This occurred over what the Washington Post and the New York Times suggest was President Trump’s inadvertent disclosure of highly classified intelligence from Israel in the Oval Office when Trump received Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The disclosure, the Times quoted American officials as representing, “could expose the source of the information and the manner in which it was collected.” At one moment Wednesday, the Times had on its home page something like 18 pieces on this or related scandals.
What a contrast to, say, 2006. That’s when the Gray Lady thumbed its nose for news at President George W. Bush’s pleadings that the paper refrain from disclosing how the government, in its hunt for terrorists, was mining data of the Swift banking consortium.
The Bush administration had begged the Times not to proceed. Yet it did so. Bush called it “disgraceful,” adding that the “fact that a newspaper disclosed it makes it harder to win this war on terror.” Treasury said it would hamper the pursuit of terrorists.
Such a hullabaloo arose from long-suffering Times readers that the paper’s executive editor, then Bill Keller, issued a 1,400-word “personal response.” In it, he suggested that if conservative bloggers were so worried, they should stop calling attention to it. Read the rest of this entry »
Loose Lips Sink Presidencies.
The state of the Trump Presidency has been perpetual turbulence, which seems to be how the principal likes it. The latest vortex is over Mr. Trump’s disclosure of sensitive intel to the Russians—and whatever the particulars of the incident, the danger is that Presidencies can withstand only so much turbulence before they come apart.
The Washington Post reported Monday night that in an Oval Office meeting last week Mr. Trump relayed high-level “code word” classified material obtained from an ally to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Cue another Washington meltdown. The President took to Twitter on Tuesday morning to defend himself, claiming an “absolute right” to disclose “facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety.”
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster put a finer point on it at a Tuesday press conference, though without denying key details. He said Mr. Trump’s disclosure was “wholly appropriate” and didn’t expose intelligence sources and methods.
Presidents sometimes share secrets with overseas leaders—even to adversaries such as the Soviets during the Cold War—if they conclude the benefits of showing what the U.S. knows will aid diplomacy or strategic interests. From media accounts and his tweets, Mr. Trump said something about Islamic State’s laptop bomb threat to airlines. He may well have been trying to convince the envoys of the menace ISIS poses to Russian lives and foreign-policy goals, like the Russian airliner that exploded over Sinai in 2015. Read the rest of this entry »
Paul Bedard writes: In the latest sign that Washington operates in an alternate economy, journalism jobs around the country dove 22 percent in the last 10 years, but they spiked a whopping 38 percent in the nation’s capital, according to a new economic study. What’s more, salaries for Washington journalists rose 7 percent while diving nationally.
While 12,000 reporting jobs were eliminated in most markets in the last decade, the Washington journalism market expanded from 2,190 to 3,030. That is more than five journalists for every single House and Senate member.
In New York, by comparison, the drop was historic, from 5,330 jobs in 2005 to just 3,478 in 2015, said the study from Apartmentlist.com.
The study reviewed rents in major cities and showed how rents have spiked while the salaries of reporters hasn’t. That gap may be responsible for the shift by reporters, even award-winning journalists, to better paying public relations.
“Our analysis illustrated that reporter salaries are growing slower than rents in most metros. Nationwide, reporter salaries declined by 7 percent over the past decade while rents increased 9 percent. If this trend continues, publications will struggle to hire and retain talent,” said the report provided to Secrets. Read the rest of this entry »
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said earlier that he had briefed Trump on new information, unrelated to an investigation into Russian activities, that suggested that several members of Trump’s transition team and perhaps Trump himself had their identities “unmasked” after their communications were intercepted by U.S. intelligence officials.
The revelation is notable because identities of Americans are generally supposed to remain “masked” if American communications are swept up during surveillance of foreign individuals.
During an interview on Fox News, Woodward said that if that information about the unmasking is true, “it is a gross violation.” Read the rest of this entry »
Two videos: 1, the New York Time’s “Truth” ad, which itself stands as mockery against the Times, then 2, the NRA’s rebuttal to the NYT ad.
‘The Same NYT that Just Ran a Self-Congratulatory Ad About How Devoted to ‘Truth’ They Are Stealth-Deletes an Inconvenient Lie from an Article, Then Refuses to Explain Themselves’
Kevin Daley reports: Journalists and Democrats in Congress were far too quick to speculate that Attorney General Jeff Sessions perjured himself during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, after The Washington Post revealed he had failed to disclose two meetings with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.
“There are three elements here: a statement must be false, the false statement must be material (relevant) to the question/s asked, and the false statement must be made with an intent to deceive.”
Perjury is the crime of willfully telling an untruth while under oath before a court or tribunal. Read the rest of this entry »
Federal prosecutors are weighing bringing child-pornography charges against former congressman Anthony Weiner over sexually explicit exchanges he allegedly had with a 15-year-old girl.
Erica Orden and Nicole Hong report: Federal prosecutors are weighing bringing child-pornography charges against former Rep. Anthony Weiner over sexually explicit exchanges he allegedly had with a 15-year-old girl, according to people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Weiner, a New York Democrat, is being investigated by the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which seized his electronic devices, including a laptop and a cellphone, as part of the probe.
Officials initiated the investigation last fall, after the Daily Mail in the U.K. reported that Mr. Weiner had exchanged sexually explicit messages and photos with the girl.
In recent weeks, according to some of the people familiar with the matter, attorneys for Mr. Weiner have had discussions with federal prosecutors in Manhattan in hopes of dissuading them from bringing charges, or at least from bringing the most serious one: production of child pornography, which carries a 15-year mandatory minimum prison sentence upon conviction.
These types of discussions can indicate both sides are trying to reach an agreement in which the defendant pleads guilty in exchange for a less-severe charge.
Mr. Weiner could face the production charge, some of the people familiar with the case say, because he allegedly solicited explicit images from the teenager. Read the rest of this entry »
YOU’RE FIRED: Obama Holdover Sally Yates, AG Who Ordered Justice Deptartment Not to Defend President’s Travel Ban, FiredPosted: January 30, 2017
‘It’s sad that our politics have become so politicized that you have people refusing to enforce our laws’
Matt Zapotosky, Sari Horwitz and Mark Berman reports: President Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Monday night, after Yates ordered Justice Department lawyers Monday not to defend his immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world.In a press release, the White House said Yates had “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.”
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) January 31, 2017
The White House has named Dana Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, as acting attorney general. Boente told The Washington Post that he will agree to enforce the immigration order.
Earlier on Monday, Yates ordered Justice Department not to defend President Trump’s immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world, declaring in a memo that she is not convinced the order is lawful.
Yates wrote that, as the leader of the Justice Department, she must ensure that the department’s position is “legally defensible” and “consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.”
“At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the Executive Order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the Executive Order is lawful,” Yates wrote. She wrote that “for as long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.”
Yates is a holdover from the Obama administration, but the move nonetheless marks a stunning dissent to the president’s directive from someone who would be on the front lines of implementing it.
Also Monday, State Department diplomats circulated various drafts of a memo objecting to Trump’s order, which was issued Friday. The document is destined for what’s known as the department’s Dissent Channel, which was set up during the Vietnam War as a way for diplomats to signal to senior leadership their disagreement on foreign policy decisions. More than 100 diplomats have signed the memo, which argues that the immigration ban will not deter attacks on American soil but will generate ill will toward U.S. citizens.
What will happen next is unclear. A Justice Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said those who would normally defend the order under Yates’s authority can no longer do so. Yates will probably be replaced soon by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Trump’s attorney general nominee, who could be confirmed as early as Thursday or Friday. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider his nomination Tuesday, and the entire Senate must wait one day before voting. Read the rest of this entry »
After Donald Trump Kills CNN Reporter with Death-Ray, Media Debates Use of Top-Secret Military Weapons Against CiviliansPosted: January 12, 2017
The dogs of the Democratic media were absolutely howling yesterday over sordid, unverified allegations involving Russia, but the president-elect and his team put on a master class in self-defense. They hit back forcefully, with press secretary Sean Spicer calling publication of the allegations “disgraceful” and Vice President-elect Mike Pence calling it a case of “fake news” that aims to “delegitimize the president-elect.”
It was a strong warm-up, and Trump then took the stage to completely deny the charges, and repeated the denials in response to numerous questions. By the end of the press conference, he had managed to turn the spotlight away from himself and on to the lack of integrity in both the media and government intelligence agencies — where it also belongs.
That was no mean feat, and his performance was a reminder that Trump is not and never will be a pushover. He fights fire with fire and is getting increasingly more disciplined in making his case.
Pulling it off was not as easy as he made it look. The run-up to his first press conference since winning the election had the air of crisis that was routine in the long campaign. Then, every week or two, many geniuses predicted that something Trump had said or done would be the final straw and he would have to drop out.
Similarly, the salacious allegations he faced yesterday packed a potential to seriously wound him before he takes office. Anything less than complete denial would have created a firestorm, but after his no-wiggle-room statements, the allegations withered, at least for now. That had to disappoint the dead-enders who hoped they had finally found the kill shot.
Instead, Trump emerged intact and even stronger as he made news on two other fronts: He released extensive plans on how he is severing himself from his company and nominated a new secretary of the troubled Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Read the rest of this entry »
10 fascinating facts about Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon was one of the best-known American politicians of the 20th century’s second half, and one of the most controversial. So how much do you know about the 37th President on the occasion of his birthday?
Nixon burst on to the political scene just after World War II, when he won seats in the United States House of Representatives and the Senate from California. His political career ended in August 1974, with his historic resignation during the Watergate scandal.
In between, Nixon became one of the most famous figures in the world and fixture in national politics. Here are a few things you may, or may not know, about his roller coaster career.
1. Nixon and Franklin Roosevelt are the only two people to appear on a national presidential ticket five times. Nixon won election in four of the five races, as did FDR. Nixon was the winning vice presidential candidate in 1952 and 1956, and he won the 1968 and 1972 presidential elections. Roosevelt won four presidential elections and lost as a vice presidential candidate in 1920.
2. Nixon had a chance to attend Harvard but had to decline. As a student, Richard Nixon was third in his class and was offered a tuition grant to Harvard, but he was needed at home by his family.
3. He was also an outstanding law student. After graduating from Whittier College in California, Nixon received a full scholarship to Duke Law and he graduated third in his class.
4. Nixon was a lieutenant commander in the Navy during World War II. He served in a variety of administrative positions, but didn’t see combat during his time in the Pacific.
5. Richard Nixon almost became an FBI agent in the 1930s. Nixon applied to the agency but never heard back about his application. He has been accepted but then budget cuts eliminated his position.
6. Nixon was only 39 years old when he ran for vice president in 1952.Presidential candidate Dwight Eisenhower didn’t have a preference for a running mate, and party leaders favor Nixon for his anti-Communist stance and his strength in California.
7. Nixon survived two potentially fatal political losses in 1960 and 1962. Defeats in the presidential campaign against John F. Kennedy and the 1962 Californian governor’s race led many political observers to predict Nixon’s career was over. Within six years, he was President after winning a hard-fought campaign in 1968. Read the rest of this entry »
Donald Trump has made no secret of the fact that he intends to rip up Barack Obama’s legacy when he takes office – ending the Trans-Pacific Partnership, redrawing Obamacare and loading up Guantanamo with “some bad dudes”.
However, one expected action is likely to be less controversial, certainly in Britain: that of restoring the bust of Winston Churchill to the Oval Office.
Mr Trump, who has frequently professed his admiration for Britain’s wartime leader, was asked earlier this week whether he was considering returning the bust, sculpted by Jacob Epstein, to the White House.
“I am, indeed, I am,” he said, during an interview at the New York Times, at which he was sitting in front of a picture of Churchill.
Mr Obama replaced the Churchill bust with one of Martin Luther King in the Oval Office in 2009, soon after he took over the presidency, causing outrage on both sides of the Atlantic.
Boris Johnson controversially wrote earlier this year, while he was Mayor of London, that Mr Obama’s decision to send the bust back to the British embassy in Washington had been a “snub to Britain”.
Mr Johnson, who is now Foreign Secretary, suggested it might have been linked to Mr Obama’s “ancestral dislike of the British Empire”.
However, Mr Obama later explained that he had a second sculpture of Churchill, who had an American mother and was the only person ever granted an honourary US passport, in his private quarters.
In the current D.C. climate on Russia, all relevant journalistic incentives encourage and reward false news.
Fake News: This narrative was false and as the chronology below will show, illustrates how effectively false and misleading news can ricochet through the global news echo chamber through the pages of top tier newspapers that fail to properly verify their facts.
Kalev Leetaru writes: On Friday the Washington Post sparked a wave of fear when it ran the breathless headline “Russian hackers penetrated U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont, U.S. officials say.” The lead sentence offered “A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials” and continued “While the Russians did not actively use the code to disrupt operations of the utility, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss a security matter, the penetration of the nation’s electrical grid is significant because it represents a potentially serious vulnerability.”
“From Russian hackers burrowed deep within the US electrical grid, ready to plunge the nation into darkness at the flip of a switch, an hour and a half later the story suddenly became that a single non-grid laptop had a piece of malware on it and that the laptop was not connected to the utility grid in any way.”
Yet, it turns out this narrative was false and as the chronology below will show, illustrates how effectively false and misleading news can ricochet through the global news echo chamber through the pages of top tier newspapers that fail to properly verify their facts.
“Only after numerous outlets called out the Post’s changes did the newspaper finally append an editorial note at the very bottom of the article more than half a day later saying ‘An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electric grid. Authorities say there is no indication of that so far. The computer at Burlington Electric that was hacked was not attached to the grid.’”
The original article was posted online on the Washington Post’s website at 7:55PM EST. Using the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, we can see that sometime between 9:24PM and 10:06PM the Post updated the article to indicate that multiple computer systems at the utility had been breached (“computers” plural), but that further data was still being collected: “Officials said that it is unclear when the code entered the Vermont utility’s computers, and that an investigation will attempt to determine the timing and nature of the intrusion.” Several paragraphs of additional material were added between 8PM and 10PM, claiming and contextualizing the breach as part of a broader campaign of Russian hacking against the US, including the DNC and Podesta email breaches.
“Just as with the Santa Claus and the dying child story, the Post story went viral and was widely reshared, leading to embarrassing situations like CNBC tweeting out the story and then having to go back and retract the story.”
Despite the article ballooning from 8 to 18 paragraphs, the publication date of the article remained unchanged and no editorial note was appended, meaning that a reader being forwarded a link to the article would have no way of knowing the article they were seeing was in any way changed from the original version published 2 hours prior.
Yet, as the Post’s story ricocheted through the politically charged environment, other media outlets and technology experts began questioning the Post’s claims and the utility company itself finally issued a formal statement at 9:37PM EST, just an hour and a half after the Post’s publication, pushing back on the Post’s claims: “We detected the malware in a single Burlington Electric Department laptop not connected to our organization’s grid systems. We took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alerted federal officials of this finding.”
“Particularly fascinating that the original Post story mentioned that there were only two major power utilities in Vermont and that Burlington Electric was one of them, meaning it would have been easy to call both companies for comment.”
From Russian hackers burrowed deep within the US electrical grid, ready to plunge the nation into darkness at the flip of a switch, an hour and a half later the story suddenly became that a single non-grid laptop had a piece of malware on it and that the laptop was not connected to the utility grid in any way.
However, it was not until almost a full hour after the utility’s official press release (at around 10:30PM EST) that the Post finally updated its article, changing the headline to the more muted “Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility, showing risk to U.S. electrical grid security, officials say” and changed the body of the article to note “Burlington Electric said in a statement that the company detected a malware code used in the Grizzly Steppe operation in a laptop that was not connected to the organization’s grid systems. The firm said it took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alert federal authorities.” Yet, other parts of the article, including a later sentence claiming that multiple computers at the utility had been breached, remained intact.
“One driving force of fake news is that as much of 60% of the links shared on social media are shared based on the title alone, with the sharer not actually reading the article itself. Thus, the title assigned to an article becomes the story itself and the Post’s incorrect title meant that the story that spread virally through the national echo chamber was that the Russians had hacked into the US power grid.”
The following morning, nearly 11 hours after changing the headline and rewriting the article to indicate that the grid itself was never breached and the “hack” was only an isolated laptop with malware, the Post still had not appended any kind of editorial note to indicate that it had significantly changed the focus of the article.
This is significant, as one driving force of fake news is that as much of 60% of the links shared on social media are shared based on the title alone, with the sharer not actually reading the article itself. Thus, the title assigned to an article becomes the story itself and the Post’s incorrect title meant that the story that spread virally through the national echo chamber was that the Russians had hacked into the US power grid.
Only after numerous outlets called out the Post’s changes did the newspaper finally append an editorial note at the very bottom of the article more than half a day later saying “An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electric grid. Authorities say there is no indication of that so far. The computer at Burlington Electric that was hacked was not attached to the grid.”
Yet, even this correction is not a true reflection of public facts as known. The utility indicated only that a laptop was found to contain malware that has previously been associated with Russian hackers. Read the rest of this entry »
The declared aim of this ambitious plan for a social-credit system is to build a ‘culture of sincerity.’ At this stage in China’s history, it is questionable whether the party-state can build any kind of culture.
Stanley Lubman writes: The Chinese government is taking the first steps in an evolving plan to employ big data to establish a nationwide system of mass surveillance of the entire population. This “social-credit system” would mobilize technology to collect information on all citizens and use that information to rate their behavior, including financial creditworthiness and personal conduct. The local experiments have provoked mixed reactions.
“The Communist Party, since it gained power in 1949, has endeavored to monitor and control the behavior and thoughts of the population. In the era of Mao Zedong it established ‘residents’ committees’ in the cities and ‘village committees’ in the countryside to monitor citizens’ behavior and report to local police. These continue to operate today, if in slightly different forms.”
The declared aim of this ambitious plan for a social-credit system is to build a “culture of sincerity.” At this stage in China’s history, it is questionable whether the party-state can build any kind of culture. The center cannot effectively control local governments, a large share of economic profits is going to the wealthy, corruption remains widespread and neither the economy nor the populace will tolerate the absence of rule of law indefinitely.
The Communist Party, since it gained power in 1949, has endeavored to monitor and control the behavior and thoughts of the population. In the era of Mao Zedong it established “residents’ committees” in the cities and “village committees” in the countryside to monitor citizens’ behavior and report to local police. These continue to operate today, if in slightly different forms.
The current effort to expand control of personal conduct is the latest in a series of moves to control behavior that now include campaigns against corrupt officials, rights lawyers and others whose conduct and actions are considered “subversive” both in person and otherwise—such as in social media.
The new social-credit system may include “black marks for infractions such as fare cheating, jaywalking and violating family-planning rules,” according to an article in The Wall Street Journal. The article quotes planning documents stating that the system would “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.” It is no wonder that one Chinese human rights-activist is quoted as saying “Tracking everyone that way, it is just like ‘1984’.” (The famous novel published in 1949 by George Orwell imagines a mythical regime that spies on all of its citizens using omnipresent surveillance.)
Current tentative steps to test the new system have raised questions about its implementation and reach. Obvious issues include defining the criteria that would be applied to rate citizens, the government and social institutions that would perform the ratings, and the impact of those ratings on citizens’ business and professional activities and on their lives in general. A key component of the new system will be taking traditional credit-scoring and adding other data points. Sesame Credit, an affiliate of e-commerce titan Alibaba, currently surveys online shopping habits and, if users consent, posts their education levels and legal records. Businesses and some individuals such as lawyers, accountants, teachers and journalists would receive closer scrutiny of their professional behavior. Read the rest of this entry »
His decision may have cost Clinton the presidency.
On Friday, the Obama administration turned a bright spotlight onto the Russian government’s attempts to influence America’s presidential election. The White House announced that the president had ordered the intelligence community to perform a “full review” of election-related hacking, kicking off a sweeping investigation that officials say should be complete before President Obama’s second term ends in less than six weeks.
“For one, the White House was probably afraid of looking like it was tipping the scale in Hillary Clinton’s favor, especially in an election that her opponent repeatedly described as rigged.”
That evening, administration officials leaked the results of a secret CIA investigation into Russia’s motives for launching election-related cyberattacks to The Washington Post. The CIA had concluded that Russia “intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency.”
Members of Congress who called on the White House to release more information about Russian involvement in the 2016 election—and who repeatedly hinted that the administration hadn’t publicized everything it knows on the issue—were vindicated by the revelations. But the news came too late to make a difference in the election.
“It’s also possible that the administration, like most pollsters and pundits, was overconfident in its assessment that Clinton would win the election.”
The CIA only shared its latest findings with top senators last week, the Post reported, but it’s not clear when the agency made the determination. In an interview with MSNBC on Saturday, however, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid—who is known for making bold accusations—said FBI Director Jim Comey has known about Russia’s ambitions “for a long time,” but didn’t release that information.
If that’s true, why didn’t the Obama administration push to release it earlier?
For one, the White House was probably afraid of looking like it was tipping the scale in Hillary Clinton’s favor, especially in an election that her opponent repeatedly described as rigged. Though Obama stumped for Clinton around the country, the administration didn’t want to open him up to attacks that he unfairly used intelligence to undermine Trump’s campaign, the Post reported.
Instead, top White House officials gathered key lawmakers—leadership from the House and Senate, plus the top Democrats and Republicans from both houses’ intelligence and homeland security committees—to ask for a bipartisan condemnation of Russia’s meddling.
The effort was stymied by several Republicans who weren’t willing to cooperate, including, reportedly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (On Sunday morning, a bipartisan statement condemning the hacks came from incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Jack Reed, a Democrat, and Republicans John McCain and Lindsey Graham.)
It’s also possible that the administration, like most pollsters and pundits, was overconfident in its assessment that Clinton would win the election. Officials may have been more willing to lob incendiary accusations—and risk setting off a serious political or cyber conflict with Russia—if they had thought Trump had a good chance to win.
The silence from the White House and the CIA was a stark contrast to the Comey’s announcement just weeks before the election that it was examining new documents related to its investigation into Clinton’s emails. Read the rest of this entry »
CIA says Moscow’s efforts specifically intended to hurt Clinton’s election prospects.
Donald Trump has rejected the assessment of the US intelligence community that alleged hacking by Russia in the months before the election was aimed at helping the property mogul beat his rival Hillary Clinton.
“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” the Trump transition team said after the Washington Post reported that the CIA had concluded that Russia tried to sway the race in his favour.
Ahead of the election, the White House accused Russia of interfering with the democratic process. But the Washington Post on Friday said the CIA had concluded that the efforts were specifically intended to hurt Mrs Clinton. The paper said Russia had hacked both the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee but only given information taken from the Democrats to WikiLeaks, which then released it before the election. The RNC had previously denied suggestions that it was hacked.
“It’s pretty clear to me that WikiLeaks was designed to hurt Clinton and it could be us tomorrow.”
Charles Schumer, the New York senator who will become the top Democrat in the Senate in January, on Saturday called for a congressional investigation into the alleged Russian hacking. “That any country could be meddling in our elections should shake both political parties to their core. Senate Democrats will join with our Republican colleagues next year to demand a congressional investigation and hearings to get to the bottom of this,” said Mr Schumer. “It’s imperative that our intelligence community turns over any relevant information so that Congress can conduct a full investigation.”
Democrats, including those who are disappointed that Mrs Clinton lost the election despite winning the popular vote, are frustrated at the lack of scrutiny of events that they believe may have influenced the outcome of what was one of the most bitter elections in modern American history. Read the rest of this entry »
Tucker Carlson takes on Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin over her claims that many of Trump’s voters are angry, racist white people. (December 9th, 2016)
One of the original “Magnificent Seven” astronauts in NASA’s Mercury program, John Glenn captured the nation’s attention in 1962 when he first circumnavigated the globe and returned as a hero who had scaled heights no American had reached before. In his post-NASA career, Glenn served four terms as a U.S. senator from Ohio. Following his […]
Source: The Washington Post
The Defense Department has more than 1 million contractors, civilians, and uniformed personnel on its payroll.
Anna Giaritelli reports: A Pentagon-commissioned study in 2015 found the Defense headquarters wasted $125 billion. But upon learning of the study’s results, military leaders ordered the findings never be released to the press or public, according to a report published Monday evening.
In January 2015, the Pentagon learned it could cut $125 billion in administrative costs at the Arlington, Va., facility over the next five years. But Defense leaders chose to keep the report secret in fear lawmakers would cut funding, the Washington Post found.
The Defense Business Board study stated all of these cutbacks could take place without any military employees being terminated. The federal advisory board of corporate executives and consultants recommended that some employees be encouraged into early retirements and their positions be eliminated through attrition, while overcompensated contractors would be cut back. Read the rest of this entry »
‘While this book is about Appalachia, it’s a story of class warfare’
Brad King writes: I’m writing a book about Appalachia. More specially, I’m writing a memoir of my family, which helped settled what is now the poorest county in the country: Clay County, which The New York Times dubbed “The Hardest Place to Live in America.” The book, called So Far Appalachia, is almost done. You can sign up for the newsletter if you’re interested in more discussions about what I guess we’re now calling the “poor, white, rural voters.”
That’s the context for why we’re here.
I’m writing this post because since the Presidential election, in which our country choose Donald J. Trump as our next leader, so many of my liberal friends have been struggling to understand why — WHY? — so many working class white folks voted against Sec. Hillary Clinton.
More specifically, on Friday, December 2 I posted this NPR piece “In Depressed Rural Kentucky, Worries Mount Over Medicaid Cutbacks” on my Facebook page. Predictably, the new code phrases that signal disdain for Appalachians appeared. You know them: “low information voters” and “voting against their self interest.”
Instead of fighting on the Internet— which nobody enjoys— I promised that I’d dig into the book’s draft, pull out a few bits and pieces that explain why those white, rural, poor folks didn’t vote against their self interest, and wrap it up with this little introduction.
There are two things to note:
- I’ve left all the social science out of this post. This is the exposition from the book that explains all the social science. I’ll follow up with another one giving my science-minded friends — the evidence-based crowd — the opportunity to stop spinning conspiracy stories, and instead read up on all the social science that’s been done on the region; and
- I’ve written an entire book on the subject. This problem is complex and complicated. This post is really a distillation of some of the larger themes in the book. But really there’s so much more.
Before We Move Forward: A Note
I need to frame this discussion — and the book. What I’m doing is very simple: explaining, not excusing. Great writing and storytelling help us see and understand worlds that are different than ours.
Great stories do not whitewash away the rough edges. I can’t write a book about Appalachian culture without dealing with this important idea.
I love Appalachia, but we’ve got to recognize that racism and misogyny are deeply — deeply — embedded within the culture. Blacks and African-Americans have been nearly wiped away from the history of the region, and so too were women from all backgrounds. This isn’t a book meant to prop up the noble Appalachian working class. Nobility isn’t bestowed on any class. Not Appalachians. Not the working class. Not anyone. Nobility, where it exists, does so within individuals, in tiny moments in their lives. My family — and Appalachians — aren’t noble. My family owned slaves. There is no way around that. We did, and that’s a shame that we must bear and own.
But there’s two points that we need to clear up right now. The first is that neither of those issues is inherent only to Appalachia. The second is addressing issues of race and gender are deeply important to the future of our country. But neither will be part of this book.
While this book is about Appalachia, it’s a story of class warfare.
A Hypothetical Conundrum to Begin
Let’s begin with a hypothetical. Read the rest of this entry »
It would be too horrible. So, therefore, according to some kind of magical thinking, it couldn’t happen.
Margaret Sullivan writes: To put it bluntly, the media missed the story. In the end, a huge number of American voters wanted something different. And although these voters shouted and screamed it, most journalists just weren’t listening. They didn’t get it.
They didn’t get that the huge, enthusiastic crowds at Donald Trump’s rallies would really translate into that many votes. They couldn’t believe that the America they knew could embrace someone who mocked a disabled man, bragged about sexually assaulting women, and spouted misogyny, racism and anti-Semitism.
It would be too horrible. So, therefore, according to some kind of magical thinking, it couldn’t happen.
“The Election of Donald Trump to the presidency is nothing short of a tragedy for David Remnick,” America writes. https://t.co/7z8lUpCulo
— Mike (@Doranimated) November 9, 2016
Journalists — college-educated, urban and, for the most part, liberal — are more likely than ever before to live and work in New York City and Washington, D.C., or on the West Coast. And although we touched down in the big red states for a few days, or interviewed some coal miners or unemployed autoworkers in the Rust Belt, we didn’t take them seriously. Or not seriously enough.
And Trump — who called journalists scum and corrupt — alienated us so much that we couldn’t see what was before our eyes. We just kept checking our favorite prognosticating sites and feeling reassured, even though everyone knows that poll results are not votes.
After all, you never know who’ll show up to vote, especially when votes are being suppressed as never before. And even the most Clinton-leaning prognosticators allowed for some chance of a Trump win.
But no one seemed to believe it in their bones. We would have President Clinton, went the journalistic conventional wisdom, and although she would be flawed, she would be a known quantity. There was a kind of comfort there.
Make no mistake. This is an epic fail. And although eating crow is never appealing, we’ll be digesting feathers and beaks in the next weeks and months — and maybe years.
The strange thing, of course, is that the media helped to give Trump his chance. Read the rest of this entry »
Jury finds Reporter, Rolling Stone Responsible for Defaming University of Virginia Dean with Fictionalized ‘Gang Rape’ storyPosted: November 4, 2016
Deliberations about ‘A Rape on Campus’ spanned three days.
T. Rees Shapiro reports: A federal court jury decided Friday that a Rolling Stone journalist defamed a former University of Virginia associate dean in a 2014 magazine article about sexual assault on campus that included a debunked account of a fraternity gang rape.
The 10-member jury concluded that the Rolling Stone reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, was responsible for defamation, with actual malice, in the case brought by Nicole Eramo, a U-Va. administrator who oversaw sexual violence cases at the time of the article’s publication. The jury also found the magazine and its parent company, Wenner Media, responsible for defaming Eramo, who has said her life’s work helping sexual assault victims was devastated as a result of Rolling Stone’s article and its aftermath.
The lawsuit centered on Erdely’s 9,000-word article titled “A Rape on Campus,” which appeared online in late November 2014 and on newsstands in the magazine’s December 2014 issue. Opening with a graphic depiction of a fraternity gang rape, the story caused an immediate sensation at a time of heightened awareness of campus sexual assault, going viral online and ripping through the U-Va. community.
But within days of the article’s publication, key elements of the account fell apart under scrutiny, including the narrative’s shocking allegation of a fraternity gang rape. The magazine eventually retracted the story in April 2015, and Eramo’s lawsuit came a month later, alleging that the magazine’s portrayal of her as callous and dismissive of rape reports on campus was untrue and unfair.
The jurors reached a verdict Friday after deliberating across three days. Eramo has asked for $7.5 million in damages but now, following the verdict, can argue for a different amount. The argument for damages is scheduled to begin Monday.
Regardless of potential damages, the verdict showed the jury’s willingness to slam a major media outlet for the impact of getting a story wrong. Originally hailed as a brave triumph of reporting for its raw accounts of rape and attempts at bringing accountability to a storied public university, the article led to protests of the U-Va. administration, vandalism of a campus fraternity and outrage among activists trying to prevent sexual assault. Once its flaws were exposed, the article’s deeper message of the effects of campus rape — a pervasive national problem — was lost amid the allegations of shoddy reporting. Read the rest of this entry »
Colleagues yawn while star reporters like Thrush and Leibovich cooperate with Clinton campaign.
These days, that wise advice applies to private communications by everybody in the entire country except elite journalists and news executives.
Elsewhere in America, when emails that the author assumed would never see the light of day became public he suffers some form of consequences—you know, stuff like plummeting poll numbers, possible jail time or forced resignation. This goes for everybody from Hillary Clinton and the former head of Sony Pictures on down.
But if you’re a Politico or New York Times scribe or CNBC anchor John Harwood and hacked emails emerge that reveal you outright colluding with Hillary Clinton campaign—by giving advice or providing the communications director “veto” power over what to include from your interview with the candidate or allowing campaign chair John Podesta veto power over your stories—that is another matter.
Your media friends will not censure you or even scold you—in fact, they don’t bother to contact you directly. Instead, you can hide between a crafty spokesman who won’t even answer specific questions but acts like he’s the publicist for some elusive Hollywood star and that a journalist determined to ask standard pointed questions is actually pining to profile him for Vanity Fair.
That was essentially the response from Politico spokesman Brad Dayspring when this columnist asked to interview reporter Glenn Thrush about his newly revealed emails. Dream on, he replied, emailing me: “I want to play third base for the Yankees.”
Hacked emails reveal that Thrush has apologized to campaign chairman John Podesta for writing a “shitty” story that embarrassed the operation. In another email, Thrush called himself a “hack” and promised to let Podesta approve parts of his story on the campaign’s fundraising efforts.
“No worries Because I have become a hack I will send u the whole section that pertains to u,” he wrote. “Please don’t share or tell anyone I did this Tell me if I fucked up anything.”
In multiple email exchanges, Politico spokesman Brad Dayspring, who would not even give out his own phone, did not answer a single factual question about Thrush. But did call him one of the “top political reporters in the country.”
Really? Top reporters theoretically treat both sides equally. Has he ever given Republicans advance copies of stories? If so, who?
When Daily Caller reporter Alex Pfeiffer made similar inquiries to Dayspring about Thrush he was also stonewalled. The flack proceeded to question Pfeiffer’s objectivity because he had called Thrush a “fucking joke” on Twitter. But again ignored specific questions. Read the rest of this entry »
Source: New York Times
…Because Public Still Supports Donald Trump
The press obviously is failing, they argue, because it isn’t convincing the American public that Mr. Trump is, indeed, Lucifer.
Apparently to liberals — who are fretting Hillary Clinton could lose this presidential contest to Donald Trump — the answer is yes.
How could a man who tells lies, and promotes conspiracy theories, even still be competitive, they ask. Isn’t it obvious he’s a know-nothing buffoon?
Apparently not. So they’ve turned against the one institution that’s always been on their side: The media. The press obviously is failing, they argue, because it isn’t convincing the American public that Mr. Trump is, indeed, Lucifer.
Pulitzer-winning New York Times columnist Nick Kristof wrote the media shouldn’t be treating Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump the same — that there’s a so-called “false-equivalence.”
One you see, is a reasonable, but flawed politician. The other is a monster who will take down the Republic.
“Clearly, Clinton shades the truth — yet there’s no comparison with Trump,” he writes, arguing, the press should be clearer in its reporting that Mr. Trump, is indeed, a “clown” and a “crackpot.”
Richard Cohen, perhaps heeding Mr. Kristof’s advice, wrote a column this week in The Washington Post that compared Mr. Trump to Adolf Hitler. (A simple Lexis-Nexis search found 406 articles have appeared in the Post with the search terms “Trump” and “Hitler” since June 2015.)
For good measure, the paper, two days later, ran an editorial about Mr. Trump’s campaign dubbed: “This is how fascism comes to Amrica.”Still, liberal writer Paul Krugman, in The New York Times, thinks the media is objectively pro-Trump.
Read the rest of this entry »
Hillary Clinton cannot seem to seal the deal with voters, and the left is lashing out at the media in frustration.
Noah Rothmans writes: For months, frustrated liberals have bemoaned the fact that Donald Trump receives any fair coverage at all. His xenophobic policies and racially toxic rhetoric, they contend, render him beyond the pale. To “normalize” him as though he were just another politician is irresponsible, and the press should not be giving him equal footing with a more responsible candidate like Clinton.
This view has recently received traction among liberal commentators and mainstream Democrats as it becomes ever clearer that Hillary Clinton’s post-convention halo is gone. Worse, Donald Trump continues to be mired in scandal, alleged misconduct, and potential fraud, and yet none of it seems to be affectinghis polling.
“He is playing you guys like a Stradivarius. Dominating news instead of Newsweek story, Trump Foundation. Pathetic.”
— the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza
Instead, superficial matters like the health of both candidates—propelled along by absurd displays like Trump’s apperance with celebrity physician Dr. Oz—are sucking up all the oxygen. These have been the prevailing conditions since Donald Trump entered the political fray, but only when Clinton became vulnerable did they become intolerable.
“He is playing you guys like a Stradivarius. Dominating news instead of Newsweek story, Trump Foundation,” perennial Republican critic Norman Ornstein barked at the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza. “Pathetic.”
“[Y]ou can ask any question about Trump, Trumpism or anti-Trumpism except the existential ones,” wrote newly minted GQ pundit Keith Olbermann, “because the existential ones could lead him to stop calling in to your morning show and providing you with your highest-rated hour for free.”
Even President Barack Obama has become a media critic. “We cannot afford suddenly to treat this like a reality show,” Obama said, lambasting the press for covering the 2016 campaign as though both candidates were acceptable alternatives. “We can’t afford to act as if there’s some equivalence here.” Read the rest of this entry »
Strings of code were released to the Internet by a group calling themselves ‘the Shadow Brokers’. They claim the code is a tool that can be used to hack into any computer.
The cache mysteriously surfaced over the weekend and appears to be legitimate.
Ellen Nakashima reports: Some of the most powerful espionage tools created by the National Security Agency’s elite group of hackers have been revealed in recent days, a development that could pose severe consequences for the spy agency’s operations and the security of government and corporate computers.
“Faking this information would be monumentally difficult, there is just such a sheer volume of meaningful stuff. Much of this code should never leave the NSA.”
— Nicholas Weaver, a computer security researcher at the University of California at Berkeley
A cache of hacking tools with code names such as Epicbanana, Buzzdirection and Egregiousblunder appeared mysteriously online over the weekend, setting the security world abuzz with speculation over whether the material was legitimate.
The file appeared to be real, according to former NSA personnel who worked in the agency’s hacking division, known as Tailored Access Operations (TAO).
“Without a doubt, they’re the keys to the kingdom,” said one former TAO employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal operations. “The stuff you’re talking about would undermine the security of a lot of major government and corporate networks both here and abroad.”
Said a second former TAO hacker who saw the file: “From what I saw, there was no doubt in my mind that it was legitimate.”
“Without a doubt, they’re the keys to the kingdom. The stuff you’re talking about would undermine the security of a lot of major government and corporate networks both here and abroad.”
Strings of code were released to the Internet by a group calling themselves “the Shadow Brokers”. They claim the code is a tool that can be used to hack into any computer.
The file contained 300 megabytes of information, including several “exploits,” or tools for taking control of firewalls in order to control a network, and a number of implants that might, for instance, exfiltrate or modify information.
The exploits are not run-of-the-mill tools to target everyday individuals. They are expensive software used to take over firewalls, such as Cisco and Fortinet, that are used “in the largest and most critical commercial, educational and government agencies around the world,” said Blake Darche, another former TAO operator and now head of security research at Area 1 Security.
The software apparently dates back to 2013 and appears to have been taken then, experts said, citing file creation dates, among other things.
“The tools were posted by a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers using file-sharing sites such as BitTorrent and DropBox.”
“What’s clear is that these are highly sophisticated and authentic hacking tools,” said Oren Falkowitz, chief executive of Area 1 Security and another former TAO employee.
Several of the exploits were pieces of computer code that took advantage of “zero-day” or previously unknown flaws or vulnerabilities in firewalls, which appear to be unfixed to this day, said one of the former hackers.
The disclosure of the file means that at least one other party — possibly another country’s spy agency — has had access to the same hacking tools used by the NSA and could deploy them against organizations that are using vulnerable routers and firewalls. It might also see what the NSA is targeting and spying on. And now that the tools are public, as long as the flaws remain unpatched, other hackers can take advantage of them, too.
“The disclosure of the file means that at least one other party — possibly another country’s spy agency — has had access to the same hacking tools used by the NSA and could deploy them against organizations that are using vulnerable routers and firewalls. It might also see what the NSA is targeting and spying on. And now that the tools are public, as long as the flaws remain unpatched, other hackers can take advantage of them, too.”
The NSA did not respond to requests for comment.
“Faking this information would be monumentally difficult, there is just such a sheer volume of meaningful stuff,” Nicholas Weaver, a computer security researcher at the University of California at Berkeley, said in an interview. “Much of this code should never leave the NSA.”
The tools were posted by a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers using file-sharing sites such as BitTorrent and DropBox. Read the rest of this entry »
MUNICH — A gunman carried out a shooting rampage Friday in a busy shopping area of Munich, killing at least nine people and wounding several others in an act of “suspected terrorism” before he committed suicide, police said early Saturday.
The rampage prompted authorities to lock down the southern German city and launch a massive manhunt for suspected perpetrators. Police later determined that the attack at Munich’s Olympia shopping complex was apparently carried out by a lone gunman and that he committed suicide about half a mile away.
There were no immediate details about the victims of what a police spokesman said “looks like a terrorist attack.” The Associated Press quoted Munich police spokesman Peter Beck as saying 10 people were killed in total, including the shooter.
In the absence of information about the identities of the dead and injured, about 50 family members of various ethnic backgrounds gathered at a Munich sports hall early Saturday to await official word on the fate of missing loved ones.
Much of the city was placed on lockdown as police conducted their manhunt. Despite initial reports of multiple attack sites, police could not confirm attacks in any other locations besides the shopping area.
Officials did not immediately specify how the attack unfolded or describe the full scope of the bloodshed at the Olympia mall.
But a senior security official told The Washington Post that four people were killed inside a McDonald’s restaurant and one was fatally shot outside. The official said another victim died at a hospital.
The initial investigation was pointing “in all directions,” police spokesman Marcus de Gloria Martins told reporters in Munich.
German officials said investigators were looking into the possibility that the attack might have been motivated by anti-immigrant sentiments, as well as the prospect that Islamist extremism was behind it. Language against foreigners can be heard on a recording from the scene of the shooting, but it was not immediately clear who was speaking. A German television station said a witness told a colleague that the shooter shouted “Bloody foreigners!” at the scene of the McDonald’s attack. There was no immediate confirmation of that account.
German news media reported that police found a body, possibly that of the McDonald’s shooter, about a half mile from the scene and were checking a backpack for explosives.
Hours after the attack, Martins said police were still assuming that “up to three perpetrators” were involved. “We’re definitely not assuming that it’s more than three, but it might also be that it’s fewer than that,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »
President Obama will offer his formal endorsement of Hillary Clinton with a video to be released later on Thursday and plans to campaign with the former secretary of state in Wisconsin next week, according to two sources familiar with the plans.
The swift endorsement comes after the president met with Sen. Bernie Sanders at the White House earlier Thursday as the Vermont senator indicated he is preparing to exit the Democratic nominating battle.
Sanders is under pressure to stand down and help unify the party after a long and contentious battle with Clinton for the nomination. Obama’s endorsement will add to that pressure, although most party leaders, including the president, have urged that he be allowed to decide his future plans on his own timetable.An afternoon meeting with Vice President Biden was also added to Sanders’s schedule for Thursday. The two are set to meet at the vice president’s residence at the Naval Observatory, said Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs. Read the rest of this entry »