K-pop sex scandal: Singapore socialite Kim Lim denies involvement with nightclub saga

Last Saturday, in an interview with Korean daily Chosun Ilbo, former BigBang singer Seungri denied that he had asked his staff to procure prostitutes for foreign investors at nightclub Arena.Referring to one message in particular, he clarified that he was looking only for women to hang out with a woman named "Kimmy".He said she was the "daughter of a Singapore-born owner of a well-known football club" and a long-time friend of his.While he did not identify who she was, speculation swirled that he was referring to socialite Kim Lim, 27, whose billionaire father Peter Lim has a controlling stake in Spanish side Valencia.Last Saturday, Ms Lim wrote on Instagram to distance herself from the K-pop scandal that has seen four artists retire from show business. Seungri, 28, has been booked for providing sexual favours to would-be investors of the Burning Sun club.The scandal began in January when a Burning Sun customer said he was assaulted by staff, triggering further reports linking artists to illegal acts, from taping of women in sex acts to bribery to gambling.In her post, Ms Lim wrote: "Some time before the news broke, I received a phone call from Seungri. It turns out there has been a leaked conversation of him allegedly soliciting prostitutes for his investors."He asked me a few weird questions and hung up. I don't know why he called me and how I was involved in this saga at all. Needless to say, after the call, I was left completely confused. When this news broke out, Seungri said the chat is entirely fabricated and that it's fake news. However, the police later say it isn't."Referring to a media statement released later by Seungri's lawyer, she noted: "The article suggested that he arranged for me to party together with other girls, whom he claims are not prostitutes. To clarify on Dec 9, 2015, I was in Korea with my friends from Singapore. We went to Club Arena... and Seungri arranged for a VIP table for our group."We partied by ourselves and left after. In no way were there other patrons or staff who accompanied our group. I certainly never asked for any 'girls' to party with me. This can be vouched for by the four people who were part of the group that night."I am embroiled in this matter simply because I happened to be there that night. I was simply at the wrong place and at the wrong time."Ms Lim added: "Just to be clear, I had no inkling/idea of the alleged criminal activities going on in Burning Sun/Seungri's businesses before this saga broke out. I'm not involved in any way whatsoever."She warned that "any media outlets which persist in reporting so will be hearing from my legal counsel".
source: www.straitstimes.com

25 Mar 19

Trump team turns tables after Mueller report, calls for investigation into probe's origin

President Trump and his legal team declared total victory Sunday following the release of Special Counsel Robert Muellers key findings -- including no evidence of collusion with Russia during the 2016 campaign -- but sought to turn the tables by renewing calls to investigate the investigators.Trump himself slammed the probe as an illegal takedown, as he called Muellers report a complete exoneration and said it was a shame his presidency had to deal with the investigation for two years.Hopefully somebody is going to look at the other side, Trump said. This was an illegal takedown that failed and hopefully somebody is going to be looking at the other side.READ THE FULL LETTERIn case it wasn't clear what he meant, Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani told Fox News an investigation should be launched into how the investigation began.He was being investigated for a crime that never happened, Giuliani said. There was never any collusion.VideoGiuliani added: "There has to be a full and complete investigation, with at least as much enthusiasm as this one, to figure out where did this charge emanate, who started it, who paid for it.The former New York mayor specifically called out one of Trumps most vocal critics, Rep. Adam Schiff, asking the California lawmaker where the evidence of collusion is that Schiff has said he has.Where is Schiffs evidence? Giuliani asked. Where is it? In his head?CLICK TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPEarlier in the day, Schiff the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said that despite Mueller handing in the report on Friday without any recommendations for new indictments, that doesn't mean "there isn't compelling and incriminating evidence that should be shared with the American people."VideoSpeaking on ABCs This Week, Schiff said his committee wants the full report and the underlying materials made public and will head to court to compel Barr to release them. He says the intelligence committee has an obligation to determine whether the president is compromised in any way, whether criminal or not.Trump has maintained since the announcement of the special counsels investigation that he never colluded with Russia during the 2016 campaign. He has long decried the probe as a "witch hunt" while attacking the FBI figures who launched the original Russia probe that was eventually taken over by Mueller in 2017. He and his allies have also questioned what role the unverified and salacious anti-Trump "dossier" played in the probe's beginnings.While Barrs letter on the special counsels report says that Mueller found no evidence of coordination with Russia, it did not make a determination on whether Trump committed obstruction of justice in the Russia probe. Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein determined that evidence gathered by Mueller was insufficient on that front.
source: www.foxnews.com

Author(s): Andrew O'Reilly

25 Mar 19

Parent who paid $6.5 million in college admissions scandal remains a mystery

As the college admissions scandal has unfolded, sweeping up dozens of wealthy parents and celebrities, there still remains a $6.5 million unanswered question. Federal prosecutors have laid out in their allegations how the scheme worked and often the amount of money that changed hands. Bruce and Davina Isackson of Hillsborough are accused of paying more than $600,000 to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles. The couple allegedly put down $250,000 in Facebook stock as part of their payment. RELATED: Club soccer coach disputes 'Varsity Blues' UCLA student from Hillsborough played on his team But even with dozens of indictments including celebrities Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, one parent has managed to stay a mystery. Prosecutors have routinely referred to someone who paid $6.5 million to get a child or children into elite schools. The person has not been identified in court documents nor are the colleges that were involved. RELATED: Operation Varsity Blues: Who is involved So far the allegations have stated around $25 million in bribes were paid to get children into some of the best schools in the country. Besides USC and UCLA, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, Duke, and Wake Forest were some of the schools the scheme either tried to get students into or were successful in getting them admitted. At least 14 of the people charged in the scandal are scheduled to appear in federal court in Boston on Monday. The architect of the scheme, William "Rick" Singer, already pleaded guilty. Stanford fired sailing coach John Vandemoer after he pleaded guilty, admitting to taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. See more stories and videos related to Operation Varsity Blues.
source: abc7news.com

Author(s): Kgo

25 Mar 19

Wife of missing Interpol chief seeks Macrons help during Xi visit | One America News Network

The wife of the missing Chinese former head of Interpol said she had written to French President Emmanuel Macron to ask for his help on the eve of a visit by his counterpart Xi Jinping.Grace Meng told France 24 she had not heard from her husband Meng Hongwei since he travelled to China from France, where Interpol is based, in late September. China has said it is investigating Meng for wrongdoing.I hope the president can help Mr Meng and his family, to protect our fundamental human rights, Grace Meng said in the interview broadcast on Sunday evening.Chinas foreign ministry declined to comment.Frances Agence France Presse said Grace Meng wrote to Macron on March 21.Mengs wife, who has remained in Lyon with the couples two children, said she feared the Chinese authorities wanted to kidnap her family.They have no bottom-line. Even if I am in France, they want to kidnap me and my children.Meng, 65, was appointed president of the global police cooperation agency in late 2016, part of a broader Chinese effort to gain leadership positions in key international organizations.Under Xi, China has been engaged in a sweeping crackdown on official corruption. Chinese authorities said several days after Mengs arrest that the vice minister was being investigated for bribery.Macron hosted Xi at a private dinner on the French Riviera on Sunday night, ahead of a working meeting in Paris on Monday.Grace Meng said her husband was devoted to the motherland.He was well-known for his reformist views, she said in the interview.
source: www.oann.com

25 Mar 19

And Now the Mueller Backlash Begins

delivered under blue skies on a Sunday afternoon: resounding vindication from the former FBI director whom Donald Trump at one point reportedly considered firing. The U.S. president did not collude with the Russians to get himself elected in 2016, said the letter sent to Congress by Attorney General William Barr.The question of whether Trump obstructed justice to derail the probe into collusion allegations was somewhat more hedged in the letter Barr sent to key members of the Senate and House judiciary committees, summing up the long-awaited report delivered Friday by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Barr wrote that Mueller did not draw a conclusionone way or the otheras to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction. Barr said that, according to Mueller, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.The issue of obstruction of justice has hung on several Trump actions since the allegations of collusion first arose, including the presidents firing of then-FBI Director James Comey in May 2017 after Trump allegedly asked Comey to go easy on his former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, about the latters lies to the FBI regarding his conversations with a Russian official.But on the main issue that prompted the Mueller probe, Barr was unequivocal in saying there is no evidence that Trump or anyone associated with his presidential campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.The bottom line is that in spite of lingering doubts about the presidents conduct there will be no prosecutionand far less chance of impeachmenton the chief allegations that have haunted Trump since his inauguration. And Trump, who has made No collusion! almost as much his mantra in the last two years as Make America Great Again, can now focus his considerable talent for retribution on his Democratic enemies as he bids for re-election. After 22 months and at least $25 million spent on an investigation that Trump has repeatedly called a witch hunt, and which yielded next to nothing on him personally, he now has a more credible case.No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT! Trump tweeted after the Barr letter was made public.In a statement, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said: Today marks the day that President Trump has been completely and fully vindicated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, exposing the Russia collusion conspiracy theory for the sham that it always was and catching Democrats in an elaborate web of lies and deceit. Even so, five key former associates of Trump, including Flynn, his former national security advisor; his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort; and his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, have pleaded guilty to various charges in the Mueller probe, including lying to the FBI or Congress about their contacts with Russians or their representations of Trumps business interests in Russia.Before the Mueller report came out, at least one national poll indicated that many voters agreed with Trump that the investigation was a witch hunt; Sundays revelations will no doubt provoke a further backlash. Thus perhaps the real question going into the 2020 election is how the Democrats will react. Even before the Mueller report summary came out, it was clear that they were divided and are likely to remain so. On March 11, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the Washington Post that she opposed impeachment, saying Trump was just not worth the divisiveness that the country would suffer from that effort.But some younger members of the Housewhich would decide whether to impeachstill havent given up hope, and newly empowered committee chairs, including Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, immediately indicated that they were far from satisfied with Barrs letter and would insist on examining the full Mueller report. Nadler said he wanted to hear testimony from Barr and Mueller in hopes of firming up what the former FBI director really thought about the obstruction charges and whether the attorney general accurately reflected Muellers conclusions.In light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report, where Mueller did not exonerate the President, we will be calling Attorney General Barr in to testify before [the House Judiciary Committee] in the near future, Nadler tweeted.READ MOREThe Mueller Report Is a Test for the United StatesAs the world looks on, its up to Washington to demonstrate the strength of its institutions.SHADOW GOVERNMENT | DANIEL B. BAERSome Democratic strategists pointed out that the emerging 2020 field has already been steering away from making the campaign all about Trump and his alleged transgressions against the law. I think we should get the report and analyze what it actually says, given that there are and should be significant concerns about Barrs impartiality, said Neera Tanden, the president of the Center for American Progress. But she argued that most successful Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterms, and the current declared presidential contenders, have not been hanging their campaigns on impeachment. That consideration has always been one that is inside Washington. Theyre out there talking about their plans for the future and not simply an indictment of Trump, she said.Nonetheless, several 2020 candidates on Sunday, including Sens. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, called for the full Mueller report to be made public.In a joint statement, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer demanded the same thing, saying that Barr had demonstrated a record of bias against the Mueller probe and his letter raises as many questions as it answers. The fact that Special Counsel Muellers report does not exonerate the president on a charge as serious as obstruction of justice demonstrates how urgent it is that the full report and underlying documentation be made public without any further delay.Trump is hardly in the clear, and it may yet prove that Stormy Daniels, the porn star whom Trump allegedly had paid to keep quiet about their tryst just before the 2016 election, ends up doing more damage to Trump than Mueller does. Following an FBI raid of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohens office in April 2018, prompted in part by an investigation into those hush payments, the Southern District of New York is looking into an array of issues connected with the president and his business, the Trump Organization. Cohen has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about efforts to construct a Trump tower in Moscow and told a congressional committee late last month that he acted in accordance with what he believed Trumps wishes were.During that testimony before the House Oversight Committee, Cohen said he believed that prosecutors were also looking into his communications with Trump and Trumps representatives following the FBI raid of Cohens office, which could also raise suspicions of obstruction of justice. The Southern District of New York has not commented on those allegations.According to Barrs letter, the Mueller investigation concluded that there were two main Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election. The first involved attempts by a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), to conduct disinformation and social media operations in the United States designed to sow social discord, eventually with the aim of interfering with the election.But the special counsel did not find that any U.S. person or Trump campaign official or associate conspired or knowingly coordinated with the IRA in its efforts, Barr wrote. He said the second effort involved the Russian governments efforts to conduct computer hacking operations designed to gather and disseminate information to influence the election. But here too, according to the attorney general, Mueller did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts.Even so, Democrats who have been waiting for Mueller to deliver his report believe too many questions remain unanswered. Some criticized Barrs statement that Muellers decision to describe the facts of his obstruction investigation without reaching any legal conclusions leaves it to the Attorney General to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime. Barr apparently concluded, after just a 48-hour review and without interviewing the president, that the evidence developed during the Special Counsels investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.Nadler later tweeted: Special Counsel Mueller worked for 22 months to determine the extent to which President Trump obstructed justice. Attorney General Barr took 2 days to tell the American people that while the President is not exonerated, there will be no action by DOJ.Barr added that the determination made by him and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was not influenced by constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president.
source: foreignpolicy.com

Author(s): Michael Hirsh

25 Mar 19

Report submitted, Robert Mueller ends Russia investigation in silence

The end of a sprawling investigation that has riveted the nation usually calls for a news conference from the person in charge, but Robert S. Mueller III chose a different approach Friday.The special counsel sent a security officer to the Justice Department to deliver his long-awaited final report on the Russia case, then joined his wife and another couple for a quiet dinner in a favorite neighborhood restaurant.With no photographers or TV cameras in sight, they sat in a secluded booth as cable news and social media exploded with speculation and accusations.It was a fitting conclusion for the man whose tenure as the least talkative yet most talked-about public figure in Washington is drawing to a close.Mueller, 74, is expected to step down as special counsel in the coming days, and only a skeleton crew is left in the office at this point. His report, which remains confidential for now, caps nearly two years of investigating Russian political interference, any potential conspiracy with Donald Trumps campaign and whether the president obstructed justice.During that time, Mueller was practically a ghost. Sometimes a snapshot would emerge of him sitting down at an Apple store, or coincidentally waiting for a flight at the same airport gate as Donald Trump Jr.The biggest indictments, guilty pleas and dramas in the Russia investigationMAR 24, 2019 | 1:40 PMOtherwise he was at most a blurry figure, captured behind his car window as he pulled up to the special counsels office in the early mornings. His name often appeared at the bottom of indictments and court filings all told, 34 people were charged but his subordinates did the talking during courtroom proceedings.Muellers only public comment has been a single sentence, when he was appointed as special counsel nearly two years ago in May 2017, and the statement was as plain as the white shirts that hes made his official uniform."I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability," Mueller said.He issued no statement on Friday when he submitted his report.Trump often raged at Muellers work, repeatedly calling the Russia investigation a witch hunt and describing him as a conflicted prosecutor gone rogue. But even the president, a former reality television star, would likely give his chief antagonist one of his favorite compliments that Mueller was from central casting.Muellers history of public service, reticence and rectitude provided a sharp contrast to Trumps life of tabloid shenanigans, bombast and garish wealth.A Princeton University graduate, Mueller volunteered for the Marines and served as an infantry officer in the Vietnam War, receiving a Bronze Star for valor and a Purple Heart after being shot in the leg.He became a federal prosecutor after the war and rose through the ranks at the Justice Department. Eventually he served for a dozen years as FBI director under presidents of both parties, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, after Obama and Congress agreed to a special law to extend Muellers term beyond the 10-year limit.Mueller was working in private practice when Trump fired his successor as FBI director, James B. Comey, on May 9, 2017. In a move to preserve the independence of the Russia investigation, Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller to serve as special counsel.President Trump speaks to the media as he leaves the White House bound for his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on March 22. (Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA/Shutterstock)Since then, Muellers silence has been the counterweight to Trumps blizzard of Twitter screeds, and the special counsels office earned a reputation as the rare leak-proof operation in Washington.Muellers reserve was also a marked shift from two of the highest profile special prosecutors of the past generation Lawrence E. Walsh, who spent seven years examining the Iran-Contra scandal of the Reagan administration, and Kenneth W. Starr, whose investigation of Bill Clinton and his White House lasted four years.Starr talked publicly about his work, at one point holding a widely televised, impromptu news conference at the end of his suburban Washington driveway.Clinton allies accused Starrs prosecutors, who included Brett M. Kavanaugh, now a Supreme Court justice, of routinely leaking secret grand jury testimony in an effort to force the president to resign. The investigation ultimately led the House to impeach Clinton, who was then acquitted by the Senate.Starr consistently denied any improper actions. But in 1998, as the Clinton impeachment proceedings were taking place, U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson ruled that members of his staff had engaged in "serious and repetitive violations of grand jury secrecy rules. Johnson threatened contempt proceedings against Starr staffers in one case, but an appeals court overturned that portion of her order, ruling that she had applied too strict a standard and that the way Starrs staff dealt with the press was troubling but not illegal.A special master who investigated the leak allegations wrote a report of his findings that was never released and remains under seal.In a recent CNN interview, Starr defended his public comments about the case and said he thought Muellers approach in declining to talk publicly was not wise."I just have a different perspective, Starr said. "I think it's important to provide public information that's appropriate."Kennetth Starr is swarmed by the media in 1998 while investigating President Bill Clinton, a scene that hasn't been repeated by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. (Ken Cedeno / Knight-Ridder Tribune)Walsh investigated the Iran-Contra scandal, in which Reagan administration officials facilitated the sale of arms to Iran to fund the right-wing Nicaraguan rebel group known as Contras at a time when U.S support for the rebels was forbidden by law. Walsh ultimately indicted 14 people, winning 11 convictions.Several of the convictions were overturned on appeal. And at the end of his presidency, George H.W. Bush, who was vice president at the time the scandal unfolded, pardoned the rest of those convicted, including the secretary of Defense at the time of the scandal, Caspar Weinberger.Walsh, whose investigation was ongoing at that point, publicly criticized Bush for his action, holding a news conference in which he said that "the Iran-Contra cover-up, which has continued for more than six years, has now been completed.In his final news conference several months later, at which Walsh released a 566-page report and 785 pages of supporting documents, he said Bush and other Reagan administration officials had thwarted his investigation.Reagan, in a statement at the time, said Walsh had become "vindictive" and had "used his office to harass individuals and otherwise to damage the lives of the persons he was given license to investigate.Both Walsh and Starr served under an independent counsel statute that expired in 1999. That statute gave them more freedom than Mueller, who is supervised by the Justice Department, headed by Trump appointees.Congress demands to see the entire Mueller report, and may subpoena special counselMAR 22, 2019 | 4:50 PMBut Muellers tight-lipped approach still stands out in a city packed with people of supersized egos and camera-ready ambitions.Its unclear whether Mueller will be able to maintain his silence in the coming weeks and months.Atty. Gen. William Barr is expected to provide Congress with a summary of the special counsels conclusions as soon as this weekend, but thats unlikely to satisfy House Democrats who are eager for a more complete and public picture. Some have already talked about bringing Mueller to Capitol Hill to testify.Muellers restraint undoubtedly helped inoculate him from some criticism from Trumps allies, who were quick to criticize any whiff of political bias from investigators. They mostly targeted secondary figures instead, perhaps a recognition that they were unlikely to tarnish the special counsel himself.House Republicans focused their ire on Peter Strzok, a former FBI agent, and Lisa Page, a former FBI lawyer, who exchanged anti-Trump text messages while working at the agency during the 2016 campaign.Mueller removed Strzok from the special counsels office when the messages came to light, but critics said Strzoks involvement tainted the probe.Trumps lawyer, former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, focused on Muellers prosecutors, particularly top deputy Andrew Weissmann. Giuliani described Weissmann as a complete scoundrel in a CNN interview last summer.Mueller himself managed to win some unlikely praise from the presidents camp, including from Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Jared Kushner, Trumps son-in-law and White House advisor.During a recent panel discussion, Lowell said, "I don't know of a special counsel who's done it better.
source: www.latimes.com

Author(s): Chris Megerian; David Lauter

25 Mar 19

Ex-CIA Chief: Dems Shouldn't Retry Mueller's Case

On Sunday, Attorney General William Barr released a summary of the conclusions of special counsel Robert Mueller, after a nearly two-year investigation into Russias interference in the 2016 election. To make sense of it all, OZY brings you voices from different sides of the debate. Here is John McLaughlin, former CIA deputy director and OZY columnist.WHAT QUESTIONS DID THE BARR SUMMARY ANSWER FOR YOU, AND WHAT IS STILL MISSING?Assuming the summary is correct, we learned that Mueller did not find conclusive evidence that anyone in the campaign or Trump himself cooperated with the Russians in their covert action operation to favor Trump and to influence and divide American voters. We also learned that Mueller could not come to a conclusion about whether the president obstructed justice he neither accused him nor exonerated him and that the attorney general has decided, in consultation with his deputy, that Muellers evidence does not support a judgment of obstruction.What we dont know is all of the detail behind these judgments. For example, what were the motives of so many people in the Trump campaign in having close to 100 contacts with Russian individuals in the political and business world? Why did many of them lie about these contacts? Was the problem in making a judgment about obstruction that the evidence was too thin on the issue of intent, which is apparently crucial to arriving at a judgment that obstruction occurred?THE MEDIA HAS TO BE CAREFUL TO NOT KEEP TRYING TO PROVE THE COLLUSION CASE AFTER LIONIZING MUELLER ALL THESE MONTHS AS THE NATIONS PRIMARY TRUTH TELLER.WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS FOR CONGRESS?Congressional Democrats have already insisted on seeing the entire text of the Mueller report, and I believe they are certain to insist that Mueller and Attorney General Barr testify, even if they must be subpoenaed. I believe they will testify voluntarily. Meanwhile, the intelligence committees in both houses and the judiciary committees have investigations underway on many aspects of the Russian interference and the presidents behavior.I may be in the minority, but I think congressional Democrats will make a big political mistake if they dive down the rabbit hole of trying to relitigate Muellers report, attempting to prove what he apparently was reluctant to conclude. House Speaker Pelosi has ruled out impeachment without a very powerful case and bipartisan consensus. This report makes it near impossible to bring the Republicans along unless other investigations turn up something unassailably damning.Trumps opponents may find some profit in keeping alive the collusion and obstruction issues, but in my view they now need to focus on his performance as president and on who he has revealed himself to be. He is still the man who questioned Barack Obamas birthplace, who failed to deliver on healthcare, who falsely promised that Mexico would pay for a wall on our southern border, who mocked a disabled journalist, and who lies routinely, calls opponents schoolyard names, insults allies, continues to attack a dead war hero (John McCain) and who was favored by the Russians in our last election. All pretty good campaign material.SHOULD OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE BE ENOUGH TO INDICT A SITTING PRESIDENT?In my opinion, yes. But the bar would have to be very, very high, and based on this summary revealed today it appears Mueller did not think it was high enough. I recall discussing standards for evidence with Mueller when we were in government together, and he has a very high bar for what is provable. The argument will go on, but I strongly suspect that judgment will stand when all is said and done.HOW MUCH OF MUELLERS FINDINGS DO YOU EXPECT WILL BE CLASSIFIED?It may be that Muellers team has already written an unclassified version of the report. That is fairly common in situations like this. If they have not and if the report has to be declassified, they will probably take out only the minimum required to respect laws concerning privacy and intelligence sources and methods used to obtain some of the data. Without seeing the report its impossible to estimate what proportion of the text that might affect.DID THE MEDIA AND THE PUBLIC OVERSTEP IN MAKING COLLUSION CONNECTIONS?Some in the media did, but frankly, the presidents own behavior, such as publicly inviting the Russians to find and reveal Hillary Clintons emails, invited such speculation. So did the famous Trump Tower meeting when a number of officials from the Trump family and campaign met with a Russian lawyer and others supposedly delivering dirt on Clinton. Add in Trumps favoring Putins word on election interference over the clear evidence provided by the intelligence community, and it wouldve been hard for the media to avoid speculation about collusion.Now that Mueller has rendered his judgment, however, the media has to be careful to not keep trying to prove the collusion case after lionizing Mueller all these months as the nations primary truth teller. That will look like sour grapes. And you can count on Trump weaponizing this report. If you were tired of hearing him say no collusion before, too bad; you are going to hear it over and over again, even louder and more insistently.Special counsel Muellers mandate did not include investigating for stupidity and navet. In the end, those may be the explanations for much of the suspicious activity that has taken place during the last campaign and the first two years of the Trump presidency. Stupidity and navet in not recognizing the bait that Russia was throwing out and not immediately reporting Russian approaches to the FBI as more experienced politicians would know to do.WHAT DOES THIS REPORT MEAN FOR RUSSIA AND VLADIMIR PUTIN? U.S.-RUSSIAN RELATIONS? HOW WILL RUSSIANS REACT TO THIS NEWS GENERALLY?Russians will love parts of this report. They wont like what Mueller says about their interference in the election, and they will continue to deny this. And they will use the no collusion piece of it to bolster their argument, saying this shows they were not interfering and that this was fake news. They will mash all of this together to claim innocence and are likely to try driving the point home with continued efforts to manipulate social media that reaches the American audience.WILL THE NO-EVIDENCE RULING ON COLLUSION CHANGE TRUMPS STANDING ON THE WORLD STAGE?I doubt it. His low standing comes not from this but from having withdrawn from so many international forums, such as the climate change agreement, Iran nuclear accord and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. And from insulting so many of our allies, questioning the worth of our alliances.WHAT DO YOU SUSPECT IS NEXT FOR ROBERT MUELLER?I dont know, but I suspect he will return to his Washington law firm, WilmerHale. But he is certain to be called upon to speak publicly, especially in congressional testimony, about the conclusions he came to, the process he used and the reasons behind his judgments.
source: www.ozy.com

Author(s): John McLaughlin

25 Mar 19

Supreme Court to hear gerrymandering cases against Democrats, Republicans

When state legislatures draw the boundary lines for voting districts, the majority party typically comes up with a map designed to keep itself in power. But can that become so blatantly political that it violates the Constitution? And how can the courts tell how much partisanship in politics is too much?The U.S. Supreme Court takes up those questions Tuesday, returning to an issue that the justices have so far found impossible to answer. Political reformers hope the court will issue a ruling that could change the future of American politics, by allowing voting districts to become more competitive.The court hears two challenges to redrawn boundaries for congressional districts that gave an advantage to the party in power Republicans in North Carolina and Democrats in Maryland. In both cases, groups of voters sued and lower courts declared the maps to be unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders.After the 2010 census, North Carolina's legislature drew a new district map, but a federal court threw it out, finding that it put racial minorities at a disadvantage. In 2016, the legislature came up with a revised plan and declared that politics, not race, was the guiding factor the second time around.RelatedPOLITICSThey're Still Drawing Crazy-Looking Districts. Can't It Be Stopped?The committee designing the revision freely admitted that it was intended to maintain the partisan breakdown of the state's congressional delegation ten Republicans and three Democrats. One state representative, asked why the legislature wanted to preserve that ratio, joked, "because I do not believe it's possible to draw a map with eleven Republicans and two Democrats."In Maryland, Republican voters challenged the redrawing of Maryland's 6th Congressional District in 2011, which allowed Democrats to take over a seat in the US House that Republican Roscoe Bartlett held for two decades. He had been re-elected in 2010 by a 28 percent margin. After the redistricting, he lost by 21 percent.Democrat Martin O'Malley, Maryland's governor at the time, made no secret of the motive behind the new map. The intent was to "create a district where the people would be more likely to elect a Democrat than a Republican."O'Malley: 'very much in favor' of doing away with gerrymanderingMARCH 28, 201804:29Confronted with similar challenges in the past, the Supreme Court concluded that because redistricting is essentially a partisan political act, it would be impossible for the courts to know when gerrymandering became unconstitutional. In 2004, the court rejected a claim that a Pennsylvania gerrymander was too partisan, though Justice Anthony Kennedy indicated then such a lawsuit might succeed if the right kind of proof came along.During its last term, the court again dodged the partisan gerrymandering question, citing procedural shortcomings in cases from Wisconsin and Maryland. This time, the issue is presented more directly. But with Kennedy gone, replaced by the more conservative Brett Kavanaugh, it's likely the Supreme Court will conclude that this is a political matter for state legislatures to resolve, not the courts.RecommendedPOLITICSMany questions surround Mueller's handling of the obstruction of justice issuePOLITICSMueller delivers a 'gift' to Trump for 2020 electionOne problem is coming up with a legal test for determining when there's too much partisanship at work. The challengers in the North Carolina case say it's not that hard. They say the line is crossed when a state targets minority party voters by spreading them out among districts where they cannot form a majority and jamming the remaining ones together to minimize the number of districts they can win.That view is supported by 40 current and former members of the U.S. House of Representatives, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. "Artificially drawn 'safe' districts tend to make general elections less competitive and give party insiders, or small groups of 'base' primary voters, much greater influence than the general electorate." As a result, they say in a friend of court brief, Congress becomes less able to compromise or govern effectively.But Republican legislators in North Carolina say this is not an issue for judges. "The time has come for this court to make clear that the Constitution does not provide courts with the tools or the responsibility to say how much partisan motivation is too much," they say in their court filings.The Supreme Court will issue its decision by late June.
source: www.nbcnews.com

Author(s): Pete Williams

25 Mar 19

The Hunt for the Red Nothing Burger

"President Trump's campaign did not conspire with Russia during the 2016 election, according to a summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report submitted to Congress on Sunday," reported the BBC. NPR adds:"The Special Counsel's investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russian in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election," Barr writes in his letter to leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees delivered Sunday afternoon.Mueller made a considerable effort: employing 19 lawyers and 40 FBI agents, issuing 2,800 subpoenas, 500 search warrants, 230 communications orders, 50 orders for pen registers, 13 requests to foreign governments for evincing, and interviewing 500 witnesses yet ultimately finding n0 collusion. Mueller assiduously prosecuted what was presented as a definite contact. Yet after the equivalent of a destroyer captain carrying out numerous active sonar searches, MAD detection sweeps, and a bottom search he found nothing.But a negative result isn't a total waste. It shows what is not there. While Mueller brought indictments for the ordinary kind of Washington crime against several persons, he found no collusion. Like a patient who after a battery of tests finds he has acid reflux and ulcers but no stomach cancer, a negative result is full of information. The taxpayer paid a lot of money for the equivalent of Mueller's tests and while not everyone may like the negative result, there it is. The rational thing for the Democrats to do is find a good candidate to oppose Trump in 2020 -- or they can keep investing money in finding the phantom sub but with little objective hope of finding it.Perhaps the most damaging legacy of the 2016 campaign was the Steele dossier. Its authors created their own MacGuffin. They launched their own decoy then fired all their warshots on the noisemaker of their own device. Now all tubes are expended and the sonarman reports "torpedo circling back." Ironically it's the Democrats, not the Republicans, who should be most outraged at the dossier. How the devil did they fire all available tubes at a nothing burger?
source: pjmedia.com

Author(s): Richard Fernandez March 24, 2019

25 Mar 19

Why the silence around the scandal threatening Justin Trudeau? | Jack Bernhardt

t must be great being Canadian. Instead of Greggs, theyve got Tim Hortons. Instead of the cartoonist Matt, theyve got Kate Beaton. Instead of an economy on the edge of a cliff edge and the prospect of mass chaos, theyve got moose. And best of all, instead of a malfunctioning robot who veers between doing impressions of insurance-obsessed mongooses and Mussolini, theyve got Justin Trudeau! Perfect, beautiful Justin Trudeau, the woke Ken doll of the G8 who last week apologised for eating a chocolate bar in the Canadian parliament! What a little scamp! While we have to deal with warring MPs and a failing democracy, the worst scandal the Canadians have to deal with is over a Twix! Justin Trudeaus disgrace is like watching a unicorn get run overLeah McLaren Read moreOh, and a huge corruption case that threatens to bring down the prime minister, the government and one of the biggest contractors in the country.If you actually look at Canadian politics, and try to ignore the UK medias perception of Justin Trudeau they see him as a Calvin Klein model whos pretty good at Sporcle quizzes a darker picture emerges. In February the Canadian attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, quit her post after allegations that she was improperly pressured into dropping charges against SNC-Lavalin, a major Canadian engineering firm. A string of resignations followed including former cabinet minister Jane Philpott, who said last Thursday that there was much more to be told on the scandal, with the implication that Trudeau himself had personally lobbied the attorney general to drop the case.As Canadian stories go, its steamier and meatier than a bucket of poutine but at the time of writing the only reference to the scandal (or indeed any Canadian politics) on the front page of the BBC US & Canada section is a video of Trudeau apologising for the incident I will henceforth refer to as Chocogate. I understand why Chocogate was a popular story, as it combines two of Canadas greatest loves chocolate and apologising but really it seems like the BBC has buried the lede. Its like reporting the assassination of Abraham Lincoln with the headline Mrs Lincolns enjoyment of Mars bar ruined by nearby gunshot.Part of this is to do with Trudeaus own handling of the media: he uses them in a similarly cynical way to Donald Trump or Theresa May. Thats not to say hes as bad or as dangerous indeed, no MP in Canada has said theyve received death threats because of the way Trudeau ate a Caramac but he can distract the media just as effectively. What Trump does through outrage and May does through abject fascinating incompetence, Trudeau does through charm, and its a charm that works best on the outside world.Sign up to the Media Briefing: news for the news-makers Read moreIm not suggesting this is some big cover-up a global conspiracy to make sure that Justin Trudeau is remembered as the guy with silly socks rather than a corrupt politician who bullies his cabinet on behalf of big business. Its more that, in the UK, Canada and, indeed, most other countries doesnt seem to be worth talking about, unless were using it to compare with ourselves. Since 2016 Trudeau has been one of the go-to good guys, held up as the perfect political antidote to everything that is wrong with our own politicians. While Michael Gove was doing down experts, Trudeau was explaining quantum computing in a painfully staged press conference. While Donald Trump refused to visit a cemetery because of a few showers, Trudeau was giving a speech without an umbrella. While Boris Johnson was, well, being Boris Johnson, Trudeau was declaring himself a feminist and promoting women to key positions in his cabinet.Canada gets lazily portrayed as a utopia with perfect politics because flaws arent useful to the narrative. Canada exists in our imagination only through a series of superficial, shareable videos of Trudeau hugging pandas, just so we can look at them and complain that our prime minister never hugs a panda. The upshot of this means that when serious allegations emerge, we ignore them because if we have to engage with them, it shatters our simplistic concepts of Good Politics (Obama! John Oliver! That Gillette Advert!) and Bad Politics (Brexit! Trump! That Pepsi Advert!).'He's not a bad person, but ' scandal-hit Justin Trudeau turns voters off Read moreIts a trend we tend to repeat with global stories look at the binary attitude some remainers have towards Emmanuel Macron or Angela Merkel, extolling their virtues while ignoring the formers brutal austerity policies, or the latters startling political decline. New Zealands prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has been rightly praised for her response to the Christchurch terrorist attack, but the instinct of the media has still been to compare her actions to our own leaders, rather than to analyse what she did right on her own terms.Theres a danger that we dont see other countries and other leaders as anything other than funhouse mirrors to reflect ourselves distorting stereotypes and eradicating nuance to define our own identity, a kind of British and American exceptionalism that appears deferential to other countries but is actually oddly insulting.At times like these, its tempting to cherrypick the best aspects of the politicians of the rest of the world and build a Frankenstein prime minister the cheekbones of Justin Trudeau, the tech-savviness of Emmanuel Macron, the dancing ability of anyone but Theresa May. But the real world doesnt work like that. Life isnt a stage-managed photoshoot. There are always bigger scandals than chocolate. Jack Bernhardt is a comedy writer and occasional performer
source: www.theguardian.com

Author(s): Jack Bernhardt

25 Mar 19

Privacy group sues DOJ for public release of Mueller report True Pundit

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a lawsuit on Friday to obtain special counsel Robert Muellers final report on his investigation into possible obstruction of justice by President Trump and possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.The privacy group filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act(FOIA) against the Justice Department to acquire the reports nonexempt findings, stating that the information in Muellers report was of overwhelming public interest.The public has a right to know the full scope of Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election and whether the President of the United States played any role in such interference, EPIC said in its lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.The public also has a right to know whether the President unlawfully obstructed any investigation into Russian election interference or related matters, the group added. The requested records are vital to the publics understanding of these issues and to the integrity of the political system of the United States. read more
source: truepundit.com

Author(s): admin

25 Mar 19

Mueller Is Done. Now Probe the Real Scandal

Attorney General William Barr has reported to Congress that special counsel Robert Mueller has cleared President Trump and his campaign team of claims of conspiring with Russia during the 2016 election. This is more than an exoneration. Its a searing indictment of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as a reminder of the need to know the story behind the bureaus corrosive investigation.
source: www.wsj.com

Author(s): Kimberley A. Strassel

25 Mar 19

Trump team turns tables after Mueller report, calls for investigation into probe's origin

President Trump and his legal team declared total victory Sunday following the release of Special Counsel Robert Muellers key findings -- including no evidence of collusion with Russia during the 2016 campaign -- but sought to turn the tables by renewing calls to investigate the investigators.Trump himself slammed the probe as an illegal takedown, as he called Muellers report a complete exoneration and said it was a shame his presidency had to deal with the investigation for two years.Hopefully somebody is going to look at the other side, Trump said. This was an illegal takedown that failed and hopefully somebody is going to be looking at the other side.READ THE FULL LETTERIn case it wasn't clear what he meant, Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani told Fox News an investigation should be launched into how the investigation began.He was being investigated for a crime that never happened, Giuliani said. There was never any collusion.VideoGiuliani added: "There has to be a full and complete investigation, with at least as much enthusiasm as this one, to figure out where did this charge emanate, who started it, who paid for it.The former New York mayor specifically called out one of Trumps most vocal critics, Rep. Adam Schiff, asking the California lawmaker where the evidence of collusion is that Schiff has said he has.Where is Schiffs evidence? Giuliani asked. Where is it? In his head?CLICK TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPEarlier in the day, Schiff the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said that despite Mueller handing in the report on Friday without any recommendations for new indictments, that doesn't mean "there isn't compelling and incriminating evidence that should be shared with the American people."VideoSpeaking on ABCs This Week, Schiff said his committee wants the full report and the underlying materials made public and will head to court to compel Barr to release them. He says the intelligence committee has an obligation to determine whether the president is compromised in any way, whether criminal or not.Trump has maintained since the announcement of the special counsels investigation that he never colluded with Russia during the 2016 campaign. He has long decried the probe as a "witch hunt" while attacking the FBI figures who launched the original Russia probe that was eventually taken over by Mueller in 2017. He and his allies have also questioned what role the unverified and salacious anti-Trump "dossier" played in the probe's beginnings.While Barrs letter on the special counsels report says that Mueller found no evidence of coordination with Russia, it did not make a determination on whether Trump committed obstruction of justice in the Russia probe. Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein determined that evidence gathered by Mueller was insufficient on that front.
source: www.foxnews.com

Author(s): Andrew O'Reilly

25 Mar 19

Parent who paid $6.5 million in college admissions scandal remains a mystery

As the college admissions scandal has unfolded, sweeping up dozens of wealthy parents and celebrities, there still remains a $6.5 million unanswered question. Federal prosecutors have laid out in their allegations how the scheme worked and often the amount of money that changed hands. Bruce and Davina Isackson of Hillsborough are accused of paying more than $600,000 to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles. The couple allegedly put down $250,000 in Facebook stock as part of their payment. RELATED: Club soccer coach disputes 'Varsity Blues' UCLA student from Hillsborough played on his team But even with dozens of indictments including celebrities Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, one parent has managed to stay a mystery. Prosecutors have routinely referred to someone who paid $6.5 million to get a child or children into elite schools. The person has not been identified in court documents nor are the colleges that were involved. RELATED: Operation Varsity Blues: Who is involved So far the allegations have stated around $25 million in bribes were paid to get children into some of the best schools in the country. Besides USC and UCLA, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, Duke, and Wake Forest were some of the schools the scheme either tried to get students into or were successful in getting them admitted. At least 14 of the people charged in the scandal are scheduled to appear in federal court in Boston on Monday. The architect of the scheme, William "Rick" Singer, already pleaded guilty. Stanford fired sailing coach John Vandemoer after he pleaded guilty, admitting to taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. See more stories and videos related to Operation Varsity Blues.
source: abc7news.com

Author(s): Kgo

25 Mar 19

Wife of missing Interpol chief seeks Macrons help during Xi visit | One America News Network

The wife of the missing Chinese former head of Interpol said she had written to French President Emmanuel Macron to ask for his help on the eve of a visit by his counterpart Xi Jinping.Grace Meng told France 24 she had not heard from her husband Meng Hongwei since he travelled to China from France, where Interpol is based, in late September. China has said it is investigating Meng for wrongdoing.I hope the president can help Mr Meng and his family, to protect our fundamental human rights, Grace Meng said in the interview broadcast on Sunday evening.Chinas foreign ministry declined to comment.Frances Agence France Presse said Grace Meng wrote to Macron on March 21.Mengs wife, who has remained in Lyon with the couples two children, said she feared the Chinese authorities wanted to kidnap her family.They have no bottom-line. Even if I am in France, they want to kidnap me and my children.Meng, 65, was appointed president of the global police cooperation agency in late 2016, part of a broader Chinese effort to gain leadership positions in key international organizations.Under Xi, China has been engaged in a sweeping crackdown on official corruption. Chinese authorities said several days after Mengs arrest that the vice minister was being investigated for bribery.Macron hosted Xi at a private dinner on the French Riviera on Sunday night, ahead of a working meeting in Paris on Monday.Grace Meng said her husband was devoted to the motherland.He was well-known for his reformist views, she said in the interview.
source: www.oann.com

25 Mar 19

And Now the Mueller Backlash Begins

delivered under blue skies on a Sunday afternoon: resounding vindication from the former FBI director whom Donald Trump at one point reportedly considered firing. The U.S. president did not collude with the Russians to get himself elected in 2016, said the letter sent to Congress by Attorney General William Barr.The question of whether Trump obstructed justice to derail the probe into collusion allegations was somewhat more hedged in the letter Barr sent to key members of the Senate and House judiciary committees, summing up the long-awaited report delivered Friday by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Barr wrote that Mueller did not draw a conclusionone way or the otheras to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction. Barr said that, according to Mueller, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.The issue of obstruction of justice has hung on several Trump actions since the allegations of collusion first arose, including the presidents firing of then-FBI Director James Comey in May 2017 after Trump allegedly asked Comey to go easy on his former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, about the latters lies to the FBI regarding his conversations with a Russian official.But on the main issue that prompted the Mueller probe, Barr was unequivocal in saying there is no evidence that Trump or anyone associated with his presidential campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.The bottom line is that in spite of lingering doubts about the presidents conduct there will be no prosecutionand far less chance of impeachmenton the chief allegations that have haunted Trump since his inauguration. And Trump, who has made No collusion! almost as much his mantra in the last two years as Make America Great Again, can now focus his considerable talent for retribution on his Democratic enemies as he bids for re-election. After 22 months and at least $25 million spent on an investigation that Trump has repeatedly called a witch hunt, and which yielded next to nothing on him personally, he now has a more credible case.No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT! Trump tweeted after the Barr letter was made public.In a statement, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said: Today marks the day that President Trump has been completely and fully vindicated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, exposing the Russia collusion conspiracy theory for the sham that it always was and catching Democrats in an elaborate web of lies and deceit. Even so, five key former associates of Trump, including Flynn, his former national security advisor; his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort; and his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, have pleaded guilty to various charges in the Mueller probe, including lying to the FBI or Congress about their contacts with Russians or their representations of Trumps business interests in Russia.Before the Mueller report came out, at least one national poll indicated that many voters agreed with Trump that the investigation was a witch hunt; Sundays revelations will no doubt provoke a further backlash. Thus perhaps the real question going into the 2020 election is how the Democrats will react. Even before the Mueller report summary came out, it was clear that they were divided and are likely to remain so. On March 11, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the Washington Post that she opposed impeachment, saying Trump was just not worth the divisiveness that the country would suffer from that effort.But some younger members of the Housewhich would decide whether to impeachstill havent given up hope, and newly empowered committee chairs, including Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, immediately indicated that they were far from satisfied with Barrs letter and would insist on examining the full Mueller report. Nadler said he wanted to hear testimony from Barr and Mueller in hopes of firming up what the former FBI director really thought about the obstruction charges and whether the attorney general accurately reflected Muellers conclusions.In light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report, where Mueller did not exonerate the President, we will be calling Attorney General Barr in to testify before [the House Judiciary Committee] in the near future, Nadler tweeted.READ MOREThe Mueller Report Is a Test for the United StatesAs the world looks on, its up to Washington to demonstrate the strength of its institutions.SHADOW GOVERNMENT | DANIEL B. BAERSome Democratic strategists pointed out that the emerging 2020 field has already been steering away from making the campaign all about Trump and his alleged transgressions against the law. I think we should get the report and analyze what it actually says, given that there are and should be significant concerns about Barrs impartiality, said Neera Tanden, the president of the Center for American Progress. But she argued that most successful Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterms, and the current declared presidential contenders, have not been hanging their campaigns on impeachment. That consideration has always been one that is inside Washington. Theyre out there talking about their plans for the future and not simply an indictment of Trump, she said.Nonetheless, several 2020 candidates on Sunday, including Sens. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, called for the full Mueller report to be made public.In a joint statement, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer demanded the same thing, saying that Barr had demonstrated a record of bias against the Mueller probe and his letter raises as many questions as it answers. The fact that Special Counsel Muellers report does not exonerate the president on a charge as serious as obstruction of justice demonstrates how urgent it is that the full report and underlying documentation be made public without any further delay.Trump is hardly in the clear, and it may yet prove that Stormy Daniels, the porn star whom Trump allegedly had paid to keep quiet about their tryst just before the 2016 election, ends up doing more damage to Trump than Mueller does. Following an FBI raid of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohens office in April 2018, prompted in part by an investigation into those hush payments, the Southern District of New York is looking into an array of issues connected with the president and his business, the Trump Organization. Cohen has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about efforts to construct a Trump tower in Moscow and told a congressional committee late last month that he acted in accordance with what he believed Trumps wishes were.During that testimony before the House Oversight Committee, Cohen said he believed that prosecutors were also looking into his communications with Trump and Trumps representatives following the FBI raid of Cohens office, which could also raise suspicions of obstruction of justice. The Southern District of New York has not commented on those allegations.According to Barrs letter, the Mueller investigation concluded that there were two main Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election. The first involved attempts by a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), to conduct disinformation and social media operations in the United States designed to sow social discord, eventually with the aim of interfering with the election.But the special counsel did not find that any U.S. person or Trump campaign official or associate conspired or knowingly coordinated with the IRA in its efforts, Barr wrote. He said the second effort involved the Russian governments efforts to conduct computer hacking operations designed to gather and disseminate information to influence the election. But here too, according to the attorney general, Mueller did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts.Even so, Democrats who have been waiting for Mueller to deliver his report believe too many questions remain unanswered. Some criticized Barrs statement that Muellers decision to describe the facts of his obstruction investigation without reaching any legal conclusions leaves it to the Attorney General to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime. Barr apparently concluded, after just a 48-hour review and without interviewing the president, that the evidence developed during the Special Counsels investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.Nadler later tweeted: Special Counsel Mueller worked for 22 months to determine the extent to which President Trump obstructed justice. Attorney General Barr took 2 days to tell the American people that while the President is not exonerated, there will be no action by DOJ.Barr added that the determination made by him and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was not influenced by constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president.
source: foreignpolicy.com

Author(s): Michael Hirsh

25 Mar 19

Report submitted, Robert Mueller ends Russia investigation in silence

The end of a sprawling investigation that has riveted the nation usually calls for a news conference from the person in charge, but Robert S. Mueller III chose a different approach Friday.The special counsel sent a security officer to the Justice Department to deliver his long-awaited final report on the Russia case, then joined his wife and another couple for a quiet dinner in a favorite neighborhood restaurant.With no photographers or TV cameras in sight, they sat in a secluded booth as cable news and social media exploded with speculation and accusations.It was a fitting conclusion for the man whose tenure as the least talkative yet most talked-about public figure in Washington is drawing to a close.Mueller, 74, is expected to step down as special counsel in the coming days, and only a skeleton crew is left in the office at this point. His report, which remains confidential for now, caps nearly two years of investigating Russian political interference, any potential conspiracy with Donald Trumps campaign and whether the president obstructed justice.During that time, Mueller was practically a ghost. Sometimes a snapshot would emerge of him sitting down at an Apple store, or coincidentally waiting for a flight at the same airport gate as Donald Trump Jr.The biggest indictments, guilty pleas and dramas in the Russia investigationMAR 24, 2019 | 1:40 PMOtherwise he was at most a blurry figure, captured behind his car window as he pulled up to the special counsels office in the early mornings. His name often appeared at the bottom of indictments and court filings all told, 34 people were charged but his subordinates did the talking during courtroom proceedings.Muellers only public comment has been a single sentence, when he was appointed as special counsel nearly two years ago in May 2017, and the statement was as plain as the white shirts that hes made his official uniform."I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability," Mueller said.He issued no statement on Friday when he submitted his report.Trump often raged at Muellers work, repeatedly calling the Russia investigation a witch hunt and describing him as a conflicted prosecutor gone rogue. But even the president, a former reality television star, would likely give his chief antagonist one of his favorite compliments that Mueller was from central casting.Muellers history of public service, reticence and rectitude provided a sharp contrast to Trumps life of tabloid shenanigans, bombast and garish wealth.A Princeton University graduate, Mueller volunteered for the Marines and served as an infantry officer in the Vietnam War, receiving a Bronze Star for valor and a Purple Heart after being shot in the leg.He became a federal prosecutor after the war and rose through the ranks at the Justice Department. Eventually he served for a dozen years as FBI director under presidents of both parties, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, after Obama and Congress agreed to a special law to extend Muellers term beyond the 10-year limit.Mueller was working in private practice when Trump fired his successor as FBI director, James B. Comey, on May 9, 2017. In a move to preserve the independence of the Russia investigation, Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller to serve as special counsel.President Trump speaks to the media as he leaves the White House bound for his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on March 22. (Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA/Shutterstock)Since then, Muellers silence has been the counterweight to Trumps blizzard of Twitter screeds, and the special counsels office earned a reputation as the rare leak-proof operation in Washington.Muellers reserve was also a marked shift from two of the highest profile special prosecutors of the past generation Lawrence E. Walsh, who spent seven years examining the Iran-Contra scandal of the Reagan administration, and Kenneth W. Starr, whose investigation of Bill Clinton and his White House lasted four years.Starr talked publicly about his work, at one point holding a widely televised, impromptu news conference at the end of his suburban Washington driveway.Clinton allies accused Starrs prosecutors, who included Brett M. Kavanaugh, now a Supreme Court justice, of routinely leaking secret grand jury testimony in an effort to force the president to resign. The investigation ultimately led the House to impeach Clinton, who was then acquitted by the Senate.Starr consistently denied any improper actions. But in 1998, as the Clinton impeachment proceedings were taking place, U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson ruled that members of his staff had engaged in "serious and repetitive violations of grand jury secrecy rules. Johnson threatened contempt proceedings against Starr staffers in one case, but an appeals court overturned that portion of her order, ruling that she had applied too strict a standard and that the way Starrs staff dealt with the press was troubling but not illegal.A special master who investigated the leak allegations wrote a report of his findings that was never released and remains under seal.In a recent CNN interview, Starr defended his public comments about the case and said he thought Muellers approach in declining to talk publicly was not wise."I just have a different perspective, Starr said. "I think it's important to provide public information that's appropriate."Kennetth Starr is swarmed by the media in 1998 while investigating President Bill Clinton, a scene that hasn't been repeated by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. (Ken Cedeno / Knight-Ridder Tribune)Walsh investigated the Iran-Contra scandal, in which Reagan administration officials facilitated the sale of arms to Iran to fund the right-wing Nicaraguan rebel group known as Contras at a time when U.S support for the rebels was forbidden by law. Walsh ultimately indicted 14 people, winning 11 convictions.Several of the convictions were overturned on appeal. And at the end of his presidency, George H.W. Bush, who was vice president at the time the scandal unfolded, pardoned the rest of those convicted, including the secretary of Defense at the time of the scandal, Caspar Weinberger.Walsh, whose investigation was ongoing at that point, publicly criticized Bush for his action, holding a news conference in which he said that "the Iran-Contra cover-up, which has continued for more than six years, has now been completed.In his final news conference several months later, at which Walsh released a 566-page report and 785 pages of supporting documents, he said Bush and other Reagan administration officials had thwarted his investigation.Reagan, in a statement at the time, said Walsh had become "vindictive" and had "used his office to harass individuals and otherwise to damage the lives of the persons he was given license to investigate.Both Walsh and Starr served under an independent counsel statute that expired in 1999. That statute gave them more freedom than Mueller, who is supervised by the Justice Department, headed by Trump appointees.Congress demands to see the entire Mueller report, and may subpoena special counselMAR 22, 2019 | 4:50 PMBut Muellers tight-lipped approach still stands out in a city packed with people of supersized egos and camera-ready ambitions.Its unclear whether Mueller will be able to maintain his silence in the coming weeks and months.Atty. Gen. William Barr is expected to provide Congress with a summary of the special counsels conclusions as soon as this weekend, but thats unlikely to satisfy House Democrats who are eager for a more complete and public picture. Some have already talked about bringing Mueller to Capitol Hill to testify.Muellers restraint undoubtedly helped inoculate him from some criticism from Trumps allies, who were quick to criticize any whiff of political bias from investigators. They mostly targeted secondary figures instead, perhaps a recognition that they were unlikely to tarnish the special counsel himself.House Republicans focused their ire on Peter Strzok, a former FBI agent, and Lisa Page, a former FBI lawyer, who exchanged anti-Trump text messages while working at the agency during the 2016 campaign.Mueller removed Strzok from the special counsels office when the messages came to light, but critics said Strzoks involvement tainted the probe.Trumps lawyer, former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, focused on Muellers prosecutors, particularly top deputy Andrew Weissmann. Giuliani described Weissmann as a complete scoundrel in a CNN interview last summer.Mueller himself managed to win some unlikely praise from the presidents camp, including from Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Jared Kushner, Trumps son-in-law and White House advisor.During a recent panel discussion, Lowell said, "I don't know of a special counsel who's done it better.
source: www.latimes.com

Author(s): Chris Megerian; David Lauter

25 Mar 19

Ex-CIA Chief: Dems Shouldn't Retry Mueller's Case

On Sunday, Attorney General William Barr released a summary of the conclusions of special counsel Robert Mueller, after a nearly two-year investigation into Russias interference in the 2016 election. To make sense of it all, OZY brings you voices from different sides of the debate. Here is John McLaughlin, former CIA deputy director and OZY columnist.WHAT QUESTIONS DID THE BARR SUMMARY ANSWER FOR YOU, AND WHAT IS STILL MISSING?Assuming the summary is correct, we learned that Mueller did not find conclusive evidence that anyone in the campaign or Trump himself cooperated with the Russians in their covert action operation to favor Trump and to influence and divide American voters. We also learned that Mueller could not come to a conclusion about whether the president obstructed justice he neither accused him nor exonerated him and that the attorney general has decided, in consultation with his deputy, that Muellers evidence does not support a judgment of obstruction.What we dont know is all of the detail behind these judgments. For example, what were the motives of so many people in the Trump campaign in having close to 100 contacts with Russian individuals in the political and business world? Why did many of them lie about these contacts? Was the problem in making a judgment about obstruction that the evidence was too thin on the issue of intent, which is apparently crucial to arriving at a judgment that obstruction occurred?THE MEDIA HAS TO BE CAREFUL TO NOT KEEP TRYING TO PROVE THE COLLUSION CASE AFTER LIONIZING MUELLER ALL THESE MONTHS AS THE NATIONS PRIMARY TRUTH TELLER.WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS FOR CONGRESS?Congressional Democrats have already insisted on seeing the entire text of the Mueller report, and I believe they are certain to insist that Mueller and Attorney General Barr testify, even if they must be subpoenaed. I believe they will testify voluntarily. Meanwhile, the intelligence committees in both houses and the judiciary committees have investigations underway on many aspects of the Russian interference and the presidents behavior.I may be in the minority, but I think congressional Democrats will make a big political mistake if they dive down the rabbit hole of trying to relitigate Muellers report, attempting to prove what he apparently was reluctant to conclude. House Speaker Pelosi has ruled out impeachment without a very powerful case and bipartisan consensus. This report makes it near impossible to bring the Republicans along unless other investigations turn up something unassailably damning.Trumps opponents may find some profit in keeping alive the collusion and obstruction issues, but in my view they now need to focus on his performance as president and on who he has revealed himself to be. He is still the man who questioned Barack Obamas birthplace, who failed to deliver on healthcare, who falsely promised that Mexico would pay for a wall on our southern border, who mocked a disabled journalist, and who lies routinely, calls opponents schoolyard names, insults allies, continues to attack a dead war hero (John McCain) and who was favored by the Russians in our last election. All pretty good campaign material.SHOULD OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE BE ENOUGH TO INDICT A SITTING PRESIDENT?In my opinion, yes. But the bar would have to be very, very high, and based on this summary revealed today it appears Mueller did not think it was high enough. I recall discussing standards for evidence with Mueller when we were in government together, and he has a very high bar for what is provable. The argument will go on, but I strongly suspect that judgment will stand when all is said and done.HOW MUCH OF MUELLERS FINDINGS DO YOU EXPECT WILL BE CLASSIFIED?It may be that Muellers team has already written an unclassified version of the report. That is fairly common in situations like this. If they have not and if the report has to be declassified, they will probably take out only the minimum required to respect laws concerning privacy and intelligence sources and methods used to obtain some of the data. Without seeing the report its impossible to estimate what proportion of the text that might affect.DID THE MEDIA AND THE PUBLIC OVERSTEP IN MAKING COLLUSION CONNECTIONS?Some in the media did, but frankly, the presidents own behavior, such as publicly inviting the Russians to find and reveal Hillary Clintons emails, invited such speculation. So did the famous Trump Tower meeting when a number of officials from the Trump family and campaign met with a Russian lawyer and others supposedly delivering dirt on Clinton. Add in Trumps favoring Putins word on election interference over the clear evidence provided by the intelligence community, and it wouldve been hard for the media to avoid speculation about collusion.Now that Mueller has rendered his judgment, however, the media has to be careful to not keep trying to prove the collusion case after lionizing Mueller all these months as the nations primary truth teller. That will look like sour grapes. And you can count on Trump weaponizing this report. If you were tired of hearing him say no collusion before, too bad; you are going to hear it over and over again, even louder and more insistently.Special counsel Muellers mandate did not include investigating for stupidity and navet. In the end, those may be the explanations for much of the suspicious activity that has taken place during the last campaign and the first two years of the Trump presidency. Stupidity and navet in not recognizing the bait that Russia was throwing out and not immediately reporting Russian approaches to the FBI as more experienced politicians would know to do.WHAT DOES THIS REPORT MEAN FOR RUSSIA AND VLADIMIR PUTIN? U.S.-RUSSIAN RELATIONS? HOW WILL RUSSIANS REACT TO THIS NEWS GENERALLY?Russians will love parts of this report. They wont like what Mueller says about their interference in the election, and they will continue to deny this. And they will use the no collusion piece of it to bolster their argument, saying this shows they were not interfering and that this was fake news. They will mash all of this together to claim innocence and are likely to try driving the point home with continued efforts to manipulate social media that reaches the American audience.WILL THE NO-EVIDENCE RULING ON COLLUSION CHANGE TRUMPS STANDING ON THE WORLD STAGE?I doubt it. His low standing comes not from this but from having withdrawn from so many international forums, such as the climate change agreement, Iran nuclear accord and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. And from insulting so many of our allies, questioning the worth of our alliances.WHAT DO YOU SUSPECT IS NEXT FOR ROBERT MUELLER?I dont know, but I suspect he will return to his Washington law firm, WilmerHale. But he is certain to be called upon to speak publicly, especially in congressional testimony, about the conclusions he came to, the process he used and the reasons behind his judgments.
source: www.ozy.com

Author(s): John McLaughlin

25 Mar 19

Supreme Court to hear gerrymandering cases against Democrats, Republicans

When state legislatures draw the boundary lines for voting districts, the majority party typically comes up with a map designed to keep itself in power. But can that become so blatantly political that it violates the Constitution? And how can the courts tell how much partisanship in politics is too much?The U.S. Supreme Court takes up those questions Tuesday, returning to an issue that the justices have so far found impossible to answer. Political reformers hope the court will issue a ruling that could change the future of American politics, by allowing voting districts to become more competitive.The court hears two challenges to redrawn boundaries for congressional districts that gave an advantage to the party in power Republicans in North Carolina and Democrats in Maryland. In both cases, groups of voters sued and lower courts declared the maps to be unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders.After the 2010 census, North Carolina's legislature drew a new district map, but a federal court threw it out, finding that it put racial minorities at a disadvantage. In 2016, the legislature came up with a revised plan and declared that politics, not race, was the guiding factor the second time around.RelatedPOLITICSThey're Still Drawing Crazy-Looking Districts. Can't It Be Stopped?The committee designing the revision freely admitted that it was intended to maintain the partisan breakdown of the state's congressional delegation ten Republicans and three Democrats. One state representative, asked why the legislature wanted to preserve that ratio, joked, "because I do not believe it's possible to draw a map with eleven Republicans and two Democrats."In Maryland, Republican voters challenged the redrawing of Maryland's 6th Congressional District in 2011, which allowed Democrats to take over a seat in the US House that Republican Roscoe Bartlett held for two decades. He had been re-elected in 2010 by a 28 percent margin. After the redistricting, he lost by 21 percent.Democrat Martin O'Malley, Maryland's governor at the time, made no secret of the motive behind the new map. The intent was to "create a district where the people would be more likely to elect a Democrat than a Republican."O'Malley: 'very much in favor' of doing away with gerrymanderingMARCH 28, 201804:29Confronted with similar challenges in the past, the Supreme Court concluded that because redistricting is essentially a partisan political act, it would be impossible for the courts to know when gerrymandering became unconstitutional. In 2004, the court rejected a claim that a Pennsylvania gerrymander was too partisan, though Justice Anthony Kennedy indicated then such a lawsuit might succeed if the right kind of proof came along.During its last term, the court again dodged the partisan gerrymandering question, citing procedural shortcomings in cases from Wisconsin and Maryland. This time, the issue is presented more directly. But with Kennedy gone, replaced by the more conservative Brett Kavanaugh, it's likely the Supreme Court will conclude that this is a political matter for state legislatures to resolve, not the courts.RecommendedPOLITICSMany questions surround Mueller's handling of the obstruction of justice issuePOLITICSMueller delivers a 'gift' to Trump for 2020 electionOne problem is coming up with a legal test for determining when there's too much partisanship at work. The challengers in the North Carolina case say it's not that hard. They say the line is crossed when a state targets minority party voters by spreading them out among districts where they cannot form a majority and jamming the remaining ones together to minimize the number of districts they can win.That view is supported by 40 current and former members of the U.S. House of Representatives, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. "Artificially drawn 'safe' districts tend to make general elections less competitive and give party insiders, or small groups of 'base' primary voters, much greater influence than the general electorate." As a result, they say in a friend of court brief, Congress becomes less able to compromise or govern effectively.But Republican legislators in North Carolina say this is not an issue for judges. "The time has come for this court to make clear that the Constitution does not provide courts with the tools or the responsibility to say how much partisan motivation is too much," they say in their court filings.The Supreme Court will issue its decision by late June.
source: www.nbcnews.com

Author(s): Pete Williams

25 Mar 19

The Hunt for the Red Nothing Burger

"President Trump's campaign did not conspire with Russia during the 2016 election, according to a summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report submitted to Congress on Sunday," reported the BBC. NPR adds:"The Special Counsel's investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russian in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election," Barr writes in his letter to leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees delivered Sunday afternoon.Mueller made a considerable effort: employing 19 lawyers and 40 FBI agents, issuing 2,800 subpoenas, 500 search warrants, 230 communications orders, 50 orders for pen registers, 13 requests to foreign governments for evincing, and interviewing 500 witnesses yet ultimately finding n0 collusion. Mueller assiduously prosecuted what was presented as a definite contact. Yet after the equivalent of a destroyer captain carrying out numerous active sonar searches, MAD detection sweeps, and a bottom search he found nothing.But a negative result isn't a total waste. It shows what is not there. While Mueller brought indictments for the ordinary kind of Washington crime against several persons, he found no collusion. Like a patient who after a battery of tests finds he has acid reflux and ulcers but no stomach cancer, a negative result is full of information. The taxpayer paid a lot of money for the equivalent of Mueller's tests and while not everyone may like the negative result, there it is. The rational thing for the Democrats to do is find a good candidate to oppose Trump in 2020 -- or they can keep investing money in finding the phantom sub but with little objective hope of finding it.Perhaps the most damaging legacy of the 2016 campaign was the Steele dossier. Its authors created their own MacGuffin. They launched their own decoy then fired all their warshots on the noisemaker of their own device. Now all tubes are expended and the sonarman reports "torpedo circling back." Ironically it's the Democrats, not the Republicans, who should be most outraged at the dossier. How the devil did they fire all available tubes at a nothing burger?
source: pjmedia.com

Author(s): Richard Fernandez March 24, 2019

25 Mar 19

Why the silence around the scandal threatening Justin Trudeau? | Jack Bernhardt

t must be great being Canadian. Instead of Greggs, theyve got Tim Hortons. Instead of the cartoonist Matt, theyve got Kate Beaton. Instead of an economy on the edge of a cliff edge and the prospect of mass chaos, theyve got moose. And best of all, instead of a malfunctioning robot who veers between doing impressions of insurance-obsessed mongooses and Mussolini, theyve got Justin Trudeau! Perfect, beautiful Justin Trudeau, the woke Ken doll of the G8 who last week apologised for eating a chocolate bar in the Canadian parliament! What a little scamp! While we have to deal with warring MPs and a failing democracy, the worst scandal the Canadians have to deal with is over a Twix! Justin Trudeaus disgrace is like watching a unicorn get run overLeah McLaren Read moreOh, and a huge corruption case that threatens to bring down the prime minister, the government and one of the biggest contractors in the country.If you actually look at Canadian politics, and try to ignore the UK medias perception of Justin Trudeau they see him as a Calvin Klein model whos pretty good at Sporcle quizzes a darker picture emerges. In February the Canadian attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, quit her post after allegations that she was improperly pressured into dropping charges against SNC-Lavalin, a major Canadian engineering firm. A string of resignations followed including former cabinet minister Jane Philpott, who said last Thursday that there was much more to be told on the scandal, with the implication that Trudeau himself had personally lobbied the attorney general to drop the case.As Canadian stories go, its steamier and meatier than a bucket of poutine but at the time of writing the only reference to the scandal (or indeed any Canadian politics) on the front page of the BBC US & Canada section is a video of Trudeau apologising for the incident I will henceforth refer to as Chocogate. I understand why Chocogate was a popular story, as it combines two of Canadas greatest loves chocolate and apologising but really it seems like the BBC has buried the lede. Its like reporting the assassination of Abraham Lincoln with the headline Mrs Lincolns enjoyment of Mars bar ruined by nearby gunshot.Part of this is to do with Trudeaus own handling of the media: he uses them in a similarly cynical way to Donald Trump or Theresa May. Thats not to say hes as bad or as dangerous indeed, no MP in Canada has said theyve received death threats because of the way Trudeau ate a Caramac but he can distract the media just as effectively. What Trump does through outrage and May does through abject fascinating incompetence, Trudeau does through charm, and its a charm that works best on the outside world.Sign up to the Media Briefing: news for the news-makers Read moreIm not suggesting this is some big cover-up a global conspiracy to make sure that Justin Trudeau is remembered as the guy with silly socks rather than a corrupt politician who bullies his cabinet on behalf of big business. Its more that, in the UK, Canada and, indeed, most other countries doesnt seem to be worth talking about, unless were using it to compare with ourselves. Since 2016 Trudeau has been one of the go-to good guys, held up as the perfect political antidote to everything that is wrong with our own politicians. While Michael Gove was doing down experts, Trudeau was explaining quantum computing in a painfully staged press conference. While Donald Trump refused to visit a cemetery because of a few showers, Trudeau was giving a speech without an umbrella. While Boris Johnson was, well, being Boris Johnson, Trudeau was declaring himself a feminist and promoting women to key positions in his cabinet.Canada gets lazily portrayed as a utopia with perfect politics because flaws arent useful to the narrative. Canada exists in our imagination only through a series of superficial, shareable videos of Trudeau hugging pandas, just so we can look at them and complain that our prime minister never hugs a panda. The upshot of this means that when serious allegations emerge, we ignore them because if we have to engage with them, it shatters our simplistic concepts of Good Politics (Obama! John Oliver! That Gillette Advert!) and Bad Politics (Brexit! Trump! That Pepsi Advert!).'He's not a bad person, but ' scandal-hit Justin Trudeau turns voters off Read moreIts a trend we tend to repeat with global stories look at the binary attitude some remainers have towards Emmanuel Macron or Angela Merkel, extolling their virtues while ignoring the formers brutal austerity policies, or the latters startling political decline. New Zealands prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has been rightly praised for her response to the Christchurch terrorist attack, but the instinct of the media has still been to compare her actions to our own leaders, rather than to analyse what she did right on her own terms.Theres a danger that we dont see other countries and other leaders as anything other than funhouse mirrors to reflect ourselves distorting stereotypes and eradicating nuance to define our own identity, a kind of British and American exceptionalism that appears deferential to other countries but is actually oddly insulting.At times like these, its tempting to cherrypick the best aspects of the politicians of the rest of the world and build a Frankenstein prime minister the cheekbones of Justin Trudeau, the tech-savviness of Emmanuel Macron, the dancing ability of anyone but Theresa May. But the real world doesnt work like that. Life isnt a stage-managed photoshoot. There are always bigger scandals than chocolate. Jack Bernhardt is a comedy writer and occasional performer
source: www.theguardian.com

Author(s): Jack Bernhardt

25 Mar 19

Privacy group sues DOJ for public release of Mueller report True Pundit

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a lawsuit on Friday to obtain special counsel Robert Muellers final report on his investigation into possible obstruction of justice by President Trump and possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.The privacy group filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act(FOIA) against the Justice Department to acquire the reports nonexempt findings, stating that the information in Muellers report was of overwhelming public interest.The public has a right to know the full scope of Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election and whether the President of the United States played any role in such interference, EPIC said in its lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.The public also has a right to know whether the President unlawfully obstructed any investigation into Russian election interference or related matters, the group added. The requested records are vital to the publics understanding of these issues and to the integrity of the political system of the United States. read more
source: truepundit.com

Author(s): admin

25 Mar 19

Mueller Is Done. Now Probe the Real Scandal

Attorney General William Barr has reported to Congress that special counsel Robert Mueller has cleared President Trump and his campaign team of claims of conspiring with Russia during the 2016 election. This is more than an exoneration. Its a searing indictment of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as a reminder of the need to know the story behind the bureaus corrosive investigation.
source: www.wsj.com

Author(s): Kimberley A. Strassel

25 Mar 19

Stormy Daniels ex-lawyer Michael Avenatti arrested for alleged $20 million extortion scheme against Nike, embezzling clients money, defrauding bank

Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti is arrested on charges of trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike by threatening to reveal negative publicity.Avenatti also is charged in a separate federal case of embezzling a client's money "in order to pay his own expense and debts," and of "defrauding a bank in Mississippi."Avenatti had represented porn star Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen related to a nondisclosure agreement she had signed on the eve of the 2016 presidential election to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Trump.Dan Mangan| Kevin BreuningerPublished 1 Hour Ago Updated 1 Min AgoCNBC.com Michael Avenatti arrested for alleged $20 million extortion attempt against Nike 1 Hour Ago | 01:41Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti was arrested Monday in New York City on charges of trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike by threatening to reveal claims that company employees had authorized payments to the families of top high school basketball players.Avenatti also was separately charged in a second federal case in Los Angeles with embezzling a client's money "in order to pay his own expenses and debts" and those of his law firm and coffee company, and of "defrauding a bank in Mississippi," prosecutors said.The famously aggressive litigator had represented porn star Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against President Donald Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen related to a nondisclosure agreement she signed on the eve of the 2016 presidential election to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Trump in exchange for a $130,000 payment. Last year, Avenatti announced that he was considering running for president.Daniels replaced Avenatti as her lawyer earlier this month after a fallout with him.Daniels, in a statement released by her new lawyer Clark Brewster, told CNBC that, "Knowing what I know now about Michael, I'm saddened but not shocked regarding his arrest.""I made the decision weeks ago to terminate Michael's services after discovering that he had dealt with me extremely dishonestly, and I will have my own announcement coming soon," Daniels said.Avenatti, 48, was arrested in Midtown Manhattan at the law offices of Boies Schiller Flexner at 12:30 p.m. ET by FBI agents, about 15 minutes after he tweeted that he would be disclosing a big high school and college basketball scandal "perpetrated by" Nike that he supposedly had uncovered.Nike stock initially nose dived on the news, but later recovered much of the losses.According to a criminal complaint, Avenatti had offered to not hold that press conference "only if Nike made a payment of $1.5 million to a client of Avenatti's in possession of information damaging to Nike ... and agreed to 'retain' Avenatti and [another person] to conduct an 'internal investigation' an investigation that Nike did not request for which Avenatti and [the other person] demanded to be paid, at a minimum, between $15 [million] and $25 million."The complaint says that on Wednesday, Avenatti and a cooperating witness spoke by phone with lawyers for Nike "during which Avenatti stated, with respect to his demands for payment of millions of dollars, that if those demands were not met 'I'll go take ten billion dollars off your client's market cap ... I'm not f---ing around.'"U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, speaking at a press conference in Manhattan, said, "By engaging in the conduct alleged in the complaint, Avenatti was not acting as an attorney. ""A suit and tie does not mask the fact that at its core, this was an old-fashioned shake down," Berman said.Avenatti is due in Manhattan federal court on Monday on charges of conspiracy, extortion and transmitting interstate communications with intent to extort. That is the same court where Trump's ex-lawyer Cohen pleaded guilty last year to crimes that included campaign finance law violations related to the hush-money payments to Daniels.Avenatti is charged in the Los Angeles case with two criminal counts, wire fraud and bank fraud.Andrew Cullen | ReutersMichael AvenattiNike had no immediate comment. The White House did not immediately comment.In the Los Angeles federal case, Avenatti is accused in a 197-page complaint of negotiating a $1.6 million settlement for a client in a civil case, but then giving the client "a bogus settlement agreement with a false payment date of March 10, 2018."The U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles said "Avenatti misappropriated his client's settlement money and used it to pay expenses for his coffee business, Global Baristas US LLC, which operated Tully's Coffee stores in California and Washington state, as well as for his own expenses.""When the fake March 2018 deadline passed and the client asked where the money was, Avenatti continued to conceal that the payment had already been received," according to prosecutors."Mr. Avenatti is facing serious criminal charges alleging he misappropriated client trust funds for his personal use and he defrauded a bank by submitting phony tax returns in order to obtain millions of dollars in loans," U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said.Hanna's office said Avenatti also allegedly defrauded a bank in Mississippi by submitting to that bank fake tax returns to get three loans totaling $4.1 million for his law firm and coffee business in 2014.The tax returns indicated that he had "substantial income even though he had never filed any such returns with the Internal Revenue Service," the prosecutor's office said. "The phony returns stated that he earned $4,562,881 in adjusted gross income in 2011, $5,423,099 in 2012, and $4,082,803 in 2013. ... Avenatti allegedly also claimed he paid $1.6 million in estimated tax payments to the IRS in 2012 and paid $1.25 million in 2013.""In reality, Avenatti never filed personal income tax returns for 2011, 2012 and 2013 and did not make any estimated tax payments in 2012 and 2013," Hanna's office said."Instead of the millions of dollars he claimed to have paid in taxes, Avenatti still owed the IRS $850,438 in unpaid personal income tax plus interest and penalties for the tax years 2009 and 2010. Avenatti also submitted a fictitious partnership tax return for his law firm," the investigators saidRead the New York federal criminal complaint against Michael Avenatti:
source: www.cnbc.com

Author(s): Dan Mangan

25 Mar 19

Father of Sandy Hook victim is found dead from apparent suicide

Father of six-year-old girl killed in Sandy Hook massacre is found dead at his Connecticut town hall office from apparent suicideJeremy Richman, 49, was found dead from an apparent suicide in Connecticut on Monday morningPolice said his body was found at the Edmond Town Hall where he has an officeThe 49-year-old's daughter Avielle Richman was among those killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting massacrePolice said Richman's appeared to have taken his own life but wouldn't release any additional information about his deathRichman founded and ran the Avielle Foundation - a violence prevention charity - with his wife Jennifer Hensel in the wake of their daughter's deathThe couple had two more children together in the years after Avielle's death By EMILY CRANE FOR DAILYMAIL.COMPUBLISHED: 11:44 EDT, 25 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:07 EDT, 25 March 2019 e-mail 33kshares205View commentsThe father of a six-year-old girl killed in the Sandy Hook massacre has been found dead from an apparent suicide. Police said the body of Jeremy Richman was found in his Connecticut office building on Monday morning. The 49-year-old's daughter Avielle Richman was among those killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting massacre.Police said they were called to the Edmond Town Hall where Richman has an office at about 7am on Monday to investigate reports of a suicide. Richman - who was a mental health advocate - was dead when first responders arrived, police said. +10Jeremy Richman, 49, (right) was found dead from an apparent suicide at his Connecticut office on Monday. Richman and his wife Jennifer Hensel (left) lost their six-year-old daughter Avielle Richman (center) in the Sandy Hook massacre 'The death appears to be a suicide, but police will not disclose the method or any other details of the death, only to state the death does not to appear to be suspicious,' Newtown Police said in a statement. Richman had two more children with his wife Jennifer Hensel after their daughter Avielle was killed. Richman's body was taken to the Connecticut State Medical Examiner's office to undergo an autopsy. 'This is a heart breaking event for the Richman family and the Newtown Community as a whole, the police department's prayers are with the Richman family right now, and we ask that the family be given privacy in this most difficult time,' Police Lt. Aaron Bahamonde said.Richman founded and ran the Avielle Foundation - a violence prevention charity - with his wife Jennifer Hensel in the wake of their daughter's death. The Avielle Foundation was created within months of the tragedy with the goal of reducing violence and to conduct brain research to determine what leads to violence. For Richman, the work became a full-time pursuit and he gave up his job as a researcher at the pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim to dedicate himself to the foundation. +10+10Police said the body of Jeremy Richman was found in his Connecticut office building on Monday morning. His daughter Avielle Richman was among those killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting massacre+10Police said they were called to the Edmond Town Hall where Richman has an office at about 7am on Monday to investigate reports of a suicide. The hall is pictured above during a memorial for the Sandy Hook victimsTheir foundation provides grants for projects on topics including the effects that abuse, neglect and adversity have on the brain and the links between behavior and biochemistry. Richman was the keynote speaker at the 2019 Violence Summit just last week at the FAU Brain Institute at Florida Atlantic University. Richman and Hensel were honored for their advocacy by the psychiatry department at the Yale School of Medicine in 2016.'The brain is just another organ and you don't have to be a neuroscientist to recognize that it can be healthy, it can be unhealthy, and that you need to feel comfortable advocating for your own brain health and the brain health of your loved ones,' Richman said back in 2016.'We feel that the failure to do that led in large part to the tragedy at Sandy Hook.' Richman and Hensel were among a group of Sandy Hook parents suing InfoWars host Alex Jones for calling the 2012 massacre a hoax on his show.+10Richman founded and ran the Avielle Foundation - a violence prevention charity - with his wife Jennifer Hensel in honor of their daughter's death. They are pictured above just one month after the Sandy Hook massacre+10+10The Avielle Foundation was created within months of the couple losing their daughter with the goal of reducing violence+10Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, who has lobbied for stricter gun laws since the shooting, tweeted on Monday that he devastated about Richman's deathThe lawsuit filed in Connecticut say that Jones' comments on Infowars have tormented them and subjected them to harassment and death threats by his followers.Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, who has lobbied for stricter gun laws since the shooting, tweeted on Monday that he devastated about Richman's death. 'My god. This is awful, horrible, devastating news. Jeremy was a good friend and an unceasing advocate for better research into the brains violence triggers. He was with me in my office two weeks ago, excited as could be about the Avielle Foundations latest amazing work,' Murphy said. Richman's death is the third suicide in a week that is related to school shooting massacres. Sydney Aiello, who survived the Florida shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year, died by suicide last week.The teenager, who graduated last year, had been diagnosed with PTSD.A second student at the same school died on Saturday in what police said was an apparent suicide. That student has not been identified publicly. Video playing bottom right...Click here to expand to full pageLoaded: 0%Progress: 0%0:00PlayUnmuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration Time 1:14FullscreenExpandClose+10Richman's daughter Avielle was among the 20 children shot dead when a gunman stormed Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 15, 2012TWO PARKLAND MASSACRE SURVIVORS DIE BY SUICIDE: Two students at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have taken their own lives in just one week. Sydney Aiello, who survived the massacre last year, died by suicide last week. The teenager, who graduated from the school last year, had been diagnosed with PTSD.Sydney's family said she had suffered from 'survivor's guilt' after losing her best friend Meadow Pollack in the shooting that left 17 students and staff dead. +10Sydney Aiello, who graduated from Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year, took her own life last week after her family said she suffered from survivor's guiltA second student at the same school died on Saturday night in what police said was an apparent suicide. That student, who was a sophomore, has not been identified publicly. Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky said Monday that community leaders, government officials, parents, police and others held an emergency meeting after the second student killed himself over the weekend. The February 14, 2018, shooting at the 3,200-student school killed 14 students and three staff members and wounded 17 others. Some students have begun counting the two suicides among the victims of the shooting.
source: www.dailymail.co.uk

Author(s): Emily Crane For Dailymail.com

25 Mar 19

Michael Avenatti Arrested In Extortion Plot Against Nike, Embezzled Client Funds

Avenatti's most famous client revealed in a statement published Monday afternoon that she was "saddened, not shocked" by news of Avenatti's indictment, adding that she fired him after discovering that he had dealt with her in an "extremely dishonest" way.* * *Update 2: This is just getting more surreal. A second set of charges allege he embezzled a clients money in order to pay his own expenses and debts as well as those of his coffee business and law firm and also defrauded a bank by using phony tax returns to obtain millions of dollars in loans.Avenatti also allegedly defrauded a bank in Mississippi by submitting to the lender false tax returns in order to obtain three loans totaling $4.1 million for his law firm and coffee business in 2014. According to the affidavit, Avenatti obtained the loans by submitting fabricated individual income tax returns (Forms 1040) for 2011, 2012, and 2013, reporting substantial income even though he had never filed any such returns with the Internal Revenue Service.The phony returns stated that he earned $4,562,881 in adjusted gross income in 2011, $5,423,099 in 2012, and $4,082,803 in 2013, according to the affidavit. Avenatti allegedly also claimed he paid $1.6 million in estimated tax payments to the IRS in 2012 and paid $1.25 million in 2013. In reality, Avenatti never filed personal income tax returns for 2011, 2012 and 2013 and did not make any estimated tax payments in 2012 and 2013.Instead of the millions of dollars he claimed to have paid in taxes, Avenatti still owed the IRS $850,438 in unpaid personal income tax plus interest and penalties for the tax years 2009 and 2010, court papers state. The affidavit also alleges that, as part of his loan applications, Avenatti also submitted a fictitious partnership tax return for his law firm.Avenatti reportedly negotiated a $1.6 million settlement on behalf of a client, then turned around and gave the client a "bogus settlement agreement" with a fake date and fake amount. He used the stolen money to pay "expenses" for his coffee business.That office said "Avenatti misappropriated his clients settlement money and used it to pay expenses for his coffee business, Global Baristas US LLC, which operated Tullys Coffee stores in California and Washington state, as well as for his own expenses.""When the fake March 2018 deadline passed and the client asked where the money was, Avenatti continued to conceal that the payment had already been received, court documents said," according to prosecutors."A lawyer has a basic duty not to steal from his client," said U.S. Attorney for Los Angeles Nick Hanna."Mr. Avenatti is facing serious criminal charges alleging he misappropriated client trust funds for his personal use and he defrauded a bank by submitting phony tax returns in order to obtain millions of dollars in loans."Full complaint here.It's been a bad few days for the #resistance.* * *Update 1: Just minutes after lawyer Michael Avenatti tweeted his tease of a press conference tomorrow claiming Nike is involved in a college basketball scandal, Bloomberg reports that Avenatti was just charged by federal prosecutors in New York with attempting to extort millions of dollars out of Nike Inc. by threatening to release damaging information about the company, which did not meet his demands.Avenatti is alleged to have told Nike that he would cancel a press conference critical of sports apparel company only if it paid an unidentified client $1.5 million, and hired him and another California lawyer to conduct an internal investigation for $15 million to $25 million.Avenatti is accused of wire fraud and bank fraud. He was arrested Monday, prosecutors said.CNN's Erica Orden tweeted the details:" SDNY is charging Michael Avenatti for "attempting to extract more than $20M in payments from a publicly traded company by threatening to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial & reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met.""According to the complaint filed in federal court, Avenatti told Nike attorneys by phone last week if his demands were not met, "I'll go take ten billion dollars off your client's market cap ... I'm not f*cking around.""I'm not fucking around with this, and I'm not continuing to play games. . . . You guys know enough now to know you've got a serious problem. And it's worth more in exposure to me to just blow the lid on this thing. A few million dollars doesn't move the needle for me. I'm just being really frank with you. So if that's what, if that's what's being contemplated, then let's just say it was good to meet you, and we're done. And I'll proceed with my press conference tomorrow . . . .I'm not fucking around with this thing anymore. So if you guys think that you know, we're gonna negotiate a million five, and you're gonna hire us to do an internal investigation, but it's gonna be capped at 3 or 5 or 7 million dollars, like let's just be done. And I'll go and I'll go take ten billion dollars off your client's market cap. But I'm not fucking around."And Nike shares are rebounding...SDNY is having a press conference on the Avenatti charges at 2:30pm.* * *As March Madness hits its stride, former Stormy Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti has found another outlet for his unique legal capabilities. In a tweet, Avenatti warned:"Tmrw at 11 am ET, we will be holding a press conference to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike that we have uncovered. This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball."The reaction was instant with NKE shares falling to their lowest since early February...This news comes after Nike shares have been sliding recently following weak domestic orders.
source: www.zerohedge.com

Author(s): Tyler Durden

25 Mar 19

Giuliani cryptically warns person behind Russia collusion claim will be outed: Just pay attention

Rudy Giuliani issued a cryptic warning Monday that whoever convinced the FBI to pursue the Russia collusion investigation into the Trump campaign will soon be outed, as he also called on President Trump's "shameless" critics to apologize for their claims in the wake of the Mueller report's conclusion.Speaking with "Fox & Friends" after the report turned in no evidence of a Trump-Russia conspiracy, Giuliani was asked whether someone tricked the FBI into opening the original investigation.GRAHAM SENDS OMINOUS TWEET TO COMEY"Yes, yes, yes -- and you're going to find out, believe me, who it was," Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer and the former New York City mayor, said.VideoAs Giuliani and other Trump allies call for an investigation into the investigators, much has already emerged about the backstory of the original Russia probe. Anti-Trump former FBI officials Lisa Page and Peter Strzok were heavily involved, as was former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Ex-British spy Christopher Steele also compiled the controversial "dossier" on Trump and his associates that played at least some role in the investigation.WATCH FOX NEWS' LIVE COVERAGE"Now the question is if there were three investigations -- no evidence of collusion -- who made it up?" Giuliani asked on "Fox & Friends" Monday morning. "It didn't just come out of thin air. I want to know who did it. Who paid for it? Who fueled it? Because the person that did it, and the group that did it, knows it's untrue because they invented it."But Giuliani would not say if he was referring to Steele or FBI agents or someone else, stating only that his team was working on it and predicting the individual responsible would be held accountable."Just pay attention," Giuliani said.He then implored Democrats to "at least stop and say 'I was wrong,'" adding that they should be happy for the country but he says they are unhappy with the findings."Shame on them! Shame on them!" he said, calling Trump an "innocent man" who didn't do what they accused him of doing.READ THE MUELLER REPORT FINDINGSTrump "has been absolved, vindicated, exonerated," given "complete vindication," the Trump lawyer said.Giuliani blasted the 675-day investigation "conducted by people who had every motive to get [Trump] and tried every tactic -- and some I don't approve of -- to get it."He called Mueller an "honest man," but criticized the handling of the investigation.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPDemocrats, meanwhile, stressed that while Mueller's report -- a summary of which was transmitted to Congress by Attorney General Bill Barr -- did not find evidence of collusion, it also did not exonerate President Trump on the issue of whether he obstructed justice. Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said they could not support such a case, but Democratic leaders want to see more documentation."Attorney General Barrs letter raises as many questions as it answers. The fact that Special Counsel Muellers report does not exonerate the president on a charge as serious as obstruction of justice demonstrates how urgent it is that the full report and underlying documentation be made public without any further delay," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.Yet Trump told reporters Sunday that the findings represented a "complete and total exoneration," calling it "an illegal takedown that failed.""So after a long look, after a long investigation, after so many people have been so badly hurt, after not looking at the other side, where a lot of bad things happened, a lot of horrible things happened, lot of very bad things happened for our country, it was just announced there was no collusion with Russia, the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," Trump said as he prepared to board Air Force One to return to Washington from his Mar-A-Lago estate in Florida.
source: www.foxnews.com

Author(s): Caleb Parke

25 Mar 19

The Melissa Virus

The Melissa VirusAn $80 Million Cyber Crime in 1999 Foreshadowed Modern ThreatsTwo decades ago, computer virusesand public awareness of the tricks used to unleash themwere still relatively new notions to many Americans.One attack would change that in a significant way.In late March 1999, a programmer named David Lee Smith hijacked an America Online (AOL) account and used it to post a file on an Internet newsgroup named alt.sex. The posting promised dozens of free passwords to fee-based websites with adult content. When users took the bait, downloading the document and then opening it with Microsoft Word, a virus was unleashed on their computers.On March 26, it began spreading like wildfire across the Internet.The Melissa virus, reportedly named by Smith for a stripper in Florida, started by taking over victims Microsoft Word program. It then used a macro to hijack their Microsoft Outlook email system and send messages to the first 50 addresses in their mailing lists. Those messages, in turn, tempted recipients to open a virus-laden attachment by giving it such names as sexxxy.jpg or naked wife or by deceitfully asserting, Here is the document you requested ... dont show anyone else ;-). With the help of some devious social engineering, the virus operated like a sinister, automated chain letter.The virus was not intended to steal money or information, but it wreaked plenty of havoc nonetheless. Email servers at more than 300 corporations and government agencies worldwide became overloaded, and some had to be shut down entirely, including at Microsoft. Approximately one million email accounts were disrupted, and Internet traffic in some locations slowed to a crawl.Within a few days, cybersecurity experts had mostly contained the spread of the virus and restored the functionality of their networks, although it took some time to remove the infections entirely. Along with its investigative role, the FBI sent out warnings about the virus and its effects, helping to alert the public and reduce the destructive impacts of the attack. Still, the collective damage was enormous: an estimated $80 million for the cleanup and repair of affected computer systems.Finding the culprit didnt take long, thanks to a tip from a representative of AOL and nearly seamless cooperation between the FBI, New Jersey law enforcement, and other partners. Authorities traced the electronic fingerprints of the virus to Smith, who was arrested in northeastern New Jersey on April 1, 1999. Smith pleaded guilty in December 1999, and in May 2002, he was sentenced to 20 months in federal prison and fined $5,000. He also agreed to cooperate with federal and state authorities.The Melissa virus, considered the fastest spreading infection at the time, was a rude awakening to the dark side of the web for many Americans. Awareness of the danger of opening unsolicited email attachments began to grow, along with the reality of online viruses and the damage they can do.Like the Morris worm just over a decade earlier, the Melissa virus was a double-edged sword, leading to enhancements in online security while serving as inspiration for a wave of even more costly and potent cyberattacks to come.For the FBI and its colleagues, the virus was a warning sign of a major germinating threat and of the need to quickly ramp up its cyber capabilities and partnerships.Fittingly, a few months after Smith was sentenced, the Bureau put in place its new national Cyber Division focused exclusively on online crimes, with resources and programs devoted to protecting Americas electronic networks from harm. Twenty years later, with nearly everything in our society connected to the Internet, that cyber mission is more crucial than ever.
source: www.fbi.gov

25 Mar 19

Democrats 'lied to the American people' over Mueller probe, now have to answer to American people: Chaffetz

Leading Democrats repeatedly lied about President Trump colluding with Russia and now have to answer to the American people, according to former House Oversight Committee Jason Chaffetz.Chaffetz savaged Democrats during an interview on Fox & Friends Monday morning, in the wake of Attorney General William Barr released the "principal conclusions" of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's completed Russia probe in a bombshell four-page letter to Capitol Hill lawmakers.The letter stated definitively that Mueller did not establish evidence that President Trump's team or any associates of the Trump campaign had conspired with Russia to sway the 2016 election -- "despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign."WATCH FOX NEWS' LIVE COVERAGE AFTER THE RELEASE OF AG BARR'S LETTER OF 'PRINCIPAL CONCLUSIONS' FROM MUELLER'S RUSSIA PROBENot only did the president not collude it is so totally polar opposite of what Nadler and other Democrats said Jason Chaffetz on "Fox & Friends"The president is stronger politically than he has ever been right now. It was a cloud, it gave a talking point to every Democrat now people can go back and look at it and say, you all lied to us for two years, Chaffetz said.The team that Mueller put together, these werent friends of the president, they were friends of the president -- you had people from the Clinton camp on the team. If they were going to get him, they would have.The ex-Utah congressman then singled out House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., for criticism.READ THE MUELLER REPORT FINDINGSVideoAdam Schiff has essentially just lied to the American people time and time again... under the guise he had supposed classified information, he said.Not only did the president not collude it is so totally polar opposite of what Nadler and other Democrats said.They said they were going to fully accept the conclusions of Mueller, over and over again, and now there arent.WHITE HOUSE CELEBRATES RELEASE OF MUELLER REPORT SUMMARY: 'NO COLLUSION!'Chaffetzs comments came after President Trump told reporters Sunday that the release of a summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe findings represented a "complete and total exoneration," calling it "an illegal takedown that failed.""So after a long look, after a long investigation, after so many people have been so badly hurt, after not looking at the other side, where a lot of bad things happened, a lot of horrible things happened, lot of very bad things happened for our country, it was just announced there was no collusion with Russia, the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," Trump said as he prepared to board Air Force One to return to Washington from his Mar-A-Lago estate in Florida.
source: www.foxnews.com

Author(s): Liam Quinn

25 Mar 19

Bad to Worse: Avenatti Now Hit With Indictments in TWO MORE Jurisidictions (Plus Bonus Twitter Reaction!)

Just a short while ago, we learned that Trump nemesis Michael Avenatti (otherwise known as Creepy Porn Lawyer) was indicted on federal charges by the SDNY and arrested by the FBI. My fellow RedState colleague T.LaDuke reported on the initial details. Yes, thats the same SDNY that Democrats are currently building shrines to as their last hope to take down President Trump. Sometimes the Schadenfreude is just too much to handle.If thats not bad enough, things just got even worse for Avenatti as hes being hit with charges in two other jurisdictions.First New York, now California. This is especially ironic given that Avenatti has repeatedly maligned the President by accusing him for tax fraud. Turns out those who scream the loudest are often the most guilty.We arent done yet though. Its also being reported that the local Los Angeles DA is going to charge him with embezzlement related to his business ventures.Los Angeles is expected to charge Michael Avenatti there with other crimes including he embezzled a clients money to pay his expenses and debts as well as those of his coffee business and law firm. In addition, the U.S. Attorneys office for Los Angeles is expected to charge Michael Avenatti for defrauding a bank using phony tax returns to obtain millions of dollars and loans.I dont know what to make of these last few days except that theyve been incredibly damaging to the media and Democrat politicians everywhere. Well, that and that theyve been unbelievably hilarious. Remember, these people embraced Avenatti, some even encouraging him to run for President. Just like they invested their entire being into the false collusion narrative, they put all of their credibly (or lack thereof) into propping up Avenatti in the hope he might take down Trump somehow.Well, so much for that.Id get all serious and say this blows their credibly, but that was gone a long time ago. Whats really important now is sitting back and laughing our collective heads off at all of this.Enjoy.
source: www.redstate.com

Author(s): Bonchie

25 Mar 19

Police arrest 113 for cultism, recover eight cars from snatchers in Anambra - Daily Post Nigeria

The police in Anambra State have arrested 113 suspected members of different secret cults.The state Commissioner of Police, Rabiu Ladodo, who paraded the suspects before journalists, said they were arrested in different locations in the state.Ladodo said the arrests were carried out by the Command Special Anti-Cult unit within two weeks of operations.He said that while 45 of the suspects have been charged to court, 35 were screened out and let off the hook, while 33 others were still being investigated.A text presented by the police commissioner read in part, Exhibits recovered from the suspects include one browning and locally made single barrel pistol, 7 live ammunition, axes, daggers, machetes and some quantities of dry leaves suspected to be Indian hemp.The commissioner also paraded a gang of robbers who specialised in car snatching, from whom a total of eight vehicles were recovered.He said, Police operatives attached to the Command Special Anti Cult unit went on investigation to Asaba in Delta State and arrested one Chukwuezugo Paul, 42.Discreet investigation led to the arrest of his accomplice and gang leader, one Micheal Obinna, aka Mayor.Ladodo added that the same syndicate robbed a woman of her Toyota Venza car at gunpoint.Exhibits recovered include 7 vehicles comprising of 1 black Toyota Venza, 2 Lexus 350, 1 Toyota Rav 4 Jeep, all Sports Utility Vehicles(SUV) and 3 Toyota Corolla cars.Others include: 1 barreta pistol with 10 rounds of 9mm ammunition, 1 cutlass, 3 iPhones, 1 Samsung phone and another black Lexus 350 car, he said.
source: dailypost.ng

Author(s): Joe Chukindi

25 Mar 19

Don't Let Them Fool You. Robert Mueller Is No Hero or Straight-Shooter and Here's Why.

Now that the Mueller investigation has been revealed itself to be the fraud that many of us have said it was for over a year (Im not a johnny-come-lately to this belief If Muellers Indictment Isnt A Nothingburger You Could Be Forgiven For Making That Mistake), one of the common refrains in the media, on the left, and among NeverTrump nutters (yes, I know that they are essentially the same thing) is that everyone on the right who challenged the ethics of Muellers investigation for two years will now be praising Muellers evenhandedness.In my view, nothing could be further from the truth.First and foremost, we have no need to overlook the abuses of Muellers investigation (extorting a guilty plea from Michael Flynn by threatening to indict his son, a pre-dawn raid on Paul Manaforts home, using a SWAT team to force entry into Roger Stones home over the king of chickensh** indictments) or the raw partisanship made in his selection of his team. His senior deputy was a guest at Hillarys victory party on Election Night and shamelessly ass-smooched Sally Yates over her illegal decision to refuse to defend President Trumps so-called travel ban, simply because he could not find any evidence of what he was investigating, that is:any links and/or coordination bet ween the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump;Lets be serious. By the time that Mueller was appointed, the nature of the Steele Dossier had been subjected to scrutiny by both the FBI and the intelligence community. It is doubtful that Mueller uncovered anything that was not known. Without the dossier there was actually no allegation of anything other than the Russians acting pretty much exactly the way Russians act. Again, the information about the Russian activities on Facebook and Twitter seem to have been handed over to Muellers team by other agencies. We knew before Trump was sworn in that there were on compromises of voting machines by Russia (thought there were massive compromises of the ballot boxes in Democrat cities). Logic tells you that Mueller could have put that investigation to bed in short order. In fact, he had an obligation to do so. Him dragging this investigation out for two years to enable score settling with Paul Manafort (see Does One Of Muellers Prosecutors Have A Personal Animus Against Paul Manafort?) effectively sapped the early momentum of the Trump administration and served as a basis to question the very legitimacy of his election.Indeed, there is circumstantial evidence that looks like that Mueller knew he not only had nothing but made a calculated decision to extend his investigation by taking a handful of high profile actions that dovetailed pretty neatly with concurrent leaks appearing in the media from sources unknown. As a point of departure, lets take this Twitter thread from Byron York on the signs that there was nothing in Muellers investigation concerning Trump and Russia:And yet, we have this:https://twitter.com/i/web/status/1109624350020431872The entire thread, via Threadreaderapp:PapaD wasnt CollusionManafort wasnt CollusionCohen wasnt CollusionAnd every one of those cases was dragged out and delayedWhy: Mueller wanted to entangle them in legal jeopardy, then shut them up, to leave the *possibility* of Collusion tangling with the public/mediaJune 27 2017: Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham ask the FBI/DOJ for copies of all FISA warrants sought in the Trump/Russia investigation. They reference that Steeles reporting may have been used to bolster the FISA on Carter Page (that had just been renewed for the final time)And they want a response by mid July:grassley.senate.gov/news/news-releI think Mueller feared getting shut down before he even got started, as the original predicate for the investigation was going to unravel as soon as those FISAs and related docs were turned overIf Muller ever testifies to Congress this is a crucial time period to exploreIf Mueller knew there was no collusion and wanted to inflict the maximum possible damage on Trump, how would he have acted differently.Senator Lindsey Graham is on the right track. We need a reckoning. We to take a serious look at how we got to the point where a opposition research document prepared under contract to the Clinton campaign and is more likely a product of Russian intelligence than anything else was laundered and spun as though it was the Holy Grail of the intelligence community (see my post The Steele Memo Is Much More Likely Russian Dezinformatsiya Than It Is Intelligence).But that reckoning, though necessary, is not sufficient. We need a serious examination of how an investigation that found absolutely nothing took two years. We need a non-insulting-to-the-intelligence explanation of why it was decided to allow the accusations of collusion with Russia against President Trump were allowed to fester for at least a year after they were known to be false.
source: www.redstate.com

Author(s): streiff

25 Mar 19

Report: Mark Geragos is Co-Conspirator in Avenatti's Alleged Extortion Scheme

High-profile attorney Mark Geragos is Michael Avenattis co-conspirator in an alleged extortion scheme unveiled Monday by federal prosecutors, according to the Wall Street Journal.Geragos represents Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who is accused of staging a hate crime against himself. Geragos was the lead attorney in the grievance filed by Colin Kaepernick against the NFL. In which the former 49er accused the NFL of collusion, in an attempt to keep him from re-entering the league as punishment for the anthem protests he began in 2016. He is also a CNN legal analyst. It is unknown whether Geragos, who was not named in the criminal complaint, has been arrested or cooperating with investigators.Avenatti, who shot to fame by representing adult film star Stormy Daniels, was arrested on Monday after being accused of trying to extort money from Nike and embezzling a clients money.Details about the accusations contained in separate cases filed in New York and Los Angeles were to be disclosed at press conferences in both cities.The celebrity lawyer represented Daniels in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen.According to the complaint filed in New York and involving Nike, the celebrity lawyer devised a scheme to extort a company by means of an interstate communication by threatening to damage the companys reputation if the company did not agree to make multi-million-dollar payments to Avenatti and his co-conspirator, and further agree to pay an additional $1.5 million to a client of Avenattis.The complaint states that Avenatti, 48, and his co-conspirator met with attorneys for Nike on March 19 and threatened to disclose damaging information about the company unless it made the payments.The following day, in a phone conversation with the attorneys, Avenatti stated that if his demands were not met he would take 10 billion dollars off your clients market cap Im not fucking around, according to the complaint.Less than an hour before his arrest in New York was announced, Avenatti tweeted that he would be holding a press conference on Tuesday to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike that we have uncovered.This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball, he added.It was not clear what potential scandal he might have been referring to.According to the complaint filed in Los Angeles, Avenatti who had once entertained the possibility of running for president embezzled a clients money in order to pay his own expenses and debts and also defrauded a bank by using phony tax returns to obtain millions of dollars in loans.The AFP contributed to this report.
source: www.breitbart.com

Author(s): Joshua Caplan

25 Mar 19

Judge overseeing key Jeffrey Epstein-related suit dies

An elderly federal judge presiding over a key lawsuit relating to financier pedophile Jeffrey Epstein died Sunday, adding another twist to the drawn-out legal saga and to efforts to unseal still-secret details about the conduct of Epstein, his enablers and one of his accusers.Manhattan-based U.S. District Court Judge Robert Sweet passed away Sunday at age 96, the court announced. Sweet was appointed by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, confirmed that same year and continued to hear and rule on cases through the last few months.Sweet was assigned to a lawsuit that emerged from the aftermath of Epsteins controversial plea deal a decade ago, in which he escaped federal charges by pleading guilty to two prostitution-related offenses in state court. Epstein ended up spending 13 months in jail, with daily furloughs that allowed him to work in his office.Critics have denounced the plea deal and the government official who negotiated it: Alexander Acosta, then the top federal prosecutor in south Florida and now U.S. secretary of Labor. The sentence, critics say, was excessively lenient for a man who faced allegations of procuring dozens of teenage girls for sex acts.The sex trafficking lawsuit that Sweet oversaw pitted one of Epsteins alleged victims, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, against a longtime friend of Epstein and heir to a newspaper fortune, Ghislaine Maxwell.Morning Shift newsletterGet the latest on employment and immigration, every weekday morning in your inbox.EmailSign UpBy signing up you agree to receive email newsletters or alerts from POLITICO. You can unsubscribe at any time.In exchange for financial settlements, Giuffre and many other victims waived their right to sue Epstein. But those waivers did not preclude lawsuits against some others, like Maxwell, who were alleged to have facilitated Epsteins efforts to hire teenagers to provide massages that often involved sex.Maxwell denied the allegations but settled the suit on the eve of trial in 2017 after Sweet turned down her lawyers motion to shut down the case.The settlement did not end the controversy, however. During the course of the case, Sweet approved blanket sealing of many of the submissions from both sides, detailing some of the best arguments and evidence they intended to present if the case went to trial.The secrecy eventually prompted motions from Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, author and social media personality Mike Cernovich and the Miami Herald to unseal some or all of the records in suit.Dershowitz, a former lawyer for Epstein, is seeking unsealing because he says the court files contain evidence that can prove him innocent of claims Giuffre and another woman made that they had sex with him at Epsteins direction. Cernovich has said hes offended by the secrecy in the case and eager to expose pedophilia among American elites. The Miami Herald sought the information as part of reporting for a series it wound up publishing last year.Sweet turned down the motions, prompting a series of appeals.At an argument session earlier this month, three 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals judges seemed to view the secrecy in the suit as excessive and unjustified.All the judges on the panel appeared to favor making some records from the case public soon, but there was some discussion about the process for considering opening all the records. One question debated at the argument was whether Sweet should oversee that process or whether it should be handed over to another judge. That question is now moot.Maxwell has opposed unsealing records in the case. In addition, last week, two anonymous individuals came forward to urge the appeals court not to release information in the court files about third parties who may have been discussed during depositions in the case.Interest in the Epstein case escalated following the publication of the Herald series and in the wake of a judges ruling last month that federal prosecutors, including Acosta, violated federal law by misleading alleged victims about the status of the case against Epstein in the weeks leading up to the plea deal in 2008.
source: www.politico.com

Author(s): Josh Gerstein

25 Mar 19

BETO Constituent Arrested for Capital Murder May Believe INFANTICIDE is Her Legal Right -

The Born Alive Bill Failed in the U.S. Senate just days before a teenager of El Paso decided to kill her newborn child because she didnt want it.How seared must a conscience be to stand on the floor of the U.S. Senate and object to protecting living babies?Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionErica Gomez of El Paso, who is seventeen years old faces capital murder charges for the Feb. 9 killing of her newborn child by way of 9 stab wounds.According to Fox and court documents, Gomez gave birth to a baby girl on February 9, 2019 in the bathroom of her house. She wrapped the infant girl in a bathrobe and put her in the neighbors shed. She then went to sleep. Her mother observed that she was bleeding and took Gomez to the hospital where it was determined by the medical staff that she had a miscarriage according to the court document.Gomez did not tell her parents, medical staff or any law enforcement that she had given birth as she was scared of consequences. That evening a neighbors child found the young infant girl in the shed and brought it inside the house. They called the police who came and observed the infant that was in the neighbors home.They determined the child was that of Gomez and a forensic examination and autopsy ensued.The infant girl was delivered naturally and there were nine entry wound sites. The infant was stabbed 5 times in her back, once on her side and three times in the neck. This was determined by Dr. Diaz who performed the forensic examination. She also determined that the child was found 12 hours after birth and died to to homicidal violence.Gomez, a student El Dorado High School was arrested 14 days after the murder and is being held at El Paso County jail on an $800,000 bond facing capital murder charges.RELATED: Kermit Gosnell: The Poster Child Of the Democratic PartyI reached out to Gomez classmates and friends to find out what Gomez story was. All of them range between the ages of 15-17 and as minors I promised not to reveal their names and or identities.Many didnt know she was pregnant, others claimed she was going to keep the baby and sell it, others said she was going to move out and live with her boyfriend who was stringing her along. The stories were conflicting but the majority of them in the chat group we created said it was an abortion and she shouldnt be in jail.Its not murder because she wanted an abortion and just did it herself. She shouldnt be in jail.Gomez classmateMany of them quoted the snippets of coverage by MSM who claimed killing a child up until the time of birth is a right of womens health. All these young children believe they have the right to end the life of an infant because My Body My Right.What this young lady did was murder. She stabbed an innocent young baby girl 9 times and abandoned her in a shed and went straight to back to bed. The rhetoric of the radical leftists MSM along with the educational system that purports radical grievances and ideologies has torn the fabric of basic morals and the sanctity of life.Beto who is running for President on the Democratic ticket was confronted on Third-Trimester abortions by Millie Weaver a reporter for Infowars.I reached out to Betos campaign team for a comment multiple times one person from his Presidential campaign team in El Paso with broken English said :I dont know of the case which you speak of but as President he intends for every woman to have the right to abort a baby she created at any stage of the pregnancy.I followed up with a question:So, if its easier to give birth to the baby and then kill it to save money is that an abortion or OK?The answer was chilling.Some people dont have money to go to the hospital its expensive. Her body her choice P@t@ (explicit Spanish word for prostitute)! and the call was disconnected.Who is teaching these young girls and women that a human life is so worthless?
source: toresays.com

Author(s): Tore

25 Mar 19

John Brennan Pulls a 180 on MSNBC: Says He Might Have Received Bad Information - Sara A. Carter

For those that remember all the statements that former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan made on Trump-Russia investigation, his latest appearance on MSNBC this morning might come as a huge surprise:Brennan on MSNBC: Well, I dont know if I received bad information but I think I suspected there was more than there actually was. I am relieved that its been determined there was not a criminal conspiracy with the Russian government over our election.
source: saraacarter.com

Author(s): Jennie Taer

25 Mar 19

SDNY Geoffrey Berman has been "recused" for unknown reasons.

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, today announced the selection of Audrey Strauss as Deputy U.S. Attorney and Craig A. Stewart as Chief Counsel to the U.S. Attorney. Ms. Strauss will replace Robert Khuzami on his departure April 12. Rob will return to his home in Washington DC after commuting to the Office weekly while serving as Deputy U.S. Attorney. Mr. Stewart, who is leaving his partnership at Arnold & Porter, will return to the Office on March 25, 2019. At that firm, his work consisted primarily of representing companies and individuals in connection with civil and appellate litigation and investigations by federal and state prosecutors and regulators. Mr. Stewart served as an Assistant United States Attorney from August 1987 through October 1998 and worked in both the Civil and Criminal Divisions. During his tenure, Mr. Stewart spent more than three years in the Civil Division, handling a mix of affirmative and defensive litigation, and then eight years in the Criminal Division, where he worked in the General Crimes, Narcotics, Special Narcotics, and Organized Crime units. He also held a number of supervisory positions, including Chief of the Narcotics Unit, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division and, finally, Chief Appellate Attorney. Mr. Stewart earned his Juris Doctor degree at Harvard Law School in 1983, and also holds bachelor of arts and masters degrees from Yale University, where he graduated suma cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. Following his graduation from law school, Mr. Stewart worked as a law clerk for the Honorable Constance Baker Motley, then the Chief United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York.In making the appointments, Manhattan U.S Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: Rob Khuzami is an extraordinary and brilliant lawyer who has upheld the ideals of integrity and professionalism that characterize the work of this Office. There can be no higher praise. As an example of his extraordinary commitment to the Office, Rob has been commuting weekly from Washington, D.C., since January 2018. While his desire to continue to serve remains strong, he understandably has decided to return home to his family. Audrey Strauss, who has been invaluable as Senior Counsel, will undoubtedly continue the important work of the Deputy U.S. Attorney. Additionally, I am pleased that Craig Stewart will be joining my leadership team as Chief Counsel. I am certain that Audrey and Craig will support the Office with excellence and insightShake up at Southern District .
source: www.justice.gov

25 Mar 19

Alleged Dark Web Child Pornography Facilitator Extradited to the United States to Face Federal Charges

Irish authorities extradited a dual national citizen of the United States and Ireland to the United States to face federal charges that he allegedly advertised and distributed child pornography on the dark web. The extradition and federal charges were announced by Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Departments Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur for the District of Maryland and Assistant Director Robert Johnson of the FBIs Criminal Investigative Division.Eric Eoin Marques, 33, arrived in the United States on March 23, and had his initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy J. Sullivan in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland. An amended criminal complaint was filed on Aug. 8, 2013, and unsealed today at Marques initial appearance. Marques is charged with conspiracy to advertise child pornography, conspiracy to distribute child pornography, aiding and abetting the advertising of child pornography, and aiding and abetting the distribution of child pornography. At the hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sullivan ordered that Marques be detained pending trial or a detention hearing scheduled for March 27, 2019 at 11:30 a.m.Child exploitation sites on the dark web present a grave danger to children and unprecedented challenges to the worlds law enforcement agencies, said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski. The complaint unsealed today demonstrates the Departments commitment to pursuing those accused of serious child pornography offenses wherever they may hide on the web and in the world, and to seeking justice for the countless children that are victimized by those who facilitate this horrendous conduct.Criminals cannot hide on the dark web or in foreign countries, said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur. We will find them and bring them to justice. We are grateful to Irish authorities for their assistance to bring Eric Marques to the United States to face these charges.Todays extradition of Eric Marques demonstrates that no matter where you are in the world, the FBI and its international law enforcement partners will be diligent in their efforts to hold you accountable for your criminal activity, said FBI Assistant Director Johnson. The FBI will never stop working to ensure justice is served for the vulnerable child victims who are unable stand up for themselves.According to the amended criminal complaint, between July 24, 2008 and July 29, 2013, Marques conspired to advertise and distribute child pornography, and aided and abetted the advertising and distribution of child pornography, by allegedly operating a free, anonymous web hosting service (AHS) located on the dark web, an area of the internet that is only accessible by means of special software, allowing users and website operators to remain anonymous or untraceable. The AHS allegedly hosted websites that allowed users to view and share images documenting the sexual abuse of children, including the abuse of prepubescent minors, violent sexual abuse, and bestiality.According to the amended criminal complaint, as of July 12, 2013, one site hosted on the AHS reported that there were almost 1.4 million files that were uploaded and accessible by individuals who visit the hidden service. During 2012 and 2013, FBI special agents and employees using computers in Maryland downloaded more than one million files from that website. As part of the investigation, those files were reviewed and nearly all of the files depict children who are engaging in sexually explicit conduct with adults or other children, posed nude and/or in such a manner as to expose their genitals, in various states of undress, or depict child erotica. A substantial majority of the images downloaded by the FBI depict prepubescent minor children who are fully or partially nude or engaged in sexually explicit conduct.The complaint alleges that during the time of the conspiracy, the IP address associated with the AHS was assigned to a computer server associated with and exclusively used by Marques.A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc. For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.justice.gov/psc and click on the Resources tab on the left of the page. The investigation was conducted by the FBI Violent Crimes Against Children Section and Legal Attach London, Irish law enforcement authorities, An Garda Sochna and EUROPOL. The Department of Justices Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in bringing Marques to the United States and procuring foreign evidence during the investigation.The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Chief Keith A. Becker and Trial Attorney Ralph Paradiso of the Criminal Divisions Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kristi N. OMalley and Thomas M. Sullivan of the District of Maryland.
source: www.justice.gov

25 Mar 19

Graham Calls for New Special Counsel to Probe Justice Department

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., announced his committees will launch a probe into the Justice Departments alleged abuse of spying, widely believed to be the predicate for investigations into alleged ties between President Donald Trump and Russia. Im going to get answers to this. If no one else cares, it seems that Republicans do, Graham said at a Capitol Hill press conference Monday. Because if the shoe were on the other foot, it would be front-page news all over the world. The double standard here has been striking and, quite frankly, disappointing.Grahams announcement comes after special counsel Robert Muellers report concluded his 675-day investigation that determined there was no such collusion, as many critics of Trump have alleged without evidence. A House Intelligence Committee memo in 2018 asserted that the use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page prompted the investigation. The memo contended that the basis for the warrant was the Steele dossier, an unverified opposition research document against Trump. Graham said he would like to see a special prosecutor appointed to investigate the matter. Id like to find somebody, like a Mr. Mueller, that can look into what happened with the FISA warrants, the counterintelligence investigation. Am I right to be concerned? Graham said. It seems pretty bad on its facebut there are some people that are never going to accept the Mueller report, but by any reasonable standard, Mueller thoroughly investigated the Trump campaign. You cannot say that about the other side of the story, Graham continued.Graham noted he has called for the appointment of another special counsel since 2017. I hope Mr. Barr will appoint somebody outside the current system to look into these allegations, somebody we all trust, and let them do what Mueller did, Graham said. Before William Barr took the helm in his second run as attorney general in February, his predecessor named U.S. Attorney John Huber of Utah to work with the Justice Departments Office of Inspector General to investigate potential improper or criminal conduct regarding FISA and related matters by the Justice Department during the Obama administration. However, Graham is seeking a prosecutor outside of the Justice Department.
source: www.dailysignal.com

Author(s): Fred Lucas

25 Mar 19

Marshall Islands lays first charges to combat baby traffickers

The charges mark the country's first legal move to stop the flow of illegal adoptions of Marshallese babies in the United States.The three accused are all Marshall Islanders.Two are from Majuro and the other is resident in Arkansas which is understood to be a popular destination for pregnant Marshallese mothers who adopt out their babies.The three accused made an initial court appearance this week before Judge Witten Philippo, who scheduled a preliminary hearing for April 12 where arguments will be presented in detail.The Chief Public Defender, Russell Kun, is representing the defendants: Justin Aine (46), Aiti "Hatty" Anidrep (49) and Sally Abon (53).Assistant Attorney General Meuton Laiden filed charges in the High Court on March 14.Justin Aine of Arkansas was charged with one count each of trafficking in persons, unlawful solicitation and monetary inducement, while the other two were charged with one count each of aiding and abetting, and unlawful solicitation.The charges relate to allegations they attempted to recruit a woman from Majuro to provide her baby for adoption in Arkansas.Our correspondent in the Marshall Islands, Giff Johnson, said there has been a marked decrease in legal adoptions over the past 15 years, "as the adoptions directly in the US escalated.""Nobody really knows the numbers but there are just dozens and dozens of adoptions going on annually in the US by using the visa-free access that Marshall Islanders enjoy," said Giff Johnson.Using the visa-free access for the purpose of adoption is specifically forbidden by the terms of the Compact of Free Association, the treaty between the two countries which allows Marshall Islanders to live and work in the US.However the ease of travel makes it difficult to track whether the terms are being abused.Charges filed at the High Court allege that between October 2017 and January 2018, Mr Aine "recruited, transported or received another person by means of giving payments or benefits" to gain control over another person.It's alleged the three accused recruited Susan Koraja (who was pregnant at the time) by giving her US$120 cash and the promise of US$10,000 in exchange for her child for adoption.The charges say Ms Anidrep and Ms Abon recruited Ms Koraja by visiting her many times while she was in Majuro hospital to deliver her baby, relaying communications from Justin Aine, and assisting her to get travel documents so the baby could be adopted in the US.Beyond this prosecution, there are many lawyers and recruiters involved as demand is high for newborns among US families looking to adopt, said Giff Johnson, and it's big money."They fly them up to Hawaii, or Utah or Arkansas to deliver their babies and put them up in apartments where they have multiple pregnant Marshallese women waiting to deliver and then hand their babies off for adoption," Giff Johnson said.It's alleged that Susan Koraja was promised US$10,000 and help with moving her family to the US if she gave her baby up.According to Giff Johnson these fees and costs are considerably less than what's involved through the legal adoption process."It's more costly and it's much more time consuming to do it the legal way via the Marshall Islands rather than just flying people up and just show up with the baby," said Giff Johnson.The legal adoption process requires substantial vetting in the two countries and further travel to the Marshall Islands and the Philippines to secure US citizenship for the child.
source: amp.rnz.co.nz

Author(s): Rnz

24 Mar 19

Germany charges couple who tested ricin on hamster with plotting...

A Tunisian man and his German wife who bought ricin and tested the lethal toxin on a hamster have been charged with plotting Islamist-motivated attacks using a biological weapon, German prosecutors said on Thursday.The GBA Federal Prosecutors Office said that 30-year-old Sief Allah H. and 43-year-old Yasmin H. had acquired knowledge on how to turn ricin into a weapon and ordered 3,300 grains of the poison, which can be found in castor beans, online.Sief Allah H. was arrested in Cologne in June and police detained Yasmin H. a month later. The couple also face charges of planning attacks using metal balls and homemade explosives as well as seeking membership of Islamic State.Prosecutors did not say if the two suspects had a chosen a date or location for their planned attacks.Germany has been on high alert since December 2016, when an Islamist militant from Tunisia killed 12 people by driving a truck into crowds at a Christmas market in Berlin.Prosecutors last month charged a Russian man who knew the perpetrator of the Christmas market attack with plotting to bomb another target in Germany.On Thursday, they said Sief Allah H. and Yasmin H. started plotting for attacks in 2018 after Sief Allah H. twice failed to cross into Syria from Turkey a year earlier.Once he returned to Germany, he started posting Islamic State propaganda on the internet, the GBA said.
source: www.reuters.com

24 Mar 19

K-Pop Corner: Jung Joon-young under arrest in sex scandal

Jung Joon-young has been arrested on charges of illegally filming and sharing sexually explicit videos of around 10 women without their consent.Last Thursday, the Seoul Central District Court issued a warrant for the South Korean singer and TV personality hours after he appeared at a court hearing during which he admitted to the charges.I am sorry. I made a big and inexcusable mistake, and I admit my guilt, the artist told reporters with teary eyes as he read from a note, Yonhap News Agency reported. I will accept the court decision without a battle. I apologise to the ladies who have suffered because of me. I will live my days repenting for the sins.Jung, 30, has been accused of secretly recording and uploading the videos on the KakaoTalk messenger chat room with other entertainers, including Seungri and former FT Island member Choi Jong-hoon.The court said one of the reasons for Jungs arrest was because he could destroy key evidence after deleting data from one of the three phones submitted to the police.The singer is also accused of having ties with police to get rid of evidence in a similar case involving his ex-girlfriend back in 2016, in which he was cleared of all charges.Dropped by his management company MakeUS Entertainment, Jung is the first celebrity to be arrested in the Burning Sun club scandal fallout. A nightclub employee who goes by Mr Kim has also been arrested after police questioning.Seungri, who abruptly announced his decision to quit the entertainment industry, is also under investigation over the videos and is under suspicion of violating the countrys prostitution laws.The scandal has caused an uproar in the country, so much so that South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for a thorough investigation.The courts decision for Jung is expected to be announced late on Thursday.
source: gulfnews.com

Author(s): Samar Khouri, Special to tabloid!

24 Mar 19

HMD admits the Nokia 7 Plus was sending personal data to China

HMD is in hot water following a report from Norwegian site NRKbeta, which found that HMD's Nokia 7 Plus was sending users' personal information to a server in China. HMD responded to the report, admitting, "Our device activation client meant for another country was mistakenly included in the software package of a single batch of Nokia 7 Plus."FURTHER READINGChinas democracy includes mandatory apps, mass chat surveillanceNRKbeta's investigation found the Nokia 7 Plus was sending the IMEI, MAC ID, and the SIM ICCID, all of which are unique hardware or SIM card identifiers that could be used to track an individual. There was also rough location information, as the device sent the ID of the nearest cell tower. NRKbeta's article is in Norwegian, but through Google Translate the site claims this data was sent every time the phone was switched on and that the phone was sending this data for several months.ARS TRENDING VIDEOTeach the Controversy: DowsingHMD admits this data ended up on "a third-party server" but claims the data "was never processed." The company identifies the information sent as "activation data" and then says that "no person could have been identified based on this data." HMD's claim here is a bit strange, considering the entire point of "activation data" is to identify someone so they can be billed for cellular access.NRKbeta says Chinese server in question was http://zzhc.vnet.cn, which apparently belongs to the state-owned China Telecom. China has been a major focus for HMD, and the country often gets the company's Nokia phones before the rest of the world. HMD says its activation data ended up in China due to shipping the wrong "country variant" of an activation app.FURTHER READINGStrange snafu misroutes domestic US Internet traffic through China TelecomAccording to NRKBeta, HMD has already said, "This error has already been identified and fixed in February 2019" and that "all affected devices have received this fix and nearly all devices have already installed it." Presumably that means any Nokia 7 Plus owners running the "March 2019" Android security patches should have the update.Just fixing the issue probably won't be the end of this situation, though. There's a good chance this was a violation of Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDRP), which limits the exporting of user data outside of the EU. HMD is based in Finland, so Finland's Data Protection Ombudsman is considering investigating the incident. HMD said it "takes the security and privacy of its consumers seriously" and that it will cooperate with any investigation.
source: arstechnica.com

Author(s): Ron Amadeo

24 Mar 19

The Ex-Model Who Claimed Silvio Berlusconi Hosted Satanic Rituals in His House Died From Apparent Poisoning

Imane Fadil, the ex-model who claimed to have witnessed demonic rituals at Silvio Berlusconis mansion died mysteriously on March 1st at age 34. She was writing a book called I Saw the Devil.Published 5 days ago on March 19, 2019 By Vigilant Citizen Imane Fadil was a Moroccan ex-model who became a celebrity after becoming a key witness in the 2013 Rubygate trials which accused the media mogul and ex-Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi of child prostitution. Fadil was also looking to be a witness in a related investigation (dubbed Ruby ter) that is still ongoing.In 2018, Fadil claimed in an interview that Berlusconis infamous parties lead to dark, satanic rituals. She was also in the process of writing a tell-all book about Rubygate and the dark secrets of Berlusconi. The name of the projected book was quite evocative: I Met the Devil.However, in the past weeks, things dramatic turn in the past weeks. Imane Fadil died in a hospital room in Milan on March 1st after a month of agony. Media sources reported her death only 15 days after the fact, mostly because authorities announced the opening of a homicide investigation. Indeed, the cause of Fadils death is currently believed to be murder by radioactive poisoning.Heres a look at the bizarre story.RubygateKarima El Mahroug aka Ruby Rubacuori.In 2013, Berlusconi was found guilty of paying for the sexual services of dancer Ruby Rubacuori when she was a minor. He was also charged with abusing his political powers in an attempt to cover up the relationship.17-year old Moroccan belly dancer and alleged prostitute Karima El Mahroug (better known as Ruby Rubacuori) claimed to have been given $10,000 by Berlusconi at parties at his private villas. The girl told prosecutors in Milan that these events were like orgies where Berlusconi and 20 young women performed an African-style ritual known as the bunga bunga in the nude. Daily Beast, Berlusconis Bunga Bunga OrgiesArcore, Berlusconis private villa, where the parties took place.In 2014, Berlusconi filed an appeal and managed to get the convictions against him overturned. However, the Ruby ter investigation is still ongoing which alleges that Berlusconi bribed 18 girls that participated in his parties to speak positively about Berlusconi. A month prior to her hospitalization, Fadil had requested to be a witness in this trial.Infamous InterviewFadils last interview, given to the Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano on April 2018, addressed topics that were not discussed in court: Satanic rituals taking place in hidden rooms inside Berlusconis mansion. Heres a rough translation of this infamous interview.Imane Fadil, a model of Moroccan origin, was just over 25 years old when she was invited for the first time to Arcore, the home of Berlusconi, in 2011. She participated in eight elegant dinners and during some of these, according to her, she saw everything: The girls, the stripteases, and the Bunga Bunga parties. She then stopped attending and went to the public prosecutors office to reveal everything she had seen, complete with names and surnames. The result? Photographers, interviews, headlines, lawsuits. Today, Imane is 33 years old and she is about to finish a book that will reveal everything you need to know about Berlusconi.Today, after a few years, how do you remember that whole affair?It was a devastating thing, impossible to describe. At first I was alone against everyone, nobody believed my version.What did everyone think?That I was telling those things because I wanted money and success.And how was it?I used to go to Arcore because I hoped it would be enough to get into that circle and get a job (in television). Then, I understood what was truly happening and I spoke up.Were you defamed at that time?Yes, by all. The first was Emilio Fede. But then I sued him and they condemned him, now theres the appeal. He also sued me, but his case was dismissed because I said the truth and he didnt.()Your ugliest memory?The last night I went there, there were all these naked girls dancing. One of them was laying on the ground and was wearing only a loincloth and she was shaking desperately, staring at me. Her eyes seemed to say: Dont judge me, help me!. A terrifying memory.Have you ever witnessed explicit scenes?No, I did not.And who told you this happened?Well, the last night a girl came to me and told me: Look, to get something you have to do something more. And I understood everything. Until that moment I had hoped I would never be asked for such a thing.Now you are writing a book. Why?Because I want to tell everything. This is not limited to a powerful man who had girls. There is much more to this story, much more serious things.Explain.Its not easy to tell, it will be the first time I do it. But the time has come.Please go ahead.This gentleman is part of a sect that invokes the devil. Yes, I know Im saying something strong, but it is true. And many others know this.They know what?That continuous obscenities happened in that house. A sort of sect, made up of only women, dozens and dozens of complicit females.Did you see these rituals?Lets say I have many clues. In that room where Bunga Bunga was held there was a small room with clothes, all the same, like tunics, about twenty or thirty. What were they for? And then there was another small underground room with a swimming pool, with another room next to it, totally dark, without any light. An underground pool and a room without lights? Why?Weak clues. It could be a relaxation area. Is it a fact that you have not seen any actual Satanic rituals or anything like that?Look, Ive seen worse. Things that are difficult to explain briefly.Please try.I saw strange, sinister presences. Ive been a psychic since I was a child due to my father being was sanctified. And I tell you that, in that house, there are disturbing presences. Theres evil in there, Ive seen it, theres Lucifer.Do you know that saying such things could be perceived as crazy?Of course I know, but I dont care what people will say. I never said anything because I had no evidence. Now I have it.Do you have proof? Please show it.No, not yet, Ill do it later. I just have to finish this book. And then the world will know. Il Fatto Quotidiano, Imane Fadil: Le notti di Bunga Bunga a casa di Berlusconi. Ad Arcore una setta di Satana con tuniche e ritiI Met the DevilAt the time of her death, Fadil was looking for a publisher that was courageous enough to print her book entitled I Met the Devil. Immediately after her death, the draft of the book was seized by prosecutors. The Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano published a small excerpt of the book that was shared by Fadil in 2018. Heres a rough translation.She saw the girls in a sort of circle, with Berlusconi at the center as a pivot: A kind of adoration, with some nude, others half-naked, and others disguised, wandering through the underground living room. It was then that Imane found courage and went to Berlusconi to tell him that she wanted to go home. But Silvio told her to wait. In the basement, Imane saw what she called a sort of brothel with naked girls and half-naked in the pool. There were also minors who perhaps did not realize what was happening.The virgin maiden arrived, Imane repeated with horror. They were announcing the very young selection for that evening. Il Fatto Quotidiano, Imane Fadil, il suo libro mai pubblicato: Io, in quel bordello sotterraneoStrange Circumstances Surrounding Her DeathFadil died on March 1st after a long period of agony as her vital functions progressively shut down. She experienced her first symptoms on January 29th. She was then hospitalized for nearly a month where she underwent a long series of tests as doctors were looking for the cause of her pain. During this time, Fadil told her brother and lawyer that she feared she had been poisoned.After her death, it was revealed that she was probably poisoned by a very strange cocktail of radioactive elements that caused the progressive deterioration of her internal organs. These elements are not freely available to the general public.On the day of her death, the Judicial Authority seized Fadils body and the entirety of her medical records.When news broke about Fadils death, Berlusconi commented:It is always sad when a young person dies. However, I never met her this person.P.S. If you appreciated this article, please consider showing your support through a small monthly donation on Patreon. If you prefer, you can also make a one-time donation here. Thank you.
source: vigilantcitizen.com

Author(s): Vigilant Citizen

24 Mar 19

Mueller investigation found no Trump, Russia conspiracy, attorney general says

Robert Mueller is special counsel for the Department of Justice. He oversees the investigation into Russia's possible connections to the 2016 election and Trump campaign. By Alexa Ard | Maureen Chowdhury | Patrick GleasonAttorney General William Barr sent a letter to Congress Sunday briefing lawmakers on key findings from a report filed Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller, whose two-year investigation probed possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.The Special Counsels investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, the letter read.After investigating possible obstruction of investigations into Russian contacts with the Trump campaign, Mueller decided not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, but instead presented the evidence without stating a conclusion, the letter reads. Muellers report says that while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him, Barrs letter reads.Barrs letter says that Mueller left it to his office to determine whether further charges should be brought, and says that Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein have determined they should not based on the evidence presented in the report. The report identifies no actions that, in our judgment, constitutes obstructive conduct, had a nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding, and were done with corrupt intent, Barrs letter reads.President Trump said before boarding Air Force One on Sunday that it was a complete and total exoneration.This was an illegal take down that failed and hopefully somebodys going to be looking at the other side, Trump told reporters, adding that it was a shame that our country had to go through this.Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, called the letter very brief in a Tweet on Sunday afternoon. Nadler said on Twitter that the Justice Department owes the public more than just a brief synopsis and decision not to go any further in their work.Nadler also called on Barr to testify before his committee, citing very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report.White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders echoed Trumps comments on Twitter.Mueller filed his long-awaited report with the Justice Department on Friday. The Mueller probe, which began in 2017, focused on possible Russian interference in the 2016 election on Trumps behalf along with potential obstruction of investigations into any interference. Other investigations, such as counterintelligence and congressional probes of Trump and his associates, continue.
source: www.mcclatchydc.com

Author(s): Jared Gilmour

24 Mar 19

Man stole $122m from Facebook and Google by sending them random bills, which the companies dutifully paid

FROM THE BOING BOING SHOPCall Control Premium: 1-Yr SubscriptionMachine Learning & Data Science Certification Training BundlePianoforall: The New Way To Learn Piano & KeyboardThe Epic Mac Bundle Ft. Fantastical 2 & PDF ExpertCBD Gummies 500mgSee all dealsLast week, Evaldas Rimasauskas of Lithuania plead guilty to US wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering charges, admitting that he had stolen $99m from Facebook and $23m from Google between 2013 and 2015.Rimasauskas's grift was pretty bold. He merely sent Google and Facebook invoices for items they hadn't purched and that he hadn't provided, which the companies paid anyway. The invoices were accompanied by "forged invoices, contracts, and letters that falsely appeared to have been executed and signed by executives and agents of the Victim Companies, and which bore false corporate stamps embossed with the Victim Companies names, to be submitted to banks in support of the large volume of funds that were fraudulently transmitted via wire transfer." He also spoofed emails that appeared to come from corporate execs.Apparently, no one checked first to see if these corresponded to invoices/POs that had been issued within the companies.Rimasauskas was pretending to be the giant Taiwanese hardware manufacturer Quanta Computer Inc, and had registered a company in Latvia with the same name.He's agreed to forfeit about $50m. It's not clear what's happened to the other $73m, but Rimasauskas was a prolific and baroque money-launderer who squirreled cash away in Cyprus, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Latvia. Google has said that "We detected this fraud and promptly alerted the authorities. We recouped the funds and we're pleased this matter is resolved."Rimasauskas will be sentenced on July 29. He faces up to 30 years."As Evaldas Rimasauskas admitted today, he devised a blatant scheme to fleece U.S. companies out of over $100 million, and then siphoned those funds to bank accounts around the globe," stated Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman in the DoJ press release containing the unsealed indictment from March 21, 2017.According to the indictment [.PDF], Rimasauskas registered and incorporated a Latvian company with the same name as the Asian computer hardware manufacturer Quanta Computer Inc as reported by Bloomberg, and also opened multiple accounts at banks from Cyprus, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Latvia to receive the fraudulent payments.Lithuanian Pleads Guilty to Stealing $100 Million From Google, Facebook [Sergiu Gatlan/Bleeping Computer]
source: boingboing.net

Author(s): Cory Doctorow

24 Mar 19

Second Parkland shooting survivor kills himself, police confirm

After a second Parkland shooting survivor died by suicide in a weeks span, Floridas emergency chief is calling for the state Legislature to dispatch more mental health resources for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School community.On Saturday night, a Parkland sophomore took his own life, according to Coral Springs police. A week before, a former student whose best friend died in last years massacre took her life.Now is the time for the Florida Legislature to help, said Jared Moskowitz, Floridas emergency management director and a former state representative from Parkland.Mental health is a bipartisan issue, he posted on Twitter.SIGN UP AND SAVEGet six months of free digital access to the Miami HeraldSUBSCRIBE WITH GOOGLE#READLOCALHe told the Miami Herald that school, county, city and law enforcement officials, as well as mental health specialists, met Sunday afternoon to discuss what help may be requested of this state.Helen Aguirre Ferr, the communications director for Gov. Ron DeSantis press office, said the governor is aware of the reports of suicides and is monitoring the situation. DeSantis has established relationships with several parents who lost children in the shooting last year, and has had conversations with the families.He and the first lady are concerned, Ferr said.But the situation is, for now, in the hands of local officials, she said, and there has been no request for the state to intervene.Broward County School Superintendent Robert Runcie told the Miami Herald on Sunday that school officials are meeting to work out the details of what we will provide in the coming weeks, above and beyond what is already being provided.READ NEXTBROWARDHeres how to get mental health support after ParklandMARCH 24, 2019 5:56 PMBefore the state activates emergency resources, local leaders would have to agree they need the help.Last year, after 17 people were murdered in the Feb. 14 shooting on the Stoneman Douglas campus, the state Legislature passed a gun-control and mental-health bill that restricted some sales of guns and accessories, gave the courts the ability to take guns away from people with mental health issues and set aside money to hire and train school faculty. State Rep. Shevrin Jones, of West Park, said he would be the first person to co-sponsor something to deal with mental health in our schools and our communities.Amid the new Parkland pain, Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of the March For Our Lives, a student-led protest of the countrys gun laws that drew hundreds of thousands of people to Washington and to other marches around the world.The news of the two suicides comes just as students are out of school this coming week for spring break, worrying some that students may not get the help they need..Investigators told the Miami Herald that the male student died in an apparent suicide on Saturday night. He was in 10th grade and attended Stoneman Douglas last year at the time of the Feb. 14 shooting.It isnt known whether his death can be linked to the school shooting, police said. They did not release his name.The death follows the suicide of a recent Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School graduate, Sydney Aiello, who took her life after being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The Broward County Medical Examiners Office said Aiello died from a gunshot wound.READ NEXTLOCALParkland shooting survivor kills herself because of survivors guilt, parents sayMARCH 22, 2019 12:50 PMHow many more kids have to be taken from us as a result of suicide for the government / school district to do anything? Rip 17 + 2, former Stoneman Douglas student and gun-control activist David Hogg said Sunday on Twitter.-If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.-Ryan Petty, father of Alaina Petty, a 14-year-old freshman who was one of 17 people murdered on Feb. 14. 2018, told the Miami Herald the student who died Saturday also died from a gunshot.Petty founded a suicide prevention foundation called the Walk Up Foundation after his daughters death. He said the issue of suicide needs to be talked about.This is another tragic example, Petty said, who has partnered with Columbia University for his Foundation.Since the Valentines Day shooting traumatized an entire student body, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School regularly report to trauma counselors after breaking down in tears. They panic when fire alarms drag on even moments too long. Reports of widespread absences are common.As spring break starts, faculty at the Parkland school worry that their students may not be receiving the help they need away from campus. They also are concerned that recent changes at the school may be negatively affecting kids.Grief therapists working with Parkland families are mobilizing on Sunday to figure out the best way to provide help. They also are concerned that students will be off this week.Im afraid there will be more [suicides] to come, said Greg Pittman, an American History teacher at Stoneman Douglas. Im just kind of concerned that theyre away from their support to a degree.READ NEXTEDUCATIONStoneman Douglas principal reassigned, under investigation, but will remain on campusMARCH 21, 2019 2:30 PMHe said the reassignment of the high schools three assistant principals and a security specialist, administrators who were with the school during the mass shooting, has affected the mental health of the students who need help the most.The kids need help and many of them that do need help are not getting any, Pittman said Sunday. They want to talk to people that were there.Pittman, who taught Sydney Aiello, said he has spoken with students directly about their concerns over the changing structure of their school. He said more mental health resources may be needed.Many of them think that they dont need help, he said. That only their friends who were there understand. More resources probably would help, but also the resources that knew them [are] leaving.During a meeting Friday between the district and the faculty, Pittman said Broward Chief Officer of School Performance and Accountability Valerie Wanza acknowledged it was a mistake to remove the administrators students had grown accustomed to seeing.I thought it was a mistake then and even more so now, he said.He said his students are under tremendous pressure, some having seen their friends die or seeing their bodies on the floor after the shooting.Pittman, who was at the school during the shooting, regularly sees a therapist and takes medication for emotional distress.I didnt witness it, but many of these kids had to witness their friends dying, he said. What they have seen, Im concerned were gonna see more.On Twitter Sunday, Ryan Petty posted 17 + 2 with a breaking heart emoji, a somber reminder of the growing tally of the massacre.Im afraid that Sydney did it, and now this other kid has done it... Pittman said. I dont know how long it will take but we need more help.
source: www.miamiherald.com

Author(s): Martin Vassolo

24 Mar 19

As Mueller report tensions rise, Rep. Paul Gosar attacks FBI, CIA

Rep. Paul Gosar called the nation's security agencies "bumbling bureaucracies" in a tweet Sunday that also accused some of the key figures from the special counsel's investigation of "mind-numbing ass-hattery."The outburst from the five-term Arizona Republican came on his personal Twitter account, not the one associated with his congressional office."The incompetence and mind-numbing ass-hattery demonstrated frequently by (former FBI Director James) Comey, (former CIA Director John) Brennan, (former FBI special agent Peter) Strzok etc al (sic) leaves us convinced our security agencies are bumbling bureaucracies," Gosar wrote.READ: On Mueller report, Arizona's delegation's common ground: Make it publicIt also comes amid a tense silent period as Congress and the public await the findings of Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible obstruction of the subsequent investigation by President Donald Trump.Mueller, the Justice Department's special counsel, submitted his findings to Attorney General William Barr on Friday. Barr's office is expected to release a summary or redacted version of the report soon.Gosar's tweet responded to a tweet from controversial right-wing personality Mike Cernovich, who pointed to a prediction by Brennan in early March that Mueller would indict Trump and his family.Mueller has indicated there are no further indictments coming from his investigation, seemingly making such dire predictions wrong, at least from Mueller's legal team."Brennan was the top of the food chain, the best the 'intelligence community' had to offer," Cernovich wrote in his tweet. "We are not safe. Terrorists are watching and waiting and are inspired by Brennan and Comey. God help all of us."Gosar seemed to agree, noting in his tweet, "This is precisely the problem."Want more news like this? Subscribe to azcentral.com.Gosar, who represents northwestern Arizona, was among a handful of members of Congress who didn't support a resolution urging public release of the Mueller report. The House voted 42-0 to do so; Gosar voted "present."His insults directed at the FBI and CIA reflect a view by some conservatives that the entire Mueller probe was tainted by bias against Trump within those agencies.On the political left, some sought to justify the investigation and long-standing distrust of Trump.About the same time as Gosar's tweet, Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., tweeted that Trump "is an unindicted co-conspirator in a massive scheme to commit campaign finance fraud."That is a reference to former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's guilty pleas in the cover-up of payments made to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels on behalf of Trump in the final days of the 2016 presidental campaign.
source: www.azcentral.com

Author(s): Ronald J. Hansen

24 Mar 19

Scam CIA Emails Want Your Bitcoin

Those pesky scammers are up to no good once again!It seems that now, a cryptocurrency fan has sent out a warning that scammers are posing as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to trick you into sending over your Bitcoin. $10,000 worth of Bitcoin to be exact.In a Reddit post published earlier this week, we can see that the user sajber has been sent an email from the CIA and posted a screenshot of the email campaign which you can see here. The idea of the campaign is clearly to fool people into thinking that they are the subject of a federal crime on a global scale.The scammers attempt to get their details by saying that the victim is in a database related to a police operation which is getting set to arrest more than 2,000 individuals who are suspected of being a paedophile across 27 countries.Of course, this is a very serious crime, but not to worry as it can all go away if you transfer $10,000 worth of Bitcoin to the listed address in the email. I didnt think the CIA were THAT corrupt? Well apparently the federal agent on the case, Hong Lees is as he is going to let people off the hook for their crimes if they pay him er I mean, the CIA $10,000 worth in Bitcoin.The email lists cryptocurrency exchanges Bitstamp, Coinbase and Coinmama as examples of where the potential victims can buy their Bitcoin and transfer it over to him.The scam email also states that Lees will need a few days to access and edit the files to remove all evidence of your crimes.Funnily enough, one of the Crypto Daily team got a very similar email the other day with the same premise but they just ignored it and got on with their day. This is exactly what you should do if you got this kind of email sent to you, just ignore it.As reported by TNW, this email scam is a slight change from the Bitcoin sextortion scam. This fraud was based on the idea that a magic pixel was somehow integrated into the targets machine then recorded the victim doing unspeakable acts (think of Black Mirrors Shut Up and Dance episode). So if you paid around $2,000 in Bitcoin to the scammers then the video(s) wouldnt get released to the public. This is a lot less than $10,000 but either way, its all just a big scam in order to get some Bitcoin from some gullible fool.
source: cryptodaily.co.uk

24 Mar 19

Troika Laundromat reveals Russian bank's $8.8b offshore scheme

Troika Laundromat reveals Russian banks $8.8b offshore schemePoliticians, criminals and members of the Russian elite, including President Vladimir Putins friend Sergey Roldugin, funneled billions of dollars through a hidden banking network, according to an investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).OCCRP and Lithuanian news website 15min.lt, partners of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, say they obtained 1.3 million banking records, and other documents, to reveal the $8.8 billion scheme.Dubbed the Troika Laundromat, the investigation is named after the Russian private investment bank Troika Dialog that allegedly created and operated the scheme.Recommended readingSeven EU Countries Labeled Tax Havens in Parliament Report First American charged with Panama Papers crimes appears in court All Putins Men: Secret Records Reveal Money Network Tied to Russian LeaderLed by Russian-Armenian executive Ruben Vardanyan, Troika Dialog reportedly directed billions of dollars from Russia into at least 35 bank accounts at Lithuanian bank Ukio Bankas.The investigation found that the money was subsequently sent to western Europe and the U.S. after being spun through many accounts and companies.Vardanyan has been named by Forbes Magazine as one of Russias wealthiest men and is a former advisor to Vladimir Putin.It is not alleged that the financier did anything illegal.Documents indicate that the scheme, which ran for eight years till 2013, combined criminal and legitimate money, making its sources difficult to trace.According to The Guardian, a charity run by Prince Charles received funds from the scheme that is under investigation by Lithuanian prosecutors.Recipients of the transfers also included Eastern European millionaires who used the cash to buy luxury European properties, yachts and sports tickets.There is no suggestion that the recipients, including Prince Charles charity, knew of the origin of the cash, which passed through screen companies into the banking system.One high-profile name within the Troika Laundromat is Sergey Roldugin, a cellist and godfather to President Putins eldest child.Roldugin received more than $69 million through companies in the Troika Laundromat, according to OCCRP, which says documents show that Roldugin signed 16 contracts cancelled within weeks that earned $11.6 million in cancellation fees.Roldugin did not respond to OCCRPs requests for comment.ICIJ reported as part of the 2016 Panama Papers investigation that Roldugin was part of a network operated by Putin associates that shuffled at least $2 billion through banks and offshore companies.The Kremlin did not deny the accuracy of the reporting and U.S. intelligence agencies subsequently indicated that Putins displeasure with the Panama Papers contributed to Russian efforts to discredit the United States.Join ICIJ InsidersDo you believe journalism can make the difference? For just $15/month you can help expose the truth and hold the powerful to account.SUPPORT US TODAY!Other scandals with traces in the Troika Laundromat include a Moscow airport fuel fraud and the theft of $230 million from Russias treasury, according to OCCRP.Sergei Magnitsky, who revealed the theft, later died in a Russian jail in mysterious circumstances. Companies involved in the theft shuffled more than $130 million through Troika Laundromat accounts onto unknown destinations, OCCRP reported.Authorities have not accused Vardanyan of wrongdoing and he denied to OCCRP that the bank did anything wrong.We always acted according to the rules of the world financial market of that time, Vardanyan told OCCRP. Obviously, rules change, but measuring a market in the past by todays laws is like applying modern compliance standards to the time of the Great Depression.OCCRP and 15min.lt collaborated on the Troika Laundromat with 21 media partners from Europe, North America, and South Korea.In addition to the new leaked files, reporters on the Troika Laundromat used documents from previous ICIJ investigations, including Offshore Leaks, Panama Papers and Paradise Papers.
source: www.icij.org

Author(s): Will Fitzgibbon

24 Mar 19

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