The Herald-Leader Repeatedly Failed Montgomery County For Years And Here’s A Perfect Reminder

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The best part about this story is that Valarie Honeycutt Spears didn’t bother to mention how all of these victims spent years reaching out to her for help. Only to be told that there was no story there, that Jake was mistaken, that there was nothing to see, move along. Welp, how bout them apples? More than four years of investigative journalism produced these results and the Herald-Leader couldn’t be bothered to mention that this isn’t new news. Partially out of bitterness toward someone doing their job for them and calling them lazy for missing the biggest education scandal in our lifetime… and partially out of trying to save face. [H-L]

Mitch McConnell is a lesser person than you thought. Capitol Police forcibly removed protesters gathered outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office on Thursday, with at least one photo showing drops of blood on the hallway floor. [HuffPo]

In recent days, American Airlines has been forced to cancel more than 40 flights in Phoenix. The reason: With daytime highs hovering around 120 degrees, it was simply too hot for some smaller jets to take off. Hotter air is thinner air, which makes it more difficult — and sometimes impossible — for planes to generate enough lift. As the global climate changes, disruptions like these are likely to become more frequent, researchers say, potentially making air travel costlier and less predictable with a greater risk of injury to travelers from increased turbulence. [NY Times]

Leave it to Matt Bevin to have a lesser understanding of the freedom of speech than the Kentucky Democratic Party. The Supreme Court reserves the highest scrutiny for content-based restrictions on speech. Blocking only those Twitter users with whom Bevin disagrees is a content-based restriction on speech. [C-J/AKN]

Taxpayers’ money “will not be used to let people travel to states who chose to discriminate,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told the Associated Press Thursday upon adding Texas, Alabama, South Dakota, and Kentucky to the list of places where state employee travel is restricted. [The Advocate]

The battle over Indian Head Rock, the eight-ton sandstone bolder that once sat in the Ohio River between Portsmouth and South Shore, is the focus of a new independent film airing on Kentucky Educational Television. “Between the Rock and the Commonwealth,” airing at 9 p.m. July 3 on KET and 8 p.m. July 9 on KET2, details the controversial removal of Indian Head Rock from the river in 2007, and the ensuing legal battle between Ohio and Kentucky about ownership rights. [Ashland Independent]

A Homeland Security (DHS) official told a Senate panel that election systems in 21 states were targeted in Russian cyber attacks in the 2016 presidential election. [CBS News]

Sure is fascinating to see Ann Oldfather defend this criminal junta. It’s like she wants her law firm to lose all credibility. It’s one thing for her to stand up for her well-paying client but a different thing entirely to attack the taxpayers for daring suggest these shysters get their fat asses kicked to the curb for being corrupt as hell. [Business First]

The hacking of state and local election databases in 2016 was more extensive than previously reported, including at least one successful attempt to alter voter information, and the theft of thousands of voter records that contain private information like partial Social Security numbers, current and former officials tell TIME. [TIME]

Journalism isn’t a profession. It’s a calling. And a strange feeling rises in my stomach as I see my retirement approaching on Wednesday. [Richmond Register]

Donald Trump doesn’t have recordings of his conversations with then-FBI Director James Comey, according to a person familiar with the matter, capping weeks of speculation about whether such tapes exist. [Bloomberg]

Lawyers for Gov. Matt Bevin filed a motion in Franklin Circuit Court on Friday seeking to dismiss a suit by labor groups challenging the constitutionality of the recently passed Kentucky right-to-work law. [Ronnie Ellis]

Dumb. Donald Trump offered an explanation Wednesday for why he has one of the wealthiest Cabinets in history. “I love all people — rich or poor — but in those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person,” he said at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. [CNN]

Matt Bevin and the Republican Party of Kentucky (Hello, you self-hating pieces of shit!) are costing the state millions upon millions of dollars. All because they’re super-homophobic and gay-panicked. And this Woody Maglinger? You know that gurl’s on Grindr more than me. [H-L]

White House huckster Kellyanne Conway on Sunday came right out and said what so many Republicans are probably thinking ― that taking Medicaid away from able-bodied adults is no big deal, because they can go out and find jobs that provide health insurance. [HuffPo]

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Matt Bevin Needs To Pray Much Harder

Surprise! A community was conned by the far-right. Matt Bevin gave away your tax dollars for this failure. Local yokels are trying to blame everyone but the Ham lunatics. Town expected flood of business after Noah’s Ark opened. So far, it’s a trickle. [H-L]

Bigot Donald Trump on Monday reiterated his push for his executive order banning travel and immigration from six majority-Muslim countries, lashing out against his own Justice Department and potentially exacerbating the continued legal battle over the order. [HuffPo]

Guess Bevin didn’t have enough prayer warriors no this block in Louisville’s East End-ish part of town. The weekend following Gov. Matt Bevin’s prayer plan was marred by violence, leaving four dead in just three days, according to the Louisville Metro Police Department. [C-J/AKN]

Donald Trump can’t be counted on to give accurate information to Americans when violent acts are unfolding abroad. [Associated Press]

Donald Trump is launching a major push for a $1 trillion overhaul of the nation’s roads and bridges, a key item on his agenda that’s been stymied in Congress and overshadowed by White House controversies. [Richmond Register]

Senators went into a recess skeptical over whether they could agree to legislation repealing and replacing ObamaCare. [The Hill]

The state’s court system has requested the state Auditor of Public Accounts examine its financial policies and procedures in the wake of reports the Administrative Office of the Courts offered employees exclusive access to sales of surplus property. [Ronnie Ellis]

Massachusetts Institute of Technology officials said Donald Trump badly misunderstood their research when he cited it on Thursday to justify withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. [Reuters]

Matt Bevin is delusional AF. Or dishonest. Or shady. Or all three. Matt Bevin held a rare news conference last Friday to tout the best year on record for business investment in Kentucky, but he ended up using it to lambast the press and union groups challenging recently passed right-to-work legislation. [Ronnie Ellis]

It has offices in a sleek Manhattan skyscraper. Its bonds are accessible to millions of American investors. And it holds ties to some of New York’s biggest banks. Despite this presence on Wall Street, detailed in previously unreported financial records, Vnesheconombank, or VEB, is no normal bank. It is wholly owned by the Russian state. It is intertwined with Russian intelligence. And the Russian prime minister is, by law, the chairman of its supervisory board. [NY Times]

Kentucky’s lieutenant governor got an up-close look at half a dozen manufacturing facilities in Hart County on Friday, concluding her day at Sister Schubert’s, which makes yeast rolls and other bread products. [Glasgow Daily Times]

The White House and a Russian state-owned bank have very different explanations for why the bank’s chief executive and Jared Kushner held a secret meeting during the presidential transition in December. [WaPo]

Valarie Honeycutt Spears, Kentucky’s worst education reporter (worse than Toni Konz – who is an absolute disaster of a stenographer in Louisville), completely ignored that the Kentucky Department of Education will effectively have veto power over the Education Professional Standards Board. And that’s a huge problem. Because she’s deliberately ignored the worst of the worst in education for years. She needs to be reassigned because Herald-Leader readers and Kentuckians deserve better. [H-L]

Kentucky Republicans are always silent when people like this stand up to bigotry and get murdered. In part because they harbor bigoted beliefs. In part because they’re cowardly snowflakes. They wilt at the prospect of real heroism and integrity. They curl up into a ball when they’re challenged. [HuffPo]

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Surprise! The Mt. Sterling Paper Noticed The School District’s Paid Out A Ton In Settlements

Too little, too late, really. And they only got part of the story correct.

Here’s a taste from the Mt. Sterling Advocate – May 25, 2017:

Former Montgomery County Schools’ employee Kelly Wallace has reached a $500,000 settlement in a lawsuit against former superintendent Josh Powell and the Montgomery County Board of Education.

-SNIP-

As part of the settlement the defendants in the suit “neither admit nor deny liability of any sort.” The release of all claims “is made as a compromise to avoid expenses and to terminate all controversy and/or claims for injuries or damages of whatsoever kind, nature, known or unknown,” the settlement states.

The parties agree to bear their own costs.

-SNIP-

She claimed to have suffered loss of wages and benefit, embarrassment, humiliation and mental and emotional distress.

There’s this gem at the end of the article:

The school district previously settled two other cases with former employees. Former childcare worker Jennifer Hall settled a lawsuit for $140,000 against the district, Powell and former director of childcare Kristi Carter. Former athletic director Gene Heffington received $150,000 for a “release of all claims.” He had not filed a lawsuit.

That’s how you know Tom Marshall and the paper didn’t put in much reporting effort.

Montgomery County Schools have paid out waaaay more than two settlements involving Joshua Powell.

Combined with Kelly Wallace, Montgomery County Schools has paid out a total of six monstrous settlements. Five of them I’ve reported on extensively since 2013. Another involved a mysterious school bus incident. It’s one that Alice Anderson, the board chair, once told me she didn’t believe was legitimate and was part of a cover-up. The board attorney loosely conveyed the same sentiment. As did people in Powell’s circle.

Once Jim Dusso settles (he will – he’s not ever going to be able to hold those corrupt fuckers accountable otherwise), that’ll make seven. Not to mention prior settlements in Powell’s previous school districts. Kentucky taxpayers, via insurance and other means, have been on the hook for millions upon millions of dollars.

Funny how that paper still can’t be bothered to do real reporting on the biggest and most expensive scandal to hit Montgomery County in decades. People there deserve better. It’s been gut-wrenching to watch those folks suffer – even as they went out of their way to help me report on one of the most insane scandals in the state. They’ve suffered. The local newspaper couldn’t be bothered to hold any of the powerful accountable. Just left everyone in the dark. Half-assed their way along.

Also hear a certain education reporter at the Herald-Leader has decided to do a bit on the settlements. So you can expect that to be just shy of mediocre. Can’t exactly claim credibility or generate interest in developing sources after deliberately ignoring the nightmare for nearly five years. If I could do it with no resources and for year after year? That reporter has no excuse. They, too, have failed Central Kentuckians who deserve better.

Now that I’ve had time to process the Montgomery County-Joshua Powell disaster and most of those involved have received some form of settlement? I’m ready to start sharing all the things (yes, all the things) I’ve never before published. So look for that in the coming months. Everything from recordings that the plaintiffs never released to emails from myriad characters to video of those responsible for the scandal(s).

A note to attorneys and school board members: Better get your Xanax and Klonopin refilled. Always told you I was a man of my word and would release everything when victims got justice. True to that word, the time has come.

Now for a shameless plug.

Want to see more years-long digging and reporting that results in real change in Kentucky? Here’s how:





You’ll help pay for open records requests, part of the hosting fees (let’s get real – there aren’t enough donations to cover that beast) and for postage.

When you shop via Amazon or sign up for Cricket, you help cover the expense of getting smartphones temporarily into the hands of sources who need to securely communicate without fear of retribution. That’s how I accomplished most of the work in Montgomery County. When you buy these silly magnets (they look better in real life!), you’re doing the same. You aren’t giving *me* money.

P.S. Matt Bevin finally reorganized the Education Professional Standards Board via executive order and he DESERVES PRAISE for it. Click here to access basic details – pages 7 and 8. More on that in the coming days. Note: What doesn’t deserve praise is Bevin’s decision to make EPSB actions appealable to the Kentucky Department of Education, which is a step back to pre-2000. That is a disaster waiting to happen and KDE has NO BUSINESS meddling with EPSB. Other than that, though, EPSB needed to be gutted and flushed.

JCPS Superintendent Side Show Continues

A white nationalist wanted in connection with an altercation last year at a Donald Trump campaign stop in Louisville was served with the charge while leaving a rally in Pikeville over the weekend. [H-L]

The gun debate would change in an instant if Americans witnessed the horrors that trauma surgeons confront everyday. [HuffPo]

If you haven’t been paying attention the past several years, the Jefferson County Public Schools are a hot topic. Another shitty superintendent has been given the boot and a new shitty superintendent will be hired any day now. You can quite about that characterization but there’s no disputing it. [C-J/AKN]

One of Gov. Jim Justice’s family mining operations has been cited by West Virginia inspectors for six safety violations — including one that will draw a “special assessment” penalty — in the investigation of the February death of a worker at a McDowell County coal preparation plant, according to a report made public Monday. [Charleston Gazette-Mail]

Meeting in special session for nearly an hour Friday, the Madison Fiscal Court accepted a contract with United Health Care to provide county employees health insurance for 2017-18. [Richmond Register]

Blair Zimmerman, Pennsylvania’s Greene County Commissioner, knows coal. As a mine worker for 40 years and then a politician in southwestern Pennsylvania, he knows how important coal is to both the identity and economic stability of his community. [ThinkProgress]

To Jared Arnett, the future of Appalachia hinges on the ability to embrace technology and become a participant in the digital economy. We’re still fighting major eye rolls. [Ashland Independent]

Masked New Orleans workers in bullet-proof vests have removed a Confederate monument that officials said was a symbol of the US South’s racist past. [BBC]

Which garbage producer thought it’d be a good idea to run this footage and promote it so heavily across television and social media? Name names so they can defend that decision. Until these typically out-of-touch, not from around here jackasses start treating suicide and death with respect, they’re going to face having to deal with assholes like me. Note: I’ll haunt you until you do the right thing or get held accountable. Just ask Jim Ramsey, Robert Felner, Tim Conley, Steve Henry, Gilles Meloche, Wayne Zelinsky, Greg Fischer, Margaret Brosko, Sadiqa Reynolds, Terry Holliday or Joshua Powell about that persistence. [WDRB]

They awoke early and gathered along a plot of land here in this Rwandan village made up of a handful of homes. Together, they began hacking away at a grass-bare patch with long-handled garden hoes. The mission: Dig a drainage ditch alongside a row of homes that had been continuously flooding during rains. [NY Times]

One week after the discovery of Krystal Mitchell’s body was found on a lower roof of a downtown building, the Glasgow Police Department announced it was setting aside its death investigation. [Glasgow Daily Times & More Glasgow Daily Times]

On strategy and substance, the American public disagrees with the course that Trump and congressional Republicans are pursuing to replace the Affordable Care Act with conservative policies, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. [WaPo]

For 50 years, she took readers inside amazing Bluegrass mansions. Few people in Lexington today remember Lyndhurst, a fabulous 1860s mansion that once stood on an 11-acre estate at High and Rose streets. [Tom Eblen]

A former adviser to three Republican presidents called the speech Donald Trump gave before a crowd of supporters Saturday in Pennsylvania the “most divisive” he has ever heard from a president. [HuffPo]

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Coal Will Never Be Kentucky’s Savior

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The Courier-Journal/A Kentucky Newspaper has a long history of victim-shaming and character assassination. United didn’t have to pay for it – the C-J/AKN did it for free. The paper loves to shitsack murder victims, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community. And when you call their shitty reporters like Morgan Watkins out, they roll up with their bloated, lazy, heterosexual, white male staffers to yell at you in attempt to justify their nonsense. Not everyone there is terrible but they certainly do this shit with regularity. [Raw Story]

Letcher County officials are desperate for revenue to counter a crippling drop in coal severance tax collections, but deadlocked Monday evening on approving a business license fee on extractive operations such as oil and gas wells and coal mines. [H-L]

In 1996, Josie Slawik sat in the headquarters of the National Domestic Violence Hotline in Austin, Texas, and waited for the phone to ring. [HuffPo]

WARNING! RIDICULOUS AUTOPLAY VIDEO! Exorbitant drug prices, high deductibles and the need to jump through hoops to get procedures covered. Those were some of the realities of today’s health insurance landscape decried Saturday at a sidewalk town hall in downtown Louisville. [C-J/AKN]

Doors are kicked in, belongings are tossed on the street or carted off to high-cost storage, and evicted families are forced to move into another squalid rental or worse. That may sound like an endpoint, but often it’s just a wrenching start, leading to a deeper morass of lost jobs, missed school, family breakups, hunger, depression. [Smithsonian]

The Richmond Planning and Zoning Commission is trying to chart a road map to the city’s future, and it’s asking residents for directions. [Richmond Register]

Trump’s missile strike on Syria has drawn favorable reviews from critics and only scattered criticism from Democrats. Yet unlike other Republican presidents who enjoyed a boost in the polls from their military actions, early signs suggest Trump may not be politically rewarded. [The Hill]

Morehead State University President Dr. Wayne Andrews was recognized for his 12 years of service to the university and community at Thursday’s Morehead-Rowan County Chamber of Commerce meeting. [The Morehead News]

It was one of the uglier scandals of the Bush administration: Top officials at an agency dedicated to protecting whistleblowers launched a campaign against their own employees based on suspected sexual orientation, according to an inspector general report. [ProPublica]

Sheila Minor with Barren River Refuge Inc., an organization working to establish a homeless shelter in Glasgow, spoke to members of the Cave City City Council on Monday about the need for the shelter. “People — I don’t know if they don’t want to believe or if they just don’t believe that Barren County has a homeless problem, but we do,” Minor said. [Glasgow Daily Times]

In the latest move by a major automaker to enhance its American manufacturing operations, Toyota said on Monday that it would invest more than $1.3 billion to upgrade its assembly plant in Kentucky. [NY Times]

Eight female inmates at the Boyd County Detention Center were rushed to the hospital Saturday night after they allegedly snorted heroin inside the jail and overdosed. [Ashland Independent]

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will end a Justice Department partnership with independent scientists to raise forensic science standards and has suspended an expanded review of FBI testimony across several techniques that have come under question, saying a new strategy will be set by an in-house team of law enforcement advisers. [WaPo]

Matt Bevin’s administration is looking for expert tax lawyers, apparently in anticipation of a possible special law-making session to overhaul Kentucky’s tax code later this year. [H-L]

Several times a week, a U.S. Air Force pilot takes off from the Royal Air Force base in Mildenhall, England, and heads for the northernmost edge of NATO territory to gather intelligence on Russia. One of these pilots is 40-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Webster, a veteran of many such expeditions and a hard guy to rattle. [HuffPo]

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Hillbilly Elegy Is Republican Bullshit

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When Americans remember the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., they like to recall his “I Have A Dream” speech from the 1963 March on Washington. It is beautifully aspirational — and no longer controversial. [H-L]

Republicans have spent most of the past seven years vowing to protect people with pre-existing conditions, even as they have pledged to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. [HuffPo]

City air pollution officials suspect the area near the CEMEX cement plant in southwest Louisville might violate the federal health standard for sulfur dioxide, a pollutant that’s especially hard on children, the elderly and people who suffer from asthma. But they won’t know for at least three years. [C-J/AKN]

Donald F. McGahn II, now Trump’s White House counsel, made $2.4 million as a lawyer with a client list loaded with deep-pocketed conservative groups, from Americans for Prosperity, backed by the conservative billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch, to the Citizens United Foundation. [NY Times]

Hillbilly Elegy is bullshit. Della Combs Brashear had had enough. She backed her Cadillac long-ways across the road in front of her house, lit the Virginia Slim in her mouth, pulled her .38 pistol from her purse, and waited, stone-faced and determined, for the next coal truck to come along. [Ivy Brashear]

Former Obama national security adviser Susan E. Rice said Tuesday that she “absolutely” never sought to uncover “for political purposes” the names of Trump campaign or transition officials concealed in intelligence intercepts, and she called suggestions that she leaked those identities “completely false.” [WaPo]

Boyd County avoided losing its four-judge structure after a statewide judicial redistricting plan failed to pass through the General Assembly, but the plan will likely be reintroduced next year. [Ashland Independent]

A U.S. appeals court on Thursday upheld a preliminary injunction against Ohio’s lethal injection process for executions. [Reuters]

Attorney General Andy Beshear has once again gone to court seeking to intervene in open records disputes between a Kentucky university and student-run college newspapers. [Ronnie Ellis]

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on Thursday said he will temporarily step aside from his committee’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. [The Hill]

Two people who spent years in a Kentucky jail after being wrongfully charged with murder have sued 10 police officers from three departments, alleging a conspiracy to frame them by planting evidence to protect a confidential informant. [Richmond Register]

Senate Republicans invoked the “nuclear option” to gut the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees Thursday, a historic move that paves the way for Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation and ensures that future high court nominees can advance in the Senate without clearing a 60-vote threshold. [Politico]

Funny how this story doesn’t mention an anti-trust investigation, isn’t it? It’s like McClatchy wants to suck more than Gannett these days. [H-L]

It’s the New Republican way. Late last month, federal prosecutors indicted ex-Rep. Steve Stockman and two of his aides, charging that the Texas Republican and his confidants ripped off charities, laundered money, lied to regulators and misled wealthy donors before, during and after his failed 2014 primary campaign against John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate. [HuffPo]

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Republicans Have Caused Another Lawsuit

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The Kentucky State University faculty senate voted Thursday by a wide margin to express no confidence in Board of Regents Chairwoman Karen Bearden and narrowly voted to express no confidence in the entire KSU Board of Regents. [Linda Blackford]

Donald Trump likes to call his Mar-a-Lago golf resort the “Winter White House” but there may be more presidential putts than meetings occurring at the get-away destination. It’s difficult to know for certain because the private club can keep the president’s activities hidden from the public — and the media. [HuffPo]

Kentucky Republicans are some of the most backward, idiotic people on the planet. And that’s saying a lot when you remember that people like Donald Trump and Sarah Palin exist. The mayor’s office on Monday said Louisville’s waste management district has sued Kentucky over a new law that remakes how solid waste and recycling are regulated across the city and Jefferson County. [C-J/AKN]

Gina Haspel, President Trump’s choice for the CIA’s number two position, was more deeply involved in the torture of Abu Zubaydah than has been publicly understood, according to newly available records and accounts by participants. [ProPublica]

The nine-hole golf course at Carter Caves State Resort Park will close permanently April 2, victim of underuse and increasing costs, a state parks spokesman said. [Ashland Independent]

About 40 minutes after Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch began his second day of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, all eight of the justices he hopes to join said a major disability decision Gorsuch wrote in 2008 was wrong. [ThinkProgress]

The attorney hired by the Glasgow City Council to unseat three members of the board of directors for the Glasgow Electric Plant Board was delivering on Friday afternoon a written memo to the parties involved and the press in lieu of being part of Monday’s regular council meeting. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Senate investigators plan to question Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and a close adviser, as part of their broad inquiry into ties between Trump associates and Russian officials or others linked to the Kremlin, according to administration and congressional officials. [NY Times]

A civic organization dedicated to meeting various community needs that was disbanded in the early 2000s is officially making a return to Rowan County. [The Morehead News]

Since President Donald Trump’s election, monthly lectures on social justice at the 600-seat Gothic chapel of New York’s Union Theological Seminary have been filled to capacity with crowds three times what they usually draw. [Reuters]

House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Friday that the Republican plan to replace Obamacare would not get a vote, to the delight of one of Kentucky’s U.S. senators and dismay of the other. [WFPL]

The Senate Intelligence Committee will reportedly question White House adviser Jared Kushner as part of its probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. [The Hill]

This is what passes as reporting on the education front in Kentucky. And you wonder why the Commonwealth remains in the dark ages. [H-L]

Quietly, while Americans have been focused on the ongoing drama over repealing the Affordable Care Act and the new revelations about the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, President Trump has been busy dramatically expanding the American troop presence inside Syria. And virtually no one in Washington has noticed. Americans have a right to know what Trump is planning and whether this will lead to an Iraq-style occupation of Syria for years to come. [HuffPo]

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