Author: Justin Salhani

Trump set to face tough decisions on Russia

Trump wanted to improve relations with Putin, but Senate Republicans may complicate his plans. President-elect Donald Trump’s plans to warm relations with Russia are set to be complicated by new sanctions placed on Russia’s top intelligence agencies and Obama’s decision to expel a number of Russian emissaries. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that he will not expel American diplomats, despite the Obama administration’s jettison of 35 Russians from the United States over accusations of hacking and election interference. “While we reserve the right to respond, we will not drop to this level of irresponsible diplomacy, and we will make further steps to help resurrect Russian-American relations based on the policies that the administration of Trump will pursue,” Putin said in a statement published on the Kremlin’s website. Putin said the expulsion was a provocation but chose not to immediately retaliate, despite suggestions to do so from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that one of Russia’s top intelligence agencies, the G.R.U., ordered a Kremlin-approved attack on the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations, resulting in the DNC email hacks that bolstered the Trump campaign. The Obama administration retaliated to the interference on Thursday by expelling 35 Russians, thought to be spies posing as diplomats, and sanctioning Russia’s top two intelligence agencies. Top Obama aides told the New York Times that despite the seriousness of...

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‘Putin’s Rasputin’ and Trump’s Rasputin share nationalist affinities

Alexander Dugin, the leader of the Eurasian Movement, left, and his supporters sing during a rally of Russian nationalist groups in central Moscow, Sunday, April 8, 2007. CREDIT: AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, sees Dugin’s ideology as an ally against liberalism. Aleksandr Dugin’s ideology has influenced white nationalists and supremacists. His thinking also echoes that of a key player in the Trump administration. A few days after securing the nomination to be the 45th President of the United States, Trump announced Steve Bannon, a man Politico labeled “an insurgent firebrand,” would be his chief strategist. Prior to accepting the role in Trump’s administration Bannon was his campaign CEO. And before that, he ran Breitbart, a news platform that he once called the “platform for the alt-right.” The term “alt-right” was popularized by Richard Spencer, head of the racist National Policy Institute, and an avowed fan of both Dugin and Trump. While Bannon may have no direct ties to Dugin, he is acutely aware of the Russian’s ideology. Bannon referred to Dugin while answering questions at a talk hosted by the religious right wing Human Dignity Institute in the summer of 2014. “When Vladimir Putin, when you really look at some of the underpinnings of some of his beliefs today, a lot of those come from what I call Eurasianism,” said Bannon. “He’s got an adviser [Dugin]...

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Suspected Russian interference in elections around the world is spreading

In this Feb. 5, 2016 file photo, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. CREDIT: AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth The same phenomenon that happened in the U.S. presidential election could now influence major upcoming elections in Europe. Wikileaks announced the release of 2,420 documents on Thursday showing the German parliament’s probe into collaboration between Germany’s chief intelligence agency and the National Security Agency (NSA). The release of the documents is the latest act by an organization influencing national elections in favor of the Kremlin (knowingly or otherwise). U.S. intelligence agencies believe the Kremlin may have influenced the recent U.S. presidential election, after Wikileaks released 20,000 of the DNC’s emails and Trump’s verbal encouragement for Russia to hack his challenger’s email. Now, U.S. senators are calling to declassify Russia’s role in an election that led to Trump’s victory. The same phenomenon is now potentially influencing major upcoming elections in Europe, as the Italian and German incumbent leaders are squaring off with attacks from fake news sites and Wikileaks. In Italy, an opposition movement led by former comedian Beppe Grillo called the Five Star Movement (Movimento 5 Stelle or M5S) is using fake news, with many of the stories published sourced to Kremlin mouthpieces like Sputnik. Mimicking talking points seen in other pro-Kremlin pieces, stories demonize refugees and attack Renzi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. M5S...

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Chris Christie doubles down on Trump’s debunked birther claims

Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), in August CREDIT: AP PHOTO/MEL EVANS He falsely claimed Hillary Clinton started birther questions and pretends Trump dropped the issue years ago New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R), Donald Trump’s transition chairman, was grilled on Sunday on both Fox News Sunday and CNN’s State of the Union about the birther issue. In both, he continued to push Trump’s widely–debunked claims that Hillary Clinton started the racist conspiracy theory based on the idea President Obama was born in Kenya and therefore constitutionally not eligible to be president of the United States and that he had accepted Obama’s citizenship after the release of his birth certificate in 2011. On Friday, Donald Trump addressed the press from the soon-to-open Trump hotel in Washington, D.C. where he said he would finally put the birther issue to bed. After an array of military vets gave their endorsements to Trump, the reality television star said that President Obama had, in fact, been born in the United States. “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it.” He took no questions. On Sunday, Trump’s vice presidential nominee Mike Pence told ABC the issue was over. But Trump’s proxies haven’t let this issue die. Christie on Sunday repeated the clearly debunked claims that Trump dropped the issue in 2011. CNN’s Jake Tapper noted that “as a point of fact,...

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House Debates Bill To Allow 9/11 Families To Sue Saudi Arabia

In this May 15, 2016 photo released by the Saudi Press Agency, SPA, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, right, meets with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. CREDIT: SAUDI PRESS AGENCY VIA AP The House’s Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on Tuesday where legislators from each party took cracks at Saudi Arabia. The country has come under heavy criticism of late after the Senate unanimously approved legislation that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue over Saudi Arabia’s alleged connections to Al Qaeda. “If a foreign country — any country — can be shown to have significantly supported a terrorist attack on the United States, the victims and their families ought to be able to sue that foreign country, no matter who it is,” Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), the head of the subcommittee on terrorism and a co-sponsor of the bill that would allow 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia, said. “Like any other issue, we should let a jury decide that issue and the damages, if any.” Saudi Arabia has responded by denying any and all connections to the 9/11 hijackers — 15 of whom were Saudi nationals — and subsequently launched a lobbying campaign to paint itself as a credible U.S. ally in the war on terror. The White House also opposes the bill and said it would...

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Sadiq Khan Overcomes Nasty Attacks From Conservatives, Becomes London’s First Muslim Mayor

Londoners elected the city’s first Muslim mayor in a historic victory Friday, against the backdrop of rising xenophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment throughout Europe. The Labour Party’s Sadiq Khan, 45, an MP and son of working class Pakistani immigrants, defeated the Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith, who is the son of a billionaire. London’s 8.6 million overwhelmingly elected Khan, despite attacks that portrayed him as a “radical” and linked him to “extremist” figures. “Critics have suggested the core strategy of Mr Goldsmith’s campaign is to draw attention to Mr Khan’s faith,” the Independent reported last month. On Sunday, Goldsmith published an op-ed in the Mail with a picture of a bus destroyed in the 7/7 attacks, criticizing Khan and Labour by saying they are a party where “terrorists are its friends.” Current London Mayor Boris Johnson, who is a Conservative, tried to link Khan to former London mayor and Labour party member Ken Livingstone — recently lambasted and later suspended for saying Hitler was a supporter of Zionism in the 1930s. Prime Minister David Cameron has also attacked Khan under similar pretenses. While the Conservative Party has highlighted instances of anti-Semitism among certain members of the Labour Party, the Conservatives have alienated many Muslim constituents of late. Apart from attacks on Khan, Cameron has made a number of statements that have been described as a “disgraceful stereotyping of British Muslims,” by...

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