US General Services Administration (GSA) has reportedly deleted Russia’s cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab from two lists of government contractors, citing a need to “ensure integrity and security.” Kaspersky says his company is the victim of a political game.
The two lists in question reportedly are that of outside vendors providing US governmental agencies with information technology services and digital photographic equipment, Reuters cited the GSA’s spokesperson as saying.
The company was banished “after review and careful consideration,” the spokesperson noted. While she did not throw any accusations at the company, she stressed that the GSA is focused on preserving “the integrity and security of US government system networks.”
The move comes less than a day after Bloomberg magazine published an article, accusing the Moscow-based world leader in cybersecurity of close ties to Russia’s security service, the FSB. The report, titled “Kaspersky Lab has been working with Russian Intelligence” alleged that the magazine had got hold of internal communication that explicitly show that Kaspersky Lab “has maintained a much closer working relationship” with FSB “than it has publicly admitted.”
Among the allegations put forward in the investigative piece by Jordan Robertson and Michael Riley is the claim that the firm allegedly participated in developing security tools “at the spy’s agency behest” and was involved in projects with the FSB that the firm’s CEO, Eugene Kaspersky, deems to be “embarrassing” to shed light onto.
Kaspersky, who previously denied all the claims of collusion with the Kremlin, denounced the report as an example of “banya journalism” and demanded the authors provide the internal emails on which the magazine claims to have based the story.
“Numerous allegations, misinterpretations & fakes. This story is BS brewed on political agenda,” Kaspersky stated on Twitter, adding that the claim that his firm had confirmed the authenticity of the emails was incorrect.
Meanwhile, the journalists refused to share the emails, with Robertson saying that they would not provide any documents that “could compromise sources.” Instead, he called on Kaspersky to read them “on your own e-mail server” in a heated Twitter row.
In an extended statement posted on Kaspersky Lab website late Tuesday, the cyber-security firm insisted it had never have a chance to verify the emails’ authenticity, adding that the document might be “an internal email that contains routine business chatter regarding product development.”
It further argued that the emails could not serve as proof of any ties of the security firm with the FSB, as “the communication was misinterpreted or manipulated to try to make the media outlet’s narrative work.”
Kasperky Lab stressed that it had never launched DDoS attacks on behalf of the Russian government or any other entity. The statement noted that the company did carry out research on “active countermeasures,” but for the purpose of retaliating against DDoS attacks if one is mounted against its customers.
Acknowledging that the firm routinely helps law enforcement to wipe out cybercrime, including in Russia, it said that it is doing so only at the level of technical expertise, flatly denying that it ever assisted government agencies in tracing and hunting down people.
Responding to its reported exclusion from vendors lists, Kaspersky Lab reiterated that it “has no ties to any government” and is a victim of a political battle. The firm is “caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight where each side is attempting to use the company as a pawn,” it said in a statement, cited by Reuters.
It went on to note that it had not been so far informed by the US government agency of the amendments to its status as a contractor.
The measure itself does not ban the Kaspersky products from being used by the US government, but rather prevents it from securing contracts through the GSA mechanism. Its timing coincides with reports that Washington mulls blocking all federal agencies from using Kaspersky Lab software.
In the recent months, Kaspersky Lab became a subject of tight scrutiny by the US law enforcement and Congress alike. In June, the FBI questioned its employees all over the US while the US senators approved a draft defense policy spending bill aimed at barring Pentagon from using its software. The increased pressure on the firm prompted Eugene Kaspersky to offer the US authorities to testify in Congress and disclose the source code of his firm’s software to the US government.
‘AGT’ Winner Landau Murphy Jr.Arrested for Hitting Baby MamaWith a Golf Club!
7/11/2017 3:31 PM PDT
An “America’s Got Talent” champ was arrested this week for domestic violence after he allegedly attacked his baby mama with a golf club.
Law enforcement sources tell TMZ, Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. — who won season 6 of ‘AGT’ — was arrested Monday night in Whitman, West Virginia for misdemeanor domestic battery and domestic assault.
We’re told they got into it when he told her he was leaving her … which escalated into an argument about who would care for their 6-month-old baby. That’s when Landau allegedly started slapping her and then struck her under her left eye with a golf club. The brawl spilled outside, where he allegedly slammed her head on the sidewalk.
She was treated at a hospital, and cops later arrested Landau. He was released the same night on a $ 3,500 bond.
As for Landau’s side … his manager says the fight was sparked when the singer came home and found his home trashed — he claims by the girlfriend. He says she destroyed the house with a golf club … then attacked him with the club and a knife. He claims he was only defending himself, and apologized for the incident.
The New York Times had been reporting on the meeting between Trump Jr and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya for a few days, and had contacted Trump Jr for a statement on the content of the emails it had obtained. Trump Jr released his email chain along with a statement Tuesday, which was seemingly a pre-emptive action to minimise the upcoming Times story.
According to Assange, he made contact with Trump Jr on Tuesday morning and advised him to release the emails to WikiLeaks. “Two hours later, does it himself,” Assange said.
(1/3) I argued that his enemies have it–so why not the public? His enemies will just milk isolated phrases for weeks or months…
“I argued that his enemies have it — so why not the public? His enemies will just milk isolated phrases for weeks or months with their own context, spin it according to their own strategic timetable,” Assange explained. “Better to be transparent and have the full context but it would have been safer for us to publish it anonymously sourced.”
“By publishing it himself it is easier to submit as evidence,” Assange added. “He’s surely had advice and/or is confident on the facts. I’d argue that even the completely innocent need WikiLeaks.”
CNN journalist Brian Stelter tweeted a NYT source said it was “preparing to publish” the email story and Trump Jr’s people “asked for more time” and then “pre-empted” the NYT by publishing the emails.
Confirmed from an NYT source: “We were preparing to publish” story — Don Jr. camp “asked for more time” to comment “and then pre-empted us”
The emails between Trump Jr and publicist Rob Goldstone about meeting with a Russian lawyer were sent in June 2016. Trump’s son was told a Russian government lawyer had documents that would “incriminate” Hillary Clinton.
Trump Jr, along with “Paul Manafort (campaign boss)” and his “brother-in-law,” Jared Kushner, met with Veselnitskaya on June 9.
“I was asked to have a meeting by an acquaintance I knew from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant with an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign. I was not told her name prior to the meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to attend, but told them nothing of the substance,” Trump Jr said Monday.
The woman claimed that “she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton,” Trump Jr said.
However, he added that “her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information. She then changed subjects and began discussing the adoption of Russian children and mentioned the Magnitsky Act. It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting.”
Sputnik Radio went on air on FM frequency in Washington, DC, to offer listeners an alternative to the mainstream media narrative with a mix of news programs, opinions and talk shows, Sputnik’s DC chief told RT.
What will distinguish Sputnik Radio, aired at the frequency of 105.5 FM, from numerous other FM broadcasters, is paying a particular attention to topics left out by the mainstream media outlets, says Mindia Gavasheli, editor-in-chief of the Sputnik Bureau in Washington, DC.
“Our guys are talking about things that are not being covered by the mainstream media. And even when they talk about the topics that are being covered they clearly have a very different perspective, the prospective that often is missing from the mainstream coverage,” Gavasheli told RT.
By moving to the FM bandwidth, Sputnik Radio wants to provide listeners with the chance to decide for themselves if its portrayal in the US media as a Kremlin propaganda tool corresponds to the truth.
“We are very glad that we can speak directly with our listeners now,” Gavasheli said, adding that he believes that by fueling anti-Russian hysteria centered on Moscow’s alleged meddling into the US elections, the mainstream media inadvertently promoted its brand.
“Surprisingly the fact that so many people were talking about us, sometimes, without even listening to us, should help us, because there is much hearsay about Sputnik that I hope it’ll all make people at least curious that they would want to tune in,” Gavasheli said. He went on to note that given that prospective listeners were likely fed lies about Sputnik in the past, the reality would strike them all the more.
“I hope it will surprise them, I hope it make them interested and perhaps addicted to our shows,” he added.
Speaking of the US media industry, Gavasheli lamented that despite being diverse on paper, media coverage is turning increasingly partisan and superficial.
“It is really sad that when you go to a store you have a choice of 15 variations of mac and cheese, but you have only two point of views on the cable TV networks, it’s either pro-Trump or anti-Trump and all those details are being lost and a lot of people are sick and tired of that,” he said.
Sputnik Radio is here to “fill this vacuum,” Gavasheli says, adding that the diversity of opinion is something that would be cherished and given a top priority at the station. Heated discussions, for instance, is a signature of the brand new talk show, “Fault Lines,” hosted by Lee Stranahan and Carland R. Nixon.
“We do not adhere to one point of view, we allow our hosts to dispute each other, to challenge each either, sometimes they yell at each other,” Gavasheli said, speaking of the show.
However, while the show was originally devised as a “cross-fire style show where hosts would disagree on everything,” it emerged that hosts, being of opposing ends of political spectrum, were able to find common ground and agree on a number of issues, Gavasheli said.
Lee Stranahan, formerly Breitbart News Network’s lead investigative reporter, told RT that he believes their example shows that “the establishment media in the United States does not want to know how much people agree.”
Nixon, a Democrat and Bernie Sanders supporter, said that while the hosts don’t shun voicing opposing views, they are both anti-establishment and firmly believe that no viewpoint should be imposed on the audience.
“Both of us are people who believe what is important is that people who are watching the show know the truth, so we recommend people look into it for themselves, do their own research and we give them our points of view but then we walk away,” Nixon said.
Another thing that band the hosts together is a desire to dwell deep into the substance of political events and not speculate based on rumors.
“We actually talk about policy in the news a lot. From my perspective, when you turn on the mainstream media now, it is the National Inquirer, it is the latest, salacious rumor,” Nixon said, adding that he believes that is what lures in listeners.
“I think it also demonstrates that a lot of Trump supporters and Bernie supporters were really into policy. We look at a lot of people who looked at the system and said: “The system is not working, either the system is not working the way it should or it is working the way it should and it’s a bad system. And so we have substance policy talks and I think that what attracts people to the show.”
Addressing the stigma around Russia and Sputnik, in particular, in the US, Stranahan told RT he has been calling out the bias in the Russian coverage for long and is “really happy” to be employed by the Russian news outlet.
“I think that this Russian narrative, the way it is put forward in the Americanmedia is a complete bias, it is not true,” Stranahan said, adding that he sees his new role a chance “to prove that I mean what I’m saying in my reporting and that there’s nothing to it.”
“It’s irrelevant to me what the medium is, I’m going to say what I believe,” Nixon said.
George ClooneyLa Dolce Vita!No New Dad Fatigue Here
7/11/2017 6:13 PM PDT
Fatherhood’s been kind to George Clooney so far … as in he doesn’t look stressed, sleep-deprived or like he’s put on a few extra new daddy lbs.
George and Amal were out having dinner with friends Tuesday on Lake Como, Italy and they’re the poster children … for pissing off all other new parents of twins. The Clooneys were without Elle and Alexander and seemed vibrant and well rested.
George is tan with a fresh goatee, while Amal was glowing and smiling ear to ear. Not a bag under either of their eyes.
Still no peek at the little ones — the twins were under cover upon arrival in Milan — so looking at Mom and Dad will have to do. Bellisimo!
Australian elite special forces are under investigation for the possible unlawful killings of civilians in Afghanistan, including of a six-year-old child, according to leaked government documents. The papers also reveal details of a hand-severing incident involving the SAS.
Details of the killings are included in leaked Australian Defence Force documents totalling hundreds of pages, many of which were marked “AUSTEO” (Australian Eyes Only).
The documents were leaked exclusively to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), and have been referred to as “The Afghan Files” by the news outlet.
At least two of the potentially unlawful killing incidents are being investigated by the Inspector General of the Australian Defence Force, as part of a wider probe into the conduct of special forces in Afghanistan.
One of those incidents involves the deaths of a man and his six-year-old child during a raid. The Afghan boy was hidden in blankets near a target sought by Australian troops, thought to be a Taliban member. Australian forces managed to kill their target, but also inadvertently killed the child with a single gunshot wound to the abdomen. The child’s family received a compensation payment of US$ 1,500.
An inquiry found that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the alleged Taliban target was actually part of the group, or an insurgent at all. However, it also concluded that the Australian soldiers had fired in self-defense and exercised appropriate restraint. The case has been referred to the Inspector General’s inquiry.
Another case mentioned is the killing of a detainee who was alone with an Australian soldier and allegedly tried to seize his weapon.
Both of the incidents being investigated occurred in September 2013.
ABC listed a number of other cases of civilian deaths at the hands of Australian troops in Afghanistan, along with the outcomes of various inquiries that were launched. A US helicopter airstrike that killed two Afghan boys and three donkeys instead of insurgents after being called in by Australian troops is one of them.
The documents also shed additional light on the severing of hands by an SAS corporal, which was initially revealed by the ABC in 2013.
According to the documents, special forces were in search of a target codenamed “Objective Rapier,” an insurgent commander responsible for numerous attacks, in April 2013. A total of 120 soldiers were involved in the operation, including troops from the Special Air Service (SAS) and commandos.
Four insurgents were killed in the southern province of Zabul during the operation, with an SAS corporal searching the first body and finding a Makarov pistol.
“[He] then severed a single hand of the EKIA (enemy killed in action) with a scalpel,” a report of the inquiry into the matter says, according to ABC.
The soldier then repeated those actions with two others, cutting off their right hands.
“At this point in time patrol commander (a sergeant)… arrived at EKIA 3, and seeing the two hands on the ground, exclaimed words to the effect: ‘What the f**k are you doing?’” the report states.
The patrol commander later told investigators that the soldier who chopped off the hands was “speechless,” but that his colleague said it was a “tactical necessity…”
“…This is a procedure to conduct latent fingerprints in the laboratory to take explosive residues.”
In yet another twist, a training session which took place just nine days before the incident, conducted by an Australian Defence Force Investigative Service (ADFIS) sergeant and a civilian fingerprint expert, is revealed in the documents.
Some SAS members who attended the training claim the two training leaders said the removal of hands was allowed, with one SAS trooper reportedly calling it the “gold plate solution.”
While the civilian fingerprint expert claims he had only discussed body parts being examined in the context of “post-blast” investigations and has denied ever discussing the severing of hands, the ADFIS sergeant tells a different story.
The sergeant admitted that the subject of severing hands had come up, and agreed that it would be a good method of securing fingerprints. However, he reportedly cautioned the SAS members to ask their superiors whether it was acceptable.
He also said he wasn’t surprised that the SAS members left the training believing the severing of hands was allowed, as “that was all they were focused on.”
The incident led the commanding officer of the SAS regiment to write to the head of ADFIS, accusing ADFIS investigators of attempting to save face when it came to their colleague, even if it was at the expense of the SAS.
As the investigation deepened, it reportedly became clear that Australian troops stationed in Afghanistan had not been explicitly told whether the collection of body parts of biometric testing was allowed. This prompted new guidelines to be implemented, stressing that “the mutilation and otherwise maltreatment of human remains” is not permitted.
To this day, more than four years after the incident, it remains unclear whether any action was taken against the SAS trooper who severed the hands.
Meanwhile, the documents also refer to tensions between the SAS and the 2nd Commando Regiment, the two most prestigious units within the Australian army, and recall a moment when an SAS trooper pulled a gun on a female Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) officer.
The information revealed by the ABC is part of a seven-part series based on the leaked documents.
Not immune to President Donald Trump’s deportation policy, Europeans illegally in the US are being sent back overseas at an increasing rate. So far this year, around 1,300 have been deported.
The number of Europeans in the US illegally is currently on track to surpass last year’s deportation numbers. From January 1 to June 24 this year, some 1,300 Europeans were deported, nearly as many as the 2016 total of 1,450 deportations, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Associated Press reported.
Magdalena Dolas, executive director of the Polish American Association in Chicago, has said that the organization she belongs to has been asked to give talks about what people should do if immigration officials come to get them at their residence.
Polish and Irish community groups in the city of Chicago have reported experiencing more inquiries about citizenship-related services, in regards to people seeking legal protections against deportation.
John Cunningham, who worked as an electrical contractor, is a well-known Irishman in Boston who came to the US with a 90-day visa over a decade ago. He overstayed and had been in the US up until last week when he was deported. Cunningham had a warrant out for his arrest after not showing up to a court hearing in a dispute with a customer. State records showed he also was not licensed as an electrical contractor, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Ronnie Millar of the Boston-based Irish International Immigration center told the AP that “people are very, very concerned and lying low.”
Approximately 440,000 of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the US are of Irish descent, according to the Migration Policy Institute, the AP reported.
Large numbers of people from various European countries are seeing a high deportation rate so far this year. From the United Kingdom, already 102 individuals have been deported; from Russia, 81; and 74 people from Poland. These countries accounted for the most deportations last year, according to the study.
Romanians are the largest group in the US being sent back to their original country so far this year, with 193 deported, according to the AP.
In 2017 so far, the total number for all deportations by the Trump administration has reached 167,350. This is compared to 240,255 in all of 2016. Mexicans are leading in the deportation category, with 93,000 people sent back to Mexico.
An HIV-positive Russian asylum seeker in San Jose, California, Denis Davydov, may face deportation due to overstaying a visa. He was detained for more than a month after returning from a vacation. Davydov’s lawyer had him released due to his status as a gay, HIV- positive asylum seeker.
Davydov is feeling vulnerable as his hopes of seeking asylum have recently become uncertain.
“Before this I thought I was doing everything right, but I’m afraid now that doing everything right is not enough. I don’t know what else I can do,” he said, adding, “I feel like it can happen again to me anywhere. In the airport or in the street,” the AP reported.
Ali Noorani, executive director of the immigrant rights group National Immigration Forum, has made the argument that the rise in deportations shows the Trump administration is going too far.
“It’s pretty clear ICE is removing anyone undocumented they come across,” he told the LA Times. “The bigger issue is that the Trump administration is wasting really valuable law enforcement resources on many people who aren’t a public safety threat, whether they’re Irish, Latino, Asian or otherwise.”
Far-right activists from the Identitarian movement have charted a ship to fight illegal migration off the Libyan coast and to expose what they describe as alleged collaboration between European NGOs operating in the area and human traffickers.
A 40-meter-long ship called the C-Star, which was charted by the group, set sail from the African port of Djibouti on July 6 and is expected to take the far-right activists via the Sicilian port of Catania next week before reaching the relief zone of the Libyan coast.
The operation, called “Defend Europe,” is run by the pan-European Identitarian Movement – a vast network of nationalist, far-right, nativist and populist movements across several European countries, including France, Germany, Austria and Italy.
In this particular case, the French, German and Italian branches of the movement participated in the initiative that was launched as the activists managed to raise more than $ 91,000 in an online fundraiser campaign they launched in mid-May.
The fundraising campaign was successful, even despite the fact that the online payment system Paypal froze the activists’ accounts after a massive opposition campaign, as reported by the France’s Liberation newspaper.
The funds were eventually used to lease the C-Star and its crew. On the campaign’s website, the far-right activists wrote that the goal of the mission was to “save Europe, to stop illegal immigration, and end the dying in the sea.”
They went on to say that, once they reach the relief zone off the Libyan coast, they will “document the doings of the NGOs, expose their collaboration with the human smugglers, and intervene if they do something illegal.”
The activists also pledged support to the Libyan Coast Guard by saying that their vessel could serve as a “recon ship.”
The Identitarians also branded their initiative as a “search and rescue mission” and said that if they get a SOS signal they will “of course save the people in distress – and hand them over to the Libyan Coast Guard to make sure that they are brought to the closest harbour, according to international law.”
They further said that their “’No Way’ policy for illegal immigration will discourage human traffickers and NGOs to lure people into the sea.”
The far-right activists also said that the activities of the NGOs operating off the Libyan coast and saving migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe only stimulate human traffickers to send refugees and migrants to the sea in small overloaded and poorly equipped boats, thus exposing them to a greater risk.
The initiative has already provoked concerns among some NGOs engaged in sea rescue operations, and they have said that the arrival of the vessel charted by the Identitarians could disrupt their operations. The French authorities also criticized the move as a “provocation” and a “hindrance” to relief efforts, French media report, adding that the issue was already referred to a court.
The Identitarian movement is known for its staunch anti-immigrant position and protests against what it describes as “Islamization of Europe.” In one such action, the members of the Austrian branch of the movement covered a statue of the 18th-century Empress Maria Theresa in Vienna with a huge burqa in December 2016.
A sign reading “Islamization? No thanks!” was placed next to the statue.
In May, some 50 activists from the German branch of the Identitarian Movement attempted to “raid” the Justice Ministry building in Berlin using a 10-meter-long ladder in a protest against a proposed law designed to fight hate speech on social media.