Violent crime increased in 2016 for a second consecutive year, FBI says
Violent crime increased in the United States for a second consecutive year in 2016, remaining near historically low levels but pushed upward in part by an uptick in killings in some major cities, according to FBI statistics made public Monday. The FBI …
FBI Releases 2016 Crime StatisticsFederal Bureau of Investigation (press release) (blog)
FBI: Violent crime increases for second straight yearUSA TODAY
Violent crime rising throughout US, FBI saysFox News
BBC News –NBCNews.com
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What Is Mueller Looking for in the Facebook Russia Ads?
The Wall Street Journal and CNN recently reported that Facebook provided data about Russian advertising purchases made in the run-up to the 2016 election to Special Counsel Robert Muellerpursuant to a search warrant. According to the WSJ and CNN …
The Trump-Russia saga has more characters than War and Peace and plot twists harder to follow than Game of Thrones.
So making sense of the latest news – that the FBI had taken out not one, but two surveillance orders under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort – can be difficult to put into context.
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But in fact, this new piece of information actually can help connect the counterintelligence and criminal investigations that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is overseeing, and show how a FISA warrant may have played a role in each.
I have already provided a detailed description of the (onerous) process of obtaining a FISA order, and the legal standards it requires. The only thing to add in Manafort’s case is that since he is a U.S. person (or USPER, in intel slang), the standards to obtain a FISA warrant on him are slightly higher than the generic process I described in my earlier piece.
First, the probable cause standard required the FBI to provide evidence that Manafort was “knowingly engaging in clandestine intelligence activities” (rather than merely being “an agent of a foreign power”)– in other words, that he wasn’t just acting on behalf of a foreign power, but that he was doing so with full knowledge that what he was doing involved spying.
Second, in order to continue monitoring Manafort, the FBI would have been required to check in with the FISA court every 90 days and show that their surveillance had, in fact, produced foreign intelligence information. Only with this continuing, additional evidence would the FISA order be renewed for an additional 90 days at a time.
Keeping these factors in mind, let’s look at what we know. We know that the FBI had one FISA surveillance order on Manafort on or about 2014. This was in relation to his consulting work on behalf of the pro-Russia ruling party in Ukraine at the time.
We also know that the surveillance ceased at some point before Manafort joined President Trump’s campaign in 2016. It then recommenced at some point after that, based on his connections with Russian intelligence and evidence suggesting that he was encouraging them to interfere in the presidential election.
That surveillance continued into at least early 2017. The “gap” covered the period of time when Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., and Jared Kushner met with Russians at Trump Tower to discuss – depending on whose version you believe – “adoptions” or incriminating information the Russians claimed to have on Hillary Clinton.
Following along so far? Good.
Paul Manafort, former campaign chairman for Donald Trump, at the Mayflower Hotel April 27, 2016 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty
Let’s look at the “gap.” According to reporting, the initial FISA surveillance ceased after a court found that the FBI was no longer collecting foreign intelligence based on that order. This likely would have occurred at one of the 90-day renewal points after the surveillance began.
Now, one conclusion might be that there was no foreign intelligence activity actually happening – or perhaps that the basis for this order itself was somewhat flimsy.
However, if the order had been renewed at least once since it commenced, which would be likely even if it began in late 2014 or early 2015, that was probably not the case: After all, in order to renew the order at any point prior to it ceasing, the FBI would have had to produce ongoing foreign intelligence collection.
I invite you to consider another possibility. If Manafort was already being developed by Russian intelligence since 2014, and was approached in a more concrete, operational way around summer 2016, then they would likely want him to begin communicating with them through other means than he was already using.
If this happened, collection on the lines, accounts, or facilities targeted by the initial FISA order would go dry, and would explain why the surveillance ceased. In other words, there was no longer any foreign intelligence activity happening on the first FISA – but that’s because it was happening somewhere else.
(It’s worth noting here that a FISA order would not necessarily need to cover only phone lines, or even a single mode of communication; as long as the FBI could prove that the mode of communication was being used by the target and likely to produce foreign intelligence, multiple communication channels could be authorized in the same order – you don’t need to obtain a separate FISA warrant for a phone number and an email address, for example, as long as you can demonstrate that both belong to and are used by the target.)
That the first FISA order ceased because Manafort became “operational” is admittedly purely speculative. But based on my experience working against foreign intelligence targets, this would be consistent with the timeline in several respects.
First, the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting has been characterized by many intelligence experts as a “test run” – an experiment to see how open members of the Trump campaign might be to engaging in some potentially illegal behavior in order to benefit the campaign.
Having Manafort already on board would make sense in this scenario: Even if this might have been only an initial approach to Donald Trump, Jr. and Jared Kushner, the Russians would know they had at least one person in the campaign – Manafort – at that point who was “all in,” and could make the meeting less threatening for the newbies.
Second, it helps explain why a second FISA order was brought before the FISA court. It would make sense that after the initial FISA surveillance ceased and Manafort “went dark,” the FBI would be trying to determine what he was up to. We know that in this period the FBI obtained new intelligence that Manafort was in contact with the Russians and had enough evidence to substantiate a second FISA application.
The new intelligence may have formed the basis to go back on the same lines or accounts as in the initial FISA. But if the FBI uncovered new channels or modes of communication that Manafort was using with the Russians, this could also be the reason for the second FISA warrant: Just because the FBI went up for a second time on the same target does not mean that they recommenced surveillance on the same channels as before.
(This latter possibility implies some uncharacteristic operational sloppiness on the part of the Russians, but considering that Manafort was taking notes from the Trump Tower meeting on his iPhone and emailing directly with a Russian oligarch in code about offering secret briefings on the Trump campaign, this is not necessarily a stretch.)
Third, this theory would explain Mueller’s keen interest in Manafort in particular. Mueller’s investigation is first and foremost a counterintelligence investigation. Regardless of whether Don Jr. or Jared Kushner had any subsequent meetings or contacts with the Russians or colluded with them in their active measures, the FISAs suggest that Manafort holds the real keys to the kingdom.
Namely, how was election interference plan conceived? What operational measures were involved? Was there any quid pro quo? Who else was in on it?
This is to emphasize that Mueller may be just as – if not, more – interested in Manafort spilling the identities and methods of the Russians in this whole scenario as in those of any Americans members of the Trump campaign who were involved.
After all, we know that with the Facebook search warrant that Mueller is potentially interested in pursuing Russians living in Russia who tried to disseminate disinformation in the U.S. He would surely be as interested in identifying and nailing the Russian operatives who participated in active measures to influence the election here in the States.
Which brings us to Mueller’s criminal investigation on Manafort. To get Manafort to talk, Mueller needs some, shall we say, “incentives.” The prospect of serious jail time for not cooperating is usually effective.
The problem is, that for all of Manafort’s red-flaggy behavior with the Ukranians and the Russians, there aren’t really a lot of laws against spying. There’s the Espionage Act, which relates to defense and classified information and doesn’t apply in the current scenario. And there’s the Foreign Agent Registration Act, which as Steve Vladeck explains is a procedural statute: People or entities officially designated as foreign agents must register if the Department of Justice asks them to, but as long as they comply with that request they may be out of the crosshairs of criminal prosecution.
Manafort retroactively registered as a foreign agent in June. Even if Mueller chose to prosecute Manafort’s failure to register earlier, FARA carries a weak penalty — only a five-year maximum — and a low likelihood of being able to prove willful evasion of the law. Because of that combination, FARA wouldn’t likely create enough leverage on its own.
Financial crimes, by contrast, carry significant penalties, particularly when multiple charges are added together. Here is where the FISA orders could have come into play again.
It’s important to emphasize that the goal of using a FISA warrant is not to collect evidence of a crime; it’s to collect foreign intelligence information. However, since 9/11 and the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, evidence of criminal activity that is obtained through the course of a FISA investigation can be used to open a criminal case, as long as a “significant purpose” of the FISA inquiry was to obtain foreign intelligence.
Here, the FISA warrants on Manafort were based on his intelligence connections. But if he was engaging in financial shenanigans, related or unrelated to his alleged intelligence activities, signs of it may have become apparent during the FISA monitoring, allowing the FBI to open a separate criminal case on Manafort – which is where we are now.
We don’t know the content of the communications monitored under the FISA orders, which might really add the missing links to what connections, if any, existed between the Trump campaign and Russia. But the existence of the FISA warrants themselves on Manafort, and their timing, gives us a way to understand the facts so far.
So even if, like me, you’ve never made it all the way through War and Peace (I don’t even watch Game of Thrones), you can still follow along with Mueller:
There’s a method to his madness against Manafort.
Asha Rangappa is the Associate Dean of Admissions at Yale Law School. She served in the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a Special Agent, specializing in counterintelligence investigations in New York City from 2002 until 2005.
USA TODAY–4 hours ago
CNN International–39 minutes ago
In-Depth–Washington Post–5 hours ago
Highly Cited–FiveThirtyEight–4 hours ago
In-Depth–Vox–3 hours ago
Violent crime increased in the United States for a second consecutive year in 2016, remaining near historically low levels but pushed upward in part by an uptick in killings in some major cities, according to FBI statistics made public Monday.
The FBI’s release of the figures comes as the Trump administration has warned ominously of a dangerous crime wave. In his inaugural address, President Trump described “American carnage” in U.S. cities, while Attorney General Jeff Sessions said earlier this year he worried the crime uptick was “the beginning of a trend.”
Some experts and analysts have disputed that suggestion, noting that crime levels were much higher a quarter-century ago and pointing out that the recent increases are not universal. In some major cities, violence has surged, while in others it has declined. Chicago, a much-cited example, saw a spike in murders last year, as did Las Vegas and Louisville; killings dropped, meanwhile, in places including New York, Cincinnati and Newark.
[Homicides went up last year in Chicago and some other cities across the country]
The FBI statistics for 2016 show that the estimated number of violent crimes nationwide increased 4.1 percent over the previous year. The violent crime rate was 386.3 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, up from 373.7 a year earlier, and the highest figure since 2012. Murder and non-negligent manslaughter was up 8.6 percent over 2015, the FBI data show, and the murder rate increased to 5.3 per 100,000 people, the highest that figure has been since 2008. Firearms were once again used in most killings.
In the violent crime and murder rates alike, the numbers reported last year were well below figures seen during previous decades. Going back to the mid-1980s, the violent crime and murder rates were both consistently higher, particularly in the early 1990s. In 1991, for instance, the violent crime rate was 758.2 per 100,000 people, and the murder rate was 9.8 per 100,000 people, after which both numbers began to fall, albeit with some year-over-year increases.
The FBI considers four crimes — murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault — to be violent crimes involving force or the threat of force.
Looking more recently, the statistics released Monday show that the violent crime rate in 2016 was down 18 percent from 2007, while the murder rate was down 6 percent over the same period.
Sessions, who has tied some of his policy pushes to the increase in crime, said Monday that the Justice Department would fight what he described as a “rising tide of violent crime” nationwide.
“For the sake of all Americans, we must confront and turn back the rising tide of violent crime. And we must do it together,” Sessions said in a statement. “The Department of Justice is committed to working with our state, local, and tribal partners across the country to deter violent crime, dismantle criminal organizations and gangs, stop the scourge of drug trafficking, and send a strong message to criminals that we will not surrender our communities to lawlessness and violence.”
In a news release containing Sessions’s statement, the Justice Department said that the data released Monday “reaffirms that the worrying violent crime increase that began in 2015 after many years of decline was not an isolated incident.”
Richard Berk, a professor of statistics and criminology at the University of Pennsylvania, disputed the suggestion that the national numbers suggested any sort of trend, pointing out that crime occurs on a local level.
“The fundamental thing is, national summaries are really sort of empty calories,” Berk said Monday. “There’s no real information in there to guide policy, or citizen concerns, because the action is all very local.”
Berk added: “Some cities that have more problems than others, and in those cities some neighborhoods have more problems than others, and to talk about national anything is just politics.”
The Brennan Center for Justice, a New York-based law and policy institute, said Monday that the murder rate increase was fueled by an uptick in killings in some of the country’s largest cities — with Chicago accounting for more than a fifth of the nationwide murder increase last year.
“The FBI’s data show trends similar to what we’ve found for crime, murder, and violence in 2016,” Ames Grawert, a counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program, said in a statement Monday. “Crime remains near historic lows, with an uptick in murder and violence driven in part by problems in some of our nation’s largest cities. At the same time, other cities like New York are keeping crime down.”
The Brennan Center released an analysis earlier this month saying that the violent crime rate and murder rate are both expected to decline in 2017. The center had said that individual cities could play an outsize role in impacting the overall crime rates, saying the 2015 surge in killings was fueled by just three cities — Chicago, Baltimore and Washington. Last year, the center reported that the increased homicide rate for the country’s 30 biggest cities was in large part due to Chicago, finding that it was responsible for nearly half of this increase.
Homicides went up in last year more than three dozen of the country’s biggest cities or counties, according to data collected by the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the group of law enforcement leaders. That included Chicago, which had 762 homicides in 2016, up from 482 homicidesa year earlier, along with cities such as Phoenix and Louisville.
Other cities reported declines, including New York, the country’s largest city, which reported 335 murders last year, down from 352 a year earlier and less than half the 673 murders reported in 2000. The city is continuing that this year, with 192 murders reported through Sept. 17, down from 250 at the same point a year earlier. Cities including Portland and Minneapolis were also among those reporting fewer homicides last year as well.
[Homicides are spiking again in some big U.S. cities. Chicago has seen nearly half the increase.]
Across the country, leaders of law enforcement agencies have attributed the increase in violence to gang activity, opioids and heroin and “the overwhelming presence of guns,” said Darrel Stephens, executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association and a former Charlotte police chief.
Stephens said that Sessions’s concerns about violent crime are understandable, noting that the attorney general has met with police chiefs who have concerns about violence, including those from cities where the homicide counts have not been increasing.
“He’s heard those concerns from big city police chiefs, he’s met with them,” Stephens said Monday. “I’ve been in some of those meetings, and they do talk about that. But even in cities that aren’t having increases in violent crime, they still have a level of violent crime that they find, and most of the communities find, is not acceptable. Those violent crimes still take place in high poverty neighborhoods. It is a continued source of concern even if they’re not experiencing the big increases.”
Still, Stephens offered a note of cautious optimism for 2017, noting that data collected by the Major Cities Chiefs Association showed fewer cities were reporting homicide increases at the halfway point of the year, and some of those that were have seen smaller jumps.
“This year’s a little better so far,” Stephens said. “The increases don’t seem quite as bad as they were in the past. It’s hard to say for sure but I’m thinking that by the time we get ourselves to the end of this year, it’s not going to look like 2016, it’s going to look a little bit better.”
In a message accompanying the statistics Monday, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray focused largely on increasing transparency, particularly when it comes to how police use force, an issue that has roiled the country in recent years. He noted that the FBI had created a database to collect use-of-force statistics for law enforcement, which will include any encounter that ends with a person killed, seriously injured or when a gun is fired at them.
“Our goal is that this data will lead to more informed and accurate discussions within our communities and the media and that these discussions will foster more transparency and improve communications between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” Wray wrote.
The FBI’s statistics on deadly uses of force by police have long been known to be incomplete. The FBI reported that last year, 435 people were killed in justifiable homicides by law enforcement officers. The Washington Post’s database tracks all deadly police shootings and was launched in part due to the lack of any federal system logging such killings, found at least 963 fatal shootings carried out by police officers last year.
Sessions has tied the recent increase in violent crime to “undermined” respect for police officers and, in a recent speech, connected Chicago’s crime rates to the city’s policies on undocumented immigrants, a contention disputed by the police there.
In other categories, the FBI statistics released Monday showed positive signs. Property crimes dropped by 1.3 percent, the data show, the 14th consecutive year that figure fell. Burglary and larcenies fell, the FBI reported. But along with murder and non-negligent manslaughter, the FBI reported that rape and aggravated assault both increased in 2016.
The FBI’s data was compiled in an annual report called “Crime in the United States,” which collects information reported voluntarily by law enforcement agencies to the bureau’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program.
This story, first published at 9:16 a.m., has been updated with additional information.
Violent crime went up in 2015
Sessions makes sweeping attack on Chicago’s sanctuary city policy
The Washington Post’s police shootings database
Additional statistics from Crime in the United States, 2016 include:
- Last year’s data shows there were 95,730 rapes reported to law enforcement, based on the UCR’s legacy definition. (Learn more about the updated rape definition.)
- Of the violent crimes reported to police in 2016, aggravated assault made up 64.3 percent, while robbery was 26.6 percent. Rape (legacy definition) accounted for 7.7 percent of the violent crimes reported last year, and murder made up 1.4 percent.
- About 7.9 million property crimes were reported to the UCR, with losses (excluding arson) of about $15.6 billion.
- The report estimates that law enforcement agencies made about 10.7 million arrests in 2016 (excluding arrests for traffic violations).
The 2016 report has been streamlined from 81 information tables to 29, but it still includes key data on major categories—such as known offenses and number of arrests—that researchers, law enforcement, and the public expect. Crime in the United States, 2016 also includes the additional publications Federal Crime Data, Human Trafficking, and Cargo Theft.
In his message accompanying the report, FBI Director Christopher Wray called on law enforcement agencies to continue transitioning to the more informative National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). Use of NIBRS data, which will be the national standard for crime reporting by 2021, will provide additional transparency. Wray called for the country to “get beyond anecdotal evidence and collect more comprehensive data so that we have a clearer and more complete picture of crime in the United States.” He also noted the creation of the FBI’s database to collect law enforcement use-of-force statistics to facilitate an informed dialogue within communities.
“The more complete the data, the better we can inform, educate, and strengthen all of our communities,” Wray said.
FBI, This Week: 2016 Crime in the United States Report Released
September 25, 2017
The FBI’s 2016 Crime in the United States report shows violent crime jumped 4.1 percent and property crime decreased 1.3 percent when compared to the year before.
Mollie Halpern: The FBI’s 2016 Crime in the United States report shows violent crime jumped 4.1 percent when compared to the year before.
The report shows increases compared to 2015 in all four offenses in the violent crime category: murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Murder has the largest growth at 8.6 percent.
2016 was the second year in a row for an increase in violent crime, but Assistant Director of the Criminal Justice Information Services Division Douglas Lindquist says numbers for property crimes went in the opposite direction.
Douglas Lindquist: Property crimes decreased now for the 14th year in a row and have shown a 1.3 percent decrease over the 2015 numbers.
Halpern: This year’s annual report has been streamlined.
Lindquist: We’re trying to give the public, the press, Congress, everybody out there—and the law enforcement agencies—the information that they need and put it at their fingertips without them having to do unnecessary searches.
Halpern: About 16,700 local, state, tribal, college, and federal law enforcement agencies submitted the crime data to the FBI for the report. Read the report at <a href=”http://www.fbi.gov” rel=”nofollow”>www.fbi.gov</a>. With FBI, This Week, I’m Mollie Halpern of the Bureau.
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We Know a Lot About What Robert Mueller Is Doing. We Also Know Nothing at All.
New York Magazine
There’s a temptation to treat every revelation about Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election, every breadcrumb about its progress, as the missing piece bringing us closer to the undoing of the Trump administration.
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National crime isn’t the epidemic the FBI would have us believe
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Federal Bureau of Investigation (press release) (blog)
2016 Crime Statistics Released
Federal Bureau of Investigation (press release) (blog)
Violent crime increased for the second consecutive year, while property crime decreased for the 14th straight year, according to the FBI’s annual report on national crime statistics released today. There were an estimated 17,250 murders in the U.S …
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FBI Releases 2016 Crime Statistics
Federal Bureau of Investigation (press release) (blog)
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Facebook Warned FBI About Russian Interference Before 2016 Election: Report
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FBI: Violent crime increases for second straight year
WASHINGTON – Violent crime in the U.S. ticked up in 2016 for the second consecutive year – the first time a two-year increase was recorded in more than a decade, according to the FBI. Overall violent crime was up 4.1% last year, while murder increased …
However, it found no solid proof of Russian disinformation and turned over everything it found to the US government. Reportedly, neither US law enforcement nor national security personnel met with Facebook to share or discuss the information.
After Obama pulled Zuckerberg aside, Facebook starting taking the problem more seriously, but again failed to find clear links to Russian operatives, the WaPo says. On July 20th this year, Facebook actually told CNN that “we have seen no evidence that Russian actors bought ads on Facebook in connection with theh election.”
It finally uncovered proof of suspicious activity after tracking a firm called the Internet Research Agency, a known Russian hacking operation. By working backwards, it discovered over 3,000 ads around social and political issues it had posted between 2015 and 2017.
Right now they are operating in an arena where they have some, but very few, legal responsibilities. We are going to keep seeing examples of this kind, and at some point the jig is going to be up and the regulators are going to act.
Putin-backed Russian groups paid up to $100,000 to buy the ads, and boosted anti-immigrant rallies in Idaho, among other activities. Facebook recently turned over the ads to the US Intelligence Committee and congressional investigators, who say the findings are likely just “the tip of the iceberg.” Facebook executives will also testify before a Senate Intelligence committee.
While it appears that Facebook turned over any evidence to US law enforcement as soon as it found it, ads and fake news are filtered mostly by algorithms. Facebook’s human content gatekeepers, often contractors, are mostly on the watch for violent or sexually explicit materials, not foreign propaganda.
In response the latest report, a company spokesman says that “we believe in the power of democracy, which is why we’re taking this work on elections integrity so seriously, and have come forward at every opportunity to share what we’ve found.”
However, many observers think that Facebook can’t be trusted on the problem. “It’s rooted in their overconfidence that they know best, their naivete about how the world works, their extensive effort to avoid oversight and their business model of having very few employees so that no one is minding the store,” Professor Zeynep Tufekci from UNC Chapel Hill told the Post.
Other critics believe that Facebook is going to need much more oversight. “Right now they are operating in an arena where they have some, but very few, legal responsibilities,” Stanford Law School scholar Morgan Weiland told The Atlantic earlier this month. “We are going to keep seeing examples of this kind, and at some point the jig is going to be up and the regulators are going to act.”
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Readers compare this coverage with their dwindling bank balances and crumbling infrastructure and feel disconnected and disenfranchised, and latch onto something — anything — that speaks to them. That might be President Trump’s tweets. Or dubious “news” from an extreme right- or left-wing site might ring true. Or they might turn to Russian disinformation, which exploits this trust gap.
All is not lost. Disinformation can be defeated without the establishment of a shiny new initiative cased in the language of Cold War 2.0. Instead of “rapid information operations,” the United States should work to systematically rebuild analytical skills across the American population and invest in the media to ensure that it is driven by truth, not clicks.
The fight starts in people’s minds, and the molding of them. In K-12 curriculums, states should encourage a widespread refocusing on critical reading and analysis skills for the digital age. Introductory seminars at universities should include a crash course in sourcing and emotional manipulation in the media. Similar courses could be created as professional development for adults, beginning with state employees. Large corporations could be offered government incentives to participate, too.
Training like this has a proven track record. In Ukraine, IREX, a nongovernmental organization, trained 15,000 people in critical thinking, source evaluation and emotional manipulation. As a result, IREX measured a 29 percent increase in participants who double check the news they consume. Another neighbor of Russia, Finland, has been resistant to Russian influence in part because of its media education program, which begins in childhood.
The American government should also work to level the information playing field, increasing its investment in public broadcasters and demanding a hefty financial commitment from companies like Facebook and Twitter — the unwitting agents of Russia’s information war — to support the proliferation of local, citizen-focused journalism. If social networks are unwilling to be the arbiters of truth (despite 45 percent of American adults’ getting news from Facebook), they should at the very least provide grants to reporters who cover the local issues that most immediately affect people’s lives and donate advertising to small outlets that cannot compete with national media giants.
Finally, under no circumstances should the United States attempt to restrict freedom of the media. The United States might label RT or Sputnik a foreign agent, but it should never ban them. It also need not reinvent the wheel by creating an American version of RT. These would be grave mistakes that would erode America’s position as a beacon of free speech. They would contribute to the crisis of trust that makes Russian disinformation successful in the first place.
Russia has very deftly exploited America’s weaknesses — but these are weaknesses of our own making. Until policy makers start putting people at the heart of their fight against disinformation, they will continue to be easy targets for Russian lies.
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Damaged by her decision two years ago to allow more than one million migrants into Germany, Merkel’s conservative bloc secured 33 percent of the vote, losing 8.5 points — its lowest level since 1949. Her coalition partners, the center-left Social Democrats, also slumped and said they would go into opposition.
Voters flocked to the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), the first far-right party to enter the German parliament in more than half a century. However, the AfD hardly had time to savor its third-place showing before it fell into internal bickering.
Many Germans see the rise of the AfD as a similar rejection of the status quo as votes for Brexit and Donald Trump last year. But Germany’s political center held up better than in Britain and the United States as more voters have benefited from globalization and most shun the country’s extremist past.
Merkel’s party remained the biggest parliamentary bloc and Europe’s most powerful leader sought to keep her coalition options open on Monday, saying she would start talks with the Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens as well as the SPD.
SPD leader Martin Schulz said earlier his party had no choice but to go into opposition “to defend democracy against those who question it and attack it,” after dropping to a post-war low of 20.5 percent.
“I heard the SPD’s words, nevertheless we should remain in contact,” Merkel told a news conference. “I think all parties have a responsibility to ensure that there will be a stable government.”
Merkel made clear she still intended to serve a full four years as chancellor. But her next coalition could be her toughest yet with her only remaining potential partners, the business-friendly FDP and the pro-regulation Greens, at odds on issues from migrants to tax, the environment and Europe.
The FDP’s leader Christian Lindner set the stage for tricky talks, saying his party would not agree to a coalition with the conservatives and the Greens, dubbed “Jamaica” because the parties’ colors mirror the country’s flag, at any price.
He said changes were needed in Germany’s energy policy and its stance on euro zone fiscal policy. But he struck a more conciliatory tone on Europe, saying Germany had an interest in a strong France. [B4N1JX00B]
The Greens set out climate change, Europe and social justice as their priorities in any coalition talks.
The emergence of the Greens as powerbrokers in any coalition weighed on markets. Shares in carmaker BMW (BMWG.DE) were down 0.2 percent, while those in automotive supplier Continental (CONG.DE) dropped 0.4 percent. RWE (RWEG.DE) — which operates 15.25 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired plants in Germany, 38 percent of its total European capacity — fell 4.6 percent to a six-week low.
The party campaigned to ban the sale of new combustion-engine cars from 2030 and are calling for a quick phase-out of coal power plants.
Many Germans were alarmed by the rise of AfD who the foreign minister likened to Nazis. Protesters threw stones and bottles at police outside its campaign party in Berlin on Sunday.
But just a day after the election, the AfD showed signs of fracturing as co-leader Frauke Petry, one of its most prominent faces, said she would not sit in parliament with AfD members. It was not immediately clear why she was making such a move.
The election also exposed rifts in Merkel’s conservatives, with her allies the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), who face a regional election next year, demanding a shift to the right to win back voters lost to the AfD.
“They will try their best to recover lost ground on the right side of the political spectrum. Going into a coalition in Berlin with the Greens and the FDP will make this more difficult,” said Janis Emmanouilidis from the European Policy Centre.
Investors were unsettled by the prospect of a weaker Merkel at the head of a potentially unstable “Jamaica” coalition and also worried that months of coalition talks could distract from talks with Britain over its divorce from the European Union.
The euro EUR=D4 and European stocks slipped, while concerns about the emergence of a more hardline stance toward the euro zone in the bloc’s largest economy weighed on Southern European government bonds.
“The weak result could make Angela Merkel a lame duck much faster than international observers and financial markets think,” ING economist Carsten Brzeski said.
Klaus Wohlrabe, economist at the Munich-based Ifo economic institute, said new elections could not be excluded and the result could stoke uncertainty as German business confidence deteriorated unexpectedly in the weeks before the election.
German business also expressed concern.
Matthias Mueller, chief executive of Volkswagen, said he was “shocked” by the AfD’s double-digit showing and said the success of Europe’s largest economy hinged on its tolerance and openness to the world.
“For Germany’s biggest industrial company I say: In the globalized economy, national egoism and protectionism lead to a dead – and in the end a loss of jobs.”
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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.
The TRAVEL BAN
President Trump issued a new order restricting travel to nationals from eight countries yesterday, replacing the previous order which was due to expire yesterday and imposing indefinite restrictions on travel for most citizens from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, North Korea, and subjecting Venezuelan citizens to heightened security checks. Devlin Barrett reports at the Washington Post.
“Making America Safe is my number one priority,” Trump tweeted yesterday, linking to a presidential proclamation issued on the same day. It is unclear how the new order will affect the legal challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union (A.C.L.U.), which is due to be considered by the Supreme Court next month. The BBC reports.
The restrictions on the new countries included in the order and the revised waiver policy are set to take effect on Oct. 18; existing visa-holders are exempt from the travel ban and waivers remain available for travelers with ties to the U.S., however the order seems to have narrowed the exemptions. Josh Gerstein and Ted Hesson report at POLITICO.
The new order is more targeted than the president’s previous orders, according to officials, tailoring travel restrictions depending on nationality, with officials expecting that the inclusion of two non-Muslim countries would overcome the charge that it was an unconstitutional ban on Muslims. Laura Meckler reports at the Wall Street Journal.
Critics of the original ban expressed similar concerns about the new order, the executive director of the A.C.L.U. Anthony D. Romero arguing that the inclusion of North Korea and Venezuela “doesn’t obfuscate the real fact that the administration’s order is still a Muslim ban.” Michael D. Shear reports at the New York Times.
The restriction on North Korea is largely symbolic as most North Koreans in the U.S. are based at the United Nations and North Korea generally does not allows its ordinary citizens to travel abroad. The APreports.
Iraqi citizens are no longer included in the travel ban but will face heightened security checks, restrictions on citizens from Sudan were also removed. Jeff Mason and Phil Stewart report at Reuters.
“The State Department will coordinate with other federal agencies to implement these measures in an orderly manner,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement yesterday, Laura Jarrett and Sophie Tatum report at CNN.
The Supreme Court could avoid deciding on the travel ban legal case altogether, according to legal experts, the new order potentially allowing the court to consider the case no longer a live issue. Lawrence Hurley reports at Reuters.
A summary of who is affected by the entry restrictions is provided by Marty Lederman at Just Security.
An attack on the U.S. mainland is “inevitable,” North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho said Saturday during a speech to the U.N., on the same day the U.S. flew eight warplanes close to North Korea’s eastern coastline while remaining in international airspace, according to a statement by the Pentagon. Farnaz Fassihi and Ben Kesling report at the Wall Street Journal.
“This is the farthest north of the Demilitarized Zone (D.M.Z.) any U.S. fighter or bomber aircraft have flown in the 21st century,” Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said Saturday, adding that the mission demonstrates “U.S. resolve” and sends a “clear message that the President has many military options to defeat any threat.” John Bowden reports at the Hill.
A 3.5 magnitude earthquake at the weekend near a North Korean nuclear test site appears to have been natural, according to experts, Simon Denyer reports at the Washington Post.
Diplomats and national security experts have expressed concern about Trump’s belligerent rhetoric, stating that the president has created an ambiguous situation where it is difficult to tell whether he would back up his threats with action, thereby widening the possibility of miscalculation and the Pyongyang regime misreading the likelihood of a U.S. attack. Julie Hirschfeld Davis explains at the New York Times.
China has grown increasingly frustrated with North Korea but its influence over the country has never been weaker, according to experts, leaving the country caught between a war of words between the U.S. and North Korea, but not wanting to precipitate the collapse of the Pyongyang regime. Simon Denyer explains at the Washington Post.
Iran tested a new medium-range ballistic missile at the weekend, prompting Trump to criticize the 2015 nuclear agreement as not reining in Iran’s ballistic missile program in a tweet and accusing the country of working with North Korea. Aresu Eqbali reports at the Wall Street Journal.
The Khorramshahr ballistic missile was displayed at a military parade on Friday, during which Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated that Iran would continue to develop and strengthen its missile program. Reuters reports.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (I.R.G.C.) unveiled its Russian-made 3-300 air defense system in the capital of Tehran yesterday as part of displays marking the 37th anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war. The AP reports.
The U.S. “is proving that it is unreliable,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said in an interview yesterday with Fareed Zakaria at CNN, criticizing the Trump administration’s approach to the 2015 nuclear deal.
Trump’s decision to certify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal by the Oct. 15 deadline could have implications for dealing with the North Korea threat, detractors arguing that the agreement allows North Korea to see what it could get away with, and supporters arguing that walking away from the deal would demonstrate that the U.S. cannot be trusted with negotiations. Rebecca Kheel explains at the Hill.
The president’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner used his personal email account for official government business, his lawyer confirmed in a statement yesterday, stating that the emails “usually forwarded news articles or political commentary and most often occurred when someone initiated the exchange.” Maggie Haberman and Sharon LaFraniere report at the New York Times.
Other Trump administration aides have also used their personal email accounts for government business, meaning that the communications could circumvent the requirements of the Presidential Records Act which requires all documents related to the president’s personal and political activities to be archived. Josh Dawsey reports at POLITICO.
Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump did not set up a private server, according to two sources familiar with their email account, however Kushner’s lawyer declined to answer questions about the possibility of the emails containing classified information. Carol D. Leonnig, Ellen Nakashima and Rosalind S. Helderman report at the Washington Post.
President Obama warned Facebook C.E.O. Mark Zuckerberg about fake news on Nov. 19, two months before Trump’s inauguration, Obama stating that the problem would get worse during the next presidential campaign if not addressed. Adam Entous, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg report at the Washington Post.
IRAQI KURDISTAN REFERENDUM
The Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum is being held today, with ballots being held across the three provinces in the Kurdish autonomous region and disputed territories, including the city of Kirkuk. The BBC reports.
“We will not recognize the referendum, nor its results,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said yesterday, shortly after Barzani made a speech stating that he would be “ready to start the process of dialogue with Baghdad” after today’s vote. Al Jazeera reports.
The Kurdish region was ordered to hand over control of border crossings and airports to Iraq’s central government yesterday, ahead of the referendum. Qassim Abdul-Zahra reports at the AP.
Iran halted flights to and from the Iraqi Kurdistan region yesterday and held military exercises on the border, closing the airspace at the request of Iraq’s central government. Al Jazeera reports.
“We stress again that we will take all measures arising from international law and the Turkish parliament’s authority” in response to the referendum, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement today, Reuters reports.
Turkey blocked access at a border gate with northern Iraq, according to the broadcaster N.T.V., Reuters reporting.
Turkey is considering closing its airspace and a border gate to northern Iraq following a formal request from Iraq’s central government, the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said today, the AP reports.
“We will never go back to the failed partnership” with Baghdad, Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani said yesterday, defying neighboring countries and other Western nations who oppose the referendum. Maher Chmaytelli and Daren Butler report at Reuters.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Reçep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the referendum by phone, Erdogan’s office said yesterday, sharing mutual concern about impact of the vote on the region and emphasized the importance of Iraq’s territorial integrity. Reuters reports.
The referendum is a “strategic mistake” that undermines the Iraqi Kurds’ quest for independence because it lacks constitutional standing, undermines the government in Baghdad, threatens Iraq’s borders and security, and increases the possibility of further destabilizing the region. The Wall Street Journal editorial board writes.
The history and context behind the independence referendum is provided by David Zucchino at the New York Times.
The U.S.-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (S.D.F.) seized a key gas plant from the Islamic State, the S.D.F. said yesterday, marking a significant blow to the extremist group’s ability to generate revenue. Raja Abdulrahim reports at the Wall Street Journal.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (I.R.G.C.) targeted Islamic State group bases with drone strikes yesterday near the Syria-Iraqi border, according to Iranian state television, Reuters reports.
Russia and Syria have intensified their bombing campaigns on rebel-held areas in the Idlib and Hama provinces, rebels and witnesses said yesterday, marking increased violence following six months of relative calm. Suleiman Al-Khalidi reports at Reuters.
Airstrikes hit rural Aleppo in northern Syria yesterday despite a cease-fire in the province, according to activists and a war monitoring group. The AP reports.
A Russian general was killed by mortar shelling near the Syrian city of Deir al-Zour, Russia’s Defense Ministry said yesterday. Reuters reporting.
U.S. drones conducted a series of “precision strikes” in Libya killing 17 Islamic State militants, the U.S. military said yesterday, marking the first airstrikes by the U.S. since January and demonstrating the significant threat posed by the militants in Libya. Eric Schmitt reports at the New York Times.
The Pentagon has been testing systems to destroy Islamic State group drones, launching a $700m program to draw on the knowledge of the armed services, tech experts and defense industry giants. Eric Schmitt reports at the New York Times.
“The two-state solution is today in jeopardy,” Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas said during his speech to the U.N. General Assembly last week – comments that were overshadowed by discussion of the North Korea threat but nevertheless posing a significant and urgent problem for U.S.-led peace efforts. Josef Federman explains at the AP.
A suicide bomb targeted a convoy of international forces in the Afghan capital of Kabul yesterday, wounding three civilians, with no one claiming responsibility for the attack, separately in the Helmand province the Taliban killed a district police chief. The AP reports.
The intense fighting against Islamic State-backed militants in the Philippine city of Marawi demonstrate the serious the extremists could pose to the country and other counties in Southeast Asia. Tom Allard explains at Reuters.
A breakdown of recent developments in the South China Sea is provided by Christopher Bodeen at the AP.
An explosion in Mali killed three U.N. peacekeeping troops and injured five yesterday, demonstrating the security struggles in the country that was destabilized by Islamist militants in 2012. Sewell Chan reports at the New York Times.
Forthcoming Trump administration rules on the trade of U.S.-manufactured guns has the potential to undermine human rights and aid terrorists and international criminal gangs, and Trump should reconsider the move. Josh Rogin writes at the Washington Post.
Read on Just Security »
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“The Memphis FBI Field Office’s Nashville Resident Agency, the Civil Rights Division, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee have opened a civil rights investigation into the shooting at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee,” the statement said.
It added, “The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence. As this is an ongoing investigation we are not able to comment further at this time.”
Sunday’s shooting left one dead and seven others wounded, authorities said. An usher confronted the shooter, who apparently shot himself in the struggle before he was arrested, police said.
No motive was immediately determined. Church members told investigators that the suspect had attended services a year or two ago, said Don Aaron, a spokesman for the Metro Nashville Police Department.
The gunman pulled into the parking lot at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ as services were ending. He fatally shot a woman who was walking to her vehicle, then entered the rear of the church with two pistols and kept firing, hitting six people, Aaron said. It was unclear whether the self-inflicted wound to the chest was intentional, Aaron said.
Metro Nashville Police Department
Authorities identified the attacker as Emanuel Kidega Samson, 25, of Murfreesboro, who came to the United States from Sudan in 1996 and was a legal U.S. resident.
The gunman was discharged hours later from Vanderbilt University Hospital but remained in police custody. The Metropolitan Nashville police tweeted Sunday night that Samson will be charged with one count of murder and that multiple “additional charges will be placed later.” He was ordered held without bail by a judicial commissioner.
Witness Minerva Rosa said the usher was a hero. “He’s amazing,” said Rosa, a member of the church for eight years. “Without him, I think it could be worse.”
The suspect said nothing as he fired. While the gunman made his way down the aisle, Rosa said, the pastor started shouting, “‘Run! Run! Gunshots!'” Aaron called the usher, 22-year-old Robert Engle, “an extraordinarily brave individual.”
The woman who was killed in the parking lot was identified as Melanie Smith, 39, of Smyrna, Tennessee.
The gunman and six others were treated for gunshot wounds at nearby hospitals, along with Engle, who was pistol-whipped, Aaron said. Witnesses were being interviewed by police.
Among the wounded was Joey Spann, who is the church’s pastor and is a Bible study teacher at Nashville Christian School.
Forty-two people were at the church at the time of the shooting, and that all victims were adults, Aaron said.
Hours before the shooting, a man with the same name and description as Samson published bizarre messages on Facebook, The Associated Press reports.
One read: “Everything you’ve ever doubted or made to be believe as false, is real. & vice versa, B.”
Another read, “Become the creator instead of what’s created . Whatever you say, goes.” And a third post read, “You are more than what they told us.”
Samson also posted several shirtless photos of himself flexing his muscles. In some he wears a tank top that reads “Beast Mode.”
The small brick church describes itself on its website as a “friendly, Bible-based group of folks who love the Lord and are interested in spreading his word to those who are lost.”
Photos on the church’s Facebook page show a diverse congregation with people of various ages and ethnicities.
After the attack, the nearby New Beautiful Gate Church opened its doors to Burnette Chapel churchgoers as they reunited with loved ones.
New Beautiful Gate Pastor Michael Moseby said he is neighbors with Burnette Chapel Pastor Joey Spann.
“As a pastor myself, you come with the expectation of sitting down and having a service and not thinking about what can happen around you,” Moseby said. “You never know who is going to come to the door or what reasons they would come to the door, come to your church and do something like that. We’re always on guard. We just thank God many more weren’t hurt.”
Nashville Mayor Megan Barry said in a statement that the shooting was “a terrible tragedy for our city.” She said her administration “will continue to work with community members to stop crime before it starts, encourage peaceful conflict resolution and promote non-violence.”