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Vladimir Vigdorovich
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Science FTW
Science FTW

234 followers
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An excellent summary of the known Trump-Russia connections prior to the Comey hearing.

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No one can definitively state that they were in the room with him at any time. (This must create certain difficulties in his job as Russia’s ambassador to the United States.)
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Afterward, all his interlocutors have are images and feelings: warmth, security, ethics, definitely nothing that belongs in testimony.
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Possibly we have all met with Kislyak and our minds are just shielding us from this knowledge.
Dementors speak of him with reverence. His name is Sergey Kislyak, and he is the Most Forgettable Man in the World.

This entire op-ed is pure gold. 

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Today's news just got a bit more interesting. This morning, Donald Trump made a series of tweets about Obama tapping his phones during the election. These tweets have rather surprised experts (and especially members of Congress), since they are either (a) confused ranting based on a Breitbart article about something he actually has the power to know about, or (b) that he just publicly acknowledged that there was a classified FISA warrant to tap the phones of his campaign staff.

Now, there's no law against him admitting this; as Rep. Himes (D-CT) of the House Intelligence Committee notes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xHlhM-WrDI), he is the ultimate declassification authority and has every right to do this. But what's gotten a lot of people worried – such as Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), whose official statement is below – is that while FISA may be one of the most secretive and unaccountable parts of the entire US legal system, its judges do take their legal responsibilities quite seriously, and a wiretap warrant requires a showing of probable cause.

(And especially given post-Watergate laws and post-Watergate sensitivities, walking up to a court and saying "Hi, I want to wiretap a major political party's headquarters during a Presidential election" is going to get you some very dirty looks. The bar for probable cause will not be set low.)

Now, the existence of such a warrant has been rumored for some time – here's some reporting on it from early November, before the election. (https://heatst.com/world/exclusive-fbi-granted-fisa-warrant-covering-trump-camps-ties-to-russia/) It would also explain many things about how the FBI was aware of Flynn's secret conversations with Russian officials.

But there's a difference between rumors and official confirmation – and if President Trump really did just announce its existence, then there is good reason for the public to want to know, as Sen. Sasse says, just what was in the application for this warrant, and how the applying agency established probable cause. Because this means that the investigating agency had solid evidence of criminal collaboration with a foreign power.

Note that this is very different from evidence that they talked to Russians; talking to Russians is fine. Talking to Russian politicians is fine. There are quite a lot of members of the government whose job is nothing but talking to Russian politicians. We're talking about conversations which would be evidence of serious crimes – and given that we're talking about FISA warrants, crimes which jeopardize national security.

Combined with previous reports such as this one (https://nyti.ms/2jFcK0n), a fairly clear picture is emerging: the FBI has been systematically investigating illegal connections between Trump's organization and the Russian government for some time, and back in October had sufficient evidence to get a wiretap warrant in the middle of an election season, which is no small bar. On several occasions since the election (most notably that of NatSec advisor Michael Flynn) administration officials have denied various contacts, only to be immediately contradicted by leaks which appeared to have not only confirmation of such contacts, but details.

What this adds up to is not an investigation of any single individual, but an investigation with solid evidence pointing at the breadth of the senior levels of the Trump organization being directly involved in criminal activities.

It means there's a very, very, large shoe waiting to drop. And I have no idea what will happen when it does; this is a situation literally unprecedented in American history.
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"The murder of anyone is a tragedy, and our hearts go out to all families who lose a loved one to violence. But let’s be clear about what Donald Trump is doing tonight in inviting family members who saw a loved one murdered by an undocumented immigrant. He is stirring up fear and hatred against immigrants and trying to divide our nation. That is his political strategy and we must not allow him to get away with it. Why didn't Trump invite the family of Srinvas Kuchibhotla, the immigrant from India, who was recently shot down in cold blood by a white, native born American? Didn't his life count? Why didn't he invite the families of the black parishioners shot down in a church in South Carolina by racist Dylan Roof? Weren't their lives important? President Trump, any murder is a tragedy. Don't use these tragedies to stir up divisions by race and nationality."

Sen. Bernie Sanders

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10155680684932908&id=9124187907

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Another looming disaster for the U.S. scientific program.
After the taxcut-driven asphyxiation of the Bush years and the economic meltdown, the Obama's second term was a bit of relief for the US science.

Only to end up here... The current budget proposal is to ramp up the military spending, and to hell with everything else!

White House officials said today that they will ask Congress to increase discretionary defense spending by $54 billion, to $603 billion, in the 2018 fiscal year which begins 1 October. They expect to pay for that increase by cutting an equivalent amount from nondefense discretionary spending—the part of the budget that includes major basic research funders. That means a potential squeeze on the $31 billion National Institutes of Health, the $7 billion National Science Foundation, the $5 billion Office of Science at the Department of Energy, as well as all other civilian science programs.
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