2018-07-01 00:00:00 ..
2018-12-06 13:46:56 UTC
2018-12-07 12:02:58 UTC
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Chelsea Manning has been freed from the Fort Leavenworth military prison, according to a US Army spokesperson:
In January she tweeted that she wanted to move to Maryland after being released, a state where she previously lived. On Monday she tweeted: "Two more days until the freedom of civilian life ^_^ Now hunting for private #healthcare like millions of Americans =P".
Manning will remain on active army duty while her military court conviction remains under appeal. She will have healthcare benefits but will be unpaid, the army says. An online campaign set up by her attorney has raised $150,000 (£115,725) to pay for her living expenses for the first year after her release. If the appeal is denied, she could be dishonourably discharged from the army, US media say.
President Donald Trump disclosed highly classified information to Russia's foreign minister about a planned Islamic State operation, two U.S. officials said on Monday, plunging the White House into another controversy just months into Trump's short tenure in office.
The intelligence, shared at a meeting last week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, was supplied by a U.S. ally in the fight against the militant group, both officials with knowledge of the situation said.
The White House declared the allegations, first reported by the Washington Post, incorrect.
[...] One of the officials said the intelligence discussed by Trump in his meeting with Lavrov was classified "Top Secret" and held in a secure "compartment" to which only a handful of intelligence officials have access.
After Trump's disclosure of the information, which one of the officials described as spontaneous, officials immediately called the CIA and the National Security Agency, both of which have agreements with a number of allied intelligence services around the world, and informed them what had happened.
[Update.] According to Ars Technica, President Trump then proceeded to Tweet information about this meeting:
Statements from President Trump on Twitter and from White House National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster did not directly contradict details initially reported by the Washington Post late on Monday. McMaster said that no sources or methods were exposed in the conversation. However, the unnamed officials cited in the Post report were concerned that Trump's citing of the exact location "in the Islamic State’s territory where the US intelligence partner detected the threat" could expose the source. Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted:
As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining....
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017
...to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017
Trump also lashed out at the intelligence community for leaking about his actions:
I have been asking Director Comey & others, from the beginning of my administration, to find the LEAKERS in the intelligence community.....
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017
WikiLeaks announced Friday it is prepared to pay $100,000 for any tapes of conversations between President Donald Trump and former FBI Director James Comey. The message was sent out from its Twitter account just hours after Trump sent out his own tweet apparently warning Comey not to leak information to the media because of tapes he has of their meetings.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday that he has directed his federal prosecutors to pursue the most severe penalties possible, including mandatory minimum sentences, in his first step toward a return to the war on drugs of the 1980s and 1990s that resulted in long sentences for many minority defendants and packed U.S. prisons.
[...] In the later years of the Obama administration, a bipartisan consensus emerged on Capitol Hill for sentencing reform legislation, which Sessions opposed and successfully worked to derail.
In a two-page memo to federal prosecutors across the country, Sessions overturned former attorney general Eric H. Holder's sweeping criminal charging policy that instructed his prosecutors to avoid charging certain defendants with offenses that would trigger long mandatory minimum sentences. In its place, Sessions told his more than 5,000 assistant U.S. attorneys to charge defendants with the most serious crimes, carrying the toughest penalties.
A press release, dated 11 May, posted to the White House Web site (archived copy) announces (all links and party affiliations were added by the submitter):
[...] the issuance of an executive order forming the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Integrity. The President also named [Republican] Vice President Mike Pence as Chairman and Kansas Secretary of State [Republican] Kris Kobach as Vice-Chair of the Commission.
Five additional members were named to the bipartisan commission today:
Connie Lawson [Republican], Secretary of State of Indiana
Bill Gardner [Democratic], Secretary of State of New Hampshire
Matthew Dunlap [Democratic], Secretary of State of Maine
Ken Blackwell [Republican], Former Secretary of State of Ohio
Christy McCormick, Commissioner, Election Assistance Commission
The Commission on Election Integrity will study vulnerabilities in voting systems used for federal elections that could lead to improper voter registrations, improper voting, fraudulent voter registrations, and fraudulent voting. The Commission will also study concerns about voter suppression, as well as other voting irregularities. The Commission will utilize all available data, including state and federal databases.
Secretary Kobach, Vice-Chair of the Commission added: "As the chief election officer of a state, ensuring the integrity of elections is my number one responsibility. The work of this commission will assist all state elections officials in the country in understanding, and addressing, the problem of voter fraud."
Additional Commission members will be named at a later time. It is expected the Commission will spend the next year completing its work and issue a report in 2018.
According to Wikipedia's biography of Mr. Kobach (citation style changed by submitter):
Kobach has come to prominence over his hardliner views on immigration, as well as his calls for greater voting restrictions and a Muslim registry.[cite][cite][cite] Kobach regularly makes false or unsubstantiated claims about the extent of voter fraud in the United States.[cite]
As Secretary of State of Kansas, he has implemented some of the strictest voter ID legislation in the nation and has fought to remove nearly 20,000 properly registered voters from the state's voter rolls.[cite] After considerable investigation and prosecution, Kobach secured six convictions for voter fraud; all were cases of double voting and none would have been prevented by voter ID laws.
Kansas Secretary of State Finally Convicts an Immigrant of a Voting Irregularity
Former Colorado GOP chairman charged with voter fraud
Hundreds of Texans may have voted improperly
Donald Trump is Filling Out His Transition Team
Hacking Voter Registration Data in Indiana
Study Finds Texas Voter Photo ID Requirement Discourages Turnout
Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe Thursday rejected assertions by the White House that FBI employees had lost faith in James Comey and that the bureau's probe into Russian election meddling was one of its most minor concerns. "I hold Director Comey in the absolute highest regard. I have the highest respect for his considerable abilities and his integrity," McCabe told members of the Senate intelligence committee. He said Comey, who was fired by President Donald Trump on Tuesday, enjoyed "broad support within the FBI and still does to this day." He added, "The majority, the vast majority of FBI employees enjoyed a deep, positive connection to Director Comey."
Furthermore, he will inform the Senate of any interference with the Russia investigation:
Acting FBI director Andrew McCabe vowed Thursday that he would tell the Senate Intelligence Committee if the White House tried to interfere with the bureau's probe of possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election — though he asserted that there had "been no effort to impede our investigation to date."
Meanwhile, President Trump has undermined the White House's messaging on Comey's firing, saying that he planned to fire "showboat" and "grandstander" James Comey regardless of any recommendation from Attorney General Jeff Sessions or Deputy Attorney General Ron Rosenstein. The President also insists that he is not under FBI investigation.
[Public News Service of West Virginia Reporter Daniel Ralph Heyman] has been arrested and charged with "disruption of government services" in the state capitol for "yelling questions" at visiting Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price and White House senior advisor Kellyanne Conway.
[...] "The above defendant was aggressively breaching the secret service agents to the point where the agents were forced to remove him a couple of times from the area walking up the hallway in the main building of the Capitol," the complaint states. It adds Heyman caused a disturbance by "yelling questions at Ms. Conway and Secretary Price."
The misdemeanor carries a possible fine of $100 and up to six months in jail.
[...] The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia called the charges "outrageous" and said the arrest was "a blatant attempt to chill an independent, free press."
"Freedom of the press is being eroded every day, " it said in a statement. "We have a president who calls the media 'fake news' and resists transparency at every turn."
The statement said this is a "dangerous time in the country."
Price and Conway were in West Virginia to discuss opioid addiction in the state, which has the highest drug overdose death rate in the nation.
FBI Director James B. Comey has been dismissed by the president [...] a startling move that officials said stemmed from a conclusion by Justice Department officials that he had mishandled the probe of Hillary Clinton's emails.
President Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey:
President Trump has fired the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey, over his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails, the White House said Tuesday.
[...] Under the F.B.I.'s normal rules of succession, Mr. Comey's deputy, Andrew G. McCabe, a career F.B.I. officer, becomes acting director. The White House said the search for a new director will begin immediately.
I never liked Comey (see this cluster of stories), but I doubt there will ever be an FBI Director I like.
We're Stuck With Comey
Earlier in the day...
ProPublica reports that most of FBI Director James Comey's testimony to Congress last Wednesday related to Huma Abedin's mishandling of classified emails was inaccurate, and that FBI officials are privately acknowledging the mistake(s) but are still considering their next move:
FBI director James Comey generated national headlines last week with his dramatic testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, explaining his "incredibly painful" decision to go public about the Hillary Clinton emails found on Anthony Weiner's laptop.
Perhaps Comey's most surprising revelation was that Huma Abedin — Weiner's wife and a top Clinton deputy — had made "a regular practice" of forwarding "hundreds and thousands" of Clinton messages to her husband, "some of which contain classified information." Comey testified that Abedin had done this so that the disgraced former congressman could print them out for her boss. (Weiner's laptop was seized after he came under criminal investigation for sex crimes, following a media report about his online relationship with a teenager.)
The New York Post plastered its story on the front page with a photo of an underwear-clad Weiner and the headline: "HARD COPY: Huma sent Weiner classified Hillary emails to print out." The Daily News went with a similar front-page screamer: "HUMA ERROR: Sent classified emails to sext maniac Weiner."
The problem: Much of what Comey said about this was inaccurate. Now the FBI is trying to figure out what to do about it. FBI officials have privately acknowledged that Comey misstated what Abedin did and what the FBI investigators found. On Monday, the FBI was said to be preparing to correct the record by sending a letter to Congress later this week. But that plan now appears on hold, with the bureau undecided about what to do.
[...] According to two sources familiar with the matter — including one in law enforcement — Abedin forwarded only a handful of Clinton emails to her husband for printing — not the "hundreds and thousands" cited by Comey. It does not appear Abedin made "a regular practice" of doing so. Other officials said it was likely that most of the emails got onto the computer as a result of backups of her Blackberry.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has chosen to replace half of the members on one of its key scientific review boards, the first step in a broader effort by Republicans to change the way the agency evaluates the scientific basis for its regulations.
The move could significantly change the makeup of the 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors, which advises EPA's key scientific arm on whether the research it does has sufficient rigor and integrity. All of the members being dismissed were at the end of serving at least one three-year term, although these terms are often renewed instead of terminated.
EPA spokesman J.P. Freire said in an email that "no one has been fired or terminated," and that Pruitt had simply decided to bring in fresh advisers. The agency informed the outside academics on Friday that their terms would not be renewed.
[...] These moves came as a surprise to the agencies' outside advisers, with several of them taking to Twitter to announce their suspensions.
Members of EPA's Board of Scientific Counselors had been informed twice — in January, before Barack Obama left office, and then more recently by EPA career staff members — that they would be kept on for another term, adding to their confusion.
We cannot allow Beijing's air quality to beat ours.
Emmanuel Macron has been declared the President of France after early vote counts:
France has a new president. Emmanuel Macron – an independent centrist who has never held elected office – has won a resounding victory over far-right, nationalist Marine Le Pen in the most important French presidential race in decades, according to early vote counts by the French Interior Ministry.
In early returns, Macron had won an estimated 65 percent of the vote to Le Pen's nearly 35 percent, according to the French Interior Ministry. Le Pen has already called to congratulate Macron and conceded defeat to a gathering of her supporters in Paris.
From CNBC: Euro hits six-month high on Macron victory
CNN editorial: Why Macron's victory is reassuring ... and yet not
BBC has an article about Macron's potential choice of Prime Minister.