August 2019 News

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Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative August 2019 news and views

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

 

Aug. 31

Opioid Deal

washington post logopurdue pharma logoWashington Post, Sacklers could hold on to most of personal fortune in proposed Purdue opioid settlement, Lenny Bernstein, Aaron C. Davis, Christopher Rowland and Renae Merle​, Aug. 31, 2019. But the agreement with the Sackler-owned Purdue Pharma would offer cities and states urgently needed cash and addiction medicines to address the opioid crisis.

Inside Trump World

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: How a Trump Tax Break for Poor Areas Became a Bonanza for the Rich, Jesse Drucker and Eric Lipton, Aug. 31, 2019. Opportunity zones were created as part of the Trump tax law to lure investment to distressed areas. But much of the money is fueling development in areas that are already affluent.

President Trump has portrayed America’s cities as wastelands, ravaged by crime and homelessness, infested by rats. But the Trump administration’s signature plan to lift them — a multibillion-dollar tax break that is supposed to help low-income areas — has fueled a wave of developments financed by and built for the wealthiest Americans.

Among the early beneficiaries of the tax incentive are billionaire financiers like Leon Cooperman and business magnates like Sidney Kohl — and Mr. Trump’s family members and advisers.

jared kushner head shotFormer Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey; Richard LeFrak, a New York real estate titan who is close to the president; Anthony Scaramucci, a former White House aide who recently had a falling out with Mr. Trump; and the family of Jared Kushner, right, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, all are looking to profit from what is shaping up to be a once-in-a-generation bonanza for elite investors.

  • These are the Trump associates benefiting from the tax break, Aug. 31, 2019.

washington post logoWashington Post, Bolton sidelined in Afghanistan policy as his standing with Trump falters, John Hudson and Josh Dawsey, Aug. 31, 2019 (print ed.). The national security adviser’s absence on the issue has raised questions about his influence.

john bolton screengrab rt genevaThe sidelining of John Bolton, left, has raised questions about his influence in an administration that is seeking a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, as well as an ambitious nuclear deal with North Korea and potential engagement with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Bolton, U.S. officials said, stands in opposition to those efforts, but he does so increasingly from the periphery.

• Taliban attacks key Afghan city as talks with U.S. continue

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Two-Pronged Crisis of Democracy, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Aug. 31, 2019 (74:27 min. audio). This is a very dangerous situation. In Britain, we have coming webster tarpley 2007up the decision on whether an 800-year tradition of Parliament lives or dies. If it doesn't hold up, ladies and gentlemen, you may have a fascist dictatorship.

If Trump sees his little friend Bojo [UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson] get away with trampling on the Parliament and donig things that should only be done by constitutional amendemtnt he made be tempted to imitate it.

We've been trying to illustrate all summer the crimes of Trump. We've had the testimony of Congressman Walsh. We're very much aware of his past crimes. The whole point of getting rid of a fascist regime is you can't be too picky about who you regard as an ally or even an "associate."

The quote from Scaramucci: "I don't think Trump is in early stage dementia. I think he's in early stage fascism." That's a direct quote from Scaramucci (financier and former Trump White House Communications Director) on CNN. We now have the testimony from Mattis. Mattis apparentl, he's somewhat evasive in the syntax but it's something like Trump is a person of limited cognitive ability and of bad character. That covers a multitude of sins.

sheldon whitehouseThe struggle in our country is going to get going again in the next week or so as the the House of Representative, comes back into session.

We will be saying a few things about the Supreme Court. We have the very interesting friend of the court letter [Washington Post, Democrats ignite controversy with brief in gun case before Supreme Court, Aug. 16, 2019] coming from Sen. Whitehouse of Rhode Island, left, and a group of other Democratic senators -- and they are warning the Supreme Court that the racket, the constitutional abuse, the crimes against the state would merit impeachment.

So they have done what I regard as a landmark document coming from senators about the excesses, really the crimes, of the Roberts court, the infamous 5-4 decisions, always partisan, always helping the monied interests. If you constantly legislate from the bench...you can't imagine that 330 million people are going to sit still for a series of reactionary and destructive decisions made by a bunch of, what?, puppets of these reactionary groups.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump pledged not to use his office to help his business. Then he pitched his club for the next G-7, Jonathan O'Connell, Joshua Partlow and David A. Fahrenthold​, Aug. 31, 2019. Mixing business with government is a line "that we would never cross,” his son said in 2017. Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)But the president has routinely crossed that line, most notably when he said he may award next year’s Group of Seven summit to his company’s Doral, Fla., golf resort — a plan that would direct millions to benefit his own business.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s tariffs on shoes, TVs, diapers and other Chinese-made products take effect tonight, David J. Lynch, Aug. 31, 2019. After being insulated from early rounds of import taxes, back-to-school shoppers will join the ranks of those feeling the tariffs’ pinch.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Michael Cohen is about to get his revenge on Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Aug. 31, 2019. Considering that Michael Cohen is currently in prison for crimes he helped Donald Trump commit, even as Donald Trump still roams free, Cohen won’t fully get his revenge until Trump is in prison. That’s coming. In the meantime, Cohen is aiming for something he can make happen much sooner, and thanks to a court ruling, it looks like he’s going to get it.

michael cohen ap file croppedMichael Cohen, right, has been trying to convince the courts to force Donald Trump to pay for Cohen’s legal bills. Cohen says that Trump originally agreed to do so, before ultimately refusing to pay up (sound familiar?). Yesterday the courts declined to order Trump to pay Cohen, but did grant Cohen the power to gather additional evidence to make his case that Trump really did agree to pay up. That’s where things get interesting.

bill palmer report logo headerCohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis explained it this way on Twitter: “Michael Cohen’s legal victory over Donald Trump in Thursday’s NY State Supreme Court decision. Cohen can subpoena Trump to testify to prove case that Trump owes him legal fees – if Trump refuses, Cohen can obtain ‘default judgment’ and seize Trump assets to pay off debt.”

So now we’re looking at the very real possibility of Donald Trump being forced to testify about this while he’s still president, and if Trump refuses to do so, then Michael Cohen gets to start picking off Trump’s assets. Because this battle is playing out in state court, there is nothing that Trump or his compromised Department of Justice can do to sabotage the process.

Hong Kong Protests

washington post logoWashington Post, Hong Kong protesters take to streets in defiance of arrests, ban on rally, Shibani Mahtani and Timothy McLaughlin​, Aug. 31, 2019. Despite a widening crackdown, tens of thousands turned up for street demonstrations that quickly turned violent, with protesters throwing petrol bombs and shining lasers at police wielding tear gas and water cannons.

Protesters hurled firebombs and set blazes Saturday across Hong Kong as they defied warnings to stay off the streets on a key pro-democracy anniversary — touching off some of the most dramatic clashes during 13 weeks of unrest over Beijing’s influence on the territory.

Parts of central Hong Kong were thick with smoke after piles of rubbish and debris used to block advancing police were set ablaze by protesters. Some demonstrators armed themselves with metal poles and hammers and carried makeshift shields for protection.

Another Mass  Shooting

washington post logoWashington Post, At least 5 killed, 21 hurt in Texas shooting, Wesley Lowery​, Aug. 31, 2019. The attack began at a traffic stop, said police in Odessa, Tex. The suspect, who was later killed, opened fire after being pulled over and then hijacked a post office truck and began randomly shooting at drivers and pedestrians, officials said.

This is the second mass shooting in Texas this month. A few weeks ago, a gunman opened fire on a Walmart in El Paso, killing 22 people and wounding a dozen more. In a missive, the gunman said he was targeting Hispanic people.

Hurricane Dorian

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Extremely dangerous’ Hurricane Dorian barrels toward Southeast U.S., Jason Samenow​, Aug. 31, 2019. The forecasts for the powerful Category 4 storm have shifted, increasing the possibility of landfall in the Carolinas instead of Florida. Even so, the National Hurricane Center is urging Floridians not to let their guard down.

• Bahamians prepare for Dorian; some evacuate ahead of hurricane’s arrival

Sirhan Stabbed In Custody

Los Angeles Times, Sirhan Sirhan is reportedly stabbed at prison in San Diego, Teri Figueroa, Aug. 31, 2019 (print ed.). Sirhan Sirhan, who is serving a life sentence for the 1968 assassination sirhan sirhan 2016of Robert F. Kennedy, was reportedly stabbed Friday in a San Diego-area prison. TMZ and NBC7, both citing unnamed sources, reported that the 75-year-old inmate had been stabbed at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in Otay Mesa.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation issued a statement Friday confirming that an inmate had been assaulted, but the agency would not say whether the victim was Sirhan Sirhan (shown in a 2016 prisoner photo).

According to the statement from state prison officials, a Donovan inmate was assaulted at 2:21 p.m.

“Officers responded quickly, and found an inmate with stab wound injuries,” the department said. “He was transported to an outside hospital for medical care, and is currently in stable condition.”

Sirhan Sirhan“The suspect in the attack has been identified, and has [been] placed in the prison’s Administrative Segregation Unit, pending an investigation.”

According to Cal Fire spokesman Capt. Thomas Shoots, medics responded to a reported stabbing — the person was bleeding from the neck — just before 2:25 p.m. Friday. He said the person, whose identity he could not release, was taken by ambulance to a hospital shortly before 2:50 p.m.

Sirhan Sirhan is shown after his arrest. Kennedy, seeking the Democratic nomination for president, was shot and gravely wounded shortly after midnight June 5, 1968, after speaking to supporters at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

Sirhan, then 24, was subdued at the scene. Kennedy, 42, died early the next day. Online Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation records state that the inmate, whose full name is Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, has been up for parole numerous times. His next hearing is slated for February 2021.

Reaction By Sirhan Experts

Sirhan's lead counsel, Dr. William F. Pepper, one of a number of experts who has become convinced of his innocence in firing fatal bullets at Kennedy, commented on the stabbing by william pepper headshotnoting the 213-page petition that he filed in 2017 on Sirhan's behalf seeking the first evidentiary hearing in the case that would evaluate ballistic and other forensic evidence. Pepper is shown at right in a file photo.

Sirhan's original lawyer — whose independence was compromised by secret felony case that authorities brought in an unrelated matter, with charges dismissed after Sirhan's conviction — conceded Sirhan's guilt in the defendant's 1969 trial. The defense counsel failed to argue to the jury, for example, the corner / medical examiner's report that Kennedy was killed from the rear whereas Sirhan was in front of the late senator, according to witnesses. A recent quotation from that medical examiner, the still-living Dr. Thomas Noguchi, is shown above.

Pepper, who had been a county campaign chairman and friend to Kennedy in the 1960s and went on to a legal career that has included teaching human rights law for years at Oxford University in England, filed the 2017 petition on Sirhan's to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a body within the Organization of American lisa pease rfk coverStates.

"I believe," Pepper commented on Saturday, 'that it is no coincidence that Sirhan has received a potentially fatal attack at a time when the IACHR is being oas sealcompelled to consider granting an evidentiary hearing, which could, finally, establish his innocence of the assassination of Senator Kennedy."

IACHR has not yet set a hearing on the petition despite numerous inquiries by Pepper and this editor, who collaborated on a 2018 Consortium News column about the case, OAS Facing Call for New Probe into RFK Murder. Here is a link to the filing.

In a separate comment on Saturday, author Lisa Pease urged the public to sign a petition to California Gov. Gavin Newsom to freehan. "We'd all love a new court proceeding," she wrote. "But he just wants to go home." The Change.org petition is here.

Aug. 30

Justice Probe Of Comey Memos

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The DOJ’s inspector general buries the real news, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 30, 2019 (p[rint ed.). With William P. Barr as President Trump’s attorney general, one jennifer rubin new headshotmust always keep in mind that everything out of this Justice Department will be spun, shaded or, in the case of Robert S. Mueller III’s report, misrepresented with the sole purpose of exonerating Trump of any malfeasance and attacking his political opponents.

Unfortunately, the media, as it did with Barr’s letter and Justice Department log circularnews conference about the Mueller report, too often accepts the spin without examining the underlying documents.

That seems to be what is happening with the newly released inspector general’s report examining former FBI director James B. Comey’s release of memos documenting Trump’s attempt to secure his personal loyalty and to go easy on Trump’s fired ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn. At the time, Trump accused Comey of breaking the law.

He tweeted: “James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!” Trump’s minions in the right-wing media ran with it. The problem is that it was false.

james comey fbi recent photo

washington post logoWashington Post, Comey violated policies in handling memos on interactions with Trump, inspector general finds, Matt Zapotosky, Aug. 29, 2019. The former FBI director (shown above in a file photo) was found to have broken the bureau’s rules, but prosecutors declined to pursue a criminal case.

FBI logoFormer FBI Director James B. Comey violated FBI policies in how he handled memos that detailed his controversial interactions with President Trump, setting a “dangerous example” for bureau employees about substituting personal righteousness for established rules, the Justice Department’s internal watchdog found in a report released Thursday.

michael horowitz CustomThe report is the second time Inspector General Michael Horowitz, left, has criticized Comey for how he handled FBI business during his abbreviated tenure in charge of the bureau. Last summer, Horowitz lambasted Comey for his leadership of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state, accusing him of insubordination and flouting Justice Department policies in deciding only he had the authority and credibility to make key decisions on the case and speak about it publicly.

Comey told investigators he felt the memos were personal, and that he was acting in the best interests of the country. But the inspector general rejected that defense, writing that Comey’s senior FBI leaders all agreed the memos were government documents, and that the former director’s “own, personal conception of James Comeywhat was necessary was not an appropriate basis for ignoring the policies and agreements governing the use of FBI records.”

On Twitter, Comey, right, noted that the inspector general found “no evidence” that he or his attorneys released any classified information to the media.

“I don’t need a public apology from those who defamed me, but a quick message with a ‘sorry we lied about you’ would be nice,” he wrote. “And to all those who’ve spent two years talking about me ‘going to jail’ or being a ‘liar and a leaker’ — ask yourselves why you still trust people who gave you bad info for so long, including the president.”

Brit Brexit Chaos?

washington post logoWashington Post, Allies of Johnson resign amid outrage over suspension of Parliament, Karla Adam and Michael Birnbaum​, Aug. 30, 2019 (print ed.). Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced defections from senior Conservatives in a sign of rising worry that the move to suspend Parliament was sidelining elected representatives during a crisis. British Prime Minister boris johnson july 2015Boris Johnson faced defections from senior allies Thursday as a backlash built and opponents planned legal challenges to his decision to suspend Parliament to push his Brexit plans.

The resignation of Ruth Davidson, who had been touted as a future prime minister, along with another senior Conservative in the House of Lords, was a sign of rising worry within Johnson’s ranks that the move to suspend Parliament was sidelining Britain’s elected representatives during one of the biggest political crises in generations.

Elsewhere in Europe, policymakers were jolted by the move to suspend Parliament for five weeks, which some of them said brought Britain closer to a sudden, cliff-edge Brexit that analysts say could spark food and medicine shortages.

jeremy corbynLabour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, left, said that when Parliament reconvenes after summer break Tuesday, he would move immediately to pass european union logo rectanglelegislation to keep the chamber open and to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

“We will be back in Parliament on Tuesday to challenge Boris Johnson on what I think is a smash-and-grab raid against our democracy,” he told Sky News.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Historical commentary: Democratic institutions under assault on both sides of the Atlantic, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 30, 2019 (subscription required). Unelected British Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s move to prorogue Parliament, a decision that received pro forma royal assent from Queen Elizabeth II, is the first such move since King Charles I shut down Parliament in 1629.

What should concern the UK Parliament and U.S. Congress is that Donald Trump has tweeted his support for Johnson's suspension of Parliament, a clear declaration that Trump holds representative government in contempt. Trump's support for Johnson's un-democratic action sends a clear signal to dictators and would-be dictators around the world that Trump has their backs.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-prime minister joins bid to derail Boris Johnson’s shuttering of Parliament amid Brexit crisis, Karla Adam and Michael Birnbaum, Aug. 30, 2019. Former prime minister John Major's decision is akin to a former Republican president mounting a high-profile legal assault on the decisions of a sitting one.

united kingdom flagThe former Conservative leader announced he would take on his successor, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who announced the controversial decision to shutter Parliament for over a month in the middle of one of Britain’s biggest political crises in generations. If Britain leaves the European Union with no transitional deal to cushion its path, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other institutions have predicted economic chaos.
• Analysis: Boris Johnson is taking British democracy to the brink

U.S. Justice System

ny times logoNew York Times, Sick Migrants Undergoing Lifesaving Care Can Now Be Deported, Miriam Jordan and Caitlin Dickerson, Aug. 30, 2019 (print ed.). Maria Isabel Bueso was 7 years old when she came to the United States from Guatemala at the invitation of doctors who were conducting a clinical trial for the treatment of her rare, disfiguring genetic disease. The trial was short on participants, and thanks to her enrollment, it eventually led the Food and Drug Administration to approve a medication for the condition that has increased survival by more than a decade.

Now 24, Ms. Bueso, who had been told she likely would not live past adolescence, has participated in several medical studies. She has won awards for her advocacy on behalf of people with rare diseases, appearing before lawmakers in Washington and in Sacramento. Over the years, her parents have paid for the treatment that keeps her alive with private medical insurance.

Without any public announcement, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services eliminated a “deferred action” program this month that had allowed immigrants like Ms. Bueso to avoid deportation while they or their relatives were undergoing lifesaving medical treatment. The agency said that it received 1,000 deferred-action applications related to medical issues each year.

jack ruby shoots oswald

Detective James R. Leavelle, left, glowered as Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald at a police station basement in Dallas on Nov. 24, 1963.CreditCreditBob Jackson/Dallas Times-Herald, via Associated Press

ny times logoNew York Times, James Leavelle, Detective at Lee Harvey Oswald’s Side, Dies at 99, Ralph Blumenthal, Aug. 30, 2019 (print ed.). Mr. Leavelle’s reaction to Lee Harvey Oswald’s shooting by Jack Ruby in 1963 was captured in an indelible photograph that won the Pulitzer Prize.

James R. Leavelle, the big man in the white Stetson who epitomized the horrors of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in one of the most famous photographs of all time — the killing of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby — died on Thursday at a hospital in Denver. He was 99.

His death was confirmed by his daughter, Karla Leavelle.

Mr. Leavelle, a veteran Dallas homicide detective who had survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, was handcuffed to Mr. Oswald and was leading him through a police station basement on Nov. 24, 1963, when Mr. Ruby, a nightclub owner, stepped out of the crowd and pumped a fatal bullet into the prisoner. The shooting, with Mr. Oswald’s pained grimace and Detective Leavelle’s stricken glower, was chillingly captured by Robert H. Jackson of The Dallas Times Herald in an iconic photograph that won the Pulitzer Prize the following year.

Moments earlier, he and Mr. Oswald had had an eerie exchange, Mr. Leavelle often later recounted. “Lee,” he recalled saying, “if anybody shoots at you, I hope they are as good a shot as you.”

To which, he said, Mr. Oswald replied: “You’re being melodramatic.”

 ny times logoNew York Times, Curtis Flowers’s Conviction Tossed by Mississippi Supreme Court, Mihir Zaveri, Aug. 29, 2019. Mr. Flowers, a black man, has been tried by a white prosecutor six times over the killings of four people in a furniture store in 1996. His case was featured in the podcast “In the Dark.” The Mississippi Supreme Court on Thursday threw out the murder conviction of Curtis Flowers, a black man who has been tried six times for the same crimes, two months after the United States Supreme Court ruled that the prosecutor, who is white, unconstitutionally kept black people off the jury.

ny times logoNew York Times, After Rape Case Unravels, Ex-Detectives Plead Guilty to Lesser Crimes, Edgar Sandoval, Aug. 30, 2019 (print ed.). The two had been accused of assaulting a handcuffed 18-year-old. Now, the plea deal will result in probation. In 2017, two New York Police Department detectives faced more than 40 sexual-abuse charges and 25 years in prison after they were accused of handcuffing an 18-year-old woman and raping her in the back of a police van.

Over the course of nearly two years, the case slowly unraveled as lawyers in the case disclosed cellphone records and other evidence that punched holes in the woman’s inconsistent timeline and description of events that night, forcing prosecutors to discard her testimony and indict the officers on lesser charges.

On Thursday morning, the two detectives, Edward Martins and Richard Hall, pleaded guilty to bribery and official misconduct charges in a deal that called for five years probation — and no jail time.

charlottesville torchlight parade 8 12 2017

Charlottesville, VA Torchlight Parade preceding deadly violence  (Aug. 12, 2017 file photo)

washington post logoWashington Post, Fourth attacker sentenced in Charlottesville parking garage beating of black man, Ian Shapira, Ian Shapira, Aug. 27, 2019 (print ed.). The fourth white supremacist arrested and convicted for his role in an attack on a 20-year-old African American man during the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville was sentenced Tuesday to a little more than two years in prison.

Tyler Watkins Davis, 51, of Middleburg, Fla., had entered an Alford plea in February on a malicious wounding charge in the vicious — and widely seen — beating of DeAndre Harris, a former special education instructional assistant.

The plea meant that Davis, who belonged to the extremist group League of the South, acknowledged prosecutors had sufficient evidence to convict him if the case had gone to trial. Even though Davis’s assault on Harris probably resulted in Harris’s worst injury, he was given less time behind bars — two years and one month — than the three other defendants already sentenced in the case.

Charlottesville Circuit Judge Richard E. Moore said he gave Davis the lighter punishment because he hit Harris only once, as opposed to the other assailants who stomped or struck Harris multiple times.

But Moore did not hold back in rebuking Davis.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ohio woman who corresponded with Dylann Roof and plotted mass violence pleads guilty to terror charge, Matt Zapotosky, Aug. 30, 2019 (print ed.). An Ohio dylann roof pistol flagwoman who authorities say corresponded in prison with Charleston, S.C., church shooter Dylann Roof and plotted mass violence pleaded guilty Tuesday to a terrorism charge in a case that a top federal prosecutor said could serve as a model to pursue white supremacists or other domestic extremists.

Elizabeth Lecron, 24, pleaded guilty in federal court in Toledo to providing material support to terrorists and transporting explosives in interstate commerce, agreeing to spend 15 years in federal prison and be subjected to a lifetime of supervision by federal authorities after she is released.

Trump White House

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump's Personal Assistant, Madeleine Westerhout, Steps Down, Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman, Aug. 30, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s personal assistant, Madeleine Westerhout, whose office sits in front of the Oval Office and who has served as the president’s gatekeeper since Day 1 of his administration, resigned on Thursday, two people familiar with her exit said.

Ms. Westerhout’s abrupt and unexpected departure came after Mr. Trump learned on Thursday that she had indiscreetly shared details about his family and the Oval Office operations she was part of at a recent off-the-record dinner with reporters staying at hotels near Bedminster, N.J., during the president’s working vacation, according to one of the people, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss White House personnel issues.

The breach of trust meant immediate action: Ms. Westerhout, one of the people familiar with her departure said, was now considered a “separated employee” and would not be allowed to return to the White House on Friday.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Former CIA Director has a warning for Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Aug. 30, 2019. Donald Trump tried to spin it as a victory yesterday, but the reality is that he took a severe blow when the Department of Justice Inspector General ruled that former FBI Director James Comey violated policy – but didn’t break any laws – when he released his memos about Donald Trump’s obstruction of justice.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump appeared to be banking on the fantasy of bringing false criminal charges against Comey and putting him on trial during the 2020 general election, in order to fire up his deranged base. It’s the latest evidence that Trump simply does not understand that he needs support outside his base in order to have any shot in 2020. But even if putting Comey on trial were somehow a viable strategy for magically winning over new voters, it’s now out the window, thanks to the Inspector General.

john brennan croppedFormer CIA Director John Brennan, right,issued this warning to Trump: “Jim Comey is far more decent, ethical, honest, competent, & patriotic than you could ever hope to be. It is only because the AG & Republican Senators refuse to put country above party that you are not in a world of trouble & hurt. But their protective cocoon is only temporary.”

So precisely what is John Brennan referring to? For one thing, the minute Donald Trump is no longer in office, he’s obviously going to be criminally indicted and arrested, if not on federal charges then certainly on state charges. But Brennan may also be pointing to the cold hard reality that, with Trump’s poll numbers falling by the day and the Republican Congress now in danger of going down in 2020 with him, the Republicans could easily turn around and selfishly dunk Trump in the name of trying to save themselves.

New York Times, Caucuses in Iowa Won’t Include Absentee Participation, D.N.C. Says, Reid J. Epstein, Aug. 30, 2019. Iowa Democrats wanted to allow some caucusgoers to vote by phone next year, but committee leaders concluded that such a system would not be secure. They are giving the state, and Nevada, waivers from new party rules. The Iowa Democrats’ plan would have allowed voters to register their preference during one of six “virtual caucuses” over the phone.

The Democratic National Committee said Friday it would recommend exemptions to Iowa and Nevada that would allow them to avoid new guidelines requiring caucus states to allow remote participation without attending a caucus event. The waivers avert, for now, a showdown over voting rules between the committee and early caucus states.

The proposed waivers, which are expected to be approved by the party’s powerful rules and bylaws committee, come after D.N.C. leadership signaled it would block plans to allow some caucusgoers in Iowa and Nevada to vote by phone next year, bowing to security concerns about the process being hacked, according to four people with knowledge of the decision.

The committee’s announcement serves as a major setback to Democrats who have long hoped to expand the caucus-state electorate beyond those voters able to attend a winter-night gathering for several hours.

“People who believe in democracy and believe that people who are working or physically challenged should be able to participate are screwed by this decision,” said Larry Cohen, a D.N.C. member from Maryland who has long advocated allowing absentee participation in caucuses.

WhoWhatWhy, The Epstein Story Is Not About Celebrities and Shiny Objects, Jeff Schechtman, Aug. 30, 2019. An examination of why we should be outraged that justice is not being served in the Epstein case. On the surface, the Jeffrey Epstein story reads like a Hollywood screenplay. All the elements are there: big-name celebrities from around the world, straying and corrupt politicians, a fantasy Carribean island, a western ranch, a posh Manhattan townhouse, and a private jet called the “Lolita Express.” All glitz and glamor… except that it’s not!

At its heart, this is a story of sex trafficking in underage girls, child abuse, and young victims whose lives will be forever haunted by Epstein and his pals.

Our guest on this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, investigative journalist Nick Bryant, has been on this story since 2012 — in part, because he covered and wrote a book about a similar saga years ago that also involved powerful pedophiles, blackmail, corrupt grand juries, law enforcement looking the other way, and the suicide of one of the perpetrators.

With that other story as background, Bryant, who was the first to publish Epstein’s “little black book,” looks at this sordid story in the context of the human damage done by Epstein and his fellow perpetrators. Based on his many years following the trail, Bryant talks about what he thinks really happened in that jail cell, and what needs to happen now.

He calls out the disgrace that should befall those who try to cover it up, and wonders why the public is not more outraged. Bryant makes a passionate case that, even with Epstein dead, all of the perpetrators, famous and not, need to be held accountable and brought to justice.

Kashmir Crisisimran khan pakistan pm

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The World Can’t Ignore Kashmir. We Are All in Danger, Imran Khan, Aug. 30, 2019. Pakistan’s prime minister (shown above in a file photo) argues that if the world does nothing to stop the Indian assault on Kashmir, two nuclear-armed states will get closer to a direct military confrontation.

After I was elected prime minister of Pakistan last August, one of my foremost priorities was to work for lasting and just peace in South Asia. India and Pakistan, despite our difficult history, confront similar challenges of poverty, unemployment and climate change, especially the threat of melting glaciers and scarcity of water for hundreds of millions of our citizens.

I wanted to normalize relations with India through trade and by settling the Kashmir dispute, the foremost impediment to the normalization of relations between us.

india flag mapOn July 26, 2018, in my first televised address to Pakistan after winning the elections, I stated we wanted peace with India and if it took one step forward, we would take two steps. After that, a meeting between our two foreign ministers was arranged on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in September 2018, but India canceled the meeting. That September I also wrote my first of three letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling for dialogue and peace.

Unfortunately, all my efforts to start a dialogue for peace were rebuffed by India. Initially, we assumed that Mr. Modi’s increasingly hard-line positions and his rhetoric against Pakistan were aimed to whip up a nationalist frenzy among the Indian voters with an eye on the Indian elections in May.

Global News: Pakistani Fly Plague

ny times logoNew York Times, A Plague of Flies Descends on Karachi: ‘They’re Hounding People,’ Saba Imtiaz Aug. 30, 2019 (print ed.). Karachi is now plagued by swarms of flies. The bugs seem to be everywhere in every neighborhood, bazaar and shop, sparing no one. They’re a bullying force on sidewalks, flying in and out of stores and cars and homes, and settling onto every available surface, from vegetables to people. The city started a fumigation drive, but the flies remain, and frustrations are growing. It’s all drawing new attention, and anger, to the city’s longstanding problems with garbage and drainage — an issue that feuding political factions have wielded against each other for years, but that hasn’t gotten any better.

Experts say this infestation was probably brought on by the combination of stagnant rainwater, which stood in the city for days, with garbage on the streets and waste left behind from animals slaughtered during the recent Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.

Aug. 29

Climate News

climate change photo

ny times logoNew York Times, The Amazon, Siberia, Indonesia: A World of Fire, Kendra Pierre-Louis, Aug. 29, 2029 (print ed.). The growing intensity of wildfires and their spread to new corners of the globe raises fears that climate change is exacerbating the dangers.

In South America, the Amazon basin is ablaze. Halfway around the world in central Africa, vast stretches of savanna are going up in flame. Arctic regions in Siberia are burning at a historic pace. While the Brazilian fires have grown into a full-blown international crisis, they represent only one of many significant areas where wildfires are currently burning around the world. Their increase in severity and spread to places where fires were rarely previously seen is raising fears that climate change is exacerbating the danger.

Hotter, drier temperatures “are going to continue promoting the potential for fire,” said John Abatzoglou, an associate professor in the department of geography at the University of Idaho, describing the risk of “large, uncontainable fires globally” if warming trends continue.

Wildfires contribute to climate change because not only do they release carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere but they can also kill trees and vegetation that remove climate-warming emissions from the air.

washington post logoWashington Post, Boris Johnson’s reckless path is bad for Britain, Editorial Board, Aug. 29, 2019. (print ed.). It is normal for new prime ministers to obtain (formally, by order of united kingdom flagthe queen) a brief parliamentary suspension, which has the effect of clearing all pending legislation. But Mr. Johnson sought five weeks rather than the usual several days.

The best way for opponents to counter Mr. Johnson would be to force new elections; a vote of confidence in his government could come next week.

Iraq War's Roots

keira knightley official secrets sundance institute

Keira Knightley stars in the film "Official Secrets" opening this week and based on the historic whistleblowing of UK intelligence worker Katherine Gun (photo via Sundance Institute).

Consortium News, Film Review: ‘Official Secrets’ is the Tip of a Mammoth Iceberg, Sam Husseini, Aug. 29, 2019. A new film depicting the whistleblower Katherine Gun, who tried to stop the Iraq invasion, is largely accurate, but the story is not over. Two-time Oscar nominee Keira Knightley is known for being in “period pieces” such as “Pride and Prejudice,” so her playing the lead in the new film “Official Secrets,” scheduled to be released in the U.S. on Friday, may seem odd at first. That is until one considers that the time span being depicted — the early 2003 run-up to the invasion of Iraq — is one of the most dramatic and consequential periods of modern human history.

It is also one of the most poorly understood, in part because the story of Katharine Gun, played by Knightley, is so little known. Having followed this story from the start, I find this film to be, by Hollywood standards, a remarkably accurate account of what has happened to date–“to date” because the wider story still isn’t over.

Epstein's Helpers

ny times logoNew York Times, How a Ring of Women Allegedly Recruited Girls for Jeffrey Epstein, Amy Julia Harris, Frances Robles, Mike Baker and William K. Rashbaum, Aug. 29, 2019. After Mr. Epstein’s suicide, his inner circle of girlfriends, employees and other associates is now under scrutiny by prosecutors. A Times investigation uncovered allegations about how a cadre of women helped lure girls into his orbit and managed the logistics of those encounters.

The urgency of the investigation into Mr. Epstein’s associates was underscored on Tuesday when about two dozen women offered searing accounts of how he had sexually abused them before a packed courtroom in Manhattan.

The judge overseeing the case had invited the women to speak at a hearing to dismiss the indictment against Mr. Epstein in light of his death.

Trump Watch

ny times logoNew York Times, E.P.A. to Roll Back Regulations on Methane, a Potent Greenhouse Gas, Lisa Friedman and Coral Davenport, Aug. 29, 2019. If the proposal is adopted, the government would no longer require oil and gas companies to inspect for and repair methane leaks from wells and pipelines. The Trump administration laid out on Thursday a far-reaching plan to cut back on the regulation of methane emissions, a major contributor to climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule aims to eliminate federal requirements that oil and gas companies install technology to detect and fix methane leaks from wells, pipelines and storage facilities. It would also reopen the question of whether the E.P.A. had the legal authority to regulate methane as a pollutant.

The rollback plan is particularly notable because major energy companies have, in fact, spoken out against it — joining automakers, electric utilities and other industrial giants that have opposed other administration initiatives to dismantle climate-change and environmental rules.

Gun Regulation / Supreme Court

SCOTUSblog, Analysis: Battling over mootness, Stephen Wermiel, Aug. 29, 2019. Mootness is not often the stuff of headlines. But a current dispute over Second Amendment rights and a New York City gun regulation has put mootness in the spotlight.

Last January, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a petition, 18-280, by the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association challenging New York City’s curb on transporting licensed supreme court graphichandguns outside the home. The New York regulation, which allowed handguns to be transported only to specified shooting ranges within the city, was upheld by a federal district judge in New York and by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. The lower courts rejected claims that the city regulation violates the Second Amendment, that it interferes with interstate commerce and that it impedes the right to travel.

The Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case marked the first time since 2010 that the justices have agreed to tackle a dispute over the scope of gun rights. Although gun-rights groups have filed numerous briefs urging the court to expand Second Amendment rights, the court had so far declined to take up the issue. Commentators have suggested that the replacement of Justice Anthony Kennedy with Justice Brett Kavanaugh last fall may have given the court a majority favoring strengthened rights of gun owners.

In the 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller, the court ruled for the first time that the Second Amendment confers a right of individuals to possess guns, at least in their homes for purposes of self-defense. Since then, gun-rights groups have hoped to expand the right beyond the home and beyond self-defense; gun-regulation advocates have pressed to limit gun rights or even to overrule the Heller decision. The issues have divided communities, political parties and the nation.

Soon after the court agreed to hear the New York City case, perhaps because of the prospect of a ruling that might expand the scope of Second Amendment rights, New York City officials moved to amend the challenged regulation and then asked the justices to dismiss the case as moot.

Campaign 2020

washington post logoWashington Post, As he runs for president, Biden tells a moving but false story of a Silver Star hero, Matt Viser and Greg Jaffe​, Aug. 29, 2019. Joe Biden’s tale of heroism, an joe biden oemotional highlight of his speeches, appears to be an embellished jumble of several real events.

Joe Biden, right, painted a vivid scene for the 400 people packed into a college meeting hall. A four-star general had asked the then-vice president to travel to Kunar province in Afghanistan, a dangerous foray into “godforsaken country” to recognize the remarkable heroism of a Navy captain.

Democrats release Sept. debate lineup featuring only 10 candidates in one night

washington post logoWashington Post, The power and glory of football: Liberty University opens door to a star coach after scandal at Ole Miss, Kent Babb, Aug. 29, 2019. Like Jerry Falwell Jr.’s backing of then-candidate Donald Trump, hiring Hugh Freeze was a highly controversial decision that led some supporters and alumni to distance themselves from the school.

Freeze had spent five seasons as head football coach at the University of Mississippi, and using his Christian faith and the spread offense as the program’s bedrocks, his jerry falwell jr wRebels had gone to four bowl games, upset Alabama twice, entered the national rankings’ top five in consecutive seasons.

This went on for years, along with a few other things, and he said that it was pride that eventually destroyed him: numerous NCAA violations, paying no mind to boosters who broke rules, Freeze using his university-issued cellphone to call an escort service.

“My world crumbled,” he said in a presentation featured on the school’s YouTube site, one he had given many times but never to a crowd so large, and on the stage behind him was Jerry Falwell Jr., above left, the school’s president and the son of its founder. “I had to say to the people that I love, ‘I am sorry. Please forgive me.’”

U.S. Migrant Disputes

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats alarmed by Trump’s promise of pardons to build border wall, Seung Min Kim and Mike DeBonis, Aug. 29, 2019 (print ed.). Through his pardons of political allies, conservative defenders and others convicted of federal crimes, President Trump throughout his term has sent indirect signals of his willingness to help those close to him escape punishment.

ICE logoAnd now, the president has entwined that message with his chief campaign promise — by privately assuring aides that he would pardon them of any Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)potential illegality as the administration rushes to build his vaunted border wall before he returns to the ballot next November.

The notion has alarmed congressional Democrats, who had been investigating potential obstruction of justice on Trump’s part as the House continues to weigh whether to launch impeachment proceedings once lawmakers return to Washington next month.

Rep. David N. Cicilline (R.I.), a member of the House Democratic leadership and the House Judiciary Committee, said any suggestion that Trump would encourage subordinates to break the law by promising pardons is “appalling” and worthy of further investigation by the panel.

ny times logoNew York Times, Federal Workers’ Children Born Abroad May Not Receive Automatic Citizenship, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Aug. 28, 2019. Children born abroad to certain United States service members and other federal employees will no longer be granted automatic citizenship under a Trump administration policy set to take effect in October.

Parents of those children, including those born on military bases, will have to apply for citizenship on the children’s behalf before they turn 18, according to a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services policy released on Wednesday.

The policy appeared to be aimed at military families who have not lived in the United States for years. According to the immigration agency, the change would not affect the children of families with at least one parent who is an American citizen and has lived in the United States for at least five years.

ICE logoIt was unclear how many families the change would affect.

A spokeswoman for the Pentagon said the impact would be small, without specifying how many parents would be required to apply for citizenship for their children under the change. A spokeswoman for the citizenship and immigration agency, which oversees legal immigration, also declined to provide the number of families who would be affected.

Police State / Amazon Partnership?

washington post logoWashington Post, Police in hundreds of cities gain access to privately recorded video from Amazon’s Ring doorbell cameras, Drew Harwell​, Aug. 29, 2019 (print ed.).  Ring has quietly forged video-sharing partnerships with more than 400 police departments, giving them access to footage from millions of high-resolution cameras installed by homeowners.

amazon logo smallThe doorbell-camera company Ring has quietly forged video-sharing partnerships with more than 400 police forces across the United States, granting them access to homeowners’ camera footage and a powerful role in what the company calls America’s “new neighborhood watch.”

The partnerships let police automatically request the video recorded by homeowners’ cameras within a specific time and area, helping officers see footage from the company’s millions of Internet-connected cameras installed nationwide, the company said. Officers don’t receive ongoing or live-video access, and homeowners can decline the requests, which Ring sends via email thanking them for “making your neighborhood a safer place.”

Epstein-Barr-Trump Scandal

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s Jeffrey Epstein scandal just took an ugly new turn, Bill Palmer, Aug. 29, 2019. A security camera aimed in the direction of Jeffrey Epstein’s cell failed to capture his death. Now Reuters is reporting that both cameras aimed at Epstein malfunctioned. Wait, there were two cameras, and they both failed? The odds of two cameras failing due to random malfunction are far smaller than the odds of one camera randomly malfunctioning.

bill palmer report logo headerThis leaves only two possibilities. The first is that the prison was being so poorly maintained, even the cameras pointed at the most sensitive protective custody cells were out of order – and the prison was so poorly overseen, no one knew (or cared) that the cameras were out of order. The second possibility is that someone tampered with both cameras.

Jeffrey Epstein’s lawyers keep saying they think it’s more likely he was murdered than committed suicide, in spite of a coroner’s report that confirmed suicide. At this point we’re not sure what to believe. The real trouble is that Donald Trump’s Attorney General Bill Barr keeps approaching Epstein’s death as if it needed to be covered up, which is the single most suspicious thing going on here.

Sex Trafficking In History

Gilad.com, Historical commentary: 'Jeffrey Zwi Epstein Migdal,' Gilad Atzmon (UK-based jazz artist and cultural/political commentator), Aug. 29, 2019. The story of Jeffrey Epstein has lost its mystery as more and more commentators allow themselves to express the thought that it is a strong possibility that Epstein was connected to a crime syndicate affiliated with a Zionist political organisation or Israel and / or at least a few compromised intelligence agencies.

Whitney Webb, right, and others have produced superb studies of possible scenarios.

I would instead like to attack the topic from a cultural perspective. Epstein wasn’t the first Jewish sex trafficker. This seems like a good time to look back at Zwi Migdal, a Jewish global crime syndicate that operated a century ago and trafficked tens of thousands of Jewish women and under age girls as sex slaves. According to contemporary Jewish writer Giulia Morpurgo the Zwi Migdal had turned Argentina, “into a nightmare of prostitution and exploitation.”

During the first three decades of the 20th century Argentina was a rich country. It outgrew Canada and Australia in population, total income, and per capita income. Just before the first world war Argentina was the world's 10th wealthiest state per capita. When Argentina was a rich country, large parts of its economy, culture and politics were controlled by crime syndicates and particularly a Jewish organised crime apparatus named ‘Zwi Migdal.’

In 2009 The International Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault (JCACA) published a comprehensive article about the Zwi Migdal titled Understanding the Zwi Migdal Society, which I am about to quote from extensively.

The Zwi Migdal, was an association of Jewish mobsters who were involved in the “sexual exploitation of Jewish women and children, which operated globally.” Apparently the Zwi Migdal originally picked a pretty innocent sounding name: "Warsaw Jewish Mutual Aid Society." It does indeed sound almost as innocent, humane and charitable as ‘Anti-Defamation League,’ ‘Jews against Breast Cancer,’ or even ‘Jewish Voice for Peace.’

But the Warsaw Jewish Mutual Aid Society wasn’t innocent at all. It forced thousands of women and girls to become sex slaves and destroyed their lives. “Zwi Migdal means ‘strong power’ in Yiddish and it also honoured Zvi Migdal, known as Luis Migdal, one of the founders of the crime organization.”

The Zwi Migdal organization operated from the 1860s to 1939. In its heyday, after the First World War, it had four hundred members in Argentina alone. Its annual turnover was fifty million dollars in the early 1900s.

Unlike Epstein and Maxwell who allegedly recruited non-Jewish underage women, the Zwi Migdal specialised in trafficking Jewish women. “Most of the Jewish women and children who were kidnapped were taken from impoverished shtetls (Jewish small towns) and brought to Buenos Aires.”

The recently released documents related to the Jeffrey Epstein affair suggest that Epstein and Maxwell were to be charged with child sex trafficking, and as the alleged procurer of underage girls. It seems none of that is really novel in the Jewish world: “The Zwi Migdal Society lured decent girls and young women from Europe in many inventive and deceitful ways. A very well-mannered and elegant-looking man would appear in a poor Jewish village in places such as Poland or Russia. He would advertise his search for young women to work in the homes of wealthy Jews in Argentina by posting an ad in the local synagogue. Fearful of pogroms and often in desperate economic circumstances, the trusting parents would send their naïve daughters away with these men, hoping to give them a fresh start.”

The last line recalls Virginia Giuffre’s account of her encounter with the elegant British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell who allegedly lured her victims to ‘escape’ their misery.

From Rachel (Raquel) Lieberman to Virginia Roberts Giuffre

rachel libermanWe learn that the rufianos' audacity eventually led to their demise. “It happened when they refused to forgo their income from the work of one woman, Rachel Lieberman (shown at right in an undated photo) from Lódž, Poland. She, like so many others, was tempted to travel to Buenos Aires answering a matrimonial ad, but was taken to Jonin Street where she was forced to prostitute.”

“After five years she had enough money to go into the antique furniture business to support herself and her sons but the rufianos made it impossible for her. They did not want her to set an example for their other slaves. But this woman had not been broken.”

As was the case for Virginia Giuffre, it needed brave Rachel to come forward (film via vimeo). 

Her testimony led to an extensive investigation. The findings reached Dr. Rodriguez Ocampo, a judge who would not take Zwi Migdal bribes either.

The lengthy trial ended in September 1930, with 108 detainees. "The very existence of the Zwi Migdal Organization directly threatens our society," the judge wrote in his verdict, handing down long prison terms.”

As with Epstein and his mobsters friends, things changed quickly and not in favour of justice let alone guided by ethical principles. The Zwi Migdal mobsters were at least as well connected as Epstein to politicians, judges and prosecutors. “While in prison, the pimps pulled some old strings, appealed their sentences in January 1931, and senior Justice Ministry officials left only three of the convicts in jail, discharging the rest.”

Cheeto Christ Stupid-Czar

Randy Rainbow, Song Parody: Cheeto Christ Stupid-Czar, Randy Rainbow, Aug. 29, 2019 (4:16 min. video).

Media News

stephanie grisham unsourced Custom

Daily Kos via BuzzFlash, New White House Press Secretary Shows How Well She Lies By Insisting Trump Doesn't Lie, Laura Clawson, Aug. 29, 2019. New White House communications director and press secretary Stephanie Grisham, above, has yet to hold a single press briefing, but she is definitely ready for the level of lying that would be required if she ever does.

Exhibit A: More than 12,000 lies into his time in the White House, does Grisham think Donald Trump lies? “No.”

Say what?

“I don’t think they’re lies. . . . I think the president communicates in a way that some people, especially the media, aren’t necessarily comfortable with. A lot of times they take him so literally. I know people will roll their eyes if I say he was just kidding or was speaking in hypotheticals, but sometimes he is. What I’ve learned about him is that he loves this country and he’s not going to lie to this country.”

The Washington Post is famously keeping track of Trump's lies -- more than 12,000 thus far during his administration -- but the paper won't call them lies (they call the lies "false or misleading claims"), and their reporters won't tell the Liar-in-Chief that he is lying. Alcindor became an Internet sensation because she finally confronted the Liar-in-Chief with the "L" word. Meanwhile, Trump has another press secretary who lives in an alternative universe where the big lie is held out to be the truth.

More On Epstein's Ties

 

WGBH-TV, Commentary: Harvard, MIT, and Epstein's 'Dirty' Money, Harvey Silverglate, right, and Monika Greco, Aug. 29, 2019. Following the apparent jailhouse suicide of disgraced harveysilverglate 136money manager and academic dilettante Jeffrey Epstein, two prominent Cambridge universities grapple with a straightforward ethical question that has been made out to be needlessly complex: Should an educational institution which has been the beneficiary of the largess of someone who, it turns out, was a monster, return or otherwise redirect donations of “dirty money”? The two universities seem to have arrived at somewhat different answers to this question.

Epstein’s death leaves a long line of victims in its wake, some of whom wished to face him in court and will now never have that opportunity. Epstein also leaves behind the many educational institutions that benefited from his considerable financial donations. A self-described “science philanthropist,” Epstein amassed an impressive network of the world’s leading scholars, scientists, and public intellectuals, by giving liberally to their personal research projects and home institutions. Epstein’s philanthropy enabled him to cultivate close connections with higher-ups at several prominent universities, including Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In typical fashion, the media has taken the now-hot story as an opportunity to root out and vilify every person and every institution that has ever had anything to do with Epstein, regardless of whether the individuals and institutions had any knowledge of Epstein’s crimes. The public, galvanized by the media, has placed tremendous pressure on the numerous beneficiaries of Epstein’s sizable gifts to come to terms with their relationships with the now-deceased sex offender. It is in this climate that Harvard and MIT face calls to return or otherwise redirect Epstein’s “dirty money.”

harvard logoThe two universities have thus far responded in very different ways. Back in 2006, when the allegations against Epstein first emerged, Harvard made clear that it had no intention of returning or redirecting any of the millions of dollars it received. More than a decade later, and even after intense public pressure following Epstein’s 2019 federal indictment, Harvard reaffirmed this stance.

MIT, on the other hand, has been bending over backwards to appease the public by issuing mea culpas for various complicities, imagined or otherwise, stemming from the university’s ties to Epstein. In an email sent to the MIT community, University President L. Rafael Reif revealed MIT logothat MIT accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from Epstein’s various foundations over two decades, all of which went either to the Media Lab or to Physics Professor Seth Lloyd. Reif issued a groveling apology and promised to essentially redirect Epstein’s gifts by donating an equal amount to charities that assist victims of sexual abuse.

Of course, we cannot know the true motivations underlying Harvard and MIT’s responses, although we can probably assume that these institutional decisions were made at the highest levels.

Many institutions have had to reckon with the present knowledge that contributions were made by donors then or now recognized as tainted. The most difficult decisions doubtless have had to be made by institutions for which changing mores have raised the question of whether the long-ago naming of buildings or programs (or entire universities) after now-disgraced donors should be reversed. But where a monument has not been built, nor a program named, to honor a donor, it would seem that there is no reasonable justification, other than moral grandstanding or ethical preening, for returning money that would otherwise be used for the education of our children.

Harvey Silverglate, WGBH’s “Freedom Watch” writer, is a criminal defense and civil liberties lawyer and author in Boston. Monika Greco is a graduate of the philosophy master’s program at Tufts University, and writes about ethical issues for the general public.

 

U.S. Gun Violence Causes 

Source Politics, Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR) gets booed loudly -- blames gun violence on single mothers, Social media, Aug. 29, 2019 (31sec. video above). U.S. Rep. Steve Womack was loudly booed by an audience of his constituents at a town hall Wednesday night after he tried to blame gun violence on single parents. "We have too many kids growing up in single parent households," Womack said in a discussion of gun violence.

The crowd immediately started booing and shouting at him. "It's the guns!" one woman said. "That is bull," said a man, rising to his feet. "I am a single mother and that is so disrespectful," said another woman. "Shame on you."

republican elephant logoWomack was undeterred and asserted that the problem with guns stems from the fact that "we took God" out of schools. Voters replied with shouts of "shame on you!"

Womack was one of the 188 Republicans who voted against the popular bill to enhance background checks that passed in the House earlier this year. Despite the bill's passage, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to allow a vote on the measure.

In response to mass shootings, Republicans have refused to address the role of guns and their easy availability.

After the shootings in El Paso and Dayton earlier this month, Republicans sought to blame a host of issues — video games, social media, mental health, lack of school prayer, "screens" — for gun violence instead. Womack's litany of excuses while avoiding the problem echoes the Republican stance on a problem with a rising death toll.

Media News

National Press Club, Update-1 passes 150-episode milestone, promoting Club mission on podcast platform, Kristina Groennings, Aug. 29, 2019. A recent episode of Update-1, the National Press Club podcast, was not only a milestone for the initiative, it also captures how the effort promotes Club priorities on an increasingly popular platform.

adam konowe mike hempen npc co vice chairs broadcastThe topic of the the Aug. 14 program -- the 150th episode since the podcast's inception in 2013 -- was the creation of a memorial in Washington dedicated to a free press and fallen journalists.

The theme was “poignant and very appropriate given that the mission statement of the podcast is to cover topics that reflect the Press Club’s mission,” said Adam Konowe, co-vice chair of the Club Broadcast/Podcast Team (shown at left with fellow co-vice chair Mike Hempen). The topics covered by Update-1 usually center on the journalism profession, press freedom, communications, Club activities, Club members or something in the news.

Peace Coming To Yemen?

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Saudi Arabia Acknowledges Defeat In Yemen -- Starts To Sue For Peace, B. Aug. 29, 2019. Two weeks ago, we wrote that war on Yemen will soon end. The Saudis lost their ally, they lost the war and would have to sue for peace. They are now doing so. But the fighting in Yemen will continue until that country finds a new balance.

Since 2015 the coalition of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with U.S. and British help, waged war against the Houthi in northern Yemen. The coalition is now falling apart. Both countries claimed to fight against the Houthi, which control the capital Sanaa, in support of the internationally recognized 'legitimate' government under 'President' Hadi. But both countries had from the very beginning more egoistic war aims.

The Wahhabi Saudis want a Yemeni government that is not controlled by the Zaydi-Shia Houthi, with whom they fought dozens of wars over two provinces that Saudi Arabia once annexed. They also want to control Yemen's oil and a pipeline from the Saudi oil region to a harbor in Yemen. It would help Saudi oil exports to avoid the Iran controlled Strait of Hormuz.

The UAE is big into the port business. It wants to control the strategic port of Aden and other Yemeni harbors on the southern coast. As it has no direct border with Yemen, it largely does not care who controls the rest of Yemen. In June the emirs decided to change cause. The UAE retreated from active war in Yemen and started to make nice with Iran. It hoped that the southern separatists it had trained would keep Aden under control and continue to do the UAE's bidding. The Saudis and the 'legitimate government' under Hadi they control do not want to condone that.

Media Criticism

real news networkThe Real News Network, Opinion: Corporate Media Bias Against Sanders Is Structural, Not a Conspiracy, Greg Wilpert, Aug. 27, 2019 (video interview transcript). What the United States needs is a real discussion about the systematic structural bias against politicians and political movements that question corporate control over the news, say RootsAction.org founders Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon

bernie sanders gage skidmoreGREG WILPERT: Almost two weeks ago, there was a slight blip in the news cycle in which Bernie Sanders confronted corporate media with a claim that their coverage might be biased. Of course, corporate media outlets have been facing this charge ever since Trump became president, but this time it came from Senator Sanders, who said the following.

BERNIE SANDERS (shown in a Gage Skidmore file photo): Anybody here know how much Amazon paid in taxes last year? Bernie Sanders: I talk about that all of the time and then I wonder why The Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos who owns Amazon, doesn’t write particularly good articles about me. I don’t know why.

The reaction to Sanders’ claim that The Washington Post coverage of him is biased against him generated a wave of pushback. The Washington Post Chief Editor, Martin Baron, said that Sanders is pushing a conspiracy theory when he suggested that Jeff Bezos interferes with the work of the newspaper. Many other corporate news outlets followed suit, saying that Sanders failed to provide evidence, and that he was copying a page from Trump’s playbook.

GREG WILPERT: So let’s get the main issue out of the way. Was Sanders correct in pointing out The Washington Post’s bias against him? And if so, how does Amazon, or any media owner for that matter, achieve this kind of control when what their defenders say is true, that there are no instructions coming from Bezos to the editors or journalists? What do you say, Jeff? Let’s start with you.

JEFF COHEN: Well, there doesn’t have to be a memo from management or ownership, or orders from management or ownership. When I worked at MSNBC in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, there actually were memos and there were orders that we should bias our coverage in support of the invasion. That’s why we were all terminated. That’s the exception. The mere presence of one of the richest people on Earth, Jeff Bezos, as the owner of The Washington Post, his mere presence is enough. What I love about Bernie Sanders is, in 2015-2016, he took democratic socialism out of the closet. And from then, especially these last few weeks, Greg, that you’re referring to, he’s taken this idea of corporate media bias out of the closet, so even the mainstream media has to be discussing it.

Anyone can look at the studies that FAIR.org has done over the decades to show the homogenous nature of the coverage. And there isn’t always a memo. There doesn’t need to be a memo from management. I mean, FAIR showed, in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, they did a study of two weeks, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, 393 people quoted about the invasion. Only three represented the anti-war movement. That’s less than 1%. There probably wasn’t a memo at PBS, or ABC, or CBS, or NBC, but they got that homogenous coverage. FAIR has done studies of how The New York Times and Washington Post covered NAFTA when it was being debated, and they virtually put the critics into the margins. FAIR recently did a study of Venezuela and how you basically can’t get into the mainstream media if you think overthrowing a government in Latin America might be a bad idea.

So there doesn’t need to be a memo. Everyone understands what is off limits and what isn’t. I learned that when I was in the mainstream TV news. I mean, think about it: the famous Adam Johnson article in March of 2016 where The Washington Post ran 16 negative stories about Bernie Sanders in 16 hours. Now, if anyone wanted to investigate at The Washington Post the very newsworthy controversies of Amazon and Jeff Bezos— the exploitation of labor, the tax avoidance, the CIA contracts— if they wrote even three negative articles in three days, their heads would roll and everyone at Washington Post knows it.

Aug. 28

Brit Brexit Chaos?

washington post logounited kingdom flagWashington Post, Boris Johnson asks queen to suspend Parliament, cutting its time to halt no-deal Brexit, Karla Adam and Michael Birnbaum​, Aug. 28, 2019 (printed ed.). The idea of suspending — or proroguing — Parliament at this crucial time in the Brexit process sparked howls of outrage from many lawmakers.

Trump Watch

The Hill, Trump lawyer demands MSNBC retract report alleging banking ties to Russian oligarchs, Joe Concha, Aug. 28, 2019. An attorney for President Trump on Wednesday demanded a retraction and apology following an MSNBC report alleging the president obtained loans from Deutsche Bank with Russian oligarchs as co-signers.

deutsche bank logoCharles Harder sent a letter to NBCUniversal saying the remarks made Tuesday night on MSNBC's "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell" were false and defamatory, according to a copy of the letter made public by Washington Post reporter Paul Farhi.

O'Donnell first shared his report during a handoff from his lead-in host, Rachel Maddow, who appeared surprised by his remarks.

“The source close to Deutsche Bank said that the co-signers of Donald Trump’s Deutsche Bank loans are Russian billionaires close to Vladimir Putin,” the host later said. “If true, that would be a significant factor in Vladimir Putin’s publicly stated preference for presidential candidate Donald Trump over presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.”

lawrence odonnell last word graphic SmallO'Donnell, shown at right in a file photo, a staunch critic of the president, said later in the program that the story will "need a lot more verification before that can be a confirmable fact."

Deutsche Bank said in a court filing Tuesday that it has tax returns relevant to House Democrats' subpoenas for financial records of Trump, his family and his businesses. The bank did not publicly identify whose returns it had.

The name or names of the individuals or entities whose tax returns are in Deutsche Bank's possession were redacted in the version of the document posted on the federal courts' public legal database.

The White House on Wednesday condemned the MSNBC report. “This is one of the reasons that a majority of Americans have lost trust in the media," White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told Fox News media reporter Brian Flood. "Instead of applying ethics and standards to their reporting, journalists and left-wing outlets have weaponized the media, using it to attack and harass people with little to no regard for the truth."

washington post logoWashington Post, MSNBC host says he was wrong to allege Trump loan had Russian signers. Trump threatened to sue, Eli Rosenberg, Aug. 28, 2019. MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell began his show Tuesday night with a bombshell allegation: that Russian billionaires “close to Vladimir Putin” had co-signed a loan that was given to President Trump by a foreign bank.

msnbc logo CustomThe brief report, which O’Donnell credited to a single source, was yet another piece of intrigue about Trump’s finances and connections to Russia, a major point of inquiry the past few years.

But O’Donnell distanced himself from the allegations Wednesday, saying his report was “an error in judgment” that hadn’t gone through the network’s verification and standards process.

“I shouldn’t have reported it and I was wrong to discuss it on the air,” he said, promising to address the issue on his show Wednesday. He did not explicitly say whether he believed the report to be erroneous or not.

O’Donnell had stressed that the report was unverified Tuesday night, noting that it would be a big deal “if true.” He later noted that it was not confirmed by news reporters at MSNBC’s parent company, NBC. “I have not seen any documentation from Deutsche Bank that supports this and verifies this. This is just a single source who has revealed that to me,” he said. See related commentary below.

Supreme Court Scandal?

Palmer Report, Opinion: The story of Donald Trump, Deutsche Bank, and Anthony Kennedy’s son comes back into the spotlight, Bill Palmer, Aug. 28, 2019. This new report about anthony kennedy scotus 236x3001Donald Trump’s Deutsche Bank loans being signed for by Russian oligarchs close to Putin isn’t news to anyone paying attention. Russia has been Trump’s shadow for over 30 years and his attempts to hide that fact in his taxes is completely what we expected.

bill palmer report logo headerWhat’s truly new here is the fact that Deutsche Bank had an internal guideline to hire the children of power brokers, according to the Washington Post. Deutsche Bank hired Supreme Court Justice Kennedy’s son. It now seems clear this deal was an attempt at owning the ultimate power broker, a Justice on the US Supreme Court (shown at right in an official photo).

We don’t know exactly what Kennedy’s son actually did for Trump, but when Russia shows up in one place, it seems to be in all the other places as well. The Kennedy/Deutsche Bank relationship is going to have to be investigated and prosecuted if wrongdoing occurred, which now seems likely.

deutsche bank logoBut the scary part here is if Trump was illegitimately elected President, then he illegitimately seated two justices on the Supreme Court. Since Trump never does anything without a quid pro quo, we have to ask what Brett Kavanaugh did for Trump to get the nomination. We also never heard exactly how Kavanaugh brett kavanaughmanaged to quickly pay off hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of personal loans before being seated on the Court.

Neil Gorsuch may not have the same shady dealings around him, but even if he’s innocent, Donald Trump nominated him in order to get points from someone else. We need these answers. Trump never works without pay, bottom line. The US Supreme Court is the world’s biggest powerbroker and being able to appoint two justices to be seated on it is the ultimate cash prize. So what did Trump & Co. get in payback? We need to know.

Inside DC

us veterans administration sealWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative commentary, Trump cronies are scamming the VA and veterans, Wayne Madsen, left, (author, syndicated columnist and former U.S. Navy intelligence officer), Aug. 28, 2019 (subscription required). Donald Trump, who claims to be helping military veterans, is actually using his flim-flam skills to defraud the Department of Veterans Affairs in addition to raiding veterans' wallets.

Trump Seeks Border Land Grab, Pardons

djt wall is coming meme jan 5 2018

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Take the land’: Trump wants a border wall. And he wants it by Election Day, Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey​, Aug. 28, 2019 (print ed.). When aides have suggested that some of his orders are illegal or unworkable, President Trump has suggested he would pardon the officials if they would just go ahead, aides said. He has waved off worries about contracting procedures and the use of eminent domain.

President Trump is so eager to complete hundreds of miles of border fence ahead of the 2020 presidential election that he has directed aides to fast-track billions of dollars’ worth of construction contracts, aggressively seize private land and disregard environmental rules, according to current and former officials involved with the project.

He also has told worried subordinates that he will pardon them of any potential wrongdoing should they have to break laws to get the barriers built quickly, those officials said.

djt maga hatTrump has repeatedly promised to complete 500 miles of fencing by the time voters go to the polls in November 2020, stirring chants of “Finish the Wall!” at his political rallies as he pushes for tighter border controls. But the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed just about 60 miles of “replacement” barrier during the first 2½ years of Trump’s presidency, all of it in areas that previously had border infrastructure.

The president has told senior aides that a failure to deliver on the signature promise of his 2016 campaign would be a letdown to his supporters and an embarrassing defeat. With the election 14 months away and hundreds of miles of fencing plans still in blueprint form, Trump has held regular meetings at the White House to receive progress updates and hasten the pace, according to several people involved in the discussions.

When aides have suggested that some of his orders are illegal or unworkable, Trump has suggested he would pardon the officials if they would just go ahead, aides said. He has waved off worries about contracting procedures and the use of eminent domain, saying “take the land,” according to officials present at the meetings.

• Trump administration will divert disaster relief funds to U.S.-Mexico border enforcement

Massive Opioid Settlement?

washington post logoWashington Post, Purdue Pharma in talks over multibillion-dollar deal to settle more than 2,000 opioid lawsuits, Lenny Bernstein and Scott Higham, Aug. 28, 2019 (print ed.). Drugmaker Purdue Pharma is negotiating a multibillion-dollar settlement with lawyers for local and state governments that would resolve about 2,000 lawsuits against the purdue pharma logocompany, which would declare bankruptcy as part of the deal.

The Sackler family, which owns the company, would relinquish control and contribute at least $3 billion in personal funds to the settlement, which could total as much as $12 billion, according to three people familiar with the talks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the negotiations.

Italy Sidelines Rightist Leader

ny times logoNew York Times, Italian Rivals Reach Deal on Forming Coalition, Sidelining Hard Right Leader, Jason Horowitz, Aug. 28, 2019. Italy’s warring political parties struck a deal on guiseppe conteWednesday night to form a new government that sidelines Matteo Salvini, the hard-right leader who dominated the country’s politics for more than a year and threatened to drastically reorient Italy’s place in Europe.

The sudden turnabout in Italy’s politics was a relief to the European establishment after 14 months of euroskeptic provocations, anti-migrant crackdowns and flouting of the italian flag wavingbloc’s financial rules.

The leaders of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the center-left Democratic Party, which returns from the opposition, both said on Wednesday that they had struck a deal and agreed that the outgoing prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, right, should be prime minister again.

Brit Brexit Chaos?

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Boris Johnson Seizes Power, B, Aug. 28, 2019. The British Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, shown in a file photo below left, wants to united kingdom flaglead Britain to an exit from the European Union without a specific agreement that would regulate the various details. A majority in Parliament is against leaving the EU without a deal.

Parliament will convene again in early September. The Brexit date is October 31. The opposition planned to seek legislation to stop Brexit and/or to hold a vote of no confidence in the Boris government. This would install a new government with the sole task of preventing Brexit without a deal.

boris johnson july 2015The problem is that the process takes time and Parliament days are limited. The government has several means to prevent Parliament from having enough time to discuss the issue and to vote on it. Today it used a quite effective one.

The Johnson government, only inaugurated weeks ago, asked the Queen to announce its legislative program, a ceremonial event known as the Queen's Speech. Custom demands that Parliament is shut down for several weeks before the Queen's Speech is held. Parliament will thus have little chance to european union logo rectangleprevent a no-deal Brexit:

Britain has no written constitution. The courts rule along precedence and the government would thereby likely win the case. In a letter to the Members of Parliament Johnson only allows for one day, September 9, for a Parliament sitting.

The prime minister, not elected through a general election, is essentially making a power grab. Closing down Parliament at the moment when the most significant decision on the future of the country is at stake is a deeply undemocratic move.

Epstein's Island, Influence Circle

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 Jeffrey Epstein’s compound in the Virgin Islands. (YouTube)

ny times logoNew York Times, On Epstein’s Caribbean Island, a Hideaway Where Money Bought Influence, Steve Eder, Aug. 28, 2019. Jeffrey Epstein used his islands as a personal and corporate haven, negotiating lucrative local tax breaks even as he faced inquiries for sexual misconduct. Jeffrey Epstein once described the United States Virgin Islands as “my favorite place to be.”

When he was there, Mr. Epstein had a knack for getting his way, according to public records and interviews with residents and local officials.

Mr. Epstein, the accused sex trafficker who committed suicide in a Manhattan jail this month, used these islands as a personal and corporate hideaway, negotiating lucrative local tax breaks even as he faced federal investigations for sexual misconduct.

He cultivated close ties to the islands’ political and financial elite. He employed a governor’s wife. He hired an architecture firm owned by that governor’s uncle. He donated money, sponsored scholarships and even gave dozens of computers to a local lawmaker to distribute.

More On Trump, Bankers

ny times logoNew York Times, The Trump Secrets Hiding Inside Deutsche Bank, David Enrich, Aug. 28, 2019. The president’s longtime lender has extensive documents related to Mr. Trump’s personal and business finances. Here’s what they could reveal.

Deutsche Bank’s disclosure on Tuesday that it has tax returns related to President Trump’s family or business set off a frenzy of speculation about what those materials might reveal.

deutsche bank logoBut a trove of other data and documents that his longtime lender is sitting on might prove more revelatory to investigators digging into Mr. Trump’s finances. That includes records of how Mr. Trump made his money, whom he has partnered with, the terms of his extensive borrowings and what transactions he has engaged in with Russians or other foreign nationals.

For nearly two decades, Deutsche Bank was the only mainstream financial institution consistently willing to do business with Mr. Trump, who had a long record of defaulting on loans. The bank over the years collected reams of his personal and corporate information.

President Donald Trump officialTwo congressional committees have subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for a vast array of records related to Mr. Trump — including any tax returns since 2010. The investigators are hoping the materials will shed light not only on the president’s finances but also on any links he has had to foreign governments and whether he or his companies were involved in any illegal activity, such as money laundering for people overseas.

After the two House committees subpoenaed the bank, Mr. Trump sued to block it from complying. The case is pending with a federal appeals court.

While Deutsche Bank has been lending to Mr. Trump since 1998, the most detailed information would cover the period since 2011, when the company’s private-banking division struck up a relationship with the future president and his family.

Media News

Daily Kos via BuzzFlash, At G-7, Trump Is Finally Called Out by a Reporter, Aldous J Pennyfarthing, Aug. 28, 2019. The mainstream media has allowed Trump to dictate the narrative. His cruelty, lies and incompetence have become normalized because the DC press corps doesn't challenge his lies, racial incitements and endless bombastic blather. However, at the G-7, a PBS reporter finally used the "L" word to his face. She queried him on why he kept repeating a proven lie. Yamiche Alcindor showed how cowardly the press has been all these years.

Palmer Report, Opinion: All bets are off now, Bill Palmer, left, Aug. 28, 2019. As I’ve been pointing out for as long as Donald Trump’s scandals have been unfolding, it’s overly naive to bill palmerexpect that those around Donald Trump will continue to protect him “no matter what.” Sure, Trump’s allies and associates are just as corrupt as he is, and yes, many of them are still protecting him because they feel that doing so is in their own personal best interest. But yesterday we were reminded that when push comes to shove, Trump’s allies will push and shove him if that’s what they have to do in order to save themselves.

Breaking: Trump attorney demands NBC retract under threat of litigation.

bill palmer report logo headerDeutsche Bank faced a choice yesterday. It could either start coming clean about the embarrassing criminal antics that it engaged in with Donald Trump and Russia, or it could start facing the consequences of contempt of court citations. No one has ever accused Deutsche Bank of being remotely moral or forthright. So when it decided yesterday to throw Trump under the bus, it wasn’t because the bank suddenly grew a conscience. Instead it was because Deutsche Bank concluded that the best way to protect itself going forward was to sell Trump out.

msnbc logo CustomDeutsche Bank confirmed in a court filing yesterday that it does indeed have Donald Trump’s tax returns (Trump’s name was redacted, but he was literally the only person being asked about, so by definition his name was the only possible name that could have been in this court filing). Deutsche could have refused to confirm whether it has Trump’s tax deutsche bank logoreturns, or simply lied and claimed that it doesn’t have them. But Deutsche didn’t want to take that risk, and so undur the bus Trump went. The thing is, once that kind of selling out begins, it tends to continue.

It’s not all that surprising that after Deutsche Bank formally revealed that it has Donald Trump’s tax returns, it leaked to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, right, last night that its loans to Trump were co-signed by Russian oligarchs, and that Trump pays little to no taxes. And why not? Deutsche already put itself on a path yesterday to having to give all this information to House Democrats before much longer, so it might as well get the worst of it out there now, in the hope of getting out ahead of it.

lawrence odonnell last word graphic SmallIf anyone thought that a multibillion dollar for-profit entity like Deutsche Bank was going to keep protecting Donald Trump even if that meant harming itself, that was an overly naive expectation. In the end, there’s no honor among thieves, and it’s every crook for himself. Similarly, if this gets ugly enough that Senate Republicans feel they need to selfishly take Trump down in order to protect themselves, of course they’ll do it. They’re self-interested pragmatic villains, not cartoon characters.

2020 U.S. Politics

OpEdNews, Opinion: DNC's Outrageous Debate Poll Policy will keep Tulsi Gabbard and Tom Steyer out of the third debate, Rob Kall, Aug. 28, 2019. hat is outrageous. On its face, the policy of requiring candidates to achieve two percent in polls to show their viability as candidates is a bottom-up approach that seems fair. But it is fatally flawed.

The whole poll policy hands the process of how to poll and who to include in polls to the polling organizations, many of them mainstream media owned by multi-billion dollar corporations. For example, although Senator Mike Gravel raised over 67,000 donations he was not allowed in the second debate because he had not met the criteria in enough republican elephant logopolls. The problem was, not all pollsters including Gravel in their polls at all.

That alone is a reason not to consider poll results as a condition for eligibility to participate in debates. If the DNC required pollsters to include all declared candidates in their polls, it might start to look kosher. But imagine, if a private company was given the responsibility of counting votes. That would be ridiculous too. Oh, wait that's what most elections do, by trusting the electronic technology currently in use.

tulsi gabbard newConsider that Tulsi Gabbard, right, reports she has achieved at least two percent in 26 polls. But only two of them have met the DNC's criteria. Gabbard notes that "Many of the uncertified polls, including those conducted by highly reputable organizations such as The Economist and the Boston Globe, are ranked by Real Clear Politics and FiveThirtyEight as more accurate than some DNC "certified" polls."

dnc horizontal logoNow you could say that all candidates have had to deal with the same rules, But those rules are wrong and should not exist at all.

The DNC is right to seek bottom-up ways to show candidate viability. And the number of donors works for me. But polls are not really bottom-up. They are run by parties with special interests and conflicts of interest. They are decided by a handful of powerful people. And polls are notoriously unreliable.

There are better ways to create a formula for assessing eligibility and there are some bad ones. For example, looking at number of social media followers -- Twitter or Facebook -- is a bad way, because it is possible to set up fake accounts. It's said that millions of Trump's Twitter followers are fake.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats appear headed for a one-night presidential debate featuring 10 candidates in September, John Wagner, Democrats appeared headed for a single-night debate next month among 10 presidential hopefuls following the release Wednesday of two polls that did not help any additional candidates qualify for a spot on the stage in Houston.

The two polls — both of which showed former vice president Joe Biden holding a significant lead — were released on the final day for candidates to meet a combination of polling and fundraising requirements set by the Democratic National Committee that are more stringent than for the first two debates.

dnc square logoA formal announcement of qualifiers for the Sept 12. debate is expected Thursday. For other candidates to qualify, another poll would have to surface by the end of the day Wednesday.

Besides Biden, those who have qualified for the stage include Sen. Cory Booker (N.J); South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; former Obama Cabinet secretary Julián Castro; Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.); Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.); former congressman Beto O’Rourke (Tex.); Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.); Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

Candidates will have more time to qualify for an October debate, which will operate under the same rules.

The USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll released Wednesday morning showed Biden leading the Democratic field, with the support of 32 percent of likely voters. He was followed by Warren with 14 percent and Sanders, with 12 percent.

Roll Call, Kirsten Gillibrand drops out of Democratic presidential race, Bridget Bowman, Aug 28, 2019. New York senator had stressed women’s rights and her appeal to Trump voters in her campaign. New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand dropped out of the presidential race Wednesday after failing to make the third round of the Democratic primary debates.

kirsten gillibrand oGillibrand is the fourth presidential candidate to exit the contest in recent days, following former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton. Just 10 candidates appear to have qualified for the upcoming debate in September due to higher polling and donor thresholds set by the Democratic National Committee.

“It’s important to know when it’s not your time, and to know how you can best serve your community and your country,” Gillibrand said in a video posted on Twitter. “I believe I can best serve by helping to unite us to beat Donald Trump in 2020.”

Gillibrand, who made women’s rights central to her presidential campaign, told The New York Times that she would endorse another candidate in the primary but did not commit to backing another woman. The field still includes five women, including three of her Senate colleagues, Kamala Harris of California, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Roll Call, Sen. Johnny Isakson to resign at the end of 2019, Niels Lesniewski, Aug 28, 2019. Senator has been battling Parkinson’s disease, other health challenges. Sen. Johnny johnny isakson cropped smallIsakson announced Wednesday that he will resign his Senate seat at the end of 2019, setting up a potentially competitive race in 2020 in a key electoral state.

The Georgia Republican, rght, who is chairman of both the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the Ethics Committee, has been battling Parkinson’s disease. He has also been dealing with recovery from a fall that took place back in July. Isakson’s term was not set to expire until 2023.

Under Georgia law, Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, will be able to make an appointment to fill the unexpired term until the next regularly scheduled statewide elections in Georgia, meaning that there will likely be two Senate seats on the ballot simultaneously in 2020. GOP Sen. David Perdue is seeking reelection.

 

Inside DC

 

American Independent via BuzzFlash, Mike Pence "Celebrates" Cutting Planned Parenthood Healthcare for Women in Need, Kaili Joy Gray, Aug. 28, 2019. Mike Pence has been on mike pence oa mission to take women’s health care away from them since long before he became Trump’s vice president. So it’s not a surprise that he gleefully cheered when millions of people lost access to health care last week as a victory for his cause.

“Just last week, thanks to the strong stand for life President Trump has taken, tens of millions of dollars of federal family planning funding will no longer flow to the largest abortion provider in America,” Pence, right, said during a speech at the annual Faith & Freedom BBQ in South Carolina over the weekend.

But what Pence is celebrating is hardly a win for the millions of Americans who depend on Planned Parenthood for health care. Last week, the health care provider announced that it had been forced to withdraw from participating in Title X, the federal program that funds family planning services like birth control and health screenings for low-income Americans.

Current law already prohibits federal funds from being covering abortion, but that wasn’t enough for the Trump administration. So under the new so-called gag rule, organizations that receive Title X funds are barred from even discussing abortion with their patients.

Barr To Stuff Trump Christmas Stocking

djt william barr doj photo march 2019

Donald Trump meets Attorney General William Barr, right, as shown in a Justice Department photo in March 2019 shortly before Barr announced a misleading conclusion that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had clear Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, William Barr books Trump’s hotel for holiday party that could cost $30,000, Jonathan O'Connell and David A. Fahrenthold, Aug. 28, 2019 (print ed.). Federal officials determined no ethics rules prohibit the attorney general from hosting the private event, a Justice Department official said. But critics questioned whether the move was intended as a show of loyalty.

Attorney General William P. Barr is planning a holiday treat for his boss. Last month, Barr booked President Trump’s D.C. hotel for a 200-person holiday party in December that is likely to deliver Trump’s business more than $30,000 in revenue.

Barr signed a contract, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, for a “Family Holiday Party” in the hotel’s Presidential Ballroom Dec. 8. The party will feature a buffet and a four-hour open bar for about 200 people.

Barr is paying for the event himself and chose the venue only after other hotels, including the Willard and the Mayflower, were booked, according to a Justice Department official. The official said the purpose of Barr’s party wasn’t to curry favor with the president.

Barr’s decision to book his boss’s hotel marks the latest collision between Trump’s administration and his business, which the president no longer operates but from which he still benefits financially.

Trump said Monday that he was likely to hold next year’s Group of Seven international summit at his golf resort in Doral, Fla. Already the federal government and GOP campaigns have spent at least $1.6 million at his properties since he entered office, according to a Post analysis, though the actual figure is likely to be higher because of the difficulty of obtaining up-to-date records.

Culture Wars, Salvation, Hypocrisy

LGBTQ Nation, Jerry Falwell Jr. is ‘helping’ another young, athletic man with loads of cash for some reason, Alex Bollinger, Aug. 28, 2019. He gave his personal trainer a "sweet deal" worth over a million dollars. What's the motivation? We'll let you guess.

jerry falwell jr wLiberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr., left, has been caught helping push through another business deal that benefited a young, athletic man. This time, it’s his personal trainer who benefited and the university that gained little to nothing out of the deal.

In 2011, Falwell and his wife started training with Benjamin Crosswhite, a Liberty graduate who was 23 at the time. Things were going great – Falwell claimed to have lost 75 pounds from working with Crosswhite.

Later that year, Falwell sent an email that has been uncovered by Reuters where he urged Liberty officials to cut a “sweet deal” for Crosswhite.

Related: Was notorious homophobe Jerry Falwell Jr. blackmailed by his pool boy with ‘racy personal’ pics?

The deal was that Liberty would sell an 18-acre racquet sports and fitness facility for $2 million to Crosswhite. Of course, the young trainer didn’t have $2 million dollars on-hand, so Liberty agreed to rent the facility from him for their tennis team and paid him $650,000 upfront for the first nine years of the lease. The other $1.2 million Crosswhite paid for the facility was covered by a loan that Liberty made to him at a low 3% annual rate.

So the recent college graduate was able to purchase a $2 million facility for his business because the seller – Liberty University – gave him the money to buy it from them.

A year later, Falwell sent an email to Liberty officials directing them to lease more gym space to Crosswhite’s business for $2,300 per month.

“The concern is whether the university’s president wanted to do his personal trainer a favor and used Liberty assets to do it,” Douglas Anderson, a former internal audit chief at Dow Chemical told Reuters after reviewing the deal.

“At a minimum, the terms suggest the buyer got a great deal and Liberty got very little.”

Crosswhite is not responding to questions about the deal. The university said that the athletic facility was a “drain on university resources,” so they wanted to sell it. They said that they provided financing so that the school could continue to use the facility.

Records also show that Falwell took Crosswhite on a trip in Liberty’s private jet to Miami. Falwell said that his doctor is in Miami and he went for his annual physical and he wanted Crosswhite present to discuss his training and nutrition plan. Since Liberty requires a yearly physical for Falwell, he didn’t have to reimburse the university for the flight.

If this story sounds familiar, it’s because Falwell has faced scrutiny for his relationship with a young poolboy in Miami, Giancarlo Granda. Falwell gave Granda $1.8 million to help buy an LGBTQ-friendly Miami Beach hotel, even though Falwell himself and Liberty University aren’t LGBTQ-friendly. Granda also got to ride in Liberty’s private jet.

The difference is that he used his personal money to help Granda. Crosswhite benefited from Liberty money, which is a nonprofit that depends on federal student loan money to operate.

Falwell gets a salary of almost $1 million from Liberty and is required to put the university’s financial interests before his own. He said in a statement that he tried to be “a business mentor” to Crosswhite but that did not “cause him to abandon his fiduciary duties” to the university.

Aug. 27

Major New 9/11 Findings Due Sept. 3

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Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911 Truth), Advocacy: You Can Change the Course of 9/11 Truth by Sharing the Building 7 Study Widely, Richard Gage, AIA (AE911 Truth ae 911 truth blue horizontal logoFounder and CEO), Aug. 27, 2019. Exactly one week from today, the breakthrough Building 7 Study by Dr. Leroy Hulsey will be released, creating a groundswell of scientific discourse and public awareness that will change the course of 9/11 Truth forever.

I urgently need your help to raise $50,000 by Saturday in order to make the release of this study the watershed moment we all need it to be. Fortunately, a determined donor has stepped forward with a generous challenge gift of $5,000, meaning that he is challenging the community — including you — to equal his donation by August 31st.

Will you donate now to make sure this report is spread far and wide?

When you give today, your gift will be used immediately (as in next week!) to launch a multi-channel public awareness campaign about this groundbreaking study. For example, ae 911 truth hulsey study graphic Customfor just $25 you can ensure that ten engineers receive our large-format postcard (plus you’ll receive one, too!), helping us reach 20,000 engineers across the country.

Not only that, but your gift will be used to organize presentations across the country, hold a major news conference in Washington D.C. with the Franklin Square fire commissioners, produce a powerful short video for social media, commission a new YouGov survey, and more.

Will you give generously today to make sure we take full advantage of this opportunity to change the trajectory of 9/11 Truth permanently?

Gratefully yours,

Richard Gage, AIA

PS: There are only five days left to have your gift DOUBLED and spread the word about this breakthrough Building 7 Study — so please give by August 31st!

 Explosive Trump Bank Records?

lawrence odonnell last word graphic Small

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC, Trump Bank Records Show Russian Oligarch Co-Signers: Report, Lawrence O'Donnell, Aug. 27, 2019. MSNBC "The Last Word" host Lawrence O'Donnell quoted an anonymous source "close to Deutsche Bank" on Aug. 27 as stating that Donald Trump's banking records undergoing litigation in New York City's federal court for potential release show: that he has paid "very little" income tax, as shown by the records, and that his massive loans provided to him by the bank show as co-signers Russian oligarchs close to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

If true, said news commentators and authors David Cay Johnston and John Heilmann, the materials could be devastating to Trump politically. See related news and commentary below.

Update: Trump attorney demands NBC retract under threat of litigation. O'Donnell retracts and apologizes.

ny times logoNew York Times, Deutsche Bank said it had tax returns sought by congressional subpoenas issued this year to Mr. Trump and his family, David Enrich and Emily Flitter, Aug. 27, 2019. Deutsche Bank told a federal appeals court on Tuesday that it was in possession of some tax returns sought by congressional subpoenas issued earlier this year to President Trump, his family and his businesses.

In a letter to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the German lender wrote that it “has in its possession tax returns (in either draft or as-filed form).”

deutsche bank logoAlthough the identities of the people or organizations were redacted in the publicly available document, current and former bank officials have said Deutsche Bank has portions of Mr. Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns for multiple years as part of the reams of financial data it has collected over its two-decade relationship with him.

But a lawyer for the congressional committees said at last week’s hearing there was good reason to seek the documents.

The financial services committee, as part of an examination of money laundering in real estate, is looking at Mr. Trump’s finances to determine whether he helped Russians and other foreign buyers launder money through his properties, said the committees’ lawyer, Douglas Letter. He said the intelligence committee was trying to determine whether Mr. Trump’s financial dealings made him subject to foreign influence.

Deutsche Bank has long been Mr. Trump’s primary lender. For most years, it has only the first several pages of his tax returns, according to the current and former bank officials, but the bank possesses far more detailed financial data. That includes balance sheets, financial statements and documents detailing the organization of Mr. Trump’s web of businesses, the people said.

Congressional investigators believe those documents could be more helpful than the tax returns to understanding Mr. Trump’s web of businesses and sources of his money.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Deutsche Bank just dropped terrible news on Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Aug. 27, 2019. For as long as House Democrats have been battling in court to get President Donald Trump officialtheir hands on Donald Trump’s financial records, Deutsche Bank has been caught in the middle of it all. It’s widely suspected that Russia has been using the bank to launder money to Trump for years. In addition, there have been reports that Deutsche Bank may have Trump’s tax returns.

Earlier this week, the courts ruled that Deutsche Bank must reveal whether or not it does indeed have Donald Trump’s tax returns. Just now, within the past few minutes, Deutsche went ahead and confirmed that it does have Trump’s tax returns, according to NY Times reporter Susanne Craig. The bank also confirmed that it has tax returns for one or more unnamed members of Trump’s “immediate family.” So why is this such a big deal?

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump has control of the Treasury Department, which means that directly obtaining his tax returns was always going to be a long and grinding process that might never end up happening. But now that it turns out Deutsche Bank has Trump’s tax returns, House Democrats just have to get the courts to order Deutsche to turn them over. At that point Deutsche will likely do it, in order to avoid whatever financial or contempt penalties that courts might dish out.

deutsche bank logoIn other words, House Democrats have now essentially won this issue. If Deutsche Bank were going to lay down on the proverbial tracks for Donald Trump, it would have done so by refusing to acknowledge that it even has his tax returns. Now it’s just a matter of time before the courts – which do tend to move glacially on these things – give the order, and Deutsche turns them over.

There will be literally nothing Trump can do to stop this, because he doesn’t control the courts. It’s now probable that House Democrats will have Trump’s tax returns within months, and almost guaranteed that they’ll have them before the 2020 election.

Epstein Victim Hearing

jeffrey epstein trumps cropped ghislaine maxwell Photo by Davidoff Studios Getty Images vanity fair

  • Jeffery Epstein,  highlighted, with the Trumps and Ghislaine Maxwell, right (Photo by Davidoff Studios/Getty Images)

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Justice has never been served in this case’: Women who say Epstein abused them speak, to be heard, Renae Merle and Matt Zapotosky​, Aug. 27, 2019. The hearing was intended for the court to consider a request to drop sex trafficking charges against the late Jeffrey Epstein. But a judge, Richard Berman, right, allowed the richard bermanwomen, who will not get the trial they sought.

One by one, the women stood at the front of a federal courtroom, fighting back tears as they described how Jeffrey Epstein coerced and abused them, and — to the end — avoided their efforts to bring him to justice.

The women would have preferred a trial. But because Epstein, a politically connected multimillionaire, killed himself in federal custody this month, authorities said, they got only this: a hearing, at which a judge weighed prosecutors’ request to drop the new sex-trafficking charges brought against the registered sex offender.

For the victims, there will be no final face-to-face confrontation with the man they say abused them. For Epstein, there will be no weighing of the evidence by his peers. Instead, those who say Epstein abused them shared their stories with each other and the world, and their frustration that the case had come to this.

courtney wild 14 epstein victimsCourtney Wild, left, who alleges Epstein sexually abused her when she was 14 years old, told the courtroom that the financier’s death in federal custody had “robbed myself and all of the other victims” of a chance to confront him in court.

“For that, he is a coward,” Wild said. “I feel very angry, sad. And justice has never been served in this case.”

Wild, who had spoken publicly in the past, was first to address the court, but she was followed by many.

There appear to have been several significant lapses at the jail where Epstein was being held, and Reid H. Weingarten, one of Epstein’s attorneys, asked Berman on Tuesday to conduct an independent inquiry into Epstein’s death. Prosecutors said that was not the point of Tuesday’s hearing.

Weingarten said Epstein’s defense team was “skeptical of the certitude of the medical examiner’s conclusion that this was suicide” and was frustrated to receive most information about the case from reporters.

“We ask your honor . . . to find out what happened to our client. We’re angry about the conditions he was held in,” Weingarten said. “We don’t know what happened. We deeply want to know what happened to our client.”

Dems, Lawyers Seek Probe

jeffrey epstein complex dcma federal court protester

A protester against sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein holds his  photo aloft before his death in his cell

The Hill, Democrats call on House committees to probe Epstein's 2008 'sweetheart deal,' suicide, Zack Budryk, Aug. 27, 2019. Forty-four House Democrats are calling on the House Judiciary and Oversight and Reform committees to investigate late financier and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s plea deal from 2008 and his suicide this month while in federal custody.

lois frankel o“Epstein’s victims deserve justice and the public needs to know why a prolific child molester got a slap on the wrist instead of a long prison sentence,” Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), right, co-chairwoman of the Democratic Women’s Caucus and lead signatory of Tuesday's letter, said in a statement.

“Persons with relevant information should be questioned under oath and survivors should be given a forum to be heard if they so desire,” she added.

Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 to soliciting an underage girl for prostitution, part of an agreement that allowed him to serve just over a year behind bars and spend most of each day outside the prison. At least two women have alleged he abused them during his work release.

He was arrested in July, about a decade later, on sex trafficking charges. A few weeks later Epstein was found nonresponsive in his cell at Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York and pronounced dead on Aug. 10.

jackie speier abcAttorney General William Barr has vowed an investigation into the circumstances of his death.

“Congress has a duty to give these victims a platform and shine a bright light on the shadowy circumstances surrounding this preferential plea deal. Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes were not restricted to him alone,” Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), shown in a file photo at left, said in a statement Tuesday.

“All those who aided and abetted in this travesty of justice must answer for their illegal conduct. The survivors of Epstein’s exploitation demand and deserve nothing less,” she added.

Democrats signing the letter range from moderates and leaders aligned with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), such as Reps. Ben Ray Luján (N.M.) and Cheri Bustos (Ill.), as well as progressives like Reps. Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.).

 Opioid Drug Verdict

ny times logoNew York Times, Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay $572 Million in Landmark Opioid Trial, Jan Hoffman, Aug. 27, 2019. (print ed.). A judge in Oklahoma ruled against the corporate giant, holding it responsible for the state’s drug crisis. The closely watched case could be a warning for some two dozen opioid makers, distributors and retailers that face more than 2,000 similar lawsuits.

johnson johnson logoA judge in Oklahoma on Monday ruled that Johnson & Johnson had intentionally played down the dangers and oversold the benefits of opioids, and ordered it to pay the state $572 million in the first trial of a drug manufacturer for the destruction wrought by prescription painkillers.

The amount fell far short of the $17 billion judgment that Oklahoma had sought to pay for addiction treatment, drug courts and other services it said it would need over the next 20 years to repair the damage done by the opioid epidemic.

Still, the decision, by Judge Thad Balkman of Cleveland County District Court, heartened lawyers representing states and cities — plaintiffs in many of the more than 2,000 opioid lawsuits pending across the country — who are pursuing a legal strategy similar to Oklahoma’s. His finding that Johnson & Johnson had breached the state’s “public nuisance” law was a significant aspect of his order.

ny times logoNew York Times, Other states are suing a range of drug makers. Why was Johnson & Johnson the only one on trial in Oklahoma? Jan Hoffman, Aug. 26, 2019. Some two dozen opioid manufacturers, drug distributors and retailers are now being sued by states, counties, cities and tribes across the nation for their roles in the opioid crisis, yet Johnson & Johnson, the corporate giant, wound up as the only company on trial in Oklahoma despite the fact that its drugs accounted for only about 1 percent of opioid sales in the state.

Inside DC

Axios, Trump to formally nominate Eugene Scalia as labor secretary, Ursula Perano, aug. 27, 2019. President Trump on Tuesday announced his intention to nominate Eugene eugene scalia screenshotScalia, right, son of the late conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, as labor secretary.

Why it matters: The Cabinet position has been filled by acting Secretary Patrick Pizzella since Alex Acosta resigned in July amid backlash for his involvement in negotiating the sweetheart plea deal Jeffrey Epstein received in 2008. Acosta had already been on shaky ground with Trump for moving slowly on deregulation, one of the administration's top priorities.

What to know: Scalia is a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where he handles employment law. He previously worked at the Labor Department during President George Bush's administration and also served as an assistant to Attorney General William Barr in the 1990s.

TU.S. Politics / Economy

ny times logoNew York Times, Farmers’ Frustration With Trump Grows as U.S. Escalates China Fight, Alan Rappeport, Aug. 27, 2019. Sales of American agricultural products to China have dried up amid the trade war, a problem for President Trump as more farmers lose patience.

Peppered with complaints from farmers fed up with President Trump’s trade war, Sonny Perdue found his patience wearing thin. Mr. Perdue, the agriculture secretary and the guest of honor at the annual Farmfest gathering in southern Minnesota this month, tried to break the ice with a joke.

“What do you call two farmers in a basement?” Mr. Perdue asked near the end of a testy hourlong town-hall-style event. “A whine cellar.”

A cascade of boos ricocheted around the room. American farmers have become collateral damage in a trade war that Mr. Trump began to help manufacturers and other companies that he believes have been hurt by China’s “unfair” trade practices.

Losing the world’s most populous country as an export market has been a major blow to the agriculture industry. Total American agricultural exports to China were $24 billion in 2014 and fell to $9.1 billion last year, according to the American Farm Bureau. Exports of farm products to China fell by $1.3 billion in the first half of the year, the agriculture group said this month.

A report from the Agriculture Department this month found that Canadian wheat exports to China have “rocketed” this year, while exports from the United States have plunged.

Global Migration: India

washington post logoWashington Post, A crackdown on suspected illegal immigrants could leave millions stateless in India, Niha Masih, Aug. 27, 2019 (print ed.). More than 30 million people in Assam have undergone a citizenship test that has proved impossible for many to navigate, particularly the poor and uneducated, human rights groups say.

In less than a week, millions of people in India will find out whether they remain citizens of the country, with the culmination of a byzantine process that critics say could be the world’s largest exercise in forced statelessness.

india flag mapOver the past four years, a state in northeastern India has subjected its 31 million residents to an exacting citizenship test aimed at identifying immigrants in the country illegally, primarily from neighboring Bangladesh. People had to produce ancestral documents dating back decades and prove links to their parents.

No one knows what will happen to the millions who are left off the final list, known as the National Register of Citizens, which is expected to be published on Saturday. It is known that authorities are setting up detention centers and tribunals, sparking fears of arrest, incarceration or deportation. Families worry about being separated or becoming disenfranchised, unable to vote or access public services.

Camera Not Working At Epstein's Cell

Metropolitan Correctional Center (www.PrisonInsight.com photo via Flickr)

Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City (www.PrisonInsight.com photo via Flickr)

washington post logoWashington Post, Some video footage from outside Epstein’s cell is unusable, people familiar with investigation say, Carol D. Leonnig and Matt Zapotosky, Aug. 27, 2019. It’s unclear whether the taping flaw affected a limited duration of the footage — deemed critical to determining what happened to Jeffrey Epstein — or whether it was a chronic problem.

At least one camera in the hallway outside the cell where authorities say registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein hanged himself earlier this month had footage that is unusable, although other, clearer footage was captured in the area, according to three people briefed on the evidence gathered earlier this month.

It was not immediately clear why some video footage outside Epstein’s cell is too flawed for investigators to use or what is visible in the usable footage. The incident is being investigated by the FBI and the Justice Department’s inspector general’s office, which are attempting to determine what happened and how to assess whether any policies were violated or crimes committed.

The footage is considered critical to those inquiries, and the revelation of an unusable recording is yet another of the apparent failures inside the Metropolitan Correctional Center, the short-staffed Bureau of Prisons facility in downtown Manhattan that held Epstein.

Brazilian Fires / Climate

washington post logojair bolsonaro brazilWashington Post, Brazil rejects G-7 Amazon aid citing its lack of involvement in decision to grant it, Marina Lopes and Terrence McCoy, Aug. 27, 2019. Brazil will reject a donation of $22.2 million to help fight the fires that have swept across the Amazon because it was not involved in the decision-making process, the country’s ambassador to France said Tuesday. Jair Bolsonaro, right, campaigned on a promise to open the Amazon up for business and development. Since his inauguration in January, deforestation and fires in the rainforest have surged.

Trump's Mental State

washington post logoWashington Post, 68 minutes in Biarritz: A glimpse into Trump’s unorthodox mind, Josh Dawsey, Aug. 27, 2019. The president offered a range of false or dubious statements during a freewheeling news conference at the G-7 summit. For many minutes on Monday, President Trump stood on foreign soil at the close of the Group of Seven summit here and trashed his predecessor. He bragged about his personal properties from the presidential podium and suggested that he will hold next year’s G-7 gathering at his Doral golf course in Florida, which has “incredible” conference rooms and “magnificent” bungalows.

g 7 logo france 2019And he defended both Vladi­mir Putin and Kim Jong Un, suggesting that the Russian strongman deserves an invite to future G-7 summits and that the North Korean dictator is an honorable man who will not let Trump down.

The U.S. president’s news conference here was presaged by an aide saying Trump would answer anything if the first two questions stayed on topic. Trump seemed more interested when the questions went off topic — and for 68 minutes in a seaside auditorium, he offered a lens into his un­or­tho­dox mind, a range of false or dubious statements, and the myriad ways he has changed the presidency in 31 months.

Media Criticism

real news networkThe Real News Network, Opinion: Corporate Media Bias Against Sanders Is Structural, Not a Conspiracy, Greg Wilpert, Aug. 27, 2019 (video interview transcript). What the United States needs is a real discussion about the systematic structural bias against politicians and political movements that question corporate control over the news, say RootsAction.org founders Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon

bernie sanders gage skidmoreGREG WILPERT: Almost two weeks ago, there was a slight blip in the news cycle in which Bernie Sanders confronted corporate media with a claim that their coverage might be biased. Of course, corporate media outlets have been facing this charge ever since Trump became president, but this time it came from Senator Sanders, who said the following.

BERNIE SANDERS (shown in a Gage Skidmore file photo): Anybody here know how much Amazon paid in taxes last year? Bernie Sanders: I talk about that all of the time and then I wonder why The Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos who owns Amazon, doesn’t write particularly good articles about me. I don’t know why.

The reaction to Sanders’ claim that The Washington Post coverage of him is biased against him generated a wave of pushback. The Washington Post Chief Editor, Martin Baron, said that Sanders is pushing a conspiracy theory when he suggested that Jeff Bezos interferes with the work of the newspaper. Many other corporate news outlets followed suit, saying that Sanders failed to provide evidence, and that he was copying a page from Trump’s playbook.

Trump Watch: Market Scams?

donald trump money Custom

Donald Trump (Palmer Report graphic)

Palmer Report, Analysis: The real reason Donald Trump keeps manipulating the stock market, Bill Palmer, Aug. 27, 2019. Early yesterday, Donald Trump sent the U.S. stock market on a wild ride when he announced that China had called him and sought to end their ongoing trade war. Investors hate the trade war, so they went on a buying frenzy at the prospect of it ending. Then later yesterday, China announced that no such phone calls had taken place. Stock market investors were duped into pushing the Dow Jones up a couple hundred points based on, for lack of a better term, fake news.

bill palmer report logo headerThrough his tariffs, his tweets, and now his lies about phone calls, Donald Trump keeps sending the stock market up and down in chaotic fashion. This has led to a popular debate about whether he’s doing it on purpose, so he can keep buying low and selling high. Even Andrew Gillum, the respected recent candidate for Governor of Florida, is now asking the question. This wouldn’t be the first (or the tenth) instance of Trump abusing the presidency in order to line his own pocket, but there’s more to it.

Trump is too debt-ridden and cash-poor to have anything to invest in the stock market himself, and we know that no one is willing to loan him money anymore. For that matter, his antics consistently come across as the actions an erratic guy who’s desperate to prove that he’s smarter than his fellow world leaders, better at economics than his President Donald Trump officialpredecessor, and inclined to blow off steam each time things go further south for him. If Trump were trying to make the market go up and down in strategically, he could do it much more effectively while being far less obvious about it.

There is nothing that suggests that Donald Trump is doing any of these things because he’s trying to manipulate the market for his own personal gain. There is, however, another possibility. What if someone who has Trump’s ear, and who is invested in the stock market, has been steering an unwitting Trump into taking erratic action at just the right times?

Keep in mind that Donald Trump barely seems to know what he’s saying or doing lately. The notion of him as master manipulator just doesn’t hold water – at least not these days. Given what we’re seeing play out, if the market is being manipulated, the most logical explanation would be that someone in Trump’s orbit is goading him into these absurd tariffs and rabid tweets. Either that, or we’re seeing Trump erratically go off the deep end without rhyme or reason, manipulating the stock market at random because he’s just that mentally incompetent, and we’re all trying too hard to find a logical explanation when there simply isn’t one.

U.S. Education Visa Dispute

Harvard Crimson, Incoming Harvard Freshman Deported After Visa Revoked, Shera S. Avi-Yonah and Delano R. Franklin, Aug. 27, 2019. While most Harvard freshmen settle into their dorms Tuesday, one new student, Ismail B. Ajjawi ’23, faces ongoing negotiations with immigration officers to allow him to enter the United States and study at the College.

U.S. officials deported Ajjawi, a 17-year-old Palestinian resident of Tyre, Lebanon, Friday night shortly after he arrived at Boston Logan International Airport. Before canceling Ajjawi’s visa, immigration officers subjected him to hours of questioning — at one point leaving to search his phone and computer — according to a written statement by Ajjawi.

University officials are currently working to resolve the matter before classes begin on Sept. 3, Harvard spokesperson Jonathan L. Swain wrote in an email.

U. S. Customs and Border Protection spokesperson Michael S. McCarthy wrote in an emailed statement that CBP found Ajjawi "inadmissible" to the country. "Applicants must demonstrate they are admissible into the U.S. by overcoming ALL grounds of inadmissibility including health-related grounds, criminality, security reasons, public charge, labor certification, illegal entrants and immigration violations, documentation requirements, and miscellaneous grounds," McCarthy wrote. "This individual was deemed inadmissible to the United States based on information discovered during the CBP inspection.”

Ajjawi wrote that he spent eight hours in Boston before he was required to leave. Upon arrival, Ajjawi faced questioning from immigration officials along with several other international students. While the other students were allowed to leave, Ajjawi alleges an immigration officer continued to question him about his religion and religious practices in Lebanon.

The same officer then asked him to unlock his phone and laptop, and left to search them for roughly five hours, Ajjawi alleges. After the search, the officer questioned him about his friends’ social media activity.

“When I asked every time to have my phone back so I could tell them about the situation, the officer refused and told me to sit back in [my] position and not move at all,” he wrote. “After the 5 hours ended, she called me into a room , and she started screaming at me. She said that she found people posting political points of view that oppose the US on my friend[s] list.”

Ajjawi wrote that he told the officer he had not made any political posts and that he should not be held responsible for others’ posts. “I responded that I have no business with such posts and that I didn't like, [s]hare or comment on them and told her that I shouldn't be held responsible for what others post,” he wrote. “I have no single post on my timeline discussing politics.”

The officer then canceled Ajjawi’s visa, informed him he would be deported, and allowed him a phone call to his parents.

ny times logoNew York Times, Tropical Storm Dorian: Puerto Rico Declares an Emergency, ricia Mazzei and Adeel Hassan, Aug. 27, 2019. As the storm crossed into the eastern Caribbean, Puerto Rico was under a state of emergency and faced the possibility of a direct hit.

Aug. 26

Trumpism = Fascism?

djt as chosen one

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: The 21 signs of fascism -- 20 can be checked off under Trump, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 26, 2019 (subscription required). In 2000, this editor had the pleasure of spending several hours in a Venetian courtyard talking with Umberto Eco, the famed Italian author and philosopher.....In 1995, Eco had written an article for The New York Review of Books titled “Ur-fascism.” Borrowing from his experiences living in Fascist Italy, Eco breaks down the fundamental aspects of fascism in the article:....

Trump Trade Wars

washington post logoWashington Post, G-7 summit set to end amid Trump’s mixed messaging on the trade war, Toluse Olorunnipa, Michael Birnbaum and Damian g 7 logo france 2019Paletta, Aug. 26, 2019. There is no indication world leaders have made any progress on tackling such major global challenges as climate change, a slowing world economy or nuclear proliferation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump sings the praises of his resort in Florida as possible G-7 host for 2020, Josh Dawsey and David A. Fahrenthold, Aug. 26, 2019. Aides say the president has sought for months to hold the summit in Doral, but many of his advisers have warned against the idea.

Consortium News, Opinion: Brexit & the Madness of the ‘Sovereign Individual,’ Daniel Lazar, Aug. 26, 2019. While Trump engages in a war of words with everyone from Denmark to Iran, Johnson is threatening to storm out of the European Union even though the likely result will be economic havoc and, in Northern Ireland, a return of the low-grade civil war that killed and wounded some 50,000 people over the course of three decades.

Somewhere, somehow, there must be a method to their madness. But what can it be? The answer may lie in the 1997 bestseller “The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition to the Information Age.” Written by popular stock analyst James Dale Davidson and former Financial Times editor William Rees-Mogg, it’s basically a primer on how to profit from the coming politico-economic apocalypse.

What makes it oddly prescient, as publications ranging from the Guardian to The New European have pointed out, is lineage. William Rees-Mogg is the father of Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the House of Commons and Britain’s best-known advocate for a “hard Brexit” after BoJo himself, as Johnson is popularly known.

Basically, the book is not only an ode to the coming apocalypse but an extended assault on the 20th-century nation-state. That is something that people fought and died for but which Davidson and Rees-Mogg père associate with high taxes, burdensome regulation, and the pain and torture of having to do what other people tell them to.

Hence, its demise is to be welcomed since it will unleash a revolutionary new force, that of the unchained individual. “The new Sovereign Individual,” they write, “will operate like the gods of myth in the same physical environment as the ordinary, subject citizen but in a separate realm politically. Commanding vastly greater resources and beyond the reach of many forms of compulsion, the Sovereign Individual will redesign government and reconfigure economies in the new millennium.”

With “much of the world’s commerce … migrat[ing] into the new realm of cyberspace,” the book goes on, the old “nation-state, with all its pretensions, will starve to death as its tax revenues decline.” Democracy, which “flourished as a fraternal twin of Communism precisely because it facilitated unimpeded control of resources by the state,” will likewise wither away. So will hoary old concepts like “equal protection under the law” that rest on “power relations that are soon to be obsolete.”

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Trial of High-Powered Lawyer Exposes Seamy Side of Washington’s Elite, Sharon LaFraniere, Aug. 26, 2019. Details Gregory Craigfrom Gregory Craig’s trial illustrate how lawyers, lobbyists and others braved slippery ethical paths for a big payday. In a federal courtroom this month, one of Washington’s most prominent lawyers — a former White House counsel and attorney to global statesmen and other icons — is battling criminal charges of lying to investigators about his work for a shady foreign client.

But the most riveting aspect of the case against the lawyer, Gregory B. Craig, right, is not his innocence or guilt. Rather, it is the depiction of the seamy world of power brokers like Mr. Craig that prosecutors have painted during nearly two weeks of testimony and in an array of court filings.

Mr. Craig’s trial has supplanted any image of Washington’s elite as sage Brahmins with a vivid picture of the ruling class at its avaricious worst. The details include a $4 million payment shunted through a secret offshore account to Mr. Craig’s law firm, a backdated invoice, a lying publicist, a scheme to net one player’s daughter a cushy job and a bungled wiretap by a suspected Russian intelligence asset nicknamed “the angry midget.”

Taken together, they illustrate how lawyers, lobbyists and public relations specialists leapt onto slippery ethical slopes to cash in on a foreign government’s hopes of papering over its sordid reputation.

ny times logoNew York Times, The U.S. Election Watchdog Needs 4 of 6 Members to Enforce the Law. It Now Has 3, Shane Goldmacher, Aug. 26, 2019. The Federal Election Commission soon won’t have enough members to legally meet.

The Federal Election Commission, the beleaguered independent agency that is supposed to serve as the watchdog over how money is raised and spent in American elections, has long been criticized as dysfunctional, if not toothless.

Now the state of affairs at the agency is poised to get even worse: It will no longer even have enough commissioners to legally meet.

The resignation of Vice Chairman Matthew S. Petersen, announced on Monday and scheduled for the end of August, will effectively freeze the F.E.C.’s governance, leaving it one person short of a quorum and thus unable to take on some of its most basic actions, including holding board meetings, starting audits, making new rules and levying fines for campaign finance violations.

“Voters should be extremely concerned,” said Ann M. Ravel, a Democrat and former F.E.C. chairwoman who stepped down in 2017 and who has not been replaced. “If you do not have the ability to do any kind of enforcement, then there isn’t any kind of respect for the law.”

Global News: Indonesia

CNN, Indonesia will build its new capital city in Borneo as Jakarta sinks into the Java Sea, Rob Picheta, Aug. 26, 2019. A jungle-covered area cnn logoon the east of Borneo island is set to be transformed into Indonesia's new capital city, the country's President Joko Widodo has announced.

A jungle-covered area on the east of Borneo island is set to be transformed into Indonesia's new capital city. Concerns over the sustainability of the congested and rapidly sinking political center of Jakarta prompted the need for a new capital. The relocation was joko widodoannounced Monday by President Joko Widodo,right,.

The proposed location, near the relatively underdeveloped cities of Balikpapan and Samarinda, is a far cry from the crowded powerhouse which has served as Indonesia's financial heart since 1949 -- and Widodo acknowledged that moving the country's capital to the island will be a mammoth and expensive undertaking.

But Jakarta's rapid expansion in recent years has presented myriad environmental, economic and safety concerns, prompting the government to look elsewhere and ease the strain on the massive metropolis.

indonesia flag"As a large nation that has been independent for 74 years, Indonesia has never chosen its own capital," Widodo said in a televised speech, AFP reported. "The burden Jakarta is holding right now is too heavy as the center of governance, business, finance, trade and services."

The ambitious project to move the capital will likely cost around 486 trillion rupiah ($34 billion), CNN Indonesia reported, and officials have previously said the relocation could take around 10 years.

Jakarta is home to more than 10 million people, according to the United Nations, with an estimated 30 million in the greater metropolitan area -- making it one of the world's most overpopulated urban regions.

Epstein Scandal

whowhatwhy logoruss bakerWhoWhatWhy, Opinion: Epstein Death: Deep Digging Not Welcome in Corporate Media, Russ Baker, right, Aug. 26, 2019. When news broke of Jeffrey Epstein’s death in prison, some corporate media were quick to assure the public — as they so often do — that whatever that was about, it should not be viewed as involving any sort of conspiratorial behavior.

They did question why Epstein was taken off suicide watch, especially since he allegedly attempted to kill himself in July, but few considered foul play. Even before the medical examiner’s final report, they accepted the government’s statement that Epstein had killed himself. Epstein’s death was labeled a suicide, and, basically, that was that.

The thing is, many people find the “suicide” scenario suspicious. Which is why recent polls show that just 29 percent of the American public believe it was suicide. It’s important to recall that, historically, journalism has not had such a great track record....This is what the media does — and another reason why the public does not trust them.

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, The N.R.A. Has Trump. But It Has Lost Allies in Congress, Maggie Astor and Weiyi Cai, Aug. 26, 2019. The N.R.A. has been assigning fewer A’s and more F’s to Democrats elected to Congress each cycle. The National Rifle Association has significantly fewer allies in Congress than it did a decade ago, a decline driven by the near-total fraying of the group’s ties to Democrats in the House and the Senate, according to a New York Times analysis of the group’s letter grades and endorsements.

nra logo CustomThe N.R.A. still has considerable clout with Republicans, including President Trump and Senate leaders, and it is now flexing its muscles in the debate over background checks. Yet for many years, the group’s influence was broader and deeper because of its large numbers of friends in both parties. These political allies received “A” ratings from the N.R.A. and often feared grade reductions if they crossed it.

Now, the number of Democrats in the House with “A” ratings has fallen from 63 after the 2008 elections to three after the 2018 midterms.

The Times analysis looked at complete data on N.R.A. ratings and endorsements for six election cycles, from 2008 through 2018.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s 2020 primary challenge is already awash in controversy, Ron Leshnower, Aug. 26, 2019. Former South Carolina Governor and Congressman Mark Sanford has been deciding whether he should run against Donald Trump for the Republican mark sanford onomination in 2020. Sanford lost his House seat after Trump mocked him about a prior scandal and urged voters to back his Republican opponent in the primary last year.

As for running against Trump for the nomination, it seems Sanford, right, is already doing a fine job of kneecapping his own candidacy — before he has even determined if he will go through with it.

bill palmer report logo headerWhen MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asked Sanford earlier this month about whom he would vote for if the election is between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, Sanford muttered, “I mean, again, I am a Republican…” and continued to hedge. Matthews wouldn’t have it. Reminding Sanford that Biden is a more moderate Democrat and that Sanford is supposedly “out there to knock Trump off,” Matthews pressed him further: “You’d go Trump over Biden?” Finally, Sanford committed to an answer: “I would.”

Sanford then had a similar exchange with Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” this past Sunday. After praising the Republican Party republican elephant logofor its “great lineage of historically doing some great things right,” Sanford expressed his concern that “it’s gone off the tracks of late. We have a cult of personality right now,” referring to the man who derailed his Congressional career last year.

Todd cut to the chase, asking Sanford whether Trump has “earned reelection yet” and if “he deserves reelection.” Sanford answered no to both questions, insisting that Trump is “taking us in the wrong direction.” Then, just as Matthews had done, Todd asked Sanford if he would support Trump if he becomes the nominee, even over the more moderate Biden. Sanford again said he would vote for Trump—simply because “I’m a Republican.”

Major NYC Education Shift?

ny times logoNew York Times, Desegregation Plan: Close All Gifted Programs in New York, Eliza Shapiro, Aug. 26, 2019. A group appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed seismic changes to the nation’s largest school system.

For years, New York City has essentially maintained two parallel public school systems.

A group of selective schools and programs geared to students labeled gifted and talented is filled mostly with white and Asian children. The rest of the system is open to all students and is predominantly black and Hispanic.

bill de blasio 11 2 2013Now, a high-level panel appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, left, is recommending that the city do away with most of these selective programs in an effort to desegregate the system, which has 1.1 million students and is by far the largest in the country.

Mr. de Blasio, who has staked his mayoralty on reducing inequality, has the power to adopt some or all of the proposals without input from the State Legislature or City Council. If he does, the decision would fundamentally reshape a largely segregated school system and could reverberate in school districts across the country.

The plan includes all elementary school gifted programs, screened middle schools and some high schools — with the exception of Stuyvesant High School and the city’s seven other elite high schools, whose admission is partially controlled by Albany.

More On Epstein Scandal Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005. Credit Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005 (Joe Schildhorn / Patrick McMullan,via Getty Images)

ny times logoNew York Times, The Sisters Who First Tried to Take Down Jeffrey Epstein, Mike Baker, Aug. 26, 2019. Nine years before any investigation, Maria and Annie Farmer reported the troubling behavior of Mr. Epstein and his companion, Ghislaine Maxwell. No one would act.

As more women have come forward in recent days to describe assaults at the hands of Jeffrey Epstein, Maria Farmer finds herself distraught, wondering what might have happened if someone had taken her seriously.

Twenty-four years ago, Ms. Farmer was an artist who had entered the unorthodox life Mr. Epstein lived behind the doors of his luxury estates. Mr. Epstein had offered to help her painting career, but it all came to an abrupt end one night in the summer of 1996, when she says Mr. Epstein and his companion, Ghislaine Maxwell, began violently groping her.

She learned later that her 16-year-old sister, Annie Farmer, had been subjected to a troubling topless massage at Mr. Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico.

Ms. Farmer contacted the New York Police Department, and said she then went to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, offering to share what she knew about Mr. Epstein and the parade of young women being brought to Mr. Epstein’s houses. Though the bureau has never acknowledged such a contact, Ms. Farmer said the F.B.I. must have had a record of it, because agents came back to her — years later — with questions. She also went to leaders in the New York art world that Mr. Epstein and Ms. Maxwell frequented, and the sisters tried to tell their story to a national magazine.

There, at the age of 25, she was introduced to Mr. Epstein’s odd life, with girls and young women coming through for what she recalled Ms. Maxwell describing as modeling auditions for the lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret. The house at times bustled in anticipation of potential visits from Bill Clinton, although she never actually saw him there.

She said she met Donald Trump one day in Mr. Epstein’s office, recalling Mr. Trump eyeing her before Mr. Epstein informed him that “she’s not for you.” Ms. Farmer’s mother, Janice Swain, recalled her daughter detailing the interaction with Mr. Trump around the time it occurred.

jeffrey epstein virgin islands youtube Small 2

 Jeffrey Epstein’s compound in the Virgin Islands. (YouTube)

Consortium News, Opinion: Long Before Epstein: Sex Traffickers & Spy Agencies, Elizabeth Vos, right, Aug. 23, 2019. The unsavory history of elizabeth vosintelligence agencies providing protection to child sex-trafficking rings.

The alleged use of sexual blackmail by spy agencies is hardly unique to the case of Jeffrey Epstein. Although the agencies involved as well as their alleged motivations and methods differ with each case, the crime of child trafficking with ties to intelligence agencies or those protected by them has been around for decades.

Some cases include the 1950s -1970s Kincora scandal and the 1981 Peter Hayman affair, both in the U.K.; and the Finders’ cult and the Franklin scandal in the U.S. in the late 1980s. Just as these cases did not end in convictions, the pedophile and accused child-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein remained at arms’ length for years.

“For almost two decades, for some nebulous reason, whether to do with ties to foreign intelligence, his billions of dollars, or his social connections, Epstein, whose alleged sexual sickness and horrific assaults on women without means or ability to protect themselves… remained untouchable,” journalist Vicky Ward wrote in The Daily Beast in July.

The protection of sex traffickers by intelligence agencies is especially interesting in the wake of Epstein’s death. Like others, Epstein had long been purported to have links with spy agencies. Such allegations documented by Whitney Webb in her multi-part series were recently published in Mintpress News.

U.S. Civil Rights / Supreme Court

SCOTUSblog, Monday round-up: DOJ on gay rights, Kalvis Golde, Aug. 26, 2019. The Office of the Solicitor General on Friday filed an amicus brief in the consolidated cases Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia and Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, concerning sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

At the Wall Street Journal (via How Appealing), Brent Kendall reports that the brief asks the Supreme Court “to rule that a longstanding federal civil-rights law prohibiting sex discrimination doesn’t protect gay people in the workplace.” At NBC News, Brooke Sopelsa reports the crux of the administration’s logic: “The ordinary meaning of ‘sex’ is biologically male or female; it does not include sexual orientation.”

U.S. Politics / Justice

ny times logoNew York Times, Prosecutors Near Decision on Whether to Indict Andrew McCabe, Adam Goldman, Aug. 26, 2019. Federal prosecutors in Washington appear to be in the final stages of deciding whether to indict Andrew G. McCabe, below right, the former deputy F.B.I. director and a frequent target of President Trump, on charges of lying to federal agents, according to interviews with people familiar with recent developments in the investigation.

andrew mccabe c span may 11 2017In two meetings last week, Mr. McCabe’s lawyers met with the deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, who is expected to be involved in the decision about whether to prosecute, and for more than an hour with the United States attorney for the District of Columbia, Jessie K. Liu, according to a person familiar with the meetings. The person would not detail the discussions, but defense lawyers typically meet with top law enforcement officials to try to persuade them not to indict their client if they failed to get line prosecutors to drop the case.

An indictment of a former top F.B.I. official is extremely rare and would be the latest chapter in the saga of Mr. McCabe, who was fired last year over the issue now under criminal investigation — whether he failed to be forthcoming with internal investigators examining the F.B.I.’s dealings with the news media.

An indictment would be certain to draw praise from Mr. Trump, who has made his attacks on Mr. McCabe a centerpiece of his yearslong campaign to discredit the Justice Department and the F.B.I. over the Russia investigation.

Mr. McCabe, a 21-year F.B.I. veteran, was fired in March 2018 after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rejected an appeal that would have let him retire within days with a full pension. Mr. McCabe has said his dismissal was politically motivated and meant to undermine the special counsel’s Russia investigation by trying to discredit him as a witness.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump needs his blankie, Bill Palmer, Aug. 26, 2019. When word leaked last night that Donald Trump had repeatedly pushed his advisers to try dropping nuclear bombs on hurricanes (Axios, President Trump suggested nuking hurricanes, Jonathan Swan), Palmer Report pointed out that the real upshot was that one of Trump’s own people had clearly leaked the story.

It was as if someone close to Trump finally decided that enough was enough, and that the public should know just how far gone Trump is.

bill palmer report logo headerThat’s why we’re not particularly surprised to see that Donald Trump is pushing back on this story so angrily. This morning he tweeted: “The story by Axios that President Trump wanted to blow up large hurricanes with nuclear weapons prior to reaching shore is ridiculous. I never said this. Just more FAKE NEWS!”

It’s not just that Trump looks like an idiot for thinking that he could nuke a hurricane out of existence. Plenty of clueless people out there believe this kind of nonsense, and in fact we’d bet money that the majority of Trump’s base believes it. The real embarrassment here is that one of Trump’s own people leaked this just to humiliate him, and Trump knows it.

For the record, we’re going to take the side of Axios on this one. Their inside sourcing has a proven track record. When it comes to Donald Trump, let’s just say that he has a proven track record of saying idiotic things and then lying about it.

Roll Call, The GOP is confirming Trump judicial nominees it stalled under Obama, Chris Cioffi, Aug. 26, 2019. Judges couldn’t get a vote when Obama was president. They’re getting on the bench under Trump. At least 10 judicial nominees who couldn’t even get a confirmation vote in the final years of President Barack Obama’s administration ended up on the bench after Donald Trump’s election.

Those nominees, blocked by Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans while Obama was in the White House, got a second chance. Rather than blocking them under Trump, McConnell sought to speed up the confirmation process. Thanks to the shift in political priorities, Republicans confirmed them with bipartisan support.

About 1 in 15 of the judges confirmed during the Trump administration were first nominated by Obama, a CQ Roll Call analysis found. Several more Obama nominees who were renominated by Trump are still awaiting a Senate vote.

The pace of judicial confirmations picked up dramatically after the 2016 election — but not enough to satisfy McConnell. When he deployed the “nuclear option” to slash debate time on district judicial nominees in April, he partly justified it by saying the pace of confirmations was too slow.

In the last week of July, McConnell filed a motion to end debate on more than a dozen of Trump’s nominees to be district judges — a list McConnell described as bipartisan. Those included James Wesley Hendrix of Texas and John Milton Younge of Pennsylvania, who were both confirmed before the Senate began its August recess. They had been waiting for a vote since Obama was president.

Pennsylvania judges Susan Paradise Baxter and Marilyn Jean Horan also did not get confirmation votes during the Obama administration but were later confirmed by voice vote after being renominated by Trump.

“While I am pleased that they are now confirmed federal judges, it is appalling that the nominations of Susan Paradise Baxter, Marilyn Jean Horan and John Milton Younge dragged on for so many years,” Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat, said in an email to CQ Roll Call. “They are highly-skilled legal professionals that bring fairness and integrity to the federal bench.”

Other judges nominated first by Obama and confirmed during Trump’s administration included those tapped to serve on district courts in Oklahoma, Texas, South Carolina and Idaho — all states with two Republican senators.

In 2007 and 2008, a Senate controlled by Democrats helped confirm 68 Bush judicial nominees, including 10 to appeals courts, Tobias said. The last 10 district judges were confirmed Sept. 26, 2008

Media / Political Commentary

Truthdig via OpEdNews, Opinion: The Curse of Moral Purity, Chris Hedges, right, Aug. 26, 2019. The continued inability of America's liberal chris hedgesdemocratic establishment to address the ills besetting the country -- climate change, unregulated global capitalism, mounting social inequality, a bloated military, endless foreign wars, out-of-control deficits and gun violence -- means the inevitable snuffing out of our anemic democracy.

Overwhelmed by the multiple crises, the liberal elites have jettisoned genuine political life and retreated into self-defeating moral crusades in a vain and futile attempt to deflect attention away from the looming social, political, economic and environmental catastrophes.

These faux moral crusades, now the language of the left and the right, have bifurcated the country into warring factions. Opponents are demonized as evil. Adherents to the cause are on the side of the angels. Nuance and ambiguity are banished. Facts are manipulated or discarded. Truth is replaced by slogans. Conspiracy theories, however bizarre, are incredulously embraced to expose the perfidiousness of the enemy. Politics is defined by antagonistic political personalities spewing vitriol. The intellectual and moral sterility, along with the inability to halt the forces of societal destruction, provides fertile soil for extremists, neofascists and demagogues who thrive in periods of paralysis and cultural degeneracy.

Liberals and the left have wasted the last two years attacking Donald Trump as a Russian asset and look set to waste the next two years attacking him as a racist. They desperately seek scapegoats to explain the election of Trump as president, no different from a right wing that tars its Democratic Party enemies as America-hating socialists and that blames Muslims, immigrants and poor people of color for our national debacle. These are competing cartoon visions of the world. They foster a self-created universe of villains and superheroes that exacerbates the mounting polarization and rage.

The online magazine Slate recently published a transcript of a town hall meeting between Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the New ny times logoYork Times, and the Times staff. It was a fascinating window into the hubris and cluelessness of the paper, the ruling elites' primary news organ, which has spent the last two years shredding its credibility by hyping the investigation by Robert Mueller and the conspiracy theory that Trump was a Russian asset.

Here is Baquet on the newspaper's reporting on Trump:

Chapter 1 of the story of Donald Trump, not only for our newsroom but, frankly, for our readers, was: Did Donald Trump have untoward relationships with the Russians, and was there obstruction of justice? That was a really hard story, by the way, let's not forget that. We set ourselves up to cover that story. I'm going to say it. We won two Pulitzer Prizes covering that story. And I think we covered that story better than anybody else.

"The day Bob Mueller walked off that witness stand, two things happened. Our readers who want Donald Trump to go away suddenly thought, 'Holy sh*t, Bob Mueller is not going to do it.' And Donald Trump got a little emboldened politically, I think. Because, you know, for obvious reasons. And I think that the story changed. A lot of the stuff we're talking about started to emerge like six or seven weeks ago. We're a little tiny bit flat-footed. I mean, that's what happens when a story looks a certain way for two years. Right?

"I think that we've got to change. I mean, the vision for coverage for the next two years is what I talked about earlier: How do we cover a guy who makes these kinds of remarks? How do we cover the world's reaction to him? How do we do that while continuing to cover his policies? How do we cover America, that's become so divided by Donald Trump? How do we grapple with all the stuff you all are talking about? How do we write about race in a thoughtful way, something we haven't done in a large way in a long time? That, to me, is the vision for coverage. You all are going to have to help us shape that vision. But I think that's what we're going to have to do for the rest of the next two years."

Baquet asserts that the journalistic campaign to incriminate Trump as a Russian agent sputtered out and a new campaign -- read moral crusade -- arose six or seven weeks ago to focus on Trump's racism. Trump's racism, of course, did not begin six or seven weeks ago. It is the paper that switched narratives six or seven weeks ago, from one moral crusade to another.

This is not journalism. It is moral purity masquerading as journalism. And it will, like the "Russia-gate" conspiracy, be useless to blunt Trump's support, explain and cope with our innumerable crises or heal the growing divide.

The problem that the paper, along with the Democratic Party and its liberal allies, faces is that it is captive to its corporate sponsors who orchestrated our grotesque income inequality, deindustrialization, out-of-control military machine, neutered media and muzzled scholarship. The paper, therefore, rather than turn on its corporate advertisers and elitist readers, first blamed Russia and now blames white supremacists. The longer such demagoguery continues on the left and the right, the more the country will be torn asunder.

Chris Hedges, author of the commentary excerpted above, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

Trump Allies On Attack

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Allies Target Journalists Over Coverage Deemed Hostile to White House, Kenneth P. Vogel and Jeremy W. Peters, Aug. 26, 2019 (print ed.). A loose network of conservative operatives allied with the White House is pursuing what they say will be an aggressive operation to discredit news organizations deemed hostile to President Trump by publicizing damaging information about journalists.

It is the latest step in a long-running effort by Mr. Trump and his allies to undercut the influence of legitimate news reporting. Four people familiar with the operation described how it works, asserting that it has compiled dossiers of potentially embarrassing social media posts and other public statements by hundreds of people who work at some of the country’s most prominent news organizations.

cnn logoThe group has already released information about journalists at CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times — three outlets that have aggressively investigated Mr. Trump — in response to reporting or commentary that the White House’s allies consider unfair to Mr. Trump and his team or harmful to his re-election prospects.

Operatives have closely examined more than a decade’s worth of public posts and statements by journalists, the people familiar with the operation said. Only a fraction of what the network claims to have uncovered has been made public, the people said, with more to be disclosed as the 2020 election heats up. The research is said to extend to members of journalists’ families who are active in politics, as well as liberal activists and other political opponents of the president.

It is not possible to independently assess the claims about the quantity or potential significance of the material the pro-Trump network has assembled. Some involved in the operation have histories of bluster and exaggeration. And those willing to describe its techniques and goals may be trying to intimidate journalists or their employers.

But the material publicized so far, while in some cases stripped of context or presented in misleading ways, has proved authentic, and much of it has been professionally harmful to its targets.

stephen bannon cropped npc 2013It is clear from the cases to date that among the central players in the operation is Arthur Schwartz, a combative 47-year-old conservative consultant who is a friend and informal adviser to Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son. Mr. Schwartz has worked with some of the right’s most aggressive operatives, including the former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon (shown in a file photo at right).

“If the @nytimes thinks this settles the matter we can expose a few of their other bigots,” Mr. Schwartz tweeted on Thursday in response to an apologetic tweet from a Times journalist whose anti-Semitic social media posts had just been revealed by the operation. “Lots more where this came from.”

The information unearthed by the operation has been commented on and spread by officials inside the Trump administration and re-election campaign, as well as conservative activists and right-wing news outlets such as Breitbart News. In the case of the Times editor, the news was first published by Breitbart, immediately amplified on Twitter by Donald Trump Jr. and, among others, Katrina Pierson, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, and quickly became the subject of a Breitbart interview with Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary and communications director.

The White House press office said that neither the president nor anyone in the White House was involved in or aware of the operation, and that neither the White House nor the Republican National Committee was involved in funding it.

The Trump campaign said it was unaware of, and not involved in, the effort, but suggested that it served a worthy purpose. “We know nothing about this, but it’s clear that the media has a lot of work to do to clean up its own house,” said Tim Murtaugh, the campaign’s communications director.

ny times logoThe campaign is consistent with Mr. Trump’s long-running effort to delegitimize critical reporting and brand the news media as an “enemy of the people.” The president has relentlessly sought to diminish the credibility of news organizations and cast them as politically motivated opponents.

Journalism, he said in a tweet last week, is “nothing more than an evil propaganda machine for the Democrat Party.”

The operation has compiled social media posts from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and stored images of the posts that can be publicized even if the user deletes them, said the people familiar with the effort. One claimed that the operation had unearthed potentially “fireable” information on “several hundred” people.

“I am sure there will be more scalps,” said Sam Nunberg, a former aide to Mr. Trump who is a friend of Mr. Schwartz.

Mr. Nunberg and others who are familiar with the campaign described it as meant to expose what they see as the hypocrisy of mainstream news outlets that have reported on the president’s inflammatory language regarding race.

“Two can play at this game,” he said. “The media has long targeted Republicans with deep dives into their social media, looking to caricature all conservatives and Trump voters as racists.”

But using journalistic techniques to target journalists and news organizations as retribution for — or as a warning not to pursue — coverage critical of the president is fundamentally different from the well-established role of the news media in scrutinizing people in positions of power.

“If it’s clearly retaliatory, it’s clearly an attack, it’s clearly not journalism,” said Leonard Downie Jr., who was the executive editor of The Post from 1991 to 2008. Tension between a president and the news media that covers him is nothing new, Mr. Downie added. But an organized, wide-scale political effort to intentionally humiliate journalists and others who work for media outlets is.

Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: Donald Trump, Democratic Dictator, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Aug. 26, 2019. Some people think that the jacob hornberger newUnited States is safe from dictatorship because the county is a democracy. It’s only in totalitarian countries, they hold, that people are subject to dictatorship.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Such people are confusing how a ruler gets elected with the powers that the ruler has after being elected. A democratically elected ruler can wield and exercise dictatorial powers.

Case in point: President Donald Trump. He is the democratically elected president of the United States. He also wields and exercises dictatorial power over the American people.

In a dictatorship, the dictator doesn’t have to concern himself with legislation or judicial interpretation. What he says goes. When he issues a dictate, it automatically becomes set in stone as the law.

Trump’s conduct in his trade war with China confirms how far the United States has gone in the direction of a democratically elected dictatorship. Notice that Trump initiated his trade war all on his own, by unilaterally raising tariffs on products that are imported from China. He didn’t go to Congress and seek a law that raised tariffs. He just issued the dictate that raised tariffs.

That is classic dictatorship. The ruler issues an order, which automatically becomes law. And keep in mind that a tariff is nothing more than a sales tax on foreign goods. The people who pay that tax are Americans who purchase Chinese goods. Therefore, under the dictatorial system under which modern-day Americans live, the democratically elected dictator wields the authority to levy whatever amounts of taxes he wishes to collect from the American people.

Trump War Against Press?

Washington Examiner, ‘Imported labor’: Canadian journalist for CBC refused entry to US, Caitlin Yilek, Aug. 26, 2019. A journalist in Canada said Sunday she had been denied entry into the United States because she did not have a valid visa.

Carolyn Dunn, a national correspondent for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, said she had been told that her travel to Washington, D.C., was “entry into the labor" market and that she’d be “imported labor.” “I’ve never been pulled aside at a US border let alone refused entry,” she tweeted.

Dunn said in an earlier tweet that she was headed to Washington to fill in for colleagues taking vacation. She shared a link from the U.S. State Department’s website that said Canadian citizens “do not generally require visas to enter the United States as members of the press or media working in the United States.

Aug. 25

Trump Watch

donald trump money Custom

Donald Trump (Palmer Report graphic)

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s company could save millions if interest rates fall as he demands, Jonathan O'Connell, David A. Fahrenthold and Heather Long​, Aug. 25, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump stands to save millions of dollars annually in interest on outstanding loans on his hotels and resorts if the Federal Reserve lowers rates as he has been demanding, according to public filings and financial experts.

deutsche bank logoIn the five years before he became president, Trump borrowed more than $360 million via four loans from Deutsche Bank for his hotels in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, as well his 643-room Doral golf resort in South Florida.

The payments on all four properties vary with interest rate changes, according to Trump’s official financial disclosures. That means he has already benefited from falling interest rates that were spurred in part by a cut the Federal Reserve announced in July, the first in more than a decade — and his payments could drop by millions of dollars more annually if the central bank grants Trump’s wish and further lowers short-term rates, experts said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Former congressman Joe Walsh announces primary challenge against Trump, Joseph Marks and
Felicia Sonmez, Aug. 25, 2019. Former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh announced Sunday that he will challenge President Trump in republican elephant logothe 2020 primary, becoming the second Republican to wage a bid against the president.

joe walshWalsh, right, a talk-radio host, was elected to Congress in 2010 as part of the tea party wave and served one term. He has described himself as an immigration hard-liner and said he would not challenge Trump from the center but from the right and on moral grounds.

bill weld campaign portrait“I’m going to run for president,” Walsh said Sunday in an interview on ABC News’s “This Week,” charging that the president is “incompetent,” “a bigot” and “a narcissist.”

Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, left, also has declared that he is running against Trump in the Republican primary, but he has struggled to gain traction.

In Sunday’s interview, Walsh staked his run on harsh criticism of the president and questioned Trump’s support among Republicans, despite polls showing that the president is popular with the overwhelming majority of GOP voters.

Forbes, Analysis: Trump’s Tweets Cost Investors Over $500 Billion, Chuck Jones, Aug. 24, 2019. In the course of 2 minutes on Friday President Trump unleashed 6 tweets about Fed Chairman Powell’s speech at the central bank’s Jackson Hole annual economic policy symposium and China announcing that it would impose 5% to 10% tariffs on $75 billion of U.S. exports to China. The stock market reacted twitter bird Customimmediately and intensely negatively to Trump’s first set of tweets sending the Dow Jones 30 Industrials down about 400 points in 15 minutes and 500 points within an hour.

While the Dow and other indexes were essentially flat to up a bit during and after the Fed Chairman’s speech, the 120 seconds of tweets erased over $300 billion in value in those 15 minutes and the markets fell further during the day. Trump followed up with 4 more tweets later in the day, one of which was joking about the Dow dropping 573 points as investors had lost almost half a trillion dollars. For the day over $500 billion in equity was erased.

donald trump twitterWhile the economy is not growing at the 3% or even higher rates that Trump was touting when he was a candidate, it currently isn’t in too bad of a shape since consumer spending is doing well. There are weaknesses in the economy and some warning signs about a potential recession, but lashing out that “the Fed did NOTHING” can actually be counterproductive to what Trump wants to achieve.

The Fed may make a decision in such a way so as not make it look like Trump is calling the shots since it is supposed to be independent of politics. Trump continuing to beat the war drums that interest rates need to be lowered could also wear on consumers and get them to pull back on spending.

The next Fed meeting is September 17 and 18 with the announcement on interest rates coming on the second day. The market currently has 95% odds that the Fed will cut its target interest rate by 25 basis points to a range of 175 to 200 or 1.75% to 2.00%. Even if the Fed thought that a 50 basis point reduction was warranted (which it isn’t since the economy is doing ok and large decreases should only be used when the economy is experiencing much lower growth than it currently is) if it were to do so it could easily be viewed as cratering to Trump’s demands.

'Nuke Hurricanes?'

Axios, President Trump suggested nuking hurricanes, Jonathan Swan, Aug. 25, 2019. President Trump has suggested multiple times to senior Homeland Security and national security officials that they explore using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes from hitting the United States, according to sources who have heard the president's private remarks and been briefed on a National Security Council memorandum that recorded those comments.

The sources added that Trump's "bomb the hurricanes" idea — which he floated early in the first year and a bit of his presidency before John Bolton took over as national security adviser — went nowhere and never entered a formal policy process.

Behind the scenes: During one hurricane briefing at the White House, Trump said, "I got it. I got it. Why don't we nuke them?" according to one source who was there. "They start forming off the coast of Africa, as they're moving across the Atlantic, we drop a bomb inside the eye of the hurricane and it disrupts it. Why can't we do that?" the source added, paraphrasing the president's remarks.

Asked how the briefer reacted, the source recalled he said something to the effect of, "Sir, we'll look into that."

Trump replied by asking incredulously how many hurricanes the U.S. could handle and reiterating his suggestion that the government intervene before they make landfall.

The briefer "was knocked back on his heels," the source in the room added. "You could hear a gnat fart in that meeting. People were astonished. After the meeting ended, we thought, 'What the f---? What do we do with this?'"

Trump also raised the idea in another conversation with a senior administration official. A 2017 NSC memo describes that second conversation, in which Trump asked whether the administration should bomb hurricanes to stop them from hitting the homeland. A source briefed on the NSC memo said it does not contain the word "nuclear"; it just says the president talked about bombing hurricanes.

The source added that this NSC memo captured "multiple topics, not just hurricanes. … It wasn't that somebody was so terrified of the bombing idea that they wrote it down. They just captured the president’s comments."

White House response: A senior administration official said, "We don't comment on private discussions that the president may or may not have had with his national security team."

A different senior administration official, who has been briefed on the president's hurricane bombing suggestion, defended Trump's idea and said it was no cause for alarm. "His goal — to keep a catastrophic hurricane from hitting the mainland — is not bad," the official said. "His objective is not bad."

U.S. Trade Wars / Economy

washington post logoWashington Post, In reversal, Trump says he wishes he’d raised China tariffs higher, Damian Paletta, Josh Dawsey, Toluse Olorunnipa and Michael Birnbaum​, Aug. 25, 2019. President Trump conceded regret about his escalating trade war with China Sunday morning before reversing course in the afternoon and saying he only wished he’d raised the tariffs higher.

It was a head spinning about-face after the president showed rare second thoughts on a key issue, even as White House officials said his comments had been “misinterpreted.”

g 7 logo france 2019Trump, who is acutely attuned to media coverage and public perception of his presidency, makes a usual practice of not ever apologizing or admitting that he was wrong — and prides being seen as “strong” above all, according to current and former administration officials.

During a morning breakfast with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a reporter asked Trump if he had any “second thoughts” regarding his escalating trade war with China. Trump responded “yeah, sure. Why not.”

“Might as well,” he said. “Might as well. I have second thoughts about everything.”

Trump then claimed talks were going well with China and that he planned to back away from some of his recent threats, such as seeking to force companies to leave China.

washington post logoWashington Post, Senseless disputes’: E.U.’s Tusk says Trump’s trade wars are damaging global economy, Michael Birnbaum and g 7 logo france 2019Damian Paletta, Aug. 25, 2019 (print ed.). European Council President Donald Tusk suggested that President Trump may be using "tariffs and taxation as a political instrument."

donald tuskTusk (left, president of the European Commission since 2014 and a former Polish prime minister) on Saturday said escalating trade tensions between President Trump and other world leaders risk throwing the world into recession, bemoaning “senseless disputes” that had ripped countries apart.

“This may be the last moment to restore our political community,” he told reporters at the beginning of the Group of Seven summit here.

djt Xi JinpingTusk’s comments came one day after Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (shown in a file photo) dramatically escalated a fierce trade war between the two countries. Tusk is attending the G-7 summit with Trump and leaders from France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada and Japan, and he said the summit comes at a perilous time.

“Trade wars will lead to recession while trade deals will boost the economy,” he said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: How to respond to a manic president driving the economy into the ditch, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 25, 2019. jennifer rubin new headshotPresident Trump’s unhinged escalation of the trade war on Friday, coupled with his “order” for U.S. companies to stop doing business in China, was sure not going to soothe fears of a recession nor give investors confidence.

The Post reports, “European Council President Donald Tusk on Saturday said escalating trade tensions between President Trump and other world leaders risk throwing the world into recession, bemoaning ‘senseless disputes’ that had ripped countries apart.” Warning that time was running out to "restore our political community,” he continued.

What struck me was that no congressional leader or presidential candidate to date has made exactly these points. None has taken the time to give a major speech identifying Trump as the cause of chaos, defending the independence of the Federal Reserve chair (whom Trump had the gall to call an “enemy”) and providing a road map for going forward. That’s a shame, because now would be a good time for one or more of them to show how a calm, rational person would react to an impending economic crisis.

washington post logoWashington Post, Iranian foreign minister catches Trump off-guard with surprise visit to G-7, Michael Birnbaum and Toluse Olorunnipa​, Aug. 25, 2019. Mohammad Javad Zarif’s plane landing in Biarritz was a symbolic illustration of how isolated the Trump administration has become in its approach to Iran.

iran flag mapIranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made a surprise visit to the city hosting the Group of Seven summit Sunday, a move that caught President Trump off-guard and added another element of tension to the meeting of world economic leaders.

emmanuel macronZarif's arrival in Biarritz appeared to be a covert initiative by French President Emmanuel Macron, left, a senior European official said, and other leaders were not informed ahead of time. There was no immediate plan for the Iranian foreign minister to meet anyone other than French officials, officials said.

President Trump, whose antics have often left other world leaders searching for words, had little to say about the unexpected guest. “No comment,” Trump told reporters. French officials have said Trump’s “maximum pressure” approach against Iran is doomed to fail. They have sought to persuade the White House to change course and accept a new deal with the Iranians.

washington post logoWashington Post, With global economy slowing, Trump arrives at G-7 with list of grievances, Toluse Olorunnipa, Damian Paletta and Michael Birnbaum​, Aug. 25, 2019 (print ed.). The president comes bearing more complaints than guidance for global powers facing challenges including climate change and a looming global recession.

g 7 logo france 2019JIP Editor's Note: The Group of Seven (G7) consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, plus European Union officials. Its top representatives this year in the conference hosted by France are:

Canada: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; France (2019 host): President Emmanuel Macron; Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel; Italy: Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte; Japan: Prime Minister Shinzō Abe: United Kingdom: Prime Minister Boris Johnson: United States: President Donald Trump: European Union: Council President Donald Tusk and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Nearly all of the nations are experiencing serious domestic political difficulties.

Trump Health Care Battle

washington post logoWashington Post, Patients face higher fees and longer waits after Planned Parenthood quits federal program, Ariana Eunjung Cha and Sheila Regan, Aug. 25, 2019 (print ed.). The agency forfeited millions after refusing to comply with what it calls a Trump administration ‘gag rule’ regarding abortion referrals.

In Cleveland, a Planned Parenthood mobile clinic that tests for sexually transmitted diseases has cut its staff to part-time and may shut down. In Minneapolis, women and girls accustomed to free checkups are now billed as much as $200 per visit on a sliding fee scale. And in Vienna, W.Va., Planned Parenthood employees are marking boxes of birth control pills with “Do not use” signs because they were paid for with federal grants the organization can no longer accept.

Planned Parenthood’s decision to quit a $260 million federal family planning program this week, rather than comply with what it calls a “gag rule” imposed by the Trump administration on abortion referrals, is creating turmoil in many low-income communities across the United States.

The organization had served 1.6 million women, or about 41 percent of the participants in the Title X program, providing reproductive health services, such as birth control, pregnancy tests and screening for sexually transmitted diseases at free or discounted prices.

Washington Post, Trump just won a battle with Planned Parenthood. Women will pay, Editorial board.

Aug. 24

Global Environment

ny times logoNew York Times, Tainted Water, Ignored Warnings and a Boss With a Criminal Past, Nick Corasaniti, Corey Kilgannon and John Schwartz, Aug. 24, 2019 (print ed.). A long line of questionable decisions led to the crisis over lead contamination in Newark. In the year after receiving test results showing alarming levels of lead in this city’s drinking water, Mayor Ras Baraka, right, of Newark made a number of ras baraka newark ounexpected decisions.

He mailed a brochure to all city residents assuring them that “the quality of water meets all federal and state standards.” He declared the water safe and then condemned, in capital letters on the city’s website, “outrageously false statements” to the contrary.

And he elevated an official to run the city’s water department who had served four years in prison for conspiring to sell epa clean water logofive kilograms of cocaine.

The moves were the latest in a long line of questionable actions that have created one of the biggest environmental crises to hit a major American city in recent years. This month, the city told tens of thousands of Newark residents to drink bottled water, but only after receiving a stern warning from federal officials about lead leaching into tap water from aging pipes.

The water emergency has torn at the fabric of Newark, recalling the public health crisis over lead contamination in Flint., Mich., and highlighting the decay of the nation’s infrastructure, particularly in poorer cities.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Amazon Fires Become Global Crisis, Brazil’s Leader Reverses Course, Ernesto Londoño, Manuela Andreoni and Letícia Casado, Aug. 24, 2019 (print ed.). jair bolsonaro brazilAs an ecological disaster in the Amazon escalated into a global political crisis, Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, right, took the rare step on Friday of mobilizing the armed forces to help contain blazes of a scale not seen in nearly a decade.

The sudden reversal, after days of dismissing growing concern over hundreds of fires raging across the Amazon, came as international outrage grew over the rising deforestation in the world’s largest tropical rain forest.

brazil flag wavingEuropean leaders threatened to cancel a major trade deal, protesters staged demonstrations outside Brazilian embassies and calls for a boycott of Brazilian products snowballed on social media.

As a chorus of condemnation intensified, Brazil braced for the prospect of punitive measures that could severely damage an economy that is already sputtering after a brutal recession and the country’s far-right populist president faced a withering reckoning.

On Friday, he said that he was planning to send the military to enforce environmental laws and to help contain the fires starting Saturday.

christopher leonard kochland

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: David Koch Was the Ultimate Climate Change Denier, Christopher Leonard (above. the author of “Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America”), Aug. 24, 2019. David Koch, right, who died Friday at the age of 79, david h. koch wis best known as a major funder of right-wing political causes, from tax cuts to deregulation, an enthusiastic patron of the arts and a man-about-town. But to his critics, his most lasting political legacy might very well be the rapidly warming world that he has left behind.

Koch Industries realized early on that it would be a financial disaster for the firm if the American government regulated carbon emissions or made companies pay a price for releasing carbon into the atmosphere. The effects of such a policy would be measured over decades for Koch.

The company has billions of dollars sunk into the complex and expensive infrastructure of crude-oil processing. If a limit on greenhouse gas emissions were imposed, it could dampen demand for oil and diminish the value of those assets and their future sales. The total dollar losses would likely be measured in trillions over a period of 30 years or more.

U.S. Trade Wars / Economy

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump retaliation pushes trade war with China into new phase, Jeff Stein, Taylor Telford, Gerry Shih and Rachel Siegel, Aug. 24, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump demanded U.S. companies stop doing business with China — which the White House does not have the authority to enforce — and announced he would raise the rate of tariffs on Beijing, causing stock indexes to slide.

Guardian, Biarritz in lockdown as G7 summit descends on French resort, Angelique Chrisafis, Aug. 24, 2019. More than 13,000 police arrive in town with authorities saying any unrest will not be tolerated. The French seaside resort of Biarritz is under lockdown by security forces ahead of the G7 summit, with more than 13,000 police as well as a special magistrates court set up to try anyone committing offences.

g 7 logo france 2019The historic centre of the Basque town was emptied of tourists on Friday before the arrival of leaders of the world’s advanced economies including the US president, Donald Trump, and the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, who will hold three days of talks on global issues from the climate emergency to trade wars.

Surfers were ordered out of the water on the central beach, the Grande Plage, and sent further round the coast. Sailing vessels were moved on and kept away. The train station and airport will be closed over the weekend, creating a no-go zone in the centre. There are road checks at the Spanish border and police have been stationed around town and on top of buildings.

“The aim is to have maximum security with a minimum of disruption. We will not tolerate any unrest. If it happens, we will respond,” said France’s interior minister, Christophe Castaner.

Riot police clashed with activists and fired tear-gas in Urrugne near the Spanish border on Friday night, on the edge of a camp where people were staying for an alternative G7 summit focusing on environmental issues. Authorities said 17 people were arrested for an unauthorised gathering and for covering their faces. The authorities said four police were slightly injured.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Everyone piles on after Donald Trump tweets complete gibberish, Bill Palmer, Aug. 24, 2019. Donald Trump has been having a bit of a rough day so far at the G7 summit. He managed to misspell Emmanuel Macron’s name twice, and to be clear, he misspelled “Emmanuel” twice and misspelled “Macron” twice. But don’t worry, because – as is increasingly the case these days – Trump has already found a way to sink even lower.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump announced on Twitter this evening that “The Media is destroying the Free Press!” Wait, what? Seriously? The media is the free press. This is like saying that “water is destroying water” or “green is destroying green” or “Donald Trump is destroying Donald Trump.” Actually, that last one might be kind of true.

This comes at the end of a week in which Donald Trump referred to himself as “the chosen one” while looking toward the heavens. Trump also declared himself the “King of Israel” while accusing Jews of being “disloyal.” Somewhere in there Trump declared that his donald trump twitterown handpicked Fed Chair Jay Powell was an enemy of the United States. Trump also tried to order American companies to cease doing business with China, without realizing that he can’t do that.

But really, “The Media is destroying the Free Press!” says it all. Donald Trump is so entrenched in his handful of repetitive talking points, and so far removed from being able to process what he’s even saying or thinking anymore, he’s now turned one of his own catch phrases into… well, there are no words for how profoundly messed up this is.

Syrian Army War Gains

Southfront, In Video: Syrian Army’s Advance In Southern Idlib, Northern Hama In Period From May 6 To August 23, Staff report, Aug. 24, 2019 (1:58 min. video).

 U.S. History, Race, Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Liberty and Slavery Have Always Been Wrapped Up With Each Other, Jamelle Bouie, Aug. 24, 2019 (print ed.). I am just one of many contributors to The New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project and can’t claim to speak for it. But I have found the reaction to the project — or at least, one specific set of reactions — very revealing and worthy of a little analysis.

The stated aim of the project is to “reframe the country’s history” around the arrival of enslaved Africans to English North America. The argument is not that the United States was actually founded in 1619 but that its culture, economy, politics and social relations are inextricably bound in the race-based chattel slavery that would emerge in Virginia and spread throughout the colonies. Or as Nikole Hannah-Jones, who organized the project, puts it in her introductory essay, “Anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country.”

Unsurprisingly, the package has received considerable pushback from conservatives. They’ve made a forceful attack, in particular, on the idea that the founding was bound up in slavery and white supremacy. In The New York Post, Rich Lowry of National Review calls this idea an “odious and reductive lie.” The Federalist says it is “sweeping historical revisionism in the service of contemporary left-wing politics.” Ilya Shapiro, of the Cato Institute’s Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies, said the 1619 Project was intended to “delegitimize mankind’s greatest experiment in human liberty & self-governance.”

My larger point is this: History is not the uncovering of absolute truths. It is a dialogue between the present and the past, between communities of scholars and thinkers working to understand the record of what came before — it is always a process of change and revision and critique. Conservatives have every right to criticize The 1619 Project. But if they’re going to call it “lies” and “garbage history” — if they’re going accuse it of propaganda and partisanship — then they should ask themselves a question: Are they looking for better scholarship or are they making a demand for orthodoxy?

Related story:

ny times logoNew York Times Magazine, Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Aug. 14, 2019. The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are. Read all the stories.

Epstein Scandal Probes

jeffrey epstein virgin islands doj undated

nbc news logoNBC News, Jeffrey Epstein was taken off suicide watch by high-level psychologist, Pete Williams and Minyvonne Burke, Aug. 24, 2019. Jeffrey Epstein, the multimillionaire financier who died by suicide while in federal jail on sex-trafficking charges, had been taken off suicide watch by a doctoral-level psychologist, the Justice Department said in a letter to Congress.

Epstein, 66 (shown above in an undated sex offender mug shot by the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Justice), died on Aug. 10 in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. His death was ruled a suicide by hanging. He had been placed on suicide watch in July after he was found in his cell semiconscious with marks on his neck.

But he "was later removed from suicide watch after being evaluated by a doctoral-level psychologist who determined that a suicide watch was no longer warranted," the Justice Department said in a letter Friday to the House Judiciary Committee's chairman, Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and its ranking member, Doug Collins, R-Ga.

Federal inmates on suicide watch are placed in special cells, the letter said, citing Bureau of Prisons policy. "This environment includes easy access to the room, unobstructed vision of the inmate at all times, and limited availability of objects, materials, or architectural features that would allow for easy self-injury," the letter states.

An inmate on suicide watch is seen daily by a psychologist and is constantly being observed by either staff or an "inmate companion" who documents their observations regularly.

Inmates can only be taken off suicide watch by a Bureau of Prisons psychologist after a face-to-face evaluation, the letter states.

Earlier this week, federal investigators sought subpoenas for jail employees after Justice Department officials said that some of the workers who were on duty when the disgraced financier died have retained lawyers and declined interviews.

On Monday, Attorney General William Barr removed Hugh Hurwitz, the acting director of the federal Bureau of Prisons. Hurwitz will remain in the bureau as the assistant director of another division, Barr said.

Epstein's suicide has led to immediate fallout. The jail's warden, Lamine N'Diaye, was temporarily reassigned, and two guards who were assigned to watch Epstein have been placed on leave. Investigators are looking into whether the guards were sleeping on duty when Epstein killed himself.

Epstein had been in federal custody since his arrest in July at a New Jersey airport. He was charged with one count of sex trafficking conspiracy and one count of sex trafficking, and faced up to 45 years in prison if found guilty. He pleaded not guilty and was denied bail.

The indictment in his case showed that he sought out minors, some as young as 14, from at least 2002 through 2005 and paid in cash for sex at either his Manhattan townhouse or his estate in Palm Beach, Florida, according to federal prosecutors.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The Jeffrey Epstein scandal just slipped beyond the control of Donald Trump and Bill Barr, Bill Palmer, Aug. 24, 2019. The death of Donald Trump’s old friend Jeffrey Epstein while he was in the custody of Trump’s Department of Justice has faded from the headlines this past week as Trump has begun declaring himself the “King of Israel” while trying to buy Greenland, and other objectively insane behavior.

bill palmer report logo headerBut the Epstein scandal is still playing out nonetheless – and it just took a turn that Trump and his Attorney General Bill Barr won’t like. Shimon Prokupecz of CNN has revealed that the government of France has opened an investigation into Jeffrey Epstein. We think this is important for two reasons.

First, it’s potentially bad news for Epstein’s alleged co-conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell, as her friends are claiming that she’s been hanging out in France since Epstein’s arrest (outsiders have claimed she’s in Boston or Los Angeles). Second, if France is running a legitimate investigation into Epstein’s crimes, it’ll make it very difficult for Donald Trump and Bill Barr to push a phony narrative about the crimes.

U.S. Politics / Media Critique

daily howler wolfDaily Howler, Opinion: Lawrence O'Donnell gets it right! Bob Somerby, Aug. 24, 2019. He got it right right on the air! Here's the way it went down:

Donald J. Trump had seemed to be behaving so oddly that even the children had noticed. For that reason, and to his credit, O'Donnell started his program as shown below, once he'd finished his standard cloying exchange with Rachel [Maddow].

It's the highlighted part of O'Donnell's remarks to which we directly refer:

lawrence odonnell acostaO'DONNELL (shown in a file screengrab from a different segment) (8/21/19): Well, Donald Trump is behaving like a man who sees his presidency slipping away. His re-election polls are consistently bad for him. And now, what he thought was his strongest claim to re-election, the performance of the economy, is no long area sure thing in the president`s mind and—or in reality.

And so, he is blasting out enraged tweets at the chairman of the Federal Reserve, who he appointed. He is admitting that the government might have to bail out one of the most successful companies in the history of American capitalism, Apple, because the Trump tariffs are hurting Apple so badly and the president knows that.

The global economy is beginning to stagger under the weight of the Trump tariffs, which could begin costing American voters $1,000 a year. More American voters are realizing every day they are paying the Trump tariffs and China does not pay one penny of the Trump tariffs.

The Trump White House is having panicked meetings about what to do about the economy, cutting payroll taxes, an idea the president has reportedly embraced and then rejected, and then embraced and then rejected. Some of those embraces and rejections have occurred in the same day.

But tax cuts can only be done by the Congress, and the House of Representatives will not cut payroll taxes without dramatically increasing taxes on the richest Americans. In other words, restoring the Obama tax rates on the rich to replace the Trump tax cut for the rich.

All of this is maddening to Donald Trump — and so he is behaving this week as a mad king. And that is not my phrase. That's the kind of comment about the president we are hearing and seeing everywhere now.

And so, it is one of those nights when we're going to have to take another professional look at the mental health of the president of the United States.

Say what? O'Donnell was going to "take a professional look" at Donald J. Trump's "mental health?" Is that sort of thing allowed?

On that morning's Morning Joe, three of the children had rather plainly refused to do so, apparently keeping themselves in line with company policy concerning this awkward matter. They've played it that way on Morning Joe roughly since forever.

O'Donnell was playing a different game. As he continued, he said this:

O'DONNELL (continuing directly): Former Harvard Medical School professor of psychiatry Lance Dodes joined us on this program one month into the Trump presidency, in 2017, to warn us about the president's mental health because he felt what psychiatrists call "a duty to warn."

He told us then that the president's mental condition was only going to get worse. Dr. Dodes is back with us tonight. We will hear from him later in this hour.

Dodes did appear that night. He was interviewed about Trump's mental health during one full solo segment.

You can read Dodes' remarks in Wednesday evening's transcript. In the segment which followed, you can see O'Donnell interviewing two MSNBC pundits about what Dodes said.

All too predictably, they dissembled, joked and generally talked around this important topic, which has been "incredibly taboo, and rightfully so. It's not an easy thing to talk about."

Or so one of the pundits said. Actually, the question of Donald Trump's mental health is an extremely easy thing to discuss. You just have to avoid the careerist obedients who serve as pundits and entertainers on corporate "cable news."

U.S. Trade Wars / Economy

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says he will raise tariffs, demands American firms cut ties with China as trade war escalates, Taylor Telford, Gerry Shih, Rachel Siegel and Jeff Stein​, Aug. 23, 2019. President Donald Trump demanded U.S. companies stop doing business with China and announced increased tariffs on Beijing Friday, capping one of the most extraordinary days in the long-running U.S.-China trade war.

Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)By the end of the trading day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had fallen 600 points, or nearly 2.4 percent, and the business community was warning of negative effects on investor confidence and American jobs.

The day began with Beijing’s announcement that it would levy new tariffs on $75 billion in goods, including reinstated levies on auto products, starting this fall.

Beijing’s tariff retaliation was delivered with strategic timing, hours before an important address by the Fed chair, Jerome H. Powell, and as Trump prepared to depart for the Group of Seven summit in Biarritz.

“Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA,” Trump tweeted.

The White House does not have the authority to force companies to follow such directives, and Trump’s demand came under sharp and immediate criticism from the U.S. business community, which warned that halting sales with such a large trading partner would hurt American companies and the broader economy.

But the promise of future dangers remained. Late on Friday afternoon, Trump tweeted that he would be raising the tariff rates on some $250 billion in Chinese goods from 25 percent to 30 percent. The president also tweeted that he would increase the tariff rate on an additional $300 billion of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 15 percent.

Business lobbyists scrambled throughout the day on Friday to get answers about the White House’s plans for retaliation, but many administration advisers were either in transit on their way out of the country to the G-7 meeting or already in France, according to two senior industry officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the internal complications.

While American consumers, whose spending fuels about 70 percent of the U.S. economy, have largely been shielded from the trade war’s carnage, that’s poised to change. Earlier this week, JPMorgan Chase estimated that American families will absorb another $1,000 in annual costs from all Chinese tariffs after the 10 percent levies take hold. If the upcoming tariffs are raised to 25 percent, as Trump has warned, that cost jumps to $1,500, researchers estimated.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump ‘hereby’ orders U.S. business out of China. Can he do that? Jeanne Whalen, Abha Bhattarai and Reed Albergotti​, Aug. 23, 2019. Industries of every stripe scrambled Friday to understand how seriously to take the edict.

ny times logojerome powellNew York Times, Powell Open to Rate Cuts but Says Trade War Limits Fed’s Response, Jeanna Smialek, Aug. 23, 2019. Jerome Powell, right, the Federal Reserve chairman, said President Trump’s trade policies posed risks to the economic outlook. Mr. Powell’s remarks indicate that the Fed, which in July cut interest rates for the first time in a decade, remains willing to cut again.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump calls Fed chair an ‘enemy’ after Powell said trade war is ‘turbulent,’ Heather Long, Aug. 23, 2019. Trump calls the Fed chair an ‘enemy’ after Powell said trade war is ‘turbulent’ rump calls Fed chair an ‘enemy’ after Powell said trade war is ‘turbulent,’ Heather Long, Aug. 23, 2019. The Supreme Court said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was treated this month and that there’s no evidence of disease elsewhere in her body.

Trump Finances

djt handwave file
washington post logoWashington Post, Judges surprise attorneys for Trump’s bankers by asking about his tax returns, Renae Merle, Aug. 23, 2019. Attorneys for Deutsche Bank and Capital One repeatedly refused to tell a federal appeals court Friday whether the banks have President Trump’s tax returns, citing “contractual obligations” for rebuffing the court’s questions.

capital one bank logoTrump (shown in a file photo) is appealing a district court ruling that cleared the way for the banks to hand over years of financial records from the president, his three eldest children and the president’s companies to two House committees.

deutsche bank logoToward the end of Friday’s hearing, the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit considering the appeal asked the banks’ attorneys whether the documents subject to the subpoenas could potentially include the president’s tax returns.

“I am not asking you for the content" of the returns, Judge Jon O. Newman said.

“We’re not in a position to answer that question,” said Raphael Prober, the attorney for Deutsche Bank, the president’s largest creditor.

jon newman“It is a fairly important question in this case,” Newman, shown at right, said.

Prober and Capital One’s attorney, James Murphy, both said “contractual obligations" prevented the banks from answering the judges’ questions.

As the judges appeared to grow frustrated by the attorneys’ resistance, Judge Peter Hall added: “Should we go to court and seek an order? I’m serious. We need to know.”

washington post logoWashington Post, China hits U.S. with tariffs on $75 billion worth of goods, Taylor Telford, Gerry Shih and Rachel Siegel​, Aug. 23, 2019. U.S. stock futures nose-dived Friday after China announced retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion in U.S. goods and reinstated levies on china flagAmerican auto products.

The levies range from 5 to 10 percent and take effect Sept. 1 and Dec. 15 — the same dates President Trump’s latest tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese goods are slated to kick in — the Chinese finance ministry said in a statement. A 25 percent tariff on automobiles and a 5 percent levy on auto parts take hold Dec. 15.

Radiation For High Court Justice

washington post logoWashington Post, Ginsburg underwent radiation treatment for tumor on pancreas, Robert Barnes, Aug. 23, 2019. ruth bader ginsburg portraitJustice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, right, completed radiation treatment for a malignant tumor found on her pancreas, the Supreme Court disclosed Friday. It is her second treatment within a year for cancer.

The court said the treatment began earlier this month, and no additional treatment is planned.

“The tumor was treated definitively and there is no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body,” the court’s spokeswoman said in a statement. “Justice Ginsburg will continue to have periodic blood tests and scans. No further treatment is needed at this time.”

Gun Lobbyist Prevailing

wayne lapierre gage skidmore

National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre (2017 photo by Gage Skidmore).

ny times logonra logo CustomNew York Times, How the Head of the N.R.A. Survived a Revolt, and Is Getting Even, Danny Hakim, Aug. 23, 2019 (print ed.). Newly disclosed documents revealed a sweeping effort by top officials and lawyers to oust Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the National Rifle Association. Not only has he remained, but he continues to influence the president.

Election 2020

washington post logoWashington Post, With primary’s first winnowing at hand, Democrats face choice: Drop out or continue on ‘fool’s errand,’ Michael Scherer, Aug. 23, 2019. Some of the candidates are deeply frustrated by the Democratic Party rules forcing them off the debate stage, and they may voice their complaints at a Friday meeting of the Democratic National Committee in San Francisco.

dnc square logoFive men who appeared onstage in July — including the governor of Montana, the senior senator from Colorado and the mayor of New York City — have little hope of making the stage in September. Spiritual author Marianne Williamson is also likely to lose her spot.

Two others, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), still have a narrow chance of making the cut, along with newcomer Tom Steyer, a financier who has spent millions on television ads to juice his poll numbers.

The excluded candidates will have a shot of getting back on the big stage in October if they can meet the qualifications by then. But after that the road gets harder — DNC Chairman Tom Perez has made clear he intends to steadily raise the polling and donor thresholds for future debates.

Rep. Seth Moulton ends bid for White House

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Trump may be a lot more vulnerable than you think, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 23, 2019. President Trump may have had the worst fortnight of his presidency. His most cringe-worthy moments came during his horrific visits to El Paso and Dayton, but his most revealing episodes came this week with his multiple outbursts and head-spinning reversals. He has been at his emotionally and mentally shakiest, and perhaps a growing share of Americans simply cannot ignore it.

The Aug. 15-19 Associated Press/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found that just 36 percent of Americans approve of how Trump is doing his job, and 62 percent disapprove. He’s even in negative territory on the economy (46 percent approve, 51 percent do not), and draws at least 60 percent disapproval on health care, immigration, guns and foreign policy.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Kennedy-Markey Primary? Massachusetts Is Jolted, Jonathan Martin, Aug. 23, 2019.  With the state gripped by the possibility of another Kennedy campaigning for Senate, the incumbent is not backing down: “Oh, I’m running.”

Sitting on a plastic chair in a high school music room, far from the marble corridors of Washington he has prowled for nearly 43 years as ed markeya congressman and senator, Edward J. Markey (shown at center in a Justice Integrity Project file photo) was clearly not looking to pick a fight with the Kennedy family. At least not yet.

Mr. Markey praised John, Robert and Edward Kennedy as “inspirational figures.” He said he gets along with Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, the 38-year-old leader of the next generation of Massachusetts Kennedys. And he did his best to avoid antagonizing Mr. Kennedy, who is now considering a Senate primary against Mr. Markey — a possibility that has jolted this state and threatened to end Mr. Markey’s career.

But Mr. Markey, 73, whose Massachusetts accent vanquishes “r’s” at the end of words as well as any Kennedy, had an unmistakable message for those who think he could become the latest victim of Trump-era upheaval within the Democratic Party.

djt rudy giuliani Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani just completely screwed Donald Trump over, Bill Palmer, Aug. 23, 2019. Donald Trump seems to think that having an inept loose cannon like Rudy Giuliani for a criminal defense attorney is a good thing, presumably because Rudy’s epic screw-ups tend to distract attention from Trump’s own scandals. The trouble is that sooner or later Rudy was going to find himself facing serious jeopardy – and now that it’s happened, Rudy is screwing Trump over to try to save himself.

bill palmer report logo headerBy now you’ve heard the story of how Rudy Giuliani conspired with a faction of the government of Ukraine to try to fabricate a scandal about Joe Biden, in the hope of sinking Biden’s 2020 campaign. No one bought into the phony Biden scandal, and instead it became a brewing scandal for Rudy. After all, if he did this of his own accord without the approval of the U.S. government, he’d potentially be in violation of numerous felony statutes.

Sure enough, according to NBC News, Rudy is now publicly asserting that he worked with Donald Trump’s State Department to conspire with the government of Ukraine on the fake Biden scandal. This matters for two reasons.

U.S. Politics / Business

washington post logodavid h. koch wWashington Post, David Koch (1940–2019): Billionaire who had a profound effect on American politics dies at 79, Bill Hewitt​, Aug. 23, 2019. Through a network of well-financed advocacy groups, David Koch, right, and his brother, Charles, achieved their greatest distinction, spreading an uncompromising anti-government gospel that moved the Republican republican elephant logoParty steadily to the right.

They transformed the Wichita-based family company, which they had taken over from their father Fred in the 1960s, into a global conglomerate with interests in everything from petroleum and ranching to a wide variety of consumer products, such as Dixie cups and Stainmaster carpeting.

Environment / Keystone Pipeline

ny times logoNew York Times, Keystone XL Pipeline Plan Is Approved by Nebraska Supreme Court, Mitch Smith, Aug. 23, 2019. Nebraska’s highest court approved the Keystone XL oil pipeline’s planned path through that state on Friday, resolving a permitting battle that has stretched on for more than a decade as the project became a proxy for a national debate between environmentalists and the energy industry.

Keystone XL, which would carry crude oil from Canada to southern Nebraska, has been the subject of political maneuvering and litigation since it was proposed in 2008. The project, which was rejected by the Obama administration, was revived under President Trump.

CEO Quits In Russian Agent Probe

ny times logoNew York Times, Overstock C.E.O. Resigns After Disclosing Romance With Russian Agent, Cade Metz and Julie Creswell, Aug. 23, 2019 (print ed.). Byrne told shareholders that his continuing to lead the online retailer “may affect and complicate all manner of business relationships.”

For two decades as the chief executive of the online retailer Overstock.com, Patrick Byrnepatrick byrne Custom, right, has never been far from controversy.

He posted elaborate theories on his personal website, railed against an unnamed Wall Street figure he named the Sith Lord and then, last week, delivered the most eyebrow-lifting tale of all.

maria butina headshotMr. Byrne — operating on the advice, he said, of the Berkshire Hathaway chief executive Warren Buffett — disclosed that he had been in a romantic relationship with Maria Butina, left, a woman accused of being a Russian spy who tried to infiltrate circles of political power before the 2016 presidential election.

His statement, with its references to the “Deep State,” “Men in Black” and “political espionage,” sent his company’s shares sharply down and baffled investors. On Thursday, he resigned as Overstock’s chief executive and chairman, saying his continued presence was complicating the company’s business relationships.

Those relationships, he said in an interview, included the kind necessary to fulfill his plan to sell the online retailer.

Epstein Death Probes

whitney webb twitterMintPress News, Investigation: From “Spook Air” to the “Lolita Express”: The Genesis and Evolution of the Jeffrey Epstein-Bill Clinton Relationship, Whitney Webb, shown at right in her Twitter photo, Aug. 23, 2019. Far from being the work of a single political party, intelligence agency or country, the power structure revealed by the network connected to Epstein is nothing less than a criminal enterprise that is willing to use and abuse children in the pursuit of ever more power, wealth and control.

Following the controversial conclusion by the New York Medical Examiner that Epstein’s death was a suicide — a conclusion contested by Epstein’s attorneys as well as by independent forensic pathologists, given the apparent evidence pointing towards strangulation — corporate media coverage of the Epstein case has slowed to a trickle, save for sensationalist stories about his alleged co-conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell and new salacious details of his past. Gone from corporate media are any hints of the larger scandal, revolving around the admission that Epstein had “belonged to intelligence.”

In this four-part series, “The Jeffrey Epstein Scandal: Too Big to Fail,” MintPress has revealed that Epstein’s activities — a sexual blackmail operation involving minors and connected to intelligence agencies — was one of many such operations that have taken place for decades, developing from the nexus forged between the CIA, organized crime and Israeli intelligence shortly after World War II.

jeffrey epstein hands handsThough this series has thus far largely focused on the ties of Republican officials to those operations and associated crimes, the final installment of this series will focus on Democratic politicians, namely the Clinton family, and their ties to this same network as well as Jeffrey Epstein (right).

The Clintons’ own involvement in Iran-Contra revolved around the covert activities at Arkansas’ Mena Airport, which involved the CIA front company Southern Air Transport and occurred while Clinton was governor. Just a few years into the Clinton presidential administration, Leslie Wexner and Jeffrey Epstein would play a major role in Southern Air Transport’s relocation to Columbus, Ohio, leading to concerns among top Ohio officials that both men were not only working with the CIA, but that Wexner’s company, The Limited, sought to use the CIA-linked airline for smuggling.

During that same period of time, Epstein had already forged close ties to important Clinton White House officials and prominent Clinton donors like Lynn Forester de Rothschild and made several personal visits to the official presidential residence.

Some of these ties appear related to Epstein’s shady financial activities, particularly involving currency markets and offshore tax havens — activities he began to perfect while working for prominent Iran-Contra figures in the early 1980s, several of whom were tied to the CIA-linked Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) and had known relationships with Israeli intelligence, namely the Mossad. The nature of Epstein’s work for these individuals and other evidence strongly suggests that Epstein himself had a relationship with BCCI after leaving Bear Stearns and prior to the bank’s collapse in 1991.

Of particular importance are Epstein’s relationship to the Clinton Foundation and the alleged role of Epstein’s Virgin Islands-based hedge fund and the Clinton Foundation in money laundering activity, a relationship still under investigation by MintPress.

It is this tale of intrigue that fully reveals the extent to which this decades-old alliance between organized crime, the CIA, and Israeli intelligence has corrupted and influenced politicians of both political parties, both through the use of sexual blackmail and through other means of coercion.

Far from being the work of a single intelligence agency or a single country, the power structure revealed by this network connected to Epstein is nothing less than a criminal enterprise that transcends nationality and is willing to use and abuse children in the pursuit of ever more power, wealth and control. Existing for decades and willing to use any means necessary to cover its tracks, this criminal racket has become so integrated into the levers of power, in the United States and well beyond, that it is truly too big to fail. 

whitney webbWhitney Webb, right, is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets, including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism

ny times logoNew York Times, The investigation into Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide intensified as roughly 15 jail workers were subpoenaed, Azi Paybarah, William K. Rashbaum and Danielle Ivory, Aug. 23, 2019 (print ed.). The warden and the head of the federal Bureau of Prisons have been reassigned. Two employees accused of sleeping on the job and falsifying records have been placed on administrative leave.

Jeffrey Epstein Harvard University Now, roughly 15 employees at the Metropolitan Correctional Center where Jeffrey Epstein, right, killed himself in his jail cell have been subpoenaed as the criminal investigation into the events around his suicide intensifies, according to a prison official and a person with knowledge of the matter.

The subpoenas, issued in recent days by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, are the latest sign of the heightened scrutiny over the suicide of the high-profile detainee at the chronically understaffed federal jail.

The United States attorney general, William P. Barr, whose Justice Department oversees the Bureau of Prisons, has complained about “serious irregularities at this facility.” On Wednesday he went further, telling reporters in Dallas, “unfortunately, there have been some delays because a number of the witnesses were not cooperative.”

Epstein Donations To MIT

ny times logoNew York Times, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology said it would investigate its dealings with Jeffrey Epstein, Marc Tracy and Tiffany Hsu, Aug. 23, 2019. A week after Joichi Ito, the director of the M.I.T. Media Lab, apologized for his ties to the disgraced New York financier Jeffrey Epstein, the president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced that the university would investigate its dealings with Mr. Epstein.

In an email sent Thursday evening to the M.I.T. community that was shared with The New York Times, the president, L. Rafael Reif, said the university had received roughly $800,000 in donations from Epstein funds over a 20-year period. The money went to the Media Lab, an elite research center led by Mr. Ito, as well as to a member of the M.I.T. faculty, the physicist Seth Lloyd. Mr. Ito is also on the board of The New York Times Company.

“unfortunately, there have been some delays because a number of the witnesses were not cooperative.”

Media News

daily beast logoDaily Beast, New York Times Reporter Solicited $30,000 for Charity From Jeffrey Epstein, Lachlan Cartwright and Maxwell Tani, Aug. 23, 2019. Sources tell The Daily Beast that Landon Thomas Jr. was “pushed out” after confessing he was friends with the sexual predator.

A former New York Times reporter solicited a $30,000 charitable donation from accused serial sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein, NPR reported Thursday.

Last summer, according to NPR’s David Folkenflik, financial journalist Landon Thomas Jr. told his editors at the Times that he had become friends with Epstein after previously covering the disgraced financier—and had gotten Epstein to donate to a charity. The Times forbade Thomas from further contact with Epstein and he left the paper in early 2019, NPR reported.

jeffrey epstein sex offenderMultiple Times sources confirmed NPR’s story and provided The Daily Beast with new details about what went on between Thomas, Epstein, and the paper’s editors.

Thomas, who wrote a glossy story about Epstein after he pleaded guilty to sex charges in 2008, did not respond to requests for comment from The Daily Beast.

But revelations about his close relationship with Epstein—who was accused of molesting underage girls for more than a decade before his jailhouse suicide — was the talk of the Times newsroom Thursday evening, according to insiders.

“This was a shocking lapse of journalistic standards. It was clearly a fuck-up of epic proportions,” said a person with knowledge of the matter.

elon musk 2015It started last summer when the Times received a tip that Epstein had been advising Tesla CEO Elon Musk, right, on who to appoint to a high-powered position at the company. (Musk has since denied this rumor.) NPR reported that business editors asked Thomas to attempt to interview Epstein, given their history, about the Musk tip.

Thomas did interview Epstein, then debriefed his colleagues on the business desk, Times sources told The Daily Beast. He then disclosed to his editor, David Enrich, that Epstein was not only a source but a long-time friend and that the two had had dinner together on multiple occasions. Then Thomas dropped the bombshell: He had asked Epstein to donate $30,000 to a Harlem cultural center in 2017.

ny times logoEnrich was shocked, sources said. “It was made clear to Landon that he was never to have any professional contact with Epstein whatsoever,” said a person with knowledge of the situation. “He wasn’t to call him or speak to him or use him as a source. This was a flagrant breach of NYT ethical guidelines and editors were horrified.”

Thomas tried to downplay his relationship with Epstein to the paper, sources said. At the same time, he resisted giving Epstein’s contact information to colleague James Stewart who had been assigned to interview Epstein about the Tesla situation, sources said.

Ultimately, Thomas was “pushed out” out of the paper by top business editor Ellen Pollock, as one Times source put it.

“We wish we had of gotten rid of him sooner. He should have been fired on the spot,” a person with knowledge of the matter said.

Thomas left the Times in early 2019 in a departure that was kept secret from virtually the entire newsroom until NPR’s scoop on Thursday, sources said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Stephanie Grisham’s Turbulent Ascent to a Top White House Role, Elizabeth Williamson, Aug. 23, 2019 (print ed.). The new press secretary and communications director is more behind-the-scenes facilitator than public face of the administration.

Stephanie Grisham doled out fast food and tracked lost gear as a press wrangler on President Trump’s 2016 campaign, far from the in-crowd flying on the gold-plated Trump jet. An early and hard-working convert to Mr. Trump’s cause, she told a reporter at one point that she was “riding it until the money runs out,” eager to return home to Arizona.

Instead, Ms. Grisham, 43, rode all the way to Washington with Mr. Trump. And now, after serving in the press office and as Melania Trump’s spokeswoman, she occupies one of the most prestigious roles in American politics, as White House press secretary and communications director for both the president and the first lady.

For a public relations specialist who once churned out news releases on traffic safety, the White House is the loftiest stop in a turbulent career trajectory that has mixed toughness and loyalty to her bosses with professional scrapes, ethical blunders and years spent alternately wooing and pounding the press on behalf of scandal-prone Arizona Republicans.

U.S. Border Guard / 'Fake News' Claim

washington post logoWashington Post, British journalist says CBP agent accused him of ‘being part of the fake news media,’ Allyson Chiu, Aug. 23, 2019. When James Dyer approached a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday, he was just another traveler passing through the bustling hub. But then Dyer said he presented his journalist visa to the agent and what should have been a routine immigration stop quickly transformed into “an unsettling experience.”

us dhs big eagle logo4In a lengthy Twitter thread that has since gone viral, Dyer, who covers film and TV for Empire magazine in the United Kingdom, detailed how the CBP agent (part of the Homeland Security Department) accused him of “being part of the ‘fake news media’” before launching into a “surprising and inappropriate” diatribe that echoed rhetoric used by President Trump in his frequent attacks against the media. Dyer told The Washington Post he had flown from London to Los Angeles for Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, Calif., where he plans to write about Star Wars.

“He wanted to know if I’d ever worked for CNN or MSNBC or other outlets that are ‘spreading lies to the American people,’” Dyer tweeted, referencing two media organizations Trump has repeatedly blasted as “fake news.” “He aggressively told me that journalists are liars and are attacking their democracy.”

He wanted to know if I’d ever worked for CNN or MSNBC or other outlets that are “spreading lies to the American people.” He aggressively told me that journalists are liars and are attacking their democracy.
— James Dyer (@jamescdyer) August 22, 2019

A CBP spokesperson told The Post late Thursday that the agency was aware of Dyer’s experience.

“All CBP officers take an Oath of Office, a solemn pledge that conveys great responsibility and one that should be carried out at all times with the utmost professionalism,” the statement said. “Inappropriate comments or behavior are not tolerated, and do not reflect our values of vigilance, integrity and professionalism.”

Dyer’s account comes as CBP agents have been repeatedly accused of verbally harassing and, in at least one case, detaining traveling journalists. In April, the United States’ ranking in the annual World Freedom Press Index dropped for a third year in a row, a decline researchers attributed to Trump’s incendiary language,
The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi reported. This year, for the first time since the index was launched in 2002, the treatment of journalists in the United States was classified as “problematic.”

Returning U.S. Jihadists?

Lawfare, Analysis: It’s Not Only Iraq and Syria, Seamus Hughes and Jon Lewis, Aug. 23, 2019. Nearly a decade ago, five young men from the Washington, D.C., suburbs disappeared. Confusion about their whereabouts caused a panic within the national security community, which was only made worse by their reappearance a few days later when they were arrested in Pakistan for allegedly attempting to join Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the charity wing of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani terrorist organization. The arrest shocked the public and counterterrorism policy circles because of the seemingly well-integrated nature of the five suspected terrorists.

The Five Guys and these more recent cases raise similar issues for the Justice Department and for the American public: What is to be done with an American Jihadist who is set to be released from custody in a foreign nation? A database we maintain at the Program on Extremism has identified nearly a dozen Americans known to be in foreign custody in places such as Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Turkey.

#MeToo U.S. / Taliban Story

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘No one just goes hiking in Afghanistan’: American woman gave birth as a Taliban hostage. Now she seeks to end her mystery, Missy Ryan, Aug. 23, 2019. Caitlan Coleman, a former Taliban hostage, gave birth to three of her four children during the five years she and her husband were in captivity.

Coleman, who was kidnapped with Boyle during a backpacking trip to neighboring Afghanistan in 2012, had already endured more than two years of deprivation, assault and the ever-present possibility of summary execution at the hands of the Haqqani network, the feared Taliban faction known for attacking Westerners.

Her first child, a boy, was born shortly after they were taken captive. A second pregnancy was terminated after a guard secretly added chemicals to their food, she and Boyle believed.

Now back in the United States, Coleman is attempting to create a stable home for her four young children while a Canadian court tries their father on 19 counts of abuse, including sexual assault and unlawful confinement. The outcome of the case, which has focused attention on the couple’s intimate life and their conflicting depictions of each other, is likely to determine whether Coleman retains sole custody of the children.

Aug. 22

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Deficit Will Reach $1 Trillion Next Year, Budget Office Predicts, Jim Tankersley and Emily Cochrane, Aug. 22, 2019 (print ed.). The federal budget deficit is growing faster than expected as President Trump considers plans that would add to government debt, like tax cuts.

GOP Trump Challengers?

washington post logojoe walshWashington Post, Trump critics eye GOP primary race, even if defeating him seems ‘preposterous,’ Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, Aug. 22, 2019 (print ed.). Joe Walsh, right, and Mark Sanford are leaning toward a presidential bid, while Jeff Flake is taking recruitment calls and John Kasich plans a visit to New Hampshire.

Joe Walsh, a pugnacious former congressman, is preparing a Republican primary challenge to President Trump that he previewed as a daily “bar fight” with the incumbent over his morality and competency.

republican elephant logoMark Sanford, right, a former South Carolina governor and congressman, said he is inching closer to a bid of his own by sounding out activists in New Hampshire and other early-voting states about an insurgency focused on the mark sanford oballooning deficit.

Jeff Flake, a former Arizona senator and Trump antagonist, said he has taken a flurry of recruitment calls in recent days from GOP donors rattled by signs of an economic slowdown and hungry for an alternative to Trump.

john kasich handsup cropped 10 6 15 IMG 1153 SmallAnd former Ohio governor John Kasich will head to New Hampshire next month to “take a look at things” after experiencing “an increase” in overtures this summer, an adviser said.

The anti-Trump movement inside the Republican Party — long a political wasteland — is feeling new urgency to mount a credible opposition to Trump before it’s too late.

With state deadlines for nominating contests rapidly approaching in the fall, potential candidates face pressure to decide on running within the next few weeks. So far, only former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld has declared that he is running, but he has struggled to gain traction.

djt as chosen one

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opiniion: Trump's increasingly dangerous messiah complex demands his removal from office, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 22, 2019 (subscription required). Trump (shown in a caricature above) re-tweeted a statement by far-right conspiracy nutter Wayne Allyn Root that Israelis believe that Trump is the “King of Israel" and that "they love him like he is the second coming of God." Later, during a impromptu press gaggle outside the White House, Trump said, “I am the chosen one,” as he looked skyward.

Epstein Crimes, Death

ap logoAssociated Press via Times of Israel, French group says it has 10 witnesses of Epstein-linked abuse, Staff report, Aug. 22, 2019. A French charity said Thursday it has received 10 witness statements after launching an appeal for testimony about sex crimes committed against minors in France linked to the late convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

jeffrey epstein hands handsInnocence en Danger (Innocence in Danger), which defends the rights of minors against violence and sexual abuse, said it would pass on the witness statements to the judicial authorities.

US billionaire Epstein (shown in a photo via his foundation) was linked to a string of sordid abuses involving underage girls at both his Palm Beach home and on his private island in the Caribbean. But there have also been calls for a French inquiry into any violence committed in France since Epstein was known to entertain guests at a sumptuous apartment on Avenue Foch near the Champs-Elysees.

“We received 10 witness statements,” the head of Innocence en Danger, Homayra Sellier, told AFP, adding that they came from people saying they were either victims of abuse or witnessed it.

Those who said they were victims were not all French but the alleged violations “took place on French territory and probably at the hands of French people,” she said.

She said the organization’s lawyers would draw up legal complaints based on these statements and pass them on to both Paris prosecutors and the American legal authorities.

jeffrey epstein gurney cropped emergency room

Financier, sex trafficker and suspected intelligence operative Jeffrey Epstein is shown on a gurney at a hospital emergency room in a New York Post photo.

washington post logoWashington Post, At least eight jail officials knew Jeffrey Epstein was not to be left alone in cell, Devlin Barrett, Aug. 22, 2019 (print ed.). That so many prison officials were aware of the directive has alarmed investigators assessing what appears to be a stunning failure to follow instructions, according to people familiar with the matter.

Obamas To Purchase Vineyard Estate

bo michelle obama college tshirts may 5 20154

New York Post, Barack and Michelle Obama are buying a $15M estate in Martha’s Vineyard, Hana R. Alberts, Aug. 22, 2019. Barack and Michelle Obama (shown in a 2015 file photo wearing their college teeshirts) are close to buying a massive Martha’s Vineyard estate. TMZ reports that the former president and first lady are in escrow — aka in contract to purchase — a 29-acre beachfront plot with a 6,892-square-foot main house. The Obamas were initially just renting the seven-bedroom, 8½-bathroom spread for summer 2019, but apparently loved it so much that they made an offer.

The property at 79 Turkeyland Cove Road in Edgartown, Mass. — owned by Boston Celtics chief Wyc Grousbeck — has a living room with vaulted ceilings and a stone fireplace, a chef’s kitchen and a formal dining room with giant windows, according to the property’s Realtor.com listing.

#MeToo Scandal At Yale

washington post logoWashington Post, Yale missteps allowed professor to prey on students for decades, report finds, Hailey Fuchs, Aug. 22, 2019. School president says he is “deeply sorry” administrators didn’t intervene sooner. Eugene Redmond, a longtime Yale University psychiatry professor, lured students to his research site on a Caribbean island, offering financial and professional support before sexually assaulting them — behavior that persisted for almost 25 years after Yale was made aware of the alleged actions, according to a university investigation released this week.

The 54-page report revealed missteps by Yale administrators that allowed a chronic abuser to prey upon students for decades. Redmond, affiliated with the Yale School of Medicine faculty for 44 years, is accused of sexually assaulting at least five students and performing unnecessary, invasive genital or rectal exams dating to the early 1990s. He committed acts of sexual misconduct involving at least eight other undergraduates, recent graduates and one high school student, according to the review conducted by Deirdre M. Daly, a former U.S. attorney in Connecticut.

The revelations emerged from interviews with 110 witnesses, including 38 current and former students. Months before the report was released, the Yale Daily News published an investigation of Redmond’s alleged abuse. In a statement to the student paper, Redmond denied the allegations, calling them “slanderous and defamatory.”Redmond, who is banned from Yale’s campus and denied the privileges of a retired faculty member, has not been criminally charged and declined the university’s request for an interview during the investigation. His attorney did not respond to requests for comment from The Washington Post.

The Yale professor becomes the latest tenured faculty member at a high-profile university to be ensnared by the #MeToo movement. At other Ivy League schools, the movement has similarly led to a reckoning. In July, Harvard suspended an acclaimed economist facing allegations of unwelcome sexual contact. Dartmouth recently reached a $14 million settlement with nine women who said the college disregarded years of sexual harassment and assault by former psychology professors.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, 'It's going to be tough': House Democrats appear less likely to get Trump's tax returns before 2020 election, Jeff Stein, Rachael Bade and Jacqueline Alemany, Aug. 22, 2019. House Democrats face internal divisions over whether they could have moved faster to secure the president's financial records.

House Democrats appear increasingly unlikely to secure President Trump’s tax returns before the 2020 presidential election, according to interviews with legal experts and several lawmakers, as resistance from the Trump administration has stymied the party’s efforts to obtain his personal financial records.

Several Democrats involved in oversight see a long path to getting a final court decision, even if they expect to win in the end. Trevor N. McFadden, a Trump-appointed judge who was assigned the case in July, will hear the case first, and any decision is likely to be appealed to higher courts, up to the Supreme Court.

For it to be resolved by fall 2020 would amount to Democrats drawing a possible but improbable legal “perfect straight,” according to Harry Sandick, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), whose panel is leading the pursuit of Trump’s returns, has also thus far opted not to pursue Trump’s state returns despite a new law in New York giving them the authority to do so.

Neal has stressed that his lawsuit, which was filed after the Trump administration refused a subpoena for the tax returns, is motivated by the need to conduct oversight of the administration rather than politics or the timing of the election. Neal has led a deliberative probe for the president’s records, relying closely on legal counsel, although he has faced internal criticism from lawmakers for moving too slowly.

Global Affairs: Asia

washington post logoWashington Post, In blow to U.S. security interests, South Korea axes pact to share intelligence with Japan, Simon Denyer, Aug. 22, 2019. The United States had urged the allies to settle their differences, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (shown with Trump in an AP file photo by Alex Brandon) stressing their djt mike pompeo ap alex brandon“incredibly important” cooperation on North Korea.

South Korea scrapped an agreement to share military intelligence with Japan on Thursdaysouth korea flag Small, dramatically escalating the stakes in the U.S. allies’ dispute over trade and historical grievances.

The decision is sure to be met with concern in the United States, which views intelligence sharing between the allies over North Korea as critical.

Prosecution Immunity Undercut

ap logoAssociated Press via Yahoo, Court: Attorney can't claim immunity in wrongful conviction, staff report, Aug. 22, 2019. A federal appeals court has ruled that a former Kansas county prosecutor does not have absolute immunity in lawsuits filed by a man who spent nearly 16 years in prison for a murder his brother later confessed to committing in a suicide note.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Aug. 16 upheld a lower court ruling in a lawsuit filed by Floyd Bledsoe against former Jefferson County prosecutor Jim Vanderbilt and others, who Bledsoe claims fabricated evidence and conspired to convict him in the 1999 rape and murder of 14-year-old Camille Arfmann near Oskaloosa, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported .

Bledsoe was released from prison in 2015 after his brother, Tom, killed himself and said in a note that he had killed the girl. Bledsoe received a $1 million settlement in May from the state of Kansas for his wrongful conviction and incarceration.

Bledsoe filed a federal lawsuit alleging his constitutional rights were violated by Jefferson County officials, including Vanderbilt.

"We affirm the district court's decision that defendant Vanderbilt does not enjoy absolute immunity from suit for allegedly fabricating evidence against plaintiff during the preliminary investigation of C.A.'s (Camille Arfmann) murder," the appellate court said.

Arfmann was kidnapped and shot to death in rural Jefferson County in November 1999. Tom Bledsoe was originally charged with murder after he confessed led authorities to the body. But shortly afterward, those charges were dropped and Floyd Bledsoe was arrested. He was convicted in 2000 of murder, kidnapping and indecent liberties with a child and sentenced to life in prison.

Floyd Bledsoe was freed in 2015 after DNA testing showed evidence implicated his brother in the case. Tom Bledsoe killed himself and left several notes confessing to the crimes, including a note that said, in part, "I sent an innocent man to prison. The Jefferson County police and county attorney Jim Vanderbilt made me do it."

Vanderbilt's law license was suspended in 2005 and again in 2011 for violations in other cases. It has not been reinstated.

washington post logoWashington Post, Here’s what you need to know about Trump’s suit to keep his finances secret, Renae Merle, Aug. 22, 2019. A court is to hear arguments Friday on whether Deutsche Bank and Capital One should have to turn over Trump’s financial records to the House. The Justice Department is siding with President Trump in his fight to keep his banking records out of the hands of House Democrats.

A panel of justices at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit is scheduled to hear arguments Friday morning on Trump’s appeal in the case. Trump is appealing a district judge’s ruling that would have allowed Deutsche Bank and Capital One to hand over years of financial records relating to the president, his three eldest children and the president’s companies to two House committees.

Trump’s lawsuit to block the subpoenas was filed as a private citizen, not by the government, and it names Deutsche Bank and Capital One as defendants, with the two House committees added as intervening parties.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump, frustrated by unpopularity with Jews, thrusts Israel into his culture war, Philip Rucker, Aug. 22, 2019. The president’s words about Jews magnify his transactional approach to politics and his miscalculation that his support for Israel should automatically translate into electoral support from Jewish Americans.

washington post logoej dionne w open neckWashington Post, Opinion: Trump is weaponizing evangelicals’ mistrust, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Aug. 22, 2019 (print ed.). Are the dominant voices of white evangelical Christianity in the United States destined to be angry and defensive? Is President Trump making sure they stay that way?

I found myself asking these questions after I read my Post colleague Elizabeth Bruenig’s revealing and deeply reported essay about her journey to Texas to probe why evangelicals have been so loyal to Trump and are likely to remain so.

republican elephant logoHers was a venture in sympathetic understanding and empathetic listening.

What she heard was a great desire to push back against liberals, to defend a world that sees itself under siege and to embrace Trump — not as a particularly good man but as a fighter against all of the things and people and causes that they cannot abide. Even more, they believe liberals and secularists are utterly hostile to the culture they have built and the worldview they embrace.

brad parscale fox

Daily Mail, How Donald Trump's campaign manager Brad Parscale went from family bankruptcy to splashing out millions on mansions, condos and luxury cars through his companies that get a hefty cut of the president's $57M campaign contributions, Jose Lambiet, Aug. 22, 2019. Working for Donald Trump has made Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale a very rich man in a very short time.

Parscale (shown on a Fox News screengrab) and his family went from losing one company to bankruptcy in the mid-2000s to multi-million-dollar real estate- and car-shopping sprees, DailyMail.com has learned exclusively.

And Parscale's swift trip from business loser to one percenter has raised eyebrows among his peers as well as ethical questions -- especially when campaign records show Parscale has been making just $15,000 a month as Trump's electioneering guru.

'A campaign manager is supposed to run a campaign for the express benefit of the candidate,' Fred Wertheimer, a leading proponent of campaign reform and the founder of the bipartisan non-profit Democracy 21, told DailyMail.com.

'If a campaign manager provides himself unusual benefits, he is not fulfilling his proper role and not serving his candidate's best interests nor those of his donors.'

Parscale's lavish spending on himself, it seems, sped up this year – just months after he was promoted from digital media director, the job he held during the 2016 campaign when he ran Trump's social media campaign, to Trump's 2020 campaign manager.

Parscale, whom Trump now introduces to supporters during political rallies and calls 'an amazing talent,' told DailyMail.com in an exclusive chat that he will not apologize for becoming wealthy.

'I make no secret about the fact that working for the Trump family made me a wealthy man well before I ever became President Trump's campaign manager,' he said. 'The President is an excellent businessman and being associated with him for years has been extremely beneficial to my family.'

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats, citing GOP-imposed voting restrictions, aim to take over secretary of state offices in five states, Vanessa Williams, Aug. 22, 2019 (print ed.). Since 2012, many Republican-controlled state legislatures have enacted stricter laws for voter registration and identification. Democrats say it amounts to suppression.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosThe Democratic Association of Secretaries of State is launching an initiative to try to wrest control of those offices from Republicans, who the group claims have used their power to make it harder for certain demographics to vote.

Buoyed by successes last year in Arizona, Colorado and Michigan, the group has set its sights on flipping five more states in 2020. In addition to recruiting and supporting Democratic candidates, the association is planning a public education campaign on the importance of secretaries of state, who oversee the election process in most states.

The offices of governor, U.S. senator and even attorney general tend to get more attention in statewide elections than that of secretary of state. But Alex Padilla, California’s secretary of state and the president of the association, said Republicans understand the influence of the office and have used it unfairly to their party’s advantage.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jay Inslee, governor centered on climate change, drops out of presidential race, Eli Rosenberg, Aug. 22, 2019 jay inslee twitter(print ed.). Gov. Jay Inslee, who entered the 2020 contest by making the case that climate change is the central issue of our time, dropped out of the Democratic presidential race on Wednesday.

Inslee, right, announced on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” that he was dropping out. He had argued democratic donkey logowhen he declared his candidacy in March that addressing climate change — “the most urgent challenge of our time” — should be a top priority.

The two-term governor released a plan that called for a new Justice Department office to prosecute environmental laws and vowed to put at least 40 percent of federal investments in clean energy in communities disproportionately affected by income inequality, pollution and other climate-related impacts.

washington post logoWashington Post, Federal judge allows Trump to appeal lawsuit over foreign payments accepted by his hotels, David A. Fahrenthold and Ann E. Marimow, Aug. 22, 2019 (print ed.). The decision is a setback for critics who hope the courts will find him in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clauses.

Axios, Top Homeland Security aide resigns amid tensions with White House, Jonathan Swan, Stef W. Kight and Alayna Treene, Aug. 22, 2019. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan's top aide and spokesperson is resigning amid frustration in the White House over the Department of Homeland Security's handling of major policy rollouts and White House distrust of McAleenan and his inner circle, sources familiar with his resignation tell Axios.

Why it matters: Andrew Meehan's departure comes amid broader internal tensions between the White House and DHS leadership. President Trump is wary of McAleenan, whom he associates with the Obama administration, and his top aides, several current and former administration officials tell us.

These sources say Trump has no intention of formally nominating McAleenan for a permanent position. "Meehan, who was in Panama in advance of the secretary's visit during the Flores rollout, made the decision to leave government a couple of weeks ago," a senior DHS official told Axios.

Behind the scenes: These growing tensions were exacerbated by what some White House officials saw as DHS’ botched rollout of a new proposal that would reverse the Flores agreement, a decades-old court decision that prevents the government from holding minors in detention for longer than 20 days with their parents, per sources with direct knowledge.

White House press and communications officials were frustrated with McAleenan for holding a press conference about the new proposal at the Ronald Reagan building, which houses U.S. Customs and Border Patrol's D.C. office, rather than at a location like the White House that would have attracted more media attention, according to senior administration officials.
"Flores is a huge deal to the president," a senior official said. "This is the underpinning of the whole fight. This just seems to me this is a very important rollout and they ... undersold it at the Reagan Center.
"[McAleenan] could have been on all the TVs if he wanted to. But not everybody's taking live coverage from the Reagan Center at the last minute. At some point something has got to go right at DHS with their messaging and rollouts."

Cyber Wars

washington post logopalantir logoWashington Post, The war inside Palantir: Data-mining firm’s ties to ICE under attack by employees, Douglas MacMillan and Elizabeth Dwoskin​, Aug. 22, 2019. The company provides digital profiling tools to the federal government as it carries out President Trump’s increasingly controversial immigration policies. After Google dropped a defense contract over employee pressure, Palantir’s leaders doubled down on controversial work with the U.S. government.

ny times logoNew York Times, Big Tech, a Conservative Provocateur and the Fight Over Disinformation, Nicholas Confessore and Justin Bank, Aug. 21, 2019 (Updated Aug. 22). A political operative built a potent online disinformation mill with his son. When Silicon Valley changed the rules, they tried to go straight. Or did they?

The Western Journal rose on the forces that have remade — and warped — American politics, as activists, publishers and politicians harnessed social media’s power and reach to serve fine-tuned ideological content to an ever-agitated audience. Founded by the veteran republican elephant logoconservative provocateur Floyd G. Brown, who began his career with the race-baiting “Willie Horton” ad during the 1988 presidential campaign, and run by his younger son, Patrick, The Western Journal used misleading headlines and sensationalized stories to attract partisans, then profit from their anger.

But Silicon Valley’s efforts to crack down on clickbait and disinformation have pummeled traffic to The Western Journal and other partisan news sites. Some leading far-right figures have been kicked off social media platforms entirely, after violating rules against hate speech and incitement. Republican politicians and activists have alleged that the tech companies are unfairly censoring the right, threatening conservatives’ ability to sway public opinion and win elections.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ransomware Attacks Cripple Cities Across America, Manny Fernandez, David E. Sanger and Marina Trahan Martinez, Aug. 22, 2019. As hackers lock networks that power police forces and utilities, officials must operate with hobbled computers, and decide whether to pay ransoms. More than 40 U.S. municipalities have been the victims of cyberattacks this year.

At the public library in Wilmer, Tex., books were checked out not with the beeps of bar code readers but with the scratches of pen on notebook paper. Out on the street, police officers were literally writing tickets — by hand. When the entire computer network that keeps the small town’s bureaucracy afloat was recently hacked, Wilmer was thrown into the digital Dark Ages.

“It’s weird,” said Jennifer Dominguez, a library assistant. “We’ve gone old school.”

This has been the summer of crippling ransomware attacks. Wilmer — a town of almost 5,000 people just south of Dallas — is one of 22 cities across Texas that are simultaneously being held hostage for millions of dollars after a sophisticated hacker, perhaps a group of them, infiltrated their computer systems and encrypted their data. The attack instigated a statewide disaster-style response that includes the National Guard and a widening F.B.I. inquiry.

More than 40 municipalities have been the victims of cyberattacks this year, from major cities such as Baltimore, Albany and Laredo, Tex., to smaller towns including Lake City, Fla. Lake City is one of the few cities to have paid a ransom demand — about $460,000 in Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency — because it thought reconstructing its systems would be even more costly.

ny times logoNew York Times, Facebook Dropped Them, and Won’t Take Their Calls, Kashmir Hill, Aug. 22, 2019.  Kicked off the platform, some users are trying — really, really hard — to find a human employee to let them back on.

facebook logoFor a decade, Christopher Reeves, an Uber driver in Seattle, used Facebook for everything: talking with friends, communicating with fellow drivers, meeting singles. But one day in June, as he was uploading photos from a comic book convention and a family trip to Disney Land, he found himself abruptly logged out.

When Mr. Reeves, 32, tried to sign back in, the Facebook page said that his account had been disabled. It requested a photo to verify his identity. He took a selfie with his iPhone, but Facebook rejected it, as well as several other self portraits. Eventually he gave up and sought out a page in Facebook’s help center for people who think their accounts have been disabled by mistake. He provided his name, email address and a photo of his driver’s license.

Days passed. Mr. Reeves heard nothing.

Aug. 21

U.S. Politics

Business Insider, Truckers voted for Trump in droves. Now they say his trade war is 'killing' their ability to make a living, Rachel Premack, Aug. 21, 2019.  Morris Coffman has been a truck driver for 35 years. And he's been a conservative for even longer than that — his whole life. "That said," Coffman told Business Insider, "[Trump] is absolutely a moron. His idiotic ideas will tank the economy even further."

republican elephant logoTruckers, like Coffman, lean conservative. A Verdant Labs analysis of Federal Elections Commission data found that nearly three-quarters of truck drivers are Republican — one of the most conservative jobs in America, along with surgeons and farmers.

And truck drivers supported Trump in droves, according to an Overdrive magazine survey from 2016. About 75% said they planned to vote for Trump, up from 66% who supported Sen. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012.

 tulsi gabbard june 26 2019 dem debate

Real Clear Politics, Commentary: Gabbard Victimized by DNC's Dubious Debate Criteria, Michael Tracey (journalist in Jersey City, N.J.), Aug. 21, 2019. Tulsi Gabbard, above in a debate screenshot, is on the verge of being excluded from the next Democratic presidential debate on the basis of criteria that appear increasingly absurd.

dnc square logoTake, for instance, her poll standing in New Hampshire, which currently places Gabbard at 3.3% support, according to the RealClearPolitics average as of Aug. 20. One might suspect that such a figure would merit inclusion in the upcoming debates -- especially considering she’s ahead of several candidates who have already been granted entry, including Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, and Andrew Yang. But the Democratic National Committee has decreed that the polls constituting this average are not sufficiently “qualifying.”

What makes a poll “qualifying” in the eyes of the DNC? The answer is conspicuously inscrutable. Months ago, party chieftains issued a list of “approved sponsoring organizations/institutions” for polls that satisfy their criteria for debate admittance. Not appearing on that list is the Boston Globe, which sponsored a Suffolk University poll published Aug. 6 that placed Gabbard at 3%. The DNC had proclaimed that for admittance to the September and October debates, candidates must secure polling results of 2% or more in four separate “approved” polls -- but a poll sponsored by the newspaper with the largest circulation in New Hampshire (the Globe recently surpassed the New Hampshire Union Leader there) does not count, per this cockamamie criteria. There has not been an officially qualifying poll in New Hampshire, Gabbard’s best state, in over a month.

The absurdity mounts. A South Carolina poll published Aug. 14 by the Post and Courier placed Gabbard at 2%. One might have again vainly assumed that the newspaper with the largest circulation in a critical early primary state would be an “approved” sponsor per the dictates of the DNC, but it is not. Curious.

To recap:

Gabbard has polled at 2% or more in two polls sponsored by the two largest newspapers in two early primary states, but the DNC -- through its mysteriously incoherent selection process -- has determined that these surveys do not count toward her debate eligibility. Without these exclusions, Gabbard would have already qualified. She has polled at 2% or more in two polls officially deemed “qualifying,” and surpassed the 130,000 donor threshold on Aug. 2. While the latter metric would seem more indicative of “grassroots support” -- a formerly obscure Hawaii congresswoman has managed to secure more than 160,000 individual contributions from all 50 states, according to the latest figures from her campaign -- the DNC has declared that it will prioritize polling over donors.

In polls with a sample size of just a few hundred people, this means excluding candidates based on what can literally amount to rounding errors: A poll that places a candidate at 1.4% could be considered non-qualifying, but a poll that places a candidate at 1.5% is considered qualifying. Pinning such massive decisions for the trajectory of a campaign on insignificant fractional differences seems wildly arbitrary.

Gabbard has a unique foreign-policy-centric message that is distinct from every other candidate, and she has managed to convert a shoestring campaign operation into a sizable public profile. (She is currently in Indonesia on a two-week National Guard training mission, therefore missing a crucial juncture of the campaign.) Other candidates poised for exclusion might also have a reasonable claim to entry -- Marianne Williamson passed the 130,000 donor threshold this week -- but the most egregious case is clearly Gabbard. If only out of self-interest, the DNC might want to ponder whether alienating her supporters is a tactically wise move, considering how deeply suspicious many already are of the DNC’s behind-the-scenes role -- memories of a “rigged” primary in 2016 are still fresh. In its December 2018 “framework” for the debates, the DNC declared: “Given the fluid nature of the presidential nominating process, the DNC will continuously assess the state of the race and make adjustments to this process as appropriate.” Now would likely be an “appropriate” time for such a reassessment.

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, New Rule Would Let U.S. Hold Migrant Families Indefinitely, Michael D. Shear and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Aug. 21, 2019. The regulation would let the Trump administration set standards for conditions at centers and abolish a 20-day limit on detaining families. It must be approved by a federal judge and is expected to be immediately challenged in court.

us dhs big eagle logo4The Trump administration unveiled a regulation on Wednesday that would allow it to detain indefinitely migrant families who cross the border illegally, replacing a decades-old court agreement that limited how long the government could hold migrant children in custody and mandated the level of care they must receive.

The White House has for more than a year pressed the Department of Homeland Security to find a way to eliminate the agreement, known as the Flores settlement, a shift that immigration hard-liners inside the administration say is crucial to halt the flow of migrants across the southwestern border.

ny times logoNew York Times, Job Gains Were Weaker Than Reported, by Half a Million, Ben Casselman, Aug. 21, 2019. Employers added a half-million fewer jobs in 2018 and early 2019 than previously reported, the Labor Department said Wednesday.

The revisions, which are preliminary, are part of an annual process in which survey-based estimates are brought into alignment with more definitive data from state unemployment insurance records. Wednesday’s revision covers the period through March; final updates, which will include the rest of 2019, will be released in February.

labor department logoThe revisions don’t change the overall picture of a healthy job market. But they do mean that 2018, which had ranked among the strongest years of job growth in the decade-long recovery, was weaker than previously believed. After the revision, hiring probably averaged under 200,000 jobs per month last year, down from the 223,000 initially reported and only modestly better than the 179,000 monthly jobs added in 2017.

Wednesday’s update is also the latest evidence that the economy got less of a jolt from President Trump’s tax cuts than it initially appeared. Wednesday’s revision was the largest in recent years, but it didn’t come as a total surprise.

Trump As 'King of Israel?'

cnbc logoCNBC, ‘I am the Chosen One,’ Trump proclaims as he defends trade war with China, Kevin Breuninger, Aug. 21, 2019. President Donald Trump on Wednesday declared himself “the Chosen One” as he defended his administration’s actions in the ongoing U.S.-China trade war.

The president’s self-aggrandizing remark followed a string of criticisms aimed at his predecessors, whom he claimed had ignored China’s alleged malpractice on trade. “This isn’t my trade war, this is a trade war that should have taken place a long time ago,” Trump told reporters outside the White House.

donald trump twitter“I was put here by people,” the president said. “I was put here by people to do a great job. And that’s what I’m doing.”

Earlier Wednesday, Trump retweeted a right-wing pundit’s flattering, messiah-flavored comments about the wayne allyn rootpresident’s support in Israel.

“The Jewish people in Israel love him like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God,” said that supporter, Wayne Allyn Root, right.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump labeled “Antichrist” amid calls for 25th Amendment after Trump declares himself “King of Israel” and the “Chosen One,” Bill Palmer, Aug. 21, 2019. How far down the rabbit hole has Donald Trump gone? He just canceled a planned meeting with Denmark because it’s refusing to sell Greenland to him – and that not even the most asinine thing he’s done in the past twenty-four hours. In fact Trump has gone so far off the deep end today, we’re not even sure where to start.

bill palmer report logo headerThis morning Donald Trump quoted disturbed lunatic Wayne Allyn Root on Twitter, who suggested that Trump was the “King of Israel.” Then Trump went in front of the television cameras and declared that “I am the chosen one” when it comes to dealing with China.

danish flag wavingThese may sound like stories rejected by the Onion, but this stuff really happened this morning – and keep in mind that this is coming from a guy who’s in the midst of a tantrum because Greenland isn’t for sale.

The fallout from Donald Trump’s psychotic meltdown came fast and furious. “Antichrist” began trending on Twitter, as various observers pointed out that what Trump tweeted about being the “King of Israel” comes close to various descriptions of the Antichrist. The hashtag #25thAmendmentNow also began trending, as numerous people called for Trump to be immediately removed from office, on the grounds that he’s mentally unfit to remain on the job.

Now of course comes the question of whether Donald Trump really is having a mental breakdown, or if he’s faking one as an excuse to not have to go through with losing the 2020 election amid worsening poll numbers, or if he’s perhaps even faking this in the hope of avoiding the prison sentence that awaits him once he’s out of office. In any case, Trump has reached the point of no return.

More U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump: Jewish people who vote for Democrats are showing ‘great disloyalty’ or ‘lack of knowledge,’ Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner, Aug. 21, 2019. Critics say that the president’s remarks, made in an exchange with reporters in the Oval Office, were promoting anti-Semitic stereotypes.

rashinda tlaib smilePresident Trump on Tuesday said that any Jewish people who vote for Democrats are showing “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” prompting an outcry from critics who said the president’s remarks were promoting anti-Semitic stereotypes.

Trump made the comment in an exchange with reporters in the Oval Office ahead of a meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.

democratic donkey logoTrump began by lashing out at Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), right, questioning the sincerity of her tears at a news conference where she talked about her decision not to travel to Israel to see her elderly grandmother, who lives in the occupied West Bank.

He then went on to attack Democrats more generally over the views of Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar (Minn.). Both women have long been fierce critics of Israel and its treatment of Palestinians. They support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a global protest of Israel.

“Where has the Democratic Party gone?” Trump asked. “Where have they gone, where they’re defending these two people over the state of Israel? And I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

OpEd News, Opinion: Trump's Jews & Great Disloyalty Remarks Target Evangelical Zionists, Rob Kall, right (publisher and founder of OpEdNews and author of 2019 memoir The Bottom-Up Revolution), rob kall newAug. 21, 2019. Trump's comment "I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — I think it shows either total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty" may be aimed at Jews.

After all Trump is dumb enough and has enough contempt for Jews to insult them that way. But most importantly, Trump is talking to the approximately 70 million Evangelical Zionists who are his most reliable base.

When Trump tells Netanyahu to ban Omar and Tlaib, they are pandering to their most important American base — the seventy million Evangelical Zionists.

djt maga hatChristian Zionists are the most reliable supporters of the Republican Party. And they support Israel because of their belief in biblical prophesy that the Jews have to control Israel for the return of the messiah, followed by "the rapture," when believers are transported to heaven, leaving non-believers left-behind (the title of a hugely selling book series.)

I wouldn't be surprised if a tiny percentage of Jews, probably less than two percent, may be moved by Trump's moronic utterance.

Bottom-line, I don't think Trump's dog whistle, bigoted remark will work with Jews and it could bite back. So this is just more pandering to the Christian right. And they And they should be ashamed that THEY have not chastised him for his words.

phil mikan with micWMRD 1420 AM / WLIS 1150 AM (Middletown and Old Saybrook, Connecticut), JIP Director Andrew Kreig interviewed on the Phil Mikan Show, Aug. 21, 2019 (56 min.). Phil Mikan, right, a longtime broadcaster, interviews the Justice Integrity Project's editor on his latest reporting about the late pedophile and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein's death and other complex national news developments.

Parkland Students' Gun Plan

washington post logoWashington Post, Parkland students unveil sweeping gun-control proposal and hope for a youth voting surge in 2020, Jacqueline Alemany and Matt Viser, Aug. 21, 2019. The student activists who crashed the political arena after the mass shooting last year at their high school in Parkland, Fla., are throwing their weight behind a new and ambitious gun-control program that they hope will set the tone for the debate following the most recent mass shootings and headed into the 2020 elections.

Global Affairs

mette fredericken djt

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Analysis: U.S. territorial threat against Danish sovereignty a first for NATO, Aug. 21, 2019 (subscription danish flag wavingrequired). Greenland and Denmark are reeling from the aftermath of Donald Trump’s announced desire to purchase Greenland, an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, and his abrupt cancellation of his September 2-3 state visit to Denmark because Danish Prime Minster Mette Frederiksen (above right) rejected the idea of Trump buying Greenland.

New York Times, Opinion: Trump, Greenland, Denmark. Is This Real Life? Or a Peter Sellers movie? Editorial Board, Aug. 21, 2019. I want to buy Greenland, said President Trump. No way, said the Danes and Greenlanders, who share control over the giant frozen island and its rich mineral treasures. Then I’m not going to visit your queen, shot back the self-proclaimed master of the real estate deal, who can’t stand being rebuffed. “Is this some sort of joke?” tweeted Helle Thorning-Schmidt, a former Danish prime minister, speaking for everyone.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoThat’s the gist of it, one of the more astounding plays by a president who finds new ways to amaze, alienate and infuriate almost daily.

That the president of the United States would demonstrate such willful ignorance of how the world works, that he would treat a territory and its independent people like goods and chattel, that he would so readily damage relations with an old and important ally out of petty pique, is frightening.

Syrians Recover Land From Jihadists 

Southfront, Syrian Army Besieges Remaining Militants Positions, Staff report, Aug. 21, 2019. Syrian Arab Army (SAA) units advancing east of the town of Khan Shaykhun and west of the village of Tar’i met in the afternoon of August 21, effectively placing the remaining militants’ positions in northern Hama under siege.

syrian flag wavingThe towns of al-Lataminah, Kafr Zita, Murak, which have been strongholds of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and the so called Jaysh al-Izza for years, are all now under siege.

The Turkish observation post, located south of Murak, was also encircled by SAA units, according to pro-government sources.

turkey flagIn its first reaction to the Syrian military advance, the Turkish Presidency said that all observation posts will remain in their positions in Greater Idlib, without clarifying the fate of Murak’s post. Earlier, the SAA imposed control of Khan Shaykhun, which is located on a strategic highway linking Damascus with Aleppo.

The SAA is reportedly preparing to storm the militants’ enclave in northern Hama in the upcoming few hours. Most militants managed to withdraw over the last 48 hours. However, some were trapped.

Southfront, Opinion: Meet Idlib's "Moderate Opposition": Turkistan Islamic Party And Its Children Jihadist Camps, Aug. 21, 2019. Hostilities in Idlib have resumed, and it is unclear when exactly their end would come. On Aug. 20, the Syrian Arab Army, with support from Russia, liberated the largest urban center in southern Idlib – Khan Shaykhun.

Soon, multiple mainstream media will unite their voice blaiming and shaming the ‘bloody Assad regime’ and ‘coward Russia’ for opressing ‘moderate opposition’ in the region.

Let’s take a look at these ‘moderates’ withdrawing from Khan Shaykhun and its countryside.

As an example, a “local activist” – Ahmed Husseinat, cited by Al Jazeera, said the fighters who withdrew were from Jaysh al-Izza and Turkish-backed al-Jabha al-Wataniya lil-Tahrir (the National Liberation Front, NLF) – a loose coalition of armed groups considered part of the moderate opposition.

Both of these “moderate opposition” groups are allied to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which is without a doubt the biggest militant presence in Idlib currently and a terrorist group. HTS was formerly the local branch of al-Qaeda, but have, of course, “changed their ways” and are now ‘moderate’. The group said that there was no withdrawal, but rather a redeployment.

MSM (mainstream media) claims that other “moderate groups” are also present in Idlib -- they operate and carry out quite a few “humanitarian operations."

One such “moderate group” is the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), which “educates children.” Mostly in jihadism.

The TIP is an Islamic extremist organization founded by Uyghur jihadists in western China, considered broadly as a terrorist group. The group is allied to al-Qaeda.

Camps training children for Jihad are being run by the Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria. Uyghur child soldiers being instructed in Sharia and training with guns were depicted in numerous videos released by TIP.

U.S. Business

washington post logodavid ignatiusWashington Post, Opinion: Corporate panic about capitalism could be a turning point, David Ignatius, right, Aug. 21, 2019 (print ed.). “Evolve or die,” wrote hedge-fund billionaire Ray Dalio in a manifesto published in April titled “Why and How Capitalism Needs to Be Reformed.”

The loudest reform call yet from inside the system came this week from the Business Roundtable, which represents the chief executives of 192 of the nation’s largest companies. Most of its members signed a statement declaring that making profits for shareholders isn’t a corporation’s sole responsibility. Instead, companies have a broader mission to serve customers, employees, suppliers and communities, too, the statement said.

jamie dimonJamie Dimon, left, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase and chairman of the Business Roundtable, led the signers who agreed: “Many Americans are struggling. Too often hard work is not rewarded.” Dimon had warned earlier this year in his annual letter to his company’s shareholders that the American Dream was “fraying for many” because of stagnant wages and income inequality.

Business leaders seem to recognize the crisis: The system isn’t delivering. President Trump’s election reflects a populist rage that threatens America’s future prosperity and stability.

Corporate America fears the system is failing. As Dalio wrote, this is an “existential” moment. The guardians of capitalism seem to realize that they must respond to right-wing populists and left-wing progressives alike or face a worsening political crisis that is already hobbling the country.

Why No Epstein Probe?

jacob hornberger new

Aug. 21

Why No Epstein Probe?

jacob hornberger newFuture of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: Why No Congressional Investigation into Epstein’s Intelligence Connections? Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Aug. 21, 2019. With convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein now dead, the Justice Department has launched an investigation into prison procedures that allowed him to commit suicide. Meanwhile, women who were sexually abused or raped by Epstein when they were minors are continuing civil actions against Epstein’s estate.

But why no congressional investigation into Epstein’s relationship, if any, to intelligence agencies, including the CIA, the Mossad, or any others? Have we gotten to the point where everyone is so scared to be labeled a “conspiracy theorist” that Congress is precluded from conducting a legitimate investigation into the CIA or other intelligence agencies?

Such an investigation would not come out of the blue. It would revolve around the undeniably sweetheart deal that the U.S. Attorney in Florida, Alexander Acosta, gave to Epstein and the reasons that he gave that sweetheart deal to him.

Jeffrey Epstein Harvard University The plea deal enabled Epstein, right, to escape federal charges for sex trafficking and allowed him to plead guilty at the state level to the much lesser crime of soliciting prostitution, which enabled him to serve one year in a local jail, sort of. During that year, officials permitted him to leave the jailhouse on a daily basis to attend to business matters, after which he would return to spend the night in jail.

It would be extremely difficult to find a more sweetheart deal than that. But the question is, Why? We all know how tough federal prosecutors can be. We also know that sex trafficking is not something that is ordinarily countenanced at the federal level, especially when it involves underaged girls.

So, why did Acosta do it? Why did he agree to that sweetheart deal rather than prosecute Epstein in federal court for sex trafficking?

That’s what a congressional investigation would be intended to determine. And Acosta’s sworn testimony could well lead to an answer to that question.

An article that appeared in the August 19, 2019, issue of the Daily Beast by an investigative reporter named Vicky Ward points out the reason why such a congressional investigation would be warranted:

Epstein’s name, I was told, had been raised by the Trump transition team when Alexander Acosta, left, the former U.S. attorney in Miami who’d infamously cut Epstein a non-prosecution plea deal back in 2007, was being interviewed for the job of labor secretary. The plea deal put a hard stop to a separate federal investigation of alleged sex crimes with minors and trafficking.

alexander acosta labor oIs the Epstein case going to cause a problem [for confirmation hearings]?” Acosta had been asked. Acosta had explained, breezily, apparently, that back in the day he’d had just one meeting on the Epstein case. He’d cut the non-prosecution deal with one of Epstein’s attorneys because he had “been told” to back off, that Epstein was above his pay grade. “I was told Epstein ‘belonged to intelligence’ and to leave it alone,” he told his interviewers in the Trump transition, who evidently thought that was a sufficient answer and went ahead and hired Acosta. (The Labor Department had no comment when asked about this.)

Okay, all that is hearsay. Nonetheless, it clearly provides the basis for a congressional investigation.

All that a congressional committee has to do is subpoena Acosta and ask he if actually made that statement. If he acknowledges that he did, then he can be asked who said it to him and whether that was what motivated him to give Epstein the sweetheart deal.

Then, a subpoena could issue to the person who made that statement to Epstein. When that person arrives to testify, he could be asked about the source of his information. The investigation could then proceed accordingly.

Moreover, the director of the CIA could be summoned to testify as to whether Epstein was a CIA asset, operative, or agent. If Epstein did fall into one of those categories, it is certainly possible that the CIA director would lie about it, just as CIA Director Richard Helms lied to Congress back in the 1970s when he was asked about CIA involvement in Chilean regime-change operations. Nonetheless, he would at least know that he would be subject to a perjury indictment if it were later discovered that he had lied about Epstein’s involvement in the CIA.

Moreover, the CIA could be subpoenaed to produce all of its files and records relating to Epstein, which might indicate Epstein’s possible involvement with foreign intelligence agencies, such as the Mossad.

cia logoWhy would the CIA, Mossad, or other intelligence agency have been involved with Epstein and why would an intelligence agency have gone to bat for him in a federal criminal prosecution for sex trafficking? That’s something an investigation would be intended to answer.

Of course, the press could continue investigating whether Acosta actually did make that statement and, if so, whether it was true. But the ability of the press to get to the truth is limited given its inability to force people to testify under oath and then have them prosecuted for perjury if they lie. A congressional committee could both subpoena people to testify under oath and have them indicted for perjury if they lie.

Given the possibility of corruption in the federal judiciary at the hands of the CIA or other intelligence agency, the American people are entitled to such an investigation. If sex offenders are being accorded favorable treatment in the federal criminal justice system simply because they happen to work for the CIA or some other intelligence agency, then what does that say for the entire federal criminal justice system?

If Epstein did have a relationship with the CIA or other intelligence agency, then, unfortunately, there are only two chances that Congress would initiate an investigation into the matter: slim and none. That’s because an intelligence agency that is powerful enough to corrupt the judicial branch of the federal government is sufficiently powerful to do the same to the legislative branch.

Far from being the work of a single intelligence agency or a single country, the power structure revealed by this network connected to Epstein is nothing less than a criminal enterprise that transcends nationality and is willing to use and abuse children in the pursuit of ever more power, wealth and control. Existing for decades and willing to use any means necessary to cover its tracks, this criminal racket has become so integrated into the levers of power, in the United States and well beyond, that it is truly too big to fail.

Aug. 20

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: I was wrong about Trump. Here’s why, Anthony Scaramucci, Aug. 20, 2019 (print ed.). Anthony Scaramucci, below at left, is managing partner of SkyBridge Capital, a global alternative investments firm, and served as White House communications director.

anthony scaramucci salt conference 2016 croppedPresident Trump’s online insults directed at me on Monday were predictable after I publicly said that he’s unfit for office. The tenor of his abuse only reinforces my thinking: I can no longer in good conscience support the president’s reelection.

This isn’t a Road to Damascus moment; my concerns have been building publicly for a while. And I’m not seeking absolution. I just want to be part of the solution. The negatives of Trump’s demagoguery now clearly outweigh the positives of his leadership, and it is imperative that Americans unite to prevent him from serving another four years in office.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump postpones Denmark trip after prime minister declines to sell him Greenland, Felicia Sonmez, Anne Gearan and Damian Paletta, Aug. 20, 2019. The announcement suggests that, despite the president’s denials, the central purpose of his trip had been discussion of a U.S. purchase of the massive, glaciered island, which holds increasing strategic value as melting sea ice opens new parts of the Arctic to shipping and resource extraction.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoPresident Trump on Tuesday abruptly called off a trip to Denmark, announcing in a tweet that he was postponing the visit because the country’s leader was not interested in selling him Greenland.

The episode was a rare window into secret White House national security planning, albeit with a Trumpian dealmaker’s twist and an element of the surreal.

Trump touts his real estate background as a primary job qualification, promising voters he can negotiate better than his predecessors and spot a good deal. But the notion of buying a part of another country was widely met with surprise and bafflement when news broke last week of Trump’s interest in the island.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Something is rotten with the state of Trump and Denmark, Daniel Cotter, Aug. 20, 2019. Donald Trump expressed interest in buying Greenland. He supposedly stated, “Essentially, it’s a large real estate deal.” Sadly, for Trump, he was told “no” – by a woman.

bill palmer report logo headerDenmark Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen called Trump’s comments an “absurd discussion” and made it clear the country is not for sale. Fredriksen also made it clear that Greenland is an independent entity and isn’t on the market, supporting Greenland Premier Kim Kielsen, stating: “Greenland will not be sold. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland is Greenlandic. I persistently hope that this is not something that is seriously meant. … I totally agree with [Greenland Premier] Kim Kielsen that, of course, Greenland is not for sale.”

Trump had planned a meeting with Denmark but abruptly cancelled it after Frederiksen made her comments. Trump tweeted: “Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time. The Prime Minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct. I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future!”

Something is rotten in the state of treatment of Denmark by Trump. Denmark is an important NATO ally to the United States, including in Afghanistan, where it has sent troops to dangerous places and suffered 43 casualties to date. This appears to be one more step for Trump to break up NATO and do the bidding of his boss, Vladimir Putin, and also a sign of the small mindedness of the president, throwing a temper tantrum and giving up an opportunity to sit down with a real friend in the world.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump again signals a retreat on gun control, reverting to remarks that mirror NRA views, Josh Dawsey and David Nakamura, Aug. 20, 2019 (print ed.). After two recent mass shootings, President Trump said “there is a great appetite” for tightening background checks. But advisers warned him there is little support for action on gun control.

President Trump appears to be backing away from potential support for gun background check legislation, according to White House aides, congressional leaders and gun advocates, dimming prospects that Washington will approve significant new gun measures in the wake of mass shootings that left 31 dead.

nra logo CustomImmediately after the carnage in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, Trump said “there is a great appetite” for tightening background checks on people who buy firearms. But in recent days, Trump has focused in public remarks on the need to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill while emphasizing that the nation already has “very strong background checks right now” — positions that hew more closely to the views of the National Rifle Association.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House officials eyeing payroll tax cut in effort to reverse weakening economy, Damian Paletta, Aug. 20, 2019 (print ed.). The discussions of a temporary cut reveal growing concerns about the economy among President Trump’s top aides.

• The Trump economy vs. the Obama economy, in 15 charts

Mueller Report: Analysis 

robert mueller screenshot washington post

Just Security, Expert Summaries of Mueller Report: A Collection, Kate Brannen, George T. Conway III, Jennifer Daskal, Kristen Eichensehr, Joshua Geltzer, Ryan Goodman, Elie Honig, Harry Litman, Renato Mariotti, Barbara McQuade, Asha Rangappa, Mimi Rocah, Paul Seamus Ryan, Rita Siemion, Joyce Vance and Andy Wright, Aug. 20, 2019.

Table of Contents

Introduction
Ryan Goodman, Co-Editor-in-Chief, Just Security

Volume I

1. The Special Counsel’s Investigation
Joshua Geltzer

2. Legal Standards and Evidentiary Considerations
Asha Rangappa

3. Russian “Active Measures” Social Media Campaign and Criminal Charges against 13 Russian Nationals and 3 Russian Entities
Kristen Eichensehr

4. Russian Hacking and Dumping Operations and Criminal Charges against 12 Russian Military Intelligence Officials
Jennifer Daskal

5. Trump Campaign Interest in Hacked Materials
Joshua Geltzer

6. Links and Contacts with Russia: Michael Cohen and Trump Tower Moscow
Kate Brannen

7. Links and Contacts with Russia: George Papadopoulos
Kate Brannen

8. Links and Contacts with Russia: Carter Page
Kate Brannen

9. Links and Contacts with Russia: Trump Tower June 2016 Meeting
Kate Brannen and Ryan Goodman

10. Links and Contacts with Russia: Paul Manafort
Rita Siemion

11. Links and Contacts with Russia: Michael Flynn
Barbara McQuade

12. Links and Contacts with Russia, Additional Individuals
Asha Rangappa

13. Charging Decisions: The Foreign Agent Registration Act
Jennifer Daskal

14. Charging Decisions: Accepting Information from Foreign Officials (campaign finance law)
Paul Seamus Ryan

15. Charging Decisions: False Statements and Obstruction of the Investigation
Barbara McQuade

Volume II

1. Setting the Stage: Investigation of a Sitting President and Overarching Factual Issues
Ryan Goodman

2. Legal Framework for Obstruction of Justice: Elements and Case Law
Asha Rangappa

3. Trump’s Response to Reports of Russian Support
Joshua Geltzer

4. Incident One: Shielding Flynn
Mimi Rocah

5. Incident Two: Pressuring FBI Director Comey and the Intelligence Chiefs
Barbara McQuade

6. Incident Three: Firing FBI Director Comey
Mimi Rocah

7. Incident Four: Efforts to Remove Special Counsel Mueller
Renato Mariotti

8. Incident Five: Efforts to Curtail the Special Counsel Investigation
Barbara McQuade

9. Incident Six: Efforts to Prevent Disclosure of Emails about the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower Meeting with Russians
Andy Wright

10. Incident Seven: Efforts to Have Attorney General Sessions Take Over the Investigation
Andy Wright

11. Incident Eight: Ordering White House Counsel McGahn to Deny that the President Tried to Fire the Special Counsel
Joyce Vance

12. Incident Nine: Conduct Toward Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort
Elie Honig

13. Incident Ten: Conduct Toward Michael Cohen
Elie Honig

14. Prebuttal I: Response to Possible Statutory Defenses
Joshua Geltzer

15. Prebuttal II: Response to Possible Constitutional Defenses
Harry Litman

Epilogue
George T. Conway III

Appendix: Additional Writings by Our Experts

Another Impeachment Opinion

Unz Review, Opinion: Impeachment Time, Philip Giraldi, Aug. 20, 2019.  No more excuses for a train-wreck foreign policy. It is astonishing to observe some Americans twisting themselves into pretzels so they can continue to make excuses to explain the bizarre behavior of President Donald Trump on the world stage. The line most commonly heard is that he has “kept us out of new wars.” The reality is somewhat different. He has kept us in old wars in Afghanistan and Syria that he could have ended while also needlessly ratcheting up tension with countries like Russia, Venezuela, Iran and China that could easily escalate into armed conflict.

The situation with Moscow is particularly dangerous as President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly warned that his country’s defense doctrine includes going nuclear if there is an attack on Russia by a superior force.

But the most frightening aspect of the current situation is the feeling that the man whose finger is on America’s nuclear trigger is not quite sane. The steady stream of insulting and vulgar tweets that seem to serve as a substitute for more substantial mental activity reveals a man who is profoundly ignorant, completely narcissistic and hopelessly insecure.

To say the least, Trump is not presidential. He is not even rational except in a conniving, manipulative fashion intended to embarrass his adversaries and place them on the defensive. And his enemies list appears to include all Americans who are not “with him.”

The Constitution of the United States in Articles I and II details the procedure for impeachment by the Senate of a president who commits “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” I believe that threshold has finally been crossed. It was crossed last Thursday when President Trump telephoned either Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or some other senior Israeli government official before, one hour later, tweeting the following: “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Representative [Ilhan] Omar and Representative [Rashida] Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel and all Jewish people. And there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!”

To put it in simplest terms, President Trump is conniving with a foreign government headed by a war criminal to block the entry of and also demonize two congresswomen whose political views differ from his own. He is endangering the women, who have already received death threats, by expanding on the lies that are being circulated about them due to their criticism of Israel’s appalling human rights record.

U.S. Police Brutality

eric garner daniel pantaleo july 17 2014 screengrab via ny daily news

Eric Garner, center, is arrested by New York police, with officer Daniel Pantaleo (obscured at rear) administering a banned chokehold before a squad officers threw Garner to the ground as he called out "I can't breathe" before his death on July 17, 2014 (Video screengrab via New York Daily News). The death helped prompt the "Black Lives Matter" movement.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: A Measure of Justice for Eric Garner, and for Daniel Pantaleo, Editorial Board, Aug. 20, 2019. The police commissioner sent a valuable message by firing the New York City officer who put Mr. Garner in a chokehold that turned fatal.

As he announced that he was firing the police officer who had put Eric Garner in the chokehold that led to his death, New York City’s police commissioner, James O’Neill, sent the country’s largest police force a message: You may not think I’m on your side, but I am.

As a former beat officer, Mr. O’Neill said the decision to fire Officer Daniel Pantaleo was difficult. “I’ve been a cop a long time,” he said at a midday news conference at Police Headquarters. “And if I was still a cop, I’d probably be mad at me — ‘You’re not looking out for us.’ But I am.”

james oneill 2016 cropped nypd uniformedIt was a powerful message from one of the most prominent law enforcement officials in the country: Police officers who violate the public trust must be held accountable, for the good of the public and the police force.

Mr. O’Neill (shown in a file photo before his appointment as chief in 2016) said he had determined that Mr. Pantaleo’s actions in the Garner case made him unfit to serve, despite a “commendable service record” of nearly 300 arrests.

Mr. Garner’s fatal encounter with the police on a Staten Island street in 2014 helped to propel the Black Lives Matter movement, in which protesters across the country took to the streets demanding accountability in the killing of black Americans by police officers. New York police officers said Mr. Garner, 43, resisted when they tried to arrest him on charges of selling untaxed cigarettes.

But millions of Americans watched a video of Mr. Garner’s struggle with Mr. Pantaleo and saw something else: an unarmed man struggling for his life. They saw Mr. Pantaleo’s arm wrapped tightly against Mr. Garner’s neck, a chokehold banned by the Police Department in 1993. They heard Mr. Garner’s desperate cry for help as he pleaded, “I can’t breathe,” again and again until falling silent.

Yet, for five years, justice was elusive. In 2014, a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict Mr. Pantaleo on criminal charges. Federal Justice Department officials in the Obama administration weighed civil rights charges for years but left the case mired in indecision. On July 16, one day before the five-year statute of limitations expired, Attorney General William Barr ordered the case be dropped.

New York Post, Fired NYPD cop Daniel Pantaleo to sue commissioner to get his job back, Craig McCarthy, Stephanie Pagones and Bruce Golding, Aug. 19, 2019 (print ed.). Fired cop Daniel Pantaleo will sue the NYPD and Commissioner James O’Neill in a bid to win back his job, his lawyer said Monday.

Pantaleo will file a suit under Article 78 of the state Civil Practice Law and Rules — which allows people to appeal decisions by officials or agencies through the courts on grounds that they were “arbitrary and capricious” — lawyer Stuart London said.

If he wins, Pantaleo would be reinstated to the NYPD and be awarded damages for lost wages. The 13-year veteran was earning a base salary of $85,292 a year when he was suspended without pay on Aug. 2, according to the report from NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado that recommended he be fired over the 2014 death of Eric Garner.

Pantaleo’s dismissal means he won’t collect a pension, but he will be paid back all the contributions he made toward it. London also accused the NYPD of reneging on a verbal deal that he and Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch had struck with the department’s “highest-ranking members” to award Pantaleo a pension in seven years, when he would have been eligible.

Syrian War Breakthrough

SouthFront, Khan Shaykhun Is About To Fall Into Hands Of Syrian Army, Staff report, Aug. 20, 2019 (2:52 min. video above). Militants’ defense in southern Idlib and northern Hama has collapsed. On August 19, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), the Tiger Forces and their allies backed up by Syrian and Russian air power cut off the M5 highway north of Khan Shaykhun capturing several hills and checkpoints in the area. Late on the same day, government forces overrun militants’ fortifications entering the town.

On August 20, units of the SAA and the Tiger Forces continued clashing with militants in the area. The town is about to fall into the syrian flag wavinghands of government forces.

According to pro-government sources, militants are currently fleeing their positions in Kafr Zita, Lataminah, Moerk and nearby areas.

Turkey attempted to prevent this scenario by sending a large military convoy (28 pieces of military equipment, including at least 7 battle tanks) accompanied by Turkish-backed militants towards Khan Shaykhun. The plan was to establish so-turkey flagcalled observation point near Khan Shaykhun and use Turkish troops as human shields to defend militants there. However, the convoy was not able to reach the target.

The Syrian Air Force carried out several strikes on the convoy path near Heish, killing at least one militant field commander and destroying a vehicle armed with machine gun. The Turkish Defense Ministry officially condemned the strikes claiming that 3 civilians were killed and 12 others were injured as a result of the action. Ankara claimed that the convoy was initiated to ensure the safety of Observation Point No. 9, to keep supply routes open and prevent civilian casualties in the region.

Turkey even sent F-16 warplanes to Syrian airspace to defend the convoy, but they were welcomed by Russian fighter jets hovering over the same area and retreated.

Facebook, Twitter Ban China Ads

washington post logoWashington Post, Twitter, Facebook say China used fake accounts to sow discord in Hong Kong, Marie C. Baca and Tony Romm Aug. 20, 2019 (print ed.). Twitter and Facebook said Monday they had taken action against China for using hundreds of fake accounts to sow political discord during the Hong Kong protests, marking the first time the social media giants had identified Beijing directly for spearheading such an operation.

Twitter said it was suspending nearly a thousand Chinese accounts and banning advertising from state-owned media companies, citing a “significant state-backed information operation” related to protests in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, Facebook said it was removing five Facebook accounts, seven pages and three groups after being tipped off to the use of “a number of deceptive tactics, including the use of fake accounts.”

facebook logoThe new takedowns by Facebook and Twitter reflect the extent to which disinformation has become a global scourge, far surpassing the once-secret efforts of Russian agents to stoke social unrest in the United States during the 2016 presidential election. Researchers recently have pointed to similar campaigns linked to Saudi Arabia, Israel, China, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela, efforts aimed at shaping discussions on social media beyond their borders.

Some of this activity has come under the auspices of state-controlled media. In August, for example, Facebook, Google and Twitter each identified a sprawling disinformation campaign originating out of Iran that posted content — and in some cases, purchased ads — in a bid to amplify accounts with ties to state news organizations.

Facebook said that the pages it removed had about 15,500 accounts following one or more, while 2,200 accounts joined at least one of the groups. The company said its investigation had found “links to individuals associated with the Chinese government.” twitter bird CustomThough Facebook is not considering a ban on advertising from state-sponsored media, the company said it is working on additional transparency measures.

Twitter said that the new advertising policy released Monday was something that had been previously discussed internally. The company said in its blog post that state-backed news media accounts “will be free to continue to use Twitter to engage in public conversation,” just not its advertising products.

U.S. 2020 Politics

tulsi gabbard june 26 2019 dem debate

Washington Examiner, Can you hear Tulsi Gabbard now, Kamala Harris? Becket Adams, Aug. 20, 2019. How the mighty have fallen. Sen. Kamala Harris last month dismissed Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s criticisms of her record as a corrupt law enforcement official, pointing smugly to the disparity between her and the Hawaiian congresswoman’s 2020 Democratic primary polling numbers.

However, a survey released this week by CNN shows Harris’ support among potential Democratic voters has plummeted from 17% in June to a measly 5%. In contrast, Gabbard (shown during the June debate) has seen her admittedly poor numbers improve slightly, clocking in at 2% in August, up from 1% in June.

kamala harris debate june 27 2019 fileSure, Harris is still polling ahead of Gabbard, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average, but it counts for something that of the two candidates, only the congresswoman has seen her numbers improve since the last Democratic debate. And considering that the California senator is now only two points ahead of Gabbard in the new CNN survey, perhaps now she can respond to the congresswoman’s criticisms.

As of this writing, Harris, right, who was a pitiless, overzealous law enforcement official when she served as district attorney of San Francisco and later as California’s attorney general, has yet to respond to Gabbard’s broadside on her record, which came during the second night of the second round of Democratic primary debates.

democratic donkey logo“There are too many examples to cite but she put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana,” the congresswoman said. “She blocked evidence — she blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the courts forced her to do so. She kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California.“

Gabbard added, “And she fought to keep [the] bail system in place that impacts poor people in the worst kind of way.”

Harris responded with a canned line about how she is “proud of that work” she did as a prosecutor in California.

Gabbard kept at it, saying, “The bottom line is, Sen. Harris, when you were in a position to make a difference and an impact in these people’s lives, you did not. And worse yet, in the case of those who were on death row, innocent people, you actually blocked evidence from being revealed that would have freed them until you were forced to do so.”

She added, “There is no excuse for that, and the people who suffered under your reign as prosecutor owe — you owe them an apology.”

After the debate, as Harris tried to spin the attack in a positive light, she chose simply to brush off Gabbard’s criticisms, suggesting that it is not worth it to respond to such a poorly polling candidate.

“[T]his is going to sound immodest, but I'm obviously a top-tier candidate, and so I did expect that I would be on the stage and take hits tonight because there are a lot of people that are trying to make the stage for the next debate,” Harris told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

The senator added, “Especially when some people are at zero or 1%, whatever she might be at. So I did expect that I might take hits tonight. … So, you know, I'm prepared to move on.”

New Twitter Controls

george orwell war is peace freedom is slavery ignorance is strength george orwell 22 12 12

SouthFront, Twitter Moves To Ban Adverts From ‘State-Controlled Media,’ Determined By US-Government-Funded NGO Freedom House and Co., Staff report, Aug. 20, 2019. On August 19th, Twitter announced that it would ban advertisements from “state-controlled media,” in a blog post. Twitter's announcement was:

twitter bird CustomToday, we are updating our advertising policies with respect to state media. Going forward, we will not accept advertising from state-controlled news media entities. Any affected accounts will be free to continue to use Twitter to engage in public conversation, just not our advertising products.

This is a global approach and will be enforced across our entire business.

Why are we doing this? We want to protect healthy discourse and open conversation. To that end, we believe that there is a difference between engaging in conversation with accounts you choose to follow and the content you see from advertisers in your Twitter experience which may be from accounts you're not currently following. We have policies for both but we have higher standards for our advertisers.

This policy will not apply to taxpayer-funded entities, including independent public broadcasters.

How will we define state-controlled media in this context?

This policy will apply to news media entities that are either financially or editorially controlled by the state. It has been informed by established academic and civil society leaders in this space. Sources include Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, Freedom House, the Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy Index, the European Journalism Centre’s Media Landscapes Report, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and UNESCO's framework to assess media development and independence.

We will be making policy determinations on the basis of critical issues of media freedom and independence, such as control of editorial content, financial ownership, influence or interference over broadcasters, editors, and journalists, direct and indirect exertion of political pressure, and/or control over the production and distribution process.

This policy will not apply to entities that are solely dedicated to entertainment, sports, and travel content. However, if the content is mixed with news, it will be prohibited.

Next steps: We will be notifying directly affected entities in the coming days. They will have 30 days to offboard from our advertising products, after which we will stringently enforce these policies. In the meantime, no new campaigns will be allowed and we will enforce our policies rigorously. Affected media entities are free to continue to use their Twitter account(s) to organically participate in public conversation, as long as they are in compliance with the Twitter Rules.

Amin, Russian Air Force unleashes large attack on ISIS in eastern Syria, Staff report, Aug. 20, 2019. The Russian Air Force has unleashed a heavy assault on a number of Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh) hideouts and gathering points in Syria’s Deir Ezzor Governorate this afternoon.

According to a military source in the Homs Governorate, the Russian Air Force launched several strikes in southwestern Deir Ezzor, killing and wounding many Islamic State terrorists in the process.

The source added that the Russian airstrikes primarily targeted the Islamic State sleeper cells that were launching constant ambushes against the Syrian Arab Army between the cities of Palmyra and Deir Ezzor.

U.S. Politicswayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: The 2020 election foreign-based propaganda war has commenced, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 20, 2019 (subscription required). Just as in the 2016 and 2018 elections, far-right email is being disseminated throughout the web from foreign-based “boiler rooms.” In some cases, the email is disguised as health-related links to websites. Upon clicking on the links, email recipients are treated to outrageous and inflammatory “fake news” items.

Epstein Death / 'Pseudo Debate'

Consortium News, Opinion, The Pseudo Debate Over Jeffrey Epstein’s Suicide, Edward Curtin, right, Aug. 20, 2019. Death, sex, power, edward curtinintrigue, murder, suicide — these are the staples of the 19th century penny press, mass media and the CIA.

When phrases such as “the deep state” and “conspiracy theory” become staples of both the corporate mainstream media and the alternative press, we know the realities behind these phrases have outlasted their usefulness for the ruling elites who control the United States and for their critics, each of whom uses them refutably or corroboratively. These phrases are bandied about so often that they have become hackneyed and inane.

The debate over whether Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide or not is a pseudo-debate meant to keep people spinning their wheels over nothing. It attracts attention and will do so for many days to come.

It’s akin to asking who pulled the trigger that killed President John Kennedy. That’s a debate that was intended to go nowhere, as it has, after it became apparent that Lee Harvey Oswald surely did not kill JFK.

Kennedy’s murder in broad daylight in public view is the paradigmatic event of modern times. It is obvious to anyone who gives minimal study to the issue that it was organized and carried out by elements within the national security state, notably the CIA. Their message was meant to be unequivocal and clear: We can kill him and we can kill you; we are in full control; beware. Then they went on to kill others, including RFK and MLK. It takes little intelligence to see this obvious fact, unless you wish not to or are totally lost in the neighborhood of make-believe.

What is important in the Epstein case is the deep back story, a tale that goes back decades and is explored by Whitney Webb in a series of fine articles for the Mint Press.

Read her articles and you will see how Epstein is just the current manifestation of the sordid history of the American marriage between various factions of the American ruling elites, whose business is sexual exploitation as a fringe benefit of being willing members of the economic and military exploitation of the world. A marriage of spies, mafia, intelligence agencies, sexual perverts, foreign governments and American traitors who will stop at nothing to advance their interests.

Media News: The Epoch Times

NBC News, Trump, Investigation: QAnon and an impending judgment day: Behind the Facebook-fueled rise of The Epoch Times, Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins, Aug. 20, 2019. Started almost two decades ago with a stated mission to “provide information to nbc news logoChinese communities to help immigrants assimilate into American society,” The Epoch Times now wields one of the biggest social media followings of any news outlet.

By the numbers, there is no bigger advocate of President Donald Trump on Facebook than The Epoch Times.

epoch timesThe small New York-based nonprofit news outlet has spent more than $1.5 million on about 11,000 pro-Trump advertisements in the last six months, according to data from Facebook’s advertising archive — more than any organization outside of the Trump campaign itself, and more than most Democratic presidential candidates have spent on their own campaigns.

Those video ads — in which unidentified spokespeople thumb through a newspaper to praise Trump, peddle conspiracy theories about the “Deep State,” and criticize “fake news” media — strike a familiar tone in the online conservative news ecosystem. The Epoch Times looks like many of the conservative outlets that have gained followings in recent years.

But it isn’t.

Behind the scenes, the media outlet’s ownership and operation is closely tied to Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual community with the stated goal of taking down China’s government.

It’s that motivation that helped drive the organization toward Trump, according to interviews with former Epoch Times staffers, a move that has been both lucrative and beneficial for its message.

Former practitioners of Falun Gong told NBC News that believers think the world is headed toward a judgment day, where those labeled “communists” will be sent to a kind of hell, and those sympathetic to the spiritual community will be spared. Trump is viewed as a key ally in the anti-communist fight, former Epoch Times employees said.

djt portrait dod dominique pineiroIn part because of that unusual background, The Epoch Times has had trouble finding a foothold in the broader conservative movement. That seems to be changing.

Before 2016, The Epoch Times generally stayed out of U.S. politics, unless they dovetailed with Chinese interests. The publication’s recent ad strategy, coupled with a broader campaign to embrace social media and conservative U.S. politics — Trump in particular — has doubled The Epoch Times’ revenue, according to the organization’s tax filings, and pushed it to greater prominence in the broader conservative media world.

Started almost two decades ago as a free newspaper and website with a stated mission to “provide information to Chinese communities to help immigrants assimilate into American society,” The Epoch Times now wields one of the biggest social media followings of any news outlet.

In April, at the height of its ad spending, videos from the Epoch Media Group, which includes The Epoch Times and digital video outlet New Tang Dynasty, or NTD, combined for around 3 billion views on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, ranking 11th among all video creators across platforms and outranking every other traditional news publisher, according to data from the social media analytics company Tubular.

That engagement has made The Epoch Times a favorite of the Trump family and a key component of the president’s re-election campaign. The president’s Facebook page has posted Epoch Times content at least half a dozen times this year— with several articles written by members of the Trump campaign. Donald Trump Jr. has tweeted several of their stories, too.

li hongzhi bbc coat tieIn 2009, the founder and leader of Falun Gong, Li Hongzhi, came to speak at The Epoch Times’ offices in Manhattan. Li came with a clear directive for the Falun Gong volunteers who comprised the company’s staff: “Become regular media.”

It has also invited scrutiny of the spiritual leader’s more unconventional ideas. Among them, Li (shown in different portraits at right and below left) has railed against what he called the wickedness of homosexuality, feminism and popular music while holding that he is a god-like figure who can levitate and walk through walls.

Li has also taught that sickness is a symptom of evil that can only be truly cured with meditation and devotion, and that aliens from undiscovered dimensions have invaded the minds and bodies of humans, bringing corruption and inventions such as computers and airplanes. The Chinese government has used these controversial teachings to label Falun Gong a cult. Falun Gong has denied the government's characterization.

li hongzhi robeA representative for Li declined an interview request. Li lives among hundreds of his followers near Dragon Springs, a 400-acre compound in upstate New York that houses temples, private schools and quarters where performers for the organization’s dance troupe, Shen Yun, live and rehearse, according to four former compound residents and former Falun Gong practitioners who spoke to NBC News.

While The Epoch Times usually straddles the line between an ultraconservative news outlet and a conspiracy warehouse, some popular online shows created by Epoch Times employees and produced by NTD cross the line completely, and spread far and wide.

One such show is "Edge of Wonder," a verified YouTube channel that releases new NTD-produced videos twice every week and now has more than 33 million views. In addition to claims that alien abductions are real and the drug epidemic was engineered by the “deep state,” the channel pushes the QAnon conspiracy theory, which falsely posits that the same “Spygate” cabal is a front for a global pedophile ring being taken down by Trump.

One QAnon video, titled “#QANON - 7 facts the MEDIA (MSM) Won’t Admit” has almost 1 million views on YouTube. Other videos in the channel’s QAnon playlist, which include videos about 9/11 conspiracy theories and one titled “13 BLOODLINES & their Diabolical End Game,” gained hundreds of thousands of views each.

Travis View, a researcher and podcaster who studies the QAnon movement, said The Epoch Times has sanitized the conspiracy theory by pushing Spygate, which drops the wildest and more prurient details of QAnon while retaining its conspiratorial elements.

But The Epoch Times has itself published several credulous reports on QAnon and for years, the webseries hosts Rob Counts and Benjamin Chasteen were employed as the company’s creative director and chief photo editor, respectively. In August 2018, six months after the creation of "Edge of Wonder," Counts tweeted that he still worked for Epoch Times. Counts and Chasteen did not respond to an email seeking clarification on their roles.

Meanwhile The Epoch Times has promoted "Edge of Wonder" content in dozens of Facebook posts, still visible on its official Facebook page. That page is currently topped with a pinned ad for its Trump coverage that reads, “Where can you get real news that doesn't push any hidden agendas?”

falun gong nazi symbol demonstration

Minghui.org: “Chinese Tourists Need to See This” – 6,000 Falun Gong Practitioners Gather in Taipei for Large-scale Pattern Formation, Zheng Yuyan, Nov. 28, 2016. Visitors to Taipei's landmark Liberty Square were met with a magnificent sight this past weekend. Six thousand Falun Gong practitioners, who had come to Taipei for the annual Falun Gong Cultivation Experience Conference, were peacefully sitting together to form the pattern of the Falun Gong emblem and Chinese written characters.

The Falun pattern measured about 1,000 square meters. The “卍” pattern in the middle is an ancient symbol from Buddhism, and the yin-yang pattern is a symbol from the Daoist School. The Falun thus symbolizes the combination of both the Buddhist and Daoist Schools.

Aug. 19

Epstein Death Blame

nbc news logoNBC News, AG Barr removes acting Bureau of Prisons chief in wake of Epstein suicide, Adam Edelman, Aug. 19, 2019. Attorney william barr new oGeneral William Barr, right, on Monday said he removed the acting director of the federal Bureau of Prisons from his job in the wake of Jeffrey Epstein's suicide in a federal jail in Manhattan earlier this month where he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

Hugh Hurwitz, below at left, had been the agency's acting director. Barr said Hurwitz would remain in the Bureau of Prisons as the assistant director of department's Reentry Services Division.

Epstein, 66, was found dead by apparent suicide August 10 in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.

hugh hurwitz headshotHe was not on suicide watch at the time of his death, multiple people familiar with the investigation told NBC News. He had apparently hanged himself, and was found unresponsive at around 6:30 a.m. ET.

The center's warden, Lamine N'Diaye, has been temporarily reassigned, and the two guards assigned to watch Epstein have been placed on leave.

The FBI and the Department of Justice are investigating how Epstein was able to take his own life while he was being held. Barr has said "serious irregularities" had been found at the lock up.

Barr, in a statement Monday, said he’d appointed Dr. Kathleen Hawk Sawyer as the bureau's new director and Dr. Thomas R. Kane as the its new deputy director. The statement makes no reference to Epstein.

"I am confident Dr. Hawk Sawyer and Dr. Kane will lead BOP with the competence, skill and resourcefulness they have embodied throughout their government careers."

Sawyer served as the bureau's chief from 1992 to 2003. She was appointed when Barr was the attorney general under President George H.W. Bush. Kane worked in several senior roles in the agency from 1977 to 2018.

Lawmakers and Trump administration officials have expressed outrage that that Epstein could have possibly killed himself under the noses of jailers. The disgraced financier was taken off suicide watch even though he had reportedly tried to take his own life last month, officials have said.

See related story: MSNBC, House Judiciary asks if White House linked to Epstein decisions, Lawrence O’Donnell discusses with hugh hurwitz headshotMimi Rocah and John Heilemann, Aug. 12, 2019 (18:34 min. video). The top Democrat and top Republican on the Judiciary Committee want the acting director of the Bureau of Prisons, Hugh Hurwitz, right, to explain in great detail how it was possible that Jeffrey Epstein's death happened and was anyone at DOJ or Trump admin in the know?

Epstein's Wall Street Enabling Culture

Wall Street On Parade, Jeffrey Epstein Learned His Sexual Depravity from Wall Street; Then Took It to the Next Level, Pam Martens and Russ Martens, Aug. 19, 2019. From 1976 to 1981, Jeffrey Epstein, right, worked for the Wall Street investment bank, Bear Stearns.

Bear Stearns collapsed in the early days of the 2008 financial crisis and was purchased by JPMorgan Chase. One of the last acts of Bear Stearns’ CEO, Jimmy Cayne, was to make a $2 million payment to a woman who charged that the legendary Chairman of Bear Stearns, Ace Greenberg, had engaged in “inappropriate touching.” The young woman was said to have had a witness to her charges.

Jeffrey Epstein Harvard University In a 2017 report by the New York Times, a former Managing Director of Bear Stearns, Maureen Sherry, reported that “…it was mostly the same men who preyed on young women.” In a 2016 report by Maureen Callahan at the New York Post, a former Bear Stearns’ employee reports that men at Bear Stearns were “getting bl*w jobs in front of staff – that happened all the time.” Claims that men at Bear were demanding sexual favors from female colleagues and getting away with it date all the way back to the 1980s.

As more allegations emerge daily into the sexual assault horrors of Jeffrey Epstein and his band of enablers, a profile is emerging that bears a striking resemblance to how Wall Street has allowed its highest-producing brokers to behave toward vulnerable young female employees for decades. In both situations, there are the enablers; in both situations there is a failed justice system and powerful lawyers cutting deals; in both situations there are hundreds of different females asserting the same type of claims over a long period of time with no governmental authority stopping the abuse; and in both situations, powerful men who were an important cog in Wall Street’s insatiable quest for profits were allowed to walk away from a multitude of credible sexual assault allegations.

Jeffrey Epstein’s major divergence from the sexual assaults by Wall Street brokers’ is that he preyed on underage girls. It is notable, however, that many Wall Street firms hire young women just out of high school to be “trained” to work in their branch offices. The sexual grooming is not as overt as in the Jeffrey Epstein cases, where the young girls were hired to give a massage and then told, over time, the massage had to be administered by them naked; and then, after more time, upped to a full-scale sexual assault. But young women in these Wall Street offices are sent a clear message by their Human Resources departments that they need to “get along” with those big producing brokers who generate outsized profits for the firm.

Walk into any of the Wall Street retail brokerage offices that dot the landscape in every major town and city across America and you will see glass-windowed offices filled with white male brokers and pretty, young female sales assistants (a/k/a client service associates) sitting in a low-wage, subservient position at a desk directly outside that office.

Subservience to that broker is ingrained in the following ways: the sales assistant’s performance is officially evaluated by that broker and becomes a written, permanent part of her employment file; the broker, if he is a big producer for the firm, can have the sales assistant fired over any flimsy, trumped-up claim; and, importantly, most Wall Street firms pay these women low wages, leaving it to the broker they work for to give the woman a percentage of his commissions if he finds her “performance” to be to his liking.

All that Wall Street would have to do to alter these sexual and power dynamics is to pay these women a good salary and take the broker’s additional compensation out of the equation. The fact that Wall Street doesn’t alter this dynamic suggests that the industry likes its hunting band to hone their skills on the vulnerable prey in the office as a form of target practice.

Just as Epstein was able to keep his abuse hidden for decades by employing a roster of expensive lawyers who knew how to work the system, Wall Street has all of the largest law firms in America at its beck and call. These law firms have systematically convinced the U.S. Supreme Court and Appellate Courts around the country that Wall Street should be allowed to run its own private justice system; that it should be allowed to make its employees sign a waiver giving up their rights to access the nation’s courts and use Wall Street’s rigged kangaroo court system instead.

Most Americans would agree that Wall Street is the most corrupt industry in America. And yet, the most corrupt industry is the only industry that universally requires both employees and customers to waive their rights to use the nation’s courts to settle claims and, instead, must use the Wall Street-created mandatory arbitration system which has none of the procedural protections of a court of law.

Editor’s Note: The excerpt above is from a much longer article. Pam Martens, the co-author of the above article and Editor of Wall Street On Parade, worked for two major Wall Street firms for 21 years. During that time, from 1996 through 2001, Martens challenged Wall Street’s mandatory arbitration system and the sexual assaults and sexual harassment of women facilitated under that system in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and at the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in a case titled "Martens v Smith Barney," in which she originally served as lead plaintiff.

The settlement fashioned by plaintiffs’ attorneys and Paul Weiss was deemed so conflicted by Martens that she withdrew from the settlement and never profited from the settlement or any subsequent payment from the parties. Her original co-plaintiff, Judy Mione, joined her in withdrawing from the settlement for the same reasons. Martens also appeared in the ABC 20/20 program referenced above.

Turk-Syrian Battle Looming?

turkish convoy into syria aug 19 2019 almohrar media

Turkish convoy into Syria on Aug. 19, 2019 (AlMohrar Media)

SouthFront, Turkish Military Convoy Hurrying Up To Rescue Militants In Khan Shaykhun. Syria Responds With Warning Airstrikes, Levent Kemal, Aug. 19, 2019. On August 19, a large Turkish military convoy (at least 28 pieces of military equipment including battle tanks) entered the territory of Syria from Turkey. The convoy entered the town of Saraqeb in eastern Idlib and moved towards the town turkey flagof Khan Shaykhun in southern Idlib.

Khan Shaykhun is the key stronghold of radical militants (Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its allies) in the area. After the recent gains by the Syrian Army, militants’ defense in the town appeared to be on the verge of collapse.

The Turkish miltiary is reportedly aiming to set up an ”observation post’ in Khan Shaykhun thus preventing the Syrian military from liberating the town from terrorists.

The Syrian Arab Air Force carried out warning strikes near the Turkish military convoy moving towards Khan Shaykhun. According to pro-militant sources, at least one militant field commander accompanying the convoy was killed.

syria southfront southern idlib map aug 19 2019

Related story: SouthFront, Syrian Army Launches Decisive Push To Capture Chunk Of M5 Highway North Of Khan Shaykhun, Staff and wire reports, Aug. 19, 2019. As a large Turkish military convoy is moving to rescue militants in Khan Shaykhun, the syrian flag wavingSyrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies launched a push to capture a chunk of the M5 highway north of the militant stronghold.

According to pro-government sources, the SAA is currently storming the northern entrance to Khan Shaykhun.  Meanwhile, the Russian Aerospace Forces continued bombing militant targets across southern Idlib.

Veterans Today, Commentary: Turkish Convoy Destroyed Taking Arms to al Qaeda, Staff and wire reports, Aug. 19, 2019. The Turkish Defense Ministry has condemned Syria for attacking its convoy in the Syrian province of Idlib. Damascus said the vehicles were transporting weapons and ammo to “terrorist forces.”

Ankara said three people were killed and 12 others injured on Monday after the Syrian airstrike, which targeted a Turkish military convoy travelling between two observation points in northern Syria. The statement said all victims were civilians, without explaining how they were involved in a military operation.

Many months ago, an agreement was reached to open the road through Khan Sheik Houn from Latakia to Aleppo and for al Qaeda to remove all heavy weapons from the region.

Instead, Turkey and the U.S. have continued to ship heavy weapons to al Qaeda and nothing has happened. Days ago, Syria began its promised advance on this area based on the gross violation of the terms of this agreement. In doing so, a Turkish convoy was destroyed bringing, now wait for it, heavy weapons to terrorists who were engaging the Syrian Arab Army.

Justice Integrity Project Editor's Note: The Syrian air strikes appeared to be of limited scope and not a full bombardment of the convoy.

Major Events Planned For 9/11 Truth Research

ae 911 truth nyc graphic Custom

Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911 Truth), Truth, Science, Truth, and Justice 18 Years Later: September 2019 Schedule of Events, Staff report, Aug. 19, 2019. This ae 911 truth blue horizontal logoSeptember promises to be a momentous period for AE911Truth and the millions of people who have been fighting for a real investigation into the events of 9/11 over the past 18 years.

In the first week of September, AE911Truth will participate in releasing the draft report of the groundbreaking World Trade Center Building 7 Study by researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF).

The release of this report will include a livestreamed presentation by the study’s principal investigator, Dr. Leroy Hulsey, at UAF’s Schaible Auditorium on September 3, 2019, followed by a second presentation from Dr. Hulsey at the UC Berkeley Faculty Club on September 5, 2019. The draft report will be published that same week at http://ine.uaf.edu/wtc7 — as well as at AE911Truth.org — and will be open for public comment for a two-month period ending November 1, 2019.

Then it’s onward to our events in New York and Washington, D.C. On September 7, 2019, AE911Truth founder Richard Gage will speak at an event hosted by the Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry at the All Souls Church in New York City. Gage will be joined by 9/11 family member Bob McIlvaine, Franklin Square Fire Commissioner Christopher Gioia, NSA whistleblower William Binney, media critic Mark Crispin Miller, members of the Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, and other invited speakers.

Four days later, on September 11, 2019, AE911Truth will hold a livestreamed news conference at the National Press Club, featuring Franklin Square Fire Commissioners Christopher Gioia and Joseph Torregrossa as well as Bob and Helen McIlvaine (parents of 9/11 victim Bobby McIlvaine), Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry President David Meiswinkle, and Mr. Gage.

After the news conference, we will head to Capitol Hill for meetings with several U.S. representatives and their staffs. We will also deliver to every member of Congress a packet containing a letter from the Franklin Square fire commissioners, our educational materials, and a copy of the Bobby McIlvaine World Trade Center Investigation Act.

Please join us online or in person for this series of significant events and political action activities. Help is especially needed at the U.S. Capitol delivering our materials to all 535 members of Congress in one afternoon!

We look forward to seeing you and making this 9/11 anniversary a major turning point in the pursuit of truth and justice.

Schedule of Events

A Structural Reevaluation of the Collapse of World Trade Center 7 (Fairbanks)

A Presentation by Civil Engineering Professor J. Leroy Hulsey, Ph.D., P.E.

September 3, 2019
6:00 PM Alaska Time / 10:00 PM Eastern
Schaible Auditorium
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Livestream: https://media.uaf.edu
View Poster
A Structural Reevaluation of the Collapse of World Trade Center 7 (Berkeley)

A Presentation by Civil Engineering Professor J. Leroy Hulsey, Ph.D., P.E.

September 5, 2019
5:00 PM Pacific
The Faculty Club at UC Berkeley
*Seating priority given to UC Berkeley students and faculty as well as AE911Truth petition signers.
View Poster
Front and Center: 9/11 Grand Jury Investigation (New York)

Hosted by the Lawyers' Committee for 9/11 Inquiry and featuring AE911Truth Founder Richard Gage, AIA, 9/11 family member Bob McIlvaine, Franklin Square Fire Commissioner Christopher Gioia, NSA whistleblower William Binney, media critic Mark Crispin Miller, and more.

September 7, 2019
3:00 PM to 7:00 PM
The Unitarian Church of All Souls
1157 Lexington Avenue at East 80th Street
http://LCfor911.org
View Poster
News Conference: First Responders Urge Congress to Reopen 9/11 Investigation (Washington, D.C.)

A news conference featuring Franklin Square Fire Commissioners Christopher Gioia and Joseph Torregrossa, 9/11 family members Bob and Helen McIlvaine, Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry President David Meiswinkle, and Richard Gage, AIA.

September 11, 2019
10:00 AM
The National Press Club
4th Estate Room
529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor
Washington, DC 20045
Livestream: Visit AE911Truth.org at the scheduled time.
DC Political Action Afternoon (Washington, D.C.)

Delivering our educational materials and the Bobby McIlvaine Act to every member of Congress.

September 11, 2019
1:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Meet at the steps of the West Front Side of the U.S. Capitol at 1:00 PM.
At 1:30 PM we’ll fan out in groups to all six congressional office buildings.
Other Events Where We'll Be
9/11 Perspectives: Public Master Class on the Events of September 11, 2001 (Zurich)

Featuring (via live feed) Richard Gage, AIA, Dr. Niels Harrit, Mick Harrison, and more.

September 11, 2019
1:00 PM to 7:30 PM Central European Time
Stauffacherstrasse 60, 8004 Zurich
https://11september.eu/911perspectives
View Poster
9/11 Truth Update Presentation (Washington, D.C.)

Dinner from 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM followed by presentation and Q&A with Richard Gage and Fire Commissioner Christopher Gioia.

September 11, 2019
6:30 PM
Ler Mirch Indian Restaurant
1736 Connecticut Avenue
Washington, D.C. Near Circle Metro

Afghan Carnage

afghanistan map world

washington post logoWashington Post, Islamic State claims suicide attack on Kabul wedding that killed 63, Pamela Constable and Sharif Hassan​, Aug. 19, 2019 (print ed.). The attack goes to the heart of the Afghan capital’s entertainment scene, which revolves around massive weddings.

At least 63 people died in Afghanistan’s capital when a suicide bomber linked to the Islamic State blew himself up in a crowded wedding hall in one of the most devastating attacks on civilians in the long conflict.

The Islamic State’s local affiliate issued a statement online Sunday claiming responsibility for the attack. The group has made a brutal name for itself for focusing its attacks on civilians.

The awful scale of Saturday night’s attack on the wedding only became apparent in the morning when the Interior Ministry said that at least 63 had been killed and more than 180 wounded.

See related story: New York Times, Peace Road Map for Afghanistan Will Let Taliban Negotiate Women’s Rights, Lara Jakes, Aug. 17, 2019 (print ed.).

Changing Views On U.S. Business?

washington post logoWashington Post, CEO group says maximizing shareholder profits can no longer can be primary goal, Jena McGregor, Aug. 19, 2019. The Business Roundtable — whose members are CEOs of America’s largest companies — says corporations must balance profits with the needs of employees, customers and other stakeholders. One leader is JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, shown at right.

jamie dimonThe new statement, released Monday, suggests balancing the needs of a company’s various constituencies and comes at a time of widening income inequality, rising expectations from the public for corporate behavior and proposals from Democratic lawmakers that aim to revamp or even restructure American capitalism.

• Perspective: Top CEOs are reclaiming legitimacy by advancing a vision of what’s good for America

News Media

 washington post logomargaret sullivan 2015 photoWashington Post, Opinion: When local news goes away, citizens suffer. Gannett's megamerger will probably just inflict more pain, Margaret Sullivan, right, Aug. 19, 2019 (print ed.). Deeper job cuts, almost inevitable, would strike another blow to an industry in crisis.

gatehouse media logoThe recently announced $1.4 billion merger with another giant newspaper chain, GateHouse Media, is not good news for journalists at Gannett’s nationally circulated flagship, USA Today, or its prominent regional papers including the Detroit Free Press, the gannett logo CustomIndianapolis Star, the Des Moines Register, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Arizona Republic.

GateHouse’s approach to its newspapers in recent years has made Gannett look almost munificent by contrast. And although Gannett’s name will be attached to the new company, GateHouse’s business practices seem more likely to prevail.

Mass Shootings

washington post logonra logo CustomWashington Post, As mass shootings rise, experts say high-capacity magazines should be the focus, Griff Witte, Aug. 19, 2019 (print ed.). Limiting the number of bullets in gun magazines won’t stop mass attacks, but it could bring down their death tolls, experts say. The odds that Congress or state legislatures will act still appear relatively remote.

U.S. Politics / Media

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Trump's neo-fascist street gangs intimidating America's cities, Wayne Madsen (left, author of 16 books, wayne madsen may 29 2015 croppedincluding Trump's Bananas Republic), Aug. 19, 2019 (subscription required). This editor’s cooperative association with wayne madsen trumps bananas coverAustin, Texas-based Alex Jones and his Infowars organization was a lesson in modern political provocation designed to disrupt constitutional order in the United States.

It also provided a unique window on his activities.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s goons begin eating each other alive as Trump circles the drain, Bill Palmer, Aug. 19, 2019. With Donald Trump’s 2020 poll numbers getting uglier by the day, we’re now seeing his own movement turn on itself in striking, and in some ways darkly humorous, fashion.

bill palmer report logo headerFor instance, this past week we’ve seen former Trump White House adviser Anthony Scaramucci finally come out swinging against Donald Trump. Why now, more than two year after Trump fired him? Maybe the Mooch had an epiphany.

geraldoOr maybe he’s doing it for the same reason Fox News goon Geraldo Rivera (right) is finally turning sharply against Trump: now that Trump is in freefall, there’s a career opportunity for those on the far right who kick Trump on his way down.

anthony scaramucci salt conference 2016 croppedThe whole thing has, of course, become a farce. Over the weekend, even as Geraldo was attacking Trump for being horrible, and Scaramucci (left) was attacking Trump for being horrible, Geraldo was also attacking Scaramucci for not having come out against Trump sooner. '

It’s as if only one of them is going to land the gig of “Trump’s chief critic on the right” and they’re trying to race each other to see who gets it. This all came even as racist game show host Chuck Woolery was attacking Geraldo for attacking racist reality show host Donald Trump.

ny times logoNew York Times, With Troop Buildup, China Sends a Stark Warning to Hong Kong, Steven Lee Myers and Javier C. Hernández, Aug. 19, 2019. By massing troops within view of the city, which has been convulsed by protests, China delivered a strong message that the use of force remained an option.

UK Prediction On Brexit Woes

washington post logoWashington Post, British government braces for economic, social chaos in event of a ‘no-deal Brexit,’ leaked memo shows, Karla Adam and Hannah Knowles, Aug. 19, 2019 (print ed.). An increasingly likely “no-deal” Brexit could wreak havoc on Britain’s economy, infrastructure and social fabric, the government says in classified documents leaked to a British newspaper.

United Kingdom flagThe costs of food and social care would rise, while medicines could be delayed, the Sunday Times reported. Border delays would interrupt fuel supplies. Ports would suffer severe disruptions and recover only partially after three months, leaving traffic at 50 to 70 percent of the current flow.

Those are some of the effects predicted by “Operation Yellowhammer,” which the newspaper said was compiled this month by Britain’s Cabinet Office and available to those with “need to know” security clearances.

#MeToo Modeling Scandal

washington post logoWashington Post, As with Epstein’s accusers, justice has been elusive for women allegedly abused by his modeling agent friend, Beth Reinhard, Rosalind S. Helderman and Jenn Abelson, Aug. 19, 2019 (print ed.). Jean-Luc Brunel, who has been the subject of allegations for decades, had befriended financier Jeffrey Epstein.

jean luc brunelThe teenage American models who arrived in Paris, far from their parents and hometowns, said the bargain was clear: have sex with their prominent French agent and his wealthy, middle-aged friends or risk a fleeting shot at a modeling career.

Nineteen-year-old Courtney Powell was among a handful of young models who took the bold step of publicly accusing Jean-Luc Brunel of sexual misconduct — ranging from groping and other sexual advances to drugging women’s drinks and rape — in the hope that he would be stopped.

But their allegations, nationally televised on CBS’s “60 Minutes” in 1988 and echoed later in a book and court records, sparked no apparent investigation. Nor did they prevent Brunel from continuing to exploit and assault others, according to two other former models recently interviewed by The Washington Post.

Brunel went on to befriend a wealthy, jet-setting American financier named Jeffrey Epstein, who allegedly abused dozens of minors; one, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, has said in court documents that Epstein pressured her to have sex with Brunel when she was a teenager.

Brunel’s accusers are calling for law enforcement to investigate the 72-year-old modeling scout and whether he helped Epstein procure girls.

More Epstein Scandal

washington post logoWashington Post, British paper publishes footage of Prince Andrew at Epstein’s NYC home, Karla Adam​, Aug. 19, 2019. The Mail on Sunday video shows Prince Andrew waving goodbye to a young woman outside sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s Manhattan home in 2010.

Buckingham Palace said that Prince Andrew is “appalled” over the Jeffrey Epstein’s sex abuse claims, following the publication of images of the Duke of York at Epstein’s New York home in 2010.

United Kingdom flagThe palace statement came hours after the Mail on Sunday published footage of Andrew at Epstein’s Manhattan residence in which he is seen looking out from a large door and waving a cheerful goodbye to a young woman.

“The Duke of York has been appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein's alleged crimes,” read the statement emailed to The Washington Post on Monday. “His Royal Highness deplores the exploitation of any human being and the suggestion he would condone, participate in or encourage any such behaviour is abhorrent.”

The video footage was reportedly taken in 2010, when Epstein was a registered sex offender who had served time in jail. A Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell, 2001picture of Andrew and Epstein strolling in Central Park from around the same time surfaced in 2011, prompting questions over Andrew’s judgment.

Shortly after, he quit his unpaid job as a trade envoy.

Prince Andrew is shown separately at left in a 2001 photo in London with Virginia Roberts Giuffre, center, who has alleged in a lawsuit that she was recruited at age 17 to become a sex slave by Epstein's friend Ghislaine Maxwell (at right) after being a towel-girl at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club.

Epstein's Final Affairs

New York Post, Jeffrey Epstein signed will just two days before suicide, Priscilla DeGregory and Kate Sheehy, Aug. 19, 2019. Jeffrey Epstein signed his will just two days before he hanged himself in his Manhattan jail cell — leaving behind a nearly $600 million fortune, according to court papers exclusively obtained by The Post on Monday.

The court document, filed in the US Virgin Islands, where the convicted sex molester owned two isles — including one that locals dubbed “Pedophile Island’’ — was filed Aug. 8.

Jeffrey Epstein Harvard University The 66-year-old former hedge-fund manager, right, was worth $577,672,654, or about $18 million more than he previously stated in court papers while futilely trying to land bail on federal sex-trafficking charges, the new documents show.

He put all of his holdings in a trust, called The 1953 Trust, after the year he was born.

“It’s done that way for privacy reasons,’’ a city estate lawyer told The Post. “It’s pretty boiler-plate. It’s what we call a ‘pour-over will,’ which means everything pours over to a trust.

“What is more unusual is the date, the fact that all of this was done just days before he died,’’ said the source, who asked to remain anonymous.

“He could have thought, ‘I need to get my ducks in a row.’ ”

The 21-page filing includes a copy of Epstein’s death certificate from Aug. 11, the day after his suicide — and lists “Immediate Cause: Pending Further Study.’’

The city Medical Examiner’s Office has since ruled that Epstein killed himself Aug. 10.

Manhattan federal prosecutors Monday asked the judge overseeing his criminal case to officially toss it in light of his death.

“Because Jeffrey Epstein, the defendant, died while this case was pending, and therefore before a final judgement was issued, the indictment must be dismissed under the rule of abatement,” the assistant US attorneys wrote judge Richard Berman, who was overseeing the case.

The federal prosecutors added to the judge that they have notified all of Epstein’s “identified victims” and repeated previous statements from US Attorney Geoffrey Berman that his office isn’t done looking into the alleged sex-trafficking ring that serviced Epstein and his buddies.

Epstein’s will was filed with court officials in St. Thomas.

One of the two Brooklyn lawyers listed as witnessing its signing is Mariel A. Colon Miro — an attorney for drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo’’ Guzman. Miro was once accused of flouting court rules by passing a phone to Chapo’s wife so the spouse could communicate with her imprisoned husband. Miro has denied the claim.

The Post’s legal expert said Epstein’ s lawyers likely filed his will in the Virgin Islands to try to keep it “more private, because that is not where people would look.’’ In New York, “There is always a risk that it would be leaked.”

There are no details on the trust’s beneficiaries. The court papers note that Epstein’s only potential heir was his brother, Mark Epstein. But the will adds that Mark only had a claim to his brother’s extensive holdings if Jeffrey hadn’t left behind the document.

Jeffrey Epstein had been sued by a multitude of sex accusers before his death, and the lawsuits are still piling on. The new legal documents note, “Petitioners are investigating potential debts and claims of the Estate and at this time they are unknown.’’

Epstein’s list of holdings in the new documents mainly mirrors what his lawyers previously filed when seeking bail for him, although they include two additions.

One lists “Aviation Assets, Automobiles and Boats,’’ a collection worth $18,551,700, and another involving Epstein’s famous, eccentric, sex-drenched art collection — “fine arts, antiques, collectibles, valuables,’’ according to the papers — which still needs to be appraised.

While the will is new, it is not clear whether it superceded another.

Its executors are two longtime Epstein employees: lawyer Darren Indyke and businessman Richard Kahn. A third man, Boris Nikolic, is listed as an alternate. The executors will receive $250,000 apiece for their work on the estate, in addition to “reasonable’’ expenses related to the job, the papers say.

New York Post, Jeffrey Epstein was sent three 12-year-old French girls as ‘birthday gift,’ Emily Saul and Yaron Steinbuch, Aug. 19, 2019. Jeffrey Epstein once had three 12-year-old girls from poor families flown in from France as a sick birthday present for himself, according to newly unearthed court documents.

Virginia Giuffre — who has claimed Epstein and his gal pal Ghislaine Maxwell coerced her into being a “sex slave” when she was 15 — said in court papers that the girls who were flown in were molested by the financier and returned to France the following day.

“The worst one that I heard from his own mouth was this pretty 12 year old girls he had flown in for his birthday,” she said, according to the document.

“It was a surprise birthday gift from one of his friends and they were from France. I did see them, I did meet them,” she said.

jean luc brunelShe said they were a gift from Epstein’s acquaintance Jean-Luc Brunel, right, a model scout, according to the Daily Mail.

“Jeffrey bragged afterwards after he met them that they were 12-year-olds and flown over from France because they’re really poor over there, and their parents needed the money or whatever the case is and they were absolutely free to stay and flew out.”

The allegations were revealed in 2015 court papers, as part of a 2008 civil lawsuit filed by two Epstein accusers against the US following a plea deal that they argued violated the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act.

The case is still ongoing, and federal Judge Kenneth Mara recently ruled that Florida federal prosecutors acted illegally when they failed to inform Epstein’s underage victims of the wrist-slap deal — which included a non-prosecution agreement that shielded the financier’s alleged co-conspirators.

Epstein, who served just 13 months in prison after pleading guilty to having sex with a minor, hanged himself in a Manhattan jail cell Aug. 10 while being held on federal sex-trafficking charges, authorities said.

Giuffre said Epstein had described to her how the girls had massaged him and performed oral sex, according to the Daily Mail.

virginia roberts giuffres st tropaz naomi cambpell“He went on to tell me how Brunel bought them in Paris from their parents, offering them the usual sums of money, visas, and modeling career prospects,” she said, according to the news outlet. She is shown as a teen in a photo at St. Tropaz with models and Maxwell.

“Laughing the whole way through, Jeffrey thought it was absolutely brilliant how easily money seduced all walks of life, nothing or no one that couldn’t be bought.”

The same civil suit filed against the Miami US Attorney’s Office alleged that young girls from South America and Eastern Europe also were recruited for sex with Epstein.

The multimillionaire financier invested $1 million to help launch Brunel’s Miami-based modeling firm MC2 in return for a “supply of girls on tap,” according to the lawsuit.

The company has denied any connection to Epstein’s crimes and previously said Brunel no longer actively worked with the firm.

virginia robertsGiuffre, 35, shown in a more recent photo, who lives in Australia, also has claimed that she was forced to have sex with Britain’s Prince Andrew when she was 17.

Maxwell hasn’t been charged with any crimes, but has been accused in civil suits of having recruited underage victims for Epstein — and of engaging in three-way sex with him and various girls.

She has denied Giuffre’s allegations as “malicious lies.” Brunel also denied being involved “directly or indirectly” in Epstein’s crimes. “I strongly deny having committed any illicit act or any wrongdoing in the course of my work as a scouter or model agencies manager,” he told The Guardian.

Prince Andrew also has strongly denied claims of any impropriety, with a rep saying that “any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue.” Buckingham Palace also said in a statement: “The Duke of York has been appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes.

New York Post, Ghislaine Maxwell’s sister spotted packing bags near socialite’s rumored home, Jackie Salo, Aug. 19, 2019. The sister of Jeffrey Epstein’s gal pal Ghislaine Maxwell was spotted packing up bags near the Massachusetts mansion where the socialite had been rumored to be staying.

Christine Maxwell, who is one of Ghislaine’s older sisters, was photographed on Saturday at a hotel just a few miles from the Manchester-by-the-Sea property owned by Scott Borgerson, a tech CEO romantically linked to the alleged madam, the Telegraph reported.

The 69-year-old sibling — who lives with her husband, Roger Malina, in Dallas, Texas — appeared to be putting several bags into a vehicle with help from a friend, the outlet reported.

The quiet coastal town buzzed with rumors that Ghislaine has been living with Borgerson since 2016. But a neighbor told The Post that the 57-year-old socialite fled the town last month. Borgerson denied he was dating Ghislaine.

Ghislaine Maxwell lived in this home in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, with a friend, neighbors said.

Ghislaine, who is the daughter of disgraced publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, has long been at the center of the Epstein scandal. She was accused in recently unsealed court papers of providing underage women for Epstein and engaging in threesomes with the financier.

Aug. 18

Trump White House / Immigration

stephen miller white house screenshot

washington post logoWashington Post, The Ghostwriter: How Stephen Miller scripts Trump’s immigration policy (Part of series on Trump Cabinet 'All the best people'), Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey, Aug. 18, 2019 (print ed.). With unswerving loyalty, the 33-year-old senior adviser has singular control of an issue central to Donald Trump's presidency and is writing the main plot.

At defining moments in his career, Trump has benefited from clever writers and brand-makers who helped craft his public image. A co-author made him a best-selling business guru with The Art of the Deal. The producers of “The Apprentice” cast him as a donald trump apprentice black and whitereality television star, right.

Now it is Miller, Trump’s 33-year-old senior adviser, who is writing the central plot of his presidency.

Two and a half years into Trump’s term, Miller’s power in the White House is at its peak, according to top administration officials. As one of Trump’s longest-tenured and most trusted aides, his influence in the West Wing is rivaled only by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, they say.

Miller, a former press aide to then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), was among the first staffers on Trump’s presidential campaign. He has since provided Trump with unswerving loyalty and fierce devotion, translating the president’s frustrations and grievances into exalted language and policy prescriptions.

republican elephant logoIn Trump, Miller has found a champion for his ideological goals. He is the singular force behind the Trump administration’s immigration agenda — making him a crucial White House figure on an issue central to the president’s reelection campaign.

ICE logoIn an interview Friday with The Washington Post, Miller aggressively minimized his role in the administration and would accept no credit for its direction. He said he sees himself as a conservative populist, someone who pushed his liberal high school in California to have the Pledge of Allegiance recited on a daily basis, who says he sees U.S. citizenship “as something sacred” and who regards immigration as a defining element of the nation’s future.

Epstein Death

jeffrey epstein complex dcma federal court protester

A protester against sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein holds his  photo aloft before his death in his cell

ny times logoNew York Times, Inmate 76318-054: The Last Days of Jeffrey Epstein, Ali Watkins, Danielle Ivory and Christina Goldbaum, Aug. 18, 2019 (print ed.). The notorious jail in Manhattan was a sharp departure from Mr. Epstein’s formerly gilded life. Here’s what happened inside.

Jeffrey Epstein Harvard University Jeffrey Epstein, right, inmate 76318-054, hated his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. It was cramped, dank and infested with vermin, so Mr. Epstein, long accustomed to using his wealth to play by his own rules, devised a way out.

He paid numerous lawyers to visit the jail for as many as 12 hours a day, giving him the right to see them in a private meeting room. Mr. Epstein was there for so long that he often appeared bored, sitting in silence with his lawyers, according to people who saw the meetings. While they were there, he and his entourage regularly emptied the two vending machines of drinks and snacks.

“It was shift work, all designed by someone who had infinite resources to try and get as much comfort as possible,” said a lawyer who was often in the jail visiting clients.

Outside the meeting room, Mr. Epstein mounted a strategy to avoid being preyed upon by other inmates: He deposited money in their commissary accounts, according to a consultant who is often in the jail and speaks regularly with inmates there.
But in his final days, Mr. Epstein’s efforts to lessen the misery of incarceration seemed to be faltering.

He was seldom bathing, his hair and beard were unkempt and he was sleeping on the floor of his cell instead of on his bunk bed, according to people at the jail.

Still, he convinced the jail’s leadership that he was not a threat to himself, even though an inquiry was already underway into whether he had tried to commit suicide on July 23. The federal jail was so poorly managed and chronically short-staffed that workers who were not correctional officers were regularly pressed into guard duty.

Politics / Privacy

ny times logoNew York Times, Personal Data About Small-Donor Democrats Is All Over the Internet, David M. Primo (a political scientist at the University of Rochester), Aug. 18, 2019. The blame lies not with Russian hackers but with the presidential candidates and the federal government.

dnc square logoOne of the largest single disclosures of small-donor information in American history took place on July 31. On that day, the names, addresses, occupations and employers of at least 2.3 million people who contributed money to 2020 Democratic presidential candidates were listed on the internet for all to see. The culprits were not Russian hackers or disgruntled tech workers, but the Democratic presidential candidates and the federal government.

How can this be? The answer, as with all things about campaign finance, is convoluted — but also troubling, as it highlights how transparency in campaign finance can go too far.

Leading (and not so leading) Democratic presidential candidates use ActBlue, an organization that helps Democrats in local, state and federal races raise money with a state-of-the-art online fund-raising infrastructure. ActBlue eliminates the need for campaigns to worry about the technical side of fund-raising and makes it feasible for candidates to raise contributions from donors giving as little as a dollar. (Small donations really matter in the 2020 campaign, as the Democratic Party’s new debate qualification rules include having a sufficient number of unique campaign donors.)

Each time an individual contributes to a presidential candidate using its site, ActBlue collects the donor’s information and then turns around and reports it to the Federal Election Commission — which then puts this information on the internet. Give just one dollar to a candidate through ActBlue and your donation becomes public for the world to see.

FBI Reveals UK Elite Deviance

The Sun, Lord Mountbatten's 'lust for young boys' exposed in FBI files, Tom Parry, Aug. 18, 2019. The decorated war hero was under US surveillance for more than three decades. Lord Mountbatten (right, a onetime chief of NATO shown in a 1976 before his 1979 death from an IRA bomb) was “a homosexual with a perversion for young boys,” according to newly released FBI files.

lord louis mountbatten 1976 photo by allan warren via wThe valued mentor to great-nephew Prince Charles (and was said to have counselled him on his love life) was under US surveillance for more than three decades. And one source described the Earl and wife Edwina as “persons of extremely low morals” – with him being “an unfit man to direct any sort of military operations” because of his sexual tastes.

The files emerged after historian Andrew Lownie used freedom of information laws while researching his new book about the couple, The Mountbattens: Their Lives & Loves.

It follows years of speculation over the private life of Mountbatten, who once said he and Edwina “spent all our married lives getting into other people’s beds”.

In Mr Lownie’s book, Ron Perks, who was the Earl’s driver in Malta in 1948, breaks his silence to claim one of his favourite places was the Red House near Rabat, “an upmarket gay brothel used by naval officers”.

And Anthony Daly, a rent boy to the rich and famous in the 1970s, claims he was told “Mountbatten had something of a fetish for uniforms — handsome young men in ­military uniforms and beautiful boys in school uniform”.

The first FBI files on the Earl date to February 1944 – soon after he was made supreme allied commander in south-east Asia during the Second World War.

After the war, he was the last viceroy of India, then chief of defence until 1965. He was killed in an IRA bomb attack in 1979.

Homosexual acts were banned here until 1967 and it is believed many FBI memos on Mountbatten’s sexuality have been edited or destroyed.

But one file references a 1944 interview with Elizabeth de la Poer Beresford, Baroness Decies. The memo says: “She states that in these circles Lord Louis Mountbatten and his wife are considered persons of extremely low morals. “She stated Lord Louis Mountbatten was known to be a homosexual with a perversion for young boys. In Lady Decies’ opinion he is an unfit man to direct any sort of military operations because of this condition. She stated further his wife was considered equally erratic.”

Aug. 17

Climate Change

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Iceland’s Prime Minister: ‘The Ice Is Leaving,’ Katrin Jakobsdottir (prime minister of Iceland), Aug. 17, 2019. Climate change is melting glaciers worldwide. Only we can stop it.

Afghan Peace Deal?

ny times logoNew York Times, Peace Road Map for Afghanistan Will Let Taliban Negotiate Women’s Rights, Lara Jakes, Aug. 17, 2019 (print ed.). As the Taliban and the United States move toward a preliminary peace agreement, there are growing fears that Afghan women will lose the gains they have made.

The deal is not expected to include specific assurances that women will continue to have equal opportunities, officials said.

Other Global News

ny times logoNew York Times, Four Million Indians in One State Risk Being Denied Citizenship. Most Are Muslims, Jeffrey Gettleman and Hari Kumar, Aug. 17, 2019. The hunt for migrants is unfolding in Assam, a poor, hilly state near the borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh.

india flag mapThe government is pushing a hard-line Hindu nationalist agenda that is aiming to redefine what it means to be Indian. State authorities are rapidly expanding foreigner tribunals and planning to build huge new detention camps. Hundreds of people have been arrested on suspicion of being a foreign migrant — including a Muslim veteran of the Indian Army. Local activists and lawyers say the pain of being left off a preliminary list of citizens and the prospect of being thrown into jail have driven dozens to suicide.

But the governing party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not backing down.

Instead, it is vowing to bring this campaign to force people to prove they are citizens to other parts of India, part of a far-reaching Hindu nationalist program fueled by Mr. Modi’s sweeping re-election victory in May and his stratospheric popularity.

ny times logoNew York Times, Sudan Signs a Power-Sharing Deal After Months of Tumult, Declan Walsh, Aug. 17, 2019. The deal signals an end to eight months of popular protests, the ouster of a dictator and a bloody military-led crackdown.

Sudan’s military and civilian leaders signed a landmark power-sharing deal at a joyous ceremony in the capital, Khartoum, on Saturday, signaling a new chapter in the life of the sprawling African country, which has been rocked by eight months of popular protests, a coup and a bloody military crackdown.

Few Sudanese could have imagined only a year ago that Omar Hassan al-Bashir, their despised ruler of 30 years, would be languishing in Sudan’s most notorious prison awaiting a trial on corruption charges that is expected to start on Monday. Nationwide street celebrations, with music, poetry and fireworks, are expected Saturday night.

Challenging U.S. Supreme Court

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats ignite controversy with brief in gun case before Supreme Court, Robert Barnes​, Aug. 17, 2019 (print ed.). In filing an amicus brief, five Democratic senators questioned whether the high court’s conservative majority is motivated by partisan intent and is in the pocket of the National Rifle Association and the Federalist Society.

supreme court graphicsheldon whitehouseIt is rare that an amicus brief filed in a Supreme Court case is characterized as both a brassy reality check and unprecedented political bullying.

But such is the controversy that Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), left, and four other Democratic senators have ignited with a filing that instructs the Supreme Court to either drop a New York gun case it has accepted for the coming term or face a public reckoning.

“The Supreme Court is not well. And the people know it,” writes Whitehouse, who is listed as the attorney of record on the friend-of-the-court brief. “Perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it be ‘restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.’ ” The phrase is from a poll question with which a majority democratic donkey logoof Americans agreed.

Democratic Sens. Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) Richard J. Durbin (Ill.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) joined the incendiary brief, which questions whether the court’s conservative majority — nominated by three Republican presidents — is motivated by partisan intent and is in the pocket of the National Rifle Association and the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group.

Yemen's Houthis Advance

yemen map middle east

Reuters via New York Times, Yemeni Separatists Relinquish Control of Buildings in Aden, Staff report, Aug. 17, 2019. Southern Yemeni separatists withdrew on Saturday from some government buildings in Aden that they seized last week but held on to military camps that give them control over the city, which is Yemen’s southern port and the interim seat of Yemen’s ousted Saudi-backed government.

The separatists’ takeover of Aden has strained a Saudi-led military coalition formed to confront the Iranian-aligned Houthis, who bombed a Saudi oil facility on Saturday.

A Houthi military spokesman said 10 drones launched toward oil installations at Shaybah in eastern Saudi Arabia constituted the “biggest attack in the depths” of the kingdom.

The conflict is widely seen in the region as a proxy war between Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and its Shiite regional rival, Iran. The Western-backed Sunni Muslim coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognized government of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi after the Houthis ousted him from power in the capital Sana in late 2014.

houthi drones

New drones and missiles displayed in July 2019 by Yemen’s Houthi-allied armed forces

Moon of Alabama, Prediction: Long Range Attack On Saudi Oil Field Ends War On Yemen, B, Aug. 17, 2019. Today, Saudi Arabia finally lost the war on Yemen. It has no defenses against new weapons the Houthis in Yemen acquired. These weapons threaten the Saudis economic lifelines. Today was the decisive attack:

yemen map 6 11 2018Drones launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels attacked a massive oil and gas field deep inside Saudi Arabia’s sprawling desert on Saturday, causing what the kingdom described as a “limited fire” in the second such recent attack on its crucial energy industry.
...
The Saudi acknowledgement of the attack came hours after Yahia Sarie, a military spokesman for the Houthis, issued a video statement claiming the rebels launched 10 bomb-laden drones targeting the field in their “biggest-ever” operation. He threatened more attacks would be coming.

Today's attack is a check mate move against the Saudis.

Shaybah is some 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) from Houthi-controlled territory. There are many more important economic targets within that range: "The field’s distance from rebel-held territory in Yemen demonstrates the range of the Houthis’ drones. U.N. investigators say the Houthis’ new UAV-X drone, found in recent months during the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen, likely has a range of up to 1,500 kilometers (930 miles). That puts Saudi oil fields, an under-construction Emirati nuclear power plant and Dubai’s busy international airport within their range."

mohammad bin salman cropped file smallThe attack conclusively demonstrates that the most important assets of the Saudis are now under threat. This economic threat comes on top of a seven percent budget deficit the IMF predicts for Saudi Arabia. Further Saudi bombing against the Houthi will now have very significant additional cost that might even endanger the viability of the Saudi state. The Houthi have clown prince Mohammad bin Salman, right, by the balls and can squeeze those at will.

The drones and missiles the Houthi use are copies of Iranian designs assembled in Yemen with the help of Hizbullah experts from Lebanon.

Four days ago, a Houthi delegation visited Iran. During the visit Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for the first time publicly admitted that the Houthi have Iran's support: "I declare my support for the resistance of Yemen's believing men and women ... Yemen’s people... will establish a strong government," state TV quoted Khamenei as saying in a meeting with the visiting chief negotiator of the Houthi movement Mohammed Abdul-Salam."

Khamenei, who held talks for the first time in Tehran with a senior Houthi representative, also called for "strong resistance against the Saudi-led plots to divide Yemen", the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

"A unified and coherent Yemen with sovereign integrity should be endorsed. Given Yemen’s religious and ethnic diversity, protecting Yemen’s integrity requires domestic dialogue," he said, TV reported.

The visit in Tehran proved that the Houthi are no longer an unrecognized, isolated movement:

Officials from Iran, Britain, France, Germany, and Italy, as well as Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement, exchanged views about political resolution of the protracted war in the Arabian Peninsula country. The meeting was held at the Iranian Foreign Ministry in Tehran on Saturday with delegations from Iran, Ansarullah and the four European countries in attendance.

The delegates at the meeting explained their respective governments’ views on the developments in Yemen, including political and battlefield developments as well as the humanitarian situation in the country.
...
The delegates stressed the need for an immediate end to the war and described political means as the ultimate solution to the crisis.

The war on Yemen that MbS started in March 2015 long proved to be unwinnable. Now it is definitely lost. Neither the U.S. nor the Europeans will come to the Saudis help. There are no technological means to reasonably protect against such attacks. Poor Yemen defeated rich Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi side will have to agree to political peace negotiations. The Yemeni demand for reparation payments will be eye-watering. But the Saudis will have no alternative but to cough up whatever the Houthi demand.

The UAE was smart to pull out of Yemen during the last months. Its war aim was to gain control of the port of Aden. Its alliance with southern Yemen separatist who now control the city guarantees that. How long they will be able to hold on to it when Khamenei rejects a division of Yemen remains to be seen.

Today's attack has an even larger dimension than marking the end of the war on Yemen. That Iran supplied drones with 1,500 kilometer reach to its allies in Yemen means that its allies in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq have access to similar means.

Israel and Turkey will have to take that into consideration. U.S. bases along the Persian Gulf and in Afghanistan must likewise watch out. Iran has not only ballistic missiles to attack those bases but also drones against which U.S. missile and air defense systems are more or less useless.

It was the U.S. use of stealthy drones against Iran that gave it a chance to capture one and to analyze and clone it. Iran's extensive drone program is indigenous and quite old but it benefited from technology the U.S. unintentionally provided.

All the wars the U.S. and its allies waged in the Middle East, against Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003), Lebanon (2006), Syria (2011), Iraq (2014) and Yemen (2015), ended up with

U.S. 2020 Politics

djt twain quote on fooling people indicter Custom

Tarpley Net, Opinion: Panic Spreads from Wall Street to White House as Signs of Serious Economic Downturn Multiply, Webster G. webster tarpley 2007Tarpley, right, Aug. 17, 2019. Rattled Don Sees Plots Everywhere, but Fails to Plan for Recession.

Argentine Currency Collapses, UK & Germany GDP Falling; CASS Index of North American Freight Volumes Signals Economic Contraction; Asian Air Freight Down 8%; World Economy Groaning Under $250 Trillion in New Speculative Debt Added Since 2008 Crisis by Leveraged Loans and Collateralized Loan Obligations!

Impeachment Summer: 125 House Dems Now Back Ongoing Inquiry; Latest to Join Are Deb Haaland (Albuquerque, New Mexico) and David Price (Chapel Hill, North Carolina); Nadler Committee to End Recess Early to Work on Trump Ouster and Gun Safety

Salon, Analysis: Does anyone understand the 2020 race? This scholar nailed the blue wave — here's her forecast, Paul Rosenberg, Aug. 17, 2019. Rachel Bitecofer predicted last year's midterms with incredible accuracy. Her 2020 forecast is ... not too bad.

In July 2018 the most widely-respected analysts were decidedly uncertain whether the Democrats could retake the House — they were favored, but not by much. On July 6, Cook Political Report, for example, listed 180 seats as "solid," and 21 "likely/leaning" Democratic, plus 24 "toss-ups" — meaning Democrats would have to win toss-ups by more than 2-1 (17 to 7) to take the House.

In mid-August, 538’s first forecast had “only 215 seats rated as favoring Democrats — 'lean Democrat' or stronger — which is fewer than the 218 they need to take the House.” And on August 30, 2018, Sabato's Crystal Ball published a model prediction, based on 3000 simulations, with an average Democratic margin of 7 seats. Editors noted this was close to their own assessment: "Democrats as modest favorites but with Republicans capable of holding on to the majority."

Palmer Report, Opinion: Anthony Scaramucci might actually be right for once, Bill Palmer, Aug. 17, 2019. Now that Donald Trump keeps kicking Anthony Scaramucci, left, while he’s down, Scaramucci has decided to get up off the mat and fight back. He’s calling Trump every name in the book, while asserting that Trump is slipping when it comes to his cognitive abilities.

anthony scaramucci salt conference 2016 croppedTrump’s latest 2020 poll numbers are laughably bad. In fact he’s losing to every viable Democratic nominee by a margin that’s well outside the margin of error, and the polls are never off by that much in a national election (contrary to popular belief, the polls were accurate in 2016 within the margin of error). Trump’s internal polling bill palmer report logo headernumbers are reportedly even uglier for him than the publicly available data.

Anthony Scaramucci is predicting that Donald Trump will drop out of the race by March of 2020 because he’ll take a look at his horrible poll numbers, conclude that he’s going to lose badly, and decide to sidestep the humiliation of getting blown out. The election is still a long way away, but if Trump’s numbers do remain this awful heading into general election season, he won’t have a chance – and he’ll know it.

Epstein Death Follow-up

jeffrey epstein gurney cropped emergency room

ny times logoNew York Times, Jeffrey Epstein Autopsy Results Conclude He Hanged Himself, Ali Watkins and Michael Gold, Aug. 17, 2019 (print ed.). The findings from New York City’s chief medical examiner refute conspiracy theories that Mr. Epstein may have been murdered.

The results came six days after Mr. Epstein (shown on a gurney at a hospital emergency room in a New York Post photo) was found dead in his cell in federal prison in Manhattan, where he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

The New York City medical examiner said on Friday that Jeffrey Epstein’s death in a federal jail cell was a suicide, confirming he had hanged himself.

Mr. Epstein’s death had set off a wave of unfounded conspiracy theories, as people speculated online, without evidence, that he might have been killed to keep him from providing information to prosecutors about others in his social circle, including President Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew of Britain.

barbara sampsonBut the chief medical examiner in New York City, Dr. Barbara Sampson, right, ruled out foul play. She released a terse statement saying that, after an autopsy and a “careful review of all investigative information,” she had determined the cause of Mr. Epstein’s death was “hanging” and the manner was “suicide.”

Three of Mr. Epstein’s lawyers, Martin G. Weinberg, Reid Weingarten and Michael Miller, challenged the findings and vowed to conduct their own investigation.

“We are not satisfied with the conclusions of the medical examiner,” said the lawyers, who had hired a private pathologist to observe the autopsy, in a statement. “We will have a more complete response in the coming days.”

The medical examiner’s determination came six days after Mr. Epstein, 66, was found dead in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, where he was awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges.

Guards on their morning rounds found Mr. Epstein at about 6:30 a.m. last Saturday, prison officials said. He appeared to have tied a bedsheet to the top of a set of bunk beds, then knelt toward the floor with enough force that he broke several bones in his neck, officials said.

His suicide followed an apparent attempt to kill himself in late July, and came 12 days after prison staff had recommended he be removed from suicide watch and returned to the wing in which he had been housed before.

U.S.-Israeli Relations Frayed

washington post logoWashington Post, Fight over denial of entry to 2 lawmakers causes rift between Democrats, Israel, Matt Viser and Rachael Bade, Aug. 17, 2019 (print ed.). For decades, Israel held a special place in American politics, with almost universal support. That has eroded over the past several years but seemed to disintegrate this week in a way that some fear could do irreparable damage.

A politically explosive fight over Israel’s attempt to block two members of Congress from entering the country — at President Trump’s urging — has elevated rifts between it and Democrats who have increasingly started to view the Israeli government and its leader as out of line or, in the eyes of at least two presidential candidates, even racist.

benjamin netanyahu frownThe shift in dialogue has been accelerated by the tight embrace between Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and after a dizzying 48 hours, some Democrats are more openly discussing the unusual step of reconsidering foreign aid to the longtime ally.

The dispute has fractured bipartisan support for Israel and moved debates over it into partisan space more typically home to issues such as abortion, gun control and immigration.

“There is this tectonic shifting of one of the fundamental plates of American politics,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, a liberal pro-Israel group. “This has been a plank of the rule book for 60 years, and things are shifting in a really important way.”

A Pew survey released in April showed that the Israeli government was viewed negatively by 51 percent of Americans, with a sharp division along party lines in which Republicans were positive and Democrats were negative.

“This is a strategic blunder of epic proportions that Netanyahu and his advisers have made, turning Israel into a branch of the Republican Party. This is a tiny little country in a very bad neighborhood that needs all the friends it can get.”

Jews overwhelmingly vote Democratic, with 71 percent in 2016 voting for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and 24 percent voting for Trump, according to exit polls.

rashinda tlaib smileThe situation also has put many Democratic lawmakers in the awkward position of defending colleagues they find politically toxic while rebuking a country they support. It has complicated a months-long effort by congressional Democrats to distance themselves from Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), right, and repair some of the damage flowing from accusations that they were anti-Israel or, in the case of Omar, had made anti-Semitic remarks.

Trump has worked to portray those members of Congress as the face of the Democratic Party. But his extreme action — urging an ally to bar two members of Congress from entering — has forced many Democrats to defend Omar and Tlaib even while making clear that they do not agree with all of their views.

Public Health

washington post logoWashington Post, Mystery lung illness linked to vaping. Officials investigating nearly 100 possible cases, Lena H. Sun and Lindsey Bever, Aug. 17, 2019 (print ed.). State and federal health officials are investigating dozens of cases of illnesses related to vaping in young people across the country.

Aug. 16

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump, banking on strong economy to win reelection, frets over a possible downturn, Philip Rucker, Damian Paletta and Josh Dawsey,  Aug. 16, 2019 (print ed.). Trump warns of market crash if he loses 2020 election: 'No choice but to vote for me.'

Administration officials aren’t preparing for a recession because they don’t expect it, and they worry that planning for one would fuel a negative narrative and cause a crash, said people involved in the discussions.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosMounting signs of global economic distress this week have alarmed President Trump, who is worried that a downturn could imperil his reelection, even as administration officials acknowledge that they have not planned for a possible recession.

djt maga hatTrump is banking on a strong economy to win a second term in 2020, and in recent weeks he has impulsively lashed out at the Federal Reserve, pressured Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to label China a “currency manipulator,” and unexpectedly delayed tariffs on Chinese imports out of fear they could depress holiday retail sales.

Yet despite gyrations in the U.S. stock market and economic slowdowns in other countries, officials in the White House, at the Treasury Department and throughout the administration are planning no new steps to attempt to stave off a recession. Rather, Trump’s economic advisers have been delivering the president upbeat assessments in which they argue that the domestic economy is stronger than many forecasters are making it out to be.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump aides look into U.S. purchasing Greenland after directives from president, Damian Paletta and Colby Itkowitz​, Aug. 16, 2019. The request has bewildered staffers, some of whom continue to believe it isn’t serious. But President Trump has mentioned it for weeks.

President Trump has pushed top aides to investigate whether the U.S. government can purchase the giant ice-smothered island of Greenland, two people with direct knowledge of the directive said.

Palmer Report,  Opinion: Maria Butina scandal takes a surreal new turn, Bill Palmer, Aug. 16, 2019. Russian political operative Maria maria butina headshotButina, left, who buddied up to the Republican Party and the NRA on behalf of the Kremlin in relation to the 2016 election, has already been sentenced to prison. But as part of her cooperation deal, she’s supposed to help take down every fellow criminal she encountered.

bill palmer report logo headerThe trouble: that doesn’t seem to be happening. With each passing day, the media breaks open a new scandal involving the NRA – and that’s only going to get even uglier as the New York Attorney General prepares to depose ousted NRA official Oliver North about the group’s malfeasance. Even as this plays out, there is still no clear resolution to just what Maria Butina and her alleged handler Alexander Torshin were actually plotting with the NRA during the 2016 election cycle.

ellen weintraubFEC Chair Ellen Weintraub, left, wants some answers on this, but she can’t get them. She says the Republicans on the Federal Election Commission are blocking her from formally inquiring with the Department of Justice about the status of the case. In fact, Weintraub is so disturbed by this, she appeared on the Rachel Maddow show tonight to sound the alarm.

nra logo CustomSo now we have Donald Trump’s Department of Justice apparently not bothering to do its job with regard to Maria Butina and the NRA, and we have the GOP-loyal members of the FEC trying to prevent any oversight from taking place. It’s more clear than ever that the Republican Party is trying to protect its NRA puppet masters from being taken down. But the NRA is facing legal trouble on so many fronts, it seems inevitable that it will eventually take a fall.

U.S. Rep. Protests Israeli Ban

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Goal: Divide Democrats and Recruit Jewish Voters for G.O.P., Aug. 16, 2019. President Trump’s strategy puts bipartisan U.S. support for Israel at risk, our reporters write in an analysis. Attacks on two Muslim congresswomen are aimed at painting the Democrats as anti-Israel.

washington post logorashinda tlaib smileWashington Post, Tlaib says she will not go to Israel after country barred, then allowed, her to visit, Ruth Eglash and James McAuley​, Aug. 16, 2019. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) said she would not visit Israel “under these oppressive conditions” even though her humanitarian request to visit her grandmother in the West Bank was approved. It comes a day after Israel had barred Tlaib and another congresswoman from visiting.

ny times logoNew York Times, Israeli Decision on Omar and Tlaib Inflames Politics in Two Countries, Isabel Kershner, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Peter Baker, Aug. 15, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s call to bar the lawmakers was an extraordinary step to influence israel flagan allied nation and punish his political opponents at home. Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, is of Palestinian descent and has spoken often of her grandmother, who lives in the West Bank.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: If You Think Trump Is Helping Israel, You’re a Fool, Thomas L. Friedman, Aug. 16, 2019. By barring Representatives Omar and Tlaib, Netanyahu made the president happy. But he has poisoned relations with America.

I am going to say this as simply and clearly as I can: If you’re an American Jew and you’re planning on voting for Donald Trump because you think he is pro-Israel, you’re a damn fool.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. Trump has said and done many things that are in the interests of the current Israeli government — and have been widely appreciated by the Israeli public. To deny that would be to deny the obvious. But here’s what’s also obvious. Trump’s way of — and motivation for — expressing his affection for Israel is guided by his political desire to improve his re-election chances by depicting the entire Republican Party as pro-Israel and the entire Democratic Party as anti-Israel.

As a result, Trump — with the knowing help of Israel’s current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu — is doing something no American president and Israeli prime minister have done before: They’re making support for Israel a wedge issue in American politics.

republican elephant logoFew things are more dangerous to Israel’s long-term interests than its becoming a partisan matter in America, which is Israel’s vital political, military and economic backer in the world.

Do not be fooled: Netanyahu, through his machinations with Senate Republicans, can get the United States Congress to give him an audience anytime he wants. But Bibi could not speak on any major American college campus today without massive police protection. The protests would be huge.

U.S. Culture / Religion

washington post logoWashington Post, Mormon Church rules out green tea, vaping and drinks ending in ‘-ccino.’ Medical marijuana is okay, though, Marisa Lati, Aug. 16, 2019. Washington Post, The church clarified its interpretation of the Word of Wisdom, its dietary rules meant to keep members from consuming unhealthy substances. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wants to make clear that vaping, green tea and fancy coffee drinks are off limits under the religion’s dietary code meant to keep members from consuming unhealthy substances.

Church leaders on Thursday pointed to a recent article in New Era, the church’s magazine for young people, reminding them that the Word of Wisdom prohibits “hot drinks” — understood to mean tea and coffee — and harmful or habit-forming substances. E-cigarettes are highly addictive, “iced tea is still tea,” and any drink ending in “-ccino” probably has coffee and therefore breaks the rules, the church wrote.

Still, experts and church members said the clarifications raised as many questions as they answered: Why is iced tea off limits if it’s cold? What’s the church’s stance on coffee-flavored desserts? Are drinks with green-tea extract okay?

U.S. Crime, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, A teen walked out with a $2 beer. The store clerk chased him down and shot him to death, Meagan Flynn, Aug. 16, 2019. Seventeen-year-old Dorian Harris was already on his way out the door when the store clerk, Anwar Ghazali, grabbed his gun, pointing it over the counter with two hands.

Harris had spent about seven seconds inside the store. The Top Stop Shop in Memphis was busy that night, about 10 p.m. on March 29, 2018, and when the unarmed teenager waltzed through the door, he didn’t waste any time being sneaky. Dressed in purple pants and a hoodie, he grabbed a $2 beer from the shelf in plain view of Ghazali, turned and left, as the clerk raced around the counter.

Ghazali burst toward the door past bewildered customers milling near the counter. Beverly Loverson was one. She saw Harris and the beer, and Ghazali and the gun, “and as he passed me,” she remembered while testifying on the stand this week, “I said, ‘Don’t kill him. Don’t kill him. It’s just a beer.’”

Epstein Probes

washington post logoWashington Post, Alleged co-conspirator of Epstein lived a low-key life in a tony seaside town, neighbors say, Frances Stead Sellers, Aug. 16, 2019. The whereabouts of Ghislaine Maxwell, whose name emerged in connection with a previous case against the financier, have been a mystery for quite some time.

Counter-Punch, Investigative Commentary: La Danse Mossad: Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein, Jennifer Matsui, Aug. 16, 2019. Media tycoon and former Labour MP Robert Maxwell (father of Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s partner in crime) was given a state funeral in Jerusalem after *accidentally* falling off his yacht – the unluckily named “Lady Ghislaine”. Later it was revealed Maxwell Sr was a Mossad asset who used his vast network of connections and publishing platforms to run editorial interference over his purchased assets to influence enemies and friends alike, ensuring their fealty to the foreign government that had enlisted him for its espionage work.

His tabloid empire was the piss-colored propaganda organ of the interests he served, overseeing its rapid growth and tentacled reach across the globe. More ominously, he was behind the spy agency’s successful attempt to install a trapdoor in software intended for government use, allowing the Israelis a direct pipeline into a vast network of computers installed with undectable malware.

At the time of his death, the disgraced magnate was under investigation for raiding his companies’ pension funds to cover the losses incurred from his multiple and reckless takeovers, and finance a luxury lifestyle he enjoyed sharing with high-profile pals like Henry Kissinger and Barbara Walters. Curiously, many of these fossilized specimens from Robert Maxwell’s roster of friends from the Reagan era would circle around Epstein, most notably Donald Trump whose Mar-a-Lago resort would later become a recruiting center for employer Epstein’s underage “massage therapists”.

Fast forward a couple of decades since the days a casino mogul was gobbling down canapés with the old guard denizens of the ‘swamp.’ Notice a similar, if not identical MO in both Maxwell and Epstein’s role in procuring technology for the Israelis, who in turn sold it with undisclosed add-ons, providing an open window into its users’ databases.

Like his predecessor, Epstein had a financial stake in a startup (headed by former Israeli Defense Minister and later Prime Minister Ehud Barak) connected to Israel’s defense industry that provides infrastructure for emergency services as a call handling platform. Considering the company’s connection to military intelligence, it wouldn’t be a stretch to speculate on some of this software’s other ‘special’ features. A variation of the early technology that Maxwell was able to procure for his Israeli bosses was later sold to the Saudis, who leveraged its sophisticated tracking features to assassinate Jamal Khashoggi.

Epstein, like Maxwell, was laying the groundwork for Israeli espionage activities through his interests in companies with a political agenda concealed in products intended for international export. If true, the playboy philanthropist feted and flattered his high profile friends to ensnare them as complicit partners in what amounts to the legal definition of treason. Epstein’s covert activities have undiminished real world consequences for anyone on Israel’s international radar, especially those challenging the status quo policies in place that prioritize “The Jewish State’s” political and financial objectives over actual justice and global stability.

If you have ever asked yourself why Israel’s war crimes and settlement expansion go unchallenged by US lawmakers, consider the career destroying consequences contained within those dossiers compiled by the braintrust behind Epstein’s ’suicide.’ “We’ll trade you one US Embassy in Jerusalem for 10 minutes of hidden camera footage of you . . . let’s say ‘enjoying’ a rolled up Forbes magazine.”

Were the surveillance apparatuses installed throughout Epstein’s properties merely a voyeur’s tools, or did he use them to leverage the moral failings of his former friends for purposes that might have risked exposure of more than the nether regions of wealthy pedo-punters? Considering his connections to Israeli defense industries and his own Achilles penis that required, by his own admission, “three orgasms a day,” the answer points to an unslakable addiction that dovetailed conveniently with his state-sponsored sex crimes.

Jennifer Matsui is a writer living in Tokyo and a columnist for the print edition of CounterPunch magazine.

Aug. 15

jeffrey epstein sex offender

washington post logoWashington Post, Autopsy finds broken bones in Epstein’s neck, deepening questions around his death, Carol D. Leonnig and Aaron C. Davis​, Aug. 15, 2019 (print ed.). Experts say a broken hyoid bone happens in suicide by hanging but is more typical in homicide by strangulation.

An autopsy found that financier Jeffrey Epstein sustained multiple breaks in his neck bones, according to two people familiar with the findings, deepening the mystery about the circumstances around his death.

Among the bones broken in Epstein’s neck was the hyoid bone, which in men is near the Adam’s apple. Such breaks can occur in those who hang themselves, particularly if they are older, according to forensics experts and studies on the subject. But they are more common in victims of homicide by strangulation, the experts said.

The details are the first findings to emerge from the autopsy of Epstein, a convicted sex offender and multimillionaire in federal custody on charges of sex trafficking. He died early Saturday morning after guards found him hanging in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan and he could not be revived.

Forbes, Jeffrey Epstein Spent Time Alone With Young Female Prison Visitor, Richard Behar, Aug. 15, 2019. The day after he was taken off suicide watch, disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein spent at least two hours locked up alone with a young woman, in a private room reserved for inmates and their attorneys, according to an attorney who was visiting the prison that day.

"The optics were startling. Because she was young. And pretty,” said the visiting attorney, who asked that his name not be used because he didn’t want to create friction with the prison administration. NBC News has reported that Epstein paid his lawyers to sit with him in a room for eight hours a day for attorney-client meetings, allowing him to avoid his cell.

New York's Metropolitan Correctional Center (Photo by Jim Henderson via Wikimedia Commons)

The visiting attorney went to the Manhattan Correctional Center (shown in a Jim Henderson photo via Wikimedia) on July 30, a day after Epstein was reportedly taken off suicide watch and transferred into the Special Housing Unit (SHU). During the hours the visiting attorney was present, it wasn’t Epstein’s main lawyer, Reid Weingarten, or other named attorneys who visited him.

“If I was him, I would have hired... an old bald guy,” said the lawyer, who said the young woman was in there with Epstein for at least two hours when he was there. He also pointed out that the room is locked when prisoners go in, after their handcuffs are removed, and unlocked only when prisoners leave and handcuffs are put back on.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Where in the World Is Ghislaine Maxwell? Kate Briquelet, Lachlan Cartwright and Dana Kennedy, Aug. 15, 2019. As the British socialite’s alleged boyfriend denies she’s holed up at his Massachusetts home, a friend tells The Daily Beast that Ghislaine Maxwell is lying low in France.

Police are reportedly scrambling to find the 57-year-old British socialite—and accused madam of deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein—as she faces a new lawsuit from one victim who alleges Maxwell gave “organizational support to Epstein’s sex-trafficking ring” and procured “underage girls for Epstein’s sexual pleasure.”

ghislaine maxwell new york post aug 2019 in and out burger la2

New York Post, Jeffrey Epstein’s gal pal Ghislaine Maxwell spotted at In-N-Out Burger in first photos since his death, Sara Nathan and Mara Siegler, Aug. 15, 2019. Jeffrey Epstein’s former gal pal Ghislaine Maxwell isn’t holed up in her British manor or summering on the Massachusetts coast. The Post found the socialite hiding in plain sight in the least likely place imaginable — a fast-food joint in Los Angeles.

Maxwell, 57, the alleged madam to the multimillionaire pedophile, was scarfing down a burger, fries and shake al fresco at an In-N-Out Burger on Monday while reading The Book of Honor: The Secret Lives and Deaths of CIA Operatives, a nonfiction best-seller by journalist Ted Gup.

ghislaine maxwell new york post Customgeoffrey berman epsteinghislaine maxwell jeffrey epstein getty CustomSitting alone with a pet pooch, she was surprised to have been found and told an onlooker, “Well, I guess this is the last time I’ll be eating here!”

Maxwell, accused in court papers of providing sex slaves for Epstein and engaging in threesomes with the financier and underage girls, had not been photographed in public since 2016.

The daughter of the late disgraced publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell has not been charged with any crimes but could find herself in the feds’ cross hairs following Epstein’s apparent jailhouse suicide Saturday.

Attorney General William Barr declared on Monday, “Any co-conspirators should not rest easy.”

Daily Mail, Jeffrey Epstein had a painting of Bill Clinton wearing a blue dress and red heels and lounging in the Oval Office inside his Manhattan mansion, Isolde Walters, Aug. 14, 2019. Visitor reveals bizarre image inside pedophile's $56m lair. Jeffrey Epstein had a painting of Bill Clinton wearing a blue dress and red heels hanging inside his Manhattan home

The picture depicting the former president apparently lounging on a chair in the Oval Office, wearing red heels and posing suggestively in a blue dress redolent of Monica Lewinsky was in a room off the stairway of the Upper East Side townhouse.

The dress is also strikingly similar to one worn by Hillary Clinton at the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors.

The original painting is called 'Parsing Bill' and is by Australian-American artist Petrina Ryan-Kleid, although it is unclear if Epstein had bought the canvas or had a print mounted. Ryan-Kleid exhibited for her degree show when she graduated with an MFA in 2012 from the New York Academy of Art.
The source, who asked to remain anonymous, was visiting Epstein to present a business proposal

She told DailyMailTV: 'It was absolutely Bill Clinton. It was shocking... it was a very provocative, sexual picture'

real news networkThe Real News Network, Commentary: Epstein May Be Just One Part of an Intricate Network of Sex and Power, Marc Steiner, Aug. 15, 2019 (16:44 min. video). Journalist Whitney Webb's MintPress series looks at the sordid history tying together mobsters, oligarchs, and government intelligence agencies in a web of blackmail, exploitation, and profit

David Icke, Opinion: Epstein: Gateway to the Global Cesspit, David Icke (who has been exposing elite paedophiles and Satanists for decades), Aug. 15, 2019 (68:23 min. video).

Israel Blocks Visit

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Presses Israel to Block Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, Isabel Kershner, Aug. 15, 2019. President Trump called for Israel to bar the entry of two U.S. congresswomen, in an extraordinary step to influence an ally and punish his political opponents. “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit,” he tweeted.

donald trump twitterDemocratic Representatives Ilhan Omar (MN), right, and Rashida Tlaib (MI) were scheduled to begin a tour of the West ilhan omar oBank on Sunday.

Israel is still weighing whether to deny entry. Both women have been vocal in their support of the Palestinians and the boycott-Israel movement.

OpEdNews, Israel to Ban Omar and Tlaib From Entry, Rob Kall, Aug. 15, 2019. It's been decided. Israel will not allow U.S. congressional representative Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib to enter the country. This is after Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer stated that they WOULD be allowed.

What changed is Donald Trump has let it be known he wants Israel to ban Omar and Tlaib from entering Israel. And Israel failing to act like an independent nation of integrity, bowed to malignant narcissist psychopath Trump's whim.

ny times logoisrael flagNew York Times, Israeli law denies entry to outspoken foreign supporters of a movement to boycott the country, Niraj Chokshi, Aug. 15, 2019.  Israel has used the law, passed in 2017, to deny entry to outspoken foreign supporters of a movement to boycott the country.

World Economy

ny times logoNew York Times, Stocks Whipsaw as Traders Face Conflicting Trade War Signals, Alexandra Stevenson and Amie Tsang, Aug. 15, 2019. Stocks in the United States rose on Thursday after a sharp decline the day before, as upbeat economic data and a conciliatory statement from the Chinese government eased investors’ anxiety about the impact on global growth of the trade war between the two countries.

washington post logoWashington Post, Recession signals intensify in the U.S., other leading economies, Damian Paletta, Thomas Heath and Taylor Telford, Aug. 15, 2019 (print ed.). The U.S. stock market tumbled to its worst day of the year after a reliable predictor of looming recessions flashed for the first time since the run-up to the 2008 crisis.

• What is an ‘inverted yield curve’ and why is it spooking investors?
• 9 key countries are on the verge of recession, driving fears the U.S. could follow

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump pushed Mnuchin to label China a currency manipulator, a move he had resisted, Damian Paletta and Philip Rucker, Aug. 15, 2019. The treasury secretary had repeatedly refused to designate China as a currency manipulator because its currency moves didn’t meet the Treasury’s established criteria for that action.

Order Helps Child Migrant Prisoners

ny times logoNew York Times, A federal court ruled that detained migrant children must be provided with basic hygiene supplies like toothbrushes, Caitlin Dickerson, Aug. 15, 2019. A federal appeals court panel ruled on Thursday that the government must provide detained migrant children with basic hygiene supplies such as toothbrushes and sleeping mats, ending a debate that incited national outrage after a Justice Department lawyer argued against the need to do so.

ICE logoThe exchange in June between the lawyer and a panel of openly aghast federal judges spread rapidly in the national media. The case grew in significance days later, when a group of lawyers told reporters they had observed distressed migrant children held in cramped, dirty conditions and without sufficient food or clean water at a Border Patrol station in Clint, Tex.

The lawyers said they saw infants being cared for by other detainees, some as young as 7 years old.

Lawmakers sprang into action, decrying the conditions. Hundreds of children were transferred out of the station, which was cleaned up, and the top Border Patrol agent who oversaw the facility was reassigned before resigning from his job.

The ruling by a three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit strengthens protections for children being held in detention after crossing the border without authorization. It is the latest development in a protracted legal battle over the standards that have been in place for more than two decades, established as part of a settlement agreement in a class-action lawsuit brought in 1985, known as the Flores agreement.

washington post logoICE logoWashington Post, Authorities believe poultry companies intentionally hired undocumented workers, search warrants say, Hannah Denham, Aug. 15, 2019. There were clear signs that the companies raided last week were hiring people who could not legally work in the country, the unsealed warrants allege.

Public Health Breakthrough

ny times logoNew York Times, Cure Found for Deadliest Strain of Tuberculosis, Donald G. McNeil Jr., Aug. 14, 2019. Once, a diagnosis of extensively drug-resistant TB meant quick death. A new drug regimen cures most patients in just months.

Media: Amazon PR Campaign

ny times logoNew York Times, Amazon Uses a Twitter Army of Employees to Fight Criticism of Warehouses, Jonah Engel Bromwich, Aug. 15, 2019. They love working there. It’s great. They love it. It’s great. They love it. It’s great. They love it. It’s great. They love it. It’s great. They love it.

amazon logo smallOn Wednesday evening, a phalanx of Amazon employees known as “FC ambassadors” began tweeting again about how great it is to work at Amazon.

When the ambassadors see others on social media discussing the brutal working conditions at Amazon fulfillment centers, its anti-union actions or anything else unflattering about the company, they step in to offer an on-the-ground perspective.

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Labor Dept. Moves to Expand Religion Exemption for Hiring and Firing, Noam Scheiber, Aug. 15, 2019. The Labor Department has proposed a rule that would allow more federal contractors to base employment decisions on religion, a move that rights advocates said could be used to discriminate against workers for all manner of reasons.

labor department logoThe proposal, announced on Wednesday, seeks “to provide the broadest protection of religious exercise recognized by the Constitution and other laws,” the Labor Department said in a statement. It applies to a wide variety of organizations and companies that claim a religious goal as part of their mission.

Naomi Goldberg, policy research director of the Movement Advancement Project, a think tank focused on equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, said the “proposed rule would permit taxpayer-funded discrimination.”

ny times logoNew York Times, After Romance With Russian Agent, Overstock C.E.O. Takes Aim at ‘Deep State,’ Michael Corkery, Aug. 15, 2019.  He was the chief executive of Overstock.com, a publicly traded e-commerce retailer. She was an ambitious graduate student from Russia. The relationship between Patrick Byrne and Maria Butina became widely known on Monday, when his company issued a news release about it.

They met at a libertarian conference in Las Vegas in July 2015, where they discussed Milton Friedman, Anton Chekhov and John Locke.

He was the philosophizing founder and chief executive of Overstock.com, a publicly traded e-commerce retailer that sells discount furniture and bedding. She was an ambitious graduate student from Russia.

maria butina headshotIt was the start of a three-year relationship between the e-commerce executive, Patrick Byrne, and the young woman, Maria Butina, left,that became romantic at times. She is now serving 18 months in prison after being accused by federal prosecutors of trying to infiltrate powerful political circles in the United States at the direction of the Russian government. She ultimately pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

Mr. Byrne’s relationship became widely known on Monday, when his company took the unusual step of issuing a news release that called attention to it. In the release, which was put out in response to a report that Mr. Byrne had been involved in the federal inquiry into the 2016 presidential election, Mr. Byrne said that he had been helping law enforcement agents, whom he referred to as “Men in Black,” with their “Clinton Investigation” and “Russia Investigation.”

The release, titled “Overstock.com CEO Comments on Deep State,” sent the company’s shares plummeting more than 30 percent over the next two days, while opening an intriguing new chapter in the tale of Ms. Butina and her connections to influential Americans.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. officials shield Ivanka Trump’s and Mike Pence’s projects in review of foreign aid, John Hudson, Aug. 15, 2019 (print ed.). The Trump administration has decided to shield the signature projects of White House adviser Ivanka Trump,right, and Vice President Pence as it looks to cancel billions of dollars in foreign aid for other projects around the world, U.S. officials said.

ivanka trump twitter portraitIn coming days, the White House is expected to send a proposal to Congress for returning billions of dollars of unspent foreign aid funds to the Treasury in a process known as rescission. Officials say they will safeguard funding for global health programs.

Because U.S. aid agencies often do not designate funds until the end of a fiscal year, the White House could claw back between $2 billion and $4 billion in foreign aid projects approved by Congress for fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

Senior Republicans and Democrats say the review threatens to undermine Congress’s authority to appropriate funds, but U.S. officials insist they are targeting only projects that are unnecessary or of questionable value.

Dying Newspapers

Commonwealth Magazine, ‘No more real newspaper’ in Worcester, Michael Jonas, Aug. 15, 2019. The "Ghost Newspaper" era has arrived in Massachusetts, and the worst is almost certainly yet to come.

The state has not yet been hit with vast news deserts, the term of the media moment to describe areas without any newspaper presence following the closure of more than 1,800 US papers since 2004. But the land is becoming so parched of substantive news coverage as to make it the next closest thing. “Ghost newspaper” is the label researchers are using for publications that still churn out a daily issue, but one that is a shell of its former self.

We now have these spectral offerings in abundance.

The latest chapter in the relentless hollowing out of Massachusetts media came with news that columnist Clive McFarlane, a 26-year veteran of the Worcester Telegram, was shown the door. The Worcester Business Journal says he was one of six staffers let go at the paper.

The news prompted a blunt assessment from Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty. “There is no more real newspaper in the city of Worcester,” he told a local radio show.

As MassLive reports, McFarlane’s ouster was just the latest blow to the paper covering New England’s second largest city since it was acquired by the GateHouse chain in 2014.

gatehouse media logoThe bloodletting at the Telegram this week was by no means the only Massachusetts hit in the vast GateHouse portfolio. The nonprofit Poynter media center says two reporters were cut at each of three other GateHouse papers: The Cape Cod Times, the New Bedford Standard-Times, and the Fall River Herald News. The Worcester Business Journal says the Herald News now has no full-time staff photographers.

GateHouse, which owns most of the daily papers in central and eastern Massachusetts, and Gannett, the country’s two largest newspaper chains, recently announced merger plans. New York University business professor Michael Posner predicts the merger will only hasten the continued demise of US newspapers, which have seen their business model decimated by internet advertising and online news distribution.

McFarlane, the deposed Telegram columnist, posted a message on Facebook slamming the “indignity of corporate management.”

“After 26 years writing for this community, I was unceremoniously shown the door today by Gatehouse, deprived even of the long-established protocol of allowing a columnist to bid farewell to his readers,” he wrote.

In 2013, the Telegram was acquired by John Henry from the New York Times Co. in a package deal with the Boston Globe. He soon made it clear he didn’t intend to keep the paper. But Worcester leaders and editors at the paper say he vowed to sell only to a local buyer, as chronicled in this CommonWealth story. “I think you need a local owner,” Henry told a newsroom gathering when he showed up in Worcester in November of that year. “This is not a forced sale. If we don’t find the right owner, you’re stuck with me.”

Months later Henry sold the paper to a Florida-based company, Halifax Media Group, whose major shareholders were three private equity firms. The following year, Halifax was acquired by GateHouse.

U.S. Supreme Court On Guns

ny times logolinda greenhouse cover just a journalistNew York Times, Opinion: The Supreme Court’s Second Amendment Appetite, Linda Greenhouse (shown on the cover of her memoir about covering the court), Aug. 15, 2019. Back in January, I devoted my first column of the new year to the growing impatience of some members of the court for a chance to move the boundaries of the Second Amendment from the home — where its 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller had located the amendment’s protection of the right to bear arms — out to the wider world. A few weeks later, the court agreed to hear the first Second Amendment case in nearly a decade.

Heller was a 5-to-4 decision, and Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the principal dissenting opinion, indicated in a memoir published shortly before his death last month that Justice Antonin Scalia, the majority opinion’s author, had to compromise to hold his majority.

His opinion deemed the right to keep a handgun at home for self-defense as the “core” Second Amendment right and continued: “It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” The court thus left undefined both what it was protecting beyond the “core” and how vigorously courts should scrutinize restrictions that extend out from the home or that deal with other kinds of firearms.

U.S. 2020 Campaign

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: John Hickenlooper’s graceful exit sets a standard, Jennifer Rubin, Aug. 15, 2019. Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper is getting out of the presidential race. His exit video was classy and responsible. Judging from the video’s tone and production value, I’d put good money on him running for Senate in Colorado. Recent polls show him clobbering Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in what would be a critical pickup for the Democrats. Other presidential candidates should take note.

#MeToo

washington post logoWashington Post, Catholic priest found guilty of sexually abusing girls at his Northwest D.C. parish, Keith L. Alexander​, Aug. 15, 2019. Urbano Vazquez, 47, served at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Columbia Heights. Federal prosecutors argued Vazquez preyed on underage girls and used his position of influence and trust at the church to gain access to his victims.

Failed U.S. Power Play

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. moves to block release of Iranian supertanker held in Gibraltar, Erin Cunningham​, Aug. 15, 2019. The surprise move, which came hours before the tanker was expected to set sail, added to a months-long saga over the vessel. The United States moved Thursday to block the release of an Iranian supertanker held in Gibraltar just hours before the vessel was expected to set sail, local authorities said.

The U.S. Justice Department lodged a last-minute appeal to seize the tanker, which was carrying 2.1 million barrels of light crude oil when it was detained near Gibraltar in July.

The surprise move added to the months-long saga over the tanker, which authorities suspected was taking the crude to the Syrian port of Baniyas, in violation of European Union sanctions.

Iran called its seizure an “act of piracy” and threatened to retaliate against British shipping assets in the Persian Gulf. Last month, Iranian naval forces raided and detained the British-flagged Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz.

SouthFront, Gibraltar Authorities Release Iranian Supertanker Grace 1, Wire and staff reports, Aug. 15, 2019. Gibraltar authorities have released the Iranian supertanker Grace 1, the Gibraltar Chronicle newspaper reported on August 15.

“The Government of #Gibraltar has now received formal written assurances from the Iranian government that the ship will not discharge its cargo in Syria … On that basis, Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has decided to lift the detention order and allow the ship to sail,” the Gibraltar Chronicle reported.

The fate of the British tanker remains unclear. However, the release of Grace 1 will likely encourage Iran to release it very soon.

U.S. Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, Suspect surrenders after shooting six police officers in hours-long Philadelphia standoff, Maura Ewing, Reis Thebault, Michael Brice-Saddler, Timothy Bella and Marisa Iati, Aug. 15, 2019. A suspect surrendered just after midnight after shooting six police officers in a north Philadelphia neighborhood on Wednesday evening, igniting a standoff that dragged on for hours in what authorities called a hostage situation.

The suspect is Maurice Hill, a 36-year-old Philadelphia resident with a history of gun convictions, his former lawyer, Shaka Johnson, told The Washington Post. Philadelphia Police Sgt. Eric Gripp confirmed on Twitter early Thursday that the suspect is in custody.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump pushed Mnuchin to label China a currency manipulator, a move he had resisted, Damian Paletta and Philip Rucker, Aug. 15, 2019. The treasury secretary had repeatedly refused to designate China as a currency manipulator because its currency moves didn’t meet the Treasury’s established criteria for that action.

Aug. 14

Climate Changeclimate change photo

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: 2°C: Beyond the Limit: Extreme climate change has arrived in America. Here are the fastest-warming places, Steven Mufson, Chris Mooney, Juliet Eilperin and John Muyskens, Aug. 14, 2019 (print ed.). A Post analysis of data from across the Lower 48 states found that major areas are nearing or have already crossed the threshold of 2 degrees Celsius, a crucial marker in international climate change policy. How has your county changed? Our interactive tool can tell you.

In the past century, the Earth has warmed 1 degree Celsius. But that’s just an average. Some parts of the globe — including the mountains of Romania and the steppes of Mongolia — have registered increases twice as large. It has taken decades or in some cases a century. But for huge swaths of the planet, climate change is a present-tense reality, not one looming ominously in the distant future.

In Lake Hopatcong, thinning ice let loose waves of aquatic weeds that ordinarily die in the cold. This year, a new blow: Following one of the warmest springs of the past century, harmful bacteria known as blue-green algae bloomed in the lake just as the tourist season was taking off in June.

• Five takeaways from The Post’s analysis

Epstein Probes

New York's Metropolitan Correctional Center (Photo by Jim Henderson via Wikimedia Commons)

New York's Metropolitan Correctional Center (Photo by Jim Henderson via Wikimedia Commons)

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary, More details about Epstein's circle of friends seep out, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 14, 2019 (subscription required). As more questions fly about concerning the August 10 so-called suicide of uber-wealthy and politically connected pedophile Jeffrey Epstein at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Manhattan, so, too, is information about how far and wide Epstein’s circle of friends extended during the height of his international sex trafficking.

ny times logoNew York Times, First Person Commentary: Jeffrey Epstein Raped Me When I Was 15, Jennifer Araoz (Ms. Araoz has filed a lawsuit against the estate of Jeffrey Epstein), Aug. 14, 2019. Now I’m suing his estate and accomplices.

During my freshman year, one of Epstein’s recruiters, a stranger, approached me on the sidewalk outside my high school. Epstein never operated alone. He had a ring of enablers and surrounded himself with influential people. I was attending a performing arts school on the Upper East Side, studying musical theater. I wanted to be an actress and a singer.

The recruiter told me about a wealthy man she knew named Jeffrey Epstein. Meeting him would be beneficial, and he could introduce me to the right people for my career, she said. When I confided that I had recently lost my father and that my family was living on food stamps, she told me he was very caring and wanted to help us financially.

The trap was set.

The visits during the first month felt benign, at least at the time. On my second visit, Epstein also gave me a digital camera as a gift. The visits were about one to two hours long and we would spend the time talking. After each visit, he or his secretary would hand me $300 in cash, supposedly to help my family.

But within about a month, he started asking me for massages and instructed me to take my top off. He said he would need to see my body if he was going to help me break into modeling. I felt uncomfortable and intimidated, but I did as he said. The assault escalated when, during these massages, he would flip over and sexually gratify himself and touch me inappropriately. For a little over a year, I went to Epstein’s home once or twice a week.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Just what is going on with Jeffrey Epstein’s autopsy? Bill Palmer, Aug. 14, 2019. Earlier this week Palmer Report bill palmer report logo headerexplained that the autopsy of Jeffrey Epstein had taken a strange and controversial turn. The government announced that the autopsy had been completed but the results weren’t being announced yet, even as Epstein’s estate hired a guy from the OJ trial to perform an autopsy of his own.

'Conspiracy Theory' As Cover-Up Tool

Off-Guardian, Media Criticism: Guardian Attacks Epstein “Conspiracy Theories,” Kit Knightly, Aug. 14, 2019. The mainstream narrative is shaping up – a story of suicide, neglect and tragic victims.  In two different opinion pieces The Guardian has made its position on the alleged death of Jeffrey Epstein clear – he “probably” committed suicide.

The first, titled "Epstein conspiracy theories are farfetched – but can you blame people?," takes the position that although “conspiracy theories” about Epstein’s apparent suicide are “understandable,” there’s no evidence to support them. Rather, the author endorses the slowly coalescing official narrative. Namely that of complete, systemic incompetence: "The official explanation for Epstein’s death comes down to rank incompetence. And it’s probably true."

A short-sighted attitude to take, which totally ignores a cardinal rule when dealing with state agencies: They will only admit to incompetence if the truth is worse.

The author also attempts to undermine the “conspiracy theories” by pointing out that Epstein was a potential threat to important figures on both sides of the political divide: "Online, conspiracy theories now abound. Observers suggest Epstein was killed by one of the men who may have been implicated in his crimes – maybe Bill Clinton, according to the fringe right, or maybe Donald Trump, according to the fringe left."

An argument rather akin to saying, “He can’t possibly have been murdered, because there were too many people who wanted him dead. There are SO MANY plausible suspects, that the only reasonable explanation is that…none of them did it."

(Also, note the word “fringe,” a manipulative use of language designed to discredit an idea without engaging with it rationally). However, this article – although laced through with traditional mainstream rhetoric about “conspiracy theories” – at least leaves them room to exist.

The Guardian’s other Epstein piece is rather less understanding: "Epstein’s death is a victory for misogyny: it denies accusers the justice they deserve" blares the headline (further evidence that very few people at the Guardian seem to know what “misogyny” really means), before continuing by taking aim at conspiracy theories several times in the text.

Firstly, in an almost word-for-word quote from the previous column: "Commentators on the right speculated that he had been murdered by powerful liberals; those on the left speculated that he had been murdered by powerful conservatives. These theories were not responses to evidence, of which there is little."

And then later claiming conspiracy theories not only “factually wrong” (something no one can know at this stage): The speculations may well be factually wrong – criminal justice experts have pointed out that inmate suicides are common, and that those detained in federal jails often face startling neglect" – but also attempting to 'Mrs Lovejoy' the public by claiming “conspiracy theories” are actually harmful: "The positing of these conspiracy theories is unhelpful, distracting from the important injustice that has been done to Epstein’s victims."

Declaring seeking the truth to be somehow unfair to the victims is a classic trope, deployed most famously against 9/11 Truthers, but common after many such incidents.

There’s also this sentence: "The conspiracy theorists also risk undermining efforts to bring Epstein’s co-conspirators to account. Their suggestions that the financier was killed to cover up the rapes and assaults of powerful men who would rather he be shut up could lend suspicion to anyone pointing out the breadth of his alleged pedophilia ring, giving those who want continued investigations of men such as Dershowitz, Pritzker and Dubin the aura of a maniac in a tinfoil hat."

Which, I’ll be honest, I simply don’t understand. "I think she’s arguing that “conspiracy theorists” talking about “conspiracy theories” might discredit the very real possibility there was an actual conspiracy.

If that’s what she means – because I honestly do not understand the words – well, that’s obviously just crazy. You can’t argue we shouldn’t talk about conspiracy theories, just in case there’s a conspiracy fact.

That’s the attitude of a person so brainwashed by the idea that “conspiracy theorist = crazy person” that they can no longer think in a straight line. Total cognitive dissonance.

The articles are different in tone, but they are united in purpose, and they each hit the same three key points:

  • Epstein “probably” killed himself. After all, inmates commit suicide all the time.
  • Conspiracy theories might look reasonable, but they are factually incorrect and morally harmful.
  • The real tragedy here is the poor victims who will go unavenged. We should all focus on that, not investigating the potential murder.

All this serves to demonstrate – for about the millionth time – the entire purpose of outrage culture and identity politics.

This is fear of being offensive used to control a conversation and dictate narrative: Don’t talk about Epstein being murdered, don’t even think about it. If you do, you’re a misogynist.

Crime, Courts

NBC News, ASAP Rocky found guilty of assault but spared jail in Swedish trial, Phil Helsel and Linda Givetash, Aug. 14, 2019. The case has nbc news logoattracted widespread attention, with Kim Kardashian West, Rod Stewart and even President Donald Trump calling on Swedish authorities to release the rapper.

Rapper ASAP Rocky was found guilty of assault Wednesday by a Swedish court but will avoid further jail time. The rapper was handed a asap rocky twittersuspended sentence after the court found that the assault was not "of such a serious nature" as to warrant more time behind bars.

Rocky, shown in his Twitter photo, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, was arrested in Stockholm in July after he and two members of his entourage got into a street brawl with Mustafa Jafari, 19.

Prosecutors asked the court to convict Mayers, 30, and sentence him to at least six months in jail. But Per Lennerbrant, the senior judge presiding over the case, said the prosecution failed to prove the extent of the seriousness of the attack. However, the rapper and his entourage were not without fault, the court found. "The artist is convicted of his own use of violence," Lennerbrant said through a court translator.

Immigration Battles

ny times logoNew York Times, Why an Heiress Spent Her Fortune Trying to Keep Immigrants Out, Nicholas Kulish and Mike McIntire, Aug. 14, 2019. Cordelia Scaife May, an heir to the Mellon fortune, went from an environmental-minded socialite to an ardent nativist whose money helped sow the seeds of President Trump’s anti-immigration agenda.

She was an heiress without a cause — an indifferent student, an unhappy young bride, a miscast socialite. Her most enduring passion was for birds.

But Cordelia Scaife May eventually found her life’s purpose: curbing what she perceived as the lethal threat of overpopulation by trying to shut America’s doors to immigrants.

U.S. Stock Markets / Growth

washington post logoWashington Post, Dow loses 800 points as recession signs emerge around the world, Damian Paletta, Thomas Heath and Taylor Telford​, Aug. 14, 2019. President Trump’s trade war, slowing growth in Europe and China, and other economic turmoil sent investors fleeing stocks and into safe havens such as gold and long-term government bonds.

ny times logoNew York Times, Stocks Slide as Bond Market Signals Rising Concern About Growth, Staff report, Aug. 14, 2019. Stocks dropped on Wednesday, as the bond market signaled rising concern about the economy and data from Germany showed the country could be veering toward a recession.

german flagThe German government reported that its economy shrank in the three months ending in June. The largest economy in the eurozone, Germany has become particularly vulnerable to the trade war playing out between the United States and China because of its dependence on manufacturing and exports. A second quarter of decline would mean Germany is technically in a recession.

Palmer Report, Donald Trump panics as the “Trump economy” goes off a cliff, Bill Palmer, Aug 14, 2019. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has plummeted around 700 points thus far today. It’s now dropped a total of around 1600 points over the past two weeks, meaning that – by stock market standards at least – about six percent of the U.S. economy has gone poof since the month started. Naturally, Trump is blaming everyone but himself – and he’s getting frantic about it.

bill palmer report logo headerAt 11:39 am eastern time, Donald Trump posted a tweet blaming the Federal Reserve for the freefall. Then at 11:51 am he seemed to blame China. Somewhere in there he sent Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on television to try to turn wilbur rossthings around, but no one could tell what the half-asleep Ross, right, was babbling about. At 12:42 pm, Trump tried delusion as a strategy, tweeting: “Tremendous amounts of money pouring into the United States. People want safety!” By 1:15 pm, he was back to blaming the Federal Reserve.

What stands out through all of this is that every time Donald Trump said something in the hope of turning things around, the stock market then dropped even lower. Wall Street investors know full well that Trump is a two-bit criminal who’s spent his entire life going bankrupt and who’s never made a dollar that he didn’t steal, and that he has no idea how economics works. Whatever the “Trump economy” is, it’s in freefall.

U.S. Politics / Media

MSNBC, Mitch McConnell at nexus of increased Russian leverage on U.S., Rachel Maddow, Aug. 14, 2019. Rachel Maddow shares details from a recent Pentagon white paper about how Russia secures its influence over other countries' politics and notes that Mitch McConnell's role in facilitating an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in his home state of Kentucky, among other things, aligns with Russia's strategy.

Black America Web, Donna Brazile Says ‘Trump Has Nothing To Do’ With Mass Shootings, DL Hughley, Aug. 14, 2019. The Fox News pundit dismissed Trump's hateful rhetoric. 

Donna Brazile is now over at Fox News and it appears she has been indoctrinated by the propaganda network. She is dismissing Trump’s racist rhetoric by saying he has “nothing” to do with the mass shootings.

While on Fox News Radio this weekend, Brazile said, “This conversation about race and racism, domestic terrorism, white supremacy, white nationalism, it is that I am profoundly saddened as an American. The reason why is to point fingers and the plate is so-called blame game.”

She continued, “President Trump had nothing to do with the maniac, and I’m being gracious here, the maniac who shot up a Walmart store. He had nothing to do with the person who shot up you know the bar in Dayton. This is unbecoming of a country. The President of United States you know should not be blamed for you know these individual killers. But what we have to hold each other responsible for is our tone. We all have to set a tone.”

Sounds like Brazile does’t understand the impact of Trump’s tone. In addition, people in El Paso, Texas disagree with her.

U.S. History, Race, Politics

ny times logoNew York Times Magazine, Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Aug. 14, 2019. The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are. Read all the stories.

In August 1619, just 12 years after the English settled Jamestown, Va., one year before the Puritans landed at Plymouth Rock and some 157 years before the English colonists even decided they wanted to form their own country, the Jamestown colonists bought 20 to 30 enslaved Africans from English pirates. The pirates had stolen them from a Portuguese slave ship that had forcibly taken them from what is now the country of Angola. Those men and women who came ashore on that August day were the beginning of American slavery. They were among the 12.5 million Africans who would be kidnapped from their homes and brought in chains across the Atlantic Ocean in the largest forced migration in human history until the Second World War. Almost two million did not survive the grueling journey, known as the Middle Passage.

Before the abolishment of the international slave trade, 400,000 enslaved Africans would be sold into America. Those individuals and their descendants transformed the lands to which they’d been brought into some of the most successful colonies in the British Empire. Through backbreaking labor, they cleared the land across the Southeast. They taught the colonists to grow rice. They grew and picked the cotton that at the height of slavery was the nation’s most valuable commodity, accounting for half of all American exports and 66 percent of the world’s supply.

They built the plantations of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, sprawling properties that today attract thousands of visitors from across the globe captivated by the history of the world’s greatest democracy. They laid the foundations of the White House and the Capitol, even placing with their unfree hands the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol dome.

They lugged the heavy wooden tracks of the railroads that crisscrossed the South and that helped take the cotton they picked to the Northern textile mills, fueling the Industrial Revolution. They built vast fortunes for white people North and South — at one time, the second-richest man in the nation was a Rhode Island “slave trader.”

Profits from black people’s stolen labor helped the young nation pay off its war debts and financed some of our most prestigious universities. It was the relentless buying, selling, insuring and financing of their bodies and the products of their labor that made Wall Street a thriving banking, insurance and trading sector and New York City the financial capital of the world.

Aug. 13

U.S. Immigration

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump officials seek to deny citizenship, green cards for legal immigrants getting public benefits, Abigail Hauslohner and Nick Miroff​, Aug. 13, 2019 (print ed.). Legal immigrants who use public benefits — such as Medicaid or food stamps — could have a tougher time obtaining U.S. citizenship under a policy change that is at the center of the Trump administration’s effort to reduce immigration. See related story below:

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Broadens Assault on Immigration With Wealth Rule, Michael D. Shear and Eileen Sullivan, Aug. 13, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump on Monday broadened his assault on the nation’s immigration system, issuing a new rule targeting legal immigrants who want to remain in the United States but whose lack of financial resources are judged likely to make them a burden on taxpayers.

ICE logoThe new regulation is aimed at hundreds of thousands of immigrants who enter the country legally every year and then apply to become permanent residents. Starting in October, the government’s decision will be based on an aggressive wealth test to determine whether those immigrants have the means to support themselves.

Poor immigrants will be denied permanent legal status, also known as a green card, if they are deemed likely to use government benefit programs such as food stamps and subsidized housing. Wealthier immigrants, who are designated as less likely to require public assistance, will be able to obtain a green card.

Officials said the program would not apply to people who already have green cards, to certain members of the military, to refugees and asylum-seekers, or to pregnant women and children. But immigration advocates warned that vast numbers of immigrants, including those not actually subject to the regulation, may drop out of programs they need because they fear retribution by immigration authorities.

Trump Watch

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump's war on children now extends to defenseless animals, Wayne Madsen, Aug 13, 2019. Further pushing his cruelty from caged migrant children separated from their families at the southern border to yet other children coming home from school in Mississippi to find their parents having been hauled off by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detention centers, Donald Trump has now turned his attention to needlessly harming animals.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, From race to plastic straws, Trump dials up culture wars in divisive play for votes, Toluse Olorunnipa and Ashley Parker, Aug. 13, 2019 (print ed.). Trump is deliberately amplifying public tensions by seizing on divisive topics to energize his base, campaign aides say. 

China Trade War

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump delays some China tariffs to limit effect on holiday shopping, Damian Paletta and Heather Long, Aug. 13, 2019. The administration said it would push back penalties on a range of Chinese imports, including cellphones, laptops and footwear, until Dec. 15. Stocks rose after the news.

Epstein Probes

ny times logoNew York Times, Epstein Was Left Alone for Hours in Jail, and One Guard Was a Substitute, Ali Watkins, Katie Benner and Danielle Ivory, Aug. 13, 2019 (print ed.). Only one of the two people guarding Jeffrey Epstein normally worked as a correctional officer, according to three prison officials.

Jeffrey Epstein was not checked on for hours in the Manhattan jail where he died, and one of his guards was not a full-fledged officer, officials said. Attorney General William Barr said Mr. Epstein’s suicide would not halt the investigation into others who might have helped traffic girls for sex.

ny times logoNew York Times, First Person Opinion: The Day Jeffrey Epstein Told Me He Had Dirt on Powerful People, James B. Stewart, Aug. 13, Jeffrey Epstein Harvard University 2019 (print ed.). Our columnist went to Mr. Epstein’s Manhattan mansion last year to talk about Tesla. They ended up discussing much more.

Almost exactly a year ago, on Aug. 16, 2018, I visited Jeffrey Epstein (right) at his cavernous Manhattan mansion.

The overriding impression I took away from our roughly 90-minute conversation was that Mr. Epstein knew an astonishing number of rich, famous and powerful people, and had photos to prove it. He also claimed to know a great deal about these people, some of it potentially damaging or embarrassing, including details about their supposed sexual proclivities and recreational drug use.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Jeffrey Epstein and When to Take Conspiracies Seriously, Ross Douthat, Aug. 13, 2019. Sometimes conspiracy theories point toward something worth investigating. A few point toward the truth.

No, you still don’t want to listen to QAnon, or to our disgraceful president when he retweets rants about the #ClintonBodyCount. But just as Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s network of clerical allies and enablers hasn’t been rolled up, and the fall of Bryan Singer probably didn’t get us near the rancid depths of Hollywood’s youth-exploitation racket, we clearly haven’t gotten to the bottom of what was going on with Epstein.

#MeToo: Suit Deadlines Extended

ny times logoNew York Times, He Says a Priest Abused Him. 50 Years Later, He Can Now Sue, Rick Rojas, Aug. 13, 2019. New York joined more than a dozen others this year in significantly extending statutes of limitations for filing lawsuits over sexual abuse. Groups including the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts are bracing for a deluge of legal action.

boy scouts logo customMajor institutions across New York State, from the Catholic Church to the Boy Scouts of America to elite private schools, are bracing for a deluge of lawsuits now that adults who said they were sexually abused as children will be entitled to pursue formal legal action.

New York joined more than a dozen states this year in significantly extending statutes of limitations for filing lawsuits over sexual abuse. Previously, the state had required that such suits be filed before a victim’s 23rd birthday.

Under the new law in New York, the Child Victims Act, which was approved by the Legislature in January, accusers will be able to sue until they are 55.

#MeToo: Opera Star

placido domingo file

Opera star Placido Domingo (file photo)

ap logoAssociated Press via Washington Post, Opera legend Placido Domingo accused of sexual harassment, Jocelyn Gecker, Aug. 13, 2019. Numerous women told the Associated Press that Domingo (78, profiled on Wikipedia and on his own site), tried to pressure them into sexual relationships by dangling jobs and in some cases punishing them when they refused his advances.

Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, CNN’s Chris Cuomo threatened to throw a man down stairs for calling him ‘Fredo,’ comparing it to the n-word, Meagan Flynn, Aug. 13, 2019. A profanity-laced video surfaced Monday night showing CNN anchor Chris Cuomo threatening to throw a man down cnn logothe stairs for calling him “Fredo,” referring to the fictional character Fredo Corleone from “The Godfather” films.

andrew cuomoBut the core of the backlash centered on one claim from Cuomo: that calling an Italian person “Fredo” was comparable to using the n-word — an assertion that had many Italian Americans scratching their heads and other critics calling Cuomo out of bounds.

“Are any of you Italian?” Cuomo (shown in a file photo) asked the group of men involved in the confrontation. “It’s an insult to your people. ... It’s like the n-word for us.”

On Monday night, CNN also said it stood by the host.

“Chris Cuomo defended himself when he was verbally attacked with the use of an ethnic slur in an orchestrated setup,” CNN spokesman Matt Dornic said in a statement on Twitter. “We completely support him.”

Cuomo found support in unlikely corners, ranging from rival Fox News host Sean Hannity to onetime White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, while his critics spanned Trump 2020 campaign representatives and other journalists.

Hong Kong Protests

washington post logoWashington Post, Hong Kong airport cancels flights for second day as protesters reoccupy terminal, Gerry Shih and Timothy McLaughlin, hong kong skyline from victoria peak wikimedi CustomAug. 13, 2019. Anti-government protesters brought chaos to Hong Kong’s airport for a second consecutive day Tuesday, forcing airlines to suspend check-in for departing flights, as demonstrators extended their standoff with authorities who have been unable to quell months of dissent.

Hong Kong's skyline is shown above from a view at Victoria's Peak.

After mass cancellations the previous evening, flights had been gradually returning to normal throughout Tuesday, even as thousands of black-clad demonstrators returned to occupy the terminal with placards denouncing police brutality and calling for freedom for Hong Kong.

Arguments erupted between frustrated passengers and protesters, with some stranded passengers crying and saying they just wanted to get home.

U.S. Politics: Israeli Pressures

U.S. House Speaker Steny Hoyer (D-MD), right, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu file unsourced

U.S. House Speaker Steny Hoyer (D-MD), listens at right to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Unz Review, Opinion: Majority Leader Steny Hoyer: Israel's man in the House of Representatives, Philip Giraldi (think tank leader and former CIA officer, shown at right), Aug 13, 2019. It is astonishing philip giraldithat in the wake of the two mass killings in Dayton and El Paso that have been attributed both by the media and the Democrats to “racism,” a senior U.S. Congressman has led a delegation of 41 of his Democratic Party colleagues plus spouses on a week-long luxury all-expenses-paid trip to Israel, which is one of the few countries in the world that defines its full citizenship as a matter of race and religion.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland is, however, apparently tone deaf to some critics of the annual excursion, having made the pilgrimage to Israel more than fifteen times. “I am pleased to join so many House Democrats in traveling to Israel to reaffirm our support for a critical U.S. ally and to continue learning about the opportunities and the challenges facing Israel and the Middle East,” he said shortly before departing for Tel Aviv.

Hoyer did not mention how he had managed to pull together such a large group of co-conspirators in spite of critical issues that need to be confronted at home during recess in town hall meetings, which, due to the trip, will operate on a short schedule if at all. As Majority Leader, he is reported to be skilled at strong-arming new colleagues to compel them to make the trip to demonstrate the loyalty of the U.S.

Congress and the Democratic Party to the Jewish state, which is his top priority. According to The Intercept (see Mondoweiss, Opinion: Hoyer and 41 Democrats visit Israel on AIPAC-affiliated junket that violates ‘spirit as well as the letter of the law’ by Josh Ruebner), “Hoyer…uses his power over the House floor agenda to coerce participation. A member who refuses an invitation can find it difficult to have their bills brought to the floor for a vote. ‘His senior staff lock down cooperating members by getting their bills to the floor and punishing non-cooperators,’ said one former representative who rejected the invitation. ‘I was tortured for a decade because I refused to go on that trip…’”

Of course, the Israelis are themselves seasoned professionals when it comes to mass shooting, something that they do every Friday across the fence into Gaza, but they are unlikely to demonstrate their marksmanship to the visiting congressmen. They in any event know that Israel will never be condemned in fora like the United Nations Security Council because of the exercise of Washington’s veto.

Hoyer and company are the reason that there is such a veto even though Israel is a serial war criminal and human rights violator, so in a sense he and his Democratic Party friends are the reason why the Jewish state believes itself empowered to behave so badly. And, lest anyone is worried about bipartisanship, the Republicans too have a delegation in Israel headed by House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy consisting of 31 congressmen. The 72 congressmen from both parties constitute one of the largest delegations ever to travel to to the Jewish state.

Hoyer is a bought and paid for Israeli puppet and a big part of his job is to make sure that new Congressmen and women are adequately brainwashed regarding what is going on in the Middle East. Maryland’s Democratic Party has long been dominated by Jews from Baltimore and Montgomery County and Hoyer has successfully cultivated Jewish congressmen to advance his career. He has benefited directly from $320,025 pro-Israel PAC donations to fund his reelection campaigns and has undoubtedly also received generous donations from individual Jews and from organizations not organized as PACs.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., 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. Details here.

Aug. 12

Mass Shootings: El Paso

ny times logoNew York Times, How the El Paso Killer Echoed the Words of Conservative Media Stars, Jeremy W. Peters, Michael M. Grynbaum, Keith Collins, Rich Harris and Rumsey Taylor, Aug. 12, 2019 (print ed.).There is a striking overlap of language used by right-wing media personalities and the words of the El Paso gunman, a review by The Times found. Once-extremist terms for immigration, like “invasion” and “replacement,” have become familiar to fans of Tucker Carlson and Rush Limbaugh.

ny times logoNew York Times, They Died Shielding Their Baby in El Paso. Their Family’s Anguish Was Only Beginning, Sarah Mervosh, Aug. 12, 2019. Jordan and Andre Anchondo were among the 22 people killed by a gunman at a Walmart store in El Paso Aug. 3. Their families said the couple died protecting their infant son.

She was a young mother, busy juggling family dinners, cheerleading practices and trips to the park with her three small children. He was a self-starter who had opened his own business and spent months painstakingly renovating a house for his family, with three bedrooms and granite countertops in the kitchen.

jordan anchondo andre anchondo walmart victims CustomBefore they became the latest faces of the toll of mass shootings in America — before their names were written on crosses at a memorial in El Paso, before their orphaned infant was held up in a photo opportunity with President Trump — Jordan and Andre Anchondo, right were just a young couple at the start of their lives together. They had recently had a baby boy, moved into their new home and celebrated their first year of marriage.

A gunman with an AK-47-style rifle and a plan to hurt Mexicans changed all of that. In the days since then, the Anchondos have been held up as symbols of tragedy, and their families have been thrust into the national spotlight — unsought attention that was made worse after Mr. Trump was photographed smiling and giving a thumbs-up alongside their baby.

Commentaries on Epstein Death

Below are links to notable expert commentaries, continued below, about the death of the wealthy pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, right, and the death's jeffrey epstein new mug cropped july 2019implications for the public:

Other Epstein Aftermath

washington post logoWashington Post, Attorney general blames federal jail for ‘failure’ to keep Epstein alive, Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett​, Aug. 12, 2019. william barr new oAttorney General William P. Barr, right, said Jeffrey Epstein’s death would not deter the probe into who might have aided the politically connected financier’s alleged crimes.

The attorney general’s comments were noteworthy in that he publicly blamed the Bureau of Prisons, which is part of the Justice Department, for the circumstances surrounding Epstein’s apparent suicide.

Palmer Report, Commentary: Wait a minute, WHO was watching Jeffrey Epstein when he died? Bill Palmer, Aug. 12, 2019. Earlier today, Attorney General Bill Barr tried to deflect responsibility away from himself when he pointed to “serious irregularities” at the jail where Jeffrey Epstein died. Based on his track record, no one can believe a word Barr says, and we wrote that it sounded like he was trying to pin the whole thing on lower level employees.

bill palmer report logo headerNow it turns out one of the guards watching Jeffrey Epstein on the night of his death “wasn’t a regular correctional officer” – whatever that’s supposed to mean – according to a surreal new report from the AP. To our ear, it sounds like some kind of staffing shortage resulted in someone guarding Epstein who wasn’t formally trained for that particular task.

This could indeed be the case, and it could explain how Jeffrey Epstein managed to commit suicide while he was under protective custody. This comes after the WSJ reported earlier today that it was Epstein’s lawyers who had him removed from suicide watch, which he’d been on since a suspicious incident two weeks ago. But there’s a catch to all this.

During the rollout of the redacted Mueller report, we saw Bill Barr repeatedly feed dubious claims to major news outlets, which they then turned around and reported as having been from a source “familiar” with the matter. In these instances it was painfully obvious that Barr himself was the source. Now we’ve got two major news outlets with unnamed sources who want to pin the blame on everyone but Barr. Considering Barr’s villainy, we’re taking all of this with a grain of salt.

ny times logoNew York Times, Epstein’s Opaque Finances Could Become a Focus for Investigators, Emily Steel, Matthew Goldstein, Steve Eder and David Enrich, Aug. 12, 2019 (print ed.). The question of where Jeffrey Epstein’s wealth came from is likely to be a focus after his death.

A convicted pedophile and accused sex trafficker who surrounded himself with an elite network of business and political leaders, Mr. Epstein enjoyed the trappings of great wealth: private jets, mansions, his own island. But much remains unknown about the sources of his wealth.

Legions of lawyers, bankers and accountants have been trying in recent weeks to solve that mystery, and their quest is unlikely to end after Mr. Epstein was found dead on Saturday morning. The answers could illuminate how Mr. Epstein allegedly operated a long-running sex-trafficking operation, whether he had help from others and who — including Mr. Epstein’s victims — will receive any of his remaining assets. It is not known if Mr. Epstein had a will.

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Epstein-Barr: “Justice” in a quasi-dictatorship known as the United States, Wayne DJT jeffrey epstein cheerleaders party cropped mar a logo screenshotMadsen (syndicated columnist, author and former Navy intelliegence officer), Aug. 12, 2019 (subscription required, excerpted with permission).  One of the biggest threats to Donald Trump’s presidency – his former good friend and fellow uber-wealthy sex pervert Jeffrey Epstein – died in a federal detention center in Manhattan of what was officially termed a “suicide.”

Trump and Epstein are shown in a screenshot of them ogling cheerleaders at a wild party at Mar-a-Lago, which is located about a mile from the Palm Beach mansion where Epstein and his accomplices lured scores of Florida's junior high and high school girls for sexual encounters.

ny times logoNew York Times, Before Jail Suicide, Epstein Was Not Closely Monitored, Katie Benner, Danielle Ivory, Christina Goldbaum and Ashley Southall, Aug. 12, 2019 (print ed.). The disclosures about apparent failures in Mr. Epstein’s detention deepened the questions about his suicide. It was Friday night in a protective housing unit of the federal jail in Lower Manhattan, and Jeffrey Epstein, the financier accused of trafficking girls for sex, was alone in a cell, only 11 days after he had been taken off a suicide watch.

Just that morning, thousands of documents from a civil suit had been released, providing lurid accounts accusing Mr. Epstein of sexually abusing scores of girls.

us bureau of prisons logoMr. Epstein was supposed to have been checked by the two guards in the protective housing unit every 30 minutes, but that procedure was not followed that night, a law-enforcement official with knowledge of his detention said.

In addition, because Mr. Epstein may have tried to commit suicide three weeks earlier, he was supposed to have had another inmate in his cell, three officials said. But the jail had recently transferred his cellmate and allowed Mr. Epstein to be housed alone, a decision that also violated the jail’s procedures, the two officials said.

The federal Bureau of Prisons has already come under intense criticism for not keeping Mr. Epstein under a suicide watch after he had been found in his cell on July 23 with injuries that suggested he had tried to kill himself.

The law-enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation said that when the decision was made to remove Mr. Epstein from suicide watch, the jail informed the Justice Department that Mr. Epstein would have a cellmate and that a guard “would look into his cell” every 30 minutes.

But that was apparently not done, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the death was still under investigation.

The city’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Barbara Sampson, announced on Sunday night that her office had conducted an autopsy of Mr. Epstein, but she declined to release a determination about the cause of death.

The medical examiner is confident the cause of death is suicide by hanging, but she wants more information from law enforcement before releasing her determination, a city official said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Controversy erupts over Jeffrey Epstein’s autopsy report, Bill Palmer, Aug. 12, 2019. The autopsy of Donald Trump’s friend and serial child rapist Jeffrey Epstein, who died in federal custody over the weekend of an “apparent suicide,” has been completed. But if anyone was looking for answers, it turns out all we’re getting are more questions. The results of the autopsy aren’t being announced at this time – and now a controversial figure is involved in the autopsy.

bill palmer report logo headerEpstein’s estate sent Dr. Michael Baden to perform his own autopsy, according to the Daily Beast. Why is this a big deal? Baden has been involved in the forensics of cases ranging from OJ Simpson to Michael Brown over the years. Pretty much every case he gets involved in is controversial in one way or another.

Global News

washington post logoWashington Post, The UAE’s ambitions backfire as it finds itself on the front line of U.S.-Iran tensions, Liz Sly, Aug. 12, 2019 (print ed.). One of America’s staunchest allies in the Middle East and a driving force behind President Trump’s hard-line approach to Iran is breaking ranks with Washington, calling into question how reliable an ally it would be in the event of a war between the United States and Iran.

uae embassy sealIn the weeks since the United States dispatched naval reinforcements to the Persian Gulf to deter Iranian threats to shipping, the government of the United Arab Emirates has sent a coast guard delegation to Tehran to discuss maritime security, putting it at odds with Washington’s goal of isolating Iran. After limpet mines exploded on tankers off the UAE’s coast in June, the UAE stood apart from the United States and Saudi Arabia and declined to blame Iran.

It also announced a drawdown of troops from Yemen, where, alongside Saudi Arabia, it has been battling Iranian-backed Houthis for control of the country. That opened the door this past weekend to a takeover by UAE-backed separatist militias of the U.S.-supported government in the city of Aden, a further divergence from U.S. policy.

hong kong skyline from victoria peak wikimedi Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Protesters bring Hong Kong airport to a standstill as fears grow of Chinese military crackdown, Timothy McLaughlin and Anna Kam​, Aug. 12, 2019. Officials halted all departures at the airport, affecting tens of thousands of passengers at one of the world’s busiest international hubs. Hong Kong's skyline is shown above from a view at Victoria's Peak.

washington post logoWashington Post, Guatemala elects right-wing president amid dismal turnout, Sandra Cuffe, Aug. 12, 2019. Alejandro Giammattei will inherit a nation plagued by political scandal. Guatemala is the leading country of origin of migrants and asylum seekers apprehended at the U.S. southern border.

Guatemalans on Sunday elected Alejandro Giammatteialejandro giammattei 2019 w, right, as their next president. When he takes office Jan. 14, he will inherit a nation plagued by years of political scandal, where a recent surge in migration has laid bare the monumenta l challenges ahead.

Giammattei, the right-wing Vamos party candidate who is a former prisons director, beat out former first lady Sandra Torres for the next four-year term.

The presidential runoff election came at a crucial moment — as Guatemala prepares for the possible implementation of a “safe third country” agreement with the United States, a plan touted by the Trump administration but with potentially grave consequences for a country whose own citizens are fleeing in droves.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Trial of former Obama White House counsel highlights crackdown on foreign-influence industry, Spencer S. Hsu​, Aug. 12, 2019. Gregory Craig, 74, is accused of lying to the Justice Department in connection with his work for the Ukraine government. He faces trial Monday for allegedly lying to the Justice Department in a prosecution that has shaken up the capital’s billion-dollar foreign influence industry.

In charging Craig — one of Washington’s most prominent attorneys, in connection with his work for the Ukraine government at a leading law firm — the Justice Department signaled a new era for the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a once nearly dormant law that since 2017 has been invoked in more than 20 federal prosecutions aimed at combating foreign interference in U.S. politics.

The charge against him stems from alleged public relations work, rather than lobbying, while with the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. He is accused not of failing to register as a foreign agent under the law, but with lying and withholding information from Justice officials seeking to determine whether he was required to register.

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: Trump tops 12,000 false or misleading claims in under 950 days, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, Aug. 12, 2019. The president has made 12,019 false or misleading claims, adding about 20 a day in the past two months.

The Opioid Files

washington post logoWashington Post, As overdoses soared, nearly 35 billion opioids — half of distributed pills — handled by 15 percent of pharmacies, Jenn Abelson, Andrew Ba Tran, Beth Reinhard and Aaron C. Davis, Aug. 12, 2019. An analysis from The Washington Post reveals the pharmacies that ordered the most hydrocodone and oxycodone as the epidemic raged across the nation.

2020 U.S. Politics

The Hill, Gabbard taking two weeks off from campaign trail to report for active duty, Rebecca Klar, Aug. 12, 2019. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D) is taking two weeks off the presidential campaign trail to report for active duty.

tulsi gabbard newGabbard told CBS News in an interview released Monday that she will be joining a training exercise mission in Indonesia. “I love our country, I love being able to serve our country in so many ways, including as a soldier. So while some people are telling me, like, ‘Gosh, this is a terrible time to leave the campaign, can you find a way out of it?’ You know, that's not what this is about," Gabbard, who's considered a long-shot candidate, said.

“I’m not really thinking about how this will impact my campaign, I’m looking forward to fulfill my service, my responsibility.”

The joint training exercise will focus on humanitarian aid, disaster response and counterterrorism, Gabbard told CBS. Gabbard served in Iraq from 2004 to 2005, and served in Kuwait from 2008 to 2009. She is one of three Democrats in the crowded primary field who have military experience, along with South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.).

Some Democrats have criticized Gabbard for an announced trip she took to Syria in 2017 to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Aleppo. Her primary opponent Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) called Gabbard an "apologist" for Assad.

"I have no regrets and make no apologies for pursuing diplomacy, understanding that the only alternatives to diplomacy is war," she told CBS. "We need leaders who will have the courage to meet with brutal dictators, to meet with adversaries in the pursuit of our national security, in the pursuit of keeping the American people safe, and in the pursuit of peace."

U.S. Wildlife

washington post logoWashington Post, New Trump rules weaken wildlife protections, shrink habitats that animals and plants rely on for survival, Darryl Fears​, Aug. 12, 2019. The changes to the Endangered Species Act come months after a U.N. report warned that 1 million species face extinction because of human activity.

Aug. 11

New Reporting On Epstein

washington post logoWashington Post, Epstein’s death leaves prosecutors with prime target: Ghislaine Maxwell, Marc Fisher, Aug. 11, 2019. According to many of the women who have spoken about what the financier allegedly did to them, Maxwell was Jeffrey Epstein’s chief co-conspirator. She has not been charged and has denied any wrongdoing. People familiar with the investigation said authorities have had trouble locating her.

Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell, 2001

For someone who stood by Epstein through the most sordid allegations, Maxwell was also a factor in his downfall: It was through a 2015 defamation lawsuit filed against Maxwell by one of Epstein’s alleged victims, Virginia Roberts Giuffre that thousands of pages of documents containing detailed accounts of Epstein’s alleged abuses became public last week.

Guiffre, who says she was recruited by Maxwell after being a towel-girl at Trump's Mar-a-Lago club , is shown at center in a 2001 photo with Maxwell at right and Prince Andrew, Duke of York.

Johanna Sjoberg, a student at Palm Beach Atlantic University when she said Maxwell hired her as an assistant, said in a 2015 deposition that was released Friday that it was Maxwell’s job to ensure that three girls a day were made available to Epstein for his sexual pleasure.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘It was inevitable’: Officers watching Epstein were on overtime due to jail staffing shortage, union president says, Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, Aug. 11, 2019. Giuffre said Maxwell recruited her in 2000, when she was 16 or 17 and working at Donald Trump’s Palm Beach club, Mar-a-Lago. Jeffrey Epstein’s autopsy was completed Sunday, but the medical examiner said she has not made a determination about his cause of death and is awaiting “further information.”

Trump Watch: Immigration Judges

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Administration Moves to Muffle Border Judges, Christina Goldbaum, Aug. 11, 2019 (print ed.). The Justice Department has moved to decertify the union of immigration judges, a maneuver that could muffle an organization whose members have sometimes been openly critical of the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement agenda.

ICE logoThe department filed a petition on Friday asking the Federal Labor Relations Authority to determine whether the union, the National Association of Immigration Judges, should have its certification revoked because its members are considered “management officials” ineligible to collectively organize, according to a Justice Department spokesman.

The move suggested escalating tensions between overwhelmed immigration judges desperate for greater resources and a Justice Department pushing them to quickly address a backlog of immigration cases.

“This is a misguided effort to minimize our impact,” said Judge Amiena Khan, vice president of the judges’ union, which has publicly criticized the use of a quota system in immigration court and other attempts to speed up proceedings.

U.S. Politics / Trump

TheHill.com, Scaramucci fires back at Trump: He will turn 'on everyone' and then 'entire country,' Justin Wise, Aug. 11, 2019. Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci denounced President Trump early Sunday, arguing that he would eventually turn on everyone in his circle.

anthony scaramucci salt conference 2016 cropped"For the last 3 years I have fully supported this President," Scaramucci said on Twitter. "Recently he has said things that divide the country in a way that is unacceptable. So I didn’t pass the 100% litmus test. Eventually he turns on everyone and soon it will be you and then the entire country."

The comments from Scaramucci came less than 24 hours after Trump railed against the former White House aide over his recent comments about the administration.

Scaramucci last week called Trump's visit to El Paso, Texas to meet with survivors of a mass shooting a "catastrophe."

"Anthony Scaramucci, who was quickly terminated (11 days) from a position that he was totally incapable of handling, now seems to do nothing but television as the all time expert on 'President Trump.'" Trump tweeted late Saturday night.

He added that Scaramucci "knows very little about me...other than the fact that this Administration has probably done more than any other Administration in its first 2 1/2 years of existence."

donald trump twitter"Anthony, who would do anything to come back in, should remember the only reason he is on TV, and it’s not for being the Mooch!" Trump said.

Scaramucci was ousted from his job as White House communications director in July 2017 after a chaotic 11-day stint. In the years since, he hasn't hesitated to criticize the administration while appearing on television talk shows.

msnbc logo CustomAppearing on MSNBC last Thursday, the former Trump aide said that the president's trip to El Paso was a "catastrophe."

“Maybe he’ll tweet something negative about somebody for saying he didn’t do well, but the facts are he did not do well on the trip because if the trip is being made about him and not the demonstration of compassion and love and caring and empathy for those people, then it becomes a catastrophe for him, the administration, and it’s also a bad reflection on the country," Scaramucci said.

After Trump attacked four minority congresswoman last month, Scaramucci said that the president could be "turning into" a racist.

"I don't think the president is a racist," Scaramucci said on BBC's "Today." "But here's the thing, if you continue to say and act in that manner, then we all have to look at him and say, OK, well, maybe you weren't a racist, but now you're turning into one."

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just picked a fight with Anthony Scaramucci and somehow managed to lose, Bill Palmer, Aug. 11, 2019. Regardless of whatever competent things he may have done in his other walks of life, most people will remember Anthony Scaramucci as the bill palmer report logo headerguy who was so astoundingly bad at being a political adviser, he only managed to last eleven days in a Trump White House where just about anything goes.

But now Donald Trump has picked a fight with The Mooch, and has somehow managed to lose.

washington post logoWashington Post, American fencer kneels on medal stand during anthem, tweets about Trump and gun control, Jacob Bogage, Aug. 11, 2019 (print ed.). A member of the U.S. fencing team knelt on the podium during the national anthem and medal ceremony Friday at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, saying on Twitter: "We must call for change.”

Race Imboden, an Olympic medalist and part of the men’s foil team that won gold at the Pan American Games, wrote on Twitter that he was honored to represent Team USA at the event, but his pride was “cut short” by “shortcomings” of his country.

“Racism, Gun Control, mistreatment of immigrants, and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list," he wrote in a series of tweets. "I chose to [sacrifice] my moment today at the top of the podium to call attention to issues that I believe need to be addressed. I encourage others to please use your platforms for empowerment and change.”

Epstein Death Commentaries (Continued)

TheHill.com, Opinion: Jeffrey Epstein's suicide makes no sense, Bernard B. Kerik (right, former New York City corrections commissioner and poliice chief) Aug. 10, 2019. Accused pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s death bernard kerik portraitthis morning — reportedly a suicide, according to federal officials — is an inexplicable end to a bizarre, tragic case that only got more disturbing the more we learned about it.

The fact that one of the country’s highest-profile federal prisoners could even commit suicide defies all logic and belief.

His death raises doubts about officials’ actions. The FBI says it will investigate; Attorney General William Barr says he is “appalled” by what happened; members of Congress such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) are demanding answers. Indeed we all need answers, before we lose all faith in our justice system.

But the most basic question, in my mind, is why Epstein was in solitary confinement in the first place — something so totally inappropriate for a prisoner already at risk of suicide.

Epstein, a billionaire financier with powerful friends in the worlds of business and politics, pleaded guilty in Florida in 2008 to sex crimes and served a few months in jail. He was reindicted this summer in New York on charges of sex trafficking underage girls and had been in federal custody ever since.

He tried to commit suicide less than two weeks ago and, we were told, was placed in solitary confinement and under a suicide watch.

So how in the world could he commit suicide?

There is a valid use for solitary confinement in a penal institution. If you’re a threat to the institution or a threat to its staff, an escape risk or a threat to national security, then solitary confinement should be considered.

But not in this case. Jeffrey Epstein — in spite of his previous pleas or the new, serious charges — was none of the above.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons, which had custody over Epstein, and federal prosecutors certainly knew his earlier suicide attempt was real. Yet, instead of putting him into an administrative segregation unit — into a real, true suicide watch — they put him into solitary confinement and, in so doing, enabled him to finish what he had tried before.

Was that their intent? Who knows, but it raises serious questions about his death and the investigation surrounding him.

There is nothing worse than taking a suicidal prisoner and sticking him into a solitary confinement cell. Common sense and any psychologist, any corrections professional, will tell you that — so why was it done in this instance?

In solitary confinement there is a 15-minute “watch” rule, but that is not the same as a “suicide watch.” A prisoner can asphyxiate himself in 90 seconds and, after eight minutes or so, he will be brain dead.

That’s exactly why around-the-clock supervision is necessary when a prisoner is classified as suicidal. And it requires constant supervision, in person or by technology — cameras.

So why was Epstein placed in “solitary” in the first place? After his first attempt, were his cell and his supervision changed? Was he watched constantly by cameras in his cell, or only checked sporadically? Was he allowed to have objects that he could use to attempt suicide again, after having done so once before? How could a prisoner hang himself — as Epstein did, according to early reports — and no guard would immediately see it or react? Why, given his previous attempt and all of the issues surrounding his case, wasn’t a supervisory officer watching him constantly and able to respond immediately?

None of this makes any sense, at least at this point.

The crime here — in my mind, with what is known at this point — is that Epstein was placed in solitary confinement at all. The government often uses every tool in its power to ensure you never have a fair day’s fight in court, including the use of psychological tools to force you to plead guilty or to force you to cooperate with the government.

But one thing already is crystal clear: There are flaws and failures in the U.S. criminal justice system that should disturb all of us. And in Jeffrey Epstein’s case, none of it makes any sense.

Bernard B. Kerik was the first deputy and commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction, 1995-2000. As commissioner of the NYPD from 2000 through 2001, he oversaw its response to the 9/11 attack. He pleaded guilty in 2006 to ethics violations and was fined, then pleaded guilty in 2009 to eight federal charges, including tax fraud and false statements, which led to his 48-month sentence in a federal prison. He is the founder of the Kerik Group, providing homeland security, police and correctional training, criminal justice and prison-reform strategies.

Jeffrey Epstein's friend Leslie Wexner (via cropped screenshot of remarks at American Academy of Achievement

Retail mogul Leslie Wexner, Jeffrey Epstein's friend (via cropped screenshot of remarks at American Academy of Achievement

SouthFront, Jeffrey Epstein RIP: But Many More Questions Remain to be Answered, Philip M. Giraldi (former CIA officer), right, Aug. 11, 2019. The Jeffrey Epstein saga philip giraldigoes on even though convicted pedophile Epstein himself has been found hanged in his jail cell in Manhattan.

So, he is dead but did he do it himself or was he helped? There are many prominent individuals and powerful government agencies that will be very pleased that he is gone as most of his secrets will have gone to the grave with him.

There was certainly a warning that something might happen. Two weeks ago, he was reportedly found unconscious in his jail cell with marks around his neck. It was suggested that he might have tried to kill himself or, alternatively, had been beaten up by another inmate. There was also considerable speculation that some aggrieved part of the Deep State was trying to kill him to silence him.

The subsequent press reports revealed that Epstein had been taken to a hospital, but there has been no follow-up about his condition or status apart from a brief note that he had been returned to the same jail under suicide watch. In any event, the story had pretty much died, which is precisely what a lot of the high rollers and politicians who became involved with Epstein would have liked to see happen. Nevertheless, investigations of the “Affair Epstein” reportedly were continuing at the federal level as well as in New York State and Florida.

The most recent elaboration of the Epstein saga prior to his death came from his former patron Leslie Wexner, the canny Jewish business tycoon who built an Ohio based fashion empire called L Brands from scratch. L Brands, by the way, includes Victoria’s Secret, which features young women strutting around in their underwear. The 81 year old Wexner claimed in a 564 word letter that the wily Epstein “misappropriated vast sums of money” from him. In the letter Wexner admitted to having lost at least $46 million from his family money, but some media accounts are suggesting that the fraud amounted to much more, possibly as much as $500 million. And the alleged theft also extended to property, to include the series of transactions that left Epstein possessing the Upper East Side mansion where he resided and did his filming of celebrities having sex with young girls, estimated to be worth $56 million, as well as the commercial airliner that became the Lolita Express and a yacht.

My belief that Jeffrey Epstein was an intelligence agent is based principally on Acosta’s comments when being cleared by the Trump transition team. He was asked “Is the Epstein case going to cause a problem [for confirmation hearings]?” … “Acosta testified that he’d had just one meeting on the Epstein case. He’d cut the non-prosecution deal with one of Epstein’s attorneys because he had ‘been told’ to back off, that Epstein was above his pay grade. ‘I was told Epstein belonged to intelligence and to leave it alone.’”

The questions about Epstein remain even though he is gone, but one fears that the authorities will be disinclined to further investigate a dead man. It appears that no one in the various investigative agencies or the mainstream media has been interested in what Acosta meant, even though it would be simple enough to ask him. Who told him to back off? And how did they explain it? And then there is Epstein’s Austrian passport. Was it fake or real, with a real name and photo substitution or alternation of both picture and name? How did he get it? Austrian passports are highly desirable in intelligence circles because the country is neutral and its holders can travel just about everywhere without a visa.

mossad seal CustomAnd there’s more. As a former intelligence officer myself, there is little doubt in my mind that what Epstein did and how he did it was an intelligence operation. There is no other viable explanation for his filming of prominent politicians and celebrities having sex with young girls. And as for the question of whom Epstein might have been working for, the most likely answer is Mossad. The CIA would have had no interest in compiling dossiers on prominent Americans, but American movers and shakers like Bill Clinton, with his 26 trips on the Lolita Express, former Governor Bill Richardson, or former Senator George Mitchell are precisely the types of “agents of influence” that the Mossad would seek to coerce or even blackmail into cooperation.

Other compelling evidence for a Mossad connection came from Epstein’s relationship with Ghislaine Maxwell, who reportedly served as his key procurer of young girls. Ghislaine is the daughter of Robert Maxwell, who died or possibly was assassinated in mysterious circumstances in 1991. Maxwell was an Anglo-Jewish businessman, very cosmopolitan in profile, like Epstein, a multi-millionaire who was very controversial with what were regarded as ongoing ties to Mossad. After his death, he was given a state funeral by Israel in which six serving and former heads of Israeli intelligence listened while Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir eulogized: “He has done more for Israel than can today be said.”

Israel and high-profile Jewish players also have continued to turn up like bad pennies in the Epstein case, but no one seems to be interested in pursuing that angle. Epstein clearly had contact with former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak and Wexner also had close tiesto the Jewish state and its government.

barry krischer alex acosta CustomBarry Krischer, who may have been the source of the comments to Acosta (shown at right with Krischer in file photos), has received the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) award. Evidence also suggests that Krischer, cooperating with rabidly pro-Israel Epstein lawyer Alan Dershowitz, played a key role in the failure to adequately punish Epstein for his conviction for pedophilia.

According to a recent New Yorker story, the police investigators of the Epstein case observed that “the tone and tenor of the discussions of this case with Krischer changed completely” after his meetings with Dershowitz. At that point, the two detectives most involved in the case found themselves under extreme pressure. They were surveilled constantly by private investigators and they even had their household trash snatched and searched. And the resulting plea agreement with Krischer “…was due to the efforts of Dershowitz, who had proceeded to attack and smear the victims.”

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer, is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, which seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide is unfathomable, Harry Litman (a law professor, right, and former U.S. harry litman msnbc screenshotattorney and deputy assistant attorney general), Aug. 11, 2019 (print ed.). For anyone familiar with Bureau of Prisons standard operating procedures, Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide is more than mysterious; it is unfathomable.

The 66-year-old accused sex trafficker was found dead in his prison cell at the Metropolitan Correction Center (MCC) Saturday morning, apparently after having hanged himself.

The Bureau of Prisons, the federal agency that runs the MCC, has said the FBI will investigate. Epstein’s death almost certainly means that astounding blunders occurred, perhaps by multiple personnel at the Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

If any prisoner in the federal system should have been a candidate for suspicion of suicide, it was the high-profile and disgraced Epstein. All administrative and structural measures should have been in place to ensure it could not happen. And yet it apparently did.

First, consider the MCC itself. It is a high-rise, forbidding administrative detention facility in the south of Manhattan. Its population consists almost entirely of prisoners, like Epstein, awaiting trial in federal court in Manhattan. It has been referred to as the “Guantanamo of New john gotti mug shotsYork” for its stringent security measures. It is the facility of choice for notorious federal defendants, often in special administrative segregation units, having previously housed John Gotti (shown in 1990 mug shots), Bernard Madoff, Omar Abdel Rahman and, recently, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.

In other words, it is the very place to put a high-profile and potentially suicidal defendant such as Epstein.

Second, consider the BOP’s suicide prevention protocol. Epstein was found last month unconscious in his MCC cell with marks on his neck. If he was not on suicide watch, it would be astonishing. Yet if he were on suicide watch, his death would be virtually inconceivable.

The BOP’s suicide prevention protocol entails, first and foremost, human eyes on the prisoner 24 hours a day. It also requires a strict deprivation of anything — shoelaces, sheets, pillowcases — that could possibly be used to hang oneself. It also requires disabling anything that could be used to tie a noose — vents, sprinkler heads, etc.

Finally, we are not talking about inexperienced yokels. BOP personnel, especially at MCC, are the best professionals in the corrections industry, and they receive special training in administrating suicide prevention. Who better to guard against such a horrific development?

At this point, questions abound, and BOP has to address them promptly.

  • The first: Was Epstein on suicide watch, and if not, why not?
  • The second: How exactly did Epstein manage to kill himself, and why exactly was it that he had access to the tools?
  • Third, is there a video of Epstein’s cell at the crucial time? There should be, and it will reveal exactly how and when Epstein killed himself.
  • jeffrey epstein trumps cropped ghislaine maxwell Photo by Davidoff Studios Getty Images vanity fair

    Jeffery Epstein,  highlighted, with the Trumps and Ghislaine Maxwell, right (Photo by Davidoff Studios/Getty Images)

David Talbot via Facebook, Opinion: The "suicide" of Jeffrey Epstein, David Talbot (right, best-selling author of "The Devil's Chessboard," david talbot facebook"Season of the Witch" and "Brothers" and Founder of the Salon Media Group), Aug. 11, 2019 (updated). Well, it's official —- we now live in a criminal, lawless nation where people who know too much about the sleazy lives of the rich and powerful can be "suicided" to death — even when they're on suicide watch in a New York City jail cell!

The "suicide" of Jeffrey Epstein — oh what the hell, let's call it what it really was, a politically necessary execution — reeks of the "suicide" of Craig Spence back in 1989.

Spence, below, a Republican lobbyist with deep ties to the Reagan presidency, ran a Washington call-boy service and, like Epstein, had the craig spencegoods on many of America's decadent elite. After his sex racket exploded in the headlines, Spence told friends he would probably be murdered — a termination that would be called a suicide. And guess what? In November 1989, Spence was indeed found "suicided" in a Ritz Carlton hotel room in Boston.

The list of prominent names on whom Jeffrey Epstein had secret dirt — including video and photos — is endless. It includes, of course, Donald Trump and Bill Clinton. And Epstein's ties to intelligence services, including U.S. and Israeli agencies, are equally obvious.This is how the elite — and the secret police under their command — operate. Key witnesses get paid off or permanently disappeared. But the Epstein case is so fucking obvious it shows that the U.S. oligarchy has become so cocky it doesn't even pretend to be lawful anymore.

A final note on this flaming conspiracy to silence the latest man who knew too much.

For decades, the corporate media have been ridiculing and condemning those who believe that power in the U.S. often operates in darkly clandestine ways. The New York Times, Washington Post, TV networks et al have worked feverishly to marginalize the deep investigative work done by citizen researchers and independent journalists (including me) to shed light on the national security assassination of President Kennedy. Eye-opening investigations into 9/11 — and the undeniable web of connections between Saudi royalty and the hijackers, U.S. agencies' foreknowledge of the hijacker plots, and the Bush-Cheney administration's coverup of inconvenient 9/11 truths — also are routinely blacked out by the mainstream media.

But in the wake of this Epstein bombshell, now, the C-word (as in conspiracy) is even creeping into the prose of NY Times columnists like Paul Krugman. Sometimes the criminality at the top of America becomes so brazen, so obvious that even our press watchdogs are stirred from their slumber.

robert maxwell with papers fileThere is much information that suggests a connection between Epstein and Israeli intelligence. His top deputy and procuress was Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of the late Robert Maxwell, left, — British media tycoon, swindler and spy (for Israeli and British intelligence). Epstein was also set up mysteriously in the high-end investment game — despite being woefully unqualified — by the lingerie billionaire Les Wexner, a major benefactor of Israel, whose large mossad seal Customdonations to Ehud Barak have become an issue in the current Israeli election.

Epstein was also infamously and aggressively defended by lawyer Alan Dershowitz, a prominent spokesman for the Israeli government. Epstein was operating a classic "honeytrap" -- spy parlance for a sex trap that ensnares powerful peopIe and makes them vulnerable to blackmail from security agencies. I should note that I don't believe Mossad would operate on U.S. soil without agreement or even partnership with US intelligence.

jeffrey epstein gurney cropped emergency room

New York Post, Jeffrey Epstein could have ‘paid’ for help with suicide: Former Gotti pal, Brad Hamilton, Aug. 11, 2019. The jail where Jeffrey Epstein (shown on an emergency room gurney on Aug. 10 in an uncredited photo via Twitter) apparently hanged himself was a nest of corruption in the early ’90s, according to one of late mobster John Gotti Sr.’s top associates — who insists it’s still a place where almost anything can be bought if you have the bucks.

“If he killed himself someone had to have helped him,” said Lewis Kasman, a onetime close confidant of the Dapper Don who visited the godfather several times at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in 1992.

“There are cameras going 24/7 and they’re watching 24/7. Someone had to give [Epstein] the equipment to kill himself and he had to pay for it dearly,” said Kasman, who has kept abreast of conditions in the lockup.

Kasman added: “That facility for years had issues of corruption, with correction officers bringing in food or cellphones for wealthy people.”

The former Gambino bean counter noted that Gotti, who did time both in the jail’s 9 South and 10 South units, its most secure wings, still managed to get his favorite steak dinner sneaked in: “He had Peter Luger’s whenever he wanted.”

william barr new oKasman said he heard US Attorney General William Barr, right, personally made a hush-hush trip to the MCC two weeks ago, about the time Epstein was found in his cell with bruises around his neck. “When does that happen?” he asked. “The attorney general never visits jails. Something’s not right there.”

Kasman said the facility was “totally disgusting — worse than Guantanamo Bay.” “There are roaches crawling all over you — in every orifice — when you sleep. The Bureau of Prisons’ answer to that is that they can’t spray. It’s toxic.”

New York Magazine, A Former U.S. Attorney on Where Epstein’s Legal Cases Will Go After His Death, Matt Stieb, Aug. 10, 2019. Facing a criminal case for sex trafficking and sex-trafficking conspiracy, multiple civil cases by alleged victims, and a Department of Justice inquiry into his wrist-slap plea deal in Florida, Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide has opened a flurry of questions about the future status of his legal proceedings.

As for the criminal charges, those are effectively kaput: As former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti explains, “Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide ends the criminal case against him because no one else was charged in the indictment.”

Many questions — not to mention full-blown conspiracy theories — remain. How much more about Epstein’s alleged sex-trafficking ring will come to light? Will others be indicted? What might we find out from the FBI and Department of Justice inquiries into Epstein’s suicide? To help weigh these questions, Intelligencer spoke with former U.S. Attorney and New York contributor Barbara McQuade about where the legal proceedings involving the sex offender go from here.

Other questions asked and answered:

  • How much information about Epstein and his co-conspirators will never be known because the criminal case against him closes with his death?
  • What about Epstein’s knowledge, now lost, of his own alleged crimes? I’m thinking about passwords, knowing where records are, information like that.
  • Does his death make it less likely that charges will be brought against other people?
  • How might this affect the civil cases by his victims against his estate, or the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General investigation into the plea deal?

Vanity Fair, Trump’s Epstein Response: The Clintons Are Definitely Pedophile Murderers, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Aug. 11, 2019. The president plumbed new depths by retweeting conspiracy theories about Epstein’s suicide, in lieu of making a public statement.

Accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide was shocking enough without factoring in how President Trump might react to it. The commander-in-chief and former Epstein confidant was perhaps uncharacteristically quiet in the weeks following the disgraced financier’s arrest this summer, especially as rumors swirled that Epstein held dirt on some of the world’s most powerful people. How then, would he respond to news of Epstein’s shocking demise?

Why, by accusing a former president and ex-political opponent of subverting his own justice department to arrange Epstein’s murder, of course. That’s just where we are now.

Hours after word of Epstein’s death by suicide arrived, Trump broke any semblance of restraint, indirectly addressing his former Mar-A-Lago buddy-turned-political liability. Rather than issuing a prepared statement, the president opted to retweet self-proclaimed comedian and commentator Terrence K. Williams’s assertion that Bill and Hillary Clinton were behind Epstein’s death.

“Died of SUICIDE on 24/7 SUICIDE WATCH ? Yeah right! How does that happen,” Williams wrote, citing reports of Epstein’s association with Bill Clinton and a #TrumpBodyCount hashtag that had circulated earlier. “#JefferyEpstein had information on Bill Clinton & now he’s dead. I see #TrumpBodyCount trending but we know who did this! RT if you’re not Surprised #EpsteinSuicide #ClintonBodyCount #ClintonCrimeFamily.”

Immediately before that, Trump also retweeted a post from BNL News that read “BREAKING: Documents were unsealed yesterday revealing that top Democrats, including Bill Clinton, took private trips to Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘pedophilia island.’” Trump also squeezed in a contented jab about pushing back on media narratives.

Trump’s tweets served as yet more evidence of the president’s tendency to embrace unfounded conspiracy theories targeting his political enemies; previously, he winked at intimations that Texas senator Ted Cruz’s father killed JFK, and spent years embracing the racist allegation that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. While the Friday release of court documents related to Epstein’s alleged sex-trafficking did place Bill Clinton — and Trump himself — as a passenger on several of Epstein’s flights, there have been precisely zero corroborated links between Epstein’s alleged crimes and Clinton, and nothing suggesting that the Clintons, who for decades have been accused of all manner of criminal conspiracies, could have a hand in Epstein’s death.

“President Clinton knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York,” Clinton spokesman Angel Urena said in response to speculation about the former president’s connection to the disgraced financier last month. "He’s not spoken to Epstein in well over a decade, and has never been to Little St. James Island, Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico, or his residence in Florida.”

LewRockwell.com, What Do All These People Have In Common? Charles Burris, Aug. 11, 2019:

James Forrestal (1949), Frank Olson (1953), Ernest Hemingway (1961), Josefa Johnson (1961), Henry Marshall (1961), Marilyn Monroe (1962), Phillip Graham (1963), John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1963), J. D. Tippet (1963), Lee Harvey Oswald (1963), Karyn Kupcinet (1963), Grant Stockdale (1963), Gary Underhill ( 1964), Bill Hunter (1964), Jim Koethe (1964), Guy Bannister (1964), Mary Sherman (1964), Mary Pinchot Meyer (1964), Malcolm X (1965), Dorothy Kilgallen (1965), Lisa Howard (1965), Nancy Carole Tyler (1965), Lee Bowers (1966), Desmond FitzGerald (1967), David Ferrie (1967), Eladio del Valle (1967), Jack Ruby (1967), Martin Luther King (1968), Robert Francis Kennedy (1968), Thomas Merton (1968), Mary Jo Kopechne (1969), Winston Scott (1971), Malcolm Wallace (1971), Lucien Sarti (1972), Thomas Davis (1973), Richard Cain (1973), Dave Yarras (1974), Sam Giancana (1975), Jimmy Hoffa (1975), Roland Masferrer (1975), Johnny Roselli (1976), George De Mohrenschildt (1977), Charlie Nicoletti (1977), Carlos Prio (1977), William Sullivan (1977), Nelson Rockefeller (1979), Frank Nugan (1980), Jimmy Hoffa (1982), Kevin Mulcahy (1982), Vicki Morgan (1983), Danny Casalaro (1991), Vince Foster (1993), Kenneth Trentadue (1995), William Colby (1996), Ron Brown (1996), Steve Kangas (1999), Katharine Graham (2001), Gary Webb (2004), Michael Kreca (2006), Robert Vesco (2007?), Deborah Jeane Palfrey (2008), Antonin Scalia (2016), and Seth Rich (2016).

Like Jeffrey Epstein, they all died from very suspicious deaths.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Bill Barr just gave something away about Jeffrey Epstein’s death, Bill Palmer, Aug. 10, 2019. Donald Trump’s cartoonishly corrupt Attorney General Bill Barr has issued a statement sayin he’s “appalled” that Jeffrey Epstein died while in federal custody, and he’s going to get to the bottom of what really happened. This statement was met with well-deserved eye rolls across the board – but he actually gave something away in the process.

bill palmer report logo headerNo one believes that Bill Barr wants to get to the bottom of Jeffrey Epstein’s death. This is the same guy who “got to the bottom” of the Mueller Report, the Trump-Cohen payoff scandal, and the death of Eric Garner by burying the investigations as best he could. But whatever happened to Epstein, this whole thing has become bigger than Barr. It turns out Barr knows it, too.

In his statement, Bill Barr said it’s the Department of Justice Inspector General who will be handling the investigation into Epstein’s death. Why does this matter? In general, the Inspector General is the one person in the DOJ with a degree of autonomy from the Attorney General’s influence.

michael horwitz headshotMore to the point, Inspector General Michael Horowitz, right, has consistently shown that he’s unwilling to protect the Trump regime or anyone else. In his IG report into the Hillary Clinton email investigation, he essentially said there should have been no email investigation to begin with, shutting down Trump’s insistence that the FBI went easy on Clinton. Recently, Horowitz announced that James Comey didn’t break any laws by coming forward about Trump’s crimes, shutting down Trump’s insistence that Comey was a criminal leaker.

By handing off the investigation into Jeffrey Epstein’s death to the DOJ Inspector General, Bill Barr is throwing up his hands and letting this go wherever it’s going to go. Barr is giving away that he knows this whole thing is far bigger than he is, and that he can’t stop this from heading wherever it’s heading.

Aug. 10

Epstein Dead

jeffrey epstein new mug cropped july 2019

ny times logoNew York Times, Jeffrey Epstein Commits Suicide at Manhattan Jail, William K. Rashbaum, Aug. 10, 2019. Mr. Epstein, the financier indicted on sex trafficking charges last month, hung himself and his body was found this morning.

Epstein, shown in his mug shot, the financier indicted on sex trafficking charges last month, committed suicide at a Manhattan jail, officials said on Saturday.

Mr. Epstein hung himself and his body was found this morning at roughly 7:30 a.m.

Manhattan federal prosecutors last month charged Mr. Epstein, 66, with sex trafficking of girls as young as 14, and details of his behavior have been emerging for years.

New Epstein Revelations

jeffrey epstein trumps cropped ghislaine maxwell Photo by Davidoff Studios Getty Images vanity fair

Jeffery Epstein,  highlighted, with the Trumps and Ghislaine Maxwell, right (Photo by Davidoff Studios/Getty Images)

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘She was shaking’: Court filings describe system Jeffrey Epstein allegedly used to procure girls, Beth Reinhard, Marc Fisher, Tom Hamburger and Carol D. Leonnig, Aug. 10, 2019 (print ed.).  Newly unsealed documents lay out disturbing details about the financier’s alleged abuse and the number of people in his orbit who could have observed them.

Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell, 2001He demanded sex three times a day. A parade of powerful figures visited his private estates, which were adorned with pictures of naked girls and stocked with sex toys. And the schedules of teenagers on call to give him massages at his Palm Beach, Fla., mansion were documented in phone messages from his assistants.

Roberts, at center, claimed that Epstein farmed her out to other men, including Prince Andrew of the British royal family, left. The California native said the photo at left portrays her at center with Prince Andrew, also known as the Duke of York, on a trip to London when she was 17 in 2001. At right was Ghislaine Maxwell, the socialite daughter of the corrupt newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell, who drowned in 1991 after toppling overboard from his yacht Lady Ghislaine. 

Those and other claims about financier Jeffrey Epstein unsealed in court filings Friday lay out disturbing details both about his alleged activities and the number of people in his orbit who could have observed them, raising new questions about how the sex abuse charges against the multimillionaire were previously handled.

Epstein, who is now facing federal sex trafficking charges involving the alleged abuse of dozens of minors, previously pleaded guilty in Florida state court to two felony counts, serving about 13 months in jail. A federal judge ruled in February that the prosecution team led by then-U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta, who recently resigned as President Trump’s labor secretary, violated the rights of alleged victims by failing to notify them of an agreement not to bring federal charges.

Epstein Death Details

jeffrey epstein gurney cropped emergency room

New York Post, Jeffrey Epstein dead in apparent suicide, Larry Celona and Eileen AJ Connelly, Aug. 10, 2019. Convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein (shown on an emergency room gurney on Aug. 10 in an uncredited photo via Twitter) died overnight in an apparent suicide, law enforcement sources told the Post Saturday.

A gurney carrying a man who looked like Epstein was wheeled into New York Downtown Hospital around 7:30 a.m. A call for a reported cardiac arrest came in at 6:38 a.m., Fire Department sources said. Two weeks ago, Epstein, 66, was placed on suicide watch after he was found nearly unconscious in his cell with injuries to his neck.

The multimillionaire financier was being held without bail pending trial on child sex-trafficking charges. Epstein was busted July 6 over the alleged sexual abuse of dozens of young girls in his Upper East Side townhouse and his waterfront mansion in Palm, Beach, Florida, between 2002 and 2005. He pleaded not guilty and faced up to 45 years in prison.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jeffrey Epstein dead after apparent suicide in New York jail, Matt Zapotosky and Renae Merle, Aug. 10, 2019 (at 11:43 AM). What you need to know about disgraced billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.

Jeffrey Epstein, the politically connected financier and registered sex offender charged recently with sexually abusing dozens of young girls in the early 2000s, has died by apparent suicide while in jail and the FBI is investigating, the Bureau of Prisons said Saturday.

Epstein, 66, was found unresponsive in his cell in the special housing unit of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City about 6:30 a.m., the Bureau of Prisons said. Lifesaving measures “were initiated immediately by responding staff,” who then requested aid from emergency medical services, the bureau said.

Epstein was transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the bureau said. ABC News, which first reported the incident, said that Epstein had hanged himself.

The Bureau of Prisons called the death an “apparent suicide,” though one official cautioned that the investigation was in its early stages and no final determination had been made. Aja Davis, a spokeswoman for the New York City Medical Examiner, said that her office was investigating the death.

Daily Mail, Billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, 66, kills himself in his Manhattan jail cell, 24 hours after files in his case were unsealed and two weeks after he was placed on suicide watch ahead of his sex trafficking trial, Andrew Court, Aug. 10, 2019.

  • Jeffrey Epstein has hanged himself inside his New York City jail cell
  • He was discovered by prison guards in cardiac arrest on Saturday morning, and was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead
  • Epstein was arrested on July 6 on charges of conspiracy and sex trafficking, and was being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center without bail
  • He was reportedly placed on suicide watch following after a first suicide attempt on July 24
  • Epstein's death comes just 24 hours after court documents detailing his sexual abuse of underage girls were unsealed by the courts
  • The explosive documents included claims from Epstein's alleged 'sex slave' that she was required to have intercourse with a number of powerful men

LauraLoomer.us, Opinion: AUDIO: Jeffrey Epstein DEAD FOR HOURS On Suicide Watch With Cameras In Cell Before EMS Arrived, Laura Loomer, Aug. 10, 2019 at 11 a.m. (EDT). People are asking how Jeffrey Epstein “committed suicide” when he was on suicide watch and being monitored by multiple guards and cameras.

Exclusive sources for LauraLoomer.us tell us that at around 6:20 am EST, Manhattan Correctional Center (MCC) requested First Responders for an inmate who was found unresponsive.

Jeffrey Epstein, 66, was found unresponsive this morning in his cell in his bed, and was cold to touch when correctional officers entered to wake him for breakfast. Our sources say that there were no injuries visible and they began chest compressions while EMS were en route.

Epstein was being detained for his upcoming trial for child and human sex trafficking and a barrage of other charges. Sources tell us that food vendors, all correctional officers who have been in contact with Epstein, as well as his water supply are being investigated following his suspicious death that is being reproted as a suicide.

Two weeks ago in a declared failed attempt to commit suicide, Epstein was placed on suicide watch. This means that aside from his cell being monitored remotely 24 hours a day by at least TWO cameras in his cell, 30 min round checks were also conducted by correctional officers.

There are reports from MSM claiming that Epstein hung himself which are categorically FALSE. Epstein’s body was cold to touch which means he had been dead for at least 4 hours, and if he had hung himself, one of the TWO cameras in his cell would have alerted the officers monitoring them. The reports being pushed through MSM are contradictory to that which our exclusive sources and the EMS recording states.

There would not have been a way for Epstein to commit suicide because while on suicide watch, one does not have clothes, bed sheets, or shoelaces. Inmates on suicide watch only have a smock and a hole in the ground for using the restroom.

Under the Metropolitan Correctional Center’s policy regarding inmates on suicide watch, prisoners on suicide watch are to be kept under “direct, continuous observation.”

Epstein was dead for hours before EMS responded because his body was stone cold, according to EMS. How did Epstein die if guards were watching him continuously? If they were watching him continuously and he did commit suicide, then one of those things isn’t true.

Epstein wouldn’t have been able to commit suicide if he truly was being watched continuously, which means foul play is likely involved…

Even if Epstein didn’t commit suicide (because let’s be honest, nobody believes Epstein actually committed suicide), if he was being watched continuously like he was supposed to be, according to the prison protocol, how did it takes hours for guards to realize he was dead?

Epstein was found in his cell at around 6:25 a.m on Saturday morning. According to the audio recording from EMS that was reporting back to the dispatch at 6:33 am, Epstein was stiff/cold, meaning he had been dead for a while.

Listen to audio after 2 min and 40 sec where dispatchers confirm that Epstein was stiff and cold.

Epstein was found cold and unresponsive by EMS and was not considered a patient even though EMS is heard saying “working cold”. Sources also tell us no apparent injuries were visible on Epstein’s body, making it unclear how his death has been deemed suicide already without an autopsy.

NBC News, Jeffrey Epstein is dead by apparent suicide in federal jail, Justice Department investigating, Tom Winter, Jonathan Dienst and Phil nbc news logoMcCausland, Aug. 10, 2019. Attorney General William Barr said he was "appalled to learn that Jeffrey Epstein was found dead" and that his death "raises serious questions that must be answered."

Jeffrey Epstein, the millionaire financier and accused sex trafficker, died by apparent suicide Saturday morning while in federal custody, according to the U.S. Justice Department. Epstein, 66, was in his federal jail cell in downtown Manhattan but was not on suicide watch at the time of his death, multiple people familiar with the investigation told NBC News. He had apparently hanged himself, and was found unresponsive at around 6:30 a.m. ET.

william barr new oAttorney General William Barr, right, said he was "appalled to learn that Jeffrey Epstein was found dead" while in federal custody. He said he has consulted with the Department of Justice's inspector general, who is opening an investigation into the circumstances.

"Mr. Epstein's death raises serious questions that must be answered," Barr added.

Epstein's death comes a little over two weeks after he was found injured and in a fetal position in his cell at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. He was semiconscious with marks on his neck at the time.

In July, two sources told NBC News that Epstein was on suicide watch. His death came the day after a trove of court documents was unsealed, providing new details about Epstein's alleged sex trafficking.

Epstein, who was being held on federal sex trafficking charges, was transported Saturday morning from the jail to a hospital in lower Manhattan. Upon arrival, he was in cardiac arrest, people familiar with the matter said.

The Department of Justice said Epstein was pronounced dead at the hospital. The FBI is investigating his death.

Miami Herald, Accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein kills himself in N.Y. jail; U.S. inquiry launched, Julie K. Brown, Aug. 10, 2019. U.S. Attorney General William Barr has opened a federal investigation into the suicide of sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, who was found unresponsive Saturday morning in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, a federal prison where he had been housed awaiting trial.

Attorney General William Barr said ‘serious questions’ about the death of Jeffrey Epstein must be answered.

perversion of justice miami herald logoPalm Beach lawyer Jack Scarola, who represents several victims, said an investigation is called for into how Epstein was able to, once again, get authorities to look the other way. “It is inexplicable how such a high-profile person on suicide watch could commit suicide without help,’’ Scarola said.

“Epstein once again cheated his victims out of an opportunity for justice. While I’m sure none of them regret his death, all of them regret the information that died with him. The one expectation is that Epstein’s death not derail the investigation into others who participated in his criminal activities. There are named and unnamed co-conspirators who still need to be brought to justice,’’ Scarola said.

Attorney General Barr said he directed the FBI and inspector general to open separate probes into his death.

“I was appalled to learn that Jeffrey Epstein was found dead early this morning from an apparent suicide while in federal custody. Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered,” Barr said in a statement Saturday afternoon.

His death came one day after the Miami Herald and other news organizations published a trove of documents describing in detail how he operated the equivalent of a sexual pyramid scheme, luring girls, most of them 14 to 16, to his Palm Beach home, then coercing them into sex.

The court papers provided damning evidence — in the form of sworn depositions, photographs, flight logs and witness statements — that Epstein and his alleged accomplice, Ghislaine Maxwell, were operating an international sex-trafficking operation in which girls and young women were lured into trafficking with the empty promise that the couple would help them with their education or careers.

His death could short-circuit what would have been a spectacular trial that likely would have drawn in an array of prominent witnesses. Epstein had a constellation of important friends in business, political and society circles, including former President Bill Clinton and President Donald Trump.

However, with his death, prosecutors in the Southern District of New York will likely refocus their probe on Maxwell, Sarah Kellen Vickers, Adriana Ross and Lesley Groff — all of whom allegedly helped run Epstein’s operation in the mid- to late-2000s. Another woman, Nadia Marcinkova, who is now a commercial pilot, was accused of sexually abusing some of the underage girls.

New York Magazine, After Jeffrey Epstein’s Death, Everyone Is Turning to Conspiracy Theories, Matt Stieb, Aug. 10, 2019. Politicians, reporters, and pretty much everyone else on Twitter are responding to Epstein’s death, reaching for conspiracy and convincing — if unfounded — theories on how it might have happened.

New York Post, Meet Jeffrey Epstein’s gang of accused slave ‘recruiters,’ Isabel Vincent, Aug. 10, 2019. Jeffrey Epstein maintained his financial empire — and his perverted sideline of preying on underage girls for sex — with the aid of an army of alleged enablers, many of whom he kept in one Upper East Side building and lavished with perks.

The convicted pedophile, 66, who died Saturday of an apparent suicide after being found unresponsive in his Manhattan prison cell, frequently took his assistants shopping to designer boutiques in Paris on his private jet.

He paid for unlimited salon services at tony Frederic Fekkai in Manhattan and gourmet take-out meals from Le Cirque.

One assistant received a Mercedes and a nanny for her newborn to make her commute easier.

DJT jeffrey epstein cheerleaders party cropped mar a logo screenshotA battalion of lawyers, pilots and models who worked for Epstein stayed at a doorman highrise in Manhattan — the epicenter of the Epstein empire — in apartments controlled by him and his real estate investor brother Mark, public records show.

Many of the units at 301 East 66th St. were owned by a New York shell company registered in Columbus, Ohio, the home base of Victoria’s Secret owner and Epstein’s billionaire benefactor Leslie Wexner, according to records.

The white-brick post-war building was also the gilded cage where the billionaire trapped and preyed on many of his under-aged victims — sometimes with the aid of his army of enablers.

Girls recruited as models from around the world were brought to the US and the building by MC2, a modeling company run by Epstein pal Jean-Luc Brunel. The company was financed by Epstein beginning in 2003, court papers show.

The girls passed through various apartments in the building where assistants arranged for their work visas, booked travel and modeling jobs. Some were also dispatched for other duties to Epstein’s nearby mansion on East 71st Street, court papers say.

Epstein “was the one who said who stays in what apartment,” said Maritza Vasquez, who worked as a bookkeeper for MC2, in a 2010 deposition made public last month.

“Epstein and Brunel would then obtain a visa for these girls, then would charge the underage girls rent,” court documents say.

Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell, 2001According to a cache of more than 2,000 documents unsealed Friday in a defamation case (by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, at center in photo) against British socialite and former Epstein gal pal Ghislaine Maxwell (at right in photo), Brunel had more than catwalk appearances planned for some of the girls. He offered up girls as young as 16 for “massages” with Epstein that often wound up as sexual-abuse sessions, according to documents filed in the lawsuit.

In 2005, Brunel called Epstein and left a message that “he is sending him a 16-year-old Russian girl for purposes of sex,” the court papers say.

The message, filed as an exhibit in the case, was written on an office message pad, partly in code, and read: “He [Brunel] has a teacher for you to teach you how to speak Russian. She is 2×8 years old not blonde. Lessons are free and you can have your 1st today if you call.”

Another message from Brunel to Epstein discusses how he had sex with an 18-year-old who had also been with Epstein. “He just did a good one – 18 years – she spoke to me and said ‘I love Jeffrey,’” according to court papers.

Juan Alessi, a former house manager for Epstein, told the court that over a 10-year period, Maxwell brought more than 100 young women that she called “massage therapists” to Epstein’s home. He said that when he cleaned up after them, he found vibrators and sex toys on the massage table.

Papal Racism Warning

pope francis handwave washington postwashington post logoWashington Post, Warning against nationalism, Pope Francis says recent speeches echo ‘Hitler in 1934,’ Siobhán O'Grady, Aug. 10, 2019 (print ed.). As Italy’s populist government appeared to be on the verge of collapse, an Italian daily published an interview in which the pontiff called for a united Europe while describing nationalist rhetoric as “frightening thoughts.”

Pope Francis (shown above in a Washington Post photo) called for a united Europe in an interview published by Italian daily La Stampa on Friday, saying recent political rhetoric has echoed that of Nazi Germany.

“I am concerned because we hear speeches that resemble those of Hitler in 1934,” he said. “ 'Us first. We … We … ’ These are frightening thoughts.”

It is not the first time the pontiff has made such remarks, but his comments published Friday came as Italy’s populist government appeared to be on the verge of collapse.

On Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, the most powerful politician in Italy, called for parliament to be dissolved and asked President Sergio Mattarella to order snap elections that could make Italy’s government lean even further right.

U.S. Immigration Law

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘If you’re a good worker, papers don’t matter’: How a Trump construction crew has relied on immigrants without legal status, Joshua Partlow and David A. Fahrenthold, Aug. 10, 2019 (print ed.). For nearly two decades, the Trump Organization has relied on a roving crew of Latin American employees to build fountains and waterfalls, sidewalks and rock walls at the company’s winery and its golf courses from New York to Florida.

ICE logoOther employees at Trump clubs were so impressed by the laborers — who did strenuous work with heavy stone — that they nicknamed them “Los Picapiedras,” Spanish for “the Flintstones.”

For years, their ranks have included workers who entered the United States illegally, according to two former members of the crew. Another employee, still with the company, said that remains true today.

washington post logoWashington Post, ICE raids target workers, but few firms are charged, Renae Merle, Aug. 10, 2019 (print ed.). As workplace raids multiply, Trump administration charges few companies. ICE has announced cases against five companies for immigration violations since 2017 Prosecuting corporations, as opposed to workers or managers, for immigration-related offenses has slowed under the Trump administration, records show.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘They’re afraid’: Suburban voters in red states threaten GOP’s grip on power, Robert Costa, Aug. 10, 2019 (print ed.). In Atlanta’s northern suburbs, issues such as gun control and President Trump’s conduct are causing unrest among GOP voters.

The GOP lost its House majority in 2018 after it fared poorly with suburban voters, particularly women. Party leaders are increasingly alarmed that they have made little progress winning them back. Instead, Trump’s incessant feuds, his hard-line position on immigration — including federal raids that left children without their parents — and the stock market’s tumult amid his trade standoff with China threaten to further alienate suburban voters ahead of the 2020 campaign, even in states that have traditionally elected Republicans.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump says Democrats will call ‘anybody’ racist, JM Rieger, Aug. 10, 2019 (print ed.). Here’s a list of times he’s used that label, President Trump has called at least 22 things and people “racist” in the past two decades.

Civil Rights

washington post logoWashington Post, Va. school that barred transgender student from boys’ restroom violated his rights, judge rules, Debbie Truong, Aug. 10, 2019 (print ed.). The case reached the Supreme Court, but the justices returned the case to a lower federal court after the Trump administration reversed Obama-era guidance that directed schools to allow students to use restrooms that aligned with their gender identity.

Syrian War

SouthFront, Syrian Army Advances In Northern Lattakia, Captures Two Key Hilltops, Staff report, Aug. 10, 2019. After more than 24 hours of syrian flag wavingheavy clashes with Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and other terrorist groups, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) 4th Division captured two key hilltops in the northern Hama countryside.

According to pro-government sources, army units managed to secure the al-Zuiqat and 112 hills. Both hills overlook the town of Kabani, a stronghold of several terrorist groups. A source in the 4th Division told SouthFront that over 100 militants, mostly foreigners, were killed or injured during the clashes in northern Lattakia.

Debunked 'History' of U.S. Second Amenment

Consortium News, Opinion: More Second Amendment Madness, Robert Parry, Aug. 10, 2019 (republished from Jan. 14, 2013). Robert Parry, robert parry new hsfounder of Consortium News, exposed in this 2013 article the dangerous and false idea that the Constitution Framers wrote the 2nd Amendment so an armed population could fight the government the Framers had just created.

The Right’s powerful propaganda apparatus has sold millions of Americans on the dangerous and false notion that the Framers of the U.S. Constitution incorporated the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights so an armed population could fight the government that the Framers had just created.

As a result of that historical lie, many right-wingers today appear to be heeding a call to arms by buying up assault weapons at a frenetic pace. A “Gun Appreciation Day” is scheduled for the Saturday before Barack Obama’s Second Inaugural, which coincidentally falls on Martin Luther King Day. Thousands of gun owners are expected to turn out waving flags and brandishing rifles.

General Benjamin Lincoln who led a force in 1787 to put down Shays’ Rebellion in western Massachusetts. (Painting by Charles Willson Peale)

The organizer of that effort, right-wing activist Larry Ward, wrote that “the Obama administration has shown that it is more than willing to trample the Constitution to impose its dictates upon the American people.”

In recent weeks, this bogus narrative of the Framers seeking to encourage violence to subvert the peaceful and orderly process that they had painstakingly created in Philadelphia in 1787 also has been pushed by prominent right-wingers, such as radio host Rush Limbaugh and Fox News personality Andrew Napolitano

Napolitano declared: “The historical reality of the Second Amendment’s protection of the right to keep and bear arms is not that it protects the right to shoot deer. It protects the right to shoot tyrants, and it protects the right to shoot at them effectively, with the same instruments they would use upon us.”

The suggestion is that armed Americans must confront the “tyrannical” Barack Obama the twice-elected President of the United States (and the first African-American to hold that office) if he presses ahead seeking commonsense gun restrictions in the face of the massacre of 20 schoolchildren in Newtown, Connecticut, and hundreds of other horrendous incidents of gun violence.

These “revolutionary” Americans have been persuaded that they are channeling the intent of the Framers who supposedly saw armed uprisings against the legally constituted U.S. government as an important element of “liberty.”

But that belief is not the historical reality. Indeed, the reality is almost the opposite. The Second Amendment was enacted so each state would have the specific right to form “a well-regulated militia” to maintain “security,” i.e. to put down armed rebellions.

The Framers also made clear what they thought should happen to people who took up arms against the Republic. Article IV, Section 4 committed the federal government to protect each state from not only invasion but “domestic Violence,” and treason is defined in the Constitution as “levying war against” the United States as well as giving “Aid and Comfort” to the enemy (Article III, Section 3).

Second Amendment’s History

Marker at final battle of Shay’s Rebellion in South Egremont, Mass. (Wikipedia)

The historical context of the Second Amendment also belies today’s right-wing mythology. At the time of the Constitutional Convention, the young nation was experiencing violent unrest, such as the Shays’ Rebellion in western Massachusetts. That armed uprising was testing the ability of the newly independent nation to establish order within the framework of a democratic Republic, a fairly untested idea at the time. European monarchies were predicting chaos and collapse for the United States.

Among the most concerned about that possibility was General George Washington, who had sacrificed greatly for the birth of the new nation. After the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781 and their acceptance of American independence in 1783, Washington fretted over the inability of the states-rights-oriented Articles of Confederation, then governing the country, to deal with its economic and security challenges.

Washington grew disgusted with the Articles’ recognition of 13 “independent” and “sovereign” states and the correspondingly weak central government, called not even a government, but a “league of friendship.”

As Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, Washington had watched his soldiers suffer when various states reneged on their commitment to supply money and arms. After the war, Washington retired but stayed active in seeking reforms that would strengthen the central government’s ability to organize national commerce and to maintain order.

His fears deepened in 1786 when Daniel Shays, a former Continental Army captain, led an uprising of other veterans and farmers in western Massachusetts, taking up arms against the government for failing to address their economic grievances.

Washington received reports on the crisis from old Revolutionary War associates in Massachusetts, such as his longtime logistical chief, Gen. Henry Knox, and Gen. Benjamin Lincoln, who accepted the British surrender at Yorktown as Washington’s second in command. They kept Washington apprised of the disorder, which he feared might encourage renewed interference in American affairs by the British or other European powers.

On Oct. 22, 1786, in a letter seeking more information about the rebellion from a friend in Connecticut, Washington wrote: “I am mortified beyond expression that in the moment of our acknowledged independence we should by our conduct verify the predictions of our transatlantic foe, and render ourselves ridiculous and contemptible in the eyes of all Europe.”

In another letter on Nov. 7, 1786, Washington questioned Gen. Lincoln about the unrest: “What is the cause of all these commotions? When and how will they end?” Washington was especially concerned about the possibility of a hidden British hand.

Lincoln responded: “Many of them [the rebels] appear to be absolutely so [mad] if an attempt to annihilate our present constitution and dissolve the present government can be considered as evidence of insanity.”

However, the U.S. government under the Articles of Confederation lacked the means to restore order. So wealthy Bostonians financed their own force under Gen. Lincoln to crush the uprising in February 1787. Afterwards, Washington remained concerned the rebellion might be a sign that European predictions about American chaos were coming true.

“If three years ago [at the end of the American Revolution] any person had told me that at this day, I should see such a formidable rebellion against the laws & constitutions of our own making as now appears I should have thought him a bedlamite a fit subject for a mad house,” Washington wrote to Knox on Feb. 3, 1787, adding that if the government “shrinks, or is unable to enforce its laws anarchy & confusion must prevail.”

Just weeks later, Washington’s alarm about Shays’ Rebellion was a key factor in his decision to take part in and preside over the Constitutional Convention, which was supposed to offer revisions to the Articles of Confederation but instead threw out the old structure entirely and replaced it with the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution shifted national sovereignty from the 13 states to “We the People” and dramatically enhanced the power of the central government.

The Signing of the Constitution by Louis S. Glanzman, hanging in Independence Hall, Philadelphia

The key point of the Constitution was to create a peaceful means for the United States to implement policies favored by the people but within a structure of checks and balances to prevent radical changes deemed too disruptive to the established order. For instance, the two-year terms of the House of Representatives were meant to reflect the popular will but the six-year terms of the Senate were designed to temper the passions of the moment (and senators were initially chosen by state legislatures, not the people).

Within this framework of a democratic Republic where peaceful change was possible though intentionally gradual the Framers criminalized taking up arms against the government. But it was the Constitution’s drastic expansion of federal power that prompted strong opposition from some Revolutionary War figures, such as Virginia’s Patrick Henry who spearheaded the Anti-Federalist movement.

Prospects for the Constitution’s ratification were in such doubt that its principal architect James Madison joined in a sales campaign known as the Federalist Papers in which he tried to play down how radical his changes actually were. To win over other skeptics, Madison agreed to support a Bill of Rights, which would be proposed as the first ten amendments to the Constitution. The Bill of Rights was a mix of concessions, some substantive and some rhetorical, to both individual citizens and the states.

The Second Amendment was primarily a right granted to the states. It read: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Madison’s political maneuvering narrowly secured approval of the Constitution in key states, such as Virginia, New York and Massachusetts. The First Congress then approved the Bill of Rights, which was ratified in 1791. [For more details on the Constitution, see Robert Parry’s America’s Stolen Narrative.]

Behind the Second Amendment

As the preface to the Second Amendment makes clear, the concern was about enabling states to organize militias that could maintain “security,” which fit with the Constitution’s goal of “domestic Tranquility” within the framework of a Republic.

This concept was amplified by the actions of the Second Congress amid another uprising which erupted in 1791 in western Pennsylvania. This anti-tax revolt, known as the Whiskey Rebellion, prompted Congress in 1792 to expand on the idea of “a well-regulated militia” by passing the Militia Acts which required all military-age white males to obtain their own muskets and equipment for service in militias.

At the time, Madison was in the U.S. Congress and Washington was in the presidency with both supporting the new laws so the “original intent” of the Framers could not be easily misunderstood.

The right “to keep and bear arms” was always within the context of participating in militias or today the National Guard not as the right of individuals to possess devastating weapons that could be used to violently overthrow the U.S. government or to kill its officials. (The recognition of a collective rather than individual right was only reversed in 2008 when right-wing ideologues had gained control of the U.S. Supreme Court and then overturned longstanding legal precedents.)

Whiskey Point Marker – Monongahela, PA (Jon Dawson/Flickr)

But if there was any doubt about how the actual Framers saw the Second Amendment, it was answered in 1794 when President Washington led a combined force of state militias against the Whiskey rebels in Pennsylvania. The revolt soon collapsed; many leaders fled; and two participants were convicted of high treason and sentenced to hanging, though Washington later pardoned them.

Beyond this clear historical record that the Framers’ intent with the Second Amendment was to create security for the new Republic, not promote armed rebellions there is also the simple logic that the Framers represented the young nation’s aristocracy. Many, like Washington, owned vast tracts of land and favored domestic tranquility to promote economic development and growth.

So, it would be counterintuitive as well as anti-historical to believe that Madison and Washington wanted to arm the population so the discontented could resist the constitutionally elected government. In reality, the Framers wanted to arm the people at least the white males to repulse uprisings, whether economic clashes like Shays’ Rebellion, anti-tax protests like the Whiskey Rebellion, attacks by Native Americans or slave revolts.

Fabricated History

However, the Right has invested heavily over the last several decades in fabricating a different national narrative, one that ignores both logic and the historical record. In this right-wing fantasy, the Framers wanted everyone to have a gun so they could violently resist their own government.

To build that narrative, a few incendiary quotes are cherry-picked, taken out of context or invented. [See, for instance, Steven Krulik’s compilation of such apocryphal references.]

This “history” has then been amplified through the Right’s powerful propaganda apparatus Fox News, talk radio, the Internet and ideological publications to persuade millions of Americans that their possession of semi-automatic assault rifles and other powerful firearms is what the Framers intended, that today’s gun owners are fulfilling some centuries-old American duty.

It should be noted, too, that Thomas Jefferson, one of the most radical-sounding (though hypocritical) leaders of the Revolutionary War, was not a Framer of the Constitution. In 1787, when the document was written, he was the U.S. representative in France.

There is also the obvious point that the Framers’ idea of a weapon was a single-shot musket that required time-consuming reloading, not a powerful semi-automatic assault rifle that could fire up to 100 bullets in a matter of seconds without the necessity to reload.

However, people like Andrew Napolitano on the Right as well as some dreamy revolutionaries on the Left still suggest that the Framers enacted the Second Amendment so the firepower of people trying to overthrow the U.S. government and kill its agents would be equal to whatever weapons the government possessed.

This crazy notion would be laughable if its consequences were not so horrible. The human price for this phony concept of “liberty” and this bogus history is the horrendous death toll that gun violence inflicts on American society, including the recent slaughter of those children in Newtown.

Yet, instead of recognizing the actual history and accepting that the Constitution was an attempt by the Framers to create a democratic process for peaceful change, today’s advocates of a violent revolution whether from the Right or the Left feed the paranoia and the ignorance of their followers.

The late investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. He founded Consortium News in 1995, considered the first online, independent news site.

Aug. 9

Trump Intelligence Shake-up

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump announces shake-up at top of U.S. intelligence, Shane Harris and Ellen Nakashima, Aug. 9, 2019. President Trump said in a tweet Thursday that he will name Joseph Maguire, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, as the acting director of national intelligence, following his aborted effort to install a political loyalist.

joseph maguire headshotMaguire, right, is a retired Navy admiral not steeped in the inner workings of the intelligence community, but his appointment was seen as steadying in the middle of a tumultuous shake-up in the top ranks of the country’s spy agencies.

As Trump announced ­Maguire’s appointment, he also said that Sue Gordon, the deputy director of national Donald Trumpintelligence, would resign and not serve in the acting role when director Daniel Coats also departs next week.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers had said they wanted Gordon, a career intelligence official, to fill in for Coats. But Trump was reluctant to keep someone with whom he had never formed a close bond. The president and his aides also regarded her as a career official and consequently suspicious, according to officials with knowledge of the president’s views.

A U.S. official said that Gordon was “heartbroken” and agonized over her decision to step down, but that she recognized she served at the president’s pleasure.

Trump had intended to nominate Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) as the director of national intelligence. But Ratcliffe’s potential nomination collapsed amid bipartisan criticism about his lack of national security expertise and allegations that he padded his résumé as a former federal prosecutor.

mark warner“President Trump has repeatedly demonstrated that he is seemingly incapable of hearing facts that contradict his own views,” Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), right, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.

“The mission of the intelligence community is to speak truth to power. Yet in pushing out two dedicated public servants in as many weeks, once again the President has shown that he has no problem prioritizing his political ego even if it comes at the expense of our national security,” Warner said.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Did Dan Coats and Sue Gordon just pull a fast one on Donald Trump? Bill Palmer, Aug. 9, 2019. In the week since Donald Trump ousted his Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, it’s been abundantly clear that he didn’t want Coats’ Deputy, Sue Gordon, to assume the role – even on an acting basis. But as the Senate Republicans torpedoed Trump’s attempted nomination of John Ratcliffe to the position, and then publicly told Trump that he was legally required to name Gordon the Acting DNI, Trump seemed to be changing his tune – until yesterday.

bill palmer report logo headerThat’s when Donald Trump suddenly announced on Twitter that Sue Gordon was instead retiring, effective next week, and that he was naming retired Admiral Joseph Maguire as Acting DNI.

Multiple sources are now telling CNN that Dan Coats interrupted a meeting in order to urge Sue Gordon not to take the Acting DNI job, and that Gordon – who by all accounts is loyal to Coats – ended up honoring his wishes. But why would Coats do this?

Inside DC: Guns

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Says McConnell Is ‘On Board’ With Background Checks for Guns, Eileen Sullivan, Aug. 9, 2019. “We need intelligent background checks,” President Trump said less than a week after mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, left 31 people mitch mcconnell2dead. He asserted that the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, right, supported the idea. Both have resisted such legislation in the past.

The time is now for lawmakers to come together and pass new laws for “meaningful” background checks on gun purchasers, Mr. Trump said Friday as he left the White House for a political fund-raiser in Southampton, N.Y., followed by a vacation at his golf club in New Jersey.

Manson Family Murders Revisited

sharon tate charles manson photos Lily Laurent Flickr and california department corrections

Sharon Tate (left). Charles Manson (right). Photo credit: Lily Laurent / Flickr and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation / Wikimedia

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy Podcast, Everything You Know About Charles Manson Is Wrong! Jeff Schechtman, Aug. 9, 2019. Joan Didion famously said that the Sixties ended on August 9, 1969, with the murders of Sharon Tate and six others at the hands of the so-called Manson Family.

For 50 years, the official narrative has held that the murders were initiated by Manson to appear as if they were committed by the Black Panthers with the goal of starting a race war. That was prosecutor Vince Bugliosi’s theory of the case. Bugliosi argued at trial that Manson had gotten this idea of “Helter Skelter” from a Beatles song.

That has remained the conventional wisdom — until now. Since it was first published, Bugliosi’s book Helter Skelter has never gone out of print. It now appears that this version of the story may be just as fanciful as Quentin Tarantino’s fictional version, in his new hit film tom oneill manson chaos coverOnce Upon A Time… in Hollywood.

In 1999, investigative journalist Tom O’Neill was commissioned to write a story for what was then Premiere magazine, marking the 30th anniversary of the Tate/LaBianca murders. Thus began for O’Neill a 20-year odyssey into the dark world of Charles Manson.

During his journey he has uncovered new revelations about the murders, about Manson, about a rogues’ gallery of cops, corrupt and violent prosecutors, drug dealers, celebrities, clandestine government drug researchers, secret agents, and a cover-up that points strongly to the FBI and the CIA.

In this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, Jeff Schechtman talks with O’Neill about his investigation, as laid out in his new book CHAOS: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties.

U.S. Foreign Policy

Politico, Fury grows over delayed probe of Trump aides' alleged political retaliation, Nahal Toosi, Aug. 9, 2019. House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel said he was 'fed up with the State Department playing games with this investigation.' Democrats and many in the State Department are increasingly exasperated that they have yet to see the results of an investigation into whether President Donald Trump’s political appointees mistreated career staffers.

eliot engel oThe delayed release of the State Department inspector general's findings has generated rising suspicion that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is trying to derail the investigation, whose results could be damning to some of his top aides. Lawmakers initially expected the report “months ago,” according to Rep. Eliot Engel, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Engel, right, said he was “fed up with the State Department playing games with this investigation.”

“We just keep hearing excuse after excuse for the delay, which only serves to shake confidence in the integrity of the IG’s investigation,” the New York Democrat added in a statement.

Aides to Pompeo did not offer comment on his role. The inspector general’s office, however, insisted that there is nothing unusual in the length of time it’s taken to release the findings. “There has been no delay, and we anticipate publishing the report this month,” said Sarah Breen, a spokeswoman for Inspector General Steve Linick. “We continue to act independently and objectively.”

According to Breen, Linick’s investigation dates to at least March 2018. A second piece of the investigation launched in July 2018. Lawmakers requested an initial probe of the alleged misconduct as early as January 2018.

Disaster Relief

ny times logoNew York Times, This High-Tech Solution to Disaster Response May Be Too Good to Be True, Sheri Fink, Aug. 9, 2019. Major cities are turning to a Silicon Valley start-up to help save lives in an emergency. But some fear its promise has been dangerously exaggerated.

The company called One Concern has all the characteristics of a buzzy and promising Silicon Valley start-up: young founders from Stanford, tens of millions of dollars in venture capital and a board with prominent names.

us dhs big eagle logo4Its particular niche is disaster response. And it markets a way to use artificial intelligence to address one of the most vexing issues facing emergency responders in disasters: figuring out where people need help in time to save them.

That promise to bring new smarts and resources to an anachronistic field has generated excitement. Arizona, Pennsylvania and the World Bank have entered into contracts with One Concern over the past year. New York City and San Jose, Calif., are in talks with the company. And a Japanese city recently became One Concern’s first overseas client.

But when T.J. McDonald, who works for Seattle’s office of emergency management, reviewed a simulated earthquake on the company’s damage prediction platform, he spotted problems. A popular big-box store was grayed out on the web-based map, meaning there was no analysis of the conditions there, and shoppers and workers who might be in danger would not receive immediate help if rescuers relied on One Concern’s results.

U.S. Justice Dept. Disputes

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI releases records of Justice Dept. official Bruce Ohr interviews about Russia probe, Devlin Barrett, Aug. 9, 2019. The memos describe conversations Ohr had with the FBI about the man behind the dossier of allegations against Trump in 2016.

Heavily redacted FBI memos released Thursday show that while the FBI formally cut ties with a former British intelligence officer who supplied some early information in the investigation of Russian election interference, agents quietly sought to reestablish contact as the case heated up.

christopher steele ex MI6 spy express croppedThe released documents are formal FBI interview memos of agents’ conversations with Bruce Ohr, a senior Justice Department official who has drawn the ire of President Trump for his connections to Christopher Steele, left, a former British spy with an expertise in Russia who wrote a dossier of allegations against Trump in 2016. The general thrust of Steele’s allegations was that then-candidate Trump was secretly aligned with Russian officials and could be manipulated by them.

Ohr, a relatively obscure Justice Department employee for more than 20 years, became a focus of Republicans in Congress after they learned of his interactions with Steele, and the Washington, D.C.-based research firm that hired Steele, Fusion GPS.

Media / Politics / Mass Shootings

President Donald Trump officialWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Mass shootings -- a Trump TV production, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 9, 2019 (subscription required). The White House press pool was not granted access to two hospital trauma centers in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas that treated patients wounded in separate mass shootings in those cities.

Instead, the American public was force-fed official White House photographs and videos showing a smiling Trump and his wife with emergency room personnel. However, actual trauma center employees revealed that many of the workers photographed with Trump did not work at the trauma centers but showed up a few hours before Trump’s visit, along with White House advance team personnel.

Climate Change / Child-Bearing

HuffPost, 9 People On The Ethics Of Having Kids In An Era Of Climate Crisis, Laura Paddison, Aug. 8, 2019. Readers share heartbreaking and searingly honest stories about their decision whether or not to have children because of climate concerns. In an interview with British Vogue, published last week, Prince Harry suggested that he was thinking of having a maximum of two children

More On Epstein

Daily Beast, Jeffrey Epstein Accuser Names Powerful Men in Alleged Sex Ring, Kate Briquelet, Katie Baker, Justin Miller, Pilar Melendez, daily beast logoTracy Connor, Aug. 9, 2019. In newly unsealed documents, Virginia Giuffre claims that Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell trafficked her to politicians, princes, and a high-flying financier, among others.

Jeffrey Epstein Harvard University A young woman who says financier Jeffrey Epstein, right, and socialite Ghislaine Maxwell kept her as a sex slave also accused a host of high-powered men of being involved in Epstein’s alleged sex-trafficking ring, according to court records unsealed Friday.

Virginia Giuffre, who says that Epstein and Maxwell trafficked her to powerful people for erotic massages and sex, claimed in depositions in 2016 that Maxwell directed her to have sex with former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Britain’s Prince Andrew (whom she has accused before), wealthy financier Glenn Dubin, former senator George Mitchell, now-deceased MIT scientist Marvin Minsky, and modeling agent Jean-Luc Brunel, as well as “another prince,” a "foreign president," a well-known prime minsiter" and the owner of a “large hotel chain” in France.

Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell, 2001None of the men named in the deposition have been charged with a crime or even sued in civil court in connection with the Epstein case. The deposition represents accuser Giuffre’s allegations, and the court documents unsealed on Friday did not contain any corroboration or further details, though many documents remain sealed.

Roberts, at center, claimed that Epstein farmed her out to other men, including Prince Andrew of the British royal family, left. The California native said the photo at left portrays her at center with Prince Andrew, also known as the Duke of York, on a trip to London when she was 17 in 2001. At right was Ghislaine Maxwell, the socialite daughter of the corrupt newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell, who drowned in 1991 after toppling overboard from his yacht Lady Ghislaine. 

Brunel’s attorney Joe Titone declined to comment. Prince Andrew and Buckingham Palace have previously and vehemently denied Giuffre’s allegations. “Glenn and Eva Dubin are outraged by the allegations in the unsealed court records, which are demonstrably false and defamatory. The Dubins have flight records and other evidence that definitively disprove that any such events occurred," a spokesperson for the Dubin family told The Daily Beast on Friday.

A spokesperson for former Gov. Bill Richardson, Madeleine Mahony, told The Daily Beast on Friday,“These allegations and inferences are completely false. Governor Richardson has never even been contacted by any party regarding this lawsuit. To be clear, in Governor Richardson’s limited interactions with Mr. Epstein, he never saw him in the presence of young or underage girls. Governor Richardson has never been to Mr. Epstein’s residence in the Virgin Islands. Governor Richardson has never met Ms. Giuffre."

Mitchell said in a statement to The Daily Beast: “The allegation contained in the released documents is false ... I have never met, spoken with or had any contact with Ms. Giuffre.”

He added: “In my contacts with Mr. Epstein I never observed or suspected any inappropriate conduct with underage girls. I only learned of his actions when they were reported in the media related to his prosecution in Florida. We have had no further contact.”

The revelation comes after a federal appeals court ordered the release of the sealed documents in a lawsuit that Giuffre filed against Maxwell, the British publishing heiress whom Giuffre says was Epstein’s madam. Maxwell has rejected allegations that she has acted as a procurer for Epstein and denied she facilitated Prince Andrew's acts of sexual abuse and was Epstein’s madam.

marie villafana linked in

As an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of Florida, Marie Villafaña (shown above in a Linked In photo) was the lead federal prosecutor on the Jeffrey Epstein case 12 years ago

Miami Herald, Lead U.S. prosecutor in ’08 Epstein case — who sources say wanted to charge him — resigns, Julie K. Brown and Jay Weaver, Aug. 9, 2019 (print ed.). A. Marie Villafaña, the lead federal prosecutor who helped negotiate a controversial plea deal for accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, has submitted her resignation to the Justice Department, the Miami Herald has learned.

Her departure comes amid a federal probe into the role she and other federal prosecutors, including her former boss, Alexander Acosta, had in sidelining a 53-page indictment against the wealthy New York investor in favor of a state plea to minor prostitution charges in 2008.

Epstein, 66, right, was accused of molesting dozens of underage girls, most of them 14 to 16 years old, at his Palm Beach mansion more than a decade ago. He is now facing federal sex trafficking charges involving minors brought against him last month by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.

perversion of justice miami herald logoThe Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is examining whether Acosta, who resigned his cabinet post as secretary of labor last month — and other U.S. prosecutors involved in the 2007-2008 case — committed misconduct in negotiating the secret pact with Epstein. A federal judge in February ruled that the prior deal was illegally negotiated because Epstein and federal prosecutors concealed it from his victims in violation of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act.

The Herald has learned that several people involved in the Epstein case have been questioned by the Justice Department in recent weeks as part of its ongoing OPR investigation.

Jonathan Biran, Villafaña’s lawyer, confirmed her resignation Thursday, noting that she has long planned to transition to a legal career in healthcare, and now plans to join the federal Department of Health and Human Services. In recent years, she has handled a number of healthcare fraud cases in South Florida.

Villafaña, 51, has worked in the Southern District of Florida, mostly based in West Palm Beach, for the past 18 years. She is the last member of the federal prosecution team that handled Epstein’s case in 2008 still employed by the Department of Justice. The other members of the team, including Acosta, left in the years after Epstein’s case was closed.

Trump Watch

Palmer Report, Analysis: Donald Trump’s impeachment has arrived, Bill Palmer, Aug. 9, 2019. For the past several weeks, Palmer Report has been pointing out that Donald Trump’s impeachment was coming. The signs were in plain sight and were indisputable. We’ve also been pointing out that impeachment is not a magic wand, and that an impeachment inquiry was a complex process that would not cause Trump to simply fall through a trap door.

bill palmer report logo headerLast night House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler appeared on the Rachel Maddow show and confirmed in exact words what was already apparent: the committee’s earlier court filing regarding impeachment did in fact constitute the start of an official impeachment inquiry. In other words, Trump’s impeachment is already underway. But again, no magic wand. So what does it really mean?

U.S. House logoAs we’ve tried to make clear all along, formal televised impeachment hearings – which is what most people picture in their heads when they hear the word “impeachment” – can’t start until House Democrats have won at least most of their court battles over testimony and evidence. Institutions like Deutsche Bank will turn over Trump’s financial records, and people like Don McGahn will publicly testify against Trump, but only once they have the legal cover of the courts having ordered them to do so.

Social Media Standards

washington post logoWashington Post, YouTube’s arbitrary standards: Stars keep making money even after breaking the rules, Elizabeth Dwoskin​, Aug. 9, 2019. Moderators describe a chaotic workplace where exceptions for lucrative influencers are the norm.

youtube logo CustomYouTube stars attract millions of eyeballs and generate billions of dollars in ad revenue for the media giant, which pledges to run its business without tolerating hateful and otherwise harmful videos.

But some of the workers hired to flag problematic content accuse YouTube of playing favorites, doling out more lenient punishments for top video creators whose work brings in the most money for the company. Eleven current and past moderators, who have worked on the front lines of content decisions, believe that popular creators often get special treatment in the form of looser interpretations of YouTube’s guidelines prohibiting demeaning speech, bullying and other forms of graphic content.

U.S. Hong Kong Role Exposed

Zero Hedge, US Calls China "Thuggish Regime" For Releasing Identity Of US Official Caught Meeting With HK Protesters, Tyler Durden, Aug. 8, 2019. The US State Department has released a statement in response to Chinese officials and state media accusing a US diplomatic official based in Hong Kong of interfering in Chinese affairs.

State media widely reported on a viral photo showing US foreign service agent Julie Eadeh -- identified as the political unit chief of the US Consulate General -- meeting with leading anti-Beijing activists at a Hong Kong hotel on Tuesday amid continuing unrest in the semi-autonomous city.

A State Department spokesperson on Thursday afternoon issued a statement calling China a "thuggish regime" for releasing details on the US diplomat stationed in Hong Kong.

"I don't think that leaking an American diplomat's private information, pictures, names of their children, I don't think that is a formal protest, that is what a thuggish regime would do," spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told a news briefing.

After a viral photo surfaced this week revealing continuing contact between well-known Hong Kong pro-independence protest leaders and a US diplomatic officer, China has summoned US consulate officials stationed in the city, Bloomberg reports.

Saudi Coalition Split In Yemen

Al Jazeera, Aden clashes continue, risk making Yemen war 'even more complex,' Staff and wires, Aug. 9, 2019. Five civilians among 20 people reported dead as fighting between separatists and government forces go on for third day. Fighting between Yemeni government forces and separatists in the southern port city of Aden has continued for a third consecutive day, with reports of at least 20 people killed.

The violence in the seat of Yemen's internationally-recognised government threatens to open a new front in the country's devastating war, exposing a rift in a Saudi-led military alliance that has been battling the Houthi rebel movement since 2015.

Aug. 8

UN Food Shortage Warning

ny times logoNew York Times, Climate Change Threatens World’s Food Supply, United Nations Warns, Christopher Flavelle, Aug. 8, 2019. The world’s land and water resources are being exploited at “unprecedented rates,” a new United Nations report warns, which combined with climate change is putting dire pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself.

UN logoThe report, prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and released in summary form in Geneva on Thursday, found that the window to address the threat is closing rapidly. A half-billion people already live in places turning into desert, and soil is being lost between 10 and 100 times faster than it is forming, according to the report.

Climate change will make those threats even worse, as floods, drought, storms and other types of extreme weather threaten to disrupt, and over time shrink, the global food supply. Already, more than 10 percent of the world’s population remains undernourished, and some authors of the report warned in interviews that food shortages could lead to an increase in cross-border migration.

A particular danger is that food crises could develop on several continents at once, said Cynthia Rosenzweig, a senior research scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the lead authors of the report. “The potential risk of multi-breadbasket failure is increasing,” she said. “All of these things are happening at the same time.”

Trump / Mass Shootings

ny times logoNew York Times, On a Day Set Aside for Healing, Trump Stokes Divisions, Michael Crowley, Maggie Haberman, Mitch Smith and Michael D. Shear, Aug. 8, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s plans to visit Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso after two mass shootings went awry even before he departed Washington. The day devolved into an occasion for anger-fueled broadsides against Democrats and the news media. He was greeted by protests in both cities.

donald trump twitterOn Tuesday night, he tweeted that Beto O’Rourke, the former Democratic congressman from El Paso, should “be quiet.” As he prepared to leave the White House on Wednesday morning, he went after former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who said in a speech that day that Mr. Trump had “fanned the flames of white supremacy.”

Both Mr. O’Rourke and Mr. Biden are running for president and have been particularly harsh in their criticism of Mr. Trump after the two shootings, and Mr. Trump rose to the bait.

washington post logoWashington Post, NRA warns Trump after he signals he is open to extensive background checks, Josh Dawsey and Seung Min Kim, Aug. 8, 2019 (print ed.). NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre spoke with Trump on Tuesday after the president expressed support for a background nra logo Customcheck bill and told him it would not be popular among Trump’s supporters, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss internal talks. LaPierre also argued against the bill’s merits, the officials said.

Advisers to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he would not bring any gun-control legislation to the floor without widespread Republican support.

washington post logoWashington Post, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings calls for end to ‘hateful rhetoric’ that inspires mass shooters, Jenna Portnoy​, Aug. 8, 2019 (print ed.). Speaking at a luncheon, the Maryland Democrat referred to tweets by President Trump disparaging his Baltimore congressional district.

elijah cummings head and shoulders oRep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) on Wednesday called for an end to “hateful rhetoric” that inspires mass shooters.

In his first major speech in the nearly two weeks since President Trump called his Baltimore district a “rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live,” Cummings did not directly address the comments but called for national  press club logodecency.

“Those at the highest levels of government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior,” he said at the National Press Club in Washington. “As a country we finally must say that enough is enough. That we are done with the hateful rhetoric. That we are done with the mass shootings. That we are done with the white supremacists, domestic terrorists who are terrorizing our country and fighting against everything America stands for.”

House Panel Seeks Data On Justice Kavanaugh

Palmer Report, Opinion & Analysis: House Judiciary Committee is finally closing in on Brett Kavanaugh, James Sullivan, Aug. 8, 2019. brett kavanaughSupreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, right – one of the least popular justices in recent history – is once again in the news, as the House Judiciary Committee is closing in on him.

Today, they requested the National Archives send all records from the five years he served as White House Counsel from 2001-2006 in the Bush Administration. Only a sliver of these were made available prior to Kavanaugh’s confirmation, with thousands of pages being withheld by a privately hired Republican attorney. While House Republicans are calling harassment, the committee has two specific reasons to see the documents – one of which has nothing to do with Kavanaugh’s love of beer.

bill palmer report logo headerIn fact, the infamous televised hearing from last fall when he melted down before a national audience was likely not the first time Kavanaugh misled senators. He did something similar in 2006, before senators confirmed him to a federal appeals court.

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Names Acting Spy Chief as No. 2 Intelligence Official Steps Down, Charlie Savage and Maggie Haberman, Aug. 8, 2019. President Trump on Thursday abruptly decided to install Joseph Maguire, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, as the acting director of national intelligence after Dan Coats steps down from the post next week.

Mr. Trump announced his decision to elevate Mr. Maguire, a retired vice admiral who once led the Navy’s Special Warfare Command, on Twitter shortly after confirming that Sue Gordon, the nation’s No. 2 intelligence official — who by law had been in line to temporarily take over as director — would instead depart with Mr. Coats on Aug. 15.

Ms. Gordon, who served more than 30 years in intelligence posts at the C.I.A. and other agencies, informed Mr. Trump of her decision to retire in a letter on Thursday after it became clear that he would not permit her to rise to the position of acting director. Representative Adam B. Schiff, a California Democrat who leads the House Intelligence Committee, portrayed the ousters as a “devastating loss” that threatened the intelligence community’s ability to provide independent analysis and judgment to policymakers.

U.S. Political Hatreds

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Was Trump’s El Paso Visit a Turning Point? Richard Parker (author of “Lone Star Nation: How Texas Will Transform America”), Aug. 8, 2019. A day of racist comments left him looking small and isolated, while the city united against him.

If consoling the nation in a time of desperate need is a vital and yet simple task of the American presidency, Donald J. Trump failed miserably this week.

From his flight on Wednesday to Dayton, Ohio, to this sprawling high-desert city on the Mexican border, the 45th occupant of the White House not only littered his consolation tour with petty insults — but just to rub salt in the wound, doses of renewed racism. Yet most striking was how alone and outnumbered the president was: rejected, ostracized and told to go home.

The people who streamed the scene of the terrorist attack here — brown, black, white and every hue in between — defiantly defended the nation’s diversity. With no public appearances, the president seemed to shrink, ever more alone as he clung to his white nationalist politics and governance. But he and his supporters were grossly outnumbered. For perhaps the first time in his angry, racist and cruel presidency, the tables were turned in smoldering, righteous popular anger — and he was on the receiving end.

You have to give this to Mr. Trump: He never backs off. He doubles down like a wild gambler in a casino, raising the stakes one more time demanding just a few more chips from the house. Leaving the White House on Wednesday morning, he said, “I think my rhetoric brings people together,” adding he was “concerned about the rise of any group of hate. I don’t like it, whether it’s white supremacy, whether it’s any other kind of supremacy.” Leaving Dayton, Mr. Trump insulted the mayor and a senator from the safety of Air Force One and, of course, Twitter.

Trump even jabbed a racist poke at El Paso, ridiculing the former Democratic Representative Beto O’Rourke’s Spanish first name, though he is of Anglo descent.

While it was bad manners for a nation in mourning, it was more than that: It was a fresh dose of racism.

In an era in which minorities are becoming majorities, as in Texas, and intermarrying with Anglos, who is Mr. Trump to judge people’s race and ethnicity based on their names? My last name is Anglo, but I am the son of a Mexican immigrant.

At the makeshift memorial to the 22 killed for the hue of their skin while shopping at a Walmart on a Saturday, I spoke with a young soldier from the 1st Armored Division at nearby Fort Bliss. Big and burly in his camouflage uniform, Pvt. First Class Richard Riley, 20, stood with arms crossed, staring silently at the piles of flowers, plastic hearts and white crosses, one for every victim.

But behind his dark glasses, his eyes welled up. “I just can’t believe it,” he said. “I’m Hispanic, too. And I can’t believe that these people were killed because they were.”

Twitter Reprisal

twitter bird CustomRoll Call, Locking out ‘Team Mitch’ could cost Twitter, Niels Lesniewski, Aug. 8, 2019. Decision by Republican campaign committees to withhold ad dollars from Twitter could have a tangible effect.

The Republican National Committee, President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign as well as the House and Senate GOP campaign committees took that step in response to the social media platform’s temporary lockout of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign account.

mitch mcconnell2“Twitter has a clear bias against conservatives and Republicans. The hashtag associated the disgusting threats against Mitch McConnell was allowed to trend for an entire day. But McConnell’s posting of video of the threats themselves got his own account suspended. It is ludicrous bias in the extreme,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement.

The Trump campaign was planning to spend as much as $500,000 on Twitter in August, dependent on performance, according to a campaign source.

“Twitter’s hostile actions toward Leader McConnell’s campaign are outrageous, and we will not tolerate it. The NRSC will suspend all spending with Twitter until further notice,” said Jesse Hunt, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “We will not spend our resources on a platform that silences conservatives.”

According to a tweet from RNC Chief of Staff Richard Walters, both the committee and the Trump campaign dollars may not be coming back simply with the restoration of access to McConnell’s “Team Mitch” account.

“Any future ad $ either organization was planning to spend with @Twitter has been halted until they address this disgusting bias,” Walters tweeted.

The NRSC and the National Republican Congressional Committee also announced a temporary stop to Twitter advertising in response to Wednesday’s suspension of access to the McConnell account. The NRCC declined a request for details of Twitter spending, and the NRSC did not immediately respond.

Trump Watch

Palmer Report, Analysis: House Democrats just ran a Deutsche Bank end-around in Donald Trump’s Russia scandal, Bill Palmer, Aug. 8, 2019. deutsche bank logoHouse Democrats have been trying to get their hands on Donald Trump’s financial records from Deutsche Bank and other financial institutions, so they can fully expose Trump’s financial crimes and foreign entanglements. It’ll happen eventually, but Trump has been fighting in court to try to drag out the process as long as possible. Now it turns out House Democrats just did an end-around to get at least some of what they wanted.

bill palmer report logo headerIf the House Democrats can’t get Donald Trump’s banking records so they can spot the financial connections to Russia, why not simply get the Russians’ banking records so they can spot the connections to Trump? It turns out that’s precisely what’s been going on behind the scenes.

Five different major banks, including Deutsche Bank and Bank of America, have coughed up the financial records of various Russian figures who are suspected of having financial ties to Donald Trump, according to MarketWatch.

U.S. Raids Against Migrants

Common Dreams via Buzzflash, "Don't Look Away": Videos and Images of Weeping Children Spread as ICE Arrests 680 Migrant Workers in Mississippi on Day Trump Cynically Visits Victims of His War on "Invaders" in El Paso, Jake Johnson, Aug. 8, 2019. Heartbreaking images and videos of weeping children and loved ones spread rapidly on social media Wednesday night after Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested nearly 700 workers at several Mississippi food processing plants in a series of coordinated raids that were described as "the largest single-state workplace enforcement action in U.S. history."

ICE logoMississippi's local WJTV reported following the ICE raids that "many children of those arrested across the state are now left homeless with nowhere to go."

"These children," WJTV reported, "were relying on neighbors and even strangers to pick them up outside their homes after school and drive them to a community fitness center where people tried to keep them calm. But many kids could not stop crying for mom and dad."

As ProPublica reporter Dara Lind pointed out on Twitter, young children of immigrants have lived in constant fear of their parents being swept up at any moment by President Donald Trump's deportation force.

"I've spoken to school employees in cities where there were no raids," noted Lind, "saying that sometimes kids came in midday asking to call and see if parents were still home."

In total, ICE agents carried out raids in six Mississippi cities, leaving outrage and despair in their wake. According to local news reports, workers suspected of being undocumented were rounded up, placed on buses, and sent to an ICE facility in Louisiana.

"Children finished their first day of school with no parents to go home to tonight," reported the Jackson Free Press. "Babies and toddlers remained at daycare with no guardian to pick them up. A child vainly searched a workplace parking lot for missing parents."

Buzzfeed reported the story of a woman named Dianne, whose fiancé was arrested in one of the raids on Wednesday.

On Wednesday morning, Dianne received an alarming call. It was her fiancé, dialing her from the chicken processing plant in a nearby central Mississippi town where he worked long shifts deboning meat.

"ICE is here!" he yelled. In the background, Dianne could hear other laborers terrified. The panic was palpable. One worker called out in Spanish, "Ayúdame! [Help me!]"

Dianne's fiancé, who came to the country more than two decades ago from Mexico without authorization, told her he had no way out and would not be able to escape immigration enforcement agents. His voice trembling, he told Dianne that she needed to make a promise before he got off the line: "Take care of my kids."

In a statement Wednesday, Jackson, Mississippi Mayor Chokwe Lumumba condemned the raids as "dehumanizing."

"I'm calling upon faith institutions in our community to become sanctuaries for our immigrant neighbors and protect them from potential harm," Lumumba said. "The City of Jackson strongly objects to the Trump administration's ICE raids."

Greisa Martínez Rosas, deputy executive director of rights group United We Dream, called the massive raids "an act of terrorism" against immigrant communities and said the "effect of ripping children from their parents at the border or stealing parents away from their children in Mississippi is the same."

"Just days after the El Paso massacre where a gun wielding maniac parroted Trump's anti-immigrant hate, a battalion of ICE agents abducted 680 Latinx and immigrant men and women on Trump's orders," tweeted Rosas. "For anyone who tries to desensitize the situation or blur the connections between the acts of terror this week I call bullshit. Latinx and immigrant kids and families have been terrorized this week."

"It is time for both parties in Congress to stop giving ICE and [Customs and Border Protection] billions of dollars and to hold them accountable," Rosas said. "ICE and CBP are the armed, taxpayer funded extension of Trump's anti-immigrant hate and must be stopped."

U.S. Pro-War Media Advocates

Consortium News, Opinion: For Cliff May, War Pays, Daniel McAdams (Executive Director, Ron Paul Institute), Aug. 8, 2019. About the only thing the Defense of Democracies’ founder does not love about war is fighting it himself, writes Daniel McAdams.

cliff mayTo say that Clifford May, founder of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, loves war would be an understatement. He loves almost everything about war and he thinks the U.S. should be in a lot more of them. He thinks that the U.S. should never go home, should never withdraw troops, should forever be searching for “bad guys” to fight, lest they come find us and fight us here. Because the rest of the world is exclusively focused on how to invade and destroy the United States.

He likes to invoke Sun Tzu and Clausewitz and Plato to make his case for endless wars. Neocons love to do that because it makes them sound erudite and grounded in history — when in fact they are neither. About the only thing Clifford May does not love about war is fighting it himself.

While others of May’s generation were being blown to bits in that lost cause called “Vietnam,” May was drinking brewskis at Sarah Lawrence College and then Columbia University. His experience of war consists of covering it as a pampered correspondent of the shining lights of the mainstream U.S. media like Newsweek and The New York Times.

In a recent Washington Times editorial, tellingly titled, “Why endless wars can’t be ended,” May argues that members of the U.S. military should be constantly in battle. Not a moment’s rest from the killing and being killed. After all "the men and women volunteering to serve in America’s armed forces are not doing so in order to hang around the house drinking brewskies.”

May’s is a rare look into the utter contempt the neoconservatives feel for members of the United States military. Veteran suicides are an epidemic in the United States and are in fact the second leading cause of death in the U.S. military. Veterans make up 18 percent of all U.S. suicides while representing only 8.5 percent of the population.

In The Washington Times piece, May argues passionately against President Donald Trump’s stated goal of removing U.S. troops from their positions occupying parts of Syria. U.S. troops in Syria are, in his telling, “both preventing a revival of the Islamic State, and helping contain the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

This above sentence is key to understanding May’s constant push for more U.S. involvement in the Middle East. Hint: It’s not really about America.

May’s Foundation for the Defense of Democracies is lavishly funded by single-issue billionaires who believe they are helping Israel by sending U.S. troops to the Middle East to constantly provoke and kill those they believe are Israel’s enemies. Thus far it has not brought peace any closer to either Israel or its rivals in the region. In fact, the opposite. But the money keeps flowing so May keeps blowing. And American troops (along with millions of innocents in the target countries) keep on dying.

$5b Uber Losses Reported

ny times logoNew York Times, Uber Posts $5.2 Billion Loss, Its Largest Ever, as Growth Slows, Kate Conger, Aug. 8, 2019. Uber reported its largest-ever loss and its slowest-ever revenue growth, renewing questions about the company’s prospects. Most of the losses stemmed from stock-based compensation after its I.P.O., while revenue was up 14 percent from a year ago, the slowest quarterly growth rate yet.

Aug. 7

  william barr smile fox screengrab Small

U.S. Attorney General William Barr, a longtime Deep State cover-up artist who began his career as a CIA analyst.

MintPress News, Opinion & Analysis: Did Bill Barr Call His Shot? Unanswered Questions about FBI’s Foreknowledge of the El Paso Shooting, whitney webb twitterWhitney Webb, right, Aug. 7, 2019. As a series of recent mass shootings have brought renewed demands for the U.S. government to do something to address the spike in “lone wolf” violence, the Trump administration’s decision to blame internet privacy, controversial websites like 8chan, and social media for the shootings has raised eyebrows from across the political spectrum, particularly in light of claims that Trump’s recent rhetoric about immigrants may have incited some of the shooters.

As a series of recent mass shootings have brought renewed demands for the U.S. government to do something to address the spike in “lone wolf” violence, the Trump administration’s decision to blame internet privacy, controversial websites like 8chan, and social media for the shootings has raised eyebrows from across the political spectrum, particularly in light of claims that Trump’s recent rhetoric about immigrants may have incited some of the shooters.

Yet, not long before the recent spate of mass shootings began, U.S. Attorney General William Barr gave a speech on July 23 in which he spoke of the need for all consumer electronic devices and encrypted software to have a backdoor for the government to bypass encryption, essentially calling for many of the same measures that Trump has proposed following the recent shootings.

FBI logoFurthermore, the FBI, which operates under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice and reports directly to William Barr, has now stated that it was aware of the El Paso shooter’s plan to murder civilians via a post made on 8chan at least two hours before the shooting took place.

8chan — a controversial website that the FBI is known to have used to incite violence as part of its controversial terrorist entrapment strategy — has since been banned in the shooting’s aftermath. In addition, less than two months ago, the FBI obtained a warrant for 8chan’s host — Ch.net — in which the Bureau demanded access to the entire contents of the accounts that were of interest in that specific investigation, suggesting that the FBI had increased access to information of hundreds of 8chan accounts in the lead-up to the recent shootings.

 Puerto Rican Leadership

washington post logowanda vázquez garced twitterWashington Post, Puerto Rico has a new governor, its third in less than a week, after court ruling forced Rosselló’s successor to resign, Samantha Schmidt​, Aug. 7, 2019. Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez Garced, shown in her Twitter photo, was sworn in as the new governor after a court ruled that Pedro Pierluisi was sworn in unconstitutionally.

Trump Family

Trump siblings, from left: Robert Trump, Elizabeth Trump Grau, Fred Trump Jr., Donald Trump, Maryanne Trump Barry (Trump Campaign Photo)

Trump siblings, from left: Robert Trump, Elizabeth Trump Grau, Fred Trump Jr., Donald Trump, Maryanne Trump Barry (Trump Campaign Photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump pressured his alcoholic brother about his career. Now he has regrets, Michael Kranish​, Aug. 8, 2019. In an interview about Fred Trump Jr.’s death from alcoholism, the president admitted mistakes and said he is applying lessons to the nation’s fight against opioids.

It is rare for Trump to express regret or admit mistakes. But he said his brother’s short, tragic life scarred him like no other event, and he said he remains haunted by watching Fred Jr.’s handsome features fade.

A number of Fred Jr.’s friends, who provided The Post with many new details about his life, said the president has too often told the story in a way that put Fred Jr. in the harshest light while painting himself as the virtuous brother who avoided alcohol. The president was asked to respond to their comments and recently did so.

Jack O’Donnell, a former Trump casino executive who later ran an Arizona addiction treatment center, said the president still has not come to terms with his brother’s life and death.

“It always felt like it was a dark family secret, and a subject [about] which he did not want to talk,” O’Donnell said. “There is generally a lot of shame around addiction, which is sad. I think the entire Trump family suffers a great deal of shame and unresolved trauma over Fred’s Jr. death.”

More On Epstein

MintPress News, Investigation: Mega Group, Maxwells, and Mossad: The Spy Story at the Heart of the Jeffrey Epstein Scandal (Part III), Whitney Webb, right, whitney webb twitterAug. 7, 2019. The picture painted by the evidence is not a direct Epstein tie to a single intelligence agency but a web linking key members of the Mega Group, politicians, and officials in both the U.S. and Israel, and an organized-crime network with deep business and intelligence ties in both nations.

As billionaire pedophile and alleged sex-trafficker, Jeffrey Epstein sits in prison, reports have continued to surface about his reported links to intelligence, his financial ties to several companies and “charitable” foundations, and his friendships with the rich and powerful as well as top politicians.

While Part I and Part II of this series, “The Jeffrey Epstein Scandal: Too Big to Fail,” have focused on the widespread nature of sexual blackmail operations in recent American history and their ties to the heights of American political power and the U.S. intelligence community, one key aspect of Epstein’s own sex-trafficking and blackmail operation that warrants examination is Epstein’s ties to Israeli intelligence and his ties to the “informal” pro-Israel philanthropist faction known as “the Mega Group.”

The Mega Group’s role in the Epstein case has garnered some attention, as Epstein’s main financial patron for decades, billionaire Leslie Wexner, was a co-founder of the group that unites several well-known businessmen with a penchant for pro-Israel and ethno-philanthropy (i.e., philanthropy benefiting a single ethnic or ethno-religious group).

However, as this report will show, another uniting factor among Mega Group members is deep ties to organized crime, specifically the organized crime network discussed in Part I of this series, which was largely led by notorious American mobster Meyer Lansky.

whitney webb twitterWhitney Webb, right, is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets, including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

 

Jeffrey Epstein's friend Leslie Wexner (via cropped screenshot of remarks at American Academy of AchievementJeffrey Epstein's friend Leslie Wexner (via cropped screenshot of remarks at American Academy of Achievement

ny times logoNew York Times, Billionaire Accuses Epstein of Misappropriating ‘Vast Sums of Money,’ Steve Eder and Emily Steel, Aug. 7, 2019. Leslie Wexner, the mogul behind Victoria’s Secret, detailed in a letter how his life became intertwined with Jeffrey Epstein, who faces sex-trafficking charges. Mr. Wexner used the letter to cast himself as an unwitting victim of his former adviser’s financial impropriety.

jeffrey epstein hands handsFor over 15 years, Jeffrey Epstein, right, served as a close personal adviser to Leslie H. Wexner, the billionaire mogul behind Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works. Now, Mr. Wexner says Mr. Epstein “misappropriated vast sums of money” from him and his family.

Mr. Wexner, the chief executive of the retail giant L Brands, included the accusation in a 564-word letter he sent Wednesday to the Wexner Foundation, giving his most detailed account yet of how his life and affairs became intertwined with Mr. Epstein, who was arrested last month and charged with sex trafficking involving girls as young as 14.

In the letter, Mr. Wexner said the misappropriation was first discovered in 2007 as he separated from Mr. Epstein. In early 2006, Florida authorities charged Mr. Epstein with multiple counts of molestation and unlawful sexual activity with a minor. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to state charges of solicitation of prostitution from a minor and was required to register as a sex offender.

“It was agreed that he should step back from the management of our personal finances,” Mr. Wexner said in the letter. “In that process, we discovered that he had misappropriated vast sums of money from me and my family. This was, frankly, a tremendous shock, even though it clearly pales in comparison to the unthinkable allegations against him now.”

Mr. Epstein, 66, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he and his employees paid dozens of underage girls to engage in sex acts. A lawyer for Mr. Epstein did not respond to Mr. Wexner’s new accusations. In a letter to L Brands employees last month, Mr. Wexner, 81, said he was “NEVER aware of the illegal activity charged in the indictment.”

Mr. Wexner used his letter on Wednesday, addressed to the “Wexner Foundation Community” and distributed to the press, to cast himself as an unwitting victim of his former adviser’s financial impropriety, after weeks of questions about his deep ties to Mr. Epstein.

In the same article, The Times reported that Mr. Wexner had given Mr. Epstein wide powers over his finances, philanthropy and private life.

leslie wexner black and white headshot“I first met Mr. Epstein in the mid-1980s, through friends who vouched for and recommended him as a knowledgeable financial professional,” Mr. Wexner, left, wrote in the letter to the foundation. “Mr. Epstein represented that he had various well-known and respected individuals both as his financial clients and in his inner circle. Based on positive reports from several friends, and on my initial dealings with him, I believed I could trust him.”

Before the separation, Wexner-backed entities financed a charity called C.O.U.Q., which Mr. Epstein controlled. That foundation accepted an $11.2 million donation from the Wexner Children’s Trust in 2002 and $10 million from the Leslie H. Wexner Charitable Fund in 2004.

In the letter sent Wednesday, Mr. Wexner said he had been “able to recover some of the funds” that he said were misappropriated by Mr. Epstein. That included a transfer of about $46 million worth of securities from C.O.U.Q. and a Virgin Island business controlled by Mr. Epstein to a foundation run by Mr. Wexner’s wife, Abigail Wexner, according to tax documents.

Case Against Trump

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion & Analysis, Neo-Nazis and white supremacists rife throughout Trump administration, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 8, 2019. Donald Trump is fond of pejoratively calling immigrants to the United States as “infestations,” echoing the same verbiage as used by neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

There is actually an infestation occurring within the Trump administration.

FBI, U.S. Courts

andrew mccabe c span may 11 2017

washington post logoWashington Post, Andrew McCabe sues FBI over firing, alleges plot by Trump to oust those he finds disloyal, Matt Zapotosky​, Aug. 8, 2019. Andrew McCabe, shown in a file photo above, the acting FBI director who authorized an investigation into President Trump for ties to Russia and possible obstruction of justice, filed a lawsuit against the bureau and the Justice Department on Wednesday, alleging he was illegally demoted and fired as part of a plot by Trump to remove those who were not politically loyal to him.

McCabe asked that a federal judge declare his termination a “legal nullity” and essentially allow him to retire from the FBI as planned, with all the benefits that would have afforded him. He was fired from the bureau in March 2018, a little more than 24 hours before FBI logoMcCabe was set to retire, costing him significant retirement benefits. The termination came after the Justice Department inspector general found that McCabe made an unauthorized disclosure to the media, then lied to investigators about it.

“It was Trump’s unconstitutional plan and scheme to discredit and remove DOJ and FBI employees who were deemed to be his partisan opponents because they were not politically loyal to him,” the lawsuit alleges, adding that McCabe’s firing “was a critical element of Trump’s plan and scheme.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Peter Strzok’s case against Donald Trump just took a surreal turn, Bill Palmer, Aug. 8, 2019. Earlier this week, former peter strzok croppedFBI agent Peter Strzok, right, initiated legal action to try to force the federal government to give him his old job back. His case seems solid, considering he was only fired because Donald Trump abused his position as President of the United States to pressure the FBI into firing him. Now the case has already taken a surreal turn.

bill palmer report logo headerPeter Strzok’s case has already been assigned to a federal judge, and according to Politico, that judge is Amy Berman Jackson. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because she was also the judge in one of the Paul Manafort trials, and because she’s currently the judge in the Roger Stone trial. This speaks to the fairly small number of federal judges in each circuit. It also points to trouble for Trump.

How can we put this diplomatically? There are federal judges who try their best to apply the law fairly, and then there are federal judges who don’t. We saw this when T.S. Ellis, the judge in the other Paul Manafort trial, made a point of giving amy berman jacksonManafort an absurdly lenient sentence – while claiming that career criminal Manafort had led an “otherwise blameless life.”

In contrast, Amy Berman Jackson has shown herself to be fair and impartial. She gave Paul Manafort a proper prison sentence. She’s been handling the controversial Roger Stone trial in a professional manner. Now that she’s been assigned the Peter Strzok case, she’s very likely to handle it correctly as well.

U.S. Voter Suppression: Data

NYU Brennan Center for Justice, How Big a Problem Is Voter Suppression? Voter Purge Rates Remain High, Analysis Finds, Kevin Morris, Aug. 1, 2019. A new Brennan Center analysis finds that at least 17 million voters were purged nationwide between 2016 and 2018. The data also reveals that jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination purged voters at a median rate that was 40 percent higher than others.

Before the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, these jurisdictions would have had to submit proposed changes to the Justice Department or a federal court to ensure they did not discriminate against protected minority groups.

Anti-Immigrant U.S. Groups

washington post logoWashington Post, After El Paso suspect echoed their views, anti-immigration groups seek distance, David Nakamura​, Aug. 8, 2019. Hours after the mass shooting in El Paso last weekend, Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, issued a tweet in the organization’s name denouncing the “tragic” carnage and urging Americans to “stand together against senseless rage and destructive impulses.”

FAIR, a leading proponent of restricting immigration, typically provides its 300,000 followers on Twitter and 2.1 million on Facebook with links to studies, news stories and podcasts warning of the economic, public safety and environmental costs of high immigration levels.

But Stein made no mention in his tweet of the online document that police think was written by the alleged killer, Patrick Wood Crusius, in which he cited many of the same arguments against immigration as a rationale and motivation for his attack that killed 22 people in a predominantly Hispanic city near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Stein’s decision to rapidly issue a statement condemning the El Paso massacre — the group did not comment on the weekend’s other mass shooting, in Dayton, Ohio — reflects a sense of alarm among FAIR and the small cohort of other restrictionist groups about potential political fallout from the massacres.

FAIR, along with two other Washington-based restrictionist groups, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and Numbers USA, have avoided linking their positions to race or ethnicity, but they have pushed similar arguments about the burden that immigrants place on the native-born, and the purported difficulties they pose to assimilation in American culture and society.

Aug. 7

U.S. Mass Shootings

washington post logoWashington Post, On visits to grieving cities, Trump avoids the public eye, John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez and Arelis R. Hernández​, Aug. 7, 2019. President Trump told reporters he "would like to stay out of the political fray" during his trip to Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso. But within hours, he was sniping at Democrats on Twitter, including Dayton's mayor and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who joined him on a visit to a hospital where shooting victims were treated.

• Analysis: Trump seeks credit for Ohio hospital visit
• Biden, in blistering speech, says Trump has ‘fanned the flames of white supremacy’

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Have we arrived at an inflection point in the gun debate? Amber Phillips, Aug. 7, 2019. Congress hasn’t passed any major gun-control legislation into law in more than two decades. That might not change because of what happened in El Paso and Dayton. But there are some unusual factors in play.

• A notable number of Republicans say they are now open to gun-control legislation that they’ve long opposed.
• The National Rifle Association is weakened.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Trump Visits Dayton, Protesters Gather, Michael D. Shear, Aug. 7, 2019. The president is visiting two cities in mourning after horrific mass shootings in Ohio and Texas. President Trump on Wednesday visited the Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, where White House officials said he planned to thank emergency and hospital workers and visit with families and victims of the city’s tragic shooting.

The president was greeted at the airport by the city’s mayor and other officials. His motorcade passed two recreational vehicles adorned with pro-Trump signs and flags as well as one man standing outside of a store advertising survival supplies with a sign that appeared to object to so-called red-flag laws that prevent people with mental illness from getting guns: “Red Flag is Dystopic Future.”

Protesters gathered in Dayton to greet Mr. Trump, waving signs that said “Dump Trump” and “Do Something!” The protesters were met by demonstrators who waved competing signs supportive of Mr. Trump.

washington post logodjt pepe twitter imageWashington Post, Trump to face skepticism, protests in El Paso, Dayton, Toluse Olorunnipa, Arelis R. Hernández, John Wagner and Tim Craig​, Aug. 7, 2019. The open repudiation of a visiting president in the aftermath of a mass tragedy was striking as a growing chorus of critics made clear that President Trump [shown in a Pepe the Frog Twitter image) would not be universally welcome.

• Looser gun laws are about to go into effect in Texas, weeks after El Paso
• House Democrats tell McConnell: Pass stricter gun laws now

washington post logoWashington Post, Rise of far-right violence spurs calls to revise post-9/11 security priorities, Greg Miller, Aug. 7, 2019 (print ed.). Shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, prompted a roster of former U.S. counterterrorism officials to say some of the vast resources allocated to fight international Islamist groups should go to domestic terrorism.

U.S.-China Trade War

washington post logochina flag SmallWashington Post, Trump is increasingly relying on himself — not his aides — in trade war with China, Damian Paletta, Aug. 7, 2019 (print ed.). The Treasury Department’s formal announcement that it had labeled China a “currency manipulator” came six hours after President Trump did it himself, on social media.

U.S. Embargo On Venezuela

wsj logovenezuela flag waving customWall Street Journal, U.S. Expands Sanctions Against Venezuela Into an Embargo, Vivian Salama, Aug. 7, 2019. New measures mark a significant escalation of pressure against the regime of President Nicolás Maduro and countries including Russia and China that continue to support him.

U.S. Crackdown on Migrants

Associated Press via Magnolia Live, U.S. immigration raid nets 680 arrests at seven Mississippi food processing plants, Staff report, Aug. 7, 2019. U.S. immigration officials raided numerous Mississippi food processing plants Wednesday, arresting 680 mostly Latino workers in what marked the largest workplace sting in at least a decade.

The raids, planned months ago, happened just hours before President Donald Trump was scheduled to visit El Paso, Texas, the majority-Latino city where a man linked to an online screed about a “Hispanic invasion” was charged in a shooting that left 22 people dead in the border city.

ICE logoWorkers filled three buses — two for men and one for women — at a Koch Foods Inc. plant in tiny Morton, 40 miles (64 kilometers) east of Jackson. They were taken to a military hangar to be processed for immigration violations. About 70 family, friends and residents waved goodbye and shouted, “Let them go! Let them go!” Later, two more buses arrived.

A tearful 13-year-old boy whose parents are from Guatemala waved goodbye to his mother, a Koch worker, as he stood beside his father. Some employees tried to flee on foot but were captured in the parking lot.

About 600 agents fanned out across the plants involving several companies, surrounding the perimeters to prevent workers from fleeing. They occurred in small towns near Jackson with a workforce made up largely of Latino immigrants, including Bay Springs, Carthage, Canton, Morton, Pelahatchie and Sebastapol.

Such large shows of force were common under President George W. Bush, most notably at a kosher meatpacking plant in tiny Postville, Iowa, in 2008. President Barack Obama avoided them, limiting his workplace immigration efforts to low-profile audits that were done outside of public view.

Koch Foods, based in Park Ridge, Illinois, is one of the largest poultry producers in the U.S. and employs about 13,000 people, with operations in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio and Tennessee. Forbes ranks it as the 135th largest privately held company in the U.S., with an estimated $3.2 billion in annual revenue. The Morton plant produces more than 700,000 tons of poultry feed a year, company officials said in February. The company has no relation to prominent conservative political donors and activists Charles and David Koch.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, House Democrats ask federal judge to force testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn, don mcgahn cato screengrabEllen Nakashima and Karoun Demirjia, Aug. 7, 2019. McGahn, right, figured prominently in Robert Mueller’s investigation of whether President Trump obstructed justice.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Billionaire owner of SoulCycle, Miami Dolphins endures backlash over Trump fundraiser, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Aug. 7, 2019. News of an upcoming fundraiser for President Trump at the swanky Hamptons home of billionaire Stephen Ross drew swift backlash Wednesday from prominent customers of Ross’s luxury fitness brands and a player on the Miami Dolphins, the National Football League franchise Ross owns.

Some high-profile LGBTQ activists and celebrities took to social media to call for a boycott of Equinox fitness clubs and SoulCycle over the fundraiser, which was organized to support Trump’s reelection and comes with a price tag as high as $250,000 for an audience with the president.

“Hey @Equinox - what’s your policy for canceling memberships once a member finds out your owner is enabling racism and mass murder?” comedian Billy Eichner tweeted Wednesday afternoon. He followed up later with a tweet saying he had indeed canceled his membership.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, NRA chief sought purchase of mansion in wake of Parkland shooting, Carol D. Leonnig and Beth Reinhard, Aug. 7, 2019. Wayne LaPierre said he was worried about being targeted and needed a more secure place to live after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions.

The chief executive of the National Rifle Association sought to have the nonprofit buy him a luxury mansion last year after a mass shooting at a Florida high school, selecting a French country-style estate in a gated Dallas-area golf club, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions.

nra logo CustomWayne LaPierre, the longtime head of the NRA, told associates he was worried about being targeted and needed a more secure place to live after 17 people were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the people said.

LaPierre and his wife, Susan, were intensely involved in the selection of the property, rejecting an upscale high rise in Dallas with numerous security features in favor of a 10,000-square-foot estate with lakefront and golf course views in Westlake, Tex., on the market for about $6 million, according to emails and text messages described to The Washington Post.

National Press Club, Cummings wants Congress back early to address gun violence, Michelle Amber, Aug. 7, 2019. Rep. Elijah Cummings, national  press club logoD-Md, called on Congress to return early from its August recess and convene a session on gun violence in response to the latest mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

Speaking at a National Press Club Headliners luncheon Wednesday, Cummings, the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said, “Gun violence seems to know no bounds.” He added, “The American people are begging us for more than thoughts and prayers. They want action.”

People are dying, he said, adding that they are afraid to go shopping or even go to the movies. People want to live in a country where their kids are safe going to the mall, to Walmart, and to school. He added that Congress has the responsibility to do whatever is necessary to save lives.

Cummings called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, to bring legislation passed by the House to the Senate floor for a vote and on to President Donald Trump for his signature. The legislation includes expansion of background checks for gun buyers.

The representative said he is not persuaded by talk in recent days by Republicans about new gun safety bills. “You have a lot of talk. But in the end, nothing happens. They will make these glorious statements,” he added. “But they know there will be no repercussions because the President has their back” and McConnell has Trump’s back, he said.

While not addressing Trump by name, Cummings called for “those in the highest levels of the government” to “stop invoking fear, using racist language, and encouraging reprehensible behavior. It only creates more division amongst us,” he said. He added that rarely a week goes by without him receiving a death threat for just doing his job.

Cummings dismissed as"distractions" numerous tweets and comments critical of him, his Baltimore home town and his district, which the president called “rat and rodent infected.”

“I want President Trump to come to my district,” he said, adding he has not been able to reach the president to invite him. “I want him to come and look at my entire city. I’ll ride with him for hours if he asked to,” adding, “I want him to see all the wonderful things that are happening.” He said that his district is diverse and includes “the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor.”

In defending his constituents, Cummings said there are thousands of people who are working hard every day. Others are tutoring children and coaching sports teams to help “children reach their destinies,” he added.

When asked about whether he favors impeachment of Trump, Cummings replied that the “time for impeachment may come” but for now he is taking guidance from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “The day that any administration disobeys a court order, I am for impeachment,” he added.

National Press Club, Montana governor charts path to presidency, seeks unity among rival Democrats, Louise Walsh, Aug. 8, 2019.  As the national  press club logonation reeled from mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana called on his Democratic rivals to unite around issues Americans truly care about such as sensible gun legislation and health care. He spoke at a National Press Club Headliners event Wednesday

“No real hunter needs a 30-round clip, a bump stock. No real hunter needs a weapon of war, or wants a terrorist or domestic abuser…to get his hands on a weapon,” said the Democratic presidential hopeful, who calls himself a hunter and gun-owner.

The only Democrat reelected in a state President Trump won, Bullock touted his winning record with a Republican-controlled legislature. He explained why that record makes him the best candidate to defeat President Trump in 2020.

“I took on the big banks and used the money we recovered to keep people in their homes,” he said. Laws enacted on his watch saved rural hospitals, cracked down on drug costs and lowered health insurance, ended “dark and foreign money” in Montana elections, reauthorized and expanded Medicaid and reformed student loans. Those are among his favorite examples of how citizens saw their lives improved, he said.

Bullock bristled at being called a moderate when former Club President Thomas Burr introduced him, but liked being called an incrementalist. “For 54 years we’ve added to Medicare,” he said, noting that Medicare didn’t cover hospice care until 1982, and prescription drugs weren’t added until 2003. As for the moderate label, “Making sure everyone has coverage isn’t moderate,” he said, nor is kicking all “dark money and foreign money” out of Montana elections.

“The NRA and other extremist groups have a stranglehold on our politics, with their fists full of dollars” he said. He recalled an earlier time when the NRA was “a hunting, gun safety and shooting organization.” Since 9/11, more Americans have been killed by domestic terrorism, he noted, than by foreign terrorism, according to the FBI. Bullock favors universal background checks, red flag laws, banning bump stocks, and limiting assault weapons among other gun restrictions. He’s able to talk with gun-owners because “I know their hearts.” Gun owners, he added, “respect the weapon and don’t want it to get in the wrong hands.”

Pointing out Trump’s “hateful rhetoric about communities,” Bullock never imagined he’d say this about an American president: “[Trump] gives aid and comfort to the enemies of democracy abroad and incites the enemies of decency at home.”

“That’s why I’m here today,” he said: “I want to see Donald Trump’s presidency end.” He warned his fellow Democrats: “We cannot defeat Donald Trump and the politics of personal destruction if we practice the politics of self-destruction.”

That’s one reason he doesn’t understand why, when Republicans tried and failed 70 times to repeal and replace Obamacare, Democrats are trying the same thing: “It makes no sense to go back to square one. If you abolish private health care, you will lose.”

Just like a house with good bones and a solid foundation, but with leaks in its roof and pipes, the Affordable Care Act needs fixing: “My opponents look at our healthcare system and see a tear-down, I see an add-on. We don’t need a wrecking ball for Obamacare, just a repair job.” Trump will be reelected, he said, if Democrats try to take away their private insurance.

Bullock favors a public option for uninsured Americans, opposes health care for undocumented workers as does the Affordable Care Act, and he wants DACA recipients protected. Unlike some Democrats running for president, he opposes decriminalizing unlawful entry into the United States. If Democrats pursue it, they’re “walking into a trap Trump has set for them.” For 90 years, he said, we enforced borders without putting children into cages. Instead, he calls for comprehensive immigration reform.

On the ballot in 2020, he said, is not only the U.S. presidency and a new Congress, but the American Dream. That dream isn’t dead, but it is on life support, Bullock told his audience. He’s running to fix it. Summoning words from Martin Luther King, he said the American Dream isn’t a myth, “it’s a promissory note.”

More On Cummings Speech

Roll Call, Cummings says he’d like to invite Trump to Baltimore but can’t reach him, Lindsey McPherson, Aug 7, 2019. Maryland Democrat addresses president’s recent attacks on his home city Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings said Wednesday that he’d like President Donald Trump, who recently attacked him and his hometown of Baltimore, to visit his district, but he’s been unable to reach Trump to personally invite him.

“Ah God, I want him to come,” the Democratic congressman said at a Wednesday luncheon at the National Press Club, as he addressed Trump’s recent tweetstorm disparaging Baltimore.

Cummings said he wants Trump to see the whole city of Baltimore, as well as other parts of his district, like Baltimore and Howard counties “where the richest of the rich” live.

Sex Trafficking Raid

Las Vegas Review-Journal, FBI rescues 14 minors in Las Vegas sex trafficking sweep, Rio Lacanlale, Aug. 7, 2019. The FBI recently rescued 14 child sex trafficking victims and arrested 33 suspected traffickers in Las Vegas, the highest total in the U.S. during a nationwide sweep in July known as Operation Independence Day.

During the monthlong effort, 161 FBI-led operations were conducted around the country and in U.S. territories, including Guam, with the help of state and local law enforcement agencies, according to the bureau. In all, 103 minors were identified or rescued, and 67 suspected traffickers were taken into custody, prompting 60 new federal investigations.

The local victims were between 14 and 17 years old, while all the suspected traffickers were adults, said Las Vegas FBI spokeswoman Sandy Breault.

Those figures, announced by the agency on Tuesday, put Las Vegas at the top of a list of 33 cities in which juvenile victims were given help and counseling. Dallas came next with 13 victims, followed by Detroit’s nine. Seattle and Atlanta each had six rescues.

“The FBI is fiercely focused on recovering child victims and arresting the sex traffickers who exploit them,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement. “Through operations like this, the FBI helps child victims escape the abusive life of sex trafficking.”

Turkey-U.S. Plan

Al Jazeera, Turkey, US agree to set up operation centre for Syria safe zone, Tessa Fox, Aug. 7, 2019. Agreement between NATO allies appears to avert, for now, a threatened Turkish operation into northern Syria. Turkey and the United States have agreed to establish a joint operations centre in order to coordinate and manage the setting up of a safe zone in northern Syria.

The agreement on Wednesday came after three days of intense negotiations between officials from the two NATO allies in Turkey's capital, Ankara. The statement did not specify how and when the zone would be created, but it appeared to avert, for the time being, a threatened Turkish operation into the region east of the Euphrates River in Syria.

Pakistan-India Crisis

ny times logoNew York Times, Pakistan Warns India Over ‘Illegal Actions’ on Kashmir, Kai Schultz, Suhasini Raj and Salman Masood, Aug. 7, 2019.   Pakistan announced on Wednesday that it would halt trade with India and expel the country’s top diplomat in imran khan pakistan pmIslamabad in retaliation for India’s decision to unilaterally eliminate the autonomy of Kashmir.

The Pakistani government, which also claims the restive region of Kashmir, said it would recall its own chief diplomat based in New Delhi.

india flag mapA statement from a national security committee headed by the Pakistani prime minister, Imran Khan, shown at right in a file photo, said the changes would be put in place because of “illegal actions” by the Indian government regarding Kashmir, which has a Muslim majority.

Mr. Khan denounced Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, accusing his government of promoting “an ideology that puts Hindus above all other religions and seeks to establish a state that represses all other religious groups.”

Transitions: Toni Morrison

washington post logoWashington Post, Toni Morrison (1931–2019) — Nobel laureate who transfigured American literature dies at 88, Emily Langer​, Aug. 7, 2019 (print ed.). In books such as “The Bluest Eye” and “Beloved,” Morrison conjured a black girl longing for blue eyes, a slave mother who kills her child to save her from bondage and other indelible characters who helped transfigure a literary canon long closed to African Americans.

toni morrison 1993 nobel prize portraitToni Morrison, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist who conjured a black girl longing for blue eyes, a slave mother who kills her child to save her from bondage and other indelible characters who helped transfigure a literary canon long closed to African Americans, died Aug. 5 at a hospital in the Bronx. She was 88. She is shown in her 1993 Nobel Prize portrait.

Paul Bogaards, a spokesman for the publishing company Alfred A. Knopf, announced the death and said the cause was complications from pneumonia.

Ms. Morrison spent an impoverished childhood in Ohio steel country, began writing during what she described as stolen time as a single mother and became the first black woman to receive the Nobel Prize in literature. Critically acclaimed and widely loved, she received recognitions as diverse as the Pulitzer Prize and the selection of her novels — four of them — for the book club led by talk-show host Oprah Winfrey.

 Puerto Rican Leadership

ny times logoNew York Times, Puerto Rico Supreme Court Rules New Governor Was Unlawfully Sworn In, Patricia Mazzei and Frances Robles, Aug. 7, 2019. The portion of the law cited to justify Pedro Pierluisi’s ascent to the governor’s seat is unconstitutional, the court unanimously ruled. Wanda Vázquez, the secretary of justice, may be sworn in as the island’s third governor in five days.

The Puerto Rico Supreme Court threw the leadership of the island into new turmoil on Wednesday, ruling that the new governor who took over last week, Pedro R. Pierluisi, was sworn in on unconstitutional grounds.

The unanimous ruling ousts Mr. Pierluisi and paves the way for Wanda Vázquez, the secretary of justice, to be sworn in as Puerto Rico’s third governor in five days. Ms. Vázquez has said she does not want the job but would fulfill her duties as next in the line of succession.

The 29-page ruling, which states that Mr. Pierluisi “cannot remain in the position of governor,” will take effect at 5 p.m., “to guarantee an orderly succession.” Mr. Pierluisi has until then to ask for a reconsideration, though the agreement from the nine justices, reached just a day after receiving briefs in the case, suggests the court’s decision is firm.

Media #MeToo Tales

roger ailes wWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Roger Ailes was key player in Palm Beach sexual assaulter club, Aug.7, 2019 (subscription required). Perhaps no one was more instrumental in propelling Donald Trump into the White House than the late founder and CEO of Fox News, Roger Ailes.

Ailes, a media adviser to Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan and a producer of the Mike Douglas Show in Philadelphia, was an integral part of Trump’s initial “brain trust” of campaign advisers, headed by political dirty trickster Roger Stone.

Abusive Treatment Of Assange, Manning

Consortium News, Analysis: New Fears for Julian Assange, Joe Lauria, right, Aug. 7, 2019. Journalist John Pilger visited imprisoned WikiLeaks joe lauria head bookfounder Julian Assange on Tuesday and has raised an alarm about Assange’s “deteriorated” health. Pilger said in a Tweet on Wednesday that Assange is “isolated” and treated “worse than a murderer.”

“I now fear for him,” Pilger wrote.

Assange (shown below in a graphic by the human rights magazine The Indicter) is suffering from an undisclosed ailment and has been confined to the hospital ward at the maximum security prison for several weeks. He was arrested on April 11 by British police who were called by the Ecuadorian government into its London embassy in apparent violation of international asylum law. Assange had been granted political asylum by Ecuador in 2012. He had been suffering health problems in the embassy but British authorities refused to allow him from leaving the embassy for treatment without being arrested.

julian assange and swedens politically appointed judges indicter graphicAlmost immediately after his arrest the United States unveiled an indictment against him for alleged intrusion into a government computer although the indictment itself describes normal procedures of investigative journalism: encouraging a source to provide more information and working to protect the source’s identity.

On May 23, Assange was charged under the U.S. Espionage Act for possession and dissemination of classified information given to him by WikiLeak‘s source, Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. army intelligence analyst. It was the first time the Espionage Act was used against a journalist for publishing classified information.

Manning, meanwhile, is imprisoned in Alexandria, VA for refusing to testify to a grand jury on Assange’s case. Since Assange has already been twice indicted, it is not clear if a new indictment against him is being prepared.

Judge Imposes New Manning Fines, Denies Hearing

chelsea manning screen shot 2018 06 05 media convention

The now-imprisoned anti-torture former Army intelligence officer and whistleblower Chelsea Manning, right, speaking in Germany in 2018 (screen shot)

ShadowProof, Judge Denies Chelsea Manning A Hearing, Insists Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars In Fines Are Not Punishment, Kevin Gosztola, Aug. 7, 2019. A federal judge denied Chelsea Manning’s motion to reconsider fines imposed against her for refusing to testify before the grand jury investigating WikiLeaks. He also undermined due process and refused to hold a hearing.

“Manning has the ability to comply with the court’s financial sanctions or will have the ability after her release from confinement,” Judge Anthony Trenga ruled. “Therefore, the imposed fines of $500 per day after 30 days and $1,000 per day after 60 days is not so excessive as to relieve her of those sanctions or to constitute punishment rather than a coercive measure.”

Trenga additionally insisted that he had the authority to confine her and impose fines as well.

“I am disappointed but not at all surprised. The government and the judge must know by now that this doesn’t change my position one bit,” Manning declared in response to the decision.

Manning has been in jail for 147 days. She already owes $38,000 in fines, as of August 7, and she could owe up to $441,000—nearly a half million dollars—if the sanctions continue.

Her legal team said Manning will “remain confined for another year and will face ongoing financial hardship,” unless Judge Trenga or a higher court is convinced that the fines imposed will “never coerce her compliance” and amount to punishment.

“She has no personal savings, an uncertain speaking career that has been abruptly halted by her incarceration, and is moving her few belongings into storage, as she can no longer afford to pay her rent,” Manning’s legal team made clear in their motion.

Manning’s attorneys further indicated that Manning attempted to share her financial records with the federal court in an effort to show that she has debt and “compromised earning capacity,” which has “left her balance sheets near zero.” But the court apparently never completed a financial assessment of her ability to pay fines.

Trenga acknowledged the “substantial number of financial records documenting her assets, liabilities, and current and future earnings” that were shared with the court. Yet, he maintained they did not present “any new evidence, arguments, or legal authorities” that required the court to conclude it had committed an error by imposing detention, as well as fines.

The judge has “almost unreviewable discretion” when it comes to interpreting her financial records, according to Manning’s legal team.

“Despite the fact that Chelsea is currently deeply in debt, and cannot work while incarcerated, Judge Trenga was able to conclude that fines totalling $441,000 fall within the parameters of a ‘coercive’ sanction, and do not intrude into the forbidden realm of the punitive,” her attorneys stated.

He also stated his belief that continued confinement may yet exert a coercive impact upon Ms. Manning, and asserted that he retains the authority to keep her confined while simultaneously imposing daily fines, a point of law vigorously disputed by Ms. Manning’s lawyers.

Trenga maintained that fining and jailing Manning fell within the court’s “traditional contempt powers.” Manning’s attorneys disputed this “point of law” and argued these types of fines are often reserved for corporations because they can absorb fines without suffering homelessness.

“Rarely, individuals are fined, but counsel can find no case in which fines were assessed as to an individual other than where the individual was a sophisticated financial actor and the underlying contempt involved disobedience of a court order directing the management of a large amount of money,” they asserted in their motion.

Manning can appeal the decision, however, the intransigence of the judge does not bode well for someone who has already endured substantial trauma as a result of her return to confinement.

Aug. 6

Far-Right Violence

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Condemns White Supremacy but Stops Short of Major Gun Controls, Michael Crowley and Maggie Haberman, djt justice liberty truth metooAug. 6, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump on Monday denounced white supremacy in the wake of twin mass shootings over the weekend, and citing the threat of “racist hate,” he summoned the nation to address what he called a link between the recent carnage and violent video games, mental illness and internet bigotry.

But he stopped well short of endorsing the kind of broad gun control measures that activists, Democrats and nra logo Customsome Republicans have sought for years, such as tougher background checks for gun buyers and the banning of some weapons and accessories such as high-capacity magazines.

And while he warned of “the perils of the internet and social media,” he offered no recognition of his own use of those platforms to promote his brand of divisive politics. Instead, he focused on a rising intolerance that he has been slow to condemn in the past.

See "Commentary On Far-Right Terrorism" below.

20 Years For Pro-Trump Terrorist

cesar sayoc jr trump rally no credit

Cesar Sayoc, shown at center at a Trump rally, was sentenced to a 20-year term for mailing explosives to Trump critics

washington post logoWashington Post, Cesar Sayoc, who mailed explosive devices to Trump’s critics, sentenced to 20 years in prison, Philip Bump and Devlin Barrett​, Aug. 5, 2019.  The former strip club worker had pleaded guilty to mailing inoperative pipe bombs in the days leading up to last fall's midterm elections.

cesar sayoc nypost front page oct 27 2018Cesar Sayoc, the Florida man who mailed explosive devices to prominent Democrats and media figures, was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison after a judge concluded that Sayoc hated his victims but had not meant to kill them.

Prosecutors had sought a life sentence for the 57-year-old former pizza delivery man and strip club worker, who mailed 16 inoperative pipe bombs last fall, acting out his paranoid delusions and intense support for President Trump.

“I am beyond so very sorry for what I did,” Sayoc told U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff. “Now that I am a sober man, I know that I was a sick man. I should have listened to my mother, the love of my life.”

djt maga hatProsecutors and defense lawyers spent much of Monday’s hearing wrangling over how dangerous the packages truly were to those who handled them.

The judge concluded that Sayoc, “though no firearms expert, was fully capable” of building a functioning bomb if he had wanted to do so. “He hated his victims,” the judge added, “but did not wish them dead, at least not by his own hand.”

Sayoc’s defense lawyer Ian Marcus Amelkin pushed for a 10-year sentence, saying he was using large quantities of steroids when he became obsessed in his support for Trump, consuming conspiracy theories from Fox News and elsewhere that fed his rising paranoia.

hillary clinton twitter“It is impossible to separate the political climate and his mental illness when it comes to the slow boil,” Marcus said. Marcus said that Trump’s rhetoric in office contributed to Sayoc’s beliefs, noting that the prosecution — working for Trump’s Department of Justice — failed to make mention of the president in its prosecuting documents.

The Sayoc case began weeks before the 2018 congressional elections, when suspicious packages were mailed to Hillary Clinton, right, former president Barack Obama, and actor Robert De Niro, among others.

Dayton Shooter

New York Post, Inside the dark thoughts and far-left leanings of Dayton shooter Connor Betts, Yaron Steinbuch, Amanda Woods and Aaron Feis, Aug. 6, 2019. Dayton killer Connor Betts’ online footprint provided a glimpse Tuesday into his dark thoughts and far-left political leanings — even as investigators worked to pin down a concrete motive for the massacre.

connor betts facebook“Millenials have a message for the Joe Biden generation: hurry up and die,” read a message retweeted hours before the shooting by Twitter account @iamthespookster, believed to have belonged to Betts (shown in a Facebook photo).

The account, yanked offline in the wake of the early Sunday bloodbath, included multiple selfies that strongly resemble the 24-year-old, and a bio section that reflected what few details have emerged of his personal life, including “he/him / anime fan / metalhead / leftist.”

It’s capped with a dire declaration: “I’m going to hell and I’m not coming back.”

The account fired off thousands of messages — including some supporting presidential hopeful senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and the sometimes violent Antifa, or anti-fascist, movement — since it was created in 2013, according to The Washington Post, which snagged over 3,000 of the tweets before the page was pulled.

They include embraces of far-left stances and politicians — including presidential-hopeful senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont — as well as the antifa, or anti-fascist, protesters, sometimes known to resort to violent tactics.

“I want socialism, and i’ll not wait for the idiots to finally come round to understanding,” reads one tweet from the account, according to Newsweek.

The account retweeted posts blasting federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents as “monsters” and referring to migrant detention centers along the southern border as “concentration camps” — echoing language recently used by firebrand New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

“Cut the fences down. Slice ICE tires. Throw bolt cutters over the fences,” reads one message, encouraging people to actively resist the crackdown on illegal immigrants.

“Losing your personal information in a massive data breach is just a thing that happens now, like 110 degree days and regular mass shootings,” reads another message.

Yet another missive, at odds with the Twitter account’s stream of standard far-left talking points, encourages people to arm themselves.

Climate Change

washington post logoWashington Post, July was the hottest month humans have ever recorded, data shows, Brady Dennis and Andrew Freedman, Aug. 6, 2019 (print ed.). "This is not your grandfather’s summer,” said United Nations Secretary General António Guterres. Scientists found that the planet is on pace for one of its hottest years, and the data all but guarantee that the period from 2015 to 2019 will go down as the warmest five-year period on record.

U.S.-China Trade War

ny times logoNew York Times, Stocks Plunge After China Uses Currency to Escalate Trade War, Ana Swanson, Alexandra Stevenson and Jeanna Smialek, Aug. 6, 2019 (print ed.). The trade war between the United States and China entered a more dangerous phase on Monday, as Beijing allowed its currency to weaken, Chinese enterprises stopped making new purchases of American farm goods and President Trump’s Treasury Department formally labeled China a currency manipulator.

china flag SmallThe escalation shook world markets as nervous investors looked for safe places to park their money. Wall Street suffered its worst day of the year, with the S&P 500 closing down nearly 3 percent. Selling was especially heavy in the trade-sensitive technology, consumer discretionary and industrial sectors.

Yields on United States Treasuries, which fall as prices rise, dropped as investors sought safety in government-backed bonds. Benchmark indexes in Asia and Europe also fell. The sell-off looked poised to continue into Tuesday, as Asian markets slumped again and futures markets predicted a glum Wall Street opening.

• U.S., China trade blows in unrestrained economic conflict, sending markets plunging
• China moves to keep currency

Indian-Pakistani Nuclear Threat?

india flag mapWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump's incompetent foreign policy sets stage for nuclear war, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 6, 2019 (subscription required). With a single lie, Donald Trump set the stage for what could very easily result in the first nuclear weapons exchange between two nations possessing such weapons and the means to deliver them – India and Pakistan.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Peter Strzok, whose anti-Trump texts got him fired from the FBI, sues for reinstatement, Matt Zapotosky, Aug. 6, 2019.
peter strzok croppedThe FBI agent whose anti-Trump text messages got him removed from the investigation into Russia’s election interference and ultimately fired from the bureau asked in a lawsuit Tuesday to be reinstated and awarded back pay, arguing he was unfairly terminated for criticizing the president.

Peter Strzok, right, asserted in the suit that the Trump administration had “consistently tolerated and even encouraged FBI logopartisan political speech by federal employees” — but only if that speech praised the president and attacked his opponents.

The former FBI agent who President Trump has attacked repeatedly alleged that his removal was “part of a broader campaign against the very principle of free speech,” which he said was “initiated and led by” the commander-in-chief.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump, RNC sue to block Calif. law seeking president’s tax returns, John Wagner​, Aug. 6, 2019. The measure, signed late last month by Gov. Gavin Newsom, requires presidential and gubernatorial candidates to disclose tax returns to qualify for the primary ballot.

Washington Examiner, Federal Election Commission investigating ex-AOC chief of staff Chakrabarti, Alana Goodman, Aug. 6, 2019. Two organizations linked to Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her outgoing senior aides are the subject of a Federal Election Commission investigation into alleged campaign finance violations, the Washington Examiner has learned.

saikat chakrabarti twitterThe FEC opened an official case on March 7 to examine complaints against Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress, two campaign committees started by Ocasio-Cortez’s former chief of staff Shaikat Chakrabarti, right, according to an FEC confirmation letter disclosed to the Washington Examiner. The matter was assigned a case number and remains open. Ocasio-Cortez, below left, also sat on the board of Justice Democrats from December 2017 to June 2018, the Daily Caller reported.

The original FEC complaint was filed by the National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group, and claimed the Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress PACs were engaged in "an elaborate scheme to avoid proper disclosure of campaign expenditures.”

alexandria ocasio cortez officialCampaign finance records indicate that the two PACs transferred over $1 million in political donations to private companies controlled by Chakrabarti, according to the complaint, which was first reported by the Washington Examiner in March. The private companies, which had names that were similar to the PACs, are not legally subject to the same spending restrictions and disclosure requirements as political action committees.

In 2016 and 2017, Chakrabarti’s PACs raised about $3.3 million for a project to help elect liberal candidates, primarily from small donors. During this time, the committees transferred over $1 million to two shell companies controlled by Chakrabarti with names similar to one of the PACs, Brand New Campaign LLC and Brand New Congress LLC, according to federal election filings. According to the National Legal and Policy Center complaint, the arrangement skirted reporting requirements and may have violated the $5,000 limit on contributions from federal PACs to candidates.

Tom Anderson, director of the National Legal and Policy Center’s Government Integrity Project, said he welcomed the FEC’s decision to look into the matter.

“Representative Ocasio-Cortez and Saikat Chakrabarti have engaged in the most blatant scheme we have seen to avoid transparency and accountability concerning campaign finance and financial disclosure laws,” said Anderson.

National Press Club, NPC Headliners Luncheon: Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Staff report, Aug. 6, 2019.  Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., national  press club logochairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, will speak at a National Press Club Headliners luncheon on Aug. 7.

elijah cummings head and shoulders oCummings, right, will address the Oversight Committee’s investigations into the Trump Administration. In a recent letter to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Cummings complained that the White House had ignored the committee's requests for information and has not complied with the Presidential Records Act. The committee is seeking notes on President Trump's private conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Cummings, right,who represents Baltimore in Maryland’s 7th congressional district, will also discuss the Oversight Committee’s investigation into the prescription drug industry’s pricing practices, launched earlier this year.

Now serving in his 13th term in the House, Cummings has been an outspoken advocate for affordable health care. He has also been a leader in the fight against drug abuse, as well as the push for urban revitalization and assistance to lower income Americans.

National Press Club, NPC Headliners Newsmaker: Democratic presidential candidate Gov. Steve Bullock, Staff report, Aug. 6, 2019. national  press club logoDemocratic presidential candidate and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock will participate in a National Press Club Newsmaker event Aug. 7 in the Club’s First Amendment Lounge.

steve bullock plaid shirt campaignGov. Bullock, right, will discuss the details of his plans to reform campaign finance – an issue that has been central to his bid for the democratic presidential nomination. Gov. Bullock, who was not able to participate in the first round of 2020 Democratic primary debates after the DNC disqualified a survey that he needed in order to make the cut, has secured his place on stage for the second round of debates set for July 30 and 31.

Sworn into office on January 7, 2013, Gov. Bullock has worked with a Republican majority in the state legislature to expand Medicaid, freeze state college tuition and pass one of the nation’s most progressive state-level campaign finance reform packages. He also signed an Executive Order requiring contractors doing business with the State of Montana to disclose their spending on political campaigns. Prior to his election as Governor, Bullock served as Montana Attorney General from 2009 to 2013.

#MeToo: Boy Scouts

washington post logoWashington Post, Boy Scouts failed to stop hundreds of previously unreported sexual predators, a lawsuit alleges, Kayla Epstein​, Aug. 6, 2019. A group of lawyers is claiming to have uncovered hundreds of previously unreported cases of sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts, according to a lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania on Monday. The plaintiff in the case, named only as S.D. because he wishes to keep his identity private, is alleging that he was assaulted “hundreds” of times by a scout leader in Pennsylvania over the course of approximately four years in the 1970s.

boy scouts logo customThe lawsuit alleges that S.D.'s abuse would not have been possible had it not been for the negligence of the Boy Scouts, that the organization conspired to keep incidents of sexual assault a secret, and that the organization and other defendants engaged in “reckless misconduct” in failing to protect its young participants.

The litigation stems from an effort to unearth previously unreported cases of child sexual abuse in one of America’s most prominent youth organizations, spearheaded by Abused in Scouting, a group of law firms that collaborate on bringing such cases to light.

Epstein's Connections (Cont.)

Strategic Culture Foundation, Politics and Pedophilia: a Demonic Mix, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 6, 2019. The indictment of wealthy investor Jeffrey Epstein by the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) on charges of international sex trafficking and a wider conspiracy to commit such activity has sent shock waves throughout the political, business, and social strata of the United States and other countries.

Epstein’s fleet of private aircraft and numerous residences have law enforcement investigators looking deeply into various activities, over several decades, involving Epstein’s recent and distant past. Moreover, according to police reports, court filings, and witness statements, Epstein’s circle of friends includes some of the most politically important people in the world, including President Donald Trump; former President Bill Clinton; Britain’s Prince Andrew, the Duke of York; and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

The Epstein connection to the Trump administration also included Trump’s pick for Secretary of Labor, Alex Acosta, the US Attorney for South Florida who, in 2007 and 2008, crafted a federal and state of Florida non-prosecution agreement that immunized Epstein and his associates from any future state or federal prosecutions related to Epstein’s trafficking in underage girls. In return for such a “sweetheart” plea agreement, Epstein merely had to plead guilty to a few charges of soliciting prostitution from underage girls, serve a virtual “open door” jail sentence for thirteen months in Palm Beach County, and agree to register as a sex offender. Questions about Acosta’s role with Epstein and the agreement resulted in his resignation as Labor Secretary. Part of Acosta’s duties as Labor Secretary was the monitoring of the sex trafficking of women and children for prostitution pursuant to US laws and international treaties.

The upper echelons of the Israeli political and intelligence structure also feature prominently in Epstein’s circle of associates and friends. Epstein’s mysterious links to unidentified national security interests were heightened after revelations that Acosta, while he was the US Attorney in Miami, was instructed by higher authority “back off” with regard to the Epstein case because Epstein “belonged to intelligence” and that Acosta should just “leave it alone.”

Corrupt Trump Campaigner

New York Daily News, Students for Trump founder pleads guilty to posing as lawyer in $46K scam, Stephen Rex Brown, Aug. 6, 2019. john lambertStudents for Trump founder pleads guilty to posing as lawyer in $46K scam. The founder of Students for Trump pleaded guilty Tuesday to running a $46,000 scam in which he posed as a lawyer and gave legal advice.

John Lambert, 23, right, created a website for a fake law firm called Pope & Dunn and claimed to be Eric Pope, a graduate of NYU Law School with a finance degree from the University of Pennsylvania and 15 years of experience in corporate and patent law, prosecutors said.

In brief remarks in Manhattan Federal Court, the babyfaced fraudster from Knoxville, Tenn. said he engaged in the scheme with an accomplice who was not identified.

Lambert said they represented themselves as “qualified lawyers...providing legal services."

He said he was living in North Carolina when he ran the scam between 2016 and 2018.

He pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy. Under his plea deal with prosecutors, he will not appeal a sentence that is 21 months or less. He also agreed to forfeit $46,654.

“John Lambert represented himself to clients as a prominent New York attorney with a law degree from an elite law school. But Lambert’s de facto career was one of a grifter: he had never been to law school and certainly wasn’t an attorney. Today, Lambert admitted to his crimes and faces time in prison for his misdeeds," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said.

Lambert achieved notoriety during the presidential campaign for the group he founded with classmate classmate Ryan Fournier at Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C., in 2015. They made frequent media appearances and ran a Students For Trump Twitter account featuring photos of bikini-clad women and pics of themselves at political events. Lambert even shook hands with future Attorney General Jeff Sessions in May 2016.

“We’ve been told that we’re more organized than the actual Trump campaign,” Lambert told The Chronicle of Higher Education before the election. Students For Trump distanced itself from Lambert after his arrest in April, noting he’d left the group after Trump’s election.

“We are highly disappointed in his actions and fully condemn the path which John Lambert decided to take after departing from Students for Trump’s executive board,” the group said.

Media Criticism

rupert murdoch 2009 world economic forumw

Thirty five years ago, the Chicago columnist Mike Royko nicknamed Rupert Murdoch (shown in a 2009 David Shankbone photo) "The Alien." All these years later, his cable TV brainwash beam is hijacking America.

Al.com, Seeking refuge from ‘the Alien’ invasion, Kyle Whitmore (the state political columnist for the Alabama Media Group), Aug. 6, 2019.  The Alien. That’s what the late columnist Mike Royko called Rupert Murdoch when the Australian tabloid tycoon bought the Chicago Sun-Times. Rather than abetting the debasement of a newspaper he loved, the columnist defected to the rival Chicago Tribune, something that had once been unthinkable in the city’s fierce newspaper rivalry.

“No self-respecting fish would want to be wrapped in one of Murdoch’s publications,” Royko said. “He puts out trash.”

That was 35 years ago, but that early incursion should have been a warning. Today, Royko is dead, killed by an aneurism in 1997. But the Alien and his influence are very much alive.

When Murdoch made political bias part of his business model, he empowered one political extreme to deliver its message unchecked and uncorrected. And he invited a television audience to live in a different reality from everyone else — one based increasingly on fear instead of facts. Its promise to be “fair and balanced” was the greatest lie in advertising since “part of this complete breakfast.”

The problem with indulging extremes is that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to know where to stop. By the time Barack Obama was elected to office, the network couldn’t have been more disrespectful of the nation’s first African-American president had its anchors called him the n-word on TV. With a white Republican back in the White House, the network’s critiques of presidential golfing habits have vanished.

And yes, race and racism have been core to the Alien’s attack.

fox news logo SmallThe effect this has had on Fox News’ audience has been profound, and if we all live through this invasion, it will be an interesting field of academic study when it’s all over. When the author Luke O’Neil wrote about his estrangement with his mother after she had become obsessed with the network, he was inundated with accounts, mostly from millennials, who’d seen their boomer parents fall victim to what he calls “Fox News brain.”

For too long, Americans have understood radicalization only as something that happens to other people, most of them brown. Recognizing it from the inside will be much harder. But we must. Because what begins with indulging paranoia, ends with tragedy.

Indeed, we have been invaded, not by hordes of aliens sneaking across our border, but one in particular who flies here when he pleases on his private jet.

2020 Politics

Palmer Report, Opinion: Joaquin Castro just did the right thing, and Trump supporters are howling mad, Bill Palmer, Aug. 6, 2019. Even as Julián Castro runs for president against Donald Trump, his brother Joaquin Castro is doing what he can to stop Trump’s damage from his position in the Democratic House. To that end, Joaquin tweeted a list of San Antonio-area residents who have made the maximum allowable donation to the Trump campaign. Suffice it to say that Trump’s supporters and apologists are less than happy about it.

bill palmer report logo headerJoaquin Castro posted his list of notable Trump donors along with their respective occupations, and added this: “Sad to see so many San Antonians as 2019 maximum donors to Donald Trump — the owner of ⁦@BillMillerBarBQ⁩, owner of the ⁦@HistoricPearl, realtor Phyllis Browning, etc⁩. Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as ‘invaders.’”

Castro was clearly looking to motivate the public to boycott these people and their businesses, in the hope that they’ll stop funding Donald Trump’s hate. But the Republicans never miss an opportunity to intentionally misunderstand what’s going on. For instance, GOP Senator Ted Cruz falsely accused Castro of “doxxing” his own constituents. Meanwhile back in the real world, “doxxing” refers to giving out private information about people, such as their phone number or home address or family information. All that Castro did was publicize the names and occupations of Trump donors, which can be easily found in public campaign finance records.

“Morning Joe” Scarborough of all people ended up tweeting the most succinct explanation of what Joaquin Castro did: “Any business that donates to Trump is complicit and endorses the white supremacy he espoused in Charlottesville, with his “send her back” chants, and by laughing at shouts that Hispanic immigrants should be shot. Donors’ names are on FEC reports. They are newsworthy.”

More U.S. Politics

Palmer Report, Opinion: Republican State Senator finds himself in an ugly mess for telling the truth about Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Aug. 6, 2019. Yesterday, Republican State Senator John McCollister of Nebraska gained significant notoriety for calling it like it is. He accused his own Republican Party, along with Donald Trump, of “enabling white supremacy in our country” as a means to a political end. McCollister received widespread praise for speaking up – but now he’s found himself in an ugly mess over it.

djt economist cover aug 19 2017After John McCollister tweeted his missive yesterday, Palmer Report congratulated him for it, but added that “sadly, the most likely result of McCollister’s bold stand is that he ends up leaving the GOP in disgust.” Now it looks like he may be on that path already, and perhaps not by choice.

Nebraska Republican Party Executive Director Ryan Hamilton announced last night that he’s calling on State Senator bill palmer report logo headerJohn McCollister to leave the Republican Party. Hamilton went so far as to obnoxiously offer to send McCollister a change of voter registration form. The whole thing didn’t go over particularly well. When the Nebraska GOP tweeted a copy of Hamilton’s letter, it received about eight times as many negative comments as likes – never a good sign on Twitter.

But that’s nonetheless where we are as a country right now. The Republican Party is doubling down more than ever on divisiveness and extremism, in the hope of driving a minority of the country to the polls in disproportionately large numbers, so as to outnumber the majority. The only way to break that cycle is for mainstream Americans to turn out and vote Democrat in larger numbers than ever. Short of that, the GOP and the bottom-feeding one-third of the country will continue to paradoxically reign over us.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ocasio-Cortez confronts McConnell over photo of men in ‘Team Mitch’ shirts ‘groping & choking’ her cutout, Tim Elfrink, Aug. 6, 2019. The young men wear matching shirts from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)’s campaign, and cluster around a cardboard cutout of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Several of them hold their thumbs down. One grasps the life-size poster by the waist and pretends to kiss the congresswoman. Another appears to mime his hand around her neck.

alexandria ocasio cortezTo Ocasio-Cortez, right, the photo — originally posted to Instagram and then made viral on Twitter on Monday — suggested an endorsement of violent misogyny.

mitch mcconnell2“Are you paying for young men to practice groping & choking members of Congress w/ your payroll, or is this just the standard culture of #TeamMitch?” Ocasio-Cortez asked on Twitter on Monday night.

McConnell’s campaign answered in the negative to both questions, saying in a statement that it “in no way condones” the image and also noting that the men are high school students with no official affiliation.

But as many raced to post the men’s real names and social media accounts, the campaign also suggested it was wrong to cast them into the maw of viral outrage culture and cried hypocrisy, noting a similar controversy that ensnared President-elect Barack Obama’s speechwriter in late 2008.

Impeachment Politics

 nancy pelosi v squad

Rep. Ilhan Omar (top left), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (bottom left), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (center), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (top right), and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (bottom right). Photo credit: POMED / Flickr (CC BY 2.0), AFGE / Flickr (CC BY 2.0), Gage Skidmore / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0), nrkbeta / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0), and MPAC National / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Progressive Insurgents Make Impeachment a Primary Issue, Michael Freeman, Aug. 6, 2019. Democrats have been talking about impeachment all year, but is it starting to divide them? Ask progressive insurgents launching primary campaigns.

Few political leaders would seem more invulnerable than Nancy Pelosi (CA), the speaker of the House and a Democrat in one of the most heavily Democratic cities in the country. But don’t tell that to Shahid Buttar, a 44-year-old San Francisco attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Buttar is in his second primary bid against Pelosi, who has been in the House since 1987. The son of Pakistani immigrants, he has called the speaker’s resistance to the Trump administration “theatrical.” The need to push for impeachment is one of his major campaign issues.

“All I can say is, Speaker Pelosi is either going to proceed with impeachment and there will be a national controversy about it,” Buttar told WhoWhatWhy. “Or her career is going to end in less than a year when she loses the primary to me.”

Impeachment may now be turning into more of a headache for Democrats, dividing them between progressives pushing to move quickly toward impeachment and moderates who are resistant to that approach. As of last week, however, a majority of House Democrats have joined the impeachment bandwagon; more than 20 members were apparently convinced by former special counsel Robert Mueller’s recent testimony before Congress.

Commentary: Far Right Terrorism

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump, Tax Cuts and Terrorism, Paul Krugman, Aug. 6, 2019 (print ed.). Why do Republicans enable right-wing paul krugmanextremism? Why has the Republican Party become a systematic enabler of terrorism?

Don’t pretend to be shocked. Just look at G.O.P. responses to the massacre in El Paso. They have ranged from the ludicrous (blame video games!) to the almost honest (who would have expected Ted Cruz, of all people, to speak out against white supremacy?). But as far as I can tell, not one prominent Republican has even hinted at the obvious link between Donald Trump’s repeated incitements to violence and the upsurge in hate crimes.

So the party remains in lock step behind a man who has arguably done more to promote racial violence than any American since Nathan Democratic-Republican Campaign logosBedford Forrest, who helped found the Ku Klux Klan, a terrorist organization if there ever was one — and who was recently honored by the Republican governor of Tennessee.

Anyway, the party’s complicity started long before Trump came on the scene. More than a decade ago, the Department of Homeland Security issued a report warning about a surge of right-wing extremism. The report was prescient, to say the least. But when congressional Republicans learned about it, they went on a rampage, demanding the resignation of Janet Napolitano, who headed the agency, and insisted that even using the term “right-wing extremism” was unacceptable.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: I Spent 25 Years Fighting Jihadis. White Supremacists Aren’t So Different, Ali H. Soufan (former F.B.I. special agent and the author of “Anatomy of Terror”), Aug. 6, 2019 (print ed.).  We can’t fight domestic terror groups efficiently until the law treats them the way we treat foreign ones.

When a young Muslim man, self-radicalized online, kills in the name of Islamist ideology, we have no trouble calling him a terrorist and connecting him with groups like ISIS. When a young white man, similarly self-radicalized, kills in the name of racist ideology — even when he publishes a manifesto to that effect — we tend to call him disturbed. We speak about him as a troubled loner, rather than a member of a wider network.

The disparities are not limited to cultural perceptions. America’s law enforcement agencies, intelligence community and court system all treat these two scenarios differently. Those differences in treatment mask instructive similarities between these two forms of organized hate. Having spent almost 25 years fighting jihadi terrorism here and abroad, I see disturbing parallels between the rise of Al Qaeda in the 1990s and that of racist terrorism today.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: I Predicted More Hate-Based Violence. El Paso Won’t Be the End of It, Frank Figliuzzi (former assistant F.B.I. director for counterintelligence), July 31, 2019 (updated to reflect news developments). Three days before a mass shooting that killed at least 21 people in El Paso, I predicted in these pages that we were on the path to a frightening uptick in white nationalistic hate violence.

The El Paso terrorist appears to have been motivated by a racist ideology that cited other mass shootings, including in Christchurch, New Zealand. The F.B.I. has labeled it domestic terrorism and the governor of Texas has suggested that it be prosecuted as a hate crime. I have never felt so badly about being so right.

I made that prediction because I learned from 25 years in the F.B.I., including during a stint as head of counterintelligence, to trust my gut when I saw a threat unfolding. Now, my instinct and experience tell me that El Paso will not be the end of it, and that we are headed for more hate-based violence potentially stoked by a divisive president. (The motive for a second mass shooting on Sunday in Dayton is less clear.)

Yes, President Trump has fallen short of calling for violence against minorities and immigrants. And yes, he condemned racist violence and white supremacy on Monday. But he has yet to apologize for painting people of color as outsiders and invaders, for calling for them to be sent back to where they came from, and for asserting that no humans would want to live in certain American cities. As a consequence, he has given license to those who feel compelled to eradicate what Mr. Trump himself has called an infestation.

USA TODAY via Yahoo, 'Headline was flawed': New York Times changed headline about Trump speech after backlash, Jordan Culver and Adrianna Rodriguez, Aug. 6, 2019. A photo of the front page of Tuesday's New York Times sparked immediate criticism on Monday night – including from several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.

The headline read "Trump urges unity vs. racism." It comes after President Donald Trump addressed the nation after mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, that killed nine and 22 people, respectively.

ny times logoThe headline ran in the Times' first print edition and was changed in subsequent editions, The Times told USA TODAY in a statement Tuesday.

The original headline didn't sit well with a number of Democrats.

"Let this front page serve as a reminder of how white supremacy is aided by – and often relies upon – the cowardice of mainstream institutions," tweeted Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who told CNN over the weekend that Trump was "responsible for this," said via Twitter: "Lives literally depend on you doing better, NYT. "Please do."

Fellow Democratic presidential candidates Kirsten Gillibrand and Beto O'Rourke – who called the headline "unbelievable" – also sounded off on Twitter.

"The original headline was flawed and was changed for all editions of the paper following the first edition," Danielle Rhoades Ha, vice president of Communications for The Times, said in an emailed statement Tuesday. "The headline in question never appeared online, only in the first print edition."

As a result of the controversy, the hashtag #CancelNYT began trending on Twitter Tuesday afternoon as social media users expressed outrage about the headline. Many demanded the resignation of Times editors while pledging to unsubscribe from the paper and calling for others to do the same.

Aug. 5

U.S. grieves after two mass shootings leave 29 dead

patrick crusius el paso shooter

A man shown above and identified as Patrick Crusius, 21, is alleged to have killed at least 20 people on Aug. 3 in El Paso, Texas. The radical conservative, pro-Trump and white nationalist website 8 Chan released what has been described as the shooter's manifesto, in which he vows to kill immigrants.

washington post logoWashington Post: Dayton, Ohio: Police name 9 killed; gunman identified as 24-year-old student, Kevin Williams, Hannah Knowles and Peter Whoriskey​, Aug. 5, 2019 (print ed.). Police said the gunman used a .223-caliber high-capacity magazine and was fatally shot by officers.

• Authorities have identified the gunman as 24-year old Connor Betts, who was fatally shot by officers.
• Nine people fatally shot, including the suspect’s sister, and 27 injured in the shooting in Dayton’s historic Oregon District, according to authorities.
• As of 10 a.m., 15 of those treated by hospitals have been discharged.
• City grieves less than a day after a mass shooting in El Paso that killed 20 people.

washington post logoWashington Post: El Paso, Texas: Federal officials weigh hate crime charges after 20 killed, Robert Moore and Mark Berman, Aug. 5, 2019 (print ed.). The attack on a Walmart and shopping center here, during which a gunman killed 20 people and wounded dozens, is being viewed as a domestic terrorist attack, authorities said Sunday.

Federal authorities are “seriously considering” bringing hate crime charges in the case, John F. Bash, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, said Sunday. Those charges could carry the death penalty. Local prosecutors also say they plan to seek a death sentence in the case.

The investigation in Texas came even as other authorities rushed to respond to a shooting just hours later in Dayton, Ohio, during which at least nine people were slain. The dual shootings in Texas and Ohio — separated by hundreds of miles and less than a single day — sparked grimly familiar scenes of panic and grief as public places were yet again terrorized by a hail of bullets.

patrick crusius cropped el paso ny post aug 4 2019 CustomIt was a ghastly weekend in America, with more than two dozen people killed in the two shooting rampages over the course of a single tragic day. An additional seven people were wounded early Sunday during a shooting in Chicago.

Law enforcement authorities have delved into the background of 21-year-old Patrick Crusius (shown on a New York Post front page), whom two officials identified as the suspect in the shooting here.

Crusius, from the Dallas suburb of Allen, surrendered to police, giving officials a relatively unusual chance to directly interrogate a mass shooting suspect. In many cases, attackers are killed or take their own lives; last week, a gunman opened fire on a food festival in Gilroy, Calif., fatally shooting three people, and then killed himself.

Police said that Crusius has been cooperative, but they declined to go into detail about what he may have said.

Other Aug. 4-5 Headlines, Stories Below

Mass Shooting Backgrounders

Other News

U.S.-China Trade War

washington post logoWashington Post, China lets its currency plunge to a decade low after Trump adds new tariffs, Gerry Shih​, Aug. 5, 2019. The move could provoke further ire from the president, who believes Beijing already artificially suppresses its currency.

China appeared to mount a counteroffensive Monday to new U.S. tariffs by allowing its tightly controlled currency to slide to an 11-year low, a move that could further provoke the ire of President Trump, who believes that Beijing unfairly suppresses the value of the renminbi to bolster Chinese exporters at the expense of the United States.

The currency move came after Trump announced new tariffs Thursday on $300 billion in Chinese goods, effectively escalating the trade war with no end in sight.

Beijing appeared to mount other forms of retaliation on Monday. The government has asked state-owned firms to stop their U.S. agricultural purchases, according to a Bloomberg report Monday that was widely cited by Chinese media. The crop purchases, which came from states that comprise Trump’s political base, were supposed to be a sign of Chinese goodwill as trade talks progressed.

India's Tightens Kashmir Control

ny times logoNew York Times, India Ends Decades of Autonomy for Kashmir, and Pakistan Warns of Crisis, Jeffrey Gettleman, Suhasini Raj, Kai Schultz and Hari Kumar, Aug. 5, 2019. India’s Hindu nationalist government on Monday unilaterally wiped out the autonomy of the restive Kashmir region, sending in thousands of army troops to quell any possible unrest the move would bring in a disputed territory fought over by India and Pakistan.

india flag mapGovernment authorities severed internet connections, mobile phone lines and even land lines, casting Kashmir into an information black hole that made it very difficult to discern what was unfolding.

For years, India’s Hindu nationalists have wanted to curtail the special freedoms enjoyed by Kashmir, a mountainous, predominantly Muslim territory that has turned into a tinderbox between India and Pakistan, both of which wield nuclear arms.

On Monday, Amit Shah, India’s home minister, announced in a quick speech, which belied years of steady plotting, that the central government was removing the special, somewhat autonomous status that served as the foundation for Kashmir joining India more than 70 years ago. While international human rights groups swiftly condemned the action, Hindu nationalists celebrated, saying this could bring peace and investment to the war-torn region.

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: India Will Come To Regret Today's Annexation Of Jammu And Kashmir, B, Aug. 5, 2019. The right-wing nationalist Hindutva government of India under President Narendra Damodardas Modi just revoked autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir. This will create a civil war that could easily evolve into new conflict between the nuclear armed India and Pakistan.

A bit of history is necessary to understand the issue: At the time of the British withdrawal from India, Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of the state, preferred to become independent and remain neutral between the successor dominions of India and Pakistan. However, an uprising in the western districts of the State followed by an attack by raiders from the neighbouring Northwest Frontier Province, supported by Pakistan, put an end to his plans for independence.

On 26 October 1947, the Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession joining the Dominion of India in return for military aid. The western and northern districts presently known as Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan passed to the control of Pakistan, while the remaining territory became the Indian state Jammu and Kashmir.

Major U.S. Newspaper Merger

washington post logoWashington Post, America’s two largest newspaper chains, GateHouse and Gannett, announce merger, Jonathan O'Connell and Rachel Siegel​, Aug. 5, 2019. The union of McLean-based Gannett and GateHouse Media will create a conglomerate owning hundreds of newspapers.

America’s two largest newspaper publishers will merge in an effort to combat declining circulation and plunging advertising revenue, but will still face pressure to cut costs at hundreds of already cash-strapped publications around the country.

gannett logo CustomThe $1.4 billion purchase of McLean-based Gannett by GateHouse Media, based in Pittsford, N.Y., will create a conglomerate that will own more than 250 daily newspapers and hundreds of weekly and community papers. The new company will retain the Gannett name and will have publications in 47 states, reaching more than 145 million unique visitors each month.

gatehouse media logoExecutives from both companies extolled the deal in a news release as an opportunity to slash up to $300 million in annual overhead costs within 24 months while “continuing to invest in newsrooms” — creating journalism they hope can attract more digital subscribers and advertisers at a time when America employs thousands of fewer journalists than it did a decade ago.

But the efficiencies wrought by the merger may also result in publications that rely less on local reporters and more on USA Today-type stories produced or edited remotely and published in dozens of the company’s publications. Journalists across the country fretted over whether the deal would mean a wave of layoffs.

Andrew Pantazi, a reporter for the Florida Times-Union and president of the newspaper’s guild, said journalists in his newsroom were anxious about any cuts, particularly the elimination of editor roles. Pantazi said the Florida Times-Union has lost its own editors who are reorganized into hubs.

“We’re afraid of that big number: $300 million,” Pantazi said. “We’re afraid of what happens when you have fewer journalists working in the state of Florida.”

Merger marks shift for troubled newspaper giant

U.S. Crime, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, How one group swindled $8 million designated for hurricane and wildfire victims, according to prosecutors, Lynh Bui​, Aug. 5, 2019. The Maryland men used stolen identities to apply for disaster relief in order to pay their own rents, buy cars and make personal purchases, prosecutors alleged.

In the wake of massive hurricanes and wildfires that pummeled the United States in recent years, the federal government made relief funds available for those who found themselves uprooted amid the rubble of charred or washed-out homes.

But in Maryland — far from where the California wildfires and Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria struck — a group of residents managed to scam the federal government out of $8 million in relief funds designated for those who needed it most, according to prosecutors. Members of the group, prosecutors allege, were part of a scheme that stole the identities of disaster victims and applied for victim’s benefits — to pay their own rents, buy cars or make personal purchases.

“While many come forward in the wake of disasters to help selflessly, some use disasters to enrich themselves through theft and fraud,” U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur said in a statement Friday announcing the arrest of two men in the alleged conspiracy.

John Irogho, 38, of Upper Marlboro, has been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to federal prosecutors. Odinaka Ekeocha, 33, of Laurel, has been charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering. Their arrests come a few weeks after another Maryland man, Tare Stanley Okirika, 30, of Laurel, pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy, admitting that he fraudulently obtained government benefits to pay his rent and for other expenses, according to court documents.

At least 16 victims from California, Georgia, Florida and Texas were listed in Okirika’s case, according to his indictment. Investigators with the U.S. Secret Service said he used some of the fraudulently obtained money to buy cars and ship them to Nigeria.

Media Criticism: 2020 U.S. Debates

The Hill Rising, Journalist Michael Tracey: Why the media hates Tulsi Gabbard, Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti, Aug. 5, 2019 (13:21 min. video).  Journalist Michael Tracey shares the behind the scenes story for the Tulsi Gabbard and Kamala Harris moment at the second Democratic debate.

Jimmy Dore Show, Tulsi Shuts Down MSNBC Host Mid-Smear, Jimmy Dore, Aug. 5, 2019. (9:03 mins. video, 532,599 views as of Aug. 7).

Media and 'Conspiracy Theory'

Off-Guardian, Commentary: Can the Progressive / “Conspiracy” Divide be Bridged? John Kirby, Aug. 5, 2019. People from a variety of advocacy communities who tackle issues ranging from the assassinations of the 1960’s to vaccine safety are rightly upset by a recent NBC News.com op-ed authored by Lynn Parramore, a progressive journalist known for her insightful pieces for Alternet and other outlets.

lynn parramore 2010 c spanIn the article, Parramore (shown on a 2010 C-SPAN appearance) argues that those who espouse “conspiracy theories” might be displaying “narcissistic personality traits,” suffer from “low self-esteem,” and share a “negative view of humanity.” Various studies are cited in support of this claim.

As a filmmaker acquainted both with the author of the op-ed as well as a number of people from the communities under fire, I hope it’s possible to dispel some of the misconceptions on all sides and even find some common ground.

At the outset, it should be acknowledged that Parramore’s piece is an uncharacteristically harsh ad hominem smear, taking its place in a long line of similar attacks on people who have dared question—sometimes at great personal cost—a whole range of suspect official narratives over many years.

But Parramore and many journalists like her are neither assets of an intelligence service nor unthinking tools of big media; she is fully conscious of the ways in which power and wealth can be used collusively (one might even say conspiratorially) to deceive and abuse the public.

So what accounts for a piece like this one? Why does it rankle a progressive like Parramore so intensely when she hears someone mention that the U.S. military-industrial complex had the most to gain from the September 11th attacks, or that Big Pharma may be applying the same racketeering techniques to the ever-expanding vaccination schedule she discovered at play in the opioid crisis?

Those of us who have labored long to publicize state crimes against democracy have our own list of the psychological, political, and economic factors that may be preventing smart people from seeing evidence that we regard as overwhelming.

The primary difficulty may lie in just how smart and thoroughly educated many of these writers are: no one who has spent a lifetime looking into the way the world works wants to think they might have missed something big.

And as Noam Chomsky has pointed out, the more educated we are, the more we are a target for state-corporate propaganda. Even journalists outside the mainstream may internalize establishment values and prejudices.

Which brings us to Parramore’s embrace of the term “conspiracy theory.” Once a neutral and little-used phrase, “conspiracy theory” was infamously weaponized in 1967 by a memo from the CIA to its station chiefs worldwide.

Troubled by growing mass disbelief in the “lone nut” theory of President Kennedy’s assassination, and concerned that “[c]onspiracy theories have frequently thrown suspicion on our organization,” the agency directed its officers to “discuss the publicity problem with friendly and elite contacts (especially politicians and editors)” and to “employ propaganda assets to answer and refute the attacks of the critics. Book reviews and feature articles are particularly appropriate for this purpose.”

As Kevin Ryan writes, and various analyses have shown: "In the 45 years before the CIA memo came out, the phrase ‘conspiracy theory’ appeared in the Washington Post and New York Times only 50 times, or about once per year. In the 45 years after the CIA memo, the phrase appeared 2,630 times, or about once per week.”

While it turns out that Parramore knows something about this hugely successful propaganda drive, she chose in her NBC piece to deploy the phrase as the government has come to define it, i.e., as “something that requires no consideration because it is obviously not true.” This embeds a fallacy in her argument which only spreads as she goes on.

U.S. Politics: Israeli Lobby Of Congress

U.S. House Speaker Steny Hoyer (D-MD), right, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu file unsourced

U.S. House Speaker Steny Hoyer (D-MD), listens at right to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Mondoweiss, Opinion: Hoyer and 41 Democrats visit Israel on AIPAC-affiliated junket that violates ‘spirit as well as the letter of the law,’ Josh Ruebner, Aug. 5, 2019. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) (Photo: Center for American Progress/Flickr) House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) landed today in Israel with 41 other Democratic Representatives for a week-long, all-expenses-paid junket sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), the educational branch of the lobbying organization American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Although the delegation also will visit the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank and meet with Palestinians, the Israel-centric nature of the trip is evident from Hoyer’s characterization of it.

“I am pleased to join so many House Democrats in traveling to Israel to reaffirm our support for a critical U.S. ally and to continue learning about the opportunities and the challenges facing Israel and the Middle East,” Hoyer stated. “Seeing the region firsthand and meeting with key Israeli and Palestinian leaders gives Members insights into a region that is vital both to our own national interests and to global security.”

However, in addition to being wary of the one-sided narrative presented to them on this delegation, Representatives also should be aware that they may be unwittingly participating in a delegation which violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the law on congressional travel.

Dr. Craig Holman, Government Affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, who drafted the 2007 Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA), designed to curb the influence of lobbyist money in congressional travel, is unequivocal that the arrangement between AIEF and AIPAC “defies the spirit as well as the letter of the law.”

This law bars Members of Congress accepting from an entity “that retains or employs 1 or more registered lobbyists…funds earmarked directly or indirectly for the purpose of financing” congressional travel longer than one day.

However, the congressional ethics committees wrote a loophole into the implementing guidelines and regulations, “widely known as the AIPAC loophole,” Holman told Mondoweiss. HLOGA “intended to ban lobbying firms and any entity that lobbies the federal government from providing gifts of travel to lawmakers, other than a one-day trip to fly a member out to participate in a group’s conference and then fly that member back. But the ethics committees have interpreted the travel rule to allow any lobbying organization to set up a 501(c)(3) charity on paper, and use that charity to pay for congressional travel. This is what AIPAC does through its charity, AIEF.”

Here’s how the shell game works.

The latest memorandum on travel regulations published by the House Committee on Ethics in 2012 does indeed state clearly that the maximum duration of a trip sponsored by entities that employ a federal lobbyist is one day.

The Lobbying Disclosure Act requires organizations that spend more than $13,000 per quarter on direct lobbying activities to report the names of their lobbyists and the legislation they lobbied for or against.

AIPAC, according to its latest lobbying disclosure filing,spent nearly $700,000 directly lobbying Congress in the second quarter of 2019, making it ineligible to organize congressional travel longer than one day.

This is the reason why travel is organized through its affiliated organization AIEF, which does not engage in lobbying, thereby technically allowing it to organize week-long congressional travel.

So far, so good. However, this arrangement raises eyebrows when the tax returns of the two organizations are inspected. In 2016, the latest year publicly available, AIEF reported on page 57 of its tax return that it does not pay its employees; instead, AIPAC compensates them. And AIPAC duly noted on page 65 of its tax return that it paid tens of millions of dollars to AIEF.

In other words, AIPAC and AIEF admit that the former pays the salaries of the employees of the latter in part to organize congressional delegations that AIPAC is not allowed to organize.

“Though AIPAC was the first lobbying organization to exploit this loophole, it is becoming increasingly common today,” Holman says. “In fact, some lobbying firms have even made use of this loophole. As a result, we are now seeing a significant uptick once again in privately-sponsored travels for members of Congress as a means for lobbying organizations to curry favor with Congress.”
Lobby pressure on first-term members

These biased delegations to Israel prove to be formative in shaping the outlook and policy positions of many first-term Members of Congress, which is why AIPAC and its affiliated organization AIEF place so much importance on them.

A spokesperson for Hoyer declined to provide Mondoweiss with a list of the other Representatives participating and a spokesperson for the House Committee on Ethics, which approves congressional travel, also declined to comment on the delegation.

In June, Jewish Insider published the names of 20 Representatives, most of whom are in their first-term, participating in some or all of the delegation. In addition, first-term Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-NY) announced today his participation.

Also in June, The Intercept published an expose by Akelah Lacy and Ryan Grim, An Invitation You Can’t Refuse: How Rep. Steny Hoyer Makes Sure AIPAC’s Israel Junket Is Well Attended, unmasking Hoyer’s strong-arm tactics to get Representatives to go.

These 42 Representatives will be returning to their districts from their AIEF delegation on August 11 for the remainder of the summer congressional recess. Many will be holding town hall meetings, providing constituents an opportunity to question them about their trip.

Gun "Rights" and U.S. Courts

jeffrey toobinNew Yorker, Politics Changed the Reading of the Second Amendment — and Can Change It Again, Jeffrey Toobin, Aug. 5, 2019. In spite of the mass shootings in El new yorker logoPaso and Dayton last weekend, the future of federal gun control looks grim. Yet the lesson of the gun-rights fight is that no victory, or defeat, is permanent.

Notwithstanding the most recent spate of mass shootings, over the past weekend, the prospects for gun-control legislation in Congress appear remote. The reason is no mystery. The National Rifle Association and its allies in the gun lobby maintain a firm grip on the Republican Party, including President Trump, and thus on veto power over the passage, or even the consideration, of measures to curb gun violence.

But the power of the N.R.A. extends beyond its control of the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. It’s less well known that the N.R.A. has also transformed the judiciary and, in the process, rewritten our understanding of the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

For about two hundred years, the meaning of the Second Amendment was clear and mostly undisputed, despite the gnarled syntax of the text itself: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Generations of Supreme Court and academic opinion held that the amendment did not confer on individuals a right “to keep and bear Arms” but, rather, referred only to the privileges belonging to state militias. This was not a controversial view. The late Chief Justice Warren E. Burger said, in 1991, that the idea that the Second Amendment conferred a right for individuals to bear arms was “a fraud on the American public.” Burger was no liberal, and his view simply reflected the overwhelming consensus on the issue at the time.

nra logo CustomBut, starting in the nineteen-seventies, the N.R.A. undertook a patient and extensive effort to change the public, and eventually the judicial, understanding of the Second Amendment. As David Cole recounts in his book Engines of Liberty, the N.R.A. recognized that its path was blocked by binding precedents in the federal courts, so it turned to a state-by-state approach. Embracing and passing gun-rights legislation in the states, Cole writes, “fostered a legal culture in which the right to bear arms enjoyed a privileged place.”

antonin scaliaAt the same time, the N.R.A. sponsored academic research that purported to show that the traditional understanding of the Second Amendment was incorrect. The movement reached its climax in 2008, when the Supreme Court, in Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, rewrote its understanding of the Second Amendment, and concluded that the Framers of the Constitution had, after all, intended the Amendment to confer an individual right to bear arms. (As Adam Gopnik recently observed, Justice John Paul Stevens’s dissent had the better argument, but Scalia’s opinion had the five votes.)

Cole, who is now the national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, draws an important parallel to the N.R.A.’s effort to transform the meaning of the Second — that is, the movement to guarantee a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Of course, these two efforts to change the political trajectory of the country went in opposite ideological directions. But the strategies behind them were remarkably similar. In both cases, the legal terrain, especially in the federal courts, was clearly hostile. In both, the movement for change began succeeding at the state level, and, in both, the culmination came at the Supreme Court. With regard to both gun rights and same-sex marriage, the Court ultimately yielded to a political movement that had mobilized legislators, academics, and ordinary citizens.

There is a lesson in these politically divergent victories for the current moment. Though the Supreme Court has been cautious since 2008 in expanding gun rights, there is every likelihood that the new conservative majority will frustrate federal or state legislative efforts to insure gun safety. In other words, even if Congress or states manage to pass laws restricting gun rights — including limits on assault weapons or even requiring universal background checks — there is a real possibility that a majority of the Justices will overturn these laws as violations of the Second Amendment.

But the lesson of the fight over gun rights — like that over the protection of same-sex marriage — is that the Constitution remains a political document that is subject to the ideological forces of the time. No victory, or defeat, is permanent. The Court changed the Second Amendment, and the Court can change it back again, in its original direction. This kind of change takes significant resources and enormous patience. At the moment, the future of gun control looks grim in all three branches of the federal government. Trump is President, the Republicans control the Senate, and conservative appointees dominate the Supreme Court. Control of the elected branches is up for grabs in less than a year and a half. Control of the Supreme Court will, of course, take much longer to change. But even the Court usually bends with public and political opinion over time, and that change may yet happen on guns. The grim lesson of recent weeks is that the need for that transformation has never been greater.

Jeffrey Toobin has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1993 and the senior legal analyst for CNN since 2002. He is the author of, most recently, “American Heiress” and is at work on a book about Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Aug. 4

Related Shooting Stories

ny times logoNew York Times, 8chan Is a Megaphone for Gunmen. ‘Shut the Site Down,’ Says Its Creator, Kevin Roose, Aug. 4, 2019. The site is a venue for extremists to test out ideas, share violent literature, and cheer on the perpetrators of mass killings. Fredrick Brennan was getting ready for church at his home in the Philippines when the news of a mass shooting in El Paso arrived. His response was immediate and instinctive.

“Whenever I hear about a mass shooting, I say, ‘All right, we have to research if there’s an 8chan connection,’” he said.

Mr. Brennan started the online message board 8chan in 2013, as a spinoff of 4chan, the better-known message board. In its early years, the site was known as an unmoderated free-for-all site populated by anonymous posters, where shocking and offensive humor reigned.

Now, 8chan is known as something else: a megaphone for mass shooters, and a recruiting platform for violent white nationalists. And Mr. Brennan, who stopped working with the site’s current owner last year, is calling for it to be taken offline before it leads to further violence.

Related story: New York Times, Minutes Before El Paso Killing, a Hate-Filled Manifesto Appears Online, Tim Arango, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Katie Benner, Aug. 4, 2019 (print ed.). The authorities are investigating a 2,300-word screed railing against immigrants that was posted online. Nineteen minutes before the first 911 call alerted the authorities to a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Tex., a hate-filled, anti-immigrant manifesto appeared online.

It spoke of a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” It detailed a plan to separate America into territories by race. It warned that white people were being replaced by foreigners.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates from Dayton: Nine Victims Identified, Timothy Williams and Farah Stockman, Aug. 4, 2019. Officials said the victims in the Dayton shooting ranged in age from 22 to 57. Police have identified the suspect as a 24-year-old man.

Questions mounted about the motive of a gunman who killed nine people in a popular entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio, early Sunday morning, less than 24 hours after 20 people were shot dead at a Walmart in El Paso.

The gunman in Dayton was identified as Connor Betts, a 24-year-old white man from Bellbrook, a Dayton suburb. One of the victims was his sister, Megan K. Betts, 22.

HuffPost, Beto O'Rourke links 'racist' Trump to El Paso shootings, Mary Papenfuss, Aug. 4, 2019. Democratic presidential candidate Beto beto orourke o 113th CongressO’Rourke on Saturday blamed Donald Trump in part for the deadly El Paso shootings that killed 20 people because he said the president’s “racism” leads “to violence.”

O’Rourke (shown in a file photo from his four terms in Congress representing the El Paso region) attacked the president when he was asked by an ABC News reporter if Trump had any responsibility for the shootings.

“Yes,” O’Rourke flatly responded.

“We’ve had a rise in hate crimes every single one of the last three years, during an administration where you have a president who’s called Mexicans rapists and criminals,” said the former Texas congressman and El Paso native.

“He is a racist, and he stokes racism in this country,” O’Rourke added.” It does not just offend our sensibilities; it fundamentally changes the character of this country and it leads to violence."

washington post logoWashington Post, Citing 2018 Capital Gazette shooting, Navy football team apologizes, changes new motto, Cindy Boren, Aug. 4, 2019. Navy’s football coach and players apologized Saturday after quickly changing a motto for the 2019 season — “Load the clip” — that was deemed inappropriate and insensitive in a community still recovering from a fatal shooting last year in the Capital Gazette newsroom, only a few miles from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

“It was a one-minute meeting,” Coach Ken Niumatalolo said during Navy’s football media day and fan fest Saturday (via the Capital Gazette). “I explained that some people had deemed the motto to be insensitive. Our captains didn’t need to hear another word. [The captains] immediately said, ‘Coach, let’s just change it.'

Shooting Backgrounder

NBC News, Trump Signs Bill Revoking Obama-Era Gun Checks for People With Mental Illnesses, Ali Vitali, Feb. 28, 2017.  President Donald Trump quietly signed a bill into law Tuesday rolling back an Obama-era regulation that made it harder for people with mental illnesses to purchase a gun.

The rule, which was finalized in December, added people receiving Social Security checks for mental illnesses and people deemed unfit to handle their own financial affairs to the national background check database.

Had the rule fully taken effect, the Obama administration predicted it would have added about 75,000 names to that database.

President Barack Obama recommended the now-nullified regulation in a 2013 memo following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which left 20 first graders and six others dead. The measure sought to block some people with severe mental health problems from buying guns.

Showtime via Rolling Stone, Watch Sacha Baron Cohen Dupe Gun Lobby in ‘Who Is America?’ Clip, Daniel Kreps, July 15, 2018 (10:51 min. video). Sacha Baron Cohen takes a frightening yet funny look at gun rights in America in the first clip from Who Is America?, the new Showtime series that finds the well-disguised comedian duping the likes of Sarah Palin, Roy Moore and Dick Cheney.

In this first look at the seven-episode series, Cohen plays Israeli anti-terrorist expert Col. Erran Morad. The character’s fuzzy logic goal is to “get deadly weapons in the hands of schoolchildren” in an effort to prevent school shootings.

Cohen’s character sits down with gun rights activist Philip Van Cleave to expose the lengths the gun lobby goes to stop any gun control measures, including one bill that would have prevented ages children 4 to 12 from handling weapons.nra logo Custom

“They tried to stop four-year-old children from having access to guns? What is the logic that these people come up with,” Morad asks Van Cleave before recruiting the activist’s help on a “common sense training” instructional video for three-year-olds.

“Just remember to point Puppy Pistol’s mouth at the middle of the bad man,” Van Cleave says in a cartoon schoolroom setting. “Aim at the head, shoulders, not the toes, not the toes.”

With instructional video in hand, Morad then sits down with lobbyist Larry Pratt, head of the 1.5 million-member Gun Owners of America, to help pass a law allowing four-year-olds access to weapons.

“The good thing about toddlers is that they don’t really have fear of guns. This fear is given to them by the media,” Morad says. “Let’s see if we can stop these anti-gun people from getting everyone killed.”

Pratt’s support gives Cohen’s character access to politicians like former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, California congressman Dana Rohrabacher, South Carolina congressman Joe Wilson and radio host Joe Walsh, all of whom back Morad’s proposal to arm preschoolers.

Impeachment Timeline

Palmer Report, Commentary: Elijah Cummings just gave away when Donald Trump’s impeachment is going to happen, Bill Palmer, Aug. 4, 2019. With a growing majority of House Democrats now publicly in favor of impeaching Donald Trump, and the House Judiciary Committee having already opened a low-key impeachment inquiry, it’s a matter of time before impeachment happens. The big question has been when it’ll finally start. Palmer Report has suggested watching the chairs of the big three House committees closely for clues, and one of them just offered a big one.

bill palmer report logo headerHouse Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings just said this to a group of reporters: “There may be a time where impeachment is appropriate. One of the lines for me is when and if the administration disobeys court orders. Then we have no choice, so we will see.” Why does this matter?

House Democrats have spent months fighting legal battles to obtain the evidence and testimony required to put on a convincing elijah cummings head and shoulders oimpeachment hearing. It’s been a fair guess that they’ll begin impeachment once they win those court battles. But now Elijah Cummings, right, is strongly implying that as soon as the courts rule against Trump on impeachment-related matters, they’ll go ahead and use that as a premise for impeachment hearings.

If you’re looking for more clues about Donald Trump’s impeachment going forward, continue to pay attention to the words and actions of House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff. They’re driving the impeachment train behind the scenes as much as Speaker Nancy Pelosi is.

U.S. Crime, Politics

Politico, Rod Rosenstein weighs in on Trump-Cummings Baltimore exchange, sort of, Josh Gerstein, Aug. 4, 2019. Rod Rosenstein, the former rod rosenstein us attorneydeputy U.S. attorney general and longtime chief federal prosecutor in Baltimore, is reacting to the high-profile, caustic comments by President Donald Trump about that city's crime problems.

In response to a query from Politico, Rosenstein (a Republican shown at right) did not comment directly on Trump's assertion that Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) is responsible for his city's violence problem.

However, the ex-prosecutor did echo some of Trump's message, arguing that Baltimore's political leaders have fallen down on the job and the city's voters have done little to hold them accountable.

"Local government is failing in Baltimore," Rosenstein told POLITICO via email. "The best things the government can do to help people are to provide a more effective law enforcement system and a more effective education system."
"They need to make the streets safe for law-abiding citizens and allow motivated students to leave failed schools and get a good education. That will only happen if voters hold elected local officials accountable for crime and education," Rosenstein added. "People get the government they vote for. "

Pressed about Trump's rhetoric — which many lawmakers have described as racist — and his description of Cummings' Baltimore-based district as "a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess," Rosenstein declined to comment. (Cummings, as a member of Congress, has no direct role in local police policies.)

Global News Roundup

washington post logoWashington Post, Mexico plans legal action to protect Mexicans in U.S., Mary Beth Sheridan​, Aug. 4, 2019. Mexico will act under international law after the “barbaric” El Paso attack, the foreign minister said. Mexico’s foreign minister denounced the mass shooting in El Paso as “unacceptable” and said Sunday that his government would pursue legal action to protect the Mexican and Mexican American communities in the United States.

Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said a number of Mexicans were killed and nine wounded in the attack at a shopping center in the border city. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said earlier that three Mexicans were slain, but Ebrard did not confirm the number.

“Mexico declares its profound rejection and complete condemnation of this barbaric act, in which innocent Mexican men and women lost their lives, and nine [Mexicans] were wounded,” Ebrard said in a recorded message on his Twitter feed.

He said his government’s first priority was to help the victims, and the second to pursue legal action to ensure that “conditions are in place to protect the Mexican American community, and Mexican men and women in the United States. What has happened is unacceptable.”

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. launches last-ditch effort to stop Turkish invasion of northeast Syria, Karen DeYoung, Souad Mekhennet and Louisa Loveluck​, Aug. 4, 2019. Syrian Kurds prepare for battle and warn that thousands of Islamic State fighters could break out of prison.

With tens of thousands of Turkish troops massed near the border, a high-level Defense Department delegation plans to present what U.S. officials describe as a final offer to address Turkey’s concerns at a meeting Monday in Ankara.

The meeting marks the climax of a years-long dispute between the two NATO allies over U.S. support for Syrian Kurdish fighters who have led the ground war against the Islamic State, but whom Turkey considers a terrorist threat to its own security. Kurdish-led victories against the militant group have effectively left them in control of much of the border area.

Failure of the U.S. effort could throw the war-devastated region into even deeper turmoil, endangering efforts to rout Islamic State remnants and President Trump’s goal of withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria.

washington post logoWashington Post, Hong Kong protesters paralyze a range of neighborhoods ahead of a planned general strike, Casey Quackenbush, Aug. 4, 2019. The protests, now in their ninth weekend, sent police on a chase through the city Sunday night and showed signs of intensifying ahead of a general strike on Monday. Black-clad protesters chanted “Monday! Strike!” as they flooded into the busy shopping district to occupy the city’s cross-harbor tunnel and paralyze other major thoroughfares.

Trump's Pledge To Saudis

djt saudi orb abdel al sissi salman

Donald Trump breaks protocol in 2017 by making his first overseas trip to visit the kingdom of the murderous Saud family, whose leader is at Trump's right as they engage in a unity ceremony.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump is even more of a Saudi puppet than we thought, BD Holly, Aug. 4, 2019. We really didn’t need more concrete evidence that Trump is bought and sold by one-percenters, and yet here we go.

Vice reports that Trump’s first 2016 campaign chairman and now convicted criminal, Paul Manafort, orchestrated a scheme to let the bill palmer report logo headerUnited Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia edit one of Trump’s stump speeches focused on energy. He did this in conjunction with Thomas Barrack Jr., right, himself a Republican megadonor who led Trump’s inaugural committee, which is also under scrutiny for allegations of corruption.

tom barrackheadshotAs stated in the piece by Vice, Saudi Arabia Edited a Trump “America First” Campaign Speech. Manafort Helped Them Do It, this was done “all in what appears to be an attempt to allow nuclear-tech sharing that could have led to a lucrative deal for Barrack, to finance the construction of nuclear power plants in the Middle East.”

Naturally, a few questions logically follow. Was Trump in on this? If so, was he getting a kickback? How have the UAE and Saudi Arabia influenced Trump with this and other potential improprieties? Has this happened with other nations or groups?

My thoughts: If Trump wasn’t in on it, I’d be surprised. Trump would likely not risk something like this without getting a cut. Saudi influence in particular has been a flashpoint with Congress, as Trump repeatedly gives way to Saudi interests at the cost of American interests. Trump’s unusual defenses of dictators the world over, not just Mohammed Bin Salman and other Saudi Royals, might have deeper roots than previously thought.

This revelation, that Trump’s team and by extension Trump himself, let foreign powers edit a speech of his as a presidential candidate is shocking. Democrats need to take this information and run with it. It’s a clear-as-day example of Trump’s disinterest in American wellbeing and compulsion to self-serve at the costs of hundreds of millions of people. Listen up Democrats: this is gold and you can’t let this slip through the cracks. Imagine the Republican response if Bernie Sanders had a speech about healthcare edited by the Norweigians.

Another Gulf Tanker Seized

ny times logoNew York Times, Iran Says It Has Seized Another Oil Tanker in Persian Gulf, Vivian Yee, Yonette Joseph and Iliana Magra, Aug. 4, 2019. Iran seized a foreign oil tanker in the Persian Gulf, state television reported on Sunday, the third time Tehran has reported detaining a tanker in the last month as the United States applies its campaign of “maximum pressure,” sanctions and diplomatic isolation against the country.

The tanker was detained by the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on Wednesday, along with the seven members of the ship’s foreign crew, according to official Iranian news agencies, which cited a naval commander. Iran said the tanker was “smuggling” fuel to some Arab states, without offering evidence.

The oil tanker was an Iraqi ship, the official IRNA news agency reported, quoting Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps.

The Trump administration has tried to force Iran into submission by choking off its oil sales, the cornerstone of the country’s economy. Iran has responded by lashing out at the West through provocations small and large — including the recent tanker seizures — raising fears that any miscalculation and tit-for-tat responses would escalate into war.

The Trump administration’s stated goal is to extract a nuclear deal from Iran that is more favorable to American interests than the 2015 agreement that President Trump abandoned last year. Critics say, however, the administration has only undermined any path to diplomacy by making demands that Iran cannot accept.

The Iranians, in turn, have taken steps to renege on their commitments under the 2015 deal and have threatened to violate the agreement further unless European countries that co-signed the deal offer some relief from the sanctions. The Europeans have made clear that they hope to preserve the deal, but they have not been able to give a meaningful boost to Iran’s economy, which is reeling under the weight of the sanctions.

That has led to a split between Europe and the United States despite their common interest in making sure crucial oil shipping routes in the Persian Gulf are protected against Iranian and other threats.

Aug. 3

White Rage Shooting In El Paso

washington post logoWashington Post, Multiple people killed in shooting at El Paso mall, Hannah Knowles, Morgan Krakow and Michael S. Rosenwald, Aug. 3, 2019. At least 20 people were killed and 40 injured in a shooting at a Walmart and neighboring stores in El Paso on Saturday afternoon, sending shoppers racing for cover in a chaotic scene that prompted a massive police and medical response, local authorities and government officials said.

At least 23 are still being treated in hospitals, authorities said. Authorities identified a man in custody as Patrick Crusius, 21, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the inquiry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

One official said that the specific number of people killed and wounded was subject to change, noting that some of the victims were critically wounded.

Authorities are also investigating a manifesto that includes remarks attacking immigrants and is sympathetic to the Christchurch attacker accused of killing 49 people in mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques this year, according to the two officials. Authorities have not confirmed that the manifesto is from the same attacker but continue to investigate it.

• Photos: The scene after the El Paso shooting

ny times logoNew York Times, Minutes Before El Paso Killing, a Hate-Filled Manifesto Appears Online, Tim Arango, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Katie Benner, Aug. 4, 2019 (print ed.). The authorities are investigating a 2,300-word screed railing against immigrants that was posted online. Nineteen minutes before the first 911 call alerted the authorities to a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Tex., a hate-filled, anti-immigrant manifesto appeared online.

It spoke of a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” It detailed a plan to separate America into territories by race. It warned that white people were being replaced by foreigners.

The authorities were scrutinizing the 2,300-word screed on Saturday and attempting to determine whether it was written by the same man who killed 20 people and injured more than two dozen others near the Mexican border.

Police officers were interviewing the suspect, Patrick Crusius, a 21-year-old white man from Allen, Tex., a roughly 10-hour drive to the Walmart. What brought him to a crowded shopping center in El Paso is one of the many questions on the minds of investigators.

Trump Drops Spy Nominee

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Drops Spy Chief Pick After Bipartisan Pushback, Charlie Savage, Julian E. Barnes and Annie Karni, Aug. 3, Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)2019 (print ed.). Senators had questioned whether Representative John Ratcliffe, an outspoken Trump supporter, was qualified to be the director of national intelligence. Mr. Ratcliffe also faced questions over whether he had exaggerated his résumé.

President Trump on Friday abruptly dropped his plan to nominate Representative John Ratcliffe, left, Republican of Texas, as the nation’s top intelligence official after questions by Republicans and Democrats john ratcliffe headshot Customabout his qualifications and concern over whether he had exaggerated his résumé.

Mr. Ratcliffe, a vocal supporter of Mr. Trump, had come under intense scrutiny since the president declared on Sunday on Twitter that the lawmaker was his pick to succeed Dan Coats, who is stepping down as director of national intelligence on Aug. 15. The selection generated scant enthusiasm among senators of both parties, who would have decided whether to confirm him.

Mr. Trump, in his post announcing that Mr. Ratcliffe would not be his nominee after all, spoke bitterly of the attention that Mr. Ratcliffe’s overstated claims about his experience as a federal prosecutor quickly received from the news media. “Our great Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe is being treated very unfairly by the LameStream Media,” he wrote.

• New York Times, The selection of Representative John Ratcliffe had generated scant enthusiasm among senators of both parties.

• Washington Post, Ratcliffe is disengaged from House Intelligence Committee’s work on Capitol Hill, officials say

Global Economy

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s new tariffs take aim at heart of the U.S. economy: Consumers, David J. Lynch, Damian Paletta and Heather Long, Aug. 3, 2019 (print ed.). Administration officials insisted Friday that President Trump’s latest tariffs on Chinese goods would not china flag Smallpunish consumers even as some White House aides privately acknowledged the move damaged prospects for the slowing economy to rebound this year.

Trump unveiled new trade ­barriers targeting made-in-China consumer products just one day after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell warned that the president’s trade policies were sapping business investment.

The move to impose a 10 percent tariff on an additional $300 billion of Chinese goods starting Sept. 1 is a striking economic gamble as the president approaches a 2020 reelection campaign. Investors, his political opponents and the Chinese government all scrambled to respond. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 98 points to close at 26,485.01 Friday, its fourth straight daily decline.

U.S. 2020 Elections / Impeachment

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Not so bright, our Democratic candidates, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Aug. 3, 2019 (74:16 mins). We are dealing with a webster tarpley 2007full-fledged crisis of the Democratic Party. It is moral. It is political. It is civic. It is a massive irresponsibility and it shows the ultimate logic of the identity groups. You get a political imbecility about the big questions and essentially pandering to each of these individual groups because you're're hoping to get their votes in the primaries.

Where that leaves us vis-a-vis Trump is anybody's guess. Of course, he does the same thing, except that he's going after what he regards as the largest identity group: White workers, the white middle class and white lower class. He's lost a lot of them because of his vulgarity and hooligism and his quisling attitudes, but still....

The news, of course, is impeachment. This gradual, granual process, which is assembling the majority in the House, which is going to bring down Trump. That's what's going on, not these gestulating thespians with their histrioics on the [Democratic debate] stage in Detroit -- mainly proving that it's hard to see who's fit for the presidency. They're all going to require some reform.

Every day brings a new vote for the impeachment inquiry. That of course gives added power in the courts for the various subpoenas and sets up a constitutional crisis, maybe, depending on what Trump and Barr do. But enforcement, accountability, asserting the Constitution. That's exactly what we have been recommending. It is slowly but surely boxing in [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi, forcing her to smile and go along with the process.

U.S. Political Corruption?

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP senator held up nominee after military panned construction firm he prefers for border wall, Nick Miroff and Damian Paletta, Aug. 3, 2019 (print ed.). A Republican senator held up the confirmation of a White House budget official this week in an attempt to obtain sensitive information about border wall contracts he has been trying to steer to a major donor, according to emails obtained by The Washington Post.

kevin cramerThe emails show Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) blasting the “arrogance” of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after senior military officials told him the contracts contained sensitive, proprietary information provided by the companies that could not be shared.

In recent months, Cramer, right, has touted his preferred construction firm, North Dakota-based Fisher Industries, and campaign finance records show the senator has received thousands of dollars in contributions from company chief executive Tommy Fisher and his family members.

Cramer put a temporary hold this week on the confirmation of