evidence Mueller has collected over roughly the last year and a half so that the Trump administration doesn’t confiscate files and hide them.

With their new majority, Democrats could bypass Trump’s Justice Department, which has the authority to enforce or toss out congressional subpoenas, by subpoenaing Mueller himself to learn what he knows.

“Either [top House Intelligence Committee Democrat] Adam Schiff or Judiciary or Oversight or all three — I would imagine they’d do this jointly — would issue a subpoena for all the documents that Mueller had in possession at the time of his removal,” Bardella said. “It would have to be a subpoena because it’s classified information.”

Democrats could then essentially move the investigation under the jurisdiction of a congressional committee and hire Mueller, to see it through with full subpoena power. That assumes Mueller would be willing to effectively work for Democrats in a highly politicized role.

The Democrats could — and probably would — instead establish a select committee with Mueller or another hand-picked investigator as the committee’s chief counsel.

Trump appears to believe that a confrontational game of chicken with House Democrats can be a political point machine for him. That’s evident from the events of Wednesday, including the forced resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Trump’s combative press conference, and his tweets threatening political opponents with counter-investigations for conducting oversight of his administration.

“If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. “Two can play that game!”

But Democrats had a warning of their own for Trump: If you fire Mueller, we’re going to investigate the circumstances of that decision — you don’t want that.

By firing Mueller, Trump would potentially be laying himself a trap by opening his administration and Justice Department up to yet another investigation, this one a sweeping probe into the circumstances surrounding the decision to shut down the special counsel.

washington post logoWashington Post, With the midterms over, Mueller faces key decisions in Russia investigation, Rosalind S. Helderman, Matt Zapotosky and Carol D. Leonnig, Nov. 7, 2018.  robert mueller kit fox medill flickr croppedAmong the most pressing matters before the special counsel: a probe into longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone’s activities and ongoing negotiations for a presidential interview.

For more than seven weeks, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, shown in a file photo, has been silent.

FBI logoIn the run-up to Election Day, there were no indictments or public pronouncements by the special counsel’s office, in keeping with Justice Department guidelines that prosecutors should avoid taking steps that could be perceived as intending to influence the outcome of the vote.

With the midterm elections now over, Mueller faces key decision points in his 18-month-old investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign — a probe that has already led to charges against 32 people, including 26 Russians. Four aides to President Trump have pleaded guilty to various charges, most recently his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort in September.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Sees ‘Big Victory,’ and Threatens Democrats, Peter Baker and Eileen Sullivan, Nov. 7, 2018. The president vowed to retaliate if the new Democratic-controlled House investigates his finances and political dealings.

George W. Bush saw a “thumpin’.” Barack Obama saw a “shellacking.” Donald J. Trump sees a “Big Victory.” Never one to admit defeat, even in the face of a major setback, President Trump wasted little time on Wednesday morning trying to frame his party’s election losses as a win even though Democrats seized control of the House of Representatives.

President Donald Trump officialHis Tweet: "Received so many Congratulations from so many on our Big Victory last night, including from foreign nations (friends) that were waiting me out, and hoping, on Trade Deals. Now we can all get back to work and get things done!"

But even as he claimed victory, he quickly went on offense against the newly elected Democratic House, threatening to retaliate if the opposition uses its new subpoena power to investigate him for corruption and obstruction of justice in an early foreshadowing of the bitter partisan warfare that could dominate the next two years.

“If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level,” he wrote. “Two can play that game!”

Then, in a head-spinning pivot, Mr. Trump shortly afterward endorsed Representative Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, for House speaker and even volunteered Republican votes if she cannot muster enough in her own caucus.

“In all fairness, Nancy Pelosi deserves to be chosen Speaker of the House by the Democrats,” he wrote. “If they give her a hard time, perhaps we will add some Republican votes. She has earned this great honor!”

Whether he meant it as a gracious gesture or a tweak because he enjoys having Ms. Pelosi as a foil was not immediately clear.

While Bill Clinton, Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama expressed humility following major midterm losses in 1994, 2006 and 2010, Mr. Trump acted as if he had nothing to regret.

ny times logoNew York Times, Breaking Barriers, Letitia James Is Elected New York Attorney General, Jeffery C. Mays, Nov. 7, 2018 (print edition). Ms. James made history on three fronts and positioned herself at the forefront of America’s legal bulwark against the policies of President Trump.

letitia james public advocateLetitia James was overwhelmingly elected as the attorney general of New York on Tuesday, shattering a trio of racial and gender barriers and placing herself in position to be at the forefront of the country’s legal bulwark against the policies of President Trump.

With her victory over Republican nominee Keith H. Wofford, Ms. James, 60, right, the public advocate for New York City, becomes the first woman in New York to be elected as attorney general, the first African-American woman to be elected to statewide office and the first black person to serve as attorney general.

The victory follows a rugged political season that arose after the surprise resignation of former attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman, following charges that he physically abused multiple women. Ms. James will succeed Barbara D. Underwood, who was appointed by the State Legislature in May to complete Mr. Schneiderman’s term.

barbara underwoodMs. Underwood, left, already has dozens of cases pending against Mr. Trump, including an investigation into his charity and lawsuits to stop immigrant families from being separated at the border and to block the rollback of net neutrality and environmental regulations.

In her victory speech in Brooklyn, Ms. James vowed to continue the office’s scrutiny of the president. “He should know that we here in New York — and I, in particular — we are not scared of you,” she said. “And as the next attorney general of his home state, I will be shining a bright light into every dark corner of his real estate dealings, and every dealing, demanding truthfulness at every turn.”

Ms. James has said she will continue cases such as the lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, which the state charges has misled the public about the dangers of OxyContin. She also said she intends to name a public ethics counsel, pursue criminal justice reform and push for the power to bring corruption cases independent of the governor’s office.

Newsmaking Results

Roll Call, Rosen’s Win in Nevada One Bright Spot for Senate Democrats, Bridget Bowman, Nov. 7, 2018. Silver State is so far the first Senate seat Democrats have flipped. Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen won the Nevada Senate race Tuesday, defeating GOP Sen. Dean Heller in one of the most hotly contested races of the cycle. Rosen’s victory was a rare piece of good news for Democrats on a night when Republicans decisively retained control of the chamber.

jacky rosenWith 78 percent of precincts reporting, Rosen, left, led Heller 51 percent to 45 percent when The Associated Press called the race.

Heller was a top target for Democrats, who had a narrow path to flipping the chamber, defending nearly three times as many Senate seats as Republicans this year. Heller, who prior to Tuesday had never lost an election, had consistently ranked among the most vulnerable Senate incumbents as the only Republican running in a state that backed Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Roll Call, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin Stays Put in Trump Country, Simone Pathé, Nov. 7, 2018 (print edition). Embattled Democrat played up his willingness to work with the president and buck his own party

heidi heitkamp kevin cramerRoll Call, Heidi Heitkamp’s Loss Cements North Dakota’s Shift to the Right, Bridget Bowman, Nov. 7, 2018 (print edition). Kevin Cramer unseated Heidi Heitkamp in the North Dakota Senate race, defeating the last remaining Democrat to hold statewide office. With 68 percent of precincts reporting, Cramer led Heitkamp 58 percent to 42 percent when The Associated Press called the race. They are shown at right in official photos.

Roll Call, Hawley Beats McCaskill in Missouri After Stressing Supreme Court Fight, Bridget Bowman, Nov. 7, 2018 (print edition). Republicans believe Kavanaugh battle helped energize their voters.

Roll Call, Democrats Score Oklahoma Upset Despite Deep-Red Struggles, Bridget Bowman, Nov. 7, 2018. As Democrats struggled in deep red districts Tuesday night, Kendra Horn pulled off a surprise upset in Oklahoma. She defeated Republican Rep. Steve Russell in the 5th District, which includes Oklahoma City.

democratic donkey logoPresident Donald Trump won Russell’s district by nearly 14 points in 2016, and the race wasn’t considered a potential Democratic pickup. Russell, who was first elected in 2014, did not communicate to the National Republican Congressional Committee that he was in any trouble, according to a source with knowledge of the conversations. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Horn defeated Russell 51 percent to 49 percent, according to The Associated Press.

beto o rourke ted cruz

republican elephant logoRoll Call, Cruz Defeats O’Rourke, Dashing Democratic Hopes in Texas, Bridget Bowman, Nov. 7, 2018. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, above right, won a second term Tuesday night, beating back a spirited challenge from Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, above left, in one of the most closely watched contests of the cycle. Cruz’s victory comes after O’Rourke had shattered fundraising records in his high-profile challenge, and could dampen Democratic hopes that the Lonestar State is shifting in their direction.

Roll Call, Polis Makes Another Bit of History With Governor Win, Alex Gangitano, Nov. 7, 2018. Colorado congressman becomes first openly gay chief executive of a state. Democratic Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado made history Tuesday when he was elected the nation’s first openly gay governor.

The five-term congressman announced in June 11 2017 that he would be retiring from the House to run for governor. He beat Republican Walker Stapelton to replace term-limited Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper. The win is another milestone in the 43-year-old Polis’ barrier-breaking career. He was the first openly gay man elected to Congress as a non-incumbent.

Salt Lake Tribune, ‘Love gave me no love’: President Trump slams Utah Rep. Mia Love in post-election news conference, says she lost, Benjamin Wood, Nov. 7, 2018. President Donald Trump praised Republicans for expanding their majority in the Senate on Wednesday, while offering harsh criticism to GOP House members — including Utah’s Rep. Mia Love — who failed to wholeheartedly embrace his agenda.

Trump said Love had called him “all the time” asking for help freeing Utahn Josh Holt, who had been imprisoned in Venezuela. But her re-election campaign distanced itself from his administration, Trump said, which led to her poor performance in Utah’s 4th Congressional District.

“Mia Love gave me no love and she lost,” Trump said. “Too bad. Sorry about that Mia.”

jon tester oRoll Call, Jon Tester Ekes Out Third Term in Montana, Simone Pathé, Nov. 7, 2018. Trump helped nationalize the race for GOP challenger. Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester prevailed in a tight re-election race, securing a third term in a state President Donald Trump carried by 21 points in 2016.

With 91 percent of precincts reporting, Tester, right, led Republican state Auditor Matt Rosendale 49 percent to 48 percent when The Associated Press called the race Wednesday. Libertarian candidate Rick Breckenridge, who had appeared to endorse Rosendale last week, finished with just under 3 percent.

First elected in 2006, Tester has never won more than 50 percent of the vote in his previous Senate races. But his personal brand once again helped him overcome partisan leanings in Big Sky Country.

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrat Edges Out Scott Walker in Wisconsin Governor’s Race, Monica Davey, Nov. 7, 2018. The election of Tony Evers, an educator, buoyed the hopes of Democrats in a state that helped secure the presidency for Mr. Trump.

scott walker oGov. Scott Walker, right, who moved Wisconsin to the right over the last eight years, cutting taxes and sharply diminishing the power of labor unions, was defeated on Wednesday by the Democrat, Tony Evers, the state schools superintendent, The Associated Press reported.

The advantage for Mr. Evers was razor thin, a little over 1 percentage point. With more than 2.6 million votes cast and 99 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Evers led by about 30,000 votes.

Still, Mr. Walker was not conceding, and his running mate, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, emerged to speak to supporters in the early morning hours Wednesday and suggested that a recount might be ahead. An adviser to Mr. Walker, Brian Reisinger, said that an official canvass and the counting of military ballots needed to occur before the campaign made any decision on how to proceed. Under a new set of rules in Wisconsin, a second-place finisher must be no more than 1 percentage point behind the leading vote-getter to be eligible to seek a recount, election officials said.

The outcome buoyed the hopes of Democrats in a long-divided state for a resounding return after 2016, when Wisconsin surprised many by helping secure the presidency for Donald J. Trump. This year’s Wisconsin race has been viewed as a crucial test of partisan control in the Midwest, where governors’ offices and state legislatures, including Wisconsin’s, have been dominated by Republicans.

Election Commentaries

Palmer Report, Commentary: What the hell just happened in Florida? Bill Palmer, Nov. 7, 2018. The Democrats outperformed the polls and made gains all over the place last night, including a number of red states. For that matter the Democrats outperformed in House races in Florida. So what the hell just happened in the races for Governor and Senate in Florida?

andrew gillum oAndrew Gillum, left, the Democratic candidate for Governor of Florida, was ahead in every poll, by an average of around four points. Bill Nelson, the Democrat running for Senate reelection in Florida, was ahead in most polls. Yet they both shockingly appear to have lost, and it looks like they’re both conveniently just outside the 0.5% margin required for an automatic recount. If this feels all too familiar, that’s because it’s precisely what happened in Florida in 2016.

Yes, polls can be wrong. But this was a night where the Democrats met expectations or outperformed in most races. They won House seats in red districts, flipping dozens of seats. They flipped several Governor races, including in Kansas.

This wasn’t a blue tsunami, but it was undoubtedly a blue wave. Yet here we are, for the second election in a row, scratching our heads at how the Democrats came in so far beneath their poll numbers in Florida. Are we really supposed to believe that the national polling outlets, which tend to be so skilled at assessing all the other states, are somehow inept when it comes to Florida?

stacy abrams brian kemp file

Georgia candidates for governor Stacey Abrams, the Democrat at left, and Republican Brian Kemp, the reputed winner after allegations of vote suppression.

The Atlantic, Brian Kemp’s Lead in Georgia Needs an Asterisk, Carol Anderson (Professor of African American Studies at Emory University), Nov. 7, 2018. If the governor’s race had taken place in another country, the State Department would have questioned its legitimacy.

The Democrat Stacey Abrams, a black woman, made a valiant effort to win the governor’s race in Georgia, one of the original 13 states, whose commitment to human bondage ensured that the U.S. Constitution would treat slavery with kid gloves. She tried to write a new narrative for this state.

Although Abrams has not yet conceded, citing uncounted ballots, it looks as though the other side has won, and the narrative is the same as ever. Abrams didn’t have to fight just an electoral campaign; she had to fight a civil-rights campaign against the forces of voter suppression.

Indeed, I can’t quite bring myself to say that Abrams “lost,” because there’s an asterisk next to her Republican opponent’s victory.

republican elephant logoBrian Kemp, who billed himself as a “Trump conservative,” refused to step aside as Georgia’s secretary of state; he ran for governor of a state while overseeing the elections in that state. Former President Jimmy Carter, a Georgian with much experience monitoring elections abroad, stressed that this conflict of interest ran “counter to the most fundamental principle of democratic elections—that the electoral process be managed by an independent and impartial election authority.”

Kemp had no intention of relinquishing a post he has held since 2010, and often wields as a weapon to cull Georgia’s electorate. He understood that he would need every trick in the book because he was up against a woman who, in addition to serving as the minority leader of the state’s House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017, founded a formidable voter-registration organization, the New Georgia Project.

stacey abrams campaignSeveral years ago, Abrams noticed that the state’s demographics were changing quickly, as minorities made up an increasing share of the age-eligible electorate. Abrams noticed, as well, that more than half a million black Georgians were not registered to vote. In 2013, as the executive director of the New Georgia Project, she set out to “register and civically engage the rising electorate in our state.”

When tens of thousands of voter-registration cards poured into Kemp’s office, he heard warning bells. He told the media that “we’re just not going to put up with fraud,” and launched a highly publicized investigation into Abrams’s organization. While accusations of criminality hung in the air, however, he relayed a very different story to his fellow Republicans. Kemp explained to them in 2014 that “Democrats are working hard, and all these stories about them, you know, registering all these minority voters that are out there and others that are sitting on the sidelines, if they can do that, they can win these elections in November.”

The claim of voter fraud, it seems, was a ruse to try to intimidate the New Georgia Project, Abrams, and black voters with criminal prosecution. It didn’t work. Abrams, a Yale-educated attorney, knew the laws, knew that the New Georgia Project had not broken any, and stood her ground. Kemp was forced to walk away, unable to even charge her or the organization with any violations. (A countersuit by the New Georgia Project alleging voter suppression was thrown out.)

Under Kemp, Georgia purged more than 1.5 million voters from the rolls, eliminating 10.6 percent of voters from the state’s registered electorate from 2016 to 2018 alone. The state shut down 214 polling places, the bulk of them in minority and poor neighborhoods. From 2013 to 2016 it blocked the registration of nearly 35,000 Georgians, including newly naturalized citizens. Georgia accomplished this feat of disfranchisement based on a screening process called “exact match,” meaning the state accepted new registrations only if they matched the information in state databases precisely, including hyphens in names, accents, and even typos.

Although a judge ruled that exact match was biased and had a disparate impact on minority applicants, the Georgia legislature in 2017 scoffed at the decision and created a new exact-match program plagued by the same bias for traditional, anglicized names. Exact match is supposed to weed out attempted voter-impersonation fraud before it can begin. What it actually does is remove tens of thousands of otherwise eligible voters, overwhelmingly minorities, from the electorate.

Kemp plied his trade with purges, poll closures, registration limbo, and more. He was the voter-suppression king, who now wanted to be governor. He had the state machinery on his side, and he was ready to use it.

jennifer rubin new headshotwashington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Here’s what did and didn’t work for Democrats, Jennifer Rubin, right, Nov. 7, 2018. Democrats lost to President Trump in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio in 2016. Tuesday, they were delighted to see that the 2016 losses might have been an aberration. Consider that Democrats held on to all four of the Senate seats, flipped the governorship in Wisconsin and Michigan, and held the governorship in Pennsylvania. The only loss was the Ohio governorship. (More about that in a moment.)

Democrats in these states ran on health care, education and other bread-and-butter issues. They didn’t have to adopt Trump’s anti-immigrant claptrap, nor did they change their views on social issues. In other words, they had a clear message, appealed to a wide audience and were able to put together an electoral majority of college-educated whites, younger voters, women and nonwhites — President Barack Obama’s winning coalition. '

Perhaps the problem wasn’t the Democratic message of economic opportunity and fighting for the little guy but a presidential candidate in 2016 who just didn’t connect with voters and a campaign that dropped the ball. Lesson: You can keep the message, not give in to xenophobia, and still win in the Rust Belt and upper Midwest with a down-to-earth candidate.

Two final, big lessons remain for Democrats. First, exciting progressives Andrew Gillum, Stacey Abrams and Beto O’Rourke came up short, although they ran remarkably competitive races. (Abrams does have an outside shot at a runoff.) Democrats need to continue to expand the electorate, engaging and registering young people but most critically, Hispanic voters. Making such voters into reliable, regular voters should be the party’s top priority. Second, losses in the Senate should remind Democrats that not only are they not going to remove Trump by impeachment but also there is less incentive than ever for Republicans to break with him. Those who won owe their victories to him. The “moderate Republican” is essentially extinct. Democrats will need to beat a fully Trumpized GOP to complete their quest to repair our democracy and oust a dangerous, divisive president.

Slate, Trump’s Press Conference Was Nutty, Self-Absorbed, and Full of Lies, William Saletan, Nov. 7, 2018. The president dismissed the public’s election rebuke and stabbed his allies in the back. And that was just the start.

On Wednesday, for more than an hour, President Trump stood before the press fielding questions about the midterm elections and his plans for the next two years. A normal president might have lamented his party’s loss of the House, acknowledged the humbling message from voters, and thanked Republican politicians who lost their jobs on Tuesday. But not Trump. He dismissed the public’s rebuke, stabbed his allies in the back, and threatened to escalate a legal and political war with Congress. Here’s what he said.

1. Screw Republicans, it’s all about me. In his opening remarks, Trump boasted, “We saw the candidates that I supported achieve tremendous success last night.” This was a prepared talking point, and Trump made sure to include the key words: that I supported. He went on to trash, by name, Republican candidates who had avoided him during the campaign. “They did very poorly,” Trump gloated. “I feel just fine about it. Carlos Cubela. [Trump mispronounced Curbelo’s name.] Mike Coffman. Too bad, Mike. … Mia Love gave me no love, and she lost. Too bad. Sorry about that, Mia.” Later, Trump bragged that he had forced out Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, creating an open seat. “I retired him. I’m very proud of it,” said the president.

Halfway through the press conference, a reporter told Trump, “Last night was not an absolute victory for you.” This was a laughably generous description, given the loss of the House. Instead, Trump protested that it wasn’t generous enough. “I thought it was a very close to complete victory,” he declared. Instead of thanking Republicans who had helped him on the trail, Trump complained that unlike Democrats, “I only had me, I didn’t have anybody else.” He told the press that his takeaway from the election was his own popularity: “That’s what I learned, [that] I was very well-received by this great country.” He also claimed that he “created the greatest economic success in the history of our country,” that he was responsible for the falling price of oil—“That’s because of me”—and that “I am a great moral leader.”

2. If the House investigates me, I won’t cooperate on legislation. “You can’t do them simultaneously,” Trump insisted, referring to investigation and legislation. “If they’re doing that, we’re not doing the other.” Specifically, he warned that if the House subpoenas his tax returns, he’ll launch counterinvestigations—and in that case, “government comes to a halt.” A reporter asked, “Can you compartmentalize that and still continue to work with [Democrats] for the benefit of the rest of the country?” Trump replied: “No. No.” He went on to explain how, having orchestrated this gridlock, he would blame Democrats for it: “Being in the majority, I’m just gonna blame them. You understand, I’m gonna blame them. They’re the majority. Honestly, it makes it much simpler for me.”

The Hill, Retiring GOP lawmaker rips Trump over midterm criticism, John Bowden, Nov. 7, 2018. Retiring GOP Rep. Ryan Costello (Pa.) ripped President Trump on Wednesday for his criticism of Republican lawmakers who lost their reelection bids, accusing the president of being the reason why Democrats picked up more than two dozen House seats on Tuesday.

Costello, who did not seek another term and saw Pennsylvania's 6th Congressional District turn blue on Election Day, wrote that having Trump "piss on [you]" after being responsible for Republican losses was too much.

"To deal w harassment & filth spewed at GOP MOC’s in tough seats every day for 2 yrs, bc of POTUS; to bite ur lip more times you’d care to; to disagree & separate from POTUS on principle & civility in ur campaign; to lose bc of POTUS & have him piss on u," Costello wrote during Trump's criticism of GOP lawmakers at a White House press conference on Wednesday.

"Angers me to my core," he added.

Media News

cnn logoCNN, White House pulls CNN correspondent Jim Acosta's pass after contentious news conference, Brian Stelter, Nov. 7, 2018. In a stunning break with protocol, the White House said Wednesday night that it's suspending the press pass of CNN's Jim Acosta "until further notice."

The move came just hours after Acosta, CNN's chief White House correspondent, drew the ire of President Donald Trump and his allies by asking multiple questions at a post-midterms news conference. Trump insulted Acosta and called him a "terrible" person.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders announced in a statement that Acosta would be stripped of what's known as a "hard pass," which gives him access to the White House grounds.

CNN said in a statement that Acosta has the network's full support.

The revocation of his pass "was done in retaliation for his challenging questions at today's press conference," the statement said. "In an explanation, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders lied. She provided fraudulent accusations and cited an incident that never happened. This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better. Jim Acosta has our full support."

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump calls CNN reporter 'rude, terrible person,' 'enemy of the people,' Lindsey Bever, Nov. 7, 2018. President Trump lashed out at journalists during an afternoon press briefing, calling some of them “hostile,” instructing them to sit down and telling a CNN reporter, “You are a rude, terrible person.”

cnn logoThe heated exchange occurred Wednesday when CNN reporter Jim Acosta continued to question Trump after the president dismissed him during a news conference about the 2018 midterm elections. Acosta had brought up the Central American migrant caravan, asking the president why he characterized it as "an invasion.”

“I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN and if you did it well, your ratings would be much better,” Trump told Acosta.

Then when Acosta tried to question Trump about the Russia investigation, the president shouted: “That’s enough. That’s enough. That’s enough. That’s enough," telling him to “put down the mic.”

Trump then told the reporter: “CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN. ... You’re a very rude person. The way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible. And the way you treat other people are horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way.”

As The Washington Post’s Elise Viebeck reported, Trump snapped at yet another reporter later in the press conference after she noted that the president had once called himself a “nationalist" and asked him whether his embrace of “nationalism” is supporting white nationalists.

"I don’t know why you’d say that — that’s such a racist question,” Trump told PBS Newshour’s White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor, who is black.

Booksellers Protest Against Amazon.com

amazon logo smallny times logoNew York Times, After Protest, Booksellers Are Victorious Against Amazon Subsidiary, David Streitfeld, Nov. 7, 2018. A worldwide strike by antiquarian booksellers against an Amazon subsidiary proved successful after two days, with the retailer apologizing and saying it would cancel the actions that prompted the protest.

It was a rare concerted uprising against any part of Amazon by any of its millions of suppliers, leading to an even rarer capitulation. Even the book dealers said they were surprised at the sudden reversal by AbeBooks, the company’s secondhand and rare bookselling network.

The uprising, which involved nearly 600 booksellers in 27 countries removing about four million books, was set off by the retailer’s decision to cut off stores in five countries: the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, South Korea and Russia. AbeBooks never explained its actions beyond saying it was related to payment processing.

“AbeBooks was saying entire countries were expendable to its plans,” said Scott Brown, a Eureka, Calif., bookseller who was an organizer of the strike. “Booksellers everywhere felt they might be next.”

Nov. 6

U.S. Elections Preview

ny times logoNew York Times, When Will the Results Come In? Astead W. Herndon and Jugal K. Patel, Nov. 6, 2018. An hour-by-hour mapped guide to the races at stake in the midterm elections across the country. The first polls close at 6 p.m., Eastern time, and the last closes seven hours later in Alaska. Here are the closing times, state-by-state, and what to watch each hour as the vote counting begins.

joe donnelly6 p.m., E.T. Most of Indiana / Eastern half of Kentucky. Keep an eye on the most watched race in Kentucky: the Sixth Congressional District, where Amy McGrath, a former Marine, is trying to unseat a male Republican incumbent. This race is likely to provide an early glimpse into whether the so-called blue wave is on. The big prize in Indiana is the Senate race, where Joe Donnelly, right, a Democrat, is trying to hold on to his seat.

Polls

us senate logo538.com, Analysis: Forecasting the race for the Senate, Nate Silver, Nov. 6, 2018. 4 in 5 Chance Republicans keep control (81%). The chance of winning for each candidate in the 35 Senate elections taking place in 2018, as well as the controlling party for the 65 seats not on the ballot this cycle. Predicted average Republican gain: .5 seats.

U.S. House logo538.com, Analysis: Forecasting the race for the House, Nate Silver, Nov. 6, 2018. 7 in 8 Chance Democrats win control (88.1%). The chance of each candidate winning, with all 435 House districts shown. Predicted average Democratic gain: 39 seats.

538.com, Analysis: Forecasting the races for governor, Nate Silver, Nov. 6, 2018.

  • 195 million: Average population forecasted to be governed by Democrats
  • 134 million: Average population forecasted to be governed by Republicans
  • 24: Average number of states forecasted to be governed by Democrats
  • 26: Average number of states forecasted to be governed by Republicans

Real Clear Politics Monday Polls

Election 2018 News, Commentary

djt smiling file

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s judgment day has arrived, Bill Palmer, Nov. 6, 2018. And here we are. For the past two years since Donald Trump treasonously conspired with a foreign enemy to rig the presidential election in his favor and then illegally seized the Oval Office, the Resistance has been heroically holding America together while Trump has tried to destroy it.

If we turn out and vote today, Donald Trump and his party will never be able to pass another corrupt piece of legislation. Every complicit Republican House committee chair will be replaced with a Democrat who will work to expose Trump’s crimes and bring him to justice. Republican subpoena power will become Democratic subpoena power. Robert Mueller will be chuckling at how much easier his job just became.

If we turn out and vote today, Donald Trump will be on a path to prison. Yes, Trump and his family really will end up getting locked up. Even if Mueller and the Democrats only manage to oust him and not incarcerate him, the state of New York will take care of the rest. The five or six Trump underlings who have been sent packing for prison these past two years will look like a drop in the bucket in comparison to what’s to come.

If we turn out and vote today, America has a chance to become America again. Democracy will be back in fashion. Donald Trump will be on the run. We’ve spent these past two years holding America together by a thread. Now, today, we get to take a proverbial sledgehammer those who have been trying to destroy it.

washington post logoWashington Post, Without evidence, Trump and Sessions warn of voter fraud, Amy Gardner, Nov. 6, 2018. Accusations of voter fraud and voter suppression have roared to the forefront in several closely fought races this year, raising the possibility of recounts and disputed results among dozens of contests.

jeff sessions ag oPresident Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday issued strong warnings about the threat of voter fraud in Tuesday’s elections, echoing the president’s baseless claims that massive voter fraud marred his 2016 election and prompting accusations that his administration is trying to intimidate voters.

In a tweet early Monday, Trump said that law enforcement has been “strongly notified” to watch for “ILLEGAL VOTING.” He promised that anyone caught voting improperly would be subjected to “Maximum Criminal Penalties.” Sessions, in a statement laying out the Justice Department’s plans to monitor ballot access on Election Day, said “fraud in the voting process will not be tolerated. Fraud also corrupts the integrity of the ballot.”

In remarks to reporters on his way to a campaign rally in Cleveland, Trump also falsely claimed that voter fraud is commonplace.

Purged Voters Get No Notice

greg palast logo

Truthout, Purged Voters Get Out the Vote, Greg Palast, Nov. 6, 2018. On Sunday, I watched President Donald Trump warn a rally in Macon, Georgia, that Stacey Abrams, running to become the first Black female governor in US history, “is one of the most extreme far left politicians in the entire country," adding, "you know that! You put Stacey in there, you’re going to have Georgia turn into Venezuela. I don’t think the people of Georgia like that.”

Trump's rant against Abrams has not driven away her many supporters. But voters like Atlanta filmmaker Rahiem Shabazz are being driven away from the ballot box.

“I want to vote for Stacey Abrams.” Shabazz told me, but, “I won’t be able to vote in the November 6 election.”

stacy abrams brian kemp fileShabazz' voter registration, his right to vote, has been cancelled by Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, shown at right in adjoining photo.

Notably, Kemp, while running the election for the state of Georgia, is also running in the election for governor of Georgia — against Democrat Stacey Abrams (shown also at right).

rahiem shabazz palast investigative fund SmallRahiem (shown in a Palast investigative team photo) is just one of more than 340,134 Georgians Kemp has purged from the voter rolls based on dead-wrong evidence they’d moved from the state or from their home county.. It took a federal lawsuit — which I filed jointly with voting rights advocate Helen Butler — to force Kemp to divulge the names and addresses of those whose registration he cancelled in a single year, 2017.

And, while Kemp may believe that the tidal wave of purges may overcome a Democratic Blue Wave, there is another possibility: When a voter turning up to the polling station discovers his/her registration is missing or cancelled, the voter has the right, under federal law, to cast a “provisional” ballot.

However, the man who decides whether these “provisional” ballots will be counted is… Brian Kemp.

But Kemp should stop grinning. “Federal judges may feel differently about Kemp’s right not to count these provisional ballots,” says Jeanne Mirer, lead attorney on the lawsuit filed against Kemp in October. If the court determines that Kemp misused his power as Georgia’s “Purge’n General” it could order that those provisional votes be counted.

During Trump’s Georgia rally, assorted right-wing and white supremacist attendants took selfies in front of Air Force 1, while fanatics sported Qanon, Three Percenter and Oath Keepers T-shirts. Proud Boys flashed “white power” signs. One Trumper thought Abrams’ supporters should stop complaining, telling me, “We all have rules to vote. Just follow the rules.”

Still, Kemp’s wrongful purging frenzy may, in the end, backfire, even if it does not come down to a court fight over the provisional ballots.

Shabazz warns Kemp, “You took one vote away, but Stacey Abrams is going to get ten more because I'm going to bring ten more people out to vote.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Five things to look for today, Jennifer Rubin, Nov. 6, 2018. More than 5,000 presidential lies later, we are ready to see if the electorate shifted in some permanent ways in 2016 or whether 2016 was a perfect storm, an aberration and a wake-up call.

The perfect storm explanation for 2016 would say that a poor presidential candidate, a complacent Democratic base, a TV celebrity candidate and a last-minute intrusion into the election campaign by FBI Director James B. Comey produced a narrow victory for President Trump, a result few expected, including the candidate.

The permanent-shift explanation is that Americans demand entertainment from politics, dismiss (or even embrace) racism and misogyny, and are indifferent about the survival of democracy. They want someone to break the furniture and don’t much care how he does it or what he says.

Here then are five questions, the answers to which will help clarify whether 2016 was closer to the perfect storm or a harbinger of a permanent shift, one that reveals democracy’s decay.

Guam Territorial Voting Results

Pacific Daily News / USA Today Network (Guam), Leon Guerrero maintains large lead, with 20 precincts counted, Staff reports, Nov. 6, 2018. Democrat Lou Leon Guerrero and running mate Joshua Tenorio retained their commanding lead in the race for governor, according to the latest batch of unofficial results, released about 12:55 a.m. on Nov. 7.

democratic donkey logoWith 20 of 67 precincts counted, Leon Guerrero has 50.7 percent of the vote, with Republican Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio receiving 25.89 percent of the vote. In the race for congressional delegate, Sen. Mike San Nicolas, D-Dededo, is leading Republican candidate and former public auditor Doris Brooks, with 53.02 percent of the vote, to Brooks' 45.77 percent.

Palmer Report, Commentary: Donald Trump’s last minute voter distraction antics go off the rails, Daniel Cotter, Nov. 5, 2018. "President" Donald J. Trump is obviously scared, and also wants to try to explain the results of Tuesday should the blue wave transpire. On Monday morning, Trump tweeted: “Law Enforcement has been strongly notified to watch closely for any ILLEGAL VOTING which may take place in Tuesday’s Election (or Early Voting). Anyone caught will be subject to the Maximum Criminal Penalties allowed by law. Thank you!”

Trump is trying to make a big deal of illegal voting. He has claimed that during 2016, more than 3 million illegal votes were cast. Notwithstanding such scare tactics, the truth is that when a comprehensive investigation of 1 billion ballots cast, credible incidents of voter impersonation were found in 31 cases, or .0000031%.

Another statistic worth noting is the voter apathy in the United States. In the 2016 presidential election, nearly half of all eligible voters (46.9%) did not vote. If eligible voters are not heading to the polls, then who would be these illegal voters who march to the polls, risking conviction and punishment, when many of them are eligible and don’t vote as it is?

Not to be deterred, Attorney General Jeff “Suck up” Sessions issued a press release on Monday, confirming that he is sending out monitors to “35 jurisdictions in 19 states.” The jurisdictions include counties in North Dakota, Arizona, and Gwinnet and Fulton Counties in Georgia. Gwinett is the jurisdiction where thousands of absentee ballots were set aside by Brian “Corrupt as F” Kemp before a judge intervened. The press release cites potential voter fraud, which again is mostly non-existent.

Trump and Sessions should be reminded that intimidating voters is a federal crime and that any monitors sent should be very careful in interfering in local polling places. Voters should get out and vote in what is an important election and ignore what is more intimidation tactics by Trump.

Wikileaks Prosecution

Consortium News, Opinion: The West is Failing Julian Assange, Stefania Maurizi, Nov. 6, 2018. Stefania Maurizi works for the Italian daily La Repubblica as an investigative journalist, after ten years working for the Italian newsmagazine l’Espresso.

I have worked as a WikiLeaks media partner for the last nine years, and over these nine years I have met Assange many, many times, but only once did I meet him as a free man: that was back in September 2010, the very same day the Swedish prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for allegations of rape. Initially he was under house arrest with an electronic bracelet around his ankle, then he entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London on June 19, 2012. Since then he has remained buried in that tiny embassy: a depressing building, very small, with no sunlight, no fresh air, no hour outdoors. In my country, Italy, even mafia bosses who strangled a child and dissolved his corpse in a barrel of acid enjoy an hour outdoors. Assange doesn’t.

Julian Assange’s situation is very precarious. His living conditions within the embassy have become unsustainable, and his friends speak as if there is no hope: “When the U.S. gets Julian”, they say, as if it is a foregone conclusion that the U.S. will get him and no journalist, no media, no NGO, no press association will do anything to prevent it.

In the last six years that Assange has been languishing in the embassy, not a single major Western media has dared to say: we shouldn’t keep an individual confined with no end in sight. This treatment of Julian Assange by the UK – and, more in general, by the West – is not only inhumane, but counterproductive.

Documents reveal that the UK authorities referred to the Assange case as not an ordinary one from the very beginning. “Please do not think that the case is being dealt with as just another extradition request,” they wrote on January 13, 2011 to the Swedish prosecutors. A few months later, a UK official added: “I do not believe anything like this has ever happened, either in terms of speed or in the informal nature of the procedures. I suppose this case never ceases to amaze.”

What is special about this case? And why did the UK authorities keep insisting on extradition at all costs?

Nov. 5

U.S. Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, Midterms test whether Republicans not named Trump can win by stoking racial animosity, Matt Viser, Nov. 5, 2018 (print edition). President Trump succeeded in 2016 after disparaging minority groups. That strategy has spread to other GOP campaigns, with blatant and overtly racial attacks rarely seen since the civil rights era of the 1960s.

ny times logoDonald Trump Logo Make America Great AgainNew York Times, Trump’s America: Aggrieved and Adoring Voices From Inside the Presidential Bubble, Michael D. Shear, Nov. 5, 2018 (print edition). At rallies, the president’s most fervent supporters look past his falsehoods, racially charged statements and attacks on critics. For his party to win Tuesday, he needs them to turn out in droves.

Roll Call, DOJ Civil Rights Division to Monitor Polls in 35 Counties on Election Day, Griffin Connolly, Nov 5, 2018. Arizona, Nevada, Florida, North Dakota, and Texas among 19 states where DOJ personnel will monitor polling places.

When Americans head to the polls on Tuesday for the midterm elections, voters in 35 counties — from Las Vegas to Dallas to Tampa — will head to precincts that are being closely monitored by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division for “compliance with the federal voting rights laws,” the DOJ announced Monday.

“Voting rights are constitutional rights, and they’re part of what it means to be an American,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

Sessions also warned that “fraud in the voting process will not be tolerated.”

In January, President Donald Trump shut down a commission he created shortly after he arrived at the Oval Office to investigate possible voter fraud. In its six months of existence, that commission did not turn up any evidence of voter fraud from the 2016 election.

The list of jurisdictions that the DOJ will monitor comprises 35 counties, including many that election experts say are pivotal battlegrounds for the outcomes of roughly a half-dozen neck-and-neck Senate races and even more House races.

Civil Rights Division personnel will observe, for example, Maricopa County, Arizona, which encompasses much of Phoenix. Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema hopes to see a surge of voting in Phoenix for her Senate match-up against GOP Rep. Martha McSally, who will be looking for a strong showing from the county's non-urban reaches. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the Arizona Senate race Tilts Democratic.

jacky rosenClark County (Las Vegas) and Washoe County (Reno) in Nevada will also be subject to the DOJ's monitoring efforts. Nevada GOP Sen. Dean Heller faces Rep. Jacky Rosen, right, in another prime pick-up opportunity for the Democrats in a race rated Tilts Democratic by Inside Elections.

In Florida, where Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has faced an historically expensive challenge from Florida Gov. Rick Scott, DOJ personnel will be keeping an eye on polling places in Pinellas County (Tampa) and Palm Beach County. Inside Elections also rates that race Tilts Democratic.

The Texas, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania Senate races will also have some polling places under DOJ surveillance.

ny times logoNew York Times, Two Vastly Different Election Outcomes That Hinge on a Few Dozen Close Contests, Nate Cohn, Nov. 5, 2018.  Democrats appear poised to win the House popular vote on Tuesday by a wide margin, with national polls showing sustained disapproval of President Trump — and yet the fate of the chamber is not a foregone conclusion.

democratic donkey logoOn the day before the midterm elections, two vastly different outcomes remain easy to imagine. There could be a Democratic blowout that decisively ends Republicans’ control of the House and even endangers their Senate majority. Or there could be a district-by-district battle for House control that lasts late on election night and perhaps for weeks after.

washington post logorepublican elephant logoWashington Post, Analysis: ‘Full Trumpism’: The president’s apocalyptic attacks reach a new level of falsity, Philip Rucker, Nov. 5, 2018 (print edition). In the campaign’s final days, President Trump has claimed without evidence that Democrats want to destroy the economy, obliterate Medicare and open the borders to violent criminals.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Will there be a youth wave? Early voting points to yes, Jacqueline Alemany, Nov. 5, 2018. Youth turnout rates in the midterm early vote are up by 125 percent compared to 2014, according to Catalist, a voter database servicing progressive organizations.

Fighting Contested Results

Columbus Free Press via OpEdNews, Warning To Democrats! Do NOT Concede!! Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, Nov. 5, 2018. Donald Trump is in power in large part because Democrats have repeatedly conceded elections they really won. On Tuesday, that MUST change. Anyone deemed a close loser MUST fight. Every tally must be contested, every denial challenged, all missing ballots found, every provisional honored.

Media, Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: You ‘Approved This Message’? Seriously? Jim Rutenberg, Nov. 5, 2018 (print edition). In 2002, lawmakers tried to save voters from election-season sludge by adding a brief refrain as part of every commercial. Their plan didn’t count on the ugly campaign tactics of President Trump, our media columnist writes.

In the final week of the midterm campaigns, President Trump tweeted a 53-second video that interspersed footage of the caravan with a courtroom scene featuring Luis Bracamontes, an undocumented immigrant and convicted murderer. After Mr. Bracamontes boasts of killing two police officers, these words appear onscreen: “Democrats let him into our country. Democrats let him stay.”

As numerous fact checkers have pointed out, the ad is false. Mr. Bracamontes was deported after entering the United States during Bill Clinton’s presidency and came back during the years George W. Bush was president. He was deported once again, only to return and kill two sheriff’s deputies in California in 2014. He had even passed through the infamous Maricopa, Ariz., jail system of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a Republican, before being released on drug charges that were never resolved.

The video was so demonizing of Latino migrants and so defamatory of Democrats that it took a place alongside the infamous Willie Horton ad that helped George Bush defeat his Democratic opponent, Michael Dukakis, in the 1988 presidential election.

huff post logoHuffpost, Fox News Pulls Racist Trump Ad, Lydia O’Connor, Nov. 5, 2018. The Trump-friendly network said it’s decided to stop airing the ad “upon further review.” Fox News said Monday it has stopped airing the controversial political ad paid for by President Donald Trump’s campaign, which likens members of the Central American migrant caravan to a man convicted of killing police officers in the U.S.

fox news logo SmallThe Trump-friendly network’s decision comes after CNN made headlines on Saturday for refusing to air it and after NBC came under fire for running it during prime time on Sunday night.

“Upon further review, Fox News pulled the ad yesterday and it will not appear on either Fox News Channel or Fox Business Network,” ad sales president Marianne Gambelli said in a statement.

Trump re-election official Brad Parscale responded on Twitter: So, @NBCNews @CNN @facebook have chosen to stand with those ILLEGALLY IN THIS COUNTRY. Instead of standing with LEGAL IMMIGRANTS and those that follow our laws. The #FakeNewsMedia and #PaloAltoMafia are trying to control what you see and how you think. STOP THE CARAVAN!

The ad is Trump’s latest effort to rouse fear about the migrant caravan in the days ahead of the midterm elections. Last week, he announced he was sending more than 5,200 troops to the U.S.’s southern border despite the caravan being weeks away and posing no known threat.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump camp goes berserk after NBC and Fox News cancel his racist caravan ad, Bill Palmer, Nov. 5, 2018. Various television networks, including CNN, have made clear from the start that they would not run Donald Trump’s racist and fictional “caravan” ad, no matter how much money they were being offered for the ad placement. But during last night’s NFL Sunday Night Football game, NBC decided to run the ad. Palmer Report and others quickly organized a pushback campaign, and while the ad did run again this morning, it’s now been pulled – and not just from NBC.

Early this afternoon, NBC and Fox News released separate statements announcing that they were canceling the remainder of the ad run. Facebook also announced that it would stop allowing Donald Trump to run the ad on its social network. Just how racist and dishonest does an ad have to be for Fox News to decide it’s gone too far? Suffice it to say that Trump and his people were not happy.

Brad Parscale, the “campaign manager” for Donald Trump’s imaginary 2020 reelection campaign, angrily lashed out on Twitter at NBC and Facebook, but conveniently left out the fact that Fox News had also dropped the ad. These television networks never should have aired this ad to begin with. But, at the least, this is further proof that mainstream Americans can work together and force soulless corporate entities to bend to their will.

Fallen Utah Mayor Urged Voting

huff post logoHuffington Post, Utah Mayor Pleaded With Americans To Vote Before He Was Killed In Afghanistan, Mary Papenfuss, Nov. 5, 2018. Utah mayor Brent Taylor, a major in the Utah National Guard, pleaded with “united” Americans in a moving Facebook post to vote just days before he was killed in an insider attack in Afghanistan.

The emotional appeal came after Taylor witnessed Afghanistan citizens risking their lives to cast their votes.

The “beautiful” turnout of 4 million voters who braved “threats and deadly attacks” was a “success for the long-suffering people of Afghanistan and for the cause of human freedom,” wrote Taylor, the mayor of the small town of North Ogden, with a population of 17,000. He became mayor of the town, located an hour north of Salt Lake City, in 2013.

“As the USA gets ready to vote in our own election next week, I hope everyone back home exercises their precious right to vote. And that whether the Republicans or the Democrats win, that we all remember that we have far more as Americans that unites us than divides us,” he wrote in his last post.

Taylor, a father of seven young children, also posted photos of people voting in Afghanistan. He ended his post: “United we stand, divided we fall.”

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration prepares for massive shake-up after midterms, Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker, Nov. 5, 2018. The expected exodus would bring fresh uncertainty and churn to the White House, and many in the president’s orbit worry that the administration will face challenges filling the vacancies.

washington post logoryan zinke oWashington Post, Newly released emails suggest Zinke contradicted ethics pledge, Juliet Eilperin​, Nov. 5, 2018. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, right, continued to engage in discussions involving his family foundation’s property in summer 2017 despite the fact that he had pledged to recuse himself from such matters for a year, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

At issue is an August 2017 email exchange with David Taylor, the city planner for Whitefish, Mont. Zinke authorized him to access the property and explained that he was engaged in negotiations with a real estate developer over building a parking lot on his foundation’s land.

But under an ethics pledge he signed Jan. 10, 2017, Zinke vowed to step down from his position as president of the Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation after winning confirmation and refrain from participating in any matters concerning the group for one year.

U.S. Farmers / Trade / Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Farmers Wince in Trump Country as Soybean Exports to China Fall 94%, Binyamin Appelbaum, Nov. 5, 2018. This is harvest season in the rich farmlands of the eastern Dakotas, where farmers have prospered over the last two decades by selling soybeans to the Chinese. But this year, the Chinese have all but stopped buying.

Amazon Picks New Sites?

ny times logoNew York Times, Amazon Marches Closer to Its Goal of Becoming the Everything Company, David Streitfeld, Nov. 6, 2018. What a farce. That was one of the immediate reactions when word leaked out on Monday that Amazon’s much-ballyhooed search for a second headquarters outside of Seattle would result in not one, but two new locations. On Twitter, people used farce, sham or stunt to describe what had happened.

amazon logo smallAmazon’s critics were apoplectic at what they called a bait and switch. From the company’s point of view, however, things seem to be working out rather nicely.

The quest kept a persistent spotlight on Amazon as the suitor everyone sought — would it choose Denver? maybe Atlanta? surely Chicago? — even as the company apparently decided instead to set up smaller operations in the Washington metro area and in New York City, the two most obvious places all along.

Cops, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, CIA contractor gets 3-month prison sentence for taking home classified information, Rachel Weiner, Nov. 5, 2018 (print edition). A former CIA contractor who kept 60 notebooks full of classified information will spend three months in prison.

cia logoWhy Reynaldo Regis over his 10 years at the agency felt compelled to look up classified information about individuals outside his purview and take it home with him, however, remains a mystery.

“The $64 question is why he was keeping those notebooks,” U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady said Friday before sentencing Regis in an Alexandria courtroom.

david petraeus cia oRegis, a Philippine native who spent 25 years in the U.S. military and held a top-secret security clearance, only told O’Grady, “I’m really sorry for what I have done . . . truly sorry.”

Sentences in such cases vary widely. A National Security Administration employee who brought work on sensitive hacking tools home was recently sentenced to five years in prison by a federal judge in Maryland. But retired Army general and former CIA director David Petraeus, left, and former national security adviser Sandy Berger both got probation for taking home classified information.

Global News

washington post logoiran flag mapWashington Post, Iran vows to ‘break’ U.S. sanctions and resist ‘psychological warfare’ as Trump reimposes penalties, Erin Cunningham and Carol Morello, Nov. 5, 2018. The unilateral sanctions reintroduce some of the most crippling restrictions on Iran’s oil, shipping and banking sectors.

Iran’s military forces staged war exercises and its president defiantly vowed Monday to “break” U.S. sanctions on oil sales that were reimposed at midnight, as Tehran resisted a Trump administration pressure campaign aimed at isolating the country economically.

“We will proudly break the sanctions,” Rouhani said during a meeting of government officials in the Iranian capital.

Rouhani’s vow to keep exporting oil came as the Trump administration snapped back sanctions on more than 700 individuals and companies that received sanctions relief when a landmark 2015 nuclear deal took effect.

The unilateral sanctions reintroduce some of the most crippling restrictions on Iran’s oil, shipping and banking sectors and seek to penalize even non-U.S. entities that do business with Iran.

ny times logoNew York Times, As U.S. Sanctions on Iran Kick In, Europe Looks for a Workaround, Steven Erlanger, Nov. 5, 2018. The Trump administration’s decision to quit the nuclear treaty with Tehran and restore the measures has divided Washington from its closest allies.

The Europeans consider the 2015 Iran nuclear deal crucial to their national interests, and say they intend to keep honoring it. But to date, they have not managed to put in place a mechanism for sidestepping the sanctions without antagonizing the Trump administration.

Realistically, European officials say, they may be able to preserve only 20 percent to 30 percent of existing trade with Iran, given that large European companies with ties to the United States have already pulled out of Iran or are in the process of doing so to avoid the sanctions.

king abdullah left crown prince salman abdul aziz third right praying during 2103 funeral saudi press agency via ap

Saudi leaders at 2013 funeral (Saudi royal family photo via Associated Press)

washington post logoWashington Post, A year after Ritz-Carlton roundup, Saudi elites remain jailed by crown prince, Kevin Sullivan and Kareem Fahim, Nov. 5, 2018. Human rights activists and other analysts said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may be preparing to release more detainees to help cool the furor over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Somewhere in this kingdom, Prince Turki bin Abdullah is locked away.

Turki, 47, was once a golden scion of Saudi Arabia’s gilded royal family, a prominent son of former King Abdullah and a fighter pilot with advanced degrees who trained in the United States and Britain. He was the powerful governor of Riyadh province, then chief executive of the multibillion-dollar King Abdullah Foundation, which funds charitable work around the world.

He is now among an unknown number of superwealthy Saudis who remain detained a full year after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman startled his country by turning Riyadh’s posh Ritz-Carlton hotel into a 5-star jail for some of the nation’s most prominent citizens in what he called an anti-corruption sweep.

Prince Turki, who officials have reportedly accused of graft related to construction of the Riyadh subway, remains detained without any formal charges. His chief of staff, Gen. Ali al-Qahtani, was also arrested and died in detention under circumstances that have never been fully explained.

Early this year, the Saudi attorney general said 56 men remained locked up, some the subject of criminal investigations, with more than $106 billion in cash, real estate, businesses, securities and other assets recovered in the Ritz operation.

Mohammed said in interview last month with Bloomberg only eight men were still detained. He offered no other details, except to say, “They’re with their lawyers and facing the system that we have in Saudi Arabia.”

But other people familiar with the detentions said the number is much higher, with 45 Ritz detainees still locked up.

Nov. 4

2018 U.S. Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Why this election matters so much, Editorial Board, Nov. 4, 2018 (print edition). The stakes are higher than usual, much higher, in next Tuesday’s election. At issue is not simply the future of federal legislation on health care, taxes and many other policy matters, important as they are. Rather, the pivotal question this November is whether the American electorate will reward a campaign based on divisiveness and dishonesty.

washington post logoWashington Post, Anxiety high in campaign’s final days as voters prepare to render judgment on Trumpism, Matt Viser and Philip Rucker, Nov. 4, 2018 (print edition). As the midterms roared into their final weekend — with the biggest names in both parties exhorting their followers to vote — tight races across the country were setting the stage for an uncertain, but dramatic, conclusion. Much is on the line as voters will render a nationwide judgment on whether Trumpism is a historic anomaly or a reflection of modern-day America.

Two years of political volatility will culminate Tuesday when voters for the first time since the stunning 2016 election render a nationwide judgment on whether Trumpism is a historic anomaly or a reflection of modern-day America.

As the midterms roared into their final weekend — with the biggest names in both parties exhorting their followers to vote — uncertainty enveloped the contest amid signs that tightening races appeared headed toward dramatic finishes.

Just how many House seats Democrats might pick up — they need a net gain of 23 to win the majority — remained unclear. Republicans are favored to keep control of the Senate, but enough top-tier races from Florida to Nevada to Tennessee and Missouri were sufficiently close that the outcome was in doubt. And in two closely watched gubernatorial races, where African American Democrats in Georgia and Florida are seeking to make history, the contests looked to be coming down to the wire.

Election Fraud Claims Mount

stacy abrams brian kemp file

washington post logoWashington Post, Brian Kemp’s office orders ‘hacking’ probe of Ga. Democrats on eve of election he’s competing in, Avi Selk, Vanessa Williams and Amy Gardner​, Nov. 4, 2018. As Georgia's secretary of state, Kemp oversees the same election he is competing in for governor. Democrats called the investigation a sham and abuse of power.

But voters’ rights groups pushed back within hours of the announcement, suggesting that the investigation was a political distraction after Democratic officials, among others, alerted authorities over the weekend to security vulnerabilities in the voting system Kemp oversees. The Abrams' campaign called the investigation “nothing more than a pathetic attempt to cover up for his failures.”

republican elephant logoThe office of the secretary of state, which Democrats have accused throughout Kemp’s campaign of manipulating the electoral system for his benefit, announced the investigation Sunday morning with an all-caps headline that appeared directly below a voter’s guide on a government website.

The attached statement contained no evidence and almost no details on the Democratic Party of Georgia’s “possible cyber crimes,” but it said Kemp’s office had launched the investigation Saturday evening and alerted the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

The investigation was immediately condemned as a political ploy by Democrats and some commentators, who believe Kemp should not oversee an election in which he is competing.

“Brian Kemp’s scurrilous claims are 100 percent false, and this so-called investigation was unknown to the Democratic Party of Georgia until a campaign operative in
Kemp’s official office released a statement this morning,” Rebecca DeHart, executive director of the state Democratic Party, wrote in a statement to reporters. “This is yet another example of abuse of power by an unethical Secretary of State.”

whowhatwhy election integrity feed

WhoWhatWhy graphic illustrating its ongoing investigations of voter suppression and electronic election frauds

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Georgia's voter registration system like open bank safe door, Jordan Wilkie and Timothy Pratt, Nov. 4, 2018. Two days before the midterm elections, a series of security vulnerabilities have been discovered that would allow even a low-skilled hacker to compromise Georgia’s voter registration system and, in turn, the election itself. It is not known how long these vulnerabilities have been in place or whether they have already been exploited.

Just before noon on Saturday, a third party provided *WhoWhatWhy* with an email and document, sent from the Democratic Party of Georgia to election security experts, that highlights “massive” vulnerabilities within the state’s My Voter Page and its online voter registration system.

According to the document, it would not be difficult for almost anyone with minimal computer expertise to access millions of people’s private information and potentially make changes to their voter registration — including canceling it.

In this election and during the primaries, voters have reported not showing up in the poll books, being assigned to the wrong precinct, and being
issued the wrong ballot.

All of that could be explained by a bad actor changing voter registration data — and at this point there may be no way of knowing if that happened.

It is not clear what impact — if any — this will have on Tuesday’s elections, or what it has had on early voting. Voters should still go to the polls and, if they are encountering problems, ask to cast a provisional ballot as is their right.

*WhoWhatWhy *contacted five computer security and election systems experts to review the document.

None of these cyber security experts tested the vulnerabilities described, downloaded any files, or altered any data.

All five noted that testing these vulnerabilities without permission would be illegal.

Instead, several logged onto the My Voter Page to look at the code used to build the site — something any Georgian voter could do with a little
instruction — and confirmed the voter registration system’s vulnerabilities.

They all agreed with the assessment that the data of voters could easily be accessed and changed.

Mass Shooting In Florida

washington post logoWashington Post, Man who had been accused of groping opens fire on Tallahassee yoga class, killing two, police say, Avi Selk, Nov. 4, 2018 (print edition). Shooting at Tallahassee yoga studio rattles Florida. A man who had been repeatedly accused of groping women and linked to misogynistic YouTube rants walked into a yoga class and opened fire on Friday evening, according to Tallahassee police, shooting six people and killing two of them.

scott paul beierlePolice said the shooting suspect, Scott Paul Beierle (shown in a mug shot), 40, killed himself minutes before they arrived at the Hot Yoga studio, which sits above a row of restaurants at a northern Tallahassee shopping center.

About a dozen people were inside Hot Yoga when a man with a black bag walked in around 5:30 p.m., the Tallahassee Democrat reported. The studio had advertised a Pilates certification class for the weekend.

Among the yoga students were Florida State University student Maura Binkley, 21, and 61-year-old Nancy Van Vessem, a local physician and a faculty member at Florida State. Both women were killed in the gunfire.

Axios Sneak Peek, Trump: Saudis "don't know how to use" U.S. bombs, Jonathan Swan, Nov. 4, 2018. In August, Saudi-led coalition forces used an American bomb to blow up a school bus in Yemen, reportedly killing at least 51 people, including 40 children. In his first public comments on that attack. President Trump told Axios on HBO that the killings were "a horror show." But he declined to say if it's made him reassess American arms sales to the Saudis.

 "I think it's a terrible situation. I hated seeing what happened with the bus and the children cause that's pure — that's a horror show when you see a thing like that, you saw the bus."

Why it matters: Yemen is the world's worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN. The U.S. has been selling the Saudis weapons to fight the Iran-backed Houthis, and Trump has boasted repeatedly about the size of his Saudi arms deal.

I asked Trump whether it bothered him that the Saudi-led coalition has been using U.S. bombs to kill civilians. What's next: Last week, the U.S. called for a cease-fire, but within two days, per the Washington Post, "the U.S.-backed Saudi-led coalition launched a fresh offensive."

Voter Impact On Mueller

Palmer Report, Opinion: You can vote for Robert Mueller on Tuesday. No, really, Bill Palmer, Nov. 4, 2018. Donald Trump is on the ballot in every single House and Senate race; you just won’t see his name. There’s also another person on the ballot: Special Counsel Robert Mueller. By all accounts he’s gearing up to make his big move against Trump shortly after the election. He’s simply waiting to see how things shake out, so he can decide how to proceed – and he needs your help.

robert mueller screenshot washington postIf the Democrats win the House, it will allow Robert Mueller, right, to hand his findings and recommendations to the House, and let the Democrats run with it. After all, the destruction and ouster of a criminally corrupt president is still ultimately a political process. House Democrats can immediately begin holding daily televised hearings to destroy Trump one swift blow at a time, even while sending subpoenas flying and taking a proverbial buzzsaw to what little is left of Trump’s viability.

If the Republicans retain control of the House and Senate, that will leave Robert Mueller as the lone ranger. Much as we might enjoy the visual, it’s not the ideal scenario. Mueller would be forced to try more unilateral and riskier moves.

Booksellers Boycott Against Amazon.com

ny times logoNew York Times, Sellers Unite to Pull Books Off Amazon-Owned Site in Protest, David Streitfeld, Nov. 4, 2018. More than 250 antiquarian book dealers in 24 countries say they are pulling over a million books off an Amazon-owned site for a week, an impromptu protest after the site abruptly moved to ban sellers from several nations.

The flash strike against the site, AbeBooks, which is due to begin Monday, is a rare concerted action by vendors against any part of Amazon, which depends on third-party sellers for much of its merchandise and revenue. The protest arrives as increasing attention is being paid to the extensive power that Amazon wields as a retailer — a power that is greatest in books.

amazon logo smallThe stores are calling their action Banned Booksellers Week. The protest got its start after AbeBooks sent emails last month to booksellers in countries including South Korea, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Russia to say that it would no longer “support” them. “We apologize for this inconvenience,” the company said.

As the news spread, even unaffected dealers were surprised and angered. AbeBooks, together with Amazon itself, is by far the biggest international marketplace for secondhand and rare books.

AbeBooks lists millions of books and manages the payments. The booksellers mail the books directly from their shops. The platform was founded in 1995 and was bought by Amazon in 2008. It continues to operate independently, and many of its customers never even realize who the owner is. AbeBooks is based in Victoria, British Columbia, where it started.

The Amazon subsidiary told the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers that it was scaling back because “it is no longer viable for us to operate in these countries due to increasing costs and complexities.”

Peter Harrington, a leading London antiquarian dealer, said AbeBooks’ “high-handed manner” was at the root of the protest, with the platform taking the affected booksellers and “destroying their livelihoods in just a couple of impersonal sentences.”

Dealers in 24 countries say they are removing over a million books from AbeBooks for a week after the site moved to ban sellers from several nations.

The flash strike is a rare concerted action by vendors against any part of Amazon, which depends on third-party sellers.

Nov. 3

ny times logoNew York Times, G.O.P. Has Strong Economy to Tout, but Trump Rhetoric Muddies Message, Astead W. Herndon and Sydney Ember, Nov. 3, 2018 (print edition). A glowing jobs report right before an election should be a gift to the party in power and a uniform talking point for its candidates. But President Trump’s strident tone on immigration is drowning out the good news, creating a political bind Republicans did not envision.

ny times logoNew York Times, Once Reluctant to Speak Out, an Energized Obama Now Calls Out His Successor, Peter Baker, Nov. 3, 2018 (print edition). Former President Barack Obama’s voice has a way of lifting into a high-pitched tone of astonishment when he talks about his successor, almost as if he still cannot believe that the Executive Mansion he occupied for eight years is now the home of President Trump.

bo solo 8 4 14For most of the last two years, he stewed about it in private, only occasionally speaking out. But as he hit the campaign trail this fall, Mr. Obama (shown in a file photo) has vented his exasperation loud and often, assailing his successor in a sharper, more systematic way arguably than any former president has done in three-quarters of a century.

Although some admirers believe he remains too restrained in an era of Trumpian bombast, Mr. Obama has excoriated the incumbent for “lying” and “fear-mongering” and pulling “a political stunt” by sending troops to the border. As he opened a final weekend of campaigning before Tuesday’s midterm elections, Mr. Obama has re-emerged as the Democrats’ most prominent face, pitting president versus president over the future of the country.

washington post logoWashington Post, Obama rips hecklers: Why are the people who won the last election ‘so mad all the time?’ Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Nov. 3, 2018. For former president Barack Obama, it was a spontaneous response to a parade of hecklers — not a teleprompter remark that had been vetted for maximum effect — but it still seemed to sum up the final weeks of a searing midterm election campaign characterized by incendiary rhetoric, politically motivated package bombs and hate.

“Why is it that the folks that won the last election are so mad all the time?” Obama asked a crowd of 4,000 as the fifth interrupting protester was escorted out of a Miami rally on Friday. Any further shouts were drowned out by the crowd’s roar.

whowhatwhy election integrity feed

WhoWhatWhy graphic illustrating its ongoing investigations of voter suppression and electronic election frauds

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Voting Machines — Unregulated, Unverifiable, Easy to Hack, Staff report, Nov. 3, 2018. On Tuesday, millions of Americans will cast their ballots on antiquated machines built when many voters were still in diapers. These machines use software that is even older. They are easy to hack, yet election officials don’t want to recognize that this is a problem.

Georgia GOP Voter Suppression Thwarted

brian kemp

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge rules against Brian Kemp over Ga. voting restrictions days before gubernatorial election, Eli Rosenberg, Nov. 3, 2018 (print edition). The state must change its procedures to make it easier for some people flagged under the state’s restrictive “exact match” law to vote, a federal judge ruled, dealing a blow to Kemp, right, the GOP gubernatorial candidate and secretary of state.

Georgia must change its procedures to make it easier for some people flagged under the state’s restrictive “exact match” law to vote, a federal judge ruled Friday, dealing a blow to Republican gubernatorial candidate and Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

The “exact match” law flags voter registrations that are found to have discrepancies, such as a dropped hyphen, with other official identifications. Potential voters are allowed to settle the discrepancy by providing proof of identity.

stacey abrams campaignBut the state’s procedures under Kemp, whose office oversees elections, stipulated that those who had been flagged as potential noncitizens be cleared first by a deputy registrar when seeking to vote. In October, a coalition of civil rights groups sued him.

[Kemp is both supervising election rules as secretary of state and also running as the GOP candidate for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, left, an African-American and state legislative leader hoping to energize new voters.]

U.S. District Judge Eleanor L. Ross ruled Friday that the procedures were likely to result in the violation of voting rights for a large group of people and needed to be halted immediately. She said Kemp’s restrictions raised “grave concerns for the Court about the differential treatment inflicted on a group of individuals who are predominantly minorities."

The preliminary injunction she issued required the state to change its procedures immediately to allow those flagged, some 3,100 individuals, to prove their citizenship more easily, with a U.S. passport or similar documentation, and only to a poll manager. It also signaled that the coalition of civil rights groups that brought the case against Kemp would probably succeed should the lawsuit continue.

Another Mass Shooting, Analysis

BuzzFeed News, Tallahassee Yoga Shooter Was A Far-Right Misogynist Who Railed Against Women And Minorities, David Mack, Amber Jamieson and Julia Reinstein, Scott Beierle killed two women at a Florida yoga studio on Friday night. He had posted a series of misogynistic videos and songs online, and appeared to identify as an “involuntary celibate.” This is the second deadly attack by an “involuntary celibate” in 2018.

The man who shot dead two women at a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida, on Friday before killing himself was a far-right extremist and self-proclaimed misogynist who railed against women, black people, and immigrants in a series of online videos and songs.

Scott Beierle, 40, was named by Tallahassee Police as the shooter who opened fire inside the Hot Yoga Tallahassee studio, killing two and injuring four other women and a man.

Those killed were named as Dr. Nancy Van Vessem, 61, who worked at Florida State University’s College of Medicine, and FSU student Maura Binkley, 21.

On a YouTube channel in 2014, Beierle filmed several videos of himself offering extremely racist and misogynistic opinions, in which he called women “sluts” and “whores,” and lamented “the collective treachery” of girls he went to high school with.

“There are whores in — not only every city, not only every town, but every village,” he said, referring to women in interracial relationships, whom he said had betrayed “their blood.”

The Tallahassee Police Department could not tell BuzzFeed News whether women were specifically targeted in the attack.

ny times logoNew York Times, How U.S. Law Enforcement Failed to See the Threat of White Nationalism, Janice Reitman, Nov. 3, 2018. For two decades, domestic counterterrorism strategy has ignored the rising danger of far-right extremism.In the atmosphere of willful indifference, a virulent movement has grown and metastasized.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. militia groups head to border, stirred by what they see as Trump’s call to arms, Mary Lee Grant and Nick Miroff, Nov. 3, 2018. Local landowners are worried, and U.S. military planners see potential dangers in the armed groups.

Gun-carrying civilian groups and border vigilantes have heard a call to arms in President Trump’s warnings about threats to American security posed by caravans of Central American migrants moving through Mexico. They’re packing coolers and tents, oiling rifles and tuning up aerial drones, with plans to form caravans of their own and trail American troops to the border.

“We’ll observe and report, and offer aid in any way we can,” said Shannon McGauley, a bail bondsman in the Dallas suburbs who is president of the Texas Minutemen. McGauley said he was preparing to head for the Rio Grande in coming days.

“We’ve proved ourselves before, and we’ll prove ourselves again,” he said.

McGauley and others have been roused by the president’s call to restore order and defend the country against what Trump has called “an invasion,” as thousands of Central American migrants advance slowly through southern Mexico toward the U.S. border. Trump has insisted that “unknown Middle Easterners,” “very tough fighters,” and large numbers of violent criminals are traveling among the women, children and families heading north on foot.

Economics / Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Economic / Political Opinion: The Perversion of Fiscal Policy (Slightly Wonkish), Paul Krugman, right, paul krugmanNov. 2, 2018. Austerity in a slump, stimulus in a boom.

As many people have pointed out, the Trump tax represented a total break with the normal principles of fiscal policy. Historically, we’ve tended to run big deficits when the economy is weak, smaller deficits or surpluses when it’s strong. But now the deficit is soaring even in the face of low unemployment. This is irresponsible, and shows that Republican handwringing over deficits was always phony – which some of us pointed out at the time.

But something that has been pointed out less is that this is actually part of a broader story: fiscal policy has been off the rails since 2010, not because of what it has done to the national debt, but because of what it has done to the macroeconomy.

Here’s what fiscal policy should do: it should support demand when the economy is weak, and it should pull that support back when the economy is strong.

Paul Krugman joined The New York Times in 1999 as an Op-Ed columnist. He is distinguished professor in the Graduate Center Economics Ph.D. program and distinguished scholar at the Luxembourg Income Study Center at the City University of New York. In addition, he is professor emeritus of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School.

Saudi Sisters In NYC: Suicide? Murder?

washington post logoWashington Post, No indication Saudi sisters found in NYC were killed, authorities say, Justin Jouvenal, Nov. 3, 2018 (print edition). The bizarre discovery of the women from Fairfax County, dead and bound with duct tape, turned the case into national news and left a lingering mystery: Had they been killed? The New York City police said Friday the medical examiner has not yet made a determination on the cause or manner of death.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s border deployments could cost $200 million by end of 2018, Paul Sonne, Nov. 3, 2017. The operations come as the White House calls on the Pentagon to slash its budget for next year in response to the largest increase in the federal deficit in six years.

Nov. 2

Trump Pumps Race Fears

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump ratchets up racially divisive messages in a bid to rally support in the midterms, Philip Rucker and Felicia Sonmez, Nov. 2, 2018 (print edition). President Trump, joined by many Republican candidates, is dramatically escalating his efforts to take advantage of racial divisions and cultural fears in the final days of the midterm djt economist cover aug 19 2017campaign, part of an overt attempt to rally white supporters to the polls and preserve the GOP’s congressional majorities.

On Thursday, Trump (shown in a file photo of an Economist cover) ratcheted up the anti-immigrant rhetoric that has been the centerpiece of his midterm push by portraying a slow-moving migrant caravan, consisting mostly of families traveling on foot through Mexico, as a dangerous “invasion” and suggesting that if any migrants throw rocks they could be shot by the troops that he has deployed at the border. The president also vowed to take action next week to construct “massive tent cities” aimed at holding migrants indefinitely and making it more difficult for them to remain in the country.

“If you don’t want America to be overrun by masses of illegal aliens and giant caravans, you better vote Republican,” Trump said at a rally here Thursday evening.

washington post logoWashington Post, After GOP’s 2018 tax cut plans fell apart, immigration filled the campaign void, Damian Paletta and Erica Werner, Nov. 2, 2018. With their 2018 tax plans having failed to come to fruition and their 2017 tax law still polling poorly, President Trump and some other Republicans have made a hard pivot away from economics and into nationalism to energize the conservative base ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections.

Inside DC

washington post logoryan zinke oWashington Post, White House is increasingly concerned Interior Secretary Zinke violated federal rules, Juliet Eilperin, Josh Dawsey and Lisa Rein, Nov. 2, 2018 (print edition). President Trump has asked aides for more information about a Montana land deal under scrutiny by the Justice Department, according to two senior administration officials. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is shown at right.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s election-eve border mission puts the military in partisan crosshairs, Greg Jaffe and Dan Lamothe​, Nov. 2, 2018. President Trump’s decision to send as many as 15,000 troops to the southern border has drawn sharp and unusual criticism from former military leaders. Their blunt words reflect the strain that his unusual presidency has put on one of America’s most important norms: the tradition of an apolitical military.

washington post logoWashington Post, FDA approves a powerful new opioid despite fears of more overdose deaths, Lenny Bernstein, Nov. 2, 2018. The agency approved the new painkiller for use in health-care settings, rejecting criticism from some of its own advisers that it would inevitably be diverted to illicit use. The drug is five to 10 times more potent than pharmaceutical fentanyl.

washington post logokanye west maga hat twitterWashington Post, Kanye West finally became an Obama supporter, David Swerdlick, Nov. 2, 2018. Distancing himself from Trump this week, West declared support for a big chunk of the former president’s agenda. The rapper shown at right wearing a "Make America Great Again" along with a sweatshirt with the name of civil rights protester Colin Kaepernick, has 28 million Twitter followers and recently made news by praising Donald Trump in an extended rant with the president in the Oval Office.

Trump Probes, Suits

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge denies Trump request to stay emoluments suit, could allow plaintiffs to seek details on hotel’s foreign customers, Jonathan O'Connell and David A. Fahrenthold, Nov. 2, 2018. U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte in Greenbelt, Md., denied the Justice Department’s request that he pause the case alleging that the president is violating the Constitution by continuing to do business with foreign governments.

washington post logoWashington Post, High court lets trial proceed on census citizenship question, Robert Barnes, Nov. 2, 2018.​ The Supreme Court refused to delay an upcoming trial in which a number of states and civil rights organizations allege there was an improper political motive in Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

Saudi Murder Of Journalist

king abdullah left crown prince salman abdul aziz third right praying during 2103 funeral saudi press agency via ap

Saudi leaders at 2013 funeral (Saudi royal family photo via Associated Press)

washington post logorecep erdogan throneWashington Post, Opinion: Saudi Arabia still has many questions to answer about Jamal Khashoggi’s killing, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (president of Turkey, shown at right in a file photo,), Nov. 2, 2018. The story is all too familiar: Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and a family man, entered Saudi Arabia’s Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 for marriage formalities. No one – not even his fiancee, who was waiting outside the compound — has ever seen him again.

Over the course of the past month, Turkey has moved heaven and earth to shed light on all aspects of this case. As a result of our efforts, the world has learned that Khashoggi was killed in cold blood by a death squad, and it has been established that his murder was premeditated.

Yet there are other, no less significant questions whose answers will contribute to our understanding of this deplorable act. Where is Khashoggi’s body? Who is the “local collaborator” to whom Saudi officials claimed to have handed over Khashoggi’s remains? Who gave the order to kill this kind soul? Unfortunately, the Saudi authorities have refused to answer those questions.

The murder of Jamal Khashoggi involves a lot more than a group of security officials, just as the Watergate scandal was bigger than a break-in and the 9/11 terror attacks went beyond the hijackers. As responsible members of the international community, we must reveal the identities of the puppetmasters behind Khashoggi’s killing and discover those in whom Saudi officials — still trying to cover up the murder — have placed their trust.

U.S. Politics / Dirty Tricks?

gary hart donna rice monkey business

Model Donna Rice and 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart, a Colorado senator taking a cruise on a yacht named Monkey Business.The photo, allegedly a political dirty trick set up against Hart, was taken during the campaign by Rice's friend Lynn Armandt and provided to the news media

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump and the Hart-less Presidency, Maureen Dowd, Nov. 2, 2018. After 30 years, Gary Hart still wonders what might have been.

While the rest of us obsess on what happened in 2016 and what will happen on Tuesday, Gary Hart is bedeviled by what happened in 1987, and whether the tabloid mania sparked by his liaison with Donna Rice led down a rattlesnake-filled path straight to our tabloid president.

gary hart the front runner jason reitman directorHart, and a new Jason Reitman movie about the Rice imbroglio, The Front Runner, both pose the question: Is there a direct connection between Hart’s fall and Trump’s rise?

If reporters had not hidden in the bushes, would there have been any Bushes?

“I bear a very heavy burden of responsibility,” Hart says, picking at a “game plate” of elk, buffalo and quail at The Fort restaurant outside of Denver. “If all that stuff had not happened and if I had been elected, there would have been no gulf war. H.W. wouldn’t have been president. W. wouldn’t have been president. Everything would have changed. I don’t say that to aggrandize myself. It’s just, history changed.

“And that has haunted me for thirty years. I had only one talent and it wasn’t traditional politics — I could see farther ahead than anybody.’’

Hart maintained that “there was no relationship” with Rice. Rice — who became an evangelical and supports Trump — told People this week, “I’m just not discussing it.” But a married candidate can’t have a gorgeous young model fly up to D.C. from Miami for the weekend to visit his house — “the infamous townhouse,’’ as Hart’s son dryly calls it — and not attract questions if they are seen.

A recent piece by James Fallows in The Atlantic reported that Lee Atwater, the Republican dirty trickster and Poppy Bush party chief, confessed before his death that he had set up Hart for his weekend of doom on “Monkey Business.”

“That’s the only way that 48-hour period makes any sense,’’ Hart told me.

See also for background:

  • Miami Herald, The Gary Hart Story: How It Happened, by Jim McGee, Tom Fiedler and James Savage, May 10, 1987. This article was prepared by Jim McGee, Tom Fiedler and James Savage. It was first published in the Miami Herald on May 10, 1987. It is reprinted with permission of The Miami Herald. Note: This article is from  the University of North Carolina “AFS” site, which is being close on Nov. 13, 2018.
  • The Atlantic, Was Gary Hart Set Up? James Fallows, Oct. 16, 2018. November 2018 issue, What are we to make of the deathbed confession of the political operative Lee Atwater, newly revealed, that he staged the events that brought down the Democratic candidate in 1987?

Nov. 1

U.S. Elections 2018

ny times logoU.S. House logoNew York Times, Meet the Would-Be House Committee Leaders Who Could Torment Trump, Nicholas Fandos, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Catie Edmondson, Nov. 1, 2018 (print edition). If Democrats win control of the House, they will gain control of powerful committees that could put a check on Mr. Trump’s agenda. Expect subpoenas, must-see hearings and lots of investigations.

democratic donkey logoIn the House, the majority rules. Just ask Democrats, who have introduced bills destined for nowhere, watched oversight requests pile up and seen Republicans overrule most of their policy efforts. But if the Democrats take the House on Nov. 6, they will assume control of two of the most powerful tools in Washington: gavels and subpoenas.

Trump Complains Mass Murder Hurt GOP Campaign 'Momentum'

CNN, Trump laments that 'two maniacs' stopped GOP momentum in midterms, Caroline Kelly and Betsy Klein, Nov. 1, 2018. Trump: Maniacs stopped the momentum.

President Donald Trump lamented on Thursday that last week's two domestic terror incidents had stopped Republican momentum ahead of the midterm elections.Trump said the pipe bombs mailed to prominent Democratic politicians and CNN and the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue had taken attention away from the Republican campaign to hold on to control of Congress during the midterms.

"We did have two maniacs stop a momentum that was incredible, because for seven days nobody talked about the elections," he said during his closing remarks at a Missouri rally. "It stopped a tremendous momentum."

Trump acknowledged the human cost of the package bombs and the shooting.

"More importantly, we have to take care of our people, and we don't care about momentum when it comes to a disgrace like just happened to our country," he added. "But it did nevertheless stop a certain momentum, and now the momentum is picking up."

National Emergency?

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump ignoring the curbs on declaring a national emergency, David Nakamura, Nov. 1, 2018 (print edition). As a caravan of migrant families heads toward the United States, the president said that he was “bringing out the military for a National Emergency.” But he has filed no proclamation declaring a national crisis.

U.S. Elections

washington post logoDemocratic-Republican Campaign logosWashington Post, Democrats in prime position to retake House, but wild cards remain, poll shows, Scott Clement and Dan Balz​, Nov. 1, 2018. A Washington Post-Schar School poll of likely voters in battleground districts found the Democratic Party’s base of less frequent voters and concerns about illegal immigration stand out as wild cards in the final days of the midterm elections.

Trump Claims Black George Leader, Yale Law Grad 'Unqualified'

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump, Offering No Evidence, Cites Stacey Abrams’s ‘Past’ and Calls Her ‘Unqualified,’ Alan Blinder, Nov. 1, 2018. President Trump disparaged Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia, in ambiguous and unusually personal terms on Thursday, warning that “her past” left her “not qualified to be the governor.”

stacey abrams campaignMr. Trump did not elaborate and offered no evidence for his assertion, which seemed to be a potential preview of the political message he will deliver on Sunday, two days ahead of the election, at a Georgia rally for Brian Kemp, Ms. Abrams’s Republican rival.

But the decision of the president, who has been criticized for inflammatory language, to invoke Ms. Abrams’s background so broadly was a distinct escalation in his attacks on her bid to become the first black woman to be elected governor in the United States.

Ms. Abrams, a former Democratic leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, has staked out an array of liberal positions during her campaign, but her tenure in the Legislature has drawn measured praise from the Republicans who led the State Capitol.

ny times logoNew York Times, Commentary: When Trump Voters Go For Democrats, Timothy P. Carney (author of the forthcoming book “Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse”), Nov. 1, 2018. Why is the Rust Belt trending blue for the midterms? The collapse of community may provide an answer.

democratic donkey logoIt’s easy to assume that Rust Belt voters have soured on the president, that blue-collar voters are upset Mr. Trump never Made America Great Again. But it’s not about the president: Mr. Trump still has extraordinarily high approval ratings among those who voted for him. The problem for the Republicans is that Mr. Trump made these Rust Belt voters into Trump voters, but he never made them Republicans.

Low social trust and low civic engagement defined the places that swung hardest to Mr. Trump. Because the vote was an expression of alienation and dissatisfaction, rather than an expression of partisan fealty, many of those places will swing back enough to give Democrats statewide wins on Election Day.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Tip Sheet: Warning Signs for G.O.P., Including Steve King; Trump’s Finger Pointing: 5 Days to Go, Jonathan Martin and Matt Flegenheimer, Nov. 1, 2018. We’re entering the homestretch, and our just-completed poll in the New Jersey district of Representative Leonard Lance carries ominous news for him — and for other Republicans in high-income districts....

jon tester oPresident Trump is getting ahead of a possible midterm loss with an unsubtle message to fellow Republicans: It wasn’t me....Senator Jon Tester of Montana has won two Senate elections without clearing 50 percent of the vote. One big reason: A Libertarian on the ballot has presumably hurt the Republican more than Mr. Tester, a Democrat. But on Wednesday, Mr. Tester, right, faced a complication: The Libertarian candidate this year, Rick Breckenridge, endorsed Matt Rosendale, the Republican nominee and state auditor.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Vote against all Republicans. Every single one, Max Boot, Nov. 1, 2018. I’m sick and tired of a president who pretends that a caravan of impoverished refugees is an “invasion” by “unknown Middle Easterners” and “bad thugs” — and whose followers on Fox News pretend the refugees are bringing leprosy and smallpox to the United States. (Smallpox was eliminated about 40 years ago.)

I’m sick and tired of a president who misuses his office to demagogue on immigration — by unnecessarily sending 5,200 troops to the border and by threatening to rescind by executive order the 14th Amendment guarantee of citizenship to anyone born in the United States.

I’m sick and tired of a president who is so self-absorbed that he thinks he is the real victim of mail-bomb attacks on his political opponents — and who, after visiting Pittsburgh despite being asked by local leaders to stay away, tweeted about how he was treated, not about the victims of the synagogue massacre.

Most of all, I’m sick and tired of Republicans who feel that Trump’s blatant bigotry gives them license to do the same — with Rep. Pete Olson (R-Tex.) denouncing his opponent as an “Indo-American carpetbagger,” Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis warning voters not to “monkey this up” by electing his African American opponent, Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.) labeling his “Palestinian Mexican” opponent a “security risk” who is “working to infiltrate Congress,” and Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) accusing his opponent, who is of Indian Tibetan heritage, of “selling out Americans” because he once worked at a law firm that settled terrorism-related cases against Libya.

If you’re sick and tired, too, here is what you can do.

Vote for Democrats on Tuesday. For every office. Regardless of who they are. And I say that as a former Republican. Some Republicans in suburban districts may claim they aren’t for Trump. Don’t believe them. Whatever their private qualms, no Republicans have consistently held Trump to account. They are too scared that doing so will hurt their chances of reelection. If you’re as sick and tired as I am of being sick and tired about what’s going on, vote against all Republicans. Every single one. That’s the only message they will understand.

538.com, Analysis: Election Update: Democrats Need A Systematic Polling Error To Win The Senate, Nate Silver, Nov. 1, 2018. And even that might not be enough.

The divide between the House outlook and the Senate outlook continues to widen. Democrats’ chances of winning a majority remain at or near their all-time highs in our House forecast — ranging between 78 percent (7 in 9) and 85 percent (6 in 7) in the various versions of our model. But they’re at their lowest point yet in the Senate. All three versions of our forecast give them only about 1 in 7 shot (about 15 percent) of taking over the Senate from Republicans.

By a systematic polling error, I mean one that occurs in a correlated way across every race, or in certain groups or races — not merely errors that happen on a one-off basis.

jefferson morley new

Deep State, Former Spy Chiefs Warn of Trump’s Dangerous Radicalization: ‘We Have Four Years to Stop Him,’ Jefferson Morley, right, Nov. 1, 2018. Trump is similar to ISIS in that both use s

angela merkel vladimir putin recep tayyip erdogan emmanuel macron oct. 28 2018

Four Presidents: Angela Merkel of Germany, left to right, Vladimir Putin of Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Emmanuel Macron of France (Oct. 28 2018)

ny times logoNew York Times, 2 Views of Angela Merkel’s Legacy: Stoic Leadership, and Economic Malpractice, Peter S. Goodman, Nov. 1, 2018. The exiting German chancellor is celebrated as a rare leader. But many economists blame her for inflamed populism.

In the political obituaries chronicling the departure of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, the world is preparing to lose a rare source of sober-minded leadership at a time rife with dangerous tumult.

For the European Union, the loss appears grave. The bloc is contending with a nasty divorce with Britain, rising authoritarianism from Hungary and Poland, and a showdown with a populist government in Italy. Ms. Merkel’s pending retirement will remove a stalwart champion for the union’s cohesion. So say countless pundits and editorials.

But many economists take a less generous view of the German chancellor’s place in modern European history. Far from a hero who anchored the bloc under profound challenges, she played a leading role in amplifying an economic crisis, allowing it to erupt into an existential threat to the European Union and its shared euro currency. The resulting distress has undermined faith in the European bloc while fueling anti-establishment grievances across the Continent.

Propaganda 'News'

Dealbreaker.com, Opinion: We Went To Jacob Wohl’s Most Important Press Conference Ever And It Was Everything We’d Hoped It Would Be, Thornton McEnery, Nov. 1, 2018. When we left our quiet, comfortable home in the pre-dawn darkness to drive alone to Washington DC this morning, we did so with the solitary hope the eventual reward would warrant our sacrifice.

Oh, how it did.

Awaiting us hours down I-95 was the promise of a press conference being hosted by our old pal Jacob Wohl and some MAGA DC lawyer that he’d pulled into his latest venture: becoming a global private eye hellbent on destroying prosecutor Robert Mueller. According to Jacob’s pre-sale, he was going to present a victim of sexual assault who would claim that her abuser was none other than Mueller himself. Our boy Jacob was going to show her off to the assembled press at a Holiday Inn in Arlington, VA and end the long investigation into his adopted daddy, President Donald Trump.

We had spent the previous day watching Jacob’s whole plan unravel in the most JacobWohlian way possible. The investigation firm that he claimed had contacted him turned out to be yet another of his adorable shell companies with a web registration bearing his email and a phone number that rang back to his mom’s cell. He had also apparently forgotten to update the photo template on the website he fabricated, leaving up bio headshots of famous actors and models, stock photo faces, and of course, his own head. The whole thing was very cute and dumb and totally what we’ve come to expect from Jacob over the years.

What we didn’t expect though was just how utterly fucking shambolic the whole presser would be once we finally arrived at the Rosslyn Holiday Inn....

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: A Party Defined by Its Lies: At this point, good people can’t be good Republicans, Paul Krugman, right, Nov. 1, 2018. Paul Krugman joined The New York Times in 1999 as an Op-Ed columnist. He is distinguished professor in the Graduate Center Economics Ph.D. program and distinguished scholar at the Luxembourg Income Study Center at the City University of New York. In addition, he is professor emeritus of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School.

President Trump epitomizes the problem of lying by Republicans, but he is far from the only one.

During my first year as an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, I wasn’t allowed to use the word “lie.”

That first year coincided with the 2000 election, and George W. Bush was, in fact, being systematically dishonest about his economic proposals — saying false things about who would benefit from his tax cut and the implications of Social Security privatization. But the notion that a major party’s presidential candidate would go beyond spin to outright lies still seemed outrageous, and saying it was considered beyond the pale.

Obviously that prohibition no longer holds on this opinion page, and major media organizations have become increasingly willing to point out raw falsehoods. But they’ve been chasing a moving target, because the lies just keep getting bigger and more pervasive. In fact, at this point the G.O.P.’s campaign message consists of nothing but lies; it’s hard to think of a single true thing Republicans are running on.

And yes, it’s a Republican problem (and it’s not just Donald Trump). Democrats aren’t saints, but they campaign mostly on real issues, and generally do, in fact, stand for more or less what they claim to stand for. Republicans don’t. And the total dishonesty of Republican electioneering should itself be a decisive political issue, because at this point it defines the party’s character.

What are Republicans lying about? As I said, almost everything. But there are two big themes. They lie about their agenda, pretending that their policies would help the middle and working classes when they would, in fact, do the opposite. And they lie about the problems America faces, hyping an imaginary threat from scary dark-skinned people and, increasingly, attributing that threat to Jewish conspirators.

Both classes of lie are rooted in the real G.O.P. agenda.

republican elephant logoWhat Republicans truly stand for, and have for decades, is cutting taxes on the rich and slashing social programs. Sure enough, last year they succeeded in ramming through a huge tax cut aimed mainly at corporations and the wealthy, and came within one vote of passing a health “reform” that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would have caused 32 million Americans to lose health coverage.

The G.O.P.’s problem is that this agenda is deeply unpopular. Large majorities of Americans oppose cuts in major social programs, while most voters want to raise, not reduce, taxes on corporations and high-income individuals.

But instead of changing their agenda to meet voters’ concerns, Republicans have resorted to a strategy of deception and distraction. On one side, they have gone full black-is-white, up-is-down on policy substance. Most spectacularly, they are posing as defenders of protection for people with pre-existing conditions — protection that their failed health bill would have stripped away, and which they are now trying to take away through the courts. And they’re claiming that Democrats are the ones threatening Medicare.

On the other side, they’re resorting to their old standby: race-based fear.

But selling racial fear was easier in the 1980s and early 1990s, when America really was suffering from high levels of inner-city crime. Since then, violent crime has plunged. What’s a fearmonger to do? The answer is: lie.

 JIPLogo

Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative October 2018 news and views

Note: Excerpts are from the authors' words except for subheads and occasional "Editor's notes" such as this.

U.S. Elections: Early Voting, Poll Place Info

U.S. Voters: Find your polling location here. (This website is an initiative of the Voting Information Project (VIP), a partnership between state election officials and Democracy Works to connect voters with the election information they need to cast a ballot. Launched in 2008, VIP works with state and local election officials to provide official and up-to-date election information.)

Oct. 31

U.S. Elections 2018

washington post logoDemocratic-Republican Campaign logosWashington Post, Trump, a self-styled ‘nationalist,’ turns midterms into a forum on American identity, Matt Viser, Oct. 31, 2018. President Trump escalated his rhetoric on immigration by vowing to end birthright citizenship, a move some experts say would run afoul of the Constitution. Trump’s sharpened tone also creates potential complications for some GOP candidates.

washington post logoWashington Post, Commentary: Trump is wrong. He can’t revoke birthright citizenship, George T. Conway III and Neal Katyal, Oct. 31, 2018 (print edition). George T. Conway III is of counsel at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz [and husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway]. Neal Katyal is a partner at Hogan Lovells and former acting U.S. solicitor general in the Obama administration.

Donald TrumpSometimes the Constitution’s text is plain as day and bars what politicians seek to do. That’s the case with President Trump’s proposal to end “birthright citizenship” through an executive order. Such a move would be unconstitutional and would certainly be challenged. And the challengers would undoubtedly win.

Trump has long argued that birthright citizenship for the children of parents not legally in the United States should be abolished. “It’s ridiculous. And it has to end,” he told Axios in an interview released Tuesday, in which he disclosed his plan for the unilateral action.

But at its core, birthright citizenship is what our 14th Amendment is all about, bridging the Declaration of Independence’s promise that “all men are created equal” with a constitutional commitment that all those born in the United States share in that equality.

washington post logopaul ryan oWashington Post, President Trump said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) “should be focusing on holding the Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about!” John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez, Oct. 31, 2018. President Trump lashed out Wednesday at House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), right, over Ryan’s comments on birthright citizenship, saying he “should be focusing on holding the Majority.”

The extraordinary rebuke from Trump came one day after Ryan pushed back on the president’s remarks on the issue, saying “you cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order.”

ny times logoNew York Times, The Trump Effect, Kobach’s Hand, Tester and DeWine Ads: 6 Days to Go, Matt Flegenheimer and Jonathan Martin, Oct. 31, 2018. Trump’s throw-everything-at-the-wall strategy a week before Election Day — particularly a constitutionally dubious call to end birthright citizenship — has brought new headaches for Republicans.

Republican officials have long had two questions about President Trump in the 2018 elections: Could he help when called upon, lending local candidates his #MAGA sheen in conservative ZIP codes? And could he avoid hurting the party’s cause too much everywhere else?

It’s the second one that’s worrying them now. Mr. Trump’s woeful approval rating in many swing districts is an issue, particularly in some suburban areas represented by Republicans where voters are dismayed at his presidency.

ny times logoNew York Times, How the Vilification of George Soros Moved to the Mainstream, Kenneth P. Vogel, Scott Shane and Patrick Kingsley, Oct. 31, 2018. A loose network of nationalists has used anti-Semitic imagery to cast Mr. Soros, the billionaire Democratic donor, as the shadowy leader of a globalist cabal. In the process, they have pushed their version of Mr. Soros from the dark corners of the internet and talk radio to the center of the political debate.

Trump Watch

washington post logorobert mueller full face fileWashington Post, Mueller probes timing of WikiLeaks release of Podesta emails, Robert Costa, Carol D. Leonnig, Rosalind S. Helderman and Manuel Roig-Franzia, Oct. 31, 2018 (print edition). The special counsel investigation is pressing witnesses about longtime Trump ally Roger Stone’s private interactions with senior campaign officials and whether he had knowledge of politically explosive Democratic emails that were released in October 2016, according to people familiar with the probe.

As part of his investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, right, appears to be focused on the question of whether WikiLeaks coordinated its activities with Stone and the campaign, including the group’s timing, the people said. Stone and WikiLeaks have adamantly denied being in contact.

On Friday, Mueller’s team questioned Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist, about claims Stone is said to have made privately about WikiLeaks before the group released emails that prosecutors say were hacked by Russian operatives, according to people familiar with the session.

Politico, Analysis: Has Mueller Subpoenaed the President? Nelson W. Cunningham, Oct. 31, 2018. A careful reading of court filings suggests the special counsel hasn’t been quiet. Far from it.

These months before the midterm elections are tough ones for all of us Mueller-watchers. As we expected, he has gone quiet in deference to longstanding Justice Department policy that prosecutors should not take actions that might affect pending elections. Whatever he is doing, he is doing quietly and even further from the public eye than usual.

But thanks to some careful reporting by Politico, which I have analyzed from my perspective as a former prosecutor, we might have stumbled upon How Robert Mueller Is Spending His Midterms: secretly litigating against President Donald Trump for the right to throw him in the grand jury.

As a former prosecutor and Senate and White House aide, I predicted here last May that Mueller would promptly subpoena Trump and, like independent counsel Kenneth Starr back in 1998, bring a sitting president before his grand jury to round out and conclude his investigation. What Trump knew and when he knew it, and what exactly motivated his statements and actions, are central to Mueller’s inquiry on both Russian interference and obstruction of justice.

Nelson W. Cunningham has served as a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York under Rudy Giuliani, general counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee under then-Chair Joe Biden, and general counsel of the White House Office of Administration under Bill Clinton.

Politico, Trump denies he’s already in a Mueller subpoena fight, Darren Samuelsohn, Oct. 31, 2018. The special counsel appears to be locked in a legal battle with a mysterious Russia probe target who is fighting a subpoena.

President Donald Trump and his lawyers pushed back in force Wednesday against a Politico op-ed suggesting the president is already locked in a secret subpoena battle with special counsel Robert Mueller.

“No,” the president, shaking his head, told reporters on the White House lawn as he prepared to fly to Fort Myers, Fla., for a midterm campaign rally.

Trump’s remarks echoed those of several current and former members of his personal legal team who swung back against a POLITICO opinion piece written by Nelson Cunningham, a former federal prosecutor who was attempting to decipher a mystery legal battle that appears to involve an attempt to fight a Mueller subpoena.

Cunningham’s op-ed suggested Mueller may have already issued a historic subpoena for the president because of the “unusual alacrity” with which the federal judges weighing the case have considered the issue.

“At every level, this matter has commanded the immediate and close attention of the judges involved — suggesting that no ordinary witness and no ordinary issue is involved,” wrote Cunningham, who worked under then-U.S. attorney Rudy Giuliani in the Southern District of New York and later served in the Clinton administration.

abc news logoABC News, Conspiracy theorist becomes key figure as Mueller builds case, Ali Dukakis, Oct. 31, 2018. Self-proclaimed conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi [right] returned to Washington, D.C., again this week for more closed-door meetings with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators, and on Friday is scheduled to make a second jerome corsiappearance before the federal grand jury probing Russia interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, ABC News has learned.

Reached by ABC News on Wednesday, Corsi's lawyer, David Gray, declined to comment on the matter.

Corsi, who until recently served as the Washington, D.C., bureau chief for the controversial far-right media outlet Infowars, is one of at least 11 individuals associated with political operative Roger Stone -- a longtime and close ally of President Donald Trump -- who have been contacted by the special counsel.

Much remains unknown about Mueller’s interest in Stone. But in recent weeks, Corsi has emerged as a central figure of interest to Mueller as he builds his case, sources confirm to ABC News. Corsi, who Stone told ABC News he has known for years, has frequently appeared with Stone on-air for Infowars, where Stone currently serves as a contributor.

Mueller’s interest in Corsi is believed to stem from his alleged early discussions about efforts to unearth then-candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails. The special counsel has evidence that suggests Corsi may have had advance knowledge that the email account of Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, had been hacked and that WikiLeaks had obtained a trove of damning emails from it, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told ABC News.

Trump / 'White Nationalism' / Racial Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump finally gets the shunning he deserves, Jennifer Rubin, right, Oct. 31, 2018. I cannot imagine the families of those killed in the 1995 Oklahoma City jennifer rubin new headshotbombing refusing to meet with President Bill Clinton; or the families of the Sandy Hook children refusing to meet with President Barack Obama; or the families of 9/11 victims refusing to meet with President George W. Bush; or the shuttle Challenger crew’s family refusing to meet with President Ronald Reagan in 1986.

These presidents, whatever you think of their politics, were decent men, in possession of empathy and a deep understanding of the enormity of the office they held.

The bipartisan refusal of federal, state and local officials (including the Republican speaker and Senate majority leader) to accompany Trump to Pittsburgh and, thereby, condone his self-absorbed presidential photo-op was remarkable and, in a way, unifying.

steve kingPalmer Report, Opinion: The real reason the GOP is suddenly trying to finish off its own Congressman Steve King, Bill Palmer, Oct. 30, 2018. For years, the Republican Party leadership has been just fine with the racist, xenophobic rhetoric coming from GOP Congressman Steve King of Iowa [shown at left].

That’s suddenly changed this week, and the GOP leadership is officially branding King as a racist, just one week before the midterm elections. So what’s really going on here?

Palmer Report, Opinion: Kanye West declares “I’ve been used” and gives up on Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, right, Oct. 30, 2018. It looks like Kanye West has finally figured out what the rest bill palmerof us have known for awhile: Donald Trump and his allies have been using Kanye for craven political purposes. That’s according to an uncharacteristically coherent message posted by Kanye on Twitter this evening, explaining how and why he’s giving up on the whole Trump thing.

The final straw appears to be the “Blexit” stunt by Trump surrogate Candace Owens, centered around merchandise urging black people to abandon the Democratic Party, launched under Kanye West’s name. According to Kanye, he had nothing to do with it, and his name was misappropriated.

Kanye West is – and we don’t say this to be mean – clearly not well. His recent political rants have been painful to watch. Donald Trump has been cruelly taking advantage of a psychologically vulnerable person in the name of race baiting. So it’s a good thing for all involved that Kanye is stepping off the Trump train. We hope he gets the help he appears to need.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. and Britain Seek Cease-Fire in Yemen as Saudi Relations Cool, Gardiner Harris, Eric Schmitt and Rick Gladstone, Oct. 31, 2018. The United States and Britain, Saudi Arabia’s biggest arms suppliers, are stepping up their pressure for a cease-fire in the Yemen war, the world’s worst man-made humanitarian disaster.

The calls for a halt to the conflict — by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday night, his British counterpart, Jeremy Hunt, on Wednesday, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis starting last weekend — came as criticism of Saudi Arabia has surged over its bombing campaign in Yemen and the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident Saudi writer.

Secret Watergate Filing Released

richard nixon desk archives

President Richard Nixon in the White House Oval Office (Photo via Wikimedia and the National Record and Archives Administration).

Lawfare, The Watergate Road Map Unsealed, Benjamin Wittes, Oct. 31, 2018. The National Archives [shown at right] has released the famed — and long mysterious — Watergate national archives“Road Map,” which Special Prosecutor sent to Congress in 1974.

For background on the Road Map, and our litigation to get it released, see here and here. This only just happened, and I have not read the document yet. I’m sure that I will have things to say about it once I have had a chance to digest it, as, I suspect, will Stephen Bates and Jack Goldsmith.

For now, the document itself is [here]; redactions, on initial inspection, seem relatively minor. And here is a trove of related material also available from the National Archive.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. archivists release Watergate report that could be possible ‘road map’ for Mueller, Spencer S. Hsu​, Oct. 31, 2018. One of the last great secrets of the legal case against Nixon is revealed under court order.

U.S. archivists on Wednesday revealed one of the last great secrets of the Watergate investigation — the backbone of a long-sealed report used by special prosecutor Leon Jaworski to send Congress evidence in the legal case against President Richard M. Nixon.

The release of the referral — delivered in 1974 as impeachment proceedings were being weighed — came after a former member of Nixon’s defense team and three prominent legal analysts filed separate lawsuits seeking its unsealing after more than four decades under grand jury secrecy rules. The legal analysts argued the report could offer a precedent and guide for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III as his office addresses its present-day challenge on whether, and if so, how to make public findings from its investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, including any that directly involve President Trump.

The legal specialists said they and Watergate veterans sought to have the Jaworski report made public because of the historical parallels they see to the current probe and the report’s potential to serve as a counterexample to independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's report before President Bill Clinton’s impeachment.The 453-page Starr report, written in 1998, deepened partisan divisions when its graphic detail and legal conclusions about Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky were immediately made public by House Republicans, who suffered an electoral backlash.

By contrast, the reputation of Jaworski’s report has fared far better, even as its bare-bones form remained a mystery. The Jaworski report is known colloquially known as the “Sirica road map,” for then-Chief Judge John J. Sirica, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, who approved its creation and transmission to lawmakers.

“There were no comments, no interpretations and not a word or phrase of accusatory nature. The ‘Road Map’ was simply that — a series of guideposts if the House Judiciary Committee wished to follow them,” Jaworski wrote in his 1976 memoir, “The Right and the Power: The Prosecution of Watergate.”

The House Judiciary Committee recommended that Nixon be impeached in July 1974. He resigned before that recommendation moved ahead.

Sirica’s modern-day successor, Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, on Oct. 11 ordered the disclosure of Jaworski’s report by the National Archives and Records Administration — with limited redactions — in response to petitions by California author and former Nixon deputy Watergate defense counsel Geoffrey Shepard and by Brookings Institution senior fellow Benjamin Wittes; Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard University law professor who led the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel under President George W. Bush; and Stephen Bates, a professor at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, who co-wrote the Starr report with Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh years before his rise to the Supreme Court, as well as other members of Starr’s team.

In a statement, Deana Kim El-Mallawany, counsel for Protect Democracy, which represented the Wittes group, said: “The Road Map is a critical historical precedent for ensuring that the facts uncovered in Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation become public and serve as the basis for whatever accountability is necessary. Our democracy depends on it.”

The road map consists of a two-page summary, followed by 53 numbered statements, supported by 97 documents including interviews and tapes, according to information that the National Archives turned over to Howell.

While much of the report’s substance — including evidence of the Nixon campaign’s funding of the break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters and the president’s role in the subsequent coverup — has long been public, its structure and potential to serve as a template for others remained under seal.

Bates said that as a Starr prosecutor in 1997 he learned that despite the potential for the “road map” to present a legal model for future investigations, such as Mueller’s, it was not publicly available when he asked the National Archives for a copy to study.

“It is one of the only precedents of a report that has had to go through that kind of process [under grand jury secrecy rules] to get to the House for consideration as grounds for impeachment,” Bates said in an interview. “If Mueller could say, ‘We have structured this report the way Leon Jaworski did in 1974, and Judge Sirica approved it,’ that might be persuasive in this case.”

Global Human Rights

washington post logopakistan flag wavingWashington Post, Pakistan’s highest court spares the life of a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy, Shaiq Hussain, Meagan Flynn and Pamela Constable, Oct. 31, 2018 (print edition). Pakistan’s highest court has spared the life of a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy in a long-awaited ruling Wednesday, prompting celebration among human rights activists and countrywide protest by religious parties. Asia Bibi, a mother and farmer, had spent eight years seeking mercy from appeals courts while imprisoned on death row.

The supreme court acquitted Bibi on charges of making “derogatory remarks” about the Muslim prophet Muhammad, ruling that the evidence against her appeared fabricated and insufficient.

If she had been found guilty and not received presidential clemency, Bibi would have been the first person hanged under Pakistan’s strict anti-blasphemy law, which carries a mandatory penalty of death.

“It is ironical that in the Arabic language the appellant’s name Asia means ‘sinful’ but in the circumstances of the present case she appears to be a person, in the words of Shakespeare’s King [Lear], ‘more sinned against than sinning,’” Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa wrote in a concurring opinion.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Zinke’s own agency watchdog just referred him to the Justice Department, Juliet Eilperin and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 31, 2018 (print edition). The Interior ryan zinke lolita zinkeDepartment’s Office of Inspector General has referred one of its probes into the conduct of Secretary Ryan Zinke to the Justice Department for further investigation, according to two individuals familiar with the matter.

Deputy Inspector General Mary L. Kendall, who is serving as acting inspector general, is conducting at least three probes that involve Zinke [shown at right with his wife Lolita, a conservative political activist]. These include his involvement in a Montana land deal and the decision not to grant two tribes approval to operate a casino in Connecticut. The individuals did not specify which inquiry had been referred to the Justice Department.

Sports Death Controversy

washington post logoWashington Post, University of Maryland parts ways with football coach DJ Durkin in wake of player’s heatstroke death in June, Rick Maese, Emily Giambalvo and Nick Anderson, Oct. 31, 2018. One day after issuing a stunning endorsement of Durkin, the University System of Maryland Board of Regents faced heightened pressure from both state and federal lawmakers.

Maryland parted ways with football Coach DJ Durkin on Wednesday evening, one day after he was reinstated. Durkin, who had been on administrative leave since Aug. 11 following media reports that outlined a culture of abuse, fear and intimidation that allegedly took place under his watch, was not fired for cause and will be bought out of his contract.

Maryland’s football program and athletic department have been the focus of scrutiny for months, following the death Jordan McNair, a 19-year-old football player who suffered exertional heatstroke at a team workout in late May and died several days later.

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: Maryland ought to be ashamed, Barry Svrluga (sports columnist), Oct. 31, 2018 (print edition). The University of Maryland’s decision to retain football coach DJ Durkin and athletic director Damon Evans underscores the institution’s misguided response to the death of a football player.

More On U.S. Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, In Florida Rally, Trump Calls Constitutional Citizenship Protections ‘a Crazy Policy,’ Katie Rogers, Oct. 31, 2018. The president told a rapt crowd that “illegal immigrants are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.” (Legal experts would widely disagree.)

With a somber trip to Pittsburgh to visit victims of a synagogue shooting behind him, President Trump flew to one of his favorite places in the world — Florida — on Wednesday to host another one of his high-decibel political rallies.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump will be in Missouri. Before the week is out, he will hit West Virginia, Montana and Indiana, all part of an 11-rally blitz leading to the midterm elections on Tuesday.

That is fast, even for him.

For Mr. Trump, the next five days feature battleground states where the Republican Party’s hold on the House is in peril and come on the heels of a high-profile Twitter slap at Speaker Paul Ryan, who shot down Mr. Trump’s latest promise to issue an executive order denying birthright citizenship to people born to undocumented immigrants.

andrew gillum oMr. Trump was here to stump for Gov. Rick Scott, who is mounting a challenge against the incumbent Senator Bill Nelson, and for Ron DeSantis, a former Republican congressman facing a tight governor’s race against Andrew Gillum, the Democratic mayor of Tallahassee. On Twitter, Mr. Trump has accused of Mr. Gillum of running one of the most “corrupt” cities in the United States, a point Mr. DeSantis himself tried to hammer home onstage.

“I’m the only guy,” Mr. DeSantis said, “who can credibly say I’m not under investigation for corruption.”

The crowd responded with a chant tailored for Mr. Gillum, right, who has struggled amid investigations into his connections with a lobbyist tied to an F.B.I. investigation, and accepting gifts from an undercover agent: “Lock Him Up.”

Along with denouncing Democrats and journalists, Mr. Trump — and the candidates who model themselves in his image — has made immigration, and fears about it, the cornerstone of efforts to animate Floridians to vote for Republicans.

ny times logoDemocratic-Republican Campaign logosNew York Times, Democratic Dark-Money Group Floods the Zone With $30 Million, Alexander Burns, Oct. 31, 2018. A structure unknown even to some of those involved, Floridians for a Fair Shake and 13 other groups around the country are funded and coordinated out of a single office in Washington, with the goal of battering Republicans for their health care and economic policies during the midterm elections.

The Hub Project — run by a former Obama administration official and public relations specialist, Leslie Dach, and Arkadi Gerney, a former political strategist for the liberal Center for American Progress — set up an array of affiliate groups around the country, many with vaguely sympathetic names like Keep Iowa Healthy, New Jersey for a Better Future and North Carolinians for a Fair Economy. The Hub Project then used them to mobilize volunteers and run advertising on policy issues against Republican members of Congress many months before the election.

democratic donkey logoMore than a dozen of the targeted lawmakers remain among the most endangered incumbents this year, including Representatives Rod Blum of Iowa, Bruce Poliquin of Maine, Steve Knight of California and George Holding of North Carolina.

The quiet onslaught embodied two of the most important strategic choices by Democrats in the 2018 elections — putting health care and taxes at the core of their message, and using invigorated fund-raising on the left to challenge Republicans even in conservative-leaning areas. Several Democratic operatives involved in the group likened its role to that of Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy network funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, during the Obama administration, albeit on a significantly smaller scale.

Mr. Gerney displayed no ambivalence about using undisclosed contributions — traditionally a source of dismay for Democrats — to punish Republicans for last year’s $1.5 trillion tax law and their attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“We don’t believe in unilateral disarmament,” Mr. Gerney said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrat says conservative group Project Veritas infiltrated her campaign in Va.’s tight 7th District, Laura Vozzella, Oct. 31, 2018. A conservative group that creates undercover “sting” videos infiltrated the campaign of Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat in a tight race with Rep. Dave Brat in Virginia’s 7th District.

The campaign said a young woman working for Project Veritas posed as a Democratic volunteer and spent every day over the past several weeks in Spanberger’s suburban Richmond campaign office, performing basic office tasks — and peppering her office mates with questions that eventually raised red flags.

Campaign staffers on Wednesday confronted her and asked her to leave, a video released by the campaign shows. “Dirty tricks like these are the worst part of politics, and this is exactly what Abigail is running to change,” Spanberger’s campaign manager, Dana Bye, said in an email. “We are proud of the campaign we have run, and wonder if Congressman Brat and his allies can say the same. While others may scrape the bottom of the barrel out of desperation, Abigail and our campaign will remain focused on talking to our neighbors on their doorsteps about the issues that matter to our community — that’s the campaign voters deserve and it’s the campaign that we believe will carry us to victory.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Pittsburgh shooting suspect charged in 44-count hate crime indictment, Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett and Mark Berman, Oct. 31, 2018. Robert Bowers, 46, of Baldwin, Pa., was charged in the shooting deaths of 11 people at Tree of Life synagogue on Saturday. The charges against him could carry the death penalty, though that will be decided later by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

ny times logoNew York Times, Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat in a tough race in Missouri, slammed “crazy Democrats” on Fox News, Liam Stack, updated on Oct. 31, 2018. Senator claire mccaskill oClaire McCaskill, the Missouri Democrat facing one of the country’s toughest re-election races, raised eyebrows on Monday when she distanced herself from leading members of her own party, including two possible presidential hopefuls, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, in a Fox News interview about “crazy Democrats.”

Ms. McCaskill, right, who has been attacked by her Republican challenger, Josh Hawley, as too liberal for Missouri, was asked on Fox about a radio ad that sunnily describes her as “not one of those crazy Democrats.”

When asked who she considered to be crazy Democrats, Ms. McCaskill pointed to liberal activists who have publicly confronted Trump administration officials and other Republican figures in recent months.

Looking Back: Dirty Tricks or Scandal?

gary hart donna rice monkey business

Model Donna Rice and 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart, a Colorado senator taking a cruise on a yacht named Monkey Business.The photo, allegedly a political dirty trick set up against Hart, was taken during the campaign by Rice's friend Lynn Armandt and provided to the news media

People, 31 Years After Gary Hart Sex Scandal, Donna Rice Hughes Can Feel PTSD from Old Media Firestorm, Sandra Sobieraj Westfall, Oct. 31, 2018. At first, she hoped she could remain anonymous.

When The Miami Herald‘s bombshell front-page headline — “Miami woman is linked to Hart; Candidate denies any impropriety” — hit newsstands on May 3, 1987, the 29-year-old woman in question thought her name could be kept out of what quickly spun into the first big political scandal of its kind. Hart, of course, was Gary Hart, the married U.S. senator from Colorado who, at the time, seemed to be coasting toward the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination.

The woman, spied by Herald reporters who staked out Hart’s Washington, D.C., home to investigate his reputation for womanizing, was Donna Rice, then a pharmaceutical sales rep and model-actress living in Miami.

Known today by her married name, Donna Rice Hughes spoke exclusively to PEOPLE for the new issue on newsstands Friday, ahead of the Nov. 21 nationwide opening of The Front Runner, director Jason Reitman’s big-screen retelling of the 1987 sex scandal that shut down Hart’s campaign and tarred Hughes, in her words, as a “bimbo, homewrecker, sleaze.”

“The Miami Herald didn’t know my identity. Somebody in the Hart campaign released my name to the media and so within the day the story broke, my name and other things were released,” Hughes, now 60, recalls in an interview at the kitchen table of the D.C.-area home she shares with her husband, Jack, a tech-industry businessman.

See also: The Atlantic, Was Gary Hart Set Up? James Fallows, Oct. 16, 2018. November 2018 issue, What are we to make of the deathbed confession of the political operative Lee Atwater, newly revealed, that he staged the events that brought down the Democratic candidate in 1987?

Pittsburgh Shooting Followup

washington post logoWashington Post, Pittsburgh shooting suspect charged in 44-count hate crime indictment, Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett and Mark Berman, Oct. 31, 2018. Robert Bowers, 46, of Baldwin, Pa., was charged in the shooting deaths of 11 people at Tree of Life synagogue on Saturday. The charges against him could carry the death penalty, though that will be decided later by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Whitey Bulger Murder Mystery

ny times logoNew York Times, Whitey Bulger’s Fatal Prison Beating: ‘He Was Unrecognizable,’ Katharine Q. Seelye, William K. Rashbaum and Danielle Ivory, Oct. 31, 2018. Boston’s notorious crime boss, a longtime federal informer and a prolific killer, had many enemies. Still, his death, coming within hours of his transfer to a West Virginia prison, immediately raised questions: How was he left so vulnerable?

The inmates who killed James (Whitey) Bulger, Boston’s notorious crime boss, deliberately moved out of view of surveillance cameras in a West Virginia prison before pummeling him with a padlock that was stuffed inside a sock, law enforcement officials said on Wednesday, as investigations began into how such a murder could have taken place in a supposedly secure facility.

Despite the attackers’ efforts to hide, officials said, cameras caught video images of at least two inmates rolling Mr. Bulger, 89, who was in a wheelchair, into a corner where the attack took place. Mr. Bulger was bleeding profusely when he was found by prison authorities at 8:20 Tuesday morning. Guards immediately undertook lifesaving measures, officials said, but he was pronounced dead.

A prison official identified one of the suspects as Fotios (Freddy) Geas, 51, a Mafia hit man from West Springfield, Mass. He is serving a life sentence at the Hazelton penitentiary in West Virginia for the 2003 killing of the leader of the Genovese crime family in Springfield.

Daniel D. Kelly, who has represented Mr. Geas for many years, said in an interview that he had no idea whether his client was involved in killing Mr. Bulger, who was an informant for the F.B.I., a relationship he manipulated as a cover while he betrayed and murdered rival gang members.

Mr. Bulger’s death, within hours of his arrival at the prison, raised numerous questions. Mr. Bulger, a longtime federal informer and a prolific killer over several decades, knew many who would want him dead. But how was he left vulnerable to a beating so forceful that it displaced his eyeballs?

Oct. 30

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s quiet visit to a grieving Pittsburgh met with hostility, Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey and Mark Berman, Oct. 30, 2018. The White House invited the top Republicans and Democrats in Congress and local leaders. Pittsburgh’s mayor had urged the president not to visit until after the funerals.

djt economist cover aug 19 2017President Trump (shown in a file photo of an Economist cover) visited a grief-stricken Pittsburgh on Tuesday in a trip meant to unify after tragedy, but his arrival provoked protests from residents and consternation from local officials in the aftermath of the synagogue shooting that left 11 people dead.

The hastily planned day trip — which the city’s mayor urged Trump not to make — was executed with no advance public itinerary and without congressional and local politicians. Some had declined to accompany the president, and others were not invited.

Trump did not speak publicly during his brief trip, instead quietly paying tribute at Tree of Life synagogue by laying flowers for the 11 victims and visiting a hospital to see officers who were wounded in Saturday’s shooting. But Trump’s trip to the area so soon after the attack tore open political tensions in the largely Democratic city, as residents angered by Trump’s arrival protested even as the first couple tried to keep a low profile during the solemn, afternoon visit.

washington post logoWashington Post, A mass shooting and a Trump visit expose a divided U.S., Greg Jaffe​, Oct. 30, 2018. Pittsburgh and its suburbs are a reflection of a country so fractured that many in the area are asking whether the president and his most ardent supporters bear some culpability for the tragedy. Others bristle with anger at the suggestion.

Mueller Claims Phony Sex Claims Against Him

robert mueller full face fileThe Atlantic, Mueller Wants the FBI to Look at a Scheme to Discredit Him, Natasha Bertrand, Oct. 30, 2018. The special counsel says a woman was offered money to fabricate sexual-harassment claims.

A company that appears to be run by a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist offered to pay women to make false claims against Special Counsel Robert Mueller (right) in the days leading up to the midterm elections — and the special counsel's office has asked the FBI to weigh in.

“When we learned last week of allegations that women were offered money to make false claims about the Special Counsel, we immediately referred the matter to the FBI for investigation,” the Mueller spokesman Peter Carr told me in an email on Tuesday.

The special-counsel office’s attention to this scheme and its decision to release a rare statement about it indicates the seriousness with which the team is taking the purported plot to discredit Mueller in the middle of an ongoing investigation. Carr confirmed that the allegations were brought to the office’s attention by several journalists, who were contacted by a woman who identified herself as Lorraine Parsons. Another woman, Jennifer Taub, contacted Mueller's office earlier this month with similar information.

republican elephant logoThe woman identifying herself as Parsons told journalists in an email, a copy of which I obtained, that she had been offered roughly $20,000 by a man claiming to work for a firm called Surefire Intelligence — which had been hired by a GOP activist named Jack Burkman — “to make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller.”

Parsons wrote in her letter that she had worked for Mueller as a paralegal at the Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro law firm in 1974, but that she “didn’t see” him much. “When I did see him, he was always very polite to me, and was never inappropriate,” she said. The law firm told me on late Tuesday afternoon, however, that it has “no record of this individual working for our firm.”

fbi logoParsons explained that she was contacted by a man “with a British accent” who wanted to ask her “a couple questions about Robert Mueller, whom I worked with when I was a paralegal for Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro in 1974. I asked him who he was working for, and he told me his boss was some sort of politics guy in Washington named Jack Burkman. I reluctantly told [him] that I had only worked with Mr. Mueller for a short period of time, before leaving that firm to have my first son.”

Surefire Intelligence describes itself as “a private intel agency that designs and executes bespoke solutions for businesses and individuals who face complex business and litigation challenges.” Surefire’s domain records list an email for another pro-Trump conspiracy theorist, Jacob Wohl, who began hyping a “scandalous” Mueller story on Tuesday morning.

Wohl told The Daily Beast that Burkman had hired Surefire to assist with his investigation into Mueller’s past, but denied knowing anything about the firm’s involvement in an alleged plot to fabricate allegations against Mueller when asked why his email address appeared in the domain records. He did not respond when asked by NBC why a telephone number listed on Surefire’s website referred callers to another number that’s listed in public records as belonging to Wohl’s mother.

In an emailed statement, Burkman denied knowing Parsons and called the FBI referral “a joke, mueller wants to deflect attention from his sex assault troubles by attacking me.” He added in a separate email that “on Thursday 1200 NOON ROSSYLN HOLIDAY INN we will present a very credible witness who will allege that Mr. Mueller committed against her a sexual assault.” Mueller’s spokesman reiterated that the claims are false.

Burkman, a conservative radio host, is known for spreading conspiracy theories. He launched his own private investigation into the murder of the Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, dangled uncorroborated claims of sexual harassment against a sitting member of Congress, and earlier this year offered $25,000 to FBI whistle-blowers for any information exposing wrongdoing during the 2016 election.

Synogogue Shooting Aftermath

washington post logorobert bowersWashington Post, Victim’s family, top officials shun Trump visit to Pittsburgh, Moriah Balingit, Avi Selk and Mark Berman​, Oct. 30, 2018. The family of at least one of the 11 people killed at Tree of Life synagogue has turned down President Trump’s offer to meet with them, in part because of comments Trump made after the attack.

Pipe Bombing Hit List

ny times logoNew York Times, Mail Bomb Suspect Had a List of 100 Potential Targets, Officials Say, Alan Blinder and William K. Rashbaum, Oct. 29, 2018. Even as the Florida bombing suspect cesar sayoc nypost front page oct 27 2018appeared in court on Monday in connection with more than a dozen explosive devices sent to critics of President Trump, an additional threatening package addressed to CNN was recovered and investigators said that the suspect had prepared a list of about 100 possible targets.

The federal authorities did not publicly name the individuals and news organizations on the list that they believe the suspect, Cesar Sayoc Jr. [shown at right in a New York Post front page] compiled before his arrest on Friday, but law enforcement officials have begun notifying people who appeared on it. The list and the package recovered on Monday suggested that the national turmoil that Mr. Sayoc is accused of unleashing could have lasted considerably longer had law enforcement officials not moved in when they did.

While the authorities issued their private warnings to the possible targets on Monday, postal officials intercepted the 15th suspicious package possibly linked to Mr. Sayoc — this one addressed to the Atlanta headquarters of CNN — and Mr. Sayoc, shackled and dressed in a tan jumpsuit, made an initial court appearance in Miami.

Mr. Sayoc has been charged with crimes that could lead to nearly 50 years in prison and is accused of mailing explosive devices to some of President Trump’s most well-known opponents, including former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. CNN, which Mr. Trump has routinely condemned, was targeted last week and again on Monday, when postal officials in Atlanta recovered a package intended for the network’s headquarters.

pittsburgh steelers strong than hate logo

A specially redesigned Pittsburgh Steelers logo pays respect to those affected by the horrific and cowardly terrorist attack on The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh

washington post logodonald trump flag mouthWashington Post, Congressional leaders decline to join Trump in visit to Pittsburgh after massacre, Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 30, 2018. President Trump will visit Pittsburgh later Tuesday to pay tribute to the 11 victims of the mass shooting at a synagogue there — yet he is traveling with no official public itinerary, little planning, and without congressional and local leaders whom the White House invited on the trip.

The White House asked the top four congressional leaders — House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mitchell McConnellMcConnell (R-Ky.), left, and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) — to accompany Trump and first lady Melania Trump to Pittsburgh but all declined, according to three officials familiar with the invitations.

A spokesman for the city’s Democratic mayor, Bill Peduto, said he was invited but will not be appearing with the president. Peduto had urged Trump not to visit Pittsburgh until after the funerals for the victims had concluded, saying, “all attention [Tuesday] should be on the victims.”

Peduto also added: “We do not have enough public safety officials to provide enough protection at the funerals and to be able at the same time draw attention to a potential presidential visit.”

Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) was also invited to join Trump in Pittsburgh, but a spokesman said Toomey will be attending previously scheduled commitments in the southeastern part of the state. Toomey has attended a vigil and met with law enforcement officials and Jewish leaders in Pittsburgh since the shooting, spokesman Steve Kelly said. Sen. Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.), who is scheduled to attend a service in southeastern Pennsylvania when Trump visits Pittsburgh, did not get an invitation from the White House, a spokesman said.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, both Democrats, are also not expected to attend with the president. Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), who represents the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh where the shooting occurred, has not been invited by the White House, according to a spokesman, nor was Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.), another Pittsburgh-area congressman, according to a person close to him.

City and local officials, who were not given any advance notice of the White House’s plans before they were announced, are expecting at least two protests to coincide with the funerals. “No one wants him to come here today,” said one person involved in the planning of the events

washington post logoWashington Post, After crises, White House mixes scorched-earth election attacks with calls for unity, Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 30, 2018. The fraught balancing act was on display during a briefing in which press secretary Sarah Sanders alternately sought to soothe national divisions and to inflame them. Sanders choked up while decrying the “heinous acts” in Pittsburgh and said that Trump had “risen to that occasion” and helped bring the country together.

Simultaneously, however, she parroted Trump’s scathing indictment of the media as partly responsible for the hateful atmosphere and vowed the president would continue to go after Democrats to highlight “the differences between the two parties.”

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. agency vows to investigate broadcast report that called George Soros a ‘multimillionaire Jew,’ Felicia Sonmez, Oct. 30, 2018. The segment, aired by Radio and Television Martí in May, described Soros as a “non-practicing Jew of flexible morals.” It also frequently referred to the conservative group Judicial Watch, which has launched an “Expose Soros” campaign.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: President Trump has made 6,420 false or misleading claims over 649 days, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, Updated Oct. 30, 2018.  Trump made more false or misleading claims in the seven weeks before the midterms than he did in the first nine months of his presidency.

Trump Anti-Immigrant Moves

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump eyes order to end birthright citizenship, a move many experts say runs afoul of the Constitution, John Wagner​, Oct. 30, 2018. The action would be the most aggressive action yet by a president elected to office pledging to take a hard line on immigration, an issue he has revived in advance of next week’s midterms.

GOP Voter Suppression: Newsworthy?

ny times logoNew York Times, In North Dakota, Native Americans Try to Turn an ID Law to Their Advantage, Maggie Astor, Oct. 30, 2018. Nobody in the squat yellow house serving as the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s get-out-the-vote headquarters knew its address. It was on Red Tail Hawk Avenue; they knew that much. But the number was anyone’s guess. Phyllis Young, a longtime tribal activist leading the voter-outreach effort, said it had fallen off the side of the house at some point. Her own home has a number only because she added one with permanent marker.

This is normal on Native American reservations. Buildings lack numbers; streets lack signs. Even when a house has an address in official records, residents don’t necessarily know what it is.

Yet under a law the Supreme Court allowed to take effect this month, North Dakotans cannot vote without a residential address. Post office boxes, which many Native Americans rely on, aren’t enough anymore.

The Republican-controlled state legislature began debating this requirement just a few months after Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat, won a Senate seat in 2012 with strong support from Native Americans. That race was decided by fewer than 3,000 votes. Ms. Heitkamp is now seeking re-election in one of the nation’s most aggressively contested elections, and she is trailing her Republican opponent, Representative Kevin Cramer, in the polls. And once again, she is looking to Native Americans for a strong vote: there are at least 30,000 of them in North Dakota.

Supporters of the address requirement say it is needed to prevent voter fraud and has nothing to do with Ms. Heitkamp. Native Americans, noting that state officials have not confirmed any pattern of fraud, see it as an attempt at voter suppression.

But in these final days before the election, their tribal governments are working feverishly to provide the necessary identification, and some Native Americans believe their anger could actually fuel higher turnout.

margaret sullivan 2015 photo

washington post logoWashington Post, Commentary: Voter suppression is a crucial story in America, but broadcast news mostly shrugs, Margaret Sullivan (shown above), Oct. 30, 2018 (print edition). With the midterm elections a week away, and tensions building daily, a bipartisan rallying cry grows louder: People must get out and vote.

But how possible is that, exactly, for some Americans? In North Dakota, thousands of Native American voters may be prevented from voting next week in a key Senate race because of an ugly technicality that amounts to targeted voter suppression.

In Georgia, hundreds of thousands of citizens were “purged” from the voting rolls in what election-law experts have called the worst disenfranchisement of voters in modern American history.

Yes, voter suppression is alive and well in the United States. But Americans who rely on the broadcast news networks for their information, and they still number in the millions every night, probably don’t know about it.

cbs news logoObsessed with all things Trump — caravan invasion, anyone? — and occupied with breaking news about hurricanes and mass shootings, the networks have almost ignored voter suppression.

With the consequential midterm elections only a week away, the near silence is deafening.

nbc news logo“What is happening to voting rights is fundamental to how we function as a country,” says Robert Greenwald, an independent filmmaker who is trying to fill the gap with a video that explores the problem. “There has been nowhere near enough media attention,” he told me.

Andrew Tyndall, who closely tracks network news for his well-respected Tyndall Report newsletter and website, has a plausible theory about why.

“The network news divisions have not worked out how to cover politics without following the agenda set by President Trump,” he told me by email. “That’s not to say their coverage is pro-Trump, since they will use his agenda to present him in both a positive and negative light. But it does mean that they find it difficult to present politics as being abc news logoabout anything except him.”

Since Labor Day, Tyndall told me last week, the three broadcast networks (CBS, NBC and ABC) together had done only a handful of stories — fewer than 10, all told — on threats to voting rights.

More On U.S. Politics

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: Hate Is on the Ballot Next Week, Paul Krugman, right, Oct. 30, 2018 (print edition). Don’t let the whataboutists and bothsiders tell you it isn’t. In America 2018, whataboutism is the last refuge of scoundrels, and bothsidesism is the last refuge of cowards.

In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re in the midst of a wave of hate crimes. Just in the past few days, bombs were mailed to a number of prominent Democrats, plus CNN. Then, a gunman massacred 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Meanwhile, another gunman killed two African-Americans at a Louisville supermarket, after first trying unsuccessfully to break into a black church — if he had gotten there an hour earlier, we would probably have had another mass murder.

All of these hate crimes seem clearly linked to the climate of paranoia and racism deliberately fostered by Donald Trump and his allies in Congress and the media.

So how are Trump apologists dealing with this ugly picture? Partly through denial, pretending not to see any link between hateful rhetoric and hate crimes. But also through attempts to spread the blame by claiming that Democrats are just as bad if not worse. Trump supporters try to kill his critics? Well, some Trump opponents have yelled at politicians in restaurants!

This whataboutism doesn’t stop with equating protests with violence. It also relies on outright lying. This needs to stop, and those who keep practicing bothsidesism need to be shamed. At this point, pretending that both sides are equally to blame, or attributing political violence to spreading hatred without identifying who’s responsible for that spread, is a form of deep cowardice.

Politico, Trump’s Culture Warriors Go Home, Ben Schreckinger, Oct. 30, 2018 (November/December 2018 print edition). They were poised to storm Washington. Then America stopped caring.

steve bannon fileIn February of this year, at the close of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, the pro-Trump blogger Mike Cernovich trekked to the Capitol Hill townhouse that serves as the personal headquarters for former White House adviser Steve Bannon (shown at right). 

republican elephant logoCernovich was there to vent. Seated at the long dining room table where Bannon hosts visitors, he complained that Trump had stopped sticking up for his most loyal supporters. He mentioned some public altercations at which anti-fascist demonstrators had assaulted Trump fans.

After the meeting, Cernovich, a fixture in the capital during the first year of the Trump administration, walked out into the dusk, strolled past the Supreme Court and took out his phone to begin livestreaming to his followers about other subjects. He has not been back to Washington since.

Two years ago, Cernovich was an indefatigable Trump cheerleader, among the most prominent of a small vanguard of Trumpist culture warriors who trolled their way from the fringes of the right-wing internet to real-world relevance. Loosely lumped together as the celebrities of the “alt-right” — a label most of them have since disavowed — they hailed from different corners of the web and professed different views, but they were united by a shared disdain for progressives and establishment Republicans, and a shared faith that the disruptive outsider named Donald Trump could usher in the change they believed America needed.

Once unleashed in Washington, they harbored dreams of taking over the Republican Party and pushing American popular culture sharply rightward. And, at a moment when it seemed that anything was possible in American politics, it looked like this group of fringe web firebrands just might be able to harness the right’s anti-establishment energy into a muscular and profitable movement.

No longer.

Mob Murder?

whitey bulger mugs 1953

ny times logoNew York Times, James ‘Whitey’ Bulger Said to Have Been Killed by Inmates in Prison Attack, Danielle Ivory and William K. Rashbaum, Oct. 30, 2018. James (Whitey) Bulger (shown above in 1953 mug shots), the South Boston mobster who was captured after years on the run, was killed in a West Virginia federal prison by at least two inmates, according to two Federal Bureau of Prisons employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information was not yet public.

Mr. Bulger, 89, had been transferred to the U.S. Penitentiary, Hazelton in Bruceton Mills, W. Va., on Monday and was beaten to death shortly after his arrival, according to the two prison workers. One of workers said that the inmates were thought to be “affiliated with the mob,” but did not know the specifics of the association.

A senior law enforcement official who oversees organized crime cases but was not involved in the investigation into Mr. Bulger’s death, said he was told by a federal law enforcement official that an organized crime figure was believed to be responsible for the killing.

whitey bulger US Marshals Service Mug1One of the prison workers said that Mr. Bulger (shown also at right), who had been serving a life sentence for 11 murders, had been transferred to the Hazelton prison after he had threatened a staff member at the Coleman prison complex in Sumterville, Fla.

A shortage of correctional officers has become chronic under President Trump, leaving some prison workers feeling ill-equipped and unsafe on the job, according to a New York Times investigation published this year. The Hazelton prison in particular has been plagued by violence. The prison has regularly assigned support staff to guard duty since mid-2016, though it recently tried to curtail the practice. Last year, The Times found, the prison had 275 violent episodes, including fights among inmates and major assaults on staff, an almost 15 percent increase from 2016.

Related: Washington Post, Whitey Bulger, Boston crime boss and elusive fugitive, dead in prison at 89, Paul Duggan​, Oct. 30, 2018.

 Khashoggi Murder Case

washington post logorecep tayyip erdogan o presidentWashington Post, Turkish president demands answers from Saudis over Khashoggi killing, Louisa Loveluck​, Oct. 30, 2018. “Now the time has come to solve this,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, who used a parliamentary speech to address the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that his chief prosecutor has asked his Saudi counterpart to reveal who ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. government network infected with malware from Russian porn site, Michael Brice-Saddle, Oct. 30, 2018. An employee at the U.S. Geological Survey looked at more than 9,000 pornography Web pages at work and infected the agency's network with malware, prompting calls to bolster security measures. The employee no longer works for the USGS.

Oct. 29

Synogogue Shooting Aftermath

ny times logoNew York Times, Pittsburgh Shooting Suspect Appears in Court; Prosecutors Vow to Pursue Death Penalty, Campbell Robertson, Sabrina Tavernise and Matthew Haag, Oct. 29, 2018. The man accused of killing 11 congregants in a hate-filled attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue appeared in court for the first time on Monday.

robert bowersRobert Bowers, right, appeared before Magistrate Judge Robert C. Mitchell in the federal courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh in a wheelchair, handcuffed and wearing a blue sweatshirt and gray sweatpants, surrounded by United States marshals. The judge listed an overview of the 29 criminal charges against him and asked him if he understood them. “Yes,” he replied.

The charges included obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs — a hate crime, which can carry the death penalty, a sentence that federal authorities said Sunday they intended to pursue. He also faces state charges.

Mr. Bowers was flanked by two public defenders representing him and declined to have the judge read the full criminal complaint and the penalties should he be found guilty. He was ordered held without bail and his next hearing was scheduled for Thursday.

Earlier on Monday, two Jewish groups called on President Trump to back down from what they said was inflammatory rhetoric that seemed to be encouraging the most radical fringes of American society. The victims of the attack, beloved members of one of the country’s vital Jewish communities, were mostly in their 70s and 80s.

washington post logoWashington Post, As worship began, a gunman brought evil to a Pittsburgh sanctuary, Lenny Bernstein, Kyle Swenson, Gabriel Pogrund and Steve Hendrix, Oct. 29, 2018 (print edition). It was obvious to SWAT officers entering Tree of Life synagogue that a high-powered rifle had been used to kill elderly congregants. A hunt, and a perilous shootout, followed.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump, GOP reject allegations that incendiary rhetoric fueled climate of violence, Robert Costa and Felicia Sonmez, Oct. 29, 2018 (print edition). The partisan brawl that erupted reflected a relatively new front in the country’s political divide just ahead of the midterm elections.

President Donald Trump officialPresident Trump and his Republican allies remained defiant Sunday amid allegations from critics that Trump’s incendiary attacks on political rivals and racially charged rhetoric on the campaign trail bear some culpability for the climate surrounding a spate of violence in the United States.

Trump, who has faced calls to tone down his public statements, signaled that he would do no such thing — berating billionaire liberal activist Tom Steyer, a target of a mail bomb sent by a Trump supporter, as a “crazed & stumbling lunatic” on Twitter, after Steyer said on CNN that Trump and the Republican Party have created an atmosphere of “political violence.”

Later Sunday, Trump lashed out again on Twitter, this time at the media: “The Fake News is doing everything in their power to blame Republicans, Conservatives and me for the division and hatred that has been going on for so long in our Country.”

dana milbank Customwashington post logoWashington Post, Humor: Hasn't Trump Suffered Enough? Dana Milbank, right, Oct. 29, 2018. House on pipe bombs and Pittsburgh: 'First thing' media did was 'condemn the president.' Eleven Jews are dead in Pittsburgh, gunned down during Shabbat services allegedly by a man who shared President Trump’s paranoia about a migrant caravan. Pipe bombs were sent to more than a dozen of Trump’s favorite political targets, including the homes of two former presidents, Democratic leaders and CNN.

But let us not lose sight of the real victim here: Donald Trump.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders hadn’t given a briefing in nearly a month, so she had a lot of time to build up grievances before Monday afternoon’s session. She emerged half an hour late with a scowl, and read a written statement containing the requisite denunciations of the attack in Pittsburgh and affirmations of Trump’s affection for Jews.

the attack in Pittsburgh and affirmations of Trump’s affection for Jews.

But when the questioning got going, it became clear that she was rather less animated by the pipe bombs and the synagogue massacre than by perceived attacks on Trump by the media.

The Pittsburgh killings and the pipe bombs are not the first time the president has been so viciously victimized. “No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly,” he said last year. And that was before he was victimized by the very ungrateful people of Puerto Rico after his heroic response to the hurricane there.

Global News

German Flag

washington post logoAngela MerkelWashington Post, German Chancellor Angela Merkel ready to step down as leader of her party, Griff Witte and Rick Noack​, Oct. 29, 2018. The decision by Angela Merkel (shown at right in a file photo) would not automatically result in her leaving as chancellor. But it offers the clearest indication to date that her time at the helm of Europe’s largest economy is running out.

New York Times, Germany Without Angela Merkel? Unthinkable? Think Again, She Says, Katrin Bennhold and Melissa Eddy, Oct. 29, 2018. Chancellor Angela Merkel has been a seemingly invincible figure in German politics. In office 13 years, she has been Europe’s most powerful leader, a presence so synonymous with stability Germans call her Mutti, or Mother. So it was a familiar sight on Monday to see her live on television, until she asked Germans to do something far less familiar, and “get ready for the time after me.”

The chancellor said she would step down as leader of her conservative party in December and would not seek re-election in 2021. That means Ms. Merkel may remain on the political scene for months to come. But few observers believe she could hang on until the end of her term, speculating that new elections could be held as early as next year.

The chancellor’s decision now makes clear that neither she nor her country are immune to the forces that have reordered politics across the Continent — the cratering of the political center; the rise of populist forces; the blowback from the migration crisis; and a redrawing of the political fault lines away from the historical left-right divide toward a battle between liberal pro-European values and their nationalist polar opposite.

washington post logoWashington Post, Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro wins Brazil’s presidential election, Anthony Faiola and Marina Lopes​, Oct. 28, 2018. The 63-year old populist renegade rode a wave of voter rage to victory, marking South America’s most dramatic shift to the right since the end of the Cold War-era military dictatorships.

jair bolsonaro brazilJair Bolsonaro, right, a former army captain, bested leftist Fernando Haddad in Sunday’s runoff, winning nearly 56 percent of the vote, according to official results with 92 percent of the ballots tallied.

brazil flag wavingHis win adds Latin America’s largest nation to a growing list of countries – from the United States to Hungary to the Philippines – where staunch right-wing nationalists have scored victories at the ballot box.

Bolsonaro ran a Trump-style campaign that made heavy use of social media, and promised to renegotiate the terms of trade deals, put economics before environmental preservation and bring an iron fist to fighting crime. He demonized opponents and polarized the nation with his history of denigrating women, gays and minorities.

Democracy Now! Commentary: lenn Greenwald on Bolsonaro: Brazil Has Elected “Most Extremist Leader in the Democratic World,” Host: Amy Goodman interviews Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, a Brazil resident, former New Yorker and one of the founding editors of The Intercept, Oct. 29, 2018.

Far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro has been elected Brazil’s next president, marking the most radical political shift in the country since military rule ended more than 30 years ago. Bolsonaro, a former Army officer, openly supports torture and dictatorships, has a history of making racist, misogynistic and homophobic comments, and has threatened to destroy, imprison or banish his political opponents.

brazil flag wavingHe defeated Fernando Haddad of the leftist Workers’ Party with 55 percent of the vote. His ascendance to power is leading many to fear the future of democracy in Brazil is in danger. We speak with Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of The Intercept, in Rio de Janeiro. He says that Bolsonaro is “by far the most extremist leader now elected anywhere in the democratic world.”

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, as we turn to Brazil, where a far-right former Army officer who openly supports dictatorships and torture has been overwhelmingly elected president.

Bolsonaro campaigned on a promise to end corruption and crack down on crime, but many fear the future of democracy in Brazil is in danger. For decades, Bolsonaro has openly praised the country’s former military dictatorship, once saying the dictatorship should have killed 30,000 more people. He also has a history of making racist, misogynistic, homophobic comments, has spoken in favor of torture, has threatened to destroy, imprison or banish his political opponents. He has also encouraged the police to kill suspected drug dealers, once told a female lawmaker she was too ugly to rape. He also said he would rather hear that his son had died in a car accident than learn that his son is gay. On Sunday night, Jair Bolsonaro claimed he would help liberate Brazil.

Jair Bolsonaro directly benefited from the jailing of the former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who had been leading all presidential polls earlier this year. He has been in jail since April on what many consider trumped-up corruption charges to prevent him from running for president. Bolsonaro will be sworn in January 1st, 2019.

Just moments ago, President Trump tweeted, “Had a very good conversation with the newly elected President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, who won his race by a substantial margin. We agreed that Brazil and the United States will work closely together on Trade, Military and everything else! Excellent call, wished him congrats!”

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, I think it’s really important to put it into its proper context. For a long time, the Western media was referring to him as “Brazil’s Trump.” That’s how he was marketing himself. The reality is much different. He’s by far the most extremist leader now elected anywhere in the democratic world. He’s far closer, as we’ve discussed before, to Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, or even General Sisi, the dictator of Egypt. A journalist, Vincent Bevins, based for a long time in Brazil and now in Indonesia, has made the argument that he’s far more extreme than Duterte.

I think that the key thing to understand about Bolsonaro is that he really comes not from this modern “alt-right” movement of the type of Donald Trump or Nigel Farage or Marine Le Pen, but the Cold War far right that carried out enormous atrocities in the name of fighting domestic communism, which is what Bolsonaro believes his primary project to be. He recently vowed to cleanse the country of left-wing opposition, which he sees as a communist front.

And so, the threat and the ideology is far more extreme than anything in the democratic world. But the dynamics as far as why he won are quite similar, in that it was driven not by a sudden far-right ideology conversion on the part of this population in Brazil, but anger and desperation and hopelessness about the failures of the establishment class.

washington post logoWashington Post, Indonesian plane carrying 189 crashes into sea minutes after takeoff, Stanley Widianto, Shibani Mahtani and Ainur Rohmah​, Oct. 29, 2018. A Lion Air passenger plane that took off Monday from Jakarta crashed into the sea shortly after takeoff with 189 people on board, all of whom are feared dead in Indonesia’s worst air disaster in recent years.

Over 12 hours after the crash, no clear explanation had surfaced about what had caused the crash. Skies were clear. The plane was almost brand new, having flown just 800 hours. The aircraft’s pilot had asked to return to Jakarta’s airport shortly after takeoff, and his request was cleared by air traffic controllers. The plane then lost contact with controllers and plunged into the sea from 3,000 feet.

angela merkel vladimir putin recep tayyip erdogan emmanuel macron oct. 28 2018

Presidents Angela Merkel of Germany, Vladimir Putin of Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Emmanuel Macron of France (left to right) meet in Istanbul on Oct. 28, 2018 for a summit on Syria.

Strategic Culture Foundation, Analysis: Istanbul Summit on Syria Was a Success but Caveats Remain, Melkulangara Bhadrakumar (Former career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service), Oct. 29, 2018. The four-nation Turkey-Russia-Germany-France summit on Syria on October 27 in Istanbul had an impressive outcome. All participants – each with own interests – has some ‘takeaway’ from the summit, which itself is a measure of the success of the event. This is also important because the participants now have a reason to work together. Such an outcome can be interpreted in the following ways.

american flagFirst and foremost, a major regional conflict impacting international security was addressed without US participation. A sign of our times?

Second, participants didn’t quarrel over President Bashar Al-Assad’s “fate.” The debate becomes pedantic today in terms of ground realities. The Syrian nation should decide on its future. That’s also been Assad’s demand.

Third, some serious thought has been given to the journey towards a Syrian settlement – ceasefire, drafting of new constitution followed by elections under UN supervision. Four, the participants snubbed the US-Israeli plan to balkanize Syria into “spheres of influence” and have also squashed the Israeli dreams of getting international legitimacy for its illegal occupation of Golan Heights as part of any settlement.

Five, Germany and France have become amenable to the Russian demand pressing the urgency for rendering humanitarian aid to Syria and help in reconstruction. (US made this conditional on Assad’s removal.) We’ll have to see how it pans out, but the summit also stressed the importance of return of Syrian refugees (which is a key issue for European countries.)

syrian flag wavingSix, the participants recognized that the remaining terrorists in Syria must be destroyed – although, significantly, they also supported the Idlib ceasefire deal brokered by Turkey and Russia.

The bottom line is that it is the post-war Syrian order that is under discussion now.

Generally speaking, Russia and Turkey are in command as of now. Syria is somewhere at the top of Erdogan’s priorities. Erdogan will expect the Americans to throw their Syrian Kurdish allies under the bus. Yesterday, Turkish army bombarded Kurdish positions east of Euphrates.

Trump, Fear-Mongering, Media

washington post logoWashington Post, White House prepares large troop deployment to deter migrant caravan, Dan Lamothe and Nick Miroff, Oct. 29, 2018. U.S. officials caution that the final number of troops heading to the border has not yet been determined. The additional personnel would join roughly 2,000 National Guard troops assigned to the border since April, and the combined force would be the largest deployment there in at least a decade.

washington post logoWashington Post, Michael Moore releases footage of mail-bomber suspect Cesar Sayoc at Trump rally, Alex Horton​, Oct. 29, 2018. President Trump has denied that he inspired Sayoc, but footage released by the filmmaker depicts a fervent supporter at a rally in Florida in 2017.

ny times logoNew York Times, Commentary: Trump’s Attacks on the News Media Are Working, Jim Rutenberg, Oct. 29, 2018 (print edition). He was at it again. At 3:14 a.m. on Friday, President Trump was awake and tweeting.

“Funny how lowly rated CNN, and others, can criticize me at will, even blaming me for the current spate of Bombs and ridiculously comparing this to September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing,” he wrote, “yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, ‘it’s just not Presidential!’”

He tapped that one out as federal authorities were investigating the 12 pipe bombs mailed to the billionaire George Soros, Democratic politicians, Robert De Niro and CNN. Hours later, Mr. Trump’s tweet was national news.

“President Blames Media For Attempted Bombs,” read the onscreen chyron on “Good Morning America” as an ABC News correspondent, Jonathan Karl, briefed the anchor George Stephanopoulos on the president’s latest digital sortie from the still-dark White House lawn.

So began Day 645 of a presidency that has made denigrating the news media one of its identifying features.

djt man in high castle nazi salutes wmr graphic

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: This is a real-life "Man in the High Castle" drama, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 29, 2018 (Subscription required). Investigative reporter Wayne Madsen, a former Navy intelligence officer, has studied the Trump family extensively, including in the latest of Madsen's 16 books, "Trump's Bananas Republic."

In the television adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel, The Man in the High Castle, which has, as its premise, how Americans fare in an alternate history where Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan win World War II, American John Smith becomes the SS Obergruppenführer for Nazi-occupied America. The television series has turned out to be so popular, Amazon Prime has extended it to a third season.

There is a reason why The Man in the High Castle, both the novel and the TV series, is so popular. Donald Trump has, in effect, become an Obergruppenführer over the United States.....We are all now bit players in an increasingly Nazified world. And that is why the upcoming November 6 mid-term election is the most important election in the history of the United States.

Khashoggi Murder Case

Future of Freedom Foundation, Commentary: The Saudis Will Get Away with Murder, Jacob G. Hornberger, Oct. 29, 2018. In my article “Don’t Be Surprised If Saudis Get Away with Murder,” I detailed the U.S. national-security state’s kidnapping and assassination of Gen. Rene Schneider in 1970. The point I made is that the power to assassinate comes with any nation whose government is founded on the concept of a national-security state. That includes the United States, where the military and the CIA wield the omnipotent, non-reviewable power to assassinate people who they deem to be threats to “national security.”

Given that the U.S. national-security state got away with murder in the case of Gen. Schneider, what are the odds that there will be a different outcome in Saudi Arabia? Sure, there might be some underlings who have to fall on their swords as a sacrifice to the greater good, but the chance that higher-ups in the Saudi regime will be held accountable for the murder is virtually nil.

Medical Research Fraudster?

ny times logoNew York Times, He Promised to Restore Damaged Hearts. Harvard Says His Lab Fabricated Research, Gina Kolata, Oct. 29, 2018. For Dr. Piero Anversa, the fall from scientific grace has been long, and the landing hard. Researchers worldwide once hailed his research as revolutionary, promising the seemingly impossible: a way to grow new heart cells to replace those lost in heart attacks and heart failure, leading killers in the United States.

But Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, his former employers, this month accused Dr. Anversa and his laboratory of extensive scientific malpractice. More than 30 research studies produced over more than a decade contain falsified or fabricated data, officials concluded, and should be retracted. Last year the hospital paid a $10 million settlement to the federal government after the Department of Justice alleged that Dr. Anversa and two members of his team were responsible for fraudulently obtaining research funding from the National Institutes of Health.

“The number of papers is extraordinary,” said Dr. Jeffrey Flier, until 2016 the dean of Harvard Medical School. “I can’t recall another case like this.”

Dr. Anversa’s story has laid bare some of the hazards of modern medical research: the temptation to embrace a promising new theory, the reluctance to heed contrary evidence and the institutional barriers to promptly stopping malfeasance. Even after three independent researchers were unable to reproduce his findings in 2004, Harvard hired him in 2007 and his lab continued to churn out studies upholding his theory.

Oct. 28

Gunman Kills Jews At Synogogue

washington post logoWashington Post, At least 11 killed, 6 wounded in Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, Deanna Paul, Avi Selk and Amy B Wang​, Oct. 28, 2018 (print edition). Suspect had history of anti-Semitic comments online, officials say

The suspect, identified by authorities as Robert Bowers, 46, attacked the synagogue during morning services. A gunman killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue during Saturday-morning services in what the Anti-Defamation League called "likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.”

robert bowersLaw enforcement officials said Robert Bowers (right and below, as portrayed by the New York Post) — a 46-year-old man with a history of making anti-Semitic statements online — surrendered to police after a gun battle and is expected to face hate crime charges.

The 11 people killed were all adults, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said at a news briefing.

“It’s a very horrific crime scene," Hissrich told reporters earlier in the day. “One of the worst that I’ve seen. And I’ve been on some plane crashes.”

The suspect interrupted a baby-naming service at about 10 a.m, Pennsylvania’s attorney general told the Associated Press. Witnesses told police he burst in shouting anti-Semitic slurs and began firing.

KDKA reported that police confronted the suspect near the synagogue entrance. Witnesses said one officer was wounded in an initial firefight, and two more were shot when they tried to corner the gunman upstairs.

Gab, a social media platform that has attracted many far-right users, released a statement on Saturday, saying the company had suspended an account that “matched the name of the alleged shooter’s name" and turned the messages over to the FBI.

An unverified image of the deleted account shows a stream of anti-Semitic messages leading up to the shooting.

“Trump is a globalist, not a nationalist,” the user “Robert Bowers” posted after a rally this week in which Trump invoked both terms to declare himself a nationalist.

Trump has repeatedly slammed “globalists” in his public rhetoric, despite warnings that the term is understood to mean Jews in anti-Semitic circles. That’s evidently what it means to the Gab user “Robert Bowers,” whose messages suggest disillusionment with the president.

Donald Trump Logo Make America Great Again

“There is no #MAGA as long as there is a k--- infestation,” the user wrote, using a slur for Jews.

For weeks, “Robert Bowers" was enraged by the national Jewish group HIAS’s efforts to hold Shabbat services for refugees, according to the archives messages.

“HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people," the user wrote hours before the shooting. “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre Suspect Was ‘Pretty Much a Ghost,’ Trip Gabriel, Jack Healy and Julie Turkewitz, Oct. 28, 2018. Robert Bowers, the man accused of gunning down 11 congregants in a virulently anti-Semitic rampage at a Pittsburgh synagogue, was an isolated, awkward man who lived alone and struggled with basic human interactions, neighbors and others who knew him said on Sunday.

robert bowers pittsburgh killer oct 28 2018 pos cover“He was in his own little world,” said Jim Brinsky, 46, a friend from childhood.

Mr. Brinsky said he and Mr. Bowers, 46, grew up together but that he never met Mr. Bowers’s parents and got the impression that Mr. Bowers had a difficult home life. As teenagers, he said they built pipe bombs and blew up watermelons and trees as pranks.

They drifted apart by the time they got to Baldwin High School, where Mr. Brinsky said Mr. Bowers wore a camouflage jacket and drifted alone through the halls. Mr. Bowers is not listed in any activities or sports in his 1989 junior-class yearbook, and he does not appear in the next year’s book as a senior at all. It is unclear whether he graduated.

“He was pretty much a ghost,” Mr. Brinsky said.

His next-door neighbors also described him as a man who was barely there. In the shabby one-bedroom ground-floor apartment where he had lived for about a year and a half, Mr. Bowers made such an insubstantial impression on his next-door neighbor, Kerri Owens, that she forgot his name soon after he introduced himself. Mr. Bowers said he worked as a truck driver and needed the apartment primarily to store his stuff, Ms. Owens said.

washington post logoWashington Post, American Jews’ worst fears become reality with synagogue massacre, Joe Heim and Samantha Schmidt, Oct. 28, 2018. As threats increased, as online abuse grew more vicious, as the defacing of buildings with swastikas became more common, the possibility of violence loomed over Jewish communities in the United States.

Trump Role

washington post logoWashington Post, Critics say Trump fosters toxic environment for political violence he denounces, David Nakamura, Oct. 28, 2018 (print edition). President Trump has denounced recent attacks and called for national unity. But his critics accuse him and the GOP, in a cynical pursuit of political power, of going beyond partisan political talk into demagoguery of racial minorities, foreigners and prominent Jewish political figures.

washington post logoWashington Post, Commentary: How much responsibility does Trump bear for the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh? Julia Ioffe (correspondent for GQ Magazine and currently at work on a book about Russia.) Oct. 28, 2018 (print edition). Political rhetoric matters, and he has had some unfortunate things to say about Jews.

More on MAGAbomber

cesar sayoc jr trump rally no credit

Pipe bombing suspect Cesar Sayoc Jr. at a Trump rally

ny times logoNew York Times, Bomb Suspect Found an Identity in Rage and Resentment, Jack Healy, Julie Turkewitz and Richard A. Oppel Jr., Oct. 28, 2018 (print edition). Cesar Sayoc Jr. was a volatile nobody desperate to become a somebody.

cesar sayoc nypost front page oct 27 2018He styled himself as a bodybuilder, entrepreneur, member of the Seminole tribe and exotic-dance promoter in the status-hungry beachfront world of South Florida. In reality, Mr. Sayoc (shown as portrayed by the New York Post on Oct. 27), a fervent supporter of President Trump who has been charged with mailing pipe bombs to prominent Democrats, was a bankrupt loner who spewed anger and spent years living in and out of a van, according to court documents and interviews with people who knew him.

He went on racist, anti-gay tirades at the Fort Lauderdale pizza shop where he worked as a night-shift deliveryman in 2017, telling his manager, a lesbian, that she and other gay people along with Democrats should all be put onto an island and then “nuked.” At a reunion event in 2015 with his college soccer team, he browbeat former team members with racist, sexist conspiracy theories.

And when Mr. Sayoc’s mother and sisters urged him to seek mental-health treatment, he furiously repelled their efforts and told his mother he hated her, said Ronald Lowy, a lawyer for the family who also represented Mr. Sayoc in a 2002 case in which he threatened to bomb an electric company cesar sayoc trump inaugural copy IMG 3909during a dispute over a bill. He refused to even listen when his mother reminded Mr. Sayoc that he was Filipino and Italian, not Seminole, Mr. Lowy said.

“He had tremendous anger slowly boiling up, and resentment, and felt ‘less than,’” Mr. Lowy said. “He lacked an identity. He created a persona.”

Mr. Lowy said that Mr. Sayoc’s family members were Democrats and that Mr. Sayoc seemed to have no outspoken partisan views during the 2002 case. But he said that Mr. Trump’s angry rhetoric and his appeals to the “forgotten man and woman” during the 2016 campaign seemed to strike a deep chord with Mr. Sayoc, whose father had abandoned the family when he was a child.

“He was looking for some type of parental figure and being a loner, being an outcast, being the kind of person Trump speaks to, I think he was attracted to Trump as a father figure,” Mr. Lowy said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Sayoc made numerous references on Facebook to Russian associates, echoed pro-Kremlin views, Craig Timberg and Tony Romm, Oct. 28, 2018. The now-deleted Facebook account belonging to Sayoc, shown at right at a Trump rally, the man charged with sending pipe bombs to prominent Democrats, discussed his “Russian brothers” and posted video links aligned with Russian views on the Syrian war.

U.S. Politics

Axios, Sneak Peek: Scoop — Inside Trump's last-minute road trip, Jonathan Swan, Oct. 28, 2018. President Trump is adding an 11th rally to his final six-day blitz leading into the Nov. 6 midterm elections. Trump will be ending his campaign swing, on election eve, in the pivotal Senate state of Missouri, according to a source with direct knowledge of Trump's plans.

Alexi McCammond got her hands on fresh details — dates and specific locations — of the Trump political team's schedule ahead of the midterms. The locations and dates we cite here, the big picture details of which were first reported by Bloomberg, are based on internal White House planning and could change.

• Oct. 31: Fort Myers, Florida
• Nov. 1: Columbia, Missouri
• Nov. 2: Huntington, West Virginia and an undisclosed location in Indiana
• Nov. 3: Bozeman, Montana and an undisclosed location in Florida
• Nov. 4: Macon, Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee
• Nov. 5: Fort Wayne, Indiana and Cape Girardeau, Missouri
• Another rally, on a date we haven't established: an undisclosed location in Ohio

Why this matters: In his final blitz, Trump is going to Trump country within Trump states. Not a single competitive House seat lies within these locations. Between the lines: The Cook Political Report's elections analyst Amy Walter told me the schedule, developed by White House Political Director Bill Stepien, is a "very strategically smart tour" and also appears to her to basically "concede the House."

Election Rigging

washington post logoWashington Post, Russian disinformation on Facebook targeted Ukraine well before the 2016 U.S. election, Dana Priest, James Jacoby and Anya Bourg | Frontline PBS, Oct. 28, 2018.  Activists, officials and journalists from countries who reported abuses years earlier say Facebook took little or no action, according to an investigation for a new documentary.

WhoWhatWhy, Polling Site Closures in Texas Threaten Upcoming Midterm Election, Lindsay Bennett, Oct. 28, 2018. Last-minute polling closures across the Lone Star State may prevent minority and low-income voters from casting their ballots in the critical 2018 Texas midterm election.

Crime, Guns, Records Breakdown

washington post logoWashington Post, Va. criminal database missing 750,000 cases dating to 2000, Tom Jackman, Oct. 28, 2018. Failure to enter defendants’ fingerprints keeps convictions out of state records that are used for gun and background checks and crime scene investigations.

As staff members of the Virginia State Crime Commission were reviewing the state’s Central Criminal Records Exchange, they made a stunning discovery: The state court system had recorded about 11 million convictions dating to 2000, but the criminal records database showed only about 10.2 million convictions. More than 750,000 records were not in the system maintained by the Virginia State Police, including more than 300 murder convictions, 1,300 rape convictions and 4,600 felony assault convictions.

This is the database that courts and police use to check a person’s prior record, often to determine what charge or sentence is appropriate. It’s a database that state police in Virginia, and around the country, use to determine whether someone is eligible to buy a gun. It’s what state agencies and employers check to see if someone has a conviction that might disqualify them from working at, say, a child-care center. It’s also the repository for fingerprints that investigators use when trying to match a print at a crime scene to a possible perpetrator.

“What I can discern is there is confusion and breakdowns,” said state Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg), chairman of the crime commission, “and these need to be resolved. The list of the offenses is pretty staggering.”

Trump Ridcules Pipe Bombing Target

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump mocks Democratic megadonor Tom Steyer, the target of a pipe bomb, as a ‘stumbling lunatic,’ Felicia Sonmez and Paul Kane, Oct. 28, 2018. In a tweet, the president lashed out at the billionaire liberal activist, who was one of the prominent Democrats to be sent mail bombs last week.

President Trump on Sunday lashed out at billionaire Democratic activist Tom Steyer, ridiculing him as a “stumbling lunatic” days after Steyer was targeted by one of more than a dozen pipe bombs sent to prominent critics of the president.

Trump’s tweet came shortly after Steyer accused the president and the Republican Party of creating an atmosphere of “political violence” in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Polling Site Closures in Texas Threaten Upcoming Midterm Election, Lindsay Bennett, Oct. 28, 2018. A little-known provision in the Texas Election Code allows polling locations to be switched with hardly any notice — and voting rights advocates fear that it could be used to disenfranchise low-income voters. That provision is particularly concerning this year, as this type of issue could constitute a tipping point in the hotly contested race between Republican Senator Ted Cruz and Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke.

Texas officials can change — or close — polling locations up to 72 hours before an election. The provision was part of a sweeping law that Lone Star State Republicans pushed through in 2013. They did so after the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision freed the state from the obligation to get federal approval for changes to its voting procedures.

Related: 5 Years After ‘Shelby County,’ Democracy Has Suffered

Texas took full advantage and put in place provisions in the Texas Election Code allowing these last-minute closures. In recent years, Republicans have increasingly focused on shutting down polling locations. Although there have been some efforts at the county level to address voting obstacles, most minority and low-income voters in Texas remain vulnerable.

In 2016, the state closed more polling locations than any other state in the country with a total of 403 closures, according to a report from the US Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR). Much less publicized than these closures, however, were the last-minute changes to polling locations.

Experts say this tactic primarily affects African American, Latino, and low-income voters because of limited time and access to polling locations. According to the USCCR, most of these polling closures occurred in counties with a long history of Voting Rights Act violations.

The populations affected by poll closures or changes are more likely to support Democrats. With Texas in the middle of a Senate race that is tighter than most in recent memory — and that could hand control of the Senate to the Democrats if O’Rourke manages to upset incumbent Cruz — the outcome could hinge on turnout.

Texas has the fifth lowest voter turnout in the nation and experts agree that any threat to voting rights will only reduce the state’s abysmal numbers.

A possible solution down the road, according to Dianne Trautman, a candidate for Harris County Clerk, is the Countywide Polling Place Program. The Countywide Polling Place program permits certain Texas counties to allow voters to cast their ballot at any polling location in their county. This program would allow voters to vote at any voting location on Election Day, just as they can during early voting, thereby eliminating much of the inconvenience caused by polling closures and changes.

Trautman noted that the program, which is currently being used in 52 of the 254 counties in Texas, has helped increase voter turnout.

Media Criticismchuck todd meet the press logo

Meet the Press host Chuck Todd is shown in a promotional graphic for the long-running NBC News show

Media Matters, Commentary: Chuck Todd and Meet The Press sanitize Erick Erickson's garbage, John Whitehouse, Oct. 28, 2018. Meet the Press runs with garbage, pro-Trump media push conspiracy theories about the MAGA bomber, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories spread.

Meet the Press hosted radio host Erick Erickson to talk about civility and the need for conservatives to believe in facts. This is like asking a wolf about how to keep sheep alive.
Erickson has repeatedly pushed conspiracy theories. Erickson also goes to absurd lengths to protect conservatives in the face of reported facts. He endorsed reported pedophile Roy Moore for a Senate seat until the very end, on the basis that Moore was "the only one standing" against "the left." He dismissed concerns about one of President Donald Trump’s cabinet members flying in private jets because he "needs to be protected." When Erickson is on Fox or on the radio, he's more than happy to defend Trump's behavior toward the mainstream press.

And then there's just the ugly. He wrote a book warning of a "leftist-homosexual mafia" and argued in 2017 that gay men in bars who wear certain clothing are asking to be assaulted. Erickson has also endorsed the horrific practice of anti-LGBTQ "conversion therapy," a practice more akin to torture than therapy. He also compared members of the LGBTQ community to terrorists.

Erickson is an unrepentant sexist. He said of the Women’s March, "I feel sorry for all the ham and cheese that won't get made into sandwiches while all those women are marching." He's argued that "the male typically is the dominant role" and that women should stay home while men bring " home the bacon."

He called Trump's Muslim ban "brilliant politics." Erickson shot up a copy of The New York Times when the paper published an editorial on gun violence, and he blamed Obama for mass shootings. When Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis was briefly jailed for contempt of court for not issuing same-sex marriage licenses, Erickson warned of a civil war. In 2009, Erickson asked at what point people in Washington state might "beat [their state representative] to a bloody pulp for being an idiot."

Needless to say, none of this came up on Meet The Press, with host Chuck Todd only offering a brief nod to “some people” who say Erickson pushes conspiracy theories. Instead, Erickson was portrayed as a reasonable conservative interested in the facts.

More Media News

cenk uygur andrea edney noel st john

Cenk Uygur, founder of The Young Turks, talks with Club President Andrea Edney (Photo courtesy of Noel St. John).

National Press Club, Host and founder of The Young Turks blasts mainstream media, touts role of digital media in progressive movement, Kristina S. Groenning, Oct. 28, 2018. Cenk Uygur, host and founder of progressive digital news outlet The Young Turks, delivered a blistering attack on the mainstream media Friday at the National Press Club.

Uygur railed against what he described as a mainstream media beholden by corporate money to the status quo, in contrast to digital media outlets.

“I don’t think it has a liberal bias, I don’t think it has a conservative bias, I think it has an establishment bias,” Uygur said of the mainstream media. Referring to CNN, he said, “Why are they in favor of the status quo? They don’t want to rock the boat. It’s their boat. If you’re a multibillion dollar corporation you do not want change. You just don’t want it.”

Specifically calling out Wolf Blitzer, Uygur said, “His problem is he does have a perspective and he might not even know it. His perspective is the status quo is awesome - so Hillary Clinton is acceptable, Jeb Bush is acceptable, Bernie Sanders is not acceptable, Donald Trump is not acceptable - it oozes out of every broadcast.”

Uygur claims that the mainstream media’s establishment bias has led to inadequate and unfair coverage of progressives. “Progressives – they’re either to be dismissed and ignored or derided – Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, almost all of them,” he said. Yet establishment candidates “already have coverage. They already have power. You don’t need to shower them with more. But you do,” Uygur added.

If the media wants to be more fair and accurate in its coverage, Uygur believes it should place greater emphasis on candidates with large numbers of small non-corporate donors and volunteers. “If you saw how many volunteers Ocasio-Cortez had, if you saw how many small donors she had, you would’ve had a pretty good idea that she was gonna win. That’s how we knew. She got almost no coverage in the mainstream press. We had done thirty-four videos about her - before the election.”

Uygur also faults traditional media for sacrificing truth at the expense of maintaining neutrality, stating “[n]eutrality is not objectivity. It is the wrong standard. If you call everything 50/50, you will equate the lies and truth, and that gives lies an enormous advantage.”

He specifically recalled coverage by The New York Times of Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes that failed to cite any of his calls for violence, instead meagerly asserting that McInnes had a “nerd aesthetic.”

“To soften right wing fascists like that is despicable,” Uyger proclaimed. “You [the media] are not anywhere near liberal. You’re not anywhere near objective. All you want is neutrality at the expense of the truth,” he added.

By contrast, Uygur contends that digital media platforms like The Young Turks are “in the business of truth.” One example is its lack of hesitancy to report right wing conspiracy theories as lunacy, he said, adding “[w]e’re not worried about, hey are my ratings gonna go down if I insult or offend Republicans.”

Uygur noted that The Young Turks is free of corporate influence, because it is funded by its audience - “they’re our boss, instead of giant sponsors or donors.”

Midst unleashing his assault on the mainstream media, Uygur made a point of interjecting that “[w]e’re not the right wing. We don’t call you the enemy of the people. We want you to do a better job. We want you to get to the truth.”

Wrapping up the event, Andrea Edney, Club President and journalist of nearly twenty-five years, came to the defense of her colleagues in the mainstream media, stating “[a]ll of the reporters and editors I know work so hard to get it right. Objectivity is incredibly important. It is incredibly important to have a fair and unbiased standard of reporting. I just want to recognize here, that the reporters and editors working for newspapers and TV work really hard to get it right.”

fdr npc 1933 president raymond brandt right former pres theodore tiller

FDR receives his Club membership card from President Raymond Brandt prior to the black-tie dinner in 1933. Former Club President Theodore Tiller of The Washington Times is on the left.

National Press Club, NPC in History: FDR gets his Club membership card, Gilbert Klein, Oct. 28, 2018. For its 25th anniversary bash on May 29, 1933 – the Silver Jubilee – the Club invited President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to be the guest of honor at the black-tie event less than three months after he was inaugurated.

As was customary, the Club wanted to present the new president with his membership card. Every president since Woodrow Wilson had been a Club member – and they all paid their dues, like any other member (a tradition that lasted through President Kennedy).

As you can see from the accompanying photo, Roosevelt accepted the special silver-engraved membership card while standing up, something painful for him to do as he tried to hide his disability. The braces on his legs are clearly visible at his shoes, and he seems to have a firm grip on the arm of Club President Raymond Brandt of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Roosevelt was still standing, supporting himself on the back of a heavy chair, when a short British Pathe news clip recorded his quips.

“One of the speakers mentioned he was only a partway member because he wasn’t sure whether the check he drew was good or not,” Roosevelt said in his famously patrician voice. “I am not that far advanced in membership as that because the only complaint I have against the new secretary of the treasury is that I have had no salary to date and have drawn no checks.”

According to The Washington Post story the next morning, as part of the membership ceremony, FDR was “assigned” by Frank B. Lloyd, who was what we now call the membership secretary, to “cover” the White House.

The president was described as “the most promising cub reporter that ever came out of Hyde Park.” He was charged with the duty of being extremely courteous to his fellow newspapermen, “to report not only on the detailed doings of the President, but also to provide his fellow correspondents with carbon copies of every presidential pronouncement, and to be fully and frankly responsive to their inquiries.”

“The pass word of the tribe, Mr. President,” Mr. Lord told him, “is ‘whatduyeno?’ and the response is ‘nuthin, whatduyeno?’”

This is another in a series provided by Club historian Gil Klein. Dig down anywhere in the Club’s 110-year history, and you will find some kind of significant event in the history of the world, the nation, Washington, journalism and the Club itself. Many of these events were caught in illustrations that tell the stories. The video of Roosevelt speaking that evening can be found here.

Oct. 27

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump calls shooting a ‘wicked act of mass murder,’ Seung Min Kim and Katie Zezima, Oct. 27, 2018. The president said anti-Semitism must be condemned and confronted, and suggested the incident had “little to do with” gun laws.

Palmer Report, Opinion: You can draw a straight line from today’s Pittsburgh synagogue shooting to Donald Trump’s antisemitic remarks yesterday, Bill Palmer, Oct. 27, 2018. We’re often told not to politicize tragedies, particularly right after they happen. But those admonishments typically come from those who know they’re on the wrong side of it, and therefore don’t want any discussion about it. And in a week which saw a Trump supporter driving around in a Trump van trying to murder Trump’s political enemies, all bets are off.

So I’ll just say it: Donald Trump murdered the Jews who died in a Pittsburgh synagogue this morning. He might as well have pulled the trigger himself.

hillary clinton twitterYou can draw a straight line from today’s shooting to two things Donald Trump said yesterday. First, he basically laughed off the fact that one of his biggest supporters had been arrested for trying to murder prominent Democrats. He played it up for fun. He yelled around about “Crooked Hillary” yesterday, even though Hillary (shown left on her Twitter photo) was one of the bomb targets. He couldn’t have sent a more clear signal to the alt-crazies out there that this kind of violence – so long as it’s aligned with his agenda – is just fine with the “President” of the United States.

Trump also said something more specific yesterday. During a televised White House event he made a point of railing against “globalists.” On the far right, that’s code for Jews. Want proof? After Trump said the word “globalists” his supporters in the room began yelling out the name of George Soros, a prominent Jew who’s blamed by the alt-crazies for pretty much everything going on in the world. Then they chanted “lock him up” about Soros. Then Trump repeated it: “lock him up.” His message couldn’t be more clear: Jews like Soros should be punished just for being Jews like Soros. This reinforced what Trump said last year about: there were “very fine people on both djt ad jail clintonsides” of the pro-Nazi and anti-Nazi debate.

Sure enough, a guy opened fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue today. Then, by all accounts, he told police that he was looking to kill as many Jews as possible. We’ll see if this guy was specifically a Donald Trump supporter or not – but that doesn’t even matter. The point is that the President of the United States confirmed yesterday that he has no problem with people carrying out political or ideological violence in general, and then he announced that Jews should be punished.

Trump isn’t just to blame for this violence; he’s giving these people instructions.

Bombing Plot Against Democrats

cesar sayoc muscles trump sign

Alleged mail bomber Cesar Sayoc Jr. at a Trump rally

ny times logoNew York Times, Cesar Sayoc’s Path on Social Media: From Food Photos to Partisan Fury, Kevin Roose, Oct. 27, 2018. By the time he was arrested, Mr. Sayoc appeared to fit a familiar profile of a modern extremist, radicalized online and sucked into a vortex of partisan furor. Twitter was warned at least once about Mr. Sayoc’s threatening behavior, but failed to act.

Until 2016, Cesar Altieri Sayoc Jr.’s life on social media looked unremarkable. On his Facebook page, he posted photos of decadent meals, gym workouts, scantily clad women and sports games — the stereotypical trappings of middle-age masculinity.

But that year, Mr. Sayoc’s social media presence took on a darker and more partisan tone. He opened a new Twitter account and began posting links to sensational right-wing news stories, adding captions like “Clinton busted exposed rigging entire election.” On Facebook, his anodyne posts gave way to a feed overflowing with pro-Donald Trump images, news stories about Muslims and the Islamic State, far-fetched conspiracy theories and clips from Fox News broadcasts.

maxine waters cnnBy the time he was arrested in Florida on Friday, charged with sending pipe bombs to at least a dozen of President Trump’s critics, Mr. Sayoc appeared to fit the all-too-familiar profile of a modern extremist, radicalized online and sucked into a vortex of partisan furor. In recent weeks, he had posted violent fantasies and threats against several people to whom pipe bombs were addressed, including Representative Maxine Waters (right), a California Democrat, and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

His vehicle, a white van plastered with right-wing slogans, came to resemble a Facebook feed on wheels.

“He went from posting pictures of women, real estate, dining and cars to posting pictures of ISIS, guns and people in jail,” said Jonathan Albright, the research director for Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism. “It’s a remarkable change.”

cesar sayoc van

Van of bombing suspect Cesar Savoc, plastered with decals vilifying liberals and Democrats to whom he is accused of sending pipe bombs

bill palmerPalmer Report, Opinion: Enough with the false equivalence already, Bill Palmer, right, Oct. 27, 2018. On a day when Donald Trump’s violent rhetoric and vicious lies resulted in one of his own biggest supporters being arrested for trying to murder fourteen prominent Democrats, one might expect to hear pundits saying the obvious: Trump is the problem here. It couldn’t be any more clear. There are very few days with an absolute right and an absolute wrong, but when one side is trying to blow the other up, it’s indeed one of those rare days. Yet we’ve spent the past 24 hours hearing a staggering amount of false equivalency in bad faith.

The false equivalency argument comes in two parts. The first premise is that liberals annoying Republican politicians in restaurants is somehow the same thing as Trump supporters trying to murder Democratic politicians. The second premise is that the Trump supporter sending these bombs is the same thing as the Bernie steve scaliseSanders supporter who shot Republican Congressman Steve Scalise (shown at left). These are both absurd, for different reasons.

The first one is obvious. If you chant unpleasant things at a Republican politician who’s trying to eat dinner, that’s a First Amendment matter. You have a right to do it, and the restaurant owner has a right to kick you out for it. No one’s safety is in danger. At worst, some might consider it to be in bad taste – but that’s at worst. So what does this have to do with a guy trying to blow up the Obamas and Clintons? Nothing, of course.

The second one requires a bit more thought. It’s true that a Bernie Sanders supporter tried to assassinate Steve Scalise. But here’s the thing: Bernie Sanders had nothing to do with it. Bernie never once falsely accused Scalise of being a criminal, or suggested to his followers that violence was the way to settle these kinds of disagreements. The shooter decided entirely on his own that Scalise was somehow Bernie’s enemy, and that violence was the solution.

djt maurice symonette trump rallyThank God that Scalise survived – but the whole thing had nothing to do with Bernie Sanders or his support base. This was just one crazed guy who completely failed to understand what Bernie was even talking about, and acted on something that only existed in his depraved mind.

Contrast that with the fact that Donald Trump [shown in a file photo at a rally with acquitted murder suspect Maurice Symonette, aka "Michael the Black Man," with a poster supporting Trump] has falsely accused Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Brennan, Maxine Waters, and James Clapper of various felonies – and he did this while encouraging violence toward the left in general. When this Trump supporter decided to try to blow up the people Trump had been viciously and falsely accusing of crimes, he understood exactly what Trump was saying.

washington post logoWashington Post, Cesar Sayoc was ‘someone lost’ — but then he ‘found a father in Trump,’ family attorney tells CNN, Amy B Wang, Matt Zapotosky, Annie Gowen and Sari Horwitz, Oct. 27, 2018. When Cesar Altieri Sayoc was arrested Friday, accused of sending at least 13 mail bombs in recent days to prominent critics of President Trump, a glimpse of the Florida 56-year-old’s white van seemed to offer the most immediate insight into his motivations.

The van’s windows were blanketed with pro-Trump decals, alongside images of prominent Democratic figures that were unflattering, at best, or literally in the crosshairs of a red target, at worst. Other stickers blared “Dishonest Media” and “CNN sucks.”

cesar sayoc trump inaugural copy IMG 3909On Twitter, Sayoc (shown at a pro-Trump gathering in Washington, DC) trafficked conspiracy theories and ranted about liberal billionaire George Soros, former president Barack Obama, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and others whose politics were out of line with his.

But nearly two decades ago, when Miami attorney Ronald Lowy first met Sayoc to represent him during some legal troubles, Lowy said Sayoc struck him as an insecure man, “like a 14-year-old in an adult’s body,” who was obsessed with bodybuilding and nightclubs — and who had no interest whatsoever in politics.

Lowy told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Friday that Sayoc’s father had abandoned the family when Sayoc was young and that, in his opinion, Sayoc had struggled with identity issues as a result.

“This was someone lost,” Lowy told Cooper. “He was looking for anything, and he found a father in Trump."

Donald Trump Pointing Finger Gage Skidmore DMCADespite his former political apathy, Sayoc quickly latched onto Trump (shown in a file photo by Gage Skidmore) as he emerged on the political stage and ultimately became president, said Lowy, who is now representing Sayoc’s family members.

“It’s my opinion that he was attracted to the Trump formula of reaching out … to these types of outsiders, people who don’t fit in, people who are angry at America, telling them that they have a place at the table, telling them that it’s okay to get angry,” Lowy told Cooper.

Heavy, Cesar Sayoc’s Nationality: Suspect Was Immigrant’s Son, Jessica McBride, Oct. 27, 2018. Cesar Sayoc, who stands accused of sending a string of packages with explosive devices to top Democrats, is the son of a Filipino immigrant and his Brooklyn-born wife.

cesar sayoc heavy with tieThe arrest of Sayoc (shown at right) has some people wondering more about his nationality and biography.

Sayoc, 56, of South Florida, is a registered Republican who plastered his van and social media accounts with pro Donald Trump and Republican rhetoric, trashing many of the same Democrats who received packages. He now stands accused of multiple federal crimes after fingerprint and DNA evidence led authorities to him. He was such a fervent Trump supporter that he filled his social media accounts with photos and video from Trump rallies, some showing him wearing a Make America Great Again hat. You can see those photos and videos here.

What’s known about Cesar Sayoc’s nationality? Here’s what you need to know:

The naturalization record of Sayoc’s father

Cesar Sayoc refers in multiple social media posts to the Seminole tribe. However, that tribe says he is not a member. “We can find no evidence that Cesar Altieri, Caesar Altieri, Caesar Altieri Sayoc, Ceasar Altieri Randazzo (Facebook) or Julus Cesar Milan (Twitter) is or was a member or employee of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, or is or was an employee of Seminole Gaming or Hard Rock International,” Gary Bitner, spokesperson for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, said, according to Rolling Stone.

Rather, Sayoc was born to a father who moved to the United States from the Philippines. The Sayoc surname is most commonly found in the Philippines (second density for the surname is in the United States).

Cesar Sayoc, the package suspect, was born in Brooklyn, New York.

Sayoc’s mother is from Brooklyn and his father, Cesar Sayoc Sr., was from the Philippines. The Miami Herald reports that his father was an immigrant from that country and “was naturalized in 1970 in North Miami Beach.” Heavy has obtained Sayoc’s dad’s naturalization record from Ancestry.com, which you can read above.

The immigration record says the father, who spelled his name Ceasar Sayoc, came from Manila and was living in North Miami Beach. He arrived in the United States in 1956, the record states. Ancestry records indicate Sayoc’s father died in 2009 and received a social security number in California. The Miami Herald reports that this Ceasar Sayoc is believed to be the suspect’s father. There is a divorce record for Sayoc’s parents on Ancestry.

In the immigration records, Sayoc’s mother indicated she was born in Brooklyn, New York and was a citizen. Her nationality is not given. The parents met while attending beauty school, according to the record from Ancestry.com. Florida corporation records show Sayoc’s mother has run several businesses in Florida.‌

On LinkedIn, Sayoc painted quite an elaborate tale about his family background, but not all of it checks out. However, he does claim to have relatives from the Philippines.

The suspect also wrote on LinkedIn that he was a “Promoter, booking agent Live entertainment, owner, choreographer.” His cousin, who declined to be identified, told NBC News that Sayoc was a “lost soul” whose brain was affected from taking steroids.

The cousin told NBC that Sayoc worked as a dancer and bouncer at strip clubs, telling the network, “He’s always been a little bit of a loose cannon. He’s always been a lost soul. Too many steroids in his day. That stuff will melt your brain.”

U.S. Politics: House Spending

ny times logoNew York Times, Republicans Rushing to Save House Seats From Onslaught of Democratic Money, Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, Oct. 27, 2018. The G.O.P. is rushing to fortify the party’s defenses in conservative-leaning districts they thought were secure but may now be at risk. The party’s traditional advantage in outside spending has been reversed: Democratic organizations are outspending their G.O.P. counterparts on advertising, about $85 million to $53 million.

As the 2018 midterm campaign enters its final full week, House Republicans are rushing to fortify their defenses in conservative-leaning districts they thought were secure, pouring millions of dollars into a last-minute bid to build a new firewall against Democrats.

Republicans, in defending a 23-seat majority, are likely to lose a handful of open or Democratic-tilting seats as well as another dozen suburban districts that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016, according to political strategists in both parties. But now Republican officials are increasingly concerned about Democratic incursions in some of the remaining 30 competitive districts on the House map where the Republican candidates thought they had an edge.

For the final two weeks of the election, Democratic campaigns and outside groups are on track to substantially outspend Republicans, strategists on both sides say. Democrats are set to spend $143 million on television advertising in House races, compared with $86 million for Republicans, according to one analysis by a Democratic strategist tracking media buys.

World Crisis Radio, http://tarpley.net/trump-hooverized-by-ongoing-stock-market-implosion/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Trump Hooverized by Ongoing Stock Market Implosion, Host: Webster G. Tarpley, Oct. 27, 2018 (74:02 mins. Ominous S&P Double Top Emerges; S&P Now in Correction Territory at 2659; A Dive Below 2580 Would Unleash “The Sum of All Fears”; FBI’s Bombing Suspect Cesar Sayoc Is Disturbed Pro-Trump Fanatic; His Van a MAGA Shrine Plastered with Scurrilous GOP Propaganda; Cop: “His Motive Was on His Van”; FBI Quickly Covered Paranoid Display Embarrassing to White House; GOP Line of Killer Cuts to Health Care, Lies, Hysteria, and Vote Suppression Shows Need to End One-Party Rule; Congressional Democrats Lead by 10% on Eve of Landmark Vote; Beware GOP “Drive for Five” to Use Republican Lite Hogan to Make Maryland the New Kansas Disaster

Inside Washington: Immigration

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White House Chronicle, Commentary: Walking Toward Hope on the Southern Border, Llewellyn King, Oct. 27, 2018. Llewellyn King, shown above, is executive producer and host of "White House Chronicle" on PBS. If you want to come to the United States illegally, the worst point of entry is along the southern border. If the U.S. Border Patrol doesn’t get you, the gangs that prey on the hapless might; if not, you have a good chance of dying of heat prostration and lack of food and water in the desert.

The smart ones, the conniving illegals, aren’t the destitute walking in blazing heat for a rendezvous with Border Patrol agents and then lord knows what, but those who fly in with student visas, tourist visas and other travel documents and disappear into the shadows.

The people in what is loosely called a “caravan” now walking toward the border have been failed by the societies that bore them. They live in fear of murder, fear of repeated rape and other violence, and fear of starvation. They live in their own circle of hell.

But they aren’t alone. There are many millions more in the failed and failing states, war-ravaged and drought-plagued, in Africa and the Middle East, trying to find a new home. Their exodus is a trickle today but will be a torrent tomorrow and a flood later.

The hopeless are on the march and they threaten to engulf some nations, like tiny Malta, an island in the Mediterranean and a European Union member state.
Europe is struggling with a flood of desperate people who cross the Mediterranean from North Africa in overloaded rafts and boats, risking drowning to reach Malta, Greece or Italy: places where they hope for food, shelter and safety.

Illegal immigration is a global problem. No country has a solution and no country deals well with it.

There is no grand solution at hand, but there are small things that can be done. For us, the first might be to stop worsening conditions in the countries that are generating the flows of people toward the border. Two things would help: Don’t cut off foreign aid, exacerbating economic conditions, and don’t cut off the flow of expatriate earnings, which is so important in those countries. In other words, stop the deportations.

Inside the CIA: Key Whistleblower Dies

washington post logoWashington Post, Victor Marchetti, disillusioned CIA officer who challenged secrecy rules, dies at 88, Matt Schudel, Oct. 27, 2018. Victor Marchetti, a high-ranking CIA officer who victor marchetti family photogrew disillusioned and co-wrote a best-selling book in the 1970s about the agency’s inner workings, resulting in a legal battle over wether the CIA could censor the writings of its past employees, died Oct. 19 at his home in Ashburn, Va. He was 88. He had complications from dementia, his son Chris Marchetti said.

Mr. Marchetti, shown in a family photo at right, joined the CIA in 1955, after a college interview with a mysterious figure who had two missing fingers. Mr. Marchetti thought he had found his spiritual and professional home.He rose in the agency’s ranks, with laudatory performance evaluations. He became an intelligence analyst who specialized in Soviet military affairs and by 1968 was executive assistant to the CIA’s deputy director, Rufus Taylor.

A year later, Mr. Marchetti resigned for “personal reasons.”

“Sitting up there I began to see how it’s all pulled together, the interplay with the rest of the executive branch of the government,” he told The Post. “The agency is the most romantic segment of the intelligence community, but I began to lose faith in it and its purpose, in intelligence in general.”

In 1971, he published a novel, The Rope-Dancer, which portrayed an inept “National Intelligence Agency” whose director was a spy for the Soviet Union. The CIA grew concerned victor marchetti john marks cia cult coverthat Mr. Marchetti had gone rogue.

At the time, revelations were emerging about clandestine wars, secret airlines and CIA ma­nipu­la­tion of international rebellions and coups. With his inside knowledge, Mr. Marchetti wrote a nonfiction manuscript, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence” with former State Department intelligence officer John D. Marks . They described what they considered an agency that had too much money and not enough supervision.

“He was a man deeply offended by what he perceived to be wrong,” Marks said Saturday about Mr. Marchetti. “He showed great courage in standing up for what he believed.”

CIA officers are required to sign an agreement that any books or articles they write about espionage, whether fact or fiction, must be cleared by the agency beforehand. When Mr. Marchetti and Marks submitted their book to the CIA for review, it came back with demands that 339 passages be removed for compromising national security.

The authors and their publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, supported by the legal arm of the American Civil Liberties Union, filed suit. They charged that the CIA was improperly imposing “prior restraint” before publication and therefore violating the First Amendment right of freedom of the press.

“The agency’s attempt to muzzle Marchetti was one of the first maneuvers to put a curtain of secrecy in front of itself,” historian John Prados, the author of several books about the CIA, said Saturday in an interview. Mr. Marchetti and his legal team argued that much of the information in the book was already on the public record or was absurdly benign — frank churchsuch as descriptions of wood-paneled offices.

Over time, the CIA’s lawyers relented on about half of their suggested changes. When the book was published in 1974, it contained 168 blank sections marked with the word “Deleted.” (By the time a federal judge in Virginia further reduced the number of deletions to 27, the book was already in production.)

The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence became a best seller. In 1975, CIA Director William E. Colby admitted the agency had violated its charter by spying on U.S. citizens — one of whom was Mr. Marchetti. The same year, a Senate committee led by Frank Church (D-Idaho), left, investigated abuses by the CIA. Marks and Mr. Marchetti’s book “gave the Church Committee a road map that this is what the CIA does,” Prados said.

War Clouds: Europe, Russia, The Ukraine

Strategic Culture Foundation via SouthFront, Commentary: Azov Sea Resolution Adopted: European Parliament Takes Another Swipe at Russia, Alex Gorka, Oct. 27, 2018. The European Parliament (EP) has adopted a resolution calling for tougher sanctions from the European Union (EU) against Russia, should the situation in the Azov Sea continue to deteriorate.

The document states that the Kerch bridge was built illegally, therefore the EP welcomes the council’s decision to impose restrictive measures against the companies involved in its construction. It suggests the creation of the position of special envoy on Crimea and the Donbass region in order to monitor the development of events there. And it warns about wider security implications that directly affect the EU. It demands that Russia “immediately end the intensive and discriminatory inspections of vessels and to consider, if necessary, appropriate countermeasures.”

They are doing everything to goad Kiev into taking a confrontational approach and turning the Azov Sea into a flashpoint with a showdown expected at any minute.

Oct. 26

cesar altieri sayoc

 washington post logoWashington Post, Bomb suspect charged with 5 federal crimes; fingerprints and DNA tie him to devices, as one more package found, authorities say, Devlin Barrett, Mark Berman and Matt Zapotosky, Oct. 26, 2018. Records show Cesar Sayoc, 56, shown above in a booking photo, has a lengthy criminal record. Sayoc had a 2002 arrest for a bomb threat cesar altieri burlesque show manager IMG 3911and others for larceny and fraud. After the Friday arrest, FBI agents and other law enforcement personnel could be seen in news footage draping a blue tarp over what was believed to be his van in a South Florida parking lot.

A man in Florida with a lengthy criminal record was arrested and charged Friday in connection with the suspected mail bombs sent to high profile figures, authorities said. (A sample envelope and pipe apparatus shown by authorities is at left.)

cesar sayoc pipe bomb evidenceThe arrest came on the same day law enforcement responded to three more devices — in Florida, New York and California — pushing the total number of packages found by authorities to 13. All of the devices were sent to people who have criticized or clashed with President Trump, and while none have detonated, officials have been on high alert and worried about whether more could be delivered.

The suspect has been identified as 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc. State records show he had a criminal record dating back decades, including a past arrest for making a bomb threat. He had posted an online resume at right promoting experience as a "Promoter, booking agent Live entertainment owner, choreographer."

Sayoc was charged with transporting explosives across state lines, illegally mailing explosives, threatening former presidents and others, threatening interstate communications and assaulting federal officials, according to charging documents. He faces up to 58 years in prison, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a news conference announcing the charges.

democratic donkey logoFBI Director Christopher Wray referred to the 13 explosive devices recovered so far as “IEDs,” an acronym for improvised explosive devices. He said investigators were able to trace Sayoc after finding a fingerprint on an envelope containing a bomb sent to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and that DNA found on two of the devices matched a sample previously taken from Sayoc during an earlier arrest.

Inside the packages sent to three of the potential targets — former president Barack Obama, below right, former CIA director John Brennan and Waters — were a picture of each person with red "X" marks on them, according to the criminal complaint, filed by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.

A suspicious package addressed to Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) found Friday at a Sacramento mail facility is also suspected to have been sent by Sayoc, a law enforcement official said. An aide to Harris said her office was told the package was similar to the others that had been sent to public figures. Tom Steyer, a major Democratic donor, also said Friday that a suspicious package mailed to him was intercepted in California; it was not immediately clear if that package was linked to the others.

Palmer Report, Commentary: Donald Trump gives utterly horrible speech after FBI arrests Trump supporter for sending bombs, Bill Palmer, below right, Oct. 26, 2018. This morning, the FBI bill palmerarrested Cesar Sayoc for sending bombs to numerous prominent Democratic political figures. Based on the propaganda on his van and his social media pages, Sayoc is a huge supporter of Donald Trump. Moments after the arrest, Trump held a pre-scheduled event at the White House. He gave a brief and generic statement condemning the bomber, but before long, Trump and his audience dissolved into incendiary rhetoric.

george soros uncreditedDuring his televised speech, Donald Trump lashed out at “globalists” which prompted some people in his audience to begin yelling the name of George Soros (left) – who was targeted by the bomber – while also chanting “lock him up.”

To be clear, Trump’s supporters were calling for Soros to be locked up, not the guy who tried to kill Soros. Donald Trump then repeated the “lock him up” remark himself. Again, this came after the FBI arrested a Trump supporter for sending these bombs.

That’s right, after one of Donald Trump’s own supporters was arrested for trying to murder George Soros and other liberals, Trump’s response is that he wants Soros to be imprisoned. It’s clear that Trump has no intention of taking responsibility for his own rhetoric, and if anything, he’s ramping up that rhetoric.

The Atlantic, Why the Mail Bomber Wasn’t Charged With Terrorism, Kathy Gilsinan, For domestic actors without international connections, the First Amendment and other civil-liberties protections make it tough to do so.

Donald Trump condemned a spate of attempted mail bombings this week as “terrorizing acts.” And his Justice Department today charged a suspect with five federal crimes, including interstate transportation of an explosive and threats against former presidents.

Announcing the charges against Cesar Sayoc of Florida, Attorney General Jeff Sessions characterized the mailings, which were directed at prominent critics of Trump, as “political violence” — which is a common way of describing terrorism.

cesar altieri sayocSo why wasn’t Sayoc (shown at right in a mug shot) charged with terrorism?

There’s a popular perception that investigators are quicker to label violent crimes by Muslims “terrorism” than they are, say, right-wing extremist violence. This perception is well founded, and the approach is morally inconsistent, but the reasons aren’t necessarily related to racism.

In the United States, the most frequently used terrorism-related charge, by far, is for providing “material support” to a foreign terrorist organization. Support can mean anything from offering money or advice to showing up in person to help a group that is on the State Department’s designated list of terrorist organizations.

These days, the organization at issue tends to be ISIS. Modern terrorism in the United States is largely a homegrown phenomenon; even most of the actors charged with ISIS-related offenses in the U.S. are American citizens or permanent residents. But in the eyes of the law, the connection to an international terrorist group, even if it’s only rhetorical or ideological, matters a great deal.

For domestic actors without such connections, the law — and the intelligence community’s investigative powers — runs up against First Amendment and other civil-liberties protections. The U.S. government does not formally designate domestic terrorist organizations. So it may not be illegal to give money to a domestic extremist group like Aryan Nations, even if some members commit violence.

“The First Amendment protects the right of people to associate with each other,” said Mary McCord, a former acting assistant attorney general for national security at the Justice Department who is currently a professor at Georgetown Law. “And it certainly protects the right for people to express their points of view, political or otherwise.”

“We don’t worry about that with foreign terrorist organizations because foreign terrorist organizations don’t have First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution,” McCord said.

In effect, whether a suspect gets formal “terrorism” charges or not, the justice system still allows for harsh punishment. Sessions noted that if convicted, Sayoc could face up to 50 years in prison. But the political discussion remains acute and divisive.

“Often the question really is one that focuses just on the policy side, whether or not we want to think of this as terrorism, or whether it feels like terrorism,” said Matthew Olsen, the former head of the National Counterterrorism Center, which coordinates terrorism-related intelligence across the government.

Either way, with the count of mailed explosive devices now at 13 and a suspect in custody, the terror has spread, and so have the politics.

cesar sayoc michael symonette IMG 3908

Bombing suspect Cesar Sayoc poses with "Michael the Black Man," variously known as Michael Symonette and Michael Israel, at a "Make America Great Again" (MAGA) rally for Trump (file photo). See Washington Post story, excerpted below, on "Michael the Black Man," a religious cult member acquitted of two murders in Florida and a frequent presence at Trump rallies positioned behind the president by rally organizers to show racial diversity on television screens while the president speaks. Separately, news reports state that Sayoc worked many years as a bouncer and / or promotions worker in the strip club scene in the Miami area.

washington post logoWashington Post, Who is Sayoc? Here’s what we know about the suspect, Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Mark Berman​, Oct. 26, 2018 (print edition). Cesar Altieri Sayoc is believed to be the owner of a white van plastered with names and photos of prominent Democrats and media figures, several of them framed by shooting targets.

Next to the pro-Trump stickers plastered all over the white van authorities believe belongs to Cesar Sayoc are the names and photos of dozens of prominent Democrats and media figures — former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, former first lady Michelle Obama, former attorneys general Eric Holder and Loretta E. Lynch, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, filmmaker Michael Moore, “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd.

Authorities on Friday arrested Sayoc and identified him as a suspect in the sprawling mail-bomb scare that included at least a dozen suspicious packages sent to political and media figures, including many pictured on the van.

republican elephant logoSayoc, a 56-year-old registered Republican, lives in Aventura, Fla., near the facility from where many of the packages were mailed, authorities said.

Sayoc, who was previously known to law enforcement officials, has been arrested nearly a dozen times in Florida, including a 2002 arrest for making a bomb threat. His criminal record in the state extends to the early 1990s, starting with his arrest for larceny at the age of 29, according to state records. Other charges of larceny, grand theft and fraud would soon follow across the southern part of the state.

In the 2002 bomb threat case, Sayoc pleaded guilty to the felony without a trial and was sentenced to probation, the records show.

According to Miami-Dade County jail booking records, Sayoc called Florida Power and Light and threatened to blow up the local electric utility. Sayoc said “it would be worse than Sept. 11″ and also threatened something would happen to the FPL representative he was talking to if the utility cut his electricity.

FBI logoHe declared bankruptcy in 2012, according to a court filing that said he lived with his mother at that time.

A lawsuit in which Sayoc was deposed said he had been a manager at a strip club called Stir Crazy for 35 years. In that same deposition, Sayoc claimed he was also a pro wrestler, a Chippendales dancer, a professional soccer player in Milan, and an arena football player in Arizona.

See related 2017 story on MAGA supporter "Michael the Black Man."

washington post logoWashington Post, The strange story of that ‘Blacks for Trump’ guy standing behind POTUS at his Phoenix rally, Katie Mettler and Lindsey Bever, Aug. 23, 2017. At a number of political rallies over the past year, a character calling himself “Michael the Black Man” has appeared in the crowd directly behind Donald Trump, impossible to miss and prompting widespread fascination.

He holds signs that scream “BLACKS FOR TRUMP” and wears a T-shirt proclaiming with equal conviction that “TRUMP & Republicans Are Not Racist.”

Almost always, he plugs his wild website, Gods2.com, across his chest.

And so it was Tuesday night before a crowd of Trump supporters in Phoenix who had come to watch another show. There was the president, whipping up the wildly cheering crowd, and then there was Michael the Black Man, chanting just beyond Trump’s right shoulder in that trademark T-shirt.

The presence of Michael — variously known as Michael Symonette, Maurice Woodside and Mikael Israel — has inspired not only trending Twitter hashtags but a great deal of curiosity and Google searches. Internet sleuths find the man’s bizarre URL, an easily accessible gateway to his strange and checkered past.

barack obama smile HRThe radical fringe activist from Miami once belonged to a violent black supremacist religious cult, and he runs a handful of amateur, unintelligible conspiracy websites. He has called Barack Obama (right) “The Beast” and Hillary Clinton a Ku Klux Klan member. Oprah Winfrey, he says, is the devil.

Most curiously, in the 1990s, he was charged, then acquitted, with conspiracy to commit two murders.

But Michael the Black Man loves President Trump.

It’s unclear whether the White House or Trump’s campaign officials are aware of Michael the Black Man’s turbulent history or extreme political views.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to a Washington Post query about Michael the Black Man by saying, in a Wednesday-morning email: “You would have to contact the campaign.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Man Arrested in Connection With Pipe Bombs Sent to Trump Critics, William K. Rashbaum and Alan Feuer, Oct. 26, 2018. Federal authorities made an arrest on Friday in connection with the nationwide bombing campaign against outspoken critics of President Trump.

cory booker official profileIt was not immediately clear who had been taken into custody, but the arrest took place in Florida, two law enforcement officials said. The arrest came only hours after the mysterious spate of pipe bombs spread further on Friday morning as federal authorities said that they had found two more of the explosive devices: one addressed to Senator Cory Booker, left, and the other to James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence.

cnn logoThe package addressed to Mr. Clapper was meant to be delivered to the New York offices of CNN, where he works as an analyst, but was intercepted at a mail facility in Midtown Manhattan, police officials in New York City said. The package addressed to Mr. Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, was found in Florida, which two people briefed on the matter have said has become a focus of the intense, nationwide investigation into the bombs.

ny times logojames clapper oNew York Times, Two More Bombs Found, Addressed to Cory Booker and CNN, Oct. 26, 2018. Two more explosive devices were intercepted today: One was sent to Senator Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, and the other to James R. Clapper Jr., right, the former director of national intelligence. The package sent to Mr. Clapper was addressed to CNN’s offices in New York.

Saudi Murder Probe Pressure

jamal khashoggi entering Saudi consulate

Jamal Kashoggi, a dissident Saudi Arabian journalist living in Virginia and Turkey, is shown entering a Saudi consulate before his disappearance on Oct. 2 and suspected murder.

The Guardian, Erdoğan tells Saudis: show us where Jamal Khashoggi's body is, Bethan McKernan, Oct. 26, 2018. Turkish president also says Riyadh needs to name ‘local cooperator’ who helped dispose of body. The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has made fresh demands on Saudi Arabia to disclose the location of Jamal Khashoggi’s body and identify who ordered his killing, in a sign that Ankara is willing to keep up the pressure on the beleaguered kingdom.

Eighteen men arrested in Saudi Arabia “must know” who killed the journalist and where his remains were taken, Erdoğan said in parliament on Friday, adding that the person who “gave the orders” for the alleged murder must be brought to justice and the suspects extradited for trial in Istanbul.

mohammad bin salman cropped fileRiyadh’s changing accounts of what happened have been “comic”, the president said, calling them “childish statements … not compatible with the seriousness of a nation state.”
“Who gave that order? If you want to eliminate the suspicion [about you], the key question is these 18 people,” Erdoğan said. “You know how to make people talk,” he added, in a reference to the powerful Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, right. “But if you cannot make them talk, then hand them over to us. This incident happened in Istanbul. Let us put them on trial.”

Erdoğan also urged the Saudis to identify the “local collaborator” whom they say disposed of Khashoggi’s remains. His pointed remarks come after he spoke to the heir to the Saudi throne for the first time on Wednesday about cooperating in the evolving diplomatic crisis.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, As midterms near, Trump relaunches an angry, nativist appeal to core supporters, Matt Viser and Josh Dawsey​, Oct. 26, 2018. The Central American caravan provides the president with a new spin on an issue he has used to close every election since he entered the presidential contest: immigration.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump considering plan to ban entry of migrants at southern border, deny asylum, Nick Miroff, Dan Lamothe and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 26, 2018 (print edition).  With the president's attention fixed on the migrant caravan moving through Mexico, the White House is weighing whether to shut the border to Central Americans and deny them the opportunity to seek asylum, according to administration officials.

Election Rigging

nsa official logoWired, Commentary: I Bought Used Voting Machines on eBay for $100 Apiece. What I Found Was Alarming, Brian Varner, Oct. 26, 2018.  Brian Varner is a Symantec special projects researcher on the Cyber Security Services team, leading the company's CyberWar Games and emerging technologies development. He previously worked at the National Security Agency as a tactical analyst.

In 2016, I bought two voting machines online for less than $100 apiece. I didn't even have to search the dark web. I found them on eBay.
Surely, I thought, these machines would have strict guidelines for lifecycle control like other sensitive equipment, like medical devices. I was wrong. I was able to purchase a pair of direct-recording electronic voting machines and have them delivered to my home in just a few days. I did this again just a few months ago.

If getting voting machines delivered to my door was shockingly easy, getting inside them proved to be simpler still. The tamper-proof screws didn’t work, all the computing equipment was still intact, and the hard drives had not been wiped. The information I found on the drives, including candidates, precincts, and the number of votes cast on the machine, were not encrypted. Worse, the “Property Of” government labels were still attached, meaning someone had sold government property filled with voter information and location data online, at a low cost, with no consequences. It would be the equivalent of buying a surplus police car with the logos still on it.

My aim in purchasing voting machines was not to undermine our democracy. I'm a security researcher at Symantec who started buying the machines as part of an ongoing effort to identify their vulnerabilities and strengthen election security. In 2016, I was conducting preliminary research for our annual CyberWar Games, a company-wide competition where I design simulations for our employees to hack into. Since it was an election year, I decided to create a scenario incorporating the components of a modern election system. But if I were a malicious actor seeking to disrupt an election, this would be akin to a bank selling its old vault to an aspiring burglar.

Vote Suppression / Law

alliance for justice logo

bill yeomans afj cropped CustomAlliance for Justice, Commentary: The Court v. Democracy, Bill Yeomans (right), Oct. 26, 2018. The American people will have the opportunity to vote in less than two weeks in midterm elections that may prove the most consequential in decades. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of qualified voters will face barriers established by Republican state officials, and millions more will have the impact of their votes diluted by partisan gerrymandering. The effect of all of this will be exacerbated by the distorting flow of hundreds of millions of dollars of dark money into elections. Republicans stand to benefit. In each instance, their advantage was enabled by the Republican-appointed majority of the Supreme Court.

For decades, Republicans have operated on the principle that they prosper when fewer people vote. The Republican base has become older, whiter, and smaller as the overall population has become more diverse. Republicans’ ace-in-the hole has been that older and whiter voters generally turn out in higher percentages than younger, poorer, and more diverse voters. That effect is exaggerated in midterm elections. Without a presidential contest, interest is low and Republicans over-perform, as they did in taking the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014.

As the Republican demographic disadvantage has grown and the party’s base has consolidated around its older, white core, Republicans have understood that they must find ways to shrink the electorate by carving out Democrats without cutting their base. They have adopted a phony voter fraud mantra to justify a range of voter suppression measures, including the adoption of photo ID requirements, and strict rules requiring purging voters for non-participation or slightly inconsistent registration information. They have also shortened periods for early voting, eliminated pre-registration for 17-year olds, and changed and eliminated polling places. These measures disproportionally burden poor and minority voters in the service of combating voting fraud that nobody has been able to identify.

How can such obviously anti-democratic voter suppression measures be legal? Occasionally, they’re not, but far too often Republican legislators and administrators are successful in defending them or can stay one step ahead of litigation. That’s largely because of two disastrous Supreme Court decisions, in which the Roberts Court ensured that the law would accommodate these shenanigans blocking access to the ballot.

U.S. Economy / Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Economy Grew at 3.5% Rate in Third Quarter, Nelson D. Schwartz, Oct. 26, 2018. The U.S. economy is on track for its fastest annual growth since 2005 as the G.D.P rose at a 3.5 percent rate in the third quarter.

#MeToo: Homeless Women

washington post logoWashington Post, Personal Commentary: Homeless women are the sexual assault survivors no one talks about. Here’s my story, Lori Yearwood, Oct. 26, 2018.Within months, the writer lost her house, her family and business, and wound up, traumatized, on the streets of Salt Lake City. She spent two years enduring brutality as a homeless woman before she found the strength to pull herself out.

Tech Morality

Moon of Alabama, Commentary, Autonomous Cars And Moral Decisions - Should Only The Well-Behaved Survive? b, Oct. 26, 2018. While lots of companies in Silicon Valley work on self driving cars many people remain skeptical of these. The introduction of such cars raises technical, legal and most importantly moral problems. Autonomous cars depend on sensors to have situational awareness. Sensor can fail. They can be spoofed by weather phenomenons or willful attacks. Autonomous cars need an immensely complex software to make decisions.

All self-driving cars will have bugs. Their software is extremely complicated and it will have errors. They will receive updates with more errors and unpredictable consequences. Even Microsoft, the biggest software company in the world, recently screwed up a regular Windows 10 update. It deleted user data on the local disk and in the 'cloud' where it was supposed to be safe. Who will be guilty when an autonomous car bluescreens and causes an accident?

Media News

Overseas Press Club, Experts Discuss Current Risks and Rewards of Video Journalism, Chad Bouchard, Oct. 26, 2018. Over the last two decades, newspapers and other traditional print media have been under increasing pressure to provide video and multimedia content. But in today’s era of ubiquitous cell phone cameras, viral distribution, and manipulated content, video storytelling comes with many pitfalls. On Oct. 18, a panel of experts gathered for a panel to present a “Video 101” seminar on perils and best practices of using video footage.

“Video is an essential part of storytelling, and of any news organization’s content mix,” said OPC Secretary Paula Dwyer of Bloomberg News, who moderated the panel. But she added that print journalists who are expected to shoot video now have to learn new skills because “the technology differs, the way you tell the story is different, ethics involved are different, the framing of the story is different.”

Oct. 25

Top Democrats, Media Receive Suspected Bombs

washington post logoWashington Post, Suspected explosives sent to Biden, De Niro as investigation into pipe bombs expands to 10 packages, Devlin Barrett, Mark Berman and Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Oct. 25, 2018. Numerous pipe bombs sent to prominent critics of President Trump.

joe biden oAuthorities investigating a wave of pipe bombs mailed to prominent figures across the country said Thursday that they have found 10 similar packages, including two sent to former vice president Joe Biden, right, and another mailed to the actor Robert De Niro.

These latest packages set off new alarms amid a sprawling investigation into explosive devices mailed to a string of politicians — including former president Barack Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton — who have all criticized President Trump. Like the others, the packages sent to Biden and De Niro were intercepted before reaching their intended targets and did not detonate. They also prompted a further surge of law enforcement activity as the effort to find the culprit or culprits, along with any other possible explosives, expanded farther across the country.

washington post logoWashington Post, Potential explosives sent to Obama, Clinton and CNN spur search for other devices, Devlin Barrett, Mark Berman and Cleve R. Wootson Jr.​, Oct. 25, 2018 (print edition). The devices sent to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in New York and former president Barack Obama in Washington are thought to be the work of the person who sent a similar device to liberal philanthropist George Soros, two law enforcement officials said.

Roll Call, Capitol Police Investigate Another Suspicious Package; Senate Staff Warned of Mail Threats, Katherine Tully-McManus, Oct. 25, 2018 (print edition). Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters was apparent intended target.

newsweek logoNewsweek, Maxine Waters: Trump Should 'Take Responsibility' for Bomb Threats, He's Been 'Dog-Whistling' to Supporters, Ramsey Touchberry, Oct. 25, 2018. Democratic Representative Maxine Waters has a message for her California constituents and the American people after a series of mail-bomb threats on Wednesday, two of which were addressed to her: President Donald Trump should take responsibility for the kinds of “violence we’re seeing” and “I ain’t afraid” of threats.

maxine waters cnnThe congresswoman (shown in a file photo) spoke to the online news outlet Blavity shortly after learning about the first package containing an explosive device that had her name on it.

The other intended targets were mostly prominent Democrats who have criticized Trump in the past, including the Obamas, the Clintons, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former Attorney General Eric Holder, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Vice President Joe Biden. Billionaire Democratic donor George Soros and actor Robert De Niro were also targeted.

Waters has been on the receiving end of the president’s personal attacks in recent months. In June, Trump tweeted that Waters was “an extraordinarily low IQ person” who should “be careful what you wish for Max!”

The president was responding to Waters call for public harassment of Trump administration officials in the wake of the “zero tolerance” immigration policy that separated migrant children from their parents (the policy was eventually stopped).

Spies Spy On Trump Via Unsecure Phone?

ny times logoNew York Times, Chinese and Russian Spies Are Listening to Trump’s Personal Calls, Matthew Rosenberg and Maggie Haberman, Oct. 25, 2018 (print edition). President Trump’s aides have repeatedly warned him that his cellphone calls are not secure, and they have told him that spies are routinely eavesdropping.

donald trump flag mouthBut he has refused to give up his iPhones. White House officials say they can only hope he refrains from discussing classified information when he is on them.

When President Trump calls old friends on one of his iPhones to gossip, gripe or solicit their latest take on how he is doing, American intelligence reports indicate that Chinese spies are often listening — and putting to use invaluable insights into how to best work the president and affect administration policy, current and former American officials said.

Mr. Trump’s aides have repeatedly warned him that his cellphone calls are not secure, and they have told him that Russian spies are routinely eavesdropping on the calls, as well. But aides say the voluble president, who has been pressured into using his secure White House landline more often these days, has still refused to give up his iPhones. White House officials say they can only hope he refrains from discussing classified information when he is on them.

Mr. Trump’s use of his iPhones was detailed by several current and former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so they could discuss classified intelligence and sensitive security arrangements. The officials said they were doing so not to undermine Mr. Trump, but out of frustration with what they considered the president’s casual approach to electronic security.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump denies report of frequent use of unsecure iPhones, allowing spies to listen, John Wagner, Oct. 25, 2018. The New York Times reported that President Trump’s aides have warned him that his cellphone calls are not secure and that Russian spies are eavesdropping on the calls. Trump tweeted that the story was “soooo wrong.”

china flagPresident Trump on Thursday denied a report that he often calls friends to gripe or solicit advice on his unsecure iPhones, allowing Chinese spies to listen in and gain valuable insights into how to deal with the U.S. administration.

“The so-called experts on Trump over at the New York Times wrote a long and boring article on my cellphone usage that is so incorrect I do not have time here to correct it,” Trump said in a predawn tweet. “I only use Government Phones, and have only one seldom used government cell phone. Story is soooo wrong!”

Judge Blocks Georgia Vote Suppression

stacy abrams brian kemp file

Georgia candidates for governor Stacey Abrams, the Democrat, and Republican Brian Kemp, who as secretary of state has been undertaking controversial measures to restrict voting.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge orders Georgia officials to stop tossing absentee ballots over signatures, Amy Gardner, Oct. 25, 2018 (print edition). The ruling is a win for voting rights activists, who said that a spike in absentee ballot rejections in suburban Gwinnett County amounted to voter suppression.

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered Georgia election officials to stop summarily tossing absentee ballots because of mismatched signatures, delivering a crucial win to voting-rights advocates — and to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams — less than two weeks before Election Day.

The ruling resulted from two lawsuits filed earlier this month after election officials in a single Atlanta suburb, Gwinnett County, rejected hundreds of absentee ballots with signature discrepancies, missing addresses or incorrect birth years.

The plaintiffs, including the ACLU, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Coalition for Good Governance, argued that allowing nonexpert election officials to judge the validity of signatures without giving voters the chance to contest the decisions amounted to unconstitutional voter suppression.

U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May agreed, and she ordered Secretary of State Brian Kemp to instruct all local election officials to stop rejecting absentee ballots over the mismatched signatures. Instead, such ballots will be marked “provisional,” and the voter will be given the right to appeal the decision or confirm his or her identity. Kemp and the Gwinnett County election board were named as defendants in the suit.

The issue had prompted a fiery outcry from Abrams, who accused Kemp, also her Republican opponent, of trying to suppress the minority vote. Gwinnett County, the state’s second-largest county, has undergone a demographic transformation in recent years, moving from 67 percent white in 2000 to 62 percent nonwhite last year. Democrats have sought to mobilize the new residents in support of their efforts to turn the state blue.

Mueller Probe

nbc news logoNBC News, Mueller has evidence suggesting Stone associate knew Clinton emails would be leaked, Ken Dilanian and Anna Schecter, Oct. 25, 2018  Special counsel Robert Mueller's office has obtained communications suggesting that a right-wing conspiracy theorist might have had advance knowledge that the emails of Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman had been stolen and handed to WikiLeaks, a source familiar with the investigation told NBC News.

jerome corsiMueller's team has spent months investigating whether the conspiracy theorist, Jerome Corsi, right, learned before the public did that WikiLeaks had obtained emails hacked by Russian intelligence officers — and whether he passed information about the stolen emails to Donald Trump associate Roger Stone, multiple sources said.

An author and commentator, Corsi is considered to be the founder of the so-called Birther movement of people who believed Barack Obama was not a U.S. citizen, a lie that Trump used to help propel his presidential candidacy. In 2017, Corsi became the Washington, D.C. bureau chief for InfoWars, a web site run by Alex Jones, whose inflammatory lies about the 2014 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting have gotten him banned from YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Corsi no longer works there.

NY Fraud Claims Against Trump Foundation

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge in Trump charity lawsuit appears skeptical of president’s arguments for dismissal, David A. Fahrenthold, Oct. 25, 2018. A lawyer for President Trump on Thursday asked a New York state judge to throw out a lawsuit alleging that Trump violated charity laws — arguing that any mistakes made at the president’s charity were too minor to merit such a case.

But Judge Saliann Scarpulla appeared to be skeptical of their arguments, saying that the Donald J. Trump Foundation was still required to comply with all charity laws, including several that New York’s attorney general alleges the foundation broke.

At the hearing in state court in Lower Manhattan, Alan Futerfas, a private attorney for Trump and his three eldest children, said it was wrong for New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood to accuse them of “waste” at the foundation. None of the Trumps, he said, had ever used the charity’s money to pay for dinner, a vacation home or travel.

Saudi Murders Most Foul

djt mbs file

President Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (File photo)

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump, Will Money or Morals Prevail With the Saudis? Carol Giacomo, Video by Taige Jensen and Japhet Weeks, Oct. 25, 2018. For the United States, doing nothing about the premeditated killing of Jamal Khashoggi is not an option.

The horrific killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a United States-based journalist for The Washington Post, has galvanized American and international outrage against Saudi Arabia to an extent unheard-of since Sept. 11. In the video above, we suggest some ways the United States can make clear its extreme revulsion at the crime and pressure the kingdom’s leaders into telling the whole truth and ensuring accountability for the perpetrators. All signs point to the powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, as the main man behind the murder; only 18 security and intelligence underlings have been arrested.

Weeks of absurdly shifting explanations have shredded Riyadh’s credibility. After first claiming ignorance about how Mr. Khashoggi vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, the Saudis said that he left the facility alive and well after a short visit, that he might have been the target of a “rogue” operation by its intelligence service and that he had been killed accidentally in a brawl that broke out as a team of Saudi agents was inviting him to return to the kingdom. Finally on Thursday, the Saudi prosecutor said “new evidence” indicated the murder had been “premeditated.”

Strategic Culture Foundation, Commentary: Khashoggi Wasn’t the Only Murder Victim of Mohammed bin Salman, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 25, 2018. Wayne Madsen, author of 17 books, is a syndicated columnist and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst.

It should come as no surprise that Donald Trump and his family, including son-in-law Jared Kushner and sons Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump, are siding with Saudi Arabia’s bizarre explanation for the murder of Washington-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate-General in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.

Khashoggi was not the first victim of the Saudi regime hunted down and murdered.

Saudi Prince Khaled bin Farhan al-Saud, who has lived in exile in Germany since 2004 and is a critic of the MBS regime, reported in an interview with the DPA German press agency that, in late September 2018, one of his relatives met with Saudi embassy officials in Cairo. The Saudi interlocutors told the relative that they knew Prince Khaled was short on funds and that they wished to "help him."

Khaled was lucky. In January 2016, Prince Sultan bin Turki, who lived in Paris, planned to fly from Boston to Cairo to visit his father. The MBS government provided a private jet for the prince. However, instead of Cairo, the plane flew Sultan to Riyadh, where he was dragged off the plane by security agents and he was never heard from again.

In late 2015, Prince Turki bin Bandar, who lived in Paris, was visiting Morocco. The Moroccan authorities arrested Prince Turki and extradited him to Saudi Arabia. He has not been heard from since.

Trump, using language similar to his defense of his Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh, said the Saudis should be considered innocent until proven guilty. In an interview with the Associated Press, Trump said, "Here we go again with, you know, you're guilty until proven innocent . . . I don't like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I'm concerned."

It was strange for Trump to liken Kavanaugh to the Saudis. The Saudi government has never been known to tell the truth about its involvement in assassinations and terrorist events, including the 9/11 attack in 2001 on the United States and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing.

Justice System: Presumption of Guilt?

jacob hornberger headshotFuture of Freedom Foundation, Commentary: Why No Presumption of Innocence at Gitmo? Jacob G. Hornberger, Oct. 25, 2018. During the Senate’s confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Trump emphasized the importance of the principle of the presumption of innocence. When people began accusing Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of having orchestrated the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, Trump, referring back to Kavanaugh, chastised people for, once again, forgetting about the principle of the presumption of innocence.

Okay, so let’s assume for argument’s sake that Trump has suddenly become an ardent defender of the civil-liberties principle of the presumption of innocence.

Such being the case, a question naturally arises: Why has Trump permitted the U.S. national-security establishment to continue using the principle of the presumption of guilt for people it has incarcerated in its prison center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba? During the entire two years that he has been in office, Trump has failed to issue an order to the Pentagon and the CIA to adopt the presumption of innocence principle at Gitmo.

What gives with that? Why express a commitment to the principle of the presumption of innocence for his two friends, Kavanaugh and bin Salman, but not extend that commitment to the people who have been jailed at Gitmo under the presumption that they are guilty of terrorism?

In fact, one of the dark ironies of the Pentagon-CIA “judicial” system at Gitmo is that it more closely resembles the “judicial” system in Saudi Arabia, which is ruled by a brutal dictatorial regime, than the judicial system here in the United States.

Senator Accuses Kavanaugh Accusers

washington post logoWashington Post, Grassley refers Avenatti and Kavanaugh accuser to Justice Dept. for a criminal probe, Seung Min Kim and Elise Viebeck, Oct. 25, 2018. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) on Thursday referred lawyer Michael Avenatti and Julie Swetnick — one of the women who accused now-Supreme Court michael avenatti sketchJustice Brett M. Kavanaugh of misconduct — to the Department of Justice for a criminal probe, alleging that they made “materially false” statements to Grassley’s committee as it investigated the allegations.

Swetnick said in a September affidavit that Kavanaugh attended a 1982 house party during which she says she was gang raped — an accusation Kavanaugh vehemently denied and said was from the “Twilight Zone.” Grassley said he is asking the Justice Department to look into whether Swetnick and Avenatti, right, potentially conspired to give materially false statements to Congress and obstruct a congressional investigation.

chuck grassley screams at patrick leahy confidential records screenshot“When charlatans make false claims to the committee — claims that may earn them short-term media exposure and financial gain, but which hinder the committee’s ability to do its job — here should be consequences,” Grassley (shown screaming at Democrat Pat Leahy of Vermont) wrote in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI director Christopher A. Wray. “These laws exist to ensure there are.”

Avenatti responded to the news of the criminal referral on Twitter, calling it “ironic” that Grassley is “now interested in investigations.” He appeared to be speaking on behalf of himself and Swetnick.

“He didn’t care when it came to putting a man on the SCOTUS for life,” he tweeted, referring to the Supreme Court. “We welcome the investigation as now we can finally get to the bottom of Judge Kavanaugh’s lies and conduct. Let the truth be known.”

Later, Avenatti argued that the referral was good for him and Swetnick because it could bring to light more details about Kavanaugh’s past conduct.

“Maybe if Grassley was actually a lawyer that knew something about the law, he would realize what he has done. He just opened up Pandora’s box as it relates to Justice Kavanaugh’s conduct. It is Christmas in October!” Avenatti tweeted.

#MeToo Cases: Google

ny times logoNew York Times, Google Shielded Executives Accused of Misconduct. One Got $90 Million Exit Deal, Daisuke Wakabayashi and Katie Benner, Oct. 25, 2018. Google gave Andy Rubin, the creator of Android mobile software, a hero’s farewell when he left the company in October 2014.

“I want to wish Andy all the best with what’s next,” Larry Page, Google’s chief executive then, said in a public statement. “With Android he created something truly remarkable — with a billion-plus happy users.”

google logo customWhat Google did not make public was that an employee had accused Mr. Rubin of sexual misconduct. The woman, with whom Mr. Rubin had been having an extramarital relationship, said he coerced her into performing oral sex in a hotel room in 2013, according to two company executives with knowledge of the episode. Google investigated and concluded her claim was credible, said the people, who spoke on the condition that they not be named, citing confidentiality agreements. Mr. Rubin was notified, they said, and Mr. Page asked for his resignation.

Google could have fired Mr. Rubin and paid him little to nothing on the way out. Instead, the company handed him a $90 million exit package, paid in installments of about $2 million a month for four years, said two people with knowledge of the terms. The last payment is scheduled for next month.

Mr. Rubin was one of three executives that Google protected over the past decade after they were accused of sexual misconduct. In two instances, it ousted senior executives, but softened the blow by paying them millions of dollars as they departed, even though it had no legal obligation to do so. In a third, the executive remained in a highly compensated post at the company. Each time Google stayed silent about the accusations against the men.

The New York Times obtained corporate and court documents and spoke to more than three dozen current and former Google executives and employees about the episodes, including some people directly involved in handling them. Most asked to remain anonymous because they were bound by confidentiality agreements or feared retribution for speaking out.

DC Quadruple Murder Verdict

washington post logoWashington Post, Daron Wint found guilty of murdering 3 members of D.C. family and their housekeeper, Keith L. Alexander and Spencer S. Hsu​, Oct. 25, 2018. The city was riveted in 2015 by the slayings of married couple Sav­­vas Savopoulos, 46, and Amy Savopoulos, 47; their son, Philip, 10; and the family’s housekeeper, 57-year-old Veralicia “Vera” Figueroa.

More On Saudi Murder of Khashoggi

washington post logoWashington Post, Saudi Arabia, in latest reversal, says Khashoggi’s killing was premeditated, Tamer El-Ghobashy and Kareem Fahim, Oct. 25, 2018. Last week, Saudi authorities said journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed accidentally in a fistfight at the Saudi Consulate in Turkey.

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Khashoggi Drama -- A Deal Has Been Made But Will It Hold? b, Oct. 25, 2018. A preliminary deal has been made between the Turkish president Erdogan and the al-Saud clan in Saudi Arabia. The case of Jamal Khashoggi, right, killed in Istanbul by bodyguards of the Saudi clown prince Mohammad bin Salman, will be closed for now.

jamal khashoggi western suitOver the last 36 hours, since Erdogan's speech proved Saudi culpability, there have been no more damaging leaks about the case from the usual Turkish sources. During a podium discussion at yesterday's investor conference in Riyadh Mohammad bin Salman denounced the “heinous crime” committed against Jamal Khashoggi. He praised the "unbreakable relations" with Turkey and lauded Qatar's economic durability.

The comments came after a phone call between MbS and Erdogan. The negotiations proved to be difficult. The Saudi King sent the governor of Mecca and Medina to make a deal:

Prince Khalid al-Faisal returned home from Ankara with a bleak message for the royal family. “It is really difficult to get out of this one,” Prince Khalid told relatives after his return, one of those family members recalled this week. “He was really disturbed by it.”

Early rumors spoke of a Saudi offer of $5 billion to burry the case. That was not enough.https://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/10/khashoggi-drama-a-deal-has-been-made-but-will-it-hold.html#more

Facebook Censorship?

facebook logoConsortium News, Facebook Censorship of Alternative Media ‘Just the Beginning,’ Warns Top Neocon Insider, Max Blumenthal and Jeb Sprague, Oct. 25, 2018. At a Berlin security conference, hardline neocon Jamie Fly appeared to claim some credit for the recent coordinated purge of alternative media, report Gray Zone's.Oct. 24

'Apprentice' #MeToo Trump Case Proceeds

washington post logoWashington Post, While Stormy Daniels publicly battles Trump, Summer Zervos’s defamation suit against him quietly advances, Elise Viebeck, Oct. 25, 2018. Three days after adult-film star Stormy Daniels’s libel case against President Trump was dismissed in federal court, the lawyer for another woman suing Trump for defamation argued to a panel of New York appellate judges why they should allow her case to proceed.

summer zervos“The president does not stand above the law,” Mariann Wang, an attorney for former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos (shown in a file photo), said last week during a little-noticed hearing in Manhattan.

“He is also a human being who engaged in unofficial conduct and acts that hurt my client very seriously. We have — she has — the right to bring this action.”

Amid the focus on Daniels’s conspicuous and ugly battle with Trump, Zervos’s case has quietly advanced as a possibly more serious legal threat.

Trump’s lawyers are attempting to block her suit by arguing that the president is immune from such lawsuits in state court, a constitutional law dispute that could produce new precedent if it rises to the Supreme Court.

So far, Zervos’s case has overcome multiple efforts by Trump’s attorneys to kill or stall it in New York state. Lawyers for Zervos have started gathering pretrial evidence — including written answers from Trump — and may get the chance to depose him in the coming months.

Terror Shooting In Kentucky

gregory bush scott utterback courier journal via ap pool

Gregory Bush is arraigned on two counts of murder and 10 counts of wanton endangerment on Oct. 25, 2018, in Louisville, Kentucky. Bush fatally shot two African-American customers at a Kroger grocery store Wednesday and was swiftly arrested as he tried to flee, authorities said Thursday (Scott Utterback / Courier Journal photo via AP pool).

WDRB-TV (Louisville), Accused Kroger shooter has history of mental illness and racist comments, Jason Riley and Marcus Green, Oct. 25, 2018. In one complaint from 2009, Bush's father said his son got angry and said, "Tonight might be black death."

The man charged with shooting and killing two people at a suburban Louisville Kroger on Wednesday has a history of mental illness, made racist threats and repeatedly called his ex-wife the N-word, according to court records.

Jeffersontown police are not speculating on whether race was a motive in the killing of 69-year-old Maurice Stallard and 67-year-old Vicki Lee Jones, both of whom were black. The alleged shooter, 51-year-old Gregory A. Bush Sr., is white.

However, Jeffersontown Police Chief Sam Rogers told reporters Thursday afternoon that Bush tried to enter the predominantly black First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown about 10 minutes before the Kroger shooting.

A church member sitting in the parking lot saw Bush trying to get inside by pulling on doors and banging on them. He was also caught on the church's surveillance video.

More U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, In Florida, Gillum-DeSantis gubernatorial debate descends into a personal brawl, Tim Craig, Oct. 25, 2018. The final debate in the Florida governor race devolved into an extraordinary, highly personal brawl on Wednesday night when Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum traded accusations over race and ethics in a showdown that revealed two candidates who really seem to dislike each other.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosAt different times during the hour-long debate, DeSantis suggested Gillum would allow child molesters to roam Florida communities, while Gillum, who is seeking to become Florida’s first black governor, accused DeSantis of being supported by neo-Nazis.

Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, also charged that DeSantis, a former congressman, was “disqualified” to lead the state because he can’t be trusted to tell the truth. DeSantis in turn said Gillum was a liar and the corrupt mayor of a crime-ridden city.

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Small County Bucks Kemp, Will Audit Midterms, Timothy Pratt, Oct. 25, 2018. Morgan County to Audit Absentee Ballots, Touchscreen Machines. Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp has resisted all attempts to make the results of the upcoming midterms more secure and verifiable, even turning down assistance from the Department of Homeland Security before the 2016 elections. Now one small county has decided to go it alone and develop a plan to offer residents more confidence that their votes will be counted correctly come November 6.

Morgan County — which is about 60 miles southeast of Atlanta — may be the last place you’d expect to see efforts to deal with vulnerabilities of the state’s touchscreen voting machines. The county is home to some 18,000 people spread across 355 square miles. It is also the site of the Cotton Gin Festival, held each November in the town of Bostwick.

Last Thursday, the county’s Board of Elections and Registration voted 3–2 to perform a two-part audit on the midterms, hoping to help verify election results. They will recount some of the absentee mail-in ballots — and compare tapes containing each voting machine’s tally with the county server’s results produced at the end of the election.

Real Clear Politics, Is Trump Transforming Midterms With Arena-Size Rallies? Adele Malpass, Oct. 25, 2018. One of the new dynamics in this midterm election is President Trump reprising the rallies that helped fuel his victory in 2016. While it’s common for presidents to campaign during midterms, arena-size crowds at rallies all over the country is a new phenomenon, and these events have proven to be a powerful way to communicate with, and excite, base voters.

The big question, however, is whether Trump’s supporters will turn out on Nov. 6, because it’s one thing to go to an energy-filled rally, another to find time on Election Day to go a polling place and put an X beside a candidate that isn’t nearly as motivational as the president.

Donald Trump Pointing Finger Gage Skidmore DMCAIn 2016, Trump (shown in a Gage Skidmore photo) had the ability to fill arenas in multiple states on the same day, but some in the media played down the importance of rallies even after he won the election. In response, White House aide Kellyanne Conway said in a post-election analysis: “The size of rallies matters.” Recently, the president echoed that point in a tweet:

A quick comparison reveals Trump’s appearances have generated much larger crowds than those of prominent Democrats. In Nevada last weekend, the president hit the campaign trail with a rally in Elko County, which drew 8,500. Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden campaigned for Democratic Senate candidate Jackie Rosen in Las Vegas -- before an audience of about 500. Former President Obama was also recently in the state, but only 2,000 people attended his event in the University of Nevada-Las Vegas’s 18,000-seat arena. On Monday, Trump held a rally in Houston where 100,000 people requested tickets even though the Toyota Center there can accommodate just 18,000.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump held a whopping 323 rallies in almost 40 states. Since his inauguration in 2017, he has held nearly 50 more, with eight to 10 more expected before Election Day. “The rallies motivate the base, create excitement and momentum,” said John McLaughlin, a Republican pollster. “Trump needs to get the 63 million voters who supported him in 2016 to turn out for him in the midterms. If he can do that, then the Republicans will control the House.”

There’s also a subsidiary benefit of these events to the GOP and the president: Trump’s 2020 campaign recently announced that it had raised a $106 million war chest, with 98 percent of it coming from low-dollar donors. Some of that likely comes from those attending rallies, who provide their email and cellphone information to obtain a ticket. This creates a useful database for the Trump campaign and is critical to get-out-the-vote efforts on Election Day. Jennifer Kruse, who attended the Houston rally, said she has already “received text messages from the campaign, a robo call from Lara Trump and a reminder to vote early.”

And each person who attends a rally is potentially a force multiplier as they recount the experience to their friends and relatives either directly or through social media. It’s hard to measure this impact until votes are counted, but the size of the rallies is an indication of something potentially powerful afoot in the 2018 election dynamics.

Adele Malpass is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She was formerly chairwoman of the Manhattan Republican Party and money politics reporter for CNBC.

Oct. 24

barack obama smile HRPalmer Report, Opinion: Here’s how to fight back against the bombs sent to President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and other Democrats, Bill Palmer, Oct. 24, 2018. We’re in the middle of a still-unfolding and profoundly disturbing situation which can only be described as a terrorist attack against the United States. Based on the reporting thus far, bombs have been mailed to President Obama (shown at right), Hillary Clinton, George Soros, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, John Brennan, Eric Holder, and other prominent Democratic figures. Even as we wait for more details, one thing is abundantly clear: how we fight back against this.

When people resort to violence against political officials, it’s clear that they’re trying to subvert democracy. Someone out there doesn’t want Democratic politicians to hold office, or doesn’t want Democratic politicians to remain alive, or wants Democrats to be afraid to go vote.

So if you’re a Democrat, the solution is simple: go vote. Seriously, vote. The best way you can fight back against an attack on democracy is to exercise the rights you’re given in a democracy.

Roll Call, The Coincidence of Bomb Recipients, Trump and Far-Right Rhetoric, John T. Bennett, Oct. 24, 2018. White House ducks questions about president’s win-at-all-costs polarizing approach

bill palmerPalmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump supporters go berserk at rally after Democrats are targeted with bombs, Bill Palmer, Oct. 24, 2018. Today we saw an unmistakable attempt at assassinating Donald Trump’s most frequent Democratic political targets, as someone sent mail bombs to everyone from President Obama to Hillary Clinton to Maxine Waters. Trump’s response to the terrorist attack has been weak and generic at best, and his refusal to cancel his planned political rally tonight has been widely criticized.

Now the rally itself is quickly dissolving into precisely what one might have expected.Trump supporters at the Wisconsin rally are already chanting “Lock her up” in reference to Hillary Clinton, just hours after someone tried to murder her, according to MSNBC. Things are apparently so in danger of getting out of control at the rally, even Speaker of the House Paul Ryan – a man without a spine – has felt compelled to meekly ask the crowd to dial it back. Trump himself has yet to speak at the event.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘We have a serious problem’: Paul Volcker is worried about something worse than inflation, Heather Long, Oct. 24, 2018. The former Fed chairman said he is aghast at how Americans no longer trust in government, media, science or about anything else. He chastised President Trump for exacerbating the problem.

Trump Trivializes Saudi Murder

jamal khashoggi son sahal with mbs

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, widely suspected of ordering the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate on Oct. 2, greets the victim's eldest son Sahal Khashoggi, who is forbidden to leave Saudi Arabia. (Saudi government photo and video. Analyst's column excerpted below.)

ny times logoNew York Times, Turkey’s President and Saudi Prince Escalate Battle Over Khashoggi Killing, David D. Kirkpatrick and Carlotta Gall, Oct. 24, 2018 (print edition). For the strongmen of Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the dispute over the killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi is personal and political. Their competing stage shows on Tuesday were the latest salvos in an increasingly high-stakes battle that no longer appears to leave either one room for retreat, pitting against each other two American allies who have each aspired to be the leader of their region.

recep tayyip erdogan o presidentPresident Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, shown at left in a file photo, swept into Ankara’s wood-paneled Parliament on Tuesday to level his most direct attack yet against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, accusing his government of planning the “savage murder” and mutilation of the dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi.

mohammed bin salman al saudHours later, Prince Mohammed, shown in a file photo, bounded into the gilded conference hall of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh to a standing ovation from scores of oil executives, bankers and other businessmen who had risked association with scandal over the killing of Mr. Khashoggi for a chance to profit from the kingdom’s vast wealth.

“More people, more money,” the crown prince told reporters, pronouncing the event a success despite the withdrawal of dozens of speakers and the pleas of many businessmen for him to spare them embarrassment by calling it off.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says Saudis engaged in ‘worst coverup ever’ as U.S. imposes penalties, Kareem Fahim, Tamer El-Ghobashy, John Hudson and Chico Harlan, Oct. 24, 2018 (print edition). Turkey’s president said the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was “planned” and called for the extradition of the Saudi suspects.

washington post logoWashington Post, Saudi crown prince calls Khashoggi killing ‘heinous crime,’ Kevin Sullivan and William Branigin, Oct. 24, 2018. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made his first public comments on the slaying of journalist Jamal Khashoggi during an appearance by the prince at an investment conference in Riyadh.​

CraigMurray.com via Southfront: Commentary: Khashoggi, Erdogan and the Truth, Craig Murray (shown at left, author, broadcaster and former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan craig murray new2002-2004), Oct. 24, 2018. The Turkish account of the murder of Khashoggi given by President Erdogan is true, in every detail. Audio and video evidence exists and has been widely shared with world intelligence agencies, including the US, UK, Russia and Germany, and others which have a relationship with Turkey or are seen as influential.

That is why, despite their desperate desire to do so, no Western country has been able to maintain support for Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, right. I have not seen the mohammed bin salman al saudvideo from inside the consulate, but have been shown stills which may be from a video. The most important thing to say is that they are not from a fixed position camera and appear at first sight consistent with the idea they are taken by a device brought in by the victim.

There are many things to learn from the gruesome murder other than the justified outrage at the event itself. It opens a window on the truly horrible world of the extremely powerful and wealthy.

The first thing to say is that the current Saudi explanation, that this was an intended interrogation and abduction gone wrong, though untrue, does have one thing going for it. It is their regular practice.

bbc news logo2The Saudis have for years been abducting dissidents abroad and returning them to the Kingdom to be secretly killed. The BBC World Service often contains little pockets of decent journalism not reflected in its main news outlets, and here from August 2017 is a little noticed piece on the abduction and “disappearance” of three other senior Saudis between 2015-17. Interestingly, while the piece was updated this month, it was not to include the obvious link to the Khashoggi case.

The key point is that European authorities turned a completely blind eye to the abductions in that BBC report, even when performed on European soil and involving physical force. The Saudi regime was really doing very little different in the Khashoggi case.

jamal kahshoggiIn fact, inside Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi (right) was a less senior and important figure than those other three abducted then killed, about whom nobody kicked up any fuss, even though the truth was readily available. Mohammed Bin Salman appears to have made two important miscalculations: he misread Erdogan and he underestimated the difference which Khashoggi’s position as a Washington Post journalist made to political pressure on Western governments.

Big Typhoon Hits U.S. Territories

washington post logoWashington Post, Extreme Category 5 typhoon makes devastating landfall in Northern Mariana Islands, Chris Mooney and Juliet Eilperin, Oct. 24, 2018. “My sister just lost her whole house on Saipan," a Guam photographer told the Post. Supertyphoon Yutu, tied for the strongest storm this year, slammed into the U.S. commonwealth with weather agencies predicting catastrophic destruction.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Our island is disappearing but the president refuses to act, Anote Tong and Matthieu Rytz, Oct. 24, 2018. Anote Tong was the president of Kiribati from 2003 to 2016. Matthieu Rytz is a filmmaker and visual storyteller.

The Republic of Kiribati — a nation of islands and atolls in the central Pacific — is facing annihilation. The rising ocean has broken through freshwater ponds on some islands, threatening numerous communities. Some villages are already gone.

And yet, while we’ve long known the dangers global warming poses to low-lying island nations like Kiribati, the world may not realize that Kiribati is also grappling with climate denialism, even as it faces the reality of being wiped from the map by 2100. The current president, Taneti Maamau, believes that while climate change is real, it is not man-made. Consequently, Maamau has announced his government’s official intention to “put aside the misleading and pessimistic scenario of a sinking, deserted nation.”

That also means putting aside those, like ourselves, who dare to speak the inconvenient truth. In December 2017, we hosted a local screening in Kiribati for our documentary, “Anote’s Ark,” about the destruction of our ancestral lands, calling for bold action from the international community. The government arrested the filmmaker, Matthieu Rytz, also one of the authors of this op-ed, and kicked him out of the country. Meanwhile, the UN ambassador and former president Teburoro Tito tried —unsuccessfully — to block our film’s premiere at Sundance.

Another Dirty Trick?

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Caravan October Surprise? Russ Baker, Oct. 24, 2018. A caravan of hopeful migrants is slowly moving toward the US, and it’s making many Americans nervous. But what they should really be worried about is the possibility that cynical outside interests use the highly controversial spectacle to unleash a disastrous, violent event. One that could alter the election landscape at the last minute — an “October Surprise.”

You may be familiar with the term. It refers to planned disruptions intended to give one candidate or party a leg up in elections by delivering a surprise body-blow to the opposition.

America has a long history of October Surprises, and it’s not unreasonable to consider that one may be coming this year.

Facebook Spreads Phony Immigrant Scare

washington post logoWashington Post, How a six-year-old photo of a bleeding policeman is being used to stoke fears about the migrant caravan, Craig Timberg, Aaron C. Davis and Andrew Ba Tran, Oct. 24, 2018. The image is shocking: A Mexican policeman in riot gear bleeds profusely from gashes on his head. The culprits, according to posts spreading virally on social media, were members of the migrant caravan making their way north toward the U.S. border — and delivering violence along the way.

An early version on Facebook on Sunday says beneath this image, “And WE are supposed to believe these are just poor, helpless refugees seeking asylum??? I am 100% behind POTUS deploying our military to protect our border and keep them out.”

But the post — shared by tens of thousands including Ginni Thomas, a conservative activist who is the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas — is misleading in key ways, starting with the photograph itself. It’s not from any incident related to the migrant caravan that has emerged as a potent flash point in the intensifying midterm congressional election.

9/11 Disclosure Advances

9/11 Truth Action Project, U. S. Senate Calls For Declassification of ALL 9/11 Documents; Senate Resolution 610 Adopted Without Objection, Staff report, Oct. 23, 2018. At the end of September 2018, the United States Senate called for declassification of all "documents related to the events of September 11, 2001" and "that the survivors, the families of the victims, and the people of the United States deserve answers about the events and circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks upon the United States." While non-binding, this sense-of-the-Senate resolution (S. Res, 610) places the United States Senate firmly in the position of supporting the call that many in the 9/11 Truth Movement have sought for years.

While S. Res. 610 is not the call for the new 9/11 investigation that Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (among others) have been seeking, this resolution highlights how the full story of 9/11 continues to be withheld – not only from the people of the United States, but to the family members and even the members of the United States Senate. The enactment of this Senate Resolution illustrates what the 9/11 Truth Movement has been saying for years – that critical information is still being withheld from the people of the United States. We can use this official pronouncement by the Unites States Senate to ask others to join us in calling for the release of all the documents – and analysis – performed during the investigations.

richard blumenthal portraitSenator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), right, notes in his comments from the floor that, "... 17 years after this national tragedy, the appropriate declassification – releasing these documents – poses no threat to our national security, and there is no reason for the Federal Government to resist their requests. These files have been kept secret for too long."

A companion resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives, H. Res. 663, has been referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform where it is awaiting action – action that an awakened citizenry can help bring about.In this election cycle, the people of the United States have the opportunity to ask all candidates for public office to firmly commit themselves to supporting these resolutions as well as additional legislation that wields the force of law into the process of declassifying 9/11 related documents.

Media News

jumpei yasuda japanese reporter

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), RSF relieved by Japanese reporter’s release after three years as hostage in Syria, Staff report, Oct. 24, 2018. RSF is relieved to learn that Japanese freelance journalist Jumpei Yasuda, shown above, has been released after being held hostage by an armed group in Syria for more than three years.

Yasuda began covering the Middle East in 2003 and was kidnapped for the first time in Iraq in 2004 when he was held hostage for three days. An armed Islamist group kidnapped him in Syria in June 2015, when he was investigating fellow Japanese journalist Kenji Goto’s murder by Islamic State.

​#MeToo Priest Probe

washington post logoWashington Post, Virginia attorney general launches investigation into Catholic clergy sex abuse, Michelle Boorstein and Laura Vozzella​, Oct. 24, 2018. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced Wednesday that his office is running an “ongoing investigation” into the state’s two Catholic dioceses and whether there has been any sexual abuse and coverup. The announcement comes a day after D.C.'s top prosecutor made a similar announcement.

In a late morning news conference, Herring said the probe was launched in response to a massive Pennsylvania grand jury report released this summer, and not with specific knowledge of unreported abuse or a coverup in Virginia. However, he told reporters, after reading the report: “Like so many Americans … I felt sick.”

Wife Accuses Nationalist In #MeToo Claim

washington post logoWashington Post, White nationalist Richard Spencer accused of physically abusing wife throughout their marriage, Eli Rosenberg, Oct. 24, 2018. White nationalist Richard Spencer’s wife, Nina Koupriianova, accused him of physically, emotionally and verbally abusing her over the course of their eight-year marriage, according to documents and exhibits filed in court as part of their divorce proceedings.

richard spencer CustomKoupriianova said the abuse, which she documented in the form of transcribed conversations, emails, photographs and even a chat with the National Domestic Violence Hotline, continued throughout the course of their eight-year marriage and included incidents that occurred while she was pregnant.

Spencer, right, is perhaps the most prominent white nationalist from the crop of racially motivated extremists who came into public view during the 2016 election and events such as the white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017. Often quick to return a reporter’s phone call or email, Spencer has been readily covered by the media as the public face of the loose collection of political ideologies revolving around racism, sexism, anti-Semitism and racial purity that make up the so-called alt-right.

Crime, Courts

The Hill, FBI arrests leader of neo-Nazi gang who fled to Central America, Avery Anapol, Oct. 24, 2018. The FBI has arrested a white nationalist figure who fled the U.S. earlier this month, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Authorities have charged 28-year-old Robert Paul Rundo with conspiracy to commit violence and incite riots, according to a criminal complaint.

Rundo is the leader of the Rise Above Movement, a violent neo-Nazi gang based in Southern California. Three other members of the group were also arrested and named in the filing, which was unsealed Tuesday.

Rundo fled the U.S. earlier this month for Mexico and then Central America, according to The New York Times. He was brought back to the U.S. on Monday, sources told the Times.

Members of the Rise Above Movement have been connected to violent acts and protests in California and elsewhere. According to the Department of Justice, the four attacked two journalists and a group of counter-protesters at President Trump's rally in Huntington Beach, Calif., last March.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘In the service of whim’: Officials scramble to make Trump’s false assertions real, Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker, Oct. 24, 2018 (print edition). From a nonexistent tax cut to unproven claims about a migrant caravan, the machinery of government whirs into action to reverse-engineer evidence for the president’s claims.

Oct. 23

Saudi Murder Most Foul

Moon of Alabama, Analysis: How Will Caligula Fall?, b, Oct. 23, 2018. The king and the clown prince [sic] of Saudi Arabia ordered a son of Jamal Khashoggi to appear in front of them so they could express their condolences for the murder of his father. This is an attempt by the King Salman to show that his son Mohammad bin Salman is innocent of ordering the premeditated murder of Khashoggi.

The audience for the pictures (and video) is the Saudi public, which seems unconvinced. But the act is also an insult, as Khashoggi's body has not been found and remains unburied.

The gaze is telling. Sahal Khashoggi is the oldest of the four children of Jamal. Three of them live in the United States. Sahal is banned from leaving Saudi Arabia. Alastair Crooke explains why the Khashoggi murder, while not unusual, has this large effect:

"When a single additional, undifferentiated, snowflake can touch off a huge slide whose mass is entirely disproportionate to the single grain that triggers it. Was Khashoggi’s killing just such a trigger? Quite possibly yes – because there are several unstable accumulations of political mass in the region where even a small event might set off a significant slide. These dynamics constitute a complex nexus of shifting dynamics."

Crooke sees three traditional strategic positions that already reached tipping points and are likely to change due to this event: the U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia, Turkey's role in the Middle East, and Israel's strategic defenses.

On the U.S.-Saudi relations side, it is likely Congress, not the White House that will push the issue. There will be another Senate vote next month to end U.S. complicity in the war on Yemen. It is now likely to pass.

Al Jazeera, Trump: Saudi handling of Khashoggi killing 'worst cover-up ever,' Staff report, Oct. 23, 2018. US President Donald Trump has criticised Saudi Arabia's handling of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying authorities staged the "worst cover-up ever."

Asked by a reporter in the White House how the Khashoggi killing could have happened, Trump said on Tuesday: "They had a very bad original concept. It was carried out poorly, and the cover-up was one of the worst in the history of cover-ups."

saudi consular service cropped

washington post logojamal khashoggi western suitWashington Post, Erdogan: Saudi team planned ‘brutal’ killing of Khashoggi, Kareem Fahim, Oct. 23, 2018. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, right, was a “planned” and “brutal” murder and called on Saudi Arabia to extradite 18 suspects to Turkey to face justice for the crime.

Erdogan’s highly anticipated comments, during a speech to his ruling party in Ankara, the Turkish capital, contradicted Saudi accounts that Khashoggi was killed when an argument inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul escalated into a fistfight.

recep tayyip erdogan mohommed bin salban july 2017 presidency press service pool via apThe Turkish leader, shown at right with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last year in a government photo, did not directly accuse the Saudi leadership of involvement in the killing but strongly indicated that the Saudi investigation, which has resulted in the arrests of 18 people so far, had not reached high enough into the kingdom’s ruling circles.

Erdogan did not address the most explosive allegations that have surfaced during the investigation — notably that Khashoggi was dismembered after he was killed. And he did not turkey flagpresent any of the evidence Turkey had gathered so far, including audio recordings investigators are said to possess that captured the moments when Khashoggi was killed.

But the president provided the most detailed timeline yet of the days and hours leading up the murder on Oct. 2. He said a team of Saudi agents who were dispatched to Istanbul had carefully prepared for Khashoggi’s death.

washington post logoWashington Post, Journalist’s slaying forces Saudi allies to take a more critical look at crown prince’s record, Kevin Sullivan, Oct. 23, 2018. The Khashoggi case has brought new attention to Mohammed bin Salman’s record of crushing dissent.

ny times logomohammad bin salman cropped fileNew York Times, Saudi Crown Prince Gets Standing Ovation Despite Khashoggi Crisis, Alan Rappeport, Oct. 23, 2018. Investors from around the world gathered in Riyadh for a conference, but the killing of Mr. Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia’s role in the murder loomed large. Bankers kept their name tags obscured behind ties. Many tried to keep a low profile and avoided talking to the news media.

But those hoping to escape any tarnish from attending Saudi Arabia’s global investment conference in the wake of a dissident journalist’s killing were foiled when the crown prince himself, Mohammed bin Salman (shown right in a file photo), appeared at the summit meeting and received a standing ovation.

The unannounced appearance of Prince Mohammed, who is suspected of playing a role in the killing of the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, highlighted the risk facing American businesses that chose to attend an event aimed at bringing together prominent global executives. The crown prince is now scheduled to participate in a panel discussion on Wednesday morning about building the region into a global economic powerhouse.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Far-Reaching Threats of a Conservative Court, Eric Posner (professor at the University of Chicago Law School), Oct. 23, 2018. Will the Supreme Court wipe out the government protections that have shielded Americans from abusive business practices since the New Deal?

With the start of the Supreme Court’s new term, many people are wondering whether the conservative majority, which has taken a further step to the right with the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh, will overturn Roe v. Wade.

But that’s not where the action is. As two cases argued before the court this month illustrate, the real question is whether it will undermine the system of government that has protected the public from abusive business practices since the New Deal.

The two cases might seem esoteric, and far removed from government protection of workers and consumers. Gundy v. United States involved a challenge to the attorney general’s extension of sex-crime-registration law to offenders convicted before the law was enacted. Nielsen v. Preap involved a government policy that deprived certain unauthorized immigrants of some procedural protections against deportation.

Liberals might root against the government — the immigration and sex offender policies are harsh. But they should be careful what they wish for. The conservative majority can, and most likely will, rule against the government using broad theories that would also eat away at the constitutional foundations of the New Deal system, which is essential for protecting health and safety, the environment and much else.

epa general logoSince the New Deal, Congress has authorized regulatory agencies to make policy by issuing regulations. These agencies are now a familiar part of our government. They include the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Labor Relations Board and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is currently aiding hurricane victims in Florida. Agency regulation became necessary as the problems of a modern industrialized nation overwhelmed the regulatory capacities of states, local governments and Congress itself.

The New Deal agencies initially encountered resistance from the Supreme Court, which was then, like now, a reactionary institution that frowned on novelty. For one thing, when agencies issue regulations, they make law, which was the traditional prerogative of Congress. Moreover, the agencies were mostly overseen by the White House, which is not supposed to make law. And Congress also gave many regulatory agencies some autonomy — protecting staff from removal, for example — that seemed to infringe on the president’s authority to supervise the executive branch.

By the 1980s, half a century after the New Deal, a political and legal consensus in favor of the administrative state had solidified. Left and right argued about how much regulation was needed, of course, but no one doubted the constitutional foundations of the administrative state — not even Justice Antonin Scalia, the leading conservative lawyer of the past half century and an academic expert on administrative law before he ascended to the bench.

But Brett Kavanaugh is a skeptic. And so are Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump’s first appointment to the Supreme Court, and Clarence Thomas, who was appointed back in 1991. The views of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito are less clear, but their judicial opinions point in the same direction.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Donald Trump Is Lyin’ Up a Storm, Editorial board, Oct. 23, 2018. Is there an election coming up, or something?

With Republicans struggling to keep their grip on Congress, President Trump is dialing up the demagogy. At campaign rallies and on social media, he’s spewing dark warnings about a Democratic mob clamoring to usher in an era of open borders, rampant crime, social chaos and economic radicalism.

As is so often the case, Mr. Trump is not letting reality interfere with his performance.

Supreme Court Pioneer

sandra day oconnor cspan 2012 screenshot

washington post logoWashington Post, Sandra Day O’Connor says she is withdrawing from public life because of dementia, Robert Barnes​, Oct. 23, 2018. The retired Supreme Court justice (shown in a 2012 C-SPAN screenshot0, who was the first woman to serve on the high court, wrote in a letter that she wanted to “be open about these changes, and while I am still able, share some personal thoughts.”

Retired Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who became the first female justice in 1981 and then one of the court’s most influential members, announced Tuesday that she suffers from dementia and is “no longer able to participate in public life.”

sandra day oconnor oIn a letter released by her family, O’Connor, 88, said she wanted to “be open about these changes, and while I am still able, share some personal thoughts.”

She added: “How fortunate I feel to be an American and to have been presented with the remarkable opportunities available to the citizens of our country. As a young cowgirl from the Arizona desert, I never could have imagined that one day I would become the first woman justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.”

O’Connor, shown at right in an official photo, was nominated to the court by President Ronald Reagan, who was fulfilling a campaign pledge to name the first female justice. She served for a quarter-century, leaving to take care of her husband, John, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

O’Connor, who was born in El Paso, Texas, lives near her home in Phoenix.

One of her last interviews was in 2016, after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. She said she did not agree with the strategy of Republican senators to keep the post open until after the presidential election.

DC Launches #MeToo Priest Probe

washington post logokarl racineWashington Post, D.C. attorney general launches investigation of clergy sex abuse in Washington archdiocese, Peter Jamison and Michelle Boorstein, Oct. 23, 2018.  D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine, right, said Tuesday that his office has begun an investigation of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in the archdiocese of Washington, the latest in a string of state-level law enforcement officials now looking into the Catholic Church’s handling of abuse complaints.

The investigation, announced by Racine at a regularly scheduled breakfast among the District’s elected officials, will bring scrutiny to Catholic leaders who have cardinal donald wuerl portrait fullcome under intense criticism in recent months.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, left, resigned this month as Washington’s archbishop amid an uproar over a Pennsylvania grand jury report that depicted systemic abuse across the state’s Catholic Church, including in Pittsburgh, where Wuerl had been a bishop. Wuerl’s D.C. predecessor, former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, was removed from ministry in June following allegations that he had sexually abused a teenager decades ago while serving as a priest in New York.

Racine has limited power to prosecute crimes in the District, where felony cases are handled by the U.S. attorney’s office. However, he is opening the investigation under his authority to enforce D.C. law governing nonprofit organizations, as well as District law regarding the mandated reporting of sexual abuse.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoDemocratic-Republican Campaign logosWashington Post, Poll: Democrats hold statistically insignificant lead in battleground House districts, Dan Balz and Scott Clement​, Oct. 23, 2018. A Washington Post-Schar School poll also found sharp divisions in views about sexual assault accusations after Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

The overwhelming majority of the districts surveyed — 63 of the 69 — are currently represented by a Republican in the House. Collectively these battleground districts voted strongly for Republicans in the 2016 election. The fact that the margins today are where they are illustrates the degree to which the GOP majority is at risk but also the fact that many individual races are likely to be close. Democrats need to gain a net of 23 seats to take control of the chamber.

washington post logowilbur ross headshot oWashington Post, Wilbur Ross won’t have to answer questions about adding a citizenship question to 2020 Census, Supreme Court says, Robert Barnes and Tara Bahrampour, Oct. 23, 2018 (print edition). The Trump administration had asked the high court to block questioning of the commerce secretary, right, as part of a lawsuit filed by several states, including New York, and civil rights groups.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Intensifies G.O.P. Effort to Use Race and Immigration to Sway Election, Alexander Burns and Astead W. Herndon, Oct. 23, 2018 (print edition). President Trump’s unsubstantiated charge about a migrant caravan was an escalation of messages aimed at stoking fears ahead of Nov. 6. He has not been alone in seeking to divide the electorate: A number of G.O.P. candidates are using a similar strategy.

ted cruz oPalmer Report, Opinion: Analysis Donald Trump and Ted Cruz rally lands with a thud, Bill Palmer, Oct. 23, 2018. It was supposed to have been the most newsworthy political rally of the entire 2018 election. Donald Trump was holding a campaign rally in support of his fellow Republican and fellow creepy weirdo Ted Cruz, right, after Trump had previously attacked Cruz’s wife and accused Cruz’s father of killing JFK. But the rally ended up being a whole lot of nothing, and no one seemed to care.

Trump White House

Las Vegas Sun via OpEdNews, Investigation of Inauguration Slush Fund: Where Did the Money Go? We Still Don't Know, Robert Weiner with Jared Schwartz, Oct. 23, 2018. There is no day that defines the institution of the Presidency more than the inauguration. From Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address to JFK's first, inauguration day is a celebration of peaceful transfer of power. Yet according to FEC filings and reporting by OpenSecrets, of the $106 million raised, more than double the amount by either of Obama's inaugurations, it is still almost entirely unclear how most was spent.

A presidency begun under dubious financial circumstances is an administration created in suspicion, and clearing that suspicion up is crucial to protecting the presidency. U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada) has introduced the Inaugural Committee Transparency Act in Congress, which would require a public record of where inaugural committee funds go. The Inaugural Committee Transparency Act is a logical, narrowly drawn bill to counteract any misuse of campaign funds.

This legislation would be a key step to make sure that presidential administrations are free from corruption at their outset. Greg Jenkins, who organized George W. Bush's inauguration, told Rolling Stone that "they had a third of the staff and a quarter of the events and they raise at least twice as much as we did. So there's the obvious question: Where did it go? I don't know."

The New York Times indicates that $25 million went to Hargrove Inc., a company that traditionally manages inaugurations. $26 million was paid to WIS Media, a firm owned by a friend of the First Lady, which was created six weeks before the inauguration. A little over $10 million went to three other event-planning companies, and $5 million went to charity, leaving a total of $40 million entirely unaccounted for.

Both the obvious ethical problems posed by giving $26 million to a family friend and the unaccounted millions demand congressional investigation and action. How can tens of millions of dollars go missing, right at the start of a presidency, and not trigger any congressional investigation?

These issues are being swept under the rug because congressional Republicans, who now run investigations, have neither the will nor, by choice, the independence from the administration, to do what a co-equal branch should do: investigate and legislate.

ny times logoNew York Times, When Kelly and Lewandowski Argued Outside the Oval Office, Maggie Haberman and Katie Rogers, Oct. 23, 2018 (print edition). A confrontation john kelly o dhslast year between the White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, right, and Corey Lewandowski, an informal adviser to President Trump, turned physical.

Climate Change / Supreme Court

ny times logoNew York Times, Young People Are Suing the Trump Administration Over Climate Change. She’s Their Lawyer, John Schwartz, Oct. 23, 2018. If all goes as planned, Julia Olson will deliver her opening argument on Monday in a landmark federal lawsuit against the Trump administration on behalf of 21 plaintiffs, ages 11 to 22, who are demanding that the government fight climate change. It is a case that could test whether the judicial branch has major role to play in dealing with global warming, and whether there is a constitutional right to a stable and safe climate.

But as of now, less than a week before the trial is scheduled to start in Federal District Court in Eugene, whether the young people will get their day in court is still an open question. On Friday, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. granted a Trump administration request to put a brief hold on the proceedings to consider government filings that could derail the case.

The lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, is the most visible case for Ms. Olson and her nonprofit organization, Our Children’s Trust. The group is involved in similar legal actions in almost every state, and other climate suits around the world.

Wall Street Political Corruption Scandal?

david sirotaGuardian, Investigation: How California public employees fund anti-rent control fight unwittingly, David Sirota, right, and Andrew Perez, Oct. 23, 2018. Documents reveal Blackstone is quietly funneling investors’ money into its campaign against Proposition 10.

When San Francisco’s local government endorsed a state ballot initiative to permit rent control measures earlier this month, it appeared to be a victory for housing rights advocates in a city where stratospheric prices have sown social unrest and class animosity. The measure has found similar support from other California cities and unions representing public employees who can’t afford to live in cities where they work.

Those advocates, however, may be unwittingly financing the opposition to the rent control measure. Documents reviewed by Capital and Main and MapLight reveal a private equity giant with ties to Donald Trump has boosted the campaign to defeat Proposition 10 with money taken from real estate investments funded by California public employees and the state university system.Advertisement

Campaign finance records show entities controlled by the private equity giant Blackstone have been among the biggest sources of cash for opponents of the ballot measure. More than $5.6m has come from a Blackstone holding company and four of its investment funds.

But unlike typical corporate political donations, the Blackstone contributions didn’t come from the firm’s executives or corporate treasury. Instead, they came from pools of capital from investors, which include dozens of state and local pension systems, and public university endowments. The move has been described as the equivalent of mutual fund executives taking money out of customers’ accounts to make political contributions.

In effect, Blackstone’s maneuver means the opposition to the rent control initiative is being bankrolled by everyone from San Francisco municipal workers to university employees to public school teachers – all of whose retirement savings are in the Blackstone funds that have been tapped for the Proposition 10 fight.

#MeToo Fallout

ny times logoNew York Times, #MeToo Brought Down 201 Powerful Men. Women Are Nearly Half of Their Replacements, Audrey Carlsen, Maya Salam, Claire Cain Miller, Denise Lu, Ash Ngu, Jugal K. Patel And Zach Wichter, Oct. 23, 2018. A New York Times analysis shows that the #MeToo movement shook, and is still shaking, power structures in society’s most visible sectors. In the year preceding the Weinstein report, fewer than 30 high-profile people made the news for resigning or being fired after public accusations of sexual misconduct.

Global Economy

ny times logoNew York Times, China Opens Giant Bridge Linking Hong Kong, Macau and Mainland, Austin Ramzy, Oct. 23, 2018. At 34 miles, it’s the world’s longest sea bridge, crossing the Pearl River Delta with sections of bridge, artificial islands and a four-mile tunnel. Critics of the project say its goals are more political than economic, aiding efforts by China’s central government to bind the former colonies of Hong Kong and Macau more tightly with the rest of the country.

Other Threatened Journalists

National Press Club, Award-Winning Journalist To Judge Who Denied Him Asylum: "I Must Implore You For My Life," Lindsay Underwood, Oct. 23, 2018. After eight hours of waiting outside an immigration courtroom, journalist Emilio Gutiérrez-Soto on Monday had an opportunity to make a personal appeal to the judge who last year ordered him deported to the country where he has been threatened with death. The hearing was delayed when Gutiérrez's attorney discovered that the judge had not read or seen crucial evidence on the journalist's behalf.

"I must implore you for my life," Gutiérrez told Judge Robert Hough, adding that he was also appealing for his son, Oscar, who fled to the United States as a teenager with his father after the veteran Mexican journalist's exposés of military corruption made him the target of death threats.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Brazil: Newspaper attacked after reporting illegal funding that benefited presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, Staff report, Oct. 23, 2018.  One of jair bolsonaro brazilBrazil’s leading dailies, the Folha de São Paulo, has been under heavy attack since reporting on October 18 that far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro benefited from illegal funding. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) regards the attacks as a serious press freedom violation and deplores the toxic climate for Brazil’s journalists since the election campaign began.

The October 18 article in the Folha de São Paulo claimed that businessmen have been illegally funding a WhatsApp disinformation campaign designed to get Brazilians to vote for Bolsonaro, right, in the presidential election, the second round of which is to be held on October 28.

According to the report, WhatsApp has been used to bombard voters with millions of automated messages, most of them smearing the Workers’ Party and its candidate, Fernando Haddad. Such private sector funding of an election campaign is illegal in Brazil and the country’s electoral tribunal, the TSE, has opened an investigation.

WhatsApp, which had already used spam detection software to delete thousands of accounts suspected of spreading false information during the campaign, announced that it had launched an internal investigation and was ready to take “all necessary legal measures” to prevent the automated spread of misinformation.
Dubbed “Bolsonaro’s No. 2 account,” the affair has had a big impact in Brazil, angering Bolsonaro and his supporters. “The Folha de São Paulois Brazil’s biggest fake news source,” the candidate said in a video sent to his supporters on October 22. Addressing the newspaper, he added: “You won’t get any more government advertising if I’m elected (...) Venal press, my condolences.”

Patrícia Campos Mello, the veteran Folha de São Paulo reporter who wrote the story, has been attacked and threatened on social networks by Bolsonaro’s supporters and forced to block public access to her Twitter account. She also received anonymous calls threatening her and her family.

Oct. 23

philip giraldiThe Unz Review, Opinion: The White Helmets Ride Again, Philip Giraldi, Oct. 23, 2018. Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., shown at right below, is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

I am often asked to explain why countries like Iran appear to be so aggressive, involving themselves in foreign wars and seeking to create alliances that they know will provoke the worst and most paranoid responses from some of their neighbors.

My response is invariably that perceptions of threat depend very much on which side of the fence you are standing on. Saudi Arabia and Israel might well perceive Iranian actions as aggressive given the fact that all three countries are competing for dominance in the same region, but Iran, which is surrounded by powerful enemies, could equally explain its activity as defensive, seeking to create a belt of allies that can be called upon if needed if a real shooting war breaks out.

The United States and Israel are, of course, masters at seeing everything as a threat, justifying doing whatever is deemed necessary to defend against what are perceived to be enemies. They even exercise extraterritoriality, with Washington claiming a right to go after certain categories of “terrorists” in countries with which it is not at war, most particularly Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. Israel does likewise in its attacks on Lebanon and Syria. Both Tel Aviv and Washington have regularly crossed the line drawn by international legal authorities in terms of what constitutes initiating a “just” or “legal” war, i.e. an imminent threat to use force by a hostile power. Neither Israel nor the United States has really been threatened by an enemy or enemies in the past seventy years, so the definition of threat has been expanded to include after-the-fact as with 9/11 and potential as in the case of Israel and Iran.

The “which side of the fence” formulation has also had some interesting spin-offs in terms of how so-called non-state players that use violence are perceived and portrayed. Nearly all widely accepted definitions of terrorism include language that condemns the “use of politically motivated violence against non-combatants to provoke a state of terror.”

syrian white helmetsThere are two notable groups that should be universally condemned as terrorists but are not for political reasons. They are the Mujaheddin e Khalq (MEK), Iranian dissidents that are based in Paris and Washington, and the so-called White Helmets who have been active in Syria. MEK is particularly liked by Israel and its friends inside the Beltway because it retains resources inside Iran that enable it to carry out assassinations and sabotage, and if it is only Iranians that are dying, that’s okay.

Perhaps the most serious charge against the White Helmets consists of the evidence that they actively participated in the atrocities, to include torture and murder, carried out by their al-Nusra hosts. There have been numerous photos of the White Helmets operating directly with armed terrorists and also celebrating over the bodies of execution victims and murdered Iraqi soldiers. The group’s jihadi associates regard the White Helmets as fellow “mujahideen” and “soldiers of the revolution.”

So, the National Holocaust Museum, which is taxpayer funded, has given an apparently prestigious award to a terrorist group, something which could have been discerned with even a little fact checking.

Oct. 22

Saudi Killing

ny times logoNew York Times, Turkey’s President Vows to Detail Khashoggi Death ‘in Full Nakedness,’ David D. Kirkpatrick, Oct. 22, 2018 (print edition). Turkish officials have been leaking lurid details for weeks about the assassination and reported dismemberment of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashogg in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

recep erdogan with flagBut President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, keen to maintain good relations with Saudi Arabia, has until now mostly held his tongue.

turkey flagOn Sunday, Mr. Erdogan broke his silence, promising that within 48 hours he would remove the lid completely from what his spokesmen are now calling a Saudi cover-up. “We will reveal it,” he said in a televised speech. “It will be revealed in full nakedness.”

With international outrage at Mr. Khashoggi’s killing increasingly focused on the potential culpability of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Mr. Erdogan appears to sense an opportunity.

washington post logoWashington Post, Germany halts arms deals with Saudi Arabia, encourages allies to do the same, Rick Noack, Oct. 22, 2018. "Arms exports can’t take place in the current circumstances," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday.

washington post logogina haspel screenshotWashington Post, CIA director flies to Turkey amid controversy over Khashoggi killing, John Hudson, Shane Harris and Josh Dawsey​, Oct. 22, 2018. CIA Director Gina Haspel, right, departed for Turkey on Monday amid a growing international uproar over Saudi Arabia’s explanation of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to people familiar with the matter.

Intelligence officials are increasingly skeptical of the Saudi account and have warned President Trump that the idea that rogue operators flew to Istanbul and killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi without the knowledge or consent of Saudi leaders is dubious, a White House official said.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: Arms and the Very Bad Men, Paul Krugman, right, Oct. 22, 2018. Trump’s rationale for going easy on Saudi Arabia is a shameful lie. A few days ago, Pat Robertson, the evangelical leader, urged America not to get too worked up about the torture and murder of Jamal Khashoggi, because we shouldn’t endanger “$100 billion in arms sales.” I guess he was invoking the little-known 11th Commandment, which says, “On the other hand, thou shalt excuse stuff like killing and bearing false witness if weapons deals are at stake.”

O.K., it’s not news that the religious right has prostrated itself at Donald Trump’s feet. But Trump’s attempt to head off retaliation for Saudi crimes by claiming that there are big economic rewards to staying friendly with killers — and the willingness of his political allies to embrace his logic — nonetheless represents a new stage in the debasement of America.

Saudi Clout In DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside the Saudis’ Washington influence machine: How the kingdom gained power through fierce lobbying and charm offensives, Tom Hamburger, Beth Reinhard and Justin Wm. Moyer, Oct. 22, 2018 (print edition).  In 2017, Saudi payments to lobbyists and consultants in Washington more than tripled over the previous year, public filings show.

The strength of the Saudi operation is now being tested amid a global condemnation of the killing of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi earlier this month in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul — a death the kingdom belatedly acknowledged last week.

More on Saudi Murder Most Foul

saudi consular service cropped

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Khashoggi Drama - A Deal Is No Longer Possible -- Erdogan Demands That MbS Goes, Staff report, Oct. 22, 2018. The Khashoggi saga continues to influence Middle East policies. On Friday, the Saudi regime admitted that Khashoggi was killed in its consulate in Istanbul. Since then they have changed their story twice.

Mohammad bin Salman, the Saudi clown prince and effective ruler, does not seem to have any good media advisors. By not sticking to one story, all further Saudi accounts will immediately come into doubt.

The Saudis originally claimed that Khashoggi had left the consulate. We now know why they felt safe to make that claim. CNN has a new Turkish story of a decoy which was send out to make it look as if Khashoggi left. They provide pictures to prove it. While Khashoggi was half bald, the decoy in Khashoggi's cloth[ing] seems to have full hair.

Khashoggi was a personal friend of Erdogan. He was a columnist at the Washington Post, the CIA's most favored news outlet. Mohammad bin Salman is an enemy of both. Neither the neocon opinion editor of the Post, Fred Hiatt, nor Erdogan have any love for the Saudi clown prince. They would of course raise a ruckus when given such a chance.

They will pile on and air the Saudi's dirty linen until MbS is gone. Years of lobbying and tens of millions of dollars to push pro-Saudi propaganda have now gone to waste.

The affair is damaging to Trump. He built his Middle East policy on his relations with Saudi Arabia. But he can not avoid the issue and has to call out MbS over the killing.

Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed is Mohammad bin Salman's mentor and partner in crime in Yemen. MbZ is smarter than MbS -- and will be more difficult to dislodge.

The Riyadh administration must dethrone Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at once. It has no other choice. Otherwise, it is going to pay very heavy prices. If they fail to quash the trap set up targeting Saudi Arabia through bin Zayed, they will be victims of Trump’s “You won’t last two weeks” statement, and the process is going to start to work in that direction.    ...    This duo must be taken out of the entire region and neutralized. Otherwise they are going to throw the region in fire.

jamal khashoggi mustafa al madani

Palmer Report, Opinion: Why it’s so important that Jamal Khashoggi’s body double had a fake beard, Bill Palmer, Oct. 22, 2018. So much for the Saudi Arabian government’s latest claim that it didn’t intend to kill Jamal Khashoggi, and his death just sort of happened. That claim – that nothing was premeditated and that things got out of hand when a fistfight broke out – wasn’t exactly going over well to begin with. But now video footage reveals that so much planning went into Khashoggi’s murder, the Saudis even invoked a body double with a fake beard.

After the Saudis murdered Jamal Khashoggi inside their consulate in Turkey, they tried to fool the Turkish government by sending a body double out the front door disguised as Khashoggi. They went so far as to dress the guy in Khashoggi’s clothes and glasses, but screwed up by failing to have him wear Khashoggi’s shoes – and everyone spotted it after CNN aired the footage today. Okay, so they’re not very good at this – but where did they get the fake beard?

Do foreign consulates normally keep fake beards lying around, just in case the need arises? The fact that the Saudis had this on hand, and that it just happened to match Jamal Khashoggi’s thick goatee, strongly suggests that this was indeed premeditated. They wouldn’t have had the beard on hand unless they were planning to impersonate Khashoggi – and they would only have needed to do that if they were planning to kidnap or kill him.

Not only is this sounding more premeditated all the time, it’s sounding more and more like the kind of sophisticated plan that these Saudi government henchmen wouldn’t have even tried to pull off unless they had the approval of the Crown Prince. This just keeps getting more horrific.

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker: Trump’s claim of jobs from Saudi deals grows by leaps and bounds, Glenn Kessler, Oct. 22, 2018. President Trump is not very precise with numbers, but this is getting ridiculous. He gets citing U.S. jobs supposedly at risk if arms sales are cut off with Saudi Arabia after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But not only has the purported number of jobs from a highly tentative arms deal with the Saudis kept climbing day after day, but in the course of few minutes, he appeared to go from 600,000 jobs to 1 million.

“It’s $110 billion. I believe it’s the largest order ever made. It’s 450,000 jobs. It’s the best equipment in the world.”

— President Trump, in remarks to reporters, Oct. 13, 2018

“So now if you’re talking about — that was $110 billion — you know, you’re talking about over a million jobs. You know, I’d rather keep the million jobs, and I’d rather find another solution.”

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump withdraws U.S. from third-oldest international organization, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 22, 2018. The neocon foreign policy of Donald Trump took a drastic turn toward greater international isolation for the United States when the White House announced the American withdrawal from the 144-year old Universal Postal Union (UPU), the world's third-oldest international organization.

Video Shows Syrian Rebel Killing Sister

SouthFront, Turkish-backed 'Moderate Rebel' Executes Own Sister After Finding Out Her Unmarried Affair, Staff report from social media, Oct. 21, 2018 (graphic video, 58 secs.). A member of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) executed his own sister because she had allegedly had an unmarried affair with a Turksih officer in the Syrian city of Jarabulus, according to a video released by the pro-Turkish Syrian news agency STEP NEWS.

This incident once again revealed that real face of the so-called “democratic opposition” to the “bloody Assa regime” in Syria. Such incidents are not something uncommon for the “rebel-held” areas in northwestern Syria. However, they are often ignored by the mainstream media because they are in contrary to the maisntream narrative on the conflict.

Last time, such thing gained a wide media attention during the Aleppo battle in 2016 when Nour al-Din al-Zenki, which had received TOW missiles from the US, filmed an execution of the young boy accused of being a pro-Assad spy. Currently, Nour al-Din al-Zenki is operating in northwestern Syria as a part of the Turkish-backed “opposition force.”

U.S. Politics

Democratic-Republican Campaign logos

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s comfort zone this year: Smaller venues and rapturous fans in places where he remains popular, Jenna Johnson, Oct. 22, 2018. The president has mostly stayed away from the suburban battlegrounds that will determine control of Congress in November.

washington post logodemocratic donkey logoWashington Post, Generic Democrats in Midwest faring better than more fiery liberals in Sun Belt, James Hohmann, Oct. 22, 2018. Michigan governor’s race shows the left’s willingness to rally behind anyone with a “D” after their name in 2018.

washington post logoWashington Post, Rep. Dave Brat, an economist, borrowed heavily from former Fed chief in academic paper, Laura Vozzella, Oct. 22, 2018. Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va) often touts his status as the “only PhD economist in Congress” to suggest he has special insight into the nation’s economy.

republican elephant logoBut his academic background is under scrutiny amid revelations that a paper he wrote as a Randolph-Macon College professor borrowed heavily — and exactly — from one co-authored by former Fed chief Ben Bernanke.

Brat’s paper was a critique of Bernanke’s, so he quoted from the original piece. But instead of summarizing Bernanke’s writing in his own words, or using quotation marks to quote him directly, Brat simply seemed to cut and paste.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Obamacare has finally won, Paul Waldman, Oct. 22, 2018. The political tide has emphatically turned. 

A full eight years after it became law, and almost two years after Barack Obama left office, Obamacare is finally winning. Because the law is so complex, judging its substantive success is complex, too.

It brought coverage to tens of millions of Americans, for instance, though large gaps remain. But as a political matter, what for so long was a problem for Democrats has become a problem for Republicans.

washington post logoWashington Post, As Trump administration eyes writing transgender people ‘out of existence,’ a reckoning for a transgender Republican, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Oct. 22, 2018. Jordan Evans, believed to be the lone openly transgender elected Republican, said she was "distraught" over news that the Trump administration might seek to define transgender people out of existence.

Environment: U.S. Gulf

washington post logoWashington Post, A 14-year-long oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico verges on becoming one of the worst in U.S. history, Darryl Fears, Oct. 22, 2018. For years, Taylor Energy and federal officials had kept quiet about it.

Media News

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: Arms and the Very Bad Men, Paul Krugman, right, Oct. 22, 2018. Trump’s rationale for going easy on Saudi Arabia is a shameful lie. A few days ago, Pat Robertson, the evangelical leader, urged America not to get too worked up about the torture and murder of Jamal Khashoggi, because we shouldn’t endanger “$100 billion in arms sales.” I guess he was invoking the little-known 11th Commandment, which says, “On the other hand, thou shalt excuse stuff like killing and bearing false witness if weapons deals are at stake.”

O.K., it’s not news that the religious right has prostrated itself at Donald Trump’s feet. But Trump’s attempt to head off retaliation for Saudi crimes by claiming that there are big economic rewards to staying friendly with killers — and the willingness of his political allies to embrace his logic — nonetheless represents a new stage in the debasement of America.

Press Freedom / Libel Law

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: Revenge of the Right-Wing Snowflakes, Michelle Goldberg, Oct. 22, 2018. Angry men go to court to silence their critics. One minor sordid subplot of the Trump era has been the ugly custody battle between Jason Miller, senior communications adviser on Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, and A.J. Delgado, a former Trump campaign surrogate.

jason miller aj delgadoMiller and Delgado (shown at left) started an affair during the presidential race; Delgado became pregnant while Miller’s wife was pregnant as well. Now Miller and Delgado are involved in a vicious custody battle over their son, which Delgado chronicles on her Twitter feed.

For all its squalor, this is a story of public interest. It’s reportedly the reason Miller didn’t become White House communications director, instead signing on to defend Trump as a CNN contributor.

So it was news when Delgado claimed, in a court filing, that Miller had made a previous girlfriend pregnant and then put abortion-inducing medication in her smoothie. In September the website Splinter, part of Gizmodo Media, reported on the filing, noting that Miller denied the allegations.

In response, Miller made an aggressive legal move that’s becoming more common on the right, suing the report’s author, Katherine Krueger, and Gizmodo Media for $100 million. When Krueger’s boyfriend, a co-host of the cult left-wing podcast Chapo Trap House, called Miller a “rat-faced baby killer” in a tweet, Miller added him to the suit.

There is an air of dark absurdity about this saga. Miller is unlikely to prevail, because there are broad protections for journalists to report on claims made in legal filings, whether or not they are true. But it’s still worth taking seriously, because it’s part of a mounting conservative assault on free speech.

Mueller Probe

washington post logorobert mueller full face fileWashington Post, Mueller examines conflicting accounts as scrutiny of Roger Stone and WikiLeaks deepens, Carol D. Leonnig, Manuel Roig-Franzia and Rosalind S. Helderman, Oct. 22, 2018 (print edition). Investigators are poring over the Trump adviser’s public comments and alleged private assertions that he made in 2016 suggesting he had a way to reach WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, people familiar with the probe said.

While outwardly quiet for the last month, Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators have been aggressively pursuing leads behind the scenes about whether Stone was in communication with the online group, whose disclosures of emails believed to have been hacked by Russian operatives disrupted the 2016 presidential campaign, according to people familiar with the special counsel probe.

Stone, who boasted during the race that he was in touch with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, has said since that his past comments were exaggerated or misunderstood. Both he and WikiLeaks have adamantly denied they were in contact.

Trump On Migration

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Plans to Deter Migrants Could Mean New ‘Voluntary’ Family Separations, Miriam Jordan, Caitlin Dickerson and Michael D. Shear, Oct. 22, 2018.
Facing a surge in migrant families entering the United States and with the midterm elections two weeks away, the Trump administration is weighing an array of new policies that it hopes will deter Central Americans from journeying north.

Each of the policies, which range from a new form of the widely criticized practice of family separation to stricter requirements on asylum, would face significant legal and logistical challenges. But the White House is applying strong pressure on federal immigration authorities to come up with a solution to secure the southwest border.

The Border Patrol apprehended 16,658 people in family units in September — a record figure, according to unpublished government data obtained by The New York Times. The total number of families that entered the country in the 2018 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, exceeded 100,000 for the first time in recent history.

Scammers Hit DC

washington post logoWashington Post, D.C. wired nearly $700,000 to scammers posing as city vendor, officials say, Peter Jamison, Oct. 22, 2018. The hacker created a bogus email address by altering a single letter in the domain name of a construction firm working on a facility for the homeless. Federal authorities are investigating, and additional security precautions are being taken.

Oct. 21

caravan mexico file photo

ny times logoNew York Times, Migrant Caravan Continues North, Defying Mexico and U.S., Maya Averbuch and Kirk Semple, Oct. 21, 2018 (print edition). In open defiance of the Mexican and American governments, thousands of Central American undocumented migrants, most of a caravan that has been heading toward the United States for more than a week, resumed their journey on Sunday in southern Mexico. Some are shown above in a file photo.

mexico flag1The Mexican government, which has been under pressure by President Trump to stop the group of thousands of migrants from Central America, had ordered them to submit to processing.

But thousands chose instead to move on — part of a group of people who had been stopped at the Mexican border this week after having traveled for several days, most from their homes in Honduras.

American Thinker, Migrant Caravan Points Way to GOP Midterm Success, Brian C. Joondeph, Oct. 22, 2018.  Caravan refers to, “A group of travelers, as merchants or pilgrims, journeying together for safety in passing through deserts or hostile territory.” Conjuring up images dating back to biblical days of people braving hardship during their travels, the media has coopted the term for political benefit to describe a horde of illegal immigrants heading to the U.S. just ahead of a major election.

They are neither merchants nor pilgrims. I doubt they are facing severe hardship during their journey as most of their basic needs are being met courtesy of wealthy benefactors.

The current caravan is a group of four- to seven-thousand Hondurans, traveling from Honduras to the United States. Google Maps shows the distance between San Pedro Sula, the large city in Honduras where the march started, and Brownsville, Texas, the most logical border city, as about 1,408 miles, a 500-hour trek on foot.

Fox News screenshot

Assuming generously that the caravan walks 10 hours a day, it will take the group 46 days to reach the U.S., long after the upcoming midterm election. It’s also safe to assume that they are riding most of the way, on trucks or busses.

Interestingly, the caravan consists primarily of military-aged men, as opposed to women and children, as this photo from the Daily Mail demonstrates. Women and children are few, and mainly being used as photo props. The migrant hordes entering Europe from the Middle East were also primarily young men.

What the media is surprisingly incurious about is who is paying for this journey. Thousands of adults and children on a 45-day trek, need food, water, bathroom facilities, first aid, and other services that all cost money. The New York Times was all over the false story of United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley ordering extravagant new drapes, but they are uninterested in funding of this enormously costly caravan.

Withdraw From Nuclear Deal

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP lawmakers criticize Trump’s decision to withdraw from nuclear arms treaty, Karoun Demirjian, Oct. 21, 2018. President Trump’s weekend announcement that he would pull the United States out of a nuclear arms control treaty alarmed members of his own party, who criticized the decision and worried that other international pacts to control proliferation of the world’s most dangerous weapons also might be upended.

bob corker closeup“I hope we’re not moving down the path to undo much of the nuclear arms control treaties that we have put in place,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” noting that he had heard that the Trump administration wanted to pull out of not only the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty but also New START.

republican elephant logo“I think that would be a huge mistake,” said Corker, shown at rightin a file photo.

Trump told reporters Saturday night that his administration would “terminate” and “pull out” of the INF Treaty, a strategic arms reduction pact that President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev struck in 1987. Russia has long been accused of violating the treaty, prompting calls from some defense hawks in the United States to end U.S. participation. Many also argue that the treaty is obsolete because it doesn’t restrict China’s nuclear arsenal.

Gender Justice

ny times logoNew York Times,Transgender’ Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump Administration, Erica L. Green, Katie Benner and Robert Pear, Oct. 21, 2018. The Trump administration is considering a legal definition of gender as immutable and fixed at birth, the most drastic in a series of moves against transgender people.

The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a governmentwide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.

A series of decisions by the Obama administration loosened the legal concept of gender in federal programs, including in education and health care, recognizing gender largely as an individual’s choice and not determined by the sex assigned at birth. The policy prompted fights over bathrooms, dormitories, single-sex programs and other arenas where gender was once seen as a simple concept. Conservatives, especially evangelical Christians, were incensed.

Now the Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times.

Oct. 20

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: America’s Elections Could Be Hacked. Go Vote Anyway, Editorial Board, Oct. 19, 2018 (print edition). The system’s vulnerabilities are real, but please do not stay home. Will November’s election be hacked? A quick sampling of news stories over the past couple of years offers little comfort.

In the months before the 2016 presidential election, Russian hackers tried to infiltrate voting systems in dozens of states. They succeeded in at least one, gaining access to tens of thousands of voter-registration records in Illinois.

ron wydenIn April, the nation’s top voting-machine manufacturer told Senator Ron Wyden, of Oregon, right, that it had installed remote-access software on election-management systems that it sold from 2000 to 2006. Senator Wyden called it “the worst decision for security short of leaving ballot boxes on a Moscow street corner.”

At a hacking convention last summer, an 11-year-old boy broke into a replica of Florida’s state election website and altered the vote totals recorded there. It took him less than 10 minutes.

WhoWhatWhy, Understanding the Devastating Impact of Shelby County v. Holder, Staff report, Oct. 20, 2018. In 2013, the US Supreme Court delivered a devastating whowhatwhy logodecision that would lead to a host of state voter suppression law, with which Americans continue to struggle today as they head to the polls.

'Since the Supreme Court struck down section 4 of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 with the Shelby County v. Holder decision, state lawmakers have been stacking the deck against minority voters.

Chief Justice John Roberts said of the ruling that “the conditions that originally justified these measures no longer characterize voting in the covered jurisdictions.”

Well, guess what — they’re back. And much of the US was not paying attention when states with a history of racist election laws passed bill after bill that made it more difficult for some Americans — usually people of color and demographics most likely to support Democrats — to vote.

WhoWhatWhy is doing its utmost to shine a light on these shady discriminatory actions: the shuttering of polling stations, reduction of early voter opportunities, and the introduction of voter ID requirements.

The Atlantic, Letter to the Editor Opinion: Gary Hart Was Not Set Up, James Savage, Oct. 20, 2018. A journalist who reported on Gary Hart’s downfall in 1987 pushes back on the notion that the candidate’s Monkey Business incident may have been staged.

I was the Miami Herald’s investigations editor who helped report and edit the 1987 stories that uncovered Gary Hart’s relationship with Donna Rice and prompted him to quit his presidential campaign.

I believe from my personal knowledge of the facts that The Atlantic’s article contains serious factual errors.

The article’s conspiracy theory suggests that William Broadhurst deliberately maneuvered Hart into potentially damaging press exposure by arranging for him to spend time on the yacht Monkey Business and have his picture taken with Donna Rice sitting on his lap.

The truth is the late Mr. Broadhurst did everything short of violence trying to prevent the Herald’s investigations team from publishing the first story about the scandal.

I believe the Atlantic story also implies that Donna Rice was somehow involved in a conspiracy to embarrass Hart. I am convinced from my firsthand knowledge of how the Herald learned about Hart’s plan to meet with Ms. Rice that she did not have any involvement in any plan to embarrass Hart.

Atlantic author James Fallows replies: The details of the Miami Herald’s handling of the Gary Hart–Donna Rice case were explicitly not the topic of my article. The literature on the topic is too vast and contradictory to set out, even in a magazine article many times longer than the one I wrote.....what the Herald did was not the topic I was discussing. The news my article conveyed is what might have happened before anyone at any newspaper got involved.

See also: People, 31 Years After Gary Hart Sex Scandal, Donna Rice Hughes Can Feel PTSD from Old Media Firestorm, Sandra Sobieraj Westfall, Oct. 31, 2018.

Oct. 19

Business Insider, The Interpol chief who vanished in China is feared dead after even his wife hasn't heard from him in weeks, Alexandra Ma, Oct. 19, 2018. The Interpol president who vanished in China last month is likely dead under Beijing's watch, his wife has said.

Meng Hongwei, a Chinese national who previously worked in the country's security services, disappeared after traveling to his native country on September 29. His wife Grace, with whom he lives in France, said she had not heard from her husband since then. And she's not hopeful about his fate.

She told the BBC on Friday: "I think it is political persecution. I'm not sure he's alive. They are cruel. They are dirty," she added, referring to Chinese tactics to silence people.

Oct. 18

YeniSafak, One of 15 Saudis that targeted Khashoggi dies in suspicious car accident, Staff report, Oct. 18, 2018. Claims are circulating that Meshal Saad M. Albostani, who visited the consulate while Khashoggi was still inside, could have been silenced.

Meshal Saad M. Albostani, one of the 15 suspects who were inside the Saudi consulate when missing journalist Jamaal Khashoggi entered, has died in a suspicious traffic accident. Claims are circulating that Albostani, who is a lieutenant of the Saudi Royal Air Forces, could have been silenced. There is no information about the details of the accident that left Albostani dead.

Oct. 17

Media News

Brookings Institution, Book Launch: "Enemy of the people:" A book discussion with Marvin Kalb and Dan Rather, Oct. 17, 2018. The American press has long been an institution seeking to uphold the integrity of our democracy. Past presidential administrations may have criticized the media at times, but the Trump administration has elevated such attacks to unprecedented levels, declaring the press as being an “enemy of the American people.”

As President Trump fuels the “fake news” fire and a general distrust of journalists, the power of the press is weakening in some segments of society. In his new book, “Enemy of the People,” award-winning journalist and warns that this trend poses serious threats to the health of our democracy.

On Wednesday, Oct. 17, Kalb debuted his book at Brookings and was joined by veteran journalist Dan Rather for a discussion about its main themes. The two journalists explored how Trump has delegitimized the American press and why we should fear for the future of American democracy.

Editor's Note: Audience member Karl Golovin, a retired special agent of the U.S. Customs Service and 9/11 responder in 2001, asked Kalb and Rather during Q&A to address the lack of news coverage regarding how World Trade Center Building 7 could possibly have collapsed at near free-fall speeds more than seven hours after two other Trade Center buildings had collapsed and without being hit by an airplane. They ducked his question, which he he posed during a segment beginning at the 30:57 minute-mark on the video here.

 Oct. 16

U.S. Politics

gary hart donna rice monkey business

Model Donna Rice and 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart, a Colorado senator taking a cruise on a yacht named Monkey Business.The photo, allegedly a political dirty trick set up against Hart, was taken during the campaign by Rice's friend Lynn Armandt and provided to the news media

The Atlantic, Was Gary Hart Set Up? James Fallows, Oct. 16, 2018. November 2018 issue, What are we to make of the deathbed confession of the political operative Lee Atwater, newly revealed, that he staged the events that brought down the Democratic candidate in 1987?

In the spring of 1990, after he had helped the first George Bush reach the presidency, the political consultant Lee Atwater learned that he was dying. Atwater, who had just turned 39 and was the head of the Republican National Committee, had suffered a seizure while at a political fund-raising breakfast and had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. In a year he was dead.

Atwater put some of that year to use making amends. Throughout his meteoric political rise he had been known for both his effectiveness and his brutality. And in a private act of repentance that has remained private for nearly three decades, he told Raymond Strother that he was sorry for how he had torpedoed Gary Hart’s chances of becoming president.

“There were a lot of people on the dock, people getting off their boats and wandering up and down on the wharf,” [Gary] Hart told me. “While I was waiting for Broadhurst and whatever he was working out with the customs people, I sat on this little piling on the pier.”

donna rice hughes Hart said that Donna Rice’s friend and companion on the boat, Lynn Armandt, was standing a short distance away. “Miss Armandt made a gesture to Miss Rice, and she immediately came over and sat on my lap. Miss Armandt took the picture. The whole thing took less than five seconds, with lots of other people around. It was clearly staged, but it was used after the fact to prove that some intimacy existed.”

What are we to make of Strother’s late-in-life revelation of Atwater’s deathbed confession?

See also: People, 31 Years After Gary Hart Sex Scandal, Donna Rice Hughes Can Feel PTSD from Old Media Firestorm, Sandra Sobieraj Westfall, Oct. 31, 2018.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: What if the Republicans Win Everything Again? David Leonhardt, Oct. 19, 2018. The end of Robert Mueller’s investigation. The loss of health insurance for several million people. New laws that make it harder to vote. More tax cuts for the rich. More damage to the environment. A Republican Party molded even more in the image of President Trump.

These are among the plausible consequences if the Republicans sweep the midterm elections and keep control of both the House and Senate. And don’t fool yourself. That outcome, although not the most likely one, remains possible. The last couple of weeks of polling have shown how it could happen.

alliance for justice logo

bill yeomans afj cropped CustomAlliance for Justice, Opinion: The Captured Court, Bill Yeomans, right, Oct. 19, 2018. In the aftermath of the Kavanaugh confirmation, Supreme Court justices have taken to public fora to assert the independence of the Court and to assure the public that the Court is not a political institution. Most prominently, Chief Justice Roberts distinguished justices from officials in the political branches, noting that “they speak for the people” while the justices “do not speak for the people, but we speak for the Constitution.”

As aspiration, Roberts’ comment shines, but in current context, it is a distraction from the stark reality that the Court is a political institution. It has been captured by the sustained effort of the Republican Party to distort the third branch of government into an instrument to promote a right-wing political agenda. While the justices will not decide cases in the language of partisan politics, the conservative majority will repeatedly reach results that match Republican political goals. The conservative justices were selected by political officials and confirmed through a highly partisan political process because they were reliable votes for those results. The product is a political institution.

The roots of the drive to reshape the Court to serve conservative political goals lie in the reaction of social conservatives against Brown v. Bd. of Education and Roe v. Wade, and the effort by Lewis Powell and others in the early 1970’s and thereafter to mobilize the business community to capture the courts. The Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation were central to the rise of the organized conservative legal movement in the 1980’s. That movement focused on building a strong cadre of rising lawyers who could be appointed to the bench by Republican presidents. Each of the Republican appointed justices now sitting – Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh – has deep roots in the Federalist Society. Indeed, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh were selected by Trump from lists compiled specially for him by the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation.

The justices were groomed to be reliable conservatives. Each served in one or more Republican administrations and each completed a successful tryout on a federal court of appeals. They were nominated for the Supreme Court because Republicans were confident there would be no surprises in their rulings. They were adherents to a legal philosophy (characterized by subtle variations that rarely affect results on major issues) that would produce outcomes that align almost perfectly with the Republican political agenda. By relying on their legal philosophy, they would exercise non-partisan judgment to interpret the laws and Constitution to promote Republican interests.

Reform the Supreme Court

The Kavanaugh confirmation debacle has justifiably left people angry. We must continue to process the allegations against Kavanaugh, the limitations imposed on the FBI investigation, and the suppression of documents by the White House and Senate Republicans. But it is also time to get serious about reforming the Supreme Court.
The president and Republicans in the Senate have installed a radically conservative justice who was credibly accused of sexual assault and lied to the Judiciary Committee about matters ranging from his activities in the Bush White House to the meaning of his high school yearbook. They pressed ahead with a supremely flawed candidate to complete the right-wing takeover of the Court that has been a central Republican political goal for at least fifty years.

The Court is now indisputably a political institution in which Republican justices will move the law inexorably to the right in furtherance of the Republican agenda. By further weakening public confidence in the Court’s independence and neutrality, Republicans have damaged its legitimacy. Congress must begin to repair the Court.
Proposals for essential reforms have been floating around for years, including adoption of a code of conduct for Supreme Court Justices, reform of recusal practices, limits on financial holdings and outside appearances, better policing of conflicts of interest, and the adoption of 18-year terms.

The elevation of Kavanaugh brings several of these reforms into play, but two stand out. First, Congress must impose a code of conduct and method for enforcement on Supreme Court justices, if the justices will not do it themselves. Judge Henderson, acting as Chief Judge of the D.C. Circuit because of Judge Garland’s recusal, referred to Chief Justice Roberts more than a dozen complaints filed against Judge Kavanaugh based on the confirmation process. Complaints filed against federal district court and court of appeals judges can be dismissed by the chief judge or referred to the circuit’s judicial council for fuller consideration. Henderson, apparently, thought these complaints were sufficiently meritorious to send forward.

It is common to ask the Chief Justice to refer the complaints to another circuit. The complaints were sent to Roberts before Kavanaugh’s swearing in. After Kavanaugh was sworn in, Roberts, in what appears to be a ministerial act, referred the complaints to Chief Judge Tymkovich of the Tenth Circuit. Tymkovich will almost certainly dismiss them now that Kavanaugh sits on the Supreme Court. Because the code of conduct and disciplinary process that govern court of appeals judges do not apply to Supreme Court justices, Kavanaugh will escape accountability. The law must be changed.

Congress also must address the issue of recusals. Currently, each justice decides whether or not to recuse him or herself from a matter and there is no requirement that a justice offer reasons. The bar and public, therefore, often can only speculate about a justice’s reasoning. That’s troubling since the Court’s legitimacy depends entirely on the justices’ written explanations of the bases for their decisions. Compounding the concern, the Chief Justice has suggested that justices are not bound by the existing recusal statute. Ideally, the Court should itself articulate clear standards and an improved process for recusal, but its failure to do so places the burden on Congress to act.

Kavanaugh’s angry, intemperate, and partisan tirade before the Judiciary Committee requires close monitoring of his recusal decisions. He denounced the Clintons, Democrats, and groups on the left, creating the appearance, at least, that he cannot fairly adjudicate claims involving them. While Congress faces legitimate separation of powers concerns in this area, it must act to the full extent of its constitutional authority to ensure that justices apply clear standards transparently when faced with recusal decisions.

Progressives also must begin thinking long term about expanding the Court. This change cannot happen until Democrats control the White House, the House, and 60 votes in the Senate.

bill yeomans afj cropped CustomBill Yeomans, right, is the Senior Justice Fellow for Justice at Alliance for Justice. He previously taught constitutional law, civil rights, and legislation at American University Washington College of Law. He also served for 26 years in the Department of Justice, where he litigated cases involving voting rights and discrimination in employment, housing, and education, and prosecuted police officers and racially motivated violent offenders before assuming a series of management positions, including acting Assistant Attorney General. For three years, Bill served as Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s chief counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and has also held positions at AFJ and the American Constitution Society.

Oct. 18

FBI Spy or Whistleblower?

terry albury gofundme photo

Former FBI special agent Terry Albury, sentenced to four years in prison on espionage charges after what he describes as whistleblowing (personal photo via GoFundMe campaign)

The Intercept, As FBI Whistleblower Terry Albury Faces Sentencing, His Lawyers Say He Was Motivated by Racism and Abuses at the Bureau, Alice Speri, Oct. 18, 2018. On Thursday, Judge Wilhelmina Wright sentenced Terry Albury to 48 months in prison, telling him that his disclosure “put our country at risk.” Albury pleaded guilty to unlawful transmission and unlawful retention of national defense information, which under the Espionage Act could earn him 10 years in prison each.

FBI logoAlbury was specifically charged with leaking two documents to the media — one that highlighted FBI methods for recruiting informants and another that was about threats from an unspecified Middle Eastern country — and retaining another. In a search warrant affidavit released at the time of his plea, the government said that Albury had also accessed other documents published by the news outlet.

In January 2017, Albury was assigned by the FBI to be an airport liaison, working to recruit informants at the border. According to the government sentencing memo, he continued to take FBI documents home from the airport — though he never shared them with anyone. When law enforcement raided his home, in August 2017, they found the documents on a storage device in a shirt pocket in his closet, wrapped in a note with a reporter’s phone number of it.

Prosecutors wrote that Albury acted with “clear disrespect for the law and his profession” and that his actions “put us all at risk.”

While they maintained that “motive is irrelevant to the offenses,” they called into question whether Albury was driven by “social conscience,” and said that he was no whistleblower because, in their view, the matters he exposed don’t constitute abuse. “Were the defendant truly troubled or disturbed or at odds with FBI policies or practices, he could have walked away,” they wrote. “Ultimately, he chose instead to engage in criminal conduct for 18 months rather than engage any process to remedy the ills he perceived against others or felt against himself.

That argument was supported by an amicus brief filed by 17 First Amendment scholars. The group wrote that between 2 to 3 million U.S. officials have the authority to classify information, and that last year, they made more than 49.5 million classification decisions — a 10 percent increase over 2016. Reviews of classification practices have regularly concluded that the procedure is widely abused, that classifying information is too easy, and that there is no consequence for misclassification. A former director of the Information Security Oversight Office cited in the scholars’ brief reported that information “published in third-grade textbooks” is classified. Further revealing just how arbitrary the process can be, fired FBI Director James Comey’s memos of his meetings with President Donald Trump, which were leaked to the media earlier this year, opened with his assessment of the level of classification they should hold. “I am not sure of the proper classification here so have chosen SECRET,” Comey wrote. “Please let me know of [sic] it should be higher or lower than that.”

“Overclassification is rampant,” the scholars concluded. “A great deal of nonsensitive information is classified simply because disclosure would embarrass powerful officials or expose government misconduct.”

Perhaps the most famous example of the arbitrary and unequal nature of leak prosecutions is that of former CIA Director David Petraeus, who pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor — and served no jail time — for sharing his highly classified journals with his biographer and lover, and then lying to the FBI about it.

“All administrations leak profusely from the top, meaning that they leak politically convenient information,” Heidi Kitrosser, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School and one of the authors of the amicus brief, told The Intercept. “When that is coupled with a historically unparalleled use of the Espionage Act to go after lower-level employees for leaking classified information, it becomes a powerful weapon for the government to pick and choose what they want the people to know.”

In their amicus brief, the group of legal scholars recalled a 2011 exchange between an intelligence official and the then-executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, about the subpoena of New York Times reporter James Risen, who is now at The Intercept.

That subpoena to force a reporter to disclose his source — which Risen refused to do — would be “one of the last you’ll see,” the official said at the time. “We don’t need to ask who you’re talking to. We know.”

In fact, the scholars argue, First Amendment protections extended to reporters have become all but useless now that officials can easily track their sources without them. “Given technological advances, the administration simply no longer needs to rely on subpoenaing reporters the way they used to,” Kitrosser told The Intercept. “They have surveillance cameras, call logs, third-party subpoenas, and many other means less available to them in the past to track down sources without having to go to the reporter. This poses a new and very scary threat to the ability of the press to cover information of great public importance.”

The prosecution of leakers has already significantly chilled sources’ willingness to risk their jobs and freedom, several reporters have said, with devastating impact on public discourse. In punishing Albury, the legal scholars pleaded, the court should consider “the benefits to the public and to democratic deliberation” that resulted from his disclosure, “as well as the damage that a severe sentence would inflict on the constitutionally-protected interest in the flow of information to the citizenry on matters of public importance.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Ex-Minneapolis F.B.I. Agent Is Sentenced to 4 Years in Leak Case, Charlie Savage and Mitch Smith, Oct. 18, 2018. By the time Terry J. Albury arrived in Minneapolis in 2012, about 11 years after he went to work for the F.B.I., he had grown increasingly convinced that agents were abusing their powers and discriminating against racial and religious minorities as they hunted for potential terrorists.

The son of an Ethiopian political refugee, Mr. Albury was the only African-American field agent assigned to a counterterrorism squad that scrutinized Minnesota’s Somali-American community. There, according to his lawyer, he became disillusioned about “widespread racist and xenophobic sentiments” in the bureau and “discriminatory practices and policies he observed and implemented.”

FBI logoIn 2016, Mr. Albury began photographing secret documents that described F.B.I. powers to recruit potential informants and identify potential extremists. On Thursday, he was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty last year to unauthorized disclosures of national security secrets for sending several of the documents to The Intercept, which published the files with a series titled “The F.B.I.’s Secret Rules.”

Before Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright announced the sentence, Mr. Albury spoke haltingly in her courtroom in downtown St. Paul, pausing to wipe his face and breathe deeply. He apologized to his former F.B.I. colleagues and said he had been motivated to act by perceived injustices. In hindsight, he said, he wished he had voiced his concerns through official channels and not the news media.

“I truly wanted to make a difference and never intended to put anyone in danger,” Mr. Albury said.

The sentencing — which also included three years of supervised release after Mr. Albury gets out of prison — brought to a close the second leak case charged under the Espionage Act during the Trump administration after Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s vow last year to crack down on unauthorized disclosures of classified information.

jeff sessions ag oOn Thursday, Mr. Sessions, left, was triumphant, saying in a statement that the department was “conducting perhaps the most aggressive campaign against leaks” in its history.

“Today’s sentence should be a warning to every would-be leaker in the federal government that if they disclose classified information, they will pay a high price,” he said.

The first leak case came to a close in August when Reality Winner, a former National Security Agency contractor, was sentenced to more than five years in prison after she pleaded guilty to leaking a classified document about Russian efforts to hack state elections systems. Like Mr. Albury, Ms. Winter had sent her document to The Intercept.

Betsy Reed, the editor in chief of The Intercept, which published a lengthy profile of Mr. Albury on Thursday, said in an email that it was getting easier for the government to hunt down journalists’ sources using surveillance and internal monitoring systems. She warned of a growing chill for investigative journalism.

Oct. 16

University of Chicago Law School Alumni News, Pat Cipollone, '91: Selected by President Trump to Replace Don McGahn as White House Counsel, Staff report, Oct. 16, 2018.
President Donald Trump has selected Pat A. Cipollone to replace Don McGahn as White House counsel, the president told reporters Tuesday, bringing in a well-known Washington litigator as his new top lawyer as the special counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election continues unabated.

President Trump announced his selection during an Oval Office interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday evening. Cipollone, who has been a partner at Stein Mitchell Cipollone Beato & Missner LLP, has experience defending against numerous government investigations from the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Trade Commission and more, according to a biography on his firm’s website.

Oct. 15

richard nixon desk archives

President Richard Nixon in the White House Oval Office (Photo via Wikimedia and the National Record and Archives Administration).

Lawfare, Jaworski Road Map to be Mostly Unsealed, Stephen Bates, Jack Goldsmith, Benjamin Wittes, Oct. 15, 2018. The significance of the document is both historical and contemporary. The historical significance is obvious. Watergate has a spawned a huge literature. Jaworski’s referral is described in that literature, but it has remained under wraps longer even than the identity of Deep Throat.

The contemporary significance is subtler. Mueller is today, according to many press accounts, writing some kind of report—at least on allegations of presidential obstruction of justice, maybe on other matters too. There exist only a few possible models for such a report. In some ways, the Road Map is the one that history has treated most kindly, but it has done so, ironically, without ever seeing it; the documents remains sealed by the National Archives because of grand-jury secrecy rules. We argued that it was time for it to see the light of day.

We actually were not the first to do so. Geoffrey Shepard, a California lawyer who worked for Nixon, sought the Road Map’s release some time back—along with other material—but the matter languished before Judge Royce Lamberth. A few days after we filed our petition, however, the Shepard matter came back to life. The case was transferred to Chief Judge Howell on Sept. 20. Our case, which was also assigned initially to Judge Lamberth, was transferred to Chief Judge Howell the same day. A couple of weeks later, on Oct. 4, the government filed a status report in Shepard, stating:

On June 22, 2017, the National Archives and Records Administration (“NARA”) delivered to Judge Lamberth’s chambers an ex parte, in camera submission, in accordance with the court’s Memorandum and Order of May 23, 2017. That submission consisted of (a) the declaration of Martha Murphy, NARA’s Chief of the Special Access and FOIA Branch, addressing the first Watergate grand jury’s report and recommendation (the “Roadmap”); (b) an index of the Roadmap, plus an illustration of how the Roadmap appeared, both attached to the Murphy declaration, and (c) a box containing a copy of the entire Roadmap, as it was transmitted to the House of Representatives.

The Murphy declaration explained that a majority of the Roadmap had already been made public by the House Judiciary Committee, and thus no longer constituted secret grand jury information. With respect to the non-public portions of the Roadmap, which contain secret grand jury information, NARA was awaiting Judge Lamberth’s ex parte review and decision before it proceeded to conduct an archival review to determine which portions could now be opened to the public. That remains the status to date. Similarly, given the pendency of the ex parte review, the government has not conferred with any individuals who may be affected by a potential disclosure.

Judge Howell did not waste time. Her order, which followed this status report by only a week, directs that “NARA shall promptly begin the process of reviewing and releasing the 2-page summary, 53 statements, and 81 documents described in its ex parte, in camera submission that are included in the House Judiciary Committee Report or that have otherwise been made publicly available.

She also ordered “that the Department of Justice shall file, on November 9, 2018, and every 30 days thereafter, a status report informing the Court of the status of NARA’s review process” and that the department “shall, by October 22, 2018, review the 16 remaining documents in the Road Map that NARA has not been able to locate publicly, and shall contact any individuals whose privacy might be implicated by the release of those 16 documents to ascertain their views regarding whether those 16 documents may be released.”

Oct. 13

Turks Release U.S. Pastor

washington post logoWashington Post, Pastor Andrew Brunson released to U.S. diplomatic personnel after being detained by Turkish authorities for two years, Erin Cunningham, Oct. 13, 2018 (print edition). A Turkish court on Friday convicted American pastor Andrew Brunson of aiding terrorism but sentenced him to time served and ordered his immediate release.

turkey flagThe case of the evangelical preacher caught up in Turkey’s post-coup security sweep had garnered attention at the highest levels of the U.S. government and become a sore point in the two countries’ relations.

Within minutes of the verdict, President Trump tweeted, “working very hard on Pastor Brunson.” “PASTOR BRUNSON JUST RELEASED,” he tweeted later. “WILL BE HOME SOON!”

While Brunson, 50, was convicted on terrorism charges and sentenced to three years in prison, the judge reduced his sentence to two years time served for good behavior. The pastor has been held under house arrest since July, for health reasons, but that arrangement was also ended so he could leave the country.

“The verdict was the best of a bad situation,” Brunson’s defense attorney, Ismail Cem Halavurt, said outside the courthouse in western Turkey.

Oct. 12

Shocking Murder Evidence

jamal khashoggi entering Saudi consulate

Jamal Kashoggi, a dissident Saudi Arabian journalist living in Virginia and Turkey, is shown entering a Saudi consulate before his disappearance on Oct. 2 and suspected murder.

washington post logoWashington Post, Turks tell U.S. officials that audio and video prove Khashoggi was killed, Shane Harris, Souad Mekhennet, John Hudson and Anne Gearan, Oct. 12, 2018 (print edition). The audio recording provides some of the strongest evidence that a Saudi team killed Washington Post opinion writer Jamal Khashoggi, officials said. “You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered,” one person said.

U.S. Politics, Markets

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Attacks the Fed as Stocks Fall and the Midterms Loom, Binyamin Appelbaum, Oct. 12, 2018 (print edition). President Trump responded to falling stock prices on Thursday by continuing to throw rocks at the Federal Reserve, which he has described as “crazy,” “loco,” “going wild” and “out of control” for slowly raising interest rates against the backdrop of a booming economy.

No other modern president has publicly attacked the Fed with such venom or frequency. Indeed, some scholars said the only close historical parallel was with President Andrew Jackson, who campaigned successfully in the 1830s to close the Fed’s predecessor, the Second Bank of the United States.

Mr. Trump’s pointed remarks reflect the high political stakes less than a month before midterm elections that have been cast by his political opponents as a referendum on his presidency. Mr. Trump has been riding the economy hard, bragging about job creation, tax cuts and reduced federal regulation, and claiming credit for the rise of the stock market. Now that the market has lost 5 percent of its value in the last week, Mr. Trump is insisting someone else is to blame.

#MeToo: Major Clerical Demotion

washington post logoWashington Post, Pope accepts Wuerl’s resignation amid criticism of handling of abuse claims, Michelle Boorstein, Oct. 12, 2018. Pope Francis on Friday accepted the resignation cardinal donald wuerl portrait fullof Washington’s archbishop, Cardinal Donald Wuerl (shown at right), a trusted papal ally who became a symbol among many Catholics for what they regard as the church’s defensive and weak response to clerical sex abuse.

But even as Wuerl becomes one of the highest-profile prelates to step down in a year of prominent abuse scandals, Pope Francis offered the cardinal a gentle landing, praising him in a letter and allowing him to stay on as “apostolic administrator” in the Washington archdiocese until a successor was found.

In his letter, Francis suggested he had accepted Wuerl’s resignation reluctantly, and said he saw in the cardinal’s request the “heart of a shepherd.” Francis did not criticize Wuerl’s handling of abuse cases, and wrote that Wuerl had “sufficient elements” to defend his actions.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Republicans who said Clinton and Obama disrespected the Oval Office never heard Kanye West’s f-bomb, Anne Gearan and Felicia Sonmez, Oct. 12, 2018. The rapper held forth with profanity, inanity and a profession of love for President Trump, who said West could be a future presidential candidate.

washington post logoWashington Post, New document contradicts Ross’s congressional testimony on census citizenship question, Tara Bahrampour, Oct. 12, 2018.  Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross talked with former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon and Attorney General Jeff Session about adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, according to a Justice Department document.

U.S. Hurricane Damage

washington post logoWashington Post, Michael leaves a trail of ruin in Florida, Luz Lazo, Mark Berman, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux and Kevin Sullivan, Oct. 12, 2018 (print edition). Oceanfront communities in the Florida Panhandle were virtually obliterated and an Air Force base had “catastrophic” damage as the storm moved through.

Oct. 11

Murder Most Foul?

washington post logoWashington Post, Crown prince sought to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and detain him, U.S. intercepts show, Shane Harris, Oct. 11, 2018. The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, below left, ordered an operation to lure Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia from his home in Virginia and then detain him, mohammad bin salman cropped fileaccording to U.S. intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing the plan.

The intelligence, described by U.S. officials familiar with it, is another piece of evidence implicating the Saudi regime in Khashoggi’s disappearance last week after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials say that a Saudi security team lay in wait for the journalist and killed him.

jamal khashoggi western suitKhashoggi, right (a U.S. resident), was a prominent critic of the Saudi government and Mohammed in particular. Several of Khashoggi’s friends said that over the past four months, senior Saudi officials close to the crown prince had called Khashoggi to offer him protection, and even a high-level job working for the government, if he returned to his home country.

jared kushner head shotThe intelligence pointing to a plan to detain Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia has fueled speculation by officials and analysts in multiple countries that what transpired at the consulate was a backup plan to capture Khashoggi that may have gone wrong.

The intelligence poses a political problem for the Trump administration because it implicates Mohammed, who is particularly close to Jared Kushner, left, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative commentary: Murders of journalists and kidnappings: Welcome to Trump World, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 11, 2018 (subscription required; excerpted with permission). All of the films that depict a dystopian future of lawlessness, complete with tyrannical leaders, wanton murders, and ransom kidnappings, have come to fruition under Donald Trump's presidency.

Election Rigging In Georgia?

stacy abrams brian kemp file

Georgia gubernatorial candidates Stacey Abrams, the Democrat, and Brian Kemp

ny times logoNew York Times, Voter Suppression Complaints in Georgia, Where G.O.P. Candidate Controls Voting, Astead W. Herndon, Oct. 11, 2018. Tensions escalated in the already bitter race to be Georgia’s next governor on Thursday after reports that the state had placed tens of thousands of voters’ registrations on a “pending” list, sparking charges of voter suppression and election rigging.

The office of Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state and the Republican nominee for governor in November’s election, has stalled more than 53,000 voter applications, according to a recent report from The Associated Press. The list includes a disproportionately high number of black voters, the report said, which is stirring concern among nonpartisan voting rights advocates and supporters of Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate, who is vying to be the first black woman in the country to be elected governor.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate heads for exits as vulnerable Democrats get campaign time and McConnell gets his judges, Mike DeBonis, Oct. 11, 2018. Endangered Senate Democrats won their freedom to campaign for next month’s midterm elections Thursday and, in exchange, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell got something he highly values — votes on 15 of President Trump’s judicial nominees.

us senate logoThe deal struck by the two parties on Thursday allowed the Senate to wrap up its work until after the Nov. 6 midterm elections. The hiatus comes as a relief to a cadre of Democratic incumbents who face difficult races in states that voted for Trump in 2016. McConnell (R-Ky.) had threatened to keep senators in Washington, voting on Trump’s nominees, until Election Day.

But ultimately Democrats paid McConnell’s ransom to get their incumbents back home. Under the deal, the Senate confirmed all 15 judicial nominees Thursday evening. An additional package of executive-branch nominees is set to be confirmed by unanimous consent before the Senate closes its business Thursday, two aides familiar with the deal said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Republicans Abandon Vulnerable Lawmakers, Striving to Keep House, Alexander Burns, Oct. 11, 2018. Party leaders are building a firewall around a few dozen republican elephant logopurple districts, and cutting off lawmakers who appear unable to win.

In a tactical retreat, Republican groups have already withdrawn some or all funding from a few embattled incumbents, mainly in suburbs where President Trump is unpopular, including Representatives Kevin Yoder of Kansas, Mike Coffman of Colorado and Mike Bishop of Michigan. They have abandoned more than half a dozen seats where Republican lawmakers are not running for re-election, including most recently the Tucson, Ariz.-based seat of Representative Martha McSally, who left to run for Senate.

ny times logoNew York Times, Michigan Governor’s Race Tests Flint’s Jaded Residents, Astead W. Herndon, Oct. 11, 2018. Michigan is in the homestretch of choosing Gov. Rick Snyder’s replacement. But many residents are wary of politicians from both parties because no one seemed able to mitigate the city’s water crisis.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said in April that Flint’s water was safe to drink. He ended the state distribution of bottled water and effectively declared that the city’s yearslong public health emergency was over.

But here in Flint, where Mr. Snyder’s name is synonymous with villainy for many residents, his declaration has been largely ignored, and the crisis of unclean drinking water in the Great Lake state nicknamed “Pure Michigan” is very much ongoing.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Contradiction: Assailing ‘Left-Wing Mob’ as Crowd Chants ‘Lock Her Up,’ Peter Baker, Oct. 11, 2018 (print edition). President Trump is trying to turn the tables on his opponents by accusing them of being what they say he is: “unhinged,” “wacko” and “dangerous.”

When President Trump mocked a Democratic senator at a midterm election rally the other night, the crowd responded with one of his supporters’ favorite chants from his own campaign two years ago. “Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!”

The arena boomed with shouting voices and they kept going. “Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!” Mr. Trump smiled and soaked it in. Then he assailed the Democrats for becoming “an angry left-wing mob.”

A master of divide-and-conquer campaigning who gives critics belittling nicknames, calls his foes “evil people” and has encouraged supporters to “knock the crap” out of protesters, Mr. Trump hopes to convince the public that his opponents are the ones who are “totally unhinged.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The latest example of a Trump adviser going bananas, Dana Milbank, Oct. 11, 2018 (print edition). Just in time for the election, the Trump administration is back to its monkey business.

The acting head of the Environmental Protection Agency is the latest administration figure found to have trafficked racist imagery. HuffPost reported this week on Andrew Wheeler’s “like” of a 2013 post showing President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama looking longingly at a banana held by a white hand.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Melania Trump sinks to a whole new low, Wendy Luxenburg, Oct. 11, 2018. Melania Trump just stated that she considers herself to be the most bullied person in the world. This explains a lot. It explains why her key platform (anti-bullying) has been such a bust, and why she has repeatedly failed to acknowledge that, when it comes bullies, her husband has no equal. The fact that she sees herself as a victim is, of course, ridiculous.

melania I dont care zara jacket 6 21 18We can only assume that in Melania’s extremely privileged world, being held accountable for her actions is a foreign concept. Women like Melania often have excuses made for them, and we have seen that for much of Donald Trump’s presidency. Many have been reluctant to see her as complicit in his actions. Rather we hear things like, “She’s trapped.” or “She didn’t ask for this.” She clearly knows this and is trying to work that angle to her advantage.

However, it is not bullying to hold someone responsible for their callous actions and ignorant comments. There is simply no excuse for one of the most visible women in the world to wear a jacket that says “I really don’t care do you?” when on her way to visit children ripped from their parents.

Most recently, in her photo shoot masquerading as some sort of humanitarian trip (to countries her husband referred to as “shit holes”), she threw sexual assault victims under the bus by insisting that they need evidence if they wish to be believed. Knowingly contributing to and validating rape culture is going to have repercussions. Melania Trump is not exempt from that simply because she sees herself as beyond reproach.

Democrat Claims Fraud In Florida Democratic Primary

debbie wasserman shultzOpEdNews, David vs. Goliath in South Florida, Round 2, Joan Brunwasser (JB), Oct. 11, 2018. My guest today is Tim Canova (TC), a progressive lawyer and law professor. Tim challenged the powerful Hillary supporter and DNC chair, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (shown in a file photo), in the 2016 Democratic primary for Florida's 23rd congressional district.

JB: How effective were her attempts to marginalize you? Were you viewed as a fringe candidate? And if so, how did that affect the race?

TC: Every time I would appear at a local Democratic Party club or caucus or committee meeting, party leaders had already received calls from Wasserman Schultz's staff warning them not to let me speak -- even though such censorship is contrary to the party's own bylaws. The party helps shield its incumbents from debate, showers them with mainstream media attention and corporate money, and prevents challengers from even introducing themselves. It's been much the same with the leadership of unions and some other liberal and even purportedly progressive groups.

democratic donkey logoI don't know if I was ever considered a "fringe" candidate, as much as disloyal for not falling in line and supporting the incumbent, especially since she was also the chair of the Democratic National Committee. They kept painting me as the outsider, which only fueled our popularity.

In the days after my August 30, 2016 primary, a number of election integrity experts contacted me to report that they had found the certified results problematic. One team of data analysts said they found "statistical red flags" that brought the official results into question. One leading expert statistician concluded that the results of their "cumulative vote tally" were mathematically implausible. Since I'm not a statistician, I never knew how much weight to give to these concerns.

Our final field numbers and our experience on the ground suggested a much different outcome from the official results. So as I heard from more experts and non-experts alike questioning the official results, I decided to put in a public-records request, at my own expense. We wanted to verify the vote by inspecting the ballots, initially in about a dozen key precincts. If the ballots matched up with the official results, then we would put all those suspicions to rest.

In November 2016, we put in the first of three public records requests with the Broward County Supervisor of Elections to inspect the ballots. We were first told that Brenda Snipes, the Supervisor, had taken no digital scanned images, and we were stonewalled for more than half a year in our attempts to inspect the paper ballots. I finally filed a lawsuit in June 2017, and while the suit was pending, the Supervisor ordered the destruction of all the paper ballots cast, in violation of multiple federal and state criminal statutes.

In the destruction order, Snipes falsely certified that the ballots were not the subject of pending litigation. She also concealed the ballot destruction from the court for more than two months, showing bad faith and willfulness in her crimes. When she admitted to destroying the paper ballots, Snipes then claimed to have digital scanned images. She paid about $15,000 to have a software company come in and manipulate and arrange the digital scans for viewing. Our requests to inspect the software were rejected because the software is considered "proprietary," the private property and trade secrets of the private software vendor hired by Snipes.

JB: That's outrageous! Were you flabbergasted by Snipes's brazenness? And, more to the point, where did that leave you?

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Newsweek’s Former Owner Faces Fraud Charges, William K. Rashbaum and Patricia Cohen, Oct. 11, 2018 (print edition). Newsweek magazine, the onetime media powerhouse, was at the center of a multimillion-dollar fraud and money-laundering conspiracy, according to an indictment by Manhattan prosecutors that was unsealed Wednesday.

newsweek logoTwo publishing companies, IBT Media, which owned the magazine, and Christian Media, a faith-based online publisher in Washington, were charged with trying to defraud lenders by pretending to borrow money for sophisticated computing services.

Instead, most of the money was funneled back to accounts controlled by the two media companies and their principals — Etienne Uzac, a co-founder of IBT, and William Anderson, Christian Media’s former chief executive and publisher — and unnamed co-conspirators, the indictment said. It said some of the money had been used to cover the magazine’s operating expenses.

The men were charged with misrepresenting Newsweek’s financial health and creating a fictitious accounting firm, Karen Smith L.L.P., along with a series of fake financial statements to dupe lenders into putting up millions of dollars in 2015 and 2016.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office brought the charges after an extended investigation into the companies’ financial dealings that included a raid of IBT’s Manhattan offices in January. Top editors and reporters at Newsweek were fired after they, too, started delving into the company’s accounts and the owners’ connections to Olivet University, an evangelical Christian college in New York. Several other magazine employees soon resigned.

cyrus vance jrMr. Uzac defended himself on Wednesday on IBT’s website, accusing the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., left, of retaliating against his news organization for reporting last fall on a campaign contribution to Mr. Vance from the lawyer for Harvey Weinstein, the powerful film producer

The Manhattan district attorney’s office brought the charges after an extended investigation into the companies’ financial dealings that included a raid of IBT’s Manhattan offices in January. Top editors and reporters at Newsweek were fired after they, too, started delving into the company’s accounts and the owners’ connections to Olivet University, an evangelical Christian college in New York. Several other magazine employees soon resigned.

Mr. Uzac defended himself on Wednesday on IBT’s website, accusing the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., of retaliating against his news organization for reporting last fall on a campaign contribution to Mr. Vance from the lawyer for Harvey Weinstein, the powerful film producer.

More background: New York Observer, Moonies, Messiahs and Media: Who Really Owns Newsweek? Peter Sterne, Aug. 4, 2013. Is it controlled by a controversial Christian preacher?

U.S. Markets Fall

washington post logoWashington Post, Dow drops nearly 550 points, sending its two-day loss total to nearly 1,400 points, Taylor Telford, Anna Fifield and Gerry Shih, Oct. 11, 2018. Investors are rattled by rising interest rates that could trigger a slowdown in the global economy. Worries about U.S.-China ties weighed heavily, too.

U.S. Hurricane Disaster

washington post logoWashington Post, Michael moves into the Carolinas after lashing Florida, Georgia, Mark Berman, Antonia Noori Farzan, Eli Rosenberg and J. Freedom du Lac, Oct. 11, 2018.
Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday as a “potentially catastrophic” Category 4 hurricane — the strongest on record to hit the area — and charged north through Georgia and into the Carolinas, wreaking havoc and causing emergencies. In the storm’s wake lay crushed and flooded buildings, shattered lives and at least two deaths.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Fighter Jet Flipped. Hangars Shredded. At Tyndall Air Force Base, a ‘Complete Loss,’ Dave Philipps, Oct. 11, 2018. As Hurricane Michael tore across the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday, shredding buildings and homes in its path, the mostly empty Tyndall Air Force Base braced for a ferocious impact. The Air Force worked to minimize possible destruction. Tyndall is home to the largest group of F-22 stealth fighters — 55 of them, each costing a dizzying $339 million. The stealth fighters and about 17 trainer jets were flown to safety, to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. Planes from nearby Hurlburt Field and Eglin Air Force Base also fled inland in the days before the storm.

Kavanaugh Perjury?

washington post logoWashington Post, Roberts refers judicial misconduct complaints against Kavanaugh to federal appeals court in Colorado, Ann E. Marimow and Tom Hamburger, Oct. 11, 2018 (print edition). Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on Wednesday referred more than a dozen judicial misconduct complaints filed recently against Brett M. Kavanaugh to a federal appeals court in Colorado. The 15 complaints, related to statements Kavanaugh made during his Senate confirmation hearings, were initially filed with the federal appeals court in Washington, where Kavanaugh served for the last 12 years before his confirmation Saturday to the Supreme Court.

The allegations center on whether Kavanaugh was dishonest and lacked judicial temperament during his Senate testimony, according to people familiar with the matter.

Last month, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit asked Roberts to refer the complaints to another appeals court for review after determining that they should not be handled by judges who served with Kavanaugh on the D.C. appellate court.

In a letter Wednesday to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, Roberts said he selected the court in Colorado to “accept the transfer and to exercise the powers of a judicial council with respect to the identified complaints and any pending or new complaints relating to the same subject matter.”

The Denver-based appeals court is led by Chief Judge Timothy M. Tymkovich, the former solicitor general of Colorado who was nominated to the bench by President George W. Bush. The 10th Circuit handled another recent judicial misconduct case from Washington involving the former chief judge of the District Court.

It is unclear what will come of the review by the 10th Circuit. The judiciary’s rules on misconduct do not apply to Supreme Court justices, and the 10th Circuit could decide to dismiss the complaints as moot now that Kavanaugh has joined the high court.

“There is nothing that a judicial council could do at this point,” said Arthur D. Hellman, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh and expert on the operation of federal courts.

He said it was unprecedented for a new justice to face such a situation. Hellman predicted that the 10th Circuit will likely close the case “because it is no longer within their jurisdiction,” now that Kavanaugh has been elevated to the Supreme Court.

Democrat Claims Fraud In Florida Democratic Primary

debbie wasserman shultzOpEdNews, David vs. Goliath in South Florida, Round 2, Joan Brunwasser (JB), Oct. 11, 2018. My guest today is Tim Canova (TC), a progressive lawyer and law professor. Tim challenged the powerful Hillary supporter and DNC chair, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (shown in a file photo), in the 2016 Democratic primary for Florida's 23rd congressional district.

JB: How effective were her attempts to marginalize you? Were you viewed as a fringe candidate? And if so, how did that affect the race?

TC: Every time I would appear at a local Democratic Party club or caucus or committee meeting, party leaders had already received calls from Wasserman Schultz's staff warning them not to let me speak -- even though such censorship is contrary to the party's own bylaws. The party helps shield its incumbents from debate, showers them with mainstream media attention and corporate money, and prevents challengers from even introducing themselves. It's been much the same with the leadership of unions and some other liberal and even purportedly progressive groups.

democratic donkey logoI don't know if I was ever considered a "fringe" candidate, as much as disloyal for not falling in line and supporting the incumbent, especially since she was also the chair of the Democratic National Committee. They kept painting me as the outsider, which only fueled our popularity.

In the days after my August 30, 2016 primary, a number of election integrity experts contacted me to report that they had found the certified results problematic. One team of data analysts said they found "statistical red flags" that brought the official results into question. One leading expert statistician concluded that the results of their "cumulative vote tally" were mathematically implausible. Since I'm not a statistician, I never knew how much weight to give to these concerns.

Our final field numbers and our experience on the ground suggested a much different outcome from the official results. So as I heard from more experts and non-experts alike questioning the official results, I decided to put in a public-records request, at my own expense. We wanted to verify the vote by inspecting the ballots, initially in about a dozen key precincts. If the ballots matched up with the official results, then we would put all those suspicions to rest.

In November 2016, we put in the first of three public records requests with the Broward County Supervisor of Elections to inspect the ballots. We were first told that Brenda Snipes, the Supervisor, had taken no digital scanned images, and we were stonewalled for more than half a year in our attempts to inspect the paper ballots. I finally filed a lawsuit in June 2017, and while the suit was pending, the Supervisor ordered the destruction of all the paper ballots cast, in violation of multiple federal and state criminal statutes.

In the destruction order, Snipes falsely certified that the ballots were not the subject of pending litigation. She also concealed the ballot destruction from the court for more than two months, showing bad faith and willfulness in her crimes. When she admitted to destroying the paper ballots, Snipes then claimed to have digital scanned images. She paid about $15,000 to have a software company come in and manipulate and arrange the digital scans for viewing. Our requests to inspect the software were rejected because the software is considered "proprietary," the private property and trade secrets of the private software vendor hired by Snipes.

JB: That's outrageous! Were you flabbergasted by Snipes's brazenness? And, more to the point, where did that leave you?

Report: ISIS Steals Chemical Weapons

SouthFront, ISIS Seizes Toxic Agents Intended To Be Used For Provocations In Idlib, Staff report, Oct. 11, 2018. ISIS terrorists have been able to seize toxic chemicals due to the irresponsible actions of the representatives of the Western countries, Lieutenant General Vladimir Savchenko, chief of the Russian center for the reconciliation of the conflicting sides in Syria, said on October 10. According to Savchenko, on October 9, a group of ISIS-linked militants attacked the headquarters of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) in the village of al-Lataminah.

He added that four militants and two members of the White Helmets organization were killed in the attack and two cylinders containing chlorine were taken out of the headquarters. The seized cylinders were transported to southern Aleppo and handed over to members of another terrorist group – Hurras al-Din.

 Savchenko described Hurras al-Din, which is known for its links to al-Qaeda, as an ISIS-associated group. This may indicate that in Idlib pro-al-Qaeda and pro-ISIS organizations are now working together to sabotage the Idlib demilitarization deal.

Oct. 10

Justice Dept. Under Scrutiny christopher wray cropped Small

FBI Director Christopher Wray (File photo)

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI director expected to face questions about Kavanaugh probe during Senate hearing, Devlin Barrett and Karoun Demirjian, Oct. 10, 2018. Democrats have FBI logoaccused the White House of curtailing the bureau’s ability to thoroughly investigate allegations of sexual assault against the new Supreme Court justice.

The FBI questioned nine people as part of that inquiry, and Democrats have accused White House officials of severely curtailing the FBI’s ability to learn the truth.

washington post logoWashington Post, Rosenstein faces congressional scrutiny amid new claim he seriously suggested recording Trump, Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey and Ellen Nakashima, Oct. 10, 2018 (print edition). The FBI’s top lawyer told investigators that senior officials characterized Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein’s suggestion as a serious one — raising questions about Rosenstein’s assertions to the contrary.

Roll Call, Rosenstein Won’t Testify Before House Judiciary, Oversight Committees, Lindsey McPherson, Oct. 10, 2018. Reps. considering subpoena compelling deputy attorney general to testify.

U.S. Politics

Palmer Report, Opinion: Taylor Swift has done the impossible, Wendy Luxenburg, Oct. 10, 2018. Five years ago, if someone had told me that I’d be championing Taylor Swift, I’d have laughed in their face. My dislike of Taylor and my overall lack of respect for her was well known among all my friends. I definitely was not “Team Taylor.” I wasn’t a fan of her music nor her revolving door of boyfriends; she seemed rather shallow and self-involved. Then something happened: Taylor Swift grew up.

taylor swift stageIn a thoughtfully written post she waded into politics for the first time in her career. She explained that she would be casting her vote in her home state of Tennessee for the Democratic candidates due to their support of equality regardless of a person’s gender, race or sexual orientation.

However, unlike most public figures, she did not outright encourage her fans to vote for any specific candidate. Instead of exploiting her influence, she used it encourage her fans to register to vote and to “vote based on who most closely represents your values.”

In the two days following her post, more than 200,000 new voters registered through vote.org (the site referenced by Swift in her post), leading Vote.org’s Director of Communications Kamari Guthrie to credit her with the spike, “Thank god for Taylor Swift,” she said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Anti-Voter Supreme Court, David Leonhardt, Oct. 10, 2018. The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to intervene in a challenge to a North Dakota voter ID rule that may prevent some Native American voters from casting a ballot in next month’s elections.

heidi heitkamp oAfter Heidi Heitkamp (left), a North Dakota Democrat, narrowly won a Senate seat in 2012, Republicans changed a voter-identification law in the state. They stopped allowing any voter identification that lists a post-office box as an address.

There was a specific reason for the change, as Pema Levy of Mother Jones reports. Many Native Americans use a P.O. box as their address because the U.S. Postal Service does not deliver to their communities. And Native Americans had provided Heitkamp with crucial support in her win. The law was another Republican attempt to win elections by keeping Democratic-leaning groups from voting.

republican elephant logoLast night, the Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the North Dakota law, effectively upholding it. Amy Howe of Scotusblog has a fuller explanation. “The risk of disenfranchisement is large,” Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in a dissent.

This case is yet another reminder that democracy protection needs to be the No. 1 item on the Democrats’ long-term political agenda. (Really, it should the top item on both parties’ agenda, but I realize that’s a naïve wish.) The next time Democrats control the federal government, they should pass a sweeping voter-rights bill, similar to the kind Paul Glastris has described in Washington Monthly.

History won’t look kindly on the political party that is trying to keep Americans — usually dark-skinned Americans — from voting.

The Atlantic, The Trump Campaign Says Exploiting Hacked Emails Is Free Speech, Natasha Bertrand, Oct. 10, 2018. Lawyers for the campaign asserted in court papers a right to disclose “even stolen information.”

In a motion to dismiss a new lawsuit accusing President Donald Trump’s campaign team of illegally conspiring with Russian agents to disseminate stolen emails during the election, Trump campaign lawyers have tried out a new defense: free speech.

donald trump for president button nice smileThe lawsuit, filed last month by two donors and one former employee of the Democratic National Committee, alleges that the Trump campaign, along with former Trump adviser Roger Stone, worked with Russia and WikiLeaks to publish hacked DNC emails, thereby violating their privacy.

But the Trump campaign — represented by Jeffrey Baltruzak, Michael A. Carvin, Nikki L. McArthur, and Vivek Suri, all of the law firm Jones Day — responded in a brief filed Tuesday that the campaign can’t be held legally responsible for WikiLeaks’s publication of the DNC emails.

Furthermore, the Trump lawyers argued, the First Amendment protects the campaign’s “right to disclose information — even stolen information — so long as (1) the speaker did not participate in the theft and (2) the information deals with matters of public concern.”

The motion’s language seems to further an argument made by Trump and his allies as they await the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into a potential conspiracy between the campaign and Russia in 2016: namely, that collusion, even if it involved the coordinated release and exploitation of a candidate’s emails during the presidential election, is not a crime.

oleg deripaskaPalmer Report: Opinion, Danger looms for Donald and Ivanka Trump, Daniel Cotter, Oct. 10, 2018. On Monday, the FBI reported that it had frozen the US assets of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, right, including his New York mansion. Deripaska is suspected of having mob ties and is a close ally of both Vladimir Putin and Paul Manafort.

The inhabitant of the property, for unknown reasons, is none other than Dasha Zhukova, best friend of Ivanka. Zhukova was Ivanka’s guest at the inauguration and they are regular travel buddies. Zhukova is living in Deripaska’s home while her property her ex-husband gave to her is being rehabbed. Her ex-husband, Roman Abramovich, is a Russian oligarch.

What we know about the Donald Trump family is there is zero degrees of separation between any member of the Trump family and the Russians. At every turn, there is another connection and link to the Puppet master Putin and Russian oligarchs.

Senate Resumes Court Packing Plan

Roll Call, Republicans Restart Push for Lower Court Judges, Todd Ruger, Oct. 10, 2018. Democrats object to the process. With the fight over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh behind them, Republicans on Wednesday restarted the Senate Judiciary Committee’s push to confirm lower court judges with a hearing on a pair of nominees that Democrats staunchly oppose for their legal work on health care, LGBT rights and other issues.

The hearing featured almost everything Democrats have complained about the confirmation process during President Donald Trump’s administration — including scheduling more than one circuit court nominee in a single hearing and doing so over the objections of a home state senator.

sherrod brown o 2009This time, nominees from Ohio to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit are opposed by home state Sen. Sherrod Brown, right, who spoke against them at the hearing for their previous legal work and criticized the White House for ignoring the state’s bipartisan judicial selection commission.

“I have significant concerns about the ability of Chad Readler and Eric Murphy to be fair-minded and impartial judges, and I cannot support nominees who have actively worked to strip Ohioans of their rights,” Brown said. “And that’s exactly what Mr. Murphy and Mr. Readler have done, on everything from health care to voting rights, from marriage equality to public education.”

Readler’s work as a senior Justice Department official in the past two years touched many of the Trump administration’s most contentious legal battles. Brown said that “perhaps worst of all” was Readler’s role when he filed a brief in a Texas lawsuit that challenges the 2010 health care law’s protections for pre-existing conditions.

U.S. Natural Disasters

washington post logoWashington Post, Hurricane Michael, now a Category 4, takes aim at Florida Panhandle, Jason Samenow​, Oct. 10, 2018. Florida’s northern Gulf Coast is bracing for its most dangerous hurricane threat in more than a decade as Michael gained strength overnight. The storm, with its winds of 140 mph, is expected to make landfall this afternoon.

U.S. Military Spending

Defense News, America sold $55.6 billion in weapons abroad in FY18 — a 33 percent jump, Aaron Mehta, Oct. 10, 2018. The U.S. inked $55.6 billion in foreign military sales during fiscal year 2018, easily smashing past the previous year’s total — and the Pentagon’s point man for security cooperation expects more in the future.

“This is a 33 percent increase over last year and I’m very optimistic that this positive trajectory will continue,” said Lt. Gen. Charles Hooper, the head of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, during a speech at the AUSA conference. “Our partners know a good thing when they see one.”

Media, Spies, Propaganda

wsj logoWall Street Journal, A Trio of Wealthy Russians Made an Enemy of Putin. Now They’re All Dead, Alan Cullison, Oct. 10, 2018. Nikolai Glushkov, a close associate of the late oligarch Boris Berezovsky, was preparing to testify that Aeroflot was a corrupt instrument of Russian intelligence. Glushkov, a Russian émigré, lived alone in a weather-beaten row house in South London with an aging dog and a cat named Braveheart. It was the waning days of March, and he was readying himself for something big.

The onetime finance director of Russia’s flagship airline, he was preparing for a trial in a London court. He told friends it would prove his innocence of longstanding financial charges by Russian authorities and expose Aeroflot Russian Airlines as a front for Russian security services.

ny times logoNew York Times, David Wise, Journalist Who Exposed C.I.A. Activity, Dies at 88, Katharine Q. Seelye, Oct. 9, 2018. In his nonfiction books, he lifted the veil from espionage’s excesses and misdeeds. David Wise, one of the first journalists to expose the clandestine operations of the Central Intelligence Agency and a standard-setter for investigative reporting into government espionage, died on Monday in Washington. He was 88.

cia logoMr. Wise was the author, with Thomas B. Ross, of “The Invisible Government,” an explosive 1964 exposé of the C.I.A. and its covert operations. To keep its contents from the public, the C.I.A. considered buying up all copies of the book but backed off when the publisher, Random House, made clear that it would simply print more. The C.I.A. obtained an advance version of the book and fought ferociously to censor it. After dropping the idea of buying up all the copies, Mr. Lord said, the agency appointed a task force that recommended that the C.I.A. use “such assets as the Agency may have” to plant bad reviews.

The efforts came to naught. The book became the No. 1 best seller on the Time magazine list and No. 2 on The New York Times list, behind Ernest Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast.” It remained on the Times best-seller list for 22 weeks and was published in eight foreign editions.

Mr. Wise joined the Herald Tribune’s staff in 1951 and later moved to Washington, where he covered politics and the Kennedy White House. He was named Washington bureau chief in 1963 and served in that role until the paper closed in 1966. At that point he devoted himself full time to writing books. Over the next half century, he wrote a trove of nonfiction works that include the stories of America’s most notorious spies — Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen among them. In the telling he revealed details of the government’s bungling and deceptions.

Murder In the Consulate?

jamal khashoggi entering Saudi consulate

Jamal Kashoggi, a dissident Saudi Arabian journalist living in Turkey, is shown entering a Saudi consulate before his disappearance on Oct. 2 and suspected murder.

washington post logoWashington Post, Saudis are said to have lain in wait for Jamal Khashoggi, Loveday Morris, Souad Mekhennet and Kareem Fahim, Oct. 10, 2018 (print edition). A squad of men arrived in Turkey early on Oct. 2 and were in place at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul hours before the journalist went missing, according to two people with knowledge of the probe. By the end of the day, the men had left the country.

Roll Call, Senators Trigger Investigation Into Missing Saudi Journalist Who May Have Been Murdered, Rachel Oswald, Oct 10, 2018. Senators on Wednesday triggered a U.S. government investigation into what happened to a prominent missing Saudi journalist, who is suspected to have been murdered last week in Turkey.

The lawmakers said they expect the investigation to look into the actions of the “highest-ranking officials in the government of Saudi Arabia,” a move that signals lawmakers on both sides of aisle are willing to confront the staunch ally.

The Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Appropriations subcommittee with responsibility for the State Department sent a letter to President Donald Trump that triggered a provision of 2016 Magnitsky human rights law.

That provision requires the president to reach a determination within four months on whether an extrajudicial killing has occurred against any individual who promotes human rights, including through freedom of expression, such as the missing Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, jamal khashoggi western suitshown at right in a file photo. If an assassination is found to have occurred, the law requires the president to decide whether to impose sanctions on any individuals complicit in the death.

In their letter, Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., write that the disappearance of Khashoggi, who has not been seen since last week when he sought a legal document from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, “suggests that he could be a victim of a gross violation of internationally recognized human rights.”

“Therefore, we request that you make a determination on the imposition of sanctions pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act with respect to any foreign person responsible for such a violation related to Mr. Khashoggi,” the senators wrote.

The letter is co-signed by nine Republicans and nine Democrats, including nearly everyone on the Foreign Relations Committee with the exception of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. Paul on Wednesday in a tweet called for ending arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

U.S. Health Care

washington post logoWashington Post, CVS merger with Aetna approved, a deal that could transform the health-care industry, Brian Fung, Oct. 10, 2018. The $69 billion merger could change how millions of Americans receive basic medical services, and allow CVS to turn more of its locations into front-line clinics for patients.

Global Trade Strategies

china shipping line file photo

Chinese container transport vessel (file photo)

SouthFront, China Expands Economic Efforts In Lebanon, Syria: Challenging US Foreign Policy In Region, Staff report, Oct. 10, 2018. On Oct. 9, a new shipping line opened between China and Lebanon’s Tripoli, doubling the volume of products coming from China to the country.

The US and Israel are opposing the establishment of the “Shia Crescent,” with both countries constantly showing aggression towards mostly Lebanon and Iran, but also towards Syria. Simultaneously, however, China is seeking to boost its economic influence in the countries. Thus, the Middle East may soon become another hot point in the US-China conflict. Tensions between the states have been growing quickly since the beginning of the Trump-initiated Trade war.

U.S. Crime, Courts, Suicide

washington post logoWashington Post, An ex-aide charged with stealing $1.2 million of wine from Goldman Sachs CEO leaps 33 floors to his death, Antonia Noori Farzan, Oct. 10, 2018. Nicolas De-Meyer was supposed to appear in federal court in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon.

After spending 14 months flying all over the world, from Rome to Rio de Janeiro, he had landed at Los Angeles International Airport in January and was arrested as soon as he made it off the plane. The 41-year-old had previously spent eight years working as a personal assistant to then-Goldman Sachs president David M. Solomon, now the company’s CEO. During that time, federal prosecutors alleged, he had stolen more than 500 bottles of rare vintage wine, valued at more than $1.2 million, from the executive’s wine cellar in the Hamptons.

Court Sanctions?

Palmer Report, Opinion: Chief Justice John Roberts just sold out Brett Kavanaugh, Bill Palmer, Oct. 10, 2018. Earlier this week we learned that a fellow judge on Brett Kavanaugh’s bench received a number of misconduct claims against Kavanaugh during his confirmation process, and referred those complaints to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who hadn’t taken any action on the matter. But now things have changed in a big way.

At the time the complaints first became public knowledge, various legal observers explained that because the review process is a lengthy one, there was nothing that John Roberts could have done with the complaints that would have had any impact on Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. But, as it turns out, Roberts didn’t simply decide to sit on his hands. He’s posted a public letter referring the complaints about Kavanaugh to the U.S. Court of Appeals. Although the letter doesn’t mention Kavanaugh by name, multiple major news outlets are confirming that Roberts is referring to Kavanaugh in the letter. So what now?

It’s important to keep in mind that John Roberts could have made these complaints go away simply by not referring them, and the odds are that most people would have ended up forgetting about the brief story about the complaints. Instead, by making an official referral, Roberts is opening a de facto misconduct investigation into Brett Kavanaugh, and he’s putting it in the hands of someone who is far removed from the political process that elevated Kavanaugh to begin with. So this is in fact something – even if we don’t yet know quite what it’ll lead to.

Oct. 9

Climate Change

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Coal Is Killing the Planet. Trump Loves It, Editorial Board, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). Scientists issued a new alarm on the devastating impacts of continued burning of fossil fuels. But the Trump E.P.A. keeps propping up coal.

ny times logoNew York Times, Dire Climate Warning Lands With a Thud on Trump’s Desk, Mark Landler and Coral Davenport, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). A day after the United Nations issued its most urgent call to arms yet for the world to confront the threat of climate change, President Trump boarded Air Force One for Florida — a state that lies directly in the path of this coming calamity — and said nothing about it.

UN logoIt was the latest, most vivid example of Mr. Trump’s dissent from an effort that has galvanized much of the world. While the United Nations warned of mass wildfires, food shortages and dying coral reefs as soon as 2040, Mr. Trump discussed his successful Supreme Court battle rather than how rising seawaters are already flooding Miami on sunny days.

The president’s isolation is not just from the world: In California, New York, Massachusetts and other states, governments and companies are pushing ahead with regulations and technological innovations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

GOP Election Scandals

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Campaign Aide Requested Online Manipulation Plans From Israeli Intelligence Firm, Mark Mazzetti, Ronen Bergman, David D. Kirkpatrick and Maggie Haberman, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). A top Trump campaign official requested proposals in 2016 from an Israeli company to create fake online identities, to use social media manipulation and to gather intelligence to help defeat Republican primary race opponents and Hillary Clinton, according to interviews and copies of the proposals.

donald trump mike pence new logoThe Trump campaign’s interest in the work began as Russians were escalating their effort to aid Donald J. Trump. Though the Israeli company’s pitches were narrower than Moscow’s interference campaign and appear unconnected, the documents show that a senior Trump aide saw the promise of a disruption effort to swing voters in Mr. Trump’s favor.

rick gates cropped aug 2018The campaign official, Rick Gates, left, sought one proposal to use bogus personas to target and sway 5,000 delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention by attacking Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Mr. Trump’s main opponent at the time. Gates was Trump-Pence deputy campaign manager under Paul Manafort and like Manafort has pleaded guilty to financial crimes in the probe led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller..

Another proposal describes opposition research and “complementary intelligence activities” about Mrs. Clinton and people close to her, according to copies of the proposals obtained by The New York Times and interviews with four people involved in creating the documents.

U.S. Political Violence

KMTV 3 News (Council Bluffs, Iowa), Emotions boil over after demonstrators stand outside MAC, Staff report, Oct. 9, 2018. For at least three hours, demonstrators holding signs directed at President Donald Trump stood along 23rd Avenue across from the Mid-America Center, where he was speaking at a rally for local Republicans.

Just as the night was ending, emotions boiled over after an elderly protester was allegedly threatened and a daughter feared for her mother's safety. "He grabbed my sign then he grabbed my walker," Evelyn Russel said. "He had it held up over his head like he was going to hit me with it."

Supreme Court Battle

washington post logomitch mcconnell2Washington Post, McConnell signals he would push to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in 2020, Elise Viebeck, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — who blocked President Barack Obama’s 2016 nominee to the Supreme Court for nearly a year amid widespread Democratic objections — signaled Monday that he would help fill a high-court vacancy if one emerges when President Trump is up for re­election in 2020.

Speaking at a news conference in Louisville, McConnell, right, said his decision to block Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, was based on a tradition that opposition parties in control of the Senate do not confirm Supreme Court nominees during presidential election years.

He claimed the precedent only applies when different parties control the Senate and the White House — leaving open the possibility he would help advance a Trump nominee in 2020 if Republicans still hold a majority in the Senate.

Roll Call, Grassley: Judiciary Panel Won’t Consider Supreme Court Nominee for 2020 Vacancy, John T. Bennett, Oct 9, 2018. Declaration could put Iowa Republican at odds with Mitch McConnell.

ny times logoNew York Times, After a Bitter Fight, Justice Kavanaugh to Take the Bench, Adam Liptak, Oct. 9, 2018. Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh will hear his first Supreme Court arguments, all concerning enhanced sentences for gun crimes. None of the three cases raise major constitutional questions or involve pressing social issues.

ny times logoNew York Times, Only 114 people have served on the Supreme Court since it was established in 1789. Here’s how Justice Kavanaugh fits in, Karen Yourish, Sergio, Pecanha and Troy Griggs, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition).  The first Catholic justice, Roger B. Taney, joined the court in 1836 and the first Jewish justice, Louis Brandeis, was seated in 1916. A majority of justices have been Protestant — until recently. The court had its first Catholic majority in 2006, and this will continue with the addition of Justice Kavanaugh.

U.S. Constitutional Protest Rights Under Attack

white house protest ted eytan flickr

White House Protest (File photo by Ted Eytan via Flickr)

American Civil Liberties Union, Trump Administration Seeks to Stifle Protests Near White House and on National Mall, Arthur Spitzer, Oct. 9, 2018. President Trump has a record of attacking the rights of protesters, from suggesting that protest be illegal to praising dictators who crush any kind of dissent.

Now, the Trump administration proposes to dramatically limit the right to demonstrate near the White House and on the National Mall, including in ways that would violate court orders that have stood for decades. The proposal would close 80 percent of the White House sidewalk, put new limits on spontaneous demonstrations, and open the door to charging fees for protesting.

Fee requirements could make mass protests like Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic 1963 March on Washington and its “I have a dream” speech too expensive to happen.The public has until October 15 to comment on the plans, and on Monday, we submitted our formal written comment explaining why the planned changes are unconstitutional.

In 1967, in the middle of the Vietnam War, the federal government tried to impose severe limits on protests near the White House. The ACLU of the District of Columbia sued, and after years of litigation, the courts rebuffed the government’s effort and reminded the National Park Service, which administers these areas, that Lafayette Park is not Yellowstone and that the White House area and the National Mall “constitute a unique [site] for the exercise of First Amendment rights.” Under court orders, the park service issued regulations allowing large demonstrations, guaranteeing quick action on applications for permits, and accommodating spontaneous protests as much as possible.

Closing the White House sidewalk. The park service plans to close 20 feet of the 25-foot-wide White House sidewalk, limiting demonstrators to a 5-foot sliver along Pennsylvania Avenue. This is perhaps the most iconic public forum in America, allowing “We the People” to express our views directly to the chief executive, going back at least to the women’s suffrage movement 100 years ago.

The closure would violate the earlier court order, which permits demonstrations by at least 750 people on the White House sidewalk and declares that any lower limit is “invalid and void as an unconstitutional infringement of plaintiffs’ rights to freedom of speech and to assemble peaceably and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

U.S. Politics / Court / #MeToo

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Seeks to Make Furor a Campaign Asset, Not a Liability, Peter Baker, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). As he prepared to hold a ceremonial swearing-in of Justice Kavanaugh, President Trump dismissed sexual misconduct accusations as “fabricated.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump stokes tensions over Kavanaugh confirmation battle, Ashley Parker and John Wagner, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). At a White House ceremony, President Trump apologized to Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and his family for the “terrible pain and suffering” they endured after his confirmation was marred by accusations of sexual misconduct.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: The Paranoid Style in G.O.P. Politics, Paul Krugman, right, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). Republicans are an authoritarian regime in waiting.

Many people are worried, rightly, about what the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh means for America in the long term. He’s a naked partisan who clearly lied under oath about many aspects of his personal history; that’s as important as, and related to, the question of what he did to Christine Blasey Ford, a question that remains unresolved because the supposed investigation was such a transparent sham. Putting such a man on the Supreme Court has, at a stroke, destroyed the court’s moral authority for the foreseeable future.

But such long-term worries should be a secondary concern right now. The more immediate threat comes from what we saw on the Republican side during and after the hearing: not just contempt for the truth, but also a rush to demonize any and all criticism. In particular, the readiness with which senior Republicans embraced crazy conspiracy theories about the opposition to Kavanaugh is a deeply scary warning about what might happen to America, not in the long run, but just a few weeks from now.

jacob hornberger headshotFuture of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: Christine Ford’s Corroborating Evidence, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Oct. 9, 2018. Throughout the controversy over the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, some people were saying that Christine Blasey Ford did not produce “corroborating evidence” to support her accusation that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers. Therefore, since Kavanaugh was denying that he committed the assault, the argument went, he should be given the benefit of the doubt in what seemed to be a “he-said, she-said” controversy.

But actually Ford did provide corroborating evidence to support the accusation she leveled at Kavanaugh, very powerful corroborating evidence, evidence that was largely ignored by the Senate Judiciary Committee, especially in the haste by Republican committee members to get the controversy over with by rushing to a quick confirmation vote.

Part of the problem, of course, lies in how some people perceive the term “corroborating evidence.” For many who aren’t lawyers, the term means eyewitnesses to the incident in question. What such people fail to realize, however, is that the law provides that there can be corroborative evidence that does not consist of eyewitness testimony.

One thing is for sure though: Contrary to popular opinion, Christine Blasey Ford did provide corroborating evidence to the U.S. Senate that buttressed her accusation against Brett Kavanaugh — powerful corroborating evidence in the form of prior consistent statements that were previously made to several different people and all of which statements were made long before Kavanaugh was even nominated.

brett kavanaugh protest sign veronica monet dcma

Anti-Kavanaugh protester in front of the U.S. Capitol (Veronica Monet photo via DCMA)

OpEdNews, Opinion: The Cultural Conflict of the Century: Conservative Politics and the #MeToo Backlash, Veronica Monet, Oct. 9, 2018. Many of us were horrified to witness how the Republican controlled Senate dealt with Dr. Ford's claims of sexual assault during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. Some of us were shocked by the "boys will be boys" and "it's in the past so why talk about it now" assertions from those conservatives who unapologetically stood by their man, Brett Kavanaugh.

As important as Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court was, could it be that we are in the midst of a cultural war that transcends the Supreme Court confirmation hearings in its scope and implications? Might his confirmation be seen as a backlash against the #MeToo movement? Might we be in the midst of an epic conflict between old cultural belief systems and a newly emerging cultural paradigm?

Kavanaugh played by the rules of the conservative culture he ascribes to. According to those rules, male emotions other than anger and self-righteous indignation are a liability and even a self-centered indulgence. There is little empathy for the suffering of self or of others and a lot of disdain for anyone who "breaks the rules."

Trump Finance Probes

washington post logoWashington Post, After his father’s death, Trump took unorthodox approach to expand empire, David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). After his late father Fred’s real estate empire was sold off in 2004, Donald Trump embarked on a decade-long buying spree fueled by $400 million in cash and loans from the private banking office of Deutsche Bank, records show.

In 2005, Donald Trump kicked off a decade-long buying and spending spree, vastly expanding his hotel and golf-course empire and cementing his image as a brash impresario.

The un­or­tho­dox approach Trump took in making those bold bets — racing through hundreds of millions in cash and drawing loans from the private-wealth office of Deutsche Bank — came when he was on new terrain as a developer.

For the first time, he was operating without the safety net of his late father Fred’s real estate empire, which had been sold off in 2004, according to a New York Times investigation published last week.

More On Murder By Saudis?

washington post logoWashington Post, Missing Saudi journalist’s fiancee demands to know: ‘Where is Jamal?’ Souad Mekhennet and Loveday Morris, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). It has been nearly a week since Hatice Cengiz last saw Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist who was critical of the Saudi government and the man she planned to marry. She has not been told whether he is alive after he visited the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to finalize papers for their wedding.

Fascist In Brazil?

jair bolsonaro brazilConsortium News, Opinion: Future of Western Democracy Being Played Out in Brazil, Pepe Escobar, Oct. 9, 2018. Stripped to its essence, the Brazilian presidential elections represent a direct clash between democracy and an early 21st Century neofascism, indeed between civilization and barbarism.

Jair Bolsonaro, an outright supporter of Brazilian military dictatorships of last century, who has been normalized as the “extreme-right candidate,” won the first round of the presidential elections on Sunday with more than 49 million votes. That was 46 percent of the total, just shy of a majority needed for an outright win. This in itself is a jaw-dropping development.

brazil flag wavingBrazil has 42 million evangelicals – and over 200 representatives in both branches of Parliament. Don’t mess with their jihad. They know how to exercise massive appeal among the beggars at the neoliberal banquet. The Lula Left simply didn’t know how to seduce them.

It’s no secret that Steve Bannon is advising the Bolsonaro campaign in Brazil. One of Bolsonaro’s sons, Eduardo, met with Bannon in New York two months ago after which the Bolsonaro camp decided to profit from Bannon’s supposed “peerless” social engineering insights. A specter haunts Europe. Its name is Steve Bannon. The specter has moved on to the tropics.

Inside Trump Administration

nikki haley aipac

washington post logoWashington Post, Haley to depart as U.N. ambassador at year’s end, John Wagner, Carol Morello and Anne Gearan​, Oct. 9, 2018. President Trump said Nikki Haley (shown above at an AIPAC meeting) first told him months ago that she would like to “take a little time off” at the end of this year. Haley, a former governor of South Carolina who has been a fierce advocate of the Trump administration’s policies, dismissed speculation that she might challenge Trump in 2020.

UN logoHaley had an increasingly diminished role in the Trump Cabinet as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo filled the vacuum left by his predecessor, Rex Tillerson, whose camera-shy demeanor had allowed Haley to be the voice of U.S. foreign policy in the first year of the Trump administration.

Media News

Vanity Fair, “She Gets to Move to L.A.”: The Backstory of Hope Hicks’s Bolt to Fox on the West Coast, Gabriel Sherman, Oct. 9, 2018. Trump and Jared Kushner lobbied Rupert Murdoch to hire Hicks as chief communications officer—a big job, but still in the family.

hope hicks strategic communications directorIn the American mind, California has been a place of fresh starts and re-invention. So it makes sense that Hope Hicks is heading west to serve as chief communications officer for “New Fox,” the parent company of Fox News, based in Los Angeles. Hicks, a 29-year-old former P.R. flack, had experienced a difficult time in New York after exiting Donald Trump’s White House at the end of March.

rnc logoShe was hounded by paparazzi, who photographed her jogging in Central Park with Rob Porter, her West Wing office romance, who left the White House after allegations of spousal abuse surfaced (Porter denied it). And she’s also had to spend time and six figures on legal fees, (apparently funded by the Republican National Committee), dealing with Robert Mueller’s investigation. The opportunity to work for the Murdochs on another coast would be a chance for a reset.

It’s unclear what this means for her relationship with Porter, who’s so far been unable to find a job, a former West Wing colleague told me. “It’s a big job. Plus she gets to move to L.A.,” a friend said. Although, of course, since she’s working for Fox, which often works for Trump, it’s in another sense not a fresh start at all.

Oct. 8

Supreme Court Swearing-in

djt brett kavanaugh anthony kennedy oct 8 2018 white house

Retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, right, ceremonially swears-in Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, as President Donald Trump looks on, in the East Room of the White House, Oct. 8, 2018. Susan Walsh / AP

abc news logoABC News, Trump apologizes 'on behalf of the nation' to Kavanaugh during swearing-in, claims he was 'proven innocent,' Adam Kelsey and Meridith McGraw, Oct. 8, 2018. President Donald Trump apologized to incoming Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh Monday evening "for the terrible pain and suffering" that he and his family endured during his confirmation process, going so far as to claim that Kavanaugh was "proven innocent" of the sexual assault allegations made against him.

Trump's comments, which he acknowledged as outside of the norm just prior to making them, came at a ceremonial swearing-in event for Kavanaugh in the East Room of the White House, two days after Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate and formally sworn-in as a member of the court by Chief Justice John Roberts.

"On behalf of the nation, I'd like to apologize to Brad and the entire a Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you've been forced to endure," Trump said. "Those who stepped forward to serve our country deserve a fair and dignified evaluation. Not a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception."

Trump addressed the controversy head-on characterizing the heated political debate over sexual assault allegations leveled against Kavanaugh by California professor Christine Blasey Ford and several other women as "violat[ing] every notion of fairness, decency and due process."

"[In] our country, a man or a woman must always be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty," the president continued. "And with that, I must state that you, sir, under historic scrutiny, were proven innocent."

nbc news logoNBC News, Hillary Clinton calls Kavanaugh's ceremonial swearing-in a 'political rally,' Adam Edelman, Oct. 9, 2018. Trump's remarks at the White House event "further undermined the image and integrity of the court," the former secretary of state said.

Hillary Clinton on Tuesday ripped President Donald Trump’s unusual handling of the ceremonial swearing-in for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, calling the display a "political rally" that "further undermined the image and integrity of the court."

hillary clinton gage skidmore peoria azIn an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, parts of which aired Tuesday morning on the network, Clinton (shown in a file photo by Gage Skidmore) said that the way Trump carried out the event "troubles me greatly."

"What was done last night in the White House was a political rally. It further undermined the image and integrity of the court," Clinton said, "and that troubles me greatly. It saddens me because our judicial system has been viewed as one of the main pillars of our constitutional government."

"So I don't know how people are going to react to it. I think given our divides it will pretty much fall predictably between those who are for and those who are against," she added, calling Trump “true to form.”

"He has insulted, attacked, demeaned women throughout the campaign. Really for many years leading up to the campaign — and he's continued to do that inside the White House," Clinton said.

Trump responded on Tuesday to Clinton's comments, saying, "I guess that's why she lost. She never got it."

GOP Election Scandals

brett kavanaugh election fraud wmr graphic

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Exclusive Investigative Commentary: Bush backed Kavanaugh to keep election thefts of 2000 and 2004 a secret, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 8, 2018 (Subscription required, $30 annually; excerpted with permission.)

karl rove HR"Bush White House aides Brett Kavanaugh and Karl Rove, left, closely coordinated their election fraud operations with two experienced Washington campaign advisers for Republican candidates, Rick Davis, and Davis's partner, Paul Manafort."

wayne madsen trumps bananas coverNote: Former Navy intelligence officer, NSA analyst and defense contractor computer scientist Wayne Madsen for many years has exposed techniques to rig U.S. and international elections, electronically and by other methods. He is the author of 16 books, including the just-published "Trump's Bananas Republic," which portrays administration scandals through the lens of iconic Hollywood movies.

SCOTUSblog, Court stays out of North Dakota voting dispute, Amy Howe, Oct. 9, 2018. The Supreme Court today declined to intervene in a challenge to a North Dakota law that requires voters to present identification that includes a current residential street address. Lawyers say that the ruling will prevent thousands of Native American voters (and tens of thousands of North Dakota residents who are not Native Americans) from casting a ballot in the upcoming 2018 election in a state that could play a key role in Democrats’ efforts to retake the U.S. Senate.

A group of Native American voters in North Dakota have challenged the law, telling the courts that the requirement that voters present identification bearing a street address could pose an obstacle to voting for Native Americans in several ways. Native Americans often live on reservations or in other rural areas where people do not have street addresses; even if they do, lawyers for the challengers argue, those addresses are frequently not included on tribal IDs. Moreover, the lawyers add, Native Americans in North Dakota are “disproportionately homeless.”

In April, a federal district court in North Dakota ordered the state to allow voters to cast ballots as long as they could show IDs that had either a current street address or a current mailing address, such as a P.O. box. The state followed that order in the June primaries, but in September the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit put the district court’s order on hold.

The challengers’ request went originally to Justice Neil Gorsuch, who handles emergency appeals from the 8th Circuit, but he referred it to the full Supreme Court — a fairly common practice. To stay the 8th Circuit’s ruling and prevent the state from enforcing the ID requirement, the challengers needed at least five of the eight justices (Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not participate) to vote in their favor.

But they apparently fell short. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented from the court’s decision not to intervene, in a brief opinion that was joined by Justice Elena Kagan. Ginsburg complained that the “risk of voter confusion appears severe here because the injunction against requiring residential-address identification was in force during the primary election and because the Secretary of State’s website announced for months the identification requirements as they existed under that injunction.”

Ginsburg acknowledged that, as the 8th Circuit had emphasized, the elections are still a month away. However, Ginsburg stressed, tens of thousands of North Dakotans don’t have an ID bearing their residential street address. As a result, she warned, the 8th Circuit’s order “may lead to voters finding out at the polling place that they cannot vote because their formerly valid ID is now insufficient.”

Climate Change

washington post logoWashington Post, World has just over a decade to get control of climate change, U.N. scientists say, Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis. Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). “There is no documented historic precedent" for the scale of changes required, the body found.

The report warns of dire consequences if nations do not cut their carbon emissions by more than 1 billion tons per year, a figure that is larger than the annual emissions of nearly every country on the planet.

Time Magazine, Opinion: The U.N.'s Climate Report Exposes How Badly Wrong Leaders Like Trump Have Got Climate Change, Ban Ki-moon (Eighth U.N. Secretary General, serving time logo ogfrom 2007-2016 and now a member of The Elders, a global leaders' group), Oct. 8, 2018. Climate change is a global challenge demanding global solutions. No one country can face it alone, no matter that nation’s political, economic or military might. From the richest to the poorest, we all share one planet, and we all have a stake in its survival.

This is why the latest report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes for such alarming reading and demands immediate, concerted action from everyone — particularly our leaders.

UN logoThe report sets out starkly that, without a rapid change of course, global temperatures will rise above the 1.5°C level that scientists view as the bare minimum to avert catastrophic climate change, including rising sea waters, desertification and droughts.

This change will not happen, however, unless leaders in politics and business put their money where their mouth is and finally deliver the billions of dollars needed to make the transition to a green economy.

Supreme Court Battle

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We need to stay angry about Kavanaugh, E.J. Dionne Jr., Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). But even more, we need to vote, organize and think boldly after this travesty.

Republicans rushed through Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation to avoid the possible consequences of an election. They aborted a full investigation because they feared what it might find. They made themselves complicit in a presidential attack on Christine Blasey Ford, a brave woman who asked only that her case against Kavanaugh be taken seriously.

After all these outrages, there will be calls for a renewal of civility, as if the problem is that people said nasty things about one other. But the answer to this power grab cannot be passive acceptance in the name of being polite. The causes and consequences of what just happened must be acknowledged frankly.

brett kavanaugh.judgeLThe conservative struggle for the court began in the 1960s, but it hit its stride in the Bush v. Gore decision after after the 2000 election. Five conservative justices violated the principles they claimed to uphold on states’ rights and the use of equal-protection doctrine to stop a recount of votes in Florida requested by Al Gore, the Democratic nominee. They thus made George W. Bush president.

The pro-Bush justices made abundantly clear that they were grasping at any arguments available to achieve a certain outcome by declaring, “our consideration is limited to the present circumstances.” Translation: Once Bush is in, please forget what we said here.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justices move to repair Supreme Court’s image after fight over Kavanaugh, Robert Barnes, Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). As Brett M. Kavanaugh prepared for his debut on the high court, his colleagues already had moved quickly to paper over the damage from the bitter and tumultuous confirmation battle.

U.S. Politics / Elections

Palast confronts GOP candidate for Governor of Georgia Brian Kemp outside the Sprayberry Barbecue in Newman, Georgia, asking, “Mr. Kemp are you removing Black voters from the voter rolls just so you can win this election?” Video still: David Ambrose, Palast Investigative Fund.

Truthout, First Person Investigation: GOP’s Brian Kemp Purged 1 in 10 Georgia Voters: I’ve Got the Names, Greg Palast, Oct. 8, 2018. My lawyer had to threaten Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp with a federal lawsuit to force him to turn over the names of over half a million voters whose citizenship rights he quietly extinguished.

This past week, I released the name of every one of these Georgia voters Kemp flushed from voter rolls in 2017. If you’re a Georgia resident, check the list. If your name is on it, re-register right now. You only have through tomorrow (October 9).

It’s no coincidence that Georgia’s Purge’n General is also running for Governor: The Republican candidate is fighting a dead-even race against Stacey Abrams, Democratic House Minority Leader. Abrams, if she wins, would become the first Black woman governor in US history.

Suspiciously, Kemp sent no notice to these citizens after he took away their voting rights. If they show up to vote on November 6, they’re out of luck — and so is Georgia’s democracy.

I brought in one of the nation’s top mailing database experts, Mark Swedlund, and his team to go through the list, name by name. Among the voters purged are thousands who supposedly left the state but remain in Georgia. Thousands more are people who moved from one end of town to another and lost their vote — and we even found one who simply moved from one apartment to another in the same building.

These registration cancellations are therefore dead wrong and, say voting law experts, coldly break the law.

That is why Gerald Griggs, counsel for the Atlanta NAACP, and voting rights attorney Nse Ufot, executive director of the New Georgia Project (a nonpartisan voter registration initiative), are joining in my suit against Kemp.

We’ll be hauling Kemp into federal court to force him to open the records to which the public is entitled under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 — provisions meant to prevent just this type of voter roll shenanigan. In particular, we’re forcing him to disclose the complete detailed process that led to each voter’s removal.

I don’t file federal suits on a whim. Kemp has continually turned down legitimate Open Records Act requests over my five years of investigation for Al Jazeera and Rolling Stone.

washington post logodemocratic donkey logoWashington Post, Democrats have narrow edge in battleground House districts, survey finds, Scott Clement and Dan Balz, Oct. 8, 2018. With just a month to the midterm elections, the Washington Post-Schar School poll highlights the challenge for Republicans as they seek to maintain their House majority.

Politics / Pop Culture

washington post logotaylor swift reputation cover customWashington Post, Taylor Swift’s stunning statement: Famously apolitical star slams Tennessee Republican, endorses Democrats, Emily Yahr, Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). In a stunning turnaround from her refusal to discuss anything related to politics, Taylor Swift, right, revealed whom she’s voting for in the 2018 midterms.

The pop megastar, who just wrapped up a 40-date stadium tour across the country, posted a long Instagram caption Sunday night. In it, Swift, who is registered to vote in Tennessee, gave a detailed explanation about why she’s voting for Democrats Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for the House.

Swift also slammed Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), writing, “Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me.”

democratic donkey logo“In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now,” Swift wrote to her 112 million Instagram followers. “I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country.”

Inside Washington

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We’re paying too little attention to this endangered and essential national resource, Fred Hiatt (Editorial page editor), Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). Stop kicking the federal workforce.

Last week, the risk to a precious national institution — to its quality and its independence and sheer ability to function — came into sharp focus. The week ended with President Trump abruptly replacing the well-qualified head of the Office of Personnel Management, a reminder of the dangers facing the civil service — dangers that have been building for decades and have sharply intensified in the Trump era.

Cancer Health: New Meaning For 'Red State'

yale study rates of cancer death us fall 2018

Geographic rates of cancer death in all U.S. counties. The greatest cluster of high cancer death rates are in the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi, with other pockets in Nevada, Maine, Michigan, and throughout the rest of the country. Geographic variation in rates of cancer death in all U.S. counties. Red shows highest number of deaths per 100,000 persons.

Yale News, Cancer death disparities linked to poverty, lifestyle factors nationwide, Ziba Kashef, Oct. 5, 2018. Yale researchers have identified factors that may contribute to widening cancer death dispari