Thursday, April 6, 2017

Russian envoy says no progress in relations between Russia, NATO - TASS Thursday April 6th, 2017 at 9:01 PM

TASS: Russian Politics & Diplomacy

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MOSCOW, April 6. /TASS/. There has been no progress in Russia-NATO relations, Russia’s Permanent Representative to NATO Alexander Grushko said in an interview with the Rossiya 24 TV channel on Thursday.
"If we speak seriously and look at the facts, then we will see that there has been no progress," he said. "In particular, there has been no progress in restoring cooperation in solving common security issues."
The Russian diplomat pointed out that despite the ongoing political dialogue on regional matters and issues related to military activities, some decisions made at NATO’s Warsaw summit had been implemented in 2017.
"NATO is deploying additional forces to its eastern flank. There will be another four battalion groups and two US brigades, besides, depots are being set up to store military equipment enough to deploy one more brigade. They have also been stepping up their activities in the Black Sea area and in the Baltic Sea area. We have been witnessing new kinds of military activities," Grushko elaborated.
The Russian permanent representative also said that further steps aimed at preventing dangerous military incidents would only be possible if experts joined in the work. According to Grushko, "without involving the military, it’s not going to work", there is the need to set up communications channels between the militaries.

Russia, NATO need to resume military dialogue

Russia and NATO should find an opportunity to resume dialogue between military experts, Grushko said.
"There is an increasing awareness that if we tackle specific issues to prevent dangerous military incidents, it means that we have reached the level when we can only move forward if experts join in the work," the Russian diplomat said. "These issues are exceptionally difficult, there are many technical details so it is not going to work without military experts."
"This is what we have been trying to explain to NATO," Grushko added. "We will see how they respond but I think that most of them are inclined to agree that Russia and NATO should find an opportunity to resume military dialogue."

Moscow Security Conference

Grushko is sure NATO representatives will participate in the Moscow Security Conference scheduled to be held on April 26-27.
"Of course, they will come, I have no doubt about that," the Russian diplomat said when asked about NATO’s possible participation. "Hundreds of those invited, including representatives of NATO countries, have already confirmed their participation."
"I have read reports saying that the head of the NATO Military Liaison Mission Moscow will represent the Alliance," Grushko added.
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Lieutenant General Alexander Fomin said earlier that defense ministers from over 20 countries had confirmed their participation in the Sixth Moscow Conference on Global Security scheduled to be held on April 26-27.
High-ranking members of some international organizations plan to address the conference. Secretary Generals of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Deputy Secretary Generals of the United Nations and the Arab League, as well as the Vice President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), have also confirmed their participation.
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Russian envoy says no progress in relations between Russia, NATO - TASS

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Russian envoy says no progress in relations between RussiaNATO
MOSCOW, April 6. /TASS/. There has been no progress in Russia-NATO relations, Russia'sPermanent Representative to NATO Alexander Grushko said in an interview with the Rossiya 24 TV channel on Thursday. "If we speak seriously and look at the facts, ...

'A grotesquely cynical charade': It looks like Russia is 'dangling' a new offer to entice Trump against attacking Assad - Business Insider

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Business Insider

'A grotesquely cynical charade': It looks like Russia is 'dangling' a new offer to entice Trump against attacking Assad
Business Insider
"The whole thing is a grotesquely cynical charade, and no one in the West should construe any sign of flexibility in this," Kramer added. putin assad In this photo taken on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Syria ...
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Woman falls off bridge taking a selfie - KTRK-TV

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Woman falls off bridge taking a selfie
The woman lost her footing while she was taking a selfie on the Forest Hill Bridge. KTRK. Thursday, April 06, 2017 10:41AM. SACRAMENTO, California (KTRK) --. A woman in California almost fell to her death while she was taking a selfie. The woman fell ...

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Trump considering options for Syria retaliation, source says - CNN

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Trump considering options for Syria retaliation, source says
(CNN) President Donald Trump has told some members of Congress that he is considering military action in Syria in retaliation for this week's chemical attack, and recognizes the seriousness of the situation, a source familiar with the calls tells CNN.
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Mike Conaway questions James Comey - Los Angeles Times

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Los Angeles Times

Mike Conaway questions James Comey
Los Angeles Times
At the recent House Intelligence hearing on Russia meddling in the 2016 election,Mike Conaway had one of the more memorable exchanges with FBI Director James Comey. Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times ...

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Pam Anderson and Julian Assange Rumored Romance: What We Know -

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Pam Anderson and Julian Assange Rumored Romance: What We Know
This week, actress Pamela Anderson fed rumors of a blossoming relationship with JulianAssange, saying the Wikileaks founder is "a gentleman, he is extremely smart, resilient." The Canadian-born Baywatch-star-turned-animal rights-activist appears to ...
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Does Despair Hike White Working-class Death Rates? Ask Angus Deaton - Knowledge@Wharton

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Does Despair Hike White Working-class Death Rates? Ask Angus Deaton
This pile up in disadvantages means increased mortality from drug overdoses, alcohol-related liver problems, suicides and other health-related issues. ... Knowledge@Wharton: Income inequality has been in the spotlight as a key force behind Brexit and ...

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Donald Trump Approval Rating Declines Among White Men: Polls ... - TIME

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Donald Trump Approval Rating Declines Among White Men: Polls ...
The challenging start to President Trump's term in office appears to be taking a toll on the very voters who helped elect him: white men. According to polls taken ...

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Less Than Half of White Men Now Support President Trump, Polls Find - TIME

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Less Than Half of White Men Now Support President Trump, Polls Find
The challenging start to President Trump's term in office appears to be taking a toll on the very voters who helped elect him: white men. According to polls taken over the last few weeks, support for the President among white men is eroding. Since ...
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No one is safe from backstabbing in the Trump White House - Washington Post

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Washington Post

No one is safe from backstabbing in the Trump White House
Washington Post
President Trump's chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, is no longer part of the National Security Council. Instead, he now belongs to a different club — one composed of White House aides who have been the subjects of anonymously sourced media reports ...
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No one should be surprised at the major tensions in Donald Trump's inner circle - CNN

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No one should be surprised at the major tensions in Donald Trump's inner circle
Not only that: Bannon, who ran the conservative Breitbart News website before signing on withTrump's campaign, is as anti-establishment as they come. Priebus is the face of the establishment, having served several terms as the chairman of the ...
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US, Russia 'compete for PYD/YPG control' in Syria - Anadolu Agency

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Anadolu Agency

USRussia 'compete for PYD/YPG control' in Syria
Anadolu Agency
Although the PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by both Turkey and the U.S., the previous American President Barack Obama-led administration considered its Syrian offshoot the PYD -- and its armed wing the YPG – as "reliable partners" in the ...

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Studies confirm: Trump voters were motivated by racial prejudice — not 'economic anxiety' - Raw Story

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Raw Story

Studies confirm: Trump voters were motivated by racial prejudice — not 'economic anxiety'
Raw Story
“Whether it's good politics to say so or not, the evidence from the 2016 election is very clear that attitudes about blacks, immigrants, and Muslims were a key component of Trump's appeal,” Philip Klinkner, a political scientist at Hamilton College ...

Hillary Clinton says potential collusion between Trump camp and Russia should be probed - CNBC

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Hillary Clinton says potential collusion between Trump camp and Russia should be probed
Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton slammed Russia's meddling in the U.S. presidential election, describing it as an "act of aggression" meant to influence the election, and said potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the ...
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Russia and US Presidential Elections of 2016 - Google News: The Russians Are Coming. Again. - POLITICO Magazine

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The Russians Are Coming. Again.
Every day now seems to bring more startling news about Russia's efforts to influence the 2016election. .... Former Vice President Dick Cheney said last week that Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election could be “considered an act of war.

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BBC News - World: Syria war: US says no role for Assad following gas 'attack'

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The US is considering possible military action following a suspected chemical attack, reports say.

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World Press: How some Israelis plan to cash in with cannabis

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As the Knesset considers a bill to legalize exporting medical cannabis, dozens of Israeli kibbutzim are getting in on the lucrative industry.

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Putin Trump: Putin loyalists are invading Washington 

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 Putin Trump

Russia and US Presidential Elections of 2016 - Google News: Clinton on Russian election meddling: 'More effective theft even than Watergate' - CNN

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Clinton on Russian election meddling: 'More effective theft even than Watergate'
New York (CNN) Hillary Clinton referred to Russia's meddling in the 2016 US presidential electionas an "act of aggression" on Thursday, in her most extended comments yet about a controversy that has consumed the earliest days of Donald Trump's ...
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News: Police hunt 'cruel' burglar who drowned puppy in a bath during break-in and left it for owners to find

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Voice of America: Utter Disregard for Rights Seen in Cruelty of Syrian War 

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Tuesday's alleged chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria, which has left dozens dead, was the latest outrage in a conflict marked by human rights violations carried out on an industrial scale, rights activists say. From the start, the conflict saw a disregard of the rules of war the world has tried to establish since World War II. The warning signs came quickly. A series of massacres occurred in spring 2012 in three districts of Homs involving government soldiers and members of the notorious Shabiha militia, ultra-loyal enforcers of the regime drawn from President Bashar al-Assad's minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam. First came a siege, then homes were raided by assailants who raped and killed, according to locals interviewed by VOA shortly afterward and rights organizations. Dead bodies were burned, corpses were mutilated and rights activists documented the killing of at least 224 civilians, including 44 children and 48 women. Months later, this correspondent interviewed Saima, a 38-year-old woman who had survived the massacre. Brandishing her scarred hand, she said she'd been shot in it, seen her husband's first wife slain by Shabiha and a neighbor raped. She and her three daughters escaped only because an Alawite militiaman took pity on them. Other girls weren't so lucky.   A mound of death "They raped teenagers," Saima told me almost in a whisper, claiming that the day after the massacre she saw naked girls in a hospital piled up dead. A 2015 report by the the U.N.'s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic concluded the war had been "characterized by a complete lack of adherence to the norms of international law." From medieval-style torture in jails and detention centers, to the imposition of "surrender or starve" sieges aimed at denying whole communities food and medical supplies, to indiscriminate artillery bombardments and airstrikes on towns and villages, including the dropping of earth-shaking barrel bombs on residential areas, to the release of sarin and chlorine gases, the war has plumbed the depths of depravity. Since World War II, few conflicts have come close to matching what's been happening in Syria. Rights experts and historians mention the conflicts in Biafra, the Congo, the Balkans and the 1994 Rwanda genocide as competitors in infamy.   The list of authoritative reports into rights abuses and war crimes in Syria is long. They include a 2014 U.N. report; a 2015 independent report on the credibility of allegations about torture and executions in Syrian jails; and a 2013 U.N. report on allegations of the use of chemical weapons. As early as 2013, then-U.N. human rights commissioner Navi Pillay warned that the scale of viciousness "almost defies belief."  She accused Assad of being implicated in war crimes. Assad and his top officials have denied responsibility for rights violations. In an interview with the BBC in 2015, Assad denied his forces dropped barrel bombs. "I know about the army. They use bullets, missiles and bombs. I haven't heard of the army using barrels, or maybe, cooking pots," he said.   Atrocities in plain sight What makes the Syria conflict different from Biafra, the Balkans or Rwanda is that war crimes have been happening in plain sight for the world to witness in real time, thanks to the internet, social media, cellphones, satellite imagery and digital cameras, say analysts. And some of the armed groups have been all too happy to brag about their barbarity — especially the Islamic State terror group, which has used videos of the beheadings of Western journalists and aid workers, the hurling of gay men off roofs, and the fatal burnings and stonings of foes to scare opponents and recruit foreign fighters. For those looking at Syria's six-year conflict from the outside, the slaughter appears to have had little or no pattern. U.N. investigators monitoring human rights abuses have accused rebel militias as well as jihadists of grave crimes, too. Rebel war crimes have included recruitment of child soldiers, shelling of civilian-populated areas and hostage-taking, as well as the slaughter of members of religious minorities. A May 2013 U.N. report confirmed that rebel groups had used sarin gas. But U.N. panels have been adamant that despite the killings by IS, the Syrian government has been responsible for many more deaths. In 2015, a survey by the Syrian Network for Human Rights, a nonprofit based in Britain whose reports are considered highly reliable, broke down the details of 56 major massacres displaying obvious sectarian or ethnic-cleansing traits since the start of the war. Of those, 49 were carried out by forces linked to the Syrian government, undermining the narrative crafted by the regime, which has depicted itself as a bulwark against extremism. U.N. investigators have compiled a list of government officials they say have been implicated in war crimes, and they have called on the Security Council to refer human rights violations to the International Criminal Court at The Hague. A growing number of Western politicians have called also for an ICC referral, peaking in 2014 when 55,000 photos of detainees' bodies taken by a forensic photographer, code-named Caesar, who worked in Assad jails  were published. Veto from Russia, China Syria isn't a signatory to the treaty that set up the ICC. The court would have legal authority to investigate and prosecute war crimes in Syria only if directed to do so by the Security Council, but in 2014 Russia and China vetoed a proposal to involve the ICC. In December, the U.N. General Assembly voted to establish an independent panel to assist in the investigation of those responsible for war crimes in Syria.  The resolution was approved by 105 member countries; 15 voted against the resolution's adoption, and there were 52 abstentions. But a single prosecution mechanism still remains elusive for war crimes committed in Syria. An option Western diplomats have discussed is setting up a U.N. tribunal like those established for the Cambodia and Rwanda genocides, but few hold out hope that such a tribunal would escape a Russian veto. In the meantime, individual European states, including France, Germany and Spain, have been exploring ways to prosecute war criminals when they can, if only piecemeal, and are conducting investigations. All states have universal jurisdiction rights when it comes to war crimes. In 2015, two rebels who fled to Sweden were sentenced for crimes they committed in Syria. "Six harrowing years on, there's no excuse for allowing the horrific crimes under international law that are being committed in Syria to go unpunished," Amnesty International's Samah Hadid said last month. But it will likely be some time, if ever, before senior Syrian officials see the inside of a courtroom.

 Voice of America
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Russia, Putin and Putinism: C.I.A. Had Evidence of Russian Effort to Help Trump Earlier Than Believed

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Former government officials said the agency told senior lawmakers last summer that it had information indicating that Russia was working to help get President Trump elected.

 Russia, Putin and Putinism

Washington Free Beacon: Hillary Clinton: Putin Opposed Her Because He’s “Not Exactly Fond of Strong Women”

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Hillary Clinton said at the 8th annual Women in the World Summit on Thursday that she believed Russian President Vladimir Putin opposed her because he's "not exactly fond of strong women."
Clinton said people ask her why Putin allegedly worked against her 2016 presidential campaign.
"I don't think it's too complicated," Clinton said. "I think he had his desire to destabilize us and others, and you know, he's not exactly fond of strong women."
Clinton had previously said that destabilizing the United States and other nations was one of Putin's key geostrategic goals.
"So you add that together, and that's pretty much what it means," Clinton continued, receiving loud applause from the audience.
U.S. intelligence agencies have alleged that Putin interfered with the 2016 presidential election to undermine democracy and "denigrate" Clinton, while showing preference for her opponent President Donald Trump.

 Washington Free Beacon
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Page 5

Markets and Business News Review: Key Words: Hillary Clinton: ‘As a person, I’m OK. As an American, I’m pretty worried’

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Hillary Clinton said Thursday she was “deeply concerned” by Russian meddling in the U.S. election, and that potential Russian ties to the Trump campaign must be investigated.

 Markets and Business News Review

Russia, Putin and Putinism: Russia Bans a Not-So-Manly Image of Putin - New York Times

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New York Times

Russia Bans a Not-So-Manly Image of Putin
New York Times
So when a Russian named Alexander V. Tsvetkov posted photos and comments last year depicting Mr. Putin quite differently on VKontakte, the country's largest social network, the authorities took notice. The Central District Court of Tver ruled that a ...
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 Russia, Putin and Putinism

World Press: Turkish outrage mounts as doctors point to neurotoxin in Idlib attack

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In Turkish hospitals, medical staff including a team from Doctors Without Borders report mounting evidence that victims of yesterday's attack may have been exposed to sarin or a similar toxin.

 World Press

FoxNewsChannel's YouTube Videos: President Trump may be considering military action in Syria 

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From: FoxNewsChannel
Duration: 03:55

The president heard options for a possible military strike against the regime from the defense secretary and his national security adviser; John Roberts has the roundup for 'Special Report'

 FoxNewsChannel's YouTube Videos

FoxNewsChannel's YouTube Videos: Nunes steps aside from probe into Trump-Russia ties 

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From: FoxNewsChannel
Duration: 02:55

Texas congressman Mike Conaway will be the new Republican in charge of the investigation; Peter Doocy has the story for 'Special Report'

 FoxNewsChannel's YouTube Videos - RSS Channel - World: 8 people linked to St. Petersburg attack arrested

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Eight people have been arrested in connection with Monday's deadly bomb attack in St. Petersburg, the Russian Investigative Committee said in a statement.

 - RSS Channel - World
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Page 6

World News Review: What to know about sarin gas suspected in Syria attack

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The chemical agent is suspected in attack reported to have killed dozens.

 World News Review

World News Review: Trump says 'something should happen' with Assad, U.S. military studies options

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ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that "something should happen" with President Bashar al-Assad after a deadly poison gas attack in Syria, as the Pentagon and the White House studied military options.

 World News Review

National Security: The main question after any strikes on Syria: How does Russia respond? 

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The targeting of the Syrian military could produce Russian casualties.

 National Security
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House Russia investigators stumble into 'new phase' - CNN

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House Russia investigators stumble into 'new phase'
(CNN) "We're into a new phase of the investigation." That's House intelligence chairman Devin Nunes explaining earlier this week why he's not talking any more about the House's chaotic, dual-pronged investigation into Russia meddling into the US ...
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Civil Rights Act Protects Gay Workers, Court Rules - New York Times

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New York Times

Civil Rights Act Protects Gay Workers, Court Rules
New York Times
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A federal appeals court in Chicago ruled that the act protects gay employees from job discrimination. Credit Mannie Garcia/Reuters. In a significant victory for gay rights, a federal appeals court in Chicago ...

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What Melania's portrait reveals about her - NT News

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NT News

What Melania's portrait reveals about her
NT News
MELANIA Trump's White House portrait has made world headlines — and been the subject of internet memes. Now the making of the photograph has been revealed. The photo was a team effort between three Belgian photographers — Regine Mahaux, her ...

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Page 7

Trump is erasing the red line in Syria and drawing a hard line on North Korea - CNN

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Trump is erasing the red line in Syria and drawing a hard line on North Korea
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F-16 military jet crashes near Joint Base Andrews in Maryland; pilot parachutes out

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An F-16 fighter jet that was on a training mission crashed about six miles from Joint Base Andrews. The pilot ejected uninjured from the crash. An F-16 fighter jet that was on a training mission crashed about six miles from Joint Base Andrews. The pilot ejected uninjured from the crash. (WUSA)
Patrick Dodson had just stepped out to his front porch Wednesday morning in Clinton, Md., when a noise made him glance up. Planes were nothing new in his neighborhood, with a private airfield a mile away and Joint Base Andrews just north. He’d often wondered what he’d do if he saw one go down.
“I’d never in my life thought that I would run toward a falling jet,” said Dodson, 38. “That’s something that heroes do. That’s not me; I’m just a single father of two kids.”
An F-16 that had taken off from Andrews a few minutes earlier was headed with three other aircraft to Pennsylvania for a surface attack training mission. It had mechanical problems within minutes.
The pilot, whom military officials would not identify, had only seconds to find a safe place to drop tanks containing more than a ton of jet fuel, ideally in the glistening strip of the Potomac River a few miles to the south. He then had even fewer seconds to steer the crippled $20 million fighter past the houses below and, hopefully, bail out before it was too late.
The pilot safely ditched the tanks, which military patrols would later recover. The plane plunged into woods flanked by suburban cul-de-sacs. The crash was close enough to spray debris and set small brush fires in the surrounding neighborhood but, remarkably, caused no serious injuries or damage, local and military officials said.
Dodson’s house on Maui Street gave him a chilling view of the unfolding crisis. The electrician looked up to see a fighter jet struggling to stay aloft, plumes of black smoke pouring from it.
Suddenly, a human shape shot up and away, sprawling in the sky; then another blob flashed up and spread into a parachute, jerking the human figure upward.
He watched the pilot hang, drifting, as the plane nose-dived, streaking toward the house where he, his mother, sister and 4-year-old nephew were having a quiet morning.
“Get . . . out of the house,” he screamed to them as he began to run. He dialed 911 on the phone that he had just used to text a friend. “A plane is crashing,” he said. As he yelled the address, he realized he didn’t know if the plane was “one of ours or another 9/11 attack.” The jet was almost down, roaring in with a whoop, whoop, whoop. He threw his phone down as the plane streaked past the roofs on Wood Elves Way.
A fireball rose in the air. The blast knocked Dodson off his feet, he said. He jumped up and kept running, only to feel sharp stings in his arm and hand. He pulled a small piece of metal from his thumb, so hot he dropped it immediately.
He could hear the whizzing of what sounded like bullets all around him, and he ducked momentarily around the corner of a house, wondering if a jet-load of ammunition was about to explode. Later, homeowners would report hearing the “pop” of exploding rounds for at least 10 minutes after the crash.
“I just tried to keep my eye on the pilot,” Dodson said. “I was worried that he was heading into the woods.”
Dodson knew his family was safe, as the explosion was about 200 yards from his house. His two kids were in school. He’s a single dad of a 7- and a 9-year-old, and he had been heading to a parent-teacher conference when he had walked out of the house two minutes — and what seemed like a lifetime — ago.
So he started running again. Whoever that pilot was, he wanted to help him.
“I could hear [the shrapnel] hitting the trees all around me,” he said.
It had been years since he ran full out, and it was hard to find the breath every few minutes to shout: “Pilot! Pilot! Can you hear me?” He tried to look up when he could, dodging low branches and forest debris, hoping not to see the flier dangling injured from a treetop. “Pilot! Pilot!”
He reckons it was about 12 minutes after he left his porch that he heard a police helicopter setting down in a field. He ran out from the trees, skirting the spinning rotor, and saw a figure about 30 yards ahead trying to untangle himself from parachute cords.
“Honestly, I was about to collapse,” Dodson said a couple of hours later, his voice still full of edge, the blood from his minor wounds still dry on his arm. “I’ve never run that hard in my life.”
He gave the pilot a tentative little salute as he approached, still unsure if he was friend or foe.
“Are you okay?” Dodson said.
“Yes,” the pilot answered. “Is everyone okay? I tried to stay away from the neighborhood.”
“I think you did. I think it hit the woods,” Dodson said. “Were you carrying live ammo?”
Dodson said the pilot hesitated, then nodded. “Yes,” he said.
A second helicopter landed, this one from the military.
The fighter pilot shook Dodson’s hand and said, “Thank you,” and began talking on a handheld radio.
“It was all in code; I don’t know what they were saying,” Dodson said. “I just turned around and ran back out of there.”
When he emerged from the woods, he found a neighborhood in relieved chaos. The plane had hit in the 2700 block of Wood Elves Way. Prince George’s County Fire Department officials were evacuating residents of about 20 nearby homes to an elementary school, where families stayed until the all-clear was blown about two hours later. Firefighters put out the small brush fires that burning debris had started.
“They did find parts of the plane that were burning in the wooded areas behind the home that were on fire,” said Ben Barksdale, Prince George’s interim fire chief.
Residents and officials alike marveled at the close call.
“Word is he’s in good spirits,” D.C. Air National Guard Gen. George Degnon said of the jet pilot.
Degnon said the aircraft was armed only with training rounds packed with small amounts of gunpowder, which possibly accounted for the metal that hit Dodson and the pops heard by neighbors.
“They’re not high-explosive rounds,” he said. “They’re basically a piece of metal that flies through the air that aids in target practice.”
Dodson spent the day pondering events that he said were far more dramatic than any action movie. He grew emotional recalling the determination he’d felt, his surprise at running toward the danger, not away. For a tradesman who recently had to move back in with his mother because of hard times, it felt good to feel strong.
He only had one request after his brush with disaster.
“I’d like to meet that pilot,” he said.

Law enforcement officers secure the area near the location where a military aircraft crashed in Maryland. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)
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A U.S. Air Force F16 Fighting Falcon aircraft assigned to the 113th Wing of the D.C. Air National Guard, takes off in this 2015 file photo. (Tech. Sgt. Miguel Lara III/U.S. Air Force)
(Twitter/ Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department)
An F-16 military plane went down a few miles from Joint Base Andrews in Clinton, Md. Officials say the pilot ejected and is safe. An F-16 military plane went down a few miles from Joint Base Andrews in Clinton, Md. Officials say the pilot ejected and is safe. (Twitter/ Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department)
Jennifer Jenkins, Lori Aratani, Dana Hedgpeth and Mandy McLaren contributed to this report.
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F-16 fighter jet crashes, pilot parachutes out in Maryland - Washington Post

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F-16 fighter jet crashes, pilot parachutes out in Maryland
Washington Post
An F-16 fighter jet that was on a training mission crashed Wednesday morning in Maryland. The pilot parachuted to safety, authorities said. Officials for Joint Base Andrews said in a statement that the plane was an F-16C fighter jet from the Air ...
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High school journalists reveal their principal is a fraud

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Kid reporters learn the darnedest things.
That’s a lesson one former principal in Kansas has learned after student reporters dug into her past, ultimately raising questions about her credentials to serve as Pittsburg High School’s top administrator and her $93,000 salary.
“She was going to be the head of our school, and we wanted to be assured that she was qualified and had the proper credentials,” Trina Paul, an editor of the Booster Redux, the school’s newspaper, told the Kansas City Star. “We stumbled on some things that most might not consider legitimate credentials.”
The students began delving into Amy Robertson’s background after an online search of her name produced several stories published by Gulf News about an English-language school connected to Robertson in Dubai, where she has lived on and off for the past two decades, according to Maddie Baden, a 17-year-old junior at the school.
The articles from 2012 said Dubai officials had suspended the license of the school where Robertson worked and accused her of not being authorized to work there as principal. The private, for-profit school got an “unsatisfactory” rating before being shut down in 2013.
“That raised a red flag,” Baden told the newspaper. “If students could uncover this, I want to know why the adults couldn’t find this.”
Baden had initially interviewed Robertson to “introduce the new principal to the community” before learning about her background. On Friday, the students questioned the legitimacy of Corllins University, an unaccredited, online school where Robertson said she received her master’s degree and doctorate after earning her bachelor’s degree at the University of Tulsa.
Officials from the US Department of Education later confirmed the students’ report that Corllins University is not accredited by the agency and the school wasn’t included among its list of institutions closed since 1986, the Star reports.
Faced with the mounting controversy, Robertson resigned Tuesday following a closed meeting that day at the Pittsburg Community Schools Board of Education.
“In light of the issues that arose, Dr. Robertson felt it was in the best interest of the district to resign her position,” Superintendent Destry Brown said in a statement. “The Board has agreed to accept her resignation.”
For her part, Robertson told the Kansas City Star in an email that the current status of Corllins University is “not relevant” because there was no issue at the time she earned her degrees. Officials from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation told the Star that the school could have been accredited in the past.
“All three of my degrees have been authenticated by the US government,” wrote Robertson, who declined to address the credential allegations directly.
“I have no comment in response to the questions posed by PHS students regarding my credentials because their concerns are not based on facts,” she wrote the newspaper.
The school’s journalism adviser, meanwhile, said she was proud of her budding scribes.
“They were not out to get anyone to resign or to get anyone fired,” Emily Smith said. “They worked very hard to uncover the truth.”
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High school journalists reveal their principal is a fraud - New York Post

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High school journalists reveal their principal is a fraud
New York Post
That's a lesson one former principal in Kansas has learned after student reporters dug into her past, ultimately raising questions about her credentials to serve as Pittsburg High School's top administrator and her $93,000 salary. “She was going to be ...
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C.I.A. Had Evidence of Russian Effort to Help Trump Earlier Than Believed

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In an Aug. 25 briefing for Harry Reid, then the top Democrat in the Senate, Mr. Brennan indicated that Russia’s hackings appeared aimed at helping Mr. Trump win the November election, according to two former officials with knowledge of the briefing.
The officials said Mr. Brennan also indicated that unnamed advisers to Mr. Trump might be working with the Russians to interfere in the election. The F.B.I. and two congressional committees are now investigating that claim, focusing on possible communications and financial dealings between Russian affiliates and a handful of former advisers to Mr. Trump. So far, no proof of collusion has emerged publicly.
Mr. Trump has rejected any suggestion of a Russian connection as “ridiculous” and “fake news.” The White House has also sought to redirect the focus from the investigation and toward what Mr. Trump has said, with no evidence, was President Barack Obama’s wiretapping of phones in Trump Tower during the presidential campaign.
The C.I.A. and the F.B.I. declined to comment for this article, as did Mr. Brennan and senior lawmakers who were part of the summer briefings.
In the August briefing for Mr. Reid, the two former officials said, Mr. Brennan indicated that the C.I.A., focused on foreign intelligence, was limited in its legal ability to investigate possible connections to Mr. Trump. The officials said Mr. Brennan told Mr. Reid that the F.B.I., in charge of domestic intelligence, would have to lead the way.
Days later, Mr. Reid wrote to James B. Comey, director of the F.B.I. Without mentioning the C.I.A. briefing, Mr. Reid told Mr. Comey that he had “recently become concerned” that Russia’s interference was “more extensive than widely known.”
In his letter, the senator cited what he called mounting evidence “of a direct connection between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign” and said it was crucial for the F.B.I. to “use every resource available” to conduct an investigation.
Unknown to Mr. Reid, the F.B.I. had already opened a counterintelligence inquiry a month before, in late July, to examine possible links between Russia and people tied to the Trump campaign. But its existence was kept secret even from members of Congress.
Well into the fall, law enforcement officials said that the F.B.I. — including the bureau’s intelligence analysts — had not found any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government, as The New York Times reported on Oct. 31.
But as the election approached and new batches of hacked Democratic emails poured out, some F.B.I. officials began to change their view about Russia’s intentions and eventually came to believe, as the C.I.A. had months earlier, that Moscow was trying to help get Mr. Trump elected, officials said.
It was not until early December, a month after the election, that it became publicly known in news reports that the C.I.A. had concluded that Moscow’s motivation was to get Mr. Trump elected.
In January, intelligence officials publicly released a declassified version of their findings, concluding that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had “aspired to help” Mr. Trump to win the election and harm Hillary Clinton, a longtime adversary.
By then, both the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. said they had “high confidence” that Russia was trying to help Mr. Trump by hacking into the internal emails of the Democratic National Committee and of some Clinton aides. (The National Security Agency, also involved in the review, expressed only “moderate confidence” that the Russians were trying to help him.)
Last month, Mr. Comey publicly acknowledged the continuing investigation at a House hearing on Russia’s influence in the election.
One factor in the C.I.A. analysis last summer was that American intelligence agencies learned that Russia’s cyberattacks had breached Republican targets as well as Democrats. But virtually none of the hacked Republican material came out publicly, while the Russians, working through WikiLeaks and other public outlets, dumped substantial amounts of Democratic material damaging to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.
Some intelligence officials were wary of pushing too aggressively before the election with questions about possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign because of concerns it might be seen as an improper political attempt to help Mrs. Clinton.
But after her loss, a number of Mrs. Clinton’s supporters have said that Mr. Comey and other government officials should have revealed more to the public during the campaign season about what they knew of Russia’s motivations and possible connections to the Trump campaign.
The classified briefings that the C.I.A. held in August and September for the so-called Gang of Eight — the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and the Senate and of the intelligence committees in each chamber — show deep concerns about the impact of the election meddling.
In the briefings, the C.I.A. said there was intelligence indicating not only that the Russians were trying to get Mr. Trump elected but that they had gained computer access to multiple state and local election boards in the United States since 2014, officials said.
Although the breached systems were not involved in actual vote-tallying operations, Obama administration officials proposed that the eight senior lawmakers write a letter to state election officials warning them of the possible threat posed by Russian hacking, officials said.
But Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, resisted questioning the underpinnings of the intelligence, according to officials with knowledge of the discussions. Mr. McConnell ultimately agreed to a softer version of the letter, which did not mention the Russians but warned of unnamed “malefactors” who might seek to disrupt the elections through online intrusion. The letter, dated Sept. 28, was signed by Mr. McConnell, Mr. Reid, Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Representative Nancy Pelosi, the ranking Democrat.
On Sept. 22, two other members of the Gang of Eight — Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Adam B. Schiff, both of California and the ranking Democrats on the Senate and House intelligence committees — released their own statement about the Russian interference that did not mention Mr. Trump or his campaign by name.
But they did say that “based on briefings we have received, we have concluded that the Russian intelligence agencies are making a serious and concerted effort to influence the U.S. election.”
“At the least, this effort is intended to sow doubt about the security of our election and may well be intended to influence the outcomes of the election,” they added.
The classified briefings continued through the fall, as the C.I.A. gathered additional intelligence that appears to have firmed up its belief that Russia was trying to get Mr. Trump elected.
The F.B.I., the N.S.A. and Office of the Director of National Intelligence also held a classified briefing on Sept. 6 for congressional staff members about the wave of Russian hacks and “the current and ongoing threat facing U.S. political organizations during this national political season,” according to a government official.
These new details show Congress and the intelligence agencies racing in the final weeks of the campaign to understand the scope of the Russian threat. But Democrats and Republicans who were privy to the classified briefings often saw the intelligence through a political prism, sparring over whether it could be construed as showing that the Russians were helping Mr. Trump.
The briefings left Mr. Reid particularly frustrated with the F.B.I.’s handling of Russia’s election intrusion, especially after the agency said in late October — 11 days before the election — that it was re-examining Mrs. Clinton’s emails.
Mr. Reid fired off another letter two days later, on Oct. 30, accusing Mr. Comey of a “double standard” in reviving the Clinton investigation while sitting on “explosive information” about possible ties between Russia and Mr. Trump.
“The public,” Mr. Reid wrote said, “has a right to know this information.”
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IS conducts its largest mass murders of 2017 - The New Arab

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IS conducts its largest mass murders of 2017
The New Arab
IS murdered 33 people in Syria early Wednesday morning in what has been described as the largest mass execution since 2016. The mass killings of the men aged between 18 and 25 took place in the al-Mayadin desert, near the city of Deir az-Zor, according ...

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Woman falls off California's highest bridge while taking selfie - CNN

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Woman falls off California's highest bridge while taking selfie
(CNN) Police in a California county have a warning for camera-toting thrill seekers: "You can lose your life and none of that is worth a selfie!" The message was posted on the Placer County Sheriff's Office Facebook page after a woman fell 60 feet off ...
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Twitter alleges Trump administration tried to unmask critical account - The Hill

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Twitter alleges Trump administration tried to unmask critical account
The Hill
Twitter filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration on Thursday alleging that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials had tried to get the company to reveal the identity of an anonymous account that has been critical of the agency. The ...
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Trump to be briefed on full range of military options in Syria: source

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Tillerson, Russia's Lavrov spoke about Syria poison gas attack

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Russia Collusion Investigations Struggle to Find Evidence

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There are multiple investigations into whether a foreign power interfered with the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. They began with allegations of Russian meddling, yet have taken a new turn with the revelation that the Obama administration was monitoring the communications of the Trump team, possibly for political reasons.
Former national security adviser Susan Rice, responding to a question about whether she had sought to unmask the names of members of the Trump campaign or the Trump transition team, told on MSNBC she had not done so “for political purposes.” Rice claimed later in the interview that any unmasking that she ordered was done for national security reasons.
Members of the House and Senate intelligence committees are now calling on Rice to testify on whether the gathered intelligence was used improperly.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said on Twitter that Rice “needs to testify under oath.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that there is still no conclusive evidence showing the Trump campaign collaborated with Russia, saying, “I don’t think we can say anything definitively at this point.”
The investigations into Russian interference pull from a legitimate concern that a foreign power may have interfered with the U.S. presidential elections. This was initially based on suspicions that WikiLeaks, an information-leaking website, had released emails that may have been stolen from Hillary Clinton’s aides by Russian hackers.
It carried an additional component, however, that is now beginning to unravel—the idea that the Trump campaign may have had a hand in the leaks.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told ABC News on March 6, that in his investigations into Russian interference in the elections, conducted under the Obama administration, “There was no evidence whatsoever, at the time, of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.”
Former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell arrives for testimony before the House Select Intelligence Committee in Washington on April 2, 2014. The committee heard testimony on the topic of "The Benghazi Talking Points and Michael J. Morell&squot;s Role in Shaping the Administration&squot;s Narrative."  (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell arrives for testimony before the House Select Intelligence Committee in Washington on April 2, 2014. The committee heard testimony on the topic of “The Benghazi Talking Points and Michael J. Morell’s Role in Shaping the Administration’s Narrative.” (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Obama’s acting CIA chief Michael Morell also stepped back on his initial hardline that the Trump team may have colluded with Russia, and said at a March 16 event, according to NBC News, “On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians here, there is smoke but there is no fire, at all.
“There’s no little campfire, there’s no little candle, there’s no spark. And there’s a lot of people looking for it.”
Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is currently investigating whether Russia interfered in the election, are starting to quell expectations. BuzzFeed News said it spoke with more than six individuals involved in the investigation, both Republicans and Democrats, and noted that “there’s a tangible frustration over what one official called ‘wildly inflated’ expectations surrounding the panel’s fledgling investigation.”
An official told Buzzfeed, “I don’t think the conclusions are going to meet people’s expectations.”

Emotions on Overdrive

The 2016 elections were hard on most Americans, to say the least, but they were especially difficult for Democrats, who were told up to Election Day that Trump stood no chance against Clinton—only to watch this fade away on election night. And they were told again that the electoral college could flip its vote and Clinton would still have a shot, only to again be disappointed.
There is a huge disparity between the amount of evidence that is cited in news stories and the charges—they’re overcharging, if there is any evidence at all.
— William McGowan, , author, 'Gray Lady Down'
Many major news outlets, meanwhile, have hunkered down on the idea that the Trump presidency is not legitimate, and the Russia probe has become their last bastion against Trump.
This has led to a style of reporting that has blown many findings out of proportion, and that has failed to put information into its accurate context. At the same time, many of the ongoing controversies are based not on new evidence, but instead on new comments about old evidence.
President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on, Jan. 28, 2017. Also pictured, from left, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on, Jan. 28, 2017. Also pictured, from left, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
“There is a huge disparity between the amount of evidence that is cited in news stories and the charges—they’re overcharging, if there is any evidence at all,” said William McGowan, author of the books “Coloring the News” and “Gray Lady Down” and a former editor at Washington Monthly who has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and other national news organizations.
William McGowan, author, 'Gray Lady Down'
William McGowan, author, ‘Gray Lady Down’
McGowan said that while he’s not a fan of Trump’s antagonistic style, he has found the coverage and commentary on Trump to be “strikingly biased, and much more successful at expressing fear and loathing than in encouraging an understanding of the man and his movement.”
He noted that in their coverage, many news outlets take the road of misquoting Trump, then using the misquotes to denounce him. As an example, McGowan cited a video in which Trump allegedly—as The New York Times put it in their headline—”calls on Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s missing emails.”
The press conference video is widely cited by major news outlets as evidence that Trump was tied to WikiLeaks’ releasing of stolen emails from the Clinton campaign.
Taken in context, however, Trump’s statement was very different from how it has been framed. At the time of the press conference on July 27, 2016, WikiLeaks had already started releasing the stolen emails, and news outlets were already trying to accuse Trump of being tied to the leaks. Trump condemned Russia’s actions, saying, “Russia has no respect for our country,” and said that if a foreign government was behind the leaks, it was a “total sign of disrespect for our country.”
Reporters continued to press Trump about the leaks, however, and continued to accuse him of being involved—without evidence. Trump then responded, “What do I have to get involved with Putin for?”, and then accused the reporters of bias and double standards, asking them why they weren’t similarly holding Clinton accountable for her missing emails. He then stated, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
News outlets then began widely circulating clips of Trump’s ending statement to allege he called on Russia to hack Clinton.
McGowan said, “What you have is a shred of a statement or utterance, and the media takes a huge leap from that.”
According to Ronald J. Rychlak, a lawyer and staunch critic of Russia, people tend to draw incorrect conclusions when they start looking at issues from an existing assumption. Rychlak co-authored the book “Disinformation” with Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking Soviet bloc intelligence official who ever defected to the West.
In legal cases, Rychlak said, there are checks and balances on burden of proof and on cross examination. With accusations spread in the news, “reporters get to set their own standards.”
“Some evidence is inconclusive,” he said, noting that if you approach an investigation while already assuming that one party is guilty, then “your starting assumption is going to determine your ultimate conclusion.”

Carter Page

There are at least three investigations into the Trump–Russia connection by the FBI.
In addition, Congress has five standing committees and one sub-committee investigating Russian interference in the election as well as contacts between Trump’s team and Russian officials.
Rep. Schiff said during a March 20 testimony to the House Select Intelligence Committee that at least four people involved in the Trump campaign are being investigated: Carter Page, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, and Roger Stone.
Page was allegedly named a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, although Trump’s campaign staffers deny this. He was accused by Schiff of doing business in Russia—specifically with Russian oil companies Gazprom and Rosneft. As with most major companies in Russia, the oil industry is largely controlled by Russian oligarchs, and company CEOs typically have relations with the Russian government.
Page, an oil industry consultant, is the founder and managing partner of Global Energy Capital, a New York investment fund and consulting firm that specializes in the oil and gas industries in Central Asia and Russia.

Michael Flynn

Flynn is arguably the most controversial figure in the investigations. He allegedly wants to testify to the House and Senate committees to explain his case, but has also requested immunity.
While his request looks bad—suggesting he broke the law somewhere along the line—it likely ties to legal issues that are already known.
Flynn is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general who served as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under Obama from July 24, 2012, until Aug. 7, 2014. He later served as an adviser to the Trump campaign and started as Trump’s national security adviser on Jan. 20.
Flynn served as adviser for just 24 days, before he was removed from the position on Feb. 13. Flynn said he resigned, and Trump said he was fired.
Flynn was accused of lying to Vice President Mike Pence, claiming he did not discuss Russian sanctions during a call he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislya before Trump took office. It was revealed in intercepted transcripts from the Obama administration that Flynn did discuss sanctions.
In his resignation letter, Flynn apologized and said it was not intentional. He said in his resignation letter that “in the course of my duties as the incoming national security adviser, I held numerous phone calls with foreign counterparts, ministers, and ambassadors.” He said the calls were to ensure a smooth transition for the Trump presidency and that “because of the fast pace of events,” he had unintentionally provided Pence with “incomplete information.”
Schiff also accused Flynn of receiving $33,750 from Russian television network RT, which receives part of its funding from the Russian government, for a speech he made in Moscow in 2015. The Trump administration said Flynn did not disclose his payments from RT.
In March, Flynn registered as a foreign agent lobbying for Turkey. His firm, Flynn Intel Group, was paid $530,000 by Netherlands-based firm Inovo BV, which is owned by Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish businessman close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Most of this was already known. Online news portal The Intercept reported in Nov. 2016 that Flynn Intel Group registered as a lobbying entity in September 2016, and in that same month, Robert Kelley, the company’s general counsel, registered as a lobbyist for Inovo BV.
Flynn may be in hot water over both of these issues—mainly on the grounds that he failed to disclose his RT payment to the Trump team and that he did not register himself as a foreign-agent lobbyist in the Turkey deal.

Paul Manafort

As for Manafort, he and Stone both worked for the Trump campaign—Manafort as campaign manager and Stone as an adviser. Both are professional lobbyists with the Washington-based lobbying firm Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly.
In August 2015 Trump fired Stone, while Manafort resigned in August 2016. Stone claimed he quit, but the Trump campaign said he was fired because, according to CNN, “We have a tremendously successful campaign and Roger wanted to use the campaign for his own personal publicity.”
Schiff has accused Manafort of long being “on the payroll of pro-Russian Ukrainian interests.”
According to The Associated Press, Manafort worked with a Russian billionaire to “greatly benefit the Putin government,” which took the form of a $10 million annual contract with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, chairman of Basic Element Co.
Put into context, however, Manafort’s deal with Deripaska started more than 10 years ago in 2006 and ended by 2009 at the latest, according to AP. It notes that by 2016, the relationship between Manafort and Deripaska had gone sour, and during the 2016 presidential campaign, “Deripaska’s representatives openly accused Manafort of fraud” and were trying to recover money from him.
Manafort is also accused of working with the Russian government through Ukraine. This accusation concerns his having worked with Viktor Yanukovych, the former president of Ukraine, who was pro-Russia.
Manafort’s lobbying firm, Prime Policy Group, lobbies U.S. Congress on behalf of foreign governments. It was formed in a 2010 merger between Timmons & Co. and BKSH & Associates, and its members have many political connections—both Republican and Democrat. Charles Black Jr. was a senior adviser to Ronald Reagan in his 1980 and 1984 presidential campaigns, and later to George H.W. Bush. Peter Kelly, also in the firm, was an adviser to Al Gore and Bill Clinton.

Roger Stone

The case against Stone was also outlined by Schiff on March 20. He claimed that Stone communicated with Julian Assange, head of WikiLeaks, which would later publish emails of Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, and that Stone also communicated with the hacker behind the leaks, Guccifer 2.0, who has been inconclusively accused of working for Russian intelligence.
Stone did communicate with Guccifer 2.0 over Twitter—but it was close to a year after he was fired from the Trump campaign and at a time when the leaks were well underway.
In August 2016, Twitter had reinstated Guccifer 2.0’s account after suspending it for leaking private information on Democrats when the scandal over Clinton’s missing emails was running hot. Stone told Politico on March 27 his message was just to send him a “high-five saying, ‘Glad you’re reinstated,’ because I’m against censorship.”
Stone made his full Twitter discussion with Guccifer 2.0 public on March 10, showing he sent three short messages. The first two were in August 2016, and said he was glad his account was reinstated, then asked him to retweet an article on how the election could be rigged against Trump. His third message in September 2016 was in response to a story Guccifer sent to him via Twitter direct message, to which Stone replied, “Pretty standard.”
Stone claimed he communicated with Assange on Aug. 8, 2016, again close to a year after he left the Trump campaign. According to, “Stone later clarified that he never spoke directly with Assange, but that the two have a mutual journalist friend,” and that the journalist told Stone that Assange was going to release emails on Hillary Clinton in October.
Schiff also alleged that Stone predicted Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta would fall victim to a cyberattack and have his emails published, before it happened. Schiff’s statement was based on a tweet Stone published on Aug. 21 that said, “Trust me, it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary”
He sent the tweet after WikiLeaks had already begun publishing documents on the Clinton campaign, close to a year after he was fired by Trump.
Stone later clarified his tweet in an interview with Breitbart News, saying it was in response to political attacks about Manafort’s business deals with former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
He said the tweet was meant to predict that Podesta’s own business deals with Russia would be exposed. This was related to information leaked in the Panama Papers, which unveiled, according to The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the “rogue industry” that hides money for politicians and criminals.

The Clinton Campaign

Stone’s reference to Podesta was also pointed to by Trump, who alleged other connections between Russia and Clinton’s team.
Trump tweeted on March 27, “Why isn’t the House Intelligence Committee looking into the Bill & Hillary deal that allowed big Uranium to go to Russia, Russian speech … money to Bill, the Hillary Russian ‘reset,’ praise of Russia by Hillary, or Podesta Russian Company.”
According to the Observer, the Panama Papers showed The Podesta Group, co-founded by Podesta and his brother, company chairman Tony Podesta, has lobbied Washington on behalf of Russia’s biggest bank, Sberbank. Tony Podesta is a registered lobbyist for Sberbank and was a top campaign bundler and contributor for Clinton’s presidential campaign.
The Observer states Tony Podesta worked for Sberbank to “help lift some of the pain of sanctions placed on Russia in the aftermath of the Kremlin’s aggression against Ukraine, which has caused real pain to the country’s hard-hit financial sector.”
Fox News reported that in 2011, Podesta joined the board of Massachusetts-based energy company Joule Energy, and two months later, a Russian company invested close to $35 million into it. The Russian company was Rusnano, a joint-stock company owned by the Russian government.
Podesta claims he disclosed his 75,000 stock shares in the company and transferred them in January 2014, before he became counselor to Obama that same month.
In another case, Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 by Russian investment bank Renaissance Capital, owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, for a speech in 2010, according to Hillary Clinton’s financial disclosures.
According to PolitiFact, some critics of the Clintons suggest the speaking fee “might have been an attempt by Renaissance Capital to curry favor with the State Department,” since Renaissance Capital was involved in a deal to obtain Uranium One, an international mining company headquartered in Canada but with operations in the United States, that supplied close to 11 percent of U.S. uranium in 2014.
Around the time of Bill Clinton’s speech, the State Department—under Hillary Clinton as secretary of state—had to sign off on Renaissance Capital’s bid to gain a controlling stake in Uranium One. The New York Times reported in April 2015 that as the bids were approved from 2009 to 2013, “a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation” that totaled $2.35 million.”

Falsified Cyber Reports

During the presidential transition in December 2016, former president Barack Obama ordered an investigation into the possibility that Russia helped Trump win the election. This produced two reports, which Obama rushed to the public before Trump was sworn into office on Jan. 20.
The first report, from Dec. 29, 2016, from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), began with a disclaimer that it “does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within.”
The report dedicates less than three pages to the allegations that two hacker groups breached the DNC’s networks, and breaks up these pages with large infographics showing how basic cyberattacks work. It then shows a list of nicknames given to alleged Russian hacker groups by the cybersecurity community, and then dedicates the remaining pages to tips on how companies can guard against cyberattacks.
The 13-page report alleges that Guccifer 2.0 is actually two hacker groups, and at least one breached “a political party.” The report fails, however, to show any conclusive evidence to support this claim.
It also turned out that much of the work in the FBI report came from investigations of cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, which recently revised and retracted some of its initial conclusions that Russia was behind the cyberattacks.
Part of the Russia connection was from a CrowdStrike claim that it found evidence the Russian government hacked a Ukrainian artillery app, which shut down Ukraine’s howitzers in its war against pro-Russia separatists. This proved to be false, however. Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense said the hacking never happened, according to Voice of America, and the International Institute for Strategic Studies disavowed the CrowdStrike report, noting that contrary to claims, CrowdStrike never contacted them.
Malicious actors can easily position their breach to be attributed to Russia, and that even hackers with the most basic skills can do this.
— Report from the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology
CrowdStrike was hired by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to investigate who hacked its accounts. After one day of analysis, it concluded the attacks were from “Fancy Bear” and “Cozy Bear,” nicknames cybersecurity researchers have given to alleged Russia hacker groups.
The problem with CrowdStrike’s findings is they were based solely by the tools the hackers used, the traits of the targets, and similar information.
Guccifer 2.0, the hacker behind the leaked emails, issued a statement on Jan. 12 stating the accusations of him being tied to Russian intelligence are “unfounded” and noted that “any IT professional can see that a malware sample mentioned in the Joint Analysis Report was taken from the web and was commonly available. A lot of hackers use it.”
“It’s obvious that the intelligence agencies are deliberately falsifying evidence,” he stated.
Many cybersecurity experts have pointed out similar issues, noting none of the information in the reports is conclusive, since any hacker can spoof such attacks by simply using the same tools and methodology of a known hacker group.
report from the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology (ICIT) says, “Malicious actors can easily position their breach to be attributed to Russia,” and that even hackers with the most basic skills can do this.
It adds, “It would be easy to baselessly declare that all of the attacks were launched by Russia based on the malware employed.”
To make things still more complicated, the method that CrowdStrike used to identify the alleged Russian hackers looks at the same information that the CIA can allegedly spoof. Under the CIA’s UMBRAGE group, revealed by WikiLeaks on March 7. The CIA maintains a digital library of attacks and techniques from various hacker groups, so that it can use these methods to launch attacks while framing known hacker groups.
WikiLeaks noted in a press release that the CIA’s UMBRAGE files included attack profiles of Russian hacker groups, which could be used to leave falsified “fingerprints” for cyberforensics investigators.

No Evidence of Collusion

The next report was released on Jan. 6 through the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which collected analysis from the CIA, FBI, and National Security Agency (NSA).
It alleged that “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.” The keywords here are “influence campaign.”
The evidence presented by the 25-page report consists almost entirely of news articles from Russian news outlet RT. Its says the Russian government favored a Trump victory, and the state-funded RT reported favorably on Trump and negatively on Clinton.
The report’s core claim to foreign interference is on the grounds that RT news articles received traction in U.S. news outlets and social media networks.
Of course, similar analyses could be applied to any foreign official who openly supported or decried a U.S. presidential candidate, and whose comments received broad media coverage. Most foreign leaders, including in Canada and Europe, took an opposite stance from Russia and openly supported Clinton and decried Trump.
The report also made broad allegations based on classified evidence that was not made public. The nature of the classified information was later released by BuzzFeed on Jan. 10, and was shown to have come from a 35-page dossier collected by a former British MI6 agent who now runs a private security business.
When the “highly classified assessment,” as the government report called it, was made public by BuzzFeed, even BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith wrote, “There is serious reason to doubt the allegations.”
The narrative has since unraveled, as was revealed by James Clapper, who led the investigations as director of national intelligence under Obama, during a March 5 segment of NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Clapper said, “We did not include any evidence in our report (and I say, ‘our,’ that’s NSA, FBI, and CIA, with my office, the director of National Intelligence) that had anything, that had any reflection of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians. We had no evidence of such collusion.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated when Paul Manafort was hired for and resigned from the Donald Trump presidential campaign. Manafort was hired in March 2016 and resigned in August 2016.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Paul Manafort’s role in the Trump campaign. Manafort served as campaign manager to the Trump campaign.
Epoch Times regrets the errors.
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The Trump-Russia allegations sound incriminating. But would any of them be illegal?

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House Intelligence Republicans Boycott Briefing From FBI’s Russian Double Agent

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The incident was the latest example of the dysfunction, partisanship, and paralysis that’s gripped the panel since Chairman Devin Nunes blew up its Russia investigation.
Republicans boycotted a Wednesday briefing on Russian intelligence methods organized by Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, who had hoped the committee’s members could gather in a bipartisan manner to hear non-controversial testimony from an expert.
Weeks ago, House Intelligence Committee staff and Swalwell reached out to a national-security specialist, Naveed Jamali. In the 2000s, Jamali was a double agent in the service of the FBI after the Russian government tried to recruit him as an asset.
Every single Republican lawmaker on the House Intelligence Committee was invited to the members-only briefing on Wednesday. Not one showed.
“I want [the Republicans on the committee] to know that they had an opportunity to go, and I hope we can show the bipartisan cooperation that a lot of us have experienced before the investigation began,” Swalwell told The Daily Beast. “This was an effort to do that, and I will continue to reach out.”
The idea was for Jamali to brief House Intelligence Committee on Russian methods for targeting and recruiting intelligence assets. The briefing was held in a private setting, and rather than discussing Russia-Trump ties, looked only at the Russian government’s tactics. It was billed as an unclassified meeting that took place outside of the committee’s secure briefing area, and was not formally organized by the committee.
“It was an informal opportunity for all members of the committee to meet someone who had a real-life, Russian recruiting experience,” Swalwell said. “So he shared with members how Russia used business entanglements to approach a U.S. person and to seek influence.”
Jamali briefed the lawmakers on his personal experience as an FBI double agent who interacted with the Russian government, noting that Russian intelligence often didn’t have a specific purpose for recruitment—they found assets and looked for a use for them later.
“When I look at what is out in the public domain… about Michael Flynn and others, my concern is that there are echoes of what the Russians did with me, in what happened in [the presidential elections of] 2016,” Jamali told The Daily Beast. “It takes years to recruit an asset… ‘they say someone is of interest, let’s recruit them’ and then it could be years after they’ve been recruited when they’re put into play.”
Swalwell said after Jamali’s briefing that he had expected Republicans would attend, and had been assured by some that they would try to make it. A spokesman for Nunes had no comment Wednesday about the decision by Republicans on the committee to skip it.
The committee met for regular business Monday evening to pursue normal intelligence oversight duties, but did not discuss in detail how to restart their investigation into Russian inference in the U.S. presidential election. The committee will meet again for an all-hands briefing Thursday morning.
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Two weeks ago, Nunes held a press conference with a shocking assessment: Information about Trump transition officials had been “incidentally collected” during legal foreign surveillance by the United States government. The chairman then rushed to brief the president—a subject of the committee’s investigation—without telling the rest of his committee what had happened.
In the intervening days, it was reported that Nunes had visited the White House privately the night before his press conference, and that his sources were White House staff. Nunes then cancelled a planned open hearing for the committee, where it had expected to receive testimony about Russia from senior national security officials who had served in the Obama administration.
The committee remains fractious and relationships are frayed. There is no word on if or when the panel’s hearings on Russia might resume.
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Russia Bashes Trump as Syria Gas Attack Hits Detente Hopes

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