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How Skadden, the Giant Law Firm, Got Entangled in the Mueller Investigation

Skadden’s work advising controversial foreign clients was probably prompted by the same aggressive risk-taking that fueled the firm’s rise from scrappy upstart to top-grossing legal giant with a range of practice areas, said Lincoln Caplan, a research scholar at Yale Law School and the author of “Skadden: Power, Money, and the Rise of a Legal Empire.”“The mentality is that Skadden wouldn’t be afraid of doing something like this, if there was a chance to utilize their skills and status to take advantage of what sounds like a very lucrative business, and they saw no legal or ethical proscription against their taking on the matter,” he said.Skadden’s work is part of a trend in recent years of lobbyists and lawyers earning increasingly larger paydays by marketing their connections in Washington to foreign politicians, countries and companies willing to pay hefty fees to burnish their reputations in the United States and on the international stage.Among those reaping windfalls are large international law firms like the Washington-based Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, which represents the governments of Japan, the Maldives, Nicaragua and South Korea, among others.Newer lobbying upstarts like Ballard Partners have won foreign clients by capitalizing on ties to President Trump. Founded by Brian Ballard, a lobbyist based in Tallahassee, Fla., who was a leading fund-raiser for Mr. Trump’s campaign, transition and inauguration, Ballard Partners has signed contracts with government entities or political parties in Albania, the Dominican Republic, Kosovo and Turkey, all since the inauguration.Those firms, which have not been accused of impropriety, disclosed the foreign contracts to the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The law requires anyone who lobbies or does public relations for foreign individuals, companies, governments and political parties to reveal detailed information about their work and payments for it. The act is intended to prevent foreign actors from surreptitiously influencing American public policy.But for years, many American consultants have skirted the law’s requirements. Mr. Mueller’s inquiry has focused on such undisclosed lobbying among some of its leading practitioners, including Mr. Manafort, who helped pioneer the model for international consulting three decades ago. […]

News Analysis: Mueller Is Gaining Steam. Should Trump Worry?

Mr. Trump is correct that nothing produced publicly by Mr. Mueller to date has claimed any wrongdoing by the president nor any illegal collaboration with the Russians seeking to influence the 2016 election. The indictment of the Russians — who are accused of flooding Facebook and other social media with disinformation and propaganda — cited only contact with “unwitting individuals” connected with Mr. Trump’s campaign.The charges against Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates depict an expansive money-laundering and fraud operation stemming from their work for Ukrainian leaders aligned with Moscow, not from their involvement in the campaign. Michael T. Flynn, the president’s former national security adviser, and George Papadopoulos, a former campaign adviser, pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about their contacts with Russians or intermediaries but not to criminal acts related to collusion.John M. […]

5 Takeaways From the Release of the Democratic Memo

It also discussed Moscow’s apparent overtures to another Trump campaign official and its general meddling during that period, which prompted the F.B.I. to open the Trump-Russia investigation in late July — before the bureau’s investigative team received Mr. Steele’s information.Some of that material remains redacted in the version of the memo made public on Saturday.By contrast, Republicans have portrayed Mr. Steele’s information as the central focus of the application, filed to the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The Republican memo said it formed “an essential part” of the application, and in a separate memo, Senators Charles E. Grassley and Lindsey Graham, Republicans of Iowa and South Carolina, stated that “the bulk” of the application was Mr. Steele’s information.The Democratic memo also says that what the F.B.I. did use from Mr […]

2 Weeks After Trump Blocked It, Democrats’ Rebuttal of G.O.P. Memo Is Released

At the conference on Saturday, Representative Devin Nunes of California, the committee’s Republican chairman, said the newly released memo showed that Democrats were engaged in a cover-up and were “colluding with parts of the government” to carry it out.The Democratic memo underwent days of review by top law enforcement officials after the president blocked its outright release two weeks ago, with the White House counsel warning that the document “contains numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages.” On Saturday afternoon, after weeks of haggling over redactions, the department returned the document to the committee so it could make it public.The release was expected to be the final volley, at least for now, in a bitter partisan fight over surveillance that has driven deep fissures through the once-bipartisan Intelligence Committee.Representative Adam B. Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, said on Saturday that the Democratic memo should “put to rest” Republican assertions of wrongdoing against the former Trump aide, Carter Page, in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act process.“Our extensive review of the initial FISA application and three subsequent renewals failed to uncover any evidence of illegal, unethical or unprofessional behavior by law enforcement and instead revealed that both the F.B.I. and D.O.J. made extensive showings to justify all four requests,” he said in a statement.Republicans, including Mr […]

After a Massacre, a Question of One More Death: The Gunman’s

NYT

Here is the original: After a Massacre, a Question of One More Death: The Gunman’s

European Ex-Officials Deny Being Paid by Manafort to Lobby for Ukraine

NYT

Excerpt from: European Ex-Officials Deny Being Paid by Manafort to Lobby for Ukraine

Facebook and Google Struggle to Squelch ‘Crisis Actor’ Posts

The resilience of misinformation, despite efforts by the tech behemoths to eliminate it, has become a real-time case study of how the companies are constantly a step behind in stamping out the content. At every turn, trolls, conspiracy theorists and others have proved to be more adept at taking advantage of exactly what the sites were created to do — encourage people to post almost anything they want — than the companies are at catching them.PhotoA Facebook post calling Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, survivors of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, “crisis actors.” Facebook has said it will remove such content.“They’re not able to police their platforms when the type of content that they’re promising to prohibit changes on a too-frequent basis,” Jonathon Morgan, founder of New Knowledge, a company that tracks disinformation online, said of Facebook and YouTube.The difficulty of dealing with inappropriate online content stands out with the Parkland shooting because the tech companies have effectively committed to removing any accusations that the Parkland survivors were actors, a step they did not take after other recent mass shootings, such as last October’s massacre in Las Vegas. In the past, the companies typically addressed specific types of content only when it was illegal — posts from terrorist organizations, for example — Mr. Morgan said.Facebook and YouTube’s promises follow a stream of criticism in recent months over how their sites can be gamed to spread Russian propaganda, among other abuses […]