Monday, May 9, 2016

Dem: FBI strong-armed former senator on 9/11 pages - TheHill: "The FBI "took a former senator, a former governor, grabbed him in an airport, hustled him into a room with armed force to try to intimidate him into taking different positions on issues of public policy and important national policy..." | Ex-FBI Agent to Plead Guilty to Perjury During Bulger Trial - ABC News | FBI wants cops to recreate evidence because cell tracking tech is too secret - ZDNet | 2 weeks after 8 killed in Ohio, no arrests, few answers | Counteract dangerous Russian disinformation

Counteract dangerous Russian disinformation

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Dem: FBI strong-armed former senator on 9/11 pages | TheHill

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The HillTube

Dem: FBI strong-armed former senator on 9/11 pages

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) is criticizing the Obama administration as having tried to strong-arm a former senator who is pushing to declassify 28 pages of the 9/11 report dealing with Saudi Arabia.
He recounted how Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Fla.) and her father, former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham (D-Fla.), were detained by the FBI in 2011 at Dulles International Airport outside Washington. The message from the agents, according to the Grahams, was to quit pushing for declassification of the 28 pages.
The FBI "took a former senator, a former governor, grabbed him in an airport, hustled him into a room with armed force to try to intimidate him into taking different positions on issues of public policy and important national policy, 

and the fact that he wasn’t intimidated because he was calm doesn’t show that they weren’t trying to intimidate him," Sherman said in an interview with The Hill's Molly K. Hooper.
Tampa Bay Times senior correspondent Lucy Morgan detailed the incident in a column on Aug. 7, 2015.
The Obama administration is now reviewing the secret 28 pages for possible release. Some former officials have said the pages show officials in Saudi Arabia were complicit in 9/11, which the country strongly denies. The Saudi government has pushed for the pages to be released.
Watch the video above to hear Sherman discuss the matter and his take on U.S.-Saudi relationship.
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Dem: FBI strong-armed former senator on 9/11 pages - The Hill

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The Hill

Dem: FBI strong-armed former senator on 9/11 pages
The Hill
The FBI "took a former senator, a former governor, grabbed him in an airport, hustled him into a room with armed force to try to intimidate him into taking different positions on issues of public policy and important national policy, and the fact that ...

Iran Threatens to Block U.S. Passage in Persian Gulf

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A top Iranian military official has threatened to block the United States’ free passage through a crucial international shipping lane in the Persian Gulf, according to recent comments in which the commander insisted, “We have no other enemy in the region except for America.”
Hossein Salami, deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, warned in a recent Persian-language interview that the Islamic Republic would not hesitate to block U.S. entry to the Strait of Hormuz, which is the only passage from the Persian Gulf to the open seas.
Salami claimed that the U.S. military fears Iran’s navy, which recently has bolstered forces to directly combat American forces in the region.
“The [Americans] believe that our navy is dangerous. Indeed, that is true,” Salami was quoted as saying in a Farsi-language interview with Iranian state-controlled television that was subsequently translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, which monitors regional reports.
“In my view, this is the first time that the Americans have assessed the might of our navy correctly,” Salami continued. “If the Americans want to level threats against us, we can be very dangerous to them, as we have declared. They are aware of our tremendous might. We have increased and expanded our naval might, in order to overcome the military might of superpowers like America.”
Salami went on to warn the United States and its allies that Iran is prepared to block the Strait of Hormuz, a move that could disrupt the international shipping of goods.
“We warn America, its partners, and its allies in the region that if they decide to use the language of threats against us, we will enforce the article on innocent passage in the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, and we will prevent the passage of any ship or naval vessel that threatens us,” he said. “If they threaten us, this is what will happen, and we will take whatever steps are necessary.”
“After all,” Salami added, “we have no other enemy in the region except for America. The other countries and governments are not our enemies, and we are not theirs. Of course, they do not even have the potential to be our enemy.”

Russia's show of military might: Annual Victory Day parade through Moscow's Red Square, in pictures

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Israel approves extradition to U.S. of two securities fraud suspects

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel has approved the extradition to the United States of two men indicted in New York on multiple counts of securities fraud that carry lengthy jail terms, Israel's Justice Ministry said.
  

Air raids on Syria’s Aleppo as end of cease-fire nears

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Two opposition monitoring groups are reporting multiple air raids on a rebel-held area and shelling of government-controlled parts of the northern city of Aleppo hours before a five-day cease-fire was to expire.
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Panama Papers: Full database revealed

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Putin Swipes at West During Victory Day Parade in Moscow

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At the annual celebration of victory over Nazi Germany, the Russian president seemed to criticize the United States over its actions in Syria.

US, Russia urge adherence to fragile cease-fire in Syria

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The United States and Russia are urging Syria’s government and opposition groups to adhere to a revived cease-fire and allow humanitarian aid to flow to critical areas.

Panama Papers list of offshore companies to go live

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The investigative journalists who reported on a trove of data about offshore companies of the rich and powerful are making the names of 200,000 entities available in a searchable database.

US general: More cross-border cooperation needed to fight IS

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The new commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command says an international coalition of special forces fighting Islamic State extremists must cooperate more closely and “adapt faster than the enemy.”

Panama Papers database to go online

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The Panama Papers affair is set to widen, with a huge database of documents relating to more than 200,000 offshore accounts due to go online.
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France Outlines New Plan to Fight Extremism

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France’s leftist government says it will create deradicalization centers around the country, sinking $45 million into a barrage of new proposals to fight terrorism. “Radicalization, recruitment strikes everywhere,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said as he unveiled the proposals during a ministerial conference, warning the country will likely face another strike. “We’ve entered a new era of hyper-terrorism,” he said. The measures are likely to resonate...

Acting speaker of Brazil lower house annuls Rousseff impeachment: Folha

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BRASILIA (Reuters) - The acting speaker of the lower house of Brazil's Congress, Waldir Maranhao, has annulled the impeachment process against President Dilma Rousseff, the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper reported on Monday.
  

BBC Faces Turning Point in Mission as Pressures Bear Down

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The London headquarters of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Its directors have implemented a series of staff cuts and reorganizations intended to address its array of challenges.

Judge dismisses mental competency case against Sumner Redstone - Los Angeles Times

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Reuters

Judge dismisses mental competency case against Sumner Redstone
Los Angeles Times
A Los Angeles judge has dismissed a salacious lawsuit that challenged the mental competence of Sumner Redstone and provided a rare window into the rivalries, infighting and jockeying for power among the people who desperately wanted to stay in the ...
Sumner Redstone Trial: Judge Pulls The Plug On Health Care DisputeDeadline
Lawyers in Sumner Redstone Trial Tussle Over Possible DismissalNew York Times
`I Hate Her': Redstone Competency Trial Opens With Drama (2)Newsmax
New York Post -ABC News -Broadcasting & Cable -WDSU New Orleans
all 47 news articles »

This is the reporting that got BBC journalists expelled from North Korea 

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How exactly might a foreign journalist insult the dignity of North Korea? Taking a quick look at some of the reports a BBC crew filmed while in North Korea gives us some clues.





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Brazil’s acting House Speaker invalidates lower house vote on presidential impeachment, pushing back process

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Brazil’s acting House Speaker invalidates lower house vote on presidential impeachment, pushing back process.
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Finnish officials halt human smuggling at Arctic border

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Border officials have broken up a ring of international human traffickers who allegedly smuggled migrants into the country from Russia across the European Union’s two northernmost border points in Arctic Finland, a Finnish Border Guard investigator said Monday.





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F.B.I. Sting Is Expected to Yield More Arrests in Pennsylvania

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A phony company set up by federal investigators has led to a wire fraud charge against a onetime top aide to former Gov. Ed Rendell.

Interview with children of Russian deep-cover spies caught in the US 

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The two sons of a Russian couple, who were among 10 deep-cover spies arrested in the United States, have given an interview about their experience for the first time.

Ex-FBI Agent to Plead Guilty to Perjury During Bulger Trial - ABC News

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Boston.com

Ex-FBI Agent to Plead Guilty to Perjury During Bulger Trial
ABC News
A former FBI agent accused of lying during Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger's trial is expected to plead guilty to perjury charges. Robert Fitzpatrick is slated to appear Monday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Boston for a change-of-plea hearing. 
Ex-FBI agent charged with lying at 'Whitey' Bulger trial due in courtThomson Reuters Foundation
Former FBI agent who testified on behalf of Bulger expected to plead guilty to lying on the standBoston.com

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If Quantico's recruits were real FBI agents, we would all be so screwed - SheKnows.com

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SheKnows.com

If Quantico's recruits were real FBI agents, we would all be so screwed
SheKnows.com
Quantico may be all about FBI agents trying to find a terrorist, but week after week the characters' personal problems hijack any semblance of reality from the show. Now we finally know who the supposed mastermind behind the terrorist plot is, and it's ...

FBI Director James Comey speaking at ELITE graduation in Peoria - Peoria Journal Star

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Peoria Journal Star

FBI Director James Comey speaking at ELITE graduation in Peoria
Peoria Journal Star
PEORIA — In 2013, Carl Cannon, founder of the ELITE youth outreach program, traveled to Washington, D.C., to receive the FBI Director's Community Leadership Award. Now, the FBI is rewarding Cannon and ELITE again by traveling to Peoria. FBI Director ...

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Ex-FBI agent to plead guilty to perjury in Whitey Bulger trial - Chicago Sun-Times

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Chicago Sun-Times

Ex-FBI agent to plead guilty to perjury in Whitey Bulger trial
Chicago Sun-Times
Fitzpatrick, 76, who had been second in command of the FBI's Boston division during Bulger's bloody reign in Boston, was the first witness Bulger's lawyers called during the high-profile trial. Prosecutors say Fitzpatrick falsely claimed to be the ...
Ex-FBI agent charged with lying at 'Whitey' Bulger trial due in courtReuters
Ex-FBI
 
Agent to Plead Guilty to Perjury During Bulger TrialABC News

Former FBI agent who testified on behalf of Bulger expected to plead guilty to lying on the standBoston.com

all 6 news articles »

INFORMATION WARFARE: Weaponizing Facebook And Twitter

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FBI: No, you shouldn't pay ransomware extortionists - We Live Security (blog)

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We Live Security (blog)

FBI: No, you shouldn't pay ransomware extortionists
We Live Security (blog)
The roll call of organisations hit by ransomware attacks is depressingly long – hospitals, government departments, school districts, banks, businesses small and large… even law enforcement agencies haven't been able to avoid attacks from what is ...

FBI raids homes of two Cuomo cronies amid corruption probe - New York Post

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New York Post

FBI raids homes of two Cuomo cronies amid corruption probe
New York Post
The FBI raided the homes of two men close to Gov. Cuomo as part of the widening federal probe into Albany corruption, The Post has learned. Agents carted off evidence from the Westchester home of former top Cuomo aide Joseph Percoco and the ...

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Report: 6 police wounded in clash with armed men in Chechnya

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Local media report six Russian policemen have been wounded in a clash with armed men trying to bring explosives into the capital of Chechnya.
     

A Better, Not Fatter, Defense Budget

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The Pentagon can do with far fewer than the 1,700 F-35s it plans on buying.
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On Victory Day, Putin calls for non-bloc security

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking at the annual elaborate Victory Day military parade in Red Square, says Russia wants to help build an international security system that transcends military blocs.
     

FBI wants cops to recreate evidence because cell tracking tech is too secret - ZDNet

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ZDNet

FBI wants cops to recreate evidence because cell tracking tech is too secret
ZDNet
The FBI has told a local police department that the use of so-called "stingray" cell site equipment is so sensitive that any intelligence collected must be recreated by other means before it's presented at trial. The recently-disclosed document, dated ...

Ex-FBI agent charged with lying at 'Whitey' Bulger trial due in court - Reuters

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Reuters

Ex-FBI agent charged with lying at 'Whitey' Bulger trial due in court
Reuters
BOSTON A former FBI agent charged with lying on the witness stand during the 2013 trial of former Boston mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger is expected in court on Monday and will likely plead guilty to at least some charges. The first witness called by ...
Ex-FBI agent to plead guilty to perjury in Whitey Bulger trialChicago Sun-Times
Ex-FBI Agent to Plead Guilty to Perjury During Bulger TrialABC News
Former FBI agent who testified on behalf of Bulger expected to plead guilty to lying on the standBoston.com

all 6 news articles »

Former FBI agent to plead guilty to perjury in 'Whitey' Bulger case - The Boston Globe

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The Boston Globe

Former FBI agent to plead guilty to perjury in 'Whitey' Bulger case
The Boston Globe
BOSTON — A former FBI agent accused of lying during Boston gangster James ''Whitey'' Bulger's trial is expected to plead guilty to perjury charges Monday. Robert Fitzpatrick is slated to appear Monday afternoon in US District Court in Boston for a ...
Ex-FBI agent charged with lying at 'Whitey' Bulger trial due in courtReuters
Former FBI agent who testified on behalf of Bulger expected to plead guilty to lying on the standBoston.com

all 6 news articles »

Ex-FBI agent charged with lying at 'Whitey' Bulger trial due in court - Bangor Daily News

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Bangor Daily News

Ex-FBI agent charged with lying at 'Whitey' Bulger trial due in court
Bangor Daily News
BOSTON — A former FBI argent charged with lying on the witness stand during the 2013 trial of former Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger is expected in court Monday and will likely plead guilty to at least some charges. The first witness called by ...
Ex-FBI agent to plead guilty to perjury in Whitey Bulger trialChicago Sun-Times
Ex-FBI Agent to Plead Guilty to Perjury During Bulger TrialABC News
Former FBI agent who testified on behalf of Bulger expected to plead guilty to lying on the standBoston.com

all 6 news articles »

Special Operations Forces Deserve 'Budget Stability'

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US Special Operations forces deserve to have budget stability as they deploy on missions to dozens of countries.
       
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Terrorism initiative may damage trust in Seattle police - Crosscut

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Terrorism initiative may damage trust in Seattle police
Crosscut
Those who were invited — including representatives from the Ethiopian, Somali, Latino, LGBT and Muslim communities, as well as the ACLU and the Community Police Commission — were not provided an agenda in advance. ... On this subject, law enforcement ...

Austrian Chancellor Faymann resigns, citing lack of support

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With his Social Democratic party in disarray after the latest stinging election loss, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann resigned Monday, citing lack of support for his policies within his own party.
     

2 weeks after 8 killed in Ohio, no arrests, few answers

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Two weeks after eight family members were found dead at four different homes in Ohio, no arrests have been made, and a motive remains unclear.

Feds to study potential chemical attack on NYC subway system

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NEW YORK (AP) - Homeland security officials will release an invisible, harmless gas into part of New York City's subway system as part of a test of how air moves through the tunnels and platforms.
They say the data would be useful in understanding how toxic vapors or biological contaminants ...

Air raids on Syria's Aleppo as end of cease-fire nears

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Multiple air raids struck rebel-held areas while shelling hit government-controlled parts of the northern city of Aleppo Monday, hours before a five-day cease-fire was to expire, two opposition monitoring groups and Syrian state media reported.
     

Counteract dangerous Russian disinformation

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Nobody — even in the Western intelligence community — compiles transcripts. Nor do we know which elements of the Russian message are effective, who believes them and why.
     
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3 Afghans arrested in insider attack that killed Romanian soldiers

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Three Afghans have been arrested in connection with an apparent insider attack at a military base in Kandahar that left two Romanian soldiers dead and a third injured, the Romanian military said Monday.
     

The Early Edition: May 9, 2016 

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Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.
IRAQ and SYRIA
Bomb attacks across Baghdad left at least 15 people dead yesterday, including a suicide attack that targeted a funeral on the outskirts of the city. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks. The attacks serve as a “stark reminder” of Iraq’s ongoing instability amid the country’s escalating political crisis, report Ghassan Adnan and Asa Fitch. [Wall Street Journal]
Heavily armed US Marines arrived at the American embassy in Baghdad over the weekend, reports Barbara Starr, after their presence was requested by the State Department. [CNN]
Syrian forces and their allies fought insurgents close to Aleppo today, as warplanes bombed the vicinity of Khan Touman, a town that was captured by Islamist rebels last week, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. [Reuters’ John Davison et al]
The US-led coalition against the Islamic State is facing hurdles, reports Liz Sly, noting that on and off the battlefield the challenges faced in the war against the militant group raise the question “whether the pace of recent gains can be sustained.” [Washington Post]
Turkish special operations forces entered Syria on Saturday for what the government described as a “reconnaissance mission.” It is highly unusual for Ankara to announce such an operation. [Al Jazeera]
A Syrian-Russian businessman, George Haswani, is accused of serving as the middleman in the sale of oil by the Islamic State to its “biggest customer,” the Syrian government. Jay Solomon and Benoit Faucon provide the details. [Wall Street Journal]
Al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri has called on rebel factions in Syria to unite and liberate Syria from “the Russians and Western Crusaders,” in an audio recording in which the group’s leader criticized the Islamic State as a group of “extremists and renegades.” [Al Jazeera]
Three freelance Spanish journalists have arrived home after being held captive in Syria for nearly 10 months; the Spanish government provided no information on the captors and thanked “allied and friendly” nations for their role in securing the releases. [AP]
“56 hours with the Russian army in Syria,” from Andrew Roth at the Washington Post.
AFGHANISTAN
US special operations forces experienced confusion over their permitted involvement in the effort to retake Kunduz from the Taliban last year, which led to the bombing of a MSF hospital, a new Pentagon report reveals. Josh Smith provides the story at Reuters.
“It also offered the starkest example to date of a blurry line in Afghanistan and Iraq between the missions that American forces are supposed to be fulfilling – military training and advising – and combat.” Matthew Rosenberg and Joseph Goldstein discuss the US return to a combat role in Afghanistan, and the “terrible error” in Kunduz. [New York Times]
Two NATO troops were killed on Saturday morning in southern Afghanistan by two shooters wearing Afghan National Defense and Security Forces uniforms. [The Hill’s Harper Neidig]
Six Taliban prisoners were hanged on Sunday by Afghan officials, a resumption of executions in the war “that makes good on President Ashraf Ghani’s recent promise to deal harshly with insurgents.” [Washington Post’s Antonio Olivio and Sayed Salahuddin]
RUSSIA
Russia is demonstrating its anger over increasing US military presence in its “backyard” by intercepting US ships and planes in Central and Eastern Europe, writes Helene Cooper. There have been three incidents in just the last month, but US officials are insisting that “this is not going to change our activities one iota.” [New York Times]
Middle Eastern leaders are consulting Putin nowadays, not Obama, despite the fact that the US has a significantly higher military presence in the region, reports Dennis Ross, who says that the reason for this is that “perceptions matter more than mere power,” and Russia is viewed as being willing to join efforts to affect the balance of power in the Middle East, while the US is not. [Politico]
HILLARY CLINTON EMAIL CONTROVERSY
The FBI investigation into former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server appears to be in its final stages, reports Julian Hattem. Hillary Clinton is likely to be interviewed herself in the coming days or weeks. The typical structure of investigations is that investigators “would seek to interview the target last,” according to a former federal prosecutor. [The Hill]
“No one has reached out to me yet.” Clinton has told reporters that no-one from the FBI has contacted her for interview so far. [Politico’s Austin Wright]
NORTH KOREA
North Korea will “faithfully fulfil its obligation for non-proliferation and strive for global denuclearization,” leader Kim Jong-un said in a speech at the Workers’ Party congress on Saturday. He said that the North would not use its nuclear weapons unless its sovereignty was infringed by another state with nuclear arms, and that he was prepared to normalize relations with those states which have already shown hostility. He also announced a five-year economic plan, the first since 1980. [ReutersThe Hill’s Jessie Hellmann]
North Korea may be gearing up for another nuclear test, think tank 38 North said on Friday. Satellite images of North Korea’s nuclear test site dated May 5 showed vehicle movement indicative of test preparations, according to 38 North. [Reuters’ David Brunnstrom et al]
North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is prompting Japan and South Korea to “go nuclear,”reports Henry Sokolski. Departing from Japan’s “taboo” against nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet said on Friday that there was nothing in Japan’s constitution which banned the use of nuclear weapons. South Korea’s ruling party, meanwhile, has urged President Park Guen-hye to begin stockpiling “peaceful” plutonium. [Wall Street Journal]
CYBERSECURITY, PRIVACY and TECHNOLOGY
Twitter will no longer grant US intelligence agencies access to an analytics service that sifts through all of the social-media postings on its site, the latest event in the increasingly tense relationship between the federal government and Silicon Valley. [Wall Street Journal’s Christopher S. Stewart and Mark Maremont]
“America needs a clear and concise definition of when an attack in cyber space constitutes an act of war.” Republican Senator Mike Rounds makes the case for the Cyber Act of War Act, and why the administration needs a clear policy on cyberattacks. [Wall Street Journal]
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
DC Circuit judges have held that “[Detainees] … have no substantive right to due process of law, and that any evidence presented against them must be presumed to be true.” Periodic Review Board hearings at Guantánamo Bay are prisoners’ “best chance” of leaving the detention center. The number of hearings has increased significantly in recent times, but the Justice Department is consistently opposed to the prisoners’ release, reports Jennifer Fenton. [Al Jazeera]
Despite “forcefully” backing Saudi Arabia as it bombs Yemen, US officials have made little effort to explain this support, say Alex Eamons and Zaid Julani. When asked to explain, former US diplomats say that US involvement in the war harms its interests and question whether there is any reason to be involved at all. [The Intercept]
Iran successfully tested a medium-range ballistic missile a fortnight ago, achieving “full accuracy,” a military official said today. The US and some European countries said that previous missile tests were a violation of the UN resolution prohibiting Iran from firing missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Iran insists it needs the tests to help bolster its ability to deter its enemy, Israel. [Reuters’ Bozorgmehr Sharafedin et al]
Seven individuals accused of involvement in the Paris and Brussels terror attacks have gone on trialin Belgium. They are part of a group of 16 suspects, nine of whom have been charged but are on the run, all believed to be members of a terrorist cell run by Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a ringleader of the November Paris attacks. [BBC]
Islamic State has killed eight policemen in a suburb of Cairo, Egypt, four gunmen in a pickup truck blocking the path of the police officers’ minibus before opening fire. [Wall Street Journal’s Dahlia Kholaif and Tamer el-Ghobashy; Financial Times’ Heba Saleh]
Islamic State has threatened the lives of 11 Muslim imams and scholars in the West who have been fighting the terrorist organization’s influence through broadcasting sermons and holding live video chats, efforts which the wider communities in the West have barely registered. Such is the danger for these individuals, however, that the FBI has been taking steps to try to ensure their safety, reports Laurie Goodstein. [New York Times]
Failing to stop China constructing a military base on a shoal only 150 miles from the Philippines’ Subic Bay could undermine the progress the Obama administration has made in increasing US influence in the region, according to the Washington Post editorial board. Scarborough Shoal would be the first Chinese attempt to build on islets it does not already control.
Peace in Europe could be at risk if the UK leaves the EU, UK Prime Minister David Cameron warned today, arguing that the EU, with Britain in it, had brought together countries that had been “at each other’s’ throats for decades.” [BBC]  Former heads of MI5 and MI6, the UK’s spy agencies, have also suggested that a UK exit could lead to “instability on the Continent” and damage the UK’s ability to defend itself from terrorist attacks. [Politico’s Jeanette Minns]
Al-Shabaab militants detonated a car bomb at traffic police headquarters in MogadishuSomalia,today, killing at least two officers. [Reuters’ Abdi Sheikh et al]
The US needs a better-targeted, not a bigger, defense budget, says the New York Times editorial board, with more funds towards training, maintenance and modernizing weapons and equipment and away from costly high-tech weaponry.
At CENTCOM, two wars are being waged: one against Islamic State, and the other against whistleblowers. A rare public hearing last week before the government appeals board involving an employee who says she was reassigned for “cursing twice in the span of a year” after she spoke out about “cherry-picked” Islamic State intelligence, reveals this second, internal battle, writes Nancy A Youssef. [The Daily Beast]
Read on Just Security »
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Donald Trump’s Warning to Paul Ryan Signals Further G.O.P. Discord

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Four of the last five Republican presidential nominees — George Bush, George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney — have said they will skip the convention in Cleveland, where Mr. Trump is expected to be formally nominated.
Mr. Ryan, who serves as the convention’s ceremonial chairman, has made the provocative declaration that he is not ready to support his party’s likely nominee, a rebuke that drew Mr. Trump’s threat, in an interview with NBC News, to keep him from assuming that role.
The large corporations that usually fund both parties’ conventions have grown wary of becoming involved. They are holding back on sponsorships, leaving Cleveland about $7 million short of its $64 million fund-raising goal just 10 weeks before the festivities begin.
“Conventions have always been platforms for different views inside the party, with the understanding that primaries are about our differences and the general election is supposed to be about coming together,” said Kevin Madden, a Republican consultant who has worked on several presidential campaigns, most recently in 2012 for Mr. Romney.
“But the big, open rift that nobody can deny is that there’s a lot we still don’t agree on,” he said.
With Mr. Trump’s two remaining rivals, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, now out of the race, Republicans have defused their biggest possible crisis ahead of the convention: having a bitter fight for the nomination play out in front of tens of millions on television. But they seemed to be barreling toward another.
Questions over Mr. Trump’s conservative credentials refuse to die, causing some Republicans to make demands of him that are unheard-of for the party’s standard-bearer.
Conservative activists have called on Mr. Trump to identify before he arrives in Cleveland people he would appoint as cabinet members, Supreme Court justices or even vice president, gestures they say would calm fears over the sincerity of his conservatism.
Tony Perkins, a convention delegate from Louisiana who is the president of the conservative Family Research Council and had supported Mr. Cruz before he dropped out of the race last week, said Mr. Trump could not afford to antagonize any more voters.
“The margins he has to work with in terms of electoral success are very small,” he said. Unlike other Republican nominees who have been greeted skeptically by social conservatives, Mr. Trump faces deep and unrelenting hostility, Mr. Perkins added. “Now, not only do you have indifference, you have outright resistance to his candidacy,” he said.
Having a nominee who engenders such mistrust poses complications for other aspects of the convention. As much as the party gatherings are meant to convey cohesiveness and cooperation, they have also become platforms to highlight diversity and inclusiveness, virtues Mr. Trump has not shown an inclination to promote.
Republicans have filled their speaking slots at recent conventions with women, African-Americans and Hispanics in an effort to overcome an image as the party of old white men. But the list of speakers from the 2012 convention reads like a list of Mr. Trump’s enemies. Many have denounced him, including Gov. Nikki R. Haley of South Carolina, Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Representative Barbara Comstock of Virginia.
The 2016 primaries and caucuses have begun. See results and upcoming primary dates.
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And many of them are likely to skip the convention this summer. A spokesman for Mr. Sandoval said he did not plan to go to Cleveland. Ms. Comstock and Ms. Ayotte will stay home and meet with constituents instead. Ms. Haley’s office has said she has not made up her mind.
Convention organizers in the past have also invited leaders of different faiths, including Islam, to lead the body in prayer.
The stage usually serves as a forum for the party to help elevate its next generation of leaders. But there, too, the list from 2012 is a who’s who of officials whom Mr. Trump has alienated: Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and, of course, Mr. Ryan and Mr. Cruz.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Ryan are set to meet privately in Washington on Thursday as part of an effort to bridge the gap between the party establishment and Mr. Trump.
How to handle Mr. Cruz — and the hundreds of delegates who will go to the convention pledged to vote for him — is another sensitive issue for Mr. Trump and his team as they plan for the convention.
Absent an agreement with the Trump campaign, Mr. Cruz’s nearly 600 delegates could vote against Mr. Trump in an embarrassing show of discord.
But Mr. Cruz, who has given no indication about what he wants his delegates to do, would most likely benefit from building up good will in the party if he wants to run for president again, as many expect him to do.
“It is in Senator Cruz’s interests to eventually be visibly supportive of Donald Trump as the Republican nominee,” said Paul Manafort, a senior adviser for the Trump campaign who was brought on to help improve outreach to fellow Republicans.
The Trump campaign must also begin raising money to plug any holes in the convention budget, which will exceed $100 million when costs like security are factored in. But some previous corporate sponsors, like Coca-Cola and Walmart, have been reassessing their commitments. Joe Roman, the vice chairman of the Cleveland host committee, said the large national corporations that were needed to close the $7 million gap the city is facing were taking some time to line up.
“The last five, six, seven million of anything is always the slowest,” he said.
There is also the question of safety. While the anger from Trump supporters who were fearful he would be denied the nomination appears to have diminished, masses of anti-Trump demonstrators are still expected to descend on Cleveland, a city that has been a caldron of racial tensions between the police and residents.
So even if many are staying away from the Republican National Convention, there is at least one group eager to go.
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