Tuesday Reads: NASA Goes to Jupiter and Other News

Juno spacecraft

Juno spacecraft

Good Afternoon!!

Lots of breaking news this morning. FBI Director James Comey just held a press conference to announce that the FBI will not be recommending criminal charges against Hillary Clinton for her handling of State Department emails. NBC News reports:

“No reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” Comey told reporters.

Federal investigators did not find evidence of intentional wrongdoing, he said — but there is evidence the former secretary of state and her staff were “extremely careless.”

Comey said 110 emails sent or received on the Clinton server contained classified information. He also said it’s possible “hostile actors” gained access to the server.

So there’s still plenty of fodder for the Clinton haters and conspiracy theorists to scream out. Meanwhile, Wikileaks released a more than 1,200 of Clinton’s emails. The Independent:

The website tweeted a link to 1,258 emails on Monday that Clinton sent during her time as secretary of state. According to the release, the emails were obtained from the US State Department after they issued a Freedom of Information Act request. The emails stem from a State Department release back in February, The Hill reports.

And from NY Magazine:

If you have some hours to kill, you could do worse than a deep dive into the Clinton emails released by WikiLeaks yesterday. The site went through the emails released earlier in the year by the State Department looking for any mentions of the Iraq War. The 1,258 emails show mostly that people at the State Department are just like us, namely in that they spend their days sending their colleagues links to things they read online.

It doesn’t sound all that exciting, but Julian Assange thinks Clinton should be prosecuted. This from the guy who ran from a rape charge.

Watch Comey’s press conference:

 

There’s been another terrorist attack, this time in Saudi Arabia. Reuters: U.N. rights boss calls bombing near Saudi holy mosque an attack on Islam.

The U.N. human rights chief on Tuesday called a suicide bombing outside the Prophet Mohammad’s Mosque in the Saudi city of Medina an attack on Islam itself and many Muslims expressed shock that their second-holiest site had been targeted.

Three apparently coordinated suicide attacks on Monday targeted Medina, the U.S. consulate in Jeddah and the largely Shi’ite Muslim city of Qatif on Monday. At least four security officers were killed.

No group has claimed responsibility but Islamic State has carried out similar bombings in the U.S.-allied kingdom in the past year, targeting Shi’ites and Saudi security forces.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and a member of the Jordanian royal family, delivered his remarks via a spokesman in Geneva.

“This is one of the holiest sites in Islam, and for such an attack to take place there, during Ramadan, can be considered a direct attack on Muslims all across the world,” he said, referring to the Islamic holy month.

“It is an attack on the religion itself.”

Militant attacks on Medina are unprecedented. The city is home to the second-holiest site in Islam, a mosque built by the Prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam, which also houses his tomb.

NBC News: ISIS Fulfills Promise of Deadly Ramadan as Holy Month Comes to an End.

With Ramadan drawing to a close on Tuesday, ISIS has fulfilled its promise of staining the Muslim holy month with bloodshed around the globe—taking credit for some of the deadly attacks that have killed hundreds in several countries, including in Iraq, Kuwait, Bangladesh, Turkey, Saudi Arabia.

The terrorist group vowed in May, just before Ramadan began, to make it “with God’s permission, a month of pain for infidels everywhere.” And that it was, with many countries remaining on high alert following the attacks.

The past few days have been particularly violent. Suicide bombs rocked two Saudi Arabian cities on Monday, killing at least four security officers, wounding five other people — and coming just hours after authorities in a third city stopped a bomber just feet from the U.S. Consulate.

On the attacks in Saudi Arabia:

In Saudi Arabia, the attacks began Sunday night, when a suicide bomber was stopped by security personnel in a hospital parking lot about 30 feet from the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah.

The bomber detonated an explosive belt, killing himself and “slightly” injuring two officers, the Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement. No Americans were hurt and all State Department personnel were accounted for.

Hours later, on the other side of the country, a pair of suicide bombers attacked the Persian Gulf city of Qatif, a Ministry of Interior source confirmed to NBC News. Details of casualties in the largely minority Shi’ite city were not immediately available.

Shortly after that, four security officers were killed — as well as a suicide bomber — near the security headquarters of the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, a site considered to be the second holiest in Islam.

The attack occurred in a parking lot outside the mosque, during Maghreb prayers, when the bomber pretended to break the Ramadan fast with a group of security personnel, al Arabiya reported.

 

Now for some positive–even thrilling–news. NASA’s Juno spacecraft is now orbiting Jupiter! CNN:

Jet Propulsion Lab, California (CNN)NASA says it has received a signal from 540 million miles across the solar system, confirming its Juno spacecraft has successfully started orbiting Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system.

Welcome to Jupiter!” flashed on screens at mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California.

The Juno team cheered and hugged. “This is phenomenal,” said Geoff Yoder, acting administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate….

The probe had to conduct a tricky maneuver to slow down enough to allow it to be pulled into orbit: It fired its main engine for 35 minutes, effectively hitting the brakes to slow the spacecraft by about 1,212 miles per hour (542 meters per second).

Juno was launched nearly five years ago on a mission to study Jupiter’s composition and evolution. It’s the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter since Galileo. Galileo was deliberately crashed into Jupiter on September 21, 2003, to protect one of its discoveries — a possible ocean beneath Jupiter’s moon Europa.

More from Spaceflight Now:

A 1/5th size scale model of NASA's Juno spacecraft is displayed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, July 4, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn BECK

A 1/5th size scale model of NASA’s Juno spacecraft is displayed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, July 4, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn BECK

Setting up post at the king of planets, NASA’s Juno spacecraft fired its main engine for 35 minutes Monday, steering into orbit around Jupiter to peer inside the gas giant and give scientists a better idea of how the solar system took shape 4.6 billion years ago.

Spinning on its axis once every 12 seconds, the probe’s British-built rocket thruster ignited and slowed down Juno just enough to be snared by Jupiter’s strong gravity field into a looping, 53-day-long orbit.

Confirmation of the burn’s successful conclusion reached Earth at 11:53 p.m. EDT (0353 GMT) via a radio tone broadcast by Juno, prompting applause and smiles inside the control room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“All stations… we have the tone for burn cutoff on delta-v,” a ground controller said over a radio loop. “Welcome to Jupiter.”

Powered by three solar panels arranged in a propeller-like pattern around Juno’s main body, the Jupiter orbiter wrapped up a five-year, 1.7-billion-mile (2.8-billion-kilometer) trip with Monday’s automated rendezvous with the solar system’s biggest planet.

“Tonight, through tones, Juno sang to us, and it was a song of perfection,” said Rick Nybakken, Juno’s project manager at JPL. “After a 1.7-billion-mile journey, we hit our burn target within one second.”

The record-setting journey made Juno the farthest spacecraft from the sun to ever rely on solar power, and Monday’s maneuver made the $1.1 billion mission the second to ever orbit Jupiter.

Read more about it at the link.

Hillary will be campaigning with President Obama this afternoon–that should also be exciting. Politico: Obama and Clinton rally against Trump.

When Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama publicly reconciled eight years ago at a celebrated summer rally in Unity, New Hampshire, the two recent rivals were still closer to being opponents than friends.

While both candidates were set on healing the Democratic Party after a divisive primary, the lead-up to the event was fraught. Did their show of warmth — a kiss on the tarmac in Washington, D.C., as they boarded a chartered plane together — appear genuine? Would their praise for each other — “she rocks,” gushed Obama, seeking to win over her supporters — seem too forced?

When President Obama takes the stage at the Charlotte Convention Center with Clinton on Tuesday afternoon for their first joint rally of the 2016 campaign, it will be most notable for how far the two leaders of the Democratic Party have come in the eight intervening years.

“It is as far from fraught as can be,” said Obama’s former chief strategist, David Axelrod, of Obama’s long-anticipated campaign trail debut. “He’s been chomping at the bit to get out there. There’s so many reasons why he feels strongly about this — part of it is his genuine respect for her, part of it is his feelings about the alternative. There’s no half-hearted warrior here.”

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton confidant, said of Tuesday’s rally that unlike eight years ago, “they have such a great relationship that there’s nothing to psychoanalyze. He wants to do everything he can for her.”

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I can’t wait to watch them together on stage. On Friday Hillary will campaign with Joe Biden in his birthplace, Scranton, PA.

Here’s something else to look forward to. Buzzfeed is going to be working “a new beat” that will involve countering fake news and viral lies. First Draft News: How BuzzFeed wants to use its social media acumen to take on the hoaxers.

BuzzFeed Canada editor and First Draft Coalition member Craig Silverman will be leading the charge from Toronto, “bringing his deep expertise at debunking hoaxes to our reporting arsenal,” said Scott Lamb, BuzzFeed’s head of international growth, “and acting as a resource for all BuzzFeed editions, as well as a watchdog on behalf of our readers worldwide.”

“We’re in a really early phase of testing” Silverman told First Draft, “and seeing what’s going to work in terms of content produced and what works for the BuzzFeed audience.”

Almost every other story in the last month from Silverman, who founded the (currently dormant) rumour-tracking project Emergent, has been a debunk of one kind or another.Quick stories which set the record straight, in-depth investigations into the phenomenon of misinformation and weekly quizzes of the latest fake news to go viral have all been testing grounds to see what resonates with readers.

The biggest challenge for BuzzFeed – and for fact-checkers and debunkers the world over – will be in figuring out a way to make debunks travel as far and fast as the false rumours they address.

Read more at the link.

I haven’t heard anything about Bernie Sanders for days. I’ve been ignoring him, but he also seems to have dropped out of the news. But he’s still getting Secret Service protection. CNN: Sanders’ campaign is over, yet Secret Service motorcade roars on.

Bernie Sanders is back to his old day job, trading the booming applause of his campaign rallies to the far more tedious work of the Senate….But just off the Senate floor and across the Capitol, one vestige of his presidential campaign remains: his Secret Service detail. And taxpayers are footing the bill.

Protecting a presidential candidate costs about $40,000 a day, a federal official familiar with the Homeland Security budget told CNN. For Sanders, that’s more than a half-million dollars since the last primary on June 14. The cost could grow by nearly $2 million if he stays in the race through the Democratic convention in Philadelphia later.

The federal official said it’s difficult to tally exact costs, since some agents are working on other projects simultaneously, but the overall amount spent on Sanders is far higher when calculating the weeks of protection he received after the nomination was effectively out of his reach, as Hillary Clinton surpassed him in the delegate count.

Sanders waved off questions on the matter.

Maybe he’ll keep right on campaigning through November 8. Nothing would surprise me at this point.
What else is happening? What stories are you following today?

Lazy Saturday Reads: Eghazi!!

Hillary laughing

Happy Saturday!!

Has any other presidential candidate in history had to fight the corporate media in addition to attacks from the other party and her opponents for the nomination to the extent that Hillary has to? I don’t think so. In just two days, Iowans will head to the caucuses. What “bombshells” will the media find to hype against Hillary before Monday night?

Today it’s “Eghazi” once again. Yesterday, the State Department announced that some of Clinton’s emails have been retroactively deemed to be “top secret.” The emails were not sent by Hillary from her private email server. They were sent to her by other people using the State Departments unclassified email server, because the information was not classified at the time.

Unfortunately, someone in the “intelligence community”–presumably GOP partisan(s)–told the State Department they cannot release these emails, so now the Hillary haters can speculate to their hearts’ content. Some of these withheld emails were exchanges between then Secretary of State Clinton and President Barack Obama! But you know, “Benghazi!!” Eghazi!!

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I’ll post just one corporate media article about this from eminent Clinton hater and Washington Post columnist Chris Cillizza: Hillary Clinton’s email defense just hit a major bump in the road. Seriously? Oh, and the article is accompanied by an unflattering photo of Hillary frowning.

For months, Hillary Clinton and her presidential campaign have stuck to a consistent story line when faced with allegations of classified information on the private server she used exclusively as secretary of state: She was the victim of an overzealous intelligence community bent on categorizing information as top secret or classified when it was, in fact, neither.

That defense hit a major snag on Friday when the State Department announced that it, too, had found “top secret” information on Clinton’s server — 22 emails across seven separate emails chains. The information, the State Department said, was so secret that those emails would never be released to the public.

Suddenly Clinton’s narrative of an overly aggressive intelligence community or a broader squabble between the intelligence world and the State Department didn’t hold water. Or at least held a whole lot less water than it did prior to Friday afternoon.

The Clinton team quickly pivoted. “After a process that has been dominated by bureaucratic infighting that has too often played out in public view, the loudest and leakiest participants in this interagency dispute have now prevailed in blocking any release of these emails,” said campaign spokesman Brian Fallon.

Calling for the release of the allegedly top secret emails is a smart gambit by the Clinton folks since it makes them look as if they have nothing to hide while being protected by the near-certainty that the State Department won’t simply change its mind on the release because the Clinton team asked them to.

Still, the timing of the State Department announcement, coming just three days before the pivotal Iowa caucuses, and the nature of that announcement seem likely to further complicate a situation that has already caused Clinton and her campaign huge amounts of agita since the existence of her private email server was revealed almost one year ago to the day.

You can read more Cillizza lies and distortion at the link.

1402956532996.cachedIt’s not likely you’ll see the true story in the corporate media, so here are some calmer responses from people who actually know what they’re talking about. By the way Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon is one of those people. He was previously director of communications for the Department of Justice and dealt with classified material on a daily basis.

Why does the Clinton campaign want the emails released if they are show shocking? Because they’re not.

This from Sen. Dianne Feinstein:

From Hillary:

So what is really happening? As far as I can tell, there is absolutely nothing new here. It’s all about politics and trying to keep Hillary Clinton from becoming POTUS.

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Max Fisher at Vox: The Hillary Clinton top-secret email controversy, explained.

If it’s top secret, then it must be really sensitive, right?

Not necessarily. A large proportion of documents that our government classifies are not actually that sensitive — more on that below. So the key thing now is to try to figure out: Were these emails classified because they contain highly sensitive information that Clinton never should have emailed in the first place, or because they were largely banal but got scooped up in America’s often absurd classify-everything practices? [….]

According to a statement by the State Department, “These documents were not marked classified at the time they were sent.”

In other words, they do not contain information that was “born classified,” but rather fall into the vast gray area of things that do not seem obviously secret at the time but are later deemed that way — not always for good reason.

Go over to Vox to read about “America’s problem with overclassification.”

CLINTON US ETHIOPIA

CLINTON US ETHIOPIA

Big Tent Democrat AKA ArmandoKos at Talk Left: eGhazi: Same BS IC story: different day. Check the links in the post also if you want to know more.

Josh Gerstein and Rachel Bade:

The furor over Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account grew more serious for the Democratic presidential front-runner Friday as the State Department designated 22 of the messages from her account “top secret.” [. . .]

These documents were not marked classified at the time they were sent [and they weren’t sent by Clinton imo – BTD my emhphasis] ,” Kirby said in a statement.

Sound familiar? It should because it is the same story I’ve been writing about since this nonsense started. See in particular State v. IC classification battles:

Now what does this mean? It means the Intelligence Community, represented here by the IC IG, disagrees with the State Department’s determination on the classification of certain information contained in the Clinton e-mails. In their opinion, the information should have been designated classified and should be so designated now. But State does not agree.

Now what were those “classified documents then? I reviewed some that got through. As you can see, the IC is full of crap.What about this batch? I think we can safely say that the bulk of these are news stories discussing drone strikes.

Gerstein writes:

The messages deemed “secret” also vary widely. One from Feb. 25, 2012, appears to discuss U.S. drone operations in Pakistan.”This is hitting the news, with Taliban or HQN [the Haqqani Network] claiming responsibility,” State policy planning chief Jake Sullivan wrote to Clinton. The message originated with the U.S. Ambassador in In Pakistan, Dick Hoagland. Nearly all the text is deleted, but press reports that day described the crash of a drone in North Waziristan.

U.S. drones in Pakistan are operated by the Central Intelligence Agency, but the program is officially covert and therefore classified, even though President Barack Obama has acknowledged it publicly.

In short it is just more crazy crap from IC – news articles are Top Secret!! seems to be the theory.

But leaving aside the overclassification issue, there is just a little problem for those who want to take Clinton down with this nonsense – she didn’t transmit any of the information – just received it. And the issue is not a private server – after all the State’s unsecure email system would not be appropriate for “classified” material either.

As you have heard from me often, if anyone is in trouble, it will be career State officials like the current Ambassador to Bahrain, William Roebuck, Timothy T. Davis and William J Burns.

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Addicting Info: Hillary Clinton Did Not Send ‘Top Secret’ Emails On Private Server.

To summarize:

  1. There are seven emails which the State Department says are now considered classified.
  2. The emails originated from inside the agency’s unclassified system.
  3. They were not marked ‘classified’ or ‘top secret’ when they were sent.
  4. The emails were not sent by Hillary Clinton, but were sent to her, along with a number of other people.
  5. One of the ‘top secret emails’ is likely a published newspaper article.

In other words, this is not the huge scandal republicans were hoping for. Instead, it’s just another baseless right wing attack on Hillary Clinton that falls apart under even the slightest amount of scrutiny.

Sigh . . . I’m already exhausted from this crap and the weekend is just beginning.

I’ll end with two Politico pieces, one on Bernie Sanders and his campaign’s “foreign policy advisers” and another on Sanders’ claims that he is more electable than Clinton.

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Bernie’s foreign policy deficit. ‘I don’t know how I got on Bernie Sanders’ list,’ says one expert cited by his campaign, by Michael Crowley.

Not long after President Barack Obama ordered U.S. airstrikes in Libya in 2011, his national security adviser, Tom Donilon, trekked to Capitol Hill to brief Democratic senators. After a few minutes of discussion about the military operation, Bernie Sanders took the floor.

To talk about the economy.

“Sanders delivered a meandering manifesto about Democratic messaging on the economy,” says a former Senate chief of staff. “It wasn’t that his insights were wrong. It just wasn’t the time or place. Everyone was thinking, ‘Here goes Bernie!’ ”

Current and former Senate aides call the episode typical of Sanders, who on any given day would rather talk about Wall Street profits than about Middle East conflict….

Sanders has yet to give a speech exclusively on foreign policy, and on Friday his campaign backed away from an earlier commitment to deliver one before the Iowa vote. Numerous Democratic foreign policy insiders contacted by POLITICO could not name anyone who regularly advises the Vermont Senator on world affairs — a stark contrast to a Clinton campaign teeming with several hundred foreign policy advisers.

Oddly, the Sanders campaign is claiming to have foreign policy advisers who had no idea they were advising Bernie.

When asked whether Sanders has a full-time campaign staffer who handles foreign policy issues, his campaign did not respond. And several people whom the Sanders campaign has cited as sources of national security advice tell POLITICO they barely know the socialist firebrand.

“Apparently I had a conversation with him last August,” said Tamara Cofman Wittes, a Brookings Institution Middle East scholar, after checking her calendar upon hearing that her name was on a list of people the Sanders campaign said he had consulted in recent months. “My vague recollection is that it was about [the Islamic State] but I don’t really remember any of the details.” Wittes added that she backs Clinton.

“I don’t know how I got on Bernie Sanders’ list,” said Ray Takeyh, an Iran scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations who says he spoke to Sanders once or twice about the Iran nuclear deal at Sanders’ request in mid-2015.

What the hell? But of course Bernie voted against going into Iraq in 2002, so he’s the real foreign policy expert, right?

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Bernie Sanders might have an electability problem, by Stephen Shepard.

“Not only is Bernie Sanders electable in the general election,” insisted Sanders senior adviser Tad Devine, “he’s a stronger candidate than Hillary Clinton in the general election.”

Indeed, public pollsters who’ve conducted surveys in both Iowa and New Hampshire caution that the Sanders team might be misreading the data the campaign is relying on to make its case that Sanders would broaden the Democratic electorate and make more states competitive by luring young, more independently minded voters.

Patrick Murray, who runs the Monmouth University Polling Institute in New Jersey, said the independent voters who are backing Sanders in the primary are more liberal in orientation and would be likely to vote for the Democrat in November anyway.

“It’s a big leap of faith to take primary poll data and jump to the general,” added Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, which has conducted recent polls for NBC News and The Wall Street Journal. “You do ask the questions, and it tells you something: Hillary has a problem with independents, and Bernie doesn’t. Fast forward to September, October and November. The campaigns will change, and that dynamic will be different.”

Duh. Read the rest at the link.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a great weekend.