“Facebook users data stored in Russia” – Google News: Facebook “misled” Parliament on data misuse, UK committee says – Wink News

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Trump’s military doctrine and its implications


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Trump’s domest­ic compul­sions and milita­ry doctri­ne have drasti­c ramifi­cation­s for its allies­

The writer is a PhD candidate at the National University of Science and Technology and is a researcher at Islamabad Policy Research Institute

The writer is a PhD candidate at the National University of Science and Technology and is a researcher at Islamabad Policy Research Institute

None of the presidents in American history has scuttled so many agreements as Donald Trump did in the past two years. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Paris Climate Agreement, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF) and the Iran Nuclear Deal are glaring examples of Trump’s flip- flop policies.

Trump has mercurial tendencies with unexpected and unpredicted decisions. He is following the doctrine of disengagement from various overseas military commitments, mainly Syria and Afghanistan. He wants other Nato member countries to contribute more in the organisation. Southeast Asian allies have also been asked to pay more for their security. Consequently, his actions have created anxiety amongst American allies. Why does Trump maintain such fickle attitude on strategic front?

Primarily, it is because of American domestic politics and Trump’s own campaign promises that compelled him to adopt this unpopular and premature military doctrine. In American history, reelection has been remained top priority of presidents in the first term and in the second term they try to find possible place in history.

There is a general consensus that chaotic regions particularly the Middle East and South Asia protect American strategic and economic interests. The sense of insecurity provides an environment conducive to business for military-industrial complex of the US. For instance, the US signed a deal worth $20 billion to supply F-15 jets to Qatar amid the latter’s insecurity owing to blockade by Arab neighbours. These defence contractors are the backbone for election campaigns in American politics. The American Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Rule 501 (C) (4) allows groups and individuals to lobby for Congress and presidential candidates through generous donations for political campaigns. Due to these generous donations, policymakers in general and presidents of the US in particular try to secure interests of these individuals and groups, which largely affect the foreign policy of the US.

Therefore, the role of defence contractors is vital in Trump’s abrupt withdrawal from Syria, exit from the Iran nuclear deal and unilateral drawdown from Afghanistan. Peace in the Middle East and the Iran nuclear deal is detrimental to their economic interests. For instance, Lockheed Martin that manufactures F-22 fighter jets had lobbied against the Iran nuclear deal and financially supported Trump’s election campaign. It had hired Heritage Foundation, which wrote a series of articles and policy papers to manage perceptions of American public and policymakers. Resultantly, Trump has expanded sanctions on Iran and enhanced arms sales to American allies in the region.

Trump’s domestic compulsions and military doctrine have drastic ramifications for its allies in South Asia, the Middle East and beyond. The Trump military doctrine has been openly criticised by Syrian Kurds and the Afghan government. In case of Syria, the unilateral withdrawal of the US from the Kurdish region has provided an opportunity to Turkey and the Assad regime to regain control of the Kurdish region. Turkey has many times threatened invasion of northeastern Syria. This is why the Syrian Kurds have considered withdrawal as betrayal.

In Afghanistan, it is widely believed that the announcement of drawdown during the next 18 months will not only boost the morale of the Afghan Taliban but also may damage the legitimacy of the Afghan government. Moreover, the insecurity would further damage FDI and the already fragile economy of the country. This is why the Afghan government has labelled it a premature decision.

To conclude, Trump has been trying to prove to the American public that he is a man of his words. He wants to be seen different from other American politicians who often speak a lot but remain reluctant to take decisions. Therefore, this year will more likely witness a series of such hasty and unpredicted actions from the American president.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2019.

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.

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Trump still helping Russia | Columns


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Democrat and Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Committee recently announced that no direct evidence of a conspiracy between Russian intelligence operatives and Trump campaign officials has been uncovered by their investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Despite the president’s mistaken belief that he has been fully-exonerated (he hasn’t), the more pressing issue is whether he’ll finally accept the U.S. intelligence community’s well-documented conclusion that Russian operatives did everything in their power to shape American public opinion and exert influence over voters.

The Daily Beast reports that two teams of federal officials whose mandate was to fight foreign election interference are being dramatically downsized. This will leave the U.S. woefully unprepared to address election threats in 2020. Apparently, the president is quite pleased by the past work-product of his comrades in the Kremlin and expects them to deliver once more.

The U.S. Intelligence Community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment, presented to Congress a few weeks ago, states “we anticipate that all our adversaries and strategic competitors will increasingly build and integrate cyber espionage, attack and influence capabilities into their efforts to influence U.S. policies and advance their own national security interests.”

That appears to be confirmed in reports from multiple media outlets detailing attempts to use Facebook and Twitter to launch disinformation campaigns. According to Politico, Twitter recently removed 2,617 “malicious accounts” that may have originated in Iran. Facebook announced that it had suspended 783 Iranian pages and accounts on its platforms, including Instagram, for “engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

Twitter has suspended 418 accounts that appear to emanate from Russia for mimicking behavior similar to that exhibited by the Internet Research Agency — the Russian troll farm responsible for many of the propaganda campaigns that raged during the 2016 election. It also took down 2,000 accounts located in Venezuela that have engaged in a “state-backed influence campaign targeting domestic audiences.”

No reasonable leader could possibly ignore ongoing assaults on the hearts and minds of the American people. Nor would he ignore the advice of his hand-picked intelligence chiefs. Yet, this leader does. Because his friends in the Motherland continue to employ cyber warfare as an ongoing offensive strategy, quite possibly designed to bolster his stranglehold on the White House. It should come as no surprise then that the Trump administration is taking steps to ensure that this barrage of disinformation continues to rain down on the American people unimpeded.

Whether Trump directly engaged or conspired with outside forces to corrupt the results of the 2016 presidential election is still unclear. Results of both the Mueller investigation and a more vigorous investigation by the Democrat-controlled House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence may paint a more accurate picture once their work is finished.

Believing he has been vindicated by the Senate Intelligence Committee, President Trump continues to grow more emboldened. Which, to use one of his favorite expressions, is “sad.” And a mistake. Because his administration’s recent efforts to stymie future cyberattacks call into question whether there really is “No collusion.” And that will only cause government watchdogs to sniff around his administration more aggressively.

Blair Bess: can be reached at bbess@soaggragated.com.

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Anthony Weiner Is Out of Prison, and in a Re-Entry Center in Brooklyn – The New York Times | Anthony Weiner affair as the Judeophobia component of the Operation Trump, by the New Abwehr


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Anthony Weiner affair as the Judeophobia component of Operation Trump, by New Abwehr – Google Search
Anthony Weiner affair as the Judeophobia component of Operation Trump, by New Abwehr – Google Search
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Anthony Weiner affair as the Judeophobia component of Operation Trump, by New Abwehr – Google Search
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“US elections and russia” – Google News: ‘Digital gangsters’ at Facebook knowingly violated data privacy and ‘bullied’ other tech companies – TheJournal.ie

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Paul Manafort confidant Konstantin Kilimnik not proven to be Russian spy, says judge


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Special counsel Robert Mueller hasn’t provided evidence to the federal judge overseeing the case of Paul Manafort that his confidant in Ukraine is a Russian spy or tied to its intelligence apparatus, according to a new court transcript.

One of the continuing narratives in the prosecution of Manafort is that he worked for more than a decade with a Russian spy — Konstantin Kilimnik, a Ukraine-born translator and political consultant.

Mr. Mueller has said in court documents that the FBI assesses Mr. Kilimnik as being tied to Russian intelligence. The news media has taken that description to link him to the Kremlin and thus evidence of possible election collusion with Manafort when he was President Trump’s campaign manager.

In a newly released transcript of a Feb. 13 hearing, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she hasn’t been provided the evidence. Legally, she said, it doesn’t matter if he is a spy because the appointment order to Mr. Mueller says to investigate “any links” of Trump associates and the Russian government.

“Whether Kilimnik is tied to Russian intelligence or he’s not, I think the specific representation by the Office of Special Counsel was that he had been, quote, ‘assessed by the FBI, quote, to have a relationship with Russian intelligence,’ close quote,” Judge Jackson said at the hearing. “Whether that’s true, I have not been provided with the evidence that I would need to decide nor do I have to decide because it’s outside the scope of this hearing.”

As a young man, Mr. Kilimnik served as an army translator for Russian military intelligence. He denies he worked for the intelligence service after his discharge.

He was employed in Moscow for the International Republican Institute, a pro-Democracy group led by the late Sen. John McCain. He joined Manafort’s firm in Ukraine in 2005.

The point of the Feb. 13 hearing was to hear Judge Jackson explain her ruling that determined Manafort lied to the special counsel about his contacts with Mr. Kilimnik.

She said Manafort, interrogated as part of a plea deal, lied about a meeting he had with Mr. Kilimnik and a now-convicted business partner, Rick Gates, at a cigar bar in New York on Aug. 2, 2016.

A previously released but redacted court transcript shows Mr. Mueller has evidence from Gates that sanctions relief for Russia was discussed.

Kevin Downing, Manafort’s attorney, calls the collusion theory “nonsense,” and asserted that his client never lied.

Of Manafort’s testimony, Judge Jackson said: “Concessions come in dribs and drabs, only after it’s clear that the Office of Special Counsel already knew the answer. Again, it’s part of a pattern of requiring the Office of Special Counsel to pull teeth, withholding facts if he can get away with it.”

Now jailed in solitary confinement, Manafort is due to be sentenced in a federal court in Virginia next month after a jury convicted him of bank and tax fraud. He then will be sentenced by Judge Jackson.

He received millions in payments from the pro-Russia Party of Regions in Ukraine and hid the funds from U.S. tax collectors.

Under Mr. Mueller’s collusion pursuit, Mr. Kilimnik would be key witness. He now lives is Russia, seemingly out of the prosecutors’ reach.

Mr. Mueller brought two charges of obstruction of justice against Mr. Kilimnik. The indictment says he conspired with Manafort to tamper with a witness. The issue related to Manafort in his not filing as a foreign agent with the Justice Department.

Mr. Downing received requested information from the prosecution that Mr. Kilimnik had an association with the U.S. Embassy in Kiev. The implication is that Mr. Kilimnik was an American asset.

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Cyril Ramaphosa fails to tackle South Africa corruption

As the article points out, his biggest challenge is the ANC party itself. It will take a slow and purposeful approach to dealing with the problem. However, I’m not sure that Ramaphosa is the guy to do it, as he and his brother-in-law, Patrice Motsepe, have been part of the problem. What everyone needs to realize is that whatever Patrice Motsepe does, even if characterized as a gift or philanthropism, begins and ends with Patrice. Anyone who has worked with him will tell you that everything he does is for the betterment of the Patrice Motsepe Image, and nothing else. As a result, Patrice has been one of the largest financial contributors to the ANC party, and also to Zuma when he was in power. Patrice does not have the ethical backbone to swim against the tide.Ramaphosa is not going to make any serious headway while he is beholding to the South African elite, like Motsepe, some of whom probably know where Ramaphosa’s skeletons are buried.


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