Thursday, October 13, 2016

Two Boston Police Officers Wounded, Suspect Dead in Shooting by Reuters Thursday October 13th, 2016 at 2:12 PM

Two Boston Police Officers Wounded, Suspect Dead in Shooting 

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(Reuters)–TwoBoston policemen were in critical condition early on Thursday after they were shot in a gunfight with a man who was shot dead by other police officers, police said.
Other officers responding to the incident on the city’s East Side
shot and killed the man who was armed with an assault rifle and wearing a ballistic vest, Police Department Commissioner William Evans told a news conference.
“Domestic calls are probably the most volatile. You never really know what you are walking into,” he said.
The shooting took place inside a house
in the Orient Heights neighborhood at about 11 p.m. local time, theBoston Police Department tweeted.
One of the officers was shot several times and the other officer was shot once or twice. Both were in “extremely critical” condition at a local hospital, Evans said.
Nine other officers, who had dragged their wounded colleagues out of the house, were being treated for minor injuries and trauma at another hospital, he said.
Police did not identify the gunman or the wounded officers, one of whom had been with the police department for about 28 years and the other for about 12 years, police said.
(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Louise Ireland)

The Early Edition: October 13, 2016 

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Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.
YEMEN
A US warship fired cruise missiles at radar installations the Pentagon said were used by Houthi rebels to attack the USS Mason off the coast of Yemen this week, the strikes marking the first time the US has become involved militarily in Yemen’s civil war. Matthew Rosenberg and Mark Mazzetti report at the New York Times.
The strikes were carried out in “self defense,” the Pentagon said, initial assessments indicating that all three radar installations targeted were destroyed, CNN’s Faith Karimi and Ryan Browne report, citing a US official.
The US may be getting closer to a confrontation with Iran over involvement in Yemen’s civil war, suggests Kristina Wong at the Hill, observing that US officials are not shying away from the idea that Iran is partly to blame for the missile attacks on the USS Mason.
International human rights group Human Rights Watch accused the Saudi-led coalition of committing a war crime when it bombed a funeral in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, on Saturday, killing at least 140 civilians. [AP’s Maggie Michael]
US military support of Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen must cease if Saudi Arabia does not take steps to ensure that such an incident as the funeral bombing does not happen again, as Secretary of State John Kerry insisted Sunday, says the Washington Post editorial board.
IRAQ
Turkey’s demands to include a Turkish-trained Sunni force in the operation to retake Iraq’s Mosul are threatening to split the uneasy alliance of diverse Iraqi fighters on the eve of what could be a turning point in the war against the Islamic State, Tamer el-Ghobashy and Dion Nissenbaum observe at theWall Street Journal.
What is Turkey’s “game” in Iraq? At its heart is a desire not to lose influence over Mosul, which has a large ethnic Turkmen population, explains Mark Lowen at the BBC. Its fight for local dominance is, however, taking place with two “elephants in the room,” the US and Russia: Turkey must work with the US as a NATO member, but it is also trying to align itself politically and diplomatically with Russia. This creates “a dangerous split.”
SYRIA
Secretary of State John Kerry will begin a new effort to reach a ceasefire deal in Syria’s Aleppo when he meets with representatives from the regional powers most directly involved in the Syria conflict on Saturday, US officials said. [New York Times’ Michael R. Gordon]
Over a dozen airstrikes were carried out overnight on rebel-held parts of Aleppo, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said today. [AP]
Bombing of Aleppo on Tuesday and Wednesday left 145 people dead, the head of the Civil Defense rescue service there said. [Reuters]
Infighting that broke out last week among rebel forces marching toward the city of Hama has severely hampered their ambitious campaign to cut a main government supply line to Aleppo and lift the pressure on rebels fighting there, Bassem Mroue reports at the AP.
Accusations that Russia is committing war crimes in bombing Aleppo have been dismissed as “rhetoric” by President Putin, the BBC reports.
US and European officials have quietly begun to consider what sanctions against Russian officials who support the Syrian government might look like, according to diplomats, as Europe’s ties with Russia further deteriorate over Russia’s ongoing bombing of Aleppo. Laurence Norman and Julian E. Barnes report at the Wall Street Journal.
Islamic State militants are being jailed by one rebel group fighting in Syria in makeshift prisons with Islamic law and capital punishment, further complicating the civil war there, Hugh Naylor reports at the Washington Post.
A secret network in southeast Turkey is rescuing Islamic State fighters who decide to defect, at great risk to themselves. Those deserters tell Al Jazeera what life was like under the Islamic State and the roles they played within the group.
US-led airstrikes continue. US and coalition forces carried out 11 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on Oct. 11. Separately, partner forces conducted seven strikes against targets in Iraq. [Central Command]
RUSSIA
Russia again rejected allegations of meddling in the US presidential election, dismissing claims that it was behind a series of recent hacks as “ridiculous,” the AP reports.
Russia has a “playbook” for covert influence in Eastern Europe, a report by a private US research group said. John Walcott and Warren Strobel report at Reuters.
US-Russia relations have moved beyond “new Cold War” to “outright conflict,” CNN’s Nicole Gaouette and Elise Labott suggest, noting the barrage of accusations and disagreements over issues such as Syria, Eastern European independence and escalating cyber breaches.
President Putin’s political unpredictability and his preparedness to use military force are new factors the next US president will have to take into account in America’s relationship with Russia, Maxim Trudolyubov writes at the New York Times.
It is not “entirely right” to talk about a new Cold War, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson cautioned today, saying that Russia does not pose as much of a danger to global stability as the Soviet Union did. [Reuters]
AFGHANISTAN
The Taliban fought its way further into the capital of Helmand province yesterday, officials said, threatening to take over the second major city in Afghanistan in just over a week. [Wall Street Journal’s Jessica Donati and Habib Khan Totakhil]
At least 100 Afghan soldiers were killed when Taliban militants opened fire on them from all directionsas they tried to retreat via an agreed-upon route near the city of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, Afghan officials said yesterday. Mujib Mashal and Fahim Abed report at the New York Times.
The Islamic State claimed role in the deadly attack on Shi’ite worshippers in Kabul Tuesday, Pamela Constable and Sayed Salahuddin report at the Washington Post.
GERMANY
The Syrian refugee detained by German officials on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack committed suicide in his jail cell last night, Alison Smale reports at the New York Times.
Suspect Jaber Albakr, who strangled himself with his shirt, had been granted asylum in Germany last year, undergoing a security check at the time which did not turn up anything suspicious, the AP’s David Rising and Frank Jordans report.
It is not clear whether Albakr had accomplices, something which authorities are still investigating, a German official said. [Reuters]
GUANTANAMO BAY
Government censors can retroactively seal public war testimony, the 9/11 trial judge at Guantánamo has ruled, saying national security spills do occasionally slip through Camp Justice’s second-delay screening system, Carol Rosenberg reports at the Miami Herald.
The full medical records of some of the alleged 9/11 plotters from their time in CIA custody were requested by their lawyers in Guantánamo’s 9/11 case on the ground that the details are needed to avert the defendants’ military execution, Carol Rosenberg reports at the Miami Herald.
CYBERSECURITY, PRIVACY and TECHNOLOGY
WikiLeaks released a fourth dump of material allegedly hacked from the email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairperson John Podesta yesterday, Julian Hattem reports at the Hill.
The US’s classified information would be much more secure if the intelligence community heeded lessons from the little-known case of Brian Regan, who 16 years ago pulled off a heist of more than 20,000 top-secret documents and tried to sell them to Iraq and Libya, Yudhijit Bhattacharjee writes at the New York Times.
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
Forces loyal to Libya’s UN-backed unity government are advancing on the last pockets of Islamic State militants still inside the coastal city of SirteAl Jazeera reports.
Japan will expand a military base in Djibouti next year to counteract what it says is growing Chinese influence in the region, Japanese government sources said. [Reuters]
An Islamic State plan to attack commemorations of the Shi’ite mourning period of Ashoura has been broken up in Iran, state media reported. [AP’s Nasser Karimi]
Two “militants” who had taken up positions in a government building in Indian-administered Kashmir have been killed, the Indian army said. [BBC]
Two teenagers carrying bayonet knives have been arrested in Australia on suspicion of planning an “imminent attack” inspired by the Islamic State, police said today. [New York Times’ Michelle Innis]
The UN’s 193 member states are expected to appoint former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres as the next secretary-general today, the AP’s Michael Astor reports.
Twenty-one of the Chibok schoolgirls captured by Boko Haram in Nigeria in April 2014 have been freed, a Nigerian government official told the BBC today.
Is the British military opting out of human rights? Alasdair Soussi at Al Jazeera discusses the announcement by British Prime Minister Theresa May that the British military will be able to opt out of parts of the European Convention on Human Rights during future conflicts.
Read on Just Security »
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Former US Attorney: Career FBI agents think Comey's 'a crook' WMAL Interview - JOE DIGENOVA - 10.12.16 WMAL ... - Hot Air

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Hot Air

Former US Attorney: Career FBI agents think Comey's 'a crook' WMAL Interview - JOE DIGENOVA - 10.12.16 WMAL ...
Hot Air
There's more fallout from yesterday's revelations that a “vast majority” of career FBI agents expected Hillary Clinton to face criminal charges for her use of an unauthorized email server for government business. Hours after the story broke, I ...
Ed Klein Exposes the FBI Indictments that Hillary SkirtedTownhall

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Police: Man with assault rifle, body armor shot 2 officers

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A man wearing body armor and armed with an assault rifle shot two Boston police officers who were responding to a report of a domestic disturbance, before being shot and killed by other officers, police said.
     

Putin says militants in Aleppo use civilians as shields

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Putin says Russia is fighting al-Qaida-linked militants in Syria who are using civilians as human shields in the city of Aleppo.

Gingrich: There’s a ‘Little Trump’ Who’s ‘Frankly Pathetic’

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Newt Gingrich said Thursday of Donald Trump that there is a “Big Trump” and a “Little Trump” and the latter is “frankly pathetic.”
Gingrich, a former speaker of the House and Trump supporter who was on the Republican nominee’s shortlist of potential running mates, reacted with dismay to Trump’s criticisms of current Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.). Trump said at a rally on Wednesday that Ryan had not congratulated him for his debate performance, and he accused the speaker of making a “sinister deal” behind his back.
After playing the clip of Trump’s comments, Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo looked at Gingrich ruefully and asked for his response.
“Let me just say about Trump, who I admire and I try to help as much as I can,” Gingrich said. “There’s a big Trump and a little Trump. The little Trump is frankly pathetic. I mean, he’s mad over not getting a phone call?”
Gingrich said Trump had one opponent he needed to focus on: Hillary Clinton.
“Her name is not Paul Ryan,” he said. “It’s not anybody else. It’s Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump has to go out and make the case because the elite media won’t. He has to make a case that is clear, unified, simple–that people understand.”
Gingrich praised Ryan for focusing on “defeating Hillary,” whose presidency would “end American as we know it.”
“Don’t spend any energy defending Trump. Spend your energy beating Hillary,” he said.
He added he felt Trump would “probably” win the election.
Trump has been publicly attacking Ryan since the speaker told fellow Republicans he would no longer defend the nominee after a tape emerged of Trump making sexually explicit remarks in 2005. Since that time, several accounts have emerged from women who say Trump acted inappropriately with them, including sexual harassment.
The Trump campaign has demanded a retraction of a New York Times story detailing two women’s accounts of sexual misconduct.
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New Study Confirms Marijuana Use Up Drastically in Workforce

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Charles “Cully” Stimson
Politics,

According to the report, in 2015 there was a “25 percent relative increase in marijuana detection as compared to 2014.”

This November, there are a record number of ballot initiatives in at least nine states regarding so-called medical marijuana or outright legalization of the Schedule I drug. The pot pushers, both small businesses and large, want more people smoking, eating, and consuming more pot because it is good for their bottom line.
Before voting yes, voters—and, in particular, employers—should take a look at more disturbing data that was released two weeks ago at a national conference.
At the annual Substance Abuse Program Administrators Association conference, Quest Diagnostics—one of the nation’s largest drug-testing companies—unveiled the results of its Drug Testing Index. The index examines illicit drug use by workers in America each year.
In 2015, Quest examined more than 9.5 million urine, 900,000 oral fluid, and 200,000 hair drug samples. Following years of decline in overall illegal drug usage, the results showed that the percentage of employees testing positive for illicit drugs has steadily increased over the last three years to a 10-year high.
Law enforcement hopes that THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) testing using saliva will enable officers to test drivers in a safe, relatively noninvasive manner, and several manufacturers have developed such test devices. There are questions whether oral THC testing can serve as a valid testing device, but no court has forbidden their use.
The Drug Testing Index is an analysis of test results from three categories of workers—including federally mandated, safety-sensitive workers, the general workforce, and the combined U.S. workforce
Oral fluid drug testing results—best at detecting recent drug usage—showed an overall positivity rate increase of 47 percent over the last three years in the general workforce to 9.1 percent in 2015 from 6.7 percent in 2013.
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A series of counterterrorism police mishaps leaves Europeans worried

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Although the responsible officials in Germany said that they were not to be blamed for the suicide of a bomb plot suspect, experts and authorities from other countries reacted with disbelief to the flawed counterterrorism operation.
     

US Should Increase Sanctions to Protect National Security - US Official - Sputnik International

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Sputnik International

US Should Increase Sanctions to Protect National Security - US Official
Sputnik International
President Barack Obama's reluctance to use sanctions has undermined US national securityand credibility abroad, House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce and congressman Todd Young said in an opinion piece published ...

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The U.S. Defense Budget: Too Big, Too Small or Just Right?

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Michelle Newby
Security,

An important debate. 

The Center for the National Interest partnered with the Charles Koch Institute to host a foreign policy roundtable. Among the topics addressed was: Is the U.S. defense budget and the size of our military appropriate for our needs? Why or why not? Watch the rest of the videos in the “On the Home Front: The Domestic Side of International Relations” Series.
“Everything starts with strategy in this business,” answers Barry Posen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as to whether the U.S. defense budget is the appropriate size. “If you accept the present grand strategy it might be true that the defense budget is actually too small.”
“On the other hand,” Posen continues, “if you have a different strategy, if you focus narrowly on the security needs of the United States, I think you could have a much smaller force structure, I think you could have a much smaller defense budget.” Posen literally wrote the book on one such option, a grand strategy called “restraint.”
Previously, the panelists provided evidence that the United States is remarkably secure as a nation. The United States enjoys a beneficial geographic situation, with “big moats” to the east and west and friendly, weak neighbors to our north and south. Furthermore, as the Charles Koch Institute’s William Ruger explained, “You have the world’s largest navy, the world’s strongest military—period. You have an incredibly strong economy, which is the foundation of military power. So we are just not in the same situation that other states are historically.” The United States also guarantees its own security by maintaining a powerful nuclear arsenal that deters other nations from attacking.
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Clinton clear-eyed on transparency

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There was something refreshing about Clinton’s willingness to embrace and acknowledge the inevitable public-private tension — albeit off the record! — instead of pretending, hypocritically, that “the process” would work better in the full light of day.
     

US-Russian tensions threaten to paralyze UN Security Council

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Rising tensions between Moscow and Washington are spilling over into an increasingly divided United Nations Security Council, threatening to paralyze initiatives from North Korea to Africa.
     
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Trump's moment of reckoning - CNN

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CNN

Trump's moment of reckoning
CNN
The first was The Washington Post release of a 2005 hot mic conversation in which Trump was recorded boasting about his license to grope women as "a star." The second was Wednesday's New York Times account of two women who described unwanted ...
Multiple women accuse Donald Trump of making unwanted sexual advancesWashington Post
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Emails reveal Clinton camp's scramble to craft, defend server story - Fox News

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Fox News

Emails reveal Clinton camp's scramble to craft, defend server story
Fox News
Hillary Clinton's top aides privately debated whether to joke about her emerging email scandal, if they should shift some blame to former secretaries of state and how to frame, explain and defend her use of a homebrewed server in a series of purported ...
Hacked WikiLeaks emails show concerns about Clinton candidacy, email serverWashington Post
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Comey Politicized the FBI, Brennan the CIA - Newsmax

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Newsmax

Comey Politicized the FBI, Brennan the CIA
Newsmax
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey (L) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director John Brennan speak at the 2016 Intelligence and National Security Summit in Washington, DC, September 8, 2016. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images).

As Donald Trump Stumbles, Hillary Clinton Watches Her Step - New York Times

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New York Times

As Donald Trump Stumbles, Hillary Clinton Watches Her Step
New York Times
On Thursday, Hillary Clinton will take a break from fund-raising in Los Angeles to appear on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” On Friday, she will fly to Seattle for a private fund-raiser and on Monday, Billy Crystal, along with Matthew Broderick and Lin ...
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Moscow accuses Washington of destroying US-Russia relations - Reuters

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Reuters

Moscow accuses Washington of destroying US-Russia relations
Reuters
In comments that underline how deeply a hacking scandal and differences over Syria and Ukraine have damaged U.S.-Russia relations, Maria Zakharova, the Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman, told a news conference Washington was playing a dangerous ...
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СМИ: Обаме предложат нанести удары по армии Сирии - Взгляд

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Взгляд

СМИ: Обаме предложат нанести удары по армии Сирии
Взгляд
Президент США Барак Обама в пятницу проведет совещания со своими советниками по возможным вариантам действий в Сирии, среди них рассмотрят удары по силам Башара Асада, сообщает Reuters со ссылкой на источники в администрации США. На совещании Обамы с ...
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Putin And The November Election In The U.S.: Donald Trump Is His Patsy - Huffington Post

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NBCNews.com

Putin And The November Election In The U.S.: Donald Trump Is His Patsy
Huffington Post
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Russia's role in election under growing scrutiny - CNN

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CNN

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Donald Trump, Buying Late, Pays More for TV Ads - Wall Street Journal

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Wall Street Journal

Donald Trump, Buying Late, Pays More for TV Ads
Wall Street Journal
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Egypt Juggles Its Friendships As Russian Influence Surges

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A United Nations Security Council vote shows the new regional calculus at play for Cairo as it tries to navigate the interests of its rival benefactors.

Trump Apologizes To Serbia For NATO's Bombing Of Yugoslavia

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U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has issued an apology for the U.S. role in the 1999 bombing campaign in the former Yugoslavia.

Exclusive: Obama, aides expected to weigh Syria military options on Friday

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama and his top foreign policy advisers are expected to meet on Friday to consider their military and other options in Syria as Syrian and Russian aircraft continue to pummel Aleppo and other targets, U.S. officials said.
  
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Syrian offensive kills scores in Aleppo ahead of Swiss talks

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria's military backed by Russian warplanes have killed more than 150 people in eastern Aleppo this week say rescue workers, part of a renewed bombardment supporting an offensive to seize the city's shattered rebel-held sector.
  

EDITORIAL: A troubled political psyche

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Is Donald Trump unstable? Is Hillary Clinton a liar? Is one or the other unfit to serve as president? Some Loudouners surely think so. 

Citizens in Loudoun, considered a pivotal county in the presidential election, are so troubled by the candidates – their assertions, their rhetoric, their performance and their values – that some have asked psychologists to assess whether a candidate they oppose has a personality disorder or sociopathic tendencies.

Residents appear deeply troubled by one candidate or the other, says Dr. Michael Oberschneider, founder and director of Ashburn Psychological Services. Some partisans have sought the counsel of psychiatrists and psychologists to validate their disdain for either Trump or Clinton.

Oberschneider can’t remember an election when the candidates for president were so polarizing. In the recent history of presidential campaigns, the candidacies of elected presidents Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama brought tough accusations that resulted in strident disagreements among the populace. But those disagreements pale in comparison to those in the current election cycle.

The developments of the current campaign – as well as the strong-willed personalities of Trump and Clinton – have brought some Loudoun residents, including adolescents, to psychologists for counseling.

Some want validation that they are right about an opponent they disdain, says Oberschneider. Others want to assign labels such as “narcissist,” “xenophobe,” “dishonest” or “liar” to the candidate they oppose. Adolescents, some influenced by positions of their parents, can be troubled or confused by what they hear and see.

Oberschneider stays neutral. “It is unethical for psychiatrists to give a professional opinion about public figures they have not examined in person and obtained consent from to discuss their mental health,” he says.

Psychiatrists and psychologists operate under ethical rules that prevent them from offering professional diagnostic opinions about the mental health of public figures they have not personally examined. The American Psychiatric Association’s version of this is known as the Goldwater Rule — named for Barry Goldwater, a polarizing Republican presidential candidate in 1964. Responding to a magazine survey at the time,1,200 psychiatrists said they found Goldwater unfit for the presidency. Goldwater sued the magazine and won.

Oberschneider stands by the Goldwater Rule, despite widespread analysis of the candidates on the internet, including some by mental health practitioners.

Characterizations of a candidate as being sexist, racist, intolerant, dishonest, narcissistic or merely obnoxious may be accurate, but do not support a diagnosis of personality disorder or mental illness, Oberschneider says. People with diagnosed personality disorders typically lead damaged lives that impact how they function. They also tend to damage the lives of family members.

“People with a severe personality disorder don’t have success,” he says. “We can’t say that about the two presidential candidates.”

Indeed, anyone who feels that they are best suited to become president, exhibits some degree of narcissism, according to Oberschneider. “That’s healthy,” he says. “You want the president to feel like the smartest person in the room.”

Still, Oberschneider says he’s seen an intensity in the disdain for both Trump and Clinton. Some of the disdain is channeled by passion, but it can manifest as outright hatred that affects the balance and certainty that people seek in their lives, even in an affluent and well-educated county such as Loudoun. He says he’s seeing more patients who want him or others to expose either Trump or Clinton as unfit to serve, and thus validate their own emotional or partisan leanings.

How to counsel them? “I listen,” Oberschneider says.

Listening can be unpleasant in a campaign that has featured lewd and vulgar language, sexual escapades and morality plays involving marital infidelity, harsh threats, boorish behavior, stunning accusations and, in many cases, disregard for the facts. The rhetoric is amplified by stark disagreements over pressing issues of our times.

The noise in our heads isn’t about to go away. One of two people who is disliked by large parts of the electorate will be elected president of the United States. Given current events and current passions, be prepared to deal with a lingering hangover.



Editor's Note: Dr. Michael Oberschneider writes a column that occurs occasionally in the Times-Mirror.

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· · ·

Is Donald Trump a Charismatic Leader?

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Why do people still believe Donald Trump when he says things like, "Our African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape they've ever been in before. Ever. Ever. Ever"? (Even setting aside slavery and Jim Crow, “Nationally, the black poverty rate is 24.1 percent, which is much higher than the 9.1 percent percent it is for whites. But that’s still lower than it has been in the past,”Politifact points out.) Or that there could be anywhere from 3 to 30 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., but “the government has no idea.” (The number is 11.4 million, Politifact says, and the government is quite sure.)
It could be because Trump, like many charismatic leaders, casts his arguments in ways that tickle the emotional parts of our brains while telling the more rational lobes to shush. That’s the process explored by Sara E. Gorman, a public-health expert, and her father, Jack M. Gorman, a psychiatrist and CEO of Franklin Behavioral Health Consultants, in their new book, Denying to the Grave: Why We Ignore the Facts That Will Save Us. “Persuaders might want to reduce the possibility of dissonance by constantly reassuring people that they have made the right choice ... or that there is no viable reasonable alternative,” they write. (Remember “I alone can fix it?”)
In the book, the Gormans explain not just how people fall for the false claims of politicians, but also how intelligent people wind up in cults or why a nation wracked by gun violence continues to reject gun-control measures. They admit they do not support Trump, but they’re otherwise equal opportunity debunkers, taking on GMO fear-mongering and anti-vaxers along with the National Rifle Association. I recently interviewed the Gormans about why false information and charismatic people can seem so seductive. A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.

Olga Khazan: You write that cults often draw people of above-average intelligence. Why is that?
Sara Gorman: I just want to say I think it was fortuitous that the book has come out now with Trump running for president, because we see a lot of parallels with the charismatic leader and the conspiracy theories. And one of the things that we emphasize in the book, that is really the center of it is that idea—this is what made us write the book—that a lot of the people who hold some of these beliefs including being easily easily persuaded by charismatic leaders or pulled into cults are actually very intelligent.
The response has usually been just to throw facts at people and assume that they just don’t know any better. When in reality, often you are dealing with intelligent people. I think what happens with people who fall into cults and also conspiracy theories, it has more to do with feelings of powerlessness, and especially if you're very very stressed, you can really be much more susceptible to these ideas. In that way, it's not as much about your intelligence as it is about your circumstances and feeling like you've lost control in some way.
Jack Gorman: That's totally right, and you know we also have to make a distinction between how much education someone has and how intelligent they are. One of the very amusing things was Trump right after the [first] debate developing a conspiracy theory himself that the microphones were broken and that the Democrats did it. So he sort of churns these things up, and although I don’t particularly like him, I would have to say he's intelligent. So that's just an example of somebody who not only believes them, but, you know, makes them up.
Just to get back to Sara's thing about "voiceless" and "powerless," there was actually an article inThe Atlantic that looked at the characteristics of Trump supporters, and although it talked about the usual triad of male, poor, and white, the article said that the two most strong predictions of who supports Trump were not having a college degree and people who feel voiceless and powerless. So that voiceless and powerless trait looks like it aligns with both supporting Trump and being prone to believing in conspiracy theories.
Khazan: Would you call Trump a charismatic leader? Why or why not?
Sara Gorman: I would absolutely call him a charismatic leader. A charismatic leader is not necessarily a negative, but what we found in the book and what we see with Trump often is that anti-science charismatic leaders, or charismatic leaders who espouse things that are not true, obviously they have a big effect that can be very negative.
It’s really striking how he lines up with some of these anti-science charismatic leaders on some of the basic characteristics. One of the big things for him is that he’s positioned himself as an outsider and being on the fringes. That actually helps him build up his charisma and his identity as a charismatic leader because it creates a very strong sense of him being able to come in and create a totally different order and a revolution. But it also allows him to create a very strong us-versus-them narrative, in which he can really point to a very large group of people—no matter what party they're in—it's all of the government is against him and against us, the Americans.
And what that in turn does, is once you create a sense of a “them,” you reinforce a strong “us.” And when you reinforce a very strong “us,” a lot of group psychology will sort of kick up. There's a lot of conformity, there's a lot of not questioning things because other people seem to be going along with it. It's harder for individuals who are part of groups to make independent judgments and decisions.
He also uses fear and personal stories to heighten risk perception. He will lead with stories of individual people who were supposedly murdered by illegal immigrants. He also positions himself as the person who will protect all of your rights and all of these huge issues around justice and fairness and freedom of speech. He often will bring things back to those huge issues rather than going into more specifics around various policy issues. That makes it harder to disagree with him, and it creates a sort of authoritarian godlike aura around a person.
Olga Khazan: Being less specific makes it harder to disagree with them?
Sara Gorman: Absolutely.
Jack Gorman: I once heard a speech by Wayne LaPierre, the director of the NRA.  And you could insert almost any cause into that speech, because he almost never actually used the word gun. He talked all about freedoms, fairness, protection, family—you could imagine a far left person talking about their cause putting it in the same words. You’ll very rarely hear Wayne LaPierre talk about the data about whether personal gun ownership is actually safe or not. He’ll talk about, “I’m protecting your freedom.”
And you have the same thing when Trump talks about immigration. He’ll never cite actual data on the number of crimes committed by immigrants vs. non-immigrants. You probably heard if you listened to the VP debate when the moderator said to Pence, "but you know the most recent incidents were all done by American citizens, how do you account for that?" and he ducked that question and went right back to very loaded emotional words — “tragedies occurring to families.”  So what he does is deflect attention away from the data onto these base emotions, and then they tell you, “we’re the only ones who can save you." And if you already feel like you're a person who doesn't have a voice, that's an extremely attractive way to put things.
Khazan: One of the things you note is that most charismatic leaders tend to be great communicators and have a lot of verbal eloquence. Eloquence does not seem to be one of Trump’s strengths, but perhaps the “says what we’re all thinking” element telegraphs that a bit.
Sara Gorman: I agree with the verbal eloquence part, but he is always appearing as though he’s winging it. I think all of that sort of helps build his personality cult. Because in a weird way it makes him seem more approachable, like he’s being genuine, and he's a person, and so the cult around him or the whole support around him is about his personality versus political beliefs. That is so typical of the charismatic leader, versus the sort of traditional leader, which is more like Hillary Clinton, who really gleans her authority from experience and bureaucratic processes. And the personality cult, the groups that form around them tend to be much stronger than the groups that form around these traditional leaders.
Khazan: Don’t Hillary supporters do the same thing, though? Doesn't anyone who runs for president have to cultivate that same kind of aura around themselves?
Jack Gorman: I think that's a really important point, that's kind of the difference between the anti-science charismatic leaders that we're dealing with in the book and at least that aspect of politics, because politics is a forced choice. So you basically have to choose one of these two people. With the anti-science area, you don’t have to choose to believe [vaccine skeptic] Andrew Wakefield. [But] certainly there are people who are drawn to Hillary Clinton merely because she’s a woman and they want to vote for a woman.
But I would say that Hillary Clinton and also Tim Kaine ... both of them have a tendency to try to bring up facts. Tim Kaine especially [at the debate] kept doing that, and you can see how to another scientist like me, that's extremely refreshing. On the other hand, it comes across as being very flat, and people constantly complain that neither of them is convincing or persuasive or energetic or attractive in the way they talk. And you could see that [in the most recent debate], and that is a difficulty that scientists have in how to get their message across in a way that persuades people while still being true. Hillary has a harder time developing a cult of personality, which I would say is a great thing, a positive thing, but it's hard for a politician nowadays to get by without that.
Khazan: Explain why false or fear-mongering information can be so powerful.
Jack Gorman: This is an oversimplification of the way the brain works. That being said, many scientists have identified this higher-order, rational, slow-working part of the brain, which is basically the prefrontal cortex, and the more primitive parts of the brain that work faster or more automatically, and subserve emotions like fear. And there are good data showing that the first thing that you hear makes the biggest impression—and that if it’s heard under emotional circumstances, that it’s always associated with that emotion.
If the first thing you hear about a topic is something that’s associated with fear, that will often suppress the rational part of the brain. It will be placed into long-term memory by this more primitive part of the brain, and it turns out to be very, very difficult to dislodge that. If you do fear conditioning in a rat so that it learns to associate a tone with an electric shock, it never goes away for the rest of the rat's life. It will always freeze when it hears the tone, even though you're not giving shocks anymore.
The point is, those fears that these charismatic leaders arouse are often committed to permanent indelible memory, and they become extremely hard to dislodge, and they are easy to evoke simply by making people scared again. So all that Trump has to do is say “these immigrants are going to kill you,” and his entire message about immigration becomes immediately recalled.
Sara Gorman: Fear is one of the most primitive, most basic parts of the brain. But it's very, very powerful, and the part of the brain that works against that, which is the prefrontal cortex, it actually takes a lot of energy for us to engage that part of the brain.
Khazan: Explain what cognitive load is and how that makes us more susceptible to persuasion.
Jack Gorman: It requires a lot more effort to use the reasoning part of the brain. The default is to use the faster parts of the brain. So if you’re in a state of stress or there are too many facts coming at you or too much information, the default mode is to say, “I can’t handle all that stuff, it’s too much, or it's too frightening, or it's too complicated. I'm gonna default to the more rapid acting part of the brain, and make immediate decisions.” Now, as we point out in the book, and as many people have pointed out, from an evolutionary point of view, that was probably very adaptive because you often need to make rapid decisions for safety’s sake. And so if there’s a burning building that you have to get out of, don’t sit there analyzing all the aspects that causes fire and where the smoke is coming from, you just run away. So you operate purely from fear. And that's what the effect of fear and cognitive overload does: It directs attention away from the slower-acting parts of the brain that require much more effort.
Khazan: A lot of Americans believe in conspiracy theories, and there’s some evidence that some of the distrust of government among some Trump supporters stems from the world of conspiracies. What are some of the hallmarks of these theories, and what makes them so seductive?
Jack Gorman: One of the things you find with the conspiracy theory is that they’re actually very, very fluid. If you’re actually able to disprove one of their tenets, they don’t say, "Oh, guess we were wrong." They immediately move to another reason to support their original fear. The classic example is with the anti-vaccine people, who are little by little having to give up on the idea that vaccines cause autism. But instead of saying, “Vaccines are safe; you should be vaccinated,” they move on to “It's too many vaccines, it overloads the immune system.” So they keep moving in this very fluid way. It's really looking for some reason to support a fear. That’s a very serious problem.
Sara Gorman: Conspiracies can and have happened, so our philosophy in the book is we shouldn't dismiss people who believe [these] things, because there’s a lot of psychology behind that and some historical truth. But there’s a lot of drama around these statements and a lot of emotional hype, because, again, that's something that can be used to get people to not use the rational parts of their brain and just believe something that's probably not true. The other thing to look out for is, and this comes up a lot in anti-science conspiracies: How likely is it really that the groups of people who have been identified as the ones conspiring would really be able to all come together and do this? Someone like Andrew Wakefield’s argument is that every single scientist in every single government agency and the pharmaceutical industry, they’re all together in this conspiracy against him. That just feels very unlikely. But what that does is create a very strong sense of us-versus-them.
Khazan: I think a lot of people would say that people of the opposite political party don’t seem to listen to logic or reason, that they seem irrational. What’s a good way to inoculate ourselves against false, yet persuasive messages? Or to deal with someone who believes in conspiracy theories? If open-mindedness is our goal?
Sara Gorman: [Dealing with someone who believes a conspiracy theory,] you can take their arguments and sort of present them in a very unemotional way, and a very bland way, over and over and over, and just repeat weakened versions of the argument in a flat manner. And that has actually been shown to be somewhat effective in getting people out of the grasp of a charismatic leader or a conspiracy theory. So it's like inoculation, as you can see, because it's like a weakened version of the thing.
I think the example we use in the book is in a healthcare setting. So if you have a patient who comes in and says “vaccines cause autism.” There’s a tendency is to just immediately say, "That's not true—here's the data against that, blah, blah, blah.” That really antagonizes the person and actually can backfire and make their beliefs stronger. Which is a little bit frightening. What you could do instead is say, "As I understand it," in a calm measured voice, "Andrew Wakefield argues," and sort of list the arguments out. And if you do that multiple times, people really do start to calm down. They disengage the emotional part of their brain, which frees up space to engage a more rational part of the brain.
Khazan: So the key is to not get agitated? Or is it the repetition?
Sara Gorman: I think it's both. Using those same arguments, but making sure you don’t have any charismatic qualities at all while you’re saying it. The other thing is, you can engage people on the level of, what are your values? What do you really want? For vaccines, it’s, “I want my child to be safe.” When you get them to rehearse their values, you actually can see a reduction in their willingness to believe crazy ideas.
Jack Gorman: [For yourself,] the first thing you should do is slow down and take a deep breath. The second thing is, is there an ulterior motive for making these statements? Who’s paying for it, for example. The second thing is, think of what the person just said, and ask the question "Compared to what?" So if the person says, “This is dangerous,” say, “Compared to what?” Because it may well be that they’re talking about five people who were harmed, and 10,000 people were helped. And that would make a difference.
Another question is: Are there any expert opinions in this area, and what do the experts think?
We are launching a new entity called "Critica" that will be an online community [looking at] the best ways to approach uncertainty, and what research we can do. Because we're interested in, what does convince the public? Only recently, for example, people have been figuring out what was successful to get so many Americans to stop smoking cigarettes. It looks like it probably wasn't all the advertisements, but rather raising taxes on cigarettes that was probably the most persuasive. So we want to see a lot more of that kind of work done to actually figure out what it is that helps persuade people.
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Trump threatens to sue New York Times over new groping allegations / Boing Boing

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Following new allegations of sexual assault aimed at Donald Trump by women, the millionaire presidential candidate is threatening the New York Times for publishing them.
In a "demand for retraction," Trump lawyer Marc E. Kasowitz writes that the article is "reckless, defamatory and constitutes libel per se" and "nothing more than a politically-motivated effort."cupzcc2waaaktkt
The Guardian tallies the new allegations.
  • Two women, Jessica Leeds and Rachel Crooks, told the New York Times that Trump groped or kissed them without consent.
  • Another woman, Mindy McGillivray, claimed she was groped by the Republican nominee at a Trump foundation event at his Mar-A-Lago estate in Florida.
  • Natasha Stoynoff, a reporter for People magazine, who said Trump forced himself on hershortly before she was due to interview him and his wife in 2005.
  • Two Miss USA contestants claimed Trump deliberately walked in on them when they were naked in a dressing room. Five Miss Teen USA contestants also told Buzzfeed he had entered their dressing room while the young women – aged between 15 and 19 – were getting changed.
  • A recording emerged in which Trump appears to sexualise a 10-year-old girl, with a video recording him saying of the child: “I am going to be dating her in 10 years. Can you believe it?”
  • In separate recordings that emerged in the past week, Trump himself told Howard Stern in 2005 that he did in fact go backstage when contestants were undressing:
Trump's election campaign appears to be falling apart. A recording of him boasting about groping women, and two dismal debate performances, have seen him slump in the polls as his party vacillates over ditching him to save itself.
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Gina Miller, an “investment manager,” has brought a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Brexit referendum, arguing that UK law requires a Parliamentary vote on the matter before the government can act on it.

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