10 things you need to know today: July 28, 2016

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

THE WEEK

1. Obama touts Clinton’s qualifications in convention speech
President Obama urged Americans to elect Hillary Clinton president, saying in a speech at the Democratic National Convention that “There has never been a man or a woman — not me, not Bill, nobody — more qualified.” Vice President Joe Biden attacked Clinton’s opponent, Republican nominee Donald Trump, calling him the most unqualified major party nominee in U.S. history. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg — like Trump, a billionaire businessman — criticized Trump’s business record, saying, “I’m a New Yorker, and I know a con when I see one.”

Source: The New York Times, ABC News

2. Prosecutors drop all remaining charges in Freddie Gray case
Prosecutors on Wednesday dropped all charges against three Baltimore police officers awaiting trial in connection with the death of Freddie Gray in police custody last year, bringing the case to an end. Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby said the decision was “agonizing,” but, after three other officers were acquitted earlier this year, she didn’t believe a conviction was possible. She faulted what she said had been a biased police investigation. Lt. Gene Ryan, local Fraternal Order of Police president, called Mosby’s comments “outrageous,” and said “justice has been done.” Five of the officers are suing Mosby for false arrest and defamation.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, CNN

3. Trump challenges Russian hackers to find missing Clinton emails
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Wednesday publicly urged Russian hackers to find thousands of emails deleted from the private server his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, used while serving as President Obama’s first-term secretary of state. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said. Democrats have speculated that Russian hackers leaked Democratic National Committee emails to help Trump’s campaign. Clinton ally Leon Panetta, a former defense secretary and CIA director, said Trump’s remarks called his loyalty to the U.S. into question.

Source: The Washington Post, CNN

4. Man who tried to assassinate Reagan cleared to leave psychiatric hospital
John Hinckley Jr., who shot and wounded then-President Ronald Reagan and three others in 1981, can leave the psychiatric hospital where he was sent after being acquitted by reason of insanity, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. Hinckley was obsessed with actress Jodie Foster, and tried to assassinate Reagan to impress her. Judge Paul L. Friedman said Hinckley no longer poses a threat. He will be allowed to leave St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., to live with his 90-year-old mother in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he has been allowed frequent visits.

Source: CBS News

5. Tim Kaine accepts Democratic vice presidential nomination
Democratic delegates formally nominated Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia as the party’s candidate for vice president on Wednesday. Kaine said he “humbly” accepted the nomination “for my friend Hillary Clinton.” Kaine, in the biggest speech of his political career, introduced himself to a national audience as a “boring” guy devoted to hard work and kindness. He made an appeal to disappointed Bernie Sanders voters, and to anti-Trump Republicans, saying: “If any of you are looking for that party of Lincoln, we’ve got a home for you right here in the Democratic Party.”

Source: The New York Times

6. ISIS suicide bomber kills 44 people in Syria
An Islamic State suicide bomber killed 44 people in an attack on a crowded district in the predominantly Kurdish northern Syria town of Qamishli. Most of the victims reportedly were civilians. There is a station for Kurdish security forces in the area where the bomber, driving a truck laden with explosives, blew himself up. “Terror is all I saw among the residents when I first arrived,” said media activist Decile Husen, 23. “I was shocked at the extent of destruction in the homes and shops.”

Source: The Associated Press

7. Fed holds interest rates steady but says economic threats are decreasing
Federal Reserve policy makers left interest rates unchanged, as expected, at the conclusion of a two-day meeting on Wednesday. The Fed said, however, that looming economic risks had faded, suggesting the U.S. central bank could be open to resuming slow interest rate hikes from near zero in coming months. The Fed hit the brakes earlier this year as oil prices and stocks plummeted, then put off resuming the hikes after a terrible May jobs report and the U.K’s June vote to exit the European Union.

Source: Reuters

8. Video purportedly shows attackers who killed French priest pledging ISIS allegiance
The Islamic State on Wednesday released a video it said showed the two attackers who killed a French priest pledging allegiance to the Islamist extremist group. Both of the attackers were shot dead by police. Police identified one of the killers as Adel Kermiche, 19. Kermiche allegedly twice tried to travel to Syria to join ISIS. Prosecutors said Thursday that, based on DNA evidence, it was “very probable” that the second attacker was Abdel-Malik Nabil Petit Jean, a 19-year-old Frenchman from eastern France.

Source: BBC News, Time

9. WikiLeaks posts hacked Democratic National Committee voicemails
WikiLeaks on Wednesday released 14 minutes of voicemails it says were hacked from the Democratic National Committee. Journalists did not immediately find anything damaging or incriminating in the audio files, but the data dump raised the possibility of more leaks to come. The latest embarrassment for the DNC came on the heels of the release of close to 20,000 hacked DNC emails just before the start of this week’s Democratic National Convention. U.S. intelligence agencies believe Russia is behind the hacking.

Source: The Washington Times

10. One death reported in intensifying California wildfire
A central California wildfire intensified in hot weather on Wednesday, spreading to cover about 42 square miles. Fire officials said the fire had killed one person, a private bulldozer operator who was hired to help contain the Soberanes Fire in Monterey County. The bulldozer operator died Tuesday night from injuries he sustained during night-time firefighting efforts. The blaze, which started Friday, had destroyed 34 homes and was still just 10 percent contained as of Wednesday. An even bigger fire in Southern California was 40 percent contained.

Source: CNN

 

Donald Trump Calls on Russia to Hack Hillary Clinton’s Emails

Donald Trump speaks to the Veterans of Foreign Wars conference at a campaign event in Charlotte

Carlo Allegri—Reuters | Donald Trump at a campaign event in Charlotte, NC, on July 26, 2016.

Is this man INSANE?  This is not a rhetorical question…is he nuts? (ks)

TIME

‘Russia, if you’re listening…’

Donald Trump encouraged Russia to commit a cybercrime against Hillary Clinton, saying he hoped the foreign nation could recover some of her deleted emails.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said at a press conference in Doral, Florida, Wednesday morning after the second night of the Democratic convention. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens.”

(FBI director James Comey said in July of the investigation into Clinton’s private email server, “The FBI also discovered several thousand work-related e-mails that were not in the group of 30,000 that were returned by Secretary Clinton to State in 2014.”)

Trump also suggested Russia may already have the emails after a hack of Democratic National Committee files, which the party learned of in the late spring. The FBI announced Monday it is opening an investigation into the incident. “I hope they do,” Trump said of Russia having the emails, which could contain classified information. “You’d see some beauties in there.”

“I don’t think its safe to have Hillary Clinton briefed on national security because the word will get out,” Trump said. He even lashed out at Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin: “Her number one person Huma Abedin is married to Anthony Weiner who is a sleazeball and a pervert,” Trump said. “I don’t like Huma going home at night and telling Anthony Weiner all of these secrets.”

Trump became combative with the press when they continued asking him questions about his position. “Be quiet, I know you want to save her,” he said, interrupting a journalist who pressed him on encouraging Russia to get Clinton’s emails and accusing her of bias. “I could be here enjoying myself, I don’t need to be with you guys,” Trump said later to the journalists.

He also answered many questions through the rest of the press conference about his business and personal standings with Russia. He said he does not know Russian President Vladimir Putin and would treat him “firmly,” and said, “Zero, I have nothing to do with Russia,” in his business holdings.

Trump tied Clinton to the controversy over impartiality stemming from the DNC email hack, which caused party head Debbie Wasserman Schultz to step down. “Believe me, as sure as you’re sitting there, Hillary Clinton knew about it,” Trump said. “Debbie Wasserman Schultz could not breathe without speaking and getting approval from Hillary Clinton.”

Trump continued hammering Clinton on all fronts, from her position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, to the lack of American flags on the Democratic convention stage, to the more than 200 days since her last press conference. “There’s no way she can answer questions because the job she has done has been so bad,” he said.

Trump also promoted two policy positions that break with Republican orthodoxy. He said he wants to raise the minimum wage: “At least $10 but it has to go up,” he said, and he also said he wants to “take the pressure” off recent college graduates with student loan debt. “Maybe that doesn’t fit beautifully within the Republican framework,” he admitted.

Immediately after the hour-long press conference ended, Trump’s campaign released a statement by Trump’s running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence that seemed to try to clean up Trump’s statement.

“The FBI will get to the bottom of who is behind the hacking. If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections, I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences,” Pence said in the statement.

Despite Pence’s statement, Trump appeared to double down after the press conference, tweeting that if a foreign country gains access to Clinton’s emails it should share them with the U.S.

“If Russia or any other country or person has Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 illegally deleted emails, perhaps they should share them with the FBI!” he said.

10 things you need to know today: July 27, 2016

Alex Wong/Getty Images

THE WEEK

1. Democrats nominate Hillary Clinton as first female major-party presidential candidate
Democratic convention delegates formally nominated Hillary Clinton as their party’s presidential candidate on Tuesday. The former first lady, senator, and secretary of state is the first woman ever to be nominated for the presidency by a major U.S. party. Clinton’s husband, former president Bill Clinton, led a string of speakers aiming to redefine the candidate’s image, rejecting what he called the “cartoon” version of her portrayed by Republicans. Bill Clinton delivered a personal tribute, praising Hillary Clinton as a lifelong political reformer and “the best darn change-maker I have ever known.”

Source: The New York Times, The Washington Post

2. Investigators increasingly confident Russia is behind DNC hack
U.S. intelligence agencies now have “high confidence” that the Russian government was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s email and computer system, The New York Times reportedon Tuesday. The Times‘ sources, described as federal officials briefed on the evidence, said investigators are not sure whether the breach was routine cyber espionage, or part of an effort to influence the U.S. presidential election. Federal investigators warned the DNC about the potential electronic break-in months before the party hired a private security firm, CrowdStrike, to address the issue in April.

Source: The New York Times, CNN

3. Bernie Sanders presses supporters to stop convention booing
Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday tried to quiet diehard supporters who have disrupted speeches at the Democratic National Convention, telling members of the California delegation that “it is easy to boo, but it’s harder to look your kids in the face who would be living under Donald Trump.” Sanders threw his full support behind Hillary Clinton, who beat him in the hard-fought primaries, saying she “must” beat Trump. He called the Republican nominee the “worst candidate for president in the modern history of this country.”

Source: Los Angeles Times

4. Pennsylvania high court calls for new trial in church sex-abuse case
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered a new trial for Msgr. William J. Lynn, the first Catholic church official convicted for his role overseeing priests accused of sexually abusing children. The state high court rejected an appeal by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office of a lower court decision calling for a new trial. Lynn, 65 was not accused of molestation. As an archdiocesan official from 1992 to 2004, he reassigned pedophile priests to new parishes where they abused more children. He is serving a three to six years in prison.

Source: Philadelphia Daily News

5. Judge drops charges against activists behind anti-Planned Parenthood video
A Texas judge on Tuesday dismissed all charges against two anti-abortion activists who secretly shot video of themselves trying to buy fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood officials in Houston. The Harris County District Attorney’s office asked District Judge Brock Thomas to drop the charges. A grand jury had indicted David Daleiden, 27, and Sandra Merritt, 63, on charges of tampering with government records for using fake I.D.s to get into the Houston clinic. A defense attorney called the decision “a huge win for First Amendment rights.”

Source: Houston Chronicle, NPR

6. ISIS claims responsibility for France church attack
ISIS on Tuesday claimed responsibility for an attack on a Catholic Church in northern France, where two men slit the throat of an 85-year-old priest, killing him. Police shot and killed both assailants. The two men burst into the church as a Mass was ending, and forced the priest, the Rev. Jacques Hamel, to kneel, slicing his neck when he refused. The attack occurred in St.-Étienne-du-Rouvray, a suburb of Rouen. It was the fourth attack linked to ISIS in Europe in 11 days.

Source: The New York Times

7. Hamas shooting suspect dies in Israeli raid
Israeli forces on Wednesday fatally shot a Hamas fighter blamed for the killing of a rabbi, Michael Mark, in a West Bank drive-by shooting on July 1. The suspect was killed in an overnight raid in Surif, a Palestinian village near the city of Hebron. The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas identified the man killed as Mohammad al-Fakih, a member of its armed al-Qassam Brigades wing. Palestinian street attacks have killed at least 33 Israelis and two visiting Americans since October. At least 205 Palestinians — 139 identified by Israel as assailants — have died in clashes in the same period.

Source: Reuters

8. Shooting deaths of police spike in 2016
Fatal shootings of law enforcement officers jumped by 78 percent between Jan. 1 and July 26 compared to the same period last year, according to a report released Wednesday. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund normally releases data on firearms-related deaths of officers in the line of duty every six months, but this year extended the period to include July ambushes that killed eight officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Thirty-two officers have died in gun-related incidents this year, including 14 in ambushes, up from 18 in the same period last year. The figures remain lower than in the 1970s.

Source: The Associated Press

9. Ice Bucket Challenge money helps finance discovery of gene linked to ALS
Researchers using money raised by the Ice Bucket Challenge have identified a gene commonly found in people stricken with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The challenge, in which participants poured ice water over their heads to raise money and awareness, became a sensation two summers ago as the effort raised more than $100 million for the ALS Association. The new research, published this week by Nature Genetics, found NEK1 to be present in 3 percent of patients in North America and Europe, contributing to the understanding of the causes of the deadly neurodegenerative disease.

Source: ESPN

10. Injury ends Federer’s season early
Roger Federer announced Tuesday that he will miss the rest of the 2016 professional tennis season due to a knee injury. He also will not be able to compete for Switzerland in the upcoming Rio Olympics. In a Facebook post, the world No. 3 explained he will need “more extensive rehabilitation” after knee surgery earlier this year. “The doctors advised me that if I want to play on the ATP World Tour injury free for another few years, as I intend to do, I must give both my knee and body the proper time to fully recover.”

Source: USA Today

 

Trump & Putin. Yes, It’s Really a Thing

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CBS

Could there possibly be a “bromance connection” between Donald Trump and Russian leaders?  (ks)

TPM EDITOR’S BLOG

I’ll list off some facts.

1. All the other discussions of Trump’s finances aside, his debt load has grown dramatically over the last year, from $350 million to $630 million. This is in just one year while his liquid assets have also decreased. Trump has been blackballed by all major US banks.

2. Post-bankruptcy Trump has been highly reliant on money from Russia, most of which has over the years become increasingly concentrated among oligarchs and sub-garchs close to Vladimir Putin. Here’s a good overview from The Washington Post, with one morsel for illustration …

Since the 1980s, Trump and his family members have made numerous trips to Moscow in search of business opportunities, and they have relied on Russian investors to buy their properties around the world.“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” Trump’s son, Donald Jr., told a real estate conference in 2008, according to an account posted on the website of eTurboNews, a trade publication. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

3. One example of this is the Trump Soho development in Manhattan, one of Trump’s largest recent endeavors. The project was the hit with a series of lawsuits in response to some typically Trumpian efforts to defraud investors by making fraudulent claims about the financial health of the project. Emerging out of that litigation however was news about secret financing for the project from Russia and Kazakhstan. Most attention about the project has focused on the presence of a twice imprisoned Russian immigrant with extensive ties to the Russian criminal underworld. But that’s not the most salient part of the story. As the Times put it,

“Mr. Lauria brokered a $50 million investment in Trump SoHo and three other Bayrock projects by an Icelandic firm preferred by wealthy Russians “in favor with” President Vladimir V. Putin, according to a lawsuit against Bayrock by one of its former executives. The Icelandic company, FL Group, was identified in a Bayrock investor presentation as a “strategic partner,” along with Alexander Mashkevich, a billionaire once charged in a corruption case involving fees paid by a Belgian company seeking business in Kazakhstan; that case was settled with no admission of guilt.”

Another suit alleged the project “occasionally received unexplained infusions of cash from accounts in Kazakhstan and Russia.”

Sounds completely legit.

Read both articles: After his bankruptcy and business failures roughly a decade ago Trump has had an increasingly difficult time finding sources of capital for new investments. As I noted above, Trump has been blackballed by all major US banks with the exception of Deutschebank, which is of course a foreign bank with a major US presence. He has steadied and rebuilt his financial empire with a heavy reliance on capital from Russia. At a minimum the Trump organization is receiving lots of investment capital from people close to Vladimir Putin.

Trump’s tax returns would likely clarify the depth of his connections to and dependence on Russian capital aligned with Putin. And in case you’re keeping score at home: no, that’s not reassuring.

4. Then there’s Paul Manafort, Trump’s nominal ‘campaign chair’ who now functions as campaign manager and top advisor. Manafort spent most of the last decade as top campaign and communications advisor for Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian Ukrainian Prime Minister and then President whose ouster in 2014 led to the on-going crisis and proxy war in Ukraine. Yanukovych was and remains a close Putin ally. Manafort is running Trump’s campaign.

5. Trump’s foreign policy advisor on Russia and Europe is Carter Page, a man whose entire professional career has revolved around investments in Russia and who has deep and continuing financial and employment ties to Gazprom. If you’re not familiar with Gazprom, imagine if most or all of the US energy industry were rolled up into a single company and it were personally controlled by the US President who used it as a source of revenue and patronage. That is Gazprom’s role in the Russian political and economic system. It is no exaggeration to say that you cannot be involved with Gazprom at the very high level which Page has been without being wholly in alignment with Putin’s policies. Those ties also allow Putin to put Page out of business at any time.

6. Over the course of the last year, Putin has aligned all Russian state controlled media behind Trump. As Frank Foer explains here, this fits a pattern with how Putin has sought to prop up rightist/nationalist politicians across Europe, often with direct or covert infusions of money. In some cases this is because they support Russia-backed policies; in others it is simply because they sow discord in Western aligned states. Of course, Trump has repeatedly praised Putin, not only in the abstract but often for the authoritarian policies and patterns of government which have most soured his reputation around the world.

7. Here’s where it gets more interesting. This is one of a handful of developments that tipped me from seeing all this as just a part of Trump’s larger shadiness to something more specific and ominous about the relationship between Putin and Trump. As TPM’s Tierney Sneed explained in this article, one of the most enduring dynamics of GOP conventions (there’s a comparable dynamic on the Dem side) is more mainstream nominees battling conservative activists over the party platform, with activists trying to check all the hardline ideological boxes and the nominees trying to soften most or all of those edges. This is one thing that made the Trump convention very different. The Trump Camp was totally indifferent to the platform. So party activists were able to write one of the most conservative platforms in history. Not with Trump’s backing but because he simply didn’t care. With one big exception: Trump’s team mobilized the nominee’s traditional mix of cajoling and strong-arming on one point: changing the party platform on assistance to Ukraine against Russian military operations in eastern Ukraine. For what it’s worth (and it’s not worth much) I am quite skeptical of most Republicans call for aggressively arming Ukraine to resist Russian aggression. But the single-mindedness of this focus on this one issue – in the context of total indifference to everything else in the platform – speaks volumes.

This does not mean Trump is controlled by or in the pay of Russia or Putin. It can just as easily be explained by having many of his top advisors having spent years working in Putin’s orbit and being aligned with his thinking and agenda. But it is certainly no coincidence. Again, in the context of near total indifference to the platform and willingness to let party activists write it in any way they want, his team zeroed in on one fairly obscure plank to exert maximum force and it just happens to be the one most important to Putin in terms of US policy.

Add to this that his most conspicuous foreign policy statements track not only with Putin’s positions but those in which Putin is most intensely interested. Aside from Ukraine, Trump’s suggestion that the US and thus NATO might not come to the defense of NATO member states in the Baltics in the case of a Russian invasion is a case in point.

There are many other things people are alleging about hacking and all manner of other mysteries. But those points are highly speculative, some verging on conspiratorial in their thinking. I ignore them here because I’ve wanted to focus on unimpeachable, undisputed and publicly known facts. These alone paint a stark and highly troubling picture.

To put this all into perspective, if Vladimir Putin were simply the CEO of a major American corporation and there was this much money flowing in Trump’s direction, combined with this much solicitousness of Putin’s policy agenda, it would set off alarm bells galore. That is not hyperbole or exaggeration. And yet Putin is not the CEO of an American corporation. He’s the autocrat who rules a foreign state, with an increasingly hostile posture towards the United States and a substantial stockpile of nuclear weapons. The stakes involved in finding out ‘what’s going on’ as Trump might put it are quite a bit higher.

There is something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of circumstantial evidence for a financial relationship between Trump and Putin or a non-tacit alliance between the two men. Even if you draw no adverse conclusions, Trump’s financial empire is heavily leveraged and has a deep reliance on capital infusions from oligarchs and other sources of wealth aligned with Putin. That’s simply not something that can be waved off or ignored.

Josh Marshall

Russian Hackers Altered Emails Before Release to Wikileaks – Updated

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Petras Malukas/AFP/Getty Images

DAILY KOS 

By IAmRightYouAreWrong

The headline jumped out at me and I thought it a good idea to post it here. The original story was posted by Tim Peacock at Peacock Panache. They source the following article on Motherboard by Thomas Rid: All Signs Point to Russia Being Behind the DNC Hack.

I think by now, it’s a foregone conclusion that the bad actors that Wikileaks is releasing information from are state-sponsored and are from Russia. Putin has made no secret of his political love for Trump™ and Republicans have used the occasion to make great hay over the DNC and it’s terse relationship with Bernie. . . .not out of true concern for Sanders, of course, but because they have had to embrace a very undesirable candidate as their standard-bearer.

The big takeaway from the Motherboard article is the following:

The metadata in the leaked documents are perhaps most revealing: one dumped document was modified using Russian language settings, by a user named “Феликс Эдмундович,” a code name referring to the founder of the Soviet Secret Police, the Cheka, memorialised in a 15-ton iron statue in front of the old KGB headquarters during Soviet times. The original intruders made other errors: one leaked document included hyperlink error messages in Cyrillic, the result of editing the file on a computer with Russian language settings. After this mistake became public, the intruders removed the Cyrillic information from the metadata in the next dump and carefully used made-up user names from different world regions, thereby confirming they had made a mistake in the first round.

Then there is the language issue. “I hate being attributed to Russia,” the Guccifer 2.0 account told Motherboard, probably accurately. The person at the keyboard then claimed in a chat with Motherboard’s Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai that Guccifer 2.0 was from Romania, like the original Guccifer, a well-known hacker. But when asked to explain his hack in Romanian, he was unable to respond colloquially and without errors. Guccifer 2.0’s English initially was also weak, but in subsequent posts the quality improved sharply, albeit only on political subjects, not in technical matters—an indication of a team of operators at work behind the scenes.

Rid went on to add:

The metadata show that the Russian operators apparently edited some documents, and in some cases created new documents after the intruders were already expunged from the DNC network on June 11. A file called donors.xls, for instance, was created more than a day after the story came out, on June 15, most likely by copy-pasting an existing list into a clean document. Although so far the actual content of the leaked documents appears not to have been tampered with, manipulation would fit an established pattern of operational behaviour in other contexts, such as troll farms or planting fake media stories. Subtle (or not so subtle) manipulation of content may be in the interest of the adversary in the future. Documents that were leaked by or through an intelligence operation should be handled with great care, and journalists should not simply treat them as reliable sources.

Tim at Peacock Panache expands on this further and in spectacular fashion:

Adding context to why Putin and the Russian government would go to so much trouble to influence the U.S. presidential elections, NPR reported:

The security firm the party brought in last month to deal with the data breach immediately pointed fingers toward what it called “Russian espionage groups.”

“If [it’s a coincidence] it’s a really great coincidence,” said Russia expert Fiona Hill, who directs the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution. “The Russians have a word — ne sluchaino. It means, not accidental. Not by chance.”

Hill said the Russian hackers may not be taking orders directly from Putin, but that they are clearly working with Russian foreign policy interests in mind.

“They don’t have to be run directly by the Kremlin. They can just be encouraged,” Hill said. “They [Russian security services] are very good at knowing how to play our media. We are making this email leak into a huge story, as they knew we would.”

On a personal level, Trump said last fall that he and Putin “would probably get along … very well.” He has repeatedly praised Putin’s strength, particularly when it comes to military intervention in Syria.

Add to that Trump’s fondness for Putin (both as a man and as a hardline leader):

“He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader, you know unlike what we have in this country,” Trump told MSNBC in December.

During his annual end-of-year marathon news conference in December, Putin returned the compliment, calling Trump “a bright personality, a talented person, no doubt.”

“He says that he wants to move to a different level of relations, to a closer, deeper one, with Russia,” Putin said. “How can we not welcome that?”

Slate added:

In 2007, he praised Putin for “rebuilding Russia.” A year later he added, “He does his work well. Much better than our Bush.” When Putin ripped American exceptionalism in a New York Times op-ed in 2013, Trump called it “a masterpiece.” Despite ample evidence, Trump denies that Putin has assassinated his opponents: “In all fairness to Putin, you’re saying he killed people. I haven’t seen that.” In the event that such killings have transpired, they can be forgiven: “At least he’s a leader.” And not just any old head of state: “I will tell you that, in terms of leadership, he’s getting an A.”

Additionally, several of Trump’s close advisers have Russian ties:

And several advisers in Trump’s orbit have close ties to Russia and Russian interests. Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who advises Trump on foreign policy, raised eyebrows in Washington by sitting at a table with Putin during a gala for the state-run English language news channel Russia Today last year. And Trump’s top adviser, Manafort, has done political consulting work for Ukrainian politicians viewed as allies to Russia.

Even Trump’s vaguely stated policy ideals align with the idea of his collusion with Russia right down to his abhorrence of NATO:

More consequential for Moscow: Trump’s repeated skepticism about the value and strength of the NATO alliance, which formed the pillar of Western Europe and North America’s opposition to the Soviet Union over the past half century.

A central tenet of the North Atlantic treaty is that member states view an attack against one of them as an attack against the entire alliance.

Speaking on the NATO alliance with the New York Times last week, Trump attacked NATO saying:

Asked about Russia’s threatening activities, which have unnerved the small Baltic States that are among the more recent entrants into NATO, Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing if those nations have “fulfilled their obligations to us.”

“If they fulfill their obligations to us,” he added, “the answer is yes.”

In essence, Trump wouldn’t live up to the obligations contained in NATO’s charter. While he didn’t explicitly link this reluctance to his relationship with Putin, the writing is on the wall.

That wasn’t the only occasion in which Trump attacked NATO either. “We pay so much disproportionately more for NATO,” Trump said in March. “We are getting ripped off by every country in NATO, where they pay virtually nothing, most of them. And we’re paying the majority of the costs.”

Trump’s anti-NATO remarks and general isolationist stance would benefit Putin’s agenda at large:

The NATO skepticism plays into a much broader isolationist view that Trump has taken during his campaign, a view that would undoubtedly benefit internationally proactive countries like Russia, if it were carried out by a President Trump.

“The most important difference between our plan and that of our opponents is that our plan will put America first,” Trump said Thursday night during his convention speech. “Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo.”

Which is to say, Americans should regard any “leaks” published by Wikileaks in the coming weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential elections with a grain of salt. After all, Putin has a puppet in his pocket named Trump and a globe full of hackers, spies and allies all aimed at installing that puppet into the White House.

Instead of fighting Assange about releasing the material, it should be pointed out that not only is Assange using the Wikileaks platform in a personal vendetta against Hillary Clinton, he’s doing so with information that may have been altered and is therefore not trustworthy. First rule of real journalism: Make sure your sources can be trusted.

Edit: Made the Recommended List. . .First time ever! Thanks, Kossacks!

Update: This from the New York Times —

“American intelligence agencies have told the White House they now have “high confidence” that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee, according to federal officials who have been briefed on the evidence.

But intelligence officials have cautioned that they are uncertain whether the electronic break-in at the committee’s computer systems was intended as fairly routine cyberespionage — of the kind the United States also conducts around the world — or as part of an effort to manipulate the 2016 presidential election.

The emails were released by WikiLeaks, whose founder, Julian Assange, has made it clear that he hoped to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency. It is unclear how the documents made their way to the group. But a large sampling was published before the WikiLeaks release by several news organizations and someone who called himself “Guccifer 2.0,” who investigators now believe was an agent of the G.R.U., Russia’s military intelligence service.

Such a public accusation could result in a further deterioration of the already icy relationship between Washington and Moscow, at a moment when the administration is trying to reach an accord with Mr. Putin on a cease-fire in Syria and on other issues. It could also doom any effort to reach some kind of agreement about acceptable behavior in cyberspace, of the kind the United States has been discussing with China.

In an interview with Savannah Guthrie of NBC News on Tuesday, President Obama stopped short of accusing Russian agencies from seeking to manipulate the election but said “Anything’s possible.”

He noted that “on a regular basis, they try to influence elections in Europe.”

The rest of the article can be found here: nyti.ms/…

Bill O’Reilly’s Fact Check of Michelle Obama’s Slavery Speech Is Weak Sauce, Even for Him

 

Bill O'Reilly's Fact Check of Michelle Obama's Slavery Speech Is Weak Sauce, Even for Him
Image Credit: Getty Images

POLICY.MIC

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly responded to first lady Michelle Obama‘s speech Monday at the Democratic National Convention, in which she described what it was like to wake up every morning in a White House built by slaves, with a reply that could be generously described as missing the point.

Extremely generously.

According to progressive group Media Matters, Tuesday’s edition of the O’Reilly Factor concluded with the eponymous host issuing his “Factor Tip of the Day.” O’Reilly opened his monologue by acknowledging Obama raised a “fascinating” point about history.

 “Slaves did participate in the construction of the White House,” O’Reilly said. “Records show about 400 payments made to slave masters between 1795 and 1801. In addition, free blacks, whites and immigrants also worked on the massive building. There were no illegal immigrants at that time. If you could make it here, you could stay here.”

Mentioning construction on the White House continued into the 19th century, O’Reilly then segued into a point minimizing the number of slaves required to work on the structure — and anyway, the ones who did had it pretty good for the times, right?

“Slaves that worked there were well fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government, which stopped hiring slave labor in 1802,” O’Reilly said. “However, the feds did not forbid subcontractors from using slave labor. So, Michelle Obama is essentially correct in citing slaves as builders of the White House, but there were others working as well. Got it all? There will be a quiz.”

Yeah. So, to recap, Obama does, in fact, wake up every day in a house built by slaves, but before you feel too bad for them remember: These slaves probably had great benefits. Like food.

Decades later, of course, the Civil War resulted in the ultimate repudiation of the idea the morality of slave ownership is dependent on who owns said slaves or how they were kept.

Some other conservatives have also critiqued Obama’s point, such as right-wing commentator Michelle Malkin, who argued that since the building underwent extensive renovations from 1949 to 1951, the history of the building somehow ends at that point and begins anew.

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Note: SNOPES weighed in:  (ks)

http://www.snopes.com/was-the-white-house-built-by-slaves/

MOSTLY TRUE

WHAT’S TRUE: Recent research has uncovered that the majority of laborers responsible for the construction of the White House and other buildings in the U.S. capital were slaves.

WHAT’S FALSE: The White House wasn’t built exclusively by slaves, as other low-level laborers toiled on the project as well. (KS)

 

‘Change-Maker’

Former President Bill Clinton speaks about his wife, Hillary Clinton, at the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 26, 2016 in Philadelphia.

TIME

Former President Bill Clinton praised his wife Hillary Clinton as the “best darn change-maker I’ve met in my entire life,” just hours after she made history by becoming the first woman to be named the presidential nominee of a major political party

A Bunch Of Celebrities Made A Star-Studded Music Video For Hillary Clinton

THE HUFFINGTON POST

Actress Elizabeth Banks, singer Mandy Moore, Broadway star Idina Menzel and director Rob Reiner were among the celebrities featured in a music video for an a cappella version of Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” that aired during the 2016Democratic National Convention.

“Fight Song” has become an unofficial anthem for Clinton’s campaign. The video that aired during the DNC took inspiration from the movie “Pitch Perfect,” which stars Banks.

Watch the star-studded video above.

Even The Dad Of Pro-Trump Act ‘USA Freedom Kids’ Plans To Sue Campaign

Even The Dad Of Pro-Trump Act ‘USA Freedom Kids’ Plans To Sue Campaign

Via screen capture

ADDICTING INFO

The U.S.A. Freedom Kids performed at a rally for Donald Trump in Florida last January and played a song containing  lyrics which were terrifying — unless you’re pro-war.  After that, the kids were a hit, featured at media appearances, with the three pre-teen girls even telling Inside Edition that Donald told them that he planned to listen to their CD all night long. However, that cozy relationship has changed since then.

The father of one of the Freedom Kids, Jeff Popick, who authored “Freedom’s Call,”  told The Washington Post Monday that he is planning to file a lawsuit against the Trump campaign for violating its agreement with the group.

“This is not a billion-dollar lawsuit,” Popick told the Post. “I’m doing this because I think they have to do the right thing. And if this means having to go through the court system to enforce them doing the right thing, then that’s what I have to do. I’m not looking to do battle with the Trump campaign, but I have to show my girls that this is the right thing.”

Popick said that promises were made by various agents of the Trump campaign.

It started in Pensacola. When Popick first reached out to the Trump campaign about performing, he spoke with various people including former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. His understanding from the campaign was that the Kids would make two appearances in Florida, where Popick lives. The first event didn’t come to fruition, and Popick says he asked for $2,500 in payment for the second performance, in Pensacola. The campaign made a counter-offer: How about a table where the group could presell albums? Popick took the deal.

After arriving at the venue, the group found that there was no table, and he said it ended in “complete chaos,”  adding, “They clearly had made no provisions for that.”

Afterward, Popick attempted to contact the Trump campaign to no avail. Popick said money was spent on promotional material for the table, which never existed. In addition, Popick said he lost several promotional opportunities over the confusion with his relationship with the campaign.

After Donald opted not to be featured during the Fox News debate due to friction with the network, a Trump campaign representative called Popick to see if the Freedom Kids might perform. Popick – tell me if this sounds familiar – was promised that there would be “huge” exposure for the kids from the event, so an agreement was made.

The Freedom Kids and their parents flew out to Iowa only to find a message from the campaign saying there was a change of plan. The performers attended the rally but were told not to talk to the media.

“They just were constantly coming over, wanting pictures,” Popick said of the news media. “They wanted to take pictures, they wanted to ask questions — and I had to be a real jerk.” In the end, the trip, flights, rental car and hotel were all paid by Popick.

After that, he kept reaching out “again and again and again and again,” without luck. He was passed around between staffers; calls went unreturned even after calls were promised. Emails Popick sent to the campaign (which he shared with The Post) detail the interaction between himself and the campaign and his ultimate request. “We are now asking and DEMANDING for what has been promised to us and is now long-overdue (and has been rightly earned by us); that is, a performance at the convention,” an email dated July 9 reads. “Or, be made whole.”

“These are guys that insist they’re straight shooters,” Popick said. “I’ve invested a lot of time, effort, money,” he continued, “and it’s just been complete silence.”

Popick has consulted with an attorney who believes that he has a very strong case.

Popick was a fan of the reality show star-turned GOP nominee but he’s not so sure anymore.

“At this point, my position is that I have no position, really,” Popick said. “What he’s done to my group or what he’s not done for my group doesn’t necessarily make him the best candidate, it doesn’t make him the worst candidate. I still have to mull that over. He might still be the best candidate as president of the United States — or not.”

This whole story sounds familiar. It sounds like the Trump ‘University’ scam. We’re not sure what Mr. Popick has to mull over. If a person is ripping off your kid, then you wouldn’t normally cast a vote for them but we’re not going to tell the father of the Freedom Kids how to freedom.

Stand in line, Mr. Popick. Donald has been involved in 3,500 lawsuits.

By Conover Kennard

10 things you need to know today: July 26, 2016

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

THE WEEK

1. Sanders forcefully endorses Clinton on convention’s first night
Powerful Democrats tried to get the party’s convention on track Mondayafter its first day was marred by a leak of internal emails that threatened party unity with signs some officials had favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. First Lady Michelle Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a favorite of many disenchanted progressives, called for unity in support of Hillary Clinton, and against Donald Trump. Sen. Bernie Sanders urged his supporters, many of whom earlier booed any mention of Clinton, to back her as the party’s presidential nominee, forcefully endorsing her and saying she “must become the next president of the United States.”

Source: The New York Times

2. Hostage-takers kill priest at French church
Two attackers stormed a Catholic church in northern France on Tuesday, fatally slitting the throat of a priest and injuring another hostage before being shot and killed by police. The attackers reportedly had taken the priest, two nuns, and several worshipers hostage. Prime Minister Manuel Valls called the attack “barbaric,” tweeting, “The whole of France and all Catholics are wounded. We will stand together.” The incident came as France remained on high alert after a string of terror attacks for which the Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

Source: BBC News, France 24

3. FBI investigates DNC email leak
The FBI said Monday that it was investigating the leak of thousands of internal Democratic National Committee emails. Hillary Clinton’s campaign blamed the hacking on Russia, citing evidence uncovered by two cybersecurity firms and saying Moscow was trying to help Republican nominee Donald Trump beat Clinton in this fall’s presidential election. Trump, who last week said he might not back NATO allies if Russia attacked them, called the claim a “joke.” Russia denies any involvement.

Source: Chicago Tribune, The New York Times

4. Man fatally stabs 19 at Japan home for disabled
A knife-wielding attacker killed at least 19 people at a residential care facility for disabled people on Monday in the Japanese city of Sagamihara, west of Tokyo. Another 45 people were injured, several of them seriously. Police said they had arrested a suspect, who reportedly had said he believed disabled people should be “euthanized.” They identified the alleged attacker as a 20-year-old former employee of the facility, and said he had walked into a police station and said, “I did it.”

Source: The Washington Post, BBC News

5. Turkey detains journalists as failed-coup fallout continues
Turkey on Monday issued warrants to detain 42 critical journalists on suspicion of links to the organizers of a failed July 15 coup against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The government has rounded up more than 13,000 people in the military, judiciary, and other institutions in a crackdown since the uprising, which left 290 people dead. Ahmet Abakay, president of the Progressive Journalists’ Association, said he feared the government was launching a “witch hunt” and treating all of its critics as coup plotters.

Source: The Associated Press

6. FiveThirtyEight says Trump would be favored to win if election were held now
Statistics guru Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website reported Mondaythat Donald Trump would be more likely than Hillary Clinton to win the presidential election if it were held today. Some polls showed Trump with a lead following his official nomination at the Republican National Convention last week. Clinton has held onto narrow leads in some surveys, but in the most recent polls Trump has edged ahead. According to FiveThirtyEight‘s “now-cast,” Trump would have a 57 percent chance of winning the Electoral College if the vote were held today, after going from a three-percentage-point deficit in national polls overall last week to a one-point lead.

Source: FiveThirtyEight

7. Al Gore endorses Hillary Clinton
Former Vice President Al Gore endorsed Hillary Clinton for presidenton Monday. He waited until the first day of the Democratic National Convention, making him one of the last big-name Democrats to get behind the party’s presumptive presidential nominee. Gore, who had declined to discuss the race in the primaries, tweeted: “I am not able to attend this year’s Democratic convention, but I will be voting for Hillary Clinton,” citing her “qualifications and experience” and urging others to back her, too.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Twitter

8. Fed starts meeting with no rate hike expected
Federal Reserve policy makers start a two-day meeting on Tuesday, with most analysts and investors expecting no change in interest rates as the Fed waits to see how the economy does in the wake of June’s strong jobs report and the U.K.’s vote to exit the European Union. Most economists believe the Fed will avoid sending clear signals on when it plans to resume slowly raising rates after the slowdown in economic growth early this year. One economist said there’s “too much volatility” to hike rates now, but the data should be more clear by September.

Source: The Associated Press

9. Michael Jordan ends silence on violence
NBA legend Michael Jordan released a rare statement Monday about police violence against the black community. Jordan said he grieved with families of African-Americans killed by police, and with those of officers targeted by gunmen. “I know their pain all too well,” said Jordan, whose father was killed in a 1993 roadside robbery. Jordan said he was donating $1 million to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and to the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s Institute for Community-Police Relations. “We need to find solutions that ensure people of color receive fair and equal treatment,” he said, “AND that police officers … are respected and supported.”

Source: The Undefeated

10. Solar Impulse 2 completes last leg of trip around the world
Solar Impulse 2 landed in Abu Dhabi on Monday, marking a win for clean energy by becoming the first fuel-free plane to fly around the world. Pilot Bertrand Piccard flew the last of the trip’s 17 legs, after taking turns with fellow flyer André Borschberg since the solar-powered aircraft left from the same city in March 2015. With a 236-foot wingspan, Solar Impulse 2 is wider than a Boeing 747, but it is made with carbon fiber and weighs just 5,000 pounds. Solar cells built into its wings power four motors. With a top speed of 90 miles per hour, the plane traveled 26,744 miles in 558 hours of flight time on the journey.

Source: Wired, Fox News