Blogs from Michael_Novakhov (21 sites): The FBI News Review: “fbi reform” – Google News: U.S. Rep. Tlaib calls for moratorium on facial recognition technology used by Detroit police – Michigan Radio

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June 07, 2019
“fbi reform” – Google News: U.S. Rep. Tlaib calls for moratorium on facial recognition technology used by Detroit police – Michigan Radio
Legislators seek answers on Boeing 737 Max alert defect – krcgtv.com
“house judiciary committee” – Google News: Florida daycare worker arrested after shaking, slapping child – KLEW
[BC-MCT-INTERNATIONAL-BJT] | Associated Press | northwestgeorgianews.com – Rome News-Tribune
“mueller” – Google News: Handley’s Mueller, Volinsky capture Class 4 boys’ doubles crown – The Winchester Star

“fbi reform” – Google News: U.S. Rep. Tlaib calls for moratorium on facial recognition technology used by Detroit police – Michigan Radio

FBI from Michael_Novakhov (28 sites)
U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib wants law enforcement to stop using facial recognition software to identify criminal suspects. A report from the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology found Detroit is one of the first and largest cities to use the technology.
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Legislators seek answers on Boeing 737 Max alert defect – krcgtv.com

krcgtv.com
Legislators seek answers on Boeing 737 Max alert defect krcgtv.comWASHINGTON (SBG) – Two key legislators want answers from Boeing and federal regulators about why the company waited more than a year to disclose that a …
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“house judiciary committee” – Google News: Florida daycare worker arrested after shaking, slapping child – KLEW

FBI from Michael_Novakhov (28 sites)
Florida daycare worker arrested after shaking, slapping child KLEWORMOND BEACH, Fla. (STORYFUL) — A Florida woman was arrested on June 3rd after security footage allegedly showed her shaking and slapping a child at a …
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[BC-MCT-INTERNATIONAL-BJT] | Associated Press | northwestgeorgianews.com – Rome News-Tribune

Rome News-Tribune
(TNS) Tribune News Service International Budget for Saturday, June 8, 2019 Updated at 0000 UTC (8 p.m. U.S. EDT Friday). Additional news stories, including full U.S. coverage, appear on the MCT-NEWS-BJT and MCT-NEWSFEATURES-BJT.
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“mueller” – Google News: Handley’s Mueller, Volinsky capture Class 4 boys’ doubles crown – The Winchester Star

FBI from Michael_Novakhov (28 sites)
For much of their lives, Handley’s Nick Mueller and Jack Volinsky have been hitting tennis balls together. And it was together, that both of them joined some of the Judges’ greats in winning a state title.
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Eurasia Review: Culture As A Binding Factor In Our Society: Interview With Camilla Habsburg-Lothringen

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Nowadays, institutions are too quickly turning to culture and identity to explain politics, especially at election times. As simple and convenient as it seems, it is not as accurate as such. All across Europe, the governments failed at distributive justice, not on culture or behavioural recognition.

We are discussing these highly topical issues with our special guest Camilla Habsburg-Lothringen.

We need culture to know where we came from, says her Imperial and Royal Highness Archduchess of Austria and Princess of Tuscany Camilla Habsburg-Lothringen. “In a time where society is complaining, is frustrated and not making the best of what we have, there we need culture. The cultural field enables us to build up dialogues better and faster than administrations can.” Contributing to a better world, that is why the descendant of the Habsburg house which leads back to Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and Empress Maria Therese of Austria, chose the cultural field over a more political career.

How does it feel be the great-great-great-granddaughter of such historical figure like Maria Theresia?

This year we celebrate the 300th anniversary of Empress Maria
Theresias birth. She was bright and very advanced for her time. Great
policy such as the obligation to go to school, the vaccination against
chicken pox, the opening of the stock market and the founding of the
academy for diplomats was one of the many actions implemented by her.
Her strong charakter and personality as a ruler, wife and mother
impresses me strongly

It is a big responsibility to carry this name, it will always be
imprinted on me. As it is not easy to fullfill all peoples expectations
but I try to be true to myself, not to loose my focus and keep
remembering my history, where I come from

Do you consider this responsibility to be political?

No, there is no role for me in politics. The time to get involved is
very limited. First you have to get elected, and during the mandate you
try to do as much as you can – let’s hope so- and then the electorate
either replaces or re-elects you. All this makes it difficult to make
real changes not mentioning the opponent parties that block every
suggestions even if they are good ones

Politicians mostly take responsibility over a certain period. This is
understandable because they receive legitimacy over a certain time. But
the downside is that many do not understand the responsibility for
future consequences of their actions. Monarchies, nobility and family
run companies they all have to make carefull decisions as these leave an
impact and imprint on the future of generations and the empires or
business. Politicians should learn from this and vow to take
consequences for the effects of their actions in the future.

Besides that I feel that real change should be realised via initiatives.

Do you feel that we need change?

I am pretty thankful to live in a peaceful country with a strong
stability like in Austria. But it worries me that people don’t recognize
that. In the last years nearly all over Europe I observe the encrease
of a complaining and unsatisfied society that is questioning everything.
Also greed and materalism has become very dominant in our times and
this leads to a feeling of emptiness. And so its understandable that
people become very scared and receptive to any kind of manipulative
information that theats this artificial way of life

In our times there is a strong destabilizing fear for the future and
other cultures. The result is a lack of focus and investments. Constant
worrying will lead us nowhere and won’t enable us to build a strong
future. That is something we need to change.

I would say that there is a need for respect. Respect is much
stronger than tolerance. The population is growing fast, everybody is
getting closer, and more people will live in our countries. Just
tolerating others will not be sufficient, we need to respect each other
and other cultures and learn from them

Do you see any role for yourself in this?

I have a background in PR and advertising, besides that I am also
very active in the field of networking. But most important for me are
values: the stability of a society and passing on of ideas and sending
impulses. I was never involved in representing companies, firms, but
always more looking into the direction of a so called atmospheric PR if
you understand what I mean. That is a kind of seismographic feeling
towards our environment and our global thinking and acting. Searching
for solutions, to get together those people who feel and think in a
similar way and then move things into action.

Do you consider that to be diplomacy?

Yes. Diplomacy has a very important stabilizing function in this
world. I prefer the cultural field because it is neutral and makes it
easier to bind people and nations on a diplomatic base. A few months ago
I became Director Euro-Mediterranean Diplomacy and Intercultural
Affairs at the International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan
Studies (IFIMES). In this function I would like to connect the
Euro-Mediterranean and Balkan regions and give a voice to those without
one. For me that is one of the important aspects of diplomacy.  

Do you feel that the European Union contributes to a better world?

The European project -the European Union, brought prosperity and
peace to the continent. But now they are getting lost in a big
contruction of burocracy and regulations like on what kind of energy
saving light bulbs we are allowed to buy. There are too many paragraphs
blocking any fast action. I find this a waste of energy, time and money.
There is a real need for solutions for the bigger problems, like
immigration for instance. The European Union should focus on the bigger
political issues and on the cultural field

The near future might be challenging, but we need to keep the dialogue going, because together we can tackle every crisis.

First published by the Dutch Diplomat Magazine

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Eurasia Review: Indonesia: Noisy Eid Al-Fitr Celebration Sparks Clash

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By Ryan Dagur

At least two people were killed and more than 700 forced to flee their homes during communal clashes between rival villages at an Eid al-Fitr celebration in Indonesia’s Southeast Sulawesi province.

Another eight people were reported injured and at least 87 homes were destroyed in the violence that erupted on June 4 and lasted two days in the village of Gunung Jaya on Buton Island.

The clashes began after dozens of residents from the nearby village of Sampuabalo rode motorcycles through Gunung Jaya, according to media reports.  The noise made by the motorcade angered locals, leading to heated words and violence, the English-language Jakarta Post newspaper reported.

Southeast Sulawesi police spokesman Adj. Sr. Harry Golden Hart told ucanews.com that police and military reinforcements had been drafted in to end the fighting.

“Our priority is to calm things down and to prevent further clashes breaking out,” he said. He said a thorough investigation would be carried out. 

“The police are now collecting evidence to find out who the provocateurs really are,” he said, adding that those confirmed dead and injured were attacked with machetes or received arrow wounds.

Dedi Ferianto from the Buton Legal Aid urged the local government to deal with the aftermath carefully. Social and religious leaders should play a role in the healing process, he said.

Special attention must be paid to all victims and affected villagers to prevent acts of revenge, he added.

Southeast Sulawesi Governor Ali Mazi promised to help rebuild the destroyed houses, saying a team of inspectors would assess the damage on June 7.

“I hope everyone can forgive each other,” he told news portal detikNews.com.

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Eurasia Review: Germany Deals Blow To Albania, North Macedonia EU Hopes

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By Sinisa Jakov Marusic

The German parliament on Thursday approved the NATO accession
protocol with North Macedonia – but did not discuss supporting the
launch of EU accession talks either with North Macedonia or Albania.

Without
such a decision from the Bundestag, the German government cannot
approve the opening of accession talks with the two aspiring member
countries at the European Council later this month, in June 18.

This
means that the earliest possible date for this to happen would be in
September, after the Bundestag returns from its summer recess.

The stalling in Berlin
will add to the concerns of the governments in Skopje and Tirana, who
also have to deal with the enlargement skepticism of France, The
Netherlands and some other EU countries.

Both countries had been hoping for a firm date to start membership talks.

North
Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev earlier this week in Brussels
warned that if no decision was made to start accession talks this year,
it could jeopardize his pro-European government and boost the more
euro-skeptic right-wing forces in the country who were ousted from power
two years ago in 2017.

The EU “will either support this
progressive, pro-European option, or those who have been blocking these
processes and who have been tagged as radical, nationalist or
pro-Russian. The disappointment among our citizens if the EC fails to
grant a positive opinion will give hope to the latter forces,” Zaev
said.

The European Commission in May recommended the EU to open membership talks with North Macedonia and Albania – but the left a decision on the actual date to the European Council in June.

Its
report praised Zaev’s government for striking a historic deal with
Greece last summer on ending the long dispute over Macedonia’s name, as
well as engaging in other reforms designed to unlock the country’s
stalled Euro-Atlantic bid.

“No matter what will happen, we did
everything we could. I would like our [EU] partners to know that we have
been waiting for 15 years [for a date] and that now, everything is
possible,” Zaev said.

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Eurasia Review: Soccer Emerges As The Gulf Crisis’s Potential Icebreaker – Analysis

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It
was on the soccer pitch that 2022 World Cup host
Qatar definitively shrugged off the UAE-Saudi-led economic and
diplomatic boycott of the Gulf state as the crisis entered its third
year with no prospect of
resolution.

World
soccer body FIFA’s abandonment of Saudi-United
Arab Emirates-backed plans to expand the 2022 World Cup from 32 to 48
teams just days before the boycott’s June 5 second anniversary could not
have come at a
more opportune moment.

The
FIFA decision came on the heels of Qatar’s
unexpected winning of the Asian Cup and was followed by reports that the
Gulf state’s sovereign wealth fund was negotiating the acquisition of
British club
Leeds United.

The
acquisition would give Qatar a second top European
team after Paris Saint-Germain and potentially take the soccer aspects
of the rift to the English Premier League, home to UAE-owned Manchester
City, at a
time that soccer has emerged as a battlefield in the Gulf rift. So would
a possible Saudi acquisition of Manchester United.

The
soccer pitch has been but one venue on which Qatar
has been scoring points. Three years into the boycott, Qatar’s
detractors – Saud Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt — have failed to
either force Qatar to
accept demands that would have undermined its independence and
sovereignty or convince the international community of the legitimacy of
their
approach.

On
the contrary. Qatar is thriving economically,
having with the help of Oman, Turkey and Iran compensated for the
rupture in logistics caused by the breaking off of airlinks with its
detractors and the
closure of its only land border with Saudi Arabia.

Moreover,
rather than being internationally isolated,
Qatar has succeeded in deepening relations with the world’s major powers
– the United States, China, Europe, Russia and India – and reinforced
its position
as mediator or key player in conflicts ranging from Afghanistan to Gaza.

Ironically,
Qatar has been able to turn the Gulf
crisis into one of the few issues that the world’s rivalling powers
agree on and fortify the cul de sac in which its detractors find
themselves. Washington,
Beijing, Moscow, Brussels and Delhi all want the Gulf crisis resolved
but have failed to convince Riyadh and Abu Dhabi that everyone would be
best served by
a resolution that allows all parties to save face even if it falls far
short of the boycotters’ demands.

Those
demands reflected a broader Saudi and UAE policy
that aims to shape the greater Middle East, stretching from Central Asia
to the Horn of Africa, in their mould and aims to force governments to
tow a
Saudi-UAE line that promotes autocracy, rejects political participation,
opposes political Islam and violates human rights.

They
boycotters demand that Qatar align its military,
political, social and economic policies with those of other Gulf states,
shutter its Al Jazeera television network and other Qatar-funded media
outlets, end
military cooperation with Turkey and close down a Turkish military bases
in the country.

In
a rebuke of the boycotters who also demanded that
Qatar revoke citizenship granted to political refugees from Saudi
Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain, the Gulf state, on
the third
anniversary of the boycott, issued the region’s first asylum law.

The
law applies explicitly to human rights defenders;
journalists, writers and researchers; political, religious and ethnic
minority activists; and former or current officials opposed to their
government’s
policies who are threatened by persecution.

To
be sure, Qatar’s positioning of itself as a
defender of human rights has holes in it that make it look like
Emmenthaler cheese. Domestically, press freedom is non-existent. The
government abruptly in
May closed the Doha Centre for Media Freedom after firing its first two
directors for taking the organization’s goal literal. As free-wheeling
and
hard-hitting as Al Jazeera can be in its regional and international
reporting, as careful it is not to cover Qatar’s warts or take reporting
to wherever the
chips fall when it touches on Qatari interests.

It
took widespread criticism for Al Jazeera to suspend
two journalists and pull a recent seven-minute, Arabic language video it
posted to its social media channels that claimed Jews exploit the
Holocaust and that
Israel is the genocide’s “greatest beneficiary.”

To be fair, the network said the video “contravened
its editorial standards” and mandated that all staff participate in a bias and sensitivity training.

The
contradiction between Qatar’s advocacy of
political change everywhere but at home is rooted on the one hand in the
recognition that transition is inevitable, and that Qatar is best
served by being in
front of the cart rather than behind it and on the other the seemingly
naïve belief that the Gulf state itself can remain immune.

And that’s what explains the crisis and the boycotting
alliance’s demands.

If
Saudi Arabia and the UAE strive to maintain
region’s autocratic status quo to the degree possible by suppressing
dissent and activism and projecting military as well as soft power,
Qatar’s strategy
embraces degrees of change but is wholly built on soft power.

It
is a strategy that is built on diversified gas
sales; maintaining relations with all parties to position Qatar as a
go-to-mediator; projecting the Gulf state as a global, cutting-edge
sports hub;
situating Qatar as a transportation hub connecting continents with a
world-class airline; turning the Gulf state into a cultural hub with
dazzling museums
and arts acquisitions; and investing in Western blue chips and
high-profile real estate.

Alongside
diplomacy, economics, media and football,
gas is increasingly emerging not only as a battlefield but also as a
driver of the Gulf crisis. Gas may also prove to be a gauge for the
timeframe that Saudi
Arabia supported by the UAE has in mind and one reason why they have so
far refused to contemplate unconditional negotiations and
compromise.

The
significance of gas was highlighted when The Wall
Street Journal recently disclosed that US officials had prevented Saudi
Arabia prior to the declaration of the boycott from invading the Gulf
states and
seizing Qatar’s operations in the world’s largest gas field.

Taking
control of Qatari fields would have not only
forced Qatar, the world’s largest liquified natural gas (LNG) exporter,
to effectively surrender, but also turned Saudi Arabia into the world’s
second-biggest exporter overnight.

If
gas proves to be a major driver of the rift, then
recently announced Saudi plans to become a major gas player suggest that
the dispute could take at least another six years, if not a decade, to
resolve.

Amin
Nasser, the chief executive of Saudi national oil
company Aramco said during the World Economic Forum in January that he
expected US$150 billion to be invested in the Saudi gas sector over the
next ten
years. Mr. Nasser envisioned gas production increasing from 14 billion
standard cubic feet to 23 billion by 2030.

Saudi
energy minister Khalid al-Falih said in April
following the disclosure of recently discovered major reserves in the
Red Sea that the kingdom may achieve its goal in five to six years.

In
the meantime, Saudi Arabia is pushing to become a
major gas trader and marketeer, primarily in the spot and short-term
markets, by partnering with producers across the globe, including in the
Russian
Artic.

The
kingdom has expressed an interest in acquiring a
30 percent stake in Russia’s Novatek Arctic LNG project. Access to the
project’s gas would allow Saudi Arabia to negotiate long-term deals
and/or sell
cargoes on the spot market or increase domestic supply.

Aramco
agreed in May to a buy a 25 percent stake in
Sempra Energy’s Texas liquefied natural gas terminal in one of the
biggest gas deals ever. The deal involves a 20-year agreement under
which Saudi Arabia
would buy 5 million tons of gas annually from Sempra’s Port Arthur
plant, due to begin operations in 2023.

Qatar has partnered with Exxon Mobil Corp. in a $10
billion LNG plant in Texas and has plans to pour a total of US$20 billion into US oil and gas fields.

The Saudi Qatari gas rivalry is also playing out
elsewhere.

An
Aramco delegation visited Pakistan in April to
discuss gas sales as a way of addressing the South Asian country’s
energy shortage as it opens its multiple gas fields to foreign
investors. Qatar responded
by lowering the price of its offering in a move that appeared to give it
an advantage despite the kingdom’s increasingly hefty investment in
Pakistan.

The
prospect that Saudi Arabia and the UAE may only be
willing to seek an end to the Gulf crisis once the kingdom has secured
its position as a major gas exporter would mean that their boycott of
Qatar would
still be in place when the Gulf state hosts the World Cup in 2022.

That,
more than FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s
unsuccessful ploy to persuade Qatar to agree to an expansion of the 2022
tournament from 32 to 48 teams, could prove to be a potential
icebreaker.

The
tournament puts Qatar’s detractors in a bind. It
will be the first time that the world’s foremost mega sporting event is
held in the Arab world, a soccer crazy region and even more poignantly,
in the
boycotting Gulf states’ backyard.

Yet,
the boycott bans nationals of the boycotting
states from travel to Qatar. Even if fans were to defy the boycott, they
would have to go to greater expense and accept more complicated
logistics because of
the rupture in air and land links.

As
a result, boycotting states, in a bid to cater to
domestic demand and stave off potential protests, could be forced to
breach their own embargo and potentially create an opportunity to put an
end to the
boycott.

For now, that may seem a long shot and much can change
in the coming three years. But if the status quo remains unchanged, soccer could emerge as the Gulf’s best hope.

This story was first published by
Global Village Space.

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Michael Novakhov on Twitter from Michael_Novakhov (4 sites): mikenov on Twitter: House Judiciary to hold series of hearings on Mueller report cbsnews.com/news/house-jud… via @CBSPolitics

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House Judiciary to hold series of hearings on Mueller report cbsnews.com/news/house-jud… via @CBSPolitics


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Blogs from Michael_Novakhov (21 sites): Michael Novakhov on Twitter from Michael_Novakhov (4 sites): mikenov on Twitter: House Judiciary to hold series of hearings on Mueller report cbsnews.com/news/house-jud… via @CBSPolitics

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House Judiciary to hold series of hearings on Mueller report cbsnews.com/news/house-jud… via @CBSPolitics


Posted by

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Eurasia Review: Xi’s Visit To Russia: Beginning Of A New Era? – Analysis

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Bilateral relations between China and Russia have been strengthened with President Xi Jinping’s latest state visit to Moscow. However, growing links with China will not change Russia’s entrenched Eurocentric orientation.

By Chris Cheang*

President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Russia predictably focused on raising the level of the bilateral relationship, judging by the contents of the joint press statements of both residents on 5 June 2019. President Xi was also guest of honour at the annual St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on 6-8 June.

The accent on the bilateral relationship was to be expected. Since
Russia’s “pivot” to the East became obvious in the wake of the
annexation of the Crimea in 2014, the strengthening of Russo-Chinese
relations has been Putin’s objective to balance links with the European
Union and the United States and to break-out of the isolation that the
West has been trying to impose on Russia.

Why China Looks to Russia

For China, Russia is important as a source of energy and military
hardware, and a much-needed geopolitical balance to the US. The trade
war with the US might also see China having to look more closely to the
Russian market or to move production facilities to Russia.

In his press statement, President Vladimir Putin stressed the close
political links between the two countries, noting that both sides had
signed the Joint Statement on Developing Comprehensive Partnership and
Strategic Interaction Entering a New Era, which he noted “sets new
ambitious goals and long-term benchmarks for cooperation”.

In turn, President Xi noted that this was his first state visit
during his second term as head of state of China and his eighth visit
toRussia since 2013, while both leaders have met almost 30 times. That
was “the best reflection of the high level of bilateral relations and
close strategic cooperation between China and Russia”.

Trade and Economic Links

China has become Russia’s leading trade partner reaching US$108
billion in 2018, an increase of 25%. To reduce currency fluctuations and
instability (and dependence on the US dollar), both countries plan to
“develop the practice of conducting financial transactions in our
national currencies”. President Putin added that there was “tangible
success” in investment with about 30 projects worth a total of $22
billion underway.

Energy cooperation was encouraging. President Putin noted that Russia
leads in oil distribution to China: last year 67 million tonnes of raw
materials were sent to China. In the gas sector, the Power of Siberia
pipeline to China is expected to enter into service in December 2019. In
May 2014, both sides signed a 30-year $400 billion agreement for 38
billion cubic metres per year.

China’s investment in Russia’s LNG sector was also emphasised. China
owns almost 30 per cent of the Yamal LNG project. In April 2019, two
Chinese state oil companies acquired each a 10% stake in the Arctic LNG 2
project, according to Intellinews report dated 6 June 2019. President
Putin welcomed Chinese cooperation in this project.

Russia is also building nuclear power plants in China. Planned
cooperation in other sectors include projects in aircraft and helicopter
manufacturing, space exploration, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and
other knowledge-intensive industries.

Noteworthy is Huawei’s agreement with MTS, a Russian telecoms
company, to develop a 5G network in Russia. According to Chinese
automaker, Great Wall Motor, its production plant in the Tula region,
with a manufacturing capacity of 80,000 cars a year, rising to 150,000
cars by 2020, is “the largest investment project of the Chinese
manufacturing industry in Russia”, estimated at $500 million. President
Putin mentioned this investment in his press statement, adding that he
and President Xi would visit the plant.

Foreign Policy Issues

Both leaders referred to foreign policy crises in a very pro forma
fashion in their joint press statement. They emphasised both sides’
position that “any attempts to destroy the existing system of agreements
on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation are unacceptable”.

Both countries had “identical assessments” of the situation on the
Korean Peninsula, and would continue working “to reduce tensions there
and enhancing security in Northeast Asia as a whole”. Both sides would
also work for the peaceful settlement of the crisis in Syria, favour
stabilisation in Venezuela, and were committed to the full
implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s
nuclear programme.

Both countries would “continue our efforts to link the EAEU
integration processes with the Chinese Silk Road Economic Belt
Initiative with a view to forming greater Eurasian partnership in the
future”. The Russian-led EAEU concluded an FTA with China in May 2018.

Russia’s Eurocentric Orientation

For several reasons Russia’s growing links with China will not affect its Eurocentric orientation.

First, Russia’s geographical proximity, cultural, ethnic, religious,
language, historical and traditional links with Europe cannot simply be
set aside in favour of China, a totally different civilisation.

Second, as a whole, the EU remains Russia’s main trading partner;
Russia’s trade with the EU in 2018 totalled $292.2 billion or 42.8% of
Russia’s entire turnover; the volume of accumulated investments from the
EU into Russia in the same year amounted to 300 billion euros.

Third, there are strong internal forces which do not appear to be too
enamoured of China. President Putin’s Press Secretary made this point
clear on the eve of President Xi’s visit. In an interview with RT
(Russia Today) Dmitry Peskov emphasised that “China is not our partner
number one yet. Still, the EU countries are number one for us and I
cannot agree with those who say that Russia is turning eastward”.

His subsequent remark was just as telling: “No, I hope Russia will
never turn eastward. The Russian eagle looks to both sides – to the West
and to the East, that’s the nature of every policy of Russia, be it
political and diplomatic or economic activities.” Moreover, in Siberia
and the Russian Far East, there are local political forces which do not
look kindly upon Chinese investment.

Fourth, the current close relationship between Russia and China
appears to be very personality-based, with both presidents leading the
charge. This is not a durable basis for a long-term strategic
relationship between these two countries which have no unifying links
like culture and ethnicity and a history of bad blood in recent history.

Finally, common opposition to the US is also not a strong foundation
for their relationship in the long-term. Putin might lose interest in
China were a new American president to adopt a different policy towards
Russia.

Impact on ASEAN

A strong and close Russo-Chinese relationship would be in ASEAN’s
interest if that were to bring more stability in the Asia-Pacific region
and lead to increased investments and trade to the region from both
great powers.

However, were such a relationship to upset the current balance of
power in the region (between the US and China), ASEAN would not benefit.
That would lead to increased pressure and reduced room for manoeuvre.
But it is still much too early to make an assessment either way.

*Chris Cheang is a Senior Fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. He served as a diplomat in the Singapore Embassy in Moscow between 1994 and 2013.

Eurasia Review


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Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠: House Judiciary Committee invites John Dean for first hearing on Mueller report

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One of the key congressional panels leading the charge with ongoing probes into the Trump administration is set to hold a series of hearings on the findings laid out in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report. The nearly two-year long probe into the president’s ties to Moscow came to an official close last week after Mueller announced his resignation from the Department of Justice and subsequent closure of the special counsel’s office. 

The House Judiciary Committee will hold the hearings beginning next week, Chairman Jerry Nadler announced Monday. The first hearing will feature testimony by John Dean, the former White House counsel whose bombshell testimony during Watergate paved the way for President Nixon’s resignation. 

“These hearings will allow us to examine the findings laid out in Mueller’s report so that we can work to protect the rule of law and protect future elections through consideration of legislative and other remedies,” Nadler said. “Given the threat posed by the President’s alleged misconduct, our first hearing will focus on President Trump’s most overt acts of obstruction. In the coming weeks, other hearings will focus on other important aspects of the Mueller report.”

The hearings come after Mueller, in his first public statement about his Russia probe, explained that his team of investigators did not explicitly exonerate Mr. Trump, and instead offered reasoning why his office never considered indicting him for obstruction of justice.

“As set forth in the report, after the investigation, if we had confidence that the president did not clearly commit a crime, we would have said so,” he said at the Justice Department last week. 

Despite Congress’ multiple appeals to the special counsel to testify in-person on the nearly 400-page long Russia report, Mueller indicated he would prefer not to testify before Congress, as many Democrats had hoped. 

“Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. It contains our findings and analysis, and the reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself,” Mueller said. “The report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.”

The panel has already held two public hearings into the president’s alleged crimes, as well as Democrats’ ongoing concerns over possible abuse of executive authority. Over the course of the panel’s Russia probe, numerous administration officials have successfully dodged congressional subpoenas to appear before the body, claiming executive privilege. 

The first hearing in the series, entitled “Lessons from the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes,” will take place on June 10 and feature testimony from Dean, former U.S. attorneys and legal experts.

Rebecca Kaplan contributed to this report. 

Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠


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Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠: Mystery company off the hook from Mueller subpoena and contempt of court charge

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Michael Novakhov on Twitter from Michael_Novakhov (4 sites): mikenov on Twitter: Mystery company off the hook from Mueller subpoena and contempt of court charge (Google Alert -…) michael_novakhov.newsblur.com/story/mystery-…

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“fbi” – Google News: FBI docs: Study found Clinton email server hacked, info found on Dark Web – Washington Examiner

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FBI docs: Study found Clinton email server hacked, info found on Dark Web  Washington Examiner

Information from Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized, private email server were found on the Dark Web, newly released documents from the FBI show.

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Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠: House Intelligence Committee To Hold Hearing On Mueller Probe

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Chuck Ross | Investigative Reporter

  • Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have scheduled a hearing next Wednesday to explore the counterintelligence implications from the special counsel’s investigation.
  • Democrats are likely to focus on whether contacts between Russians and Trump associates have made the Trump administration vulnerable to the Kremlin.
  • Republicans will also have an opportunity to discuss the partially-debunked Steele dossier.

The House Intelligence Committee will hold a hearing next Wednesday about the “counterintelligence implications” of the special counsel’s investigation.

Two former FBI national security officials, Stephanie Douglas and Robert Anderson, will testify at the hearing, which is entitled “Lessons from the Mueller Report: Counterintelligence Implications of Volume 1.”

Democratic California Rep. Adam Schiff, who chairs the committee, will focus on dozens of contacts between Russian government officials and operatives discussed in the special counsel’s report.

Republicans could use the hearing to raise questions of their own about the partially-discredited Steele dossier, as well as about the role played by Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese professor who had contact with Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.

Schiff, who was a leading proponent of the collusion conspiracy theory, has had to refocus his line of attack on Trump in the wake of the special counsel’s report.

The report said that prosecutors were unable to establish that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election. It also said that investigators did not establish that Trump associates acted as agents of the Russian government.

Schiff has said that the report does not shed light on what information the FBI gathered regarding any Russian attempts to gain leverage over Trump associates.

“The evidence has been both criminal and non-criminal, and implicated deep counterintelligence concerns over the potential compromise of U.S. persons,” he said in a statement announcing the hearing.

Schiff has argued that efforts by Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, to negotiate the building of a Trump Tower in Moscow during the campaign could have allowed the Kremlin to gain leverage over Trump. Schiff has also focused on a June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr. and a group of Russians who offered information about Hillary Clinton.

Republicans have not said what topics they will bring up in Wednesday’s hearing, but the Steele dossier is likely to be a focal point.

As intelligence experts have increasingly noted in the wake of the special counsel’s report, the numerous flaws in the dossier raise questions over whether the document is the product of Russian disinformation. (RELATED: Investigate Steele Dossier As Russian Disinformation, Intel Experts Say)

Attorney General William Barr testified on May 1 that he is “concerned” that Russians planted disinformation with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the dossier.

“Can we state with confidence that the Steele dossier was not part of the Russian disinformation campaign?” Texas Sen. John Cornyn asked Barr during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

“No, I can’t state that with confidence and that is one of the areas that I’m reviewing. I’m concerned about it, and I don’t think it’s entirely speculative,” said Barr.

The special counsel’s report all but debunked the dossier’s central claim that there was a “well-developed conspiracy of coordination” between the Trump campaign and Russian government to influence the 2016 election.

The report also disputed Steele’s claim that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen visited Prague in August 2016 to meet with Kremlin operatives.

GOP members of the committee may also focus on Mifsud, the professor who cozied up to Papadopoulos during the campaign.

Republican California Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member of the committee, asked U.S. intelligence agencies on May 3 for information about Mifsud to find out whether he is considered a Russian asset, or whether he is affiliated with Western intelligence agencies.

According to George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign adviser, Mifsud told him on April 26, 2016 that he had heard that Russia had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands” of her emails.

The special counsel’s report refers to Mifsud as having Russian contacts, but Nunes noted in his letter that he has worked closely in the past with Western intelligence agencies. Mifsud has visited the State Department, and worked at LINK Campus, a university in Rome that has held seminars for the FBI and CIA.

Nunes said in his letter that if Mifsud is a Russian agent, “then an incredibly wide range of Western institutions and individuals may have been compromised by him, including our own State Department.” (RELATED: Nunes Raises Questions About Joseph Mifsud)

But if Mifsud was not working on behalf of Russia, it would “raise questions about the veracity” of the special counsel’s report, Nunes said.

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Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠: Oversight Dems Accuse White House of Interfering ‘Directly and Aggressively’ in Yet Another … | House committee chair: Barr, Ross ‘would rather be held in contempt’ – Yahoo News

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Oversight Dems Accuse White House of Interfering ‘Directly and Aggressively’ in Yet Another …
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by Paul R. Pillar
The selective release of classified information from U.S. intelligence agencies has long been a favorite way for administrations to make a public case amid doubt or controversy. Raw intelligence lends a cachet of seriousness and authenticity even if the intelligence in question did not drive or underlie any presidential decisions. The administration of the day—with the president having the ultimate power to determine what will be declassified and what won’t—can release whatever seems to support its case and withhold whatever tends to refute it. The intelligence agencies, even if they see a different and more complete picture than what is being portrayed publicly, are largely powerless to do anything to counteract such a ploy. For the agencies to make their own release of offsetting classified information would be seen as insubordination and would be contrary to the professional ethics associated with their mission.
Past administrations have used selective release of intelligence to rationalize going to war in Vietnam in the 1960s and in Iraq in 2003. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo clearly was gearing up to repeat one of the ploys used to sell the Iraq War—propounding the notion that the targeted regime was an ally of al-Qaeda—when rebuffing arguments that congressional approval would be required to launch a war against Iran. The notion of being in cahoots with al-Qaeda is just as incorrect when applied to Iran as it was with Iraq. The ploy seems to be shelved for now as President Trump has overruled war-hungry subordinates.
A higher priority for Trump has been to discredit investigations into the Russian interference in the U.S. election that helped to elect him in 2016. “Witch hunt” has been one of the dominant rhetorical themes of Trump’s presidency. The latest significant step in Trump’s campaign of discreditation has been to direct Attorney General William Barr to investigate the investigators and to give Barr unilateral authority to declassify whatever documents he wants from the intelligence agencies.
This particular grant of declassification authority is noteworthy not only because it gives to Barr a function that, if it is to be performed at all, rationally would be part of the job of intelligence agency heads or the director of national intelligence. The move also illustrates Trump’s priorities. Whatever risks involved in releasing what is normally classified information are to be taken not to protect the nation from, in the words of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, “multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election,” a matter that “deserves the attention of every American.” Instead, the risks will be taken to discredit an investigation into that very interference.
In William Barr, Trump has a subordinate evidently fully committed to the discreditation effort. If there were any doubt about Barr’s intentions after his misrepresentation of Mueller’s report and his use of the intentionally derogatory term “spying” to describe an FBI investigation, the doubt should have been removed by his recent interview with CBS, in which he performed a role barely distinguishable from that of Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani.
Nothing has so far emerged publicly to indicate that the FBI investigation in question was anything other than what it should have been: a counterintelligence inquiry into Russian interference in a U.S. election campaign. Nothing has emerged to falsify former FBI Director James Comey’s description of the sequence of events leading to the investigation. What is especially bizarre about the suggestion of a politically motivated “spying” effort against the Trump campaign is that no fruits from the supposed spying were ever used to hurt Trump’s election effort. To the contrary: while the multiple connections between Russia and the Trump campaign that the FBI was investigating were kept tightly under wraps, the only politically significant output from the FBI during the election season was Comey’s eleventh-hour statement about resuming an inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s emails—a move that helped Trump and infuriated Democrats.
Some commentary since Trump’s grant of declassification authority to Barr has focused on the need to protect intelligence sources and methods and on the question of how intelligence chiefs will respond if they are told to release information that might endanger those sources and methods. This ought not to be the main worry. For one thing, there is so far no indication that responsible officials such as Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and CIA Director Gina Haspel have bought into the “witch hunt” notion and every reason to expect that they will do what they can to protect what needs to be protected.
Moreover, Trump’s and Barr’s purposes will not be served by, say, revealing or endangering some Russian source. Although those purposes represent as much of a perversion of the intelligence-policy relationship as does previous cherry-picking to sell a war, this time the selective revelation of intelligence will be different. Rather than having an incentive to reveal juicy reports suggesting that a foreign power was doing something bad, Trump’s and Barr’s objective is to suggest that whatever Russia was doing was not so bad, or at least did not reach so extensively into a U.S. political campaign as to warrant a full investigation.
It is easy to anticipate how the cherry-picking in this instance may work. Internal communications among FBI officers expressing dislike for Trump get released, but documents showing that such opinions had no effect on the performance of official duties do not. Raw intelligence that turns out to be of questionable authenticity gets released, while the full range of leads that justified an investigation—including more solid reporting—does not.
When the administration plays such a game, officials such as Coats and Haspel will have a harder time affecting the game by claiming the need to protect sources and methods. It’s the crummy reporting—the kind that suggests the counterintelligence investigation was poorly grounded—that Trump and Barr are most likely to make public. Whatever better reporting there has been—the kind that would give good insight into what the Russians are up to and where protection of sources is most important—Trump and Barr would not want to release anyway.
The resulting distorted picture given to the public will inaccurately portray why the counterintelligence investigation was initiated and will suggest to the public that, with weak grounds for such an investigation, it must have been politically motivated. Any corrective to this process lies with the intelligence oversight committees in Congress. Fortunately, some members of those committees have anticipated the game and called on the intelligence community to keep them well enough informed to be able to monitor the investigation of the investigation.
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M.N.: Congratulations, My Dear America! The Obama’s Dream for something now re-e-e-ahh!!!-lly came to its the Shining Truth: You are now one of the Thirld World countries, on the par with “sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia”, or so you are treated by the famed Israeli Social Media Manipulation firms, who were quite successful using their absolutely the same algorithms, knowledge base, analysis, strategy, and tactics. Voters Of The World, Unite under the Wise Historical Guidance Of the Israeli “private spying and who knows what else firms”! They are the true geniuses, those Israeli guys from the “Archimedes Group”: they really figured it all out. Mazel tov! | The Trump Investigations Report – Review Of News And Opinions
Day: June 7, 2019 M.N.: Congratulations, My Dear America!
Who is behind Israel’s Archimedes Group, banned by Facebook for election fakery? | The Times of Israel
Israel’s interference in 2016 US election to be probed by Senators – Middle East Monitor
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Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠: Who is behind Israel’s Archimedes Group, banned by Facebook for election fakery? | The Times of Israel

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The Archimedes Group website's homepage, prior to May 16

The Archimedes Group website’s homepage, prior to May 16

On May 16, social media giant Facebook announced that it had removed 265 Facebook and Instagram accounts, pages, groups and events linked to the Archimedes Group, a Tel Aviv-based firm, and that it was banning Archimedes from its platform. It said the company, which boasted on its website that it could “change reality according to our client’s wishes,” was involved in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” targeting users in countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia in an apparent effort to influence political discourse in these regions.

Among the countries allegedly targeted by Archimedes were Malaysia, Congo, Tunisia and Togo. A report from the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab also found that Archimedes stumped for the winning candidate in February’s Nigerian presidential elections, incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari. One of the pages that Facebook took down appeared filled with viral misinformation attacking Atiku Abubakar, the former vice president and Buhari’s main rival. The page’s banner image showed Abubakar as Darth Vader, the Star Wars villain, holding up a sign reading, “Make Nigeria Worse Again.”

Facebook banned Archimedes for its “coordinated and deceptive behavior” and conducted a sweeping takedown of accounts and pages primarily aimed at disrupting elections in African countries. Overall, the misleading accounts had reached some 2.8 million users, and the pages had engaged over 5,000 followers, according to Facebook’s estimates. Facebook said Archimedes had spent some $800,000 on fake ads and that its deceptive activity dated back to 2012.

While news outlets all over the world have speculated about the Archimedes Group, who is behind it, and its motives, publicly available data sheds some light on these questions.

The Archimedes Group’s website

Until May 16, when Facebook outed Archimedes, the company’s own website, selling its services, declared that it had taken “significant roles in many political campaigns, among them presidential campaigns and other social media projects all over the world” and that it utilizes “every advantage available in order to change reality according to our client’s wishes.”

The website did not give the name of any individuals associated with the company, but did feature an address: 98 Yigal Alon St in Tel Aviv, the site of the well-known 45-story Electra Tower.

Once Facebook went public, however, Archimedes radically changed its website — ar-gr.com — which at time of writing only features a home page with no further content whatsoever.

The site was registered on January 26, 2016, by someone using the address harel.eldan@g-c.co.il. The domain g-c.co.il belongs to Adler Chomski Communication Marketing Ltd, one of Israel’s largest advertising firms, and the individual who registered the site, Harel Eldan, is listed in the directory of the Association of Israeli Advertising Agencies. Eldan is also the contact person for an advertising company known as “Grey Content Ltd,” which is a subsidiary of Adler Chomski Communications. Grey Content used to be located at Yigal Alon 98, the address that was until recently specified on Archimedes Group’s website as its location. (Grey Content has since moved to Menachem Begin 148.)

When The Times of Israel called Grey Content Ltd, Harel Eldan herself answered the phone. She said she is the office manager at Grey Content, and that she had been asked as part of her duties to acquire the ar-gr.com domain name back in 2016, but insisted that she did not know anything further about Archimedes Group.

The Times of Israel later spoke to Rami Rushkeviz, CEO of Grey Content, who said that Grey Content Ltd. has absolutely nothing to do with Archimedes Group and that his company simply provided site registration services for a man named Elinadav Heymann.

“I think their offices are in Modi’in somewhere,” he said. “We also helped him create a business card and slide deck. We provide these services to hundreds of companies a year.”

Harel Eldan, office manager at Grey Content Ltd., registered the website for Archimedes Group (Facebook)

Grey Content Ltd. has been the subject of controversy in Israel in recent years, although the company itself has not been accused of wrongdoing.

In February 2018, the advertising industry news site ice.co.il pointed out that Grey Content had received a third of the government’s entire television advertising budget in 2016 — twice as much money as its next most-hired competitor — and had received a total of NIS 31.1 million (some $8.7 million) of taxpayer money in 2016 and the first half of 2017, without any tender being issued.

Grey Content also featured in a November 2017 criminal indictment in the Yisrael Beytenu scandal, a series of prosecutions against politicians and senior advisers from Avigdor Liberman’s party for allegedly taking bribes in exchange for directing government money toward certain entities. (Liberman was not a suspect in the affair.)

Grey Content is not accused of any wrongdoing in the case; Moshe has been charged with bribery. Keidar and Moshe deny the allegations. The case is ongoing.

The Archimedes Group’s CEO?

Elsewhere online, the website Negotiations.ch, which calls itself “your experts for difficult negotiations,” until recently identified Elinadav Heymann as the CEO of Archimedes Group, presenting Heymann as one of its experts. It said he was previously director of the European Friends of Israel in Brussels. (A short video of Heymann, identified in that job, appears online here.) Prior to that, he was a spokesman and adviser in the Knesset, and before that a “Senior Intelligence Agent” for the Israeli air force, Negotiations.ch said.

As of this writing, the entry for Heymann was no longer available on the Negotiations.ch website.

Listing for Elinadav Heymann on the website Negotiations.ch

The Times of Israel called, texted and emailed Heymann but did not hear back from him prior to publication.

Elinadav Heymann (YouTube screenshot)

Harel Eldan told The Times of Israel she had never heard of Elinadav Heymann and she was not aware of anyone with that name working for Grey Content.

Rami Rushkeviz. the CEO of Grey Content. confirmed to the Times of Israel that Elinadav Heymann was his company’s contact person for the Archimedes Group but said he has had nothing to do with Heymann since his company registered the website and provided initial branding services to Archimedes Group.

The European Friends of Israel, Heymann’s previous employer, lobbies the European Parliament on behalf of Israel-related causes. It is not affiliated with the Israeli government and its sources of funding are difficult to determine, but two Jewish charities, the Matanel Foundation and the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, have mentioned in reports and on websites affiliated with them that they provided funding the group.

AP contributed to this report.

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