January 2015 News Reports


Editor's Choice: Scroll below for January 2015 news in our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative news and views

Jan. 31

New York Times, Retroactively Authorizing War, Editorial Board, Jan. 31, 2015. As the new Congress gets settled in, the debate over the scope and legal authority of Washington’s new war in the Middle East has resurfaced amid strikingly disparate views. White House officials maintain that the current campaign in Iraq and Syria is legal under the Afghan and Iraq war resolutions, a dubious argument considering those were tailored to respond to the Sept. 11 attacks and to deal with Saddam Hussein, then the Iraqi leader, on the grounds — since proved to be false — that he had weapons of mass destruction.

Mirror, Westminster child abuse scandal: KGB and CIA kept secret dossiers on Britain's VIP paedophiles, Don Hale, Jan. 31, 2015. Both Russian and US intelligence knew about a group of powerful paedophiles operating in Britain and the KGB hoped to blackmail them in exchange for information.

Jan. 30

Huffington Post, Mitt Romney Is Not Running For President In 2016, Paige Lavender and Sam Levine, Jan. 30, 2015. Former Massachusetts governor and 2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he will not run for Mitt Romneypresident in 2016. Hugh Hewitt posted text of the remarks Romney was to make on a conference call with donors discussing his 2016 plans on Friday. "After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I’ve decided it is best to give other leaders in the Party the opportunity to become our next nominee," the prepared remarks say.

Editor's Note:  Via reports from the mainstream media: Romney and prospective 2016 GOP rival Jeb Bush met for a private strategic talk a week ago. Also, Carrie Levine of the Center for Public Integrity reported, Romney's top fundraisers consider bailing, with a subhead: Jeb Bush, other GOP presidential hopefuls woo big-dollar donors from last election.  Supplementing that, we suggest the likelihood that: 1) Bush opened the possibility of a vice presidential designation for Romney if he withdrew from the race, thereby solidifying a formidable Bush-Romney alliance of the most institutionally powerful GOP contenders; and 2) a threat implied or stated, perhaps via intermediaries, cannot be ruled out given the high stakes and the track records of the candidates, their families, and the other forces behind them.

BBC, Ukraine battle rages for key town of Debaltseve, Staff report, Jan. 30, 2015. Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels are exchanging heavy tank and artillery fire in and around Debaltseve, a strategic town in eastern Ukraine. The recent heavy fighting has left a ceasefire agreed in September in tatters.

Daily Beast, Conservative Scold Ken Starr Got A Billionaire Pedophile Off, Jan. 30, 2015. Many believe Jeffrey Epstein dodged certain doom — he could have remained behind bars for the rest of his life given the number of alleged victims (some say it’s as many as hundreds, while his attorneys suggest it’s barely double-digits). Epstein’s all-star legal team included Ken Starr, Alan Dershowitz, Miami lawyer Roy Black, New York power esquires Jay Lefkowitz and Gerald Lefcourt, and Martin Weinberg in Boston. Starr served as a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. and later became the country’s solicitor general back in the 1980s. But he became a household name in the ’90s when he went after a president. As a self-appointed moral sheriff, Starr almost seemed to trumpet Bill Clinton’s fall from grace — winning him friends on the Christian right and turning him into a witch-hunting pariah with the left.

Washington Post, CIA and Mossad killed senior Hezbollah figure in car bombing, Adam Goldman and Ellen Nakashima, Jan. 30, 2015. The United States has never acknowledged participation in the killing, which Hezbollah blamed on Israel. U.S. involvement in the killing, which was confirmed by five former U.S. intelligence officials, pushed American legal boundaries. He was targeted in a country where the United States was not at war. Moreover, he was killed in a car bombing, a technique that some legal scholars see as a violation of international laws that proscribe “killing by perfidy” — using treacherous means to kill or wound an enemy.

War Is A Crime, CIA Tried to Give Iraq Nuclear Plans, Just Like Iran, David Swanson, Jan. 30, 2015. If you've followed the trials of James Risen and Jeffrey Sterling, or read Risen's book State of War, you are aware that the CIA gave Iran blueprints and a diagram and a parts list for the key component of a nuclear bomb. The CIA then proposed to do exactly the same for Iraq, using the same former Russian scientist to make the delivery. How do I know this? Well, Marcy Wheeler has kindly put all the evidence from the Sterling trial online, including this cable.

Pravda, Islamic State was born in 1979 with covert operations in Afghanistan, Staff interview of Jefrey Steinberg, Jan. 30, 2015. In order to fully communicate the history of the Islamic State and its relationship with the House of Saud and Turkey, we consulted Jeffrey Steinberg, Senior Editor and Counterintelligence Director of the Executive Intelligence Review with 40 years of experience working with the LarouchePAC. He is also member of and active contributor to the Schiller Institute based in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Q: Can you give us a history of the Islamic State? How did they rise to power after the [2003] US-NATO invasion of Iraq?

You have to go to 1979 when Brzezinski was the National Security Advisor to Jimmy Carter, [when he] convinced the president to sign a secret authorization to begin covert operations in Afghanistan, six months before the Soviets arrived around Christmastime of 1979. Known as the Bernard-Lewis Plan, it involved promoting Islamic Fundamentalism all across the Southern tier of the Soviet Union. When the Soviets finally moved in, things became concentrated in building up a radical Islamic terrorist apparatus, sponsored by the US, British, Saudis, French, and Israelis.

The whole idea was to play Islamic Fundamentalism against the "godless Soviet Union", but the problem this created was the emergence of groups such as al-Qaeda. Osama bin Laden himself went to Peshawar in Northwest Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border, as part of this Anglo-American/ Saudi project to create a terrorist organization against the Soviet presence in Afghanistan. That effort succeeded somewhat, but the consequences of that was the birth of an international Jihadi terrorist apparatus that is haunting the world today.

Gothamist, NYPD: Fine, Maybe We Won't Police Protests With Machine Guns, Ben Yakas, Jan. 30, 2014. New York City Police leader James O’Neill walked back the previous claim that a new 350-person police squad armed with machine guns would be assigned crowd control at protests: "They will not be involved in handling protests and demonstrations. They'll have no role in protests. Their response is single-fold. They'll be doing counter-terror work. They’ll be assigned to different posts throughout the city." Previously, Bratton made it crystal clear that this heavily-armed new unit was initially intended to police protests, such as those that came about because of grand jury decisions in Ferguson and Staten Island: "The officers will have the dedicated mission of protecting locations (and) being able to assist us in dealing with demonstrations," Bratton said yesterday. So...that's comforting?


New York City Police with Machine Guns Socorro Photo via FlickrNew York City Police with Machine Guns (Socorro Photo via Flickr)

Jan. 29

Gothamist, New NYPD Anti-Terror Unit Will Get Machine Guns To Police Protesters, Ben Yakas, Jan. 29, 2014. Murders reached a historic low in NYC for 2014. Overall crime was down across the board by nearly 5%. So clearly, now is the time when NYC really needs to implement a new anti-terrorism program which would empower a team of NYPD officers to roam around the city carrying machine guns. What could go wrong? Police Commissioner Bratton made the announcement earlier today at an event hosted by the Police Foundation at the Mandarin Oriental. He said that the new 350 cop unit, called The Strategic Response Group, will be dedicated to "investigate and combat terrorist plots, lone wolf terrorists, and... protests. "It is designed for dealing with events like our recent protests, or incidents like Mumbai or what just happened in Paris," Bratton said, according to CBS.


Barack Obama Hillary WH patio 7_29-13.jpg

President Obama meets with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July 2013, as portrayed in a White House photo.

Washington Times, Secret tapes undermine Hillary Clinton on Libyan war, Jeffrey Scott Shapiro and Kelly Riddell, Jan. 29, 2015. Joint Chiefs, key lawmaker held own talks with Moammar Gadhafi regime. Top Pentagon officials and a senior Democrat in Congress so distrusted Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2011 march to war in Libya that they opened their own diplomatic channels with the Gadhafi regime in an effort to halt the escalating crisis, according to secret audio recordings recovered from Tripoli. Top Pentagon officials and a senior Democrat in Congress so distrusted Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2011 march to war in Libya that they opened their own diplomatic channels with the Gadhafi regime in an effort to halt the escalating crisis, according to secret audio recordings recovered from Tripoli. The tapes, reviewed by The Washington Times and authenticated by the participants, chronicle U.S. officials’ unfiltered conversations with Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s son and a top Libyan leader, including criticisms that Mrs. Clinton had developed tunnel vision and led the U.S. into an unnecessary war without adequately weighing the intelligence community’s concerns.



C-SPAN via Newsmax, McCain to Protesters: 'Get Out of Here, You Low-life Scum,' Staff report, Jan. 29, 2015. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain kicked protesters out of a budget hearing, calling them "low-life scum," Staff report, Jan. 28, 2015. The upheaval came Thursday on Capitol Hill after members of an anti-war group calling itself Code Pink approached a witness table where former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright and George P. Shultz were testifying. The protesters carried signs calling the 91-year-old Kissinger a war criminal.

New York Times, Man Lost Contact With Drone Before It Sped to White House, Friend Says, Michael D. Shear, Jan. 29, 2015. In retrospect, flying the drone out the apartment window at 3 a.m. might not have been the best idea.

FireDogLake, Justice Department Confirms WikiLeaks Investigation Continues as Google Claims It Fought Gag Orders, Kevin Gosztola, Jan. 29, 2015. The Eastern District of Virginia has confirmed the U.S. Justice Department’s investigation into WikiLeaks continues. And, in an interview for the Washington Post, a lawyer for Google explained that the company had fought the gag orders, which prohibited them from informing WikiLeaks staff about the search warrants. Sarah Harrison, investigations editor, Kristin Hrafnsson, spokesperson and Joseph Farrell, section editor, each had search warrants served against them in March 2012.

Dana BoenteU.S. Attorney Dana Boente is in charge of the Eastern District of Virginia, where grand jury has been investigating WikiLeaks.

First Look Intercept, The Petulant Entitlement Syndrome of Journalists, Glenn Greenwald, Jan. 29, 2015. Jonathan Chait's denunciation of the "PC language police" -- a trite note of self-victimization he's been sounding for decades -- provoked intense reaction: much criticism from liberals and praise from conservatives (with plenty of exceptions both ways). When political blogs first emerged as a force in the early post-9/11 era, one of their primary targets was celebrity journalists. A whole slew of famous, multi-millionaire, prize-decorated TV hosts and newspaper reporters and columnists were frequently the subject of vocal and vituperative criticisms, read by tens of thousands of people.  It is hard to overstate what a major (and desperately needed) change this was for how journalists like them functioned. Prior to the advent of blogs, establishment journalists were largely immunized even from hearing criticisms. Blogs, and online political activism generally, changed all of that.

Reuters, U.S. Congress questions plan to admit Syrian refugees, Mark Hosenball, Jan. 29, 2015. The Republican-led House Committee on Homeland Security is challenging an Obama administration plan to admit Syrian refugees to the United States, saying it could allow potential terrorists to sneak into the country. In a letter sent to the White House, Michael McCaul, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee and Peter King and Candice Miller, who chair subcommittees, said the administration's plan "raises serious national security concerns." The letter, dated Wednesday, said the United States lacks the resources to fully investigate the backgrounds of refugees from Syria, a base for Islamic State militants, before they are admitted to the country. Anne Richard, an Assistant Secretary of State, said on Dec. 9 that the United States resettled nearly 70,000 refugees from nearly 70 countries in 2013 and that the administration's refugee plans would lead to "resettling Syrians as well."

Jan. 28

New York Times, White House Expresses Displeasure Over Speech Planned by Netanyahu, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Jan. 28, 2015. The Obama administration, after days of mounting tension, signaled on Wednesday how angry it is with Israel that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted Republican leaders’ invitation to address Congress on Iran without consulting the White House. The outrage the episode has incited within President Obama’s inner circle became clear in unusually sharp criticism by a senior administration official who said that the Israeli ambassador, Ron Dermer, who helped orchestrate the invitation, had repeatedly placed Mr. Netanyahu’s political fortunes above the relationship between Israel and the United States. is scheduled for March. They are likely to escalate a feud between the White House, Republicans on Capitol Hill and Mr. Netanyahu over the invitation, which has led to a new low in American-Israeli relations and threatened to mar the long tradition of bipartisan support for Israel in Congress.

President Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Jan. 28, 2015President Barack Obama hugs Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel following remarks during an Armed Forces farewell in honor of Secretary Hagel at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Fort Myer, Va., Jan. 28, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Reuters, Obama's Pick For Attorney General Faces Heated Confirmation Debate, Aruna Viswanatha and Julia Edwards, Jan. 28, 2015. President Obama's pick for his next attorney general faces a Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday that will likely highlight tensions between the Obama administration and the new Republican Congress. Loretta Lynch, nominated to the post in November, has stirred little controversy in her 16 years with the U.S. Attorney's office in Brooklyn and is expected to win confirmation.

Jan. 27

President Obama Meets Prince Abdullah in 2010 White House PhotoPresident Obama strolls in 2010 with the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. White House Photo by Pete Souza.

TruthDig, Dozens of Top U.S. Officials Swarm Saudi Arabia to Hail the New King, Peter Z. Scheer, Jan. 27, 2015. President Barack Obama cut short his trip to India, where he lectured the locals on women’s rights, to personally express his warm wishes to the new monarch of Saudi Arabia, a country where women are not allowed to drive and where women and men are beheaded for crimes including sorcery. In fact, just five days after assuming power, King Salman oversaw his first beheading. Saudi Arabia is the world champ in this activity. They love a good beheading there. But don’t expect a lecture on human rights from President Obama. “Sometimes we need to balance our need to speak to them about human rights issues with immediate concerns we have in terms of counter-terrorism or dealing with regional stability,” he told CNN. Right. We have to worry about the Islamic State. Those are the bad beheaders.

Insurge Intelligence via OpEdNews, How the CIA made Google, Nafeez Ahmed, Jan. 27, 2015. These revelations corroborate the claims of Robert Steele, former senior CIA officer and a founding civilian deputy director of the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, whom I interviewed for the Guardian last year on open source intelligence. At the time, Wired founder John Batelle managed to get this official denial from a Google spokesperson in response to Steele's assertions: "The statements related to Google are completely untrue." This time round, despite multiple requests and conversations, a Google spokesperson declined to comment. UPDATE: Google's director of corporate communication got in touch and asked me to include the following statement: "Sergey Brin was not part of the Query Flocks Program at Stanford, nor were any of his projects funded by US Intelligence bodies." Editor's note: Others have long reported that Google, like several other popular Internet-based platforms, grew out of defense and intelligence funding. This column is thus an amplification on the theme, with additional nuanced denials.


American Sniper posterJan. 26

TruthDig via OpEdNews, Killing Ragheads for Jesus, Chris Hedges, Jan. 26, 2015. "American Sniper" lionizes the most despicable aspects of U.S. society -- the gun culture, the blind adoration of the military, the belief that we have an innate right as a "Christian" nation to exterminate the "lesser breeds" of the earth, a grotesque hyper-masculinity that banishes compassion and pity, a denial of inconvenient facts and historical truth, and a belittling of critical thinking and artistic expression. Many Americans, especially white Americans trapped in a stagnant economy and a dysfunctional political system, yearn for the supposed moral renewal and rigid, militarized control the movie venerates. These passions, if realized, will extinguish what is left of our now-anemic open society.

"American Sniper," like the big-budget feature films pumped out in Germany during the Nazi era to exalt deformed values of militarism, racial self-glorification and state violence, is a piece of propaganda, a tawdry commercial for the crimes of empire. That it made a record-breaking $105.3 million over the Martin Luther King Jr. three-day weekend is a symptom of the United States' dark malaise.

"The movie never asks the seminal question as to why the people of Iraq are fighting back against us in the very first place," said Mikey Weinstein, whom I reached by phone in New Mexico. Weinstein, who worked in the Reagan White House and is a former Air Force officer, is the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which challenges the growing Christian fundamentalism within the U.S. military. "It made me physically ill with its twisted, totally one-sided distortions of wartime combat ethics and justice woven into the fabric of Chris Kyle's personal and primal justification mantra of 'God-Country-Family.' It is nothing less than an odious homage, indeed a literal horrific hagiography to wholesale slaughter."

New York Times, C.I.A. Officer Is Found Guilty in Leak Tied to Times Reporter, Michael S. Schmidt, and Michael D. Shear, Jan. 26, 2015. A White House radar system designed to detect flying objects like planes, missiles and large drones failed to pick up a small drone that crashed into a tree on the South Lawn early Monday morning, according to law enforcement officials. The crash raised questions about whether the Secret Service could bring down a similar object if it endangered President Obama. See also, Washington Post, Ex-CIA officer is convicted of espionage in leak, Matt Zapotosky, Jan. 26, 2015. Jeffrey Sterling, who was involved in a highly secretive operation to give faulty nuclear plans to Iran, was convicted of giving Jeffrey Sterling Consortium Newsclassified information to a reporter at the New York Times.

Jeffrey Sterling is shown in a photo via Consortium News.

Consortium News, Hiding the Political Subtext of Sterling Trial, Norman Solomon, Jan. 26, 2015. Whenever lawyers for ex-CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling sought to illuminate the political context for his prosecution CIA Logos a leaker, prosecutors objected with the support of the federal judge, but politics has always lurked in the case’s background. A heavy shroud over this trial — almost hidden by news media in plain sight — has been context: the CIA’s collusion with the Bush White House a dozen years ago, using WMD fear and fabrication to stampede the United States into making war on Iraq. And part of the ongoing context of the Sterling case has been the Obama administration’s unrelenting pursuit of Sterling for allegedly leaking classified information — revealed in the last chapter of a book by James Risen — about a now-15-year-old CIA operation that’s far more suitable for Freedom of Information Act disclosures than criminal prosecution. The jury is weighing nine felony counts, including seven under the atrociously misapplied Espionage Act. It was just six weeks after the invasion of Iraq when, at the end of April 2003, Rice – then President George W. Bush’s nationals security adviser – hosted a meeting at the White House to tell representatives of the New York Times that the newspaper should not report on Operation Merlin, the CIA’s ill-conceived and dangerous maneuver that had provided a flawed design for a nuclear weapon component to Iran three years earlier. The Times management caved within a week. Only Risen’s book State of War, published in January 2006, finally brought Operation Merlin to light.

Washington Post, Koch-backed groups plan to spend nearly $1 billion on ’16, Matea Gold, Jan. 26, 2015. The massive goal of $899 million is more than double the amount that 17 allied groups in the network raised during the 2012 campaign. The group — which is supported by hundreds of wealthy donors on the right, along with the Kochs — is still debating whether it will spend some of that money in the GOP primaries. Such a move could have a major impact in winnowing the field of contenders but could also undercut the network’s standing if it engaged in intraparty politics and was not successful.

Legal Schnauzer, More than 1,000 documents about Leura Canary's "recusal" in Siegelman case are hidden from public, Roger Shuler, Jan. 26, 2015. We have shown that U.S. Magistrate Charles S. Coody lied when he stated in a public order that he had "thoroughly reviewed" documents related to the recusal of prosecutor Leura Canary in the Don Siegelman case. Coody is not alone when it comes to deceitful acts related to the Canary-recusal issue. Officials with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, also have displayed dishonesty, incompetence (or both) when pressed about the documents. John Aaron, an attorney from Alabaster, Alabama, has been doing most of the pressing, via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in 2006 and a FOIA lawsuit in 2009. Here we are in 2015, and at last report, Aaron had received little or no meaningful material that was responsive to his request -- in fact, the DOJ can't seem to even decide how many Canary-related documents exist, although we now know it is a lot.  Why is the DOJ withholding information that apparently is supposed to be public under the law?



Corbett Report, The Truth About ISIS propaganda, CIA and Mossad, James Corbett, Jan. 26, 2015 (2:47 min. video above).

Jan. 25

BBC, Greece election: Exit polls suggest big Syriza win, Chris Morris, Jan. 25, 2015. Exit polls suggest a historic victory for the anti-austerity Syriza party in Greece's closely fought general election. One poll suggested Syriza took Alexis Tsipras35.5% of the votes, and the other suggested it took 39.5%, well ahead of the ruling New Democracy party on 23%-27%. It is unclear whether Syriza has enough votes to govern the country alone. Syriza's Alexis Tsipras (shown in a file photo via Wikimedia) has pledged to renegotiate Greece's debt arrangement with international creditors. Editor's note: The victory of an anti-austerity party for the first time in recent memory poses a major challenge to the international bankers, the European Union, and Germany in particular. 

Ashton CarterWar Is Boring, The Triumph of the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex, Ben Cohen and Winslow Wheeler, Jan. 25, 2015. The military-industrial-complex was on display—but passed without wide notice—on Dec. 5 when President Barack Obama announced, at the White House, his selection of Harvard professor Ashton Carter, shown in a file photo, to replace the ineffectual and effortlessly discarded Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense. Avuncular in public tone and appearance, Carter—a nuclear physicist with an avowed enthusiasm for medieval history—has already served in multiple high Department of Defense positions, deciding national security policy and later weapons acquisition. Obama even joked that Carter is “one of the few people who actually understands how many of our defense systems work.” But look closer and you’ll see that Carter has a dark side. Beyond his early and enthusiastic support for starting and prolonging the 2003 war in Iraq and extending the U.S. combat presence in Afghanistan, he has spoken out in favor of initiating war against North Korea and Iran. Now that Obama is returning the U.S. military to Iraq and retaining up to 10,000 American troops in Afghanistan, the two men seem to be increasingly of one mind. “I pledge to you my most candid strategic advice,” Carter told Obama at the White House. Expanding the Iraq-Syria conflict and prolonging the war in Afghanistan may very well be what he has in mind.

FireDogLake, Search Warrants Against WikiLeaks Staff: Justice Department, Google & US Media Silence Threaten Press Freedom, Kevin Gosztola, Jan. 25, 2015. The United States government served search warrants on Google in March 2012 and demanded that the company hand over data from WikiLeaks staff members for the purpose of an investigation into violations of the Espionage Act, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), a larceny statute and a “conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud the United States” statute.

Jan. 24

Daily Beast, U.S. Won’t Admit to Killing a Single Civilian Death in the ISIS War, Nancy A. Youssef, Jan. 24, 2015. Civilian deaths, a keystone metric of the last war in Iraq, have now become the statistic no one wants to talk about. Five months and 1,800-plus strikes into the U.S. air campaign against ISIS, and not a single civilian has been killed, officially. But Pentagon officials concede that they really have no way of telling for sure who has died in their attacks — and admit that no one will ever know how many have been slain. Stuart Jones, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, told al Arabiya that U.S. and coalition strikes in Iraq and Syria have killed 6,000 ISIS fighters. That no civilians could be among that figure strikes observers and even military officials as all but impossible.

Wisconsin PostCrescent, Wisconsin's 2-year budget hole forecast at up to $2 billion, Scott Bauer, Jan. 24, 2015. Gov. Scott Walker will have to plug a roughly $280 million budget shortfall by the end of June, and the state faces a two-year deficit that could be as large as $2 billion, based on new estimates released Friday by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. The budget poses both a problem and opportunity for Walker as he begins his second term and positions himself for a potential 2016 presidential bid. Walker touts his management of a roughly $3 billion budget shortfall four years ago when he speaks to conservatives around the country, and now he faces another large deficit in the face of a possible presidential run. Deep cuts across state government are likely, which would please fiscal conservatives, but it will be difficult for Walker to follow through on promised tax cuts. Walker and Republican legislative leaders have stressed for weeks that difficult decisions lie ahead.

Jan. 23

WhoWhatWhy, A Landslide for Guilty at the Boston Marathon Bombing Trial? Andy Thibault, Jan. 23, 2015. The pre-trial results are in from a straw poll of prospective jurors in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s capital felony case. Not Judge George O'Toole Bostonsuprisingly, it’s a landslide for guilty. The defense team argues that out of 1,373 prospective jurors, 68 percent believe Tsarnaev is guilty of taking part in the Boston Marathon Bombing. If one adds to that personal connections or allegiances to people affected by the terrorist attack, the number of jurors who already have a reason to vote for guilty leaps to 85 percent, according to a motion filed by the defense. But what’s even more unusual is the reaction of U.S. District Judge George O’Toole, shown in a file photo, to the motion, which was filed publicly and disseminated widely on social media. He sealed it, saying: “though the damage already may have been done by the defendant’s public filing of confidential material, I have ordered the memorandum in support of the defendant’s motion to be placed under seal until further order.”

New York Daily News, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's 'stay tuned' warning after accused Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's arrest sends chill through state Capitol, Glenn Blain and Kenneth Lovett, Jan. 23, 2015. U.S. Attorney Andrew Cuomo Pat Arno 2010 Creative CommonsPreet Bharara’s warning to “stay tuned” for more corruption arrests after he bagged Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has sent a big chill through the state Capitol. “I think everyone is waiting for the next shoe to drop,” said one legislative official. The big fish reportedly being looked at is Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Bharara has been probing whether the governor and his top aides improperly interfered with the Moreland anti-corruption commission Cuomo established.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is shown in a 2010 photo by Pat Arno available via a Creative Commons license.

Daily Beast, Exclusive: CIA’s Top Spy Steps Down, Shane Harris, Jan. 23, 2015. The secretive head of the agency’s National Clandestine Service is retiring amid reports of infighting over a reorganization of the intelligence service. Frank Archibald’s retirement comes at a transitional moment for the CIA. The agency’s director, John Brennan, is considering major changes to the agency’s structure, including the possible John Brennancreation of new intelligence centers and doing away with the traditional division of CIA into its analysis group and the clandestine service. “This would be to their mind the greatest threat to their independence since they were created as the Directorate of Plans back in 1951.” Critics of the reorganization, which hasn’t been formally proposed and, officials have stressed, isn’t a done deal, see it as potentially undermining some of the CIA’s core capabilities in favor of organizing the agency around regions of the world. Some in the National Clandestine Service in particular view a reorganization as a threat to the high-degree of independence it has traditionally enjoyed within the intelligence bureaucracy. Brennan, shown in a file photo, is slated to make public remarks on Monday at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

OpEdNews, Yes, I'm back at Oakdale Prison after 49 days of travel, Don Siegelman, Jan. 23, 2015. Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, shown in prison garb, is serving a much-disputed 78-month Don Siegelman Oakdale federal sentence on corruption charges. His report follows to supporters after being kept largely in solitary confinement and travel the past 49 days. Yes, I'm back at Oakdale Prison after 49 days of travel. What might have otherwise been a seven-hour car trip to court was 49 days of travel, five buses, five vans and three airplanes, over 70 US Marshals and countless numbers of jail and prison correctional officers to shackle, handcuff, chain, "box" and lock me before and after each trip and for court.

Washington Post, U.S. counterterrorism operations with Yemen suspended, officials say, Greg Miller and Craig Whitlock Jan. 23, 2015. The Obama administration has been forced to suspend counterterrorism operations with Yemen in the aftermath of the collapse of its government, according to U.S. officials, a move that abruptly eases pressure on al-Qaeda’s most dangerous franchise. Armed drones operated by the CIA and the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command remain deployed for now over southern Yemen, where al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is based. But U.S. officials said that the Yemeni security services that provided much of the intelligence that sustained that U.S. air campaign are now controlled by Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, who have seized control of much of the capital.

Daily Mail, 'I never slept with Bill Clinton': 'Sex slave' Virginia Roberts denies rumors she had tryst with former President, David Mccormack, Jan. 23, 2015. Virginia Roberts has denied ever having sex with Bill Clinton in her explosive Prince Andrew and Victoria Robertsnew court documents filed in Florida federal court on Wednesday. The alleged 'sex slave' includes sordid details about an alleged 11-person orgy with Prince Andrew in 2001. Roberts worked for convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein between 1999 and 2002 during which time he was good friends with Bill Clinton. Roberts admits that she was present on Epstein's Little St. James Island at the same time as the former president. 'I have never had sexual relations with Clinton, nor have I ever claimed to have had such relations,' she writes. She has alleged an orgy involved her, Epstein, Andrew and 'eight other young girls.'

Link to federal court lawsuit filed by Virginia Roberts, using the name "Jane Doe 3." It says in part regarding the photo: "I wanted a picture with the prince because I was keeping in contact with my family. I had told my mom and my grandma that I was meeting Prince Andrew and that I’d take a picture for them. They told me to 'be careful.'" The prince's office has denied impropriety.

FireDogLake, Barrett Brown Went to Jail for My Sins, Peter Van Buren, Jan. 23, 2015. Barrett Brown was just sentenced to five years in jail in another step towards the criminalization of everything. The charges against Brown Peter Van Burenincluded the claim that merely linking to the leaked information was illegal, an alleged crime for which prosecutors sought decades in prison. Brown, shown in a file photo, ultimately signed a plea deal on three lesser charges: transmitting a threat (the YouTube video), trying to hide a laptop computer during a raid, and to being “accessory after the fact in the unauthorized access to a protected computer.” There may be other such link cases out there that we do not yet know of. They may be classified, or the parties involved may be under gag orders, as was Brown. There appears little question that the government is testing the concept, looking for a case that it can win that would criminalize Barrett Brownlinking. From the government’s point of view, the win would pay off handsomely.

Paul Craig Roberts.org, Law Has Been Murdered, Paul Craig Roberts, Jan. 23, 2015. Barrett Brown, Kathy Kelly, and Bonny Mahoney are the kind of people who are imprisoned in America. It is not the perjurers and liars, the torturers, war criminals and mass murderers. It is the good people who peacefully protest the crimes of those who control the U.S. government and its policies. Barrett Brown’s statement to the judge in his show trial shows that the US Department of Justice has been successful in preventing the system from delivering any justice.

Jan. 22

The Guardian, Barrett Brown sentenced to 63 months for 'merely linking to hacked material,' Nicky Woolf, Jan. 22, 2015. In a rebuke to a legion of online supporters and what the journalist and one-time member of Anonymous called a “dangerous precedent,” Barrett Brown was sentenced to 63 months in prison by a federal judge in Dallas on Thursday. The judge also ordered him to pay more than $890,000 in restitution and fines. Bown, 33, is an investigative journalist, essayist and satirist who has written for the Onion, Vanity Fair and the Huffington Post, as well as for the Guardian. Brown also founded Project PM, a crowdsourced investigative thinktank dedicated to looking into abuses by companies in the area of surveillance. In October 2012, Brown was indicted on charges of making an online threat, retaliating against a federal officer and conspiring to release personal information about a government employee. Two months later, he was indicted on 12 further charges related to the hacking of private intelligence contractor Stratfor in 2011. Jeremy Hammond, the hacker who actually carried out the Stratfor breach, was sentenced to the maximum possible 10 years. Writing for the Guardian from prison in December, Hammond bemoaned that Brown “continues to await his sentencing for merely linking to hacked material.”

American Conservative, David Petraeus’s Double Standard, Kelley Vlahos, Jan. 22, 2015. While real whistleblowers go to jail, the teflon general gets made a martyr to Obama's war on leaks. When CIA officer John Kiriakou was convicted of revealing the name of an agent allegedly involved in the torture of a prisoner, then-CIA director David Petraeus heralded the court’s decision as “an important victory for our Agency, for our Intelligence Community, and for our country.” “Oaths do matter, and there are indeed consequences for those who believe they are above the laws that protect our fellow officers and enable American intelligence agencies to operate with the requisite degree of secrecy,” he said in a statement on Oct. 23, 2012. Less than a month later it would be revealed that former general Petraeus had broken his own oath, to his wife Holly, admitting to an affair with a woman who had once been his subordinate in the Army. In the course of the investigation that exposed the affair with Paula Broadwell—who was also his biographer—the FBI found he might have broken another oath, to the CIA (the affair supposedly began after he began his directorship there). Investigators suspected that the celebrated retired general had given her access to classified information that she was not authorized to have. This month, however, sources inside the Justice Department suddenly leaked that they have enough evidence to recommend felony charges against Petraeus for providing classified information to Broadwell. The New York Times, in breaking the news, suggested that investigators were frustrated that higher-ups had been dragging their feet on the case, that the man once called “King David,” was receiving “special treatment at a time Mr. [Attorney General Eric] Holder has led a crackdown on government officials who reveal secrets to journalists.” For his part, Petraeus has insisted all along that he did not pass along classified material to his former mistress, and according to the Times, is uninterested in making any plea “that would spare him an embarrassing trial.” Reaction has been swift and predictable. Official Washington and the elite media have rushed to Petraeus’s defense, rebuking the unnamed sources inside the Justice Department as overzealous and vindictive and possibly having ulterior motives for dragging the beloved “four star” through the mud. It is no secret that since leaving the CIA in a cloud of shame, Petraeus has nonetheless enjoyed a lucrative post-career, beginning with a $220,000 a year pension paid for by the U.S. taxpayer. He is also teaching at CUNY (he was forced to give up the six figure salary there after students and faculty protested), and the University of Southern California. He has a perch at Harvard, and was hired in 2013 by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the private equity giant best known for “large debt-fueled corporate takeovers.”

Washington Post, Saudi King Abdullah’s death sets up complex succession process, Kevin Sullivan and Liz Sly, Jan. 22, 2015. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Adbul Aziz died early Friday, setting the stage for a transition of power at a critical moment as the key U.S. ally in the Middle East struggles with falling oil prices and rising Islamist violence. The monarch, believed to be 90, was succeeded by his brother, Crown Prince Salman, according to state television. That put the region’s most important Sunni power and America’s closest Arab ally in the hands of a 79-year-old who is reportedly in poor health and suffering from dementia.

Barack Obama and Saudi King Abdullah White House June 29, 2010

President Obama and Saudi King Abdullah Met at White House on June 29, 2010 (White House Photo).

Reuters via Huffington Post, Argentine Prosecutor's Death: Framed Suicide? Jan. 22, 2015. The death of a prosecutor investigating the bombing of a Jewish community center was not a suicide, as was initially reported, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez said on Thursday. Alberto Nisman, lead investigator into the 1994 attack on the AMIA Jewish center that killed 85 people, was found dead in his apartment late Sunday, a 22 caliber pistol by his side. He had accused Fernandez of trying to derail his investigation into the bombing and was due to present his case to Congress hours later on Monday. The government says two key witnesses in Nisman's case against the president had been falsely presented to him as state intelligence agents.
WPLG (Miami) Channel 10, Alan Dershowitz: 'Sex slave' accuser is serial liar, 'still a prostitute,' prostitute article, Bob Norman, Jan. 22, 2015 (2:41 min.). Transcript. Well-known attorney and Miami Beach resident Alan Dershowitz emphatically denied allegations made in newly-filed court papers that he had sex six times with an underage girl who at the time was serving as a "sex slave" for wealthy financier -- and convicted sex offender -- Jeffrey Epstein. "This is a woman who is a serial liar," Dershowitz told Local 10 News reporter Bob Norman. "She's lied, lied, lied, lied."

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Jan. 21

New York Times, Russia presses ahead with plan for gas pipeline to Turkey, Stanley Reed and Sebnem Arsu, Jan. 21, 2015. President Vladimir V. Putin surprised the world in December when he aborted long-laid plans for a natural gas pipeline under the Black Sea to Europe, saying Russia would run pipes to Turkey instead. Many in the West thought it might be merely a bluff, to make the European Union reconsider its opposition to the pipeline project, known as South Stream. But in recent weeks, the Russian state-owned company Gazprom has shown signs that it is serious about proceeding with what it calls Turkish Stream. xxx

Bloomberg View, Israeli Mossad Goes Rogue, Warns U.S. on Iran Sanctions, Josh Rogin and  Eli Lake, Jan. 21, 2015. The Israeli intelligence agency Mossad has broken ranks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, telling U.S. officials and lawmakers that a new Iran sanctions bill in the U.S. Congress would tank the Iran nuclear negotiations. Already, the Barack Obama administration and some leading Republican senators are using the Israeli internal disagreement to undermine support for the bill, authored by Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Robert Menendez, which would enact new sanctions if current negotiations falter. 

Jan. 20

Tom Dispatch, The Golden Age of Black Ops; Special Ops Missions Already in 105 Countries in 2015, Nick Turse, Jan. 20, 2015. During the fiscal year that ended on September 30, 2014, U.S. Special Operations forces (SOF) deployed to 133 countries -- roughly 70% of the nations on the planet -- according to Lieutenant Colonel Robert Bockholt, a public affairs officer with U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM).  This capped a three-year span in which the country’s most elite forces were active in more than 150 different countries around the world, conducting missions ranging from kill/capture night raids to training exercises.  And this year could be a record-breaker.  Only a day before the failed raid that ended Luke Somers life -- just 66 days into fiscal 2015 -- America’s most elite troops had already set foot in 105 nations, approximately 80% of 2014’s total. Despite its massive scale and scope, this secret global war across much of the planet is unknown to most Americans.

Jan. 19

Info Wars, American Sniper Exposed As Giant Hoax, Alex Jones, Jan. 19, 2015. Video: 11:30 min. American Sniper is the number one movie in America, which proves we love a good story over the truth. Alex Jones covers the instances where the US government used it's soldiers as propaganda pieces only to discard them when they cease to be useful. Chris Kyle, "The American Sniper," is another hoax used to brainwash the American people that war is good for the state.

Jan. 17

Paul Craig RobertsOpEdNews, Charlie Hebdo: Report from Europe, Paul Craig Roberts, Jan. 17, 2015. Dr. Roberts, shown in a photo, was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. Video: RAID officers kill Amedy Coulibaly in Paris, France. Here is a video of the execution of Amedy Coulibaly. It is from a German website with the actual live French video of the police assault on the deli. In response to my Charlie Hebdo update, European readers report that the situation in Europe is much the same as in the US and UK. The "mainstream" print and TV media parrot the official line and raise no unsettling questions. The independent Internet media is where real information is reported. The German print and TV media have suffered dramatic declines in readers and viewers. The German media has lost the intelligent part of the population and only retain the somnolent sheep.

Jan. 16

Washington Post, Romney, moving toward 2016 run, outlines vision to eradicate poverty, Dan Balz and Philip Rucker, Jan. 16, 2015. Romney spoke Friday night at the closing banquet of the Republican National Committee gathering in Southern California. Mitt Romney laid down a marker for a prospective presidential campaign in 2016, telling a Republican audience here Friday night that the party can win the White House with a conservative message that stresses security and safety for the American people, opportunity for all regardless of background and a plan to lift people out of poverty. In his first public appearance since his surprise announcement that he will seriously consider a third campaign for the White House, Romney offered an economic message that represented a dramatic departure from the themes he sounded in losing the 2012 campaign to President Obama.

Washington Post, Holder limits seized-asset sharing process that split billions with local, state police, Robert O'Harrow Jr., Sari Horwitz and Steven Rich, Jan. 16, 2016. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday barred local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without warrants or criminal charges. Holder’s action represents the most sweeping check on police power to confiscate personal property since the seizures began three decades ago as part of the war on drugs. Since 2008, thousands of local and state police agencies have made more than 55,000 seizures of cash and property worth $3 billion under a civil asset forfeiture program at the Justice Department called Equitable Sharing. The program has enabled local and state police to make seizures and then have them “adopted” by federal agencies, which share in the proceeds. It allowed police departments and drug task forces to keep up to 80 percent of the proceeds of adopted seizures, with the rest going to federal agencies.

Washington Post, Author, survivor of 1984 rape at U-Va. now doubts Rolling Stone story, T. Rees Shapiro, Jan. 16, 2015. Liz Seccuro sees red flags in the magazine’s rape account, which has similarities to her own attack.
Jan. 15

Condoleezza RicePolitico, Condoleezza Rice testifies in CIA leaks trial, Josh Gerstein, Jan. 15, 2015. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a highly unusual public appearance Thursday — taking the witness stand for the prosecution in a criminal case against a former CIA officer on trial for leaking details of a top-secret spy program. Rice, who once traveled the globe as America’s top diplomat, found herself describing another type of diplomacy to a federal court jury: the Bush administration’s effort in 2003 to kill a New York Times story that threatened to reveal a CIA effort to undermine Iran’s nuclear program by secretly providing Tehran with flawed plans for an atomic weapon. Rice told jurors that she was acting on the direct orders of President George W. Bush when she asked the Times not to go forward with the article, written by veteran national security correspondent James Risen. She spoke during her nearly 45-minute stint Thursday afternoon at the trial of ex-CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling in Alexandria, Virginia. The Times ultimately declined to run the story. However, Risen published it three years later in his book State of War.

OpEdNews, Ruin Is Our Future, Paul Craig Roberts, Jan. 15, 2015. Dr. Roberts is former assistant Treasury secretary during the Reagan administration and former Wall Street Journal associate editor. Americans need to understand that the only thing exceptional about the US is the ignorance of the population and the stupidity of the government. What other country would let a handful of Wall Street crooks control its economic and foreign policy, run its central bank and Treasury, and subordinate citizens' interests to the interests of the one percent's pocketbook?

Brookings Institution, On Immigration, House GOP Does What It Promised: Flexes Institutional Power, John Hudak, Jan. 15, 2015. Democrats and immigration advocacy groups reacted with anger as the House debated amendments to the Department of Homeland Security appropriations legislation this week — amendments that sought to reverse the president’s recent executive actions. The amendments are the latest battle in a war between the White House and Congress over immigration policy and the boundaries of power between the legislative and executive branches.

Russian pipelines to Europe GazpromOpEdNews, Russia Fires Ukraine as Natural Gas Transit for Europe, Michael Collins, Jan. 15, 2015. Russia executed a bold move on January 14, one that was largely unanticipated. It shows the level of disgust with both the coup-based Ukraine government and the European Union leaders and their small state followers. Ukraine is finished as a supply route for Russian natural gas headed for European Union countries. EU countries get 25% to 30% of their natural gas from the Ukraine pipeline. As indicated by a Gazprom map above, the gas transiting Ukraine will be diverted to the recently announced Russia-Turkey pipeline. The Turks will create a portal at the Greek border where Europeans can purchase natural gas. The pipeline will be complete in 2017. Of course, the EU countries will need to build the pipeline infrastructure from the Turkish portal to various European countries. The end of Ukraine transit will eventually eliminate $1.7 billion a year that Ukraine earns from hosting the pipeline. The Ukraine gas pipeline has been a headache for Russia for years. The Russians claim that Ukraine siphoned off gas from amounts intended for Europe. The issue came to a head in 2006 with Ukraine officials confessing that they had taken gas intended for Europe.

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, George Tenant and Andy Card

Consortium News, "Justice" Hidden Behind a Screen, Ray McGovern, Jan. 15, 2015. The federal government claims it is prosecuting former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling for leaking information to a journalist about a risky covert operation in which the spy agency funneled flawed nuclear-bomb schematics to Iran. But the opening days of the trial suggest that the government may be using the case more to overcome its reputation for shoddy intelligence work. In opening statements and testimony on Wednesday, prosecutors seemed more concerned about refuting journalist/author James Risen's assessment of the CIA's scheme as botched and dangerous than in connecting Risen to Sterling. Eliciting testimony from a nuclear engineer testifying behind a screen, prosecutors sought to portray the phony-blueprint gambit as meticulous and careful. But the real subtext of the Sterling case is how the politicization of the CIA's analytical division over the past several decades has contributed to multiple intelligence failures, especially efforts to "prove" that targeted regimes in the Middle East were amassing weapons of mass destruction.

Jan. 14

Zero Hedge, Russia Cuts Off Ukraine Gas Supply To 6 European Countries, Tyler Durden, Jan. 14, 2015. Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian state energy giant Gazprom to cut supplies to and through Ukraine amid accusations, Vladimir Putinaccording to the Daily Mail, that its neighbor has been siphoning off and stealing Russian gas. Due to these "transit risks for European consumers in the territory of Ukraine," Gazprom cut gas exports to Europe by 60%, plunging the continent into an energy crisis "within hours." The European Union raged that the sudden cut-off to some of its member countries was "completely unacceptable," but Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller later added that Russia plans to shift all its natural gas flows crossing Ukraine to a proposed route via Turkey. Gazprom, the world’s biggest natural gas supplier, plans to send 63 billion cubic meters through a proposed link under the Black Sea to Turkey, fully replacing shipments via Ukraine. Editor's Note: Initial reports did not indicate timing.

Ukraine Map Wikimedia Commons

Reuters, New round of peace talks on Ukraine to be held soon: Kiev, Richard Balmforth, Jan. 14, 2015. A new round of peace talks on the conflict in Ukraine's east could be held in the next few days, Ukrainian officials said on Wednesday, even as Kiev called on the world to ostracize rebel forces over a deadly attack on a bus.

Chris Christie ShankbonePolitico, Chris Christie, odd man out? Ben White and Maggie Haberman, Jan. 14, 2015. Can the New Jersey governor catch up with Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney on the 2016 front? Editor's Note: This kind of result for Chris Christie's campaign was predicted here 11 months ago once Bush and Romney entered the campaign, as expected.

Off the Grid, Why Jesse Ventura refuses to fly commercial airlines, Jan. 14, 2014. Talk show host and former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura asks,  "Why is it the government and the people’s responsibility to provide the security for the airlines, which are private sector businesses?" In 2011, he brought a lawsuit against the TSA that argued body searches at airports violated his right against unreasonable and unwarranted searches. Today, he refuses to fly commercial airlines. "I go out to the airport and I’m treated like a friggin' criminal. So I stopped flying," said Jesse Ventura on his online-only political show "Off The Grid."

Jan. 13

Mitt RomneyWashington Post, Romney moves to reclaim political machinery, Robert Costa, Philip Rucker and Karen Tumulty, Jan. 12, 2015. The two-time presidential candidate began an aggressive outreach over the past three days, telling former aides and donors he is serious about a 2016 bid.

New York Times, Lawyers for Don Siegelman, Ex-Governor of Alabama, Again Seek His Release From Prison, Alan Blinder, Jan. 13, 2015. For the second time in less than a month, lawyers for former Gov. Don E. Siegelman of Alabama on Tuesday took his corruption case into a federal courtroom in an attempt to speed his eventual release from prison. During arguments before the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, a lawyer for Mr. Siegelman, Clifford M. Sloan, said allegations of misconduct by a prosecutor merited further exploration. He also said the judge who presided over the former governor’s 2006 trial had erred in applying federal sentencing guidelines. The questions raised in the appeal “go to the very heart and core of the fairness of the prosecution and imprisonment of Mr. Siegelman,” Mr. Sloan, who until recently was the Obama administration’s special envoy for the closing of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, told the three-judge panel here. But a Justice Department lawyer, John-Alex Romano, insisted that Judge Mark E. Fuller had imposed an appropriate prison sentence — 78 months — and that the United States attorney at the beginning of the inquiry, Leura Canary, had sufficiently honored her pledge to recuse herself from the case.

Legal Schnauzer, Oral arguments in Siegelman case might be overshadowed by reports about magistrate's deceit, Roger Shuler, Jan. 13, 2015. Oral arguments in the Don Siegelman case are set to be heard today before the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. But the proceedings might be overshadowed by revelations over the past week that a U.S. magistrate failed to review key documents in the case and then lied about it in his ruling. We broke the story last week that U.S. Magistrate Charles S. Coody, from the Middle District of Alabama, claimed he had "thoroughly reviewed" documents related to the supposed recusal of former U.S. Attorney Leura Canary. But as we reported yesterday, lawyers for both Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy state in court filings that Coody never even ordered the Canary-related documents from the U.S. Department of Justice, so he could not possibly have reviewed them.

Barack Obama and congressional leaders Jan. 13, 2015

President Obama talks with, from left, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.; Sen. Charles "Chuck" Schumer, D-N.Y.; Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Minority Whip; Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; after meeting with bipartisan, bicameral leadership of Congress in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Jan. 13, 2015 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

Washington Post, Morrissey, in midst of six-month jail term, wins special election to Virginia House, Jenna Portnoy, Jan. 13, 2015. Joseph D. Morrissey was reelected Tuesday to the House of Delegates, opening another chapter in a made-for-TV-movie-style drama. Voters were apparently unmoved by Morrissey’s plea last month on a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, which stemmed from his relationship with a 17-year-old receptionist at his law office. The 57-year-old Democratic lawmaker maintained his innocence while entering a guilty plea to avoid a possible conviction on felony charges.

Daily Caller via Stone Zone, Will The Jeffrey Epstein Pedophile Case Snare Clinton? Roger Stone, Jan. 13, 2015. Former President Bill Clinton visited the hedonistic private island of a billionaire pedophile who police found was engaging girls as young as 12, multiple times. Now a new lawsuit may compel the former president to testify under oath about what he was doing there. The New York Post reported that Hillary is furious that Bill is mired in the scandal. Democrat mega donor and billionaire Jeffrey Epstein was tied by Palm Beach Police to as many as 40 underaged girls and allegedly provided minor girls to Prince Andrew and lawyer Alan Dershowitz, among others. Now, a lawsuit to overturn a secret and controversial sealed wrist slap plea deal that got Epstein a mere 15 months in a Palm Beach Halfway house, may reveal what Clinton was doing on the island and why Clinton flew on Epstein’s plane 10 times to party abroad, according to FAA Logs. One woman abused on the island by Epstein told the UK Daily Mail Clinton was provided with two women “no older than 17″ when he visited Epstein’s island. A lawsuit to overturn the secret plea and a secondary defamation suit deal filed by a respected former Judge and a Fort Lauderdale lawyer may force Dershowitz to testify, and could rope in Bill Clinton.

Elizabeth WarrenFortune, Elizabeth Warren: I'm not running for president, Sheila Bair, Jan. 13, 2015. In this conversation between the Massachusetts senator and Fortune Contributor and former FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair, a more business-friendly side of Warren emerges — and the final word on a White House run. Fortune Magazine recently sat down with her to discuss her thinking on banking, tax reform, the economy, the plight of the middle class, and the 2016 Presidential elections.

Fortune: Congress just effectively repealed a Dodd-Frank prohibition on big banks using FDIC-insured deposits to fund high-risk derivatives, notwithstanding bipartisan opposition led by you and GOP Senator David Vitter. What’s going to happen to financial reform over the next few years? Is this a precursor of things to come?

Warren: I’m not sure what’s going to happen in the next Congress, but I will tell you that I’m madder than hops about repealing the section of Dodd-Frank that is designed to lower risks in exactly the area where the big banks got into trouble. And now we are putting taxpayers back on the hook. They want to take all the profits, but tag the taxpayer with the losses.

Jan. 12

Dianne FeinsteinIntercept, Dianne Feinstein, Strong Advocate Of Leak Prosecutions, Demands Immunity For David Petraeus, Glenn Greenwald, Jan. 12, 2015. David Petraeus, the person who Feinstein said has “suffered enough,” was hired last year by the $73 billion investment fund KKR to be Chairman of its newly created KKR Global Institute, on top of the $220,000/year pension he receives from the U.S. Army and the David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell, NBC_TVteaching position he holds at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Let us all pause for a moment to lament the deep suffering of this man, and the grave injustice of inflicting any further deprivation upon him. In 2011, I wrote a book, With Liberty and Justice for Some, that examined the two-tiered justice system prevailing in the U.S.: how the U.S. imprisons more of its citizens than any other country in the world (both in absolute numbers and proportionally) often for trivial transgressions, while immunizing its political and economic elites for even the most egregious crimes. Matt Taibbi’s book, The Divide, examines the same dynamic with a focus on the protection of economic elites and legal repression of ordinary citizens in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. This latest example from Feinstein is one of the most vivid yet. A four-star general who leaked classified information not for any noble purpose but to his mistress for personal reasons should be protected from any legal consequences.

Huffington Post, Elizabeth Warren, Progressives Sink Obama Treasury Nominee Antonio Weiss, Jennifer Bendery, Jan. 12, 2015. Wall Street banker Antonio Weiss has asked President Barack Obama not to renominate him to a top Treasury Department post because of the fight being waged against him by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other Democrats. In Weiss' new role, he will provide Treasury officials with advice on domestic and international issues. The news is a major victory for Warren and progressive groups who have been criticizing Weiss's nomination since November. Weiss also stood to gain $20 million from Lazard if he got confirmed for the Treasury post. That left some uncomfortable that Weiss would be inclined to give favorable treatment to his former firm.

AP via Huffington Post, Russian Spy Agency Allegedly Tried To Hire Edward Snowden, Staff report, Jan. 12, 2015. A close ally of Edward Snowden has told filmmakers that Russia's intelligence agency Edward Snowdensought to recruit the former NSA contractor, but he declined the offer. WikiLeaks staffer Sarah Harrison says the Russian FSB intelligence security service approached Snowden while he was stuck in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport for six weeks in 2013. Harrison told German filmmakers in a documentary airing late Monday that the FSB asked only once, and he "didn't give anything to the Russians at all."

Guardian, Boko Haram’s deadly advance must be stopped, but how? Elizabeth Donnelly, Jan. 12, 2015. Confidence in Nigeria’s government to contain Boko Haram is waning, and the upcoming elections are unlikely to provide a silver bullet

FireDogLake, Guantanamo Bay: A ‘Battle Lab’ Where Personnel Experimented on Prisoners to Develop Torture Techniques, Kevin Gosztola, Jan. 12, 2015. On the thirteenth anniversary of the first prisoners brought to Guantanamo Bay, a report from the Seton Hall Law Center for Policy and Research examines how the United States government used the facility as a “battle laboratory.” Prisoners were treated like “test subjects” as personnel, including medical officers, engaged in experiments to develop new interrogation techniques.

Mediaite, Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Newspaper Edits Female World Leaders Out of Charlie Hebdo March, Tina Nguyen, Jan. 12, 2015.
Yesterday’s historic march across Paris included over 40 world leaders expressing solidarity for France after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, but if you read this Haredi newspaper, you’d believe that none of them were women. The image that ran on the front page of the Israeli newspaper The Announcer edited two female world leaders out of the image, originally provided by wire service GPO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. A third woman in a blue scarf was Anne Hidalgo, the Mayor of Paris, who rallied the city to respond to the egregious attacks, but is totally a woman and therefore not important enough to be in these images.

Haaretz (Israel), Hollande asked Netanyahu not to attend Paris memorial march, Absence sought as part of attempt to keep Israeli-Palestinian conflict out of European show of unity, Barak Ravid, Jan. 12, 2015. After Netanyahu insisted on coming, French made it clear Abbas would be invited as well. French President Francois Hollande conveyed a message to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the weekend asking him not to come to Paris to take part in the march against terror on Sunday.

Jan. 11

Daily Mail, Turkish president accuses 'the West' of being behind Charlie Hebdo attacks and deliberately 'blaming Muslims' as conspiracy theories sweep the Internet accusing Israel of orchestrating it, Sara Malm, Jan. 13, 2015. The President of Turkey has suggested French security forces are to blame for the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris last week, since the culprits had recently served prison sentences. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the West of 'playing games with the Islamic world,', warning fellow Muslims to be 'aware.' Erdogan said Muslims are 'paying the price' for the attacks on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish kosher supermarket in Paris last week. 'French citizens carry out such a massacre, and Muslims pay the price,' Erdogan said yesterday.

Democracy Now, "Circus of Hypocrisy": Jeremy Scahill on How World Leaders at Paris March Oppose Press Freedom, Interview by Amy Goodman, Jan. 12, 2015. An estimated 3.7 million people rallied across France on Sunday in response to the Charlie Hebdo shootings and ensuing attacks that left 17 people dead. More than a million people marched in Paris, making it the largest demonstration in French history. More than 40 world leaders traveled to Paris to help lead the march. "What we saw on display on the one hand was very heartening, to see so many people come into the streets," says Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of The Intercept. "But on the other hand, this is a sort of circus of hypocrisy when it comes to all of those world leaders who were marching at the front of it. Every single one of those heads of state or representatives of governments there have waged their own wars against journalists."

Project Censored, Dr. Martin Luther King assassinated by US Govt: King Family civil trial verdict, Carl Herman, Jan. 12, 2015. Dr. Martin Luther King’s family and personal friend/attorney, William F. Pepper, won a civil trial that found US government agencies guilty of assassination/wrongful death. The 1999 trial, King Family versus Jowers and Other Unknown Co-Conspirators, is the only trial ever conducted on the assassination of Dr. King. The King Center fully documents the case, with full trial transcript. The King family’s attempts for a criminal trial were always denied by state and federal government. Claimed suspect, James Ray, said that his government-appointed attorney told him to sign a guilty plea to prevent the death penalty and threatened arrests of his father and brother as co-conspirators for his only part in the assassination plot: delivering a rifle.

Daily Mail, Turkish president accuses 'the West' of being behind Charlie Hebdo attacks and deliberately 'blaming Muslims' as conspiracy theories sweep the Internet accusing Israel of orchestrating it, Sara Malm, Jan. 13, 2015. The President of Turkey has suggested French security forces are to blame for the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris last week, since the culprits had recently served prison sentences. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the West of 'playing games with the Islamic world,', warning fellow Muslims to be 'aware.' Erdogan said Muslims are 'paying the price' for the attacks on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish kosher supermarket in Paris last week. 'French citizens carry out such a massacre, and Muslims pay the price,' Erdogan said yesterday.

Democracy Now, "Circus of Hypocrisy": Jeremy Scahill on How World Leaders at Paris March Oppose Press Freedom, Interview by Amy Goodman, Jan. 12, 2015. An estimated 3.7 million people rallied across France on Sunday in response to the Charlie Hebdo shootings and ensuing attacks that left 17 people dead. More than a million people marched in Paris, making it the largest demonstration in French history. More than 40 world leaders traveled to Paris to help lead the march. "What we saw on display on the one hand was very heartening, to see so many people come into the streets," says Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of The Intercept. "But on the other hand, this is a sort of circus of hypocrisy when it comes to all of those world leaders who were marching at the front of it. Every single one of those heads of state or representatives of governments there have waged their own wars against journalists."

Intercept, In Solidarity With a Free Press: Some More Blasphemous Cartoons, Glenn Greenwald, Jan. 11, 2015. Defending free speech and free press rights, which typically means defending the right to disseminate the very ideas society finds most repellent, has been one of my principal passions for the last 20 years: previously as a lawyer and now as a journalist. So I consider it positive when large numbers of people loudly invoke this principle, as has been happening over the last 48 hours in response to the horrific attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Sunday morning news channels report a huge “anti-terror” rally in France with 50 “world leaders” flown in to participate, including the Chancellor of Germany and the Prime Ministers of Great Britain and Spain. But this week’s defense of free speech rights was so spirited that it gave rise to a brand new principle: to defend free speech, one not only defends the right to disseminate the speech, but embraces the content of the speech itself. Some of the cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo were not just offensive but bigoted, such as the one mocking the African sex slaves of Boko Haram as welfare queens. To comport with this new principle, we’re publishing some blasphemous and otherwise offensive cartoons about religions and their adherents. Is it time for me to be celebrated for my brave and noble defense of free speech rights? Have I struck a potent blow for political liberty and demonstrated solidarity with free journalism by publishing blasphemous cartoons?

Global Research, Police Commissioner Involved in Charlie Hebdo Investigation “Commits Suicide;” Total News Blackout, Michel Chossudovsky, Jan. 11, 2015. Police Commissioner Helric Fredou, Number Two Police Officer of the Regional Service of France’s Judicial Police (JP), Limoges, (Haute-Vienne), “committed suicide on the night of Wednesday to Thursday at the police station.” Commissioner Helric Fredou was part of the police investigation into the Charlie Hebdo terror attack.

Daily Mail, Prince Andrew's guards 'turned a blind eye': Yard officers watched as Duke partied with young girls, says Epstein's butler, Stephen Wright and Sam Greenhill, Jan. 11, 2015. Prince Andrew's bodyguards were accused yesterday of turning a blind eye during his visits to a pedophile friend's 'house of sin.' Protection officers accompanied the royal to Jeffrey Epstein's Florida mansion where he allegedly partied with naked young women. Juan Alessi, who was Epstein's butler for 11 years, said: 'Andrew was with security. He had his two bodyguards from Scotland Yard. I can remember their names. 'The bodyguards were off duty and they slept in one of the guest bedrooms.' Hundreds of under-age girls are said to have been abused at Epstein's mansion and one woman says she was forced by the shamed financier to have sex with Andrew when she was 17, which is below the age of consent in Florida.

Jan. 10

David Petraeus

FireDoglake, Attorney General Eric Holder to Decide Whether to Charge David Petraeus with Violating Espionage Act, Kevin Gosztola, Jan. 10, 2015. Justice Department and FBI prosecutors have recommended felony charges against former CIA director David Petraeus for leaking classified information to his mistress for a biography she was writing about him. It is now up to Attorney General Eric Holder to decide whether Petraeus should be charged and prosecuted for committing a crime, such as violating the Espionage Act. The news of charges being recommended against Petraeus came from leaks from anonymous “officials,” who are frustrated Holder has not made a decision yet: "The delay has frustrated some Justice Department and F.B.I. officials and investigators who have questioned whether Mr. Petraeus has received special treatment at a time Mr. Holder has led a crackdown on government officials who reveal secrets to journalists." Petraeus has rejected a plea deal. He may have made a calculation that the last thing the Justice Department wants to do is put someone who the Times describes as “the pre-eminent military officer of his generation” on trial.

CNN, 2 senators say Petraeus investigation 'grievously mishandled,' Pamela Brown and Ralph Ellis, Jan. 10, 2015. U.S. Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham said Saturday that the leaking of information about the investigation of former CIA Director David Petraeus was "outrageous." Justice Department prosecutors are recommending charges be filed against Petraeus for disclosure of classified information, a federal law enforcement official told CNN on Friday. The statement from McCain, a Republican from Arizona, and Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said: "It is outrageous that the highly confidential and law enforcement-sensitive recommendation of prosecutors to bring charges against General Petraeus was leaked to the New York Times. It is a shameful continuation of a pattern in which leaks by unnamed sources have marred this investigation in contravention to fundamental fairness."

Mitt RomneyWashington Post, What the heck is Mitt Romney doing? Chris Cillizza, Jan. 10, 2015.  Mitt Romney sent a very clear message to a group of major donors in New York City on Friday: I'm thinking about running for president in 2016. It's a stunning reversal from public -- and private -- assertions from Romney and his allies that, after two runs for president in 2008 and 2012, he was absolutely, 100 percent done with running. Why? While Bush has drawn mostly positive attention for stepping aside from various corporate and non-profit boards in advance of his likely bid, a glimpse of the potentially problematic issues Bush will have to navigate as a result of his work  -- on education policy among other things -- since leaving the governor's office in 2006 came out this week in a terrific story by WaPo's Lyndsey Layton. Writing of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, Layton says: "The foundation, from which Bush resigned as chairman last week as part of his preparations for a possible White House bid, has been criticized as a backdoor vehicle for major corporations to urge state officials to adopt policies that would enrich the companies."

Jan. 9

Washington Post, Federal prosecutors recommend charges for ex-CIA chief Petraeus, Sari Horwitz and Adam Goldman, Jan. 9, 2015. David Petraeus could face criminal proceedings for providing classified documents to his biographer, Paula Broadwell, shown with her book, All In.

David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell, NBC_TVNew York Times, Prosecutors Said To Recommend Charges Against Former Gen. David Petraeus, Michael S. Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo, Jan. 9, 2015. The F.B.I. and Justice Department prosecutors have recommended bringing felony charges against retired Gen. David H. Petraeus for providing classified information to his former mistress while he was director of the C.I.A., officials said, leaving Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to decide whether to seek an indictment that could send the pre-eminent military officer of his generation to prison. Petraeus and Broadwell are shown together in a photo from an NBC-TV screenshot.

Mitt RomneyEditor's Note: Beginning in February of last year, the Justice Integrity Project has predicted a Romney run for 2016. Our columns predicted also beginning then that Jeb Bush would run also, with Bush the slight favorite. Our predictions were based on in-depth research for the book Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney, and Their Masters, which illustrates that both candidates are supported by powerful networks that dwarf those of GOP rivals. The boomlets for rivals merely distract public attention from the true power centers.

Washington Post, ‘I want to be president,’ Romney tells GOP donors, in a clear shift, Philip Rucker, Robert Costa and Matea Gold, Jan. 9, 2015. The 2012 Republican nominee made his most forceful statement yet about running in 2016. “I want to be president,” Romney told about 30 donors in New York. He said that his wife, Ann — who last fall said she was emphatically against a run — had changed her mind and was now “very encouraging,” although their five sons remain split, according to multiple attendees. Advisers said Romney discussed the race with his family over the holidays, when they spent time skiing in Park City, Utah, but he insisted that he has not made up his mind whether to run. Advisers said he recognizes that he would not be able to waltz into the nomination and that the intra-party competition is shaping up to be stiffer in next year’s primaries than it was in 2012.

Washington Post, Lawmakers urge end to asset forfeiture sharing progam, Robert O’Harrow Jr. The move comes as the Justice Department conducts a comprehensive review.

Abubakar Shekau Boko Haram Leader from October 2014 videoAbubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram, in a video released in October.

Washington Post, Boko Haram may have just killed 2,000 people: ‘Killing went on and on and on,’ Terrence McCoy, Jan. 9, 2015. For months, fear of Boko Haram has gripped Nigeria’s northeast. The goals of the Islamic militant group have long been about killing. But last summer, something changed. Its aspirations became as much about territory as terrorism. It no longer wants to just cripple a government. It wants to become one.

New York Times, French End Two Sieges, Killing Massacre Suspects And An Ally, Some Hostages Are Freed; At Least 4 Die, Dan Bilefsky and Maïa De La Baume, Jan. 9, 2015. Police killed the two brothers suspected in the attack on a Paris newspaper’s offices and freed their hostage, officials said. A simultaneous raid on a kosher market in Paris freed some of the hostages held by an alleged associate of the brothers, police said.

AP via Huffington Post, French Terror Suspects Surrounded, Second Hostage Situation In Paris, Lori Hinnant and Raphael Satter, Jan. 9, 2015.  French security forces struggled with two rapidly developing hostage-taking situations Friday, one northeast of Paris where two terror suspects were holed up with a hostage in a printing plant and the other an attack on a kosher market in Paris involving at least five hostages.

George W. Bush U.S. Lincoln 2003Photo: President George W. Bush in a flight suit after landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln to give his "Mission Accomplished" speech about the Iraq War.

Consortium News view OpEdNews, Will France Repeat US Mistakes after 9/11? Ray McGovern, Jan. 9, 2015. Ray McGovern is a peace activist for the religious organization Tell the Word after a career as a CIA analyst. Elias Groll included this key piece of Ray McGovernbackground on the younger of the two brother suspects: "Carif Kouachi was previously known to the authorities, as he was convicted by a French court in 2008 of trying to travel to Iraq to fight in that country's insurgent movement. Kouachi told the court that he wished to fight the American occupation after viewing images of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison." Would it be unpatriotic to suggest that a war of aggression and part of its "accumulated evil" -- torture -- as well as other kinds of state terrorism like drone killings are principal catalysts for this kind of non-state terrorism?

Global Research, Is Abbas’ war crimes bid against Israel a big bluff? Jonathan Cook, Jan. 9, 2015. Intense pressure from Israel and the US last week on members of the United Nations Security Council narrowly averted Washington’s embarrassment at being forced to veto a Palestinian resolution to end the occupation. Looming is the post-peace process era. Its advent appears to have been marked by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ decision in the immediate wake of the Security Council vote to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague.

PaulCraigRoberts.org via OpEdNews, December Jobs Report, Jan. 9, 2015. Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that a quarter of a million new jobs were created in December. The reported new jobs are concentrated in construction (48,000), professional and business services (52,000), health care and social assistance (43,700), and waitresses and bartenders (43,600). The New Economy's superior jobs that Globalism was supposed to deliver to the US work force were a fiction. Middle class American manufacturing and tradable professional skills jobs were sent offshore. The ladders of upward mobility were taken down, and the majority of the population faces a dismal economic outlook.


Barack Obama, Gabby Giffords, Mark Kelly, Jan. 8, 2015Jan. 8

President Barack Obama meets with former Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, on the fourth anniversary of the shooting that left Giffords gravely wounded, in Phoenix, Ariz., Jan. 8, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

Consortium News, via OpEdNews, CIA's Hidden Hand in "Democracy" Groups, Robert Parry, Jan. 8, 2015. Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy stress their commitment to freedom of thought and William Caseydemocracy, but both cooperated with a CIA-organized propaganda operation in the 1980s, according to documents released by Ronald Reagan's presidential library. One document showed senior Freedom House official Leo Cherne clearing a draft manuscript on political conditions in El Salvador with CIA Director William Casey and promising that Freedom House would make requested editorial "corrections and changes" -- and even send over the editor for consultation with whomever Casey (shown in a file photo) assigned to review the paper. Over the ensuing three decades, Freedom House has become almost an NED subsidiary, often joining NED in holding policy conferences and issuing position papers; both organizations pushing primarily a neoconservative agenda, challenging countries deemed insufficiently "free," including Syria, Ukraine (in 2014) and Russia. NED and Freedom House often work as a kind of tag-team with NED financing "non-governmental organizations" inside targeted countries and Freedom House berating those governments if they crack down on U.S.-funded NGOs.

New Yorker, Unforgivable: The Governor and the Teen-Ager, Evan Osnos, Jan. 8, 2015. Bob McDonnell, the disgraced ex-governor of Virginia, appealed for the mercy of the court, and he received it.  Consider a comparison, handed down in a different Virginia courtroom, in March, 2008, to considerably less attention. The defendant, Travion Blount, had no former governors or sitting Speakers or N.F.L. stars to testify to his character. His crime, as the Virginian-Pilot described it in a 2013 report, did not attract much attention: By the fall of 2006, when he was fifteen, Blount and two older teen-agers set out to rob a drug dealer at a house party near Norfolk Naval Station. The three of them pulled guns. At the sentencing, in March 2008, the judge said the gun crimes carried fixed punishments in Virginia, so his sentence for the weapons charge came to a hundred and eighteen years. On top of that, because the crime involved robbing three juveniles at gunpoint, the judge added six life sentences.

Jonathan TurleyJonathan Turley.com, Saudi Arabia To Flog Blogger For Blasphemy On Friday, Jonathan Turley (shown in photo), Jan. 8, 2015. Just days after extremists killed 12 people in Paris for insulting Mohammad in cartoons, the Saudi government has decided to go forward with its plan to flog a blogger for blasphemy. As previously discussed the abusive treatment of Raif Badawi, who founded the “Free Saudi Liberals” website. He was sentenced to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes for blasphemy and his first 50 lashes will be carried out on Friday. Badawi’s website criticized senior religious figures, including Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti. Rather than respond to the criticism, he was accused of insulting Islam and religious authorities. Originally, the Kingdom wanted him charged with apostasy and subject to the death penalty. However, he was convicted of insulting Islam and sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. The conviction led to worldwide condemnation and then an appellate court overturned the sentence.

New York Times, Democrats Step Up Efforts to Block Obama’s Trade Agenda, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Jan. 8, 2015. President Obama has acknowledged a challenge from his own ranks and has said that he must do more to explain how the Trans-Pacific Partnership would help American workers. Obama is facing opposition from fellow Democrats to one of his top priorities: winning the power to negotiate international trade agreements and speed them through Congress. “Fast track would be yet another insult to the American worker,” Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut, said on Thursday at a news conference on Capitol Hill, where she predicted the effort’s defeat. “It will not happen. We are not going to do it.”

Bob Graham, Steve Lynch, Walter JonesJan. 7

Former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham, left, fields a question Jan. 7 as a press conference on Capitol Hill. U.S. Reps. Steven Lynch, center, and Walter Jones joined Graham and 9/11 family members in advocating for a resolution demanding that President Obama release a congressional study in 2002 identifying funders for 9/11 hijackers (Photo courtesy of LaRouche PAC).

Fox News, Saudi connection? Lawmakers up pressure on Obama to release secret 9/11 documents, Joseph Weber, Jan. 7, 2015. Congressional lawmakers on Wednesday ramped up efforts to get President Obama to release 28 top-secret pages from a 9/11 report that allegedly detail Saudi Arabia's involvement in the terror attacks. Lawmakers and advocacy groups have pushed for the declassification for years. The effort already had bipartisan House support but now has the backing of retired Florida Democratic Sen. Bob Graham, a former Senate Intelligence Committee chairman whom supporters hope will help garner enough congressional backing to pressure Obama into releasing the confidential information. “The American people have been denied enough,” North Carolina GOP Rep. Walter Jones said on Capitol Hill. “It’s time for the truth to come out.”

BBC, Charlie Hebdo: Gun attack on French magazine kills 12, Staff report, Jan. 7, 2015. Gunmen have shot dead 12 people at the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in an apparent militant Islamist attack.

Washington Post, Gunmen storm Paris satirical newspaper, killing at least 12, Virgile Demoustier, Anthony Faiola and Brian Murphy Jan. 7, 2014. Gunmen killed 12 people in the deadliest terror attack in France in years. President Hollande called the shootings at the satirical weekly paper a “terrorist attack.”

Washington Post, What is Charlie Hebdo? Abby Phillip and Abby Ohlheiser, Jan. 7, 2014. Irreverent, crass, and a foe to just about every religion, the newspaper has been the target of Islamist rage in the past.

Reporters Without Borders, RSF appeals to media outlets to publish Charlie Hebdo cartoons, Delphine Halgand, Jan. 7, 2014. In response to today’s shocking attack on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo that cost 12 lives, Reporters Without Borders issues an international appeal to media editors to begin publishing Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons tomorrow.

FireDogLake, US Media Mostly Ignore Bomb Exploded Outside NAACP Office in Colorado Springs, Kevin Gosztola, Jan. 7, 2015. A bomb was detonated late in the morning on January 6 in Colorado Springs against the exterior of a building, where a local NAACP chapter’s office is located. The FBI, including the agency’s own Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives were on the scene very soon afterward to investigate the explosion. And, yet, this attack was not immediately headline news for all Americans.

Truthout, Top Secret List Shows McChrystal Halting Night Raids After Controversy, Gareth Porter, Jan. 6, 2015.  A top secret "Kill/Capture List" used to target special operations forces "night raids" in Afghanistan reveals that the Gen. Stanley McChrystal, then the commander of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, was so concerned by the political fallout from the killing of civilians in the raids - and one unit's cover-up of such killings - that he shut down the raids during March and April 2010.

Virginia RobertsPrince Andrew and Victoria RobertsEditor's Note: Australian Virginia Roberts, 30, portrayed on her Facebook page, now alleges that she was a teenage "sex slave" in Florida under the wing of billionaire Jeffery Epstein, now 61 -- and that her assignations included Prince Andrew, whom she identifies with her in a 2001 photo. Buckingham Palace has denied any impropriety.

Daily MailOnline, New lives of the girls in Andrew sex claim row: Epstein's aides who refused to testify are now a pilot and a designer, Sam Greenhill and Daniel Bates, Jan. 7, 2015.  Jeffrey Epstein allegedly made huge efforts to ‘look after’ those who kept quiet about his crimes. Both operate from £1.5m addresses in building owned by Epstein's brother.

National Review Online, Alan Dershowitz’s Curious Denials, Ed Whelan, Jan. 7, 2015. Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz has vehemently denied allegations that he had sexual relations with an under-aged girl who says she had been made a “sex slave” by businessman Jeffrey Epstein. I hope very much that Dershowitz is telling the truth, but there is something about his denials that I find curious. Dershowitz proceeds to mischaracterize Jane Doe #3’s allegations and to specifically deny the mischaracterized allegations. Editor's Note: Whelan in effect retracted his analysis Jan. 12  with, In Defense of Alan Dershowitz, noting that Dershowitz supplemented the specifics in his original denial with a more general denial.

Sydney Morning Herald, Bill Clinton drawn into Prince Andrew sex scandal, Nick O'Malley, Jan. 7, 2015. Former US president Bill Clinton has been drawn into the scandal surrounding Virginia Roberts' allegations she was instructed Bill ClintonAlan Dershowitzto have sex with Prince Andrew by American financier Jeffrey Epstein. Court documents show Mr Clinton was one of many high-profile friends of Epstein to visit his private island and fly on his jet, and that Epstein's phone directory showed he had 21 phone numbers for Mr Clinton or his aides. The documents suggest no wrong-doing on Mr Clinton's behalf, but they have set off speculation – particularly on the part of conservative online media – about the potential impact of the scandal on Hillary Clinton's presumed run for the White House. "Bubba and the Palm Beach Pedophile" screams a headline on the Drudge Report, the conservative blog made famous by its Monica Lewinsky scandal revelations, in a headline today. "The [flight logs] clearly show that Clinton frequently flew with Epstein aboard his plane, then suddenly stopped – raising the suspicion that the friendship abruptly ended, perhaps because of events related to Epstein's sexual abuse of children," says a statement lodged by Ms. Roberts' lawyer in a civil case. Attorney and law professor Alan Dershowitz, a defense counsel for Epstein shown in a file photo, denies assaulting Virginia Roberts. He also denies ever meeting her.

Prince Andrew and Leon Panetta 2011, National Building Museum wikipedia

Prince Andrew is shown above at right in a 2011 photo with U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta at a function at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. The prince holds the title of Duke of York. Born on February 19, 1960, he is the second son and third child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. At the time of his birth, the prince was second in the line of succession to succeed his mother. He is currently fifth in line.

Ruthless Ambition, Chris Christie: His Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys ... And Federal Prosecutors, Louis Manzo, Jan. 7, 2015. Living up to his reputation for shameless arrogance -- a staple of his public service career that is well documented in the book Ruthless Ambition -- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has accepted gifts from Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones. Christie caught the nation’s attention by appearing in the owner’s booth with Jones during several of the team’s late season games on their drive to the NFL’s Eastern Division Championship, and then, most recently, during the Cowboys’ playoff victory over the Detroit Lions. The travel accommodations and game perks -- including the cost of flying Christie on Jones’ private jet -- were taken care of by the Dallas Cowboys’ owner, which might also help to explain Christie’s excessive celebration.Jan. 6

Washington Post, Robert F. McDonnell sentenced to two years in prison, Matt Zapotosky, Rosalind S. Helderman and Rachel Weiner, Jan. 6, 2014. A federal judge sentenced former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell to two Bob McDonnell and Maureen McDonnell flickryears in prison Tuesday — an unexpectedly lenient punishment for a man who was convicted of selling the influence of his office to a wealthy benefactor for sweetheart loans, luxury vacations and even a Rolex watch. Unless his case is overturned on appeal, McDonnell (R), who once was mentioned as a presidential contender, will become the first Virginia governor to go to prison. Prosecutors had sought a 6 1/2 -year prison term, and sentencing guidelines called for as many as eight years and one month. But U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer’s decision ensured that McDonnell will be free before his 63rd birthday. McDonnell is shown in a file photo with his wife and co-defendant, Maureen McDonnell, who will be sentenced separately.

Bloomberg Politics, Political Payback: Boehner Takes His Revenge on Republicans Opposing Him for Speaker, Jonathan Allen and David Weigel, Jan. 6, 2015. Kicks two off the influential Rules Committee and stops a third from sponsoring a bill.  John Boehner dished out a little payback, kicking two House Republicans off the influential Rules Committee and stopping a third from sponsoring a bill after they voted against his re-election for speaker. The returning Republican members of the rules panel were announced late Tuesday after the election for the chamber’s top post, in which 24 of Boehner’s fellow party members didn’t vote for him. Absent from the list: Florida Representatives Daniel Webster, who voted for himself for speaker, and Rich Nugent, who also voted for Webster.

U.S. Rep. Walter Jones logoOffice of U.S. Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), On Jan. 7, Representatives Walter B. Jones (NC-3), Stephen Lynch (MA-8), and Senator Bob Graham (FL) held a bipartisan press conference on H. Res. 428, a resolution that calls on President Obama to declassify the 28 pages of the "Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 2001" that were initially classified by President George W. Bush and have remained classified under President Barack Obama.

Jan. 6

Reuters, Sirhan Sirhan, Convicted in RFK Death, Denied Freedom, Staff report, Jan. 6, 2015. Sirhan Sirhan, who is serving a life sentence in prison for the June 1968 assassination of U.S. presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, failed to persuade a federal judge to set him free because he was innocent of the crime. In a decision dated Monday, U.S. District Judge Beverly Reid O'Connell in Los Angeles said Sirhan “failed to meet the showing required for actual innocence” that might excuse his having failed to seek his freedom sooner in federal court. Sirhan had filed his petition for habeas corpus, which could have resulted in his freedom, in May 2000. William Pepper, a lawyer for Sirhan, did not immediately respond on Tuesday to requests for comment. Sirhan, now 70, was wrestled to the ground with a gun in his hand after Kennedy was shot on June 5, 1968, at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, shortly after Kennedy won the California Democratic presidential primary. Kennedy died the next day. The defendant was sentenced to death in 1969, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison after California banned the death penalty. Sirhan was last denied parole in 2011, and is being housed in a state prison in San Diego. His next parole “suitability” hearing will be held by March 2, 2016, a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said. In seeking Sirhan's freedom, defense lawyers argued that he had not been physically in position to fire the fatal shot, and that a second shooter and gun may have been responsible. The judge, however, said Sirhan's case was not strong enough. In rejecting Sirhan's bid for freedom, O'Connell accepted an August 2013 recommendation by U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Wistrich. The case is Sirhan v. Galaza et al, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 00-05686.

New York Daily News, Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson gains national acclaim his first year, Reuven Blau, Jan. 6, 2015. He moved to vacate a historic number of homicide convictions and declined to prosecute minor pot cases, but upset advocates for Jewish child-sex abuse victims.

Legal Schnauzer, Siegelman lawyers claim that U.S. Magistrate Charles Coody lied about reviewing Leura Canary documents, Roger Shuler, Jan. 6, 2015. The federal judge who claims he reviewed documents in the Don Siegelman case related to the recusal of U.S. Attorney Leura Canary never actually saw any such documents, according to a court filing. U.S. Magistrate Charles S. Coody, from the Middle District of Alabama, states in an order dated June 27, 2012, that he reviewed in camera (in private, in his chambers) all documents that Siegelman sought and found they contained "no exculpatory matter" that would "further" the former governor's claims. Coody proceeded to deny Siegelman's request for discovery, just as he had earlier denied a similar motion from codefendant Richard Scrushy, the former CEO of HealthSouth. By our unofficial count, Coody became the first of at least six federal judges to deny discovery on the Canary-recusal issue -- the others being trial judge Mark Fuller; a three-judge panel of the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals; and, most recently, U.S. District Judge Clay Land, who was appointed to hear the case in the wake of Fuller's wife-beating scandal. All six judges to consider the matter have denied discovery by essentially following Coody's lead -- and his claim that he had privately reviewed all relevant material that Siegelman requested. But Siegelman's lawyers state, in a brief dated August 26, 2013, that Coody never reviewed any documents related to Canary's recusal. In fact, the Siegelman team states that Coody only reviewed documents related to primary government witness Nick Bailey and never even ordered documents about Canary. In essence, Siegelman's lawyers are calling Coody a liar -- and they are saying that Coody's lies have tainted the defendants' cases for roughly 2 1/2 years now. Do they have a point?

Jan. 5

CounterPunch, The Coming War on Pensions, Michael Hudson, Jan. 5, 2015. Michael Hudson explains that having looted everything else, Wall Street is now eating our pension funds with Social Security also on the menu. Wall Street has the US government under its control and is using the federal government to subsidize Wall Street profits at the expense of Americans’ old age security. On the Senate’s last day in session in December [2014], it approved the government’s $1.1 trillion budget for coming fiscal year. 

Few people realize how radical the new U.S. budget law was. Budget laws are supposed to decide simply what to fund and what to cut. A budget is not supposed to make new law, or to rewrite the law. But that is what happened, and it was radical. Wall Street’s representatives in Congress – the Democratic leadership as well as Republicans – took the opportunity to create an artificial crisis. The press called this “holding the government hostage.” The House – backed by the Senate – said that it would shut the government down at some future date if two basic laws were not changed.

Most of the attention has been paid to Elizabeth Warren’s eloquent attack on the government guaranteeing bank trades in derivatives. Written by Citigroup lobbyists, this puts taxpayer funds behind future bank bailouts if banks make more bad bets on complex financial derivatives, such as packaged junk mortgage loans. Less attention has been paid to what happens if banks win. They will win largely in making bets against pension funds. Indeed, pension funds have not been treated well by Wall Street in recent years.

Politico, Sharyl Attkisson sues Justice Dept., Dylan Byers, Jan. 5, 2015. Former CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has sued the U.S. Department of Justice for illegal surveillance, alleging that the Obama administration hacked her computers while she was reporting on the Benghazi attacks, Fast and Furious and Obamacare.

Jan. 4

Alan Gross Dec. 17, 2014 White House PhotoAlan Gross talks on the phone with President Barack Obama onboard a government plane during the flight from Cuba to Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, Dec. 17, 2014. Gross was released after five years in a Cuban prison. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson.)

Jerusalem Post, Analysis: Alan Gross put Cuba’s Jews in awkward position, Yossi Melman, Jan. 4, 2015. The activities of the  American Jew Alan Gross, who was released from prison by Cuban authorities three weeks ago, put the Cuban Jewish community in a precarious position, jeopardizing its relations with the Castro regime. Just prior to his arrest, Gross worked as a subcontractor for USAID, helping to install communications equipment for various organizations. His job was to undermine the communist regime in Cuba and to help nongovernmental organizations and dissidents of the government to evade detection by authorities who closely watch and listen to all communications on the island. Development Alternatives, the contracting company that employed Gross, received a $6 million contract from USAID. Gross himself earned a salary of $500,000 for his efforts. His activities violated Cuban law, which forbids smuggling of the kind of equipment that he had in his possession. The Jews of Cuba number 2,000 people, most of which live in the capital. Havana is home to a number of synagogues, and Cuban Jews enjoy complete freedom of worship. The Gross case could have led foreign governments to suspect that the Jews in their midst who have ties with Jewish organizations in the US are acting as emissaries for American espionage.

Jan. 3

Prince AndrewPrince Andrew, 54, shown in a file photo, is the second son and third child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

Mirror, Prince Andrew may have been secretly filmed with underage girl he is alleged to have abused, Matthew Drake, Jan. 3, 2015. Prince Andrew's tycoon pal may have taken compromising photos of him with the underage girl he is alleged to have abused. Details buried in original court papers filed against pervert Jeffrey Epstein, 61, reveal that he recorded the sordid orgies he threw for VIPs at his luxury homes using cameras hidden in the walls of guest bedrooms. Prince Andrew and Victoria RobertsThe woman known as Jane Doe 3 – said to be 30-year-old Virginia Roberts – claims she was held as a sex slave and forced to sleep with the Duke of York in London, New York and the US Virgin Islands. She says she was 17 at the time – under the age of consent in Florida. One of the sexual encounters with the Prince, 54 and shown in a file photo, is alleged to have taken place at an orgy – involving other underage girls on Epstein’s private island. The financier, who was jailed for 18 months in 2008 after pleading guilty to solicitation for prostitution, kept a sickening stash of images on a computer seized at his Palm Beach mansion in 2006.

Jan. 2

Boston Globe, Why the Tsarnaev trial should be moved, delayed, Harvey Silverglate, Jan. 2, 2015. The upcoming trial of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, scheduled to begin Monday, should be moved Harvey Silverglateoutside Massachusetts or, at the least, postponed for a substantial period of time if he is to receive a fair trial. The Tsarnaev case is unique in modern Massachusetts history, and this must be recognized at every step of the proceedings. Nearly every citizen of the Commonwealth surely has thought that “there but for the grace of God go I.” The victims of the bombing extend well beyond the three spectators killed and 264 that sought hospital attention for serious, often life-changing injuries. Tens of thousands of residents in the cities and towns surrounding the bombing locale were subject to an unprecedented governmental “shelter-in-place” order to remain in their homes during the five days that para-military police squads, armed with weapons of war, hunted down the defendant and his older brother, who was killed in the Dzhokhar Tsaraevshootout in which the defendant was seriously wounded. There is no step that US District Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. can take short of transferring the trial outside Massachusetts.

The defendant is shown in a file photo.

Consortium News, James DiEugenio, A Disappointing ‘Selma’ Film, Jan. 2, 2015.  At a moment when voting and other civil rights are under attack in America, a new movie “Selma” recounts the struggle, led by Martin Luther King Jr., to secure the African-American right to vote. But the film falls short in both telling key facts and conveying the drama.

New York Times, Joining International Criminal Court Wouldn’t Guarantee Palestinians a War Crimes Case, Jodi Rudoren, Jan. 2, 2015. The political fallout from the Palestinian move Wednesday to join the International Criminal Court is likely to be swift and profound. Israel is expected to withhold tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority, restrict officials’ travel and possibly advance settlement activity in sensitive spots in the West Bank. The United States Congress may cut off $400 million in aid to the Palestinians. The already dim prospects for renewing peace talks now seem null. But legal repercussions from last summer’s war between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, or Israel’s settlements, would take longer and face many hurdles.

Washington Post, Republicans in state governments plan juggernaut of conservative legislation, corporate income tax rates, Reid Wilson, Jan. 2, 2015. Legislators in the 24 states where Republicans now hold total control plan to push a series of aggressive policy initiatives in the coming year aimed at limiting the power of the federal government and rekindling the culture wars. The unprecedented breadth of the Republican majority — the party now controls 31 governorships and 68 of 98 partisan legislative chambers — all but guarantees a new tide of conservative laws. Republicans plan to launch a fresh assault on the Common Core education standards, press abortion regulations, cut personal and corporate income taxes and take up dozens of measures challenging the power of labor unions and the Environmental Protection Agency. Before Election Day, the GOP controlled 59 partisan legislative chambers across the country. The increase to 68 gives Republicans six more chambers than their previous record in the modern era, set after special elections in 2011 and 2012.

Zero Hedge, Oliver Stone's New Movie: "Ukraine: The CIA Coup" Coming To A Theater Near You, Tyler Durden, Jan. 2, 2015. U.S. filmmaker Oliver Stone is currently engaged in production of a documentary about Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who fled the country following the February coup last year. As Sputnik reports, Stone's Facebook page notes, "[I] Interviewed Viktor Yanukovych 4 hours in Moscow for new English language documentary produced by Ukrainians. He [Yanukovych] was the legitimate President of Ukraine until he suddenly wasn't on February 22 of this year." The outspoken director then added, "the truth is not being aired in the West... many believe foreign elements were introduced by pro-Western factions with CIA fingerprints on it."

Jan. 1

Washington Post, For Blackwater founder, another messy conflict, Ian Shapira, Jan. 1, 2014. Eric Prince is embroiled in a lawsuit regarding his memoir and a writer who says he is owed more than $1 million.