Chinese media to Trump: Stop the ’emotional venting’ on Twitter

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Chinese media to Trump: Stop the ’emotional venting’ on Twitter

Story highlights

  • An editorial in Chinese state media says tweeting won’t solve the North Korea crisis
  • Trump lashed out at China on Twitter for not stopping Kim Jong Un’s missile program

(CNN) US President Donald Trump should stop conducting his international diplomacy on Twitter, Chinese state media said in a widely-published editorial, syndicated across the country.

“Trump is quite a personality, and he likes to tweet, however emotional venting cannot become the guidance for solving the nuclear issues on the Korean peninsula,” said the editorial, first published on Xinhua Monday evening.
The article came days after Trump wrote a series of tweets saying he was “very disappointed” in China for not doing enough to stop North Korea’s missile program.
“Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk,” he wrote Friday night. “We will no longer allow this to continue.”
The United States had for months put pressure on China to rein in North Korea’s increasingly sophisticated weapons program, but Trump’s tweets have indicated he is tired of waiting for results.
In June he tweeted China’s efforts to restrain North Korea had “not worked out” but said he “greatly appreciated their efforts.”
North Korea successfully launched an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4, which it claimed was capable of hitting the US mainland with a nuclear device.
In its editorial, Xinhua said it was “definitely irrational” to blame China for North Korea’s missile launch.
“It is obvious to all the enormous efforts China has put to solve the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula … China has no magic wand to solve the (problem),” the article said.
Instead, the widely disseminated editorial blamed the US for the increasing tensions with North Korea by flying bombers over South Korea and ignoring invitations to talks.
“It is urgent to stamp out the fire immediately on the Korean peninsula, not to add kindling, or even worse, to pour oil on the flames,” the article said.
CNN has reached out to the White House for comment and has not yet received a response.
Trump’s comments and the subsequent editorial come at a sensitive time in US, China relations.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a briefing to government staff Tuesday the United States was reaching a “pivot point” in its relationship with China.
“How do we ensure that economic prosperity to the benefit of both countries and the world can continue, and that where we have differences — because we will have differences, we do have differences — that we deal with those differences in a way that does not lead to open conflict,” he said.

Marco Rubio Mocks Politico for Saying Proverbs Is Republican

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

Marco Rubio Mocks Politico for Saying Proverbs Is Republican

Jul 10, 2017 | 9:13 AM

(PHOTO: REUTERS/JIM YOUNG)U.S. Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., reads from the Bible at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, United States, July 18, 2015.

GOP Senator Marco Rubio of Florida blasted left-leaning media, Politico, which published an article commenting that he was tweeting “the most Republican part of the bible,” referring to his use of verses from the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament.

“Proverbs is the Republican part of the bible? I don’t think Solomon had yet joined the GOP when he wrote the first 29 chapters of Proverbs,” Rubio wrote, after an article in Politico said, “Each day, the Florida senator is quoting a verse from Proverbs, the GOP’s favorite part of the book.”

The article couldn’t stop Rubio from quoting Proverbs.

Hours after commenting on the Politico article, the senator’s tweet read, “Where words are many, sin is not wanting; but those who restrain their lips do well. Proverbs 10:19.”

The article quoted Rubio’s tweet from last month: “As dogs return to their vomit, so fools repeat their folly. Proverbs 26:11.”

The author, Joel B. Baden, professor of Hebrew Bible at Yale Divinity School, wrote that the senator had been tweeting bible verses since May 16.

“He has tweeted a biblical verse almost every day since then. Almost all of them come from the Old Testament, and specifically the book of Proverbs,” Baden wrote, remarking that “Proverbs is probably the most Republican book of the entire Bible.”

The author said other Republicans also like to quote Proverbs, citing Ben Carson as an example.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Carson “compared himself favorably to the blustery style of then-candidate Donald Trump by quoting Proverbs 22:4: ‘By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.'”

Gerald Ford’s favorite Bible passage was Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust wholeheartedly in Yahweh [the Lord], put no faith in your own perception; in every course you take, have him in mind: He will see that your paths are smooth,” Baden added. “Ford repeated this when he served in the Navy during World War II, throughout his presidency and in his swearing-in.”

President Trump also likes the idea of Proverbs, the author went on to say, quoting from a September 2015 interview on CBN. Trump claimed in that interview that some of his most appreciated verses were from Proverbs, however, he said his favorite verse in Proverbs was “never bend to envy,” which doesn’t appear in Proverbs or anywhere else in the Bible.

“There is surely nothing wrong with a politician turning to the Bible for spiritual, ethical and moral guidance,” Baden wrote. “The Bible is the foundational text of Western civilization, after all. But concentrating exclusively on the parts of it that affirm one’s own perspective is a form of confirmation bias.”

Baden suggested Rubio should read and tweet from Ecclesiastes or from Prophet’s such as Amos: “Because you trample on the poor and take from them levies of grain, you have built houses of stone — but you shall not live in them” (Amos 5:11).

The author also quoted Leviticus 19:33–34, “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself.”

When Rubio first started posting Bible verses to Twitter, there were some negative reactions, which Rubio described as a “Twitter freak out.” One political blogger called the Bible verses “oddly terrifying.”

NPR Draws Online Ire After Tweeting ‘Declaration Of Independence’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS AND THE AP)

NPR Draws Online Ire After Tweeting ‘Declaration Of Independence’

WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — National Public Radio marked the Fourth of July by tweeting the entire Declaration of Independence, but it seems some Twitter users didn’t recognize what they were reading.

The broadcaster tweeted out the words of the declaration line-by-line Tuesday.

Some of the founders’ criticisms of King George III were met with angry responses from supporters of President Donald Trump, who seemed to believe the tweets were a reference to his presidency.

One tweet read, “A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”

Another said: “and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.”A Twitter user accused NPR of condoning violence while trying to sound patriotic. The user apologized after the misunderstanding was pointed out. Tweets like that one drew a snarky reply from comedy writer Chris Regan.

Another user asked if the tweet was talking about the U.S. current foreign agenda, asking if Americans were the tyrants.

Others were under the impression NPR was trying to provoke Trump with the tweets and praised the outlet for doing so. Many, recognizing it was the Declaration of Independence, said how history is repeating itself.

NPR broadcast its annual reading of the declaration for the 29th straight year on Independence Day. This is the first year the tradition has been extended to Twitter.

In addition to the text of the document, NPR also tweeted the names of the men who signed the declaration, listing them by colony.

Delaware
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

New York
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris

Spokeswoman Allyssa Pollard says the tweets were shared by thousands of people and generated “a lively conversation.”

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

The American President: Is He Insane, Extremely Immature, Or Maybe Both: I’m Worried, Are You?

 

For those of you who know me you know that I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat though I do and I have voted for some of both in the past. Even though I am a registered voting Independent I do find it difficult most of the time to figure out whom to vote for in the different elections. This past November I voted for a third-party candidate just because I just couldn’t pull the lever for Mrs. Clinton nor Mr. Trump. If I was forced to vote this past November and I only had the two folks I just mentioned as my choices I guess, I think, I would have chosen Mr. Trump even though I had major issues with his ego and his maturity as I just couldn’t get my self to vote for Mrs. Clinton. I still believe that if the DNC did not have their ‘super delegates’ that Bernie Sanders would have won the Democratic nomination instead of Hillary. I also still totally believe that the existence of these ‘super delegates’ are unconstitutional. I also believe that if Mr. Sanders had won the Democratic nomination that he would definitely have beaten Mr. Trump quite easily last November. So, in a sense I believe that it is a fair assumption that the DNC elected Donald Trump as our President.

 

I wrote that first paragraph because I know that some folks will say that since I am writing a negative issue about Mr. Trump that I am really a liberal Democrat yet I believe that those who say such things are speaking yet have no knowledge of what they are saying. I have evolved through the years into being very much a moderate, I want the two extremest political parties to meet in the middle on almost all issues so that the country and the Congress can get out of the gridlock it has been in for so long now.

 

Mr. Trump is the President of our Country whether we like him, love him, or hate him. During the campaign trail I was concerned about his habitual lying just as I was about Hillary’s. I have never believed that either one of them cares anything about the everyday working class, working poor, or just plain poor people in our Country or in any other Country. The Democratic Party would easily win the elections if they did not insist on condoning abortions and for trying so hard to take the citizens of our Country ability to protect our selves from thugs and from the Government itself by stripping our God-given and 2nd Amendment rights away from us. Again, the DNC can and should blame themselves for Mr. Trump being our President.

 

If the ignorant things that Mr. Trump did during the campaign didn’t scare you or worry you about his narcissistic, egotistic, stupidity, are you concerned yet? Think about some of his statements such as him saying he knows more about what is going on in the Middle-East than our Generals do. Since being in Office saying that he does not need the morning security briefings. He doesn’t believe in nor does he trust any of our Nations Intelligence agencies Directors. The man we have in the Oval Office seems content to spend his days watching cable TV and listening to right-wing folks like the folks on Fox and Friends. He has proven to be a very, very thin-skinned person who has a constant habit of not thinking or caring about anything before he degrades himself into being the Twitter King. Just as the Secret Service took away Mr. Obama’s Blackberry as soon as he assumed Office they should for the sake of our Country also take away Mr. Trumps Twitter abilities.

 

These past few days have been very disturbing because of the hugely ignorant Tweets that he has put out concerning the couple that does the ‘Morning Joe’ cable show and for the absolutely asinine ‘wrestling event’ with CNN. Are you yet worried about this mans sanity? How about his maturity level? Is this man totally mentally unhinged as well as having the mentality and the maturity of a spoiled brat first grader? I read articles from all over the world everyday, from newspapers that are State owned and free ones as well. I read blogs from many countries everyday also and I get article from news TV stations all around the globe and when it concerns their thoughts about our President they range from concern, worry, or just plain laughter at him. Yet the biggest issue is trust or faith in him as a leader. Our Allies are worried and our enemies are laughing at him. I will make one final statement here about the situation we all find ourselves in with Mr. Trump as our President. This statement is that if Mr. Trump does not quickly grow up and start acting like an adult the Republicans in the November 2018 midterm elections are going to lose both the House and the Senate. There is no chance that Mr. Trump will ever grow up so the only chance the Republicans have in that election is if the Republican led Senate impeach this pathetic child from the Presidency ASAP!

China’s Great Firewall Grows Ever-Stronger As Virtual Private Networks Disappear

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

China’s Great Firewall Grows Ever-Stronger As Virtual Private Networks Disappear

Images remixed by Oiwan Lam.

China’s notorious Great Firewall makes it difficult — but not impossible — for Chinese netizens to access sites like Twitter, Facebook, western news outlets like the New York Times, and thousands of other websites, not to mention Global Voices.

For years, netizens in China (and other countries with heavy restrictions on Internet content) have used virtual private networks (VPNs) that allow them to circumvent censorship by creating a secure and well-hidden connection to another network in a different geographic location.

But their days using VPNs may be numbered.

Netizens are anticipating that the majority of VPN apps serving individuals’ needs will be taken down from Apple and Android App markets by 1 July 2017.

Whisperings of a state ban on unauthorized VPNs spread widely on Twitter and Weibo after the popular VPN service provider Green announced that the company would cease operations by 1 July. Below is the company’s letter to its customers, dated 22 June:

Dear respected Green customers,
We have received notice from the higher authorities. We regret to inform you that Green will cease our service on July 1st, 2017. We apologize for any inconvenience caused.

We will start processing our users’ refund request after service stopped (the amount will be calculated based on the remaining days in your plan). If you need a refund, please make sure to submit your refund request by August 31, 2017. We won’t be able to process any refund request submitted after that date. Since the workload of processing the requests, information verification and money transfer would be huge, we won’t be able to set an exact date for the refund. We plan to process the refund soon after August 31, please wait patiently.

Your praise and affirmation have encouraged us to last as long as we have. We will always be grateful for this. In the future, the Green team will transform the business. We look forward to meeting you again.

Green is just one of the VPNs that appears to be facing a mandatory shutdown. VPN providers including Netfits, VPN Master Pro, Ponhon, Snap VPN, SkyX, among others have disappeared from Apple and Android app stores over the past few months.

While some companies offering these services are banned or disrupted in China, others are fully licensed to operate. It has been estimated that 1-3% of China’s internet users use circumvention tool to visit overseas websites.

People who follow the news closely might have anticipated the coming of a full VPN ban. In January 2017, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced that it would ban “illegal services” that carry out cross-border operations, including unauthorized virtual private networks (VPNs), until March 2018.

Yet July 2017 is eight months ahead of March 2018, and state authorities have made no official announcement of the ban being expedited.

Chinese human rights activist Hu Jia believes that the ban is related to the upcoming 20th anniversary of Hong Kong being handed from British to Chinese power, which falls on July 1. A few months later, the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China will meet in November. He said on Twitter:

 香港自由法治20周年沦陷日和下半年中共 ,会是两个筑墙锋锁网络的高潮。 本人主抓网络安全,投入力度和效率远较过去加大了。 https://twitter.com/hw2698739812/status/878140195727486977 

#July 1 the 20th anniversary of the doomsday of Hong Kong’s rule of law and freedom and the CCP #19 Congress around end of the year would be the heyday of the Great Fire Wall. #Xi Jinping is responsible for cybersecurity and he is more heavy-handed and effective in controlling the net. #Xitler.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will be visiting Hong Kong for the July 1 ceremony and the city will be under high security control in this week. As for the 19th National CCP Congress, a majority of the Politburo Standing Committee (top decision-making body) is expected to retire and new members will be replaced. It is a critical moment for the party, which has been experiencing internal political struggle in recent years.

Some Chinese Twitter users are worried that they won’t be able to climb over the wall again soon:

随着封杀升级,很多翻墙软件被停,翻墙随时都会成为历史,珍惜能翻墙上推特的每一天。如果有一天,我不能翻墙了,你们会想我吗?

As censorship measures escalate, many circumvention tools have been forced to stop. Climbing over the wall may become history. We have to treasure the days when we can still access Twitter. If one day I cannot climb over the wall, will you miss me?

Others believe that the move is related to Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui’s corruption allegations against top Chinese official Wang Qishan, the secretary of Chinese Communist Party’s anti-corruption agency. Guo Wengui himself believes this too. In a reply to Mr. Sun’s comment about the VPN ban, he said:

孙先生好:封禁VPN是又一次的美国之音的断播事件.这是上天赐给我们的又一个大礼物……他们有多猖狂.多恐惧.我们就会有多强大!他们的任何愚蠢行动都会让我们大陆的同胞会从沉默中醒来!墙一定会被推翻的!我们的国际上的朋友从来没有像今天一样愿意与我们共同一起战斗!一切都是刚刚开始! https://twitter.com/sunjie1432/status/877870576836030464 

Dear Mr. Sun: The ban on VPNs is another incident similar to the ban on Voice of America. It is another gift from the heaven… The more furious and mad they become, the stronger we become. All the stupid acts that they have done will only help our fellows in mainland China to wake up. The wall will fall. Friends from the international society are now more willing to fight with us. Everything has just begun.

In a June 16 interview with Mingjing magazine, Guo showed the US passport and social security number of the wife of Wang Qishan, indicating Wang’s wife has long been a US citizen. The exposé rebuffs the party’s claim that it is cracking down on “naked officials”, cadres of prominent party members whose wives or children live overseas.

Guo also showed the addresses of multiple luxury houses owned by alleged relatives of Wang. Since the allegations were so explosive, many from mainland China have climbed over the Great Firewall to watch Guo’s video streaming on YouTube.

Netizens believe that some domestic VPN providers will still be operating after July 1, but there is no guarantee that communication via authorized networks will be safe from surveillance. For now, netizens on Weibo, Twitter and WeChat are anxiously sharing tips and strategies for climbing over the wall.

Iran’s Supreme ‘Fraud/Liar’ Will Never Allow Honest Elections Or Any Semblance Of Honesty Or Freedom!

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Opinion

Iran Blocks Telegram

It is not strange that Iran is the only country in the Middle East that blocks services which are considered essential now like Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp as part of its continuous blackout policy. Tehran even disturbs the signal of several broadcast channels blocking citizens from any external media access.

Of all international social media applications available, Iranians are only left with the messaging application Telegram.

Telegram was formed by two Russian brothers and is headquartered in Germany. Almost 40 million Iranians use its voice messages, while 20 million use the application for texting. Being the only application available, this precious service is in high demand among Iranians who amount up to a quarter of Telegram’s users across the world.

But then the government quelled Iranians’ sole source of joy by blocking most of Telegram’s services, precisely the voice messages under the pretext of protecting national security.

The truth is that the regime blocked the application fearing it would affect the course of the upcoming elections; a course that had already been engineered.

Thousands of local candidates are “filtered” according to the criteria of the “democratic Iranian religious clerics”. In the end, only those whom they are satisfied with are allowed to run for elections. It is not a secret system and, eventually, no one is allowed to win the elections or even run for it if the Supreme Leader doesn’t agree.

The 2009 elections caused a great embarrassment both domestically and internationally because those who diverted from the leadership were figures licensed by the leaders of the regime to run for the elections.

The supreme leadership decided that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would become president and forged the results accordingly. This angered the candidates who had the best chance in winning and led to the famous “Green Movement” revolution, during which many died or were injured and arrested. The memory of the uprising has been haunting the authorities that believe this massive antagonist movement wouldn’t have been possible, especially in Tehran, hadn’t it been for Twitter and Facebook.

Indeed, back then al-Arabiya Channel relied almost completely on the videos, photos and information it received from those two platforms to cover the Iranian events after the authorities shut down its office and expelled its correspondent. The results were astounding! The regime was in confusion after images of the protests, clashes, and injuries were broadcast on international media outlets.

After reading a report published about a month ago in the Los Angeles Times about the influence of Telegram inside of Iran, I sensed the regime’s fear and anticipated its next move. The report mentioned that the security authorities had already begun warning users of political messages and forced anyone who owned a channel with over 5,000 subscribers to obtain a permit from the Ministry of Culture. The government then began a series of arrests for active users on the application.

Iran has now shut most of Telegram’s services hoping to contain the atmosphere of the parliamentary and presidential elections, which are mostly an encore of the same charade. Results can be partially or completely forged, even after the filtration and suspension done during the early stages of candidacy.

The regime is really concerned with controlling the reactions of the Iranian street to avoid the repetition of the Green Revolution.

No surprises on the level of the presidential elections are expected because the approved candidates are just copies of each other.

Even former President Ahmadinejad, despite his importance and history, was banned by the Supreme Leader from running for this election. Ahmadinejad shocked everyone and announced himself a candidate with a series of clarifications and apologetic statements saying he didn’t disobey the directives of the Supreme Leader. He pledged to withdraw from the elections after the first round and said he only participated to support his friend, a presidential candidate, and give him the media and public attention.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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Exclusive: Putin-linked think tank drew up plan to sway 2016 U.S. election – documents

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

Exclusive: Putin-linked think tank drew up plan to sway 2016 U.S. election – documents

By Ned Parker, Jonathan Landay and John Walcott | WASHINGTON

A Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system, three current and four former U.S. officials told Reuters.

They described two confidential documents from the think tank as providing the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election. U.S. intelligence officials acquired the documents, which were prepared by the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies [en.riss.ru/], after the election.

The institute is run by retired senior Russian foreign intelligence officials appointed by Putin’s office.

The first Russian institute document was a strategy paper written last June that circulated at the highest levels of the Russian government but was not addressed to any specific individuals.

It recommended the Kremlin launch a propaganda campaign on social media and Russian state-backed global news outlets to encourage U.S. voters to elect a president who would take a softer line toward Russia than the administration of then-President Barack Obama, the seven officials said.

A second institute document, drafted in October and distributed in the same way, warned that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was likely to win the election. For that reason, it argued, it was better for Russia to end its pro-Trump propaganda and instead intensify its messaging about voter fraud to undermine the U.S. electoral system’s legitimacy and damage Clinton’s reputation in an effort to undermine her presidency, the seven officials said.

The current and former U.S. officials spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the Russian documents’ classified status. They declined to discuss how the United States obtained them. U.S. intelligence agencies also declined to comment on them.

Putin has denied interfering in the U.S. election. Putin’s spokesman and the Russian institute did not respond to requests for comment.

The documents were central to the Obama administration’s conclusion that Russia mounted a “fake news” campaign and launched cyber attacks against Democratic Party groups and Clinton’s campaign, the current and former officials said.

“Putin had the objective in mind all along, and he asked the institute to draw him a road map,” said one of the sources, a former senior U.S. intelligence official.

Trump has said Russia’s activities had no impact on the outcome of the race. Ongoing congressional and FBI investigations into Russian interference have so far produced no public evidence that Trump associates colluded with the Russian effort to change the outcome of the election.

Four of the officials said the approach outlined in the June strategy paper was a broadening of an effort the Putin administration launched in March 2016. That month the Kremlin instructed state-backed media outlets, including international platforms Russia Today and Sputnik news agency, to start producing positive reports on Trump’s quest for the U.S. presidency, the officials said.

Russia Today did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for Sputnik dismissed the assertions by the U.S. officials that it participated in a Kremlin campaign as an “absolute pack of lies.” “And by the way, it’s not the first pack of lies we’re hearing from ‘sources in U.S. official circles’,” the spokesperson said in an email.

PRO-KREMLIN BLOGGERS

Russia Today and Sputnik published anti-Clinton stories while pro-Kremlin bloggers prepared a Twitter campaign calling into question the fairness of an anticipated Clinton victory, according to a report by U.S. intelligence agencies on Russian interference in the election made public in January. [bit.ly/2kMiKSA]

Russia Today’s most popular Clinton video – “How 100% of the 2015 Clintons’ ‘charity’ went to … themselves” – accumulated 9 millions views on social media, according to the January report. [bit.ly/2os8wIt]

The report said Russia Today and Sputnik “consistently cast president elect-Trump as the target of unfair coverage from traditional media outlets.”

The report said the agencies did not assess whether Moscow’s effort had swung the outcome of the race in Trump’s favor, because American intelligence agencies do not “analyze U.S. political processes or U.S. public opinion.” [bit.ly/2kMiKSA]

CYBER ATTACKS

Neither of the Russian institute documents mentioned the release of hacked Democratic Party emails to interfere with the U.S. election, according to four of the officials. The officials said the hacking was a covert intelligence operation run separately out of the Kremlin.

The overt propaganda and covert hacking efforts reinforced each other, according to the officials. Both Russia Today and Sputnik heavily promoted the release of the hacked Democratic Party emails, which often contained embarrassing details.

Five of the U.S. officials described the institute as the Kremlin’s in-house foreign policy think tank.

The institute’s director when the documents were written, Leonid Reshetnikov, rose to the rank of lieutenant general during a 33-year-career in Russia’s foreign intelligence service, according to the institute’s website [bit.ly/2oVhiCF]. After Reshetnikov retired from the institute in January, Putin named as his replacement Mikhail Fradkov. The institute says he served as the director of Russia’s foreign intelligence service from 2007 to 2016. [bit.ly/2os4tvz]

Reuters was unable to determine if either man was directly involved in the drafting of the documents. Reshetnikov’s office referred questions to the Russian institute.

On its website, the Russian institute describes itself as providing “expert appraisals,” “recommendations,” and “analytical materials” to the Russian president’s office, cabinet, National Security Council, ministries and parliament. [bit.ly/2pCBGpR]

On Jan. 31, the websites of Putin’s office [bit.ly/2os9wMr] and the institute [bit.ly/2oLn9Kd] posted a picture and transcript of Reshetnikov and his successor Fradkov meeting with Putin in the Kremlin. Putin thanked Reshetnikov for his service and told Fradkov he wanted the institute to provide objective information and analysis.

“We did our best for nearly eight years to implement your foreign policy concept,” Reshetnikov told Putin. “The policy of Russia and the policy of the President of Russia have been the cornerstone of our operation.”

(Reporting by Ned Parker and Jonathan Landay, additional reporting by Warren Strobel and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by David Rohde and Ross Colvin)

U.S. Government Targets Twitter User That Is Critical President Trump

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

The government is demanding to know who this Trump critic is. Twitter is suing to keep it a secret.

April 6 at 8:37 PM

U.S. government targets critical Twitter user

Twitter filed a federal lawsuit on April 6 to block an order by the U.S. government demanding that it reveal who is behind an account opposed to President Trump’s tough immigration policies. (Reuters)

Update: The U.S. government has withdrawn its request ordering Twitter to identify a Trump critic 

Twitter filed a lawsuit Thursday to block an order from the Department of Homeland Security that seeks to reveal the user of an account who has been critical of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

Tweets from the account — @ALT_uscis — indicate that it is run by someone who is an employee of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services division of Homeland Security.

Free speech advocates said the DHS order appeared to be the first time the government has attempted to use its powers to expose an anonymous critic — a development that, if successful, would have a “grave chilling effect on the speech of that account” as well as other accounts critical of the U.S. government, Twitter said.

DHS is “unlawfully abusing a limited-purpose investigatory tool” to find out who is behind the @ALT_uscis account, according to Twitter’s court filings.

DHS spokeswoman Jenny Burke declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

The case sets up a potential showdown over free speech between Silicon Valley and Washington, which has tussled over whether tech firms can resist government orders seeking the identity or personal information from criminals and suspected terrorists.

Apple, for instance, declined in early 2016 to unlock the phone of the shooter in San Bernardino, Calif., and has refused to build “back doors” that would enable law enforcement to break into smartphones. The move sparked a pitched battle between the company and the FBI, which eventually paid a private expert to unlock the device.

But the Homeland Security case struck free speech advocates as more remarkable because the information request was about the identity of a government critic, rather than public safety.

“Twitter has a pretty strong argument,” said Andrew Crocker, a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “It does look and smell like the government is going after a critic. There’s nothing in the summons that CBP [Customs and Border Protection] sent to Twitter that authorizes this request under the power that they have.”

The @ALT_uscis account, which was created in January, has not held back in firing attacks against the Trump administration.

In a Jan. 26 tweet, the @ALT_uscis account tweeted: “Fact: More than 40% of illegal aliens in the US are Visa overstays from other developed countries not sounding like MEXICO #TheResistance.”

The account has also called attention to mismanagement in agency operations. In a March 12 tweet, it said that “USCIS turns down regularly private companies who propose collaboration to streamline the intake process, reducing costs and processing time.”

The account’s description stresses that its views are “Not the views of DHS or USCIS.” As of the time of the court filing, the account had been active for two months and amassed more than 32,000 followers. By 8:15 p.m., that figure had grown to more than 86,000.

In its court filing with the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, Twitter said that DHS officials delivered an administrative summons to the social-networking site on March 14, via a CBP agent, demanding that the company provide records that would “unmask or likely lead to the unmasking” of the person or people behind the account.

Twitter maintains that CBP does not have jurisdiction to demand such information, which includes “names, account login, phone numbers, mailing addresses, and I.P. addresses,” associated with the account.

But its primary objection, the company said, is that allowing the government to unmask Twitter critics violates the Constitution’s First Amendment right to free speech. Twitter has defended its users’ rights to free expression — a position it has held for years, notably during the widespread Arab Spring protests in 2011. That right, the company said, is particularly important when discussing political speech.

“First Amendment interests are at their zenith when, as here, the speech at issue touches on matters of public political life,” the filing said.

Twitter added that it feared the government wants to punish the person or people responsible for the account. The summons, Twitter said, “may reflect the very sort of official retaliation that can result from speech that criticizes government officials and agencies.”

The company also has a lot at stake for its business, which could see a huge hit if anonymous users could suddenly be unmasked by the government. Unlike other social networks, Twitter allows its users to create accounts without publicly revealing their true identity.

This isn’t the first time Twitter has tangled with officials over its users’ personal information.

The company in 2012 appealed an order from the state of New York to reveal the identity of Occupy Wall Street protester Malcolm Harris. It lost that appeal. Twitter sued the Justice Department in 2014 for the right to make federal information requests for user data public. And it has lent its support to other companies’ fights against the government, including Apple’s opposition to the FBI order.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the user in the DHS case, expressed concern that the order is an attempt to curb free speech. “To unmask an anonymous speaker online, the government must have a strong justification,” ACLU attorney Nathan Freed Wessler said in a statement. “But in this case the government has given no reason at all, leading to concerns that it is simply trying to stifle dissent.”

ACLU said it plans to make its own filing in the court on behalf of the user in the next few days.

“It’s about the broader right to speak anonymously on the Internet,” said Esha Bhandari, an ACLU staff attorney.

The @ALT_uscis account is one of many “alternative government” accounts that have popped up since Donald Trump’s election. Accounts apparently run by employees (or former employees) of the National Park Service, the National Weather Service, the Labor Department and other agencies have appeared to question the Trump administration’s policies and fact-check its assertions
on a variety of topics.

The @ALT_uscis account didn’t respond to a tweet asking for comment on the suit, but was tweeting about the case and the account’s new followers.

Staff writer Craig Timberg contributed to this report

 

A Putin Opponent Is Doused in Green. He Makes It Work.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Photo

Alexei Navalny, a prominent Russian opposition leader, taking a selfie with supporters after an unknown assailant doused him with green liquid in Barnaul, Russia. CreditAlexei Navalny, via Associated Press

During Russia’s surreptitious invasion of Crimea, much was made of the “little green men,” soldiers without insignia who turned out to be Russian regulars.

On Monday there was a new green man — albeit one of a decidedly different political hue — the opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was doused with a bright green liquid in the Siberian city of Barnaul by an unknown assailant who had pretended to shake his hand.

Mr. Navalny wrote on his Facebook page that he initially feared an acid attack after feeling a burning sensation. But relief appears to have given way to exaltation after he realized that the bright green liquid not only would not harm him, but even made him look like a superhero — in his eyes, anyway. He can be seen mugging for the camera in a selfie taken after the fact.

Referring to masked heroes in Hollywood films in a post on Twitter, he wrote: “I will be opening a headquarters in Barnaul as if I am from the film The Mask! Cool. Even my teeth are green!”

Mr. Navalny, a charismatic critic of President Vladimir V. Putin, was a major driver of large street protests in 2011, 2012 and 2013, and has irked the Kremlin by shining a light on corruption. His bid to run for president of Russia was effectively derailed in February when a Russian court revived a four-year-old criminal conviction for defrauding a state company.

But he has continued to campaign, with his supporters saying the charges against him are politically motivated.

It turns out that being attacked with green substances is something of an occupational hazard for outspoken opponents of Mr. Putin. Late last month, Mikhail M. Kasyanov, another Putin critic, was spattered with green paint at a march in memory of the politician Boris Nemtsov, who was shot and killed on a Moscow bridge two years ago.

After the Siberia incident, some Navalny supporters showed solidarity by painting their faces green and posting on Twitter (“Alexey, Kazan headquarters is with you! We support!”), and one prominent blogger was detained after being seen on Red Square with his face and hands painted green.

“This strange assumption of the Kremlin: to pour brilliant green on me so that I don’t travel around the country and call rallies,” he wrote on Facebook. “It’s way cooler that way. Barnaul and Biysk volunteers (where we are opening two campaign headquarters these days) will get the most stylish selfies ever, and I’ll be the star of any rally.”

He did, however, seem more concerned about his new green teeth. “Lemon won’t help you remove brilliant green,” he wrote. “Formic acid is way better. But I’ll remain light-green for quite some time. What worries me is my teeth. They are also green so far, but I hope they’ll discolor.”

Whatever his new appearance, he showed little sign of backing down. “Our plans don’t change,” he wrote on Facebook. “On 26th, turn out for rallies.”

Continue reading the main story

Pope Francis: Read The Bible As Often As You Check Your Cellphone

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME AND THE VATICAN AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Pope Francis: Read the Bible as Often as You Check Your Cellphone

12:51 PM Eastern

(VATICAN CITY) — Pope Francis has called on the faithful to consult the Bible with the same frequency as they might consult their cellphones for messages.

Francis urged a packed St. Peter’s Square following his weekly Angelus blessing Sunday to give the Bible the same place in daily life as cellphones, asking: “What would happen if we turned back when we forget it, if we opened it more times a day, if we read the message of God contained in the Bible the way we read messages on our cellphones.”

The message was a twist on Francis’ frequent use of social media to reach the faithful, including regular messages on Twitter.

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