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A UAE official accused of torture has been elected president of Interpol

The international policing body announced Thursday that Gen. Ahmed Naser al-Raisi had been elected president. Maj. Gen. Ahmed Naser al-Raisi in Istanbul, Turkey.AP Photo/Francisco Seco Interpol elected Gen. Ahmed Naser al-Raisi as its new president. He oversees UAE security forces, and two British men said he oversaw their torture when they were detained. 19 rights groups said he shouldn't be president over the UAE's "poor human rights record." The international police agency Interpol has elected Gen. Ahmed Naser al-Raisi — an Emirati general accused of overseeing torture — as its new president.Interpol announced al-Raisi's win on its Twitter account on Thursday, adding that he will have a four-year term, as is standard.—INTERPOL (@INTERPOL_HQ) November 25, 2021Al-Raisi is the head of the United Arab Emirates security forces.Two British men who were detained in the UAE said he was ultimately responsible for torture they endured when they were held, The Guardian reported. One was detained in 2018 and the other in 2019.The UAE has denied torturing the two men.Nine human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and the European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights, wrote to Interpol in 2020 "expressing concern" about a possible al-Raisi presidency, citing the UAE's poor human rights record.""Lawyers, journalists, political activists and human rights defenders in the UAE have been subjected to harsh reprisals, intimidation tactics, enforced disappearances, torture, and arbitrary detention as a result of peacefully expressing their opinions, including on trumped-up 'terrorism' charges," they wrote.Three European parliament members also warned earlier this month about having al-Raisi as president, The Guardian reported.The role of president is largely ceremonial, with the secretary general leading most of its activities.Former Interpol President Meng Hongwei, a Chinese national, disappeared in 2018 during a trip to China. At the time, his wife called the case "political persecution," while Interpol said that organization rules forbade an investigation into the disappearance.China later said Meng had been detained, accused him of bribery, and sentenced him to 13-and-a-half years in prison.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 25th, 2021

"I"m living in Guantanamo 2.0": A Guantanamo Bay survivor says he can"t get a job or make friends, and can"t leave his city without permission

Mansoor Adayfi was held in the prison camp for 14 years, and never charged with a crime. He said the stigma has made him unable to create a new life. Mansoor Adayfi after his release from the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp. He said he is wearing an orange cloth to represent his time there.Masoor Adayfi Mansoor Adayfi was held at Guantanamo Bay for 14 years. He was never charged with a crime. He was released in 2016, but says his life now is still like being in prison. He told Insider he can't make friends or get work, and is regularly interrogated. Mansoor Adayfi spent 14 years in the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, where he says he was tortured, beaten, and force fed.He was released in 2016. Like many detainees of the notorious facility, he was never actually charged with a crime, though the US accused him of being a recruiter for al Qaeda, which he denies.But he said that, instead of feeling free, the stigma of having been in Guantanamo means he still feels like he's in prison."I live in Guantanamo 2.0," he told Insider.'Welcome to our life ... It's hell'Many Guantanamo detainees are sent to third countries after their release — not the US or their home countries.Adayfi, who is from Yemen, was brought to Belgrade, Serbia, after his release. He still lives there.Geographically, he's now far from the naval base in Cuba.But he said the stigma of having been in Guantanamo, where he was known as Detainee 441, means he still can't build a life: "We are living with the stigma of Guantanamo. Guantanamo hasn't left us yet.""Welcome to our life, " he said. "This, our life: It's hell."Guantanamo Bay prisoners.Getty ImagesHe said he lives alone, in a one-room apartment, sleeping on the couch.Earlier this year he released a book about his time in Guantanamo, and is now working on another one about life after release. He's also studying for a master's degree, partly supported through fundraisers, NGOs, and the Serbian government.But he said getting a job, making friends, or forming relationships are impossible."I've lived here by myself for almost five years. Anyone I got in contact with — friends, or drink coffee with — they were harassed, interrogated, arrested and told to stay away."Daphne Eviatar, Amnesty International USA's director of security with human rights, told Insider that many former Guantanamo detainees are "discriminated against" once they are released, and that some former detainees had been "arrested randomly" and "denied movement."Mansoor Adayfi, wearing orange to represent his time in Guantanamo, stands in front of a wall of post-its in his apartment in Serbia.Mansoor AdayfiAdayfi said he'd been arrested and interrogated in Serbia multiple times.An NPR journalist who interviewed him in Belgrade in 2017 said he was stopped by the police and questioned. The day after their first meeting, Adayfi said Serbian men broke into his apartment and pinned him to the floor, NPR reported.The journalist also reported that during a separate video call, a group of men wearing black ski masks entered Adayfi's apartment, demanding to see his phone. Adayfi told Insider these were Serbian military members.A US State Department spokesperson referred Insider's request for comment to Serbia, saying host countries are responsible for former detainees' security. "While the host government is encouraged to consult with us, the US government does not exercise any sort of custody over the treatment of resettled individuals," they said.They said that the resettlement of former detainees is "carefully negotiated" between the US and the host country, "based on mutually reached security and humane treatment assurances," and told Insider they want to thank Serbia for taking those previously held at Guantanamo Bay. Serbia's Ministry of Defence did not respond to Insider's request for comment. An unsustainable lifeAdayfi told Insider he has "no friends in the community, no family. Nobody. Your day is just same every day."Another Guantanamo survivor, who was sent to Slovakia, told Newsweek in 2016 that he couldn't make any local friends or get a job, and that his family wasn't allowed to visit him.Adayfi said he was evicted last year because of his past.Eviatar, the Amnesty director, said she was aware of other Guantanamo survivors who'd lost their homes for the same reasons.Mansoor Adayfi in Belgrade, Serbia.Masoor Adayfi.Adayfi said he has to ask the Serbian secret service for permission to leave the city three days before he wants to. Serbia's Ministry of Defence did not respond to Insider's request for comment about this.He also said: "No one will hire you as a former Guantanamo detainee. I have tried to search for a job, but they [wouldn't hire me] as soon as they find out." Eviatar said she could not comment specifically on Adayfi's case, but said of former detainees: "Many of them have been very restricted. They've not been allowed to leave their countries, they've not been given passports, they've been denied visas."They have a stigma of having been in Guantanamo, which makes it very difficult to get a job."Adayfi is further limited because he is from Yemen, a country currently devastated by a civil war. He said he can't get a passport from Yemen as a result.This is partly why he hasn't seen his family since before he was imprisoned, he said. They also live in rural Yemen with no power and have to travel to a nearby city to call him, he said.Adayfi said he wants to live somewhere with his family, and where he can work."I cannot live forever like this. It's jail."Life after GuantanamoDuring his interview with Insider, Adayfi wore an orange cloth around his neck — something he says symbolizes how the prison is still a part of him, and an act he'll only stop when Guantanamo Bay is shut down.The existence of Guantanamo itself is a legal gray area — critics have flagged human-rights violations and questioned the legality of punishing people who'd never been charged with a crime or given due process.In this photo, reviewed by a US Department of Defense official, a detainee's feet are shackled to the floor as he attends a "Life Skills" class at Guantanamo Bay in 2016.REUTERS/Michelle Shephard/Pool/File PhotoAdayfi said for the survivors, the punishment doesn't stop: "We feel we are being punished for being at Guantanamo, simply."Other former detainees have detailed similar experiences. Lutfi bin Ali was brought to Kazakhstan, where he said he was isolated, made to feel unwelcome, and denied medical care. Others have died after being denied travel to other countries for medical care.As president, Barack Obama said he wanted to close Guantanamo, but only succeeded in transferring some detainees out.Donald Trump signed an executive order to keep it open, and halted transfers out of the prison.Joe Biden says he wants to close it, but has not taken significant steps toward that goal.There are now 39 detainees left in the prison.Mansoor Adayfi.Slavoljub MilanovićAdayfi said that how people are treated after leaving Guantanamo depends on the human-rights conditions of the country they're sent to.He said he often talks with other Guantanamo survivors, whom he calls his brothers, who are scattered across the world.Some of them have been imprisoned and tortured by authorities since their release, while others are beaten, harassed, and detained by various country authorities every few weeks, Adayfi said.He said many have not been allowed family visits or to get jobs."When I ask them, they say it's worse than Guantanamo," he said.How he got thereAdayfi told Insider he was a goat herder and security guard in Yemen, and had been sent to Afghanistan to do research when he was kidnapped by Afghan warlords, and sold to the CIA at aged 18.The US accused him of being an Egyptian recruiter for al Qaeda, which he denies.A photo of Mansoor Adayfi as a child.AdayfiHe told The New York Times he falsely confessed to that identity in Afghanistan before being sent to Guantanamo, because he was being electrocuted and wanted it to stop.Experts say this is similar to how many people ended up at Guantanamo, as the US offered bounties for suspected terrorists at the time.According to an unclassified summary of his case, Adayfi told his 2006 court hearing: "I do pose a threat to the United States and its allies," said it was an "honor to be an enemy of the United States," and praised the 9/11 attacks.In his book, Adayfi said he made the statement because "I felt that no matter what I said, they wouldn't release me or believe me.""I wanted to teach them that they couldn't kill us and torture us and expect us to love them for it," he wrote.His book, "Don't Forget Us Here," details much of this torture. He said that before being brought to Guantanamo, he was brought to a CIA black site, stripped naked, beaten and interrogated, before facing more of the same in the prison and struggling in solitary confinement. He describes undergoing hunger strikes — and being force fed — to get better conditions for detainees, an issue he remains passionate about now.A 'restraint chair' and other equipment of the type used in force-feeding detainees is seen during a media tour of Guantanamo Bay in 2016.REUTERS/Matt SpetalnickHis book also details unexpected positive moments.He recalls marveling over some creatures that found their way in, including an iguana he called Princess. He said Princess was the "only friend I talked to for weeks.""They tried to break us, to prove that we were animals. Instead we were proving we were human," he wrote.He also expresses sympathy for guards, describing them as cogs in a machine designed to break them.Adayfi wants to both move on from Guantanamo, and keep campaigning for prisoner rights.His focus is now finishing his master's degree, but "after that, I must leave this place," he said. "I need to leave soon because I'm starting to lose my mind. I live inside my head."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 22nd, 2021

House votes to censure GOP Rep. Paul Gosar after he tweeted an edited anime video that showed him killing AOC

Democrats have criticized the Republican lawmaker following his violent anime tweet aimed at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and President Joe Biden. Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona rides alone on a subway car to the Capitol Building on November 17, 2021.Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images The House on Wednesday voted to censure Rep. Paul Gosar and remove him from his committee assignments. The rebuke comes after Gosar posted an anime video edited that showed him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Just two Republicans joined Democrats in support of the resolution.  The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to censure Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona and remove him from his committee assignments after he posted an anime video that was edited to depict him killing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.Just two Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, joined all Democrats in a 223-207 vote in support of the censure resolution. GOP Rep. David Joyce voted "present." Censure refers to a formal condemnation of an elected official. Several House Democrats, including Ocasio-Cortez, expressed their support for the move ahead of Wednesday's vote."As leaders in this country, when we incite violence with depictions against our colleagues, that trickles down into violence in this country," Ocasio-Cortez said as lawmakers debated the resolution on the House floor. "That is where we must draw the line." Republicans, meanwhile, sought to portray the Democratic-led vote as an abuse of power, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy repeatedly invoking the phrase "rules for thee but not for me."In his own defense, Gosar said on Wednesday that "it was not my purpose to make anyone upset" and that "there is no threat" in the video he tweeted. It's the first time the House has voted to censure a member since 2010, when-Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel was rebuked over ethics violations.—Rep. Paul Gosar, DDS (@RepGosar) November 17, 2021 Gosar's anime video violated Twitter's 'hateful conduct' policyWednesday's rebuke comes after Gosar on November 7 posted a video on Twitter that depicted an edited version of the opening credits of a Japanese animated series called "Attack on Titan," a show that centers on a hero who fights giant creatures called Titans.In the 90-second clip, Gosar, along with fellow GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, are seen attacking the "Titan" characters. Gosar's face is superimposed over one character that kills a Titan with Ocasio-Cortez's face on it. Gosar's character also swings two swords at a Titan with Biden's face on it.The tweet was captioned: "Any anime fans out there?"Democrats swiftly condemned the video as Gosar glorifying violence against his own colleague and the president, and called for the Republican lawmaker to be punished. Ocasio-Cortez herself slammed Gosar in a tweet as "a creepy member" she works with who "shared a fantasy video of him killing me.""And he'll face no consequences bc @GOPLeader cheers him on with excuses," the New York lawmaker wrote, tagging McCarthy on Twitter.Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona arrives to his office on Capitol Hill on November 17, 2021.Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesTwitter flagged Gosar's tweet as a violation of its "hateful conduct" policies but did not remove the tweet because the company "determined that it may be in the public's interest for the Tweet to remain accessible," a spokesperson said. Gosar deleted the tweet on November 9.Gosar has sought to defend himself amid the backlash, saying that he does not endorse violence against Ocasio-Cortez and Biden. The video was meant to be "symbolic" of the GOP's fight against the Democratic party's agenda, particularly regarding immigration policy, he said."The cartoon depicts the symbolic nature of a battle between lawful and unlawful policies and in no way intended to be a targeted attack against Representative Cortez or Mr. Biden," Gosar said in a November 9 statement, misspelling Ocasio-Cortez's last name.On Tuesday, Gosar tried explaining the video in a GOP conference meeting, reportedly telling his colleagues, "I don't believe in violence against any member."Ahead of Wednesday's vote, Gosar also compared himself to Alexander Hamilton. "If I must join Alexander Hamilton, the first person attempted to be censured by this House, so be it. It is done," he said. The lawmaker appeared to be referencing when the House unsuccessfully tried to censure Hamilton while he served as the US's first Treasury Secretary.'We've got to act in a decisive fashion'Before the vote, House Republicans argued that stripping Gosar of his committee assignment would set a problematic precedent. McCarthy, for his part, has previously vowed to strip Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar of her committee assignments if the party regains the majority next year due to GOP allegations of anti-Semitism against her.Democrats have dismissed the argument. Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Hakeem Jeffries told Insider on Wednesday that "none of this would be an issue if Kevin McCarthy was willing to step up and hold his out-of-control members accountable.""I'm not gonna live my life in fear of what the out-of-control cover-up caucus may do at some hypothetical point in time in the future," he added. "We've got to act in a decisive fashion to make clear that violence against women is never acceptable."Omar was also dismissive of McCarthy's threat, characterizing it as "childish.""I don't really care for it," Omar told Insider. "The whataboutism is a distraction from the actual problem that they have in their caucus." Omar also said the censure vote was an issue of workplace safety. "The presence of many of my colleagues on the Republican side has made us feel less safe," she said.House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks with fellow Republicans on the House steps as the House debates censuring Rep. Paul Gosar on November 17, 2021 in Washington, DC.Win McNamee/Getty ImagesMcCarthy has largely defended Gosar in comments to reporters this week."He didn't see [the video] before it posted. It was not his intent to show any harm," McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday. "What I said to the conference was, [we] cannot accept any action or showing of a violence to another member."McCarthy has previously protected House Republicans despite pressure to reprimand them over their actions. Earlier this year, Democrats denounced Gosar over his connection to white nationalist Nick Fuentes. The lawmaker spoke at the America First Political Action conference, a far-right event led and attended by Fuentes, in February. Gosar was also pictured on a flyer of a fundraiser for Fuentes' organization in June. But Gosar denied having any ties to Fuentes, and McCarthy dismissed the matter.Gosar has been embroiled in other controversies in recent months, from claiming that the 2020 election was "stolen" to downplaying the violent January 6 insurrection. Gosar was criticized by lawmakers of both parties after he blamed the death of Capitol rioter Ashli Babbitt on police.The rebuke also comes months after House Democrats voted to strip fellow far-right lawmaker Greene from her committee assignments in February. That vote came in response to the Georgia congresswoman's past support on social media for right-wing conspiracy theories and political violence. McCarthy, at the time, accused Democrats of a "partisan power grab."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 17th, 2021

The timeline of Trump"s ties with Russia lines up with allegations of conspiracy and misconduct

Trump listens to a question from a reporter at a campaign fundraiser at the home of car dealer Ernie Boch Jr. in Norwood, Massachusetts August 28, 2015.REUTERS/Brian SnyderPresident Donald Trump and several associates continue to draw intense scrutiny for their ties to the Russian government.A dossier of unverified claims alleges serious conspiracy and misconduct in the final months of the 2016 presidential campaign.  The White House has dismissed the dossier as fiction, and most of the claims remain unverified. The timeline of major events, however, lines up.The document includes one particularly explosive allegation — that the Trump campaign agreed to minimize US opposition to Russia's incursions into Ukraine in exchange for the Kremlin releasing negative information about Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton. The timing of events supporting this allegation also lines up.Editor's note: This article was updated after a Nov. 3, 2021 federal indictment accused Igor Danchenko, a Russia expert who contributed to the so-called Steele dossier, of lying to investigators about receiving information from Sergei Millian. Millian repeatedly denied he was a source for any material in the dossier.The timeline of claims made in an unsubstantiated dossier presented by top US intelligence officials to President Donald Trump and senior lawmakers last month has increased scrutiny of events that unfolded in the final months of the Trump campaign.The dossier alleges serious misconduct and conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia's government. The White House has dismissed the dossier as fiction, and some of the facts and assertions it includes have indeed been proven wrong.Other allegations in the dossier, however, are still being investigated. According to a recent CNN report, moreover, US intelligence officials have now corroborated some of the dossier's material. And this corroboration has reportedly led US intelligence officials to regard other information in the dossier as more credible.Importantly, the timeline of known events fits with some of the more serious alleged Trump-Russia misconduct described in the dossier. And questions about these events have not been fully answered, including the sudden distancing of Trump associates from the campaign and administration as the events and Russia ties became public.The dossier's allegations of Trump-Russia ties and conspiracyThe dossier was compiled by veteran British spy Christopher Steele, who was hired to investigate Trump's ties to Russia by the Washington, DC-based opposition research firm Fusion GPS. Steele developed a network of sources while working on the Moscow desk of UK intelligence agency MI6.Steele, citing these sources heavily, wrote a series of memos detailing alleged coordination between the Kremlin and Trump's campaign team. Fusion then compiled the information into a 35-page dossier that has been circulated among lawmakers, journalists, and the US intelligence community since last year. The dossier was published in January by BuzzFeed.Fusion was initially hired by anti-Trump Republicans to conduct opposition research on Trump in late 2015, and Democrats took over funding for the project after the Republicans pulled out. Fusion's cofounder, Glenn Simpson, a former investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal, continued the project with Steele even after Democrats pulled funding when Trump won the election.Trump and his inner circle have condemned the dossier as "fake and fictitious."But US investigators, who have opened investigations into several members of Trump's inner circle and their ties to Russia over the past year, say they have been able to corroborate some of the details in the dossier by intercepting some of the conversations between some senior Russian officials and other Russians, CNN reported on Friday. That has given the investigators "greater confidence" in the credibility of the some aspects of the memos, CNN's sources said.Events that unfolded in the final months of the election — especially as they related to key players linked to and within Trump's inner circle — are illuminated by some of the allegations contained in the dossier. Four of these players and their role in these events warrant closer examination.Skye Gould/Business InsiderPaul Manafort: A language change on Ukraine, and a resignationAn American consultant named Paul Manafort, who was mentioned throughout Steele's dossier, served as Donald Trump's campaign manager until August 2016. He is said to have close ties to Ukraine and Russia. What the dossier saysThe dossier alleges that the Trump campaign made a secret deal with Russia in which Trump "agreed to sideline" the issue of Russian intervention in Ukraine. In return, the document claims, Russia promised to feed the emails it stole from prominent Democrats' inboxes to WikiLeaks to damage Hillary Clinton's candidacy.The "well-developed conspiracy of cooperation between [the Trump campaign] and the Russian leadership was managed on the Trump side by the Republican candidate's campaign manager, Paul Manafort," the dossier says.Manafort had advised Russia-friendly Ukraine leader Viktor Yanukovych, who he helped win the Ukrainian presidency in 2010. The dossier alleges that Manafort was still receiving "kickback payments" from the former Ukrainian leader last year, a charge Manafort has denied.What happenedIn July 2016, while Manafort was still Donald Trump's campaign manager, a change was made to the Republican Party's policy on Ukraine. The change fits with the dossier's assertion that the Trump campaign agreed to soften US support for Ukraine in exchange for the Kremlin releasing damaging information about Hillary Clinton.The Republican National Committee's original draft language on Ukraine proposed sending "lethal weapons" to the Ukrainian army to fend off Russian aggression. But after a sub-committee meeting at the convention, the "lethal weapons" line was softened significantly and changed to "provide appropriate assistance."In this July 18, 2016, file photo, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort walks around the convention floor before the opening session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, FileAs Business Insider has previously reported, the circumstances around this language change are controversial.  The reason for the language change has also not been well explained.The Ukraine language change was orchestrated by two national-security experts sent to sit in on the subcommittee meeting on behalf of the Trump campaign, according to the original amendment's author, Diana Denman, who was also in the meeting.One of the Trump campaign representatives present at the meeting, JD Gordon, has since denied intervening in the platform hearing. Gordon has also denied that Trump or Manafort were involved in the language change and that there was anything nefarious about it.A member of the Republican National Committee present at the meeting, however, confirmed to Business Insider that the change "definitely came from Trump staffers."The altered Ukraine policy amendment, with the softer language, ultimately was included in the new GOP platform. A few days later, WikiLeaks began publishing the emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign. The timing coincided with the start of the Democratic National Convention the following week.A month after the Republican convention, on August 14, The New York Times reported new details about Trump campaign manager Manafort's involvement with Ukraine. The paper reported that Ukraine leader Yanukovych's pro-Russia political party had earmarked $12.7 million for Manafort for his work between 2007-2012. Manafort has said he never collected the payments. The New York Times story thrust the Trump campaign's connections with Russia into the international spotlight. Five days later, on August 19, for reasons that are still unclear, Manafort resigned as Trump's campaign manager. The dossier further alleges that Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, became concerned when Yanukovych informed him on August 16 — two days after the Times report was published — of "kickback payments" being funneled to Manafort. This was three days before Manafort resigned from the Trump campaign.Michael Flynn: A trip to Moscow, a distraction from Ukraine, and secret phone callsMichael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, is now Trump's national security adviser. Flynn was paid by the Kremlin to speak at a gala in December 2015, and is believed to have regularly communicated with the Russian ambassador to the US before Trump was sworn in.What the dossier saysAccording to the dossier, a Kremlin official involved in US relations said that Russia attempted to cultivate US political figures by "funding indirectly their recent visits to Moscow."These political figures, the dossier alleges, included "a delegation from Lyndon LaRouche, presidential candidate Jill Stein of the Green Party, Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page, and former DIA director Michael Flynn." The dossier went on to say that the effort to cultivate these figures had been "successful in terms of perceived outcomes."In this file photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin, center right, with retired U.S. Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, center left, and Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica, obscured second right, attend an exhibition marking the 10th anniversary of RT (Russia Today) 24-hour English-language TV news channel in Moscow, Russia.Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via APThe dossier alleges that the Trump campaign pledged to "raise defense commitments in the Baltics and Eastern Europe to deflect attention away from Ukraine." Recent reporting indicates that Flynn, now Trump's national security advisor, is poised to make good on that pledge.What happenedIn December 2015, Flynn, then recently retired from the Defense Intelligence Agency, traveled to Moscow to speak at a gala celebrating the 10th anniversary of state-sponsored news agency Russia Today.Flynn later told The Washington Post that he had been paid to speak at the gala, where he was photographed sitting next to Putin at dinner.Top Democratic lawmakers are now calling on the Defense Department to investigate whether Flynn ran afoul of the US Constitution by accepting money from the Kremlin. Since the dinner in Moscow, Flynn has toed a Russia-friendly line that's out of line with his more hawkish former US defense colleagues. He has appeared on Russia Today (RT) several times as a commentator. He also suggested last year that he saw no difference between the state-run RT and other news networks like CNN, MSNBC, and Al Jazeera.One of Flynn's appearances on RT in October 2015 ran under the headline: "Former DIA Chief Michael Flynn Says Rise Of ISIS Was A 'Willful Decision' Of US Government."Michael Flynn.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesLast Tuesday, Politico reported that Flynn will recommend that Trump support the ascension of Montenegro, a small Balkan nation, into NATO. Russia officially opposes such a move. But it aligns with the dossier's suggestion that the Trump White House would support raising commitments "in the Baltics and Eastern Europe to deflect attention away from Ukraine."Last Thursday, moreover, both The Washington Post and The New York Times reported that Flynn had spoken with Russia's ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, about the US economic sanctions on Russia before Trump was sworn in — including at least one call on the day President Barack Obama imposed new penalties on Russia for its election-related meddling.Both Flynn and Vice President Mike Pence initially denied that Flynn and Kislyak discussed US sanctions during these calls. But counterintelligence officials told the Times that they have transcripts of the conversations and that the sanctions were discussed. Flynn has since backtracked on his denial, saying that he doesn't recall exactly what they spoke about.Carter Page: Two trips to Moscow, and a 'leave of absence'Carter Page, a former investment banker with Merrill Lynch, was an early foreign policy adviser to Trump. Page also served as an adviser "on key transactions" for Russia's state-owned energy giant Gazprom before setting up his own energy investment fund, Global Energy Capital, with former Gazprom executive Sergei Yatesenko.What the dossier saysThe dossier claims that Carter Page was used by Manafort as an "intermediary" between the campaign and high-level Kremlin officials.Specifically, the dossier alleges that Page traveled to Moscow in July 2016, where he met with the president of Russia's state oil company Rosneft, Igor Sechin. An associate of Sechin's, the dossier claims, "said that the Rosneft President was so keen to lift personal and corporate Western sanctions imposed on the company, that he offered Page and his associates the brokerage of up to a 19 percent (privatised) stake in Rosneft."The dossier says that Page "expressed interest" in the offer but was "noncommittal." It also says that Page promised that "sanctions on Russia would be lifted" if Trump were elected.What happenedThe timing of the alleged meeting between Page and Sechin aligns with a Page trip to Moscow in July 2016, where he delivered the commencement speech for the New Economic School."Washington and other Western capitals have impeded potential progress through their often hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change," Page said in the speech, which was heavily critical of NATO, the US, and other Western countries. In this Friday, July 8, 2016, file photo, Carter Page, then adviser to U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, speaks at the graduation ceremony for the New Economic School in Moscow, Russia.Associated Press/Pavel GolovkinPage has criticized the US sanctions on Russia as "sanctimonious expressions of moral superiority," and he praised Rosneft CEO Sechin in May 2014 for his "accomplishments" in advancing US-Russia relations.Page was in Moscow for three days in mid-July. It's unclear what he did or who he met with before and after giving the speech, but Yahoo's Michael Isikoff, citing a Western intelligence source, reported in September that Page met with Igor Sechin during his trip.As happened with Paul Manafort, Page's role within the Trump campaign changed after news of his Russia connections became public. Page, who denied meeting with any sanctioned officials while he was in Russia, took "a leave of absence" from the Trump campaign shortly after the Yahoo report. The Trump campaign subsequently distanced itself from Page.Rosneft, meanwhile, ultimately signed a deal that was similar to the one the dossier described: On December 7, the oil company sold 19.5% of shares, worth roughly $11 billion, to the multinational commodity trader Glencore Plc and Qatar's state-owned wealth fund. Page was back in Moscow on December 8, one day after the deal was signed, to "meet with some of the top managers" of Rosneft, he told reporters at the time.Page's extensive business ties to state-owned Russian companies were investigated by a counterintelligence task force set up last year by the CIA, according to several media reports. The investigation, which is reportedly ongoing, has examined whether Russia was funneling money into Trump's presidential campaign — and, if it was, who was serving as the liaison between the Trump team and the Kremlin.Sergei Millian: From touting Trump to downplaying tiesSergei Millian, a Belarus-born businessman who is now a US citizen, founded the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce in 2006. He has described himself as an exclusive broker for Trump's family business, the Trump Organization, with respect to real-estate dealings in Russia.What the dossier saysOne of the dossier's sources, "Source E," told a compatriot in July 2016 that the "conspiracy of cooperation" between Russia and Trump involved hacking prominent Democrats. The hacking campaign "depended on key people in the US Russian émigré community for its success," the dossier states.The Kremlin recruited "hundreds of agents" both in Russia and in the US who were either "consciously cooperating with the FSB or whose personal and professional IT systems had been compromised," the dossier says, citing "a number of Russian figures with a detailed knowledge of national cyber crime.""Many were people who had ethnic and family ties to Russia and/or had been incentivized financially to cooperate," the dossier says. Source E allegedly told his compatriot that agents were compensated by "consular officials in New York, DC, and Miami," who issued "pension disbursements to Russian émigrés living in the US as cover...tens of thousands of dollars were involved."In return for this effort, the dossier says, Putin wanted information from Trump on Russian oligarchs living in the US, Source E said.  The same source is quoted in the dossier as saying the Trump campaign was "relatively relaxed" about the attention on Trump's reported ties to Russia "because it deflected media and the Democrats' attention away from Trump's business dealings in China.""Unlike in Russia, these [dealings] were substantial and involved the payment of large bribes and kickbacks which, were they to become public, would be potentially very damaging to their campaign."What happenedThe CIA established a US counterintelligence task force last spring to investigate whether the Trump campaign received funds from Russia. John Brennan, the former director of the CIA, also received a recording of a conversation last year from one of the Baltic states' intelligence agencies suggesting that money from the Kremlin had gone to the Trump campaign, the BBC reported."Source E," according to recent reports by the Wall Street Journal and ABC, is Sergei Millian.Millian, who attended several black-tie events at Trump's inauguration last month, denies this. Following the now-common Trump White House communications strategy, he told Business Insider that the author of the Wall Street Journal report "is the mastermind behind fake news." More doubt about Millian's connection to the dossier emerged in a Nov. 3, 2021 federal indictment that charged Igor Danchenko, a Russia expert who contributed to the Steele dossier, with lying to investigators about receiving information for the dossier from Millian.Millian described himself as an "exclusive" broker for the Trump Organization's real-estate dealings in Russia in an interview with Russian news agency RIA Novosti last April. "I think partnership is based on friendship, mutual respect and mutual understanding, and business is based on buyer-seller relationships," he said of his work with the Trump Organization.But Millian appears to have begun downplaying his ties to the Trump Organization after Western reporters started digging into Trump's Russia ties last summer. Whereas Millian told RIA that he had been in touch with the Trump Organization as late as April 2016, he said in an email to Business Insider that the last time he worked on a Trump brand project was "in Florida around 2008." He did not respond to a request to clarify the discrepancy.Millian, on his LinkedIn page, says he is the Vice President of the World Chinese Merchants Union Association. He wrote last April that he traveled to Beijing to meet with a Chinese official and the Russian ambassador to the Republic of San Marino. Millian has also worked with Rossotrudnichestvo, a Russian government organization whose "fundamental" goal is to familiarize "young people from different countries" with Russian culture through exchange trips to Moscow. The FBI has investigated whether Rossotrudnichestvo is a front for the Russian government to cultivate "young, up-and-coming Americans as Russian intelligence assets" — a theory Rossotrudnichestvo has strongly denied.In December 2011, Millian wrote to Dmitry Medvedev, then the Russian president, to thank him "on behalf of the fifty American entrepreneurs invited by Rossotrudnichestvo to attend the first edition of the Russian-American Business Forum in Moscow."Last month, however, Millian told Mother Jones he "never got any business with Rossotrudnichestvo." He did not respond to requests from Business Insider to clarify that discrepancy, either.Millian told ABC last July that he is "one of those very few people who have insider knowledge of Kremlin politics who has the ability to understand the Russian mentality and who has been able to successfully integrate in American society.""American citizens voted for President Trump and thus performed God's will," Millian told Business Insider in an email on Thursday. "Your salvation is to pray for good health for the US President Trump and give your best efforts to help him make our country great again."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 16th, 2021

Joe Biden & The Disappearing Elephant: How To Make A Full-Sized Scandal Vanish In Front Of An Audience Of Millions

Joe Biden & The Disappearing Elephant: How To Make A Full-Sized Scandal Vanish In Front Of An Audience Of Millions Authored by Jonathan Turley, This week marked the anniversary of one of the greatest political tricks in history: the disappearance of Hunter Biden scandal.  New emails were released that added new details to what was a raw influence peddling operation that netted millions from foreign sources. A new tranche of emails connecting President Joe Biden to key accounts prove just how this political sleight of hand was worthy of Houdini. After all, Houdini only made an elephant disappear. The Bidens made the equivalent to an entire circus disappear in front of an audience of millions. How Houdini made his 10,000 pound elephant Jennie disappear every night in New York’s Hippodrome remains a matter of some debate. There are no good pictures of his famous cabinet and Houdini later threatened to sue those claiming “disappearing elephants.”  What is clear is that the sheer size and the audacity of the act (like that of the Bidens) contributed to the trick. The fact is that Jennie never left the large cabinet, people just didn’t see it. The Bidens achieved the same effect. They made a full-sized scandal disappear with the help of media and members who did not want the public to see it.  Twitter banned postings about the laptop until after Biden was elected. The media dismissed the story as a conspiracy theory with some mocking the “New York Post and everyone else who got suckered into the ridiculous Hunter Biden Laptop story. Take a bow.” Committee Chairman Adam Schiff assured that public that “this whole smear on Joe Biden comes from the Kremlin.” Some 50 former intelligence officials, including Obama’s CIA directors John Brennan and Leon Panetta, also insisted the laptop story was likely the work of Russian intelligence. The laptop is, of course, now recognized as genuine even by some of the early deniers. Hunter remains under criminal investigation for possible tax and money laundering violations. But the greatest “reveal” is the person referred to as “the Big Guy” and “Celtic” in these emails: President Biden. Recently released emails reference payments to President Biden from son’s accounts and indicate the possible commingling of funds.  Even more embarrassing, the shared account may have been used to pay a Russian prostitute named “Yanna.” In one text, a former secret service agent warns Hunter (who was holed up with a prostitute in an expensive hotel) “Come on H this is linked to Celtic’s account.” The question is whether prosecutors will continue to act like they do not see the elephant. Consider these established facts: First, it is widely believed that Hunter Biden and his uncle James Biden, received millions in influence peddling. For his part, Hunter only had influence and access to sell. He admits that he was a crack addict and alcoholic all the way up to the start of his father’s presidential campaign — in his words, “Drinking a quart of vodka a day by yourself in a room is absolutely, completely debilitating,” as well as “smoking crack around the clock.” Second, Joe Biden has continued to deny knowledge or involvement in these foreign dealings and those denials are now directly contradicted by emails and witnesses. Hunter himself contradicted his father’s repeated denials. Likewise, a key business associate of Hunter Biden, Anthony Bobulinski, directly accused Joe Biden of lying about his involvement. Bobulinski has detailed a meeting with Joe Biden in a hotel to go over the dealings. Past emails included discussions of offering access to then-Vice President Biden. They also include alleged payments to Joe Biden. In one email, there is a discussion of a proposed equity split of “20” for “H” and “10 held by H for the big guy?” Bobulinski confirmed that “H” was used for Hunter Biden and that his father was routinely called “the big guy” in these discussions. Third, while he was vice president, Joe Biden allowed Hunter to fly on Air Force 2 to countries like China where he was seeking millions. He also met with Hunter’s foreign business associates. In 2015, a State Department official flagged the possible conflicts from Hunter’s dealings during the Obama Administration. Fourth, new emails suggest a commingling of funds between Hunter and his father. Emails from Eric Schwerin, his business partner at the Rosemont Seneca consultancy, refer to the payment of household bills for both Joe Biden and Hunter Biden. He also notes that he was transferring money from Joe Biden. Rosemont Seneca is directly involved in the alleged influence peddling schemes and questionable money transfers from Chinese and Russian sources. Finally, Hunter himself admitted that his missing computers files may have been stolen by foreign agents for blackmail purposes. Hunter’s emails claim one of his laptops may have been stolen by Russian agents after a drug and alcohol binge with prostitutes. Given the ongoing criminal prosecution, that would seem an ample basis for the appointment of a special counsel. The President is mentioned repeatedly in emails and by witnesses in relation to influence peddling schemes and even receiving funds from shared accounts. He has also denied knowledge that key witnesses refute, including his son. Influence peddling is common in Washington and can be done legally. Yet, it has also been the subject of intense criminal investigations. For example, the FBI raided the home of Trump counsel Rudolph Giuliani and others based on allegations of influence peddling in an ongoing criminal investigation. The Justice Department wants to know if Giuliani secured contracts in exchange for access or influence. The media gleefully recounted the raids and how Giuliani may have cashed in on his access. It seems that the illusion depends on the specific elephant. Houdini once said that “It is still an open question . . . as to what extent exposure really injures a performer.” The same question can be asked about a politician. President Biden is in full display in these emails. The question is whether the public – or the prosecutors – want to see him. Tyler Durden Wed, 10/20/2021 - 21:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 20th, 2021

Trump lawyers argue US government should take his place in a defamation lawsuit filed by rape accuser E Jean Carroll, reports say

Trump attorneys told a federal appeals court that he was acting in his official capacity as president when he made the remarks about E. Jean Carroll. Trump rape accuser E. Jean Carroll (L), Former President Donald Trump (R).Eva Deitch/Getty Images (L), Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images (R). Trump attorneys argued that the US government should replace him as defendant in a defamation case. The lawsuit was filed by rape accuser E Jean Carroll after Trump said that she was lying and "not my type." Attorneys said he was not dodging personal liability, but wanted to defend future presidents from legal claims. Lawyers of former President Donald Trump argued on Friday that the US government should take his place as the defendant in a defamation lawsuit filed by rape accuser E Jean Carroll, reports say. The argument, made before a federal appeals court, hinges upon the claim that Trump was acting in his official capacity as president when he made remarks about Carroll to the media, the Associated Press reported.In 2019, columnist E Jean Carroll published an account accusing Trump of raping her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the mid-1990s.Carroll said she met Trump in the luxury Manhattan department store, and agreed to help him select a present for a girl after he asked her for advice. She wrote that Trump assaulted her after entering a dressing room with him inside the store. "The moment the dressing-room door is closed, he lunges at me, pushes me against the wall, hitting my head quite badly, and puts his mouth against my lips," she wrote. "The next moment, still wearing correct business attire, shirt, tie, suit jacket, overcoat, he opens the overcoat, unzips his pants, and, forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway — or completely, I'm not certain — inside me. It turns into a colossal struggle."She sued him for defamation in federal court in November 2019 after he denied the allegations and said Carroll was "not my type" and accused her of fabricating the story to sell more books. The former president's attorneys told judges that he was not trying to dodge personal liability but that he wants to keep future presidents from being burdened by legal claims, The Guardian reported."This is not about being a Democrat or a Republican. It is solely to protect the presidency as an institution," Trump attorney Alina Habba said, according to the outlet.Federal law makes it difficult to sue US government employees for actions relating to their jobs.If the court accepts the argument that Trump was acting as a government worker when he made the comments about Carroll, it could lead to the dismissal of the case.According to AP, judges posed multiple questions on Friday about the private and public conduct of the commander-in-chief. They also questioned whether presidents should constantly mind their language for fear of legal responsibility.Habba claimed that Trump was "on the defensive" because Carroll's accusations essentially questioned his fitness for office, the outlet said.Carroll's lawyers argued that Trump's response went beyond any job obligation. "A White House job is not a promise of an unlimited prerogative to brutalize someone who was a victim of a prior attack," attorney Joshua Matz said, according to AP.Justice Department lawyer Mark Freeman told the court on Friday that he wasn't out to "defend or justify" Trump's "crude and offensive" comments."I'm here because any president facing a public accusation of this kind, with the media very interested, would feel obliged to answer questions from the public, answer questions from the media," Freeman said, according to the outlet.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider16 hr. 59 min. ago

Trump attorney John Eastman"s own think tank just published a book review ripping his memos about how Pence could have kept Trump in power

John Eastman's think tank, the Claremont Institute, recently published a book review article criticizing his memos for keeping Donald Trump in office. John Eastman (left) joined Rudy Giuliani at the Trump rally that preceded the January 6 attack on the Capitol.REUTERS/Jim Bourg John Eastman's think tank published a 'critique' of his memos for Donald Trump to stay in office. The book review article also slammed the Claremont Institute for defending the conservative academic. Eastman has invoked the 5th Amendment in the face of scrutiny from the House January 6 committee. Within weeks of January 6, the conservative legal scholar John Eastman began to pay a price professionally for emerging as a key figure in then-President Donald Trump's last-ditch bid to remain in power.In the face of protests that he helped incite the Capitol attack, he resigned from Chapman University in California and was barred by the University of Colorado from speaking as a representative of the Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization, where he was a visiting professor. It left Eastman with one last official role: senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank in Southern California.But even that think tank has now contributed to the chorus of criticism.A book review published by the Claremont Institute recently published a "critique" of memos Eastman prepared laying out steps that then-Vice President Mike Pence could take in January to keep Trump in office.  Eastman's memo was obtained by CNN in September after first coming to light in "Peril," a book by the Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.In the article, titled "A Critique of the Eastman Memos," Claremont McKenna College professor Joseph Bessette ripped Eastman's assertion that Pence could have intervened to keep Trump in power by delaying the January 6 certification of now-President Joe Biden's victory. A response from Eastman accompanied the article.Bessette focused on a passage in Eastman's memo laying out a scenario in which Pence would reject disputed electors, with the remaining votes giving Trump a majority."It is hardly a surprise that this paragraph set off alarms in the media, and has been the focus of intense criticism from legal scholars and others," Bessette wrote."One doesn't have to be a scholar of the American Founding, a professor of constitutional law, or an expert in election law to know that this simply cannot be right," he added.Bessette, whose college is not affiliated with the Claremont Institute, declined to comment. His article was featured on the cover of the latest issue of the Claremont Review of Books.Eastman has met substantial scrutiny as new details have emerged about Trump's final weeks in the White House, a period in which the president pressured the Justice Department to advance his baseless claims of election fraud and find ways to reverse his defeat to Biden. Prominent lawyers have called for the state bar of California to mount a professional misconduct investigation into Eastman, and the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol subpoenaed him to testify and turn over records.On Wednesday, Eastman's lawyer responded to the committee saying that he would invoke his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination, Politico reported.Amid that scrutiny, the Claremont Institute has defended Eastman. Bessette criticized the think tank for taking that approach."Because I am a constitutionalist and a political conservative, it particularly pains me that the Claremont Institute, whose vital mission it is 'to restore the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life,' has, with its public statement of October 11, basically circled the wagons, blaming 'disinformation,' 'almost universally false news accounts,' 'deliberate misrepresentations,' and 'false and slanderous statements' for the controversy that followed the release of the memos," he wrote.Eastman declined a request from Insider to comment on the article. In his published response, Eastman addressed Bessette's criticism of the Claremont Institute's continued defense of a lawyer whose memos have been condemned as a blueprint for a coup."While I certainly appreciate the Institute's ongoing support, I would hope that giving me a platform to defend my views is not based on some undue sense of loyalty, for I would neither ask for nor deserve such loyalty if I had sought to overthrow the legitimate government of the United States, as I have been falsely accused of doing," he wrote. "As I have previously noted, trying to prevent illegal conduct from deciding an election is not a 'coup.'"Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 3rd, 2021

The Philippines" presidential election heats up with boxer Manny Pacquiao and the former dictator"s son among 5 surprising candidates duking it out for control

As President Rodrigo Duterte's six-year term comes to an end, here are five front-runners who have emerged in a bid to replace him. From left: Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., Manny Pacquiao, Panfilo Lacson, Francisco Domagoso, and Leni Robredo.L to R: Gregorio B. Dantes Jr./Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images, TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images, NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images, Ezra Acayan/Getty Images, Ezra Acayan/Getty Images The Philippines' presidential election is set for May, and all candidates have filed for the race. The candidates include boxer Manny Pacquiao, the son of a reviled dictator, and a former teen actor. President Rodrigo Duterte has already stirred the pot, saying one of the front-runners uses cocaine. With the deadline for candidacy elapsing on November 15, we compiled a list of the front-runners who have emerged in the lead-up to the Philippines' May presidential election.Perhaps the most notable among them are the son of a former dictator, a teen actor turned senator, the senator and champion boxer Manny Pacquiao, and an ex-police general once on Interpol's most-wanted list.Campaigning isn't set to start until February, but the theatrics have already begun. President Rodrigo Duterte has joined in, saying in a recent speech that a candidate "who might win hands down" used cocaine. When reporters asked him whom he was referring to, he demurred.The country's constitution blocks Duterte from running for president again. As his six-year term — characterized by his hardhanded style and controversial war on drugs — comes to an end next year, the nation is watching keenly for who will replace him.The Philippines has long struggled with political corruption and instability in the wake of a 1986 revolution that deposed the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. It ranked 115th out of 180 countries in the 2020 Corruption Perception Index run by Transparency International and has for decades consistently charted well below the World Bank's median for political stability.And unlike in the US, Philippine political parties are generally weak, and politicians can switch sides with little consequence, experts told Insider.Here are five notable and leading candidates for the May election in the Philippines.The dictator's son: Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr.Marcos, a former senator and son of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos on October 5, 2017.Noel Celis/AFP via Getty ImagesFerdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is the son of the dictator Marcos Sr., who ruled the Philippines for 25 years until he was ousted by an uprising in 1986. After years of torturing, killing, and displacing thousands of Filipinos under martial law, Marcos Sr. went into exile in Hawaii with his family, where he died three years later.After his father died, Marcos was permitted to return to the Philippines, where he later served as a governor and a senator. He ran for vice president in 2016 — endorsed by his mother, Imelda — but was beaten by the lawyer Leni Robredo, who's also running for president in the upcoming election."His family has spent quite a lot in rehabilitating their image and promoting revisionist versions of Philippine history and the legacy of the late dictator," professor Maria Ela Atienza, the chair of the department of political science at the University of the Philippines, told Insider.He commands a cultlike following in the Philippines, especially among younger voters who may not have had as much direct contact with his father's government, professor Jorge Tigno, who also teaches political science at the University of the Philippines, said.Tigno considers him one of the race's strongest candidates."He may not get a majority, but he can, at least, at this point, get a plurality to win," the professor said.Sara Duterte-Carpio, the daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte, announced that she would be Marcos' running mate.Manman Dejeto / AFP via Getty ImagesMarcos has benefited from one of the biggest twists so far in the race: Sara Duterte-Carpio, the current president's daughter, who was thought to be a powerhouse candidate for the presidency, announced on November 16 that she would be Marcos' running mate as vice president.The vice president and president are elected separately in the Philippines, but the alliance allows both sides to tap each other's voter bases — Marcos is popular in the northern part of the country, while the Dutertes are favored in the south.Human-rights groups decried Marcos' candidacy and filed a petition to stop him from running, but there has been no result. As to how he got his nickname, Atienza said: "Bongbong" is a common name given to people named after their fathers.The boxing champion: Manny 'PacMan' PacquiaoPacquiao.Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesIn September, the world-champion boxer Pacquiao put down his gloves for good, announcing his retirement in a YouTube video that transitions into a hip-hop music video.Pacquiao lived on the streets and worked construction as a young teenager but is now worth $26 million, according to Forbes. His rag-to-riches story has earned him folk-hero status among Filipinos, but Tigno said he lacked a serious political network and largely relied on giving out cash to sway voters."I don't even think his own supporters are that serious in making sure he wins," he said. "They just want a slice of his boxing winnings."And Pacquiao has a poor political track record. He was the most absent member of the Senate."Beyond populist promises like jailing corrupt officials, he lacks concrete programs and policies," Atienza said. Duterte once saw Pacquiao as a prospective successor and close friend, but the pair had a falling out after the latter criticized Duterte's pandemic response and relationship with China. That led the president to publicly scold the boxing champ.Overall, Tigno and Atienza said the boxing icon didn't stand much of a chance at winning the election.The teen actor: Francisco Domagoso, aka Isko MorenoDomagoso, Manila City's mayor, delivers his state of the city address at Manila City Hall on July 15.Ezra Acayan/Getty ImagesFrancisco Domagoso is serving his first term as the mayor of Manila, the Philippines' capital. But Domagoso, who goes by the stage name Isko Moreno, was also a teen actor who came from humble beginnings, growing up in the slums like Pacquiao did. As a teen, Domagoso hosted the popular Filipino variety show "That's Entertainment" and appeared in several films. During the 1990s, Domagoso starred in what Filipinos called "titillating films," a "mature" genre popular at the time. He moved into politics in '98 and got his start as a city councilor. He was elected as Manila's mayor in 2019.As mayor, he has focused on reviving Manila's tourism industry and image, which has earned him the favor of the capital's residents, Atienza said.He's been branded as a "Duterte-lite" figure because he employed the same campaign team as Duterte and is campaigning off his record as a mayor, while aligning with populist ideologies, she added.But Tigno said he believed running may be a mistake. With only one mayoral term under his belt, Domagoso's reputation isn't as well-established as it could be."He could have run for another two terms and solidify his hold on the city, as well as on the national psyche, but he instead chose to run for a national position," Tigno said.He added: "His popularity at this time is simply no match to the cult status enjoyed by Marcos Jr. And while he may be able to command a significant portion of his Manila constituents, I don't think it would be enough."The police general: Panfilo 'Ping' LacsonLacson during a press conference at the Senate in Manila on March 28, 2011.NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty ImagesPanfilo "Ping" Lacson has been serving on and off in the Philippines Senate since 2001. Before that, he served as the director general of the police from 1998 to 2001.Hailed as an enforcer who spurned bribes and cracked down on corruption, Lacson gained a celebritylike status for his reforms, such as requiring cops to trim their waistlines to 86 centimeters and posting corrupt officers to dangerous areas with high levels of rebel presence.A movie was even made about him in 2000, titled "Ping Lacson: Super Cop." After he retired from police work and was elected to the Senate in 2001, Lacson was accused by the military-intelligence chief Victor Corpus of laundering $700 million for then-President Joseph Estrada. He has denied the allegations and since been outspoken for stricter laws against money laundering.Lacson was also accused of involvement in the killings of 11 gang members in 1995, as well as the slaying of a well-known publicist and his driver, with the latter allegation putting him on Interpol's "red-notice" wanted list in 2010.But in 2013, the Supreme Court of the Philippines dismissed the gang-killing case against Lacson with finality. He was also taken off the red-notice list in 2011 after the Philippines dropped charges for the publicist's killing because it found that the main witness against Lacson was "unreliable."Lacson, having one failed a presidential bid from 2004, now hopes to win the race with promises of curbing illegal drugs, criminality, and corruption, which mirrors Duterte's 2016 campaign.Once an outspoken proponent of bringing the death penalty back to the Philippines, he's now changed his mind and wants to build a prison for criminals like the one on Alcatraz Island. He said that "prevention, rehabilitation, and correction" were a better route for combating criminal behavior, according to the local outlet Inquirer.netRecent polls indicate Lacson hasn't generated the popularity he needs to contest Marcos or other front-runners, said Tigno. The vice president and Duterte's nemesis: Leni RobredoRobredo with her daughters after filing her candidacy to join the 2022 presidential race on October 7.Ezra Acayan/Getty ImagesLeni Robredo is the vice president of the Philippines, serving alongside Duterte. But she's also been a fierce critic of his, regularly slamming his war on drugs and his pandemic response. In return, Duterte tried to exclude her from Cabinet meetings and pressured her to resign.The daughter of a regional-court judge, Robredo passed the bar in 1997 and worked in the public attorney's office before being elected to Congress in 2013. She supported antidiscrimination and anti-poverty movements and a Freedom of Information Act that increased public transparency of government funding and transactions.The presidential hopeful has been the target of several fake-news campaigns by other politicians and social-media influencers.One such incident was a doctored photo of politicians having dinner while appearing to laugh at her as she was on TV. Agence France-Presse has since debunked the image. And a fake viral video claimed she had been disqualified from the presidential race after she broke election rules."Robredo's numbers at the moment are not that high, but they are rising," Tigno said. "With a constant campaign movement behind her, she may end up matching, if not outrunning, Marcos Jr."Robredo has experience as a politician and vice president, but whether voters will appreciate those achievements is another thing altogether, he added."People want immediate positive results, and I don't think Robredo is able to make that kind of promise to people," he added. "She is too sincere with herself to allow herself to lie and twist the truth to people. That can be a problem for her in the end if she loses."But if she wins, it can mean a new lease on life for Philippine democracy."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytDec 2nd, 2021

Jan. 6 panel votes to recommend criminal charges against top Trump DOJ official who refused to cooperate with Capitol riot probe

Jeffrey Clark is the second Trump ally to face potential contempt charges, but his case could be tougher for the DOJ than Steve Bannon's. Former Acting Assistant US Attorney General Jeffrey Clark.Yuri Gripas / Getty Images The Jan. 6 select committee voted to make a criminal contempt referral for ex-Trump DOJ official Jeffrey Clark. Clark facilitated Trump's election subversion plot and refused to cooperate with the Jan. 6 committee. The DOJ previously indicted Steve Bannon on contempt charges after Congress referred him. The House select committee investigating the deadly Capitol riot voted late Wednesday to recommend criminal charges against a former top Justice Department official who refused to cooperate the panel's investigation.Jeffrey Clark joined the Justice Department's environmental protection division in 2018 and was acting assistant attorney general for the civil division until his departure earlier this year. He was also a key facilitator of then-President Donald Trump's efforts to subvert the 2020 election results, making him a critical witness for the select committee investigating the insurrection.Clark is the second person the select committee voted to recommend criminal charges against in connection with the January 6 investigation. Last month, it voted to make a contempt referral for Trump's former chief White House strategist Steve Bannon, who also refused to cooperate with the inquiry while citing Trump's executive privilege assertion.The full House of Representatives subsequently voted to advance the referral, and the Justice Department indicted Bannon on two misdemeanor counts of contempt of Congress last month. He pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors also accused Bannon earlier this week of trying to get media attention off of his case and asked a judge to restrict what evidence Bannon can release to the public.The January 6 select committee subpoenaed Clark for documents and testimony in October. He appeared before the committee early last month but gave lawmakers a letter from his attorney, Harry MacDonald, saying he would not answer any substantive questions, citing attorney-client privilege and Trump's executive privilege claims with respect to the investigation.MacDonald's letter also distanced Clark from the events of January 6, saying that he "informed me he worked from home that day to avoid wrestling with potential street closures to get to and from his office at Main Justice.""Nor did Mr. Clark have any responsibilities to oversee security at the Capitol or have the ability to deploy any Department of Justice personnel or resources there," it said.Lawmakers on the bipartisan select committee investigating the insurrection have made clear that they expect the Justice Department to enforce witness' compliance with subpoenas for records and testimony. But as Insider's C. Ryan Barber reported, Attorney General Merrick Garland could be faced with a much more difficult decision in Clark's case as opposed to Bannon's, which legal experts described as a slam-dunk for prosecutors.For one, Clark has a stronger argument as it relates to Trump's executive-privilege claims because both men were serving in the federal government at the time, unlike Bannon, who was ousted from the Trump White House in 2017. Clark is also a lawyer, which raises additional questions about attorney-client privilege concerning his conversations with Trump.The former president, for his part, doesn't appear likely to back off of his opposition to the committee's investigation. He asserted executive privilege over a trove of documents the committee requested from the White House, but the Biden administration declined to do the same and authorized the National Archives to turn the materials over to Congress.Trump filed a lawsuit to try to block Biden, and on Tuesday, his lawyers argued before a three-judge appeals court panel that, as the former president, he has the right to dictate which documents from his tenure Congress gets.But the panel appears unlikely to buy that argument."We have one president at a time under our Constitution," Judge Patricia Millett said during oral arguments. "That incumbent president … has made the judgment and is best positioned, as the Supreme Court has told us, to make that call as to the interests of the executive branch."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 1st, 2021

Teacher Unions, Parents Gird For 2022 Battles

Teacher Unions, Parents Gird For 2022 Battles Authored by Susan Crabtree via RealClearPolitics.com, Over the last year, school board meetings have become ground zero for the country’s culture wars as irate parents have showed up in droves to decry school COVID closures, mask mandates, and critical race theory, as well as transgender policies. After political analysts credited a parental uprising with helping Republican political newcomer Glenn Youngkin capture the Virginia governorship this month, these fights show no sign of easing. Both major political parties are already gearing up for next year’s midterm elections with Republicans sensing an advantage and Democrats digging in to defend beleaguered school boards, teacher unions, and the progressive policies they hold dear. This week, conservative parents and their supporters are expressing new outrage over news that the FBI is placing “threat tags” on individuals accused of harassing or trying to intimidate school board members and teachers. For months, disgruntled parents have angrily targeted school board trustees for recalls across the nation, regularly denouncing union control of the schools as the crux of the problem. Recall attempts against school board trustees have tripled in 2021, targeting at least 216 officials, according to Ballotpedia. But in at least one school district in Southern California, parents are warning their like-minded revolutionaries across the nation to be careful what they wish for and to get ready for a tough fight ahead. After gaining majority control of the local school board, they found themselves on the other side of the firing line with teacher unions vigorously targeting their trustee allies. A local affiliate of the California Teachers Association has spent months this year trying to wrest back control of the school board after some of its trustees successfully fought alongside parents to reopen schools earlier this year. The union’s actions, while flying below the national radar, were unusually aggressive.  They included spending up to $60,000 in union funds on a private firm to collect recall signatures against one trustee; successfully recalling the only African American on the board; and hiring a private investigator to follow the school board president home from meetings in an effort to challenge her residency within the district. Why is the union so focused on regaining control of this particular school board? For local parents, it’s no mystery. The answer is the ripple effect of pandemic politics. Frustrated by coronavirus lockdowns, a group of parents in North County San Diego founded an association and sued the state to overturn pandemic rules limiting the number of days of in-person learning or completely blocking some schools from reopening at all. In mid-March, San Diego Superior Court Judge Cynthia Freeland ruled in the association’s favor, prohibiting the state from enforcing its restrictions, which she agreed were “arbitrary,” interfered with school districts’ reopening plans for in-person instruction and denied children’s “fundamental right to basic education equality.” Moreover, in the absence of a contrary ruling by a higher court, the judge’s decision applied to the entire state, sending a clear message to the CTA (the biggest statewide union) and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration that their guidelines weren’t mandates and they must allow school districts to reopen more rapidly. The San Dieguito Union High School District, a high-performing area with 13,000 students and 600 teachers, had scheduled school re-openings for January 2021 but reversed course when the union sued in December to block that action. School board Trustee Michael Allman, who was elected to the board last fall, was the lone dissenting vote. Allman’s outspoken opposition won strong support from local parents organizing on a Facebook forum, a group that quickly grew to more than 2,000 supporters. Other board members, including President Maureen “Mo” Muir, had also started pushing back against COVID school closures. The San Dieguito Faculty Association, the local CTA affiliate, launched a recall campaign against Allman just five months into his four-year term. The union accused Allman, a former energy company executive, of violating the district’s code of conduct, charges he denies and that he believes arose from a public war of words over schools’ pandemic policies taking place on social media sites. The SDFA a few months ago gave itself permission to spend up to $60,000 hiring a private firm to gather 5,000 signatures needed to recall Allman. At least $14,500 of that came directly from the CTA. Yet, even with the private help, the union recently gave up and the recall failed to qualify. Allman had fought back, spending nearly all of his free time going door to door defending himself. He said he heard from supporters that recall signature gatherers were falsely accusing him of being under criminal investigation, among other “outlandish lies,” so he sent a cease-and-desist letter to SDFA President Duncan Brown. He says he’s still considering filing a defamation suit. “It’s hard to beat the unions. I prevailed because I have the support of parents who are speaking up like never before,” Allman said in an interview. “Put yourself in my shoes. Teachers are spreading lies about me in the community, so I went door-to-door with parents to say, ‘Hey, I’m a good guy, and I support parents.’” He says he had a roughly 50% conversion rate of area residents who said they had already signed the recall petition. (State rules allow for the rescinding of signatures.) But the SDFA, again with significant CTA help, successfully forced a special election for another seat on the school board, which was held by Ty Hume, the only African American member of the all-white panel. Hume, a businessman and openly declared independent, had been appointed after a union-backed trustee resigned earlier this year. Hume’s appointment gave non-union-aligned members a three-to-two majority on the board. The SDFA took issue with Hume’s appointment, arguing that voters should have had a say in his election. His opponents produced the necessary signatures to rescind the appointment and call a special election, costing the district up to $500,000 to hold. But the gambit worked: Hume was defeated by union-backed candidate Julie Bronstein, who out-fundraised him with donations from the SDFA, another public employee union, as well as the local congressman, Rep. Scott Peters. In a more bizarre twist, the same union hired a private investigator to follow Mo Muir home to see whether she was in fact living in the district she represented, as required by law. The private eye determined that the board president was renting out her home, which was up for sale, leading the local teacher union president to file a complaint with the district attorney. But Muir explained that she was spending time at the home of her elderly mother-in-law in Lake Tahoe during the height of the pandemic lockdowns. She sold her home but rented another within the district boundaries. The district attorney has yet to take any action; a spokeswoman said the office has a policy of declining to say whether it’s involved in an investigation. Brown declined an RCP interview request but provided a lengthy written statement, arguing that “democracy prevailed” because the union successfully ousted Hume, whom the board had appointed, and allowed residents to elect Bronstein, who won with nearly 60% of the vote. “While our efforts to recall Michael Allman did not result in activating a special election … we have been successful in highlighting Allman’s abuses of office to the broader community,” Brown said. He noted that the effort collected more than 4,000 signatures while thousands of other district residents “have been made aware of the dysfunction of our school board majority.” Brown didn’t respond to an RCP request to outline Allman’s “abuses of office” and whether he or anyone else in the union is responsible for the false information Allman says was circulating about him.  “SDFA will continue to stand for our students, our educators and our community,” he said. Area parents’ groups privately warn of a greater union backlash to come if reform groups successfully recall and replace school board trustees in large numbers across the country. Yet this is precisely what conservative groups are pledging to do nationally, although competing with the unions’ massive organization and deep pockets is a tall order for the newly energized patchwork of parents’ groups. A national group called 1776 Action, which promotes teaching children a traditional appreciation of America’s founding, is asking candidates and elected officials to sign a pledge calling for the restoration of an “honest, patriotic education.” The group is a conservative response to the New York Times’ 1619 project, which frames all of U.S. history through the prism of slavery. “2021 is really going to sort of be seen as kind of a canary in the coal mine of what’s coming down the pike next year and into the future,” Adam Waldeck, the group’s president, recently told the Associated Press. “This will be the year that I think primarily parents stand up and say, ‘You know, we have a voice, too.’ And I think it’s going to be overwhelming.” Kimberly Fletcher, the president and founder of Moms for America, another group organized to fight for school reopenings and against CRT and other liberal education policies, recently protested at the headquarters of the National School Boards Association in Alexandria, Va. Her organization, along with numerous other voices on the right, denounced a letter the NSBA sent to the Biden administration urging it to treat complaints aimed at school boards and teachers as possible acts of “domestic terrorism.” After a nationwide uproar, the group rescinded the letter and apologized to its members. Fletcher says she views the outsized role fed up parents played in the Virginia governor’s race as a “precursor of what’s to come” in the 2022 midterms. “I have been saying for years that the moment that moms find out what’s going on behind closed doors in our schools, there’s going to be a national revolt, and that’s exactly what’s going on,” she said. “We’re just getting started.”   In recent months, she said several members of her group have been running for spots on school boards and winning in places such as Texas and Idaho, as well as the swing states of Pennsylvania and Colorado. The moms group is providing training sessions for prospective board candidates and for newly elected trustees, which, Fletcher argued, is far more powerful than trying to compete dollar-to-dollar with unions. “Here’s the beauty of it — when you’re fighting for parents’ rights, you don’t need a lot of money to win,” she argued. “It’s a matter of principle.” Still, the well-oiled teacher union machine can be formidable, especially in more liberal areas of the country. While angry parents helped fuel Youngkin’s win in purple Virginia on Nov. 2, the same day the entire Denver school board flipped from trustees supported by education reform organizations to union-backed candidates. Tyler Durden Mon, 11/29/2021 - 21:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 29th, 2021

Why Crime Is Out Of Control In San Francisco

Why Crime Is Out Of Control In San Francisco Authored by Michael Shellenberger via Substack, San Franciscans get what they voted for with Chesa Boudin... When Chesa Boudin ran for San Francisco district attorney in 2019, he said crime was caused by poverty, wealth inequality and inadequate government spending on social programs. He called prostitution, open drug use and drug dealing “victimless crimes” and promised not to prosecute them. The result has been an increase in crime so sharp that San Francisco’s liberal residents are now paying for private security guards, taking self-defense classes, and supporting a recall of Mr. Boudin, with a vote set for June 2022. Retailers like Walgreens and Target are closing stores in the city, citing rampant shoplifting. Last week, a shockingly organized mob of looters ransacked a downtown Louis Vuitton store. Mr. Boudin and his defenders say crime in San Francisco has actually declined under his watch. The store closings had little to do with shoplifting, they insist; Walgreens announced in 2019 it would close stores as a cost-saving measure. And after the Louis Vuitton looting, Mr. Boudin talked tough on Twitter : “Standby for felony charges. Indeed, some crimes did decline, but for Covid-related reasons, while many other offenses increased. The pandemic crimped tourism, which meant fewer car break-ins and less shoplifting, but both are now on the rise. Car break-ins were 75% higher in May 2021 than in 2019, before the pandemic. While it’s true that official incidents of shoplifting haven’t increased under Mr. Boudin, the punishment has changed—and the bad guys appear to have gotten the message. In 2019, 40% of all shoplifting reports resulted in arrest; in 2021, under Mr. Boudin, only 19% did. Walgreens says shoplifting is five times as high, and security costs 50 times as high, in its San Francisco stores as the chainwide average. Why Crime Is Rising in San Francisco: A Video Explainerpic.twitter.com/Tc6TW4Eq9j — Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) November 28, 2021 Meantime, the charging rate for theft by Mr. Boudin’s office declined from 62% in 2019 to 46% in 2021; for petty theft it fell from 58% to 35%. San Francisco’s jail population has plummeted to 766 in 2021 from 2,850 in 2019. More than half of all offenders, and three-quarters of the most violent ones, who are released from jail before trial commit new crimes. Like other progressive prosecutors around the country, Mr. Boudin has expressed great antipathy toward the police. At his election-night party, a supporter led the crowd in a chant against the Police Officers’ Association: “F— the POA! F— the POA!” The San Francisco Police Department is short 400 officers and demoralized. A security video obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle last week appeared to show officers allowing a robbery of a marijuana dispensary. Total narcotics arrests declined by half from 2019 to 2021. Mr. Boudin has increased charges for some crimes. The charging rate for rape rose from 43% to 53%, and for narcotics dealing from 47% to 60%, even as it declined for theft, illegal weapons and assault. He appears to be following through on his promise to ignore quality-of-life crimes, but it’s also the case that the state has ordered local prosecutors to reduce prosecution of such crimes because of Covid. The solution to San Francisco’s problems is relatively straightforward. The city needs to shut down the drug scene by working with the federal government to deport dealers who are here illegally, most of whom are from Honduras; arrest addicts who camp and use drugs publicly and offer them rehab as an alternative to jail; and redevelop the squalid Tenderloin neighborhood, which, because of the influx of out-of-town addicts, fosters depravity and criminality affecting the entire city. The situation has degenerated to the point that an opportunity exists for moderates to wrest power away from progressives like Mr. Boudin and implement a sweeping, common-sense political agenda. What’s not clear is whether most San Franciscans want to do this, or could do it alone, without the involvement of California’s state government, which is sitting on a $31 billion budget surplus. San Francisco is an uberliberal place, and Mr. Boudin is only the latest in a long line of progressive prosecutors. In the mid-1990s voters elected Terence Hallinan, who had a history of illegal drug use and promised to stop arrests of street addicts and prostitutes. When Mr. Boudin blamed crime on inequality in 2019, his message landed on sympathetic ears. When he said he wouldn’t prosecute victimless crimes, he was singing a familiar hymn. It may be that Mr. Boudin went too far, even for San Francisco’s progressive voters, with his statements justifying crime and demonizing the police. But if history is any guide, they won’t have learned anything more from the experiment in lawlessness than they did from the one in the mid-1990s, and will almost certainly repeat it. *  *  * Michael Shellenberger is a Time Magazine "Hero of the Environment,"Green Book Award winner, and the founder and president of Environmental Progress. He is author of just launched book San Fransicko (Harper Collins) and the best-selling book, Apocalypse Never (Harper Collins June 30, 2020). Subscribe To Michael's substack here Tyler Durden Sun, 11/28/2021 - 21:30.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytNov 28th, 2021

Bovard Blasts The Biden Crackdown On Thought Crimes

Bovard Blasts The Biden Crackdown On Thought Crimes Authored by Jim Bovard, The Biden administration is seeking to radically narrow the boundaries of respectable American political thought. The administration has repeatedly issued statements and reports that could automatically castigate citizens who distrust the federal government. We may eventually learn that the new Biden guidelines spurred a vast increase in federal surveillance and other abuses against Americans who were guilty of nothing more than vigorous skepticism. Biden is Nixon on steroids The Biden team is expanding the federal Enemies List perhaps faster than any time since the Nixon administration. In June, the Biden administration asserted that guys who are unable to score with women may be terrorist threats due to “involuntary celibate–violent extremism.” That revelation was included in the administration’s National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, which identified legions of new potential “domestic terrorists” that the feds can castigate and investigate. The White House claims its new war on terrorism and extremism is “carefully tailored to address violence and reduce the factors that …infringe on the free expression of ideas.” But the prerogative to define extremism includes the power to revile disapproved beliefs. The report warns that “narratives of fraud in the recent general election … will almost certainly spur some [domestic violent extremists] to try to engage in violence this year.” If accusations of 2020 electoral shenanigans are formally labeled as extremist threats, that could result in far more repression (aided by Facebook and Twitter) of dissenting voices. How will this work out any better than the concerted campaign by the media and Big Tech last fall to suppress all information about Hunter Biden’s laptop before the election? And how can Biden be trusted to be the judge after he effectively accused Facebook of mass murder for refusing to totally censor anyone who raised doubts about the COVID-19 vaccine? The Biden administration is revving up for a war against an enemy which the feds have chosen to never explicitly define. According to a March report by Biden’s Office of the Director of National Intelligence, “domestic violent extremists” include individuals who “take overt steps to violently resist or facilitate the overthrow of the U.S. government in support of their belief that the U.S. government is purposely exceeding its Constitutional authority.” But that was the same belief that many Biden voters had regarding the Trump administration. Does the definition of extremism depend solely on which party captured the White House? The Biden report writers were spooked by the existence of militia groups and flirt with the fantasy of outlawing them across the land. The report promises to explore “how to make better use of laws that already exist in all fifty states prohibiting certain private ‘militia’ activity, including … state statutes prohibiting groups of people from organizing as private military units without the authorization of the state government, and state statutes that criminalize certain paramilitary activity.” Most of the private militia groups are guilty of nothing more than bluster and braggadocio. Besides, many of them are already overstocked with government informants who are counting on Uncle Sam for regular paychecks. Some politicians and pundits might like to see a new federal crime that labels any meeting of more than two gun owners as an illegal conspiracy. The Biden report promises that the FBI and DHS will soon be releasing “a new edition of the Federal Government’s Mobilization Indicators booklet that will include for the first time potential indicators of domestic terrorism–related mobilization.” Will this latest publication be as boneheaded as the similar 2014 report by the National Counterterrorism Center entitled “Countering Violent Extremism: A Guide for Practitioners and Analysts”? The new Red Guard As the Intercept summarized, that report “suggests that police, social workers and educators rate individuals on a scale of one to five in categories such as ‘Expressions of Hopelessness, Futility,’ … and ‘Connection to Group Identity (Race, Nationality, Religion, Ethnicity)’ … to alert government officials to individuals at risk of turning to radical violence, and to families or communities at risk of incubating extremist ideologies.” The report recommended judging families by their level of “Parent-Child Bonding” and rating localities on the basis in part of the “presence of ideologues or recruiters.” Former FBI agent Mike German commented, “The idea that the federal government would encourage local police, teachers, medical, and social-service employees to rate the communities, individuals, and families they serve for their potential to become terrorists is abhorrent on its face.” Biden’s “National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism” report also declared that “enhancing faith in American democracy” requires “finding ways to counter the influence and impact of dangerous conspiracy theories.” In recent decades, conspiracy theories have multiplied almost as fast as government lies and cover-ups. While many allegations have been ludicrously far-fetched, the political establishment and media routinely attach the “conspiracy theory” label to any challenge to their dominance. According to Cass Sunstein, Harvard Law professor and Oba- ma’s regulatory czar, a conspiracy theory is “an effort to explain some event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role.” Reasonable citizens are supposed to presume that government creates trillions of pages of new secrets each year for their own good, not to hide anything from the public. “Conspiracy theory” is a magic phrase that expunges all previous federal abuses. Many liberals who invoke the phrase also ritually quote a 1965 book by former communist Richard Hofstadter, The Paranoid Style in American Politics. Hofstadter portrayed distrust of government as a proxy for mental illness, a paradigm that makes the character of critics more important than the conduct of government agencies. For Hofstadter, it was a self-evident truth that government was trustworthy because American politics had “a kind of professional code … embodying the practical wisdom of generations of politicians.” The rise of conspiracy theories In the early 1960s, conspiracy theories were practically a non-issue because 75 percent of Americans trusted the federal government. Such credulity did not survive the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Seven days after Kennedy was shot on November 22, 1963, President Lyndon Johnson created a commission (later known as the Warren Commission) to suppress controversy about the killing. Johnson browbeat the commission members into speedily issuing a report rubber-stamping the “crazed lone gunman” version of the assassination. House Minority Leader Gerald Ford, a member of the commission, revised the final staff report to change the location of where the bullet entered Kennedy’s body, thereby salvaging the so-called “magic bullet” theory. After the Warren Commission findings were ridiculed as a whitewash, Johnson ordered the FBI to conduct wiretaps on the report’s critics. To protect the official story, the commission sealed key records for 75 years. Truth would out only after all the people involved in any coverup had gotten their pensions and died. The controversy surrounding the Warren Commission spurred the CIA to formally attack the notion of conspiracy theories. In a 1967 alert to its overseas stations and bases, the CIA declared that the fact that almost half of Americans did not believe Oswald acted alone “is a matter of concern to the U.S. government, including our organization” and endangers “the whole reputation of the American government.” The memo instructed recipients to “employ propaganda assets” and exploit “friendly elite contacts (especially politicians and editors), pointing out … parts of the conspiracy talk appear to be deliberately generated by Communist propagandists.” The ultimate proof of the government’s innocence: “Conspiracy on the large scale often suggested would be impossible to conceal in the United States.” The New York Times, which exposed the CIA memo in 1977, noted that the CIA “mustered its propaganda machinery to support an issue of far more concern to Americans, and to the C.I.A. itself, than to citizens of other countries.” According to historian Lance deHaven-Smith, author of Conspiracy Theory in America, “The CIA’s campaign to popularize the term ‘conspiracy theory’ and make conspiracy belief a target of ridicule and hostility must be credited … with being one of the most successful propaganda initiatives of all time.” In 2014, the CIA released a heavily-redacted report admitting that it had been “complicit” in a JFK “cover-up” by withholding “incendiary” information from the Warren Commission. The CIA successfully concealed a wide range of assassinations and foreign coups it conducted until congressional investigations in the mid-1970s blew the whistle. “Conspiracy theory” allegations sometimes merely expose the naivete of official scorekeepers. In April 2016, Chapman University surveyed Americans and announced that “the most prevalent conspiracy theory in the United States is that the government is concealing information about the 9/11 attacks with slightly over half of Americans holding that belief.” That survey did not ask whether people believed the World Trade Centers were blown up by an inside job or whether President George W. Bush secretly masterminded the attacks. Instead, folks were simply asked whether “government is concealing information” about the attacks. Only a village idiot, college professor, or editorial writer would presume the government had come clean. Three months after the Chapman University survey was conducted, the Obama administration finally released 28 pages of a 2003 congressional report that revealed that Saudi government officials had directly financed some of the 9/11 hijackers in America. That disclosure shattered the storyline carefully constructed by the Bush administration, the 9/11 Commission, and legions of media accomplices. (Lawsuits continue in federal court seeking to force the U.S. government to disclose more information regarding the Saudi government role in the attacks.) Conspiracy theories a tool for control “Conspiracy theory” is often a flag of convenience for the political-media elite. In 2018, the New York Times asserted that Trump’s use of the term “Deep State” and similar rhetoric “fanned fears that he is eroding public trust in institutions, undermining the idea of objective truth and sowing widespread suspicions about the government and news media.” However, after allegations by anonymous government officials spurred Trump’s first impeachment in 2019, New York Times columnist James Stewart cheered, “There is a Deep State, there is a bureaucracy in our country who has pledged to respect the Constitution, respect the rule of law…. They work for the American people.” New York Times editorial writer Michelle Cottle proclaimed, “The deep state is alive and well” and hailed it as “a collection of patriotic public servants.” Almost immediately after its existence was no longer denied, the Deep State became the incarnation of virtue in Washington. After Biden was elected, references to the “Deep State” were once again labeled paranoid ravings. Much of the establishment rage at “conspiracy theories” has been driven by the notion that rulers are entitled to intellectual passive obedience. The same lèse-majesté mindset has been widely adopted to make a muddle of American history. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., the court historian for President John F. Kennedy and a revered liberal intellectual, declared in 2004, “Historians today conclude that the colonists were driven to revolt in 1776 because of a false conviction that they faced a British conspiracy to destroy their freedom.” What the hell is wrong with “historians today”?! Was the British imposition of martial law, confiscation of firearms, military blockades, suspension of habeas corpus, and censorship simply a deranged fantasy of Thomas Jefferson? The notion that the British would never conspire to destroy freedom would play poorly in Dublin, where the Irish suffered centuries of brutal British oppression. Why should anyone trust academics who were blind to British threats in the 1770s to accurately judge the danger that today’s politicians pose to Americans’ liberty? How does the Biden administration intend to fight “conspiracy theories?” The Biden terrorism report called for “enhancing faith in government” by “accelerating work to contend with an information environment that challenges healthy democratic discourse.” Will Biden’s team rely on the “solution” suggested by Cass Sunstein: “cognitive infiltration of extremist groups” by government agents and informants to “undermine” them from within? Does the Biden administration also propose banning Americans from learning anything from the history of prior federal debacles? Nixon White House aide Tom Charles Huston explained that the FBI’s COINTELPRO program continually stretched its target list “from the kid with a bomb to the kid with a picket sign, and from the kid with the picket sign to the kid with the bumper sticker of the opposing candidate. And you just keep going down the line.” A 1976 Senate report on COINTELPRO demanded assurances that a federal agency would never again “be permitted to conduct a secret war against those citizens it considers threats, to the established order.” Actually, the FBI and other agencies have continued secretly warring against “threats,” and legions of informants are likely busy “cognitively infiltrating” at this moment. Permitting politicians to blacklist any ideas they disapprove won’t “restore faith in democracy.” Extremism has always been a flag of political convenience, and the Biden team, the FBI, and their media allies will fan fears to sanctify new government crackdowns. But what if government is the most dangerous extremist of them all? Tyler Durden Sat, 11/27/2021 - 22:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 28th, 2021

James Comey"s daughter is a lead prosecutor in Ghislaine Maxwell"s child sex trafficking case. Here"s what we know about her.

Maurene Comey, the daughter of former FBI chief James Comey, also helped lead the case against Jeffrey Epstein before he killed himself. Maurene Comey (left) and Ghislaine Maxwell (right).REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton; Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images Maurene Comey is one of the lead prosecutors in the criminal case against Ghislaine Maxwell. The daughter of former FBI director James Comey also worked on the sex crimes case against Jeffrey Epstein. She also prosecuted ex-gynecologist Robert Hadden and Treasury Department whistleblower Natalie Edwards. Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell have brought plenty of familiar faces along with them into the spotlight, including Prince Andrew and former Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton.But one newcomer is 32-year-old Maurene Comey.The daughter of former FBI director James Comey, Maurene Comey is one of the three lead prosecutors on the case against Ghislaine Maxwell, whose child sex-trafficking trial is scheduled to begin Monday.Despite her father's history of dominating the news cycle, Maurene Comey has largely stayed out of the spotlight, instead maintaining a low-profile presence.But she's taken on major cases before Maxwell's trial, including the prosecution of Natalie Edwards, a self-proclaimed Treasury Department whistleblower; and Robert Hadden, a gynecologist accused of sexually abusing dozens of young women.She was also one of the lead prosecutors in the case against Jeffrey Epstein before he killed himself in August 2019 while awaiting trial.Here's what we know about the first daughter of law and order.Maurene Comey has worked on multiple Epstein and Maxwell-related casesComey is currently an assistant US attorney in the Southern District of New York — one of the most prestigious federal prosecutors' offices nationwide.The district covers Manhattan and the surrounding area, making it the center of prosecutions for financial crimes and other high-profile cases.Maurene Comey joined the office in 2015, and is listed as one of three lead prosecutors handling the case against Maxwell, along with Assistant US Attorneys Alex Rossmiller and Alison Gainfort Moe.The three of them also handled the case against Epstein, who was indicted in July 2019 for numerous sex crimes. For the case against Maxwell, they're joined by Assistant US Attorneys Andrew Rohrbach and Lara Elizabeth Pomerantz.The prosecutors have accused Maxwell of trafficking teenage girls for sex and sexually abusing them herself along with Jeffrey Epstein. Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has denied all misconduct.Maurene Comey, center assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, arrives at the Manhattan Federal Court for the arraignment of Jeffrey Epstein on July 8, 2019.REUTERS/Andrew KellyJames Comey was the head of the SDNY between 2002 and 2003 before former President George W. Bush named him deputy attorney general. He worked in the private sector from 2005 until former President Barack Obama named him FBI director in 2013.Prior to joining the SDNY office herself in 2015, Maurene Comey worked for a year as a clerk for Loretta Preska, who at the time was the chief judge at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.Preska oversees a long-running defamation case that Virginia Giuffre filed against Maxwell. Giuffre has accused both Maxwell and Epstein of sexual misconduct, and the civil lawsuit has led to numerous unsealed documents related to Epstein's and Maxwell's conduct.Maurene Comey is a lead attorney on the team prosecuting Jeffrey Epstein.(AP Photo/Richard Drew)Two of the current criminal charges against Maxwell allege she perjured herself by lying in a deposition taken for Giuffre's case, but those charges are set to be tried in a separate trial.Comey has also worked on another Epstein-related case: Nicholas Tartaglione. The former police officer was arrested in 2016, accused of killing four men as part of a drug crime conspiracy. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, and he's been jailed for the past five years — often getting into arguments with correctional officials, court records show — as his case has been delayed.Tartaglione was briefly roommates with Epstein at Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center in 2019, and was living with him when Epstein made his first suicide attempt in jail, on July 23. Tartaglione claimed to have helped Epstein after finding him unconscious. The jail was shut down earlier this year after numerous scandals.Comey has taken on several other high-profile cases in the past couple of yearsEarly in Comey's career, court records show, she handled mostly drug and gun smuggling cases.She worked on a case against the treasurer of a volunteer fire department who embezzled over $5 million and was sentenced to over 6 years in prison; and prosecuted a gang member who pleaded guilty for killing someone at a Valentine's Day party; and other gang-related cases.She also worked on other cases that involved alleged sex crimes against minors. In 2016, she led a case against an 18-year-old who prosecutors accused of coercing a middle-school-aged girl to send him nude photographs over the app Kik, threatening to post other pictures of the girl. According to a DOJ press release, prosecutors originally sought to convict the man of sexual exploitation of a minor, which carries a minimum 13-year-sentence.In 2018, the man plead guilty to the lesser charge of receipt of child pornography and was sentenced to 7 years in prison and 5 years supervised release, according to court documents reviewed by Insider.Maurene Comey, assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, exits the Manhattan Federal Court after the arraignment of Jeffrey Epstein on July 8, 2019.REUTERS/Andrew KellyIn more recent years, she's taken on bigger sex crime cases. In addition to the Maxwell trial, she's on the prosecutorial team for Robert Hadden, the former Columbia University gynecologist. Dozens of women have accused him of sexual misconduct over the decades. In September 2020, the SDNY US Attorney's office filed charges against him, alleging misconduct in connection with six accusers. His trial has been pushed back to 2022, and Comey is still on the case.Comey was also part of the prosecutorial team who brought charges against Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a former Treasury Department official. Edwards was sentenced to prison earlier this year after pleading guilty in January 2020 to illegally leaking documents to a member of the media.Those documents, which included bank reports of suspicious financial activity, were connected to former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation as well as the FinCEN files, which exposed potential corruption in the global banking system and led several counties to reform their financial laws.Comey withdrew from the case on June 5, 2020, a few weeks before a grand jury brought the indictment against Maxwell.Comey attended Harvard Law School and briefly worked for a large law firm before becoming a prosecutorPrior to working with the US attorney's office, Comey worked at the large law firm Debevoise & Plimpton for a year.The extent of her work at the firm isn't clear, but an archived yearly report from the company listed her as working on a case where the firm argued for the Connecticut Coalition for Justice that the quality of education that the state provided to public school students violated the Constitution.Debevoise was successful, and a Connecticut Superior Court judge ordered the state to propose remedies within half a year, according to Yale Law School, which also worked on the case.James Comey, nominee for FBI Director in 2013, shares a laugh during his conformation hearing before the a Senate Judiciary Committee in Dirksen Building as his daughters Kate, left, and Maureen, look on.Tom Williams/CQ Roll CallComey's only political donations were $233 to Hilary Clinton's presidential campaign in 2015, according to campaign finance transparency site OpenSecrets.org. Her father said in an ABC interview that his wife and daughters "marched in the Women's March the day after President Trump's inauguration," and that he was "pretty sure" they all "wanted Hillary Clinton to be the first woman president."Comey graduated from Harvard Law School in 2013, according to LinkedIn, and was on the Harvard Law Review board of editors between 2011 and 2013, according to the publication's website.In 2012, Comey was listed as a research assistant for legal scholar and Harvard professor Daniel Meltzer on his article in The Duke Law Journal titled "Executive Defense of Congressional Acts."The article disputed the constitutionality of the now-defunct Don't Ask, Don't Tell and DOMA laws, which discriminated against gay people, but argued for their theoretical enforcement by the executive branch. Meltzer would go on to serve as deputy counsel in the Obama administration for a little over a year before returning to Harvard.Comey is also a pretty good singerBefore her legal career began, Comey attended the College of William and Mary, where she studied history and music. Even before college she was a notably good singer, as exhibited in her performance of "Going to Heaven," and by her participation in The Virginia Music Educators Association honors choir in 2005, according to the Washington Post.Another video shows her performing Whitney Houston while in college.She's great at hitting those high notes!Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 26th, 2021

Ukrainian President Says Imminent Russia-Backed Coup Plot Uncovered

Ukrainian President Says Imminent Russia-Backed Coup Plot Uncovered Ukraine has charged Russia with backing a newly uncovered coup attempt that was set for next week against President Volodymyr Zelensky. The Hill reports based on the Ukrainian presidency's office that "The individuals, which included Russians and Ukrainians, reportedly discussed their plans while mentioning Rinat Akhmetov, the richest man in the country, as a person that could help with the plot." Claiming to have audio recordings as proof, though offering no other evidence, Zelensky said at a press conference Friday, "We have challenges not only from the Russian Federation and possible escalation - we have big internal challenges. I received information that a coup d'etat will take place in our country on Dec. 1-2." "We have audio recordings in which representatives of Russia and Rinat Akhmetov discuss the coup," Zelensky added. "We are in full control of our borders and are fully prepared for any escalation," he emphasized. His words at the press conference focused heavily on recent Western media reports that Russia is preparing forces in a troop build-up near Ukraine. The reports have said an estimated 92,000 Russian soldiers have mustered in the region, though the Kremlin has slammed the claims as hype and disinformation, saying it shouldn't be of any external power's concern where it chooses to move or train its troops within Russia's own sovereign border.  Zelensky, who is in the midst of what's been dubbed a "de-oligarchization" campaign named Akhmetov, who is a coal and steel tycoon, though reportedly denied his actual involvement in the alleged coup plotting. According to details in Axios: He said they mentioned trying to obtain the support of Ukraine's richest man, Rinat Akhmetov, the Post reported. Zelensky said Akhmetov wasn't involved in the plot, but he believed the billionaire was "being dragged into the war against Ukraine." Zelensky has targeted Ukranian oligarchs amid his effort to establish his government's authority. Zelensky warned as part of his comments that "you can’t fight against your people and the president who was elected by the citizens of Ukraine." Notably the Ukrainian president at one point acknowledged that the conflict and fighting in Donbas is not at this point actually worse than last spring. At another point in the lengthy remarks he also said: "I don't believe in coups," Zelenskyi added. "I am not Yanukovych, I will not escape anywhere." Given the announcement of the uncovering of an imminent coup attempt is being so closely linked to Russia's alleged military build-up threatening Ukraine with possible "invasion" (as hyped MSM headlines have suggested), also at a moment of EU-Belarus soaring tensions which has also involved Russia, the timing is at the very least suspicious. He also said that he wouldn't escape like Yanukovich. Thus agreeing that there was the coup d'etat in 2014. — Nelly (@NellyNovograd) November 26, 2021 Certainly the mere claim itself, whether it's verified or not, will serve in the short term to continue the immense Western pressure and suspicion aimed at Russia. For example The Washington Post headline in the wake of Zelensky's presser reads bluntly, Zelenskey accused Russia of plotting a coup against him. As for Moscow it quickly rejected the accusation, with Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov firmly stating that "Russia has never been involved in any way in such a case." Tyler Durden Fri, 11/26/2021 - 09:59.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 26th, 2021

3 senators slam The New York Times" coverage of Kyrsten Sinema"s fashion as "demeaning, sexist and inappropriate," but an author of those articles says Sinema"s choices are a key part of her politics

"It is weird to think that presentation isn't politics," said Tressie McMillan Cottom, who wrote 3 out of 4 stories called out by the senators. Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona speaks as Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine stand by on Capitol Hill on July 28, 2021.Alex Wong/Getty Images 3 women senators slammed The New York Times for its "demeaning, sexist and inappropriate" coverage of Sinema's fashion choices. Sens. Murkowski, Collins, and Shaheen made the criticisms in a joint letter to the editor. But the author of 3 of those stories argues that presentation is a key aspect of Sinema's politics. Three women senators sent a letter to the editor on Friday lambasting The New York Times' "demeaning, sexist and inappropriate" coverage of Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's fashion choices.Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire are among the 10 senators who worked with Sinema to pave the way for the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden signed into law on Monday. Collins and Murkowski are Republicans, while Shaheen, like Sinema, is a Democrat."The Times has published four separate pieces analyzing the style and dress of our colleague Senator Kyrsten Sinema," the senators wrote. "We cannot imagine The Times printing similar pieces on the fashion choices of any of our male colleagues."The trio pointed to recent statements by Sinema, in which she defended her sartorial choices."I wear what I want because I like it. It's not a news story, and it's no one's business," Sinema told Politico."We couldn't agree more," Collins, Murkowski, and Shaheen wrote in their letter to the editor."Senator Sinema is a serious, hardworking member of the Senate who contributes a great deal to the policy deliberations before us," they added. "Your repeated focus on how she dresses, rather than what she says and does, is demeaning, sexist and inappropriate."Reached for comment, Danielle Rhoades Ha, The Times's vice president of communications, defended the paper's coverage of Sinema."The aim of our Opinion coverage is to invite intelligent discussion from informed people with a diversity of opinions and ideas," she told Insider. "We believe in open debate and always welcome reactions such as the Senators' letter to the editor."Collins, Murkowski and Shaheen contend that The Times wouldn't print similar pieces about men, but the paper has done just that, with stories about outfits worn by Biden, New York City Mayor-Elect Eric Adams, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The outlet also covered former President Donald Trump's affinity for ties.'It is weird to think that presentation isn't politics'Sen. Kyrsten Sinema wearing a pink wig at the US Senate on June 17, 2020.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call/Getty ImagesThe senators' letter references four stories published by The Times since October 18.The first, written by the paper's chief fashion critic Vanessa Friedman, analyzed how Sinema's choice of ostentatious outfits were in keeping with her identity as a self-styled policy maverick and the Senate's first openly bisexual member."Whatever the interpretation, however, no one expressed any doubt that she knew exactly what she was doing," wrote Friedman, who's crafted similar analyses on the COP26 climate conference and the Netflix hit show, "Squid Game."The three other stories were written by opinion writer Tressie McMillan Cottom, a Black woman who has written extensively about inequality, culture, higher education, and race. Cottom did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.In her first story on the topic, entitled "Why We Should Talk About What Kyrsten Sinema Is Wearing," Cottom expounds at length on the fraught nature of commenting on women's bodies in the public sphere. She also makes the case that fashion is part of politics and is thus worthy of attention."For both AOC and Sinema, the media has struggled to put the meaning of style in a context that is not frivolous or demeaning," Cottom wrote. "This has contributed to our inability to talk about their presentation as politics. That inability makes that presentation only more powerful because it can go uncritiqued."—Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) February 23, 2021Cottom went on to write "Kyrsten Sinema and the Politics of a Sleeveless Silhouette," which analyzes how Sinema's fashion choices accentuate her athleticism in a manner that isn't as accessible to Black public figures."Voters eviscerated Michelle Obama — who is a political figure despite not being an elected official — for wearing sleeveless dresses," Cottom wrote. "On Obama, fitted sheaths without sleeves were a code for unruly behavior and thus disrespect for the president's office. But unruliness is a reputation that Sinema can afford to cultivate."—Jeremy Art (@cspanJeremy) October 26, 2021Lastly, Cottom wrote about Sinema's clothing as it pertains to class, writing that "the form-fitting dresses and retro color palette that Sinema favors are a way of broadcasting her bona fides as a middle-class politician and thus someone in step with middle-class values."The same day that story was published, Cottom defended the project on Twitter."It is weird to think that presentation isn't politics," she wrote in one tweet.—Tressie McMillan Cottom (@tressiemcphd) November 15, 2021The "performance" of powerful women is fair game and inseparable from their political positions, Cottom went on to say.—Tressie McMillan Cottom (@tressiemcphd) November 13, 2021—Tressie McMillan Cottom (@tressiemcphd) November 15, 2021Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytNov 19th, 2021

A convicted Russian agent who was recently freed from US prison says her new seat in Russia"s parliament is "not a reward"

Butina, who tried to infiltrate prominent GOP circles, pleaded guilty in 2018 to conspiracy and admitted to acting as an unregistered foreign agent. Maria Butina, the Russian agent who was jailed in the US, has been elected to the State Duma in Russia.Sergei Karpukhin/Getty Images A convicted Russian agent who was jailed in the US denied her new seat in Russia's parliament is a gift. "It's not a reward," Maria Butina told NYT. "I wasn't a spy. I wasn't working for the government. I was just a civilian." Butina pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy in 2018 and admitted to acting as an unregistered foreign agent.  Maria Butina, a Russian national who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and acted as an unregistered foreign agent in the US, denied this week that her new seat in Russia's parliament is a gift."It's not a reward," Butina told the New York Times in a new interview. "I wasn't a spy. I wasn't working for the government. I was just a civilian.""If I had known that I have to register to build peace between the two nations by my own initiative, I would have loved to," she added.Butina in December 2018 admitted to acting as an unregistered agent of the Russian government and infiltrating the National Rifle Association (NRA) in an attempt to sway US policy in favor of Russia. An indictment returned against Butina in July of that year said she and a high-ranking Russian official, believed to be the Russian politician Alexander Torshin, worked to create a "back channel" between Russia and the US, using the NRA as a conduit."Butina sought to establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over US politics," her plea agreement said.She admitted to drafting a proposal in Russian in March 2015 called the "Description of the Diplomacy Project," which implied that "Russia could use unofficial channels of communication" to build relationships with the Republican Party, referred to as "Political Party #1" in US court filings.Butina also spent years cultivating ties with American gun-rights activists, like the Republican strategist Paul Erickson, with whom she has been acquainted since at least 2013. Among other things, prosecutors accused Butina of pursuing a sexual relationship with Erickson to make inroads with the NRA.After serving 15 months in US prisons — a sentence that Russian President Vladimir Putin decried as an "outrage" — Butina was deported back to Russia in October 2019. Within roughly two months of her return, Butina was given a job as a host on the state-run media outlet RT.Butina became a member of the Duma, Russia's parliament, for the Kirov region in October. The local governor gave up the seat so Butina could fill it.She told the Times that she wants to use her new position to improve relations between the US and Russia. "I believed in the friendship between the two nations, and I still do believe in it," Butina said. "We can be friends, we must be."But critics suggest that she was gifted the Duma seat as a reward for carrying out Putin's agenda to influence US politics.In April, Butina made an unexpected visit to the Russian prison where the top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny is being held. At the time, he was engaged in a weekslong hunger strike over demands for proper medical care. While those close to Navalny voiced concerns that he was on the brink of death, Butina downplayed his medical condition and filmed her visit to the prison in an effort to portray the conditions as better than those in US facilities.Maria Pevchikh, the chief of the investigative unit of Navalny's organization, the Anti-Corruption Foundation, told The Times that Butina's Duma seat was a reward for her coverage of Navalny's imprisonment. "If anything, this was a reward for what she did by visiting Navalny in prison, and that TV episode, which was highly embarrassing and disgusting," Pevchikh said. "Not many people would agree to do that. And she did."Pevchikh said Butina is a "good trophy" for the ruling party because she talks "nonstop about how bad things in America are."A message posted to Navalny's Telegram channel also described Butina as a "wretched propagandist" for the state-broadcaster RT, adding that she "yelled that this was the best and most comfortable prison."Navalny was poisoned in Siberia in August 2020, which Putin has been widely accused of orchestrating. His imprisonment, which top rights groups say is politically motivated, led to mass protests in Russia and has been condemned by leaders across the globe.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 19th, 2021

7 Chinese celebrities, business people, and activists who disappeared after speaking out about the Communist Party or powerful people

Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis star who recently accused China's former vice president of sexual assault, is the latest to vanish. Shuai Peng seen at the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 23, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia.Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Peng Shuai seems to have disappeared after she said a Chinese politician sexually assaulted her. The Chinese tennis star is among an alarming number of Chinese celebrities who have disappeared. Some vanished after they made critical comments about the government or powerful people. Peng Shuai went missing after she said she was sexually assaulted by a top Chinese politician.Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai.Andy Brownbill/APPeng Shuai has not been heard from since she accused a top Chinese official of sexual assault. The 35-year-old tennis player is one of China's biggest sports stars.In a post on November 2 on Weibo, Peng alleged the former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli coerced her into sex and that they had an affair. Afterward, the post was taken down and references to Peng were blocked on China's internet, the Guardian reported.She hasn't been heard from or seen since.US tennis star Noami Osaka voiced her concerns over Peng's disappearance with a tweet on Tuesday using the hashtag #WhereisPengShuai."I was recently informed of a fellow tennis player that has gone missing shortly after revealing that she has been sexually abused," Osaka tweeted. "Censorship is never ok at any cost, I hope Peng Shuai and her family are safe and ok. I'm in shock of the current situation and I'm sending love and light her way."Zhao Wei was blacklisted from social media and her whereabouts were unknown after the government cracked down on pop culture influences.Chinese actress Zhao Wei.Vincent Yu/APThe whereabouts of Chinese actress Zhao Wei became a mystery in August after she was apparently blacklisted from social media by the Beijing authorities, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The actress was also removed from popular streaming sites.The Wall Street Journal reported that it was part of an effort by Beijing to target the pop-culture industry for what it sees as "unhealthy influences for young people."Rumors spread that Zhao fled to France with her husband, where the two own a vineyard outside Bordeaux. Zhao denied the rumors in a since-deleted Instagram post, claiming she was with family in Beijing, according to the Hollywood Reporter.Artist Ai Weiwei was disappeared and detained for months after he criticized the government.Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei waves from the entrance of his studio after being released on bail in Beijing.David Gray/ReutersChinese artist Ai Weiwei has long been considered a dissident who has been critical of China's government. He published criticisms of the Chinese government on a blog that was eventually taken down and was later assaulted by Chinese police in 2009, according to Britannica.The artist was disappeared in April 2011 after he was accused of tax evasion and police detained him for almost 3 months, according to Human Rights Watch. He couldn't speak with his lawyer, and his wife was permitted to visit him once, HRW reported.After protests in his name, Ai was released in June 2011. The government said he was let go "because of his good attitude in confessing his crimes as well as a chronic disease he suffers from," Reuters reported.E-commerce billionaire Jack Ma disappeared from public view after he criticized the Chinese financial industry.Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma.Firdia Lisnawati/APJack Ma, a high-profile Chinese entrepreneur and e-commerce billionaire, disappeared from public view after he criticized the Chinese financial industry in an October 2020 speech in Shanghai.Days later, the Chinese government ordered probes into Ma's companies, Alibaba and Ant Group, and tightened regulations. It was seen as an attempt by the government to regain control over tech giants that wield economic and political power.After vanishing for over two months, the entrepreneur reappeared in a January 2021 video that made no mention of his disappearance. Forbes contributor George Calhoun said Ma was "uncharacteristically flat and subdued" in the video. Subsequent sightings of Ma were scattered and unconfirmed, and the Financial Times later reported Ma was merely "lying low."In October 2021, Ma was seen in Spain, taking his first trip outside of China since the fallout with the government began.Billionaire businesswoman Whitney Duan vanished and wasn't heard from for 4 years until her ex-husband, tycoon Desmond Shum, was about to publish a book on corruption in China.Whitney Duan and her ex-husband Desmond Shum were closely tied to China's elites and involved in several large developments in Beijing, Time magazine reported. In 2017, Duan, who also goes by Duan Weihong, disappeared in Beijing without a trace.It came after she spoke with The New York Times during a 2012 investigation that found many of the relatives of then-Prime Minister Wen Jiabao became exceedingly wealthy during his political career, controlling at least $2.7 billion in assets. Duan herself was implicated in the scandal, although she denied having financial ties to the prime minister.After Duan's disappearance, Shum told Time he couldn't get in touch with her for four years. He left the country and hasn't returned since his ex-wife's disappearance.—Rob Hastings (@robhastings) September 9, 2021Then, in September 2021, Shum told Time he got messages from Duan urging him to call her. He did, and for the first time in four years, her line wasn't dead. Shum said Duan begged him not to publish his recent book "Red Roulette: An Insider's Story of Wealth, Power, Corruption, and Vengeance in Today's China", which details corruption in the Chinese Communist Party."She asked me to stop the book launch, saying: 'How would you feel if something happened to our son? And what would happen to our son if something happened to me?' I took that to be a threat," Shum told Time.Forbes reported a disturbing pattern that saw several billionaires and wealthy moguls had vanished from the public sphere for a period of time. Some reportedly were detained to assist with investigations.Real estate mogul Ren Zhiqiang vanished after he criticized the Chinese government for its handling of the pandemic.Ren Zhiqiang went missing after he criticized the government's handling of the pandemic.Getty ImagesReal estate mogul Ren Zhiqiang disappeared in March 2020 after he wrote an essay criticizing the Chinese government for how it was handling the COVID-19 pandemic, referring to President Xi Jinping as a "clown."Shortly afterward, his friends told The New York Times he went missing. He was later sentenced to 18 years in prison after a court found him guilty of a litany of financial crimes, but his peers said the sentence was a result of his essay."Very clearly this was punishment for his words, that's going to be obvious to everyone," sociologist Guo Yuhua told the Times. "Those economic problems — this one, that one — can be concocted whenever you want."Human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang was detained amid a crackdown on Chinese activists in 2015.Human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang was detained for several years.Thomas Peter/ReutersWang Quanzhang, a Chinese human rights lawyer, was detained with 200 others in 2015 amid a crackdown on activism in the country. He was found guilty of "subverting state power" in a closed-door court with no journalists or foreign diplomats present, according to BBC.For three years, his family did not know of his whereabouts or whether he was even alive."I don't know whether he's alive or dead," his wife Li Wenzu told BBC's John Sudworth in 2017. "I have had no information at all. He has simply disappeared from the face of the earth. It is so scary, so brutal."Li added that Wang wasn't "allowed to meet the lawyer that we have employed for him, and he has no right to communicate with the outside world."Wang was released in April 2020.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 18th, 2021

10 Things in Politics: Gen Z voters eye GOP over cancel culture

And Democrats may blow campaign promises and give the rich a big tax cut. Welcome back to 10 Things in Politics. Sign up here to receive this newsletter. Plus, download Insider's app for news on the go — click here for iOS and here for Android. Send tips to bgriffiths@insider.com.Here's what we're talking about:Democrats risk losing millennial and Gen Z voters over 'cancel culture' and vaccine mandatesDemocrats may blow campaign promises and give the rich a big tax cutInternal memo shows how freaked-out progressives plan to beat Republicans in 2022Insider1. OPPORTUNITY FOR GOP: Millennials and Gen Z pose an existential threat to the Republican Party. But the GOP has found two wedge issues that appear to be gaining traction with young voters. One of these is "cancel culture," which young conservatives rank as a top issue, especially on college campuses.Here's what the data suggests thus far:Cancel culture is mostly a nonfactor for most voters: "But among young voters, it looms large," my colleague writes. "According to Pew polling last year, two-thirds of adults under 30 said they'd heard a lot about the issue, compared with just a third of those 50 and older."Some Democrats also see the topic as a growing vulnerability: "Cancel culture is very similar to critical race theory," a prominent Democratic pollster told Insider. "When you look at polling on this kind of thing, the public agrees more with Republicans at some base level than Democrats. So it's just a question of how salient it becomes."Experts say the issue's popularity has risen amid the changing face of America: Vladimir Medenica, a political science professor at the University of Delaware who helps direct a national survey of young voters, said the fear of cancel culture was closely linked to young white men's anxiety about losing economic and social status.More details: "White men are the most conservative group among young voters and the most likely to say white people are losing out economically," my colleague writes. "In one poll, more than 40% of young white men said discrimination against white people was as serious as discrimination against racial-minority groups."Read more about how the GOP is using opposition to vaccine mandates to help make inroads with younger voters.2. House censures Paul Gosar for posting violent anime video: Lawmakers voted to censure Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona and remove him from his committee assignments after he posted an anime video that was edited to depict him killing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger were the only Republicans who voted to punish Gosar. Before the vote, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy warned Democrats that depriving a Republican of committee assignments established a precedent that the GOP would remember should it retake control of the House. For his part, Gosar compared himself to Alexander Hamilton, adding it was "it was not my purpose to make anyone upset." More on the first censure of a House lawmaker in over a decade.How he's responding: Gosar posted a meme of himself on Gettr, the conservative social-media platform. He also retweeted the same video that led to his censure.3. Internal memo shows how freaked-out progressives plan to beat Republicans in 2022: A progressive training group inspired by the late Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota says the key to beating Republicans next year is getting more skilled organizers on the ground earlier to ensure Democratic message is resonating in communities of color. A strategy memo the nonprofit Re:Power shared exclusively with Insider concludes that unless Democrats do so, they will continue to bleed support from single parents; Black, Latino, and Asian voters; and young people from underrepresented communities. Read more about how progressives are responding to Democrats' gubernatorial loss in Virginia and poor showing in New Jersey.4. Democrats may blow campaign promises and give the rich a big tax cut: President Joe Biden could get the bulk of his economic agenda passed by New Year's Eve, but some Democrats worry it may contain a measure that contradicts their promises: It could give more tax cuts to the wealthy than for poor Americans. The plan designates $285 billion to raise the cap on the state-and-local-tax deduction to $80,000 from $10,000, reversing part of President Donald Trump's 2017 tax cuts. It's the single largest program currently within the House's package. But Democrats remain divided over its inclusion, with one senator telling Insider "It doesn't make any sense at all."Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.Drew Angerer/Getty Images5. The debt-ceiling game of chicken is back: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Tuesday that the US could continue to pay its bills only until December 15. With mere weeks to stave off catastrophe, neither party has changed its tune. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he won't offer Democrats the same deal he gave in October. Here's where things stand.6. Overdose deaths topped 100,000 in one year: "​​Overdose deaths have been rising for more than two decades, accelerated in the past two years, and, according to new data posted Wednesday, jumped nearly 30% in the latest year," the Associated Press reports. Experts say "the growing prevalence of deadly fentanyl in the illicit drug supply and the pandemic" were drivers of the grim milestone. "Drug overdoses now surpass deaths from car crashes, guns, and even flu and pneumonia."7. "QAnon Shaman" is sentenced to 41 months in prison: Jacob Chansley, known as the QAnon Shaman, received one of the longest prison sentences so far stemming from the January 6 insurrection. Chansley pleaded guilty to obstructing an official proceeding rather than risk facing a longer sentence had he gone to trial. In a nearly half-hour address, Chansley invoked Jesus and Mahatma Gandhi as he presented himself to Judge Royce Lamberth as a remorseful, changed man who took responsibility for his conduct during the riot. Here's what happened inside the courtroom during the wild sentencing.Malcolm X talking to reporters in Washington, DC, on May 16, 1963.AP Photo, File8. Two men convicted of killing Malcolm X are set to be exonerated: The Manhattan district attorney's office said two of the three men convicted of the assassination of the civil-rights leader more than 50 years ago were expected to be formally absolved of the conviction later today, The New York Times reports. The reversal follows a reexamination by the Manhattan DA's office, lawyers from the Innocence Project, and a civil-rights attorney that discovered evidence was previously withheld by the FBI and the New York City Police Department. More on the news.9. Striking John Deere workers sign a new contract: United Auto Workers members voted 61% to 39% in favor of the agreement with terms to increase pay and boost retirement benefits over six years, ending a five-week strike. More than 10,000 John Deere workers at 14 locations went on strike last month after contract negotiations with the company failed. It was the company's first strike since 1986. More on the new contract.10. Staples Center is being renamed Crypto.com Arena: The home of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Kings, where Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, and Phil Jackson hoisted NBA titles together, is set to have a new identity next month. Axios reports that the deal cost more than $700 million. More on one of the largest naming-rights deals ever.Today's trivia question Today is Mickey Mouse's birthday. Which president celebrated the Disney icon's 50th birthday at the White House? Email your answer and a suggested question to me at bgriffiths@insider.com.Yesterday's answer: William Howard Taft is the most recent president to have been censured by a chamber of Congress. Taft was "accused of trying to influence a disputed Senate election," the Congressional Research Service writes of the 1912 Senate resolution.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 18th, 2021

At least 10 Republicans who were at the rally that preceded the Capitol riot won elections earlier this month. 2 political experts explain how and why.

While most have denied breaching the Capitol, their victories offer insight into the state of the Republican party, and where it may be headed. Supporters of US President Donald Trump hold a rally outside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images At least 10 "Stop the Steal" rally attendees won elected office earlier this month. Two experts explain how — and why — the US was ripe for such wins and what it means for the future. "Those willing to walk on the Mall now represent the mainstream of the Republican party," Matthew Schmidt said. November 2, 2021, saw some of the first major elections held across the country since a mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6. But amid the buzziest races demanding attention, including two gubernatorial showdowns in Virginia and New Jersey, a quieter election day narrative was taking shape as voters in six states gave their stamps of approval to an unlikely contingent of candidates: individuals who gathered on the National Mall more than 10 months ago to protest the 2020 presidential election.At least 10 Republicans who attended the "Stop the Steal" rally that preceded the deadly Capitol attack won elected office at the local and state level earlier this month, according to a HuffPost report.While most of the newly elected officeholders have denied breaching the Capitol or playing an active role in the chaotic insurrection that followed the rally (at least one was photographed outside of the Capitol), their victories offer prescient insight into the current state of the Republican party, and where it may be headed.For experts, the election results are hardly surprisingRight-wing violence in the US has been on the rise in recent years, with alt-right organizations and extremist groups gaining unprecedented recognition and legitimacy during the Trump administration, which seemingly culminated in the deadly January 6 insurrection.While ascertaining the individual motives of "Stop the Steal" rally attendees may be impossible, their communal participation in the symbolic "pre-show" to the Capitol riot nevertheless played a role in the ultimate outcome of that day: an attempt to circumnavigate American democracy, according to Eric L. Ward, an extremism expert and the executive director of Western States Center and a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center."So by extension, it's not surprising to see that they are increasingly, successfully expressing themselves through electoral vehicles, as well," said Ward.Of the 10 rally attendees elected earlier this month, three were sent to state legislatures, while the other seven won positions at the local level. Meanwhile, there are dozens of elected rally participants who faced no reelection this year and remain in political office, despite their presence in DC in January. Matthew Schmidt, a politics professor and director of the International Affairs program at the University of New Haven told Insider he wasn't surprised by the election results either. "The electoral system is such that we aren't really divided up in terms of population, but divided into arbitrary geographical boundaries," Schmidt said. "So even though, say, most of the actual population...disagree with 'Stop the Steal,' that doesn't mean people who agree with it will face political failure."Opinions that may be considered "extreme," or which are held only among a minority of people at the national level, can find fruitful ground in the small microcosms of like-minded communities, where a local school board member can win support from his neighbor by championing Trumpism, Schmidt said. Proud Boys members walk toward the U.S. Capitol in Washington on January 6.Photo by Carolyn Kaster / AP PhotoPolitics has always been an expression, not of policy, but of identity, according to SchmidtThe Republican Party in recent years has primarily centered itself around a very specific identity: the white American male who believes his rights are being systematically destroyed by a government supporting social change, the experts said."Policy choices and things we think about as polices are actually proxies for identity," Schmidt said. As the country slowly slouches toward progress with steps toward cementing racial and gender equality, a certain type of Republican voter has likely felt their own electoral power diminishing, he said."It is those victories toward equality and opportunity that have sparked this sort of racialized backlash," Ward said of the growing white nationalist movement within American politics as evidenced by several of the Capitol rioters and rally participants. One GOP politician, more than any of the rest, has had unbridled success in harnessing Republican fear and frustration into electoral power.Trump is the 'ultimate expression' of Republicans' anxiety"Donald Trump is an expression of those pent-up fears amongst Republicans about the widespread changes happening," Schmidt said.Both Schmidt and Ward were careful to note that Trump himself did not create the polarization so prevalent in US politics today, nor did he serve as a bonafide organizer or leader of burgeoning alt-right groups. Instead, his rise to power was a result of an increasing American divide, and his role is that of a symbolic figurehead among the far-right masses.The former president was so successful because he was willing to express the often-crass thoughts and opinions that others in his party had previously kept quiet out of fear of societal backlash, according to Schmidt.In 2016, Trump won the presidency because he was the only person verbalizing those ideas, Schmidt said. But now, his pathway to electoral success has seemingly become the blueprint for Republican candidates, as evidenced by last week's 10 "Stop the Steal" victors.Trump, and now his successors, have brought legitimacy to extremist ideology and a far-right movement that was once sidelined by both Democrats and Republicans, according to Ward. President Donald Trump arrives at the "Stop The Steal" Rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC.Tasos Katopodis/Getty ImagesNow the GOP has no choice but to embrace it"Those willing to walk on the Mall now represent the mainstream of the Republican party," Schmidt said.What were once fringe sects of the GOP — groups promoting white nationalism and other anti-democratic ideals — have now been embraced by the official party, according to Ward, who explained the GOP's "lost battle" to its alt-right coalition.And like Trump before them, Republican candidates in this month's elections utilized flashpoint issues to secure their constituents' votes.In addition to the standard hot-button topics that dictate GOP politics, such as female reproductive rights and gun rights, musings on the newest controversial issues, like critical race theory and the coronavirus, dominated the most recent races.Some of the most contentious battles were fought around the subject of critical race theory — a high-level legal framework that is rarely actually being taught in schools, around which conservatives coalesced."The inability of the Democratic Party and others to really hold accountable the scapegoating of a legal theory seemed to take its toll," Ward said. "It looks like it helped move a portion of Biden's base, white women, into the Republican extremist camp during this election."Opponents of an academic doctrine known as "critical race theory" attend a packed Loudoun County, Virginia school board meeting.Evelyn Hockstein/ReutersThe rally attendee's wins send a messageSchmidt predicted the country is likely to see an influx of candidates like the 10 who won earlier this month."You will see more of these kinds of candidates for the foreseeable future until the inevitable social changes that these politicians and their constituents are afraid of, become overwhelming and change," he said. The onus to fight extremism, according to Ward, must then fall on all Americans to come together and speak in defense of democracy."We need Americans to step up and be firm that we live in a republic that is founded on the practice of democracy," he said. "If we hope to save democracy, we have to first believe in democracy ourselves."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 17th, 2021

CPAC president said PBS should be defunded for "Sesame Street" having an Asian-American muppet

Conservative activist Matt Schlapp expressed outrage at the introduction of Asian-American Muppet to the iconic kids' show. Ernie with the newest "Sesame Street" member, Ji-Young.Noreen Nasir/AP Conservative activist Matt Schlapp criticized Sesame St for introducing an Asian-American Muppet.  "What race is Ernie is Bert? You are insane PBS and we should stop funding you," tweeted Schlapp.  Conservatives in recent weeks have accused Muppets of being propaganda mouthpieces.  Matt Schlapp, the president of the influential Conservative Political Action Conference, called for "Sesame Street" producer PBS to be defunded over the introduction of an Asian-American character to the kids' show. In a tweet Tuesday, Schlapp criticized the show after it announced that Ji-Young, its first ever Asian-American muppet, would be joining the cast. Schlapp linked to an Associated Press report, where producers said that they hoped the new character would help to stem rising anti-Asian-American prejudice in the US. —Matt Schlapp (@mschlapp) November 15, 2021"What race is Ernie is Bert? You are insane PBS and we should stop funding you," wrote Schlapp. "Sesame Street" in recent weeks has become a new front in the culture wars raging between conservatives and liberals in the US. Conservatives including Sen. Ted Cruz criticized the character Big Bird after his official account tweeted that he had gotten a COVID vaccine.The message came not long after the CDC approved the shot for children aged 5-11, and seemed to be designed to reassure kids about getting their shots.Republicans, however, accused the Big Bird of being used as part of a bid to indoctrinate children to take vaccines. The attack prompted President Joe Biden to leap to Big bird's defense. PBS receives some public funding but also gets significant revenues from private donations and grants.It has been airing "Sesame Street" since its first episodes in 1970. The show has long been used to promote messages about health, respect and inclusion. Since its earliest days, PBS has been accused of liberal bias by conservatives, with President Richard Nixon criticising public broadcasting during his presidency and many conservatives since following suit.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 17th, 2021

Kushner received emails from Sergei Millian — an businessman who was in touch with George Papadopoulos

Kushner was copied on emails sent to the Trump campaign last year from Sergei Millian, a Belarussian businessman who has worked with the Trump Organization. Jared Kushner.Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty ImagesJared Kushner was copied on emails sent to the Trump campaign last year from Sergei Millian, a Belarus-born businessman who had worked with the Trump organization.Millian told associates last year that he was in regular touch with George Papadopoulos — a campaign foreign policy adviser who lied to the FBI about the extent and nature of his contacts with Kremlin-linked foreign nationals.Millian's relationship with Papadopoulos, who was told in April 2016 that the Kremlin had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton, raises questions about what they discussed during the election and what they relayed to campaign officials.Editor's note: This article was updated after a Nov. 3, 2021 federal indictment accused Igor Danchenko, a Russia expert who contributed to the so-called Steele dossier, of lying to investigators about receiving information from Sergei Millian. Millian repeatedly denied he was a source for any material in the dossier.President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, was copied on emails sent to the Trump campaign last year from Sergei Millian, the Belarus-born businessman who has worked with the Trump Organization.Senate Judiciary Committee leaders said on Thursday that Trump campaign officials had handed over "communications with Sergei Millian, copied to Mr. Kushner," that Kushner had apparently failed to disclose voluntarily. Kushner also received an email that discussed a "Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite" from Alexander Torshin, the deputy head of Russia's central bank, according to NBC.Jared Kushner's lawyer told the committee that the "communications" with Millian were between Millian and Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, in which Cohen was urging Millian to stop speaking to the press.A Washington Post profile from March noted an additional point of contact: Millian told associates last year that he was in regular touch with George Papadopoulos — a campaign foreign policy adviser who pleaded guilty late last month to making false statements to the FBI about the extent and nature of his contacts with Kremlin-linked foreign nationals.Papadopoulos tried to connect another Trump aide, Boris Epshtyn, with Millian in September 2016, according to the Post. Epshtyn said the meeting never happened.Millian, who is now a US citizen, founded the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce in 2006 and has described himself as an exclusive broker for the Trump Organization with respect to the company's potential real-estate dealings in Russia.Millian (R) with Oleg Deripaska.Screenshot/FacebookHe attended several black-tie events at Trump's inauguration, and told the Russian news agency RIA that he had been in touch with the Trump Organization as late as April 2016. He was also photographed at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in June 2016 with the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a longtime business associate of Trump's campaign chairman Paul Manafort.It was around that time that Millian's organization, the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce, was looking for "delegates" to attend the Russian Oil & Gas Forum in Moscow.But Millian appears to have begun downplaying his ties to the Trump Organization after Western reporters started digging into Trump's Russia ties last summer.Contrary to what he told RIA, Millian told Business Insider in an email earlier this year that the last time he worked on a Trump-brand project was "in Florida around 2008." He did not respond to a request to clarify the discrepancy.Millian and the dossierMillian was identified by some US media outlets as a source for unverified memos known as the Steele dossier — named after its author, former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. Millian has denied this allegation, and more doubt about Millian's connection to the dossier emerged in a Nov. 3, 2021 federal indictment that charged Igor Danchenko, a Russia expert who contributed to the Steele dossier, with lying to investigators about receiving information for the dossier from Millian.ABC reported in January 2017 that "while the published [Trump-Russia] dossier never names Millian, a version provided to the FBI included Millian's name as a source." The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal reported later that Millian was either source "D" or "E" in the dossier, which Millian has denied.Source D, according to the dossier, had been "present" for Trump's alleged "perverted conduct in Moscow."Millian has worked with Rossotrudnichestvo, a Russian government organization whose "fundamental" goal is to familiarize "young people from different countries" with Russian culture through exchange trips to Moscow. The FBI has investigated whether Rossotrudnichestvo is a front for the Russian government to cultivate "young, up-and-coming Americans as Russian intelligence assets" — a theory Rossotrudnichestvo has strongly denied.Sergei Millian at an event following Trump's inauguration on January 20th.Screenshot/FacebookIn January, however, Millian told Mother Jones he "never got any business with Rossotrudnichestvo." He did not respond to requests from Business Insider to clarify that discrepancy.Source E, meanwhile," acknowledged that the Russian regime had been behind the recent leak of embarrassing e-mail messages, emanating from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), to the WikiLeaks platform," according to the dossier.Source E also claimed that the Trump campaign and Russia had moles in the Democratic Party; that US-based "cyber operators" were coordinating attacks on the DNC and Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta; and that these operators were being paid covertly via Russian "diplomatic staff" in "key" US cities via that Russia's emigre pension system."I am one of those very few people who have insider knowledge of Kremlin politics who has the ability to understand the Russian mentality and who has been able to successfully integrate in American society," Millian told ABC in July 2016.The same source is quoted in the dossier as saying the Trump campaign was "relatively relaxed" about the attention on Trump's reported ties to Russia "because it deflected media and the Democrats' attention away from Trump's business dealings in China."Millian has worked as the "vice president of the World Chinese Merchants Union Association" since 2015, according to his LinkedIn page. He wrote last April that he traveled to Beijing to meet with a Chinese official and the Russian ambassador to the Republic of San Marino.Millian's relationship with Papadopoulos raises questionsMillian's relationship with Papadopoulos, moreover — who was told in April 2016 that the Kremlin had "dirt" on Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails" — raises questions about what they discussed during the election and what they relayed to campaign officials.According to documents filed by special counsel Robert Mueller's office and unsealed late last month, Papadopoulos met with a "professor" in London "on or about April 26, 2016" who told him that the Russians had obtained "dirt" on Hillary Clinton.Papadopoulos proposed a Trump-Putin meeting during a March 2016 meeting with Sessions, Gordon, and other campaign foreign policy advisers.Screenshot/Twitter"During this meeting, the Professor told defendant that he had just returned from a trip to Moscow where he had met with high-level Russian government officials," one document says."The professor told defendant that on that trip he (the professor) learned that the Russians had obtained "dirt" on then-candidate Clinton. The professor told defendant Papadopoulos, as Papadopoulos later described to the FBI, that 'they [the Russians] have dirt on her'; 'the Russians had emails on Clinton'; 'they have thousands of emails.'"The document suggests Papadopoulos had known that Russia was actively trying to undermine Clinton before virtually anyone else, and it matches some of what the dossier's "source E" — believed to be Millian — told an associate who then relayed it to Christopher Steele. Still, it remains unclear whether Papadopoulos told anyone on the campaign, or connected to it, about what he had learned. The day after his meeting with the professor, Papadopoulos emailed one of the campaign's top policy advisers, Stephen Miller, saying he had "some interesting messages coming in from Moscow about a trip when the time is right."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 16th, 2021