Former U.S. foe said to have more sophisticated capabilities
President-elect Donald Trump said today he will move U.S. spy operations to Russia, which has “terrific” surveillance and “fantastic” intelligence gathering. “Our spy operations are a disaster,” Trump said after meeting with Mike Pompeo, the Kansas congressman who is in line to head up the CIA.
Trump said his “good relationship” with Russia president Vladimir Putin makes the partnership with Russia’s spy agency, known as the KGB, a “fantastic opportunity to get the best intelligence, the best knowledge of what’s going on in the world.”
Currently, most of Russia’s spa capabilities are trained on the U.S., but Trump said that will change. “I spoke to Putin,” he said. “We had a long talk. A good talk. And we’re going to move Russia’s spy operations to other parts of the world.”
Russia will continue to do some spying on the U.S., Trump said, “but it won’t be any more than we already do on ourselves. They’ll be taking over our internal spying, which they already do a very good job of anyway.”
American spies and surveillance operations won’t go away entirely. “We’ll be moving people to Moscow,” he said. “They can learn what the Russians know. We’ll learn from the best, so we can be the best again.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate majority leader, said the plan makes sense, especially given budget cuts the government is going to make to offset planned tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. “We have to cut the taxes of our wealthiest citizens, who disproportionately must use offshore shelters to hide their money,” he said. “What we want is fairness, and by cutting their taxes, they can bring that money back home so they can enjoy it the way they’re supposed to. Now, instead of hiding their money, they can buy another boat.”
Pompeo, who is expected to be confirmed easily by the Senate to head the CIA, sad he will have plenty to do after Russia takes over most of the spying for the U.S. “We will always have some spy capabilities here,” he said. “Russia doesn’t do a lot of spying of Canada, for instance. So, we’ll spy on Canada. And we’ll spy on California. There’s a good chance they won’t even be part of the United States in a few years, so we’ll have to keep tabs on them.”
This is a work of satire. It is fictional news article not meant to be taken seriously. Photos (some modified): pd, lp (Creative Commons). Not necessarily an endorsed use of images.
The Ku Klux Klan, based in Pulaski, Tenn., has retained the international public relations firm Clayton+Daye to educate Americans about the good the organization does and the fun its members have. “There’s a perception among Americans that the KKK is all about lynchings and scrawling swastikas on cars,” says John Arnold, a past grand master of the 150-year-old organization. “Those things are a big part of it, yes. But the group is so much more than that. We have picnics, help people paint houses and fences—in short, we help build community. Of course, it’s community for white people, but it’s community nonetheless.” In the ad campaign, which will air on TV and radio and have an online component beginning this spring, Klan members and their families will be shown as ordinary Americans who care about each other and the places they live. More.
As he vowed to do, President Barack Obama retaliated against Russian hacking of the U.S. election by releasing photos that Russian President Vladimir Putin is embarrassed to see on the Internet. “We were clear to President Putin that he would regret meddling in the election, which is so fundamental to our Democracy,” said White House spokesperson Josh Earnest this morning. “President Obama was very clear that the United States would retaliate in a manner and at a time of its choosing, and today we have made good on that threat with the release of these embarrassing photos of Vladimir Putin.” The photos are devastating indictments of Putin, say security experts and intelligence analysts. In one photo, Putin is wearing an anti-Putin t-shirt. In another, he has a propeller hat on his head. In a third, he has a message taped to his back that says “Kick me!” More.
The Democratic National Committee has been hacked. Colin Powell has been hacked. The NSA has been hacked. The American Olympic Committee has been hacked. So many opportunities. So many directions. When you can get into any email you want, whose email do you get into next? That’s the question Russia’s state-supported hackers have been asking themselves and now they want to get your input. In a first for Russia’s hackers, they’ve put out a call on their Facebook page to get ideas from you on whose lives they should turn upside down next. “Tom Brady? Beyonce? Barbra Streisand? It’s just so hard to know,” said the group, which calls itself Анонимный, or “anonymous” in Russian. “It’s impossible to keep up with who’s trending. “Drake is big. But you already know what his emails are going to say. There has to be a surprise factor.” More.
Russian president Vladimir Putin says he’s enjoying the positive coverage he’s getting from the endorsement of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump but he doesn’t want to give the impression his success is all about his leadership skills; it helps to be an authoritarian, he says. Putin says he could never work his will if he couldn’t jail critics or have them killed, which takes care of a lot of opposition. He also takes advantage of a rubber-stamp legislative body and gets to set the terms of his election, which is better than running campaign ads, even if they’re good ones. “Truth be told, it helps to do what you want without checks and balances,” he says. “Sure, I’m a good leader. I’m strong. But at the end of the day, I never lose sight of the real source of my strength: my authoritarianism.” More.
President-elect Donald Trump said one of the great foreign policy successes in United States history—its purchase of about a third of its landmass in what is known as the Louisiana Purchase—was an “amateur” real estate deal made by “hacks.” Speaking at the last of his “victory rallies,” in Mobile, Ala., Trump said he could have acquired the more than 800,000 square miles of territory from France for 45 million francs, rather than the 68 million francs President Thomas Jefferson paid in 1803. The price tag of 68 million francs translates into about $15 million, or about $250 million in today’s dollars, a price historians say is remarkable for a piece of land that extends from the southern tip of Louisiana to the northern border of Montana and gives the United States its breadbasket—the area of the country that is among the most fertile in the world. More.
Americans say they’re still proud* to be Americans. That’s the theme of a group that Americans launched today, called America Proud!®, to express how proud* they are to be Americans, today and tomorrow. “We’re Americans first and always will be, and with our new organization, we’re telling the world that we stand tall* as Americans because we love our country,” says Jared Brown (not his real name), a ski instructor in Park City, Utah, who is president of the new group. More.
NEW YORK CITY—President-elect Donald Trump said this morning he’ll take revenge on personal slights against him and humiliate his critics “on behalf of everyone in the United States” and not just on his own behalf. “No one wants to settle scores for all Americans more than I do,” he said while meeting with potential picks for his cabinet in Trump Tower. “I want people to know they can take pride when I hit back at someone doubly hard when they cross me. I take pride in that, and I hope all Americans will, too.”nTrump said he’s spent his life rewarding people who say nice things about him and striking back at people who call him names, and that won’t change now that he’ll be rewarding and striking back at people on behalf of everyone. More.
President-elect Donald Trump accused his formal rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, of ordering the “hit” that ended the life of long-time Cuba dictator Fidel Castro at age 90. “The body language of my intelligence analysts makes it clear beyond any doubt that the senator from Texas is behind the death of Castro,” Trump said in a meeting at his transition headquarters in Trump Tower in New York City. Trump said his company had been planning to build a luxury hotel in Havana for several years, and that plan is going forward. “We have great relations with Raul Castro,” he said, referring to the brother of Fidel Castro, who has been running Cuba on a day-to-day basis for several years. “He wants to move forward. He views this as an important project for his country. A huge project. And we’re going to build it. More.
WASHINGTON—America’s super-secret National Security Agency (NSA) is responsible for the dreaded “Heartbleed” virus that has infected servers worldwide, according to documents leaked by former U.S. security contractor Edwin Snowden. The documents show that NSA developed Heartbleed as part of its massive MYSTIC anti-terrorism surveillance operation. The virus “enables security personnel to monitor Internet traffic flowing through half a million U.S. and European-based servers,” according to a highly classified briefing NSA officials made last summer to security experts at European intelligence agencies. The briefing was part of the large trove of classified documents on NSA surveillance passed along to news outlets last year by Snowden, who is living under asylum in Russia. More.
House budget negotiators averted yet another showdown by meeting much of the federal government’s projected fiscal year 2015 spending gap with proceeds from the sale of phone data on U.S. citizens that the National Security Agency has been collecting since 2001 under the USA PATRIOT ACT. “We know NSA’s data collection has been controversial, but at least we were able to solve a very real problem with it, and that’s to get our fiscal house in order without resorting to showdown tactics and last-minute deals,” says House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). More.
With his inauguration approaching, President-elect Donald Trump has asked a group of scientists to determine how much hair
spray he’ll need to keep his famous combover in place during his inauguration speech, which traditionally takes place outdoors. The group has been meeting for almost a week and more meetings are planned between now and inauguration as it tries to nail down the precise amount he’ll need given the unpredictability of the weather in Washington in January. “It’s a challenging task,” said Jeffrey Barnes, professor emeritus of chemical engineering at the Stanford School of Engineering in Palo Alto, Calif. “Wind, rain, snow, cold temperatures—there are a lot of unknowns come inauguration day that could play havoc on what is arguably the most famous combover in the world.” More.
President-elect Donald Trump said he was appointing his “very good brain” to be one of his top advisors on both domestic and foreign policy. “I’ve always relied on my very good brain to decide what to do,” Trump said today at a press availability in his offices at Trump Tower in New York City. “When people would question whether I was doing the right thing or the wrong thing, I would consult my brain and do what makes most sense to it.” Trump said the policy insight of his brain is “the best ever” and there was never any doubt that he would tap his brain right from the start. “My brain has been with me from day one and it’s going to be with me from the day I take the oath of office,” he said. “It’s going to be terrific. There’s never been another advisor as good as this one. You’ll be very impressed.” More.
Americans across the country expressed confidence as reports leaked out that the process put into place by President-elect Donald Trump for moving from campaigning to governing is riven by purges and back-biting. “It gives me great peace of mind to see that there’s a great deal of infighting going on as our president-elect tries to staff the offices that will keep us safe and prevent the world from descending into chaos,” says Janice Meanes, a homemaker in Lawrence, Kans. Meanes says she voted for Trump because she wanted a law-and-order president, and to hear that ultra-right-wing ideologues are trying to push out people who have a reputation for keeping a cool head in crises gives her hope for the future. More.
Facebook annouced today that it has been the subject of a fake news story that it is banning fake news stories after it was accused of allowing fake news stories to tilt the presidential election to Donald Trump. “We are not banning fake news stories, despite what you might have read in a fake news story on Facebook, and we have no plans to ban fake news stories,” said Mark Zuckerberg, the chief of the popular social media site. Zuckerberg called it “questionable” that the widespread sharing of fake news on Facebook had any affect on the election outcome, and it’s for that reason there will be no policy change to ban fake news. “Does fake news get shared on facebook?” Zuckerman said. “Of course. It’s impossible to stop. But we do not believe that fake news on our site had anything to do with the election of Donald Trump.” More.
The erudite George Will, who has been writing about Republican politics since the mid-1970s and who declared this year he was no longer a Republican because of Donald Trump, says it’s bitter to learn he has no influence over people who vote Republican no matter how much ink is spilled or how many trees are killed to put his words into print. “After some 40 years as a political thought leader, I cannot say that anything I say has any influence on anyone at any time or in any place,” he says. “I guess that makes me a . . . nothing, because the whole rationale for my professional existence is to shape Republican attitudes and policy, and I see now that I have less influence than a truck mechanic I met in in Altoona, Pa., who persuaded his wife to vote for Donald Trump.” More.
President-elect Donald Trump said he appreciates the gracious concession call he received from his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, after the results of their bitter presidential contest were finalized. But he also said he wouldn’t have extended the same courtesy to her had he won the popular vote but lost the electoral college the way she did. “’What a rigged system!’ is how I would have put it,” Trump said in an interview on Fox News this morning. “To win more votes than the other candidate and still lose the election? Of course I would have accused the system of being rigged. Who wouldn’t? Hillary Clinton wouldn’t, that’s who. And I appreciate that.” More.