Links for 8-13-2018

Links for 8-10-2018

Links for 7-27-2018

  • Donald Trump thought he had a deal with Recep Tayyip Erdogan to free American Andrew Brunson. Israel deported a Turkish woman charged with smuggling for Hamas, and in exchange Turkey was supposed to release Brunson. Instead a Turkish court transferred Brunson from prison to house arrest, and Trump and Mike Pence started making public threats against Turkey.

  • The FBI’s application to the FISA court for a warrant to wiretap Carter Page failed to state that Christopher Steele, the source of much of the intelligence information in the warrant application, was biased against Donald Trump.

  • Silicon Valley is now a hotbed of spying:

    We tend to think of espionage in the United States as an East Coast phenomenon: shadowy foreign spies working out of embassies in Washington, or at missions to the United Nations in New York; dead drops in suburban Virginia woodlands, and surreptitious meetings on park benches in Manhattan’s gray dusk.

    But foreign spies have been showing up uninvited to San Francisco and Silicon Valley for a very long time. According to former U.S. intelligence officials, that’s true today more than ever. In fact, they warn—especially because of increasing Russian and Chinese aggressiveness, and the local concentration of world-leading science and technology firms—there’s a full-on epidemic of espionage on the West Coast right now. And even more worrisome, many of its targets are unprepared to deal with the growing threat.

    Later:

    Political espionage happens here, too. China, for example, is certainly out to steal U.S. technology secrets, noted former intelligence officials, but it also is heavily invested in traditional political intelligence gathering, influence and perception-management operations in California. Former intelligence officials told me that Chinese intelligence once recruited a staff member at a California office of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, and the source reported back to China about local politics. (A spokesperson for Feinstein said the office doesn’t comment on personnel matters or investigations, but noted that no Feinstein staffer in California has ever had a security clearance.) At the Aspen Security Forum last week, FBI director Chris Wray acknowledged the threat Chinese spying in particular poses, saying, “China from a counterintelligence perspective represents the broadest, most pervasive, most threatening challenge we face as a country.”

  • South Korea summoned a Chinese embassy official to complain that Chinese military planes are infringing on South Korea’s air defense territory.

  • Pakistan’s major political parties conceded defeat to former cricket player Imran Khan in an election that European Union monitors said was unfair.

Links for 7-23-2018

Links for 7-13-2018

Links for 6-23-2018

  • Andrew McCarthy writes that Donald Trump can resolve the tension between the Department of Justice/FBI and Congress:

    Rosenstein and Wray work for Trump. And they are not Obama holdovers; they are Trump appointees. If they are defying Congress, it is because the president is permitting them to do so. Twitter tantrums and dark deep-state conspiracy theories don’t count; the president is empowered give his subordinates a direct order to comply with Congress’s demands, and to fire them immediately if they fail to do so. The president has the unilateral authority to disclose executive-branch files to lawmakers, including classified documents. Trump could have done this any time in the last 18 months.

    The FBI did turn over thousands of documents this week, including documents describing how it used informants to spy on Trump’s campaign. The FBI has not, however, turned over documents describing how they used the Steele dossier to obtain FISA court warrants for surveillance.

  • The Trump administration cancelled two more military exercises with South Korea to appease North Korea:

    The military previously announced it was halting all plans for a massive command post exercise known as Ulchi Freedom Guardian, which had been due to begin in August.

    The Pentagon said Friday that the suspension would include two joint Marine training exercises that had been “scheduled to occur in the next three months.”

  • The latest Department of Justice inspector general report says the FBI discovered 700,000 of Hillary Clinton’s emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop, copied there by Huma Abedin. Having obtained the emails, the FBI did next to nothing with them:

    Remember: Hillary Clinton’s attorneys produced approximately 30,000 of her emails, and they appear to have claimed that was the entirety of her work-related emails. Mrs. Clinton, staff and technical support had deliberately deleted approximately 33,000 emails that were just about “yoga” and “wedding plans.” They produced nothing from the beginning of her tenure as Secretary of State. Then, her server was wiped with “BleachBit.”

    Yet, lo and behold, here so many emails were. Hundreds of thousands of emails, the “entire file” — everything Clinton — including data from the BlackBerrys and other devices for which the FBI and DOJ decided not to run search warrants because they “assumed” they had been destroyed.

    So what did the FBI do with this “explosive” “bomb” including the “golden emails” on the BlackBerry that everyone knew was missing from the production?

    Nothing — at least nothing to obtain evidence.

    Later:

    United States Attorney Bharara was so sufficiently aware of the deafening silence from Washington that he instructed his chief counsel to document everything his office had done — “with a hundred percent accuracy.” “Things seemed unusual” to him, and he wanted a record of their actions, including their recovery of more than 700,000 emails.

  • The Department of Defense has recorded 20 incidents since last September where lasers were used against American pilots over the Pacific. China is believed to be responsible.

  • The president of Zimbabwe and the prime minister of Ethiopia both survived assassination attempts today.

  • Nearly 300 Turkish diplomats have requested asylum in Germany since the July 2016 coup attempt.

Links for 6-17-2018

  • Selena Zito taught 20 Harvard students what the rest of American looks like:

    On a blustery afternoon in April, I filed into a van along with 10 students from Harvard. We had just spent the last two days in Chicopee, Mass., where we had chatted with the police chief and his force, the mayor and his staff, small-business owners, waitresses and firemen about their struggles living in small-town America.

    The undergrads were buzzing with their impressions. Chicopee is about 90 miles west of their prestigious university in Cambridge, but when it comes to shared experience, it might as well have been 1,000 light years away.

    As they settled in, I looked at them.

    “So,” I said, “who do you think most of the people you just got to know voted for president?”

    None of the students had an answer. It hadn’t come up in their conversations and they didn’t know I had privately asked each person who they’d voted for.

    So, I let a minute pass and told them.

    “Nearly every one of them voted for Trump.”

    My students looked stunned, at first. But then a recognition crossed their faces.

  • Kevin Williamson wrote an excellent article on asymmetrical capitalism, the perverse results that emerge when governments over-regulate industries like airlines, banks, credit card companies, and health insurers.

    This pokes people right in their sense of fairness. Fairness is an almost infinitely plastic standard in the wrong hands, but it is nonetheless a big part of the real world’s moral architecture. Progressives look at these situations and conclude that the answer is — more regulation. They believe that the way to achieve fairness is to simply mandate it. This represents some pretty primitive thinking, but primitive thinking dominates politics. Progressives are not alone in their frequent blindness to the ways in which regulation itself is a driving force behind these problems. (It is not the only force, to be sure.) A better answer is more-robust competition, but it is not always clear how to go about achieving that.

    These deficiencies represent what amounts to an enormous tax on Americans. Some of those are direct costs: We pay more for health insurance, mortgage insurance, and Internet services than we probably would in a stronger market. But many of those are invisible taxes, too: American businesses waste billions of dollars a year on unnecessary travel expenses because they cannot count on U.S. airlines to keep to anything like their published schedules, which means they end up having to tack hotel expenses and 48 hours of diminished productivity onto the bill for a two-hour meeting. Many of those costs end up getting passed along to consumers and providers of business services — and to employees, too, to the extent that attaching $200,000 a year in expenses to a $75,000-a-year employee may put downward pressure on wages.

  • Barack Obama’s presidential library is going to cost Illinois taxpayers at least $200 million.

  • The U.S. and South Korea will reportedly suspend “large scale” military drills, which aligns with Donald Trump’s discussions with Kim Jong Un.

  • A car bomb killed at least 26 people at a gathering of Afghan and Taliban troops in Afghanistan. ISIS claimed responsibility. Afghanistan’s President extended the country’s unilateral ceasefire with the Taliban by 10 days.

  • A shootout and a fire in Nicaragua killed eight people and broke the truce between the government and opposition groups. Talks between the two sides are continuing anyway.

  • Cambodia’s Prince Norodom Ranariddh was injured and his wife was killed in a car crash.