Editor’s Note: If it is not “The Ghost Ship America” in Oakland (quite a telling name also), then it must be Wilthshire, England, of course. | 10:57 AM 7/5/2018 – Novichok, Amesbury, and Aldrich Ames: Is This A Message? – UK Calls on Russia to Give Details of Nerve Attack After Two More People Struck Down

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The Wiltshire News and Times:

Editor’s Note: If it is not “The Ghost Ship America” in Oakland (quite a telling name also), then it must be Wilthshire, England, of course. 

_____________________________

Novichok, Amesbury, and Aldrich Ames: Is This A Message? 

(E.G.: “Bury your own Aldrich Ameses – the traitors, they are your real problem, more than outsiders… You, Noviy-Nova, Novichock [Novice], Novi – “chock”, “choke”… watch out… novi choke – a new chokehold, etc. Note the combinations of Russian and English words.) 

The names associated with this and the previous episode can be interpreted as messages, or “telling names“.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia: [Scripal: (R) Scripet, to make the unpleasant scraping  sounds, fig. to criticize in a boring way. Yulia: (R) yula, yo-yo.] 

_____________________

“Paramedics were called on Saturday morning to a house in

  • Amesbury [Bury Ames-es]

after the woman, named by media as

collapsed. They returned later in the day when the man,

also fell ill.”

UK Calls on Russia to Give Details of Nerve Attack After Two More People Struck Down

Just like so many other previous accidents, incidents, and various suspicious episodes, which I tried to describe and to interpret earlier in my posts, these are the linguistic components of the “performance crimes”. This is how I hypothesize the steps in carrying out these acts: 

First (!), the names (or other type of the verbal message with the certain key words) are selected from the databases, and then the criminal act is performed on those random people having these names, and this is done to show that the criminal act can be directed against anyone at the perpetrators’ choosing. 

Apparently, the purpose is to cause the mass scare and panic. In this case, a small container with Novichok can be left anywhere surreptitiously, and it  will evaporate the poison for a long time, causing the chronic poisoning. The timing, shortly before Mr. Trump’s visit to Britain, is the very curious, and most likely more than just the coincidental occurrence. but do not rush to any premature conclusions regarding the perpetrators. 

The style is Mafiosi, the ultimate goal might be commercial, to attract financing to the pharmaceutical companies engaged in anti-toxins research and production. (For example and comparison, see Anthrax scare and Cipro). But the face context is political. 

Michael Novakhov

7/5/2018

___________________________

novichok – Google Search

amesbury – Google Search

ames cia – Google Search

Aldrich Ames – Wikipedia

How Aldrich Ames betrayed the CIA by selling secrets to the Russians

How the F.B.I. Finally Caught Aldrich Ames

_______________________________

Saved Stories – 1. US Security
UK Calls on Russia to Give Details of Nerve Attack After Two More People Struck Down
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Saved Stories – 1. US Security
UK Calls on Russia to Give Details of Nerve Attack After Two More People Struck Down

By Alex Fraser and Henry NichollsAMESBURY, England (Reuters) – Britain called on Russia to give details about the Novichok nerve agent attack on a former double agent and his daughter after two British citizens were struck down with the same poison.The two Britons, a 44-year-old woman and a 45-year-old man, were critically ill after an apparently chance encounter with the poison near the site of the March attack on ex-double agent

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. 

[Scripal: (R) Scripet, to make the unpleasant scraping  sounds, fig. to criticize in a boring way. Yulia: (R) yula, yo-yo.]

Britain accused Russia of poisoning the Skripals with Novichok – a nerve agent developed by the Soviet military during the Cold War – in what is the first known offensive use of such a chemical weapon on European soil since World War Two.

Russia, which is currently hosting the soccer World Cup, has denied any involvement in the March incident and suggested the British security services had carried out the attack to stoke anti-Moscow hysteria.

“The Russian state could put this ‘wrong’ right. They could tell us what happened, what they did and fill in some of the significant gaps that we are trying to pursue,” British Security Minister Ben Wallace said.

“I’m waiting for the phone call from the Russian state.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he did not know who Ben Wallace was but said Russia had offered Britain its assistance in investigating the nerve agent attack and had been rebuffed.

MYSTERIOUS

In the latest twist in one of the most mysterious poisonings in recent years, the two Britons, who were taken ill on Saturday, were initially thought to have taken an overdose of heroin or crack cocaine.

But tests by the Porton Down military research center showed they had been exposed to Novichok.

It is unclear how the two Britons, whose background has nothing to suggest a link to the world of espionage or the former Soviet Union, came into contact with the poison, which is slow to decompose.

“The working assumption would be that these are victims of either the consequences of the previous attack or something else, but not that they were directly targeted,” Wallace said.

Paramedics were called on Saturday morning to a house in

  • Amesbury [Bury Ames-es]

after the woman, named by media as

collapsed. They returned later in the day when the man,

also fell ill.

Amesbury is located seven miles (11 km) north of Salisbury, where Skripal – a former colonel in Russian military intelligence who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain’s MI6 foreign spy service – and his daughter were found slumped unconscious on a bench on March 4.

CONTAMINATION

Health chiefs said the risk to the public was low, repeating their earlier advice that the public should wash their clothes and use cleansing wipes on personal items.

But the exposure of two British citizens to a such a dangerous nerve agent will stoke fears that Novichok could be lingering at sites around the ancient English city of Salisbury.

Andrea Sella, professor of inorganic chemistry at University College London, said Novichok nerve agents were designed to be quite persistent and did not decompose quickly.

“That means that if a container or a surface was contaminated with this material it would remain a danger for a long time,” Sella said.

“It will be vital to trace the movements of this couple to identify where they might have come into contact with the source.”

After the Skripal poisoning, police investigators in protective hazmat suits scoured Salisbury. They may return, police said.

The March attack prompted the biggest Western expulsion of Russian diplomats since the Cold War as allies sided with Prime Minister Theresa May’s view that Moscow was either responsible or had lost control of the nerve agent.

Moscow also hit back by expelling Western diplomats, questioning how Britain knows that Russia was responsible and offering rival interpretations, including that it amounted to a plot by British secret services.

Additional reporting by Sarah Young, Kate Holton and Kate Kelland in London, Andrew Osborn and Polina Nikolskaya in Moscow; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by John Stonestreet and Gareth Jones

The post UK Calls on Russia to Give Details of Nerve Attack After Two More People Struck Downappeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

The Early Edition: July 5, 2018

________________________________

January 26 2018

In this April 28, 1994, file photo, former CIA officer Aldrich Ames leaves federal court in Alexandria, Va. (AP Photo/Denis Paquin)

Aldrich “Rick” Ames was desperate for money. It was the mid-1980s, and the CIA’s senior counterintelligence officer in the Soviet division had also grown disillusioned with his employer and the spy games between the United States and Soviet Union. So, on June 13 1985, inside his Langley office, Ames made a bold decision. He packed up a six-pound stack of documents that showed the case files and cryptonyms of some of the agency’s best Soviet sources, each with code names such as TICKLE, GENTILE, MILLION and JOGGER.

Then, he stuffed the papers into plastic bags, jammed them into his briefcase, walked to an elevator, and walked out the door of the CIA, according to “Betrayal: The Story of Aldrich Ames, An American Spy,” a 1995 book by a team of New York Times reporters. His next stop was the parking lot, where he got in his car, transferred the dossier into a plastic shopping bag, and drove to have lunch with a Soviet official.

“As they dined, the shopping bag sat under the table. It held nothing but the documents — and the soul of a burned-out CIA man,” according to the “Betrayal” authors, who interviewed Ames. ” ‘In a sense, I was delivering myself along with them,’ Ames said. ‘I was saying: Over to you, KGB. You guys take care of me now. I’ve done this. I’ve demonstrated that I’m holding nothing back. You guys take care of me.’ ”

Does the CIA have a modern-day Ames on its hands now? For several years, federal investigators have been trying to determine whether a mole has been responsible for the imprisonment or deaths of the CIA’s network of informants in China. Last week the Justice Department announced the arrest of a former CIA case officer who served in China, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 53, a naturalized U.S. citizen who left the agency in 2007 and is a suspect in the China investigation.

So far, he has been charged only with unlawful possession of classified information, keeping notebooks filled with the true names and phone numbers of assets and covert CIA employees in an undisclosed country. But Lee’s arrest — and the glaring possibility of a mole deep in the heart of Langley — resurfaced memories of Ames, the agency’s most notorious turncoat.

The investigations into both men share a similar thread: Their bank activities made them suspicious. Lee received hundreds of thousands of dollars “in unexplained bank deposits,” the New York Times reported Wednesday.

Back in 1985, the CIA was beside itself. A disturbing number of its well-placed sources in the Soviet Union were vanishing. Had a mole infiltrated Langley? Was Moscow stealthily intercepting agency communications? On the surface, relations between the country were far from perfect, but they were improving. The Cold War was thawing. Moscow was embracing a new era of openness and reform, led by Mikhail Gorbachev, the new General Secretary of the Communist Party.

By 1986, the CIA assembled a five-person team to investigate.


The Ames mole hunt team spent years trying to figure out who was leaking to the Soviets during the 1980s. From left to right: Sandy Grimes, Paul Redmond, Jeanne Vertefeuille, Diana Worthen, and Dan Payne. (Courtesy of CIA)

It would take years for the team to finger Ames, who began his career at the agency in 1962 as a clerk and eventually reached case officer status.

In the early 1980s, he found himself perched atop the Soviet Counterintelligence Branch in the Soviet/East European division, an inner sanctum of Langley’s most secret secrets. In that role, he had to assess information from Soviet assets and analyze the personal histories of Soviet intelligence officers recruited by the CIA. In other words, anyone in that job would be a highly attractive KGB recruit.

Ames, who apparently drank too much after work, struggled to recruit his own foreign agents. His evaluations even noted that he needed to tend more to his personal hygiene — his teeth were rotting and he wore “slovenly clothes,” according to “Betrayal.”

It was shortly after this time, in early 1985, when Ames began to flip, according to a jailhouse interview he (shockingly) conducted with Washington Post national security reporter Walter Pincus, right after pleading guilty in 1994. Ames told The Post that he was suffering pressing financial problems and needed money. So, he turned to the Soviets. In 1985, he gave them the names of two KGB officers who may have defected. The Soviets showed their gratitude with a payment of $50,000.

“[I] was one of the most knowledgeable people in the intelligence community on the Russian intelligence service. And my access to information and my knowledge of the Soviets was such that I could get virtually anything I wanted,” Ames told The Post.

Ames liked the quick money so much that he made what he described as a “fundamental shift in loyalty” and gave the KGB “the keys to the kingdom” — the list containing the names of all Soviet agents he knew were working for the CIA, the FBI and other nations’ intelligence services.

The treasure trove, delivered over lunch to a Soviet official, led to a huge windfall. A Soviet contact wrote him a message saying that $2 million had been set aside for him. Soon, he began collecting his prize in small increments, according to his interview.

“I was surprised and shocked at the magnitude of that,” Ames told The Post. Now, he reasoned, he could have a child with his second wife, Maria del Rosario Casas. “In addition to this whole financial thing, [the Soviets] had put a little marker down in terms of mutual confidence and loyalty.”

But the Soviets’ disbursements came with warnings, Ames said. His handlers, he told The Post, “agonized over every nickel they handed out, pleading and repeating and reiterating: ‘Be careful, be careful. This is the way that people get caught.’ ”

In his own mind, he justified his treachery as a means of “leveling the playing field” and “that within the American intelligence community, we knew damn well that the KGB wasn’t going to town on us,” he told The Post.

Ames continued his secret life even while he was stationed in Rome in 1986. A few years later, Ames and his wife moved back to the United States, where he bought a $540,000 house in Arlington, Va. (Real estate websites say the home is now worth nearly double that amount.) Once they settled into their home, they continued to spend. A new kitchen. Lavish landscaping. New window treatments across the whole house, all at once. Ames even purchased a new Jaguar.


Ames is led from a U.S. federal c ourthouse after being arraigned Feb. 22, 1994, on charges of spying for the former Soviet Union. (AFP)

The CIA’s small squad of investigators hadn’t given up — and they took notice. They reviewed his finances but didn’t immediately find a smoking gun. Everyone they interviewed said his wealth came from his wife’s Colombian family, according to “Circle of Treason,” a book on the Ames scandal by Sandy Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille, two of the CIA officers on the team and close friends.

It wasn’t until the summer of 1992 when the CIA team got the goods. Grimes examined the timing of a series of Ames’s bank deposits from 1985 and his sanctioned meetings with a Soviet arms control specialist. She noticed a pattern: He’d have lunch with the Soviet one day, and the same or the next day, he’d deposit sizable amounts of cash, from $5,000 to $9,000.

“To Sandy this was an epiphany,” according to “Circle of Treason.” “She told us what she found, then sped to [another investigator] to fill him in. Her excited announcement to him was: ‘It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell what is going on here. Rick is a goddamn Russian spy.’ ”

By 1994, fearing that Ames was about to flee the United States, the FBI arrested him a few blocks from his house. Two months later, he and his wife pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit espionage and tax fraud. Ames was sentenced to life in prison, while his wife, who pleaded guilty to a lesser version of the espionage charge, got five years. As part of the deal, Ames had to help the CIA uncover the full extent of damage he had inflicted.

The most valuable spy killed because of Ames’s disclosures was a Soviet military intelligence officer Gen. Dimitri Fedorovich Polyakov, whose code name was “Tophat.” The general supplied the CIA with the names of Soviet spies in the United States, as well as data on Soviet missiles and nuclear war strategy.

The full extent of Ames’ damage may never be known. Vertefeuille gave an interview in 1997, saying that Ames furnished the Soviets with the names of “hundreds” of foreign agents working for the United States around the world. Investigators believe Ames was paid in the millions.

In his Pennsylvania prison cell, Ames kept busy. He agreed to lengthy interviews, but maybe his most bizarre act was that he once moonlighted as a literary critic. He’d gotten his hands on a novel called “Sleeper Spy” by William Safire, the now- deceased New York Times columnist, according to a Washington Post account. He wrote up a review and passed it onto his lawyer, Plato Cacheris, who happened to be friends with Safire, and who would later go on to defend former FBI agent-turned-Russian mole Robert Hanssen. The CIA, amazingly, gave Ames the green light and allowed him to publish it. Safire told Cacheris to fax over the review to Safire’s friend, the publisher of the Hill newspaper. And the Hill ran it.

An excerpt of the review still exists on the website of the Baltimore Sun. Say what you want about Ames, the double agent had high literary standards.

“Since the preposterous plot is not meant to be taken seriously, even by the characters who struggle in its contradictory meshes, Safire concentrates his considerable energies on stuffing their mouths with knowing references to journalism, publishing, high finance, the CIA and KGB,” Ames wrote. “One hinge of his plot involves the workings of presidential covert-action findings, no very mysterious process, but one that Safire is determined to get wrong . . . His ignorance might serve an op-ed man well, but it’s of no help to a novelist.”

Read more Retropolis:

The Nazis were closing in on a spy known as ‘The Limping Lady.’ She fled across mountains on a wooden leg.

The CIA acknowledges the legendary spy who saved Hamid Karzai’s life — and honors him by name

They were smokejumpers when the CIA sent them to Laos. They came back in caskets.

‘I am ready’: Mata Hari faced a firing squad for spying — and refused a blindfold.

In Brief – Saved Stories

Saved Stories – None
novichok – Google Search
amesbury – Google Search
ames cia – Google Search
Aldrich Ames – Wikipedia
How Aldrich Ames betrayed the CIA by selling secrets to the Russians
How the F.B.I. Finally Caught Aldrich Ames
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mikenova shared this story from novichok – Google News.

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She was a CIA spy. Now she’s a lawyer battling her old agency.

Prince George CitizenJun 6, 2018
As a Secret Service officer and a contractor for the CIA and the …. warned the CIA, to no avail, about a colleague named Aldrich Ames who was …

Story image for ames cia from Washington Post

‘Rick is a goddamn Russian spy’: Does the CIA have a new Aldrich …

Washington PostJan 26, 2018
Aldrich “Rick” Ames was desperate for money. It was the mid-1980s, and the CIA’s senior counterintelligence officer in the Soviet division had …

Story image for ames cia from FiveThirtyEight

Spying Doesn’t Pay — Unless You’re Really Good At It

FiveThirtyEightJun 21, 2018
Only four U.S. spies are thought to have been paid at least $1 million over their careers: CIA officers Aldrich Ames and Larry Wu-Tai Chin, Army …

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Central Intelligence Agency

We Are The Mighty (blog)Jun 6, 2018
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Five Best: Joyce Lee Malcolm

Wall Street JournalJun 28, 2018
The reader knows from the start that Aldrich Ames is the mole at the CIA’s Soviet counterintelligence desk—the source responsible, from the …

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The Amazing Story of the Russian Defector Who Changed his Mind

<a href=”http://Washingtonian.com” rel=”nofollow”>Washingtonian.com</a>Feb 18, 2018
Rochford’s supervisor instructed him to go to the air base, meet a CIA analyst named Aldrich Ames, and find out what this defector knew.
Aldrich Ames – Wikipedia
 

mikenova shared this story .

Aldrich Hazen Ames (/mz/; born May 26, 1941) is a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer turned KGB mole, who was convicted of espionage in 1994. He is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole in the Federal Correctional Institution in Terre HauteIndianaUnited States.[2]Ames was formerly a 31-year CIA counterintelligence analyst who committed espionage against the U.S. by spying for the Soviet Union and Russia.[3] At the time of his arrest, Ames had compromised more CIA assets than any other mole in history until Robert Hanssen‘s arrest seven years later.

How Aldrich Ames betrayed the CIA by selling secrets to the Russians
 

mikenova shared this story .

How the F.B.I. Finally Caught Aldrich Ames
 

mikenova shared this story .

Although Mr. Ames was able to elude detection for nearly nine years, those interviewed are clearly proud of their investigation’s successful conclusion. This despite a House Intelligence Committee report that has criticized the bureau’s officials for a “wait and see” approach to finding a spy who had done great damage to American intelligence.

Mr. Ames, a counterintelligence officer in the C.I.A.’s Soviet division, began providing information to the Kremlin in 1985 and continued doing so until his arrest, along with that of his wife, Rosario, at their home outside Washington last Feb. 21. Over the years, the K.G.B. and its successor agencies in Russia paid him more than $2.5 million, in exchange for which he compromised more than a hundred Western intelligence operations and in effect sent at least 10 men to their death by identifying them as agents of the West.

Mr. Ames last year pleaded guilty to spying for Moscow, and his wife pleaded guilty to a lesser espionage offense. He is serving a life sentence at a Federal prison in Allenwood, Pa. She is serving a five-year sentence in Danbury, Conn.

The F.B.I.’s involvement in the case began with a fruitless analytical effort undertaken in the late 1980’s, after two of the bureau’s premier double agents, both K.G.B. men in Washington, had been recalled by Moscow and executed. In its search for the betrayer of the two men, the F.B.I. focused on Edward Lee Howard, a junior C.I.A. officer who had defected to Moscow. But the bureau concluded that although Mr. Howard might have known the identity of one man, he had not known the identity of the other.

The search was then largely dormant until 1991, when officials of the intelligence agency told the F.B.I. of a string of operational disasters that could be explained only by the presence of a mole inside American intelligence.

“What revived it was we realized how badly we’d been hurt,” said Robert M. Bryant, then agent in charge at the F.B.I.’s Washington field office, who is now the bureau’s top national security official.

That realization led to the first large-scale cooperative counterintelligence inquiry by the F.B.I. and the C.I.A., an agency that had never before shared its operational files with its law-enforcement counterpart.

Feuding between the two agencies dated from the era of J. Edgar Hoover, who died in 1972 after 48 years as F.B.I. Director. And it did not end with the decision to work together on the mole case. Mr. Bryant, a blunt lawyer from Little Rock, Ark., known within the bureau as the Bear, was a hardened criminal investigator who, angered by a C.I.A. culture of concealment that he thought was slowing the inquiry, clashed with his counterparts at the intelligence agency. His shouted threats to prosecute C.I.A. officers for obstruction of justice kept other F.B.I. officials scrambling to smooth over strained relations.

Gradually, though, the investigators narrowed their list of suspects, largely as a result of a huge analytical effort that sought to track even the hour-by-hour movements of Russian officials in Washington back in the mid-1980’s.

Mr. Ames made every list. As an expert on Soviet affairs, he had had direct access to data on many of the operations involving the compromised agents. Moreover, C.I.A. officials had by then found hundreds of thousands of dollars flowing into his bank accounts from unexplained sources, and some of the deposits had been made shortly after his known meetings with a Russian Embassy official.

On May 24, 1993, two weeks after the criminal investigation of Mr. Ames had formally begun, Mr. Bryant turned to Leslie G. Wiser Jr., a former Navy lawyer who ran an F.B.I. counterintelligence squad, to assemble a team of about eight agents, supported by dozens of technical and support specialists.

They watched and waited. Then came Black Thursday.

From their wiretaps on Mr. Ames’s home telephone, agents had previously picked up cryptic comments suggesting that he was getting ready to deliver, imminently, a package to the Russians. But by the time surveillance units arrived at his home at 6:30 that morning, he had not only left — subsequent review of videotape from a camera mounted across the street showed that he had departed at 6:03 — but indeed already returned.

“That was really unusual, because Ames was not really a particularly industrious guy,” Mr. Bryant said. “For him to move out at 6:03 in the morning meant something was up.”

That afternoon, a surveillance team waited outside the C.I.A.’s main gates, hoping to follow Mr. Ames from his office at the agency’s headquarters to a drop site. The agency’s security guards, unaware of the operation, had rousted surveillance teams from the roadside once before, forcing them to pull back far from the exit. Around 4 P.M., Mr. Ames climbed into his Jaguar and in a moment had turned onto the George Washington Parkway.

“And the guy gets out on the G. W. Parkway and just takes off like a bat out of hell,” Mr. Bryant said. “And we lose him.”

The Director of Central Intelligence and the F.B.I. Director both knew that Mr. Ames was under surveillance that day. When they heard that he had escaped, they started “asking a lot of very painful questions,” Mr. Bryant said.

That night, Mr. Wiser said, he experienced “the depths of despair.” But he was sure of at least one thing: Mr. Ames was behaving like a spy.

After the setback, Mr. Wiser’s superiors were wary of the step he next proposed: a search of Mr. Ames’s trash. Mr. Bryant, fearful of aggressive moves that might alert the suspect that he was under surveillance, by his own account told Mr. Wiser: “Les, I don’t think that’s a very good idea. If we get burned on this thing, we can’t ride too much heat.”

Mr. Wiser remembers matters a little differently. By his recollection, Mr. Bryant had at one point suspended garbage searches in the case but had not permanently barred them.

In any event, Mr. Wiser decided to go ahead with the trash search, and on the night of Sept. 15, 1993, a black van with an open side door crawled silently up North Randolph Street toward the Ameses’ house in wealthy suburban Arlington, Va. With Mr. Ames out of town — he had gone to Ankara, Turkey, on C.I.A. work — the time seemed right to take the offensive.

The van slowed to a stop. A surveillance team leaped out, took the Ameses’ trash can and replaced it with one from inside the van. (Later, after examining the refuse at another location, they would return the original can.)

From the garbage, the agents picked out fragments of yellow paper — a Post-It note, torn up and tossed away. Fitted almost entirely back together, the message read:

“I am ready to meet at B on 1 Oct.

“I cannot read North 13-19 Sept.

“If you will meet at B on 1 Oct. Pls signal North

“w [ piece missing ] of 20 Sept. to confi [ missing ]

“No message at Pipe

“If you cannot mee [ missing ] 1 Oct. signal North after 27 Sept. with message at Pipe.”

The agents quickly deciphered the note. It was a draft, written by Mr. Ames and then rejected by him, of a message to his handlers. “North” and “Pipe” referred to locations — signal sites or drops where he could leave or get messages and pick up money. “B” referred to Bogota, Colombia, where he and his handlers were to meet.

The agents sent the note to a laboratory for analysis and woke Mr. Wiser at home. Within an hour, in early morning, he was at his office, examining a black and white photograph of the note.

“If there was a reservoir of doubt that existed before — which there was, this little bit of doubt about what was really going on here — it was gone,” Mr. Wiser said. “We knew now. We had the right guy, for sure.”

When Mr. Bryant arrived at his office at the usual time later that morning, he saw Mr. Wiser grinning triumphantly.

“I thought, ‘Holy God, this is unusual,’ ” Mr. Bryant said. “Wiser looked like the Halloween pumpkin. I mean, he was so happy it was unbelievable. And that’s when he came up with that note. In 27 years in the F.B.I., that’s probably my favorite document.”

Later, Mr. Bryant would gladly forgive Mr. Wiser’s disobedience in going ahead with the trash search. “That,” he said, “is the finest piece of insubordination I’ve ever seen.”

Continue reading the main story

Trump admin urges higher ed to ignore…

What do African-American communities “have to lose” from a Trump presidency? Plenty.Read more
Donald Trump Diaper-Clad ‘Baby’ Blimp Gets Approval to Fly Over London During President’s Visit Next Week – Newsweek
 


Newsweek
Donald Trump Diaper-Clad ‘Baby’ Blimp Gets Approval to Fly Over London During President’s Visit Next Week
Newsweek
President Donald Trump will be greeted by a giant, unflattering orange blimp when he makes his first visit to the United Kingdom as president next week. London Mayor Sadiq Khan gave his approval Thursday for the so-called “Trump baby” blimp to fly over …and more »
UK demands Russia explain nerve attack after two more people struck down

AMESBURY, England (Reuters) – Britain demanded on Thursday that Russia provide details about the Novichok nerve agent attack on a former double agent and his daughter after two British citizens were struck down with the same poison.

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LONDON (Reuters) – The U.S. Navy stands ready to ensure freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce, a spokesman for the U.S. military’s Central Command said on Thursday, after Iran threatened to block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if Washington bans its oil sales.

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NATO Has Two Big Problems: Putin and Trump – Bloomberg
 


Bloomberg
NATO Has Two Big Problems: Putin and Trump
Bloomberg
The fear is that Trump will conduct another slash-and-burn mission at the NATO summit, then follow it up with a warm and chatty engagement with Putin a few days later in Helsinki. This would follow the pattern he established several weeks ago when he …
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Germany and Austria plan talks with Italy to ‘shut’ southern migrant route

VIENNA (Reuters) – Germany and Austria said on Thursday they will hold talks with Italy next week on how to jointly “shut” the migration route across the Mediterranean from Africa into Europe.

UK Calls on Russia to Give Details of Nerve Attack After Two More People Struck Down

By Alex Fraser and Henry NichollsAMESBURY, England (Reuters) – Britain called on Russia to give details about the Novichok nerve agent attack on a former double agent and his daughter after two British citizens were struck down with the same poison.The two Britons, a 44-year-old woman and a 45-year-old man, were critically ill after an apparently chance encounter with the poison near the site of the March attack on ex-double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.Britain accused Russia of poisoning the Skripals with Novichok – a nerve agent developed by the Soviet military during the Cold War – in what is the first known offensive use of such a chemical weapon on European soil since World War Two.Russia, which is currently hosting the soccer World Cup, has denied any involvement in the March incident and suggested the British security services had carried out the attack to stoke anti-Moscow hysteria.”The Russian state could put this ‘wrong’ right. They could tell us what happened, what they did and fill in some of the significant gaps that we are trying to pursue,” British Security Minister Ben Wallace said.”I’m waiting for the phone call from the Russian state.”Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he did not know who Ben Wallace was but said Russia had offered Britain its assistance in investigating the nerve agent attack and had been rebuffed.MYSTERIOUSIn the latest twist in one of the most mysterious poisonings in recent years, the two Britons, who were taken ill on Saturday, were initially thought to have taken an overdose of heroin or crack cocaine.But tests by the Porton Down military research center showed they had been exposed to Novichok.It is unclear how the two Britons, whose background has nothing to suggest a link to the world of espionage or the former Soviet Union, came into contact with the poison, which is slow to decompose.”The working assumption would be that these are victims of either the consequences of the previous attack or something else, but not that they were directly targeted,” Wallace said.

Paramedics were called on Saturday morning to a house in Amesbury after the woman, named by media as Dawn Sturgess, collapsed. They returned later in the day when the man, Charlie Rowley, also fell ill.

Amesbury is located seven miles (11 km) north of Salisbury, where Skripal – a former colonel in Russian military intelligence who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain’s MI6 foreign spy service – and his daughter were found slumped unconscious on a bench on March 4.

CONTAMINATION

Health chiefs said the risk to the public was low, repeating their earlier advice that the public should wash their clothes and use cleansing wipes on personal items.

But the exposure of two British citizens to a such a dangerous nerve agent will stoke fears that Novichok could be lingering at sites around the ancient English city of Salisbury.

Andrea Sella, professor of inorganic chemistry at University College London, said Novichok nerve agents were designed to be quite persistent and did not decompose quickly.

“That means that if a container or a surface was contaminated with this material it would remain a danger for a long time,” Sella said.

“It will be vital to trace the movements of this couple to identify where they might have come into contact with the source.”

After the Skripal poisoning, police investigators in protective hazmat suits scoured Salisbury. They may return, police said.

The March attack prompted the biggest Western expulsion of Russian diplomats since the Cold War as allies sided with Prime Minister Theresa May’s view that Moscow was either responsible or had lost control of the nerve agent.

Moscow also hit back by expelling Western diplomats, questioning how Britain knows that Russia was responsible and offering rival interpretations, including that it amounted to a plot by British secret services.

Additional reporting by Sarah Young, Kate Holton and Kate Kelland in London, Andrew Osborn and Polina Nikolskaya in Moscow; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by John Stonestreet and Gareth Jones

The post UK Calls on Russia to Give Details of Nerve Attack After Two More People Struck Downappeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

The Early Edition: July 5, 2018 – Just Security
 

The Early Edition: July 5, 2018
Just Security
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo travels to North Korea today under considerable pressure to make progress with Pyongyang, as U.S. intelligence reports cast doubt on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s commitment to dismantle his nuclear and missile and more »
The messy reality of Donald Trump’s poll numbers – Vox
 


Vox
The messy reality of Donald Trump’s poll numbers
Vox
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Sanctioned Russian oligarch linked to Cohen has vast US ties – CBS News
 


CBS News
Sanctioned Russian oligarch linked to Cohen has vast US ties
CBS News
Vekselberg also has cemented tech deals using a Kremlin-funded foundation — raising national security concerns years before special counsel Robert Mueller began probing contacts between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign andRussian …
Cohen-linked Russian oligarch has numerous ties to US: APThe Hillall 23 news articles »
Michael Cohen Has Removed All Mention of Trump on His Social Media Accounts – Fortune
 


Fortune
Michael Cohen Has Removed All Mention of Trump on His Social Media Accounts
Fortune
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The Early Edition: July 5, 2018

Signup to receive the Early Edition in your inbox here.Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.The KOREAN PENINSULAU.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo travels to North Korea today under considerable pressure to make progress with Pyongyang, as U.S. intelligence reports cast doubt on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s commitment to dismantle his nuclear and missile programs. Zachary Cohen and Elise Labott report at CNN.Pompeo will spend a day and a half in North Korea tomorrow and on Saturday, on what will be his third trip to the country this year, with the U.S. seeming to have ditched its “all or nothing” approach to North Korean denuclearization. David Brunnstrom, John Walcott and Hyonhee Shin report at Reuters.“Many good conversations with North Korea – it is going well!” Trump claimed in a message on Twitter Tuesday morning, but the president’s critics argue that Trump’s softer tone towards Pyongyang in recent weeks indicates that he was taken in by Kim. David E. Sanger reports at the New York Times.Citizens under the North Korean regime are increasingly convinced that the flurry of U.S.-North Korean diplomacy is a charade and that Kim will never abandon his arsenal of nuclear weapons. Bryan Harris reports at the Financial Times.The two Koreas began two days of friendly basketball games in Pyongyang yesterday, in the latest gesture of goodwill amid diplomatic efforts to resolve the nuclear standoff. Kim Tong-Hyung reports at the Washington Post.President Trump and Kim made a commitment at their June summit in Singapore to repatriate remains of as many as 200 U.S. soldiers, but the nature of past efforts suggests the repatriation process could be fraught with pitfalls, including a mixed record of cooperation from Pyongyang and arduous identification process. Dan Lamothe and Paul Sonne report at the Washington Post.The U.S. administration needs something – anything – from Pompeo’s visit to indicate that Kim will keep at least one of the commitments from last month’s summit in Singapore, as Trump repeatedly makes concessions upfront,  Donald Kirk argues at The Daily Beast.SYRIAPro-Syrian government forces today launched their most intensive bombing campaign yet in their ongoing offensive on southwestern Deraa province, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (S.O.H.R.) said hundreds of missiles and barrel bombs were dropped by Syrian and Russian warplanes on rebel-held areas. The AFP reports.The assault was carried out after armed opposition group Syrian Negotiations Commission (S.N.C.) said that ceasefire talks with Russia had failed, with the apparent intention to establish a comprehensive ceasefire covering the provinces of Deraa and Quneitra, and the rebels walking out of the talks saying that the Russian terms amounted to a humiliating surrender. Al Jazeera reports.

The number of civilians displaced by fighting in Deraa is estimated to be between 270,000 and 330,000, according to a spokesperson for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (U.N.H.C.R.). The U.N. News Centre reports.

The son of the Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has reportedly been killed in Syria fighting Russia and Syrian government forces in central Homs province. Sarah El Deeb reports at the AP.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned Turkey against expanding its influence in the northern Afrin region of Syria in comments yesterday after meeting with Turkish President Reçep Tayyip Erdoğan, referring to the recent Turkish offensive against Syrian Kurdish Y.P.G. militia. Ahmed Aboulenein reports at Reuters.

Iran has been under increasing pressure to withdraw its military presence in Syria; however, it “will do everything in its power to resist and attempt to be forced out of Syria, a very important asset in its geopolitical game.” Marwan Kabalan writes at Al Jazeera, arguing that the Syrian conflict may end up becoming Iran’s “greatest regional failure in the near future.”

A feature on the new U.S. military base in Iraq which carries out operations against the Islamic State group in Syria is provided by Jane Arraf at NPR.

An overview on the treatment of the family members of Islamic State group militants in Syria is provided by Ben Hubbard at the New York Times.

U.S.-led airstrikes continue. U.S. and coalition forces carried out 29 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq between June 25 and July 1. [Central Command]

IRAN

The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met with Austrian officials yesterday to discuss efforts to preserve the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz also asked Rouhani for “full clarification” on the case of the Vienna-based Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi who has been detained in connection with a suspected plot to bomb last week’s rally of the Iranian exiled Mujahedin-e-Khalq (M.E.K.) group in France. The AP reports.

Iran would remain in the 2015 agreement only if other countries can “guarantee Iran’s interests,” Rouhani said yesterday. Max Greenwood reports at the Hill.

Rouhani told the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.) yesterday that Iran could reduce its cooperation with the body and said that “the responsibility for the change of Iran’s cooperation level with the I.A.E.A. falls on those who have created this new situation” – referring to U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal and its threats to reduce Iranian oil exports to “zero.” Bozorgmehr Sharafedin reports at Reuters.

The U.S. and its regional allies “stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever internal law allows,” a spokesperson for the U.S. Central Command said yesterday, responding to suggestions by Rouhani that Iran could halt regional oil exports through the Strait of Hormuz shipping route. Al Jazeera reports.

President Trump yesterday reissued a threat to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (O.P.E.C.) to raise oil output, linking the call for lower oil prices to U.S. security ties with U.S. allies in O.P.E.C. and also making the comments as U.S. prepares to reinstate sanctions on Iran and cut its oil exports. David Sheppard reports at the Financial Times.

Iran’s foreign ministry has summoned French, Belgian and German top diplomats in protest over the arrest of Iranian diplomat Assadi, Reuters reports.

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday called on Europe to take a tougher stance against Iran following the suspected plot to attack the M.E.K., urging leaders to “stop financing the terrorist regime that is financing terrorism against you on your soil. Enough with the policy of appeasement and weakness regarding Iran.” Reuters reports.

The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has canceled his scheduled trip to Tehran, according to Kyodo news, which comes amid increased pressure from the Trump administration on Iran. Reuters reports.

Demonstrations have broken out in Iran as part of a “larger pattern of discontent with the ruling theocracy” and President Trump’s increased pressure on Tehran following his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the nuclear deal. The Wall Street Journal editorial board writes, stating that the ruling establishment in Iran risks losing control at home if it does not amend its “marauding behavior.”

YEMEN

Yemeni government forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition have bombarded rebel positions outside the strategic port city of Hodeidah, after a brief pause in their advance, government sources said Tuesday. Iranian-backed Houthi rebels are building up their defenses inside the city as more civilians flee, Al Jazeera reports.

The U.N. envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths expressed optimism yesterday after discussing efforts to end the conflict in the country, saying that rebels and their allies have relayed their “strong desire for peace,” but a Houthi negotiator said there had been no breakthrough during the talks. Ahmed Al-Haj reports at the AP 

“There is no justification for this carnage,” the Unicef chief Henriette Forde told reporters on Tuesday, setting out the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen and the pressure on civilians in Hodeidah. The U.N. News Centre reports.

Aid groups have warned that Yemen is on the cusp of a humanitarian catastrophe, and there have been concerns that the Trump administration’s policies have been enabling the Saudi-led coalition and perpetuating the crisis. Robbie Gramer and Lara Seligman report at Foreign Policy.

NOVICHOK POISONINGS

A man and woman are in currently in a coma at a hospital in southwest England, having been poisoned by the Russian nerve agent Novichok – the same type of chemical used in an attack against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter four months ago, British counterterrorism investigators said last night. William Booth and Karla Adam report at the Washington Post.

U.K. Security Minister Ben Wallace has pointed to Russia as being responsible for the poisonings, and called on Moscow to assist authorities keep the U.K. population safe by giving information. An urgent investigation is under way to discover how the couple were exposed to the nerve agent, Steven Morris, Vikram Dodd and Caroline Bannock report at the Guardian.

The two victims are British citizens, identified locally as Charlie Rowley, 45, and Dawn Sturgess, 44,with the U.K. police saying that there was no indication that the couple would have been targets. The pair fell ill on Saturday in the southern town of Amesbury, after having visited Salisbury – including a spot near where the Skripals were stricken in March, Ellen Barry reports at the New York Times.

“How dumb [do] they think [Russia] is to use ‘again’ so-called ‘Novichok’ in the middle of the FIFA World Cup…The show must go on?,” the Russian embassy to the Netherlands commented in a messageon Twitter today. Andrey Ostroukh and Andrew Osborn report at Reuters.

The upcoming N.A.T.O summit, already billed as one of the tensest in the alliance’s 69-year history, will be yet more strained in light of the poisonings. Nico Hines explains at The Daily Beast.

N.A.T.O. SUMMIT

Tensions in the U.S.-European relationship are reaching a critical point as President Trump prepares to face allies at the July 11-12 N.A.T.O. summit, with the president having repeatedly vented his frustration at other members who he claims are not meeting the alliance’s defense spending goal. Trump’s tariffs, his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and his overtures to Russian President Vladimir Putin are further sources of friction, Rebecca Kheel reports at the Hill.

“I am not very impressed by this type of letter” said Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, referring to a letter from president Trump chastising allies for not meeting defense spending obligations. European officials are interpreting the letters as a thinly veiled threat that if the allies don’t spend more in defense of the alliance, the U.S. may do less, Michael R. Gordon reports at the Wall Street Journal.

When it comes to transatlantic security the president actually has a good story to tell, Derek Chollet argues at the Washington Post, questioning why the president is not bragging about his successes with the N.A.T.O alliance.

America’s overseas allies are right to see Washington as a mess, comments Karl Rove at the Wall Street Journal, who is nonetheless confident that “the good sense of the American people” will reassert itself.

ISRAEL-PALESTINE

Palestinian protests broke out at a Bedouin village Khan al-Ahmar facing demolition by the Israeli authorities in the occupied West Bank yesterday, with rights groups condemning the Israeli plans as a bid to expand Jewish settlement. Israel moved three bulldozers to the village early yesterday though demolition had yet to begin, Ali Sawafta reports at Reuters.

At least 134 Palestinians have been wounded in a mass women’s demonstration on the Gaza Strip, with media representatives among those injured by Israeli gunfire. The protesters participating in the Great March of Return protests arrived in buses on Tuesday and moved in groups to within 50 metres of the border fence, Al Jazeera reports.

TRUMP-RUSSIA

U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle dismissed a lawsuit alleging that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia and WikiLeaks to publish hacked Democratic National Committee (D.N.C.) emails during the 2016 U.S. election, but adding in the ruling on Tuesday that “this Court’s ruling is notbased on a finding that there was no collusion between defendants and Russia… .” Josh Gerstein reports at POLITICO.

The Senate Intelligence Committee contradicted its counterpart in the House on Tuesday and unequivocally upheld the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment on Russia interference in the 2016 election and that Russia had developed a “clear preference” for then-candidate Trump. Katie Bo Williams reports at the Hill.

A feature on warnings by the British Government Communications Headquarters (G.C.H.Q.) about Russian hacking of the 2016 U.S. election is provided by David E. Sanger at The Daily Beast.

The SUPREME COURT

“I think you’re going to be very impressed,” President Trump said Tuesday of his nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. The announcement of his pick scheduled for Monday, Andrew Restuccia reports at POLITICO.

Trump has focused on three federal judges to be his nominee: Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge and Amy Coney, according to sources familiar with the matter. Peter Nicholas and Louise Radnofsky report at the Wall Street Journal.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

President Trump repeatedly asked top aides whether the U.S. could invade Venezuela during a meeting last August at the Oval Office to discuss sanctions– the suggestion allegedly leaving former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former national security adviser H.R. McMaster stunned. Ariana Cubillos reports at NBC.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with President Trump in Moscow on July 16, Lavrov said yesterday. Reuters reports.

A suspected U.S. drone strike killed a militant commander Qari Abdullah Dawar and his associate near the Pakistan-Afghan border yesterday in North Waziristan, according to Pakistani intelligence officials. Ishtiaq Mahsud reports at the AP.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has urged the U.N. Security Council to refer the Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (I.C.C.) immediately, in light of the refugee crisis that has seen more than 700,000 members of the Rohingya Muslim minority escape to Bangladesh. Zeid commented that a statement from the Myanmar Government avowing its commitment to human rights “almost creates a new category of absurdity,” The U.N. News Centrereports.

Four Taliban insurgents including a senior leader were killed today by a bomb explosion in the Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province, according to an Afghan official, though no one has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Islamic State group militants have previously targeted the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan, and have gained a foothold in the area, the AP reports.

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) is anxious about the prospect of Russian cyber interference in the upcoming midterm elections, telling CBS News “I am concerned that the Russians never left.” Quigley suggested that “first, they attacked our election infrastructure. They hacked into somewhere between 20 and 40 state board of elections, including, in August of 2016, my own state of Illinois,” Morgan Chalfant reports at the Hill.

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her defense minister yesterday vowed to increase military spending, the pledge coming after pressure from allies – including the U.S. – over Germany’s contribution to N.A.T.O. and its military preparedness. Reuters reports.

Philippine government troops clashed with dozens of Islamic State group-affiliated militants in a southern town yesterday and their attempts to take positions in the area were thwarted. The AP reports.

“The Middle East’s wars are turning cities into Stalingrads,” Antönio Sampaio comments at Foreign Policy, arguing that as cities expand across the developing world, preventing and de-escalating lengthy urban warfare represents one of the most important strategic and humanitarian challenges of our time.

Mueller taps more prosecutors to help with growing Trump probe – Chicago Tribune
 


Chicago Tribune
Mueller taps more prosecutors to help with growing Trump probe
Chicago Tribune
But the special counsel’s charter, issued by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, includes investigating whether Trumpor associates colluded with Russia and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” Investigators in New and more »
Austria Fuels the Rise of Europe’s Far-Right – U.S. News & World Report
 


U.S. News & World Report
Austria Fuels the Rise of Europe’s Far-Right
U.S. News & World Report
Kurz is pledging to focus on three main topics: balance the organization’s budget, consider its expansion to other Europeancountries and address the ongoing migrant crisis, all of which could influence Europe’s migration policies in the coming years.and more »
The most important part of the Trump-Putin summit no one is talking about – Vox
 


Vox
The most important part of the Trump-Putin summit no one is talking about
Vox
President Donald Trump’s summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on July 16 will likely feature discussions about election meddling, the war with Syria, and the North Korean threat. But the most important outcome of the meeting may be something
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Sanctioned Russian Oligarch Linked to Cohen has Vast US Ties

Long before Viktor Vekselberg was tied to a scandal over the president and a porn star, the Russian oligarch had been positioning himself to extend his influence in the United States. Working closely with an American cousin who heads the New York investment management firm Columbus Nova, Vekselberg backed a $1.6 million lobbying campaign to aid Russian interests in Washington. His cousin Andrew Intrater served as CEO of a Vekselberg company on that project, and the two men have collaborated on numerous other investments involving Vekselberg’s extensive holdings.   Now, Intrater’s investment firm is wrestling with the fallout from financial sanctions the U.S. Treasury Department lodged in April against Vekselberg, one of a group of oligarchs tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin.   Columbus Nova has insisted it only managed Vekselberg’s vast assets. But an Associated Press review of legal and securities filings shows that the cousins sometimes collaborated in a more deeply entwined business relationship than was previously known.   Spokesmen for Columbus Nova have told the AP that the firm’s business relationship with Vekselberg has been indefinitely halted by the sanctions, which targeted Russian oligarchs accused by Treasury of playing “a key role in advancing Russia’s malign activities.”   All Vekselberg assets in the U.S. are frozen and U.S. companies forbidden from doing business with him and his entities. The deadline to sever those relationships was June 4, but talks between Columbus Nova and the government are continuing, the firm’s spokesmen said. A Treasury Department spokesman declined to comment.   The Columbus Nova spokesmen said the firm is also seeking permission from Treasury to retrieve any assets entwined with Vekselberg’s Renova Group, which the U.S. firm has called “its biggest client.”   Extricating Columbus Nova’s holdings from Vekselberg’s is not so simple. The sanctions apply to all assets in which Vekselberg has more than a 50 percent stake — including some investment funds managed by Columbus Nova in which the firm has an ownership interest, the spokesmen said. They discussed the matter on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the ongoing discussions.   A Russian citizen who has had a U.S. green card and homes in New York and Connecticut, Vekselberg once told an American diplomat he felt “half-American.” Vekselberg heads the Renova Group, a global conglomerate encompassing metals, mining, tech and other assets that is based in Moscow.   He wields an estimated $13 billion fortune that supports Silicon Valley startups, programs at a California state park, a Western-themed resort amid the Joshua trees near Scottsdale, Arizona — and a loan to a Baptist church in Savannah, Georgia.   “I think all along Vekselberg thought a big chunk of his life was going to be anchored here in the United States and he, like other Russia businessmen, has made strategic investments in his philanthropic work to be in better standing here,” said former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.   Vekselberg also has cemented tech deals using a Kremlin-funded foundation — raising national security concerns years before special counsel Robert Mueller began probing contacts between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian intermediaries. His opaque corporate structure, which includes an array of hard-to-trace shell companies, has fallen under Mueller’s scrutiny, according to several media reports.   Vekselberg hired Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen as a consultant in January 2017, just months after Cohen paid off the adult film actress known as Stormy Daniels, who has alleged she had an affair with Trump.   But some experts familiar with Vekselberg’s financial holdings wonder if the government is adequately tracking his U.S. assets, let alone the companies or foundations managing his money under other names.   “Given how hidden these companies are in a network of shell companies, it is entirely possible that Vekselberg has a majority stake in businesses that are still functioning in the United States that the government doesn’t even know about,” said Peter Harrell, a sanctions expert and former deputy assistant secretary at the State Department.   Vekselberg’s spokesman, Andrey Shtorkh, did not detail how the billionaire was addressing the sanctions. Shtorkh stressed that the oligarch did not create or control Columbus Nova and gave up his green card more than a decade ago.   “It quickly became obvious that he had little time for more than brief visits to the United States,” Shtorkh said.   Making Western inroads   Vekselberg was born in what is the modern-day Ukraine, and built his fortune investing in aluminum and oil, taking advantage of the privatization of state companies after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.   The 61-year-old billionaire burnished his reputation in the West in 2010 when he was appointed president of the Skolkovo Foundation, a nonprofit initiative funded by the Russian government and private investors to build a high-technology research hub aimed at luring digital entrepreneurs to Russia.   While Putin and Vekselberg have not always been strongly allied, the project now appears to have the Russian president’s backing. In January, Putin highlighted a Skolkovo effort as the type of “forward-looking projects” that would receive government support. In a June 2017 meeting at the Kremlin, Putin praised Skolkovo’s work.   In June 2010, Vekselberg traveled to Silicon Valley with then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to try to gain a foothold for the Skolkovo Foundation. He signed a deal with Cisco CEO John Chambers for Cisco to invest $1 billion over 10 years in Skolkovo projects and met with Russian expatriates who urged him to set up a Skolkovo office nearby.   Skolkovo appeared to be a family concern. When members of the same expatriate association gathered in Manhattan to promote U.S. venture capital investment in Russia, the featured speakers included Intrater. And in a presentation dated June 2013 on Skolkovo’s website, Columbus Nova was described as one of several corporate venture funds financing Skolkovo participants. The foundation declined to comment, deferring to Shtorkh, who said that Vekselberg did not have control over the foundation’s decisions.   In 2011, an office near Stanford University was established for the Skolkovo Foundation and two sister funds, amid President Barack Obama’s call for a “reset” in Russia relations.   Vekselberg also spawned another foundation to benefit Fort Ross, a California state park that was once a Russian settlement. The foundation and affiliates donated at least $3.2 million to the park’s programs and activities between 2010 and 2017, according to the foundation’s website.   As Obama’s effort to reboot diplomatic relations sputtered, federal officials began raising alarms about the Skolkovo Foundation’s ties to Putin.   The FBI’s Boston division gave tech startups a frank warning in an April 2014 column published in a trade journal.   “The foundation may be a means for the Russian government to access our nation’s sensitive or classified research, development facilities and dual-use technologies,” wrote Lucia Ziobro, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston office.   Spotlight grows  Media attention zeroed in on Vekselberg and Intrater in May when Michael Avenatti, the attorney for porn actress Stormy Daniels, released a memo claiming the cousins routed about $500,000 through Columbus Nova to a shell company set up by Trump attorney Cohen.   Avenatti claimed that just before the 2016 presidential election, Cohen used the same shell company, Essential Consultants LLC, to pay the adult film star $130,000 to keep silent about her allegation of a one-night stand with Trump a decade earlier.   Eleven days before Trump’s inauguration, Vekselberg and Intrater jointly met with Cohen, one of several meetings between Trump intimates and high-level Russians during the 2016 campaign and transition. During the meeting in Cohen’s office in Trump Tower, Vekselberg and Cohen discussed U.S.-Russia affairs, said a person familiar with the meeting who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to discuss the session.   According to financial records reviewed by the AP, the meeting occurred the same month that Intrater’s firm began making payments to Cohen’s LLC that totaled $500,000, delivered in eight installments ending in August 2017.   In a statement on its website, Columbus Nova denied that Vekselberg played any role in its payments to Cohen.   Intrater’s firm, which described itself in a company website entry as “a multi-strategy investment firm managing over $15 billion of assets,” has handled Vekselberg’s financial holdings for nearly two decades, company spokesmen say.   But as far back as 2000 — during Columbus Nova’s start up — Intrater also worked for Vekselberg as CEO of a subsidiary of the Russian’s Renova Group conglomerate. Between 2000 and 2004, the New York-based subsidiary, Renova Inc., commissioned a Washington lobbying firm to work for both Vekselberg and Russian interests.   Shtorkh acknowledged Renova Inc. is owned by the billionaire. According to a lobbying contract reviewed by AP and validated by spokesmen for Columbus Nova, Intrater served as Renova Inc.’s CEO for at least three years even as he built up his own investment firm.   The Columbus Nova spokesmen described Renova Inc. as a “rep firm,” a marketing company that represented Vekselberg’s conglomerate in the U.S. They added that Intrater took on his Renova Inc. role as a client service to Vekselberg as part of his asset management role for the Russian.   In April 2001, Intrater signed a contract with Washington lobbying firm Carmen Group Inc., representing the Vekselberg company. The lobbying firm said in congressional filings that it had been hired to “encourage trade and cultural exchanges between the United States and Russia.”   The contract also said the Carmen Group was hired to “organize congressional and other high-level U.S. government delegations to meet with foreign government and business leaders abroad and in the U.S.” Columbus Nova spokesmen said no U.S. delegations were brought to Russia.   Carmen Group was paid $1.58 million; a spokeswoman for the lobbying firm declined to detail its work.   While the Columbus Nova spokesmen acknowledged Intrater has served on advisory boards of several companies where Vekselberg owed majority stakes, they said Intrater took those positions because of his role managing assets for Columbus Nova.   Intrater joined the board of one such firm in the mid-2000s, becoming a director — and briefly, chairman — of an American cable company that transformed into a Moscow-based firm after a Vekselberg-financed takeover. Between 2004 and 2007, the cousins teamed up in the acquisition of Moscow CableCom Corp., a U.S.-based cable company once known as the Andersen Group that now serves several Russian cities.   Intrater joined the board after Columbus Nova routed $51 million from the New York firm’s investors to Moscow Cablecom the cable firm in 2004. That same year, Vekselberg’s Renova Group took a stake. By July 2007, Vekselberg’s company had financed the cable firm’s acquisition in an estimated $152 million deal.   Documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission list both Vekselberg and Intrater as key figures in the cable firm acquisition. But Columbus Nova representatives said that some filings made by the now-defunct Moscow CableCom Corp contained errors, including overstating the role of a Columbus Nova corporate entity in one round of investments.   Winding down assets   Vekselberg’s unfettered access to the U.S. withered when his assets in America were frozen under sanctions April 6, causing him nearly $1 billion in losses, Forbes estimated.   The Treasury Department included a Russia-based corporate entity owned or controlled by Vekselberg in its sanctions, but warned that the list shouldn’t be viewed as a complete inventory of companies linked to the oligarch.   Two of Vekselberg’s largest companies — Renova Management AG and the engineering firm Sulzer, both based in Switzerland — swiftly and publicly corrected course to lessen his control or financial interests.   Some entities associated with the oligarch in the United States have been less forthcoming.   Shtorkh said Vekselberg is an investor in a venture fund called Maxfield Capital, which lists a San Francisco office on its website. A Maxfield Capital representative in Russia said the fund was taking steps to fully comply with sanctions requirements, but offered no specifics.   “Vekselberg’s money directly or indirectly represents quite a hefty chunk of all assets under management,” said Michael Minkevich, who managed deals for the fund in Silicon Valley until January. “They definitely need to find some way to cut any ties.”   Shtorkh said Vekselberg had a limited partnership interest in the Cayman Islands-based fund and did not have control over Maxfield Capital.   As for Vekselberg’s park foundation, its director did not respond to emails or voicemails.   Sarah Sweedler, president of another nonprofit that received funding from Vekselberg’s foundation to run programming at Fort Ross, said her group has no outstanding business with the foundation and has not communicated with its staff since the sanctions hit.   Vekselberg also has ties to two other foundations operating in the U.S. The Link of Times Foundation USA Inc. did not respond to voicemails or emails seeking comment, and the administrator of the Mariinsky Foundation of America Inc. said Vekselberg was removed from the board of directors last year.   The Skolkovo Foundation’s activities have not been disrupted by U.S. sanctions, Shtorkh added.   Sean Kane, a former senior official with the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, said it was unusual but not unprecedented for a sanctioned person to have such extensive personal and business relationships inside the United States.   OFAC regulations require companies to do their own checking to ensure they aren’t doing business with sanctioned entities. But Kane said that problems sometimes surface years later because it is so difficult to unravel complex corporate structures.   Kane, who now is in private practice in Washington, said that “nobody has the time or resources to be tracking how these people are moving their money 24/7. Any entanglements that U.S. foundations and companies have with sanctioned individuals such as Vekselberg will need to be looked at very carefully.”
Analysis Syria’s Assad Has Become Israel’s Ally – Haaretz
 


Haaretz
Analysis Syria’s Assad Has Become Israel’s Ally
Haaretz
Turkey, which invaded Kurdish areas of northern Syria, threatens Russia’s desire for a united Syrian state. Therefore if Israel’s goal is to oust Iran from SyriaRussia — rather than the United States or the Arab states — is the only power capable
Strategist Six: Jonathan SpyerThe Strategist (blog)
Hezbollah’s Indefinite Presence in SyriaGatestone Institute
Time for Iran to go back to its bordersAl-Arabiyaall 78 news articles »

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5:13 AM 7/2/2018 – Nazi official Heinrich Himmler’s daughter worked for West German intelligence |  Michael Cohen teases new interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos – The Hill |  Oil drops after Trump tweets about output hike – Financial Times |  Trump Calls His Critics ‘Very Dangerous For The Country’ |  Trump congratulates Mexico’s new president: ‘I look very much forward to working with him’ – The Hill
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2:25 PM 6/14/2018 – Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz and her administration are under FBI investigation after reports that corruption – Google Search | Jefe del FBI en Puerto Rico prepara arrestos de políticos
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11:47 PM 6/12/2018 – Proyecto para privatizar la AEE espera por firma de Rosselló
10:51 AM 6/12/2018 – Update: Crime In Puerto Rico: “So far this year, there have been 296 murders, this is three less than the previous year.” | Meet Inspector Drone: A Single Drone Helped Mexican Police Drop Crime 10 Percent (!)
10:08 AM 6/11/2018 – FBI apuesta a la experiencia: Leff indicó que el FBI tiene abiertas más de cinco pesquisas por el mal uso de fondos asignados por FEMA tras el azote de María. | M.N.: I think that this is very good initiative, and hopefully it will work: “Given the high incidence of violent crimes on the island, the deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States, David Bowdich, undertook to assign new agents to Puerto Rico and veterans from other districts of that dependency with experience in gang cases, revealed the director of the FBI on the island, Douglas Leff.”
8:58 AM 6/11/2018 – John Kelly Says The White House Is A ‘Miserable’ Place To Work: Report – HuffPost
4:51 AM 6/11/2018 – “This transatlantic rift is a gift to Russia that amply repays Vladimir Putin’s investment in helping the Trump campaign,” wrote the conservative foreign policy expert Max Boot.

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Dr. Alicia Hart, who has treated immigrant children held in detention centers, tells CNN’s Alisyn Camerota about the mental and physical state of separated children at the border

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Catholic churches in the fiercely religious Philippines are giving sanctuary to people who fear for their lives in President Rodrigo Dutere’s war on drugs, pitting an influential institution against a strongman leader.WSJ.com: World News

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mikenov on Twitter: Is Ernst Uhrlau The Joker? THE DEMIURG? “He’s making us dance and he’s enjoying every minute of it. It makes him feel important.” – By Michael Novakhov – 7.1.18 globalsecuritynews.org
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U.K. Calls on Russia for Information After New Nerve-Agent Poisoning
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How the F.B.I. Finally Caught Aldrich Ames
How Aldrich Ames betrayed the CIA by selling secrets to the Russians
Aldrich Ames – Wikipedia
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2 Men Plead No Contest in Oakland Ghost Ship Fire That Killed 36
Trump’s perverse appeasement of Putin will rebound on Israel – Israel News
Konstantin Kilimnik Indictment Means Mueller has Officially Tied Russian Intelligence to Trump campaign: Report
Mueller Taps More Prosecutors to Help With Growing Trump Probe
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Trump better informed than Merkel on crime rate, German far-right leader claims – Europe
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Senate Panel Backs Intelligence Agencies on Russia-Trump Conclusions | Top News
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TrumpRussia investigation explained: what we know and what happens next …. “Scooter” Libby 39 months after his appointment as special counsel. … the Trump campaign had worked with Russia to influence the outcome of …

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Although Mr. Ames was able to elude detection for nearly nine years, those interviewed are clearly proud of their investigation’s successful conclusion. This despite a House Intelligence Committee report that has criticized the bureau’s officials for a “wait and see” approach to finding a spy who had done great damage to American intelligence.

Mr. Ames, a counterintelligence officer in the C.I.A.’s Soviet division, began providing information to the Kremlin in 1985 and continued doing so until his arrest, along with that of his wife, Rosario, at their home outside Washington last Feb. 21. Over the years, the K.G.B. and its successor agencies in Russia paid him more than $2.5 million, in exchange for which he compromised more than a hundred Western intelligence operations and in effect sent at least 10 men to their death by identifying them as agents of the West.

Mr. Ames last year pleaded guilty to spying for Moscow, and his wife pleaded guilty to a lesser espionage offense. He is serving a life sentence at a Federal prison in Allenwood, Pa. She is serving a five-year sentence in Danbury, Conn.

The F.B.I.’s involvement in the case began with a fruitless analytical effort undertaken in the late 1980’s, after two of the bureau’s premier double agents, both K.G.B. men in Washington, had been recalled by Moscow and executed. In its search for the betrayer of the two men, the F.B.I. focused on Edward Lee Howard, a junior C.I.A. officer who had defected to Moscow. But the bureau concluded that although Mr. Howard might have known the identity of one man, he had not known the identity of the other.

The search was then largely dormant until 1991, when officials of the intelligence agency told the F.B.I. of a string of operational disasters that could be explained only by the presence of a mole inside American intelligence.

“What revived it was we realized how badly we’d been hurt,” said Robert M. Bryant, then agent in charge at the F.B.I.’s Washington field office, who is now the bureau’s top national security official.

That realization led to the first large-scale cooperative counterintelligence inquiry by the F.B.I. and the C.I.A., an agency that had never before shared its operational files with its law-enforcement counterpart.

Feuding between the two agencies dated from the era of J. Edgar Hoover, who died in 1972 after 48 years as F.B.I. Director. And it did not end with the decision to work together on the mole case. Mr. Bryant, a blunt lawyer from Little Rock, Ark., known within the bureau as the Bear, was a hardened criminal investigator who, angered by a C.I.A. culture of concealment that he thought was slowing the inquiry, clashed with his counterparts at the intelligence agency. His shouted threats to prosecute C.I.A. officers for obstruction of justice kept other F.B.I. officials scrambling to smooth over strained relations.

Gradually, though, the investigators narrowed their list of suspects, largely as a result of a huge analytical effort that sought to track even the hour-by-hour movements of Russian officials in Washington back in the mid-1980’s.

Mr. Ames made every list. As an expert on Soviet affairs, he had had direct access to data on many of the operations involving the compromised agents. Moreover, C.I.A. officials had by then found hundreds of thousands of dollars flowing into his bank accounts from unexplained sources, and some of the deposits had been made shortly after his known meetings with a Russian Embassy official.

On May 24, 1993, two weeks after the criminal investigation of Mr. Ames had formally begun, Mr. Bryant turned to Leslie G. Wiser Jr., a former Navy lawyer who ran an F.B.I. counterintelligence squad, to assemble a team of about eight agents, supported by dozens of technical and support specialists.

They watched and waited. Then came Black Thursday.

From their wiretaps on Mr. Ames’s home telephone, agents had previously picked up cryptic comments suggesting that he was getting ready to deliver, imminently, a package to the Russians. But by the time surveillance units arrived at his home at 6:30 that morning, he had not only left — subsequent review of videotape from a camera mounted across the street showed that he had departed at 6:03 — but indeed already returned.

“That was really unusual, because Ames was not really a particularly industrious guy,” Mr. Bryant said. “For him to move out at 6:03 in the morning meant something was up.”

That afternoon, a surveillance team waited outside the C.I.A.’s main gates, hoping to follow Mr. Ames from his office at the agency’s headquarters to a drop site. The agency’s security guards, unaware of the operation, had rousted surveillance teams from the roadside once before, forcing them to pull back far from the exit. Around 4 P.M., Mr. Ames climbed into his Jaguar and in a moment had turned onto the George Washington Parkway.

“And the guy gets out on the G. W. Parkway and just takes off like a bat out of hell,” Mr. Bryant said. “And we lose him.”

The Director of Central Intelligence and the F.B.I. Director both knew that Mr. Ames was under surveillance that day. When they heard that he had escaped, they started “asking a lot of very painful questions,” Mr. Bryant said.

That night, Mr. Wiser said, he experienced “the depths of despair.” But he was sure of at least one thing: Mr. Ames was behaving like a spy.

After the setback, Mr. Wiser’s superiors were wary of the step he next proposed: a search of Mr. Ames’s trash. Mr. Bryant, fearful of aggressive moves that might alert the suspect that he was under surveillance, by his own account told Mr. Wiser: “Les, I don’t think that’s a very good idea. If we get burned on this thing, we can’t ride too much heat.”

Mr. Wiser remembers matters a little differently. By his recollection, Mr. Bryant had at one point suspended garbage searches in the case but had not permanently barred them.

In any event, Mr. Wiser decided to go ahead with the trash search, and on the night of Sept. 15, 1993, a black van with an open side door crawled silently up North Randolph Street toward the Ameses’ house in wealthy suburban Arlington, Va. With Mr. Ames out of town — he had gone to Ankara, Turkey, on C.I.A. work — the time seemed right to take the offensive.

The van slowed to a stop. A surveillance team leaped out, took the Ameses’ trash can and replaced it with one from inside the van. (Later, after examining the refuse at another location, they would return the original can.)

From the garbage, the agents picked out fragments of yellow paper — a Post-It note, torn up and tossed away. Fitted almost entirely back together, the message read:

“I am ready to meet at B on 1 Oct.

“I cannot read North 13-19 Sept.

“If you will meet at B on 1 Oct. Pls signal North

“w [ piece missing ] of 20 Sept. to confi [ missing ]

“No message at Pipe

“If you cannot mee [ missing ] 1 Oct. signal North after 27 Sept. with message at Pipe.”

The agents quickly deciphered the note. It was a draft, written by Mr. Ames and then rejected by him, of a message to his handlers. “North” and “Pipe” referred to locations — signal sites or drops where he could leave or get messages and pick up money. “B” referred to Bogota, Colombia, where he and his handlers were to meet.

The agents sent the note to a laboratory for analysis and woke Mr. Wiser at home. Within an hour, in early morning, he was at his office, examining a black and white photograph of the note.

“If there was a reservoir of doubt that existed before — which there was, this little bit of doubt about what was really going on here — it was gone,” Mr. Wiser said. “We knew now. We had the right guy, for sure.”

When Mr. Bryant arrived at his office at the usual time later that morning, he saw Mr. Wiser grinning triumphantly.

“I thought, ‘Holy God, this is unusual,’ ” Mr. Bryant said. “Wiser looked like the Halloween pumpkin. I mean, he was so happy it was unbelievable. And that’s when he came up with that note. In 27 years in the F.B.I., that’s probably my favorite document.”

Later, Mr. Bryant would gladly forgive Mr. Wiser’s disobedience in going ahead with the trash search. “That,” he said, “is the finest piece of insubordination I’ve ever seen.”

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How Aldrich Ames betrayed the CIA by selling secrets to the Russians
 

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Aldrich Ames – Wikipedia
 

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Aldrich Hazen Ames (/mz/; born May 26, 1941) is a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer turned KGB mole, who was convicted of espionage in 1994. He is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole in the Federal Correctional Institution in Terre HauteIndianaUnited States.[2]Ames was formerly a 31-year CIA counterintelligence analyst who committed espionage against the U.S. by spying for the Soviet Union and Russia.[3] At the time of his arrest, Ames had compromised more CIA assets than any other mole in history until Robert Hanssen‘s arrest seven years later.

ames cia – Google Search
 

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She was a CIA spy. Now she’s a lawyer battling her old agency.

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As a Secret Service officer and a contractor for the CIA and the …. warned the CIA, to no avail, about a colleague named Aldrich Ames who was …

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Aldrich “Rick” Ames was desperate for money. It was the mid-1980s, and the CIA’s senior counterintelligence officer in the Soviet division had …

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Spying Doesn’t Pay — Unless You’re Really Good At It

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Only four U.S. spies are thought to have been paid at least $1 million over their careers: CIA officers Aldrich Ames and Larry Wu-Tai Chin, Army …

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Central Intelligence Agency

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This was the reaction of CIA officer Jeanne Vertefeuille upon learning that Aldrich Ames, the most damaging mole in CIA history, had once given his Soviet …

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Five Best: Joyce Lee Malcolm

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The reader knows from the start that Aldrich Ames is the mole at the CIA’s Soviet counterintelligence desk—the source responsible, from the …

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Rochford’s supervisor instructed him to go to the air base, meet a CIA analyst named Aldrich Ames, and find out what this defector knew.
amesbury – Google Search
 

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2 Men Plead No Contest in Oakland Ghost Ship Fire That Killed 36
 

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Two men associated with a warehouse fire in Oakland, Calif., that killed 36 people almost two years ago pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter on Tuesday and will each face several years in prison, prosecutors said.

The warehouse, which was illegally occupied and often referred to as the Ghost Ship, became the site of one of the nation’s deadliest structural fires in December 2016. Most of the victims were attending a party on the second floor and were unable to escape down a makeshift staircase.

About six months afterward, the authorities arrested and charged the two men — Derick Almena, the leaseholder, and Max Harris, who assisted him in a supervisory role in the building — in connection with the fire, alleging that they knowingly created a fire trap with what prosecutors said was an “inadequate means of escape.”

Teresa Drenick, an assistant district attorney for the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, said Tuesday that the men, who each pleaded no contest to 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter, were expected to be sentenced on Aug. 9. Mr. Almena, she said, is expected to be sentenced to nine years in prison and three years on so-called supervised release; Mr. Harris is expected to be sentenced to six years in prison and four years of supervised release.

Had the case gone to trial, both men would have faced a maximum prison sentence of more than 35 years, Ms. Drenick said.

“They acted with reckless conduct, and that caused the death of 36 men and women,” she said. “With today’s pleas, not only do both they take responsibility, but they are now also found guilty of all 36 counts.”

As the master tenant, Mr. Almena had a managerial role among the residents of the warehouse, most of whom were artists seeking an affordable space in a city that has seen sharply rising housing costs in recent years. Mr. Harris was responsible for renting out the upstairs of the warehouse for the December 2016 party and prepared the space for the event, court documents said.

On the night of Dec. 2, the warehouse — which was filled with wooden antiques and curios — was quickly engulfed in flames and filled with a thick, choking smoke that rose to the second floor. Court documents said Mr. Almena collected “fence boards, shingles, window frames, wooden sculptures, tapestries, pianos, organs” and other “ramshackle pieces” that served as the kindling for the fire. And, in preparing for the party, Mr. Harris had “blocked off an area of the second floor that included a second stairwell, which effectively reduced the upstairs guests to a single point of escape,” the documents said.

A lengthy report, released in June of last year and compiled by local and federal agencies, provided many details about the fire, but did not identify a cause, The East Bay Times reported.

The party was also held without any permit from the city.

Lawyers for Mr. Almena, 48, and Mr. Harris, 28did not immediately respond to phone messages seeking comment on Tuesday. But after Tuesday’s court hearing, Tony Serra, Mr. Almena’s lawyer, said his client had entered his plea as “a moral imperative to eliminate all of the drama and pain and suffering,” according to The East Bay Times.

Mr. Harris’s lawyer, Curtis Briggs argued, “The city of Oakland botched the entire situation.” (The fire highlighted failures in Oakland’s fire inspection system as well the city’s lack of affordable housing.)

In multiple media reports over two days, the family members of those who were killed have expressed dismay over the case’s outcome. One mother told The East Bay Times she felt it was as though prosecutors wanted to “get this one out of the way” in order to deal with other cases.

“That’s 36 lives, you know,” said David Gregory, the father of a 20-year-old victim, Michela Gregory, according to The Associated Press. “We wanted fair justice, and we didn’t get it.”

Ms. Drenick said her office had “never lost sight of the tragedy and its impact on family and friends,” noting that California law allows for victims to make statements during sentencing.

Melissa Gomez and Thomas Fuller contributed reporting.

Follow Matt Stevens on Twitter: @ByMattStevens.

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Trump’s perverse appeasement of Putin will rebound on Israel – Israel News
 

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Israelis focused on the Iranian threat in Syria can be forgiven for placing hope in the path Trump is beating to the Helsinki summit. But that’s wishful, if not delusional, thinking

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Konstantin Kilimnik Indictment Means Mueller has Officially Tied Russian Intelligence to Trump campaign: Report
 

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Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller testifies during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 19, 2013. Unmanned drones are flying in American skies conducting surveillance on people in the United States, albeit in a “ve

With all the North Korean summit and Donald Trump’s spat with Justin Trudeau sucking up all the airtime, some may have missed an important development in the Mueller probe of Russia’s interference in the 2016 Presidential campaign.

So explains a new Bloomberg piece analyzing the importance of Mueller’s indictment of Konstantin Kilimnik.

In the piece, writer Christopher Strohm argues that the charges against Kilimnik represent a breakthrough in the case because it “links senior officials on President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign to Russian intelligence in a criminal matter.”

“This is an alleged Russian spy committing crimes with the former campaign chairman for Trump,” former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti told Bloomberg. “When people first thought of the Mueller investigation, this is what people thought would result from it.”

Kilimnik, a Russian intelligence asset, is now under the protection of Moscow and unlikely to ever see an American court room.

But that’s not the point, former prosecutor Katie Phang told Bloomberg.

“The indictment serves a strategic purpose in raising public awareness about the connections that those who worked on Trump’s campaign had with Russians, and it serves a legal purpose by putting more pressure on Manafort to become a cooperating witness,” the story says.

Read the whole story here.

Mueller Taps More Prosecutors to Help With Growing Trump Probe
 

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller is tapping additional Justice Department resources for help with new legal battles as his year-old investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 election continues to expand.

As Mueller pursues his probe, he’s making more use of career prosecutors from the offices of U.S. attorneys and from Justice Department headquarters, as well as FBI agents — a sign that he may be laying the groundwork to hand off parts of his investigation eventually, several current and former U.S. officials said.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Mueller and his team of 17 federal prosecutors are coping with a higher-then-expected volume of court challenges that has added complexity in recent months, but there’s no political appetite at this time to increase the size of his staff, the officials said.

According to his most recent statement of expenditures, more money is being spent on work done by permanent Department of Justice units than on Mueller’s own dedicated operation. The DOJ units spent $9 million from the investigation’s start in May 2017 through March of this year, compared with $7.7 million spent by Mueller’s team.

Trump’s Allies

Mueller’s probe has come under attack from President Donald Trump and his allies who say it’s going on too long, expanding too far and costing too much. But the special counsel’s charter, issued by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, includes investigating whether Trump or associates colluded with Russia and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

Read More: Mueller Poised to Zero In on Trump-Russia Collusion Allegations

Investigators in New York; Alexandria, Virginia; Pittsburgh and elsewhere have been tapped to supplement the work of Mueller’s team, the officials said. Mueller has already handed off one major investigation — into Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen — to the Southern District of New York.

“Whatever you got, finish it the hell up because this country is being torn apart,” Republican Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina told Rosenstein during a June 28 hearing. Rosenstein said Mueller knows he must move expeditiously.

A heavy investigative load for Mueller had been anticipated from the start, the officials said. The special counsel has already issued 20 indictments and secured guilty pleas from five individuals, and some of the defendants are mounting stiffer-than-expected battles in court.

“I don’t think he’s getting in over his head,” said Solomon Wisenberg, who served as deputy independent counsel investigating President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. “These things have a tendency to balloon. Yes, it may be taxing on them. No, it’s not that unusual.”

Nor is it unusual for Mueller to turn to U.S. attorneys or to Justice Department headquarters, said Wisenberg, who’s now a partner at the law firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP.

Subpoena Decision

Mueller is dealing with the legal battles as he considers whether to subpoena Trump for an interview and as he accelerates his investigation into potential collusion.

The first — and perhaps biggest — court case for Mueller is over his indictment of Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, for an array of financial crimes. Manafort is fighting the indictment in two federal courthouses, and he expanded his case last week to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Both sides are now gearing up for a trial to begin later this month.

“It’s going to be all hands on deck when they go to the Manafort trial,” Wisenberg said.

Other court fights may have come as a surprise.

Russians Fight Back

Mueller indicted 13 Russian individuals and three entities in February on charges of violating criminal laws with the intent to interfere with the U.S. election through the manipulation of social media.

None of the targets are in the U.S., but one of them, the Internet Research Agency, has forced Mueller into another legal fight in federal court. The two sides have been sparring most recently over how to protect sensitive investigative materials from disclosure. Mueller has enlisted prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington to handle the case.

Another surprise came last week when Andrew Miller, a former aide to Trump adviser Roger Stone, filed a sealed motion to fight one of Mueller’s grand jury subpoenas.

Mueller also plans to move eventually to sentencing for Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, both of whom pleaded guilty to lying to investigators.

‘Busy Guy’

“He’s a busy guy,” said Jeffrey Cramer, a former federal prosecutor.

“There’s certainly multiple fronts going on right now,” said Cramer, who’s now managing director of the international investigation firm Berkeley Research Group LLC. “Some of them are more active than others.”

Cramer doesn’t think Mueller’s in over his head but says he might be taking timing into consideration when it comes to making additional moves.

“You don’t have unlimited resources in a sense that you’ve got an unlimited cadre of prosecutors and agents,” Cramer said. “There does come a time where they can only do so much.”

Mueller has already shown that in some situations he will hand off cases, such as with the Cohen investigation. Additionally, Mueller is getting help from Rosenstein, who is fielding congressional demands for documents and testimony.

In the end, though, Mueller knew what he was signing up for.

“While there’s a lot on the plate, they’re not all going on all at once,” Cramer said. “His office is doing their job. He’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing.”

Putin making hay while his ‘useful idiot’ remains in office – Google Search
 

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Putin making hay while his ‘useful idiot’ remains in office
 

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“The world no longer needs Special Counsel Robert Mueller to tell it that with the election of Trump in 2016, Putin got his man in the Oval Office.”

KGB agents like Vladimir Putin have always been very good at spotting and employing people they call “useful idiots.”

Usually the idiots have been socialists or communist fellow travellers among Russia’s enemies who are easily persuaded to promote Moscow’s case.

But not always. Sometimes the useful idiots are merely foreign politicians or movers-and-shakers whose interests and views of the world coincided with those of Moscow.

Donald Trump falls into this category.

The world no longer needs Special Counsel Robert Mueller to tell it that with the election of Trump in 2016, Putin got his man in the Oval Office.

The United States Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on Tuesday confirming what Washington’s intelligence agencies have been saying for months. Putin threw the full weight of his propaganda and cyber espionage battalions behind the effort to get Trump elected.

Whether Trump, his family and campaign mafioso “colluded” with the Russians is almost irrelevant at this point. Everything that Trump has said and done on the international stage since coming to office has been in the interests of Putin’s Russia and not those of the U.S. and its allies. Trump has moved with persistent determination to demolish all the trade and security alliances and institutions the U.S. has been foremost in creating since the Second World War. Only Putin’s Russia and, waiting in the wings, Xi Jinpiung’s China, benefit from Trump’s hubris and criminal stupidity.

It’s not that Trump is a traitor to the U.S. in the classic sense, as some eminent commentators have written.

There was no moment when Trump kissed Putin’s ring. By his character and nature Trump was pre-programmed to betray the U.S., and Putin – alert KGB man that he is – saw a pigeon ready for the plucking.

Trump is a narcissist who, lacking any creative urges or abilities, uses chaos and destruction to ensure the focus of attention is always on him. Like many weak and self-pitying people, Trump is a bully who berates all those around him to hide the fact that he has nothing sensible to say and no vision of what might be created. He strikes out because he fears more knowledgeable and insightful people may expose his unplumbed shallowness. He lies because he fears the truth.

So, since the U.S. confirmed that it is a failing, gerrymandered democracy and put Trump in the Oval Office, the world has seen him flaying about like a boy with a stick in a nettle patch.

Trump has denounced the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as “obsolete” and pointedly shied away from committing to the pledge to mutual defence that is at the heart of the alliance. He has rudely dismissed all Washington’s trade alliances, especially the free-trade pact with Canada and Mexico, as means by which the U.S. is bled dry. The World Trade Organization has treated the U.S. “very badly.” In an unmatched piece of absurd ignorance, Trump even said the European Union “was put there to take advantage of the United States.”

Any hopes that Trump’s pompous malevolence might be just an act to placate his “base” were conclusively sunk at the summit of the G-7 major industrialized countries in Quebec last month. Trump was recalcitrant throughout the meeting, backed off signing the final communique, and then, while flying away on Airforce One, Tweeted that his host, Justin Trudeau, was “Very dishonest and weak.”

While Trump is President, the G-7 is defunct.

Having abused the best friends of the U.S., Trump flew to Singapore to fawn on North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, one of the world’s nastiest despots with a record of killing even his closest relatives who get out of line.

But Kim played Trump like a violin. In return for giving Trump a glossy ten-by-eight of them shaking hands and a meaningless piece of paper with vague promises about peace and plenty, Kim got recognition from Washington that North Korea is in the club of nuclear weapons powers. He also got a de facto end to economic sanctions.

Since then, Kim has confirmed that his commitment to “de-nuclearization” of the Korean peninsular is so far in the future as to be out of sight by restarting his weapons program.

This makes dangerously stupid Trump’s boast that the world is now safer than when he met Kim. It’s been said many times, but Trump is not a man to be trusted to lead what is still the world’s major military superpower.

The denouement of this appalling story may come next week when Trump is due to attend the summit of the 29 NATO member states in Brussels. After what will undoubtedly be a difficult and perhaps even catastrophic summit, Trump is due to fly to Helsinki for a one-on-one with Putin. The imagery of Pinocchio rushing to Geppetto’s arms is too outlandish to contemplate. Apparently, no one in the White House has the slightest clue about visuals.

Trump has strewn confusion along the path to this meeting by refusing to rule out recognition of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which it took from Ukraine in 2014. A whole raft of United Nations-backed sanctions against Russia stem from this annexation and Moscow’s invasion of occupation of tracts of eastern Ukraine.

In classic bully style of hitting out before being hit, Trump set the stage for the summit by firing off nasty letters to several of the NATO leaders. All the letters were variations on the theme that most NATO members are defrauding the U.S. by not spending two per cent of their gross national products on defence, as they have committed to do. Most NATO countries have increased defence spending since Trump railed at them last year. But Trump clearly has no understanding of the nuances of analysis involved in defence spending.

For example, Greece has for years spent more than two per cent of GDP on defence. But large hunks of that money go on pensions for veterans and a large standing army that is far from being battle-ready. In contrast, Norway still spends less than two per cent of GDP, but its troops are well-equipped, well-trained and among the first to deploy to any NATO campaign.

While it is unlikely that Trump will be able to kick the skids out from under NATO and destroy the alliance that has sustained peace and prosperity over much of the world since its founding in 1949, members are increasingly apprehensive.

The creation of an integrated European defence force is already underway, and there are rumours of current NATO members exploring informal alliances and deeper defence co-operation. A big question is what happens to Britain, which provides Europe’s most potent military, once it leave the European Union at the end of March next year.

If the Canadian government is not already thinking about post-NATO options, it had better start quickly.

As the friends and enemies of the U.S. contemplate the Fourth of July, 2018, a looming question is whether Trump is a temporary aberration and that life will return to normal after the 2020 presidential elections.

That is a dangerous straw of hope to cling to. Trump is the symptom of a deep-seated disease in U.S. politics and society. His ravings echo and lead a chorus of anger, frustration and fear among large segments of U.S. society. There is no sign that anyone in the political or civil society classes have the slightest idea of how to remake America before it cascades into what German economist Joseph Schumpeter in 1942 called the “gale of Creative Destruction.”



The views, opinions and positions expressed by all iPolitics columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of iPolitics.

Donald Trump Making Life Tough for German Companies
 

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Donald Trump recently said that he no longer wants to see the sight of a Mercedes on Fifth Avenue in New York. It was a right hook aimed squarely at the chin of Daimler and the German economy. And the timing could not have been better. The American president knows how vulnerable Germany automobile manufacturers are in the wake of the diesel scandal and also how important the American market is to them. The Department of Justice is currently investigating Daimler and the Trump administration is also considering whether to impose higher import tariffs on German carmakers. Trump views both measures as an opportunity to protect the domestic car industry while at the same time weakening its German competitors.

But beyond Volkswagen, Daimler and the others, Deutsche Bank, Bayer and numerous other German companies both small and large are beginning to realize just how skillful the Trump administration can be when it comes to applying pressure on foreign firms. Washington, it would seem, is pursuing its “America First” doctrine at all levels — in the form of tariffs, taxes and fines, but also on the level of individual companies.

Irritation is growing within both the European business community and the German government over the Trump administration’s ruthless approach. During a trip to Beijing last week, Joe Kaeser, CEO of global engineering giant Siemens, lamented an American policy of “tariffs and tweets.” The statement represented something of a reversal of course for the executive. At the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year, he and other German executives were fawning over Trump.

With his attacks, Trump has succeeded repeatedly in dividing Europe and playing French and German interests against each other as well as driving a wedge between Eastern and Western Europe. And when the European Union is divided, its companies also become easier prey for Trump.

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There is nothing novel about the U.S. exploiting its dominant position in the global economy to advance its interests. The American market is vital to companies in Europe and Asia, both due to its size and its consumerist philosophy. But that importance leads to dependencies.

America derives its greatest power through the dollar. More than four-fifths of global trade is processed using the American currency, and those using it must abide by American rules. Trump’s predecessors have repeatedly reminded the rest of the world of that obligation in the past.

‘Trump Has Turned the Dollar into a Weapon’

But rarely has anyone exploited the power of the currency to the degree Trump is doing. “Donald Trump has turned the dollar into a weapon,” says Davide Serra, CEO of Algebris Asset Management. The Italian, who holds a British passport, knows what he’s talking about — his company invests in banks and corporations all over Europe. He says Trump is using the dollar to assert America’s influence on the corporate world far beyond its own borders.

The U.S. president recently unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear agreement with Iran and took steps toward the implementation of new sanctions banning dollar-denominated transactions with the country. Even if they comply with European Union law, European companies and banks could face massive sanctions in the U.S. if they conduct business with Iran once those sanctions are in place.

Consistent with the same logic, the new sanctions recently imposed by the U.S. on Russian oligarchs are especially painful for European companies.

And it’s not only the dollar that Trump is using to enforce economic interests. He’s taking advantage of any instrument available that can be used to target foreign companies. These include banking supervision rules, cartel laws and even something as seemingly arcane as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the interagency body that reviews all transactions that could result in a foreign company gaining control of a U.S. entity. The body’s mandate is to monitor U.S. national security interests in the course of acquisitions of American companies by foreign investors. Under Trump, however, the committee has been given considerable leeway in interpreting its mandate.

Graphic: Unfair treatment?

DER SPIEGEL

Graphic: Unfair treatment?

“CFIUS’s influence on German companies is underestimated,” says Rainer Langel, the head of Germany operations at Australian bank Macquarie. Increasingly frequently, he says, owners of German companies are only able to sell their company at a price that is significantly lower than what interested Chinese parties would have offered. The reason: The sellers fear that CFIUS will prohibit the takeover by a Chinese company, even though the German companies in question only generate a small portion of their revenues in the U.S.

Under Trump, the extent to which the Americans are exploiting German firms’ exposure in the U.S. has become conspicuous. Companies like Deutsche Bank, which has become a greater challenge to U.S. banks than any other foreign financial institution. Under former CEO Josef Ackermann, the company made major inroads in the U.S., right up until the 2008 global financial crisis. In doings so, the Germans riled both their competitors and the U.S. government. At the same time, Deutsche Bank made itself vulnerable through its involvement in numerous scandals, becoming the focus of numerous investigations and fines by U.S. investigators.

The fact that Deutsche Bank’s dubious business practices resulted in expensive settlements is appropriate. But it seems fair to say that investigations into other banks were not subject to nearly as many leaks as those into Germany’s leading financial institution. In fall 2016, when the Justice Department forced Deutsche into a multibillion dollar settlement for dubious mortgage-backed securities, leaks about the possible size of the fine led to a collapse in the company’s share price and pushed the bank to the edge of the abyss. To this day, leaks continue to weaken the unloved competitor from Germany.

On June 1, the websites of the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times both posted bad news for Deutsche Bank at almost exactly the same time. They reported that the Federal Reserve (Fed) and the deposit protection fund Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC). had deemed Deutsche Bank’s U.S. operations to be in “troubled condition.” The astounding thing, though, is that the Fed made its decision a year ago and the FDIC at the beginning of 2018, but it was only months later, and then on the same day, that these damaging assessments of Deutsche Bank’s operations came to light.

Coming as it did just before Trump declared trade war on the Europeans in the form of punitive tariffs on steel and aluminum, it came across as being a coordinated effort.

A Deliberate and Targeted Manner?

Insiders at the Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank, and at the Finance Ministry assume the crisis reports on Deutsche Bank were the result of a targeted leak intended to put pressure on the company and Germany. The bank’s American competitors have generally gotten off relatively lightly, these sources claim, suggesting that the U.S. authorities may have been sparing their institutions to provide them with a competitive edge. Given the amount of latitude the Justice Department has, the possible unequal treatment can’t be proven. Deutsche Bank did not want to comment on the matter.

Whereas American banks remain the undisputed leaders not only in the U.S., but also well beyond, the balance of power in the global automotive industry is markedly different. Here, German manufacturers from VW to Daimler to BMW dominate. That’s why the U.S. government has been ratcheting up pressure on German carmakers since Trump took office.

Their preferred target has been Volkswagen. The Wolfsburg-based company reached a settlement with the Justice Department at the beginning of 2017. In total, the fines the company had to pay along with the compensation to American owners of its diesel vehicles amounted to more than $20 billion. There is no question that the company deserved the punishment. It’s growth in the U.S. market had been based on the myth of clean diesel, a lie the company perpetuated by installing cheat devices in its diesel vehicles allowing VW to claim far lower emissions than was actually the case.

But the longer the scandal drags on, the more critically industry insiders are asking what is happening with other manufacturers with deeper roots in the U.S. — car companies that are also believed to have manipulated emissions readings. In May 2017, for example, the Justice Department accused Fiat-Chrysler of deploying cheat software in close to 104,000 of its diesel vehicles. But the proceedings have been slow and a decision over a possible penalty still hasn’t been made.

Increasing Pressure on Daimler

Instead, the U.S. authorities appear to be increasing pressure on Daimler. Representatives of the Stuttgart company were recently summoned to appear before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It’s already a foregone conclusion that Daimler is going to have to pay a considerable sum, and at this point negotiations are focusing on how high the settlement will be, say sources within the U.S. justice system. Officials at Daimler say they won’t comment on speculation over ongoing legal proceedings.

For VW, too, the scandal in the U.S. isn’t over yet. At the beginning of May, the U.S. District Court in Detroit confirmed charges against former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn on the very day that new VW head Herbert Diess called for a cultural shift at the company during its annual shareholder meeting.

The Trump administration hasn’t been quite as audacious in targeting companies in other economic sectors. The week before last, for example, U.S. antitrust authorities approved Bayer’s takeover of the agricultural biotechnology company Monsanto. But what first appears to be evidence of the openness of the U.S. market could ultimately prove to be a pyrrhic victory for Bayer.

After approving the deal, the Justice Department boasted that no other company had ever had to make greater concessions during an acquisition in the U.S. Bayer is being forced to divest itself of $9 billion in company assets, including most of its own seed business, in exchange for regulatory approval. And even if the name Monsanto disappears completely and only the Bayer name survives, as planned, the Americans will still have enormous influence on the new company due to the sheer power of the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Bayer’s success will depend heavily on the goodwill of American politicians.

Economic Imperialism

But the field in which the United States showcases its economic imperialism more unabashedly than anywhere else is energy policy — particularly when it comes to the Russian natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2.

The project has been in planning stages for close to two years. Under the leadership of energy giant Gazprom, Russia plans to lay two more undersea pipes to join the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline, which was laid several years ago. The project, in which the German companies Wintershall and Uniper are also investors, is expected to cost around 9.1 billion euros.

A worker tests pipes for the future Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline.

DPA

A worker tests pipes for the future Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline.

The pipeline has long been the subject of controversy. It is opposed by many Eastern European countries, including Poland and Ukraine, because they fear Russia will bypass them and cease pumping natural gas through overland lines, from which they earn billions of euros in transit fees. Others in the European Union, meanwhile, fear the second pipeline could result in an overdependence on Russian gas.

Ultimately, though, it is the Americans who have been most vocal in their objections. They view an energy partnership between Germany and Russia critically for geopolitical reasons. More importantly, though, they also want to supply Europe with liquified natural gas extracted through fracking in the United States. But that liquified gas is a lot more expensive than the Russian pipeline gas and Nord Stream 2 would make natural gas from the U.S. uncompetitive.

The Trump administration doesn’t appear to be prepared to accept such a state of affairs and is now using all means at its disposal to fight the energy project, including measures that are at the very limits of what is legally allowed, as Economics Minister Altmaier recently experienced.

Each year, the city of Aachen, Germany, awards the Charlemagne Prize for services rendered to the cause of European unification. On the sidelines of this year’s award ceremony, Altmaier, a member of Chancellor Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, spoke with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, whose country is one of the project’s leading opponents. Altmaier wanted to know under what conditions Poroshenko would be prepared to abandon his resistance to Nord Stream 2 and whether he, Altmaier, could mediate during in his planned visit to Russia.

Surprisingly, Poroshenko yielded. He said he needed a commitment that gas would continue to be pumped overland through Ukraine, despite the Baltic Sea pipeline. When Altmaier met a few days later with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow, he was able to secure precisely that promise from the Russians. But it still didn’t move the pipeline forward: Poroshenko is said to have demanded further guarantees and concessions on the issue of Crimea.

Diplomatic Pressure, Intimidation, Sanctions

The Russians believe that the U.S. government was responsible behind the scenes for the shift in sentiment. Washington, after all, intensified its campaign against Nord Stream at the exact same time that Altmaier was in Russia. Sandra Oudkirk, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for energy diplomacy, first traveled to Ukraine to bring the government in Kiev into line, and then on to Berlin to harshly criticize Germany’s efforts to broker a solution. Oudkirk said the U.S. would oppose any German-Russian deal. She said the pipeline presents an acute danger for the U.S. and for Europe.

Newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell also got involved. He is even said to have raised his voice when speaking to Altmaier on the issue. The U.S., he is said to have blustered, will not accept Germany’s pipeline policy and the pipeline won’t be built.

The Americans have already indicated what they might do to prevent its construction. In addition to Wintershall and Uniper, the British-Dutch oil company Shell, the French utility company Engie and Austria’s OMV have also invested in the planned construction of the multi-billion-euro project. The Trump administration is threatening to impose tough sanctions on the companies if they don’t abandon the gas pipeline project. This would be a heavy blow for the firms, which are active internationally.

The Russians suspect that diplomatic pressure, intimidation and sanctions aren’t the only means being deployed by the Americans to prevent the pipeline’s construction. It’s also possible that compliant partners are being generously rewarded. In Denmark, for example, a country which accepted the construction of the Nord Stream 1 pipes through areas along the Danish coast in 2011 without opposition, project partners have observed a strange development.

In November, the Danish Parliament passed a rather surprising law which could prohibit the construction of Nord Stream 2 through Danish territorial waters. Since the passage of that legislation, the Danish government has postponed approval on a week by week basis. People inside the Nord Stream consortium believe they have identified the culprit for the change of heart. They argue that it isn’t based on the pretense that the pipeline will lead to a European overreliance on Russian gas. One internal email indicates that it has much more to do with tangible economic interests.

Quid Pro Quo?

The email notes that there has been a conspicuous and unusually strong increase in energy deals between Denmark and the U.S. since 2017. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion, the email says, that one hand is washing the other.

Specifically, the cooperation is focused on lucrative renewable energy deals. Danish Energy and Climate Minister Lars Lilleholt traveled to the U.S. in October together with representatives of Danish energy companies including Orsted and Danfoss. He met with the U.S. deputy secretary of energy, and with member of Congress. The official purpose of the trip was to expand cooperation with the U.S. in the field of renewable energies, and both sides reaffirmed there is great potential for offshore wind farms in particular.

It was a few weeks after that trip that Denmark passed the law that would make it possible to ban Nord Stream from their territorial waters. They then began expanding their energy partnership with the U.S. Cooperation agreements and orders for various wind parks followed at short intervals. Officials in Denmark and the U.S. claim there is no link between the law and the contracts, but the Russians believe the Americans have bought Denmark’s support.

The Trump administration has also reportedly signaled to the German government that abandoning the pipeline plans could be one way of preventing new tariffs on German goods. And this is how Trump’s industrial and trade policy dovetails: the pinpricks against foreign competitors, the undermining of major projects, the threats of tariffs against key industries and, ultimately, deals that link one with the other.

In the case of the Baltic Sea pipeline, the German government has made clear that a deal is out of the question. Still, the German government isn’t always that consistent in standing up against Trump. In the dispute over steel and aluminum tariffs, Altmaier sought to negotiate an exception right up to the very end, to the displeasure of the French, who had wanted to see a more combative European front against the Trump administration. It is only after Berlin’s attempts to curry favor with Washington failed that the EU has moved to impose punitive duties on bourbon whiskey and other American products, which are due to enter into force on July 1.

“Europe too seldom unites to defend its economic interests, so there is little to counter Trump,” criticizes fund manager Serra. “It’s mainly up to Germany to change that.”

By Tim Bartz, Frank Dohmen, Martin Hesse, Christian Reiermann and Gerald Traufetter

Donald Trump’s Attacks on Germany: The Enemy in the White House
 

mikenova shared this story from SPIEGEL ONLINE – Schlagzeilen.

Vladimir Putin operates in the shadows. The Russian president controls a clever disinformation campaign with the aim of upsetting the populations of Western countries, discrediting their institutions, dividing society, influencing elections and ultimately causing the collapse of liberal democracy. Nevertheless, there are still many people who continue to believe that Putin is innocent and that the claims are merely the malicious fabrications of Western intelligence agencies. Is it all just a conspiracy theory?

Regarding Donald Trump’s intentions, by contrast, there can no longer be any doubt. Since taking office, he has carried out a scorched-earth policy against multi-lateral treaties of all kinds. He is a man with no interest in foreign policy, seeing it merely as an instrument to pursue his “America First” ideology. He views cooperation as a weakness, the latest proof being the US withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Trump acts quite openly. And now, the American president has turned his attentions toward launching a disinformation campaign against Germany. He is doing so as a way of justifying his morally repugnant refugee policies to the American people.

The heartbreaking scenes at the southern U.S. border, where crying children are brutally separated from their parents for having committed the error of seeking a better life for themselves and their families in the U.S. is heaping pressure on even the most diehard Trump supporters. This zero-tolerance policy turned into a PR disaster, one that Trump now wants to contain by grasping at whatever straws he can – including attacks on Germany.

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In an unprecedented step into German domestic affairs, the U.S. president seized on the current disagreements within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition about refugee policy. The German people were “turning against their leadership,” he tweeted gleefully, and followed that up with a blatant lie, saying “crime in Germany is way up.” Europe, he intimated, had made the big mistake of letting in millions of people who had “violently” changed the culture.

Apart from the fact that this is all lies, the author is a man who bears more responsibility than any other for the ongoing, brutal attempts to rip down all that has beenlaboriously built up since World War II.

In a second tweet, Trump then repeated his lie about rising crime rates in Germany and said that “officials do not want to report these crimes.” It reads like a speech that could be held at a right-wing extremist rally in Dresden.

The world has become worn down by Trump’s bluster and used to his constant stream of lunacy. But this numbness shouldn’t lead to the normalization and acceptance of his aggressive outrageousness. The claim – leveled without a shred of proof – that the German government and its officials would deliberately keep the true extent of criminality from the citizens of Germany should not go without consequences. His open support for German right-wing populists is nothing less than a blatant attack by a foreign power on this country’s government. It is a direct attempt by the White House to destabilize the Federal Republic of Germany.

Angela Merkel has been far too restrained in her reaction to this threat. The chancellor simply responded that the crime figures recently presented by Interior Minister Horst Seehofer speak for themselves. Those statistics show that crime has in fact gone down slightly. And if there is one person in German politics who could never be accused of whitewashing crime statistics, it is Seefhofer, who is currently looking for any excuse possible to take an even harder line on migration.

No, this U.S. president was never a partner. He is a hostile opponent. We should finally start to treat him as such and act accordingly. Summoning the U.S. ambassador for a formal protest would be a good first step. Furthermore, relations to this U.S. government should be reduced to a bare minimum. It is also no longer necessary to pretend to be on friendly terms. Germany and the European Union should abandon polite self-restraint when dealing publicly with Trump and his government. We can’t completely cut off the channels of communication, but they should be used sparingly.

We have long known that we could no longer rely on the United States under Donald Trump. Now, though, it has become clear that we have to protect ourselves from him.

Trump better informed than Merkel on crime rate, German far-right leader claims – Europe
 

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The deputy head of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party claimed on Wednesday that U.S. President Donald Trump was better informed about German crime rates than Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Georg Pazderski, who is known for his incendiary comments about refugees, said Trump “is clearly better informed than the German government about crime in Germany with the help of his intelligence agencies.”

“When crimes such as theft, drug dealing and sexual assault are not reported or only to a very small degree because the victims are ashamed, then those crimes do not become part of the statistics,” Pazderski said in Berlin.

He was responding to two tweets posted by Trump earlier this week which saw the US leader citing unrest within Germany’s ruling coalition over migration to argue against the admission of refugees.

“The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition,” he tweeted Monday. “Crime in Germany is way up. Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!”

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“We don’t want what is happening with immigration in Europe to happen with us!” Trump tweeted.

According to German Interior Ministry statistics, the crime rate was at its lowest since 1992 last year, when around 5.76 million crimes were registered in the country.

Taken as a percentage of the population, Germany’s crime rate was at its lowest in 30 years. For every 700,000 residents there were fewer than 7,000 reported crimes.

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