TBR News December 28, 2017

Dec 28 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. December 28, 2017:”This country is run, not by a President and a  Congress but by a loosey-knit oligarchy whose memberships fluctuate and change but whose goals are the same: Profit without Interference. They encourage leadership that understands their needs (a famous bleat of women who want material things from husbands and lovers) and caters to them in return for monies paid. When a nouveau riche person like Zuckerberg who owns the enormous Facebook organization gets into their head that because their employees and restaurant waiters are obsequious to them that they are somehow very important. With their money, they build huge houses complete with buildings for their collection of small liquor bottles, acquire yachts the size of the Titanic and then, always, decicde to go into poilics so that everyone in the country can watch their press conferences and obey their dictums. And if, only if, their actions are in harmony with the wishes of the oligarchs, they can prosper. If they do not, they are considered unwelcome and we read about their decline and fall.”

Table of Contents

  • Alabama officials to certify Jones as Senate winner despite Moore challenge
  • Trump’s New National Security: Literally and Seriously Awful
  • S-400 deal with Russia done for $2.5 bln: Gov’t
  • New York governor questions the constitutionality of federal tax overhaul
  • Death in an Amazon dumpster
  • How the Interrogation of Reality Winner Reveals the Deceptive Tactics of “Exceedingly Friendly” FBI Agents
  • A Guide for State, Local, and Tribal Law Enforcement Agencies
  • Apple faces avalanche of lawsuits over deliberate obsolescence of iPhones
  • How many people die from air or noise pollution?
  • Dirty air resulted in the premature deaths of more than 500,000 people in the European Union in 2014, the European Environment Agency reports.


Alabama officials to certify Jones as Senate winner despite Moore challenge

December 28, 2017


(Reuters) – Alabama’s secretary of state said on Thursday that Democrat Doug Jones would be certified the winner of the state’s U.S. Senate race despite a legal challenge by Republican Roy Moore, whose campaign was derailed by accusations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls.

Jones won the seat, vacated when U.S. President Donald Trump tapped Jeff Sessions as attorney general, by about 20,000 votes, or 1.5 percentage points, election officials said. That made him the first Democrat in a quarter of a century to win a Senate seat in the state.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill was to meet with other members of the state canvassing board, Governor Kay Ivey and Attorney General Steve Marshall, to certify the result.

“Doug Jones will be certified today,” Merrill told CNN in a phone call.

Moore’s challenge alleged there had been potential voter fraud in the Dec. 12 election that denied him a chance of victory. His filing on Wednesday in the Montgomery Circuit Court sought to halt the meeting scheduled to ratify Jones’ win on Thursday.

Moore declined to concede defeat despite being urged by Trump to do so.

Janet Porter, a spokeswoman for Moore’s campaign, said in an interview with CNN that the challenge aimed to ensure that votes were properly counted.

“It’s incumbent on the Alabama secretary of state to make sure,” she said.

Regarding the claim of voter fraud, Merrill said more than 100 cases had been reported. “We’ve adjudicated more than 60 of those. We will continue to do that,” he said.

A day after the election, Merrill had told CNN it was “highly unlikely” that Jones, 63, would not be certified as the winner.

Seating Jones will narrow the Republican majority in the Senate to 51 of 100 seats.

“The election is over, it’s time to move on,” Jones spokesman Sam Coleman said in a statement, calling Moore’s challenge an attempt “to subvert the will of the people.”

Republican lawmakers in Washington had distanced themselves from Moore and called for him to drop out of the race after he was accused by several women of sexual assault or misconduct when they were teenagers and he was in his early 30s.

Moore has denied wrongdoing and Reuters has not been able to independently verify the allegations.

Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver, Katanga Johnson, Letitia Stein in Detroit and Makini Brice in Washington DC. Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli


Trump’s New National Security: Literally and Seriously Awful

December 19, 2017

by A. Trevor Thrall


National security strategies are strange beasts. Their glittering generalities and kitchen sink approach to detailing threats, interests, and priorities can make it difficult to know how literally, or seriously, to take them. All strategies reflect on the importance of American leadership and bask in the warmth of American values. And thanks to the growing bipartisan consensus around primacy since the end of the Cold War all strategies have more or less looked the same. Each one promises a stronger and safer America with help from our trusted allies. Given this, most Americans would be hard pressed to tell one national security strategy from the next.

Sadly, Trump’s 2017 National Security Strategy contains not only the worst elements from the past, namely the pursuit of primacy and a commitment to an endless war on terrorism, but also charts new territory by embracing a new nationalism that unnecessarily elevates immigration to a national security threat and retreats from the post-World War II commitment to free trade.

Though Trump’s penchant for military solutions has always been obvious, the extent to which his new security strategy embraces primacy is disappointing. As a candidate, Trump railed against the war in Iraq and nation building abroad. The national security strategy, however, calls for the United States to “compete with all tools of national power to ensure that regions of the world are not dominated by one power.” The strategy also calls for an expanded – and unending – war on terrorism. In short, Trump intends to commit the United States not only to a globe-straddling military presence and to counterproductive and unending military intervention, but also to risking conflict with nations like China over regional issues that mean very little for American national security.

Unsurprisingly, given the turn to primacy, Trump’s strategy also calls for “rebuilding” America’s military, despite the fact that the United States already possesses the world’s most powerful military, spends more on defense than the next seven nations combined, and enjoys an alliance system that far outstrips those of Russia or China. In the end, any boost in defense spending will only add to the national debt while doing little for American security.

With regard to the economic side of foreign policy, Trump’s abandonment of decades of American support for international free trade regimes signals a dangerous form of economic nationalism. Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, his criticism of NAFTA, and his repeated complaints about the use of unfair trading practices by China, Japan, and other trading partners, make it clear that Trump either does not understand or does not trust the process by which the United States and the rest of the world rebuilt the global economy after World War II. Contrary to Trump’s insistences, however, protectionism and trade wars will do nothing to make America great again.

Finally, Trump’s inclusion of immigration, legal and illegal, as one of the major components of the national security strategy is not only unprecedented, but it smacks of a nativism that identifies threats not based on objective metrics but on cultural differences and vague notions of “us versus them.” None of Trump’s proposed policies, from building a border wall to banning travelers from Muslim-majority nations to extreme vetting or reducing legal immigration, are based on solid evidence about likely harms to Americans. None of these policies will improve national security. Instead, Trump’s strategy is only likely to inflame tensions among races, nations, and religious groups.

Experience with previous national security documents suggests that we should treat Trump’s new strategy more as a guide than as gospel. It’s a safe bet that Trump, even more than most presidents, will deviate from the script as threats arise and opportunities emerge. But to the extent that Trump follows his new playbook, we can expect many of the same problems that have bedeviled U.S. foreign policy for the past sixteen years along with a host of new ones.


S-400 deal with Russia done for $2.5 bln: Gov’t

December 27, 2017


Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said on Dec. 27 that a deal was reached with Russia over the purchase of two S-400 defense missile systems and four batteries, confirming a top Russian representative’s comments.Russia will supply Turkey with four batteries of S-400 surface-to-air missiles for $2.5 billion under a deal that is almost complete, Sergei Chemezov, head of Russian state conglomerate Rostec, told the Kommersant daily on Dec. 27.

Chemezov told Kommersant that Turkey was the first NATO member state to acquire the advanced S-400 missile system.

He said the Russian and Turkish finance ministries had already completed talks on financing the deal and that the final documents just needed to be approved.

Canikli confirmed the report, noting that Ankara would purchase two S-400 systems and four batteries and that all agreements were made, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

He said that the financial aspect of the contracts was the last hurdle that was needed to overcome in meetings between the two countries and all agreements were made.

“Do we use a loan? Or finance the deal by ourselves? In the end we have agreed on covering some part of the deal with credit after negotiations. Other than this, the deal was already finalized,” he told reporters in Tunis.

Turkey will pay 45 percent of the cost up front with Russia providing loans to cover the remaining 55 percent, Chemezov also said.

Moscow expects to begin the first deliveries in March 2020, he also said.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had discussed the deal during Putin’s visit to Ankara early in December.

The agreement to purchase the latest Russian surface-to-air missile defense batteries is Turkey’s most significant deal with a non-NATO military supplier, and comes amid strained relations between Ankara and several Western countries.

S-400 deal with Russia done for $2.5 bln: Gov’tTurkey’s decision to buy the Russian system has raised hostility from NATO members, with the Pentagon saying previously that “generally it’s a good idea” to buy equipment that is interoperable with the military alliance’s other systems.


New York governor questions the constitutionality of federal tax overhaul

December 28, 2017

by Makini Brice and Stephanie Kelly


WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – The new U.S. tax code targets high-tax states and may be unconstitutional, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday, adding that the state is considering overhauling its own tax system in response.

The sweeping Republican tax bill signed into law by U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday introduces a $10,000 cap on deductions of state and local income and property taxes, known as SALT. It was the party’s first major legislative victory since Trump took office in January.

The SALT provision will hit many taxpayers in states with high incomes, high property values and high taxes, like New York, New Jersey and California. Those states are generally Democratic leaning.

“I‘m not even sure what they did is legally constitutional and that’s something we’re looking at now,” Cuomo said in an interview with CNN.

Cuomo and California Governor Jerry Brown, both Democrats, have previously said they were exploring legal challenges to SALT deduction limits.

“You can’t penalize my state because of its political affiliation. There’s never been a double taxation before in the history of the nation,” Cuomo added, although he suggested a legal battle in the court system may prove difficult.

Law professors have said legal challenges would likely rest on arguing that the provision interferes with the protection of states’ rights under the U.S. Constitution.

Some tax attorneys said Cuomo’s legal argument against the tax bill could be that it discriminates and places an unjust tax burden on states that heavily voted for Democrats in the past.

“The de facto effect of this legislation is to discriminate against blue states and particularly from (Cuomo‘s) perspective the state of New York,” said Joseph Callahan, an attorney with the law firm Mackay, Caswell & Callahan in New York.

Cuomo said on Thursday that New York is proposing a restructuring of its tax code.

He had said last week that New York officials are assessing a redesign to the state tax code in response to the federal tax legislation.

On Friday, Cuomo said he would allow state residents to make a partial or full pre-payment on their property tax bill before Jan. 1 to benefit from the disappearing tax advantages, prompting a wave of residents to pay early.

However, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service on Wednesday advised homeowners that the pre-payment of 2018 property taxes may not be deductible.

Reporting by Makini Brice and Stephanie Kelly, additional reporting and writing by Megan Davies; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Meredith Mazzilli


Death in an Amazon dumpster

When his body was found in a dumpster outside an Amazon warehouse, the homeless man’s death was a mystery. The search to uncover his past exposes the dangers of a life spent scavenging

December 28, 2017

by Alistair Gee in San Francisco

The Guardian

The day before last year’s presidential election, a hungry homeless man named Jonathan Manley stopped at a dumpster outside a warehouse in San Francisco. Unmarked on the outside, the building was occupied by Amazon.

For those able to tolerate the grime and the smell, and who have no other choice but to risk eating expired or rotting food, the large dumpsters stationed there can be bountiful. Visitors say they have found ice cream, bananas, strawberries, grapes and frozen pizzas, not to mention cans and packaging that can be sold for pennies at recycling centers.

The lid was too high and too heavy for Manley to flip open from the sidewalk, so he climbed the side, pulled the lid back and dropped into the trash. It was full of things to eat.

“That’s when I noticed him,” Manley said.

At the front, on all fours as if he was struggling to stand up, was a middle-aged man wearing a T-shirt, pants and boots. He had a graying mustache and beard, his hands were caked with dirt and there was blood around his nose.

Manley tried to wake him but could not. He tried to lift him, but the man weighed too much and was too stiff. Poking his head out of the dumpster, Manley saw two passersby walking a dog across the street and yelled for them to call 911. When the paramedics arrived, they determined that the man was beyond resuscitation.

Dumpsters can be life-sustaining for people surviving on the streets. But a Guardian investigation has found that they are also implicated in dozens of homeless deaths.

This has added resonance in San Francisco, where the economy hinges on the noncorporeal – algorithms, the cloud and the flows of venture capital – yet some 4,500 people sleeping outdoors still struggle each night for the basic physical necessities of existence. They subsist in the interstices of the new paradigm, or in some cases off its waste.

Just inside the Amazon warehouse, visitors are confronted by shelves stacked with food, everything from peanut butter to tabasco sauce, Oreos, teabags and jello.

In another room, staff hurriedly prepare bags of shopping. When they are ready, delivery people dispatch this abundance to the inhabitants of San Francisco.

The garbage receptacles outside are not the first tech dumpsters to have attracted the attention of homeless locals. A few years ago, they responded with wonder and bemusement to a dumpster by a nearby Google warehouse.

It “had every kind of food you can imagine”, said a resident named Michael Mundy. “They just threw it away, thousands of dollars’ worth.”

But the warehouse closed down, and people had to look elsewhere. “All of a sudden,” said a woman who only gave her first name, Renee, “they started talking about Amazon”.

For about a week after stumbling on the body, Manley went through the encampments of south-eastern San Francisco, trying to find somebody who was missing someone. Thousands of homeless people die in American cities each year to little fanfare, and the Amazon incident barely made the news. Neither the man’s name nor the occupant of the warehouse appear to have ever been reported.

At an encampment underneath a highway, he came across a woman who had strung up dried flowers around her tent and cultivated succulents. Cheryl Iversen, 49, had riotous, flaming orange hair, a personality to match and, fittingly, went by the name of Tygrr, pronounced “Tiger”. Manley told her what he had discovered, and she felt the burden of not knowing what had happened to Frank Ryan lifted.

“I said ‘thank you’,” she recalled. “He held me when I cried.”

An abusive childhood had led Iversen to run away at 12, and then to exotic dancing, a bad marriage and a heroin addiction. She calls herself a “functional junkie”.

Over a decade ago she met Ryan, whose own origins are unclear. His friends said he was the son of a gold-miner. One suggested he had been sexually abused. He had lived in RVs in the Bay Area since at least the 1990s, making a living by scavenging scrap metal. On occasion he could earn thousands of dollars per haul, with which he subsidized meth and marijuana habits. He was never seen without a jug of milk in his hands and obsessively collected rocks that he hoped were meteorites.

Iversen vividly remembers the day they got together. They were wading by a pier in San Francisco Bay, gathering stones that they could sell and placing them on a plastic float. As the tide rose, they sat on the float, and had to lie down when their heads started to bump on the pier above. He brushed her hair from her cheek and they kissed.

A few days later, Iversen wrote a poem about it that she still remembers by heart.

“He had such a beautiful soul, he was so smart,” she said. “He never once made me feel stupid for not knowing something.”

Although they were not monogamous – Iversen described herself dismissively as a “side-piece” – towards the end Ryan had told her he wanted to settle down with her in a warehouse squat. When she last saw him he said he was going to look for ice cream.

For those so inclined, living out of dumpsters can occasion philosophy. “Almost everything I have now has already been cast out at least once, proving that what I own is valueless to someone,” Lars Eighner wrote in his treatise On Dumpster Diving.

Eighner’s experiences were distinct from those of people who dumpster-dive as a lifestyle choice – he began when he was struggling to pay rent, and the day-to-day realities were brutal. “No matter how careful I am I still get dysentery at least once a month, oftener in warm weather,” he said.

A Guardian review of news reports from the last decade has found at least 50 cases of dumpster-related homeless deaths and serious injuries. In some instances, the dumpster is simply the bleak setting. On Christmas Day last year, a Wichita, Kansas, man was found in a dumpster outside a bakery, and while a preliminary autopsy suggested he died of natural causes, his relatives could not fathom what had prompted him to get inside.

In other examples, it is the act of trash collection itself that is fatal. A man in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was tipped out of a dumpster and then run over by a garbage truck. In Forth Worth, Texas, a screaming man had a heart attack after the dumpster he was inside was picked up. More common are situations in which homeless people, sleeping in dumpsters or sheltering from the elements, are collected by garbage or recycling trucks and compacted along with the trash. This is why ruined bodies sometimes end up at the dump.

In 2003, a woman sued a waste-management company for more than $10m after her brother was suffocated in this way in Portland, Oregon, alleging “reckless and outrageous indifference” to homeless lives.

In an interview, her lawyer, Greg Kafoury, recalled the testimony of a garbage worker, who said that after picking up dumpsters with his truck he shook them in order to wake anyone sleeping inside, and taught his colleagues to do the same. Kafoury also remembers hypothesizing before the jury that, because six people had died in similar circumstances over the course of several years in Oregon, a state with a little over 1% of the US population, as many as 600 could have been killed in the country as a whole.

The lawsuit “was a chance to save untold numbers of lives”, he said – but he lost. “Somebody needs to take one of these cases and go the distance with it because the case can be won.”

On occasion, though, there are survivors.

In November 2016, about two weeks after Ryan climbed into the dumpster, Marcus Baldwin did the same thing in Mount Clemens, just north of Detroit. Alcoholism had led to the breakdown of his marriage and to homelessness. Finally he found a job in demolition, but he still had nowhere to stay, and after work on a cold and wet night a dumpster beckoned. It was filled with cardboard and seemed clean. He fell asleep.

At around 5.30am, he awoke to “this beeping noise”, Baldwin said. “The next thing I knew, I was going up into the air.”

Falling on his head, he was disoriented and in pain, and he had the sensation of having been dropped into a sewer. It was greasy and filled with rotten food, old clothes and construction materials.

He screamed for the driver to no avail. About 15 minutes after Baldwin was picked up, the compacting process began. A contraption that reminded him of a snow shovel began to move along the length of the vehicle and pinned Marcus to an interior wall. “I could just hear my bones breaking,” Baldwin said. “It was just going through my legs like a hot knife through butter.”

Both were shattered. Baldwin thinks he was compacted another five times, every quarter-hour or so. He tried to protect himself with a shopping cart. Eventually the driver noticed him and he was rescued, but owing to a bad infection doctors had to amputate his right leg below the knee.

The life expectancy of homeless people is only around 50; when he died, Ryan was 55 or so. His autopsy report gave the verdict of a methamphetamine overdose. At his wake, his friends poured some of his ashes into the bay along with jugs of milk and some buds of weed. His dog was adopted, and Iversen planted a garden of succulents and cacti near her tent in his memory.

“I’ve never felt so right in my life,” she said of her time with Ryan, “and nothing has been right since. It probably never will be, and what can I expect? Such a big piece of me is gone.”

In a statement, Amazon, which recently announced that it would host a homeless shelter in one of its new buildings in Seattle, called the death a “sad event”.

Surprisingly, considering that Ryan appears to have dropped off the map long ago, the impact of his passing has reverberated far beyond a small homeless community in an obscure part of San Francisco.

In the vicinity of Spokane, Washington, for instance, there lives a 34-year-old who is also called Frank Ryan. He is the late Frank Ryan’s long-lost son.

In the late 1980s, when he was six or seven, he lived with his father, as well as with his father’s new wife and her daughter from a previous relationship.

The younger Ryan remembers little of his father beyond a birthday when he was given a bike and shown how to assemble it. The two Frank Ryans were separated when the son was, as he describes it, spirited away by his mother. “Even if he was looking as hard as he could he probably wouldn’t have been able to find me due to the measures my mother had taken,” Ryan said in an interview recently. “I never harbored any ill will.”

During an itinerant period in the western US with his mother, he said he lived in a van and slept on blankets on the ground and obtained food from churches and food banks. Now he has a young family and works in security for the federal government.

Several months before his father’s death, the older Ryan re-established contact via Facebook, and they made plans to meet for the first time in three decades. These plans were interrupted because Ryan Sr accidentally shot himself in the groin while trying to remove the rust from a discarded handgun, leaving him hobbling and unable to work or pay for travel. He died before the meeting could take place.

“The fact that he was hungry enough to crawl into a dumpster definitely was the hardest part,” the younger Ryan said. It “stirred up” his own experiences of homelessness.

When the younger Ryan was taken away by his mother, he also lost contact with the little girl who was residing with them. Today Danielle Lent, who goes by the name Avalon, is 37 and lives in a town an hour north of San Francisco.

Her memories of her stepsibling are warm, though the relationship between the adults was anything but harmonious. The older Ryan only seemed to care about the drugs he was taking. And one night, she said, he entered Lent’s room and sexually abused her, the first of several occasions.

Lent remembers herself “just staring at the alarm clock, saying ‘when is this going to be over?’” Afterwards her mother did not believe her. Indeed, when the older Ryan became homeless, Lent’s mother took food and money to him. “My mom was so in love with him and he did all these bad things to both of us. I still have night terrors over all of this. I’m on anxiety medication.”

The importance of finding her stepsibling was impressed on Lent by her mother. “On her deathbed she told me, ‘Danielle Marie, I have three wishes,’ and this is the last wish that she asked for.” For Lent herself, the relationship seemed like one of the best things from that time.

At Lent’s request, and with Ryan’s permission, the Guardian put them in touch with one another, and on Christmas Day they spoke for the first time since they were children.

“He said he’s not stopped looking for me,” Lent told a reporter afterwards. “And I never stopped looking for him.”

“It seems more than a coincidence that out of the millions of homeless Americans that you could do a story on, it would be my father,” said Ryan.

The Amazon dumpsters continue to provide.

On a Saturday morning earlier this year, a brown-haired young man wearing a varsity jacket cycled up and climbed inside in full view of passing cars and pedestrians.

At that moment, the gate of the warehouse loading dock rose to reveal a staffer clutching some white trash bags. He moved to throw the bags into the open dumpster when he caught sight of the visitor. They locked eyes.

The employee gently tossed the bags to the dumpster-diver, who opened them. A few minutes later, the homeless man got on to the bike, balanced a few items on the handlebars and unsteadily rode off.


How the Interrogation of Reality Winner Reveals the Deceptive Tactics of “Exceedingly Friendly” FBI Agents

December 28 2017

by Peter Maass

The Intercept

In late January, George Papadopoulos did what a lot of Americans do when FBI agents ask for a few minutes of their time — he agreed to talk. It’s a decision he likely regrets, because in October the former adviser to President Donald Trump’s election campaign pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI. He is now a key figure in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The court files in the Papadopoulos case say little about the conditions of his chat with the two FBI agents. We don’t know how long it lasted, where in Chicago it took place, what its tenor was, or whether Papadopoulos was aware the agents probably knew the answers to most questions they asked. One thing, though, is clear: Papadopoulos engaged in a form of self-harming behavior that defense lawyers always advise against — saying “yes” when a pair of friendly FBI agents knock on your door and ask to chat.

His interrogation was recorded but the transcript has not been released, so it’s impossible to know precisely what the FBI agents might have said that gave Papadopoulos the impression it would be in his interests to talk and to lie. But in another high-profile case, involving former NSA contractor Reality Winner, the government released a transcript of the interrogation. It provides a verbatim example — and a rare example — of how FBI agents ingratiate themselves with unsuspecting suspects and intimidate them into saying things that bring doom upon them.

The interrogations of Winner and Papadopoulos were what the FBI likes to call “noncustodial,” so they were not read their Miranda rights — because, the FBI claims, they were not arrested or detained at the time of the interrogation. (Winner’s lawyers have argued in court filings that she was effectively detained and should have been Mirandized.) By avoiding the obligation to inform suspects of their right to a lawyer and the right to stay silent, the FBI makes it easier to get Americans to say things — whether truths or lies — that will be used against them. The Fifth Amendment protects people from testifying against themselves, of course, and the Sixth Amendment provides the right to legal counsel, but law enforcement authorities get around these constitutional protections by contending that some interrogations are noncustodial. The result is that suspects are enticed into talking before they realize the jeopardy they face and the rights they possess.

“Because warnings are only required prior to custodial interrogation, one way to minimize the impact of Miranda on investigations is to try to conduct interrogations whenever possible in noncustodial settings (such as the suspect’s home or on the street, without arrest-like restraints),” notes an article in Police Magazine, which caters to the law enforcement community. The article bore the headline “How to talk to suspects without Mirandizing.”

There’s a problem with that kind of advice — the presence of law enforcement officers can turn homes and sidewalks into coercive environments, making the distinction between “custodial” and “noncustodial” a murky if not artificial one. The Winner transcript, which was released in September, offers an unusual look inside one of these home interrogations. In its early we’re-on-your-side phase, the interrogation pivoted on Winner’s love of dogs and her CrossFit workouts.

About a dozen FBI agents arrived at Winner’s rented house in Augusta, Georgia, on the afternoon of June 3, as she returned from grocery shopping.

“The reason we’re here today is that we have a search warrant for your house,” one of the agents told her, according to the transcript.

“OK,” she replied.

“All right,” Special Agent Justin Garrick said. “Do you know what this might be about?”

“I have no idea,” Winner replied.

“OK, this is about possible mishandling of classified information.”

“Oh my goodness,” Winner responded.

The agents soft-pedalled the reason for their visit. It can be relatively innocuous, in the eyes of the law, to mishandle classified information — it might not even be a crime, if the information is not too serious and the reasons for mishandling it not too nefarious. But this wasn’t, in the eyes of the FBI, an innocuous case. Garrick, who asked most of the questions, is a specialist in espionage and counterintelligence, according to court documents. The government’s charging documents make clear that at the time of her interrogation, Winner was suspected of what the government was treating (probably cynically) as a very serious offense that jeopardized national security. The interrogation ended with Winner being arrested and charged under the draconian 1917 Espionage Act.

The agents did not mention the Espionage Act while they talked with her. And they did not hint at the possible prison-for-a-decade consequences of what they suspected she had done: mail a classified NSA document to a media outlet. On June 5, the day Winner’s arrest was belatedly announced, The Intercept published a story based on a leaked NSA document detailing Russian attempts at cyberattacks against the U.S. election infrastructure. Though The Intercept has no knowledge of who sent the document, several publications reported that Winner mailed it to The Intercept, which has published a statement about its role in the case.

Her interrogation on June 3 began innocently enough. The first few minutes revolved around making her house safe for agents who would search it, which meant making sure her dog wouldn’t bite anyone, and making sure her guns (she had three) were secured. The conversation then took a decidedly casual turn.

“How long have you had your dog?” Garrick asked.“She’s actually a foster,” Winner replied. “I’m rehabilitating her so hopefully she can get adopted later on.”

“How old is she?”

“Oh, we don’t really know. She’s one of those.”

“Yeah,” Garrick said. “One of my dogs was a rescue and when I got him … I was the only guy who could touch him.” He later added, “If you can tell, we’re all dog people.”

Garrick mentioned that his dog urinated “all over the place” at the outset, but eventually got used to its new home and started licking all visitors. Winner replied that her dog had been kept in a kennel and neglected her whole life. As they chatted, the other FBI agent, Wallace Taylor, offered to put her groceries into her refrigerator.

The conversation turned to her service in the Air Force. Once more, the agents employed convivial banter. When Winner mentioned that she was stuck for four years in a Maryland posting, one of the FBI agents said, “I can beat you. You know where my first Air Force assignment was?”

“What?” Winner asked.

“Minot, North Dakota.”

They made jokes about the cold weather — the transcript is interspersed with parenthetical descriptions of laughter — and then Garrick spoke about one of his FBI postings.

“I was seven years in D.C., and that was about six and a half too long,” he cracked.

“Oh yeah, D.C.,” Winner said.

“They keep asking if I want to go up there,” Garrick said. “I’m like, ‘Uh, no. No. No thank you.’ I’m done with that.”

Garrick inquired about her CrossFit workout routine.

“I did it for like six months, and I hurt myself,” Garrick offered. “Just every single day was pain.”

The transcript of their CrossFit conversation goes on for more than two pages, with idle chat about box jumps and stress fractures and bench pressing (“So power lifting … what’s your favorite stuff?”). It’s a classic tactic of softening up a target, creating a false sense that the agents are your friends rather than, as often turns out to be the case, soon-to-be witnesses against you in court.

“You’re trying to get information from somebody, so being confrontational, bellicose, threatening — for the most part is counterproductive,” notes Jeffrey Danik, a retired FBI agent who spent nearly three decades investigating white-collar crimes, violent crimes, and terrorism. “You can’t let them start thinking that this is some kind of confrontational, confinement-ending interview.” That goes for all types of suspects, he said, whether a bank teller who purloined $100, or a serial rapist with a dozen victims. “It’s how 99 percent of them go,” Danik told me. In an email, he added, “When they are friendly, which they usually are, it really defuses people’s anxiety.”

The feigned friendliness of FBI agents is not just a matter of getting people to loosen up. One of the government’s briefs in the Winner case argues that by being “exceedingly friendly” and always keeping their voices at a “conversational level” and carrying “no visible weapons,” the agents acted in a way that created a noncustodial environment. It’s a law enforcement twofer: By acting polite, law enforcement agents persuade people to talk and lift from themselves the obligation to inform people of their right not to talk. In a way, FBI interrogations are akin to con games, with the mark played by ordinary citizens whose interests are not actually served by chatting with law enforcement agents pretending they’d just like to clear up a minor misunderstanding.

“Good interviewers have an instinct to find some connection with the person you are interviewing and try to make them comfortable,” said Mike German, a retired FBI agent who is now a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice. “You want to have the person you’re interviewing in a cooperative mood. People tend to cooperate with people they have some positive feeling for. The ability to make a personal connection in a short period of time is a valuable talent.”

Much of the time, it’s a strategy devised in advance by agents who know what topics will appeal to the suspect they are trying to loosen up.

“The advantage for an FBI investigator is that you have a tremendous amount of information available to you, much more than the person you’re talking to,” German said. “I’m sure they knew a tremendous amount about her and what those areas of commonality were.” He added, “A good interviewer is an interviewer who has done his homework.”

The tactic of disarming a suspect during a “noncustodial” interrogation was used in another prominent leak case a few years ago. In 2015, I wrote about the interrogation and imprisonment of Stephen Kim, a State Department official who was accused of talking about a classified report on North Korea with a journalist from Fox News. Kim told me that the FBI agents were friendly when they arrived at his State Department office. In his job as a North Korea analyst, he had lots of contact with intelligence and law enforcement officials, so the visit wasn’t unusual. “It wasn’t like suddenly they came in and, boom, laid it on me,” Kim explained. “They did not say, ‘We are investigating a leak.’ They did not say, ‘We are investigating you.’ … I didn’t know why they were there.”

Kim had met and talked with James Rosen, the Fox reporter, but he lied to the FBI agents when they finally got around to asking about it. The agents did not indicate they knew of the contacts, so Kim thought he could get away with a fib — why draw attention to what he thought was an everyday infraction that the agents didn’t appear to be aware of? It was a mistake. Kim would later be charged not only with a violation of the Espionage Act, but also with lying to the FBI. The lawyer Kim hired once he realized he was in trouble, Abbe Lowell, was distressingly familiar with the FBI’s tactics of using noncustodial interrogations to get people to say things that no lawyer would let them say.

“He was asked questions that were, for all intents and purposes, a setup,” Lowell told me for the 2015 story. “The government already knew that Stephen had had a conversation with the media. They already knew that he had had access to the information that they believed to have been classified. They were basically setting him up.”

Lowell, a high-profile attorney in Washington who now represents Jared Kushner, mentioned an old adage about criminal defense attorneys. “Many of them have a fish that they mount on the wall,” he said. “These lawyers put a plaque under the fish, and in words or effect that plaque will say, ‘If I hadn’t opened my mouth, I wouldn’t be hanging here today.’”

When I mentioned this to German, the former FBI agent, he told me about the “five words” motto he learned when he worked cases against neo-Nazis. Members of the neo-Nazi movement were instructed by their leaders to only say five words to law enforcement: “I have nothing to say.” They rarely followed the instruction, however.

“They all had plenty to say,” German said. “I think it’s just human nature to feel like you can talk your way out of it or minimize your conduct in a way that can help you. What any lawyer will tell you is, ‘No you can’t. There’s nothing positive you can do for yourself in that interaction, and in fact, that’s why you need to get legal representation before talking with law enforcement.’”

It might seem there is no harm done when FBI agents persuade or cajole people to confess to crimes. But there is a long record of law enforcement officers coaxing false confessions out of people. A study of exonerations in the United States between 1989 and 2004 found that 15 percent of the people who were exonerated had confessed to crimes they did not actually commit. And there is an equally long and disreputable record of the government incarcerating people for a far longer time than their confessions would justify.

The exact methods of the FBI’s preliminary interrogations are somewhat mysterious, because the bureau’s agents are not required to record them. In the Obama era, the Department of Justice issued a  new policy that required agents to record custodial interrogations, and transcripts of them have been introduced as evidence, but the guidelines do not cover noncustodial questioning. The combination of recording one and releasing the transcript, as was done in the Winner case, is extremely unusual, according to the FBI agents I talked with.

The transcript of Winner’s interrogation reveals the hot-cold nature of these conversations. After the relationship-enhancing questions about her workout routine, the agents got around to her job as an NSA contractor in Augusta. They asked whether she would access a document she didn’t need to access for her job. She said she wouldn’t.

“OK,” Agent Garrick said. “Reality, what if I said that I have the information to suggest that you did print out stuff that was outside of that scope?”

“OK,” Winner replied. “I would have to try to remember.”

“Reality,” the other FBI agent said, “you know, we obviously know a lot more than what we’re telling you at this point. And I think you know a lot more than what you’re telling us at this point. I don’t want you to go down the wrong road. I think you need to stop and think about what you’re saying and what you’re doing. You know, I think it’s an opportunity to maybe tell the truth. Because telling a lie to an FBI agent is not going to be the right thing.”

Winner then said she had printed a document, but put it in her office’s “burn bag,” where classified material is placed to be securely destroyed.

“OK,” Garrick replied. “What if I tell you that that document, folded in half, made its way outside of NSA? It made its way out in an envelope, postmarked Augusta, Georgia. See, things are starting to get a little specific.”

Winner was cornered, literally. The agents were interrogating her in a small room at the back of her house and were blocking the exit, according to a statement Winner made to the court in late August (the government claims the exit was not blocked). She did not feel free to leave the room or stop the interrogation. The scenario — of being apparently trapped — is familiar to Kim, who eventually pleaded guilty and served 11 months in prison. Kim told me that he was disoriented during his interrogations. He had never been the target of an investigation and didn’t know what to do — he didn’t realize, for instance, that he should stop the questioning and ask for a lawyer. His experience, and Winner’s, demonstrate how a coercive environment can be created without handcuffs or prison bars.

“It was surreal,” Kim told me. “What are you supposed to feel? You don’t feel anything. You’re dumbfounded. Have you ever been hit really hard, like playing sports, or you ran into a pole, or somebody hit you? At first you don’t know what hit you. You’re kind of stunned. … I didn’t know what was happening.”

Winner, in her August 29 statement, was even more direct.

“During the entirety of my encounter with law enforcement on June 3, 2017,” she stated, “I was never told I was free to leave and, in fact, given the circumstances, I never felt free to terminate the interrogation or leave my home.”

The transcript shows the agents, as they coaxed Winner into purportedly confessing a crime, suggesting that the matter wasn’t all that serious.  “I don’t think you make it a habit,” Garrick told her, referring to leaking documents. “You just messed up.” Taylor downplayed it further. “What we both think is that maybe you made a mistake,” he said. “Maybe you weren’t thinking for a minute. Maybe you got angry. … If that’s the case, then that makes us feel a little better, knowing that we don’t have a real serious problem here.”

As the government’s filings in the case make clear, however, they are contending that Winner knew she could cause “exceptionally grave damage” to national security by leaking the classified document. Winner’s lawyers have noted that the government’s contention is dubious because so much of what is classified is actually innocuous and should not be classified in the first place; it appears the government is cynically exaggerating the potential impact of Winner’s alleged crime, to make an example out of her and intimidate other would-be leakers. Once Winner was arrested, the government even argued against her being released on bail, because she might flee the country and spill more secrets. “The defendant has shown an aptitude for deception and concealment, and she has the capacity to cause further harm to U.S. national security if released,” the prosecution argued, so far successfully.

Contrary to what the FBI told Winner, she was facing an enormous amount of trouble. The irony and unfairness is that FBI agents are not prosecuted for making false or misleading statements to the unaware citizens they interrogate.


A Guide for State, Local, and Tribal Law Enforcement Agencies

This project was supported by Cooperative Agreement #2003-CK-WX-0455 by the U.S. Department of Justice

Understanding Contemporary Law Enforcement Intelligence:

Concept and Definition

In the purest sense, intelligence is the product of an analytic process that evaluates information collected from diverse sources, integrates the relevant information into a cohesivepackage, and produces a conclusion or estimate about acriminal phenomenon by using the scientific approach to problem solving (i.e., analysis). Intelligence, therefore, is asynergistic product intended to provide meaningful andtrustworthy direction to law enforcement decision makers about complex criminality, criminal enterprises, criminal

extremists, and terrorists..8 Law Enforcement Intelligence: A Guide for State, Local, and Tribal Law Enforcement Agencies

There are essentially two broad purposes for an intelligence function within a law enforcement agency:

Prevention. Includes gaining or developing information related to threats of terrorism or crime and using this information to apprehend offenders, harden targets, and use strategies that will eliminate or mitigate the threat. This is known as tactical intelligence.

Planning a and R Resource A Allocation. The intelligence function provides information to decision makers about the changing nature of threats,the characteristics and methodologies of threats, and emerging threat idiosyncrasies for the purpose of developing response strategies and reallocating resources, as necessary, to accomplish effective prevention. This is known as strategic intelligence.

While investigation is clearly part of the information collection process, the intelligence function is often more exploratory and more broadly focused than a criminal investigation, per se. For example, a law enforcement agency may have a reasonable suspicion to believe that a person or group of people have the intent, capacity, and resolve to commit a crime or terrorist act. Evidence, however, may fall short of the probable cause standard, even for an arrest of criminal attempt or conspiracy.

Moreover, there may be a compelling community safety reason to keep an enquiry open to identify other criminal offenders – notably leaders – and weapons that may be used.

Because of this broader role, the need to keep information secure and the necessity of keeping records on individuals for whom evidence of criminal involvement is uncertain or tangential, rigid guidelines must be followed.

These guidelines are designed to protect the constitutional rights of citizens while at the same time permitting law enforcement agencies to proceed with an inquiry for purposes of community safety. The guidelines are also designed to facilitate accurate and secure information sharing between law enforcement agencies because the nature of terrorism and criminal enterprise threats are inherently multijurisdictional. Further, if law enforcement agencies at all strata of government subscribe to the same guidelines, information sharing can be more widespread because there is surety that regardless of with whom the information is shared, the security and integrity of the records will remain intact.

“Investigation” is defined as the pursuit of information based on leads and evidence associated with a particularly defined criminal act to identify and apprehend criminal offenders for prosecution in  a criminal trial.

“Information collection” in the context of law enforcement intelligence is the capture of information based on a reasonable suspicion of criminal involvement for usin developing criminal cases, identifying crime trends, and protecting the community by  means of intervention, apprehension, and/or target hardening.

This includes information that would be in the intelligence

“Temporary File” as well as “Non-Criminal Identifying Information” as defined in 28 CFR Part 23..9

Defining Intelligence

Definitions become problematic because of context, tradition, and the different use of language by specialists, generalists, and lay persons. This guide uses definitions based on generally accepted practice and standards by the law enforcement intelligence community at the local, state, and tribal levels. This does not mean that other definitions of terms are wrong, but provides a common understanding of words and concepts as most applicable to the targeted audience of this guide.

Before defining intelligence, it is essential to understand the meaning of “information” in the context of this process. Information may defined as “pieces of raw, unanalyzed data that identifies persons, evidence, events, or illustrates processes that indicate the incidence of a criminal event or witnesses or evidence of a criminal event.”

As will be seen, information is collected as the currency that produces intelligence.

The phrase “law enforcement intelligence,” used synonymously with “criminal intelligence,” is frequently found in conjunction with discussions of the police role in homeland security. In most cases, the term is used improperly. Too often, intelligence is erroneously viewed as pieces of information about people, places, or events that can be used to provide insight about criminality or crime threats. It is further complicated by the failure to distinguish between law enforcement intelligence and national security intelligence.

Pieces of information gathered from diverse sources, for example, wiretaps, informants, banking records, or surveillance (see Figure 1-1), are simply raw data which frequently have limited inherent meaning.

Intelligence is when a wide array of raw information is assessed for validity


Apple faces avalanche of lawsuits over deliberate obsolescence of iPhones

December 28, 2017


It seems 2018 will become the year of legal battles for Apple as more customers are filing suits against the corporation after it admitted to slowing down older iPhones to make them obsolete faster.

A group of activists from France is the latest to sue Apple over the issue, The Locals reports. The case could see the company’s top managers jailed and cost it five percent of its income if it is convicted of deliberate aging of the devices.

“Apple has put in place a global strategy of programmed obsolescence to boost its sales,” the group said in a statement.

The lawsuit by Halte à l’Obsolescence Programmée (HOP), an environmental association, was filed in the Paris prosecutor’s office on Wednesday. The case will be heard in a criminal court if prosecutors decide it is legitimate. The maximum penalty for senior managers is a prison sentence of two years, a fine of up to €300,000, and five percent of the company’s annual turnover.

At the same time, South Korean law firm Hannuri announced plans to recruit plaintiffs through its website for two weeks and file a class-action suit against Apple to seek compensation over the same issue. This could reportedly become the first class-action suit against the corporation in Asia.

Because Apple made users upgrade their phones without informing them of the side effects, it deceived consumers and violated consumer protection law,” said Cho Gye Chang, an attorney who represents the complainants at Hannuri, as quoted by the Straits Times.

Another law firm Hwimyoung has already united nearly 20 complainants and is getting ready to go to court. The lawyers are planning to sue Apple Korea for damages in early January in Seoul Central District Court.

The wave of legal cases followed Apple’s announcement that it slowed down iPhones as they got older. Apple said it has algorithms in place to help keep an iPhone running at optimal performance if there is an older battery inside that can’t keep up with the required power. The measure was aimed at preventing devices from unexpected shutdowns and keeping them running at their best.

The corporation also faces more than nine lawsuits in the US, including a trillion dollar suit in California, and a $125 million class-action suit filed in Israel.


How many people die from air or noise pollution?

Recent studies say a number of people have been killed by air pollutants or even noise. Epidemiologists say such figures can be used to calculate environmental risks, but statisticians object.

December 28, 2017

by Fabian Schmidt


When DW published an article recently saying that “one out of four people die as a course of environmental pollution,” the German statistical watchdog organization “Unstatistik” declared the piece to be the “non-statistic of the month.” (“Unstatistik des Monats”).

So what did DW do to deserve this renowned negative prize? The author had quoted an epidemiological study, based on data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Environmental Project (UNEP), which attempted to assign a specific rate of deaths to factors of environmental pollution.

And since it was not by any stretch the only recent epidemiological study which attributed a given number of early deaths to pollution issues, we asked Professor Norbert Krämer, who teaches statistics at the University of Dortmund and is one of the people behind the “Unstatistik,” to explain to us what’s wrong with this overall method.

We all have to die, eventually

“There are too many possible sources of error in it,” he says. “It is totally undefined, what a death caused by environmental factors is.” In the case of the WHO data, he argues, it could include people who drown in a lake or fall from a ladder. “All such causes of death could be avoided by more environment-conscious or careful behavior.”

In the interview, he also gave several examples of similar studies in which scientists mistook correlations for causality or in which control groups were not representative, leading to completely false results.

More important to him is an underlying statistical fault he finds in the method: “The total number of people who die says nothing about the gravity of the risks involved.” The reason is trivial: Everybody will die, eventually.

To illustrate his argument, he points out that cancer rates worldwide are the highest in the countries with the highest life expectancy: Japan and Iceland. The reason that many people there get cancer has nothing to do with environmental factors, but rather the high average age. People simply didn’t die of other illnesses beforehand, so cancer, therefore, becomes a positive indicator of how healthy people really are.

‘Lost quality life years’ rather than ‘deaths’

“It is not serious to use a figure for ‘cases of death’ as an indicator to quantify environmental risks,” Krämer stresses.

Rather than calculating such a theoretical statistic, he suggests using another measurement: “quality adjusted life years.” That number, he argues, could be put into perspective: “One can much better look at different risks, compare them and make an assessment, which of them should be tackled first.”

Someone who disagrees with Krämer is medical Professor Eberhard Greiser  from Bremen. He argues that while using “life years” as an indicator is legitimate, it does not disqualify the other approach of calculating the number of deaths caused by something.

As an epidemiologist, Greiser has published two studies on behalf of the German environmental protection agency Umweltbundesamt (UBA): on airplane-noise-pollution around Frankfurt airport and Cologne-Bonn airport. His studies concluded that there are roughly 340 deaths around Frankfurt and 60 around Cologne-Bonn every year because of noise pollution.

Saving the reputation for epidemiology

Greiser and Krämer are not on good speaking terms, however. Krämer told DW that “Greiser does certainly not belong to the serious scientists,” while Greiser countered that “Krämer has arguments, but no clue about epidemiology.”

Greiser used public health insurance data and detailed records about noise pollution from planes, trains and streets in individual residential neighborhoods to come to his conclusions. He stresses the importance of having a representative control group in a quieter neighborhood with otherwise very similar social structure, income level, number of cars, unemployment and other indicators for social strata.

“We found increased risks in our study of the Cologne-Bonn area for all cardiovascular diseases, dementia, chronical kidney failure and psychological diseases,” Greiser told DW.

Because it is impossible to pinpoint an individual cardiac arrest to the airport noise, Greiser calculates statistical fluctuation to determine the amount of medical cases that are outside a normal corridor of confidence. From a regional cardiac register he then uses data to determine how many patients died within ten 10 years of their first cardiac arrest.

“This is a standard method in epidemiology, and only someone who does not understand anything about epidemiology can claim that it is unserious,” Greiser says.

The debate between the two schools of thought is clearly far from over. Your DW journalists at the science desk will take it as a lesson to keep reporting interesting statistical research and epidemiological studies in an unbiased way and with a critical eye for potentially problematic details.

Air pollution kills half a million people in Europe, EU agency reports


Dirty air resulted in the premature deaths of more than 500,000 people in the European Union in 2014, the European Environment Agency reports.

Pollution needs to be reduced, agency heads and environmentalists agree.

December 10, 2017

by Sonya Angelica Diehn


In 41 European countries, 534,471 premature deaths in 2014 can be linked to air pollution, the European Environment Agency (EEA) reported. Within the 28 countries of the European Union, that figure is 502,351.

Germany saw the highest number of deaths attributable to all air pollution sources, at 80,767. It was followed by the United Kingdom (64,351) and France (63,798). These are also the most populated countries in Europe.

“As a society, we should not accept the cost of air pollution,” EEA Executive director Hans Bruyninckx said in a statement.

Transport, agriculture, power plants, industry and households are the biggest emitters in Europe, the agency said.

Investing in cleaner transport, energy and agriculture can help tackle this problem, Bruyninckx continued.

Despite these deaths, air quality in Europe has gradually improved, the EEA also pointed out.

Fine particulates most deadly

The EEA based its numbers on measurements of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and smog (O3).

According to the report, fine particulate matter alone accounted for around 428,000 of these premature deaths in all of Europe (399,000 in the EU).

Particulate matter is largely generated by vehicular traffic, but also comes from agriculture, energy production, industry and heating.

NO2 is a pollutant that can primarily be traced back to diesel fuel combustion. European cities such as Stuttgart have struggled with nitrogen dioxide emissions repeatedly exceeding permitted limits.

Ground-level smog or ozone (O3) is produced when sunlight reacts with nitrogen oxides and a volatile organic compound in the atmosphere. Nitrogen oxides (NOx) come from car exhaust, coal power plants, and factory emissions.

NOx, which also include nitrogen dioxide, are the pollutants at the center of the Dieselgate scandal, where numerous automakers were shown to have manipulated sensors to indicate fewer emissions in testing than cars actually produced on the road.

Further action required

“The European Commission is committed to tackling this and help member states make sure that the quality of their citizens’ air is of the highest standard,” Karmenu Vella, EU commissioner for the environment, said in a statement.

Jürgen Resch, head of Environmental Action Germany (Deutsche Umwelthilfe), pointed the finger at the auto industry and politicians – including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“The frightfully high proportion of premature deaths through poisonous diesel emissions is a result of the criminal practice of auto manufacturers,” Resch said in a statement, referring to Dieselgate.

Environmental Action Germany reiterated its call for a ban on diesel vehicles.

The EEA report also placed special emphasis on greenhouse gases, pointing out that agriculture is a major source of this and other air pollutants.

The figures were released Wednesday in the agency’s 2017 report on air quality in Europe.

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