Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Trump claims media ‘misrepresent’ his Charlottesville comments

August 17, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | US President Donald Trump denounced what he said was unfair press coverage of his comments in his latest series of tweets
WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Donald Trump took a swing at his favorite punching bag Thursday, claiming his comments about the deadly violence in Charlottesville were misrepresented by media.”The public is learning (even more so) how dishonest the Fake News is. They totally misrepresent what I say about hate, bigotry etc. Shame!,” the US president wrote on Twitter.

One protester was killed in violent clashes between neo-Nazi and so-called “Alt-Right” demonstrators and counter-protesters in the Virginia college town of Charlottesville Saturday.

Both Democrat and Republican politicians criticized Trump’s initial response — when he condemned violence “on all sides” — as inadequate.

On Monday he singled out the Klu Klux and neo-Nazis as “repugnant,” but on Tuesday he returned to his original position and said there had been “blame on both sides.”

Trump’s weak condemnation of the racist far-right set off a political firestorm across the US political spectrum. World leaders also criticized Trump’s response.

The US president also took aim at two fellow Republican senators, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

“Publicity seeking Lindsey Graham falsely stated that I said there is moral equivalency between the KKK, neo-Nazis & white supremacists… and people like Ms. Heyer,” Trump said on Twitter.

Heather Heyer, 32, was killed in Charlottesville on Saturday when a suspected white nationalist drove his car into a crowd protesting the far-right march.

“Such a disgusting lie,” Trump said. “He just can’t forget his election trouncing. The people of South Carolina will remember!”

Trump appeared to be referring to his defeat of Graham in last year’s presidential primary.

Graham had said the US president “took a step backward” Tuesday “by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally” and people like Heyer.

Trump also blasted Flake, one of the few Republicans openly critical of the president.

“Great to see that Dr. Kelli Ward is running against Flake Jeff Flake, who is WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate. He’s toxic!” Trump tweeted.

Flake, who is running for re-election, wrote Tuesday: “We can’t accept excuses for white supremacy & acts of domestic terrorism. We must condemn. Period.”

He followed that up Wednesday by tweeting “We can’t claim to be the party of Lincoln if we equivocate in condemning white supremacy.”

Abraham Lincoln, the US president who freed the slaves and defeated the southern confederacy in the 1861-1865 civil war, is a prominent Republican and one of the most revered figures in US history.

Asia security forum to push social media use to fight extremism

August 5, 2017

Reuters

AUGUST 5, 2017 / 1:24 AM

By Manuel Mogato

Image result for Armoured Personnel Carrier, Manila, philippines, August 2017, photos

A man use a mobile phone to take pictures of his friend beside an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) parked near the venue of the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting in Pasay city, metro Manila, Philippines August 4, 2017. Reuters photo

MANILA (Reuters) – More than two dozen Asian countries will agree to utilize social media to counter the spread of violent extremism in the region, according to a draft statement being prepared ahead of a top security gathering on Monday.

Foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and from 17 dialogue partner-countries are expected to create a regional mechanism to address the security threat.

“The ministers expressed strong condemnation of recent acts of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” said the draft chairman’s statement seen by Reuters, reflecting discussions expected at the ASEAN Regional Forum in Manila.

“They also took note of the need to make full and effective use of social media to counter the spread of terrorists’ narratives online.”

The ARF is expected to discuss creating a mechanism to boost efforts on Security of Information Communication Technology, which Japan, Malaysia and Singapore have volunteered to lead.

The Philippines, which is hosting the ASEAN meetings, is among those most affected. Authorities have said Islamic State’s radical ideology is taking a hold in the country’s south, with local groups using social media as a primary means of recruiting fighters, which include Indonesians, Singaporeans and Malaysians.

Image result for Armoured Personnel Carrier, Manila, philippines, August 2017, photos

Motorists drive past an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) parked near the venue of the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting in Pasay city, metro Manila, Philippines August 4, 2017. Romeo Ranoco

Philippine troops have been battling Islamist militants who seized control of parts of the mainly Muslim Marawi City more than two months ago. Close to 700 people have died and more than 400,000 displaced in the intense fighting.

Philippine authorities believe the problem goes beyond Marawi and militants may be preparing to attack other cities.

ASEAN ministers were ready to act because they have seen how extremists exploited social media to promote their ideology, recruit and inspire attacks, a senior Philippines foreign ministry official familiar with the issue told Reuters.

No automatic alt text available.

“They spread violent videos on Twitter and Facebook and communicate through Telegram messaging apps,” he said, adding the ministers decided to counter the threat using those same platforms.

Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla, Philippine military spokesman, said many countries were making progress in that regard but “there is a need for ASEAN to do more.”

“We can do more beyond the traditional military cooperation,” he said, acknowledging support from Indonesia and Malaysia through information and intelligence exchanges and coordinated maritime border patrols.

“This is a very robust engagement that we wish to increase not only with Indonesia and Malaysia,” he said. “This challenge that we face in Marawi has its effects also in the whole region.”

Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Martin Petty and Bill Tarrant

Related:

© AFP/File | Telegram is a free Russian-designed messaging app that lets people exchange messages, photos and videos in groups of up to 5,000 people

Ex-Fox News executive ‘being considered for White House communications job’

August 2, 2017

Bill Shine would be walking into a controversy-ridden White House

By Alexandra Wilts Washington DC

The Independent 

Donald Trump is reportedly considering Bill Shine, a former Fox News executive, for a role on his press team, a day after the humiliated Anthony Scaramucci was removed as White House communications director.

Mr Shine – who was forced out of Fox News following allegations that he covered up incidents of sexual harassment against anchor Bill O’Reilly and former chief Roger Ailes – is said to have spoken with White House officials about taking a position on the communications team. Mr Shine has denied all wrongdoing regarding the allegations, as did Mr Ailes, who died in May.

Whether or not Mr Shine would have such a high-profile position as Mr Scaramucci is unclear.

The New York Times reported the administration was considering a behind-the-scenes role for Mr Shine.

While he has no background in politics beyond cable news, Mr Shine counts Fox News host Sean Hannity as one of his allies. An informal advisor to Mr Trump and one of his most loyal on-air supporters, Mr Hannity dined with Mr Shine, the President and the first lady at the White House last week.

If selected to join the communications team, Mr Shine would be walking into a controversy-ridden White House that is seen as chaotic and out-of-control by many observers. Staff has seen several changes over the last month, all of which culminated in the firing of Mr Scaramucci on Monday – a move that has left Washington still reeling.

Mr Scaramucci turned the White House upside down during the 10 days he worked for the US President – who the former New York financier declared he reported directly to, without the interference of intermediaries such as Mr Trump’s then-chief of staff, Reince Priebus.

Upon resigning in July, ex-Press Secretary Sean Spicer reportedly told Mr Trump that hiring Mr Scaramucci as communications director would be a big mistake.

Less than a week later, Mr Scaramucci, whose tough-talking persona was viewed to be similar to Mr Trump’s, told a New Yorker reporter that Mr Priebus was a “paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac” and accused him of leaking information to journalists. On Friday, Mr Trump announced that John Kelly, his then-Secretary of Homeland Security, would replace Mr Priebus as White House Chief of Staff.

Mr Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, is believed to have been selected to help bring discipline to the White House, and it appears that his first order of business was to get rid of “the Mooch”, as Mr Scaramucci likes to be called.

Mr Trump is said to have removed Mr Scaramucci at the request of Mr Kelly, who was sworn in as White House Chief of Staff on Monday.

In a statement announcing Mr Scaramucci would be leaving his role, the White House said: “Mr Scaramucci felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team.”

During a briefing following the firing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also told reporters that Mr Trump “certainly felt that Anthony’s comments were inappropriate for a person in that position,” referring to his remarks made to the New Yorker journalist.

She also later added: “As I think we’ve made clear a few times over the course of the last couple of days to several of you individually, but General Kelly has the full authority to operate within the White House, and all staff will report to him.”

Any new member of the communications team would be on the front lines defending Mr Trump’s directives and decisions – a job made more difficult by the President’s social media use and off-the-cuff communication style. Mr Trump’s press secretaries have also constantly battled questions from the media related to ongoing investigations into possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government.

Names that have been floated to fill the role of White House communications director include Kellyanne Conway, currently a counsellor to the President, and Laura Ingraham, a conservative radio host and commentator.

During his profanity-laced discussion with the New Yorker, Mr Scaramucci suggested he was considering Mr Shine for a position.

“Oh, Bill Shine is coming in,” Mr Scaramucci told reporter Ryan Lizza, apparently in an impersonation of Mr Priebus, adding, in colourful language, that Mr Priebus would likely try to leak that information.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/fox-news-executive-white-house-job-anthony-scaramucci-replace-communications-bill-shine-a7871931.html

China’s State Media Slams Trump’s ‘Emotional Venting’ on Twitter

August 1, 2017

BEIJING — After President Trump pilloried China in 48 tweeted words, accusing it of failing to tame its neighbor and longtime ally North Korea, Beijing issued its own rebuke to Mr. Trump — in a cutting editorial of 1,000 Chinese characters from Xinhua, the official news agency.

“Trump is quite a personality, and he likes to tweet,” said the Xinhua response issued late Monday and widely displayed on Chinese news websites. “But emotional venting cannot become a guiding policy for solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula,” it said, referring to the divided Korean Peninsula.

The United States, it added, “must not continue spurning responsibility” for the volatile standoff with North Korea, “and even less should it stab China in the back.”

The unusually personal nature of the editorial, together with comments delivered earlier that day by China’s ambassador to the United Nations in New York, show North Korea is becoming the main dispute threatening to tear at Mr. Trump’s initially friendly relationship with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

“I am very disappointed in China,” Mr. Trump declared on Twitter on Sunday, after North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile in defiance of United Nations sanctions.

Despite China’s big trade surplus with the United States, he continued in a second tweet, saying, ‘they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk.”

China’s rebuke to Mr. Trump didn’t use exclamation marks. But the Xinhua editorial broke with Beijing’s usual public reticence when Mr. Trump has taken China to task over trade imbalances, territorial disputes in the South China Sea, Taiwan and other sources of tension.

“Taking out this outrage on China is clearly finding the wrong target,” it said, warning such broadsides could be dangerous.

“What the peninsula needs is immediately stamping out the fire, not adding kindling or, even worse, pouring oil on the flames,” Xinhua said. The tensions could, it added, “evolve into a localized conflict, or even the outbreak of war, with unthinkable repercussions.”

Chinese diplomats and the state news media have consistently argued that Washington and its allies should not rely so much on China to defuse tensions created by North Korea’s growing nuclear weapons and missile capabilities. On Friday, North Korea tested a ballistic missile that experts have said could have the range to hit California.

The United States secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, has turned up pressure on China to help isolate and cajole North Korea. “China and Russia bear unique and special responsibility for this growing threat to regional and global stability,” he said in a statement after the launch.

But the Chinese government argues that North Korea won’t back down and return to negotiations over its weapons programs unless the United States and its northeast Asian allies, South Korea and Japan, take conciliatory steps. In particular, China has proposed that North Korea freeze its nuclear and missile programs in exchange for a halt to major military exercises by American and South Korean forces on the Korean Peninsula and off its coast.

As the tensions with North Korea have escalated, Mr. Trump has often treated Mr. Xi in public as a friend who was valiantly, though unsuccessfully, trying to bring North Korea around. “At least I know China tried!” Mr. Trump said on Twitter in June.

Now that friendly facade appears to be cracking. But Mr. Trump also has a long record of harsh criticisms of China, stretching back to his election campaign and much earlier. “China controls North Korea,” he said in 2013. “They are using the Norks to taunt us,” he said, using slang for North Koreas.

The Chinese ambassador to the United Nations, Liu Jieyi, said on Monday it was up to the United States and North Korea to find a solution to the current standoff, not China.

“People talk about China a lot,” he said at a news conference to mark the end of China’s July term in the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council. “If the two principal parties refuse to move toward what is required by the Security Council resolutions — de-escalation of tension, negotiations to achieve denuclearization and peace and stability and also resume dialogue — then no matter how capable China is, China’s efforts will not yield practical results because it depends on the two principal parties.”

He said that China had upheld United Nations sanctions against North Korea, while Pyongyang and Washington were heightening tensions by carrying out missile tests and the American side was raising the prospect of new, unilateral sanctions and even the potential for military strikes.

“Instead of de-escalating tension we see of course further testing that we oppose and we also see language and action from elsewhere that heightens tension, talking about ‘all options on the table,’” he said.

Mr. Liu also criticized the United States’ deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense antimissile system in South Korea, which China opposes. He reiterated China’s support for a proposal to freeze North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests in exchange for the United States and South Korea halting large-scale military exercises on the Korean Peninsula.

VPN crackdown an ‘unthinkable’ trial by firewall for China’s research world

July 24, 2017

Beijing risks a brain drain and undermining international collaborations by cutting off academics reliant on virtual private networks, scholars say

By Sarah Zheng
South China Morning Post

Monday, July 24, 2017, 11:45am

But access to this resource is not guaranteed as he works at Tsinghua University in China – where the government has been tightening what are already among the strictest controls over the internet in the world.

China is notorious for its “Great Firewall” – the mass censorship and blocking of websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google, plus news sites including The New York Times. It also routinely censors politically sensitive information across Chinese social media and websites.

 If researchers cannot use VPNs to access a free and open internet, it might lead to government censorship of academic information and a “brain drain” of skilled individuals overseas, one researcher says. Photo: Xinhua

Its push in recent years to further limit people’s abilities to circumvent controls on the internet have forced academics such as Pastor-Pareja to depend on tools such as virtual private networks (VPNs), which redirect users to offshore servers to bypass the censors. His personal VPN subscription, paid for out of his own pocket, allows him to access Google, monitor his Twitter feed for the latest scientific literature, and connect with the wider scientific community via social media.

“Everybody here does the same,” he said. “First-class research at a truly competitive level can’t go on with researchers cut off from the outside world. It’s truly unthinkable.”

However, it may become more difficult for people in China to evade the censors amid the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology’s “clean-up” campaign of internet access services such as VPNs.

Beijing has championed the concept of “cyberspace sovereignty” – control of its own digital space – that has forced VPN providers into a long-standing dance with the authorities over their “legal grey zone” of operation.

Freedom House, a US-based democracy and human rights NGO, says Beijing has escalated efforts to “restrict individual VPN usage over the past few years”, branding it “the world’s worst abuser of internet freedom”.

“VPNs provide a pressure valve for those who rely on open internet access to communicate and stay informed – even government supporters,” said Madeline Earp, a research analyst at the group. “Interfering with these channels to the outside world creates tremendous frustration and uncertainty.”

In January this year, Beijing launched a 14-month nationwide campaign against unauthorised internet connections, including VPN services, saying all service providers must obtain government approval.

Nathan Freitas, a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Centre for Internet and Society, said “anyone who was anyone” in China depended on “the VPN of the week that works” to access essential blocked resources.

Any new restrictions would cause “significant” harm to global collaborations, including Chinese academics or open-source projects on the mainland, he said.

“There is this idea that for people inside – the playing field, the collaboration field, was levelled because they had VPNs,” he said.

John Zhang, a chemistry professor at New York University Shanghai, has used his college’s VPN network to access academic information for years. If that changed, “the impact on my work would be serious”, Zhang said.

Another Chinese academic at a university in Shanghai said he had used VPNs since 2012 to access sites such as Google, a service he needed to “accurately and quickly” find academic papers.

He now bypasses the firewall with his university’s VPN system. Since researchers could still access legal VPNs through work, he did not think the restrictions were harmful to China’s academia – “at least for now”.

 Both Chinese and foreign researchers in the country need to tap into global conversations for “well-informed research”. Photo: Chinese Academy of Sciences

A Chinese physics professor at a university in Beijing said he hoped the VPN crackdown would not affect his ability to use Google.

“Baidu has absolutely no use for my work,” he said, referring to the Chinese search engine.

“It is a shame … Without Google, academic research and study will definitely be adversely ­affected.”

Academics in China are reluctant to publicly comment on censorship. But both Chinese and foreign researchers in the country need to tap into to global conversations for “well-informed research”, according to Dr Nicole Talmacs, lecturer in media and communications at Xian Jiaotong-Liverpool University.

One former visiting scholar at Fudan University in Shanghai tried multiple services in his “adventures of finding a VPN”. The first was blocked upon arrival, the second worked for one night and the third worked only after a prolonged configuration process.

He said it was “catastrophic” for his research to be restricted from file sharing services such as Dropbox or Google Drive. “I don’t want to risk my access being limited to whatever the government decides I can use,” he said.

Dr Christopher Balding, a business and economics professor at the HSBC Business School in Shenzhen, frequently accesses Twitter, Gmail, and Google Scholar for his work.

“If we start taking [VPNs] away, it’s going to be very problematic,” Balding said.

“When you’re going to such extremes, you’re stopping basic access to information for professors … It’s really going to harm the types of jobs and industries that China says it wants to grow.”

Dr Mario Poceski, a former visiting scholar at Fudan University in Shanghai, said the lack of complete internet access was a constant hassle while he was in China, creating conditions that were “rather intolerable”.

He added that this would negatively affect the country’s appeal for foreign scholars.

The firewall’s impact on research was raised when the legislature met in March in Beijing.

Even Liu Binjie, a former director of the General Administration of Press and Publication, indicated support at the National People’s Congress meeting this year for the reintroduction of Google Scholar to China after the authorities suspended access to the service in 2010.

Luo Fuhe, a vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, also said this year that limited access to the internet was harmful to scientists.

“It is not normal when quite a number of researchers have to buy software that helps them bypass the country’s firewalls in order to complete their scientific research,” Luo said.

The communist government has been increasing efforts to maintain its ideological grip on the country’s universities, which President Xi Jinping has vowed to turn into “strongholds of the party’s leadership”.

Universities – which fall under the control of Communist Party committees – have repeatedly been told to maintain purity in their socialist ideology, including steering clear of teaching topics such as press freedom and civil rights.

The party dispatched anti-graft teams earlier this year to inspect 29 top universities on criteria including the implementation of the party’s guiding principles for education and strong “political awareness”.

China’s drive for internet restrictions on academics may stem from a desire to keep data on Chinese internet platforms and sensitive information such as defence or cybersecurity research within its borders, according to Freitas.

But when scholars and researchers could not use VPNs to access a free and open internet, it might lead to government censorship of academic information and a “brain drain” of skilled individuals overseas, he noted. “Intelligent people want to be connected with a global cohort of collaborators,” he said.

Balding said China was “definitely a different environment” from when he arrived in the country eight years ago, citing its restrictive internet and politically sensitive academic environment.

Asked if he was now considering working outside China, he replied soberly: “I should probably start thinking about looking.”

 http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2103793/vpn-crackdown-unthinkable-trial-firewall-chinas

If Trump Really Loves America, He’ll Resign

July 15, 2017

Handcuffed by Ego

Image may contain: 1 person, standing

Commentary

By John Francis Carey

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.

Doctor Charles Krauthammer has called Donald Trump “pathological” — and more than once.

Nobody has to have a medical degree to see, watch and judge for themselves.

Donald Trump’s treatment of Jeff Sessions is a lesson in bad behavior and maybe even ego-driven illness.

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 10,000 tweets all the way to impeachment — as his ego will tell him to do — his place in history will be destroyed.

If some sort of medical intervention comes to pass, his legacy, and maybe even his business empire, will be destroyed forever.

Plus, no matter what happens, 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, to many 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 or didn’t care if American ever became 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.

In the meantime, we await Mr. Mueller.

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom

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

Related:

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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.

Tech firms unite for ‘net neutrality’ protest

July 12, 2017
  • 12 July 2017
The BBC’s Dave Lee explains what the protest is about

The sites will display a variety of messages, or simulate the potential effects of losing the basic principle of all internet traffic being treated equally.

The US communications regulator earlier this year voted to remove an Obama-era rule that would prevent the prioritisation – or “throttling” – of data, as well as other measures campaigners consider to be detrimental to the internet.

Opponents to net neutrality say it stifles innovation and discourages investment in telecoms infrastructure.

Among the companies protesting, the headliners include Google, Facebook, Amazon, Reddit, AirBnB, Twitter and Snapchat.

Crowdfunding site Kickstarter will be involved, as will craft-selling site Etsy and dating app OkCupid. PornHub, one of the world’s most visited sites, will also be taking part.

Google sign
Google will be among those protesting. GETTY IMAGES

“Internet service providers could create special fast lanes for content providers willing to pay more,” said Corey Price, vice president of PornHub.

“That means slow streaming, which, especially in regards to online porn, is quite problematic as you can imagine.”

Campaigners told the BBC around 80,000 websites and services in all are taking part in the co-ordinated action that is designed to draw attention to a public consultation about the proposed rule reversal.

“What we want the FCC to hear, and we want members of Congress to hear, is that net neutrality is wildly popular, which it is, and we want them to stop trying to murder it,” said Sean Vitka, a lawyer for pro-net neutrality groups Demand Progress and Fight for the Future.

“It stops large companies, like internet service providers, from controlling who wins or loses on the internet. There’d be nothing to stop your ISP stopping the next Facebook, the next Google, from accessing customers equally.

“If a new company can’t access companies on the same terms as the incumbents they’re not going to have the chance to thrive.”

FCC Chair Ajit Pai
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has proposed reversing net neutrality rules for internet service providers  ERIC THAYER/GETTY

This kind of protest technique has been effective in the past.

When numerous firms went “dark” in opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act, which they argued was a threat to free speech, it led to the bill being withdrawn.

But protest groups face a tougher battle in convincing the Republican-controlled FCC headed by new commissioner Ajit Pai.

Earlier this year the department described President Obama’s rule as risking “online investment and innovation, threatening the very open internet it purported to preserve”.

It added: “Requiring ISPs to divert resources to comply with unnecessary and broad new regulatory requirements threatens to take away from their ability to make investments that benefit consumers.”

Promoting investment in infrastructure is the strongest of the anti-net neutrality arguments, with major telecoms companies arguing that the Googles and Facebooks of the world would not be able to run were it not for the high-speed internet connections offered by internet service providers.

Campaigners have countered this by suggesting it is the lure of enticing premium services like Netflix that tempt users into paying more for better internet access.

AT&T role

A more curious position came from mobile carrier AT&T which said it was supporting the protest – despite in the past being a vocal opponent of net neutrality.

“We agree that no company should be allowed to block content or throttle the download speeds of content in a discriminatory manner,” the firm said.

“So, we are joining this effort because it’s consistent with AT&T’s proud history of championing our customers’ right to an open internet and access to the internet content, applications, and devices of their choosing.”

Campaign groups gave the company little credit, pointing out that it has sought to put in place data prioritisation, which would allow web companies to pay AT&T in order to get priority – i.e. quicker – access to their users.

“AT&T are lying when they say they support net neutrality, while actively opposing it,” said Evan Greer, director of Fight for the Future, in an interview with tech news site Ars Technica.

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-40575882

Trump accused of inciting violence against the media

July 3, 2017

AFP

International news.

Donald Trump Can’t Stop Tweeting — Like an Addict That Needs Help — A Man in Self Destructive Denial — Trump bleeding badly and losing face

July 2, 2017

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. (AP) — President Donald Trump escalated an intensely personal feud with two high-profile talk show hosts Saturday, suggesting without evidence that their network is biased against him.

The president’s stream of insults has pained politicians from both parties who have appealed to him, without apparent success, to stop the 140-character bursts of character attacks and focus on running the country. Saturday evening, Trump was at it again.

Trump lashed out at Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, co-hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” on Twitter earlier Saturday. From his New Jersey golf club, he said: “Crazy Joe Scarborough and dumb as a rock Mika are not bad people, but their low rated show is dominated by their NBC bosses.”

Trump also said that Greta Van Susteren lost her nightly show on MSNBC because she “refused to go along w/ ‘Trump hate!’” MSNBC confirmed this week that Van Susteren, previously a longtime anchor at Fox News, was being replaced.

NBC declined comment on all the tweets Saturday from the president. “Morning Joe” just finished the highest-rated quarter in the show’s history. MSNBC never officially gave a reason for replacing Van Susteren’s show; it did, however, lag in the ratings compared with the network’s other shows.

Later in the day, Trump renewed his screed against the media.

“The FAKE & FRAUDULENT NEWS MEDIA is working hard to convince Republicans and others I should not use social media – but remember, I won the 2016 election with interviews, speeches and social media. I had to beat #FakeNews, and did. We will continue to WIN!” Trump said on Twitter.

And he said he was thinking about “changing the name of #FakeNewsCNN to #FraudNewsCNN.”

Trump drew broad condemnation for his tweets on Thursday calling Brzezinski “crazy” and saying she was “bleeding badly from a face-lift” when he saw them at his Florida estate. The comment was decried as sexist and vulgar by many Democrats and Republicans.

Image result

The MSNBC personalities said Friday that Trump was lying about their December encounter and they questioned his “unhealthy obsession” with their program. The hosts, who are a couple onscreen and off, also said the White House told them a damaging National Enquirer story about their relationship would “go away” if they called the president and apologized for harsh commentary. Trump quickly disputed the claim on Twitter.

Trump’s continued focus on cable television comes as Republicans are struggling to find agreement on a health care overhaul, a key promise from the president and GOP lawmakers. And Trump is heading to the annual Group of 20 meeting this week, where he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a high-stakes encounter that could put Trump’s “America First” policy to the test.

Trump also tweeted angrily at CNN on Saturday, saying the network, which he has long pilloried, “has finally been exposed as #FakeNews and garbage journalism.”

CNN recently accepted the resignations of three employees involved in a retracted story about a supposed investigation into a pre-inaugural meeting between a Trump associate and the head of a Russian investment fund. The network had no comment on Saturday’s tweet.

___

AP Television Writer David Bauder contributed to this story from New York.

************************************

From The BBC

Meanwhile, addressing military veterans at the John F Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington on Saturday, Mr Trump promised that America would “win again”, prompting cheers from the crowd as he attacked media outlets.

“The fake media is trying to silence us, but we will not let them,” he said at the Celebrate Freedom Rally. “The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House. But I’m president, and they’re not.”

The US president has more than 33 million followers on Twitter. Although it is becoming seemingly more difficult for the president to shock this audience, his 140-character posts have been condemned by both politicians and commentators.

Some consider the language used by Mr Trump as unsuitable for the holder of the highest office. On Friday, the New York Post published a three-word editorial on Mr Trump’s tweets: “Stop. Just stop.”

Media caption — Trump’s tweets: Four women, two takes

It followed the president’s tweets on Thursday mocking MSNBC Morning Joe host Mika Brzezinski, saying she had been “bleeding badly from a facelift” when he saw her six months ago.

He also verbally attacked her co-host and partner, Mr Scarborough, describing him as “psycho Joe”.

Ms Brzezinksi and Mr Scarborough hit back, accusing the president of an “unhealthy obsession” with them”. They alleged the White House had tried to blackmail them into apologising for their show’s negative coverage of President Trump.

Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski at the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner in Washington on April 25, 2015
Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski were targeted in Donald Trump’s latest Twitter tirade. Reuters photo

Senator Lindsey Graham said Mr Trump’s remarks were “beneath the office” of president, while fellow Republican Ben Sasse said “this isn’t normal and it’s beneath the dignity of your office”.

Despite the criticism, President Trump stepped up his attack on Ms Brzezinksi on Saturday, calling her “dumb as a rock”.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40471536

Related:

 (The Wall Street Journal)

MSNBC Hosts Say Trump Officials Used National Enquirer as a Threat

July 1, 2017

War of words escalates between the president and Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski

President Donald Trump during a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House on Friday.

President Donald Trump during a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House on Friday. PHOTO: OLIVIER DOULIERY/ZUMA PRESS

A war of words between President Donald Trump and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski escalated Friday, with the television co-hosts saying administration officials offered to help quash a National Enquirer article if they eased up on their coverage of the president.

Mr. Trump took to Twitter to deny that assertion.

In an op-ed in the Washington Post on Friday, Mr. Scarborough and Ms. Brzezinski wrote that they had ignored threats from the administration about their coverage of Mr. Trump.

“This year, top White House staff members warned that the National Enquirer was planning to publish a negative article about us unless we begged the president to have the story spiked. We ignored their desperate pleas,” they wrote in the Post.

During their “Morning Joe” show on Friday, Mr. Scarborough elaborated on that claim, saying he had received a phone call informing him that the National Enquirer intended to run a negative story about him and Ms. Brzezinski. The callers, whom he described as “at the very top of the administration” but didn’t identify by name, said that if he called Mr. Trump and apologized for their earlier presidential coverage, Mr. Trump “will pick up the phone and basically spike this story.”

Mr. Trump rejected that version of events, saying instead that Mr. Scarborough called Mr. Trump to stop the article’s publication. “He called me to stop a National Enquirer article. I said no!” Mr. Trump tweeted.

Watched low rated @Morning_Joe for first time in long time. FAKE NEWS. He called me to stop a National Enquirer article. I said no! Bad show

Yet another lie. I have texts from your top aides and phone records. Also, those records show I haven’t spoken with you in many months. https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/880771685460344832 

Mr. Scarborough was quick to respond, tweeting: “I have texts from your top aides and phone records. Also, those records show I haven’t spoken with you in many months.”

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Trump is longtime friends with David Pecker, chief executive of American Media Inc., which owns the National Enquirer. Mr. Pecker wasn’t immediately available for comment.

The Enquirer supported Mr. Trump during the campaign, endorsing him and publishing columns by Mr. Trump as the primary race got under way. The Wall Street Journal also reported last year that American Media had agreed to pay a former Playboy model $150,000 for her story of an alleged affair with Mr. Trump, but then didn’t publish it.

In a statement, Dylan Howard, chief content officer and vice president of American Media, said the publication had no knowledge of the situation involving Mr. Trump.

“At the beginning of June we accurately reported a story that recounted the relationship between Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, the truth of which is not in dispute,” said Mr. Howard. “At no time did we threaten either Joe or Mika or their children in connection with our reporting on the story. We have no knowledge of any discussions between the White House and Joe and Mika about our story, and absolutely no involvement in those discussions.”

The Enquirer in early June published an article headlined “ ‘Morning Joe’ Sleazy Cheating Scandal!” Ms. Brzezinski and Mr. Scarborough, who were both previously married, announced in early May that they are engaged.

The scuffle over the Enquirer emerged as part of a broader discussion the news anchors were having about the president and what they say is an “unhealthy obsession” with their morning show.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump drew widespread condemnation, including from members of his own party, after he attacked Ms. Brzezinski on Twitter, calling her “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” and saying she was “bleeding badly from a face-lift” when the co-hosts were at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida around New Year’s Eve.

In their Washington Post piece, Mr. Scarborough and Ms. Brzezinski wrote that they have known Mr. Trump for more than a decade “and have some fond memories of our relationship together.”

In a statement Thursday, MSNBC said: “It’s a sad day when the president spends his time bullying, lying and spewing petty personal attacks instead of doing his job.”

Write to Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg at jeffrey.trachtenberg@wsj.com and Sarah Rabil at Sarah.Rabil@wsj.com

Appeared in the July 1, 2017, print edition as ‘TV Hosts: Tabloid Used as Threat.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/msnbc-hosts-say-trump-officials-used-national-enquirer-as-a-threat-1498843044?mod=e2twp