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NEW YORK — (AP) — Chuck Rosenberg makes no secret of his admiration for Robert Mueller.
Keep that in mind, along with the format of Rosenberg\'s podcast “The Oath,” now that NBC announced that the former special counsel who looked into Russian interference in the 2016 election has given an extensive interview that debuts Wednesday.
Mueller, the ex-FBI director, rarely speaks publicly and has been virtually silent about his special counsel experience since testifying before Congress in July 2019.
In two separate podcast episodes, each nearly an hour, Mueller doesn\'t talk about his work as special counsel. He isn\'t even asked.
“There are some questions that you simply don\'t have to ask,” said Rosenberg, who worked for Mueller as an FBI counsel. “I knew he wouldn\'t talk about it and I had really no intention of asking about it.”
He took Mueller at his word that he wouldn\'t talk about his work as counsel after his testimony. Mueller made an exception in September, pushing back after one of his former prosecutors suggested in a book that the counsel\'s team wasn\'t aggressive enough.
Rosenberg\'s stance is consistent with the format of “The Oath,” in which present and former government officials who have taken an oath to protect the Constitution are interviewed about their lives and careers, while steering clear of current events and political controversies.
Rosenberg, also a former federal prosecutor, has taken the oath nine times. He\'s been an analyst and podcast host for NBC News since quitting as acting head of the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2017, after President Donald Trump suggested to law enforcement officers that they “don\'t be too nice” to suspects in custody.
Even in an era of suspicion about the “deep state,” or perhaps because of it, there has clearly been a public taste for “The Oath.” The Mueller interview leads its fourth season.
The show has been in the Top 200 of the Apple Podcasts charts for more than a year, said Andy Bowers, co-founder of the podcast hosting company Megaphone.
Rosenberg\'s extensive experience helps with access, so his guest list is consistently interesting, said Benjamin Wittes, editor in chief of the Lawfare blog. He\'s also unapologetically earnest, as are many of his guests, at a time of cynicism.
“That\'s the winning formula on ‘The Oath,’ a serious person talking to serious people about public service at a time when people really want to remember what public service is supposed to be,\" Wittes said.
The Mueller interview is a bookend to Rosenberg\'s two-parter with Mueller\'s successor as FBI director, James Comey, in the podcast\'s first season.
The voluble Comey is a contrast to Mueller, who\'s quite comfortable with short answers. “I did OK,” Mueller said when Rosenberg was trying to draw him out about commendations he received during training with the Marines.
Did you like law school? “Not particularly,” Mueller said.
“Jim is a natural storyteller, so in some ways it is easier (to interview him),” Rosenberg said. “Bob also has a lot of stories to tell, you just have to let him tell them in his own way. I found that compelling — two very different styles, as our listeners will notice, but I think two men of substance.”
Although there was talk after his congressional testimony that Mueller, now 76, had lost some sharpness with age, Rosenberg said “he seemed fine to me.”
When coaxed, Mueller is most interesting in the first podcast talking about his experience in Vietnam. He volunteered for the Marines after a teammate on his Princeton lacrosse team was killed there, and commanded a unit that was — he found out later — essentially used as bait to draw out the North Vietnamese army.
The experience inspired a lifetime of public service, primarily because Mueller was grateful to have survived.
It\'s the type of service that\'s hard for the cynical to fathom. In another episode this season, Rosenberg speaks to Heather “Lucky” Penney, a former fighter pilot given the assignment on Sept. 11, 2001 of stopping United Airlines Flight 93 as it was bound for the U.S. Capitol. Since there was no time to arm the jet, her only choice was to ram the airliner; she was effectively sent on a suicide mission. Instead, the plane crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers overpowered the hijackers.
In the Mueller interview, Rosenberg said he relished the opportunity to get to know someone he knew only as a boss.
“There\'s a bit of a Marine Corps officer outer shell,” he said. “He can be a little bit intimidating. But underneath all of that, he is a remarkably kind and humble and civil man. Coming up in the ranks of the Department of Justice, Bob Mueller is an icon. Everybody that I worked with knew of him and admired him, but often from a distance.”
This story has been corrected to note that the podcast is debuting on Wednesday.
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An epidemiologist who helped to tie the 2012 outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) to camels, a food safety officer who studies how pathogens spread in markets, and a veterinarian who found evidence linking the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak to bats roosting in a hollow tree. These researchers are among the team that the World Health Organization (WHO) has assembled to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
The investigation aims to find out how and when SARS-CoV-2 first infected people. Strong evidence suggests that the coronavirus originated in bats, but its journey to people remains a mystery. Scientists say the team is highly qualified, but their task will be challenging.
“This is an excellent team with a lot of experience,” says Martin Beer, a virologist at the Federal Research Institute for Animal Health in Greifswald, Germany.
The group will be working with researchers in China and professionals from several other international agencies, and will start the search in Wuhan — the Chinese city where the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 was first identified — and expand across China and beyond.
The international group comes with a breadth of knowledge. Marion Koopmans is a virologist specializing in molecular epidemiology at the Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. She was on the team that found, in 2013, that dromedary camels were an intermediate host for the virus that causes MERS, which has killed more than 850 people. She has since worked with another team member — Elmoubasher Farag, an epidemiologist at the Ministry of Public Health in Doha — to test camels for antibodies against MERS.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Koopmans has tracked the rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2 in mink farms in Europe. Studies on the pandemic’s origin will need to explore the role of animals kept for fur and food, she says.
Koopmans says that the group is keeping an open mind about how the pandemic started and will not exclude any scenarios, including the unlikely one that SARS-CoV-2 accidentally escaped from a laboratory. Scientists have previously told Nature that the virus is likely to have passed from bats to humans, probably through an intermediate animal — but definitively ruling out the lab scenario will be difficult. “Anything is on the table,” says Koopmans.
Another member, Hung Nguyen, an environment and food safety researcher at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, will contribute his knowledge on how pathogens spread in wet markets, similar to the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan, which many of the first COVID-19 patients had visited. Nguyen has investigated how Salmonella and other bacteria spread through smallholder farms, slaughterhouses and live-animal markets in his home country of Vietnam and across southeast Asia.
Also on the team is Peter Daszak, president of the non-profit research organization Ecohealth Alliance in New York City, who has spent more than a decade studying coronaviruses. He has worked closely with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) to test bats for coronaviruses with the potential to spill over into people.
“It is an honour to be part of this team,” says Daszak. “There hasn’t been a pandemic on this scale since the 1918 flu, and we’re still close enough to the origin to really find out more details about where it has come from.”
Another team member, Fabian Leendertz, a veterinarian at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, will bring his expertise in spillover events. In April 2014, Leendertz visited Meliandou village in Guinea, months after a two-year-old died of Ebola — the first person reported to be infected in West Africa.
Work by Leendertz, including interviews with locals and environmental sampling, suggests that the outbreak started in bats that lived in a hollow tree where the children used to play. The tree was burned down days before his arrival and no Ebola virus was detected in nearby bats, which he says highlights the difficulties of pinning down an outbreak’s beginnings.
Considerable time has passed since the emergence of COVID-19, and many people only have mild or no symptoms, which will make it challenging to identify the first infected person, says Leendertz. “We are all aware that there is no guarantee there will be a waterproof story on how it all started.”
Other team members include researchers from Denmark, the United Kingdom, Australia, Russia and Japan.
But Christian Drosten, a virologist at the Charité hospital in Berlin, notes that invitations to apply for the team were only sent to members of the WHO’s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN), a closed group with experience in outbreak response. Many researchers with relevant expertise were not given the opportunity to apply, says Drosten, who received the e-mail, but missed the invitation while on holiday. “They could and should have issued this as a more open call.”
Although the team are highly qualified, 8 out of 10 members are men and investigators from Europe dominate the group, and none are from Africa or South America, says Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Georgetown University, who is based in Seattle, Washington. “It could be more representative of the larger global scientific community,” she says.
She also says that Daszak’s ties to the WIV could raise a conflict of interest, given that the lab has been at the centre of unsubstantiated claims that the virus accidentally leaked from there.
Daszak says that he has been transparent about his work in China. The trust he has built with researchers there will help the team to gain a deeper understanding of the pandemic’s early days, he says.
The team are expected to travel to China for several weeks at some point.
When 94-year-old World War II veteran Vasily’s family made their regular check of his mailbox on Saturday they found a formal summons from the prosecutor’s office in Volgograd, a city in southern Russia previously known as Stalingrad.
It said he had to attend a hearing on Dec. 1 to be questioned as a witness in the murders of at least 1,700 Soviet citizens committed by Nazi invaders and their accomplices during the occupation of the Stalingrad region between July 17, 1942, and Feb. 2, 1943.
“We just couldn’t believe that the prosecutors would summon a frail old man to their offices during the coronavirus outbreak using such a strict tone,” the veteran’s grandson Denis Chistyakov told The Moscow Times. “Why not just come to his house for a chat?”
While Russia has in recent years launched a series of new archive probes into World War II, reports are now starting to emerge of veterans being summoned to recount their experiences. The shift comes against a background of what observers say is a newfound interest — spearheaded by President Vladimir Putin — in the conflict and how the world remembers it.
The family ignored the summons and decided not to mention it to Vasily — who fought in the Battle of Stalingrad and was later taken prisoner and sent to eastern Germany — fearing the investigation would damage his health. The document said Vasily would be forced to attend another hearing if he didn’t show up, but there has been no follow up regarding his non-appearance yet.
“He doesn’t really like talking about those war days,” Chistyakov said.
The prosecutors’ office in Volgograd told The Moscow Times that such summons had been sent to at least 80 veterans in the region; the independent Novaya Gazeta outlet reported that they were also being sent to veterans throughout the country.
The new investigations focus on World War II-era atrocities committed by Nazi forces across Russia, including in Volgograd. Last month, in what appears to be the first ruling of its kind, a court in the northwestern region of Novgorod said mass killings of Soviet citizens in the village of Zhestyanaya Gorka were an act of genocide by the Nazi army.
In a July interview with the state-run RIA Novosti news agency, the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrikin said that the aim of these new investigations was to “establish, identify and name all the guilty Nazis, whether they are alive or not….Nuremberg did not convict all those responsible.”
Bastrinik added that the investigations were also aimed at challenging those who are trying to rewrite history.
While Bastrikin previously said historians were using archive materials for these investigations, the case of Vasily and the others show that veterans who witnessed the events are also being called in for questioning.
It is the Kremlin’s intense interest in the war that is prompting the questioning of war veterans, Andrei Kolesnikov, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center, believes.
In a rare op-ed published in June in U.S. magazine The National Interest, Putin blamed western powers for appeasing Nazi Germany and signing the Munich Agreement in 1938. He also defended the controversial 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, a nonaggression treaty between Adolf Hitler\'s Germany and Josef Stalin\'s Soviet Union.
On Sept. 1, in front of a group of schoolchildren, Putin further outlined his frustration and hinted that the West was rewriting history.
“People who cooperate with the enemy during a war are called, and have always and everywhere been called, collaborators. Those who agree with the rewriters of history can easily be called the collaborators of today,” Putin said during the public lesson.
Russia’s Investigative Committee recently also opened up a special department to investigate crimes related to the rehabilitation of Nazism and the falsification of history.
Critics have argued the government has been using law to curb free speech and historical debate. For instance, in June 2016, a court in Perm convicted Vladimir Luzgin under the provisions of the rehabilitation of Nazism law for “falsifying history” by reposting an article saying that the Soviet Union and Germany attacked Poland simultaneously in 1939, a claim generally accepted among historians
Kolesnikov said that in questioning veterans, the authorities are reaching fever pitch in the pursuit of their “selective” historical goals.
“What is the point of this? The veterans will not remember the names of Nazi soldiers. Even the Soviets wouldn’t have done this.”
Kolesnikov also pointed out that while investigators have opened up new war crime cases against Nazi Germany, the Kremlin has been keen to erase the memory of the Katyn Massacre of 1940, when Stalin’s secret police killed approximately 22,000 Polish officers and soldiers in a forest in western Russia.
Whatever the goals, critics say the means the authorities are using to achieve them are inappropriate.
“Imagine, 25-year-old investigators are sitting in Volgograd sending summons to 90-year-old old grandparents requiring them by law to come for questioning during the peak of the coronavirus about events that took place in the 1940s,” said human rights lawyer Pavel Chikov.
Wed, 12/02/2020 – 10:30\n
* * *\n
Hospitals across the US, especially in hard-hit parts of the Midwest, are seeing record numbers of patients, with some warning that they’re dangerously close to reaching max capacity of COVID-19 beds, a point at which the quality of care for the most vulnerable patients severely deteriorates due to staff and other resource shortages.\n
Indiana and Nevada are now reporting more than 500 currently hospitalized per million people, along with South Dakota. For reference, the highest value of hospitalizations per million people we’ve seen was 968 in New York back in April.\n
The number of currently hospitalized patients nationwide is set to top 100k, as daily cases start to pick back up following a holiday week slump.\n
US hospitals reported the most COVID-linked deaths since May in November, according to Bloomberg data.\n
The biggest news internationally Wednesday is yet another step in the process to vaccinate the globe (or at least the developed world) as the UK’s primary pharma regulator announced that it had become the first western country to grant emergency-use authorization, promising that the risks of waiting for a more comprehensive review were far outweighed by the risks of allowing COVID-19 to continue to ravage the elderly and vulnerable, along with the health-care workers tasked with caring for them.\n
The authorization, which follows similar moves by China and Russia (though no other regulator in the west has actually signed off on experimental vaccines being administered to health-care workers) has clearly made Russian President Vladimir Putin feel some type of way, because the Russian President announced Wednesday that mass vaccinations in Russia would begin next week.\n
Overnight, the WHO warned that people should wear masks indoors and outdoors where physical distancing of at least 1 meter can’t be maintained, especially in areas with community or cluster transmission, the World Health Organization said in its updated guidance for mask use.\n
Of course, this isn’t the first time the WHO has tweaked its guidance on masks.\n
Finally, Poland – Germany’s relatively tiny neighbor – has just become the latest European country to pass 1 million cases, becoming at least the 14th country to pass that milestone.\n
Here’s more news from Wednesday morning:\n
European Union regulators offered a fresh set of safe-travel recommendations to make it easier for people to cross national borders within the bloc while guarding against another resurgence of the coronavirus (Source: Bloomberg).\n
Austria is reopening schools for students under 14 years of age, as well as most stores and services such as hairdressers from next week, subject to social distancing rules. Restaurants and hotels will remain shuttered over Christmas and New Year’s, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told journalists in Vienna (Source: Bloomberg).\n
Interpol issued a global warning to law enforcement to prepare for organized crime to target Covid-19 vaccines, saying authorities should expect “an onslaught of all types of criminal activity” linked to the shot (Source: Bloomberg).\n
The Italian government is set to tighten estrictions during the Christmas and New Year holiday season. Health Minister Roberto Speranza told the Rome Senate that a new decree, due to come into force on Friday, will prolong a three-tier system that tailors restrictions to regional contagion levels. With cabinet members divided on how tight the new curbs should be, measures under consideration include banning travel between regions, closing hotels in mountain areas and ski-lifts, and keeping a 10 p.m. curfew in force, according to officials who asked not to be identified discussing confidential talks (Source: Bloomberg).
A federal judge in California on Tuesday slapped down the Trump administration’s latest effort to limit legal immigration, vacating new restrictions on H-1B high-skilled foreign worker visas that were expected to affect a third of applications to the program.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White found that the administration didn’t take enough time to consider the changes or seek public comment on the rules, which would have made it harder for businesses to obtain high-skilled foreign employees and would raise the wages H-1B workers must be paid.
White said the administration failed to back up its claim that Covid-19’s impact on the labor market would justify scrapping the “’due deliberation’ that normally accompanies rulemaking.”
The ruling is a victory for business groups, which have challenged President Donald Trump’s moves to use the coronavirus pandemic and high unemployment as justification to quickly curb legal immigration.
“We need high-skilled innovators now more than ever, and the administration’s attempt to rush these rules forward without properly considering their impact on thousands of people … could have devastating consequences at a critical moment in our history,” the National Association of Manufacturers, which was part of the lawsuit challenging the new restrictions, said in a statement.
In October, the same judge blocked the Trump administration’s full ban on H-1B and other foreign worker visas, but that ruling only applied to companies represented by the business groups that sued, which included NAM, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation and TechNet.
The effort was the latest extension of Trump’s April 2017 “Buy American, Hire American” executive order, which called for federal agencies to vigorously enforce immigration laws to protect U.S. workers.
The administration argued that the current system allowed for “potential abuses” that in some cases “undermine the wages and job opportunities of U.S. workers.”
The restrictions at issue targeted H-1B visas, H-1B1 and E-3 visas, which are frequently used by the technology industry to temporarily employ foreign workers with advanced degrees. The changes were issued in two rules by the Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security in October.
The DHS rule, which was set to go into effect next Monday limited the types of occupations that H-1B workers could qualify for and how long certain beneficiaries could stay in the U.S. The rule change stated that a position would not qualify “if attainment of a general degree, without further specialization, is sufficient to qualify for the position.”
The DOL rule, which was already in effect, raised the minimum wage that employers must pay to H-1B workers.
\n Подписание трехстороннего соглашения Россия – Азербайджан – Армения о прекращении войны в Нагорном Карабахе обозначило исторический переломный момент, который предстоит закрепить еще и в дипломатическом отношении. Москва пока ведет себя осторожно.
Президент России Владимир Путин провел в режиме видеоконференции совещание с постоянными членами Совета Безопасности. В частности, он сообщил о своих очередных телефонных контактах с президентом Азербайджана Ильхамом Алиевым и премьер-министром Армении Николом Пашиняном, в ходе которых обсуждалась деятельность российских миротворцев и работа гуманитарной миссии в Нагорном Карабахе.
В свою очередь, Пашинян несколько детализировал ситуацию. По его словам, «подобные переговоры осуществляются на регулярной основе, иногда по несколько раз в день», хотя «мы не всегда распространяем информацию об этих обсуждениях, учитывая их характер и частоту». В числе обсуждаемых тем он назвал вопросы, связанные с населенными пунктами Лачинского коридора, пропавшими без вести, поисковыми операциями, телами погибших, обменом пленными, размещением и разграничением миротворцев, а также разблокировкой транспортных коммуникаций в регионе. Что касается азербайджанской стороны, то Алиев в телефонном разговоре с Путиным «выразил удовлетворение тем, что «в Нагорном Карабахе соблюдается режим прекращения огня и российские миротворцы продолжают успешно осуществлять свою миссию». Из последних сообщений: миротворцы обеспечили, как говорится в информации Минобороны России, «организованную передачу Кельбаджарского района под контроль азербайджанских сил с соблюдением безопасности гражданских лиц». Тем не менее ситуация в зоне конфликта остается несколько хрупкой, Москва вынуждена использовать на этом направлении режим «ручного управления» для того, чтобы существующий ход событий приобрел необратимый характер.
Российские миротворцы контролируют движение гражданского автотранспорта по Лачинскому коридору в Нагорном Карабахе
Дело в том, что после подписания трехстороннего соглашения Россия — Азербайджан — Армения о прекращении войны в Нагорном Карабахе на Западе начинает раскручиваться острая дипломатическая интрига, инициатором которой выступает Франция. Она обеспокоена тем, что в дальнейшем при определении статуса Нагорного Карабаха «Россия и Турция могут заключить соглашение с целью отрезать западные страны от будущих мирных переговоров». А сейчас Париж считает, что реализация соглашения о прекращении огня «должна проходить под международным наблюдением», чтобы начать переговоры о статусе Нагорного Карабаха, имея в виду кроме России других стран-сопредседателей Минской группы ОБСЕ. Напомним, что Москва наряду с Вашингтоном и Парижем является сопредседателем Минской группы по урегулированию карабахского конфликта, но они не участвовали в заключении соглашения, подписанном Россией, Арменией и Азербайджаном и положившим конец шестинедельным боевым действиям в Нагорном Карабахе. И первой на это отреагировала Турция, которую Франция стремится в любой форме исключить из процесса по карабахскому урегулированию.
Турецкий президент Реджеп Тайип Эрдоган заявил, что «опасения, высказываемые некоторыми из сопредседателей Минской группы, не имеют никаких оснований». С другой, он после телефонного разговора с Путиным сообщил, что обсуждал с ним возможность вовлечения других стран региона в усилия по поддержанию режима прекращения огня в Нагорном Карабахе. При этом Эрдоган не уточнил, о каких именно странах идет речь, хотя всем понятно — это Иран. Отметим в этой связи, что Тегеран, как и Анкара, поддержал размещение российских миротворцев в Нагорном Карабахе, полагая, что только так можно будет достигнуть устойчивого мира в регионе конфликта. Более того, Иран выдвинул инициативу подписать так называемый кавказский пакт с участием России, Турции и Ирана без привлечения западных стран к решению проблем Закавказья. С этой миссией недавно объездил Баку, Ереван, Москву и Анкару замминистра иностранных дел Ирана Аббаса Эракчи. Анкару устраивает этот проект потому, что он может снять напряженность в Иране, возникающую в связи с усилением военного присутствия Турции в Азербайджане. В то же время участие Тегерана и Анкары в карабахском урегулировании может принципиально изменить геополитическую ситуацию в регионе, который считается зоной политических интересов только России. Это первое.
Заместитель министра иностранных дел Ирана Аббас Эракчи
Tasnim News Agency
Второе: состоится акт политического изгнания Запада из Азербайджана и Армении. В Европе на это уже отреагировали. Правящая коалиция в Германии выступила с заявлением, в котором указывается, что «Турция проводит на Кавказе политику, не способствующую процессам мирного урегулирования в Нагорном Карабахе на дипломатическом уровне и при помощи обособленных договоренностей с Россией пытается продвигать в регионе интересы отдельных сторон». Содержится призыв к Москве и Анкаре «не использовать третьи страны для достижения своих политических интересов в этом регионе», то есть не привлекать к карабахскому урегулированию Иран, а сосредоточиться только на участии в процессе урегулирования Минской группы. Но по факту если группа и заработает, она будет отталкиваться уже от соглашения 9 ноября, так как ее ранние наработки по урегулированию конфликта теперь интересны разве что историкам. Отвечает и Иран. Как пишет тегеранское издание Hamshahri, стремление Запада сохранить МГ ОБСЕ исходит из того, что «при дальнейших переговорах о статусе Нагорного Карабаха сложится ситуация, когда конфликтующие стороны не откажутся от своих претензий друг к другу, будут считать нынешнее перемирие временным, в самом лучшем случае, рассчитанном на несколько десятилетий».
Приведет ли обозначенная политико-дипломатическая интрига к каким-либо результатам, говорить пока сложно. Что-то может проявиться тогда, когда заработает новая администрация в США, правда, неизвестно, будет ли она координировать свои усилия на карабахском направлении с ЕС. В любом случае состоялся исторический переломный момент, который в Нагорном Карабахе предстоит закрепить еще и в дипломатическом отношении. Москва ведет себя в этом отношении пока осторожно. Главные решения впереди.
Issued on: Modified:
Russian officials said on Friday that metabolic problems and pancreatitis caused Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny to fall ill in August, ruling out findings by European labs that he was poisoned with Novichok.
In August, the 44-year-old anti-graft campaigner collapsed on a flight from Siberia to Moscow and was eventually transferred for treatment to Germany where experts ruled he was poisoned with the Soviet-designed nerve agent.
The interior ministry\'s Siberian branch said doctors who treated Navalny for two days before he was flown to Berlin confirmed their diagnosis of \"disruption of carbohydrate metabolism and chronic pancreatitis\".
\"The diagnosis of \'poisoning\'... was not confirmed,\" it said in a statement.
The interior ministry added that no poisonous substances were found on Navalny\'s clothes or on objects collected from his hotel or the airport cafe in the Siberian city of Tomsk where he was seen before the flight.
Navalny has claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin is personally responsible for the poisoning, while the Kremlin has rejected all allegations it could have been involved.
The head of Russia\'s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Sergei Naryshkin also claimed Friday that NATO countries plotted to use a Russian opposition leader as a \"sacred sacrifice\" to uphold the protest mood in the country.
Navalny said it was \"funny\" that both the interior ministry statement and Naryshkin\'s interview with state television were released on the same day.
\"It seems NATO countries convinced me to start a fatal diet,\" Navalny wrote on Twitter.
Navalny\'s poisoning has put further strain on Russia\'s already fragile relationship with Western Europe.
In October, EU sanctioned several senior Russian officials over the poisoning, saying the attack with Novichok could not have been carried out without the complicity of the FSB security service, the defence ministry and Putin\'s office.
Separately, the Russian foreign ministry accused Germany of using \"made up pretexts\" to avoid cooperating in investigating the incident. Moscow called on Berlin to \"abstain from further artificial politicisation of the situation\".
In a phone call with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Thursday, Russia\'s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov highlighted the \"unacceptability\" of Berlin \"refusing to fulfil its international legal commitments,\" the foreign ministry in Moscow said.
Also on Thursday, police raided the offices of Navalny\'s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) in Moscow and removed equipment. The new raid was linked to a criminal case against Ivan Zhdanov, the foundation\'s head, for failing to implement a court order.
A court in October last year ordered that Navalny, his associate Lyubov Sobol and the Anti-Corruption Foundation must jointly pay almost 88 million rubles ($1.1 million) to a catering firm linked to Kremlin associate Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Navalny has vowed to return to Russia after fully recovering in Germany.
© 2020 AFP
NATOs Cyber Coalition 2020 (CC20) exercise to defend the allies against cyber attacks, which took place on 1620 November, embraced a number of firsts for the annual event. These included a wholly new scenario tailored to modern cyber operations, optional storylines based on protecting either military or civil critical infrastructure, and extensive testing and use of deceptive methods to deflect cyber opponents and gather metrics on their tactics. For the first time, CC20 was also conducted wholly in a virtual format due to the Covid-19 pandemic.\n
In some ways this was an improvement, by shifting everything to continuous workshops and meetings, said Rear Admiral René Tas, assistant chief of staff for capabilities at Allied Command Transformation (ACT), Norfolk, Virginia, which led the exercise. Tas and others tele-briefed reporters on 20 November at the close of the five-day exercise, which involved 1,000 participants from the allies and partner countries, various NATO commands and entities, the EU Military Staff, and the EUs civil Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT).\n
The logo of the NATO Cyber Range CR14 centre, pictured on 1 October 2020 in Tallinn, Estonia. The CCDCOE helped define CC20s scenario. (Raigo Pajula/AFP via Getty Images)
According to Tas, As a result of travel restrictions, there was a wider participation by officials and subject-matter experts, though its always better to exercise side-by-side of course. One of the key players was Estonias NATO-affiliated Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE), which had a central role in defining CC20s scenario, described by NATO as realistic, with storylines introducing modern cyberspace effects. The Czech Republic, Portugal, and the United States worked with the CCDCOE to produce the new scenario.
\n30 November 2020\n
\nby Mark Galeotti\n
Russia’s Security Council (Sovet Bezopasnosti: SB) was established in 1992, the direct successor of its Soviet counterpart to the Soviet Security Council, although during the 1990s it was often of questionable value, acting more as a half-way house for officials on their way to retirement. It is technically an arm of the powerful Presidential Administration (Administratsiya Prezidenta: AP), the institution that has emerged as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s primary agency of management.
In practice, the SB is an autonomous body, especially since 2008, when Nikolai Patrushev, one of Putin’s most trusted allies, became its secretary (see box). Although the body is not the reincarnation of the ruling Soviet Politburo as is often suggested, the evidence shows that the SB’s remit and power has expanded in recent years, particularly since 2011.
Drawing on Russian media reports, official government records, public statements, and conversations with former and serving Russian security officials, Janes has explored the strengths and limitations of this body and tracked the way that, in parallel with the increasing strength of the AP, the SB has become the key institution shaping the broad parameters of security policy, both domestic and external.
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council at the Kremlin in Moscow on 5 April 2019. The remit and power of the Security Council have expanded since 2011. (Alexei Druzhinin/AFP via Getty Images)
Russia’s Security Council (Sovet Bezopasnosti: SB) was established in 1992, the direct successor of ...
Russias Security Council (Sovet Bezopasnosti: SB) was established in 1992, the direct successor of its Soviet counterpart to the Soviet Security Council, although during the 1990s it was often of questionable value, acting more as a half-way house for officials on their way to retirement. It is technically an arm of the powerful Presidential Administration (Administratsiya Prezidenta: AP), the institution that has emerged as Russian President Vladimir Putins primary agency of management.\n
In practice, the SB is an autonomous body, especially since 2008, when Nikolai Patrushev, one of Putins most trusted allies, became its secretary (see box). Although the body is not the reincarnation of the ruling Soviet Politburo as is often suggested, the evidence shows that the SBs remit and power has expanded in recent years, particularly since 2011.\n
Drawing on Russian media reports, official government records, public statements, and conversations with former and serving Russian security officials, Janes has explored the strengths and limitations of this body and tracked the way that, in parallel with the increasing strength of the AP, the SB has become the key institution shaping the broad parameters of security policy, both domestic and external.\n
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council at the Kremlin in Moscow on 5 April 2019. The remit and power of the Security Council have expanded since 2011. (Alexei Druzhinin/AFP via Getty Images)
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Trump’s family has made no secret about its desire to eventually pursue new overseas business ventures.
The president’s sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, have repeatedly said the company has lost significant amounts of money because of their father’s presidency and vowed they would be back developing properties once their dad leaves office.
Eric Trump told an Argentinian news site in January 2019 that they will start looking at foreign business ventures when his father leaves office.
“We will consider the options,” he said. “Every day we have many offers.” In June, he told The Wall Street Journal the company wants to focus on overseas luxury hotels after Trump’s presidency.
In 2018, Donald Trump Jr. spent several days in India promoting the family’s existing developments, bringing in millions of dollars in new sales.
“After politics, we would certainly look at India and other markets,” Trump Jr. told the Indian newspaper Mint in 2019. But India, he said, “would be a big focus of mine. Frankly, it would be easier for me to get going in India because of the relationships we have built up in the last decade.”
Despite Trump\'s pledge not to engage in foreign deals while he was president, Trump received more than $200 million in income from his interests in foreign countries since 2016, according to an analysis from OpenSecrets, which tracks money in politics. And, the group found, Trump held up to $150 million in foreign assets at the end of 2019.
Trump’s finances are also tied up in potential court cases.
The New York Attorney General’s Office is investigating whether Trump and his company misreported assets on financial statements used to seek loans, tax breaks and economic benefits. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is looking into whether Trump paid off two women to keep them quiet about extramarital affairs as well as possibly tax crimes and bank and insurance fraud, according to court filings.
“The president does not feel bound by actual legal prohibitions much less merely ethical or moral ones,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the House Oversight Committee. “We can expect that he will continue to operate his business in conjunction with foreign businesses and governments.”
The use of a remote-controlled machine gun was not out of the question. Israel’s military has such weapons and has deployed them elsewhere. Some Iranian reports said as early as Saturday that such a weapon was used in the attack on Friday, an afternoon ambush on a country road east of Tehran.
But early official Iranian reports and witness accounts reported a gun battle between Mr. Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards and as many as a dozen attackers. And current and former Israeli officials have boasted that Israeli intelligence agencies have a track record of safely extricating assassins from hostile territories, including Iran.
Israel is thought to have killed at least five Iranian scientists between 2007 and 2012 as part of an effort to derail Iran’s nuclear program, which Israeli officials consider an existential threat. Tehran has credibly claimed to have caught only one of the perpetrators, an Iranian who confessed on television in 2010 that he had received training in Israel to plant a car bomb that killed a scientist as he was leaving his garage.
The agents behind the other assassination attempts and some larger operations are all believed to have escaped.
The role of a remote-controlled machine gun as part of a complex attack by a team of assassins was first reported over the weekend in an account of the killing posted online by Javad Mogouyi, a documentary filmmaker for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. His father and father-in-law are members of the wing of the organization charged with protecting Mr. Fakhrizadeh, and Mr. Mogouyi’s account was adopted as authoritative at the time by several Iranian news organizations.
Before the arrival of a dozen assassins, Mr. Mogouyi wrote, a Nissan had been parked at a roundabout, packed with explosives and armed with an automated machine gun. The remote-controlled gun opened fire first, distracting Mr. Fakhrizadeh and his bodyguards as the assassins lay in wait.
An autonomous machine gun that appears to match that description has been employed by the Israeli military since 2010. Developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the weapon includes a built-in optical system for aiming and photographs. Its name, which rhymes in Hebrew, means “you see-you shoot.”
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Lew Wallace, the former territorial governor of New Mexico (and author of Ben Hur), once said, “Every calculation based on experience elsewhere fails in New Mexico.”In so many ways Wallace was prescient about this beautiful, poor, and unique state in the American Southwest. One “calculation” about modern politics that would especially perplex him is the fact that a relatively poor but oil-rich Western state elects politicians that are so directly at odds with its economic best interest.After Texas and North Dakota, New Mexico is the third-largest oil-producing state in the U.S. The oil and gas industries combine to generate roughly 40 percent of its annual budget. Furthermore, New Mexico’s oil and gas resources are heavily concentrated on lands managed by the federal government. The central role of energy, especially energy extracted within the state’s borders and controlled by federal policy-makers, might lead one to believe that New Mexicans would vote for pro-energy Republicans in federal elections.Instead, New Mexico has become a safely blue state. It narrowly went for George W. Bush in 2004 but since then has gone for Democrats by wide margins. The situation is even more stark at the state level, where Democrats have had “trifectas” (total control of both houses and the governor’s mansion) for 60 of the past 90 years. The GOP hasn’t had such governing authority in the state for a single year since 1931 and, despite significant turnover, has not elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since Pete Domenici retired in 2009.In 2020 Biden won the state 54.3 percent to 43.5 percent despite the fact that President Trump’s pro-energy policies have been a boon to the New Mexico economy and that the Biden administration’s energy policies are a dagger aimed at the heart of New Mexico’s economy.That “dagger” comes in the form of the numerous -- sometimes clear, often conflicting -- statements that candidate Biden made during the campaign. It is unclear what Biden will do about hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which enables oil and gas producers to access previously inaccessible oil and gas sources. He backed away from an outright nationwide ban late in the campaign. However, Biden has clearly stated that he would ban new gas and oil permits -- including fracking -- on federal lands.Targeting federal lands would devastate New Mexico’s oil and gas industry and its economy, because of the state’s large federal estate. According to the Institute for Energy Research, 34.7 percent of the land in New Mexico is federal. In fiscal year 2019, New Mexico received energy-related disbursement (from the federal Bureau of Land Management) of $1.17 billion, the highest payment made in any state (Wyoming was next, with $641 million, and then Colorado, with $108 million). This was the highest payment from the bureau in the state’s history and compares with $455 million in FY 2017. A vast majority of this increased revenue is a result of fracking.Furthermore, data from the Global Energy Institute indicate that if energy production on federal lands were banned, New Mexico would lose 24,300 jobs (10,000 direct, 14,300 indirect and induced), a significant hit for a state with a workforce of around 900,000. Making matters worse, a good number of the “direct” jobs lost are good-paying -- something that is not easy to find in New Mexico, a state that consistently ranks among the poorest in the nation and has been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Closing New Mexico’s federal lands to energy production entirely would cost the state $496 million in annual royalty collections, representing 8 percent of the state’s total General Fund Revenues.Biden’s proposed fracking ban is even too much for New Mexico’s Democratic governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, who has said that she’ll ask for an exemption from any future drilling ban. Acknowledging the tax-revenue contributions to education funding, Grisham explained to the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association conference in Santa Fe last October that “without the energy effort in this state, no one gets to make education the top priority.”To be sure, Lujan Grisham is broadly supportive of Biden’s energy policies. (She’s even on the president-elect’s short list for administration positions.) Both of them have stated that they would like to “transition out of fossil fuels” despite New Mexico’s financial dependence on the industry.But Biden’s aggressive anti-fossil-fuels stance as it relates to federal land not only puts him at odds with Lujan Grisham, it puts him far to the left of President Obama on the issue. In a 2012 presidential debate, Obama stated, “We’ve opened up public lands. We’re actually drilling more on public lands than the previous administration. . . . And natural gas isn’t just appearing magically; we’re encouraging it and working with the industry.”President Obama was of course considered an environmentalist by political opponents and supporters alike. His support for natural-gas right isn’t difficult to reconcile with his environmental track record. That’s because (when used in a new power plants), natural gas emits 50 to 60 percent less CO2 than a typical new coal plant.Obama understood the vast benefits of natural gas, including the fact that it was appropriate to drill for it on federal lands. During his tenure, natural-gas production rose some 35 percent, from approximately 21 million cubic feet to more than 28.4 million cubic feet.If he truly cares about the environment, Biden would be wise to follow his predecessor’s playbook. According to the EPA, U.S. net greenhouse-gas emissions went down by 10 percent from 2005 to 2018, and much of the contribution to that decline in recent years was “due to an increasing shift to use of less carbon dioxide-intensive natural gas for generating electricity and a rapid increase in the use of renewable energy in the electric power sector.” But if natural-gas prices rise -- and a ban on federal leasing is likely to contribute to higher prices -- these positive developments could go into reverse. The Energy Information Administration recently projected that higher natural-gas prices would cause coal’s share of power generation to increase from 18 percent to 22 percent in 2021.Obama also signed into law legislation that ended the U.S. government’s restrictions on crude-oil exports back in 2015.During the campaign, Biden faced tremendous pressure from the left wing of his political base to come out for policies such the Green New Deal and bans on fracking and other fossil-fuel-based energy production. Biden has never been associated with such hard-Left stances against economic policy and growth in the past. Remember, even Obama is to the right of where Biden campaigned.Let\'s hope that President Biden has a more realistic approach to energy than did candidate Biden. New Mexico’s economic future is certainly at stake, but so is the recovery of our nation’s virus-hobbled economy.Rather than instituting a blanket ban on production of oil and gas on federal lands, a better approach would be to recognize the benefits and work to make sure that any production is handled responsibly and safely. The growing American energy sector and American energy independence have delivered wins for the environment, for consumers, and for the U.S. and state economies such as New Mexico’s. Let’s keep it that way.
\n An oil rig towers over houses last week in Nigg, Scotland. Major players in the oil industry expect depressed oil demand and low prices to continue well into next year.\n \n \n \n Peter Summers/Getty Images\n \n \n hide caption\n
An oil rig towers over houses last week in Nigg, Scotland. Major players in the oil industry expect depressed oil demand and low prices to continue well into next year.\n \n Peter Summers/Getty Images\n \n
2020 is shaping up to be an extraordinarily bad year for oil.
In the spring, pandemic lockdowns sent oil demand plummeting and markets into a tailspin. At one point, U.S. oil prices even turned negative for the first time in history.
But summer brought new optimism to the industry, with hopes rising for a controlled pandemic, a recovering economy and resurgent oil demand.
Those hopes are now fading. In a report Tuesday, the influential advisory body called the International Energy Agency revised its forecasts for global oil consumption downward, warning that the market outlook is \"even more fragile\" than expected and that \"the path ahead is treacherous.\"
It\'s the latest in a flurry of diminished forecasts from major energy players. On Monday, oil cartel OPEC slashed its expectations of oil demand, just as Trafigura, a large oil trading company, warned that another large oil glut is building.
And energy giant BP, which has grabbed headlines with its new carbon-neutral commitments, raised the possibility that the world might never again use as much oil as it did before the pandemic.
A pair of recent OPEC reports reflect the rapid shift in mood.
Its August oil forecast assumed that by 2021, \"COVID-19 will largely be contained globally with no major disruptions to the global economy.\" OPEC also predicted that economic activity would be rebounding steadily and oil demand would be recovering.
But on Monday, OPEC released a much grimmer forecast.
\"[S]tructural changes to the global economy are forecast to persist,\" the oil cartel wrote. Travel and tourism \"are not expected to achieve pre-COVID-19 levels of activity before the end of 2021.\"
The IEA, a well-regarded source of global energy data, agreed with the oil cartel\'s latest assessment, writing that \"it is becoming increasingly apparent that COVID-19 will stay with us for some time.\"
\"There\'s some negative vibes out there,\" said Neil Atkinson, the head of Oil Industry and Markets Division at the IEA. \"It just doesn\'t appear to be a simple case of this horrible thing comes along in the first six months of the year and then mercifully goes away again and we can all go back to normal. It\'s just not happening like that.\"
The world still relies heavily on oil and natural gas. For 2020, OPEC predicts total oil demand will be slashed by nearly 10% — nowhere near the large-scale pivot away from fossil fuels that scientists say is necessary to fight climate change.
But from the industry\'s perspective, this year\'s decline is tremendous and destabilizing. Producers around the world are already radically rethinking their production plans, shutting down drilling rigs and hitting pause on major projects.
Many U.S. producers have gone bankrupt. Saudi Arabia, which has been trying to diversify its economy to be less reliant on oil as the sole source of prosperity, pushed the wider group of countries called OPEC+ to slash output and drag prices up out of the doldrums.
These disruptions come as a growing number of investors, regulators and even energy giants are projecting bigger shifts in oil demand in the years to come as much of the world takes action to try to limit the most damaging consequences of climate change.
BP and Shell are among the European oil and gas giants that have pledged to reshape their businesses to focus more on zero-carbon energy sources. Total, the French energy company, recently acknowledged that the shift away from fossil fuels will cause some of its current oil investments to become \"stranded assets,\" meaning they will not be as valuable as expected in a world that has reduced its reliance on oil.
BP published its annual energy outlook this week and laid out three possible trajectories for the future of oil demand. In two of those pathways, the world would take meaningful action on climate change, and the current drop in demand — instead of being a pandemic-induced blip — would become the pivot point leading toward a lower-emissions future.
In the third path, where the world continues with \"business as usual\" instead of acting more swiftly to stop global warming, BP predicts oil demand would increase slightly over the next few years — but still peak within the decade.
BP says its scenarios are not forecasts, but \"a range of possible outcomes.\"
Carolyn Kissane, an energy expert and an academic director at New York University\'s Center for Global Affairs, says BP\'s experts aren\'t the only ones who see a possibility that energy demand may have already peaked.
She notes many factors will affect demand — including economic developments, government policy decisions and, of course, the pandemic. And big questions remain about just how profoundly our behavior might shift as a result of pandemic disruptions.
\"Maybe we are making this more dramatic, radical transition that\'s going to have much deeper impacts,\" she says. \"There is that uncertainty.\"
Transitioning away from fossil fuels will not be quick, easy or simple, Kissane says. But it\'s possible the pandemic is pushing companies and oil-producing countries to think now about how to adapt to a world with reduced oil demand — one they once expected would arrive further into the future.