Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Government’

US agencies banned from using Russia’s Kaspersky software

September 14, 2017

Federal agencies in the US have 90 days to wipe Kaspersky software from their computers. Officials are concerned about the Russian company’s ties to the Kremlin and possible threats to national security.

Headquarters of Internet security giant Kaspersky in Moscow (Getty Images/AFP/K. Kudryavtsev)

The administration of US President Donald Trump has ordered government agencies to remove products made by Russian company Kaspersky Labs from their computers.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said Wednesday it was concerned that the cybersecurity firm was susceptible to pressure from Moscow and thus a potential threat to national security.

Read more: Facebook, Russia and the US elections – what you need to know

DHS said in a statement that it was “concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies,” as well as Russian laws that might compel Kaspersky to hand over information to the government.

But the makers of the popular anti-virus software have said “no credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organization as the accusations are based on false allegations and inaccurate assumptions.”

US tech retailer Best Buy confirmed earlier Wednesday that it would no longer sell Kaspersky products, but has declined to give further details on the decision.

Ties between Kaspersky, Kremlin ‘alarming’

Civilian government agencies have 90 days to completely remove Kaspersky software from their computers. The products have already been banned in the Pentagon.

US congressional leaders have applauded the move. Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen said the “strong ties between Kaspersky Lab and the Kremlin are alarming and well-documented,” and asked the DHS if the company’s products were used for any critical infrastructure, such as for voting systems, banks and energy supply.

Although Kaspersky Labs was founded by a KGB-trained entrepreneur, Eugene Kaspersky, and has done work for Russian intelligence, the company has repeatedly denied carrying out espionage on behalf of President Vladimir Putin and his government.

es/cmk (AP, Reuters)

http://www.dw.com/en/us-agencies-banned-from-using-russias-kaspersky-software/a-40500232

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Iraqi Kurds to Vote on Independence Despite Region’s Fears — “They earned their own Independence.”

September 14, 2017

IRBIL, Iraq — Iraq’s Kurds vote this month on whether or not they support independence for their enclave in the country’s north, a step toward their long-held dream of statehood. The outcome, almost certain to be “yes,” will further rattle a region still engulfed in the fight against the Islamic State group.

A “yes” vote won’t mean immediate independence for the Kurdish region since the referendum does not have legal force. But Kurdish officials say they will use it to pressure the Iraqi government in Baghdad to come to the negotiating table and formalize their independence bid.

Already the Sept. 25 vote is fueling tensions. Baghdad and Iraq’s neighbors, Iran and Turkey, which worry it will encourage their own sizeable Kurdish populations, have all demanded it be called off. Iraq’s prime minister has called the referendum unconstitutional and warned of potential violence in territory claimed by both the Kurds and Baghdad. The United States, the Kurds’ top ally, has tried to persuade them to postpone the vote, fearing it will open a new chapter of instability even as U.S.-backed forces try to recapture the last remaining IS-held pockets in Iraq.

The results could mark an important, historic shift. Since Saddam Hussein’s fall in 2003, the Kurdish government has held off on dreams of statehood, saying it would try working within a united Iraq, albeit with a large degree of autonomy. A vote for independence would proclaim their determination to go it alone.

If they eventually do break away, it would be the most significant redrawing of borders in the Middle East since the creation of Israel in 1948. It will split Iraq, tearing away a Switzerland-sized chunk, including key oil resources, and leaving the remainder with an Arab population split between a Shiite Muslim majority and Sunni minority. The Kurdish self-rule zone officially makes up about 10 percent of Iraq’s territory, with a population of about 3 million, around 8 percent of Iraq’s total 37 million.

Further adding to the explosive mix, the Kurds have expanded control beyond their enclave’s formal borders, increasing its size by more than half. In fighting with IS, they seized parts of northern Nineveh province and the oil-rich central region Kirkuk, territory claimed by the Baghdad government.

The Kurds say they intend to keep those areas. Some will likely be bargaining chips in negotiations on independence — but they could also become flashpoints for violence.

In a recent sermon, the leader of a powerful Shiite militia warned that his forces were ready to fight for those territories, saying they would be considered Iraqi land occupied by Kurds if independence goes through.

“We have experience in dealing with occupation forces,” Sheikh Qais al-Khazali told worshippers, referring to the fight his Asaib Ahl al-Haq group previously waged against U.S. troops in Iraq.

There are brakes on the Kurds’ independence drive. The Kurdish region is wrestling with an economic crisis deepened by reduced oil revenues, and its government is mired in divisions. Many Kurds are hesitant to break away without ensuring international support or recognition. The referendum in part may aim to show the United States, Baghdad, Turkey and Iran that they have to find a peaceful way toward a Kurdish state.

Large-scale violence following the vote is unlikely, though there could be small-scale friction in disputed areas, said Kirk Sowell, publisher of the newsletter Inside Iraqi Politics. The regional reaction will also likely be muted because the referendum won’t immediately change anything, he said.

Still, Iraq’s Kurds are stockpiling goods in case Turkey or Iran close borders in retaliation for the vote.

Large Kurdish populations in Turkey and Iran are pressing for greater rights — with fringes demanding outright autonomy. Turkey has battled Kurdish rebels, and unrest has been common in Iran’s northwestern Kurdish region. Hiking Turkish and Iranian concerns, Syria’s Kurds are moving aggressively toward their own self-rule after carving out territory across northern Syria in that country’s war.

Iran described the Iraqi Kurds’ referendum as “dangerous and provocative.”

“If Iraq’s division begins, it will spill over to Syria and Turkey and a war of separatism will begin which may make the region insecure for 20 years,” said Mohsen Rezaei, the secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, a senior government body.

On Thursday, Turkey said “there will most certainly be a price to pay” for the Kurds’ insistence on holding the referendum, without elaborating.

Also wary of the vote are non-Kurdish minorities in the Kurds’ newly captured territories.

In Kirkuk, local lawmakers voted last month in favor of participating in the referendum. But 14 lawmakers from local minorities — Turkmens and Arabs — boycotted, so it was the provincial parliament’s Kurdish members who pushed through the measure.

Despite the pressure, the Kurds are determined to hold the vote.

Denied their own state after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, they have long pushed for independence. They were brutally oppressed under Saddam, whose military in the 1980s killed at least 50,000 Kurds, many with chemical weapons.

The self-rule Kurdistan Regional Government with its capital in Irbil was established in 1992 after the U.S. enforced a no-fly zone across the north following the Gulf War. After the 2003 U.S.-led invasion ousted Saddam, the autonomous region secured constitutional recognition.

“I hope the referendum will succeed. We have been in the same circle with the Arabs for 50 years. We cannot trust them,” said Saber Salim, an old man sitting outside Irbil’s citadel. He said his family was driven out of Kirkuk during the Saddam era and his brother was killed in clashes with Saddam’s forces in the 1980s.

Ali Awni, a leading member of the ruling Kurdish party KDP, said this is “the perfect time to declare independence.”

“Turkey has internal political problems, the Iranians are fighting on different fronts, Iraq is in a miserable state … and Syria is dead,” he said.

But some Kurds who oppose the referendum believe the autonomous region’s president, Masoud Barzani, is trying to distract from failures and entrench his own position. The Kurdish parliament was suspended in 2015 and Barzani has remained in office beyond his term, with oil prices harming his government’s ability to pay salaries amid charges that security forces are intimidating referendum opponents.

“By rejecting the referendum, we want to say no to the elite who have ruled the region for 26 years,” said lawmaker Raboun Maarouf, who heads the anti-referendum campaign. But he says he is not opposed to independence in principle.

Kardo Abdulkhaleq, an Irbil shopkeeper, said the divisive mood makes him fear a repeat of heavy fighting that erupted between Kurdish parties in the mid-1990s.

“My concern is that we’d end up like South Sudan or other places that got their independence and then fell into civil war.”

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Salaheddin reported from Baghdad. Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai contributed to this report.

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Iraq’s Kurds Have Earned Their Right to Independence

The U.S. should offer full-throated support, not a quibble over timing.
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The very model of a modern ethnic group seeking self-determination.

 Photographer: Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images

Consider the plight of an ethnic group seeking self-determination in the Middle East.

Its leaders have renounced terrorism. Their militias fight alongside U.S. soldiers. While their neighbors built weapons of mass destruction, they built a parliament, universities and the infrastructure for an independent state. And they pursue independence through a recognized legal process, enshrined in their country’s constitution.

I am, of course, talking about Iraq’s Kurds. On Sept. 25, they will vote in a referendum to endorse a state of their own.

One might think the U.S. government would see the Kurds as ideal candidates for statehood in a region where self-determination is often sought through violence. But the Trump administration so far has worked assiduously to dissuade the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq from giving its people the opportunity to vote for independence.

The U.S. arguments against the statehood referendum revolve mainly around timing, according to both U.S. and Kurdish officials. Next year, Iraqis themselves are supposed to have elections. A vote to break away from Iraq would weaken Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at a moment when he has been helpful in keeping Iraq together and leading the fight against the Islamic State.

What’s more, the Kurdish referendum will offer Iraqis in disputed areas like Sinjar, and most importantly the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, the opportunity to choose between Iraq and an independent Kurdish state. Asking citizens to vote for independence in areas that are already disputed within Iraq is a recipe for trouble, U.S. diplomats say. They want the Kurds to reconsider.

Michael Rubin, an expert on the Kurds at the American Enterprise Institute, told me the referendum “is being done for the wrong motives.” He said the decision to apply the referendum to people in Kirkuk and other disputed areas “will guarantee conflict.” “If they were to go independent, immediately Kurdistan would have a fight over its borders,” he said.

These objections, however well intentioned, have not deterred the initiative. The Iraqi constitution promised such a vote, and Kurdish leaders have delayed it for years. It is time for Iraq’s Kurds to at least formally convey what anyone who has followed this issue already knows: Kurds deserve their own country.

Aziz Ahmad, an adviser to Masrour Barzani, the national security adviser to the Kurdistan Regional Government, told me senior delegations who traveled to Washington and Baghdad asked the U.S. for some assurance in exchange for flexibility. “We told them, ‘If you have disagreements on the timing, give us formal guarantees of when we should hold the referendum.’ And they never did,” he said.

Instead of treating this like a problem, President Donald Trump should see the Kurdish referendum as an opportunity. Here we have an ethnic minority that has done — for the most part — everything we ask of groups seeking statehood. Compare this to the Palestinians, who have squandered billions in aid and years of exquisite international attention, yet still lack the kind of functioning institutions the world takes for granted in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region.

“We hear daily statements about the two-state solution and the right of self determination for the Palestinians, by the same officials who tell us we cannot have a vote to express the will of Kurds to have their own country,” Hoshyar Zebari, a former foreign minister for both the Kurdish region and Iraq, told me. “This is a double standard.”

There are of course important differences between the Palestinian and Kurdish cases for independence. Because the Kurds are not Arabs, their cause never got strong support from Arab states in the region, like the Palestinian cause has. And Israel never committed the kinds of large-scale war crimes against Palestinians that Saddam Hussein and Turkish governments have against Kurds. Also Kurds make no claim to Baghdad, the way both Palestinians and Israelis makes claims to Jerusalem. There is also still considerable support within Israel for a two-state solution, whereas there is no such support for Kurdish independence among Iraqi Arabs.

But the most consequential difference between the Palestinians’ case for statehood and the Kurds’ may end up being U.S. national interests.

Ten years ago, the U.S. needed to at least support a peace process for Israel and the Palestinians as a way to persuade Arab allies like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to join American efforts against Iran. The presidency of Barack Obama and the emboldened predations of Iran changed all of that. Today, America’s Arab allies in the region are frustrated at the lack of a more robust policy to counter Iran, peace process or not.

The Kurdistan regional government today is by no means perfect. Its politics are still dominated mainly by two families. They are three years past due for elections on a new government, though the region’s president, Masoud Barzani, today says there will be new elections in November, and he has pledged he will not stand for office. Corruption, like in all Middle Eastern governments, remains a problem.

But compared with its neighbors, the Kurdistan regional government is Switzerland. Kurdish leaders do not name parks and streets after suicide bombers. Kurdish leaders have implored their citizens to fight alongside the U.S. against Iraq’s common enemies. The Kurdish people do not burn American flags. Most of them are not gulled by Muslim fanatics. They have pursued statehood the way we hope the Palestinians would.

The Kurdish referendum this month closes a chapter that began 25 years ago, when President George H.W. Bush in the aftermath of the first Gulf War established a no-fly zone to protect Kurdish families driven into the mountains by Saddam Hussein’s storm troopers.

In the last quarter century the Kurdish people have built a state worthy of independence, under the protection of the U.S. military. That should be a source of pride for all Americans. Our president shouldn’t quibble over timing. The administration should welcome Kurdish independence.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-09-12/iraq-s-kurds-have-earned-their-right-to-independence

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Rejects Calls to Resign, Defends President Trump — Yale alumni said it was his “moral obligation” to resign “in protest of President Trump’s support of Nazism and white supremacy.”

August 20, 2017

‘Some of these issues are far more complicated than we are led to believe by the mass media,’ Treasury chief says

Steven Mnuchin is pictured. | AP Photo

 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, citing his own Jewish heritage, said he understood the long history of violence and hatred against Jews and other minorities. | Susan Walsh/AP Photo

 

Aug. 19, 2017 10:20 p.m. ET

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin rejected calls for him to resign in protest of President Donald Trump’s response to violence at a white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend, and defended the president in a statement Saturday evening.

Mr. Mnuchin condemned the “actions of those filled with hate and with the intent to harm others.”

“While I find it hard to believe I should have to defend myself on this, or…

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From Politico
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Mnuchin, facing calls for resignation, defends Trump

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Saturday defended President Donald Trump and called out his critics amid growing condemnation of the president’s response to racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend.

“I don’t believe the allegations against the president are accurate,” Mnuchin said in a statement. “I believe that having highly talented men and women in our country surrounding the president in his administration should be reassuring to you and all the American people.”

Earlier this week, a group of Mnuchin’s fellow Yale alumni drafted a letter saying it was his “moral obligation” to resign “in protest of President Trump’s support of Nazism and white supremacy.” Trump was criticized after the Charlottesville incident for saying “both sides” were to blame for the unrest.

Mnuchin on Saturday condemned the actions of “those filled with hate and with the intent to harm others.”

Citing his own Jewish heritage, he said he understood the long history of violence and hatred against Jews and other minorities.

“While I find it hard to believe I should have to defend myself on this, or the president, I feel compelled to let you know that the president in no way, shape or form, believes that neo-Nazi and other hate groups who endorse violence are equivalent to groups that demonstrate in peaceful and lawful ways,” he said.

Mnuchin said he was “familiar with the culture wars being fought in our country.”

“Some of these issues are far more complicated than we are led to believe by the mass media, and if it were so simple, such actions would have been taken by other presidents, governors, and mayors, long before President Trump was elected by the American people,” he said.

Mnuchin then went after Trump’s critics.

“Our president deserves the opportunity to propose his agenda and to do so without the attempts by those who opposed him in the primaries, in the general election and beyond to distract the administration and the American people from these most important policy issues – jobs, economic growth, and national security,” he said.

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/19/mnuchin-defends-trump-charlottesville-241830

Venezuela rejects Trump sanctions — Total cut in oil exports to the U.S. would slash Venezuelan government income by 75 percent, limit ability to repay debts to China

July 19, 2017

JPMorgan smashes Wall Street estimates, but shares decline on outlook — U.S. Business Still Handcuffed By Government

July 14, 2017
  • JPMorgan reports much better-than-expected second quarter earnings.
  • However, the bank lowers its net interest income forecast for the year.
  • Trading revenue also fell.

JPMorgan Chase on Friday reported second-quarter earnings that beat on the top and bottom line as strong lending results offset declines in trading.

However, its stock turned down in premarket trading because of its lower expectations for lending income.

Adjusted earnings per share: $1.71 versus $1.58 estimated by Thomson Reuters analysts’ consensus.

Revenue: $26.41 billion versus $24.96 billion estimated by Thomson Reuters analysts’ consensus.

Shares briefly rose 1 percent in premarket trade before turning to negative 1 percent. In addition to the concerns about lending income, traders believed much of the strong results were already priced into the stock. Shares hit an all-time high on July 6 and are up nearly 8 percent this year.

The bank lowered its net interest income forecast for the year by about half a billion dollars to a $4 billion increase from the prior year. JPMorgan’s Chief Financial Officer Marianne Lake said on the firm’s conference call that the majority of that reduction came from lower-than-expected net interest income in the second quarter.

Gerard Cassidy, banking analyst at RBC Capital Markets, pointed out on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that the lowered net interest income estimate “certainly is affecting the way the stock is going to be trading today.”

“JPMorgan has put up remarkably strong loan growth and it’s slowed down a little bit this quarter, but we also saw the net interest margin, which is very critical for all the banks, that came in lower than expected due to higher funding costs,” he said. “So I think that’s the reason why they’re guiding down on the net interest revenue for the year.”

JPMorgan two-day performance, extended hours

Source: FactSet

Including a $406 million after-tax benefit from a legal settlement, the bank reported second quarter earnings of $1.82 a share.

In the second quarter of 2016, the bank reported earnings of $1.55 per share on revenue of $25.2 billion.

“We continued to post very solid results against a stable-to improving global economic backdrop,” JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said in a release. “The U.S. consumer remains healthy, evidenced in our strong underlying performance in Consumer & Community Banking.”

Average loans in consumer and community banking rose 3 percent from last year, while core loans climbed 9 percent. For the rest of the year, JPMorgan said it expects average core loan growth to rise 8 percent.

However, overall market trading revenue declined 14 percent year on year. Fixed income trading fell 19 percent “due to reduced flows driven by sustained low volatility and tighter credit spreads, against a strong prior year,” the bank said.

Revenue from stock trading fell 1 percent year on year.

The earnings benefit from legal costs relates to a settlement with federal regulators over the bank’s acquisition of Washington Mutual.

The bank also forecast adjusted expenses of about $58 billion for the year, unchanged from prior estimates.

Return on equity rose to 12 percent, up from 11 percent the prior quarter and 10 percent a year ago.

Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Wall Street was watching whether trading revenues have held up amid low market volatility. In the first quarter, the bank reported a 17 percent year-on-year increase in revenue from fixed income trading.

Loan growth and any comments from Dimon during the earnings conference call later Friday could shed light on the state of economic growth.

JPMorgan said in late June it authorized share buybacks of up to $19.4 billion through June 30, 2018, its largest since the financial crisis.

JPMorgan and 33 other big banks passed the second round of the Federal Reserve’s annual stress tests in late June when the central bank did not object to their capital return plans. Only Capital One Financial was given conditional approval of its plan. All 34 banks also passed the Dodd-Frank Act Stress Tests for the third time by topping the Fed’s requirements for being able to handle a severe recession.

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/14/jpmorgan-earnings.html

Related:

JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon angry at the dysfunction, ‘stupid s—‘ in Washington DC

July 14, 2017

Jamie Dimon blows up at DC’s dysfunction, says he’s tired of ‘listening to the stupid s—‘

CNBC
JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon

Larry Downing | Reuters
JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon expressed frustration at the U.S. federal government during the company’s earnings conference call Friday.

“It’s almost embarrassment to be an American citizen traveling around the world and listening to the stupid s— we have to deal with in this country,” Dimon said in response to an analyst question.

“Since the Great Recession, which is now 8 years old, we’ve been growing at 1.5 to 2 percent in spite of stupidity and political gridlock, because the American business sector is powerful and strong,” he said. ‘What I’m saying is that it would be much stronger growth if there were more intelligent decisions and less  gridlock .”

 Image result for JPMorgan Chase, signage, photos

JPMorgan Chase reported earnings that handily beat Wall Street estimates Friday. However, the bank lowered its forecast for lending revenue.

Shares erased earlier gains to fall more than 1 percent in premarket trade.

Here’s the full rant, according to the FactSet transcript of the call:

Since the Great Recession which is now eight years old we’ve been growing at 1.5 to 2% despite the stupidity and political gridlock. Because the American business sector is powerful and strong and is going to grow regardless of they went to feed their kids and want to buy home they want to do things the same as American businesses what I’m saying is it would be much stronger growth had we made intelligent decisions and that gridlock, and thank you for pointing it out because I’m going to be a broken record until this gets done, we are unable to build bridges, unable to build airports, not graduating.

I was just in France in Argentina Israel Ireland we met with the Prime Minister of India and China it’s amazing to me that every single one of those countries understands that practical policies to promote business growth is good for the average citizens of those countries for jobs and wages and somehow this great American free enterprise system we no longer get it.

My view is corporate taxation is critical to that by the way regarding capital brings overseas, which is why the $2 trillion overseas benefiting all these other countries don’t like that, so if we don’t get our act together we can still grow. It’s just unfortunate but it’s hurting us, it’s hurting the body politic, it’s hurting the average American that we don’t have these right policies. So no in spite of gridlock we will grow at 1 ½ or 2%.

I don’t buy the argument that we are relegated to this effort. We are not.  This administration can make breakthroughs in taxes and infrastructure ready for reform we have become one of the most bureaucratic confusing litigious societies on the planet it’s almost an embarrassment be an American citizen traveling around the world and listening to the stupid s— we have to deal with in this country and at one point we have to get our act together. We won’t do what were supposed to for the average Americans and unfortunately people write about this like corporations is not corporations competitive taxes are important for business and business growth which is important to jobs in wage growth and we should be making that along to every single one of you every time you talk to a client.

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/14/jpms-jamie-dimon-blows-up-at-washington-on-earnings-call.html

Afghanistan: New U.S. Troops to Go In as Islamic State Fighters Killed in Tora Bora, Nangarhar Province

June 17, 2017

KABUL, Afghanistan — A top Afghan security official says he welcomes the U.S. government decision to send an additional 4,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

Gen. Tariq Shah Bahrami, acting Afghan defense minister, said Saturday the decision was in consultation with the Afghan government. The mission for the new U.S. troops will be to train and advise Afghan security forces.

Meanwhile, Bahrami says army security forces recaptured Tora Bora in eastern Nangarhar province. He said at least 22 Islamic State group fighters were killed and 10 others were wounded in a clearance operation.

A major plan of the Islamic State group was to establish the Khorasan province but it has been foiled by security forces.

Related:

U.S. top court to weigh Jordan-based bank’s liability for militant attacks

April 3, 2017

Reuters

By Andrew Chung | WASHINGTON
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Image result for U.S. Supreme Court, photos
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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider reviving litigation seeking to hold Arab Bank Plc financially liable for militant attacks in Israel and the Palestinian territories that accused the Jordan-based bank of being the “paymaster” to militant groups.

The justices agreed to hear an appeal by roughly 6,000 plaintiffs, who included relatives of non-U.S. citizens killed in such attacks and survivors of the incidents, of a lower court ruling throwing out the litigation.

The plaintiffs accused Arab Bank under a U.S. law called the Alien Tort Statute of deliberately financing terrorism, including suicide bombings and other attacks. They are hoping to overturn a 2015 New York federal appeals court ruling that the bank could not be sued under the statute because it is a corporation.

Arab Bank building in Zürich, Switzerland.

The Alien Tort Statute, a law dating back to 1789, lets non-U.S. citizens seek damages in U.S. courts for human rights violations abroad. The lead plaintiff in the case is Joseph Jesner, whose British citizen son was killed at age 19 in a 2002 suicide bombing of a bus in Tel Aviv.

The plaintiffs filed several lawsuits under the law in Brooklyn federal court, claiming Arab Bank used its New York branch to transfer money and “serve as a ‘paymaster’ for international terrorists.”

The transfers helped Hamas and other groups fund attacks and reward families of the perpetrators between 1995 and 2005, the suits alleged.

The bank said in court papers that the U.S. government has called it a constructive partner in the fight against terrorism financing. The bank said only four transactions out of 500,000 involved “designated terrorists” by the U.S. government, and they were the result of machine or human error.

The bank also cited a separate 2010 case, Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum, in which the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that corporations cannot be sued under the Alien Tort Statute.

After reviewing that case, the Supreme Court in 2013 narrowed the law’s reach, saying claims must sufficiently “touch and concern” the United States to overcome the presumption that the Alien Tort Statute does not cover foreign conduct.

But the high court declined to explicitly decide whether the 2nd Circuit ruling on corporate liability was correct.

Based on the Kiobel ruling, the 2nd Circuit threw out the litigation against Arab Bank.

The plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court, urging it to decide once and for all whether or not corporations are shielded over foreign conduct.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham)

Terrorists have new ways to ‘plant bombs in laptops to get past airport security undetected’

April 1, 2017

Image result for laptop, photos

  • Terrorist organizations have developed innovative ways to plant bombs in electronic devices, new intel shows
  • Bombs are being built into laptops to allow the devices to contain enough power to briefly power on and fool security screeners
  • US intelligence believe terrorists are testing the effectiveness of hidden bombs on airport security equipment 
  • Intelligence prompted the US bans on large electronics in carry-on bags for direct flights from certain Middle East and North African nations

Terrorists may now be using laptops to conceal bombs that could evade airport security, US security intel sources say.

New government analysis suggests that terrorist organizations like ISIS and al-Qaida have developed innovative ways to plant bombs in electronic devices, CNN reports.

US intelligence believe terrorists are testing the effectiveness of their hidden explosives using commonly used airport security equipment.

The bombs are possibly being built into laptops in a way that allows the devices to contain enough power to briefly power on and fool security screeners.

Passengers on direct flights to the US from certain Middle Eastern countries have been banned from having large electronics in carry-on baggage following revelations from new intelligence

Passengers on direct flights to the US from certain Middle Eastern countries have been banned from having large electronics in carry-on baggage following revelations from new intelligence

The intelligence was one of the reasons behind the Trump administration’s recent decision to ban large electronics in carry-on baggage for direct flights from certain Middle Eastern and North African nations.

America’s Department of Homeland Security announced on March 21 that passengers on airlines flying directly to the U.S. from 10 airports in eight countries will only be allowed to bring cellphones on board with them.

Other electronics, including laptops and tablets, will be indefinitely banned from the passenger cabin, and must be checked in checked baggage if they are brought on the plane at all.

Checked bags are forced to undergo stronger security detection.

The British government added legitimacy to the concerns by following through with their similar ban.

New government analysis suggests that terrorist organizations like ISIS and al-Qaida have developed innovative ways to plant bombs in electronic devices 

New government analysis suggests that terrorist organizations like ISIS and al-Qaida have developed innovative ways to plant bombs in electronic devices

‘As a matter of policy, we do not publicly discuss specific intelligence information. However, evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation, to include smuggling explosive devices in electronics,’ the Department of Homeland Security said.

‘The U.S. government continually re-assesses existing intelligence and collects new intelligence. This allows DHS and TSA to constantly evaluate our aviation security processes and policies and make enhancements when they are deemed necessary to keep passengers safe.

‘As always, all air travelers are subject to a robust security system that employs multiple layers of security, both seen and unseen.’

The new carry on restrictions come a little more than a year after the bombing of Daallo Airlines Flight 159, a flight from Somalia to Djibouti.

The bombing took out a piece of the plane a little more than a row, but only resulted in the death of the bomber and two other injuries. It was believed that the bomb was rigged to a timer device on the bomber’s laptop.

The flight had been delayed by 20 minutes, so it was believed that the timing of the bomb was premature and may have been intended to occur about halfway through the flight.

The new carry on restrictions come a little more than a year after the bombing of Daallo Airlines Flight 159, a flight from Somalia to Djibouti. The bombing took out a piece of the plane a little more than a row, but only resulted in the death of the bomber and two other injuries

The new carry on restrictions come a little more than a year after the bombing of Daallo Airlines Flight 159, a flight from Somalia to Djibouti. The bombing took out a piece of the plane a little more than a row, but only resulted in the death of the bomber and two other injuries

It was believed that the bomb was rigged to a timer device on the bomber's laptop

It was believed that the bomb was rigged to a timer device on the bomber’s laptop

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4370062/Terrorists-building-laptop-bombs-evade-airport-security.html#ixzz4czuh2kcF
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Vladimir Putin DENIES tampering in presidential election and says: ‘Watch my lips: NO’ — (She lost without help from me)

March 30, 2017

Image may contain: 1 person, closeup

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has forcefully denied claims that Russia interfered in the U.S. elections
  • He spoke at a panel on Arctic issues in Archangelsk, Russia just as a Senate intelligence hearing on Russian interference was about to get underway
  • Calls the claims of interference ‘fictional, illusory and provocations, lies’
  • The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia interfered in the elections and directed hacking into leading Democratic figures and groups
  •  Putin said he wanted to establish ‘good partnership’ with the U.S.
  • Accuses U.S. officials of playing the ‘anti-Russian card’ 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied interfering in the U.S. elections, and he did it by using a famous quote from a U.S. president.

‘Watch my lips, no,’ Putin said.

The Russian strongman made the claim when asked point-blank whether Russia had interfered and whether any evidence to the contrary would get found.

He invoked former President Reagan, although the ‘Read my lips’ quote was actually used by his successor, George H.W. Bush, speaking at a CNBC event on Arctic issues.

Putin said claims of Russian interference were ‘lies’ used for ‘domestic American politics.

'WATCH MY LIPS': Russian President Vladimir Putin emphatically denied interfering in the U.S. elections, saying 'Watch my lips, no'

‘WATCH MY LIPS’: Russian President Vladimir Putin emphatically denied interfering in the U.S. elections, saying ‘Watch my lips, no’

‘All those things are fictional, illusory and provocations, lies,’ Putin continued.

‘All these are used for domestic American political agendas. The anti-Russian card is played by different political forces inside the United States to trade on that and consolidate their positions inside.’

Then he delivered a friendly message to U.S. audiences.

‘We said on numerous occasions and I reiterate that we are confident … And know for sure that opinion polls in the Unites States show that very many people are … friendly towards the Russian Federation and I’d like to tell these people that we perceive and regard the United States as a great power with which we want to establish good partnership relations.’

Putin made the statement when asked point blank about election interference during a panel on Arctic issues

Putin made the statement when asked point blank about election interference during a panel on Arctic issues

Russian President Vladimir Putin denied interfering in the U.S. elections by paraphrasing the famous 'Read my lips' quote. Here he attends a meeting at the polar camp at Alexandra Land Island on March 29, 2017 in Franz Joseph Land, Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin denied interfering in the U.S. elections by paraphrasing the famous ‘Read my lips’ quote. Here he attends a meeting at the polar camp at Alexandra Land Island on March 29, 2017 in Franz Joseph Land, Russia

Putin said claims of Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election were 'fictional, illusory and provocations, lies'

Putin said claims of Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election were ‘fictional, illusory and provocations, lies’

The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia interfered in the elections and directed hacking into leading Democratic figures and groups.

On Wednesday, the Senate Intelligence committee begins its probe of Russian interference, where it will also pursue alleged contacts between Donald Trump associates and Russia.

He spoke at a forum on Arctic issues in Archangelsk, the site of a botched U.S. invasion of the Soviet Union in 1918.

Putin’s claims are at odds with those being made by senior officials from both parties in the U.S. government.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Wednesday: ‘There was a very serious effort made by Mr. Putin and his government, his organization, to interfere in major ways with our basic fundamental democratic process,’ speaking at a conference in New Delhi.

‘In some quarters, that would be considered an act of war,’ he added.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday in an interview with CBS News, ‘We all knew Russia was trying to meddle with our election. And we already know right now they’re trying to do it with other countries.’

Ryan continued: ‘The world’s super power, the American government needs to do everything we possibly can not only to undercut what they’re trying to do but to uncover what they’re trying to do and help our allies prevent it from happening.’

Putin also said Thursday he is ready to meet with Trump if Finland hosts an Arctic summit. Finland is set to take over the rotating leadership of the Arctic Council.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4364422/Putin-DENIES-tampering-presidential-election.html#ixzz4coWuIOyC
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