Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

How Cyberwarfare Makes Cold Wars Hotter

July 23, 2017

In the war taking place across the global internet, everyone is a combatant—and a target

Employees at the Korea Internet and Security Agency in Seoul monitor for possible ransomware cyberattacks on May 15, in the aftermath of the WannaCry attack.
Employees at the Korea Internet and Security Agency in Seoul monitor for possible ransomware cyberattacks on May 15, in the aftermath of the WannaCry attack. PHOTO: YUN DONG-JIN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

This is already a banner year for hacks, breaches and cyberwarfare, but the past week was exceptional.

South Carolina reported hackers attempted to access the state’s voter registration system 150,000 times on Election Day last November—part of what former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson alleges is a 21-state attack perpetrated by Russia. And U.S. intelligence officials alleged that agents working for the United Arab Emirates planted false information in Qatari news outlets and social media, leading to sanctions and a rift with Qatar’s allies. Meanwhile, Lloyd’s of London declared that the takedown of a major cloud service could lead to monetary damages on par with those of Hurricane Katrina.

Threats to the real world from the cyberworld are worse than ever, and the situation continues to deteriorate. A new kind of war is upon us, one characterized by coercion rather than the use of force, says former State Department official James Lewis, a cybersecurity specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Businesses and individuals now are directly affected in ways that were impossible in the first Cold War. In another age, the threat of nuclear annihilation loomed over everyone’s heads, but the cloak-and-dagger doings of global powers remained distinct from the day-to-day operations of businesses. Now, they are hopelessly entangled. The often-unfathomable priorities of terrorists, cybercriminals and state-affiliated hackers only makes things worse.

President Donald Trump spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7. Mr. Trump said they discussed cooperation on a cybersecurity unit.
President Donald Trump spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7. Mr. Trump said they discussed cooperation on a cybersecurity unit. PHOTO: EVAN VUCCI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The current climate of cyberattacks is “crazy,” says Christopher Ahlberg of Recorded Future, a private intelligence firm that specializes in cyberthreats. “It’s like a science fiction book. If you told anybody 10 years ago about what’s going on now, they wouldn’t believe it.”

In the first Cold War, the U.S., China and the Soviet Union fought proxy wars rather than confront one another directly. In Cold War 2.0, we still have those—Syria and whatever is brewing in North Korea come to mind—but much of the proxy fighting now happens online.

The result is significant collateral damage for businesses that aren’t even a party to the conflicts, says Corey Thomas, chief executive of cybersecurity firm Rapid 7. Recent ransomware attacks that some analysts attribute to Russia may have been aimed at Ukraine but resulted in the shutdown of computer systems at businesses and governments around the world. Russia has denied involvement in these attacks. Botnets made of internet-connected devices, stitched together by an unknown hacker for unknown reasons, caused countless internet services and websites to become unavailable in October 2016.

A recent ransomware attack that some analysts attribute to Russia and that may have been aimed at Ukraine resulted in computer-system shutdowns at businesses around the world. Russia has denied involvement in the attack. Shown, an infected laptop displays a ransomware message on June 27.
A recent ransomware attack that some analysts attribute to Russia and that may have been aimed at Ukraine resulted in computer-system shutdowns at businesses around the world. Russia has denied involvement in the attack. Shown, an infected laptop displays a ransomware message on June 27. PHOTO: ROB ENGELAAR/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

The U.S. has, notably, contributed to the situation. The Stuxnet computer worm, in development by what analysts believe was a joint U.S. and Israeli team since at least 2005, physically damaged Iran’s nuclear enrichment plant in 2009. Stuxnet was discovered a year later. In 2012, U.S. Air Force General Michael Hayden lamented that its use had legitimized sophisticated cyberattacks that do physical damage. Its source code can now be downloaded, studied—and reused.

You can think of cyberweapons as akin to biological weapons. They often spread beyond their original targets, and once they are stolen or used, their DNA—the underlying code—can be endlessly repurposed. Exploits stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency have subsequently been used in attacks like WannaCry, which hit businesses in the U.S. and around the world. Microsoft has made this point and called for a “digital Geneva Convention.”

Attacks on businesses and individuals are often quite deliberate, says Milena Rodban, a geopolitical risk consultant who helps companies practice for cyberattacks and other crises. That’s because, more than ever, companies hold information that could be leveraged in a cyberwar.

“The information that Amazon is holding”—for example, data from financial institutions and government agencies stored on Amazon’s cloud—“could give someone a clear path into something really terrible that could upset national security,” Ms. Rodban says.

Patients in the reception area of a private medical clinic in Kiev, Ukraine, shown in a July 5 photo. The clinic was one of many institutions disrupted by a June 27 cyberattack that paralyzed computers across the globe.
Patients in the reception area of a private medical clinic in Kiev, Ukraine, shown in a July 5 photo. The clinic was one of many institutions disrupted by a June 27 cyberattack that paralyzed computers across the globe.PHOTO: EFREM LUKATSKY/ASSOCIATED PRESS

As a result, she adds, anyone who thinks about how to protect national security in the cyber arena must expand their definition of a national security asset. While U.S. Cyber Command might be tasked with defending government assets, it must also consider how it will cope with the takedown of a major cloud service provider, which in some ways is no less important than, say, the power grid.

Fixing this vulnerability could mean a great many things, from increased cooperation between government and private enterprise, to a broader role for U.S. Cyber Command in protecting U.S. businesses. The head of Cyber Command has said that government will need access to private firms’ networks if it is to help them defend against threats. The Trump administration is considering an Obama-era proposal to split Cyber Command from the NSA, so its offensive capability can be kept apart from the NSA’s mandate to gather intelligence.

In the first Cold War, the doctrine of mutually assured destruction kept nuclear-armed states from using their weapons. In the same way, China, the U.S. and Russia are held back from taking out critical infrastructure in each others’ countries, a capability experts widely believe all three have. (Look at attempts by Russian hackers to do just that in Ukraine.)

“What’s happened over the past year or two is nation-state capabilities have gotten into the hands of criminals,” says Mr. Ahlberg. “The bad guys picking up on these tool sets are not holding back.”

At their most dire, experts claim it is only a matter of time before America is hit by a “Cyber 9/11.” Terrorists haven’t yet shut down our power grid, but how long until that capability leaks into the hands of actors who aren’t restrained by the threat of retaliation? “It’s like a suicide bomber,” says Ms. Rodban. “It’s not hard to believe this could happen on the cyber level.”

https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-cyberwarfare-makes-cold-wars-hotter-1500811201?mod=e2fb

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Ten Years of Russian Cyber Attacks on Other Nations

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/hacking-in-america/timeline-ten-years-russian-cyber-attacks-other-nations-n697111

President Barack Obama announced the lifting of economic sanctions on Iran, a prisoner swap and the $1.7 billion settlement with Iran in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Jan. 17.
President Barack Obama  PHOTO: JIM LO SCALZO/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

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John Emerson, Washington's man in Berlin, to meet with Guido Westerwelle, German foreign minister, over claims Angela Merkel's phone was tapped by US

Chancellor Merkel called President Obama demanding answers after reports emerged that the US may have been monitoring her phone Photo: YVES HERMAN/REUTERS
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James Clapper talking to a group of people
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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power speaks at the Center for American Progress’ 2014 Making Progress Policy Conference in Washington November 19, 2014.  Credit: Reuters/Gary Cameron

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Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama at a joint news conference in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 25.
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If Trump Really Loves America, He’ll Resign

July 15, 2017

Handcuffed by Ego

Image may contain: 1 person, standing

Commentary

Donald Trump Jr. “took a meeting” with a Russian government attorney and a group working to defeat Hillary Clinton.

At least, that’s what he thought, according to his email records.

No other facts are relevant.

Republican commentator Charles Krauthammer says it may be bungled collusion but it’s still collusion.

Meanwhile, the healthcare bill is going nowhere fast, there is no tax overhaul plan, and no infrastructure spending plan has been passed and funded.

The stock market is going great but the Wall Street Journal reports that the gains in the stock market haven’t translated very much into the real economy. Manufacturing is still slow, jobs have been made but the future is unclear, retail is not doing well and optimism for the U.S. economy is slipping.

“Hopes for a prolonged period of 3% GDP growth sparked by Trump’s victory have largely vanished,” said Richard Curtin, chief economist for the University of Michigan’s consumer-sentiment survey.

We are in a tough spot in North Korea — maybe on the brink of war. American troops remain involved in wars in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, along with the occasional bombing in Somalia or someplace else.

The nation needs the full attention of the Commander in Chief.

Trust in any White House policy with regard to Russia is now under assault. China is watching closely as Donald Trump looks more and more to them as a temporary stand-in president under siege and perhaps just hours or days from incapacitation due to lack of public support.

Xi Jinping can watch CNN, too.

Never in the history of the nation has a “resistance movement” dogged a U.S. president from within. Never have the media been so emotionally transfixed upon who said what in the White House, in Air Force One, on the trip and the rest. Never have we seen so many leaks and unnamed sources. Committees of Congress are questioning former Directors of National Security and the FBI, plus a long list of lesser notables. Doubt reigns.

Then, somewhere in the bowels of the FBI, there’s Robert Mueller III, lingering like the hangman.

It sounds like a bad movie. The perfect storm in Washington D.C.

But it’s real: offering three plus years of gridlock — or worse.

But there is a way out. There is always a way to do what is in the best interests of the people of the United States. There is always a way to do what’s right for the sake of the nation. There is always gain in uniting the nation and ending the foul stench — of just about anything.

Donald Trump will have to resign. His pride will refuse to entertain the notion, of course. But the alternatives may sway him.

The best part of the Trump Presidency may be over. Many achievements already won can be maintained under a new Republican President. Maybe a healer can even start the process of moving us past…

If President Trump decides to stay, and fight a war of a 1,000 tweets all the way to impeachment — as his ego will tell him to do — his place in history will be destroyed.

Plus enemies around the globe will be gloating at the prospect of the U.S. on the brink of ungoverned and ungovernable for the next year or two. Putin’s evil master plan has already succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.

As Trump stands today, he’s the rock star of the age that got into the White House in a kind of miracle of populism. The dream of “Making America Great Again” is a good one and could be preserved, and maybe even fulfilled in some ways, if he resigns.

If he stays, ignoring the advice of national solons who tell him he should resign “for the good of the nation,” the historians will rip him to shreds as a selfish, ego driven megalomaniac that really doesn’t care if American ever becomes Great Again. He will be seen as one who only cares about schmoozing with Mrs. Macron in the Eiffel Tower and sending insulting tweets to the Mayor of London.

Now who should lay all this out for Donald Trump? Who can engineer the intervention?

My first thought is for Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, two brothers from different mothers.

But more importantly, two men who have worked in the Oval Office to serve the American people.

Two former presidents. Two men in Trump’s same unique club.  They have to make the case to their successor in the Oval Office.

But the only people Donald Trump really trusts are those in his inner circle: Donald Jr., Jared Kushner and Ivanka. They got him where he is. They will have to play a role in getting him out.

Otherwise, they will all become a part of a long, painful, ego-fueled national nightmare.

And nobody will be better for it.

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom

Mr. Carey has written commentary for The Wall Street Journal, Washington Times and other newspapers.

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What Robert Mueller Learned From Enron

Robert Mueller, foreground, arriving at the Capitol for a closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in June. Credit Alex Wong/Getty Images North America

It seems safe to assume that nobody read Donald Trump Jr.’s damning emails with a Kremlin-connected lawyer more closely than Robert Mueller.

Mr. Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, will surely be looking into the now infamous meeting, including the president’s son; the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and his campaign chairman at the time, Paul Manafort.

As he does, will Mr. Mueller be able to build a case that goes all the way to the top?

That could depend on what lessons he learned from overseeing the task force that investigated one of the biggest fraud cases in American history: the collapse of the energy giant Enron.

In December 2001, Enron filed what was then the largest corporate bankruptcy in American history. Just weeks later, Mr. Mueller, then the F.B.I. director; Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson; and the assistant attorney general for the criminal division, Michael Chertoff, formed the Enron Task Force, an elite team of F.B.I. agents and federal prosecutors assigned to investigate and prosecute crimes related to the Houston-based energy trader. Andrew Weissmann, who recently joined Mr. Mueller’s Russia team, later led the task force.

The Enron team was patient and learned from its investigative and trial mistakes. After its yearslong run, it set a high-water mark for complex, high-profile financial inquiries, successfully indicting and imprisoning almost all of the company’s top executives.

Early on, the Enron team also won a jury conviction of the Arthur Andersen accounting firm, Enron’s auditor, on an obstruction-of-justice charge. That experience could prove valuable as the Russia team investigates — among many possible routes — whether President Trump obstructed justice when he fired James Comey, the F.B.I. director.

Prosecuting the Enron executives went slowly. Not until 2006 did a jury find the former chief executive, Jeffrey K. Skilling, and the former chairman and chief executive, Kenneth L. Lay, guilty. (Mr. Lay died before sentencing.)

The frauds Enron was accused of were audacious. The company had hidden debt in a complex web of off-the-books companies and had faked its profits. Yet prosecutorial success was not inevitable. Mr. Skilling and Mr. Lay pleaded ignorance, blaming lower-level employees and arguing they had relied on the advice of their attorneys and auditors. The government did not have damning emails or wiretap evidence from either man. Prosecutors may face a similar challenge with Mr. Trump, who tweets but reportedly does not use email.

The Enron team got off to an auspicious start, with the Department of Justice providing adequate prosecutorial resources. Mr. Mueller helped recruit talented prosecutors and investigators from around the country and then got out of their way.

He and other top Justice Department officials then gave their team political cover. Enron and its executives were particularly close to the Bush family and top Republican officials. Early on, the team interviewed White House officials about their recollections. Republican political operatives voiced displeasure, but the team persisted.

The task force conducted its investigations effectively, flipping lower-level employees to build cases against the top bad actors. The Enron team made aggressive and risky moves. For example, it shocked Houston high society by charging the wife of Andrew Fastow, the chief financial officer, with tax evasion to put pressure on him. It worked. Mr. Fastow began to cooperate with the government. (His wife pleaded guilty.) Every prosecutor knows this strategy works, but for various reasons today, few put in the painstaking work needed to penetrate the sophisticated legal defenses of highly paid executives.

As it proceeded, the task force weathered relentless attacks. First, critics charged it was moving too slowly. Later, white-collar defense lawyers accused the team of intimidating witnesses and overzealously charging executives. The legal establishment particularly criticized the prosecution of Arthur Andersen. The government won at trial in 2002, but the Supreme Court overturned the verdict three years later on a narrow issue involving jury instructions.

Despite its successes, the Enron Task Force emerged with a mixed legacy thanks to its trial losses and reversals from higher courts. Among them, the Supreme Court reversed part of the Skilling verdict.

Today, many Justice Department officials have learned the wrong lessons from the Enron experience, accepting the idea that the task force was overzealous. Even Democratic appointees like Mary Jo White, President Obama’s chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Lanny Breuer, his assistant attorney general for the criminal division, came to believe the prosecution of Andersen had been a mistake.

Drawing the wrong lessons has consequences. In subsequent years, the Justice Department did not assign prosecutors to work solely on financial crisis cases. While the Bush Justice Department had acted quickly to create the Enron Task Force, the Obama department allowed plans to create a similar task force, after the banking collapse of 2008, to die amid bureaucratic infighting.

It was no surprise, then, that the Justice Department never put any top bankers from the biggest banks in prison after the financial crisis. Forgetting what went right with the Enron prosecutions has contributed to a problem that still plagues the Justice Department: It has lost the will and ability to prosecute top corporate executives from the largest corporations.

Today Mr. Mueller’s team is operating in an even hotter kitchen than the Enron Task Force did. The president has repeatedly called the investigation “a witch hunt,” and rumors abound that he could fire Mr. Mueller any day. A Trump ally, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, has grumbled conspiratorially that the former F.B.I. director was the “tip of the deep state spear” aimed at the president.

But the Enron Task Force may have given Mr. Mueller a hide thick enough to protect him from those attacks. More than that, Enron honed skills he’ll need now in the Russia investigation, which may well touch on money laundering, secrecy havens, complex accounting maneuvers, campaign finance violations — and multiple lies.

As I talked with Mr. Mueller’s former Enron Task Force colleagues in recent weeks, it became clear to me that he believes the Enron team was successful — and understands why. That means his special counsel team will probably move more slowly than people anticipate. But it might also shock people with its aggressive investigative and prosecutorial tactics. If Mr. Trump and his advisers committed crimes, Mr. Mueller will find them.

Dershowitz slams New York Times op-ed for broaching Trump Jr. treason charge

July 13, 2017

The Hill

Noted attorney Alan Dershowitz slammed The New York Times on Wednesday, telling Fox News’s Neil Cavuto he can’t believe the newspaper “had an op-ed in which treason was mentioned” regarding Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer.

“There’s really no difference on the First Amendment between a campaigner using information obtained from somebody who obtained it illegally and the newspaper doing it,” said Dershowitz, who is also an opinion contributor for The Hill, on “Cavuto Coast to Coast” show on Fox Business. “So I think this is conduct that would be covered by the First Amendment.

“It is also not prohibited by law,” Dershowitz continued. “There has been so much overwrought claim. People are talking about treason. I can’t believe The New York Times had an op-ed yesterday in which treason was mentioned.”

The Times published a Tuesday op-ed that argued while a treason charge against Trump Jr. is “ultimately unlikely,” the president’s eldest son could still be prosecuted under other statutes.

“Prosecution under the federal treason statute is ultimately unlikely because we are not at war with Russia,” reads the op-ed by Norman Eisen and Richard Painter, who served as chief White House ethics lawyers for former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, respectively.

“But during the Cold War, treasonous conduct was often prosecuted under other statutes,” the op-ed continues. “Alger Hiss was sentenced to four years in prison for ‘forgetting’ in sworn testimony that he had met with Whitaker Chambers, an American working for the Russians.”

Dershowitz argued in a separate FoxNews.com opinion piece that even if Trump Jr. did collude with the Russians, there is no law on the books that says it’s a crime.

“Perhaps mere collusion by a campaign with a foreign government should be made a crime, so as to prevent future contamination of our elections,” wrote the 78-year-old law professor. “But it is not currently a crime.”

The revelations about the Trump Jr. meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016 has fueled speculation about the possibility of collusion between Trump campaign associates and the Kremlin.

Trump Jr. has said Veselnitskaya provided no damaging information on Hillary Clinton during the meeting.

During a Fox News interview with Sean Hannity on Tuesday night, Trump Jr. acknowledged that he would have “done things a little differently” in retrospect.

http://thehill.com/homenews/media/341703-dershowitz-slams-new-york-times-op-ed-for-broaching-trump-jr-treason-charge

Donald Trump Jr. Arranged Meeting Between Father’s Campaign, Russian Lawyer

July 9, 2017

Natalia Veselnitskaya, who has been linked to the Kremlin, met with Paul Manafort, others in June 2016 in New York

Donald Trump Jr., executive vice president of The Trump Organization, spoke at Trump Tower in New York on June 5. In June of last year, members of President Donald Trump’s campaign met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer linked to the Kremlin, at a meeting arranged by Donald Trump Jr.

Donald Trump Jr., executive vice president of The Trump Organization, spoke at Trump Tower in New York on June 5. In June of last year, members of President Donald Trump’s campaign met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer linked to the Kremlin, at a meeting arranged by Donald Trump Jr. PHOTO: KATHY WILLENS/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Donald Trump Jr. , the president’s eldest son, arranged a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between top campaign aides and a Russian lawyer who has been linked to the Kremlin, according to Mr. Trump and a lawyer for  Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser who also attended the meeting.

The meeting, in New York, was also attended by Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman at the time who resigned about two months later amid reports of his connection to pro-Russian political forces in Ukraine. Investigators are currently examining whether Mr. Manafort’s work for foreign interests violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act and related laws.

Mr. Manafort’s spokesman has said he is taking the “appropriate steps” to respond to guidance from federal authorities about his FARA disclosures.

The Trump aides met with the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, on June 9, about a month after Mr. Trump effectively clinched the Republican nomination. The New York Times first reported the meeting on Saturday.

The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election in Mr. Trump’s favor, and a special counsel appointed by the Justice Department earlier this year is investigating whether Trump campaign aides colluded with Russia in that effort. Mr. Trump has denied that there was any collusion and has said he doubts the intelligence community’s assessment, saying earlier this week, “No one really knows for sure.”

On Friday, Mr. Trump met face-to-face with Mr. Putin at the Group of 20 leading nations summit, where he told the Russian leader that Americans are upset about Russia’s actions and want them to stop, according to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Mr. Putin denied that Russia played a role, and the leaders opted not to “relitigate” the past, Mr. Tillerson said.

Russia’s account of the exchange differed from that of the Americans. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who was also in the meeting in Hamburg, told reporters afterward that said Mr. Trump accepted Mr. Putin’s contention that Russia didn’t interfere in the campaign.

The younger Mr. Trump, who has been charged with running the family company together with his brother, Eric, while his father is in office, in a statement described the sit-down with Ms. Veselnitskaya as a “short introductory meeting” focused on a Russian adoption program that was halted by the Russian government.

“I asked Jared and Paul to stop by,” Donald Trump Jr. said in the statement. “We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at that time and there was no follow up.”

He added: “I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand.”

Mr. Kushner disclosed the meeting earlier this year in a required form to obtain a security clearance, according to a statement by his attorney, Jamie Gorelick.  Mr. Kushner initially filed a disclosure that didn’t list any contacts with foreign government officials, but the next day submitted a supplemental disclosure saying that he had engaged in “numerous contacts with foreign officials.” Mr. Kushner has since submitted information about “over 100 calls or meetings with representatives of more than 20 countries, most of which were during transition,” Ms. Gorelick said.

“Mr. Kushner has submitted additional updates and included, out of an abundance of caution, this meeting with a Russian person, which he briefly attended at the request of his brother-in-law, Donald Trump Jr.,” Ms. Gorelick said. “As Mr. Kushner has consistently stated, he is eager to cooperate and share what he knows.”

Ivanka Trump, right, and her husband, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, arrived in Hamburg on July 6 for the Group of 20 summit. Mr. Kushner, along with then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, attended the meeting with Ms. Veselnitskaya that was set up by his brother-in-law.

Ivanka Trump, right, and her husband, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, arrived in Hamburg on July 6 for the Group of 20 summit. Mr. Kushner, along with then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, attended the meeting with Ms. Veselnitskaya that was set up by his brother-in-law. PHOTO: BERND VON JUTRCZENKA/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Two previously disclosed meetings Mr. Kushner held with key Russians—the head of a state-run bank that has faced U.S. sanctions and Sergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S.—had already drawn the interest of agents conducting a counterintelligence investigation to determine the extent of those contacts. Mr. Kushner agreed earlier this year to speak to the Senate Intelligence Committee, becoming the first White House official to do so.

Ms. Veselnitskaya counts among her clients state-owned companies and family members of top government officials and her husband previously served as deputy transportation minister of the Moscow region. As a lawyer, she has campaigned against the Magnitsky Act, which targets Russian human-rights abusers, and the Russian accountant for whom the measure was named. Sergei Magnitsky was jailed and died in prison after he uncovered evidence of a large tax-refund fraud.

Ms. Veselnitskaya raised the Magnitsky Act in the meeting at Trump Tower, according to a person familiar with the conversation. The person said the meeting ended shortly afterward. The president didn’t become aware of the meeting until recent weeks, the person said.

In a move seen as retaliation to that law, Mr. Putin in 2012 signed a law banning adoption of Russian children by American families.

In postings on her social media accounts, Ms. Veselnitskaya appeared critical of former President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. Last July, she shared an article posted by another page and highlighted the quote, “Liberalism is a f—ing mental disorder.” She has also appeared to cheer some of Mr. Trump’s top achievements, such as the confirmation earlier this year of Neil Gorsuch, Mr. Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.

Write to Rebecca Ballhaus at Rebecca.Ballhaus@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trump-jr-arranged-meeting-between-fathers-campaign-russian-lawyer-1499558446?mod=e2fb

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See also: Reuters —  Trump Jr., Kushner met with Russian lawyer: New York Times

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-russia-idUSKBN19U019

Donald Trump Jr. approach by Russian in 2016 — Suspected election-year opposition effort aimed at creating the appearance of improper connections between Trump family members and Russia

July 9, 2017

President Trump Poland Speech in Warsaw at Krasinski Square – July 6th, 2017 (Video) — “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.”

July 6, 2017

Available athttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rZqffnba_o

Donald Trump says West must show ‘the will to survive’ in face of threats from Russia and North Korea 

President Donald Trump gives speech in Poland
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By  James Rothwell and 

Donald Trump has warned that the West must decide if it has the “will to survive” in the face of threats from North Korea and Russia at a speech in Warsaw on Thursday.

“We have to remember that our defence is not just a community of money, it is a community of will,” Mr Trump said.

“As the Polish experience reminds us, defence of the west rests not only on means but the will of people to prevail.

“The fundamental question is whether the West has the will to survive,” he added.

“Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders?” If we do not have strong values we will be weak and we will not survive.”

The US and Polish presidents give a joint press conference
The US and Polish presidents give a joint press conference

Europe-US bond is stronger than ever

“The transatlantic bond between the United States and Europe is as strong as ever, and maybe in many ways, even stronger,” said Mr Trump as he extolled the virtues of the Polish people.

In a lengthy speech which recounted Poland’s struggles under Nazi occupation and Communism, Mr Trump said the European country was a powerful “symbol of freedom.”

His remarks came despite a string of spats with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, over her refugee policy and the trade deficit with Germany.

Donald Trump meets Polish President

‘Our enemies are doomed’

“If left unchecked these forces will weaken our will to defend ourselves,” Mr Trump said in reference to threats from Russia and North Korea, which earlier this week test launched an intercontinental-ballistic missile.

“We know these forces are doomed to fail if we want them to fail and we do indeed want them to fail. They are doomed because our alliance is strong and our power is unmatched,” he said.

“Our adversaries are doomed because we will never forget who we are,” added Mr Trump, alluding to the US and the European allies’ joint efforts against Nazism and  later Soviet rule.

US President Donald Trump holds a joint press conference with his Polish counterpart at the Royal Castle in Warsaw
US President Donald Trump holds a joint press conference with his Polish counterpart at the Royal Castle in Warsaw

Get going on spending obligations, Nato allies told

It comes after Mr Trump gave a joint press conference on Thursday morning in which he said it was time for all Nato countries to “get going” on their financial obligations during a speech in Warsaw.

In the same speech he sought to reassure eastern European nations such as Poland by vowing to tackle Russia’s “destabilising” behaviour.

He also said he would confront the threat of North Korea, which test launched an inter-continental ballistic missile as part of its nuclear weapons programme early this week, “very strongly.”

Other countries must also make a stand to North Korea to show there are consequences for “bad behaviour,” he added.

Excerpts of the speech showed Mr Trump also planned to say that “the Polish experience reminds us – the defence of the West ultimately rests not only on means but also on the will of its people to prevail,” Trump will say, according to excerpts.

“The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.”

U.S. President Donald Trump is greeted by Polish President Andrzej Duda
U.S. President Donald Trump is greeted by Polish President Andrzej Duda

Russia ‘could have’ interfered with election

Mr Trump admitted that Russia may have interfered in the US election while taking questions from the media.

“I think it was Russia and I think it could have been other people in other countries,” he said.

US intelligence agencies concluded in January that Moscow tried to tilt the November presidential election to Mr Trump’s favour, including by hacking into and leaking the emails of senior Democrats.

Moscow has always denied the allegation.

In this June 30, 2017, photo, President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington
In this June 30, 2017, photo, President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington

Poland: This trip shows our country matters

Donald Trump’s high-stakes trip to Europe, where he faces a prickly G20 meeting and animosity from traditional US allies, kicked off on a comforting note Thursday – in front of a friendly crowd bussed in by his sympathetic Polish hosts.

Air Force One touched down in Warsaw late Wednesday, for what is the US president’s second foreign outing after a European tour in May that exposed fierce mistrust.

“This is the second foreign visit by president Trump and it starts in Poland. This shows we are a country that matters and it strengthens our position in the European Union,” said Polish President Andrzej Duda, who will meet the US leader today.

The US president’s four-day swing starts in Warsaw, where he will deliver a major speech, before moving on to the northern German city of Hamburg for his first G20 summit, where tricky geopolitical currents – from rumbling transatlantic discord to increasingly difficult ties with China – will converge.

Looming large over the entire visit is Pyongyang’s test of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could deliver a nuclear payload to Alaska.

President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump

Tough-talking Trump had previously vowed North Korea would not be allowed to possess an ICBM, and leaders from rival and allied powers alike will be watching closely to see whether his threats were bluster or will crystallise into action.

After repeatedly urging Beijing to ratchet up the pressure on North Korea, Trump will hold what promises to be a testy meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Hamburg to trace the next steps.

“Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter. So much for China working with us – but we had to give it a try!” Trump tweeted indignantly on Wednesday.

Air Force One touched down in Warsaw late on Wednesday
Air Force One touched down in Warsaw late on Wednesday

US will sell Patriot missiles to Poland

It came as the US agreed to sell Patriot missile defence systems to Poland in a memorandum signed on Wednesday night, Poland’s Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz said.

“A memorandum was signed tonight that the U.S. government has agreed to sell Poland Patriot missiles in the most modern configuration,” Macierewicz said in a news conference broadcast on public television on Thursday morning.

“I am glad that I can pass on this information on the day of President’s Trump visit to Warsaw,” Macierewicz also said.

Related:

Philippines: Year of Duterte’s dystopian vision

July 4, 2017
Over the course of his first 12 months as president, Rodrigo Duterte jabbered about the scourge of drugs unprovoked, repeating the same ideas.

This piece is a part of a news analysis series on the first 12 months of the Duterte administration.

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s language was surprising and even shocking, before it became predictable.

He would stand behind a podium and halfheartedly read part of a speech written for him. Then he would proceed with an impromptu about the enormity of the drug problem (there are 4 million drug addicts, he claimed, with little evidence), the threat of drug users to communities (drugs makes them animals, he said, but this is not backed by science) or drug money fueling politics and crime (his political foe, Leila de Lima, sits in jail over drug-related accusations).

He simplistically described narcotics as driving complex problems of corruption and terrorism, popularizing portmanteaus “narco-terrorism,” “narco-politicians” and “narco-list,” an intel document on officials linked to the trade.

While not grieving the killing of thousands in his drug war, he lamented the “everyday” death of cops, despite police data recording far fewer casualties on their end.

Philstar.com‘s research shows that Duterte mentioned illegal drugs in 247 of 304 of his public remarks since he became president in June last year. In his hour-long State of the Nation Address that July alone, he made reference to drugs 23 times.

Over the course of his first 12 months as president, Duterte jabbered about the scourge of drugs unprovoked, repeating the same ideas. He did so while abroad before top officials. And he did the same while addressing outstanding Filipino awardees, typhoon victims or young athletes.

Perpetuating myths, changing definitions

After all, it was the story that got him elected.

Duterte declared that the country is in the grip of a drug crisis, whose urgent solution comes in his campaign promise of a bloody war.

Sociologist Nicole Curato of the University of Canberra argued that populist Duterte’s “dystopian narrative” shifted the discussion during the campaign. It muted those of his opponent, particularly Jejomar Binay and Grace Poe’s platforms for personal dignity.

For Curato, Duterte’s political style makes use of a “language of crisis” drawn from the public’s fear of the real and imagined “other,” in this case, drug users.

“I argue that part of the reason for this narrative’s success has to do with the latent anxiety already existing in the public sphere,” Curato wrote in the “Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs” earlier this year.

This latent anxiety, Curato wrote, was communities’ distress over the commonplace use of illegal drugs. They see the problem—though possibly not as grave on a national scale—up close. But this distress, she said, remains in the background, “mundane but still worrisome, publicized but not politicized.” Until Duterte ran and won.

What ensued were police operations which so far killed at least 5,000 suspects of mostly poor males without benefit of a trial, and thousands of others slayed by vigilantes the government denies backing.

Duterte faced a flurry of criticisms from international human rights organizations and international bodies such as the European Union, culminating at the United Nations Universal Periodic Review in Geneva where states urged a halt in the killings and called for thorough investigations.

ALSO READ: Cayetano uses restrictive EJK definition, experts say

Backed by popular support, Duterte and his officials stood their ground and stoked public anxiety, arguing that the UN’s defense of the war’s drug-crazed targets is a disregard for the human rights of their victims who could be raped or massacred.

Human rights, which by definition should apply to all, ceased to be universal for the administration. Scientifically backed solutions to the drug problem proposed, consequently, failed to catch on.

“While some critics raised issues about human rights and due process, these issues—as far as my respondents were concerned—were secondary to the more pressing dangers they face every day,” wrote Curato, who documented political participation of typhoon victims in Tacloban City who supported Duterte.

Unexpected repercussions

There were more costs to Duterte’s worrisome but politically successful narrative.

Drugs and crime do not appear to be the most urgent concerns of Filipinos, yet President Duterte’s narrative prevails in the political arena. Data from Pulse Asia March 2017 survey.

Excess mandate and a promise of protection fed police corruption and abuse. It was cops who apparently abducted Jee Ick-joo, a Korean businessman, in October last year. He was said to have been killed inside the Philippine National Police’s headquarters in Quezon City, a detail acknowledged by the Philippines’ top cop Ronald dela Rosa.

In another telling case, a mayor detained for alleged links to the drug trade was shot dead inside his jail cell. The cops who did it claimed that Rolando Espinosa fought back and that killing him was an act of self-defense. National Bureau of Investigation findings, however, pointed to a rubout. Duterte publicly defended the cops. Later, the Department of Justice downgraded the murder charges to homicide.

The bloody drug war also emboldened non-state parties to use Duterte’s name in storming into homes or committing robbery.

Efforts to defend Duterte’s drug narrative have gone the distance. The firebrand leader fired his appointed drug policy official for daring to cite a scientific study that belies the president’s claims on drug prevalence.

To counter the press’ findings that data does not support the drug war, Cabinet officials launched the “Real Numbers” campaign. The numbers, in the end, did not seem to be so real.

Besides thousands of killings and tactics to cover up and justify, the country’s healthier bilateral ties also took a hit from Duterte’s cause.

In September, President Barack Obama called on Duterte to deal with the Philippines’ drug woes “the right way,” while the European Union called for a stop to extrajudicial killings in the drug war and condemned a bill reviving the death penalty against drug criminals.

Duterte shot back with a “s** of a w****” remark against Obama and a “f*** y**” (flashing the middle finger twice) to the EU. He would go on in October to announce in Beijing that he is separating from the US. He soon after walked back his statements, but later canceled the annual US-Philippines war games.

Political analyst Dindo Manhit, president of think tank ADR Institute, said there wasn’t a single turning point in the cooling off of US-Philippines relations over the past year. But Washington’s critical view of the drug war did not help.

“The United States’ (and other international actors’) lack of support for the president’s approach to the drug war was likely one important factor. This administration feels strongly about the war on drugs, which was one of its most public initiatives and a personal cause of the president,” Manhit told Philstar.com.

By May, the government got the chance to hit back at the EU. It ended development funding from the bloc, claiming that aid from new friends such as China could make up for the loss. This has yet to be seen.

As Duterte enters his second year as president, it is uncertain where the drug narrative will go, and how much of a toll it will have on democratic institutions and principles.

Still, there is more to the Philippines than meets the eye. Forms of quiet resistance sprang up in response to the dominant political theme.

“I think counter-narratives (to the drug story) will thrive in less overt, less spectacular places. For example, various parishes have quietly helped ‘tokhang’ families by taking them on, burying the dead, etc. These are quiet ways of helping,” sociologist Curato told Philstar.com.

Away from the cacophony, there are possibly more small but humane efforts attending to social wrongs the drug war is supposed to be addressing. These are “not necessarily political but responsive to the injustice the government perpetuates,” Curato said. — Graphics by RP Ocampo

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/07/04/1715996/year-dutertes-dystopian-vision

Related:

 (The Philippines seems to be siding with China, Russia and Iran)

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Discarded — The body of a dead Filipino girl — killed in President Duterte’s war on drugs — looks like it has been put out with the trash….. Presidential spokeman Abella said the war on drugs is for the next generation of Filipinos.
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) talks to Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald Dela Rosa. AFP photo

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Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa

Philippines: Human Rights Watch director Phelim Kine also said the numbers of fatalities in the drug war launched by President Rodrigo Duterte when he assumed office on June 30, 2016, are “appalling but predictable” since he (Duterte) vowed to “forget the laws on human rights.”

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Philippines Policeman found tortured and strangled after some fellow police said he was involved in the illegal drug trade. Photo Credit Boy Cruz

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/07/08/1600763/cop-linked-drugs-tortured-killed

 (December 23, 2016)

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 (Philippine Star, December 1, 2016)

 (Philippine Star, December 1, 2016)

“They are afraid the incident could cause President Duterte to declare martial law. I talked with some sultans and ulamas and elders here… and that’s what they have told me,” Ponyo said.

 (November 30, 2016)

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High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. UN Photo, Jean-Marc Ferré

Summary executions of supposed drug dealers and other criminals have become a common occurence in recent weeks. The STAR/Joven Cagande, file

 (November 16, 2016)

 (August 10, 2016)

Davao City’s Ronald dela Rosa has been appointed to become the next chief of the Philippine National Police to lead President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s planned crackdown on illegal drugs. Facebook/Dela Rosa
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Crime scene investigators examine a vehicle used by two drug suspects killed during an alleged shootout with officers along NIA Road in Quezon City on June 21, 2016. JOVEN CAGANDE/file
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President Rodrigo Duterte's crusade against drug users and dealers is controversial

Workers burying cadavers in various stages of decomposition in a mass grave in Manila, after health officials recovered the cadavers from Henry's Funeral Home. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.

Workers burying cadavers in various stages of decomposition in a mass grave in Manila, after health officials recovered the cadavers from Henry’s Funeral Home. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.Source:AFP

A worker arranging cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry's Funeral Homes in Manila. Picture: AFP/ Noel Celis.

A worker arranging cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry’s Funeral Homes in Manila. Picture: AFP/ Noel Celis.Source:AFP

Health officials closed Henry's Funeral Home after recovering at least 120 unclaimed and rotting cadavers in Manila. The city health department conducted a surprise raid after receiving complaints about a foul odour coming from the funeral parlour. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.

Health officials closed Henry’s Funeral Home after recovering at least 120 unclaimed and rotting cadavers in Manila. The city health department conducted a surprise raid after receiving complaints about a foul odour coming from the funeral parlour. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.Source:AFP

Workers carrying cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry's Funeral Homes in Manila, October 2016. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.

Workers carrying cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry’s Funeral Homes in Manila, October 2016. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.Source:AFP

Trump takes aim at Kim Jong-un with Twitter — But insults aren’t stopping North Korea from testing, and improving, their ballistic missiles

July 4, 2017

North Korea launches ballistic missile

President Donald Trump took aim at North Korea president Kim Jong-un saying ‘does this guy have anything better to do with his life?’ after the country launched a ballistic missile in its latest test-fire in recent months amid rising tensions with US. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed the missile had been launched from the North Phyongan province in the direction of Japan on Monday. It wasn’t immediately clear if this was a routine firing of a short-range missile or an attempt to perfect North Korea’s longer-range missiles. Despite threats of tougher US sanctions over its aggressive tests, Kim Jong Un is relentlessly pressing on with his nuclear program. The past few months has seen Pyongyang stepping up its military exercises and has tested at least four new missile systems – despite pressure from other countries to stop.

  • North Korea has launched a ballistic missile, according to South Korean military
  • US president Donald Trump took to Twitter on Monday evening asking if Kim Jong-un has ‘anything better to do with his life?’ 
  • South Korea says it was launched from North Phyongan province towards Japan 
  • It’s not clear if this was a routine firing of a short-range missile or an attempt to perfect North Korea’s longer-range missiles
  • Past few months has seen Pyongyang stepping up its military exercises
  • It has tested at least four new missile systems despite pressure from US to stop
  • The last was on June 8 when it tested of a new type of cruise missile which Pyongyang claimed is capable of striking US and South Korean warships ‘at will’

President Donald Trump took aim at North Korea president Kim Jong-un saying ‘does this guy have anything better to do with his life?’ after the country launched a ballistic missile in its latest test-fire in recent months amid rising tensions with US.

Trump tweeted Monday night: ‘North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!’

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed the missile had been launched from the North Phyongan province in the direction of Japan on Monday.

The Japanese government say it landed in their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and have condemned the test as a clear violation of UN resolutions.

It wasn’t immediately clear if this was a routine firing of a short-range missile or an attempt to perfect North Korea’s longer-range missiles.

South Korea’s news agency said the flight trajectory of 930 kilometres may have been aimed at ‘ridiculing the South Korean president’ after Moon Jae-in revealed Seoul’s Hyunmoo-2C missile which has a range of 800 kilometres.

Scroll down for video 

President Donald Trump took aim at North Korea president Kim Jong-un saying 'does this guy have anything better to do with his life? He is seen waving as he arrives on Air Force One, Monday, July 3, 2017, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., en route to Washington as he returns from Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.

President Donald Trump took aim at North Korea president Kim Jong-un saying ‘does this guy have anything better to do with his life? He is seen waving as he arrives on Air Force One, Monday, July 3, 2017, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., en route to Washington as he returns from Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.

It wasn’t immediately clear if this was a routine firing of a short-range missile or an attempt to perfect North Korea’s longer-range missiles. Trump is seen heading back to Washington on Sunday

Trump's tweets attacking Kim Jong-un on Sunday evening are seen above

Trump’s tweets attacking Kim Jong-un on Sunday evening are seen above

Despite threats of tougher US sanctions over its aggressive tests, Kim Jong-un is relentlessly pressing on with his nuclear program.

The past few months has seen Pyongyang stepping up its military exercises and has tested at least four new missile systems – despite pressure from other countries to stop.

Today’s launch is the first by the North since a June 8 test of a new type of cruise missile that Pyongyang claimed is capable of striking US and South Korean warships ‘at will.’

In another show of defiance, earlier on Monday, Pyongyang released footage of Jong-un watching his troops destroy a mocked-up South Korean rocket during a huge military exercise. The tyrant could be seen grinning as special forces soldiers used grenades to blow up a replica Hyunmoo-3 cruise missile.

Tensions have been rising between North Korea, and the US over its nuclear and missile program, and Washington is even considering whether to re-designate Pyongyang as a state sponsor of terrorism.

North Korea has launched a ballistic missile in the latest test-fire in recent months amid rising tensions with US (pictured is the test-firing of a new ground-to-ground medium long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 in May)

North Korea has launched a ballistic missile in the latest test-fire in recent months amid rising tensions with US (pictured is the test-firing of a new ground-to-ground medium long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 in May)

This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 14, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting the 'Dropping and Target-striking Contest of KPA Special Operation Forces - 2017'

This undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 14, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting the ‘Dropping and Target-striking Contest of KPA Special Operation Forces – 2017’

Trump spoke to his Chinese and Japanese counterparts on Friday to discuss the North Korean threat as his patience began wearing thin over Kim Jong-un’s nuclear threat.

During a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he warned that the United States is prepared to act on its own if China won’t, according to senior administration officials.

Trump has become increasingly frustrated with China’s inability to rein in North Korea, and the reference to trade was an indication that the one-time New York businessman may be ready to return to his tougher-talking ways on business with Beijing after holding back in hopes that it would put more pressure on Pyongyang.

The tyrant could be seen grinning as special forces soldiers used grenades to blow up a replica Hyunmoo-3 cruise missile

The tyrant could be seen grinning as special forces soldiers used grenades to blow up a replica Hyunmoo-3 cruise missile

Pyongyang has released new footage of dictator Kim Jong-un watching his troops destroy a mocked-up South Korean rocket (pictured) during a huge military exercise

Pyongyang has released new footage of dictator Kim Jong-un watching his troops destroy a mocked-up South Korean rocket (pictured) during a huge military exercise

Kim Jong Un watches army training to attack S.Korean missiles

He called for a determined response to North Korea in his talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and stressed the importance of the US-South Korean alliance but took aim at Seoul over trade and sharing the cost of defense.

Meanwhile, former President Barack Obama said that the country’s pursuit of nuclear weapons has ‘done nothing to secure the North Korean people’ during a visit to Seoul on Monday.

It comes days after Kim Jong-un threatened South Korea’s former president with a ‘miserable dog’s death’ over an alleged plot to assassinate the tyrant – something South Korea’s spy agency described as ‘unpardonable’.

Today’s test fire also comes just one day after China’s U.N. ambassador warned that further escalation of already high tensions with North Korea risks getting out of control, ‘and the consequences would be disastrous.’

Liu Jieyi expressed hope that key nations will support China’s attempts to de-escalate tensions and revive negotiations for de-nuclearization and peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

An important part of the proposal would be a ‘suspension for suspension,’ which would see North Korea halt nuclear and missile testing and the United States and South Korea stop military exercises.

Fears of a conflict on the Korean Peninsula, which has been divided between the American-backed South and communist North since the 1950-53 Korean War, have escalated as the North’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, has expanded a nuclear arsenal and developed ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads. His government says these are needed to avert a U.S. invasion.

Obama is visiting South Korea this week to meet with President Moon Jae-in and speak at a forum hosted by South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper

Obama is visiting South Korea this week to meet with President Moon Jae-in and speak at a forum hosted by South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper

China's UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi, pictured in February 2017, said that tensions between China and North Korea are high, and if not de-escalated soon, could "get out of control"

China’s UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi, pictured in February 2017, said that tensions between China and North Korea are high, and if not de-escalated soon, could ‘get out of control’

Barack Obama meets with South Korean president Moon Jae-in

North Korea’s U.N. Ambassador Kim In Ryong said last week that the more than 50-year confrontation between North Korea and the United States came closer to the brink of nuclear war than ever before when the U.S. and South Korea held what he called their largest-ever ‘aggressive’ military exercises in April and May.

Kim warned the United States and the rest of the world that his country will keep building up its nuclear arsenal regardless of sanctions, pressure or military attack.

Already this year, North Korea has disclosed and tested four new missile systems, sending a defiant message that it will continue to pursue a weapons program that has rattled its neighbors and Washington.

China’s Liu, who holds the Security Council presidency this month, said the suspension-for-suspension proposal, achieving de-nuclearization along with ‘a security mechanism for the Korean Peninsula at the same time,’ and replacing the armistice that ended the Korean War with a peace agreement, address all the major concerns in the region.

‘And we do believe that once we embark on the road of negotiations along the lines of these proposals – and, of course, we are open-minded about other proposals – we will be able to calm things down and seek a lasting solution to de-nuclearization and peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,’ he said.

‘We have never stopped working on various parties so that dialogue and negotiations can take place to get us on the track of resolving the problems of denuclearization and peace and security on the Korean Peninsula,’ Liu said in response to a question on the prospect for negotiations.

Ballistic missiles are displayed in Pyongyang

Ballistic missiles are displayed during a military parade in Pyongyang in this April 15 picture

‘So much is at stake and we cannot afford to wait for too long without dialogue taking place to see the situation having the possibility of worsening still,’ he warned.

While the Chinese ambassador didn’t refer to any country when he expressed hope that ‘the other parties will be more forthcoming’ in accepting the package Beijing outlined, his comment appeared to be aimed at the Trump administration which has made clear that it first wants to see signs that North Korea is starting to dismantle its nuclear and missile programs.

How far would missile have to travel from Pyongyang to reach the rest of the world?

US Naval Base in Guam: 2,114 miles (3,402 km)

Hawaii: 4,727 miles (7,670 km)

London (over mainland Europe): 5,379 miles (8,657 km)

San Francisco:  5,588 miles (8,993 km)

Los Angeles:  5,935 miles (9,551 km)

Washington, DC: 6,857 miles (11,035 km)

President Donald Trump spoke to China’s President Xi Jinping Sunday night about the growing threat from North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and will meet him later this week at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, the White House said.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the Security Council in late April that the U.S. does not seek regime change in North Korea, and he signaled American openness to holding direct negotiations with Pyongyang – once it begins to dismantle it nuclear and missile programs. But Tillerson said all options ‘must remain on the table,’ while emphasizing the need for diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea.

Last week, the United States blacklisted a small Chinese bank over its business ties with North Korea.

Liu stressed that the Security Council should impose global sanctions, not individual countries.

‘We have always been opposed to unilateral sanctions outside the framework of the United Nations,’ the Chinese ambassador said. ‘We do not see that as the right thing to do.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4663232/North-Korea-launches-ballistic-missile.html#ixzz4lqMgIJzx
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North Korea Launches Another Ballistic Missile — Trump Wonders if “China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”

July 4, 2017

North Korea launched a missile on Tuesday, with Japan saying it appeared to have landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ)

By Leslie Shaffer

North Korea’s latest provocation likely aimed at the US ahead of July 4 celebrations  4 Hours Ago | 02:32

North Korea launched a missile on Tuesday, with Japan saying it appeared to have landed in the Japanese exclusive economic zone (EEZ), Reuters reported.

“We confirm that North Korea has fired an unidentified ballistic missile off its eastern coast towards the East Sea from Banghyun area in Northern Pyong An Province at around 9:40 am (KST) Tuesday morning,” a South Korean military official told NBC. “The launch was immediately reported to the President Moon Jae In.”

Moon ordered a National Security Council meeting after the launch, South Korean state news agency Yonhap reported, citing the Blue House — the South Korean equivalent of the White House.

The meeting was to determine the country’s defense readiness against further incidents, Yonhap said.

Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

This picture taken on May 14, 2017 and released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (3rd R) inspecting a ballistic rocket at an undisclosed location. AFP, Getty Images

“Our military is maintaining full preparedness against the possibility of North Korea’s additional provocation,” Army Col. Roh Jae-cheon, a spokesman for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, according to a Yonhap report.

Japan’s main government spokesperson said there were no reports of damage to planes and ships in the proximity.

“It flew for approximately 40 minutes and is believed to have landed within Japan’s economic exclusive zone,” he said in comments translated from Japanese by NBC News.

“Today’s ballistic missile launch was an extremely problematic act and at the same time a clear violation of the Security Council resolution. We cannot condone these repeated acts of provocation from North Korea and we have lodge our fierce complaint to the North Koreans,” he said.

Yonhap, citing the South Korean military, reported the missile flew more than 930 kilometers (around 578 miles).

A U.S. military official said the projectile was an intermediate-range ballistic missile, not a longer-range ICBM. ICBMs have a minimum range of around 5,500 kilometers and are capable of carrying nuclear weapons. But the official said the U.S. couldn’t say what type of missile it was.

The U.S. wasn’t yet certain if the missile breached Japan’s EEZ, the official told NBC News.

The U.S. Pacific Command said it tracked the missile for 37 minutes and that it landed in the Sea of Japan, noting that the North American Aerospace Defense Command determined it didn’t pose a threat to North America.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he would aim to increase international pressure on North Korea and he would ask China and Russian leaders to play more constructive roles, Reuters reported

Market reaction was tepid. South Korea’s Kospi index was trading at around 2,395 before the news, dipping as low as 2,385.33 afterward, but recovered slightly to trade at 2392.87 at 9:48 a.m. HK/SIN. That was down just around 0.1 percent from the previous close.

The South Korean won initially strengthened on the news, with the dollar fetching as little as 1,146.67 won afterward, compared with as much as 1,149.98 won beforehand. The currency pair was trading at 1,148.50 at 9:51 a.m. HK/SIN.

Japan’s yen, considered a safe-haven play, also initially strengthened on the news, with the dollar/yen pair falling as low as 113.11 from as high as 113.40 beforehand. At 10:01 a.m. HK/SIN, it was at 113.25.

In the U.S., President Donald Trump expressed concern via Twitter.

“North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea … and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all,” he said over two Twitter posts.

North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea…..

….and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!

Despite hacking charges, U.S. tech industry fought to keep ties to Russia spy service

June 30, 2017
Reuters
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By Joel SchectmanDustin Volz and Jack Stubbs | WASHINGTON/MOSCOW

(Editors note: Attention to language in paragraph 22 that may be offensive to some readers.)

As U.S. officials investigated in January the FSB’s alleged role in election cyber attacks, U.S. technology firms were quietly lobbying the government to soften a ban on dealing with the Russian spy agency, people with direct knowledge of the effort told Reuters.

New U.S. sanctions put in place by former President Barack Obama last December – part of a broad suite of actions taken in response to Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election – had made it a crime for American companies to have any business relationship with the FSB, or Federal Security Service.

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U.S. authorities had accused the FSB, along with the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, of orchestrating cyber attacks on the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, a charge Moscow denies.

But the sanctions also threatened to imperil the Russian sales operations of Western tech companies. Under a little-understood arrangement, the FSB doubles as a regulator charged with approving the import to Russia of almost all technology that contains encryption, which is used in both sophisticated hardware as well as products like cellphones and laptops.

Worried about the sales impact, business industry groups, including the U.S.-Russia Business Council and the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, contacted U.S. officials at the American embassy in Moscow and the Treasury, State and Commerce departments, according to five people with direct knowledge of the lobbying effort.

The campaign, which began in January and proved successful in a matter of weeks, has not been previously reported.

In recent years, Western technology companies have acceded to increasing demands by Moscow for access to closely guarded product security secrets, including source code, Reuters reported last week.

Russia’s information technology market is expected to reach $18.4 billion this year, according to market researcher International Data Corporation.

The sanctions would have meant the Russian market was “dead for U.S. electronics” said Alexis Rodzianko, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, who argued against the new restrictions. “Every second Russian has an iPhone, iPad, so they would all switch to Samsungs,” he said.

A spokesman for the U.S. Commerce Department Bureau of Industry and Security declined to comment. A State Department official said Washington considered a range of factors before amending the FSB sanction and regularly works with U.S. companies to assess the impact of such policies.

The lobbyists argued the sanction could have stopped the sale of cars, medical devices and heavy equipment, all of which also often contain encrypted software, according to a person involved in the lobbying effort. The goal of the sanctions was to sever U.S. business dealings with the FSB – not end American technology exports to Russia entirely, the industry groups argued.

“The sanction was against a government agency that has many functions, only one of them being hacking the U.S. elections,” said Rodzianko.

The lobbyists assembled representatives from the tech, automotive and manufacturing sectors to make the case to the U.S. Treasury Department, said the person involved in the lobbying effort.

The industry groups did not argue against the intent of the sanction but asked for a narrow exception that would allow them to continue to seek regulatory approvals from the FSB while still keeping in place the broader ban on doing business with the spy agency.

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“PUNISHMENT FOR VERY BAD ACTS”

The industry groups represent a number of technology firms with a large presence in Russia, including Cisco and Microsoft.

Reuters was unable to determine which companies were directly involved in the lobbying. Microsoft said it did not ask for changes to the sanctions. In a statement, Cisco said it also did not seek any changes to the sanction but had asked the Treasury Department for clarification on how it applied.

In order to get encrypted technology into Russia, companies need to obtain the blessing of the FSB, a process that can sometimes take months or even years of negotiation. Before granting that approval, the agency can demand sensitive security data about the product, including source code – instructions that control the basic operations of computer equipment.

The United States has accused Russia of a growing number of cyber attacks against the West. U.S. officials say they are concerned that Moscow’s reviews of product secrets could be used to find vulnerabilities to hack into the products.

Some U.S. government officials rejected the industry groups’ arguments. They openly embraced the prospect of any ripple effect that cut further trade with Russia.

Kevin Wolf was assistant secretary at the Commerce Department and oversaw export control policy when the FSB sanction was put in place. Wolf said within days of the sanction taking effect, Commerce received numerous calls from industry groups and companies warning of the unintended consequences.

But for Wolf, who was “furious” with Moscow over the alleged cyber attacks, any additional curbs on trade with Russia was a bonus rather than an unintended downside.

“I said, ‘Great, terrific, fuck ’em … The whole point is to interfere with trade’,” recounted Wolf. “The sanction was meant to impose pain (on Russia) and send a signal as punishment for very bad acts.”

Wolf left the Commerce Department when President Donald Trump took office on Jan. 20.

Other officials felt that the impact on legitimate trade was too great. “The intention of the sanction was not to cut off tech trade with Russia,” said a U.S. official with direct knowledge of the process.

The lobbyists had also argued that since the sanctions only applied to U.S. technology makers, it would put them at a disadvantage to European and Asian companies who would still be able to interact with the FSB and sell products in Russia.

“We were asking for a narrow technical fix that would give a fair deal for American companies,” Dan Russell, CEO of the U.S.-Russia Business Council, said in an interview.

The advocacy worked. State and Treasury officials began working to tweak the sanction in January before Obama left office, according to people involved in the process.

On Feb. 2, the Treasury Department created an exception to the sanction, about two weeks after Trump took office, to allow tech companies to continue to obtain approvals from the FSB.

 

(Reporting by Joel Schectman and Dustin Volz in Washington and Jack Stubbs in Moscow; Editing by Ross Colvin)

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Ten Years of Russian Cyber Attacks on Other Nations

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