reportedly

Russia reportedly used Pokémon Go in an effort to inflame racial tensions

Russia’s far-ranging campaign to promote dissension in the United States reportedly included an effort to weaponize Pokémon GoCNN reported today that in July 2016, a Tumblr page linked to Russia’s now-notorious Internet Research Agency promoted a contest encouraging people sympathetic to the Black Lives Matter movement to play the game near famous sites of police brutality. Players were told to change their characters’ names to the victims of those incidents — an apparent effort to inflame racial tensions.

The Tumblr page was linked to Do Not Shoot Us, a multi-platform campaign designed to mimic aspects of Black Lives Matter. (As CNN notes, the name plays on “hands up, don’t shoot,” one of the movement’s slogans.) Do Not Shoot Us included a website, donotshoot.us, along with related pages on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. The Facebook page was one of 470 pages that were removed after the company determined that it was linked to Russian groups attempting to interfere in US politics.

According to CNN, the group’s Tumblr page included a post showing a Pokémon named “Eric Garner,” who died after being put in a chokehold by a officer of the New York Police Department. The post promoted a contest, which promised Amazon gift cards to the winners, according to the report. CNN could not find evidence that anyone actually participated in the contest, it said, or that the page had distributed the gift cards.

The Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts of the group have been suspended, CNN said. Its YouTube and Tumblr pages, though, remain active — though the Tumblr page has shifted to posts about Palestine.

Advertisements

Las Vegas gunman reportedly fired at fuel tanks in attempt to create blast

Apparently trying to create a huge explosion, gunman Stephen Paddock reportedly targeted jet fuel tanks while carrying out the mass shooting in Las Vegas Sunday night.

Two bullet holes were found in an aviation fuel tank, and one bullet penetrated the container, the Las-Vegas Review Journal reported Wednesday, citing “knowledgable” sources. No fire or explosion was caused.

The tanks are located some 2,000 feet from where Paddock opened fire and murdered 58 people and wounded hundreds more.

The bullet holes in the tanks have since been repaired and were inspected by the FBI, according to the Review-Journal.During the shooting rampage, Paddock broke two windows in the 32nd-floor hotel room of the Mandalay Bay casino from which he opened fire — one overlooking the concert grounds and the other across from the fuel tanks.

Sources told the newspaper that jet fuel is difficult to set on fire and fuel tank operators often have safeguards in place to prevent fires.

“A machine gun is not going to blow up a tank of fuel,” said Mike Boyd, an aviation consultant. “Jet fuel itself sitting there in a big wet pile is very hard to ignite. You have to be a very amateur terrorist to think anything like that.”

An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter, citing the ongoing investigation. A spokeswoman for McCarran International Airport, which owns the property where the fuel tanks are located, said “airport fueling has not been compromised.”

The report that Paddock targeted the fuel tanks comes as investigators struggle to figure out the shooter’s motive.

Paddock led such a low-key, private life that no one seemed to know him well, and those who did had no sense he was capable of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

Where other mass killers have left behind a trail of plain-sight clues that help investigators quickly understand what drove them to violence, Paddock, 64, had nearly no close friends, social media presence or other clear connections to the broader world.

Even the No. 2 official in the FBI said Wednesday he was surprised investigators have not uncovered more about why a man with no obvious criminal record would cause so much bloodshed.

“There’s all kinds of things that surprise us in each one of these events. That’s the one in this one, and we are not there yet,” FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said. “We have a lot of work to do.”

Working with what little they know, investigators have zeroed in on a weapon-buying binge Paddock went on one year before he gunned down 58 people Sunday at a country music festival from a 32nd-floor room at the Mandalay Bay casino resort, before killing himself.

They wonder if he had some sort of mental break at the time that drove him to start making plans for mass murder.

They also know he rented an apartment in a Las Vegas high-rise over another music festival the weekend before the massacre, though not why.

They know he was a major gambler and are looking at related records, though even in very public casinos he played the very private game of video poker.

They know he had a plan to survive the shooting and try to escape, though they would not say how.

Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said at a news conference Wednesday night that Paddock must have had some help along the way given his huge arsenal the explosive materials found in his car, and his meticulous plan, but they don’t know who that might be.

Some who thought they knew him intimately could provide no help.

“He never said anything to me or took any action that I was aware of that I understood in any way to be a warning that something horrible like this was going to happen,” Marilou Danley, 62, said in a statement read by her lawyer outside FBI headquarters in Los Angeles.

Danley returned Tuesday from the Philippines, where Paddock had sent her before the attack, and was being interviewed by the FBI.

Analyzing Paddock’s computer, cellphone and other electronic devices, Investigators have found no obvious ideological motive, no clear connection to extremists or activist groups or outward display of mental illness.

Paddock wired $100,000 to the Philippines days before the shooting, said a US official who was not authorized to speak publicly because of the continuing investigation. Investigators are trying to trace that money.

Danley, who was overseas for more than two weeks, said she was initially pleased when she was wired money from Paddock to buy a house for her family in the Philippines. But she later feared it was a way to break up with her.

She said she loved Paddock as a “kind, caring, quiet man” and hoped they would have a future together. She said she was devastated by the carnage and would cooperate with authorities as they struggle to get inside Paddock’s mind.

The previous weekend, Paddock had rented a high-rise condo in a building that overlooked the Life is Beautiful alternative music festival featuring Chance the Rapper, Muse, Lorde and Blink-182, said Lombardo, who offered no other details about what led Paddock there.

On September 28, the 64-year-old high-stakes gambler and real estate investor checked into Mandalay Bay and specifically requested an upper-floor room with a view of the Route 91 Harvest music festival, according to a person who has seen hotel records turned over to investigators.

Paddock wasn’t able to move into the room until Saturday, said the person, who was not authorized to speak publicly and disclosed the information to the AP on condition of anonymity.

The room, which goes for $590 a night, was given to Paddock for free because he was a good customer who wagered tens of thousands of dollars each time he visited the casino, the person said.

Authorities are looking for hints in those details of the kind of life he lived, and the kind of victims and venue he targeted, said David Gomez, a former FBI national security and criminal profiler.

“We may never know to 100 percent certainty,” he said. “But they will find out.”

‘Suicide pact’: Mattis, Tillerson and Mnuchin reportedly have a deal in case Trump votes one of them off the island

Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have formed a “suicide pact,” promising to all leave their cabinet positions in the event one of their jobs is in jeopardy, Buzzfeed reports.

News of the pact came to light Wednesday after NBC News indicated Tilllerson had called President Trump a “moron” during an intense period in the West Wing over the summer. Tillerson on Wednesday denied reports he has ever considered stepping down as secretary of state, but declined to say whether or not he’s ever debased the president.

In a series of tweets and a public statement on Wednesday, Trump dismissed the report, calling NBC “fake news” and demanding an apology from the network.

“It was fake news,” Trump said during his visit to Las Vegas. “A totally phony story. NBC just made it up. They made it all up.”

NBC News reporter Stephanie Ruhle hit back at Trump shortly thereafter, iterating her sources said Tillerson called the president a “f*cking moron.”

Jerusalem to reportedly okay tripling Jewish enclave inside Arab neighborhood

A plan to nearly triple the size of a Jewish neighborhood in the heart of Arab East Jerusalem will reportedly be pushed ahead Sunday by a local planning committee.

The Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee will debate approving 176 new housing units for Nof Zion, which sits within the Arab neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, Channel 1 reported on Wednesday.

The agenda item was not listed in publicly available filings, though authorities may be seeking to avoid attracting attention to the issue.

Currently, Nof Zion is made up of seven apartment buildings containing a total of 91 residential units. The first residents moved in eight years ago. There are also plans to build a synagogue within the partially gated community.

While Israel considers all building in any part of Jerusalem legitimate, building projects marketed for Jews in the heart of Arab neighborhoods have stirred up tensions and are seen by many Israelis as more controversial than Jewish-majority neighborhoods over the Green Line that are set apart, such as Gilo.

Responding to the Channel 1 report, the Peace Now settlement watchdog said that “the government has opened all the floodgates when it comes to settlement developments within Palestinian neighborhoods,” referring to Israel’s policy of allowing unfettered Jewish construction in East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed in a move not recognized by most of the international community.

While Nof Zion is adjacent to the Green Line, it is considered inside the Arab neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, south of Jerusalem’s Old City.

Jabel Mukaber has a population of some 14,000, making it one of the larger Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem.

In the early 1990s, Jewish Israelis purchased land in Jabel Mukaber for the construction of Nof Zion and the Planning and Building Committee approved a building plan for the area.

In 2009, a group of American Jews held a cornerstone laying for the second phase of the neighborhood, but it failed to yield buyers and the contractor went bankrupt, selling the project to other developers.

“The previous attempt to build apartments there, as if it were a regular real estate project, failed because there is no market of people who innocently want to live in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood. Only ideologues,” Peace Now’s Hagit Ofran told Channel 1.

US President Donald Trump hasn’t shown the same willingness to raise hackles over Israeli building in East Jerusalem as his predecessors.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that while he is still working to reach an understanding with the Trump administration on settlement building in the West Bank, the topic of placing restrictions on building in East Jerusalem is off the table.

HALEY TARGETS UN ‘BLACKLIST,’ REPORTEDLY THREATENING AID

 

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration is strictly opposing a UN “blacklist” of entities conducting business in Israeli settlements, with Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley reportedly threatening US aid to the body should it publish such a list.

A report on Channel 2 claimed that Haley, in recent conversation, warned the UN Human Rights Council that publication of a blacklist would “harm” its funding.

The television outlet did not specify its sourcing for this claim, to whom Haley said it or when the warning was issued, and The Jerusalem Post could not independently verify the report.

But US diplomatic officials told the Post that the administration is indeed critical of the proposed blacklist, which would call out international companies for conducting business in the West Bank, as well as the Golan Heights and east Jerusalem, two areas that Israel has annexed but which UN bodies consider illegally occupied.

Haley has condemned the proposal on record as recently as June 6, in remarks to the international body in Geneva.

“The council’s effort to create a database designed to shame companies for doing business in Israeli-controlled areas is just the latest in this long line of shameful actions,” Haley said. “Blacklisting companies without even looking at their employment practices or their contributions to local empowerment, but rather based entirely on their location in areas of conflict is contrary to the laws of international trade and to any reasonable definition of human rights.

“It is an attempt to provide an international stamp of approval to the antisemitic BDS movement,” she said. “It must be rejected.”

On that same day in June, US officials warned that President Donald Trump may pull out of the human-rights council completely, based on its “chronic anti-Israel bias.”

Ever since, Haley has campaigned on a series of issues aligned with Israel’s interests at the UN, highlighting Hezbollah’s “destabilizing” role in Lebanon and Syria, Iran’s potential noncompliance of a nuclear deal brokered by world powers, and international recognition of a growing scourge of antisemitism tied in with anti-Zionist rhetoric.

She has lambasted the UN Security Council for its focus on Israel, and UNESCO for its political listings of sites within Israel and the Palestinian territories.

On Thursday, Haley also issued a statement on Hamas’s “stunning admission” from earlier in the week that it is partnered with the government in Iran, jointly fighting Israel.

“Once again, Iran is showing its true colors,” she said. “Iran must decide whether it wants to be a member of the community of nations that can be expected to take its international obligations seriously or whether it wants to be the leader of a jihadist terrorist movement. It cannot be both.”

Trump Organization VP Michael Cohen (Kike) reportedly asked Putin aide to help advance Moscow deal

NEW YORK (JTA) — Michael Cohen, a top executive at the Trump Organization, emailed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman to ask him to help advance a stalled project to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Cohen contacted Putin’s top press aide, Dmitry Peskov, in January 2016, The Washington Post reported Monday, citing “documents submitted to Congress.”

“I am hereby requesting your assistance,” Cohen wrote to Peskov regarding a Trump Tower development deal that he said was “stalled.”

Cohen continued: “I respectfully request someone, preferably you, contact me so that I might discuss the specifics as well as arranging meetings with the appropriate individuals. I thank you in advance for your assistance and look forward to hearing from you soon.”

The news come as federal investigators, under the leadership of Robert Mueller, are looking into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Cohen, the longtime attorney for President Donald Trump and executive vice president of the Trump Organization, said in a statement to congressional investigators that he had contacted Peskov at the suggestion of Russian-American businessman Felix Sater, who was helping facilitate the Moscow deal, according to The Washington Post.

Sater reportedly told Cohen that they could help Trump win the presidential election with the help of Putin.

“Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,”  Sater wrote in an email to Cohen, The New York Times reported Monday. “I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.”

Cohen, who sometimes served as a Trump surrogate during the 2016 campaign, said he did not recall hearing back from Peskov and that he gave up on the project two weeks after sending the email.

“It was a building proposal that did not succeed and nothing more,” he said, according to The Washington Post.

Trump adviser Gary Cohn (Kike) reportedly considered quitting following Charlottesville

Gary Cohn

(JTA) — Gary Cohn, a prominent Jewish member of President Donald Trump’s administration, considered resigning over Trump’s response to a far-right rally in Charlottesville, The New York Times reported.

Cohn, the top economic adviser for Trump, drafted a letter of resignation, according to the report Friday, which cited two unnamed people familiar with the draft.

In an interview Thursday with the Financial Times, Cohn said the White House “can and must do better” in consistently condemning hate groups. His remarks came nearly two weeks after the Charlottesville rally, which turned deadly when an alleged white supremacist rammed a crowd of counterprotesters with a car, killing one and injuring at least 19.

It was his first public reference to the national dialogue about the violence. As a “patriotic American,” Cohn said he did not want to leave his job as director of the National Economic Council.

“But I also feel compelled to voice my distress over the events of the last two weeks,” he said.

After the Charlottesville rally, Trump said that both far-right marchers who gathered in the southern Virginia city and counterprotesters shared the blame for the violence that ensued. Trump later condemned the Ku Klux Klan, racists and neo-Nazis amid criticism that he failed to single out the far-rightists immediately afterward, but a day later said there were “very fine people on both sides.” Cohn was standing with three other officials behind Trump in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York City on Aug. 15 when the president made his latter remarks to reporters.

“Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the KKK,” Cohn said in the Financial Times interview. “I believe this administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups, and do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities.”

Cohn added: “As a Jewish American, I will not allow neo-Nazis ranting ‘Jews will not replace us’ to cause this Jew to leave his job.”

He also told the Financial Times he spoke privately with Trump about these issues.

“I have not been bashful saying what I think,” Cohn said.

In the days after Charlottesville, Cohn’s family — including his wife — told him he needed to think seriously about departing, The New York Times reported, citing two people briefed on the discussions. Several of his friends in the business community also urged him to step away from the administration. Cohn is a former executive at Goldman Sachs.

Amid fears that Cohn would resign, the U.S. stock market dropped until the White House denied the rumor. Cohn, who had spent his entire career in the trading world before joining Trump late last year, was deeply troubled by the market reaction, people close to him told The New York Times.

Cohn’s critical statements of the president’s performance come as Trump prepares next week to start a major national effort to sell a tax-cut plan, which Cohn has been toiling for months behind the scenes to craft, The New York Times noted.

His remarks were in marked contrast to a statement by the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, who also is Jewish and stood directly behind the president during the Aug. 15 news conference.

“I don’t believe the allegations against the president are accurate, and I believe that having highly talented men and women in the country surrounding the president in his administration should be reassuring to you and the American people,” he told former Yale classmates who had urged him to resign.

Stephen Bannon reportedly ‘going to war’ against Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner

(JTA) — Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon reportedly is “going to war” against several White House targets, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, according to reports.

report Sunday evening in Vanity Fair titled “Steve Bannon Readies His Revenge: The war on Jared Kushner is about to go nuclear,” said that Bannon’s targets in the West Wing are the “globalists,” identified as Ivanka Trump, Kushner and former Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn, the chief economic adviser to Trump and director of the National Economic Council, as well as the “hawks,” identified as National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and his deputy, Dina Powell.

The magazine cited Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow as saying that Bannon “wants to beat their ideas into submission. Steve has a lot of things up his sleeve.”  

Bannon has returned to head the right-wing website Breitbart News after being removed from his White House post on Friday, nearly a week after he welcomed President Donald Trump’s divisive comments on a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. He had left Breitbart to join the Trump campaign last year.

An unnamed Bannon ally told Vanity Fair that the former White House strategist called Kushner, an adviser to the president as well as his son-in-law, “a dope,” and that the two clashed fiercely on personnel decisions and policy debates, both domestic and international, many of which Bannon lost.

Unnamed Bannon allies told the magazine that Bannon had lobbied the president “aggressively” to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, a move that they say was blocked by Kushner. The report also noted that Bannon stayed away during a May visit by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House, texting to a friend that “I’m not going to breathe the same air as that terrorist.”

On Sunday, the Breitbart website’s lead story was headlined “Report: Ivanka Trump Helped Push Steve Bannon Out Of The White House,” based on a Daily Mail report that said “Trump’s daughter Ivanka pushed out Bannon because of his ‘far-right views’ clashing with her Jewish faith.”

Breitbart updated the article to say “A senior White House aide informed Breitbart News that the Daily Mail report was ‘totally false’ and called into question the sources in the article of having any real knowledge of the Trump family.”

Bannon had been under fire since he began working for the Trump campaign. He has been criticized for calling Breitbart News a platform for the “alt-right,” a far-right and white nationalist movement that includes anti-Semitic figures and followers. Bannon has denied he is anti-Semitic, and supporters point out that Breitbart is pro-Israel.

Mom, 26, cut in half when elevator reportedly malfunctions in freak accident

A mother who had just given birth to her third daughter was reportedly cut in half at a Spanish hospital Sunday when her stretcher became stuck between floors inside an elevator.

Rocio Cortes Nunez, 26, was being transported between the second and third floors of Our Lady of Valme Hospital in Seville when the incident occurred, according to news.com.au.

“I’m a total wreck,” Nunez’s husband, Jose Gaspar, told ABC Sevilla. “This cannot continue. Today it has been Rocio, but tomorrow it could be another person.”

David Gaspar, Nunez’s brother-in-law, told Europa Press the family was “devastated,” and Nunez’s mom said she only found out her daughter had died when she heard there was an accident at the hospital and approached a staff member.

“I went to the information desk,” Carmen Nunez said. “They told me that a girl had died, and then they confirmed that she was my daughter. What a cruel death she suffered.”

Nunez had given birth to her daughter, Triana, via Caesarean section and was on her way to a maternity ward at the time of the incident, The Sun reported.

Nunez’s stretcher was pushed on to the elevator — which suddenly moved upwards before the stretcher was fully inside, trapping Nunez, whose head was reportedly stuck between the roof and the elevator frame.

Firefighters needed about two hours to reach Nunez’s body, according to local reports.

Aside from Triana, Nunez leaves behind daughters Carmen, 5, and Rocio, 4, The Telegraph reported.

CLICK TO READ MORE FROM NEWS.COM.AU

CLICK TO READ MORE FROM SKY NEWS

Trump’s Lawyers Are Reportedly Irate He Keeps Ignoring Their Advice

Lawyers in the Trump White House are increasingly fuming that their top client cannot be controlled.

In a lengthy Politico piece on the struggles of Trump’s legal team, several White House advisers say Trump’s lawyers are growing exasperated because the president regularly discounts their advice and is instead more prone to take advice from his own family members.

“They say, don’t do this, don’t do that, and he then he tweets,” one White House adviser told Politico. “And then the conversation happens again.”

One issue, Politico’s sources say, is that Trump seems to think that his lawyers have magical powers to make the Russia scandal completely disappear from the news cycle.

“At 35,000-feet view, all the president wants is for it to go away,” one Trump adviser told the publication. “He wants an end to it, even if he does not know exactly how that happens.”

Another problem is that the Trump White House always wants to hit back hard at any media stories about the Russia scandal — despite the fact that the legal team would prefer a more cautious approach that didn’t open up multiple members of the administration to legal liability.

At the end of the day, said one source, there will be chaos and “everyone in there is going to blame it on everyone else.”

Brad Reed is a writer living in Boston. His work has previously appeared in the American Prospect Online, and he blogs frequently at Sadly, No!.