Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative May 2015 news and views
New York Times, American Psychological Association Bolstered C.I.A. Torture Program, Report Says, James Risen (shown in file photo), April 30, 2015. The American Psychological Association secretly collaborated with the administration of President George W. Bush to bolster a legal and ethical justification for the torture of prisoners swept up in the post-Sept. 11 war on terror, according to a new report by a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists. The report is the first to examine the association’s role in the interrogation program. It contends, using newly disclosed emails, that the group’s actions to keep psychologists involved in the interrogation program coincided closely with efforts by senior Bush administration officials to salvage the program after the public disclosure in 2004 of graphic photos of prisoner abuse by American military personnel at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The involvement of health professionals in the Bush-era interrogation program was significant because it enabled the Justice Department to argue in secret opinions that the program was legal and did not constitute torture, since the interrogations were being monitored by health professionals to make sure they were safe.
New York Times, New Owner for The Moscow Times and Vedomosti, Andrew Roth, April 30, 2015. A Finnish media company on Thursday said it would sell its one-third stake in Vedomosti, Russia’s most influential business newspaper, as well as ownership of the Moscow Times, the country’s only English-language daily, to a Russian buyer. The deal, announced Thursday by the Finnish company, Sanoma, is the first in what is expected to be a wave of sales or restructurings in the Russian news media as foreign companies adjust their Russian assets under a new law that limits them to a 20 percent stake. Lawmakers adopted the legislation last year, saying it was needed to ensure Russia’s national security. Vedomosti, which regularly publishes investigations and opinion pieces critical of the government, has been a focus of official ire. Both Pearson, publisher of the Financial Times, and News Corp., which owns Dow Jones, also own 33-percent stakes in the newspaper, which by law they will be required to reduce by 2016.
CNN, Ted Cruz on Mitt Romney: 'Where he got clobbered was 47%,' Adam Levy, April 30, 2015. Already creating distance from the last nominee of his party, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz took aim at Mitt Romney's infamous "47%" remark that created a firestorm of controversy during the 2012 campaign. Speaking about the Latino vote and the economy to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Texas senator bluntly critiqued on Wednesday Romney's personal assessment that as a candidate he didn't need to worry about that part of the vote because they were government-dependent and would reelect the president in 2012. "Where he got clobbered was 47%," he said. "I think Romney is a good man who had a hard campaign, but I cannot think of a statement in all of politics that I disagree with more strongly." Cruz, who entered the 2016 campaign last month and often criticizes his party's former nominees, suggested the exact opposite as his party looks to regain the White House. "I think Republicans are and should be the party of the 47%," said Cruz, shown in a CNN photo.
Der Spiegel, Take Two: A New Hillary for a Fresh White House Bid, Markus Feldenkirchen and Holger Stark, April 30, 2015. Hillary Clinton wants to do almost everything differently in her second run for the presidency. She's showing a more modest, warm-hearted and female side than ever before, and many argue she would make a good president. Can she charm America?
Daily Howler, The Pseudojournalism Rules Part IV, Bob Somerby, April 30, 2015. What kind of journalism has the New York Times been performing? Let’s review its recent “bombshell report” about that scary Cold War deal: Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal, Jo Becker, and Mike McIntire, April 23, 2015. Back in 2010, the Obama administration did in fact reach a uranium deal with Vladimir Putin, a well-known evildoer. By insinuation, Hillary Clinton is the chief villain of the piece. By insinuation, she approved a scary uranium deal in return for big piles of cash. It would be hard to sustain that tale if readers were told, right up front, that the Times reporters don’t even know if Clinton took part in approving the deal at all. Or if readers were told that no one at any other agency thought it was a bad deal. If you read the Times’ lengthy report, you may find yourself asking questions.
Center for Public Integrity, 12 things to know about Bernie Sanders, Carrie Levine, April 30, 2015. Conventional wisdom says he’s a long shot, but Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., today will announce he’s running for president. Sanders, shown in a file photo and known as a populist liberal and a self-described socialist, will run as a Democrat. He’s hoping to raise $50 million for his bid, Bloomberg reports — almost certainly far less than Democratic rival Hillary Clinton is expecting to pull in. But it’s still sizable sum for a U.S. senator from a small state who has traditionally leaned heavily on small-dollar donors.
Saudi Arabia's recently installed king, Salman bin Abdul Aziz, is shown in a 2013 file photo.
Huffington Post, With Saudi Arabia Faltering in Yemen, Power in the Region Has Begun To Swing East, Alastair Crooke, April 29, 2015. Saudi Arabia has announced the end to its campaign in Yemen, but nevertheless air attacks against Ansar Allah and former President Saleh-allied components of the Yemeni army still continue -- albeit on a lesser scale. A Saudi newspaper (without any trace of irony) has announced "mission accomplished." So what is afoot, here? We do not know the full story, but already it is plain that a major diplomatic effort has induced Saudi Arabia to cut its immediate losses in Yemen. These immediate losses include the images of civilian bomb casualties widely broadcast in the region and the erosion of any residual support for former President Hadi in Yemen, the failure to put together the much-touted Sunni intervention force and the glaring evidence that while Saudi Arabia may have had an objective (restoration to power of the former President), it had no plan for accomplishing it. As a consequence, Saudi Arabia has found itself isolated. While Iran, Oman and Russia have been busy working on a political initiative (while also seeking to restrain Ansar Allah on the ground), the U.S. has been quietly discouraging the Saudis from continuing the Saudi aerial campaign. The campaign has had little impact on the Ansar Allah-Saleh military effectiveness but has made life hell for most urban Yemenis, with estimates of 1,000+ dead and thousands more injured.
Huffington Post, Hillary Clinton: 'There Is Something Profoundly Wrong' In Our Criminal Justice System, Amanda Terkel, April 29, 2015. Hillary Clinton on Wednesday used her first major policy speech as a 2016 presidential candidate to draw attention to the death of Baltimore's Freddie Gray, saying it was part of an "undeniable" pattern in which black men in America are disproportionately targeted by the criminal justice system. "What we have seen in Baltimore should -- indeed, I think does -- tear at our soul," said Clinton in her keynote address at the 18th annual David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum at Columbia University.
National Press Club, Grassley defends delay in confirming new attorney general at April 27 Newsmaker, Robert Weiner and Autumn Kelly, April 29, 2015. In a wide-reaching discussion at a Newsmaker April 27, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), shown in a file photo, defended the months-long wait to confirm Loretta Lynch as attorney general at an April 27 Club Newsmaker. When asked if he intended to fix the Voting Rights Act now that the Supreme Court, on a 5-4 vote, removed a key provision that had garnered overwhelming support in both houses of Congress he responded, “If you want to fix more minorities voting, more minorities are already voting." Grassley said the committee would not confirm any judges nominated by President Obama starting in July 2016 or when the Senate returned from its August recess.
Global Research, Political Assassinations in Ukraine, People’s Deputy of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, April 29, 2015. Translated by Alya & Alan Bailey / Edited by Olga Luzanova. I, Elena Bondarenko, a deputy of the Party of the Regions, which is in opposition to the governing party in Ukraine, would like to make a statement about the fact that the government is directly threatening with assault opposition politicians, depriving them of freedom of speech in the parliament and in other places, as well as conniving in the crimes against opposition leaders and their children. Persistent threats, an undeclared ban on opposition parties appearing in the majority of Ukrainian mass media, purposeful baiting—these are everyday things in the life of the opposition in Ukraine. Everybody who calls for peace in Ukraine immediately becomes an enemy to the regime as it was, for instance, in 30-40’s Germany or in the USA during the McCarthyite era.
OpEdNews, 20 Iconic Baltimore Riots Protest Signs, Images and Tweets, Rob Kall, April 28, 2015. The violence and destruction is tragic, after a tragic murder. Here are some signs and comments that add some perspective. Shown from the OEN collage is an image tweeted by Twitter User Tay Macxox.
Counterpunch, The Kingpin Strategy, Assassination as Policy in Washington and How It Failed: 1990-2015, Alexander Cockburn, April 28, 2015. As the war on terror nears its 14th anniversary — a war we seem to be losing, given jihadist advances in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen — the U.S. sticks stolidly to its strategy of “high-value targeting,” our preferred euphemism for assassination. Secretary of State John Kerry has proudly cited the elimination of “fifty percent” of the Islamic State’s “top commanders” as a recent indication of progress. Whatever the euphemism — the Israelis prefer to call it “focused prevention” — assassination has clearly been Washington’s favored strategy in the twenty-first century. Methods of implementation, including drones, cruise missiles, and Special Operations forces hunter-killer teams, may vary, but the core notion that the path to success lies in directly attacking and taking out your enemy’s leadership has become deeply embedded.
Daily Howler, The PseudoJournalism Rules, Right on time in paragraph 5! Bob Somerby, April, 28, 2015. Did the New York Times publish a “bombshell report” about the ethics of Candidate Clinton? Regarding that question, we’d have to say that Howard Dean called his shot. Dean discussed the alleged “bombshell report” on last Thursday’s Morning Joe. As usual, they were playing by the rules of modern pseudo-journalism. Until Dean piped up with his unusual warning....
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Why don’t you read the story before accusing the New York Times of being sloppy?
HOWARD DEAN: Because in general, the New York Times has been sloppy, particularly their political writers. I use the New York Times as an example in journalism classes, because by the fifth paragraph in any political story—we can probably find one right here, whatever the political story on the front page is. By the fifth paragraph, they’re substituting their judgment for news.
Zero Hedge, Who Is Really Choosing America's Next President? Tyler Durden, April 27, 2015. A growing number of political committees known as super PACs have become instruments of single donors, according to a ProPublica analysis of federal records. During the 2014 election cycle, $113 million – 16 percent of money raised by all super PACs – went to committees dominated by one donor. That was quadruple their 2012 share. The rise of single-donor groups is a new example of how changes in campaign finance law are giving outsized influence to a handful of funders.
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan travel by motorcade en route to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., April 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
WhoWhatWhy, Out-of-Control FBI to Former Head of 9/11 Investigation: Butt out! Russ Baker, April 27, 2015. A top FBI official brazenly warned off the former chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence because of his persistence in pursuing connections between the Saudi royal family and the 9/11 attacks. In a recent interview with WhoWhatWhy, Bob Graham, the former head of the Senate committee, co-chair of a congressional investigation of 9/11, and two-term governor of Florida, described a remarkable interaction with a “very senior” FBI official around the time of the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Two journalists for an online investigative journal had just revealed a long-suppressed federal investigation of a Saudi family, living in a gated community in Sarasota, Florida, who had fled in great haste just before the 9/11 attacks, leaving their possessions behind. Solid evidence, including leads developed by WhoWhatWhy, established ties between that Saudi family, two of the hijackers, and a powerful Saudi prince whose father has since become the king of Saudi Arabia. (For information on close historical ties between the family of George W. Bush, who was president at the time of the attacks, and the Saudi royal family, see my book Family of Secrets.)
Graham immediately took interest in the Sarasota angle, in part because his own congressional investigation had found other important Saudi links to 9/11. Information about those links remains unknown to the public, because 28 pages of his report were redacted by the Bush administration. Since then, Graham has been actively campaigning to get the Obama administration to order those pages declassified.
Why won’t the Obama administration declassify the pages of Graham’s investigation?
Back in 2011, when Graham began making public statements about the Sarasota Connection, he got the FBI’s quick attention. What happened next was the subject of a brief New York Times article that appeared earlier this month. But the story of Graham’s encounter with the FBI is so extraordinary that we thought it deserved more scrutiny, so we asked Graham to elaborate on it for WhoWhatWhy.
BG: I have a daughter who lives in Great Falls, Virginia, and my wife and I had flown up to Dulles to be with her for Thanksgiving. And as we got off the plane, a couple of FBI people met us, said they would like us to attend a meeting. So we went. The FBI has an office at Dulles, and there were two FBI people and an attorney from the Department of Justice. And basically, we spent an hour—with them trying to convince me to forget this, that it was a dead end, that all that was needed to be learned about it had already been learned. The phrase ‘get a life’ was sort of my summary of that conversation.
RB: Then it’s even a better story than the way Carl [Hulse of the Times] wrote it up.
BG: Yeah. And then, I had been able to read a couple of files of materials on Sarasota, and I pointed out where their public statement was not consistent with what was in their own classified files. And the FBI officer said: “Well, that was a matter of context, that there was other information which refuted the statements which were contained in the investigative officer’s report.”
So I said, “Well, can I see what that other information is?” And he said “yes” and we set a date for the week after Thanksgiving.
And when I went to the FBI office at the scheduled time, that same agent who [was at the meeting at Dulles] was there and he said: “Your meeting here has been canceled, is not going to be rescheduled, and incidentally, I know you’ve been trying to contact the agent who wrote the report, and I have told him not to talk with you.”
And that was the last time I met with a high-ranking FBI official.
New York Times, Deep Support in Washington for CIA's Drone Missions, Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo, April 25, 2015. About once a month, staff members of the congressional intelligence committees drive across the Potomac River to C.I.A. headquarters in Langley, Va., and watch videos of people being blown up. As part of the macabre ritual the staff members look at the footage of drone strikes in Pakistan and other countries and a sampling of the intelligence buttressing each strike, but not the internal C.I.A. cables discussing the attacks and their aftermath. The screenings have provided a veneer of congressional oversight and have led lawmakers to claim that the targeted killing program is subject to rigorous review, to defend it vigorously in public and to authorize its sizable budget each year.
That unwavering support from Capitol Hill is but one reason the C.I.A.’s killing missions are embedded in American warfare and unlikely to change significantly despite President Obama’s announcement on Thursday that a drone strike accidentally killed two innocent hostages, an American and an Italian. The program is under fire like never before, but the White House continues to champion it, and C.I.A. officers who built the program more than a decade ago — some of whom also led the C.I.A. detention program that used torture in secret prisons — have ascended to the agency’s powerful senior ranks. Although lawmakers insist that there is great accountability to the program, interviews with administration and congressional officials show that Congress holds the program to less careful scrutiny than many members assert.
New York Times, Japan’s Bid To Stifle Media Is Working, Martin Fackler, April 26, 2015. An unexpected act of protest shook Japan’s carefully managed media world: Shigeaki Koga, a regular television commentator and fierce critic of the political establishment, abruptly departed from the scripted conversation during a live TV news program to announce that this would be his last day on the show because, as he put it, network executives had succumbed to political pressure for his removal. “I have suffered intense bashing by the prime minister’s office,” Mr. Koga told his visibly flabbergasted host late last month, saying he had been removed as commentator because of critical statements he had made about Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Scholars describe a mood of fear spreading beyond the news media into the broader society, including in education where the Abe government is pressing textbook publishers to adhere more closely to the official line on topics like the 1937 Nanjing massacre and the use of so-called comfort women in wartime military brothels. “These unprecedented attacks on The Asahi and other media are creating a closed conformity in which the whole society is becoming afraid to say something different,” said Tatsuro Hanada, a professor of media studies at Waseda University in Tokyo.
On the Lighter Side
Editor's Note: The White House Correspondents Association Annual Dinner, the capital's main public schmooze-fest, was performed at the Washington Hilton Hotel the evening of Saturday, April 26, 2015.
President Obama, aided by deft delivery and a team of clever writers, gave a commanding and well-received performance, as did the journalist speakers. Far from undermining the themes of Presidential Puppetry and similar commentaries, review of the stagecraft shows the talent of the players who rise to the top and their mutual interests.
Virtually unmentioned, however, was the administration's unprecedented campaign to imprison news sources on spy charges. Seven different Obama Justice Department investigations of news organizations have sent a strong message to their government sources not to risk talking to reporters on what might be deemed sensitive matters, even if unclassified at the time. Although no reporters from major news organizations have yet been imprisoned (doubtless due to the bad public relations image that would have been created) the government's heavy hand has had the effect of intimidating or otherwise thwarting many journalists from undertaking serious reporting on sensitive areas of government.
In personal terms, the implicit cozy relationships are illustrated by, among many others, the Rhodes brothers, David and Ben. David Rhodes is president of CBS News. His brother Ben is deputy national security advisor for Obama, and one of the president's main speechwriters and strategic advisors. There are many other asuch accepted relationships in Washington extending back decades.
In financial terms, the capital's leading news organization, the Washington Post, has an increasingly public and dubious relationship with the CIA and other power centers, in part via Amazon.com. Founded by Post owner Jeffrey Bezos, Amazon.com secured a $600 million contract in late 2013 from the CIA to handle the agency's advanced "cloud" computing needs, as reported in the Post and analyzed in Presidential Puppetry. Those services have expanded under the Obama administration to an unknown number of other federal agencies under Bezos, as reported by the Post itself in The rise of Amazon Web Services. On the few occasions when those involved grant comment they have said the financial relationship do not create unwarranted pressure, explicit or otherwise because Amazon.com is a separate company from the Post. Also, to be sure, the Post has won prizes, most recently in 2015, for reporting on government agencies. Those explanations serve the purposes of most of those involved but do not match common sense, much less scrutiny.
That said, there should always be room for comedy, which from the court jesters in the Middle Ages to the present is often the public's best window to the world.
Washington Post, At correspondents' dinner, Obama jabs at media, candidates and himself, Paul Farhi, April 26, 2015. The annual celebrity-politico meet-up drew the powerful, the famous and the just plain well-connected.
- Washington Post, The funniest lines in President Obama’s White House correspondents’ dinner speech, Emily Yahr, April 25, 2015.
- C-SPAN, 2015 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, Staff report, April 25, 2015. Journalists, politicians, and celebrities gathered for the White House Correspondents' Association Annual Dinner. President Obama and comedian Cecily Strong made humorous remarks about politics and the media.
Washington Post, Is anyone afraid of Jeb Bush? Dan Balz, April 25, 2015. Jeb Bush jolted his prospective rivals for the Republican presidential nomination last winter when he dived with unexpected aggressiveness into the 2016 campaign. Few of them seem to be quaking now. The former Florida governor is still the biggest name in the GOP field, with a fundraising network unmatched by any of the others. But Bush’s considerable assets so far have done little to reshape the early polls or keep others out of the race. If anything, it’s the opposite. Editor's note: As often in the case of the mainstream media, the real story is partly hidden by the expert reporter and apparent primarily in a few of the reader comments. In this case, the missing truth is that a field of many candidates greatly helps Jeb Bush at this stage by splitting the anti-Bush vote with the Republican primaries and caucuses.
Huffington Post, Elizabeth Warren Tells Obama To Put Up Or Shut Up On Trade, Zach Carter, April 25, 2016. Progressive Democrats have been hoping to see a showdown between Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton for years. Instead, they're getting a public feud between the senator from Massachusetts and President Barack Obama.
Obama accused Warren and congressional Democrats on Friday of being "dishonest" and spreading "misinformation" about the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- a trade pact the administration is negotiating among 12 nations. The overwhelming majority of Democrats in Congress oppose TPP, while Republican leaders support it. It was an unusually aggressive attack for the president -- accusing members of his own party not of having misplaced priorities, but of actively working to deceive the public. On Saturday, Warren and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) (shown in file photos) responded with a letter essentially telling Obama to put up or shut up. If the deal is so great, Warren and Brown wrote, the administration should make the full negotiation texts public before Congress votes on a "fast track" bill that would strip the legislative branch of its authority to amend it.
Washington Post, No, President Obama, Elizabeth Warren isn’t wrong, Dana Milbank, April 24, 2015. Obama told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Tuesday that the populist Democratic senator from Massachusetts is in error in opposing a free-trade agreement his administration has been negotiating with 11 other Pacific nations. Elizabeth Warren is right: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is an abomination because Obama had a chance to protect American workers from the harm that would inevitably come from such a pact, and he didn’t take it, or at least he hasn’t. As bad, Obama’s anointed successor, Hillary Clinton, waffled on the trade pact this week, offering only the banality that “any trade deal has to produce jobs and raise wages” — which, of course, they all claim to do.
New York Times, Putting an End to a Bad Comcast Merger, Editorial Board, April 24, 2015. Comcast’s decision to walk away from its $45 billion deal to acquire Time Warner Cable is good news for consumers. A merger of the nation’s two largest cable companies would have created a telecom giant with tremendous power as a gatekeeper to entertainment and the Internet. The company said on Friday that it would no longer pursue the merger after officials at the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and the Federal Communications Commission made clear that they would file legal challenges to the deal. The regulators made the right call. If it had acquired Time Warner Cable, Comcast would have controlled nearly 30 percent of the cable and satellite-TV market and about 57 percent of the broadband business, an accumulation of market power in telecommunications not unlike the old AT&T monopoly before its breakup in 1984.
Washington Post, Eric Holder's final day at the office, Staff report, April 24, 2015. During a farewell speech, Attorney General Eric Holder said he took pride in his efforts to empower the powerless and protect civil rights. Editor's Notes: For the Justice Integrity Project's perspective on Holder's six years at the top post, see Media Helped Eric Holder Polish His Image, Feb. 21, 2015. He is shown during his speech Feb. 17 at the National Press Club in a photo courtesy of Noel St. John. Holder's successor, Loretta Lynch, is shown in an official photo from her previous post as U.S. Attorney for the Brooklyn-based Eastern District of New York
Washington Post, Want to shoot machine guns with the Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden? That’ll be $50,000, please, Dan Lamothe, April 24, 2015. Robert O'Neill, the former Navy SEAL credited with killing al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, will appear at the conservative fundraiser in June.
Judicial Watch, Gangbanger Charged With Murder, Drug Crimes Gets Obama Amnesty, Staff report, April 24, 2015. In the latest scandal to rock President Obama’s controversial executive amnesty initiative, a known gang member charged with murder and drug-related crimes was shielded from deportation under the administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The illegal immigrant’s name is Emmanuel Jesus Rangel-Hernandez and he was in the process of being deported when U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) shielded him from removal under DACA, even though the agency knew he was a member of a violent street gang. USCIS was also aware that Rangel-Hernandez had been arrested in 2012 for possession of drugs but rubber-stamped his amnesty petition anyways last August. Earlier this year, months after our commander-in-chief granted him amnesty, the 19-year-old gangbanger was charged with four counts of first-degree murder in connection with a three-day shooting spree in Charlotte, North Carolina. One of the victims was a model who appeared in a popular reality television show, according to a local news report that confirms authorities knew Rangel-Hernandez was listed in a federal database as a gang member when they approved his amnesty. Americans would never know about this egregious case if it weren’t made public by a federal lawmaker who demanded answers from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Iowa Senator Charles Grassley (R), shown in a photo, chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and has long expressed concern about how individuals who are allowed to remain in the U.S. under Obama’s deferred action are vetted.
Judicial Watch, Exposes Clinton Cash Machine, Tom Fitton (shown in file photo), April 24, 2015. Judicial Watch's independent work resulted in exposé after exposé this week on how Hillary and Bill Clinton corrupted the State Department. How did this all begin? From one Judicial Watch lawsuit. Our dogged work forced the disclosure last year of documents that provided a road map for over 200 conflict-of-interest rulings that led to $48 million for the Clinton Foundation and other Clinton-connected entities during Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state. Previously disclosed documents in this lawsuit, for example, raise questions about funds Clinton accepted from entities linked to Saudi Arabia, China and Iran, among others.
New York Times, Clinton Rules, Paul Krugman, April 24, 2015. So there’s a lot of buzz about alleged scandals involving the Clinton Foundation. Maybe there’s something to it. But you have to wonder: is this just the return of “Clinton rules”? If you are old enough to remember the 1990s, you remember the endless parade of alleged scandals, Whitewater above all — all of them fomented by right-wing operatives, all eagerly hyped by mainstream news outlets, none of which actually turned out to involve wrongdoing. The usual rules didn’t seem to apply; instead it was Clinton rules, under which innuendo and guilt by association were considered perfectly OK, in which the initial suggestion of lawbreaking received front-page headlines and the subsequent discovery that there was nothing there was buried in the back pages if it was reported at all. Some of the same phenomenon resurfaced during the 2008 primary. So, is this time different? First indications are not encouraging; it’s already apparent that the author of the anti-Clinton book that’s driving the latest stuff is a real piece of work.
Huffington Post, Obama Fires Back At Elizabeth Warren And Trade Critics, Escalating Democratic Feud, Zack Carter, April 24, 2015. President Barack Obama pushed back against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Democratic critics of his trade agenda on Friday, accusing them of spreading "misinformation that stirs up the base but ultimately doesn't serve them." Obama surprised reporters by appearing on a conference call with Labor Secretary Thomas Perez in effort to rebut criticisms from Warren and other key Democrats, who worry that his pending Trans-Pacific Partnership deal will exacerbate income inequality and undermine key regulations. While Obama did not mention Warren by name, much of his commentary appeared to be directed at her.
Washington Post, U.S. government’s refusal to discuss drone attacks comes under fire, Greg Miller and Julie Tate, April 24, 2015. Critics want information on all drone strikes for which strong evidence exists that civilians were killed. That policy of silence is under renewed pressure after President Obama’s extraordinary admission Thursday that the United States had accidentally killed two Western hostages, including a U.S. citizen, in a January counter-terrorism strike on a gathering of suspected al-Qaeda militants in Pakistan. The U.S. government has never publicly disclosed its own count of the number of deaths attributable to drone operations outside the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 14 years. But U.S. officials involved in the operations have often claimed that civilians account for only 1 or 2 percent of those killed. That ratio is generally at odds with the estimates of independent organizations. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, for example, has documented 415 strikes in Pakistan and Yemen since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The organization’s most recent estimates put the total number killed between 2,449 and 3,949. Of those, between 423 and 962 are believed to have been civilians.
Washington Post, The rise of Amazon Web Services, Amrita Jayakumar, April 24, 2015. Fast-growing cloud unit releases numbers, and says Washington has always been part of the plan. Nearly a decade after it started as an internal project for a group of engineers, Amazon.com’s cloud services unit has turned into the online retailer’s fastest-growing business. The company gave a rare glimpse into the growth of Amazon Web Services on Thursday, saying that during the first quarter, it had reached $1.57 billion in revenue, up nearly 50 percent from the same period last year. It had operating income of $265 million, up from $245 million last year. It was the first time Amazon has released such details about what many investors consider the most lucrative part of the retailing giant. “Amazon Web Services is a $5 billion business and still growing fast — in fact it’s accelerating,” Jeffrey P. Bezos, Amazon’s founder, said in a statement. (Bezos also owns The Washington Post.)
New York Times, NBC Inquiry of Brian Williams Said to Expand, Ravi Somaiya, April 24, 2015. An internal inquiry is examining a half-dozen instances in which Mr. Williams is thought to have embellished his accounts, including statements he made about events in Cairo.
Washington Post, Baltimore police admit missteps in Gray arrest, Peter Hermann and Ovetta Wiggins, April 24, 2015. Officials said the 25-year-old was not seatbelted in the back of the van, even after he was handcuffed and put in leg irons — a violation of department policy — and he was not offered medical attention despite several pleas for help.
Legal Schnauzer, Legal Schnauzer initiates the battle to vacate $3.5-million default judgment in Jessica Garrison lawsuit, Roger Shuler, April 24, 2015. A motion to vacate a $3.5-million default judgment was filed on my behalf yesterday in the defamation lawsuit of Alabama GOP operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison, former campaign manager for Attorney General Luther Strange.
New York Times, Bush Is Running (Away From Carbs), Michael Barbaro, April 24, 2015. Jeb Bush, 62, a possible Republican presidential candidate, has adopted a drastic program that is melting away pounds. Bush has lost about 30 pounds since December, friends and observers say.
Washington Post, Attorneys ask judge to consider Petraeus in sentencing ex-CIA officer Sterling, Matt Zapotosky, April 24, 2015. Defense attorneys for the former CIA officer convicted of giving classified information to a New York Times reporter urged a federal judge on Friday to sentence their client in line with the terms faced by other so-called leakers — noting that not 24 hours prior, a retired general and ex-CIA director was given mere probation in a similar case. Defense attorneys for Jeffrey Sterling did not endorse a specific penalty, but they urged U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema to consider the impact of the case and be fair. The defense attorneys argued that in three other recent leak cases, those convicted received — at the most — 30 months in prison. On Thursday, retired general and former CIA chief David Petraeus was sentenced to two years of probation and a $100,000 fine. “In meting out justice,” defense attorneys wrote, “the Court cannot turn a blind eye to the positions the Government has taken in similar cases.” Sterling, 47, was convicted in January of nine criminal counts after jurors determined unanimously that he gave classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen about a sensitive operation to put faulty nuclear plans in the hands of Iranian officials. Federal prosecutors this week urged a judge to impose a “severe” sentence and said they felt the U.S. probation office had correctly calculated the range in the federal sentencing guidelines as 19 years 7 months on the low end and 24 years 5 months on the high end. Such a sentence would have few parallels: The closest might be the 35-year prison term imposed by a military judge on Chelsea Manning, who leaked the largest volume of classified documents in U.S. history. And Sterling’s defense attorneys argued that a prison term within the guidelines would be “plainly excessive,” essentially penalizing Sterling for not taking a plea deal.
Al.com, Blogger Roger Shuler fighting $3.5 million judgment, Kent Faulk, April 24, 2016. Roger Shuler, an Alabama blogger who spent five months in jail before agreeing to remove stories from his website about the son of a former governor, has asked a judge to toss out a recent $3.5 million judgment against him in another case. Shuler, who operates the website Legal Schnauzer, on Thursday afternoon, filed a motion through his attorney asking Jefferson County Circuit Judge Donald Blankenship to vacate his April 13 default judgment against Shuler for $1.5 million in compensatory and $2 million in punitive damages.
Shuler also asks the judge to grant him leave to file an amended answer and counterclaim, and enter a new scheduling order sufficient to allow time for discovery in the case. Blankenship had entered the default judgment against Shuler in a 2013 defamation lawsuit brought by Jessica Garrison, a Birmingham lawyer and former campaign manager for Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange.
Washington Post, Petraeus pleads guilty to mishandling classified material, will face probation, Adam Goldman, April 23, 2014. The former CIA chief won’t face prison time for providing information to his former mistress. David H. Petraeus, a retired general considered one of the greatest military minds of his generation, pleaded guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified materials, ending a long-running legal saga that had threatened to send him to prison. Petraeus, who admitted he provided the materials to his former mistress and biographer, will instead face a two-year probationary period. U.S. Magistrate Judge David Keesler also imposed a $100,000 fine — more than double the amount recommended by prosecutors — to reflect the “seriousness of the offense.” [The biographer Paula Broadwell, is shown in adjoining file photos, including one with Petraeus on one with her book, All In.] Before the sentencing, Keesler asked Petraeus whether he wanted to address the court. The former CIA director apologized to “those closest to me and others, including this court, for the pain my actions have caused.” See also, New York Times, Prosecutors Said To Recommend Charges Against Former Gen. David Petraeus, Michael S. Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo, Jan. 9, 2015.
New York Times, Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal, Jo Becker and Mike McIntire, April 23, 2015. As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well. And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock. At the time, both Rosatom and the United States government made promises intended to ease concerns about ceding control of the company’s assets to the Russians. Those promises have been repeatedly broken, records show.
The New York Times’s examination of the Uranium One deal is based on dozens of interviews, as well as a review of public records and securities filings in Canada, Russia and the United States. Some of the connections between Uranium One and the Clinton Foundation were unearthed by Peter Schweizer, a former fellow at the right-leaning Hoover Institution and author of the forthcoming book Clinton Cash. Mr. Schweizer provided a preview of material in the book to The Times, which scrutinized his information and built upon it with its own reporting.
Whether the donations played any role in the approval of the uranium deal is unknown. But the episode underscores the special ethical challenges presented by the Clinton Foundation, headed by a former president who relied heavily on foreign cash to accumulate $250 million in assets even as his wife helped steer American foreign policy as secretary of state, presiding over decisions with the potential to benefit the foundation’s donors.
Washington Post, Raised on Calif. farm, American killed in strike became a face of violent jihad, Missy Ryan and Julie Tate, April 23, 2015. Adam Gadahn, an American member of al-Qaeda who was also known as "Azzam the American," was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan earlier this year, the White House said Thursday. Before he was killed in a drone strike, the American jihadist who became a public face for al-Qaeda and spoke of his love for slitting infidels’ throats grew up on a farm in California, where his bohemian parents raised goats and home-schooled their young family. On Thursday, U.S. officials said that Adam Gadahn, 36, was killed in January along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan in a CIA drone strike targeting a suspected gathering of al-Qaeda operatives. Another U.S. strike that same month killed American Ahmed Farouq, an al-Qaeda operative who was born in Brooklyn but spent most of his life in Pakistan, and two Western hostages: Warren Weinstein, an American aid contractor, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian.
Judicial Watch, State Department Documents Reveal Concern about Bill Clinton’s Activities with ‘Saudi Entities,' Staff report, April 23, 2015. Routine Government Employee Information on Hillary Clinton Shielded from the Public. Judicial Watch announced that it has received 126 pages of documents from the State Department related to Hillary Clinton’s possible conflicts of interest regarding her position as Secretary of State. The initial Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was placed on May 2, 2011. These documents are being released as a result of a federal court order in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the State Department on May 28, 2013 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State. Judicial Watch also disclosed that the State Department turned over nearly 1,000 records to the Clinton Foundation, beginning in January 2014, for review prior to public release. The lawsuit is ongoing and had previously forced the disclosure of documents that provided a road map for over 200 conflict-of-interest rulings that led to $48 million for the Clinton Foundation and other Clinton-connected entities during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. Previously disclosed documents in this lawsuit, for example, raise questions about funds Clinton accepted from entities linked to Saudi Arabia, China and Iran, among others.
WhoWhatWhy, Exclusive: Oklahoma City Bombing Breakthrough, Part 2 of 2, Roger Charles, April 23, 2015. As noted in Part 1 of this 2-part series, in early 1995, Tulsa Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents were eagerly preparing for a highly anticipated raid on the radical right-wing enclave of Elohim City—and the arrest of the shadowy figure Andreas Strassmeir, aka “Andy the German.” Then, suddenly those plans were dramatically and suddenly halted. The abrupt about-face was recorded in a Report of Investigation (ROI) for February 1995. Editor's Note: Based on 19 years of active investigation by reporter Roger Charles] — including hundreds of interviews, over two score field trips, and unique access to critical documents — information presented herein leads to a hugely important finding: the FBI was aware of the Strassmeir–McVeigh relationship and was monitoring McVeigh’s activities at a never-before-revealed level approaching “close surveillance.”
Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, 2001 (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Aerial Photo)
WhoWhatWhy: Exclusive: Oklahoma City Bombing Breakthrough, Part 1 of 2, Roger Charles, April 22, 2015. Rumors have circulated for years that there was more to the horrific Oklahoma City Bombing than just a handful of anti-government extremists. Now, WhoWhatWhy brings important new information to the table—about a man who almost certainly was a covert intelligence operative, his relationship with the principal person convicted and executed for the bombing, and a government cover-up that continues to this day. Two decades have passed since the April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City bombing. It was the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in American history, and 168 people died, including 19 children.
The attack on the Murrah Federal Building was said to be the work of Timothy McVeigh and two confederates, described as right-wing extremists with an anti-government agenda. McVeigh was executed by lethal injection and Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier were given prison sentences.
Now, however, major cracks have appeared in the federal government’s story—a story long considered by some victims’ families to be little more than a stonewall of mendacity and distortion. New revelations suggest that the government may be covering up prior interactions between intelligence services and the accused. In this way, Oklahoma City poses some of the same questions raised by 9/11 and the Boston Marathon Bombing—other national security traumas where Washington has worked hard to block potentially devastating disclosures. Probably the most significant new development is multiple confirmations of past allegations that a German intelligence operative with ties to one or more US agencies, Andreas Strassmeir, aka “Andy the German,” had a close and extensive relationship with McVeigh.
Washington Post, Facing threat in Congress, Pentagon races to resettle Guantanamo inmates, Missy Ryan and Adam Goldman, April 22, 2015. The Pentagon is racing to move dozens of detainees out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in coming months before lawmakers can block future transfers and derail President Obama’s plan to shutter the U.S. military prison. As a first step, officials plan to send up to 10 prisoners overseas, possibly in June. In all, the Pentagon hopes that 57 inmates who are approved for transfer will be resettled by the end of 2015.
CNN, Justice Department Launches Civil Rights Investigation, Erin Burnett, April 22, 2015 (video: 2:01 min.).
Washington Post, For Clintons, speech income shows how their wealth is intertwined with charity, Rosalind S. Helderman, April 22, 2015. Bill Clinton was paid at least $26 million in speaking fees by companies and organizations that are also major donors to the foundation he created after leaving the White House, according to a Washington Post analysis. The amount, about one-quarter of Clinton’s overall speaking income between 2001 and 2013, demonstrates how closely intertwined Bill and Hillary Clinton’s charitable work has become with their growing personal wealth. The Clintons’ relationships with major funders present an unusual political challenge for Hillary Rodham Clinton. Now that she has formally entered the presidential race, the family may face political pressure and some legal requirements to provide further details of their personal finances and those of the foundation.
Washington Post, DEA chief to step down after ‘sex parties’ scandal, Ellen Nakashima, April 21, 2015, Michele Leonhart’s departure follows the release of an inspector general report that detailed a series of incidents alleging misconduct by agents, including parties with prostitutes paid for by cartels. Editor's note: As illustration of the breakdown by both Congress and the Obama administration of their core duties, the Bush appointee (shown in an official photo) was named acting administrator in 2007 by George W. Bush but has never received a confirmation vote while being continued by the Obama administration.
TPM Livewire, Lindsey Graham: My Pro-Israel Funding May Produce 'All-Jewish Cabinet,' Brendan James, April 21, 2015. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told the Wall Street Journal on Monday that if he chooses to run for President, "pro-Israel funding" may cause him to assemble "the first all-Jewish cabinet" in America. "If I put together a finance team that will make me financially competitive enough to stay in this thing…I may have the first all-Jewish cabinet in America because of the pro-Israel funding," Graham reportedly said, chuckling. "Bottom line is, I’ve got a lot of support from the pro-Israel funding," he added.
Media Matters, Chipotle Overload: The Media's Pathetic Presidential Coverage, Political press jumps the shark. And we still have 18 more months before the election. Eric Boehlert, April 19, 2015. Less than one week into Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and it's a blurry image from a fast-food restaurant security video that's emerged as the defining media image. After "news" broke that Clinton, en route to Iowa to meet with voters, stopped in at an Ohio Chipotle for lunch and that the order was captured on film, the press corps basically went bonkers, treating it like a Tupac sighting and going all-in with fevered reporting.
Legal Schnauzer, Judge Claud Neilson earns dubious "award" for sending me to jail and trampling the First Amendment, Roger Shuler (shown in 2013 mug shot), April 21, 2015. The Alabama judge who unlawfully ordered my incarceration in a defamation case has been cited for committing one of the year's "more egregious or ridiculous affronts to free expression." The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, based at the University of Virginia, has been issuing "Jefferson Muzzles Awards" for 24 years to those who have wantonly trampled First Amendment rights. Claud Neilson (shown in court), a retired circuit judge the Alabama Supreme Court specially appointed to hear a lawsuit brought against me by Republican political figures Rob Riley and Liberty Duke, was among eight individuals or entities to receive "Muzzles Awards" for 2014-15. Josh Wheeler, director of the Thomas Jefferson Center, says the "Muzzles" are designed to spotlight First Amendment violations that might not have made front pages around the world.
Reuters via Huffinton Post, The Koch Brothers Are Reportedly Ready To Back Scott Walker, April 20, 2015. Billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, the influential conservative donors, have settled on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as their top choice to win the 2016 Republican nomination for U.S. president, the New York Times reported on Monday. David Koch said at a fundraiser for the New York State Republican Party on Monday that he and his brother would support the party's eventual nominee in the general election, but that it should be Walker (shown in a file photo). The Koch brothers plan to spend nearly $900 million during the 2016 campaign cycle. Walker already has allied himself with the more conservative wing of his party, making statements such as saying he would not support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
Media Matters, 'Clinton Cash' Author Peter Schweizer's Long History Of Errors, Retractions, And Questionable Sourcing, Eric Hananoki, April 20, 2015. Media should be cautious with Republican activist and strategist Peter Schweizer's new book Clinton Cash. Schweizer has a disreputable history of reporting marked by errors and retractions, with numerous reporters excoriating him for facts that "do not check out," sources that "do not exist," and a basic failure to practice "Journalism 101."
Politico, The Pulitzer Prize Scam: For the 99th straight year, they’ve convinced the American people they matter, Jack Shafer, April 20, 2015. Abandon everything you’ve ever been told about cynical journalists. If you want to melt the frozen heart of a reporter, just whisper in his ear that he’s a finalist in some journalism prize contest. It won’t matter how insignificant or unknown the prize is, whether it’s local or national, whether he’s won one before or not, or whether it comes with a cash prize or just an acrylic trophy. Most journalists can refer to themselves as “prize winning” in their biographical notes because prizes seem to outnumber journalists these days. “Everybody has won, and all must have prizes,” as the Dodo says at the conclusion of the caucus race in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Washington Post, FBI admits flaws in hair analysis over decades, Spencer S. Hsu, April 17, 2015. Forensic hair matches were overstated in many cases heard before 2000, including those of 32 defendants sentenced to death, the FBI and the Justice Department acknowledged after a review.
OpEdNews, The Anthrax Coverup Exposed, Paul Craig Roberts, April 17, 2015. Graeme MacQueen's 2014 book, The 2001 Anthrax Deception: The Case for a Domestic Conspiracy, has been vindicated by the head of the FBI's Anthrax Investigation. Four and one-half months ago, I posted a review of MacQueen's book. The hired government apologists, the despicable presstitute media, and the usual gullible patriots greeted the book with screams of "conspiracy theory." In fact, MacQueen's book was a carefully researched project that established that there indeed was a conspiracy -- a conspiracy inside the government. MacQueen's conclusion stands vindicated by Richard Lambert, the agent in charge of the FBI anthrax investigation, who has turned whistleblower. The purpose of the anthrax letters, especially the letters to senators Patrick Leahy (shown in a file photo) and Tom Daschle, was to raise the fear level in order to guarantee the passage of the tyrannical PATRIOT Act. In a court filing, Richard Lambert says that as the agent in charge of the investigation he was obstructed and impeded in his investigation for four years by the FBI's Washington Field Office, by apathy and error from the FBI Laboratory, by erroneous legal decisions, and by politically motivated communication embargoes from FBI Headquarters. Lambert says that there was far more exculpatory evidence in Bruce Ivins behalf than there was orchestrated circumstantial evidence against him. Ivins was Washington's scapegoat after the orchestrated case against Steven Hatfill fell apart and Washington had to pay Hatfill $4.6 million for defamation. Lambert's accusations filed in federal court have the capability of exposing the entire 9/11 deception.
C-SPAN American History TV, Church Committee History and Legacy, Staff report, April 17, 2015 (91-minute video). Panelists talk about the history and legacy of the Church Committee, a Senate committee created in 1975 to investigate government intelligence gathering conducted by the CIA, NSA, and FBI in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. They spoke about how the Senate Historical Office was collecting oral histories of involved personnel, and the impact of the committee’s findings on the FBI. Participants: John F. Fox Jr., historian at the Federal Bureau of Investigation Office of Public Affairs; Beverly Gage, associate professor of history at Yale University; Laura Kalman, History professor, University of California, Santa Barbara; Katherine A. Scott, assistant historian at the U.S. Senate Historical Office; and Athan G. Theoharis, professor emeritus of history and at Marquette University. Host: Organization of American Historians
The Hill, Iran Reportedly Sends Navy Vessels Near Yemen Amid Airstrikes, Kristina Wong, April 17, 2015. U.S. military officials are concerned that Iran's support for Houthi rebels in Yemen could spark a confrontation with Saudi Arabia and plunge the region into sectarian war. Iran is sending an armada of seven to nine ships — some with weapons — toward Yemen in a potential attempt to resupply the Shia Houthi rebels, according to two U.S. defense officials. Officials fear the move could lead to a showdown with the U.S. or other members of a Saudi-led coalition, which is enforcing a naval blockade of Yemen and is conducting its fourth week of airstrikes against the Houthis. Iran sent a destroyer and another vessel to waters near Yemen last week but said it was part of a routine counter-piracy mission. What's unusual about the new deployment, which set out this week, is that the Iranians are not trying to conceal it, officials said.
Huffington Post, Why Hillary Clinton Left Obama To Fend For Himself On Trade, Zach Cater, April 17, 2015. President Barack Obama's trade agenda took a beating on Friday, as House Democrats threw cold water on his bid to fast-track the biggest free trade pact since the 1990s, and 2016 presidential contender Hillary Clinton declined to back the plan. Although Republican leaders in Congress are on board with Obama's effort to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping deal between the U.S. and 11 Pacific nations, Democrats have been persistently critical of the negotiations. Obama got no help from Clinton. Late Friday, her campaign released a statement saying she "will be watching closely to see what is being done to crack down on currency manipulation" and to "improve labor rights, protect the environment and health," as first reported by The New York Times.
The Nation via OpEdNews, If Clinton is Serious About Economic Populism, She Should Come Out Against Fast Track, John Nichols, April 17, 2015. Hillary Clinton has backed NAFTA-style "free-trade" agreements and she has opposed NAFTA-style "free-trade" agreements. But Clinton has a chance to get trade policy right when it matters. And when it matters is now. As she launches a 2016 presidential campaign in which she seems to be interested in grabbing the banner of economic populism -- going so far as to complain in her announcement video about how "the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top" -- Clinton can and should stake out a clear position in opposition to granting President Obama Trade Promotion Authority to negotiate a sweeping Trans-Pacific Partnership. Despite overwhelming opposition from labor, farm, environmental and social justice groups, Congress is preparing to consider whether to provide Obama with the "Fast Track" authority he seeks to construct a "free-trade" linking the North American and Asian nations of the Pacific Rim. Imagine the North American Free Trade Agreement on steroids and you get a sense of what is at stake. Hillary Clinton is shown in a file photo of a talk at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Bush family presidents and contenders, from left, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Jeb Bush
Washington Post, The world according to Jeb Bush, Ed O’Keefe, April 16, 2015. By embracing ideas expressed by his brother, Jeb Bush puts himself in the middle of GOP consensus on foreign affairs but at odds with most Americans who remain wary of the two wars launched during the last Bush presidency.
Huffington Post, Scott Walker's Approval Drops In Wisconsin, Ariel Edwards-Levy, April 16, 2015. Wisconsin voters' opinions of Gov. Scott Walker (R) have slipped since last fall, a new Marquette University Law School survey finds. Forty-one percent now approve of Walker's performance, while 56 percent disapprove. In October, 49 percent approved and 47 percent disapproved. See also, Wisconsin PostCrescent, Wisconsin's 2-year budget hole forecast at up to $2 billion, Scott Bauer, Jan. 24, 2015. Gov. Scott Walker will have to plug a roughly $280 million budget shortfall by the end of June, and the state faces a two-year deficit that could be as large as $2 billion, based on new estimates released Friday by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
Washington Post, WikiLeaks posts searchable database of Sony e-mails, documents, Steven Rich and Ellen Nakashima, April 16, 2015. A massive cache of internal Sony Pictures Entertainment e-mails and documents was posted online and made searchable Thursday by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, including material on the company’s lobbying efforts and the budgeting of $1 million for Edward Snowden’s Russian lawyer as part of the costs for an Oliver Stone movie about the former National Security Agency contractor.
Washington Post, Obama would get key trade powers under legislation, David Nakamura and Paul Kane, April 16, 2015. President Obama’s high-stakes bid to complete one of the largest free-trade pacts in U.S. history took a step forward with the introduction of a bipartisan bill that would give his administration vast new powers to close the deal.
Washington Post, Obama’s pivot on trade could mean war with his base, David Nakamura, April 15, 2015. As senator, he voted against big trade deals. As president, he is touting an Asia pact opposed by many in his own party and supported by Republicans who know trade is an issue that could divide Democrats in an election year.
Washington Post, Why a Florida mailman landed his ultralight aircraft on the Capitol lawn, Mike DeBonis and Marc Fisher, Doug Hughes, April 15, 2015. The mission: Fly his gyrocopter into some of the most closely protected airspace on the planet to urge campaign finance reform.
Washington Post, Grassley clashes with police association over controversial asset seizures, Robert O'Harrow Jr.April 15, 2015. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IO), shown in an official photo, is pushing to reform federal civil-asset forfeiture laws that allow police to take billions of dollars from people without filing charges or warrants.
Washington Post, Iran leader: We are in talks with ‘the major powers,’ not the U.S. Congress, Karen DeYoung, Mike DeBonis, and Daniela Deane, April 15, 2015. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that Tehran was negotiating a comprehensive nuclear deal with world powers, not the U.S. Congress, and called a Senate committee’s vote to give Congress the power to review any potential deal a domestic U.S. matter. The Iranian leader also repeated earlier statements that his country will not accept any comprehensive nuclear deal with world powers unless all sanctions imposed against it are lifted.
Washington Post, Marco Rubio could be our first Mormon president, kind of, Hunter Schwarz, April 14, 2015. Three years after Mitt Romney tried and failed, Marco Rubio could become our first Mormon president — at least, if you want to get really technical about it. No, Rubio doesn't consider himself Mormon anymore, but he was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when his family lived in Las Vegas and he was 8 years old. The church considers people to be members if they have been baptized, regardless of how active they are, unless they formally ask for their name to be removed from church records. Church spokesman Eric Hawkins told the Fix they "are deferring to Sen. Rubio to respond to questions about his faith." The Rubio campaign did not respond to a question from The Fix about whether Rubio has done this, but as of a 2012 BuzzFeed story about Rubio's time as a Mormon, he had not. The Post's Manuel Roig Franzia also wrote about this in his 2012 book about Rubio, The Rise of Marco Rubio: "And the Mormon faith may have retained a kind of technical hold on them regardless of their conversion: Rubio and his family members never asked for their names to be removed from LDS rolls, meaning they may still be counted as Mormons by the church."
Rubio wrote in his 2013 book, An American Son, that he studied church literature and "immersed" himself in LDS theology when he was young. During a 2012 interview with ABC News, he said that he and his sister and cousins had their own version of the Osmonds, called "the Sunshine Cousins." His family began attending the Catholic Church when he was in sixth grade, and he today considers himself Catholic. So if Rubio wins, he would not only be the first Mormon president (with that important asterisk), but the second Catholic president (after JFK) and first Republican Catholic president.
Washington Post, ‘Free-range’ family again at center of debate after police pick up children, Brigid Schulte and Donna St. George, April 14, 2015. County officials question hours-long delay in notifying parents kids were in custody. A familiar debate over how much freedom parents should give their children ignited Monday with the news that a Montgomery County couple had, once again, tangled with Child Protective Services for allowing their youngsters to take a walk on their own. A couple of months after Danielle and Alexander Meitiv were found responsible for “unsubstantiated neglect” for letting Rafi, 10, and Dvora, 6, walk home from a park close to where they live in downtown Silver Spring, they gave the children permission to do it again. Responding to a call from a citizen, police collected the children and took them to CPS in Montgomery where, 5 1/2 anxious hours later, they were reunited with their parents. The chain of events has again electrified parents, parent educators and lawmakers. Editor's Note: "The Nanny State" strikes again with a sinister element of reprisal from authorities who delayed notifying the parents.
Al.com, Alabama blogger ordered to pay $3.5 million in defamation lawsuit, Kent Faulk, April 14, 2015. A Shelby County blogger who spent five months in jail before agreeing to remove stories from his website about the son of a former governor has now been ordered to pay $3.5 million in a defamation lawsuit filed by a former campaign manager for Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange. The blogger had written about an alleged affair between Strange and the campaign manager. Jefferson County Circuit Judge Donald Blankenship on Monday entered a default judgment against Roger Shuler, shown in a file photo, and his website Legal Schnauzer for $1.5 million in compensatory and $2 million in punitive damages. The judge wrote that all the elements for the judgment were present, including that a false and defamatory statement was made. Jessica Medeiros Garrison, a Birmingham lawyer, filed the defamation lawsuit in 2013 against Shuler. She had managed Strange's 2010 campaign for Alabama Attorney General and served as Chief Counsel and Deputy Attorney General in 2011.
AP via Washington Post, Plea deals possible in Atlanta educators' cheating trial, Kate Brumback, April 13, 2015. An Atlanta judge urged 10 former educators Monday to accept sentencing deals with the prosecution in a trial over a widespread conspiracy to cheat on state tests - and he threatened prison sentences for them if they fail to reach those deals.
Washington Post, Turkey recalls ambassador over Pope’s Armenia genocide words, Nicole Winfield, April 12, 2015. Pope Francis on Sunday marked the 100th anniversary of the slaughter of Armenians by calling the massacre by Ottoman Turks “the first genocide of the 20th century” and urging the international community to recognize it as such. Turkey immediately responded by recalling its ambassador and accusing Francis of spreading hatred and “unfounded claims.” Francis issued the pronouncement during a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica commemorating the centenary that was attended by Armenian church leaders and President Serge Sarkisian, who praised the pope. “The words of the leader of a church with one billion followers cannot but have a strong impact,” he said. Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey, however, denies a genocide took place. It has insisted that the toll has been inflated and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.
President Obama Welcomes Amir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani of Qatar to the White House on April 23, 2013 (White House Photo).
Huffington Post, Saudi Arabia, Turkey Discussing Unlikely Alliance To Oust Syria's Assad, Ryan Grim, Sophia Jones, Jessica Schulberg, April 12, 2015. Turkey and Saudi Arabia, two nations with a long history of rivalry, are in high-level talks with the goal of forming a military alliance to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to sources familiar with the discussions. The talks are being brokered by Qatar. As the partnership is currently envisioned, Turkey would provide ground troops, supported by Saudi Arabian airstrikes, to assist moderate Syrian opposition fighters against Assad's regime, according to one of the sources. President Barack Obama was made aware of the talks in February by the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, during the emir's visit to the White House, one source said. Saudi King Salman bin Abdull Aziz is shown in a 2013 photo. Saudi Arabia's recent intervention in Yemen indicates the nation is becoming bolder with its own forces, rather than relying on proxies. Following his meeting with the emir of Qatar, Obama said that the two leaders had "shared ideas" for how to remove Assad. If the talks between Turkey and Saudi Arabia proceed successfully, their intervention in Syria would go forward whether or not the U.S. offered support, said one source.
USA Today, Hillary Clinton launches 2016 presidential bid, Martha T. Moore and Catalina Camia, April 12, 2015. Hillary Clinton formally launched her second presidential bid today, vowing to be the champion for "everyday" American families and to strengthen the economy. Hillary Clinton formally launched her second presidential bid today, vowing to be the champion for "everyday" American families and to strengthen the economy. "Everyday Americans need a champion. I want to be that champion so you can do more than just get by, so you can get ahead and stay ahead," she said. "Because when families are strong, America is strong." The long-awaited announcement was preceded by an email from campaign chairman John Podesta to supporters. "Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top," Clinton said in a video posted on her website, hillaryclinton.com.
OpEdNews, Code Red: Jonathan Simon's Hail-Mary for Democracy, Joan Brunwasser, April 12, 2015. My guest today is Jonathan Simon, co-founder and currently Executive Director of Election Defense Alliance.
Joan Brunwasser: Welcome back to OpEdNews, Jonathan. You wrote Code Red: Computerized Election Theft and the New American Century, and more recently the post-2014 edition. Why did you write this book?
Jonathan Simon: Why did Doug Flutie throw his "Hail-Mary" pass? Because the clock was running out and the end zone was a mile away.
I have been witness to and participant in more than a decade of strenuous but essentially fruitless efforts to challenge the passivity with which America has collectively accepted an "upgrade" that gave us a concealed, computerized, privatized vote counting process--a Trojan Horse which the forensic evidence we have painstakingly gathered links inextricably to a bewildering political sea change tantamount to a rolling coup. It became clear to me that a massive boost of public awareness would be essential as a foundation for the kind of determined and dramatic action needed to restore observable vote counting to our wounded democracy. CODE RED is my hail-mary pass to bring about that awareness.
I also state my purpose explicitly in Code Red, if I may quote myself:
"My goal in writing this book has been to bring the issue of vote counting, and the perils it presents in the New American Century, into the public discourse. I hope also that reading CODE RED will help those who have been keeping to themselves their suspicions, concerns, or outrage about our faith-based, man-behind-the-curtain electoral system to recognize that they are neither crazy nor alone."
Hillary Clinton Barack Obama morph (image by Rob Kall using images from the U.S. government)
OpEd News, Hillary H.W. Obama, 2016, Cindy Sheehan, April 11, 2016. Hi, I am going to try and write this piece with as little vitriol as I can muster, but war criminals and their voracious appetites for grabbing as much power as they can by any corrupt or violent means really anger me. I am speaking of the recent news item that Hillary Clinton will announce her candidacy for POTUS (President of the United States) on Sunday, April 12. First of all, no one should be surprised, and secondly, all liberal-progressives should (but most won't) vigorously oppose this person.
Hillary Clinton is proof in living color that for one to rise to the top of Imperial dung-heap in the WaMPO (White Male Property Owner) dominated paradigm, she, or he person-of-color, MUST fully conform and be fully invested in that dominant paradigm. For example, during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, Clinton joined her Secretary of State predecessor (female and person of color) Condoleezza Rice and other neocons in ramming the false propaganda of Saddam/Osama and WMD down the throats of a too frightened, gullible and revenge-seeking U.S. population. While Secretary of State, Clinton never met an invasion or overthrow of any government (i,e:, Honduras, Libya) that she didn't absolutely adore.
President Obama and then-former Secretary of State relax on July 29, 2013 on the White House patio: White House photo.
Washington Post, When Clinton’s campaign begins, so will ‘Stop Hillary,’ Robert Costa, April 11, 2015. The GOP is gearing up for a highly coordinated anti-Clinton effort. When Clinton’s campaign begins, so will ‘Stop Hillary.’ Editor's Note: Contrary to this article's framing, not all Clinton critics will be Republicans.
Washington Post, Thousands dead, few prosecuted, Kimberly Kindy and Kimbriell Kelly, April 11, 2015. Among thousands of the fatal shootings by on-duty police since 2005, 54 officers have faced charges, a Post analysis found. Most were cleared or acquitted in the cases that have been resolved. See also, Washington Post, Complete Breakdown: Police officers prosecuted for use of deadly force, April 11, 2015. Since 2005, 54 officers nationwide have been criminally charged after they shot and killed someone in the line of duty, according to a review by The Washington Post and Bowling Green State University researchers. The Post analyzed the details of those prosecutions, which involved the killings of 49 people. Among the findings: Most officers were white, and most victims black.
CounterPunch via Paul Craig Roberts.org,The Coming War on Pensions, Michael Hudson, April 11, 2015 (originally Jan. 5, 2015). Michael Hudson explains that having looted everything else, Wall Street is now eating our pension funds with Social Security also on the menu. Wall Street has the US government under its control and is using the federal government to subsidize Wall Street profits at the expense of Americans’ old age security. On the Senate’s last day in session in December, 2014, it approved the government’s $1.1 trillion budget for coming fiscal year.
Few people realize how radical the new U.S. budget law was. Budget laws are supposed to decide simply what to fund and what to cut. A budget is not supposed to make new law, or to rewrite the law. But that is what happened, and it was radical. Wall Street’s representatives in Congress – the Democratic leadership as well as Republicans – took the opportunity to create an artificial crisis. The press called this “holding the government hostage.” The House – backed by the Senate – said that it would shut the government down at some future date if two basic laws were not changed.
Most of the attention has been paid to Elizabeth Warren’s eloquent attack on the government guaranteeing bank trades in derivatives. Written by Citigroup lobbyists, this puts taxpayer funds behind future bank bailouts if banks make more bad bets on complex financial derivatives, such as packaged junk mortgage loans. Less attention has been paid to what happens if banks win. They will win largely in making bets against pension funds. Indeed, pension funds have not been treated well by Wall Street in recent years.
JFKFacts.org, National Archives puts the CIA on notice about JFK records, Jeff Morley, April 11, 2015. The National Archives responds to public pressure. That’s the good news from yesterday’s public forum at the Archives building in Washington, D.C. In her lengthy and detailed [remarks], Martha Murphy, de facto chief of the JFK Assassination Records Collection, laid out the Archives’ plan for the release of thousands of pages of assassination-related records by October 2017. In the past, JFK Facts has taken Archivist David Ferreiro and his staff to task for their passive position on the continuing stonewalling of the CIA, which retains more than 1,100 assassination related records and has insisted on redactions of hundreds of thousands of other documents. Murphy made clear that the Archives is proceeding on the assumption that the CIA and other agencies will release all of their JFK records and remove all of redactions on JFK records, as mandated by law, in October 2017, unless specifically ordered by the White House. Under the terms of the JFK Records Act, federal agencies can only continue to postpone release of documents with the approval of the White House. By default the records will become public. This doesn’t mean the CIA cannot and will not seek postponement of some records. If there is no public attention to the issue, I think they probably will. Editor's Note: This editor vigorously advocated for prompt release at the forum.
The Lancet, Offline: What is medicine’s 5 sigma? Richard Horton, April 11, 2015. Dr. Richard Horton is editor in chief of The Lancet, generally regarded along with the New England Journal of Medicine as one of the world's most prestigious peer-reviewed medical journals. The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. As one participant put it, “poor methods get results.” The Academy of Medical Sciences, Medical Research Council, and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council have now put their reputational weight behind an investigation into these questionable research practices. The apparent endemicity of bad research behaviour is alarming. In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world. Or they retrofit hypotheses to fit their data. Journal editors deserve their fair share of criticism too. We aid and abet the worst behaviours. Our acquiescence to the impact factor fuels an unhealthy competition to win a place in a select few journals. Our love of “significance” pollutes the literature with many a statistical fairy-tale. We reject important confirmations. Journals are not the only miscreants. Universities are in a perpetual struggle for money and talent, endpoints that foster reductive metrics, such as high-impact publication. National assessment procedures, such as the Research Excellence Framework, incentivise bad practices.
See also, New York Review of Books, Drug Companies & Doctors: A Story of Corruption, Marcia Angell, Jan. 15, 2009. Dr. Marcia Angell is editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine. Recently Senator Charles Grassley, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee (shown in a file photo), has been looking into financial ties between the pharmaceutical industry and the academic physicians who largely determine the market value of prescription drugs. He hasn’t had to look very hard. No one knows the total amount provided by drug companies to physicians, but I estimate from the annual reports of the top nine US drug companies that it comes to tens of billions of dollars a year. By such means, the pharmaceutical industry has gained enormous control over how doctors evaluate and use its own products. Its extensive ties to physicians, particularly senior faculty at prestigious medical schools, affect the results of research, the way medicine is practiced, and even the definition of what constitutes a disease. After much unfavorable publicity, medical schools and professional organizations are beginning to talk about controlling conflicts of interest, but so far the response has been tepid. They consistently refer to “potential” conflicts of interest, as though that were different from the real thing, and about disclosing and “managing” them, not about prohibiting them. In short, there seems to be a desire to eliminate the smell of corruption, while keeping the money.
Washington Post, War-torn Nigerian town shows devastating legacy of Boko Haram, Kevin Sieff, April 11, 2015. This was once a bustling Nigerian city. Then Boko Haram took it over. Gwoza was uninhabitable by the time the militants left, and residents tell stories of rape and violence. Boko Haram Leader Abubakar Shekau is shown in a screen shot from an October 2014 video.
CNN, What Saudi Arabia wants in Yemen, Ali Al Ahmed, April 11, 2015. Ali Al Ahmed is director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs. He became Saudi Arabia's youngest political prisoner when he was detained age 14. Supported by American intelligence and supplied with advanced U.S.-made weaponry, Saudi jets began airstrikes in Yemen late last month in the name of what the kingdom's Washington ambassador described as "restoring the legitimate government" and protecting a "Yemeni constitution and elections." The need to protect constitutions and elections is a rather strange message from the representative of an absolute monarchy. Indeed, Saudi motives in Yemen likely have nothing to do with protecting the country's "legitimate government," its constitution or its electoral process.
So what is really going on? The kingdom's real motives seem clear if one looks at Saudi monarchy's history of not allowing regional competition of any kind, while consistently combating efforts to build democratic governments that empower the people. This approach was evident in 2013, when Saudi Arabia voiced its support for the military coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Mohamed Morsy in Egypt, which was in keeping with counterrevolutionary Saudi policies that aimed to contain or reverse the results of the Arab Spring. The Saudi goal is simple: Prevent the rise of any popularly supported government in the region that seeks self-determination. And the excuse of "resisting Iran's influence," meanwhile, appears to be nothing but sectarian bluster. With all this in mind, the American decision to stand behind the Saudi attack on Yemen can best be described as misguided.
Barre Montpelier Times Argus, Lawsuit says Wall Street executive overcharged on contracts, Wire reports, April 11, 2015. Two former employees of a helicopter company owned by a prominent Wall Street financier allege that she exploited a connection with an Army colonel to charge the U.S. government inflated prices for rotorcraft. Two former employees of a helicopter company owned by a prominent Wall Street financier allege that she exploited a connection with an Army colonel to charge the U.S. government inflated prices for rotorcraft. In documents filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Alabama, the whistleblowers said Patriarch Partners founder Lynn Tilton offered the officer, Norbert Vergez, a lucrative job long before he retired from military service as a way of inducing him to make contract decisions favorable to her company, MD Helicopters of Mesa, Arizona. Attorneys for Tilton have disputed the allegations, calling them weak and implausible. In a separate but related move, Vergez, who went to work for Tilton after hanging up his uniform, has agreed to plead guilty to false statement and conflict of interest charges. The plea deal with U.S. government attorneys follows a lengthy Justice Department investigation into his stewardship of an Army acquisition office in Alabama and subsequent hiring by the flamboyant and outspoken Tilton. Editor's Note: This goes deep into larger problems and hence the length of this excerpt.
Daily Mail, Woman who claimed she slept with Prince Andrew while working as a sex slave is facing a legal backlash from two other men she claimed had relations with her, Daniel Bates, April 10, 2015. The woman who claimed she slept with Prince Andrew while working as a sex slave is facing a legal backlash from two other men she claimed had relations with her. Virginia Roberts is being sued for defamation by US attorney Alan Dershowitz, who says he wants her jailed. Dershowitz said Roberts, 31, (shown at age 17 in a photo with Prince Andrew and socialite Ghislaine Maxwelll, an alleged facilitator of a liaison) would have to give evidence under oath – and will perjure herself if she repeats her claims. Roberts has also been branded ‘despicable’ by model agency owner Jean Luc Brunel who said he is considering legal action of his own. Earlier this week, Judge Kenneth Marra ordered Roberts’ claim that she was a ‘sex slave’ to pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, a former friend of Andrew, to be struck from the record. Amid the other ‘lurid’ allegations removed from the record were claims that she slept with the Duke of York, Dershowitz and Brunel.
National Archives, National Declassification Center Hosts Public Forum, April 10, 2015. Theme: NDC Prioritization: What Secrets Do People Want to See? The National Archives National Declassification Center (NDC) will host its next public forum on Friday, April 10, from 10 AM to noon, in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. This event is free and open to the public. An overview of role of provenance in archival holdings processing and arrangement, by David Langbart, Archivist. “Approaches to Prioritization” panel discussion with experts: David Robarge, CIA chief historian; Stephen Randolph, Department of State historian; Katherine Hawkins, National Security Fellow, Open the Gov.org; Nate Jones, FOIA Coordinator, National Security Archive; William Burr, Senior Analyst, National Security Archive; and Bill Leary, Public Member, Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB). Public comments are here.
Marathon two years ago, convicting a young man who had embraced radical Islam and carried out one of the worst acts of terrorism on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001. Tsarnaev was charged with 30 counts — including 17 that carry the death penalty — and found guilty on each one of them. Among the most serious charges, he was convicted of using a weapon of mass destruction that resulted in the deaths of three people and, separately, of killing of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer.
Newsmax, Judge Sides With Dershowitz, Strikes Claims in Epstein Case, April 8, 2015. A federal judge today granted law professor Alan Dershowitz’s request to strike allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct from an ongoing lawsuit against convicted sexual offender and former Palm Beach financier Jeffrey Epstein. The lawsuit, filed in 2008, seeks to undo a non-prosecution agreement between federal prosecutors and Epstein, who the woman said arranged the sex with Prince Andrew and Dershowitz. Dershowitz has vehemently denied the claims as has the prince. Epstein has called the claims old and discredited. U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra in West Palm Beach, Florida, ruled that it was unnecessary for the woman, known in court papers as Jane Doe No. 3, and another known as Jane Doe No. 4, to join the lawsuit at all, and struck down the sexual misconduct allegations. The judge wrote that he could still consider relevant evidence from Jane Doe Nos. 3 and 4, but that their participation in the case "as listed parties is not necessary in that regard." Lawyers for the four women did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Dershowitz, at right, and Epstein are shown in a file photo.
Washington Post, When everything is a crime, George F. Will, April 8, 2015. Criticisms of the overcriminalization of American life might catalyze an appreciation of the toll the administrative state is taking on the criminal justice system, and liberty generally. In 2009, Harvey Silverglate’s book Three Felonies a Day demonstrated how almost any American could be unwittingly guilty of various crimes between breakfast and bedtime. Now comes “Rethinking Presumed Knowledge of the Law in the Regulatory Age” (Tennessee Law Review) by Michael Anthony Cottone, a federal judicial clerk. Cottone warns that as the mens rea requirement withers when the quantity and complexity of laws increase, the doctrine of ignorantia legis neminem excusat — ignorance of the law does not excuse — becomes problematic. The regulatory state is rendering unrealistic the presumption that a responsible citizen should be presumed to have knowledge of the law.
WhoWhatWhy, Why We Fight With the Pen, Russ Baker, April 7, 2015. If you are new to our site, you may well be curious about our fascination with the Boston Marathon Bombing case. After all, the government said that the defendant did it, and his own defense team said he did it. So what more is there to add? A lot, actually. Even if a defendant personally declares his or her guilt — which has not yet happened in this case — it does not necessarily prove culpability. Why? Because defendants confess to all kinds of things for all kinds of reasons. But that’s not all. Regardless of the guilt of the defendant, there may be much more to be learned. What if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was involved in something that neither he nor his brother actually instigated? What if they had gotten caught up in something even more insidious? Wouldn’t we want to know, need to know? It is doubly dangerous for a society when the state suppresses a deeper inquiry and the media happily complies.
ABC News, Shooting Victim Walter Scott and Police Officer Had Unexpected Connection, Meghan Keneally, April 8, 2015. An unexpected connection has emerged between the South Carolina police officer and the man he is accused of shooting after a traffic stop -- the fatal incident caught on video. Both Officer Michael Slager, 33, and Walter "Lamar" Scott, 50, shown from left to right, respectively, served in the U.S. Coast Guard years before their confrontation on Saturday in North Charleston left Scott dead and led to Slager being charged with murder on Tuesday.
Washington Post, South Carolina police officer charged with murder after shooting man during traffic stop, Mark Berman, Wesley Lowery and Kimberly Kindy, April 7, 2015. A white police officer in North Charleston, S.C., was charged with murder Tuesday after shooting and killing a black man following a routine traffic stop over the weekend. The decision to charge the officer, Michael Thomas Slager, came after graphic video footage emerged depicting Slager firing a volley of bullets into the back of Walter Scott, 50, who was running away. Video, with editor's warning: This video from a bystander contains graphic content. Authorities said the decision to charge officer Michael Slager (shown in custody) was made after they viewed video footage of the incident that showed him shooting the other man in the back as he was fleeing the scene. (Video obtained by the Washington Post.)
USA Today, U.S. secretly tracked billions of calls for decades, Brad Heath, April 7, 2015. The U.S. government started keeping secret records of Americans' international telephone calls nearly a decade before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, harvesting billions of calls in a program that provided a blueprint for the far broader National Security Agency surveillance that followed. For more than two decades, the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed logs of virtually all telephone calls from the USA to as many as 116 countries linked to drug trafficking, current and former officials involved with the operation said. The targeted countries changed over time but included Canada, Mexico and most of Central and South America.
See also, National Journal, Court: NSA Spying May Continue Even If Congress Lets Authority Expire, Dustin Volz, March 18, 2015. The Obama administration could continue collecting American phone records absent lawmaker approval. The National Security Agency may be allowed to continue scooping up American phone records indefinitely even if congressional authority for the spying program expires later this year, according to a recently declassified court order. The legal underpinning of the NSA's bulk collection of U.S. call data resides in a provision of the post-9/11 USA Patriot Act that is scheduled to sunset on June 1. The common understanding among lawmakers and the intelligence community is that the surveillance program will halt unless Congress reauthorizes Section 215 of the Patriot Act in some fashion.
Newsmax, Alan Dershowitz: I Will Now Confront My Lying Sex Accuser in Court! Bill Hoffmann, April 7, 2015. Famed legal scholar and author Alan Dershowitz tells Newsmax TV he's going after the woman who accused him of sexual misconduct — after a federal judge on Tuesday ordered her allegations to be removed from an ongoing lawsuit against convicted billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. The lawsuit, filed in 2008, sought to undo an agreement between federal prosecutors and Epstein, who the woman said arranged the sex with Dershowitz and Britain’s Prince Andrew. "We've been legally vindicated but my reputation has still been, unfortunately, tarnished in the minds of at least some people by a woman who just lied and made up a story out of whole cloth," Dershowitz said on "The Steve Malzberg Show." "I don't know this woman, I never met her, and she made these false accusations, and there are some people who still believe it. Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor emeritus and Newsmax contributor who represented Epstein in his plea deal, said his team will now depose the woman, known as "Jane Doe 3." "We will persuade the world that she made up the whole story out of whole cloth," he told Malzberg. In addition, Dershowitz said he is suing his accuser's lawyers for defamation. "And we're considering suing her for defamation as well, but right now she was trying to hide in Colorado and avoid service, but we found her and we served her and now she'll be subjected to a deposition," he said. "And if she repeats what she said previously under oath, she will go to jail because what she said is a complete, total, made-up lie. Not only about me but about many other people."
Consortium News, Judith Miller’s Blame-Shifting Memoir, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), April 7, 2015. U.S. intelligence veterans recall the real story of how New York Times reporter Judith Miller disgraced herself and her profession by helping to mislead Americans into the disastrous war in Iraq. They challenge the slick, self-aggrandizing rewrite of history in her new memoir. On April 3, former New York Times journalist Judith Miller published an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “The Iraq War and Stubborn Myths: Officials Didn’t Lie, and I Wasn’t Fed a Line.” If this sounds a bit defensive, Miller (shown in a file photo) has tons to be defensive about. In the article, Miller claims, “false narratives [about what she did as a New York Times reporter] deserve, at last, to be retired.” The article appears to be the initial salvo in a major attempt at self-rehabilitation and, coincidentally, comes just as her new book, The Story: A Reporter’s Journey, is to be published today. In reviewing Miller’s book, her “mainstream media” friends are not likely to mention the stunning conclusion reached recently by the Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and other respected groups that the Iraq War, for which she was lead drum majorette, killed one million people. One might think that, in such circumstances – and with bedlam reigning in Iraq and the wider neighborhood – a decent respect for the opinions of mankind, so to speak, might prompt Miller to keep her head down for a while more.
Vanity Fair, The Inside Story of the Civil War For the Soul of NBC News, Bryan Burrough, May 2015. Brian Williams’s fabrication was just the latest, and worst, of the debacles that have plagued NBC News since NBC Universal was bought by Comcast in 2011. Who is to blame? Since Comcast took control of NBC, the network’s news division—famously termed Comcast’s “crown jewel” by C.E.O. Brian Roberts—has endured one debacle after another. “When Comcast took over, they had the No. 1 morning show, the No. 1 Sunday show, and the No. 1 evening broadcast,” says a former top NBC executive. “That’s all completely fallen apart. I don’t know how you blame anyone but Comcast and the people it brought in. It’s been a nightmare.”
Paul Craig Roberts.org, Big Brother Takes Over Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Paul Craig Roberts, April 7, 2015. A very popular pianist, Valentina Lisitsa, was dropped from the upcoming program by the Toronto Symphony because she criticized the behavior of the puppet government that Washington has set up in her native Ukraine. In view of their consistent tyrannical behavior, how Western governments and institutions can continue to claim that they represent “freedom and democracy” is a mystery.
Guardian, Pakistan court says former CIA station chief will face charges over drone strike, Jon Boone, April 7, 2015. Islamabad high court orders murder charges be brought against Jonathan Banks and former CIA lawyer John A Rizzo for 2009 strike that killed at least three. The former head of the CIA in Pakistan should be tried for murder and waging war against the country, a high court judge ruled on Tuesday. Criminal charges against Jonathan Banks, the former CIA station chief in Islamabad, were ordered in relation to a December 2009 attack by a US drone which reportedly killed at least three people. Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad high court also ruled charges should be brought against John A Rizzo, formerly the top CIA lawyer who gave the legal green light for drone strikes. The extraordinary unmasking of a sitting station chief forced Banks to quit his post and leave the country.
Guardian, US-backed airstrikes on Yemen kill civilians – and hopes for peace, Baraa Shiban, April 6, 2015. America saw my country primarily through a counterterrorism lens, which was a mistake. Instead of fixing the problems, drone strikes only made them worse. You can’t bomb a country into existence, however much America seems determined to try. In the last week, 164 Yemeni civilians have lost their lives in the Saudi bombardment of my country. The US has a central role in all of this. As US officials told the Wall Street Journal, “American military planners are using live intelligence feeds from surveillance flights over Yemen to help Saudi Arabia decide what and where to bomb.”
Washington, After Bush order, black enrollment down in Florida, Robert Samuels, April 6, 2015. Jeb Bush (shown as governor) boasts that an executive order he signed as governor to end race-based college admissions helped minorities. But at Florida’s two premier universities, black enrollment is shrinking. At the University of Florida in Gainesville and at Florida State University in Tallahassee, administrators say they worry that the trend risks diminishing their standing as world-class universities. The black share of the UF freshman class, for instance, plunged to 6 percent in 2013. That is down from 9 percent in 2011.
Citigroup Chairman and former Clinton Administration Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin speaks this year at a forum by the Hamilton Project, which he helped found in 2006 (Andrew Kreig photo)
Wall Street Parade, The Moral Hazard of Hillary Clinton & Company, Pam Martens and Russ Martens: April 6, 2015. “Wall Street Democrats” is a political phrase gaining traction. It encapsulates a growing realization that Bill Clinton’s two terms as President and Barack Obama’s eight years in office have been a great boon to enriching the one percent on Wall Street and an economic disaster for mostly everyone else. It was the Bill Clinton administration that deregulated the financial markets through the repeal of the Depression era Glass-Steagall Act and it was the Obama administration that created the masquerade that strict regulation of Wall Street was put back into place under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Instead of reform, Wall Street banks have become larger, more dangerous and an increasing threat to the economic stability of the U.S., if not the globe. There is a serious and growing chorus calling for an expulsion of the Wall Street Democrats from the party and a formal break with its anointed brand – the “Clinton” name. Every time Bill Clinton’s former Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin (shown in a file photo, opens his mouth, this message gains more substance.
NBC News, Jury Gets Boston Bombing Case, Will Decide Tsarnaev's Fate, Tom Winter, Andy Thibault and Jon Schuppe, April 6, 2015. After weeks of graphic testimony on one of the worst terror attacks on American soil, the case against alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will go to a jury Tuesday for a decision that is widely expected to result in a conviction and trigger a second phase to determine whether he should be executed. The jury will begin deliberations Tuesday morning after hearing closing arguments Monday from lawyers on both sides: prosecutors who brought an overwhelming amount of evidence against Tsarnaev and defense lawyers who don't dispute most of it but argue he was manipulated by his older brother. Monday's arguments began with Assistant U.S. Attorney Aloke Chakravarty accusing Tsarnaev of bringing twisted jihadist beliefs to the feet of innocent Americans, blowing bodies apart at the race's finish line, coolly walking away, then arming himself to the teeth for a showdown with authorities alongside his co-conspirator older brother. Chakravarty said Tsarnaev, at the time a 19-year-old college student whose family had fled the war-torn Russian Caucasus, made his final statement in the form of an Islamist, anti-American screed written on on a boat where he was found hiding four days after twin blasts rocked the finish line of the April 15, 2013 race. Chakravarty's closing arguments were followed by those from Tsarnaev's defense lawyers, who have admitted that he took part in the bombings, in which three people died and 260 were hurt, and the killing of MIT police officer Sean Collier. Their goal is to save Tsarnaev's now 21, from execution, which, in the case of a conviction, would be considered in the trial's second phase.
The Australian, Military adviser Adam Cobb arrested in US on child pornography, April 6, 2015. A leading Australian military adviser who worked for the federal government, the RAAF and Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove in East Timor has been arrested in the U.S. on child pornography charges. Dr. Adam Cobb, 45, was working as a research professor and director at the prestigious U.S. Naval War College in Rhode Island. Cobb allegedly uploaded images of child pornography to the social networking site, Tumblr. Cobb (shown in a file photo) took up the position at the War College in June last year after holding senior military and government roles in Australia and the U.S., including a recent strategic policy and planning position at U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Florida. Educated at the University of Sydney, Australian National University and University of Cambridge, Cobb built a reputation as a leading military thinker. Cobb has also worked at the Australian Embassy in Washington DC and was on the staff of former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.
Washington Post, Technology aims to improve the voting experience, Amrita Jayakumar, April 5, 2015. It's not hard to envision a future where citizens wake up on Election Day, pull out their phones and choose the next leader of the Free World on the way to work. Last week, a federal election agency took a small step toward that futuristic vision. The Election Assistance Commission, a body created in the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election, approved a measure to update the guidelines against which manufacturers test electronic voting machines to make sure they are secure and accessible. "The guidelines we have now are so old that the iPhone hadn't even come out when they were written," said Christy McCormick, the commission's chairwoman. The updated guidelines will allow manufacturers to test machines against modern security and disability standards and get them certified for use by states ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
Editor's note: To learn of the great risks for the public in electronic voting, read such books as Code Red by Jonathan Simon; Grassroots, Geeks, Pros, and Polls by Marta Steele; Presidential Puppetry by this editor; and Matrix of Deceit by Richard Charnin. These help illustrate that top-level election administrators at key places and times have proven partisan and corrupt. Regulators have been weak, and reporters uninformed and timid. All have been highly deferential to high-tech solutions provided by powerful interests whose owners' motives are suspect and shrouded in secrecy.
Washington Post, Ex-Hill aide who admitted 2 assaults avoids jail after he becomes a victim, Keith L. Alexander, April 5, 2015. She sat in the back of the courtroom, wearing oversize black sunglasses, watching as the former Democratic congressional aide was sentenced for slipping a sedative into her drink and then raping her. It was the summer of 2010, and she had just arrived in Washington as a student intern. When they met, she believed Donny Ray Williams Jr., the longtime aide and former staff director for a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee, could help her find a job with Congress. But instead, she later told authorities, Williams drugged and assaulted her. In the letter, the woman asked that Williams, who pleaded guilty to assaulting her and another woman and threatening a third person, be given “some jail time.” The other two people were not present in court. But as part of the plea deal, prosecutors agreed to ask the judge to suspend a 4 1/2-year prison term, meaning Williams will remain free as long as he stays out of trouble. Though the man before them had committed serious offenses, a prosecutor said, he had also suffered as a victim of an unrelated crime. About a year after his arrest on the sex-assault charges, Williams was severely disfigured and badly injured after acid was thrown on his face. Authorities are still investigating the attack, and no arrests have been made. Judge Robert E. Morin said in court that he reluctantly agreed to suspend the prison term, noting he ultimately concluded the government’s reasoning was “practical and reasonable.”
Editor's Note: The plea deal and sentence suggest a double standard of justice for those who are well-connected and know many secrets, as indicated by the defendant's past posts: "Williams was a member of the staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs disaster recovery subcommittee from 2002 to 2007 and staff director for a subcommittee from April 2010 to July 2011. He began his Capitol Hill career in 1999 when he went to work for Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.). He went on to work for panels chaired by former senators Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.). He also said he worked for former senator Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Williams was tapped to work on the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which created the Homeland Security Department."
Reuters, Dozens killed in fighting near Yemen's Aden port, Mohammad Mukhashaf, April 5, 2015. Houthi fighters and allied army units clashed with local militias in the southern Yemeni city of Aden Sunday.The fighting has failed so far to inflict any decisive defeat on the Houthis, or the supporters of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh who are fighting alongside them. A senior Houthi member said Sunday the group is ready for peace talks as long as the Saudi-led air campaign is halted and negotiations are overseen by "non-aggressive" parties. The fighting is only one of many conflicts in the Arabian Peninsula's poorest nation. In the eastern coastal town of Mukalla, tribesmen deployed on the streets, pushing al Qaeda fighters out of much of the town just three days after the militants overran it.
Huffington Post, Israel Prepares Lobbying Strategy Against Iran Deal, Josepf Federman, April 5, 2015. An official Israeli analysis has drawn up a list of alleged shortcomings of the nuclear framework agreement between Iran and world powers, providing a basis for what is expected to be months of furious lobbying by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (shown in a file photo) to reshape or cancel the deal. Netanyahu, an outspoken critic of the negotiations with Iran, has already criticized the deal as insufficient. He is expected to lobby heavily against the framework deal as its language is finalized ahead of a June 30 agreement.
BBC, US ambassador barred from Prague Castle by Czech president, Staff report, April 5, 2015. Czech President Milos Zeman has said the US ambassador is not welcome at his Prague Castle residence, reports say. The apparent snub follows remarks by US envoy Andrew Schapiro seen as critical of the president's decision to attend forthcoming World War Two commemorations in Moscow. Because of this "the doors of the castle were closed" to Schapiro. Zeman continued, "I cannot imagine that the Czech ambassador in Washington would advise the US president where he should travel. And I will not allow any ambassador to have a say in my foreign travel plans."
Paul Craig Roberts.org, Guest Column by Julian Assange, April 4, 2015 There is a conspiracy. It is one much more vast than the Rothschilds and Bilderbergs. Julian Assange (shown last year in a file photo as a political refugee taking haven in Ecuador's embassy in Great Britain) describes it. This article shows how Google uses ads to control the content of websites. Here is another report on Google’s use of its adds to control website content.
WDBO-FM (Orlando, FL), Author interview: "Lee Harvey Oswald as I Knew Him," Pat Williams, April 4, 2015, published on April 12, 2015. Host Pat Williams interviews guest Dr. Michael Rinella, editor of the memoir Lee Harvey Oswald as I Knew Him. Rinella edited and annotated a previously unpublished manuscript by Dallas resident George de Mohrenschildt (1911-1977). Rinella since 1999 has been an acquiring editor at the State University of New York Press, where he has seen through to publication over four hundred works in the humanities and social sciences.
Washington Post, Sarah Brady, longtime advocate for gun-control measures, dies at 73, Jon Thurber, April 3, 2015. She was the widow of James Brady, the press secretary wounded in the attempt on President Reagan’s life.l
President Obama goes over his statement on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding Iran’s nuclear program that was decided in Lausanne, Switzerland, with Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, in the Oval Office, April, 2, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
New York Times, A Promising Nuclear Deal With Iran, Editorial Board, April 2, 2015. The preliminary agreement between Iran and the major powers is a significant achievement that makes it more likely Iran will never be a nuclear threat. President Obama said it would “cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.” Officials said some important issues have not been resolved, like the possible lifting of a United Nations arms embargo, and writing the technical sections could also cause problems before the deal’s finalization, expected by June 30. Even so, the agreement announced on Thursday after eight days of negotiations appears more specific and comprehensive than expected. It would roll back Iran’s nuclear program sufficiently so that Iran could not quickly produce a nuclear weapon, and ensure that, if Iran cheated, the world would have at least one year to take preventive action, including reimposing sanctions. In return, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations would lift sanctions crippling Iran’s economy, though the timing of such a move is yet another uncertainty.
Washington Post, Nuclear ‘framework’ reached, Sanctions would be lifted if Iran abides by limits, Carol Morello, April 2, 2015. Iran and world powers have agreed on parameters of a deal to be reached by June 30. Officials say it would sharply limit Iranian nuclear activities and sanctions would be lifted if Iran complies.
BBC, Yemen crisis: Rebels storm presidential palace in Aden, Staff report, April 3, 2015. Houthi rebels and their allies in Yemen have stormed the presidential palace in Aden following heavy clashes. The rebels pushed through to the heart of the port city using tanks and armoured vehicles, despite air strikes by a Saudi-led coalition. At least 44 people have been killed in the violence, including 18 civilians, according to AFP. The Saudi government says the aim of its operation in Yemen is to protect President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi's "legitimate government." It says it has no plans to deploy ground forces for now. Aden was President Hadi's last seat of power before he fled to Saudi Arabia last week, as the Shia rebels advanced on the city.
New York Times, Qaeda Militants Attack Port City in Yemen, Freeing Prisoners, Saeed Al-Batati and Kareem Fahim, April 2, 2015. Militants from Al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate stormed this southern port city early on Thursday, attacking several government buildings including the central prison, where they freed hundreds of inmates, according to residents. It appeared to be the first large-scale operation by the affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, since the beginning of a military offensive led by Saudi Arabia on Yemen more than a week ago, and a further expansion of the violence rapidly spreading across the country.
Washington Post, Menendez indictment marks first big corruption case involving a super PAC, Matea Gold, April 2, 2015. The federal bribery case against Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey marks the first time large-scale super PAC donations have figured prominently as evidence of a political corruption scheme, renewing questions about how truly independently such groups operate. The 22-count indictment against Menendez, shown in an official photo, and wealthy Florida opthalmologist Salomon Melgen hinges in part on $600,000 that Melgen gave to the Senate Majority PAC — a Democratic super PAC — earmarked to support the senator’s 2012 reelection.
Center for Public Integrity, Menendez's million-dollar defense, Embattled senator's legal bills already into seven figures — before federal indictment, Carrie Levine, April 1, 2105. When news broke last month on the Department of Justice’s plans to indict Sen. Robert Menendez on criminal corruption charges, the New Jersey Democrat signaled he would fight. From early 2013 through the end of 2014, Menendez reported spending more than $1.2 million on legal fees, using a combination of cash from his campaign committee, political action committee and a legal defense fund, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of federal documents.
Daily Mail, Canadian Teacher Jailed For 10 Years For Sexually Abusing Children In Jakarta Jakarta, Simon Tomlinson, April 2, 2015. A Canadian teacher was jailed for ten years today after being found guilty of sexually abusing children at an elite international school in Indonesia. Neil Bantleman, who also holds British nationality, was afforded one final kiss from his wife before being led away by police after the verdict was handed down. The sentence sparked outrage from his supporters, including the school itself and the international community, who insist he is innocent and expressed concern over the rule of law in Indonesia.
Washington Post, Nearly a dozen found guilty in Atlanta school cheating trial, Mark Berman, April 1, 2015. Dozens of former educators in the Atlanta school system had been indicted for racketeering.
Reuters via The Star, Nigeria's Buhari praises Jonathan for peaceful handover, Alexis Akwagyiram, April 1, 2015. Nigerian election winner Muhammadu Buhari (shown in a file photo) congratulated outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan for peacefully relinquishing power on Wednesday, a day after becoming the first politician in Nigeria's history to unseat a sitting leader at the ballot box. In an unprecedented step, Jonathan phoned Buhari to concede defeat and urged his supporters to accept the result, a signal of deepening democracy in Africa's most populous nation that few had expected. "President Jonathan was a worthy opponent and I extend the hand of fellowship to him," Buhari, told reporters and supporters to loud applause. The 72-year-old general, who first came to power three decades ago via a military coup, campaigned as a born-again democrat intent on cleaning up Nigeria's corrupt politics. Jonathan, wearing a hat, is also shown in a file photo.
Huffington Post, Going Back for Judas, Jeanne Bishop (shown in a file photo), April 1, 2015. Public defender, human rights activist, and author of "Change of Heart: Justice, Mercy, and Making Peace with My Sister's Killer." This country is one of the few in the world which locks up people who have done wrong at a young age forever. Almost 100 juvenile offenders are serving that sentence in my State of Illinois. Nationwide, there are estimated to be thousands of such prisoners languishing behind bars. This matters to me, this never turning back for those who have killed--or aided and abetted a killing, as Judas did. On the night before Palm Sunday twenty-five years ago, a juvenile murdered my sister Nancy Bishop Langert, her husband Richard and their unborn child. The killer was given a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for killing Nancy and Richard, and a discretionary sentence of natural life for killing their unborn baby. When he got that sentence, I was glad. It meant I never had to think about the murderer again. God would not let me. I tell the story of how that happened in my first book, just released, Change of Heart (Westminster John Knox Press).