Thursday 25 May 2017

Links 25/5/17


This is just one of many stories that would have very likely ended any previous presidency, and yet. Last week, the Washington Post reported that President Trump had disclosed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister, putting both an asset embedded with ISIS and the intelligence sharing relationship between the US and other countries at stake. 

Robert Mueller, former FBI-director, has been selected as special counsel in the Russia investigation. This Politico article outlines the connection between James Comey and Mueller (and one of those stories that feel like they will be turned into a movie in the coming years): 
President Trump impulsively fired Comey in the hope that it would shut down the Russia investigation; one week later, though, he finds himself facing not just one esteemed former FBI director but two: the first a wronged martyr for the bureau, and the second a legendary investigator without a hint of politics. 
What unfolds ahead will be territory all too familiar to both Comey and Mueller—the field of play where they have made their careers and risen to the highest levels of government—yet the way that a Washington scandal takes on a life of its own amid independent investigations and looming prosecutions is deeply unfamiliar to Trump and many associates around him. Few in Washington know this landscape better than Comey, who as deputy attorney general appointed his friend Patrick Fitzgerald as special prosecutor to lead the leak investigation surrounding Valerie Plame, a case that ultimately led to the dethroning of Cheney’s top aide, Scooter Libby.
Politico: What Donald Trump Needs to Know About Bob Mueller and Jim Comey, May 18, 2017
And this is a very detailled look into how the FBI handled the first and second Clinton email investigation, and looks at Comey's actions with regards to the emails and the issue of Russian interference in the election. 
Some of the most withering criticism of Comey focused on his refusal, before the election, to disclose the FBI’s investigation into the possibility of collusion between the Russian government and Trump associates — even as he spoke at length about Clinton’s emails. In late March, quoting two anonymous sources, Newsweek reported that Comey had actually wanted to talk about the Russian political meddling, through a personal, bylined newspaper column, but the White House had blocked him from doing so. People familiar with the matter told me that the Obama administration had wanted to respond in a more direct way, through an official finding. That came on Oct. 7, through a statement about Russian hacking from the secretary of Homeland Security and the director of National Intelligence. Comey declined to be included on the statement, telling administration officials that he believed it was too close to the election. 
ProPublica: The Problems With the FBI’s Email Investigation Went Well Beyond Comey, May 11, 2017

A summary of the Trump administration's strategy in Syria, specifically a criticism of the decision to rely on the YPG, the military arm of a Syrian Kurdish party, to seize Raqqa. 

The Global Seed Vault on Svalbard - meant to be a failsafe against man-made destruction - is under threat from climate change. 

The struggle of influence between Russia and China in Central Asia: 
China’s expansion into Central Asia over the past decade was primarily driven by economic opportunism rather than by diplomatic strategy—by the promise of oil, gas and new markets for Chinese goods. But Xi Jinping’s vision of a Silk Road Economic Belt marks a diplomatic step-change: China is now actively seeking to increase its clout over its western borders. In time, it is logical that China’s deepening economic presence will translate into greater political leverage, whether Russia likes it or not. This will surely test the China–Russia relationship, which Beijing’s ambassador in Moscow claims is now “as close as lips and teeth”—a phrase once used by Chairman Mao to describe China’s relationship with North Korea. 
Zed: It’s the Euroasian Economic Union, Stupid, February 7, 2017

This is a small but relevant story about how Cloudflare, an internet company that provides services to right-wing extremist websites, disclosed information (including email addresses) about people complaining about these sites to the people behind Stormfront, The Daily Stormer etc. 

Pop Culture: 

Star Trek Discovery, which will be set about 10 years before TOS (we will never get an answer about Captain Sisko in the wormhole, will we) and features amongst others Michelle Yeoh, Sonequa Martin-Green and Rekha Sharma. 
Missy Elliott's work doesn't deny death, or poverty, or bad times, but it pushes for recovery. In her most recent single, "I'm Better (feat. Lamb)," which was released in January, the chorus circles around and gets repeated with a robotic flow: "I'm better, I'm better, I'm better / It's another day, another chance / I wake up, I wanna dance / So as long as I got my friends /...I'm better, I'm better, I'm better." This is not a boast from her to her fans; it is a mantra to them from her, even if there is a self-help quality to it. What matters more is that it feels determined, and that is what her fans depend on her to provide—the good news. 
Elle: Her Eyes Were Watching the Stars: How Missy Elliott Became an Icon, May 15, 2017

Katie and Allison Crutchtfield of Waxahatchee cover Sleater-Kinney's Modern Girl

On the road with Warpaint

A reading list inspired by PJ Harvey's Let England Shake

No comments: