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sabato 18 agosto 2018

More than a dozen senior intelligence officials, including the retired navy admiral who oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, have heavily criticised Donald Trump, accusing him of trying to stifle free speech in revoking the security clearance of former spy chief John Brennan......

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The White House after sunset
 William H McRaven said Donald Trump had shown few of the qualities of a leader. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
More than a dozen senior intelligence officials, including the retired navy admiral who oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, have heavily criticised Donald Trump, accusing him of trying to stifle free speech in revoking the security clearance of former spy chief John Brennan.
Writing in the Washington Post, William H McRaven, who presided over the Bin Laden raid, called Trump’s moves “McCarthy-era tactics” and said he would “consider it an honor” if Trump revoked his clearance as well.
“Like most Americans, I had hoped that when you became president, you would rise to the occasion and become the leader this great nation needs,” he wrote. “A good leader tries to embody the best qualities of his or her organization. A good leader sets the example for others to follow. A good leader always puts the welfare of others before himself or herself.
“Your leadership, however, has shown little of these qualities. Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.”
McRaven also praised Brennan as “a man of unparalleled integrity, whose honesty and character have never been in question, except by those who don’t know him”.
“Director Brennan’s recent statements purport to know as fact that the Trump campaign colluded with a foreign power. If Director Brennan’s statement is based on intelligence he received while leading the CIA, why didn’t he include it in the Intelligence Community Assessment......
It came after Brennan called Trump’s repeated denials that his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election “hogwash” and accused the president of revoking his security clearance as part of a “desperate” attempt to interfere with the special counsel’s investigation.
The criticism was followed later on Thursday by a joint letter from 12 former senior intelligence officials calling Trump’s action “ill-considered and unprecedented”. They said it “has nothing to do with who should and should not hold security clearances – and everything to do with an attempt to stifle free speech”. 
The signatories included six former CIA directors, five former deputy directors and former director of national intelligence James Clapper. Two of them – Clapper and former CIA director Michael Hayden – have appeared on a list of people whose security clearance the White House has publicly threatened to remove.
And late on Thursday night, a 13th name signed on – that of Robert Gates, who served as defense secretary under former presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama and had previously been George HW Bush’s director of the CIA, Slate and CNNreported.
Trump on Wednesday openly tied his decision to strip Brennan of his clearance – and threaten nearly a dozen other former and current officials – to the investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion with his campaign. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump again called the investigation a “rigged witch-hunt” and said: “These people led it!”
“So I think it’s something that had to be done,” he said.
The president’s comments were a swift departure from the official explanation given by the White House earlier on Wednesday that cited the “the risks” posed by Brennan’s alleged “erratic conduct and behavior”.
Michael Morrell, former deputy director of the CIA, wrote on Twitter: “Bill McRaven is among the least partisan, the least political, the most patriotic people I know. His taking a stand on this issue is very significant.”
Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe mocked Trump. “I’m on board with Admiral McRaven. If I had a security clearance Trump could revoke, I’d ask him to revoke it,” he tweeted.
Trump supporters on social media made comments ranging from “anyone who endorses Brennan is a dirty dog” to “please Donald Trump revoke McRaven’s security clearance – he’s literally asking for it”.
Attorneys said the revocation appeared to be within the president’s authority. 
Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, agreed. “The president is fixated on the Russia investigation, he’s angry about it, and he wants to do everything he can to discourage or slow down the investigation,” he said.
Special counsel Robert Mueller and his team have been looking at Trump’s public statements and tweets as they investigate whether the president could be guilty of obstruction. 
Former CIA directors and other top national security officials are typically allowed to keep their clearances, at least for some period.
The initial White House statement about Brennan’s clearance made no reference to the Russia investigation. Instead, the president said he was fulfilling his “constitutional responsibility to protect the nation’s classified information”, even though he made no suggestion that Brennan was improperly exposing the nation’s secrets.
“Mr Brennan’s lying and recent conduct characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary is wholly inconsistent with access to the nations’ most closely held secrets,” Trump said.
A few hours later his explanation had changed. “You look at any of them and you see the things they’ve done,” Trump told the Journal. “In some cases they’ve lied before Congress. The Hillary Clinton whole investigation was a total sham.”
“I don’t trust many of those people on that list,” he said. “I think that they’re very duplicitous. I think they’re not good people.”

di  per "theguardian.com"

Prominent US climate scientists have told the Guardian that the Trump administration is holding up research funding as their projects undergo an unprecedented political review by the high-school football teammate of the US interior secretary.....

Climate scientists say a policy enacted by US interior secretary Ryan Zinke, pictured with Donald Trump and Rick Perry, is holding up scientific research funding.
 Climate scientists say a policy enacted by US interior secretary Ryan Zinke, pictured with Donald Trump and Rick Perry, is holding up scientific research funding. Photograph: Steve Helber/AP
Prominent US climate scientists have told the Guardian that the Trump administration is holding up research funding as their projects undergo an unprecedented political review by the high-school football teammate of the US interior secretary.
The US interior department administers over $5.5bn in funding to external organizations, mostly for research, conservation and land acquisition. At the beginning of 2018, interior secretary Ryan Zinke instated a new requirement that scientific funding above $50,000 must undergo an additional review to ensure expenditures “better align with the administration’s priorities”.
Zinke has signaled that climate change is not one of those priorities: this week, he told Breitbart News that “environmental terrorist groups were responsible for the ongoing wildfires in northern California and, ignoring scientific research on the issue, dismissed the role of climate change.
Steve Howke, one of Zinke’s high-school football teammates, oversees this review. Howke’s highest degree is a bachelor’s in business administration. Until Zinke appointed him as an interior department senior adviser to the acting assistant secretary of policy, management and budget, Howke had spent his entire career working in credit unions. 
Steve Howke, now a senior adviser in the department.
Pinterest
 Steve Howke, now a senior adviser in the department. Photograph: mcun.coop
The department, which manages a significant portion of the US landmass, has attributed the slower pace of funding approval to efforts to reduce “waste, fraud and abuse”. Yet the policy, which has been in place for six months, is already hindering some research. One of the largest programs affected is the Climate Adaptation Science Centers, a network of eight regionally focused research centers located at “host” universities across the country.
“I think there is a real suspicion about what science is being done, and if you were going to design a way to bog things down so not much could happen, you might do it like this,” said a scientist affiliated with one of the centers who asked to remain anonymous owing to the perceived risks of speaking out. “We have voiced the challenges we have hiring staff, hiring students, with the science we can do, but I think that we’re not a priority audience.”
Initially authorized by Congress during the Bush administration, the centers have been widely viewed as a success and received strong bipartisan support.
“We really are just trying to do the best science that we can,” said Renee McPherson, a University of Oklahoma environmental researcher who is head of the center focusing on the southern-central US. It is McPherson’s job to understand how changes in climate extremes in the region can lead to such disasters as record wildfires in New Mexico in 2011 and 2012 or 2017’s Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
The Climate Adaptation Science Center focused on the southern-central US looks at how climate extremes can lead to disasters such as Hurricane Harvey.
Pinterest
 The Climate Adaptation Science Center focused on the southern-central US looks at how climate extremes can lead to disasters such as Hurricane Harvey. Photograph: David Goldman/AP
But due to the funding delays, McPherson said that this year she did not encourage scientists at her center to recruit new students and postdocs, and she didn’t bring on any new students for her own group. 
“It does pose problems when you’re wanting to continue your research,” she said. “[Our stakeholders] want answers sooner rather than later, especially if they’re undergoing severe drought conditions right now or they just had extensive flooding.”
Every administration brings new priorities to the cabinet departments, but in agencies that fund science, this is usually reflected in the subject areas of calls for proposals. The awarding procedures – rigorous reviews of proposals conducted by agency staff with relevant scientific expertise – stay the same. “We are not used to an additional political review on top of that,” McPherson said.
“Funneling every grant over $50,000 to a single political appointee from departments that range from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to the [US Geological Survey] to the Bureau of Reclamation suggests a political micromanagement approach,” said David Hayes, an interior deputy secretary in the Obama and Clinton administrations who now directs the State Energy and Environmental Impact Center at the NYU School of Law. He described it as “political interference” that is “both unprecedented and pernicious”.
Scientists with the US Geological Survey – the interior department agency to which the centers belong – now require approval from Washington DC before speaking to the media in any context, and have faced restrictions on attending conferences.
And earlier this year, it was revealed that political appointees at the National Park Service attempted to censor a scientific report by removing every mention of the human causes of climate change.
“It’s hard to have any conclusion other than the administration is looking to steer the science in a political direction,” Hayes said. Many scientists affiliated with the climate adaptation centers concurred.
“It feels like an effort to create obstacles to success,” said one. “My concern is, are they creating an environment that will prevent us from being successful as an excuse then to not fund us in the future?”
Dennis Ojima, a professor of ecosystem science and sustainability at Colorado State University who heads the North Central Climate Adaptation Center, complained of months-long delays.
“The uncertainty that we have is compounding with every week,” Ojima said. “For teams that are trying to initiate new research it’s difficult to get the graduate students and postdocs lined up.”
Neither Howke nor the interior department responded to a request for comment.
Senators Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii authored a letter to Zinke in June, signed by 10 other senators, after hearing complaints from organizations that hadn’t received expected interior department funding and were forced to cancel programs as a result. The Chicago Botanic Garden, for instance, lost funding for its National Seed Strategy program, meant to guide restoration and resilience programs for landscapes affected by extreme climate events.
Scott Cameron, the deputy assistant secretary who supervises Howke, responded by citing several examples of funds that had previously been awarded inappropriately or mismanaged by awardees as justification for the policy. The letter also said the department is suffering from understaffing, the review process is “still evolving,” and that “when the focus is on getting money out quickly, waste, fraud and abuse has a higher probability of occurring”.
Duckworth responded in a statement that the interior department “has yet to explain why it hired a high school football teammate of Secretary Zinke’s, who seems to have no relevant experience, to oversee the grant review process instead of improving financial management controls through department experts and career officials”.

di  per "the guardian.com"

venerdì 17 agosto 2018

BELGRADE -- Serbian police have closed a paramilitary youth camp organized by Russian and Serbian far-right groups on a mountain in western Serbia following complaints from the public. Authorities say the summer camp on Mount Zlatibor included children as young as 12 and adults up to age 23. They were being trained by Russian and Serbian instructors on how to use guns and knives......

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Belgrade will not tolerate such camps where "children in uniforms" are taught combat skills.


BELGRADE -- Serbian police have closed a paramilitary youth camp organized by Russian and Serbian far-right groups on a mountain in western Serbia following complaints from the public.
Authorities say the summer camp on Mount Zlatibor included children as young as 12 and adults up to age 23. They were being trained by Russian and Serbian instructors on how to use guns and knives.
Altogether, a total of 34 males and 10 females were attending the weeklong Youth Patriotic Camp Zlatibor 2018. The camp attendees were from Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said on August 17 that the camp was dismantled "because of possible abuse of children" and that participants were sent home.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Belgrade will not tolerate such camps where "children in uniforms" are taught combat skills.
Serbia's Defense Ministry said that it was not involved in organizing the camp.
Camp organizer Zeljko Vukelic, a Serbian war veteran who heads the Association of Participants in Armed Conflicts on Former Yugoslav Territory, told RFE/RL that the camp only used old rubber, training replica rifles.
Vukelic also told RFE/RL the so-called Patriotic Youth camp received support from Russia's embassy in Serbia and that a Russian military attache had visited the facility.
The Russian ultranationalist group ENOT Corp, a co-organizer of the camp, described the project as a "military patriotic" camp.
In April, about 30 Serbian teenagers traveled to Russia to attend a similar paramilitary training camp organized by ENOT Corp.
Valery Sambarov, one of ENOT's leaders, told RFE/RL their goal was to help young people "become real men and warriors in order to defend their country."
Such camps have proliferated in Russia since 2015, when the Kremlin called for an increase in "patriotic youth" -- children who grow up to be soldiers -- by sending them to paramilitary training facilities.
Serbia has declared its goal of joining the European Union. But it has been under strong pressure from Russia to reverse its pro-Western course.
With reporting by AP

US President Donald Trump has vowed to take new steps to free an American pastor detained in Turkey, stating that “we haven’t seen the last of it.” Pastor Andrew Brunson has been held by Ankara since 2016.....


‘We are not going to take it sitting down’: Trump on detention of US pastor in Turkey
US President Donald Trump has vowed to take new steps to free an American pastor detained in Turkey, stating that “we haven’t seen the last of it.” Pastor Andrew Brunson has been held by Ankara since 2016.
“They should have given him back a long time ago, and Turkey has in my opinion acted very, very badly,” Trump told reporters on Friday. “So, we haven't seen the last of that. We are not going to take it sitting down. They can't take our people.”
The US president’s remarks followed a ruling by a Turkish court, which rejected an appeal for the release of US Pastor Andrew Brunson.
The man has been detained by Turkish authorities for nearly two years. Brunson is accused of being linked to Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric who Ankara has said was the mastermind behind the botched coup attempt in July 2016. Brunson faces up to 35 years in Turkish jail over a number of charges, which include espionage and acting “on behalf of terror groups.”
Back in September 2017, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered the US the opportunity to swap Brunson for Gulen himself. “‘Give us the pastor back,’ they say. You have one pastor as well. Give him [Gulen] to us,” Erdogan said at the time.
The detained pastor has found himself in the middle of a diplomatic row between Washington and Ankara, which greatly escalated last week with Trump placing new tariffs on steel an aluminum imports – a move which has put significant pressure on Turkey. The new restrictions sent the Turkish lira into a downward spiral and prompted a strong reaction from President Erdogan, who said that his country would not “crumble” under the pressure. Turkey, for its part, hiked tariffs on some US goods such as tobacco, alcohol, cars, cosmetics and launched a boycott of US electronic devices, including Apple iPhones.
Trump, in turn, promised new sanctions against Ankara if the “wonderful” pastor was not released. “Turkey has taken advantage of the United States for many years. They are now holding our wonderful Christian Pastor, who I must now ask to represent our country as a great patriot hostage. We will pay nothing for the release of an innocent man, but we are cutting back on Turkey!” Trump tweeted on Thursday.

da "rt,com"

Un aereo della compagnia cinese Xiamen Airlines con 165 persone a bordo è finito fuori pista nell'atterraggio all'aeroporto di Manila, nelle Filippine. Secondo i media locali, il velivolo ha provato una prima volta ad atterrare mentre sull'aeroporto era in corso un violento nubifragio.....



xiamen airlines 6XIAMEN AIRLINES 6
Un aereo della compagnia cinese Xiamen Airlines con 165 persone a bordo è finito fuori pista nell'atterraggio all'aeroporto di Manila, nelle Filippine. Secondo i media locali, il velivolo ha provato una prima volta ad atterrare mentre sull'aeroporto era in corso un violento nubifragio.
 
xiamen airlines 5XIAMEN AIRLINES 5
Il secondo tentativo è avvenuto mentre i contatti con la torre di controllo erano stati interrotti e l'aereo è 'rimbalzato' sull'asfalto, finendo nell'erba alla sinistra della pista. I passeggeri sono stati fatti scendere dagli scivoli di emergenza.
xiamen airlines 4XIAMEN AIRLINES 4
 
L'incidente ha causato la chiusura temporanea dell'aeroporto Ninoy Aquino di Manila. Decine di voli sono stati cancellati, mentre altri sono stati spostati verso altri aeroporti
xiamen airlines 2XIAMEN AIRLINES 2xiamen airlines 7XIAMEN AIRLINES 7xiamen airlines 1XIAMEN AIRLINES 1xiamen airlines 3XIAMEN AIRLINES 3