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China is 'greatest long-term threat' to the US, FBI director Christopher Wray says

08.07.2020 5:30

China is seeking to become the world's only superpower by usurping the United States with a government-directed "campaign of theft and malign influence", the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director said on Tuesday.In a wide-ranging attack on Beijing's behaviour on the world stage delivered at the conservative think tank Hudson Institute, Christopher Wray said that the counter-intelligence and economic espionage threat from China represented the "greatest long-term threat to our nation's information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality".China's "generational fight" to usurp the US was playing out in fields ranging from local politics to industries including aviation, agriculture, robotics and health care, said Wray, accusing Beijing of working to compromise American institutions conducting "essential" Covid-19 research.The charges come at a nadir in US-China relations, with tensions boiling on a number of fronts including the coronavirus pandemic, Beijing's handling of Hong Kong, and treatment of each other's respective journalists.Those spats have come on top of long-standing concerns in the US of a state-orchestrated theft of American technology by China, allegations that in part fuelled the still-simmering trade war that began two years ago.Wray revealed on Tuesday that the FBI opens a new China-related counter-intelligence investigation every 10 hours, and that around half of the bureau's approximately 5,000 open cases relate to China. Investigations into alleged attempts to steal US-based technology by Chinese entities are under way in all of the FBI's 56 field offices."That's not because we're just trying to spread the work around," said Wray. "That's because the threat is all over the country, in rural areas and big cities. And it's in Fortune 100s all the way down to small start-ups."The US Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are preparing to unveil new actions to address the threat from China in the coming weeks, said Wray, a Trump appointee who took over the FBI in 2017.Wray reserved particular criticism for China's "Fox Hunt" operation, an extraterritorial campaign launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping to repatriate individuals to be charged in China for crimes relating to corruption.Though presented as an anti-graft effort, the operation was "a sweeping bid by General Secretary Xi to target Chinese nationals who he sees as threats," charged Wray, who said it violated "established processes for foreign law enforcement to cooperate with each other".President Donald Trump said in April that Beijing would do "anything they can" to thwart his re-election. Photo: Reuters alt=President Donald Trump said in April that Beijing would do "anything they can" to thwart his re-election. Photo: ReutersIn cases where targets were not cooperative, the Chinese government had threatened or even arrested their family members still in China for leverage, said Wray.In one instance, a Chinese emissary told the US-based relatives of a target to pass along a message to the individual, saying the target had two options: "return to China promptly or commit suicide," said Wray, without giving specifics of the case.Wray appealed to anyone in the US who believed they were being targeted by the Chinese government in such a campaign to reach out to their local FBI field office.Beyond economic espionage and extraterritorial law enforcement, Beijing was also actively interfering in US politics, said Wray, alleging that China was targeting US local officials and lawmakers with direct or indirect pressure campaigns to prevent them from travelling to Taiwan."China does not want that to happen, because that travel might appear to legitimise Taiwanese independence from China," said Wray, who suggested that Chinese state actors had threatened retaliation against companies within local officials' constituencies to dissuade them from going to Taiwan.Wray did not provide specific examples of such events, and the FBI declined to comment further when asked for clarification.Asked during Tuesday's event whether the FBI was concerned about the prospect of Chinese interference in the fall elections, Wray said China's "malign foreign influence campaign" was a year-round threat rather than "an election specific threat".Nonetheless, China's attempts to sway US policy had "implications for elections, and they certainly have preferences that go along with that," he said.China has been accused of hacking into US government systems in the past, notably the alleged infiltration of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), acquiring sensitive data on around 20 million US federal government employees.The hack was part of broader attempts by China to "identify people for secret intelligence gathering," Wray said on Tuesday.The data breach also suggested there are possible cybersecurity vulnerabilities heading into the 2020 election, said Nina Jankowicz, a former Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellow at the US State Department who is now disinformation fellow at Washington-based think tank the Wilson Centre.Nina Jankowicz, an expert on Russian disinformation at the Wilson Centre. Photo: Prophet alt=Nina Jankowicz, an expert on Russian disinformation at the Wilson Centre. Photo: Prophet"It would be difficult to hack all of [the US voting systems] at once, but you might not need to hack all of them at once. What you need to do is just cast doubt on to the vote tallying" in one race, said Jankowicz at a Wilson Centre event."Once you've cast that doubt, then people aren't going to trust in the results and we get into a very sticky situation as we're trying to declare a winner."Chinese officials said earlier this year they have no interest in interfering in the fall elections, after Trump said in April that Beijing would do "anything they can" to thwart his re-election."We've made some sparing investments in our election infrastructure, but I think we need to do a lot more," Jankowicz said. "Unfortunately that issue has been politicised, but hopefully we've gotten up to the point where those basic security loopholes are not exploited ahead of the vote in November."Additional reporting by Robert DelaneyThis article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2020 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. Copyright (c) 2020. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

At least 8 Mississippi lawmakers test positive for COVID-19

07.07.2020 22:28

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — At least eight Mississippi lawmakers have tested positive for the coronavirus after working several weeks in a Capitol where many people stood or sat close together and did not wear masks. Among those who have publicly acknowledged having COVID-19 are Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, who presides over the 52-member Senate, and [...]

From: www.seattletimes.com

Latino lawmakers, group blast Trump meeting with Mexico's López Obrador

07.07.2020 20:34

The president is trying to divert attention from the toll coronavirus has taken, especially on Latinos, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus chair says.

From: www.nbcnews.com

In CA: California condors make a comeback; Christopher Columbus gets the boot

07.07.2020 20:28

A statue depicting Italian navigator Christopher Columbus has left the California Capitol. And we learn more about who got federal loans for their businesses, and they include folks linked to lawmakers Devin Nunes and Nancy Pelosi. Plus, I love a good comeback story, so let's start with that.

From: rssfeeds.usatoday.com

Protective gear for US medical workers runs low as virus resurges

07.07.2020 10:51

Doctors, nurses and some lawmakers say the US could face a crisis in the coming months as professionals reuse equipment.

From: www.aljazeera.com

He helped journalists and lawmakers understand ISIS. His death highlights how far Iraq has to go.

07.07.2020 10:32

The analyst was known for his work on ISIS, but he had more recently turned his attention to the country's powerful Iran-backed militias.

From: www.nbcnews.com

He helped journalists and lawmakers understand ISIS. His death highlights how far Iraq has to go.

07.07.2020 10:05

The analyst was known for his work on ISIS, but he had more recently turned his attention to the country's powerful Iran-backed militias.

From: news.yahoo.com

The Finance 202: PPP data dump to fuel debate as lawmakers craft next coronavirus stimulus

07.07.2020 8:46

Businesses tied to the political elite got the small business loans.

From: www.washingtonpost.com

New law would require NYPD officers to obtain liability insurance: report

07.07.2020 3:07

State lawmakers are churning out more proposed laws to hold cops accountable for misconduct.

Tags: Lawmakers
From: feeds.foxnews.com

'We've got to do something': Republican rebels come together to take on Trump

05.07.2020 8:29

A slew of organized Republican groups have sprung up to do all they can to defeat Trump in November. Will their effort work?Just like in 2016, a faction of the Republican party has emerged to try to defeat Donald Trump in the upcoming presidential election.But unlike the last presidential race, where the effort never truly took off, this time those rebel Republicans have formed better organized groups – and some are even openly backing Trump’s Democratic opponent, Joe Biden.In 2016, as Trump steamrolled his way through the Republican primary, some Republican lawmakers and operatives tried to mount an effort to stop him. Elected officials and veterans of previous Republican administrations organized letters, endorsed Hillary Clinton, and a few set up meager outside groups to defeat Trump.That’s happening again – but there are differences. The outside groups are more numerous and better organized, and most importantly, Trump has a governing record on which Republicans can use to decide whether to support him or not.“I think it’s qualitatively different,” said Republican operative Tim Miller, who co-founded one of the main anti-Trump organizations. “A lot of people who opposed [Trump] did the whole, ‘Oh, Hillary’s also bad, and Trump’s bad, and everybody can vote their conscience’ kind of thing.”Miller said that 2016’s effort was far more of a “pox on both your houses” phenomenon versus 2020’s “organized effort to defeat him”.The latest prominent Republican anti-Trump organization made its debut in early July. It’s a Super Pac called 43 Alumni for Biden, and aims to rally alumni of George W Bush’s administration to support the Democrat.The new Super Pac was co-founded by Kristopher Purcell, a former Bush administration official; John Farner, who worked in the commerce department during the Bush administration; and Karen Kirksey, another longtime Republican operative. Kirksey is the Super Pac’s director.“We’re truly a grassroots organization. Our goal is to do whatever we can to elect Joe Biden as president,” said Farner.The Super Pac is still in its early stages and isn’t setting expectations on raising something like $20m. Rather, 43 Alumni for Biden is just focused on organizing.“After seeing three and a half years of chaos and incompetence and division, a lot of people have just been pushed to say, ‘We have got to do something else,” Purcell said. “We may not be fully on board with the Democratic agenda, but this is a one-issue election. ‘Are you for Donald Trump, or are you for America.’”> This is a one-issue election. Are you for Trump, or are you for America?> > Kristopher Purcell43 Alumni for Biden is new compared with two other larger anti-Republican groups.The best-knownis the Lincoln Project, a political action committee founded in 2019 by Republican strategists who have long been critical of Trump.The Lincoln Project has made a name for itself for its creative anti-Trump ads. It has also brought on veteran Republican strategists like Stu Stevens, a top adviser for now-Utah senator Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. George Conway, the husband of Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, is also a co-founder of the group.Unlike other anti-Trump groups, the Lincoln Project has weighed in to Senate races and has begun endorsing Senate candidates. It has backed the Montana governor, Steve Bullock, in his Senate bid against the sitting Republican Steve Daines.Then there’s Republican Voters Against Trump, a group led by Bill Kristol, a well-known neoconservative and former chief of staff to then vice-president Dan Quayle, and Republican consultants Sarah Longwell and Tim Miller.That group is focused on organizing anti-Trump Republicans.“Lincoln is doing two things really well. One is narrative-setting, and just beating Trump over the head with hard-hitting attacks,” Miller said. “And they’re also working on Senate races, which we’re not doing. I think that, frankly, they’re bringing the sledgehammer and working on Senate races, and we are elevating these peer voices in a way to persuade voters.”A set of Republican national security officials has also emerged in opposition to Trump.That group hasn’t given itself a name yet, and includes the former Bush homeland security adviser Ken Wainstein, and John Bellinger III, who served in the state department. The group is looking to rally national security officials away from Trump – either by supporting Biden or writing in someone else.Even with all the organizing by these groups, there’s still the persistent fact that swaths of former Republican officials and operatives methodically endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016, and since then Trump has enjoyed sky-high approval ratings among the Republican party electorate.But these groups say that was a result of Americans having not yet experienced a Trump presidency. They also say that the reason elected officials aren’t coming out to support Biden is because they’re worried about the blowback.Colleen Graffey, part of the national security group of Republicans opposing Trump, said the reason some elected Republican officials aren’t coming out to oppose Trump publicly is because they’re scared.“They’re worried they’re going to be primaried,” Graffey said. “They’re worried they’re going to be tweeted, if that can be a weaponized verb.”Asked what his big fear is now, Farner said it’s that Republicans won’t come out to vote at all.“My fear is that they will not come out and vote. And we’re here to say that it’s OK. We’re putting ourselves out here too,” Farner said. “It’s OK.”

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