Editor’s Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative October 2016 news and views
Washington Post, Trump Foundation ordered to stop fundraising by N.Y. attorney general’s office, David A. Fahrenthold, Oct. 3, 2016. The New York attorney general has notified Donald Trump that his charitable foundation is violating state law — by soliciting donations without proper certification — and ordered Trump’s charity to stop its fundraising immediately, the attorney general’s office said Monday. James Sheehan, head of the attorney general’s charities bureau, sent the “notice of violation” to the Donald J. Trump Foundation on Friday, according to a copy of the notice provided by the press office of state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D). The night before that, The Washington Post reported that Trump’s charity had been soliciting donations from other people without being properly registered in New York state.
According to tax records, Trump’s foundation has subsisted entirely on donations from others since 2008, when Trump gave his last personal donation. This year, the Trump Foundation made its most wide-ranging request for donations yet: It set up a public website, donaldtrumpforvets.com, to gather donations that Trump said would be passed on to veterans’ groups.
But the Trump Foundation never registered under article 7A of New York’s Executive Law, as is required for any charity soliciting more than $25,000 a year from the public. One important consequence: Trump’s foundation avoided rigorous outside audits, which New York law requires of larger charities that ask the public for money.
“The Trump Foundation must immediately cease soliciting contributions or engaging in any other fundraising activities in New York,” Sheehan wrote to the foundation, of which Trump himself is still president. The Trump Foundation has no paid employees, and its board consists of Trump, three of his children and one Trump Organization employee. They all work one half-hour per week, according to the charity’s most recent IRS filings.
Schneiderman ordered the Trump Foundation to supply the state, within 15 days, with all the legal paperwork required of charities that solicit money from the public.
In addition, Sheehan ordered that Trump’s foundation provide all the financial audit reports it should have provided in prior years, when it raised money without legal permission. He said that if Trump’s foundation did not stop its fundraising and file the proper paperwork, that would be considered “a continuing fraud upon the people of New York.”
Huffington Post, Donald Trump’s Creepy Ogling Of His Daughter Happened More Than You Think, Paige Lavinder, Oct. 3, 2016. The GOP nominee made references to Ivanka’s looks while talking about the women on “The Apprentice.”
An Associated Press report published Monday details the sexism female contestants and crew experienced from Trump while working on the show. Eight former “Apprentice” crew members told the AP Trump once compared a camerawoman’s beauty to his daughter’s, making repeated comments about the camerawoman’s behind.
A former contestant on the show, Poppy Carlig, said Trump once asked her to twirl in front of him so he could look at her figure. “I don’t immediately jump to the conclusion that people are having bad intentions with what they are saying,” Carlig told the AP. “He said I reminded him of his daughter and I thought that was really touching because I know how much he values his family.” Trump has made a slew of questionable comments about his daughter’s looks over the years, saying on ABC’s “The View” in 2006 that “if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps, I would be dating her.”
Fox News, ‘Specific info’ forces WikiLeaks to move anticipated announcement to Berlin, Staff report, Oct. 3, 2016. Julian Assange canceled a dramatic London balcony address on Tuesday in favor of a video presentation in Berlin after WikiLeaks developed “specific information” regarding Assange’s safety, the leaked emails clearinghouse tweeted on Monday afternoon. Some believe the video announcement by the WikiLeaks founder could be an “October surprise” geared towards the U.S. presidential election. Supporters of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump have said they believe the announcement will be damaging to the candidacy of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Assange, 45, who has lived in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for five years as officials in Sweden have sought him on criminal charges, is set to address supporters in Berlin via a video link at 3 a.m. ET. “I don’t want to give it away,” Assange told Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly in August, when he indicated he had a major scoop that could influence the race. “But it’s a variety of documents, from different types of institutions that are associated with the election campaign, some quite unexpected angles, some quite interesting, some even entertaining.”
In a subsequent interview with Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity last month, Assange said his next round of revelations was coming “reasonably soon.”
Assange has already played a key role in the presidential race, with the release of 20,000 internal emails that indicated the Democratic National Committee appeared to conspire to prevent Bernie Sanders from winning the nomination. Those revelations surfaced in August, just before the party’s convention, proving embarrassing to Clinton’s campaign. They also led to the resignation of DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Though no recent public revelations directly tie to Assange’s security fears, various U.S. officials and pundits have made threatening statements directed at him in the past. WikiLeaks on Monday tweeted an alleged quote from a 2010 State Department meeting at which then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked if Assange could be killed in a drone strike. That same year, former Democrat strategist Bob Beckel said on Fox News Channel that “a dead man can’t leak stuff.”
Assange also has hinted that deceased DNC staffer Seth Rich may have been a source for WikiLeaks. Rich, 27, was found with multiple gunshot wounds to the back at a Washington, D.C., intersection in July. He died soon thereafter. Authorities believe Rich was the target of a botched robbery, but his death has inspired conspiracy theories.
Washington Post, Trump campaign reels after disclosure of 1995 tax returns, Philip Rucker and Jenna Johnson, Trump supporters defend the GOP nominee as a ‘genius’ with taxes. Capping a tough week for the GOP nominee, he was revealed to have declared a $916 million loss, which could have allowed him to avoid paying federal taxes for 18 years. Top surrogates called him “a genius” with taxes, though no one — including the campaign — disputed the tax disclosures.
Washington Post, New York Times risks legal trouble by publishing tax returns, Callum Borchers, Oct. 2, 2016. Dean Baquet wasn’t bluffing. The New York Times executive editor said during a visit to Harvard in September that he would risk jail to publish Donald Trump’s tax returns. He made good on his word Saturday night when the Times published Trump tax documents from 1995, which show the Republican presidential nominee claimed losses of $916 million that year — enough to avoid paying federal income taxes for as many as 18 years afterward.
Federal law makes it illegal to publish an unauthorized tax return:
“It shall be unlawful for any person to whom any return or return information (as defined in section 6103(b)) is disclosed in a manner unauthorized by this title thereafter willfully to print or publish in any manner not provided by law any such return or return information. Any violation of this paragraph shall be a felony punishable by a fine in any amount not exceeding $5,000, or imprisonment of not more than 5 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution.”
Baquet said during a panel discussion at Harvard that if the Times’ lawyers advised him not to publish Trump tax returns, he would argue that such information is vital to the public interest because the real estate mogul’s “whole campaign is built on his success. It is unclear whether Baquet was speaking hypothetically at the time or whether his newspaper already was in possession of the documents published Saturday. The Times wrote that “the pages were mailed last month to Susanne Craig, a reporter at the Times who has written about Mr. Trump’s finances. The documents were the first page of a New York state resident income tax return, the first page of a New Jersey nonresident tax return and the first page of a Connecticut nonresident tax return.”
Washington Post, As news of Trump’s taxes breaks, he goes off script at a rally in Pennsylvania, Jenna Johnson, Oct. 2, 2016. Donald Trump’s campaign announced Saturday evening that the candidate would soon deliver a nine-sentence critique of comments Hillary Clinton made months ago about many of the millennials supporting her primary rival, Bernie Sanders. It was an attempt to latch onto a new headline in hopes of finally escaping the controversies that had consumed his week.
It didn’t work. It took Trump nearly 25 minutes to read the brief statement because he kept going off on one angry tangent after another — ignoring his teleprompters and accusing Clinton of not being “loyal” to her husband, imitating her buckling at a memorial service last month, suggesting that she is “crazy” and saying she should be in prison. He urged his mostly white crowd of supporters to go to polling places in “certain areas” on Election Day to “watch” the voters there. He also repeatedly complained about having a “bum mic” at the first presidential debate and wondered if he should have done another season of “The Apprentice.”
As Trump ranted in this rural Pennsylvania town, the New York Times reported it had anonymously received Trump’s 1995 income tax returns, which show he declared a loss of $916 million — a loss that he could use to avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years.
Washington Post, Following Trump tax revelations, voters in Toledo question his business acumen, David Weigel and Jenna Johnson, Oct. 2, 2016. John Gillespie dug into his omelet with one hand and flipped through the Toledo Blade with the other. The news that Donald Trump had declared a $916 million loss in his 1995 tax return, and may have avoided paying income taxes for as many as 18 years, had made it to the front page of the local newspaper. Gillespie, 52, struggled to make sense of it.
“This was in 1995?” he asked, looking up from the diner counter. “This was during an economic upturn — and he managed to lose $916 million?” The tool and die maker, who had voted for Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Democratic primary, started to laugh. “That tells me a lot about his economic skills.”
The story, first published by the New York Times late Saturday and not denied by a flustered Trump campaign, represented a piece of a holy grail that Hillary Clinton had sought for months. The Democratic nominee, who is making her first campaign stop in this city on Monday, has struggled to convince many traditionally Democratic voters that outwardly successful Trump is not to be trusted and poses a threat to their livelihoods.
The revelations about the Republican nominee’s taxes gave Clinton a fresh opportunity. In conversations around Toledo, many voters said they were offended by Trump. “It’s disgusting,” said Steve Crouse, 65, the owner of Toledo’s downtown Glass City Cafe and a separate printing business. “As a businessman, he’s got that right to do that. It’s the way the laws were set up. But it’s not right. I would feel guilty if I didn’t pay anything. It’s flat-out cheating the government. You’re using all the roads, the fire department, the police, so you should pay for that.”
Washington Post, In stunning vote, Colombians reject peace deal with FARC rebels, Nick Miroff, Oct. 2, 2016. Voters rejected the historic deal by a razor-thin margin in a Brexit-style backlash that few were expecting. The outcome throws the peace process into chaos and threatens to prolong the 52-year armed conflict. After nearly six years of negotiations, many handshakes and ceremonial signatures, a half-century war that has killed 220,000 and displaced 7 million Colombians from their homes is not over.
The conservative Weekly Standard portrayed (and opposed) GOP presidential contender Donald Trump earlier this year during the party’s 2016 primaries.
New York Times, Trump Tax Records Obtained by The Times Reveal He Could Have Avoided Paying Taxes for Nearly Two Decades, David Barstow, Susanne Craig, Russ Buettner and Megan Twohey, Oct. 1, 2016. The Republican nominee reported nearly $1 billion in losses in 1995, opening the door to tax avoidance in subsequent years. Donald J. Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, records obtained by The New York Times show.
The 1995 tax records, never before disclosed, reveal the extraordinary tax benefits that Mr. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, derived from the financial wreckage he left behind in the early 1990s through mismanagement of three Atlantic City casinos, his ill-fated foray into the airline business and his ill-timed purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.
Tax experts hired by The Times to analyze Mr. Trump’s 1995 records said that tax rules especially advantageous to wealthy filers would have allowed Mr. Trump to use his $916 million loss to cancel out an equivalent amount of taxable income over an 18-year period.
Huffington Post, Donald Trump reportedly tried to get Marla Maples in Playboy, Sam Stein, Oct. 1, 2016. In an apparent pique on Friday morning, Donald Trump lashed out on Twitter against Alicia Machado― the former Miss Universe winner who has become a forceful critic of the GOP presidential nominee ― accusing her of, among other things, appearing in a sex tape. Before running for office, Trump showed little disgust with women appearing in pornography. He bragged about watching Paris Hilton’s sex tape with his wife, Melania Trump. And while dating his soon-to-be-second wife Marla Maples in 1990, he reportedly encouraged her to appear in Playboy.
Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said Trump was “polite and a gentleman” because he did not follow through on his threat to seat Gennifer Flowers, a former girlfriend of Bill Clinton, in the front row at the debate. Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s closest advisers, said Hillary Clinton was “too stupid to be president” if she hadn’t realized all along that Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern, was telling the truth. As mayor of New York, Giuliani carried on his own very public extramarital affair, which cast a shadow over his administration.
Washington Post, ‘Finally. Someone who thinks like me,’ Stephanie McCrummen, Oct. 1, 2016. In the age of Donald Trump and online conspiracy theories, how one voter came to believe in what’s being said in the dark corners of the Internet about President Obama and Hillary Clinton — and how Trump will rescue the United States. In a living room in western Pennsylvania, the Republican National Convention was on TV, and Melanie Austin was getting impatient. “Who’s that guy?” she said, watching some billionaire talk about prosperity and tolerance. “Prosperity and tolerance? Forget that sh–.”
She lit a cigarette. Her boyfriend, Kevin Lisovich, was next to her on the couch, drifting to sleep, a pillow over his head. On the ottoman was her cellphone, her notes on the speakers so far — “LOCK HER UP!!” she had written — and the anti-anxiety pills she kept in a silver vial on her keychain.
She was a 52-year-old woman who had worked 20 years for the railroad, had once been a Democrat and was now a Republican, and counted herself among the growing swath of people who occupied the fringes of American politics but were increasingly becoming part of the mainstream.
Like millions of others, she believed that President Obama was a Muslim. And like so many she had gotten to know online through social media, she also believed that he was likely gay, that Michelle Obama could be a man, and that the Obama children were possibly kidnapped from a family now searching for them. “So beautiful,” Melanie said as Ivanka Trump walked onto the convention stage to introduce her father, and soon the soaring score of the movie “Air Force One” was blasting through the TV. Melanie sat up straighter. This is what she had been waiting for.
“Here comes Big Daddy,” she said, clapping. “The Donald. Big Daddy.”
“Here he is, babe,” she said. “Donald’s here, babe.” Trump walked onto the stage, chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A!”
Huma Abedin (center rear) and Barbara Bush (right center) and friends in Paris on a Twitter photo, Oct. 1, 2016
The Hill, Barbara Bush snaps pics with Huma Abedin, tagged ‘We’re with her,’ Evelyn Rupert, Oct. 1, 2016. Barbara Bush snaps pics with Huma Abedin, tagged ‘We’re with her’ Barbara Bush Pierce, daughter of former President George W. Bush, posed with longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin in photos originally captioned “We’re with her.” Vogue contributing editor Lauren Santo Domingo posted a photo to Twitter Saturday showing her, Bush, Abedin, actress Dakota Fanning and Vanity Fair’s Derek Blasberg side by side with the caption “We’re with her.”
Around the Nation
Washington Post, In ‘serious and disturbing’ letter, incoming Missouri lawmaker accuses another of raping her, Amy B Wang, Oct. 2, 2016. The Ferguson, M0., attorney opened by introducing herself to her soon-to-be colleagues. “My name is Cora Faith Walker,” she wrote in a letter to Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson and two other House leaders. “I will be in the Capitol in January as the Representative of the 74th District.”
But it was the next two sentences 31-year-old Walker (shown via her Facebook photo) penned that would upend a lawmaking body already embroiled in controversy. “Earlier this week, I reported a sexual assault to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department,” Walker wrote. “I named my rapist as Steven Roberts, Jr., who hopes to be in the Capitol next year as the Representative of the 77th District.”
The single-page letter, sent by email to Missouri House leadership on Friday and first reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, again pointed the spotlight at a Missouri state house previously accused of having a “sexist culture.” (A PDF and text of the full letter is available in the Post story via the link above) Both Walker and Roberts are Democrats who are running unopposed for their seats and are expected to be sworn in in January.
The day after Walker sent the letter, she told Post-Dispatch columnist Tony Messenger that the alleged assault occurred sometime between the night of Aug. 26 and the morning of Aug. 27 after she met Roberts at a St. Louis apartment around 9:30 p.m.
The two of them would soon be the only black lawyers in the Missouri legislature, Walker told Messenger, and they had set up the meeting to discuss how they might work together.
They reportedly had two glasses of wine, Walker told the paper, and she woke up the next morning in a bed at the same apartment, with no memory of what happened after drinking the second glass of wine. “I had no recollection of why I was still there,” she told Messenger. The following day, she informed her husband, Tim Walker, about the incident, but it took them several weeks to decide to go to police.
Associated Press, Russia warns against US attack on Syrian forces, Bassem Mroue, Oct. 1, 2016. Russia warned the United States Saturday against carrying out any attacks on Syrian government forces, saying it would have repercussions across the Middle East as government forces captured a hill on the edge of the northern city of Aleppo under the cover of airstrikes. Russian news agencies quoted Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying that a U.S. intervention against the Syrian army “will lead to terrible, tectonic consequences not only on the territory of this country but also in the region on the whole.”
She said regime change in Syria would create a vacuum that would be “quickly filled” by “terrorists of all stripes.” U.S.-Russian tensions over Syria have escalated since the breakdown of a cease-fire last month, with each side blaming the other for its failure. Syrian government forces backed by Russian warplanes have launched a major onslaught on rebel-held parts of the northern city of Aleppo.
Syrian troops pushed ahead in their offensive in Aleppo on Saturday capturing the strategic Um al-Shuqeef hill near the Palestinian refugee camp of Handarat that government forces captured from rebels earlier this week, according to state TV. The hill is on the northern edge of the Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and former commercial center. The powerful ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham militant group said rebels regained control Saturday of several positions they lost in Aleppo in the Bustan al-Basha neighborhood.
State media said 13 people were wounded when rebels shelled the central government-held neighborhood of Midan.
Airstrikes on Aleppo struck a hospital in the eastern rebel-held neighborhood of Sakhour, putting it out of service, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees. They said one person was killed in the airstrike. Opposition activist Ahmad Alkhatib described the hospital, known as M10, as one of the largest in Aleppo. He posted photographs on his Twitter account showing the damage including beds covered with dust, a hole in its roof and debris covering the street outside.
In the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, warplanes of the U.S.-led coalition destroyed several bridges on the Euphrates river, according to Syrian state news agency SANA and Deir el-Zour 24, an activist media collective. The province is a stronghold of the Islamic State group. SANA said that among the bridges destroyed was the Tarif Bridge that links the eastern city of Deir el-Zour with the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the extremists’ de-facto capital.
CNN, Kerry in leaked audio: ‘I lost the argument’ for use of force in Syria, Elise Labott and Ryan Browne, Oct. 1, 2016. Secretary of State John Kerry’s frustration with the failure of American diplomacy was on display as he defended US efforts to help end the five-year civil war in Syria during a meeting last week with a group of Syrian civilians, according to an audio recording obtained by CNN. But Kerry (shown in an official photo) also expressed sympathy for the Syrians’ demands that the United States intervene more forcefully amid Syrian and Russian airstrikes against civilians, telling the group that he “lost the argument” for using military force against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Kerry’s comments came at a meeting that took place at the Dutch Mission to the United Nations on the sidelines the UN General Assembly, where Kerry was going from session to session in a frenzied effort to resuscitate a ceasefire that seemed poised to collapse. “I think you’re looking at three people, four people in the administration. I lost the argument. I’ve argued for the use of force. I’m the guy who stood up and announced that we’re going to attack Assad for the use of weapons,” Kerry is heard telling the Syrian attendees, referring to internal deliberations within the administration of President Barack Obama that followed Assad’s use of chemical weapons in 2013. Kerry also faulted Congress for failing to support such a retaliatory strike, saying, “The bottom line is that Congress refused even to vote to allow that.”
“We have a Congress that will not authorize our use of force,” he added, explaining that a new military intervention would be difficult to bring about. The discussion in the recording occurred only days after the United States and Russia announced a ceasefire agreement in Geneva, an accord that has since collapsed with reports of regime bombing attacks and the positioning of some 10,000 Syrian regime-aligned troops preparing to advance on Aleppo.The recorded conversation contains a series of revelations about Kerry’s view of the ongoing civil war in Syria. Several of the meeting’s participants have confirmed the recording’s authenticity.
The Syrian civilians repeatedly questioned Kerry about violations of the ceasefire and America’s unwillingness to enforce the agreement more strongly, and lobbied for a bigger US role. Kerry cited legal restrictions and local air defenses as reasons why a US military intervention was not feasible. “The problem is the Russians don’t care about international law and we do. And we don’t have a basis, our lawyers tell us, unless we have a Security Council resolution,” he said. “They were invited in, we were not,” he added, referring to Moscow’s military operations in Syria. “We don’t behave like Russians. It’s just a different standard,” Kerry said.
“The only reason they are letting us fly is because we are going after ISIL,” Kerry said, using another term for ISIS. “If we were going after Assad, we would have to take out all the air defenses and we don’t have a legal justification for doing that.” Kerry added, “So far, American legal theory does not buy into the so-called right to protect.”
“Nobody (is) more frustrated than me,” Kerry told the gathering. He later added, “A lot of Americans don’t believe that we should be fighting and sending young Americans over to die in another country.”
SouthFront, US Admits Not Targeting Al-Nusra Front Terrorist Group, Staff report, Oct. 1, 2016. The US Department of State has admitted that the US-led coalition does not target the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham [Al Qaeda] terrorist group in Syria because they have become too ‘intermingled’ with moderates and civilians.
On Friday, spokesman for the US Department of State, Mark Toner, noted that Washington exerted every possible effort to influence and separate moderates from terrorists, and stressed that the ‘moderate’ opposition have been “driven more or less into the arms” and have no other choice, but to “turn to the Nusra, fight side by side.” The official also admitted that the US-led coalition had not targeted the al-Nusra for several months due to the fact that its members had become “intermingled” with other groups and civilians.
SouthFront, NGOs: Grassroots Empowerment or Tool of Information Warfare? Daniel Deiss, J. Hawk, and Edwin Watson, Oct. 1, 2016 (8:43 min. video). During the early phases of the post-Cold War “New World Order,” NGOs were touted as representing a new wave of international politics. Instead of allowing international issues to be settled in closed meetings, the people themselves, informed by intrepid citizen journalists, would from now on play the key role in setting the agenda.
Like most of the promises made in the 1990s, this one also failed to deliver. It became clear that many NGOs, far from representing the “grass roots” of politics, were more akin to the artificial grass-like stadium surface known in the US as “astroturf.” It may look and even, to a degree, feel like the genuine article, but it most certainly is not. Many NGOs, while presenting a public image of bottom-up activism, were funded by major corporations or governments, which had the effect of depriving them of their independence and objectivity.
Given the success of NGOs as promoters of corporate interests, it did not take very long for them to begin to position themselves as independent, objective, and trustworthy sources of political information. Their appeal was largely based, once again, on the perception that the average NGO, or even a blog dealing with international affairs, is being implemented as a collection of concerned citizens engaged in unbiased news collection, analysis, and reporting. In that respect, they filled quite a large niche vacated by government spokesmen, news organizations, and intelligence services, all of which have been losing the public’s trust and which were no longer seen as objective.
Today, such fake NGOs as Bellingcat, White Helmets, Syria Observatory for Human Rights, plus a whole range of less well known bloggers and self-styled “open-source information” analysts, are no longer playing a supporting role in the ongoing information war that is an important component of hybrid wars. They have become the tip of the spear. These fake NGOs are now playing a leading role in what US military doctrine refers to as “shaping the information battlefield” within the “Full Spectrum Dominance” agenda.
Naturally, these entities are not setting the agenda or calling the shots. They have been assigned a number of roles by the political elites.
Is It Working? The answer to that question depends on the target audience. Specialists, and even well informed journalists, are unlikely to be swayed. The pathetic scenes of US State Department spokesmen squirming under the pointed questioning of genuinely truth-seeking journalists such as Matt Lee or Gayane Chichakyan show that the reliance on propaganda-laundering NGOs has its limits. The general public is a different story, since cable news channels do not show such embarrassing moments to the public.