‘Information’ is playing more outsized role in warfare | NATOs Dilemma: The Ties That Bind Nations Together Are Fraying | Wray to FBI: Our work must be driven by ‘the facts’

‘Information’ is playing more outsized role in warfare

Investments in so-called information capabilities serve a purpose for a more “informatized” military, according to the Defense Department‘s most recent annual report to Congress on China’s military developments. (Martin Barraud/Getty Images):

“Russia views many facets of the information space — to include information operations, space/counterspace, cyber, cyber-enabled psychological operations and electronic warfare, to name a few — as critical to fighting and winning future conflicts, especially against the U.S., according to a recent and unclassified report on Russia’s militarypublished by DIA.

“Moscow perceives the information domain as strategically decisive and critically important to control its domestic populace and influence adversary states. Information warfare is a key means of achieving its ambitions of becoming a dominant player on the world stage,” the report says. “Since at least 2010, the Russian military has prioritized the development of forces and means for what it terms ‘information confrontation,’ which is a holistic concept for ensuring information superiority, during peacetime and wartime. This concept includes control of the information content as well as the technical means for disseminating that content. Cyber operations are part of Russia’s attempts to control the threat environment.” …

“Our adversaries — all of them and potential adversaries — are modernizing at a rate that we were not accounting for and our Army acquisition process has to move at the speed to create that offset,” Maj. Gen. Walter Piatt, who formerly served as deputy director for operations at the Army Rapid Capabilities Office and is now commanding the 10th Mountain Division, said during a panel discussion at the same conference.

In areas such as electronic warfare, Stewart orated a similar refrain from many top military leaders; in 16 years of fighting an adversary that the U.S. can dominate in every domain, the country has forgotten what it’s like to fight a peer competitor that can challenge it in every domain of war.”

NATOs Dilemma: The Ties That Bind Nations Together Are Fraying

NATO is now an organization in desperate need of leadership, direction and, above all, a common cause. Is it time for a major reboot?

KPRC Houston
Wray to FBI: Our work must be driven by ‘the facts’
KPRC Houston
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Newly sworn in FBI Director Christopher Wray gave an indication of the principles that would drive him in his new post, telling agents Wednesday in an email obtained by CNN that facts should be the bedrock of their work. “We must …
Top FBI officials told they might have to testify against Trump: ReportWashington Examiner
FBI officials warned they might have to testify against Trump: reportThe Hill
New FBI DirectorFederal Bureau of Investigation (press release) (blog)
NBCNews.com –Politico –Vox
all 347 news articles »
Saved Stories – None
Trump hedges as military presents new Afghanistan strategy
US military: Georgian soldier killed in latest Afghan attack
The Latest: Trump admin warns against classified info leaks
American Conservatism, 1945-2017
Secret Service Leaves Office in Trump Tower Due to Lease Terms
Homeland Security will waive laws to build US border wall – Washington Post
Report: Trump considering Perry for secretary of Homeland Security – Texas Tribune
The Trump Team’s Dangerous Mixed Messages on North Korea – U.S. News & World Report
McMaster ousts second official on National Security Council – Washington Post
Trump’s national security dominoes – Axios
John Kelly Quickly Moves to Impose Military Discipline on White House – New York Times
Can This National Security Council Handle a Real Crisis? – The Atlantic
Under Trump, a Hollowed-Out Force in Syria Quickly Lost C.I.A. Backing
U.S. Opens Door to Talks With North Korea, While Flexing Military Muscle
America Is Running Out of Bomb-Sniffing Dogs
Trumpocalypse: A Nightmare From Which Theres No Normal Exit
We Are Now in Cold War 2.0
Trump White House Colludes With Fox News to Embrace Disinformation
Why Trump Can’t Trust the Kabul Government
Can the U.S. Military Stop North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Program?
Trump’s reboot of sanctions ushers in ‘new normal’ for Russia
US Signal Command in Europe inactivates as part of overseas restructuring plan
White House unaware of grand jury in Russia probe
Israel’s ‘crown prince’ Netanyahu under fire for crude post
Dept. of Justice to announce crackdown on leakers

 

Saved Stories – None
Trump hedges as military presents new Afghanistan strategy

WASHINGTON (AP) – Frustrated by his options, President Donald Trump is withholding approval of a long-delayed Afghanistan war strategy and even mulling a radical shakeup in his national security team as he searches for a “game changer” after 16 years of indecisive conflict.In a recent Situation Room meeting that …
US military: Georgian soldier killed in latest Afghan attack

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – A NATO Taliban suicide bomber dressed in a woman’s burqa who rammed his motorcycle into a NATO convoy killed a soldier from the country of Georgia and two Afghan civilians were killed when a Taliban suicide bomber dressed in a woman’s burqa rammed his motorcycle into an international convoy, civilians, an Afghan official and the U.S. military said Friday.The attack took place on Thursday  evening and …
The Latest: Trump admin warns against classified info leaks

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Latest on Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ effort to crack down on leaks of classified information (all times local):11:30 a.m.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is warning against leaks of classified information that he says can hurt national security.

His Justice Department announcement comes amid news reports …

American Conservatism, 1945-2017

I’ve spent the last two weeks teaching a course on the history of the conservative intellectual movement for the Hertog political studies program. This is the second year Hertog has offered the course, and the first time under President Trump. I like to joke that I offered the students, all of whom were intelligent, well spoken, and impressive, a complete story. There was a beginning, middle, and end.If, as Alfred North Whitehead said, the history of philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato, then the history of intellectual conservatism in America is a series of influences on the mind of William F. Buckley Jr. We spent the first week reading the thinkers behind National Review: classical liberals such as F.A. Hayek and Milton Friedman, traditionalists such as Richard Weaver and Russell Kirk, the majoritarian constitutionalist Willmoore Kendall, and anti-Communists Whittaker Chambers and, perhaps most important of all, James Burnham. All of these strains of thought are visible in Buckley’s statement of principles in the first National Review, published in the autumn of 1955.

The second week of the course surveyed the years since that debut. The conservatism of National Review found allies in Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, and other neoconservative intellectuals who contributed to The Public Interest and Commentary. Conservatism unearthed a mass base of support among the Middle American Radicals who opposed the Great Society and counterculture of the late 1960s and the social liberalism of the 1970s. Religious conservatism developed as liberal theologians Richard John Neuhaus and Michael Novak transitioned to the right. Conservative thought gave way to conservative politics beginning with Barry Goldwater’s nomination for president in 1964, continuing with Nixon’s Southern Strategy in 1968 and Ronald Reagan’s primary against Gerald Ford in 1976, and culminating in Reagan’s victory in 1980.

We ended our time together by discussing current splits in the right. The differences between foreign-policy neoconservatives and paleoconservatives became acute after victory in the Cold War. In 2017 the spectrum of conservative thought in America  runs from libertarians to neos to paleos to traditionalists to nation-state populists all the way to the alt-right fringe. You have Senator Jeff Flake and his Conscience of a Conservative on one hand, and Steve Bannon and Breitbart.com on the other. The various claimants to the conservative throne each have problems.

Post-World War II American conservatism began as an elite intellectual movement with no mass presence. It ends in the post-post-Cold War era as a mass political movement with no elite support. A visitor to my class remarked that the fusion of intellectuals, activists, and elected officials during the Reagan presidency may have been something that occurs only once in a lifetime. It was hard to argue with him.

My students quickly grasped the importance of anticommunism to the conservative intellectual movement. We read a passage from James Burnham’s Struggle for the World (1947) in which he said that there always is a “key to the situation” in political life. For Burnham, and for conservatives in general between the publication of Hayek’s Road to Serfdom in 1944 and Francis Fukuyama’s End of History and the Last Man in 1992, the key to the situation was the menace of the Soviet Union. All of the factions opposed Soviet tyranny and the forms of collectivism and statist economics associated with it. When the Soviet Union disappeared, so too did conservative unity.

Many conservatives, and I am one of them, see radical Islam as another militant ideology dangerous to American national security and to the principles of a free society. But it also seems to me that attempts to build a conservative coalition around opposition to radical Islam have failed. There are too many intellectual critics of this view. Nor does radical Islam enjoy the support of secular intellectuals as communism did. The key to the situation today may be that there is no key. The United States faces multiple internal and external threats. The effort to formulate a theory that includes them all is bound to fail.

Another takeaway was just how badly damaged the conservative cause was by its opposition to the civil rights movement and federal desegregation of schools. The defenses of the South that Buckley wrote throughout the late ’50s and early ’60s persuaded neither the public at large nor some of the editors of his own magazine. For students today, this history is a barrier to adopting or even wanting to understand the other arguments of conservative intellectuals. One day we watched a lecture Russell Kirk delivered at the University Club in 1980. The students were struck by how white and male the crowd was. For them, Kirk’s monochromatic audience obscured his message.

Still, they were enraptured when Ronald Reagan took the stage in his 1978 Firing Line debate with William F. Buckley Jr. over the Panama Canal Treaties. It was not only Reagan’s commanding presence and voice that got their attention, but also his mastery of detail, his simple language, and his wry jokes. I found it both heartening and depressing that Reagan was as alive to them as he was to that audience 40 years ago. Heartening, because there is still an audience for champions of freedom. Depressing, because Reagan left office more than half a decade before these students were born.

I was happy to dispel some myths about conservatives. During an afternoon session on theocons, we watched an interview with Robert George. A few of the students were surprised. When they heard the phrase “religious conservative,” they thought of Sarah Palin. But here they were watching a soft spoken, earnest, civil Princeton professor quoting moral philosophers and name-checking Cornel West while arguing forcefully against abortion and same-sex marriage. The other day I asked the class if they’d had any idea that so many disputatious conservative intellectual journals are published on a regular basis. The students said no.

What’s the future of conservatism? I abjure speculation. But it is important to remember that American conservatism has gone through several cycles of diffusion and consolidation. In the beginning when Buckley founded National Review, the conservative world was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep. After the landslide defeat of Goldwater, and then Nixon’s resignation, conservatism and the Republican Party were both thought to be finished. But then came 1980. Later, after Reagan, figures as different as R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. and John B. Judis heralded the arrival of the “conservative crackup.” A few years later, Newt Gingrich rallied the movement to win Congress. The obituaries of conservatism were written once more after Barack Obama’s victory in 2008. They were followed by the Tea Party.

Social conditions and individual personalities seem to matter just as much, if not more than, the ideas of intellectuals. Infighting, dogmatism, cliché, conspiracy theories, animosity, confusion, and the absence of authority may characterize the present moment, but one of the lessons of studying conservatism is that the present moment will change. This change will arrive suddenly. Rapidly. And from a direction no one expects.

The post American Conservatism, 1945-2017 appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Secret Service Leaves Office in Trump Tower Due to Lease Terms

The Secret Service is leaving its office in Trump Tower and has moved into a trailer outside of the building.The federal agency and the Trump Organization had a dispute over the terms of the lease, the Washington Post reports. The Secret Service had a command post directly below the Trump family’s residence, but it will now be over 50 floors below.

Amanda Miller, a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization, responded to the Washington Post with a statement.

“After much consideration, it was mutually determined that it would be more cost effective and logistically practical for the Secret Service to lease space elsewhere,” Miller said.

Trump has not visited Trump Tower since his inauguration, although First Lady Melania Trump and their son Barron continued living there until relocating to Washington, D.C. in June. Because Trump Tower is considered the president’s permanent residence, a full-time protective detail will be stationed there.

The White House Military Office does have a location in Trump Tower, which costs $130,000 a month.

The post Secret Service Leaves Office in Trump Tower Due to Lease Terms appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Homeland Security will waive laws to build US border wall – Washington Post
 


Washington Post
Homeland Security will waive laws to build US border wall
Washington Post
The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement it will publish in the coming days in the Federal Register a notice exempting the government from the National Environmental Protection Act, which calls for extensive reviews of environmental …
Collins co-sponsoring border security billWKBW-TVall 59 news articles »

Report: Trump considering Perry for secretary of Homeland Security – Texas Tribune
 


Texas Tribune
Report: Trump considering Perry for secretary of Homeland Security
Texas Tribune
Politico reported on Tuesday that U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, is also in consideration for the post. McCaul leads theU.S. House oversight committee of the department and was a close national security adviser to Trump. More recently, he and more »

The Trump Team’s Dangerous Mixed Messages on North Korea – U.S. News & World Report
 


U.S. News & World Report
The Trump Team’s Dangerous Mixed Messages on North Korea
U.S. News & World Report 
In the latest development, the U.S. Air Force on Wednesday test launched an intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California the fourth such test this year. While the test had been previously scheduled, Air Force 
Tillerson to North Korea: ‘We are not your enemy’Washington Post
It’s bad that Tillerson and Trump are sending mixed messages on North KoreaWashington Examinerall 626 news articles »

 
Trump and Haley have also criticized what they consider China’s refusal to cooperate with U.S. calls to pressure North Korea into compliance. Trump tweeted Tuesday the U.S. will “no longer allow” China to refuse to cooperate in containing North Korea 

McMaster ousts second official on National Security Council – Washington Post
 


Washington Post
McMaster ousts second official on National Security Council
Washington Post
National security adviser H.R. McMaster on Wednesday removed Ezra Cohen-Watnick, his senior intelligence director, from his position in the White House more than four months after he initially tried to get him out of the job. In March, McMaster told 
US national security adviser McMaster removes senior National Security Council official close to Kushner, BannonThe Straits Times

McMaster Fires Controversial Staffer From National Security Council PostHuffPost
White House fires a top intelligence adviserPBS NewsHour 
NSC official Ezra Cohen-Watnick removedCNN
Haaretz
 
CNN
 –The Gazette: Eastern Iowa Breaking News and HeadlinesVox

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Trump’s national security dominoes – Axios
 


Axios
Trump’s national security dominoes
Axios
Dominoes: Trump replaces his Afghanistan commander with McMaster, then brings in someone he likes as national securityadviser. We hear Trump has also considered John Bolton, a darling of conservatives who was U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under …
Trump Says US ‘Losing’ Afghan War in Tense Meeting With GeneralsNBCNews.com
Trump reportedly thinking about making Mike Pompeo national security adviser, shipping HR McMaster to AfghanistanWashington Examiner
Trump, frustrated by Afghan war, suggests firing US commanderCNBC
Washington Post –New York Daily News
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John Kelly Quickly Moves to Impose Military Discipline on White House – New York Times
 


The Hill
John Kelly Quickly Moves to Impose Military Discipline on White House
New York Times
H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser, to dismiss Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a Kushner ally and staff member on theNational Security Council. It was a move Mr. Kushner and Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, had long opposed 
No going back: Anthony Scaramucci’s White House job could cost him millionsUSA TODAY
W.Va. gov: ‘All of us can pronounce’ new WH chief of staff’s nameThe Hillall 10,960 news articles »

Can This National Security Council Handle a Real Crisis? – The Atlantic
 


The Atlantic
Can This National Security Council Handle a Real Crisis?
The Atlantic
We’d like to think that in a crisis the U.S. security apparatus comes together in a moment akin the end of Independence Day, but behind the scenes it’s often more like Derek Zoolander with a computer. No administration gets a nationalsecurity crisisand more »

Under Trump, a Hollowed-Out Force in Syria Quickly Lost C.I.A. Backing

The shuttering of the C.I.A. program, one of the most expensive efforts to arm and train rebels since the 1980s, has forced a reckoning over its successes and failures.
U.S. Opens Door to Talks With North Korea, While Flexing Military Muscle

An offer to negotiate coupled with a missile test lays bare an internal debate over whether diplomatic or military pressure can change Pyongyangs course.
America Is Running Out of Bomb-Sniffing Dogs

A single dog can cost $25,000, and the Chinese and the Saudis are snapping up the best ones.
Trumpocalypse: A Nightmare From Which Theres No Normal Exit

The attempted purging of Jeff Sessions indicates that Trump meant nothing he said about American sovereignty and well-beingEver since inauguration day just over six months ago. the Trump White House has been beleaguered by allegations of nefarious and possibly illegal ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign. For half a year now, those allegations have gradually grown more specific and more serious, while Team Trumps inept handling of these weighty accusations has only rendered them politically more cancerous.

Months of denials from the president and his retinue that they had any ties with Moscow were unwise, since we now know of numerous hush-hush meetings in 2016 between core members of Team Trump and Kremlin representatives. Hence present White House efforts to brush off these mysterious rendezvous with protests that its all no big deal and everybody does it ring hollow since for months the president and his spokespeople repeatedly denied there had been any such meetings.

The recent appointment of Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director indicates where this scandal is headed. A hedge-funder billionaire and media gadfly, Scaramucci has traits which the president admires, above all his well-honed willingness to lie baldly and loudly if not always convincingly on camera.

Trump was dissatisfied with Sean Spicer, his initial spokesman, from day one. While Spicer was willing to lie for the president, his efforts sometimes seemed half-hearted, TV comedy depictions to the contrary. A veteran Republican National Committee staffer, Spicer is a rather normal Washington type and he clearly was never fully at home in the Trump lie factory. Hence his gradual replacement at press briefings by the more ethically malleable Sarah Huckabee Sanders, followed by his recent departure when Scaramucci was appointed to shake up White House messaging.

Based on his initial forays as Trumps media guru complete with anticipated bluster about shaking things up and firing leakers Scaramucci seems to be functioning more as de facto White House chief of staff than the presidents communications director. That said, The Mooch is ideally suited to a job which will require ever grander public deceptions of mounting implausibility as multiple investigations into President Trumps 2016 relations with the Kremlin start to bear fruit.

Read the rest at The Observer …

Filed under: CounterintelligenceEspionageHistoryUSG

We Are Now in Cold War 2.0

Putin has given up on the White House — and that’s terrible news for TrumpNothing was more clear-cut during Donald Trumps presidential campaign than his fervent desire to have a fresh start in relations with Russia. Time and again through 2016, the Republican candidate effusively asked why America couldnt get along with Vladimir Putin and his Kremlin.

Such simplistic statements, implying that relations between two nuclear powers and rivals are based on a personal friendship between leaders, made American foreign policy mavens wince across the political spectrum. Trump was content to ignore the wide range of issues where Washington and Moscow are at odds above all, Putins war on Ukraine and his saber-rattling in Eastern Europe.

I was one of the wincers at Trumps shocking naivete about the Russians, not least because I pronounced that we were in Cold War 2.0 with the Kremlin after Putins annexation of Crimea in the spring of 2014, whether we wanted to be or not. The Republican nominees desire to placate Moscow regardless of Russian conduct did not bode well for the Trump presidency and its foreign policy.

As it turned out, I was an optimist. In the half-year since Donald Trump became our 45th president, his policies toward Putin have proven an obsequious hash. Still unable to admit the consensus of our Intelligence Community that Moscow interfered in our 2016 election his election Trump has kowtowedto the Kremlin strongman, including in public, to no effect except making his White House appear ridiculous.

Trumps obvious desire to appease Moscow by returning their two spy centers in New York and Maryland that were shuttered by President Obama in December in retaliation for Kremlin meddling in our election became an embarrassment among Republicans. Considering that those dachas functioned for decades as covert signals intelligence sites the latter, located on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, was a particularly important SIGINT base for Moscow — that Trump wanted to hand them back to Russian intelligence raised awkward questions in Washington. Therefore, the idea died, much to Kremlin chagrin.

Read the rest at The Observer …

Filed under: CounterintelligenceEspionageUSG

Trump White House Colludes With Fox News to Embrace Disinformation

The Trump administration has started employing Chekist-style tactics to protect itself from KremlinGateWere officially losing the propaganda war with Russia. This isnt entirely news. Two years ago, I explained how the Obama administration, facing a deluge of Kremlin lies aimed at the West, refused to fight back. This shirking of battle in the propaganda war which Vladimir Putin is waging against America and our allies may be the most consequential what-if of our 2016 election.

Hillary Clintons backers have pointed questions about why a Democratic administration proved so timid about resisting the Kremlins weaponized lie machine as well they should. Recently, more troubling questions have emerged about why the Trump White House is even more derelict than its predecessor about this important national security matter.

In response to Russian clandestine interference in our 2016 election a spy campaign in which disinformation and Active Measures, to use proper Chekist terminology, played a pivotal role in harming the Democrats and helping Donald Trump late last year Congress passed and the Obama White House signed a bill giving the State Department $80 million to resist Russian lies aimed at the West.

This, therefore, was the law of the land when President Trump took his oath of office a few weeks later but, as I recently explained, in the more than half a year since, absolutely nothing has been done to follow the law. The State Department has hired nobody, it has created no new programs or organizations, while not spending a dollar of the $80 million Congress gave it for this new and important mission. All this while our Western allies actually are doing something in the fight against the Kremlins lie machine.

Despite repeated inquiries from Congress, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his department have refused to take action and follow the law. Why this is happening has been answered by a new piece in Politico which explains that the reason is more sinister than bureaucratic inertia or lethargy at Foggy Bottom. Some had wondered if this failure was caused by the unprecedented State Department chaos which Tillerson has engendered, which includes not filling key jobs, disregarding advice from in-house experts, and seeming to despise his own department, which he apparently wants to all but disband, on White House orders.

Read the rest at The Observer …

Filed under: CounterintelligenceEspionageUSG

Why Trump Can’t Trust the Kabul Government

Matthew Dearing, Abdul Waheed AhmadPolitics, Middle East

An Afghan man waits for the beginning of prayers in a mosque on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan in Kabul, Afghanistan May 27, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail.

A winning strategy in Afghanistan needs to decentralize security, development and governance priorities away from the United States.

The highly anticipated 2017 White House strategy for Afghanistan has many experts warning there are no good policy options, let alone an effective number of U.S. troops that will solve what Gen. John Nicholson calls a stalemate between insurgents and the Afghan government. Given recent Taliban gains in places such as Helmand and Kunduz, and devastating attacks in the heart of the capital Kabul, the U.S. metric for success sits on a dreary spectrum of lose now, lose later or try not to lose at all. One thing is for certain, the outcome for Afghanistan rests no longer on the shoulders of the United States, rather it is Afghanistans burden to bear. The United States has proven inept at drive-through state buildingnot because it is corrupt or unskilled, but because state-building is complex and long term. Retired Gen. David Petraeus recently called the mission in Afghanistan a generational struggle akin to our security objectives in Korea. If we truly seek success, as Petraeus argues, we need to be there for the long haul. But what being there looks like is another question. A sustainable long-term strategic vision would prioritize going urban over going local in Afghanistan.

Read full article

Can the U.S. Military Stop North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Program?

Dave MajumdarSecurity,

Do we really have any good options?

With North Koreas recent intercontinental ballistic missile test, there is the possibility that policymakers in Washington, D.C., might consider military action against Kim Jon-uns regime in Pyongyang.

While President Donald Trump has stated in the past that he will not tolerate a nuclear-armed North Korea that possesses an ICBM that would be able to strike directly at the United States, the administration has been sending mixed messages in recent days.

Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo has advocated for regime change while U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has stated, the time for talk is over. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters on Tuesday that Washington does not seek regime change, but, instead, seeks a dialogue. However, Vice President Mike Pence immediately rejected engaging North Korea directly.

Assuming Trump himself is serious about stopping North Korea from possessing a nuclear-armed ICBM that can strike the United States directly, there are very few good options available to Washington.

Kims acquisition of ICBM capability hasnt really changed our military options, its just made them more consequential, retired U.S. Marine Corps. Lt. Gen. Emerson Gardner told The National Interest.

The options and their consequences are essentially the same as when his father declared in 2003 that it has nuclear weapons.

Gardner outlined three options that the United States could follow. Options then and now include:

Read full article

Trump’s reboot of sanctions ushers in ‘new normal’ for Russia

As Russia hunkers down for “decades” of U.S. sanctions, the chill in geopolitics is threatening to turn into a deep freeze for an economy retooling after the crash in oil prices.

US Signal Command in Europe inactivates as part of overseas restructuring plan

The U.S. Armys 5th Signal Command cased its colors in a ceremony at Clay Kaserne in Wiesbaden on Friday, marking the end of its 43 years as the leading military signals unit in Europe.

White House unaware of grand jury in Russia probe

null
Israel’s ‘crown prince’ Netanyahu under fire for crude post

Israel’s ‘crown prince,’ Netanyahu’s oldest son, draws public rebuke over crude behavior, social media post
Dept. of Justice to announce crackdown on leakers

The plan under Attorney General Jeff Sessions comes just after The Washington Post published leaked transcripts revealing President Trump’s contentious phone calls with foreign leaders.

 

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‘Information’ is playing more outsized role in warfare
 

mikenova shared this story .

DIA chief: US must avoid ‘Kodak moment’

More so now than ever, information is playing an outsized role in military capabilities and being rolled into conventional elements.

In 21st century warfare, war is cognitive as much as it’s kinetic, Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told a small group of reporters in his office this week.

Top competitors, Stewart said, are organizing their forces in this new information space and have developed doctrine to fight and win in the information age.

Russia views many facets of the information space — to include information operations, space/counterspace, cyber, cyber-enabled psychological operations and electronic warfare, to name a few — as critical to fighting and winning future conflicts, especially against the U.S., according to a recent and unclassified report on Russia’s military published by DIA.

“Moscow perceives the information domain as strategically decisive and critically important to control its domestic populace and influence adversary states. Information warfare is a key means of achieving its ambitions of becoming a dominant player on the world stage,” the report says. “Since at least 2010, the Russian military has prioritized the development of forces and means for what it terms ‘information confrontation,’ which is a holistic concept for ensuring information superiority, during peacetime and wartime. This concept includes control of the information content as well as the technical means for disseminating that content. Cyber operations are part of Russia’s attempts to control the threat environment.”

China, similarly, views information domination as critical and has taken concrete steps to better posture itself in this space.

Investments in so-called information capabilities serve a purpose for a more “informatized” military, according to the Defense Department‘s most recent annual report to Congress on China’s military developments. “The [People’s Liberation Army] conducts military exercises simulating these operations and likely views conventional and cyber operations as means of achieving information dominance,” the report says. “PLA writings suggest EW, cyberspace, deception, counterspace, and other operations during wartime could deny an adversary’s use of information.”

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Nations such as Russia and China have observed how the U.S. fights dating back to Desert Shield and have taken steps to organize and defeat the U.S.

Stewart noted that one of the most important fights in the technological space is in quantum computing and quantum encryption. Whoever wins this fight wins the game, he said, meaning that whoever gets there first can control the market.

Quantum encryption capability allows for one to more easily decrypt traditional encryption methods and make decryption for competitors nearly impossible. Stewart likened quantum encryption to spinning a coin on a flat surface, and in order to read the encrypted message the coin must be caught at just the right spot.

China is making significant advancements in this space with one of the most advanced capabilities in the world, he said, noting that the U.S. advantage is shrinking.

“[H]ow many of you own a Kodak camera? How many of you still use Kodak film?” Stewart asked the audience at the annual GEOINT Symposium in June. “I’m willing to bet it’s not many. Well, if I’d asked that question 20 years ago every hand would be in the air.”

Stewart’s point was that while Kodak dominated the market in photography and even helped invent the digital camera, bringing the first megapixel camera to market; yet the company “refused to completely embrace the digital future they helped create,” Stewart said, failing to bring its previous level of innovation to the next wave of technology. The intelligence community is currently facing its own “Kodak moment”, Stewart remarked, noting that if the IC doesn‘t address the issue, it will be left behind.

He added this week that the challenge for the DIA and the IC is reforming and maintaining the relentless focus on innovation. For the government, embracing disruption can be a challenge.

Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has previously referred to innovation in the private sector as a small brush fire, in that if no one stamps it out, it will continue to burn. “I would describe innovation in the Defense Department as a forest fire: ‘Holy shit, we’re on fire, let’s put it out,’ ” Selva candidly admitted at the fiscal 2017 McAleese/Credit Suisse Defense Programs Conference in 2016, where he highlighted how the department is sometimes averse to change and disruption.

“If we form a hypothesis and build an experiment, you have to be willing to be wrong. Then we can discount that idea and move on to another one. My experience with commercial industry tells me that innovation in commercial industry is exactly that process,” he said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies last year, adding that failure can be tolerated if done small and quickly.

Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work spearheaded the so-called third offset, which essentially looks to ensure conventional deterrence through man-machine teaming and other means to offset military gains made by competitors of the U.S.

Russia and China now have battle networks — theaterwide battle networks, Work warned during a conference last year, that are approaching parity with the U.S. In order to strengthen conventional deterrence, the U.S. wants to make sure it can extend its advantage in that particular area, he said.

Work provided five examples of injecting artificial intelligence and autonomy into these grids: autonomous learning systems that use big data to crunch numbers in ways humans cannot; human-machine collaborative decision-making that provides fused information and visualization coupled with machine-to-machine communication; assisted human operations to allow humans to make more informed decisions and to include physical assistance such as exoskeletons, wearable electronics and disposable sensors; advanced manned-unmanned system teaming; and network-enabled cyber and EW, autonomous weapons, and high-speed weapons, all of which will be injected into these grids to impact performance.

“Our adversaries — all of them and potential adversaries — are modernizing at a rate that we were not accounting for and our Army acquisition process has to move at the speed to create that offset,” Maj. Gen. Walter Piatt, who formerly served as deputy director for operations at the Army Rapid Capabilities Office and is now commanding the 10th Mountain Division, said during a panel discussion at the same conference.

In areas such as electronic warfare, Stewart orated a similar refrain from many top military leaders; in 16 years of fighting an adversary that the U.S. can dominate in every domain, the country has forgotten what it’s like to fight a peer competitor that can challenge it in every domain of war.

“We assume that we had [battlefield supremacy], and therefore we took actions inside the Army to cut our field artillery, to do away with EW inside the Army as a capability, and now we’re finding that those capabilities did not go away on our threat — enemy, adversaries — at the near-peer level. We’ve just been focusing on a different thing the last 15 years, and appropriately so,” Maj. Gen. Bo Dyess, acting director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center at Training and Doctrine Command, told reporters during an Association of the United States Army symposium in March.

Part of the thinking in publicly releasing the Russian study, aside from the fact customers asked for an unclassified version, was its importance to the American people and the notion that it’s hard for decision-makers to shape policy if only a few people know about something, Stewart said.

A similar report on China, to be rolled out in the same fashion as the Russia study, will be coming out soon, Stewart said, with one on North Korea and then Iran to follow.

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NATOs Dilemma: The Ties That Bind Nations Together Are Fraying
 

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NATO is now an organization in desperate need of leadership, direction and, above all, a common cause. Is it time for a major reboot?

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My View: Trump’s Russian ties evident

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The Trump administration continues to deny that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections, including hacking 21 state voter databases; the …

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My View: Trump compromised by Russian ties

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Tom Maertens served as National Security Council director for nonproliferation and homeland defense under presidents … He lives in Mankato.
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My View: Trump’s Russian ties evident

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Stop Hyping Trump’s Links to the Russian Mob (Op-ed)
 

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Gage Skidmore / Flickr

It seems there is some new claim to link Donald Trump and his business empire with “Russian organized crime” almost every day.

There are plenty of reasons to think that Trump’s business model is flawed to the point of being a pyramid scheme, and that his taste in buyers and investors is in the extreme.

But talk of his becoming an ally or instrument of organized crime misses the point.

There is real organized crime in Russia, just as there is everywhere. Some proper gangsters have, from time to time, shown up in these Trump tales.

One notorious old-school Russian criminal or “thief-within-the-code,” as the old underworld elite was called, even lived in the New York Trump Tower for a while.

But there is no evidence Trump and Vyacheslav “Yaponchik” Ivankov, ever met. And given that at the time Ivankov had no criminal record in the United States, there is a distinct limit to how big a deal one can make of this.

The real connection, it would seem, is that many dubious Russian figures who are in the United States illegally have bought into Trump properties. As with so much up-market real estate dealing, it is likely these deals are in part money laundering.

Trump certainly stands accused of building a property empire which has disproportionate exposure to questionable Russian cash. But that’s not quite the “smoking gun” so many yearn for.

First of all, Trump’s aesthetics — all gilt, no guilt — probably appealed to the 1990s generation of Russian nouveau riche. For them, no excess was excessive. Furthermore, communities often cluster, and as the “Trump brand” became known, others gravitated towards it.

More to the point, 1990s Russian money was by definition dirty, generated in a bare-knuckled era of gangster capitalism where the laws were still being rewritten and the market was whatever your muscle or connections made it.

Things have moved on, and there are genuinely quite reputable Russian companies and banks these days, but even they are usually built on money made in the days when all money was dirty.

This is how capitalism emerges, how generations slowly turn yesterday’s dirty practices into today’s historical foibles — think Lloyd’s underwriting slavery or America’s “robber barons.” Unpicking clean money from dirty in the Russian economy is no more possible than it is in the global economy.

So if you sell to Russians without caring too much who they are, or if you look for investments outside the handful of blue-chip Russian sources, what will you get?

A mix of a clean, gangster but mainly just grubby money, courtesy of what is still a rapacious, corrupt, capital-flighty, embezzlement-heavy, corrupt economy.

That said, the odds are that you’re dealing with Russian businessmen, not tattooed criminal gangsters.

Get beyond the street-level thuggery and the supply chains moving trafficked people and drugs to the lucrative Western markets and your modern “Russian organised crime” figure is likely an entrepreneur with a portfolio of assets from the dirty to the essentially clean.

He’ll be educated and solvent, connected to local and even national political circles and savvy enough to move his money around so that it is next to impossible to prove its criminal origins.

In this respect, they are not that different from so many investors from China, Africa or so many other parts of the world where economic opportunities have outpaced morality and governance. And they are not just buying into Trump properties, they are investing in central London penthouses, Caribbean mansions, Miami beachfront condos, and luxury yachts.

In the current feverish mood, in which many believe that opposing and decrying Trump is a patriotic duty, there is a risk that all this sounds like excusing him. However, I would suggest it is actually raising the rather more real and general problem.

However satisfying it might be to find proof that a tattooed Russian mobster carried a suitcase of blood-stained cash into Trump Tower and bought off the president-to-be, that seems rather unlikely.

Trump was ahead of the downward curve, driven by his desperate need to bail out an often-mismanaged property empire by looking for emerging market money, including from Russia.

There is no evidence yet that this has turned him into a pawn of a mythologized “Russian mafia” or the Kremlin, but that shouldn’t be the only point.

Instead, his business dealings hold up a depressingly accurate mirror to the worst-case scenarios of today’s transnational financial markets.

They also show the “business-is-business” values these markets embody, in which compliance too often simply means deniability, and in which everyone is willing to be a money laundry, so long as there has been a little pre-washing beforehand.

Trump’s sin, and his service, is to show us the dangers in unrestrained, globalized capitalism. Bigly.

Mark Galeotti is a senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations Prague and coordinator of its Center for European Security.

The views and opinions expressed in opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the position of The Moscow Times.

My View: Evidence shows Trump, businesses connected to Russia | Editorials
 

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The Trump administration continues to deny that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections, including hacking 21 state voter databases; the campaign/White House issued at least 20 blanket denials of meeting with Russians, now shown to be lies.

The evidence is overwhelming that Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort knowingly conspired with Russia to alter the 2016 election. Trump Jr. was told explicitly that the June 9 meeting he accepted with several Russians was very sensitive because Russia was supporting his father.

His emails make the transactions clear: the Kremlin offered assistance, and subsequently left behind “compromising material” on Hillary Clinton; Trump Jr. willingly accepted it knowing it came from Russia and was intended to affect the election. The (eventual) quid pro quo involved “adoptions” (the Magnitsky Act), which imposed sanctions on 44 of Putin’s cronies linked to murder, corruption or cover-ups.

Besides the Trump Jr., Manafort and Kushner meetings, Page, Flynn, and Sessions also met with Russian officials and lied about it.

The idea that these meetings took place without the knowledge and direction of Trump is laughable. Trump has consistently defended Russia, and denigrated his own intelligence community and the press, while impeding or obstructing investigations.

For his part, Trump had multiple private meetings with Putin at the Hamburg G20 meeting, with no Americans present. There was no American notetaker in the Oval Office meeting Trump had with Russians where he disclosed highly classified information. What else did Trump give away?

Why did Jared Kushner attempt to set up a secret back-channel communication with the Kremlin inside the Russian embassy to avoid detection by U.S. intelligence?

We already know that Roger Stone, a Trump campaign official, admitted to having contacts with Wikileaks, which the CIA director labelled a hostile intelligence service, (and which Trump professed to “love” over 140 times during the last 30 days of the campaign) and with Guccifer 2.0, a front for Russian military intelligence. Stone also betrayed his involvement by his foreknowledge that John Podesta’s email account would be hacked.

Several investigations are underway which should confirm who the culprits were and how they manipulated the elections.

What most Americans don’t understand is the connection between Putin, the KGB/FSB, and the Russian mob. Boris Yeltsin himself described Russia as “the biggest mafia state in the world.”

The connection dates back to the Communist Party’s rainy day slush fund — said to exceed $20 billion — in case Gorbachev’s reforms got out of control and they had to flee the country. The KGB was charged with exporting the money, which it subcontracted to the mob to launder and invest abroad.

When the Soviet Union disintegrated, Yeltsin abolished the Communist Party, leaving the KGB/mafia with all that money, which they used to buy real estate abroad and distressed enterprises in Russia as their own insurance policies.

When Putin succeeded Yeltsin as president, he endorsed Russian intelligence connections with the country’s mobsters and oligarchs, allowing them to operate freely as long as they served his personal interests. Multiple sources make clear that Putin and the FSB/KGB essentially control the Russian mob.

According to James Henry, former chief economist at McKinsey & Company, some $1.3 trillion in illicit capital has been sent out of Russia since the 1990s, parked mostly in real estate, like Trump’s. In fact, Trump Jr. said in 2008 that most of the Trump money was coming from Russia.

The Guardian has uncovered elaborate ties between the Trump family and Russian money laundering in New York real estate (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/24/jared-kushner-new-york-russia-money-laundering).

According to Craig Unger in The New Republic, at least 13 people with known or alleged links to Russian mobsters or oligarchs have owned, lived in, and even run criminal activities out of Trump Tower and other Trump properties over the past three decades. USA Today reported that “the president and his companies have been linked to at least 10 wealthy former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations or money laundering.”

Unger cites multiple sources about hundreds of Trump units that were sold to “Russian-speakers” and concludes that, without the Russian mafia, Donald Trump would not be president of the United States.

Trump is clearly running scared, desperate to stop the investigation; he fired Comey, he’s threatening to fire Mueller and is talking about presidential pardons, all intended to obstruct justice. As former Justice Department spokesman Matt Miller said: “Trump looks ‘super guilty.’”

Trump continues to claim the Russia connection is a “hoax,” but it’s gotten the Trump crime family in deep trouble.

Tom Maertens worked on Soviet and then Russian affairs for a dozen years, inside the State Department, at the U.S. Consulate General in Leningrad, and as Minister-Counselor for Science, Environment and Technology at U.S. Embassy Moscow. Sources for this article can be found in the online version at mankatofreepress.com

Trump lashes out over Russia probe, after news of grand jury (VIDEO) | World
 

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US President Donald Trump accompanied by Senator Shelly Moore Capito arrive at Huntington tri-state airport for a rally in Huntington, West Virginia, August 3, 2017. Reuters picUS President Donald Trump accompanied by Senator Shelly Moore Capito arrive at Huntington tri-state airport for a rally in Huntington, West Virginia, August 3, 2017. — Reuters picWASHINGTON, Aug 4 — Donald Trump described Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election as a “total fabrication” yesterday amid reports that a special prosecutor has impaneled a grand jury to investigate the issue, a step toward possible criminal indictments.

“We didn’t win because of Russia. We won because of you,” Trump said at a campaign-style rally in West Virginia.

Trying to build support among his core supporters, he said his enemies were “trying to cheat you out of the leadership you want with a fake story that is demeaning to all of us and most importantly, demeaning to our country and demeaning to our constitution.”

“The reason why Democrats only talk about the totally made-up Russia story is because they have no message, no agenda, and no vision,” he said.

“The Russia story is total fabrication. It’s just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics.”

His comments came after the Wall Street Journal revealed that special counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury to investigate Russia’s interference with the 2016 presidential election.

The newspaper, citing two unnamed sources familiar with the matter, reported that the grand jury had begun its work in the US capital Washington “in recent weeks.”

The move is a sign that the sweeping federal investigation — which includes allegations that Trump campaign officials coordinated with Russia to tilt the election in the Republican’s favour — is gathering pace.

The establishment of a grand jury will allow Mueller — a former FBI director — to subpoena documents and get sworn testimony. It could well lead to criminal indictments.

“It’s a significant escalation of the process,” national security attorney Bradley Moss told AFP.

“You don’t impanel a grand jury unless your investigation has discovered enough evidence that you feel reflects a violation of at least one, if not more, criminal provisions,” he said.

“If you secure an indictment, your next step is to arrest the defendant.”

Presidential lawyer Ty Cobb said he was not aware that a grand jury had been convened.

“Grand jury matters are typically secret,” Cobb said, adding that “the White House favors anything that accelerates the conclusion of his work fairly.”

“The White House is committed to fully cooperating with Mr Mueller.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president was not likely the subject of the investigation.

“Former FBI director Jim Comey said three times the president is not under investigation and we have no reason to believe that has changed,” she said.

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores declined to comment on the report.

‘Investigatory independence’

Trump has repeatedly denied allegations of collusion, saying he is the victim of a political “witch hunt” and “fake news”.

But he has been forced to acknowledge that his eldest son, Donald Jr, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and his then campaign advisor Paul Manafort did meet a Kremlin-connected lawyer to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Mueller is also said to be investigating Trump’s financial records unrelated to Russia or the election, CNN reported.

Trump has publicly warned Mueller that his financial dealings should be out of bounds and investigating them would cross a red line.

If called to testify before a grand jury, Trump would not be the first president to do so. Then president Bill Clinton was forced to give details about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, evidence that was used in his impeachment.

yesterday’s revelations will only fuel speculation that Trump may try to curb the investigation by firing Mueller.

Two US senators introduced a bipartisan bill yesterday to pre-empt that move by insulating Mueller.

The legislation, sponsored by Democrat Chris Coons and Republican Thom Tillis, would bar a president from directly firing the special counsel without a judicial review.

Under the bill, Mueller would be allowed to challenge his removal in court in the event he is fired without good cause.

“A back-end judicial review process to prevent unmerited removals of special counsels not only helps to ensure their investigatory independence, but also reaffirms our nation’s system of check and balances,” Tillis said in a statement.

Coons added: “Ensuring that the special counsel cannot be removed improperly is critical to the integrity of his investigation.” — AFP

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Trump Supports Plan to Cut Legal Immigration by Half – New York Times
 

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Trump Supports Plan to Cut Legal Immigration by Half
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WASHINGTON President Trump embraced a proposal on Wednesday to slash legal immigration to the United States in half within a decade by sharply curtailing the ability of American citizens and legal residents to bring family members into the country.
Trump, GOP senators introduce bill to slash legal immigration levelsWashington Post
Trump, GOP senators unveil measure to cut legal immigrationThe Hill
Late-night hosts to Trump: ‘Wherever you are today, it’s not based on merit’The Guardian
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What is a grand jury Robert Mueller Trump Russia
 

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  • Special Counsel Robert Mueller (R) departs after briefing members of the U.S. Senate on his investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua RobertsRobert Mueller, right. Thomson ReutersRobert Mueller, the FBI’s special counsel, impaneled a grand jury in recent weeks to help him investigate Russia’s election interference.
  • The move signals the scope of the investigation is broadening, and the jury has already issued subpoenas.
  • Investigators have also seized on Trump’s financial ties to Russia as a potential avenue of investigation, according to CNN.

Robert Mueller, the special counsel leading the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, has impaneled a grand jury, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The grand jury has been working for several weeks already, according to The Journal, and marks an escalation of the investigation into the election meddling and whether President Donald Trump’s campaign team was involved.

“It is a clear sign that this investigation is escalating, and it likely means we are going to see a parade of White House staffers and other Trump associates coming in and out of the courthouse in downtown Washington,” Matthew Miller, a Justice Department spokesman under President Barack Obama, told Business Insider.

“While testimony is secret, you can’t hide who is coming in and out of that courthouse,” Miller said, “and it will put tremendous pressure on White House staffers who will be wondering what their friends and associates testified to behind closed doors.”

Reuters reported that the jury had already issued subpoenas related to the June 2016 meeting between Trump’s eldest son and a Russian lawyer with connections to the Kremlin. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, also attended the meeting.

A grand jury “serves as the mechanism by which” criminal charges are initiated, according to Alex Whiting, a former federal prosecutor, and it has the authority to subpoena documents and witnesses.

“In any complex or long-term criminal investigation, therefore, federal prosecutors will go to the grand jury to compel the production of documents or records,” Whiting wrote in May. “Or if they want to force witnesses to testify under oath, which a grand jury subpoena requires unless the witness has a valid privilege not to testify.”

Stephen Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas who specializes in national-security law, told The Journal that the grand jury was “a further sign that there is a long-term, large-scale series of prosecutions being contemplated and being pursued by the special counsel.”

Emily Pierce, who was a Justice Department official in the Obama administration, told Business Insider that impaneling a grand jury “does not necessarily mean Mueller will bring charges,” adding that “it certainly ups the ante for anyone who may be a target of this probe.”

Miller said the choice of venue for the grand jury was “notable,” too.

“Washington is where any obstruction-of-justice crimes that occurred in the White House would be appropriately venued,” he said.

Mueller reportedly expanded the investigation in May to include obstruction of justice, days after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the Russia probe.

In June, Mueller took over the grand-jury investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s lobbying work for a Turkish businessman, according to Reuters. And experts say Mueller appears to be widening his investigation into Trump’s associates by impaneling the second grand jury.

“While many people have focused on the potential actions of the president and whether he can face charges, I think that the lower-level folks who are reportedly targets have more to fear, given it is likely more difficult to indict a president than a campaign operative,” Pierce said.

Vladeck agreed.

“If there was already a grand jury in Alexandria looking at Flynn, there would be no need to reinvent the wheel for the same guy,” he told The Journal. “This suggests that the investigation is bigger and wider than Flynn, perhaps substantially so.”

Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, said that impaneling a grand jury was “an early step, not a late step, in an investigation.”

“It means there is enough evidence to warrant serious investigation,” Mariotti wrote on Twitter. “But it does not mean that charges will be sought.”

The White House said in a statement attributed to Ty Cobb, the special counsel to the president, that it “favors anything that accelerates the conclusion of his work fairly.”

He continued: “The White House is committed to fully cooperating with Mr. Mueller.”

Whiting previously wrote that grand jury investigations “can last for months or even years, as prosecutors chase down evidentiary leads and amass the documentary and testimonial evidence.”

According to reports, Mueller has additionally expanded the investigation to examine Trump’s financial history and business dealings, and he recently added a 16th lawyer to his team of investigators: Greg Andres, a former Justice Department official who managed the department’s program targeting illegal foreign bribery.

Citing people familiar with the investigation, CNN reported on Thursday that “federal investigators exploring whether Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian spies have seized on Trump and his associates’ financial ties to Russia as one of the most fertile avenues for moving their probe forward.”

The investigators are apparently examining Trump Organization financial records and looking at who purchased Trump-branded real estate in the past six years, according to CNN. They’re also probing the backgrounds of people like the Russian-Azerbaijani oligarch Aras Agalarov, who helped bring Trump’s Miss Universe pageant to Moscow in 2013.

Exclusive: Grand jury subpoenas issued in relation to Trump Jr., Russian lawyer meeting
 

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August 3, 2017 / 8:42 AM / 44 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Grand jury subpoenas have been issued in connection with a June 2016 meeting that included President Donald Trump’s son, his son-in-law and a Russian lawyer, two sources told Reuters on Thursday, in a sign that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is gathering pace.

The sources added that Mueller had convened a grand jury in Washington to help investigate allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

Russia has loomed large over the first six months of the Trump presidency. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia worked to tilt the presidential election in Trump’s favor. Mueller, who was appointed special counsel in May, is leading the probe, which also examines potential collusion by the Trump campaign with Russia.

Moscow denies any meddling and Trump denies any collusion by his campaign, while regularly denouncing the investigations as political witch hunts.

Mueller’s use of a grand jury could give him expansive tools to pursue evidence, including issuing subpoenas and compelling witnesses to testify. The impaneling of the grand jury was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

A spokesman for Mueller declined comment.

A grand jury is a group of ordinary citizens who, working behind closed doors, considers evidence of potential criminal wrongdoing that a prosecutor is investigating and decides whether charges should be brought.

“This is a serious development in the Mueller investigation,” said Paul Callan, a former prosecutor.

“Given that Mueller inherited an investigation that began months ago, it would suggest that he has uncovered information pointing in the direction of criminal charges. But against whom is the real question.”

U.S. stocks and the dollar weakened following the news, while U.S. Treasury securities gained.

Damaging Information

News last month of the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer who he was told had damaging information about his father’s presidential rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton, fueled questions about the campaign’s dealings with Moscow.

The Republican president has defended his son’s behavior, saying many people would have taken that meeting.

Trump’s son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort also attended the meeting.

Ty Cobb, special counsel to the president, said he was not aware that Mueller had started using a new grand jury.

“Grand jury matters are typically secret,” Cobb said. “The White House favors anything that accelerates the conclusion of his work fairly. … The White House is committed to fully cooperating with Mr. Mueller.”

John Dowd, one of Trump’s personal lawyers, said: “With respect to the news of the grand jury, I can tell you President Trump is not under investigation.”

A spokesman for Manafort declined to comment.

Lawyers for Trump Jr. and Kushner did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

One source briefed on the matter said Mueller was investigating whether, either at the meeting or afterward, anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign encouraged the Russians to start releasing material they had been collecting on the Clinton campaign since March 2016.

Another source familiar with the inquiry said that while the president himself was not now under investigation, Mueller’s investigation was seeking to determine whether he knew of the June 9 meeting in advance or was briefed on it afterward.

Additional reporting by Noeleen Walder, Jan Wolfe, Anthony Lin, Jonathan Stempel, Tom Hals, Julia Ainsley and Joel Schectman; Writing by Frances Kerry and Phil Stewart; Editing by Bill Trott and Peter Cooney

August 2, 2017 / 9:07 PM / 21 hours ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told Attorney General Jeff Sessions last weekend that his job was safe after Sessions endured several weeks of sharp public criticism from President Donald Trump, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday.

Kelly, who was named chief of staff by Trump on Friday, phoned Sessions on Saturday to reassure him the White House wanted him to remain as head of the Justice Department, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The conversation was first reported by the Associated Press.

Kelly said Trump was still annoyed with Sessions’ decision in March to recuse himself from the investigation of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, but there had been “kind of a thaw” in Trump’s attitude toward him, according to the official.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters for comment.

The Kremlin says it did not interfere in the election, and Trump has denied any collusion.

Last week, Trump assailed Sessions in a tweet as “very weak” and said he was “very disappointed” with his attorney general in a Wall Street Journal interview.

When asked at a news conference last week about Sessions’ future, Trump replied: “Time will tell. Time will tell.”

Republican lawmakers rallied to the defense of Sessions, a former U.S. senator from Alabama, and Trump has not mentioned him in tweets in recent days.

Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by Eric Beech; Editing by Peter Cooney

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Oh, Wait. Maybe It Was Collusion.
 

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They then employed a cover story — adoptions — to make it believable to the outside world that there was nothing amiss with the proposed meetings. They bolstered this idea by using cutouts, nonofficial Russians, for the actual meeting, enabling the Trump team to claim — truthfully — that there were no Russian government employees at the meeting and that it was just former business contacts of the Trump empire who were present.

When the Trump associates failed to do the right thing by informing the F.B.I., the Russians probably understood that they could take the next step toward a more conspiratorial relationship. They knew what bait to use and had a plan to reel in the fish once it bit.

While we don’t know for sure whether the email solicitation was part of an intelligence ploy, there are some clues. A month after the June meeting at Trump Tower, WikiLeaks, a veritable Russian front, released a dump of stolen D.N.C. emails. The candidate and campaign surrogates increasingly mouthed talking points that seemed taken directly from Russian propaganda outlets, such as that there had been a terrorist attack on a Turkish military base, when no such attack had occurred. Also, at this time United States intelligence reportedly received indications from European intelligence counterparts about odd meetings between Russians and Trump campaign representatives overseas.

Of course, to determine whether collusion occurred, we would have to know whether the Trump campaign continued to meet with Russian representatives subsequent to the June meeting. The early “courting” stage is almost always somewhat open and discoverable. Only after the Russian intelligence officer develops a level of control can the relationship be moved out of the public eye. John Brennan, the former director of the C.I.A., recently testified, “Frequently, people who go along a treasonous path do not know they are on a treasonous path until it is too late.”

Even intelligence professionals who respect one another and who understand the Russians can and often do disagree. On the Trump collusion question, the difference of opinion comes down to this: Would the Russians use someone like Mr. Goldstone to approach the Trump campaign? Our friend and former colleague Daniel Hoffman argued in this paper that this is unlikely — that the Russians would have relied on trained agents. We respectfully disagree. We believe that the Russians might well have used Mr. Goldstone. We also believe the Russians would have seen very little downside to trying to recruit someone on the Trump team — a big fish. If the fish bit and they were able to reel it in, the email from Mr. Goldstone could remain hidden and, since it was from an acquaintance, would be deniable if found. (Exactly what the Trump team is doing now.)

If the fish didn’t take the bait, the Russians would always have had the option to weaponize the information later to embarrass the Trump team. In addition, if the Russians’ first objective was chaos and disruption, the best way to accomplish that would have been to have someone on the inside helping. It is unlikely that the Russians would not use all the traditional espionage tools available to them.

However, perhaps the most telling piece of information may be the most obvious. Donald Trump himself made numerous statements in support of Russia, Russian intelligence and WikiLeaks during the campaign. At the same time, Mr. Trump and his team have gone out of their way to hide contacts with Russians and lied to the public about it. Likewise, Mr. Trump has attacked those people and institutions that could get to the bottom of the affair. He fired his F.B.I. director James Comey, criticized and bullied his attorney general and deputy attorney general, denigrated the F.B.I. and the C.I.A., and assails the news media, labeling anything he dislikes “fake news.” Innocent people don’t tend to behave this way.

The overall Russian intent is clear: disruption of the United States political system and society, a goal that in the Russian view was best served by a Trump presidency. What remains to be determined is whether the Russians also attempted to suborn members of the Trump team in an effort to gain their cooperation. This is why the investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, is so important. It is why the F.B.I. counterintelligence investigation, also quietly progressing in the background, is critical. Because while a Russian disruption operation is certainly plausible, it is not inconsistent with a much darker Russian goal: gaining an insider ally at the highest levels of the United States government.

In short, and regrettably, collusion is not off the table.

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Trump Signs Russian Sanctions Into Law, With Caveats
 

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In the statement to Congress, Mr. Trump said the bill “included a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions.” Although he added that “I nevertheless expect to honor” the waiting periods, he did not commit to it. Moreover, he took issue with other provisions, saying only that he “will give careful and respectful consideration to the preferences expressed by the Congress.”

“This bill remains seriously flawed — particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate,” Mr. Trump said in the separate statement to reporters. “Congress could not even negotiate a health care bill after seven years of talking. By limiting the executive’s flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people and will drive China, Russia and North Korea much closer together.”

“Yet despite its problems,” he added, “I am signing this bill for the sake of national unity. It represents the will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States. We hope there will be cooperation between our two countries on major global issues so that these sanctions will no longer be necessary.”

Like Mr. Trump, who has offered no public comment or even a Twitter message about the Russian order to slash the number of United States Embassy workers, it appears that Mr. Putin has not completely given up on the idea of establishing closer relations. The Russian government took its retaliatory action before the president signed the bill so that it would be a response to Congress, not to Mr. Trump.

After Mr. Trump signed the measure on Wednesday, the Russian government reaction was mild. “De facto, this changes nothing,” said Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin press secretary, who was traveling with Mr. Putin in the Russian Far East, according to the Interfax news agency. “There is nothing new.”

He added that no new retaliation should be expected. “Countermeasures have already been taken,” he said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry attributed the sanctions to “Russophobic hysteria” and reserved the right to take action if it decided to. Vasily A. Nebenzya, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, said the law would do nothing to change Moscow’s policies. “Those who invented this bill, if they were thinking that they might change our policy, they were wrong,” he told reporters. “As history many times proved, they should have known better that we do not bend, we do not break.”

Dmitri A. Medvedev, the Russian prime minister, declared the “end to hope for the improvement of our relations” and mocked Mr. Trump for being forced to sign. “The Trump administration has demonstrated total impotence, handing over executive functions to Congress in the most humiliating way possible,” he wrote on Facebook. He added that “the American establishment has totally outplayed Trump” with the goal “to remove him from power.”

American lawmakers said the new law sent an important signal that Russia would be held to account for its election interference and aggression toward its neighbors. But the lawmakers expressed concern about whether Mr. Trump would try to sidestep the measure.

The president’s signing statement “demonstrates that Congress is going to need to keep a sharp eye on this administration’s implementation of this critical law and any actions it takes with respect to Ukraine,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic minority leader.

Senator Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, the senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee and a prime driver behind the legislation, said, “I remain very concerned that this administration will seek to strike a deal with Moscow that is not in the national security interests of the United States.”

The Trump administration continues to send mixed messages about Russia.

Vice President Mike Pence, who has been visiting Eastern Europe in recent days to shore up allies nervous about an assertive Kremlin, told a group of Balkan prime ministers on Wednesday that Russia sought “to redraw international borders by force” and “undermine your democracies.”

“The United States will continue to hold Russia accountable for its actions, and we call on our European allies and friends to do the same,” he said in Montenegro, the latest Eastern European nation to join NATO. He noted that the president would sign the sanctions legislation.

“Let me be clear: The United States prefers a constructive relationship with Russia based on mutual cooperation and common interests,” Mr. Pence said. “But the president and our Congress are unified in our message to Russia: A better relationship and the lifting of sanctions will require Russia to reverse the actions and conduct that caused sanctions to be imposed in the first place.”

But just a day earlier, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson offered a somewhat different take, focusing on the potential for cooperation with Russia in fighting the Islamic State and finding a resolution to the civil war in Syria. Rather than sounding unified with Congress, Mr. Tillerson complained that lawmakers should not have passed the sanctions legislation.

“The action by the Congress to put these sanctions in place and the way they did, neither the president nor I are very happy about that,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “We were clear that we didn’t think it was going to be helpful to our efforts, but that’s the decision they made. They made it in a very overwhelming way. I think the president accepts that.”

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After Trump, “big data” firm Cambridge Analytica is now working in Kenya – BBC News
 

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After Trump, “big data” firm Cambridge Analytica is now working in Kenya
BBC News
On its website, the firm says it “uses data to change audience behaviour.” Most notably, the company was hired by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and has been given some credit for Trump’s electoral success. The company purchases and compiles … 

After Trump, “big data” firm Cambridge Analytica is now working in Kenya
 

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A social media data firm that worked for Donald Trump and which once claimed ties to a pro-Brexit campaign group is now reportedly working for Kenya’s incumbent president.

Cambridge Analytica’s mission statement is simple. On its website, the firm says it “uses data to change audience behaviour.” Most notably, the company was hired by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and has been given some credit for Trump’s electoral success.

The company purchases and compiles data on voters – including their browsing history, location data and Facebook likes. On its website, Cambridge Analytica claims to possess up to 5,000 data points on more than 230 million American voters. When combined with on-the-ground surveys, Cambridge Analytica can use this vast information bank to target key messages at relevant voters.

Now, Cambridge Analytica is working in Kenya, helping in the effort to re-elect President Uhuru Kenyatta.

On 10 May, The Star newspaper in Kenya reported that Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party had hired the firm, and a month later, the same newspaper reported that Cambridge Analytica was working from the seventh floor of the party’s headquarters in Nairobi.

Cambridge Analytica refused to comment on those reports to BBC Trending, but the global privacy-protection charity Privacy International confirmed that they had seen similar information to The Star, citing local sources, and said that Cambridge Analytica was being paid $6 million for its work in the country.

Cambridge Analytica’s involvement in Kenyan politics began in 2013, when the company worked for Kenyatta and The National Alliance – the forerunner of the Jubilee Party. During that year’s campaign, the company correlated online data with 47,000 on-the-ground surveys. According to the Cambridge Analytica website, this allowed the company to create a profile of the Kenyan electorate and come up with a campaign strategy “based on the electorate’s needs (jobs) and fears (tribal violence).” Kenyatta won the 2013 election.

Kenyans are among the most active social media users in Africa. The number of mobile phone users in the country shot up from 8 million in 2007 to 30 million in 2013, and 88% of the population can now access the internet through their phones.

Having served as Minister of Information and Communication from 2005 to 2013, Bitange Ndemo was one of the driving forces behind Kenya’s technological expansion. He told BBC Trending that social media plays a “key role” in the country’s political campaigns.

“It provides a fast way of responding to your opponent’s propaganda,” he said. “Plus, it is perhaps the only medium that can reach most young people.”

Tribal turmoil

At the same time, Kenya’s recent political history has been marred by violence. This reached a peak after the 2007 general election, when a contested result caused tribal divisions to erupt – 1,100 people were killed in the ensuing conflict, while 650,000 were displaced.

“Kenya is very tricky political terrain,” says Paul Goldsmith, an American researcher and writer who’s lived in Kenya for 40 years. “Cambridge Analytica might have access to surveys and other data, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into useful insights. There’s always something unpredictable during elections here. There’s always a curveball.”

“Western companies, charities and development experts tend to run into obstacles when they come to Africa,” Goldsmith says. “I would be surprised if Cambridge Analytica was any different.”

Tribal divisions continue to frame Kenyan politics. Each political party remains closely affiliated with a particular ethnic group. Though Kenyatta did not stand for president in 2007, he was accused of encouraging members of his native Kikuyu tribe to attack Luo tribesmen, who were represented in the election by Raila Odinga. The charge was taken to the International Criminal Court, but ultimately dismissed in December 2014 due to a lack of evidence. Odinga, who maintains that he was cheated out of victory in 2007, is standing against Kenyatta this time around.

During primary elections earlier this year, held to decide the candidates for each party, seven people were killed as rival groups accused each other of vote rigging. Earlier this week, a senior election official was reported dead, and a close colleague told the press that he had been tortured and murdered.

A spokesperson for Cambridge Analytica told Trending that the company is not involved in any negative advertising in Kenya, and that the company “has never advocated the exploitation of ethnic divisions in any country.”

Data harvesting

Cambridge Analytica’s presence in Kenya has prompted concerns about data protection. “Kenya does not currently have specific data protection legislation,” says Claire Lauterbach, a researcher at Privacy International. “This basically means that it’s unclear which agencies or companies can have access to individuals’ data, including sensitive information.”

Cambridge Analytica’s strategy involves the mass harvesting and analysis of voter data. Data protection campaigners are therefore concerned about what might happen to this data after the election.

The issue even worries former government ministers, including Bitange Ndemo, who says the government has failed to pass the data protection laws that he drafted when in office. “Somehow Parliament did not quite understand its importance,” he told Trending. “We need to protect personal data. The fears that data may be abused should be a concern to all.”

In response, Cambridge Analytica said that the company is not compiling individualised data profiles on Kenyan voters, and a spokesperson also stated that a data harvesting programme on the same scale as recent American campaigns is not possible in Kenya.

Cambridge Analytica is heavily funded by Robert Mercer, a US businessman who helped to fund Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and was a member of Trump’s transition team. Mercer is also a major donor to Breitbart News, the website that current White House chief strategist Steve Bannon ran before joining the Trump campaign, and Bannon was once on Cambridge Analytica’s board of directors.

Cambridge Analytica is currently being investigated by the UK’s privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), regarding its alleged use of analytics in the recent EU referendum campaign.

Following the Brexit vote, it was widely reported that Cambridge Analytica had assisted the unofficial Leave.EU campaign – affiliated with former UKIP leader Nigel Farage and insurance tycoon Aaron Banks. Leave.EU’s former communications director, Andy Wigmore, told the Observer in February that Cambridge Analytica was “more than happy to help… we shared a lot of information.”

Banks, one of the founders of Leave.EU, has made contradictory statements about Cambridge Analytica’s role in the campaign on Twitter. At one point, in response to a story about the firm, Banks seemed to credit the company’s technology with advancing the Brexit cause:

However, he later said that Leave.EU did not enlist the company, because the Electoral Commission (EC) designated a different group as the official Leave campaign:

Cambridge Analytica now denies that it was ever involved in the EU referendum campaign, and has lodged a legal complaint against the Observer.

Kenya is not the only developing country election where Cambridge Analytica is now getting involved. Bloomberg News reported that the company is also conducting initial research in Mexico, in advance of that country’s presidential election in 2018.

Blog by Sam Bright

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending, and find us on Facebook.

William Evanina – Google Search
 

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No let-up in spying amid tit-for-tat Russian sanctions: US official

ReutersJul 31, 2017
William Evanina, the National Counterintelligence Executive, described a wide array of challenges his agency faces: hacking of government …

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Top Senate Democrat urges Trump to block China deals over North …

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… on a health care bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 25, 2017. … both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue,” said William Evanina, National …

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Top US Senate Democrat urges Trump to block China deals over …

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Russia Still Spying On US Despite Sanctions, Warns Top US …

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William Evanina, the National Counterintelligence Executive, told Reuters that his US intelligence agencies “have not seen a deterrence, or a …
No let-up in spying amid tit-for-tat Russian sanctions: U.S official
 

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July 31, 2017 / 5:44 PM / 2 days ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Russia still runs a versatile spying campaign against the United States despite sanctions and daily publicity about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the top U.S. counter-intelligence official said in an interview.

William Evanina, the National Counterintelligence Executive, described a wide array of challenges his agency faces: hacking of government and industry secrets; industrial espionage; government employees and contractors who share secrets with the news media and groups such as WikiLeaks and foreign acquisition of strategic U.S. industries.

Evanina spoke to Reuters on Friday, the same day that Russia retaliated in Cold War-era style to a new round of U.S. sanctions by ordering Washington to cut diplomatic staff and said it was seizing two U.S. diplomatic properties. Russian President Vladimir Putin said 755 people would have to leave their jobs, although many will be Russian nationals.

Congress voted overwhelmingly last week to further punish Russia over U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusions that Moscow had used cyber warfare and other methods to meddle in the election, something Putin has repeatedly denied. Last December, then-President Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats, sanctioned Russian intelligence agencies and personnel, and evicted Russian officials from two diplomatic compounds in the United States.

Evanina said that losing the compounds was a “significant blow to the Russians. Significant. And I’m not even sure we … can measure it.”

He said, however, that U.S. agencies “have not seen a deterrence, or a drop – or an increase,” in Russian spying activity in the last year. “I can tell you, the FBI does not have less work.”

Still, Evanina acknowledged that in the tit-for-tat expulsions, the United States has more to lose than Moscow.

“We have a significantly … smaller footprint over there than they do here. It’s always going to be disproportionate.”

The United States has long pursued its own aggressive espionage and electronic surveillance operations against Russia and, before that, the Soviet Union. Russia’s cuts to U.S. personnel and property will shrink the diplomatic infrastructure that countries typically rely on to both conduct foreign affairs – and spy.

Evanina said Russian espionage strategy has shifted over the last five to seven years, no longer relying solely on intelligence officers formally employed by its spy agencies. Now, he said, it also involves dispatching businessmen, engineers and other travelers to the United States working as contractors for intelligence services.

Evanina declined to comment on U.S. investigations into Moscow’s election year activities and whether President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian officials. Trump denies any collusion.

He said that in the past year, he has worked intensively with the U.S. private sector to protect critical infrastructure and supply chains from foreign threats. Evanina suggested that the United States could soon adopt more stringent reviews of foreign acquisitions that have national security implications.

Reuters reported on July 20 that the secretive Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has objected to at least nine acquisitions of U.S. companies by foreign buyers so far this year, a historically high number that bodes poorly for China’s overseas buying spree.

Reporting by Warren Strobel and John Walcott; editing by Grant McCool

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The Gluten in Wheat’s Rise
 

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russian wheat quality problems – Google Search
 

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Russia wheat suffers quality problems

Western ProducerJul 24, 2017
MOSCOW, July 24 (Reuters) – Russian wheat export prices were mixed last week after rallying for nine straight weeks due to concerns over a …

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Russian wheat prices stable after 10-week rise

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The Gluten in Wheat’s Rise

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Hard red spring wheat, a variety grown in the northern plains of the U.S. … causes all manner of digestive problems among people with dietary … higher- and lower-protein crops at Russian Black Sea ports close to a … Just as unusual conditions in the coffee market have led lower-quality robusta beans to …
Russia wheat suffers quality problems
 

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MOSCOW, July 24 (Reuters) – Russian wheat export prices were mixed last week after rallying for nine straight weeks due to concerns over a lack of high quality wheat and strengthening competition with France for wheat supplies to Egypt.

Black Sea prices for Russian wheat with 12.5 percent protein content and for August delivery were at US$196 a tonne on a free-on-board (FOB) basis at the end of last week, up $1 a tonne from a week earlier, IKAR agriculture consultancy said in a note.

“The quality of the crop is not better than a year ago, according to the preliminary data. It was not too good last year,” Dmitry Rylko, the head of IKAR, said.

Prices for wheat with 11.5 percent protein content were at $185 per tonne, down $3, due to rising supply, it added.

According to SovEcon, another Moscow-based consultancy, Russian wheat prices were also under pressure last week due to rising competition in the Egyptian wheat market.

Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer and the largest buyer of Russian wheat. At the latest state tender, Egypt’s GASC bought 300,000 tonnes of wheat, including 120,000 tonnes of Russian wheat and 120,000 tonnes of Romanian wheat. It also purchased 60,000 tonnes of French wheat.

Russia has agreed to supply a large amount of wheat to the GASC in recent months, and once these contracts are fulfilled, Russian wheat prices may go down as the wheat crop in its southern regions – the main producing area for Russia’s Black Sea exports – is so far as high as a year ago, a trader said.

According to SovEcon, barley prices rose $3.5 to $167 per tonne. IKAR pegged them at $164 per tonne, up $2.

As of July 19, Russia had exported 1.1 million tonnes of grains since the start of the 2017-18 marketing season on July 1, 6.2 percent less than a year ago. That included 520,000 tonnes of wheat, down 37.8 percent from the same period a year ago.

Domestic prices for third-class wheat rose 150 roubles to 9,425 roubles ($158) a tonne in the European part of Russia on an ex-works basis, according to SovEcon. Ex-works supply does not include delivery costs.

Russia’s grain harvesting has been delayed by rainy weather in several regions this year.

Russian sunflower seed prices were stable at 19,525 roubles per tonne, SovEcon said, while domestic sunflower oil prices increased by 500 roubles to 44,000 roubles and export oil prices were up $10 to $735 per tonne.

Sunflower seeds have been sown on a record area of 7.9 million hectares, up 300,000 hectares from a year ago, SovEcon said.

IKAR’s white sugar price index for southern Russia rose to $702.4 a tonne last week from $697.9 a week earlier.

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Russia wheat suffers quality problems

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MOSCOW, July 24 (Reuters) – Russian wheat export prices were mixed last week after rallying for nine straight weeks due to concerns over a …
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Advocate.com: Trump Follows Russias Lead on LGBT Hostility
 

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Advocate.com: 14 Ways Donald Trump Is a ‘Burden’ to Us Advocate.com Advocate.com: Trump Follows Russia’s Lead on LGBT Hostility Our failing president admires Putin’s way of doing things, including targeting LGBT people for discrimination. Advocate.com

Putin is in a corner, trying not to look weak
 

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While hyped as a sign that the Kremlin had both lost patience with President Trump and was still willing to show its teeth, it probably better demonstrates

Moscow’s diminishing range of options

 than anything else.

The US sanctions

are directed toward hitting Russia’s energy infrastructure 

in response to its alleged interference in the 2016 US elections. By contrast, the Kremlin is demanding that the Americans cut their diplomatic missions staff in Russia by 755, bringing them down to the same numbers as Moscow’s people in Washington.

There is a strange asymmetry, given that in the past sanctions and responses have tended to mirror each other, not least for symbolic impact.

Back then, Moscow decided not to respond, making a grand public play of its forbearance. After all, Trump was heading for the White House, and there were still hopes in Putin’s team that his fulsome praise of Russia might be translated into some practical gains.

Since then, though, the Russians have learned the painful lesson that Trump promises more than he can deliver and have watched as a suspicious Congress, a hostile media and a rolling judicial investigation increasingly tie his hands when it comes to working with Moscow.

With this new round of sanctions, Putin clearly felt he could not afford not to respond. For a leader who has built so much of his personal legitimacy on his image as the defender of Russian interests, the risk was that he would look weak.

But the fact that the best they could do was, in effect, to pull some old counter-sanctions out of the deep freeze, underlines the sharp disparity between Moscow and Washington’s positions.

Putin retaliates over looming US sanctions
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This latest move will certainly inconvenience both the US State Department and also any Russian wanting a US visa or otherwise hoping to use the services of America’s embassy and consulates there. It will be especially problematic for all those Russians employed by the US government who will find themselves unemployed.

But while Putin called these “biting” measures, that is something of an exaggeration. In the grand scheme of things, they will be pretty limited in their impact. Diplomatic contacts will continue, visas will be processed — albeit more slowly. Exchanges will still take place.

The truth of the matter is that while Putin had rather more “biting” options at his disposal, they would hurt him more that they would hurt the Americans. NASA, for example, still depends on Russian rockets to loft its astronauts to the International Space Station, and Moscow could have refused to do this any more — but that would have cost Russia’s cash-strapped space program almost a billion dollars in 2017 and 2018 alone.

Likewise, Russia exports nothing essential to America, and with a GDP smaller than that of New York state’s, there is minimal scope for other economic moves.

So discount the instant “Putin gets tough” headlines.

Not only are the Russians still desperate not to burn their bridges with Trump — tellingly, the counter-sanctions were announced after the US measures were passed on the Hill, but before the presidential signature, so they can be sold as a response to “Congress’s sanctions” — these are eye-catching but essentially empty measures.

As ever, Putin is trying to look tough, while being in an extremely weak position.

google censorship – Google Search
 

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Silicon Valley Censorship

Gatestone InstituteJul 26, 2017
Google is not the only technology company enamored with censorship. In June, Facebook announced its own plans to use artificial intelligence …

Google’s chief search engineer legitimizes new censorship algorithm

World Socialist Web SiteJul 30, 2017
The focus of Google’s new censorship algorithm is political news and opinion sites that challenge official government and corporate narratives.

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RT interviews Andre Damon: Google becoming “censorship engine”

World Socialist Web SiteJul 31, 2017
Over the past week, the World Socialist Web Site has revealed that changes to Google’s search algorithm aimed at censoring “fake news” have …

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Google And YouTube Ban Prof Who Refused To Use Gender …

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Google And YouTube Ban Prof Who Refused To Use … or that there’s something that’s political going on that is associated with censorship.”.

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