September 2019 News


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

Sept. 20

Trump Scandal Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Whistleblower complaint about Trump involves Ukraine, say people familiar with the matter, Ellen Nakashima, Shane Harris, Greg Miller and Carol D. Leonnig, Sept. 20, 2019 (print ed.). The complaint involved communications with a foreign leader and a “promise” that President Trump made. Two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed, Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

• Washington Post, Giuliani admits to asking Ukraine about Joe Biden after denying it 30 seconds earlier

washington post logoWashington Post, For border wall, officials consider diverting billions more in military funds, Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 20, 2019 (print ed.). Internal projections show that the president’s goal of completing nearly 500 miles of new barriers by the 2020 election will require $18.4 billion, far more than the administration has publicly disclosed.

Sept. 19

Trump Scandal Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Top Democrat threatens legal action if intelligence chief doesn’t share whistleblower complaint, John Wagner and Karoun Demirjian​, Sept. 19, 2019. House President Donald Trump officialIntelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said the refusal to share the complaint with Congress is “unprecedented.” The Post has reported that the complaint was prompted by President Trump’s interactions with a foreign leader. Trump has denied doing anything improper. 

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s interaction with foreign leader is part of whistleblower complaint, former U.S. officials say, Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Shane Harris, Sept. 19, 2019. The president’s communications with the foreign leader included a “promise” regarded as so troubling that it prompted an intelligence official to file the formal complaint, the officials said.

• Analysis: A timeline surrounding the whistleblower complaint

Global News

washington post logoiran flag mapWashington Post, Iran warns U.S. of ‘all-out war’ if attacked, Paul Schemm and Louisa Loveluck, Sept. 19, 2019. The president’s communications with the foreign leader included a “promise” regarded as so troubling that it prompted an intelligence official to file the formal complaint, the official Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in an interview with CNN denied involvement in the attacks on Saudi oil facilities and warned that retaliatory strikes risked causing significant bloodshed.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the Gulf conferring with allies to decide on a response.

washington post logoIsrael FlagWashington Post, Israeli election setback has Netanyahu now seeking to share power in a unity government, Ruth Eglash and Steve Hendrix​, Sept. 19, 2019. The prime minister’s rival, Benny Gantz, rejected the offer unless he would be in charge himself.

washington post logoWashington Post, Third incident of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in racist makeup emerges, Amanda Coletta, Hannah Knowles and Reis Thebault, Sept. 19, 2019. The succession of revelations has rocked Trudeau’s campaign as he faces a tough battle for a second term.

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump’s National Security Yes Man Is In for a Bumpy Ride, Jonathan Stevenson (served on the National Security Council staff from 2011 to 2013), robert obrien oSept. 18, 2019. In Robert O’Brien, chosen Wednesday as Mr. Bolton’s replacement, the president seems to have found a compliant, behind-the-scenes worker bee better suited to Mr. Trump’s domineering temperament. His appointment may signal the death knell of any hope to check the president’s worst foreign-policy impulses.

Mr. O’Brien, right, who most recently served as the government’s chief hostage negotiator, wrote a book in 2016 titled “While America Slept: Restoring American Leadership to a World in Crisis.” In it, he lays out a hawkish worldview not all that dissimilar from Mr. Bolton’s. But he has also lavished praise on his boss, declaring that Mr. Trump’s muscular foreign policy had produced “unparalleled success” in freeing American hostages.

Mr. O’Brien’s appointment is likely to mean that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will continue to be the president’s chief foreign policy adviser, a role he usurped from Mr. Bolton. Unfortunately, Secretary Pompeo has succeeded precisely because he seems to have few if any principles that he won’t suppress for the sake of holding and wielding executive power. The Ed McMahon of American foreign policy, he is smart enough to be in on the Trump joke, doesn’t care that it’s not funny and laughs anyway.

washington post logomitch mcconnell elevator getty croppedWashington Post, In turnaround, McConnell backs $250 million in election security funding, Felicia Sonmez and Erica Werner​, Sept. 19, 2019. McConnell, right, had been derided by Democrats as “Moscow Mitch” for repeatedly blocking efforts to combat Russian interference in U.S. elections.

More On Whistleblower Dispute

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump disputes report that his interaction with foreign leader prompted whistleblower complaint, John Wagner and Karoun Demirjian, Sept. 19, 2019  President Trump disputed a Washington Post report Thursday that his interaction with a foreign leader had prompted an official in the U.S. intelligence community to file a formal whistleblower complaint, saying it was inconceivable that he would say anything inappropriate on a heavily monitored phone call.

“Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially ‘heavily populated’ call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just jumped the treason shark, Bill Palmer, Sept. 19, 2019. What matters is how the average American – in the court of public opinion – views the concept of treason. And in that regard, Trump just jumped the shark.

bill palmer report logo headerThe trouble with the Mueller report is that it documented hundreds of pages of Donald Trump’s people colluding with the Russian government in ways which could not possibly have been above board – but there was no smoking gun. Moreover, no one outside of the politically dedicated crowd bothered to read it, and Mueller’s testimony didn’t have the impact some were hoping.

But now we’re looking at something entirely different.

Consumers / Health

washington post logoWashington Post, FDA reveals criminal probe of vaping products as number of people sickened hits 530, Lena H. Sun, Sept. 19, 2019. At least seven people have died from a mysterious vaping-related lung illness. The enforcement arm of the Food and Drug Administration has been conducting a probe of the supply chain since illnesses were first reported earlier this summer.

washington post logopurdue pharma logoWashington Post, Purdue Pharma, facing lawsuits and bankruptcy, wants to pay ‘certain employees’ $34 million in bonuses, Peter Whoriskey​, Sept. 19, 2019. As plaintiffs seek billions from the pharmaceutical giant, it’s attorneys told a judge that the company “is not an easy place to work right now.”

U.S. Media News

NBC News, Pence taps former DHS press aide as new press secretary, Leigh Ann Caldwell,Sept. 19, 2019. Vice President Mike Pence, right, has hired Katie Waldman to be his new press secretary, NBC News has learned. Waldman, who is currently communications director for Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., previously served as the public defender of the Trump administration’s policy of family separations as deputy press secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.

mike pence oWaldman, 27, will replace Alyssa Farah who left earlier this month to be a spokeswoman at the Department of Defense. Waldman is an aggressive and sometimes polarizing communicator but has proven to be a loyal advocate for the Trump administration and its policies.

During her nearly two-year stint at DHS, she was given the agency’s immigration portfolio and empowered to be the lead spokesperson. She consistently defended the administration’s policy of “zero tolerance” that led to the separation of thousands of children from their parents after crossing the southern border. That experience has proven that she is battle-tested several allies of Waldman told NBC News.

Waldman will be reporting directly to Short. She’ll be the on-the-record spokesperson for the vice president during a critical time as the president and vice president head into an election year.

Sept. 18

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Robert O’Brien Is Named National Security Adviser, Peter Baker, Sept. 18, 2019. President Trump on Wednesday selected Robert C. O’Brien, the State robert obrien oDepartment’s chief hostage negotiator, to become his national security adviser, moving to reconstitute his foreign policy staff even as he faces rising tension with Iran.

In choosing Mr. O’Brien, right, to replace John R. Bolton, who left the White House last week, the president chose a Los Angeles lawyer who had impressed him with his work to extricate Americans detained by countries like North Korea and Turkey. But it is not clear how different his advice will be from his predecessor given that Mr. O’Brien previously worked for Mr. Bolton and has cited his hawkish views in the past.

Mr. Trump announced the selection on Twitter shortly after saying he would also “substantially increase Sanctions” on Iran after weekend attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia that officials in Washington and the region have blamed on the Tehran government.

Mr. Trump, who is in California for a second day of campaign fund-raising, offered no elaboration on how sanctions could be increased, but the move may have been a way of offering a tough response to the attacks in Saudi Arabia without necessarily using military force. His statement came shortly after he retweeted a message defending his decision this summer to call off an airstrike on Iran.

  • New York Times, Trump Orders New Sanctions on Iran After Saudi Attacks, Sept. 18, 2019. The news came as Iran’s president said he might skip a U.N. gathering, blaming U.S. obstacles. Saudi Arabia prepared to release what it said was evidence of Tehran’s responsibility for airstrikes.

Inside DC: 'Fatal' Error?

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: It was chaos, and then a real lawyer showed up, Jennifer Rubin, right, Sept. 18, 2019.Corey Lewandowski sneered and dodged and raised phony jennifer rubin new headshotprivileges when questioned by members of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. He did, however, make a fatal error (fatal to President Trump, that is) when he repeatedly said the White House had instructed him not to answer questions.

After the hearing, Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) told CNN: “Article 3 of Nixon’s impeachment was obstruction of Congress, refusing to obey defined congressional subpoenas, pleading imaginary privileges. And obviously that’s what the president has been doing.” In short, Lewandowski’s own conduct provided djt corey lewandowskievidence of obstruction.

The real excitement came, however, after the media decided it was all chaos and Democrats had accomplished nothing. Democrats’ counsel Barry Berke got 30 minutes to question Lewandowski (shown at left in a file photo) and made the most of it. In short, Berke made perfectly clear that Lewandowski’s actions (refusing to deliver Trump’s instructions, demanding immunity, lying on TV, creating no record) demonstrated he knew he was being asked to do something wrong or illegal.

Global News

washington post logoWashington Post, Iran warns U.S. of ‘broad’ retaliation in case of any attack, Paul Schemm, Sept. 18, 2019. Iran warned the United States that it would broadly retaliate against any attacks in the wake of crippling strikes on the Saudi oil industry over the weekend, Iranian news agencies reported Wednesday. The message, which was sent via the Swiss Embassy in Tehran that handles U.S. affairs in the country, condemned remarks by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other officials linking Iran with the attacks on a Saudi oil field and processing facility.

“Iran’s response will be prompt and strong, and it may include broader areas than the source of attacks,” the Mehr News Agency reported the official note as saying. Iran’s Fars News Agency said any response would be “rapid and crushing” and target “more extensive areas than the origin of the attack.” There have long been fears that Iranian proxy forces in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere might attack U.S. forces in the region.

washington post logoWashington Post, Israel’s two main parties locked in dead heat as negotiations begin for a new government, James McAuley and Ruth Eglash, Sept. 18, 2019. Both main parties in Israel’s do-over election were locked in a dead heat on Wednesday, with more than 90 percent of the vote tallied. The inconclusive result was almost certain to trigger weeks of political infighting, the same uncertainty that set this unusual process in motion in the first place.

As the results continued to trickle in, both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of Israel’s ruling Likud party, and his chief rival, Benny Gantz, head of the centrist secular Blue and White faction, immediately began jockeying for the endorsement of smaller parties whose support could propel either one to a ruling majority of 61 seats in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. The two parties have an estimated 32 seats each in the new parliament.

At the center of the stage was the unlikely figure of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who in the coming days will offer either Netanyahu or Gantz the first chance at forming a government. Rivlin gave no indication as to which way he would go, but he had already chosen Netanyahu after a similar inconclusive vote in April.

New Claim Against Epstein

washington post logoWashington Post, Epstein’s alleged abuse of teenage girl detailed in lawsuit against his estate executors, Devlin Barrett​, Sept. 18, 2019. The woman, identified as ‘Victim-1’ and ‘Jane Doe,’ says financier Jeffrey Epstein abused her for three years when she was poor and needed rent money.

A woman who says she is “Victim-1” in the New York indictment against deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein filed suit against the executors of his estate Wednesday, saying he abused her for three years beginning when she was a 14-year-old girl struggling to find a way to help her family pay rent.

The suit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, offers new details about Epstein’s interactions with Victim-1, including specifics of the alleged crimes, and how her personal situation made her an easier target. The lawsuit was filed by the woman’s lawyer, Roberta A. Kaplan.

Her sister was sick, and the family had so little money that the girl was forced to move out, staying with “a rotating cast of friends and took odd jobs after school to try to help her family pay rent,” according to the suit.

Around that time, an older girl brought her to Epstein’s mansion on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where he would pay her hundreds of dollars for massages that gradually escalated into sex acts with Epstein and others, according to the suit.

The abuse continued until she was 17, and she was sexually assaulted “countless times” in those three years, the lawsuit charges.

Sept. 18

Supreme Court Perjury Claim

jacob hornberger newFuture of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: Congress Shares the Blame for the Kavanaugh Fiasco, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Sept. 18, 2019. When the Republican members of Congress voted in a 50-48 partisan vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, they obviously believed that a quick vote in favor of confirmation would quell the controversy over Kavanaugh’s nomination. The New York Times’s recent publication of an essay raising new evidence of sex-abuse allegations against Kavanaugh has dashed that hope. The article has ignited a firestorm of controversy, with even Democratic presidential candidates making it an issue.

The controversy originated when Christine Blasey Ford, left, a research psychologist at Stanford University, alleged that when she and Kavanaugh were in high school in 1982, he sexually assaulted her during a house party they were both attending. She alleged that he pounced on her on a bed in an upstairs bedroom, attempted to take her clothes christine blasey ford oath uncreditedoff, and held his hand over her mouth to prevent her from screaming.

For his part, Kavanaugh heatedly and indignantly denied the allegation and claimed that it was politically motivated.

Some Kavanaugh supporters claimed that it would be unfair to punish him for what they considered was a minor incident in high school. But that really wasn’t the real issue regarding confirmation. The real issue, instead, was whether Kavanaugh had committed perjury in his confirmation hearings with respect to his sworn denials of wrongdoing.

In other words, let’s assume that Kavanaugh, from the very beginning, had acknowledged that he had done what Ford was alleging, expressed genuine remorse for it, and apologized for it. I think very few people would have supported punishing him for a grave error in judgment as a high school student 25 years ago by denying him a seat on the Supreme Court.

That’s not what happened, however. Instead, once Ford made a prima facie case establishing the assault, Kavanaugh, below right, testified under oath that the allegation was false. That immediately raised the possibility that he was committing perjury, which is a grave offense, especially for a lawyer. The last thing that any ethical and competent lawyers would want is a lawyer serving on the Supreme Court who has just recently committed perjury in an official proceeding.

Corroborating evidence

brett kavanaugh flagOne of the points that Kavanaugh supporters and even some in the mainstream press made throughout the controversy — and are still making — is that there was no corroborating evidence to support Ford’s contention. But that simply is untrue. Ford did, in fact, provide corroborating evidence of her allegation to the confirmation committee.

Ford’s corroborating evidence was in the form of what the law calls “prior consistent statements.” I wrote about this type of corroborating evidence in my October 9, 2018, article, “Christine Ford’s Corroborating Evidence.” Therefore, I won’t repeat what I wrote there except to emphasize the point: under the law, prior consistent statements made by a complainant do constitute corroborating evidence of the allegation.

Ford’s prior consistent statements consisted of statements that she made to several people about the alleged Kavanaugh assault. Such statements dated back several years before her appearance before the confirmation committee. In fact, some of them dated back to before President Trump was even elected president.

Sept. 17

Inside DC

C-SPAN 3, U.S. House Judiciary Counsel Berke questions Lewandowski, Sept. 17, 2019 (43:05 min. video). White-collar criminal defense attorney Barry Berke questions former Trump 2016 Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski as a member of the House Judiciary staff.

Palmer Report, Opinion: GOP Congressman Doug Collins completely screws up and has to bail on Corey Lewandowski hearing, Bill Palmer, Sept. 17, 2019. At the end of Corey Lewandowski’s House Judiciary Committee testimony today, the House Democrats trotted out a professional outside counsel to grill Lewandowsk, shown below with Trump, on his lies and conflicting statements. This didn’t come as a surprise; the Democrats said in advance that they’d be doing this. The thing is, the House Republicans ended up being too clever by half, and got caught with their pants down.

bill palmer report logo headerHouse Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins objected to Chairman Jerry Nadler’s use of a professional counsel, because he was technically a consultant and not a “staff” member, as the rules had specified. But Nadler and the Democrats simply overruled him, because that’s how majorities work. Once the outside counsel was done decimating Lewandowski, it was time for the House Republicans to bring out their own staff member to question him.

djt corey lewandowskiThat’s when Doug Collins announced that he was going to be the staff member who would question Lewandowski. Collins seemed almost overjoyed at having pulled off such a stunt – until a few seconds later when Jerry Nadler pointed out that Collins was not a member of his own staff. Collins seemed stunned, and said he needed a minute to discuss things. Nadler granted him a one minute break, and when Collins returned, he stated that he was simply giving up, and that the hearing would end.

How could the House Republicans not have seen this coming? The House Democrats were obviously going to bring out a professional to handle their staff questioning, not a staffer from the mail room. And the Democratic majority was never going to allow Republican Congressman Doug Collins to pretend he was a member of his own staff. The House GOP got caught with its pants

Global News: Iran-Saudis

washington post logoWashington Post, Billions spent on U.S. weapons didn’t protect the Saudis’ most critical oil sites, Adam Taylor, Sept. 17, 2019. The Saturday attack represented an unusually well-planned operation that would have been difficult for even the most well-equipped and experienced countries to detect and neutralize, experts said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Shifts Tone on Iran and Plays Down War Talk After Saudi Strike, Richard Pérez-Peña, David D. Kirkpatrick and Michael Crowley, Sept. 17, 2016 (print ed.). Asked whether Iran was behind the attack, President Trump said, “It’s looking that way.” But he stopped short of a definitive confirmation. Mr. Trump also said that he would “like to avoid” a military conflict with Tehran, a notable change from his previous “locked and loaded” comment. Mr. Trump’s response offered insight into his deference to the Saudi royal family.

Global News: Israeli Elections

Israel Flagwashington post logoWashington Post, Polls close in Israeli election with Netanyahu’s political fate in the balance, Steve Hendrix, James McAuley and Ruth Eglash, Sept. 17, 2019.​ Turnout was heavy, and exit polls showed the prime minister's Likud Party tied or narrowly trailing its main rival, the Blue and White Party led by former Army Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.

Global News: Syria

SouthFront, Russia, Turkey And Iran Reinforce Coordination During High-Level Summit In Ankara, Staff and wire reports, Sept. 17, 2019. On Sept. 16, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met in Ankara as the guarantors of the Astana Process on the settlement in Syria. This was the leader’s fifth meeting.

Following the summit, the three leaders released a joint statement. These are the highlights:

  • They reviewed the developments since the last meeting in Sochi on February 14th, 2019, reiterating their determination to enhance coordination;
  • “Emphasized their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic as well as to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. They highlighted that these principles should be universally respected and that no actions, no matter by whom they were undertaken, should undermine them”;
  • Rejected the US recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory and not occupied Syrian territory; and
  • “Discussed the situation in the north-east of Syria, emphasized that security and stability in this region can only be achieved on the basis of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country and agreed to coordinate their efforts to this end.

In the sense of the previous statement, the leaders refused any “attempts to create new realities on the ground under the pretext of combating terrorism, including illegitimate self-rule initiatives, and expressed their determination to stand against separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as well as threatening the national security of neighboring countries.” This is likely towards the US-backed Kurdish groups operating in northeastern Syria.

Trump Scandal Watch

ny times logoNew York Times, 8 Years of Trump Tax Returns Are Subpoenaed by Manhattan D.A., William K. Rashbaum and Ben Protess, Sept. 17, 2019 (print ed.). Investigators demanded President Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns as they examine hush money paid to Stormy Daniels.State prosecutors in Manhattan have subpoenaed President Trump’s accounting firm to demand eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns, according to several people with knowledge of the matter.

President Donald Trump officialThe subpoena opens a new front in a wide-ranging effort to obtain copies of the president’s tax returns, which Mr. Trump initially said he would make public during the 2016 campaign but has since refused to disclose.

The subpoena was issued by the Manhattan district attorney’s office late last month, soon after it opened a criminal investigation into the role that the president and his family business played in hush-money payments made in the run-up to the election.

Both Mr. Trump and his company reimbursed Michael D. Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and fixer, for money Mr. Cohen paid to buy the silence of Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump. The president has denied the affair.

Kavanaugh Scandal

washington post logoWashington Post, Inaction on Kavanaugh sex misconduct allegations reignites political rancor, Seung Min Kim, Sept. 17, 2019. Democrats are angry about a confirmation process they feel was rushed, while Republicans decry what they view as more attempts to tarnish Brett M. Kavanaugh’s reputation.

Four days before Brett M. Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court by the narrowest of margins, Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) sent a letter to the FBI, urging “appropriate follow up” on new information he believed was relevant to sexual misconduct allegations made against the nominee.

Then, apparently, not much happened.

Not at the FBI, which assured Coons it had received the letter but did not interview the person whom the senator referred to the bureau. Not in the office of then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), which was copied on the letter that contained few in the way of specifics. And not among Democrats, several of whom had been unaware of the information until a New York Times report this weekend detailed a new alleged incident involving Kavanaugh.

• High court is quiet as allegations agitate White House, Capitol
• Retropolis: Old Bacon Face, the only impeached Supreme Court justice

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The FBI probe into Kavanaugh turns out to be more of a sham than it seemed, Editorial Board, Sept. 17, 2019. This investigative shoddiness was apparently the fault not of the FBI but of Republicans looking for the cover Mr. Flake had claimed he did not want.

At first, they limited the FBI to questioning only four people about two separate allegations. Agents eventually got an expansion of the number of people they could contact — they interviewed 10 — but not an extension of their deadline: a mere week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) insisted that the Senate would vote within days. Under these pressures and limitations, the FBI interviewed few and turned in its report early.

Palmer Report, Analysis: The ultimate nightmare scenario when it comes to Brett Kavanaugh, Bill Palmer, Sept. 17, 2019. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is a nightmare in every sense of the word. In his confirmation hearings he showed himself to be a mentally unstable, screaming, crying, belligerent lunatic – and that’s before getting to the numerous bill palmer report logo headerallegations of sexual assault against him, along with the felony perjury he committed in plain sight. But there’s a nightmare scenario when it comes to Kavanaugh that could make this whole thing even worse.

Overheated calls from Democrats for Mr. Kavanaugh’s impeachment, like the chilling calls from President Trump for the Justice Department to strike back at accusers, are not productive. But the Justice Department Office of the Inspector General should investigate exactly what marching orders the FBI got and when, and how its agents responded.

More Global News: Iran

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump’s dual instincts on Iran: Big threats and an eagerness to deal, Anne Gearan, Sept. 17, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump has said Iran is the greatest threat in the Middle East, a would-be nuclear power that he has brought low through the stiffest sanctions ever applied to a single nation. He has warned that the United States is “locked and loaded” to punish Iran if it is found to be responsible for the attack on Saudi oil facilities over the weekend.

But Trump has also eagerly courted a sit-down negotiation with the leader of Iran, called off a military strike earlier this year because it could have killed too many Iranians and flirted with a plan to offer Tehran a $15 billion lifeline to help it deal with the crushing U.S. sanctions.

On Monday in the Oval Office, Trump told reporters “we don’t want war with anybody” and then less than an hour later said he thinks a U.S. military strike on an Iranian oil facility would be a proportional response.

Global News: Indonesia

ny times logoNew York Times, As Amazon Smolders, Indonesia Fires Choke the Other Side of the World,  Richard C. Paddock and Muktita Suhartono, Sept. 17, 2019. Thousands of fires, most of them set to clear land for plantations that make palm oil, created thick clouds of smoke that disrupted air travel and sickened people,housands of fires, most of them set to clear land for plantations that make palm oil, created thick clouds of smoke that disrupted air travel and sickened people.

U.S. Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Cokie Roberts, Journalist and Commentator, Is Dead at 75, Neil Genzlinger, Sept. 17, 2019. Cokie Roberts, the pioneering broadcast journalist known to millions for her work with ABC News and NPR, died on Tuesday. She was 75.

ABC News, in a posting on its website Tuesday morning, said the cause was breast cancer. The disease was first diagnosed in 2002. The statement did not say where she died. Ms. Roberts started her career at CBS, then began working for NPR in 1978, covering Capitol Hill. She joined ABC in 1988. Her three decades at the network included anchoring, with Sam Donaldson, the Sunday morning news program “This Week” from 1996 to 2002.

Sept. 16

Global News: Iran-Saudis

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Deference to Saudis in Setting Terms for How U.S. Should Respond to Attacks Touches a Nerve, Peter Baker and David E. Sanger, Sept. 16, 2019. After oil installations were blown up in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, President Trump declared that the United States was “locked and loaded,” a phrase that seemed to suggest he was ready to strike back. But then he promised to wait for Saudi Arabia to tell him “under what terms we would proceed.”

His message on Twitter offered a remarkable insight into the deference Mr. Trump gives to the Saudi royal family and touched off a torrent of criticism from those who have long accused him of doing Riyadh’s bidding while sweeping Saudi violations of human rights and international norms under the rug.

It was hard to imagine him allowing NATO, or a European ally, such latitude to determine how the United States should respond. But for Mr. Trump, the Saudis have always been a special case, their economic import having often overwhelmed other considerations in his mind.

yemen saudi map 9 15 2019 southfront Custom

Map of Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf with notations of recent drone attack sites on Sept. 15, 2019 (Credit:

washington post logoWashington Post, Yemen’s Houthi rebels warn of more attacks on Saudi oil facilities; Saudi military says oil site attacks carried out with Iranian weapons, Erin Cunningham, Anne Gearan, Steven Mufson and Kareem Fahim​, Sept. 16, 2019. The threat comes days after the group claimed an assault on a refinery belonging to Saudi Arabia’s national oil company. President Trump had said Sunday the United States was “locked and loaded” and ready to respond.

saudi arabia refinery attack sites us photos

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Damage At Saudi Oil Plant Points To Well-Targeted Swarm Attack, B, Sept. 16, 2019. Saturday's attack on the Saudi oil and gas processing station in Abqaiq hit its stabilization facility. Abqaiq lies at the heart of the Saudi oil infrastructure. It processes more than half of the Saudi oil output.

The pictures [from the U.S. government, with the more detailed of the two shown above] show some 17 points of impact. There are cars visible in the second, more detailed picture that demonstrate the gigantic size of the place. The targets were carefully selected. At least 11 of those were egg-shaped tanks with a diameter of some 30 meters (100 feet). These are likely tanks for pressurized (liquidized) gas that receive the condensate vapor from the stabilization process. They all have now quite neat holes in their upper shells.

The targeting for this attack was done with detailed knowledge of the process and its dependencies. The north arrow in those pictures points to the left. The visible shadows confirm the direction. The holes in the tanks are on the western side. They were attacked from the west.

The hits were extremely precise. The Yemeni armed forces claimed it attacked the facility with 10 drones (or cruise missiles). But the hits on these targets look like neither. A total of 17 hits with such precise targeting lets me assume that these were some kind of drones or missiles with man-in-the-loop control. There is no information yet on the damage in Khurais, the second target of the attacks.

The U.S. and Israel are able to commit such attacks. Iran probably too. Yemen seems unlikely to have this capability without drawing on extensive support from elsewhere. The planning for this operation must have taken months.

A Middle-East BBC producer remarks:

Riam Dalati @Dalatrm - 22:44 UTC · Sep 15, 2019
17 points of impact. No Drones or missiles were detected/intercepted. Saudis & Americans still at loss as to where the attack was launched from. #KSA seriously needs to shop elsewhere & replace the Patriot or reinforce it with a web of radar operated AA guns like the Oerlikon.

A source familiar with #Aramco situation told us earlier today that it was a “swarm attack”, a mix of > 20 drones and missiles, at least half of which were "suicide" drones. #USA & #KSA, he said, are 'certain' that attack was launched from #Iraq but 'smoking gun still missing'

They are also 'fairly certain' that #IRGC was behind the operation because, even though the missiles used were identical to those of the #Houthis, an inspection of the debris found in the desert revealed a 'couple of new updates' and a 'distinctly better craftsmanship'

The Wall Street Journal reports of the damage:

The strikes knocked out 5.7 million barrels of daily production, and the officials said they still believe they can fully replace it in coming days. That would require tapping oil inventories and using other facilities to process crude. One of the main targets of the attack was a large crude-processing plant in Abqaiq.

“It is definitely worse than what we expected in the early hours after the attack, but we are making sure that the market won’t experience any shortages until we’re fully back online,” said a Saudi official.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels said oil installations in Saudi Arabia remain among their targets after attacks against two major sites slashed the kingdom’s output by half and triggered a surge in crude prices.

The Iranian-backed rebel group, cited by the Houthi’s television station, said its weapons can reach anywhere in Saudi Arabia. Saturday’s attacks were carried out by “planes” using new engines, the group said, likely referring to drones.

Saudi Arabia has no defenses against this kind of attacks. The U.S. has no system that could be used for that purpose. Russia is the only country that can provide the necessary equipment. It would be extremely costly, and still insufficient, to protect all of the Saudi's vital facilities from similar swarm attacks.

washington post logoWashington Post, Iran denies it carried out drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities, Kareem Fahim, Erin Cunningham and Steven Mufson, Sept. 16, 2019 (print ed.).  Iran on Sunday rejected U.S. accusations it was responsible for devastating attacks on two oil installations in Saudi Arabia that struck at the heart of the kingdom’s oil industry and forced Aramco, the state oil company, to suspend its production output by half.

iran flag mapA rebel group in Yemen, known as the Houthis, had claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attacks, saying that it had sent a fleet of attack drones toward the two oil facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia. Hours later, though, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a Twitter message, directly blamed Iran for what Saudi Arabian flaghe said was “an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply” and said there was “no evidence the attacks came from Yemen” — leading to speculation they had been launched directly from Iran, or on Tehran’s behalf, by allies in Iraq.

The Department of Energy said that the U.S. was prepared to tap emergency oil reserves if necessary to cover supply disruptions.

Supreme Court: Perjury / Sex Scandal?

Donald Trump announces the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, right, to join the U.S. Supreme Court (New York Times photo by Doug Mills on July 9, 2018).

Donald Trump announces the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, right, to join the U.S. Supreme Court (New York Times photo by Doug Mills on July 9, 2018).

washington post logoWashington Post, 2020 candidates demand Kavanaugh impeachment after new allegation, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, Sept. 16, 2019 (print ed.). Democrats called for a new investigation of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh in response to a New York Times article that revealed a new allegation of sexual assault.

Democrats called Sunday for a new investigation of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh in response to a New York Times piece that said Kavanaugh was seen sexually harassing a female student while at Yale.

Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former housing and urban development secretary Julián Castro, Democratic presidential candidates, pushed for Kavanaugh’s impeachment.

Harris and Warren had voted against Kavanaugh’s confirmation, a process during which Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct while they were high school students in the 1980s.

supreme court graphicKavanaugh vehemently denied the claim during what became a bitter confirmation process, which catapulted the debate over the sexual assault allegations into daily conversation amid the #MeToo movement. It also prompted a backlash among those who felt the Supreme Court nominee was being unfairly judged for something that may or may not have happened over three decades ago.

Those debates were reignited this weekend with the Saturday evening publication of the Times piece. “He was put on the Court through a sham process and his place on the Court is an insult to the pursuit of truth and justice,” Harris said in a tweet. “He must be impeached.”

President Trump, meanwhile, accused the “LameStream Media” and Democrats of working together to scare Kavanaugh “into turning Liberal.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Senator told FBI last fall of new information about Kavanaugh, Seung Min Kim, Sept. 16, 2019. Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) wrote to the FBI director that “several individuals” wanted to share information but had had “difficulty reaching anyone who will collect their information.”

NBC News, Nadler: Judiciary too busy impeaching Trump to focus on Kavanaugh claims, Alex Moe and Rebecca Shabad, Sept. 16, 2019.  Sen. Chri House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., responded to calls for an investigation into Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in light of new sexual misconduct allegations by saying that the panel has "our hands full with impeaching the president."

In a radio interview with WNYC on Monday, Nadler was asked if he’d be concerned with Democrats thinking he’s not taking the Kavanaugh allegations seriously enough. He said his committee has too much on its plate.

"We have our hands full with impeaching the president right now and that’s going to take up our limited resources and time for a while," Nadler said.

Trump Watch

daily beast logoDaily Beast, John Bolton Already Talking With Book Agents: ‘He Has a Lot to Dish,’ Maxwell Tani and Asawin Suebsaengm, Sept. 16, 2019. He penned one after leaving the Bush administration. Now, the president’s former top national-security aide is exploring another book.

Following his acrimonious departure from the White House, former National Security Adviser John Bolton has insisted that he will have his “say in due course.”

john bolton full cropped CustomIt hasn’t yet been a full week, but it appears he’s found a vehicle for clearing the air. According to two people with knowledge of the situation, Bolton has already expressed interest in writing a book on his time in the Trump administration, and has been in contact in recent days with literary agents interested in making that happen.

“He has a lot to dish,” one of the sources said, adding it was not clear if Bolton had settled on an agency yet.

Reached by The Daily Beast on Monday afternoon, Bolton only replied, “No comment” when asked about discussions with book agents and his potential project. But if he goes down this path, he’d be merely the latest former Trump official to try and turn their noisy exit into bestselling gold.

During the Trump presidency, there have been several occasions in which a former loyalist has published a “tell-all” book or memoir that infuriated the president and his senior staff.

Last year, Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former Trump friend and Apprentice candidate who took a senior post in his administration, revealed she had surreptitiously recorded audio of the president and blasted him as a mentally unstable racist in her book UNHINGED. Trump’s attorney Charles Harder responded by sending the publisher Simon & Schuster a letter threatening them “should you proceed with publishing and selling the Book,” and that such “claims would include, among others, tortious interference with the Agreement, and inducement of Ms. Manigault-Newman to breach [her NDA].” (For all the legal bluster from Team Trump, the threat proved empty.)

Earlier this year, former Trump adviser Cliff Sims came out with a different tell-all, titled Team of Vipers, about life and tumult inside Trumpworld. The book enraged the president, and led to his presidential campaign filing an arbitration claim against Sims, claiming he violated an NDA. This led to the former White House official suing Trump, alleging the president was trying to “silence” former staffers and was trampling on his First Amendment rights.

It is unclear if Bolton has also signed an NDA, though it seems likely he has owing to the position he held and the requirements placed on other White House officials.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao faces investigation over ethics allegations, Hannah Knowles, Sept. 16, 2016. The House Oversight and Reform elaine chao oCommittee on Monday sought documents from Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, right, as it investigates what it calls “troubling questions” into whether the Trump appointee misused her position for personal and family benefit.

Noting that federal employees are forbidden from using public office for friends’ or relatives’ “private gain,” the committee’s letter to Chao cites media reports that allege the secretary leveraged her position to help Foremost Group — a New York-based shipping company that carries goods between the United States and China and that is owned by her father and sisters — gain “influence and status” with the Chinese government that has given the firm millions in loans.

washington post logoWashington Post, Schiff gives acting intelligence chief Tuesday deadline to turn over whistleblower complaint, Ellen Nakashima, Sept. 16, 2016. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said the standoff raises concerns that the White House or other executive branch officials are trying to prevent Joseph Maguire from complying in order to cover up serious misconduct.

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Republicans Don’t Believe in Democracy, Paul Krugman, right, Sept. 16, 2019. Do Democrats understand what they’re facing? Elections are supposed to paul krugmanhave consequences, conveying power to the winners. But when Democrats win an election, the modern G.O.P. does its best to negate the results, flouting norms and, if necessary, the law to carry on as if the voters hadn’t spoken.

Thus, in 2016 the voters of North Carolina chose a Democrat to govern the state; the immediate G.O.P. response was to try to strip away most of the governor’s power. Last year Democrats won a majority of the votes for the state legislature, too, although Republicans retained control thanks to extreme gerrymandering. But they no longer have a veto-proof majority — hence last week’s power grab.

Similarly, last year America’s voters chose to give Democrats control of the House of Representatives. This still leaves Democrats without the ability to pass legislation, since Republicans control the Senate and the White House. But the House, by law, has important additional powers — the right to be informed of what’s going on in the executive branch, such as complaints by whistle-blowers, and the right to issue subpoenas demanding information relevant to governing.

The Trump administration, however, has evidently decided that none of that matters. So what if Democrats demand information they’re legally entitled to? So what if they issue subpoenas? After all, law enforcement has to be carried out by the Justice Department — and under William Barr, Justice has effectively become just another arm of the G.O.P.

What can Democrats do about this situation? They need to win elections, but all too often that won’t be sufficient, because they confront a Republican Party that at a basic level doesn’t accept their right to govern, never mind what the voters say. So winning isn’t enough; they also have to be prepared for that confrontation.

And surely the first step is recognizing the problem exists. Which brings me to the Democratic presidential primary race.

The big problem with Joe Biden, still the front-runner, is that he obviously doesn’t get it. He’s made it clear on many occasions that he considers Trump an aberration and believes that he could have productive, amicable relations with Republicans once Trump is gone.

U.S. Opioid Scourge

washington post logoDEA Seal CustomWashington Post, Investigation: Inside the drug industry’s plan to defeat DEA: Documents offer clues to a mystery in the opioid epidemic, Scott Higham, Sari Horwitz, Steven Rich and Meryl Kornfield​, Sept. 16, 2019 (print ed.). How did drug companies weaken the government’s most powerful enforcement weapon at the height of the crisis? Newly unsealed documents show the industry employed a number of tactics, including enlisting members of Congress to limit enforcement powers.

washington post logoWashington Post, OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma files for bankruptcy, Christopher Rowland, Sept. 16, 2019 (print ed.). The move by the purdue pharma logodrugmaker — which is accused of triggering the nation’s epidemic of opioid addiction — is part of a tentative legal settlement that sets the stage for battles over the Sackler family fortune.

U.S. Jobs, Economy

washington post logoWashington Post, Nearly 50,000 GM employees go on strike after union talks break down, Deanna Paul and Alex Horton, Sept. 16, 2019 (print ed.). The United Auto Workers union and the automaker are divided on several key issues. The UAW said it is aiming to secure fair wages, affordable health care and better job security, among other things.

Daily Epstein Scandal Update

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Everything Epstein, Jonelle Jones, Jessica Kelly, Gabriella Novello, Sept. 16, 2019. A daily snapshot of the stories we find interesting, but WhoWhatWhy does jeffrey epstein hands handsnot necessarily endorse the perspectives expressed in the articles we share. Here’s today’s lineup:

Another day, another elite institution is caught up in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. This time it’s Stanford University. The institution admitted to receiving and spending a $50,000 donation from Epstein,  right, on its physics department –– two years before his arrest for soliciting prostitution from underage girls. Epstein’s fruitful giving also reached the Santa Fe Institute (SFI). Located just a one-hour drive from his infamous New Mexico ranch, he donated a total of $275,000 to SFI throughout the years.

Meanwhile, a harrowing new tale has emerged of one victim’s attempt to escape her torture from the so-called “Pedophile Island,” which she talks about in her interview. And more was revealed about private flights Epstein took, the underage girls he travelled with, and where they were possibly headed.

Other stories:

Prosecutors must probe Jeffrey Epstein's trafficking network, says British victim Sarah Ransome in first interview — Telegraph
Before arrest, Jeffrey Epstein was seen with girls exiting his jet — New York Times (paywall)
Revealed: Jeffrey Epstein's bizarre world of guns kept next to his bed, a bedroom close to freezing and a diet of lettuce leaves at his $62m mansion –– Daily Mail
Jeffrey Epstein Might Have Taken Girls as Young as 11 to His Private Island Last Year –– Vice News

Institutions tangled in Epstein’s web...

A Harvard professor doubles down: If you take Epstein’s money, do it in secret — New York Times (paywall)
Stanford reveals it received $50,000 gift from Jeffrey Epstein — Mercury News
A minefield at universities: Whose money to take? — Boston Globe (paywall)
Jeffrey Epstein gave $275,000 to Santa Fe Institute –– Albuquerque Journal
Jeffrey Epstein told a journalist he funded Sophia the robot, who he claimed would have 'more empathy than a woman' — Business Insider
Famed computer scientist Richard Stallman described Epstein victims as 'entirely willing' –– Vice News
Yet another journalist who accepted favors from Jeffrey Epstein –– Daily Beast
Moulton gives away cash from donor linked to Epstein — Boston Globe (paywall)
A meeting with Jeffrey Epstein led to a gift — and, now, regrets — Boston Globe (paywall)

Sept. 15

Global News

saudi oil fire yemen drone social media via reuters 9 14 19

washington post logoWashington Post, Yemen rebels claim drone attack on Saudi oil sites, Kareem Fahim, Sept. 15, 2019 (print ed.). The Houthis, who have been fighting a Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen for years, said they carried out the attacks, which sparked explosions and huge fires (shown above in a photo via social media and Reuters).

A rebel group in Yemen said on Saturday that it had carried out an early-morning attack on major oil installations in Saudi Arabia that sparked explosions and huge fires. Saudi Arabia said facilities belonging to the state oil giant Aramco had been attacked by drones but did not immediately say who was responsible.

The Iran-allied rebel group, commonly known as the Houthis, said 10 drones had targeted facilities in the provinces of Khurais, the site of a large oil field, and Abqaiq, images/gcc-nations-map-zero-hedge.jpgin eastern Saudi Arabia, where Aramco maintains its largest oil-processing facility. Khurais is more than 500 miles from rebel-held territory in Yemen, highlighting the Houthis’ ability to carry out increasingly sophisticated attacks, deep inside Saudi territory.

The attacks, and the Houthi claim of responsibility, added to the hair-trigger tensions in the Persian Gulf amid a worsening standoff between Iran, its gulf neighbors and the United States.

Supreme Court: Perjury / Sex Scandal?

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Brett Kavanaugh Fit In With the Privileged Kids. She Did Not, Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly (reporters with the Times shown at left and right, respectively, in a Loren Klaris photo and authors of the forthcoming book, The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation), Sept. 15, 2019 (print ed.). Deborah Ramirez’s Yale experience says much Robin Pogrebin, left, and Kate Kelly (Lorin Klaris photo).about the college’s efforts to diversify its student body in the 1980s.

Deborah Ramirez (shown below at left as a Yale student) had the grades to go to Yale in 1983. But she wasn’t prepared for what she’d find there.

A top student in southwestern Connecticut, she studied hard but socialized little. She was raised Catholic and had a sheltered upbringing. In the summers, she worked at Carvel dishing ice cream, commuting in the $500 car she’d bought with babysitting earnings.

deborah ramirez yale croppedAt Yale, she encountered students from more worldly backgrounds. Many were affluent and had attended elite private high schools. They also had experience with drinking and sexual behavior that Ms. Ramirez — who had not intended to be intimate with a man until her wedding night — lacked.

During the winter of her freshman year, a drunken dormitory party unsettled her deeply. She and some classmates had been drinking heavily when, she says, a freshman named Brett Kavanaugh pulled down his pants and thrust his penis at her, prompting her to swat it away and inadvertently touch it. Some of the onlookers, who had been passing around a fake penis earlier in the evening, laughed.

To Ms. Ramirez it wasn’t funny at all. It was the nadir of her first year, when she often felt insufficiently rich, experienced or savvy to mingle with her more privileged classmates.

Mr. Kavanaugh, now a justice on the Supreme Court, has adamantly denied her claims. Those claims became a flash point during his confirmation process last year, when he was also fighting other sexual misconduct allegations from Christine Blasey Ford, who had attended a Washington-area high school near his.

During his Senate testimony, Mr. Kavanaugh said that if the incident Ms. Ramirez described had occurred, it would have been “the talk of campus.” Our reporting suggests that it was.

At least seven people, including Ms. Ramirez’s mother, heard about the Yale incident long before Mr. Kavanaugh was a federal judge. Two of those people were classmates who learned of it just days after the party occurred, suggesting that it was discussed among students at the time.

We also uncovered a previously unreported story about Mr. Kavanaugh in his freshman year that echoes Ms. Ramirez’s allegation. A classmate, Max Stier, saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student. Mr. Stier, who runs a nonprofit organization in Washington, notified senators and the F.B.I. about this account, but the F.B.I. did not investigate and Mr. Stier has declined to discuss it publicly. (We corroborated the story with two officials who have communicated with Mr. Stier.)

Other recent books on Kavanaugh:

U.S. 2020 Politics

jennifer rubin new headshotwashington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Let’s talk about character and capability, Jennifer Rubin, Sept. 15, 2019. My favorite part of the debate Thursday came at the end (and that’s not the only reason it was my favorite part) when the candidates stopped describing policy ideas that will never see the light of day and arguing over technocratic details most voters don’t fully understand. The question for every candidate was: "What’s the most significant professional setback you’ve had to face? How did you recover from it? And what did you learn from it?"

That was the most revealing question of the evening and got much closer to the sort of question that will help voters decide whom they will select. Voters honestly don’t pick presidential candidates on the details of policy. They do, however, pick someone they trust, who understands their problems and who conveys empathy. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), in her weekly news conference, said the question for voters is “who among them will connect with the American people, because the election is always about the future, and what that future means to America’s working families.”

washington post logomark sanford oWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s three GOP challengers criticize party for canceling primaries, Mark Sanford, Joe Walsh and Bill Weld, Sept. 15, 2019 (print ed.). “Our next nominee must compete in the marketplace of ideas, values and leadership,” Mark Sanford, right, Joe Walsh and Bill Weld wrote in an op-ed for The Post.

Trump Scandal Watch

Palmer Report, Opinion: Now we know why Donald Trump ousted Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Bill Palmer, Sept. 15, 2019. About six weeks ago, Donald Trump announced out of nowhere that he was ousting his own handpicked Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats (shown at right with the president in file photos). Shortly thereafter, Coats’ Deputy, Sue Gordon, also headed for the exits. Trump made a point of trying to install one of his loyalists in the position, and when that failed, he simply left it empty. The whole thing made very little sense at the time. Suddenly it’s a very different story.

djt dan coats CustomHouse Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, below right, has subpoenaed a whistleblower complaint, which the Department of Justice has buried, which apparently exposes how Donald Trump or someone close to him leaked key classified information. Schiff is treating this like it’s a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to taking Trump down. What’s fascinating is that Schiff is subpoenaing the report from the Director of National Intelligence – bill palmer report logo headerand of course we con’t currently have one of those.

The subpoena has been sent to the Acting Director of National Intelligence, which means it’s not going to be voluntarily complied with, and Schiff will have to go to court and have a judge order the Acting DNI to cough it up. If a comparatively forthright person like Dan Coats or Sue Gordon were still DNI, we can imagine this subpoena might have played out differently.

adam schiff squareIt helps explain – at least in general terms – why Donald Trump went from essentially ignoring the Director of National Intelligence position for the first two and a half years of his presidency, to suddenly treating it like it was a matter of crucial importance. He and Bill Barr must have known that House Democrats would eventually get word of this whistleblower complaint, and try to get it from the DNI. So now we have no DNI. Funny how that works.

Global News: Israeli Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The liberal world order helped Israel flourish. Now, the state is pushing back, Robert Kagan, Sept. 15, 2019 (print ed.).  The rise of nationalism around the globe may be reflected in the outcome of Israeli elections on Tuesday. n the growing confrontation between the liberal world order and its anti-liberal nationalist and authoritarian opponents, which side does Israel want to be on? The question would have been absurd even a decade ago, when Israelis still regarded themselves as members in good standing in the liberal world. But in recent years, Israeli foreign policy has been trending in a decidedly anti-liberal direction.

Israel FlagSince about the middle of 2015, the Israeli government has embraced Hungary’s avowedly “illiberal” prime minister, Viktor Orban; worked to forge close ties with Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, despite its limitations on civil liberties and legislation outlawing public discussion of Poland’s role in the Holocaust; warmly embraced Brazil’s right-wing nationalist leader, Jair Bolsonaro; provided a state visit for President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, who once likened himself to Adolf Hitler; worked consistently to woo Russian President Vladimir Putin; offered a 25-year contract to a Chinese state-owned firm to manage the port of Haifa, which has often hosted the U.S. 6th Fleet; and provided consistently strong support for the military dictatorship in Egypt, including lobbying the U.S. Congress on its behalf, as well as supporting the authoritarian sheikhdoms of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, notably, stood up for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman following the October 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and Post contributing columnist.)

More On Supreme Court

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just gave away something huge about Brett Kavanaugh, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 15, 2019. Earlier this year, Palmer Report pointed out bill palmerthat Donald Trump had a potentially serious Brett Kavanaugh problem, and a surprising one at that. Despite being a far-right extremist, Kavanaugh was voting with the liberals on some fairly major Supreme Court cases. It felt like he was begging the Democrats in Congress not to impeach him, or have him criminally prosecuted for perjury, once Trump is gone.

bill palmer report logo headerYesterday, the New York Times published a lengthy expose full of damning evidence that Brett Kavanaugh is every bit the serial sexual assaulter that his accusers have claimed. This morning, Donald Trump decided to weigh in on Twitter. At first he urged Kavanaugh to take legal action against his accusers. Then Trump illegally instructed the Department of Justice to target the accusers. But then Trump got to the part of his meltdown that truly mattered.

Here’s what Trump said that gives away the whole thing: “Can’t let Brett Kavanaugh give Radical Left Democrat (Liberal Plus) Opinions based on threats of Impeaching him.” In other words, we weren’t just imagining it. Kavanaugh really has been voting with the liberals on some cases, as a way of trying to convince the Democrats to leave him be. And Trump is not too subtly threatening Kavanaugh when it comes to his upcoming votes. It’s not difficult to parse why.

brett kavanaugh mouth open angry testimonyHouse Democrats are currently fighting numerous legal battles over the testimony and evidence involved in Donald Trump’s impeachment. Some of these cases will likely reach the Supreme Court. Donald Trump appears worried that once this happens, Brett Kavanaugh could vote against him, in the hope of saving himself.

We have no idea what Brett Kavanaugh, right, will end up doing. He could vote in Donald Trump’s favor, in the hope that Trump pardons him on perjury and any other charges, thus keeping him out of prison – but in such case Kavanaugh would surely have to resign. Or Kavanaugh could vote against Trump in the feeble hope that it’ll motivate Democrats to leave him alone – but if this backfires, Kavanaugh goes to prison. In any case, Trump is right to be worried. Kavanaugh is compromised in every way possible, and there’s no telling what he’ll do to try to mitigate his own downfall.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Kavanaugh revelations: Why the Supreme Court is broken, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Sept. 15, 2019. We focus, rightly, on the damage ej dionne w open neckPresident Trump is doing to our institutions. But the wreckage goes beyond Trump and involves the other two branches of government as well. The right wing’s determination to control the Supreme Court is undermining its legitimacy as well as confidence in the U.S. Senate’s approach to confirming nominees.

The costs of this approach were underscored this weekend by a New York Times report that offers new corroboration for charges by Deborah Ramirez that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when both were undergraduates at Yale. In denying the charge, Kavanaugh told the Senate that had it been true, the incident would have been “the talk of the campus.” Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly — drawing on their new book, The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation — write tellingly: “Our reporting suggests that it was.”

robin progrebin kate kelly kavanaugh coverHere is the institutionally devastating part of their story: Ramirez’s legal team gave the FBI a list of “at least 25 individuals who may have had corroborating evidence” of her story. The bureau, the authors report, “interviewed none of them.” Nor did the FBI look into Stier’s account.

Now let’s take a step back: If Senate Republicans had declared Kavanaugh’s behavior as a high school and college student off-limits, they would have risked a firestorm, but at least they would have been honest about what they were up to.

However, they could not take this route once they agreed to hear psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford’s four hours of testimony about her charge that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her in the early 1980s when both were in high school. Ford’s testimony was so credible — Republican after Republican praised her — that the GOP was forced to agree to a brief FBI investigation.

But it was such a sharply constrained investigation that neither Kavanaugh nor Ford was questioned, and the other allegations against Kavanaugh were ignored. “The process was a sham,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a member of the Judiciary Committee who is seeking her party’s presidential nomination, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” She was not being hyperbolic. In the wake of the new revelations, three other Democratic contenders quickly called for Kavanaugh’s impeachment.

mitch mcconnell elevator getty croppedThis leaves it to journalists to keep exploring questions the Senate refused to settle. And it leaves the court and the country in a terrible place.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), right, had already signaled that court packing took priority over due process when he refused even to hold a hearing on President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the court in 2016. This opened the way for Trump to name two conservatives to the court, Kavanaugh and Justice Neil M. Gorsuch for the seat Garland was denied.

Sept. 14

U.S. Supreme Court  / #MeToo

Palmer Report, Opinion: The Brett Kavanaugh scandal just exploded, Bill Palmer, Sept. 14, 2019. Donald Trump and the Republican Senate knew darn well that they were putting a serial sexual assaulter and unstable violent monster on the Supreme Court when they confirmed Brett Kavanaugh. They didn’t care, because it was their only opportunity to get a far-right conservative extremist on the high court and please their billionaire owners. Predictably, the Kavanaugh scandal has – finally – blown up in their faces.

bill palmer report logo headerThe New York Times published a lengthy new investigative article today which digs into Brett Kavanaugh’s history, and guess what? He’s every bit the serial sexual assaulter we all knew he was. The article helps to confirm some of the accusations against him, and even references at least one additional victim who didn’t previously come forward. You may be wondering if it’s too late for this to matter.

Here’s the thing. Senate Democrats can easily refer Brett Kavanaugh to the Department of Justice for felony perjury, which will result in him being indicted, arrested, and possibly in a position where he has to resign from the Supreme Court as part of his plea deal. But they can’t do it until Donald Trump is gone from office, and his corrupt Attorney General Bill Barr is gone along with him. Even if the Democrats were able to oust Kavanaugh right now, Trump would just replace him with another far-right monster.

The takedown of Brett Kavanaugh will – disturbingly for America and unfairly for his victims – have to wait for another day. But in the meantime, some of the Republican Senators who made a point of supporting Brett Kavanaugh are up for reelection in 2020. susan collins oFor instance, Susan Collins’ (shown at right) odds of reelection probably just dropped in half today. The Democrats will hang Kava-rapist around her proverbial neck.

Other GOP Senators running in 2020 will also take a hit for having voted for the violent whack job. You can read the full New York Times expose here (Brett Kavanaugh Fit In With the Privileged Kids. She Did Not).

ny times logoNew York Times, Book Review: ‘The Education of Brett Kavanaugh’ Takes a Hard Look at the Supreme Court Justice and His Accusers, Hanna Rosin, Sept. 14, 2019. Nearly a year after the fateful Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh have become martyrs in separate and hostile galaxies — one for #believeallwomen and the other for those who believe Democrats will use any means necessary to take down good and honorable men. So there is a weird satisfaction in rewinding the story more than 30 years, back to the moment when the two lived in suburban Maryland and coexisted as part of a small social circle of teenagers who hung out at country club pools all summer and whose pressing concern was which parents were out of town for the weekend.

robin progrebin kate kelly kavanaugh coverThe Education of Brett Kavanaugh, by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, two experienced New York Times reporters who helped cover the confirmation hearings, comes with an expectation of bombshells (the galleys are stamped “EMBARGOED” on every page). And the authors do in fact turn up a few new revelations about the assault accusations against Kavanaugh. But their real work is to smooth out the main story, create a fuller picture of Kavanaugh himself, place him in relation to Blasey Ford and put the minor players in motion, so that the confirmation showdown has a kind of cinematic inevitability.

The book places Blasey Ford in the summer of 1982, when, she later said, Kavanaugh tried to rape her. A rising junior at Holton-Arms school, a tall cheerleader with feathered bangs and saddle shoes, she spent her days with friends at the Columbia Country Club pool exchanging the early ’80s equivalent of the eye-roll emoji (“mange-moi” and “Kill Dick”). Kavanaugh, as we know from his infamously meticulous calendar, spent his time mowing lawns and figuring out which of his Georgetown Prep friends was “popping,” the technical term for holding a party when your parents were out of town.

For most of the book the writers take an omniscient Woodwardian tone, staying careful and balanced and not cluttering up every sentence with newspaper-style sourcing. But I couldn’t help reading a lot into the title. On my own copy I idly scribbled “Mis” before the “Education,” since it’s clear that academic enrichment is not what the authors have in mind. In high school and college and even a little into law school, the main thing they portray Kavanaugh learning is how to expertly blend into the background hum of blasé misogyny and clubby competitive drinking.

The picture that emerges of Kavanaugh as an actual student is admirable if indistinct. He works hard, graduates near or at the top in his class. A college friend recalls him having a neat stack of books and papers he would move through like a machine. A couple of people remember him as special but just as many remember him as “straightforward and uncomplicated” — or, as some college friends put it, “ham on white.” My favorite observation about his college years is: “Along with playing and writing about sports, Kavanaugh enjoyed watching them in his downtime.” Really, that could be anyone. In fact, when he got his big break as a clerk for Judge Alex Kozinski, the law professor who recommended him described him as a “good student” and not a “great one,” but added, “I got to know his character from basketball.”

Brave JFK Physician Dies

robert mcclelland flickr

Dallas Morning News, Robert McClelland, surgeon who tried to save JFK and believed there was a second shooter, dies at 89, Marc Ramirez, Sept. 14, 2019. A skilled surgeon at UT Southwestern whose true passion was teaching, he's among the luminaries whose images grace Parkland's walls today.

Inextricably linked to the death of John F. Kennedy, surgeon Robert McClelland (shown above delivering a lecture) dutifully preserved the blood-soaked white dress shirt he wore the day he tried to save the president's life in 1963.

For the rest of his life, the retired professor emeritus of UT Southwestern's medical school also clung staunchly to a contentious opinion forged firsthand: that one of the shots that had struck Kennedy had come from the front, which would require the existence of a second gunman.

Robert Nelson McClelland, the lone dissenting voice among the operating-room doctors who tried to save the president at Parkland Memorial Hospital, died Tuesday of renal failure. He was 89.

A celebration of his life is set for 1 p.m. Monday at Highland Park United Methodist Church's Cox Chapel, 3300 Mockingbird Lane in Dallas.

A skilled surgeon whose true passion was teaching, he's among the luminaries whose images grace Parkland's walls today. In a note to campus colleagues, Dr. William Turner of the campus's department of surgery, called McClelland "the titan among those giants," saying the institution had "lost one of its heroes."

An insatiably curious reader who doted on his seven grandchildren, McClelland was a driving force in surgical education at UT Southwestern for decades and oversaw the launch of its liver surgery program.

He was modest and unassuming despite his accomplishments and role in history. But he also had an irreverent side, allowing his grandkids as young children to watch the cheeky television show South Park with him, to the occasional dismay of their parents.

"I would get angry," said daughter Alison McClelland of Dallas. "His defense was that it was philosophical."

Robert McClelland was born Nov. 20, 1929, in Gilmer, the same East Texas town that spawned musicians Don Henley and Johnny Mathis. His intellect and curiosity were evident early, his passion for discovery stoked by a chemistry set he got at age 11.

He graduated in 1947 as valedictorian of Gilmer High and, as the grandson of a physician, was further inspired to pursue medicine through the mentorship of two local physicians.

After studying at the University of Texas in Austin, he earned his doctorate at the school's medical branch in Galveston in 1954. He spent two years in Germany as a general medical officer for the U.S. Air Force, then returned to Texas to begin residency at what is now UT Southwestern.

It was there that he would meet Connie Logan, a head nurse at Parkland whom he'd noticed several times at church and finally got the nerve to ask out. They married in May 1958 and settled in Highland Park, where they raised three children.

Dr. Robert McClelland joined the faculty at UT Southwestern and Parkland in 1962 and spent his entire career there. He completed his residency in 1962 and joined the faculty at UT Southwestern and Parkland, where the following year, that momentous November day became forever tied to his life story.

He was 34 then, screening a film on hernia repair for hospital interns and residents, when a colleague burst in and asked him to help operate on the president of the United States.

jfk parade route dealey plazaAs Kennedy lay wounded on the operating table in Trauma Room One, McClelland assisted as surgeons Malcolm Perry and Charles Baxter performed a tracheotomy in an attempt to save the president. For 10 minutes, he stood above Kennedy's head and stared at "that terrible hole," as he put it, tackling his duty as instinctively as a fireman slides down a pole.

But from his vantage point, one shot seemed to have come from the front — which would mean Lee Harvey Oswald, whom McClelland would be called to operate on just two days later, wasn't the only gunman.

"The shot that killed [Kennedy] probably was from the back, but I have to honestly say what I think," McLelland told The News.

The other four attending physicians would eventually pen a joint article in The Journal of the American Medical Association concluding there were two shots, from the back and above. The journal's editor noted McClelland's differing opinion, emphasizing, however, that he wasn't an "expert in forensic pathology and ballistic wounds."

McClelland never wavered, and a scene from Oliver Stone's JFK depicts him offering his dissenting opinion in court, which McClelland said never actually happened. However, he did once act as a juror in a 2013 mock trial giving Oswald his chance in the courtroom. (The trial ended in a hung jury, with the vote 9-3 in favor of a guilty verdict.)

McClelland would go on to spend his entire career at UT Southwestern, where generations of students and residents knew him as "Dr. Mac" and called him for years afterward seeking advice about difficult cases.

Trump Scandal Watch

CNN via Real Clear Politics, Eric Holder: Putting Trump On Trial After Presidency Would Be A "Cost To The Nation," Ian Schwartz, Sept. 14, 2019.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN: Do you think Congress should proceed? That’s a different matter than whether they could, whether they have an inquiry. Is impeachment a wise thing to do at this point, and would they be shirking their responsibilities if they didn’t proceed?

FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER: I think that they should proceed with an impeachment inquiry, an impeachment investigation. That doesn’t necessarily commit you to actually impeaching the president. I think that’s what people have to understand. I think if you go through a whole proceeding and then make the determination that we’re not going to impeach him, you’re perhaps going to censure him. There’s going to be a sense in the House of Representatives, in that sense that the House of Representatives to lay out all of the things that you have found during the inquiry and not send it to the Senate where I think the Republicans are likely to acquit him – deny him that, but actually lay out to the American people – have witnesses in front of the American people. I want to see Don McGahn testify. I want to see Sessions testify.

AXELROD: Do you think he will, by the way?

I mean look, every administration has its differences with Congress over executive privilege. Your administration and the one that I served in did as well, but they’ve taken a very tough line on this issue of executive privilege.

Do you think that ultimately the courts will compel these people to testify?

HOLDER: Yes. I don’t think that the executive privilege that might have existed still is in existence. The fact that McGahn actually spoke to Bob Mueller waives the privilege that might have otherwise existed and as a result I think as a result will have to go through a court process. But I think ultimately he and others will have to testify.

AXELROD: If there is no impeachment, do you believe that he subject to prosecution after he leaves office?

HOLDER: Well I don’t think there’s any question about that. We already have an indictment in the Southern District of New York where Michael Cohen.

AXELROD: relative to the payoffs

HOLDER: Relative to the payoffs. Michael Cohen’s already in jail regards to his role there. Individual one is the president. And it would seem to me that the next attorney general, the next president is going to have to make a determination.

AXELROD: You know, that’s an interesting question. You came here at -- in the post Watergate period, President Ford, made a decision to pardon President Nixon because he thought it would be bad for the country to go through a trial of a former president. Would there be a cost to that?

HOLDER: Yes, I think there is a potential cost to the nation by putting on trial the former president, and that ought to at least be a part of the calculus that goes into the determination that has to be made by the next attorney general.

I think we all should understand what a trial [of a] former president would do the nation. I think that saved the determination that Gerald Ford made with –


AXELROD: Cost him -- it may have cost him his election in 1976.

HOLDER: Yes, it might have, but you know I think looking back, I tend to think that that was probably the right thing to do.

Global News

washington post logoBenjamin Netanyahu smile TwitterWashington Post, In Israeli election, a nation votes, but one man could decide it all, Ruth Eglash and James McAuley, Sept. 13, 2019. Former defense minister Avigdor Liberman and his political party are predicted to win enough parliamentary seats that he could determine whether Benjamin Netanyahu, right, will continue his historic tenure as prime minister.

The Jerusalem Post, Russia prevents Israeli airstrikes in Syria, Yasser Okbi, Sept. 14, 2019. The controversy between Israel and Russia regarding airstrikes of Iranian targets in Syria and Iraq continues, despite the meeting Between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin. This was reported on Friday by Independent Arabia.

According to the report, Moscow has prevented three Israeli airstrikes on three Syrian outposts recently, and even threatened that any jets attempting such a thing would be shot down, either by Russian jets or by the S400 Anti-aircraft missiles. The source cited in the report claims a similar situation has happened twice, and that during August, Moscow stopped an airstrike on a Syrian outpost in Qasioun, where a S300 missile battery is placed.

Russian FlagMoreover, it was claimed that another airstrike planned for a week later on a Syrian outpost in the Qunaitra area and a third airstrike on a sensitive area in Latakia. This development is what pushed Netanyahu to have his quick visit in Russia to try and convince Putin to ignore Israel's attacks in Syria. According to the Russian source, Putin let Netanyahu know that his country will not allow any damage to be done to the Syrian regime's army, or any of the weapons being given to it, because giving such a permission would be seen as giving Israel leniency – something that contradicts Russia's goal of assisting the Syrian regime.

The British-Arabic news outlet reported that Netanyahu tried to present a positive message of the cooperation between the two countries and even tried to use it for his election campaign, but it didn't work. Israeli sources who have spoken with the newspaper called the meeting "a failure". They claimed that everything regarding the air strikes in Iraq and Syria, since the fact they were in the public eye embarrassed the Russians terribly in the eyes of their allies in the area – Syria, Iran and the militias that support them.

The Russian source said: "Putin has expressed his dissatisfaction from Israel's latest actions in Lebanon" and even emphasized to Netanyahu that he "Rejects the aggression towards Lebanon's sovereignty," something which has never been heard from him.

The British-Arabic website adds that more Israeli sources have said similar things on the subject and the visit was meant to reduce the severity of the controversy between the countries into a tactical one, rather than an ideological one.

U.S. 2020 Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Inspires California Lawmakers to Go on Offense, Tim Arango, Thomas Fuller and Jose A. Del Real, Sept. 14, 2019. California Democrats have been energized by a wave of anti-Trump sentiment to enact a liberal agenda that counters President Trump’s policies. When President Trump flies into San Francisco next week for his first visit to the Bay Area as president he will set down in a state that has never fully welcomed him.

Harmeet K. Dhillon, a member of the Republican National Committee and a host of a fund-raising luncheon on Tuesday where seats for a couple at the president’s table go for $100,000, likened his visit to a trip “behind enemy lines.”

Behind those lines, Mr. Trump’s detractors have been remarkably active, as Democrats have been energized by anger against the president to enact a sweeping liberal agenda that in almost every way offers a counternarrative to the deregulation, anti-immigrant stance and conservative policies of the Trump administration.

UK To Keep Assange Jailed

julian assange indicter image

The Guardian, Julian Assange to remain in jail pending extradition to US, PA Media, Sept. 14, 2019. WikiLeaks founder’s custody will be extended after current prison terms comes to end. Julian Assange (shown above in a photo by The Indicter Magazine) will stay in prison after the custody period on his current jail term ends because of his “history of absconding.”

As home secretary, Sajid Javid signed an order in June allowing Assange’s extradition to the US over hacking allegations. A 50-week jail term was imposed in the UK after he had jumped previous bail by going into hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

The WikiLeaks founder would have been released from HMP Belmarsh on 22 September, Westminster magistrates court heard on Friday, but he was told he would be kept in jail because of “substantial grounds” for believing he would abscond again.

united kingdom flagAssange, 48, who is an Australian citizen, appeared by video-link wearing a loose-fitting T-shirt.

District judge Vanessa Baraitser told him: “You have been produced today because your sentence of imprisonment is about to come to an end. When that happens your remand status changes from a serving prisoner to a person facing extradition.

“Therefore I have given your lawyer an opportunity to make an application for bail on your behalf and she has declined to do so, perhaps not surprisingly in light of your history of absconding in these proceedings.

“In my view I have substantial ground for believing if I release you, you will abscond again.”

Assange was asked if he understood what was happening. He replied: “Not really. I’m sure the lawyers will explain it.”

Another administrative hearing will take place on 11 October and a case management hearing on 21 October, the court heard. The final extradition hearing is expected in February.

Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted in connection with sexual offence allegations.He spent nearly seven years living in the building until police dragged him out in April after Ecuador revoked his political asylum.

Culture / Lead Poisoning

notre dame paris

ny times logoNew York Times, Notre-Dame’s Toxic Fallout, When the cathedral’s roof and spire burned in April, Elian Peltier, James Glanz, Weiyi Cai and Jeremy White, Sept. 14, 2019. 460 tons of lead were engulfed in flames, scattering dangerous dust onto Paris. The authorities have refused to fully disclose the results of testing for lead contamination, while issuing statements meant to play down the risks. The April fire (shown above) that engulfed Notre-Dame contaminated the cathedral site with clouds of toxic dust and exposed nearby schools, day care centers, public parks and other parts of Paris to alarming levels of lead.

The lead came from the cathedral’s incinerated roof and spire, and it created a public health threat that stirred increasing anxiety in Paris throughout the summer.

Five months after the fire, the French authorities have refused to fully disclose the results of their testing for lead contamination, sowing public confusion, while issuing reassuring statements intended to play down the risks.

Their delays and denials have opened the authorities to accusations that they put reconstruction of the cathedral — which President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to complete in five years — ahead of the health of thousands of people.

A comprehensive investigation by The New York Times has helped fill out an emerging picture of a failed official response. It found significant lapses by the French authorities in alerting the public to health risks, even as their understanding of the danger became clearer. The April 15 blaze nearly destroyed the 850-year-old cathedral and brought immediate scrutiny onto whether adequate fire protections had been in place to safeguard a gem of Gothic architecture visited by some 13 million people a year.

 Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, NOAA chief praises scientists after agency’s defense of incorrect Trump tweet, Jason Samenow, Sept. 14, 2019 (print ed.). The all-staff email marked an apparent effort to repair damage from the Sept. 6 statement.

Crime, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, Felicity Huffman gets 14 days in jail in college admission scandal, Karen Weintraub, Joelle Renstrom and Nick Anderson, Sept. 14, 2019 (print ed.). Actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced Friday to two weeks in jail for paying $15,000 in a conspiracy to inflate the SAT score of her older daughter — a punishment felicity huffman twitterthat sets a benchmark for what other accused parents could face in the college admissions bribery scandal.

Huffman, shown on a Twitter photo,who starred in the television series “Desperate Housewives,” had pleaded guilty in May to one count of conspiring to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. She was the first to be sentenced among 15 wealthy parents who have admitted guilt in the scam known as Varsity Blues. U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani also sentenced Huffman to a year of supervised release, 250 hours of community service and a $30,000 fine.

Epstein Trafficking Scandal

washington post logoharvard logoWashington Post, Harvard, MIT acknowledge deeper ties to Epstein than previously revealed, Susan Svrluga, Sept. 14, 2019. The revelations raise questions about how schools raise money and whether their leaders are appropriately transparent.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Renowned MIT Scientist Defends Epstein: Victims Were ‘Entirely Willing,’ Blake Montgomery, Sept. 14, 2019. MIT bigwig Richard Stallman dismissed Epstein’s underage victims in emails and defended child pornography on his blog.

While MIT engages in damage control following revelations the university’s Media Lab accepted millions of dollars in funding from Jeffrey Epstein, a renowned computer scientist at the university has fanned the flames by apparently going out of his way to defend the accused sex trafficker—and child pornography in general.

Richard Stallman has been hailed as one of the most influential computer scientists around today and honored with a slew of awards and honorary doctorates, but his eminence in the academic computer science community came into question Friday afternoon when purportedly leaked email excerpts showed him suggesting one of Epstein’s alleged victims was “entirely willing.”

An MIT engineering alumna, Selam Jie Gano, published a blog post calling for Stallman’s removal from the university in light of his comments, along with excerpts from the email in which Stallman appeared to defend both Epstein and Marvin Minsky, a lauded cognitive scientist and founder of MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab who was accused of assaulting Virginia Giuffre. Giuffre has alleged that sex offender and financier Epstein trafficked her to powerful men for sex, including Minsky, who died in 2016. She’s alleged that Epstein and his alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell recruited her at Mar-a-Lago when she was 16 years old.

MIT logoStallman wrote that “the most plausible scenario” for Giuffre’s accusations was that she was, in actuality, “entirely willing.” Vice’s Motherboard later reprinted the emails in full. Gano did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Stallman also wrote in the email exchange that “it is morally absurd to define ‘rape’ in a way that depends on minor details such as which country it was in or whether the victim was 18 years old or 17.”

A deep dive into his writings shows this isn’t the first time Stallman has expressed such questionable views, however. He has written dozens of posts on his personal website in favor of legalizing pedophilia and child pornography for more than 15 years.

“This ‘child pornography’ might be a photo of yourself or your lover that the two of you shared. It might be an image of a sexually mature teenager that any normal adult would find attractive. What’s heinous about having such a photo?” Stallman wrote in 2011 on his personal site,, in an argument in favor of Congress limiting laptop searches at the U.S. border.

Stallman currently works as a visiting scientist at MIT, according to the website of the university’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL), and as the president of the Free Software Foundation, which he founded in 1985. Stallman has been seen as a pioneering computer scientist for decades, especially in his creation of and advocacy for new kinds of freely available software. Much of his work underpins modern computer science. He’s worked at MIT on and off since the 1980s, and he spoke at a Microsoft computer science research center just last week. The Free Software Foundation, Microsoft, and MIT did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Stallman’s remarks.

Trafficking Solutions

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion, Thousands More Jeffrey Epsteins Are Still Out There, Nicholas Kristof, Sept. 14, 2019. They operate with impunity, continuing to sexually jeffrey epstein new mug cropped july 2019exploit children. Jeffrey Epstein, right, got away for years with raping underage girls, and the public is properly outraged that powerful people seemed to shrug and let him off easy. But the problem isn’t one tycoon but many tens of thousands of men who pay for sex with underage girls across the country. And society as a whole reacts with the same indifference that the authorities showed in the Epstein scandal.

“We see it as this singular narrative about this one guy,” said Rachel Lloyd, who wrote a superb book, “Girls Like Us,” about her own experience being sexually trafficked as a teenager. “There’s a much larger narrative out there about girls, often girls of color, who are commercially sexually exploited, often with impunity.”

“It’s part of the same behavior, part of what we allow as a society,” Lloyd added. “He got away with it because society said he could, and that’s what other johns think as well.”

Lloyd now runs a first-rate program, GEMS, in New York for girls and young women who have been trafficked. The people she helps haven’t been whisked off to Caribbean islands on private jets, but the pattern is the same: sordid exploitation of vulnerable girls by older and more affluent men who get away with it.

Indeed, girls across America are often treated even worse than in the Epstein case: Some end up arrested for prostitution while their rapists get off scot-free.

If we want to channel our outrage at the Epstein case in a productive way, we could: A) ramp up prosecution of pimps who traffic children; B) prosecute johns who rape girls and boys; C) assist programs for survivors of trafficking; and D) support initiatives that help vulnerable youths avoid being victimized by predators.

“They’re not billionaires, but it happens all the time,” said Shelia Faye Simpkins, who ran away from home at 14 and into the arms of a pimp.

Trump Scandal Watch

Daily Sound & Fury, Opinion: Schiff Demands Copy of Withheld Whistleblower Complaint Involving Trump and Nat. Intel., Jason Miciak, Sept. 14, 2019. Adam Schiff wrote his strongest demand as judiciary committee majority leader, yesterday, in response to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) ODNI’s decision to withhold a whistleblower complaint already deemed “credible” and of “urgent concern,” according to the ODNI’s own Inspector General.

Under the current operative statute, the “acting” Director of National Intelligence, Joseph McGuire, must forward to congress all complaints affirmed by the inspector general’s office as credible and urgent.. No exceptions.

adam schiff squareNot only has the DNI not passed the complaint to Congress, it has informed Schiff, right, that it will not be forwarding the complaint, despite the clear law and clear past practices. It is difficult to appreciate the DNI’s brazen attitude without reading Schiff’s words in the follow-up subpoena issued yesterday:

“Even though the disclosure was made by an individual within the Intelligence Community through lawful channels, you have improperly withheld that disclosure on the basis that, in your view, the complaint concerns conduct by someone outside of the Intelligence Community and because the complaint involves confidential and potentially privileged communications."

That high-pitched whistle you hear is the last bit of our democracy’s oxygen slipping out into the dictatorial vacuum.

Under the law, the director has no role here. Once he receives the complaint from his Inspector General, he must pass the complaint to Congress. All other concerns, privileges, third parties, are dealt with by the Inspector General and Congress itself.

Schiff knows exactly what is going on: “The Committee can only conclude, based on this remarkable confluence of factors, that the serious misconduct at issue involves the President of the United States and/or other senior White House or Administration officials. This raises grave concerns that your office, together with the Department of Justice and possibly the White House, are engaged in an unlawful effort to protect the President and conceal from the Committee information related to his possible “serious or flagrant” misconduct, abuse of power, or violation of law."

Director McGuire is subpoenaed to appear before the committee on Thursday to explain himself. That ought to be must-see TV, except we have come to expect that he will simply ignore the subpoena. That is what they do

They are attempting to run out the clock. The Republicans must somehow try to drag Trump over the finish line in 2020, and then declare that the election vitiated any concern about “law breaking” since the public just re-elected Trump.

I am not at all sure about Pelosi’s actual endgame here, whether she is simply playing dead because she knows she wants this really heating up late this year and into next, or whether she’s just terrified of her own shadow, like all too many Democrats since Reagan.

I do know this. I know that Adam Schiff knows exactly what is in that complaint. He knows it exists, after all, and that alone tells us that he “knows” what is being withheld. He has been tipped-off. And Schiff, the person who “knows” what is going on, has put pen to paper and said he must conclude it involves covering-up something that both involves Trump and relates to something the committee is already investigating. He knows he is being played and he is putting Barr and the White House on notice.

U.S. Politics / Religion

Miami Herald, In court fight over a South Beach hostel, Jerry Falwell Jr. might get a new judge, Douglas Hanks, Sept. 14, 2019. After two years of fights in a Miami-Dade court over his family’s purchase of a South Beach hostel, Jerry Falwell Jr. wants a new judge and a new legal venue.

On Friday, the evangelical leader and president of Liberty University filed papers to move his case from Florida’s Circuit Court system to federal court. The switch would mean a new judge for Falwell in the 2017 litigation filed by Gordon Bello, a Miami-Dade commission aide who claims he was cut out of a stake in the Alton Road hostel that the Falwell family bought for $4.7 million in early 2013.

Bello was a high-school friend of Giancarlo Granda, the former Fontainebleau pool attendant who, at age 21, befriended Falwell and his wife, Rebecca, while the couple was vacationing in Miami Beach.

The Falwells gave Granda a 25 percent stake in the business that owns the Miami Hostel, a low-cost, dormitory-style hotel on the 800 block of Alton Road in the heart of South Beach, with a liquor store and restaurant on the ground floor.

Framed around the technicalities of a South Beach real estate deal, the Bello litigation has helped anchor some of the more tantalizing tangents of Falwell’s real estate and political ventures. The court papers labeled Granda a “pool boy” and divulged details later confirmed in the media through social media posts: that Granda became friends with the Falwells and flew with them in private jets. One trip in 2012 took him to Liberty to meet future president Donald Trump.

Trump’s now-jailed lawyer, Michael Cohen, was surreptitiously recorded in March recalling his effort to retrieve “personal” photos for the Falwells that would have been embarrassing if made public.

Bello, 28, claims he and his father, developer Jett Bello, pitched the hostel idea to Falwell after being introduced through Granda. In an amended complaint filed in July, the younger Bello said Granda first introduced him to Rebecca Falwell and that the two formed a “personal relationship.” Later, the papers said, Granda introduced Bello to Jerry Falwell Jr.


Rolling Stone, The Saga of Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Bizarre Relationship With a Miami Beach Pool Boy, Explained, Ryan Bort, June 20, 2019. The Liberty University president who shepherded much of Trump’s evangelical support is at the center of a controversy involving blackmail, a hostel, and Tom Arnold.

jerry falwell jr wIn 2012, Falwell, left, and his wife Becki visited the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. While there, they befriended a 21-year-old pool attendant named Giancarlo Granda. Granda soon began traveling with the Falwells, both to their home of Virginia to hike and water ski, according to the Times, and to the Cheeca Lodge in the Florida Keys, according to the Herald. The latter paper published photos of the trip to the Keys, with Granda smiling next to Falwell, the two looking like father and son. Just months after the friendship commenced, the Falwells offered to help Granda, who had practically no business experience, set up a venture in Miami. After consulting with his friend Jesus Fernandez Jr. and Fernandez’s father, they agreed to open a hostel. Falwell ponied up $1.8 million.

Why did Falwell (who was nearly 50 at the time) and his wife invite a 21-year-old hotel pool boy to travel with them on multiple occasions, and then put up seven figures for him to open up a hostel in Miami Beach that Politico described as a “cesspool of vice”?


What about the salacious photos?

The relationship between the Fernandez family and the Falwells and Granda eventually went sour, and the Fernandezes sued, claiming they were being muscled out of a deal in which they were promised a controlling stake. The lawsuit, and many of the details of the Falwells’ relationship with Granda, were not know until Buzzfeed News reported on it in May 2018. Though it was not included in the lawsuit or Buzzfeed’s report, multiple compromising photos of the Falwells became a central element of the legal battle, according to the Times, which spoke to several people involved in the case.

Falwell has denied the existence of the photos — or at least that they’re of him — but the Herald reviewed three of them, which show Falwell’s “wife in various stages of undress.” When they were taken or by whom is not known, but, according to the Herald, two of them appear to have been taken at the Falwells’ farm in Virginia, and one at the Cheeca Lodge.

Sept. 13

U.S. 2020 Politicsdemocratic debate houston sept 12 2019 Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Rifts Emerge as Democrats Joust in Fiery Debate, Shane Goldmacher and Reid J. Epstein, Sept. 13, 2019 (print ed.). Biden’s Liberal Rivals Seek to Set Themselves Apart. Rivals are clearly aiming at Biden. He is punching back. In the first nearly 100 minutes of debate, the Democratic field was cleaved between aggressors, defenders and relative wallflowers, with most of the attacks continuing to be aimed at Mr. Biden, whose durability atop the polls has taken some rivals by surprise.

The candidates sparred, yet again, over health care policy, what to do about institutional racism, guns and trade.

democratic donkey logoMr. Biden stumbled at times over some specifics but delivered a more forceful defense of his record than at the two earlier debates. Some landed some early offensive framing of his own, particularly with Ms. Warren who has close the polling gap on him.

“I know that the senator says she’s for Bernie, well, I’m for Barack,” Mr. Biden said, speaking of health care but really about much more.

For the most part, Ms. Warren was willing to fade from the center stage spot she had secured for herself, making her case against political corruption more than against any particular rival as he ongoing truce with Mr. Sanders continued to hold.

The most aggressive candidate onstage was Mr. Castro, who questioned Mr. Biden both on policy and, pointedly, his memory. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden visits Marshalltown, Iowa on July 4, 2019 (Gage Skidmore Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Former Vice President Joe Biden visits Marshalltown, Iowa on July 4, 2019 (Gage Skidmore Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: It Will Take More than Cheap Shots to Knock Off Biden, Timothy Egan, Sept. 13, 2019. Ageism was on display in a debate where Democrats tried their hardest to dent Joe Biden’s enduring appeal. The dirty work fell to Julián Castro, the former Obama cabinet member. He got right to it with an opening jab against “old ideas,” and then a direct slap, asking Biden: “Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?” Um, no.

It was a big backfire, a cheap shot that fell to the floor. But it did finally bring out into the open the “ism” that dare not speak its name. You’ll hear plenty more of it, much of it coming from the infantile 73-year-old president, who, just this week, seemed to forget that he had a son with his third wife.

dnc square logoBiden is running as a normal guy. Normal is dull. It stirs no blood. Normal is not having to worry about who’s piloting the plane; it’ll land. Uncle Joe is comfort food, the “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, They have to take you in,” in Robert Frost’s words.

But a half-hour into this third Democratic debate, many Democrats had to be wondering: Can he go three hours? It’s our own collective ageism.

He did, closing with his most appealing side: his humanity and vulnerability. After the El Paso shootings, Trump showed he couldn’t even pass the base test of a human being, demonstrating a smidgen of empathy. He couldn’t even fake it. Not for a minute. Biden bleeds empathy. What’s appealing about him is what my colleague Jennifer Senior called “the bartender aspect” of his character, in her review of his book on the loss of his son Beau.

ny times logoNew York Times, Onstage, a New Urgency on How Best to Win,  Matt Flegenheimer and Katie Glueck, Sept. 13, 2019 (print ed.). “This is why presidential debates are becoming unwatchable,” Pete Buttigieg said. Julián Castro shot back: “That’s called an election.”

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. jammed his finger skyward, eyes narrowing like his polling advantage, accusing the “socialist” to his right, Senator Bernie Sanders, and the “distinguished friend” to his left, Senator Elizabeth Warren, of hawking infeasible health care proposals loaded with dubious math.

democratic donkey logoMr. Sanders, raspier than usual but no gentler on the sound system, insisted that Mr. Biden has “got to defend” a status quo that bankrupts cancer patients, drawing a steely glare from a front-runner well-versed in the disease’s ravages.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg tried to play the peacekeeping millennial, cutting in after Julián Castro — the former federal housing secretary, disinclined to leave the squabbling to the three favorites — interjected from the stage’s periphery to suggest that Mr. Biden, 76, had forgotten what he said just minutes prior.

“This is why presidential debates are becoming unwatchable,” Mr. Buttigieg said. “This reminds everybody of what they cannot stand about Washington.”

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Tulsi Gabbard's alarming links to Indian intelligence and extremist Hindu groups, Wayne Madsen (shown in a 2015 file photo), Sept. 13, 2019 (subscription required, excerpted with permission). If one were to ask India's right-wing Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi who his favorite U.S. politician wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallis, the answer would, perhaps surprisingly, not be Donald Trump. Modi's American Hindu nationalist fellow-traveler is Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), right, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate....

tulsi gabbard newTrump has set the bar for foreign involvement in U.S. elections, something that is prohibited by federal and state election laws, but not being rigorously enforced. Trump's political support by Russian and Russian-Israeli oligarchs has opened a flood gate of foreign support for U.S. presidential candidates, including that of Israel for Trump and Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Taiwan (Republic of China) for 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

[With election financing law] normally regulated and enforced by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the Trump administration’s refusal to replace Republican vacancies on the FEC had led to it becoming a moribund and toothless regulatory arm of the government. Meanwhile, foreign owned-and-operated candidates like Gabbard, Harris, Booker, Yang, and others are representing the interests of New Delhi, Tel Aviv/Jerusalem, and Taipei over those of Dubuque, Iowa; Nashua, New Hampshire; and Beaufort, South Carolina.

WMR Editor Wayne Madsen is a syndicated columnist, author of 16 books and a former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst whose Navy assignments included helping to investigate the damage to U.S. interests caused by the convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, who worked for the Navy during the 1980s before being caught and sentenced to a life term, which ended in 2015 after years of Israeli requests. 


More Debate Analysis

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Was Biden’s performance ‘presidential’ or ‘disqualifying’? Depends on your media source, Margaret Sullivan​, Sept. 13, 2019. The former vice president rambled, sometimes nonsensically — or worse — but many declared a big win for him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Castro’s kamikaze mission makes Biden more sympathetic – and six other debate takeaways, James Hohmann, Sept. 13, 2019.  Castro says Biden 'forgot' what he said on health care. Let's review.

THE BIG IDEA: When you come at the former vice president, you best not miss.

julián castro hudJulián Castro finally took his shot at Joe Biden last night in Houston, but he got his facts wrong. The former housing secretary (shown in an official photo from that job) telegraphed where he was heading in his opening statement. “Our problems didn’t start with Donald Trump,” the 44-year-old said. “We won’t solve them by embracing old ideas.”

A few minutes later, Castro accused the 76-year-old Biden of having a memory lapse during an exchange over health care. “Are you forgetting already what you said two minutes ago?” Castro said, repeating his question three times.

He was accusing Biden of having just said that his public option plan would not automatically enroll people. In fact, Biden had said: “Anyone who can’t afford it gets automatically enrolled in the Medicare-type option we have.”

U.S. House Impeachment Plan

ny times logoNew York Times, House Judiciary Committee Inches Toward Impeachment, Nicholas Fandos, Sept. 13, 2019 (print ed.). The panel took its first recorded vote to press forward with a possible impeachment of President Trump.

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday took its first recorded vote to press forward with a possible impeachment of President Trump, putting aside Democrats’ internal divisions for the time being in a bid to strengthen its hand in investigating whether he committed high crimes and misdemeanors.

Voting along party lines, the panel approved rules for a continuing “investigation to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment with regard to President Donald J. Trump,” which clarified new authorities for lawmakers and laid out a process, albeit limited, for the president to respond.

Speaking after the vote, the committee’s chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, also promised a series of hearings expanding the inquiry beyond the findings of Robert S. Mueller III, the former special counsel, to consider other potentially impeachable offenses. The first session is scheduled to take place next week with Corey Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager and an important witness to the special counsel’s obstruction-of-justice investigation.

But Thursday’s action was as much a symbolic display as it was a practical exercise of constitutional powers, aimed at showing federal courts and impatient Democrats that the House is, in fact, serious about building an impeachment case, even if it is not yet taking the politically loaded step of filing charges.

U.S. Asylum 'Tent' Hearings

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Hastens Asylum Hearings in Tents Far From Courtrooms, Manny Fernandez, Miriam Jordan and Caitlin Dickerson, Sept. 13, 2019 (print ed.). The makeshift immigration courts are part of the administration’s plan to control the surge of migrants.

ICE logoFederal officials this week began operating tent-style facilities in Laredo and a handful of other border cities to ease the strain on immigration courts, part of a sweeping set of moves intended to slow the flow of migrant families across the border. The tent courts, which are also opening in Brownsville, Tex., and Yuma, Ariz., are designed to speed up processing and end the long delays that have allowed many migrants to live and work in the United States for years before their court cases are decided.

Global News

ny times logoNew York Times, How Jewish Should the Jewish State Be? The Question Shadows an Israeli Vote, David M. Halbfinger, Sept. 13, 2019 (print ed.). For years, the resentment had been building. In Israel, Jewish men and women are drafted into the military, but the ultra-Orthodox are largely exempt. Unlike other Israelis, many ultra-Orthodox receive state subsidies to study the Torah and raise large families.

Israel FlagAnd in a country that calls itself home to all Jews, ultra-Orthodox rabbis have a state-sanctioned monopoly on events like marriage, divorce and religious conversions.

A series of political twists has suddenly jolted these issues to the fore, and the country’s long-simmering secular-religious divide has become a central issue in the national election on Tuesday.

This election was supposed to be a simple do-over, a quick retake to give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a second chance to form a government and his opponents another shot at running him out of office.

Instead it has become what Yohanan Plesner, president of the nonpartisan Israel Democracy Institute, calls “a critical campaign for the trajectory of the country.”

Blame Avigdor Lieberman, the right-wing secular politician who forced the new election by refusing to join Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition with the ultra-Orthodox. The hill Mr. Lieberman chose to fight on was a new law that would eliminate the wholesale exemptions for ultra-Orthodox men to serve in the military.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: What Won’t Netanyahu Say to Get Re-elected? Editorial Board, Sept. 13, 2019. Cornered and desperate, the Israeli prime minister (shown below in a file photo) threatens to annex occupied territories and attacks the media, the judiciary and political foes.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge to annex much of the West Bank if he remains Israel’s prime minister after next week’s election has nothing to do with “secure, permanent borders” or his purportedly special relationship with President Trump. It’s about Mr. Netanyahu’s panic that he might lose the office he has held for a benjamin netanyahu frowndecade, and it amounts to exploitation of a critical issue for political and personal gain.

On Tuesday, Israeli voters return for a second round of voting in six months, and Mr. Netanyahu’s arithmetic indicates he needs far-right votes to survive in office and stave off an impending corruption indictment. So he is doing what he did before the first round in April: portraying himself as the one man who has the connections to the Trump White House to get away with annexing occupied territories to Israel. His platform also includes the familiar assaults on the news media, the judiciary, the police, Israel’s Arab minority and political opponents.

Public Surveillance Scandals

ny times logoNew York Times, Book Review: In Snowden’s Memoir, the Disclosures Are Personal, Jennifer Szalai, Sept. 13, 2019. Edward Snowden, the former intelligence contractor who leaked U.S. secrets, gives a riveting account in “Permanent Record,” our critic writes. Revealing state secrets is hard, but revealing yourself in a memoir might be harder. As Edward Snowden puts it in the preface of “Permanent Record”: “The decision to come forward with evidence of government wrongdoing was easier for me to make than the decision, here, to give an account of my life.”

edward snowden permanent recordSnowden, of course, is the former intelligence contractor who, in 2013, leaked documents about the United States government’s surveillance programs, dispelling any notions that the National Security Agency and its allies were playing a quaint game of spy vs. spy, limiting their dragnet to specific persons of interest. Technological change and the calamity of 9/11 yielded new tools for mass surveillance and the incentive to use them.

Sweeping up phone records of Americans citizens, eavesdropping on foreign leaders, harvesting data from internet activity: For revealing these secret programs and more, Snowden was deemed a traitor by the Obama administration, which charged him with violating the Espionage Act and revoked his passport, effectively stranding Snowden in Moscow, where he has been living ever since.

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Appeals court revives lawsuit saying Trump is violating the Constitution by doing business with foreign governments, David A. Fahrenthold, Sept. 13, 2019. A federal appeals court on Friday revived a previously-dismissed lawsuit against President Trump, which alleges Trump is violating the Constitution by engaging in business transactions with foreign governments.

In a 2-1 ruling, a panel of judges from the 2nd Circuit in New York ruled that a lower-court judge had improperly thrown out the lawsuit in December 2017. Now, plaintiffs are hoping this victory will allow them to seek detailed records on Trump’s transactions with foreign officials.

But, if Trump appeals, as is expected, the case could go to the full 2nd Circuit — and after that, to the Supreme Court.

This suit was the first of three major lawsuits alleging Trump violated the emoluments clause.

In this case, the plaintiffs were Trump’s business competitors: a hotel operator and a group of restaurants and restaurant workers, who say Trump is using the presidency to give his businesses a competitive advantage. Along with hotel rooms and steaks, they say, he can sell something they cannot: access to power, and a chance to please the president.

In 2017, a District Court judge ruled that the plaintiffs had not proved Trump had actually taken any business away from them. He threw the case out. In Friday’s ruling, the two appeals court judges — both appointed by Democratic presidents — brought it back. They said it was not necessary to identify a specific customer that Trump had lured away. At least, not at this early stage of the lawsuit.

“The district court effectively required plaintiffs to prove, pre-discovery, the facts necessary to win at trial,” judges Pierre N. Leval and Christopher F. Droney wrote. They said that the businesses had plausibly sketched out how they might be affected — and that was enough to continue to the fact-gathering stage of the case.

Judge John M. Walker, an appointee of President Reagan, dissented and said the case should be thrown out.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump gives disastrous speech in Baltimore and comes off like what little was left of his brain has completely melted, Bill Palmer, Sept. 12, 2019. Yesterday Donald Trump gave a speech in Baltimore, a city where he’s widely hated for good reason, and his speech was perhaps the best argument yet for why his people might no longer want him appearing in public. Yes, Trump referred to Mike Pence as “Mike Pounce.” Okay fine, everyone gets tongue tied sometime. But Trump spent the entire speech failing to form words.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump sounded so messed up during his speech, it made his infamous “United Shesh” moment seem tame in comparison. The guy slurred his way through the speech so badly, it’s as if he needed to stop and buy a vowel. He came off as a guy whose brain is no longer properly functioning.

Yes, Donald Trump gave a rally speech in North Carolina the other night (after his handlers canceled his other North Carolina appearance of the day), and sure, he sounded pretty much like the usual Trump during that speech. So it’s not as if Trump now sounds like a his brain has melted every time he opens his mouth. But something is very wrong here. If Trump’s people are trying to hide him for good reason, they won’t be able to keep it up forever.

U.S. Justice Dept.

ny times logoNew York Times, Andrew McCabe Asks Justice Dept. Whether Grand Jury Rejected Charges, Eileen Sullivan and Adam Goldman, Sept. 13, 2019. Lawyers for the former F.B.I. deputy director Andrew G. McCabe, a frequent target of President Trump’s, have asked federal prosecutors whether a secret grand jury refused to indict him, which would be a sign that the government is struggling to make a case against him.

In a letter sent late Thursday, defense lawyers asked whether a grand jury had considered charges against Mr. McCabe, who is being investigated over whether he lied to internal investigators about interactions with the news media. The letter came shortly after the Justice Department told Mr. McCabe’s lawyers that it had rejected their pitch to the deputy attorney general to drop the case.

“It is clear that no indictment has been returned,” the lawyers wrote, citing coverage of the case by The New York Times and The Washington Post. A grand jury hearing evidence that was recalled on Thursday after months of inactivity left for the day without any sign of an indictment, The Post reported. None had emerged on Friday.

The letter was the latest attempt by Mr. McCabe to stave off charges in the highly unusual and politically charged case. His lawyers have denied that he intentionally lied during an internal inquiry and have said that he is being singled out, noting that similar cases were typically handled administratively, not through criminal prosecution.
Mr. McCabe’s lawyers argued that prosecutors should set aside the investigation if the grand jury voted against an indictment. The standard for an indictment — a finding of probable cause that a crime was committed — is much lower than for a guilty verdict at a trial, and evidence that falls short of the lower bar would fail to produce a guilty verdict, they said.

The case against Mr. McCabe centers on an earlier investigation by the Justice Department inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, into several issues, including dealings with the news media. He found that Mr. McCabe lacked candor when asked about information provided to a Wall Street Journal reporter in 2016 about an F.B.I. inquiry into the Clinton Foundation. Mr. Horowitz referred his findings to federal prosecutors in Washington.

Media Criticisim

Moon of Alabama, How The BBC's Quentin Sommerville Created Fairytales Of Underground Hospitals In Syria, B, Sept. 13, 2019. In August 2013, the BBC produced a fake video headlined "Saving Syria’s Children" about an alleged chemical weapon attack in Syria which it claimed was caused by the Syrian government. Robert Stuart has since pressed the BBC to admit the obvious fabrication of these scenes.

bbc news logo2Today the BBC posted on its website another Syria clip under the title Idlib's secret hospitals hiding from air strikes: "Air strikes have been targeting hospitals in the rebel-held province of Idlib, Syria, despite the fact that it is a war crime. Medics have been forced underground in order to survive. Yhe UN accuses the Syrian government and allied Russian warplanes of conducting a deadly campaign that appears to target medical facilities. BBC's Middle East correspondent, Quentin Sommerville, visits one hospital in a secret location."

Sommerville starts with standing next to destroyed building claiming that it has been a hospital that was bombed. The whole claim of the BBC clip is that the hospitals are underground because they get bombed. But the part that is supposed to prove that is clearly cut from a real building scene to a walk down into a cave scene and back to a real building scene. The sequence is clearly a propaganda fake.

Trump Watch

Politico, Schiff accuses top intel official of illegally withholding 'urgent' whistleblower complaint, Kyle Cheney, Sept. 13, 2019. The nation's top intelligence official is illegally withholding a whistleblower complaint, possibly to protect President Donald Trump or senior White House officials, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff alleged Friday.

Schiff issued a subpoena for the complaint, accusing acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire of taking extraordinary steps to withhold the complaint from Congress, even after the intel community's inspector general characterized the complaint as credible and of "urgent concern."

More U.S. 2020 Politics

Politico, Ocasio-Cortez endorses Markey as Joe Kennedy eyes his Senate seat, Caitlin Oprysko, Sept. 13, 2019. Sen. Ed Markey on Friday got a major boost in the not-so-invisible primary between himself and Rep. Joe Kennedy, nabbing an endorsement from liberal firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Ocasio-Cortez, who shot to fame after mounting an insurgent primary run against the then-No. 4 Democrat in the House last year, endorsed Markey in a video posted to his campaign account.

While Kennedy has not yet announced a primary challenge against Markey, he's considered one of the strongest potential rivals. Earlier this summer, he launched an exploratory committee and begun making key hires for a Senate run after commissioning a poll that tested his favorability against Markey. Those close to the four-term congressman told POLITICO earlier this week that he’s seriously considering getting in the race but hasn't reached a formal decision.

In her endorsement, Ocasio-Cortez shouted out Markey’s progressive credentials, calling him “a proud and strong progressive champion for working families. Not just in Massachusetts, but across the country.”

The 29-year-old worked with Markey earlier this year to put out the Green New Deal, the landmark climate change proposal that has been the subject of mockery by Republicans and division within the Democratic Party. Ocasio-Cortez emphasizes that in her video, saying that Markey is “one of the few people that had the courage to stand up and take a chance."

“Ed Markey, I know, is one of the strongest progressives that we have in the United States Senate,” she says in the video. “And in a time right now, when we have to have conversations not just about holding this administration accountable but changing the Democratic Party for the future, Ed Markey has a very critical role in making sure that climate change, as well as a bevy of other issues — health care and beyond — are critical core issues in how we fight for working people and working families in the United States.”

Her endorsement is somewhat of a blow to what likely would have been Kennedy’s most potent strengths — the idea that generational change is needed within the Democratic Party. Ocasio-Cortez also addressed this dynamic in her endorsement.

“He’s not just resting on his record of the past, but he's aggressively pursuing an agenda for the future,” she said of Markey. “And that's what a progressive is, and that's what progressivism is all about.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement comes just weeks after Markey nabbed key backing from his fellow Massachusetts Senate colleague and a 2020 front-runner, Elizabeth Warren. The freshman congresswoman's endorsement, however, is significant because of her immense popularity among liberal Democrats — so much so that Markey asked her behind the scenes for her support. She is also among the most outspoken in the party when it comes to her endorsement of challengers of Democratic incumbents, which has earned her some consternation in the party, but said earlier this week that a Markey endorsement was "in the realm of possibility."


ny times logoNew York Times, Giuliani Divorce: It’s Ugly, It’s Operatic. What Did You Expect? Sarah Maslin Nir, Sept. 13, 2019. The marriage of Rudolph and Judith Giuliani is coming to an end, and despite a judge’s urging, the wreckage is being laid bare for all to see.

rudy giulianiOn a spring afternoon in 2000, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, shown in a file photo, used a news conference in Bryant Park to drop a personal bombshell: He was separating from his wife. That was news not just to New York City but also to Donna Hanover, the woman he was married to at the time.

There was more.

Mr. Giuliani, then a United States Senate candidate, casually mentioned that Judith Nathan, a woman whom he had just described as a “very good friend,” was someone whom he would now turn to, “more now than maybe I did before.”

It was a fitting way to introduce a relationship made for high tabloid style. He was the king of the city and soon to be “America’s mayor;” Ms. Nathan would become his muse, constant counterpart and eventual third wife, married in a pearl and diamond tiara on the lawn of Gracie Mansion.

They presided over box seats at the opera and at Yankee Stadium, as well as over a national tragedy: He comforted a shaken city after 9/11; she manned call centers for its victims.

Mr. Giuliani would become a global brand, a Republican presidential candidate, and, most recently, the president’s personal lawyer, using his worldwide speaking engagements to amass millions of dollars, six homes and 11 country-club memberships for the high-flying couple.

Were their relationship to ever end, it could do so only in operatic fashion. And so it has.

Media News

william y chang columbia university Custom

Journalist William Y. Chang (Photo via William Y. Chang Collection at Columbia University and New York Times).

ny times logoNew York Times, William Y. Chang, Whose Newspaper Spoke to Chinatown in English, Dies at 103, Richard Sandomir, updated Sept. 13, 2019. For 17 years, his aim was to help the children of Chinese immigrants acquire an American identity as they adapted to life in the United States. For 17 years starting in 1955, Mr. Chang’s monthly Chinese-American Times chronicled life, culture and politics in the Chinese community in New York, particularly in Chinatown, though he defined the broader East Coast as his coverage area.

“New York’s Chinese-American community was pretty small at the time and not powerful politically, and Bill spoke for them,” Charlotte Brooks, a history professor at Baruch College in Manhattan, said in a phone interview. “He was determined to give the community a voice and something they could be proud of.”

Sept. 12

U.S. Crime, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, She got 12 years for $31 of pot. Years after her parole, she was jailed for the unpaid court fees, Antonia Noori Farzan, Sept. 12, 2019. Sitting in her jail cell this week, Patricia Spottedcrow couldn’t imagine where she was going to get the money she needed for her release.

In 2010, the young Oklahoma mother, who had been caught selling $31 worth of marijuana to a police informant after financial troubles caused her to lose her home, was sentenced to 12 years in prison. It was her first-ever offense, and the lengthy sentence drew national attention, sparking a movement that led to her early release.

But once she was home free, Spottedcrow still owed thousands in court fees that she struggled to pay, since her felony conviction made it difficult to find a job. Notices about overdue payments piled up, with late fees accumulating on top of the original fines. On Monday, the 34-year-old was arrested on a bench warrant that required her to stay in jail until she could come up with $1,139.90 in overdue fees, which she didn’t have. Nearly a decade after her initial arrest, she was still ensnarled in the criminal justice system, and had no idea when she would see her kids again.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s proposals to tackle California homelessness face local, legal obstacles, Scott Wilson, Sept. 12, 2019. The White House effort has taken state officials by surprise, but the state’s growing homeless problem hasn’t been contained by similar policy initiatives in the past.

President Trump’s emerging plan to address California’s homeless crisis includes ideas that have been tried unsuccessfully before, namely the mass housing of people living on the streets, and proposals that have been ruled illegal by federal courts.

The White House effort has taken state officials by surprise, as the president has shifted from criticizing California’s management of homelessness on social media to proposals that would insert the federal government directly into the crisis, including relocating homeless people living on the street and in tent camps to a federal facility.

But the state’s growing homeless problem hasn’t been contained by similar policy initiatives in the past. It is an unusual crisis stemming in part from the state’s economic success and one where the lack of political will, rather than a lack of public resources, is often the primary obstacle to resolving it.

washington post logoWashington Post, Is the Supreme Court too deferential to Trump — or worried some judges are overstepping their power? Robert Barnes, Sept. 12, 2019. Has the Supreme Court become a soft touch for the Trump administration? Or are the justices sending a message to lower courts not to become a part of the “resistance” to the president’s legitimate powers?

The questions became relevant again Wednesday as the court allowed the administration to begin implementing a dramatic change in asylum rules that would bar requests from most Central American migrants who arrive at the southern border seeking protection in the United States.

The court gave no reason in its one-paragraph unsigned order for effectively dissolving an injunction federal courts had placed on the administration’s new policy. The directive would deny in almost all cases asylum requests from those who had traveled through another country without first seeking protection there.

Wednesday marked the second time since the court adjourned in late June that it approved an emergency request from the Trump administration to overrule a lower court on a border security issue. In July, the justices allowed the administration to proceed in transferring billions of dollars in Defense Department funds to border wall construction.

sonia sotomayor in scotus robe1Justice Sonia Sotomayor, right, perhaps the court’s most liberal member, accused the administration of bypassing the normal process and racing to the Supreme Court when it receives an unfavorable ruling in a lower court.

“Historically, the government has made this kind of request rarely; now it does so reflexively,” wrote Sotomayor, who was joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. They were the only two to state how they voted on the request.

andrew mccabe c span may 11 2017

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. authorized prosecutors to charge Andrew McCabe, Matt Zapotosky and Spencer S. Hsu​, Sept. 12, 2019. The FBI’s former acting director (shown above in a file photo) was told last month that prosecutors had recommended charging him with lying to investigators.

Former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe’s legal team has been notified that the Justice Department authorized prosecutors to seek an indictment against him for lying to investigators, according to two people familiar with the matter, though it remains unclear whether McCabe will be charged.

McCabe’s team was notified of Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen’s decision in a message Wednesday, which said, “The Department rejected your appeal of the United States Attorney’s Office’s decision in this matter. Any further inquiries should be directed to the United States Attorney’s Office,” one person familiar with the matter said.

McCabe’s team was told last month that line prosecutors had recommended charges, and later, that D.C. U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu had endorsed that decision, a person familiar with the matter said. Last month, McCabe’s team had appealed to Rosen in what was considered one of the final efforts to persuade officials not to move forward and seek an indictment from a grand jury. The legal team had been waiting to hear back.

The notification comes as a federal grand jury investigating McCabe was suddenly recalled this week after a months-long hiatus — an indication its members would likely be asked soon to consider bringing charges. But the panel was let go Thursday with no immediate signs of an indictment — a sign they might have balked, been asked to return later or filed a determination under seal.

To bring an indictment, prosecutors would have to convince 12 of the 23 grand jurors to sign onto the decision. If grand jurors turn them down, it is possible for prosecutors to call in a new group, though they would then have to start the process over.

The decision, whenever it is made clear, is likely to inflame partisan divisions and once again thrust the Justice Department to the center of a political combat zone. McCabe authorized the FBI to begin investigating President Trump and has long been a target of the commander in chief’s ire. His defenders are likely to view any charges against him as the most sinister form of Trump’s revenge. ·​

2020 U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, The Top 10 Candidates Meet: A Guide to Thursday’s Debate, Shane Goldmacher and Adriana Ramic, Sept. 12, 2019. The top Democrats will face off for the first time. Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren will be at the center.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here’s just how badly Donald Trump is screwing the GOP in 2020, Bill Palmer, Sept. 12, 2019. When an unpopular president heads into reelection, it’s generally bad news for everyone else in his party who’s running for reelection. When you’re talking about a historically unpopular president, it’s even worse news for his party. But Donald Trump is taking things further. He’s not just passively screwing the Republican Party by being unpopular. He’s now making a point of actively screwing the Republican Party’s prospects in 2020.

bill palmer report logo headerMultiple major news outlets reported yesterday that the Donald Trump 2020 campaign is planning to prevent Republican candidates running in downticket races from accessing the Trump campaign’s internal polling data by region. There’s a fairly obvious reason for this. The Trump campaign doesn’t want GOP candidates to know which districts he’s doing the most poorly in, for fear the candidates in those districts might decide to run on an anti-Trump platform.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosThere’s a logical reason for Donald Trump to do this. It’s already going to be excruciatingly difficult for Trump to win in 2020. The last thing he needs is Republican candidates in House races seeing just how unpopular Trump is in their district, and then proceeding to publicly trash Trump in the name of trying to get themselves reelected. The trouble is, this logic is sinister, as Trump is making it far more difficult for GOP candidates in swing districts to figure out the most favorable strategy. Trump is all but guaranteeing that, whether he wins in 2020 or not, there will be fewer Republicans in the House than there otherwise could have been.

Republican candidates can still look at public polling, and their own internal polling, in order to try to figure out whether to run with or against Donald Trump in 2020. But none of that data is going to be nearly as detailed or accurate as the kind of sophisticated internal polling that a well-funded presidential campaign can come up with. Trump is screwing the GOP in 2020, in a last ditch effort at saving himself. It’s already gotten that ugly for him.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Let Trump Destroy Trump, David Axelrod (the senior strategist for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign), Sept. 12, 2019 (print ed.). The Democratic nominee, whoever it turns out to be, should use the president’s contortions and carrying on against him. Mr. Trump was elected to shake things up and challenge the political establishment. And to many of his core supporters, his incendiary dog whistles, bullhorn attacks and nonstop flouting of “political correctness” remain energizing symbols of authenticity.

But polling and focus groups reflect a growing unease among a small but potentially decisive group of voters who sided with Mr. Trump in 2016 but are increasingly turned off by the unremitting nastiness, the gratuitous squabbles and the endless chaos he sows.

Plenty of attention has been paid to the historic shift in suburban areas Mr. Trump narrowly carried in 2016 but that broke decisively with his party last fall. That revolt was led by college-educated white women, who overwhelmingly turned against Republican candidates.

But what should be of even greater concern to Mr. Trump is the potential erosion among the non-college-educated white women he is counting on as a core constituency. Those women gave Mr. Trump a 27-point margin over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Yet in a recent Fox News poll, Mr. Trump was beating former Vice President Joe Biden by just four points in that group.

Crew Asleep In Disaster

santa clara fire ktla

ny times logoNew York Times, The entire crew was asleep on a boat that caught fire and sank off the coast of Southern California earlier this month, Niraj Chokshi, Sept. 12, 2019. The finding suggests that the crew had failed to uphold a commitment to have someone awake. (Photo above via KTLA-TV.)

All six crew members of the Conception were asleep when the scuba diving boat caught fire and sank off the coast of Southern California early on Sept. 2, killing 34 people, according to a federal report released on Thursday.

That finding, by the National Transportation Safety Board, suggests that the crew had failed to uphold a commitment to have someone awake.

“According to its certificate of inspection, the passenger vessel Conception was required to have a roving watch,” said Lisa Novak, a spokeswoman for the United States Coast Guard.

U.S. House Impeachment Plan

washington post logoWashington Post, Judiciary Committee Democrats map out possible impeachment articles against Trump, Rachael Bade, Sept. 12, 2019. The discussions, closely held and preliminary, include a range of allegations. But several congressional aides caution that the articles may never be drafted.

President Donald Trump officialA group of Judiciary Committee Democrats has begun privately mapping a list of possible charges against President Trump, sketching out the contours of potential articles of impeachment even as House leaders publicly resist taking such action, according to a half-dozen lawmakers and congressional aides.

The closely held, informal discussions between some committee lawmakers and aides close to the investigations say the charges include a range of allegations — some that echo charges against former president Richard M. Nixon: obstruction of justice, abuse of power and defiance of subpoenas, as well as violation of campaign finance law and allegations of self-enrichment, said the individuals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of their work.

The Judiciary Committee believes it has identified five areas of potential obstruction in former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, episodes Democrats will explore further during a hearing Tuesday with former Trump campaign official Corey Lewandowski and other ex-Trump aides.

More U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: I like Elizabeth Warren. Too bad she’s a hypocrite, Ed Rendell (a Democrat and former governor of Pennsylvania), Sept. 12, 2019 (print ed.). I think Warren (D-Mass.) has been a great senator, and her work in setting up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was terrific. The CFPB is the best protection that ordinary Americans have from financial institutions that prey on them. In fact, I like her so much that when she ran for Senate in 2018, I co-chaired a couple of fundraisers for her and donated a combined $4,500 to her campaign.

Shortly after announcing her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination in February, Warren said she would shun high-dollar fundraising events.

elizabeth warren o purpleNow, Warren, left, has every right to make that pledge even if she had obtained significant contributions from donors in the past. Doing that didn’t make her a hypocrite. But there are two other reasons why the description applies. First, because she transferred $10.4 million from her Senate reelection campaign to her presidential campaign fund. More than $6 million came in contributions of $1,000 and up, as the New York Times recently noted. The senator appears to be trying to have it both ways — get the political upside from eschewing donations from higher-level donors and running a grass-roots campaign, while at the same time using money obtained from those donors in 2018.

washington post logoej dionne w open neckWashington Post, Opinion: North Carolina’s election results provide a thought experiment for 2020, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Sept. 12, 2019 (print ed). President Trump’s tweeting of a “Trump 2024” meme should concentrate the minds of his opponents. So should the results of North Carolina’s special congressional election Tuesday.

We have learned from North Carolina and the new polls that:

(1) divisions between rural and metropolitan voters are deepening; (2) Republicans will have great trouble winning any suburban-dominated district, which will make it very hard to win back the House; (3) the vast majority of incumbent House Republicans represent very pro-Trump seats and have no political interest in breaking with Democratic-Republican Campaign logoshim; (4) life will stay complicated for vulnerable Republican senators up for reelection in swing states because they need turnout from voters turned on by Trump but also suburban crossover voters turned off by Trump; (5) division, distraction and fear will always be Trump’s play; and (6) a large majority of the American electorate would like to throw Trump out of the White House, but Democrats will have to make it easy for them to do so. There will be no miraculous solution to the Trump problem.

Trump Watch

washington post logojohn bolton youtube guardianWashington Post, You’re a prop in the back’: Advisers struggle to obey Trump’s Kafkaesque rules, Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker, Sept. 12, 2019. The rupture with John Bolton, right, is a case study in the president’s management style and his unusual expectations of those who report directly to him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker: Trump’s fuzzy vision on the Sept. 11 attacks, Glenn Kessler, Sept. 12, 2019. The president has told many tall tales related to the 2001 terrorist attacks. As Trump controversies go, whether he saw the second plane or just the explosion of the second plane is relatively minor. Here’s a roundup of Trump claims regarding 9/11 that are clearly false.

Inside DC: Guns, Farming

washington post logous senate logoWashington Post, 145 CEOs implore Senate to act on gun violence, saying doing nothing is ‘simply unacceptable,’ Rachel Siegel​, Sept. 12, 2019. In the latest attempt by corporate America to pressure Congress for action on the issue, the chief executives of Levi Strauss, Twitter, Reddit and others urged for the expansion of background checks to all gun sales and for stronger “red flag” laws.

washington post logoWashington Post, Top Democrat attempts to block Trump from paying farm bailout money, setting up battle over trade war tactics, Jeff Stein Sept. 12, 2019. House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) is proposing to block the White House request over its farm bailout program, according to a draft of legislation reviewed by the Washington Post, potentially imperiling President Trump’s ability to direct payments to thousands of farmers.

The bailout program was created last year amid complaints from agriculture groups that China had stopped purchasing their crops in retaliation for new tariffs that the White House imposed on Chinese imports. Trump has ordered that billions of dollars in taxpayer funds be paid directly to farmers as a way to offset their losses.

The bailout hadn’t needed congressional approval up to this point, but that has changed.

The Department of Agriculture is planning to spend upwards of $28 billion in payments over two years, but the Depression-era program Trump is using for the program has an annual $30 billion cap that they are expected to hit this year before the second round of payments can be completed.
A number of Democrats are sympathetic to complaints from farmers in key states, particularly in the Upper Midwest, but there are growing signs that agriculture groups are pinning blame squarely on the White House for the continued uncertainty.

U.S. Environment, Clean Water

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Administration to Finalize Rollback of Clean Water Protections, Coral Davenport, Sept. 12, 2019. The repeal of the Obama-era measure had been widely expected since the early days of the Trump administration. he regulation had placed limits on polluting chemicals that could be used near streams, wetlands and water bodies.

The Trump administration on Thursday is expected to complete the legal repeal of a major Obama-era clean water regulation, which had placed limits on polluting chemicals that could be used near streams, wetlands and water bodies.

The rollback of the 2015 measure, known as the Waters of the United States rule, has been widely expected since the early days of the Trump administration, when President Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to begin the work of repealing and replacing it.

Weakening the Obama-era water rule had been a central campaign pledge for Mr. Trump, who characterized it as a federal land-grab that impinged on the rights of farmers, rural landowners and real estate developers to use their property as they see fit.

More Epstein Connections

washington post logoWashington Post, Council on Foreign Relations, another beneficiary of Epstein largesse, grapples with how to handle his donations, Marc Fisher, Sept. 10, 2019. In his 15 years as a member of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, Jeffrey Epstein attended only two events — a dinner for big donors in 1998 and a 2002 conversation with Paul O’Neill when he was U.S. treasury secretary during the George W. Bush administration.

But Epstein had given the council $350,000 over a decade of membership in the group’s top-level donor category, the Chairman’s Circle, and council leaders now acknowledge that they never discussed what to do about Epstein’s donations after he pleaded guilty to sex crimes in 2008.

“I deeply regret that his conviction did not automatically trigger a review of his membership status,” council president Richard Haass wrote in a note to council members last month.

His email, which was obtained by The Washington Post, made no mention of whether the council ever considered returning or redirecting Epstein’s donations, as some other nonprofits did after his 2008 conviction or his arrest this summer on federal charges of sexually abusing dozens of girls.

The council is the latest institution now confronting questions about how it handled contributions from Epstein, who officials say hanged himself in a New York jail cell last month while awaiting trial.

Supreme Court / Immigration

ny times logoNew York Times, Supreme Court Lets Trump Bar Asylum Seekers as Legal Fight Continues, Adam Liptak, Sept. 11, 2019. The policy requires many Central American migrants to be denied asylum in another country before applying in the United States. It was the second time in recent months that the Supreme Court backed a major Trump administration immigration initiative.

supreme court graphicThe Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the Trump administration to bar most Central American migrants from seeking asylum in the United States, while the legal fight plays out in the courts.

The Supreme Court, in a brief, unsigned order, said the administration may enforce new rules that generally forbid asylum applications from migrants who have traveled through another country on their way to the United States without being denied asylum in that country.

The court’s order was a major victory for the administration, allowing it to enforce a policy that will achieve one of its central goals: effectively barring most migration across the nation’s southwestern border by Hondurans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans and others. Mexican migrants, who need not travel through another country to reach the United States, are not affected by the new policy.

It was the second time in recent months that the Supreme Court has allowed a major Trump administration immigration initiative to go forward. In July, the court allowed the administration to begin using $2.5 billion in Pentagon money for the construction of a barrier along the Mexican border. Last year, the court upheld President Trump’s ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissented, saying the court’s action will “upend longstanding practices regarding refugees who seek shelter from persecution.”

The rules reversed longstanding asylum policies that allowed people to seek haven no matter how they got to the United States. A federal appeals court had largely blocked the policy.

Lee Gelernt, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the challengers in the new case, stressed that the Supreme Court’s action was provisional. “This is just a temporary step,” he said, “and we’re hopeful we’ll prevail at the end of the day. The lives of thousands of families are at stake.”

The case will almost certainly return to the Supreme Court, but that will take many months.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes amid surge in youth vaping, Laurie McGinley​, Sept. 12, 2019 (print ed.). Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced that the Food and Drug Administration intends “to clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump pushed staff to address NOAA tweet that contradicted his inaccurate claim, Andrew Freedman, Josh Dawsey, Juliet Eilperin and Jason Samenow​, Sept. 12, 2019 (print ed.). The president’s instruction led chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to call Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who instructed NOAA officials to put out a statement buttressing Trump's contention that Hurricane Dorian posed a threat to Alabama, according to officials.

washington post logopurdue pharma logoWashington Post, Purdue Pharma reaches tentative deal in federal opioids lawsuit, Aaron Davis, Lenny Bernstein, Joel Achenbach and Scott Higham​, Sept. 12, 2019 (print ed.). More than 20 state attorneys general who also sued the OxyContin maker are willing to accept the deal, but others remain opposed.

Global Affairs

ap logoAssociated Press via Washington Post, Russian spy case provides test for news outlets, David Bauderm, Sept. 12, 2019. He may be A spy. But is he THE spy? That’s the question bedeviling news organizations reporting on a story about the U.S. extracting a Russian official who provided information about Kremlin interference in the 2016 presidential election. CNN on Monday revealed the secret mission to remove the man and his family out of Russia for fear his life was in danger.

russian flagThe network did not identify the alleged spy. With government secrets and lives at stake, espionage is usually shrouded in secrecy.

Yet the Russian newspaper Kommersant on Tuesday named an individual it said was a missing member of Vladimir Putin’s administration and suggested that he was an agent who provided the United States with information about the election. That night, NBC News posted a story about a “former senior Russian official” who was living in the Washington area under U.S. government protection, citing current and former government officials.

U.S. Abuse of Power

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside the lavish globe-trotting life of Bishop Michael Bransfield, Shawn Boburg and Robert O'Harrow Jr., Sept. 12, 2019. The Catholic cleric spent millions of dollars of his diocese’s money on sumptuous travel during his 13 years in largely impoverished West Virginia before he was barred from public ministry in July, a Post investigation found.

RFK Jr. Levels Murder Charge

Daily Mail, Robert F Kennedy was assassinated by Thane Eugene Cesar declares RFK Jr, who says it was the security guard who fatally shot his father from behind after planning the murder with Sirhan Sirhan, Chris Spargo, Sept. 12, 2019.

• Robert F Kennedy Jr is accusing Thane Eugene Cesar of murdering his father, claiming he fatally shot the presidential hopeful from behind in 1968
• He believes that Cesar was working with Sirhan Sirhan and guided Kennedy towards the Palestinian-born gunman while working security that night
• RFK Jr said Sirhan fired once in Kennedy's direction and then into the crowd, while Cesar then the fatal bullet as the senator from NY fell to the floor
• There are others who believe there were two gunmen that night, a theory that was bolstered when the coroner determined Kennedy was shot from behind
• RFK Jr made this claim just hours after Cesar passed away in the Philippines, where he moved shortly after the assassination, and called for a new probe
• 'The LAPD unit that investigated my dad’s assassination was run by active CIA operatives. They destroyed thousands of pieces of evidence,' claimed RFK Jr.

Sept. 11

Trump White House

john bolton gage skidmore via flickr

John Bolton, shown in a file photo by Gage Skidmore.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Ousts John Bolton as National Security Adviser, Disagreements on Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan Come to a Head, Peter Baker, Sept. 11, 2019 (print ed.). “I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions,” President Trump said on Twitter when announcing his decision. Mr. Bolton, a foreign policy hawk, denied he was fired, saying he gave in his resignation.

President Trump announced on Tuesday that he had fired John R. Bolton, right, his third national security adviser, amid fundamental disagreements over how to handle major foreign policy challenges like Iran, North Korea and most recently Afghanistan.

donald trump twitter“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House,” the president wrote on Twitter. “I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning. I thank John very much for his service.”

Mr. Bolton offered a different version of how the end came in his own message on Twitter shortly afterward. “I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow,’” Mr. Bolton wrote, without elaborating. Responding to a question from The New York Times via text message, Mr. Bolton said it was his initiative. “Offered last night without his asking,” he wrote. “Slept on it and gave it to him this morning.”

mike pompeo portraitMr. Trump said he would appoint someone “next week,” setting off a process that should reveal where the president wants to take his foreign policy in the remaining time before next year’s election. In the meantime, a White House spokesman said Charles Kupperman, the deputy national security adviser, would be his acting adviser.

The national security adviser’s dismissal came so abruptly that it was announced barely an hour after the White House scheduled a briefing for 1:30 p.m. where Mr. Bolton was supposed to appear alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right,and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. But Mr. Bolton is reported to have now left the White House.

Climate Change

climate change photo

washington post logoWashington Post, Dangerous new hot zones are spreading around the world, ming threshold, a Washington Post investigation has found, Chris Mooney and John Muyskens | Photos and video by Carolyn Van Houtem, Sept. 11, 2019. Major parts of the globe have already passed the 2 degrees Celsius of warning threshold, a Washington Post investigation has found.

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Fewer Americans Live in Poverty, but More Lack Health Insurance, Ben Casselman, Margot Sanger-Katz and Jeanna Smialek, Sept. 11, 2019 (print ed.). The rise in uninsured in 2018, despite a strong economy, was the first since 2009 and at least partly caused by efforts to weaken the Affordable Care Act.

Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s approval Rating falls amid recession, trade war fears, Toluse Olorunnipa and Scott Clement, Sept. 11, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s Democratic-Republican Campaign logosapproval rating in the Washington Post-ABC News poll stands at 38 percent, down from 44 percent in June. The poll shows how one of Trump’s key arguments for reelection — a strong economy — shows signs of potential turmoil.

U.S. House Impeachment Plan

washington post logoWashington Post, Judiciary Committee Democrats map out possible impeachment articles against Trump, Rachael Bade, Sept. 12, 2019. The discussions, closely held and preliminary, include a range of allegations. But several congressional aides caution that the articles may never be drafted.

President Donald Trump officialA group of Judiciary Committee Democrats has begun privately mapping a list of possible charges against President Trump, sketching out the contours of potential articles of impeachment even as House leaders publicly resist taking such action, according to a half-dozen lawmakers and congressional aides.

The closely held, informal discussions between some committee lawmakers and aides close to the investigations say the charges include a range of allegations — some that echo charges against former president Richard M. Nixon: obstruction of justice, abuse of power and defiance of subpoenas, as well as violation of campaign finance law and allegations of self-enrichment, said the individuals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of their work.

The Judiciary Committee believes it has identified five areas of potential obstruction in former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, episodes Democrats will explore further during a hearing Tuesday with former Trump campaign official Corey Lewandowski and other ex-Trump aides.

Inside DC

washington post logoAmerican FlagWashington Post, This federal agency’s HQ is moving to Colorado. Is it bureaucratic efficiency or an efficient way to cull federal employees? Joe Davidson​, Sept. 11, 2019. The Bureau of Land Management says having more of its employees out west would improve decision-making and save money.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump escalates attacks on Fed, says it should cut interest rates to zero — or even set negative rates, Taylor Telford and David J. Lynch​, Sept. 11, 2019. The president’s tweets came days after a disappointing jobs report and a week ahead of the Fed board's next meeting.

#MeToo In Military

ny times logoNew York Times, Six Men Tell Their Stories of Sexual Assault in the Military, Staff report, Sept. 11, 2019. More than 100,000 men have been sexually assaulted in the military in recent decades. Shame and stigma kept the majority from coming forward. Sexual assaujlt in the military is a problem widely recognized but poorly understood. Elected officials and Pentagon leaders have tended to focus on the thousands of women who have been preyed upon while in uniform. But over the years, more of the victims have been men.

Department of Defense SealOn average, about 10,000 men are sexually assaulted in the American military each year, according to Pentagon statistics. Overwhelmingly, the victims are young and low-ranking. Many struggle afterward, are kicked out of the military and have trouble finding their footing in civilian life.

For decades, the fallout from the vast majority of male sexual assaults in uniform was silence: Silence of victims too humiliated to report the crime, silence of authorities unequipped to pursue it, silence of commands that believed no problem existed, and silence of families too ashamed to protest.

Women face a much higher rate of sexual assault in the military — about seven times that of men. But there are so many more men than women in the ranks that the total numbers of male and female victims in recent years have been roughly similar, according to Pentagon statistics — about 10,000 a year. And before women were fully integrated into the armed services, the bulk of the victims were men.

U.S. Law & Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, Michael Flynn sentencing set for Dec. 18 in case where he pleaded guilty to lying to FBI, Spencer S. Hsu, Sept. 11, 2019 (print ed.). Prosecutors and Flynn’s new defense team continued to spar, with prosecutors warning they reserved the option to recommend prison not probation. A federal judge on Tuesday set sentencing for Dec. 18 for President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn as prosecutors said they reserved the option of seeking prison time for Flynn, which would reverse an earlier recommendation of probation.

michael flynn state department CustomAssistant U.S. Attorney Brandon L. Van Grack said the government will file new sentencing papers as Flynn’s defense team escalated its legal fight to have a court in Washington toss his prosecution because of alleged misconduct by former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation.

Flynn, left, pleaded guilty on Dec. 1, 2017, to lying to the FBI about contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, becoming one of the first Trump associates to cooperate and the highest-ranking official charged in Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan set an Oct. 31 hearing to weigh Flynn’s allegations that prosecutors withheld classified information and other evidence they assert would help his case.

But even as he did, Sullivan pressed Flynn’s team about the relevance of its claims and said both sides would have to ponder how to proceed if the government stands by its position that no such evidence exists.

“Is that where this is headed . . .” Sullivan asked Flynn attorney Sidney Powell, “to say, what, he’s innocent of this charge?”

Powell replied: “To say this entire prosecution should be dismissed for egregious government misconduct and suppression” of evidence potentially beneficial to Flynn.

Flynn earlier this year fired the defense team that negotiated his plea, and Powell reversed course, asking Sullivan in an Aug. 30 filing to find prosecutors in contempt for allegedly withholding information to coerce the plea from the former three-star general.

U.S. Jobs, Labor

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Take That ‘Gig’ and Shove It, Editorial Board, Sept. 11, 2019. A California bill would make it harder for companies like Uber to take advantage of workers. Other states should borrow the idea. Corporate America has made a lot of money by treating millions of workers as independent contractors, denying them basic legal protections enjoyed by employees.

California is now on the verge of taking an important step to curb that sham.

The State Assembly passed a bill Wednesday that imposes strict limits on who can be classified as a contractor. The State Senate has already passed the measure, and Gov. Gavin Newsom has said that he will sign it into law. Beginning next year, companies like Uber, Lyft and other giants of the gig economy would be forced to treat hundreds of thousands of workers as employees

Global News

washington post logoPresident Donald Trump officialWashington Post, Trump pronounces Taliban agreement ‘dead’ and peace talks over, Karen DeYoung, Josh Dawsey and Missy Ryan, Sept. 11, 2019 (print ed.). Dissension within the administration over the issue is “really heating up,” according to a senior administration official.

ny times logoNew York Times, Netanyahu Pledges to Annex Much of West Bank, David M. Halbfinger, Sept. 11, 2019 (print ed.). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces a difficult election next week, said he would annex the strategic Jordan Valley, a move that would reduce any future Palestinian state to an enclave encircled by Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said Tuesday that he would move swiftly to annex nearly a third of the occupied West Bank if voters returned him to power in the election next week, a change that would dramatically reshape the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel FlagHis plan to annex territory along the Jordan River would give the nation “secure, permanent borders” to the east for the first time in its history, he said.

But it would also reduce any future Palestinian state to an enclave encircled by Israel. And Mr. Netanyahu’s rivals on the left and right largely greeted the announcement, made in the heat of a campaign in which he is battling for survival, as a political ploy. Israel seized the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war. Most of the world considers it occupied territory and Israeli settlements or annexations there to be illegal.

ny times logoNew York Times, Turkey’s Radical Plan: Send a Million Refugees Back to Syria, Carlotta Gall, Sept. 11, 2019 (print ed.). President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pushing to resettle refugees in a part of Syria controlled by the United States and its Kurdish allies. If that does not happen, he is threatening to send a flood of Syrian migrants to Europe.

recep erdogan with flagTurkey, which for eight years has welcomed millions of Syrian refugees, has reversed course, forcing thousands to leave its major cities in recent weeks and ferrying many of them to its border with Syria in white buses and police vans.

Mr. Erdogan, left, has long demanded a buffer zone along Turkey’s border with Syria to keep out Kurdish forces, whom he considers a security threat.

But he has repackaged the idea for the zone as a refuge for Syrians fleeing the war — acting as resentment against Syrians in Turkey has increased, and a Syrian and Russian offensive in Syria has sent hundreds of thousands more refugees fleeing toward the Turkish border.

Sept. 10

Corrupt Justice Department?

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: How Democracy Dies, American-Style, Paul Krugman, right, Sept. 10, 2019 (print ed.). Sharpies, auto emissions and the weaponization of policy. Authoritarianism is on the march across much of the world, but its advance tends to be relatively quiet and gradual, so that it’s hard to point to a single moment and say, this is the day democracy ended. You just wake up one morning and realize that it’s gone.

In their 2018 book How Democracies Die, the political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt documented how this process has played out in many countries, from Vladimir Putin’s Russia, to Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey, to Viktor Orban’s Hungary.

Justice Department log circularAnd the events of the past week have demonstrated how this can happen right here in America [in] the Justice Department’s decision to investigate automakers for the crime of trying to act responsibly. Now, according to The Wall Street Journal, the Justice Department is considering bringing an antitrust action against those companies, as if agreeing on environmental standards were a crime comparable to, say, price-fixing.

And it’s also clear evidence that the Justice Department has been thoroughly corrupted. In less than three years it has been transformed from an agency that tries to enforce the law to an organization dedicated to punishing Trump’s opponents.

FBI logoWho’s next? In at least two cases, Trump appears to have tried to use his power to punish Amazon, whose founder, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post, which the president considers (like this newspaper) to be an enemy. First he pushed for an increase in the post office’s package shipping rates, amazon logo smallwhich would hurt Amazon’s delivery costs; then the Pentagon suddenly announced that it was re-examining the process for awarding a huge cloud-computing project that Amazon was widely expected to win.

In each case it’s hard to prove that these were efforts to weaponize government functions against domestic critics. But who are we kidding? Of course they were.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Republican pulls out narrow win in N.C. House race, Mike DeBonis and Laura Hughes, Sept. 10, 2019. Dan Bishop’s victory came a day after President Trump campaigned to help boost the state lawmaker in the surprisingly competitive race.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosRepublican Dan Bishop pulled out a narrow win in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District on Tuesday, giving the GOP a victory in a district that President Trump won easily in 2016 but which proved to be a fierce battleground in unusual back-to-back House campaigns.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Bishop led Democrat Dan McCready by more than two percentage points in a special election called after allegations of fraud against McCready’s initial GOP opponent upended a razor-thin election last November.

Global News

washington post logounited kingdom flagWashington Post, A chaotic night in Britain’s Parliament leaves Johnson with bleak choices on Brexit, Griff Witte and Karla Adam, Sept. 10, 2019. With Parliament suspended for the next five weeks, the prime minister has virtually no chance of getting a vote before Oct. 31, the deadline by which Britain is due to leave the European Union.

Trump Watchdjt rudy giuliani Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani just became a huge problem for Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Sept. 10, 2019. Rudy Giuliani, ostensibly at the direction of Donald Trump, tried to get the government of Ukraine to work with him to manufacture a phony scandal about Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. This was supposed to taint Joe Biden’s 2020 candidacy, and thus magically hand the 2020 election to Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerNot only did the American media decline to run with the phony Joe Biden scandal, the media also quickly sussed out that Rudy Giuliani was behind the whole thing. Since that time it’s become clear that either Rudy committed a felony by trying to negotiate with Ukraine on his own without involving the U.S. government, or Rudy was working with the Trump regime on this plot. If it’s the latter, and it probably is, Rudy will have to throw Trump under the bus in order to avoid prison.

That’s why three different House committees are now launching investigations into just what Rudy Giuliani was trying to do with the government of Ukraine. It’s the kind of full-court press that’ll destroy Giuliani unless he cuts a deal.

UK Parliamentary Crisis

Channel 4 (London), The moment parliament was suspended for five weeks amid Brexit crisis, Sept. 10, 2019.  This is the moment parliament was suspended for five weeks, less than two months before the Brexit deadline, with fiery Speaker John Bercow presiding.

WikiLeaks, War Crimes Debated

Real Clear Politics, Meghan McCain vs. Pam Anderson: Snowden, Manning And Assange Are "Heroes," How Many Innocents Has U.S. Government Killed? Tim Hains, Sept. 10, 2019. Outspoken pro-WikiLeaks activist and former "Baywatch" star Pamela Anderson talked about the WikiLeaks founder on "The View" in her first TV interview since visiting him in May.

"You know who puts national security at risk? The military," Anderson said. "How many people has the American government killed innocently, and how many has WikiLeaks?"

More On U.S. Justice Dept.

washington post logoWashington Post, Former FBI analyst admits snooping on anti-Mueller conspiracy theorist, Rachel Weiner, Sept. 10, 2019. A former analyst for the FBI admitted Tuesday to copying the private emails of a conservative conspiracy theorist and sharing them with his superiors while his wife offered them to the press.

FBI logoMark Tolson, 60, pleaded guilty in federal court in Alexandria, Va., to one misdemeanor count of accessing without authorization the email account of lobbyist Jack Burkman. Burkman is identified in the court documents by the initials “J.B.”

Tolson’s wife, Sarah Gilbert Fox, worked for Burkman from October 2017 to early summer 2018 and had access to his email, according to a statement of facts. Tolson learned in October that Burkman, who gained prominence for conspiracy theories about the death of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, was planning a news conference claiming that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III committed sexual assault. The woman never appeared, and Mueller asked the FBI to examine claims that she was offered money to fabricate the accusation. Burkman has denied offering anyone money for testimony.

According to prosecutors, Tolson asked his wife to see whether she still had access to Burkman’s account, and they spent 15 or 20 minutes reviewing, photographing and printing “emails of interest.” When they tried to log in again, they were denied access.

Fox and Tolson both then contacted a reporter to share the information and offered to provide Burkman’s password. The reporter declined to accept the password.

On Nov. 1, 2018, Tolson emailed an FBI official to request a meeting on an “urgent” matter, according to the statement of facts. They met later that day, and Tolson handed over an envelope containing the emails, which he believed might be “illegal.”

Burkman’s partner in the Mueller stunt, a young conservative operative named Jacob Wohl, was recently charged with a felony in California in connection with a house-flipping scheme. Burkman was also the victim of another crime related to his conspiratorial work; last year a man he hired to investigate Rich’s death shot and nearly killed him after a falling out.

U.S. Politics

FrontPageLive, Valerie Plame: “Mr. President, I’ve got a few scores to settle” – a betrayed CIA agent is running for Congress, Staff report, Sept. 10, 2019. You’ve probably valerie plameheard her name: Valerie Plame — the ex CIA undercover operative notoriously outed by the former VP Dick Cheney’s team as petty retaliation against her husband, Joseph Wilson for a New York Times article “What I Didn’t Find in Africa” he wrote. The Plame affair (also known as the CIA leak scandal and Plamegate) was a political scandal that revolved around journalist Robert Novak’s public identification of Valerie Plame as a covert Central Intelligence Agency officer in 2003.

Valerie Plame, author of the memoir Fair Game, just posted a campaign ad for her congressional run in New Mexico as a Democratic Party candidate. Several people on Twitter think it might be the best political trailer of the year.

Valerie Plame: "I am running for Congress because we’re going backwards on national security, health care, and women’s rights … We need to turn our country around. And, yes, the CIA really does teach us how to drive like this. And Mr. President, I’ve got a few scores to settle.”

Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA operative. Her assignment was preventing rogue states and terrorists from getting nuclear weapons. You name a hot spot… She lived it.

Then Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff took revenge against her husband and leaked her identity. His name? Scooter Libby. Guess who pardoned him last year? Donald J. Trump.

Montgomery Advertiser, DNC Chair: Alabama Democrats not getting party-building funds, Brian Lyman, Sept. 10, 2019 (updated). The chairman of the Democratic National Committee Monday said the DNC has been withholding some payments from the Alabama Democratic Party due to a failure to develop a strategic plan or invest in state party infrastructure.

In a letter to Jefferson County Democratic Party chair Richard Mauk, Tom Perez wrote that the party held up at least $10,000 a month in payments to the state party.

dnc square logo“Alabama has fallen far short of meeting its basic obligations to develop an effective strategic plan and build the necessary infrastructure for success,” Perez wrote in the letter. “The ADP has chronically underperformed in virtually every aspect of operation.”
The sign in front of the Alabama Democratic Party headquarters

democratic donkey logoThe sign in front of the Alabama Democratic Party headquarters in Montgomery features the donkey symbol. (Photo: Phillip Rawls/AP)

The letter is the latest sign of mounting impatience from the national party with the current leadership of the Alabama Democratic Party. The DNC last month stripped Alabama Democratic Party chair Nancy Worley and vice-chair Randy Kelley of their credentials, accusing the leaders of dragging their feet in implementing by-law changes and holding new leadership elections, as ordered by the national party in February.

djt mike pence

Palmer Report, Opinion: Full blown war breaks out between Donald Trump and Mike Pence, Bill Palmer, Sept. 10, 2019. When Donald Trump announced this morning that he was forcing National Security Adviser John Bolton to resign, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. In fact, if you’ve been reading Palmer Report, it didn’t come as much of a surprise, because a veritable flame war has been erupting between Trump and Mike Pence for the past several days, and Bolton has been caught right in the middle of it.

bill palmer report logo headerFirst came reports late last week that Donald Trump and Mike Pence have spent the past year feuding over Pence’s future political ambitions. This surfaced, incidentally, on the same day we learned that Pence had stayed at a Trump resort on the taxpayer dime, which in turn blew the lid off Trump’s larger long-running resort grift. Then Trump publicly laid the blame for the scandal at Pence’s feet. Then Trump’s Taliban Camp David meeting blew up in his face. Then came the leak to CNN yesterday that Pence and John Bolton had tried to talk Trump out of the meeting.

As Palmer Report explained yesterday, this leak could only have come from Pence and Bolton, or else it wouldn’t have been considered credible enough to have gotten printed. Donald Trump surely knew this when he saw it. He understood that Pence and Bolton were trying to protect their own reputations by hanging him out to dry on the failed Taliban stunt. Trump can’t fire Pence – at least not in the middle of the term – so he fired Bolton.

Make no mistake about what’s going on here. It’s easy to see from a mile away that Donald Trump has declared war on Mike Pence, and his ouster of John Bolton – a Pence ally – is part of it. In fact it’s fair to argue that it was Pence who declared war first, when he and Bolton leaked their Taliban dissent. This is going to get uglier going forward. Pence is the one person Trump can’t actually fire. But he can humiliate Pence from now through the election, and he can try to dump Pence from the ticket if the GOP will let him. Buckle up.

Sept. 9

Trump Probes

jerry nadler close up committee unsourced Custom

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), shown in a file photo.

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats to Broaden Impeachment Inquiry Into Trump, Nicholas Fandos, Sept. 9, 2019 (print ed.). Lawmakers plan to examine claims that the president dangled pardons to aides and that his resorts illegally profited from government business.

House Democrats return to Washington this week poised to significantly broaden their nascent impeachment inquiry into President Trump beyond the findings of the Russia investigation, but they will confront a fast-dwindling political clock.

Undeterred by lackluster public support for impeachment, Democratic lawmakers and aides have sketched out a robust four-month itinerary of hearings and court arguments that they hope will provide the evidence they need to credibly portray Mr. Trump as corrupt and abusing his power.

Beyond the president’s efforts to impede the special counsel’s investigation, Democrats also plan to scrutinize his role in hush payments to two women who said they had affairs with him and reports that he dangled pardons to officials willing to break the law to implement his immigration policies. Democrats also demanded documents last week related to whether his resort properties illegally profited from government business.

Law & Crime, House Intel Committee Turns Up the Heat, ‘Commands’ Michael Flynn to Comply with Subpoena, Matt Naham, Sept. 9, 2019. A day ahead a scheduled court appearance for Michael Flynn, we’ve learned that on last Friday House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) sent a 5-page letter commanding Flynn comply with a subpoena by appearing before the Committee on Sept. 25.

michael flynn state department CustomFlynn, left, a former Trump National Security Advisor, pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to FBI agents about his communication with the then-Russian ambassador during the presidential transition. He promised to cooperate and was even credited for providing “substantial assistance” to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. But Flynn’s sentencing has been pushed back repeatedly.

In a recent filing, Flynn’s lawyers went so far as to accuse prosecutors of withholding exculpatory evidence.

Global News

ny times logoNew York Times, Afghanistan Braces for Violence After Talks Are Called Off, David E. Sanger and Mujib Mashal, Sept. 9, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s decision to break off peace talks with the Taliban left the country bracing for a bloody prelude to national elections this month. The administration declined to rule out a withdrawal of American troops without a peace accord.

In a round of television interviews, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed an attack by the Taliban for the cancellation of talks at Camp David this weekend that the administration had expected would lead to the signing of a peace agreement.

ny times logoNew York Times, For Boris Johnson, Another Bad Day and Another Big Defeat in Parliament, Stephen Castle, Sept. 9, 2019. British lawmakers, capping what may be one of the most abysmal starts any British leader has ever endured, on Monday rejected Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s bid to hold a new national election.

For Britain’s bare-knuckled new prime minister, it was a day of defeat. Parliament’s rejection of a snap election came as a new law went into effect on Monday blocking Mr. Johnson from pursuing a “no deal” withdrawal from the European Union.

Parliament is now suspended until mid-October, the result of earlier political maneuvering by the prime minister. But by Monday’s end, it seemed clear that if Mr. Johnson had thought he could outfox Parliament by suspending it, sidelining lawmakers at a critical moment in the Brexit debate, he was the one who had been outmaneuvered.

Now, the man who promised to deliver Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union “do or die,” formal withdrawal agreement or not, is suddenly flailing for a new strategy. Mr. Johnson needed more than 430 votes for a snap election to proceed. He got 293.

djt boris johnson

ny times logoNew York Times, Boris Johnson Finds His Party Loyalists Aren’t as Loyal as Trump’s, Mark Landler, Sept. 9, 2019 (print ed.). However distasteful Republicans may find President Trump, they largely back his agenda. In Britain, rebels in the Conservative Party have staged a dramatic insurrection.

The Tory party’s revolt against Mr. Johnson (at left above), and his ruthless purging of the rebels, are reverberating through British politics, threatening his hold on power. For dispirited Republicans, though, this British revolution has become an object lesson in how a center-right party can stand up to a wayward leader.

Hurricane Fallout

djt alabama dorian chart

ny times logoNew York Times, Commerce Chief Threatened Firings at NOAA After Trump’s Dorian Tweets, Sources Say, Christopher Flavelle, Lisa Friedman and Peter Baker, Sept. 9, 2019. The Secretary of Commerce threatened to fire top employees at NOAA on Friday after the agency’s Birmingham office contradicted President Trump’s claim (shown above) that Hurricane Dorian might hit Alabama, according to three people familiar with the discussion.

That threat led to an unusual, unsigned statement later that Friday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration disavowing the office’s own position that Alabama was not at risk. The reversal caused widespread anger within the agency and drew criticism from the scientific community that NOAA, a division of the Commerce Department, had been bent to political purposes.

wilbur rossThe actions by the Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur L. Ross Jr., right, are the latest developments in a political imbroglio that began more than a week ago, when Dorian was bearing down on the Bahamas and Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter that Alabama would be hit “harder than anticipated.” A few minutes later, the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Ala., posted on Twitter that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama.”

 ny times logoNew York Times, Dozens of Bahamas residents hoping to seek refuge were kicked off a ferry headed for Florida because they had no visas, Caitlin Dickerson
Sept. 9, 2019. Dozens of weary Bahamas residents hoping to seek refuge in the United States from the storm-ravaged islands were kicked off a ferry headed for Florida on Sunday night, after an announcement on board that anyone without a valid visa would “have problems” at the American port of entry.

Videos of the incident, which occurred after an apparent failure of communication between the company operating the ferry and United States authorities, spread rapidly on social media. Frustrated passengers were lamenting that their hopes of getting away from Hurricane Dorian’s devastation had been suddenly dashed.

“At the last minute like this,” said one passenger, Renard Oliver, who held onto a toddler as he spoke to a reporter with the Miami television station WSVN. “It’s hurtful because I’m watching my daughters cry, but it is what it is.”

United States authorities issued conflicting statements about the matter in a space of a few hours on Monday, adding to the confusion and frustration among hurricane survivors.

Presidential Powers

ny times logoNew York Times, Executive Power Survey, Charlie Savage, Sept. 9, 2019. We asked 2020 candidates how they would wield presidential power. Here is what they said.

UK Parliamentary Crisis

Guardian, Tearful John Bercow reveals he will step down as Speaker by 31 October – video, Sept. 9, 2019. Speaker John Bercow, right, has said he will stand down as the john bercow parliament speaker conservativeHouse of Commons Speaker, as well as an MP, before the end of next month. The colourful Speaker, famous for his bellowing cries of 'Order!' during raucous debates, will quit on 31 October, the same day Britain is due to leave the EU, unless an election is called before then.

Throughout the three years since Britain voted to leave the EU, Bercow has angered the Conservative government by repeatedly allowing lawmakers to seize control of parliament's agenda to steer the course of Brexit. He said he was simply fulfilling his role of letting parliament have its say, adding that he had always 'sought to be the backbenchers' backstop.'

Trafficking, #MeToo Scandals

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Epstein connection to Southeast Asian pedophile ring, Wayne Madsen, Sept. 9, 2019 (subscription required, excerpted with permission). New Yorker writer Ronan Farrow reported in a September 6 article that M.I.T. Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts continued to receive massive amounts of donations, far in excess of what the MIT logoinstitution reported, from convicted underage sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

M.I.T. Media Lab’s connections to Epstein are extremely relevant to WMR’s expose of the Media Lab’s links to a Cambodian orphanage in Phnom Penh victimized by an international pedophile ring.

ny times logoNew York Times, Previously Unknown Sources Come Forward in a New Book About Harvey Weinstein, Alexandra Alter, Sept. 9, 2019. Two years before harvey weinsteinthe allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against Harvey Weinstein, right, became public, his own brother and business partner, Bob Weinstein, confronted him, pleading with him to get medical treatment for what he described as many years of “misbehavior.”

“You have brought shame to the family and your company through your misbehavior,” Bob Weinstein wrote. “Your reaction was once more to blame the victims, or to minimize the misbehavior in various ways. If you think nothing is wrong with your misbehavior so in this area then announce it to your wife and family.”

The previously unreported letter is reprinted in full in She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement, a new book by jodi kantor megan twohey she said coverJodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, two reporters at The New York Times who broke the story of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged misdeeds, helping to spark the global #MeToo reckoning. The book, to be published on Tuesday by Penguin Press, sheds new light on the roles that several figures played in enabling Mr. Weinstein and covering up his misdeeds, and names key sources who helped reporters break the story — including company officials, Hollywood stars and other victims of the producer’s alleged abuse.

Drawing on new reporting and previously undisclosed corporate records, emails and text messages, She Said uncovers more on the extent of Mr. Weinstein’s alleged transgressions, and the labyrinth of secret settlements and restrictive nondisclosure agreements that allowed Mr. Weinstein and other men in positions of power to conceal their behavior and thrive in their careers, in some cases finding new victims.

U.S. 2020 Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Confronting Critics, Kamala Harris Releases a Criminal Justice Plan, Astead W. Herndon, Sept. 9, 2019. Ms. Harris says her prosecutorial career has prepared her to deliver a criminal justice overhaul. But her critics say she has been part of the problem.

kamala harris portraitSenator Kamala Harris of California, right, released a sweeping proposal on Monday to overhaul the criminal justice system, vowing to end mass incarceration and revamp police practices through a progressive wish list of policies, including some ideas Ms. Harris previously rejected during her years as a district attorney and state attorney general.

For months, Democratic presidential candidates have courted liberal activists with wide-ranging criminal justice plans, but Ms. Harris’s plan carries special significance. She has long cast herself as a “progressive prosecutor,” but some criminal justice experts and activists have balked at that characterization, saying she operated with the same “tough on crime” instincts that helped create the criminal justice problems she now seeks to solve.

The plan, perhaps the most ambitious effort of Ms. Harris’s campaign so far, focuses on reducing the prison population, creating national standards in policing, ensuring humane treatment for incarcerated people and prioritizing historically vulnerable communities. It also embraces ideas that have gone from the policy fringe to largely consensus positions popular among Democrats, including ending mandatory minimum sentences, eliminating private prisons, legalizing marijuana and incentivizing states to untether themselves from a cash bail system that disproportionately burdens the poor.

Previewing the plan in an interview with the New York Times, Ms. Harris painted it as a full-circle moment in her decades-long career in law enforcement. Her pitch to voters, she said, was that her years spent trying to change the criminal justice system from the inside had uniquely prepared her to lead its overhaul from the executive branch.

Other Democratic candidates have also released robust positions on criminal justice.

U.S. Torture

jacob hornberger newThe Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: The Pentagon’s Upcoming Kangaroo Show Trial in Cuba, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Sept. 9, 2019. After 18 years, there is a possibility that the Pentagon is finally going to permit a “trial” of five men who are accused of conspiracy to commit the 9/11 attacks. If so, the proceedings will prove what a charade the Pentagon’s entire “judicial system” at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been and continues to be. In fact, the trial, if it is even permitted to take place, will serve as a mirror for how “trials” are conducted in communist China or, for matter, in communist Cuba.

Let’s review how the Pentagon’s “judicial” system got established in the first place. After the 9/11 attacks, the Pentagon decided to establish a prison, torture center, and “judicial” system for accused terrorists that it would be capturing and kidnapping around the world. It decided to locate this center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Why Cuba rather than somewhere in the United States? The Pentagon wanted to make certain that it would have omnipotent power to run its center any way it wanted, without having to bother with the rights and guarantees enumerated in the Constitution, especially in the Bill of Rights. It also didn’t want any interference with its operation from the U.S. Supreme Court and the rest of the federal judiciary. In other words, the Pentagon wanted a Constitution-free zone in which to operate its prison, torture center, and “judicial” system.

Ultimately, much to the Pentagon’s chagrin, the Supreme Court ruled that it did have ultimate jurisdiction over the Guantanamo operations. However, while the federal judiciary has accepted some petitions for writ of habeas corpus from Guantanamo inmates, overall it has followed its longtime policy of deference to the national-security establishment when it comes to matters of “national security.”

What the Supreme Court should have done from the very beginning was to order a complete shutdown of the Pentagon’s prison, torture center, and “judicial” system at Guantanamo Bay. There is a simple reason for that: the Constitution, which is the higher law that controls the actions of federal officials, including the Pentagon, does not authorize the Pentagon to operate such a center.

It is critically important to keep in mind that terrorism is not an act of war. Instead, it is a federal criminal offense. That is why there are terrorism trials in federal courts in New York, Washington, D.C., Virginia, and elsewhere. Terrorism is listed among federal crimes in the U.S. Code. In fact, the Pentagon’s upcoming “trial” in Cuba is itself an acknowledgement that terrorism is, in fact, a criminal offense, one that here is being prosecuted by the Pentagon in Cuba rather than by the U.S. Justice Department in federal district court here in the United States.

Two different systems

It is also critically important to recognize that the Constitution does not provide for two separate judicial systems to try criminal cases, one run by the military and the other run by the federal courts. The Constitution provides for only one judicial system for all criminal offenses, including terrorism cases.

It is also critically important to recognize that the principles being followed in both systems — the federal court system and the military system — are as different as night and day.

In the federal court system, people who are accused of terrorism or any other crimes are presumed innocent. Judges and law-enforcement personnel are prohibited from torturing people or inflicting other “cruel and unusual” punishments on them. An accused has the right to remain silent — i.e., no forced confessions. Communications between attorney and client are confidential. The accused has the right to confront his accusers — i.e., hearsay evidence is inadmissible. Trials can be by jury, where ordinary citizens, not a judge, decide the facts of the case and the guilt or innocence of the accused. Trials must be speedy — i.e., no 18-year delay, as there has been in the Pentagon’s system.

Things are the exact opposite in the Pentagon’s system, which is precisely it established its system in Cuba rather than the United States. Remember: the Pentagon’s goal is establishing its center in Cuba was to avoid the principles of the Constitution and the interference of the Supreme Court.

Why would the military want to avoid the principles of the Constitution, especially given that military personnel take oaths to support and defend the Constitution? The answer lies in the conservative military mindset that has long held that the Bill of Rights consists of constitutional “technicalities” that permit guilty people to go free. By establishing an independent prison, torture center, and “judicial” system at Gitmo, the Pentagon was going to show the American people and the world what a “real” judicial system should look like, one where “the guilty” had what was coming to them and where there was no possibility of an acquittal by some ignorant jury.

Thus, under the Pentagon’s system, the accused are presumed guilty. They are subject to being brutally tortured, not only to secure information but also confessions. Forced confessions are admissible at trial. There is no right of trial by jury. A tribunal of military personnel, all of whom are answerable to the President, decide the facts in the case and the guilt of innocent of the accused. Communications between attorney and client are secretly monitored. Hearsay evidence is admissible. Trials can be delayed indefinitely, even forever. The outcome of the “trial” is not in doubt.

More On CIA's Drug Program

npr logoNational Public Radio (NPR), The CIA's Secret Quest For Mind Control: Torture, LSD And A 'Poisoner In Chief,' Host Terry Gross interviews author Stephen Kinzer about his new book, Poisoner in Chief), Sept. 9, 2019. (37:36 min.). CIA sidney gottliebchemist Sidney Gottlieb (right, shown in a CIA photo) headed up the agency's secret MK-ULTRA program, which was charged with developing a mind control drug that could be weaponized against enemies.

During the early period of the Cold War, the CIA became convinced that communists had discovered a drug or technique that would allow them to control human minds. In response, the CIA began its own secret program, called MK-ULTRA, to search for a mind control drug that could be weaponized against enemies.

MK-ULTRA, which operated from the 1950s until the early '60s, was created and run by a chemist named Sidney Gottlieb. Journalist Stephen Kinzer, who spent several years investigating the program, calls the operation the "most sustained search in history for techniques of mind control."

stephen kinzer poisoner coverSome of Gottlieb's experiments were covertly funded at universities and research centers, Kinzer says, while others were conducted in American prisons and in detention centers in Japan, Germany and the Philippines. Many of his unwitting subjects endured psychological torture ranging from electroshock to high doses of LSD, according to Kinzer's research.

"Gottlieb wanted to create a way to seize control of people's minds, and he realized it was a two-part process," Kinzer says. "First, you had to blast away the existing mind. Second, you had to find a way to insert a new mind into that resulting void. We didn't get too far on number two, but he did a lot of work on number one."

Kinzer notes that the top-secret nature of Gottlieb's work makes it impossible to measure the human cost of his experiments. "We don't know how many people died, but a number did, and many lives were permanently destroyed," he says.

Ultimately, Gottlieb concluded that mind control was not possible. After MK-ULTRA shut down, he went on to lead a CIA program that created poisons and high-tech gadgets for spies to use.

Sept. 8

Trump Nixes Afghan Summit

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says he canceled secret meeting with Afghan president, Taliban at Camp David, Seung Min Kim and Anne Gearan​, Sept. 8, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump said Saturday that he had canceled a previously undisclosed summit at Camp David with Taliban leadership and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani after the Taliban took responsibility for an attack last week that killed a U.S. soldier.

donald trump twitterTrump said the meetings had been set to take place Sunday. On Twitter, the president appeared to cancel talks with the Taliban indefinitely, a significant blow to the peace process kicked off last year, which was nearing its conclusion.

U.S. Supreme Court

washington post logoWashington Post, Everything conservatives hoped for and liberals feared’: Neil Gorsuch makes his mark at the Supreme Court, Robert Barnes and Seung Min Kim​, Sept. 8, 2019 (print ed.). In a new book and interview, the Supreme Court justice discusses his strong views on the law and the art of judging.

neil gorsuch circuit portraitSome justices ascend to the Supreme Court quietly, deferring to their elders and biding time before venturing out too far to offer their own views of the law.

Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, right, on the other hand, appears to have been shot from a cannon. At his inaugural oral argument in April 2017, President Trump’s first choice for the Supreme Court asked 22 questions. In the term just completed, Gorsuch wrote more dissents than any other justice and typed out a whopping 337 pages of opinions. Again, more than anyone else.

djt maga hatAlong the way, he has established himself as one of the court’s most conservative justices and a reliable vote for Trump initiatives that have reached the Supreme Court — the travel ban on those from mostly-Muslim countries, adding a citizenship question to the census form and allowing a ban on transgender service in the military to go into effect. He has shown a willingness to overturn precedent and an impatience with more reticent colleagues.

“I’m all in, and I wanted to explain that,” Gorsuch said in a recent interview in his chambers. He was referring to A Republic, If You Can Keep It, a book he has written that goes on sale Tuesday. The title is from Benjamin Franklin’s reported comment when asked what kind of government the Founding Fathers would propose.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Supreme Court has become just another arm of the GOP, Sheldon Whitehouse, Sept. 8, 2019 (print ed.). Sheldon Whitehouse, right, a Democrat, represents Rhode Island in the U.S. Senate. Politics is a team sport. We battle, and our courts are supposed to referee our disputes.

sheldon whitehouseBut what if one team spent years and millions of dollars to capture the referees, so the refs could declare that team the winner whenever they fell short on the field? If you were on the other team, you’d cry foul. You’d ask: “Hey, when did the law become a team sport, too?’’
A few weeks ago, several Senate colleagues and I did just that when we filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a case before the Supreme Court in which the National Rifle Association had urged the court to continue its “project” (the NRA’s term) to undermine gun regulations.

We cried foul.

From 2005 through the fall term of 2018, the Roberts court issued 73 5-to-4 partisan decisions benefiting big Republican donor interests: allowing corporations to spend unlimited money in elections; hobbling pollution regulations; enabling attacks on minority voting rights; curtailing labor’s right to organize; denying workers the ability to challenge employers in court; and, of course, expanding the NRA’s gun rights “project.” It’s a pattern.

Of course, in other decisions during that period, such as the 2015 same-sex marriage ruling, a Republican appointed justice joined the liberals. But in its run of 73 partisan 5-to-4 cases, the Republican majority routinely broke traditionally conservative legal principles, such as respect for precedent or “originalist” reading of the Constitution. They even went on remarkable fact-finding expeditions, violating traditions of appellate adjudication.

Trump Faces New GOP Rival

washington post logoWashington Post, Former S.C. congressman Mark Sanford announces Republican primary challenge against Trump, Felicia Sonmez, Sept. 8, 2018. Former congressman Mark Sanford announced Sunday that he will challenge President Trump in the 2020 Republican primary, becoming the third GOP contender in the race to unseat the incumbent.

“I am here to tell you now that I am going to get in,” he said on Fox News Sunday.

“I think we need to have a conversation on what it means to be a Republican,” Sanford added. “I think that as a Republican Party, we have lost our way.”

mark sanford oThe South Carolina Republican, right, said he had been intending to announce his bid at a campaign event last week but decided to cancel it because of Hurricane Dorian. Sanford campaign spokeswoman Sarah Allred said Sunday that a formal kickoff event has yet to be planned.

Sanford, a former South Carolina governor who represented the state’s 1st Congressional District in the House until earlier this year, had been mulling a bid against the president for weeks.

He joins former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, who launched a bid against Trump in April seeking to appeal to traditional Republican voters, and former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh, who announced last month that he will challenge the president not from the center but from the right and on moral grounds.

Hurricane Fallout

ny times logoNew York Times, Corpses Strewn and People Missing a Week After Dorian Hit the Bahamas, Kirk Semple, Sept. 8, 2019. The total of those missing and dead may not be known for weeks in the Bahamas. But a walk through one of the hardest hit areas showed several bodies. The official death toll attributed to the hurricane remained at 44 but there is no estimate yet of how many people are unaccounted for.

Media News

National Press Club, The Press Club offered to help a newspaper in the Bahamas. Here's the response, Alison Fitzgerald Kodjak, Sept. 8, 2019. The National Press Club asked our colleagues in the Bahamas how we can help them to continue reporting the news in the aftermath of Dorian. This was the response from Eugene Duffy, managing editor of the Tribune in Nassau: "Many thanks for your very kind offer of help, it is much appreciated. Here in Nassau we are about 150 miles south of where Dorian hit and with the exception of some torrential rain and local flood we were unaffected.

In material terms we have no issues, it's just one of those jobs which swallows the day very quickly with everyone working flat out: you get get on with it.

The only thing I would ask is if you could get the message around your members who are reporting the disaster to try and highlight the fact it was not "The Bahamas" which was devastated - just two islands at the north our 550 mile long archipelago.

We rely massively on tourism here with annual three million Americans visiting us on cruise ships or by air. On Friday I was at the airport here in New Providence and there were NO tourists coming in from the States, which will be devastating for the economy here if it continues for any significant period. If reporters can address this in copy or their on air reports it will help get the message across the vast majority of the country is still open for business.

U.S. Health Care / Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Whatever they’re offering here, I’ll grab it.’ People come for free medical and dental care in Baltimore, Peter Jamison, Sept. 8, 2019 (print ed.). Nearly a decade after passage of the Affordable Care Act, Americans with and without insurance were lining up before dawn to obtain care they otherwise couldn’t afford.

As the sun rose Saturday, Delores Connolly stood in line outside a public school here clutching a numbered ticket. Connolly, 61, who has health insurance, was waiting to enter a clinic offering free medical and dental care.

Dental care was dropped from her Medicaid coverage this year, Connolly said, and her plan would not cover eyeglasses to replace a pair she had lost. She had queued up at 5:30 a.m. at a temporary clinic operated in Baltimore over the weekend by the nonprofit Remote Area Medical (RAM).

Trump's Weather Obsession

djt alabama dorian chart

washington post logoWashington Post, Top NOAA official warned staff against contradicting Trump, Andrew Freedman, Colby Itkowitz and Jason Samenow, Sept. 8, 2019 (print ed.). National Weather Service personnel were also told not to “provide any opinion,” according to a copy of a Sept. 1 directive. The agency’s backing of Trump has been met with a backlash from scientists and meteorologists.

A NOAA meteorologist who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution said the note, understood internally to be referring to Trump, came after the National Weather Service office in Birmingham contradicted Trump by tweeting Alabama would “NOT see any impacts from the hurricane."

MintPress News, Investigation/Commentary, How the CIA, Mossad and “the Epstein Network” are Exploiting Mass Shootings to Create an Orwellian Nightmare, Whitney Webb, Sept. 6, 2019. Following another catastrophic mass shooting or crisis event, Orwellian “solutions” are set to be foisted on a frightened American public by the very network connected, not only to Jeffrey Epstein, but to a litany of crimes and a frightening history of plans to crush internal dissent in the United States.

Following the arrest and subsequent death in prison of alleged child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, a little-known Israeli tech company began to receive increased publicity, but for all the wrong reasons. Not long after Epstein’s arrest, and his relationships and finances came under scrutiny, it was revealed that the Israeli company Carbyne911 had received substantial funding from Jeffrey Epstein as well as Epstein’s close associate and former Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Barak, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist and prominent Trump backer Peter Thiel.

Carbyne911, or simply Carbyne, develops call-handling and identification capabilities for emergency response services in countries around the world, including the United States, where it has already been implemented in several U.S. counties and has partnered with major U.S. tech companies like Google. It specifically markets its product as a way of mitigating mass shootings in the United States without having to change existing U.S. gun laws.

Yet, Carbyne is no ordinary tech company, as it is deeply connected to the elite Israeli military intelligence division, Unit 8200, whose “alumni” often go on to create tech companies — Carbyne among them — that frequently maintain their ties to Israeli intelligence and, according to Israeli media reports and former employees, often “blur the line” between their service to Israel’s defense/intelligence apparatus and their commercial activity. As this report will reveal, Carbyne is but one of several Israeli tech companies marketing themselves as a technological solution to mass shootings that has direct ties to Israeli intelligence agencies.

Editor's Note: This series contains much more  than the powerful and well-supported excerpt above....

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

Sept. 7

Decrees From DCDonald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)ny times logoNew York Times, G.O.P. Plans to Drop Presidential Primaries in 4 States to Impede Trump Challengers, Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman, Sept. 7, 2019 (print ed.). The Republican Parties in Arizona, Kansas, Nevada and South Carolina intend to cancel the 2020 presidential primaries in their states, according to three people familiar with their plans, a move aimed at depriving President Trump’s long-shot challengers of chances to build support.

rnc logoThe state parties have not formalized their decisions, but Mr. Trump’s challengers denounced the move. Joe Walsh, right, a former Tea Party congressman from Illinois who announced his candidacy last month, said he planned to fight the move legally and by appealing directly to voters in those states.

joe walsh“It’s something a mob boss would do,” Mr. Walsh said in an interview. “All the times in 2016 when he said the Democrats were rigging the system to elect Hillary? He is actually eliminating elections in certain states, and that’s undemocratic.”

William F. Weld, a former governor of Massachusetts who is also challenging Mr. Trump for the party’s nomination, said he found the move concerning but not surprising. “Mr. Trump has not been bashful about his desire to avoid primaries or even elections,” Mr. Weld said. “He spoke admiringly of Xi Jinping getting rid of elections and talks about a third term for himself, which he has to know is not lawful. This is something that would be appropriate in a monarchy.”

Other states could follow suit before the Oct. 1 deadline for state parties to file delegate selection plans with the Republican National Committee, campaign officials said. States that do not hold primaries still choose delegates, often by holding a convention. The plans to cancel primaries were first reported on Friday by Politico.

washington post logoJustice Department log circularWashington Post, Justice Dept. launches antitrust probe of automakers over their fuel efficiency deal with California, Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson​, Sept. 7, 2019 (print ed.).​ The Justice Department has launched an antitrust investigation of four leading automakers over an agreement they forged with the state of California to maintain higher fuel efficiency standards than those sought by the Trump administration, raising questions of whether the department is being politicized to impose the president’s policies.

Separately, the Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department notified California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols that the state’s deal with Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW of North America on future mileage targets “appears to be inconsistent with federal law.”

“The U.S. Department of Justice brings its weight to bear against auto companies in an attempt to frighten them out of voluntarily making cleaner, more efficient cars and trucks than EPA wants,” Nichols said in a statement. “Consumers might ask, who is [EPA administrator] Andy Wheeler protecting?”
pentagon dc skyline dod photo

washington post logoWashington Post, Defense secretary urges allies to ‘pick up the tab’ on Pentagon projects defunded for Trump’s border wall, Paul Sonne, Sept. 7, 2019 (print ed.).​ Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said European nations can fill the funding gap if they’re worried about the loss of $770 million for construction projects designed to help U.S. allies mark esperdefend themselves against Russia.

Department of Defense SealMore than $770 million worth of defunded projects are for the European Deterrence Initiative and its predecessor program, which President Barack Obama launched in 2014 to shore up the defenses of European allies after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine.

The affected initiatives include a plan to build a facility for Special Operations forces and their training in Estonia, projects to construct ammunition and fuel storage facilities and staging areas in Poland, and planned upgrades to surveillance aircraft facilities in Italy, as well as airfield and fuel storage upgrades in Slovakia and Hungary.

House Oversight Of Trump

washington post logoWashington Post, House panel is probing U.S. military use of Trump-owned property in Scotland, Colby Itkowitz, Sept. 7, 2019. The House Oversight Committee is investigating why a financially struggling airport near a Trump-owned golf course in Scotland has seen an uptick in expenditures by the U.S. military since President Trump took office.

elijah cummings headshotChairman Elijah E. Cummings, left, and Rep. Jamie Raskin, both Maryland Democrats, sent a letter to the Defense Department’s acting secretary, Patrick M. Shanahan, in June asking for all travel information pertaining to Pentagon personnel through the Glasgow Prestwick Airport, as well as visits to the Trump Turnberry golf resort.

In the letter, Cummings and Raskin say that the airport “reportedly has provided ‘cut-price rooms for select passengers and crew’ and ‘offered free rounds at Turnberry to visiting U.S. military and civilian air crews.’ ”

Trump purchased the cash-strapped golf course on the west coast of Scotland in 2014 and has never turned a profit on his investment. In the years after his purchase, Trump advocated bringing more flights through Prestwick Airport, which would benefit his property just 30 miles away.

Politico, which first reported the Oversight investigation, described one Air National Guard trip to Kuwait in which the crew stopped at Trump’s Turnberry property on the way there and back. Typically, crews refuel in locations where there are U.S. military bases.

Palmer Report, Opinion: We told you Donald Trump’s impeachment was coming, Bill Palmer, Sept. 7, 2019. Each time Palmer Report has pointed to the mounting evidence that Donald Trump is going to be impeached, the naysayers have insisted that it’s all just a fantasy. They’ve cited Nancy Pelosi’s statement that impeachment is off the table (even though Pelosi never said this). They’ve insisted it’ll never happen because the Republican Senate won’t remove him anyway.

bill palmer report logo headerThe thing is, none of that matters. It’s the impeachment process that matters. House Democrats can use nationally televised hearings to expose every last bit of Trump’s corruption, crimes, scandals, deranged behavior, and mental unfitness. Television has an impact on popular opinion that no other medium does, and no one knows that better than reality show clown Donald Trump. These hearings are going to happen, for reasons that are obvious. They haven’t happened yet, which has fueled the rhetoric of the naysayers who insist it’ll never happen. But there’s a reason it hasn’t happened yet, and we just saw big news on that front.

democratic donkey logoHouse Democrats have been fighting court battles over the evidence and testimony necessary to put on the kind of compelling televised impeachment hearings that’ll have a major impact. But they don’t have to win all of these battles; just some of them. Once they’ve secured enough evidence and testimony in the court of law to win in the court of public opinion, they’ll move forward. That’s why it’s such a big deal that they’re now moving forward.

Yesterday, the news broke that the House Judiciary Committee is holding a vote this week to formalize its impeachment inquiry. This vote is a formality. The Democrats will vote yes, the Republicans will vote no, and it’ll pass. What matters here is that the Democrats have gone ahead and scheduled the vote. It means they think they’re close enough to having their hands on the necessary evidence and testimony, that they’re now ready to officially settle on their opening round of impeachment hearing topics.

Hurricane Dorian

dorian twitter ap via time

washington post logoWashington Post, With time running out, crews race to rescue survivors in the Bahamas, Maria Sacchetti, Dan Lamothe and Anthony Faiola, Sept. 7, 2019. With time running out to save stranded survivors of Hurricane Dorian, Bahamian and U.S. rescue crews combed through rubble in the hardest-hit areas Friday and braced for the death toll to rise.

Five days after the storm made landfall in the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane, authorities said it was unclear how many people were in need of assistance and how many had died. Officials and aid organizations struggled to reach remote towns in the sprawling island nation, with logistical issues preventing the deployment of rescue boats and aircraft.

“My house is gone, everything I have is gone; this is all I’ve got left,” Eddie Peredema, a gardener in Marsh Harbour, said as he pointed to his green T-shirt. “We need food, we need shelter. We need help, right now.”

• Video: Residents of Marsh Harbour grow desperate, frustrated

ny times logoNew York Times, Wondering How Many More Hurricanes They Can Withstand, Staff report, Sept. 7, 2019. Most residents in eastern North Carolina were spared the worst from Dorian. But they haven’t all recovered from last year’s flooding.

Global News

washington post logoWashington Post, Iran now operating advanced centrifuges in breach of nuclear pact, Erin Cunningham, Sept. 7, 2019. The move, made in defiance of a 2015 iran flag mapagreement, raises the stakes for European powers struggling to prevent the deal’s collapse.

The landmark agreement was signed by Iran and world powers in 2015 and curbed Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for major sanctions relief. President Trump abandoned the accord and reimposed a near-total embargo on Iran’s economy in the fall, frustrating European allies who helped negotiate the deal.

washington post logoWashington Post, Russia, Ukraine exchange prisoners in bid to ease tension between the two nations, Will Englund​, Sept. 7, 2019. Among those released were 24 sailors whose ships were seized by Russia last year in a strait off the Crimean coast.
Russia and Ukraine exchanged several dozen prisoners Saturday as they moved to dial down tensions in a swap that included captured Ukrainian sailors and a suspect in the 2014 downing of a Malaysia Airlines plane.

Thirty-five from each side were involved in the handovers, which has been highly anticipated and come less than four months after Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, took office promising to open fresh channels of dialogue with Moscow.

Ukrainians, in particular, have long sought the release of those held by Russia in the five years since Moscow seized Crimea and began sponsoring a rebellion in eastern Ukraine.

U.S. Politics /Trump Watch

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has completely unhinged meltdown as everything goes wrong, Bill Palmer, Sept. 7, 2019. Donald Trump has been having the most bill palmer report logo headerunhinged, deranged, and mentally unstable week in the history of the United States presidency, so it’s fitting that he would end the week with a late night meltdown.

donald trump twitterTrump spent Friday evening watching Sean Hannity pretending that the economy is somehow still doing well. Then, apparently feeling emboldened by the fictional broadcast, Trump posted this surreal tweet: "China just enacted a major stimulus plan. With all the Tariffs THEY are paying to the USA, Billions and Billions of Dollars, they need it! In the meantime, our Federal Reserve sits back and does NOTHING!"

Wait, who’s paying what here? Does Donald Trump still not know that his tariffs on Chinese goods are being paid by U.S. consumers, or is he merely pretending not to know this? And if his tariffs were forcing China to have to pay billions of dollars to the United States government, why would Trump want the Fed to step in and end this imaginary victory?

The worst part for Donald Trump is that he doesn’t realize he’s discussing his own political funeral. China is so fed up with Trump’s deranged economic approach, it’s taking steps to tank the U.S. economy so that voters will throw him out next year. And to smooth out any short term damage that this might cause, China is willing to spend money on a stimulus in the meantime. Meanwhile, Trump is busy celebrating his own defeat, because he’s too stupid and/or senile to understand what’s even going on.

Sept. 7

Epstein Scandal MIT Fallout

MIT logo

CNet, MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito resigns amid Jeffrey Epstein scandal, Edward Moyer, Sept. 7, 2019. The move follows a New Yorker report that the lab had a deeper funding relationship with the convicted sex offender than previously acknowledged and that it worked to disguise contacts with Epstein.

joichi ito 2007The director of the MIT Media Lab, Joi Ito (shown in a 2007 photo at right), resigned Saturday amid a scandal over the Media Lab's ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Ito's resignation follows a Friday night report in The New Yorker that said the Media Lab had a deeper funding relationship with Epstein than it had previously acknowledged and worked to disguise its contacts with the disgraced financier.

"Because the accusations in the story are extremely serious, they demand an immediate, thorough and independent investigation," MIT President L. Rafael Reif said Saturday in a letter to the MIT community. "This morning, I asked MIT's General Counsel to engage a prominent law firm to design and conduct this process. I expect the firm to conduct this review as swiftly as possible, and to report back to me and to the Executive Committee of the MIT Corporation, MIT's governing board."

Reif said Ito had submitted his resignation as director on Saturday afternoon and that Ito had also stepped down as a professor and employee of MIT. When asked to comment on the New Yorker article and Ito's resignation, a representative of the Media Lab pointed to Reif's letter.

The New Yorker report says Epstein helped secure donations from parties including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and that the lab's cover-up effort was an open secret among staff, some of whom gave Epstein the nickname Voldemort or "he who must not be named."

The Media Lab has been under scrutiny for its ties to Epstein, who last month committed suicide in jail while facing federal sex-trafficking charges. In late August, Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT and an associate professor at the MIT Media Lab, said he was moving his work out of the Media Lab due to its ties with Epstein. Visiting professor J. Nathan Matias also said he'd be leaving the lab, which is known for wide-ranging research on everything from futuristic personal robots to online social experiments.

Shortly after those departure announcements, the Media Lab said in a statement that MIT had received around $800,000 in donations from Epstein over 20 years. This week Ito acknowledged taking $525,000 from Epstein for the Media Lab, as well as $1.2 million for his personal investment funds, according to The New York Times.

The New Yorker report, which cites internal MIT records and information from present and former Media Lab faculty and staff, says Epstein secured at least $7.5 new yorker logomillion in lab donations, including $2 million from Gates and $5.5 million from investor Leon Black, founder of private-equity firm Apollo Global Management.

The report also says that "although Epstein was listed as 'disqualified' in MIT's official donor database, the Media Lab continued to accept gifts from him, consulted him about the use of the funds, and, by marking his contributions as anonymous, avoided disclosing their full extent, both publicly and within the university."

A spokesperson for Gates told The New Yorker that "any claim that Epstein directed any programmatic or personal grantmaking for Bill Gates is completely false." Gates' philanthropic foundation didn't immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.

Apollo Global Management didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Black has said his dealings with Epstein were for the most part limited to estate planning, philanthropic advice and tax strategy, that Apollo has never done business with Epstein and that Black was unaware of the conduct alleged in the federal charges against Epstein.

Media / 2020 U.S. Politics

bernie sanders elizabeth warren july 3 2019 dem debate intros screengrab cnn

U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and  Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) greet one another before the July 30, 2019 presidential debate in Detroit (screengrab).

The Hill, Opinion: Why the media dislike Andrew, Tulsi, Bernie and Marianne, Krystal Ball, Sept. 7, 2019. Without fail, every candidate who has come from outside the Democratic establishment, or who has dared to question the Democratic establishment, has been smeared, dismissed or ignored by most media.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), who resigned from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in protest of its treatment of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and dares to challenge the bipartisan pro-war foreign policy consensus, has been smeared as "unpatriotic." This despite the fact that she is an Iraq War veteran who, to this day, serves in the Hawaii Army National Guard. The Daily Beast published an absurd article titled "Tulsi Gabbard's Campaign is Being Boosted By Putin Apologists" about how three of her donors, among tens of thousands, had tangential connections to Russia. NBC News published a piece on how Russian bots were boosting Gabbard's campaign. It cited one expert, a group that reportedly faked Russian bot activity in an Alabama election.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosGabbard had the distinction of being the most-Googled candidate in both of the first two debates. The media, however, have shown little interest in understanding why her pro-peace message might hold appeal.

I've talked quite a bit about media bias against Sanders. The latest, most egregious case involved a Washington Post "fact check" that found Sanders accurately cited academic research - but managed to give him three Pinocchios anyway.

Marianne Williamson, an author and activist, is definitely off the beaten path for a candidate, but she is an incredibly accomplished woman, with seven New York Times bestsellers to her name and decades of activism under her belt. Perhaps it would be interesting to hear more of her thoughts on national healing and reconciliation rather than just casting her as a weirdo and mocking her for a tweet about the power of prayer, something to which many, if not most, Americans subscribe.

These candidates occupy much different poll positions and have wildly different approaches, styles and philosophies. Andrew Yang, the cheerful prophet of doom; Williamson, the spiritual healer; Gabbard, the teller of hard truths about American imperialism; and Sanders, well, he's just Bernie. But they have something important in common: They don't fit the mold. They aren't in the club. They defy the rules.

Asian techies are supposed to develop the latest AI, not lead the revolution to put humanity first. Democratic female veterans are supposed to burnish the party's hawkish cred, not doggedly pursue diplomacy and engagement and call out the American war machine. Spirituality is not supposed to be mixed with politics on the left, even though religion is fully weaponized by the right. And septuagenarian democratic socialists who are not fashionable in any way are not supposed to be rock stars with youths or be top-polling presidential contenders.

Rather than deal with these contradictions -- which, by the way, clearly fascinate the public, judging by Google and Twitter trends -- it's easier for many in the media to mock, smear or ignore.

Not only do these candidates not fit the mold; they also in their own ways represent threats to the current holders of power. Williamson and Yang didn't come up through politics, so they owe absolutely nothing to the Washington or Democratic Party elite.

And if you're not a "team player," then of course you're a threat. Sanders, though, is obviously the ultimate threat to the Washington neoliberal establishment. I asked him recently whether he represented an existential threat to the Democratic Party, and he acknowledged that he did. He matches his critique of their corporatism and business-as-usual approach with an unmatched grassroots army and fundraising base. He has his own base of power that requires nothing from a D.C. cocktail party.

When you are a threat to the political establishment, you are inherently a threat to the careers of journalists who rely on access to that political establishment. There may not be an edict coming down from on high to "destroy" those candidates who threaten the system, but there are natural defense mechanisms that kick in. And so, strange graphics are made that just happen to exclude you, fact checks are written that don't seem to arrive at the facts at all, coverage vacillates from total blackout to wild smears.

democratic debate july 30

Sept. 6

Honest Elections Needed

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We need our elections protected. A weakened FEC only invites attack, Editorial Board, Sept. 6, 2019. If the Securities and Exchange Commission stopped acting, the nation would feel vulnerable to securities fraud. If the Federal Trade Commission were paralyzed, or the Federal Communications Democratic-Republican Campaign logosCommission, there would be a crisis of confidence in fields they regulate. Why, then, are the nation’s political leaders so complacent about the Federal Election Commission, the independent regulatory agency charged with being the watchdog over the political process and protecting the integrity of U.S. democracy?

As of this month, the six-member commission is down to three commissioners, although it needs four for a quorum. Without a quorum, the FEC cannot hold hearings, make rules, initiate litigation, issue advisory opinions, launch investigations or approve enforcement actions and audits, among other things. The FEC chairwoman, ellen weintraubEllen L. Weintraub, left, has put on a brave face, noting that the commission’s “most important duties will continue unimpeded,” such as shining a spotlight on campaign finance and performing the staff work when it receives complaints. She insists that the “United States’ election cop is still on the 2020 campaign beat” and that she will “remain vigilant to all threats to the integrity of our elections.”

But this is a precarious time for the commissioners to lack a quorum. The 2016 presidential election was undermined by interference from Russia, and the upcoming campaign seems equally vulnerable to mischief and meddling. Moreover, the need is greater than ever to police the torrents of cash flowing into campaign coffers, much of it in dark money from shady interest groups. The lack of a quorum at the FEC is an open invitation to those who want to skirt the law to gamble that they won’t be caught until later, if at all.

 Global News

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: Boris Johnson will do anything for Brexit. Even destroy his own party, Ian Dunt (editor of, the author of "Brexit: What the Hell Happens Now?" and a host on the Remainiacs podcast), Sept. 6, 2019 (print ed.). The push to leave Europe is tearing up one of democracy’s most successful institutions.

boris johnson hand up unsourcedThis past week, in the most brutal internal act in its modern history, the British Conservative Party threw out 21 of its own lawmakers.

Old, respected, moderate Conservative members of Parliament were summarily ejected from the party — by text message — after they defied Prime Minister Boris Johnson (shown in a file photo) and voted to stop Britain from leaving the European Union on Oct. 31 without a replacement trade deal in place to prevent economic chaos.

Johnson’s new regime isn’t concerned with niceties like preventing economic chaos, though; it views politics not as a debate over ideas and policies, but as a form of trench warfare.

washington post logoWashington Post, Robert Mugabe (1924–2019): Zimbabwean leader who helped liberate and destroy his country dies at 95, Glenn Frankel, Sept. 6, 2019.​ Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president who rose to power as a champion of anti-colonial struggle but during 37 years robert mugabe 2015of authoritarian rule presided over the impoverishment and degradation of one of sub-Saharan Africa’s most promising countries, has died in Singapore.

He was 95 (and is shown in a 2015 file photo).

Zimbabwe’s current leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa, announced the death on Twitter, but did not disclose the cause.

Mr. Mugabe, who had displayed physical decline over recent years, had been receiving hospital treatment in Singapore since April, Mnangagwa said last month. Mr. Mugabe was forced to resign as Zimbabwe’s leader days after the army staged a coup in November 2017.

PBS White House Chronicle, Opinion: Robert Mugabe and the Making of a Dictator, Llewellyn King, Sept. 6, 2019.  Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe, who stood head and shoulders above other awful African heads of state, has died aged 95. He may have killed more people and caused more deaths through starvation than even that other icon of evil, Idi Amin of Uganda.

When Mugabe became the republic’s first president in 1980, he was celebrated the world over as the face of the new Africa: a leader who would usher in a time of harmony, heal the wounds of war, and who was keen to assure the white minority he had overthrown that all would be well.
Mugabe spoke of the country that he inherited from Britain and the British settlers as kind of jeweled timepiece. He boasted of its sophisticated agriculture, its functional central bank and its vibrant stock exchange.

Initially, Mugabe’s partnership with the old regime appeared to be sincere. I met two white men who ran his security detail at that time who spoke well of him and said they had detected no bitterness. Early warnings, like his takeover of the newspapers, were ignored. To miscreants, the media is always the problem.

I was born and grew up in Rhodesia, as was my father, first known as Southern Rhodesia. I, like my family, wanted to ignore Mugabe’s downside. The period from the granting of independence to Zimbabwe — with the Lancaster House agreements in London — in 1980 to the mid-1990s was promising.

zimbabwe flag mapFor a few years, Zimbabwe [shown at right on a flag map] remained what it had been before independence: a peaceful place with racial respect, a thriving commercial sector, and farms that were so productive that they represented the regional breadbasket, feeding Zambia and Malawi as well as exporting to South Africa.

Mugabe seized the primarily white-owned farms, played games with the citizenship of people he didn’t like; rigged elections; used violence against political opponents; and ordered, or condoned, the security forces, in violation court orders, to beat and intimidate anyone who opposed him.

He began to espouse a kind of paranoid racism, where everything that was wrong was because of the colonialism and the evils of the white population. It was always someone else’s fault.

In the end, Mugabe smashed his jeweled-timepiece nation. The currency failed when inflation ran into the millions of percent and today, over two years since Mugabe fell, Zimbabwe still has no currency. Under the new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, it continues to be beset with poverty and famine.

This is the message of Mugabe: Failure to stop the tendencies of those who get away with small constitutional infringements will lead to their getting away with massive wrongdoing.

Trump Watch

jacob hornberger newFuture of Freedom Foundation, Analysis: The Hitler Phenomenon, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Sept. 6, 2019. At the very beginning of this article, let me first state that I am not saying that Donald Trump is Adolf Hitler. Then why am I bringing it up? Because everyone agrees that when it comes to the subject of dictatorship, Hitler provides the gold standard. He is the model dictator in everyone’s books. Therefore, we can safely use him as a measuring rod for danger signs with respect to dictatorship here in the United States, not only with respect to the Trump presidency but also to other presidencies, both Democratic and Republican.

Hitler’s extermination program and death camps didn’t get established until the midst of World War II, which began in 1939. Hitler became chancellor of Germany in 1933. That means that there were six years of Hitler rule before the outbreak of the war. The era I wish to explore is 1933-1939, the period before the war. Specifically, how did Hitler become a dictator? After all, we shouldn’t forget that when Hitler became chancellor, Germany was a democracy, something that has been a longtime goal of U.S. foreign policy.

adolf hitlerIn my article yesterday, entitled Opinion: The Trumpster Phenomenon, I pointed out that there is a large segment of conservatives who unconditionally support whatever Trump does. Their reason? They see him as a Great Leader, one who is just trying to make America great again. Therefore, the Trumpsters say, he should be given the widest authority to do what he thinks is best for America and for “national security.” Nothing, and certainly not Congress or the courts, should be permitted to stand in his way.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoI would be remiss if I failed to mention that conservatives are not the only ones who suffer from the Great Leader concept. So do liberals/progressives, specifically when their Great Leader is president. Consider Barack Obama, for example.

Today, liberals are shedding lots of crocodile tears over the harsh immigration enforcement measures that Trump is inflicting on illegal immigrants. Yet, when it was Barack Obama who was deporting so many illegal immigrants that he earned the moniker “Deporter in Chief,” there was a dearth of crocodile tears and not even the hint of criticism from the left. That’s because they viewed Obama as their Great Leader, one who should be given wide authority to do what he felt was best for America.

For example, watch a particular segment of the movie Sophie Scholl: The Final Days. The movie is the story of the White Rose, a group of German students of diverse religious beliefs at the University of Munich who were secretly distributing pamphlets containing essays critical of the Hitler regime. They were caught and put on trial before the People’s Court, the special tribunal system that Hitler put into place because he didn’t trust the German court system to deliver the “right” verdict in terrorism and treason cases.

If you haven’t seen the entire movie, I recommend it highly. But in the meantime, begin at 1:31:07. It is about 3 minutes long. It is the courtroom scene in which the presiding judge, Roland Freisler, questions Sophie Scholl. Notice the extreme rage displayed by Freisler over Scholl’s “treasonous” behavior. (Notice also how her scared attorney does nothing to defend her.) Freisler provides a perfect example of the Great Leader mindset.

Americans should reflect on all this when they see Donald Trump arbitrarily raising taxes on the American people or building walls or other public-works projects without congressional enactment. The end of that road is the destruction of liberty.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Ivanka Trump is acting as if everything is normal, Monica Hesse, Sept. 6, 2019 (print ed.). The first daughter is neglecting the only ivanka trump twitter portraitdiplomatic mission that could possibly matter right now.

Ivanka Trump, right, descended upon Bogota, Colombia, this week to talk about women’s empowerment and left us talking about her sleeves. They were voluminous, bell-shaped swaths of green fabric. Ivanka abroad seems to be Ivanka’s platonic ideal of herself: doing things that are considered patriotic but not overly political, important but not controversial, and personally on-brand.

Reuters, U.S. congressional probe finds possible lapses in Deutsche Bank controls -- sources, Mark Hosenball, Matt Scuffham, John O'Donnell, Sept. 6, 2019. U.S. congressional investigators have identified possible failures in Deutsche Bank AG’s (DBKGn.D) money laundering controls in its dealings with Russian oligarchs, after the lender handed over a trove of transaction records, emails and other documents, three people familiar with the matter said.

U.S. congressional investigators have identified possible failures in Deutsche Bank AG’s (DBKGn.D) money laundering controls in its dealings with Russian oligarchs, after the lender handed over a trove of transaction records, emails and other documents, three people familiar with the matter said.
deutsche bank logoThe congressional inquiry found instances where Deutsche Bank staff in the United States and elsewhere flagged concerns about new Russian clients and transactions involving existing ones, but were ignored by managers, two of the people said.

Lawmakers are also examining whether Deutsche Bank facilitated the funneling of illegal funds into the United States as a correspondent bank, where it processes transactions for others, one of the sources said.

The congressional probe, whose initial findings have not been previously reported, is at an early stage, and it is not yet clear whether it will lead to any action against the bank, the three sources said.

U.S. 2020 Politics

mark kelly senate Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Arizona GOP says it will stop Democrat Mark Kelly, husband of shooting survivor Gabrielle Giffords, ‘dead in his tracks,’ Colby Itkowitz, Sept. 6, 2019. Kelli Ward, the chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party, said in a fundraising email Friday that the GOP would stop Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly “dead in his tracks.”

gabrielle giffords oWard’s choice wording stands out not only because Kelly (shown above) is an ardent gun control advocate, but because he took up the cause after his wife, former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, shown at left before she was shot, survived an assassination attempt in which a gunman killed six people and left Giffords with traumatic brain injuries.

republican elephant logo“Support the Republican Party of Arizona today and, together, we’ll stop gun-grabber Mark Kelly dead in his tracks,” Ward wrote in an email obtained by the Washington Post. Bloomberg News first reported the email.

“This dangerous rhetoric has absolutely no place in Arizona and is what’s wrong with our politics,” said Jacob Peters, communications director for the Kelly campaign. “Mark Kelly is running for Senate to overcome this type of nasty divisiveness that does nothing for Arizonans.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Former Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz announces he will not run for president, Greg Jaffe and Michael Scherer, Sept. 6, 2019. Schultz, a billionaire, said in January that he was considering a nonpartisan bid, describing himself as a “centrist independent outside the two-party system.”

Inside DC

djt alabama dorian chart

washington post logoWashington Post, NOAA backs Trump on Ala. forecast, rebukes office that accurately contradicted him, Jason Samenow, Andrew Freedman and Matthew Cappucci, Sept. 6, 2019. The unsigned statement from NOAA, which sided with President Trump over its own scientists, came a day after the president’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser released a statement justifying Trump’s claims of the Alabama threat.

U.S. Gun Politics

washington post logonra logo CustomWashington Post, NRA board member and former president obtained low-interest loan from affiliate she leads, Beth Reinhard and Tom Hamburger, Sept. 6, 2019. Marion Hammer received funds totaling more than $250,000 from 1995 to 2016, at a rate as low as 2 percent, from the organization’s Florida affiliate, leading to more questions about economic benefits flowing to its leadership.

Epstein Donations

MIT logo

ronan farrowNew Yorker, How an Élite University Research Center Concealed Its Relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, Ronan Farrow, right, Sept, 6, 2019. New documents show that the M.I.T. Media Lab was aware of Epstein’s status as a convicted sex offender, and that Epstein directed contributions to the lab far exceeding the amounts M.I.T. has publicly admitted.

jeffrey epstein hands handsThe M.I.T. Media Lab, which has been embroiled in a scandal over accepting donations from the financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, had a deeper fund-raising relationship with Epstein than it has previously acknowledged, and it attempted to conceal the extent of its contacts with him. Dozens of pages of e-mails and other documents obtained by The New Yorker reveal that, although Epstein was listed as “disqualified” in M.I.T.’s official donor database, the Media Lab continued to accept gifts from him, consulted him about the use of the funds, and, by marking his contributions as anonymous, avoided disclosing their full extent, both publicly and within the university.

Perhaps most notably, Epstein appeared to serve as an intermediary between the lab and other wealthy donors, soliciting millions of dollars in donations from individuals and organizations, including the technologist and philanthropist Bill Gates and the investor Leon Black. According to the joichi ito 2007records obtained by The New Yorker and accounts from current and former faculty and staff of the media lab, Epstein was credited with securing at least $7.5 million in donations for the lab, including two million dollars from Gates and $5.5 million from Black, gifts the e-mails describe as “directed” by Epstein or made at his behest.

The effort to conceal the lab’s contact with Epstein was so widely known that some staff in the office of the lab’s director, Joi Ito (shown in a 2007 photo at right) referred to Epstein as Voldemort or “he who must not be named."

Media News

washington post logofacebook logoWashington Post, Attorneys general of 8 states and D.C. investigating Facebook for possible antitrust violations, Staff report, Sept. 6, 2019. New York Attorney General Letitia James released a statement announcing a bipartisan coalition investigating the social media company.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Why print newspapers still play a crucial role in American politics, Ethan Michaeli (author of The Defender: How Chicago's Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America), Sept. 6, 2019.  We can’t afford to lose these community institutions as the media business changes.

The Chicago Defender announced in July it was terminating print publication and becoming an online-only news source. The announcement ended a run that began in 1905, when it was founded as a weekly by Robert S. Abbott, a brilliant African American man who’d arrived in Chicago from Georgia.

The end of the print Defender is a sad occasion for the legions of journalists, printers, salespeople and executives who worked at the newspaper, as it is for its remaining readers. But it is also an apt moment to recognize The Defender’s accomplishments as a community institution, as well as its influence in the highest circles of power.

Sept. 5

UK Democracy Crisis

ny times logounited kingdom flagNew York Times, U.K. Parliament’s Next Brexit Brawl: When to Hold Elections, Benjamin Mueller, Sept. 5, 2019. As a law stopping a no-deal Brexit moved closer to clearing its final hurdle on Thursday, British lawmakers began drawing the battle lines for their next fight: whether, and when, to hold a general election.

boris johnson hand up unsourcedPrime Minister Boris Johnson (shown in a file photo) was expected to take his call for a snap general election to members of the public on Thursday, with a speech in northern England, as his team worked to frame the law averting a no-deal Brexit as a “surrender” to the European Union.

But Mr. Johnson was upstaged on Thursday by a member of his own family: His younger brother Jo Johnson resigned from Parliament, saying he was giving up his seat because he was “torn between family loyalty and the national interest.”

Inside DC

greg craig lawyers 9 4 19 cropped IMG 6681

Washington attorney Gregory Craig, center, holds a brief news conference surrounded by his lawyers on Sept. 4 following his acquittal on a false statement charge in the federal district court in Washington, DC (Justice Integrity Project photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, Gregory Craig found not guilty of lying to investigators probing work to aid Ukraine president, Spencer S. Hsu, Sept. 5, 2019 (print ed.). A federal jury found Gregory B. Craig not guilty of lying to the Justice Department, acquitting the Democratic former White House counsel on Wednesday of concealing media contacts in 2012 related to his work for the Ukrainian government.

greg craig smiling cropped headshot 9 4 19 IMG 6685Jurors deliberated less than a day before vindicating Craig, 74, right (shown in a Justice Integrity Project photo at a press conference after the verdict), a former top legal adviser to Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

Craig’s defense urged them to weigh his towering reputation in Washington and decades in government and private practice before passing judgment after a three-week trial.

The acquittal marks a high-profile setback for a Justice Department crackdown on foreign lobbying in the United States, exposing flaws in a difficult prosecution that was handed off among several offices before Craig’s April indictment. Before the trial began, a judge dismissed a count against Craig directly involving the registration requirements, saying the rules seemed vague as applied to Craig’s circumstances.

The verdict is likely to stir debate over whether to clarify or strengthen provisions of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires Americans paid by foreign governments or politicians to influence U.S. policy or opinion to register with the Justice Department.

Craig, 74, was left facing one felony count of making false statements to investigators who were trying to determine whether he and his law firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, should have registered under the law. The central issue was Craig’s outreach on Dec. 11, 2012, to the New York Times regarding coverage of the law firm’s upcoming report reviewing the jailing of Yulia Tymoshenko, a political rival to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

The report was commissioned by the Ukrainian government in a project led by Paul Manafort, a political adviser to Yanukovych. A wealthy Ukrainian businessman, Viktor Pinchuk, secretly paid Skadden $4.15 million for work on the report, testimony showed.

Dorian Disaster

dorian twitter ap via time

ap logoAssociated Press via Time Magazine, The Death Toll from Hurricane Dorian in the Devastated Bahamas Climbs to 20, Marko Álvarez, Dánica Coto and Michael Weissenstein, Sept. 5, 2019 (1:42 min. video). Aerial Footage Shows the Devastating Damage Hurricane Dorian Wreaked in the Bahamas. The devastation wrought by Dorian — and the terror it inflicted during its day-and-a-half mauling of the Bahamas — came into focus Wednesday as the passing of the storm revealed a muddy, debris-strewn landscape of smashed and flooded-out homes on Abaco and Grand Bahama islands.

The official death toll from the strongest hurricane on record ever to hit the country jumped to 20, and there was little doubt it would climb higher.

With a now-distant Dorian pushing its way up the Southeastern U.S. coast, menacing Georgia and the Carolinas, many people living in the Bahamas were in shock as they slowly came out of shelters and checked on their homes.

The ground crunched under Greg Alem’s feet on Wednesday as he walked over the ruins of his home, laid waste by Hurricane Dorian. He touched a splintered beam of wood and pointed to the fallen trees, overcome by memories.

“We planted those trees ourselves. Everything has a memory, you know,” he said. “It’s so, so sad. … In the Bible there is a person called Job, and I feel like Job right now. He’s lost everything, but his faith kept him strong.”

hurricane dorian sept 2 5 preview Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Life-threatening’ storm surge, powerful wind and torrential rain slam Carolinas, Andrew Freedman and Jason Samenow​, Sept. 5, 2019. Residents of coastal South and North Carolina were losing power as hurricane-force winds were expected to spread over coastal South Carolina this morning.

Tropical storm and hurricane conditions are anticipated for coastal North Carolina late today. High-impact event to last through Friday, as deadly storm makes its closest pass to the U.S. mainland.

U.S. Justice System

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: An Alabama man has been on death row 21 years. He is almost certainly innocent, Radley Balko, Sept. 5, 2019. The baffling conviction and death sentence of Toforest Johnson reveal a broken system.

This is a story about a wrongful conviction. It’s about witnesses who were rewarded for lies and threatened for telling the truth. It’s about overly aggressive law enforcement, a supine judiciary and almost comically ineffective representation, and how all of these things put a man on death row who nearly everyone now agrees is innocent — even the man who prosecuted him now doubts his guilt. It’s a story about the lives ruined along the way. And it’s about the murder of a much-liked deputy that, because of all of this, remains unsolved.

CIA Mind Control Program

stephen kinzer poisoner coverThe Guardian, From mind control to murder? How a deadly fall revealed the CIA’s darkest secrets, Stephen Kinzer (author of new book Poisoner In Chief), Sept. 5, 2019. Frank Olson died in 1953, but, because of clandestine US government experiments, it took decades for his family to get closer to the truth.

Glass shattered high above Seventh Avenue in Manhattan before dawn on a cold November morning in 1953. Seconds later, a body hit the sidewalk. Jimmy, the doorman at the Statler hotel, was momentarily stunned. Then he turned and ran into the hotel lobby. “We got a jumper!” he shouted. “We got a jumper!”

The night manager peered up through the darkness at his hulking hotel. After a few moments, he picked out a curtain flapping through an open window. It turned out to be room 1018A. Two names were on the registration card: Frank Olson and Robert Lashbrook.

Police officers entered room 1018A with guns drawn. They saw no one. The window was open. They pushed open the door to the bathroom and found Lashbrook sitting on the toilet, head in hands. He had been sleeping, he said, and “I heard a noise and then I woke up.”

“The man that went out the window, what is his name?” one officer asked.

“Olson,” came the reply. “Frank Olson.”

“In all my years in the hotel business,” the night manager later reflected, “I never encountered a case where someone got up in the middle of the night, ran across a dark room in his underwear, avoiding two beds, and dove through a closed window with the shade and curtains drawn.”

Leaving the police officers, the night manager returned to the lobby and, on a hunch, asked the telephone operator if any calls had recently been made from room 1018A. “Yes,” she replied – and she had eavesdropped, not an uncommon practice in an era when hotel phone calls were routed through a switchboard. Someone in the room had called a number on Long Island, which was listed as belonging to Dr Harold Abramson, a distinguished physician, less well known as an LSD expert and one of the CIA’s medical collaborators.

“Well, he’s gone,” the caller had said. Abramson replied: “Well, that’s too bad.”

To the first police officers on the scene, this seemed like another of the human tragedies they saw too often: a distressed or distraught man had taken his own life. They could not have known that the dead man and the survivor were scientists who helped direct one of the US government’s most highly classified intelligence programmes.

Spectacular Revelations

frank olsonDecades later, however, spectacular revelations cast Olson’s death in a completely new light. First, the CIA admitted that, shortly before he died, Olson’s colleagues had lured him to a retreat and fed him LSD without his knowledge. Then it turned out that Olson, right, had talked about leaving the CIA – and told his wife that he had made “a terrible mistake.” Slowly, a counter-narrative emerged: Olson was disturbed about his work and wanted to quit, leading his comrades to consider him a security risk. All of this led him to room 1018A.

Frank Olson had been one of the first scientists assigned to the secret US biological warfare laboratories at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland during the second world war. There Olson began working with the handful of colleagues who would accompany him throughout his clandestine career. One was Harold Abramson. Others included ex-Nazi scientists who had been brought to work on secret missions in the US. For a time they worked on aerosol technologies – ways to spray germs or toxins on enemies and to defend against such attacks. Later, Olson met with American intelligence officers who had experimented with “truth drugs” in Europe.

Olson was discharged from the army in 1944, but remained at Fort Detrick on a civilian contract and continued his research into aerobiology. Several times he visited the secluded Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, which was used for testing “living biological agents, munitions and aerosol cloud production”. He co-authored a 220-page study entitled Experimental Airborne Infections, which described experiments with “airborne clouds of highly infectious agents”.

In 1949, he travelled to the Caribbean for Operation Harness, which tested the vulnerability of animals to toxic clouds. The next year, he was part of Operation Sea Spray, in which dust engineered to float like anthrax was released near San Francisco. He regularly travelled to Fort Terry, a secret army base on Plum Island, off the eastern tip of Long Island, which was used to test toxins too deadly to be brought on to the US mainland.

cia logoThis was the period when senior army and CIA officers were becoming deeply alarmed at what they feared was Soviet progress toward mastering forms of warfare based on microbes. Their alarm led to the creation of the special operations division. Rumours about its work spread through offices and laboratories. Olson learned of it over an evening game of cards with a colleague, John Schwab, who unbeknown to him, had been named the division’s first chief. Schwab invited him to join. Olson accepted immediately.

In 2017, Stephen Saracco, a retired New York assistant district attorney who had investigated the Olson case and remained interested in it, made his first visit to the hotel room where Olson spent his final night. Looking around the room, Saracco said, raised the question of how Olson could have done it.

“If this would have been a suicide, it would have been very difficult to accomplish,” Saracco concluded. “There was motive to kill him. He knew the deepest, darkest stephen kinzer poisoner coversecrets of the cold war. Would the American government kill an American citizen who was a scientist, who was working for the CIA and the army, if they thought he was a security risk? There are people who say: ‘Definitely.’”

 This is an edited extract from "Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control," published by Henry Holt & Co on Sept 10 and available at

RFK Murder Cover-up

Black Op Radio, Justice Integrity Project Director Andrew Kreig interviewed on RFK murder cover-up and stabbing this month of imprisoned accused len osanic black  op logo 1assailant Sirhan Sirhan, Black Op Radio host Len Osanic, Sept. 5, 2019 (64:04 min. audio interview). 

Andrew Kreig, based in Washington DC, is a public affairs commentator, author, attorney and legal reformer
Andrew's website:
Andrew is also the editor of the Justice Integrity Project at
Article: Sirhan Stabbing Revives Questions On His Safety, Innocence, and the RFK Murder Cover Up
The reactions of various researchers have been included in the article
The "Conspiracy Theory" smear is alive and well more than 50 years after the CIA popularized it
FREE ONLINE EBOOK: The Secret Team by Col. L. Fletcher Prouty
Book: JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy by Col. Prouty: Hardcover, Paperback
The debate between George Orwell and Aldous Huxley
Book: Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters by Andrew Kreig: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle
Every US President after Jimmy Carter had been a covert asset of either the CIA or FBI before entering politics
Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth:
University of Alaska report on the collapse of Building 7 (World Trade Center)
Journalist Whitney Webb's articles: Here
The remarkable "coincidences" in the Jeffrey Epstein case
William Barr, United States Attorney General
Barr worked for the CIA before becoming a lawyer
10 billion dollar Pentagon cloud computing contract may be awarded to Amazon
Amazon already has a 600 million dollar contract for cloud computing with the CIA
Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post for 250 million dollars
Michael Morell, former Deputy Director of the CIA

"You don't fight tyrants because you think you can win. You fight them because they are tyrants" -- Chris Hedges

Safety / Retailing / Labor

ny times logoNew York Times, The Human Cost of Amazon’s Fast, Free Shipping, Patricia Callahan, Sept. 5, 2019 (This article is co-published with ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative newsroom). Despite directing the deadlines and routes for its network of contract delivery drivers, the retail giant is shielded from responsibility when they crash. In its relentless push for e-commerce dominance, Amazon has built a huge logistics operation in recent years to get more goods to customers’ homes in less and less time.

amazon logo smallAs it moves to reduce its reliance on legacy carriers like United Parcel Service, the retailer has created a network of contractors across the country that allows the company to expand and shrink the delivery force as needed, while avoiding the costs of taking on permanent employees.

But Amazon’s promise of speedy delivery has come at a price, one largely hidden from public view. An investigation by ProPublica identified more than 60 accidents since June 2015 involving Amazon delivery contractors that resulted in serious injuries, including 10 deaths. That tally is most likely a fraction of the accidents that have occurred: Many people don’t sue, and those who do can’t always tell when Amazon is involved, court records, police reports and news accounts show.

Trump's Wall

ny times logoNew York Times, Texas Resort Has Pool, Golf Course and Maybe a Border Wall, Mitchell Ferman, Sept. 5, 2019. At a community for older adults, the proposed wall would strand about 70 percent of residences south of the barricade but north of the Rio Grande.

Shirley Menard says she did not think all that much about Donald J. Trump’s proposed border wall when she cast a reluctant vote for him in 2016.

She is thinking about it a lot more now that plans call for part of what could be a 30-foot-tall stretch of wall to land in her backyard, dividing the River Bend Resort and Golf Club, which hugs the Rio Grande. About 70 percent of the community — some 200 properties — would be stranded south of the barricade but north of the river. Fifteen holes of the golf course could be there, too.

An unsettling lesson in unexpected consequences has left some residents rethinking their support for the wall and the president who has made it his signature project.

Epstein Donations

washington post logoWashington Post, Epstein’s donations to universities reveal a painful truth about philanthropy, Susan Svrluga, Sept. 5, 2019. Academics confront a hard realization: The financier’s donations supported important research, but they also provided a veneer of credibility to a convicted sex offender.

Jeffrey Epstein forged deep ties with some of the nation’s elite universities and their scholars, showering them with millions of dollars in donations. As the extent of those gifts comes into sharper focus, academics confront a painful realization: The financier’s donations supported important research and helped scientists work toward discoveries, but they also provided a veneer of credibility to a convicted sex offender.

The ensuing fallout — prompting resignations and continued soul-searching and outrage — illuminates enduring questions for academia about the money that fuels research, and how institutions nurture relationships with donors in the race to excel.

Epstein gave repeatedly to MIT and Harvard University. At MIT, the president, L. Rafael Reif, apologized to Epstein’s victims in a message to campus. The school accepted about $800,000 of Epstein’s money over 20 years, Reif wrote, with gifts to the MIT Media Lab and to Harvard University.

jacob hornberger newFuture of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: The Trumpster Phenomenon, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Sept. 5, 2019. One of the fascinating aspects of the Donald Trump presidency has been the rise of the Trumpster phenomenon. Trumpsters are conservatives who have become steadfast and unwavering followers and supporters of Trump.

There are two distinguishing characteristics of Trumpsters: (1) their unconditional support of whatever Trump decides to do to “make America great again”; and (2) their refusal to tolerate or countenance any criticism or disagreement with Trump’s courses of action.

What drives Trumpsters is what can be called the Great Leader concept. Their mindset is that we have elected a Great Leader to be president and, therefore, to make America great again, we just have to entrust him with omnipotent powers, trust him to make the right decisions, and support him in whatever courses of action he takes.

donald trump twitterAnd woe to the person who even hints at criticism or disagreement with what the Great Leader has chosen to do. Filled with immediate rage, the Trumpster will lash out against the critic with an array of nasty attacks, for example by accusing him of hating America, being unpatriotic, being a liar, and being ungrateful for what America has done for him.

For example, consider Trump’s unilateral imposition of tariffs (taxes) on the American people and his arbitrary raising of such taxes whenever he wants. That’s classic dictatorial conduct, given that Congress didn’t enact a law imposing or raising such taxes.

djt justice liberty truth metooTrumpsters love it. In their minds, the Great Leader is doing what he believes is necessary to make America great again. So what if he has to exercise dictatorial powers to do so.

Needless to say, this is how people throughout history have lost their liberties to Great Leaders. That’s in fact what the Constitution was intended to prevent. The Framers had no use for the Great Leader concept. Their notion was to limit severely the powers of anyone who became president.

In fact, notice that the Constitution doesn’t even provide an exception for emergencies and crises. That’s because they knew that crises and emergencies were the time-honored ways that Great Leaders acquired dictatorial powers.

Global News

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. and China Agree to Resume Trade Talks, Sending Markets Higher, Alexandra Stevenson, Sept. 5, 2019 (print ed.). Beijing’s top trade negotiator will go to Washington in early October, after President’s Trump new penalties on Chinese goods are set to kick in.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Million Refugees May Soon Lose Their Line to the Outside World, Hannah Beech, Sept. 5, 2019. As Bangladesh vowed to cut off mobile phone access in Rohingya camps, refugees who fled terror in Myanmar despaired over their future. About one million Rohingya Muslims in camps in Bangladesh could soon lose a vital connection to the outside world if the government moves forward with a threat to suspend cell service to the world’s largest refugee settlement.

Citing “state security” and “public safety,” the Bangladeshi telecommunications minister ordered a halt this week to mobile phone service in camps crowded with Rohingya Muslims who fled ethnic cleansing in their native Myanmar. The blackout is scheduled to take effect by Sunday.

“Our suffering will be unlimited if mobile phone communication goes off,” said Ramjan Ali, a Rohingya refugee in Bangladesh.

The directive from the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, which was issued last Sunday, notes that only Bangladeshis with national identity cards are allowed to possess local SIM cards and bans the sale of cellphone services in the camps. Telecom companies that violate the order will be fined, it said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Solomon Islands Weighs Cutting Ties to Taiwan, Chris Horton, Sept. 5, 2019. The move comes as American officials accuse Beijing of destabilizing the Pacific as its influence in the region grows. The Solomon Islands is said to be considering breaking diplomatic relations with Taiwan in order to establish formal ties with China, a move that comes as American officials accuse Beijing of destabilizing the Pacific as its influence in the region grows.

Such a decision, if formally approved, would leave only 16 countries that officially recognize Taiwan’s government. The Communist government in China, which claims Taiwan as its territory despite never having ruled it, says the self-governing island has no right to official diplomatic ties.

On Wednesday, a Solomon Islands lawmaker, Peter Shanel Agovaka, informed a parliamentary committee of the plan to end the country’s relations with Taiwan. “It’s time that we should move on with our life,” Mr. Agovaka said, according to a recording of the meeting that was published by Reuters on Thursday.

The South Pacific has been a bulwark for Taiwan, with six countries in the region maintaining diplomatic relations with Taipei. The economic pull of Beijing, however, is strong. China is by far the largest buyer of Solomon Islands exports, and it has offered the island nation millions of dollars to help it move away from Taiwan.

Epstein Donationsjeffrey epstein alan dershowitz

The late sex trafficker and philanthropist Jeffrey Epstein, left, chats with Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz, a defense counsel for Epstein.

washington post logoWashington Post, Epstein’s donations to universities reveal a painful truth about philanthropy, Susan Svrluga, Sept. 5, 2019. Academics confront a hard realization: The financier’s donations supported important research, but they also provided a veneer of credibility to a convicted sex offender.

MIT logoJeffrey Epstein forged deep ties with some of the nation’s elite universities and their scholars, showering them with millions of dollars in donations. As the extent of those gifts comes into sharper focus, academics confront a painful realization: The financier’s donations supported important research and helped scientists work toward discoveries, but they also provided a veneer of credibility to a convicted sex offender.

The ensuing fallout — prompting resignations and continued soul-searching and outrage — illuminates enduring questions for academia about the money that fuels harvard logoresearch, and how institutions nurture relationships with donors in the race to excel.

Epstein gave repeatedly to MIT and Harvard University. At MIT, the president, L. Rafael Reif, apologized to Epstein’s victims in a message to campus. The school accepted about $800,000 of Epstein’s money over 20 years, Reif wrote, with gifts to the MIT Media Lab and to Harvard University. Espstein is shown with Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz.

Inside DC

Roll Call, Ethics Committee releases more details on allegations against David Schweikert, Katherine Tully-McManus, Sept. 5, 2019. Arizona Republican is already facing inquiry by House panel.  The House Ethics Committee has released information on an expanded list of allegations against Rep. David Schweikert. The Arizona Republican is under investigation by the panel, which made public a second referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics. Under House Ethics rules, the committee is required to release OCE referrals one year after they are sent to the House.

The latest allegations in the OCE report — which the office submitted to the House Ethics Committee last September — prompted the panel to expand the scope of its inquiry. The report shows that the OCE board voted unanimously to recommend an expanded inquiry into Schweikert.

OCE is an nonpartisan entity that reviews allegations of misconduct involving House staff and lawmakers and refers cases to the House Ethics panel. The office has jurisdiction to investigate alleged violations of a “law, rule, regulation or other standard of conduct.”

The OCE previously found “substantial reason” to believe Schweikert authorized expenditures from his Members’ Representational Allowance, or MRA, that his former chief of staff, Richard Oliver Schwab Jr., made outside the scope of permissible official expenses.

The office also recommended further review of allegations that the congressman failed to ensure his campaign committee followed the rules in accepting contributions from one of his congressional office employees that were later reimbursed from his official office account.

Sept. 4

UK Democracy Crisis

united kingdom flagwashington post logoWashington Post, House of Commons passes bill seeking to avert no-deal Brexit in blow to Johnson, Kevin Sullivan and Karla Adam​, Sept. 4, 2019. The legislation — which won’t be final until the House of Lords votes later this week — would effectively delay Brexit an additional three months. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's motion to call a general election is also expected to fail Wednesday.

Major 9/11 Report Released

Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth via PR Newswire, University Study Finds Fire Did Not Cause 3rd Tower's Collapse on 9/11, Staff report via Ted Walter, Sept. 4, 2019. ae 911 truth logo horizontalThe fall of the 47-story World Trade Center Building 7 (WTC 7) in New York City late in the afternoon of September 11, 2001, was not a result of fires, according to a draft report released yesterday by researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) following a four-year computer modeling study funded by Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth.

The UAF team's findings contradict those of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, which concluded in a 2008 report that WTC 7 was the first tall building ever to collapse primarily due to fire. The collapse of WTC 7 has long been the subject of controversy, with critics of the government's account arguing it was brought down in a controlled demolition.

UAF civil engineering professor Leroy Hulsey was the study's principal investigator. Feng Xiao, now an associate professor at Nanjing University of Science and Technology, and Zhili Quan, now a bridge engineer for the South Carolina Department of Transportation, were research assistants and co-authors.

"Our study found that the fires in WTC 7 could not have caused the collapse recorded on video," said Professor Hulsey. "We simulated every plausible scenario, and we found that the series of failures that NIST claimed triggered a progressive collapse of the entire structure could not have occurred. The only thing that could have brought this structure down in the manner observed on 9/11 is the near-simultaneous failure of every column in the building below Floor 17."

The UAF study was funded by Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911Truth), a nonprofit representing more than 3,000 architects and engineers who have signed the organization's petition calling upon Congress to open a new investigation into the destruction of the three World Trade Center towers on 9/11.

The release of the draft report begins a two-month period during which the public is invited to submit comments. The final report will be published later this year. The research team plans to make public by the end of September all of the data used and generated during the study, a decision that contrasts with NIST's withholding of key modeling data on the grounds that releasing it "might jeopardize public safety."

Inside DC

Palmer Report, Opinion: Well that just blew up in Bill Barr’s face, Bill Palmer, Sept. 4, 2019. Shortly after Donald Trump’s corrupt Attorney General Bill Barr brought an end greg craig smiling cropped headshot 9 4 19 IMG 6685to Robert Mueller’s criminal investigation and then tried to bury Mueller’s findings, Barr’s Department of Justice brought criminal charges against bill palmer report logo headerGregory Craig (shown in a Justice Integrity Project photo).

The reason why was obvious enough.

Of all the numerous people who got caught up in Paul Manafort’s international web of criminal deceit, one of them was Greg Craig, who had previously served in the Obama administration. Bill Barr rather obviously had the DOJ target Craig for prosecution, despite the sketchy william barr new onature of the criminal case against him, so that Trump and Barr could then claim the Trump-Russia scandal was actually an Obama scandal.

Today, however, a jury rather quickly acquitted Greg Craig. To date it’s the only criminal case resulting from the Mueller probe which hasn’t resulted in a conviction and/or guilty plea, which tells you just how weak of a case this was.

So now Bill Barr, shown in an official photo, is stuck with the reality that the one and only person acquitted in the Trump-Russia scandal is the one and only Obama Democrat who had been charged in the Trump-Russia scandal. If the charges against Greg Craig were supposed to be some kind of 2020 campaign slogan for Donald Trump, it’s ended up being the opposite.

Dorian Disaster

washington post logoWashington Post, Massive rescue, relief effort underway in Bahamas, Anthony Faiola, Maria Sacchetti, Tim Craig and Joel Achenbach, Sept. 4, 2019. The death toll late Wednesday was 20, according to Minister of Health Duane Sands, and it is likely to rise further as emergency responders work their way through the debris and rubble and the drowned neighborhoods.

•Thousands listed as missing in the Bahamas as rescuers, relatives comb the rubble

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘There’s nothing left’: Storm reduces paradise to a miserable heap, Anthony Faiola, Sept. 4, 2019. Some in the closely knit Bahamian community of Green Turtle Cay tried to ride out the hurricane. Now fear and desperation are spreading as basic necessities grow harder and harder to obtain.

Green Turtle Cay is a tightknit community of about 500 people. Everyone here is family — either because they’re related, or because they’ve lived here together for so long. Now their island paradise has turned to hell. Islanders are struggling without power, without water, without a steady supply of food.

washington post logoWashington Post, President Trump showed a doctored hurricane chart. Was it to cover up for ‘Alabama’ Twitter flub? Matthew Cappucci and Andrew Freedman, Sept. 4, 2019.  Trump had erroneously stated that Hurricane Dorian threatened Alabama.

Assault Ban Worked

john donohue headshotny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: That Assault Weapon Ban? It Really Did Work, John Donohue, above, law professor at Stanford University) and Theodora Boulouta (senior at Stanford), Sept. 4, 2019. Since the ban was lifted in 2004, gun massacres involving military-style weapons are way up.

Recent mass shootings have revived demands for meaningful gun control. But many opponents of a renewed federal ban on assault weapons, led by the National Rifle Association, say the earlier ban, from 1994 to 2004, made no difference. Our new research shows otherwise.

We found that public mass shootings — which we defined as incidents in which a gunman killed at least six people in public — dropped during the decade of the federal ban. Yet, in the 15 years since the ban ended, the trajectory of gun massacres has been sharply upward, largely tracking the growth in ownership of military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines.

This decline is plausible because assault weapons are semiautomatic firearms designed for rapid fire and combat use, and large-capacity magazines increase the number of rounds that can be fired without reloading. While the gun lobby prevented the ban from being as effective as it could have been and saddled the law with a 10-year sunset provision, the ban did impede the easy access to the type of lethal weaponry that those intent on mass killing have readily available in most of the country today. (Assault weapons are legal in 43 states; large-capacity magazines, commonly understood as ammunition-feeding devices holding more than 10 rounds, are legal in 41.)

The Supreme Court should heed the words of the conservative Reagan appointee Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson when the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit voted to uphold the Maryland assault weapons ban:

“To say in the wake of so many mass shootings in so many localities across this country that the people themselves are now to be rendered newly powerless, that all they can do is stand by and watch as federal courts design their destiny — this would deliver a body blow to democracy.”

The extraordinary increase in the body count from public gun massacres since the end of the federal assault weapons ban and the passage of the federal immunity statute for the gun industry has one obvious explanation: the brazen promotion and the proliferating, loosely regulated, highly profitable sales of the most desirable and effective weaponry for committing mass murder.


washington post logoWashington Post, Hurricane Dorian starts inching north, closer to Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas after pounding the Bahamas, Andrew Freedman and Jason Samenow, Sept. 4, 2019 (print ed.). Dorian brought an historic and extended onslaught to the Bahamas. 

Hurricane Dorian is beginning a much-advertised turn to the north-northwest, away from the Bahamas but toward the U.S. mainland, where it is expected to bring significant impacts. As of Tuesday morning, the storm was moving northwest at 1 mph just to the north of Grand Bahama Island and was continuing its historic onslaught in the northwestern Bahamas.

Dorian, which has weakened some to a still-formidable Category 3 storm, slammed into the northwestern Bahamas over the weekend with the historic full fury of its 185-mile-per-hour winds and 23-foot storm surge.santa clara fire ktla

washington post logoWashington Post, 34 feared dead as bodies are recovered after boat fire off Calif. coast, Scott Wilson and Eli Rosenberg, Sept. 4, 2019 (print ed.). Five crew members escaped the 75-foot boat, but authorities fear the rest of the passengers were lost as rescuers searched the wreckage of the boat, which sank in about 65 feet of water. (Photo above via KTLA-TV.)

There was a fire burning uncontrollably in the galley of the 75-foot Conception just after 3 a.m. on Monday, a blaze that would consume the boat, which was filled with divers on a private excursion and the tanks of air they used to explore the depths. The guests, sleeping tightly packed in stacks of bunk beds below, were trapped. Five of the crew members were able to escape into the waters near the shores of Santa Cruz Island.

U.S. War Hawks

ny times logoNew York Times, The Secret History of the Push to Strike Iran, Ronen Bergman and Mark Mazzetti, Sept. 4, 2019. Hawks in Israel and America have spent more than a decade agitating for war against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. Will President Trump finally deliver?

iran flag mapTrump’s abrogation of the Iran deal has revived the poker game, but this time with an American president whose tendency to bluster about American power but avoid actually using it has made the situation in recent months even more volatile.

Trump’s immediate goal appears to be to batter Iran’s economy with sanctions to the point that the country’s leaders will renegotiate the nuclear deal — and its military support for Hezbollah and other proxy groups — on terms that the administration deems more favorable to the United States. But it is also based on a gamble that Iran will break before November 2020, when the next American election could bring a new president who ends Trump’s hardball tactics.

This is all in aid of what the president’s advisers see as the larger goal, one embraced not only by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel but also by the Arab states in the Persian Gulf: a realignment of the Middle East, with Israel and select Sunni nations gaining supremacy over Iran and containing the world’s largest Shiite-majority state.

It is a wholly different vision than the one advanced by Obama, who committed to keeping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon but accepted the notion that Iran would become a counterweight to Saudi Arabia’s influence in the region. The two countries would have to “share the neighborhood,” as he put it, an idea that some Trump-administration officials sneer at. As one coolly explains, “We’ve decided to deal with Iran as it is, rather than as we’d like it to be.”

U.S. 2020 Politics

Roll Call, Longtime Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner not running for reelection, Bridget Bowman, Sept. 4, 2019. Congressman becomes 12th House Republican to retire this year. Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner announced Wednesday that he will not run for reelection next year.

The longtime lawmaker’s exit means the Badger State is losing its most senior member, and the second-most-senior Republican in the House. He is also the second Wisconsin Republican to announce he is leaving Congress after Rep. Sean P. Duffy said last month that he would be resigning on Sept. 23.

Sensenbrenner has represented the Milwaukee suburbs since he was first elected in 1978. President Donald Trump carried his 5th District by 20 points in 2016 and Sensenbrenner won a 21st term last year by 24 points.

  • California Democratic Rep. Susan Davis announces retirement
  • Republican Rep. Bill Flores to retire, continuing exodus from Texas ranks

Trump Watch

Palmer Report, Opinion; Arrest warrant issued for Donald Trump’s pal Jacob Wohl, Bill Palmer, Sept. 4, 2019. Jacob Wohl is best known for a few things. He’s the guy who tried to frame Robert Mueller for sexual harassment, only for the whole thing to blow up hilariously in Wohl’s face. He’s also the guy who got banned from Twitter for using fake accounts to defend himself. Wohl is also, naturally, buddies with Donald Trump. Now Wohl is about to be best known for something else: his arrest.

bill palmer report logo headerAn arrest warrant has been issued for Jacob Wohl, on charges of trying to sell “unqualified securities” to would-be investors, according to NBC News and other sources. We have no idea if he’s guilty or innocent on these charges. But it’s notable that years ago, the National Futures Association banned Wohl for life, for allegedly making fraudulent financial transactions.

Unless Wohl goes on the lam, this warrant means that he’ll be arrested today and taken to jail. We’ll then see whether or not a judge lets him out on bail. He’ll join a long list of Donald Trump associates who have been arrested and/or indicted since Trump took office, including Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, George Papadopoulos, Rick Gates, Roger Stone, and others.

washington post logoPresident Donald Trump officialWashington Post, Trump said he granted a disaster declaration at the request of North Carolina’s Republican senator. It came from the state’s Democratic governor, John Wagner, Sept. 4, 2019. With Hurricane Dorian heading toward the Tar Heel State, the president appeared to inject politics into the federal emergency process. Sen. Thom Tillis (R) is up for reelection next year.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Days after leaving post, ex-Interior official who pushed drilling in Alaska takes oil company job, Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson, Sept. 4, 2019. Joe Balash, who served as the Interior Department’s top official overseeing oil and gas leasing on federal land until Friday, is joining an oil firm that's expanding drilling operations on Alaska's North Slope.

Roll Call, Ex-Rep. Aaron Schock off the hook after concluding deal with feds over fund misuse, Katherine Tully-McManus, Sept. 4, 2019. Ex-Rep. Aaron Schock off the hook after concluding deal with feds over fund misuse/ Illinois Republican left with clean record, leaving open a political comeback.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pentagon approves diversion of military construction funds for Trump’s wall, Paul Sonne and Seung Min Kim, Sept. 4, 2019 (print ed.). Defense Secretary mark esperMark T. Esper, right, agrees to take $3.6 billion that was designated for 127 military construction projects to pay for 175 miles of border wall.

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump encouraged Pence to stay at his golf resort in Ireland, Robert Costa, David A. Fahrenthold and John Wagner, Sept. 4, 2019. The vice president and Marc Short, his chief of staff, defended an arrangement on a government trip that has drawn criticism from Democrats, who contend it is helping to enrich Trump.

Trump's Wall Finance Ploy

washington post logoWashington Post, Pentagon takes money from Puerto Rico, European projects to fund Trump’s wall, Paul Sonne and Seung Min Kim, Sept. 4, 2019. The Pentagon is defunding Hurricane Maria recovery projects at military installations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to pay for President Trump’s border barrier and is also taking money from construction projects across Europe designed to help allies deter Russia.

The details of the 127 military construction projects that stand to lose funding to free up $3.6 billion for fencing and barriers on the southern border with Mexico were made public late Wednesday by the Defense Department. The list features projects in 23 states, three U.S. territories and 20 countries.

The decisions deal a particular blow to Puerto Rico, which stands to see more than $400 million worth of planned projects lose funding. Roughly $770 million of the money will be taken from projects in allied European nations aimed at helping them deter a possible attack from Russia.

Officially, the Pentagon is saying the affected projects are “deferred,” but in order for them to go ahead in the future, Congress must again fund them. The Republican-led Senate has agreed to do so in its annual defense policy bill, but the Democratic-led House refused in its version of the bill. The two sides will negotiate a possible compromise in conference, the period when the Senate and House make trades to meld two bills into one before seeking the president’s signature.

ny times logoNew York Times, Nearly every facet of military life will be affected by the Pentagon’s transfer of $3.6 billion to fund a border wall, Emily Cochrane and Helene Cooper, Sept. 4, 2019. The Pentagon plans to divert funds from military construction projects in nearly half the 50 states, three territories and 19 countries to the southwestern border wall as part of President Trump’s efforts to bypass Congress and redirect spending to his signature campaign promise.

Nearly every facet of military life, from a canceled dining center in Puerto Rico to a small arms firing range in Tulsa, Okla., to an elementary school in Wiesbaden, Germany, will be affected by the transfer of $3.6 billion in congressionally appropriated funds detailed by the Defense Department on Wednesday.

The cuts involve projects such as rifle ranges, aircraft simulators, hangars, port repairs and a cyberoperations center in Virginia, with the biggest impact in Puerto Rico, Guam, New York and New Mexico. In the case of Puerto Rico, the Defense Department plans to divert funds from projects targeted after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017.

The $3.6 billion, taken from 127 projects across the globe, will go toward 11 projects in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, which include both new construction and some fencing replacement. The longest stretch of new pedestrian fencing — about 52 miles — is scheduled for Laredo, Tex., along the Rio Grande.

Honest Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, The Battle Over the Files of a Gerrymandering Mastermind, Michael Wines, Sept. 4, 2019. At the heart of a decisive court ruling on Tuesday striking down North Carolina’s state legislative maps was evidence culled from the computer backups of the man who drew them: Thomas B. Hofeller, the Republican strategist and master of gerrymandering, who died last year.

rnc logoDocuments from the backups, which surfaced after his death, were also central to the legal battle over adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. An enormous stash of digital files, covering Mr. Hofeller’s work in almost every state, has yet to be examined.

But in a state court in Raleigh, N.C., another courtroom battle is underway. Its aim is to ensure that those files are never publicly scrutinized.

Republican political figures filed a flurry of motions on Friday in the same court that issued the gerrymandering decision, all seeking to seal or destroy the 75,000-plus files that contain more than 100,000 documents and thousands of maps. Among them were a South Carolina lawyer, Dalton L. Oldham, who was a partner with Mr. Hofeller in a consultancy, Geographic Strategies L.L.C., that advised the Republican Party and party leaders nationwide on redistricting.

Mr. Oldham argues that Mr. Hofeller’s digital archive contains confidential work for clients like the Republican National Committee and that it includes trade secrets and information covered by lawyer-client privilege that should be erased or kept secret.

“Disclosure of these documents would reveal a major political party’s internal, proprietary and highly confidential communications and strategy,” a brief submitted by his lawyers stated.

A lawyer for Mr. Oldham, Robert N. Hunter Jr., declined to comment on the dispute, citing North Carolina legal guidelines. But a senior official at Common Cause North Carolina, the public-interest organizing group that helped bring the successful suit against the state’s legislative maps, argued that the public interest demanded that Mr. Hofeller’s digital archive be open to scrutiny.

“We’ve already seen that these files have been instrumental in exposing lies around the effort to add a citizenship question to the census and around subverting a court’s order to redraw gerrymandered lines,” Kathay Feng, the national redistricting director for the group, said in an interview.

“The Hofeller files are important because they’re the only thing that will allow the American people to know the truth behind the efforts to rig redistricting and elections,” she added. “They have to be made public.”

Documents from the backups, which surfaced after his death, were also central to the legal battle over adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. An enormous stash of digital files, covering Mr. Hofeller’s work in almost every state, has yet to be examined.

But in a state court in Raleigh, N.C., another courtroom battle is underway. Its aim is to ensure that those files are never publicly scrutinized.

The hard drives of a G.O.P. strategist who died last year have upended lawsuits over the 2020 census and legislative maps. The North Carolina Legislative Building in Raleigh has been the center of a years-long battle over the fairness of electoral maps drawn up by a Republican consultant, Thomas B. Hofeller. A court on Tuesday ruled that they were unconstitutional gerrymanders.

Whatever the merits of that argument, the decision to disclose the files or keep them private carries potentially weighty political consequences, said David Daley, whose 2016 book on gerrymandering helped shape a national debate on the practice.

The few documents released so far “have transformed the national conversation about the citizenship question and helped overturn a set of statewide maps in North Carolina,” he said, adding, “There are tens of thousands of documents left to go. Think of the impact.”

The Republican National Committee, Geographic Strategies’ principal client from the firm’s creation in 2011 to July 2018, filed a similar motion to keep the files invisible. So did Republican leaders in North Carolina’s State Legislature, who hired Mr. Hofeller in 2011 and 2017 to draw the maps that the state court on Tuesday struck down as a blatantly unconstitutional gerrymander.

At issue are four hard drives and 18 thumb drives, comprising years of backups of Mr. Hofeller’s computer, that came to public attention only by the oddest of coincidences. Stephanie Hofeller, Mr. Hofeller’s estranged daughter, found the drives while visiting her mother after the strategist’s death in August 2018. While searching for a lawyer to handle estate issues, Ms. Hofeller mentioned the backups in passing to an official at Common Cause North Carolina.

The state’s Republican leaders have excoriated Ms. Hofeller over her actions. “Dr. Hofeller, of course, would not have willingly handed all his files to his political and legal opponents,” they wrote in a brief. “Most of the documents were not Mrs. Hofeller’s to give. Dr. Hofeller created and possessed them as an agent for his clients, so even he lacked the authority to turn them over without their authorization.”

Lawyers for Common Cause subpoenaed the backups early this year and discovered political bombshells: Documents in the North Carolina gerrymandering lawsuit appeared to indicate that Republican leaders had lied to a federal court in 2017 about their reliance on racial demographics to create the legislative map that was invalidated on Tuesday. (The leaders have denied the accusations; the state court called their explanation “not credible.”)

Other documents tied Mr. Hofeller directly to the Trump administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, and offered a potential motive: reducing the population count in predominantly Democratic areas with many noncitizens, and thus increasing Republican representation. The Supreme Court rejected the citizenship question in June.

Republican figures have been fighting to keep the Hofeller backups confidential since spring, but the effort gained steam in July, when lawyers for Mr. Oldham asked the court to seal the backups to stop plaintiffs in the gerrymandering lawsuit from “continuing to publish Geographic Strategies’ confidential trade secrets to the world.” (In practice, lawyers in the gerrymandering case disclosed only a few of Hofeller documents during that trial and in the census lawsuit.)

The court rejected efforts to keep documents from the backups from being introduced in the gerrymandering trial, but it did agree to allow both Republican legislative leaders in North Carolina and Geographic Strategies to review copies of the backups. The results were arresting: 195,887 redistricting map files and 100,658 documents, including 17,533 relating to Geographic Strategies, some 1,800 involving groups affiliated with the Republican Party and nearly 20,000 containing personal Hofeller family information, according to an analysis by Geographic Strategies experts.

 Trump Impeachment Research

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats Examining Impeachment Target Trump’s Pardon Offers to Immigration Officials, Nicholas Fandos, Sept. 4, 2019. Democrats appear to be expanding the scope of their impeachment inquiry beyond Russian election interference and possible obstruction of justice. The House Judiciary Committee ordered homeland security officials on Wednesday to hand over records related to reported offers by President Trump to pardon aides willing to break the law to carry out his immigration policies.

democratic donkey logoWith a subpoena addressed to the department’s acting secretary, Kevin K. McAleenan, House Democrats indicated that they were continuing to expand the scope of their investigation into whether to impeach the president beyond the special counsel’s core findings on Russian election interference and possible presidential obstruction of justice.

A president who knowingly directed government officials to break the law and dangled pardons to appease them would constitute an abuse of power, the Judiciary Committee’s chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, said on Wednesday. He promised hearings on the matter in the coming weeks, linking it to other potential abuses under investigation by Democrats.

“Such a troubling pattern of obstruction of justice would represent a continuation of the misconduct identified in the Mueller report,” Mr. Nadler said in a statement. “The framers did not envision the use of the presidential pardon power to encourage criminal acts at the president’s direction.”

More On Epstein's Scandals

ny times logoJeffrey Epstein Harvard University New York Times, Jeffrey Epstein’s New York Hunting Ground: Dance Studios, Ali Watkins, Sept. 4, 2019 (print ed.). The financier recruited young dancers to give him erotic massages even after his 2008 conviction for soliciting prostitution from a minor. Lisa was 17 when a fellow dancer approached her after a ballet class in 2002 and asked if she wanted to give private exercise classes to a wealthy man named Jeffrey Epstein.


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)

New York Post, British actress ‘distraught’ over being linked to Jeffrey Epstein’s inner circle, Lee Brown, Sept. 5, 2019. A British actress accused of being in Jeffrey Epstein’s inner circle is “distraught” over the “shocking” allegations against her, according to her family. Prosecutors in the US reportedly want to interview Emmy Tayler, 44, over her ties to the late pedophile as the investigation widens following his suicide at a Manhattan lockup last month.

Tayler was a personal assistant to Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s former gal pal and alleged madam, and named in court filings as among his friends who flew on his “Lolita Express” jet at the time he was trafficking girls.

UK Parliamentary Snapshot

jacob reese moog Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Jacob Rees-Mogg Takes Brexit Lying Down, Benjamin Mueller, Sept. 4, 2019. Mr. Rees-Mogg, the House of Commons leader, reclined on Parliament’s front benches during Tuesday’s debates, offering a target for the prime minister’s foes and inspiring internet memes. Not long after asking the House of united kingdom flagCommons to “contemplate the current constitutional confusion and consider the chaos this concatenation of circumstances could create” on Tuesday night, the British lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg reclined on the front bench of the chamber until he was nearly horizontal.

Around him colleagues raged at the power grabs of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government, in which Mr. Rees-Mogg serves as leader of the House of Commons. But there was Mr. Rees-Mogg, nicknamed “the honorable gentleman from the 18th century” for his old-world tics and antiquarian poshness, looking like a Degas model, with his willowy frame and long, angular face.
For a government in crisis over its plan to shut down Parliament and pull Britain out of the European Union, it was a devastating look, seeming to confirm critics’ worst fears about a government of smug, entitled private school types sleepwalking into a no-deal Brexit that could wreck the economy and starve Britons of food and medicine.

Israeli Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, Scandals, Rivals and U.S. Tarnish Netanyahu’s Aura of Invincibility, David M. Halbfinger, Sept. 4, 2019. While Israelis have learned never to count out their wily prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, his victory in the coming election faces serious hurdles.

Younger rivals in his Likud party are circling overhead. Bombshell exposés on the nightly news have returned his looming indictment on corruption charges to the forefront.

Even Benjamin Netanyahu’s undisputed advantage over every challenger, his primacy on the international stage as Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, has lately been a source of as much embarrassment as luster.

With two weeks until a do-over election that was forced on the country by his inability to form a government after coming out on top in the April ballot, Mr. Netanyahu’s larger-than-life persona may have lost something that made his re-elections once seem inevitable.

A series of recent setbacks has overtaken his aura of indispensability.

JFK Murder Research

ny times logoNew York Times, Marita Lorenz, Who Told Tales of Castro and Kennedy, Dies at 80, Sam Roberts, Sept. 4, 2019. She was romanced by revolutionaries. She was called “a patron saint of conspiracy buffs.” At least some of her stories appear to be true. Marita Lorenz, who became pregnant after an affair with Fidel Castro, but who balked at poisoning the Cuban dictator in an American-linked plot by counter-revolutionaries, died on Aug. 31 in Oberhausen, Germany. She was 80.

fidel castroThe cause was cardiac failure, her daughter, Monica Mercedes Pérez Jiménez, said.

The daughter of an American actress with whom she was interned as a child in a concentration camp and a father who commanded a U-boat fleet, Ms. Lorenz led a swashbuckling life so implausible that separating the morsels of reality from what may have been unprovable or illusory was, at times, virtually impossible.

Her romance with Castro, right, and another with Marcos Pérez Jiménez, the Venezuelan generalissimo who fathered their daughter, both appear to have been confirmed. But whether she and Castro produced a son named Andre, who grew up to be a pediatrician in Cuba, is arguable.

Sept. 3

UK Democracy Crisisdjt boris johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, and his political ally Donald Trump (file photos)

washington post logoWashington Post, Boris Johnson loses Parliamentary majority, faces Brexit showdown, Kevin Sullivan and Karla Adam​, Sept. 3, 2019. The showdown in Parliament, which returned from its summer recess Tuesday, follows days of legislators accusing each other of attacking British democracy. ​ Here’s what we know:

● Johnson has lost his majority in Parliament, with the defection of Conservative Phillip Lee to the Liberal Democrats.united kingdom flag

● The opposition, including members of Johnson’s party, is seeking to pass legislation to delay Brexit.

● Johnson, who is addressing Parliament now, has said that if his foes succeed he will call early elections.

CNN, Johnson says he would in fact request a Brexit delay if Parliament passed a law ordering him to, Bianca Britton and Ivana Kottasová, Sept. 3, 2019. Prime Minister Boris Johnson (shown in a file photo below) said that if the Parliament passed legislation requiring him to go to Brussels and request another extension to Brexit, he would in fact follow the law. See also, 1:24 min. video via CNN.

boris johnson hand up unsourcedboris johnson brexit guardian sept 4 2019His comments come a day after Johnson said that "there are no circumstances in which I will ask Brussels to delay" Brexit. Earlier in the debate, Johnson also said he would obey the law if Parliament passed a bill rejecting a no-deal Brexit.

The statement comes after Michael Gove, a member of Johnson's cabinet, refused on Sunday to confirm that the government would abide by any law preventing a no-deal Brexit if one is passed by Parliament. Questioned about what the government would do if attempts in Parliament by the opposition were successful to prevent the UK exiting the European Union without a deal, Gove told the BBC: "You're asking me about a pig in a poke and I will wait to see what legislation the opposition may try to bring forward.

Trump 2016 Payoff Scandal

djt stormy daniels 2006

washington post logoWashington Post, House Democrats plan to launch inquiry into Trump’s alleged role in scheme to silence affair accusations, Rachael Bade and Tom Hamburger, Sept. 3, 2019 (print ed.). House Democrats plan to make President Trump’s alleged involvement in a 2016 scheme to silence two women who claimed they had affairs with him a major djt karen mcdougal blue dressinvestigative focus this fall, picking up where federal prosecutors left off in a case legal experts say could have led to additional indictments.

The House Judiciary Committee is preparing to hold hearings and call witnesses involved in hush-money payments to ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal (at right) and adult-film star Stormy Daniels (shown above with Trump in a 2006 photo) as soon as October, according to people familiar with the plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.

Democrats say they believe there is already enough evidence to name Trump as a co-conspirator in the episode that resulted in his former attorney, Michael Cohen, pleading guilty to two campaign finance charges.

Cohen, who is serving a three-year prison sentence for those counts and other crimes, testified under oath that Trump directed the payments that helped land him behind bars. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan also described Trump’s alleged role in the scheme, referring to him in court papers as “Individual-1.” But they concluded their investigation this summer without bringing any additional charges.

Inside DC

 ny times logoNew York Times, To Start Afghan Withdrawal, U.S. Would Pull 5,400 Troops in 135 Days, Mujib Mashal, Sept. 3, 2019 (print ed.). It still needs President Trump’s approval. An agreement with the Taliban was finalized “in principle”, a U.S. envoy said, 

ny times logoNew York Times, Facing criticism, the Trump administration reversed a move to abruptly end humanitarian relief for gravely ill migrants, Miriam Jordan, Sept. 3, 2019 (print ed.). The Trump administration on Monday announced that it would reconsider its decision to force immigrants facing life-threatening health crises to return to their home countries, an abrupt move last month that generated public outrage and was roundly condemned by the medical establishment.

On Aug. 7, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, without public notice, eliminated a “deferred action” program that had allowed immigrants to avoid deportation while they or their relatives were undergoing lifesaving medical treatment.

The agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security, had sent letters informing those who had asked for a renewal, which the immigrants must make every two years, that it was no longer entertaining such requests. The letters said that the immigrants must leave the country within 33 days, or face deportation.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: The Great Tax Break Heist, Paul Krugman, right, Sept. 3, 2019 (print ed.). The many, many fiascos of policy by tax cut. A few days ago The Times reported on widespread abuse of a provision in the 2017 Trump tax cut that was supposed to help struggling urban workers. The provision created a tax jared kushner head shotbreak for investment in so-called “opportunity zones,” which would supposedly help create jobs in low-income areas.

In reality the tax break has been used to support high-end hotels and apartment buildings, warehouses that employ hardly any people and so on. And it has made a handful of wealthy, well-connected investors — including the family of Jared Kushner, left, Donald Trump’s son-in-law — even wealthier.

U.S. 2020 Politics

washington post logomichael gersonWashington Post, Opinion: 2016 taught us a lesson about Trump. Now we need to unlearn it, Michael Gerson (syndicated columnist and former White House speechwriter, shown right in an official photo, for George W. Bush), Sept. 3, 2019 (print ed.). The outcome of the 2016 presidential election reinforced a certain lesson: Don’t underestimate Donald Trump.

All good lessons, however, are eventually overlearned, especially by once-burned political commentators. In this case, our reticence disguises just how weak Trump really is. While it is absurd at this point to predict anything about the 2020 presidential election, no sane candidate would prefer to be playing Trump’s hand.

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: It's more than obvious that we are all living with a dementia sufferer, Sept. 3, 2019. Anyone who has ever cared for a relative or a close friend suffering from dementia is well aware of the effects of this debilitating disease.

Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge orders White House to restore press pass of reporter involved in confrontation, Paul Farhi, Sept. 3, 2019. A federal judge on Tuesday reversed the White House’s decision to suspend a reporter’s press credentials, granting a motion that will restore him to his beat.

The ruling was a victory for Brian Karem, a White House correspondent for Playboy magazine and a CNN political analyst, who had been suspended by officials for 30 days in mid-August because of his role in a verbal confrontation with a former White House aide at a White House event on July 11. He was the second reporter suspended in the past nine months, a step that appears to be without recent precedent before President Trump’s administration. Trump banned more than a dozen news organizations, including The Washington Post, from his campaign events in 2015 and 2016 but said he wouldn’t do so if he became president.

Karem, who has been outspoken in his opposition to Trump, sued White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham and the president last month. He argued that the suspension, which began Aug. 16, was arbitrary and violated his constitutional rights of free speech and due process.

Sept. 2

Global Headlines (Details below)

Texas Mass Shooting Toll

washington post logoseth atorWashington Post, Texas shooting death toll rises to 7, Ben Guarino, Sept. 2, 2019 (print ed.). ​​Police said the gunman, who was killed by officers after he hijacked a mail truck and went on a highway rampage, was a white man in his 30s, identified as Seth Ator, right. Police were searching for a motive.

  • New York Times, The man who sprayed gunfire across West Texas on Saturday had an erratic, nomadic life, including clashes with the law.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Texas Is Facing An Epidemic of Gun Violence, Richard Parker (author of “Lone Star Nation: How Texas Will Transform America”), Sept. 2, 2019 (print ed.). How many dead Texans does it take for Gov. Greg Abbott to respond?

Hurricane Dorian

washington post logoWashington Post, Hurricane Dorian city-by-city forecasts, Matthew Cappucci, Sept. 2, 2019. Hurricane Dorian has been lashing the Bahamas since early Sunday, bringing destructive winds at times topping 200 mph, along with a devastating surge of up to 23 feet. The now-Category 4 hurricane has moved less than 100 miles in 24 hours, stalling just northeast of Freeport in the Bahamas, parking its tornado-like eyewall over some areas for a terrifying six to 12 hours or more.

Dorian will barely move from the northwest Bahamas on Monday into early Tuesday before meandering slowly north, passing dangerously close to Florida and the U.S. Southeast coast. It will be a nail-biter for a number of U.S. cities, but just how close a shave Dorian becomes is still somewhat uncertain.

A hurricane warning has been posted for the immediate coastline from just south of Cape Canaveral to near Jupiter, Fla. On either side, a hurricane watch is up — down to Boca Raton and up through the Florida/Georgia border. Below, we’ve included a look at the forecast for several cities.

Boat Disaster

ny times logoNew York Times, 34 Missing in Boat Fire Off Santa Cruz Island in California, Officials Say, Niraj Chokshi, Sept. 2, 2019. Coast Guard officials said they believe there were 39 aboard and that five were rescued, all of them crew members who were awake and on the ship’s bridge when the fire began.

The boat sank 20 yards offshore as fire department crews were fighting the blaze. The boat was a 75-foot scuba diving vessel named “Conception.”

Global Crises

washington post logoWashington Post, Britain’s Johnson threatens to purge rebel party members as Brexit battle heats up, Karla Adam and Kevin Sullivan, Sept. 2, 2019. Prime Minister Boris Johnson sharply raised the stakes in the Brexit fight on Monday, threatening to kick members of Parliament out of the Conservative Party if they don’t support his plans to leave the European Union next month.

united kingdom flagThe move comes as Johnson, shown below left, and his opponents position themselves for a fierce showdown over Brexit on Tuesday when Parliament returns from its summer recess.

A cross-party group of opposition legislators, led by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, plan to introduce legislation to block Britain leaving the E.U. without an boris johnson hand up unsourcedagreement in place to regulate trade, border security and other critical issues — the so-called no-deal Brexit.

Most lawmakers in Parliament oppose leaving without an exit plan, something many analysts say could be economically damaging and lead to food and medicine shortages. Johnson has dismissed those predictions as fearmongering.

Conservative rebels reacted angrily to Johnson’s threat to force them out of the party, which would mean they could not run as Conservative candidates in future elections. A general election, as soon as the next few weeks, is a possibility if Johnson and his opponents fail to reach agreement over Brexit.

Nick Boles, a former Conservative legislator who quit the party over Brexit, told the BBC that Johnson’s tactics meant the party had been “taken over” by the “hard right.”

Britain’s next general election is scheduled for 2022. But under the British system, a general election can be called at virtually any time, as long as two-thirds of Parliament supports it.

Asia Times via Consortium News, Opinion: Amazon Burns Amid Brazil’s Incendiary Politics, Pepe Escobar, right, pepe escobar recentSept. 2, 2019. Fires rage in the Amazon as Brazilian President Bolsonaro becomes a target of global indignation. Brazil has always been a land of superlatives. Yet nothing beats the current, perverse configuration: a world statesman lingers in jail while a clownish thug is in power, his antics now considered a threat to the whole planet.

In a wide-ranging, two-hour, world exclusive interview out of a prison room at the Federal Police building in Curitiba, southern Brazil, former president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva not only made the case to global public opinion for his innocence in the whole Car Wash corruption saga, confirmed by the bombshell leaks revealed by The Intercept, but also repositioned himself to resume his status as a global leader. Arguably sooner rather than later – depending on a fateful, upcoming decision by the Brazilian Supreme Court, for which Justice is not exactly blind.

The request for the interview was entered five months ago. Lula talked to journalists Mauro Lopes, Paulo Moreira Leite and myself, representing in all three cases the website Brasil247 and in my case Asia Times. A rough cut, with only one camera focusing on Lula, was released this past Thursday, the day of the interview. A full, edited version, with English subtitles, targeting global public opinion, should be released by the end of the week.

U.S. Afghan Policy Dispute

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Administration Officials at Odds Over C.I.A.’s Role in Afghanistan, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Julian E. Barnes, Matthew Rosenberg and John Ismay, Sept. 2, 2019. Senior White House advisers have proposed secretly expanding the C.I.A.’s presence in Afghanistan if international forces begin to withdraw from the country, according to American officials. But C.I.A. and military officials have expressed reservations, prompting a debate in the administration that could complicate negotiations with the Taliban to end the war.

cia logoSome administration officials want C.I.A.-backed militia forces in Afghanistan to serve as part of a counterterrorism force that would prevent the resurgence of the Islamic State or Al Qaeda as American military troops prepare to leave — in effect, an insurance policy.

gina haspel screenshotBut others are skeptical that the shadowy militias, many of which face accusations of brutality, can serve as a bulwark against terrorism without the support of the American military.

The C.I.A. director, Gina Haspel, left, has raised logistical concerns about the plan with other administration officials, emphasizing that the agency operatives — who marshal the militias to hunt Taliban, Qaeda and Islamic State militants — largely depend on the military for airstrikes, overhead surveillance, medical support and bomb technicians.

The disagreement underscores the fault lines between those who want a final withdrawal and those who fear it would expose the U.S. to terrorist threats.

Global News: Israeli Attack

washington post logoisrael flagWashington Post, Israel strikes targets in southern Lebanon after apparent Hezbollah missile attack, Ruth Eglash and James McAuley, Sept. 2, 2019 (print ed.). An exchange of fire erupted Sunday on Israel’s northern border in a dramatic escalation of regional tensions, after Hezbolla  militants apparently fired antitank missiles from Lebanon toward an Israeli military base. Israel responded to the cross-border missile attack with heavy fire directed at targets in southern Lebanon.

OpEdNews, Opinion: Is Netanyahu ready to deceive Israelis and the US into war before the general election? Joseph Zernik, Sept. 2, 2019. IDF's "cute deceptive maneuver" failed. It could have led to escalation and war against Hezbollah, Iran's proxy in Lebanon, dragging the US into war as well. In short, Israel may drag the US into an undesired conflict in the Middle-east, driven by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's personal expediency.

benjamin netanyahu frownBasically, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) spokesman today issued a false presser to the Israeli public informing Israelis of wounded soldiers in a Hezbollah attack on a "medical vehicle."

It is likely that the "cute deception maneuver" failed because Rambam hospital doctors refused to collude. It should also be noted that IDF deliberately exposed medical evacuation personnel to Hezbollah fire. Bbut the bait failed, Hezbollah didn't bite.

All of this is taking place a couple of weeks before the general election, while Netanyahu is facing three indictments on three different corruption affairs, which may doom him to prison.

Therefore, it is not inconceivable that the prospect target is the Israeli public at large, and the goal may be escalation and possibly a smaller or larger scale operation in Lebanon.  After all, the Israeli government has been busy escalating tension the region over the past couple of weeks, striking as far as Iraq, to open US condemnation.Netanyahu is also displeased with Trump's recent opening to negotiations with Iran, which undermines Netanyahu's election campaign, which as usual is heavily dosed with Iran scare tactics.

Al Manar TV via SouthFront, Hezbollah Reveals Video Of ATGM Strike On Israeli Armoured Personnel Carrier, Staff report, Sept. 2, 2019. Hezbollah-linked al-Manar TV channelhas released a video showing Hezbollah’s anti-tank guided missile strike on Israel’s Wolf armoured personnel carrier near Avivim in Upper Galilee. Hezbollah says that the vehicle was destroyed and several Israeli soldiers were killed or injured. Israel denies any casualties.

Hong Kong Riots: Biased Coverage?

Moon of Alabama, Analysis: Hong Kong Rioters Wage Sabotage Campaign To Press Congress Into Punishing China, B, Sept. 2, 2019. The Associated Press is doing its best to make the Hong Kong police look bad by describing an incident without its context

Late at night Saturday, video from Hong Kong broadcaster TVB showed police on the platform of Prince Edward subway station swinging batons at passengers who backed into one end of a train car behind umbrellas. The video also shows pepper spray being shot through an open door at a group seated on the floor while one man holds up his hands.

Police officers said at a briefing Monday that they rejected accusations that they “beat up” ordinary citizens without first confirming their identities. They said they specifically targeted those who they believed to be rioters, including those who had changed out of their black protester outfits, and arrested 63 people on suspicion of illegal assembly and possessing explosives and offensive weapons.

The incident described in the first paragraph above did indeed happen. But it was only the last part of a larger story which the AP fails to mention. Here is how it started:

The violence in Prince Edward Station began during a dispute between protesters and some older men who were insulting them. One of the men swung a hammer at the protesters, who threw water bottles and umbrellas and later appeared to set off fire extinguishers in the car. After the clashes, the subway system suspended service across much of Hong Kong. Three stations remained closed on Sunday.

A full 10 minutes long video of the scene can be watched here.

It was the above incident that led the MTR, the public Mass Transit Railway operator, to stop the traffic at the station and to call up the police. When the riot police entered the station it immediately faced resistance:

The whole scene was not an isolated incident. Black clad folks ripped wastebaskets off the wall and threw them on the rail tracks. They smashed customer service centers, vandalized subway entry gates and hit regular passengers who disliked their behavior. This happened not only in one subway station but was part of a systematic attempt to disrupt the whole service:

The intent was obviously not to protest but a well planned and coordinated sabotage campaign against the city's indispensable mass transport system. Sabotaging infrastructure is an old CIA tactic to "harass and demoralize enemy administrators and police." Tianamen was, as we now know, a CIA-led color revolution attempt, set up within a background of general protests, in which the U.S. regime change mastermind Gene Sharp was directly involved. The mostly falsely reported incident, during which soldiers were lynched and protesters gunned down, led to 'western' sanctions against China.

Beijing is not going to fall for the same trick twice. The Joshua Wong op-ed [by a protester in the New York Times] shows that the aim has now been lowered. The riots and the inevitable police response to them are now supposed to push Congress to give the Treasury a tool to sanction Chinese officials for interfering in a Chinese(!) city's affairs.

Model Magnate, Epstein Pal Disappears 

  • Jeffrey Epstein killed himself in jail while facing child sex trafficking charges
  • Jean-Luc Brunel, 72, is sought by French authorities who have 'urgent' questions
  • He founded New York model agency MC2, who signed Svetlana Pozhidaeva
  • Pozhidaeva has been pictured at Epstein's New York mansion back in 2016
  • A millionaire model agency boss who is thought to have key information about the Jeffrey Epstein scandal 'has disappeared like a ghost without a trace.' Jean-Luc Brunel, 72, has vanished as police seek to ask the Frenchman 'urgent' questions about the pedophile.

Daily Mail Online, Millionaire model agency boss thought to have key information into the Jeffrey Epstein scandal 'has disappeared like a ghost without a trace,' Sebastian Murphy-jean luc brunelBates, Sept. 2, 2019 (updated version). French authorities want to speak with Jean-Luc Brunel (pictured) to ask him 'urgent' questions regarding Jeffrey Epstein. Brunel - who founded New York's MC2 - denies any involvement with crimes committed by Epstein. A Paris legal source told the Daily Mirror: 'He is a ghost who has disappeared without trace.'

It comes after former model Svetlana Pozhidaeva, who was signed to MC2, was pictured at convicted paedophile Epstein's mansion in New York back in 2016.

Virginia Roberts, who was a victim of Esptein's, claims to have slept with Prince Andrew three times. Pozhidaeva, who was signed to Brunel's agency was pictured outside the New York mansion of Epstein (above). The Duke of York has vehemently denied that he slept with her and says he knew nothing about Epstein's illegal behaviour.

Roberts says she also slept with Brunel 'many times' when she was aged 16 to 19. Many of the girls believed to have been used by Epstein are alleged to have been 'sourced' in Paris. Epstein owned a £7 million apartment in the French capital, where Brunel also lived. The agency boss was searching for new talent in Brazil until the start of this summer.

This month, French prosecutors have started a preliminary inquiry into whether Epstein sexually abused minors from France. They say Brunel is 'uncontactable' because he has no address, internet accounts or social media.

Sept. 1

Mass Shootings

ny times logoNew York Times, Fifty-three people died in mass shootings in the U.S. this August alone, Neil Vigdor, Sept. 1, 2019 (print ed.). So far this year, there have been at least 38 shootings with three or more fatalities, data shows. This month’s loss of life was most acute in Texas, where four of the eight deadliest shootings occurred, including an Aug. 3 massacre at a Walmart in El Paso that killed 22 people.

Trade War Toll

ny times logoNew York Times, How Much Will the Trade War Cost You by the End of the Year? About $460 for the average family, according to a new economic analysis, NQuoctrung Bui and Karl Russell, Sept. 1, 2019. A new wave of tariffs by the Trump administration went into effect on Sunday, rendering the majority of goods imported to the United States from China subject to import taxes.

It is the latest move in a drawn-out conflict between the world’s two largest economies. This round — a 15 percent tariff on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods as varied as cereal bowls, paint brushes and pajamas — is likely to hit American households in the most direct way yet.

Hurricane Dorian

washington post logoWashington Post, Dorian, a ‘catastrophic’ Category 5, bears down on the Bahamas, Andrew Freedman and Jason Samenow, Sept. 1, 2019. Dorian will move close enough to bring impacts to Florida and the Southeast U.S. coast.

With peak winds of 175 mph, Hurricane Dorian is about as powerful as an Atlantic hurricane can get as the core of its strongest winds and most dangerous storm surge moves over the northwestern Bahamas. These winds are the strongest so far north in the Atlantic Ocean east of Florida on record.

Global News: Saudi Attack

SouthFront, At Least 80 Prisoners Of War Killed In Saudi Airstrikes On Dhamar, Staff and wire reports, Sept. 1, 2019. At least 80 captives were killed and 100 others were injured when Saudi warplanes pounded the prison they were being held inside the central Yemen city of Dhamar, the Houthis Health Ministry announced on September 1.

Saudi-led coalition warplanes targeted the prison and the nearby Community College in the early hours of the morning. The coalition claimed that the Houthis were storing attack drones and anti-aircraft missiles in the target sites.

Chairman of the National Committee for Prisoners, Abdul Qader al-Mortada, revealed that all the captives were Saudi-backed fighters who were captured by the Houthis. Al-Mortada claimed that at least half of the captives were set to be freed soon as a part of an exchange deal.

The International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed that the prison was well-known and that its team in Yemen visit it on a regular basis. The Saudi-led coalition and its main backer, the U.S, are yet to comment on the Dhamar massacre.