SCW NEWSWATCH: “China’s Science Talent-Recruitment Program Draws Fresh Attention; Beijing is trying to lure scientists as part of a covert technology-transfer plan. But why are so many of them falling for it?” – Diplomat 8.25.20
SCW NEWSWATCH: “Russian general’s death from roadside bomb in Syria sparks U.S. intrigue; ‘It’s rare for a Russian major general to be in a convoy in Syria, let alone get blown up there,’ a U.S. security source said.” – Just the News 8.19.20
SCW NEWSWATCH: “NotreDame’s 2021 QB Depth Chart Could See A Dramatic Shift Thanks To #NCAA Rule” – Sports Illustrated 8.25.20
SCW NEWSWATCH: “FDA Authorizes Convalescent Plasma for Covid-19 Use; The emergency-use authorization comes after preliminary studies supported the benefits of the antibody-rich plasma taken from recovered Covid-19 patients” – WSJ 8.23.20
SCW NEWSWATCH: “Putin bets on Lukashenko keeping power in Belarus for now: sources” – Reuters 8.21.20
SCW NEWSWATCH VIDEO: RUSSIA: “Alexei Navalny, Russian Dissident Who Abruptly Fell Ill, Departs Siberian Hospital for Germany; Navalny’s plight could have a chilling effect on the opposition to President Putin, political analysts say” – WSJ 8.21.20
SCW NEWSWATCH: “Meet Charlotte Kirk: The 28-Year-Old Actress Who Took Down Two Studio Chiefs” – Variety 8.19.20 ……….. #HOLLYWOOD #MOVIES #ENTERTAINMENT #CORPORATE #CORRUPTION #ADULTERY #SEX
SCW NEWSWATCH: “Threat Of More Looting Leads To Concerns Of Downtown Chicago Exodus” – CBS Chicago 8.21.20
VIDEO: Senate Hearing on “The Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble: Protecting Speech by Stopping Anarchist Violence”
SCW NEWSWATCH: “Will Joe Biden Duck the Debates? There are growing calls to shield the former Veep from having to perform” – Wall Street Journal 8.4.20
“… Biden … lead[s] … in the polls and has been known to fumble his words, so now TV debates are apparently passé. The Commission on Presidential Debates has scheduled three … for … Biden and … Trump …. But it’s becoming a theme in certain quarters—namely, the New York Times —that … Biden should skip out, or that the face-offs should be canceled …. What a terrible year to make this argument. The pandemic has put the usual political rallies on hold … conventions will be largely online. Press aides will shape … news coverage … picking friendly interviewers. … Biden [hypothetically] would take office at … 78 … the oldest President in history …. Trump is all but calling him senile … Biden’s verbal stumbles and memory lapses were obvious in … Democratic primaries. … Biden mistakenly referred to Britain’s leader as Margaret Thatcher, who resigned in 1990 … [H]e boasted of working on the Paris climate deal with Deng Xiaoping, who died in 1997 …. [I]f … [Biden’s] polling lead holds, liberal pressure not to debate will grow. …”
SCW NEWSWATCH: “Russia says it will begin mass vaccination campaign against COVID-19 in October” – UPI
“Russia said … it has completed clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine …. [Russian] Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said … Moscow-based Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology … completed trials …. [also saying,] ‘We plan wider [vaccination] for October … launch[ing] a new system of treatment gradually,’ Murashko …. [Meanwhile] Anthony Fauci … [told] Congress … he is ‘cautiously optimistic’ … a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine will be available before the end of the year. … [T]he British National Cyber Security Center said Russian computer hackers are targeting COVID-19 vaccine researchers in the United States, Britain and Canada ….'”
“… Even with adequate PPE, the risk of getting COVID-19 was almost 2.4 times greater for those caring for suspected COVID-19 patients … around five times greater for those caring for people with confirmed COVID-19  compared with those … not exposed to COVID-19 patients …. After accounting for pre-existing medical conditions, healthcare workers from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds were almost five times more likely to report a positive COVID-19 result than … the public …. White healthcare workers were around 3.5 times more likely to have COVID-19 than the public …. COVID-19 [prevalence] among U.S. healthcare workers — 461 per 100,000 app users — was almost twice that of … British counterparts, at 227 per 100,000 app users ….”
Demonstrations have rocked the city of 600,000 for more than two weeks and have grown to include calls for the resignation of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On July 25, a crowd estimated at up to 50,000 turned out despite officials urging people to stay away due to concerns over the coronavirus. Officials put the turnout on July 25 at some 6,500. …
A. complete cease-fire has entered into force between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The cease-fire went into effect at 00:01 local time on July 27, just hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin discussed the conflict in eastern Ukraine. …
SCW NEWSWATCH: “Poll Finds Just 13% of Voters Still Up for Grabs for Trump, Biden; Half of voters in a recent WSJ/NBC News poll say there is no chance they will support President Trump, and 37% say they would never back Joe Biden” – Wall Street Journ
“… A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll revealed … 13% of voters say their vote is up for grabs in the presidential election. … compared with 50% who say there is no chance they will support … Trump and 37% who say there is no chance they will support … Biden. The up-for-grabs or persuadable voters are people who said that they currently don’t support either … Trump or … Biden or that they back one candidate but still might vote for the other. The small size of that group underscores the divisions in the nation’s politics. Still, they could have an outsize[d] impact on the results. For … Trump, who had 40% of support from all registered voters … to … Biden’s 51%, winning them over is one pathway to close the gap. …”
“Huge anti-government demonstrations erupted in Russia’s Far East … Saturday over the arrest of a popular governor … replaced this week by a Kremlin appointee who has never lived in the fraught region. … Khabarovsk [residents] near the [Chinese-Russian] border … took to the streets en masse for the third [straight] Saturday … after governor Sergei Furgal was arrested by federal law enforcement and flown to Moscow on murder charges …. some of the largest anti-government protests in Russia in years …. Tens of thousands … marched … waving the region’s flag, carrying banners and chanting slogans against … Putin as passing cars honked their horns in support. …”
… “‘This event highlights Russia’s hypocritical advocacy of outer space arms control … aim[ing] to restrict … [U.S.] capabilities … while clearly having no intention of halting its own counterspace program — both ground-based anti-satellite capabilities and what would appear to be actual in-orbit anti-satellite weaponry'” …
SCW NEWSWATCH: VIDEO: President Donald Trump July 21 White House Press Conference on Covid-19 Coranavirus
President Donald Trump resumed White House press briefings on Covid-19 coronavirus press briefings on Tuesday, July 21, 2020. Video is embedded below.
Even while seeking to highlight some positives in the handling of the pandemic, Trump warned that the coronavirus Covid-19 situation will get worse before it gets better. …
SCW NEWSWATCH: VIDEO: President Donald Trump July 21 White House Press Conference on Covid-19 Coranavirus
President Donald Trump resumed White House press briefings on Covid-19 coronavirus press briefings on Tuesday, July 21, 2020. Video is embedded below.
Even while seeking to highlight some positives in the handling of the pandemic, Trump warned that the coronavirus Covid-19 situation will get worse before it gets better. …
SCW NEWSWATCH: “‘Protests had a lot to do with it’: Florida official says demonstrations contributed to coronavirus spike” – Washington Examiner 7.5.20
“Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said the massive protests that took place in Florida and elsewhere throughout the country likely contributed to the new spike in coronavirus cases. … [He]said … that the protests ‘obviously’ contributed to the spread of the virus, but … [also] noted … several other factors … including socialization at beaches and in restaurants. ‘I think obviously the protests had a lot to do with it. We had, you know, thousands of young people together outside, a lot of them not wearing masks. And we know when you do that, and you are talking, and you are chanting, etc., that really spreads the virus,’ he told … [a Sunday talk show]. “
The United States marked another grim milestone Tuesday as it posted a record 47,000 new COVID-19 cases, the biggest one day increase in new infections since the start of the pandemic.
The bulk of the new infections stretches from the southwestern states of Arizona and Texas over into the western state of California, with high numbers of infections also reported in the southeastern states of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
The rising number of COVID-19 infections across the United States prompted Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to tell a U.S. Senate committee Tuesday that the current rate of new infections could more than double to 100,000 a day if the current surge is not contained.
“Clearly we are not in total control right now,” Dr. Fauci testified. He warned the committee that just focusing on the states undergoing the biggest surges of new infections “puts the entire country at risk.” …
SCW NEWSWATCH: “The Trump Campaign Needs to Hit ‘Reset’ If the president won’t offer voters an agenda for his second term, he may not get one” – Wall Street Journal/ Karl Rove
“[Trump] is behind with less than 18 weeks to go …trailing by more than … Truman in 1948 … Bush in 2004 and … Obama in 2012, all of whom rallied to win. … 2016 should give every pundit … humility: Don’t count this president out. The campaign hasn’t really begun. Sequestered in his basement … days at a time … Biden has taken the lead without campaigning as the media’s spotlight has been … on the incumbent during a difficult time. … [T]he Democratic nominee can’t hide forever. For Team Trump, the question is what … [to] do to regain momentum …. As president … Trump has powerful tools … [P]olls show that on the most important issue in presidential elections, the economy, Americans trust him over … Biden. … [T]he campaign must admit that a reset is needed. … [and] do it. … “
Dismissal of Michael Flynn Prosecution Ordered by D.C. Federal Appellate Court; Department of Justice Considered FBI Investigation of Former Trump National Security Advisor Improper
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, on Wednesday, June 24, by a 2-1 decision, ordered a federal district court to dismiss charges against former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Despite Flynn having earlier pled guilty in the prosecution, the Department of Justice had moved to set aside the guilty plea and dismiss the case, due to problems uncovered with the FBI investigation that had given rise to Flynn’s prosecution. …
SCW NEWSWATCH: “Coronavirus Cases Are Accelerating Across U.S.; The seven-day average of new infections in 33 states is higher than it has been in the past two weeks” – Wall Street Journal
“Covid-19’s spread is picking up steam in a larger swath of the U.S. as cases have increased at a faster rate nationwide for nearly two weeks, an acceleration that isn’t attributable solely to increased testing …. Thirty-three states … had a seven-day average of new cases … Tuesday … higher than their average across the last two weeks … the situation in 21 states at the start of the month, so the data reflect recent increases …. “
SCW NEWSWATCH: “Trump Wants To Challenge Biden To Cognitive Test As Dems Quietly Admit Joe Lacks ‘Mental Acuity'” – Union Journal :: SteveWire
“… Trump wants to challenge … Biden to … a cognitive test … [T]op Democrats quietly admit their man lacks ‘mental acuity.’ In a [Washington Post] article … White House insiders revealed that during a cabinet meeting in early June …. Trump discussed the cognitive screening test that he took in 2018 within his physical examination, and remarked that Biden may likely never manage to pass this kind of test. The President went on to suggest that that he should challenge Biden to take the test. This isn’t the first time that President Trump has questioned the mental acuity of Biden. … often describ[ing] his … opponent as ‘Sleepy Joe’ ….”
SCW NEWSWATCH: “North Korea reportedly threatens ‘new round of the Korean War’ to end U.S.” – New York Post :: SteveWire
“North Korea’s embassy in Moscow has threatened to use its nation’s nuclear weapons against the United States in what they claim would be ‘a particularly sensational event,’ a Russian state-owned news agency reports. …. The agency quotes the embassy as stating …. ‘A new round of the Korean War will add a particularly sensational event to the history of mankind, which will put an end to another empire, whose name is the United States’ …. While the statement has not been reported elsewhere, it was released in the days ahead of the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War. …”
According to multiple reports and a university announcement, one Notre Dame football player has tested positive for Covid-19 coronavirus, after 91 players and 50 staff were tested.
In this video, President Donald Trump gives the 2020 commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He salutes the graduates and the military, and addresses a variety of issues, including America’s role in the world. …
“… 2020 presidential [candidate] Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is facing scrutiny over her mishandling of clergy sex abuse during her tenure as San Francisco district attorney less than a decade ago. It was widely reported that DA Harris conducted her investigation of clergy sex abuse too secretively, resulting in no prosecutions despite compelling truth to the contrary. … As San Francisco’s district attorney, Harris was perceived as operating in a secretive fashion that benefited accused priests to the detriment of justice for their alleged victims. …”
Ukrainian Investigative Journalist Vadym Komarov Who Asked ‘Inconvenient Questions’ Dies After Attack
RFE/RL – An investigative journalist in Ukraine’s central city of Cherkasy has died six weeks after being attacked by an unknown assailant.
Serhiy Tomilenko, the head of Ukraine’s National Union of Journalists, wrote in a posting on Facebook on June 20 that Vadym Komarov had succumbed to the injuries he sustained in the May 4 attack, which remains under investigation.
“The only reason for the attack, now the killing, according to journalists in Cherkasy, is Vadym Komarov’s professional activities. He was inconvenient for many local politicians. He pushed forward with inconvenient questions regarding corruption in Cherkasy and touched on topics that resonated,” Tomilenko wrote.
Tomilenko added that the journalists’ union “continues to demand real, not just declared, protection of rights for Ukrainian journalists.”
Komarov was hospitalized and underwent unspecified surgery following the attack in Cherkasy, about 200 kilometers (120 miles) south of Kyiv, and had remained in a coma ever since.
International media freedom watchdogs and the United States urged Kyiv to thoroughly investigate the attack and ensure that it does not go unpunished.
The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine said it was “deeply saddened” by Komarov’s death and urged “a thorough, transparent” probe into the attack.
The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said it was “shocked” by the journalist’s death, adding that it is “high time to do more to protect journalists and fight impunity in Ukraine.”
“We demand from the police a rapid investigation to find those who are guilty,” said Oksana Romaniuk of Ukraine’s Institute of Mass Information, a Kyiv journalists’ watchdog.
Harlem Desir, the representative on freedom of the media for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said that “impunity would be a victory for those who wanted to silence Komarov and to intimidate the press.”
In New York, the Committee to Protect Journalists said the brutal assault on Komarov came amid a “range of threats” faced by investigative reporters in Ukraine, including “surveillance, harassment, and assault from government and private entities.”
Ukraine is ranked 102nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.
“… Trump said … Friday he aborted a military strike to retaliate for Iran’s downing of an unmanned U.S. drone because it could have killed 150 people, and signaled … [openness] to talks …. An Iranian [SAM] destroyed a U.S. … surveillance drone … Thursday. … [according to the United States] in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz[, while Iran alleged it was over Iranian territory]. … White House national security adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and CIA Director Gina Haspel, along with the rest of Trump’s team, favored a retaliatory strike, a senior Trump administration official said. …”
University of Notre Dame charges $400 for would-be alumni class reunions; are they trying to become a gated community?
“So much for Notre Dame establishing a “Notre Dame Family” or identifying with something like a “Catholic” Church that is universal in scope. They have difficulty even welcoming all members of a class year to a reunion without exhorbitant barriers to screen out the frugal.
Even for something as simple and straightforward as a class reunion, Notre Dame apparently wanted to limit attendance to those willing and able to pay $400 for the weekend, not including lodgings ($250 for a single day and $99 for a single evening). There were slight reductions for early registration, such as $350 for the weekend instead of $400. …”
“Russia has rejected an Iranian request to buy S-400 missile defense systems, concerned that the sale would stoke more tension in the Middle East, according to [sources]. Sales of the missile systems are controversial in the Middle East. Turkey … NATO member and … U.S. ally, is risking punitive measures by the Trump administration for agreeing to buy the batteries. … a showdown is brewing between the Islamic Republic … and the U.S. and its Gulf Arab allies …. Trump agreed this month to send more U.S. troops to the region after the U.S. blamed #Iran for attacks on Saudi oil installations as well as four ships. … Russia and Iran have enjoyed close political and military ties in recent years, though there have been signs that Moscow is seeking to gradually reduce Iran’s footprint in the Middle East as it seeks to protect its relations with other regional powers such as Saudi Arabia and Israel….”
SCW RUSSIAWIRE: “Russia’s oil production continues to fall after Druzhba contamination: sources” – Reuters
“Russia’s oil production continued to fall … under pressure from lower exports after shipments via the Druzhba pipeline to Europe were found to be contaminated in April. Five million tonnes of oil were contaminated … with organic chloride … some of the dirty crude is still stuck in pipelines in Belarus and eastern Europe. … Russia’s recent oil output is below the 11.18 billion bpd target Moscow … pledged … [under] an international deal among producers to curb production to support prices. The oil contamination crisis, along with reduced exports from OPEC members Iran and Venezuela following U.S. sanctions on both countries, have lifted global oil prices. …”
Prominent opposition politicians from Afghanistan and representatives of the Taliban insurgency will meet in Russia on Wednesday for discussions on promoting a negotiated settlement to the Afghan war that continues to cause dozens of casualties every day.
The intra-Afghan conference comes as months of direct peace negotiations between the United States and the Taliban appear to have slowed down, if not deadlocked, over insurgents’ refusal to cease hostilities until all U.S.-led international forces withdraw from Afghanistan.
“According to cyber-security experts, vast quantities of supposedly private data – including from Russian state institutions – are bought and sold every day. … private detectives, scammers or just jealous husbands can search illegal forums online and order the services of a hacker to give them an almost limitless supply of personal data. The market for purchasing personal data in Russia is growing. For a modest fee, you can gain access to mobile phone records, addresses, passport details and even bank security codes. … Russia’s security apparatus is up against powerful market forces. Officials can supplement their often meagre wages by selling data on the black market. …”
[reposted from 2016]
According to AP, there have been 66 deaths in connection with the Indy 500 site since 1909, including 40 drivers, 14 mechanics, nine spectators and a little boy playing in his own yard nearby. Additional deaths, of course, have occurred in other venues. The deaths have continued up to the current era, and have involved some of the most elite drivers, as has also occurred with stock car racing.
At a time when we need to be encouraging respect for human life and the development of a stronger conscience with regard for human life and the dignity of the human person, in the face of assaults upon respect for human life, it probably is a good idea to ban auto racing. Some first steps could include holding organizers financially responsible for any deaths or injuries, on a strict basis, with multiplying financial penalties added, without regard for supposed assumption of risk by spectators or participants.
Sentimentality and would-be tradition, especially in a sleepy setting like Indiana, not necessarily steeped in many other traditions, should not be an obstacle to changes. I myself like hearkening back to some old family connections with the race, which were nice in the themselves, yet that does not balance out with more important considerations and proactive steps to move forward.
I have mixed feelings about the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. My paternal grandfather, God Rest His Soul, built at least one race car that ran in the Indy 500, back in the late 1920’s or early 1930’s. My father had early childhood memories of Eddie Rickenbacker coming to the house, the great World War I flying ace who developed a passion for auto racing and, at one time, owned the Indy 500. The family connection with racing would be interrupted when my grandfather passed on prematurely, in his late thirties, apparently from health-related reasons, when my father was only eight years old. Years later, a brother-in-law became CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and briefly had his company sponsor a car, from a racing team led by a racing legend.
While human life in any era is sacred and precious, there is, perhaps, a temptation to think that the deaths are part of a murky past with less sophisticated technology and lower safety standards, or related to the skill of a driver. The first death at the race was in 1911, in the very first race, when a mechanic was killed.
However, just five years ago, Dan Wheldon distinguished himself as an elite driver by winning the Indy 500 for the second time, only to get killed in a crash the same year at another track.
Interestingly enough, my father, God Rest His Soul, never seemed to take people to the race, in my memory, although he and my mother did take me to qualifications once. (Ironically, the driver we saw on foot, standing near our bleachers, by coincidence was the racing legend who later had his team sponsored by the brother-in-law.)
But before I was born, my father did take some older siblings to the race itself, and there was a huge accident involving a large number of cars. Footage from the accident would actually be used in a feature film about the Indy 500. Real-world footage of the accident and its aftermath was embedded within the dramatized action of the film. As I watched that movie, as a rerun on a television, one of the older siblings came into the room, saw the accident, and said that he recognized it, as an accident that had occurred at the race he was taken to, years earlier, by my father. He remembered the iconic moment when, amidst the chaos, a wheel snapped loose and came rolling out of the chaos, continuing down the track at high-speed by itself, with no car attached.
Years later, my father and mother did attend at least one race when the brother-in-law’s company sponsored a racing team.
But, during that long hiatus, perhaps my father was quietly dissuaded from going to more races, after taking what were then small children to a race, only to witness a massive multi-car accident. More so than witnessing an accident, there also is the danger of spectators getting killed. In the modern era, in one instance, a wheel that broke off in an accident hurtled upwards and into the stands, killing a spectator completely at random, halfway up the stands.
It is unquestionably disrespectful to human life, and therefore un-Godly and un-American, to subject human beings to those dangers for something as trivial as a quasi-sporting event.
Arguments about technological benefits are unpersuasive. Technological innovations can be tested in other ways, in other settings, without the same issues arising in the same way. The competitive profit motive of auto racing and the purse might help instigate innovation, but that does not justify the loss of human life.
Actual testing tracks do not have to be built along the lines of the Indy 500. Indeed, the Indy 500 track, which originally was brick, and has corners reportedly banked for cars going less than 100 mph, is not necessarily suitable for modern test track purposes.
And it is not clear that we even need to use human drivers, in a cockpit, for modern testing of vehicles. It would be possible in today’s era to test vehicles, on remote testing tracks, with no actual driver behind the wheel, or with a driver who pilots the car remotely. The point is not that there should be races run that way. The point is, that if one argument for auto racing is that it could induce technological innovation, the response is that there are other ways to conduct the testing that are safer for humans.
An additional concern is the moral impact on moral conscience, from watering down the conscience by risking, or ending, human life for frivolous reasons.
One of the biggest challenges to human society in the current era, as always, has been to inspire the development of a stronger conscience in favor of respecting human life.
Terrorism; other forms of war; widespread prenatal child-killing (cast by its aficionados as the pseudo-clinical euphemism “abortion”); euthanasia; health care rationing; human trafficking; drug trafficking; permissiveness and sexual degradation; and other threats to human life and human dignity compound their initial impact by also besieging and undermining moral conscience.
We need a push to build a stronger moral conscience, in defense of human life, not efforts to weaken or water down human conscience. We do not need the would-be excitement, sentimentality, false rationalizations, or mere habit-building, associated with something like auto racing, to whittle away at the proper formation of proper conscience.
One argument sometimes raised, to promote quietism in the face of the threats auto racing poses to human life, is a generic, abstract idea of simply pushing the limits of something, of going higher and faster, and so forth.
The problem is, that argument rests on the notion that limits do exist in the first place.
The issue becomes, what limits are appropriate, and what limits can be pushed.
For example, football is now realizing that head-on-head contact is a limit that has to be ratcheted back, with a firm line drawn in the sand, because of the reality of head injuries and their ripple effects.
With some kinds of risks, there is no need to push limits, because the limits are appropriate.
For example, a few individuals have parachuted from an altitude so high, that it felt like they were in outer space. In broad daylight, they rose by balloon to an altitude so immense that the blue sky disappeared, and the black sky and stars came out. The first time that happened, the parachutist got to a point where he temporarily blacked out, and had to rely on the chute opening automatically.
The depths of the ocean are so bone-crushing with their water pressure that no human could survive without a heavy diving structure. Yet it would be foolish to deliberately push the limits of depth for scuba-divers, to the edge of where they could be killed. It would be frivolous to sell tickets to which whether somebody got killed scuba-diving, when they deliberately tried to go too deep.
Or, where limits exist, there might be other ways to push the limits, or to focus on pushing entirely different limits. For example, in football, there are other ways to deliver hits without causing concussions.
One concern should be whether, in some childish, emotionalistic way, anybody would think that the seriousness of deaths and injuries in auto racing somehow translates into seriousness of purpose, or makes the race more “important.” The opposite is true. The seriousness of deaths and injuries in the sport highlight how frivolous the activity is, when compared with the sacredness of human life and the seriousness of the deaths.
Even worse would be if there is a small subset of the population that actually ever got a sick thrill from seeing accidents and the possibility of death. In the Confessions of Saint Augustine, he describes a friend who apparently was addicted to visiting the “arena” as a spectator, which presumably meant gladiator fights or worse. The friend apparently was an otherwise normal person, perhaps even aspiring to being a Christian like Saint Augustine. The friend also knew that visiting the arena was something he should avoid.
Yet he found aspects of it addictive.
With regard to auto racing, one step that could be taken would be to make the organizers legally and financially responsible, under strict liability, for any deaths or injuries to spectators. One could try to argue that there is some assumption of risk by the victims. Yet that is not a risk that anyone should be allowed to assume, because no reasonable person could assume such a risk and still be considered reasonable. That is, no one in his right mind would think that sitting and eating a hot dog while a vehicle goes by at high speed is important enough to justify getting killed.
In the instance of the spectator in the late 1980’s killed randomly by a flying wheel, the widow reportedly sued for $9 million, then reached a confidential settlement.
Given financial responsibility and financial incentives, organizers would be in the best position to adopt better safeguards.
Another issue that might come up is whether some tracks or some circumstances are safer or more dangerous than others. There has been a driving death at the Indy 500 track as recently as the 1990’s, however.
On the other hand, if other tracks and other races are more likely to have deaths now, and if shutting down tracks one-by-one, from this point forward, is the way towards a gradual step-by-step ban, so be it.
For the Indy 500 itself, one added twist is the race’s spot on the calendar on Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day, of course, has a focus on remembering and honoring our departed, including those who perished in military service defending the nation. Indeed, the Indy 500 features taps as part of its ceremonies, as well as an invocation by a religious figure. At a time when we remember the departed, and acknowledge those who made the ultimate sacrifice, the natural reaction should be to have a heightened respect for human life, and a heightened sensitivity to the realities, and loss, associated with death. Sensitivities to these values should be raised, not lowered. To do otherwise would be un-Godly and un-American.
SteveWire – SCW NEWSWATCH: “Trade frictions raise questions about China’s fentanyl promise” – Reuters 5.13.19
“China has pledged to stem a flood of the synthetic opioid fentanyl onto America’s streets, where it kills thousands … [per] month, but U.S. security experts are skeptical about whether Beijing is willing, or even able, to follow through. Ten current and former U.S. officials, congressional sources and China and trade experts … [said] that China cooperates only when it believes it will get something in return. In this case, several said, Beijing appears to have offered … help … [to] get the best deal possible from Washington in trade negotiations. ….”
SteveWire – SCW NEWSWATCH VIDEO: “Trade Fight Escalates as China Hits U.S. With Higher Tariffs Washington lays out nearly $300 billion of imports that would face fresh 25% levies.” – Wall Street Journal/ Chao Deng, Josh Zumbrun, Vivian Salama 5.13.19
“The U.S.-China trade dispute escalated sharply Monday, as Beijing retaliated against higher U.S. tariffs with plans to increase levies on $60 billion in U.S. imports and Washington laid out nearly $300 billion of new Chinese imports that would face 25% levies as early as this summer. The higher tariffs are expected to raise costs for both consumers and businesses and act as a brake on economic growth in both countries. Neither side appeared ready to compromise ….”
SteveWire ~ SCW NEWSWATCH VIDEO: “#Maduro was ‘ready’ to leave #Venezuela before #Russia convinced him to stay, #Pompeo tells Fox News” – Fox
“… #Venezuela’s disputed president, Nicolas #Maduro, was ‘ready’ to leave … amid protest violence and calls for his ouster — until #Russia convinced him to stay, Secretary of State Mike #Pompeo … [said]. ‘He was ready to go’ Pompeo said …. ‘He was diverted by the Russians.’ … The U.S. and about 50 other nations have taken the position that Maduro’s re-election … was marred by fraud … that he is not the legitimate president of Venezuela, a once prosperous nation that has the world’s largest proven oil reserves. …”
SCW NEWSWATCH: “Joe Biden’s history of unwanted touching threatens to put off women voters” – Los Angeles Times/ Virginian-Pilot
The Los Angeles Times, in an article picked up by the Virginian-Pilot, addresses concerns over a series of incidents, over time, involving Joe Biden coming into various forms of physical contact with women. Biden is a de facto Democrat Presidential hopeful and former Vice President and U.S. Senator from Delaware.
“An allegation that Joe Biden inappropriately touched a Nevada state lawmaker is renewing questions about his appeal to women if he seeks the Democratic presidential nomination. … his handling of Anita Hill’s sexual harassment allegations … at Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 1991 … already [was among] serious vulnerabilities. If Biden launches his third campaign for president, as expected, he will be joining a crowded field of Democratic rivals that includes four women in the U.S. Senate …. Beyond the primaries, the new accusation raises questions about whether Biden, in a general-election contest, would strike a weak contrast with … Trump …. The 2020 presidential race is the first to occur after the explosion of the #MeToo movement …. Biden … has long had a reputation as an affable politician who is quick to smile and put his hands on people. … But in another light, Biden’s behavior struck some as disturbing. At a Senate swearing-in ceremony in 2015, Biden whispered in the ear of a senator’s teenage daughter and kissed the side of her head, an interaction that a conservative writer described as a ‘lecherous elderly man creeping on underage girl’ and said Biden would’ve caught more flak if he were a Republican. … Ana Navarro-Cardenas, the Republican strategist and commentator, wrote on Twitter that Biden needs to stop the ‘touchy-feely’ conduct that makes people uncomfortable. …”
Click here for: “Joe Biden’s history of unwanted touching threatens to put off women voters” – Los Angeles Times/ Virginian-Pilot
SCW NEWSWATCH: “When she decided not to abort twins, the #abortion facility locked her inside” – LiveAction/ Sarah Terzo
Live Action reports on a woman with twins who, it was said, encountered various tactics impeding her choice to leave an abortion clinic without terminating her preborn children.
“Sidewalk Advocates for Life shared a video telling the recent story of a woman pregnant with twins who changed her mind about having an abortion. When the woman tried to leave the abortion facility, workers there refused to unlock the doors and let her go. … Even if the abortion [clinic] ‘counselor’ did in fact lie to try and convince the mother to abort her set of healthy twins, the abortion was thwarted, and the twins were allowed to live. … [T]he sidewalk counselor was pivotal in saving the lives of these children. The pregnant woman later told Laura that had she not been there, she would probably have gone back to the facility and aborted her babies eventually. But the pregnancy resource center was there to help her, and she was given the resources she needed to choose life.”
Live Action additionally reports on what apparently was a diversity of anti-abortion activity outside the abortuary, such that, while a helpful, supportive sidewalk counselor aided the mother, different parties presented angry protests that caused unhelpful distraction.
“There is one more important point to be taken from this story. Along with the sidewalk counselor outside the facility that day, there were a number of anti-abortion protesters who were yelling at the woman going in. Even before finding out she was carrying twins, the pregnant woman was feeling ambivalent about having her abortion. She had wanted to stop and talk to someone outside the clinic and looked for a friendly face. But the people yelling at her were so hostile that she was afraid to stop. She didn’t feel she could trust the people outside the clinic, so she hurried inside instead. If the angry, yelling people had not been there, this woman may have never even entered the facility. …”
Click here for: “When she decided not to abort twins, the abortion facility locked her inside” – LiveAction/ Sarah Terzo
[featured image is file photo from another occasion]
SCW NEWSWATCH TRANSCRIPT: “Attorney General Bill Barr’s Letter to Congressional Leaders Summarizing Findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia Investigation Report” – House.Gov
The Attorney General
The Honorable Lindsey Graham
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate
290 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary
United States .Senate
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable Jerrold Nadler
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary
United States House of Representatives
2132 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Doug Collins
Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary
United States House of Representatives
1504 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Chairman Graham, Chairman Nadler, Ranking Member Feinstein, and Ranking Member Collins:
As a supplement to the notification provided on Friday, March 22, 2019, I am writing today
to advise you of the principal conclusions reached by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and to inform you about the status ofmy initial review of the report he has prepared.
The Special Counsel’s Report
On Friday, the Special Counsel submitted to me a “confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions” he has reached, as required by 28 C.F.R. § 600.8(c). This report is entitled “Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election.” Although my review is ongoing, I believe that it is in the public interest to describe the report and to summarize the principal conclusions reached by the Special Counsel and the results of his investigation.
The report explains that the Special Counsel and his staff thoroughly investigated allegations that members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, and others associated with it, conspired with the Russian government in its efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, or sought to obstruct the related federal investigations. In the report, the Special Counsel noted that, in completing his investigation, he employed 19 lawyers who were assisted by a team of approximately 40 FBI agents, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants, and other professional staff. The Special Counsel issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants, obtained more than 230 orders for communication records, issued almost 50 orders authorizing use of pen registers, made 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence, and interviewed approximately 500 witnesses.
The Special Counsel obtained a number of indictments and convictions of individuals and entities in connection with his investigation, all of which have been publicly disclosed. During the course of his investigation, the Special Counsel also referred several matters to other offices for further action. The report does not recommend any further indictments, nor did the Special Counsel obtain any sealed indictments that have yet to be made public. Below, I summarize the principal conclusions set out in the Special Counsel’s report.
Russian Interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. The Special Counsel’s report is divided into two parts. The first describes the results of the Special Counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The report outlines the Russian effort to influence the election and documents crimes committed by persons associated with the Russian government in connection with those efforts. The report further explains that a primary consideration for the Special Counsel’s investigation was whether any Americans – including individuals associated with the Trump campaign – joined the Russian conspiracies to influence the election, which would be a federal crime. The Special Counsel’s 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 election. As the report states: “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
The Special Counsel’s investigation determined 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. As noted above, 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, although the Special Counsel brought criminal charges against a number of Russian nationals and entities in connection with these activities.
The second element involved the Russian government’s efforts to conduct computer hacking operations designed to gather and disseminate information to influence the election. The Special Counsel found that Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks. Based on these activities, the Special Counsel brought criminal charges against a number of Russian military officers for conspiring to hack into computers in the United States for purposes of influencing the election. But as noted above, the Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple. offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.
Obstruction of Justice. The report’s second part addresses a number of actions by the President – most of which have been the subject of public reporting – that the Special Counsel investigated as potentially raising obstruction-of-justice concerns. After making a “thorough factual investigation” into these matters, the Special Counsel considered whether to evaluate the conduct under Department standards governing prosecution and declination decisions but ultimately determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment. The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion – one way or the other – as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction. Instead, for each of the relevant actions investigated, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as “difficult issues” of law and fact concerning whether the President’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction. The Special Counsel states that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
The Special Counsel’s 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. Over the course of the investigation, the Special Counsel’s office engaged in discussions with certain Department officials regarding many of the legal and factual matters at issue in the Special Counsel’s obstruction investigation. After reviewing the Special Counsel’s final report on these issues; consulting with Department officials, including the Office of Legal Counsel; and applying the principles of federal prosecution that guide our charging decisions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense. Our determination was made without regard to, and is not based on, the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president.
In making this determination, we noted that the Special Counsel recognized that “the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference,” and that, while not determinative, the absence of such evidence bears upon the President’s intent with respect to obstruction. Generally speaking, to obtain and sustain an obstruction conviction, the government would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person, acting with corrupt intent, engaged in obstructive conduct with a sufficient nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding. In cataloguing the President’s actions, many of which took place in public view, the report identifies no actions that, in our judgment, constitute obstructive conduct, had a nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding, and were done with corrupt intent, each of which, under the Department’s principles of federal prosecution guiding charging decisions, would need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to establish an obstruction-of-justice offense.
Status of the Department’s Review
The relevant regulations contemplate that the Special Counsel’s report will be a “confidential report” to the Attorney General. See Office of Special Counsel, 64 Fed. Reg. 37,038, 37,040-41 (July 9, 1999). As I have previously stated, however, I am mindful of the public interest in this matter. For that reason, my goal and intent is to release as much of the Special Counsel’s report as I can consistent with applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies.
Based on my discussions with the Special Counsel and my initial review, it is apparent that the report contains material that is or could be subject to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e), which imposes restrictions on the use and disclosure of information relating to “matter[s] occurring before [a] grand jury.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 6(e)(2)(B). Rule 6(e) generally limits disclosure of certain grand jury information in a criminal investigation and prosecution. Id. Disclosure of 6(e) material beyond the strict limits set forth in the rule is a crime in certain circumstances. See, e.g., 18 U.S.C. § 401(3). This restriction protects the integrity of grand jury proceedings and ensures that the unique and invaluable investigative powers of a grand jury are used strictly for their intended criminal justice function.
Given these restrictions, the schedule for processing the report depends in part on how quickly the Department can identify the 6( e) material that by law cannot be made public. I have requested the assistance of the Special Counsel in identifying all 6( e) information contained in the report as quickly as possible. Separately, I also must identify any information that could impact other ongoing matters, including those that the Special Counsel has referred to other offices. As soon as that process is complete, I will be in a position to move forward expeditiously in determining what can be released in light of applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies.
As I observed in my initial notification, the Special Counsel regulations provide that “the Attorney General may determine that public release of’ notifications to your respective Committees “would be in the public interest.” 28 C.F.R. § 600.9(c). I have so determined, and I will disclose this letter to the public after delivering it to you.
William P. Barr Attorney General
 In assessing potential conspiracy charges, the Special Counsel also considered whether
members of the Trump campaign “coordinated” with Russian election interference activities. The Special Counsel defined “coordination” as an “agreement-tacit or express-between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference.”
 See A Sitting President ‘s Amenability to Indictment and Criminal Prosecution, 24 Op. O.L.C. 222 (2000).
SCW NEWSWATCH: “Mueller clears Trump: No Russia collusion, no obstruction of justice” – Washington Examiner
“Special counsel Robert Mueller concluded there was no conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, but did not make a determination on whether … Trump obstructed justice, Attorney General William Barr wrote in letter to lawmakers …. ‘The Special Counsel’s 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 election,’ Barr said …. The Trump campaign did not conspire or knowingly coordinate with the Internet Research Agency to conduct disinformation and social media campaigns to sow discord and interfere in the election nor did it conspire or coordinate with the Russian government during efforts to hack Democrats, despite offers from the Russians to assist the campaign …. Mueller did not issue a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice during the investigation, leaving it to the attorney general to decide whether the president obstructed justice. The special counsel said that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’ …”
Click here for: “Mueller clears Trump: No Russia collusion, no obstruction of justice” – Washington Examiner
“On May 17, 2017, Robert S. Mueller III was appointed by acting Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein to serve as Special Counsel …”
SCW NEWSWATCH: “UN Intervened to Change New York Abortion Law” – The Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam)/ Austin Ruse
The Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam) reports on attempts by a UN-connected personage from Rutgers University and the University of Toronto who sought to promote New York’s recent adoption of a radically extreme abortion law permitting prenatal infanticide up to the moment of delivery.
“… the United Nations, at least a part of it, was involved in the controversial New York State law that codified the U.S. Supreme Court decisions imposing abortion on demand up to birth. Melissa Upreti … ‘special mandate holder’ connected to the UN Human Rights Council, testified … before the New York City Council Committee on Women in which she told councilmen that international law requires abortion on demand until birth. … The New York law was passed by the State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Similar laws have been proposed in other states. It is likely UN bodies are intervening there, too.”
Click here for: “UN Intervened to Change New York Abortion Law” – The Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam)/ Austin Ruse
- The Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam)
- Melissa Upreti [pro-abortion activist] – Rutgers University
- Melissa Upreti [pro-abortion activist] – LinkedIn
SCW NEWSWATCH: “Israel, in rare move, announces attacks on Iranian targets in Syria, delivers warning” – Fox
“Israel confirmed early Monday that its military attacked Iranian targets in Syria, in a rare statement on such an operation. … The military’s statement was issued hours after Israeli missile defenses intercepted an incoming missile over the Golan Heights in the wake of rare daylight air raid near the Damascus International Airport. … Israeli warplanes have used Lebanon’s airspace recently to strike deep inside Syria, including attacking a warehouse near Damascus International Airport earlier this month, according to Syrian state media. …”
We have started striking Iranian Quds targets in Syrian territory. We warn the Syrian Armed Forces against attempting to harm Israeli forces or territory.
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) January 20, 2019
Click here for: “Israel, in rare move, announces attacks on Iranian targets in Syria, delivers warning” – Fox News
SCW NEWSWATCH: “The New Geopolitics of the Arctic; Russia’s and China’s Evolving Role in the Region” – RAND/ Stephanie Pezard/ Canadian House of Commons Testimony
“Russia’s Arctic region is strategically important for the Kremlin …. First, it contains major population centers: With 350,000 inhabitants, Arkhangelsk is the largest Arctic town, followed by Murmansk, with 300,000 … Under … Putin, the Russian Arctic has been emphasized as a patriotic and nationalistic theme. Secondly, Russia’s economy relies heavily on its oil and gas industry, and such resources are heavily present in the Arctic, including in the Yamal region, where Russia has recently developed a massive liquified natural gas (LNG) plant and terminal. Russia … is particularly sensitive to security issues around energy infrastructure …. Thirdly, the Northern Sea Route (NSR) … along Russia’s northern shore, between the Kara Sea and the Bering Strait  is becoming increasingly navigable. … Russia’s Northern Fleet is based in the Kola Peninsula, near Murmansk, and contains two-thirds of Russia’s nuclear submarine fleet … the Arctic … protects Russia’s strategic deterrent and … allows a sizable share of its Navy to reach the northern Atlantic. Russia’s military capabilities in the Arctic have steadily increased over the past ten years. Russia has opened new airfields and refurbished old ones; created a dedicated northern command for the region; and set up two Arctic brigades. It also is planning to substantially increase its icebreaker fleet … already … the largest in the world. Russia’s new military base on Aleksandra Land is touted as the ‘largest building in the entire circumpolar high Arctic.’ …”
Click here for: “The New Geopolitics of the Arctic; Russia’s and China’s Evolving Role in the Region” – RAND/ Stephanie Pezard/ Canadian House of Commons Testimony
“… Putin said on Saturday there had been no discussion with Ukraine about the possible release of the Ukrainian sailors who were seized along with their ships by Russia last month. Putin spoke with reporters on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Buenos Aires. Russia is resisting international calls to release three Ukrainian naval ships that its border patrols fired upon and seized in the strait near Russian-annexed Crimea last weekend. …”
“Germany will not withdraw its political support for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with Russia, its foreign minister said … as some lawmakers suggested curtailing the project to punish Moscow for its seizure of Ukrainian ships and their crew. Russia is resisting international calls to release three Ukrainian ships seized last month in the Kerch Strait, which controls access to the Sea of Azov near the Crimea region that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014. … Russia’s Gazprom is the sole shareholder in Nord Stream 2, shouldering half of the construction cost. Its Western partners are Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, Anglo-Dutch group Royal Dutch Shell, France’s Engie and Austria’s OMV. …”
IN MEMORIAM: President George H. W. Bush – Online Obituary Guest Book for Public Remembrances at Legacy.com
“Former President George H. W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, died Nov. 30, 2018. He was 94. … What would you like to say about George H. W.?
“Russian energy majors are putting pressure on Western oil buyers to use euros instead of dollars for payments and introducing penalty clauses in contracts as Moscow seeks protection against possible new U.S. sanctions. … Western oil majors and trading houses have clashed with Russia’s third and fourth biggest producers, Gazprom Neft and Surgutneftegaz, over 2019 oil sales contract terms during unusually tough annual renegotiation in recent weeks. … mirror[ing] a similar stand-off between Western buyers and Russia’s top oil producer, Rosneft. * * * Russia has been under U.S. and EU sanctions since 2014 when it invaded Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. The sanctions have been repeatedly widened to include new companies and sectors, making it tough for Russian oil firms to borrow money abroad, raise new capital or develop Arctic and unconventional deposits. * * * … Russia supplies over 10 percent of global oil ….”
SCW NEWSWATCH: “Russia Challenges U.S. in Hosting Taliban at Afghan Talks” – Bloomberg/Henry Meyer, Eltaf Najafizada
“Russia is challenging the U.S. by hosting the Taliban at a Moscow peace conference in the latest source of friction …. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who pressed Russia to cancel a similar meeting in September, sent four senior members of his nation’s High Peace Council … * * * Russia, which backs Taliban demands for a pullout of American forces, invited regional powers including Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to the talks as well as the U.S. Ghani opposed the September meeting in a call to Lavrov, demanding that any peace moves be Afghan-led. * * * … Russia denies arming the Taliban though it says it’s in dialogue with the movement that ruled the country from 1996 to 2001. It fought a decade-long war in Afghanistan during the Soviet era, losing thousands of troops before a humiliating military withdrawal in 1989.”
Click here for: “Russia Challenges U.S. in Hosting Taliban at Afghan Talks” – Bloomberg/Henry Meyer, Eltaf Najafizada
“Scripture says, if #God is not the Architect, in vain do the builders labor.
Let’s #pray to do God’s Will.
In the upcoming #election, let’s pray to do God’s Will with how each of us casts a vote, as well as with our other democracy-related activities, such as conversations, bumper stickers, yard signs, online posts, volunteering activities and so forth. …”
SCW RUSSIAWIRE: “NATO Dusts Off a Cold War Skill: Moving Troops; Alliance is holding its biggest military exercise in decades, testing its ability to transport soldiers and equipment by road, rail and water” – Wall Street Journal/ Daniel Michaels
“… NATO’s largest exercise since the Cold War. … [involves] 50,000 troops …. [m]oving forces from 30 countries to Norway for … Trident Juncture …. [T]en thousand vehicles, 250 aircraft and 65 ships were dispatched …. * * * NATO and the [EU] … [have] agreed to deepen cooperation … including [with] mobility. The EU … spends billions … annually [on] infrastructure … [and] is adding NATO [ strategic transportation] requirements …. NATO … leaders approved … a new command to oversee logistics … and another to ensure Atlantic and Arctic sea lanes remain open …. * * * After Crimea’s seizure, NATO … realized how far their logistics capabilities had atrophied as alliance territory expanded. A dozen ex-communist countries had joined …. Yet NATO planners had ‘zero knowledge’ of their … infrastructure …. NATO launched a survey …. * * * Europe’s next step will be arranging trucks, ships and railcars that can be summoned on short notice …. Buying civilian equipment with military uses doesn’t count toward NATO members’ spending commitments ….”
Click here for: “NATO Dusts Off a Cold War Skill: Moving Troops; Alliance is holding its biggest military exercise in decades, testing its ability to transport soldiers and equipment by road, rail and water” – Wall Street Journal/ Daniel Michaels
“Russian investigators … opened a criminal probe into a failed rocket launch that caused a two-man crew to make an emergency landing shortly after blast-off to the [International Space Station] …. U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin were rescued without injuries …. An ‘anomaly’ with the booster led to the voyage … being aborted two minutes in, NASA said. The Russian space industry has suffered a series of problems in recent years, including the loss of a number of satellites and cargo spacecraft. [Roscosmo is headed by] Dmitry Rogozin … appointed by … Putin ….”
“The Russian military says it has conducted a massive test of the nation’s strategic nuclear forces … featur[ing] launches of ballistic missiles by the navy’s nuclear submarines from the Barents Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk. … long-range bombers also fired cruise missiles, the ministry said …. It added that Russia’s early warning system successfully spotted and tracked all launches. … test[ing] the chain of command from its main control room down to military units. …”
“… Accused by a number of Western nations and their Middle Eastern allies of war crimes, Assad has managed to largely overcome a 2011 rebel and jihadi uprising with the support of Russia and Iran. * * * The United States, Israel, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey were among the countries to fund efforts to overthrow the Syrian leader. The rise of ultraconservative Sunni Muslim organizations such as the Islamic State … and a sweeping Syrian military comeback … have changed the dynamics …. Defense Secretary James Mattis [said] in August that the U.S. goal was to ‘move the Syria civil war into the Geneva process so the Syrian people can establish a new government … not led by Assad and give them a chance for a future that Assad has denied them, with overt Russian and Iranian support.’ A document submitted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top diplomats … stressed that their countries would not support Syrian reconstruction efforts ‘before the beginning of political process led by the United Nations to achieve a comprehensive, honest and true political transition that cannot be reversed,’ according to Saudi Arabia’s Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. …”
“India and Russia … signed a pact to build six more nuclear reactors at a new site in India following summit talks …. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also agreed to cooperate on India’s plan for a manned space mission. Russian state-owned reactor manufacturer Rosatom said … the two countries want to build six Russian-design nuclear reactors on a new site in India, boost nuclear cooperation in third countries and new nuclear technologies and are considering building nuclear plants together. The firm said Russia would offer to build its third-generation VVER reactor on the new site and would increase the level of participation of Indian companies …. [T]he pact is not a firm contract … but an agreement to work toward a contract. … India has not chosen the new site yet, which could be controversial …. Last year, the Russian and Indian governments signed an agreement to build reactors 5 and 6 on the site and Putin said at the time that Russia is ready to build a dozen reactors in India over … 20 years. …”
“Syrian Turkey-backed rebel groups began to withdraw heavy weaponry from a demilitarized zone agreed [upon] by Turkey and Russia in northwest Syria on Saturday, rebels said. The Turkey-backed National Front for Liberation (NFL) rebel alliance said in a statement the process of withdrawing heavy weapons had begun, but the fighters would remain in their positions …. Under the deal … rebels will be required to withdraw by the middle of this month … and heavy weaponry must be withdrawn by Oct. 10. The NFL … said … rebels would remain … to assist Turkish troops monitoring and patrolling …. The main jihadist group in the Idlib area, Tahrir al-Sham, has yet to say whether it will comply with the agreement.”
Half of Senate Confirms Kavanaugh to Supreme Court, 50-48; Controversy Over Kavanaugh and Abortion, Blasey Ford
#Senate #Kavanaugh #SupremeCourt #Abortion #BlaseyFord #Trump
Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, on Oct. 6, 2018, was confirmed to a seat as Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court by a Senate vote of 50-48.
One Senator voting “present,” indicating that, while she would have voted “no,” she was pairing her vote, presumably as a courtesy, was pairing her vote with another Senator who was absent for his daughter’s wedding.
There was recurring bedlam from the Senate gallery, with Vice President Mike Pence repeatedly instructing the Sergeant at Arms to restore order.
So Kavanaugh was not actually confirmed by a majority of the Senate itself, but merely a slight majority of those Senators present. Had one vote changed to the negative, Pence could have broken the tie in favor of confirmation. Apparently if all Senators had been present, the Senator attending the wedding, and the Senator pairing her vote with him, would have made the total 51-49, also resulting in confirmation.
The Kavanaugh nomination drew controversy on multiple counts. Some proponents of decriminalized abortion suggested that Kavanaugh might become the deciding vote on the Court to scale back or reverse past decisions blocking prosecutions for abortion, while others suggested the Kavanaugh would actually uphold abortion.
The author of this article repeatedly raised concerns about Kavanaugh’s association with outgoing Justice Anthony Kennedy, and Kavanaugh’s ongoing publicly professed admiration for Kennedy.
Kennedy is one of the main architects of judicially spawned abortion in the United States, as well as a major architect of judicially fostered homosexual jurisprudence. Kennedy was the deciding vote and co-author of the Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania v. Casey decision in 1992 that carried forward decriminalized abortion when it essentially upheld but modified Roe v. Wade. Kavanaugh clerked for Kennedy within a year or so of that decision.
Kennedy would later vote, and co-author, Supreme Court jurisprudence promoting the idea of sodomy, homosexuality and homosexual “marriage” as Constitutional rights.
Kavanaugh updated and reaffirmed his association with Kennedy during Kavanaugh’s nomination process by declaring Kennedy to be a champion of liberty, leaving a legacy of liberty. As pointed out by the author, that position defies the notion that the first liberty is the right of the innocent not to be deprived of life, as well as the concept that a government’s legitimacy is grounded up its defense of human life, one of the tenets of other basic principles such as justice and peaceful social order.
Meanwhile, however excruciating or involved the confirmation and investigative process might have become, there appeared to be no definitive resolution of questions raised about past alcohol-related criminal sexual wrongdoing by Kavanaugh, alleged by psychology professor Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, or other issues raised by Ford or others. One might wonder why, and how, a process that became so intrusive and so involved did not manage to get to the bottom of what actually did, or did not, happen.
In the past, a scholar of evidence raised the point that, regardless of a generalized American concept of “innocent until proven guilty,” in law, itself, there are different standards of proof for different frameworks and different purposes. For example, a criminal proceeding aimed at depriving life or liberty requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, while a civil proceeding considering financial compensation only requires proof by a preponderance of the evidence. Even within a civil proceeding, there are different levels of proof for such steps as summary judgment, dismissal, the awarding of legal fees against a frivolous claim, and so forth.
In the case of a confirmation hearing, the issue is not whether to deprive the nominee of life or liberty, or of extracting money damages. The issue is whether to abstain from providing a position of great power. So, even though the subject matter relates to allegations of criminality and allegations of tortious misconduct, the standard of proof, and the willingness to remain neutral by not moving forward with confirmation, presumably could be different than the standards of proof for a criminal trial or civil proceeding.
SCW NEWSWATCH: “Nearly 200 Unvaccinated Children Sent Home From Schools Across North Dakota” – Newsweek
“Nearly 200 children who returned to school unvaccinated have been sent home across North Dakota … * * * One of the new required shots for school children is the meningococcal conjugate vaccine for 16- and 17-year-olds entering the 11th and 12th grades … [addressing] a serious bacterial infection that can cause meningitis and ‘possibly lead to death or permanent disability within hours of first symptoms’ …. the disease can also have … non-fatal consequences [such as] ‘… lifelong … neurological damage or loss of limbs. …’ Parents can ask for [moral or religious] exemptions …. Children who have been excluded usually return within three days, according to West Fargo Public Schools. … [T]he immunization rate for measles, mumps and rubella … [has a] national median of 94 percent, reported Inforum.”
Click here for: “Nearly 200 Unvaccinated Children Sent Home From Schools Across North Dakota” – Newsweek
SCW RUSSIAWIRE TRANSCRIPT, LINKS, WANTED POSTER: “U.S. Charges Russian GRU Officers with International Hacking and Related Influence and Disinformation Operations” – DOJ
FBI wanted poster and DOJ news release follow further below
Click here for:
- PDF of the 41-page indictment
- DOJ links hub for related materials
- DOJ news release
- FBI Wanted Poster
In the latest round of U.S. indictments of Russian figures in connection with espionage, hacking, or other covert activities, the U.S. Department of Justice, on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018, announced an indictment, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, of Russian GRU military intelligence officers Leksei Sergeyevich Morenets, Evgenii Mikhaylovich Serebriakov, Ivan Sergeyevich Yermakov, Artem Andreyevich Malyshev, Dmitriy Sergeyevich Badin, Oleg Mikhaylovich Sotnikov and Alexey Valerevich Minin, for conspiracy, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to launder money.
The Russian hacking and other covert activities were alleged to included activities targeting: international efforts against Russia’s state-sponsored program athletic doping; international efforts to enforce international norms regarding chemical weapons; and Westinghouse in western Pennsylvania.
[TRANSCRIPT OF DOJ NEWS RELEASE FOLLOWS]
Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 4, 2018
U.S. Charges Russian GRU Officers with International Hacking and Related Influence and Disinformation Operations
Conspirators Included a Russian Intelligence “Close Access” Hacking Team that Traveled Abroad to Compromise Computer Networks Used by Anti-Doping and Sporting Officials and Organizations Investigating Russia’s Use of Chemical Weapons
A grand jury in the Western District of Pennsylvania has indicted seven defendants, all officers in the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), a military intelligence agency of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, for computer hacking, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering.
According to the indictment, beginning in or around December 2014 and continuing until at least May 2018, the conspiracy conducted persistent and sophisticated computer intrusions affecting U.S. persons, corporate entities, international organizations, and their respective employees located around the world, based on their strategic interest to the Russian government.
Among the goals of the conspiracy was to publicize stolen information as part of an influence and disinformation campaign designed to undermine, retaliate against, and otherwise delegitimize the efforts of international anti-doping organizations and officials who had publicly exposed a Russian state-sponsored athlete doping program and to damage the reputations of athletes around the world by falsely claiming that such athletes were using banned or performance-enhancing drugs.
The charges were announced at a press conference by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania Scott W. Brady, FBI Deputy Assistant Director for Cyber Division, Eric Welling, and Director General Mark Flynn for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
“State-sponsored hacking and disinformation campaigns pose serious threats to our security and to our open society, but the Department of Justice is defending against them,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “Today we are indicting seven GRU officers for multiple felonies each, including the use of hacking to spread the personal information of hundreds of anti-doping officials and athletes as part of an effort to distract from Russia’s state-sponsored doping program. The defendants in this case allegedly targeted multiple Americans and American entities for hacking, from our national anti-doping agency to the Westinghouse Electric Company near Pittsburgh. We are determined to achieve justice in these cases and we will continue to protect the American people from hackers and disinformation.”
“The investigation leading to the indictments announced t (link is external)oday is the FBI at its best,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “The actions of these seven hackers, all working as officials for the Russian government, were criminal, retaliatory, and damaging to innocent victims and the United States’ economy, as well as to world organizations. Their actions extended beyond borders, but so did the FBI’s investigation. We worked closely with our international partners to identify the actors and disrupt their criminal campaign – and today, we are sending this message: The FBI will not permit any government, group, or individual to threaten our people, our country, or our partners. We will work tirelessly to find them, stop them, and bring them to justice.”
“We want the hundreds of victims of these Russian hackers to know that we will do everything we can to hold these criminals accountable for their crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Brady. State actors who target U.S. citizens and companies are no different than any other common criminal: they will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
The defendants, all Russian nationals and residents, are Aleksei Sergeyevich Morenets, 41, Evgenii Mikhaylovich, Serebriakov, 37, Ivan Sergeyevich Yermakov, 32, Artem Andreyevich Malyshev, 30, and Dmitriy Sergeyevich Badin, 27, who were each assigned to Military Unit 26165, and Oleg Mikhaylovich Sotnikov, 46, and Alexey Valerevich Minin, 46, who were also GRU officers.
The indictment alleges that defendants Yermakov, Malyshev, Badin, and unidentified conspirators, often using fictitious personas and proxy servers, researched victims, sent spearphishing emails, and compiled, used, and monitored malware command and control servers.
When the conspirators’ remote hacking efforts failed to capture log-in credentials, or if the accounts that were successfully compromised did not have the necessary access privileges for the sought-after information, teams of GRU technical intelligence officers, including Morenets, Serebriakov, Sotnikov, and Minin, traveled to locations around the world where targets were physically located. Using specialized equipment, and with the remote support of conspirators in Russia, including Yermakov, these close access teams hacked computer networks used by victim organizations or their personnel through Wi-Fi connections, including hotel Wi-Fi networks. After a successful hacking operation, the close access team transferred such access to conspirators in Russia for exploitation.
Among other instances, the indictment alleges that following a series of high-profile independent investigations starting in 2015, which publicly exposed Russia’s systematic state-sponsored subversion of the drug testing processes prior to, during, and subsequent to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics (according to one report, known as the “McLaren Report”), the conspirators began targeting systems used by international anti-doping organizations and officials. After compromising those systems, the defendants stole credentials, medical records, and other data, including information regarding therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs), which allow athletes to use otherwise prohibited substances.
Using social media accounts and other infrastructure acquired and maintained by GRU Unit 74455 in Russia, the conspiracy thereafter publicly released selected items of stolen information, in many cases in a manner that did not accurately reflect their original form, under the false auspices of a hacktivist group calling itself the “Fancy Bears’ Hack Team.” As part of its influence and disinformation efforts, the Fancy Bears’ Hack Team engaged in a concerted effort to draw media attention to the leaks through a proactive outreach campaign. The conspirators exchanged e-mails and private messages with approximately 186 reporters in an apparent attempt to amplify the exposure and effect of their message.
Each defendant is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, both of which carry a maximum sentence of 20 years. Defendants Morenets, Serebriakov, Yermakov, Malyshev, and Badin are each also charged with two counts of aggravated identity theft, which carries a consecutive sentence of two years in prison. Defendant Yermakov is also charged with five counts of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
Defendants Yermakov, Malyshev, and Badin are also charged defendants in federal indictment number CR 18-215 in the District of Columbia, and accused of conspiring to gain unauthorized access into the computers of U.S. persons and entities involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, steal documents from those computers, and stage releases of the stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
According to the indictment:
Context of the Hacking and Related Influence and Disinformation Efforts
In July 2016, the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Independent Person Report (the “First McLaren Report”) was released, describing Russia’s systematic state-sponsored subversion of the drug testing process prior to, during, and subsequent to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. This investigation had the support of advocates for clean sports, including the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES, Canada’s anti-doping agency). Eventually, in some instances only after arbitration rulings by the International Court of Arbitration for Sport (TAS/CAS), approximately 111 Russian athletes were excluded from the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, by a number of international athletics federations, including track-and-field’s International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) further imposed a blanket ban of Russian athletes from the 2016 Paralympic Games, which were also held in Rio.
Intrusion Activities in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Days after the release of the First McLaren Report and the International Olympic Committee’s and IPC’s subsequent decisions regarding the exclusion of Russian athletes, the conspirators prepared to hack into the networks of WADA, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), and TAS/CAS. The conspirators, including specifically defendants Yermakov and Malyshev, procured spoofed domains (which mimicked legitimate WADA and TAS/CAS domains) and other infrastructure, probed such entities’ networks, and spearphished WADA and USADA employees. Although Yermakov and Malyshev are both alleged to have prepared to send spearphishing e-mails to TAS/CAS, the indictment does not allege that organization was compromised.
Likely as a result of the conspirators’ failure to capture necessary log-in credentials, or because those victim accounts that were successfully compromised did not have the necessary access privileges for the sought-after information, defendants Morenets and Serebriakov, in at least one instance with the remote support of Yermakov, deployed to Rio to conduct hacking operations targeting and maintaining persistent access to Wi-Fi networks used by anti-doping officials. As a result of these efforts, in August 2016, the conspirators captured that IOC official’s credentials and thereafter used them, and another set of credentials belonging to the same official to gain unauthorized access to an account in WADA’s ADAMS database and medical and anti-doping related information contained therein. (The broader ADAMS database was not compromised in the intrusion.)
Also in 2016, a senior USADA anti-doping official traveled to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics and Paralympic games. While there, the USADA official used Wi-Fi at the hotel and other Wi-Fi access points in Rio to remotely access USADA’s computer systems and conduct official business. While the USADA official was in Rio, conspirators successfully compromised the credentials for his or her USADA email account, which included summaries of athlete test results and prescribed medications.
Intrusion Activities in Lausanne, Switzerland
In mid-September 2016, WADA hosted an anti-doping conference in Lausanne, Switzerland. On September 18, 2016, defendants Morenets and Serebriakov traveled to Lausanne with equipment used in close access Wi-Fi compromises. On or about September 19, 2016, Morenets and Serebriakov compromised the Wi-Fi network of a hotel hosting the conference and leveraged that access to compromise the laptop and credentials of a senior CCES official staying at the hotel. Other conspirators thereafter used the stolen credentials to compromise CCES’s networks in Canada, using a tool used to extract hashed passwords, the metadata of which indicated it was compiled by Badin.
Intrusion Targeting Anti-Doping Officials at Sporting Federations
In December 2016 and January 2017, conspirators successfully compromised the networks of IAAF and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (“FIFA”) and targeted computers and accounts used by each organization’s top anti-doping official. Among the data stolen from such officials were keylogs, file directories, anti-doping policies and strategies, lab results, medical reports, contracts with doctors and medical testing labs, information about medical testing procedures, and TUEs.
Related GRU Influence and Disinformation Operations
On September 12, 2016, shortly after the compromise of the IOC official’s ADAMS credentials, but before the compromise of USADA’s and CCES’s networks, conspirators claiming to be the hacktivist group Fancy Bears’ Hack Team used online accounts and other infrastructure procured and managed by Unit 74455, as well as the website fancybears.net, to publicly release TUEs, other medical information, and emails stolen from anti-doping officials at WADA, USADA, CCES, IAAF, FIFA, and approximately 35 other anti-doping agencies or sporting organizations. In some instances, the WADA documents were modified from their original form. Ultimately, the Fancy Bears’ Hack Team released stolen information that included private or medical information of approximately 250 athletes from almost 30 countries.
The conspirators’ release of the stolen information was, in some instances, accompanied by posts and other communications that parroted or supported themes that the Russian government had used in its official narrative regarding the anti-doping agencies’ investigative findings. From 2016 through 2018, the conspirators engaged in a proactive outreach campaign, using Twitter and e-mail to communicate with approximately 186 reporters about the stolen information. After articles were published, conspirators used the Fancy Bears’ Hack Team social media accounts to draw attention to the articles in an attempt to amplify the exposure and effect of their message.
Other Targets of the Conspiracy
The conspiracy is also alleged to have targeted other entities in the Western District of Pennsylvania and abroad that were of interest to the Russian government. For example, as early as November 20, 2014, Yermakov performed reconnaissance of Westinghouse Electric Company’s (WEC) networks and personnel. In the following months, Yermakov and conspirators created a fake WEC domain and sent spearphishing emails to WEC employees’ work and personal email accounts, which were designed to harvest the employees’ log-in credentials.
More recently, in April 2018, Morenets, Serebriakov, Sotnikov, and Minin, all using diplomatic passports, traveled to The Hague in the Netherlands in furtherance of another close access operation targeting the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) computer networks through Wi-Fi connections. All four GRU officers intended to travel thereafter to Spiez, Switzerland, to target the Spiez Swiss Chemical Laboratory, an accredited laboratory of the OPCW which was analyzing military chemical agents, including the chemical agent that the United Kingdom authorities connected to the poisoning of a former GRU officer in that country. However, Morenets, Serebriakov, Sotnikov, and Minin were disrupted during their OPCW hacking operation by the Militaire Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst (MIVD), the Dutch defense intelligence service. As part of this disruption, Morenet’s and Serebriakov’s abandoned the Wi-Fi compromise equipment, which they had placed in the trunk of a rental car parked adjacent to the OPCW property. Data obtained from at least one item of this equipment confirmed its operational use at multiple locations around the world, including connections to the Wi-Fi network of the CCES official’s hotel in Switzerland (the dates the conspirators conducted the Wi-Fi compromise of the senior CCES official’s laptop at the same hotel), and at another hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in December 2017.
In connection with the unsealing of the indictment, and in an effort to limit further exposure of the private lives of victim athletes, the FBI seized the fancybears.net and fancybears.org domains pursuant to court orders issued on October 3, 2018, in the Western District of Pennsylvania.
The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. Moreover, the maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentence of a defendant will be determined by the assigned judge.
The FBI, led by the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia Field Offices, conducted the investigation that resulted in charges announced today. The FBI’s investigation was assisted by a parallel, independent Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation. This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania and the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance throughout this investigation, as did the MIVD, the Government of the Netherlands, Switzerland’s Office of the Attorney General, the U.K.’s National Security and Intelligence Agencies, and many of the FBI’s Legal Attachés and other foreign authorities around the world.
Note: More information can be found at [justice.gov/opa/documents-and-resources-october-4-2018-press-conference]
National Security Division (NSD)
Press Release Number:
18 – 1296
SCW RUSSIAWIRE: “Russian spies accused of targeting watchdog investigating UK chemical attacks, probe into MH17 crash[; U.S. indicts Russian military intelligence figures” – Fox News
“Russia’s military spy service has been behind a wave of massive cyber attacks … with targets ranging from the international chemical weapons watchdog group to the probe into the downing of a Malaysian Airlines plane over Ukraine, officials said Thursday. … the [UK] National Cyber Security Centre … [indicated] that Russia’s GRU has engaged in ‘indiscriminate and reckless’ cyber attacks … target[ing] ‘political institutions, businesses, media, and sport.’ * * * ‘… demonstrat[ing] their desire to operate without regard to international law or established norms … with a feeling of impunity and without consequences,’ U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said. … [T]he cyber attacks … [are said to] include the 2016 hack of the [DNC] … published … by WikiLeaks, and the leaking of top athletes’ medical records. Also on Thursday, the U.S. Justice Department charged seven Russian military intelligence officers with hacking anti-doping agencies and other organizations either remotely or … ‘on-site’ ….
[The] indictment … said that the GRU targeted … hacking victims … [for] support[ing] a ban on Russian athletes … and … condemn[ing] Russia’s state-sponsored … doping …. Prosecutors said the Russian spies also targeted a Pennsylvania-based nuclear energy company and an international organization … investigating chemical weapons in Syria and the poisoning of a former GRU officer.”
Click here for: “Russian spies accused of targeting watchdog investigating UK chemical attacks, probe into MH17 crash” – Fox News
SCW NEWSWATCH: “Exit Strategy: Rule of Law and the U.S. Army [Excerpt and Link]” – U.S. Army War College/ Shima D. Keene/ September 2018
[text provided for informational purposes or to spur reflection and debate; inclusion does not imply specific or particular endorsement]
[Click here for: “[PDF] Exit Strategy: Rule of Law and the U.S. Army [Excerpt and Link]” – U.S. Army War College/ Shima D. Keene/ September 2018]
The importance of establishing rule of law in post-conflict states has been recognized as key in delivering stability in fragile states in the short, medium, and long term. This is in the interest of the U.S. Army and its partners not only from a [counterinsurgency] COIN perspective, but also to protect U.S. security interests both at home and abroad. To that aim, assistance is required to ensure that in post-conflict environments, the management and maintenance of security is successfully transferred to civilian organizations such as the police and the justice system more generally. It is only when this successful transition occurs and sustainable rule of law has been established that military commitments can cease. As such, it is essential that the end state to a successful civilian handover form part of a plan for disengagement after an intervention.
However, one key challenge for organizations (such as the police) emerging from conflict is the requisite to transition from a combat function to a more traditional policing function. This is difficult due not only to a lack of the necessary skill sets, but also because of the need for a fundamental change in mindset about the purpose of policing. The U.S. Army can play an important role in facilitating the establishment of effective rule of law institutions and practices in post-conflict states in many ways. Additionally, a lack of appreciation of the importance of civilian institutions and their role in establishing rule of law will lead to an exacerbation of the problem.
Delivering rule of law interventions is a complex task involving multiple stakeholders. Numerous challenges exist, each of which can prevent the establishment of effective and sustainable rule of law institutions. This in turn is likely to lead to a requirement for further military support from the U.S. Army resulting in even longer term deployments in what can become an unending conflict. In order to avoid unintended consequences which will have the impact of undermining rule of law interventions carried out by the U.S. Army and its partners more broadly, the following recommendations should be considered in shaping future U.S. Army interventions relating to establishing rule of law as part of its future COIN and state building missions.
Recommendation 1: Contextual Understanding Develop a broad understanding of the rule of law landscape in the post-conflict state in question, and identify key challenges which may deter the establishment of effective and sustainable rule of law institutions.
Recommendation 2: Unintended Consequences Consider the potential unintended consequences of U.S. Army interventions in training local police forces and other rule of law interventions, and determine how can these be mitigated or avoided.
Recommendation 3: Strategic Objectives Reevaluate objectives to ensure that expectations are realistic in terms of what is to be achieved and the timescale in which to achieve them. Consider the impact of short-term mission objectives in attempting to achieve medium to long-term objectives. Recommendation 4: Sustainability Ensure that rule of law interventions are sustainable after withdrawal of troops and form part of U.S. Army exit strategies. Ensure that these are integrated into post-conflict planning before intervention is considered.
Recommendation 5: COIN versus State Building Address the existing confusion between the combat element of COIN operations and state building missions, and understand how this conflict can undermine both operations.
Recommendation 6: Police Training Determine the role that the U.S. Army should play in facilitating a transition from military to civilian rule of law, and exercise particular attention to challenges relating to corporate culture.
Recommendation 7: Skills Shortages Determine when and how rule of law mechanisms and advisors should be integrated into stability operations and consider how the U.S. Army could better utilize its Reserve Forces to provide capacity and specialist skills to facilitate civilian transition.
Recommendation 8: Corruption and Human Rights Abuses[:] Adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward corruption and human rights abuses and provide remedial education where such practices may have become institutionalized.
Recommendation 9: Management and Oversight: Provide management and oversight of third party contractors through deployment of the U.S. Army Corps of Engi neers to ensure that construction projects relating to rule of law interventions are completed to the required specifications.
Recommendation 10: International Liaison Highlight other partner institutions the U.S. Army could or should be engaging with to ensure a coordinated approach to the establishment of effective rule of law institutions and practices in the host country.”
[Click here for: “[PDF] Exit Strategy: Rule of Law and the U.S. Army [Excerpt and Link]” – U.S. Army War College/ Shima D. Keene/ September 2018]
[more publication information set out further below on this webpage]
[original publication, at https://ssi.armywarcollege.edu/pubs/download.cfm?q=1387 contains the following notice:
“Shima D. Keene
The views expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. Authors of Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) and U.S. Army War College (USAWC) Press publications enjoy full academic freedom, provided they do not disclose classified information, jeopardize operations security, or misrepresent official U.S. policy. Such academic freedom empowers them to offer new and sometimes controversial perspectives in the interest of furthering debate on key issues. This report is cleared for public release; distribution is unlimited.
This publication is subject to Title 17, United States Code, Sections 101 and 105. It is in the public domain and may not be copyrighted.”]
SCW NEWSWATCH & VIDEO: “Saudis and Russia Open the Oil Taps While the Market Shrugs” – Bloomberg/ Elena Mazneva/ Annmarie Hordern/ Dina Khrennikova/ Grant Smith/ Jack Farchy
“Russia and Saudi Arabia are pumping an extra 1 million barrels a day of oil and could do even more. Yet the market [has had only a muted price reaction]. After their September meeting … spurred prices to a four-year high, the world’s two largest oil exporters sought … to ease … price worries of consumers, and the U.S. president. Russia is pumping record volumes of crude … Saudi Arabia is almost there …. … Trump has been blaming [OPEC] for rising crude prices ever since he [ended] the [Iran] nuclear agreement … and reimpose[d] sanctions. Last month, the group appeared to rebuff his calls for a rapid production increase to offset the drop in Iranian shipments, prompting a surge in prices and even harsher rhetoric. … Russia … already broke its post-Soviet production record last month [and] could add another 200,000 to 300,000 barrels a day of supply within a ‘few months,’ according to Energy Minister Alexander Novak. The oil price is … probably ‘a bit too high,’ he said ….”
Click here for: “Saudis and Russia Open the Oil Taps While the Market Shrugs” – Bloomberg/ Elena Mazneva/ Annmarie Hordern/ Dina Khrennikova/ Grant Smith/ Jack Farchy
Former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was one of the architects of Abortionism as the deciding vote and co-author of the 1992 Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania v. Casey decision that modified Roe v. Wade yet carried forward the decriminalization of abortion.
Yet, within a year, current Donald Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh signed on as a law clerk for Anthony Kennedy. Rather than repudiate that decision and apologize, during his nomination process, Kavanaugh instead has ratified and updated his association with Kennedy by calling Kennedy a champion of liberty, saying Kennedy has left a legacy of liberty.
So Kavanaugh clerked for a pro-abortion Justice who was the deciding vote keeping abortion going, and now promotes the pro-abortion Justice as a “champion of liberty.”
If you are prolife, you need to oppose the Kavanaugh nomination. And, if you do not, it calls into question whether you were ever pro-life to begin with.
Kavanaugh additionally allowed pro-abortion Condolleeza Rice to help introduce him before the Judiciary Committee.
Kavanaugh’s association with powerful, celebrity pro-abortion figures implies a shocking lack of moral conscience and poor judgment.
Abortion is the biggest human rights violation of our time, and he has associated himself with it by his actions and his remarks.
Human life, and the right of the innocent not to be killed, is the most fundamental of liberties, making abortion one of the biggest enemies of liberty. Protection of innocent human life also is one of the foundations of legitimate government, one of the excuses government has for existing in the first place. Yet Kavanaugh has associated himself with enemies of the right to life and persons who thereby have set themselves against the defense of American lives.
Working for a pro-abortion judge, alone, is enough to make Kavanaugh unfit. Yet calling a pro-abortion judge a champion of liberty means that Kavanaugh is a person who stands liberty upside-down and someone whose analytical intellect is either wholly unfit or twisted by self-serving dishonesty.
One can only speculate as to Kavanaugh’s motives, then and now.
Yet one of the biggest problems with abortion today is the risk that something horrific and unthinkable, the deliberate taking of defenseless human life, has become “business as usual” or routine. Kavanaugh’s casual attitude towards saluting Kennedy contributes to a climate of human life being regarded as cheap and expendable.
Kavanaugh’s flippant, oblivious attitude stands in the way of the necessary readjustment of public attitudes about this widespread human rights violation.
As such, Kavanaugh might even be responsible for deaths already. Women in difficult situations, pressured into confused acquiescence with the killing of their child, might back their way into because some segments of society wish to blur over the nature of the situation. Kavanaugh has added to the blur.
Given his origins as a local Washingtonian child of privilege, we have no idea to what extent Kavanaugh is a self-serving social climber who decided to “go along to get along.” We know that, amidst accusations of drunken, underaged, psychopathic, criminal behavior, Kavanaugh, in a sometimes emotionalistic set of responses, blurted out defensive remarks about his high school class rank — as if that piece of data had any relevance whatsoever to the charges.
Now, Kavanaugh did not even go to the best school for boys in the Washington area. That would be Saint Anselm’s Abbey Academy, traditionally one of the top-10 schools in America for SAT scores. Kavanaugh went to a different school that presumably is respectable academically, yet is more of a posh, country-club-like school. Yet if, all these years later, as a would-be grown-up, aKvanaugh still gets excited about his class rank, to the point that he apparently thinks it helps deflect accusations of criminality, just how important was it to him to climb the social ladder, such as with Yale, plumb judicial clerkships and so forth.
Kavanugh is somebody who was made a partner at Kirkland & Ellis less than a decade out of law school, with no law firm experience, based solely on his judicial clerkships, a brief stint with the Solicitor General and his work for Special Prosecutor Ken Starr.
Did Kavanaugh really not care about the mass murder of innocent American babies in the womb, if being oblivious to that horror meant fluffing his resume with a Supreme Court clerkship, instead of rejecting involvement with a human rights violator?
Is his desire to fluff his credentials now so great, that he wants to continue gliding along in the giddy heights of legal profession and Washingtonian elites, by fantasizing that the clerkship was something impressive, with a champion of liberty, rather than a black mark on his record that should bar him from his own judicial appointment?
In any event, his current posture makes him morally and intellectually unfit for judicial office.
If you, yourself, want to be known as prolife, you cannot support him. If you do support him, you are making it “open season” to expose yourself as not being prolife.
And that goes for the big-money anti-abortion groups that have decided to endorse Kavanaugh personally instead of simply addressing the broader issue. With roughly 60 million surgical abortions in the United States and counting, it would be silly to refer to anything like a “pro-lif establishment.” Yet, to the extent that some big-money nonprofits have tainted themselves by endorsing a troubled nominee like Kavanaugh, they also have exposed themselves as not being a good source of insight or leadership, as not being authentically prolife; and as not being an appropriation destination for financial gifts.
Again, if you, yourself, want to be known as prolife, you cannot support Kavanaugh. If you do support him, you are exposing yourself as not being prolife.
SCW RUSSIAWIRE: “Ukraine needs Azov Sea base to counter new Russian threat: military chief” – Reuters
“Ukraine will build a military base on the Azov Sea and has sent more forces to the area to counter a worsening Russian threat, Ukraine’s armed forces head [said] … referring to an arm of the Black Sea [where Ukraine and Russia both have coastlines]. Ukraine has been at loggerheads with Russia since the 2014 annexation of Crimea and more than 10,000 people have died in fighting between Ukrainian troops and Moscow-backed separatists. Ukraine and NATO countries accuse Russia of supplying troops and heavy weapons to eastern Ukraine, which Moscow denies. Viktor Muzhenko, Chief of the General Staff, said Russia had moved beyond covert fighting in the Donbass region, home of a Kremlin-backed separatist insurgency, to building up its military presence on Ukraine’s borders and nakedly aggressive actions against ships sailing to Ukrainian ports. * * * … Muzhenko said [U.S.-supplied] Javelin [anti-tank missiles] ha[ve] been tested … but … not … deployed in battle …. Asked whether Ukraine wanted to buy the U.S. Patriot air defense system, he said various options were being considered.”
Click here for: “Ukraine needs Azov Sea base to counter new Russian threat: military chief” – Reuters
SCW RUSSIAWIRE: “Russia begins missile system delivery to Syria, warns West on peace talks” – Reuters
“Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday Moscow had started delivering the S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Syria … Russia, along with Iran, has helped Assad recover huge amounts of lost territory in Syria without persuading him to agree to any political reforms. It has also pushed its own talks with Iran and Turkey, known as the Astana process. … Some diplomats have said [an] Israeli incident [involving Syria shooting down a Russian plane during an incursion by Israeli jets] and a Turkish-Russian deal to suspend an offensive on the last rebel-held stronghold of Idlib could provide a window to push for … U.N. Security Council [UNSC] resolution 2254 [aiming to end the] conflict in Syria. The [UNSC] … has mandated [that] U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura … get a deal on a new constitution, new elections and a reform of Syria’s governance. …”
Click here for: “Russia begins missile system delivery to Syria, warns West on peace talks” – Reuters
SCW RUSSIAWIRE: “Huge Military Drills Show Both the Limits and the Durability of China-Russia Ties” – RAND/World Politics Review
“In the largest Russian military exercise since the height of the Cold War, Moscow … [in September] deploy[ed] 300,000 troops, 900 tanks and 1,000 aircraft in central and eastern Russia. … [for] ‘Vostok 2018,’ or East Exercise 2018 …. for the first time ever, Chinese military forces … participate[d], with plans to send 3,200 troops and 30 aircraft over the border into eastern Russia. … highlight[ing] two important, seemingly contradictory [aspects of] the relationship between China and Russia. First, the appearance of military cooperation masks deep strategic distrust and suspicion below the surface. … [Yet] strong incentives and a lack of alternatives provide a sturdy foundation for a continued strategic partnership going forward. Vostok 2018 represents the latest in a series of combined Chinese-Russian military exercises stretching back more than a decade. Their militaries have been training together since 2005, and China and Russia have been holding joint naval exercises every year since 2012, including near each other’s respective hotspots. Last year, China sent three naval ships to its first jointly held exercise with Russian forces in the Baltic Sea. In 2016, the two navies carried out a joint exercise in the South China Sea … [after] a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague rejecting China’s territorial claims in the contested waterway. Warm political statements by top Chinese and Russian leaders have complemented these military actions. …”
Click here for: “Huge Military Drills Show Both the Limits and the Durability of China-Russia Ties” – RAND/World Politics Review/Timothy R. Heath … or click here for longer version
Brett Kavanaugh’s Association with Pro-Abortion Anthony Kennedy Renders Him Unsuitable for the Supreme Court
Brett Kavanaugh’s association with, and ongoing endorsement of, pro-abortion former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy as a champion of “liberty,” reveals Kavanaugh’s lack of moral compass and judicial and intellectual incompetence. As such, any loyal American and any person with respect for human life should oppose his confirmation to the Supreme Court and call for his removal from the judiciary.
The biggest threat to American lives, for four decades, has been so-called “abortion,” the deliberate taking of human life in a mother’s womb. Sixty million surgical abortions alone since the Roe v. Wade decision blocked prosecutions for abortion make it a bigger killer of Americans than all wars combined. On average, abortion is nearly like having 9/11 occur every single day.
In 1992, abortion was kept decriminalized by Planned Parenthood v. Casey, with Anthony Kennedy serving as the deciding vote and co-author of the main opinion.
Yet, despite Kavanaugh’s supposed affiliation with the Catholic Faith, and despite his supposedly elite education, Kavanaugh was willing to serve as a law clerk for Anthony Kennedy within a year of Kennedy’s human rights violation as a perpetrator of Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
If Kavanaugh had repudiated his past association with Kennedy, and attributed it immaturity, or a lack of awareness of the horrific scope and nature of abortion within less than two decades of Roe v. Wade, there still would be cause to reject his nomination.
Yet, right up until the present, and throughout his nomination process, Kavanaugh has aggravated his wrongdoing, updated his association with Kennedy, and made it even more egregious by referencing Anthony Kennedy as having a legacy of liberty or being a champion of liberty.
That places Kavanaugh in the position of praising and admiring one of the architects of some of the most massive and atrocious human rights violations in human history.
Additionally, the scope of abortion as, literally, a direct threat and attack on the American population, calls for charges of de facto treason, and calls into question Kavanaugh’s patriotism and loyalty to the United States.
These facts alone would require a rejection of his nomination.
Defense of human life is the cornerstone of a national government’s right to exist, its justification for being a government.
Yet to associate an architect of decriminalized abortion with liberty, a cornerstone value of the American Republic, not only reveals Kavanaugh as an anti-American hypocrite, it calls into question his competency to engage in rational thought and honest intellectual analysis, and therefore calls into question his capacity to serve on the bench.
The most fundamental liberty, and first liberty interest mentioned in the nation’s founding Declaration of Independence, is the right to live and not be killed.
Abortion, the deliberate taking of defenseless human life, is the opposite of liberty.
Indeed, it is the defenselessness of the targeted victim that helps defines abortion. If a child in the womb had the capacity to defend herself, there would be no abortion.
Moreover, abortion’s scope is not only an existential threat to America, it is an existential threat to American democracy and the legitimacy of the American government. It is not simply the the case that government justifies its existence on its ability to defend human life, but embraces the taking of human life on a massive scale.
Decriminalized surgical Abortion has killed roughly the same number of persons necessary to get elected to the Presidency. One of the major political parties is in a position where it cannot form a legitimate government, because roughly as many Americans have been killed, in their mothers’ wombs, as the number of votes that party gets in presidential elections. It would be like Hitler murdering 6 million Jews, getting 6 million votes from Nazis, and claiming that he was duly elected by the nation as a whole.
And, in addition to some Republicans being pro-abortion themselves, lukewarm Republicans mouthing anti-abortion positions but tepidly failing to take action to remedy the situation, call into question their own weak leadership and legitimacy.
Yet, on the level of intellect and rational analysis, Kavanaugh’s lauding of the person most responsible for decriminalized abortion as a champion of “liberty” is not simply treasonous.
It is, to put it simply, stupid.
Since getting killed is the opposite of liberty, Kavanaugh lauding an architect of the mass-killing of innocent American lives makes Kavanaugh sound like a manipulative liar and an intellectually stunted buffoon.
Additionally troubling is the context of Kavanaugh as a Washingtonian child of privilege, raising the prospect of him “going along to get along,” putting status and prestige, and resume-filling, ahead of right and wrong and ahead of loyalty to the nation. His continued malfeasance in praising Kennedy raises the prospect of Kavanaugh of putting the desire to be “in with the in-crowd,” whether in Washington or in the troubled would-be “legal” profession ahead of moral and intellectual sanity, and ahead of the duty to protect American lives.
Any loyal American should oppose the Kavanaugh nomination.
Any person wanting to respect human life should oppose the Kavanaugh nomination.
Andy would-be “anti-abortion” group or individual, or would-be “conservative” group or individual that endorses Kavanaugh should be dismissed as contrary to their supposed mission; should be denied donations or honors; and should be rejected as a would-be voice for pro-life or traditional values.
Any legislator promoting the Kavanaugh nomination should be rejected and voted out. If such a person has been posing as pro-life or traditional values or conservative, that might help explain why decriminalized abortion has malingered on for four decades — because someone flying a “false flag” took up space in the body politic that should have gone to someone who actually holds those values.
Of course, another reason that decriminalized abortion has malingered on has been Congress going AWOL, committing dereliction of duty and drawing their salary under false pretenses, by failing to carry out their Constitutional duty to impeach and remove renegade judges — renegade judges and justices committing crimes against the Constitution and associating with the treasonous mass-killings of Americans in their mother’s wombs.
The Constitution provides measures for its own amending. A renegade judge or justice amending the Constitution in violation of that provision — such as by judicial fiat, by a vote of less than ten politically lawyers serving as justices — has committed an illegal act.
A renegade judge doing so, with the foreseeable and known result of the mass-murder of Americans, should be regarded as treasonous.
The Constitution does not have a gap allowing such a thing to happen; the Founding Fathers did not have a lack of foresight to fail to provide for such a contingency. The Constitution provides for the removal of judges, by action of Congress. Failure to carry out that Constitutional duty makes the weak, derelict legislators accessories by omission.
If we see that the same people pushing the Kavanaugh nomination also have failed to carry out their Constitutional duties of office, if we see that they have failed to take steps to remove renegade judges, then their involvement with Kavanaugh provides a useful filter calling for their exposure and removal — a fresh reminder that they need to be rejected as failed leaders and removed from office, and replaced with actual leaders who will do their jobs and be loyal to America.
Of course, an added factor is that President Donald Trump also has praised Anthony Kennedy.
As long as Trump remains in office, it is up to Americans to send the nomination back to Trump, and tell him to “get it right’ this time by rejecting Anthony Kennedy’s anti-American legacy and nominating a proper nominee instead of Kavanaugh.
Meanwhile, Trump has added further disgrace by appointing a pro-abortion Republican, Rudolph Giuliani, to a key White House post.
If there is an effort to “Dump Trump,” these embarrassing missteps should prompt such a movement now, while there is still time before the next Presidential election.
A Republican failure to do so would further expose, as fraudulent “cocktail conservatives,” any Republicans who additionally demonstrate a disrespect for the nation by attempting to push forward the troubled Kavanaugh nomination.
“… With 95 percent of votes counted on Sunday night, Kremlin-backed United Russia incumbent Andrei Tarasenko was trailing his Communist rival by around 5 percent. But on Monday, the local election commission said Tarasenko had won by just over 1 percent, an unlikely turnaround that the Communists said was evidence of rigging. The scandal is awkward for Putin, who met Tarasenko a week ago and told him that ‘everything will be OK.’ The comment was widely seen as a personal endorsement of Tarasenko, whom Putin appointed acting governor last year, at a time when Putin’s own ratings are under pressure from plans to raise the pension age. … A week ago in the Primorsky Region, which includes the Pacific port of Vladivostok, 6,400 km (4,000 miles) east of Moscow, Tarasenko failed to pass the 50-percent threshold for an outright win. …”
“… house-flipping is making a comeback … this time in … Rust Belt cities the last boom passed by. … Today’s house-flippers … buying properties and selling … within 12 months  … are mainly contractors and professional renovators who buy run-down properties in promising neighborhoods and fix them up, boosting the resale value. … those who contributed to the speculative frenzy of the early 2000s would typically take out a mortgage to buy a home, perhaps give it a new coat of paint [and] wait for prices to rise enough …. [O]ld industrial cities such as Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Cleveland … are beginning to attract tech firms, such as Google-parent Alphabet Inc, Uber … and Amazon … boosting demand for … in areas that have … old housing stock … and not much new construction …. Nationally, the average house-flipper earned a 44.3 percent gross return … this year, compared with … 35.3 percent during the boom. …”
SCW RUSSIAWIRE: “Russia: Runoffs in Four Regional Races Reveal the Kremlin’s Vulnerability” [Excerpt] – Stratfor
“… Putin … in his fourth and perhaps final term as Russia’s president, faced a key political test in regional elections …. though the ruling party, United Russia, won most of the races – which included gubernatorial elections in 22 regions, legislative elections in 16 regions and a mayoral election in Moscow – it faced stiffer competition and more unrest than usual. In a record four regions, the ruling party’s gubernatorial candidates failed to obtain a simple majority … and will stand in runoff elections Sept. 23. Their opponents are candidates from the Communist and Liberal Democratic parties, registered political parties that work within Russia’s political system and don’t pose a strong threat to Putin’s government. Even so, the result is troubling for the ruling party and practically unprecedented …. The main force behind United Russia’s comparatively lackluster performance in the polls is the Kremlin’s plan to increase the retirement age. …”
Click here for: “Russia: Runoffs in Four Regional Races Reveal the Kremlin’s Vulnerability” – Stratfor.com
SCW RUSSIAWIRE: “Russia Inc. Isn’t Waiting for Central Bank to Brave a Rate Hike” – Bloomberg/Anna Andrianova
“The cost of money is rising for Russians well ahead of any potential central bank move to lift interest rates for the first time in almost four years amid concern the U.S. may impose fresh sanctions. State-run Sberbank PJSC, which holds almost half of all Russian savings, is increasing rates for ruble accounts for the first time since 2014. … [and] pay[ing] consumers more to keep dollars on deposit to stanch an outflow …. One of the country’s five largest mortgage lenders, Raiffeisenbank JSC, is charging more for home loans …. From sausages to gasoline, inflation is on the march …. with the central bank’s benchmark on hold at 7.25 percent since a quarter-point cut in March, rates adjusted for inflation remain among Europe’s highest …. “
Click here for: “Russia Inc. Isn’t Waiting for Central Bank to Brave a Rate Hike” – Bloomberg/Anna Andrianova
SCW RUSSIAWIRE: “A Dossier Debunking; His lawyer says the Steele claims about Michael Cohen are false” – Wall Street Journal Editorial
“Michael Cohen’s accusations have replaced Russian collusion as Washington’s reason-du-jour to impeach Donald Trump …. Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, confirmed last week that Cohen has never been to Prague in the Czech Republic. … the Steele dossier … commissioned by oppo-research firm Fusion GPS, paid for by the Clinton campaign and used by the FBI in its Trump investigation. … claims … Cohen traveled to Prague in August or September of 2016 to discuss with Kremlin officials how to make ‘cash payments’ to hackers of the Clinton campaign. … Cohen has … offered his passport as proof. …”
Click here for: “A Dossier Debunking; His lawyer says the Steele claims about Michael Cohen are false” – Wall Street Journal Editorial
SCW RUSSIAWIRE VIDEO: “U.S.-Russian Relations – State and Treasury Department Officials Testimony Before Senate Foreign Relations Committee 7.21.18” – C-SPAN
“[July 21, 2018, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing]… Topics included new reports of Russian interference in American democracy, the current state of sanctions against Russian government officials and companies, and clarifying details into the July 2018 Helsinki meeting between … Trump and … Putin. Several members referenced a recent Microsoft claim alleging a Russian plot targeting conservative think tanks and institutions.
… the second in a [series] of Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on … the Trump administration’s ‘overall posture on Russia.’ ….”
SCW RUSSIAWIRE: “In Russia, the Corporate Raiders Are Often Cops; Companies face harassment from law-enforcement officials, according to business owners, lawyers and activists” – Wall Street Journal/James Marson, Thomas Grove
“… Russian companies routinely face harassment from law-enforcement officials seeking to extort money or expropriate businesses, according to business owners, lawyers and activists. One in six Russian business owners is facing criminal prosecution, according to [a Kremlin-launched agency]. … weaker prices for oil … and Western sanctions in 2014 sent the economy into a recession that it only emerged from last year. … Putin’s authoritarian rule relies on security officials and political heavyweights who use their authority not only to squash political opponents but also to squeeze companies for payoffs, seize them on behalf of rivals or take them over for themselves, critics say. … mak[ing] changes to the justice system potentially perilous. … [P]eople who should be building Russia’s economy are losing their businesses and their freedom. Russian courts found 99.8% of defendants guilty … and are ripe for hijacking using fabricated cases …. Resisting can be risky and often ends with the company being destroyed anyway. ….”
Click here for: “In Russia, the Corporate Raiders Are Often Cops; Companies face harassment from law-enforcement officials, according to business owners, lawyers and activists” – Wall Street Journal/James Marson, Thomas Grove
SCW NEWSWATCH: “Russia Offers 62-mile Buffer Between Iranian Forces and Israel-Syria Border, Senior Official Says; Israel is demanding that long-range weapons that could circumvent such a buffer zone also be withdrawn” – Haaretz
“Russia is working to ensure the removal of Iranian forces to 100 kilometers (62 miles) away from the Golan Heights, but Israel is demanding that long-range weapons that could circumvent such a buffer zone also be withdrawn, a senior Israeli official said … after a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and top Russian officials. The official said that Israel prefers to act now rather than wait until Iran has ‘hundreds and thousands of missiles’ in Syria, and that the government will not allow Iran ‘to turn Syria into another Lebanon.’
* * *
[Separately,] Mike Pompeo denounced Iran’s leaders as a ‘mafia’ and promised unspecified backing for Iranians unhappy with their government. …”
Click here for: “Russia Offers 62-mile Buffer Between Iranian Forces and Israel-Syria Border, Senior Official Says; Israel is demanding that long-range weapons that could circumvent such a buffer zone also be withdrawn” – Haaretz
“The Trump administration’s war of words against Iran reflects a widening diplomatic chasm, and comments from four leaders over the past two days make it clear that tensions are rising dramatically. … [Iranian] President Hassan Rouhani …. Ayatollah Khamenei …. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo …. “
* * *
To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018
* * *
“Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday Moscow would respond if Sweden and Finland were drawn into the NATO alliance and that such expansion would undermine global security, the Interfax news agency reported. …”
[featured image is file photo from another occasion]
Brett Kavanaugh, Trump Supreme Court Nominee, Clerked for Pro-Abortion Anthony Kennedy, Year After Kennedy Cast Deciding Pro-Abortion Vote in Planned Parenthood v. Casey
For the second time in a row, President Donald Trump has nominated to the Supreme Court someone who chose to clerk for pro-abortion Justice Anthony Kennedy not long after Kennedy cast the deciding vote to keep abortion decriminalized, despite abortion being the biggest threat to American lives and one of the most grotesque human rights violations of this era.
Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which modified yet, nevertheless, reaffirmed Roe v. Wade, was argued April 22, 1992 and decided on June 29, 1992.
Trump’s latest nominee to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, signed on to be a law clerk for Kennedy for the October term of 1993, according to Kavanaugh’s public biography on the D.C. Court of Appeals web site.
By comparison, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is listed as having clerked for Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy in 1993 and 1994. (Gorsuch’s path was a bit more circuitous. He was hired as a kind of retirement benefit for a newly retired Justice White, similar to former presidents being provided a secretary. While on the scene, he benefited from the opportunity for such “clerks” to also be added to the work done for actual, active Justices.)
The willingness to clerk for a pro-abortion jurist, especially so soon after Kennedy cast the deciding vote to keep abortion alive as judicial precedent, would ordinarily call into question the moral compass of a legal professional; his commitment or lack thereof to respect for human life; or his willingness to sacrifice moral principles for the sake of wealth, status and advancement.
Many questions remain — is Kavanaugh himself pro-abortion; does he simply not care that much about the matter; is he willing to “go along to get along” to gain wealth and status. He later became a partner at the prominent Kirkland and Ellis law firm with little or no apparent law practice experience, with his main resume points being the Supreme Court clerkship and several years of assisting Ken Starr’s special prosecutor activities.
Any temptation to seek to minimize the significance of Kavanaugh’s actions because of the passage of time or his comparatively younger age would have to ignore the fact that he already was a grown man a few years out of law school, with other judicial clerkship experience already behind him.
Yet most glaring is his willingness, like Gorsuch, to ratify and make current his moral failing by saluting Anthony Kennedy in his remarks at the White House during the announcement of his own nomination to the Supreme Court.
With that action, his moral apathy and lack of a properly formed moral conscience was not simply part of a career stepping stone in his twenties. It was updated to become part of his reality today.
Given the mind-boggling, and therefore treasonous scope of so-called abortion, apparently nearing 60 million Americans dead in their mother’s wombs from surgical abortions alone since Roe v. Wade, the logical response should be to oppose the Kavanaugh nomination and begin the process of replacing Trump.
Trump still has time to reverse course and find a more appropriate nominee. Yet there is little indication that he would do so, especially considering his insistence of repeating his praise of his own mistaken choice of Gorsuch.
Even though Trump promised to “drain the swamp” and assist a Culture of Life, two times in a row he has nominated a former Washingtonian insider child of privilege who clerked for the same pro-abortion Supreme Court Justice. He has done so in a climate of moral quietism that tries to treat the unthinkable horror of abortion as “business as usual” or settled law.
For thinking Americans who care about American lives, right and wrong and a solid national foundation in rule of law, the best choice is to oppose the Kavanaugh nomination and begin the process of replacing Trump with someone more suitable.
NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Success Masks Russian Weakness; Things are breaking his way. But if China is a tiger, Russia is a pussycat on stilts” – Wall Street Journal/Walter Russell Mead
“Despite … Putin’s successes, Russia remains weak, and its leverage over other nations is limited. China can woo its neighbors with multibillion-dollar projects like its ‘One Belt, One Road’ trade initiative. Russia has much less to offer: If China is a tiger, Russia is a pussycat on stilts. … Putin can obstruct Germany’s faltering European project, but he lacks the resources to offer an alternative. In the Middle East, the Kremlin’s position depends on American forbearance. If … Trump decides to make opposing the Assad regime a crucial part of his anti-Iran strategy, … Putin may have to stand by and watch his client fall. … developments at home counsel restraint as well. … Putin’s string of dramatic foreign-policy successes has shored up his domestic popularity, [but] Russia’s sclerotic economy and corrupt social order ensure that the foundations of his power remain weak. … Putin has made Russia great again on the international stage, but the Russian people would rather see him use that daring and finesse to improve the situation at home.”
Click here for: “Putin’s Success Masks Russian Weakness; Things are breaking his way. But if China is a tiger, Russia is a pussycat on stilts” – Wall Street Journal/Walter Russell Mead
Ireland, on May 25, 2018, votes in a referendum to potentially amend the Irish constitution for potential legislative action relaxing restrictions on abortion.
A “yes” vote would make it easier to allow murder, as long as the victim was not yet born. Prenatal child-killing often is described as so-called “abortion,” to recast what is deliberate killing as a kind of artificial miscarriage. A number of abortions also are essentially death by torture, carried out against helpless victims who can feel pain. There are additional issues raised by the harm abortion causes against the physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being of the mother, as well as female babies being targeted for killing at a higher rate than males.
Ireland needs our prayers, that the Irish people will respect human life and respect God by saying “no” to murder, including saying “no” to abortion. Ultimately those who promote and participate in abortion not only are unbalanced in their thinking and a danger to the potential murder victims. They also imperil their very souls by involving themselves with an evil that could result in their being condemned to hell, and likely would absent some unusual act of Divine Mercy prompted by some factor calling into question the perpetrator’s capacity.
So-called abortion is the most widespread human rights abuse on earth, and is often a leading cause of death for various groups or in some locales.
As murder, abortion grotesquely violates God’s Law, to the point where procurement of abortion brings automatic excommunication in the Catholic Church, and the Code of Canon Law.
Given that fact, it is curiously perverse that Ireland would be targeted for a referendum on abortion, given that Ireland is so predominantly Catholic, roughly 88% according to the U.S. State Department.
Those promoting abortion in Ireland not only are looking to kill more Irish, they are looking to get more Irish excommunicated in the process, and to implicate as much of the country as possible through the referendum. Those voting in favor of abortion are, in the process, making themselves co-conspirators to murder and falling into some spectrum of grave sin, barring themselves from receiving Communion. Any nominal Catholic publicly promoting abortion would be guilty of public scandal, and thereby barred from Communion until they publicly repented. So, all around, it is if those promoting the abortion change are not only interesting in promoting killing. In what is likely a diabolical matter, they are interested in corrupting the soul of a nation, and the souls of individuals, driving a wedge between them and God; driving a wedge between them and the Faith and Sacraments; and seeking to send more people to hell.
NEWSWATCH: “U.S. judge says Mueller should not have ‘unfettered power’ in Russia probe” – Reuters/Sarah N. Lynch
“A federal judge said Special Counsel Robert Mueller should not have ‘unfettered power’ in probing ties between … Trump’s campaign and Russia … accus[ing] Mueller of using criminal cases to pressure Trump’s allies to turn against him. At a tense hearing in a federal court in Virginia … U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III sharply questioned whether Mueller exceeded his authority in filing tax and bank fraud charges against Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort. … ‘I’ve been saying that for a long time. It’s a witch hunt,’ [Trump] said of Mueller’s probe ….”
Click here for: “U.S. judge says Mueller should not have ‘unfettered power’ in Russia probe” – Reuters/Sarah N. Lynch
“Russia’s Putin won … March’s election[, ostensibly by large margin,] amid complaints from critics. With neighboring Armenia offering an example of the potential threat, Russian authorities weren’t taking any chances …”
NEWSWATCH: “Russian Opposition Leader Navalny Is Detained Amid Anti-Putin Protests; Demonstrations are held across #Russia, with more than 1,000 protesters held by police” – Wall Street Journal/Thomas Grove
“Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny was detained Saturday together with as many as a thousand of his supporters across the country in protests against the start of … Putin’s fourth term …. The demonstrations, marked by uncharacteristic violence in Moscow, were an attempt by critics of … Putin to spark momentum surrounding their movement, which had faded somewhat since March’s presidential election. … [The] presidential inauguration is planned for Monday. …”
Click here for: “Russian Opposition Leader Navalny Is Detained Amid Anti-Putin Protests; Demonstrations are held across Russia, with more than 1,000 protesters held by police” – Wall Street Journal/Thomas Grove
NEWSWATCH: “Fed Holds Rates Steady, but Indicates Increases Will Continue Officials give no signal they plan to pick up the pace of rate rises following recent inflation gains” – Wall Street Journal/Nick Timiraos
“The Federal Reserve held short-term interest rates steady Wednesday and indicated it remains on track to raise them gradually in coming months to keep the expanding economy on an even keel. … after its two-day policy meeting, offered nothing to dispel market expectations that it would deliver its second rate increase of the year … in June. … Fed officials would like to see the jobless rate remain steady … [They] have to sort out how the recent fiscal policy changes could boost growth and inflation. It is probably too soon for officials to have reached firm conclusions …. Trade policy is another wild card. …”
Click here for: “Fed Holds Rates Steady, but Indicates Increases Will Continue Officials give no signal they plan to pick up the pace of rate rises following recent inflation gains” – Wall Street Journal/Nick Timiraos
NEWSWATCH: House Intelligence Committee Report on Russia Investigation; Excerpt: Introduction and Overview
The U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has issued a redacted version of a March 22, 2018, report on its investigation of Russia’s activities surrounding the 2016 U.S. election. PDF versions are available at intelligence.house.gov/UploadedFiles/HPSCI_-_Declassified_Committee_Report_Redacted_FINAL_Redacted.pdf and docs.house.gov/meetings/IG/IG00/20180322/108023/HRPT-115-1.pdf.
“While the Committee found no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government, the investigation did find poor judgment and ill-considered actions by the Trump and Clinton campaigns. …”
An excerpt follows:
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Report on Russian Active Measures
March 22, 2018
* * *
Introduction and Overview
(U) Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election was nothing novel for the Kremlin. The Kremlin aspires to sow chaos and discord and advance its agenda in targeted nations, particularly in Europe and former Soviet republics such as the Baltics and Ukraine. To do this, Russia effectively combines decades of experience in propaganda and psychological warfare techniques with its vast media apparatus, a strata of well-educated and proficient technicians, and a robust intelligence and security corps.
(U} In the United States, Russian cyberattacks related to the 2016 elections starkly highlighted technical vulnerabilities in U.S. digital infrastructure and bureaucratic shortcomings that were exploited by the Kremlin. Russia’s active measures campaign achieved its primary goal of inciting division and discord among Americans. For more than a year, U.S. politics have been consumed by bitter recriminations, charges, and counter-charges about the attacks. The reliability of the democratic vote-the bedrock of the U.S. republic-was widely and repeatedly questioned.
(U) At the time of the 2016 U.S. presidential election cycle, the Committee was already concerned with Russian malfeasance and aggression in levels that had not been seen since the Cold War. In fact, the IAA for fiscal years 2016 and 2017 included multiple provisions to improve the United States’ ability to counter Russian aggression. However, the Kremlin’s malicious activities during the 2016 U.S. presidential election triggered the Committee to announce a specific inquiry into Russia’s campaign (see Appendix B). The bipartisan parameters focused the investigation and this report-this Committee examined:
(1) Russian cyber activity and other active measures that were directed against the United States and its allies;
(2) whether the Russian active measures include links between Russia and individuals associated with presidential campaigns;
(3) the U.S. government response to these Russian active measures and what we need to do to protect ourselves and our allies in the future; and
(4) what possible leaks of classified information took place related to the Intelligence Community’s assessment of these matters.1 The Committee interviewed 73 witnesses, conducted 9 hearings and briefings, reviewed approximately 307,900 documents, and issued 20 subpoenas. This allowed the Committee to find answers crucial for identifying and addressing institutional weaknesses to assist the United States with identifying and
responding to inevitable hostile acts in the future.
(U) While the 2016 U.S. presidential election helped focus American attention on Russian cyber and information operations, the Russian government has conducted active measure campaigns in Europe for years. Believing it is engaged in an information war with the West, Russia’s influence activities employ an array of tactics-usually tailored to the target country’s population and environment-in an effort to accomplish the Kremlin’s goals. These goals generally include influencing an opponent’s leadership and population, advancing a narrative, or inducing a behavior change. The factors that make these campaigns successful also make them hard to counter. However, governments, non-governmental organizations, and media organizations in Europe have begun taking actions to address and mitigate the threat that Russian influence campaigns pose.
(U) The Russian active measures campaign against the United States was multifaceted. It leveraged cyberattacks, covert platforms, social media, third-party intermediaries, and state-run media. Hacked material was disseminated through this myriad network of actors with the objective of undermining the effectiveness of the future administration. This dissemination worked in conjunction with derisive messages posted on social media to undermine confidence in the election and sow fear and division in American society.
(U) The U.S. government’s subsequent response to the Russian active measures campaign during the 2016 election was slow [REDACTED] As that picture evolved, the FBl’s notification to victims and oversight committees was inconsistent in timeliness and quality, which contributed to the victims’ failure to both recognize the threat and defend their systems. State and local governments were slow to grasp the seriousness of the threat and when notified of breaches continued to resist any action that implied federal direction or control. Some states opted not to cooperate with important defensive measures offered by the DHS. While no tabulation systems, or systems that count votes, were impacted, the overall security posture of the U.S. federal, state, and local governments was demonstrated to be inadequate and vulnerable.
(U) The Committee’s investigation also reviewed the opening, in summer 2016, of a FBI enterprise counterintelligence investigation into [REDACTED] Trump campaign associates:
[REDACTED] Carter Page [REDACTED] Because of “the sensitivity of the matter,” the FBI did not notify congressional leadership about this investigation during the FBl’s regular counterintelligence briefings.
Three of [REDACTED] original subjects of the FBI investigation have been charged with crimes and the Committee’s review of these cases covers the period prior to the appointment of Special Counsel in May 2017.
(U) While the Committee found no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government, the investigation did find poor judgment and ill-considered actions by the Trump and Clinton campaigns. For example, the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between members of the Trump campaign and a Russian lawyer who falsely purported to have damaging information on the Clinton campaign demonstrated poor judgement. The Committee also found the Trump campaign’s periodic praise for and communications with Wikileaks – a hostile foreign organization-to be highly objectionable and inconsistent with U.S. national security interests. The Committee also found that the Clinton campaign and the DNC, using a series of cutouts and intermediaries to obscure their roles, paid for opposition research on Trump obtained from Russian sources, including a litany of claims by high-ranking current and former Russian government officials. Some of this opposition research was used to produce sixteen memos, which comprise what has become known as the Steele dossier.
(U) The effectiveness and relatively low cost of information operations, such as the dissemination of propaganda, make it an attractive tool for foreign adversaries. Unless the cost-benefit equation of such operations changes significantly, the Putin regime and other hostile governments will continue to pursue these attacks against the United States and its allies. Based on the investigation, the Committee recommends several solutions to help safeguard U.S. and allies’ political processes from nefarious actors, such as the Russians. …
NEWSWATCH: “Hunt for Golden State Killer Suspect Used Genealogy Websites; Ancestry and 23andMe say they weren’t involved in probe that tapped genetic profiles online” – Wall Street Journal/Zusha Elinson
“After more than 40 years … investigators looking for the elusive Golden State Killer … got their big break [using] genealogy websites …. Police say [72-year-old former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo] was responsible for at least 12 homicides and 45 rapes … between 1976 and 1986. Investigators us[ing] DNA from one of those crime scenes … compar[ing] it with genetic profiles on online genealogy sites …. found a relative of the suspect …. then looked at online family trees to narrow down the suspect ….”
Click here for: “Hunt for Golden State Killer Suspect Used Genealogy Websites; Ancestry and 23andMe say they weren’t involved in probe that tapped genetic profiles online” – Wall Street Journal/Zusha Elinson
NEWSWATCH: “In School Shootings, Most Guns Come From Home; Statistics suggest that a lack of gun safety at home also has played a big role in school shootings” – Wall Street Journal/Tawnell D. Hobbs
“… in nearly three decades of American mass school shootings … killers mostly use guns owned by a family member …. The Wall Street Journal reviewed … school shootings with at least three victims dead or injured since 1990 and found 32. Most shooters are white male teenagers. In 25 … cases … shooters were teenagers or younger. In 17 of the 20 of those cases where details were available on where the shooter got the gun, they were sourced at home … a few also [got] … weapons from relatives. About 42% of U.S. adults say they live in households with a gun ….”
Click here for: “In School Shootings, Most Guns Come From Home; Statistics suggest that a lack of gun safety at home also has played a big role in school shootings” – Wall Street Journal/Tawnell D. Hobbs