Kushner’s desire for a back channel to Russia seems to have led him to lie on his application for a security clearance

Ryan Koronowski writes: When he applied for his top-secret security clearance for his White House job, Kushner was required to disclose all meetings with foreign government officials over the previous seven years but omitted dozens of contacts — including this meeting [with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December at Trump Tower].

When questioned about it, his lawyers called it an error.

A top presidential aide simply forgetting a meeting such as this strains the bounds of credulity. As Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) noted, Kushner did not just omit the meeting once on his SF86 security clearance form. He also failed to include it again on his revised form, which Lieu argued would be two separate federal crimes. In a tweet, Lieu showed the certification that everyone must sign to get clearance, acknowledging the consequences that willful false statements can bring, including jail time.


Rep. Lieu called for Kushner to resign if the story is true, and said he should be prosecuted for lying on his security clearance form. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said Kushner’s clearance “must be revoked until we get to the bottom of this.”

Knowingly falsifying or concealing information on these forms can carry up to five years of jail time.

Malcolm Nance, a career counterintelligence officer, said on MSNBC Friday night that this kind of activity is indicative of espionage. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

The FBI hasn’t contacted Kushner, yet — which is why he should be worried even more

Ryan Lizza writes: The Senate Intelligence Committee announced that it wanted to interview Kushner about his contacts with Kislyak and Gorkov. (Kushner has agreed to testify, and, unlike Flynn, he has not announced that he will assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.) In the House, several Democrats sent a letter to the Trump Administration asking that Kushner be stripped of his top-secret security clearance. “Knowingly falsifying or concealing information on a SF-86 questionnaire is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison,” the letter said.

Given these previous reports, yesterday’s news that the F.B.I. is interested in Kushner is not surprising. “Mr. Kushner previously volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings,” Kushner’s lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, said in a statement. “He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry.”

The second half of the statement suggests that Kushner has not yet been contacted by the F.B.I., a fact confirmed to me by the White House. Defenders of Kushner seized upon this detail as somehow exculpatory, noting that Flynn had been interviewed by the F.B.I. in January. But this might not mean much. In fact, it could actually be a bad sign. “The fact that Kushner hasn’t been contacted now, let’s assume it’s true,” the source close to Comey said. “It’s either meaningless with respect to culpability or, pointing to the riskier side, the more likely that he’s implicated, because the people you’re really suspicious of you don’t really interview until later.” [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Why would Jared Kushner trust Russian officials more than the U.S. government?

Adam Serwer writes: Why did Jared Kushner seemingly trust Russian officials more than he trusted the U.S. government?

Friday evening, The Washington Post broke the story that, according to an intercepted report by the Russian ambassador in Washington to his superiors in Moscow, Kushner sought to use secure communications facilities at the Russian Embassy to correspond directly with Russian officials. The Russian ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, reported that the proposal was made in December, after Trump won the election but before he had taken office. The conversations reportedly involved Michael Flynn, the former Trump national-security adviser who was fired after it was revealed that he lied to administration officials about the content of his conversations with Russian officials.

Although Kushner never used those facilities, former national-security officials said that for officials with access to classified information, entering foreign embassies is considered a security risk. The White House has not commented directly on the report. Kushner’s attorney, Jamie Gorelick, a former Justice Department official with extensive national-security experience, has neither confirmed nor denied the report, but she has emphasized Kushner’s willingness to cooperate with ongoing investigations into the Trump team’s contacts with the Russians. If Kushner did in fact make the request, that alone would have put him in a compromising position, since Russian officials could have used it as leverage against him.

But what is also peculiar is the level of trust Kushner would have been placing in Russian officials in asking for such a communications channel. Foreign affairs is often complex, yet Kushner didn’t want the U.S. government’s help—or supervision.

“What is unusual and borderline disturbing about this is less that it cut out the State Department or cut out the intelligence community; I think there is a precedent for both of those things in back-channels,” said Jon Finer, former State Department chief of staff under John Kerry. “It shows a level of trust in Russian intelligence, and Russian diplomatic personnel beyond the level of trust afforded to American intelligence and American personnel.”

The White House has obliquely defended Kushner’s actions while refusing to comment on them specifically. “We have back-channel communications with a number of countries. So, generally speaking, about back-channel communications, what that allows you to do is to communicate in a discreet manner,” National-Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters on Saturday. Asked whether it would be cause for concern if a National Security Council staffer used such a back-channel to Moscow, he said: “No, I would not be concerned about it.”

“What puts this in an entirely different category is that this is a transition; they weren’t in the government yet,” said Paul Pillar, a former analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency. “That’s really a departure. It’s normal for an incoming administration to have contacts with foreign leaders, but I can’t think of a precedent for this kind of thing.”

And former national-security officials noted that while back-channel communications are often compartmentalized—meaning they can only be viewed by a select number of officials—they usually have some level of involvement from national-security officials. Communicating with Moscow using Russian facilities could have shielded Kushner’s correspondence from U.S. intelligence agencies, without denying their Russian counterparts the same access.

“The only reason you would operate that way is if you were hiding something from your own government. That’s it. That’s the only plausible explanation,” said Nada Bakos, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and a former CIA analyst. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Aleppo after the fall

Robert F Worth writes: One morning in mid-December, a group of soldiers banged on the door of a house in eastern Aleppo. A male voice responded from inside: “Who are you?” A soldier answered: “We’re the Syrian Arab Army. It’s O.K., you can come out. They’re all gone.”

The door opened. A middle-aged man appeared. He had a gaunt, distinguished face, but his clothes were threadbare and his teeth looked brown and rotted. At the soldiers’ encouragement, he stepped hesitantly forward into the street. He explained to them, a little apologetically, that he had not crossed his threshold in four and a half years.

The man gazed around for a moment as if baffled, his eyes filling with tears. The regime of President Bashar al-Assad had just recaptured the city after years of bombing and urban warfare that had made Aleppo a global byword for savagery. This frail-looking man had survived at the war’s geographic center entirely alone, an urban Robinson Crusoe, living on stocks of dry food and whatever he could grow in his small inner courtyard. Now, as he stumbled through an alley full of twisted metal and rubble, he saw for the first time that the front lines, marked by a wall of sandbags, were barely 20 yards from his house.

Three months later, in March, he sat with me under the tall, spindly orange tree in his courtyard and described how he barricaded himself in when the fighting started. He goes by the name Abu Sami, and he has the mild, patient manners of a scholar; he taught at Aleppo University before the war. In the early days of the rebel takeover, he said, his nephews used to drop by with fresh bread and meat. But starting in 2013, the shelling grew worse, and he would go six months or more without seeing another human face. There was no water, no electric light; he gathered rainwater in buckets and boiled it and used a small solar panel to charge his phone. He made vinegar from grapes he grew in the courtyard. He treated his illnesses with aloe and other herbs he grew in pots. Once, when a rotten tooth became too painful, he yanked it out with pliers. He cowered by his bed when bombs shook the house to its foundation.

Most of all, he sustained himself by reading. He carried out a stack of books from his bedroom to show me: treatises by Sigmund Freud, novels by Henry Miller, histories of science and psychology and religion and mythology and cooking, a book on radical theater by the American drama critic Robert Brustein. Some were in Russian, a language he learned as a young man. “I read these things so I wouldn’t have to think about politics or current events,” he said. He read plays — Shakespeare and Molière were favorites — and in his solitude, he found that he was able to see the entire drama acted out in his mind, as if it were onstage.

He led me upstairs to see his dusty study, where the walls and ceiling were shredded with dozens of small shrapnel holes that let in fingers of sunlight. He picked up a bomb fragment, rolled it in his palm and laughed. He pointed to the house next door, where his neighbor, a quiet man who kept pigeons on the roof, had lived until a group of rebels arrived, shouting, and dragged him from the door. They brought back his corpse half an hour later.

I asked Abu Sami why he never left. He gave the same answer that so many others gave me: because it was his house. And because day after day, year after year, he kept thinking, Surely this war is about to end. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

When the feds come knocking on Kushner’s door …

Timothy L. O’Brien writes: Jared Kushner, according to reporting on Thursday from NBC and the Washington Post, is now front-and-center in the FBI’s investigation of Russia’s intersection with the Trump presidential campaign and, apparently, the Trump White House.

There are some unanswered questions here: NBC noted that Kushner is being treated differently from Trump campaign aides, such as Paul Manafort, and former White House officials, such as Michael Flynn. Grand juries have subpoenaed records from both of those men, and it’s not clear if subpoenas have landed on Kushner’s doorstep.

But the Washington Post also reported — and this seems central and crucial as to why the president’s son-in-law is a different sort of target here — that the FBI is focusing on a series of conversations that Kushner had in December with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.

At the time, Kushner had already spent months trying to arrange fresh financing for a troubled building his family owns, 666 Fifth Avenue. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Why Trump is a salesman with autocrats and a slumlord with allies

Jeet Heer writes: Since becoming president, Donald Trump has repeatedly refused to explicitly endorse Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which requires member nations to come to each other’s military aid. But that was supposed to change on Thursday, with a speech at the NATO headquarters in Brussels. The New York Times reported Wednesday that “Trump is expected to publicly endorse NATO’s mutual defense commitment at a ceremony on Thursday at the alliance’s headquarters, an administration official said, breaking months of silence about whether the United States would automatically come to the aid of an ally under attack.”

Well, either the administration official lied or Trump changed his mind. Because Trump, who has been berating and disappointing America’s allies for many months now, did so yet again on Thursday.

As he has done repeatedly since inauguration, Trump didn’t explicitly endorse the NATO pledge in his speech. (He did say, “We will never forsake the friends who stood by our side” after the 9/11 attacks, the only time the Article 5 commitment has been invoked. Some consider that clear enough.) Instead, he made his familiar complaint that many NATO members are free riders who take advantage of American taxpayers. “We have to make up for the many years lost” due to “chronic underpayments,” he said. “If NATO countries made their full and complete contributions, then NATO would be even stronger than it is today.” He also implied that the alliance was living high on the hog. “I never asked once what the new NATO headquarters cost,” he said. “I refuse to do that. But it is beautiful.” His snide remark ruffled other leaders. “Standing off to the side of Trump’s podium, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel stifled laughter,” the Independent Journal Review reported, “and Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel raised his eyebrows and turned his head to the side. Several other heads of state clustered around them cringed.”

Trump treated the NATO leaders like a slumlord who, to justify raising the rent, points to his tenants’ lavish spending habits. Which is fitting, given Trump’s business background. In 1985, the Times described the young Trump as having a dual existence as “doer and slumlord both”: “If he isn’t building a skyscraper castle or a football team, he is trying to harass some tenants out of one of his properties.” (Trump’s son-in-law and close adviser, Jared Kushner, is challenging him for the mantle of the worst slumlord in the White House.) But Trump was also a real estate and brand-licensing tycoon. So he is a salesman and slumlord both: When he wants to close a deal, he’ll lay on the charm and say anything to achieve his ends. When he wants collect payments, he turns blustery and nasty, hoping to shame his mark into paying. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Trump’s Article 5 omission was an attack against all of NATO

Julie Smith writes: When President Trump spoke to NATO members for the first time on Thursday he failed to say the one thing Europeans were waiting to hear. He never mentioned America’s unwavering commitment to Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, which states that an attack on one is an attack on all. Twitter erupted in a storm of outrage and, for at least a few hours, #NATO was trending. Sean Spicer, responding to the criticism, stressed that even though the president didn’t say it outright, he is “fully committed” to NATO and Article 5.

Spicer’s logic? Trump’s mere presence at the dedication ceremony at the new NATO HQ was evidence enough. For folks that don’t track NATO issues on a day-to-day basis (and that’s most people), the president’s omission may not seem like a big deal. But Trump’s refusal to repeat what so many members of his own Cabinet have already stated — including his vice president — was a significant blow to the transatlantic relationship and could have lasting consequences.

Why were Europeans so eager to hear Trump utter the words “Article 5”? It was just last summer when Trump, in an interview with the New York Times, alluded to the fact that the United States could make its commitment to Article 5 conditional on whether the country in question was spending enough on defense. That sent a shiver down the spines of many NATO allies as they imagined calling Washington in a crisis — only to be asked first asked whether they had met the 2 percent target. (For many, the answer would be no.) Throughout the campaign, Trump also called the alliance “obsolete” (before he said it was “no longer” obsolete) and has repeatedly claimed — falsely — that NATO allies owe the United States vast sums of money. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Jared Kushner is a lot tougher than he looks

Politico reports: He was supposed to be the calm one, cool and unflappable under his Ray-Bans and beltless blue bespoke suits. If Steve Bannon was the Rumpelstiltskin of the administration, donning multiple half-tucked dress shirts at a time and always carrying a clutch of briefing papers and barreling through the administrative state, Jared Kushner, through pedigree and temperament, could reach out one of his long, elegant fingers and tap everyone in the West Wing on the shoulder and urge them to just cool out a bit. In a White House sullied by ties to Russia and all sorts of unsavory characters from the fringe, Kushner was set to float above, surrounding himself with fellow figures from the elite worlds of Manhattan finance and real estate and deep-sixing the harder-edged ideas of the White House’s “nationalist” wing.

Except that isn’t quite how it has gone in the White House over the past several months. It was Kushner who reportedly pushed for the firing of FBI Director James Comey over the objections of Bannon. And it was Kushner who was the lone voice urging for a counterattack after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the appointment of a special prosecutor, according to the New York Times. And it is now Kushner whose family’s business activities leave him open to the same level of conflict-of-interest charges that have dogged his wife and father-in-law, and Kushner who appears to be as closely tied to the Russian government as anyone serving in the White House: NBC News and the Washington Post reported Thursday that the FBI is taking a close look at his contacts with the Russians.

What happened to America’s princeling? Is he hearing footsteps from Bannon and the other anti-globalists in the White House’s great and daily game of dominance? Is he trying to play to the instincts of his audience of one, President Donald Trump? The widespread assumption liberals make about Kushner seems to be this: Because he is soft-spoken, slim and handsome, with degrees from Harvard and NYU and a family that donates to Democrats, he couldn’t possibly be the same guy knifing his West Wing rivals and urging the president to go to war with the Justice Department and the FBI.

But that assumption is wrong. Kushner and his representatives did not respond to requests for comment for this story. But those who know him from his days as a young New York real estate magnate and newspaper publisher say America is just getting to know the Jared Kushner they have always known, that beneath the unflappable golden exterior is someone unafraid to bungee jump or to counterpunch when he feels slighted.

“Polite elegance,” said his friend Strauss Zelnick, an entertainment mogul and founder of the private equity firm Zelnick Media Capital, when asked to describe Kushner’s modus operandi. But, Zelnick added, “He’s tough. In an exceedingly polite way, he is as tough as anyone is in New York City real estate.” [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Jared Kushner’s other real estate empire

Alec MacGillis writes: he townhouse on High Seas Court in the Cove Village development, in the Baltimore suburb of Essex, was not exactly the Cape Cod retreat that its address implied: It was a small unit looking onto a parking lot, the windows of its two bedrooms so high and narrow that a child would have had to stand on a chair to see out of them. But to Kamiia Warren, who moved into the townhouse in 2004, it was a refuge, and a far cry from the East Baltimore neighborhood where she grew up. “I mean, there were bunny rabbits all hopping around,” she told me recently.

In the townhouse next door lived an older woman with whom Warren became friendly, even doing her grocery shopping once in a while. But over the course of a few months, the woman started acting strangely. She began accosting Warren’s visitors. She shouted through the walls during the day. And at night she banged on the wall, right where Warren kept the bassinet in which her third child slept, waking him up.

Warren sent a letter reporting the problem to the complex’s property manager, a company called Sawyer Realty Holdings. When there was no response, she decided to move out. In January 2010, she submitted the requisite form giving two months’ notice that she was transferring her Section 8 voucher — the federal low-income subsidy that helped her pay the rent — elsewhere. The complex’s on-site manager signed the form a week later, checking the line that read “The tenant gave notice in accordance with the lease.”

So Warren was startled in January 2013, three years later, when she received a summons from a private process server informing her that she was being sued for $3,014.08 by the owner of Cove Village. The lawsuit, filed in Maryland District Court, was doubly bewildering. It claimed she owed the money for having left in advance of her lease’s expiration, though she had received written permission to leave. And the company suing her was not Sawyer, but one whose name she didn’t recognize: JK2 Westminster L.L.C.

Warren was raising three children alone while taking classes for a bachelor’s degree in health care administration, and she disregarded the summons at first. But JK2 Westminster’s lawyers persisted; two more summonses followed. In April 2014, she appeared without a lawyer at a district-court hearing. She told the judge about the approval for her move, but she did not have a copy of the form the manager had signed. The judge ruled against Warren, awarding JK2 Westminster the full sum it was seeking, plus court costs, attorney’s fees and interest that brought the judgment to nearly $5,000. There was no way Warren, who was working as a home health aide, was going to be able to pay such a sum. “I was so desperate,” she said.

If the case was confounding to Warren, it was not unique. Hundreds like it have been filed over the last five years by JK2 Westminster and affiliated businesses in the state of Maryland alone, where the company owns some 8,000 apartments and townhouses. Nor was JK2 Westminster quite as anonymous as its opaque name suggested. It was a subsidiary of a large New York real estate firm called Kushner Companies, which was led by a young man whose initials happened to be J.K.: Jared Kushner. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Coptic Christians: ISIS’s ‘favorite prey’

Samuel Tadros writes: “At this rate Copts will be extinct in 100 years. They will die, leave, convert or get killed,” a friend wrote on Facebook as news broke of the latest bloody attack on Egypt’s Coptic Christians. Less than two months ago, while attending church in Cairo on Palm Sunday, my friend told me she’d mused to herself that it was a blessing her daughter wasn’t with her: If there was a bombing, at least her child would survive. Forty-five Copts were murdered that day by the Islamic State in churches in Alexandria and Tanta. Such are the thoughts of Coptic parents in Egypt these days.

The terrorists chose today’s target well. The Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor, which I visited a decade ago, is very hard to reach. One hundred and ten miles on the Cairo Luxor desert road, you make a right-hand turn and for the next 17 miles drive on an unpaved road. The single lane forces cars to drive slowly, and, as the only route leading to the monastery, the victims were guaranteed to be Copts. Friday is a day off in Egypt, and church groups regularly take trips there. Outside of a few policemen stationed out front, there is little security presence.

The terrorists waited on the road like game hunters. Coming their way were three buses, one with Sunday school children. Only three of them survived. Their victims were asked to recite the Islamic declaration of faith before being shot.

In the past few months, the Islamic State has made its intentions toward Copts well known. “Our favorite prey” they called my co-religionists in a February video. Their barbaric attacks have left more than 100 Copts dead in the last few months alone. The Northern Sinai is now “Christianfrei,” or free of Christians. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

The lived reality of gender apartheid in Saudi Arabia

Mona Eltahawy writes: Just over a week after Dina Ali Lasloom, a 24-year-old Saudi Arabian, was dragged onto a plane from Manila to Riyadh with her mouth taped shut and her arms and legs bound, the United Nations voted to appoint Saudi Arabia to a four-year term on its Commission on the Status of Women. So much for the status of this Saudi woman.

On April 10, the authorities at the Manila airport — her stopover in the Philippines between Kuwait, from where she’d escaped a forced marriage, and Australia, where she’d planned on applying for asylum — confiscated Ms. Lasloom’s passport and boarding pass to Sydney and held her at an airport hotel until her uncles arrived. When they did, they beat her and forcibly repatriated her.

Saudi feminists believe Ms. Lasloom is being held at a women’s prison. She certainly was not present when Ivanka Trump told a group of Saudi women she met on Sunday that Saudi Arabia has made “encouraging” progress in empowering women. The round table discussion was led by Princess Reema Bint Bandar al-Saud, the vice president of Women’s Affairs at the General Sports Authority, a largely moot title in a country where girls and women are not allowed to participate in sports.

In response, a Saudi woman called Ghada tweeted: “Ivanka Trump only met and saw some of chosen puppets who are from the royal or high class, and they don’t represent the majority of us!”

Saudi women must be accustomed to seeing women who are protected by wealth and proximity to power exercise rights that the majority of them are denied. Such is the bargain: Ms. Trump’s father, President Donald Trump, sealed a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia during his visit to Riyadh. Meanwhile, the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates pledged to donate $100 million to a women’s fund proposed by Ms. Trump. During the election campaign, her father criticized the Clinton Foundation for accepting money from precisely those two countries, which he said “want women as slaves and to kill gays.” [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Trump lectures democrats while embracing autocrats

An editorial in the New York Times says: What possesses him to treat America’s allies so badly? The NATO nations are mostly democracies with vibrant free markets that have helped America keep enemies at bay, including in Afghanistan. The question is made all the more pressing in view of Mr. Trump’s enthusiastic embrace of countless autocrats, among them Vladimir Putin of Russia and King Salman of Saudi Arabia, where he just paid a deferential visit and assured Sunni Arab leaders that “we are not here to lecture” despite their abominable records on human rights.

This perplexing dichotomy has been vividly captured in video and photographs — Mr. Trump laughing comfortably with Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador to Washington during a recent Oval Office meeting, while refusing to shake the hand of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany when she came to town. There was more of the same in Brussels, with Mr. Trump shoving aside the prime minister of Montenegro, which recently defied Russia to join NATO, on his way to a front row spot for a photograph. [Continue reading…]

The evidence is overwhelming and not hard to decipher: Donald Trump despises the notion of human equality. His unshakeable focus is on domination. The only people he admires are those who demonstrate their ability to impose their will on others. And the only appropriate way of dealing with Trump is by standing up to him.

Emmanuel Macron showed a fine example to other world leaders on how they should now engage with the thug in the White House: greet him with a knuckle-crunching handshake and make the little-handed orange man wince.

There is no chance of appealing to Trump’s better nature — the civil inner statesman is non-existent.

Facebooktwittermail

The conservative mind has become diseased

Michael Gerson, former speechwriter for George W Bush, writes: To many observers on the left, the initial embrace of Seth Rich conspiracy theories by conservative media figures was merely a confirmation of the right’s deformed soul. But for those of us who remember that Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity were once relatively mainstream Reaganites, their extended vacation in the fever swamps is even more disturbing. If once you knew better, the indictment is deeper.

The cruel exploitation of the memory of Rich, a Democratic National Committee staffer who was shot dead last summer, was horrifying and clarifying. The Hannity right, without evidence, accused Rich rather than the Russians of leaking damaging DNC emails. In doing so, it has proved its willingness to credit anything — no matter how obviously deceptive or toxic — to defend President Trump and harm his opponents. Even if it means becoming a megaphone for Russian influence. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Russian hackers are using ‘tainted’ leaks to sow disinformation

Andy Greenberg writes: Over the past year, the Kremlin’s strategy of weaponizing leaks to meddle with democracies around the world has become increasingly clear, first in the US and more recently in France. But a new report by a group of security researchers digs into another layer of those so-called influence operations: how Russian hackers alter documents within those releases of hacked material, planting disinformation alongside legitimate leaks.

A new report from researchers at the Citizen Lab group at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Public Affairs documents a wide-ranging hacking campaign, with ties to known Russian hacker groups. The effort targeted more than 200 individuals, ranging from Russian media to a former Russian prime minister to Russian opposition groups, and assorted government and military personnel from Ukraine to Vietnam. Noteworthy among the leaks: A Russia-focused journalist and author whose emails were not only stolen but altered before their release. Once they appeared on a Russian hactivist site, Russian state media used the disinformation to concoct a CIA conspiracy.

The case could provide the clearest evidence yet that Russian hackers have evolved their tactics from merely releasing embarrassing true information to planting false leaks among those facts. “Russia has a long history of experience with disinformation,” says Ron Deibert, the political science professor who led Citizen Lab’s research into the newly uncovered hacking spree. “This is the first case of which I am aware that compares tainted documents to originals associated with a cyber espionage campaign.” [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Jupiter is much stranger than scientists thought

The Atlantic reports: About every eight weeks, hundreds of millions of miles away, a basketball court-sized spacecraft named Juno swoops toward Jupiter. For a few hours, Juno loops around the planet’s poles at high speed, sometimes getting within 2,100 miles of its atmosphere. It surveys Jupiter’s swirling, opaque cloud tops, and then gets flung out to the other edge of its orbit, beyond Callisto, the planet’s cratered moon.

Jupiter is surrounded by a massive magnetic field that produces belts of radiation capable of frying Juno if it wasn’t wearing 400 pounds of protective titanium. The poles are a haven from the strongest radiation, and it’s there that Juno can aim its various scientific instruments at Jupiter’s cloud cover and collect data.

These flybys, which began when Juno entered Jupiter’s orbit last summer, have produced some stunning photographs of the gas giant’s polar regions, unlike the typical views published in textbooks over the years. They have also provided plenty of useful observations for scientists around the world, the first of which were published Thursday, in multiple studies in the journals Science and Geophysical Research Letters.

At Jupiter’s poles, Juno has observed oval-shaped features, powerful cyclones which measure up to nearly 900 miles wide, according to one of the studies in Science. The finding isn’t surprising, given how good Jupiter is at producing storms. The planet is home to winds blowing at several hundred miles per hour, and storms the size of Earth. But scientists hadn’t observed storms like this at Jupiter’s poles until Juno showed up. They were surprised by the number of cyclonic storms they observed, as well as the differences in the weather patterns on the south and north poles. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

‘Dirty Irish bastards’: Irish in Manchester remember hostility after IRA bombing

TheJournal.ie reports: “Dirty Irish bastards.” It was just over two decades ago that Brian Kennedy was listening to this abuse on the other end of a phone line at the Irish World Heritage Centre in Manchester. The threats and the slurs have stuck in his memory.

The hostile phone calls followed an IRA bombing in June 1996 that injured more than 200 people and destroyed a large chunk of the city.

Although the Irish in Manchester have come a long way since then, they feel a resonance with the Muslim community this week following the bombing at the Manchester Arena.

They know what it is like to lower their voices in public to hide an accent. They know what it is like to suddenly feel tension in a place they call home.

They know being Muslim does not automatically mean you are a terrorist, just like being Irish did not mean they supported the devastation caused by the IRA more than 20 years ago. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail