My name is Russ Baker. For more than two decades I have been an investigative journalist, doing what I believed journalists were supposed to do—seek the truth and publish nothing less. Over the years, however, I have learned how the media gatekeepers, both “mainstream” and “alternative,” will not allow the biggest, most disturbing revelations to see the light of day.
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Court Determines Military Burn Pits Caused Lung Disease in Troops (Reader Pat)And now those involved in burning trash and other chemicals in Afghanistan and Iraq will receive treatment, which was previously denied by their health insurance.
US-Backed Police in Honduras Hunting Down Protesters (Russ)
Coleen Rowley is a former FBI special agent whose bravery as a whistleblower exposed many of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures. She was named one of Time magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002. This week she talks with Jeff Schechtman about the recent shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.Rowley accentuates two problems with the FBI. One, that local threats — even in high schools — are not the province of the FBI.
Ex-CIA Director Thinks US Hypocrisy About Election Meddling Is Hilarious (Trevin)
It has been 30 years since Anthony Kennedy was sworn into office on the Supreme Court. Kennedy was President Ronald Reagan’s third choice for the post. His first choice — D.C. Circuit Judge Robert Bork — was deemed too conservative by the Democratic Senate, and Reagan’s second, Judge Douglas Ginsburg, fell from grace after media reports about his marijuana use. Kennedy was a conservative whom both parties could accept.
Amidst Election Security Worries, Suddenly Paper Ballots Are Making a Comeback (Jimmy)
The FBI is one of the few institutions that, no matter how often it screws up in major ways, no matter that there is something deeply wrong with the place, never seems to be held accountable. WhoWhatWhy often covers situations where the FBI knew something in advance before heinous crimes were committed — and then apparently did nothing. Many of those are so extremely weird that no one knows what to make of the phenomenon, and, frankly, people just don’t want to contemplate whether we are looking at gross incompetence, misplaced priorities, or something worse.
If somebody were to compile a definitive list of do’s and don’ts in politics, “Don’t have it come out that you had an affair with a porn star while your third wife was at home with your newborn child” would probably feature fairly prominently. It turns out, however, that if your name is Donald Trump and you have already successfully broken every other rule in the book, hardly anybody is going to bat an eye when it is reported that you had a tryst with one of the stars of Trailer Trash Nurses 6.
When news broke Wednesday of yet another horrific mass shooting on school grounds, this time in the upscale community of Parkland, Florida, the all too familiar shock and sorrow were soon replaced by a sense of resignation that nothing would change.Nikolas Cruz, an expelled student, opened fire in Marjo
To understand the plundering of Iraq’s oil wealth, we have to look first at the original sin of the invasion itself. Blueprints showing how oil could help rebuild the country were drawn up post-Desert Storm in the 1990s and resurrected in 2003. It never happened.Journalist Erin Banco explains why, as she talks to Jeff Schechtman in this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast. She laments the dashed hopes of the Kurds and the Iraqi people.
The Future of Cryptocurrency: A Bit Extreme? (Chris)
This is an update to a story WhoWhatWhy published on August 30, 2017.
The US, Russia, Iran, Turkey and Israel are all on a collision course with each other in Syria as each maneuvers aggressively to get the most from the endgame of the brutal Syrian civil war, now approaching its seventh anniversary. The danger of a big-power conflict starting by accident rather than intention has not been so high in decades.All five regional and global powers, except the US, have had an aircraft shot down inside (or from inside) Syria in the space of about a week.
The Stock Market Swings Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Our Rigged Economy (Jimmy)
Mother American Night: My Life in Crazy Times, by John Perry Barlow and Robert Greenfield (Crown Archetype, June 2018).John Perry Barlow’s sudden death last week shined a spotlight on his high-profile life one last time. His last book, scheduled for June publication, was released for review the day he died.
Mattis: US Has No Evidence of Syrian Use of Sarin Gas (Jimmy)The author writes, “The US has no evidence to confirm reports from aid groups and others that the Syrian government has used the deadly chemical sarin on its citizens, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday.”
How the FISA Court Works (Dan)
Late last Friday, President Donald Trump blocked the release of a classified Democratic memo supposedly rebutting the claims of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) that the FBI deceived a secret court while investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Government isn’t perfect — far from it. It is too big and unwieldy, not transparent enough, does lots of really messed up things, often overreaches, and wastes money. More importantly, however, government is absolutely necessary. Without it, things would be much, much worse.
Millions of captivated earthlings witnessed an aerospace milestone Tuesday afternoon when the world’s most powerful rocket was catapulted into space from the Kennedy Space Center.It was launched from Pad 39A, the same one NASA used to send Apollo 11’s historic 1969 mission to the moon.The rocket — dubbed the Falcon Heavy — is built by SpaceX, a company founded by business magnate Elon Musk.
Amazon Sparks Worries With Patent on Worker-Tracking Wristband (Jimmy)
Andrew Keen is the Anthony Bourdain of technology. The author, entrepreneur and futurist has traveled the far corners of the world to see what works and what doesn’t. He has seen the internet reflecting both the best and the worst of us, and concluded that we and our technology need to grow up.In this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, Keen talks to Jeff Schechtman about the next chapters in the digital revolution.Keen reminds us that we’ve been here before.
ICE Wants to Be an Intelligence Agency (Jimmy)“‘The idea that ICE could potentially get access to warrantless surveillance is frankly terrifying,’ Jake Laperruque, senior counsel at the Project on Government Oversight, told The Daily Beast.”
Trump’s Opioid Plan: Put Kellyanne Conway in Charge (Dan)
Democracy in the US is facing a relentless assault from state governments intent on staying in power by redrawing districts and suppressing the vote. In many cases, the only thing that stands in their way are federal courts fairly applying the law. But that could soon change. President Donald Trump, with an assist from the GOP-controlled Senate, has been highly effective in stacking federal courts with conservative judges. This could turn out to be the most enduring part of his legacy.
The practice of gerrymandering has subverted US democracy for more than 200 years. Now it finally seems as though voters are fed up with being disenfranchised in this way and are pushing for changes through grassroots movement.The reason legislators have so often drawn their own odd-looking district lines for nearly as long as the United States has existed is obvious. Because it is an effective way to keep winning races. For example, in the special election for Alabama’s Senate seat, the winning candidate, Democrat Doug Jones, won the popular vote by 1.5 percent.
Ex-CIA Chief John Brennan Signs as MSNBC/NBC Contributor (Jimmy)
Virginia Democrats suffered a crushing defeat in November 2016. Just one year later they were celebrating a rousing victory. What changed in Virginia? And does this turnaround hold lessons for Democrats — and Republicans — across the country?Amanda Litman, who served as Hillary Clinton’s email director in 2016, was devastated by the campaign’s failure. But in the ashes of defeat she saw a glimmer of opportunity.
The Democrats’ message is clear: President Donald Trump is unqualified to be commander in chief. He’s a threat to democracy and is destabilizing the international order. He supports Russia in ways that defy any normal explanation. He’s unlike any US president we’ve seen before. These feelings are reflected in movements like “the Resistance.”But if Trump is so threatening, why do Democrats keep voting to give him more power?
An extreme example of British politeness captured on video in the Houses of Parliament this week is going viral — and throws behavior in American political establishments into sharp relief.Oh dear. Lord Bates, the international development minister for the ruling Conservative party, was late for the start of a session in the House of Lords on Wednesday!As a result he was unable to answer a question posed to him by opposition member Baroness Lister. In reaction to this discourteous tardiness he felt it necessary to offer his resignation.
Mueller and What Makes Trump Different (Reader Steve)There’s a reason we may not see Mueller’s report on Trump’s alleged criminality. Why? Because the man in the Oval Office is unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Is Russia ‘Hacking’ Mexico’s Upcoming Election? (Dan)
The shrinking role of facts and evidence-based analysis in American public life poses a threat to democracy, to policy making, and to the very notion of civic discourse.This is the alarming conclusion spelled out in the RAND Corporation’s recently released 300+ page report provocatively titled “Truth Decay.” The co-author of this report, RAND political scientist Jennifer Kavanagh, is Jeff Schechtman’s guest on this week’s WhoWhatWh