Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The FBI has sided with the powerful against the powerless to maintain an unjust social order

counterpunch  |  The indictments are a major political story, but not for the reasons given in mainstream press coverage. Once Mr. Mueller’s indictment is understood to charge the exploitation of existing social tensions (read it and decide for yourself), the FBI, which Mr. Mueller directed from 2001 – 2013, is precisely the wrong entity to be rendering judgment. The FBI has been America’s political police since its founding in 1908. Early on former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover led legally dubious mass arrests of American dissidents. He practically invented the slander of conflating legitimate dissent with foreign agency. This is the institutional backdrop from which Mr. Mueller proceeds.

In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s the FBI’s targets included the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, the American Indian Movement (AIM), the Black Panther Party and any other political organization Mr. Hoover deemed a threat. The secret (hidden) FBI program COINTELPRO was intended to subvert political outcomes outside of allegations of criminal wrongdoing and with no regard for the lives of its targets. Throughout its history the FBI has sided with the powerful against the powerless to maintain an unjust social order.

Robert Mueller became FBI Director only days before the attacks of September 11, 2001. One of his first acts as Director was to arrest 1,000 persons without any evidence of criminal wrongdoing. None of those arrested were ever charged in association with the attacks. The frame in which the FBI acted— to maintain political stability threatened by ‘external’ forces, was ultimately chosen by the George W. Bush administration to justify its aggressive war against Iraq.

It is the FBI’s legacy of conflating dissent with being an agent of a foreign power that Mr. Mueller’s indictment most insidiously perpetuates. Russians are ‘sowing discord,’ and they are using Americans to do so, goes the allegation. Black Lives Matter and Bernie Sanders are listed in the indictment as roadblocks to the unfettered ascension of Hillary Clinton to the presidency. Russians are sowing discord, therefore discord is both suspect in itself and evidence of being a foreign agent.

The posture of simple reporting at work in the indictment— that it isn’t the FBI’s fault that the Russians (allegedly) inserted themselves into the electoral process, runs against the history of the FBI’s political role, the tilt used to craft criminal charges and the facts put forward versus those put to the side. Given the political agendas of the other agencies that the FBI joined through the charges, they are most certainly but a small piece of a larger story.

In the aftermath of the indictments it’s easy to forget that the Pentagon created the internet, that the NSA has its tentacles in all of its major chokepoints, that the CIA has been heavily involved in funding and ‘using’ social media toward its own ends and that the FBI is only reputable in the present because of Americans’ near-heroic ignorance of history. The claim that the Russian operation was sophisticated because it had corporate form and function is countered by the fact that it was, by the various agencies’ own claims, ineffectual in changing the outcome of the election.

I Have a List
While Robert Mueller was busy charging never-to-be-tried Russians with past crimes, Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, declared that future Russian meddling has already cast a shadow over the integrity of the 2018 election. Why the Pentagon that created the internet, the NSA that has its tentacles in all of its major chokepoints, the CIA that has been heavily involved in funding and ‘using’ social media toward its own ends and the FBI that just landed such a glorious victory of good over evil would be quivering puddles when it comes to precluding said meddling is a question that needs to be asked.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Congressional Black Caucus helps everyone except black people..., |  Today, the Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressman Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA-02), sent a letter to President Trump criticizing his immigration proposal as “unreasonable”  and “un-American” because it unnecessarily pits black and brown immigrants against each other.
Months ago, President Trump agreed to sign the DREAM Act into law, legislation that would primarily benefit Latino immigrants who were brought to the United States as children through no fault of their own, if and only if Congress funded additional border security measures. Now, the President is calling for an end to the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Program, a program that primarily benefits African and Asian immigrants and is mischaracterized by him as a  “lottery” for low-skilled immigrants who have little to contribute to America. While immigrants are randomly selected for the DV program, they are required to have a high-school degree or equivalent work experience and endure a rigorous screening process. In fact, DV recipients are generally better educated than Americans born in the United States. In 2016, for example, half of DV recipients had a college degree, compared to just 32 percent of the overall United States population.

Republican and Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate were copied on the letter. Full text of the letter is attached and online. Excerpts from the letter are below.

Pitting Black and Brown Immigrants Against Each Other
“On behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus, I write today to express our complete disgust with your unreasonable immigration proposal, particularly your insistence upon the elimination of the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Program. Your framework explicitly pits Dreamers, young Americans who know no other country, against the legal immigration system, one which provides an opportunity for immigrants of color to fight for a chance at the American Dream. Sadly, your strategy was predictable in light of your long, troubled history with race in this country. We vehemently oppose your blatantly callous strategy to divide and conquer communities of color and call on Members of Congress to reject your proposal, lest they be complicit in advancing your racially discriminatory policies.”

Mischaracterizing the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program
“Moreover, your calls to end the [DV program] lack any reasonable basis. First, you portray the program as a giveaway to immigrants randomly selected by a lottery. While a lottery system is used to administer this extremely overly-subscribed visa program in an unbiased fashion, applicants nonetheless undergo a rigorous vetting process and extensive screening. Second, you claim the program is a threat to national security because it creates a pathway for terrorists and criminals. The very nature of the diversity visa lottery is an ineffective tool for terrorists. In 2015, 9.4 million people applied for 50,000 visas. Even if a terrorist beat the 1 in 188 odds of being selected for the program, that person would still have to complete the normal vetting process for any other green card holder. 

Additionally, diversity visa recipients have a far lower rate of incarceration compared to native-born Americans. For example, in 2015, immigrants from the top 20 diversity visa countries had an incarceration rate just one-fifth of the incarceration rate of native-born Americans. Lastly, you continuously characterize diversity visa recipients as low-skilled workers with little to contribute to American society. While America should continue to welcome the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free, your characterization of diversity visa recipients is simply false. Applicants are already required to have a high school education or equivalent work experience. Moreover, diversity visa recipients have been generally better educated than Americans born in the United States. For example, in 2016, half of diversity visa recipients had a college degree, compared to just 32 percent of the overall United States population.”

Creating the DACA Crisis
“To be clear, the crisis we face is one of your own making. Dreamers enjoyed legal status under the Obama-era policy of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which you unilaterally ended last fall. Now, despite your commitment to sign the Dream Act into law if accompanied by border security measures, you continue to thwart bipartisan efforts to find a solution for Dreamers by attacking the legal immigration system. To suggest that we are any less committed to a permanent solution for Dreamers because we refuse to acquiesce to your racially discriminatory policies is preposterous. We refuse to choose between Dreamers and African immigrants. They both have and deserve our full-throated support.”

I feel like he cares more about me than the last president did...,

cbsnews |  This was the group when we met them in downtown Grand Rapids six months ago. Fourteen passionately partisan strangers.

Now, they greet each other like old friends. Lauren Taylor, a liberal community organizer, and Tom Nemcek, a staunch libertarian and supporter of President Trump, couldn't be farther apart politically. But they took the initiative to bring the group together. Tom, a gun rights advocate, took members of the group shooting. It made such an impression on Laura Ansara, she bought her own gun and joined the NRA.

Matt Wiedenhoeft – a Trump supporter who teaches economics and coaches a hockey team at Grand Valley State University – invited them to a Saturday night game.

And nearly the entire group turned out for what they call a team-building workout organized by Jennifer Allard, a lifelong Republican who says she couldn't bring herself to vote for Donald Trump. Wesley Watson, a community health activist, was there. So was Daniel Skidmore, a conservative and first-time voter. And Maggie Ryan, a lawyer and self-described independent.

Oprah Winfrey: When we first met, there were some of you who had said, you know, you'd never been in conversations, certainly engagement, with members of the opposite side, political side. So has that changed for you now?

Jennifer: Yes. Because now I'm looking at them as people, not as you're Trump or not Trump. This has been an incredible experience and an education for me.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Oh SNAP!!! Mueller Can't Punk A 3-Star Like He Was An IQ-75 Softhead

thefederalist  |  On Friday, Judge Emmet Sullivan issued an order in United States v. Flynn that, while widely unnoticed, reveals something fascinating: A motion by Michael Flynn to withdraw his guilty plea based on government misconduct is likely in the works.

Just a week ago, and thus before Sullivan quietly directed Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team to provide Flynn’s attorneys “any exculpatory evidence,” Washington Examiner columnist Byron York detailed the oddities of Flynn’s case. The next day, former assistant U.S. attorney and National Review contributing editor Andrew McCarthy connected more of the questionable dots. York added even more details a couple of days later. Together these articles provide the backdrop necessary to understand the significance of Sullivan’s order on Friday.

What’s Happened in the Michael Flynn Case So Far

To recap: On November 30, 2017, prosecutors working for Mueller charged former Trump national security advisor Flynn with lying to FBI agents. The following day, Flynn pled guilty before federal judge Rudolph Contreras. Less than a week later — and without explanation — Flynn’s case was reassigned to Judge Emmet G. Sullivan.

One of Sullivan’s first orders of business was to enter a standing order, on December 12, 2017, directing “the government to produce to defendant in a timely manner – including during plea negotiations – any evidence in its possession that is favorable to defendant and material either to defendant’s guilt or punishment.” Sullivan’s standing order further directed the government, if it “has identified any information which is favorable to the defendant but which the government believes not to be material,” to “submit such information to the Court for in camera review.”

Sullivan enters identical standing orders as a matter of course in all of his criminal cases, as he explained in a 2016 Cardozo Law Review article: “Following the Stevens case, I have issued a standing Brady Order for each criminal case on my docket, updating it in reaction to developments in the law.” A Brady order directs the government to disclose all exculpatory evidence to defense counsel, as required by Brady v. Maryland. The Stevens case, of course, is the government’s corrupt prosecution of the late senator Ted Stevens—an investigation and prosecution which, as Sullivan put it, “were permeated by the systematic concealment of significant exculpatory evidence. . . .”

While the December standing order represented Sullivan’s normal practice, as both McCarthy and York noted, Flynn had already pled guilty. In his plea agreement, Flynn agreed to “forego the right to any further discovery or disclosures of information not already provided at the time of the entry of Flynn’s guilty plea.” On Wednesday, however, the attorneys in the Flynn case presented the court an agreed-upon protective order governing the use of the material — including sensitive material — the special counsel’s office provides Flynn. This indicates Mueller’s team will not fight Sullivan’s standing order based on the terms of Flynn’s plea agreement.

Why Bombshells Are Likely Ahead

With a protective order in place, Flynn’s attorneys should start receiving the required disclosures from the special counsel’s office. There is reason to believe these will include some bombshells.

Year Old Russian Article Outlines The Troll Factory "Indictment"  |  The total budget for promotion in social networks was about $ 5 thousand per month, that is about $ 120 thousand for two years, follows from the internal statistics of the "factory", which is available to RBC magazine. These figures confirm the source of RBC inside the organization. Employees of the "factory" promoted posts from at least 40 communities: about half of the budget went to publications touching on racial issues, slightly less - with political bias.

The interlocutors of the magazine RBC argue: on Twitter, advertising was not bought, as it was not bought in Tumblr or Imgur. "We spent a little bit on the promotion of Twitter-accounts - wrote bots to gain weight, but this is a miserable expense," - clarifies the employee of the "factory". According to him, in the Facebook communities the bots were not used, because "it does not make sense, we needed live people", but RBC magazine could not verify this. The fact that repostili publications real users, not bots, also wrote The New York Times. Placing advertisements on Google platforms, interlocutors from the "factory" also deny, specifying only that "there were tests, but they did not receive continuations."

Approximately 10 million unique users from among US residents have seen at least one ad, created by structures associated with the "factory", cited statistics on Facebook. Savushkin is preferred to measure by coverage: in August 2016, the minimum was 15 million per week, in October 2016, the maximum bar was reached - 70 million hits per week, follows from the internal statistics of the "factory" received by RBC magazine in early 2017, th. Facebook in one of its applications pointed out that about 25% of advertisements from structures associated with the "factory" never appeared to anyone - because of their irrelevance to the audience.

The average CPM (the price for 1,000 impressions) in the US is $ 5-7, so the campaign coverage of 10 million people is not very much, you could do 30-40% more, says Sergei Efimov, director of customer services OMD Resolution . Moreover, the audience usually reacts to posts of a political type much better than the usual advertising of brands, which means that the CPM can be even lower - $ 2-3, the expert adds. Director General of Agency One Touch Anatoly Emelyanov says that the price of a subscriber in Facebook rises from $ 0.5 to 2, but with a good campaign creative "the cost of attraction reaches 1 cent for involvement."

However, a significant part of the advertising budget of the "factory" was not aimed at promoting the groups as such, but on scaling the experience with hot dogs.

Remote meeting

In May 2016, the famous American activist and one of the founders of the Occupy Wall Street movement Mika White received an email from a certain Jan Davis. He introduced himself as a freelance journalist of the BlackMattersUS community, dedicated to the problems of the black population, and asked for a telephone interview. The activist agreed, gave his number, but the conversation that took place eventually seemed strange to him. "The quality of the connection was poor, and the interviewer, in my opinion, was not a native speaker of the English language," an activist told the RBC magazine, which in 2014 Esquire magazine ranked among the "most influential people under 35".

Now you can read the interview with White only on the site BlackMattersUS - community pages in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram with a total number of subscribers more than 250 thousand are blocked (only Tumblr is available). Deactivated and the account of "Jan Davis" on Facebook. A correspondent of the RBC magazine sent him a letter to the same address from which he communicated with White, but the "freelance correspondent" did not open it (data from the Readnotify service). The @BlackMattersUS account on Twitter was registered to a phone number starting with +7. According to the source of RBC magazine, close to the "factory", the same people who worked on the night shift engaged in interaction with various American activists, responding to comments in groups.

Unlike most communities that were run by the "factory", BlackMattersUS positioned itself as a non-profit news portal with its own edition. Anyone could also support the fighters against racism by sending a donation through PayPal to a wallet tied to a post on Gmail with xtimwalters online. In the editorial office, in addition to "Jan Davis," there were six more people working on the site. A correspondent of the RBC magazine discovered the accounts of two more "employees" on Twitter: one of them is blocked, the other has not been updated since 2016.

BlackMattersUS, 44.2% of the audience who visits the site from the search engines (data from Similarweb), managed to collect a whole portfolio of interviews with famous fighters for the rights of blacks. In addition to White, the community representatives talked with the legendary member of the Black Panthers movement Erica Huggins, the mother of a black teenager Ramarli Graham, murdered by police in New York, Columbia University professor and cross rapper Tupac Shakur Jamal Joseph, as well as Ramone Africa, a member of the Philadelphia movement of black MOVE , one of the few survivors of the unprecedented local police raid in 1985 (with a helicopter law-enforcement officers dropped a bomb at the headquarters of the organization).

Communication with the characters did not end after the interview. The same White received from the "Jan Davis" several letters asking to support the BlackMattersUS shares - for example, flash mob in support of the colleagues of Ramona Africa, caught up in prison. The essence of the request was to publish photos and videos in social networks with the demand to release them.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sunday Morning Shows Peddled The NothingBurger Like It Was Their Job

disobedientmedia |  If one needed proof that Mueller’s investigation was an utter farce, they were in for a treat this morning when the Deputy Attorney General announced the indictment of thirteen “Russian trolls,” for allegedly interfering in the 2016 Presidential election by posting on social media accounts.

Laying Mueller’s disregard of the First Amendment aside, the indictment is blatantly hypocritical in light of active social media intervention by pro-Clinton David Brock and his multi-million dollar efforts to ‘Correct The Record.’

The indictment alleges that: “Beginning in or around June 2014, the ORGANIZATION obscured its conduct by operating through a number of Russian entities, including Internet Research LLC, MediaSintez LLC, GlavSet LLC, MixInfo LLC, Azimut LLC, and NovInfo LLC.”

The indictment further alleges that: “The ORGANIZATION sought, in part, to conduct what it called information warfare against the United States of America through fictitious U.S. personas on social media platforms and other Internet-based media.”

According to the indictment, the co-conspirators “engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.”

The indictment represents the latest mutation of Russian interference allegations that have dragged on for over a year. As this author previously noted, the definition of Russian interference has shifted from unsubstantiated claims of Russian hacking, to Russian collusion, and finally to Russian social media trolling.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Future Genomics: Don't Edit A Rough Copy When You Can Print A Fresh New One

technologyreview  |  It took Boeke and his team eight years before they were able to publish their first fully artificial yeast chromosome. The project has since accelerated. Last March, the next five synthetic yeast chromosomes were described in a suite of papers in Science, and Boeke says that all 16 chromosomes are now at least 80 percent done. These efforts represent the largest amount of genetic material ever synthesized and then joined together.

It helps that the yeast genome has proved remarkably resilient to the team’s visions and revisions. “Probably the biggest headline here is that you can torture the genome in a multitude of different ways, and the yeast just laughs,” says Boeke.

Boeke and his colleagues aren’t simply replacing the natural yeast genome with a synthetic one (“Just making a copy of it would be a stunt,” says Church). Throughout the organism’s DNA they have also placed molecular openings, like the invisible breaks in a magician’s steel rings. These let them reshuffle the yeast chromosomes “like a deck of cards,” as Cai puts it. The system is known as SCRaMbLE, for “synthetic chromosome recombination and modification by LoxP-mediated evolution.”

The result is high-speed, human-driven evolution: millions of new yeast strains with different properties can be tested in the lab for fitness and function in applications like, eventually, medicine and industry. Mitchell predicts that in time, Sc2.0 will displace all the ordinary yeast in scientific labs.

The ultimate legacy of Boeke’s project could be decided by what genome gets synthesized next. The GP-write group originally imagined that making a synthetic human genome would have the appeal of a “grand challenge.” Some bioethicists disagreed and sharply criticized the plan. Boeke emphasizes that the group will “not do a project aimed at making a human with a synthetic genome.” That means no designer people.

Ethical considerations aside, synthesizing a full human genome—which is over 250 times larger than the yeast genome—is impractical with current methods. The effort to advance the technology also lacks funding. Boeke’s yeast work has been funded by the National Science Foundation and by academic institutions, including partners in China, but the larger GP-write initiative has not attracted major support, other than a $250,000 initial donation from the computer design company Autodesk. Compare that with the Human Genome Project, which enjoyed more than $3 billion in US funding.

Watch The Edge Video, It's About The "Church Approach" To Global Warming

edge  |  I would say that there are two things I’m obsessing about recently. One is global warming and the other is augmentation. Global warming is something that strikes me as an interesting social phenomenon and scientific challenge. From the social side, you’ve got denialism, which, to me, is more important. You have denialism on a bunch of fronts. You've got denial of the Holocaust and evolution, but those aren’t things that necessarily in and of themselves impact our lives. It’s very heartrending and callous that anyone would deny the Holocaust, but as long as they don’t add to that a lot of other racism, nobody’s going to get hurt by it.

I imagine that we could probably populate my company enEvolv, which has evolution in the title, mostly with creationists and they would still get the products out. You just follow a recipe. Even though you’re doing evolution, you don’t need to believe it. Maybe it would help if the very top scientists believed in neo-Darwinism or something. Those are curious things that people fight about and have deep feelings about, but they don’t affect day-to-day life.

Global warming is something that could be catastrophic. You could argue that it’s in the same category because you can’t prove that my life today is worse because of global warming, but it’s something where it could be exponential. The odds are against it, but we don’t even know how to calculate the odds. It’s not like we’re playing blackjack or something like that. There’s more carbon in the Arctic tundra than in the entire atmosphere plus all the rain forests put together. And that carbon, unlike the rain forest where you have to burn the rain forest to release it, goes into the atmosphere as soon as you get melting. It’s already many gigatons per year going up. That’s something that could spiral out of control.

Even for the ultra concerned citizens, almost all the suggestions are not about how to prevent an exponential release, but how to slow down the inevitable. It's like the extinction problem: If you don’t have a way of reversing it, then you’re fighting a losing battle. That’s not psychologically a good thing, it’s hard to get enthusiastic funding for it, and you will ultimately fail. Whether it’s solar panels, or not using your SUVs as much, or not buying SUVs, or having smaller houses—all of these things are slowing down the inevitable. It’s hard to get excited about that.

The other thing that is problematic socially is the whole idea that it’s an "inconvenient truth." To some extent Gore’s phrase is brilliant, but it’s also counterproductive because the people for whom it is inconvenient don’t want to believe it’s inconvenient. People don’t want to give up their SUVs and their steak meals. It would be better to talk about a convenient solution, whether or not that’s the real solution or the best solution, just talk about it so you get acceptance first. You need acceptance before you can get to the best solution.

The other part that makes acceptance difficult is blame. People will say, "It’s not my fault," and that gets confused for "it’s not anybody’s fault." You could make an argument that it’s not your fault because you weren’t around during the Industrial Revolution. You didn’t personally do that much; you’re just one seven billionth of the problem at most. You could make an argument that you’re not personally to blame, but then expanding that to no human being has had anything to do with it is where things go off the tracks. The thing that got us into the position of denial was the blame game. 

You want everybody to be inconvenienced because it’s their fault. That’s two strikes against you.
I don't know if you’ve read The Righteous Mind, but Jon Haidt makes the point that even people who consider themselves very rational are not using a rational argument when making decisions. They’re making decisions and then using the rational argument to rationalize. A lot of what he says sounds obvious once you restate it, but I found the way he says it and backs it up with social science research very illuminating, if not compelling.

The elephant, as he refers to it, the thing that’s making your decisions in your life, is deciding that this person is telling you that you’re responsible for something you don’t feel responsible for. It's telling you that you have to sacrifice many things that you don’t want to sacrifice. From your viewpoint, that person is inconvenient, incorrect, and you’re going to ignore them. The more they insult you and your way of life, the less you’re going to listen to them, and then you’re going to make a bunch of rationalizations about that. This is why we have problems. 

Digital Biological Conversion  |   THE human race has come a very long way in a short amount of time, but what is coming around the corner will change everything we thought we knew about mankind. 

Modern medicine and rapidly advancing technology have seen us greatly evolve from the early days of hunter-gatherers, and now the same factors are working toward seeing the introduction of “superhumans” into our society.

At the core of the development is designer bodies using DNA manipulation and human/AI hybrids, both of which were highlighted during the World Government Summit in Dubai.

Imagine being able to choose if your unborn child will be male or female, their height, weight and even athletic prowess.

Now imagine hacking our memories or making our bodies able to thrive in extreme environments in which survival was previously impossible.

These are both quickly becoming a reality, according to founding director of the Life Sciences Project at Harvard Business School, Juan Enriquez.

Allowing humans to become masters of their DNA is something can be achieved using a gene editing technique known as CRISPR — a simple yet powerful tool used to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function.

“These instruments, like CRISPR, are allowing us to, in real-time, edit life on a grand scale,” he said, according to Futurism. “We are rewriting the sentences of life to our purposes.”

Mr Enriquez said these techniques will soon see us living in a world of “unrandom selection”.
“Instead of letting nature select what lives here, I’m going to select what lives here,” he said. “Science used to be about discovery, now it is about creation.”

The academic said more than being able to create athletes from birth, the technology would greatly increase the amount of lives that could be saved on a daily basis.

“You can make the world’s flu vaccine in a week instead of a year. And by the way, this is no longer theoretical,” Mr Enriquez said.

With the likes of Elon Musk and NASA working toward getting humans to colonise Mars, he said gene editing will play a vital role in this.  Fist tap Big Don.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Like His Fake Terrorist Plots - Mueller Serves Tepid Skimmed Piss As FBI Hot Tea

WaPo |  The Justice Department’s special counsel announced the indictment Friday of a notorious Russian troll farm — charging 13 individuals with an audacious scheme to criminally interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The Internet Research Agency, based in St. Petersburg, Russia, was named in the indictment as the hub of a massive effort to trick Americans into following Russian-fed propaganda — a stunning accusation of criminal conspiracy reaching halfway around the world.

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein said the indictment is “a reminder that people are not always who they appear on the Internet. The indictment alleges that the Russian conspirators want to promote social discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy. We must not allow them to to succeed.”

Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is leading the probe into Russian interference in the U.S. election, did not attend the press briefing about the indictment, but the 37 pages of charges laid out an ambitious effort in late 2016 to push U.S. voters toward then-candidate Donald Trump and away from Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Prosecutors said the group kept a list of real Americans who their employees had contacted using false personas and had asked to assist the effort. The list, which numbered over 100 people by late August 2016, included the U.S. citizen's contact information, a summary of each person's political views and the activities the Russians had asked them to undertake.

FBI Was Too Busy Policing Politics To "Protect and Serve" Citizens...,

WaPo |  FBI officials declined to say what precise searches were used to try to identify the owner of the account or to possibly link it with other social media profiles. Cruz had two Instagram accounts that also contain his name: cruz_nikolas and nikolascruzmakarov.

A law enforcement official said the FBI will review the steps it took in responding to the tip to determine whether anything could have been done differently or if practices should be changed for the future.

A search of the public records database Nexis for people with the name “Nikolas Cruz” returns 22 results, three of which use different spellings. It was not immediately clear if the FBI attempted to contact any of those people.

Without more to go on, officials felt there wasn’t enough legal justification to issue a subpoena to YouTube for the underlying information about the “nikolas cruz” who had threatened a school shooting, a law enforcement official said.

Google, which owns YouTube, has a policy of not turning over user information to the government without a subpoena, search warrant or other court order forcing it to do so. Google representatives did not return messages seeking comment.

Limited resources
Hosko, the former FBI assistant director, said the FBI gets more than 100 threat reports each day, in addition to other reports of mental health and other issues. That leaves supervisors in the difficult position of deciding how many resources should be devoted to each case and for how long. Even in terrorism cases, Hosko said, the bureau sometimes has to leave suspects unmonitored because the FBI lacks personnel to follow each of them all the time.

“The FBI has terrorism subjects that they’re looking at — they’re not all under 24-7 surveillance, and if they prioritize that wrong, yes, something bad can happen,” Hosko said. “These are the hard resource-allocation decisions you’re making if you don’t have unlimited resources.”

Hosko said in most cases of possible threats, an early question supervisors ask is, “At the end of the day, would we even have a federal crime if we proved a person sent this or posted this?” And in Cruz’s case — where the comment is a not a specific threat — the answer was probably no, he said.
Bennight said that after agents interviewed him about the comment in September, he didn’t hear anything more from the FBI — until Wednesday. Agents called him to say that there had been an incident and that they wanted to follow up on his earlier complaint.

Bennight said he did not know how it was connected to the shooting in Florida until agents informed him that the comment he’d flagged had been posted under a username matching the name of suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz.

Sen. Chuck Grassley Tells AG Sessions Act Like A Man!

Bloomberg |  Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley blasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions after Sessions criticized his criminal justice overhaul a day before a committee vote.

Sessions wrote a letter charging that the legislation -- approved Thursday by the Judiciary Committee on a 16 to 5 vote -- could let the “very worst criminals” and gang members out of prison early. Grassley accused the attorney general of being ungrateful, saying that he had supported Sessions when President Donald Trump wanted to fire him and protected him from repeated Democratic demands for public hearings on Sessions’s contacts with Russians in 2016.

“I think it’s legitimate to be incensed and I resent it, because of what I’ve done for him. He had a tough nomination, a tough hearing in my committee,” Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said in an interview Wednesday in his Capitol Hill office.

"They wanted to call him back every other day for additional hearings about his Russian connection, and I shut them off of that until we had the normal oversight hearing in October I believe it was, see? And the president was going to fire him, and I backed him, you know? So why wouldn’t I be irritated?"

Grassley’s remarks came after repeated accusations by Trump and some of his allies of anti-Trump political bias at the Justice Department. The president was angry when Sessions last year recused himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. That helped lead to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Grassley said that when Sessions’s job was in trouble, he told reporters he didn’t have time to hold a hearing for a new nominee for attorney general. Grassley also rejected calls by Democrats to bring Sessions before the committee to face questions about his failure to disclose his contacts with Russians, including then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, in response to questions at his confirmation hearing. Democrats on the committee had to wait until the regular committee oversight hearing with the attorney general to confront him publicly.

Taking his grievance over the letter to Twitter on Wednesday, Grassley said Sessions was acting like he was still a senator instead of a member of the executive branch with the responsibility of implementing the laws, not making them.

Who's Snitching Who's Asking Kwestins In The DOJ?

theconservativetreehouse |  So to summarize so far: during January all the DOJ documents arrived, the HPSCI (Nunes) memo was written, released, declassified and released to the public on February 2nd, 2018 but no witnesses testified.  [Nunes Memo – Link]
So the question becomes:

How does the exact testimony (including quotes) of Bruce Ohr, and Bill Priestap become part of the Nunes Memo if neither Bruce Ohr or Bill Priestap was ever interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee?

Who is doing the interrogations of Bill Priestap and Bruce Ohr?

It’s not the HPSCI.  It’s not the House Judiciary Committee and it’s not the Senate (Chuck Grassley).  [Remember Grassley is relying on responsive FD-302’s provided by the FBI.]

See where this is going?  DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz has interviewed these witnesses and extracted testimony.  Can you see now why Nunes was in ‘no hurry’ to interview the FIVE? (Strzok, Page, Ohr, Baker and Priestap).

Let me remind everyone that each of the aforementioned names is still within the system.  Unlike Mike Kortan, David Laufman, Sally Yates, James Rybicki or Andrew McCabe, none of the five (Strzok, Page, Ohr, Baker, Priestap) have been removed.  Peter Strzok is in FBI HR; Lisa Page is doing something; Bruce Ohr and James Baker are holding down chairs somewhere; and Bill Priestap is still Asst. FBI Director in charge of counterintelligence.

It doesn’t go unnoticed the media are transparently not following up on Peter, Lisa, Bruce Jim or Bill.  No satellite trucks in front of their houses etc.; no pounding on their doors for comment etc.  Nothing.

Further, ask yourself why Inspector General Michael Horowitz (or someone thereabouts) began to advance upon the entire ‘Trump operation’ with releases of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page text messages?  Why them? Surely, other collaborative communication was also captured, yet we only heard of Page and Strzok.  Why?

Hiding Payments Under The Table At The Highest Levels Of Federal Law Enforcement

dailycaller |  The DOJ says, “Financial disclosure reports are used to identify potential or actual conflicts of interest. If the person charged with reviewing an employee’s report finds a conflict, he should impose a remedy immediately.”
  • Justice Department official Bruce Ohr did not disclose Fusion GPS was paying his wife
  • Ohr was demoted from his post after the information emerged
  • Willfully falsifying government ethics documents can result in jail time
Bruce Ohr, the Department of Justice official who brought opposition research on President Donald Trump to the FBI, did not disclose that Fusion GPS, which performed that research at the Democratic National Committee’s behest, was paying his wife, and did not obtain a conflict of interest waiver from his superiors at the Justice Department, documents obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation show.

The omission may explain why Ohr was demoted from his post as associate deputy attorney general after the relationship between Fusion GPS and his wife emerged and Fusion founder Glenn Simpson acknowledged meeting with Ohr. Willfully falsifying government ethics forms can carry a penalty of jail time, if convicted.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) hired Fusion GPS to gather and disseminate damning info about Trump, and they in turn paid Nellie Ohr, a former CIA employee with expertise in Russia, for an unknown role related to the “dossier.” Bruce Ohr then brought the information to the FBI, kicking off a probe and a media firestorm.

The DOJ used it to obtain a warrant to wiretap a Trump adviser, but didn’t disclose to the judge that the DNC and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign had funded the research and that Ohr had a financial relationship with the firm that performed it — which could be, it turns out, because Ohr doesn’t appear to have told his supervisors. Some have suggested that the financial payments motivated Bruce Ohr to actively push the case.

For 2014 and 2015, Bruce Ohr disclosed on ethics forms that his wife was an “independent contractor” earning consulting fees. In 2016, she added a new employer who paid her a “salary,” but listed it vaguely as “cyberthreat analyst,” and did not say the name of the company.

The instructions require officials to “Provide the name of your spouse’s employer. In addition, if your spouse’s employer is a privately held business, provide the employer’s line of business.” As examples, it gives “Xylophone Technologies Corporation” and “DSLK Financial Techniques, Inc. (financial services).” The dollar amount does not need to be disclosed. “Report each source, whether a natural person or an organization or entity, that provided your spouse more than $1,000 of earned income during the reporting period,” they say.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Democrats Got Nothing More Pro-Black Than Trump's Gutting The Replacement Negroe Program

alternet |  The black community is one of the Democratic Party’s most reliable voting blocks. Using survey data collected from some 400 black interviewees, political scientist Theodore Johnson created a number of hypothetical political situations to assess black voting patterns. Party was an overwhelming factor in their political decision-making; faced with Republican and Democratic contenders with identical policy positions in identical social climates, the black respondents resoundingly chose the Democrat.

Unfortunately, their loyalty has not always been repaid with proportionate policy responsiveness, most disappointingly from Democrats. Political scientist Nick Stephanopoulos conducted a study to determine the extent of group political power on effecting policy outcomes at the state and federal levels. Unsurprisingly, black voters had less power than whites: Unanimous support among whites for a federal policy corresponded to a 60 percent chance of adoption, while unanimous support among black Americans for such a policy corresponded to a 10 percent chance of adoption. Somewhat correspondingly then, Stephanopoulos found that the less support a policy had among black Americans, the higher its likelihood of enactment. A policy with no black support had a 40 percent chance of enactment compared to the aforementioned 10 percent for a policy with unanimous support.

Analysis from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies corroborated Stephanopoulos’ 2015 findings. With data collected between 1972 and 2010, researchers found that black voters were “policy winners” 31.9 percent of the time, while white voters were “winners” 37.6 percent of the time. Less power means less policy.

Political scientist Paul Frymer first articulated the underpinnings of these studies in his 1999 book, Uneasy Alliances: Race and Party Competition in America. He observed that politicians focus their appeals and energy toward white swing voters at the expense of black voters, thereby rendering them politically paralyzed. The result of the need to entice white voters is that explicit arguments for racial reconciliation during presidential campaigns have been waning since the 1970s, lest they turn white voters off.

In light of this history, it’s difficult to know exactly to what extent the party will advocate for black voters. However, there are encouraging signs to be found. In 2016, the Democratic Party platform pledged “to make it clear that black lives matter.” The party promised to commit itself to addressing issues that more explicitly affect the black community, including the racial wealth gap, and that implicitly affect them, like attempts to cut funding from SNAP and Medicaid. They actionized those promises in December 2017: Not a single Democrat in the House or the Senate voted for the Republican tax plan, a massive payout to the top one percent that will widen the racial wealth gap.

Progressives in the Democratic Party have every reason to buck their history of neglect, having seen what black voters can do electorally. In spite of a history of electoral disenfranchisement, electoral neglect, gerrymandering, and voting purges, black voters have potential to flip elections when they turn out at a time when Democrats desperately need them to. Furthermore, the party itself has explicitly acknowledged that it needs to do better. Mirroring Chairman Perez, Virgie Rollins, chair of the DNC’s Black Caucus, insisted that the party apparatus is well aware of this: “We learned valuable lessons last month and last night; when we invest in our communities, we win. The DNC knows black voters are a force to be reckoned with at the ballot box.”

The midterm elections are nine months from now. Progressives in the Democratic Party must actively compete for black votes, running not only on an anti-Trump platform, but on one that offers tangible protections from Republican assaults and tangible solutions to the challenges the black community faces. Not only is advocating for black Americans the right thing for the Democratic Party to do morally, but it also makes sense politically. Loyalty from the black community cannot be taken for granted, especially at a moment when the stakes of doing the opposite are so high.

Cleaver Capes Up For Replacement Negroes, But AWOL For Constituents...,

kansascity |  Crying out, “This is right! We are right!” U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver promised Sunday to seek special legislative relief for Lawrence chemist Syed Ahmed Jamal, while pledging to continue fighting for an immigration reform bill.

Jamal’s recent arrest by Immigration and Customs Enforcement sparked the “Free Syed” rally in Kansas City where Cleaver spoke. The event drew more than 100 people seeking aid for Jamal’s family and other families threatened by deportation. The story of Jamal’s arrest last month has drawn national attention in recent days.

“We are people of compassion,” Cleaver told the crowd at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church at 4501 Walnut St. “This is about human beings.”

Cleaver, a Kansas City Democrat, met with Jamal Saturday at the Texas detention center where he is being held. Cleaver carried with him a drawing of a dragon by Jamal’s 7-year-old son, Fareed, with the message, “I miss my dad.”

Jamal’s family joined the Sunday rally and Fareed brought the picture, telling The Star “I drew a dragon because I thought it would make my dad happy.”

And he was happy, Cleaver assured the child. “Some people, when they are happy, they cry,” Cleaver said, speaking of Jamal’s tears during their meeting in Texas. “He was happy.”

Cleaver announced he plans to advance special legislation early this week that would apply specifically to Jamal, seeking to release him from custody and secure his legal status. 

Immigration officials arrested Jamal, a 55-year-old chemistry instructor from Bangladesh, on Jan. 24 while he was taking his daughter to school. Jamal has lived in the U.S. for 30 years but his visa status has become invalid, according his family’s attorney.

Cleaver and others speaking at the rally pledged to work for legislative relief for thousands of families and individuals whose lives are in turmoil as they fear arrests and deportation because of their uncertain status under U.S. immigration laws.

The crowd heard a plea from a 32-year-old Kansas City woman named Yasmin whose husband —and the father of their four sons — has been taken into custody by ICE.

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