April 20, 2017

Posted by orrinj at 6:19 PM


The Danger of Underestimating Russia's Influence in France : Fears of Russian meddling in a French vote reflect an overt and covert influence campaign. (Sebastian Rotella, 4/20/17, Pacific Standard)

Last month, the combative populist Marine Le Pen of the right-wing National Front flew to Moscow to meet with President Vladimir Putin. It was a display of longtime mutual admiration. The frontrunner in a field of 11 candidates, Le Pen shrugs off allegations of corruption and human rights abuses against Putin, calling him a tough and effective leader. Her hard-line views on immigration, Islam, and the European Union win praise from Putin and enthusiastic coverage from Russian media outlets. Her campaign has been propelled by a loan of more than $9 million from a Russian bank in 2014, according to Western officials and media reports.

Meanwhile, aides to Emmanuel Macron, the center-left former economy minister who is Le Pen's top rival, have accused Russia of hitting his campaign with cyberattacks and fake news reports about his personal life. Although French officials say the computer disruptions were minor and there is no conclusive proof of links to the Russian state, President Fran├žois Hollande and other leaders have warned about the risk of interference comparable to hacking operations that targeted the U.S. elections. The French government, aided by briefings from U.S. agencies about their experience last year, has beefed up its cyber defenses.

American politics was jolted when 17 intelligence agencies concluded in January that Russia had covertly intervened in the 2016 presidential campaign with the aim of electing Donald Trump. Such activity is nothing new in Europe, where Russia has launched a series of clandestine and open efforts to sway governments and exert influence, according to European and United States national security officials, diplomats, academics and other experts interviewed by ProPublica in recent weeks.

Posted by orrinj at 6:16 PM


Jeff Sessions dismisses Hawaii as 'an island in the Pacific' (The Week, 4/20/17)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is apparently flabbergasted a federal judge from "an island in the Pacific" -- also known as Hawaii -- had the right to block President Trump's executive orders temporarily banning immigration from several Muslim majority nations. "I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power," Sessions said during an interview Wednesday night on The Mark Levin Show.

Posted by orrinj at 7:04 AM


Immigrants flooded California construction. Worker pay sank. Here's why (NATALIE KITROEFF, APRIL 20, 2017, LA Times)

In the span of a few decades, Los Angeles area construction went from an industry that was two-thirds white, and largely unionized, to one that is overwhelmingly Latino, mostly nonunion and heavily reliant on immigrants, according to a Los Angeles Times review of federal data.

At the same time, the job got less lucrative. American construction workers today make $5 an hour less than they did in the early 1970s, after adjusting for inflation.

It's impossible to overstate deflationary pressure.
Posted by orrinj at 6:14 AM


Trump Adviser's Visit to Moscow Got the F.B.I.'s Attention (SCOTT SHANE, MARK MAZZETTI and ADAM GOLDMAN, APRIL 19, 2017, NY Times)

Ever since F.B.I. investigators discovered in 2013 that a Russian spy was trying to recruit an American businessman named Carter Page, the bureau maintained an occasional interest in Mr. Page. So when he became a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign last year and gave a Russia-friendly speech at a prestigious Moscow institute, it soon caught the bureau's attention.

That trip last July was a catalyst for the F.B.I. investigation into connections between Russia and President Trump's campaign, according to current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials.

It is unclear exactly what about Mr. Page's visit drew the F.B.I.'s interest: meetings he had during his three days in Moscow, intercepted communications of Russian officials speaking about him, or something else.

After Mr. Page, 45 -- a Navy veteran and businessman who had lived in Moscow for three years -- stepped down from the Trump campaign in September, the F.B.I. obtained a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court allowing the authorities to monitor his communications on the suspicion that he was a Russian agent.

Posted by orrinj at 5:51 AM


When it comes to NFL draft time, Patriots have knack for finding right undrafted players (Evan Lazar, April 20, 2017, Boston Herald)

During draft season the focus of the NFL world is primarily on the top prospects that are selected in the first round. But many of the players that make up NFL rosters have to wait until after the draft to find their new homes.

In fact, at the start of last season there were more undrafted free agents on rosters (481) than first- and second-round picks (480), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.