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Thursday, November 16, 2017

The BBC has uncovered details of a secret deal that let hundreds of IS fighters and their families escape from Raqqa, under the gaze of the US and British-led coalition and Kurdish-led forces who control the city. A convoy included some of IS's most notorious members and – despite reassurances – dozens of foreign fighters. Some of those have spread out across Syria, even making it as far as Turkey. The deal to let IS fighters escape from Raqqa – de facto capital of their self-declared caliphate – had been arranged by local officials. It came after four months of fighting that left the city obliterated and almost devoid of people. It would spare lives and bring fighting to an end. The lives of the Arab, Kurdish and other fighters opposing IS would be spared. But it also enabled many hundreds of IS fighters to escape from the city. At the time, neither the US and British-led coalition, nor the SDF, which it backs, wanted to admit their part.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Gadsden woman says Roy Moore groped her while she was in his law office on legal business with her mother in 1991. Moore was married at that time. In interviews with AL.com, Tina Johnson recalls that in the fall of 1991 she sat in the law office of then-attorney Roy Moore on Third Street in Gadsden. Her mother, Mary Katherine Cofield, sat in the chair next to her. Moore sat behind his desk, across from them. Johnson remembers she was wearing a black and white dress. Almost from the moment she walked in to Moore's office, Johnson said, Moore began flirting with her. "He kept commenting on my looks, telling me how pretty I was, how nice I looked," recalled Johnson. "He was saying that my eyes were beautiful."

Johnson was 28 years old, in a difficult marriage headed toward divorce, and unemployed. She was at the office to sign over custody of her 12-year-old son to her mother, with whom he'd been living. Her mother had hired Moore to handle the custody petition. read more

On Tuesday, Roy Moore's attorney Trenton Garmon sent a demand letter to the Alabama Media Group, which runs the AL.com website, accusing the company of "defamation, libel & slander, fraud, malice, suppression, wanttonness, conspiracy, and negligence" for publishing women's sexual abuse allegations against Moore. A similar letter has reportedly also been sent to the Washington Post. The letter, which is full of both factual and grammatical errors, threatens a lawsuit, which would almost surely fail -- but it could intimidate outlets and prevent women from coming forward with accusations in the future. The threat may still serve as a media spectacle, a way for Moore to try convince voters and loyalists that he is fighting the allegations. But the letter's sloppily-made complaints arguably make Moore look even worse. read more

The whole point behind Republicans slashing the corporate tax rate is the GOP's assumption that it would spur massive capital investments, which would in turn boost the economy and create jobs. But yesterday, a room full of business leaders at CEO Council meeting send a pretty clear signal: the Republican assumptions aren't true. GOP policymakers are wrong, not just in general, but also about the key rationale behind their corporate tax policy.

President Trump's top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, looked out from the stage at a sea of CEOs and top executives in the audience Tuesday for the Wall Street Journal's CEO Council meeting. As Cohn sat comfortably onstage, a Journal editor asked the crowd to raise their hands if their company plans to invest more if the tax reform bill passes. Very few hands went up. Cohn looked surprised. "Why aren't the other hands up?" he said. (You can watch the clip here) read more

Fox News host Sean Hannity called for Roy Moore, the Republican candidate running for Alabama's open Senate seat, to withdraw from the race if he cannot clear up allegations that he sexually abused teenage girls when he was in his 30s. The change in Hannity's tune comes after several companies pulled their advertisements from his Fox News program and radio show over his coverage of the allegations of four women published in The Washington Post last week. On Sunday, a fifth woman came forward to say Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16 and he was in his 30s. ″For me, the judge has 24 hours," Hannity said Tuesday night. "He must immediately and fully come up with a satisfactory explanation for your inconsistencies that I just showed. You must remove any doubt. If he can't do that, then Judge Moore needs to get out of this race." Moore has denied the women's allegations and has vowed to stay in the race, which will send Alabama voters to the polls Dec. 12.


Here is Franken's full statement about this affair. Feel free to compare and contrast this to every single other person accused of unwarranted sexual acts and then see whether those seeking to establish hypocrisy can find any in Franken's words.

"The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. There's more I want to say, but the first and most important thing – and if it's the only thing you care to hear, that's fine – is: I'm sorry.

"I respect women. I don't respect men who don't. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.

"But I want to say something else, too. Over the last few months, all of us – including and especially men who respect women – have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.

"For instance, that picture. I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn't matter. There's no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn't funny. It's completely inappropriate. It's obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what's more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it – women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.

"Coming from the world of comedy, I've told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive. But the intentions behind my actions aren't the point at all. It's the impact these jokes had on others that matters. And I'm sorry it's taken me so long to come to terms with that.

"While I don't remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women's experiences.

"I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.

"And the truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories. They deserve to be heard, and believed. And they deserve to know that I am their ally and supporter. I have let them down and am committed to making it up to them." www.msnbc.com

My understanding is Clinton's accusers were acting alone. No?

This was one of the main reasons so many defended Bill Clinton because right wing agitators had always been intertwined with all the victims of Bill's transgressions. There may have been a point where the individual woman tried to make their cases without the help of partisan actors amplifying and funding their efforts, but I can't remember any. Big money and political power actors were catalysts in the Clinton allegations and helped keep them as a continual weapon to bludgeon him with possibly far beyond Clinton's own dubious actions warranted.

That is not the case at this moment with the accusers of Roy Moore, Gloria Alred notwithstanding. They are simply going on the record with their own recitations of his personal intrusions into their lives and stating the details as they understood them at that time. Many of them self identify as Republicans or conservatives, many of them Trump voters themselves - which has silently uncovered yet another paradox so far not discussed: Why would women who themselves were subjected to unwarranted conduct by a predator vote for another man accused by 17 other women of having sexually assaulted them in similar manners?

If anyone with an objective brain analyzed this they wouldn't see women prone to lie about their experiences with Moore, they would see just the opposite. Because for whatever reasons, even in their own victimhood, these women obviously didn't consider other women's allegations of sexual improprieties to stop them from supporting Donald Trump.

The report raises many questions. Why the shift of policy on the part of the U.S. government, particularly after all the blood and thunder about wiping out ISIS from Trump and his underlings? Was this truce agreement approved at the highest level, meaning by President Trump himself? What was his rationale, and doesn't he owe the country an explanation? If not, were local U.S. commanders empowered to make such an important decision, and in that case, did they seek input from our intelligence and security services about the implications of 250-plus heavily-armed ISIS fighters running loose in the Middle East? Was the congressional leadership informed in a timely manner?

The agreement allegedly did not permit foreign-born fighters to evacuate Raqqa in the convoy. Yet the truck drivers who ferried them out stated that "there was a huge number of foreigners. France, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi, China, Tunisia, Egypt ... " Were local U.S. commanders aware of that, and, if so, why did they acquiescence? And why were ISIS fighters allowed to evacuate with so much ammunition that, as one driver complained, it broke the axle of his truck?

There was also a suspiciously high ratio of purported "family members" evacuated; were they all voluntary departures, or might some of them have been hostages? Was this the only way to end the fight without the further leveling of Raqqa? Possibly so, but it would be good for administration officials to state this before a congressional committee while under oath.

It is common knowledge that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has funded and logistically supported ISIS. It is plausible that the Saudis, particularly under the energetic new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the virtual power behind the throne in the Kingdom, would be involved in any decision involving ISIS, a number of whose fighters were Saudi nationals. Since the crown prince gained power, Saudi Arabia has orchestrated the blockade of Qatar, held the Lebanese prime minister as a near-prisoner, used famine as a weapon against Yemen, and replaced Benjamin Netanyahu as the most active force trying to instigate war between America and Iran. Was there a diplomatic exchange between the Saudis and the United States over the Raqqa deal to preserve a Saudi "asset?"


Great questions worthy of real congressional investigation, right? Then "bring it on" so we can find out what happened behind this strategic policy decision with such wide-ranging potential ramifications.

Cbob is saying the only things that should matter in the present. Clinton's allegations were first made 20+ years ago when he was relevant politically. As far as I know there have been no others lodged since the Lewinsky affair, correct? Roy Moore's initial allegations are being lodged today at a time when he too is politically relevant. I would hope that in these last 20 years we've evolved somewhat as a society and learned from the mistakes that were made in defense of Clinton.

So, Moore should never be compared to Clinton because the public's knowledge and awareness of the predation innate to sexual harassment and assault is wholly different than it was in Clinton's time. We don't blame victims who visibly have nothing to gain from their confessions because we should understand how difficult it's historically been for the average woman to accuse a famous, powerful man and be believed. As we know from Clinton, the woman will instead be castigated as a liar or deviant for having sullied the perpetrator's character. It's 20 years later and what Clinton may have gotten away with then is all the reason we need to stop mentioning him and putting light on his transgressions when the predator dejure tries to play the same tunes today that everyone admits were bad notes back then.

If you want to bring up Bill Clinton, then bring him up as the example not to follow as it regards the lying and victim-shaming Roy Moore and his attack dogs are trying to get away with. And Clinton was never accused of illicit acts involving teenagers nor any woman younger than the state's age of consent as a 30+ year old adult. Those are the pertinent lessons regarding the legacy of Bill Clinton that are the most relevant in this moment.

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