8:32 AM 12/9/2017 – Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s hiring practices under FBI investigation: report

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s hiring practices under FBI investigation: report

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s hiring practices under FBI investigation: report

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Andrew Cuomo’s administration is under FBI investigation for a decades-old practice of spreading governor’s office employee salaries across the payrolls of various other state agencies and authorities, according to the Times Union. Jon Campbell / Albany Bureau

Gov. Andrew Cuomo hasn’t offered an end-of-session agenda for the New York Legislative session, which ends Wednesday.(Photo: AP)

ALBANY – Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration on Friday dismissed an apparent FBI investigation into its hiring practices as a “charade,” pointing to previous New York governors that have used a similar personnel strategy.

The Times Union of Albany reported Friday that federal investigators have interviewed a number of Cuomo employees in recent months who work in the governor’s office but are actually on the payroll of various other state agencies and authorities.

For years, New York governors have used that hiring strategy to inflate their own staff while seemingly keeping the governor’s office budget down on paper.

Cuomo is no exception: Dozens of his staffers are paid by the Dormitory Authority, Department of Transportation and other state entities other than the governor’s office, payroll records show.

An FBI spokesman could not be reached for comment Friday, while a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New York’s Eastern District declined to confirm or deny any investigation.

A spokesman for Cuomo defended his administration’s hiring policies, calling the apparent line of FBI questioning “absurd.”

“In this environment, anyone can ask about anything, but the fact is the longstanding practice of detailing staff from Agencies to work in the Executive Chamber dates back over 50 years to at least the Rockefeller administration and extends to the White House and the federal Department of Justice,” Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said in a statement.

“Given that the Federal Department of Justice and the White House have a long history of utilizing this practice, perhaps the FBI can investigate them when this is charade is over.”

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The hiring practice has been used by New York governors dating back at least three decades, when then-Gov. Mario Cuomo — Andrew’s father — pledged to cut his personal payroll by 10 percent but actually used other state agencies to add workers to his staff, according to a 1984 article in The New York Times.

The current governor has used the strategy dating back to when he took office in 2011, but has expanded it significantly in recent months.

In March, Cuomo announced the hiring of 27 employees, including several who once worked for Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama.

More than 20 of those employees work in Cuomo’s office, but only five are actually on the governor’s office’s payroll, according to the Times Union.

That includes Carolyn Pokorny, Cuomo’s chief special counsel for ethics, risk and compliance. She is paid $158,000 a year by Empire State Development, the state’s economic-development branch. Penny Lowy, Cuomo’s appointments secretary, is paid $150,000 a year by the state Office of General Services.

As of November 2016, about of 40 percent of Cuomo’s total staff was paid by other agencies, according to the paper.

It wasn’t clear Friday what laws the FBI is focusing on in its investigation, but the Times Union reported investigators have focused in part on hiring letters and other documentation given to new employees.

In his statement, Azzopardi said investigators should “call George Pataki” if there are questions about the hiring practice. The Republican governor also used the hiring strategy when he was in office from 1995 through 2006.

“‎The agencies are all part of the same executive branch, and this administration follows the exact same lawful hiring process we inherited from previous administrations stretching back decades,” Azzopardi said.

Cuomo’s office has been investigated by the FBI and federal prosecutors before.

In 2014, then-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara began investigating Cuomo’s abrupt shuttering of the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, a corruption-busting panel the governor had set up to probe wrongdoing in Albany.

But in January 2016, Bharara announced there was “insufficient evidence to prove a federal crime.”

Early next year, Cuomo’s former top aide Joseph Percoco will stand trial. He’s accused of accused of accepting $287,000 from a Maryland-based power company and a Syracuse developer, both of whom had substantial business before the state.

Percoco has pleaded not guilty.

<a href=”mailto:JCampbell1@Gannett.com”>JCampbell1@Gannett.com</a>

Jon Campbell is a correspondent with USA TODAY Network’s Albany Bureau. 

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Congress Must Charge Stonewalling DOJ, FBI With Contempt – Newsmax

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How Russia Cheats – The New York Times

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The Kremlin dismissed the details of both schemes as “absurd,” but on Tuesday Russia was barred from the 2018 Winter Games for its state-backed cheating. Some individual Russian athletes may compete independently in neutral uniforms, but the Russian flag will not appear when the Games begin in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The details of the sports scandal — deconstructed by Russian whistle-blowers who have provided rare insider insights — offer perhaps the purest case study of Russia’s drive to dominate, its brazen methods and, in part, its motivation to influence the American presidency.

In a declassified intelligence report released early this year, United States officials said Russia’s attacks on the election had been, for Mr. Putin, partial payback for the doping scandal, which he repeatedly called an American-led effort to defame Russia. Last month, as new medals were stripped from Russian Olympians, Mr. Putin said the disqualifications were the United States’ attempt to undermine his re-election.

In fact, sports regulators and investigators who conducted the multiple investigations into Russia’s doping are headquartered in Canada, and the Olympic leadership in charge of disqualifying athletes is based in Switzerland. It was the former president of that staunchly neutral country, Samuel Schmid, who conducted the latest investigation for the Olympic committee, resulting in Tuesday’s sanctions.

In scrutinizing Russia, sports and antidoping officials have said they acted on objective forensic and scientific evidence of Russia’s fraud: documents, data, lab analyses and glass bottles of urine with telltale signs of tampering. Just as allies of the special counsel Robert Mueller have done this year in the context of the election inquiry, the officials have defended their impartiality and interest in plain facts.

Three key whistle-blowers helped provide those facts: Grigory Rodchenkov, Russia’s former longtime chief antidoping chemist, as well as Yuliya and Vitaly Stepanov, a former Russian runner and a former employee of the nation’s antidoping agency. All now live in the United States, in undisclosed locations from which they have spoken openly about years of coordinated cheating. The Justice Department, too, has taken interest in their evidence.

Dr. Rodchenkov, whose personal diaries cataloged each day of cheating in Sochi, came to the United States only after Vitaly Mutko — Russia’s deputy prime minister and former sports minister — asked him to resign in light of growing global suspicions about the extent of the nation’s cheating, which the chemist had helped mastermind.

“Today we also have a meeting, how to come from defensive to offensive,” Dr. Rodchenkov wrote to me in an email on Nov. 10, 2015, having initially denied wrongdoing in our early exchanges. At that meeting, Mr. Mutko effectively dismissed him and set off a dramatic chain of events: “Freedom!” he wrote in another email that night.

Dr. Rodchenkov’s tell-all account, reported in The Times in May 2016 and detailed in the documentary “Icarus,” culminated in Russia’s Olympic ban this week. It was instrumental in motivating some Russian officials to temper their rigid denials and acknowledge that an “institutional conspiracy” had existed, though they maintained it had not been state sponsored.

Still, before this week’s final sanctions were announced, global athletes, antidoping advocates and some sponsors had expressed concern about a growing crisis in international sports, pointing to the long delay by both regulators and Olympic officials in responding to evidence of widespread cheating that went even beyond Sochi.

As those critics wondered when or if sports officials would penalize Russia for its systematic transgressions by rescinding Olympic medals and condemning the state-supported schemes, they questioned not just fundamental frailties in drug-testing controls but also the independence of antidoping authorities.

One year later, similar basic questions about separation of power have taken on renewed relevance in American politics as a result of Russia’s breaches. Those questions have followed Mr. Trump’s repeated attacks on the independence of the Justice Department, in defiance of the post-Watergate norms intended to insulate law enforcement from partisan and personal agendas.

In the same way that Mr. Trump has avoided acknowledging evidence of Russia’s interference in the election, Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, took more than a year to accept the extensive evidence of Russia’s interference in the Sochi Olympic lab operations.

Other sports officials, such as the president of skiing’s governing body, initially told me that the evidence on Russia was conspiratorial or “too Hollywood,” just as some Republican lawmakers have doubted the legitimacy of Mr. Mueller’s mandate.

In drawing out his decision-making until this week, Mr. Bach called for due process and stressed the importance of giving Russia a fair chance to defend itself.

One defense came just after the early penalties for Russian athletes at the 2016 Olympics: a set of cyberattacks. A group known as Fancy Bear — which American intelligence officials tied to Russia’s main military intelligence unit, the G.R.U. — published the hacked private medical records of top American athletes, as well as the private emails of antidoping officials who had lobbied for a ban on Russia.

The hackers — the same group that stole emails from the Democratic National Committee’s servers and released them ahead of the 2016 election — called the athlete records proof of illegal drug use by stars such as Simone Biles and Serena Williams. All athletes had received necessary clearances to use the substances in question, and none of the information constituted a violation.

In a fiery interview in Moscow last year, Mr. Mutko, the former sports minister and current deputy prime minister, echoed Mr. Putin, arguing that Russia had been disadvantaged globally. In sports as in all things, he said, the decks were stacked against the nation.

This week, he was barred from attending any future Olympics, though he remains at the helm of Russia’s 2018 soccer World Cup.

“Somebody has to take the responsibility,” he said in July 2016, three months before Mr. Putin promoted him. “There must be a master at home.”

Correction: December 8, 2017An earlier version of the photo caption with this article misstated the location of Sochi. It is in Russia, not Japan.

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On Friday night when the Kings and Pelicans faced off, Randolph let Cousins know that after the two got in a dust-up late in the game.

“Where I’m from bullies get bullied. In my hood bullies get bullied, Randolph said to Cousins.

Well then!

It all started with the two getting tangled up here before these free throws.

I wouldnt want to get in the middle of that conversation. Those are two dudes who, as Marshawn Lynch would say, are bout that action, boss.

Randolph might be old, but hes not backing down from anyone. And tonight? He got the last word with the Kings beating the Pelicans 116-109 in overtime. He also made this shot.

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9:37 AM 12/6/2017 – Silence Breakers named Time magazine’s Person of the Year

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Time names the #metoo movement as 2017 Person of the Year

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Silence Breakers named Time magazine’s Person of the Year

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Sleeping straphanger ripped off for phone, license, and charge cards

See this story at BrooklynPaper.com.

By Julianne McShane

Brooklyn Paper

68th Precinct

Bay Ridge—Dyker Heights

Nodded, and robbed

A punk stole a man’s iPhone 7, driver’s license, and debit and credit cards when he was sleeping on the N train between the Bay Parkway and Eighth Avenue stops on Dec. 3.

The man told police that he got on the train at Stillwell Avenue at 3 am, and missed his stop at Bay Parkway because he fell asleep. He woke up at Eighth Avenue by 4 am, when he realized his phone — along with the accompanying wallet case and the aforementioned cards — was missing.

Cash grabber

A lout stole a little more than $700 from a Ridge man’s purloined debit card at an ATM on 18th Avenue at some point after Nov. 13.

The thief snagged the cash at the corner of 65th Street, according to a police report.

Stroller heist

A lowlife stole $300 in cash plus a woman’s debit card, two credit cards, and driver’s license from her child’s stroller after she left it briefly to drop off her child at daycare on Ridge Boulevard on Nov. 30. The theft occurred at some point in the 10-minute window between 7:40 and 7:50 am, when the woman briefly abandoned her childless stroller when she left it on the sidewalk at 71st street, according to the report.

Out of order

A no-goodnik stole a little more than $1,000 via money order after a Ridge man mailed it to his landlord from his Fourth Avenue home at some point after June 5.

The man mailed the money from his home between 72nd and 73rd streets after 10 am on the June day, he reported to police on Dec. 1. But a lout cashed the money order soon after he mailed it, he said.

Left it, lost it

A miscreant stole from a man’s wallet, citizenship card, two credit cards, and one debit card from his unlocked car parked on 14th Avenue at some point between Nov. 26 and 29.

The man parked the car at 81st Street at 4 pm on the 26th and returned at noon on the 29th to find the items gone, according to the report.

— Julianne McShane

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Thief robs Downtown hotel, but drops stolen cash trying to outrun cops

See this story at BrooklynPaper.com.

By Colin Mixson

Brooklyn Paper

84th Precinct

Brooklyn Heights–DUMBO–Boerum Hill–Downtown

Checking out

A thief robbed a Duffield Street hotel at gunpoint on Dec. 4, taking cash.

An employee told police that the suspect waltzed into the hotel between Willoughby and Fulton streets at 4:15 am, holding what looked like a gun inside his pocket and snarling, “Give me the money, or I’ll shoot.”

The thief fled with two cash registers containing $1,500, but cops were quick on the scene and a foot chase ensued along Prince Street that resulted in the perp making his escape, but leaving his ill-gotten gains for cops to recover, according to police.

Code breaker

Some goon stole a man’s phone on Pacific Street on Dec. 01, after the crook forced the victim into giving up his passcode.

The victim, 15, told police he was between Third and Fourth avenues at 4:31 pm, when the suspect snatched his phone and barked, “Enter your passcode, or I will f— you up.”

The teen duly complied, and the brute absconded with his $900 iPhone 8, cops said.

Teen terrorized

Two thieves robbed a 15-year-old boy on Livingston Street on Dec. 1.

The victim told police he was strolling with a friend near Flatbush Avenue at 3:45 pm, when some goon pressed an unknown object against his back, while an accomplice went through his pockets, pulling out his debit card and smart phone.

The crooks fled with their ill-gotten stuff, and a police search came up short, cops said.

Rough commute

Some crook beat and robbed a straphanger waiting at the DeKalb Avenue subway station on Dec. 1.

The victim told police he was standing on the Manhattan-bound platform at the station near Flatbush Avenue Extension at 3:20, when the crook snatched the phone from his hand and gave him a shove, before fleeing into the station with three other men.

Beats

Cops arrested a man who stole someone’s headphones inside a Main Street building on Dec. 1, before threatening with a pair of scissors.

The victim told police he forgot his headphones in the building between Water and Front streets at 8:30 am, and returned to find them in the suspect’s possession.

The 29-year-old suspect allegedly refused to hand the $300 headphones back, and at one point brandished a pair of scissors, shouting, “Come in and get them,” according to police.

Cops busted the suspect on robbery charges later that day, and recovered the victim’s valuables from the suspect’s backpack, according to police.

—Colin Mixson

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Dastardly duo jumps a man, steals his cash, and cuts him when he resists

See this story at BrooklynPaper.com.

By Julianne Cuba

Brooklyn Paper

88th Precinct

Fort Greene–Clinton Hill

Street stabbing

A pair of louts stabbed a guy and stole his cash on Myrtle Avenue on Nov. 28, police said. The 63-year-old victim told police he was walking near Washington Park at about 10:30 am when the two nogoodniks came up to him, and the first put his hand on his shoulder and then removed $152 in cash from his pocket, according to authorities. The second malefactor then tried to knife him when he told the baddies he had no more money, but he put up his hand to block the blade and wound up getting cut, officials said. The ruffians then threw him to the ground, and he hit his head, police said.

Phantom pilferer

A jerk broke into a woman’s Saint James Place home on Nov. 30 and stole her jewelry and electronics, police said.

Some baddie broke into the apartment through the front door between Greene and Gates avenue sometime between 3:30 and 5:30 and swiped a Macbook Pro, diamond earrings, $100 bills, gold rings, and a speaker worth a total of $3,050, according to authorities.

Bye bye bike!

Some weasel stole a woman’s keys and the CitiBike she was using on Willoughby Street on Nov. 24, police said. The woman told police she dropped her keys somewhere with the key ring attached and used it to access the bike for unlimited usage near Hall Street at about 4 pm, when she later got an email that she was still getting charged for someone using the bike, officials said.

In the blink of an eye

A goniff swiped a woman’s wallet from her purse as she was on a G train near Lafayette Avenue on Nov. 28, police said. The scofflaw must have reached inside the 39-year-old woman’s purse and grabbed her wallet aboard the Church Avenue-bound green bullet after she got on at the Classon Avenue station, police said. The woman hopped off near Fulton Street when she realized her bag was opened and her wallet with her driver’s license, five credit cards, BJ’s card, and Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association card worth a total of $45 was missing, officials said.

Dropped and gone

Some sneak stole a woman’s wallet at a DeKalb Avenue hospital on Nov. 29, police said. The 27-year-old said she dropped her wallet in the medical center near Willoughby Street at about 2 pm, with her Dominican Republic identification card, United States resident card, and two credit cards inside, and later got a call from one of the credit card companies that some baddie was charging them, according to authorities.

— Julianne Cuba

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Reefer badness: Two men busted for smoking marijuana on the street

See this story at BrooklynPaper.com.

By Colin Mixson

Brooklyn Paper

Reefer madness

Patrolmen at the 78th Precinct busted two men for allegedly smoking pot on separate occasions late last month.

One officer was near Prospect Place and Carlton Avenue at 1 am on Nov. 20, when he spotted a man smoking a joint on the street, cops said.

Police pinched another alleged pot smoker on Wykoff Street between Nevins Street and Third Avenue at 9:25 am on Nov. 25, after a patrolmen spotted him with a joint in his hand, according to police

Both men were arrested and charged with criminal possession of marijuana, cops said.

Teen terror

Cops busted a 16-year-old boy suspected of stealing a man’s phone inside a Hanson Place shopping center on Nov. 22, and then threatening to shoot him when he demanded its return.

The victim, 60, told police he stopped inside the mall between Hanson Place and Atlantic Avenue to charge his cell at 3:50 am, when the suspect approached him and started up a conversation.

As the pair spoke, the alleged crook slyly unplugged the man’s phone from the charger and slid it into his pocket, but he wasn’t slick enough and the older fellow called him out on it, cops said.

Not willing to hand over his illicit catch, the suspect reached into his waistband and the told victim he’d shoot him, according to police.

He didn’t get far after that, and New York’s Finest booked him that night on a robbery charge, cops said.

Pie guys

Police arrested two men, ages 45 and 53, accused of busting into a Fifth Avenue pizza joint on Nov. 22.

The suspects allegedly made numerous attempts to force their way into the pie spot between 10th and 11th streets at around 3:45 am, before finally breaking open the front door and letting themselves inside, cops said.

The pair hung around for a few minutes, but didn’t take anything and soon fled, according to police.

Someone from the restaurant reported the break in at around 2 pm, and investigators made short work of tracking down the suspects, who were arrested on attempted burglary charges later that day, cops said.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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Assassins killed Panama Papers journalist with text message bomb

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This explains how social media can both weaken and strengthen democracy.

mikenova shared this story .

Yes, the Kremlin is worried about Russias own presidential elections – The Washington Post

mikenova shared this story .

 

Monkey Cage

December 6 at 6:00 AM

It’s a foregone conclusion that Vladimir Putin will win Russia’s March 2018 presidential elections, so why is the Kremlin fretting about turnout? And how is Russia’s big business supposed to help get people to vote? Here’s what’s going on.

Russia’s Central Election Commission is expected to formally kick off the campaign season sometime in mid-December, and Putin will likely declare his candidacy shortly afterwards. But Russia under Vladimir Putin is not a democracy. The Constitutional Court has deemed the country’s best-known opposition figure, Alexei Navalny, ineligible to register for the upcoming March 2018 election, citing two controversial financial-crimes convictions. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that both decisions were arbitrary and unreasonable.

In Navalny’s place, the election will feature Ksenia Sobchak, a television personality. Sobchak polls nationally at less than 1 percent — and her supposedly oppositional campaign has refused to criticize Putin.

Why do unfair elections even matter?

Putin’s regime represents what Steven Levitsky and Lucan Way term “competitive authoritarianism.” Elections in hybrid systems like Russia are not designed to determine who rules, but rather to signal the regime’s power and resilience to potential challengers.

Elections in these polities are often marred by abuses of state power, but they are nonetheless held and can be bitterly fought. It is tempting to disregard the results of such elections because of the extent to which they are manipulated by elites in power. Yet counterintuitively, the level of state control over the electoral process is itself a reason to pay close attention.

In his book “Patronal Politics,” Henry Hale points out that authoritarian regimes deploy every available resource to dominate elections, even when opposition candidates would not win a free and fair contest. Competitive, if unfair, elections send a potent message about the power of incumbent regimes.

A crushing electoral victory signals to potential opponents that they can expect the regime to remain in power, and that open opposition will be futile. But low turnout can communicate the regime’s potential weakness. Challengers may become empowered, while erstwhile allies consider defection to avoid falling on the wrong side of a revolutionary wave.

The Kremlin has high turnout goals for 2018

The “great power of expectations,” as Hale labels this phenomenon, drives Russian politics — and the Putin regime has set a high bar for itself. Last year, the Kremlin’s top political technologists established a “70 at 70” objective for Putin’s reelection in March 2018 — 70 percent of the vote with 70 percent turnout. In a recent interview, Russian political expert Tatyana Stanovaya remarked, “Putin just needs to be elected quietly and quickly, without fuss, with good turnout, and a good result.”

…but may struggle to meet them

September’s regional and municipal elections, though, showed Russians aren’t particularly excited about voting. The low turnout has left the Kremlin scrambling to boost voter enthusiasm for next March. Putin remains popular, but protest activity is rising, particularly in the provinces.

According to the Russian government’s own polling, public support for government policies is at the lowest level in nearly a decade. Russia’s regional governments remain under the Kremlin’s tight control, but they are increasingly at odds with federal policies.

In three regions, fiscal problems have become so dire that their governors circumvented official channels and appealed publicly to Moscow for bailouts. Foreign policy adventures — first in Ukraine, then in Syria — may have temporarily distracted Russians from problems at home, but public interest in both conflicts is waning.

The Kremlin has enlisted help from big business

Putin has publicly downplayed Russia’s low turnout but Kremlin policy tells a different story. Russian authorities have long included state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in their voter mobilization efforts, but “corporate mobilization” has taken on new significance this election cycle. Following record low turnout in Russia’s 2016 parliamentary elections, reports emerged that SOEs, rather than the ruling party United Russia, would drive get-out-the-vote efforts and socioeconomic monitoring in future elections.

Here’s how this played out in September’s regional and municipal elections. State-run energy giants Rosatom and RosHydro funded initiatives to monitor pre-election risks in the regions, and report the findings to the Kremlin. With the presidential contest approaching, Rosatom recently hired a contractor to file reports on socioeconomic conditions in the remote “closed cities” in which the company operates power plants. Rosatom’s former chief executive, Sergei Kiriyenko, is first deputy head of the Presidential Administration tasked with managing domestic politics.

The Kremlin increasingly expects SOEs to deliver investment and social services that struggling regional governments cannot provide. For instance, state-run Gazprom ratcheted up its spending on development projects this year, according to Bloomberg reporting. Despite initial plans to slash “non-core expenditures,” outlays on charity were up 60 percent 2017, reaching 26.3 billion rubles ($438 million).

The company built a patriotic theme park and a sports complex in the Siberian city of Irkutsk — projects that may provide temporary jobs and boost support at the polls for Putin next March. SOEs routinely subsidize economically impractical investments across Russia, especially in the country’s single-industry towns. Economists Clifford Gaddy and Barry Ickes have referred to a political imperative to “keep the lights on” in the Russian provinces.

Reuters report, meanwhile, suggests the Kremlin ordered major energy and utility companies to supply the Presidential Administration with news items that cast Russia’s leadership in a positive light. A memo to industry leaders requested stories “where it’s possible to say that state support helped lift the economy out of crisis” and benefited local residents. State-run media outlets are supposed to disseminate the stories to the public.

Prioritizing short-term political goals hinders Russia’s growth

Over the past decade, the Kremlin has allowed SOEs to monopolize and dominate the Russian economy. The regime is asking SOEs to leverage their weight and reach to ensure Putin wins a convincing mandate in the March 2018 election.

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But the tacit trade of market share for political help comes at the cost of competitiveness in Russia’s economy. Relying on corporations, rather than regional and municipal governments, to fulfill the state’s development goals also risks further atrophying of the country’s federal structure. Under Putin, the Kremlin has increasingly sought to circumvent lower levels of government, preferring instead to dictate policy from Moscow.

Choosing political goals over economic efficiency harms minority investors and will limit Russia’s potential to improve its ranking in the World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business” report, once a key goal of Putin’s third term.

According to a Levada Center poll from late November, 67 percent of likely voters would vote for Putin, with anticipated turnout between 53 and 55 percent — not the 70 percent figure the Kremlin hopes to see. Trailing far behind are the nationalist firebrand Vladimir Zhirinovsky and the Russian Communist Party’s Gennady Zyuganov, each with just four percent.

Nonetheless, the logic of patronal politics demands that the authorities pull out all the stops to encourage a high turnout in an election Putin will surely win, even if their methods hinder Russia’s future development.

Christopher Jarmas is a master’s candidate in Russian, Eastern European, and Central Asian area studies at Harvard University. Follow him on Twitter @jarmascm.

Collusion | IRRUSSIANALITY

mikenova shared this story from IRRUSSIANALITY.

The investigation into suspected collusion between US President Donald Trump and the Russian government has claimed its first three victims: one (Paul Manafort) for completely unconnected money laundering charges, and two (George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn) for lying to investigators about things which were not themselves criminal, and which are therefore crimes which would never have happened had there never been an investigation. To date, the evidence of direct collusion between Trump and the Russians is looking a little thin, to say the least. Now, into this maelstrom steps Guardian reporter Luke Harding with his book Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russian Helped Donald Trump Win.

Collusion spends over 300 pages insinuating that Trump is a long-standing agent of the Russian secret services, and hinting, without ever providing any firm evidence, that Trump and his team acted on orders from the Kremlin to subvert American democracy. I’ll be honest, and admit that I picked this book up expecting it to be a series of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, and to be utterly unbalanced in its analysis, and in that sense I’m not an unbiased reader. At the same time, I was interested to see if Harding had come up with anything that everybody else had not, and was willing to give him a chance. I needn’t have bothered. For alas, my worst suspicions proved to be true, and then some.

collusion

The first thing to note about Collusion is that most of it is padding. That is to say, that it consists mainly of a lot of digressions in which Harding describes people and events not directly related to the main story of collusion. Whenever a new character is introduced, you tend to get pages of background information, along with descriptions of various places they’ve been to, things they’ve done in the past, and so on. At the start of the book, for instance, Harding introduces Christopher Steele, who prepared an infamous dossier purportedly based on secret sources within the Kremlin, which made all sort of extreme accusations against Trump. We learn about Steele’s parents, his childhood, his education, his career, and so on. Harding recounts how he met Steele. We learn about how they tried one café, then another, who drank what, etc, etc. This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the book. There’s a lot of padding. This padding makes Collusion an easy read, and gives it colour, and the flavour of a spy novel. But none of it adds anything to our knowledge of Donald Trump and his relationship with Russia. It’s just filler, designed to cover up the fact that, when it comes to the matter of collusion, Harding doesn’t have a whole lot new to say and certainly doesn’t have enough to fill up an entire book.

The second thing to note is that Harding’s modes of argumentation and standards of evidence are not  – how can I be polite about this? – what I’m used to as an academic. Let’s take the example of Trump’s former convention manager, Paul Manafort, to whom Harding devotes an entire chapter, obviously on the basis that the Trump-Manafort connection somehow proves a Trump-Kremlin connection. The problem Harding has is that, despite pages of fluff about Manafort, he hasn’t got any evidence that Manafort is a Kremlin agent. In fact, he quotes one source – a former Ukrainian official, Oleg Voloshin – as telling him that when Manafort worked as a political advisor to Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich:

Manafort was an advocate for US interests. So much so that the joke inside the Party of Regions [in Ukraine] was that he actually worked for the USA. … He supported Ukraine’s association with NATO and with the EU. He warned Yanukovich not to lock up [former Prime Minister Iuliia] Tymoshenko. “If it weren’t for Paul, Ukraine would have gone under Russia much earlier,” Voloshin told me.

This is pretty funny behaviour for a Kremlin agent, and Harding has to admit that, “It’s unclear to what extent, if any, Manafort was involved in supplying intelligence to Russia.” This doesn’t fit with the conclusion that Harding obviously wants readers to draw – that Manafort was a Kremlin agent, and so Trump must be too. So, he comes up with something else: some of Manafort’s associates in Ukraine “were rumoured to have links with Russian intelligence.” Note the use of the word “rumoured”. It’s not exactly convincing, but it’s good enough for Luke, who uses it to tell a story about one such associate, Konstantin Kilimnik. Harding recounts that he contacted Kilimnik by email to ask him about his relationship with Manafort. Kilimnik responds by telling him that the collusion accusations are  “insane” and “gibberish”, and signs off his email with a bit of self-mockery: “Off to collect my paycheck at KGB. :))”

And here’s where it gets interesting. For Harding thinks there’s something suspicious about Kilimnik’s answer. He writes:

The thing which gave me pause was Kilimnik’s use of smiley faces. True, Russians are big emoticon fans. But I’d seen something similar before. In 2013 the Russian diplomat in charge of political influence operations in London was named Sergey Nalobin. Nalobin had close links with Russian intelligence. He was the son of a KGB general; his brother had worked for the FSB; Nalobin looked like a career foreign intelligence officer. Maybe even a deputy resident, the KGB term for station chief. On his Twitter feed Nalobin described himself thus:

A brutal agent of the Putin dictatorship : )

And that’s it. That’s Harding’s evidence. Just to make sure readers get the point, he follows the last line up with a double paragraph space. Stop and think what this means, he seems to be saying. Someone who “looked like a career foreign intelligence officer” uses smiley faces. Kilimnik uses smiley faces!!! Say no more.

This is the level at which Harding’s logic works. Harding recounts a meeting of Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the White House, a meeting which was photographed by someone from the Russian news agency TASS. As Harding tells us:

The Times put the photo of Trump and Lavrov on its front page. At the bottom of the photo taken inside the White House was a credit. It said: “Russian Foreign Ministry.”

Yet another double paragraph break follows,  just to make sure that readers take in the implication of what this means.

Take another example. We learn (which in fact we knew already if we’d been following this story) that Trump’s short-lived National Security Advisor, and former head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, Michael Flynn, attended a conference on the subject of intelligence at Cambridge University, where he met a Russian woman, Svetlana Lokhova. Harding admits that, “There is no suggestion she is linked to Russian intelligence.” Nevertheless, he feels it necessary to tell us that Flynn later corresponded with her by email. He writes:

In his emails, Flynn signed off in an unusual way for a US spy. He called himself “General Misha.”

Misha is the Russian equivalent of Michael.

Again, Harding then introduces a section break, leaving this ominous fact hanging in the air. Think of what it means, he is saying!

This is typical of how Harding argues. He puts in some suspicious sounding fact, or asks some question, and then just leaves it hanging. The implication is that the question doesn’t need answering, that the most damaging and extreme answer is obviously true. There’s an awful lot of this technique in Collusion. Harding spends pages on a digression about Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybovlev before telling us that Rybovlev’s private jet sometimes parks next to that of Donald Trump. Seems suspicious, huh? Except that Harding tells us that, ‘The White House … said that Trump and Rybovlev had never met. This appears to be true.” But Harding isn’t satisfied, and asks, “Had he [Rybovlev] perhaps met someone else from Trump’s entourage during his travels? Like, for example, Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen?” Later, Harding tells us that Rybovlev’s yacht was once at Dubrovnik at the same time as Ivanka Trump’s yacht. “Was this perhaps planned” he asks.

Harding’s method is to ask these questions, as if asking was itself proof of guilt. Trump borrowed money from Deutsche Bank. Deutsche Bank was bailed out at one point by the Russian bank VTB. “Was there a connection?” Harding asks. But Harding doesn’t answer these questions. In fact, one of the interesting things about this book is that again and again the author has to confess that the facts don’t really fit what he’s trying to say. For instance, when discussing Trump and Deutsche Bank, and trying to make it sound as if Trump was in some way connected to the Kremlin because he was borrowing from the Germans, Harding writes, “The sources insist that the answer was negative. No trail to Moscow was ever discovered, they told us.”

This isn’t a lone example. Harding spends quite a few pages discussing Carter Page, a businessman who appeared on RT and gave a talk at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, and who at one point had a marginal role in the Trump election campaign. It’s clear that he wants it all to sound really damaging. And yet, he writes that Page’s “attempts to meet Trump individually failed.” So, it turns out that there’s not much of a connection there after all. Likewise, when discussing Russian computer hackers, Harding writes: “By the second decade of the twenty-first century the cyber world looked like the high seas of long ago. The hackers who sailed on it might be likened to privateers. Sometimes they acted for the ‘state’, sometimes against it.” This rather undermines his claim that the Russian state was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

In another example, Harding discusses the sudden death of Oleg Erovinkin, who worked for the oil company Rosneft. He speculates that “Erovinkin was Steele’s source deep inside Rosneft,” and was murdered because word of Steele’s document had leaked out. The murder, he implies, is proof of the dossier’s validity. Except that Harding admits that, “there was nothing suspicious about Erovinkin’s sudden death” and “Steele was adamant that Erovinkin wasn’t his source.” Yet this doesn’t stop Harding from writing that, “in the wake of the dossier the Kremlin did appear to be wiping out some kind of American or Western espionage network. … It certainly looked that way.”

I could give other examples, but I can’t make this review too long. The point is that Harding ignores his own evidence. He argues by innuendo, and on occasion he just lets his imagine run away with itself. Steele’s dossier alleged that Trump had hired prostitutes while on a trip to Moscow. Vladimir Putin’s response was to crack a joke about Russian prostitutes being the best in the world. But to Harding it wasn’t a joke. As he writes:

Putin may have been sending a second message, darkly visible beneath the choppy, translucent waters of the first. It said: we’ve got the tape, Donald!

I wish I could say that this book was a joke. If you were going to write a parody of the collusion story, this is perhaps what it would look like. Unfortunately, Harding is deadly serious and I suspect that a lot of uncritical readers will soak it all up, not stopping to reflect on the awful methodology. So, I end on a word of warning. By all means read this book. But don’t do so in order to find out the truth about Donald Trump and Russia; do so in order to understand the methods currently being used to enflame Russian-Western relations. In that respect, Collusion is really quite revealing.

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Collusion

The investigation into suspected collusion between US President Donald Trump and the Russian government has claimed its first three victims: one (Paul Manafort) for completely unconnected money laundering charges, and two (George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn) for lying to investigators about things which were not themselves criminal, and which are therefore crimes which would never have happened had there never been an investigation. To date, the evidence of direct collusion between Trump and the Russians is looking a little thin, to say the least. Now, into this maelstrom steps Guardian reporter Luke Harding with his book Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russian Helped Donald Trump Win.

Collusion spends over 300 pages insinuating that Trump is a long-standing agent of the Russian secret services, and hinting, without ever providing any firm evidence, that Trump and his team acted on orders from the Kremlin to subvert American democracy. Ill be honest, and admit that I picked this book up expecting it to be a series of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, and to be utterly unbalanced in its analysis, and in that sense Im not an unbiased reader. At the same time, I was interested to see if Harding had come up with anything that everybody else had not, and was willing to give him a chance. I neednt have bothered. For alas, my worst suspicions proved to be true, and then some.

collusion

The first thing to note about Collusion is that most of it is padding. That is to say, that it consists mainly of a lot of digressions in which Harding describes people and events not directly related to the main story of collusion. Whenever a new character is introduced, you tend to get pages of background information, along with descriptions of various places theyve been to, things theyve done in the past, and so on. At the start of the book, for instance, Harding introduces Christopher Steele, who prepared an infamous dossier purportedly based on secret sources within the Kremlin, which made all sort of extreme accusations against Trump. We learn about Steeles parents, his childhood, his education, his career, and so on. Harding recounts how he met Steele. We learn about how they tried one café, then another, who drank what, etc, etc. This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the book. There’s a lot of padding. This padding makes Collusion an easy read, and gives it colour, and the flavour of a spy novel. But none of it adds anything to our knowledge of Donald Trump and his relationship with Russia. Its just filler, designed to cover up the fact that, when it comes to the matter of collusion, Harding doesnt have a whole lot new to say and certainly doesnt have enough to fill up an entire book.

The second thing to note is that Hardings modes of argumentation and standards of evidence are not  – how can I be polite about this? what Im used to as an academic. Lets take the example of Trumps former convention manager, Paul Manafort, to whom Harding devotes an entire chapter, obviously on the basis that the Trump-Manafort connection somehow proves a Trump-Kremlin connection. The problem Harding has is that, despite pages of fluff about Manafort, he hasnt got any evidence that Manafort is a Kremlin agent. In fact, he quotes one source a former Ukrainian official, Oleg Voloshin as telling him that when Manafort worked as a political advisor to Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich:

Manafort was an advocate for US interests. So much so that the joke inside the Party of Regions [in Ukraine] was that he actually worked for the USA. He supported Ukraines association with NATO and with the EU. He warned Yanukovich not to lock up [former Prime Minister Iuliia] Tymoshenko. If it werent for Paul, Ukraine would have gone under Russia much earlier, Voloshin told me.

This is pretty funny behaviour for a Kremlin agent, and Harding has to admit that, Its unclear to what extent, if any, Manafort was involved in supplying intelligence to Russia. This doesnt fit with the conclusion that Harding obviously wants readers to draw that Manafort was a Kremlin agent, and so Trump must be too. So, he comes up with something else: some of Manaforts associates in Ukraine were rumoured to have links with Russian intelligence. Note the use of the word rumoured. Its not exactly convincing, but its good enough for Luke, who uses it to tell a story about one such associate, Konstantin Kilimnik. Harding recounts that he contacted Kilimnik by email to ask him about his relationship with Manafort. Kilimnik responds by telling him that the collusion accusations are  insane and gibberish, and signs off his email with a bit of self-mockery: Off to collect my paycheck at KGB. :))

And heres where it gets interesting. For Harding thinks theres something suspicious about Kilimniks answer. He writes:

The thing which gave me pause was Kilimniks use of smiley faces. True, Russians are big emoticon fans. But Id seen something similar before. In 2013 the Russian diplomat in charge of political influence operations in London was named Sergey Nalobin. Nalobin had close links with Russian intelligence. He was the son of a KGB general; his brother had worked for the FSB; Nalobin looked like a career foreign intelligence officer. Maybe even a deputy resident, the KGB term for station chief. On his Twitter feed Nalobin described himself thus:

A brutal agent of the Putin dictatorship : )

And thats it. Thats Hardings evidence. Just to make sure readers get the point, he follows the last line up with a double paragraph space. Stop and think what this means, he seems to be saying. Someone who looked like a career foreign intelligence officer uses smiley faces. Kilimnik uses smiley faces!!! Say no more.

This is the level at which Hardings logic works. Harding recounts a meeting of Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the White House, a meeting which was photographed by someone from the Russian news agency TASS. As Harding tells us:

The Times put the photo of Trump and Lavrov on its front page. At the bottom of the photo taken inside the White House was a credit. It said: Russian Foreign Ministry.

Yet another double paragraph break follows,  just to make sure that readers take in the implication of what this means.

Take another example. We learn (which in fact we knew already if wed been following this story) that Trumps short-lived National Security Advisor, and former head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, Michael Flynn, attended a conference on the subject of intelligence at Cambridge University, where he met a Russian woman, Svetlana Lokhova. Harding admits that, There is no suggestion she is linked to Russian intelligence. Nevertheless, he feels it necessary to tell us that Flynn later corresponded with her by email. He writes:

In his emails, Flynn signed off in an unusual way for a US spy. He called himself General Misha.

Misha is the Russian equivalent of Michael.

Again, Harding then introduces a section break, leaving this ominous fact hanging in the air. Think of what it means, he is saying!

This is typical of how Harding argues. He puts in some suspicious sounding fact, or asks some question, and then just leaves it hanging. The implication is that the question doesnt need answering, that the most damaging and extreme answer is obviously true. Theres an awful lot of this technique in Collusion. Harding spends pages on a digression about Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybovlev before telling us that Rybovlevs private jet sometimes parks next to that of Donald Trump. Seems suspicious, huh? Except that Harding tells us that, The White House said that Trump and Rybovlev had never met. This appears to be true. But Harding isnt satisfied, and asks, Had he [Rybovlev] perhaps met someone else from Trumps entourage during his travels? Like, for example, Trumps personal lawyer Michael Cohen? Later, Harding tells us that Rybovlevs yacht was once at Dubrovnik at the same time as Ivanka Trumps yacht. Was this perhaps planned he asks.

Hardings method is to ask these questions, as if asking was itself proof of guilt. Trump borrowed money from Deutsche Bank. Deutsche Bank was bailed out at one point by the Russian bank VTB. Was there a connection? Harding asks. But Harding doesnt answer these questions. In fact, one of the interesting things about this book is that again and again the author has to confess that the facts dont really fit what hes trying to say. For instance, when discussing Trump and Deutsche Bank, and trying to make it sound as if Trump was in some way connected to the Kremlin because he was borrowing from the Germans, Harding writes, The sources insist that the answer was negative. No trail to Moscow was ever discovered, they told us.

This isnt a lone example. Harding spends quite a few pages discussing Carter Page, a businessman who appeared on RT and gave a talk at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, and who at one point had a marginal role in the Trump election campaign. Its clear that he wants it all to sound really damaging. And yet, he writes that Pages attempts to meet Trump individually failed. So, it turns out that theres not much of a connection there after all. Likewise, when discussing Russian computer hackers, Harding writes: By the second decade of the twenty-first century the cyber world looked like the high seas of long ago. The hackers who sailed on it might be likened to privateers. Sometimes they acted for the state, sometimes against it. This rather undermines his claim that the Russian state was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

In another example, Harding discusses the sudden death of Oleg Erovinkin, who worked for the oil company Rosneft. He speculates that Erovinkin was Steeles source deep inside Rosneft, and was murdered because word of Steeles document had leaked out. The murder, he implies, is proof of the dossiers validity. Except that Harding admits that, there was nothing suspicious about Erovinkins sudden death and Steele was adamant that Erovinkin wasnt his source. Yet this doesnt stop Harding from writing that, in the wake of the dossier the Kremlin did appear to be wiping out some kind of American or Western espionage network. It certainly looked that way.

I could give other examples, but I cant make this review too long. The point is that Harding ignores his own evidence. He argues by innuendo, and on occasion he just lets his imagine run away with itself. Steeles dossier alleged that Trump had hired prostitutes while on a trip to Moscow. Vladimir Putins response was to crack a joke about Russian prostitutes being the best in the world. But to Harding it wasnt a joke. As he writes:

Putin may have been sending a second message, darkly visible beneath the choppy, translucent waters of the first. It said: weve got the tape, Donald!

I wish I could say that this book was a joke. If you were going to write a parody of the collusion story, this is perhaps what it would look like. Unfortunately, Harding is deadly serious and I suspect that a lot of uncritical readers will soak it all up, not stopping to reflect on the awful methodology. So, I end on a word of warning. By all means read this book. But dont do so in order to find out the truth about Donald Trump and Russia; do so in order to understand the methods currently being used to enflame Russian-Western relations. In that respect, Collusion is really quite revealing.

Yes, the Kremlin is worried about Russia’s own presidential elections – Washington Post


Washington Post
Yes, the Kremlin is worried about Russia’s own presidential elections
Washington Post
Following record low turnout in Russia’s 2016 parliamentary elections, reports emerged that SOEs, rather than the ruling party United Russia, would drive get-out-the-vote efforts and socioeconomic monitoring in future elections. Here’s how this played

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On the Night News Desk When Trumps Tweeting Starts

Lara Jakes, recent night editor for our Washington bureau, and Steve Kenny, night editor in New York, discuss how Year 1 of the Trump era has affected their jobs and their sleep.

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8:58 AM 12/3/2017 – Police search for driver who hit at least 4 people in New York City

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Police search for driver who hit at least 4 people in New York City – CBS News


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Police search for driver who hit at least 4 people in New York City
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Last Updated Dec 3, 2017 7:38 AM EST. NEW YORK — Police are searching for a driver who hit and killed one person and injured three others outside a nightclub in Queens, New York, early Sunday morning, CBS New York reports. Two of the three who are 
ABC’s ‘The Good Doctor’ takes on sexual harassment in timely new episodeUSA TODAY
Police: 1 killed, 3 injured after driver strikes 4 in NYCfox6now.com
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8:48 AM 12/3/2017 – One dead after hit-and-run driver strikes four people during knife fight

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One dead after hit-and-run driver strikes four people during knife …

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One dead after hit-and-run driver strikes four people during knife fight outside Queens hookah bar … (Marc A. Hermann for New York Daily News) … An irate hit-and-run driver mowed down at least four people, killing one, after a knife fight outside a Queens hookah bar Sunday morning, according to police …

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NEW YORK — Police are searching for a driver who hit and killed one person and injured three others outside a nightclub in QueensNew York, early Sunday morning, CBS New York reports. Two of the three who are injured are in serious condition, according to the station. Two other people were stabbed …
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US corporation tax will drop from 35 per cent to 20 per cent under Donald Trump’s overhaul which has been backed by Congress. The move piles pressure … “We‘re going to grow the country, we‘re going to grow jobs, we‘re going to be growing everything,” Mr Trump said in New York. “We have companies …
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Two CIA directors spar over President Trump’s tweets
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President Trump’s provocative use of social media including his recent retweeting of three anti-Muslim videos from a far-right British fringe group could put lives at risk, according to one former CIA director. The agency’s current director 
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CIA chief Pompeo says he warned Iran’s Soleimani over Iraq aggression

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December 2, 2017 / 11:38 PM / Updated 4 hours ago

CIA chief Pompeo says he warned Iran’s Soleimani over Iraq aggression

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (Reuters) – U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo said on Saturday he sent a letter to Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani and Iranian leaders expressing concern regarding Iran’s increasingly threatening behavior in Iraq.

Speaking during a panel at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in Southern California, Pompeo said he sent the letter after the senior Iranian military commander had indicated that forces under his control might attack U.S. forces in Iraq. He did not specify the date.

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“What we were communicating to him in that letter was that we will hold he and Iran accountable for any attacks on American interests in Iraq by forces that are under their control,” Pompeo told the panel.

“We wanted to make sure he and the leadership in Iran understood that in a way that was crystal clear.”

Soleimani, who is the commander of foreign operations for Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, refused to open the letter, according to Pompeo, who took over the CIA in January.

Iranian media earlier quoted Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani, a senior aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as saying an unnamed CIA contact had tried to give a letter to Soleimani when he was in the Syrian town of Albu Kamal in November during the fighting against Islamic State.

“I will not take your letter nor read it and I have nothing to say to these people,” Golpayegani quoted Soleimani as saying, according to the semi-official news agency Fars.

Reuters reported in October that Soleimani had repeatedly warned Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq to withdraw from the oil city of Kirkuk or face an onslaught by Iraqi forces and allied Iranian-backed fighters, and had traveled to Iraq’s Kurdistan region to meet Kurdish leaders.

The presence of Soleimani on the frontlines highlights Tehran’s heavy sway over policy in Iraq, and comes as Shi‘ite Iran seeks to win a proxy war in the Middle East with its regional rival and U.S. ally, Sunni Saudi Arabia.

A U.S.-led coalition has been fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and is often in proximity to Iran-allied militia fighting Isis there.

“You need to only look to the past few weeks and the efforts of the Iranians to exert influence now in Northern Iraq in addition to other places in Iraq to see that Iranian efforts to be the hegemonic power throughout the Middle East continues to increase,” Pompeo said.

The CIA chief said Saudi Arabia had grown more willing to share intelligence with other Middle Eastern nations regarding Iran and Islamist extremism.

The Israeli government said last month that Israel had covert contacts with Saudi Arabia amid common concerns over Iran, a first disclosure by a senior official from either country of long-rumoured secret dealings.

“We’ve seen them work with the Israelis to push back against terrorism throughout the Middle East, to the extent we can continue to develop those relationships and work alongside them – the Gulf states and broader Middle East will likely be more secure,” said Pompeo.

Writing by Michelle Price in WASHINGTON, additional reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Mary Milliken and Michael Perry

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6:31 PM 12/2/2017 To Promote Global Security and Tackle Extremism, Decriminalize Drugs World Politics Review

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Saved Stories Saved Stories – None The Latest: Trump expresses no concern about Flynn plea deal Kaspersky Lab, Russian antivirus vendor, singled out in warning issued by U.K. cybersecurity chief FBI Warns of Mounting Collaboration Between Nations, Criminals to Launch Cyberattacks Trump Calls Reports That He Will Fire Tillerson Fake News Mattis Begins Five-Day Tour … Continue reading“6:31 PM 12/2/2017 – To Promote Global Security and Tackle Extremism, Decriminalize Drugs – World Politics Review”

To Promote Global Security and Tackle Extremism, Decriminalize Drugs

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Afghan farmers collect raw opium as they work in a poppy field in the Khogyani district of Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, May 10, 2013 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

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The Trump Administration Is Mulling A Pitch For A Private “Rendition …

BuzzFeed NewsNov 30, 2017
Amyntor’s officials and employees include veterans of a variety of US covert operations, ranging from the Reagan-era Iran–Contra affair to more recent … A source speaking on behalf of the company stressed that while Amyntor officials are aware of and involved in the rendition plan, the company itself …
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Trump Admin Plans To Pay Millions To Private Firm For A Spy Network

Carbonated.tv (blog)14 hours ago
President Donald Trump’s administration is reportedly planning to pay millions to a private international security firm and is also considering allowing former U.S. … intelligence on terrorists using “a network of assets in a denied area”, an online propaganda operation to counter Islamic extremism, and the rendition plan.
Story image for plan to privatize CIA operations from Truth-Out

Is Steve Bannon Planning to Unleash Erik Prince on Wyoming Sen …

Truth-OutNov 27, 2017
Is Steve Bannon Planning to Unleash Erik Prince on Wyoming Sen. … a former Australian air force pilot, and a lawyer with dual citizenship in the U.S. and Israel . . . to secretly rebuild his private CIA and special operations enterprise by setting up foreign shell companies and offering paramilitary services.”.
Story image for plan to privatize CIA operations from The Intercept

Intercepted Podcast: The Distraction in Chief

The InterceptNov 15, 2017
Trump has granted the CIA and military sweeping authorities to conduct lethal operations, all while laughing it up with the murderous despot, Rodrigo ….. JS: Right, and Erik Prince publicly is pushing this Afghanistan plan to privatize the war and, you know, I think he secretly wants to be or not so secretly …
Story image for plan to privatize CIA operations from Reuters

Blackwater founder still promotes plan to privatize Afghan operations

ReutersOct 26, 2017
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The founder of private military contractor Blackwater is trying to interest U.S. intelligence agencies in his plan to privatize … U.S. government sources say Prince has recently floated his Afghanistan proposal to spy agencies including the CIA but it is not clear how much support it …
FBI Warns of Mounting Collaboration Between Nations, Criminals to Launch Cyberattacks

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FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Thursday that adversarial governments are more often collaborating with criminals to carryout cyber attacks against the United States.

Wray said the indictment of a Canadian national who pleaded guilty on Tuesday to helping Russian spies hack into Yahoo email accounts reflect “one of the more dangerous, emerging threats” facing the United States today, known in the intelligence community as a “blended threat.”

“We are seeing an emergence of that kind of collaboration,” Wray testified before the House Homeland Security Committee, noting that until recently governments and criminals worked separately. “Now there’s this collusion, if you will, that’s occurring on a number of instances like mercenaries being used to commit cyber attacks.”

The Justice Department announced charges in March against Karim Baratov, a 22-year-old Canadian citizen, and three other men, including two officers of Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, for their involvement in the 2014 hack into Yahoo that affected 500 million accounts.

U.S. law enforcement officials said Baratov, who they dubbed a “hacker-for-hire,” acknowledged breaking into email accounts and selling the passwords to an agent of the FSB, a Russian intelligence agency.

The individuals targeted included Russian officials, a European diplomat, a former economic minister from a neighboring country, and a prominent banker.

The case confirmed longstanding suspicions that Russia’s government hires non-government hackers and uses its spy services to facilitate criminal activity in addition to conducting espionage.

Wray, who President Donald Trump handpicked to replace ousted FBI Director James Comey in June, said Russia is attempting to assert its dominance in the world by relying on asymmetric warfare to “damage and weaken” the United States

To combat the threat, Wray said he has set up a “foreign influence task force” within the bureau made up of different divisions, including counterintelligence, cyber, and criminal investigation. He said the agency would also coordinate closely with the Department of Homeland Security, which is charged with overseeing critical election infrastructure, to prevent against cyberattacks.

The post FBI Warns of Mounting Collaboration Between Nations, Criminals to Launch Cyberattacksappeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Trump administration allegedly considering plan to privatize CIA operations

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The United States Central Intelligence Agency and the White House are considering several proposals to hire private companies to carry out covert operations abroad, according to a report. 

To Promote Global Security and Tackle Extremism, Decriminalize Drugs – World Politics Review

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World Politics Review
To Promote Global Security and Tackle Extremism, Decriminalize Drugs
World Politics Review
As Paul Kan of the U.S. Army War College put it in a path-breaking book on narcotrafficking and security, the unique nature of the trade has made persistent threats to national and international security more complex, durable, and acute. In short 

FBI, DHS Warn of Hacker Mercenaries Funded by Nation-States

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A screenshot of the warning screen from a purported ransomware attack, as captured by a computer user in Taiwan, is seen on a laptop in Beijing, May 13, 2017.

Defense Intelligence Agency – Google Search

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Citing probes, military agency bars access to Flynn records

Washington PostNov 28, 2017
WASHINGTON — The Defense Intelligence Agency is refusing to release a wide array of documents related to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, saying that turning them over could interfere with ongoing congressional and federal investigations. Flynn, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general …
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Key players in the Michael Flynn investigation

The Spokesman-Review5 hours ago
A retired U.S. Army lt. general and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency during the Obama administration, Flynn served for less than a month as President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser. He was fired in mid-February by Trump after officials said that he had misled Vice President …
Donald Trump’s best and worst day as president: An analysis
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Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley – Google Search

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Vice President Pence visits DIA Headquarters

DVIDS (press release)Nov 8, 2017
DIA Director Army LtGenRobert Ashley hosted the visit, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats accompanied the vice president. “DIA officers play a crucial role in our intelligence apparatus,” Pence said in a statement. “We are grateful for their work and sacrifice.” The vice president received …
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LtGenAshley to become 21st Defense Intelligence Agency director

Homeland Preparedness NewsAug 24, 2017
LtGenRobert P. Ashley, Jr., U.S. Army, was recently confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the 21st Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Currently serving as deputy chief of staff, G-2, for the U.S. Army, Ashley is scheduled to begin his duties as DIA director in October, where he takes over for Lt.
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LtGenRobert Ashley: Army Kicks Off Force Review to Identify …

ExecutiveGovApr 20, 2017
The team will present findings to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and host an industry day on June 29 to discuss its findings, Judson reported. Ashley said the assessment will cover the areas of open-source intelligence, interrogation, certification process for analysts, counterintelligence, collection …
Army looks to revamp its intelligence enterprise from the ‘bottom-up’
<a href=”http://FederalNewsRadio.com” rel=”nofollow”>FederalNewsRadio.com</a>Apr 20, 2017

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Outgoing DIA Director to Workforce: ‘Keep Telling Truth to Power’

Department of DefenseOct 4, 2017
Marine Corps LtGen. Vincent R. Stewart turned over the reins to Army LtGenRobert P. Ashley during the ceremony at the agency’s Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling headquarters. Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan represented Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at the ceremony and presided over it.
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Former US DIA Chief Tells Analysts, ‘Speak Truth to Power’

Voice of AmericaOct 3, 2017
Army LtGenRobert Ashley takes over. Stewart is now set to become deputy commander at U.S. Cyber Command, a move approved by lawmakers this past July. The new DIA chief, Army LtGenRobert Ashley, previously served as director of intelligence at both U.S. Central Command and Joint Special …

Ashley, new DIA chief, concerned

Intelligence OnlineSep 5, 2017
Army LtGenRobert Ashley, the new head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Pentagon’s intelligence agency, was appointed on August 21 having only just finished carrying out an audit of the US Army’s intelligence services. As director of intelligence, or G2, of the army, he launched a …
Story image for Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley from Defense Systems

Army says smartphone, digital tech increase vulnerability

Defense SystemsMay 9, 2017
Electronic signals emitted by U.S. forces make it easier for tech-savvy enemies to keep tabs on units’ locations and movements. The spying tools are relatively cheap and ubiquitous: iPhones, Goggle maps, commercial tracking software. “It’s an unbounded battle space,” said LtGenRobert Ashley Jr., Army …
Vice President Pence visits DIA HQ

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Vice President Mike Pence visited the Defense Intelligence Agency Headquarters at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling Nov. 6, to receive classified intelligence briefings and meet with DIA officers.

Flynn Flipped. Whos Next?

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Michael Flynns guilty plea raises obvious questions: What did President Trump know? And when did he know it?

Mueller Removed Top F.B.I. Agent Over Possible Anti-Trump Texts

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The special counsel had a top agent removed from his inquiry after the Justice Departments inspector general began examining whether the agent sent texts expressing political views.

Mueller unearths more lies, a key witness but no smoking gun in Flynn

mikenova shared this story from Stars and Stripes.

Michael Flynn’s guilty plea Friday and all of the criminal cases thus far have not resolved the fundamental question special counsel Robert Mueller is seeking to answer: Did Trump’s campaign collude with Russia to win the election?

US agent who got prostitutes, cash from Colombian drug lord headed to prison

mikenova shared this story from Stars and Stripes.

The bribes federal agent Christopher Ciccione accepted from a wanted Colombian drug lord $18,000 in cash, prostitutes, restaurant meals and a hotel room have cost him his career. Yet, “Chris is a good man who served his country for more than 20 years both in the military and as a federal agent,” his defense attorney said.

Inside the secretive nerve center of the Mueller investigation – The Washington Post

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Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has already interviewed two dozen current and former Trump aides, according to people familiar with the investigation. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

A white sedan whisked a man into the loading dock of a glass and concrete building in a drab office district in Southwest Washington. Security guards quickly waved the vehicle inside, then pushed a button that closed the garage door and shielded the guest’s arrival from public view.

With his stealth morning arrival Thursday, White House Counsel Donald F. McGahn II became the latest in a string of high-level witnesses to enter the secretive nerve center of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Twenty hours later, Mueller and his team emerged into public view to rattle Washington with the dramatic announcement that former national security adviser Michael Flynn would plead guilty to lying to the FBI.

The ensnaring of Flynn, the second former aide to President Trump to cooperate with the inquiry, serves as the latest indication that Mueller’s operation is rapidly pursuing an expansive mission, drilling deeper into Trump’s inner circle.

In the past two months, Mueller and his deputies have received private debriefs from two dozen current and former Trump advisers, each of whom has made the trek to the special counsel’s secure office suite.

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The Washington Post’s Amber Phillips discusses what likely caused Michael Flynn to flip on his old boss.

The Washington Post’s Amber Phillips talks about what likely caused President Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, to flip on his old boss and cooperate with the Mueller investigation. (Jason Aldag, Amber Phillips/The Washington Post)

Once inside, most witnesses are seated in a windowless conference room where two- and three-person teams of FBI agents and prosecutors rotate in and out, pressing them for answers.

Among the topics that have been of keen interest to investigators: how foreign government officials and their emissaries contacted Trump officials, as well as the actions and interplay of Flynn and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law.

Often listening in is the special counsel himself, a sphinx-like presence who sits quietly along the wall for portions of key interviews.

This picture of Mueller’s operation — drawn from descriptions of witnesses, lawyers and others briefed on the interviews — provides a rare look inside the high-stakes investigation that could implicate Trump’s circle and determine the future of his presidency.

The locked-down nature of the probe has left both the witnesses and the public scrutinizing every move of the special counsel for meaning, without any certainty about the full scope of his investigation.

Trump and his lawyers have expressed confidence that Mueller will swiftly conclude his examination of the White House, perhaps even by the year’s end. Trump’s Democratic opponents hope the investigation will uncover more crimes and ultimately force the president’s removal from office.

Meanwhile, some witnesses who have been interviewed came away with the impression that the probe is unfolding and far from over.

“When they were questioning me, it seemed like they were still trying to get a feel of the basic landscape of the place,” said one witness who was questioned in late October for several hours and, like others, requested anonymity to describe the confidential sessions. “I didn’t get the sense they had anything incriminating on the president. Nor were they anywhere close to done.”

A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment, citing the sensitivity of the ongoing investigation.

White House lawyer Ty Cobb said he believes the probe’s focus on Trump’s White House is wrapping up, noting that all White House staffer interviews will be completed by the end of next week.

“At the end of the interviews, it would be reasonable to expect that it would not take long to bring this to conclusion,” Cobb said. “I commend the Office of Special Counsel for their acknowledged hard work on behalf of the country, to undertake this serious responsibility, and to perform it in an expedited but deliberate, thorough way.”

At least two dozen people who traveled in Trump’s orbit in 2016 and 2017 — on the campaign trail, in his transition operation and then in the White House — have been questioned in the past 10 weeks, according to people familiar with the interviews.

The most high profile is Kushner, who met with Mueller’s team in November, as well as former chief of staff Reince Priebus and former press secretary Sean Spicer. Former foreign policy adviser J.D. Gordon has also been interviewed.

White House communications director Hope Hicks was scheduled to sit down with Mueller’s team a few days before Thanksgiving. Mueller’s team has also indicated plans to interview senior associate White House counsel James Burnham and policy adviser Stephen Miller.

McGahn, who was interviewed by Mueller’s prosecutors for a full day Thursday, was scheduled to return Friday to complete his interview. However, the special counsel postponed the session as a courtesy to allow McGahn to help the White House manage the response to Flynn’s plea, a person familiar with the interview said.

Cobb declined to say which White House aides remain to be interviewed.

Several people who worked shoulder to shoulder with Flynn have also been interviewed by Mueller’s operation. That includes retired Gen. Keith Kellogg, the chief of staff to the National Security Council, as well as several people who worked with Flynn Intel Group, a now-shuttered private consulting firm.

Mueller’s group has also inquired whether Flynn recommended specific foreign meetings to senior aides, including Kushner. Investigators were particularly interested in how certain foreign officials got on Kushner’s calendar and the discussions that Flynn and Kushner had about those encounters, according to people familiar with the questions.

During the transition, Kushner and Flynn met with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. At the early December meeting, Kushner suggested establishing a secure communications line between Trump officials and the Kremlin at a Russian diplomatic facility, according to U.S. officials who reviewed intelligence reports describing Kislyak’s account.

Kushner has said that Kislyak sought the secure line as a way for Russian generals to communicate to the incoming administration about U.S. policy on Syria.

Trump’s son-in-law has also been identified by people familiar with his role as the “very senior member” of the transition team who directed Flynn in December to reach out to Kislyak and lobby him about a U.N. resolution on Israeli settlements, according to new court filings.

The volume of questions about Kushner in their interviews surprised some witnesses.

“I remember specifically being asked about Jared a number of times,” said one witness.

Another witness said agents and prosecutors repeatedly asked him about Trump’s decision-making during the May weekend he decided to fire FBI Director James B. Comey. Prosecutors inquired whether Kushner had pushed the president to jettison Comey, according to two people familiar with the interview.

Kushner attorney Abbe Lowell declined to comment on what the president’s son-in-law discussed at his November session with Mueller. “Mr. Kushner has voluntarily cooperated with all relevant inquiries and will continue to do so,” he said.

Two administration officials said that it would be natural for investigators to ask a lot of questions about Kushner, whom Trump put in charge of communicating with foreign officials, adding that such inquiries do not indicate he is a target.

The special counsel has continued to make ongoing requests for records from associates of the Trump campaign, according to two people familiar with the requests. The campaign associates aren’t expected to finish producing these documents by the end of the year. Mueller’s team is also newly scrutinizing an Alexandria-based office and advisers who worked there on foreign policy for the campaign.

In the past several weeks, Mueller’s operation has reached out to new witnesses in Trump’s circle, telling them they may be asked to come in for an interview. One person who was recently contacted said it is hard to find a lawyer available for advice on how to interact with the special counsel because so many Trump aides have already hired attorneys.

“It was kind of a pain,” the person said. “It’s hard to find a lawyer who wasn’t already conflicted out.”

People who have gone before Mueller’s team describe polite but detailed and intense grillings that at times have lasted all day and involved more than a dozen investigators. Spicer, for example, was in the office from about 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. for his fall session. Mueller’s team has recommended nearby lunch spots, but many witnesses have food brought in for fear of being spotted if they go outside.

Mueller has attended some interviews, introducing himself to witnesses when he enters and then sitting along the wall. Sometimes he is joined by his deputy, longtime friend and law partner James Quarles, a former Watergate prosecutor who is the main point of contact for the White House.

Investigators bring large binders filled with emails and documents into the interview room. One witness described the ricochet of questions that followed each time an agent passed them a copy of an email they had been copied on: “Do you remember this email? How does the White House work? How does the transition work? Who was taking the lead on foreign contacts? How did that work? Who was involved in this decision? Who was there that weekend?”

Some witnesses were introduced to so many federal agents and lawyers that they later lamented that they had largely forgotten many of their names by the time one team left the room and a new team entered.

“They say, ‘Hey, we’re not trying to be rude, but people are going to come in and out a lot,’ ” one witness explained about the teams. “They kind of cycle in and out of the room.”

One contingent of investigators is focused on whether Trump tried to obstruct justice and head off the investigation into Russian meddling by firing Comey in May. Prosecutors Brandon Van Grack and Jeannie Rhee have been involved in matters related to Flynn.

Yet another team is led by the former head of the Justice Department’s fraud prosecutions, Andrew Weissman, and foreign bribery expert Greg Andres. Those investigators queried lobbyists from some of the most powerful lobby shops in town about their interactions with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and campaign adviser Rick Gates.

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Mueller’s team charged Manafort and Gates last month with engaging in a conspiracy to hide millions of dollars in hidden foreign accounts and secretly creating an elaborate cover story to conceal their lobbying work for a former Ukrainian president and his pro-Russia political party. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Lawyers familiar with prosecutors’ questions about Manafort said they expect several more charges to come from this portion of the case.

People familiar with the Mueller team said they convey a sense of calm that is unsettling.

“These guys are confident, impressive, pretty friendly — joking a little, even,” one lawyer said. When prosecutors strike that kind of tone, he said, defense lawyers tend to think: “Uh oh, my guy is in a heap of trouble.”

Rosalind S. Helderman contributed to this report.

Inside the secretive nerve center of the Mueller investigation – Washington Post

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Washington Post
Inside the secretive nerve center of the Mueller investigation
Washington Post
A white sedan whisked a man into the loading dock of a glass and concrete building in a drab office district in Southwest Washington. Security guards quickly waved the vehicle inside, then pushed a button that closed the garage door and shielded the 
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Mueller reportedly ousted an investigator on his team over possible anti-Trump textsBusiness Insider
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Trump Says ‘Absolutely No Collusion’ With Russia After Michael Flynn Pleads Guilty

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The former national security adviser may testify that a senior member of Trump’s transition team told him to contact Russia about an upcoming United Nations vote.

Mueller Removed Top FBI Agent Over Possible Anti-Trump Texts – New York Times

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New York Times
Mueller Removed Top FBI Agent Over Possible Anti-Trump Texts
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He helped lead the investigation into whether Hillary Clinton mishandled classified information on her private email account, and then played a major role in the investigation into links between President Trump’s campaign and Russia. But Mr. Strzok was 
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Mike Flynn – Google News: Trump says Michael Flynn’s actions during transition were ‘lawful’ and ‘there was nothing to hide’ – CNBC

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Trump says Michael Flynn’s actions during transition were ‘lawful’ and ‘there was nothing to hide’
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Earlier, Trump told reporters that there was “no collusion” with Russia, in spite of Flynn entering a guilty plea on Friday. The former White House official confessed to lying to the FBI about discussions he held with a Russian ambassador. However 
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7:27 AM 12/3/2017 – Russias Population Prospects Now So Dire…

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West Russia Putin – Google News: Russia prepares for ARCTIC WAR: Putin ready for mega clash with West – Daily Star
Voice of America: McMaster: ‘Increasing’ Possibility of War with North Korea
Voice of America: VOA Newscasts – December 03, 2017
NPR News Now: NPR News: 12-03-2017 5AM ET
HR McMaster brushes off reports that North Korea ICBM broke up – Washington Examiner
McMaster: North Korean threat increasing every day – ABC News
McMaster: North Korean threat increasing every day – ABC News
Two CIA directors spar over President Trump’s tweets – Los Angeles Times
Exclusive: Pentagon Evaluating US West Coast Missile Defense Sites – Officials – U.S. News & World Report
Secretary of State Tillerson on reports that White House is considering plan to oust him: “It’s laughable” – WTHR
Mueller reportedly ousted an investigator on his team over possible anti-Trump texts – Business Insider
Mueller removed top FBI agent over possible anti-Trump texts – WatertownDailyTimes.com
Mueller reassigned top FBI agent in Russia probe over anti-Trump texts, reports say – NBCNews.com
Why Robert Mueller Threw An Agent Off the Trump-Russia Probe – Newsweek
Top FBI official on Russia probe said to have been removed after anti-Trump texts – Jamestown Sun
Mueller Removed FBI Agent From Russia Probe Over Anti-Trump Messages – KWIT
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Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russias Population Prospects Now So Dire that Scholar Calls for a Cheka for Demographics
Paul Goble

Staunton, December 2 In an open letter to Vladimir Putin, demographer Yury Krupnov says that the demographic situation in Russia is rapidly becoming so dire that the Kremlin can only reverse it be creating an Extraordinary Demographic Commission or a Cheka for Demography.

Krupnov says that he fully supports Putins call for doing more to promote Russias demographic well-being but says that he cannot fully agree that the Kremlin leaders idea of providing funds to families on the birth of even their first child will be sufficient or even effective (ruskline.ru/news_rl/2017/12/02/my_obvalno_padaem_v_demograficheskuyu_yamu/).

Giving mothers 10,000 rubles (150 US dollars) a month after the birth of a child, he says, wont lead more Russians to have more children and thus will not save the country from a deepening demographic catastrophe, one brought on Krupnov says by the failure of the government to act on Putins 2012 call for making three-child families the norm.

Instead, he says, the Russian authorities have behaved in ways that make childless or only one-child families the norm for Russians.  To reverse that, Krupnov argues, the government should instead provide funds for those who have a third, fourth or fifth child in order to prompt people to have the first and second in order to get support for more later.

According to Krupnov, who has long beaten the drums for larger families, Russia is rapidly falling into a demographic hole which will be just as deep if not deeper than the hole of the end of the 1990s, when the expression, the Russian cross, emerged.

Krupnov says he fears that officials have been misleading Putin about just how bad things are and are likely to become.  As a result, the real horror of the situation is not just how serious things have become but rather the failure of the authorities to discuss it seriously and not engage in ideological fantasies about supposed improvements.

In this extraordinary situation, he continues, I consider it critically necessary to organize a serious, deep and open discussion of what demographic policy the country needs and via this to sharply push forward and deepen the understanding of the demographic problem as a priority for the country.

To that end, Krupnov suggests the formation of an Extraordinary Demographic Commission (CheDemKa) which in the course of approximately a year could come up with an adequate complex of measures for the demographic salvation of the country.  Such measures given the seriousness of the problem will necessarily be extraordinary.

Today, Krupnov says, it should be obvious to all that the main problem of the country is in demography and thus is it is entirely appropriate to call for an Extraordinary Commission to address that problem.

Putins speech earlier this week has led others to focus on just how bad the demographic situation in Russia now is, a situation in which the declining number of women in prime child-bearing ages is combining with changing family size preferences and the impact of the economic crisis to drive birthrates down.

See for example the discussions of the problem at svpressa.ru/blogs/article/187512/,

nakanune.ru/news/2017/12/02/22491294/and nakanune.ru/articles/113511/. But three things about Krupnovs letter are striking. First, he attacks the government in order to try to get Putin on his side, the latest of the good tsar-bad boyar view that l so much of Russian thinking.

Second, by talking about a Cheka, he equates the demographic problem now to the threats to the Soviet state in its earliest days, an equation that will likely lead more people to focus on the demographic disaster that Russia is facing and that there are very few means the government has at its disposal to address.

And third, and most important, by calling for a Cheka in this area, Krupnov has appealed to one of Putins core views on how to act: not by gradual effort but by extraordinary intervention, an approach that has its roots in the Soviet past but that continues to define his approach, however ineffective it is likely to be in this area as well as in many others.

Window on Eurasia — New Series

West Russia Putin – Google News: Russia prepares for ARCTIC WAR: Putin ready for mega clash with West – Daily Star

Daily Star
Russia prepares for ARCTIC WAR: Putin ready for mega clash with West
Daily Star
He added: The UN Commission gave Russia the right to extensive holdings in the Sea of Okhotsk, in the Western Pacific, in 2013. Moscow promptly converted it to an exclusive naval bastion and preserve for its energy companies. It would not surprise

and more »

West Russia Putin – Google News

Voice of America: McMaster: ‘Increasing’ Possibility of War with North Korea
The White House national security advisor says the  possibility of war with impoverished, but nuclear-armed North Korea is “increasing every day.” “There are ways to address this problem short of armed conflict,” H.R. McMaster said Saturday, “but it is a race because he’s getting closer and closer and there’s not much time left,” in a reference to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. North Korea announced last week that it can now hit the U.S. mainland with a warhead, after its test-firing of a new intercontinental ballistic missile. Media reports say the Pentagon is looking at U.S. west coast sites where additional defense systems can be installed, following the North Korean threat of a strike on the U.S.    The Reuters news agency says the defenses would likely include Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missiles, similar to those deployed in South Korea. “The newly developed intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-15 has been successfully test-launched according to the political decision and strategic judgement of the Workers’ Party of Korea, read an announcer Wednesday on North Koreas state-run KRT television. Following previous launches, the North has claimed its projectiles can hit any part of the continental United States, but this would be the first time it would be able to do so with this new type of upgraded missile, which both North Korean and U.S. officials said could fly higher than the ones the country has tested earlier. McMaster urged China to slap a total oil embargo on North Korea, as a way of deterring fuel missile launches. “You can’t shoot a missile without fuel,” he said. North Korea, meanwhile, characterized the U.S. and South Korea as “warmongers” Sunday, a day ahead of the U.S. and South Korea’s largest-ever joint air exercises.     The North’s ruling party Rodong newspaper said Sunday the joint exercises are “an open, all-out provocation against” North Korea that could “lead to a nuclear war any moment.” It is not clear if Pyongyang has mastered the capability of miniaturizing and mounting a nuclear warhead on an ICBM, which South Korean officials have said could happen within a matter of months.   Analysts also question North Koreas technical mastery of ICBM re-entry, which plays a key role in targeting.  In the event of a launch at the U.S. mainland, U.S. missile defense systems would be employed.

Voice of America

Voice of America: VOA Newscasts – December 03, 2017
Give us 5 minutes, and we’ll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

Download audio: https://av.voanews.com/clips/VEN/2017/12/03/20171203-100000-VEN119-program_original.mp3

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NPR News Now: NPR News: 12-03-2017 5AM ET
NPR News: 12-03-2017 5AM ET

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HR McMaster brushes off reports that North Korea ICBM broke up – Washington Examiner

Washington Examiner
HR McMaster brushes off reports that North Korea ICBM broke up
Washington Examiner
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said Saturday that North Korea is improving its nuclear missile program even amid reports that the regime’s intercontinental ballistic missile launched this week broke upon re-entry. Kim 
McMaster: Potential of war with North Korea ‘increasing every day’The Hill (blog)

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McMaster: North Korean threat increasing every day – ABC News

CNN
McMaster: North Korean threat increasing every day
ABC News
The threat emerging from North Korea’s rogue regime is increasing every day, according to White House national security advisor H.R. McMaster. Interested in North Korea? Add North Korea as an interest to stay up to date on the latest North Korea news 
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McMaster: North Korean threat increasing every day – ABC News

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McMaster: North Korean threat increasing every day
ABC News
National security adviser H.R. McMaster listens during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, July 31, 2017. more +. 0 Shares. Email. The threat emerging from North Korea’s rogue regime is increasing every day, according to White 
McMaster: Potential for War with NKorea ‘Increasing Every Day’Newsmax
Trump adviser says war with North Korea closer ‘every day’ as rogue nation makes further threatsDaily Telegraph
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Two CIA directors spar over President Trump’s tweets – Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times
Two CIA directors spar over President Trump’s tweets
Los Angeles Times
President Trump’s provocative use of social media including his recent retweeting of three anti-Muslim videos from a far-right British fringe group could put lives at risk, according to one former CIA director. The agency’s current director 
CIA director: Trump tweets yielding valuable intelligenceCNN
CIA chief Pompeo says he warned Iran’s Soleimani over Iraq aggressionReuters
CIA Chief Sends Letter To Iranian General Over Threats To US Forces In IraqRadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

all 12 news articles »

Exclusive: Pentagon Evaluating US West Coast Missile Defense Sites – Officials – U.S. News & World Report

U.S. News & World Report
Exclusive: Pentagon Evaluating US West Coast Missile Defense Sites – Officials
U.S. News & World Report
FILE PHOTO: A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during a successful intercept test, in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency. U.S. Department of Defense, Missile 

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Secretary of State Tillerson on reports that White House is considering plan to oust him: “It’s laughable” – WTHR
Secretary of State Tillerson on reports that White House is considering plan to oust him: “It’s laughable”
WTHR
The removal of the agent, who also had worked on the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, occurred this summer. The person who discussed the matter with The Associated Press was not authorized to speak about it publicly and 

and more »

Mueller reportedly ousted an investigator on his team over possible anti-Trump texts – Business Insider

Business Insider
Mueller reportedly ousted an investigator on his team over possible anti-Trump texts
Business Insider
Special counsel Robert Mueller ousted a top counterintelligence investigator on his team because of an investigation into messages he sent that could be seen as critical of President Donald Trump. The investigator, Peter Strzok, worked on the FBI’s 
Top FBI counterintelligence agent who helped lead investigation into Clinton emails is FIRED from the Mueller probe …Daily Mail
Report: Mueller removed ‘top FBI’ agent from Trump-Russia case after anti-Trump texts discoveredTheBlaze.com
FBI agent removed from Mueller probe for anti-Trump messagesThe Advocate
Toronto Sun –Newser
all 66 news articles »
Mueller removed top FBI agent over possible anti-Trump texts – WatertownDailyTimes.com
Mueller removed top FBI agent over possible anti-Trump texts
WatertownDailyTimes.com
WASHINGTON The special counsel, Robert Mueller, removed a top FBI agent from his investigation into Russian election meddling after the Justice Department’s inspector general began examining whether the agent had sent text messages that expressed 

and more »

Mueller reassigned top FBI agent in Russia probe over anti-Trump texts, reports say – NBCNews.com

Axios
Mueller reassigned top FBI agent in Russia probe over anti-Trump texts, reports say
NBCNews.com
Special counsel Robert Mueller removed a top FBI agent over the summer helping to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election, a spokesman for Mueller’s office said Saturday. Confirmation of the agent’s dismissal came after two reports 
FBI agent removed from Mueller’s team for sending anti-Trump textsAxios
Justice Dept. watchdog confirms review of FBI agent communicationsThe Hill (blog)
FBI agent pulled from Mueller probe for alleged anti-Trump textsWDEF News 12
Guardian (blog)
all 48 news articles »
Why Robert Mueller Threw An Agent Off the Trump-Russia Probe – Newsweek

Newsweek
Why Robert Mueller Threw An Agent Off the Trump-Russia Probe
Newsweek
The office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller removed a top investigator amid allegations that he had sent text messages appearing critical of President Donald Trump, the office confirmed on Saturday. Mueller is overseeing the FBI’s investigation into 
Donald Trump says he knew Michael Flynn lied to FBI when he fired himABC Online

all 597 news articles »

Top FBI official on Russia probe said to have been removed after anti-Trump texts – Jamestown Sun

Jamestown Sun
Top FBI official on Russia probe said to have been removed after anti-Trump texts
Jamestown Sun
A former senior Trump administration official said Strzok was even-handed in all of his dealing with the Trump White House. “I had the occasion to work closely with Special Agent Peter Strzok and never experienced even a hint of political bias. He was
Mueller Removed FBI Agent From Russia Probe Over Anti-Trump Messages – KWIT

KWIT
Mueller Removed FBI Agent From Russia Probe Over Anti-Trump Messages
KWIT
In addition to both having worked on Mueller’s probe, Strzok and Page also both had roles in the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server, according to the Post. The reports of Strzok’s removal came just a day after Mueller’s team 
Deutsche Welle: Tens of thousands protest Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu, corruption
Around 20,000 Israelis have protested in Tel Aviv against corruption and legislation they say is designed to protect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from investigation. Netanyahu is suspected in two corruption cases.

Deutsche Welle

Palestinians to US: Don’t Recognize Jerusalem as Israeli Capital
The Palestinians are warning the United States against recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Mahmoud Habash, an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said Saturday that if President Donald Trump were to do so, it would amount to a “complete destruction of the peace process.” Speaking in Abbas’ presence, Habash said “the world will pay the price” for any change in Jerusalem’s status. Officials in Washington say Trump…
6:31 PM 12/2/2017 To Promote Global Security and Tackle Extremism, Decriminalize Drugs World Politics Review
Saved Stories Saved Stories – None The Latest: Trump expresses no concern about Flynn plea deal Kaspersky Lab, Russian antivirus vendor, singled out in warning issued by U.K. cybersecurity chief FBI Warns of Mounting Collaboration Between Nations, Criminals to Launch Cyberattacks Trump Calls Reports That He Will Fire Tillerson Fake News Mattis Begins Five-Day Tour … Continue reading”6:31 PM 12/2/2017 – To Promote Global Security and Tackle Extremism, Decriminalize Drugs – World Politics Review”
The Latest: Trump expresses no concern about Flynn plea deal
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Latest on former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s pleading guilty to a charge of lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia (all times local):

9:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump is expressing no concern about the guilty plea by his former national security adviser Michael …

Kaspersky Lab, Russian antivirus vendor, singled out in warning issued by U.K. cybersecurity chief
The head of Britain’s top cybersecurity agency has warned the U.K. government against using Russian antivirus products amid concerns surrounding Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based software vendor recently banned by U.S. officials over its alleged ties to Russian intelligence.

Ciaran Martin, the director of the U.K. National Cyber Security Centre, warned …

FBI Warns of Mounting Collaboration Between Nations, Criminals to Launch Cyberattacks
FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Thursday that adversarial governments are more often collaborating with criminals to carryout cyber attacks against the United States.

Wray said the indictment of a Canadian national who pleaded guilty on Tuesday to helping Russian spies hack into Yahoo email accounts reflect “one of the more dangerous, emerging threats” facing the United States today, known in the intelligence community as a “blended threat.”

“We are seeing an emergence of that kind of collaboration,” Wray testified before the House Homeland Security Committee, noting that until recently governments and criminals worked separately. “Now there’s this collusion, if you will, that’s occurring on a number of instances like mercenaries being used to commit cyber attacks.”

The Justice Department announced charges in March against Karim Baratov, a 22-year-old Canadian citizen, and three other men, including two officers of Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, for their involvement in the 2014 hack into Yahoo that affected 500 million accounts.

U.S. law enforcement officials said Baratov, who they dubbed a “hacker-for-hire,” acknowledged breaking into email accounts and selling the passwords to an agent of the FSB, a Russian intelligence agency.

The individuals targeted included Russian officials, a European diplomat, a former economic minister from a neighboring country, and a prominent banker.

The case confirmed longstanding suspicions that Russia’s government hires non-government hackers and uses its spy services to facilitate criminal activity in addition to conducting espionage.

Wray, who President Donald Trump handpicked to replace ousted FBI Director James Comey in June, said Russia is attempting to assert its dominance in the world by relying on asymmetric warfare to “damage and weaken” the United States

To combat the threat, Wray said he has set up a “foreign influence task force” within the bureau made up of different divisions, including counterintelligence, cyber, and criminal investigation. He said the agency would also coordinate closely with the Department of Homeland Security, which is charged with overseeing critical election infrastructure, to prevent against cyberattacks.

The post FBI Warns of Mounting Collaboration Between Nations, Criminals to Launch Cyberattacksappeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Trump Calls Reports That He Will Fire Tillerson Fake News
President Donald Trump on Friday dismissed press reports that he plans on firing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, calling them “fake news” in a tweet.

Trump’s comments followed multiple reports, citing administration officials, that the White House has developed a plan to oust Tillerson and replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who in turn would be replaced by Republican Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.).

“The media has been speculating that I fired Rex Tillerson or that he would be leaving soonFake News!” Trump wrote on Twitter. “He’s not leaving.”

Trump added that although he and Tillerson “disagree on certain subjects, (I call the final shots) we work well together and America is highly respected again!”

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

The media has been speculating that I fired Rex Tillerson or that he would be leaving soon – FAKE NEWS! He’s not leaving and while we disagree on certain subjects, (I call the final shots) we work well together and America is highly respected again!https://instagram.com/p/BcLCXDYgQed/ 

3:08 PM – Dec 1, 2017

Twitter Ads info and privacy

The tweet also linked to a post on Trump’s Instagram account, which includes a picture of Tillerson’s swearing-in ceremony.

Trump has frequently been at odds with Tillerson, airing some of their disagreements publicly. The president once said that Tillerson was “wasting his time trying to negotiate” with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“Save your energy, Rex, we’ll do what has to be done,” he tweeted.

In October, both Trump and Tillerson denied reports that the secretary of state threatened to resign, calling them “fake news.” Some news outlets reported at the time that Tillerson had privately called Trump a “moron” at a meeting over the summer.

The post Trump Calls Reports That He Will Fire Tillerson ‘Fake News’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Mattis Begins Five-Day Tour of the Middle East
Secretary of Defense James Mattis is beginning his five-day tour of the Middle East on Friday.

The Department of Defense announced that Mattis will visit Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, and Kuwait.

During his time in Egypt on Saturday, Mattis will meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Defense Minister Gen. Sedki Sobhi.

Mattis will then go to Jordan on Sunday, where King Abdullah II will host a conference on combating extremism in West Africa. Attendees of the meeting in Jordan will include representatives from many countries in Africa and Europe.

Mattis will meet with Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Gen. Qamar Bajwa, who serves as Chief of Army Staff, on Monday. His final stop will be in Kuwait Tuesday, where he will meet with Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah.

Mattis is well known in the region due to his time as commander of U.S. Central Command, which focuses on the Middle East. Mattis had traveled throughout much of the region then and met with regional and local leaders.

The post Mattis Begins Five-Day Tour of the Middle East appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.


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