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Obama Admin Did Not Publicly Disclose Iran Cyber-Attack During ‘Side-Deal’ Nuclear Negotiations 

Timing of hack occurred within days of the nuclear deal overcoming opposition in Congress.

writes: State Department officials determined that Iran hacked their emails and social media accounts during a particularly sensitive week for the nuclear deal in the fall of 2015, according to multiple sources familiar with the details of the cyber attack.

The attack took place within days of the deal overcoming opposition in Congress in late September that year. That same week, Iranian officials and negotiators for the United States and other world powers were beginning the process of hashing out a series of agreements allowing Tehran to meet previously determined implementation deadlines.

Critics regard these agreements as “secret side deals” and “loopholes” initially disclosed only to Congress.

Sources familiar with the details of the attack said it sent shockwaves through the State Department and the private-contractor community working on Iran-related issues.

[Read the full text here, at Washington Free Beacon]

It is unclear whether top officials at the State Department negotiating the Iran deal knew about the hack or if their personal or professional email accounts were compromised. Sources familiar with the attack believed top officials at State were deeply concerned about the hack and that those senior leaders did not have any of their email or social media accounts compromised in this particular incident.

Wendy Sherman, who served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs for several years during the Obama administration and was the lead U.S. negotiator of the nuclear deal with Iran, could not be reached for comment.

A spokeswoman for Albright Stonebridge LLC, where Sherman now serves as a senior counselor, said Tuesday that Sherman is “unavailable at this time and cannot be reached for comment.”

Asked about the September 2015 cyber-attack, a State Department spokesman said, “For security reasons we cannot confirm whether any hacking incident took place.”

At least four State Department officials in the Bureau of Near East Affairs and a senior State Department adviser on digital media and cyber-security were involved in trying to contain the hack, according to an email dated September 24, 2015, and multiple interviews with sources familiar with the attack.

[Read the full story here, at Washington Free Beacon]

The Obama administration kept quiet about the cyber-attack and never publicly acknowledged concerns the attack created at State, related agencies, and within the private contractor community that supports their work.

Critics of the nuclear deal said the Obama administration did not publicly disclose the cyber-attack’s impact out of fear it could undermine support right after the pact had overcome political opposition and cleared a critical Congressional hurdle.

The hacking of email addresses belonging to the State Department officials and outside contractors began three days after the congressional review period for the deal ended Sept. 17, according to sources familiar with the details of the attack and the internal State Department email.

In the week leading up to that deadline, Senate Democrats blocked several attempts to pass a GOP-led resolution to disapprove of the nuclear deal. The resolution of disapproval needed 60 votes to pass but the most it garnered was 58.

[Read more here, at Washington Free Beacon]

President Trump, during his trip to the Middle East in late May, talked tough against Iran and its illicit ballistic missile program but has so far left the nuclear deal in place. A Trump State Department review of the deal is nearing completion, the Free Beaconrecently reported, and some senior Trump administration officials are pushing for the public release of the so-called “secret side deals.”

State Department alerts outside contractors of cyber-attack

State Department officials in the Office of Iranian Affairs on Sept. 24, 2015 sent an email to dozens of outside contractors. The email alerted the contractors that a cyber-attack had occurred and urged them not to open any email from a group of five State Department officials that did not come directly from their official state.gov accounts. Read the rest of this entry »

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Feds Continue Funding Sanctuaries to the Tune of Tens of Millions of Dollars 

Don Rosenberg is the father of a young man who was killed by an illegal alien initially held on criminal charges by police, who chose to release the alien to the streets rather than into the hands of immigration agents who wanted to initiate proceedings to deport him. It was this failure that led to the son’s death. It happened in San Francisco, that model of progressive thinking, which has more than once done this with similarly disastrous results to its innocent citizenry.

Rosenberg is among a distressingly large and diverse group of families who have faced similar tragedies. He is now the face of a public service announcement slamming sanctuary jurisdictions, and asking President Trump to make good on his campaign promise to halt federal funding for these jurisdictions.

Shortly after inauguration, the president did issue an executive order to that effect, but as he is coming to learn, executive orders are a lot easier to issue than to see put into action — in part because we live in an aggressively litigious society where progressivists and open-borders advocates have merged to speak with nearly one and the same voice; and in part because bureaucracies are somewhat like gigantic aircraft carriers: mighty and powerful, but disturbingly slow to turn about.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had a great deal of experience with immigration matters in his prior job as a senator from Alabama, has worked diligently to overcome the litigation and press forward with his agenda to make good on the president’s mandate to defund sanctuaries, where grant funding is made available via programs administered by the Department of Justice.

I wish I could say the same for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). On June 2, DHS published a press release saying this:

Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly today announced the release of Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Notices of Funding Opportunity for 10 DHS preparedness grant programs totaling more than $1.6 billion. The grant programs provide funding to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, as well as transportation authorities, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector, to improve the nation’s readiness in preventing, protecting against, responding to, recovering from and mitigating terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies. The grants reflect the Department’s focus on funding for programs that address our nation’s immediate security needs and ensure public safety in our communities. (Emphasis added.)

Unfortunately, those grants do nothing of the sort where public safety is concerned, because among the major recipients are a significant number of sanctuary jurisdictions that pride themselves on stiff-arming federal immigration enforcement efforts, and ignoring immigration detainers, including New York City, which to date has not honored one single detainer, even when serious criminals such as sex offenders are concerned. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Krauthammer: ‘There’s Going to Be a Sea Change in Opinion’ on Illegal-Immigrant Sanctuaries

Discussing the alleged rape of a 14-year-old student by two illegal immigrants, Charles Krauthammer argued that publicity around cases like this has the potential to change public opinion about how best to protect communities in the face of illegal immigration.


[VIDEO]  Krauthammer: Chinese & Korean Nuclear Missiles Affect Trump’s Moves in Asia

“The worrisome thing here is the outside partner. This is not just a three sided game, North Korea, South Korea, and the U.S. — it’s the Chinese reaction. The Chinese are watching the United States after eight years of withdrawal, accommodation, and essentially no response to Chinese expansion — they’re seeing the United States now asserting itself. The U.S.S. Carl Vinson an aircraft carrier is now in the South China Sea. Trump has just sent B-52’s into South Korea as a way to threaten the North Koreans, and everyone knows what they carry, they carry nuclear weapons. But the worst thing from the Chinese point of view is the THAAD: This is the antimissile system. The Chinese react to that the way the Russians did to the anti-missile system we wanted to put in Eastern Europe. They get very upset because it can be applied against them. Yes, our reason for doing it is to defend the South Koreans against the North. But the overall effect is to put up a missile shield that could degrade and weaken the Chinese arsenal. They know that. They are very worried about that. And they’re getting semi-hysterical. Global Times which is a government-friendly publication just this week said that the government of China will no longer rule out a first nuclear strike. That’s a big deal. That’s not an official statement, but it tells you how much the Chinese are upset, which is why we are now rushing to install the THAAD by the end of April before the election so at least it’s a fait accompli — but this is a tinderbox.”

Source: National Review


Trump Administration Warns Against Iran Travel

Iran seeking revenge for Trump’s halt on immigration

 reports: The Trump administration is emphasizing warnings against travel to Iran by U.S. citizens in light of the Islamic Republic‘s latest effort to implement a travel ban on Americans, which comes in response to the White House’s new immigration order temporarily halting all immigration from Iran and several other Muslim-majority nations designated as terrorism hotspots, according to U.S. officials.

Iranian officials announced this week that they are poised to implement their own travel ban on U.S. individuals and entities they described as aiding “terrorist groups or [helping] regional dictatorial rulers crack down on their nations,” according to comments carried in the country’s state-controlled media.

Iran said the effort is part of a package of reprisals against the United States for the Trump administration’s latest immigration order, which stops Iranian citizens and others from entering the United States for several months as American authorities seek to strengthen vetting procedures.

When questioned about Iran’s potential travel ban on Monday, a State Department official confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon that the Trump administration is aware of the effort and emphasized current warnings against travel to Iran by U.S. citizens. Read the rest of this entry »


The Teeth in Trump’s New Immigration Rules

Trump-Kong

It sounds bureaucratic, but the shift in “enforcement priorities” could change life drastically for undocumented immigrants.

Trump’s two executive orders, signed Wednesday, made headlines for other reasons—a wall along the southern border and the plan to cut off federal funds from sanctuary cities. But for the 11 million people living undocumented in the U.S., the sharp end of the stick is buried in a bureaucratic-sounding section titled “Enforcement Priorities.” The priorities give immigration agents a broad new rein to enforce immigration law, dictating who gets swept up into the system and how the department uses its limited resources.

[Read the more here, at politico.com]

The new enforcement priorities don’t just mark a sharp change from the more forgiving regime created under Barack Obama, starting in 2010; they represent a break from Trump’s previous commitment to only target undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions. Under the new orders undocumented immigrants are considered a priority if they have been convicted of any crime; have been charged with a crime, even if it has not been resolved; “have committed acts that constitute a chargeable offense”; have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation before a government agency; “have abused” public benefits; have received a final order to leave the country but haven’t done so; or are judged by an immigration officer “pose a risk to public safety and national security.”

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These could net hundreds of thousands of people without any convictions, experts said—specifically due to the prioritization of people who have received a final order to leave the country but have not done so.

“That’s going to sweep up a lot of families, a lot of folks who have children, a lot of folks who have been here a long time,” said John Sandweg, the former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency under Obama.

[Read the full story here, at politico.com]

Immigration hardliners welcomed the new orders as an overdue correction to the Obama-era enforcement priorities, which they said had narrowed to the point where too many undocumented immigrants could stay too easily. The new priorities, they say, simply enforce the existing law, a prerequisite to any type of broader immigration reform. Read the rest of this entry »


Intelligence Leaders Confirm Russian Influence Op to Undermine Election

 writes: Russian intelligence agencies sought to influence the 2016 presidential election through coordinated cyber and propaganda activities, three U.S. intelligence leaders told a Senate hearing Thursday.

“This was a multifaceted campaign, so the hacking was only one part of it. It also entailed classical propaganda, disinformation, fake news.”

—  James Clapper, to the Senate Armed Services Committee

Additionally, Senate testimony revealed that the National Security Agency, the government’s key cyber intelligence and technical spying service, confirmed the Russian intelligence service’s covert cyber and propaganda effort to influence the election campaign.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper previewed a forthcoming government report, to be released as early as Monday, on the Russian intelligence operations that included intrusions into Democratic National Committee computers and the email account of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign chairman, John Podesta.

The Russians then orchestrated the release of hacked internal information through three propaganda conduits in a coordinated campaign.

“Our assessment now is even more resolute than it was with that statement on the 7th of October. I don’t think we’ve ever encountered a more aggressive or direct effort to interfere in our election.”

“This was a multifaceted campaign, so the hacking was only one part of it,” Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “It also entailed classical propaganda, disinformation, fake news.”

The forthcoming report will describe the full range of Russian intelligence activities during the campaign, Clapper said.

Clapper confirmed the details of the Oct. 7 statement issued jointly by his office and the Department of Homeland Security accusing Russia of interfering with the 2016 election. That statement identified three entities, the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, another site called DCLeaks.com, and a hacker code-named Guccifer 2.0, as the outlets for the hacked information.

General Keith Alexander (L), director of the National Security Agency (NSA) testifies at a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington October 29, 2013. Top U.S. intelligence officials appeared at a congressional hearing on Tuesday amid a public uproar that has expanded from anger over the National Security Agency collecting the phone and email records of Americans to spying on European allies. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper watches on at right. REUTERS/Jason Reed

“There’s actually more than one motive, so that’ll be described in the report.”

“Our assessment now is even more resolute than it was with that statement on the 7th of October,” Clapper said. “I don’t think we’ve ever encountered a more aggressive or direct effort to interfere in our election.”

Asked if the earlier assessments about Moscow’s disinformation program had changed, Clapper stated: “No. In fact, if anything, what we’ve since learned just reinforces that statement the 7th of October.”

NSA Director Mike Rogers told the hearing that the report was “done essentially” by the CIA, FBI, and NSA.

The inclusion of NSA in the report is the first time NSA’s role in assessing the Russian cyber attacks was mentioned.

NSA’s capability to monitor foreign cyber intelligence operations is highly advanced. Documents disclosed by renegade NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the agency in the past has broken into foreign intelligence service networks and stolen information those services were gathering from spies—without being detected. Read the rest of this entry »


At Least 9 Dead, Dozens More Injured After Truck Plows into Berlin Christmas Market

A truck plowed into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin Monday night, killing at least nine people and injuring dozens of others in what witnesses described as a deliberate attack.

The large Scania truck with a Poland license plate crashed into the market outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. Television footage showed the truck with its windshield smashed out on the sidewalk alongside the market, with a swarm of ambulances nearby. A large Christmas tree with a gold star on top was toppled over nearby in the street, and tree branches were crushed under the truck’s tires.

Police said a suspect believed to be the driver was arrested nearby and a passenger was dead. Authorities estimated that 50 people were injured, but an exact number was not immediately available.

berlin

Police said they are still investigating whether the crash was an accident or an attack, but the incident had a chilling echo of the July 14 truck attack in Nice, France that killed 86 people.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the Nice attack, which was carried out by a Tunisian living in France. ISIS and Al Qaeda have both called on followers to use trucks in particular to attack public places.

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Die Welt newspaper reported that a Polish TV station had interviewed a man named Ariel Zurawski, who said that his cousin was assigned to drive the truck involved in the incident. Zurawski claimed he had last spoken to his cousin at noon Monday and said he suspected the truck had been hijacked. He added that the truck had been loaded with steel structures weighing 25 tons. Read the rest of this entry »


Department of Homeland Security Overwhelmed by Green Card Catastrophe 

featured-article-2

American Green Card - United States Permanent Residency Card Closeup.

USCIS, which handles immigration cases and the distribution of green cards, was found to have produced at least 19,000 green cards during the past three years that were duplicates or contained incorrect information, according to a new report by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama Administration Spends Another $10 Million to Register New Immigrant Voters 

airforceone-obama-india

Months after the Obama administration spent $19 million to register new immigrant voters that will likely support Democrats in November, it’s dedicating an additional $10 million in a final push as the presidential election approaches. The money is distributed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Homeland Security agency that oversees lawful immigration, to organizations that help enhance pathways to naturalization by offering immigrants free citizenship instruction, English, U.S. history and civics courses. Officially, they’re known as “citizenship integration grants.”

Senate Leadership Speaks To Press About Stimulus Package

Since 2009 USCIS has doled out $63 million in these grants to prepare more than 156,000 resident immigrants in dozens of states for U.S. citizenship, according to the agency’s figures. Besides the free classes, Uncle Sam also offers immigrants free “naturalization legal services,” the latest USCIS grant announcement states. “Recipient organizations serve both traditional immigrant destinations and new immigrant getaway cities in 21 states,” the USCIS document reads. The latest $10 million investment will prepare approximately 25,000 residents from more than 50 countries, according to the agency. More than a dozen states—including California, New York, Florida, Washington and Ohio—with large resident immigrant populations are being targeted as well as cities with huge immigrant populations such as Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington D.C.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been aggressive in promoting its citizen integration grant program this year, offering large sums to recruit new groups that can offer immigrants the services they need to become citizens. Clearly, the ultimate goal is qualifying as many immigrants as possible to vote since they tend to cast ballots for Democrats. “We intend to award about $1 million to first-time recipients in the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program for fiscal year 2016,” the agency’s grant announcement states. “If you represent one of these organizations, or know of an interested organization, we strongly encourage that organization to consider applying. Additionally, another $9 million will fund programs that provide both citizenship instruction and instruction and naturalization application services.” Some might consider this a cash giveaway. Read the rest of this entry »


Despite Gun Control Rhetoric, Obama Arms Federal Civilian Agencies More than Ever 

Obama Big brother

According to a recent report from openthebooks.com, non-military spending on guns, ammo and military-style equipment soared from $119.3 million in 2008, President George W. Bush’s last year in office, to a high of $224.7 million dollars in 2012, the year Obama won re-election.

Kellan Howell report: The U.S. Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service doesn’t seem like a Wild West sort of federal agency since its biologists mostly check on the human health impact of animal and plant species.

“Much of this spending on guns, ammunition and military-style equipment is redundant, inefficient and unnecessary.”

But it reported buying $4.7 million in high-powered weapons, ammunition and military gear during the last decade, including shotguns, night vision goggles, and propane cannons, according to federal purchasing records reviewed by the nonpartisan government spending watchdog openthebooks.com.

About $1.7 million of that spending occurred in 2014 alone.

The agency says it needs the equipment to protect its workers in the wild from feral swine, more commonly known as wild hogs.  But spending critics like openthebooks.com see such purchases as part of a much larger trend toward militarizing federal civilian agencies and local police at taxpayer expense.

paintball

“Beyond automatic rifles, armored cars and hollow-round bullets, some agencies seemed to have expanded their purchases to the more sublime, even booking hundreds of thousands of dollars of paint ball equipment, the report showed.”

And the irony is such purchases have massively expanded over the last decade, even as President Obama has repeatedly pushed to limit access to high-powered gun and weapons in America, most recently after the Orlando terror attack last month.

“This massacre is, therefore, a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub,” the president said after the most recent mass shooting.

Laws are for the little people

But on his watch, government agencies are arming themselves more than ever before.

According to a recent report from openthebooks.com, non-military spending on guns, ammo and military-style equipment soared from $119.3 million in 2008, President George W. Bush’s last year in office, to a high of $224.7 million dollars in 2012, the year Obama won re-election.

In 2014, the latest year for which there are complete records, total militarized spending by civilian federal agencies dropped to $150 million, still much higher than the end of the Bush years.

policemilitaryequipment_720

The Department of Homeland Security was the biggest spender on guns and ammo, requesting to purchase 1.7 billion bullets alone since 2004. Read the rest of this entry »


Global Panic Update: Government Reveals Details About Energy Grid Hacks

power-grid-custom-gs-780x439

Hackers have stolen sensitive information from American energy companies — and have planted malware in the energy grid with the intent to turn off the lights in the future.

Jose Pagliery reports: They even managed to infect at least three energy companies with Cryptolocker ransomware, a particularly nasty computer virus that locks digital files and demands a ransom payment.

Newly released documents from the Department of Homeland Security are finally shedding some light on what exactlyAPPROVED-non-stop-panichackers are doing when they sneak into the American electrical grid.

The DHS intelligence assessment — originally dated January 27, 2016 — was published by Public Intelligence, a research project that shares secretive documents to educate people.

Some of the attacks described in the report are potentially serious.

Aggressive foreign government hackers broke into American companies 17 times between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014, according to DHS. In two cases they snuck into U.S. petroleum organizations, and hackers are “suspected of exfiltrating data” from one of them.

It’s rare, but highly sophisticated foreign government hackers have gotten inside the energy grid, DHS said. They hack “primarily to conduct cyber espionage … to conduct a damaging or disruptive attack in the event of hostilities with the United States,” DHS stated in a recent internal “intelligence assessment.”

[Read the full story here, at CNNMoney]

That sounds alarming, but DHS is throwing cold water on any present worries. The agency concluded that damaging cyberattacks against the American energy sector is “possible but not likely.”

panic-betty

That calm demeanor doesn’t sit well with some cybersecurity experts. Ryan Duff is a researcher and former member of U.S. Cyber Command, the American military’s hacking unit. He warned that once a hacker gets into a computer — even if physical damage hasn’t been caused yet — the potential is there.

“While I agree with the DHS assessment overall, it’s still pretty frightening,” he said. “The fact is that the ability to cause destruction exists. Their assessment that attack is unlikely is based on political realities instead of technical realities. Attack is way more than technically possible.”

now-panic-and-freak-out_i-g-61-6183-1f81100z

DHS prefers to label these cyber incidents as “espionage or some other activity,” rather than “cyberattacks.” To date, there have been “no damaging or destructive attacks against the U.S. energy sector,” DHS said.

“The majority of malicious activity occurring against the U.S. energy sector is low-level cybercrime that is … not meant to be destructive,” DHS analysts wrote.

Kyle Wilhoit, who investigates these types of hacks for Trend Micro (TMICF), said criminal hackers sometimes gain access to sensitive machinery by mistake.

“Most of the attacks that we’ve witnessed against this sector are in fact criminal in nature,” he told CNNMoney. “In some cases we even see criminals not realizing the importance of some of the machines [they gained access to.]”

The agency cautions against media using the term cyber “attack,” although it’s own 2013 advisory refers to cyber “attack” 56 times. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Trust Us With More Data,’ Say Government Agencies Hacked By A 16-Year-Old 

cool-blue-servers-data

Tim Cushing writes: We live in a world where a 16-year-old who goes by the handle of “penis” on Twitter can dive into the servers of two of America’s most secure federal agencies and fish out their internal files.

This 16-year-old is allegedly part of the same crew that socially engineered their way into the inboxes of CIA director John Brennan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and the administration’s senior advisor on science and technology, John Holdren.

We also — somehow — live in a world where these same agencies are arguing they should be entrusted with massive amounts of data — not just on their own employees, but on thousands of US citizens.

The DHS, FBI and NSA all want more data to flow to them — and through them. The cybersecurity bill that legislators snuck past the public by attaching it as a rider to a “must pass” appropriations bill contains language that would allow each of these affected agencies to partake in “data sharing” with private companies. This would be in addition to the data these agencies already gather on American citizens as part of their day-to-day work.

US-SECURITY-INTELLIGENCE-OBAMA-PROTEST

The DHS — one of the more recent hacking victims — is the only agency that expressed a reluctance to partake in the new data haul. This isn’t because it wouldn’t like to have access to the data, but because it would be the agency responsible for “scrubbing” the data before passing it on to other agencies. DHS officials likely took a look at this requirement and saw it for what it was: a scapegoat provision. Should any legal action or public outcry have resulted from the new “sharing” demands, the DHS would have been the agency offered up to appease the masses.

[Read the full story here, at Techdirt]

Fortunately for the DHS — but less fortunately for anyone concerned about expanding domestic surveillance efforts — this requirement has been altered. A bit. The Attorney General will now examine the DHS’s “scrubbing” efforts and determine whether or not they’re Constitutionally adequate. Of course, the Attorney General is more likely to side with whatever level of scrubbing provides the maximum flow of data to underling agencies like the FBI, so that’s not all that reassuring. On the other hand, it puts the AG in the crosshairs should something backfire.

This is the government that feels it can protect the nation from hackers: the government that can’t protect itself from hackers. Read the rest of this entry »


TOP-SECRET MEMOMAGEDDON: Too Late for Damage Control?

email-fallout

  report: The intelligence community has deemed some of Hillary Clinton’s emails “too damaging” to national security to release under any circumstances, according to a PANTSUIT-REPORTU.S. government official close to the ongoing review. A second source, who was not authorized to speak on the record, backed up the finding.

The determination was first reported by Fox News, hours before the State Department formally announced Friday that seven email chains, found in 22 documents, will be withheld “in full” because they, in fact, contain “Top Secret” information.

The State Department, when first contacted by Fox News about withholding such emails Friday morning, did not dispute the reporting – but did not comment in detail. After a version of this report was first published, the Obama administration confirmed to the Associated Press that the seven email chains would be withheld. The department has since confirmed those details publicly.

The decision to withhold the documents in full, and not provide even a partial release with redactions, further undercuts claims by the State Department and the Clinton campaign that none of the intelligence in the emails was classified when it hit Clinton’s personal server.

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Fox News is told the emails include intelligence from “special access programs,” or SAP, which is considered beyond “Top Secret.” A Jan. 14 letter, first reported by Fox News, from intelligence community Inspector General Charles McCullough III notified senior intelligence and foreign relations committee leaders that “several dozen emails containing classified information” were determined to be “at the CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET, AND TOP SECRET/SAP levels.”

[Read the full story here, at Fox News]

The State Department is trying to finish its review and public release of thousands of Clinton emails, as the Democratic presidential primary contests get underway in early February. Read the rest of this entry »


DHS: More than Half a Million Aliens Overstayed Visas in 2015

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson speaks at a Defense One "leadership briefing" in Washington, Monday, Dec. 7, 2015, on the agency's efforts to tackle growing terrorism threats in the U.S. and abroad. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

 reports: More than half a million aliens overstayed their temporary visas in the United States in 2015, with more than 482,000 of those individuals believed to be still residing illegally in the United States, according to a new report by the Department of Homeland Security.

“By not enforcing visa overstays, the administration has flung the border open—millions get temp visas and then freely violate their entry contracts and shred their eviction notices. Further, DHS has refused to complete the legally required biometric tracking system.”

Around 527,127 aliens temporally granted U.S. business and tourist visas were found to have stayed in the United States longer than legally permitted, according to DHS’s 2015 entry and exit overstay report.

Of those who did not leave the United States on time, around 482,781 are believed to still be illegally residing in the United States, according to the report, which was issued by DHS amid debate in Congress over an Obama administration initiative to permit around 170,000 new immigrants from Muslim-majority nations in 2016.

Senior Obama administration officials had trouble in the past year informing Congress about the number of individuals who had overstayed their visas. The administration also could not provide Congress with statistics about the number of Syrian refugees who had been granted residency in the United States in 2015.

[Read the full story here, at freebeacon.com]

Concerns about visa overstays come as Congress is investigating a sharp uptick in the number of terror plots hatched by foreign-born individuals legally granted entrance to the United States. Lawmakers estimate that at least 113 foreign-born individuals have been implicated in domestic terror plots since 2014.

Last year there were 219 illegal overstays from Afghanistan, 681 from Iraq, 564 from Iran, 56 from Libya, 1,435 from Pakistan, 440 from Syria, and 219 from Yemen, according to the report. Many are still in the United States illegally. Read the rest of this entry »


Author of Benghazi Book Mitchell Zuckoff Stands by Pivotal ‘Stand-Down’ Scene

Bay

Jocelyn Noveck reports: “Stand down,” says the actor playing the CIA station chief in Michael Bay‘s new film, “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.” He’s speaking to the security team that wants to go help Americans under siege less than a mile away in a U.S. diplomatic compound under fierce attack. His order keeps the team from leaving for a crucial 20 minutes, before they decide to ignore him and go anyway.

“We worked very hard to get the facts right from the research of the book that Mitch did to the amazing access I have from working 20 years with the military, from the boots on the ground, the people who were in country to the CIA, at a high-level meeting to get just the facts right, the recently released emails. We just had to get it right.”

— Director Michael Bay

It’s the pivotal — and most controversial — scene in the new film, a movie that Bay insists steers clear of politics, but which is bound to spark much political discussion nonetheless. On Friday — the movie’s opening day — the Washington Post quoted the now-retired CIA station chief, identified only as Bob, as strongly denying he ever issued such an order or anything like it.

“There never was a stand-down order,” the base chief was quoted by the Post as saying. “At no time did I ever second-guess that the team would depart.”

The author of the book upon which the film is based, Mitchell Zuckoff, stood by his depiction of the scene on Friday, saying in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that he’d based it on several firsthand accounts. Zuckoff collaborated on his book, “13 Hours,” with some of the surviving security contractors.

[Read the full story here, at US News]

“It’s not credible what he’s claiming,” Zuckoff said of the station chief, whom he said he had tried to interview when writing the book, but his request was denied.

Four Americans died in the attacks, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Read the rest of this entry »


U.S. Doesn’t Know How Many Foreign Visitors Overstay Visas 

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After two decades of failed attempts to track such visitors, some officials call the visa program a critical national security weakness.

WASHINGTON — Ron Nixon writes: The question from the congressman to the Obama administration official was straightforward enough: How many foreign visitors overstay their visas every year?

The reply was simple too, but not in a satisfying way. “We don’t know,” the official said.

The testy exchange during a recent congressional hearing between Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina, and Alan Bersin, the assistant secretary for international affairs at the Department of Homeland Security, highlights what some law enforcement officials call a critical weakness in the United States foreign visa program.

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The issue has taken on added urgency as part of a broader examination of immigration policy following the mass shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., that left 14 people dead and 22 wounded. Tashfeen Malik, one of the attackers, was granted entry to the United States under a K-1 visa, also known as a fiancé visa. Her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, was an American-born citizen. Both died in a shootout with the police. While Ms. Malik did not overstay her visa, the attack added to fears that a terrorist could exploit gaps in the system.

Nearly 20 years ago, Congress passed a law requiring the federal government to develop a system to track people who overstayed their visas. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, an entry and exit tracking system was seen as a vital national security and counterterrorism tool, and the 9/11 Commission recommended that the Department of Homeland Security complete a system “as soon as possible.” Two of the Sept. 11 hijackers, Satam al-Suqami and Nawaf al-Hazmi, had overstayed their visas.

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Since then, the federal government has spent millions of dollars on the effort, yet officials can only roughly estimate the number of people in the United States illegally after overstaying visas.

Officials blame a lack of technology to conduct more advanced collection of data like iris scans, resistance from the airline and tourism industries because of cost, and questions about the usefulness of tracking people exiting the country as a counterterrorism measure.

[Read the full story here, at The New York Times]

Some experts also note that a sizable number of those who overstayed their visas are highly skilled workers who come under the H-1B program or are foreign students.

One widely cited statistic, from a 1997 report by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, puts the number of people who overstay their visas at 40 percent — which now would mean about 4.4 million of the estimated 11 million undocumented residents in the United States. Numerous lawmakers, including the Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, have used that figure when trying to describe the scope of the problem. But even that number has never been conclusively substantiated.

Federal agencies have not provided a new report to Congress on overstays since 1994, despite the congressional mandate. Read the rest of this entry »


Proceeding as Planned: Deportations Under Obama Plummet During Second Term

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The new figures show a dramatic four-year decline in the number of deportations carried out by the Obama administration, from more than 409,000 in 2012 to just 235,000 in fiscal 2015.

For the 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. who otherwise stay out of trouble, the chances of being deported are less than 1 percent, according to new figures released by the Department of Homeland Security.

“It’s a way to reduce your immigration enforcement without going through the legislative process of changing the law. It’s a way of doing a pseudo-amnesty without legislatively doing an amnesty.”

— Claude Arnold, former Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in charge of Southern California

The new figures show a dramatic four-year decline in the number of deportations carried out by the Obama administration, from more than 409,000 in 2012 to just 235,000 in fiscal 2015.

The numbers represent the fewest deportations since 2006.

“You have the resources to do it, those resources should be dedicated to not just removing criminal aliens but anyone else. The fact is, someone doesn’t want those laws enforced and it’s plain to see.”

— Claude Arnold, who spent 27 years at ICE

During President Obama’s first term, some Latino groups branded him the “deporter in chief” – yet other critics of the administration’s enforcement approach say the second-term figures show he’s anything but, as his executive actions and other policies take effect.

“It’s a way to reduce your immigration enforcement without going through the legislative process of changing the law,” said Claude Arnold, former Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in charge of Southern California, referring to those policies. “It’s a way of doing a pseudo-amnesty without legislatively doing an amnesty.”

Arnold stressed that deportation numbers are down in two key categories: criminals and interior enforcement.

On the first, Obama has emphasized throughout his two terms that he is focused on deporting “criminal aliens.” Yet the new numbers show criminal alien deportations declined 27 percent from last year, from 86,923 to 63,127 in 2015. Read the rest of this entry »


U.S. Embassy in Beijing Warns of ‘Possible Threats Against Westerners’ on Christmas Eve

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Carlos Tejada reports: The U.S. Embassy in Beijing issued a rare security alert for Westerners in the Chinese capital city on Christmas Eve, prompting a number of other foreign embassies to follow suit.

The notice posted on Thursday said the embassy had received “information of possible threats against Westerners” patronizing the area around Sanlitun, the site of a number of tony shops and restaurants catering to foreigners and affluent Chinese alike. The area is also close to a number of embassies, though not the U.S. embassy.

It said U.S. citizens should be vigilant. An embassy spokesman said he didn’t have additional information.

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A number of other embassies — including those for the U.K.the Netherlands, and Italy –  issued their own alerts, with many citing the U.S.

Beijing police didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Via social media, they issued their own security alert, though it didn’t specify any specific threats. It wasn’t clear whether the police notice was related to the embassy advisories. Chinese authorities have routinely issued security notices during holidays, even during foreign holidays such as Christmas.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman referred questions to other authorities. He added that Chinese authorities would do their best to ensure the safety of foreigners in the country.

[Read the full story here, at China Real Time Report – WSJ]

A small group of armed troops were stationed in front of the Tai Koo Li mall, a high-end shopping center famous for housing an Apple Store that is sometimes the scene of scuffles when the gadget maker updates one of its popular products. Chinese security personnel also erected spiked barricades near embassies in the area. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Why Is Homeland Security Welcoming Terrorists into the US? 

Should the Department of Homeland Security respect online privacy, even if terrorists are behind it? How did these ISIS sympathizers involved in the San Bernardino massacre pass visa screenings? Should immigration check social media before granting visas?

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, left, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 24, as they testify on Capitol Hill in Washington before the House Homeland Security Committee hearing regarding the growing problem of unaccompanied children crossing the border into the U.S. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, left, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 24, as they testify on Capitol Hill in Washington before the House Homeland Security Committee hearing regarding the growing problem of unaccompanied children crossing the border into the U.S. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)


Reality Check: CAIR = Hamas

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Jordan Schachtel writes: An FBI chart has surfaced depicting connections between the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the chart shows CAIR falling under the umbrella of the jihadi outfit.

This FBI chart details the Hamas-related groups, which included CAIR, that were created to ultimately support the Palestinian terrorist organization. It also established Nabil Sadoun’s (former CAIR national board of directors member and vice chairman) connections to Hamas.

The IPT also obtained groundbreaking new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents that trail CAIR back to its roots as a subversive Hamas-related group.

In 2007, CAIR was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial, a Hamas financing case that would result in the FBI ceasingits working relationship with CAIR. The HLF trial was the largest terror-financing case in American history. In 2008, during a retrial of the HLF case, an FBI Special Agent labeled CAIR as “a front group for Hamas” during her trial testimony. In 2010, a federal judge reiterated that his court had “ample evidence” that CAIR wasinvolved in “a conspiracy to support Hamas.” CAIR, which relies upon millions of dollars in Saudi cash, was recently listed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a terrorist organization.

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IPT FOIA

The group, which fashions itself as a civil rights voice for American Muslims, was founded by members of the Palestine Committee (PALCOM), an organization “established to support Hamas,” according to the chart. Nihad Awad, currently CAIR’s executive director, was previously an official at PALCOM.

The FBI declaration submitted in connection with removal proceedings for Nabil Sadoun (a former top CAIR official) said PALCOM members used coded language to discuss the “true nature” of their clandestine operations in support of Hamas. Read the rest of this entry »


Review Affirms Clinton Server Emails Were ‘Top Secret,’ Despite Department Challenge 

EXCLUSIVE:  and  report: An intelligence community review has re-affirmed that two classified emails were indeed “top secret” when they hit Hillary Clinton’s unsecured personal server despite a challenge to that designation by the State Department, according to two sources familiar with the review.

“The sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record, told Fox News that while the emails were indeed “top secret” when they hit Clinton’s server, one of them remains “top secret” to this day — and must be handled at the highest security level.”

The sources described the dispute over whether the two emails were classified at the highest level as a “settled matter.”

“The findings have been transmitted to the State Department, which continues to challenge the intelligence community’s conclusions about the classification of all the emails. But the department has no authority to change the classification since it did not originate the information.”

The agencies that owned and originated that intelligence – the CIA and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency or NGA – reviewed the emails to determine how they should be properly stored, as the State Department took issue with their highly classified nature. The subject matter of the messages is widely reported to be the movement of North Korean missiles and a drone strike. A top secret designation requires the highest level of security, and can include the use of an approved safe.

The sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record, told Fox News that while the emails were indeed “top secret” when they hit Clinton’s server, one of them remains “top secret” to this day — and must be handled at the highest security level. The second email is still considered classified but at the lower “secret” level because more information is publicly available about the event.

[Read the full report here, at Fox News]

The findings have been transmitted to the State Department, which continues to challenge the intelligence community’s conclusions about the classification of all the emails. But the department has no authority to change the classification since it did not originate the information. Read the rest of this entry »


Out of Touch: Obama Stubbornly Opposing American National Security Interests; House Passes Refugee Bill in Defiance of Veto Threat

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Jack Martinez reports: “National security and public safety are not simply factors to be considered,” in policy decisions said Trey Gowdy, the South Carolina representative who heads the House Special Committee on Benghazi, during debate over a refugee bill in the House of Representatives. Instead, he argued, they are the main issues, the most important issues that should be considered in making every decision.

That appears to the be the rationale behind HR 4038, a bill authored by Republican Michael McCaul of Texas and backed by Paul Ryan, the new Speaker of the House. Debate raged on for hours over the bill, which ultimately passed with votes from all but three Republican representatives, and 48 Democrats.

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The bill, if signed into law, would introduce new checks on refugee admission into the United States. Under current policy, defined mostly by the Refugee Act of 1980,the State Department has broad discretion to determine refugee admission and resettlement, in consultation with the FBI. Congressional Republicans want the FBI, the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security to play a greater role; the law would require all three entities to approve each individual refugee admitted to the United States after conducting background checks.

U.S. President Barack Obama pauses during news conference in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington

The bill does not contain any specific provisions for what the new vetting would look like, nor how it would differ from current vetting, but it does emphasize that the new measures would apply to refugees from Syria and Iraq. One house Democrat characterized the vote as purely symbolic, a way of “patting ourselves on the back” without making any policy changes to ensure the safety of the American public. Others expressed concern about a growing anti-refugee sentiment on Capitol Hill, and the likelihood that the bill would effectively pause resettlement efforts, or otherwise severely hamper them. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama Administration Promotes Fast Lanes to Accelerate Processing of Incoming Syrians

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Screening outposts to be set up in Iraq, Lebanon as U.S. urges Arab nations to do more.

The Obama administration is moving to increase and accelerate the number of Syrian refugees who might be admitted into the United States by opening new screening outposts in Iraq and Lebanon, administration officials told Reuters on Friday.

The move comes after President Barack Obama pledged in September to admit an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016, torn by four years of civil war and disorder.

The U.S. State Department confirmed the plans to open a refugee settlement processing centre in Erbil, Iraq, before the end of 2015, and to resume refugee processing in Lebanon in early 2016, said spokeswoman Danna Van Brandt.

The White House would not say how many additional refugees it may take in beyond the 10,000, but two senior administration officials said they are seeking ways to increase the number.

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Refugees and migrants arrive from the island of Lesbos to the port of Piraeus on Friday. About 25,000 refugees and other migrants are heading to the Greek mainland from the eastern Aegean islands after the country’s seamen’s union called off ferry strikes. (Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press)

“We want to be in a place where we can push out really ambitious goals,” said one of the officials, who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity.

The State Department runs nine screening centres worldwide that serve as meeting points for refugees and U.S. Department of Homeland Security employees who have to decide who is suitable for resettlement in the United States.

The additional centres will double the number available to refugees in the Middle East. Read the rest of this entry »


Clinton’s ‘Please Hack Me’ Server 

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L. Gordon Crovitz writes: “I’m still clinging to my BlackBerry, ” President-elect Obama said in early 2009. “They’re trying to pry it out of my hands.” The National Security Agency was so anxious about foreign intelligence agents gaining access to classified information that it assigned dozens of technologists to work for months before the inauguration to modify a BlackBerry Mr. Obama could use. The new president was told his device could safely communicate with fewer than a dozen other people, after their devices were loaded with special encryption.

“From what has been released so far, that includes the name of a CIA source on Libya that Mrs. Clinton divulged in unprotected email to confidant Sidney Blumenthal.”

His secretary of state took a different approach.

“Other emails identified as containing classified information include those dealing with discussions of Iran’s nuclear program, spy satellites and drone strikes.”

Hillary Clinton set up her own private email server. By avoiding use of government servers, she succeeded in keeping emails off-limits to information requests from congressional overseers and journalists—but American counterintelligence agents must now assume that Chinese, Russian and possibly other agents had full access. A Pentagon counterintelligence official told the Daily Beast that if he were in charge of a foreign intelligence agency, “I’d fire my staff if they weren’t getting all this.”

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“The AP reported attempted hacks on Mrs. Clinton servers from China and Russia. It identified a hacker using a computer in Serbia who scanned the server in the basement of her Chappaqua, N.Y., home multiple times in 2012.”

Mr. Obama jumped the gun on the FBI inquiry into Mrs. Clinton’s handling of classified material by saying earlier this month that “this is not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.”

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

The New York Times reported that Mr. Obama’s comments “raised the ire of officials who saw an instance of the president trying to influence the outcome of a continuing investigation.”

“There’s good reason to assume that foreign intelligence agencies were able to read the Clinton emails. Government servers are not hackproof, but they offer basic defenses and alerts. An Associated Press investigation found that the Clinton setup didn’t use a virtual private network, a common corporate safeguard. This meant her email server could be accessed over an open Internet connection.”

Meddling with the FBI investigation is only part of the problem. Mrs. Clinton’s conduct in office is forcing U.S. counterintelligence agencies to review her emails to identify what sources and methods of U.S. intelligence they have to assume were burned. Read the rest of this entry »


IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Teen Stoner Says He Hacked CIA Director’s AOL Account 

CIA Director John Brennan’s private account held sensitive files — including his 47-page application for top-secret security clearance — until he recently learned that it had been infiltrated, the hacker told The Post.panic-betty

“I think they’ll want to make an example out of him to deter people from doing this in the future.”

Other emails stored in Brennan’s non-government account contained the Social Security numbers and personal information of more than a dozen top American intelligence officials, as well as a government letter about the use of “harsh interrogation techniques” on terrorism suspects, according to the hacker.

The FBI and other federal agencies are now investigating the hacker, with one source saying criminal charges are possible, law enforcement sources said.

“I think they’ll want to make an example out of him to deter people from doing this in the future,” said a source who described the situation as “just wild” and “crazy.”

“I can’t believe he did this to the head of the CIA,’’ the source added. “[The] problem with these older-generation guys is that they don’t know anything about cybersecurity, and as you can see, it can be problematic.” Read the rest of this entry »


340 Sanctuaries Release 9,295 Criminals

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View Map in Full Screen – View Image of Map – View Sanctuary Cities Topic Page

Across the U.S., there are 340 cities, counties, and states that are considered “sanctuary cities”. These jurisdiction protect criminal aliens from deportation by refusing to comply with ICE detainers or otherwise impede open communication and information exchanges between their employees or officers and federal immigration agents.

Jessica VaughanBryan Griffith, and Marguerite Telford report: The number of jurisdictions that are obstructing immigration enforcement has grown to roughly 340, according to the Department of Homeland Security.1 This has resulted in the release by local authorities of approximately 1,000 criminal aliens per month.

According to an updated report prepared by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for Congress, between January 1 and September 30, 2014, local sanctuaries released 9,295 alien offenders that ICE was seeking to deport. More than 600 people were released at least twice.

Out of these, 5,947 of the criminal aliens (62 percent) had significant prior criminal histories or other public safety concerns even before the arrest that led to a detainer. Fifty-eight percent of those with a prior history of concern had prior felony charges or convictions; 37 percent had serious prior misdemeanor charges, and 5 percent had multiple prior misdemeanors.

An alarming number — 2,320 — of the total number of released offenders were subsequently arrested within the time period studied for new crimes after they were released by the sanctuaries.

One of these is Victor Aureliano Hernandez Ramirez2 who, together with an accomplice, was arrested in July 2015 for raping and then bludgeoning 64-year-old Marilyn Pharis, of Santa Maria, Calif. She died eight days later. Ramirez had been arrested for battery in May 2014 and was in the custody of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff. ICE issued a detainer in order to begin the deportation process after the charges were resolved, but the sheriff did not comply, apparently in accordance with California’s state sanctuary law that went into effect on January 1, 2014.3

ICE was not able to re-apprehend most of the offenders released by the sanctuaries. As of last year, 6,460 (69 percent) were still at large. Of those still at large, 1,377 (20 percent) had another criminal arrest following the one that resulted in the ICE detainer.

One violent illegal alien offender who is now at large because of a local sanctuary policy is Francisco Javier Chavez. In August 2015, Chavez was arrested for brutally beating the two-year-old daughter of his girlfriend, breaking a leg and both of her arms.4 Chavez has a long rap sheet, including felony drug and drunk driving convictions and a prior deportation. ICE issued a detainer, but the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department released him anyway after he posted bail, even though California’s law would have permitted them to hold him.

Of the 6,460 criminal aliens who were who were still at large during the time period studied, 3,802 (58 percent) had prior felonies or violent misdemeanors.

New Sanctuary Listings

In July, the Center for Immigration Studies reported that ICE had identified 276 jurisdictions that, as of September 2014, had policies obstructing immigration enforcement, primarily policies to ignore ICE detainers.5 ICE updated this list in December 2014 to add another nine jurisdictions that adopted sanctuary policies. They are:

  • Lafayette Parish, La.
  • Rio Arriba, N.M.
  • Prince George’s County, Md.
  • Montgomery County, Md.
  • Douglas County, Neb.
  • All New Mexico counties
  • Northampton, Mass.
  • Chesterfield County, Va.
  • Clayton County, Ga.

These jurisdictions have been added to our map of sanctuaries.6 No jurisdictions were removed from the list by ICE. Read the rest of this entry »


Repent! Pope Francis Lectures America on Immigration, Abortion, Gay Marriage and the Syrian Refugee Crisis

J. Taylor Rushing, Us Political Reporter In Washington and David Martosko, Us Political Editor For Dailymail.com report: Pope Francis delivered a stinging blow to nativist conservatives bent on keeping illegal immigrants and Middle Eastern refugees out of the United States, saying Thursday in a landmark address to Congress that Americans should show compassion to immigrants of all stripes.

“I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without.”

‘When the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past,’ the Roman Catholic pontiff said. ‘We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us.’

“Francis told lawmakers that the ‘Golden Rule … reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.'”

Speaking in English – a language he has learned only recently – Francis also dropped coded messages to conservatives about gay marriage and abortion, and made an impassioned plea for a left-leaning approach to capital punishment in an unprecedented visit to Capitol Hill by a sitting Pope.

[Read the full text here, at Daily Mail Online]

‘I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without,’ Francis told a packed House chamber filled with legislators, Supreme Court justices and multiple presidential candidates.

Pope Francis on Thursday morning became the first-ever pontiff to address the US Congress

Pope Francis on Thursday morning became the first-ever pontiff to address the US Congress

Francis took the opportunity to lecture lawmakers on a variety of topics ranging from social to environmental issues. Known as a forceful advocate, he did not disappoint

Francis took the opportunity to lecture lawmakers on a variety of topics ranging from social to environmental issues. Known as a forceful advocate, he did not disappoint

Francis about to be introduced at the door to the House chamber

Francis about to be introduced at the door to the House chamber

Francis's address was heard by an audience of several hundred, including lawmakers, Supreme Court justices and presidential candidates

Francis’s address was heard by an audience of several hundred, including lawmakers, Supreme Court justices and presidential candidates

“Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family.”

And without mentioning abortion by name – or the name of the embattled domestic Planned Parenthood organization – Francis told lawmakers that the ‘Golden Rule … reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.’

Francis spoke calmly but emphatically, never raising his voice as presidents often do in their State of the Union addresses to joint congressional sessions.

[Read the full text here, at Daily Mail Online]

In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.

He was greeted by polite applause at certain points – particularly when he began reciting the Golden Rule but was interrupted before he could finish – ‘do unto others as you would have done unto you.’

Also, notably, applause broke out after these words: ‘The Golden Rule reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of development.’

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But the applause was never raucous, a sign that members heeded party leaders’ directive not to applaud effusively or ‘glad-handle’ Francis if they got close to him.

Behind him on the raised speaker’s dais, close watchers got a different show during the speech, as both Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner – both well-known emotional men – proved to be almost as watchable.

“Francis’s speech was sprinkled with references to American history, as the pontiff repeatedly referenced and occasionally quoted from President Abraham Lincoln, civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., Catholic Worker Movement founder Dorothy Day and Cistercerian monk Thomas Merton.”

Throughout the speech, Biden gravely nodded his head and looked down as if in serious thought. But Boehner appeared to tear up at several points, and was openly crying later on the Speaker’s Balcony after the address.

Francis’s speech was sprinkled with references to American history, as the pontiff repeatedly referenced and occasionally quoted from President Abraham Lincoln, civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., Catholic Worker Movement founder Dorothy Day and Cistercerian monk Thomas Merton.

The pontiff made clear his firmness on the sanctity of human life, not only the veiled reference to abortion but also his opposition to the death penalty.

Francis and House Speaker John Boehner meet for the first time near the House of Representatives chamber

Francis and House Speaker John Boehner meet for the first time near the House of Representatives chamber

Biden, a Roman Catholic who co-presided over the Joint Session of Congress as the constitutionally appointed president of the U.S. Senate, caused a stir this week by declaring that he believes life begins at conception.

[Read the full story here, at Daily Mail Online]

But it’s Francis’ comments about immigrants that will be most sharply felt as the U.S. deals with the twin crises of Syrian refugees and an immigrant invasion from Mexico and Central America, both of which the Obama administration has taken steps to pacify by loosening America’s borders as a show of compassion. Read the rest of this entry »


OH YES SHE DID: Hillary Intentionally Originated, Distributed Classified Material

 reports: A review of recently released e-mails shows that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeatedly originated and distributed highly classified national security information. Clinton’s classified e-mail missives were not constrained to State PANTSUIT-REPORTDepartment staff, either. She also sent classified information to Sidney Blumenthal, a former Clinton White House operative banned by the Obama White House.

An analysis by The Federalist of e-mails released by the State Department late Monday shows that scores of e-mails sent by Clinton contained highly confidential national security information from the beginning, even if they weren’t marked by a classification authority until later.

The original date of classification of Hillary’s e-mails can be discerned by noting the declassification dates noted next to redactions in the e-mails. Under a 2009 executive order signed by President Barack Obama, classified material in most circumstances is to be automatically declassified after 10 years. In some instances, that duration may be extended up to 25 years. In certain circumstances, classification authorities may adjust the classification duration based on the nature of the underlying information.

[Read the full story here, at thefederalist.com]

In this July 2010 e-mail, for example, the entirety of Hillary Clinton’s message was redacted prior to its public release under the federal FOIA law. The redactions of the material were provided pursuant to a provision of law protecting national security information. The printed redaction code “1.4(D),” cited next to the redaction and at the top of the document next to the official classification date, pertains to information on “[f]oreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources[.]” At the top of the document, a declassification date of July 1, 2025 is clearly noted:

Hillary-Classified-1

That declassification date is highly significant because it is precisely 15 years after the date on which the e-mail was sent, rather than the date on which it was marked. Read the rest of this entry »


Source: FBI ‘A-team’ Leading ‘Serious’ Clinton Server Probe, Focusing on Defense Info

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Did Hillary Clinton know emails on server were classified?

 and  report: An FBI “A-team” is leading the “extremely serious” investigation into Hillary Clinton’s server and the focus includes a provision of the law pertaining to “gathering, transmitting or losing defense information,” an intelligence source told Fox News.

“It is not clear how the FBI team’s findings will impact the probe itself. But the details offer a window into what investigators are looking for.”

The section of the Espionage Act is known as 18 US Code 793.

A separate source, who also was not authorized to speak on the record, said the FBI will further determine whether Clinton should have known, based on the quality and detail of the material, that emails passing through her server contained classified information regardless of the markings. The campaign’s standard defense and that of Clinton is that she “never sent nor received any email that was marked classified” at the time.

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It is not clear how the FBI team’s findings will impact the probe itself. But the details offer a window into what investigators are looking for — as the Clinton campaign itself downplays the controversy.

“Somebody in the government, with a clearance and need to know, then delivered the information to someone not entitled to receive it, or otherwise moved it from where it was supposed to be lawfully held.”

—  Attorney Edward MacMahon Jr.

The FBI offered no comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

[Read the full text here, at Fox News]

A leading national security attorney, who recently defended former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling in a leak investigation, told Fox News that violating the Espionage Act provision in question is a felony and pointed to a particular sub-section. Read the rest of this entry »


FBI Looking Into the Security of Hillary Clinton’s Private E-Mail Setup

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The inquiries by the FBI follow concerns from government officials that potentially hundreds of e-mails that passed through Clinton’s private server contained classified or sensitive information.

Carol D. LeonnigRosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger report: The FBI has begun looking into the security of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private e-mail setup, contacting in the past week a Denver-based technology firm that helped manage the unusual system, according to twogovernment officials.Hillary_Clinton_at_the_1992_Inaugural_Ball

“The inquiries are bringing to light new information about Clinton’s use of the system and the lengths to which she went to install a private channel of communication outside government control — a setup that has emerged as a major issue in her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.”

Also last week, the FBI contacted Clinton’s lawyer, David Ken­dall, with questions about the security of a thumb drive in his possession that contains copies of work e-mails Clinton sent during her time as secretary of state.

The FBI’s interest in Clinton’s e-mail system comes after the intelligence community’s inspector general referred the issue to the Justice Department in July. Intelligence officials expressed concern that some sensitive information was not in the government’s possession and could be “compromised.” The referral did not accuse Clinton of any wrongdoing, and the two officials said Tuesday that the FBI is not targeting her.
PANTSUIT-REPORT

Kendall confirmed the contact, saying: “The government is seeking assurance about the storage of those materials. We are actively cooperating.”

A lawyer for the Denver company, Platte River Networks, declined to comment, as did multiple Justice Department officials.

The inquiries are bringing to light new information about Clinton’s use of the system and the lengths to which she went to install a private channel of communication outside government control — a setup that has emerged as a major issue in her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

For instance, the server installed in her Chappaqua, N.Y., home as she was preparing to take office as secretary of state was originally used by her first campaign for the presidency, in 2008, according to two people briefed on the setup. A staffer who was on the payroll of her political action committee set it up in her home, replacing a server that Clinton’s husband, former president Bill Clinton, had been using in the house.hillary-action-figure

The inquiries by the FBI follow concerns from government officials that potentially hundreds of e-mails that passed through Clinton’s private server contained classified or sensitive information. At this point, the probe is preliminary and is focused on ensuring the proper handling of classified material.

Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Clinton’s campaign, declined to comment on the FBI’s actions. He noted that Clinton has called repeatedly for the State Department to release her e-mails to the public, a process that is ongoing.

In a statement, Merrill said that Clinton “did not send nor receive any emails that were marked classified at the time. We want to ensure that appropriate procedures are followed as these emails are reviewed while not unduly delaying the release of her emails. We want that to happen as quickly and as transparently as possible.”

[Read the full text here, at The Washington Post]

The controversy over Clinton’s e-mail dates to the summer of 2014, when, according to government officials, State Department lawyers realized they didn’t have access to some of her records as they prepared responses to congressional requests related to the 2012 attacks on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya. Read the rest of this entry »


Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) Issues Hit List of U.S. Women Against Sharia Law

The Obama-tied leftist group that helped a gunman commit an act of terrorism against a conservative organization has assembled a starter kit for Islamists to attack American women who refuse to comply with Sharia law, the authoritarian doctrine that inspires Islamists and their jihadism.splc-1

It’s the summer special from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an extremist nonprofit that lists conservative organizations that disagree with it on social issues on a catalogue of “hate groups.” A few years ago a gunman received a 25-year prison sentence for carrying out the politically-motivated shooting of the Family Research Council (FRC) headquarters after admitting that he learned about the FRC from the SPLC “hate map.” Prosecutors called it an act of terrorism and recommended a 45-year sentence.

Now the SPLC, which has conducted diversity training for the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ), is targeting female bloggers, activists and television personalities who refuse to comply with Sharia law which is rooted in the Quran. The European Court on Human rights has repeatedly ruled that Sharia is “incompatible with the fundamental principles of democracy” yet politically-connected radical Muslim groups—such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)—keep pushing to implement it in the United States and the movement has gained steam.

Among those resisting this effort publicly are the high-profile women being targeted by the SPLC. Some of them are colleagues or friends of Judicial Watch and now they must fear for their safety simply for practicing their rights under the U.S. Constitution. The new hate list is titled Women Against Islam/The Dirty Dozen and includes illustrations and detailed information on all the women, who are branded “the core of the anti-Muslim radical right.” The new SPLC hate brochure further targets them by claiming that they’re “a dozen of the most hardline anti-Muslim women activists in America.”

Political activist and commentator Pamela Geller is branded the “country’s most flamboyant and visible Muslim-basher” for, among other things “smearing and demonizing Muslims.” Blogger Ann Barnhardt is identified as one of the “most extreme Muslim-bashers in the United States” and radio talk-show host Laura Ingram made the list for saying that hundreds of millions of Muslims were delighted that 12 people were massacred by Islamic terrorists in the Paris headquarters of a satirical magazine. Read the rest of this entry »


OPM IT Outsourced to Foreigner Contractors, with Root Access, Working from their Home Country. In this Case, Oh Yeah, China

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Encryption ‘would not have helped’ at OPM, says DHS official: Attackers had valid user credentials and run of network, bypassing security

 reports: During testimony today in a grueling two-hour hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Katherine Archuleta claimed that she had recognized huge problems with the agency’s computer security when she assumed her post 18 months ago. But when pressed on why systems had not been protected with encryption prior to the recent discovery of an intrusion that gave attackers access to sensitive data on millions of government employees and government contractorsNON-STOP-PANIC-EX, she said, “It is not feasible to implement on networks that are too old.” She added that the agency is now working to encrypt data within its networks.

But even if the systems had been encrypted, it likely wouldn’t have mattered. Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity Dr. Andy Ozment testified that encryption would “not have helped in this case” because the attackers had gained valid user credentials to the systems that they attacked—likely through social engineering. And because of the lack of multifactor authentication on these systems, the attackers would have been able to use those credentials at will to access systems from within and potentially even from outside the network.

House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) told Archuleta and OPM Chief Information Officer Donna Seymour, “You failed utterly and totally.” He referred to OPM’s own inspector general reports and hammered Seymour in particular for the 11 major systems out of 47 that had not been properly certified as secure—which were not contractor systems but systems operated by OPM’s own IT department. “They were in your office, which is a horrible example to be setting,” Chaffetz told Seymour. In total, 65 percent of OPM’s data was stored on those uncertified systems.

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Chaffetz pointed out in his opening statement that for the past eight years, according to OPM’s own Inspector General reports, “OPM’s data security posture was akin to leaving all your doors and windows unlocked and hoping nobody would walk in and take the information.”

[Read the full text here, at Ars Technica]

When Chaffetz asked Archuleta directly about the number of people who had been affected by the breach of OPM’s systems panic-manand whether it included contractor information as well as that of federal employees, Archuleta replied repeatedly, “I would be glad to discuss that in a classified setting.” That was Archuleta’s response to nearly all of the committee members’ questions over the course of the hearing this morning.

At least we found it

Archuleta told the committee that the breach was found only because she had been pushing forward with an aggressive plan to update OPM’s security, centralizing the oversight of IT security under the chief information officer and implementing “numerous tools and capabilities.” She claimed that it was during the process of updating tools that the breach was discovered. “But for the fact that OPM implemented new, more stringent security tools in its environment, we would have never known that malicious activity had previously existed on the network and would not have been able to share that information for the protection of the rest of the federal government,” she read from her prepared statement. Read the rest of this entry »


You’ve Got Mail: OPM Sends Data Breach Notifications to Millions of Employees

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WASHINGTON — Millions of federal workers are starting to receive notices from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management that their identity may be compromised following the recent data breach.

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WNEW has obtained a copy of the letter [click to enlarge]

Read the rest of this entry »


Neutralized by Legal Setbacks, Obama Administration Appears to Stop Work on its Illegal Illegal Immigration Program

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Jerry Markon reports: A series of legal setbacks have halted the government’s intensive preparations to move forward with President Obama’s executive actions shielding millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, even as community organizations continue a rapid push to get ready for the programs, according to U.S. officials and immigrant advocacy groups.

“After Texas and 25 other states sued the administration, calling the moves unconstitutional, a federal judge in Texas in February put them on hold until the case is resolved. A federal appeals court recently upheld that injunction, with legal observers now saying the court fight could last until late in Obama’s term.”

Since a federal judge first blocked the new programs in February, the Department of Homeland Security has suspended plans to hire up to 3,100 new employees, most of whom would be
housed in an 11-story building the government has leased for $7.8 million a year in Arlington, Va. That President Barack Obama looks at his supporters after speaking at the Organizing for Action dinner in Washington, Wednesday, March 13, 2013.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)building, in the Crystal City area, is now sittig mostly unused, DHS employees say.

“The legal battle highlights the explosive nature of the immigration debate, which has emerged as an early issue in the 2016 presidential race even as immigration legislation remains stalled in Congress.”

Yet inside and outside the Beltway, community groups are mobilizing, educating immigrants and training volunteers to help them apply for relief, even though it remains unclear whether the program will ever begin. Most recently, a foundation headed by billionaire George Soros, undaunted by the court rulings, pledged at least $8 million to that effort.

[Read the full text here, at The Washington Post]

“We’re full speed ahead,” said Josh Hoyt, executive director of the Chicago-based National Partnership for New Americans, a coalition of pro-immigrant groups that have held more than 700 information sessions on the new programs and trained more than 2,000 volunteers to aid immigrants in applying for them.

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Obama announced in November that up to 5 million illegal immigrants would be eligible to be shielded from deportation — including undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents — as long as they met certain criteria. One of the signature initiatives of his presidency, the plan also expands a 2012 program that has deferred the deportations of more than 600,000 immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children and has granted most of them work permits.

“The fate of Obama’s executive action benefiting immigrant parents, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, will resonate into the next administration.”

But after Texas and 25 other states sued the administration, calling the moves unconstitutional, a federal judge in Texas in February put them on hold until the case is resolved. A federal appeals court recently upheld that injunction, with legal observers now saying the court fight could last until late in Obama’s term. The 2012 program remains unaffected.

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“As soon as Obama took his actions on Nov. 20, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ‘immediately began efforts to implement those initiatives,’ said Marsha Catron, a DHS spokeswoman. The next day, the agency leased a 280,000-square-foot building on Crystal Drive in Crystal City to house DAPA employees, according to DHS documents sent to Congress.”

The legal battle highlights the explosive nature of the immigration debate, which has emerged as an early issue in the 2016 presidential race even as immigration legislation remains stalled in Congress. The fate of Obama’s executive action benefiting immigrant parents, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, will resonate into the next administration. Most Republican presidential candidates have pledged to overturn Obama’s immigration actions, while leading Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton has strongly endorsed them.

“The building came fully furnished but required about $26 million in start-up costs, including $2.7 million for workstation and desktop equipment, documents show.”

As soon as Obama took his actions on Nov. 20, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services “immediately began efforts to implement those initiatives,’’ said Marsha Catron, a DHS spokeswoman. The next day, the agency leased a 280,000-square-foot building on Crystal Drive in Crystal City to house DAPA employees, according to DHS documents sent to Congress.

Bankrolled: Tax filings revealed that Soros pumped millions into groups that bussed protesters to Ferguson, Missouri, from around the country and co-ordinated campaigns to keep it in the media

George Soros

“Most recently, a foundation headed by billionaire George Soros, undaunted by the court rulings, pledged at least $8 million to that effort.”

The building came fully furnished but required about $26 million in start-up costs, including $2.7 million for workstation and desktop equipment, documents show. Those costs were to be funded with fees collected from immigrants who had applied for other government programs, and DHS says DAPA would have no impact on any existing programs. Read the rest of this entry »


Ellen Nakashima: With a Series of Major Hacks, China Builds a Database on Americans

DigitalDC

China hacked into the federal government’s network, compromising four million current and former employees

Ellen Nakashima reports: China is building massive databases of Americans’ personal information by hacking government agencies and U.S. health-care companies, using a high-tech tactic to achieve an age-old goal of espionage: recruiting spies or gaining more information on an adversary, U.S. officials and analysts say.

“This is part of their strategic goal — to increase their intelligence collection via big data theft and big data aggregation. It’s part of a strategic plan.”

— U.S. government official, on condition of anonymity

Groups of hackers working for the Chinese government have compromised the networks of the Office of Personnel Management, which holds data on millions of current and former federal employees, as well as the health insurance giant Anthem, among other targets, the officials and researchers said.

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“We wish the United States would not be full of suspicions, catching wind and shadows, but rather have a larger measure of trust and cooperation.”

— Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei

“They’re definitely going after quite a bit of personnel information,” said Rich Barger, chief intelligence officer of ThreatConnect, a Northern Virginia cybersecurity firm. “We suspect they’re using it to understand more about who to target [for espionage], whether electronically or via human ­recruitment.”

The targeting of large-scale data­bases is a relatively new tactic and is used by the Chinese government to further its intelligence-gathering, the officials and analysts say. It is government espionage, not commercial espionage, they say.

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“They would leverage this data to get to diplomatic, political, military and economic intelligence that they typically target.”

“This is part of their strategic goal — to increase their intelligence collection via big data theft and big data aggregation,” said a U.S. government official, who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic. “It’s part of a strategic plan.”

One hack of the OPM, which was disclosed by the government Thursday, dates at least to December, officials said. Earlier last year, the OPM discovered a separate intrusion into a highly sensitive database that contains information on employees seeking or renewing security clearances and on their background investigations.

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“So now the Chinese counterintelligence authorities know which American officials are meeting with which Chinese.”

Once harvested, the data can be used to glean details about key government personnel and potential spy recruits, or to gain information useful for counter­intelligence. Records in OPM’s database of background investigations, for instance, could contain a complete history of where an individual has lived and all of his or her foreign contacts in, say, China. “So now the Chinese counterintelligence authorities know which American officials are meeting with which Chinese,” a China cyber and intelligence expert said.

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“For bigger data storage, for bigger data theft. And when you can gain it in bulk, you take it in bulk.”

— China cyber and intelligence expert

The data could help Chinese analysts do more effective targeting of individuals, said a former National Security Agency official. “They can find specific individuals they want to go after, family members,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »


Survey Reveals: U.S. Schools Expelled 8,000 Chinese Students for Poor Grades, Cheating

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The survey comes amid reports that federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh have indicted 15 Chinese citizens for allegedly taking part in a college exam scheme

Liyan Qi reports: As tens of thousands of Chinese students prepare to study in the U.S., they might reflect on the experience of some of those who went before them. According to an estimate by a U.S. education company, some 8,000 Chinese students were expelled from American universities last year alone – and the main reasons were poor grades and cheating.

“This is an issue not just about students in the U.S., but about the entire higher-education system in China.” 

The estimate by WholeRen Education, a U.S. company that caters to Chinese students, was based on official U.S. data and a survey of 1,657 students expelled from American universities last year. More than 80% of these students were expelled because of poor academic performance or dishonesty, the company said.

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“Chinese students used to be considered top-notch but over the past five years their image has changed completely — wealthy kids who cheat.”

— Chen Hang, chief development officer at WholeRen

The company surveyed students about their U.S. study experience a year earlier but didn’t make any estimate for expulsions.

The survey comes amid reports that federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh have indicted 15 Chinese citizens for allegedly taking part in a college exam scheme.

[Read the full text here at WSJ]

Stacked up against the huge numbers of Chinese students who go to American universities every year, the failure rate isn’t so bad, WholeRen said, though it does suggest a change in the once-shining image of students from China. Read the rest of this entry »


Martin Ford: Attention White-collar Workers: #Robots Are Coming for Your Jobs

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Interview: Martin Ford, Author Of ‘Rise Of The Robots’ 

From the self-checkout aisle of the grocery store to the sports section of the newspaper, robots and computer software are increasingly taking the place of humans in the workforce. Silicon Valley executive Martin Ford says that robots, once thought of as a threat to only manufacturing jobs, are poised to replace humans as teachers, journalists, lawyers and others in the service sector.

“As we look forward from this point, we need to keep in mind that this technology is going to continue to accelerate. So I think there’s every reason to believe it’s going to become the primary driver of inequality in the future, and things are likely to get even more extreme than they are now.”

“There’s already a hardware store [in California] that has a customer service robot that, for example, is capable of leading customers to the proper place on the shelves in order to find an item,” Ford tells Fresh Air’s Dave Davies.

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In his new book, Rise of the Robots, Ford considers the social and economic disruption that is likely to result when educated rise-of-robotsworkers can no longer find employment.

[Check out Martin Ford’s book “Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future” at Amazon.com]

“As we look forward from this point, we need to keep in mind that this technology is going to continue to accelerate,” Ford says. “So I think there’s every reason to believe it’s going to become the primary driver of inequality in the future, and things are likely to get even more extreme than they are now.”

Any jobs that are truly repetitive or rote — doing the same thing again and again — in advanced economies like the United States or Germany, those jobs are long gone. They’ve already been replaced by robots years and years ago.

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So what we’ve seen in manufacturing is that the jobs that are actually left for people to do tend to be the ones that require more flexibility or require visual perception and dexterity. Very often these jobs kind of fill in the gaps between machines.

[Read the full text here, at NPR]

For example, feeding parts into the next part of the production process or very often they’re at the end of the process — perhaps loading and unloading trucks and moving raw materials and finished products around, those types of things. Read the rest of this entry »


Despite Campaign Pledge, Obama Won’t Call 1915 Killings of Armenians ‘Genocide’

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John Hudson writes: Putting geopolitics above a longtime campaign promise, President Barack Obama will refrain from using the word “genocide” to describe the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians during World War I. The decision came after a senior delegation of Turkish diplomats traveled to Washington to meet with White House officials and three days before the 100th anniversary of the mass killings.

“President Obama’s surrender to Turkey represents a national disgrace. It is, very simply, a betrayal of truth, a betrayal of trust.”

— Ken Hachikian, the chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America

U.S. officials speaking to Foreign Policy said the White House had contemplated recognizing the genocide and alerted State Department officials who deal with Turkey to prepare for the potential diplomatic blowback.

“The Armenian genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. As president I will recognize the Armenian genocide.”

— Senator Barack Obama

In the end, though, the White House decided against using the term. Administration officials relayed the decision to a group of Armenian-American leaders Tuesday afternoon, prompting an immediate backlash from those who have spent decades trying to get Washington to recognize what many historians describe as the first genocide of the 20th century.

“Is this the time to kick Turkey in the balls given everything that’s going on in the region?”

— Former congressional aide with years of experience working with Washington’s highly active Armenian lobby

“President Obama’s surrender to Turkey represents a national disgrace,” Ken Hachikian, the chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America, said in a statement. “It is, very simply, a betrayal of truth, a betrayal of trust.”

Many officials at the State Department opposed the decision for fear of losing Turkey’s cooperation on a host of key issues, most notably the war against the Islamic State militant group, which has seized control of large swaths of Syria and Iraq. Turkey hosts a training camp for anti-ISIS fighters and owns an air base the United States wants more access to.

“Is this the time to kick Turkey in the balls given everything that’s going on in the region?” said a former congressional aide with years of experience working with Washington’s highly active Armenian lobby.

To date, no sitting U.S. president has ever verbalized the word “genocide” when referring to the atrocities committed against Armenians in the early years of World War I. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan issued a written proclamation about the “genocide of the Armenians,” but subsequent diplomatic headaches prompted his administration to reverse course and drop all explicit references to that term. Read the rest of this entry »