June 2016 News Reports


 

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

June 30

Politico, Former CIA chief Hayden: Trump will have to bring own bucket to waterboard, Nick Gass, June 30, 2016. When it comes to Donald Trump's repeated calls for waterboarding and other forms of enhanced interrogation, Michael Hayden, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, has been clear: The military would likely ignore his orders. But the retired four-star general who served as CIA director under both President George W. Bush and Barack Obama said Thursday that if Trump wants to waterboard suspected terrorists, he will have to bring his own bucket.

Michael HaydenIn an interview with “CBS This Morning,” Hayden (shown in a file photo) criticized Trump's language following terrorist attacks by the Islamic State that “in essence” represented a “tactical success for our enemy” but that Trump “elevated ... to this realm where they can claim strategic success.”

When co-anchor Norah O'Donnell referred to Hayden’s past comment that the next president or next CIA director would have to bring his own bucket to interrogate in such a situation, Hayden affirmed that Trump would have to do as much if he wanted to bring back the tactic.

“Yeah. Look, this is one of those instances coming out of the [National Security Council] meeting, you’d say, look, we are kind of changing the game plan. We got the attorney general to agree to an interpretation of the one law that does make it illegal, and we want you guys to go do this,” Hayden explained. “At that point, the director is going to have to man up and simply say, for the protection of my officers, I'm afraid, Mr. President, I cannot direct that.”

Reuters via Huffington Post, Istanbul Bombers Were Russian, Uzbek, Kyrgyz Nationals, Turkish Official Says, Humeyra Pamuk and Daren Butler, June 30, 2016. Three suspected Islamic State suicide bombers who killed 42 people in a gun and bomb attack at Istanbul airport this week were from Russia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, a Turkish government official said on Thursday.

Flag of TurkeyThe pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper said the Russian bomber was from Dagestan, which borders Chechnya, where Moscow has led two wars against separatists and religious militants since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Yeni Safak said the organizer of the attack was suspected to be a man called Akhmed Chatayev, of Chechen origin. Chatayev is identified on a United Nations sanctions list as a leader in Islamic State responsible for training Russian-speaking militants, and as wanted by Russian authorities. The Hurriyet newspaper named one of the attackers as Osman Vadinov, also Chechen, and said he had come from Raqqa, the heart of Islamic State-controlled territory in Syria.

United Kingdom flagWashington Post, Former London mayor Boris Johnson says he will not run for British prime minister, Griff Witte​, June 30, 2016. In shocking turnaround, Boris Johnson will not run for British P.M. Johnson (shown below in a file photo), a leader of the "leave" movement, made his announcement minutes before the deadline to enter the race.

Boris JohnsonEarlier in the day Michael Gove, who had been expected to serve as Johnson’s campaign manager, surprised the political establishment by announcing he would enter the fray.  As the “leave” camp split, Theresa May presented herself as a “unity” candidate who, despite backing “remain,” could bring together the badly fractured Conservative Party.

Mirror (London), Boris Johnson did not make a noble sacrifice; He threw in the towel because he was beaten, Kevin Maguire, June 30, 2016. Michael Gove knifed him in the front and the back, leaving BoJo another victim of the referendum blast he helped detonate. Decades of ruthless blond ambition were destroyed in a single 'Et tu Michael' moment, his ally and traitorous fellow Brexit Boy Michael Gove knifing Johnson in the front and the back.

Johnson’s priority was always Johnson, from Eton to Oxford University and the posh Hooray’s Bullingdon Club, then The Times (sacked for fabricating quotes) and Daily Telegraph, before moving on to the Spectator and Parliament with an eight-year diversion to London City Hall. Johnson too has now won in Europe then lost an election by pulling out of the Tory leadership race to avoid humiliation.

Gove, no better than the worst best friend he’s just taken out, highlighted Johnson’s untrustworthiness in his damning statement. Johnson’s old Telegraph editor Max Hastings admitted he wouldn’t trust his former scribe with his wife or his wallet and it seems the MPs and Cabinet Ministers who know the one-time hopeful best actually respect him least.

Don’t feel sorry for Johnson. He is conceited, not half as clever as he thinks and quite frankly not up to the Downing Street job. The joke is on the joker.

Guardian, Iran covertly recruits Afghan Shias to fight in Syria, Sune Engel Rasmussen and Zahra Nader, June 30, 2016. Shia men from Afghanistan are coaxed into war to support Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, Guardian investigation reveals.

Washington Post, Obama proposes new military partnership with Russia in Syria, Josh Rogan, June 30, 2016. The Obama administration has proposed a new agreement on Syria to the Russian government that would deepen military cooperation between the two countries against some terrorists in exchange for Russia getting the Assad regime to stop bombing U.S.-supported rebels.

The United States transmitted the text of the proposed agreement to the Russian government on Monday after weeks of negotiations and internal Obama administration deliberations, an administration official told me. The crux of the deal is a U.S. promise to join forces with the Russian air force to share targeting and coordinate an expanded bombing campaign against Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, which is primarily fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Politico, Lewandowski loses $1.2 million book deal, Trump’s ousted campaign manager had a big offer from HarperCollins, but declined to provide a copy of his non-disclosure agreement, Kenneth P. Vogel and Hadas Gold, June 30, 2016. Corey Lewandowski had a $1.2-million offer from HarperCollins to write a book chronicling his time running Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, but the publishing giant backed away from the deal amid concerns about Lewandowski’s nondisclosure agreement, according to two sources familiar with the talks.

Lewandowski, working through a California-based representative named Robert Stryk, began soliciting offers for a book, tentatively titled Let Trump be Trump, from multiple publishers in March, while he was working as Trump’s campaign manager, according to one of the sources, a Republican operative. A source in the publishing industry said Lewandowski’s representative received at least some interest from as many as five publishing houses, but that, in several cases, there was concern about how his nondisclosure agreement might affect any resulting book.

On Tuesday, Lewandowski said, “I’m not shopping a book deal,” and that he doesn’t have an agent doing so on his behalf. “I would negotiate my own deal if I was looking for one.”

June 29

New York Times, Trump Institute Used Plagiarized Real Estate Lessons, Jonathan Martin, June 29, 2016. Plagiarized Lessons and Deceptive Tactics: A Look Inside the Trump Institute. In 2005, he lent his name to a venture, the Trump Institute, that promised falsely that he had handpicked its teachers. In 2005, as he was making a transition from developing real estate to capitalizing on his fame through ventures like a reality show and product-licensing deals, Donald J. Trump hit upon a two-pronged strategy for entering the field of for-profit education.

Donald Trump button open mouthHe poured his own money into Trump University, which began as a distance-learning business advising customers on how to make money in real estate, but left a long trail of customers alleging they were defrauded. Their lawsuits have cast a shadow over Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.

But Mr. Trump also lent his name, and his credibility, to a seminar business he did not own, which was branded the Trump Institute. Its operators rented out hotel ballrooms across the country and invited people to pay up to $2,000 to come hear Mr. Trump’s “wealth-creating secrets and strategies.” And its customers had ample reason to ask whether they, too, had been deceived.

As with Trump University, the Trump Institute promised falsely that its teachers would be handpicked by Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump did little, interviews show, besides appear in an infomercial — one that promised customers access to his vast accumulated knowledge. “I put all of my concepts that have worked so well for me, new and old, into our seminar,” he said in the 2005 video, adding, “I’m teaching what I’ve learned.”

Reality fell far short. In fact, the institute was run by a couple who had run afoul of regulators in dozens of states and been dogged by accusations of deceptive business practices and fraud for decades. Similar complaints soon emerged about the Trump Institute.

Huffington Post, Why The New Child Rape Case Filed Against Donald Trump Should Not Be Ignored, Lisa Bloom, June 29, 2016. An anonymous “Jane Doe” filed a federal lawsuit against GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump last week, accusing him of raping her in 1994 when she was thirteen years old. The mainstream media ignored the filing. If the Bill Cosby case has taught us anything, it is to not disregard rape cases against famous men. Serious journalists have publicly apologized for turning a blind eye to the Cosby accusers for over a decade, notwithstanding the large number of women who had come forward with credible claims. And now history is repeating itself.

In covering a story, a media outlet is not finding guilt. It is simply reporting the news that a lawsuit has been filed against Mr. Trump, and ideally putting the complaint in context. Unproven allegations are just that - unproven, and should be identified that way. (Mr. Trump’s lawyer says the charges are “categorically untrue, completely fabricated and politically motivated.”) Proof comes later, at trial. But the November election will come well before any trial. And while Mr. Trump is presumed innocent, we are permitted - no, we are obligated — to analyze the case’s viability now.

Huffington Post, The Senate Is About To Anger Vulture Funds And Help Puerto Rico, Laura Barron-Lopez, June 29, 2016. With two days left before Puerto Rico defaults on a sizable portion of a $2 billion debt payment, the Senate on Wednesday passed legislation that will stave off the creditors and hedge funds now circling the island.

The bill — which will establish an oversight board to aid Puerto Rico in restructuring its $70 billion in debt — comes too late to prevent the commonwealth from defaulting on a payment due July 1. But it will put an immediate pause on any lawsuits filed against the island for what would amount to roughly a year and half.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin with ISIS backdrop (Press TV image/DCMA)

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin with ISIS backdrop (Press TV image via DCMA)

SouthFront, Russia to Restore Ties with Turkey, Lift Tourism Restrictions despite “Growing Terror Threat,” Staff report, June 29, 2016. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has ordered the government to launch the process of restoring cooperation with Turkey after phone conversation with his Turkey counterpart. “The Russian leader said that he would instruct the government to start negotiations with the Turkish Russian Flagauthorities to restore the mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation in trade, economic and other areas,” the Kremlin said on June 29.

Additionally, Putin instructed the government to lift tourism-related restrictions against Turkey, expressing hope that Turkish authorities will take the so-called “additional measures” to ensure safety of Russian nationals.  “Although this announcement is being made amid growing terror threat, we will lift the administrative restrictions in this sphere [tourism], and I am asking the government of the Russian Federation to begin the process of normalizing trade and economic relations with Turkey,” Putin noted at a government meeting.

Flag of TurkeyIt’s clear that Putin’s orders are a political move aimed to show the progress in the expected normalization. However, the decision to lift tourism-related restrictions against Turkey next day after a bloody terror attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport (40+ people killed and 230+ injured) looks at least questionable.

The Kremlin’s press service added that the Russian and Turkish presidents underscored the need to bolster “international cooperation in the fight against terrorism.” The dramatic imporvement of the cooperation in this sphere is also very questionable because the both countries have different views on the solution of the conflict in Syria where the terrorist threat is especially high due to constant efforts of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the USA.

SouthFront, Aleppo on the Verge of Recapture, Brian Betts, June 29, 2016. Aleppo has been a central theater of the Syrian Conflict since its early days in 2012. Today, Aleppo has become a chaotic mixture of criminal infighting and assassinations set against the creeping shadow of the Islamic State. As the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) ground force and Russian air power is brought to bear against the roiling turmoil that is Aleppo, the last hand for peace has been extended and summarily withdrawn. With the capture of Aleppo imminent, this article looks back at how the battle has progressed.

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 fighting rebels and terrorists March 21, 2016 (SANA Photo)

Reuters, Islamic State forces Syria rebels to retreat from border area, Suleiman Al-Khalidi and Tom Perry, June 29, 2016. U.S.-backed Syrian rebels were pushed back from the outskirts of an Islamic State-held town on the border with Iraq and a nearby air base on Wednesday after the jihadists mounted a counter-attack, two rebel sources said. Amaq news agency, affiliated with IS, earlier said the group had killed 40 rebel fighters and captured 15 more in a counter-attack at the Hamadan air base north-west of the city.

SouthFront, New Syrian Army Offensive on Al-Bukamal Ended as Failure, June 29, 2016. The ISIS terrorist group has repelled the advance of the US-backed militant group, knowns as “New Syrian Army”, helped by Western-backed special forces near the strategic city of Al-Bukamal in the Deir Ezzor province. ISIS-linked media outlets have released photos and videos of weapons and equipment allegedly captured.

Washington Post, Attorney general meets with former president Clinton amid politically charged investigation into his wife’s email, Matt Zapotosky, June 29, 2016. Attorney General Loretta Lynch met with Loretta Lynchformer president Bill Clinton at the airport in Phoenix this week — an encounter that she described as “primarily social,” but one that drew instant attention because of the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation into the email practices of his wife, Hillary, while she was secretary of state.

Lynch (shown in an official photo) confirmed the meeting, first reported by ABC15 and others, publicly saying it occurred at the airport where she had just landed for a stop on her nationwide tour of law enforcement agencies. She said that she, her husband and the former president discussed their travels, the former president’s grandchildren and the golf he had played in Arizona. “No discussions were held on any cases or anything of that,” Lynch said, “and he didn’t raise anything about that either.”

The FBI and the Justice Department are in the midst of a high-profile investigation into leading Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state — a probe that has, at times, been the subject of intense focus on the campaign trail. The decision on whether to bring charges in the case would ultimately run through Lynch.

Guns and Butter, The Plot to Kill King: An Interview with Dr. William Pepper Thirty-Nine Years Into the Investigation, Bonnie Faulkner, June 29, 2016. Guest: Dr. William Pepper, a friend of King and author of the new book "The Plot To Kill King." We discuss Dr. King's legacy and all that was lost with his assassination, the war in Vietnam, the control of major news media, and disturbing revelations by new witnesses about the conspiracy to end Dr. King s life.

Guns & Butter investigates the relationships among capitalism, militarism and politics. Maintaining a radical perspective in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, Guns & Butter reports on who wins and who loses when the economic resources of civil society are diverted toward global corporatization, war, and the furtherance of a national security state. Bonnie Faulkner has produced and hosted this weekly, one-hour public affairs program on KPFA and WBAI radio stations which are part of the Pacifica Network, as non-commercial, listener-sponsored radio. Her show is pre-produced and covers many different subjects as noted above.

John KerryGuardian, John Kerry: Brexit could be 'walked back,' Jennifer Rankin, June 29, 2016. US secretary of state expresses doubts over whether Brexit will happen as David Cameron ‘has no idea how he would do it’  The US secretary of state has raised doubts about whether Brexit will ever happen, suggesting most leave campaigners do not truly believe in Britain’s divorce from the EU and do not know how to achieve it.

Claiming there were a number of ways in which Thursday’s vote could be “walked back”, John Kerry, who visited Downing Street on Monday, said David Cameron was loath to invoke article 50, the EU exit procedure.  He said the British prime minister felt powerless to “start negotiating a thing that he doesn’t believe in” and “has no idea how he would do it.”

Apparently referring to Boris Johnson, one of the frontrunners to replace Cameron, Kerry added: “And by the way, nor do most of the people who voted to do it.”

Daily Mail, Lee Harvey Oswald was INNOCENT - but his sniper rifle WAS used to assassinate JFK as part of CIA plot, author of new study claims, Daniel Bates, June 29, 2016. Lee Harvey Oswald was not in the sniper's nest from which President John F Kennedy was shot - but his gun was used in the shooting, a new book concludes. In a forensic analysis of the killing, author Flip de Mey puts forward a new theory for the assassination which he says has not previously been considered.

De Mey says that Oswald was not on the sixth floor of the Dallas book depository when the three shots were fired at Kennedy. He analyzes the claims of two key witnesses and says that they either lied or were unreliable. But in a surprise twist de Mey also claims to prove conclusively that Oswald's gun was used in the killing - even if it was not him who pulled the trigger.

The claims add new layers of intrigue to the death of Kennedy, who was shot dead while his Presidential motorcade drove through Dallas, Texas, on November 22 1963. In The Lee Harvey Oswald Files: Why The CIA Killed Kennedy, de Mey, tries to logically work through each theory, eliminating impossible scenarios and leaving him with 'the truth.'

June 28

U.S. House Select Committee on Benghazi, Select Committee on Benghazi Releases Proposed Report, June 28, 2016. 81 New Witnesses, 75,000 New Pages of Documents Reveal Significant New Information; Fundamentally Changes the Public’s Understanding of the 2012 Terrorist Attacks that Killed Four Americans. (4:10 min. video above narrated by U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL).

Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy (SC-04) released the following statement after the committee’s Majority released a mark of its investigative report: “Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were heroes who gave their lives in service to our country. Their bravery and the courageous actions of so many others on the ground that night should be honored.

Benghazi Map“When the Select Committee was formed, I promised to conduct this investigation in a manner worthy of the American people’s respect, and worthy of the memory of those who died. That is exactly what my colleagues and I have done. “Now, I simply ask the American people to read this report for themselves, look at the evidence we have collected, and reach their own conclusions. You can read this report in less time than our fellow citizens were taking fire and fighting for their lives on the rooftops and in the streets of Benghazi.”

The committee’s proposed report is just over 800 pages long and is comprised of five primary sections and 12 appendices. It details relevant events in 2011 and 2012. The following facts are among the many new revelations in Part I:

    •     Despite President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s clear orders to deploy military assets, nothing was sent to Benghazi, and nothing was en route to Libya at the time the last two Americans were killed almost 8 hours after the attacks began. [pg. 141]
    •     With Ambassador Stevens missing, the White House convened a roughly two-hour meeting at 7:30 PM, which resulted in action items focused on a YouTube video, and others containing the phrases “[i]f any deployment is made,” and “Libya must agree to any deployment,” and “[w]ill not deploy until order comes to go to either Tripoli or Benghazi.” [pg. 115]
    •     The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff typically would have participated in the White House meeting, but did not attend because he went home to host a dinner party for foreign dignitaries. [pg. 107]
    •     A Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) sat on a plane in Rota, Spain, for three hours, and changed in and out of their uniforms four times. [pg. 154]
    •     None of the relevant military forces met their required deployment timelines. [pg. 150]
    •     The Libyan forces that evacuated Americans from the CIA Annex to the Benghazi airport was not affiliated with any of the militias the CIA or State Department had developed a relationship with during the prior 18 months. Instead, it was comprised of former Qadhafi loyalists who the U.S. had helped remove from power during the Libyan revolution. [pg. 144]

New York Times, 2-Year Panel on Benghazi Ends, Finding No New Fault by Clinton, David M. Herszenhorn, June 28, 2016. Ending one of the longest, costliest and most bitterly partisan congressional Trey Gowdyinvestigations in history, the House Select Committee on Benghazi issued its final report on Tuesday, finding no new evidence of culpability or wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton in the 2012 attacks in Libya that left four Americans dead.

The 800-page report, however, included some new details about the night of the attacks, and the context in which they occurred. And it delivered a broad rebuke of government agencies like the Defense Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department — and the officials who led them — for failing to grasp the acute security risks in Benghazi, and especially for maintaining outposts there that they could not protect.

The chair was U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), shown in an official photo.

In a sign that Mr. Gowdy was also facing pressure from the right, two of the committee’s conservative members, Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mike Pompeo of Kansas, wrote a 48-page addendum including somewhat harsher criticism of the Obama administration, its response to the attacks and its subsequent public explanations.

“Officials at the State Department, including Secretary Clinton, learned almost in real time that the attack in Benghazi was a terrorist attack,” Mr. Jordan and Mr. Pompeo wrote. “With the presidential election just 56 days away, rather than tell the American people the truth and increase the risk of losing an election, the administration told one story privately and a different story publicly.”

Hillary Clinton Benghazi Committee CNN Pompeo 10-22-15Hillary Clinton is shown in a screen shot from her 11 hours of testimony last fall before the committee on the issues.

Politico, Republicans blast Benghazi response as political, Louis Nelson, June 28, 2016. Republican members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi said the U.S. response to the 2012 terrorist attack was slowed by election-year politics and slammed Democrats who attacked the committee’s report as the result of similar electioneering.

Committee Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said that despite the claims Democrats have made, much of the information contained in Tuesday’s report is new. He characterized the report as apolitical, focused not just on former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s role in the U.S. response to the attack, but on that of multiple members of President Barack Obama’s administration.

Anne Stevens

New Yorker, Chris Stevens’s Family: Don’t Blame Hillary Clinton for Benghazi, Robin Wright, June 28, 2016. On Tuesday, the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which is controlled by a Republican majority, charged the Obama Administration with diplomatic miscalculations, security failures, and a lengthy delay in rescue efforts, which contributed to the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, after an attack on the United States Mission in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012.

Dr. Anne Stevens, the sister of Ambassador Chris Stevens, has served as a family spokesperson since his death. She is the chief of pediatric rheumatology at Seattle Children’s Hospital. We spoke twice in the past three days, including shortly after the House Select Committee report was issued.

Christopher StevensDr. Stevens recalled that her brother (shown in an official photo) had been fascinated by the Middle East since childhood, when he dressed up as Lawrence of Arabia, with a towel and a pot atop his head. He served in the Peace Corps, in Morocco, before joining the Foreign Service, and he served twice in Libya before his final posting there, as well as in Damascus, Cairo, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. My interview with Dr. Stevens has been condensed and edited for clarity.

New York Magazine: Whom do you fault for the lack of security that resulted in the death of your brother, in Benghazi?

It is clear, in hindsight, that the facility was not sufficiently protected by the State Department and the Defense Department. But what was the underlying cause? Perhaps if Congress had provided a budget to increase security for all missions around the world, then some of the requests for more security in Libya would have been granted. Certainly the State Department is underbudgeted.

I do not blame Hillary Clinton or Leon Panetta. They were balancing security efforts at embassies and missions around the world. And their staffs were doing their best to provide what they could with the resources they had. The Benghazi Mission was understaffed. We know that now. But, again, Chris knew that. It wasn’t a secret to him. He decided to take the risk to go there. It is not something they did to him. It is something he took on himself.

Washington Post, Benghazi committee ‘squandered millions of taxpayer dollars,’ Democrats say, Karen DeYoung and Adam Goldman​, June 28, 2016. ​A 344-page Democratic report on the investigation amounted to a preemptive strike against the Republican majority version that is to be released today.

BBC, Istanbul Ataturk airport attack: 41dead, 239 injured, Staff report (updated), June 28, 2016. Ataturk airport was long seen as a vulnerable target, our Turkey correspondent adds, reporting from a plane Flag of Turkeystuck on the tarmac in Istanbul. A gun and bomb attack on Istanbul's Ataturk international airport has killed 36 people and injured about 90. Three attackers opened fire near an entry point to the terminal and blew themselves up after police fired at them, officials say. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said early signs suggested the so-called Islamic State was behind the attack

Huffington Post, Hardline Immigration Hawks Are Starting To Panic About Donald Trump, Michelle Fields, June 28, 2016. Trump’s fluctuating positions on his proposed Muslim ban and mass deportations seem “kind of like barstool philosophizing.” Donald Trump has spent the week pedaling backward and forward on his immigration positions, leaving immigration hawks — and some of his biggest boosters — worried about the strength of his support for mass deportations and a blanket ban on Muslim immigrants. Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a prominent Trump supporter and immigration hawk, told HuffPost he was perplexed by Trump’s series of unfolding positions.

Washington Post, Trump promised millions to charity. We found less than $10,000 over 7 years, David A. Fahrenthold, June 28, 2016. A review also showed that he donated less than a third Donald Trump 2016 buttonof $8.5 million pledged since 2001. In May, under pressure from the news media, Donald Trump made good on a pledge he made four months earlier: He gave $1 million to a nonprofit group helping veterans’ families. Before that, however, when was the last time that Trump gave any of his own money to a charity?

If Trump stands by his promises, such donations should be occurring all the time. In the past 15 years, Trump has promised to donate earnings from a wide variety of his money-making enterprises: “The Apprentice.” Trump Vodka. Trump University. A book. Another book. If he honored all those pledges, Trump’s gifts to charity would have topped $8.5 million. But in that time, public records show, Trump donated about $2.8 million — less than a third of the pledged figure — through a foundation set up to give his money away. And there is no evidence that Trump has given to his foundation lately: The last record of any gift from him to his foundation was in 2008.

Washington Post, Defying GOP orthodoxy, Trump trashes trade deals and advocates tariffs, Jose A. DelReal and Sean Sullivan​, June 29, 2016. Ticking through a seven-step plan to boost job growth, Donald Trump delivered an uncharacteristically disciplined address that nonetheless put him out of step with decades of conservative thinking and some of his own prior positions, which were less protectionist.

Washington Post, Supreme Court again supports ‘ingratiation and access’ in politics, Robert Bauer, June 28, 2016. Robert Bauer served as White House counsel to President Obama. He is a partner at Perkins U.S. Supreme Court SealCoie and teaches at New York University School of Law.  A unanimous Supreme Court held Monday that it is not — certainly not under any and all circumstances — a crime for someone to pay for “access” to government decision-makers. Careful not to say so too explicitly, the court is signaling that political favor-seeking fueled by cash and gifts may well be repellent, but there is only so much the legal system can — or should — do about it.

Legal Schnauzer, U.S. Supreme Court overturns white-collar corruption convictions of former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, but what about Don Siegelman, of Alabama? Roger Shuler, June 28, 2016. The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) yesterday overturned the convictions of former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, leaving many Alabamians and justice activists asking: Does this create a pathway to freedom for Don Siegelman?

Our answer is . . . maybe.  In fact, Siegelman's best hope might have little to do with the McDonnell case and everything to do with the fact that trial judge Mark Fuller no longer is on the federal bench. Appellate-court decisions often focus on narrow issues that might, or might not, apply to similar cases. Such rulings are written in a form that is . . . well, let's just say they hardly are models of clarity. Both of those qualifiers apply to McDonnell v. United States, which was issued yesterday morning (The opinion is embedded at the end of this post.), and that makes it difficult to come to solid conclusions about how it might apply to the Siegelman case.

First, McDonnell dealt almost entirely with this narrow question: Did McDonnell take "official action" to benefit a constituent (Jonnie Williams) who showered the governor and his wife with favors and more than $175,000 in gifts (Rolexes, designer clothes, catering for a daughter's wedding), apparently in hopes of receiving favorable action for his vitamin and dietary-supplement company. The McDonnells helped arrange meetings for Williams with state university and health-care officials who might be able to help launch his products. Federal prosecutors argued that was an illegal "quid pro quo" -- the gifts (the "quid") in exchange for access to key state officials (the "quo"). But SCOTUS found that setting up meetings for Williams was part of everyday activity for a governor; it was not an official action, meaning their was a "quid" but no "quo."

In our coverage of the Siegelman case, plus a quick review of documents yesterday, I have not found any evidence that the "official action" question was raised. It appears that both sides conceded Siegelman's appointment of former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy was an "official action." Does that mean McDonnell offers nothing for Siegelman, that the former Alabama Governor (still in federal prison at Oakdale, Louisiana) is out of luck because yesterday's ruling focused narrowly on an issue that didn't seem to be in play at the Siegelman trial?

Chicago Tribune, Supreme Court ruling unlikely to affect Blagojevich resentencing, Patrick M. O'Connell, June 28, 2016. A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision Monday to throw out the bribery conviction of a former Virginia governor will play little role in the ongoing legal odyssey of Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor's lawyer said. "It really doesn't change anything," said Blagojevich's lawyer, Leonard Goodman. "I don't think this will be a primary focus."

Blagojevich has served more than four years in a federal prison in Colorado for misusing his powers as governor in an array of shakedown schemes, most famously for his alleged attempts to sell the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama after his 2008 election as president. In March, the Supreme Court declined to hear Blagojevich's appeal of a 14-year prison sentence. A federal appeals court last year dismissed several counts against the former governor and ordered he be resentenced, but the three-judge panel called the evidence against him "overwhelming" and made it clear he will likely remain locked up for years to come. Blagojevich is scheduled to be resentenced Aug. 9.

Times-Picayune / NOLA.com, Is Bob McDonnell ruling a lifeline for New Orleans' Bill Jefferson? Andrew Boyd, June 28, 2016. When the Supreme Court breathed life into former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's hopes for beating his federal corruption rap, countless defense lawyers undoubtedly blew the dust off basement boxes this week to see just what that meant for their convicted clients. In New Orleans, that client would be former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, who is nowhere close to the end of his 13-year prison sentence. Convicted on 11 counts related to using his office to benefit himself and his family, Jefferson has exhausted all his appeals. The high court refused to take up his case in November 2012.

Then came McDonnell, who saw his and his wife's convictions vacated Monday (June 27). Whether Jefferson's defenders are signaling a new optimism isn't clear — his trial and appellate attorneys haven't returned voicemails — but the similarities between McDonnell's case and Jefferson's are striking.

For McDonnell, it was a Rolex watch and a Ferrari ride. For Jefferson, it was the $90,000 the FBI found in his freezer. But the true parallels lie in what McDonnell and Jefferson were doing that attracted the scrutiny of federal prosecutors. Neither McDonnell nor Jefferson was writing legislation or changing laws or issuing orders in exchange for gifts or money. They were peddling their influence.

The court ruled in the McDonnell case that selling an "official act" can be illegal. But, according to the opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, it "must involve a formal exercise of governmental power that is similar in nature to a lawsuit before a court, a determination before an agency, or a hearing before a committee." Jefferson was charged with corruption and bribery for using his office to help American businesses secure deals in West Africa in exchange for money or to secure financial stakes in companies controlled by members of his family. A jury convicted him on 11 of 16 charges in August 2009.

Reuters via Huffington Post, UK Labor Party Backs No Confidence Motion On Leader Jeremy Corbyn, Staff report, June 28, 2016. Corbyn has been at the center of a party revolt following the Brexit Jeremy Corbynreferendum. Lawmakers from Britain’s opposition Labour Party backed a motion of no confidence in their leader Jeremy Corbyn (shown in a file photo) by an overwhelming margin on Tuesday, but Corbyn said he would not resign. They voted 172 to 40 for the motion, sources said.

Bloomberg, Merkel Tells Cameron Before EU Summit: Don’t Delude Yourself, IanWishart, John Follain and Jonathan Stearns, June 28, 2016. German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned the U.K. to have no illusions about life outside the European Union, hardening her stance ahead of Prime Minister David Cameron’s first meeting with fellow EU leaders since triggering the political earthquake that’s shaken the bloc’s foundations.

Angela MerkelMerkel, in her toughest response yet to last week’s British vote to quit the 28-nation EU, said that the U.K. can’t expect favored treatment once it leaves and that there will be no informal talks on a new relationship before the government in London files its application for divorce. “There shouldn’t be the slightest misunderstanding about the conditions laid out in the European treaties for a case like this,” Merkel said in a speech to Germany’s parliament in Berlin on Tuesday. “My only advice to our British friends is: Don’t delude yourself about the necessary decisions that need to be taken.”

Merkel, shown in a file photo, won applause from German lawmakers as she laid out her approach to the two-day summit of EU leaders in Brussels that will be dominated by Brexit and the political and economic fallout reverberating across Europe. As she spoke, a taste of things to come was on show in the European Parliament, where United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage clashed with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

“Why are you here?” Juncker demanded, as he turned to look at the leading “Leave” campaigner. Farage hailed the result of last week’s vote as “seismic,” saying the U.K. “will not be the last member state to leave the European Union.”

Related: New York Times, With ‘Brexit,’ Washington’s Direct Line to the Continent Suddenly Frays.

Washington Post, European leaders to confront Cameron over U.K.’s departure, Michael Birnbaum, Griff Witte and Anthony Faiola​, June 28, 2016. European Union leaders converged on Brussels to hear British Prime Minister David Cameron explain his vision of the nation's future. Some British politicians have suggested an arrangement that would keep their nation as close to the bloc as possible without formally being a member.

WhoWhatWhy, Why Brexit Panics Eastern Europe, Victor Kotsev, June 28, 2016. Big-power rivalries and home-grown dysfunction raise fears along eastern periphery of the European Union. Bulgarian Prime Angela Merkel and Bulgarian PM Boyko Borissov Gatis Rozenfelds / Wikimedia Minister Boyko Borissov with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at EPP EaP Leaders' meeting. Photo credit: Gatis Rozenfelds / Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)

Britain’s bolt from the European Union could have a seriously destabilizing effect on the Balkans — a region whose volatile politics lit the fuse for World War I and which has continued to be an area of critical global significance. In Western Europe, the Brexit debate has mostly been about migration and money. But countries on the EU’s eastern periphery, like Bulgaria, have a different reason to be concerned.

In this part of the continent, the EU has served as a democratic anchor of sorts — in a region torn apart by escalating conflicts involving authoritarian-leaning Russia and Turkey, as well as homegrown authoritarian forces. Analysts say it’s too early to despair, but nevertheless worry about the impact of Brexit on the future of still-precarious representative democracies in Eastern Europe.

 

SouthFront, EU Death Watch: Brexit and After, J.Hawk, June 28, 2016. The Brexit vote in favor of leaving the EU ranks as one of the most significant events of the last decade. It is an earthquake which, in addition to its immediate consequences, will be followed by aftershocks by years if not decades to come. It is an event of first-rank significance for not just the increasingly dis-United Kingdom, but also the EU, US, Russia, and much of the rest of the world.

Brexit leaves the UK in a state of political, constitutional, and even territorial crisis. It has rendered David Cameron and his political cabinet impotent, with no apparent successor in the wing. It has badly damaged the anti-Brexit Labor Party. There is no clear way forward from the vote, as British laws do not have a clear-cut set of rules dealing with referenda or departing the EU. To top it all off, even the future of the UK as it currently exists is in some doubt. 

United Kingdom flagIt also does not appear likely that the referendum will be overturned. Maneuvers such as the second referendum petition drive or the threat of a Scottish veto seem motivated by desperation.

Ignoring, or setting aside, the referendum and pretending it never happened is theoretically possible since it is perfectly legal–the referendum only plays an advisory role and is not legally binding.

At the same time one has to keep in mind that the British political system is remarkably ramshackle and improvised, with precedent, usage, and custom providing the system’s stability in lieu of an actual written constitution. Ignoring the referendum would therefore set a precedent that would simply destroy British politics as we have known them for the last two centuries. It would be the political equivalent of Ukraine’s Maidan – a desperate move in order to gain a short-term political advantage at the cost of long-term unraveling of the state. Nobody wants that, least of all the British financial sector, whose dominance is dependent on continuing the fiction of stability and predictability of British politics.

Washington Post, A 30-year-old Saudi prince could jump-start the kingdom — or drive it off a cliff, David Ignatius, June 28, 2016. Can this young prince save Saudi Arabia from itself? Saudi Arabia is at a historic tipping point; why that matters for America.

War OnThe Rocks, Russia is in Charge in Syria: How Moscow Took Control of the Battlefield and Negotiating Table, Sam Heller, June 28, 2016. Sam Heller is a Beirut-based freelance writer and analyst focused on Syria. The Kremlin has successfully made itself the most powerful party to this war. The best the White House can do now is to make them own it.

Russian FlagEarlier this month, 51 mid-level officers at the U.S. State Department wrote a “dissent cable” arguing for the limited use of U.S. military force against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. By using standoff weapons and airstrikes on regime targets, they said, the United States could force regime compliance with Syria’s nationwide “cessation of hostilities” and compel the regime to participate in political negotiations to resolve the country’s bloody years-long war.

Yet these diplomats seem to have mostly ignored Russia’s role in Syria — and at least for now, it is Russia, not America, that is the decisive force in the Syrian war. But not all is well for the Kremlin. Russia finds itself in the middle of a war that seems impossible to resolve military or politically — on Moscow’s terms or anyone else’s. Russia is invested heavily in a political process that, thanks to uncooperative Syrians on all sides of the war, seems unlikely to succeed. Yet Russia also appears convinced that a purely military victory by the regime is impossible. Now, with negotiations stalling, Moscow must grapple with how to deliver “success” in Syria.

Middle East Eye, The Syria 'dissent' memo and bureaucratic pressure strategy, Gareth Porter, June 28, 2016. The supposed dissenters knew very well that Kerry has been advocating essentially the same policy they were articulating for years. The memorandum by 51 State Department officials calling for US military intervention in Syria last week has been treated in news media coverage as a case of dissent from existing Syria policy by individual officials involved in Syria policy.

But the memo has all the earmarks of an initiative that had the blessing of the most senior officials in the department – including Secretary of State John Kerry himself – rather than having been put together by individual officials entirely on their own. And it may mark the beginning of an effort to take advantage of the presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton.

June 27

 U.S. Supreme Court Building

Los Angeles Times, Supreme Court overturns Texas abortion restrictions, David G. Savage, June 27, 2016. The Supreme Court, in a victory for abortion-rights advocates, has limited the power of Texas and other states to restrict or effectively shut down clinics that offer the procedure. The justices, by a 5-3 vote, said Monday that Texas lawmakers went too far by imposing unnecessary regulations that had forced most of the state’s abortion clinics to go out of business.

The decision is the court's clearest pronouncement since 1992 on abortion, and it makes clear that states may not impose health regulations that severely restrict the right to abortion.

The Texas case has been seen as a crucial test of a state’s power to regulate the practice of abortion. Though states have the authority to regulate doctors and hospitals to protect the health of patients, the Supreme Court has said states may not put an “undue burden” on pregnant women who seek an abortion. This includes “unnecessary health regulations,” the court said in 1992.

U.S. Supreme Court Eight Members 2016At issue in the case were two stringent regulations adopted by the Texas Legislature in 2013. One required doctors who perform an abortion to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. The state’s lawyers said the rule ensures that doctors are “qualified,” and that it “promotes continuity of care” if an emergency arises. Abortion-rights advocates said hospitals often refuse to extend privileges to these doctors because of the controversy over abortion and because very few of their patients will be admitted to a hospital.

The other disputed rule would require all abortions, even those within the first weeks of a pregnancy, be performed in a facility meeting the standards of an outpatient surgical center. The state said this would help ensure “a sterile operating environment” for surgery, but clinic directors say the extra space and equipment is costly and unneeded.

"We conclude that neither of these provisions [on admitting privileges and surgical center requirements] offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes," Justice Stephen Breyer (at left in the second row in adjoining photo) said for the majority. "Each places substantial obstacles in the path of women seeking a pre-viability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access, and each violates the federal Constitution."

He was joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. In dissent were Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. Texas had no reported deaths from abortions in the five years prior to the enactment of the new law in 2013. In their appeal, lawyers for the Whole Woman’s Health said only nine clinics would remain in business in Texas if the law were fully enforced, leaving a “vast geographic area that is larger than California” without a licensed abortion facility.

Washington Post, 25 states have abortion rules similar to the Texas regulations that were just struck down, Denise Lu and Sandhya Somashekhar, June 27, 2016. They have at least one of the two types of regulations that were litigated in the case decided today: requiring doctors who perform abortions at clinics to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and requiring abortion clinics to meet hospital-like standards of surgical centers.

Washington Post, Supreme Court overturns former Va. governor McDonnell’s conviction on corruption charges, Robert Barnes​, June 27, 2016. ​The court said in its unanimous ruling that it was concerned with the prosecution’s “boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute” but left open the possibility he may be tried again. The Supreme Court on Monday unanimously overturned former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell’s public corruption conviction, and made it harder to prosecute public officials for alleged wrongdoing.

The court said it had no opinion on whether McDonnell should be retried under the stricter standards the decision imposes, but Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. described the former governor’s actions as “tawdry” in announcing the decision from the bench. McDonnell’s promising political career was derailed by his entanglement with a businessman who showered McDonnell and his family with luxury gifts and financial benefits.

“If the court below determines that there is sufficient evidence for a jury to convict Governor McDonnell of committing or agreeing to commit an ‘official act,’ his case may be set for a new trial,” Roberts wrote. “If the court instead determines that the evidence is insufficient, the charges against him must be dismissed. We express no view on that question.”

John RobertsRoberts (shown in an official photo) added: “There is no doubt that this case is distasteful; it may be worse than that. But our concern is not with tawdry tales of Ferraris, Rolexes, and ball gowns. It is instead with the broader legal implications of the government’s boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute.” McDonnell and his wife Maureen were convicted by a federal jury in 2014, and McDonnell was close to reporting to prison before the Supreme Court decided to take his case.

The McDonnell case stems from more than $175,000 in loans and gifts — a Rolex watch, vacations, partial payments of a daughter’s wedding reception, among them — that the governor and his family received from Richmond businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. Williams, the chief executive of Star Scientific, wanted state universities to perform important clinical tests on a dietary supplement the company had developed.

Washington Post, The Bob McDonnell Supreme Court ruling makes convicting politicians of corruption almost impossible, Chris Cillizza, June 27, 2016.  No one thinks Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, acted nobly in their dealing with dietary supplement businessman Jonnie Williams. They accepted $175,000 in gifts and donations — Rolexes! Ferrari rides! Wedding gifts! — from Williams, who was relentlessly trying to gain access to the Virginia governor and his wife in hopes of improving the chances of his various businesses succeeding.

And yet, the Supreme Court unanimously overturned McDonnell's conviction on corruption charges Monday. Why? Because it is very, very hard to convict politicians on public corruption charges without a smoking gun. And there wasn't one in this case.

"There is no doubt that this case is distasteful; it may be worse than that," wrote Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. in the majority opinion.

What Roberts is saying is this: Yes, McDonnell and his wife breached the public trust and drastically underperformed the expectations we have for our elected officials. But disappointment and tawdriness aren't illegal.

Politico, Lyle Denniston, a lion of the Supreme Court beat, leaves SCOTUSblog, Hadas Gold, June 27, 2016. Lyle Denniston, dean of the Supreme Court press corps, is leaving SCOTUSblog to join the National Constitution Center, the center announced over the weekend. Denniston has been with SCOTUSblog for 12 years, but rose to prominence in the past few years beyond an initial audience of insiders as a series of closely and widely watched landmark Supreme Court decisions drove readers to the site. Denniston's propensity to beat the competition and break news on the Court has helped make SCOTUSblog the go-to place for everyone from everyday readers to the White House itself.

Lyle Denniston portrait"It has been a fabulous trip, since February 2004, when my then-latest attempt at retirement proved — as usual — to be premature," Denniston, who is in his mid-80s, wrote in a farewell blog post. "In those twelve-plus years, SCOTUSblog has become a standout in legal journalism, more than fulfilling the creative dream that [owners] Tom Goldstein and Amy Howe had when they started it, before I logged on with them."

Though it's been praised, SCOTUSblog has encountered its own difficulty being recognized by the galleries and obtaining credentials. The blog is owned and run by the law firm Goldstein & Russell, which argues before the Supreme Court. Denniston (shown in a file photo) often found workarounds, using press passes from other publications he wrote for.

"The blog has also taught me that serious journalism still has a very large place amid the babbling noises of the Internet," Denniston further said in his farewell. "I have but one regret, and it is that I was unable to persuade the traditional journalists who control the credentialing for Congress that I was as independent as they feel they are, and that journalism can take unusual new forms and still be journalism."

At the National Constitution Center, Denniston will become the full-time Supreme Court correspondent for the Constitution Daily blog. Denniston, who will also begin lecturing at the University of Baltimore law school, has previously written for The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, The Baltimore Sun, American Lawyer, The Washington Star, The Nebraska City News-Press, and The Lincoln (Neb.) Journal.

Republican National Convention logoPolitico, Hardly anybody wants to speak at Trump's convention, Alex Isenstadt, June 27, 2016. Politico reached out to more than 50 prominent Republicans. Few said they plan to attend the convention in Cleveland, let alone speak. A slot at the Republican National Convention used to be a career-maker — a chance to make your name on the big stage and to catch the eye of the Republican donors and activists who make or break campaigns.

In the year of Trump: Not so much. “Everyone has to make their own choice, but at this point, 70 percent of the American public doesn’t like Donald Trump. That’s as toxic as we’ve seen in American politics,” said Stuart Stevens, a longtime Republican strategist who helped to craft the party’s 2012 convention. “Normally, people want to speak at national conventions. It launched Barack Obama’s political career.”

Washington Post, Civil rights leader Walter Fauntroy arrested at Dulles, Ian Shapira, June 27, 2016. Walter E. Fauntroy, Washington’s legendary former congressional delegate, was arrested Monday morning at Dulles International Airport and jailed in Loudoun County after returning home from a four-year sojourn in the Persian Gulf, authorities said.

Walter Fauntroty recentFauntroy, who helped plan the 1963 March on Washington with his friend the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., was arrested about ­8:15 a.m. on an outstanding warrant by Border Patrol officials while he was clearing customs. He had just gotten off a nonstop Emirates airline flight from Dubai to Dulles, said one of his attorneys, Johnny Barnes. He was scheduled to spend the night in jail before a hearing Tuesday morning in Loudoun County General District Court.

Fauntroy, 83, was arrested on a bad check charge stemming from his debt to a hotel for a planned inaugural event to celebrate President Obama's election. He is shown in a recent photo from the Gulf, where he has said he was seeking to raise money for an innovative energy business.

Legal Schnauzer, Are rumors of an FBI raid in Montgomery connected to Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's efforts to trump up criminal charges against Donald Watkins and me? Roger Shuler, June 27, 2016. Alabama was awash with rumors late last week that the FBI was raiding government offices in Montgomery. Both al.com and the Montgomery Advertiser reported on the story but the full picture remains blurry.

The real story, according to one Web-based report -- Why Federal Prosecutors Are Taking Down Bentley by Donald V. Watkins -- is about Gov. Robert Bentley's ongoing efforts to seek bogus criminal charges against Watkins and myself in retaliation for our reporting about Bentley's extramarital affair with former advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason and the apparent misuse of state resources.

On a related note, corporate interests are pushing for the U.S. Department of Justice to prosecute Bentley, concerned the governor's buffoonish and apparently criminal actions will sully the state's business climate, according to a new report.

What exactly happened late last week in Alabama's capital?

Here is our best guess, based on a review of multiple press reports: (1) State auditor Jim Zeigler said his office had received multiple reports that FBI agents had seized records and equipment during a raid at the Information Services Division of the Governor's Finance Office; (2) Bentley fired James Nolin, chief information officer in the finance office, and placed Rex McDowell, assistant director of finance information/administrative services, on leave; (3) Members of the Bentley administration claimed there had been a computer-security breach, and they invited the FBI to help investigate the matter; (4) The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) said Bentley was asking the FBI to assist with a "routine administrative audit"; (5) An FBI official said the agency was not involved with an audit in Alabama "at this time."

Intercept, DNC Platform Leaves Door Open for No-Fly Zone in Syria, Refuses to Call for End to Israeli Occupation, Zaid Jilani, June 27, 2016. The Democratic National Committee’s Platform Drafting Committee quashed efforts by the Bernie Sanders campaign last week to insert language in the platform opposing a U.S.-led no-fly zone in Syria and calling for an end to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

The deliberations, which took place in St. Louis last week as part of a multi-step process to write the party’s nonbinding platform, represent a tilt to a more hawkish direction for Democrats under presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton. The final platform will not be written until the convention in Philadelphia next month – a process that could possibly open it to votes from a much wider pool of delegates on the floor.

Arab American Institute President Jim Zogby, a Sanders appointee to the platform committee, explained that he was introducing an amendment that would, in part, read: “To this end, the Democratic Party does not support direct U.S. military intervention against the Assad regime, including the imposition of no-fly zones or safe zones.”

This is also the current position of President Barack Obama, who while bombing ISIS units in Syria has rejected direct strikes against the Syrian government, saying that “we have learned over the last 10, 12, 13 years is that unless we can get the parties on the ground to agree to live together in some fashion, then no amount of U.S. military engagement will solve the problem.”

Zogby’s amendment faced opposition from a number of Clinton appointees to the committee.  “I don’t think we should define such decisions for the future president,” said Wendy Sherman, a former senior State Department official. “I strongly urge that we oppose this amendment.”

Former California Democratic Congressman Howard Berman, another Clinton appointee, also joined in opposition. “I don’t think the platform looking at, and if it makes sense, pursuing that option,” he said of the no-fly zone.

Consortium News, Europeans Contest US Anti-Russian Hype, Joe Lauria, June 27, 2016. Freelance writer Joe Lauria (shown in a file photo at left) covered the United Nations for the Wall Street Journal and Boston Glove for more than two Joe Lauriadecades until last fall. A significant crack has been unexpectedly opened in the wall of Europe’s disciplined obedience to the United States. I’m not only referring to the possible long-term consequences for U.S.-European relations in the wake of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, but the unlikely blow against Washington’s information war Frank Walter Steinmeieron Moscow delivered by Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier (shown in a file photo at right), who a week ago shockingly accused the North Atlantic Treaty Organization of “war-mongering” against Russia.

Stars and Stripes, US has trained fewer than 100 in Syria to fight Islamic State, Tara Copp, June 27, 2016. Less than 100 additional Syrian leaders have been trained under a revamped U.S. program to fight the Islamic State group, U.S. officials said Monday. In October, the United States halted another train-and-equip program in Syria, which transported whole units of fighters out of the country to train at facilities in Turkey, Jordan and other locations. The fighters were given U.S. equipment, trained and transported back to Syria. But the vast majority of the Syrian units left the program or turned over their U.S.-provided equipment to other groups.

The United States had planned to train about 5,000 fighters each year in the first program, which cost $346.8 million in fiscal year 2015. But in September, Gen. Lloyd Austin, who led U.S. Central Command at the time, informed Congress that only “four or five” U.S.-trained fighters were in Syria.

On Monday, three U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity described the new train-and-equip program, which was started in March. The program returns those leaders to their units to push that training down the ranks and provides equipment to the forces that they lead. The new program to train the leaders has $416 million budgeted for it in fiscal year 2016, the U.S. officials said, and includes the equipment the United States is providing.

Over the weekend, the New York Times reported another U.S. program to train and equip Syrian forces had lost equipment to Jordanian intelligence operatives who were siphoning off and selling that supply as they moved through the country on their way to Syria.

June 26

Al Jazeera and New York Times, C.I.A. Arms for Syrian Rebels Supplied Black Market, Officials Say, Ali Younes and Mark Mazzetti, June 26, 2016. Some of the weapons linked to thefts by Jordanian intelligence operatives are believed to have been used last year to kill two Americans and three others. The revelations of a massive smuggling operation looting American arms come from a joint investigation by the New York Times and Al Jazeera.

Weapons shipped into Jordan by the Central Intelligence Agency and Saudi Arabia intended for Syrian rebels have been systematically stolen by Jordanian intelligence operatives and sold to arms merchants on the black market, according to American and Jordanian officials.

Some of the stolen weapons were used in a shooting in November that killed two Americans and three others at a police training facility in Amman, FBI officials believe after months of investigating the attack, according to people familiar with the investigation.

The existence of the weapons theft, which ended only months ago after complaints by the US and Saudi governments, is being reported for the first time following a joint investigation by Al Jazeera and The New York Times.

The theft, involving millions of dollars of weapons, highlights the messy, unplanned consequences of program to arm and train rebels - the kind of program the CIA and Pentagon have conducted for decades - even after the Obama administration had hoped to keep the training program in Jordan under tight control.

The Jordanian officers who were part of the scheme reaped a windfall from the weapons sales, using the money to buy expensive SUVs, iPhones and other luxury items, Jordanian officials said.

The theft and resale of the arms - including Kalashnikov assault rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades - have led to a flood of new weapons available on the black arms market.

Investigators do not know what became of most of them, but a disparate collection of groups, including criminal networks and rural Jordanian tribes, use the arms bazaars to build their arsenals. Weapons smugglers also buy weapons in the arms bazaars to ship outside the country.

Telegraph, Isil murders five media activists for exposing Syria atrocities, Zia Weise, June 26, 2016. ISIL has executed five media activists in Syria’s eastern province of Deir Ezzor, warning that anyone who tries to document the group’s atrocities will never be safe from retribution. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based monitoring group, said it had received a video depicting the activists’ deaths, carried out on various charges including “acting against the Islamic State, communicating with outside parties and receiving funds.”

The Observatory reported that the jihadists murdered one of the activists by hand-cuffing him to his explosives-rigged laptop and detonating it. Another was killed while tied to his camera. One of the activists had been providing the Observatory with information about events in the areas of Deir Ezzor ruled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil). Isil attempts to keep a tight grip on any news and footage emerging from territories under their control, executing any activists who try to its expose crimes.

Washington Post, Poll: Support for Trump plunges, giving Clinton double-digit lead, Scott Clement and Philip Rucker​, June 26, 2016. Support for the GOP candidate has plummeted as he alienated fellow Hillary ClintonRepublicans and large majorities of voters overall in a month of self-inflicted controversies. The Democrat has jumped ahead, 51 percent to 39 percent, in a national Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Donald Trump button open mouthDonald Trump’s bad month just got worse, because Sanders backers just rallied to Clinton, Aaron Blake, June 26, 2016. Donald Trump would like for Bernie Sanders supporters to ditch the Democratic Party and support him. There is very little evidence that they will do that, mind you, but it's certainly possible that they might just stay home — which would help Trump.

Well, we have some bad news for the Trump campaign. Sanders supporters aren't just rallying around Clinton; they're doing it rather quickly. Last month, 20 percent of Sanders supporters said they would back Trump over Clinton in the general election. This month, that figure is down to 8 percent.

Washington Post, Where will Sanders take his progressive revolution?  David Weigel and John Wagner, June 26, 2016. As his presidential bid winds down, the senator from Vermont must persuade his supporters to continue the movement with someone else.

Telegraph (London), Isil murders five media activists for exposing Syria atrocities, Zia Weise, June 26, 2016. Isil has executed five media activists in Syria’s eastern province of Deir Ezzor, warning that anyone who tries to document the group’s atrocities will never be safe from retribution. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based monitoring group, said it had received a video depicting the activists’ deaths, carried out on various charges including “acting against the Islamic State, communicating with outside parties and receiving funds”.

The Observatory reported that the jihadists murdered one of the activists by hand-cuffing him to his explosives-rigged laptop and detonating it. Another was killed while tied to his camera.One of the activists had been providing the Observatory with information about events in the areas of Deir Ezzor ruled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

Isil attempts to keep a tight grip on any news and footage emerging from territories under their control, executing any activists who try to its expose crimes. In the video, the terrorist group warned media activists that they were not safe even outside of Syria, showing the faces of anti-Isil journalists who have been murdered by Isil in southern Turkey. The group has claimed responsibility for assassinating four Syrian media activists in Turkey.

Brexit balloon via Flickr pda portalImage by Portal GDA via Flickr

Strategic Culture Foundation (Russia), Brexit Shatters EU and Its Washington Bond, Finian Cunningham, June 26, 2016. The British rejection of European Union membership came like a brick slamming into a pane of glass. The impact has stunned observers, radiated shockwaves and suddenly thrown up an arresting vista of cracks and jagged shards.

In short, the Brexit vote has not only severed Britain’s union with the rest of Europe, it has also unleashed secessionist forces presaging the dissolution of the United Kingdom’s own internal union. An equally important form of inflexibility seen in the EU bloc is in foreign policy. The EU seems to have become a passive replica of the US-led NATO military alliance and under the thumb of Washington’s decree. Granted, most of the membership overlaps between the two organizations. But for many of the EU’s 500 million citizens, the EU’s lack of independence in foreign policy from Washington is a source of consternation.

The Brexit thus heralds much more than the shattering of the EU. On a national level, the United Kingdom is also prone to fracturing, while at the international level the Atlanticist bond with which Washington has dominated the EU is another fracture point.

Robert Mueller at White House with BO discussing Boston Marathon bombing

FBI Director Robert Mueller, center, discusses the Boston Marathon bombing with President Obama, shown at far right. (White House photo highlighted by WhoWhatWhy)

WhoWhatWhy, Was Tamerlan Tsarnaev a Double Agent Recruited by the FBI? Peter Dale Scott, June 26, 2016. WhoWhatWhy Staff: Last month, we reported startling new evidence that answered the questions: What did the FBI know about accused Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev — and when did it know it?

Now the public is asking the same questions about Omar Mateen. For an in-depth look at how the FBI interacts with prospective informants, please see the story below by the noted author Peter Dale Scott. Published two years ago, it is still highly relevant.

Huffington Post, The RNC Plans To Turn Bernie Backers Against Hillary Clinton’s VP Pick, Sam Stein, June 26, 2016. In a strategy memo provided to the Huffington Post, the committee outlines how it will attack the top candidates. The Republican National Committee is planning to cleave liberal voters away from Hillary Clinton as part of a campaign to counteract her forthcoming pick of a vice presidential running mate.

In a detailed memo outlining its strategy to combat Clinton’s VP choice, the committee says it will frame the selection as both a cynical play to certain constituencies and as an emotional letdown for voters who backed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the Democratic primary. The goals, the memo says, are to “drive wedges between these top contenders and either Clinton and/or traditional Democrat constituencies, such as labor, environmentalists, and gun control advocates, and other traditional left-wing constituencies;” and “[w]here applicable, frame the choice as an insult to the large, deep base of Bernie Sanders supporters who are struggling with the notion of supporting Hillary Clinton as the presumptive Democrat nominee.”

Titled “Project Pander,” the RNC’s strategy memo also reveals which candidates the committee views as most likely to be selected. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), HUD Secretary Julian Castro and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) occupy the top tier; Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) are in the second.

Authored by Raj Shah, the research director and deputy communications director at the RNC, the memo telegraphs a campaign of subterfuge that is traditionally executed in private. Parties normally don’t like their fingerprints on the attacks against the opposition. But this has been an untraditional election, with both sides relatively unapologetic about the mud they are slinging.

Sean Spicer, the RNC’s communications director and chief strategist, said that the committee already has conducted extensive field research in San Antonio, Boston and Richmond, Virginia (homes to Castro, Warren and Kaine, respectively) in addition to investigative work on all six potential choices.

Strategic Culture Foundation, Turkey’s Scholars Call Erdogan’s Presidency Fraud, Eric Zuesse, June 26, 2016. One of the Constitutional requirements to be able to serve as Turkey’s President is to have a college Recep Tayyip Erdogandiploma, and Turkey’s association of professors have declared fake that of Turkey’s President, Tayyip Erdogan (shown in file photo), which presents him as having graduated from "Marmara University."

National Press Club, Ukrainian Prime Minister secures pledge of economic assistance during U.S. visit, Peter Hickman, June 26, 2016. On his first visit to Washington since taking office, the new Prime Minister of Ukraine, Volodymyr Groysman, told a June 16 National Press Club Newsmaker press conference that his country received a pledge of $220 million in economic assistance from the United States during meetings with U.S. officials.

June 25

Washington Post, E.U. founding nations: Britain needs to leave bloc as ‘quickly as possible,’ Anthony Faiola, June 25, 2016. Germany, France, Italy, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg collectively called for fast follow-through on the stunning British decision, putting pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron.  Following the landmark vote in Britain to withdraw from the European Union, foreign ministers from the bloc’s six founding nations urged London on Saturday to move toward the exit door as “quickly as possible."

German FlagMeeting in Berlin, the top diplomats of Germany (flag shown above), France, Italy, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg collectively called for fast follow-through on the stunning British decision, putting pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron, who has sought a slower pace of extraction.

On Friday, Cameron said he would step down after several months but has not immediately sought to trigger the European Union’s Article 50, which would set up a two-year negotiating period ending with withdrawal. But the top diplomats meeting Saturday suggested the European Union was not prepared to wait for domestic politics to play out in Britain, suggesting that Cameron would face intense pressure on Tuesday during a summit in Brussels of 28 national leaders and European officials.

Washington Post, Vote sends a message to all politicians everywhere: It can happen here, Dan Balz​, June 25, 2016. Frustration with political elites knows no borders today. There are signs of it across Europe and in the United States. Who’s to say there are no more significant shocks ahead?

Washington Post, Sanders puts his stamp on DNC platform, but presses for more, Anne Gearan, June 25, 2016. Democrats have approved a draft party platform strongly influenced by the liberal agenda of Sen. Bernie Sanders, but his campaign pledged Saturday to continue fighting on several policy fronts ahead of the party’s nominating convention next month.

The draft policy rubric approved early Saturday is evidence of the sway Sanders holds after a bruising primary that technically has not ended. The language would move the Democratic Party to the left on issues ranging from wages to banking reform to climate change, and represents several concessions by presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton to her persistent primary rival.

Washington Post, Donald Trump’s Scottish golf swing: A chaotic two-day trip across the green, Jenna Johnson, June 25, 2016.  Donald Trump capped off his two-day overseas tour in a golf cart Saturday Donald Trump for President logoafternoon, zooming around the golf course he built on top of sand dunes. Running the country won’t be much different than building a resort like this, he told the pack of political reporters who followed in maintenance carts — “just a lot bigger.”

Amid the chaos of the day, Trump seemed to dramatically shift on two of his major policy proposals, although it was unclear if he meant to do so and his staff provided no clarification.

There was great anticipation as Trump stepped up to the microphone at a press conference on the ninth hole of the course, close to a cliff. Before he could say anything, a man wearing a Turnberry sweater jumped up to apologize for having forgotten to hand out golf balls to the crowd— then tossed dozens of red golf balls featuring a black swastika in Trump’s direction. Secret Service agents surrounded the man, British comic Simon Brodkin, and escorted him away.

Trump then spoke to the world, standing in a sea of Nazi golf balls.

CBS News, Conservative columnist George Will leaves GOP over Donald Trump, Reena Flores, June 25, 2016. Conservative columnist George Will is joining the exodus of Republicans who are leaving their party because of its presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump.

George Will Will, who writes for The Washington Post and is a Fox News contributor, reportedly told the Federalist Society Friday that he was no longer a Republican. "This is not my party," Will said during a speech at the organization's Washington, D.C., luncheon, according to conservative news outlet PJ Media.

He said that House Speaker Paul Ryan's endorsement of Trump was one of the reasons he jumped the GOP ship and further predicted that Trump in the White House with "no opposition" from a Congress with a Republican majority could spell disaster. That scenario, according to Will, would be even worse than Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office with a Republican Congress.

Later, in an interview with PJ Media, Will said he had switched his party to become "an unaffiliated voter in the state of Maryland."
Conservative columnist George Will leaves GOP over Donald Trump

Real News Network, Michael Hudson argues that military interventions in the Middle East created refugee streams to Europe that were in turn used by the anti-immigrant right to stir up xenophobia, June 25, 2016.

Strategic Culture Foundation (Russia), Syria: Aleppo Cease-fire on Brink of Collapse, Alex Gorka, June 25, 2016. General Valery Gerasimov, the chief of Russian General Staff, said that Russia’s patience is waning over the situation in Syria. According to him, Russia was in full compliance with its obligations to maintain cease-fire and ensure national reconciliation in Syria, while the US had problems with the "opposition" under its control.

The gist of the problem is that the militant groups in Aleppo are grouped around Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch condemned by UN resolutions the US voted for, that was never part of the cessation of hostilities and kept attacking Syrian government forces, particularly in southern Aleppo. The US failed to comply with its obligation and make militants split off from al-Nusra. 

Facebook, Why Federal Prosecutors Are Taking Down Bentley, Donald V. Watkins, June 25, 2016. Alabama is home to three major automobile producers: Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Honda Manufacturing Donald Watkinsof Alabama, and Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama. The state is also home to two major engine producers, International Diesel of Alabama and Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Alabama, Inc.

Last year, Google, Inc., the world’s second most valuable company, announced that it would invest $600 million to locate a massive data processing center in north Alabama, one of only fourteen in the world. Google’s financial investment in Jackson County matches Airbus’s $600 million investment in Mobile, Alabama, where the aerospace giant began building its first U.S.-based production facility in 2013.

These companies are global conglomerates. They could have easily located their manufacturing facilities in other countries. For a variety of reasons, they chose to locate their facilities in the United States and to site them in Alabama.

None of these companies can afford to be associated, directly or indirectly, with Alabama Governor Robert Bentley's “sex for power” and public corruption scandal. All of them have stellar international reputations that must be safeguard from embarrassing scandals at all times. Under no circumstances can they bring world leaders and industry giants to a meeting with a sitting governor who is the “target” of an ongoing federal criminal investigation for racketeering and public corruption.

Furthermore, Alabama’s governor has become the laughingstock of the nation. Bentley’s salacious scandal has dragged Alabama back into the negative spotlight of every major newspaper and electronic media organization in the world. Yet, Bentley, whose situation is analogous to a “dead man walking”, refuses to resign.

Unz Review, US Options in the Ukraine: Trigger a Religious War? The Saker, June 25, 2016. Listening to the imperial media one might be excused for thinking that nothing dramatic is happening in the Ukraine and that the crisis has basically leveled off in some way. Well, why not? They just had recent elections and, apparently, that went well, Russia is still showing her usual bad will and threatening behavior.

June 24

Washington Post, Britain shocks world: breaks with European Union, British leader steps down, Griff Witte, Karla Adam and Dan Balz, June 24, 2016. British voters defied their leaders and international allies by cutting ties with the European Union in a stunning result Friday that threw financial markets into chaos, forced Britain’s prime minister to resign and unleashed a new independence quest by Scotland. As Britain absorbed the earth-shaking news, the political fallout reached to the highest level with Prime Minister David Cameron (shown below) saying he would step down after championing the campaign to remain in the European Union.

David CameronJust hours later, the leader in heavily pro-E.U. Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, said she will push for their own referendum to break with England and the other two partners in the United Kingdom, Wales and Northern Ireland.

A second independence referendum, following a defeated vote in 2014, is “highly likely,” said Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister. Calls to break away were echoed by nationalists in Northern Ireland. In an emotional address outside 10 Downing Street, Cameron said the country now deserved “fresh leadership” in the face of the rejection in Thursday’s referendum. Cameron, who enjoys a close relationship with President Obama, said he hoped a new prime minister could be in place by October.

The vote result will rattle officials in Washington. Obama had made a high-profile plea for Britain to stay. He was briefed on the results of the referendum, the White House said, and was expected to speak to Cameron in the next day. Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, who was in Scotland on Friday to open a golf course, backed Brexit.

Asked by reporters about the vote as he toured his course to the tune of bag pipes, Trump on Friday called it “a great thing.” 

JIP Editor's note: As reaction, trading in foreign markets showed an historic drop of the value of the British pound compared to the dollar. London and Scotland voted heavily to remain in the European Union, United Kingdom flagwhereas most of the rest of England and Wales voted to leave. The national margin was about 52 to 48 percent for "leave," with support for "leave" generally heavier among older and less educated voters upset at globalization and increasing regulation via the EU's regulatory bodies going beyond free trade issues into regulation increasingly intruding into fields, such as immigration, traditionally governed on a national level.

On other fronts, the unexpected vote on a "populist" theme shocked establishment interests, including in the United States and across Europe. Terms of British withdrawal are unknown because no other nation has ever withdrawn from the European Union. 

Huffington Post, Trump Praises Scotland For Taking ‘Their Country Back’ When Majority Voted To Stay In EU, Lee Moran, June 24, 2016. Donald Trump’s inaccurate tweet about how Scotland voted in the EU referendum has sparked a furious backlash during his visit to Britain.  Donald Trump is not getting the warm Scottish welcome he was hoping for.

The presumptive GOP presidential nominee arrived in Scotland on Friday to officially open his new Trump Turnberry golf resort. Protesters greeted him with golf balls emblazoned with Swastikas, a symbol of Nazi Germany, at the opening of the course. Trump also faced a backlash after tweeting that people in Scotland were “going wild” following the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. Many Scots are angry at his tweet because most actually voted to remain inside the EU.

Donald Trump ribbon cutting at new Trump Turnberry golf course June 24, 2016 Andrew Learmonth via Twitter

Washington Post, As markets tank, Trump holds a ribbon-cutting at his Scottish golf course, Jenna Johnson and Jose A. DelReal, June 24, 2016. Arriving in Scotland on Friday, the likely GOP presidential nominee did not seem to understand the gravity of Britain’s decision as he attended a surreal ribbon-cutting at his luxury golf resort.

Twitter, Protester with golf balls covered in swastikas just thrown out of opening of Trump Turnberry, Andrew Learmonth, June 24, 2016. [Above, the U.S. presidential candidate and several colleagues and Donald Trump protest with golf balls in Scotland June 24, 2016members of his family cut a ribbon in Scotland for construction of his new golf course shortly after guards ejected a protester who distributed golf balls painted with Nazi symbols (brief video of a comedian, Simon Brodkin, viewable via Andrew Learmonth's Twitter feed. and in a video excerpt on Sam Seder's Majority Report show.]

The Guardian, Donald Trump deserves his frosty reception in Scotland, Simon Jenkins, June 24, 2016. Bully-boy antics and broken promises to build the ‘greatest luxury golf resort in the world’ have driven the billionaire’s reputation into the rough.

As the Donald descended from the steps of Trump Force One and attempted to shield his wayward hair from the easterly winds sweeping across the Tarmac of Aberdeen airport, he would have expected a frosty reception. Trump, ignoring the record-breaking petition calling for him to be banned from the UK for “hate speech,” is in Scotland as part of a whistlestop tour of his two Scottish golf courses. The first port of call will be Turnberry – now renamed Trump Turnberry – after an investment claimed by the Trump Organisation to be £200m. But it is at his Menie estate in Aberdeenshire where the Mexican flags are flying high.

Michael Forbes and David Milne, who were among the residents Trump threatened with compulsory purchase orders when they refused to sell him their properties to make way for a luxury golf resort, have hoisted the flags in a show of solidarity with the people of Mexico. Trump, of course, has pledged to build a 2,000-mile wall along the Mexican border “very inexpensively” to stop “rapists and drug dealers” from entering the US if he becomes president.

As I documented in my first Trump film, You’ve Been Trumped, at the crack of dawn one morning in 2010, the billionaire’s bulldozers sprang into action and began dumping thousands of tons of earth around the homes of local residents Susan Munro and David Milne, after the tycoon had branded their houses ugly. Trump’s builders (who had no planning permission for these works, according to the residents) had already been caught on camera, burying trees in an enormous hole next to the mounds of earth piled up to shield Forbes’s farm from the view of Trump’s golfers. Trump had blasted Forbes on national television for “living like a pig” and his working farm “a pigsty”.

Donald Trump button open mouthIn many ways, Trump’s loss-making development at the Menie estate is a microcosm of what’s been going on during his run for the White House. When Trump pledged to be the “jobs president”, Scots were quick to remember his broken promises on jobs. Trump claimed he would create 6,000 jobs through his golf course resort and spend £1bn building the “greatest luxury golf resort in the world.” In fact, no “resort” was ever built. Around 100 jobs have been created on the Menie estate and a single golf course is in operation, along with a granite-clad clubhouse. It is estimated he has spent less than 5% of the original investment pledged. Plans for a second golf course have yet to materialize – much to the relief of local residents who fear it would destroy another stretch of wild dunes.

The bullying of local residents and failure to deliver on economic promises are perhaps the main reasons why the billionaire’s popularity rating in Scotland is at rock bottom. While there has been endless debate about the many outrageous statements that Trump has made during the presidential campaign, the events at the Menie estate prove that what Trump says and what he does are two very different things.

Here he used his money and access to power and the media to intimidate ordinary people; he made outrageous promises to hoodwink the gullible (including, alas, the Scottish government); and he showed a breathtaking disdain for the environmental toll of his relentless pursuit of personal gain. It is a cautionary tale for Americans going to the ballot box in November, and for the people of Britain, who have lost, for ever, an irreplaceable part of our common natural heritage.

Lllewellyn King photo and logo

White House Chronicle, The Role of England in the British Debacle, Llewellyn King, June 24, 2016. Llewellyn King, shown above, is a longtime journalist and founder of the syndicated television program and column White House Chronicle. The English appear to have laid down the burden of sanity. They have voted to leave the European Union. It was never about Great Britain; it was always at its kernel about England. There was always a primal, nativist, historically-seated English antipathy to Europe and by extension to the European project.

I should know. You could say I was there in the beginning.  Way back in the early 1960s, as a young journalist, I worked for Lord Beaverbrook, the Canadian-born newspaper publisher who led the early fight against the European Economic Community, also called the Common Market.I believed when Britain finally joined what is now the European Union in 1973 that a decade earlier we had been wrong.

And I believe that leaving the European Union today is terribly wrong, a ghastly self-inflicted wound that will hasten the end of the United Kingdom, cause a surge in right-wing bigotry in Europe, and leave no one -- not one individual in any country of Europe -- better off, particularly the residents of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In Britain, as in America, and most recently in Italy, it is now apparent that the old left-right divide does not address a smoldering anger that affects the democracies of the world. Give angry people something to smash and they will smash it. The angry English have just smashed up the place where they live. It is ineffably sad for those who have followed Europe’s attempt to come together, to boost trade, and to end war in on the continent.

PaulCraigRoberts.org, The Brexit Vote: What does it mean?  Paul Craig Roberts (shown in file photo), June 24, 2016. Hopefully, a breakup of the EU and NATO and, thereby, the avoidance of World War III. The EU and NATO are Paul Craig Robertsevil institutions. These two institutions are mechanisms created by Washington in order to destroy the sovereignty of European peoples. Without the EU and NATO, Washington could not force Europe and the UK into conflict with Russia, and Washington could not have destroyed seven Muslim countries in 15 years without being isolated as a hated war criminal government.

Washington, in an effort to save its power over Europe, launched a campaign, willingly joined by presstitutes and the brainwashed left-wing, who flocked to the One Percent’s banner that presented the effort to preserve British liberty and sovereignty as racism.

This dishonest campaign shows beyond all doubt that Washington and its media whores have no regard whatsoever for liberty and the sovereignty of peoples. Washington regards every assertion of democratic rule as a barrier to its hegemony and demonizes every democratic impulse. Reformist leaders in Latin America are constantly overthrown by Washington, and Washington asserts that only Washington and its terrorist allies have the right to choose the government of Syria, just as Washington chose the government of Ukraine.

PaulCraigRoberts.org, More on Brexit, Paul Craig Roberts, June 24, 2016. Dr. Roberts, assistant Treasury Secretary during the Reagan administration, is a conservative scholar whose most recent book is "The Neoconservative Threat To World Order," a collection of his columns. 

Information continues to come in about the Brexit vote. A member of the British Army said that 90% of the lads in his unit voted to leave. They voted exit because they do not believe they should be involved in Washington's wars. He said that his unit agreed that the wars are dictated by Washington, via Brussels, and not by the British people. He also said that that the soldiers were “taking their own pen” to the ballot box, because “they only use pencils at the polls and they could be rubbed out and changed.”

Richie Allen in London, a radio presenter in Manchester, England, said that as an Irishman he remembers how the Irish vote against the EU was overturned when the people rejected the Lisbon Treaty and that already in England “they’ve begun talking about the possibility that the EU will come back with a better offer.” In other words, the exit vote is not being treated as meaningful.

The British people might think that they are out of the EU, but they are not. They have a long hard fight ahead. Washington and the British political and media establishments that serve Washington are not going to let them leave.

Salon, The Syria dilemma: Dissecting the leaked diplomats memo calling for Obama to get tougher on Assad, Patrick Lawrence, June 24, 2016. Something smells fishy when a hawkish State Dept. memo "leaks" to the Times on the eve of Sec. Clinton's nomination. 

Syria FlagIt has been clear for some time that the Syria conflict was bound to turn into some magnitude of Waterloo for the policy cliques in Washington. It is doing so as we speak. Read into this carefully and you find that you are living through a moment of history. Prompting this thought is a State Department memorandum intentionally shared last week with the government-supervised New York Times. It is nominally the work of 51 dissenting diplomats none of whom are named — and calls for “a more muscular military posture” in Syria. There is a lot of subtle choreography in this development — the document, the pre-arranged “leak,” the Times’ unusually extensive parse of the memorandum’s language, the staged public debate that ensued. A certain story is being conveyed. It is worth understanding it — providing you understand it is a story and it is being told to advise you of the proper way to think about Syria, what we have done there and what we may do in the future.   

Before proceeding further, the “dissent channel” letter provided for publication in the Times is here in draft form. And here is the Times’ careful interpretation of it as carried in Wednesday’s paper.

I urge readers to consider the document and the Times’ analysis with a couple of thoughts halfway back in the mind:

One, you are reading an expression of “frustration, even outrage,” as the Times put it, as those who execute American policy abroad discover they no longer enjoy the limitless prerogative they were trained to expect and exercise. This is the larger interpretation of what has just been put before us, and it is very large. It is at last dawning on the Foggy Bottom set that they are living in the 21st century. The news may arrive bitterly, but those favored in a given era are always going to reet its passing. These we call reactionaries.

Two, Hillary Clinton is likely to be elected Barack Obama’s successor in a few short months. This may seem entirely unrelated to the newly disclosed memo, but in my view just the opposite is the case: Clinton’s anticipated victory in November is what this document is all about. 

Washington Post, When it comes to Trump, a Republican Treasury secretary says: Choose country over party, Henry M. Paulson Jr., June 24, 2016. Henry Paulsen, shown in a 2006 official photo as Treasury Henry Paulson 2006 Treasury Secretary photoSecretary during the Bush administration, is chairman of the Paulson Institute and a former chief executive of Goldman Sachs. Republicans stand at a crossroads. With Donald Trump as the presumptive presidential nominee, we are witnessing a populist hijacking of one of the United States’ great political parties. The GOP, in putting Trump at the top of the ticket, is endorsing a brand of populism rooted in ignorance, prejudice, fear and isolationism. This troubles me deeply as a Republican, but it troubles me even more as an American. Enough is enough. It’s time to put country before party and say it together: Never Trump.

American FlagI’m not the first Republican to say Trump is a phony and should not be president, and I expect there will be many more to come. But as a former chief executive and treasury secretary, I hope to bring an additional perspective to the discussion. Let’s start by talking about his business acumen. When Trump assures us he’ll do for the United States what he’s done for his businesses, that’s not a promise — it’s a threat. The tactics he has used in running his business wouldn’t work in running a truly successful company, let alone the most powerful nation on Earth.

When it comes to the presidency, I will not vote for Donald Trump. I’ll be voting for Hillary Clinton, with the hope that she can bring Americans together to do the things necessary to strengthen our economy, our environment and our place in the world. To my Republican friends: I know I’m not alone.

Washington Post, One of Scalia’s final opinions will shorten some federal prison sentences, Ann E. Marimow​, June 24, 2016. Hundreds, if not thousands, of inmates are likely to serve less time — and in some cases get immediate release — because the justice found the criminal code "unconstitutionally vague."

Brookings Institution, Speaking Nonsense to Power: Misadventures in Dissent Over Syria, Jeremy Shapiro, June 24, 2016. Jeremy Shapiro (shown in a file photo, is a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.  He served in the State Department from 2009-2013.  Anyone with a conscience is frustrated and saddened by the ongoing tragedy in Syria. The 51 mid-level officers at the State Department who wrote a “dissent cable” Jeremy Shapiroadvocating the use of force feel this frustration more acutely than most. One can understand and respect their despair. I was deeply impressed, when I worked at the State Department, by how much State Department officials cared about the Syrian people and how tirelessly they worked to improve the situation in Syria.

But, alas, caring is not a plan and despair is not a strategy. As Vice President Biden has noted, the dissent cable replays a thousand debates within the Obama administration since 2011 on whether and how to deploy U.S. force in Syria. The fundamental problem was that none of these ideas ever contained a remotely believable description of how a forceful U.S. intervention might advance U.S. interests or even stabilize Syria. Of course, war always contains risks and there are never guarantees. But you still need a credible theory of victory that at least describes how you intend to satisfy your objectives.

New York Post, CNN staff revolts over Corey Lewandowski hire, Emily Smith and Ian Mohr, June 24, 2016. Sources told Page Six on Friday that CNN’s “facing a near internal revolt” over Jeff Zucker’s hiring of Corey Lewandowski as an exclusive commentator for the news network days after he was fired as Donald Trump’s campaign manager.
The Post reported on Monday that the Donald’s daughter Ivanka gave her dad an ultimatum to cut Corey loose after she was distressed by news he’d grabbed reporter Michelle Fields by the arm at a Florida event, and by a Page Six report that he recently got into a shouting match on a Midtown street with campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks.

At CNN, the hiring of the former Trump campaign manager on Thursday didn’t only alienate women on staff. A source further said that “Latinos and others in the newsroom feel betrayed by an homage to Trump,” so “they may do a public letter” objecting to the move. A different source said, “Everyone at CNN — and even people who used to work there — are pissed about Trump’s former campaign manager being hired on salary.” A source previously told Page Six that Lewandowski’s getting as much as $500,000 for the new gig, but a CNN spokesperson told us on Thursday, “I can assure you we are paying him nowhere near $500,000.”

Meanwhile, CNN’s newest commentator is apparently under a strict nondisclosure agreement as a former Trump staffer. Trump’s NDAs are reportedly binding “at all times thereafter” employment with the candidate has ended. Regarding the newsroom reaction to his hiring, and his salary, Lewandowski told us when reached for comment to direct any inquiries to CNN. A CNN rep didn’t get back to us.

The Montgomery Advertiser, Bentley: 'Potentially criminal' actions in Finance Dept., Brian Lyman, June 24, 2016. Gov. Robert Bentley ordered the removal of two managers in the Department of Finance amid an investigation into the governor called "potentially criminal" actions involving access to law enforcement resources. In a letter dated June 10 and released Friday afternoon, Bentley told Assistant FBI Director Stephen L. Morris that contract personnel working for Finance's Information Services Division (ISD) were "improperly given access to IT resources" supporting the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and the state's Criminal Justice Information Systems (CJIS) network."

June 23

Washington Post, Britain braces for Brexit as strong ‘leave’ results pour in, Griff Witte, Karla Adam and Dan Balz, June 23, 2016. While votes from much of the country have yet to be counted, the count showed a stunningly large percentage of Britons in favor of leaving the E.U., which would have economic, political and security implications around the globe.

The results came after 15 hours of voting, from the remote Scottish isles to the tip of Gibraltar. The referendum could reshape the country’s place in Europe and have economic, political and security implications around the globe.

The results suggested that Britain may be even more deeply polarized than was previously thought, with huge gulfs between the views in thriving metropolitan centers such as London and those in struggling, post-industrial areas in other parts of England.

 

U.S. Supreme Court Eight Members 2016Washington Post, Justices block Obama plan to shield illegal immigrants from deportation, Robert Barnes​, June 23, 2016. A deadlocked Supreme Court handed President Obama a significant legal defeat by refusing to revive his stalled plan to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation and give them the right to work legally in this country.

U.S. Supreme Court SealThe court’s liberals and conservatives deadlocked, which leaves in place a lower court’s decision that the president exceeded his powers in issuing the directive.

The action deals Obama perhaps the biggest legal loss of his presidency and leaves in limbo about 4 million undocumented immigrants whom the initiative was intended to help: those who have been in the country since 2010, have committed no serious crimes, and have family ties to U.S. citizens or others lawfully in the United States.

Dallas Morning News, Supreme Court upholds UT’s use of affirmative action in college admissions, Todd J. Gillman, June 23, 2016. The U.S. Supreme Court handed a win today to the University of Texas and other colleges that use race as a factor in admissions, in a case involving a complaint from a white Houston-area student who asserted that her rejection in 2008 was unfair.

The 4-3 ruling is a major victory for advocates of affirmative action, with the court finding that UT’s race-conscious admissions program was lawful under the Equal Protection Clause. (Full ruling here.)

Anthony M. Kennedy Official PhotoThe case stems from the efforts by Abigail Fisher to challenge her rejection by UT’s flagship campus. This was the high court’s second look, with the justices upholding an appeals court ruling in the case.

“The court’s affirmance of the University’s admissions policy today does not necessarily mean the university may rely on that same policy without refinement. It is the university’s ongoing obligation to engage in constant deliberation and continued reflection regarding its admission policies,” read the majority opinion, written by Justice William Kennedy, a Republican appointee shown in a file photo. Justice Elena Kagan, a Democrat, did not participate in the ruling.

"I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has ruled that students applying to the University of Texas can be treated differently because of their race or ethnicity,” Fisher said in a statement. “I hope that the nation will one day move beyond affirmative action.” UT president Greg Fenves lauded the ruling.

Washington Post, House GOP votes to go home for July 4 recess in bid to thwart sit-in, Karoun Demirjian, Kelsey Snell and Ed O'Keefe, June 23, 2016.​ House Republicans voted this morning to send members home for the holiday recess after a 16-hour protest on the chamber floor staged by Democrats seeking votes on gun-control measures. But the sit-in, which began early Wednesday, continued as Democrats called for action to be taken following the mass shootings in Orlando.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), The Use of Error-Prone and Unfair Watchlists Is Not the Way to Regulate Guns in America, Hina Shamsi and Chris Anders, June 23, 2016. In the wake of the attack on LGBTQ Americans in Orlando, gun control is again at the forefront of the national conversation.  It is also the subject of proposed legislation in Congress.  We at the ACLU, like many other Americans, are appalled by the Orlando tragedy. We have deep concerns, however, about legislative efforts to regulate the use of guns by relying on our nation’s error-prone and unfair watchlisting system.

Our nation’s watchlisting system is error-prone and unreliable because it uses vague and overbroad criteria and secret evidence to place individuals on blacklists without a meaningful process to correct government error and clear their names.  The government contends that it can place Americans on the No Fly List who have never been charged let alone convicted of a crime, on the basis of prediction that they nevertheless pose a threat (which is undefined) of conduct that the government concedes “may or may not occur.” Criteria like these guarantee a high risk of error and it is imperative that the watchlisting system include due process safeguards — which it does not. In the context of the No Fly List, for example, the government refuses to provide even Americans who know they are on the List with the full reasons for the placement, the basis for those reasons, and a hearing before a neutral decision-maker.

Baltimore Sun, Freddie Gray case: Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. not guilty on all charges, Justin Fenton and Kevin Rector, June 23, 2016.​ The Baltimore Police van driver accused of giving a "rough ride" that killed Freddie GrayFreddie Gray (shown at right) was acquitted of all charges Thursday by Circuit Judge Barry Williams. Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., 46, had faced the most serious charges of any of the six officers indicted in Gray's arrest and death last April, including second-degree depraved heart murder. Goodson was also acquitted of three counts of manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.

Marilyn MosbyHis acquittal, which comes after Williams considered the charges for three days, throws the rest of the cases into jeopardy. The other officers charged face similar, but lesser accusations. Prosecutors [including State Attorney Marilyn Moseby, shown at left] alleged Goodson had five chances to render aid to Gray after his neck was broken in the back of the van, which they said demonstrated a "depraved heart."

They also said Goodson was the direct cause of the injuries, driving the van in a reckless manner that threw him in the back of the van's steel cage, shackled but unrestrained by a seat belt. As a certified field training officer, prosecutors said Goodson knew Police Department rules and broke them.

Washington Post, Here’s a better way to punish the police: Sue them for money, Jon O. Newman, June 23, 2016. Jon O. Newman is a senior judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The acquittal Thursday of another Baltimore police officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray, like the acquittal 25 years ago of the Los Angeles officers who beat Rodney King, reveals the inadequacy of the criminal-law remedy. Suing the police for money under a strengthened federal civil rights law would be a better response to police misconduct.

Washington Post, Democrats end sit-in after chaotic 26 hours in House, Karoun Demirjian, Kelsey Snell and Ed O'Keefe, June 23, 2016. Lawmakers ended the dramatic protest they staged on the House floor but pledged to continue to pressure Republicans to hold votes on gun-control measures. Tired of what they viewed as a Democratic publicity stunt, Republicans early Thursday morning formally adjourned for the July 4 recess.

Washington Post, Donald Trump had no choice but to give his campaign almost $50 million, Chris Cillizza, June 23, 2016. Donald Trump did something Thursday that you might not think is all that big a deal: He forgave more than $50 million in personal loans to his presidential campaign.

Donald Trump for President logoThis isn't new money Trump is donating to the campaign. It's money that has already been given — and spent. But, that misses how important — and necessary — what Trump did actually is: In forgiving the personal loans, he turned them into contributions. What that means in plain English is that he can't refund that $50 million to himself out of the campaign's coffers — now or ever.

Many major Republican donors have been sitting on the sidelines for the seven-plus weeks Trump has been the presumptive nominee. There are lots of reasons for their unwillingness to back Trump more fully, but the biggest one was that they simply didn't trust that Trump was genuinely committed to the race.

Why spend time and political capital — not to mention money — on a guy who, at any moment, might take the cash you collected and use it not to beat Hillary Clinton but rather to make himself whole again? The idea of helping Trump stay exactly as rich as he was before this campaign began didn't sit well with major donors, many of whom fundamentally disagree with him on lots of policy matters as well. That Trump had repeatedly insisted he would forgive his loans — and repeatedly refused to do so — also didn't make these donors particularly sanguine.

It became clear earlier this week that Trump's lack of major donor support was badly hampering his ability to raise money. In May — a month in which he was the presumptive Republican nominee for 27 days — Trump raised a stunningly low $3.1 million and ended the month with $1.3 million in the bank. That was, roughly 1/42 of how much Clinton had in the bank at that point. Cue panic.

Washington Post, Ryan rolls out a policy agenda House Republicans can use in November, Mike DeBonis and Kelsey Snell​, June 23, 2016.​The speaker hopes it will bolster the bare-bones proposals offered by presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

The Rev. Walter Fauntroy, phoWalter Fauntroytographed two weeks ago at a home in Ajman, United Arab Emirates. (U.S. Consulate official/Courtesy of Johnny Barnes)

Washington Post, Walter Fauntroy vows to return from UAE to face legal, financial troubles, Ian Shapira, June 23, 2016. The Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy, the former District delegate to Congress and civil rights legend who left Washington in 2012 for the Persian Gulf — leaving his aging wife in debt and eluding a criminal charge in Maryland — vowed in his first interview in four years that he is coming home next week.

Fauntroy, 83, said he has been living rent-free for the past three months in Ajman, just north of Dubai, in the guest room of an apartment occupied by a South Sudanese couple and their son. He said that at some point in recent weeks, the State Department somehow located him at his host’s apartment and left messages for him to call. Fauntroy did, and eventually, he said, two U.S. officials visited to offer him help to fly home.

“They said, ‘We’ve been asked to see if we can help you get home.’ I said, ‘Thank you.’ It was an answer to prayer,” Fauntroy said. “I want to come home. It’s blistering hot, and I’ll be happy to come home for that reason, but also so I can see my wife, my son, my daughter and my new grandson. ‘New’ for me, because it’s been two years since he’s been born.”

For a long time, no one could pinpoint the location of Fauntroy, a retired pastor at New Bethel Baptist Church who helped the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. plan the 1963 March on Washington.

The Hill, Post Orlando, hawks make a power play, Julian Hattem, June 23, 2016. National security hawks are flexing their muscles in Congress following the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
The Senate on Wednesday came just one vote shy of passing a measure from Republican leaders that would have allowed the FBI to obtain terrorism suspects’ internet browsing histories, email histories and other records without warrants.

The defeat may be just a hiccup. GOP leaders immediately made moves to bring the proposal back, and the absence of several top lawmakers during Wednesday’s vote suggests it will likely pass next time.

Oil Well Persian Gulf SMU Library

Modern and traditional modes of transportation posed together in front of an oil derrick in the Persian Gulf. (Credit: DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University, Robert Yarnall Richie Photograph Collection.)

National Security Archive, U.S., Britain Developed Plans to Disable or Destroy Middle Eastern Oil Facilities from Late 1940s to Early 1960s in Event of a Soviet Invasion, Staff report, June 23, 2016. British Plans Envisioned Using Nuclear Weapons as an Option in Iran and Iraq, According to Declassified Documents. Recently discovered British documents posted today by the National Security Archive provide a new and revealing account of the CIA’s role in a top-secret plan to ravage the Middle East oil industry.

As early as 1949, President Harry Truman approved methods for keeping the Soviet military from using Middle East petroleum if it ever invaded the region. This denial policy called for American and British oil companies in the Middle East to disable or destroy oil facilities and equipment, and plug the region’s oil wells. The policy evolved during Eisenhower’s presidency and lingered at least into the Kennedy administration, as described in today’s posting.

Robert Bentley and Rebekah Caldwell MasonLegal Schnauzer, Rebekah Caldwell Mason's financial difficulties and Robert Bentley's boredom with an idyllic life led to an epic scandal, according to new report at GQ magazine, The scandal enveloping Alabama Roger Shuler, June 23, 2016. Gov. Robert Bentley started when one of his sons tried to help a family at his church that was going through rough financial times. Gov. Bentley was susceptible to sexual temptation because . . . well, he married young, was averaging looking (at best), and he was not used to receiving come-ons -- especially from former beauty-queen types like Rebekah Caldwell Mason. See: GQ Magazine, The Love Song Of Robert Bentley: Alabama's Horndog Governor.

June 22

Foreign Policy In Focus, Does the Brexit Vote Mark the End of Internationalism? John Feffer, June 22, 2016. Far-right nationalists and neoliberal capitalists will survive the demise of institutions like the EU. What about the rest of us?

If the leaveniks succeed, the British prime minister will likely invoke what’s known as the “article 50 procedure,” which functions like a divorce settlement — a two-year period of negotiations over who gets what and how the parties shall thenceforth behave. That agreement would require passage in the Council of Ministers and a majority vote in the European parliament and the British parliaments. A separate deal that addresses trade with the EU would require ratification in every EU member state.
No one ever said that divorce was easy.

Huffington Post, Democrats Cause Chaos On House Floor As Republicans Pretend Everything Is Fine, Matt Fuller, June 22, 2016. House Democrats pushing for a vote on gun legislation gave no sign they would stop their sit-in. Democrats took over the House floor Wednesday in a demonstration over Republican leaders’ refusal to hold a vote on gun legislation.

Paul RyanAs Democrats loudly chanted “No Bill, No Break,” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) gaveled the House back into session, nearly 11 hours after the Democratic sit-in began. Democrats earlier in the day began protesting the Republican refusal to take up the so-called No Fly, No Buy legislation, which would bar people on the terrorist watch list from purchasing guns. It was an incredible scene, as Democrats clogged the House floor, holding the printed names of gun victims over their heads and shouting over the speaker.

Ryan, meanwhile, ignored the protests and read a prepared script to set up a procedural vote, pretending that the House was in order and that Democrats weren’t breaking rules.

USA Today, Ex-House Speaker Dennis Hastert starts prison term, Doug Stanglin, June 22, 2016. Former House speaker Dennis Hastert reported to prison in Minnesota on Wednesday to begin serving a 15-month sentence in a case involving millions in hush money paid to cover up his sexual abuse of teenage students 30 years ago. Hastert, 74, partially wheeled himself into the Rochester Federal Medical Center complex, which is surrounded by high, razor-wire fencing. A woman followed behind him, carrying crutches.

As a diabetic who suffered a stroke last year, the former congressman will serve his sentence in the medical center prison in Minnesota that handles inmates requiring specialized or long-term medical or mental health care. Hastert was sentenced in April in Chicago by federal Judge Thomas Durkin who called him a "serial child molester" for sexually abusing at least four boys when he was a wrestling coach at Yorkville high school in Illinois. He was convicted of evading banking laws to cover up the payments to one of his victims. Prosecutors described the payments as something akin to an out-of-court settlement, saying Individual A wanted to bring in lawyers and put the agreement in writing but that Hastert refused.

Hastert represented an Illinois district in Congress for 24 years, the last eight as Speaker of the House. He will be identified in prison as inmate 47991-424.

Dennis HastertABC News Chicago, Dennis Hastert's first night as federal inmate in Minnesota, Chuck Goudie, June 22, 2016. Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert reported to the Federal Medical Center prison in Rochester, Minn. to begin serving his 15-month sentence. He was seen rolling himself into the facility in a wheelchair with a woman's help two hours before his 2 p.m. deadline. So on Wednesday it came down to just Hastert and a woman who appeared to be his wife, Jean, who dropped him off and quickly left.

President Obama greets Secretary of State John Kerry Dec. 16, 2015President Barack Obama greets Secretary of State John Kerry before their meeting in the Oval Office, Dec. 16, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

New York Times, The False Lure of Military Intervention in Syria, Editorial Board, June 22, 2016. The criticism of the Obama administration’s approach to the war in Syria leveled by 51 midlevel State Department diplomats has raised again the issue of whether limited military strikes by the United States against the government of President Bashar al-Assad would help push it toward a peace deal.

The escalating war in Syria has killed 400,000 Syrians, mostly by Mr. Assad’s forces, and displaced 12 million others. Efforts to maintain a cease-fire by the many sides involved in the fight — the Assad forces, their allies Russia and Iran and the various anti-Assad opposition groups — have crumbled, while the Islamic State, which has established a stronghold in Syria, threatens the region and the world.

All this deeply frustrates many American diplomats. But describing the crisis is not the same as having a workable and rational alternative strategy. The diplomats have not made a case for direct American military action that President Obama and his senior aides have not already considered and wisely rejected. The administration believes that such action could lead to even greater chaos while committing the United States to a deeper role in yet another Middle East war.

New York Times, The State Department’s Dissent Memo on Syria: An Explanation, Max Fisher, June 22, 2016. On Thursday, The New York Times obtained a draft version of a State Department memo that sharply criticizes the Obama administration’s Syria policy and calls for limited military strikes against that country’s government. The memo, signed by 51 diplomats, was sent through an agency “dissent channel” that was established during the Vietnam War to air internal criticism.

New York Post, US troops in Syria is starting to look inevitable, Benny Avni, June 22, 2016. If Hillary Clinton is the next US president, prepare for a deeper American military involvement in Syria’s civil war — one that won’t seek to maintain a status quo but to crush ISIS where it’s strongest, perhaps with American boots on the ground.

National Press Club, Perez dodges questions about VP chances, slams Trump without naming him, Michelle Amber, June 22, 2016. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez highlighted a number of recent rulemakings that Tom Perez National Press Club June 22, 2016he said would benefit American workers and retirees. Photo/Image: Noel St. John. U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez repeatedly declined on June 22 to answer questions about whether he is being considered as a running mate with presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. At a National Press Club luncheon, Perez, who has been mentioned as one of nine possible candidates being considered by Clinton for vice president, would not say whether he is being vetted.

GQ, The Love Song Of Robert Bentley: Alabama's Horndog Governor, Jason Zengerle, June 22, 2016. The sex scandal currently engulfing the governor of Alabama has it all, except a typical villain. Robert Bentley was a kindly old grandpa and Sunday-school teacher. Then he got into politics and found that new temptations come with the keys to the governor’s mansion.

Washington Post, Study finds police officers arrested 1,100 times per year, or 3 per day, nationwide, Tom Jackman, June 22, 2016. Police officers are arrested about 1,100 times a year, or roughly three officers charged every day, according to a new national study.

The most common crimes were simple assault, drunken driving and aggravated assault, and significant numbers of sex crimes were also found. About 72 percent of officers charged in cases with known outcomes are convicted, more than 40 percent of the crimes are committed on duty, and nearly 95 percent of the officers charged are men.

June 21

Michael JacksonHuffington Post, Michael Jackson Stockpiled Nude Images Of Children, According To Police Report, Stephanie Marcus, June 21, 2016. Authorities seized more than 80 video recordings and computer hard drives, as well as notes, diaries, documents, photographs and audiotapes. Police discovered Michael Jackson (shown in a file photo) had a large collection of pornography, which allegedly included images of children, animal torture and gore, reportedly used in his bid to seduce young boys. The collection was revealed in newly surfaced documents obtained by RadarOnline that detail a raid on Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch estate in 2003, carried out as part of an investigation into child molestation charges against the singer.

According to previously unseen reports from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, authorities seized more than 80 video recordings and computer hard drives, as well as notes, diaries, documents, photographs and audiotapes.

Michael Steven Standford, center, at Trump RallyDaily Beast, Michael Steven Sandford, a British Immigrant, Allegedly Confessed That He Tried to Kill Trump, Nico Hines, June 21, 2016. The Secret Service says a young British man admitted that he tried to grab a cop’s gun Donald Trumpand kill Donald Trump. A British citizen who was in the U.S. illegally attempted to assassinate Donald Trump at a campaign rally this weekend, Secret Service officials said. Michael Steven Sandford, 20, allegedly spent a year plotting to kill Trump.

According to an affidavit filed in Las Vegas, he planned to snatch a firearm from a police officer at one of Trump’s events, and shoot the presumptive Republican nominee, who is shown at left in a file photo.

Standford was arrested after making a grab for a cop’s weapon at a campaign rally at the Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas on Saturday. He allegedly approached the police officer and asked about obtaining an autograph from the presumptive Republican nominee before reaching out with both hands and trying to pull the gun from the officer’s holster.

Guardian, Berta Cáceres's name was on Honduran military hitlist, says former soldier, Nina Lakhani, June 21, 2016. Berta Cáceres, the murdered environmental campaigner, appeared on a hitlist distributed to Berta Cáceres 2015US-trained special forces units of the Honduran military months before her death, a former soldier has claimed. Lists featuring the names and photographs of dozens of social and environmental activists were given to two elite units, with orders to eliminate each target, according to First Sergeant Rodrigo Cruz, 20.

Cruz’s unit commander, a 24-year-old lieutenant, deserted rather than comply with the order. Cruz – who asked to be identified by a pseudonym for fear of reprisal – followed suit, and fled to a neighboring country. Several other members of the unit have disappeared and are feared dead. “If I went home, they’d kill me. Ten of my former colleagues are missing. I’m 100% certain that Berta Cáceres was killed by the army,” Cruz told the Guardian.

Cáceres, an indigenous Lenca leader who won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015 for a campaign against the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam, was shot dead in her home in March. Before her murder, she had reported 33 death threats linked to the campaign and had warned international human rights delegates that her name was on a hitlist. Berta Cáceres campaigned to preserve her people’s environment, threatened by a hydroelectric project. A unit trained by U.S. special forces was ordered to kill the environmental activist who was slain in March, according to an ex-member who now fears for his life

BBC, Jordanian troops killed in bomb attack at Syria border, Staff report, June 21, 2016. Six Jordanian security personnel have been killed and 14 hurt in a car bomb attack near a makeshift refugee camp on the Syria-Jordan border, officials say. The attack took place at about 05:30 (02:30 GMT) in the remote Rukban area, a few hundred metres from the camp. The kingdom is part of the US-led coalition against IS and has carried out air strikes on militants in Syria. Tuesday's attack, the first of its kind since the conflict in Syria began in 2011, saw an explosives-laden vehicle blown up beside a military post.

Gary Null Show, New Evidence On Martin Luther King Murder, Gary Null interviews Dr. William Pepper, a King family friend and author who published a new book June 21 naming the murderers, June 21, 2016. William Pepper The Plot To Kill KingWe present new evidence that demands a revision of the history behind the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. An exclusive live press conference happened today over the radio, June 21, at the studios of the Progressive Radio Network.

This is the first presentation to the public with first hand evidence that will revise the official history behind the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. The broadcast is simultaneous with the release of a new authoritative publication, The Plot to Kill King: The Truth Behind the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. The books author, human rights attorney William Pepper Esq, has compiled 39 years of private and legal investigation into the murder of one of the world’s greatest civil rights and non-violent anti-war heroes.

Pepper was Dr. King’s personal friend during the latter year of his life. Later he legally represented James Earl Ray and the King family to exonerate Ray and indict the US government as a conspirator in the assassination. Pepper’s evidence is based upon tens of thousands of hours of research, key sworn depositions, legal testimonies and private interviews with hundreds of persons both guilty and innocent.

Evidence of the role of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and his lover and second in command at the FBI Clyde Anderson Tolson in financing the actual murder; The orchestration of James Earl Ray’s escape from prison and his subsequent grooming as a patsy and conviction as the lone gunman

New York Times, Kerry Meets With State Dept. Dissenters Urging Action on Syria, David E. Sanger, June 21, 2016. The eight midlevel Foreign Service officers stepped into John Kerry’s formal outer office at the State Department on Tuesday — a room that few of them had ever entered before — to tell him that he was pursuing a path in Syria that would never bring an end to a gruesome civil war.

Fifth ColumnThe argument was not new to Mr. Kerry — he, in fact, has offered versions of it himself in the Situation Room and the Oval Office. But for half an hour, according to several participants, the secretary of state and the eight officials engaged in a surprisingly cordial conversation about whether there was a way, in the last six months of the Obama presidency, to use American military force to help end a conflict that by some estimates has claimed 500,000 lives.

The eight were among 51 State Department employees who signed a “dissent channel” cable to Mr. Kerry last week, a letter that was leaked so quickly that it appeared clearly intended to send a message to President Obama that his own diplomats could not back his cautious policy.

John KerryMr. Kerry, several participants said, was careful to never explicitly agree with their critique, or let on that he, too, has argued that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria will continue to bomb, starve and blockade his own people unless negotiations are backed by some form of military pressure.

Lawfare, The Obama Legal Team and the Lawfulness of Attacking Assad, Charlie Savage, June 21, 2016. Charlie Savage is a Washington correspondent for the New York Times and has been covering post-9/11 legal-policy issues since 2003. He is the author of the books Power Wars: Inside Obama's Post-9/11 Presidency and Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy.

Several prominent law professors who were formerly members of the Obama national security legal team are debating the “dissent memo” signed by 51 mid-level career State Department diplomats about the administration’s current policy toward Syria. The diplomats think the United States should carry out airstrikes against the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad, not just against the Islamic State.

The debate has raised a section of Power Wars that reported out the behind-the-scenes legal policy deliberations over the 2012-13 “Syria red line” episode, including the existence and contents of a secret 17-page administration legal memo that assessed the legality of using force unilaterally against Assad’s forces. But I don’t think the debate has perfectly reflected what my reporting showed.

Stratfor, A Brazen Russian Gambit in Syria, Staff report, June 21, 2016. Whether a ploy to draw the United States into coordinating with its forces or an attempt to undercut a potentially threatening rebel group, Russia took a bold step in Syria a few days ago. Russian aircraft carried out a series of airstrikes June 16 against U.S.-backed New Syrian Army forces close to al-Tanf, a border crossing between Iraq and Syria near Jordan. Russia has denied conducting an attack there, despite video evidence of damage and remnants of Russian cluster bomblets at the site. The United States even detailed how its fighter aircraft were sent to warn away Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers, which then returned to the site to carry out more strikes once the U.S. fighters left to refuel. No matter how one examines it, this is a brazen move on Russia's part.

Washington Post, The entire rationale for Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy is crumbling, Paul Waldman, June 21, 2016. The news for Donald Trump has transitioned from a series of stories about appalling things he has said to a series of stories about what a disaster his campaign is, at least for the moment. Today’s news comes in the form of a shocking Federal Election Commission report that was released last night. For the presumptive nominee of a major party to have only $1.3 million in the bank isn’t just unusual, it’s positively stunning. That figure is what you expect from someone running for a House seat, not someone faced with mounting a national campaign whose costs could approach a billion dollars. And this is a story about much more than money.

Let’s remember what the entire basis of the Trump candidacy is. Trump argues that he can fix America’s problems and make us great again. Why him? Because he’s rich, that’s why. That spectacular, tremendous, mind-boggling wealth is supposed to be proof of Trump’s innate brilliance, his superhuman negotiating skills, his unearthly management expertise. He might not be able to tell you the difference between Medicare and Medicaid or between the deficit and the debt, but he gets things done. If you doubt, just look at the size of his plane. And now, piece by piece, that image is crumbling.

South Front, International Military Review – Syria & Iraq, Staff report, June 21, 2016. The ISIS terrorist group has successfully counter-attacked in the province of Raqqa, re-taking from the Assad forces the Thawrah oil field, the Sfaiyeh oil field, the Sfaiyeh crossroads and Bir Anbaj. The main government forces withdrew. Before this setback, the pro-government forces had been deployed in about 13 km from the strategic Tabaqa military airport. The Syrian Democratic Forces (the Kurdish YPG and some Arab units) have launched a military operation to the west from Manbij. SDF units, supported by the US-led coalition air power have seized the villages Sayadah and Zunqul and launched an advance in the outskirts of the junction of Arab Hassan Kabir.

Unz Review, Fifty-one Foreign Service Officers Can't be Wrong -- Or can they? More bombs and less talk on Syria, Philip Giraldi, June 21, 2016. It is ironic that fifty-one U.S. State Department employees, perhaps overly-generously dignified in the media with the title of “diplomats,” have come out in favor of removing a foreign head of state by force. Detailing their opposition to the status quo, the signatories submitted a dissent memo through established Foreign Service channels. The document itself is classified, even though the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal clearly have obtained copies, presumably leaked to them by some of the dissident officers.

The signatories have reportedly demanded “targeted air strikes” and the “judicious use of stand-off and air weapons which would undergird and drive a more focused and hard-nosed U.S.-led diplomatic process” to bring down the al-Assad government. They justify their dissent by arguing that “The moral rationale for taking steps to end the deaths and suffering in Syria, after five years of brutal war, is evident and unquestionable. The status quo in Syria will continue to present increasingly dire, if not disastrous, humanitarian, diplomatic and terrorism-related challenges.”

The memo describes the Syrian government’s alleged barrel bomb attacks on civilians “the root cause of the instability that continues to grip Syria and the broader region. Crucially, Syria’s Sunni population continues to view the Assad regime as the primary enemy in the conflict. Failure to stem Assad’s flagrant abuses will only bolster the ideological appeal of groups such as (IS), even as they endure tactical setbacks on the battlefield.”

Politico, Secret Service veterans denounce anti-Clinton tell-all book, Edward-Isaac Dovere, June 21, 2016. Former agents blast writer Gary Byrne for having 'underlying motives.'
The author of a new tell-all book about Hillary Clinton could never have seen any of what he claims — he was too low-ranking — say several high-level members of Secret Service presidential details, including the president of the Association of Former Agents of the United States Secret Service.

On Tuesday, AFAUSSS, which is strictly nonpartisan, is set to release a statement blasting Gary Byrne author of “Crisis in Character,” saying members “strongly denounce” the book, which they add has made security harder by eroding the trust between agents and the people they protect.

“There is no place for any self-moralizing narratives, particularly those with an underlying motive,” reads the statement from the group’s board of directors, which says Byrne has politics and profit on his mind. AFAUSSS rarely issues public statements of any kind.

Miami Herald, 4 years after inmate’s brutal death, no punishment, Julie K. Brown, June 21, 2016. Autopsy for Darren Rainey, who died in rigged shower, still secret. One thousand four hundred and sixty one days. That's how long it's been since  Darren Rainey  was forced into a shower by officers at Dade Correctional Institution and left there, under a blistering spray of scalding water, for nearly two hours. It's been four years since Rainey screamed and begged to be let out of the small stall before finally collapsing in a heap, his skin peeling.

Since Rainey's death, it was discovered that he and other mentally ill inmates at the prison had been tortured, beaten, starved and left to sleep in their own excrement. They were doused with buckets of chemicals, over-medicated, kept in extended isolation and placed in painfully cold or blistering showers as punishment for behavior caused mostly by their own illnesses. While Rainey's death has led to some  reforms in the treatment of the mentally ill in Florida prisons, the prison system remains dangerously understaffed and rife with violence, as evidenced by  recent riots and turmoil at Franklin Correctional Institution in north-central Florida.

Details of the June 9 incident at Franklin haven't been made public, and may never be known. The absence of transparency by the agency, critics say, has bred distrust and a lack of confidence that the prison system is truly taking the steps necessary to keep inmates, officers and the public secure. “The bigger picture is that we have officers who are trying to maintain control through intimidation and violence,'' said  George Mallinckrodt,  a psychotherapist who witnessed the mistreatment of inmates while working at Dade Correctional's TCU, or transitional care unit, where Rainey died on June 23, 2012. Mallinckrodt and others with the group SPAN (Stop Prison Abuse Now) have organized a protest at 11 a.m. Thursday — the anniversary of Rainey's death — at the offices of Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle to call attention to the many still-unanswered questions about Rainey's death.

June 20

Charles G. KochWashington Post, The Kochs’ powerful operation isn’t aimed at helping Trump – but it might anyway, Matea Gold, June 20, 2016. It’s focusing on vulnerable GOP Senate candidates, but the presidential race is tough to avoid.

Charles Koch (shown in a file photo), his brother David and their conservative brethren are on track to spend $750 million this cycle through the network, with roughly a third — $250 million — financing the policy and political campaigns of groups such as AFP, Freedom Partners Action Fund, Concerned Veterans for America, the LIBRE Initiative and Generation Opportunity, officials said.

That’s less than the $889 million spending goal that the network initially set at the beginning of the two-year election cycle, in part because of the network’s decision to stay out of the presidential race. Holden said the original figure was more of “wish-list number” that was adjusted “to reflect the reality of where we are now.”

Defense One, Hillary Clinton’s Likely Defense Secretary Wants More US Troops Fighting ISIS and Assad, Patrick Tucker, June 20, 2016. The woman expected to run the Pentagon Hillary Clintonunder Hillary Clinton said she would direct U.S. troops to push President Bashar al-Assad’s forces out of southern Syria and would send more American boots to fight the Islamic State in the region. Michele Flournoy, formerly the third-ranking civilian in the Pentagon under President Barack Obama, called for “limited military coercion” to help remove Assad from power in Syria, including a “no bombing” zone over parts of Syria held by U.S.-backed rebels.

Flournoy (shown below in an official Defense Department photo), and several of her colleagues at the Center for New American Security, or CNAS, have been making the case for sending more American troops into combat against ISIS and the Assad regime than the Obama administration has been willing to commit.

Michele FlournoySince Russia’s increased involvement, the facts on the ground in Syria, she said, “Do not support the kind of negotiated conditions we would like to get to.” U.S. policy should be the removal of Assad even if that meant “using limited military coercion,” Flournoy said, at Monday’s annual CNAS conference in Washington.  

What might that look like?

Last week, three CNAS authors, in a new report, call for the United States to “go beyond the current Cessation of Hostilities.” The United States should press Syria and Russia to agree “not to treat the Southern Front as an extremist group and to cease air attacks on the territory it controls,” wrote Ilan Goldenberg, Paul Scharre, and Nicholas Heras. CNAS says those views are not the entire organization’s, but noted the report was “informed by deliberations of CNAS’ ISIS Study Group, chaired by CNAS CEO Michèle Flournoy and CNAS President Richard Fontaine,” a former foreign policy advisor to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Donald Trump Logo Make America Great AgainWashington Post, Trump entered June with just $1.3 million, while Clinton sat on $42 million war chest, Matea Gold and Anu Narayanswamy, June 20, 2016. Donald Trump loaned his campaign $2.2 million in May and collected $3.1 million in donations, ending the month with less than $1.3 million in bank, according to new campaign finance filings.

Donald Trump 2016 buttonWashington Post, Trump spent more than $1 million in May reimbursing his companies and family, Matea Gold and Anu Narayanswamy, June 20, 2016. Here's a breakdown of some of the biggest expenditures of the presumptive Republican nominee's campaign.

Washington Post, What the Orlando gunman told the police during his rampage, Matt Zapotosky and Mark Berman, June 20, 2016. As he talked on the phone with dispatchers and crisis negotiators from the bathroom of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, gunman Omar Mateen said that a vehicle outside contained explosives and that he would “ignite it” if police tried to “do anything stupid,” according to a partial transcript released by the FBI on Monday.

“In the next few days,” he said, “you’re going to see more of this type of action going on.”

The transcript — even though it does not seem to account for every conversation — provides the most thorough look yet at precisely what Mateen, 29, told police as he holed up inside a bathroom at Pulse, keeping more than 15 people from fleeing to safety after he had shot others. It shows that he spoke of religion and explosives and told negotiators to tell U.S. government officials to stop bombing Syria and Iraq.

The Hill, Feds reverse course, release full Orlando shooter transcript, Julian Hattem, June 20, 2016. The Justice Department quickly reversed course on Monday after coming under intense criticism for redacting Omar Mateen via My Spacereferences to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from the transcript of a 911 call made by Orlando gunman Omar Mateen (shown in a My Space photo). Roughly four hours after releasing the redacted transcript, the administration caved to pressure, releasing the text of the call in full.

“Unfortunately, the unreleased portions of the transcript that named the terrorist organizations and leaders have caused an unnecessary distraction from the hard work that the FBI and our law enforcement partners have been doing to investigate this heinous crime,” the Justice Department and FBI said in a joint statement.

Congressional Republicans railed on the initial redaction, which Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called “preposterous” and said was evidence of the White House misleading the public about the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. "The attempt to selectively edit the record reflects a broader, more serious problem: this administration’s continued effort to downplay and distract from the threat of radical Islamist extremism,” Ryan said in a statement after the Justice Department reversed course. “This is unacceptable. To defeat terrorism we have to be clear-eyed about whom we’re fighting.”

The Hill, Ryan rips 'preposterous' ISIS redaction from shooter transcript, Julian Hattem, June 20, 2016. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) quickly criticized the Justice Department’s decision to redact references to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from a partial transcript of calls made by the Orlando nightclub shooter to negotiators, calling the move "preposterous."

Paul Ryan“We know the shooter was a radical Islamist extremist inspired by ISIS. We also know he intentionally targeted the LGBT community,” said Ryan (shown in official photo) in a statement Monday. “The administration should release the full, unredacted transcript so the public is clear-eyed about who did this, and why.”

The FBI’s decision to withhold references to ISIS, even while saying Omar Mateen called himself and Islamic soldier, has swiftly become a new point of contention between the administration and congressional Republicans. Law enforcement officials said on Monday that authorities made the decision to avoid spreading ISIS’s propaganda and to try to prevent copycats from being inspired by Mateen, who killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in the June 12 attack at a gay nightclub.

The White House punted to federal law enforcement officials when asked whether the transcripts should have been redacted. Press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters the decision to release the transcripts was "made solely by FBI and Justice Department officials.”

Washington Post, Trump parts ways with campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Jose A. DelReal and Sean Sullivan, June 20, 2016. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has parted ways with his embattled campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, amid ongoing scrutiny over several missteps as the real estate mogul has sought to pivot to the general election.

Donald Trump button open mouthTrump has been under heavy fire in recent weeks for a string of damaging controversies, from his clumsy response to the mass shooting in Orlando to his highly personal attacks against a federal judge overseeing two lawsuits against him. The morning after the massacre, Trump tweeted, “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism.”

Huffington Post, Orlando Massacre Wasn't Enough To Spur Senate To Pass Gun Control Bills, Michael McAuliff and Jennifer Bendery, June 20, 2016. Potential terrorists, lone wolves and sleeper cells can still buy all the guns they want. Just over a week after the worst mass shooting in American history, the Senate failed Monday to advance a pair of modest and popular gun violence reform measures.

One would have barred gun sales to anyone who has been on a terrorist watch list in the previous five years or who is "reasonably" suspected of posing a terrorist threat. Another would have tightened the background check system to cover the so-called gun show loophole and all internet gun sales. About 90 percent of the public favors such steps. But neither of the proposals could get the 60 votes needed to advance.

The background checks amendment failed, 44 to 56. Sen. Mark Kirk (Ill.) was the only Republican who supported it. Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) were the only Democrats who opposed it. The terrorist watch list amendment failed, 47 to 53. Kirk and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) were the only Republicans who voted for it. Heitkamp was the only Democrat who opposed it.

Republican National Convention logoPolitico, GOP: Orlando attack justifies Cleveland security limits, Josh Gerstein, June 20, 2016. The deadly Orlando nightclub shooting and campaign-trail attacks on Donald Trump's supporters at campaign events demonstrate the need for protest limits and other security measures in the vicinity of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next month, GOP officials told a federal judge Monday. "The recent attacks against soft targets in San Bernardino and Orlando underscore the importance of taking substantial and comprehensive security measures to protect the safety and well-being of all Convention attendees," convention CEO Jeff Larson wrote.

Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the City of Cleveland, claiming that plans for the convention were likely to abridge the First Amendment rights of demonstrators. Plaintiffs in the case include a national pro-Trump organization, Citizens for Trump, the liberal coalition Organize Ohio, and the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless. The suit challenges restrictions on parade routes available to demonstrators, as well as the breadth of security restrictions in the 3.3-square-mile security zone.

WhoWhatWhy, Investigating the Investigators: The Panama Papers, Staff report, June 20, 2016. While many concerns have been raised about the way the Panama Papers investigation has been handled, there has been little actual evidence of objectionable actions on the part of the ICIJ — until now.trong evidence has emerged that in at least one case — that of Bulgaria — the investigation into the critical Panama Papers files may have been placed in the wrong hands.

And since the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which is responsible for the vetting process, has failed to respond to repeated queries by WhoWhatWhy and other journalists, only the future will show whether this case is isolated — or an example of a systemic problem.

It is hard to overstate the significance of the Panama Papers investigation, which has so far cost the seat of at least one prime minister (that of Iceland) and triggered investigations of many other public figures across the globe.

BBC, Bahrain revokes top Shia cleric Isa Qassim's citizenship, Staff report, June 20, 2016. Bahrain has stripped the Sunni-ruled kingdom's most prominent Shia cleric of his citizenship. An interior ministry statement accused Sheikh Isa Qassim of using his position to "serve foreign interests" and promote "sectarianism and violence." The cleric, who holds the religious rank of ayatollah, has backed protests led by the majority Shia community for greater civil and political rights.

June 19

Jewish Insider via Haaretz, Trump says U.S. should consider racial profiling, cites Israel as a role model, Reuters and Jacob Kornbluh, June 20, 2016. In the wake of the recent San Bernardino, Orlando attacks, the United States should start looking at racial profiling as a tool to prevent future terrorist attacks, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump suggested on Sunday.

Trump also reiterated his support for more scrutiny of mosques, saying that could resemble a controversial New York City surveillance program that has been shut down. "If you go to France right now, they're doing it in France. In fact, in some instances they're closing down mosques."

Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has said the comments show Trump is unfit to be president.

Sergei Lavrov, John Kerry, Vladimir Putin 12-16-2015

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting on Dec. 16, 2015 (Pool photo)

Moon of Alabama via Global Research, Syria – Russian Surprise Attack Blows Up Kerry’s Delaying Tactic, Moon of Alabama (pen name), June 19, 2016. The U.S. is unwilling to stop the war on Syria and to settle the case at the negotiation table. It wants a 100% of its demands fulfilled, the dissolution of the Syrian government and state, and the inauguration of a U.S. proxy administration in Syria.

After the ceasefire in Syria started in late February Obama broke his pledge to separate the U.S. supported “moderate rebels” from al-Qaeda. In April, U.S. supported rebels, the Taliban-like Ahrar al Sham and al-Qaeda joined to attack the Syrian government in south Aleppo. The U.S. proxies broke the ceasefire.

After nearly four months Secretary of State John Kerry still insists that the U.S. needs even more time for the requested separation of its proxy forces from al-Qaeda. The bucket was full and Kerry’s latest request for another three-month pause of attacking al-Qaeda was the drop that let it overflow.

Russia now responded by hitting the U.S. where it did not expect to be hit: Russian warplanes hit Pentagon-backed Syrian fighters with a barrage of airstrikes earlier this week, disregarding several warnings from U.S. commanders in what American military officials called the most provocative act since Moscow’s air campaign in Syria began last year.The strikes hit a base near the Jordanian border, far from areas where the Russians were previously active, and targeted U.S.-backed forces battling the Islamic State militants.

The Russian hit near Tanf was clearly a surprise. The Russians again caught Washington on the wrong foot. The message to the Obama administration is clear. “No more delays and obfuscations. You will separate your moderates NOW or all your assets in Syria will be juicy targets for the Russian air force.”

What then is the next move the U.S. will make?

Elizabeth Warren

Daily Beast, U.S. and Russian Jets Clash Over Syria, David Axe, June 19, 2016. American and Russian fighter jets had a tense showdown in the skies above Syria as the Russians dropped bombs on U.S.-backed rebels. U.S. and Russian fighter jets bloodlessly tangled in the air over Syria on June 16 as the American pilots tried and failed to stop the Russians from bombing U.S.-backed rebels in southern Syria near the border with Jordan.

Huffington Post, Elizabeth Warren: Donald Trump Is A ‘Small, Insecure Money-Grubber,’ Peter Andrew Hart, June 19, 2016. In her feud with Donald Trump, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is taking no prisoners. A week after Warren (shown in a file photo) called Trump a “thin-skinned, racist bully,” she found a way to hammer him even harder.

Speaking at the New Hampshire Democratic State Convention on Saturday, Warren pilloried the presumptive GOP presidential nominee over his statements about people of color and women, and over Trump University, calling him a “proven failure” who is unfit to lead.

“Every day we learn more about him, and every day it becomes clearer that he is just a small, insecure money-grubber who doesn’t care about anyone or anything that doesn’t have the Trump name splashed all over it. Every day it becomes clearer that he is a thin-skinned, racist, sexist bully,” Warren said. “Every day it becomes clearer that he will never be president of the United States.”

Washington Post, Some 911 calls with Orlando shooter will be released, attorney general says, Amber Phillips, June 19, 2016. Loretta Lynch said redacted transcripts will give Americans more context about the motivations for an attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando.

AlterNet, Before Omar Mateen Committed Mass Murder, the FBI Tried To 'Lure' Him Into A Terror Plot, Max Blumenthal and Sarah Lazare. June 19, 2016. New revelations raise questions about the FBI’s role in shaping Mateen’s lethal mindset. Before Omar Mateen gunned down 49 patrons at the LGBTQ Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, the FBI attempted to induce his participation in a terror plot. Sheriff Ken Mascara of Florida’s St. Lucie County told the Vero Beach Press Journal that after Mateen threatened a courthouse deputy in 2013 by claiming he could order Al Qaeda operatives to kill his family, the FBI dispatched an informant to "lure Omar into some kind of act and Omar did not bite."

While self-styled terror experts and former counter-terror officials have criticized the FBI for failing to stop Mateen before he committed a massacre, the new revelation raises the question of whether the FBI played a role in shifting his mindset toward an act of violence. All that is known at present is that an FBI informant attempted to push Mateen into agreeing to stage a terror attack in hopes that he would fall into the law enforcement dragnet.

June 18

Politico, Trump fights racketeering claim in Trump University suit, Josh Gerstein and Maggie Severns, June 18, 2016. Lawyers for Donald Trump are fighting claims that his Trump University real estate seminar Donald Trumpprogram amounted to a racketeering operation under federal law.

In a court filing Friday night, Trump's attorneys reject allegations in a federal class-action lawsuit that Trump University violated the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and that Trump was directly involved in those violations. "This case was an overreach from inception. It stretches civil RICO beyond the breaking point and would effectively federalize consumer advertising fraud claims, and subject officers, directors, and employees of every Fortune 500 company to unwarranted personal liability," Trump lawyers wrote.

Trump is asking U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel to toss out the lawsuit, which is one of two pending class actions. The request comes as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has begun to emerge from a media firestorm he caused by publicly accusing Curiel of bias and attributing that bias to the judge's Latino heritage.

Bashar Al-Assadd

Consortium News, Global Warming Adds to Mideast Hot Zone, Jonathan Marshall, June 18, 2016. While Washington decision-makers debate whether to launch U.S. military strikes against the government of President Bashar al-Assad (above), as if Syria suffers from a shortage of war and foreign intervention, the United States continues to ignore underlying issues that have helped trigger recent conflicts in the Middle East and threaten to create much bigger upheavals in decades to come.

Taking the long view, our number one enemy should not be Assad, or even ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, but climate change. Predictions by climate scientists that the Middle East will become nearly uninhabitable by the end of the century — barring decisive global action to curb carbon pollution — put all current conflicts into much-needed perspective. 

June 17

Miami Herald, ‘Clerical error’ on Orlando killer’s psychological evaluation named wrong doctor, David Ovalle, June 17, 2016. Nine years ago, the state of Florida received documentation from a security firm vouching for the mental health of Omar Mateen, who launched a bloody attack this week on Orlando nightclub patrons. But the psychologist whose name appears on the document in state records said Friday that she never evaluated a man who now ranks as the worst mass killer in American history. In fact, she wasn’t even living in Florida when the evaluation was supposedly completed.

Omar Mateen via My SpaceThe revelation Friday became another source of scrutiny for the G4S security firm, which was known as Wackenhut at the time. The psychological evaluation done for the company, which is required under state law, cleared Mateen to carry a firearm as a private security guard. Mateen is shown in a photo via My Space.

“What I do know is that in September 2007, I was not living or working in Florida, I was not performing any work for Wackenhut, and I did not administer any type of examination to Omar Mateen,” Dr. Carol Nudelman, who now lives in Colorado, said in a statement released through her attorneys to the Miami Herald and other papers who had published her name. The company on Friday called the discrepancy a “clerical error” and said that Mateen was indeed evaluated, but by a different psychologist.

The global security firm — which does work in more than 100 countries — is locally based in Jupiter. Its operations have come under scrutiny a number of times over the years. In the mid-2000s, G4S was accused of overbilling Miami-Dade County taxpayers of at least $3 million for security services that were not actually provided at Metrorail stations. But a criminal case against company employees fizzled in 2012, with charges being dropped against two high-level executives.

In 2009, a G4S employee shot and killed two coworkers while on a security detail in Iraq. A British inquest later revealed the company didn’t do enough to vet the man. The company was also criticized for not providing enough security for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The company fell under the spotlight again Sunday after its employee, Mateen, stormed the Pulse gay nightclub on Sunday, killing 49 and wounding 53. Mateen had been a G4S employee since 2007.

Washington Post, The volatile life of Omar Mateen, Kevin Sullivan and William Wan, June 17, 2016. He often masked his turmoil, but over the years, the Orlando shooter’s inner conflict seemed to explode again and again — toward classmates, toward co-workers, toward his first wife and finally toward the 49 strangers he left massacred on the bloody floor of the Pulse nightclub.

The Unz Review, The Orlando massacre, the lies, the exploitation and unasked questions, The Saker, June 15, 2016. The UNZ Review was founded by California business executive Ron Unz, former publisher of The American Conservative and an unsuccessful GOP candidate for governor in 1996 and for the Senate in 2016. The Review is subtitled: “An Alternative Media Selection: A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media.” Unz described the column below, written by an analyst under the pen name "The Saker," as the review's best-read column this week:

Right from the start, the Orlando shooting made no sense to me and I said so pretty clearly in an article I posted the same day. My main conclusion: that this event had nothing to do with homosexuality, Islam or guns and that:

It is about making us believe that it is about homosexuality, Islam and guns, of course! Less than 24 hours later, two of the key aspects of the official narrative (really, “spin”) are now already falling apart.

The MSM was full of articles denouncing the alleged “homophobia” of the shooter. Even the so-called “alternative” or “independent” echoed this nonsense (see here and here). And now we find out that the shooter himself was a homosexual and that he used “gay dating apps.” So unless we now re-brand Omar Mateen as a “self-hating homosexual” it will be hard to spin this one as a “homophobic hate crime” ....


Photo of Omar Mateen by film maker James Varty drawn from film, The Big Fix, at 34:00 min. by WhoWhatWhy staff

Green Planet, The Big Fix: BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Cover up, Director: Josh Tickell; and Producer and Co-Director Rebecca Tickell (2012 release, 90 min.). An award-winning documentary that examines the April 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico following the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. 

WhoWhatWhy, Russ Baker: Don’t Rush to Judgment in Orlando Shooting, Jeff Schechtman, June 17, 2016. A mainstream narrative is quickly taking shape, as it did following the Boston Marathon bombing. In this week’s podcast Russ Baker begins to ask the questions that will lead to a deeper understanding of events in Orlando. Somewhere between the rush to judgment that is the neatly packaged mainstream version of events in Orlando, and the wilder memes making their way around the Internet resides the truth.

In this week’s podcast, Russ Baker shares  his thoughts about some the questions that he and his team will be raising in the weeks and months ahead. Talking with WhoWhatWhy’s Jeff Schechtman, Russ ruminates on the FBI’s still murky history with Mateen, about the similarities between the Orlando massacre and the Boston Marathon bombings, and about the links between both events and reported efforts by the Bureau to recruit Muslim informants.

Is Orlando another such operation that went tragically off the rails? Reports have circulated that Mateen wanted to join law enforcement or the US military. Had he applied? If so, why was he turned down and where are those records? Russ also talks about the security firm that Mateen worked for, whose lineage traces back to the disgraced and troubled Wackenhut, a power-player in the anti-Communist hysteria of the Vietnam era.

Washington Post, Saudi foreign minister says bond with the U.S. will endure no matter who is in the White House, Karen DeYoung, June 17, 2016. Saudi Arabia, after its powerful deputy crown prince met with President Obama at the White House on Friday, publicly rebutted campaign allegations by both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump that it supports Islamist extremism and said it expects strong U.S. relations to continue no matter who wins the election.

Adel al-Jubeer“Irrespective of who is in the White House,” said Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, close U.S.-Saudi ties “are not based on personal relationships.” Instead, he said at a news conference, they are “based on shared interests,” including Middle East security, counterterrorism, trade, investment and international finance. “This relationship is very solid,” said Jubeir (shown in a file photo).

Earlier this week, as Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who also serves as defense minister, arrived in Washington, Clinton repeated a charge that she first made last year. “It is long past time for the Saudis, the Qataris and the Kuwaitis and others to stop their citizens from funding extremist organizations,” the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said at an Ohio rally. “And they should stop supporting radical schools and mosques around the world that have set too many young people on a path towards extremism.”

American FlagTrump, the expected Republican nominee, has suggested that the Saudis may have been complicit in the 9/11 attacks, threatened to end oil purchases from the kingdom if it does not send ground troops to Syria, and said that it should pay the United States for “protecting” it.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is bipartisan,” Jubeir said, and relations have grown “stronger, broader, deeper” under both Democratic and Republican administrations. While he declined to speak specifically about Trump, Jubeir said that “Secretary Clinton has tremendous experience,” has been to Saudi Arabia many times and “knows the region.”

Jubeir repeated Saudi insistence that the “28 pages,” as they are known, redacted from a 2002 Senate report on the al-Qaeda attacks be published in full. The pages, which the Obama administration has indicated it will release this month, are thought to contain FBI work plans for interviewing Saudi citizens and officials who might have had some involvement. The subsequent 9/11 Commission report, published in 2004 after a lengthy investigation, indicated that all of those leads were followed and determined to lack substance.

He also warned that passage of a proposed U.S. law to allow 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia and other countries for compensation would set a dangerous precedent and harm the United States above all. The White House has agreed, threatening to veto a bill removing sovereign immunity in such cases that has passed the Senate and is awaiting House action.

Jubeir denied reports that his government has threatened to withdraw investment from the United States if it becomes law. But he acknowledged that he, the former Saudi ambassador to Washington, had pointed out that it would cause the international financial system to revert to the “law of the jungle” and said the country with “the most to lose is the United States . . . the largest player in the world.”

Washington Post, Inside Trump’s financial ties to Russia and unusual flattery of Putin, Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman and Michael Birnbaum​,​ June 17, 2016. The GOP candidate's relationship with the Donald TrumpRussian president and his warm views toward the country, which began in the 1980s when the country was still part of the Soviet Union, have emerged as one of the more curious aspects of his presidential campaign.

Washington Post, Ex-McCarthy aide taught Trump to exploit power, draw attention, Robert O’Harrow Jr. and Shawn Boburg, June 17, 2016. Reporting for The Post’s coming biography on the presumptive Republican presidential nominee reveals how famed lawyer Roy Cohn, years after fighting battles for Sen. Joseph McCarthy, showed Donald Trump a blueprint for power.

Donald Trump and Roy CohnDonald Trump was a brash scion of a real estate empire, a young developer anxious to leave his mark on New York. Roy Cohn was a legendary New York fixer, a ruthless lawyer in the hunt for new clients. They came together by chance one night at Le Club, a hangout for Manhattan’s rich and famous. Trump introduced himself to Cohn, who was sitting at a nearby table, and sought advice: How should he and his father respond to Justice Department allegations that their company had systematically discriminated against black people seeking housing?

“My view is tell them to go to hell,” Cohn said, “and fight the thing in court.” It was October 1973 and the start of one of the most influential relationships of Trump’s career. Cohn (shown at center in a file photo with Trump, at left) soon represented Trump in legal battles, counseled him about his marriage and introduced Trump to New York power brokers, money men and socialites.

Cohn also showed Trump how to exploit power and instill fear through a simple formula: attack, counterattack and never apologize. Since he announced his run for the White House a year ago, Trump has used such tactics more aggressively than any other candidate in recent memory, demeaning opponents, insulting minorities and women, and whipping up anger among his supporters.

Judicial Watch, Orlando Terrorist Worked at Company Hired by DHS to Transport Illegal Aliens, Tom Fitton (shown in file photo), June 17, 2016. The ISIS terrorist who committed the worst mass shooting in U.S. history worked for a Tom Fittonsecurity company contracted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to protect federal facilities nationwide and transport illegal immigrants apprehended in the southern border region. Earlier this month, Judicial Watch launched an investigation into the Florida-based security firm, G4S, after breaking a story about illegal immigrants being quietly transported from the Mexican border to Phoenix and getting released without proper processing or court appearance documents.

G4S was contracted by DHS to drive the group of illegal aliens, classified as Other Than Mexican (OTM), from the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector where they were in custody to a Phoenix bus station where they went their separate way. The OTMs were from Honduras, Colombia, El Salvador and Guatemala and Border Patrol officials told Judicial Watch they were in custody for a couple of days and ordered to call family members in the U.S. so they could purchase a bus ticket. Authorities didn’t bother checking the identity of the U.S. relatives or if they’re in the country legally, according to a Border Patrol official directly involved in the matter.

Judicial Watch was on the scene when several vanloads of OTMs arrived at the Phoenix Greyhound station on Buckeye Road just a few days ago. A photo accompanying our story shows one of the uniformed G4S guards that drove a vanload of OTMs from Tucson to Phoenix earlier this month. G4S claims to be the world’s leading security solutions group with operations in more than 100 countries and 610,000 employees. G4S has more than 50,000 employees in the U.S. and its domestic headquarters is in Jupiter, Florida. Judicial Watch has filed a number of public records requests to get more information involving the arrangement between G4S and the government, specifically the transport of illegal immigrants from the Mexican border to other parts of the country.

President Obama, John Kerry, Joe Biden, Susan Rice, 3_9_2015President Barack Obama speaks with Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice following a bilateral meeting with European Council President Donald Tuskin in the Oval Office, March 9, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

New York Times, John Kerry Is Said to Side With Diplomats’ Critical Memo on Syria, Mark Landler, June 17, 2016. For a cabinet member whose department had just erupted into open disagreement with the White House, Secretary of State John Kerry’s reaction to a critical memo on Syria policy signed by 51 diplomats was remarkably mellow. “It’s an important statement,” he told reporters in Copenhagen on Friday, “and I respect the process very, very much.”

Mr. Kerry’s mild tone could be explained by the fact that he had not yet read the document. Or maybe it was because the “dissent channel” is a prized institution at the State Department — one that guarantees employees a way to air objections without fear of reprisal. But the most plausible explanation is that Mr. Kerry more or less agreed with his diplomats.

Their urgent call for the United States to take stronger military action against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria closely resembles the arguments that administration officials say Mr. Kerry has been making in Situation Room debates as he has tried to force Mr. Assad to abide by a cease-fire and agree to a transition of power.

Mr. Kerry, these officials said, has told President Obama that he is operating without any leverage in Syria, and that unless the United States increases the pressure on Mr. Assad, the embattled leader will simply wait out the end of Mr. Obama’s term.

New York Times, State Department Draft Dissent Memo on Syria, Mark Landler, June 17, 2016. In a draft version of a dissent memo filed with the State Department's senior leadership, dozens of diplomats and other mid-level officials called for military strikes against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. The document was provided to The Times by a State Department official on condition that the names of the signers not be published.

New Yorker, Former Ambassador Robert Ford on the State Department Mutiny on Syria, Robin Wright, June 17, 2016. The Obama Administration has long been divided over what to do about Syria. The crisis produced one of the biggest differences between President Obama and Hillary Clinton, his first Secretary of State. The policy chasm has only deepened during the five years of conflict, which has now reportedly claimed almost half a million lives.

The State Department acknowledged tersely on Friday that more than fifty American diplomats had recently submitted a letter of complaint about U.S. policy in Syria through its Dissent Channel, a sort of complaint box through which employees can voice their disagreement with official policy without fear of reprisal. Traveling in Europe, Secretary John Kerry told reporters, “I think it’s an important statement and I respect the process very, very much, and I will probably meet with people or have a chance to talk when we get back.”

Robert FordRobert Ford (shown in an official photo, circa 2011) was the last American ambassador to serve in war-torn Syria. After the uprising erupted, in 2011, Ford dared to visit opposition areas, meet with demonstrators, and pay a condolence call on the family of a slain activist. Ford was pulled out of Damascus over security concerns after the civil war broke out later that year. The State Department charged the regime of President Bashar al-Assad with incitement against Ford.

A long-time Middle East specialist, he continued to work on the Syria crisis from Washington until 2014, when he quit the Foreign Service in frustration over the Administration’s reluctance to provide greater support to the Syrian opposition. “I could no longer defend U.S. policy,” he told me. Ford, who is now a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, in Washington, D.C., discussed the Syria quagmire with me on Friday. The interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

What does the letter of dissent reflect?

Frustration at the State Department has come to a boil. People don’t write in the Dissent Channel every day. The existing policy is failing and will continue to fail.

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)

Moon of Alabama, Know-Nothing “Diplomats” Prepare For Hillary’s War On Syria, "B," June 17, 2016. There are at least 51 stupid or dishonest “diplomats” working in the U.S. State Department. Also – Mark Lander is a stupid or dishonest New York Times writer. The result is this piece: Dozens of U.S. Diplomats, in Memo, Urge Strikes Against Syria’s Assad (By Mark Landler, June 16, 2016).

Russian FlagNote that it was Ahrar al Sham, Jabhat al-Nusra and other U.S. paid and supported “moderates” who on April 9 broke the ceasefire in Syria by attacking government troops south of Aleppo. They have since continuously bombarded the government held parts of Aleppo, which house over 1.5 million civilians with improvised artillery. These State Department loons have their ass covered by Secretary of State Kerry. Otherwise they would (and should) be fired for obvious ignorance. What “judicious” military threat against Russian S-400 air defense in Syria is credible?

These “diplomats” do not know or do not want to follow international law. On what legal basis would the U.S. bomb the Syrian government and its people? They do not name any. There is none. To what purpose would the Syrian government and the millions of its followers be bombed? Who but al-Qaeda would follow if the Assad-led government falls? The “diplomats” ignore that obvious question.

It is obvious and widely documented that the U.S. has been fueling the conflict from the very beginning throughout five years and continues up to today to deliver thousands of tons of weapons to the “moderate rebels.”

The U.S. military continues to reject an escalation against the Syrian government. Its reasonable question “what follows after Assad” has never been seriously answered by the war supporters in the CIA and the State Department. Unexpected support of the U.S. military’s position now seems to come from the Turkish side. The Erdogan regime [whose leader is shown in a file photo] finally acknowledges that a Syria under Assad is more convenient to it than a Kurdish state in north-Syria which the U.S. is currently helping to establish.

Recep ErdoganThe Turks have suddenly removed their support for their “Turkmen” proxies fighting the Syrian government in Latakia in north west Syria. Over the last few days the “Turkmen” retreated and the Syrian army advanced. It may soon reach the Turkish border. Should the Latakia front calm down the Syrian army will be able to move several thousand troops from Latakia towards other critical sectors. The Turkish government, under the new Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, is now also sending peace signals towards Russia.

The situation in Syria could rapidly change in favor of the Syrian government should Turkey change its bifurcating policies and continue these moves. Without their Turkish bases and support the “moderate rebels” would soon be out of supplies and would lack the ability to continue their fighting.

Reuters, Kremlin: Mingling of moderate and extremist Syria rebels complicates air strikes, Dmitry Solovyov, June 17, 2016. The Kremlin complained on Friday that the mingling of so-called moderate rebels with Nusra Front fighters on the ground in Syria made it hard to distinguish between the two when it came to targeting air strikes.

Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, made the remarks when asked to comment on allegations from a senior unnamed U.S. defense official who accused Russian forces in Syria of bombing U.S.-backed rebels. "Our air force operation is continuing in Syria," Peskov told reporters on a conference call. "It is not a secret for anyone that the continuing mingling in places of the so-called moderate opposition with Al-Nusra is a really serious problem. "It really is complicating anti-terrorist action," he said, referring to Russia's campaign of air strikes in Syria.

CNN, Russia bombs U.S.-backed Syrian rebels near Jordan border, Teddy Schleifer and Barbara Starr, June 17, 2016. Russian warplanes bombed U.S. backed Syrian rebels near the Jordanian border, Pentagon Russian Flagofficials say, causing the U.S. to divert armed aircraft to the scene of the strike. The strikes, which the U.S. says killed some New Syrian Army troops, occurred about six miles from the Jordanian border, according to a U.S. defense official. The U.S. diverted armed FA-18s to the area after the first round of two strikes, and the pilots then tried to call the Russians on a previously agreed-upon pilot-to-pilot communications channel but did not receive an answer.

Zero Hedge, Switzerland Withdraws Application To Join EU: Only "Lunatics May Want To Join Now," Tyler Durden, June 17, 2016. Resentment toward the EU hit a new high yesterday when the upper house of the Swiss parliament on Wednesday followed in the footsteps of Iceland and voted to invalidate it’s 1992 application to join the European Union, backing an earlier decision by the lower house. The vote comes just a week before Britain decides whether to leave the EU in a referendum. Twenty-seven members of the upper house, the Council of States, voted to cancel Switzerland’s longstanding EU application, versus just 13 senators against.

To be sure, Switzerland’s longstanding application to join the EU has not had a significant impact on the country’s politics for more than 20 years, as its accession negotiations have been suspended since 1992 in the wake of a referendum to join the European Economic Area, when the Swiss voted down the idea of closer ties with the EU. Coming one week before the Brexit referendum it will be seen as highly symbolic, however, and may give further impetus to the Leave campaign.

Miami Herald, If it talks like a Hitler and walks like a Hitler..., Leonard Pitts Jr., June 17, 2016. Sometimes we learn that the unthinkable is not. You can’t blame people who didn’t realize what Hitler was. But the rest of us have no excuse

June 16

President Obama walks toward White House June 13, 2016

President Barack Obama walks through the Rose Garden to the Oval Office following an all-appointees summer event on the South Lawn, June 13, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and a Republican-led House majority prevailed Thursday in continuing for the United States to use cluster-bombs in Yeman that are banned by 119 other nations as inhumane. The bombing of Yemen is part of the Obama Administration's support for a Saudi Arabian-led bombing campaign since March 2015 killing thousands and subjecting vast numbers of civilians to near starvation in order to install a Saudi-favored leader to rule over its neighbor to the south. Critics call the U.S. assistance genocide inflicted on Yemeni civilians. But supporters say important U.S. interests are served by assistance to the Saudis and other oil-rich Gulf monarchies in their war against the Yemeni Houthis who resist control.

The Intercept, Worried About “Stigmatizing” Cluster Bombs, House Approves More Sales to Saudi Arabia, Alex Emmons, June 16, 2016. The U.S. House narrowly defeated on Thursday a measure that would have banned the transfer of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia, but the closeness of the vote was an indication of growing congressional opposition to the conduct of the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led bombing coalition in Yemen. The vote was mostly along party lines, with 200 Republicans – and only 16 Democrats – heeding the Obama administration’s urging to vote against the measure. The vote was 204-216.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ, 11th District)“The Department of Defense strongly opposes this amendment,” said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J. (11th District, in the Morristown area), chairman of the House Committee on Defense Appropriations (and shown in his official photo).  “They advise us that it would stigmatize cluster munitions, which are legitimate weapons with clear military utility.”

Cluster munitions are large shell casings that scatter hundreds or thousands of miniature explosives over large areas – often the size of several football fields. Some of the bomblets fail to explode on impact, leaving mine-like explosives that kill civilians and destroy farmland decades after a conflict ends.

Cluster bombs are banned by an international treaty signed by 119 countries, not including the United States. The United States opposed the treaty, and instead of signing it, adopted a policy that cluster bombs should never be used in concentrated, civilian areas. Speaking in support of the amendment, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., said Saudi Arabia has deliberately targeted civilians with cluster bombs. “Earlier this year, the Saudi-led coalition dropped cluster bombs in Yemen’s capital of Sanaa, specifically targeting known civilian neighborhoods,” he said. “One of the buildings hit was the al Noor Center for Care and Rehabilitation for the Blind, which also has a school for blind children. The destruction of the school and the injuries sustained by the children was unbearably gruesome.”

The vote came the day after one of the war’s key architects, Mohammed Bin Salman, the Saudi deputy crown prince and defense minister, met with lawmakers to discuss, among other things, “the threat posed by Iranian aggression in … Yemen, and the broader Middle East.”

Mohammed bin Salman and Ashton Carter in DoD meeting, June 16, 2016

Defense Secretary Ash Carter meets with Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia at the Pentagon June 16, 2016 (DoD photo). The Saudi leader came to the United States under what some have described as a "charm offensive" for efforts to diversify the Saudi economy and lessen harsh restrictions on women -- but also in the context of reported threats against the United States if it fails to protect Saudi Arabia from potential legal liability to 9/11 families. The Saudis also are reported to want the United States to step up military action to overthrow Syria's government, along with advancement of other regional goals of the kingdom.

U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Secretary, Saudi Counterpart Meet on Mutual Security Issues, Terri Moon Cronk, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s defense minister, today discussed wide-ranging security issues of interest to both of their nations, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters following the bilateral meeting.

Cook said the two defense leaders talked about the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, events in Yemen, the recent Saudi role in successful operations aimed at al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, as well as Saudi Arabia’s work to upgrade its military capabilities.

Washington Post, Donald Trump calls her ‘Crooked Hillary,’ but his fans just say ‘b---,’ Jenna Johnson, June 16, 2016. As thousands of Donald Trump supporters streamed out of an evening rally here this week, Hillary Clintonthey walked past a handful of vendors from Ohio selling simple white T-shirts featuring Hillary Clinton, Monica, Lewinsky and a vulgar joke. The back of the shirts read: “TRUMP THAT B----!”

At most of Trump’s rallies, there is a palpable hatred of Clinton in the air, and some of Trump’s strongest applause lines come when he attacks the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, calling her “crooked” and accusing her of playing “the woman’s card.” But many of his fans have chosen a different nickname for her — one starting with a “b” and rhyming with “witch.”

Politico, Trump steps up fight to keep Trump University deposition videos secret, Josh Gerstein, June 16, 2016. Lawyers for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump are intensifying their drive to make sure the public doesn't see videos of Trump's recent testimony in connection with class-action fraud lawsuits over his Trump University real estate seminar program. In a court filing late Wednesday night, Trump's attorneys argued explicitly for the first time that the deposition videos should be kept under wraps because they would become weapons in the ongoing presidential contest.

Tax Wall Street Party, Spooks For Trump: CIA-Voice Of America-State Department Background Of Orlando Massacre, Webster G. Tarpley (shown in file photo), June 16, 2016. Seddique Mir Mateen is the father Webster Tarpleyof the accused Orlando killer Omar Mateen.

The elder Mateen is wise in the ways of Washington, having lobbied the US Congress, notably the maverick California Republican, Dana Rohrabacher. Seddique Mir Mateen announced his candidacy for the presidency of Afghanistan on May 22, 2015. He is a sympathizer of the Afghan Taliban, which seems to be his radical cover. Mateen senior sometimes speaks as an imposter, issuing orders to the Afghan Army and security forces while pretending to be president, which he of course is not. Nevertheless, Mateen senior is evidently funded by the CIA.

Seddiqui Mateen at U.S. Department of State, June 6, 2013 (via Facebook)At right, Seddiqui Mateen at U.S. Department of State, June 6, 2013 (via Facebook)

The pattern is by now familiar: veteran, experienced intelligence operatives with a pedigree of working for the CIA and the State Department in conflict zones around the world to emigrate to the United States and live the good life. They stay in close contact with the US intelligence community. The next generation, often born in the United States, is consigned to terrorist operations in the same way that the cadet (younger) sons of the European nobility were once sent to make a career as junior officers in the army.

This was what we saw in the case of the Boston Marathon Bombing, when the uncle of the two accused patsy Tsarnayev brothers, Ruslan Tsarnayev/Sarni, turned out to have been married to the daughter of Graham Fuller, a main CIA controller for the entire Afghanistan mujahedin rebellion against the Soviet invasion and occupation.

The Spectator (London), Out – and into the world: why The Spectator is for Leave, Editors, June 16, 2016 (print publication June 18). We were right in 1975, and we’re right again. The Spectator has a long record of being isolated, but right. When Britain last held a referendum on Europe, every newspaper in the land advocated a ‘yes’ vote. Only two national titles backed what is now called Brexit: the Morning Star and The Spectator.

United Kingdom flagOur concern then was simple: we did not believe that the Common Market was just about trade. We felt it would be followed by an attempted common government, which would have disastrous effects on a continent distinguished by its glorious diversity. The whole project seemed to be a protectionist scam, an attempt to try to build a wall around the continent rather than embrace world trade.

On the week of the 1975 referendum, The Spectator’s cover line was: ‘Out – and into the world.’ We repeat that line today. Since 1975 the EU has mutated in exactly the way we then feared and now resembles nothing so much as the Habsburg Empire in its dying days.

Washington Post, British member of Parliament dies after shooting, stabbing that stunned nation, Griff Witte and Karla Adam​, June 16, 2016. Media accounts quoted witnesses as saying the assailant shouted “Britain first!” — a slogan linked to anti-immigrant groups — during and after the attack on Jo Cox, an outspoken advocate for civilian victims in Syria.  A rising star in Britain’s Parliament was shot and stabbed to death Thursday in an attack that stunned the nation and brought the country's European Union referendum campaign to an abrupt halt just a week before the vote.

The killing claimed as its victim Jo Cox, a widely respected 41-year-old member of the center-left Labour Party who won election last year following a career in humanitarian work and who was widely respected for her outspoken advocacy on behalf of refugees and civilians in Syria.

Washington Post, Britain’s E.U. vote could bring Cameron’s government crashing down, Griff Witte, June 16, 2016. British Prime Minister David Cameron’s high-stakes decision to let the British public decide David Cameronwhether the country stays in the European Union looks increasingly like a bad bet, with his party veering into civil war, the polls pointing toward an exit and the Conservative leader’s job appearing ever more precarious.

Just a week before Britain votes, the prime minister’s hope of settling once and for all the country’s long-simmering European question with a resounding vote to stay in the European Union may be out of reach. Surveys show the country is almost exactly divided, with momentum in recent days for “out.” If Britain does vote to leave — a scenario popularly known as Brexit — analysts say that Cameron (shown in a file photo) would probably be forced to resign, perhaps within hours of the result.

Washington Post, CIA director: ISIS remains a potent threat despite 2-year military campaign, Joby Warrick, June 16, 2016. The head of the Central Intelligence Agency offered a sobering John Brennanview Thursday of the Islamic State’s capabilities, saying that despite setbacks the jihadist group will likely intensify its global terrorist campaign in the months ahead.

CIA director John Brennan (shown in an official photo), in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, remains a potent force in Iraq and Syria and remains capable of striking countries far from its base in the Middle East, nearly two years after the start of the U.S.-led military campaign aimed at defeating the group.

Al.com, The Daily Show turns Bentley sex call into 'pretty good' country song, Ivana Hrynkiw, June 16, 2016. The Daily Show host Trevor Noah had a little fun talking about Alabama politicians last night. Noah discussed three of the state's political figures: Former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, Gov. Robert Bentley, and Chief Justice Roy Moore. "The heads of all three branches of Alabama's government are in trouble," he said.

The comedian started off with Hubbard's recent conviction. After a few jokes about Hubbard and his "chicken finger Friday," Noah talked about Bentley's infamous phone call with his closest aide, Rebekah Caldwell Mason. "That's really bad phone sex... or a pretty good country song." The Daily Show then made Bentley's remarks into a country music video. And for Moore, who is currently suspended from office for standing in the way of gay marriage? "A Southern judge opposing gay... That's the least surprising thing since Cookie Monster got diabetes."

OpEdNews, Law Enforcement Misrepresentation of Orlando Killer's 911 Call Ignores U.S. Foreign Policy Motivation, Matt Peppe, June 16, 2016. In the aftermath of the horrific mass murder at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando over the weekend in which 50 people were killed, media including CNN, USA Today, NPR, NBC News, and CBS News, all reported that the gunman called 911 during his murderous rampage and pledged allegiance to ISIS. None of the journalists writing for any of these news outlets heard the call themselves; they all cite the FBI as their source.

On Tuesday, CNN aired interviews of eyewitnesses to the shooting spree who described their harrowing encounters with the gunman inside the club. Patience Carter, who was inside a bathroom stall feet from the gunman when he called 911, said he told the dispatcher that "the reason why he was doing this is because he wants America to stop bombing his country." (Mateen is a native of the United States, but he was presumably referring to Afghanistan, where both of his parents are from.) She said he then declared that "from now on he pledges his loyalty to ISIS."

This demonstrates that his primary motive for his terror attack was retaliation for the U.S. aggression in Afghanistan, where nearly 100,000 people have been killed since the illegal U.S. invasion in 2001. His mention of ISIS seems merely adjunct to what he admits was his justification for the attack. His motivation precedes his ideological alignment with ISIS, not the other way around.

Carter's version of the 911 call reveals a very different picture than the partial one revealed by the FBI and reprinted by each of the largest news organizations. The complete conversation depicts Mateen as indicating that he considered his actions a response to U.S. foreign policy. Of course, the murder of innocent civilians is always reprehensible and can never be justified by claiming they are a response to a state's military aggression, regardless of how deadly and devastating such military operations are. But it should be predictable that some people will use this rationalization regardless and seek out soft targets in the country whose government they claim to be retaliating against.

New York Times, Dozens of U.S. Diplomats, in Memo, Urge Strikes Against Syria’s Assad, Mark Landler, June 16, 2016. More than 50 State Department diplomats have signed an internal memo sharply critical of the Obama administration’s policy in Syria, urging the United States to carry out military strikes against the government of President Bashar al-Assad to stop its persistent violations of a cease-fire in the country’s five-year-old civil war.

The memo, a draft of which was provided to the New York Times by a State Department official, says American policy has been “overwhelmed” by the unrelenting violence in Syria. It calls for “a judicious use of stand-off and air weapons, which would undergird and drive a more focused and hard-nosed U.S.-led diplomatic process.”

Such a step would represent a radical shift in the administration’s approach to the civil war in Syria, and there is little evidence that President Obama has plans to change course. Mr. Obama has emphasized the military campaign against the Islamic State over efforts to dislodge Mr. Assad. Diplomatic efforts to end the conflict, led by Secretary of State John Kerry, have all but collapsed.

But the memo, filed in the State Department’s “dissent channel,” underscores the deep rifts and lingering frustration within the administration over how to deal with a war that has killed more than 400,000 people. The names on the memo are almost all midlevel officials — many of them career diplomats — who have been involved in the administration’s Syria policy over the last five years, at home or abroad. They range from a Syria desk officer in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs to a former deputy to the American ambassador in Damascus.

Reuters, Federal plan for northern Syria advances with U.S.-backed forces, Tom Perry, June 16, 2016. As an alliance of U.S.-backed militias advance against Islamic State in northern Syria, their political allies are making progress of their own toward a new federal system of government which they hope will take root in newly captured areas. The autonomous federation being planned by Syrian Kurdish parties and their allies is taking shape fast: a constitution should be finalised in three months, and possibly sooner, to be followed quickly by elections, a Kurdish official said.

While Kurdish groups insist this is no separatist bid, it is set to redraw the map as U.N. diplomacy fails to make any progress toward ending the war that has splintered Syria into a patchwork of separately-run areas. In so doing, it is likely to deepen the concerns of NATO member Turkey about growing Kurdish influence in northern Syria, a region whose once unfamiliar Kurdish name -- Rojava -- has now entered the Middle East's political lexicon.

The plan had taken on even greater significance since the Syria Democratic Forces alliance, which is spearheaded by the Kurdish YPG militia, mounted a rapid new advance westwards this month into Islamic State's last foothold at the Turkish border.

FBI 9-11-fbi-commission James Comey, Tim Roemer, Ed Meese and Bruce Hoffman (FBI Photo)FBI Director James Comey, second from right, is flanked by 9/11 Review Commissioners Tim Roemer, right, Ed Meese and Bruce Hoffman, far left. Photo: FBI

FloridaBulldog.org, FOIA lawsuit disputes 9-11 Review Commission effort to discredit sensational FBI report, Dan Christensen (shown in file photo), June 16, 2016. Two blue ribbon government panels on 9/11, two approaches to Dan Christiansenpublic accountability. The 9/11 Commission [whose report is shown at right] held a dozen public hearings before issuing its 567-page report to the nation in 2004. While many of its records remain classified, the commission also made public additional staff studies with detailed information about terrorist financing, terrorist travel and immigration and border security.

The lesser-known FBI 9/11 Review Commission was established a decade later to conduct an “external review” of the FBI’s performance in implementing the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations and to assess new evidence. It held no public hearings, released no transcripts of its proceedings and provided no supplementary documentation to explain the conclusions in its March 2015 final report.

9/11 Commission Report coverFor more than a year, the FBI has declined to make public any additional information about the 9/11 Review Commission. On Wednesday, for the second time in four years, the FloridaBulldog.org’s nonprofit corporate parent sued the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice – this time using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to seek records about the FBI’s 9/11 Review Commission.

Broward Bulldog Inc. sued in 2012 for access to FBI records about its once- secret investigation of a Saudi family living in Sarasota with apparent ties to the 9/11 hijackers. Since 2014, a federal judge in Fort Lauderdale has been reviewing more than 80,000 pages of 9/11 documents produced by the FBI for possible public release.

FBI logoWednesday’s complaint seeks to discover the basis for and the reliability of the 9/11 Review Commission’s findings and recommendations. Specifically, the lawsuit focuses on the Review Commission’s conclusions about a sensational April 16, 2002 FBI report that investigators found contained “many connections” between the Sarasota Saudis and “individuals associated with the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001.” The report also said a Saudi family member had attended a flight training school attended by the terrorists.

The Review Commission, after reviewing unspecified FBI records and being briefed by the FBI, found that allegations the Saudi family was connected the 9/11 plot were “unsubstantiated” and called the FBI report “poorly written and inaccurate.” The Review Commission, however, interviewed none of the independent witnesses whose accounts were corroborated by the FBI report, and did not examine why the FBI kept its Sarasota investigation secret for a decade.

The “9/11 Review Commission’s finding is false, unsupported by credible evidence, and intended to discredit truthful facts that were accurately reported in the April 16, 2002 FBI report,” says the new FOIA complaint prepared by Miami attorney Thomas Julin.

Bob Graham, former Florida senatorThe Florida Bulldog, working with Irish author Anthony Summers, first reported about the FBI’s Sarasota probe days before the 10th anniversary of the attacks in September 2011. Neighbors of Abdulaziz and Anoud al Hijji called authorities after the couple moved abruptly out of their home about two weeks before the terrorist attacks, leaving behind cars, clothes, furniture and other personal items.

Former Florida Sen. Bob Graham (shown at right), who co-chaired Congress’s Joint Inquiry into the attacks, said the FBI did not disclose the Sarasota probe to Congress. The matter was also not addressed by the 9/11 Commission.The FBI later acknowledged its investigation, but said it found no connection to the 9/11 plot. The FBI also claimed it disclosed its Sarasota investigation to Congress.

In response to the Bulldog’s repeated FOIA requests, the FBI offered no responsive records. Six months after the first lawsuit was filed, however, the FBI released a copy of its April 2002 report, heavily censored for reasons of national security. The report contradicted FBI public statements downplaying the significance of its Sarasota investigation and corroborated the accounts of a counterterrorism officer and others that were the basis for the original news story.

The FBI has produced no documents in response to those requests nor cited any reason to justify the lack of disclosure. Federal law requires government agencies to determine whether to comply with a FOIA request in 20 working days.

Brandon Davis

Brandon Davis, DNC Chief of Staff 

Debbie Wasserman-ShultzHuffington Post, Democrats Replace Debbie Wasserman Schultz With Clinton’s Pick To Run DNC, Grant Stern, Debbie Wasserman Schultz has handed the day-to-day operations of the Democratic Party over to Clinton’s hand picked operator Brandon Davis. Davis assumes the role of Chief of Staff, but in reality, he will be running the Democratic National Committee until a new Chairperson is selected at this year’s convention. He is currently the national political coordinator for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Wasserman-Schultz (shown in a file photo) will retain her title in name only until the Democratic party votes on a successor.

The Bronx cheer you’re hearing as you read this article is coming from Vermont, where Bernie Sanders fans are cheering the departure of the southern Florida congresswoman known as DWS. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz drew the ire of her party for initially scheduling only six Democratic presidential primary debates - and those being on Saturday and Sunday nights when few people would be expected to tune in. Eventually three more debates during reasonable viewing hours were scheduled.

June 15

Seddequi Matteen TV Screenshot

Seddique Mateen, the father of Omar Mateen in an episode of the "Durand Jirga Show"

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Father of Orlando shooter part of U.S. pro-Taliban CIA/VOA network, Wayne Madsen (shown in file photo), June 15, 2016 (Subscription required). Seddique Mir Mateen, the presidential pretender of Afghanistan and father of Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, is part of a pro-Taliban network of Afghan and Pakistani propagandists who use the television and radio networks funded by the CIA-influenced Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to spread their messages to audiences throughout the world.

Washington Post, Official: Wife said she accompanied gunman on ‘reconnaissance’ at club, Matt Zapotosky, Brian Murphy and Adam Goldman​, June 15, 2016. Noor Zahi Salman has not been placed under arrest, but she has emerged as a possible critical link in the struggle to what caused Omar Mateen to storm the crowded club and begin shooting.

Washington Post, Trump says he was ‘right’ about Obama and terrorists, citing questionable 2012 intelligence cable, Karen DeYoung and Jose A. DelReal, June 15, 2016. Days after revoking The Post’s credentials for saying he suggested the president was complicit in the Orlando attack, the presumptive GOP nominee tweeted that was, in fact, what he had “insinuated.”

Just two days after Donald Trump implied that President Obama sympathized with terrorists, provoking a backlash that included members of his own party, the presumed Republican presidential nominee declared himself “right,” based on a published report claiming administration “support” for the Islamic State.

The story was based on a declassified 2012 cable written by a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) official, addressed to about two dozen military and national security agencies and officials, including then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Labeled as “information report, not finally evaluated intelligence,” it refers to “the general situation” in Iraq and Syria in the early days of the armed insurgency against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

28pages.org, New House Resolution Directs Intel Committee to Release 28 Pages From 9/11 Report, Brian P. McGlinchey, June 15, 2016. Encouraged by rising, bipartisan support for a resolution urging President Obama to declassify 28 pages said to link Saudi Arabia to the 9/11 hijackers, the leaders of Capitol Hill’s declassification drive have now introduced a resolution directing the leaders of the House intelligence committee to take matters into their own hands.

Introduced Monday, House Resolution 779 directs the chair and ranking member of the House intelligence committee — Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA), respectively — to declassify the 28 pages by U.S. Rep. Walter Jonespublishing them in the Congressional Record under the protection of the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause. Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC, and shown at left) introduced the resolution along with original cosponsors Stephen Lynch (D-MA) and Thomas Massie (R-KY). The same trio is the driving force behind House Resolution 14, which urges the president to release the pages that comprise the final chapter in the report of a 2002 congressional intelligence inquiry. Introduced last year, HRes 14 has seen a surge in support following an April 60 Minutes report on the 28 pages, and now has 70 cosponsors.

U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes“I have read these pages and can say that while their release will not harm national security, the contents are critical to our foreign policy moving forward…That is why I have introduced a resolution that would enable the House Committee on Intelligence to declassify the 28 pages,” said Jones in a press release issued today.

In April, both Nunes (shown in an official photo) and Schiff voiced their support for releasing the 28 pages. Nunes said, “The benefits of publishing this information would outweigh any potential damage to America’s national security,” and Schiff told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, “They should be released and I think, as is often the case, the speculation about what they contain is more damaging in fact than the contents.”

9/11 Commission Report coverH. Res. 779 has been referred to the House rules committee. The committee’s ranking member, Louise Slaughter, is a cosponsor of the resolution urging the president to declassify the pages.

The resolution’s preamble notes that the CIA has acknowledged that the 28 pages are the property of Congress and that the Supreme Court “upheld the constitutional prerogative of Members of Congress or committees of Congress to disclose classified information” by way of the Speech or Debate Clause.

This new legislative action comes as an intelligence community declassification review of the 28 pages is expected to wrap up in the next few weeks.

The White House said it ordered the review in the summer of 2014. Skeptical that a review of just 28 pages could truly take two years and counting, many observers — including 9/11 family members and victims — point to the delay as signaling the Obama administration’s desire to put off a resolution of the issue as long as possible.

Reason TV, When Everything Is a Crime: Harvey Silverglate on the Overregulation of Ordinary Life, Nick Gillespie and Todd Krainin, June 15, 2016. Few people understand the price of overregulation like Harvey Silverglate. Over his long career as an attorney and journalist, Silverglate has seen a rising bureaucratic class enact hundreds of thousands of federal regulations and vaguely-worded statutes. The result has been the criminalization of everyday life. From university campuses to corporate boardrooms, ever more citizens are facing severe punishments for behavior that was once considered harmless.

June 14

2016 Bilderberg Group Chairman Henri de Castries, CEO of AXA2016 Bilderberg Group Chairman Henri de Castries, CEO of AXA

Zero Hedge, Bilderberg Chairman Warns Brexit Possibility "Extremely High," Tyler Durden, June 14, 2016. Just day after their mysterious annual meeting in Dresden, it appears the Bilderberg Group's gravest concern is Brexit. While everything from the Middle East to Donald Trump was on the agenda, the remarks this week from AXA CEO (and Chairman of the Bilderberg Group) Henri de Castries that there is an "extremely high" probability that the U.K. will vote to leave the European Union and investors will face “a true landscape of uncertainties," suggest the establishment is concerned.

United Kingdom flagAs Bloomberg reports, neither the U.K. nor the EU region is prepared for negotiations that would follow a vote to leave on June 23, de Castries said at a conference in Paris....

“If they remain, the situation isn’t simple either, and this is underestimated by lots of people,” because the result will be interpreted differently by each side, he said.
   
De Castries, who is stepping down from France’s largest insurer at the start of September, became one of the few executives to speak out on the likelihood of a British vote to exit the EU. The Sun, Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper, backed a so-called Brexit on its front page on Tuesday. Several polls on Monday also put the “Leave” campaign ahead. The pound and European stocks plunged.

Leydiana Puyanera, Orlando Survivor (CNN)CNN Erin Burnett Out Front, Orlando survivor: 'There's no way' gunman acted alone, Erin Burnett, Some of the survivors of the Orlando shooting believe the gunman did not act alone. CNN's Nick Valencia reports.

ZeroHedge, Podesta Group Claims Story Of Saudis Funding Hillary's Campaign Was Due To A "Hack," Tyler Durden, June 14, 2016. In what may have been the most surprising news yesterday, we cited a report by Middle East Eye, which caught a release posted on the official Jordan News Agency (Petra), which was subsequently promptly taken down, according to which Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made various traditionally diplomatic statements about the US ahead of his visit to the US, which also included the stunning claim that Riyadh has provided 20% of the total funding to the prospective Democratic candidate's campaign, something which is considered illegal.

Zero Hedge, Saudi Arabia Has Funded 20% Of Hillary's Presidential Campaign, Saudi Crown Prince Claims, Tyler Durden, June 14, 2016. In what may be the pinnacle of hypocrisy, moments ago Hillary Clinton, while speaking live on national security and addressing the Orlando shooting took some time from her constant bashing of the Second Amendment and calling for a ban on assault rifles, to say some less than kind words about Saudi Arabia whom it accused of supporting radical organizations. This is what she said:

The third area that demands attention is preventing radicalization and countering efforts by ISIS and other international terrorist networks to recruit in the United States and Europe. For starters, it is long past time for the Saudis, the Qataris and the Kuwaitis and others to stop their citizens from funding extremist organizations. And they should stop supporting radical schools and mosques around the world that have set too many young people on a path towards extremism. We also have to use all our capabilities to counter jihadist propaganda online. This is something that I spend a lot of time on at the State Department.
however, where there  is a big, and potentially law-breaking,  problem is what Jordan's official news agency, Petra News Agency, reported on Sunday citing the Saudi crown price, namely that Saudi Arabia is a major funder of Hillary Clinton’s campaign to become the next president of the United States.

The report was later deleted and the news agency has not responded to requests for comment from Middle East Eye. However, the deletion took place too late, as the Washington-based Institute for Gulf Affairs managed to capture the report and has re-published the original Arabic Petra report, which quoted Prince Mohammed as having said Saudi Arabia had provided with “full enthusiasm” an undisclosed amount of money to Clinton.

As MEE notes, the Petra News Agency published on Sunday what it described as exclusive comments from Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman which included a claim that Riyadh has provided 20 percent of the total funding to the prospective Democratic candidate's campaign.

Washington Post, Republicans join Obama in rebuking Trump, Sean Sullivan and Mike DeBonis, June 14, 2016. Top Republicans joined with President Obama and other Democrats Tuesday in sharply condemning Donald Trump’s reaction to the nightclub massacre in Orlando, decrying his anti-Muslim rhetoric and his questioning of Obama’s allegiances as divisive and out of step with America’s values.

Donald TrumpTrump — who just a week ago signaled an intent to snap his campaign into a more measured tone for the general election — showed no sign of backing down from his suggestions that Obama was somehow connected to or sympathetic with terrorists, telling the Associated Press that the president “continues to prioritize our enemy” over Americans.

In separate appearances, both Obama and his potential successor, likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, blasted Trump’s proposal to ban foreign Muslims from the United States as dangerous and contrary to the nation’s traditions.

A visibly angry Obama also dismissed Trump’s repeated demands for him to use the term “radical Islam” when speaking about the Orlando shootings and other attacks. “Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away,” Obama said. “This is a political distraction.” Clinton described Trump’s response to Orlando as rife with “conspiracy theories” and “pathological self-congratulations.”

The remarkably bipartisan outcry over Trump’s positions — coming at a moment of national mourning after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history — set off a new wave of alarm within the GOP over whether the mogul’s promised pivot to the general election would ever materialize. The rift also highlighted the enduring tensions between establishment figures who want to be more inclusive and the bulk of the party, which backs Trump’s proposed Muslim ban and has rallied around him as the presumptive nominee.

Some of Trump’s most ardent backers defended his response to the Orlando attack, saying drastic measures were needed to keep the nation safe. But most Republicans on Capitol Hill tried to distance themselves from Trump’s comments following the terrorist attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando that killed at least 49 people. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) refused to respond to questions about Trump at his weekly news conference.

President Obama

President Barack Obama waits backstage at the Department of the Treasury before delivering a statement after a National Security Council meeting on the investigation into the mass shooting in Orlando, Fla., and to review efforts to counter-ISIL. Waiting with the President are, from left, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew; Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, June 14, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

White House, Remarks by the President After Counter-ISIL Meeting, Treasury Department, President Obama, June 14, 2016.

THE PRESIDENT:  I just met with my National Security Council as part of our regular effort to review and intensify our campaign to destroy the terrorist group ISIL. Our meeting was planned before the terrible attack in Orlando. But obviously that tragedy -- the awful loss of life -- shaped much of our work today. In all of our efforts, foremost in our minds is the loss and the grief of the people of Orlando -- those who died, those who are still recovering, the families who have seen their loved ones harmed, the friends of ours who are lesbian and gay and bisexual and transgender who were targeted. I want to remind them that they are not alone. The American people, and our allies and friends all over the world, stand with you and are thinking about you, and are praying for you.

As Director Comey has said, we currently do not have any information to indicate that a foreign terrorist group directed the attack in Orlando. It is increasingly clear, however, that the killer took in extremist information and propaganda over the Internet. He appears to have been an angry, disturbed, unstable young man who became radicalized. As we know all too well, terrorist groups like ISIL have called on people around the world and here in the United States to attack innocent civilians. Their propaganda, their videos, their postings are pervasive and more easily accessible than we want. This individual appears to have absorbed some of that.  And during his killing spree, the shooter in Orlando pledged allegiance to ISIL.

As I’ve said before, these lone actors or small cells of terrorists are very hard to detect and very hard to prevent. But across our government, at every level -- federal, state and local, military and civilian -- we are doing everything in our power to stop these kinds of attacks. We work to succeed a hundred percent of the time. An attacker, as we saw in Orlando, only has to succeed once. Our extraordinary personnel -- our intelligence, our military, our homeland security, our law enforcement -- have prevented many attacks and saved many lives. And we can never thank them enough. But we are all sobered by the fact that, despite the extraordinary hard work, something like Orlando can occur.

In our meeting today, Director Comey updated us on the investigation in Orlando. Secretary Johnson reviewed the measures we continue to take on behalf of our homeland security. Secretary Carter [Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, shown in an official photo) and Ashton CarterChairman Dunford reviewed the military campaign against ISIL. And I want to thank Secretary Lew and his team here at Treasury for hosting us and for their tireless efforts to cut off the money that ISIL relies on to fund its terror network.

At the outset, I want to reiterate our objective in this fight. Our mission is to destroy ISIL. Since I last updated the American people on our campaign two months ago, we’ve seen that this continues to be a difficult fight -- but we are making significant progress. Over the past two months, I’ve authorized a series of steps to ratchet up our fight against ISIL: additional U.S. personnel, including Special Forces, in Syria to assist local forces battling ISIL there; additional advisors to work more closely with Iraqi security forces, and additional assets, including attack helicopters; and additional support for local forces in northern Iraq. Our aircraft continue to launch from the USS Harry Truman, now in the Mediterranean. Our B-52 bombers are hitting ISIL with precision strikes. Targets are being identified and hit even more quickly -- so far, 13,000 airstrikes. This campaign at this stage is firing on all cylinders.

And as a result, ISIL is under more pressure than ever before. ISIL continues to lose key leaders.....So far, we’ve taken out more than 120 top ISIL leaders and commanders. And our message is clear: If you target America and our allies, you will not be safe. You will never be safe....

Washington Post, Russian government hackers penetrated DNC, stole opposition research on Trump, Ellen Nakashima, Russian government hackers penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee and gained access to the entire database of opposition research on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, according to committee officials and security experts who responded to the breach.

Russian FlagThe intruders so thoroughly compromised the DNC’s system that they also were able to read all email and chat traffic, said DNC officials and the security experts. The intrusion into the DNC was one of several targeting American political organizations. The networks of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were also targeted by Russian spies, as were the computers of some Republican political action committees, U.S. officials said. But details on those cases were not available. A Russian Embassy spokesman said he had no knowledge of such intrusions.

Some of the hackers had access to the DNC network for about a year, but all were expelled over the past weekend in a major computer cleanup campaign, the committee officials and experts said. The DNC said that no financial, donor or personal information appears to have been accessed or taken, suggesting that the breach was traditional espionage, not the work of criminal hackers. The intrusions are an example of Russia’s interest in the U.S. political system and its desire to understand the policies, strengths and weaknesses of a potential future president — much as American spies gather similar information on foreign candidates and leaders.

South Front, International Military Review: Syria & Iraq, Staff report, June 14, 2016. Last night, the ISIS terrorist group made an attempt to cut off the Syrian Arab Army’s supply route in the western part of the Raqqa province. ISIS militants used a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device and improvised artillery units during the advance on the village of Abou Alaj. Following a series of firefights, the terrorists’ attack was repelled. The SAA doesn’t report own casualties. However, ground sources say the SAA lost up to 10 soldiers while the terrorist group lost about 20 fighters.

Washington Post, Orlando gunman had been on FBI watch list, boasted about al-Qaeda, but FBI deemed him not a threat in 2014, Matt Zapotosky, Adam Goldman and Brian Murphy, June 14, 2016. Omar FBI logoOmar MateenMateen (shown in photo) had been placed on a terrorism watch list and was interviewed twice before a probe ended in March 2014. His name resurfaced months later during an investigation of an American suicide bomber in Syria, and investigators, again, moved on. The agency plans to review whether warning signs were missed.

Washington Post, Shooter had been seen on gay dating apps, had visited Pulse nightclub, William Wan and Anne Hull, June 14, 2016. As details emerged about the man behind the violent rampage, former classmates recalled his bizarre reaction on 9/11.

Washington Post, After dropping probes of 3 attackers, FBI faces skepticism, Jerry Markon and Adam Goldman, June 14, 2016. As in the Orlando massacre, assailants at the Boston Marathon and at a Texas cartoon exhibition had crossed the bureau’s radar well before carrying out their attacks. The mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando was the third time in recent years that someone who had been under FBI scrutiny carried out a terrorist attack, raising questions about whether the legendary crime-fighting agency is equipped to stop escalating threats in the digital age, experts and former federal officials said Tuesday.

The deadly assault at the Pulse nightclub followed the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 and last year’s shooting at a Texas exhibition of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad. While the circumstances of each case varied widely, they were united by a common thread: The FBI had looked at one of the accused assailants, including an intensive 10-month probe of Orlando gunman Omar Mateen.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Orlando shooter's father has definite CIA links, Wayne Madsen, June 14, 2016 (Subscription required). WMR Editor Wayne Madsen (shown in a file photo) has authored 14 books and is a former Navy intelligence officer, NSA analyst and defense contracting executive. There is one major commonality between the jihadist terrorist attacks on a gay nightclub in Orlando on June 13 and on the Boston Marathon in 2013 and that is the Central Intelligence Agency.

Tax Wall Street Party, Orlando Massacre A Blatant Pro-Trump False Flag, Dr. Webster G. Tarpley (shown at right in a file photo), June 14, 2016. For the past two and a half months, or more precisely since April 2, 2016, the Tax Wall Street Party has been urgently calling attention to the acute danger of an “October Surprise” terrorist attack favored or inspired by rogue network factions in the U.S. intelligence community favorable to a seizure of power by the fascist candidate, Donald J. Trump.

Webster TarpleyThe simple logic of such an event is that Trump is so widely hated that under normal circumstances it would be virtually impossible for him to win enough states to take the Electoral College and thus seize the White House. Therefore, a terrorist event late in the campaign becomes plausible, since this might be a way to win the election. By contrast, it is the task of persons of good will to inoculate as many people as possible against what is coming, so that they will be able to resist and counter attack the psychological warfare operations, which may be unleashed against the American people in the near future.

EA Daily via SouthFront, Operation “Anti Erdogan” Begins, Vyacheslav Mikhailov, June 14, 2016. The West has turned its back on Turkey. The President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his power structure lost the trust  they were granted by the Euro-Atlantic countries. The main objective of the ongoing operation is to keep Turkey in NATO, but without its current president.

RealClearPolitics, Florida Governor Rick Scott: "We're Fed Up" With Radical Islam, Tim Hains, June 14, 2016. Florida governor Rick Scott says the Orlando shooting was an attack on our nation, calling for assistance from the White House as he declares an emergency declaration for Florida. "As a society, when are we going to say we have to destroy ISIS?" he asked. "We have San Bernardino, we've watched the Paris attacks. When are we gonna say, 'This is enough'? As a society, we're fed up. We want ISIS destroyed. Radical Islam does not belong here. If you believe in evil, we're gonna do something about it."

New York Times, Clinton Meets With Sanders to Discuss Plan to Fight Trump, Yamiche Alcindor and Patrick Healy, June 14, 2016. Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont spoke privately on Tuesday night as they began exploring what kind of alliance they might build against Donald J. Trump.

With little affection or trust between them, Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders met privately for nearly two hours on Tuesday night to size each other up as they started exploring what kind of alliance they might build for the general election battle against Donald J. Trump. Yet Mr. Sanders chose to withhold his endorsement of Mrs. Clinton, several Sanders advisers said, because he wants her to take steps to win his confidence before the Democratic convention, where his supporters expect him to speak and Clinton advisers hope he will give her his full-throated backing. Aides to Mrs. Clinton said she had never expected his endorsement Tuesday night.

Global Research, NATO Exposed as ISIS Springboard into Syria, Tony Cartalucci, June 14, 2016. Kurdish fighters allegedly backed by the US, have crossed the Euphrates River in Syria and have moved against fighters from the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” (ISIS) holding the city of Manbij. The city is about 20 miles from Jarabulus, another Syrian city located right on the Syrian-Turkish border. Jarabulus is held by ISIS.

Recep ErdoganJarabulus is increasingly being referred to across the Western media as the “last ISIS border-crossing point into Turkey.”

The Foreign Minister of Turkey admits that ISIS forces – fighters, weapons, and equipment – are pouring out of Turkey’s own territory “bound for Raqqa,” but never explains how the most notorious terrorist organization of the 21st century could move enough men and materiel through a NATO-member state to wage an entire war with, without being stopped before reaching Syria. Also not explained is where ISIS is procuring the weapons that it is moving through Turkey (whose President Recep Tayip Erdogan is shown in a file photo).

It is a reality that directly and damningly implicates Turkey and its allies as state sponsors of terrorism, and calls into question both the legitimacy and relevance of NATO itself. At the very least, NATO is exposed as a military alliance so impotent that it cannot even secure its own territory from being used as a springboard for full-scale ISIS military operations.

Global Research, Media Coverage of the Orlando Mass Shootings. “No Hard Questions Asked,” J. Michael Springmann, June 14, 2016. As with most mass shooting cases in the United States, initial news reports are sensational and uninformative, focusing mainly on the number of dead and wounded. There is also an emphasis on the criminal’s use of unattractive firearms, usually AR-15 semi-automatic rifles, generally obtained legally. After a time, embarrassing facts start to trickle out, usually tied to prior official knowledge of the shooter’s dubious background along with statements from long-time friends, relatives, and acquaintances, noting that the person was always known to be mentally unbalanced.

The Orlando, Florida killings follow this pattern – but with a great difference. The actor’s father, Seddique Mateen, according to the Washington Post, praised the Taliban, saying “Our brothers in Waziristan, our warrior brothers in [the] Taliban movement and the national Afghan Taliban are rising up.” The elder Mateen was also a candidate for president of Afghanistan. Omar was an armed security guard at a firm, G4S, founded in Denmark at the beginning of the last century. A major company supplying, inter alia, guard services, risk consulting, and investigations worldwide, it bought Wackenhut Corp., a similar purveyor of investigations and security services, in 2010. G4S unsurprisingly, has offices in Crystal City in Arlington, Va., a Washington, D.C. suburb known for its ties to the U.S. armed forces and intelligence services.

Wackenhut, begun by George R. Wackenhut, a former FBI official, in 1954, has long had ties to the American armed forces and intelligence services.  Some of these include one-time FBI Director Clarence Kelley, past Defense Secretary and CIA Deputy Director Frank Carlucci, previous Defense Intelligence Agency Director Gen. Joseph Carroll, and Adm. Bobby Ray Inman, former Director of the National Security Agency and Deputy Director of the CIA.  William J. Casey, before becoming Director of Central Intelligence, was outside legal counsel to Wackenhut Corp.

The press, in North America and elsewhere, should start  asking hard questions as to what is really happening and why. Repeated media hand-wringing and blaming firearms makers do not help our understanding of current events, alleged terrorism, or government obfuscation.

National Press Club, Newsmaker features former chief prosecutor for Guantánamo, June 17, Molly McCluskey, June 14, 2016. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor for the Guantánamo military commissions, Morris Daviswho later spoke out publicly against the treatment of inmates imprisoned there, will address a National Press Club Newsmaker news conference at 10 a.m. Friday, June 17. Davis (shown in a file photo) recently settled a lawsuit against the Library of Congress, which had fired him for writing newspaper opinion pieces criticizing the Obama administration’s decision to resume use of the military commissions system.

“I spent 25 years in the military defending the Constitution, only to be told by the library that it didn’t apply to my personal speech,” said Davis. “I had always assumed the federal government respected the First Amendment, but instead I had to rely on the ACLU to ensure the free speech rights I defended were not rendered meaningless. Injustice at Guantánamo Bay is every bit as relevant today as it was more than six years ago when I spoke out about it. Guantánamo remains too important a conversation about who we are as Americans to let the federal government try and silence the debate.”

WhoWhatWhy, Why You Haven’t Yet Seen Our Coverage of Orlando, Staff report, June 14, 2016. The battle for ad dollars and pageviews has become a race to the bottom, in which being first is more important than being correct. Please bear with us as we are once again going against the grain. If you are wondering why you have not yet seen a WhoWhatWhy story on the domestic terrorist attack in Orlando, consider this: When the media covers a major event, a herd mentality takes over, in which being first often becomes more important than being accurate.

We don’t want to participate in that race to the bottom for scraps of information that, ultimately, may turn out to be inconsequential or, even worse, incorrect. We have seen time and again the damage done when false information is disseminated or the photos and names of the wrong suspects are plastered across front pages.

Breitbart, Mitch McConnell Says He May Be ‘Open’ to Post-Orlando Gun Control, AWR Hawkins, June 14, 2016. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says he be may be “open” to placing new gun controls on law-abiding citizens following the terror attack on Pulse Orlando. According to CBS News’s Steven Portnoy, McConnell has a meeting with FBI director James Comey (shown in an official photo) and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Wednesday. Portnoy Tweeted that McConnell has signaled he may be willing to consider new gun controls after that meeting. The suspected gunman in the Orlando attack passed background checks for his guns, submitted to a waiting period before picking up his handgun, and held a Florida Security Officer license and a Statewide Firearms License.

Executive Intelligence Report, Walter Jones Files Resolution To Publish the "28 Pages" in Congressional Record, Staff report, June 14, 2016. Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) and co-sponsors, Representatives Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Stephen Lynch (D-MA) introduced H. Res. 779. It calls for enforcing the Constitution's separation-of-powers principle, and the Congressional prerogative of disclosure under the speech or debate clause, by directing the Chairman and ranking member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, to publish in the {Congressional Record} the 28 pages redacted from the 2002 Congressional Joint Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks. The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates in the U.S. Congress.

June 13

Washington Post, Orlando shooter’s firm ran two background checks on him, it said, and found nothing, Christian Davenport and Drew Harwell, June 13, 2016. U.K.-based G4S said the FBI did not report any findings to the firm after the agency investigated him for possible ties to terrorism.

Washington Post, Donald Trump expands proposed ban on Muslim, Mideast immigrants, Philip Rucker, Jose A. DelReal and Isaac Stanley-Becker, June 13, 2016. The GOP candidate outlined a radical rewriting of U.S. counterterrorism policy, while Democrat Hillary Clinton advocated enhancing existing policies.

Intercept, The 2015 Ciccolo Affair: Another “Terror” Arrest; Another Mentally Ill Man, Armed by the FBI, Dan Froomkin, June 13, 2016. This 2015 report by The Intercept sheds light on FBI procedures pertaining to the recent shootings in Orlando, Florida. U.S. law enforcement officials announced another terror arrest on Monday, after arming a mentally ill man and then charging him with having guns.

FBI logoABC News quoted a “senior federal official briefed on the arrest” as saying: “This is a very bad person arrested before he could do very bad things.” But in a sting reminiscent of so many others conducted by the FBI since 9/11, Alexander Ciccolo, 23, “aka Ali Al Amriki,” was apparently a mentally ill man who was doing nothing more than ranting about violent jihad and talking (admittedly in frightening ways) about launching attacks—until he met an FBI informant. At that point, he started making shopping lists for weapons.

The big twist in this story: Local media in Massachusetts are saying Ciccolo was turned in by his father, a Boston Police captain. The FBI affidavit says the investigation was launched after a “close acquaintance … stated that Ciccolo had a long history of mental illness and in the last 18 months had become obsessed with Islam.”

According to the affidavit, Ciccolo first talked to the FBI informant about attacking two bars and a police station. Later, he spoke of attacking a college campus with a homemade pressure-cooker bomb like the one used in the Boston Marathon terror attack; he also talked about using guns and a lot of ammo. Ciccolo, according to the affidavit, then “ordered the firearms from a confidential human source (“CHS”) working with the FBI.”

New York Daily News NRA Headline on Orlando Shooting June 2016

Headline in New York Daily News

Washington Post, New details emerge in siege at Orlando club, Bodies slowly removed from nightclub after the deadliest mass shooting in American history, Hayley Tsukayama, Jerry Markon and Brian Murphy, June 13, 2016. The last bodies were removed Monday from a blood-splattered Orlando nightclub as investigators from Florida to Kabul expanded the hunt for clues into the lone gunman who professed allegiance to the Islamic State while he waged the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

What is already known has left a host of questions, including the scope of FBI probes during at least two past investigations into the shooter, 29-year-old security guard Omar Mateen, for alleged terrorist sympathies. And the level of possible ties between Mateen and the Islamic State remains unclear.

Donald Trump button open mouthWashington Post, The new normal: When tragedy strikes, Americans stand divided, Karen Tumulty, June 13, 2016. The horrific collision in Orlando of three of the most contentious issues in culture and politics — gay rights, gun control and terrorism — will likely only drive the country further apart.

Washington Post, Trump blames Obama for attack, calls for ban on Middle Eastern immigrants, Jose A. DelReal, June 13, 2016. The GOP presidential candidate said during a speech that "political correctness" and lax immigration laws have stifled efforts to combat radical jihadism.

RSF (Reporters Without Borders), RSF condemns Trump's revocation of Washington Post's press credentials, Staff report, June 13, 2016.  Reporters Without Borders (RSF) strongly condemns Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s decision to revoke the Washington Post’s press credentials and sees is as a serious violation of freedom of the press.

Trump, the Republican party nominee in the 2016 United States Presidential election, proclaimed this afternoon on Facebook and Twitter that “based on the incredibly inaccurate coverage and reporting of the record setting Trump campaign, we are hereby revoking the press credentials of the phony and dishonest Washington Post.” Trump himself indicated that the decision came after he disagreed with a Washington Post article with the headline “ Donald Trump seems to connect President Obama to Orlando Shooting.”

Marty Baron, Executive Editor of the Washington Post, responded to Trump’s decision in a comment: “[this] is nothing less than a repudiation of the role of a free and independent press. When coverage doesn’t correspond to what the candidate wants it to be, then a news organization is banished. The Post will continue to cover Donald Trump as it has all along – honorably, honestly, accurately, energetically, and unflinchingly. We’re proud of our coverage, and we’re going to keep at it.” 

 

Seddequi Matteen TV ScreenshotSeddique Mateen, the father of Omar Mateen in an episode of the "Durand Jirga Show"

New York Daily News, Father of Omar Mateen hosted bizarre political talk show, railing against America and praising Taliban, Jason Silverstein, Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS; was abusive and homophobic. The father of Omar Mateen hosted a bizarre, shoestring talk show, in which he ranted about the United States and once declared his support for the Taliban. Seddique Mateen posted dozens of hour-long episodes of his “Durand Jirga Show” on YouTube between 2012 and 2015. The clips cast a confounding shadow over the man who initially claimed his terrorist son was not religiously motivated in killing at least 50 people at an Orlando gay nightclub.

The videos show Seddique Mateen's peculiar political passions and attempts at humor. He sometimes pretended to be the president of Afghanistan, and in the most recent episode, from last May, he announced he will run for that position — even though the election was held the year before.

MadCowNews, Orlando Shooting Dad A Longtime CIA Asset, Daniel Hopsicker, June 13, 2016. The father of the man who slaughtered 50 people in the Orlando nightclub shooting Saturday night is a longtime Seddiqui Mateen and U.S. Rep. Dana RohrabacherCIA asset, whose TV show receives funding from the Voice of America -Dari. Pictured above is Seddique Mateen with California Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. The father of the man who slaughtered 50 people in the Orlando nightclub shooting Saturday night is a longtime CIA asset, whose TV show receives funding from the Voice of America -Dari.  

Pictured below is Seddique Mateen with California Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. Rohrabacher was initially elected to Congress in 1988, with the fundraising help of friend Oliver North. Rohrabacher’s decades-long involvement in “all things Afghan” eventually earned him the nickname “Gunga Dana.” Today he chairs the United States House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats.

This morning President Obama called him a “home-grown” terrorist.  In a series of phone interviews Monday morning, Donald Trump responded that  “there’s something going on” with the President’s  reaction to the Orlando shooting.

Politico, Lawyers fight filing of Trump videos in Trump University suit, Josh Gerstein, June 13, 2016. Lawyers for Donald Trump are fighting a legal move that could result in the public seeing videos of the presumptive GOP presidential nominee being subjected to pointed questions about his Trump University real estate seminar program. Class-action lawyers suing Trump for fraud over the Trump University business attempted last week to file 48 video clips of the real estate mogul at two recent depositions, including segments where he offered prickly responses to what he called "harassment questions."

The plaintiffs said they needed to file the videos to show Trump's demeanor and to clarify some video segments not transcribed by a court reporter, but in a filing Monday with a federal court in San Diego, Trump's legal team called those reasons "disingenuous."  A coalition of media organizations filed a motion with the judge Friday asking him to lift any limits on the plaintiffs' authority to release the full videos of Trump's depositions conducted in December in New York and in January in Las Vegas.

Bloomberg, Brexit Polls by ICM Show ‘Leave’ Widening Lead Over ‘Remain,’ Robert Hutton, June 13, 2016. Two new polls by ICM suggested the U.K. is on course to quit the European Union, with both phone and online surveys showing the “Leave” side opening up a 5 percentage-point lead over “Remain.” A telephone poll of 1,000 people conducted June 10 to 13 found “Leave” at 50 percent and "Remain" at 45 percent, ICM said in a statement Monday. An online poll of 2,001 adults conducted over the same dates put “Leave” at 49 percent and “Remain” at 44 percent. Phone polls had previously tended to show better results for “Remain.” The findings come in the wake of other polls in recent days that have shown growing momentum for a so-called Brexit.

United Kingdom flagThe campaign to stay in the EU deployed former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Monday to try to reach his party’s voters and persuade them to back continued membership in the June 23 referendum. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne called for pro-EU businesses to speak up about their concerns.

CNBC, Polls say Brexit is likely, but the betting markets say it isn't, Wilfred Frost, June 13, 2016. On Friday, a poll for the Independent newspaper gave a massive 10-point lead to the British voting public that want to leave the European Union. Over the weekend, another poll for The Times newspaper gave leave vote a small lead. A Financial Times Poll of Polls gives leave a lead as well — 46 percent, versus stay at 44 percent.

And yet, Great Britain's vibrant wagering markets have shown the momentum build on the leave side, they still show a significant preference for remain. The latest odds on Monday — 4-7 for stay vs. 7-4 for leave — imply a Brexit probability of 36 percent.
 
The main reason is that it's thought that there will be a swing on the day of the vote toward stay as some voters, who may only marginally favor Brexit, will lose faith due to all the uncertainty encompassed by a departure from the EU. Voting for the unknown takes higher conviction that voting for the status quo.

Legal Schnauzer, Former Speaker Mike Hubbard is the latest political crook to learn the Alabama Web Press can take you down and leave your castle in smoldering ruins, Roger Shuler, June 13, 2016.  Does the Web press matter in Alabama? Ask Mike Hubbard, former Speaker of the House of Representatives. Ask former gubernatorial advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason. Ask former federal judge Mark Fuller. All three have been brought down in the past year by stories broken and largely driven by the non-traditional press. Hubbard, convicted last Friday night on 12 of 23 charges that he violated state ethics laws, might be the largest fish the Web press has hooked so far. Alabamians have many lessons to learn from the Hubbard episode, but the main one might be this: If you wait around for the mainstream media (MSM) to break, report, and analyze conservative corruption . . . well, you might have a long wait.

The journalistic ringleader of Hubbard's downfall, without question, was Bill Britt and his staff at Alabama Political Reporter (APR). How many Hubbard-related stories did APR produce, many of them containing critical, on-target details that received little or no attention in the MSM? I'm not sure, but it has to be at least several hundred. Would there have even been a Hubbard indictment without APR? I doubt it. Is there a prize for the kind of old-style investigative reporting that makes a difference in citizens' lives? I don't know, but if there is, APR should receive one--stat.

Politico, FOIA reform bill headed to Obama, Josh Gerstein, June 13, 2016. A bill aimed at improving the federal government's responses to Freedom of Information Act requests passed the House on Monday and will soon be headed for the White House, where the measure is expected to be signed into law by President Barack Obama. Both houses of Congress have been considering versions of the legislation for several years, with a bill coming very close to passage in 2014 before hitting a last-minute snag.

President Haider Al Abadi Sept. 8, 2014The House cleared the way for final passage of the FOIA Improvement Act Monday by agreeing to a version of the bill the Senate passed in March and which the White House said President Barack Obama would sign. The bill passed the House on a voice vote during the so-called suspension calendar used for non-controversial legislation. In addition to adding a presumption in favor of disclosure to the actual text of FOIA, the bill would also create a centralized portal for FOIA requests across the government. However, the legislation was watered down somewhat from earlier versions before it passed the Senate in March. The changes were made to overcome resistance by some federal agencies and their supporters on Capitol Hill.

National Security Archive, FOIA Commands Headlines as Law Approaches 50th Birthday, Lauren Harper and Tom Blanton, June 13, 2016. The National Security Archive celebrates the Freedom of Information Act’s upcoming 50th birthday by highlighting 50 of the year’s biggest news stories made possible by FOIA. The diverse front-page news shows how FOIA can impact human rights, government accountability, and even what you eat. Here is a sampling of this year’s top stories:

•    FOIA releases to the National Security Archive provided critical evidence in the historic conviction of 14 Argentine military officers and 1 Uruguayan military officer for their participation in the Operation Condor international murder ring and were cited 150 times by the prosecution.
•    Documents released through FOIA proved Pentagon officials deliberately misled Congress on the Defense Department’s handling of sexual assault cases in order to undermine reform legislation.
•    A FOIA lawsuit uncovered that the Obama White House’s Justice Department aggressively lobbied to kill uncontroversial bipartisan FOIA reform in 2014.
•    Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush were, FOIA releases to the National Security Archive show, climate change heroes who took action to protect the ozone layer.
•    State-level FOIA releases in Michigan exposed the cost-driven decisions by Flint administrators not to add corrosion controls to the water supply, causing lead poisoning in kids, and the cover-up by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
•    Documents released by the Food and Drug Administration under FOIA show that cheese marketed as being“100% parmesan” contained 0% parmesan – and some wood pulp.
•    Government audits freed by a FOIA lawsuit show widespread billing mistakes – primarily overcharging – in Medicare Advantage program.

Donald Trump Pointing Finger Gage Skidmore DMCADonald Trump (Gage Skidmore photo)

South Front, Could the Deadliest Shooting in the US History Lead for Ban of Muslim Migration?  Staff report, June 13, 2016. On Sunday, Donald J. Trump reiterated his controversial call for a temporary ban on Muslim migration to the United States. The Republican candidate for U.S. President also criticized Hillary Clinton for what he claimed was her desire to “dramatically increase admissions from the Middle East.”

“I said this was going to happen — and it is only going to get worse,” Mr. Trump said in a statement, arguing that he had warned of the growing terrorist threat in the United States.

Trump made the remarks amid the reports about the attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando where at least 50 people were killed and 53 injured by an attacker, identified as Omar Mateen, an 29 y.o. Afghan descent, a Muslim. Before the attack Mateen already was in the the FBI watch list of Islamist extremist sympathizers. During the shooting Omar Mateen called 911 and stated allegiance to the ISIS terrorist group. He used a handgun and AR-15-type rifle in the shooting spree and was killed in a firefight with the police.

This rifle typically holds about 30 rounds at a time in a magazine.  The attacker had to reload numerous times in order to inflict the observed amount of violence. In other words, one man with a riffle was trained enough to do kill 50 people, injure 53  and oppose the police and SWAT for a significant amount of time. Omar Mateen was an employee of the US subsidiary of G4S plc, a British multinational security services company, whose US-headquarters are located in Jupiter, Florida. It’s the world’s largest security company by revenue. Omar Mateen was licensed as a security guard and holds a firearms license, despite had been on a terrorist watchlist.

South Front, Western States Amass Forces in Syria, Staff report, June 13, 2016. Ground forces from Western states are rehearsing in Syria amassing a large-scale force for a future crisis. At least three Western countries – the United States, the United Kingdom and France – have deployed special operations forces to Syria:

◾The US deployed special operation forces in order to support the advance of the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Northern Syria. In 2015 there were reports that US servicemen were building an air base in the Syrian Kurdish region of Hasakah. The US denied claims. However, now, it’s clear that the air base operates, providing arms and supplies to the units clashing against ISIS near Manbij.

◾ France’s Defense Ministry admitted the presence of its special forces on the ground in Syria on June 9. According to report, French troops assist US troops and SDF units in operations near Manbij. The same force will likely participate in a long-expected advance on Raqqa, if it’s started, at least. Now, France is building a military base near the city of Kobane in Syria’s Aleppo province. The information is confirmed by a wide range of Kurdish sources.

◾ UK special forces operating on the front line alongside rebels in Syria near the Jordanian border. They participate in direct clashes, provide training and manage of the opposition group, called “New Syrian Army.”

Daily Howler, Muhammad Ali And Who Gets To Be Us: The shrunken state of our leadership! Bob Somerby, June 13, 2016.  For our money, brilliant speeches were delivered last Friday by an array of speakers—speakers who ranged from ages 11 and 19 on up. We were struck, as we often are, by the moral and intellectual brilliance, which has emerged from the African-American world as part of our nation's benighted racial history.  Again and again, the speeches at last Friday's event often turned on a basic question: Who gets to be us? Again and again, lifelong friends of Ali reported an intriguing conclusion: Everyone does! Everyone gets to be us!

Example:  Attalah Shabazz was six years old, and physically present, when her father, Malcom X, was shot and killed at a public event in 1965. In her speech last Friday, she described her searching relationship with her father's one-time friend, Ali, a relationship which started some thirteen years later.

According to Shabazz, she and Ali discussed his lapsed friendship with her father; they discussed the pain the break in the friendship had caused Ali. "We cried out loud," she said. "And then, just as loudly, we'd laugh, about the best of stories." In her remarkable speech, Shabazz described what Ali told her about his discussions with her father.

Mind Renewed and Liberty Beacon via Paul Craig Roberts.org, Britain should leave the EU, an orchestrated CIA creation, Preface by Pam Barker, June 13, 2016 (originally June 2). This is the first part of an interview Dr. Paul Craig Roberts recently gave to Julian Charles of The Mind Renewed.

In this first part, see a very important article from 2000 by Ambrose Pritchard-Evans, Euro-federalists financed by US spy chiefs, writing for the Telegraph is referenced. The link to that can be found here l. The link to Dr. Roberts’ recent blog post on May 5, also referenced, can be found here. Interview excerpts:

PCR:  Washington is committed to the EU project because it’s in its own interests. Cameron’s job is to scare people to remain.

Basically, the EU is a creation of the CIA, discovered some years ago by an American professor who came upon archived public documents that had been declassified. It was reported on by the Telegraph in 2000 by Ambrose Pritchard-Evans. The documents show that the CIA did this – organised and lobbied for the creation of the EU first to be a bloc against the Soviets, and second to enable Washington’s control. Controlling all the separate European governments – there are now 28 of them – is too difficult. It’s easier to deal with one bloc.

Washington set the EU up to have a firm hold on its empire. It goes back to the ‘50s – the EU was a creation of the CIA to enhance its empire. If one government holds out when making a deal over something, nothing can happen as a group. But Washington only has to deal with one entity if the countries are all dissolved. That’s why it has pushed strongly to put Eastern Europe in the EU and NATO, too.

mohammed-bin-salman-john-kerryU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, with Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince, who visited Washington this week

RealClearWorld with the Wilson Center, Saudi Arabia's Wonder Prince Comes to Washington, David Ottaway (Woodrow Wilson Center senior fellow), June 13, 2016. Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s iconoclast deputy crown prince, makes his Washington debut this week amid a new low point in U.S.-Saudi relations. At age 30, and after just 14 months on the job, the upstart prince is already the most influential policymaker in the ruling House of Saud, while remaining somewhat of an enigma in the American capital. He has been busy engineering a new Saudi economy no longer dependent on oil for its lifeblood, and now he has to deal with shaping a new foreign policy no longer dependent on the United States for its military muscle.

Mohammed is the leading young hawk of a royal family determined to show that the Saudi kingdom is not only a religious and oil powerhouse, but also a military one. The Obama administration has been encouraging the Saudis to rely more on themselves for their security, but has discovered in the process that Riyadh has conflicting objectives and priorities from Washington. This has become most apparent in their differing attitudes toward  Iran. The Saudis -- who view Iran as their main enemy in the region -- seek to isolate Tehran, while the Obama White House has encouraged Riyadh to “share the neighborhood.”

But the primary bone of contention in Mohammed’s talks here with senior U.S. officials will no doubt be Syria. The Saudis are chaffing to escalate the war to force President Bashar Assad from power. They are pushing the White House to embrace a Plan B calling for such an escalation, including the controversial inclusion of anti-aircraft missiles for anti-Assad rebel groups.

June 12

FoxNews.com, Orlando gunman tied to radical imam released from prison last year, say law enforcement sources, Malia Zimmerman, June 12, 2016. EDITOR'S NOTE: Orlando's mayor on Monday revised the death toll in the nightclub shooting to 49, from 50. The 50th body was identified as gunman Omar Mateen. The gunman who murdered at least 50 people in a Florida nightclub early Sunday morning was a follower of a controversial gang leader-turned-bank robber who was released from prison last year despite warnings from prosecutors that he would recruit people to carry out violent acts, sources told FoxNews.com.

History News Network, Bob Woodward’s Secret. Shouldn’t He Have Disclosed It? Ray Locker and Len Colodny, June 12, 2016. Ray Locker is the Washington enterprise editor of USA  TODAY and author of Len Colodny cover"Nixon’s Gamble: How a President’s Own Secret Government Destroyed His Administration." Len Colodny is the author of "Silent Coup: The Removal of a President and The Forty Years War: The Rise and Fall of the Neocons from Nixon to Obama," which was republished June 12 as an ebook in a 25th anniversary edition.

On January 12, 1974, the nation's hottest young reporting duo had a story on the front page of the Washington Post that had tremendous national security and political ramifications: the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was receiving secrets stolen from the White House. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein had the story, based on Woodward’s sources. It came at a difficult time for the White House, as President Nixon was spiraling toward resignation.

But despite the story's potential impact, Post readers only knew part of the story. They did not know, because Woodward did not tell them, that he was writing about his former boss and a longtime associate and patron during the time he served in the Navy. (He began working at the Post just one year after leaving the Navy.) The story did not reveal the true scope of what became known as the Moorer-Radford spy ring.

Woodward’s conduct would be a firing offense in today's journalism world. Writing about former close associates without disclosing your relationship denies readers an accurate accounting of events. In recent years, reporters and television commentators have been fired in California and Canada for not disclosing their relationships to people mentioned in their reporting.

Richard NixonIf Woodward had revealed his connections to the principals in the spy ring, it would have undermined the innocent outsider image he had cultivated since he gained fame covering the Watergate break-in and cover-up. His sourcing, which intrigued those inside the Nixon White House and the media, would have become clearer. Woodward would have exposed himself as a consummate insider tied to the military’s top leadership.

Rear Admiral Robert Welander, the leader of the Joint Chiefs' liaison office at the National Security Council (NSC), had been Woodward's commanding officer on the USS Fox, a destroyer serving off the coast of Vietnam. Admiral Thomas Moorer, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was Woodward's commander at the Pentagon, where Woodward ran the communications center and delivered messages from the Pentagon to the White House and the National Security Council.

While at the White House, Woodward also briefed Brigadier General Alexander Haig on developments at the Pentagon. Haig worked closely with Welander and his predecessor, Rear Admiral Rembrandt Robinson, to keep them informed of White House plans, including many that Nixon wanted to hide from the military. At the time the ring was discovered in December 1971, Haig was the top deputy to national security adviser Henry Kissinger, who was livid about the leaks.

Moorer, Welander and Haig were central to the military spy ring, but Post readers did not know the whole truth when they read the story that day. Instead, a comparison of the Post account and one on the same day by Seymour Hersh in the New York Times shows how the Post story was skewed to hide the roles of Woodward's former associates and to minimize the significance of the spying.

Washington Post, Gunman who killed 50 in Orlando nightclub had pledged allegiance to ISIS, Hayley Tsukayama, Mark Berman and Jerry Markon, June 12, 2016. A gunman who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State opened fire inside a crowded gay bar and dance club here early Sunday, leaving 50 people dead and 53 injured in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, authorities said. President Obama labeled the rampage “an act of terror and an act of hate.”

The gunman fired bullets seemingly at random inside the popular Pulse nightclub, forcing panicked patrons to dive onto the dance floor, crawl across the ground and scramble out a back entrance. He then held others hostage in a three-hour siege that ended when police stormed the building and killed him. Witnesses described scenes of horrific carnage. Victims flooded local hospitals with gunshot wounds to their chests, legs and arms. Some had their calves and forearms blown off, doctors said. Police said the toll could have been even greater had a SWAT team not rescued 30 people and shepherded them to safety. Many of the victims were Latino; the club was celebrating “Latin Night.”

The gunman was identified as Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard who was born in New York to Afghan parents. After his initial assault on the dance club, Mateen called 911 and pledged allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, according to U.S. law enforcement officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the FBI investigation is unfolding. During the call, Mateen made reference to the 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon, officials said.

Many questions remained unanswered. It was unclear, for example, how a lone gunman managed to hold so many people inside the nightclub for so long, whether any of the clubgoers tried to stop him and why police waited three hours to intervene. A clear timeline of events, including when the victims were killed and injured and who shot them, remained elusive.

Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette (IL), Sports trumps all in Big Ten salaries, Jeff D'Alessio, June 12, 2016. With the ink still fresh on Lovie Smith's six-year deal and the [University of Illinois) now searching for a permanent chancellor, the News-Gazette obtained and analyzed 33 contracts of campus chiefs and football and basketball coaches at other Big Ten public universities. Twenty-five things we learned:

— The highest-paid public employee in all of Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio and Wisconsin is a Big Ten football coach.

— The highest-paid public employee in Indiana, Maryland and Minnesota is a Big Ten basketball coach.

— If you add up all the money Illinois has committed to Smith ($21 million over six years) and basketball's John Groce ($5.1 million over three more years), you're still shy of the $27,434,457 Urban Meyer would be owed if Ohio State fired its football coach without cause between now and Jan. 31, 2017.

— Among the 13 sitting campus chiefs at public schools, all but two chancellors or presidents make more than President Obama: outgoing Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman ($359,494) and interim UI Chancellor Barb Wilson ($397,500 — $2,500 shy of Barack Obama's salary).

Washington Post, 45 years after the Pentagon Papers, a new challenge to government secrecy, Sanford J. Ungar, June 12, 2016. Sanford J. Ungar, author of “The Papers & the Papers: An Account of the Legal and Political Battle over the Pentagon Papers,” teaches seminars on free speech at Harvard and Georgetown universities. Computers might hold a solution to the astonishing volume of classified material. Nothing is more important to the health and sustainability of a modern democracy than its citizens’ awareness of, and confidence in, what their government is doing. Excessive government secrecy — inherent, instinctive, utterly unnecessary and often bureaucratically self-protective — is poison to the well-being of civil society.

It is useful to remember this simple precept Monday, the 45th anniversary of the 1971 publication by the New York Times of the Pentagon Papers, a classified government history of decades of U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia and the untruths the public was told about it.

Mike Hubbard Alabama

Mike Hubbard, Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives

Associated Press via Al.com, Mike Hubbard maintains innocence, holds head high after ethics conviction, Staff report, June 12, 2016. The former speaker of the Alabama House of Representative said he is leaving politics with his head held high and working to come to terms with the ethics conviction that removed him from office. The statement to The Associated Press was Mike Hubbard's first public comment since his conviction Friday on ethics charges. He also maintained his innocence.

"My family and I are working to come to terms with the disappointing verdicts, and I continue to steadfastly maintain my innocence. We have every confidence that the coming appeals process will be successful," Hubbard said. A jury found Hubbard guilty on 12 charges that he wrongly solicited consulting contracts and investments and used his office to benefit his businesses and clients. Each count is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The convictions resulted in Hubbard's automatic removal from office.

Key West Citizen, Spellbinding presentation at Mystery Writers fest, Kay Harris, June 12, 2016. Bestselling author and attorney Robert K. Tanenbaum held the audience spellbound Saturday at the Mystery Writers Key West Fest, relaying personal anecdotes from his professional career, which included serving on a committee investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Tanenbaum’s presentation was as intriguing as one of his many novels and works of nonfiction about his life and career. The author spoke much as he writes, in a meandering fashion with numerous tangential plot lines, the introduction of multiple characters, and plenty of colorful anecdotes sprinkled throughout, but ultimately all coming back to a central plot line — the search for truth and ultimately justice.  

Unfortunately, the biggest case he was involved in did not end with a finding of truth or justice served, and Tanenbaum has been a regular for years on news shows and cited in numerous articles about the improper handling of the investigation into JFK’s assassination.

As the former chief deputy counsel for the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations, he and the chief counsel, Richard Sprague, resigned over the inability of the committee to gain access to material and witnesses to conduct a true investigation of Kennedy’s death. Both former trial lawyers, “We were trying to investigate like we would any other murder case,” he said, but added it was not possible to do so. He cited examples of evidence that disappeared, a CIA agent providing false testimony, and numerous other examples of improprieties which led him to believe that the “search for truth” in the case was going nowhere.  

The end result was a report on the committee’s findings which Tanenbaum said was contradicted by witness statements and which was not representative of the evidence presented.

When asked “whodunit,” Tanenbaum answered that there was no evidence linking President Lyndon Johnson, Cuban President Fidel Castro, or organized crime to the president’s murder. However, he said there is evidence to support the theory that “rogue elements in the CIA,” upset by Kennedy’s handling of the Bay of Pigs, had something to do with the events in Dallas in November 1963. Providing vivid details about the shooting, the “magic one-bullet” theory, the initial medical assistance provided in Dallas and the subsequent autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital, Tanenbaum was able to hold the audience enthralled for nearly two hours before reluctantly having to end his presentation as the Mystery Writers Fest had a packed schedule of events for the remainder of the day.

Stone Zone, The Clinton University Scandal is worse than Trump U, Roger Stone, June 12, 2016. Hillary Clinton took to Twitter last Wednesday to call Trump University “a fraudulent scheme used to prey upon those who could least afford it.” This is what Jackie Mason would call Chutzpah, because the Clintons have a 'University scandal" of their own and it's magnitude dwarfs Trump U.

Hillary and Bill ClintonThe Clinton Global Initiative joint venture with Laureate Education, a shaky for-profit chain of schools, to create CGI-University is the final step in an incredible predatory stock deal. Laureate Education deal used high-pressure boiler room tactics to rack up $750 million of debt on students while running a $457 Million debt at the same Bill Clinton was taking lavish but hidden compensation from Laureate while Hillary's State Department was lavishing $150 million on the chain of for profit schools that has a more than 50% graduation rate and a high drop-out rate. Forbes Magazine reported that Laureate “induces students to incur massive tuition debt to attend a school with no academic reputation and virtually no standards for admission other than the ability to pay.”

But, it's worse than that. "Laureate is a highly leveraged failing investment whose principal beneficiaries are Wall Street fat cats and billionaire Friends of Bill, and William Jefferson Clinton. The FOB still plan an lucrative IPO but nowhere is it disclosed what Bill Clinton is holding in terms of stock options."

In August 2007, Laureate Education went private in a very risky multibillion dollar hugely leveraged transaction. This was towards the tail end of the financial bubble. The leveraged buyout was completed later in August for around $3 billion in debt plus equity. Driving the deal was Hedge Fund King Steven Cohen. Other investors were George Soros, Henry Kravis of the Wall Street investment banking firm KKR and Paul Allen of Microsoft fame.

BBC, CIA chief Brennan: Secret US report on 9/11 'will absolve Saudi,' Staff report, June 12, 2016. The probable publication of classified parts of a 2002 congressional report into the 9/11 attacks will clear Saudi John BrennanArabia of any responsibility, CIA chief John Brennan has said. Keeping 28 pages of the report secret has sparked speculation that the attack had received official Saudi support. The classified pages are also central to a dispute over whether the families of 9/11 victims should be able to sue the Saudi government. Saudi Arabia denies any involvement. Fifteen out of the 19 hijackers in 2001 were Saudi citizens.

Former senator Bob Graham, who headed the Senate intelligence committee that compiled the classified report in 2002, has said that Saudi officials did provide assistance to the 9/11 hijackers.

But Mr Brennan (shown in an official photo) said this was not the case. "So these 28 pages I believe are going to come out and I think it's good that they come out. People shouldn't take them as evidence of Saudi complicity in the attacks," Mr Brennan said in an interview with Saudi-owned Arabiya TV. Mr Brennan also described the 28-page section of the 2002 report as merely a "preliminary review."

Robert Kennedy Victory Speech Ambassador Hotel, June 6, 1968Fifth Estate (Indonesia), Readers Guide to the RFK Assassination (from Justice Integrity Project), Andrew Kreig, June 12, 2016. The Justice Integrity Project provides an in-depth pathway to understanding and analyzing the assassination of Robert Kennedy, who was murdered in 1968 shortly after his victory speech shown at left in California's Democratic primary at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

June 11

Donald Trump

Washington Post, As its stock collapsed, Trump’s first public company gave him huge bonuses and paid for his jet, Drew Harwell, June 11, 2016. The firm lost money every year under his leadership and cost shareholders millions, but interviews and financial filings show that even when his endeavors failed, Donald Trump found a way to make money for himself.

Bilderberg ChartZero Hedge, Does Bilderberg Really Run The World? One Chart To Help You Decide, Tyler Durden, June 11, 2016. With the Bilderberg 2016 meeting now humming along at the Taschenbergpalais hotel in Dresden, deep behind closed doors and protected by heavily-armed guards, many have wondered: just how hyperbolic are allegations that the Bilderbergs run the world. To help readers decide, here is a chart laying out the linkages and various connections — financial, political, statutory and otherwise — between the handful of people who comprise the Bilderberg core and the rest of the world.

Politico, Erdoğan fails to grab spotlight at Muhammad Ali’s funeral, Arnau Busquets Guàrdia, June 11, 2016. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan abruptly returned home from the United States after organizers of Muhammad Ali’s funeral rejected his request to honor the revered boxer with a special gesture that would highlight his Muslim faith. Erdoğan attended the traditional Muslim prayer ceremony for Ali on Thursday but missed Friday’s funeral in Louisville, Kentucky, according to an AP report.

Recep ErdoganTurkish media reported that Erdoğan (shown in a file photo) was vexed after funeral organizers rejected his request to lay a piece from the cloth covering the Kaaba — located in Islam’s most sacred mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia — on Ali’s coffin during a funeral ceremony.

They reportedly also denied a request for Turkey’s top cleric, traveling with Erdoğan to the U.S., to read from the Quran at the multi-faith service, attended by 14,000 in Ali’s hometown, according to Turkish Dogan news agency.  The Turkish president and his office did not provide a statement on the president’s early return to  Istanbul. Erdoğan is a long-time admirer of Ali, who converted to Islam at the age of 22.

June 10

Al.com, Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard convicted on 12 counts, Mike Cason, June 10, 2016. A Lee County jury today convicted Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard on 12 felony charges in his ethics case, removing Hubbard from office. Hubbard, 54, was convicted after a jury spent seven hours deliberating whether he used his public position for personal gain.

Hubbard faces up to 20 years in prison for each ethics count. Sentencing is set for July 8. Hubbard was immediately taken into custody and placed in the Lee County jail. He was released on $160,000 bond Friday night and driven away by a bail bondsman, according to the Associated Press. The conviction came after a 12-day trial in which Hubbard took the stand for three days in his own defense.

Gary Null Show, Guest Daniel "Danny" Sheehan, Gary Null, June 10, 2016. Part Four of Conversations with Remarkable Minds featuring public interest lawyer and author Daniel Sheehan, a constitutional and Daniel Sheehanpublic interest lawyer, public speaker and educator. Over the last forty-five years he has participated in numerous legal cases of public interest, including the Pentagon Papers Case, the Watergate Break-In Case, the Silkwood Case, the Iran-Contra Scandal and others. He established the Christic Institute and the Romero Institute, two non-profit public policy centers. Sheehan published The People's Advocate, a memoir, in 2013 through Counterpoint publishing.

Series: Part OnePart Two; Part Three; and Part Four.

June 9

Wall Street Journal, Two Accused in J.P. Morgan Hacking Case Plead Not Guilty, Nicole Hong, June 9, 2016. In their first U.S. court appearances, two Israeli men pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges that they broke into a dozen companies’ computer networks, including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., to facilitate a global network of criminal activity. Gery Shalon and Ziv Orenstein were recently extradited to the U.S. from Israel, where they had been in custody since their arrest last summer. At the time, a third defendant, Josh Aaron, had been at large. Mr. Aaron, a U.S. citizen, has since been arrested in Russia and is expected to be brought to the U.S., according to people familiar with the matter.

Federal prosecutors accused the three men and their accomplices of carrying out data breaches at a dozen companies and turning the stolen information, including customers’ email addresses and phone numbers, into hundreds of millions of dollars. The hacking allegedly facilitated a host of other crimes, including illegal internet casinos, pump-and-dump schemes, a payment processing service for other criminals and an unlicensed bitcoin exchange.

In the alleged scheme, one of the biggest cyberattacks was against J.P. Morgan, the largest U.S. bank by assets, where the men stole the contact information of more than 83 million customers, according to officials. Prosecutors also say the men orchestrated hacks into E*Trade Financial Corp., Scottrade Inc. and Dow Jones & Co., the parent company of The Wall Street Journal.

Donald Trump USA Today imageDonald Trump (USA Today image)

USA Today, Trump's Trail of Unpaid Bills, Steve Reilly, June 9, 2016. Hundreds allege Donald Trump doesn’t pay his bills. Donald Trump casts himself as a protector of workers and jobs, but a USA Today investigation found hundreds of people – carpenters, dishwashers, painters, even his own lawyers – who say he didn’t pay them for their work.

During the Atlantic City casino boom in the 1980s, Philadelphia cabinet-builder Edward Friel Jr. landed a $400,000 contract to build the bases for slot machines, registration desks, bars and other cabinets at Harrah's at Trump Plaza. The family cabinetry business, founded in the 1940s by Edward’s father, finished its work in 1984 and submitted its final bill to the general contractor for the Trump Organization, the resort’s builder.

Edward’s son, Paul, who was the firm’s accountant, still remembers the amount of that bill more than 30 years later: $83,600. The reason: the money never came. “That began the demise of the Edward J. Friel Company… which has been around since my grandfather,” he said. Donald Trump often portrays himself as a savior of the working class who will "protect your job." But a USA TODAY NETWORK analysis found he has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades — and a large number of those involve ordinary Americans, like the Friels, who say Trump or his companies have refused to pay them.

Washington Post, Obama endorses Clinton as Sanders suggests he’ll exit race, John Wagner, Juliet Eilperin and Robert Costa, June 9, 2016. The president formally endorsed Hillary Clinton with a video released Thursday afternoon and said he plans to campaign with her. After a meeting with Obama, Bernie Sanders said he’ll stay in the race through D.C.’s primary and looks forward to working with Clinton to beat Donald Trump.

President Obama and Muhammad Ali photo book June 9, 2016

President Barack Obama looks at photos of Muhammad Ali during a taping on reflections of Muhammad Ali for Facebook Live in the Oval Office Private Dining Room, June 9, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Washington Post, Seeking to exit on his own terms, Sanders comes to Washington, John Wagner, Robert Costa and Juliet Eilperin​,​ June 9, 2016. Bernie Sanders and the President Obama had a private meeting that White Bernie Sanders for President buttonHouse officials said was not aimed at pressuring the senator from Vermont to concede, but rather to discuss his priorities and how to best incorporate them into the broader Democratic Party agenda.

Washington Post, American ISIS fighter who ‘found it hard’ returns to face criminal charges, Matt Zapotosky, June 9, 2016. A Northern Virginia man who joined and then fled the Islamic State before being captured by Kurdish fighters in Iraq was flown back to the United States late Wednesday to face trial. Mohamad Khweis was charged in federal district court in Alexandria with providing and conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, according to court records and U.S. officials familiar with the case.

Khweis is expected to appear in court Thursday afternoon. In an 11-page affidavit, FBI Special Agent Victoria I. Martinez alleged that Khweis, 26, moved to various Islamic State safehouses during his time abroad and admitted in an interview that he told another member of the group — also known as ISIL or ISIS — that he wanted to be a suicide bomber in response to a question he thought was meant to test his loyalty. Martinez stated in the affidavit that Khweis was “inspired to join ISIL because he saw that they had established an Islamic caliphate and were in the process of expanding it.”

Legal Schnauzer, Here is how Mike Hubbard wound up taking the stand in his own defense at ethics-law trial--and here's why the maneuver is likely to blow up in his face, Roger Shuler, June 9, 2016. On the surface, it looks like Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard took the stand in his own defense because he and his lawyers thought Hubbard could convince jurors of his innocence by addressing them directly. In reality, it appears Hubbard took the stand because Judge Jakob Walker rejected two other witnesses — leaving the defense with, well, no one but Hubbard.

Could the strategy work in the long run anyway? A seasoned Alabama attorney says it is extremely unlikely, especially since Hubbard has opened himself up to cross examination from prosecutor Matt Hart. Attorney Donald Watkins says putting Hubbard on the stand is like throwing a desperation "Hail, Mary" pass at the end of a football game — and Hart is likely to bat it down.

According to a report from Bill Britt at Alabama Political Reporter (APR), the defense's plan was to call former governor Bob Riley back to the stand, along with Kitty Brown, a partner at the White Arnold Dowd firm that originally represented Hubbard.

Washington Post, In U.S. drinking water, many chemicals are regulated — but many aren’t, Brady Dennis, June 10, 2016. Critics fault regulators and Congress for not restricting more “emerging contaminants.” The Environmental Protection Agency keeps tabs on scores of substances that have surfaced in water systems around the country, with the aim of restricting those that endanger public health. But partly because the rules that the agency must follow are complicated and contentious, officials have failed to successfully regulate any new contaminant in two decades.

Only once since the 1990s has the EPA come close to imposing a new standard — for perchlorate, a chemical found in explosives, road flares, rocket fuel and, it turns out, the drinking water of over 16 million people. The years of inaction, critics say, have left many Americans at potential risk from substances that few even realize might be in their water in the first place.

Washington Post, How an obscure nonprofit in Washington protects tax havens for the rich, Scott Higham, Ana Swanson and Debbie Cenziper, June 10, 2016. The Panama Papers leak reveals the interplay of lobbying, politics and the offshore world.

National Press Club, Ukrainian Prime Minister to speak at June 16 afternoon Newsmaker, Peter Hickman, June 9, 2016. In his first visit to the United States as Ukraine’s prime minister, Volodymyr Groysman (shown in an official photo) will Volodymyr Groysman Ukraine PMdiscuss the current political situation in his country, economic reforms and cooperation with the International Monetary Fund at a National Press Club Newsmaker news conference at 2 p.m. Thursday, June 16, in the Bloomberg Room. He will also will discuss the results of his talks with U.S. officials, representatives of international organizations and institutions and Ukrainian-U.S. and Ukrainian-IMF relations.

Washington Post, The party of Lincoln is dying, Michael Gerson, June 9, 2016. By kneeling to Trump, the GOP is failing a basic test of public justice: Don’t support racism.

Fox News via WND, Report: Clinton For-Profit Education Scandal Dwarfs Trump University, Jerome R. Corsi (shown in file photo), June 5, 2016. Bill and Hillary Clinton’s attack on Donald Trump over Dr. Jerome R. CorsiTrump University could invite increased scrutiny of the Clintons’ involvement in a for-profit education scandal in which a company that runs shell colleges paid Bill Clinton $16.5 million to be its pitchman. While the Clintons were collecting millions, Hillary Clinton’s State Department funneled at least $55 million to a group run by the college company, Laureate Education Inc., according to Peter Schweizer’s book Clinton Cash as Breitbart reported.

Clinton abruptly resigned from his post as “honorary chancellor” in April 2015 when the disclosure was publicized. Documents uncovered by Washington-based watchdog Judicial Watch show Laureate Education paid the former president through a “shell corporation” pass-through account that evidently passed State Department scrutiny while Hillary was secretary of state.

June 8

Washington Post, Clinton wins vigorously contested California as Sanders vows to continue, Anne Gearan, Robert Costa and John Wagner​, June 8, 2016. Clinton marked her apparent status as the first woman Hillary Clintonto win a major party’s presidential nomination as she won Democratic primary contests in New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota and California, the biggest prize. Sanders took Montana and North Dakota.

Daily Howler, Absolutely zero news value, Bob Somerby, June 8, 2016. The AP was silly this week. We refer to its fevered election eve report, in which it announced that Candidate Clinton had gone over the top in the delegate count. What an utterly pointless "news report!" Everyone had known for weeks that the primaries of June 7 were going to put Candidate Clinton way, way over the top, if you were willing to include the so-called super-delegates.

This is the ultimate horserace story. It involves the ultimate waste of journalists' time, chasing down an election result which everyone knew was coming. Much worse, and needless to say, Sanders supporters were given yet another way to think the election was rigged.

Reuters, Islamic State loses ground on fronts in Syria, Iraq, Tom Perry and Ahmed Rasheed, June 8, 2016. Islamic State's far-flung enemies in Syria and Iraq pressed ahead on Wednesday with major advances on multiple fronts that have put some of the greatest pressure on the ultra-hardline Islamists since they declared their caliphate two years ago.

Strategic Culture Foundation, How Corrupt America Is, Eric Zuesse, June 8, 2016. The best reporting on the depth of America’s dictatorship is probably that being done by Atlanta Georgia’s NBC-affiliated, Gannett-owned, TV Channel “11 Alive,” WXIA television, “The Investigators” series of local investigative news reports. The links to three of these local TV news reports will be provided. The central video will be the second of the three, which deals with the impact that the national organization called ALEC plays.

1.    Georgians are prohibited from seeing Georgia’s laws unless they pay over $300 to buy the law books. (Thus, for example, Georgians get arrested, then charged, then judged, then perhaps imprisoned, according to laws they can’t even so much as see beforehand.)

2.    Georgia’s laws are written in secret by the Kochs’ and other billionaires’ ‘charity’ (like NGOs but operating only within a nation, not internationally) called ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), which pays legislators to approve the laws that it writes, and which requires them to pass these laws (or else they’ll lose their legislative seats as being ‘representatives of the people’).

3.    Georgians have no way of knowing who or what will be charged to them on their medical bills. Patients who have a medical emergency are especially flying blind into deep indebtedness and possible bankruptcy, over which they’ve got no control.

Guardian, Bilderberg staff make last nervy tweaks before arrival of the rich and powerful, Charlie Skelton, June 8, 2016. You know Bilderberg’s about to begin when you start seeing the guns. The Taschenbergpalais hotel in Dresden is filling up with pistol-packing plainclothes security as the last guests are ushered out. The frowning gunslingers head up and down the corridors with their hotel maps, trying door handles and checking the lay of the land while, down in the hotel lobby, corporate goons gather in muttering huddles.

I don’t know why everyone’s so antsy. According to the local newspaper DNN, at least 400 police officers will be surrounding the venue for the three days of the talks. There’s already a ring of concrete blocks around the entrance. Is that not enough? What are they expecting? The charge of the light brigade? The hotel is being trussed up tighter than Reid Hoffman’s trousers. No one gets in or out without the right lanyard. As Ed Balls remembers only too well, from that awkward business in Copenhagen. Inside the security cordon, the final nervy tweaks are being made by conference staff. They’ve got to make sure Henry Kissinger’s curtains don’t let any light in. A single ray could be fatal.

Alex Jones Radio Show, A Bilderberg Primer, Kurt Nimmo, June 8, 2016. Infowars has been at the forefront reporting on the secretive meeting. The annual globalist Bilderberg confab will begin on Thursday and conclude on Sunday in Dresden, Germany. Infowars has been at the forefront reporting on the secretive meeting for years. Below we provide a sample of past reportage. Consider it a primer to wrap your head around what Bilderberg is and what they plot in private behind guarded closed doors.

  • The secretive Bilderberg Group is rabidly anti-Brexit and ultra pro-EU
  • Globalists panicking about populist revolution sweeping the west
  • The list of the rich and powerful attending 2016 Bilderberg Conference has been released
  • Bilderberg 2016: We can expect desperate lobbying against Brexit from Big Business
  • Elitists seek to eviscerate online anonymity, chill free speech
  • Donald Trump fan in Germany shares Bilderberg knowledge
  • Bilderberg 2015: Elitist confab to discuss artificial intelligence

JFKFactsOnline.org, Speaking Bluntly: A conversation with a leading JFK researcher, Malcolm Blunt, Alan Dale, June 8, 2016. Repost of Alan Dale’s conversation with one of the most knowledgeable JFK researchers in the world: Malcolm Blunt, an independent investigator of the truth with an unbiased instinct for what is important – and what is not – in the details of President Kennedy’s assassination. No one knows more about the CIA bureaucracy and how it functioned in the Kennedy era than this wise and funny and generous man.

June 7

Christine LaGarde at National Press Club (Photo courtesy Noel St. John)David Petraeus

Among attendees at this year's annual Bilderberg Group meeting will be International Monetary Fund Director Christine LaGarde (shown in a photo courtesy of Noel St. John) and Wall Street banker David Petraeus (shown his official photo as CIA director). The secretive annual meetings were started the Rothschild and Rockefeller families at the rural Dutch Bilderberg Hotel in 1954 with an exclusive list of banking titans, royalty, and favored government officials and media committed to policy-making leadership and secrecy.

Bilderberg Meetings, 64th Bilderberg conference to take place from 9-12 June 2016 in Dresden, Germany, June 7, 2016. The 64th Bilderberg meeting is set to take place from June 9-12, 2016 in Dresden, Germany. A total of around 130 participants from 20 countries have confirmed their attendance. As ever, a diverse group of political leaders and experts from industry, finance, academia and the media have been invited. The list of participants is available on here. The key topics for discussion this year include: Current events, China, Europe: migration, growth, reform, vision, unity, Middle East, Russia, US political landscape, economy: growth, debt, reform, Cyber security, Geo-politics of energy and commodity prices, Precariat and middle class, and Technological innovation.

Alabama Political Reporter, Hubbard Trial Day Nine: Testimony Indicates Hubbard Merged Speaker’s Office With Riley’s Lobbying Firm, Bill Britt, June 7, 2016. Emails entered into evidence during former Gov. Bob Riley’s testimony on day nine, was a matrix of deals that benefited both former Gov. Bob Riley and Speaker Mike Hubbard, the defendant. Lead Prosecutor, Matt Hart, in email after email revealed a disturbing pattern where Riley would ask something from Hubbard, receive it, and vice versa, in a quid pro quo style transaction. Under the Ethics Laws that Hubbard and Riley championed and passed, just one such action would result in a felony charge. These two men repeated the scheme numerous times.

Emails revealed Riley called bond dealer, Frazier Lanier, to get work for Hubbard. They also show Riley solicited Hubbard to arrange a joint session of the Legislature for the President of Airbus to speak, and in return, Hubbard asked Riley to help him contract Airbus’ printing business. Riley said that it would be better for Hubbard to try to get Wayne Smith’s hospital printing business instead, because there would be no conflict of interest.

June 6

Reuters, UN: Fight Against ISIS In Northern Syria Could Displace 200,000 Civilians, Staff report, June 6, 2016. A U.S.-backed offensive to retake the Islamic State-held northern Syrian city of Manbij has displaced some 20,000 civilians and could uproot about 216,000 more if it continues, a U.N. humanitarian agency said on Monday. Syrian fighters have surrounded Manbij from three sides as they press the onslaught against the jihadists near the Turkish border. 

Al.com, Bob Riley's testimony gets tense in Mike Hubbard trial, Mike Cason, June 6, 2016. Former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley testified this morning that House Speaker Mike Hubbard was joking when Hubbard asked Riley in an email "What were we thinking?" when they passed ethics laws in 2010. Riley, Hubbard's longtime mentor, resumed his testimony in Hubbard's ethics trial.

The Duran via The Saker, Russia Prepares to Bomb the Rebels in Aleppo Again: As the rebels launch an offensive, truce around Aleppo approaches collapse, Alexander Mercouris, June 6, 2016. Evidence is mounting that the Russians are cranking up to resume large scale bombing in and around the Syrian city of Aleppo. The background is an agreement which was concluded by the US and the Russians in February. This called for a “cessation of hostilities” between the various Syrian factions in return for which Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria was to be scaled down.

A fundamental part of the “cessation of hostilities” agreement was that the US would persuade the various groups it supports in Syria – the so-called “moderates” who form the so-called “Free Syrian Army” – to separate their fighters from these two terrorist groups. As for the US, there is little or no evidence that it has ever made any serious attempt to persuade the so-called “moderate fighters” it supports to separate themselves from Daesh or Jabhat Al-Nusra. On the contrary the whole weight of the US’s diplomatic activity over the last few weeks has been to dissuade the Russians from bombing Jabhat Al-Nusra from in and around Aleppo on the grounds that this might hit the so-called “moderate fighters.”

To understand how extraordinary that demand is, just consider that the US has never in all the air campaigns it has waged in the Middle East – whether against the Taliban in Afghanistan or in Iraq or in Libya or Syria – ever sought to distinguish between “militants” and “moderates.”

Commentary, Trump Trolls Himself on Judge Smear, Jonathan S. Tobin, June 6, 2016. The problem here goes deeper than the question of a campaign that is clearly in chaos and seems ill-prepared to contest a general election against the sophisticated data and attack machine Democrats have assembled.

MSNBC, Donald Trump does not have a campaign, Benjy Sarlin, Katy Tur and Ali Vitali, June 6, 2016. The most glaring [problem] was Trump’s failure to focus attention on Clinton’s use of a private email address and server as secretary of state, the subject of a tough inspector general report last month. Trump mentioned the report only briefly in passing in a speech the day of the report’s release, instead making headlines with renewed attacks on Romney, whom he called a “choker,” and defeated GOP primary rival Jeb Bush. The next morning, Trump continued a feud with Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, calling her “Pocahontas” in a tweet and providing another story to distract from the email issue.

June 5

WhoWhatWhy, What Did the Death of Bobby Kennedy Mean? Jeff Schechtman, June 4, 2016. How might the world be today had Bobby Kennedy lived? And who was behind his death? Paul Schrade, one of Paul Schrade and Robert Kennedyhis closest confidants, who was also shot that night, looks back. Schrade (with glasses) is shown with Kennedy in a file photo.

In commemoration of Bobby Kennedy’s assassination on this day nearly half a century ago, WhoWhatWhy offers a real treat to students of history. In an extensive podcast, Kennedy confidante Paul Schrade, who was also shot that fateful night, talks about his relationship to RFK and reveals insights never heard before.

The 91-year-old Schrade begins with a leisurely reminiscence on early labor and political days, of special interest to those with some background in those issues. Starting nine minutes in, he turns to the RFK assassination. After taking us through the events and the subsequent investigation, you can hear the pain and reluctance from Schrade when he talks about how Bobby might have changed the country, had he lived.

 

Hillary Clinton and Vladimir Putin (State Department Photo)

Hillary Clinton and Vladimir Putin (State Department Photo)

Consortium News, Did Clinton’s Emails Expose CIA Agents? Peter Van Buren, June 5, 2016. Even as Hillary Clinton closes in on the Democratic nomination, facts continue to emerge indicating that her sloppy email practices may have endangered secrets, including the identities of covert operatives, writes Peter Van Buren, who blew the whistle on State Department waste during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, "We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People."

These are facts. You can look at the source documents yourself. This is not opinion, conjecture, or rumor. Hillary Clinton transmitted the names of American intelligence officials via her unclassified email. From a series of Clinton emails, numerous names were redacted in the State Department releases with the classification code “B3 CIA PERS/ORG,” a highly specialized classification that means the information, if released, would violate the Central Intelligence Act of 1949 by exposing the names of CIA officials.

But don’t believe me. Instead, look at page two of this State Department document which lists the exemptions. Hillary’s emails contain at least three separate, specific instances where she mentioned in an unclassified email transmitted across the open Internet and wirelessly to her Blackberry the names of CIA personnel. Here they are. Look for the term “(b)(3) CIA PERS/ORG” Click on the links and see for yourself: CIA One; CIA Two; CIA Three. These redactions show complete contempt on Clinton’s part for the security process.

There is clear precedent for others going to jail for exposing CIA names. Read the story of John Kiriakou. A Personal Aside: I just remain incredulous about these revelations seeming to mean nothing to the world. They’re treated in the media as almost gossip.

ISIS members marching in Raqqa, January 2014January 2014 file photo shows ISIS warriors marching in Raqqa.

Los Angeles Times, Islamic State's Syrian capital becomes the prize in an international fight for legitimacy, Nabih Bulos, June 5, 2016. When it was first overrun by the rebels in 2013, the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa became the symbol of the revolution against the rule of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Nine months later, it emerged as the de-facto capital of Islamic State, the springboard from which the group would launch its self-proclaimed caliphate.

Now it has become the central prize in a race between the Russian-backed Syrian government and a U.S.-supported Syrian Kurdish-dominated militia known as the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF). Both sides – with the support of their international backers in the U.S. and Russia -- are vying for the legitimacy that comes with destroying Islamic State.

For the SDF, it could make Raqqa another addition to its presumptive Kurdish state on Syrian soil. A Syrian army victory, on the other hand, would force Western powers to rethink the pariah status of Syrian President Bashar Assad's government. The two Raqqa offensives, running in parallel and backed by competing international players, represent the often contradictory intersections of loyalties that have arisen during the five-year Syrian crisis, which has ravaged the country, killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions.

Reuters, Syrian and Russian aircraft step up bombing of Aleppo city: monitor, Suleiman Al-Khalidi, June 4, 2016. Nearly 50 air strikes hit rebel-held areas in and around the Syrian city of Aleppo on Sunday in some of the heaviest recent raids by Russian and Syrian government aircraft, residents and a monitoring group said.

Washington Post, Waiting for next president, confirmations of federal trial judges stall, Spencer S. Hsu, June 5, 2016. An election-year spike in bench vacancies leads to heavy caseloads.

June 4

Washington Post, Ali, boxing champ embraced as a global icon, dies at 74, Matt Schudel and Bart Barnes, June 4, 2016. He shocked the world with his skills as a boxer, but gave up his first title to protest the Vietnam War and eventually became an international symbol of brotherhood.

Muhammad Ali Don't Count the Days

PaulCraigRoberts.org, Muhammad Ali, R.I.P., Paul Craig Roberts, June 4, 2016. “The service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.”  Cassius Clay, aka Muhammad Ali, died today. He was a champion boxer and a brave man. He refused conscription into the Vietnam War, was framed up on false draft evasion charges and stripped of his world heavyweight boxing championship.

In 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his false conviction.

Stripped of four years of athletic prime by a corrupt U.S. government, Ali returned to the ring and re-won the championship. He won the championship three times and is considered the best boxer of all time, even eclipsing Joe Lewis.

         

CBS News via YouTube, Muhammad Ali saves man from suicide jump, Walter Cronkite with Terry Drinkwater reporting, Jan. 20, 1981.

Muhammad Ali, Thomas Hauser, Bill Clinton, Nancy 1996

In 1996, Muhammad Ali refused to participate in a White House ceremony with President Bill Clinton unless boxing writer Thomas Hauser and his date, above left, were restored from unfair removal  at the last minute from the guest list

Seconds Out Boxing News, "Did Barbra Streisand Whup Sonny Liston?" Thomas Hauser, June 4, 2016. Late last year, the Secret Service was embarrassed by the revelation that an uninvited couple had worked their way past security checkpoints and been photographed with Barack Obama at a White House state dinner honoring the Prime Minister of India.

Been there, done that. Sort of. This article is excerpted from "Muhammad Ali: In Perspective" by Thomas Hauser. His most recent book ("An Unforgiving Sport") was published by the University of Arkansas Press.

George Foreman(via Twitter)Washington Post, George Foreman on Ali’s death: ‘Part of me just passed with him,’ Gabe Hiatt, June 4, 2016. One of Muhammad Ali’s most memorable victories came at the expense of Foreman (shown on his Twitter feed @GeorgeForeman), but the “Rumble in the Jungle” rivals later became good friends.

Mark Berman, Fox 26 sports editor, writes.

As far as George Foreman is concerned, Muhammad Ali may have passed but his spirit will live forever: "Believe me, he didn't die. He's still alive. Because whenever someone tries to make a stand about anything, stand up for somthing they believe in, it's like we'll all be saying, 'Another Muhammad Ali.' He's alive forever."

AFP via Daily Mail (London), Syria army pushes into IS bastion as Kurds advance from north, Wire report, June 4, 2016. Russian-backed Syrian troops pushed into the Islamic State group's bastion province Raqa Saturday, threatening to catch the jihadists in a pincer movement as US-backed Kurdish-led fighters advance from the north.

The lightning advance from the southwest with Russian air support brought the army to within 40 kilometres (25 miles) of the Euphrates Valley town of Tabqa, site of the country's biggest dam, the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights said. The dam, 40 kilometres (25 miles) upstream from the jihadists' de facto Syrian capital Raqa city, is also the target of the Washington-backed offensive which Kurdish-led fighters launched late last month.

Recep ErdoganSouthFront, The Recognition of the Armenian Genocide was a Heavy German Slap in the Face for Erdogan, translated by Valentina Tzoneva from Memoriabg, June 4, 2016. The German Bundestag approved a resolution for the recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire in 1915.

Flag of TurkeyIn the last few months, the political authorities of Turkey, headed by the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (shown above in a file photo), repeatedly announced that the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Germany will seriously affect the relations between the two countries. A few days before the voting, in connection with plans for voting for the resolution by the Senators, the Bundestag began to receive threats and insults and in the eve of the discussion of the documents, the Turks living in Berlin joined in a packed demonstration outside the walls of the Bundestag appealing to the Parliament to vote against it.

German FlagThe recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Germany (whose flag is shown at left), is in a way, an answer from the side of Berlin to Ankara for the problems with the immigrants created by Erdogan, according to the President of the Institute for the Middle East, Evgeniy Satanovski. “The Germans decided to give not direct, but indirect answers. In this case, justice manifests not because of the reason for which it must manifest itself, but because of the Turkish-German political speculations,” said Satanovski in an interview for Rusarminfo.

The expert thinks that Erdogan’s threats fuled the Senators’ eagerness to vote ‘yes.’

“Erdogan received a heavy slap in the face, he lost. He was trying to frighten Germany, particularly Merkel, but the Germans do not like to be blackmailed,” stated Satanovski. Regardless of the goals of the Bundestag, its decision will strongly cool off relations between Ankara and Berlin, and it will close even the theoretical possibility for Turkey’s membership in the EU, thinks the expert.

Reuters via Huffington Post, Nigeria Says It Has Recovered $9.1 Billion In Stolen Money And Assets, Staff report, June 4, 2016. President Muhammadu Buhari, elected last year largely on his vow to fight corruption, has vowed to recover “mind-boggling” sums of money stolen from the oil sector. Nigeria’s government has recovered $9.1 billion in stolen money and assets, its information and culture minister said on Saturday, as its corruption crackdown continues against the backdrop of the country’s worst economic crisis in years.

President Muhammadu Buhari, elected last year largely on his vow to fight corruption, has vowed to recover “mind-boggling” sums of money stolen from the oil sector and said public coffers were “virtually empty” when he took office last May.

June 3

Washington Post, Chaos unleashed in San Jose as protesters attack Trump supporters, Sean Sullivan and Michael E. Miller, Protesters jumped on cars, pelted Trump supporters with eggs and water balloons, snatched signs, and stole “Make America Great” hats off people's heads before burning them and snapping selfies with the charred remains.

White House, President Obama Has Now Commuted the Sentences of 348 Individuals, Neil Eggleston, June 3, 2016. Underscoring his commitment to reforming our criminal justice system, the President has commuted the sentences of more individuals than the past 7 presidents combined.

Washington Post, Will eight justices become the new normal? Laurence H. Tribe and Joshua Matz, June 3, 2016. Long after the current Supreme Court vacancy is filled, eight-member courts may occur with depressing regularity. To many exhausted or dismayed by the court’s recent pyrotechnics — which include landmark rulings on gun rights, campaign finance, same-sex marriage, health care and racial equality — the notion of a lower-profile court is appealing. Of course, this spell of judicial restraint may be extinguished when a ninth justice is confirmed. But that has not stopped those who prefer a chastened judiciary from declaring eight-justice courts a boon to democracy or, at very least, a trivial issue. Their view misses crucial aspects of the court’s role.

American Conservative, Anti-Trump Mob Runs Amok, Rod Dreher, June 3, 2016. This infuriates me. Here, on the LA Times site, is footage of Donald Trump supporters being beaten up in San Jose outside the rally. In America. Peaceful supporters of a presidential candidate cannot go to hear him speak without mobs attacking them.

Here are a few tweets from reporters on the scene to give a sense of what’s happening there: https://twitter.com/marcusdipaola.

 

New York Times, Trump Could Threaten U.S. Rule of Law, Scholars Say, A.J. Chavar and Adam Liptak, June 3, 2016. Donald J. Trump’s attacks on the press and the judicial system are evidence to some people of his bracing candor. But his comments also sketch out a worldview that many legal experts say is contemptuous of the First Amendment, the separation of powers and the rule of law.

Trump’s blustery attacks on the press, complaints about the judicial system and bold claims of presidential power collectively sketch out a constitutional worldview that shows contempt for the First Amendment, the separation of powers and the rule of law, legal experts across the political spectrum say. Even as much of the Republican political establishment lines up behind its presumptive nominee, many conservative and libertarian legal scholars warn that electing Mr. Trump is a recipe for a constitutional crisis.

“Who knows what Donald Trump with a pen and phone would do?” asked Ilya Shapiro, a lawyer with the libertarian Cato Institute. With five months to go before Election Day, Mr. Trump has already said he would “loosen” libel laws to make it easier to sue news organizations. He has threatened to sic federal regulators on his critics. He has encouraged rough treatment of demonstrators.

His proposal to bar Muslims from entry into the country tests the Constitution’s guarantees of religious freedom, due process and equal protection. And, in what was a tipping point for some, he attacked Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel of the Federal District Court in San Diego, who is overseeing two class actions against Trump University. David Post, a retired law professor who now writes for the Volokh Conspiracy, a conservative-leaning law blog, said those comments had crossed a line.

“This is how authoritarianism starts, with a president who does not respect the judiciary,” Mr. Post said. “You can criticize the judicial system, you can criticize individual cases, you can criticize individual judges. But the president has to be clear that the law is the law and that he enforces the law. That is his constitutional obligation.”

Republican National Convention logoWashington Post, Trump vows not to change — which means everyone else in politics has to, Karen Tumulty, June 3, 2016. If recent days are any indication, the remaining five months of the presidential campaign are likely to be fought on Donald Trump’s terms. His adversaries are now adopting his tactics, even as Trump himself is intensifying and broadening his attacks.

Gary Null Show, Guest Daniel (Danny) Sheehan (Part Three), Gary Null, June 3, 2016. Part Three of conversations on "Masters of Wealth" with public interest lawyer and author Daniel Sheehan, a constitutional and Daniel Sheehanpublic interest lawyer, public speaker and educator. In this Part Three, he describes the U.S. CIA-run Phoenix assassination and torture program in the Vietnam War and how it has provided a model for CIA-operated foreign affairs programs up to current times to overthrow governments deemed unworthy by major corporations whose interests he says the CIA serves.

Over the last forty-five years, Sheehan has participated in numerous legal cases of public interest, including the Pentagon Papers Case, the Watergate Break-In Case, the Silkwood Case, the Iran-Contra Scandal and others. He established the Christic Institute and the Romero Institute, two non-profit public policy centers. Sheehan published The People's Advocate, a memoir, in 2013 through Counterpoint publishing. 

Series: Part OnePart Two; Part Three; and Part Four.

Paul CraigRoberts.org, America’s Greatest Threat Is Its Crazed “Leadership” And Its Brainwashed Population, Paul Craig Roberts (shown in file photo), June 3, 2016. Insouciant Americans do not even know what Paul Craig Robertsthey should be worried about. See:

"A Russian Warning," Dmitry Orlov, The Saker, Victor Katsap and Evgenia Gurevich, June 2, 2016. We, the undersigned, are Russians living and working in the USA. We have been watching with increasing anxiety as the current US and NATO policies have set us on an extremely dangerous collision course with the Russian Federation, as well as with China.

Many respected, patriotic Americans, such as Paul Craig Roberts, Stephen Cohen, Philip Giraldi, Ray McGovern and many others have been issuing warnings of a looming Third World War. But their voices have been all but lost among the din of a mass media that is full of deceptive and inaccurate stories that characterize the Russian economy as being in shambles and the Russian military as weak — all based on no evidence.

But we — knowing both Russian history and the current state of Russian society and the Russian military — cannot swallow these lies. We now feel that it is our duty, as Russians living in the US, to warn the American people that they are being lied to, and to tell them the truth. And the truth is simply this:
 
If there is going to be a war with Russia, then the United States will most certainly be destroyed, and most of us will end up dead.

 

South Front, International Military Review: Syria-Iraq, Staff report, June 3, 2016. After freeing 17 villages in East to Manbij, the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) took control of Al-Madasah from ISIS on June 1.

The operation’s goal is to cut the ISIS terrorist group off from an area the group uses to move weapons and fighters across the border. The territory between the towns of Manbij and Marea is a crucial issue in the fight against ISIS. If it’s captured, ISIS will be isolated from the Turkish border and the last funnel for foreign fighters will be cut off. This will also clear the way for an assault on the city of Raqqa, which is the ISIS self-proclaimed capital.

AP via Greenwich Time, Letter written by JFK to purported paramour is for sale, Mark Pratt, June 3, 2016. An intimate letter written by President John F. Kennedy to a purported paramour seeking to set up a liaison is one of several Kennedy-related items being sold at auction. The four-page letter to longtime Kennedy family friend Mary Pinchot Meyer, an artist and former wife of a CIA agent (shown in a 1942 Mary Pinchot Meyer 1942photo), is thought to have been written in October 1963, about a month before the president's assassination.

"Why don't you leave suburbia for once — come and see me — either here — or at the Cape next week or in Boston the 19th," the letter reads. "I know it is unwise, irrational, and that you may hate it — on the other hand you may not — and I will love it. You say that it is good for me not to get what I want. After all of these years — you should give me a more loving answer than that. Why don't you just say yes." 

It's signed simply "J."

"It's incredible to see the president writing something so personal," said Robert Livingston, the executive vice president of Boston-based RR Auction , which is handling the sale. "We've handled a lot of JFK letters here, and he was always very formal."

June 2

Washington Post, Clinton calls Trump’s ideas ‘dangerously incoherent, Anne Gearan, Abby Phillip and Karen Tumulty, June 3, 2016. In a speech on national security, Clinton signaled how she will use what backers think will be her best offensive weapon against Trump: His own tendency to speak and behave in a way that isn't presidential.

Washington Post, Homeless say booming cities have outlawed their right to sleep, beg and even sit, Justin Jouvenal, June 2, 2016. David Cross had been such a fixture at Five Points Park, a patch of green in the prospering heart of this city, that residents dubbed the homeless man “the mayor.” But that was before the city removed the park bench where he held court. Before a new panhandling ordinance made it illegal to ask for money in most places. Before he was given a written infraction for sleeping outside.

Cities have enacted a wave of crackdowns and new laws against panhandling, camping and other activities associated with homelessness. They say such efforts help preserve the renewed vitality, curbing crime, health problems and behaviors that bother residents and disrupt business. Between 2011 and 2014, the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty found that bans on sleeping in cars shot up 119 percent, citywide camping prohibitions jumped 60 percent, anti-loitering laws increased 35 percent and anti-begging laws increased 25 percent in a survey of 187 cities.

Huffington Post, Paul Ryan Endorses Donald Trump, Matt Fuller, June 2, 2016. So much for holding out on that. In an unceremonious op-ed in his local paper, Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.) ended his dithering on Paul Ryanthe presumptive GOP presidential nominee and said he would vote for Donald Trump in November. Ryan, who had been holding out on endorsing Trump, said the focus of his conversations with the real estate mogul were on the House’s policy agenda. “Through these conversations, I feel confident he would help us turn the ideas in this agenda into laws to help improve people’s lives,” Ryan writes, 666 words into an 806-word op-ed in the GazetteXtra. “That’s why I’ll be voting for him this fall.” Ryan says one person he knows won’t support his agenda is Hillary Clinton

Huffington Post, Republican Governor Refuses To Endorse Donald Trump, Staff report, June 2, 2016. “I’ve stayed out of the whole thing, and I’m going to continue to,” said Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder,
 Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder says he’s not planning to endorse Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump — and it doesn’t look he’ll change his mind anytime soon.

In a Wednesday interview with The Detroit News, the Republican governor said he has bigger issues to deal with, namely the ongoing water crisis in Flint, which left thousands without clean drinking water. “I’ve stayed out of the whole thing, and I’m going to continue to,” Snyder told The Detroit News Editorial Board. “I’ve got important things I want to work on in Michigan.”  While Snyder refused to endorse Trump, he didn’t say he wouldn’t vote for him. He added that his focus is on re-electing Republicans to the Michigan House of Representatives.

German FlagNew York Times, German Parliament Recognizes Armenian Genocide, Angering Turkey, Alison Smale and Melissa Eddy, June 2, 2016. The German Parliament overwhelmingly adopted a symbolic but fraught Flag of Turkeyresolution on Thursday declaring the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 a genocide, escalating tensions with Turkey at a diplomatically delicate juncture. The Turkish government angrily denounced the vote as “null and void,” and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called his ambassador in Germany back to Ankara for consultations.

Germany needs Turkey’s help in following through on a deal with the European Union to manage the refugee crisis attributed in large part to the Syrian civil war. At the same time, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has been under pressure not to be seen as caving to pressure from Ankara to compromise on Western values, particularly after a recent dust-up over freedom of speech set off by a German comedian’s satire that outraged Mr. Erdogan.

Reuters via Huffington Post, Germany Arrests Three Syrians Over Suspected ISIS Bomb Plot, Staff report, June 2, 2016. Three Syrian men with suspected links to Islamic State have been arrested in Germany on suspicion of planning an attack here, the federal public prosecutor said on Thursday. It said in a statement that 27-year-old Hamza C., 25-year-old Mahood B. and 31-year-old Abd Arahman A.K. had been arrested in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Brandenburg and Baden-Wuerttemberg. Their homes were being searched.

WhoWhatWhy, Keeping the Lid on Trade Deals: A “Transparent” Facade That Bolsters Secrecy, Cella Wexler, June 2, 2016. Celia Wexler was a public interest lobbyist for twenty years, serving first as vice president for advocacy for the good-government group, Common Cause, and then as Senior Washington Representative for the Union of Concerned Scientists. She now has returned to her first profession, journalism. Can one of the Administration’s top officials — the person who defends its trade secrets — also serve as its “Transparency Officer?” Openness advocates don’t think so.

June 1

Huffington Post, Monster Alligator In Florida Looks Like Something From ‘Jurassic Park,’  Ed Mazza, June 1, 2016. It was estimated to be about 15 feet long.

Daily Howler, Dilbert Knows Best: Details the methods of Donald J. Trump! Bob Somerby, June 1, 2016. At present, Candidate Trump is running against an opponent he persistently describes as "Crooked Hillary ClintonHillary." No major party nominee has ever adopted such simple-minded rhetoric as the rhetoric Trump employs when he throws darts in this manner. Its logic comes from the low-IQ world of professional wrestling, a world with which Candidate Trump has a long association. Trump will be the first major-party nominee who is a member of the WWE Hall of Fame.

According to the creator of Dilbert, this dumbing of the public discourse explains why Trump will win in November. Dilbert's creator is Scott Adams; he has a background in hypnosis, which can be a handy tool. According to the Washington Post's Michael Cavna, Adams thinks Trump will win for the following [six] reasons:

1. Trump knows people are basically irrational.
2. Knowing that people are irrational, Trump aims to appeal on an emotional level.

...

This process didn't start with Candidate Trump. We've discussed the decades-long growth of this process — of this intellectual culture — within the work of the professional guild and social club still described as "the mainstream press corps."

Increasingly, facts and logic have come to play almost no role in the work of the mainstream press. Essentially, that's the culture Adams describes as he analyzes the work of Candidate Trump.

Washington Post, Kenneth Starr resigns as chancellor at Baylor University, Nick Anderson, June 1, 2016. Kenneth Starr, demoted last week from his position as president of Baylor University, also will step down as chancellor of the Christian school in Texas, ESPN reported Wednesday.

Ken Starr Baylor UniversityThe revelation about Starr comes amid a leadership shakeup as Baylor confronts the fallout from a scathing report on its handling of sexual assault cases involving football players and others.

Starr told ESPN’s Joe Schad that he was resigning as chancellor effective immediately “as a matter of conscience.” Starr, in an excerpt from an on-camera interview posted on ESPN’s website, called for transparency at Baylor, saying that “as each day goes by that need becomes more and more pressing.”

Starr had led Baylor as president since 2010 and had held the title of chancellor since 2013. 

Starr, 69, a former federal appellate judge, is best known as the independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton’s affair with a White House intern. He issued a report on that probe that paved the way for the historic House vote in 1998 to impeach Clinton. The Senate later acquitted Clinton of charges of obstruction of justice and perjury.

TrineDay, New book claims link between the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy and the Nixon conspiracy to scuttle the Paris Peace Talks, Staff report, June 1, 2016. There is a link between the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy and the Nixon conspiracy to scuttle the Paris Peace Talks. The startling, explosive allegation is made by Miami based author Fernando Faura in his new book, The Polka Dot File on the Robert F. Kennedy Killing – The Paris Peace Talks Connection, to be published by TrineDay, June 6, 2016.

Fernando FauraThe Polka Dot File refers to the mystery woman in the polka-dot dress who ran out of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles claiming to have shot the senator, while the alleged assassin was being pummeled and captured in the kitchen. Faura, an award winning journalist, is credited with being the only newsman to chase the mystery woman even after the police denied her existence.

"I have always been fascinated by the story of John Fahey, who spent the day leading up to Bobby Kennedy's assassination with a mysterious woman whose group were “going to take care of Kennedy tonight.” Without the persistence and ingenuity of Fernando Faura, we wouldn't have that story."

"As the last remaining reporter on the scene who chased the polka-dot dress mystery, here he brings us with him, day by day, on his investigation. We're transported back in time to the aftermath of Kennedy's murder in June 1968, and given suppressed witness testimony and a tantalizing new lead that connects to one of the great political scandals of the Nixon presidency. A must-read for anyone interested in this case."

– Shane O’Sullivan, producer and director of RFK Must Die ( 2007) and author of Who Killed Bobby? The Unsolved Murder of Robert F. Kennedy (2008).

Florida Bulldog, 28 pages and 80,000 pages: The hunt for a Saudi support network for 9-11 hijackers, Dan Christensen, June 1, 2016. Lawyers for the Florida Bulldog have asked a federal judge to award substantial attorney fees for years of efforts to obtain secret reports about the FBI’s post-9/11 investigation of Saudis in Sarasota with apparent ties to the suicide hijackers.

The court papers filed Tuesday seek a court hearing and also show how the Fort Lauderdale Freedom of Information (FOI) case ties into a better-known push to declassify 28 pages that were cut out of a 2002 report by Congress’ Joint Inquiry into the terrorist attacks. Those censored pages involved “specific sources of foreign support” for the hijackers while they were in the U.S.

In the Fort Lauderdale case, a federal judge is reviewing for possible public release 80,000 classified pages about 9/11 located in the FBI’s Tampa field office. Judge William J. Zloch ordered the Bureau to produce those records for his private inspection two years ago.

“In essence, the 28 pages are expected to reveal what the Joint Inquiry discovered about Saudi government support of terrorism and the Sarasota documents are expected to reveal what the Joint Inquiry failed to discover about Saudi government support for terrorism,” wrote attorney Thomas Julin, of Miami’s Hunton & Williams.

“Together, both sets of documents may reflect whether a Saudi government network throughout the United States was used to support the terrorist attacks on 9/11. They also may help the American public to judge how the defendants [Department of Justice and the FBI] reacted to the terrorist attacks on the United States and whether additional steps should have been taken to prevent the attacks and to prosecute those who may have aided the attacks,” Julin’s motion said.

The Florida Bulldog’s parent, Broward Bulldog Inc., sued the FBI and the Justice Department in September 2012 after the FBI claimed to have no records about its Sarasota investigation. The Bulldog, working with Irish author Anthony Summers and his wife, Robbyn Swan, broke the story on Sept. 8, 2011 – nearly 10 years to the day after the terrorist attacks.