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bananas

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FBI reviewed Flynns calls with Russian ambassador but found nothing illicit

Source: Washington Post

The FBI in late December reviewed intercepts of communications between the Russian ambassador to the United States and retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn — national security adviser to then-President-elect Trump — but has not found any evidence of wrongdoing or illicit ties to the Russian government, U.S. officials said.

The calls were picked up as part of routine electronic surveillance of Russian officials and agents in the United States, which is one of the FBI’s responsibilities, according to the U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss counterintelligence operations.

<snip>

Although Flynn’s contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were listened to, Flynn himself is not the active target of an investigation, U.S. officials said. The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that U.S. counterintelligence agents had investigated the communications between Flynn and Kislyak.

<snip>

The FBI’s counterintelligence agents listen to calls all the time that do not pertain to any open investigation, current and former law enforcement officials said. Often, said one former official, “they’re just monitoring the other side of the call.”

<snip>

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/fbi-reviewed-flynns-calls-with-russian-ambassador-but-found-nothing-illicit/2017/01/23/aa83879a-e1ae-11e6-a547-5fb9411d332c_story.html?postshare=1121485223748974&tid=ss_tw&utm_term=.ed48b11344b8



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCarthyism

McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence. It also means "the practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigative techniques, especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism." The term has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from 1950 to 1956 and characterized by heightened political repression as well as a campaign spreading fear of influence on American institutions and of espionage by Soviet agents.

<snip>

"McCarthyism" soon took on a broader meaning, describing the excesses of similar efforts. The term is also now used more generally to describe reckless, unsubstantiated accusations, as well as demagogic attacks on the character or patriotism of political adversaries. During the McCarthy era, thousands of Americans were accused of being communists or communist sympathizers and became the subject of aggressive investigations and questioning before government or private-industry panels, committees and agencies. The primary targets of such suspicions were government employees, those in the entertainment industry, educators and union activists. Suspicions were often given credence despite inconclusive or questionable evidence, and the level of threat posed by a person's real or supposed leftist associations or beliefs was often greatly exaggerated. Many people suffered loss of employment and/or destruction of their careers; some even suffered imprisonment. Most of these punishments came about through trial verdicts later overturned, laws that were later declared unconstitutional, dismissals for reasons later declared illegal or actionable, or extra-legal procedures that would come into general disrepute.

The most notable examples of McCarthyism include the speeches, investigations, and hearings of Senator McCarthy himself; the Hollywood blacklist, associated with hearings conducted by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC); and the various anti-communist activities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) under Director J. Edgar Hoover. McCarthyism was a widespread social and cultural phenomenon that affected all levels of society and was the source of a great deal of debate and conflict in the United States.

<snip>

The first images from the new weather satellite just arrived, and they're absolutely incredible

Source: Washington Post

The satellite formerly known as GOES-R (so Prince, right?) has transmitted its first images back to Earth, and they are flooring. From the details on the face of the moon to the incredible resolution of cumulus over the Caribbean, these first pixels portend a sunny future for NOAA’s new GOES-16 satellite.

Meteorologists are drooling. This release coincides with the first day of the American Meteorological Society’s annual meeting. There are thousands of weather geeks in Seattle this week, and — at least on Monday — they’re all looking at this next-gen satellite imagery.

<snip>

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2017/01/23/the-first-images-from-goes-r-have-come-in-and-theyre-absolutely-incredible/?tid=pm_local_pop

Brian Eno: 'We've been in decline for 40 years - Trump is a chance to rethink'

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/jan/23/brian-eno-not-interested-in-talking-about-me-reflection

Brian Eno: ‘We’ve been in decline for 40 years – Trump is a chance to rethink'

The revered producer has been at the centre of pop since the days of Roxy Music. But don’t ask him about the past – he’s more interested in how to reorder society

Simon Hattenstone
Monday 23 January 2017 01.30 EST

<snip>

He has called himself an optimist. In the past. I ask him if he still is, post-2016. Yes, he says, there is a positive way to look at it. “Most people I know felt that 2016 was the beginning of a long decline with Brexit, then Trump and all these nationalist movements in Europe. It looked like things were going to get worse and worse. I said: ‘Well, what about thinking about it in a different way?’ Actually, it’s the end of a long decline. We’ve been in decline for about 40 years since Thatcher and Reagan and the Ayn Rand infection spread through the political class, and perhaps we’ve bottomed out. My feeling about Brexit was not anger at anybody else, it was anger at myself for not realising what was going on. I thought that all those Ukip people and those National Fronty people were in a little bubble. Then I thought: ‘Fuck, it was us, we were in the bubble, we didn’t notice it.’ There was a revolution brewing and we didn’t spot it because we didn’t make it. We expected we were going to be the revolution.”

He draws me a little diagram to explain how society has changed – productivity and real wages rising in tandem till 1975, then productivity continuing to rise while real wages fell. “It is easily summarised in that Joseph Stiglitz graph.” The trouble now, he says, is the extremes of wealth and poverty. “You have 62 people worth the amount the bottom three and a half billion people are worth. Sixty-two people! You could put them all in one bloody bus … then crash it!” He grins. “Don’t say that bit.” (Since we meet, Oxfam publish a report suggesting that only eight men own as much wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion people in the world – half the world’s population.)

Eno himself is a multimillionaire, largely because of his work as a producer.He wouldn’t be one of the 62, would he, I ask. “I certainly wouldn’t be,” he says with a thin smile. “No, I’m a long way off that.”

He is still thinking about the political fallout of the past year. “Actually, in retrospect, I’ve started to think I’m pleased about Trump and I’m pleased about Brexit because it gives us a kick up the arse and we needed it because we weren’t going to change anything. Just imagine if Hillary Clinton had won and we’d been business as usual, the whole structure she’d inherited, the whole Clinton family myth. I don’t know that’s a future I would particularly want. It just seems that was grinding slowly to a halt, whereas now, with Trump, there’s a chance of a proper crash, and a chance to really rethink.”

<snip>

No 10 covered up Trident missile fiasco

Source: London Sunday Times

Former navy chief attacks ‘bizarre’ secrecy over failed test launch

A serious malfunction in Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons deterrent was covered up by Downing Street just weeks before the crucial House of Commons vote on the future of the missile system.

The Sunday Times can reveal that a Trident II D5 missile — which can kill millions when armed with nuclear warheads — experienced an alarming failure after being launched from a British submarine off the coast of Florida in June last year.

It was the only firing test of a British nuclear missile in four years and raises serious questions about the reliability and safety of the weapons system. The failure prompted a news blackout by Downing Street that has remained in place until this weekend.

Failure to disclose the error was described as…

<snip>

Read more: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/no-10-covered-up-trident-missile-fiasco-hch3shsrn

NASA Uses Bait and Switch Tactics To Buy Soyuz Seats

http://nasawatch.com/archives/2017/01/nasa-uses-bait.html

NASA Uses Bait and Switch Tactics To Buy Soyuz Seats
By Keith Cowing on January 17, 2017 4:00 PM. 21 Comments

Procurement of Crew Transportation and Rescue Services From Boeing, NASA

"NASA is considering contracting with The Boeing Company (Boeing) for crew transportation services to and from the International Space Station (ISS) on the Russian Soyuz vehicle. This transportation would be for one crewmember in the Fall of 2017 and one crewmember in the Spring of 2018. NASA is considering purchasing these services from Boeing, without competition, because no other vehicles are currently capable of providing these services in Fall 2017 or Spring 2018. NASA has contracts with two U.S. commercial companies for crew transportation to the ISS. However, these vehicles are still in the developmental stage, and not expected to begin fully operational flights to the ISS until 2019. NASA also is considering an option to acquire crew transportation from Boeing for three crewmembers on the Soyuz in 2019, to ensure the availability of back-up transportation capability in the event the U.S. commercial contractor vehicles are delayed or to augment future ISS operations and research."

"Russia recently announced its plans to decrement the Russian crew count onboard ISS from three to two, beginning in CY 2017. As a result of Russia reducing its crew count by one crewmember, there is now an available Soyuz seat in the 2017-2018 timeframe on each of the two planned spacecraft that would have otherwise had two Russian crew aboard. Of the 24 total Soyuz seats available in 2017-2018, the three seats resulting from the Russian crew decrement are the only available means of transporting additional US crewmembers to ISS during this period."

"An agreement was recently reached between the Boeing Company and S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Public Corporation, Energia ("RSC Energia"), who is the manufacturer of the Soyuz spacecraft and has the legal rights to sell the seats and associated services. As a part of this agreement, Energia agreed to provide to Boeing two specifically identified seats on the Soyuz spacecraft for long-duration travel to and from the ISS, one on a flight to occur in the Fall 2017 timeframe and another on a flight to occur in the Spring 2018 timeframe. Additionally, Energia provided Boeing three additional specifically identified seats in the Spring 2019 timeframe on two Soyuz spacecraft. Finally, Boeing and RSC Energia agreed that each of these five seats will include a launch of an individual to and from the ISS, including all services normally provided during launches to ISS. Boeing and RSC Energia have represented that Boeing has the full rights to these seats and can sell them to any third party."

Keith's note: How sneaky. Neither SpaceX or Boeing are going to have their crew services ready in time to replace Soyuz in the near term. So NASA uses Boeing to buy more Soyuz seats. Its not the first time that they have bought Soyuz seats. But NASA omits mention of the word "Soyuz" in the title of the presolicitation notice. No one will notice, right NASA? But wait - there's more - RSC Energia gave Boeing 5 Soyuz seats to settle a business deal gone sour (Sea Launch) - and Boeing can charge NASA whatever whatever they want for these seats. And if CST-100 flights are delayed further and more Soyuz seats are needed then Boeing can sell extra seats to NASA. Boeing makes money from NASA one way - or the other - unless SpaceX gets into space with their crewed Dragon.

<snip>

Scientists Encourage Trump to Support Iran Deal

https://nuclearrisk.wordpress.com/2017/01/02/scientists-encourage-trump-to-support-iran-deal/

Scientists Encourage Trump to Support Iran Deal

Posted on January 2, 2017 by Martin Hellman

Earlier today, a letter on which I am a cosigner was sent to President-elect Trump encouraging him to abide by the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by President Obama. An article by New York Times reporter William Broad, noted:

Dozens of the nation’s top scientists wrote to President-elect Donald J. Trump on Monday to urge him not to dismantle the Iran deal, calling it a strong bulwark against any Iranian bid to make nuclear arms. … The 37 signatories included Nobel laureates, veteran makers of nuclear arms, former White House science advisers and the chief executive of the world’s largest general society of scientists.



The letter is a follow-on to one signed by much the same group and sent in August 2015 to President Obama. The new letter gives our assessment now that the agreement has been in place for almost a year and concludes:

The JCPOA does not take any options off the table for you or any future president. Indeed it makes it much easier for you to know if and when Iran heads for a bomb. It provides both time and legitimacy for an effective response. Our technical judgment is that the multilateral JCPOA provides a strong bulwark against an Iranian nuclear-weapons program. We urge you to preserve this critical U.S. strategic asset.


The book my wife and I recently completed has a short section on Iran (pages 201-210) that has some eye-opening revelations that more Americans need to understand if we are to heal our adversarial relationship with that nation. (Links for buying the book or downloading a free PDF are on its website.)

The letter to President-elect Trump is particularly important given calls for regime change by two of the men he had considered for Secretary of State: Rudolph Giuliani and John Bolton. Giuliani said, “The inevitable conclusion of all of this is, we have to have regime change,” and Bolton, “The inconvenient truth is that only military action … can accomplish what is required. … Such action should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran.”

Continuing to threaten Iran and encouraging regime change has the unintended consequence of increasing support for a bomb within Iran since that is the only way Iran can deter such actions.

Martin Hellman

White House fails to make case that Russian hackers tampered with election

http://arstechnica.com/security/2016/12/did-russia-tamper-with-the-2016-election-bitter-debate-likely-to-rage-on/?comments=1

White House fails to make case that Russian hackers tampered with election

US issued JAR billed itself as an indictment that would prove Russian involvement.

DAN GOODIN - 12/30/2016, 3:09 PM

Talk about disappointments. The US government's much-anticipated analysis of Russian-sponsored hacking operations provides almost none of the promised evidence linking them to breaches that the Obama administration claims were orchestrated in an attempt to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

The 13-page report, which was jointly published Thursday by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, billed itself as an indictment of sorts that would finally lay out the intelligence community's case that Russian government operatives carried out hacks on the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Clinton Campaign Chief John Podesta and leaked much of the resulting material. While security companies in the private sector have said for months the hacking campaign was the work of people working for the Russian government, anonymous people tied to the leaks have claimed they are lone wolves. Many independent security experts said there was little way to know the true origins of the attacks.

Sadly, the JAR, as the Joint Analysis Report is called, does little to end the debate. Instead of providing smoking guns that the Russian government was behind specific hacks, it largely restates previous private-sector claims without providing any support for their validity. Even worse, it provides an effective bait and switch by promising newly declassified intelligence into Russian hackers' "tradecraft and techniques" and instead delivering generic methods carried out by just about all state-sponsored hacking groups.

<snip>

A Demand for Russian 'Hacking' Proof - Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/01/17/a-demand-for-russian-hacking-proof/

A Demand for Russian ‘Hacking’ Proof
January 17, 2017

More than 20 U.S. intelligence, military and diplomatic veterans are calling on President Obama to release the evidence backing up allegations that Russia aided the Trump campaign – or admit that the proof is lacking.


MEMORANDUM FOR: President Barack Obama

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: A Key Issue That Still Needs to be Resolved

As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take the oath of office Friday, a pall hangs over his upcoming presidency amid an unprecedentedly concerted campaign to delegitimize it. Unconfirmed accusations continue to swirl alleging that Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized “Russian hacking” that helped put Mr. Trump in the White House.

As President for a few more days, you have the power to demand concrete evidence of a link between the Russians and WikiLeaks, which published the bulk of the information in question. Lacking that evidence, the American people should be told that there is no fire under the smoke and mirrors of recent weeks.

We urge you to authorize public release of any tangible evidence that takes us beyond the unsubstantiated, “we-assess” judgments by the intelligence agencies. Otherwise, we – as well as other skeptical Americans – will be left with the corrosive suspicion that the intense campaign of accusations is part of a wider attempt to discredit the Russians and those – like Mr. Trump – who wish to deal constructively with them.

Remember the Maine?

Alleged Russian interference has been labeled “an act of war” and Mr. Trump a “traitor.” But the “intelligence” served up to support those charges does not pass the smell test. Your press conference on Wednesday will give you a chance to respond more persuasively to NBC’s Peter Alexander’s challenge at the last one (on Dec. 16) “to show the proof , as they say, put your money where your mouth is and declassify some of the intelligence. …”

<snip>

William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)

Marshall Carter-Tripp, Foreign Service Officer (ret) and former Office Director in the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research

Thomas Drake, former Senior Executive, NSA

Bogdan Dzakovic, Former Team Leader of Federal Air Marshals and Red Team, FAA Security, (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)

Mike Gravel, former Adjutant, top secret control officer, Communications Intelligence Service; special agent of the Counter Intelligence Corps and former United States Senator

Matthew Hoh, former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan (associate VIPS)

Larry Johnson, former CIA Intelligence Officer & former State Department Counter-Terrorism Official, ret.

Michael S. Kearns, Captain, USAF (Ret.); ex-Master SERE Instructor for Strategic Reconnaissance Operations (NSA/DIA) and Special Mission Units (JSOC)

Brady Kiesling, former U.S. Foreign Service Officer, ret. (Associate VIPS),

John Kiriakou, Former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and former Senior Investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Karen Kwiatkowski, former Lt. Col., US Air Force (ret.), at Office of Secretary of Defense watching the manufacture of lies on Iraq, 2001-2003

Linda Lewis, WMD preparedness policy analyst, USDA (ret.)

David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)

Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray, former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Middle East, CIA (ret.)

Scott Ritter, former MAJ., USMC, former UN Weapon Inspector, Iraq

Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel (ret.)

Peter Van Buren, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Kirk Wiebe, former Senior Analyst, SIGINT Automation Research Center, NSA (ret.)

Robert Wing, former Foreign Service Officer (associate VIPS)

Ann Wright, U.S. Army Reserve Colonel (ret) and former U.S. Diplomat


1 million signatures collected in support of Snowden pardon

Source: The Hill

A group hoping to secure a presidential pardon for National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden delivered a petition with more than 1 million signatures to President Obama on Friday.

"Pardoning Snowden would show the world the U.S. cares (about) human rights at a time of great concern,” said Ben Wizner, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney working on behalf of Snowden, about the Pardon Snowden Campaign petition.

<snip>

“Remember, Snowden said systems we were building could be handed to a tyrant," he said.

"Luckily we listened, and passed significant surveillance reform – something administration officials have agreed was the right thing to do,” Wizner added.

Obama has argued that he cannot pardon Snowden until he is convicted of a crime, something Wizner describes as a dodge.

“The pardon power is absolute. Remember, Nixon was never convicted of anything, but pardoned by Ford,” he said.

<snip>

Read more: http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/314221-org-delivers-11-million-signatures-in-support-of-snowden-pardon



Snowden deserves a full pardon, and a hero's welcome home.

Daniel Ellsberg: "Ed Snowden should be freed of the legal burden hanging over him. They should remove the indictment, pardon him if that’s the way to do it, so that he is no longer facing prison."

Bernie Sanders: "the interests of justice would be best served if our government granted him some form of clemency or a plea agreement that would spare him a long prison sentence or permanent exile."

Noam Chomsky: "President Obama should provide Edward Snowden with a form of clemency that would permit him to return home to the United States – and still more appropriately in my view, remove all threats of criminal investigation as well. Snowden should, in my opinion, be welcomed home with honors for his service to his country, and for his courage and integrity in the manner in which he performed this service."

Barry Eisler: "I wholeheartedly support a full presidential pardon for whistleblower Edward Snowden ... he deserves a Presidential Medal of Freedom."

U.S. lists 17 nuclear reactors with parts from forge under probe

Source: Reuters

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on Tuesday unveiled a letter showing that 17 of the country's nuclear reactors have parts from Areva SA's Le Creusot forge in France, which is under investigation for allegedly falsifying documents on the quality of its parts.

The number of reactors was more than the nine the NRC had previously disclosed.

Last month authorities in France opened an investigation into decades of alleged forgery of documents relating to the quality of parts produced at Le Creusot and used in power plants around the world.

Areva, a nuclear and renewable energy firm, furnished the information to the U.S. regulator last month but had urged the agency to keep it private, saying it was material to the business of nuclear power generators. The NRC told Areva it did not consider the information to be so and released it 10 days after receiving it.

<snip>

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-france-nuclearpower-idUSKBN14U2T0
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