March 2016 News Reports


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Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative March 2016 news and views

March 31

Bloomberg Businessweek, How to Hack an Election, Jordan Robertson, Michael Riley, and Andrew Willis, March 31, 2016. Andrés Sepúlveda rigged elections throughout Latin America for almost a decade. He tells his story for the first time. For eight years, Sepúlveda, now 31, says he traveled the continent rigging major political campaigns. His teams worked on presidential elections in Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Venezuela. Campaigns mentioned in this story were contacted through former and current spokespeople; none but Mexico’s PRI and the campaign of Guatemala’s National Advancement Party would comment.

He has agreed to tell his full story for the first time, hoping to convince the public that he’s rehabilitated—and gather support for a reduced sentence. Usually, he says, he was on the payroll of Juan José Rendón, a Miami-based political consultant who’s been called the Karl Rove of Latin America. Rendón denies using Sepúlveda for anything illegal, and categorically disputes the account Sepúlveda gave Bloomberg Businessweek of their relationship.

On the question of whether the U.S. presidential campaign is being tampered with, he is unequivocal. “I’m 100 percent sure it is,” he says.

Huffington Post, Hillary Clinton’s Support Among Nonwhite Voters Has Collapsed, Seth Abramson, March 31, 2016. On February 27th, Hillary Clinton led Bernie Sanders among African-American voters by 52 points. By March 26th, she led Sanders among African-Americans by just nine points. And today, Public Policy Polling, a widely respected polling organization, released a poll showing that Sanders leads Clinton among African-American voters in Wisconsin by 11 points.

It’s all part of a dramatic national trend that has seen Clinton’s support among nonwhite voters dwindle to well under a third of what it was just a month ago — not nearly enough support to carry her, as it did throughout the Deep South, to future electoral victories in the Midwest and Northeast.

Hugh Hewitt Show, Karl Rove: Picking ‘ Fresh Face ’ at Convention Could End Up Really Helping the GOP, Hugh Hewitt, March 31, 2016.

Washington Post, Trump could be stripped of his South Carolina delegates. The question is: Would the GOP dare? Philip Bump, March 31, 2016. This report from Time magazine: It suggests that the 50 Donald Trumpdelegates won by Donald Trump in South Carolina's primary earlier this year may suddenly no longer be bound to support him at the convention. Why not? Because he broke his promise to support the Republican nominee, if it's not him, during an interview earlier this week.

Associated Press via the Guardian, Turkish army threatens legal action over anti-Erdoğan coup rumours, Staff report, March 31, 2016.  Statement says army has no plans to oust president and that such ‘baseless news’ is damaging morale. The Turkish army says it has no plans to stage a coup against the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and has threatened legal action against anyone who suggests otherwise. The rare statement aims to quash speculation over the possibility of a military coup in Turkey as Erdoğan visits the US. The military said on its website such “baseless news” was hurting morale in its ranks without naming specific publications.

The Turkish army, historically seen as a defender of secular principles, has ousted three elected governments and one prime minister. The institution saw its power reduced through a series of measures after Erdoğan came to power as prime minister in 2003. Erdoğan is due to return to Turkey on Sunday.

Foreign Policy, Chaos Outside of Turkish President Erdogan’s Washington Speech, Yochi Dreazen, Paul McLeary, David Francis, March 31, 2016. A planned speech by the controversial Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan descended into violence and chaos Thursday, with one journalist physically removed from the event site by Turkish security personnel, another kicked by a guard, and a third — a woman — thrown to the sidewalk in front of a Washington think tank where he was to speak. A small group of protesters gathered across the street from the Brookings Institute near Dupont Circle in Washington, with one holding a large sign reading “Erdogan: War Criminal On The Loose.”

National Press Club via PR Newswire, National Press Club Alarmed About Reported Abuses in DC by Turkish Security, NPC Freedom of the Press Committee, March 31, 2016. National Press Club leaders expressed Recep Tayyip Erdoganalarm about reports that security personnel guarding Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had physically abused journalists here on Thursday. According to published news reports and multiple tweets from eyewitnesses, Erdogan's security team manhandled reporters at the Brookings Institution ahead of a speech by Erdogan (shown in a file photo).

The Turkish leader's bodyguards sought to physically remove one journalist from the event, kicked another and threw a third, a woman, to the sidewalk, the reports said. Smart phone footage posted on Twitter appeared to corroborate some of the allegations of violence. "Turkey's leader and his security team are guests in the United States," said Thomas Burr, the National Press Club president. "They have no right to lay their hands on reporters or protesters or anyone else for that matter, when the people they were apparently roughing up seemed to be merely doing their jobs or exercising the rights they have in this country.

Flag of Turkey"We have increasingly seen disrespect for basic human rights and press freedom in Turkey," Burr added. "Erdogan doesn't get to export such abuse." Independent observers have documented a deterioration of press freedom in Turkey as Erdogan has become more and more authoritarian. Turkey is among the world's top jailers of journalists. Reporters there have also been increasingly subject to harassment, intimidation and physical attack.

Associated Press via ABC News, Ted Cruz Wins Citizenship Case in Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has won a case in Pennsylvania's highest court that had challenged his eligibility to appear on the state's GOP primary ballot and serve as president. The state Supreme Court order Thursday upheld a lower-court judge's decision to dismiss the case. A Pittsburgh resident and registered Republican voter, Carmon Elliott, had argued that Cruz isn't eligible to run for president or to appear on Pennsylvania's April 26 primary ballot because he was born in Canada.

Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini ruled March 11 that common law precedent and statutory history maintain that an eligible candidate includes any person born to an American citizen, regardless of where. Elliott had acknowledged that Cruz's mother was born in the United States and has been a U.S. citizen her whole life.

RT, Assad says ‘Erdogan's army of terrorists’ fighting in Syria, Staff report, March 31, 2016. Turkey’s direct support for terrorists fighting in Syria makes them President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s own army, Syrian  Saudi Arabian flagPresident Bashar Assad said in an exclusive interview with Sputnik, adding that his country is ready to counter the aggression. Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia, have "crossed all possible red lines, possibly from the first weeks of the Syrian war," Assad said. "Today, the war against Erdogan and against Saudi Arabia is a war against terrorists. The Turkish army, which is not even Turkish, is Erdogan's army that is fighting today in Syria," he added.

Everything that Ankara and Riyadh “have done from the very beginning can be considered aggression. Aggression in a political sense or in a military sense – providing terrorists with arms – or direct aggression with the use of artillery, and other military violations," he stressed. However, Assad stressed that there was no dispute between the peoples of Syria and Turkey.

Mashable, U.S. will send battle-ready troops and tanks to border with Russia, Christopher Miller, March 31, 2016. Battle-ready American soldiers will soon be permanently positioned along Russia's western borders. In a move not seen since the Cold War, the Pentagon plans to send U.S. troops with heavy artillery to Eastern Europe to bolster the defenses of its NATO allies and send a message to an increasingly aggressive Moscow: back off.

General Philip Breedlove, shown in an official photo and the top U.S. commander in Europe, announced the move Wednesday, saying it demonstrates a "strong and balanced approach to reassuring our NATO Allies and partners in the Philip Breedlove NATOwake of an aggressive Russia in Eastern Europe and elsewhere." It means about 4,500 U.S. troops along with 250 tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Paladin self-propelled howitzers and more than 1,700 additional military vehicles would be on the ground in six countries by next February. The move marks an escalation of a proposal announced last year, when it said it was considering ways to increase America's military present in Eastern Europe to deter Russia.

It also gives more details to budget proposals disclosed in February that quadrupled military aid and outlined more frequent rotations of troops into Europe, where they would have used older training equipment pre-positioned there.

The most recent sign of tension came Tuesday, when the Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin would boycott the Nuclear Safety Summit in Washington this week due to a lack of coordination with Western governments. Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes called Putin's decision not to participate "a missed opportunity for Russia above all" that would only leads to the country's further isolation.

The estimated 4,500 troops and military equipment are expected to be spread across Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania. The materiel could also be moved around the region for training and military exercises.

U.S. News and World Report, D.C. Madam's Attorney Says Election Bombshell Already Online,  Steven Nelson, March 31, 2016. The colorful litigator who represented the late “D.C. madam” Deborah Palfrey and Montgomery Blair Sibley and Debra Jean Palfreythreatened this week to release call logs of his former client that he says are “very relevant” to the 2016 presidential election tells U.S. News those records already are digitized and posted online.

Montgomery Blair Sibley says the records will become public if he fails to reset a 72-hour countdown clock, which could cut short his soft two-week ultimatum for federal courts to consider lifting a 2007 gag order that covers the records, lest he deem that order void. The countdown clock is a safeguard, Sibley says, that ensures that if he disappears the records will be published. Inevitable release, he says, may also disincentivize violent acts against him to prevent their disclosure., State Department apologizes, deletes tweet giving travel advice to ugly Americans, Erin Edgemon, March 31, 2016. The State Department apologized after seemingly tweeting advice targeted to unattractive Americans on Wednesday. "Beware of being lured into buying expensive drinks or worse – being robbed," the now deleted tweet read. The State Department deleted the tweet and tried to clarify the statement, which was intended to warn Americans traveling abroad not to fall for scammers.

Reuters via Jerusalem Post, Air strikes kill 21 Islamic State members in east Syria, Wire report, March 31, 2016. At least 21 Islamic State members were killed in air strikes in Syria's eastern city of Deir al-Zor, a monitoring group said on Thursday. Fifteen of the dead Islamic State militants were foreigners, and some had already been buried. (The Saudi flag is shown in a file photo.)

Associated Press via KIII-TV (Corpus Christi/South Texas), Russian sappers with robots to clear mines in Palmyra, Vladimir Isachenkov, March 30, 2016. Russian combat engineers arrived Thursday in Syria on a mission to clear mines in the ancient town of Palmyra, which has been recaptured from Islamic State militants in an offensive that has proven Russia's military might in Syria despite a drawdown of its warplanes.

New York Times, Trump and Abortion, Nicholas Kristof, March 30, 2016. Just when you thought Donald Trump couldn’t say anything more shocking, he suggested that women who get abortions should be punished. On MSNBC, he said abortion must be banned and then “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who manage to get abortions.

He declined to say what the punishment should be, dodging a question about whether it should be “10 years” in prison or something milder. But his comment raised the possibility of following the lead of countries like El Salvador, where women can be dragged off from a hospital to prison for getting an abortion. Indeed, rights groups say that women were wrongly imprisoned in El Salvador simply for having miscarriages.

Trump doesn’t seem to have thought deeply about the issue — what a surprise! — and he departed from the mainstream anti-abortion position of targeting not women but abortion providers. As one person said on Twitter: “He’s a walking cartoon parody of every leftist accusation against Republicans.”

March 30

The Washington Post, This student put 50 million stolen research articles online. And they’re free, Michael S. Rosenwald, March 30, 2016. The 27-year-old graduate student from Kazakhstan is operating a searchable online database of nearly 50 million stolen scholarly journal articles, shattering the $10 billion-per-year paywall of academic publishers.

National Press Club, Jim Lehrer: There's always got to be a program like NewsHour on television, Bill McCloskey, March 30, 2016. Retired PBS NewsHour host Jim Lehrer speaks at Club's "Legends of Broadcasting: dinner March 29. [JIP's editor attended this event and confirmed with the speaker that he reaffirms initial reporting that the Warren Commission was correct in finding that President Kennedy's accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy and acted alone. Lehrer covered the 1963 assassination initially as a newspaper reporter based at the Dallas airfield where the president landed in Dallas. Later, he was city editor of the Dallas Times-Herald.] 

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad with wife Asma at ceremony for deceased soldiers March 21, 2016 SANA Photo

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with wife Asma at ceremony for deceased Syria soldiers March 21, 2016 (SANA Photo)

Reuters via Yahoo News, Assad says he can form new Syria government with opposition, Jack Stubbs and Lisa Barrington, March 30, 2016. President Bashar al-Assad said it would not be difficult to agree on a new Syrian government including opposition figures, but his opponents responded on Wednesday that no administration would be legitimate while he remained in office. Assad, bolstered by military victory in the desert city of Palmyra, was quoted by Russia's RIA news agency as saying a new draft constitution could be ready in weeks and a government that included opposition, independents and loyalists could be agreed. Opposition negotiators immediately dismissed Assad's remarks. The United States also rejected Assad's comments.

Foreign Policy in Focus, Donald Trump: Foreign Policy’s Useful Idiot? John Feffer, March 30, 2016. It might take someone of Trump’s vapid visibility to drive home the point that "world’s policeman" is not a viable role for the U.S. to play. The man is an incoherent, misogynistic bully. But his foreign policy vision, a kind of fun-house version of Reaganism, is upsetting Beltway mandarins, shaking up the Republican Party, and pointing to a potential rupture in the informal liberal-conservative consensus on foreign policy that has prevailed in Washington since the end of the Cold War., Rebekah Caldwell Mason resigns in wake of Gov. Bentley scandal, Erin Edgemon, March 30, 2016. Rebekah Caldwell Mason has resigned from her post as Gov. Robert Bentley's top political adviser, she Jon Masonsaid in a Wednesday afternoon statement. "I have resigned as Senior Political Advisor to Governor Bentley and will no longer be paid from his campaign fund," the statement reads. "I have also ended my work with the Alabama Council For Excellent Government. My only plans are to focus my full attention on my precious children and my husband who I love dearly.  They are the most important people in my life. Thank you for your prayers for our family."

Editor's note: Mason's husband, Jon Mason (shown in a file photo), is the governor-appointed state director of Serve Alabama, whose mission is excerpted from its website as:

"ServeAlabama is a state agency under the office of the Governor of Alabama. Serve Alabama, The Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Volunteer Service works to increase an ethic of service and volunteerism in the State of Alabama, strengthen the capacity of Alabama’s faith and community-based organizations, and promote collaboration among individuals and organizations striving to meet some of the greatest needs in our state."

Legal Schnauzer, Rebekah Caldwell Mason becomes first major casualty of the sex scandal enveloping Alabama Governor Dr. Robert Bentley; who will be next to hit the exits?  Roger Shuler, March 30, 2016. Rebekah Caldwell Mason resigned this afternoon as senior political advisor to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, almost exactly seven months after we broke the story of her extramarital affair with the governor.

Mason becomes the second major Alabama political figure to step down in the past year in the wake of investigative reporting that originated with this blog. The other was former U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, known mainly for causing former governor Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy to be unlawfully sent to prison. Fuller formally resigned on August 1, 2015, after revelations that he had beaten his second wife in an Atlanta hotel room. 

March 29

Julian Assange in graphic by The Indicter

Julian Assange (graphic by The Indicter)

The Indicter, Sweden’s politically appointed judges to decide on case Assange, Dr. Marcello Ferrada de Noli, March Issue (March 29), 2016. In a remarkable insight about the Swedish legal system, a noted The Indictercolumnist of Sweden’s largest newspaper Aftonbladet – Oisín Cantwell –  criticizes today the Swedish institution of lay judges in his article [Swedish] “Shortcomings that embarrass Sweden internationally.” Cantwell refers the case of a lay judge (called in Sweden nämndemän) which published in his page on Facebook a picture of an electric chair, adding the suggestion that this type of punishment was his verdict of choice for certain crimes of sexual nature.

But in Sweden the death of convicted criminals by execution is forbidden. And that person was at the moment of the Facebook publication a Swedish lay-judge. Awkward as it sounds, in Sweden most of the judges that pass verdict in court cases are appointed by political parties; only a minority are academic-schooled professional judges.

Lay Judges would determine Julian Assange’s destiny, provided that the Swedish prosecutors decide – against all odds – to take the Assange case to court. Oisín Cantwell is not against the Lay-judges system in Sweden; he only criticizes “its current form” – as he clarified on Twitter – and in the main, Cantwell only protests in his article against the fact that one new emerging parties (the far right-wing Sweden Democrats) has increased its share of lay-judges from estimated 300 to 700, after the national elections of 2014.

Al Jazeera, Palmyra is a major turning point in Syria's Civil War, Ibrahim Al-Marash, March 29, 2016. Ibrahim al-Marashi is an assistant professor at the Department of History, California State University, San Marcos. He is the co-author of "Iraq's Armed Forces: An Analytical History." Bashar al-Assad had said for years to both Syrians and the international community that only his regime could prevent the spectre of ISIL taking over Syria. Damascus finally invested in amassing enough military forces to defeat ISIL in a battle for territory.

Huffington Post, Trump Withdraws His Pledge To Support The GOP Nominee; Cruz and Kasich back off the pledge, too, Christina Wilkie, Republican front-runner Donald Trump said Tuesday he doesn’t plan to Donald Trumphonor his pledge to support the party’s nominee for president if it’s not him. Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Trump’s rivals, also backed away from similar pledges, inserting a new kind of acrimony into the already heated race.

Trump recently hired longtime GOP lawyer and operative Paul Manafort to help his campaign navigate the delegate and convention process. On Tuesday, Trump expressed dismay at the delegate apportionment in the recent Louisiana primary, where Cruz emerged with more delegates, even though Trump won the plurality of votes.

Huffington Post, Trump Campaign Manager Charged With Battery Of Reporter, Christina Wilkie, March 29, 2016. Donald Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was charged with battery Tuesday following an incident in which he allegedly grabbed a reporter, Michelle Fields, at a campaign event earlier this month.

Washington Post, Pentagon and State Department order families of U.S. troops and diplomats to leave Turkey, Dan Lamothe, March 29, 2016. Several Turkish cities have been bombed in recent months.

Legal Schnauzer, Web press breaks story on sex scandal involving Alabama's "family values" governor Robert Bentley -- and also raises issues about possible criminal acts, Roger Shuler, March 29, 2016. Perhaps no story in recent months illustrates the value of the Web press like the sex scandal involving Alabama's "family values" governor, Dr. Robert Bentley, and aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason, which exploded on the national stage last week. The Web press has not just focused on the titillation factor. The serious side of the story, about misconduct and possible criminality, also made its debut in the digital arena.

Maybe that's why Bentley pressured law enforcement to target me and attorney Donald Watkins in an effort to shut down reporting about the gubernatorial love nest. Maybe he feared our reporting would go beyond groping and groaning and focus on abuse of the governor's official position. If so, Bentley was right to be fearful of that.  ow do we know? Well, the story of the Bentley/Mason extramarital affair broke here, at Legal Schnauzer, last August -- almost seven months before national news outlets, such as The New York Times, Washington Post, and Rachel Maddow Show, took notice last week. And we did not just outline the story's "T and A" elements, the kind that tend to make a blog's page views soar. We also addressed the unsexy notion that the public trust had been betrayed, the state's government had been compromised, and criminal acts might be involved.

March 28

Barack Obama and Saudi King Abdullah White House June 29, 2010Barack Obama and the late Saudi King Abdullah at the White House June 29, 2010 (White House Photo)

Huffington Post, Obama of Arabia, Kristen Breitweiser (9/11 widow and activist), March 28, 2016. Why does President Obama think it’s okay for 15 Arabs (and four of their friends) to come into our country, hijack our planes, crash them into our buildings, and brutally kill 3,000 innocent people?

Because those 15 Arabs were Saudis, that’s why. And, Saudis are special. Saudis are apparently allowed to get away with murder — or at least the financing of it. I am a 9/11 widow. My husband Ron was killed while he was working at his desk for Fiduciary Trust Company on the 94th floor of Tower 2. Ron was 39 years old, I was 30, and our daughter was two.

Kristen BreitwasserSince 9/11, my life has been spent fighting for truth, accountability, and lessons to be learned so that no other family would ever have to suffer such searing pain and tragic loss. Shamefully, my government has fought me tooth and nail along the way. Recently, it has become increasingly clear to me why my government has fought against such transparency, accountability, and revelation of the truth regarding the 9/11 attacks.

There are 28 pages of the Joint Inquiry of Congress (an investigation into the U.S. government intelligence failures prior to 9/11) that have remained classified and hidden away from the American public by both the Bush and Obama Administrations. These 28 pages allegedly prove that the Saudis had a controlling hand in funding the 9/11 attacks that killed 3,000 innocent people.

Now, it’s more than fair to say that if these 28 pages blamed the Iraqis or the Iranians for financing the 9/11 attacks, they would have been released years ago. Unfortunately, since the 28 pages allegedly implicate the Saudis, they’re likely to remain secret and kept away from the American public forever.

Washington Post, Justice Dept. restarts program that lets cops seize, keep cash, Christopher Ingraham, The practice allows local police departments to seize assets from people who are never convicted — and in many cases never charged — with wrongdoing. Reformers had hoped that the suspension of the program back in December was a signal that the Justice Department was looking for ways to rein in the practice. But that no longer appears to be the case.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, Top Strategist Rebekah Mason and former Alabama law enforcement chief Stephen Collier WKRGAlabama Gov. Robert Bentley, Top Strategist Rebekah Mason and fired Alabama law enforcement chief Spencer Collier (Photos via WKRG-TV)

WJHL (Johnson City, TN) - WKRG (Mobile, AL), 2 criminal investigations launched into Ala. Gov. Bentley’s relationship with adviser, Peter Albrecht, March 28, 2016. 14 times in 43 minutes, Gov. Robert Bentley tells Rebekah Mason that he loves her in the complete recorded phone conversation between the two from August, 2014. Last week the most sexually explicit moments of the recordings were released, but today the full recording was released by the website Yellowhammer.

“You know, I worry about sometimes I love you so much, I worry about loving you so much,” Bentley tells Mason. “I do. I do. You know, I feel like, all the time I’m thinking, ‘How can I contact her? How can I call her? How can I text her? How can I be in contact with her? How can we do this?’” The Governor also seemed put-off by the demands of his official schedule getting in the way of his time with Mason. Just five days ago, Bentley denied a physical relationship with Mason following complaints by former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Spencer Collier that he was fired because of his concerns over impropriety.

Alabama Political Reporter, Bentley Ordered Law Enforcement to Target Critics, Bill Britt, March 28, 2016. Gov. Robert Bentley pressured law enforcement officers to use federal and state resources to target Robert Bentleythose critical of his relationship with senior advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason, according to high ranking officers and staff. In an effort to find potentially damaging information on those who spoke out against the couple, Bentley instructed top law enforcement agents to investigate private citizens, in direct conflict with the law, said those close to the matter.(

Robert Bentley and Rebekah KelleyTwo individuals with detailed knowledge of the incidents say Bentley ordered the use of the National Crime Information Center, (NCIC) and the Law Enforcement Tactical System (LETS) to find any incriminating evidence that might be used against attorney Donald V. Watkins, and Legal Schnauzer blogger Roger Shuler. These powerful databases serve as a “Google-style” search engine for law enforcement, allowing agencies to search the most private aspects of a person’s life.

Former ALEA [Alabama Law Enforcement Agency] staff and attorneys refused to cooperate with Bentley [shown in an official photo and also with Mason, as recorded by an anonymous photographer at an event at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC].

In a four part series entitled, “Forbidden Love – Robert Bentley’s Secret Love Affair,” Watkins wrote in detail about events which have now been confirmed by former State Law Enforcement Chief Spencer Collier and tapes discovered by’s John Archibald.

In an interview with, Watkins said, “I knew he was targeting me, I have known for years that Bentley was upset by my public criticism of his administration and his policies.” The Alabama Political Reporter has already confirmed the US Department of Justice is investigating the firings at ALEA, and if actions against Collier and others were part of a cover-up orchestrated by Bentley and Mason.

Shuler, on his site Legal Schnauzer, has written numerous articles on Bentley and Mason. In an August 2015 post he wrote, “Rebekah Caldwell Mason, a married mother of three from Bentley’s home base of Tuscaloosa, was the governor’s mistress in an affair that sources say raises a number of possible legal issues – including use of the state jet and a state trooper’s services for personal reasons that had nothing to do with Bentley’s official role.” [Mason, whose husband serves as the Republican governor's director of outreach to the faith community, has denied impropriety.]

While the media’s and public’s attention has been primary focused on the alleged affair, Bentley’s real problems are the issues before law enforcement.

Politico, Supreme Court won't hear Blagojevich appeal, Josh Gerstein, March 28, 2016. The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will not hear an appeal from former Gov. Rod Blagojevich (R-Ill.) over his federal corruption convictions for seeking to sell the Senate seat Barack Obama vacated when he was elected president in 2008. There was no comment or recorded dissent from the justices as they turned down the petition from Blagojevich, who is serving a 14-year sentence in the case.

Last year, a federal appeals court threw out four of 18 counts on which the former governor was convicted, saying that the four counts covered a kind of a political "logrolling" that was too common to amount to bribery or extortion. The appeals court's action should lead to Blagojevich being resentenced, but he's expected to get a similar sentence to what he's already serving. Some lawyers thought the justices might hold onto Blagojevich's high court petition until later in the term because next month the court is scheduled to hear arguments on similar issues in the case of former Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-Va.). He was convicted of doing favors for a nutritional supplement producer after receiving lavish gifts.

Politico, Tell-all book exposes Petraeus emails, Josh Gerstein, March 28, 2016. A new tell-all book from a Florida woman enmeshed in the investigations that eventually brought down CIA Director and retired Army General David Petraeus lays bare dozens of the emails that the FBI pored over as they explored whether Petraeus and other top military brass were being stalked or blackmailed. Author Jill Kelley, a former cancer researcher tapped as an honorary liaison between Central Command and coalition countries, reveals the playful banter that may have fueled suspicion that she was having an affair with Petraeus or other generals. Kelley insists nothing inappropriate transpired between her and Petraeus.

Jill KelleyKelley's whirlwind of social dinners and event organizing with military leaders was thrown into turmoil in May 2012 when Gen. John Allen emailed to say he received a disturbing email from a This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. address saying: "Don't let her play with you under the table at your dinner this month, like she does to charm other four-star officers, Ambassadors and officials...."

Allen called the email "very strange," not only for its assertions but also because the writer seemed to be aware of his schedule.

In the book, Jill Kelley suggests dark political motives overtook the FBI probe. "This investigation was simply a tool for digging up dirt on political targets," Kelley writes. She's now become a crusader for privacy rights, launching a foundation to pursue that effort and urging legal reforms to boost legal protection for emails.

BBC, Syria civil war: Army 'steps up offensive from Palmyra,' Staff report, March 28, 2016. The Syrian army, backed by Russian warplanes, is reported to be continuing its offensive against so-called Islamic State (IS) after recapturing the ancient city of Palmyra on Sunday. Correspondents say the recapture of Palmyra is one of the biggest setbacks for IS since it declared a caliphate across swathes of Syria and Iraq in 2014. Meanwhile, experts have said that damage to the ancient ruins does not appear to have been as bad as feared. The head of antiquities in Syria, Maamoun Abdulkarim, told the BBC that more than 80% of the ancient city was still intact.

BBC, The surprising public reaction to a sex tape scandal in Georgia, Staff report, March 28, 2016. After sex tapes featuring two Georgian politicians surfaced online, many people reacted not by shunning the public figures involved - but by protesting against the leaks and those thought to be responsible for them.

Salon, Donald Trump proxy Roger Stone claims to have seen women Ted Cruz allegedly had affairs with: He’s “copulating with rodents,” Scott Eric Kaufman, March 28, 2016. Your eyes don't deceive you -- Ted Cruz presidential button"copulating with rodents" is, in fact, part of our political lexicon now.

Roger Stone — a Donald Trump supporter and the only named source in the National Enquirer’s article about Ted Cruz’s alleged mistresses — spoke to Frank Morano on AM 970 this past Sunday about the allegations against the Texas senator, and he insisted that he couldn’t be a Trump operative because he’s not being paid like one. Cruz apparently disavowed the allegations in part by saying that Stone is someone who “copulates with rodents,” to which Stone replied that “knowing what a couple of these women looked like, I actually feel he’s the one who’s been copulating with rodents.” In addition to shaming largely anonymous women, Stone also explained why Cruz’s non-denials were so unconvincing.

“He’s a lawyer himself,” he said, “so why won’t he sue? It won’t cost him anything. To be absolutely clear — Cruz won’t sue because the allegations are largely true.”

Stone further noted that this scandal concerns the candidate himself, not his wife — though that didn’t stop him from running her into the ground, and at great length no less, as well. “This scandal doesn’t pertain to Heidi,” he said, before adding that “I presume that Trump is talking about Heidi’s mental breakdown, the fact that she was found by the local police wandering and disoriented and they determined she was a threat to herself.”

Fox News, Trump threatens lawsuit over lost Louisiana delegates, Kelly Cohen, March 28, 2016. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump threatened Sunday to sue Ted Cruz over potentially claiming Donald Trumpmore Louisiana delegates in a state he technically won. "Just to show you how unfair Republican primary politics can be, I won the State of Louisiana and get less delegates than Cruz. Lawsuit coming," Trump tweeted Sunday afternoon.

In the Louisiana primary March 5, Trump won with more votes compared to Cruz. Originally, Trump and Cruz each got 18 delegates, with five going to Rubio. But Cruz may wind up with as many as 10 more delegates from the state. WSJ also reported that Cruz's supporters "also seized five of Louisiana's six slots on the three powerful committees that will write the rules and platform at the Republican National Convention and mediate disputes over delegates' eligibility this summer in Cleveland."

Occupy Democrats, Trump’s Top Strategist Just Quit And Wrote This Brutal Open Letter To Trump Voters, Colin Taylor, March 28, 2016. One of Donald Trump’s top campaign strategists, former communications director Stephanie Cegielski, has resigned from his campaign in protest of Trump’s ridiculous statement that “only he can solve” the bombing in Pakistan (whatever that might mean).

She has penned a devastating open letter to his supporters, explaining to us why she originally supported Trump, and how his excess and dishonesty turned her against him. She issues a stark warning to Trump supporters that the supposed “authenticity” of Trump is nothing but smoke and mirrors, a soap opera character  – and that at the end of the day, Donald Trump only cares about himself. A brutal denunciation of Trump as both a candidate and a person, it might be the most complete evisceration of the orange-haired rabble-rouser yet written.

Mother Jones, Clinton Campaign: No More Debates Until Sanders Starts Being Nicer, Patrick Caldwell, March 28, 2016. Over the weekend, Sen. Bernie Sanders publicly challenged Hillary Clinton to face off on a debate stage in New York before the state's primary on April 19. On Monday, a top Clinton staffer said not so fast. Joel Benenson, the campaign's chief strategist, said on CNN Monday morning that Sanders needs to watch his tone, or else the Clinton campaign will pack up its ball and head home. "The real question is, what kind of campaign is Sen. Sanders going to run going forward?," Benenson said when asked about Sanders' request for a New York debate.

Consortium, Bernie Sanders as Commander-in-Chief, Robert Parry, March 28, 2016. Exclusive: Tulsi Gabbard, a Hawaii congresswoman and Iraq War veteran (shown in a file photo), stars in a stunning ad endorsing Bernie Sanders as Tulsi Gabbard“Commander-in-Chief,” a potential turning point in the Democratic race, writes Robert Parry. Sen. Bernie Sanders’s landslide victories in Washington State, Alaska and Hawaii on Saturday coincided with a long-awaited signal that he may finally be ready to challenge former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the “Commander-in-Chief” question, which has been regarded as one of her key strengths.

In what may be the most striking campaign commercial of the presidential race, the Sanders campaign released an ad, entitled “The Cost of War” and featuring Hawaii’s Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran who endorsed Sanders not just as her preference for President but as Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. military. What the Gabbard ad seems to recognize is that Sanders’s campaign could rally a substantial part of the Democratic “base” and win over many “regular” Democrats by challenging Clinton on her hawkish proclivity for “regime change” wars.

Politico, Fidel Castro lectures Obama after Cuba trip, Nick Gass, March 28, 2016. President Barack Obama did not meet with Fidel Castro during his historic visit to Cuba last week, but apparently that does not mean that Castro did not have any thoughts. Castro ripped into the president and his words during the visit in El Granma, the official state newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party, bringing up Obama's relative youth, the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and the role of both countries in ending the apartheid in South Africa and elsewhere on the continent. Cuba "has no need of gifts" from the United States, Castro concluded. "Our efforts will be legal and peaceful, because it is our commitment to peace and brotherhood of all human beings living on this planet."

Armenian Weekly, Breaking: Surp Giragos Armenian Church among Expropriated Properties in Diyarbakir, Staff report, March 28, 2016. A list of lands and buildings in Diyarbakir’s Sur district — including the Surp Giragos Armenian Apostolic and the Armenian Catholic Churches — have been expropriated by the Turkish government.

March 27

Conservative Treehouse, Day #4 – Cruz Mistress Saga – Roger Stone: Ted Cruz Won’t Sue National Enquirer “Because The Allegations are Mostly True,” Sundance, March 27, 2016. Today, Roger Stone, the man specifically accused by Senator Ted Cruz of planting the story, speaks out in interview. Denies involvement, points out that MSM [Mainstream Media] is indeed researching the video (showing encounters / not direct sex tape) and substantive claims, and points out Ted Cruz won’t sue the National Enquirer. 

◾ Day #1 – National Enquirer publishes a story claiming: “Five Romps That Could Destroy Ted Cruz.” Three “mistresses” identified. Backstory here.
◾ Day #2 – (Morning) Senator Cruz mostly denies accusations Blames Donald Trump. Compares Donald Trump to a “Rat.” Backstory here.
◾ Day #2 – (Afternoon) The Daily Beast reveals source of story was Marco Rubio campaign operatives. Multiple reports confirm video exists of encounters. Backstory here.
◾ Day #3 – Former Cruz Communications Director faces increased social media scrutiny for flirtations and intimate behavior. Backstory here.

AM 970 (New York City), The Cuban Mistress Crisis, Frank Morano interviews best-selling author and former Donald Trump for President advisor Roger Stone, March 27, 2016. (13:33 min.)

Washington Post, Arizona’s voting outrage is a warning to the nation, E.J. Dionne Jr., March 27, 2016. In November, one of the most contentious campaigns in our history could end in a catastrophe for our democracy.

Global Research, World Class Journalist Spills the Beans, Admits Mainstream Media is Completely Fake, Arjun Walia, March 27, 2016. Recently, Dr. Udo Ulfakatte went on public television stating that he was forced to publish the works of intelligence agents under his own name, also adding that noncompliance with these orders would result in him losing his job. He recently made an appearance on RT news to share:

I’ve been a journalist for about 25 years, and I was educated to lie, to betray, and not to tell the truth to the public. But seeing right now within the last months how the German and American media tries to bring war to the people in Europe, to bring war to Russia — this is a point of no return and I’m going to stand up and say it is not right what I have done in the past, to manipulate people, to make propaganda against Russia, and it is not right what my colleagues do and have done in the past because they are bribed to betray the people, not only in Germany, all over Europe.

Udo Ulfkotte German Jjournalist who accused CIADr. Udo Ulfkotte (shown at left) is a top German journalist and editor and has been for more than two decades and is not the only person making these claims. One (out of many) great examples of a whistleblowing reporter is investigative journalist and former CBC News reporter Sharyl Attkisson. She delivered a hard-hitting TEDx talk showing how fake grassroots movements funded by political, corporate, or other special interests very effectively manipulate and distort media messages.

Another great example is Amber Lyon, a three-time Emmy award winning journalist at CC, who said that they are routinely paid by the US government and foreign governments to selectively report and even distort information on certain events. She has also indicated that the government has editorial control over content.

Ever since Operation Mockingbird, a CIA-based initiative to control mainstream media, more and more people are expressing their concern that what we see in the media is nothing short of brainwashing. Things have not changed. One great example is the supposed ‘war on terror,’ or ‘false flag terrorism.’ There are evenWikileaks documents alluding to the fact that the United States government planned to “retaliate and cause pain” to countries refusing GMOs. Mainstream media’s continual support of GMOs rages on, despite the fact that a number of countries are now banning these products.

Washington Post, Tracing the Hillary Clinton email scandal, Robert O'Harrow Jr., March 27, 2016. Hillary Clinton's email problems began in her first days as secretary of state. Frustrated that she wasn’t allowed to take her personal BlackBerry into her own office, she and her aides pushed for a solution that would enable her to use the device in the secure area.

Washington Post, ‘It’s been a secretive, bungled investigation': Conservative group goes after Benghazi panel, Elise Viebeck, March 24, 2016. A committee spokesman promised a "virtually unprecedented level of transparency" once the final report and witness transcripts are released.

Bernie SandersWashington Post, Sanders sweeps Democratic caucuses in trio of Western states, Anne Gearan, March 27, 2016. Sen. Bernie Sanders scored victories in the Democratic caucuses in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii on Saturday, three Western-states contests that the independent senator from Vermont had been favored to win. The delegates he captured in the sweep dented but did not seriously damage front-runner Hillary Clinton’s lead in the race for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Winning all three states, however, buoyed his insurgent challenge, as the contest moves back to large, delegate-rich states in the Midwest and Northeast.

Alaska: Sanders 81%. Clinton 19%. 100% results

Hawaii: Sanders 70%. Clinton 30%. 100% results

Wash.: Sanders 73%. Clinton 27%. 100% results

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad

Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad (file photo)

USA Today, Reports: Syria government forces take back Palmyra, Steph Solis and John Bacon, March 27, 2016. Syrian government forces backed by unrelenting Russian airstrikes recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra from Islamic State militants on Sunday, the Syrian army announced Sunday. The announcement followed a three-week siege that left hundreds of militants killed and sent many more fleeing into the desert, the army said. It follows a string of military setbacks for the Islamic State in its efforts to create a Sunni-based caliphate from a wide swath of Syria and Iraq.

“Palmyra city is now fully cleared of ISIS terrorists after the army established complete control over all its parts, including the archaeological site and the airport,” the Syrian army said in a statement through the government-controlled Syrian Arab News Agency. Government forces and Shia militias were also taking control of neighborhoods on the outskirts of the United Nations heritage site known in the region as "the bride of the Syrian desert."

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad said the victory showed his army's efforts were more effective than that of the U.S.-led coalition at combating Islamic State in the region. Hours before Assad's claim of victory, Russia said it had flown 40 sorties in the area in the last day. "The Russian warplanes delivered strikes against 158 terrorist objectives, killing over 100 militants, destroying four tanks, three artillery pieces, four depots with ammunition and five motor vehicles," the Russian news agency Tass reported.

Syria map as of March 27, 2016 International Military Review

Syria battlefield map of Palmyra region as of March 27, 2016 (Map by International Military Review)

SouthFront, Syria: Palmyra Is Liberated. What Now? Staff report, March 27, 2016. Today, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), Hezbollah and other pro-government militia groups with Russian air support have liberated the city of Palmyra from ISIS. Palmyra is a crucial logistical hub which will allow the Syria’s forces to increase its edge in freedom of movement while terrorists will be restricted. Now, the SAA and its allies will likely advance through the Palmyra-Sukhna-Deir Ezzor road in order to break ISIS siege.

Los Angeles Times, In Syria, militias armed by the Pentagon fight those armed by the CIA, Nabih Bulos, W.J. Hennigan and Brian Bennett, March 27, 2016. Syrian militias armed by different parts of the U.S. war CIA Logomachine have begun to fight each other on the plains between the besieged city of Aleppo and the Turkish border, highlighting how little control U.S. intelligence officers and military planners have over the groups they have financed and trained in the bitter five-year-old civil war.

The fighting has intensified over the last two months, as CIA-armed units and Pentagon-armed ones have repeatedly shot at each other while maneuvering through contested territory on the northern outskirts of Aleppo, U.S. officials and rebel leaders have confirmed. In mid-February, a CIA-armed militia called Fursan al Haq, or Knights of Righteousness, was run out of the town of Marea, about 20 miles north of Aleppo, by Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces moving in from Kurdish-controlled areas to the east.

RT, Vehicles set ablaze for 2nd night amid riots in Stockholm suburb (Video), Staff report, March 27, 2016. Violent riots continued for a second night in the southern Stockholm Swedish flagsuburb of Alby, known for its significant immigrant population, RT’s Ruptly agency reports. Protesters set fire to cars and pelted police and emergency services with rocks and pyrotechnics.

Sweden’s last major riots took place in 2013, provoked by an alleged incident of police brutality. But there have been widely-publicized incidents involving foreign-born residents, including asylum center murders, and sexual assault cases, over the past year. Sweden accepted nearly 170,000 asylum seekers in 2015, more per capita than any other EU state. As Swedish law forbids police to record the ethnicity and origin of the perpetrators, the identity of the recent rioters is unlikely to be uncovered.

March 26

Politico, FBI says it has limited records on Clinton email case, Josh Gerstein, March 26, 2016. The FBI hasn't traded any correspondence with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton or her Hillary Clintonrepresentatives in the course of the law enforcement agency's ongoing investigation of the private email account and server she used as Secretary of State, an FBI official told a federal court on Friday.

Responding to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for FBI records about the probe, which is believed to have been underway for about nine months, FBI records official David Hardy said his agency had only a smattering of correspondence with the State Department about the matter and no records at all of authorizations to discuss the Clinton email inquiry with the media or other outside parties. The suit, filed by Vice News reporter Jason Leopold, also sought copies of all emails and other files the FBI has managed to retrieve from Clinton's server and back-up devices such as thumb drives.

Strategic Culture Foundation, Brussels Attack: Another Chapter in NATO's Gladio Strategy? Wayne Madsen, March 27, 2016. Europe has experienced another Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist attack. This time terrorists set off bombs at Brussels International Airport in Zaventem, a stone’s throw away from NATO headquarters, and the Maelbeek Metro station, in the heart of the European Union’s Brussels office building complex. The Brussels attack was linked to the November 13, 2015 attacks in Paris, which targeted the Bataclan concert hall and restaurants and cafés in the heart of the city, as well as the Stade de France football stadium.

In almost a replay of the Paris attacks, the news media began reporting that the Brussels attack was carried out by two brothers – Ibrahim and Khalid el-Bakraoui – who were linked to the November 13 attacks in Paris.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who, himself has suspicious connections to ISIL fighters in Syria, claimed that one of the Brussels terrorist brothers, Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, had been deported by Turkey to the Netherlands in July 2015, some four months before Abdeslam’s cell carried out the Paris attacks. Erdogan said that Turkey deported Ibrahim el-Bakraoui because he was a militant foreign fighter in Syria. Turkey has aided and abetted other militant foreign fighters, including terrorists, traveling to and from Syria, so why Erdogan singled out el-Bakraoui is a mystery. It also stands to reason that if Turkey was such a valued member of NATO, why did it deport a security threat to the Netherlands, also a NATO member?

Huffington Post, The ‘Massive Game Of Telephone’ That Preceded The Ted Cruz Tabloid Rumors, Michael Calderone, March 26, 2016. Reporters and operatives spent months caught up in unsubstantiated claims of a sex scandal before they ran in the National Enquirer.

President ennedy on the US Coast Guard Yacht Manitou in 1962 (Photo National Archives via Wikimedia)

President Kennedy on the US Coast Guard Yacht Manitou in 1962 (Photo National Archives via Wikimedia)

WhoWhatWhy, The Birth of Modern Presidential Campaigning, WhoWhatWhy Team,  March 26, 2016. JFK was the first politician to recognize that the media image of a candidate, not his platform, determines who wins and who loses. Now candidates everywhere rely on that playbook. 

And in this cycle, Donald Trump has taken the personal image-centric campaign to a whole new level. The Republican frontrunner has not bothered to articulate any detailed (or coherent) platform. Instead, Trump simply promises frustrated Americans that he will make the country great again because he is a “winner.

March 25

Barack Obama

President Obama at his Oval Office desk (White House file photo)

Washington Post, On pardons, Obama could go down as one of the most merciless presidents in history, George Lardner Jr. and P.S. Ruckman Jr., March 25, 2016. His inaction on federal pardons is unpardonable. George Lardner Jr., a former Post reporter, is scholar in residence at American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop. P.S. Ruckman Jr. is a professor of political science and editor of the Pardon Power Blog. 

President Obama has a clemency record comparable to the least merciful presidents in history. He has granted just 70 pardons, the lowest mark for any full-term president since John Adams, and 187 commutations of sentence. Meanwhile, 1,629 pardon petitions have been denied (more than five of the previous six presidents), as well as 8,123 requests for commutations (a new record). An additional 3,444 requests have been “closed without presidential action.”


Ted Cruz National Enquirer StoryNew York Magazine, National Enquirer — Which Just Happens to Have Ties to Trump — Says Cruz Has Had 5 Affairs, Jen Kirby, March 25, 2016. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have been beefing back and forth Ted Cruz presidential buttonabout their wives this week, which makes for rather interesting timing for a salacious report in the National Enquirer. The new issue of the infamous tabloid out this week has the SHOCKING CLAIMS that "pervy" Ted Cruz has had at least five mistresses on the side. The tabloid prints five photos, each with a black bar across the eyes of the alleged Cruz lovers, a phrase that doesn't at all feel natural to write.

The juicy details aren't available online, but according to the catnip teasers the National Enquirer has posted [Shocking Claims: Pervy Ted Cruz Caught Cheating — With 5 Secret Mistresses!] at least one of the women is a "foxy political consultant and a high-placed D.C. attorney." That should make you either more skeptical (usually these stories involve women who are marginal to the political process) or less skeptical (Alabama governor Robert Bentley, just this week, was revealed to have something going on with a top aide).

RealClearPolitics, Trump Supporter Accuses Amanda Carpenter Of Having An Affair With Ted Cruz on CNN, Carpenter Denies  Ian Schwartz, March 25, 2016. Live on CNN Friday, a Donald Trump supporter accused Ted Cruz supporter and former staffer Amanda Carpenter of having an affair with presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, referencing a National Enquirer story charging that the Texas Senator has had several extramarital affairs.

The heated argument started after Donald Trump's character was called into question when Adriana Cohen, the Trump supporter, charged Carpenter of being one of the several women who have had affairs with Cruz.

"If we're going call Donald Trump's character into question, I would like Ted Cruz to issue a statement whether or not the National Enquirer story is true, that he's had affairs with many women, including you were named, Amanda. Will you denounce or confirm?" Cohen asked.

Cruz Press Conference: Cruz called a press conference March 25 to call the allegations untrue "garbage" and denounce Trump as responsible for planting the story, but not offering proof. Trump denied responsibility.

Conservative Outfitters, 8 Things You Need To Know About Ted Cruz's Sex Scandal, Staff report, March 25, 2016. The National Enquirer just dropped a bombshell on the Cruz campaign and the internet exploded overnight. Reports claim investigators found Ted Cruz allegedly had an affair with five different women. The publication did not name names and only printed pixelated photos. Internet users on Twitter, Reddit and 4chan quickly went to work to determine the identity of all five women. 8 things you need to know:

1. The National Enquirer Was Right About John Edwards, Tiger Woods and Jesse Jackson
2. Washington Times Reporter Confirms Story
3. Breitbart Had Story But Chose Not To Publish
4. #CruzSexScandal Is Trending on Twitter
5. The Internet Claims To Have Identified Who Most Of The Women Are. Etc....

Washington Post, Cruz denies adultery allegations, blames ‘garbage’ on Trump, David Weigel and Katie Zezima, March 25, 2016. Sen. Ted Cruz accused his GOP rival of hawking a false narrative to a tabloid as the presidential candidates feuded over their wives. Donald Trump said he had nothing to do with it. Sen. Ted Cruz on Friday vehemently denied a story in the National Enquirer that accused him of extramarital affairs and blamed rival Donald Trump for planting “complete and utter lies” in the tabloid.

Cruz accused Trump and his associates of hawking a false story that the married Texas senator had sexual relationships with five unidentified women. The allegations come amid a nasty feud between the two candidates over their wives that has dominated the Republican presidential race this week. “Let me be clear, this National Enquirer story is garbage,” Cruz told reporters after a rally at a parking-cone factory here, bringing up the subject himself. “It is complete and utter lies. It is a tabloid smear, and it is a smear that has come from Donald Trump and his henchmen.”

Trump, in a statement, said he had “no idea” whether the story was true and said he had nothing to do with it. “Ted Cruz’s problem with the National Enquirer is his and his alone, and while they were right about O.J. Simpson, John Edwards, and many others, I certainly hope they are not right about Lyin’ Ted Cruz,” Trump wrote.

Morning Call (Allentown, PA), Ted Cruz's citizenship case may go to Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Scott Kraus, March 25, 2016. The Pittsburgh man who lost a legal challenge to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's eligibility Ted Cruz presidential buttonto serve as President has appealed his defeat to the state Supreme Court. Carmon Elliott, a retiree and registered Republican, argued at a March 10 hearing before Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini that Cruz's Canadian birth, albeit to a mother who was a U.S. citizen at the time, disqualifies him from appearing on the April 26 primary ballot.

Pellegrini ruled that as a U.S. citizen from birth, Cruz is eligible to appear on the ballot. Elliott filed the appeal Monday. While the Supreme Court has discretion to decide whether or not to accept appeals of cases that originate at the county court level, it is required to accept election case appeals such as Elliot's. Republican primary opponent Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized Cruz, who was born in Calgary to his mother, a U.S. citizen and his father who at the time was a Cuban citizen, over the issue on the campaign trail. With an April 26 primary looming, Pennsylvania's Secretary of State Pedro A. Cortés certified the ballot on Wednesday, including Cruz among the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, said Wanda Murren, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of State., Alabama does not deserve better than Robert Bentley, Josh Moon, March 25, 2016. As a number of the state’s Republican Party politicians called on the Republican governor (shown in an official photo) Robert Bentleyto resign over the latest revelations of his “inappropriate relationship” with a staffer, they mostly did so by reasoning that the Alabama voters “deserve better.”

But they’re wrong.

The people of this state do not deserve better. The people of this state are getting exactly what they deserve, because the people of this state have, time and again, ignored reasonable, smart candidates – both Republican and Democratic – to vote for pandering, ignorant Neanderthals who profess loudly their morally superior character and promise wholly unconstitutional and un-American intentions.

The people of this state have elected men and women who ignorantly turn down billions of dollars in health care for the poorest citizens, who routinely set up deals that provide tax riches to those who need it least at the expense of those who need it most, and who have thumbed their noses at the idea of a separation of church and state – unless that church is non-Christian, of course.

And where has that all gotten us?

  • You have a family values governor who has the worst phone sex tape ever recorded and is on the verge of being forced out of office.
  • The Speaker of the House is indicted on 23 felony counts, and while a court decision awaits, it would seem impossible that he can avoid a guilty verdict on at least two of those charges.
  • The state’s attorney general’s office is in shambles, having fired people left and right over the last two years because they tried to secretly aid the Speaker in his defense and the tactics of the prosecutor in the case have come under serious question.
  • The state’s supreme court is a joke, with a chief justice who routinely seeks to violate the U.S. Constitution and another justice who gave a radio interview about a case the court was considering.
  • Another Republican lawmaker was caught up in the Speaker’s shenanigans, pleaded guilty and resigned.
  • The state’s budget is so screwed up by a tax structure that takes more from some of the lesser earners than it does from the top earners that we needed two expensive special sessions during the last legislative cycle to create an awful budget, and another special session is looming this year.
  • The state’s Public Service Commission is actively serving the businesses it should be regulating instead of the public it should be serving.


Gregory Hauenstein photo, Hillary Clinton in Des Moines, IA, June 14, 2015 Flickr

Hillary Clinton in Des Moines, IA, June 14, 2015 (Photo by Gregory Hauenstein photo via Flickr), American Crime Family Advances On The White House, Paul Craig Roberts (shown in file photo), March 25, 2016. Has any American previously been able to run for the presidential nomination while being under investigation by the FBI for security violations? That Hillary Clinton so easily escapes accountability indicates the immunity of those who serve the deep state.

Paul Craig RobertsAnd serve the deep state the Clintons certainly do as is indicated by the $153 million in “speaking fees” — read bribes and payoffs — that CNN and Fox News report the Clintons have been paid by Wall Street, the mega-banks, and corporate America. This sum does not include campaign donations or donations to the Clintons’ foundation.

Mike Lofgren defines the deep state as the powerful private interest groups (the One Percent) and the more or less permanent personnel who comprise the One Percent’s operatives in the government. Despite the appearance of blatant corruption, Hillary is in the lead for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Either American voters are inured to political corruption or something else is going on. Stephen Lendman reports that Hillary, aided and abetted by the Democratic Party and election officials, is “winning” primaries through fraud.

Stephen Lendman Blog, Clinton Stole Arizona Primary, Stephen Lendman, March 25, 2016. Voting was suppressed by greatly limiting the number of polling locations – forcing Arizonans to stand long hours in lines, denying thousands a chance to cast ballots once stations closed, or simply walking away in frustration. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton demanded a Justice Department investigation. On Wednesday, Sanders said “(w)hat happened yesterday in Arizona should be considered a national disgrace.” Arizona was classic electoral theft, the process rigged for Clinton, perhaps an indication of what’s coming in November.

In the 2012 primary, Maricopa County, Arizona (Phoenix the county seat) with over four million of the state’s 6.8 million population had 200 polling places, 60 on March 22. The outcome was predictable, rigged to assure Clinton won. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) said “(l)ets be clear. Vote suppression happened…disproportionately affect(ing) poor people and people of color,” having to travel to distant polling stations, faced with endless lines intended to deny their franchise.

Many people are physically unable to stand in line five hours to vote. Others refuse for good reason. Most Arizonans cast ballots by mail, mostly women or elderly voters, more likely to favor Clinton – her early lead used to declare victory. Thousands had their party affiliation changed from Democrat to independent or other designation, preventing them from voting.

Eric Holder NPC Noel St. John 1 Feb. 17, 2015

Then-Attorney Gen. Eric Holder speaks at the National Press Club Feb. 17, 2015 (Noel St. John Photo)

Politico, Holder seeks women's prison reforms, Josh Gerstein, Former Attorney General Eric Holder and a Washington-based civil rights group are urging changes to the way the criminal justice system treats female prisoners, particularly those put behind bars by D.C.'s local courts. A new report issued Friday notes that D.C. women who have more than nine months to serve on a sentence are sent far from the Washington area. Most go to a federal prison in West Virginia, while others are sent to Pennsylvania, Texas or Minnesota.

"Challenges that incarcerated women face are magnified by that issue," said Holder, who served decades ago as a D.C. Superior Court judge and is now a partner at Covington & Burling. "It's hard to keep in touch with children and family and depending on the distance it might be impossible for families to make trips to the prison." The report, prepared for the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, urges that women with up to two years left on their sentences be allowed to serve at D.C.'s Correctional Treatment Facility, a privately run jail in Southeast D.C.

White House Chronicle,The Myth of Immigrant Assimilation, Llewellyn King, March 25, 2016. In the aftermath of the Brussels attacks, critics are blaming Belgium for not assimilating immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa. The fact is that Europe does not do assimilation. Europeans widely practice what might be called “anti-assimilation.” Instead of engagement with their immigrants, they practice a kind of look-the-other-way stance.

Muslim immigrants on the whole do not seek to integrate into European societies, but rather to demand that European societies adopt their ways. Muslim defenders, after the bombings in Brussels, insist that Western countries with large Muslim minorities should do more to integrate them into national life. But this integration mostly means that the host culture should bow to the insurgent one.

If anything, the separation has grown worse for generations that know no life other than the one they lead in Europe. The original immigrants could look back to what they had escaped, whether it was war and persecution in Algeria, in the case of those who migrated to France, or the grinding poverty that prevailed in Pakistan, in the British case. People move for safety or for a better life. They do not move because they want a new food or a new religion: They want the old food and the old religion in a better place.

Trouble is that three or four generations on, the immigrant descendants may not feel they are in a better place. They are isolated, largely unemployed and subjected to the preaching of murderous extremists.

The Hill, Trump aide fulfills threat to 'spill the beans' on Heidi Cruz, Jesse Byrnes, March 25, 2016. An aide to Donald Trump on Friday fulfilled the businessman's threat to "spill the beans" on Republican presidential rival Ted Cruz's wife, Heidi. Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson rattled off a list of attacks three days after Trump first made the threat. "Spilling the beans is quite simple when it comes to Heidi Cruz," Pierson said in an interview with MSNBC's Steve Kornacki.

"She is a Bush operative; she worked for the architect of NAFTA, which has killed millions of jobs in this country; she was a member on the Council on Foreign Relations who — in Sen. Cruz's own words, called a nest of snakes that seeks to undermine national sovereignty; and she's been working for Goldman Sachs, the same global bank that Ted Cruz left off of his financial disclosure," Pierson said. "Her entire career has been spent working against everything Ted Cruz says that he stands for," she added.

Cruz spokeswoman Alice Stewart responded to the remarks in a statement to The Hill, saying, "There's no low the Trump campaign won't go."

Ted Cruz has repeatedly slammed Trump for attacking his wife, describing Trump on Thursday as a "sniveling coward" and telling the businessman to "leave Heidi the hell alone."

Earlier in the MSNBC interview, Pierson said "this isn't about Heidi Cruz, this is about Melania Trump. Melania Trump was the one that was attacked." Trump's campaign has pointed to an ad in Utah earlier this week from an anti-Trump super-PAC that showed Melania Trump posing nude from a magazine photo shoot in January 2000. Cruz has denied any connection to the group or the ad, though Trump's campaign has attempted to continue linking him to it, noting that the ad also encouraged voters to support Cruz in the three-man GOP race.

Judicial Watch, Judicial Watch Reveals More Benghazi, Clinton Foundation Corruption, Tom Fitton, March 25, 2016. This has been an important week in our continuing investigation of Hillary Clinton's time as Hillary Clintonsecretary of state. We are uncovering critical links between her official duties and the private interests of her family's foundation.

The 276 pages of internal State Department documents we released this week reveal that within two days of the deadly terrorist attack on Benghazi, Mohamed Yusuf al-Magariaf, the president of Libya's National Congress, asked to participate in a Clinton Global Initiative function and "meet President Clinton." The meeting had not previously been disclosed. The documents also show that Clinton's staff coordinated with the Clinton Foundation's staff to have her thank Clinton Global Initiative project sponsors for their "commitments" during a Foundation speech on September 25, 2009. 

Washington Post, Doctors worry about Indiana law that bans abortions for fetal disorders, Danielle Paquette, March 25, 2016. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists fears that a new measure could push women to keep details from their physicians. Backers of the law say it could strengthen patients' relationships with medical professionals.

Washington Post, Highest-ranking Navy officer yet sentenced in sex-for-secrets scandal, Craig Whitlock, March 25, 2016. The highest-ranking U.S. Navy officer convicted so far in a massive bribery scandal was sentenced to almost four years in prison Friday for selling military secrets to an Asian defense contractor in exchange for prostitutes, stays at luxury hotel and other favors. Capt. Daniel Dusek, the former commander of the USS Bonhomme Richard, an amphibious assault ship, received a 46-month prison sentence and was ordered to pay $100,000 in fines and restitution during a hearing in federal court in San Diego.

Dusek is one of 10 defendants charged so far in the case, perhaps the biggest corruption scandal in the Navy’s history. Two sailors have already received prison terms, while two other Navy officers and a senior agent for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Federal prosecutors have said more criminal charges are likely. The Navy has also censured three admirals for ethics violations and suspended the security clearances for two others, including the chief of naval intelligence.

In a statement filed in federal court this week, Dusek admitted to “succumbing to the temptations before me” by giving classified information to Glenn Defense Marine Asia, a Singapore-based contractor, as part of a scheme to fleece the Navy of tens of millions of dollars. “I have disgraced myself and the Navy that I love and now end my naval career in utter humiliation,” Dusek wrote. Dusek also hinted that higher-ranking officers were on the take and that the relationship between the contractor and Navy brass was even more sordid than previously known.

In his statement, he said a “senior officer who was a friend and a mentor” introduced him in 2010 to the owner of Glenn Defense Marine Asia, Leonard Glenn Francis, a charismatic figure known in Navy circles as “Fat Leonard.” The unnamed senior officer described Francis as “a great friend of the Navy” and influenced Dusek to trust and work closely with the contractor. Francis pleaded guilty to bribery charges last year and is cooperating with U.S. investigators. He has admitted to systematically bribing “scores” of Navy personnel by plying them with prostitutes, envelopes of cash, stays at resorts and Epicurean feasts when their ships docked at ports throughout Asia.

More on Cruz Scandal Allegations

Daily Beast, Sleazy Does It, Ted Cruz ‘Affair’ Rumors Peddled by Marco Rubio’s Allies, Asawin Suebsaeng and Betsy Woodruff, March 25, 2016. The senator accused Donald Trump of planting a National Enquirer sex scandal story. If that’s true, Trump wasn’t the only Cruz opponent trying to traffic in smears. A half-dozen GOP operatives and media figures tell The Daily Beast that Cruz’s opponents have been pushing charges of adultery for at least six months now—and that allies of former GOP presidential hopeful Marco Rubio were involved in spreading the smears.

For months and months, anti-Cruz operatives have pitched a variety of #CruzSexScandal stories to a host of prominent national publications, according to Republican operatives and media figures. The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bloomberg News, Politico, and ABC News — reporters at all those outlets heard some version of the Cruz-is-cheating story. None of them decided to run with rumors. Those publications’ representatives all declined to provide on-the-record comments when The Daily Beast reached out for this article.

Breitbart, Ted Cruz sex scandal story leaked to National Enquirer by Marco Rubio “ally,” not Donald Trump, report says, Brendan Gauthier, March 25, 2016. But why would Rubio, with nothing left at stake, sponsor a smear campaign against the one GOPer who can stop Trump?  Maybe Donald Trump isn’t behind the Ted Cruz “sex scandal” story leak to the National Enquirer after all. According to The Daily Beast, “for months and months, anti-Cruz operatives have pitched a variety of #CruzSexScandal stories to a host of prominent national publications.”

One such outlet was Breitbart News, which was shown “a compilation video of Cruz and a woman other than his wife coming out of the Capitol Grille restaurant and a hotel on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” a source inside the publication told The Daily Beast. (Leave it to a politician to keep a standardized booty call schedule.) The Breitbart source confirmed that they’d received the video from “a Rubio ally,” but ultimately decided against running the story because, “There was no way to verify the claims.”

WND, Savage threatens to dump Trump over Cruz 'sex scandal,'  Douglas Ernst, March 25, 2016. 'I don't like this kind of smear.' One of Donald Trump's most ardent supporters says he may walk away from the billionaire over the alleged "sex scandal" story published by the National Enquirer on Thursday. Radio host Michael Savage told his listeners on Friday that Trump's ties to National Enquirer CEO David Pecker raises red flags as to who started rumors claiming Sen. Ted Cruz cheated on his wife, Heidi, with five women. The "Savage Nation" host said Pecker is known to fly on Trump's jet from New York to Florida, which is why the Republican front-runner must condemn the story.

March 24

Presidernt Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Secretary of State Kerry at UN Sept. 28, 2015

President Obama is shown in a September meeting at the United Nations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Secretary of State John Kerry.

Washington Post, In Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State is in retreat on multiple fronts, Liz Sly, March 24, 2016. As European governments scramble to contain the expanding terrorist threat posed by the Islamic State, on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria the group is a rapidly diminishing force. In the latest setbacks for the militants on Thursday, Syrian government troops entered the outskirts of the historic town of Palmyra after a weeks-old offensive aided by Russian airstrikes, and U.S. airstrikes helped Iraqi forces overrun a string of Islamic State villages in northern Iraq that had been threatening a U.S. base nearby.

Huffington Post, Bernie Sanders Lays Out His Requirements For Endorsing Hillary Clinton, Marina Fang, March 24, 2016. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) insisted he’ll stay in the presidential race, but outlined Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sandersconditions under which he would endorse Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton “if I can’t make it.” Sanders, who badly trails Clinton in delegates for the Democratic nomination, said Wednesday that his chief priorities include making sure the party embraces his anti-establishment platform and expands its base.

“If I can’t make it — and we’re going to try as hard as we can until the last vote is cast — we want to completely revitalize the Democratic Party and make it a party of the people rather than one of large campaign contributors,” Sanders said in an interview on the progressive Web show “The Young Turks.”

Sanders also listed policy demands he would make of Clinton, including a single-payer health care system, a $15 an hour minimum wage, tougher regulation of the finance industry, closing corporate tax loopholes and “a vigorous effort to address climate change.” He also expressed concern about Clinton’s consistency on policy issues. “What we need is to create a movement which holds elected officials accountable and not let them flip” on issues, Sanders said.

Sanders’ pitch to Democratic voters has involved bringing his policy differences with Clinton to the forefront, labeling her as an establishment candidate and questioning her beliefs on issues important to the party’s base. Clinton would likely have to adopt more of Sanders’ policy positions to win over his supporters.

Conservative Treehouse, National Enquirer Runs Story of Multiple Ted Cruz Affairs, Sundance, March 24, 2016. Oh dear, the National Enquirer has come out with a story [Shocking Claims: Pervy Ted Cruz Caught Cheating — With 5 Secret Mistresses!] claiming evidence of multiple sexual trysts by presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz. Worse yet for the Cruz camp, the framework within the article is structurally very concerning:

The National Enquirer is indeed a tabloid – and as such there are various grains of salt that should be applied when reviewing anything they present. However, that said, they have been unfortunately accurate for more than a few presidential hopefuls:  Gary Hart, Jesse Jackson and John Edwards to name a few of the more infamous examples.

Beyond the story itself there’s a few presenting elements which point to a high degree of confidence, and as a consequence ‘legal avoidance’, on the publishers’ part. Firstly, they post pictures of the collective mistresses. NE [National Enquirer] would never legally “go there” if they did not hold a very reasonable certainty the outlined players were factually part of the story. Secondly, there’s at least one face in the group that is easily identifiable.

When you accept the NE editorial/legal requirement for research and attributed comment prior to publication, you recognize there is more than a strong probability each of the outlined group (pictured) was contacted prior to publication; and one of those is very close to the Donald Trump campaign. Ergo, it’s entirely likely presidential candidate Donald Trump knew this story was coming out.

Which puts candidate Trump’s prior discussion and opinion of media libel in a strangely much larger, and more substantially prescient, aspect.

Washington Times, Poll shows Gary Johnson in double digits in 3-way race against Clinton, Trump, David Sherfinski, March 24, 2016. Libertarian presidential hopeful Gary Johnson, possibly benefiting from dissatisfaction with the two major parties’ front-runners, is in double digits in a potential three-way race, according to a poll released Thursday. In a three-way contest, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton was at 42 percent, GOP front-runner Donald Trump was at 34 percent, and Mr. Johnson, who is seeking the Libertarian Party’s nomination, was at 11 percent, according to the Monmouth University poll.

Institute for Policy Studies, Gustavo Castro Witnessed the Murder of Berta Cáceres. That Means His Life Is in Danger, Beverly Bell, March 24, 2016. In the face of silence from Washington, the Clinton-backed coup government in Honduras is mopping up activists for democracy and indigenous rights.

Washington Post, ‘It’s been a secretive, bungled investigation': Conservative group goes after Benghazi panel, Elise Viebeck, March 24, 2016. A committee spokesman promised a "virtually unprecedented level of transparency" once the final report and witness transcripts are released.

National Press Club, Latin America journalists tell how governments, cartels block their investigative stories, Kristin Szremski, March 24, 2016. Panel discusses obstacles to investigative reporting in Latin America at March 23 event. From left: Joyce Barnathan, president International Center for Journalists; Carmen Aristegui,; Suchit Chávez, La Prensa Grafica; Ana Carolina Alpirez, ojoc ICFJ; Carmen Aristegui,; Suchit Chávez, La Prensa Grafica; Ana Carolina; and Luis Botello, ICFJ senior program director.

Three Latin American journalists at a March 23 event described the daunting task they face in finding outlets -– even their own -– that will air or publish their investigations. Outlets hold back their stories because they fear intimidation by governments or drug cartel, the three journalists told a packed audience in an event sponsored by the Washington--based International Center for Journalists. The journalists, who spoke through an interpreter, are from Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala.

“This is a type of direct and indirect censorship,” said Carmen Aristegui, a national radio host in Mexico, who was fired from her long-standing job at MVS Communications after her report on the multi-million dollar presidential villa exposed the conflict of interest between Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and the developer, who’d won millions in government contracts.

When she was unable to air her report on her own radio program, Aristegui reached out to international media, such as the Washington Post and the New York Times. It was that international pressure that “forced the Mexican government to do a farce of an investigation,” she said.

Intercept, Blackwater founder Erik Prince under federal investigation, Matthew Cole, Jeremy Scahill, March 24 2016. Erik Prince, founder of the now-defunct mercenary firm Blackwater and current chairman of Frontier Services Group, is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and other federal agencies for attempting to broker military services to foreign governments and possible money laundering, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the case.

What began as an investigation into Prince’s attempts to sell defense services in Libya and other countries in Africa has widened to a probe of allegations that Prince received assistance from Chinese intelligence to set up an account for his Libya operations through the Bank of China. The Justice Department, which declined to comment for this article, is also seeking to uncover the precise nature of Prince’s relationship with Chinese intelligence.

Prince, through his lawyer, Victoria Toensing, said he has not been informed of a federal investigation and had not offered any defense services in Libya. Toensing called the money-laundering allegations “total bullshit.” The Intercept interviewed more than a half dozen of Prince’s associates, including current and former business partners; four former U.S. intelligence officers; and other sources familiar with the Justice Department investigation. All of them requested anonymity to discuss these matters because there is an ongoing investigation. The Intercept also reviewed several secret proposals drafted by Prince and his closest advisers and partners offering paramilitary services to foreign entities.

Legal Schnauzer, To "Doctor Love" Bentley, putting his "hands under" aide Rebekah Mason is not a form of sexual activity, Roger Shuler (shown in a photo), March 24, 2016. Longtime Alabama investigative blogger Roger Shuler Roger Shulerbroke the story about a sex scandal involving the state's governor, Republican Robert Bentley, based on a tip provided via the courageous Alabama whistleblower Dana Jill Simpson stemming from the governor's then-wife of 50 years. In 2007, Simpson and Shuler began as whistleblower and blogger following Simpson's shocking disclosures documenting how former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, a Democrat, had been framed on corruption charges by Republican opponents for political reasons, with travesty of justice continued by the Obama administration's Justice Department. Both Simpson and Shuler have been financially ruined by retaliatory legal and job actions. Siegelman remains imprisoned for 1999 actions (primarily reappointing to a state board a donor to a non-profit that Siegelman helped found to improve educational opportunities.

Shuler's most recent column on the current governor is excerpted below:

Dr. Robert Bentley has proven he is not much of a governor for Alabama, but he sure has potential as a highly creative sex educator. Bentley acknowledged at a press conference yesterday making "inappropriate remarks" to aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason, but he denied the two had engaged in "sexual activity." But an audio recording published at multiple news outlets has Bentley talking fondly to Mason about "putting my hands under you."

Sounds like "Doctor Love" was doing more than talking dirty. How would he know he loves certain activities if he had not already engaged in them? Bentley must think the people of Alabama are abominably dense if he expects them to buy his story.

The real dunderhead, of course, is Bentley himself. Via national coverage at the New York Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, and the Rachel Maddow Show, Bentley comes across as the creepy grandpa everyone hopes they'll never have to spend time with alone. Former First Lady Dianne Bentley, who ended her 50-year marriage to the governor because of the Mason affair, played a major role in exposing the "lovebirds." That's from the conservative Alabama political site Yellowhammer News and a report by publisher Cliff Sims:

Politico, Woman in Petraeus flap drops suit against feds, Josh Gerstein, March 24, 2016. A Florida woman who sued the federal government claiming that her privacy was invaded during investigations relating to Jill Kelleyformer CIA Director David Petraeus dropped her case Thursday, days after her lawyers said they would no longer represent her and days before a book she has written about the controversy is scheduled to be published. Attorneys for Jill Kelley (shown in a file photo) and the government announced the dismissal Thursday night in a filing with the U.S. District Court in Washington.

The filing gave no reason for the dismissal, but said each side would bear its own attorneys' fees. Kelley's self-published book, Collateral Damage: Petraeus/Power/Politics and the Abuse of Privacy [The Untold Story], is due out Monday.

March 23

Arizona Republic, Gov. Doug Ducey ripped election officials for their handling of hours-long lines during Tuesday's presidential preference election, saying the problems were "unacceptable," Mary Jo Pitzl and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, March 23, 2016. Anger in Arizona builds over long voter waits. Maricopa County voters woke up with an election hangover Wednesday morning, and it wasn't pretty. Complaints about waits in lines that topped five hours in some locations, a shortage of ballots and inadequate staffing at the county's 60 polling locations stoked anger and drew condemnation from Gov. Doug Ducey {a RArizona Gov. Doug Duceyepubilcan shown in a file photo], lawmakers and national groups. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton asked U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to launch an investigation into what he called "a fiasco."

A petition asking the Obama administration to order the U.S. Justice Department to investigate "voter fraud" in Tuesday's election was 73 percent toward its goal of 100,000 signatures by late Wednesday.  U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., urged people to contact his office with their complaints, which he said he will use to propose legislation to fix voting irregularities.

The chairman of the state House Elections Committee has set a 10 a.m. hearing for Monday to explore why Maricopa County provided only 60 polling places, leading to such long lines. And average voters — or would-be voters — took to social media to express their anger and dismay.

Barnett Lotstein, now retired from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, called the whole episode voter suppression. Count him and wife among the suppressed: They gave up on voting after driving to two polling places in Phoenix in late afternoon, where they were told to expect a three-hour wait.

That wouldn't work for Lotstein, 74, who has a heart condition. "I couldn't stand for three hours," he said. "I was deprived of my vote by the people who put this together. "If you make it hard to vote at the polls, that's voter suppression." Sure, he said, he could have asked for a mail-in ballot, but it's not for elections officials to tell him how to cast his ballot. Besides, he likes the whole in-person voting experience.

Louisiana broadcast host Dianne Andrews interviews Michael McCray, co-chair of the annual Whistleblower Summit on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC and an author, attorney and "The 40 Million Whistleblower"

Dianne Andrews In Black & White Talk Show, The Good, Bad and Ugly of Whistleblowing, Dianne Andrews interviews Michael McCray, March 23, 2016. As a civil rights lawyer and federal whistleblower, McCray became known as the “$40 Million Whistleblower” when he reported that sum in government waste, fraud and abuse at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Latter Michael became a judicial reform activist when he reported significant judicial misconduct against U.S. v. Microsoft U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson and the Ashcroft Justice Department. Michael’s judicial complaint contributed to Judge Jackson’s early retirement.  

McCray is the chairperson of the 3-5-7 Commission, a judicial reform association dedicated to exposing judicial misconduct through quantifiably and statistically verifiable methods, to ensure that American citizens receive fair hearings and tribunals as provided for in the U.S. Constitution and declared in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As co-chair of the International Association of Whistleblowers (IAW), a sponsoring organization for Washington Whistleblower Week. McCray is the author of Race, Power and Politics—Memoirs of an ACORN Whistleblower, in which he chronicles the rise and fall of the once venerable Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). He is also the host of The Fifth Estate, the only show about whistleblowers made by whistleblowers, which airs on the Pacifica Radio Network.

Washington Post, Trump, Clinton win delegate-rich Arizona, but falter in Utah, Idaho, Anne Gearan and Jenna Johnson, March 23, 2016. The front-runners in each party scored easy victories in Arizona, but Sen. Ted Cruz presidential buttonTed Cruz won all of Utah's Republican delegates. Sen. Bernie Sanders won two states, but reports suggest those victories may have done little to improve his standing in overall delegates. [Cruz also picked up the endorsement of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.]

WhoWhatWhy, Exclusive Interview: FEC Commissioner Calls Her Own Agency “Scandalous,” Jon Hecht, March 23, 2016. The FEC, America’s top election watchdog, is failing. The person who ran it in 2015 spoke with WhoWhatWhy about how hopeless the situation has become., The Rule-or-Ruin Republicans, Patrick J. Buchanan (shown below), March 23, 2016. Whatever one may think of Donald Trump, his campaign has done us a service — exposing the underbelly of a decaying establishment whose repudiation by America’s silent majority is long overdue. According to the New York Times, super PACs of Trump’s GOP rivals, including PACs of candidates who have dropped out, are raising and spending millions to destroy the probable nominee.

Patrick J. BuchananGoals of the anti-Trump conspirators: Manipulate the rules and steal the nomination at Cleveland. Failing that, pull out all the stops and torpedo any Trump-led ticket in the fall. Then blame Trump and his followers for the defeat, pick up the pieces, and posture as saviors of the party they betrayed.

Last week came reports on another closed conclave of the “Never Trump” cabal at the Army and Navy Club in D.C. Apparently, William Kristol circulated a memo detailing how to rob Trump of the nomination, even if he finishes first in states, votes, and delegates.

Should Trump win on the first ballot, Kristol’s fallback position is to create a third party and recruit a conservative to run as its nominee. Purpose: Have this rump party siphon off enough conservative votes to sink Trump and give the presidency to Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose policies are more congenial to the neocons and Kristol’s Weekly Standard. Among the candidates, Kristol is reportedly proposing are ex-Governor Rick Perry of Texas and former Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, both respected conservatives.

Kristol contends a third-party conservative candidate can win. He can’t be serious.

Gov. Robert Bentley delivers the 2015 State of the State Address, Tuesday, March 3, 2015, in the Old House Chamber of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery. (Governor’s Office, Jamie Martin)

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley delivers the 2015 State of the State Address, March 3, 2015, in the Old House Chamber of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery. (Photo: Governor’s Office, Jamie Martin)

Yellowhammer, Bentley addresses affair allegations: ‘I made a mistake,’ Cliff Sims, March 23, 2016. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley on Wednesday apologized for having an inappropriate relationship with his senior advisor Rebekah Mason, but denied that the affair had been physical. See also: 

New York Daily News, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley admits ‘inappropriate’ remarks to chief advisor but denies he had affair with her, Tobias Salinger, March 23, 2016. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley admitted Wednesday he made “inappropriate” comments to his chief advisor two years ago but denied he had an affair with her. Bentley said there was no “sexual activity” between him and Rebekah Caldwell Mason, 43, a longtime staffer, influential consultant and former Miss Alabama contender. The governor spoke at a news conference hours after the state’s fired former law enforcement director, Spencer Collier, said he investigated text messages and audio recordings “of a sexual nature” between the pair in 2014, reported. Rumors have surrounded Bentley and Mason for years., Who is Rebekah Caldwell Mason? Gov. Bentley's advisor paid $426,978 in 2014 election, Leada Gore, Sept. 3, 2015, updated March 23, 2016. Rebekah Caldwell Mason of Tuscaloosa grew up in Haleyville where she was known as "Becky" and was a high school majorette. Her career in broadcast journalism began after college, taking her to WAAY Huntsville, WDBB Tuscaloosa, WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham and WVUA Tuscaloosa. Mason later worked as news director and news anchor at Tuscaloosa's WDBB and WVUA.

In 1996, then-Rebekah Caldwell married fellow broadcast journalist Jon Mason. During that time, the couple opened a local ad agency in Tuscaloosa known as Caldwell Mason Marketing and JRM Enterprises Inc., which operated "Outdoor Boards" a national outdoor advertising agency. In 2011, Mason's husband joined her in Montgomery, as Gov. Bentley's director of the Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives. Jon Mason earned $91,000 in 2014, according to the Alabama Department of Finance.

National Enquirer, Shocking Claims: Pervy Ted Cruz Caught Cheating — With 5 Secret Mistresses! J.R. Taylor, March 23, 2016. The romps that could destroy his presidential campaign!
Presidential candidate Ted Cruz is trying to survive an explosive “dirt file” on the finger-wagging conservative senator! And the new issue of the National Enquirer — on newsstands now — reveals how the reports say the staunch Republican is hiding FIVE different mistresses! “Private detectives are digging into at least five affairs Ted Cruz supposedly had,” claimed a Washington insider.

March 22

Brussels Bombing Suspects


Washington Post, ISIS bombers kill dozens in heart of European Union, Griff Witte, Souad Mekhennet and Michael Birnbaum, March 22, 2016. Islamic State suicide bombers brought terror, chaos and bloodshed to the city at the heart of European unity on Tuesday, detonating their nail-spewing bombs at an airport departures hall and on a subway train in attacks that left at least 31 people dead and prompted authorities to launch an intensive manhunt for at least one suspected accomplice.

President Obama talks with President François Hollande of France and Charles Michel, Prime Minister of Belgium about the capture of Salah Abdeslam, sought for the Nov. 13, 2015 Paris attack, March 18, 2016 President Barack Obama talks on the phone in the Green Room of the White House with President François Hollande of France and Charles Michel, Prime Minister of Belgium, regarding the capture and arrest of Salah Abdeslam, a fugitive wanted in connection with the Nov. 13, 2015 Paris terror attack, March 18, 2016. Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, stands at right. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, with former Communications Director Rebekah Mason

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R), with chief advisor Rebekah Mason, whose governor-appointed husband leads the state's outreach to religious institutions (Photo: Harold Bearden), Gov. Robert Bentley had affair, says fired Alabama top cop, John Archibald, March 22, 2016. Video. Spencer Collier, head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency until he was fired today, said this afternoon he has seen and investigated text messages and audio recordings "of a sexual nature" between Gov. Robert Bentley and his chief advisor, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, 43, It is the first on-the-record confirmation of a long-rumored affair from someone claiming personal knowledge of what took place, though people close to the governor argue it is the last gasp of an angry man.

But Collier lays out times and dates. Collier, who was placed on medical leave by the governor last month, said he saw and heard evidence of the relationship in 2014 and approached the governor – who he considered a friend and father figure. He said the governor confirmed the relationship, but vowed to end it quickly. "It's a horrible, ugly episode and I am ashamed to have been around it," Collier said. "But I told him I would never lie for him."

Jennifer Ardis, the governor's spokeswoman, said the governor denied Collier's allegations. Attempts to reach Mason tonight were unsuccessful. The governor has denied an improper relationship since rumors began to fly in the Capitol last year.

Jerusalem Post, Sanders wins Democratics Abroad vote in Israel and worldwide, Laha Harkov, March 22, 2016.Sanders received 69 percent of the vote, as opposed to Hillary Clinton’s 31%.  Bernie Sanders, a Bernie Sanders Officialcandidate for the Democratic nomination for US president, overwhelmingly won Democrats Abroad’s Global Presidential Primary, according to a press release by the organization of registered Democrats living outside the US. Sanders received 69 percent of the vote, as opposed to Hillary Clinton’s 31%. In Israel, Sanders won with 249 votes to Clinton’s 160.

Democrats Abroad will be sending nine delegates to the Democratic National Convention to vote for Sanders and four for Clinton, as well as four unpledged delegate votes, three of whom are committed to Clinton and one to Sanders. The primary had an unprecedented turnout of 34,570 voters from 170 countries, 50% more than in 2008, who were able to vote in person, at 150 events or by mail, fax or e-mail attachment from March 1 to March 8. The Republican Party does not have a designated primary for expats.

Huffington Post, AIPAC Head Gives Emotional Apology For Donald Trump Attack On Obama, Jessica Schulberg, March 22, 2016. But the group was silent on Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims. Without identifying him by name, leadership from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Tuesday condemned Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump for his attack on President Barack Obama — and the audience members who rewarded the candidate with raucous applause.

Trump delivered an impromptu jab at the president Monday night during AIPAC’s annual policy conference. “With President Obama in his final year — yeah!” he began, pausing to allow audience members to clap, cheer, whistle and laugh for nearly 30 seconds. “He may be the worst thing to ever happen to Israel, believe me, believe me. And you know it and you know it better than anybody,” Trump continued, to more applause. The following morning, AIPAC president Lillian Pinkus denounced the episode, saying it ran counter to their conference theme of “Come together.”

As she continued to read, Pinkus began to choke up, visibly angered by Trump’s words, and by the applause they evoked. “There are people in our AIPAC family who were deeply hurt last night, and for that we are deeply sorry. We are disappointed that so many people applauded a sentiment that we neither agree with or condone,” she said.

Unz Review, Justice Is Blind: And also deaf, dumb and stupid in the Southern District of Manhattan, Philip Giraldi (shown in a file photo), March 22, 2016. There is easy money to be made in Manhattan. If you want some big bucks, Philip Giraldiyou can claim you have been wronged by a foreign country or a rich man who lives overseas. You can sue him in New York because the United States claims de facto jurisdiction over the entire world due to the fact that bank transactions and communications from just about everywhere go through the U.S.

Because of easy access to friendly judges, New York City is the vulture fund capital of the world. A vulture fund preys on countries or businesses that are in distress and likely to default or that have already defaulted. It buys up bonds on the secondary market for pennies on the dollar and later it sues for full face value of the bonds. Vulture funds are one of the ugliest faces of predatory capitalism.

Alex Jones Infowars Channel, Webster Tarpley Spouts Leftist Talking Points at Infowars Reporter, David Knight, March 22, 2016 (video). David Knight while covering AIPAC conference and analyzing the Hitlerian protest signs, runs into Webster Tarpley of the Tax Wall Street party. He and his cohorts proceed to yell at reporter David Knight and call him a GOP shill.

Independent, Downing Street raises the Belgian flag and we tweet for Brussels - but where was this sympathy after Ankara?  Yasmin Ahmed, March 22, 2016. Our indifference is fueling terrorist organisations like Isis. Yet again Europe has been shaken by the impact of a terrorist attack – and, once again, it has responded in a way that we have come to see as tragically routine. Why didn’t Downing Street raise the Turkish flag after the atrocities in Ankara?

March 21

Republican National Convention logoCampaign Roundup by Justice Integrity Project, Staff report, March 21. On MSNBC, former Republican Rules Committee Chairman Curly Haugland reiterated the wide powers of the party's still-unchosen Rules Committee to determine the rules for delegate eligibility in the party's presidential nomination process at its national convention in Cleveland in July. Haugland appeared to surprise host Lawrence O'Donnell, himself a highly experienced political insider, by outlining the wide discretion the committee has to declare ineligible delegates chosen, for example, in "open" primaries allowing independents or Democrats to vote, or those from winner-take-all states. Such discretion could in effect cripple the campaign of front-running contender Donald Trump but are congruent with Hoagland's comments six days previous on CNBC:

CNBC, We choose the nominee, not the voters: Senior GOP official, Matthew J. Belvedere, March 16, 2016.Political parties, not voters, choose their presidential nominees, a Republican convention rules member told CNBC, a day after GOP front-runner Donald Trump rolled up more big primary victories. "The media has created the perception that the voters choose the nomination. That's the conflict here," Curly Haugland, an unbound GOP delegate from North Dakota, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Wednesday. He even questioned why primaries and caucuses are held.

Haugland is one of 112 Republican delegates who are not required to cast their support for any one candidate because their states and territories don't hold primaries or caucuses. Even with Trump's huge projected delegate haul in four state primaries Tuesday, the odds are increasing the billionaire businessman may not ultimately get the 1,237 delegates needed to claim the GOP nomination before the convention. This could lead to a brokered convention, in which unbound delegates, like Haugland, could play a significant swing role on the first ballot to choose a nominee.

In other campaign news, four of the five remaining candidates from both parties spoke comforting words to woo some 20,000 delegates to the annual America-Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) policy conference at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. The exception was Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who sent regrets because of campaign rallies in Mountain West states scheduled for primary contents March 22. Sanders, ironically, has advanced farther in the presidential nomination process than any American in history of the Jewish faith.

Separately, Trump took the AIPAC conference so seriously that campaign reporters described his speech as the first of his campaign where he used a written speech and teleprompter. Earlier, he questioned the need for the United States to keep its current high profile support of NATO given the expense involved. 

  McClatchy News, Probe launched into Pentagon handling of NSA whistleblower evidence, Marisa Taylor, March 21, 2016. Office charged with protecting whistleblowers seeks Justice Department investigation; Case Thomas Drake Photo by Noel St. Johninvolves former NSA official Thomas Drake, who was prosecuted on charges of leaking information. Thomas Drake at National Press Club, photo by Noel St. John.

A federal watchdog has concluded that the Pentagon inspector general’s office may have improperly destroyed evidence during the high-profile leak prosecution of former National Security Agency official Thomas Drake.

The Office of Special Counsel, which is charged with protecting federal employees who provide information on government wrongdoing, said its review of the handling of the Drake case had determined that there is “substantial likelihood” that there had been “possible violations of laws, rules or regulations” in the destruction of the evidence. The counsel office’s review, which was made available to McClatchy, states the allegations had been “transmitted” to the Justice Department’s inspector general for further investigation and that the Justice Department had agreed to open a probe by June 1.

Liberty Blitzkrieg, Clinton Emails Reveal Google’s Role in Attempting to Oust Syria’s Assad, Michael Krieger, March 21, 2016. This sounds like a pretty huge deal, so you’d think the American media would be all over it. Not quite. In fact, the only story I’ve seen emanating from the U.S. press was published by the Washington Examiner.

Antimedia, Wikileaks Drops Hillary Email Bomb That Could End Her Campaign but FB Censored It, Michaela Whitton, March 21, 2016. On Wednesday, a major archive containing over 30,000 of Hillary Clinton’s emails were released. Though the State Department began releasing the emails in May last year — after a Freedom of Information Act request — it is the first time the messages have been made easily available in a searchable format, courtesy of WikiLeaks.

Before the launch, the FBI was investigating the Democratic candidate’s use of a private server during her tenure as Secretary of State. The archive contains over 7,000 emails written by Clinton herself. The scary, albeit fascinating exposé on who’s in bed with whom in the halls of global power has expanded to include Facebook, according to WikiLeaks. The organization has accused the social networking site of censorship, saying Facebook is blocking users’ access to the latest Clinton dispatch.

As a result of the outing, Twitter users are calling Clinton wicked, a thug, and a hypocrite. The released emails uncovered that the presidential frontrunner was instrumental in spreading chaos and extremism in Libya. They also revealed that she pushed for oil privatization in Mexico and forwarded emails claiming a Sunni-Shiite war would be good for Israel and the West. For those who are fascinated but don’t have the time or inclination to sift through more than 30,000 documents, here is a snapshot of what Clinton’s emails revealed.

OpEdNews, "Hillary Clinton never met a war she didn't like," commentator Michael Collins (shown in file photo) interviewed by Joan Brunwasser, March 21, 2016. The presidential primaries represent a choice between tragedy and Michael Collinsreal opportunity. A Republican tragedy is guaranteed through the impending nomination of Donald Trump. The man is never wrong, even when everybody knows the truth. The Trump tragedy is guaranteed, win or lose. If he wins, we face the possibility that he might actually get elected.

If he loses the nomination, the outcome will be just as tragic. That tragedy presumes the likely Clinton nomination. An imploded Republican party with either Republican loyalists or Trump supporters sitting on the sidelines guarantees a Clinton victory.

Let's look at the essence of her public record. She voted for the Iraq invasion, the very worst foreign policy decision imaginable and the cause of over a million deaths. She either knew or should have known that the Bush White House lacked any real evidence to support the invasion. More recently, as Secretary of State under President Barack Obama, Clinton was instrumental in formulating and implementing the programs to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and the legitimate President of Syria, Bashar Al-Assad. Not one of these nations posed an imminent threat to the security of the United States and she knew it.

The current totals for lives lost in Libya and Syria as a result of the Clinton-supported chaos and mayhem is 100,000 people in Libya and 250,000 people in Syria. She didn't kill anyone with her own hands but her aggressive policies to create civil wars to oust Gaddafi and Assad destroyed the societies of the two nations and got a lot of people killed and injured. Libya is a failed state now. Syria has 11,000,000 displaced people with its infrastructure destroyed. I don't know exactly how many wars you need to support to acquire the label 'war monger' but I am quite sure that war efforts with 350,000 dead in Libya and Syria meets the requirement.

Politico, Trump names foreign policy team members, Nick Gass, March 21, 2016. For the first time in his nine-month-old campaign, Donald Trump on Monday revealed the names of five of his foreign policy advisers in an editorial board meeting with The Washington Post, the paper reported. Those named by Trump include counterterrorism expert Walid Phares; Carter Page, a long-time energy industry consultant; Donald TrumpGeorge Papadopoulos ("an oil and energy consultant. Excellent guy"); Joe Schmitz, a former inspector general at the Defense Department and later an executive at Blackwater; retired Gen. Keith Kellogg, "and quite a few more," Trump told the editorial board at the meeting in downtown Washington, where he was accompanied by campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and spokeswoman Hope Hicks. [Note: Roll Call reported that three of the advisors said they have neither met nor spoken with Trump.]

Phares, a professor at National Defense University who appears regularly on Fox News to discuss matters of national security and terrorism, also advised Mitt Romney during the 2012 campaign. His inclusion on Romney's team drew fierce criticism after comments surfaced in which he warned about the influence of sharia law in the United States. 

Kellogg, currently a vice president at defense contractor Cubic, previously served as commander of the 82nd Airborne Division and as a security-focused deputy to L. Paul Bremer in Iraq. His final job in the military was as director of Command, Control, Communications and Computers for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Radio Sputnik, White House Mutiny? Syrian Peace Depends on Whether Kerry Answers to Obama, Brian Becker of “Loud and Clear” interviewed peace activist and former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, March 21, 2016 regarding John Kerry’s visit to Moscow this week (16 mins.). As John Kerry visits Moscow, Ray McGovern questions who controls foreign policy in Washington. What is the purpose of John Kerry’s Visit to Moscow? What is his mission? "His mission depends on who he is working for," opened McGovern, "I hope he is working for President Obama and not the neocons for who he has taken orders in the past."

McGovern explained that over two years ago the US almost edged into a military quagmire in Syria at the behest of Kerry, the primary cheerleader of a forceful ousting of Bashar al-Assad. "Kerry participated in the effort to mousetrap Obama into making outward war on Syria. On the 30th of August [2013] Kerry said, 35 times, that Bashar al-Assad’s government was responsible for the chemical attacks outside of Damascus." The truth of Kerry’s assertions was quickly called into question.

Peter Dale ScottWhoWhatWhy, Cuba: Operation Northwoods, the Forgotten Insanity, Peter Dale Scott (shown in a file photo, with an excerpt below from his book, American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan), March 21, 2016. As Cuba warmly welcomes President Obama, we think back to the secret, shameful things done in the past by the U.S. to ruin Castro. Here, we report on one of the more hair-raising schemes.

As we watch President Obama being warmly welcomed in Cuba, we think back to the secret, shameful things done in the past by the US to undermine Castro, not counting the various assassination attempts. This report lays bare one of the more hair-raising schemes.

Edward LansdaleOn March 13, 1962, the Joint Chiefs of Staff proposed to President John F. Kennedy that the United States attack itself — and blame Cuba. This is what is known as a “false flag” event. This proposal came at the request of the CIA’s Edward Lansdale, shown in a photo via Wikimedia, who was in charge of the anti-Castro project.

Washington Post, Police officer: Trump protesters were ‘the most hateful, evil people I’ve ever seen,’ Lindsey Bever, March 21, 2016. Brandon Tatum, an officer in the Tucson Police Department, went to a Trump rally on Saturday as a civilian to see what was going on. In a subsequent video, he said he thought there was going to be “a full-fledged riot” at the event — but not because of Trump’s supporters. The protesters were the problem, Tatum said. “I could not believe what I saw,” said Tatum, who is African American.

Stone Zone, Trump Must Beware The Trojan Horse Delegates, Roger Stone (shown in photo), March 21, 2016. A state party staffer from a large Northeastern state passed the entry codes for a conference call of five Roger StoneRepublican Chairmen from significant states this past Saturday. The topic on the table? Stopping Trump. I had to listen in.

These hard-boiled pols know the nomination will be decided not on the first ballot but in a series of procedural votes by the entire convention to adopt the rules of the convention as recommended by the Rules committee and the seating of the delegates as recommended by the Credentials Committee. Those key committees are made up by two members from each state. The bosses have been quietly planting establishment regulars in these spots.

Republican National Convention logoThe Trump camp has been inattentive to this process. The party Kingmakers may have the votes to knee-cap Trump in the rules and credentials Committees as they did Congressman Ron Paul in 2012.

Huffington Post, A Tale of Two Conventions and One Electoral College, Robert Kuttner (Co-founder and co-editor, 'The American Prospect'), March 21, 2016. If Trump is the nominee, the establishment Republicans will very likely mount a third party campaign. Conversely, if Trump has the most delegates and he is denied nomination, he will very likely run as an independent. So expect a three-way race, one way or the other.

CBS News, Russia gives U.S. new ultimatum in Syria cease-fire, Staff report, March 21, 2016. Russia on Monday warned the United States that it will start responding to cease-fire violations in Syria unilaterally starting Tuesday if the U.S. refuses to coordinate rules of engagement against the violators. The Russian military have accused the U.S. of dragging its feet on responding to Moscow's proposals on joint monitoring of a Syria cease-fire. A top Russian general said on the weekend that further delays are leading to civilian casualties, like in Aleppo where 67 civilians reportedly have been killed by militant fire since the truce started.

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) via Common Dreams, Reporting (or Not) the Ties Between US-Armed Syrian Rebels and Al Qaeda’s Affiliate, Gareth Porter, March 21, 2016. A crucial problem in news media coverage of the Syrian civil war has been how to characterize the relationship between the so-called “moderate” opposition forces armed by the CIA, on one hand, and the Al Qaeda franchise Al Nusra Front (and its close ally Ahrar al Sham), on the other. But it is a politically sensitive issue for US policy, which seeks to overthrow Syria’s government without seeming to make common cause with the movement responsible for 9/11, and the system of news production has worked effectively to prevent the news media from reporting it fully and accurately.

Politico, Supreme Court nominee Garland bows out of more cases, Josh Gerstein, March 21, 2016. Supreme Court nominee and D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Merrick Garland (shown in file photo) begged off at least nine Merrick Garlandmore court cases in recent days, signaling that he is suspending his work as chief judge on that court through at least mid-April. In recent years, Supreme Court nominees who are already judges have usually stopped hearing new cases after their nomination, though some have continued to issue opinions. Garland's nomination presents some potential wrinkles because Republicans have vowed to deny him a hearing or a vote, potentially leaving him in limbo through the end of the year.

March 20

Washington Post, Romney argues to vote for an open convention, Jennifer Rubin, March 20, 2016. Like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mitt Romney does his party and the country a service by a no-nonsense stance on Donald Trump. Romney does not bother touting Cruz. The salient point is that Cruz is not Trump and can stop Trump from getting to 1,237 delegates.

Romney does not insist Cruz must be the nominee; to the contrary Romney makes clear Cruz is a vehicle to an open convention. Romney does not humor Kasich, who persists with the canard that he can arise from the ashes of the convention as the nominee. As the winner of one primary and a fraction of the delegates others have accumulated lay claim to the nomination, Kasich cannot be the answer to a deadlocked convention, especially in a year in which the electorate has rebelled against political insiders just like the crew trying to foist Kasich on the GOP.

Washington Post, Va. Republicans take redistricting fight to the Supreme Court, Robert Barnes and Jenna Portnoy, March 20, 2016. Was a map redrawn to protect a black congressman’s seat or to keep others out? The Supreme Court will consider whether Virginia’s Republican lawmakers packed African American voters into Democratic Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott’s district to comply with the Voting Rights Act or to make surrounding districts more hospitable to white candidates.

Consortium News, An Ugly Smear Campaign, Robert Parry (shown in file photo), March 20, 2016. An ugly feature of life in modern Washington is that anyone who dares criticize Israel's treatment of the Palestinians can expect to be Robert Parrysubjected to nasty accusations of "anti-Semitism" and other attacks that are meant to make the target politically untouchable. For example, The New York Times published a full-page ad on Saturday paid for by a pro-Zionist group called The World Values Network featuring a grainy graphic of Sidney Blumenthal and his son Max Blumenthal along with a demand that "Hillary Clinton must disavow her anti-Israel advisors." The text accuses Sidney Blumenthal, Clinton's longtime personal friend and adviser, of sending the Secretary of State emails in which "he was obsessed with painting the Jewish state in the most unflattering light."

Strategic Culture Foundation, Soros Disruption: American-Style, Wayne Madsen (shown in file photo), March 20, 2016. Recently, Donald Trump campaign rallies have seen highly-coordinated and well-planned political demonstrations in Chicago, Cleveland, St. Louis, Dayton, and other cities. Such "rent-a-mob" actions are trademark signs of the involvement of George Soros and the "godfather" of political street violence, Gene Sharp, in disrupting the normal political process.

Soros and Sharp honed their street revolution tactics on the streets of Belgrade in the Bulldozer Revolution that overthrew Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic on October 5, 2000. Several veteran "agents provocateurs" of the Occupy Wall Street movement who are now part of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign have been enlisted by groups like Unbound Philanthropy, an immigrant rights group, to disrupt Trump rallies. Together with the Soros-financed group Black Lives Matter, these professional street hooligans have carefully, and in compliance with the Sharp model, staged their demonstrations to achieve maximum media coverage.

Unbound Philanthropy is funded by Obama's deep-pocketed friend and frequent vacation host in Hawaii, William Reeves, a former JP Morgan executive who now heads up BlueCrest Capital. In some cases, the political protesters masquerade as Trump supporters by wearing pro-Trump shirts and hats in order to gain access to Trump campaign venues. This methodology of disruption employs another Sharp tactic, that of using false identities. Many of the anti-Trump street actions are coordinated by, another group financed principally by Soros and the Hyatt Hotels’ Pritzker family of Chicago. One member of the Pritzker family, Penny Pritzker, serves as the Secretary of Commerce in the Obama administration.

A former Goldman Sachs executive named Muneer Satter retired from Goldman Sachs in 2012 [but] continues to serve as vice chairman of the Goldman Sachs Foundation. In 2012, the year that Satter retired from Goldman Sachs, the firm loaned more than $1 million to the Ted Cruz Texas US Senate campaign. Satter also happens to be close to both President Barack Obama and anti-Trump GOP operative Karl Rove. Satter has donated to both Obama and Rove's Crossroads political action committee. Satter was also the national finance co-chair of Mitt Romney's 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.

This year, Satter joined the Senator Marco Rubio campaign as Illinois Finance Committee co-chairman. Such background players, Heidi Cruz and her Goldman Sachs friend Satter, as well as Rove, Romney, Reeves, Soros, the Pritzkers are the actual movers and shakers behind America’s presidential election. Their jobs and those of other deep-pocketed political financiers like Paul Singer, Haim Saban, Sheldon Adelson, Michael Bloomberg, Sam Zell, and Norman Braman, are to ensure that no "unfiltered outsiders" ever become the President of the United States.

March 19

Google's Jared Cohen at West Point, Feb. 26,2014 (Eric Schmidt photo via Instagram)

Google's Jared Cohen at West Point, Feb. 26, 2014 (Eric Schmidt photo via Instagram)

Washington Examiner, Clinton email reveals: Google sought overthrow of Syria's Assad, Rudy Takala, March 19, 2016. Google in 2012 sought to help insurgents overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad (shown below), according to State Department emails receiving fresh scrutiny this week. Messages between former secretary of state Hillary Clinton's team and one of the company's executives detailed the plan for Google to get involved in the region.

"Please keep close hold, but my team is planning to launch a tool ... that will publicly track and map the defections in Syria and which parts of the government they are coming from," Jared Cohen, the head of what was then the company's "Google Ideas" division, wrote in a July 2012 email to several top Clinton officials.

"Our logic behind this is that while many people are tracking the atrocities, nobody is visually representing and mapping the defections, which we believe are important in encouraging more to defect and giving confidence to the opposition," Cohen said, adding that the plan was for Google to surreptitiously give the tool to Middle Eastern media. "Given how hard it is to get information into Syria right now, we are partnering with Al-Jazeera who will take primary ownership over the tool we have built, track the data, verify it, and broadcast it back into Syria," he said.

"Please keep this very close hold and let me know if there is anything [else] you think we need to account for or think about before we launch. We believe this can have an important impact," Cohen concluded.

The message was addressed to deputy secretary of state Bill Burns; Alec Ross, a senior Clinton advisor; and Clinton's deputy chief of staff, Jake Sullivan. Sullivan subsequently forwarded Cohen's proposal to Clinton, describing it as "a pretty cool idea."

Cohen worked as a low-level staffer at the State Department until 2010, when he was hired to lead Google Ideas, but was tied to the use of social media to incite social uprisings even before he left the department. He once reportedly asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to hold off of conducting system maintenance that officials believed could have impeded a brief 2009 uprising in Iran.

The unusual involvement by Google in foreign affairs highlights the difficulty of involvement in the internal politics of foreign states. While Cohen seemed to consider his company's effort as helpful to American interests, the effort to overthrow Assad helped spur the rise of the Islamic State, which eventually filled a vacuum resulting from Assad's loss of control over of Syria.

Sputnik via Global Research, Hillary Clinton’s Emails. A Sunni-Shiite War Would be Good for Israel and the West: Senior Israeli Intelligence Official, March 19, 2016. The intelligence service of Israel considers a Hillary Clintonpotential Sunni-Shiite war in Syria a favorable development for the country and the West, according to an email archive of former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, released by WikiLeaks.

The author of the email, forwarded by Clinton in July 2012, argued that Israel is convinced Iran would lose “its only ally” in the Middle East if the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad collapses. “The fall of the House of Assad could well ignite a sectarian war between the Shiites and the majority Sunnis of the region drawing in Iran, which, in the view of Israeli commanders would not be a bad thing for Israel and its Western allies,” an email stated.

In addition, the author underscored that a potential Sunni-Shiite war would delay the Iranian nuclear program.”In the opinion of this [Israeli intelligence] individual, such a scenario would distract and might obstruct Iran from its nuclear activities for a good deal of time,” the email said.

The Israeli intelligence also considered the possible Sunni-Shiite war as a factor that could contribute to the collapse of the government in Iran. “In addition, certain senior Israeli intelligence analysts believe that this turn of events may even prove to be a factor in the eventual fall of the current government of Iran,” the email said.

In March, WikiLeaks created a searchable archive for emails sent to and from Clinton’s private email server, while she served as the secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.  

Hillary Clinton and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt at Google headquarters at Mountain View, CA, July 21, 2014

Hillary Clinton and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt at Google headquarters at Mountain View, CA, July 21, 2014

Consortium News via OpEdNews, Will We Miss President Obama?  Robert Parry (shown in file photo), March 19, 2016. President Obama doesn't take on Official Washington's powerful neocons head-on, but he does drag his heels on some of their crazy schemes, which is better than America can expect from Hillary Clinton. From a "realist" perspective, there are plenty of reasons to criticize President Barack Obama's foreign policy, particularly Robert Parryhis timidity in facing down Official Washington's dominant neoconservatives and liberal interventionists on Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine and even Syria -- but he also has done more to steer the country away from additional military disasters than other establishment politicians would have.

That is especially true as the Democratic Party prepares to nominate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as its choice to replace Obama. Throughout her public life, Clinton has demonstrated a pedestrian understanding of foreign policy and has consistently bowed to neocon/liberal-hawk orthodoxy, seeming to learn nothing from the Iraq War and other failures of military interventions.

In a recent interview with MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Clinton scolded him for "conflating" her support for the catastrophic "regime change" war in Iraq with her insistence on the disastrous "regime change" war in Libya. In effect, she was saying that just because both decisions led to significant loss of life, failed states and terrorist control of large swaths of territory, the wars shouldn't be viewed as her failure to apply the lessons of Iraq to a similar situation in Libya. No "conflating" allowed.

By contrast, at several key moments, Obama has risen to the occasion, challenging some of the most dangerous "group thinks" of the foreign policy establishment, such as when he resisted the rush to judgment blaming Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack outside Damascus. Obama rejected neocon/liberal-hawk demands for a punitive military assault on Assad's troops for supposedly crossing Obama's "red line."

Obama was told by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper that the U.S. intelligence community lacked "slam dunk" evidence confirming Assad's guilt, with Clapper choosing the phrase "slam dunk" to remind Obama of CIA Director George Tenet's "slam dunk" assurance to President George W. Bush that the intelligence community could back up his claims about Iraq's WMD, which, of course, turned out not to exist.

In other words, Clapper told Obama that the U.S. intelligence community didn't know who had carried out the sarin attack -- and subsequent evidence has pointed to a "false-flag" operation by rebel jihadists -- but the Smart People of Washington all wanted to launch a military strike anyway. It doesn't even matter to them that we now know that Obama's destruction of Assad's military could have opened the gates of Damascus to the forces of Al Qaeda's Nusra Front and/or the Islamic State.

OpEdNews, Is There a US-Russia Grand Bargain in Syria? Pepe Escobar (shown in file photo), March 19, 2016. In Syria, Moscow accomplished the outstanding feat of making Team Obama see the light beyond the fog of neo-con-Pepe Escobarinstilled war, leading to a solution involving Syria's chemical arsenal after Obama ensnared himself in his own red line. Obama owes it to Putin and Lavrov, who literally saved him not only from tremendous embarrassment but from yet another massive Middle East quagmire.

It's spy thriller stuff; no one is talking. But there are indications Russia would not announce a partial withdrawal from Syria right before the Geneva negotiations ramp up unless a grand bargain with Washington had been struck.

Some sort of bargain is in play, of which we still don't know the details; that's what the CIA itself is basically saying through their multiple US Think Tankland mouthpieces. And that's the real meaning hidden under a carefully timed Barack Obama interview that, although inviting suspension of disbelief, reads like a major policy change document.

Obama invests in proverbial whitewashing, now admitting US intel did not specifically identify the Bashar al-Assad government as responsible for the Ghouta chemical attack. And then there are nuggets, such as Ukraine seen as not a vital interest of the US -- something that clashes head on with the Brzezinski doctrine. Or Saudi Arabia as freeloaders of US foreign policy -- something that provoked a fierce response from former Osama bin Laden pal and Saudi intel supremo Prince Turki.

Tradeoffs seem to be imminent. And that would imply a power shift has taken place above Obama -- who is essentially a messenger, a paperboy. Still that does not mean that the bellicose agendas of both the Pentagon and the CIA are now contained.

Russian intel cannot possibly trust a US administration infested with warmongering neocon cells. Moreover, the Brzezinski doctrine has failed -- but it's not dead. Part of the Brzezinski plan was to flood oil markets with shut-in capacity in OPEC to destroy Russia.

March 18

Signs of the Times, Puppet Masters: Wikileaks 2012 Killary email: Secure Israeli hegemony, destroy Syria, Brandon Martinez, March 19, 2016. Hilary Clinton candidly outlined US plans to overthrow Assad as a prelude to weakening Iran in a 2012 email released by Wikileaks. Clinton argued that this criminal policy of regime change in Syria was being pursued in large part to help Israel isolate Iran and thereby weaken Tel Aviv's other regional foes like Hezbollah and Hamas by strategically cutting them off "from [their] Iranian sponsor since Syria would no longer be a transit point for Iranian training, assistance and missiles."

Clinton noted that the operation in Syria was in part designed to curtail Iran's nuclear program so that Israel could maintain its "nuclear monopoly" and thereby continue to dominate the region militarily. "The best way to help Israel deal with Iran's growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad," Clinton wrote in the email. She further pontificated.

Flag of TurkeyWashington Post, E.U. strikes deal to send nearly all new migrants to Turkey, Anthony Faiola, March 18, 2016. To shut down a massive route for illegal immigration, Turkey would essentially become a migrant holding center in exchange for up to $6.6 billion in cash and other incentives, including jump-starting talks about its bid for E.U. membership.

National Press Club, FOIA at 50: Experts reflect on a vital but flawed transparency tool, Sean Lyngaas, March 17, 2016. The Freedom of Information Act is both indispensable and falling short of its promised intent, transparency experts said at a National Press Club panel on March 16. Backlogs and broad use of exemptions are evidence the government’s handling of FOIA requests is “progressively getting worse,” said Jason Leopold, senior investigative reporter at Vice News. Yet despite all of the flaws in FOIA’s implementation, the law is still a “hugely important tool."

It has been half a century since the signing of FOIA gave the public a means of shedding light on government’s inner workings, and panelists agreed that the FOIA process needs reforming. “I don’t think you can underestimate the power of bureaucracy” in impeding openness, “and it transcends any administration,” said Michael Doyle, a legal affairs correspondent at McClatchy Newspapers.

The number of annual FOIA requests grew from about 597,000 in fiscal 2010 to about 713,000 in fiscal 2015, according to Justice Department data; the panelists generally agreed that federal agencies have struggled to cope with this swell in requests.

David Sobel, senior counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said there is a perverse incentive for agencies to drag their feet on FOIA requests. Agencies that process requests more quickly are likely to get more requests, he said.

New York Times, No, Not Trump, Not Ever, David Brooks, March 19, 2016. The voters have spoken. In convincing fashion, Republican voters seem to be selecting Donald Trump as their nominee. Well, some respect is in order. Donald Trump Gage Skidmore photoTrump voters are a coalition of the dispossessed. They have suffered lost jobs, lost wages, lost dreams. The American system is not working for them, so naturally they are looking for something else. Moreover, many in the media, especially me, did not understand how they would express their alienation

[But] Republicans who coalesce around Trump are making a political error. They are selling their integrity for a candidate who will probably lose. About 60 percent of Americans disapprove of him, and that number has been steady since he began his campaign. Donald Trump (shown in a Gage Skidmore photo) is an affront to basic standards of honesty, virtue and citizenship. He pollutes the atmosphere in which our children are raised. He has already shredded the unspoken rules of political civility that make conversation possible. In his savage regime, public life is just a dog-eat-dog war of all against all.

Ann WrightOpEdNews, Thirteen Years Ago Resigning Due to President Bush's War on Iraq, Ann Wright (shown at right in a photo), March 19, 2003. Thirteen years ago tonight (March 18, 2003), I was freezing in sub-zero degree weather in Mongolia trying to decide whether I should give up my life in the U.S. diplomatic corps and resign in opposition to President Bush's War on Iraq. The next day, March 19, 2003, at the U.S. Embassy in Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia, I sent my cable/letter of resignation to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

In my letter of resignation I wrote of my concern that a war against the Saddam regime would destabilize the Middle East and would create outrage and anger in the youth of the region, anger that would come back onto the United States that we are now seeing played out in Iraq and Syria with international youth joining youth of the region.

"Much of the world considers our statements about Iraq as arrogant, untruthful and masking a hidden agenda. Leaders of moderate Moslem/Arab countries warn us about predictable outrage and anger of the youth of their countries if America enters an Arab country with the purpose of attacking Muslims/Arabs, not defending them."

National Press Club, Panel explores how media brands work to define social presence, Julia Haskins, March 18, 2016. Now that social media is a key facet of most media outlets’ digital strategy, it’s up to journalists to understand how best to utilize it, panelists said at a National Press Club digital event March 16. While social media serves as a tool for journalism, it’s only one part of the equation, according to Margarita Noriega, director of social media at Newsweek. “Social media isn’t just a tool, it’s not just a medium, and it’s not just a product. It’s always been all three,” she said.

As a senior correspondent at The Daily Beast, Shane Harris relies on social media for investigative journalism. He talked about how he uses social media to get scoops, connect with sources and keep a finger on the pulse of trending topics. “I saw the emergence of social media from nothing into what we have now and I really try to relate to it like a tool,” Harris said. For him, that means using Facebook to stay on top of mass shootings or combing through LinkedIn for sources who can speak about cyber warfare.

Observer, Hillary Has an NSA Problem, John R. Schindler, March 18, 2016. The FBI has been investigating Clinton for months — but an even more secretive Federal agency has its own important beef with her. Hillary ClintonFor a year now, Hillary Clinton’s misuse of email during her tenure as secretary of state has hung like a dark cloud over her presidential campaign. Specifically, the Federal Bureau of Investigation examination of email-gate, pursuant to provisions of the Espionage Act, poses a major threat to Ms. Clinton’s presidential aspirations. However, even if the FBI recommends prosecution of her or members of her inner circle for mishandling of classified information — which is something the politically unconnected routinely do face prosecution for — it’s by no means certain that the Department of Justice will follow the FBI’s lead. What the DoJ decides to do with email-gate is ultimately a question of politics as much as justice.

The FBI isn’t the only powerful federal agency that Hillary Clinton needs to worry about as she plots her path to the White House between scandals and leaks. For years, she has been on the bad side of the National Security Agency, America’s most important intelligence agency, as revealed by just-released State Department documents obtained by Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act.

The documents, though redacted, detail a bureaucratic showdown between Ms. Clinton and NSA at the outset of her tenure at Foggy Bottom. The new secretary of state, who had gotten “hooked” on her Blackberry during her failed 2008 presidential bid, according to a top State Department security official, wanted to use that Blackberry anywhere she went.

Politico, FOIA suit seeks records on Petraeus investigation, Josh Gerstein, March 18, 2016. A newly-filed Freedom of Information Act lawsuit is demanding that the federal government fork over records from the David Petraeusinvestigations that led to former Central Intelligence Agency director Gen. David Petraeus' guilty plea last year to a charge of mishandling classified information. The suit , filed Friday in federal court in Washington by Daily Beast reporter Shane Harris and a pro-transparency organization, the James Madison Project, seeks information from three federal agencies — the Justice Department, the Defense Department and the CIA.

David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell, NBC_TVPetraeus pleaded guilty in February 2015 to a single misdemeanor count of mishandling classified information by retaining notebooks containing highly classified information at his home without permission and sharing some of those materials with his biographer and paramour, Paula Broadwell (shown with him at right). She was an officer in the Army reserve, but was not officially authorized to receive the classified materials. A federal judge in North Carolina sentenced Petraeus to two years probation and a $100,000 fine.

Harris and the transparency group filed a series of FOIA requests last month seeking details on various inquiries the FBI, the CIA and the Pentagon pursued beginning in 2012 after a Florida woman, Jill Kelley, reported to the FBI that she had received messages from someone who appeared to be familiar with her movements as well as those of top military officers and Petraeus. The ensuing probes reportedly established that the messages came from Broadwell and that Petraeus, who is married, had an affair with her. Petraeus resigned shortly after the November 2012 elections, citing errors in judgment on his part. No charges were ever filed against Broadwell. The probes now appear to be closed.

In 2013, Kelley sued the U.S. government under the Privacy Act, arguing that officials at the Pentagon and/or the FBI leaked to the press personal information about her, including contents of her email account. That case remains pending in federal court in Washington. Among the records sought in the FOIA lawsuit are details on any damage assessments carried out in the probes, as well as details on any administrative actions against Petraeus, which could include suspending or revoking his security clearance. The new FOIA case was filed on the same day the House Benghazi Committee announced that Petraeus is scheduled to testify privately before that panel on Saturday. It will be Petraeus's second round of testimony there. A lawyer for Petraeus, David Kendall, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the new suit.

Politico, Lawyers bail on Florida woman in Petraeus saga, Josh Gerstein, March 18, 2016. The lawyers for a Florida woman who claims her privacy was invaded during federal investigations into former Central Jill KelleyIntelligence Agency director David Petraeus are seeking to drop out of her lawsuit against the government, new court filings show. Jill Kelley (shown in a file photo) filed the Privacy Act suit in 2013, charging that the FBI and Pentagon leaked personal information about her — including messages from her personal email account — after she triggered federal probes that led investigators to uncover Petraeus' extramarital affair with biographer Paula Broadwell. The inquiries also set in motion Petraeus' resignation in November 2012 and his guilty plea last February to a charge of mishandling classified information.

Kelley and her husband Dr. Scott Kelley retained a leading privacy attorney, Alan Raul of Chicago-based law firm Sidley Austin, to bring the high-profile suit against the federal government. However, in a court motion filed under seal Wednesday and partially released Friday, Raul and other Sidley lawyers asked U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson to excuse them from the case.

Washington Post, Mitt Romney urges voters to choose Cruz in Utah and ‘future contests,’ with an eye on delegates, David Weigel, March 18, 2016. While Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) headed to the second of three long-scheduled town halls in Utah, Mitt Romney announced that he'd be voting for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) in this coming Tuesday's caucuses. The call for an open convention by the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 GOP nominee contradicted messages that Kasich and Cruz were pressing as they campaigned ahead in Tuesday's Western contests.

Mitt RomneyCruz would need to win around 78 percent of the delegates available in coming primaries to win the nomination outright. Nonetheless, he claims that a delegate win, not an open convention, is his goal. Utah, where Kasich has several key endorsements, is seen as the sort of place where he can only hurt Cruz. The Beehive State holds binding "winner-take-most" caucuses, where any candidate who wins more than 50 percent of the vote grabs all 40 available delegates. If no candidate reaches a majority, the delegates are distributed proportionately.

Telesur, How Hillary Clinton Lied Her Way to War in Libya, Mohamed Hemish, March 18, 2016. Declassified emails released in January and February reveal that Hillary Clinton was one of the main instruments in Huma Abedin October-2010-flickrspreading chaos and extremism in Libya when the U.S. secretary of state personally pushed for the ousting of late Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi. Hillary Clinton played an integral role in the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi and the destruction of the Libyan nation. Clinton’s emails reveal that she and her staff were aware that civilians they claimed to be protecting were not actually in danger from government forces.

Less than a month ahead of the passage of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, a resolution which authorized a no-fly zone to protect civilians on March 17, 2011, Hillary's assistant, Huma Abedin (shown in a photo), in an email dated Feb. 21, 2011, stated: “Based on numerous eyewitness reports, it is the Embassy's assessment that the government no longer controls Benghazi. This is likely the case for Ajdabiyah as well."

Crucially, this email was written at a time when Clinton was aware that no government crackdown was taking place in either Benghazi or Ajdabiyah.

Yes! Magazine, More Confessions of an Economic Hit Man: This Time, They’re Coming for Your Democracy, Sarah van Gelder, March 18, 2016. Twelve years ago, John Perkins (shown in a file photo) published his book, Confessions of John Perkinsan Economic Hit Man, and it rapidly rose up The New York Times’ best-seller list. In it, Perkins describes his career convincing heads of state to adopt economic policies that impoverished their countries and undermined democratic institutions. These policies helped to enrich tiny, local elite groups while padding the pockets of U.S.-based transnational corporations.

Perkins was recruited, he says, by the National Security Agency (NSA), but he worked for a private consulting company. His job as an undertrained, overpaid economist was to generate reports that justified lucrative contracts for U.S. corporations, while plunging vulnerable nations into debt. Countries that didn’t cooperate saw the screws tightened on their economies. In Chile, for example, President Richard Nixon famously called on the CIA to “make the economy scream” to undermine the prospects of the democratically elected president, Salvador Allende.

If economic pressure and threats didn’t work, Perkins says, the jackals were called to either overthrow or assassinate the noncompliant heads of state. That is, indeed, what happened to Allende, with the backing of the CIA. Perkins’ book has been controversial, and some have disputed some of his claims, including, for example, that the NSA was involved in activities beyond code making and breaking.

Perkins has just reissued his book with major updates. The basic premise of the book remains the same, but the update shows how the economic hit man approach has evolved in the last 12 years. Among other things, U.S. cities are now on the target list. The combination of debt, enforced austerity, underinvestment, privatization, and the undermining of democratically elected governments is now happening here. I couldn’t help but think about Flint, Michigan, under emergency management as I read The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. (Interview shown below.)

March 17

Washington Post, 35 years after serial killer’s trial, a witness accuses the prosecutor — who became a D.C. federal judge — of rape, Michael E. Miller, March 17, 2016. On the evening of Aug. 20, 1980, four Richard Robertsyouths went running in Liberty Park, a grassy expanse at the heart of Salt Lake City. After a while, 15-year-old Terry Elrod and her close friend Karma Ingersoll fell behind their two older male friends, Ted Fields and David Martin. As they crossed an intersection, gunshots suddenly cracked over the quiet park. Both men died.

Elrod was struck in the arm by shrapnel but survived. A year later, she took the stand to testify against the man responsible for the double slayings: Joseph Paul Franklin.  Franklin was a white supremacist who had terrified the nation with a string of bombings and sniper shootings. He would eventually admit to more than 20 murders, mostly of African Americans like Martin and Fields. He would also admit to shooting Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, for showing interracial sex, and civil rights activist Vernon Jordan, Jr., who would survive to become one of Washington’s most prominent lawyers.

On the stand in Sept. 1981, Elrod was questioned by a young, handsome prosecutor named Richard Warren Roberts. As an up-and-coming civil rights attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, Roberts was one of two attorneys in charge of the federal case against Franklin. In a stunning lawsuit filed Wednesday in a Utah federal court, Mitchell claims that Roberts repeatedly raped her during the trial 35 years ago.

The lawsuit, first reported by the Salt Lake Tribune, alleges that the then 27-year-old attorney raped and abused his then 16-year-old witness before and during the two-week trial.

“Roberts exploited the psychological and emotional vulnerabilities of sixteen-year-old Mitchell who, as Defendant Roberts well knew, had experienced a lifetime of sexual abuse, grooming, violence, and rape, including a violent, four-hour-long rape just six months earlier, the murder of her two friends as they walked beside her just five months earlier, and tremendous trauma and physical and emotional isolation,” according to the lawsuit.

BBC, Yemen conflict: Saudi Arabia to 'scale back' military operations, Staff report, March 17, 2016. Saudi Arabia has said its military coalition will scale back operations against rebels in Yemen. The US-backed Saudi Arabian flagcoalition of mostly Arab states began air strikes a year ago in support of Yemen's internationally recognized government. A Saudi military spokesman (whose country's flag is shown at right) said that the coalition would continue to provide air support to Yemeni forces. The announcement came as the death toll from a strike on a market this week doubled to more than 100.

In January, a UN panel found that coalition air strikes had targeted civilians in Yemen and assessed that some attacks might constitute crimes against humanity. The Houthi rebels are fighting forces loyal to exiled President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. The fighting has killed more than 6,200 people, displaced millions and pushed the Arab world's poorest country to the brink of famine.

Madcow News, Donald Trump, Dirty Money, & the Filthy Rich in Palm Beach, Daniel Hopsicker March 17, 2016. When asked to describe what they like most about Donald Trump, supporters usually say “He’s been doing it all without dirty money.” They mean his campaign is self-funded, and takes no money from lobbyists, special interests, and Republican Party kingmakers.

But what if Trump’s own money is dirty? Could a sizable chunk of Trump’s net worth come from selling real estate to drug lords, mobsters, and international financial criminals?

The answer is: There’s no way to tell. Secrecy hides the identity of the crooked, violent and corrupt who invest cash in U.S. real estate through shell companies registered in Delaware, managed by a bank in the Grand Caymans for a trust in Guernsey. And its all perfectly legal. Even Swiss banks these days have to know who their customers are. Not American real estate developers. There’s no legal requirement whatsoever that U.S. real-estate developer Donald Trump know who his clients are. Probably, he couldn’t care less. Or even worse, he’d rather not know.

March 16

Washington Post, Obama picks Garland for Supreme Court, Juliet Eilperin, Mike DeBonis and Jerry Markon, March 16, 2016. While introducing the federal judge during a speech in the Rose Garden, Obama urged Merrick Garlandthe Senate to take up the nomination, saying that lawmakers should treat the process “with the seriousness and care it deserves.” President Obama on Wednesday nominated Merrick Garland to serve on the Supreme Court, setting up a protracted political fight with Republicans who have vowed to block any candidate picked by Obama in his final year in office. Garland, 63, is a longtime Washington lawyer and jurist who is chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Considered a moderate, Garland is widely respected in the D.C. legal community and was also a finalist for the first two Supreme Court vacancies Obama filled. In announcing his choice in the White House Rose Garden, Obama said he followed “a rigorous and comprehensive process” and that he reached out to members of both parties, legal associations and advocacy groups to gauge opinions from “across the spectrum.”

He said Garland “is widely recognized not only as one of America’s sharpest legal minds, but someone who brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, even-handedness and excellence.” contests,” he said.

Garland is a Chicago native who graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. After becoming a partner at the law firm Arnold & Porter, he joined the Justice Department, where he handled the drug investigation of then-D.C. Mayor Marion Barry as an assistant U.S. attorney in the District.

Wikipedia: Merrick Garland. Merrick Brian Garland (born November 13, 1952) is an American federal judge who is the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He has served on that court since 1997.

A native of the Chicago area, Garland graduated summa cum laude as valedictorian from Harvard College and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. After serving as a law clerk to Judge Henry J. Friendly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. of the Supreme Court of the United States, he practiced corporate litigation at Arnold & Porter and worked as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice, where he played a leading role in the investigation and prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombers.

In 1995, Garland was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and (following a delay in Senate confirmation) took the bench in 1997. While serving on the D.C. Circuit, Garland has developed a reputation for brilliance as well as a centrist judicial philosophy. In 2009 and 2010, Garland was considered by President Barack Obama for two openings on the Supreme Court. On March 16, 2016, Obama nominated Garland to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, to fill the vacancy created by the death of Antonin Scalia.

President Obama with Senate leaders March 1, 2016

President Barack Obama talks with, from left, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., at the conclusion of a meeting with the leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Oval Office, March 1, 2016. The President, with Vice President Joe Biden, met with the committee members, including Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to discuss topics including the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, opioid legislation and criminal justice reform. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)

Washington Post, Obama’s move on Supreme Court sets up battle with GOP, Juliet Eilperin and Mike DeBonis, March 16, 2016. The president’s choice of appellate judge Merrick Garland does not fit into a category that is likely to mobilize Democratic voters, but Obama decided that it would be difficult for Senate Republicans to deny a hearing and vote for a man who has won effusive bipartisan accolades.

Washington Post, Chief judge of the District’s federal court retires as lawsuit accuses him of sexual assault, Ann E. Marimow, March 16, 2016. The chief judge of the District’s federal court retired Wednesday, Richard Robertsciting unspecified health issues that he said prevented him from continuing to serve on the bench. Chief Judge Richard W. Roberts’s early retirement came on the same day that a Utah woman filed a federal civil rights lawsuit accusing him of sexually assaulting her decades ago when she was a 16-year-old eyewitness in a high-profile murder case that Roberts was prosecuting.

Roberts, 63 (shown in an official photo), declined to comment on his retirement or the lawsuit, but his attorneys called the allegations “categorically false” and said Roberts intends to “vigorously challenge” the allegations in court. His lawyers said the judge, who was unmarried at the time, had an intimate, consensual relationship with the woman that did not take place until after the end of the trial in which she testified.

New York Times, Election Takeaways: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Roll On, at Different Speeds, Alexander Burns, March 16, 2016. Tuesday’s elections, with more than 14 million votes cast in five states, Hillary Clintonmarked the more-than-halfway point in both parties’ presidential primary campaigns. Democrats and Republicans can now confidently predict which candidates will have the most delegates at their conventions in July: Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton each hold large and growing delegate leads. It would take an upset of staggering proportions for a rival to pull ahead of either one by the time the primaries end in June.

But the two front-runners are not on equal footing. Mrs. Clinton has assembled a formidable majority coalition within the Democratic Party that has resisted Senator Bernie Sanders’s appeals.

Mr. Trump has achieved something less than that. He has locked down a large plurality of voters on the right, but not enough to guarantee that he will win a majority of Republican convention delegates. And his position appears to be weakening.

Trump is bleeding. Clinton is in command.

Washington Post, Delegates may be pledged to Trump, but that doesn’t mean they’re loyal, Karen Tumulty and Jose A. DelReal, March 16, 2016. GOP convention delegates obligated to vote for one candidate on the first ballot could actually turn out to be sleeper cells for another as the voting proceeds. The obscure process of picking who actually gets to fill that role faces scrutiny that has not been felt in decades.

Reuters, Russia flies out almost half Syria strike force: Reuters analysis, Andrew Osborn, March 16, 2016. Just under half of Russia's fixed-wing strike force based in Syria has flown out of the country in the past two days, according to a Reuters calculation which suggests the Kremlin is accelerating its partial withdrawal. President Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered the bulk of the Russian military contingent in Syria to be pulled out after five months of air strikes, saying the Kremlin had achieved most of its objectives. The precise number of planes Russia kept at its Hmeymim base in Syria's Latakia province is secret. But analysis of satellite imagery, air strikes and defense ministry statements suggested it had about 36 fixed-wing military jets there. They carried out 75-80 percent of the more than 9,000 sorties flown by Russian pilots, said Maksim Shepovalenko, a former Russian military officer who is now deputy director of the Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST).

Russian television has shown four Su-25 and five Su-24 jets leaving in the past two days. Russia is thought by defense analysts to have had 12 of each in Syria. Five Su-34s, and one Su-30 have also been seen leaving.

Reuters, Kurdish moves on federalism cloud Syria peace drive, Rodi Said and Stephanie Nebehay, March 16, 2016. Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria are expected to declare a federal system on Thursday, a move likely to further complicate peace talks in Geneva aimed at ending more than five years of war.

Recep Erdogan

Independent, President Erdogan wants to change definition of ‘terrorist’ to include journalists and politicians, Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith, March 16, 2016. Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan (above) has claimed the definition of a terrorist should be changed to include their "supporters" -- such as MPs, civil activists and journalists. It comes after three academics were arrested on charges of terrorist propaganda after publicly reading out a declaration that reiterated a call to end security operations in the south-east of Turkey, a predominantly Kurdish area.

Mr. Erdogan has said the academics will pay a price for their “treachery.” A British national was also detained on Tuesday despite having ordered the arrests after he was found with pamphlets printed by the Kurdish linked People’s Democratic Party (HDP). “It is not only the person who pulls the trigger, but those who made that possible who should also be defined as terrorists, regardless of their title,” President Erdogan said on Monday, adding that this could be a journalist, an MP or a civil activist.

Daily Caller via The Stone Zone, Who is the real Heidi Nelson Cruz? Roger Stone, March 16, 2016. Watching any Ted Cruz political advertisement featuring his wife and two young daughters, we could easily get the impression that Heidi Nelson Cruz, like Nancy Reagan, is a devoted wife dedicated to making sure she and her husband occupy the White House. Yet, investigating more deeply, Ted and Heidi Cruz have had a sometimes troubled relationship punctuated by bouts of physical separation that began when two young Christians on the fringe of protestant evangelicalism met while working on the Bush-Cheney 2000 presidential campaign.

Lee Goodman FEC 2014 Gage Skidmore photo via Flickr

Former Federal Elections Commission Chairman Lee E. Goodman, a current FEC Republican member, speaking at the 2014 Liberty Political Action Conference. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr.

WhoWhatWhy, The Nation’s Official Election Watchdog Is Self-Destructing, Jon Hecht, March 16, 2016. In an exclusive interview, Federal Elections Commissioner Ann Ravel tells WhoWhatWhy that her agency’s dysfunction is the result of Republican appointees who have little interest in enforcing the nation’s campaign finance laws.

March 15

WhoWhatWhy, Release of Tsarnaev’s Interrogation Notes Leads to More Questions, James Henry, March 15, 2016. A close look at Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s just-released interrogation notes casts doubt on some of Dzhokhar Tsaraevthe facts of the case as presented by the government. Heavily redacted notes from the hospital bed interrogation of Tsarnaev (shown in a file photo) were released at the end of February. Most media reports about the documents focus on portions that portray Dzhokhar as having played an active role in building and detonating the bombs that exploded on Boylston St. But a closer read of the FBI’s summary of Tsarnaev’s statements to his interrogators raises questions about key details of the bombing and its execution.

New York Times, Kasich Captures Ohio, Keeping Hopes Alive, Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, March 15, 2016. Donald J. Trump routed Marco Rubio in Florida and won three other states giving Mr. Trump a Donald Trump Gage Skidmore photo CPAC conventiondelegate advantage that will be very difficult to overcome. Trump (shown in a file photo by Gage Skidmore) won in Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and narrowly won Missouri, where his projected delegate totals greatly exceeded those of second place finisher Ted Cruz, who won no states.

In the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton swept all five states as she won in Ohio, Florida, Illinois and North Carolina, and edged ahead of Bernie Sanders in Missouri.

Note: CNN predicted that Trump won 178 new delegates compared to just 5 for Rubio in the day's voting. In the Democratic contest, the prediction as of early Wednesday was that Clinton picked up 297 new delegates compared to 194 for Sanders.

New York Times, Marco Rubio Suspends His Presidential Campaign, Jeremy W. Peters, March 15, 2016. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who ran for president offering his youthful Marco Rubio Fox Newsoptimism and Cuban-American heritage as the embodiment of a new and more diverse generation of Republican leadership, but ultimately failed to galvanize voters in a much darker mood, said on Tuesday that he was suspending his presidential campaign. Mr. Rubio (shown in a file photo) made the announcement during a speech at his campaign headquarters in Miami after losing his home state by a large margin to Donald J. Trump. Mr. Rubio hushed the boos from the audience when he congratulated Mr. Trump.

Note: Nearly all of Rubio's approximately 160 pledged delegates could be available for other candidates at the GOP convention according to state rules, said GOP elections lawyer Ben Ginsberg, speaking on MSNBC.

WhoWhatWhy, The Tortured Logic Behind Sirhan Sirhan’s Parole Denial, Shane O'Sullivan, March 14, 2016. Shane O’Sullivan is an author, filmmaker and researcher at Kingston University, London. His work includes the documentary RFK Must Die (2007) and the book Who Killed Bobby? (2008). Newly Released Transcript Exposes Tragic Flaws in Parole Sirhan SirhanProcess.

In the newly released transcript of Sirhan Sirhan’s parole hearing on February 10, we discover why — at nearly 72 years of age — the convicted murderer of Bobby Kennedy “continues to pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society or a threat to public safety and is therefore not suitable for parole.”

Since its landmark opinion in the Lawrence case in 2008, the California Supreme Court has required the parole board to provide “some evidence” that a prisoner is “currently dangerous” when denying parole. This, and pressure to reduce prison overcrowding, has seen parole grant rates for “lifers” jump from 8 percent in 2008 to 33 percent in 2014. A Stanford Law School study in 2011 found that, of 860 murderers paroled in California since 1995, only five reoffended and none were convicted of another murder.

But, as we’ll see, the tortured logic used by one of the commissioners to compute Sirhan’s current threat level gives him little hope of freedom anytime soon. As described in my previous piece, the hearing was hotly contested. On one side, David Dahle, representing the L.A. County District Attorney’s office, called Sirhan (shown in a mug shot) a “terrorist.” On the other, Sirhan’s attorney William Pepper and shooting victim Paul Schrade called him “a political prisoner” and condemned his inhumane treatment.

Read the full transcript of Sirhan’s parole hearing here.

President Obame "The Obama Doctrine" April 2016 Atlantic coverThe Atlantic, The Obama Doctrine, Jeffrey Goldberg, Photographs by Ruven Afanador, March 15, 2016, April 2016 Issue. The U.S. president talks through his hardest decisions about America’s role in the world.

If you are a supporter of the president, his strategy makes eminent sense: Double down in those parts of the world where success is plausible, and limit America’s exposure to the rest. His critics believe, however, that problems like those presented by the Middle East don’t solve themselves — that, without American intervention, they metastasize.

Consortium News, Putin Shuns Syrian ‘Quagmire,’ Ray McGovern, March 15, 2016. Exclusive: Gambling that President Obama will cooperate in seeking peace for Syria, Russian President Putin called back much of Russia’s military force dispatched to Syria last fall, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

Politico, White House: Obama would sign FOIA bill, Josh Gerstein, March 15, 2016. President Barack Obama would sign a Freedom of Information Act reform bill the Senate passed Tuesday, if it reaches his desk in that form, a White House spokesperson said. The measure cleared the Senate unanimously Tuesday afternoon and is similar, but not identical, to a FOIA bill that passed the House in January. "A continued culture of government secrecy has served to undermine FOIA's fundamental promise," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said on the Senate floor just before the bill passed by unanimous consent.

Unz Review, AIPAC is coming to town: The annual grovel begins next week, Philip Giraldi (shown below left in a file photo), March 15, 2016. Philip Giraldi, Ph.D., a frequent contributor to the American Conservative, is a former CIA Case Officer Philip Giraldiand Army Intelligence Officer who spent twenty years overseas in Europe and the Middle East working terrorism cases.

This year AIPAC, which has an annual budget of $70 million and more than 200 employees, is expecting 16,000 supporters and two thirds of Congress. It will be featuring a keynote speech by Hillary Clinton, which should be fascinating.

As Hillary and her husband Bill already constitute a fully owned subsidiary of the Israel Lobby and New York financial services interests, which often amount to the same thing, her attendance might be regarded as de rigueur.

Donald Trump will also be speaking at AIPAC, for the first time. Trump has rattled Israel’s friends in the U.S. by calling for an even handed role by Washington in Middle East peace negotiations and through his insistence that he does not need the money from Jewish mega-donors to run his campaign and “can’t be bought.” But he has also said “First of all, there’s nobody…that’s more pro-Israel than I am."

Benjamin Netanyahu smile TwitterThere are several things that can be done to address the wildly asymmetrical situation with Benjamin Netanyahu (shown in a file photo) and AIPAC.

First, it must be recognized that the United States and Israel are actually two separate countries with very little in the way of common interests. The notion that they have many mutual concerns is largely a myth. AIPAC, the principal purveyor of the myth, is an agent of Israel and should be compelled to register with the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, which would require it to maintain transparency in terms of who funds it. It should also be stripped of its tax exemption as it is demonstrably not an educational foundation. Taking those two steps would enable the American public to understand just exactly what AIPAC represents.

Tom Dispatch/Tomgram, A Case for Demilitarizing the Military, Gregory Foster, March 15, 2016. Introduction: In the war against the Islamic State, the Obama administration and the Pentagon have been engaged in the drip, drip, drip of what, in classic Vietnam terms, might be called “mission creep.”  They have been upping American troop levels a few hundred at a time in Iraq and Syria, along with air power, and loosing Special Operations forces in combat-like operations in both countries. Now, it looks like top military commanders are calling for mission speed-up across the region. (In Libya, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, it already seems to have begun.)

And keep in mind, watching campaign 2016, that however militaristic the solutions of the Pentagon and our generals, they are regularly put in the shade by civilians, especially the Republican candidates for president, who can barely restrain their eagerness to let mission leap loose.

    Pentagon Excess Has Fueled a Civil-Military Crisis, How Civilian Control of the Military Has Become a Fantasy, By Gregory D. Foster:

  • Item: Two U.S. Navy patrol boats, with 10 sailors aboard, “stray” into Iranian territorial waters, and are apprehended and held by Iranian revolutionary guards, precipitating a 24-hour international incident involving negotiations at the highest levels of government to secure their release. The Pentagon offers conflicting reports on why this happened: navigational error, mechanical breakdown, fuel depletion -- but not intelligence-gathering, intentional provocation, or hormonally induced hot-dogging.
  • Item: The Pentagon, according to a Reuters exposé, has been consciously and systematically engaged in thwarting White House efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and release cleared detainees. Pentagon officials have repeatedly refused to provide basic documentation to foreign governments willing to take those detainees and have made it increasingly difficult for foreign delegations to visit Guantanamo to assess them. Ninety-one of the 779 detainees held there over the years remain, 34 of whom have been cleared for release.
  • Item: The Pentagon elects not to reduce General David Petraeus in rank, thereby ensuring that he receives full, four-star retirement pay, after previously being sentenced on misdemeanor charges to two years’ probation and a $100,000 fine for illegally passing highly classified material (a criminal offense) to his mistress (adultery, ordinarily punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice) and lying to FBI officials (a criminal offense). Meanwhile, Private Chelsea (née Bradley) Manning continues to serve a 35-year prison sentence, having been reduced to the Army’s lowest rank and given a dishonorable discharge for providing classified documents to WikiLeaks that included incriminating on-board videos of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed up to 18 civilians, including two Reuters journalists, and wounded two children, and of a 2009 massacre in Afghanistan in which a B-1 bomber killed as many as 147 civilians, reportedly including some 93 children.

What do these episodes have in common? In their own way, they’re all symptomatic of an enduring crisis in civil-military relations that afflicts the United States.

Hyperbolic though it may sound, it is a crisis. The essence of the situation begins, but doesn’t end, with civilian control of the military, where direction, oversight, and final decision-making authority reside with duly elected and appointed civil officials. That’s a minimalist precondition for democracy. A more ideal version of the relationship would be civilian supremacy, where there is civically engaged public oversight of strategically competent legislative oversight of strategically competent executive oversight of a willingly accountable, self-policing military.

What we have today, instead, is the polar opposite: not civilian supremacy over, nor even civilian control of the military, but what could be characterized as civilian subjugation to the military, where civilian officials are largely militarily illiterate, more militaristic than the military itself, advocates for -- rather than overseers of -- the institution, and running scared politically (lest they be labeled weak on defense and security).

Consortium News, Hillary’s Link to Honduran Violence, Marjorie Cohn, March 15, 2016. Little mentioned in the Democratic campaign is Hillary Clinton’s role in supporting a 2009 coup in Honduras that contributed Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sandersto a human rights crisis, including the recent murder of a renowned environmental activist, writes Marjorie Cohn.

A critical difference between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton is their position on whether children who fled violence in Central American countries, particularly Honduras, two years ago should be allowed to stay in the United States or be returned. Sen. Sanders states unequivocally that they should be able to remain in the U.S. Former Secretary of State Clinton disagrees. She would guarantee them “due process,” but nothing more. In 2014, Clinton told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, “It may be safer [for the children to remain in the U.S.],” but “they should be sent back.”

March 14

Sergei Lavrov, Vladimir Putin, Sergei Shoigu, Moscow, March 14, 2016

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, center, in a meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu

Reuters, Russia ready to cooperate with U.S.-led coalition in fight for Syria's Raqqa: Interfax, Ekaterina Golubkova, March 14, 2016. Russia is ready to coordinate its actions with the U.S.-led coalition in Syria to push the Islamic State group out of Raqqa, Interfax news agency quoted Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying. "We are ready to coordinate our actions with the Americans, because Raqqa is in the eastern part of Syria, and the American coalition is mainly ... acting there," Interfax quoted Lavrov as saying in an interview with the Ren-TV television channel.

"Perhaps, this is no secret, if I say that at some stage the Americans suggested performing a 'division of labor': the Russian Air Forces should concentrate on the liberation of Palmyra, and the American coalition with Russian support will focus on the liberation of Raqqa," the minister added.

Global Research, Moscow Announces “Mission Accomplished,”  Michel Chossudovsky, March 14, 2016. As the Geneva Peace talks enter into a stalemate, Moscow announces the withdrawal of its forces from Syria. Russia is to maintain a military presence at its naval base in Tartous and at the Khmeymim airbase. In fact Russia is “withdrawing without withdrawing.”

Russian FlagThe announcement essentially indicates that the real “war on terrorism” has largely been won by Syrian government forces together with the support of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. The (US-sponsored) terrorists have been defeated. Large numbers of ISIS and al Nusra fighters including foreign mercenaries have abandoned the battlefield and have joined the hordes of refugees.

Moscow’s withdrawal constitutes a carefully designed response to Turkey’s undeclared and illegal invasion of Syria. Under NATO’s doctrine of collective security (Article 5 of the Washington Treaty), an “attack” on one NATO member country (i.e. Turkey) constitutes an attack on all NATO member states.

Moscow wants to foreclose US-NATO’s pretext and justification (under Article 5) to intervene directly on the ground against Syria and its allies in a scenario of military escalation. The latter has been on the drawing board of the Pentagon for several years prior to the onslaught of the war in March 2011.

Vladimir PutinBBC, Syria conflict: Russia's Putin orders 'main part' of forces out, Staff report, March 14, 2016. In a surprise move, Russian President Vladimir Putin (shown in a file photo) has ordered his military to start withdrawing the "main part" of its forces in Syria from Tuesday. He said the Russian intervention had largely achieved its objectives. The comments come amid fresh peace talks in Geneva aimed at resolving the five-year Syrian conflict.

Russia is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose office said in a statement he had agreed to the move. The pullout was "in accordance with the situation on the ground", the statement said.n a surprise move, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his military to start withdrawing the "main part" of its forces in Syria from Tuesday. He said the Russian intervention had largely achieved its objectives.

Middle East Eye, Kerry sought missile strikes to force Syria's Assad to step down, Gareth Porter, March 14, 2016. Jeffrey Goldberg’s newly published book-length article on Barack Obama and the Middle East John Kerryincludes a major revelation that brings US Secretary of State John Kerry’s Syrian diplomacy into sharper focus: it reports that Kerry (shown in an official photo) has sought on several occasions without success over the past several months to get Obama’s approval for cruise missile strikes against the Syrian government.

That revelation shows that Kerry’s strategy in promoting the Syrian peace negotiations in recent months was based on much heavier pressure on the Assad regime to agree that President Bashar al-Assad must step down than was apparent. It also completes a larger story of Kerry as the primary advocate in the administration of war in Syria ever since he became Secretary of State in early 2013. Goldberg reports that “on several occasions” Kerry requested that Obama approve missile strikes at “specific regime targets”, in order to “send a message” to Assad – and his international allies – to “negotiate peace.”

But Goldberg’s account makes it clear that Obama not only repeatedly rejected Kerry’s requests for the use of force, but also decreed at a National Security Council meeting in December that any request for the use of military force must come from his military advisers in an obvious rebuff to Kerry. 

South Front via Global Research, Syria: Islamic State (ISIS) Forces Decimated by SAA and Russian Air Force, Staff report, March 14, 2016. Last weekend, the Russian Air Force continued to carry out air raids against ISIS concentration centers near the city of Palmyra in the province of Homs.

The Russian warplanes hit ISIS militants along the Sukhanah-Palmyra road inflicting a major damage on the militants’ military hardware. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies stormed the ISIS’ positions in the oil-rich region of the Eastern part of Homs near oil well 101 and oil well 105. The SAA also targeted the ISIS strongholds in the Northern side of Quaryatayn killing and wounding several militants.

Guardian, FBI quietly changes its privacy rules for accessing NSA data on Americans, Spencer Ackerman, March 14, 2016. Exclusive: Classified revisions accepted by secret Fisa court affect NSA data involving Americans’ international emails, texts and phone calls.

George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton at Nancy Reagan Funeral 3-13-2016 CNN Photo via TwitterThe Hill, Photo shows Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush together at Reagan's funeral, Rebecca Savransky, March 14, 2016. A photo has been posted on Twitter of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former President George W. Bush embracing at Nancy Reagan's funeral. The candid shot was tweeted out March 13  by CNN's political director  David Chalian, who wrote "This may be the best photo from Mrs. Reagan's funeral." Bush and Clinton have a long political history. Clinton's husband Bill defeated Bush's father to win election to the White House in 1992. Bush then defeated Bill Clinton's vice president, Al Gore, to win his election to the White House eight years later.

RT, Stop eroding faith in gov’t: DOJ warns courts about fining & jailing poor people, Staff report, March 14, 2016. The US Justice Department cautioned local courts that it is unconstitutional to jail someone for not paying fines without determining whether they are able to pay, and warned against using court fees to generate revenue for cities. The warnings came as part of an effort to reform court practices that “perpetuate poverty and result in unnecessary deprivations of liberty,” the Justice Department said.

“The consequences of the criminalization of poverty are not only harmful – they are far-reaching,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch in a statement. “They not only affect an individual’s ability to support their family, but also contribute to an erosion of our faith in government.” She added that abusive court practices that disproportionally affect the poor erode trust in the government. The legal system should treat all Americans the same regardless of their economic status, she said.

March 13

The Indicter logoThe Indicter, Paid agent of Swedish security services implicated in second disinformation campaign against Assange, March 13, 2016. Marcello Ferrada de Noli. In the first part of this series, The Indicter exposed that a former paid agent of Sweden’s Security Police had intervened with Amnesty Sweden (the Swedish section of Amnesty International), directly dictating its negative stance towards Julian Assange.

In this article, I analyze whether Swedish government security agents, or ‘former agents,’ have been further involved in a disinformation campaign against the founder of WikiLeaks and its whistleblower publishing. An important source here is the activity of Researchgruppen (aka Research Group), the journalist-collective organization led by Martin Fredriksson, a former paid agent of the Swedish Security Police – or, as it’s better known by its Swedish acronym, SÄPO.

Martin Fredriksson WikimediaResearchgruppen is an organization founded by Martin Fredriksson (shown in a portrait via Wikimedia) and others in 2010 (while he was still a paid agent of SÄPO) that claims to target extreme right-wing or right-conservative parties, organizations that, however, all share a staunch opposition to the incorporation of Sweden into NATO. Researchgruppen has also received support and assignments from Expressen, one of the main Swedish evening newspapers, well-known for leading an earlier campaign against WikiLeaks and Assange on behalf of the previous Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt.

The funding of Researchgruppen is secret as it is registered as part of Seppuku Media Ekonomisk Förening, whose nominal owner is Martin Fredriksson. This company was founded in 2007 at a time when Martin Fredriksson was working as an agent for SÄPO. Fredriksson’s Researchgruppen, now led by Mathias Wåg, runs a broadcasting program called “My Special Interests” (Mina Specialintressen).

The "My Special Interests" programs are podcasts in which the ex-SÄPO agent and guests – occasionally including other collaborators working as SÄPO agents, besides Fredriksson – share opinions on topics built around the political and geopolitical stances of Researchgruppen. Many of these stances are, in fact, very similar to the views held by prominent Swedish politicians who have been exposed by WikiLeaks as having provided information to U.S. intelligence services, such as in the case of former Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt.

A prominent characteristic of the podcasts is their harsh criticism of Julian Assange, combined with a fierce anti-Russian bias – particularly targeting Russia’s president Vladimir Putin. The podcasts – so far 22 programs have been produced – are each about one hour long. I have therefore randomized a sample, which gave the following findings.....

Washington Post, Donald Trump’s Chicago scam, Joe Scarborough, March 13, 2016. Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, hosts the MSNBC show “Morning Joe." Friday’s freak show was as prepackaged as an rerun of “Celebrity Apprentice.” It was all a scam. Has anyone noticed that Trump’s campaign now regularly stages media events designed to eclipse any negative coverage that predictably follows Republican debates? As has been the case throughout the entire 2016 cycle, Trump thrives on the political chaos that he helps creates.

Washington Post, Police: Officer fatally shot outside Pr. George’s police headquarters in ‘unprovoked attack,’ Faiz Siddiqui, Lynh Bui and Michael Laris, March 13, 2016. Jacai Colson, an undercover officer and four-year veteran of the force, died in a shootout with an armed man who started shooting into the station, police said. The alleged shooter and his brother are in custody., Why was no one prosecuted for contributing to the financial crisis? New documents reveal why, Bethany McLean, March 13, 2016. Bethany McLean is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and bestselling author. Her recent book is "Shaky Ground: The Strange Saga of the U.S. Mortgage Giants," published by Columbia Global Reports.

I’ve always thought the lack of prosecution was way more complicated than a simple lack of will, in part because there is a difference between criminally prosecutable behavior and that which is morally reprehensible. But I’m not sure whether we’ll ever know the real answer.

Newly public documents from the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission show that the FCIC referred a handful of matters to the Justice Department for possible prosecution. Most of the time, nothing happened. In the cases where something did happen, our modern system of justice — the special one that applies to big business, that is — means that those of us on the outside — citizens, on whose behalf justice is supposed to be served — will never know the underlying truth.  

Don't we at least deserve to understand?

So the two sides hammered out a settlement, every single word of which you can bet was heavily negotiated. The Justice Department gets money, and gets to trumpet a victory, and Morgan Stanley and its employees get to walk away. More broadly, that’s what has happened with all the banks.

Showtime, Ex-Trump Strategist Explains How To Win A Presidential Campaign, on The Circus, Staff report, March 13, 2016. Join the Circus -- tonight on Showtime, to hear what veteran political strategist and NY Times Best-Selling author, Roger Stone, has to say about the Trump and the leading presidential candidates, politics in general, his books and his predictions on the upcoming elections, while showing off his collection of unique political artifacts and memorabilia that have been collected over more than 40 years of political theatrics - and displayed in Stone’s private Nixon museum.

Bloomberg TV hosts Mark Halperin and John Heilemann go in depth with Stone to learn what it takes to run a presidential campaign and discuss who in 2016 has the momentum to move into the White House. Tune-in tonight to Showtime at 8 PM, to gain an understanding of how presidential campaigns are orchestrated and to learn who in 2016 has the best ability to become president, and why.

March 12

Imaginemedia07 via YouTube, Attempted attack on Donald Trump at Dayton Ohio, Imaginemedia07, March 12, 2016.

New York Times, Trump’s Words Were Destined to Stir Violence, Critics Say, Michael Barbaro, Ashley Parker and Trip Gabriel, March 12, 2016. In foreboding conversations across the political world, elected officials, party leaders and historians warned that the campaign was teetering on the edge of violence. This weekend it finally arrived.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich at Newseum 10-6-15 (JIP Photo by Andrew Kreig)Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a 2016 GOP presidential contender faces a key test March 15 in a winner-take-all primary vote in his home state (Justice Integrity Project photo last year at a policy forum).

Washington Post, Rubio wins D.C. Republican primary, Katherine Shaver, Clarence Williams and Martin Weil, March 11, 2016.The senator from Florida will be awarded 10 delegates for receiving 37.3 percent of the vote, edging out Ohio's John Kasich, who will get the District’s other nine delegates. Announced results gave Rubio 37.3 percent of the 2,839 votes cast. Kasich was close behind with 35.5 percent, a difference of less than two percentage points. That suggested that each might get nearly the same number of delegates. Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) trailed by substantial margins. Trump got 13.8 percent of the votes and Cruz 12.4 percent.

WhoWhatWhy, Snowden on Apple Case: Security for All or Security for None, Staff report, March 12, 2016. In a wide-ranging interview, Edward Snowden talks about the Apple vs. FBI encryption lawsuit, why he has not endorsed a presidential candidate and how a member of the WhoWhatWhy Editorial Advisory Council changed his views on what it would take to return to the US.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has called the legal battle between Apple and the US government “the most important tech case in a decade.” In an interview at the Liberty Forum last month, Snowden, speaking from his exile in Russia, said the choice in this fight is whether “all of us have security, or none of us have security.” One of the reasons the case is so important, Snowden argued, is that this challenge to the government’s authority takes place in an open court and not behind closed doors like so many previous ones.

March 11

New Yorker, Mark Singer on the Perils of Profiling Donald Trump, video by staff writer Mark Singer, March 11, 2016 (14 min.). In 1997, before Donald Trump’s current bid for the Presidency was even a twinkle in the G.O.P. electorate’s eye, the New Yorker staff writer Mark Singer wrote a Profile of the rich kid turned real-estate showboat. A number of his observations from the time are disturbingly resonant now: for instance, that “his unique talent—being ‘Trump’ or, as he often referred to himself, ‘the Trumpster,’ looming ubiquitous by reducing himself to a persona—exempted him from introspection.” Trump didn’t like the piece.

At the 2009 New Yorker Festival, when Trump was in the thick of his reality-TV-star phase, Singer recalled the experience of reporting the Profile (“off the record, but you can use it” was a phrase Trump repeated frequently), and of incurring his subject’s wrath after it was published. (Among other things, Singer scored a not-too-complimentary cameo in “The Art of the Comeback.”) You can watch Singer’s Festival appearance in the video above. With Trump steamrolling ever closer toward the G.O.P. nomination, the story, like the man himself, is equal parts amusing and terrifying.

Washington Post, The other Republican establishment: John Kasich’s ‘Coalition of the Formers,' Philip Rucker and Dan Balz, March 11, 2016. Some GOP figures are promoting Kasich over Rubio because of the Ohioan’s dealmaking past.

Washington Post, The federal government no longer cares about disclosing public information, Justin Elliott, March 11, 2016. FEMA’s slow response to my 2014 Freedom of Information Act request is, sadly, typical.  Two years ago last month, I filed a public-records request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency as part of my reporting into the flawed response to Hurricane Sandy. Then, I waited.

The Freedom of Information Act requires a response within 20 business days, but agencies routinely blow that deadline. Eight months later, ProPublica and NPR published our investigation into the Sandy response, but it did not include any documents from FEMA. The agency had simply never gotten back to me. Finally, this Feb. 10 — 492 business days past the law’s 20-day deadline — I got a curious phone call from FEMA. The agency was starting a “clean search” for the documents I asked for, because the original search “was not done properly.”

Las Vegas Review-Journal, Cliven Bundy refuses to enter plea in 2014 armed standoff near Bunkerville, Jeff German and Wesley Juhl, March 11, 2016. With a crowd of supporters in the courtroom, Nevada Cliven Bundy Mullnomah County Sheriff's Officerancher Cliven Bundy refused to enter a plea Thursday to criminal charges stemming from the 2014 armed standoff with law enforcement near his Bunkerville ranch. “I make no plea before this court,” Bundy said, forcing U.S. Magistrate Judge Bill Hoffman to enter “not guilty” pleas on his behalf to all 16 felony charges.

Hoffman set a May 2 trial for Bundy before Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro, but continued his detention hearing until March 17 so his lawyer, Joel Hansen, could have more time to prepare. Bundy, 69, dressed in a red jailhouse jumpsuit, will remain in federal custody until then. Afterward, Hansen said Bundy refused to enter a plea because he questions the “jurisdiction of the federal government.” Hansen also said Bundy (shown in a police photo) doesn’t believe he’s done anything wrong. Before the court hearing, as many as 100 demonstrators gathered outside the federal courthouse in support of Bundy, as a handful of police and U.S. marshals stood by to keep the peace.

Washington Post, Obama is said to winnow choices for Supreme Court vacancy, Sari Horwitz, Robert Barnes and Jerry Markon, March 11, 2016. The three finalists bring a range of judicial and legal experience. A decision could come as early as next week.

American Herald Tribune, Judge's Iran Ignorance Is Widespread and Dangerous, David Swanson (shown in a file photo), March 12, 2016. U.S. District Judge George Daniels of New York has struck again, ruling David Swanson that Iran must pay $10 billion to compensate for the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. If you have read this story in the United States, it probably came from Bloomberg News, which uniquely failed to note that in fact nobody has ever produced the slightest evidence that Iran had anything to do with the September 11 attacks.

In short, this is a story about a crackpot judge operating within a crackpot culture, not a story about criminal justice. Criminal justice is actually a much better response to 9/11 than endless war, but first you have to properly identify the criminals! See also, Truthout, Crackpot Anti-Islam Activists, "Serial Fabricators" and the Tale of Iran and 9/11, Gareth Porter, Dec. 29, 2011. 

March 10

CNN, Ben Carson to endorse Donald Trump, Dana Bash, MJ Lee and Sara Murray, March 10, 2016. Ben Carson will endorse Donald Trump on Friday, multiple sources told CNN. Trump has a press conference Ben Carsonscheduled for 9 a.m. ET in Palm Beach, Florida. On Wednesday, the retired neurosurgeon, who dropped his presidential campaign earlier this month, told CNN's Erin Burnett he was open to supporting either Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

"You have to consider all the information, who is most likely to win, and what kind of shenanigans will drive voters away so they will not participate in the process. We have to be very careful in all those things," Carson said. The endorsement was first reported by the Washington Post.

New York Times, Obama Criticizes the ‘Free Riders’ Among America’s Allies, Mark Landler, March 10, 2016. President Obama believes that Saudi Arabia, one of America’s most important allies in the Middle East, needs to learn how to “share” the region with its archenemy, Iran, and that both countries are guilty of fueling proxy wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

In a series of interviews with The Atlantic magazine published Thursday, Mr. Obama said a number of American allies in the Persian Gulf — as well as in Europe — were “free riders,” eager to drag the United States into grinding sectarian conflicts that sometimes had little to do with American interests.

He showed little sympathy for the Saudis, who have been threatened by the nuclear deal Mr. Obama reached with Iran. The Saudis, Mr. Obama told Jeffrey Goldberg, the magazine’s national correspondent, “need to find an effective way to share the neighborhood and institute some sort of cold peace.”

Mr. Obama’s frustration with much of the Arab world is not new, but rarely has he been so blunt about it. He placed his comments in the context of his broader struggle to extract the United States from the bloody morass of the Middle East so that the nation can focus on more promising, faster-growing parts of the world, like Asia and Latin America.

RealClearPolitics, Rubio's Survival Is on the Line in Tonight's Debate, Rebecca Berg, March 10, 2016. Marco Rubio’s homecoming to Florida will likely be far from the triumphant one many Republicans once Marco Rubio Buttonexpected and that his campaign had banked upon. Instead, the pivotal state could well be Rubio’s last stand in his party’s presidential primary. When the Republican field meets to debate Thursday in the tony enclave of Coral Gables, the Florida senator will trail Donald Trump by roughly 17 points in the RealClearPolitics polling average, still reeling from a punishing round of primaries Tuesday in which he won no delegates.

Washington Post, Inside Trump’s inner circle, his staffers are willing to fight for him. Literally, Ben Terris, March 10, 2016. The original Trump crew, the four who had been there Donald Trump Gage Skidmore photofrom the start, stood at the fringe of the news conference, watching as their boss trash-talked his competitors, hawked Trump products that may or may not exist, touted his Michigan and Mississippi primary wins, and berated the media. From the beginning, they had been fiercely loyal, willing to fight for their candidate. Sometimes to a fault. (Trump is shown in a Gage Skidmore photo.)

ABC News, Public Backs Scalia Replacement Hearings by Nearly 2-1, Ally Brodsky, March 10, 2016. Americans broadly favor Senate hearings on a U.S. Supreme Court nomination by President Obama, with nearly half of Republicans – as well as large majorities of Democrats and independents alike – pushing back against the GOP leadership on whether to consider a nominee. Sixty-three percent overall in a new ABC News-Washington Post poll favor hearings and a vote on whether to accept Obama’s nomination of a replacement for Antonin Scalia, the high court justice who died Feb. 13. Half as many, 32 percent, say hearings should be set aside and the nomination left for Obama’s successor, the position taken by Senate Republican leaders.

Bloomberg‎, Obama and Republicans Trade Fire Over Nominee to Replace Scalia, Mike Dorning and Steven T. Dennis, March 10, 2016. President Barack Obama said Thursday that Senate Republicans threaten the credibility of the Supreme Court by obstructing his nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, and Senator Chuck Grassley charged that Democrats were playing politics with the vacancy.

Partisan warfare over the court seat is raging up and down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, with the backdrop of the presidential election only intensifying the stakes. Should Obama succeed in replacing Scalia, a conservative appointed by President Ronald Reagan, the court would undoubtedly tilt leftward. Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which would hold hearings on any nominee, vigorously defended his position that no Obama selection should be considered this year. He said he would not be swayed and that Democrats were playing politics by demanding a hearing and votes for a nominee Republicans would never confirm.

Politico, Dem lawmakers raise doubts on IGs' Clinton email review, Josh Gerstein, March 10, 2016. Seven Democratic lawmakers are complaining publicly that the review of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's email practices by two internal government watchdogs has been unduly politicized.

Joseph NacchioThen-Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio (right) receiving Presidential certificate from White House adviser Richard Clarke.

Full Measure via Sinclair Broadcasting, Once upon a time, long before Apple and the FBI, Sharyl Attkisson, March 10, 2016. Once upon a time, long before Apple and the FBI…one of America’s spy agencies Sharyl Attkissonasked a telephone company to cooperate on a classified project that involved unspecified surveillance of private customers. The company was Qwest and the agency was the NSA–the National Security Agency. The phone companies have long cooperated with U.S. intelligence agencies on secret programs that earn billions of dollars in contracts. But this time was different. This time, then Qwest-CEO Joe Nacchio says, the government didn’t have the appropriate warrants or legal authority.

Washington Post, Death of senior Putin aide in District hotel remains a mystery, Peter Hermann, Michael Birnbaum and Clarence Williams, Mikhail Lesin, a former Russian cabinet minister, seemed sloppily drunk when he showed up at the bar in the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown one day last fall, two police officials recounted Friday, and the bartender sent him away. He took a bottle of liquor — it was unclear if he paid. He checked out of the hotel, where he had a room, and headed to the Dupont Circle Hotel. Surveillance video there shows him walking in, looking disheveled but not noticeably injured, another police official said.

The 57-year-old millionaire was found dead the morning of Nov. 5 in his room, lying on the floor. His family told media outlets that the former aide to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin had suffered a heart attack. But on Thursday, the D.C. Medical Examiner’s Office said Lesin died of blunt force trauma to the head and had bruises on other areas of his body. The examiner reached no conclusion about whether the man who was a trusted member of Putin’s inner circle and once ruled a media empire died because of a crime, an accident or some other means.

WhoWhatWhy, Report and Graphic Video: “Death of a Nation — The Timor Conspiracy,”  John Pilger, March 10, 2016. A video on Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor — one of the greatest crimes of the 20th century. And a report on secret documents that reveal how it happened. Before Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 — an act that led to one of the most grievous genocides in history — certain people in the “civilized” world knew of its plans in advance, and had preferences for how the invasion was to be carried out.

For example, the British ambassador to Indonesia said “It is in Britain’s interest that Indonesia absorb the territory as soon, and as unobtrusive as possible. And when it comes to the crunch, we should keep our heads down.” The US ambassador expressed the hope that the Indonesians would be “effective, quick, and not use our equipment.” (According to NSA archives, there was a “congressional prohibition on Indonesia’s use of military gear financed by U.S. aid for anything but defensive operations. Kissinger would come to understand the problem, if he did not already, but…he was not willing to let it tie Jakarta’s hands.”)

But they did use American equipment. A lot of it was needed for the job at hand. Men, women and children were beheaded, burned alive, butchered, blown up, machine gunned and of course tortured and raped. Over 200,000 died. For decades, John Pilger, an Australian journalist and film maker, has been chronicling this story, putting the unspeakable into words and pictures. He made a film about it in 1994 which he updated recently and shared with us. Warning. This is a graphic video: Death of a Nation — The Timor Conspiracy.

OpEdNews, If You Value The Truth..., Paul Craig Roberts, March 10, 2016. Where is the justice in what just happened to the most prominent sportswoman in the world, five-time grand slam tennis champion Maria Sharapova. For health reasons she has been given mildronate by her doctor for 10 years. Mildronate is used to treat diabetes, low magnesium, and poor blood flow.

On January 1 of this year meldonium, another name for mildronate, was added to the prohibited drug list. Not being a pharmacist, Sharapova did not know the newly added drug was the same as her medical prescription, and a few days after her medical prescription of a decade was declared a prohibited drug, she failed the drug test for the January Australian Open.

I have spoken to drug testers and have been told that it takes more than a few days between the January 1 announcement of meldonium's prohibition and the January Australian Open for drugs to clear the body. There was nothing Sharapova could have done even if she had known. So what was the response of the authorities? Right, the International Tennis Federation has suspended her, and Nike, Tag Heuer, and Porsche have suspended their contracts with her.

Isn't this amazing. We have war criminals, torturers, and former bank executives guilty of massive frauds running Western economic and foreign policy free of any accountability for their offenses, but a tennis star's prescription medicine runs afoul of a newly introduced drug policy, and she is suspended! Is this because she is Russian? Is this part of demonizing Russia and presenting the country in a bad light? Or is it just the senseless mindlessness of the Western world in which only the innocent are punished?

Time Warner Cable News, Rob Morrow Reacts After Travis County GOP Disavows Chairman-Elect, Stef Manisero, March 10, 2016. After a week of disorder, a broken Travis County Republican Party has officially Robert Morrowdistanced itself from its chairman-elect. On Tuesday night, the party overwhelmingly resolved not to stand with Robert Morrow, and is asking him to resign. But Morrow says he has no plans to step down.

"The people of Travis County have spoken, the Republican party, and I will be the incoming chairman," said Travis County GOP Chairman-elect Robert Morrow. Despite being asked to resign from his new role, Morrow (shown in a file photo) shows no signs of slowing down. "Why? Because Matt Mackowiak thinks I should? That's just laughable," said Morrow of the party's vice chairman. "They're going to do what they're going to do and I'm going to do what I'm going to do."

Robert MorrowOn Tuesday night, in a 61 to four vote, the Travis County GOP passed a resolution disavowing Morrow. When asked why he wasn't at the meeting, Morrow said, "I decided not to go because I needed to mow my grass yesterday." But he already has plans for when he takes office in June. "I'm using it as a bully platform to educate and inform the American public about the criminals and vipers who have run both the Republican and Democratic parties," explained Morrow.

Morrow (shown in a Justice Integrity Project photo in Dallas at last November's ceremonies commemorating the 1963 murder of President Kennedy) calls the TCRP incredibly weak. "I'll give you an example, they recently just elected a party chairman who is completely disloyal to the Republican Party," Morrow described of himself. Morrow, who describes himself as a small L libertarian, says his priorities are freedom of speech, legalizing drugs and legalizing prostitution.

March 9

Washington Post, Sanders upsets Clinton in Michigan, John Wagner, Anne Gearan and Abby Phillip, March 9, 2016. Sen. Bernie Sanders pulled off a narrow upset in the Michigan primary Tuesday, buoying his Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanderschallenge to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and giving him bragging rights to a big, diverse state outside his previous areas of strength. Sanders’s come-from-behind victory was fueled by a relentless focus on his opposition to “disastrous” trade deals that have battered the manufacturing sector in Michigan. He will carry the same message to Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois and Missouri next week.

Clinton, meanwhile, cruised to an expected win in the primary in Mississippi, the latest in a series of contests in Southern states where she has bested Sanders largely on the strength of her appeal to African American voters. The outcome raises the stakes for a candidates’ debate Wednesday, sponsored by The Washington Post and Univision and broadcast from delegate-rich Florida, which also holds a primary next week. It will also air on CNN.

Clinton has now won 13 states in this Democratic primary contest, including eight from the old Confederacy, where black voters are a major force in any Democratic race. Sanders has won nine states, but — because many of his victories were in smaller states, and because Clinton has dominated among superdelegates, who make up their own minds — he is far behind in the race for delegates to the Democratic convention. via Huffington Post, What Went Down In The March 8 Presidential Primaries, Nate Silver, Other pollsters, March 9, 2016. Here are my initial thoughts on why the polls in Michigan, which had Clinton ahead by 21 percentage points, got things so wrong. Basically, I’m not sure that Michigan was ever really a 20-point race, as polls had it. Based on the demographics of the state, it probably narrowly favored Clinton. But then, perhaps some of her voters didn’t show up, or voted in the GOP primary instead, because it didn’t look like Clinton needed their vote. That might potentially be enough to push Sanders over the top, although it will be very close.

Washington Post, Trump wins convincingly in Hawaii, Mississippi and Michigan, Philip Rucker, March 9, 2016. Donald Trump won convincing victories Tuesday in the Michigan and Mississippi primaries, as well as the caucuses in Hawaii, suggesting that the intensified GOP establishment assault on Trump’s character and record had not yet wounded the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.

In Michigan and Mississippi, Trump galvanized huge populations of white working-class voters with his populist economic pitch, nativist rhetoric and outsider appeal to win by double-digit margins, further solidifying the billionaire mogul’s lead in the rollicking nomination battle. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) came in second in the Hawaii caucuses. But he won Idaho decisively, followed by Trump in second and trailed by Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Politico, Lynch suggests White House 'stay silent' on Hillary Clinton email probe, Josh Gerstein, March 9, 2016. Attorney General Loretta Lynch indicated Wednesday that White House press secretary Josh Loretta LynchEarnest was ill-advised to make comments downplaying the seriousness of an FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's email practices. Under questioning from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Lynch said it was a bad idea for anyone in government to be speaking about the inquiry. Lynch (shown in an official photo) said the Justice Department has not updated the White House about the progress of the probe, which is believed to be exploring how classified information ended up on Clinton's server and whether any laws were broken in the process.

March 8

Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), Watch: New Video Details LaVoy Finicum Traffic Stop, Shooting, Bryan M. Vance, March 8, 2016. Law enforcement tasked with investigating the Jan. 26 fatal shooting of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupant LaVoy Finicum during a traffic stop outlined their findings to the public Tuesday. In a press conference, officials said an investigation into the six shots fired by Oregon State Police, including the three that fatally wounded Finicum, were justified and “necessary.”

Investigators released a video they used to review the case. Authorities were able to sync cellphone footage recorded by militant Shawna Cox from inside Finicum’s truck with previously available aerial footage captured by the FBI. Cox hit record on her cellphone shortly after police stopped the truck Finicum was driving., Will the Oligarchs Kill Trump? Patrick J. Buchanan, March 8, 2016. Fully 116 members of the GOP’s national security community, many of them veterans of Bush administrations, have signed an open letter threatening that, if Trump is nominated, they will all desert, and some will defect — to Hillary Clinton! “Hillary is the lesser evil, by a large margin,” says Eliot Cohen of the Bush II State Department.  Another signer, Robert Kagan, wailed in The Washington Post, “The only choice will be to vote for Hillary Clinton.”

What are these renegades and turncoats so anguished about? Trump calls the Iraq War many of them championed a historic blunder. Trump says that, while a supporter of Israel, he would be a “neutral” honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians in peace negotiations, as was Jimmy Carter at Camp David. Trump would launch no new crusades for democracy. He would not oppose Russia bombing ISIS. He would build that wall on the border. He would transfer from U.S. taxpayers to rich allies more of the cost of defending themselves.

Do not most Americans agree with much of this? Yet this neocon ultimatum about deserting should the voters nominate Trump testifies eloquently to their loyalty. With every ex-president and ex-nominee repudiating Trump, and foreign policy elites going rogue, the GOP hierarchy is saying: We will cut Trump dead, just as the Rockefeller-Romney crowd cut Barry Goldwater dead. This is pure my-way-or-the-highway politics.

How well Trump fares in Michigan and Mississippi, measured against how well he was doing in polls last week, will reveal just how successful super PAC savagery has been in changing hearts and minds.

National Press Club, Former Cuban political prisoner Alan Gross to discuss his detention and the need for Cubans to have Internet access March 15, Jamie Horwitz, March 8, 2016. Former Cuban political prisoner Alan Gross of the United States will speak and answer media questions at a National Press Club Newsmaker 10 a.m., Tues., March 15, in the club’s Bloomberg Room.

Alan GrossThis news conference will occur just before President Obama travels to Cuba. Gross (shown in a file photo) will describe what he endured for the five years of his detention, what he believes Cuba should do to assure the freedom of Internet information access he fought to achieve for the Cuban people, and what the U.S. should do regarding Cuban policy to achieve this goal.

Gross, who has worked to provide trade facilitation advice to clients in emerging markets and designed multi-million dollar internet-based satellite communications services to business and government organizations, was a political prisoner in Cuba from 2009-2014. After he was freed, President Obama introduced him at the 2015 State of the Union. President Obama will travel to Cuba March 21 as the first sitting U.S. President to visit the island in 88 years.

The Intercept via Global Research, Joe Wilson’s “Confidential Letter” to Hillary Clinton in 2010: Baghdad “Has Been Bled to Death,” Zaid Jilani, March 8, 2016. The latest release of Hillary Clinton emails includes a sobering, confidential 2010 letter (excerpt below) from ex-Ambassador Joe Wilson [pictured left] in which the former diplomat reflects on a trip he had recently made to Iraq, the devastation caused by the war, and how waste and racism are obstructing the rebuilding process.

Joseph WilsonWilson was an early critic of the Bush-Cheney administration’s lies in the run-up to the war in 2003. His wife, CIA operative Valerie Plame, was outed by White House staffers as part of an effort to discredit him. The opening paragraph of his letter describes the society-wide destruction he witnessed upon traveling to the country: "My trip to Baghdad (September 6-11) has left me slack jawed. I have struggled to find the correct historical analogy to describe a vibrant, historically important Middle Eastern city being slowly bled to death." He then described the racism he saw on display at the store on the American military base at the Baghdad airport.

Six years later, Wilson tells The Intercept: "I think that the extent to which things have changed since, it has been for the worse. Other than the fact that there are fewer American servicepeople and bases in the country, it strikes me that attitudes, if anything, are worse." And he said he’s not hopeful.

Washington Post, Va. Senate panel proposes Cuccinelli for state Supreme Court, Laura Vozzella, March 8, 2016. A Senate panel on Tuesday nominated former attorney general Ken Cuccinelli II to the Virginia Supreme Court, a move that could both keep Cuccinelli out of the 2017 governor’s race and deal a particularly bitter blow to Gov. Terry McAuliffe. While the governor and the Republican-controlled legislature have been deadlocked for months over how to fill a vacancy on the state’s highest court, the nomination of Cuccinelli appeared to have enough support from GOP lawmakers to break the impasse.

Cuccinelli (R), who narrowly lost the 2013 gubernatorial contest to McAuliffe (D), seemed caught off guard. “I am humbled and honored to be considered for such a position, but it is not something that my wife and I have previously contemplated,” he said. “Together, we will prayerfully review this possibility.” A tea party hero for the brash battles he waged as attorney general against abortion, “Obamacare” and other perceived examples of “federal overreach,” Cuccinelli is reviled with equal fervor on the left. Establishment Republicans have not been fans, either, and have expressed concern as Cuccinelli has publicly mulled a second gubernatorial bid.


Don Siegelman with Charles Cloud Dec. 11, 2015 at Oakdale, LAFormer Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman is shown in prison Dec. 11 at left with a fellow inmate, Charles Cloud, just after the former governor's release from 57 days of solitary confinement in "The Hole" at Oakdale's federal prison in Louisiana.

Washington Spectator, The Case for a Presidential Pardon for Don Siegelman, Scott Horton, March 8, 2016. Scott Horton is a fellow at The Nation Institute and a contributing editor at Harper’s. President Scott HortonBarack Obama has promised one of the most sweeping criminal justice reforms in recent years and has built a strong bipartisan coalition to support it. However, while the Constitution gives him the direct authority to immediately reverse glaring injustices — through the use of the power of pardon and clemency — Obama has been extraordinarily cautious about acting.

One case among the thousands now before Obama cries out for consideration. That is the 2006 conviction of Alabama Governor Don E. Siegelman on corruption charges stemming from his acceptance of a $500,000 donation as he sought to pass a state lottery to fund public education. The donation was made by a health care executive, whom Siegelman reappointed to an uncompensated state hospital oversight board. As more than 100 of the nation’s current and former attorneys general have pointed out, this prosecution was extraordinary. If such conduct is corrupt, then there is hardly a senior political figure in the country who could escape prison — including Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who both gave dozens of diplomatic and other government appointments to individuals who contributed or aggregated six- or seven-figure sums to their own campaigns.

This case bares all the hallmarks of politically motivated prosecution. After Siegelman’s conviction, a series of newspaper and broadcast exposés established that he had been the victim of a political vendetta orchestrated by Texas-based consultant Karl Rove and a number of senior Alabama Republicans. CBS’s “60 Minutes” got wind of the case and provided coverage on the essentially undisputed political shenanigans behind the case. Newspapers around the country called for Siegelman’s release.

Then the story got even stranger. The judge who handled it, and whose bias against Siegelman was apparent to most observers but was hastily covered up by his colleagues in black robes, has since been forced to resign in disgrace.

He assaulted his wife in an Atlanta hotel and then lied about it to law-enforcement officials. The victim was, incidentally, both his former mistress and the court officer in the Siegelman case. Notwithstanding his resignation, judicial conference officials are so appalled by the judge’s misconduct that they are considering a recommendation that Congress impeach him anyway, to strip away his benefits.

In the meantime, Siegelman has sat in prison since September 2012, convicted of conduct that virtually no one believes is actually a crime. At the end of last year, he spent eight weeks segregated from the prison population, in a special-housing unit in the Louisiana facility where he’s serving his time — for having the audacity to protest his innocence in a radio talk show conducted from the prison. (According to Bureau of Prisons policy, prisoners are not permitted to claim publicly that they’re innocent, even when the evidence clearly establishes that they are.)

The pardon and clemency power is clearly the right way to approach this matter. But there is an obstacle: associate deputy attorney general David Margolis, the senior-most career attorney in the Justice Department. Margolis has intervened numerous times to block internal inquiries into media reports of political conspiracies behind the Siegelman prosecution, according to several highly placed sources at the department. He personally pushed back against conflict-of-interest complaints filed against the U.S. attorney who brought the prosecution, whose husband was a principal funder and adviser of Siegelman’s political adversary.

Margolis wrote a decision that found no wrongdoing on her part — in the face of an enormous body of evidence to the contrary.

Margolis also silenced a whistleblower in the prosecution team, threatening disciplinary action over disclosures, all as part of an effort to stem embarrassing media leaks. As one Justice Department source told me, “David thinks the way DOJ managed this case, if brought to light, would do real harm to the reputation of the department. He’s obviously right about that.”

In the current pardons structure, the president turns to the Justice Department’s pardons attorney for guidance on pardons and clemency. That pardons attorney, at present, reports to Margolis. For the moment, that would seem to dampen any hopes for a pardon or commutation of sentence.

The rank injustice of this case screams out for direct action by the White House, and for bypassing the Justice Department, whose conflict of interest make it an unreliable adviser to the president in such circumstances.

March 7

BBC, Zaman newspaper: Seized Turkish daily 'now pro-government,' Staff report, March 7, 2016. Turkey's biggest newspaper, Zaman, has published an edition carrying pro-government articles, two days after Flag of Turkeybeing taken over by authorities. On Friday, a court ruled that Zaman, previously linked to an opponent of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, should now be run by administrators. Its last edition under old ownership on Saturday said Turkey's press had seen one of its "darkest days." Meanwhile, a newspaper set up by former Zaman staff was launched on Sunday.

Police raided Zaman's Istanbul offices late on Friday hours after a court ruling placed it under state control, but managers were still able to get Saturday's edition to print. No reason was given by the court for the decision. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the takeover was "legal, not political." "It is out of the question for either me or any of my colleagues to interfere in this process," he said in a television interview. Water cannon and tear gas were used against some 500 Zaman supporters gathered in front of its headquarters on Saturday. Zaman journalists who arrived to work on Saturday said their access to internal servers had been denied. Its editor-in-chief Abdulhamit Bilici and a leading columnist were also fired.

BBC, US drone 'kills 150 Somali militants,' Staff report, March 7, 2016. A US drone strike has killed more than 150 al-Shabab militants in Somalia, the Pentagon says. Spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said the strike hit a training camp where a "large-scale" attack was being planned. "We know they were going to be departing the camp and they posed an imminent threat to US and [African Union] forces," Captain Davis said. "Initial assessments are that more than 150 terrorist fighters were eliminated," he added. The strike, on Saturday, targeted a camp about 120 miles (195km) north of the capital, Mogadishu.


Cornell Daily Sun, Cornell’s President Elizabeth Garrett Dies at Age 52, Less Than One Year After Assuming Office, Phoebe Keller, March 7, 2016. President Elizabeth Garrett died last night after receiving treatment for colon cancer, the University announced this morning. The thirteenth Cornell president and first female president was 52.

WhoWhatWhy, Selma at 51: MLK Warned That Apathy Was the Real Killer, Staff report, March 7, 2016. Selma, Alabama, was perhaps the climax of the Civil Rights movement. On the 51st anniversary of that Martin Luther King Jr. at National Press Club 1962famed march, we take a moment to reflect on some of Dr. Martin Luther King’s most extraordinary oratory, which is so very relevant today. Fifty-one years ago today, a peaceful march of civil rights supporters that began in Selma, Alabama, was violently halted when demonstrators tried to cross Edmund Pettus Bridge. The photos and videos of “Bloody Sunday” went around the world and provided undeniable proof of the brutality used to stop the civil rights movement.

In one particularly striking passage, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. both virtually predicted his own death and said it was better than doing nothing. “A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right, a man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice, a man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true,” Dr. King said in a speech the day after the march.

March 6

Donald Trump Gage Skidmore photoDonald Trump (Gage Skidmore photo)

Washington Post, Double wins boost Cruz; Clinton maintains delegate lead, Jose A. DelReal, March 6, 2016. Sen. Ted Cruz’s bid to become the chief alternative to Republican presidential front-runner Donald Ted Cruz presidential buttonTrump gained steam Saturday, as he secured commanding victories in the Kansas and Maine caucuses while Sen. Marco Rubio withered with a string of third-place finishes. The 2016 election barreled forward Saturday as five states held presidential nominating contests across the country. On a day dubbed “Super Saturday,” Republicans voted in Louisiana and caucused in Kansas, Maine and Kentucky. Democrats also voted in Louisiana and caucused in Kansas and Nebraska.

Trump won the Louisiana primary and the Kentucky caucuses, underscoring the extent to which the Republican nomination race has become a contest between him and Cruz. Taken together, the results marked a devastating rebuke of the Republican establishment, which has settled on Rubio as its standard-bearer. He not only failed to win any states Saturday, but he also finished in third place in every state that voted Saturday except Maine, where he was projected to finish fourth behind Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders defeated former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in the Kansas and Nebraska caucuses. But Clinton’s forceful projected win in delegate-rich Louisiana keeps her vast delegate lead.

Huffington Post, Bernie Sanders Wins Maine Democratic Caucus, It's the eighth state that Sanders has won, Marina Fang, March 6, 2016. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) won the Maine Democratic caucus on Sunday, as projected by The Associated Press. It was the eighth state victory for the Democratic presidential hopeful over his rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Sanders won the caucus due to large voter turnout across the state, defeating Clinton by a 2-to-1 margin. Voters waited in long lines to participate in the caucus.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie SandersHis win in Maine, along with wins in Kansas and Nebraska on Saturday, buoyed the spirits of his supporters and are encouraging signs for his campaign. But Sanders continues to trail Clinton in state-level victories and delegates, and faces an uphill battle in trying to close the gap. On Sunday, Sanders and Clinton participated in a debate in Flint, Michigan, ahead of the state's primary on Tuesday. Both candidates are looking for a victory in the delegate-rich state, with Sanders hoping that his platform of fighting income inequality resonates with Michigan voters, who have faced a disproportionate amount of economic upheaval.

Reuters via Huffington Post, Marco Rubio Wins Puerto Rico Primary, Megan Cassella, March 6, 2016. It's his second primary or caucus win. U.S. Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio was projected to win Puerto Rico, CNN and NBC reported on Sunday, giving the Florida senator his second win in the state-by-state nominating contest for the November election.

Washington Post, Super Saturday results show Rubio collapsing, Trump stoppable and Cruz gaining momentum, James Hohmann, March 6, 2016. Ted Cruz won decisive victories in Kansas and Maine on what’s being called “Super Saturday,” and he came within three and four points of scoring upsets over Donald Trump in both Louisiana and Kentucky.

Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, easily won caucuses in the overwhelmingly white states of Kansas (68-32) and Nebraska (56-44) while Hillary Clinton romped in Louisiana (71-23), where just as many delegates were at stake, thanks to overwhelming support among African Americans.

The biggest story line out of last night, though, is calamity for Marco Rubio. It was his worst showing since the New Hampshire primary – and arguably more damaging. The floor appears to be falling out from underneath the Florida senator: Not only is his win-loss record now 1-18, but he took a 17 percent in Kansas despite canceling events elsewhere to campaign in the state and receiving endorsements from Gov. Sam Brownback, Sen. Pat Roberts and Bob Dole. He got 16 percent in Kentucky, 11 percent in Louisiana (with ex-Gov. Bobby Jindal’s support) and just 8 percent in Maine—where he finished fourth behind John Kasich.

Here’s a hard truth for the D.C. political class: There’s almost no appetite at the grassroots level for an establishment nominee this year, and Rubio is now undeniably the establishment candidate. There are perks that come from being the establishment’s guy – the most money, seasoned staff, etc. – but there’s also baggage. This year more than ever.

Martin Fredriksson received Sweden's "Golden Spade" investigative journalism award (Bertil Ericson Photo TT))Journalist and government spy Martin Fredriksson, center, received Sweden's "Golden Spade" investigative journalism award in 2014 (Bertil Ericson Photo TT). He is shown also below left in a Wikimedia photo

Martin Fredriksson WikimediaThe Indicter, Former paid agent of Swedish Security Police dictated Amnesty Sweden’s stance against Assange, Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli, PhD. (Chairman of Swedish Doctors for Human Rights), March 6, 2016. Svenska Dagbladet (SVD), one of Sweden’s leading newspapers, has now revealed that a well-known journalist and ‘left activist’ – who, among other things, exerted considerable influence with Amnesty International Sweden – was a paid agent of Sweden’s Security Police (SÄPO).

The government security agent, Martin Fredriksson, was mainly active during the years that former Foreign Minister Carl Bildt was dictating Sweden’s foreign policy, when the “Assange Affair” was widely publicized on the home page of Sweden’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to statements Fredriksson posted on Twitter, his “work” at SÄPO covered different periods between 2004 and 2010, the year Sweden opened its ‘investigation’ against the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

The Swedish media establishment awarded this SÄPO secret agent its highest investigative journalism prize, ‘Guldspaden’ (Golden Spade), in 2014. The rationale on which the award was given to Fredriksson referred precisely to the work he had implemented as a paid agent of Sweden’s Secret Police.

Alternet via Truthout, The FBI Has a New Plan to Spy on High School Students Across the Country, Sarah Lazare, March 6, 2016. Under new guidelines, the FBI is instructing high schools across the country to report students who criticize government policies and "western corruption" as potential future terrorists, warning that "anarchist extremists" are in the same category as ISIS and young people who are poor, immigrants or travel to "suspicious" countries are more likely to commit horrific violence.

Based on the widely unpopular British "anti-terror" mass surveillance program, the FBI's "Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools" guidelines, released in January, are almost certainly designed to single out and target Muslim-American communities. However, in its caution to avoid the appearance of discrimination, the agency identifies risk factors that are so broad and vague that virtually any young person could be deemed dangerous and worthy of surveillance, especially if she is socio-economically marginalized or politically outspoken.

This overwhelming threat is then used to justify a massive surveillance apparatus, wherein educators and pupils function as extensions of the FBI by watching and informing on each other.

Public Intelligence Blog, The Ultimate Hack – Resilient Villages, Smart Cities, Prosperous Nations at Peace — and Unlimited Clean Water, Robert Steele, March 6, 2016. This briefing has been prepared for the BRICS + Indonesia and Iran -- and other nations such as Brunei, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates -- as a means of fostering a conversation about the future of Earth and humanity -- there are solutions that are affordable, interoperable, and scalable.

March 5

Politico, Bernie's bounce-back weekend, Daniel Strauss, March 5, 2016. The Vermont senator could win three of the four states voting this weekend, which would give him some desperately needed momentum. After a Super Tuesday that proved to be something less than super for Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator is now poised to rattle off a handful of wins this weekend – an outcome that would inject a dose of desperately needed adrenaline into his campaign.

Three of the four states voting this weekend are in the Sanders sweet spot: Kansas, Maine, and Nebraska are caucus states with largely white populations. The one state where Sanders figures to perform poorly is Louisiana – which holds a primary election where African-Americans will cast roughly half the vote. A strong Sanders performance Hillary Clinton Buttonthis weekend won’t dramatically improve his chances of winning the Democratic nomination or close the delegate deficit he currently faces against Hillary Clinton. But a series of victories would provide a burst of momentum on the eve of the Michigan primary, a contest that the Sanders campaign has identified as pivotal.

Jersey Journal, Christie returns a political leper, Agustin C. Torres, March 5, 2016. With an approval rating under 30 percent, Chris Christie is a political leper. No one will go near him. He is seriously a lame duck, no matter how you interpret the term. Even when he was riding high, there was one person who loathed Christie more than anyone, and he has some knowledge at how state government works. I wondered what he was thinking about the governor these days. So I dialed up former Assemblyman and Jersey City native Louis Manzo.

Chris ChristieManzo had been indicted in 2009 as a result of the Operation Bid Rig III sting that saw the arrest of a large number of political figures on federal corruption charges. The loudest critic of the investigation, he walked out of federal court after a judge dropped all charges against him. The assemblyman was the first to say the whole operation was about helping Christie get elected governor. He wrote a book about the governor's appetite for political power and what he says are major character flaws in the man. The book is Ruthless Ambition and for a good portion of the presidential campaign season Manzo has been a guest on radio shows all over the country.

Louis Manzo Ruthless Ambition Cover"He is considered a lousy governor now when just in 2012, about Hurricane Sandy time, he was quite popular," Manzo reminded me. "Once he went for Trump, those editorials demanding he resign were written." Manzo said there's no way Christie will resign but that his role in government will be somewhat limited. "He will sit there and aggravate everyone," the former assemblyman said.  Manzo says that even an outgoing Christie can't be trusted, and it will be up to the leaders in the Legislature to police the governor.

"This is a person who could make life miserable for the next governor," said the Jersey City native. "He can leave a minefield; say a booby-trapped budget."

Washington Post, Behind the rise of Trump, long-standing grievances among left-out voters, Dan Balz, March 5, 2016. At the core of Donald Trump’s political success this year are the grievances of a sizable and now vocal block of disaffected voters, many of them white and working-class, and a Republican Party that has sought and benefited from their support while giving them almost nothing tangible in return. The New York businessman’s position as the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination has plunged the party into a contentious debate and raised some of the most troubling questions about its future since the Watergate scandal in 1974 or Barry Goldwater’s landslide defeat a decade previous.

March 4

Marco Rubio and Donald Trump at GOP Fox News Debate on March 3, 2016Marco Rubio and Donald Trump at GOP Fox News Debate on March 3, 2016 (via AP photo)

RealClear Politics, Trump on Defensive During Raucous GOP Debate, Tom Bevan, March 4, 2016. In a rollicking debate before a capacity crowd in Michigan – where Republicans will go to the polls Tuesday – 2016 GOP front-runner Donald Trump was on the defensive from the get-go Thursday night, fending off pointed questions from the Fox News moderators and sustained attacks from his rivals over his positions on immigration, taxes, gun control, national security, and his former business dealings.

The event in Detroit began, rather predictably, with a question for Trump about Mitt Romney’s broadside against him, launched earlier in the day from Utah. Trump was prepared, firing back that the 2012 GOP presidential candidate “failed miserably, and it was an embarrassment to everybody, including the Republican Party.”

Minutes later, however, Trump left jaws agape by reassuring the millions of viewers that Marco Rubio’s recent insinuation about the size of some of Trump’s body parts was completely unfounded. Over the course of the next two hours, Trump was forced to defend far more than the size of his manhood. A low point for Trump was a lengthy exchange over Trump University, the now defunct school he founded that is the subject of a class action lawsuit by former students who allege they were defrauded.

Reuters via Huffington Post, Republicans Struggle To Stop Donald Trump, Emily Flitter, March 4, 2016. The front-runner is set to extend his lead in contests in several states on Saturday. A plan to block Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump struggled to gain traction on Friday as rival candidates rejected it, while Democrats reveled in the chaos they hoped would boost their chances of keeping the White House.

The country's top elected Republican, House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, said he was not interested in an effort to draft him into the White House race. And U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a conservative presidential hopeful, ruled out a deal to pick a compromise Republican candidate at the party's July convention, which senior party figures see as their best chance to stop the unpredictable billionaire.

Ben CarsonRetired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (shown in file photo), the only candidate to ever challenge Trump's months-long lead in opinion polls, officially ended his White House bid. "There are a lot of people who love me, they just won't vote for me," Carson said in a speech at the CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, eld in National Harbor, Maryland.

TPM,The GOP's July Crisis, Josh Marshall, March 4, 2016. This was the first GOP debate where I saw them make Donald Trump bleed. I really don't know whether he 'won' or 'lost'. I suspect his support is too ingrained at this point to be easily shaken. But this time Rubio and Cruz and mainly the moderators knocked Trump off his stride.

It's not a matter of catching him in some logical contradiction or baloney answer. That's happened a hundred times and it's irrelevant. The issue is that his opponents are sharpening a number of attack lines that are commonsensical, direct and understandable: the scam of Trump University, importing foreign labor for the 'short season' at Mar-a-Lago. It's hard for him to smack people down on these attacks with a single broadside.

In part it's because these attacks are simple and understandable enough that he can't bank on people not knowing the details of the question or why the underlying substance might be important. People are also used to Trump's style by now. They're not silenced by the first rhetorical wallop. More than anything though, everybody on the stage tonight, including the moderators, but with partial exception of John Kasich, was openly and unabashedly out to get Trump.

Having said all this though, I come back to something I wrote after one of the earlier debates. Once Trump pulls you down to his level, even when you fight back, you're still down at his level. And he's better at this than you are.

Amnesty International, Turkey: Zaman newspaper taken over as government steamrolls press freedom, Staff report, March 4, 2016. Today’s government takeover of Zaman newspaper is the latest deeply troubling episode in the Turkish authorities’ ongoing onslaught on dissenting media, Amnesty International said today.

According to the state news agency Anadolu, at the request of the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, a court appointed trustees to take over the newspaper's management. “By lashing out and seeking to rein in critical voices, President Erdogan’s government is steamrolling over human rights,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey expert. “A free and independent media, together with the rule of law and independent judiciary, are the cornerstones of internationally guaranteed freedoms which are the right of everyone in Turkey.” Just last week, the TV channel IMCTV was taken off air, silencing the only national news channel reporting a counter view of the situation in south-eastern Turkey, where round-the-clock curfews were imposed as armed clashes devastated entire towns.

Bobby Jindal, right, lectures at the national Press Club with Jeb Bush looking on center (Photo by Noel St. John)

Washington Post, Battered by drop in oil prices and Jindal’s fiscal policies, Louisiana falls into budget crisis, Chico Harlan, March 4, 2016. Already, the state of Louisiana had gutted university spending and depleted its rainy-day funds. It had cut 30,000 employees and furloughed others. It had slashed the number of child services staffers, including those devoted to foster family recruitment, and young abuse victims for the first time were spending nights at government offices.

And then, the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards (D), came on TV and said the worst was yet to come. Edwards, in a prime-time address on Feb. 11, said he’d learned of “devastating facts” about the extent of the state’s budget shortfall and said that Louisiana was plunging into a “historic fiscal crisis.” Despite all the cuts of the previous years, the nation’s second-poorest state still needed nearly $3 billion — almost $650 per person — just to maintain its regular services over the next 16 months. Edwards  gave the state’s lawmakers three weeks to figure out a solution, a period that expires March 9 with no clear answer in reach.

Louisiana stands at the brink of economic disaster. Without sharp and painful tax increases in the coming weeks, the government will cease to offer many of its vital services, including education opportunities and certain programs for the needy. A few universities will shut down and declare bankruptcy. Graduations will be canceled. Students will lose scholarships. Select hospitals will close. Patients will lose funding for treatment of disabilities. Some reports of child abuse will go uninvestigated.

Politico, Obama to release drone 'playbook,' Josh Gerstein, March 4, 2016. The White House has agreed to release a redacted version of a policy President Barack Obama issued in 2013 laying out basic principles for the lethal U.S. drone operations overseas. The administration disclosed its plans to release the Presidential Policy Guidance document in a court filing Friday in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.

In May 2013, the White House released a fact sheet about the Obama directive but refused to release any portion of the actual memo. Last month, Manhattan-based U.S. District Court Judge Colleen MacMahon issued an order requiring the Justice Department to produce the PPG document (sometimes called the Playbook), as well as two others, for in-camera review by her.

Supporters of anti-government rancher Cliven Bundy rally in his support during a 2014 standoff against the federal government (Photo via YouTube)Supporters of rancher Cliven Bundy rally in his support during a 2014 standoff against the federal government (Photo via YouTube), Feds Arrest Budy Supporters In Six States, Staff report, March 4, 2016. (Image above via YouTube). The federal government took action against supporters of Cliven Bundy on Thursday. Two of Bundy’s sons, David Harold Bundy and Melvin D. Bundy, were arrested by federal agents. Two other sons, Ammond and Ryan Bundy, were arrested by the feds on January 26 after LaVoy Finicum was killed by Cliven Bundy Mullnomah County Sheriff's Officethe government during the non-violent occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Cliven Bundy (shown in a police photo) was arrested on February 10 in Portland, Oregon.

A federal indictment names the elder Bundy as the leader and beneficiary of the “conspiracy” to prevent the government from seizing cattle near the Bundy ranch in Nevada in April 2014. Bureau of Land Management officials backed down after public backlash.

The arrest of 12 people in six states followed a grand jury indictment in Nevada’s U.S. District Court on Wednesday. The indictment charges the Bundy supporters with conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer, weapon use and possession, assault on a federal officer, threatening a federal law enforcement officer, obstruction of justice, extortion to interfere with commerce and interstate travel in aid of extortion.

Huffington Post, Justice Scalia's Greatest Failure, Geoffrey R. Stone, March 4, 2016. First popularized by Robert Bork and Antonin Scalia in the early 1980s, originalism posits that courts should exercise judicial restraint unless the "original meaning" of the text clearly mandates a less deferential analysis.

March 3

Mitt RomneyWashington Post, Romney calls Trump a ‘fraud,’ says he is playing voters for ‘suckers,’ Ed O'Keefe, March 3, 2016. There is little precedent for Mitt Romney’s remarks: Never before in modern political history has the immediate past nominee of a party delivered an entire speech condemning the current front-runner. In remarks delivered today, the 2012 presidential nominee called on fellow Republicans to reject the businessman's candidacy in an election that will have "profound consequences" for the GOP and the country. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, delivered a sharp broadside against Donald Trump today, slamming the GOP's leading candidate as pandemonium sweeps the party.

In a forceful, top-to-bottom indictment of Trump, Romney called on fellow Republicans to reject the billionaire businessman's candidacy in an election "that will have profound consequences for the Republican Party and more importantly, for the country."

"Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud," Romney said, according to a speech prepared for delivery Thursday morning at the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics. "His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He's playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat."

Tax Wall Street Party, Historical breakup of the Republican Party, Webster G. Tarpley, March 3, 2016. In the wake of the Super Tuesday primaries, public attention is shifting towards the immediate perspective of a breakup of the Republican Party, a political institution which has been in existence for more than a century and a half. These dire predictions are being generated first of all by Donald Trump’s initial refusal to repudiate the support of David Duke, the well-known racist scoundrel and “former” leader of the infamous Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Many Republicans realize that it is political suicide to be seen cavorting in public with this organization devoted to lynchings, arson, and other forms of domestic terrorism.

Bernie Sanders with University of Chicago President George Beadle Danny Lyon photoAt right, University of Chicago President George Beadle addresses a Congress of Racial Equality meeting about housing sit-ins. Student Bernie Sanders, standing at right, was a member of CORE's steering committee. The photo is courtesy of the Danny Lyon / Special Collections Research Center at the University of Chicago Library.

WhoWhatWhy, How Clinton Media Machine Blocked Sanders Civil Rights Play, Russ Baker, March 3, 2016. Bernie Sanders’s candidacy has been set back by strong black support for Hillary Clinton. One reason is that the black community has never really heard the full story of Sanders’s civil rights commitment — or been given a chance to fully compare his record against Clinton’s. That’s by design.

Truthout, Blowback: Donald Trump Is the Price We Pay for the "War on Terror," Mike Lofgren, March 3, 2016. The "war on terror" is the longest continuous war in US history. Taxpayers have ponied up over $4 trillion to wage it. Yet the consensus of our intelligence community is that we are more in danger than ever. Did we spend more than $4 trillion to make ourselves less safe? Let us unpack the contradictions.

Voters in the Republican primary in South Carolina declared terrorism to be their foremost concern, eclipsing a stagnant, low-wage economy; deteriorating living standards leading to an actual increase in the death rate of GOP voters' core demographic; and the most expensive and least available health care in the "developed" world. The operatives of the national security state must have been rubbing their hands with glee: Through relentless conditioning, their agenda is now the creed of a numerically significant and highly motivated segment of the electorate.

But there was a flaw in their calculation. Those voters who felt most strongly about terrorism chose Donald Trump, who comfortably won the primary. The national security state, which is a subset of the corporate state, doesn't want Trump. They prefer to maintain the present corporate oligarchy that offers a façade of democratic process by putting forward safe, obedient, pre-programmed candidates. Since the "war of terror" began, this charade has worked rather efficiently: Bush or Kerry, Obama or McCain, Obama or Romney. And this year it was to be Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton. Or, in a pinch, a second-stringer like Marco Rubio.

Politico, Rubio’s path to an outright win has vanished, Shane Goldmacher, March 3, 2016. Marco Rubio’s path to the Republican nomination short of a contested convention has narrowed to nearly nothing as his Marco Rubio Buttoncampaign and allies reboot their strategy to prepare for months of guerrilla warfare to deny Donald Trump a clean, pre-convention victory. The math for Rubio is daunting. After getting thoroughly routed on Super Tuesday, Rubio is in so deep a delegate hole that he would now need to win roughly two-thirds of all the remaining delegates to guarantee his nomination ahead of Cleveland, according to a POLITICO analysis.

So far Rubio has secured somewhere between 110 and 115 delegates — a mere 15 percent of those available. Trump has 335, and Cruz is carrying 234 after his Super Tuesday wins. (Kasich, with only two dozen or so delegates, has virtually no pathway, either.)

At a briefing for donors and bundlers held Tuesday at the campaign’s Washington, D.C., headquarters, campaign manager Terry Sullivan focused heavily on Rubio’s delegate-gathering convention scenarios, to the dismay of some supporters.

New York Times, Key G.O.P. Senator in Court Fight Gets Tough Election Foe, Jennifer Steinhauer, March 3, 2016 Patty Judge, a former Iowa lieutenant governor, is expected to announce her challenge this weekend to Charles Grassley, who has refused to consider an Obama choice for the Supreme Court.

OpEdNews, The Revenge of the Lower Classes and the Rise of American Fascism, Chris Hedges, March 3, 2016. Democrats are playing a very dangerous game by anointing Hillary Clinton as their presidential candidate. She epitomizes the double-dealing of the college-educated elites, those who speak the feel-your-pain language of ordinary men and women, who hold up the bible of political correctness, while selling out the poor and the working class to corporate power. 

College-educated elites, on behalf of corporations, carried out the savage neoliberal assault on the working poor. Now they are being made to pay. Their duplicity -- embodied in politicians such as Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- succeeded for decades. These elites, many from East Coast Ivy League schools, spoke the language of values -- civility, inclusivity, a condemnation of overt racism and bigotry, a concern for the middle class -- while thrusting a knife into the back of the underclass for their corporate masters. This game has ended.

There are tens of millions of Americans, especially lower-class whites, rightfully enraged at what has been done to them, their families and their communities. They have risen up to reject the neoliberal policies and political correctness imposed on them by college-educated elites from both political parties: Lower-class whites are embracing an American fascism.

These Americans want a kind of freedom -- a freedom to hate. Fascist movements build their base not from the politically active but the politically inactive, the "losers" who feel, often correctly, they have no voice or role to play in the political establishment. There is only one way left to blunt the yearning for fascism coalescing around Trump. It is to build, as fast as possible, movements or parties that declare war on corporate power, engage in sustained acts of civil disobedience and seek to reintegrate the disenfranchised -- the "losers" -- back into the economy and political life of the country. This movement will never come out of the Democratic Party.

If Clinton prevails in the general election, Trump may disappear, but the fascist sentiments will expand. 

Washington Post, ‘D.C. Madam’ lawyer starts fund to unseal records ‘relevant’ to the election, Emily Heil, March 3, 2016. Montgomery Blair Sibley likened himself to Paul Revere in his quest to unseal his late client’s phone records.

Zero Hedge, Ukraine Bans Criticism Of The Government, Tyler Durden, March 3, 2016. Soidifying its transition into a complete banana republic, on Tuesday Ukraine banned government officials from publicly criticizing the work of state institutions and their colleagues, after what Reuters reported was "damaging disclosures last month that highlighted slow progress in fighting corruption."

Washington Post, Pandemonium in the GOP: Some embrace Trump while others rush to stop him, Matea Gold, Philip Rucker and Tom Hamburger, March 3, 2016. Top GOP strategists, donors lay plans for blitz Greg Palast file photoagainst Trump. The Republican Party was in a state of pandemonium as independent groups and top GOP figures including Mitt Romney scrambled to throw together a last-ditch effort to deny Donald Trump the presidential nomination, even as some party figures concluded it was now too late to stop the billionaire mogul.

In a flurry of conference calls and meetings, top Republican donors and strategists laid plans for a multimillion-dollar assault on the front-runner in a series of states holding contests on March 15. Ground zero is Florida, where home-state Sen. Marco Rubio, the leading establishment candidate, is going all in to defeat Trump, who leads in the polls there.

But other Republicans yielded to Trump after he swept seven out of 11 states on Tuesday, the biggest day of balloting yet. Alex Castellanos, a veteran media consultant who earlier in the season had tried unsuccessfully to organize an anti-Trump campaign, said, “A fantasy effort to stop Trump . . . exists only as the denial stage of grief.”

Washington Post, Pandemonium in the GOP: Some embrace Trump while others rush to stop him, Matea Gold, Philip Rucker and Tom Hamburger, March 3, 2016. Top GOP strategists, donors lay plans for blitz against Trump. The Republican Party was in a state of pandemonium as independent groups and top GOP figures including Mitt Romney scrambled to throw together a last-ditch effort to deny Donald Trump the presidential nomination, even as some party figures concluded it was now too late to stop the billionaire mogul.

In a flurry of conference calls and meetings, top Republican donors and strategists laid plans for a multimillion-dollar assault on the front-runner in a series of states holding contests on March 15. Ground zero is Florida, where home-state Sen. Marco Rubio, the leading establishment candidate, is going all in to defeat Trump, who leads in the polls there.

But other Republicans yielded to Trump after he swept seven out of 11 states on Tuesday, the biggest day of balloting yet. Alex Castellanos, a veteran media consultant who earlier in the season had tried unsuccessfully to organize an anti-Trump campaign, said, “A fantasy effort to stop Trump . . . exists only as the denial stage of grief.”

Justice Integrity Project Election Overview: Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton scored strong victories in most of the 11 Super Tuesday presidential nomination contents March 1, with Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Bernie Sanders (D-VT) winning their home states and at least two other states apiece.

Hillary ClintonCruz won also Oklahoma and Alaska.

In addition to Vermont, Sanders won also in Oklahoma, Minnesota and Colorado and lost narrowly in Massachusetts. But he lost big to Clinton in Southern states with big African-American voting blocs. Although funded well enough to continue the race for months, his upside appears increasingly to be merely build a movement pressuring for progressive policies within the Democratic Party or to be poised to compete again for the nomination in the unlikely event that the Democratic Obama administration indicts Clinton for her email usage and Democrats need a stand-in.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was a big loser, despite winning his first contest in the caucus state of Minnesota. Far more important than the scattered Trump losses, his four remaining competitors can each find reasons to continue, thereby splitting the anti-Trump vote for the next few crucial weeks of the campaign while he continues to rack up delegates and other momentum. For example, Rubio finished just below the 20 percent level in several states, which deprived him of any delegates (and thus bragging rights) in those places, including delegate-rich Texas and also Alabama.

Even more significantly, several prominent conservative pundits predicted Trump's ongoing successes could signal a break-up of the current Republican Party into different factions. These predictors included the neo-con Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, a fierce Trump opponent along with most of her fellow Republican colleagues at the paper. On Fox News, host Megyn Kelly and her more senior colleague Brit Hume seriously pondered Rubin's prediction. Hume suggested that Trump was making unification gestures in his victory speech March 1 that sent promising signals for Republican unification but could be thwarted by a desire for remaining candidates to stay in the race too long.

To review the possibility of Clinton's indictment with political realism as well as legally, a problem for prosecutors within the Justice Department is that many of the sensitive emails for Clinton were sent to her as Secretary of State without proper classification procedures -- and thus any indictments might reasonably have to include non-Clinton colleagues in an unprecedented and ever-widening net. Additionally, some her GOLP predecessors also used private email services without proper classification procedures, thus complicating a prosecution that her rivals suggest would be easy on charges of communicating over unsecure systems.

South Front via Global Research, Video: The European Crisis: The Dutch EU-Ukraine Association Agreement Referendum, Staff report, March 3, 2016. Europe is continuing to get bogged down in a political swamp. Contradictions between the national interests of the EU member states and the political course of a supranational bureaucracy have turned into a phase of sharp struggle.

March 2

Washington Post, Ben Carson tells supporters he sees no ‘path forward’ for presidential campaign, Robert Costa and Ben Terris, March 2, 2016. Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who briefly led the Ben CarsonRepublican presidential race before his campaign began an extended public implosion, told his supporters in a statement Wednesday afternoon that he does not see a “path forward” and will not attend Thursday’s debate in Detroit.

But Carson did not formally suspend his campaign. Instead, he said in the statement that he has decided to make a speech about his political future on Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, just outside Washington. The announcement served as an acknowledgment that Carson’s candidacy is all but over following a disappointing showing in the 11 states that held contests on Tuesday. The decision follows months of candidate stumbles, staff infighting and strategy shifts derailing what had once appeared to be an unstoppable journey to conservative superstardom. It also marks the coming departure of the only high profile African American candidate in the 2016 presidential race.

Mediaite, The Internet’s Dumbest Rumor, About Marco Rubio’s Sexuality, Continues to Swell, Staff report, March 2, 2016. Last week, the campaign caricatures Lynette “Diamond” Hardaway and Rochelle “Silk” Richardson — known affectionately by their moniker the “Stump for Trump” Girls — very casually told CNN’s Carol Costello that Florida Senator Marco Rubio “may have had a gay lifestyle in his past.” Costello looked horrified at the on-air quasi-accusation, seemingly based on absolutely nothing of substance. They even recommended that she just “Google it.”

Where does the genesis of this notion come from? So we well, Googled it, among other things. Rubio is, after all, a father of four, the husband of a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader, a devout Roman Catholic, not to mention a member of the party most aligned with traditional views of marriage. Why look any further than Alex Jones‘ InfoWars. Yesterday’s headline on the site blared: REPORT: RUBIO “VERY EXTROVERTED HOMOSEXUAL” DURING COLLEGE YEARS. InfoWars correspondent Wayne Madsen asserts, “There is a low-level murmur in the media about Rubio’s rather ‘gayish’ past.”

Texas Tribune, Travis County GOP Apoplectic Over New Chairman, Jordan Rudner, March 2, 2016. (Photo: Robert Morrow via YouTube screenshot). Author Robert Morrow was elected chairman of the Travis Co. Republican Party Robert Morrow via YouTubeon March 1, 2016. Morrow’s election as Republican chair of the fifth-largest county in Texas left several members of the Travis County GOP, including vice chair Matt Mackowiak, apoplectic. Mackowiak, a Republican strategist, immediately announced over social media that he would do everything in his power to remove Morrow from office.

Roger Stone Hillary Clinton "War on Women" Cover“We will explore every single option that exists, whether it be persuading him to resign, trying to force him to resign, constraining his power, removing his ability to spend money or resisting any attempt for him to access data or our social media account,” Mackowiak told the Tribune. “I’m treating this as a coup and as a hostile takeover.”

“Tell them they can go fuck themselves,” Morrow told the Tribune.

The Travis County GOP, which operates in one of the most liberal counties in the state, nonetheless is the local party for a number of prominent Texas Republicans, including Gov. Greg Abbott. The county party’s responsibilities include running elections and precinct conventions and working to elect Republicans at the local level. Mackowiak said he was especially uncomfortable with the prospect of Morrow engaging in local politics, the core function of the job to which Morrow was just elected.

Although Morrow (co-author with Roger Stone of The Clintons' War on Women last fall) was elected with just more than 25,000 votes — 6,000 more than his one challenger, the incumbent chair James Dickey — Mackowiak said he and others would consider leaving the county party altogether to form a new Republican organization if they could not remove Morrow from office.

Information Clearing House, The New Mind Control,  Robert Epstein, March 2, 2016.The internet has spawned subtle forms of influence that can flip elections and manipulate everything we say, think and do. In the non-fiction bestseller The Hidden Persuaders (1957) – recently released in a 50th-anniversary edition – the American journalist Vance Packard described a ‘strange and rather exotic’ type of influence that was rapidly emerging in the United States and that was, in a way, more threatening than the fictional types of control pictured in the novels. According to Packard, US corporate executives and politicians were beginning to use subtle and, in many cases, completely undetectable methods to change people’s thinking, emotions and behavior based on insights from psychiatry and the social sciences.

The forces that Packard described have become more pervasive over the decades. Most of the vacuous thoughts and intense feelings our teenagers experience from morning till night are carefully orchestrated by highly skilled marketing professionals working in our fashion and entertainment industries. Politicians work with a wide range of consultants who test every aspect of what the politicians do in order to sway voters.

It might surprise you to hear this, but these things have already happened. Google decides which web pages to include in search results, and how to rank them. How it does so is one of the best-kept secrets in the world, like the formula for Coca-Cola.

Svenska Dagbladet (SVD) (Swedish daily newspaper), When reality Salander sold out to Sapo, Sam Sundberg, March 2, 2016. (Translated by Google, with JIP editorial additions). Have you heard rustling in powerful stereo from the political perimeter? It is the sound of quivering extremists. Outer Edge Rabulist Erna has every reason to be nervous, because one of the more nationally famous left activists, Martin Fredriksson, released the day a bomb in social media. In a groovy Twitter slaying, he reveals that he was for many years, during a time when he has been active in the Antifascist Action and Research Group, has also been paid Sapo informant.

Martin Fredriksson WikimediaFredriksson (shown in a file photo) is best known as co-founder in the journalist community of the Research Group, which conducted an extensive digging job of the right-wing's digital activities. In cooperation with the Expressen and Aftonbladet newspapers, he has revealed the anonymous authors of racist sites Exposed, Free Times and Avpixlat and hateful writers on the web forum Flashback. For a collaboration with Expressen, Fredriksson, along with five colleagues in the Research Group, has been awarded the guldspaden, one of Sweden's greatest prizes for investigative journalism. He has also worked as a researcher for Robert Aschberg TV show "Insider."

During the 2000s, Fredriksson spied on the extreme right as a part of the left group Antifascist Action Intelligence. In other words, he is one of those who had the best insight into the activity on both the political front flanks of the past decade. By his own account, it was only the investigations of violent right-wing that he handed over to the Security Service. But it is clear from the comments in social media that even his former allies now shivering.

In the activist groups where Martin Fredriksson thrived, there is a general revulsion against the idea of collaborating with the security police, but also a nervousness that Fredriksson may have leaked information about their own activities. Several of Fredriksson's old colleagues have now hurried to distance themselves from him, including the Research Group. On their website ,they write that SAPO-cooperation took place before the group was formed. But that is not consistent with Fredriksson's own Twitter confession, in which he writes that the second period of the collaboration occurred in 2009 - 2010. The Research Group was formed in autumn 2009.

Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde asks on Twitter openly why he should trust that Fredriksson has not leaked chat logs to the Security Service. (Fredriksson was also active in the early Piracy Bay effort) and follows up with an allusion to the saying "Golare [a squealer] has no buddies."

"Golare etc. Good luck with the loneliness. "

According to Martin Fredriksson, this is why he describes himself as a former Security Service agent, saying he wants to do away with his past and get a more normal life: "I am transparent about this and tell you now, even though I did not directly profit from it."

It is true that he hardly makes up some friends and with this, he says. On the other hand, he is writing a book about its history: The thrilling documentary thriller about the struggle between violence left and right violence, and when reality Salander sold out to SAPO.

With the right agent (a literary one), it will be a bestseller.

March 1

Kathleen KaneAt right, file photo of State Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who discussed the rape and molestation charges against at least 50 priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Grand jury: Altoona diocese concealed sex abuse of hundreds of children by priests, Peter Smith, March 1, 2016. After the tolling of the noon hour Tuesday at the magnificent domed Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, whose towering perch above this historic railroad town reflects the Catholic Church’s long powerful presence in central Pennsylvania, the Rev. Dennis Kurdziel left little doubt for whom the bell tolled.

“Pray for the victims,” said Father Kurdziel in a somber noontime Mass, held less than two hours after the release of a state grand jury report finding that hundreds of children were abused by at least 50 priests and others associated with the church in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown across nearly half a century. “Pray for your bishop,” added Father Kurdziel, associate pastor of the cathedral. “Pray for your priests. I need your prayers. Ask for God’s help, even on this very ugly day.”

And with that, the congregation of several dozen bowed in extended silent prayer before resuming the Mass liturgy. Across town at the Blair County Convention Center, authorities were releasing a catalog of horrors in a 147-page report by the 37th Statewide Investigating Grand jury, which spent nearly two years delving into the case.
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Hundreds of children were molested, raped and destined to lasting psychological trauma by clerics whose abuses were covered up by their bishops, other superiors and even compliant law-enforcement officials in Blair and Cambria counties, the report said. The conspiracy amounted to “soul murder,” the report said, with abuse happening everywhere from camps and homes to the historic cathedral itself. That description echoes that of similar grand jury probes into the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 2005 and 2011 that found cardinals and other clerics shifted numerous known abusers from one unsuspecting parish to another.

Columbia Journalism Review, The world according to Russ Baker, Neal Gabler, March 1, 2016. You meet Russ Baker at The Smith, a busy watering hole in the East Village Russ Bakerwith bustling waitresses and rattling dishes. Baker (shown in a file photo) doesn’t do his work at this particular restaurant, but he does write stories and edit pieces for his aggressively anti-establishment website, WhoWhatWhy, at other Village hangouts, which is just one indication of how his career has changed since he first became a journalist.

For most of his career, he has been a mainstream journalist writing for mainstream publications like The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and the Village Voice. But WhoWhatWhy is an entirely different animal. It purports to take readers beneath the news—“deep politics,” Baker calls it—and highlight a vast, secret nexus of power and money that Baker says the mainstream media dare not reveal because they are entwined in that same nexus. Arrayed across the top of WhoWhatWhy are some familiar leftish topics — War & Peace, Threats to Democracy, Big Money, and Earth — along with one heading dedicated to the presidential race and a catchall titled Mindscape. The site’s slogan reads, “We don’t cover the news. We uncover the truth.”

“When people ask me, `Who are you like?’ I say, `We’re not like anybody.’ ” Supporters and detractors alike might call WhoWhatWhy rabid in its pursuit of that truth.

Middle East Eye, 'Plan B' and the bankruptcy of US Syria policy, Gareth Porter, March 1, 2016. The 'Plan B' episode shows another moment of failed US policymaking on the Syrian crisis, revealing a familiar pattern of deep division. US Secretary of State John Kerry provoked widespread speculation when he referred in testimony before the Foreign Relations Committee last week to “significant discussions” within US President Barack Obama's administration about a “Plan B” in Syria. The speculation was further stoked by a “senior official” who told CBS News that options under consideration included "'military-like' measures that would make it harder for the regime and its allies to continue their assault on civilians and US-backed rebels.” 

The Indicter, Olof Palme and Julian Assange subjected in Sweden to same hate campaign by the same political forces and with the same purpose: to defend U.S. geopolitical interests, Professor Marcello Ferrada Marcello Ferrada de Nolide Noli (shown in photo), March edition (released Feb. 28, 2016). Today, the 28th of February 2016, the world is mourning the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Olof Palme, the honourable PM of Sweden. The Swedish media and a variety of early authorities and representatives of Sweden’s power and cultural elites have been during the last weeks unanimous on this: The assassination took place in the frame of a hate campaign against him, and where Olof Palme was constantly subjected to libelous personal attacks.

However, what that media and politicians who professed frank animosity against Palme’s anti-imperialist stances do not say is that it was they who promoted and/or echoed such a hate campaign. Months ago, a politician of name Jörgen Olsen and belonging of the same organization as Carl Bildt and Ulf Adelsohn wrote in Facebook, “Palme was a repulsive person.” That is The Indicterthe terms used by former Social Minister Göran Haglund when referring to Assange.

Martin Klepke, a reporter formerly working at the Swedish newspaper Expressen, told in 2014 that he heard colleagues at his working place in Expressen discussing in serious terms whether Olof Palme “should go voluntarily or forced out by means of military power.” That was the time when Olof Palme had in unambiguous terms denounced the bombing of Hanoi civilian population by the U.S. and criticized the occupation war in Vietnam.

Nevertheless, the Swedish police disregarded eyewitness reports from the very same evening of the murder of Palme which identified a U.S. agent at the time working for Pinochet’s infamous DINA – the secret security agency set up to assassinate opposition leaders abroad. Olof Palme was the only foreign dignitary who was listed in the death list of Operation Condor.