NATO needs a strategic reset Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-Jul 15, 201

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Story image for nato geopolitical belt from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

NATO needs a strategic reset

Pittsburgh Post-GazetteJul 15, 2018
At the NATO summit last week, President Donald Trump predictably criticized our … We must explain that geopolitical realities require the United States to … denial (A2/​AD) belt covering the territory of NATO members and …

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Story image for nato geopolitical belt from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

NATO needs a strategic reset

Pittsburgh Post-GazetteJul 15, 2018
At the NATO summit last week, President Donald Trump predictably criticized our … We must explain that geopolitical realities require the United States to … denial (A2/​AD) belt covering the territory of NATOmembers and …
Story image for nato geopolitical belt from STRATFOR

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Accused Russian Agent Maria Butina Met With 2 Senior U.S. Officials In 2015: Reuters

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‘ADVANCE THE INTERESTS’

The description of the top Russian official mentioned in the indictment matches Torshin. The indictment said that beginning in about 2015 Butina and the official conspired to “advance the interests of the Russian Federation.”

“I recall Mr. Torshin mentioning, as an aside, that he planned to attend a meeting of the National Rifle Association, a fact that I considered irrelevant to our conversation,” Fischer wrote to Reuters.

Sheets declined to comment through Ted Smith, a spokesman for asset management firm PGIM, where Sheets currently works.

Fischer and Sheets met with many international banking officials as part of their official duties.

The Treasury Department in April imposed sanctions on Torshin and a number of other Russian businessmen and government officials in Putin’s inner circle.

The think tank hosted Trump at an event at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington in April 2016 also attended by Sergei Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to Washington at the time. Two months earlier, the group’s Russian-born CEO, Dimitri Simes, traveled to Moscow, where he met with Putin and other Russian officials, the organization’s records showed.

The April visit came about a year after Obama’s administration imposed sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.

During the same trip, Torshin and Butina also participated in a private “off the record” discussion at the center about the “Russian financial situation and its impact on Russian politics,” according to people familiar with the meeting and the think tank’s report. That event was moderated by the group’s chairman emeritus, former AIG CEO Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, the report showed. Greenberg did not return calls for comment.

Among the think tank’s board members is David Keene, a former NRA president and former chairman of the American Conservative Union. Keene has previously been photographed alongside Butina at events.

Paul Saunders, the think tank’s executive director, said Torshin spoke at an April 2015 event about the Russian banking system and Butina attended. Saunders said people at the organization cannot recall details of Torshin’s presentation.

“We were unaware of any charges or suspicions of illegal or inappropriate conduct or of any connections to Russian intelligence services,” Saunders said in an email.

Prosecutors said the think tank’s magazine published an article by Butina in June 2015 in which she said “certain U.S. politicians and Russians share many common interests.”

Randy Weber, a Republican U.S. congressman from Texas, also met with Torshin during the April trip, according to the think tank’s documents. A spokeswoman for Weber did not respond to multiple calls or emails seeking comment.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Damon Darlin and Will Dunham)

Let’s Get the Facts Straight About Mueller and His Investigation

mikenova shared this story from WhoWhatWhy.

A lot has, rightfully, been made this week of President Donald Trump’s bizarre behavior when it comes to Russia and its apparent campaign to tilt the 2016 presidential race in his favor. While it wasn’t exactly surprising that the US president once again appeared to do his Russian counterpart’s bidding, the reason why this keeps happening continues to puzzle people.

Some believe that Trump’s frail ego can’t handle any notion that he did not beat Hillary Clinton fair and square. Others are raising the possibility of Russian President Vladimir Putin “having something” on Trump. The fact that people are even entertaining this theory is breathtaking in itself.

Whatever drives Trump’s actions, it is also the reason why he and his allies seek to undermine the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller. They are doing this in a variety of ways, including arguing that the basis for the entire probe is illegitimate, that it is unconstitutional, and that Mueller’s team is biased. And that’s just over the past few weeks.

Foremost, however, is a claim Trump often makes on Twitter — or anywhere there is a microphone. The president’s first line of defense is that the investigation is a “witch hunt” because there was “no collusion” and no American has yet been indicted in connection with Russia’s meddling. And in any case, Trump and his allies claim, Mueller and his team have not yet alleged that Russia’s various activities affected the outcome of the election.

While there is a grain of truth in that defense, it is mostly bogus and terribly misleading. That is why it is useful to take a step back and look at the facts.

The main point of Mueller’s investigation is not to find out whether Russia and the Trump campaign coordinated their activities to defeat Clinton. That is only part of the probe. The primary focus is on how Russia interfered in the 2016 election. While Trump supporters may take issue with that assertion, it’s tough to argue the point since the order Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein signed to launch the Mueller probe is called “Appointment of Special Counsel to Investigate Russian Interference with the 2016 Presidential Election and Related Matters.”

So when Trump and his allies point out that mostly Russians have been indicted so far, they are conveniently leaving out the part where that is Mueller’s main job.

In announcing the indictments, Rosenstein has gone out of his way to note that no Americans are involved and that no determination is made with regard to the impact of Russia’s meddling.

“There is no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime,” he said last week in announcing the indictment of 12 Russians who are accused of hacking Democratic websites. “There is no allegation that the conspiracy changed the vote count or affected any election result.”

There is a good chance that these statements are made entirely for Trump’s ears to ensure that he will leave Mueller alone. Predictably, the White House seized on Rosenstein’s remarks, with spokesperson Lindsay Walters stating that this is “consistent with what we have been saying all along.”

But just because no Americans have been indicted so far in connection with the actual meddling (a handful, including Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and two former campaign aides have been charged with crimes not related to the election interference) does not mean that they won’t be.

Based on what we know already, one can certainly make the case that both Trump and his son Donald Jr. were attempting to coordinate something with the Russians. However, neither of those attempts (trying to get “dirt” on Clinton from the Russians in Don Jr.’s case and calling on Russian hackers to go after Clinton’s missing emails in the president’s case) will get them indicted. Other things might, however, so it would be foolish for Mueller to go there before wrapping up all other loose ends.

The second part of this line of defense — that the indictments do not allege the described actions affected the outcome of the election — is even more ridiculous because such a charge is impossible to prove. How many people could definitively say that their decision on who to vote for was determined by coverage of the DNC’s stolen emails or Russian-paid Facebook ads? Even if it were possible, it’s certainly not Mueller’s job to make that determination, which is why it’s such an effective strawman for Trump.

Unfortunately, the president’s disinformation campaign is working. Public opinion is slowly turning against Mueller and the investigation. That is a shame because he is doing important work which all Americans should be happy is being done — even Trump supporters and those who, correctly, point out that the US has also meddled (and worse) in foreign elections. Two wrongs don’t make a right and, hopefully, the Mueller probe will get people to realize that US elections are vulnerable.

And that’s where the real shortcoming of the probe is: Its scope is much too narrow. When it comes to election meddling, Russian interference is just the tip of the iceberg.

What the US really needs is a team of investigators with subpoena powers who will

    • put voting machine companies and their products (and their ties to the parties) under the microscope;
.
    • make sure the nominating processes in all states are fair;
.
    • examine the internal communications of lawmakers responsible for drawing gerrymandered maps and passing phony voter ID laws, whose real purpose is to suppress minority votes. Let’s see what really motivated them;
.
    • put the squeeze on government officials like Kris Kobach, who are perverting democracy by trying to tailor the electorate to their liking;
.
    • get the bank records and communications of the American billionaires who are funding all of this. Because even if the Russians did funnel a few million bucks to the NRA, that’s just chump change compared to what oligarchs like the Kochs or Mercers are shelling out every year to counter the will of the voters.
.

So if your outrage stops at the Russians, or if you think that the biggest threat to US democracy this fall is that Putin’s cybergoons will almost certainly try to put a thumb on the scale again, then you’re missing the big picture.

Because when it comes to rigging US democracy, it truly is “America first.”


The cartoon above was created by DonkeyHotey for WhoWhatWhy from these images: Robert Mueller caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), marshal (Ian McKellar / Flickr – (CC BY-SA 2.0), badge (USBP / Wikimedia), DOJ logo (DOJ / Wikimedia), tumbleweed (sporst / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), and background (Ken Lund / Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0).


Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Trump and Putin (The White House / YouTube).

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Donald Trump is Turning NATO Into America’s Gas Station

mikenova shared this story from Eurasia Future.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to host a number of world leaders in the days prior to and including the World Cup Final on the 15th of July. Prominent leaders and political figures ranging from the DPRK’s Vice Premier Lee Ryong-nam, Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu, foreign policy aid to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, will all be in Moscow over the coming three days for a little bit of football and a great deal of diplomacy. The events culminate in the 16 July meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump in Helsinki.

Taken in totality, the leaders visiting Putin are all trying to both ascertain and influence Russia’s position in key geopolitical hot spots prior to his meeting with Donald Trump. This is demonstrative of the Russian President’s vital role as a geopolitical balancer between otherwise competing interests as well as the fact that many leaders find Putin easier to communicate with than his less predictable US counterpart.

But while Russia is hosting both football fans and geopolitical movers and shakers, Donald Trump has been at the NATO summit in Belgium which has been something of a rude awakening for European leaders who have still not fully accustomed themselves to US diplomatic and economic tactics in the Trump era.

While US Presidents have a history of using NATO summits to enhance US political influence in Europe while projecting power to the wider world  from the European stage, for Donald Trump, the mission to Europe is all about money and lots of it.

Whether forcing European nations to expedite their commitment to spend 2% of their GDP on NATO with the added threat of forcing them to double their required contribution to 4% in the future, or more importantly using various European prejudices against Russia as a means of forcing expensive American liquefied natural gas (LNG) on markets currently enjoying comparatively cheap Russian gas via pipelines – Trump isn’t looking for Europe to go into a new war and nor is he even seeking to court respect in Europe. Instead, Trump is looking to “do deals” and he is very open about this desire.

This new reality is somewhat ironic given the fact that in 2014 arch neocon and Russophobe US Senator John McCain said that “Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country”. Today however, it is the Russian President who is being courted by leaders from north east Asia to the Middle East in attempts to lobby their unique geopolitical grievances to a man who is clearly capable of addressing these issues from his position as the leader of a superpower. By contrast, it is Donald Trump who is using a would-be security forum to discuss how much gas he can sell to Europe based on the anti-Russian rhetoric of European leaders themselves, all the while implying that the less LNG Europe buys from the US, the more contributions for NATO that Washington will demand, ostensibly in the very near future.

In this sense, like any capitalism savvy gas station owner, Trump is trying to make the best of a market in which oil prices are rising at a time when European leaders have talked out of both sides of their mouth regarding a Russian state that they pretend is a “threat” but which they rely on for dependant supplies of competitively priced gas. All the while gas station owner Trump continues to remind potential customers that if they do not purchase his gas, he may simply charge them for the privilege of browsing in the forecourt of the gas station (aka more money for NATO).

In this sense, Trump has helped to expose how in an age where NATO’s original mission of attacking the USSR has been made redundant by the fact that the USSR no longer exists, rather than use NATO as an ideological mass-military to invade other countries for their oil, Trump would prefer to simply use most of his fellow NATO members as customers for American produced energy while sanctioning other energy supplies including both Iran and Russia.

Trump’s about face vis-a-vis the Clinton, Bush and Obama years is something of a shock to many EU leaders who long for the days when NATO was their chance to stand with the US against Russia, Libya, Syria and others, thereby incurring for Europe a perverse sense of militant prestige. Now though, this relationship has been reduced to a far more down to earth client/supplier relationship where there is little “guts or glory” but a lot of demands to “pay up or shut up”.

Taken in totality, it appears that when it comes to getting things accomplished in terms of geopolitical agreements rather than strict economic transactions, the Russian President is now the go-to leader not only for heads of medium and large nations but also for the US President himself who is about to discuss vital security measures regarding Syria and the wider Middle East with Vladimir Putin – discussions that Europe’s leaders were spared thanks to the fact that Donald Trump was too busy trying to sell them gas.

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At NATO, Trump says Germany is ‘totally controlled by Russia’

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BRUSSELS — President Trump kicked off his visit to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit here Wednesday with fiery words for members states of the military alliance and a direct attack on Germany for a Russian energy pipeline project the country’s companies and leaders have supported.

At a breakfast with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump complained that American taxpayers were not getting their fair share out of NATO and said Germany was “totally controlled” by Russia because much of its energy in the future may come from a pipeline called Nord Stream 2, which would bring Russian natural gas across the Baltic Sea.

While many NATO members had been bracing for Trump to renew his complaints about defense spending among alliance countries, Trump’s comments — and his lashing out at Germany in particular — all but ensure that the two-day summit would likely be filled with these kinds of tense moments and contentious debates about Trump’s commitment to NATO overall. The heated statements also showed that as the president faces domestic pressure about his own relationship with Russia and his planned meeting next week with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland, Trump would be using his time in Europe to question whether other heads of states were under the Kremlin’s thumb.

“Germany is totally controlled by Russia, because they will be getting from 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline,” Trump said during his breakfast with Stoltenberg, though in fact Germany through private companies has not yet begun to receive its energy from the pipeline. “And you tell me if that’s appropriate, because I think it’s not, and I think it’s a very bad thing for NATO and I don’t think it should have happened.”

“Germany is a captive of Russia,” Trump said.

Despite the misleading comments, Trump continued to attack Germany and noted that the country spends about 1 percent of its budget on defense expenditures and has yet to meet a pledge by NATO members to spend 2 percent of each member country’s overall GDP on defense expenditures by 2024. He added that Germany’s support of the Russian pipeline was “very bad” for NATO and that members should spend this week talking through whether it is appropriate for Germany to support the pipeline.

“Germany is a captive of Russia,” Trump said. “We have to talk about the billions and billions of dollars that’s being paid to the country that we’re supposed to be protecting you against.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel quickly pushed back on those statements Wednesday, telling reporters: “Germany does a lot for NATO.”

“I have experienced myself how a part of Germany was controlled by the Soviet Union,” said Merkel, who grew up in what was then communist East Germany. “I am very happy that today we are united in freedom, the Federal Republic of Germany. Because of that we can say that we can make our independent policies and make independent decisions. That is very good, especially for people in eastern Germany.”

She also said Germany’s commitment to NATO helps the United States.

“Germany is the second largest provider of troops, the largest part of our military capacity is offered to NATO and until today we have a strong engagement towards Afghanistan,” Merkel said. “In that, we also defend the interests of the United States.”

Meanwhile, as he has for weeks leading up to the NATO summit, Trump also criticized member states who spend less than 2 percent of their country’s GDP on defense. As of last month, only five countries — the United States, the United Kingdom, Greece, Estonia, and Latvia — have hit the 2 percent mark, according to a report released Tuesday by NATO. During a press conference Wednesday, Stoltenberg said he expects eight NATO members to meet that pledge by the end of the year.

In an important exchange Wednesday morning over breakfast, Stoltenberg credited Trump for countries increasing their defense spending.

“The good news is that allies have started to invest more in defense,” Stoltenberg said as he sat across from Trump, U.S. ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison, John Kelly, White House chief of staff, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Advisor John Bolton. “After years of cutting defense budgets, they have started to add billions to their defense budgets. And last year was the biggest increase in defense spending across Europe and Canada in that generation.”

“Why was that last year?” Trump interjected.

“It’s also because of your leadership, because of your carried message,” Stoltenberg replied.

But even with that flattery, Trump did not let up and claimed that Americans were essentially being unfairly burdened by the United States’ involvement in NATO. He claimed that NATO’s finances were “unfair to our taxpayer.”

“I think that these countries have to step it up not over a 10-year period; they have to step it up immediately,” Trump said. “This has been going on for decades, this has been brought up by other presidents, but other presidents never did anything about it because I don’t think they understood or they just didn’t want to get involved. But I have to bring it up because I think it’s very unfair to our country, it’s very unfair to our taxpayer.”

Trump pointed to Germany as an example of a country that could do more. “Germany is a rich country,” he said. “They talk about they’re going to increase it a tiny bit by 2030. Well, they could increase it immediately tomorrow and have no problem. I don’t think it’s fair to the United States.”

Stoltenberg — who is also a former Norwegian Prime Minister — pushed back a bit on Trump’s criticism, but was careful to moderate his tone. “Well, I think that even during the Cold War, NATO Allies were trading with Russia,” he said.

Soon after the breakfast, Trump tweeted out a video of himself criticizing Germany during the breakfast. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders later noted that Trump will meet face to face with Merkel later Wednesday and that he plans to reiterate his criticisms of the Russian energy pipeline to her.

Trump will also have a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron Wednesday, though reporters will not be allowed to cover that meeting or the meeting with Merkel.

Russia is gas station masquerading as a state – Google Search

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Donald Trump is Turning NATO Into America’s Gas Station

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Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to host a number of world leaders in the … said that “Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country”.
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The New Russia-Saudi Partnership Has Riyadh’s US Ally Over a Barrel

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Former Secretary of State John Kerry lashed out at Trump for his …. (R-AZ) described Russia as “a gas station masquerading as a country.”.
Police officer shot in Fort Myers, Fla.; suspect in custody, police say

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A police officer was in surgery after being shot in Fort Myers, Fla., on Saturday night, police say.  (.)

A police officer in Fort Myers, Fla., was in stable condition early Sunday, recovering from surgery after being shot Saturday night.

The officer, who was not immediately identified, was being treated at Lee Memorial Hospital, the News-Press of Fort Myers reported. The extent of his injuries was not known.

An unidentified suspect apprehended by police also was injured, but his condition was unclear, FOX 4 of Fort Myers reported.

The circumstances surrounding the shooting were not immediately available. But shouts of “Office down!” were heard via police scanner around 7:30 p.m. ET, the News-Press reported.

“We do have a seriously injured officer,” police spokesman Mitch Haley told FOX4. “We are still attempting to try and get a hold of people that are in his family.”

Fort Myers Mayor Randall Henderson was in Asheville, N.C., on Saturday night. He told the News-Press that his thoughts were with the injured officer.

“We’re holding our breath while he struggles for his life,” the mayor told the newspaper.

The shooting took place near a gas station on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd., the station reported.

Fort Myers Police closed the scene to traffic while the investigation was underway and asked residents to avoid the area. They said the scene would likely be cordoned off for several hours.

Gov. Rick Scott tweeted that he would provide local law enforcement with any resources they needed, and praised the “unimaginable sacrifices” that the state’s police officers make.

“Our law enforcement makes unimaginable sacrifices every day to keep our families and communities safe. We are praying for the brave officer shot tonight,” Scott said.

Saturday’s shooting coincided with the 10th anniversary of the fatal shooting of Officer Andrew Widman, which occurred July 18, 2008, the News-Press reported.

Fort Meyers is on Florida’s Gulf coast, about 125 miles south of Tampa.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Rosenstein says intelligence, indictments are “based on evidence” – Axios

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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Thursday that conclusions reached by U.S. intelligence agencies and criminal indictments presented are “based on evidence,” adding that they don’t “reflect mere guesses.”

Why it matters: Rosenstein’s remarks came after President Trump raised doubts at a press conference with Vladimir Putin about U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia had meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

Less than 24 hours later, amid widespread rebuke, Trump claimed he misspoke and accepts the conclusions reached by the intelligence community.

Rosenstein’s remarks on Thursday at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, while announcing a new system designed to counter foreign actors attempting to interfere in the U.S. political process:

“Intelligence assessments include analytical judgments based on classified information that cannot be disclosed because the evidence is from sources — people who will be unable to help in the future if they are identified and might be harmed in retaliation for helping America — and methods — techniques that would be worthless if our adversaries knew how we obtained the evidence. Indictments are based on credible evidence that the government must be prepared to introduce in court if necessary.”
Opinion | The Secret History of Leviticus – The New York Times

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Gray Matter

The Secret History of Leviticus

By Idan Dershowitz

Dr. Dershowitz is a biblical scholar.

No text has had a greater influence on attitudes toward gay people than the biblical book of Leviticus, which prohibits sex between men. Before Leviticus was composed, outright prohibitions against homosexual sex — whether between men or women — were practically unheard-of in the ancient world.

Chapter 18 of Leviticus contains a list of forbidden incestuous acts, followed by prohibitions against sex with a menstruating woman, bestiality and various other sexual acts. In Verse 22, we find its most famous injunction: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” (Leviticus 20:13 repeats this law, along with a punishment for those who violate it: “They shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.”)

Like many ancient texts, Leviticus was created gradually over a long period and includes the words of more than one writer. Many scholars believe that the section in which Leviticus 18 appears was added by a comparatively late editor, perhaps one who worked more than a century after the oldest material in the book was composed. An earlier edition of Leviticus, then, may have been silent on the matter of sex between men.

But I think a stronger claim is warranted. As I argue in an article published in the latest issue of the journal Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel, there is good evidence that an earlier version of the laws in Leviticus 18 permitted sex between men. In addition to having the prohibition against same-sex relations added to it, the earlier text, I believe, was revised in an attempt to obscure any implication that same-sex relations had once been permissible.

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The chapter’s original character, however, can be uncovered with a little detective work.

The core of Leviticus 18 is the list of incest laws, each of which includes the memorable phrase “uncover nakedness.” This is typically understood as a euphemism for sexual intercourse, so “you shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s sister” would mean something like “do not have sex with your father’s sister.”

Most of the incest laws are presented in a straightforward manner, but two are not. The first exception is: “The nakedness of your father and the nakedness of your mother you shall not uncover; she is your mother, you shall not uncover her nakedness” (emphasis mine). At first, this verse appears to outlaw sex between a man and either of his parents. However, the italicized explanation, or gloss, suggests that the law actually addresses only one parent: the mother. It is difficult to reconcile the two parts of this sentence.

The same thing happens again a few verses later: “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s brother.” Simple enough, right? The following gloss, however, may give you whiplash: “you shall not approach his wife, she is your aunt.” By the time we’ve finished reading the gloss, a prohibition against intercourse between a man and his paternal uncle has transformed into a law about sex between a man and that uncle’s wife.

Each verse in Leviticus 18’s series of incest laws contains a similar gloss, but the others are merely emphatic, driving home the point. (For example, “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son’s wife, you shall not uncover her nakedness.”) Only in these two cases — the father and mother, and the father’s brother — do the glosses alter our understanding of what is prohibited. A law prohibiting sex with one’s father fades away, and a law against sex with one’s uncle is reinterpreted as a ban on sex with one’s aunt.

What we have here is strong evidence of editorial intervention.

It is worth noting that these new glosses render the idiom “uncover nakedness” incoherent. The phrase can no longer denote sex if uncovering the nakedness of one’s father is an act that also involves one’s mother — as the gloss implies.

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But more strikingly, the two exceptional verses are the only ones that address incest between men — all the others involve women. Once the new glosses were added to the text, the prohibitions in Leviticus against incest no longer outlawed any same-sex couplings; only heterosexual pairs were forbidden.

If a later editor of Leviticus opposed homosexual intercourse, you might wonder, wouldn’t it have made more sense for him (and it was probably a him) to leave the original bans on homosexual incest intact?

No. The key to understanding this editorial decision is the concept of “the exception proves the rule.” According to this principle, the presence of an exception indicates the existence of a broader rule. For example, a sign declaring an office to be closed on Sundays suggests that the office is open on all other days of the week.

Now, apply this principle to Leviticus 18: A law declaring that homosexual incest is prohibited could reasonably be taken to indicate that non-incestuous homosexual intercourse is permitted.

A lawmaker is unlikely to specify that murdering one’s father is against the law if there is already a blanket injunction against murder. By the same token, it’s not necessary to stipulate that sex between two specific men is forbidden if a categorical prohibition against sex between men is already on the books.

It seems that with the later introduction in Leviticus of a law banning all male homosexual intercourse, it became expedient to bring the earlier material up-to-date by doing away with two now-superfluous injunctions against homosexual incest — injunctions that made sense when sex between men was otherwise allowed.

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This editor’s decision to neutralize old laws by writing new glosses, instead of deleting the laws altogether, is serendipitous: He left behind just enough clues for his handiwork to be perceptible.

One can only imagine how different the history of civilization might have been had the earlier version of Leviticus 18’s laws entered the biblical canon.

Idan Dershowitz (@IdanDershowitz) is a biblical scholar and junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for theOpinion Today newsletter.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page SR7 of the New York edition with the headline: The Secret History of Leviticus. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Russian Embassy in DC Slams US Demands to Release People Convicted of Terrorism

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The United States has no “moral right” to demand from Russia a release of people convicted of terrorism, taking into account the fact Washington has been conducting continuing “hunt” for the Russians in third countries, the Russian Embassy in the United States said on Tuesday.

“The US establishment has even no moral right to accuse Russia and demand someone’s release. Especially, if they continue their hunt for the Russian people in third states… Terrorists cannot be be ‘bad’ in the United States and ‘good’ in Russia. We will never defeat terrorism this way,” the statement read.

In its turn, Russia insisted on the return of unlawfully convicted Russian citizens, primarily, Victor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko, who are imprisoned in the United States, the statement added.

© Photo : Konstantin Yaroshenko’s lawyer

On Monday, US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert urged the Russian government to free more than 150 individuals identified by human rights organizations as political and religious prisoners. Nauert pointed out the United States was especially concerned about the fate of

 four Ukrainians — Oleh Sentsov

, Stanislav Klykh, Oleksandr Shumkov and Volodymyr Balukh.

Sentsov, a filmmaker, was convicted by a Russian court in August 2015 for plotting terrorist attacks in Crimea and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Bout was arrested in Bangkok in 2008 in a joint operation between Thai and US authorities on charges of conspiring to kill US nationals by allegedly agreeing to supply Colombian rebels with weapons. In 2010, he was extradited to the United States where he was jailed.

Yaroshenko was given 20 years in prison in 2011 on allegations of conspiring to import more than $100 million worth of cocaine into the United States. The Russian pilot was captured in Liberia in 2010 and handed over to the United States, prompting protests from Russia. In April 2016, the Appeals Court of New York denied revising the pilot’s sentence.

Former Soviet translator Viktor Bout became a black market king

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Russian pilot jailed in US vows to continue fight for return home — RT Russian Politics News

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Konstantin Yaroshenko, the Russian pilot jailed in the US for 20 years following a sting operation, has told reporters that he and his family will continue their fight for his return to Russia.

In his latest interview with the Izvestia newspaper, Yaroshenko said that he had no intention “of twiddling his thumbs” and that he and his family would press on to secure his repatriation at the earliest opportunity.

Convicted by a US court back in 2011 for plotting to smuggle drugs into America, Yaroshenko maintains his innocence. “I am not guilty of anything,” he insisted to reporters. “They charged me with something that I have never done and sentenced be to a tremendous prison term of 20 years. In my view, it would be simpler for the Americans to just hand me over a long time ago, this would cause much less problems than we have now.”

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Rally for immediate release of Konstantin Yaroshenko held near the US embassy in Moscow © Andrey Lyubimov, Moskva news agency

The charges against the former commercial airline pilot were based solely on the testimony of US DEA agents, who had launched a sting operation against him. The Russian was first arrested in Liberia in west Africa and then flown to the US without official extradition procedures –  in violation of the diplomatic code.

Russian diplomats have repeatedly requested that the US authorities hand over their citizen, but the requests are consistently denied. Yaroshenko recently accused US special services of abducting and torturing him to make him testify against another Russian citizen – Yaroshenko’s former boss Viktor Bout – who is now also serving a sentence in a US prison.

The latter was arrested in Thailand following a US-led sting operation and his subsequent extradition to America was in violation of international law.

Russian Human Rights Ombudsman Tatyana Moskalkova has personally addressed US President Donald Trump, asking him to pardon the Russian citizen in view of the recent summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. However, earlier this week Putin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the two leaders did not touch upon the issue of Yaroshenko’s pardoning or handover during the talks.

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The Russia Indictments: Why Now?

Wall Street JournalJul 16, 2018
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Former Soviet translator Viktor Bout became a black market king

MashableOct 26, 2017
Viktor Bout was once a Russian arms dealer dubbed ‘Merchant of Death’ for his criminal trafficking of guns, money, and people. In 2012, he …
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