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TBR News November 3, 2016

Nov 03 2016

A Compendium of Various Official Lies, Business Scandals, Small Murders, Frauds, and Other Gross Defects of Our Current Political, Business and Religious Moral Lepers.

“When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes… Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain.”- Napoleon Bonaparte, 1815


“Corrupted by wealth and power, your government is like a restaurant with only one dish. They’ve got a set of Republican waiters on one side and a set of Democratic waiters on the other side. But no matter which set of waiters brings you the dish, the legislative grub is all prepared in the same Wall Street kitchen”. – Huey Long


“I fired [General MacArthur] because he wouldn’t respect the authority of the President. That’s the answer to that. I didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that’s not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail “- Harry S Truman


“When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.” -Thomas Jefferson.


“Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage”

– H.L. Mencken


 “For a quarter of a century the CIA has been repeatedly wrong about every major political and economic question entrusted to its analysis.” 

-Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan

The New York Times, 1991.


Don’t tell a lie! Some men I’ve known
Commit the most appalling acts,
Because they happen to be prone
To an economy of facts;
And if to lie is bad, no doubt
’Tis even worse to get found out!


My children, never, never steal!
To know their offspring is a thief
Will often make a father feel
Annoyed and cause a mother grief;
So never steal, but, when you do,
Be sure there’s no one watching you.


The Wicked flourish like the bay,
At Cards or Love they always win,
Good Fortune dogs their steps all day,
They fatten while the Good grow thin.
The Righteous Man has much to bear;

      The Bad becomes a Bullionaire!

The Voice of the White House  

Washington, D.C.  November 3, 2016:”For some months, the American, and some foreign) media has been trashing Republican candidate Trump and extolling his rival as a Princess of Light, coming to save the nation. With the chilling realities of the Clinton gang’s operations becoming more and more public due to the release of tens of thousands of in-house secret communications, many are beginning to look upon Trump as the lesser of two evils. To be expected, the fierce media supporters of Clinton are howling with rage at her slipping numbers and blaming everyone else for growing public suspicions and obvious repulsion. The election will have serious negative social problems no matter who wins but if Clinton is defeated, we won’t have to worry about a global war erupting.”

What does it take to bring Hillary Clinton to justice? –

November 3, 2016

by Pepe Escobar


Virtually the whole planet holds its collective breath at the prospect of Hillary Clinton possibly becoming the next President of the United States (POTUS). How’s that humanly possible, as the (daily) Bonfire of The Scandals – relentlessly fed by WikiLeaks revelations and now converging FBI investigations – can now be seen from interstellar space?

It’s possible because Hillary Clinton, slouching through a paroxysm of manufactured hysteria, is supported by virtually the whole US establishment, a consensual neocon/neoliberalcon War Party/Wall Street/corporate media axis.

But History has a tendency to show us there’s always a straw that breaks the camel’s back.

This could be it – as revealed by WikiLeaks; March 2, 2015, the day when John Podesta wrote, “we are going to have to dump all those emails.”

That happened to be the exact same day it was revealed Hillary Clinton had used a personal email server as Secretary of State.

Yet this reveals only part of the puzzle. There’s got to be a response to Podesta’s email – which WikiLeaks may, or may not, leak in the next few days before the election. If the back and forth clearly shows intent (to mislead), then we’ve got a 100 percent smoking gun: the whole Clinton (cash) machine narrative – according to which Hillary just deleted “personal” emails – crumbles like the ultimate House of Cards.

Moreover, that would unveil what was from the start the privileged Clinton machine strategy: to thwart the subsequent internal State Dept. and FBI investigations.

As far as the Clinton machine is concerned, an interlocking influence peddling pile up is the norm. John Podesta also happens to be the founder of the Center for American Progress – a George Soros operation and prime recruiting ground for Obama administration officials, including US Treasury operatives who decided which elite Too Big To Fail (TBTF) financial giants would be spared after the 2008 crisis. DCLeaks.com, for its part, has connected Soros Open Society foundations to global funding rackets directly leading to subversion of governments and outright regime change (obviously sparing Clinton Foundation donors.)

Exceptional bananas, anyone?

The perfectly timed slow drip of WikiLeaks revelations, for the Clinton machine, feels like a sophisticated form of Chinese torture. To alleviate the pain, the relentless standard spin has been to change the subject, blame the messenger, and attribute it all to “evil” Russian hacking when the real source for the leaks might have come straight from the belly of the (Washington) beast.

At the Valdai discussion club last week, it took President Putin only a few sentences to debunk the whole Clinton machine narrative with a bang:

“Another mythical and imaginary problem is what I can only call the hysteria the USA has whipped up over supposed Russian meddling in the American presidential election. The United States has plenty of genuinely urgent problems, it would seem, from the colossal public debt to the increase in firearms violence and cases of arbitrary action by the police.You would think that the election debates would concentrate on these and other unresolved problems, but the elite has nothing with which to reassure society, it seems, and therefore attempt to distract public attention by pointing instead to supposed Russian hackers, spies, agents of influence and so forth.

I have to ask myself and ask you too: Does anyone seriously imagine that Russia can somehow influence the American people’s choice? America is not some kind of ‘banana republic’, after all, but is a great power. Do correct me if I am wrong.”

Reality, though, continues to insist on offering multiple, overlapping banana republic instances, configuring a giant black hole of transparency.

Anthropologist Janine Wedel has been one of the few in Clinton-linked US mainstream media acknowledging how Bill Clinton, while Hillary was Secretary of State, perfected his version of “philantro-capitalism” (actually a money laundering “pay to play” racket), a practice “by no means confined to the Clintons”.

And the racket prospered with inbuilt nuggets, such as Hillary being perfectly aware that prime Clinton Foundation donors Qatar and Saudi Arabia were also financing ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.

Huma, the Fall Princess

Now, less than a week before the election, we have come to the crucial juncture where the WikiLeaks revelations are merging with the FBI investigations – all three of them.

Exhibit A is this WikiLeaks bombshell; Peter Kadzik, who’s now in charge of the Department of Justice (DOJ) probe into the 650,000 emails found on the laptop shared by Clinton’s right-hand woman Huma Abedin and her estranged, pervert husband Anthony Wiener, is a Clinton asset.

Not only Kadzik was an attorney for Marc Rich when he was pardoned by Bill Clinton; Podesta – as also revealed by WikiLeaks – thanked Kadzik for keeping him “out of jail”; and it was Kadzik who gave Podesta a secret heads up on the Clinton email investigation.

The Clinton machine, starring a self-described virtuous Madonna, is actually a pretty nasty business. Huma and her family’s close connections to Saudi Arabia – and the Muslim Brotherhood – are legendary (that includes her brother Hassan, who works for Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi). Podesta, by the way, is a handsomely remunerated lobbyist for Saudi Arabia in Washington; that’s part of the Clinton Foundation connection.

Yet now, with Huma in the spotlight – still maintaining she didn’t know all those emails were in her and Wiener’s laptop – it’s no wonder Hillary has instantly downgraded her, publicly, to “one of my aides”. She used to be Hillary’s ersatz “daughter”; now she’s being framed as The Fall Princess.

And that brings us to the intersection of those three FBI investigations; on Hillary’s Subterranean Email Server (in theory closed by FBI’s Comey last summer); on the Clinton Foundation; and on Wiener’s sexting of minors. The FBI has been investigating the Clinton Foundation for over a year now. Let’s try to cut a long story short.

Follow the evidence

Last July, the DOJ – under Clinton/Obama asset Loretta Lynch – decided not to prosecute anyone on Emailgate. And yet FBI director Comey – who nonetheless stressed Hillary’s “extreme carelessness” – turbo-charged his no-denial mode on another investigation, as in the FBI “sought to refocus the Clinton Foundation probe.”

Soon we had Clinton Foundation FBI investigators trying to get access to all the emails turned over in the Emailgate investigation. The East District of New York refused it. Very important point; up to 2015, guess who was the US attorney at the East District; Clinton/Obama asset Lynch.

Enter an extra layer of legalese. Less than two months ago, the Clinton Foundation FBI investigators discovered they could not have access to any Emailgate material that was connected to immunity agreements.

But then, roughly a month ago, another FBI team captured the by now famous laptop shared by Huma and Wiener – using a warrant allowing only a probe on Weiner’s sexting of a 15-year-old girl. Subsequently they found Huma Abedin emails at all her accounts – from Humaabedin@yahoo.com to the crucial huma@clintonemail.com.  This meant not only that Huma was forwarding State Dept. emails to her private accounts, but also that Hillary was sending emails from the “secret” clintonemail.com to Huma at yahoo.com.

No one knew for sure, but some of these emails might be duplicates of those the Clinton Foundation FBI investigators could not access because of the pesky immunity agreements.

What’s established by now is that the metadata in the Huma/Wiener laptop was duly examined. Now picture both teams of FBI investigators – Clinton Foundation and pervert Wiener – comparing notes. And then they decide Huma’s emails are “relevant”.

Key questions apply; and the most pressing is how the emails were deemed “relevant” if the investigators could only examine the metadata. What matters is that Comey certainly was made aware of the content of the emails – a potential game-changer. That’s why one of my sources insists his decision to go public came from above.

The other key question now is whether the DOJ – via Kadzik? – will once again thwart another investigation, this time on the Clinton Foundation. Senior, serious FBI agents won’t take that – massive euphemism – kindly.

The FBI has been on the Clinton Foundation for over a year. Now, arguably, they are loaded with evidence – and they won’t quit. Winning the presidency now seems to be the least of Hillary Clinton’s Bonfire of Scandals’ problems.

Top DOJ official gave Clinton chair ‘heads up’ on email probe

November 2, 2016


A senior US Department of Justice (DOJ) official tasked with investigating Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized use of private email dropped the Democrat’s campaign team a “heads-up” on developments in the case last year.

The bombshell comes just days after Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik’s signature featured on a DOJ letterhead informing senators about a new probe into former Secretary of State Clinton’s private server use.

In the wake of the second FBI investigation into the email scandal, Kadzik issued letters reassuring Democratic senators the Department of Justice and intelligence service will “take appropriate steps as expeditiously as possible.”

His close relationship with the presidential candidate’s inner circle is now under scrutiny, however, after it emerged he sent Clinton campaign chair John Podesta an email last year tipping him off about a hearing regarding the long-running case.

In an email leaked by WikiLeaks and dated May 19, 2015, Kadzik sensationally warns Podesta about an “oversight hearing today where the head of our Civil Division will testify.”

“Likely to get questions on State Department emails,” he adds.

Kadzik also advises: “Another filing in the FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] went in last night or will go in this am that indicates it will be awhile (2016) before the State Department posts the emails.”

Podesta then forwards the email to a number of top Clinton aides, including director of communications Jennifer Palmieri, press secretary Brian Fallon and Cheryl Mills, warning them it poses “additional chances for mischief.”

The correspondence raises questions over Kadzik’s ability to remain impartial during the new investigation. Previous email leaks depict a close bond between Kadzik and Podesta, with Clinton’s campaign chair discussing dinner plans both at his home and a popular Washington restaurant.

Interestingly, Podesta has even credited Kadzik with keeping him out of jail. In 1998, Podesta made use of the lawyer’s services during the Monica Lewinsky investigation, Fox News reports.

In a 2008 email to Obama advisor Cassandra Butts, Podesta sings the lawyer’s praises, labeling him a “fantastic lawyer,” and recommends him for an unnamed job.

Kadzik’s past would also suggest he has worked closely with the Clinton family before, after he lobbied for tax evader Marc Rich, who was pardoned for his crimes on the last day of Bill Clinton’s presidency in 2001.

It comes as the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice, over an apparent failure to acknowledge FOIA documents concerned with former President Bill Clinton’s “secret meeting” with Attorney General Loretta Lynch earlier this year.

The ACLJ, which describes itself as a “constitutional law firm,” has accused the Department of Justice of ignoring their request and “unlawfully withholding records.”

The group has asked the Department to release “any and all records containing the names of any DOJ official, staff or employee who participated in any discussion” regarding the supposedly “social” chat between former President Bill Clinton and the attorney general.

The meeting at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in June sparked suggestions that the pair had discussed the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, something which Lynch later denied.

Israeli paper claims ‘paranoid’ Netanyahu feared US super-software was rigging votes on election day

November 2, 2016


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu allegedly told a reporter via phone on the day of parliamentary elections that there was a US-led conspiracy to remove him from power by means of “super-software” to locate voters, Haaretz reported.

According to the paper, Netanyahu spoke with “a senior Israeli journalist” on Election Day, March 17, 2015.

“I want to tell you that what’s happening today is election stealing,” the PM reportedly told the journalist on the phone.

“Nothing like this has ever happened in any democracy anywhere. Because you’re in the press, you didn’t report on this scandal here. I’m about to lose the election,” he added.

The reporter allegedly tried to assure Netanyahu that he was going to remain prime minister after the election, but Netanyahu replied: “I’m not.”

“The V15 movement [opposition group], backed by the American administration, brought software programs here… You know what I’m talking about. I don’t want to elaborate over the phone, OK? Super-software that locates voters,” he said, according to Haaretz.

“I want you to know that this is what happened,” the PM added.

Before hanging up, Netanyahu blasted the journalist and the whole Israeli media for turning its back on him.

“You won’t touch it. You aren’t handling [the story.] That’s why I’m going to lose the election,” the PM reportedly claimed.

Haaretz noted that the reporter sensed “paranoia” in the Israeli leader’s words about a Washington-led conspiracy against him.

Netanyahu has had a strained relationship with Obama’s administration, with Israel strongly opposing the US push for a Palestinian state and the lifting of sanctions on geopolitical rival Iran after the signing of a nuclear deal.

However, Netanyahu’s Likud party won the election, taking 30 seats in the Knesset, and later formed a coalition government, with Netanyahu remaining PM.

Netanyahu reportedly saw the success as his personal victory against the media, a senior Likud party member told Haaretz.

“You have to understand, the man was bracing for a loss. After the election, he got it into his head that he had won on his own, that he had vanquished, Arnon Mozes [publisher of the Yedioth Ahronoth daily, which strongly opposed Netanyahu], and the entire media establishment,” Mozes said.

After the vote, Netanyahu was trying to “change the balance, to gain control of the [media] business,” the source said, adding that he thinks PM believes that he “already handled” the print media with the founding of the Israel Hayom free daily newspaper back in 2007.

“Now he’s set his sights on commercial television in Israel… The barrier of his fear of the media, which accompanied him for years, has been broken,” the Likud politician said.

In response to accusations by Haaretz, Netanyahu’s office said that the paper was “biased and prejudiced” against the PM, blaming it for distorting reality.

“For years Haaretz has been the newspaper besmirching the IDF and Israel to the world, and which does not represent even a tiny fraction of the range of opinions held by the broad Israeli public,” it said.

Iraq ‘Ready For War’ With Turkey Over Who Should Control Mosul After Isis

November 2, 2016

by Patrick Cockburn

Unz Review

Iraq  and Turkey are threatening to go to war with each other over who should hold power in Mosul and the surrounding region after the defeat of Isis. Turkish tanks and artillery have deployed along the border and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said that while Iraq “did not want war with Turkey” it is ready to fight one if necessary.

The confrontation is sharpening as the Iraqi Army enters eastern Mosul and Shia militia known as the Hashd al-Shaabi advance towards the town of Tal Afar, threatening to cut Isis’s last escape route from Mosul to Syria. Turkey sees itself as the protector of the Sunni Arabs of Mosul and northern Iraq, a community left vulnerable by the likely defeat of Isis by Shia and Kurdish forces backed by US-led airpower.

The dependence of the anti-Isis forces on air strikes and drones was underlined on Wednesday when Iraqi Special Forces delayed their advance into east Mosul because high humidity and clouds made it difficult for aircraft to identify and attack targets on the ground. They had entered the industrial suburb of Gogjali on Tuesday and were Wednesday going from house to house looking for Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and booby traps.

The population of Mosul east of the Tigris River, which divides the city in half, has in the past consisted largely of well-educated professional people such as doctors and engineers, few of whom are likely to be sympathetic to Isis. Residents in the east say they expected Isis to withdraw to the western side of Mosul, which is more sympathetic to them, crossing the five bridges spanning the Tigris which, the residents say, have been rigged with demolition charges.

The Iraqi government reacted angrily to the possibility of Turkish intervention. “The invasion of Iraq will lead to Turkey being dismantled,” said Mr Abadi at a news conference in Baghdad on Tuesday. “We do not want war with Turkey, and we do not want a confrontation with Turkey, but if a confrontation happens, we are ready for it.” He added that Iraq would consider Turkey as an enemy and would deal with it as an enemy.

The exchange of abuse between Ankara and Baghdad continued on Wednesday when Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu denounced Mr Abadi as “weak”, asking: “If you have the strength, why did you surrender Mosul to terror organisations? If you are so strong, why has the PKK occupied your lands for years?” Earlier Turkey’s deputy prime minister Numan Kurtulmus had tried to lower the temperature by saying that the military build-up was a precaution and not a threat.

Iraqi leaders in Baghdad have long privately blamed Turkey for aiding or tolerating al-Qaeda-type movements like Isis which operated in Iraq, but the ill-will is now becoming more public on both sides. On 11 October President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a furious tirade against Mr Abadi, saying: “He insults me. You are not on the same level as me! You are not my equal! Scream all you want from Iraq! It will not change anything! We will do what we want to do.” On 23 October, Mr Erdogan further raised the stakes by asserting Mosul has historically belonged to Turkey and it should therefore play a role in determining its future.

Turkey already has 700 troops at a base in Bashiqa, north of Mosul, and has been training a Sunni Arab militia force of former policemen from Mosul numbering about 2,500. This force is probably not big enough to make Turkey a player in the struggle for the city and political observers in Irbil believe Turkey will not intervene militarily. But this could change if the Hashd attack Tal Afar, whose Turkman population is about 80 per cent Sunni and which is the home town of many Isis commanders, judges and religious police. Turkey would also be energised if the PKK was visibly benefiting from developments in and around Mosul. Another more cynical interpretation of Turkey’s focus on Mosul is that it is to divert attention from its muted response to the Syrian and Russian assault on East Aleppo.

The fall of Mosul is likely to give birth to a series of crises because the province of Nineveh, of which it is the capital, is a mosaic of warring sects and ethnic groups. After years of war these are divided by deep hatreds, with Yazidis, Kurds and Christians all accusing their Sunni Arab neighbours of complicity in Isis massacres. In Nineveh Plain most of the Sunni Arabs have fled into Mosul city fearing revenge from returning Christians and the Shabak minority who are largely Shia.

Revenge is taking place within sectarian and ethnic groups, some of whom joined Isis while others fought it. Amnesty International says that pro-Iraqi government Sunni tribal fighters taking part in the Mosul operation are carrying out revenge attacks on men and boys in “liberated” areas suspected of belonging to Isis. Fighters from the Sabawi tribe, originally from Mosul, are said by Amnesty to have illegally detained civilians, beaten them with metal rods, given them electric shocks and tied some of them to the bonnets of vehicles and paraded them through the streets while others were placed in cages, according to interviews with local officials and eyewitnesses. Many people displaced from Mosul and surrounding towns and villages say they will not return home until security is restored and this is still a long way off.

Turkey threatens to cancel EU migration deal

Turkey has threatened to end the EU migration deal unless visa-free travel is granted to Turkish citizens this year. But Brussels said Turks will need to get visas until Ankara addresses EU concerns on the rule of law.

November 3, 2016


Turkey will cancel a migration deal with the European Union if the bloc doesn’t grant visa-free travel to Turkish citizens by the end of the year, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday, a day after a top EU official suggested any visa deal was a long way off.

As part of an agreement clinched between Ankara and Brussels earlier this year, Turkey agreed to take back migrants in exchange for billions in aid money and visa-free travel to the EU for Turkish citizens.

After the EU repeatedly pushed back the date for visa-free travel amid concern over Turkey’s draconian anti-terror laws and erosion of rights in the country, Cavusoglu told the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” on Thursday that Ankara’s “patience was drawing to a close.”

The comments come a day after European Parliament’s Vice President Alexander Graf Lambsdorff said visa-free travel for Turkish citizens was even unlikely by 2017, due to the Turkish government’s wide-reaching crackdown and purges that have accelerated in the wake of July’s failed coup bid and state of emergency.

The crumbling of the migration deal would be a major blow to the EU, which has partially pinned its hopes on controlling a wave of migrants and refugees through the deal with Turkey.

Cavusoglu defended Turkey’s anti-terror laws and state of emergency, referring to actions of European countries like France, which has taken tough action following a series of terror attacks.

“If some European countries intensify their terrorist laws and at the same time urge Turkey to soften theirs, this would be understood by our people as a weakening of the fight against terror,” Cavusoglu said, pointing out the country is battling the “Islamic State” (IS), Kurdish militants and coup plotters.

On the issue of terrorism, Cavusoglu said, “We cannot make any concessions to the EU.”

As Turkey and the EU wrestle over visa-free travel and the future of the migration deal, Ankara has moved into northern Syria to block Kurdish advances and clear IS from the border.

The Turkish military and Syrian rebel-backed safe-zone may offer an opportunity for some refugees to return to Syrian territory, Cavusoglu said, pointing out the 5,000 refugees had already returned to the former IS bastion of Jarabulus.

“Other states pray that no refugees come to them,” Cavusolgu said. “If the refugees live in such a safe zone, then Europe will breathe easier.”

Over 900,000 Florida homes could be underwater from sea level rise

August 3, 2016

by Brian Bandell


One in eight Florida homes could be underwater by 2100 due to sea level rise, according to a study by Zillow, one of the most widely used real estate valuation sites.

The company’s analysis is based on new research in the scientific journal Nature that said sea levels could rise six feet by 2100, mostly due to melting Antarctic ice sheets. This more severe prediction puts even more homes in low-lying Florida at risk.

Sea level rise caused water to wash up all the way to road in Fort Lauderdale in 2012.

South Florida has many of the lowest areas of the state, especially along the coast. Already, some neighborhoods flood during king tide.

Of the1.87 million homes nationwide that would be underwater by 2100, there would be 934,411 in Florida. Those Florida homes would be worth a combined $416.6 billion, with a median value of $262,626, according to Zillow (Nasdaq: ZG).

“As we move through this century, homeowners will have to consider another factor when it comes to their homes – whether rising sea levels have any impact on them,” said Zillow Chief Economist Svenja Gudell. “It’s easy to think about how the ocean levels can affect the coasts in an abstract sense, but this analysis shows the real impact it will have on nearly two million homeowners — and most likely more by the time we reach 2100 — who could lose their homes.”

Now that Zillow has recognized sea level rise is a major concern, the question is how it will inform the prospective homebuyers on its website about the situation, said Albert Slap, president of Plantation-based Coastal Risk Consulting. His company owns FloodScores.com, which sells flood and sea level rise risk assessment reports for individual properties. Slap said he reached out to Zillow asking it to include his flooding risk rating as part of its “Zestimate” of future home values, but the company declined.

Some South Florida properties could be underwater within the next 30-year mortgage cycle, Slap said.

“If you believe that sea level rise is real and it will have an impact on properties going underwater, then how could you have tool that allows people to dial in an address and have a calculator for its value appreciation?” Slap said. “If you aren’t adjusting for the impact of climate change, then how accurate is it?”

Officials from Zillow didn’t respond to a request for comment on whether it would add sea level rise impacts to the Zestimate calculations.

Slap said the impact of sea level rise on properties can vary greatly by site, even within the same neighborhood. That’s because some properties have been built with higher elevations or could be near pumping stations. Older properties with low elevations in coastal areas, especially those with low seawalls, are most at risk, he said. He said that 200 miles of sea walls need to be raised in Fort Lauderdale alone, and only 5 percent are publicly owned.

Even some western cities, such as Doral, have experienced more flooding, Slap said. That’s because sea level rise pushes freshwater further inland, leaving less room for stormwater to be absorbed into the ground and runoff into canals.

Homeowners and condo associations need to start saving now so they can afford to fund sea level rise mitigation projects when the time comes, Slap said.

“Individual homeowners and businesses must own up to their share of this problem,” Slap said. “It’s not just the government will save us all.”

Veterans, Feeling Abandoned, Stand by Donald Trump

November 2, 2016

by Nicholas Confessore

New York Times

The roster of retired military officers endorsing Hillary Clinton in September glittered with decoration and rank. One former general led the American surge in Anbar, one of the most violent provinces in Iraq. Another commanded American-led allied forces battling the Taliban in Afghanistan. Yet another trained the first Iraqis to combat Islamic insurgents in their own country.

But as Election Day approaches, many veterans are instead turning to Donald J. Trump, a businessman who avoided the Vietnam draft and has boasted of gathering foreign policy wisdom by watching television shows.

Even as other voters abandon Mr. Trump, veterans remain among his most loyal supporters, an unlikely connection forged by the widening gulf they feel from other Americans.

After 15 years at war, many who served in Iraq or Afghanistan are proud of their service but exhausted by its burdens. They distrust the political class that reshaped their lives and are frustrated by how little their fellow citizens seem to understand about their experience.

Perhaps most strikingly, they welcome Mr. Trump’s blunt attacks on America’s entanglements overseas.

“When we jump into wars without having a real plan, things like Vietnam and things like Iraq and Afghanistan happen,” said William Hansen, a former Marine who served two National Guard tours in Iraq. “This is 16 years. This is longer than Vietnam.”

In small military towns in California and North Carolina, veterans of all eras cheer Mr. Trump’s promises to fire officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs. His attacks on political correctness evoke their frustrations with tortured rules of engagement crafted to serve political, not military, ends. In Mr. Trump’s forceful assertion of strength, they find a balm for wounds that left them broken and torn.

“He calls it out,” said Joshua Macias, a former Navy petty officer and fifth-generation veteran who lives in the Tidewater region of Virginia, where he organized a “Veterans for Trump” group last year. “We have intense emotion connected to these wars. The way it was politicized, the way they changed the way we fight in a war setting — it’s horrible how they did that.”

Now, as battlegrounds in the Middle East smoke and rumble once more, as V.A. wait times creep up instead of down, Mr. Trump’s candidacy — and its resonance among veterans — is helping expose the gulf of culture and class between many Americans and those who fight wars in their name.

There are 22 million living veterans in the United States, and many love or loathe Mr. Trump for the same reasons other Americans do. But polling, interviews with dozens of veterans and those who study their political views indicate a strong preference for Mr. Trump over Mrs. Clinton. He now leads Mrs. Clinton by 19 points among veterans registered to vote, while trailing her among all voters by three points, according to a Fox News poll released Oct. 18.

Veterans are more likely than other Americans to view Mr. Trump favorably, and less likely to rate Mrs. Clinton positively. In mid-October, 43 percent of veterans expressed a favorable view of him in a Gallup tracking poll, while just 30 percent saw Mrs. Clinton positively.

In interviews with more than three dozen veterans, many praised Mr. Trump for candidly criticizing the costs of war, an issue they see few politicians in either party taking on. And they are unconcerned with how or when he arrived at his positions.

“The Iraq war was a disaster,” said Dustin Stewart, a former Army captain and Iraq veteran. “He is at least not trying to tiptoe around it. And I think some of the other Republicans were afraid of it.”

Growing Military Caste

For decades, Americans who serve in the armed forces have been growing more segregated from their fellow countrymen. Fewer than 1 percent of Americans now serve in the military. Those who join are likely to have parents, uncles or aunts who served before them, forming a kind of military caste. And on the post-9/11 battlefields, lower-income and less-educated communities have shouldered a greater share of American casualties than in past wars — even Vietnam.

In the depths of the recession, veterans suffered higher than average unemployment. Career military retirees faced cuts to pensions after the sequester deal between President Obama and Congress, while other veterans endured long waits for the health care promised to them by the federal government.

Medical advances reduced battlefield deaths but also, paradoxically, made veterans’ sacrifice less visible to the public. They came home not in body bags but with missing limbs and traumatic brain injuries, leaving Americans less sensitive to the costs of further war, according to Douglas L. Kriner, a political scientist at Boston University who has studied post-9/11 veterans.

Nonfatal casualties seem to “not have the political punch that fatal casualties do,” Mr. Kriner said.

By the middle of Mr. Obama’s first term, the majority of post-9/11 veterans said they believed Americans did not understand military life, according to the Pew Research Center. Sixty percent said that the United States should pay less attention to problems overseas.

Some former and current military personnel have embraced libertarian candidates, such as Ron Paul, a former United States representative from Texas, who criticized American interventions abroad. In 2012, Mr. Paul raised more money from active-duty service members during the early phase of the campaign than all other Republican candidates combined, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Mr. Stewart grew up in a conservative family in Texas, where Rush Limbaugh’s show often played on the radio. In 2000, he cast a proud vote for George W. Bush. But six years later, he was leading an infantry platoon outside Ramadi, a hotbed of the insurgency then enveloping parts of Iraq. Mr. Stewart returned home alive but disillusioned. He supported Mr. Paul in the 2008 Republican primary race and Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee, in the 2012 election.

“I don’t want pity. I just want people to care,” said Mr. Stewart, adding, “Do you know what your politicians are sending us to do?”

‘A Breath of Fresh Air’

In mid-February, boos rang from the rafters of a performing arts center in Greenville, S.C. Mr. Trump, onstage with remaining rivals for the Republican nomination, had just committed what seemed like a major apostasy, assailing the Iraq war and attacking Mr. Bush with gusto. “They lied,” Mr. Trump said. “They said there were weapons of mass destruction — there were none and they knew there were none.”

His words startled the Republican establishment. But in the front row, Daniel Cortez nodded along. Mr. Cortez, a 65-year-old Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam, did not like everything about Mr. Trump. Yet he seemed to be speaking a different language, Mr. Cortez said in a recent interview, more like the one veterans themselves spoke. Mr. Trump argued for a military that was bigger and better equipped but also used more sparingly.

“Mr. Trump is a breath of fresh air because he is promoting peace through strength,” Mr. Cortez said.

For some conservative veterans, Mr. Trump’s criticisms of the Iraq war have allowed them to vent a stew of emotions: Relief and regret, bitterness and pride. They were repelled by liberal antiwar politics and felt little in common with the war’s most prominent critics. So they held back their misgivings for years, unable to admit to their friends and sometimes themselves that so much had been wasted.

“Nobody likes to say that George W. Bush was a bad president,” said David Fuqua, who spent four years in the Marines and served in Afghanistan in 2011. “Having to defend the rationale for the Iraq war for so long, and then to have someone on the stage talk about how it was a mistake, touched a real nerve.”

Mr. Trump’s national security proposals, some veterans supporting him acknowledged, are often vague or contradictory. But many heard in Mr. Trump’s voice a return to the days of big military budgets and boundless manpower. His sweeping denunciation of Washington elites echoed their own grumbling.

“They look at Clinton as a continuance of what we’ve had for the last 16 years through two administrations,” said Anthony Zinni, a retired Marine Corps general who led the United States Central Command in the late 1990s.

Where Mr. Bush acted rashly in sending troops into Iraq, some veterans said, the Obama administration had acted politically in pulling them out. When the black flags of the Islamic State rose over Falluja and Mosul two years ago, they recalled the sweat or blood they or their friends had shed there. Politicians had started the war, they felt, and politicians had lost it.

“This war became so politicized, so P.C.,” Mr. Hansen said. Mr. Trump might take them to war again, he had concluded, but Mr. Trump would not hold them back.

“Under George, all we could do was straight right hooks and a couple of uppercuts,” Mr. Hansen said. “When Obama took over, we could only do straight lefts — and we had to say ‘we’re going to punch you’ first.”

‘I Think He’s Genuine’

In 2010, in a bloodily contested river valley in southern Afghanistan, Michael Verardo stepped on an old Russian-made land mine wired to two jugs packed with explosives, rocks and nails. He lost most of his leg immediately. To save his left arm, medics sewed it temporarily onto his back.

Three years ago, Mr. Verardo and his wife, Sarah, moved to North Carolina, where the winters are easier. Though he has two Purple Hearts, it sometimes takes months for him to get an appointment with a neurologist at the V.A.

This summer, at Mr. Trump’s invitation, the family flew to Cleveland for the Republican National Convention. On the first night, Mr. Verardo and his wife sat in the V.I.P. box with Mr. Trump’s family. Mr. Trump seemed to understand, Mr. Verardo recalled. Maybe he would be different.

“I think he’s genuine,” Mr. Verardo said.

One of Mr. Trump’s earliest policy speeches, last October, offered a plan that would allow federal officials to more freely fire and discipline V.A. employees. After the V.A. scandal two years ago, when investigations revealed widespread delays and the deaths of some veterans while waiting for care, public employee unions fiercely oppose such measures.

Mrs. Clinton, who has her own plan for improving V.A. care, said last year that the scandal had “not been as widespread as it has been made out to be.”

“Trump was the first guy to recognize the populist appeal of this problem,” said Paul J. Rieckhoff, the chief executive of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Mr. Trump’s veterans notice how often he professes his love for them on the stump. They take note when decorated ex-soldiers introduce him at events. When Mr. Trump decided to skip a Republican debate last winter in Iowa, he substituted a telethon to raise money for veterans organizations. So what if Mr. Trump took months to disgorge the money: Name another candidate in the race, they said, who had bothered to raise millions of dollars for veterans.

Mr. Trump has “an empathy and a sentiment about what the military has been through, the low morale,” said Howie R. Lind, a Republican activist and former Navy commander who lives in Northern Virginia.


From the FAS Project on Government Secrecy

Volume 2016, Issue No. 89

November 3, 2016


The newly updated edition of the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms includes a new entry for “Improvised Nuclear Device.”

It is defined as “A device incorporating fissile materials designed or constructed outside of an official government agency that has, appears to have, or is claimed to be a nuclear weapon that is no longer in the control of a competent authority or custodian or has been modified from its designated firing sequence.”

The 400-page DoD Dictionary, now updated through 15 October 2016, is a useful reference for interpreting specialized military terminology and for decoding current acronyms, which are listed in a 120-page Appendix. But it is also a reflection of current DoD concerns and priorities.

Another new entry in the latest edition is for “resilience,” which here means “The ability of an architecture to support the functions necessary for mission success with higher probability, shorter periods of reduced capability, and across a wider range of scenarios, conditions, and threats, in spite of hostile action or adverse conditions.”

The update replaces prior editions which were designated Joint Publication 1-02. For unknown reasons, the JP 1-02 document format has been abandoned in the new edition, which is simply entitled DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms.


“Numerous” legal challenges to state election laws have been filed during the last few weeks and months, a new report from the Congressional Research Service found, generating new judicial interpretations of those laws.

“For example, there have been recent court rulings affecting the laws regulating early voting, voter photo identification (ID) requirements, registration procedures, straight-party voting, and voter rolls. Accordingly, many such laws have been recently invalidated, enjoined, or altered. Others continue to be subject to litigation.”

The current state of affairs was reviewed in Recent State Election Law Challenges: In Brief by legislative attorney L. Paige Whitaker, November 2, 2016.

Another new CRS report discussed pending efforts in Congress to reconfigure Department of Defense partnerships with foreign military services. See Security Cooperation: Comparison of Proposed Provisions for the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), November 1, 2016.

A federal court for the first time upheld the use of the “social cost of carbon” (SCC) in a cost-benefit analysis by a federal agency, another CRS publication observed. The SCC is a monetary estimate of economic damages that are associated with an incremental increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. See Courts Evaluate How Federal Agencies Put a Price on Carbon, CRS Legal Sidebar, November 1, 2016.

Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

Foreign Aid and the Education Sector: Programs and Priorities, November 2, 2016

Funding and Financing Highways and Public Transportation, November 1, 2016

Extraterritorial Application of American Criminal Law, updated October 31, 2016

Sheldon Adelson Fights Marijuana Legalization While Funding Pro-Marijuana Research

November 2 2016

by Naomi LaChance

The Intercept

Sheldon Adelson, the politically influential billionaire and Donald Trump supporter, is bankrolling the fight against marijuana legalization measures on several state ballots this year. Meanwhile, Adelson the philanthropist gave money to research that supports the medical use of marijuana.

The casino magnate has donated $2 million to Protect Nevada’s Children PAC, $1 million to Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, and $500,000 to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, to oppose ballot measures that would legalize recreational use in those states, and $1.5 million to the Drug Free Florida Committee, which opposes a measure to legalize medical use there.

But several studies conducted by researchers at the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Center for the Biology of Addictive Diseases at Tel Aviv University have highlighted cannabis’ potential to treat certain degenerative diseases.

A 2013 study conducted by researchers from the center found that two parts of cannabis, THC and CBD, could help regulate inflammation in patients with autoimmune diseases, particularly multiple sclerosis. A 2011 study had similar findings.

“It has become a ‘political plant and subject,’ and it even affects getting funds sometimes for research on it,” Ewa Kozela, co-author of the studies, told The Intercept in an email.

“I did my Ph.D. on morphine which is the main active chemical of opium, extract of poppy plant,” she added. “Now morphine is one of the most potent pain killers used in medicine although its use is (and should be) strictly controlled. I wish cannabis the same future.”

A 2004 study at the Miriam & Sheldon G. Adelson Clinic for Drug Abuse in Tel Aviv — coauthored by Miriam herself — found no adverse effects of cannabis use on methadone maintenance treatment for painkiller and heroin addicts. By contrast, a 2008 study, also coauthored by Miriam, reported that “cannabis abuse” on admission at their Las Vegas clinic led to people abandoning the methadone treatment earlier.

The Adelsons were both involved in drug addiction issues before they met each other in 1988. Miriam was already respected in her career as an internist with a specialty in drug addiction. Sheldon was involved in drug addiction advocacy. His two sons suffered from drug addiction; the younger, Mitchell, died of an overdose in 2005 at age 48.

In 1993, the couple opened the Miriam & Sheldon G. Adelson Clinic for Drug Abuse, Treatment & Research in Tel Aviv. In 2000, they opened a clinic with the same name in Las Vegas. The clinics treat painkiller and opiate addiction.

“What is true is that when we met, on a blind date, we had a subject in common to talk about — but forget it, the subject is very painful for him,” Miriam told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in 2008.

Despite the findings from research he sponsored, Sheldon Adelson spent $5.5 million opposing a medical marijuana measure in Florida in 2014.

Kozela said that Adelson’s politics have not affected her research. “My impression is that all this time we were just given trust and all the freedom required to carry on with our interests and curiosity. But again, as you see, it gets political all the way, everyone interprets it the way he wants to see it,” she said.

Adelson did not reply to The Intercept’s request for comment.

“Pro marijuana folks have awoken a sleeping giant in Sheldon and Miriam Adelson,” Andy Abboud, vice president of Adelson’s casino company, Las Vegas Sands, told the Associated Press in 2014.

Ben Pollara, campaign manager for Florida medical marijuana group United for Care, told The Intercept he can’t understand Adelson’s intentions. “Certainly the folks who have an incentive to oppose this kind of stuff are people with interest in the rehab-industrial complex, because marijuana prohibition feeds a lot of clientele into those businesses,” Pollara added, referring to people who are court ordered to attend a rehabilitation program.

The pharmaceutical industry has been opposed to marijuana legalization as well.

As my colleague Lee Fang reported, Insys Therapeutics Inc., which donated $500,000 against the legalization of marijuana in Arizona, is developing synthetic THC. The alcohol industry is also spending against legalization.

“We’ve definitely seen a more active opposition from the pharma industry,” Amanda Reiman, manager of marijuana law and policy at the Drug Policy Alliance, told The Guardian, adding that medical marijuana patients are frequently substituting pharmaceuticals for marijuana.

“I wish [Adelson] would find a better use of his time and money than opposing marijuana reform initiatives,” Pollara said. He added: “Marijuana has never taken a single life from an overdose, and you can’t say that about basically anything in your medicine cabinet.”

What’s really keeping college graduates on the lower rungs of the wealth ladder

November 2,2016

by Danielle Douglas-Gabriel

Washington Post

The meteoric rise of student debt has given way to contentious debates over its impact on homeownership among recent college graduates, but a new report from Fitch Ratings shows that education loans, while significant, are not the only barrier.

The credit rating agency examined economic headwinds influencing home buying decisions for people ages 18 to 35, concluding that stagnant wages, appreciation in home prices, conservative lending and rising student loan balances are all making it difficult for millennials to create wealth though homeownership. No one factor accounts for waning purchases, but student debt is complicating the process.Fitch compared two hypothetical college graduates with the same income and expenses, except one has a monthly student loan bill of $203 — the median payment according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Based on an average, 30-year fixed-mortgage rate of 3.5 percent as a benchmark, the buyer with the education debt could afford about $45,000 less than the home buyer without debt, according the credit rating agency. The higher the student debt, the lower the mortgage capacity.

“It’s not just about student loans . . . but it does translate into some material reduction in how much can be financed by a first-time buyer,” said Bill Warlick, a senior analyst at Fitch. “You combine the fact they can afford less with some tougher underwriting conditions, it certainly suggests there will be some drag on first-time homeownership rates for younger people for some time.”

The delay in homeownership is especially concerning to Fitch because of the role housing plays in wealth creation. Home equity has historically been the greatest contributor to lifetime wealth creation for Americans, not to mention a critical driver of consumer spending. It accounted for roughly 70 percent of the total net worth of homeowners 65 and older in 2011, according to the most recent data from the Census Bureau. That may change over the next 20 years if fewer young people buy homes or delay the purchase, Fitch said. And the long-term financial impact of foregone home-equity creation could be significant.

Millennials are on a path to wealth creation filled with obstacles. While nominal wages for recent university graduates climbed 13 percent between 2007 and 2015, rents across the country rose 22 percent and average student loan balances soared 60 percent during the same period, according to the report. High rents and debt payments eat away at the discretionary income needed to save for a down payment, as does sluggish income growth. It’s no wonder homeownership has declined the most among people under 35, falling from 41 percent in 2000 to 34 percent this year, according to census data.

First-time buyers in some larger urban markets must also contend with rising home prices, upping the amount of money needed to enter the market. Buyers can take advantage of federal programs that require as little as 3.5 percent of the cost of the home, but mortgage insurance and fees can offset the benefits of these loans. Small down payments also result in higher mortgage borrowing and debt burdens for first-time buyers with student loans, Fitch said.

Redfin chief economist Nela Richardson, however, said the low-down-payment programs offered by the Federal Housing Administration and others are a viable option for young buyers. She said the real estate brokerage firm is noticing more first-time buyers finding success gaining entry into the market through such programs.

“There are rays of light shining through the darkness,” she said. “We’ve opened the blinds, but we haven’t opened the windows.”

Education loans also factor into the debt-to-income ratio that lenders use to determine eligibility for a mortgage. Federal rules that took effect a few years ago restrict lenders from extending mortgages to buyers whose total monthly debt exceeds 43 percent of their monthly gross income. Based on that ratio, a college graduate with $30,000 in student debt would have trouble purchasing a home a few years out of school in a standard repayment plan. The higher the monthly student loan payments, the more difficult it is to qualify for a mortgage, said Grant Bailey, managing director at Fitch.

Yet an analysis by University of Michigan economics professor Susan Dynarski concluded that by the time graduates hit their 30s, when many people finish paying off their college loans, their chances of buying a house are about the same as graduates without debt. That observation is consistent with findings from Fannie Mae that said older millennials (those over 28) are purchasing homes at a faster pace as the housing market continues to recover.

“Older millennials are starting to catch up,” Richardson said. “One of the key reasons is 2012 was the armpit of the housing market, where people were able to buy at the bottom of the market, so those 28- to 34-year-olds were in the right place at the right time to take advantage.”

Credit scores, she said, are weighing more heavily in lending decisions than student loan burdens. Fitch noted that FICO scores for first-time buyers hover above the 720 to 730 range that was typical before the 2008 financial crisis, though credit scores appear to be heading back toward historical averages.

“The upshot is: pay your student loan on time every month if you plan on being a homeowner,” Richardson said.

Why the Student Loan Crisis Is Even Worse Than People Think

January 11, 2016

by Mark Kantrowitz


More than 25% of students who take on college debt are graduating with way too much of it, this leading expert says. And the repercussions could be lifelong.When discussing the student debt crisis, most people focus on the rapid growth in outstanding debt and several recent milestones. For example, student loan debt exceeded credit card debt in 2010 and auto loans in 2011, and it passed the $1 trillion mark in 2012.

But these milestones don’t tell us much about the impact of all that debt on the students who must borrow to pay for a college education.

Average student loan debt at graduation has been growing steadily over the last two decades. In 1993-94, about half of bachelor’s degree recipients graduated with debt, averaging a little more than $10,000. This year, more than two-thirds of college graduates graduated with debt, and their average debt at graduation was about $35,000, tripling in two decades.

Student loan debt is increasing because government grants and support for postsecondary education have failed to keep pace with increases in college costs. This has shifted much of the burden of paying for college from the federal and state governments to families. The government no longer carries its fair share of college costs, even though it gets a big increase in income tax revenue from college graduates.

Since family income has been flat since 2000, students must either borrow more to pay for college or enroll in lower-cost colleges. That shift in enrollment, from private colleges to public colleges and from four-year colleges to two-year ones, has also been responsible for a decline in bachelor’s degree attainment among low- and moderate-income students.

What the Numbers Really Say

In a recent policy paper, I defined student loan debt as affordable if half of the after-tax increase in income that a student gains from obtaining a college degree is sufficient to repay that student’s loans in 10 years or less.

For example, the average starting salary for a bachelor’s degree recipient in the humanities was about $45,000 in 2015, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. That compares with about $30,000 in average income for high-school graduates—or a $15,000 difference. After considering taxes, the net increase is about $9,000. Half of that ($4,500) is about 10% of gross income and would be enough to repay roughly $35,000 in student loans over a 10-year repayment term. This is also consistent with my rule of thumb that total student loan debt at graduation should be less than the borrower’s annual starting salary.

Given this definition of affordable debt, I analyzed data from the Baccalaureate & Beyond Longitudinal Study and found that the percentage of bachelor’s degree recipients graduating with excessive debt grew from 9.8% in 1993-94 to 14.4% in 2007-08. If the percentage has continued to grow at the same rate, about 16.7% of college graduates are now graduating with excessive debt.

However, even this percentage underestimates the problem. That’s because it includes all students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree—even those without any debt at all. If we look only at students who borrow to attend college, it appears that more than a quarter (27.2%) of them are graduating with excessive debt.

The Lasting Impact on Students’ Lives

I also found that students who graduate with excessive debt are about 10% more likely to say that it caused delays in major life events, such a buying a home, getting married, or having children. They are also about 20% more likely to say that their debt influenced their employment plans, causing them to take a job outside their field, to work more than they desired, or to work more than one job.

Perhaps not surprisingly, they are also more likely to say that their undergraduate education was not worth the financial cost.

Unfortunately, there are no similar studies that can be used to analyze excessive debt for other college degrees, such as associate degrees, certificates, and graduate or professional-school degrees. It is also not possible to evaluate the financial impact of student loan debt on students who drop out of college, even though they are four times more likely to default on their loans.

What Can Be Done?

Increasing national awareness of college spending is the first step in exercising restraint. It is therefore imperative that the federal government and the colleges and universities begin tracking the percentage of their students who are graduating with excessive debt each year. This information can then be used to improve student loan counseling.

Colleges must also be given better tools to limit student borrowing. For example, college financial aid administrators must be permitted to reduce federal loan limits based on the student’s enrollment status and academic major. Students who are enrolled half-time should not be able to borrow the same amount as students who are enrolled full-time.

Finally, our colleges must also help students better understand the debt they are taking on, by making the distinction between loans and grants clearer in their financial aid award letters.






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