You are browsing the archive for 2018 August 06.

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Ted Cruz's Opponent Rakes in a Staggering Amount of Donations in One Weekend After Attack Ad Backfires

August 6, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Chapman, AlterNet

Beto O'Rourke's grassroots fundraising operation rose to meet the challenge yet again.

The Texas Senate race is shaping up to be a much more interesting battle than anyone could have predicted. Between Democratic El Paso Rep. Beto O'Rourke's prodigious grassroots fundraising and his relentless personal tours of

Cruz responded to news of the tight race with three separate ads attacking O'Rourke on Friday. One spot tells viewers that O'Rourke is “more extreme than he wants you to know,” and that his immigration proposals are to the left of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders. Another falsely claims that O'Rourke said “we should consider legalizing all narcotics, including heroin.”

But the result of Cruz's negative ad blitz is likely not what he was hoping for. Over the weekend after the ads were released, O'Rourke raised an astonishing $1.2 million from 39,000 grassroots contributions.

“I turned to you, and asked for your help in raising the money to make sure that I can stay on the road and continue to listen to our fellow Texans,” he said in a video address to supporters on Monday announcing the campaign haul. “To make sure that we can get our message out on TV, and be a big, bold, confident, strong answer to these small, petty, negative attack ads.”

At the outset, Cruz did not appear to regard O'Rourke as a serious challenger. One of his first public acknowledgements of his opponent was a radio ad criticizing O'Rourke for using his childhood nickname. But the new deluge of attack ads — and his offer to hold five debates with O'Rourke in the coming weeks — indicates that he now views the race as much more of a threat.

His attempts to address that threat so far, however, hardly appear to be helping him.

<Img align="left" border="0" height="1" width="1" alt="" style="border:0;float:left;margin:0;padding:0;width:1px!important;height:1px!important" hspace="0" …read more


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'Gates Is Admitting to Everything': Crucial Witness Takes the Stand Against Trump's Ex-Campaign Chair

August 6, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The former Trump aide finally testified Monday.

A former top aide to President Donald Trump appeared in court Monday as a cooperating witness in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Rick Gates, who served on Trump's campaign and on his inaugural committee, testified against Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman. Gates and Manafort were also long-time business associates, and Gates flipped on his former ally when the two were indicted by the special counsel for a variety of financial crimes, including tax and bank fraud.

Since he was high-level Trump staffer who is now cooperating with Mueller, Gates' testimony was highly anticipated and seen as key evidence in the case against Manafort.

MSNBC's Ken Dilanian reported on the developments from the trial. He noted that, as is common with cooperating witnesses, Gates testified to a wide array of crimes — including some that the government hadn't known about prior to his cooperation — and even minor violations, like showing up for parole 15 minutes lates. All this was an effort to make Gates seems like a credible witness against Manafort.

“Gates is admitting to everything,” Dilanian said. “He said that he was indicted with Paul Manafort on bank and tax fraud charges, and he is guilty of all those charges. And then he said he's guilty of other conduct, including this embezzlement, that the government didn't know about. He talked about writing a false letter in an investment scheme, and some other lies he told in other situations.”

Watch the clip below: 

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The US Military Is Grinding Away on Its 'Infinity War' — And the Results Are Absolutely Horrifying

August 6, 2018 in Blogs

By Nick Turse, TomDispatch

The number of terror groups aligned against the U.S. has markedly increased, and the number of special ops battle fronts has only grown.

Raids by U.S. commandos in Afghanistan. (I could be talking about 2001 or 2018.)

A U.S. drone strike in Yemen. (I could be talking about 2002 or 2018.)

Missions by Green Berets in Iraq. (I could be talking about 2003 or 2018.)

While so much about the War on Terror turned Global War on Terrorism turned World War IV turned the Long War turned “generational struggle” turned “infinite war” seems repetitious, the troops most associated with this conflict — the U.S. Special Operations forces — have seen changes galore. As Representative Jim Saxton (R-NJ), chairman of the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, pointed out in 2006, referring to Special Operations Command by its acronym: “For almost five years now, SOCOM has been leading the way in the war on terrorism: defeating the Taliban and eliminating a terrorist safe haven in Afghanistan, removing a truly vicious Iraqi dictator, and combating the terrorists who seek to destabilize the new, democratic Iraq.”

Much has changed since Saxton looked back on SOCOM’s role in the early years of the war on terror. For starters, Saxton retired almost a decade ago, but the Taliban, despite being “defeated” way back when, didn’t do the same. Today, they contest for or control about 44% of Afghanistan. That country also hosts many more terror groups – 20 in all — than it did 12 years ago. “Vicious Iraqi dictator” Saddam Hussein is, of course, still dead and gone, but in 2014, about a third of “the new, democratic Iraq” was overrun by Islamic State militants. The country was only re-liberated in late 2017 and the Islamic State is already making a comeback there this year. Meanwhile, Iraq is besetby anti-government protests and totters along as one of the most fragile stateson the planet, while the Iraqi and Afghan war zones bled together — with U.S. special operators now fighting an Islamic State terrorist franchise in Afghanistan, too.

In …read more


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A Michigan Cop Jailed This 80-Year-Old Grandma Over Her Expired Medical Marijuana Card

August 6, 2018 in Blogs

By Phillip Smith, Independent Media Institute

Police officers have discretion. It's a shame this one didn't use it.

A Clare County, Michigan, sheriff's deputy arrested an 80-year-old grandmother for small-time pot possession after going to her home on an unrelated matter and smelling weed. The grandma, Delores Saltzman, is a medical marijuana patient whose card had expired. She spent a night in jail and had to deal with a court case because the deputy's zero-tolerance approach to marijuana precluded a sensible resolution to the matter.

As local TV station Fox 17 reported, on the evening of June 13, Deputy Ashley Gruno knocked on Saltzman's door. She was trying to find Saltzman's granddaughter to return a lost phone and ID. Things went haywire when Deputy Gruno smelled marijuana from the front porch.

The deputy asked who the marijuana belonged to, and Saltzman explained it was hers and that she was a medical marijuana patient. Deputy Gruno then searched the house, seizing several pipes, four joints, and a purple jar with a small amount of marijuana. Saltzman said the total amount of marijuana seized was less than an eighth of an ounce.

Deputy Gruno then handcuffed Saltzman, place her in a patrol car, and took her to jail, where the arthritic grandmother spent a long night.

“That's ridiculous what they do to people, they don't need to make you that cold,” she said. “Old Arthur was screaming at me”—a reference to arthritis, her son Mark clarified. Saltzman also suffers from diverticulitis and muscle and bone aches.

Saltzman and her son credit marijuana with saving her life. It helped her appetite when she was sick, helped her heal after surgeries, and eases her pain from health conditions, they said.

“After I smoke, I go down to a one, pain-wise,” she said. “Before I smoke, I would say I'm an eight right now. Marijuana saved my life because I had a bad bleed about four years ago, and Mark took care of me,” she explained, adding that when doctors prescribed her opioids, she suffered stomach pains and vomiting.

Saltzman said she went public with her story …read more


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Here's Why the Texas Senate Race Is More Nuanced and Complex Than You Think

August 6, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

The demographics are not what one would expect in a red state.

When Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke decided to challenge far-right incumbent Republican Ted Cruz for his seat in the U.S. Senate, he knew he would be fighting an uphill battle. Texas has a reputation for being deeply Republican, and Cruz had defeated Democrat Paul Sadler by 16% when he was elected to the Senate in 2012. Last week, however, a Texas Lyceum poll showed Cruz ahead of O’Rourke by only 2%—which is a statistical dead heat. And according to a recent Quinnipiac poll, O’Rourke has an advantage among female voters: men preferred Cruz by 20%, but women preferred O’Rourke by 6%. 

In light of how hard-right Texas can be, these polls come as a surprise. But Texas, although far from a swing state at this point, is more nuanced and complex politically than many pundits think—and the Lone Star State isn’t without its pockets of liberalism. 

Many of Texas’ major cities lean Democrat, including Houston, Dallas, El Paso, San Antonio and Austin. Democratic mayors and city council members have been plentiful in those cities, and Houston hasn’t had a Republican mayor since the late Jim McConn left office in the early 1980s. But in Texas, things become much tougher for Democrats at the state level. Republicans dominate Texas’ state legislature, and Texas hasn’t had a Democratic governor since the late Ann Richards (who was voted out of office when president-to-be George W. Bush won the Texas gubernatorial race in 1994). 

Nonetheless, Texas’ demographics are not what one would expect in a red state. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, non-Hispanic whites comprised only 42% of the population in 2010. But unfortunately for Democrats, Latino voter participation in Texas has been low. Rosario Doyle, a 26-year-old Latina who has volunteered for O’Rourke’s campaign, told NBC News, “We are not a red state; we are a nonvoting state.” And the Texans who are the most likely to vote tend to be older, whiter and more conservative.

In 2016, President Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton …read more


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The TSA Has a New Program That Could Spy on You. It’s a Massive Waste of Money.

August 6, 2018 in Economics

By John Mueller, Mark G. Stewart

John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart

A report in the Boston Globe about the
Transportation Security Administration’s so-called Quiet Skies program has stirred significant
alarm. The program requires that Federal Air Marshals keep watch
over a handful of designated passengers — a very small
number, some 35 of the 2 million-plus who fly every day — for
such “suspicious” behaviors as “excessive
fidgeting,” “strong body odor,” “cold
penetrating stares,” and using the lavatory. There are
currently around 2,000 to 3,000 marshals flying on about 5 percent
of flights.

The revelation is significant, but not all that unusual. Police
at all levels have long issued Suspicious Activity Reports, or
SARs, on any public behavior that they consider suspect in the
effort to track terrorists, which they then send to the FBI or
Fusion Centers — clusters of local police, FBI, and
intelligence that focus on terrorism (and only rarely find anything
to do). The Quiet Skies program mainly seems to be an extension of
that and of another program in which air marshals keep tabs on
airline passengers designated as potential dangers by the FBI.

Air marshals skeptical of the program told the Globe that they
felt that nonthreatening people were being followed, including
“a businesswoman who happened to have traveled through a
Mideast hot spot, in one case; a Southwest Airlines flight
attendant, in another; a fellow federal law enforcement officer, in
a third.”

Airline terrorist attacks
are extremely rare. It’s one reason TSA’s Quiet Skies program is a
waste of money.

We are academic researchers who have spent years studying TSA
security measures and evaluating their role in averting terrorism.
In several books and in dozens of academic articles, we’ve studied each layer of
security from policing, intelligence, and checkpoint passenger
screening to armed pilots on the flight deck. We are interested in
constructing the best model of a security system by asking the
question: Does the tactic reduce risk enough to justify its cost?
Some security measures do much better on this than others.

Based on our work, we doubt that the Quiet Skies program is
worth the cost and resources devoted to it. Indeed, the same could
be said for the entire air marshal service.

The Federal Air Marshal Service is likely not worth the

In general, the model we’ve used is biased to favor the
terrorist chances of success. For example, we do not include
potential amateurism and incompetence of the terrorist group as a
security layer. But even with that bias in place, a terrorist
group’s chance of pulling off an attack under current
security …read more

Source: OP-EDS