Tag Archives: Might

A few things you might have missed from the Mueller report

A few things you might have missed from the Mueller reportWASHINGTON (AP) — Special counsel Robert Mueller's report focuses on the seminal questions of whether President Donald Trump's campaign colluded with the Russians and whether the president sought to illegally obstruct the investigation.



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How Assange’s arrest and potential extradition might prove embarrassing for Trump

How Assange’s arrest and potential extradition might prove embarrassing for TrumpDespite persistent reports over the last week that Julian Assange was soon to be expelled from the Ecuadorean embassy in London and arrested, when the moment finally arrived, with footage of him being dragged out of the building by police, it was nevertheless a stunning development.What took place, nearly seven years after Assange first sought refuge in the diplomatic mission, is however, not the end of the tale, with all of its twists and turns. It is merely the opening of a new chapter for the founder of WikiLeaks, and one which may reveal important and intriguing information, potentially with far-reaching consequences.Within hours of his arrest, Assange was found guilty at Westminster magistrates court on charges of failing to answer bail in June 2012 after he had been arrested on sexual assault charges made against him in Sweden.Those charges were subsequently dropped. But Elisabeth Massi Fritz, lawyer for one of the two women who accused Assange, announced on Thursday that “we will do everything we can to ensure that the prosecutors resume the Swedish preliminary investigation so that Assange can be extradited to Sweden and prosecuted for rape.”It was, he claimed, fears over extradition to the US which caused him to refuse to go to Sweden to be questioned by prosecutors, and instead seek asylum on Ecuadorian soil. This threat, say his supporters, remains – the fear that he would be extradited to America and face a heavy sentence over Wikileaks’ hacking and dissemination of US intelligence and defence documents in 2010.The US had not hitherto admitted that it is seeking to prosecute Assange, an Australian citizen, but the US justice department had, in November, inadvertently disclosed that he had been secretly charged over the documents when lawyers erroneously included his name in court papers related to another case.The US Justice Department has now unsealed the indictment and insists that Assange faces just five years in prison if convicted.But, a source told CNN on Thursday, the DoJ expects to bring further charges against Assange, but it is not clear what those charges would be or when they would be filed.In the extradition case, which will begin in May in London, charges allege that Assange was involved in a computer hacking conspiracy with Chelsea Manning to crack Defence Department passwords and encourage Manning (then an army private and intelligence analyst called Bradley Manning) to continue to provide classified information.Manning, who was convicted by a court-martial in the hacking of the intelligence and defence material and spent seven years in prison, is currently back in jail for refusing to give evidence to a Grand Jury investigating WikiLeaks and Assange earlier this year.But it is another set of hacks involving Assange and Wikileaks and America which could prove highly problematic for Donald Trump. Assange is suspected of helping Russian interference in the presidential election by releasing information stolen from Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democrats and subsequently released by WikiLeaks.Last July the US Justice Department charged 12 Russian military intelligence officers, from the GRU, with hacking computers, with the indictment stating that they had been in contact with WikiLeaks.The former WikiLeaks founder has not been indicted in ‘Russiagate’, but he is certain to face investigation in relation to it if he is returned to the US, with a number of committees of the House of Representatives, now Democrat-controlled, who have begun inquiries into Trump.A number of people close to Trump are said to have been in touch with Assange over the hacking of the Democrat emails, including Roger Stone, a long term and close advisor to the US president. Stone was in January arrested as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian attempts to subvert the election.Mueller’s indictment states that during the election campaign, Stone talked regularly to Trump officials about the information WikiLeaks, called ‘Organisation 1’, possesses which would be damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.“Stone was contacted by senior Trump campaign officials to inquire about future releases by Organisation … On multiple occasions, Stone told senior Trump campaign officials about material possessed by Organisation 1 and the timing of future releases.”Stone had mentioned contacts with Assange and at one point instructed a friend, believed to be the conservative author Jerome Corsi, to “get to” Assange in the Ecuadorean embassy in London and obtain the pending WikiLeaks emails.He also allegedly told Ted Malloch, a Trump supporter in London, to see Assange. Stone later claimed, speaking to a Republican group in Florida: “I actually have communicated with Assange. I believe the next tranche of his documents pertain to the Clinton Foundation, but there’s no telling what the October surprise will be.”A British name has also come up in relation to Assange and the Hillary Clinton emails – that of Nigel Farage. The former Ukip leader, who regularly boasts of his closeness to Trump, visited Assange at the embassy in 2017 after returning from a trip to the US. The news of the visit broke after a member of the public saw him go into the building.Glenn Simpson, whose Washington-based investigations firm hired former MI6 officer Christopher Steele to compile a report on Trump and Russia, told a US Congressional inquiry in January that Mr Farage was a more frequent visitor to Assange than was known and that he had passed data on to Assange on “a thumb drive”.Mr Farage had denied the claims, but refused to tell a number of news organisations what he had discussed with Assange. He said to me when I asked: “I met Julian Assange just once. I went there in a journalistic capacity because like you I wanted to find out about the emails, no real answer was forthcoming. It is nonsense to say that I had met him secretly. Do you think one of the best known faces in the country can go into the embassy without people noticing?”Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, following Assange’s arrest, that the WikiLeaks founder’s rights must not be violated. Earlier the Foreign Ministry in Moscow had accused Britain of “strangling freedom” over the affair. The footage of Assange, frail, white bearded and dishevelled being taken out of the embassy was livestreamed by Ruptly, a subsidiary of RT, formerly Russia Today, which is bankrolled by the Russian government.Assange now faces potential extradition and litigation in the cases in Sweden and the hacking of the classified intelligence and defence documents in 2010. He also faces investigation and possible litigation over the Democrat hacking in 2016.The legal process on all these cases will likely take a long time, and his lawyers have already said he plans to appeal extradition to the US. More details will emerge about the alleged sexual assaults and collusion with Chelsea Manning and we may, also, discover if Julian Assange played a part in influencing the US presidential election from his house-arrest, albeit self-imposed, in a building in West London.



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Pentagon Admits Plan to Launch 1,300 Satellites Might Not Prevent Chinese or Russian Attacks

Pentagon Admits Plan to Launch 1,300 Satellites Might Not Prevent Chinese or Russian AttacksPhoto Illustration by Kelly Caminero/The Daily Beast/GettyA new Pentagon space agency wants to launch nearly 1,300 small satellites and, in the process, totally reinvent the way the military operates in orbit.The goal: to help the U.S. satellite constellation survive a sneak-attack by China or Russia. With hundreds of satellites in orbit, no single satellite is critically important, or so the thinking goes. If the Chinese or Russians were to knock out one or even dozens of satellites, scores more could take their place.But the new “mega-constellation” plan from the Space Development Agency might not actually work. The agency’s own director, Fred Kennedy, said it probably was “no panacea” against an enemy attack.It could be prohibitively expensive to deploy so many sats. Rocket launches are getting cheaper. But they might not yet be so cheap that the Pentagon could afford to conduct hundreds of them in a short span of time.In any event, the agency’s plan is advisory. The Pentagon could just ignore it. But the idea is interesting if no for other reason than its contrarianness. Today the U.S. military and other government agencies, universities and private companies together operate around 850 satellites, according to a count by the Massachusetts-based Union of Concerned Scientists. Second-place China has 280 satellites and Russia, in third place, has 150.But America’s satellites increasingly are vulnerable to attack, according to military officials. “China and Russia both are building direct-ascent weapons that can shoot down our satellites,” U.S. Air Force general John Hyten, the head of U.S. Strategic Command, said on Tuesday at the annual Space Symposium conference in Colorado Springs.“Direct-ascent weapon” is military parlance for “rocket.”That’s not all. Hyten also said Russia and China also are building lasers that can blind American spacecraft and jammers that cut the satellites’ links to controllers on the ground plus “on-orbit” weapons—in essence, kamikaze satellites that can ram into American sats.Not only are Moscow and Beijing building arsenals for taking down America’s space assets, they’re “doing it aggressively and quickly,” Hyten said.To be clear, the U.S. military has anti-satellite weapons of its own. And American sats aren’t exactly defenseless. Starting in 2018, the Air Force spent a billion dollars adding “resilience features” to some of its spacecraft. Resilience features might include better thrusters, allowing the spacecraft to maneuver more quickly in order to avoid attack. They may also include extra sensors on the spacecraft that act as a sort of orbital home-security system, monitoring the approach of potential assailants, according to James Oberg, an independent space expert and former NASA mission control specialist.“Now that autonomous mini-satellites can approach other satellites, sometimes without detection from the ground, space-based detection must be installed on the potential targets,” Oberg told me. The sensors could include cameras, radars, radio-signal detectors and “sniffers” that can track the energy from other satellites' thrusters, Oberg added.But the Space Development Agency, a small research organization that opened shop in March, wants to take a different approach. The Pentagon asked Congress for $ 150 million to fund the new agency through 2020.Rather than beefing up individual spacecraft, under the mega-constellation plan the military would simply buy lots more small, inexpensive satellites, reinforcing or replacing the roughly 170 large, expensive sats the armed forces currently operate.Speaking at the Colorado conference on Tuesday, Kennedy said he wants to see the Pentagon deploy “hundreds, perhaps even a thousand or more small satellites exhibiting a host of capabilities.”A graphic Kennedy displayed broke down the numbers of different kinds of spacecraft in the proposed mega-constellation. In all, 1,258 small satellites would crowd low orbit, scanning the Earth and space and relaying radio communications. Three copies of an “advanced maneuvering vehicle”—presumably some version of the Air Force’s secretive X-37B robotic mini-shuttle—would orbit above the other sats. Artificial intelligence would help ground-based controllers to maneuver and coordinate the hundreds of spacecraft, Kennedy said.But the plan hinges on very cheap space launches. Lots of them. In 2018, U.S. entities launched just 31, mostly big, satellites—many of which might remain in orbit a decade or longer. Since small satellites might last just a year or two, to build the mega-constellation the military could need to expand its launch activities by a factor of 20. It could be pricey. According to a 2018 paper by NASA researcher Harry Jones, the price per pound of a satellite launch has decreased from around $ 24,000 in the 1980s and 1990s to just $ 1,200 in 2019. But launching 600 or more satellites annually instead of 30 could more than offset the falling per-pound price of a launch.Kennedy acknowledged the downsides of his agency’s satellite plan. “We recognize that this isn’t the sum total of the nation's space construct,” he said. "We should not jump to extremes.”But even experimenting with a new approach to deploying satellites could result in better technology and methods that could make it harder for Russia or China to knock out America’s spacecraft, Kennedy said. “This puts us on a wonderfully disruptive path.”Kennedy said his agency would begin conducting conducting war games in order to test out the mega-constellation concept starting in 2022.Read more at The Daily Beast.



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Explainer: Did he or didn't he? What might an obstruction case against Trump look like?

Explainer: Did he or didn't he? What might an obstruction case against Trump look like?According to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, Mueller’s nearly 400-page report on his findings presents evidence on both sides of the question, and while it “does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” But Barr, two days after Mueller submitted the confidential report on March 22, told U.S. lawmakers in a four-page letter that he as attorney general concluded that the evidence amassed by the special counsel “is not sufficient” to establish that Trump committed criminal obstruction of justice. Federal law defines obstruction of justice as actions that “corruptly or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, influences, obstructs, or impedes, or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice.” The public may soon get a chance to make its own conclusions.



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Explainer: What might be blacked out of Mueller's Trump-Russia report?

Explainer: What might be blacked out of Mueller's Trump-Russia report?While congressional Democrats have demanded the release of the full report with nothing blacked out, as well as the underlying evidence Mueller collected, Barr has said he will redact four categories of sensitive information. According to a March 24 letter Barr sent to lawmakers, Mueller’s nearly 400-page report presents evidence on both sides of the question of whether Trump engaged in obstruction of justice, and while it “does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” Barr said in his letter that Mueller did not establish that the Trump campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Russia. Barr also said that he as attorney general concluded that Mueller’s evidence was “not sufficient” to establish that Trump committed criminal obstruction of justice.



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The Super Secret SR-72 Spy Plane (That Might Also Be a Stealth Bomber)

The Super Secret SR-72 Spy Plane (That Might Also Be a Stealth Bomber)Hypersonic weapons—those capable of flying over five times the speed of sound—are the hot new buzz word of defense industrial complexes across the globe. China, Russia and the United States have all vigorously and relatively openly pursued a diverse array of hypersonic weapons programs, adding fuel to the fire of a growing arms race.While long-range ballistic missiles could already attain hypersonic speeds, they travel in predictable arcs and can be detected well in advance, giving military and political leaders time to react. Furthermore, an increasing number of air defense systems may be at least partially capable of intercepting ballistic missiles.However, back in 2013 Lockheed executive Robert Weiss caused a stir when he told Aviation Week the aerospace titan was well into developing a hypersonic aircraft—and invoked the legendary SR-71 Blackbird spy plane by dubbing it the SR-72.



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We Might Be About to See the First Ever Photo of a Black Hole

We Might Be About to See the First Ever Photo of a Black HoleAn announcement next week by the European Southern Observatory might contain the first-ever photo of a black hole's event horizon.



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Explainer: Why Mueller's report might be a letdown for Trump critics

Explainer: Why Mueller's report might be a letdown for Trump criticsThe Starr report presented explicit details about Clinton’s sexual encounters with a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky and accused Clinton of specific crimes including perjury, attempted obstruction of justice, witness tampering and “a pattern of conduct that was inconsistent with his constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws.” Starr operated under an independent counsel law that has since lapsed. Mueller’s powers differ from those of Starr, and Justice Department regulations place limits on him that Starr did not face.



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Trump and Kim Jong Un might officially end the Korean War. Here's why that could matter.

Trump and Kim Jong Un might officially end the Korean War. Here's why that could matter.After 66 years, a peace declaration at the Vietnam summit could lead to negotiations and more normal relations between the two Koreas and America.



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Beto’s counter-rally hints at how he might run against Trump

Beto’s counter-rally hints at how he might run against TrumpPrivately, those close to O’Rourke offer nothing further than that. Among his fans was President Barack Obama, who praised O’Rourke for his authenticity. Those close to O’Rourke say they believe he would prefer to run the same kind of campaign for the White House.



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