Re: Stuff and Nonsense Unleashed
« Reply #2242 on: Sep 23rd, 2017, 5:11pm »
Russiagate Dominoes Are Starting to Fall
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is facing indictment, according to a new report
By Bob Dreyfuss
The first big, fat domino in Donald Trump's Russiagate scandal is about to topple over: Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to investigate whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia's hack-and-leak attack during the 2016 election, has told Trump's 2016 campaign manager that he's going to be indicted, according to The New York Times, in a blockbuster front-page story.
And not only that: CNN, with a blockbuster of its own, reports that the campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has for years been subject to a court-ordered wiretap, allowing federal agents to listen to his conversations, both before and – shockingly – after the 2016 election. It's even possible that the agents recorded conversations this year between Manafort and Donald Trump after he took office, says CNN. What's more: "Some of the intelligence collected includes communications that sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with [Trump's] campaign," reported the outlet.
Since the start of the Russia investigations – which now include not only Mueller's high-powered team of prosecutors and criminal justice officials, but an FBI investigation and inquiries by the House and Senate intelligence committees and the Senate Judiciary Committee – Manafort has been the weakest, most vulnerable part of Team Trump. In late July, a team of FBI agents conducted a stunning pre-dawn raid into Manafort's home in Alexandria, Virginia, scooping up documents, electronic records and other evidence.
Now we know, thanks to the reporting by The Times, that the agents who raided Manafort's home were so concerned that Manafort might try to destroy evidence that they were armed with an unusual no-knock search warrant that allowed them to stealthily enter his home by picking the lock, surprising Manafort while he was in his bedroom, presumably sleeping. The FBI also conducted a secondary raid, breaking into a storage facility that belonged to Manafort, according to CNN.
Let's be clear about what all this means: First, it means Mueller and the FBI convinced a federal judge sufficient evidence existed that Manafort was guilty of a crime, or that he was an agent of a foreign power, or both. Second, it raises the possibility that the feds have tapes that could contain direct evidence of Manafort, and possibly President Trump, talking about collusion with Russia. And third, it means Manafort now has every incentive to cooperate with Mueller rather than face criminal charges.
Manafort, of course, was already a leading subject of the Mueller investigation because, along with Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner, Manafort famously took part in the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with a group of Russians who'd promised to deliver dirt on Hillary Clinton to the Trump campaign. That meeting is at the very heart of both Mueller's inquiry and the investigations by Congress into whether the campaign colluded or coordinated with Moscow last year.
So who, exactly, is Paul Manafort, and why is he so important? A longtime aide and adviser to Trump, Manafort in enmeshed in a tangle of connections to Russia, various Russian oligarchs, pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians and businessmen, and a host of financial and real-estate deals involving Russian and Ukrainian billionaires, going back more than a dozen years.
Manafort is a veteran of more than four decades' worth of political chicanery, and he founded one of Washington's most notorious influence-peddling firms, Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly – in which one of the named partners was Roger Stone, the giddily pro-Trump political bomb-thrower. Back then, Manafort and his partners lobbied for some of the world's worst dictators, including Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire and Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines.
In the 2000s, through a successor firm, Davis Manafort Partners, Manafort built close ties to Russians and pro-Russian Ukrainians. An exposé in The Wall Street Journal last month reported that Manafort's ties to this Russian-Ukrainian network centered on Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch worth more than $5 billion who is intimately tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin. From 2004 until 2015, Manafort did political work for Deripaska and other pro-Russian interests in Ukraine, Georgia and other countries in the Russian orbit.
In looking at Manafort, Mueller can also profit by examining a series of payments allegedly made to Manafort by pro-Russian pols in Ukraine. Last year, The New York Times broke the story that Manafort allegedly received millions of dollars in under-the-table and unreported payments from the Russian-allied Party of Regions led by Viktor Yanukovych between 2007 and 2012, a revelation that led Manafort to resign as chairman of Trump's campaign. (He was replaced by Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway.) This year, in the midst of Russiagate, Manafort belatedly amended his disclosure filings, admitting that his firm, Davis Manafort, had pocketed $17 million from Yanukovych and Co.
It isn't known whether or to what extent Manafort's work drew the attention of U.S. intelligence agencies, which were undoubtedly keeping track of the activities of many of Manafort's clients after 2004. What is known, however, is that in 2014 Manafort fell under the FBI's scrutiny, and the bureau started following Manafort. According to CNN's new report, that investigation was launched by an order from a secretive court created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in 2014, suspended in 2016, and then restarted again that same year, continuing into 2017. In case anyone might miss the point, CNN added: "Sources say the second warrant was part of the FBI's efforts to investigate ties between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives." (And: "It's unclear whether Trump himself was picked up on the surveillance," the outlet noted.)
By executing the search warrant, by issuing subpoenas for several of Manafort's aides and attorneys, and by warning Manafort that he's a target of the special counsel's investigation and likely to be indicted, it's possible Mueller isn't really interested in Manafort at all. Instead, he could be trying to get Manafort to "flip" – that is, to cooperate with investigators, telling them everything he knows in order to avoid a prison sentence. As the always reliable Lawfare Blog reports, if Manafort does flip, it'll open doors for Mueller into other parts of Russiagate – but if he doesn't, Mueller can lower the boom. "Note that if Manafort cooperates, we may not see anything public for a long time to come. Delay, that is, may be a sign of success," according to Lawfare. "But in the absence of cooperation, the fireworks may be about to begin."
One thing is certain: namely, that Mueller is playing hardball. Jimmy Gurgle, a professor of law at Notre Dame and himself a former federal prosecutor, marveled to The Times about Mueller's tactics. "This is more consistent with how you'd go after an organized crime syndicate," he said. And Simon L. Weisenberg, a prosecutor involved in the Ken Starr investigation that led to Bill Clinton's impeachment trial, added, "They are setting a tone. It's important early on to strike terror in the hearts of people in Washington, or else you will be rolled. You want people saying to themselves, 'Man, I had better tell these guys the truth.'"
Re: Stuff and Nonsense Unleashed
« Reply #2244 on: Sep 24th, 2017, 07:08am »
Good morning all
'The stuff the movie-makers dream of.' In Lake Michigan, a graveyard of long-lost ships captivates historians
September 24, 2017, 3:00 AM Reporting from SHEBOYGAN, WIS.
After a year of scouring the depths of Lake Michigan with a sonar-equipped fishing boat, Steve Radovan finally got a hit on the gray-scale monitor in the captain's cabin in May 2016.
The 71-year-old shipwreck enthusiast powered down the Discovery's engines and dropped a waterproof camera attached to a rope into roughly 300 feet of water. The images revealed a three-masted barquentine, covered in mussels and algae but lying on the bottom still largely intact. After reporting the finding to the state of Wisconsin, he learned the foundered ship was the Mojave.
With a cargo of 19,500 bushels of wheat, the ship had set sail from Chicago en route to Buffalo in 1864. The Mojave was spotted by the crew of a passing ship as it dropped into a trough of stormy waters. A small boat and cabin doors belonging to the lost ship were later recovered on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan.
"This is the stuff the movie-makers dream of. This is just like it was when it sank to the bottom," Radovan said with a grin, watching the camera's images from his home office. "No human has seen this ship since 1864."
For more than a century, sinking ships claimed thousands of lives, burnishing Lake Michigan's reputation as being among the most dangerous waters to navigate. Its notoriety as the deadliest of the Great Lakes is evident from an expansive graveyard of shipwrecks spanning the shoreline of Wisconsin — a testament to the perils taken on by crews and passengers who navigated the waters in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Under a new push by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the ghostly collection of sunken vessels could become the first national marine sanctuary in Lake Michigan and the second in the Great Lakes. NOAA is expected to make a final decision by next year, then Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Congress are to review the proposal.
Advocates say time is of the essence if the public is to view and study the wrecks because their structural integrity is endangered by the zebra mussels, an invasive species known for its propensity to cling to objects underwater and rapidly reproduce. The mussels can be cancerous, as evidenced by what happened to the Gallinipper, a fur trading ship that went down in 1851 and remained in pristine condition on the lake floor for more than a century.
"If it was raised, it could sail again," said Brendon Baillod, a Great Lakes maritime historian. "But it became so encrusted and caked in zebra mussels it started to collapse. So, in a sense, there's an urgency to finding these wrecks now, because in 10 years they could start disappearing."
While the sheer number of sunken vessels makes Wisconsin's slice of Lake Michigan stand out, the site is also renowned for the remarkably sound condition of many downed ships. Fifteen wrecks known to researchers are virtually intact, and 18 are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, per preliminary reports. Divers have found many with masts still standing, unbreached hulls, and even one with nautical charts still stowed in the drawers of the wheelhouse — something that would be unlikely in ocean waters.
"Cold, fresh water," said Russ Green, NOAA regional coordinator. "The fact that it's salt-free helps preserve iron and wood, and the cold water is like a big freezer that acts against deterioration."
The proposed 1,075-square-mile site offshore of Manitowoc, Sheboygan and Ozaukee counties contains 37 known shipwrecks dating from the 1830s through the early 1900s. Researchers say the area could be home to as many as 80 other undiscovered wrecks.
"These shipwrecks really tell us the history of how shipping was the engine of the American economy," Green said. "There's a huge legacy of risk, sometimes tragedy, personal stories of innovation, entrepreneurship — all locked into this proposed area."
The population explosion of zebra mussels that threatens to destroy the sunken vessels has, ironically, made it easier to discover and explore the wrecks. One zebra mussel can filter a liter of water a day, so once-plentiful microorganisms like plankton, which clouded the waters, have been decimated.
Since the introduction of zebra mussels in 1990, underwater visibility that was once 5 to 10 feet is now 80 to 100 feet, according to experts.
With the improved water clarity, the Wisconsin Historical Society wants to help more people view the wrecks by establishing a water trail of shallow-water shipwrecks that can be seen by paddle boarders, kayakers and snorkelers.
On a recent afternoon, Tamara Thomsen, a state maritime archaeologist, prepared to survey the J.M. Allmendinger, a wooden steamer that ran aground in 1895 near Mequon, where it was eventually pulverized by waves. Seated on the edge of her Boston Whaler in a heavy-duty dive suit, she took a couple of airy breaths from her oxygen tank, placed one hand over her goggles and the other atop her head, and fell backward into the water.
About 15 feet beneath the surface, a tape measure lay atop the ship's skeleton, stretching 94 feet across the lake bottom. The assemblage of wooden planks was speckled with zebra mussels and fuzzy, green algae. Nearby, a long, slender boiler that once powered the vessel lay on the rocky lake bottom.
"It's like Pick-Up Sticks shipwrecks here," Thomsen said. "You're trying to figure out what it was before. Then, you're like, 'Oh, I get it. Those are the walls where the deck collapsed and slid over here.'"
The most common ships in the potential sanctuary are 19th century schooners — nimble sailboats with two or more masts, similar to a classic pirate ship. Perhaps the area's most fabled schooner was a shabby old barge called the Rouse Simmons but more popularly known as the Christmas Tree Ship.
On Nov. 22, 1912, the ship left Michigan's Upper Peninsula for Chicago with a cache of evergreens for Christmas. A group of lumberjacks hitched a ride to join their families on what was supposed to be the Rouse Simmons' final voyage of the season. It turned out to be its last ever.
The ship capsized about 5 miles offshore of Two Rivers, Wis., and rescue ships were unable to find it in a snowstorm. Decades later, Historical Society divers found a Christmas tree still upright on the ship's bow.
Many times, it's the contents of a ship that help identify and tell its story. After the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources detected a steel steamship about 16 miles northeast of Port Washington, maritime archaeologists discovered hundreds of antique cars in the hull — identifying it as the Senator, a car ferry that had left Milwaukee for Detroit.
Navigating through dense fog, a passing ship rammed the Senator, sending its crew and cargo of 268 Nash automobiles to the bottom of the lake on Halloween 1929, days after the historic stock market crash.
It was these kinds of stories that hooked Radovan.
When he began diving in the mid-1970s, the hobby was in its infancy and akin to fringe sports like mountain climbing. He joined a group of divers who graduated from searching for bottles in inland lakes to hunting for shipwrecks.
More than 40 years later, Radovan is a part of a fraternity of boaters with pricey radar or sonar equipment who continue to navigate historic shipping routes in search of wrecks.
To Radovan, the importance of passing down the history and lessons from the wrecks is key. He hopes the sanctuary designation can hook a new generation with the same fervor for rediscovering history he had as a twentysomething greenhorn diver.
In a sense, it was never about the splintered timber or mangled steel lying at the bottom of the lake, he said.
"It isn't about the ship itself," Radovan said. "The ship is only a tool to tell the story. But the story is all about the people who were involved in these ships.”
Re: Stuff and Nonsense Unleashed
« Reply #2247 on: Sep 25th, 2017, 08:58am »
Yes, we have racial issues in this country, and yes, if someone wants to acknowledge that by kneeling during the anthem, he can do so in this free land. But....you do NOT tell a former Ranger (or anyone else) that he CANNOT stand, "team vote" or no "team vote".
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin raps Alejandro Villanueva for standing for national anthem
9/25/17 By Greg Norman, Fox News
For Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, being “respectful of our football team” trumped the right of Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva to show respect for the national anthem.
A former Army Ranger, Villanueva was the only Steeler to break from the team's orders and come out of the tunnel Sunday in Chicago to stand for "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Speaking after his team's 23-17 loss to the Bears, Tomlin appeared to take a swipe at the Bronze Star recipient's decision.
“Like I said, I was looking for 100 percent participation, we were gonna be respectful of our football team,” Tomlin said.
Tomlin told the media that, prior to kickoff Sunday, the Steelers held a team meeting and decided, though not unanimously, to not come out of the locker room for the national anthem. Tomlin added the intent was to have his team focus on the game and not President Trump’s comments blasting players who chose to protest during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
“Many of them felt like something needed to be done. I asked those guys to discuss it and whatever they discussed that we have 100 percent participation or we do nothing,” Tomlin said after the game. “They discussed it for an appropriate length of time and they couldn’t come to an understanding, so they chose to remove themselves from it. They were not going to be disrespectful in the anthem so they chose not to participate, but at the same time many of them were not going to accept the words of the president.”
Villanueva, who served three tours in Afghanistan, decided to stand his ground instead and placed his hand over his heart while the anthem played.
“We’re not politicians. We’re coaches and professional athletes," Tomlin said Sunday. "If those of us or individuals choose to participate in politics in some way I’m going to be supportive of that. But when we come out of locker rooms, we come out of locker rooms to play football games."
There appeared to be some confusion in the Steelers locker room after Villanueva came out of the tunnel for the anthem.
Offensive tackle Chris Hubbard told Penn Live that the players, by a slim majority, voted in favor of staying off the field instead of standing on the sideline holding hands.
"We thought we were all in attention with the same agreement, obviously," linebacker James Harrison told the website. "But, I guess we weren't."
Hubbard, however, said everyone in the locker room accepted that Villanueva would be exempt from the team's decision.
"Al was cool with it, with whatever we went through. He was on board. That's Al, man," Hubbard said. "He's a good guy."
Villanueva has previously spoken out about former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit and kneel during the national anthem, saying his actions may “send the wrong message.”
“I don’t know if the most effective way is to sit down during the national anthem with a country that’s providing you freedom, providing you $16 million a year...when there are black minorities that are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan for less than $20,000 a year," Villanueva told ESPN in 2016.
He added: “I will be the first one to hold hands with Colin Kaepernick and do something about the way minorities are being treated in the United States, the injustice that is happening with police brutality, the justice system, inequalities in pay. You can’t do it by looking away from the people that are trying to protect our freedom and our country.”
Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe also told ESPN he would be standing during the national anthem Sunday because he wanted to be "paying tribute to the men and women who have given their lives for our freedom."
"I stand because I respect the men who died in real battle so I have the freedom to battle on the field...but everyone these days likes to find a reason to protest and that’s their right," Wolfe told ESPN, according to The Washington Post.
Re: Stuff and Nonsense Unleashed
« Reply #2249 on: Sep 25th, 2017, 4:10pm »
I was painting one of the robots and did not want to paint the head so I put a small hood on the bot. After, when I looked at it, it struck me as humorous as I was thinking “terrorist” robot. Could be a warped sense of humor but if this offends anyone please delete or let me know and I will delete it.