(WASHINGTON,D.C.) JW REPORT: Announces emails show how the state agency successfully pressured Facebook to censor Judicial Watch’s post about Iowa’s management of its voter rolls #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.05: Included in these records were emails from Iowa state officials to representatives of Big Tech pressuring these companies to remove Judicial Watch’s posts:

(Washington, DC) Judicial Watch announced today that it received 624 pages of records from the office of the Secretary of State of Iowa, revealing how state officials pressured social media companies (Twitter and Facebook) to censor posts about the 2020 election: Records Show Iowa State Officials Coordinated with Big Tech to Censor Election Posts & the records show communications between the Secretary of State’s office and representatives of Facebook and Twitter to Target Judicial Watch Posts.

Judicial Watch received the records as a result of a June 2020 Iowa Open Records lawsuit that was filed after the Iowa Secretary of State failed to comply with a February 2020 request for records and communications about a Judicial Watch report regarding the accuracy of the state’s voter registration rolls (Judicial Watch v. Iowa Secretary of State (No. 05771 EQCE085973)). Judicial Watch was represented by Iowa lawyer Alan R. Ostergren of Des Moines, Iowa.

The records show that officials in the Iowa Secretary of State office on multiple occasions contacted officials from Facebook and Twitter to try to have these companies remove Judicial Watch posts that raised concernsabout Iowa’s failure to maintain accurate election rolls.

On February 3, 2020, at 5:19 p.m., Kevin Hall, the communications director for the Iowa Secretary of State, wrote in a February 3, 2020, email to Facebook official Rachel Holland:

Rachel,

We’ve been playing whack-a-mole with this false story all day. Is there anything you can do to help: [likely https://www.facebook.com/JudicialWatch/posts/10157583458431943]  

We’ve told them is fake. They have it PINNED to the top of their page. 

Here’s our rebuttal: https://sos.iowa.gov/news/2020_02_02.html

Holland responded at 6:11p.m., writing:

Hi Kevin, 

Circling back with an update regarding the content posted by Judicial Watch. Our third-party fact checkers have rated this content false, and we have applied a filter over the content warning users before they click to see it that the content has been rated false by independent fact checkers.

Please continue to report violating content to us by emailing reports@content.facebook.com, and copying me (RachelHolland@fb.com), as I will be on an airplane for the next couple hours. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding this or any other matters. 

A couple of hours later, Hall followed up, “Thank you! They have new posts up, doubling down on the false claims.” 

And Holland responded, “Thanks for flagging- we’ve got a full team with eyes on this now and are applying the false filter to similar articles as well. I’ll send you an additional update shortly!” 

That same day, Hall and Maria Benson, the director of communications at the National Association of Secretaries of State, both tried to convince Twitter to censor Judicial Watch’s posts but were ultimately unsuccessful. 

Hall filed a report with Twitter, and Benson escalated it by looping in Kevin Kane from Twitter. On February 3, 2020, Benson wrote, “Iowa Secretary of State has reported the below election misinformation, but Twitter has declined to take it down. As you can see from facts the tweets are clearly wrong. I wanted to bring this to your attention to hopefully remedy the situation. I’ve cc’d Kevin Hall, their Communicators Director.”

Kane responded rejecting the request saying, “Thanks Maria – This was reviewed by our team and is not in violation of our election integrity policy as it does not suppress voter turnout or mislead people about when. where. or how to vote. I understand this is not the outcome you are seeking and appreciate you continuing to report Tweets to our team.”

In an email the next day, Hall wrote to Kane saying, “Facebook, thankfully, was helpful. I would suggest perhaps reviewing your policies at Twitter and putting them more in line with what Facebook is doing to counter election misinformation.” 

After being rejected by Twitter, Benson emailed Brian Scully, an official at the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, writing on February 3, 2020: 

Hey Brian,

Can you report this as well? Hannity is now retweeting and Twitter isn’t playing ball with us. I’ve cc’d Kevin Hall who you met Saturday. He’s IA SOS’s Communications Director. He’s been reporting and playing wack a mole by trying to reply to misleading tweets.

Scully responded promising to contact Twitter. “Sorry … been out of pocket a bit. Will reach out to Twitter. Let me know if you get something.”

“These records are yet another example of state officials conspiring with Big Tech to deny Americans their First Amendment rights,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “These records further show that Big Tech censorship is a government scandal: Iowa government officials worked with Facebook to remove posts they didn’t like, and Facebook bowed to this political pressure immediately. It should be disturbing to all Americans that government officials are working to censor speech they disagree with and that these behemoth companies often seem willing to roll over and censor free speech.”

Judicial Watch last week released records from the office of the Secretary of State of California revealing how state officials pressured social media companies (Twitter, Facebook, Google (YouTube)) to censor posts about the 2020 election. Included in these records were “misinformation briefings” emails that were compiled by communications firm SKDK, that lists Biden for President as their top client of 2020. The records show how the state agency successfully pressured YouTube to censor a Judicial Watch video concerning the vote by mail and a Judicial Watch lawsuit settlement about California voter roll clean up.

###


Ace Related News:

SMOKING GUNS on Big Tech Censorship!

April 30, 2021 | Judicial Watch

California Officials Pressured Big Tech to Censor Social Media Election Posts Judicial Watch in Court to Stop a Maryland County from Giving Cash to Illegal Aliens Judicial Watch F…

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: May.05: 2021:

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#big-tech, #election, #facebook, #iowa, #jw, #twitter, #washington

(WASHINGTON) DHS Family Reunification Report: Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas and the Family Reunification Task Force announced that this week, the Biden Administration will begin to reunite families who they say were unjustly separated at the United States-Mexico border under the prior administration #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.03: In February, President Biden signed an Executive Order establishing the Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families (Task Force) to identify parents and children separated by the prior administration. The order directed the Task Force to implement comprehensive strategies that will bring families back together and ensure the families are provided support.

Biden Administration Begins This Week to Reunite Families Separated Under the Prior Administration: “The Family Reunification Task Force has been working day and night, across the federal government and with counsel for the families and our foreign partners, to address the prior administration’s cruel separation of children from their parents,” said Secretary Mayorkas, who serves as the Chair of the Task Force. “Today is just the beginning. We are reuniting the first group of families, many more will follow, and we recognize the importance of providing these families with the stability and resources they need to heal.”

Biden Signed Executive Order In February

The Task Force has been working tirelessly to establish a complete database of separated families, correct inaccuracies in the files they were provided, and build the processes to find every family and give them the opportunity to reunite and heal. The Task Force is in the process of reviewing additional cases for reunification in the coming months. The Task Force’s initial report is due on June 2, 2021, and will provide a full update on the Task Force’s progress. 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leads the President’s Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families and is joined by the Department of State, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Justice. Michelle Brané serves as the Task Force’s Executive Director. While the Task Force is leveraging existing authorities, the reunification effort is novel work that has required significant interagency coordination: 

  • DHS has established a process for accepting parole requests and stands ready to process and receive families as they request to enter the U.S.  
  • The Department of Health and Human Services is working on facilitating services to support harmed families.  
  • The Department of State has developed a streamlined system for processing in-country requests for travel documents to enter the U.S. 
  • The Department of Justice supports the Task Force in related settlement negotiation efforts.  

While coordinating all these efforts, the Task Force is also exploring options for long term legal stability for reunified families and identifying and recommending policies to avoid repeating these unnecessary and cruel separations in the future. The Task Force has made critical progress in a short period of time, resulting in reunifications starting this week and many more in the weeks ahead.

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: May.03: 2021:

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#biden, #dhs, #washington

(WASHINGTON) JUST IN: President Biden has reportedly decided to uphold the Trump administration’s controversial decision to recognize Morocco’s alleged sovereignty over Western Sahara #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.03: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken informed Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita during a Friday phone call that the Biden administration would not, “for the time being,” reverse his predecessor’s pro-Israeli move in the waning days of his presidency, US-based Axios news website reported, citing “two sources familiar with the call.”

Biden to uphold Western Sahara recognition for sake of Israel: ‘The recognition came as part of a deal with the despotic North African country to normalize relations with the Israeli regime’

Saturday, 01 May 2021 10:05 AM  [ Last Update: Saturday, 01 May 2021 11:08 AM ]

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Press TV

“The secretary welcomed Morocco’s steps to improve relations with Israel and noted the Morocco-Israel relationship will bring long-term benefits for both countries,” according to a readout of the call released by the State Department.

Responding to inquires about the issue during a Friday press briefing, State Department deputy spokesperson Jaline Porter tried to dodge the issue.

“When it comes to Western Sahara, we are consulting privately with parties on how to best halt the violence there… We would also talk about having the goal to achieve a lasting settlement,” she said. 

Trump’s recognition of Western Sahara as part of Morocco reversed decades of Washington’s policy regarding the disputed territory. It was part of a wider agreement with Rabat’s ruler that included the renewal of diplomatic ties between the Israeli and the Moroccan regimes that triggered massive protests in Palestine and Morocco.Moroccans protest normalization deal with Israel, voice solidarity…

The US thus became the only Western country to recognize Morocco’s alleged sovereignty over Western Sahara, which was annexed by the Rabat regime in 1975 after the former colonial government of Spain surrendered control.

The report further revealed that 10 days ago Biden’s Middle East advisor Brett McGurk “spoke to Bourita and gave the impression that there would be no change in the US policy on Western Sahara.” 

It report said both Morocco and Israel had become concerned that the Biden administration may reverse Trump’s contentious decision, solely intended to press more Arab dictatorships to recognize Israel.

Last December, Morocco became the fourth US-backed Arab kingdom to strike a deal aimed at establishing ties with Israel. The others were the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

The move sparked protests across the North African country, opposing the deal and expressing solidarity with the Palestinian cause while condemning the Israeli regime’s persisting atrocities against Palestine’s native population.

Later, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited Morocco’s King Mohammed VI to Tel Aviv in a “warm and friendly” phone conversation, agreeing to continue contacts in order to advance the normalization agreement.Netanyahu has ‘friendly’ call with Morocco’s king, invites him to…

Trump’s controversial decision, which contradicts UN resolutions on the issue, has been challenged by US lawmakers.

In February, half the US Senate signed a bipartisan letter led by Republican Jim Inhofe and senior Democrat Patrick Leahy calling on Biden to reverse Trump’s “illegitimate” decision.

“The abrupt decision by the previous administration on December 11, 2020, to officially recognize the Kingdom of Morocco’s illegitimate claims of sovereignty over Western Sahara was short-sighted, undermined decades of consistent US policy, and alienated a significant number of African nations,” the senators wrote.

“The Sahrawi people deserve the right to freely choose their own destiny. We hope that we can count on you to be a partner in this effort,” they added.

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: May.02: 2021:

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#biden, #morocco, #sahara, #trump, #washington

(WASHINGTON) The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Report: The federal agency responsible for nuclear research and weapons manufacturing in the US, has approved the first design phase for the new project #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.01: At least 30 plutonium pits per year will be built to “meet national security needs,” the NNSA said in a statement on Wednesday.

US agency in charge of nukes approves multibillion-dollar project as Washington urges Iran to curtail its own nuclear program: The US has approved a multibillion-dollar project to beef up its plutonium production at the same time Washington is calling on Iran to return to an international agreement designed to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear bombs.

29 Apr, 2021 14:34 

US agency in charge of nukes approves multibillion-dollar project as Washington urges Iran to curtail its own nuclear program
RT NEWS:

The project at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, will cost an estimated $2.7–$3.9 billion and could be finished between 2027 and 2028, the agency said.

Plutonium pits are bowling-ball-sized plutonium shells, and a crucial component in nuclear warheads.

The move to expand plutonium production is a bid by US President Joe Biden’s administration to make up for the country’s near-three-decade shortfall in the quantity of material the NNSA says is required for America’s nuclear arsenal: Leaking of foreign minister’s private conversation was intended to spark ‘division’ in Iran, President Rouhani says

At the same time as it hatches plans to bolster America’s own stockpile, the Biden administration has repeatedly called on Iran to restrict its nuclear program and return to the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Indirect US-Iranian talks to revive the accord – officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – have been taking place in Vienna over the last three weeks.

Under the deal, Iran originally agreed to curbs on its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.But in 2018 Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump pulled the US out of the agreement and reverted to imposing crippling sanctions on Iran.

Tehran then began breaching its commitments under the deal: Iran nuclear deal talks participants have ‘decided to expedite the process’ of full return to 2015 agreement, Russian envoy says

Biden has said he wants the US to re-join the JCPOA – but first wants Iran to make concessions by cutting back on the amount, and purity, of uranium it produces and stores.

Tehran has said it will not alter its approach until Washington lifts sanctions.

On Thursday Mikhail Ulyanov, the Russian ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, who is one of the mediators at the negotiations, briefed the US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley on the talks.

“We had a detailed and very useful discussion on major topics which are under consideration in the course of on-going talks in Vienna on full restoration of the #JCPOA,” Ulyanov said in a statement on Twitter.

#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: Apr.30: 2021:

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#nnsa, #nuclear, #washington

(WASHINGTON) Special Report: Ten years after they found and killed Osama bin Laden, U.S. Navy SEALs are undergoing a major transition to improve leadership and expand their commando capabilities to better battle threats from global powers like China and Russia #AceNewesDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr.29: The new plan cuts the number of SEAL platoons by as much as 30% and increases their size to make the teams more lethal and able to counter sophisticated maritime and undersea adversaries. And there will be a new, intensive screening process for the Navy’s elite warriors, to get higher-quality leaders after scandals that rocked the force and involved charges of murder, sexual assault and drug use.

EXCLUSIVE: Navy SEALs to shift from counterterrorism to global threats: ‘Rear Adm. H. Wyman Howard III, top commander for the SEALs, laid out his plans in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press. He said the Navy’s special operations forces have been focused on counterterrorism operations but now must begin to evolve beyond those missions. For the past two decades, many have been fighting in the deserts of Iraq and mountains of Afghanistan. Now they are focused on going back to sea’

That decision reflects the broader Pentagon strategy to prioritize China and Russia, which are rapidly growing their militaries and trying to expand their influence around the globe. U.S. defense leaders believe that two decades of war against militants and extremists have drained resources, causing America to lose ground against Moscow and Beijing.

The counterterrorism fight had its benefits, allowing the SEALs to sharpen their skills in developing intelligence networks and finding and hitting targets, said Howard, who heads Naval Special Warfare Command, which includes the SEALs and the special warfare combatant-craft crewmen. “Many of these things are transferable, but now we need to put pressure on ourselves to operate against peer threats.”

As a result, Howard is adding personnel to the SEAL platoons to beef up capabilities in cyber and electronic warfare and unmanned systems, honing their skills to collect intelligence and deceive and defeat the enemy.

“We are putting pressure on ourselves to evolve and understand our gaps in capability and what our true survivability is against these threats” posed by global competitors, he said.

Adm. Mike Gilday, the chief of naval operations, said the goal is to better integrate the SEALs into the Navy’s missions at sea.

“As the Navy Special Warfare community returns more and more to its maritime roots, their increased integration across the Fleet — above, under, and on the sea — will unequivocally enhance our unique maritime capabilities to help us compete and win against any adversary,” Gilday said in a statement to the AP. 

Increasing the size of the SEAL platoons will add high-tech capabilities. And decreasing the number of units will allow Howard to rid the force of toxic leaders and be more selective in choosing commanders. That decision is a direct result of the erosion in character that Navy officials have seen within the force.

In recent years, SEALs have been involved in a number of high-profile scandals. One of the most well-known was the arrest of Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher on war crimes charges that included murder of an Islamic State militant captive and attempted murder in the shootings of civilians during a 2017 deployment to Iraq. 

Gallagher was acquitted of all charges except one, posing in photos with the dead captive. A jury recommended his rank be reduced, cutting his pension and benefits as he was about to retire. But President Donald Trump intervened and ordered that Gallagher be allowed to retire without losing his SEAL status.

More recently, a SEAL team platoon was pulled out of Iraq in 2019 amid allegations of sexual assault. Members of SEAL Team 10 were involved in cocaine use and tampering with drug tests. And Navy SEAL Adam Matthews was sentenced to a year in military prison for his role in the 2017 hazing-related death of an Army Green Beret in Africa.

Navy leaders also chafed as Navy SEALs broke away from their “quiet professional” ethos, publicizing their participation in the raid into Pakistan that killed bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader responsible for plotting the 9/11 attacks. Two SEALs wrote books about the mission, prompting a rebuke form the Naval Special Warfare commander at the time, Rear Adm. Brian Losey.

“A critical tenant of our ethos is ‘I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions,’” he said.

Since taking over last September, Howard reached out to the Army and the Marine Corps for ideas on how to better screen his commando forces and assess them as they move through the ranks. Almost immediately, he instituted a “double blind” process for candidate interviews that was being used by the Army, so that neither side is influenced by actually seeing the other.

In addition, he is intensifying the screening process with more psychological assessments to evaluate personality traits. And he is expanding other assessments done by the subordinates and peers of candidates up for review. The increased scrutiny, said Howard, will extend through all the ranks and will help leaders get a better understanding of each service member’s character. The process, he said, will provide more feedback for individuals so they can improve and will also help top leaders pair commanders with the right teams.

In some cases, Howard said, sailors who already had gone through the initial SEAL screening had to do it again under the new process. Not all did as well the second time.

“We learned that some of the officers that scored in the midrange are officers that I thought would have scored much higher,” he said.

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: Apr.29: 2021:

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#russia, #china, #navy-seals, #special-report, #washington

(WASHINGTON) House Report: Democrats move two bills to make the nations 51st State & address legislation against Asian Americans #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsRepor t- Apr.24: Despite a minuscule majority, House Democrats have passed legislation this year reworking voting laws, toughening gun background checks and fulfilling other party goals. Yet in the 50-50 Senate, which Democrats control because of Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote, Republicans will be able to force changes in some bills and block others completely:

Democrats move 2 bills showing strength and limits of power: Democrats were on a roll. The House voted along party lines to make the nation’s capital the 51st state, and two hours later, the Senate overwhelmingly approved bipartisan legislation to address violence against Asian Americans.

Thursday’s twin victories let Democrats display momentum just six days before President Joe Biden’s maiden speech to Congress. Yet they also shined a spotlight on his party’s limitations in enacting his agenda.

The Senate GOP’s superpower: filibusters, bill-killing delays that would force the chamber’s 50 Democrats to win votes from at least 10 Republicans to prevail. That gives Republicans tremendous power over much of Biden’s and Democrats’ agenda, and it’s fueling frustration among progressives who want senators to abolish the filibuster rule.

“Everything we love is at stake,” first-term Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., said Thursday, ticking off a list of House-passed bills gathering dust in the Senate. “Not just everything we love, but everything we need.”

It would take all 50 Democratic senators — plus Harris — to abolish or curtail the filibuster, over the certain objection of the chamber’s 50 Republicans.

But moderate Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have opposed eliminating it, and Democrats say others in the party quietly oppose the move as well. Filibuster supporters cite a preference for seeking bipartisan accord with Republicans as well as repercussions when the GOP, inevitably at some point, returns to majority Senate control. 

Manchin said at an event this week sponsored by Axios, a news website, that the filibuster was designed to prod the two parties to “find a pathway forward.” And while Republicans are using the filibuster to block Democratic legislation, Democrats in past GOP-run Senates have used it to stall Republican efforts to curtail abortion rights and in other fights, and some in the party fear losing that weapon in the future.

“What goes around comes around,” Manchin added.

Significantly, Biden has already won the capstone of his first months’ agenda — the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, signed into law in March. In coming months, he stands a strong chance of achieving a second major triumph on his proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, which the White House says would create millions of jobs. 

“The biggest pieces of Biden’s agenda, that he’s put the most political capital behind, already became law” or have a strong chance of that, said Matt Bennett, a top official with Third Way, a centrist Democratic group.

Democrats passed the virus relief bill over unanimous Republican opposition because they used special budget rules preventing GOP filibusters. They might resort to the same procedure for the infrastructure bill to prevail if, as seems strongly possible, they can’t reach compromise with Republicans.

But use of the procedure circumventing filibusters is strictly limited by Senate rules. Since January alone, that’s stymied Democratic initiatives beloved by the party’s core liberal voters, including bills easing voting restrictions, reviving portions of the Voting Rights Act, tightening gun restrictions and helping women win salaries equal to men’s pay. The bill granting statehood to the District of Columbia also faces no chance in the Senate.

Under pressure after this week’s conviction of a former Minneapolis police officer in the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, senators are trying to negotiate a compromise for overhauling police procedures. A House-passed bill would ban chokeholds, improve police training and end immunity of many police officers from lawsuits. 

The roadblocks have prompted progressives like Bush to continue pressing Democratic senators to eliminate the filibuster. Some top Democrats have repeatedly dangled the threat of doing just that. Liberals hope pressure on Senate Democrats to end the rule will build as House-passed bills stack up in the chamber.

“This chamber can work in a bipartisan fashion to get things done,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Thursday after it passed the bill on violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. “That doesn’t mean we forgo our principles. That doesn’t mean we cut back on the boldness that is needed. But it means we try to work with our Republican colleagues whenever we can.”

At a news conference last month, Biden advocated a return to an earlier filibuster version that forced objecting senators to speak on the Senate floor until one side or the other surrendered. He added that if a “complete lockdown” occurred, “we’ll have to go beyond what I’m talking about.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters Thursday that “Mitch McConnell is still the problem.” She was referring to Democrats’ nemesis, the Senate minority leader from Kentucky, who exactly two years ago happily described himself as the “Grim Reaper” killing progressive bills in his chamber.

McConnell, however, isn’t to blame for all their Senate woes. Democrats currently lack 50 Senate votes for expanded gun background checks, raising the minimum wage and some other priorities, so eliminating the filibuster wouldn’t be enough.

Republicans are already playing offense on the filibuster fight. McConnell warned on the Senate floor Thursday that Democrats want to eliminate the procedure to push though legislation imposing new federal voting rules, adding more Supreme Court justices and creating a new Democratic-controlled state.

“Rewriting the rules of American politics to exclusively benefit one side,” McConnell said.

Looking ahead to 2022 elections when Republicans hope to win congressional control, the GOP House and Senate campaign committees are savoring using the issue. 

“It’s going to become a standard question” for Democrats, said Chris Hartline, spokesperson for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “They’ll have to say that they support getting rid of the filibuster, or they will face the ire of their liberal base” if they don’t.

#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: Apr.24: 2021:

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#asian-americans, #biden, #democrats, #harris, #washington

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) JW REPORT: ICE Has stopped issuing detainers and two states of Texas & Louisiana have filed lawsuits against Biden administration this month #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr.23: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has long complained about police in sanctuary cities that fail to honor its detainers, instead releasing serious criminals in the U.S. rather than turn them over to get deported. Now two states are suing the Homeland Security agency for failing to issue detainer requests for convicted felons in the country illegally, forcing local authorities to free them after completing their sentence rather than turning them over to the feds for removal. It seems that the tables have turned under the Biden administration, according to the lawsuit, filed this month by officials in Texas and Louisiana.

‘States Say ICE Stops Issuing Detainers for Illegal Immigrant Convicts, Revokes Them for Dozens’

The states claim that ICE has reversed a Trump era policy and is not issuing detainer requests for dangerous illegal aliens imprisoned in their jurisdiction. “As a result, many convicted criminal aliens have been released to society after their sentences, contrary to Congress’s mandate that they be detained pending their removal from the United States,” according to their complaint, filed this month in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas Victoria Division. Besides ICE, the defendants include the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and various officials at the DHS agencies.

The lawsuit begins by stating that “the Biden Administration is refusing to take custody of criminal aliens despite federal statutes requiring it to do so.” Instead, the document reads, defendants “have issued and implemented unlawful agency memoranda that allow criminal aliens already convicted of felony offenses to roam free in the United States. Such aliens belong in federal custody, as Congress required.”

Adding insult to injury, officials in the Lone Star State reveal in the court document that the Biden administration has taken the extra step of revoking ICE detainer requests for a multitude of illegal immigrants convicted of felonies and serving sentences in prisons operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Many were found guilty in a U.S. court of serious drug offenses, including possession, manufacturing, and sale. “President Biden’s outright refusal to enforce the law is exacerbating an unprecedented border crisis,” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “By failing to take custody of criminal aliens and giving no explanation for this reckless policy change, the Biden Administration is demonstrating a blatant disregard for Texans’ and Americans’ safety. Law and order must be immediately upheld and enforced to ensure the safety of our communities. Dangerous and violent illegal aliens must be removed from our communities as required by federal law.” In 2019 Texas housed nearly 9,000 undocumented criminal aliens at a cost of more than $152 million, according to the lawsuit.

In Louisiana ICE is not removing individuals subject to mandatory deportation, the complaint says, causing convicted felons incarcerated in state facilities to be released in local communities throughout the Bayou State. Louisiana, more than any other state, has greater risk due to the large number of local jails that are used to house detainees prior to removal, according to Attorney General Jeff Landry. “The President’s refusal to enforce the law only worsens an already dire border crisis,” Landry said. “Law and order must prevail; dangerous and violent criminal aliens must not be allowed to roam free in our communities.” Both states assert that the administration is violating binding agreements with DHS to assist in immigration enforcement and national security missions as well the Constitution, Immigration and Nationality Act and Administrative Procedure Act, which require the government to post proposed substantive rule changes in the Federal Register and allow the public to comment on them before enacting them.

For years ICE has slammed sanctuary cities nationwide for refusing to honor a local-federal partnership known as 287(g) that notifies the agency of jail inmates in the country illegally so that they can be deported after serving time for state crimes. Before Biden became president, ICE repeatedly issued statements reminding sanctuary cities and states that when law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders onto the streets, it undermines its ability protect public safety and carry out its mission. The agency even launched a billboard campaign seeking the public’s help in capturing felons released by one state’s sanctuary policy.

April 22, 2021 | Judicial Watch

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(WASHINGTON) NIH & HHS Report: Announce change to ending ‘taxpayers funding’ for experimental research that uses fetal tissue derived from aborted babies #AceHealthDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr.23: The National Institutes of Health (NIH), an agency under the authority of HHS, announced Friday an “Update on Changes to NIH Requirements Regarding Proposed Human Fetal Tissue Research”:

n this photo taken Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, Cate Dyer, chief executive officer and founder of StemExpress, poses at the company's office in Placerville, Calif. StemExpress is a broker in human tissue, which includes the fetal tissue that is at the heart of the Planned Parenthood video controversy.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Biden Administration to Ramp Up Experiments Using Aborted Baby Body Parts: The administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it is reversing the Trump administration’s decision to end taxpayer funding for experimental research that uses fetal tissue derived from aborted babies.

16 Apr 2021AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

On June 5, 2019, HHS announced that NIH intramural research that requires new acquisition of human fetal tissue from elective abortions will not be conducted. Simultaneously, HHS announced new requirements for documentation and review by an Ethics Advisory Board of extramural research applications for NIH grants, cooperative agreements, and R&D contracts proposing the use of human fetal tissue obtained from elective abortions.

This notice informs the extramural research community that HHS is reversing its 2019 decision that all research applications for NIH grants and contracts proposing the use of human fetal tissue from elective abortions will be reviewed by an Ethics Advisory Board. Accordingly, HHS/NIH will not convene another NIH Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board.

The announcement refers to the fact that, in addition to ending internal research with fetal tissue from elective abortions, the Trump administration applied a rigorous ethics review protocol in considering funding for research outside of its department – both of which the Biden-Harris HHS is overturning.

According to the Hill, on Thursday Planned Parenthood ally Xavier Becerra, HHS secretary, indicated during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing the announcement of the reversal of the Trump administration policy would be forthcoming.

“We believe that we have to do the research that it takes to make sure that we’re incorporating innovation and getting all of those types of treatments and therapies out there to the American people,” Becerra said.

The announcement comes on the heels of a letter this week from abortion industry allies and Democrat lawmakers Reps. Suzan DelBene (WA), Jan Schakowsky (IL), and Mark Pocan (WI), who urged Becerra to “immediately revoke the Trump Administration’s policies restricting fetal tissue use in biomedical research.”

“Fetal tissue is an irreplaceable resource for research that has led to numerous scientific and medical advances and contributed to the development of new therapies for many devastating diseases, including COVID-19,” the pro-abortion members of Congress wrote, adding the Trump administration’s bans on taxpayer-funded research using the body parts of aborted babies “continue to threaten scientific and medical advances.”

“The Trump Administration’s policy was politically motivated and unnecessary,” the lawmakers said, claiming as well that tissue from aborted babies is required to create treatments for “Zika, HIV, and COVID-19,” as well as “Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), spinal cord injury, and Parkinson’s disease.”

As AFP reported, in March 2020, Becerra, the former attorney general of California, organized a coalition of attorneys general from 14 other states to lift the Trump administration’s ban on taxpayer-funded fetal tissue research under the guise tissue from aborted babies would be required to develop vaccines for the coronavirus.

National pro-life researchers and leaders have long warned of the co-dependent relationship between abortion industry leaders such as Planned Parenthood and Democrat politicians.

Dr. Tara Sander Lee, senior fellow and director of life sciences at the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute, said in a statement the Biden-Harris administration’s “decision to resume experiments using the body parts of aborted children defies both the best ethics and most promising science.”

Lee asserted the claims of Democrats that tissue from the bodies of aborted babies is essential to develop essential drugs are false:

Exploiting the bodies of these young human beings is unnecessary and grotesque. Fetal tissue was not, and has never been, used for polio or any other vaccine, nor to produce or manufacture any pharmaceutical. There are superior and ethical alternatives available such as adult stem cell models being used by countless scientists worldwide to develop and produce advanced medicines treating patients now, without exploitation of any innocent life. All scientists should reject the administration’s attempts to prey on fears related to the pandemic to advance the practice of harvesting fetal tissue.

Secretary Becerra will open the floodgates to federal taxpayer funding and trafficking of baby body parts. His actions are reckless, dangerous and harmful to innocent unborn life.
7/7https://t.co/OCKNU0gnQh

— Charlotte Lozier Institute (@LozierInstitute) April 16, 2021

@HHSGov planning to open the floodgates to more baby body part experiments. Such decisions are foolish. Read more: https://t.co/bSuRInRjy3 https://t.co/MMfhOiAqen

— Dr. Tara Sander Lee (@DrTaraSanderLee) April 16, 2021

Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser also said in the statement that Biden and Harris are “working hand-in-glove with radical appointees like Xavier Becerra” and are “moving rapidly to pay back their abortion industry allies and wipe out pro-life progress made under the Trump-Pence administration.” Dannenfelser added:

From day one they have sought to expand abortion on demand, funded by taxpayers, against the will of the strong majority of Americans. Now they would force Americans to be complicit in barbaric experiments using body parts harvested from innocent children killed in abortions, with no limits of any kind.

Last week, legal watchdog organization Judicial Watch provided a nearly 600-page report that included uncovered emails of conversations between Food and Drug Administration (FDA) employees and the California-based biomedical company Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR). The emails revealed the U.S. government had been buying and trafficking “fresh” aborted baby body parts.

According to the report, the FDA purchased the body parts, which were derived from babies aborted at up to 24-weeks’ gestation, in order to engineer humanized mice and perform experimental drug research.

The Federalist reported on the Judicial Watch revelation:

Emails between FDA officials and ABR employees reveal disturbing conversations as they collaborate to buy and sell aborted fetuses. Records indicate ABR was paid $12,000 upfront per baby, some survivable out of the womb, between the gestational age of 16-24 weeks. Most purchases are for intact thymuses and livers shipped “Fresh; on wet ice.”

With the callousness of picking a cut of meat from a butcher shop, an FDA doctor requests tissue samples be procured from a baby boy, as they claim “It is strongly preferred to have a male fetus if at all possible … [but] undetermined sex or female is better than no tissue.”

“With the callousness of picking a cut of meat from a butcher shop, an FDA doctor requests tissue samples be procured from a baby boy…” Trump ended this. Will Biden try to do it again?https://t.co/MBduWHbXT7

— Stephen Billy (@Stephen__Billy) April 15, 2021

In August 2018, a report at CNSNews.com noted FDA signed a contract with ABR a month earlier and paid the company $15,900 for the fetal tissue from abortions, according to a General Services Administration contract.

The report followed several years of congressional investigation into the abortion industry’s alleged complicit relationship with biomedical companies, such as ABR, that purchase the body parts of aborted babies.

The U.S. Department of Justice was supposed to have launched an investigation into Planned Parenthood’s practices with regard to the sale of fetal body parts last December 2017, but further information about the investigation never materialized.

In December 2016, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley wrote in a letter to Obama-era Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former FBI director James Comey, informing them he was referring “the paid fetal tissue practices of the following organizations…to the FBI and the Department of Justice for investigation and potential prosecution.”

ABR was among the organizations named:

  • StemExpress, LLC;
  • Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc.
  • Novogenix Laboratories, LLC
  • Planned Parenthood Mar Monte
  • Planned Parenthood Los Angeles
  • Planned Parenthood Northern California
  • Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest

Grassley said in a statement at the time.:

I don’t take lightly making a criminal referral. But, the seeming disregard for the law by these entities has been fueled by decades of utter failure by the Justice Department to enforce it. And, unless there is a renewed commitment by everyone involved against commercializing the trade in aborted fetal body parts for profit, then the problem is likely to continue.

The Center for Medical Progress (CMP), with project lead David Daleiden, conducted an undercover investigation exposing the alleged illegal practices of Planned Parenthood and its partners in the fetal tissue procurement industry.

“This type of experimental research is a gross violation of human dignity and is not where the majority of Americans want their tax dollars being spent,” said Tom McClusky, president of March for Life Action. “The government has no business creating a marketplace for aborted baby body parts.”

“The Biden administration is making it once again clear that it places no value on the inherent dignity of human life. Their actions deny the truth that every human life, born and unborn, possesses inherent dignity and deserves to be treated with respect.” @tperkins

— Family Research Council (@FRCdc) April 16, 2021

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins also said:

As expected, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, a fanatical advocate for abortion, announced the Biden administration will now force American taxpayers to pay for barbaric experiments using the body parts of aborted babies. Instead of using ethical and effective alternatives, Biden is choosing to reinstate a policy that traffics in the grizzly remains of what would have been our next generation.

“The fact is that the remains of aborted babies have not been used to create the cure of a single disease,” Perkins added. “It’s clear that the NIH under President Biden means to do the opposite of ‘follow the science.’”

#AceHealthDesk report ……….Published: Apr.23: 2021:

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#hhs, #nih, #research, #washington

(WASHINGTON) JUST IN: Precious relics of Afghanistan’s ancient past are being returned home as the nation confronts deepening uncertainty about its future #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr.23: A collection of 33 artifacts seized from a New York-based art dealer who authorities say was one of the world’s most prolific smugglers of antiquities was turned over by the U.S. to the government of Afghanistan this week.

Relics seized from smugglers are returning to Afghanistan: The significance of the material is huge,” Roya Rahmani, the country’s ambassador to the U.S., said Wednesday. “Each one of these pieces are priceless depictions of our history.” According to Associated Press

Rahmani formally took control of the collection in a ceremony Monday in New York with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and Homeland Security Investigations, which recovered the artifacts as part of a larger investigation into the trafficking of antiquities from a number of countries.

Now, after briefly being displayed at the embassy in Washington, the masks, sculptures and other items, some from the second and third centuries, are en route to Kabul, where they are expected to go on display at the National Museum.

It’s the same museum where members of the Taliban destroyed artifacts in 2001 as part of a cultural rampage rooted in a fundamentalist version of Islam in which depictions of the human form are considered offensive.

The Taliban is now out of power. But it controls much of the country outside of Kabul amid stalled talks with the government and the looming withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces after two decades of war. Rahmani concedes it’s a delicate time. 

“However, what I know is that our security forces are determined to defend our people,” she said in an interview with The Associated Press. “The government is committed to do its part for peace and stability in a way that would bring durable peace.” 

They may get a chance earlier than expected. Germany’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday that discussions are underway among military planners with the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Kabul for a possible withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan as early as July 4.

President Joe Biden has already said the U.S. would remove all its troops by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the attacks that prompted the American invasion to dislodge the Taliban in 2001 for allowing al-Qaida to operate from Afghanistan.

Before the Sept. 11 attacks, the Taliban had already become internationally notorious for enforcing a harsh form of Islamic law that kept women out of public view and for destroying — with rockets, shells and dynamite — the famed giant, sixth century sandstone Buddha statues built into a cliff in Bamiyan province.

The destruction of the statues was on the ambassador’s mind as she prepared to ship the artifacts to her homeland, not only because a mural of the sandstone Buddhas adorns the room at the embassy where visitors gathered this week to see the relics.

Rahmani, her country’s first female ambassador to the United States, recalls that she wept when she first learned what the Taliban had done to the Buddhas. It was an important moment, she says, because she had pledged never to let anyone see her cry as a way to defy the male-dominated culture of her homeland. 

“I broke my vow,” she said. “I really cried hard. I wept and wept.” 

In contrast, the items are “returning to a government and people who cherish their past” and will make sure they are preserved for future generations, Rahmani said. She doesn’t expect the Taliban, if they return to power, would dare to destroy them.

“Our security forces and our government would not let that happen,” she said. “We are determined not to let that happen.”

Like the statues, some of the recovered antiquities depict Buddha. There’s also a marble statue of Shiva and a Greek mask. The artifacts reflect the multicultural influences on Afghanistan, an important center of trade and commerce, according to Fredrik Hiebert, an archaeologist and National Geographic Fellow who studies the country.

There are at least 2,600 archaeological sites around the country, said Hiebert, who helped authenticate some of the items after they had been confiscated by federal agents and discuss the relics at a gathering Tuesday at the embassy.

“Afghanistan is one of the richest countries in archaeology and history in the world,” he said. And there’s very good reason, of course. For 6,000 years there’s been civilization based in Afghanistan.”

That also makes it an attractive target to looters, which is how the items eventually ended up in the United States.

In 2007, Homeland Security Investigations, an agency that deals with cases of smuggling that traverse international borders, received information about looted artifacts brought to the New York City area from India. 

It eventually led to the indictment of a New York art gallery owner, Subhash Kapoor, and seven others as well as the seizure of more than 2,600 artifacts, valued at more than $140 million. He is jailed in India on charges and faces extradition to the U.S. when that case is resolved. 

In the meantime, the U.S. government is working to repatriate the looted material, much of which was found in a series of raids on storage units in the New York City area.

They have already returned relics to Nepal and Sri Lanka and soon will turn over artifacts to Thailand, said Stephen Lee, the supervisor special agent in charge of HSI’s cultural property, arts and antiquities unit. The 33 items being sent to Afghanistan, valued at around $1.8 million, are the first to go back there as part of this investigation.

“They belong to the people of Afghanistan,” Lee said. “That’s their cultural history.” 

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: Apr.23: 2021:

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#afghanistan, #antiquities, #united-states, #washington

(IRAQ) JUST IN: Five rockets targeted an Iraqi airbase hosting US soldiers Sunday, wounding two foreign contractors and three Iraqi soldiers, in the latest attack coinciding with tensions between Baghdad’s allies Tehran & Washington AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr.22: Weakness is an open-season invitation to bullies. With the Biden Administration in power, US troops abroad are under more risks from jihadists, particularly those linked to Iran.

Iraq: Five injured as jihadis with suspected ties to Iran launch rockets on airbase housing Americans: Shadowy Shiite armed groups aligned with Iran,” demanding a pullout date for American troops in Iraq, are the key suspects Five injured as rockets hit Iraqi air base housing by Mahmoud Saleh, AFP, April 18, 2021:

Two of the rockets fired at Balad airbase, north of Baghdad, crashed into a dormitory and a canteen of US company Sallyport, a security source told AFP.

Two foreign contractors and three Iraqi soldiers were wounded, the source added.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the United States routinely blames Iran-linked Iraqi factions for such attacks on its troops and diplomats.

F-16 fighters are stationed at the Balad airbase, and several maintenance companies are present there, employing Iraqi and foreign staff.

There have been around 20 bomb or rocket attacks against American interests, including bases hosting US soldiers, since US President Joe Biden took office in January.

Dozens of others took place from the autumn of 2019 under the administration of Donald Trump.

Two Americans and an Iraqi civilian have been killed in such attacks since late 2019.

An Iraqi civilian working for a firm maintaining US fighter jets for the Iraq air force was also wounded in one attack.

The Balad base was also targeted earlier this month, without causing any casualties.

The attacks are sometimes claimed by shadowy Shiite armed groups aligned with Iran who are demanding the Biden administration set a pullout date for Iraq as it has for Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, an explosives-packed drone slammed into Iraq’s Arbil airport in the first reported use of such a weapon against a base used by US-led coalition troops in the country, officials said….

#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: Apr.22: 2021:

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#iran, #iraq, #jihadis, #washington

(WASHINGTON) Justice Dept Report: An Ohio man was sentenced yesterday to 33 months in prison for conspiring to steal exosome-related trade secrets concerning the research, identification and treatment of a range of pediatric medical conditions #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr.22: Yu Zhou sought to exploit U.S. taxpayer dollars intended to fund critical, life-saving research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital through the whole-sale theft of their trade secrets,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “

Hospital Researcher Sentenced to Prison for Conspiring to Steal Trade Secrets and Sell to China: Defendant Will Pay More Than $2.6 Million in Restitution:

‘Yu Zhou, 51, of Dublin, Ohio, pleaded guilty in December 2020 to stealing scientific trade secrets related to exosomes and exosome isolation from Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Research Institute for his own personal financial gain. Zhou also conspired to commit wire fraud’

“Zhou’s greed was encouraged and enabled by a series of Chinese Government programs which incentivize thievery in an attempt to supplement China’s own research and development goals on the back of American ingenuity and investment. This successful prosecution should serve as a warning to anyone who seeks to profit from pilfering hard-earned U.S. trade secrets.”

“Yu Zhou willingly took part in the Chinese Government’s long-term efforts to steal American intellectual property,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Vipal J. Patel for the Southern District of Ohio. “Zhou and his wife executed a scheme over the course of several years to set up businesses in China, steal American research, and profit from doing so. The couple deserves the time it received in federal prison.”

According to court documents, Zhou and his co-conspirator and wife, Li Chen, 48, worked in separate medical research labs at the Research Institute for 10 years each (Zhou from 2007 until 2017 and Chen from 2008 until 2018). They pleaded guilty to conspiring to steal at least five trade secrets related to exosome research from Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Chen was sentenced in February to 30 months in prison for her role in the scheme.

Exosomes play a key role in the research, identification and treatment of a range of medical conditions, including necrotizing enterocolitis (a condition found in premature babies), liver fibrosis and liver cancer.

Court documents detail that Zhou and Chen conspired to steal and then monetize one of the trade secrets by creating and selling exosome “isolation kits.” Zhou’s research at Nationwide Children’s included a novel isolation method in which exosomes could be isolated from samples as small as one drop of blood. This method was vital to the research being conducted in Zhou’s lab – because necrotizing enterocolitis is a condition found primarily in premature babies, only small amounts of fluid can safely be taken from them.

Zhou and Chen started a company in China to sell the kits.

The defendants received benefits from the Chinese government, including the State Administration of Foreign Expert Affairs and the National Natural Science Foundation of China. Zhou and Chen were also part of application processes related to multiple Chinese government programs, including talent plans, a method used by China to transfer foreign research and technology to the Chinese government.

As part of their convictions, the couple will forfeit approximately $1.45 million, 500,000 shares of common stock of Avalon GloboCare Corp. and 400 shares of common stock of GenExosome Technologies Inc. They were also ordered to pay $2.6 million in restitution.

Chen and Zhou were arrested in California in July 2019 and their case was unsealed in August 2019 when they appeared in federal court in Columbus.

Acting U.S. Attorney Vipal J. Patel for the Southern District of Ohio; Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the National Security Division; and Special Agent in Charge Chris Hoffman of the FBI’s Cincinnati Division announced the sentence imposed today by U.S. District Judge Sarah D. Morrison.

National Security Division Trial Attorney Matthew J. McKenzie, Assistant U.S. Attorneys S. Courter Shimeall, Peter K. Glenn-Applegate, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Michael Marous are representing the United States in this case.

#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: Apr.22: 2021:

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#china, #doj, #trade-secrets, #washington

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) JW FOIA REPORT: Sueing NIH Funding & Other Records Tied to China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr.20: Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for National Institutes of Health (NIH) records of communications, contracts and agreements with the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China:

Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (No. 1:21-cv-00696)). The lawsuit specifically seeks records about NIH grants that benefitted the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

March 23, 2021 | Judicial Watch

The lawsuit was filed against Health and Human Services after the NIH denied an April 22, 2020, FOIA request, for:

  1. All internal NIAID communications regarding the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China;
  2. All agreements, contracts and related documents between NIAID and the Wuhan Institute of Virology; and
  3. All records, including agreements, funds disbursement records and related NIAID communications regarding a reported $3.7 million in grants provided by NIH to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

In April 2020, the Daily Mail reported that documents “show the Wuhan Institute of Virology undertook coronavirus experiments on mammals captured more than 1,000 miles away in Yunnan – funded by a $3.7 million grant from the US government.”

The NIH in April 2020 suspended funding a grant to the non-profit EcoHealth Alliance that “had previously established a partnership with a virology laboratory in Wuhan, China” but in August gave the EcoHealth Alliance a grant of $7.5 million. The grant will reportedly “focus on Southeast Asia and the emergence of coronaviruses; filoviruses, the family responsible for Ebola; and paramyxoviruses, a family of viruses that includes measles and mumps.”

“For almost a year now, Dr. Fauci’s agency has stonewalled Judicial Watch’s lawful request for information about the agency’s connections to the controversial Wuhan lab,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The American people have a right to know about Dr. Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ involvement with the infamous Wuhan Institute of Virology.”

In March 2021, Judicial Watch uncovered HHS/NIH records that show NIH officials tailored confidentiality forms to China’s terms and that the World Health Organization conducted an unreleased, “strictly confidential” COVID-19 epidemiological analysis in January 2020. Additionally, the records reveal an independent journalist in China pointing out the inconsistent COVID numbers in China to NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Deputy Director for Clinical Research and Special Projects Cliff Lane.

In October 2020, Judicial Watch received records from the HHS that show Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, approved a press release supportive of China’s response to the 2019 novel coronavirus.

#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: Apr.20: 2021:

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#china, #coronavirus, #covid19, #hhs, #judicial-watch-nih, #jw, #washington

(WASHINGTON) JW REPORT: GITMO Captives released by the military have returned to terrorism according to a recent declassified intelligence #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr.19: In all, 729 detainees have been released from Gitmo since the prison opened nearly two decades ago and the ODNI says 125 have been confirmed as reengaging in terrorism, though the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) put the figure at 130. The top security facility houses the world’s most dangerous Islamic terrorists, including 9/11 masterminds Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi as well as USS Cole bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. “Based on trends identified during the past 17 years, we assess that some detainees currently at GTMO will seek to reengage in terrorist or insurgent activities after they are transferred,” the latest ODNI report states, reiterating language used in past reports. “Transfers to countries with ongoing conflicts and internal instability as well as recruitment by insurgent and terrorist organizations could pose an increased risk of reengagement.”

Dozens of Gitmo Captives Confirmed to Reengage in Terrorism after Release are At Large: Dozens of captives verified by the U.S. to reengage in terrorist activity after being released from the military prison in Guantanamo Bay are at large, a recently declassified intelligence report reveals. Recidivism among detainees freed from the compound at the U.S. Naval base in southeast Cuba—also known as Gitmo or GTMO—is nothing new and has been well documented for years by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). In its latest disturbing update, ODNI discloses that the whereabouts of 69 former Gitmo detainees that the government is certain returned to terrorism is unknown’

There has been no shortage of examples of Gitmo captives rejoining terrorist missions after the U.S. let them go. Judicial Watch has reported on it extensively after obtaining both domestic and international documents involving the matter. Examples of recidivism among freed Gitmo jihadists include dozens who have rejoined Al Qaeda in Yemen, the country where the 2009 Christmas Day airline bomber proudly trained, and several high-ranking Al Qaeda militants in Yemen involved in a sophisticated scheme to send bombs on a U.S.-bound cargo plane. A Gitmo alum named Mullah Abdul Rauf, who once led a Taliban unit, established the first Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) base in Afghanistan. Another, Sabir Mahfouz Lahmar, was arrested in France as part of a terrorist cell that operated an ISIS recruiting network. The Obama administration released Lahmar even though his Department of Defense (DOD) file says he has links to “multiple terrorist plots” and as a member of the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) plotted with Al Qaeda to attack the United States Embassy in Sarajevo.

The George W. Bush administration also released quite a few Gitmo captives confirmed by the ODNI to be “directly involved in terrorist or insurgent activities. Among them is a Saudi national, Ibrahim al-Rubaysh, repatriated under a Saudi Arabian “rehabilitation” program that supposedly reforms Gitmo jihadists but instead has served as a training camp for future terrorists. Years after releasing al-Rubaysh, a known Al Qaeda operative, the U.S. government put him on a global terrorist list and offered $5 million for information on his whereabouts! The State Department even classified the “senior leader” of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. “He serves as a senior advisor for AQAP operational planning and is involved in the planning of attacks,” according to a  State Department announcement. “He has served as a senior AQAP sharia official since 2013, and as a senior AQAP sharia official, al-Rubaysh provides the justification for attacks conducted by AQAP.  In addition, he has made public statements, including one in August 2014 where he called on Muslims to wage war against the United States.”

Just a few months ago, the DOD cleared for release an Al Qaeda operative classified as a “forever prisoner” because he was once considered too dangerous to be freed. His name is Said Salih Said Nashir and his DOD file says he has ties to 9/11 conspirator Walid Bin Attash and trained at the infamous al-Faruq camp in Afghanistan to participate in terrorist operations against U.S. forces in Karachi, Pakistan and inside the U.S. The document labels Nashir a high risk likely to pose a threat to the U.S. A few years ago the Office of Military Commission’s parole board denied the Yemen national release, determining that “continued law of war detention of the detainee remains necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.”

#AceNewsDesk report …………Published: Apr.19: 2021:

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#gitmo, #jw, #washington

(WASHINGTON) Justice Dept Court Report: A Ukrainian national was sentenced today to 10 years in prison for his high-level role in the criminal work of the hacking group FIN7 #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr.17: He was arrested in Dresden, Germany, in 2018, at the request of U.S. law enforcement and was extradited to Seattle, Washington. In September 2019, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking:

‘High-Level Organizer of Notorious Hacking Group Sentenced to Prison for Scheme that Compromised Tens of Millions of Debit and Credit Cards: Overall Damage to Banks, Merchants, Card Companies, and Consumers Estimated at more than $1 Billion’ Fedir Hladyr, 35, served as a manager and systems administrator for FIN7’

“The defendant and his conspirators compromised millions of financial accounts and caused over a billion dollars in losses to Americans and costs to the U.S. economy,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Protecting businesses – both large and small – online is a top priority for the Department of Justice. The department is committed to working with our international partners to hold such cyber criminals accountable, no matter where they reside or how anonymous they think they are.”

“This criminal organization had more than 70 people organized into business units and teams.  Some were hackers, others developed the malware installed on computers, and still others crafted the malicious emails that duped victims into infecting their company systems,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman of the Western District of Washington. “This defendant worked at the intersection of all these activities and thus bears heavy responsibility for billions in damage caused to companies and individual consumers.”

“These cyber thieves orchestrated an elaborate network of hackers and systems to infiltrate businesses and exploit consumers’ personal information,” said Special Agent in Charge Donald M. Voiret of the FBI’s Seattle Field Office. “Their specialized skills to target certain industries amplified the damage exponentially. Thanks to the hard work of law enforcement partners both in the U.S. and overseas, these fraudsters are not beyond our reach and cannot hide from the law.”

According to documents filed in the case, since at least 2015, members of FIN7 (also referred to as Carbanak Group and the Navigator Group, among other names) engaged in a highly sophisticated malware campaign to attack hundreds of U.S. companies, predominantly in the restaurant, gambling, and hospitality industries. FIN7 hacked into thousands of computer systems and stole millions of customer credit and debit card numbers that were then used or sold for profit. FIN7, through its dozens of members, launched waves of malicious cyberattacks on numerous businesses operating in the United States and abroad. To execute its scheme, FIN7 carefully crafted email messages that would appear legitimate to a business’ employees, and accompanied emails with telephone calls intended to further legitimize the emails. Once a file attached to a fraudulent email was opened and activated, FIN7 would use an adapted version of the Carbanak malware, in addition to an arsenal of other tools, to access and steal payment card data for the business’s customers. Since 2015, many of the stolen payment card numbers have been offered for sale through online underground marketplaces.

In the United States alone, FIN7 successfully breached the computer networks of businesses in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, stealing more than 20 million customer card records from over 6,500 individual point-of-sale terminals at more than 3,600 separate business locations.  According to court documents, victims incurred enormous costs that, according to some estimates, totaled billions of dollars. Additional intrusions occurred abroad, including in the United Kingdom, Australia, and France. Companies that have publicly disclosed hacks attributable to FIN7 include such chains as Chipotle Mexican Grill, Chili’s, Arby’s, Red Robin, and Jason’s Deli.  

Hladyr originally joined FIN7 via a front company called Combi Security – a fake cyber security company that had a phony website and no legitimate customers. Hladyr admitted in his plea agreement that he soon realized that, rather than a legitimate company, Combi was part of a criminal enterprise. Hladyr served as FIN7’s systems administrator who, among other things, played a central role in aggregating stolen payment card information, supervising FIN7’s hackers, and maintaining the elaborate network of servers that FIN7 used to attack and control victims’ computers. Hladyr also controlled the organization’s encrypted channels of communication.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Seattle Cyber Task Force of the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance, numerous computer security firms and financial institutions, FBI offices across the nation and globe, as well as a number of international agencies provided significant assistance. German law enforcement authorities provided significant assistance by arresting Hladyr.

This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Anthony Teelucksingh of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Francis Franze-Nakamura and Steven Masada of the Western District of Washington.

#AceNewsDesk report ………….Published: Apr.17: 2021:

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#fin17, #hacking-group, #ukrainian, #washington

(WASHINGTON) ICE REPORT: The Department of State’s Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program (TOCRP): Announces a $5-million reward for information or arrest/conviction to combat organised crime #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr.17: Flores-Silva was charged in a federal indictment on August 13, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia:

$5M reward offered for information leading to arrest, conviction of major Mexican drug cartel member: ‘Audias Flores Silva (Flores Silva), following multiple investigations by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and other U.S. agencies. These actions are part of a whole of government approach to combating drug trafficking and transnational organised crime globally and in Mexico’

‘The indictment charges Flores-Silva with conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, and one kilogram or more of heroin for importation into the United States, as well as carrying, using and possessing a firearm in relation to a drug offence

In 2002: Flores Silva was indicted in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina for engaging in narcotics trafficking activity. He was later convicted and served a five-year sentence before being released and returning to Mexico:

In 2016: Mexican authorities arrested Flores Silva after being accused of orchestrating an April 2015, ambush against Mexican police officers in Soyatlan, Jalisco. Flores Silva was later released from Mexican prison after fighting his charges in Mexican courts:

This reward is offered under the Department of State’s Narcotics Rewards Program (NRP). More than 75 transnational criminals and major narcotics traffickers have been brought to justice under the NRP and the Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program (TOCRP) since the NRP’s inception in 1986.

HSI special agents across the United States and around the world remain on the front lines of the global fight to identify, disrupt and dismantle cartels and other transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) engaged in illegal narcotics smuggling activities. HSI utilizes its expansive statutory authorities, undercover capabilities, border search authority, robust domestic and international footprint, criminal analysis capabilities and strong interagency partnerships at home and abroad to launch complex criminal investigations designed to expose and take down sophisticated networks that produce, transport, broker, finance, sell and distribute illegal drugs. These efforts have resulted in some of the most significant arrests of traffickers and seizures of illicit drugs across the globe.

HSI is a directorate and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 Special Agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Tipsters who want to report suspicious or criminal activity can contact the ICE Tip Line by:

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Apr.17: 2021:

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#drug-cartel, #ice, #mexican, #tocrp, #washington

(WASHINGTON) Press Release Report: Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury took multiple sanctions actions under a new Executive Order (E.O.) targeting aggressive and harmful activities by the Government of the Russian Federation #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr.15: Treasury’s actions include the implementation of new prohibitions on certain dealings in Russian sovereign debt, as well as targeted sanctions on technology companies that support the Russian Intelligence Services’ efforts to carry out malicious cyber activities against the United States:

‘The President signed this sweeping new authority to confront Russia’s continued and growing malign behavior,” said Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen. “Treasury is leveraging this new authority to impose costs on the Russian government for its unacceptable conduct, including by limiting Russia’s ability to finance its activities and by targeting Russia’s malicious and disruptive cyber capabilities.”

U.S. Department of the Treasury : Office of Public Affairs: Press Release: For Immediate Release

Published: April 15, 2021

Contact:                     Treasury Public Affairs, Press@Treasury.gov

Treasury Sanctions Russia with Sweeping New Sanctions Authority

NEW AUTHORITY IN RESPONSE TO RUSSIAN MALIGN ACTIVITIES

The E.O. of April 15, 2021, “Blocking Property with Respect to Specified Harmful Foreign Activities of the Government of the Russian Federation,” elevates the U.S. government’s capacity to deploy strategic and economically impactful sanctions to deter and respond to Russia’s destabilizing behavior. In particular, this new E.O. authorizes sanctions to counter Russia’s harmful foreign activities that threaten the national security and foreign policy of the United States, including: undermining the conduct of free and fair elections and democratic institutions in the United States and its allies and partners; engaging in and facilitating malicious cyber activities against the United States and its allies and partners that threaten the free flow of information; fostering and using transnational corruption to influence foreign governments; pursuing extraterritorial activities targeting dissidents or journalists; undermining security in countries and regions important to the United States’ national security; and violating well-established principles of international law, including respect for the territorial integrity of states. To address these threats, the E.O. of April 15, 2021 authorizes sanctions on a wide range of persons, including, among others, those operating in the technology and defense and related materiel sectors of the Russian Federation economy, and in any additional sectors of the Russian Federation economy as may be determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State.

SOVEREIGN DEBT PROHIBITIONS

Pursuant to the E.O. of April 15, 2021, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is issuing a directive that generally prohibits U.S. financial institutions from participating in the primary market for ruble or non-ruble denominated bonds issued after June 14, 2021 by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation, or the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation, and further prohibits U.S. financial institutions from lending ruble or non-ruble denominated funds to these three entities. This directive expands upon existing prohibitions on certain dealings in Russian sovereign debt that have been in place since August 2019.

TREASURY DESIGNATES RUSSIAN COMPANIES IN THE TECHNOLOGY SECTOR SUPPORTING RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICES

Treasury’s first use of the E.O. of April 15, 2021 targets companies operating in the technology sector of the Russian Federation economy that support Russian Intelligence Services.

The following companies are designated for operating in the technology sector of the Russian Federation economy: ERA TechnolopolisPasit, AO (Pasit); Federal State Autonomous Scientific Establishment Scientific Research Institute Specialized Security Computing Devices and Automation (SVA); Neobit, OOO (Neobit); Advanced System Technology, AO (AST); and Pozitiv Teknolodzhiz, AO (Positive Technologies).

ERA Technopolis is a research center and technology park funded and operated by the Russian Ministry of Defense. ERA Technopolis houses and supports units of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) responsible for offensive cyber and information operations and leverages the personnel and expertise of the Russian technology sector to develop military and dual-use technologies.

Pasit is a Russia-based information technology (IT) company that conducted research and development in support of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service’s (SVR) malicious cyber operations.

SVA is a Russian state-owned research institute specializing in advanced systems for information security located in Russia. SVA conducted research and development in support of the SVR’s malicious cyber operations.

Neobit is a Saint Petersburg, Russia-based IT security firm whose clients include the Russian Ministry of Defense, SVR, and Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). Neobit conducted research and development in support of the cyber operations conducted by the FSB, GRU, and SVR. Neobit was also designated today pursuant to cyber-related E.O. 13694, as amended by E.O. 13757, WMD-related E.O. 13382, and the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for providing material support to the GRU. 

AST is a Russian IT security firm whose clients include the Russian Ministry of Defense, SVR, and FSB. AST provided technical support to cyber operations conducted by the FSB, GRU, and SVR. AST was also designated today pursuant to E.O. 13694, E.O. 13382, and CAATSA for providing support to the FSB.

Positive Technologies is a Russian IT security firm that supports Russian Government clients, including the FSB. Positive Technologies provides computer network security solutions to Russian businesses, foreign governments, and international companies and hosts large-scale conventions that are used as recruiting events for the FSB and GRU. Positive Technologies was also designated today pursuant to E.O. 13694, E.O. 13382, and CAATSA for providing support to the FSB. 

SANCTIONS TARGET RUSSIAN MALICIOUS CYBER ACTORS

The Russian Intelligence Services — specifically the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), and the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) — have executed some of the most dangerous and disruptive cyber attacks in recent history, including the SolarWinds cyber attack. The FSB and GRU were previously sanctioned in 2016, and again in 2018, for malicious cyber activity, and most recently on March 2, 2021 for activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The FSB was involved in the August 2020 poisoning of Aleksey Navalny with a chemical weapon, specifically a nerve agent known as Novichok. The GRU also engaged in activities that materially contributed to the possession, transportation, and use of Novichok related to a March 2018 poisoning in the United Kingdom.

The FSB has also used its cyber capabilities to target Russian journalists and others who openly criticize the regime, as well as U.S. government personnel and millions of private citizens around the world. To bolster its malicious cyber operations, the FSB cultivates and co-opts criminal hackers, including the previously designated Evil Corp, enabling them to engage in disruptive ransomware attacks and phishing campaigns.

The GRU’s malign cyber activities include deployment of the NotPetya and Olympic Destroyer malware; intrusions targeting the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the World Anti-Doping Agency; cyber attacks on government systems and critical infrastructure in Ukraine and the state of Georgia; and hack-and-leak operations targeting elections in the United States and France.

In addition, the Russian Intelligence Services’ third arm, the SVR, is responsible for the 2020 exploit of the SolarWinds Orion platform and other information technology infrastructures. This intrusion compromised thousands of U.S. government and private sector networks. The scope and scale of this compromise combined with Russia’s history of carrying out reckless and disruptive cyber operations makes it a national security concern. The SVR has put at risk the global technology supply chain by allowing malware to be installed on the machines of tens of thousands of SolarWinds’ customers. Victims of the compromise include the financial sector, critical infrastructure, government networks, and many others. Further, this incident will cost businesses and consumers in the United States and worldwide millions of dollars to fully address.

Additionally, the SVR stole “red team tools,” which mimic cyber attacks to help customers better protect themselves, from a U.S. cyber security company. These tools, if made public or used offensively by the SVR or other actors, would create additional opportunities for malign actors to target computer systems worldwide.

The private and state-owned companies designated today enable the Russian Intelligence Services’ cyber activities. These companies provide a range of services to the FSB, GRU, and SVR, ranging from providing expertise, to developing tools and infrastructure, to facilitating malicious cyber activities.

SANCTIONS IMPLICATIONS

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the designated persons described above that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons. The prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person. 

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Apr.16: 2021:

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#biden, #press-release, #treasury, #washington

(WASHINGTON) SCAM ALERT: FTC REPORT: Government imposters may have hit a new low with a scheme that targets the grieving survivors of people who died of #COVID19 by offering them help paying for their loved one’s funeral expenses.

#AceNewsReport – Apr.15: The program is open to American citizens, nationals of U.S. territories, and non-citizens legally admitted to the United States, regardless of income. If you apply, you’ll need to show documents including receipts for your expenses and a death certificate that says the death happened in the United States or its territories and was likely caused by #COVID19.

#CoronavirusNewsDesk – Scammers target loved ones of #COVID19 victims: ‘A real government relief program will pay up to $9,000 for funeral expenses that people have paid since January 20, 2020 for loved ones who died of COVID-19. Survivors can apply for benefits by contacting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at 844-684-6333.The number is toll-free and multi-lingual services are available’

The program just began yesterday, but even before it started, FEMA said it had reports of scammers contacting people and “offering” to register them for assistance.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • FEMA will not contact you until you have called FEMA or have applied for assistance. Anyone who contacts you out of the blue and claims to be a federal employee or from FEMA is a scammer.
  • The government won’t ask you to pay anything to get this financial help. Anyone who does is a scammer.
  • The government won’t call, text, email, or contact you on social media and ask for your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does is a scammer.
  • Don’t give your own or your deceased loved one’s personal or financial information to anyone who contacts you out of the blue. Anyone who does that and asks for that information is a scammer.

FEMA’s Funeral Assistance FAQs have information about the documents you need to apply for funeral expenses. The FAQs also tell you what to do if the death certificate didn’t identify COVID-19 as the likely cause of death, as sometimes happened early in the pandemic.

If you doubt a caller claiming to be from FEMA is telling the truth, hang up and report it to the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 or the National Center for Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721. Tell us too, at ReportFraud.ftc.gov

#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: Apr.15: 2021:

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#ftc, #scam-alert, #washington

(WASHINGTON) Justice Dept Report: Announced a court-authorized operation to copy and remove malicious web shells from hundreds of vulnerable computers in the United States running on-premises versions of Microsoft Exchange Server software used to provide enterprise-level e-mail service #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr.15: Through January and February 2021, certain hacking groups exploited zero-day vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange Server software to access e-mail accounts and place web shells (which are pieces of code or scripts that enable remote administration) for continued access. Other hacking groups followed suit starting in early March after the vulnerability and patch were publicized. Although many infected system owners successfully removed the web shells from thousands of computers, others appeared unable to do so, and hundreds of such web shells persisted unmitigated. Today’s operation removed one early hacking group’s remaining web shells, which could have been used to maintain and escalate persistent, unauthorized access to U.S. networks.

Justice Department Announces Court-Authorized Effort to Disrupt Exploitation of Microsoft Exchange Server Vulnerabilities: The FBI conducted the removal by issuing a command through the web shell to the server, which was designed to cause the server to delete only the web shell (identified by its unique file path). This is unrelated to Microsoft’s 13 April announcement.

Note: A full copy of the unsealed court documents can be viewed here.

‘Action Copied and Removed Web Shells that Provided Backdoor Access to Servers, but Additional Steps may be Required to Patch Exchange Server Software and to Expel Hackers from the Victims’ Networks’

“Today’s court-authorized removal of the malicious web shells demonstrates the Department’s commitment to disrupt hacking activity using all of our legal tools, not just prosecutions,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “Combined with the private sector’s and other government agencies’ efforts to date, including the release of detection tools and patches, we are together showing the strength that public-private partnership brings to our country’s cybersecurity. There’s no doubt that more work remains to be done, but let there also be no doubt that the Department is committed to playing its integral and necessary role in such efforts.”

“Combatting cyber threats requires partnerships with private sector and government colleagues,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery of the Southern District of Texas. “This court-authorized operation to copy and remove malicious web shells from hundreds of vulnerable computers shows our commitment to use any viable resource to fight cyber criminals. We will continue to do so in coordination with our partners and with the court to combat the threat until it is alleviated, and we can further protect our citizens from these malicious cyber breaches.”

“This operation is an example of the FBI’s commitment to combatting cyber threats through our enduring federal and private sector partnerships,” said Acting Assistant Director Tonya Ugoretz of the FBI’s Cyber Division. “Our successful action should serve as a reminder to malicious cyber actors that we will impose risk and consequences for cyber intrusions that threaten the national security and public safety of the American people and our international partners. The FBI will continue to use all tools available to us as the lead domestic law enforcement and intelligence agency to hold malicious cyber actors accountable for their actions.”

On March 2, 2021, Microsoft announced that a hacking group used multiple zero-day vulnerabilities to target computers running Microsoft Exchange Server software. Various other hacking groups also have used these vulnerabilities to install web shells on thousands of victim computers, including those located the United States. Because the web shells the FBI removed today each had a unique file path and name, they may have been more challenging for individual server owners to detect and eliminate than other web shells.

Throughout March 2021, Microsoft and other industry partners released detection tools, patches, and other information to assist victim entities in identifying and mitigating this cyber incident. Additionally, the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released a Joint Advisory on Compromise of Microsoft Exchange Server on March 10, 2021. Despite these efforts, by the end of March, hundreds of web shells remained on certain U.S.-based computers running Microsoft Exchange Server software.

Although today’s operation was successful in copying and removing those web shells, it did not patch any Microsoft Exchange Server zero-day vulnerabilities or search for or remove any additional malware or hacking tools that hacking groups may have placed on victim networks by exploiting the web shells. The Department strongly encourages network defenders to review Microsoft’s remediation guidance and the March 10, 2021 Joint Advisory for further guidance on detection and patching.

The FBI is attempting to provide notice of the court-authorized operation to all owners or operators of the computers from which it removed the hacking group’s web shells. For those victims with publicly available contact information, the FBI will send an e-mail message from an official FBI e-mail account (@FBI.gov) notifying the victim of the search. For those victims whose contact information is not publicly available, the FBI will send an e-mail message from the same FBI e-mail account to providers (such as a victim’s ISP) who are believed to have that contact information and ask them to provide notice to the victim.

If you believe you have a compromised computer running Microsoft Exchange Server, please contact your local FBI Field Office for assistance. The FBI continues to conduct a thorough and methodical investigation into this cyber incident.

#AceNewsDesk report …………Published: Apr.15: 2021:

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#email, #malicious, #microsoft, #software, #washington

(WASHINGTON) State Dept Report: We need to close the book on a 20-year war,” is how a US official put it when he broke the news on Tuesday that the last US troops would be out of Afghanistan by 11 September #AceNewsDesk report

Afghans face pivotal moment as US prepares to ‘close the book’ Two decades on, what does this “book” say about the country that some 10,000 US-led Nato forces will soon leave behind Biden ON YouTube in 4-hours here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2Nsj4wfg1c

VIDEO HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2Nsj4wfg1c

4 hours ago

By Lyse Doucet
Chief international correspondent

The Afghan war: The short and long story

Soldiers from the Afghan National Army's quick reaction force run drills and prepare their readiness level at their base on the outskirts of Maidan Shahr, Afghanistan, on Saturday Nov. 7, 2020.
Despite the push for peace, the Afghan National Army is braced for further violence

It’s a dramatically different country than the shattered land and pariah state of the Taliban toppled in the US-led invasion of 2001 after the 9/11 attacks.

But this withdrawal window is decisive. It could accelerate a push towards peace, or a descent into violence that shreds the more open society which has been taking root – however slowly and unevenly – over the past two decades. 

“The best possible outcome to expect is that this withdrawal timeline serves as a catalyst and a mechanism to pressure Afghan parties to reach a political settlement by September or face a bloody Syrian-style civil war,” warns Tamim Asey, Executive Chairman of the Institute of War and Peace Studies in Kabul. 

Few would have expected this last chapter of the US military mission to read like this: a triumphal Taliban poised to return to power on the battlefield or through peace talks where they hold most of the cards; much-vaunted “gains” slipping away by the day in a wave of targeted killings of the educated, active, and ambitious lifeblood of an emerging society. 

Many Afghans now fear a terrible tumbling towards civil war in a conflict already described as one of the most violent in the world. 

“I worry most when timelines are attached to their pullout, but not conditions,” regrets an Afghan human rights activist. “The Taliban will just wait them out and won’t get into substantive issues.”

It’s a view echoed by others. 

“I wish President Biden had conditioned the troop withdrawal timeline with zero killings on the ground by all parties between May and September,” reflects Orzala Nemat, director of the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU). 

AFPUS and other Nato troops have long been the target of Taliban attacks

But the senior administration official who briefed journalists on the pullout was adamant: “The president has judged that a conditions-based approach, which has been the approach of the past two decades, is a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever.”

There’s also a pledge to “use our full toolkit to ensure the future that the Afghan people are seeking has the best chance of coming about”. 

But Washington’s best bargaining chip has been its military might. The departure of all foreign troops now bolstering Afghan government forces has been the Taliban’s single-minded pursuit as their fighters keep inching back, district by district, across a growing number of provinces. 

There were no good options on President Joe Biden’s desk when he inherited last year’s US Taliban deal which committed Washington to a 1 May troop pullout in exchange for Taliban security guarantees and a vaguer commitment to reduce violence and pursue peace talks. Is peace with the Taliban possible? (2019 report)

The security of the United States – the reason that first brought its troops in – had to be a deciding factor. And other Nato forces are expected to follow the US lead.

“This is not 2001, it is 2021,” was how a senior US official replied when questioned about the continuing threat posed by groups like al-Qaeda and Islamic State which still have a presence in Afghanistan. 

“We judge the threat against the homeland now emanating from Afghanistan to be at a level we can address without a persistent military footprint in the country and without remaining at war with the Taliban.”

“The decision was always going to come down to a broader political judgment about American interests writ large and from that perspective, the decision makes sense,” says Laurel Miller, director of the Asia Programme at the International Crisis Group and a former US State Department official. 

But regret quickly creeps in.

“It’s a tragedy that the US didn’t get serious about trying to stitch together a peace process in Afghanistan much earlier, before the thread ran out,” comments Miller, who had been involved in some of the first tentative efforts exploring negotiated solutions.

Now it’s the seriousness of Afghan leaders, on all sides of this conflict, which is paramount. 

“The voices of the Afghan people are very clear and unified in calling for peace, justice, and the preservation of national and democratic values,” emphasises Nemat of AREU. “But the political elite are still trying to maximise their share of power in a power-grabbing opportunity just like 1992.”

History throws a long dark shadow in Afghanistan. Many of the same power brokers and warlords who turned their guns on each other in a frenzy of infighting after the Soviet troop pullout of 1988 have been given pride of place in a new negotiating process which has been taking shape. 

Getty ImagesMany fear women’s rights in Afghanistan will suffer at the hands of warlords and the Taliban

There’s an argument that only they have the clout to strike a deal with the Taliban. But there’s also anxiety that they can’t and won’t speak for the Afghanistan of 2021 including victims of war crimes, women’s activists, and broader civil society. 

There’s a jumble of peace plans from political rivals, including a grand blueprint from President Ashraf Ghani’s office. A High Council for National Reconciliation has to first reconcile competing perspectives in Kabul.

As for the Taliban, they’re still fixated on the US’s broken pledge to pull out completely by 1 May.

“Until all foreign forces completely withdraw from our homeland, the Islamic Emirate will not participate in any conference that shall make decisions about Afghanistan,” announced Taliban spokesman Dr Mohammed Naeem in a Twitter post a few hours after news of the US decision broke.

The conference in question now is a “high level and inclusive conference” hosted by Turkey, Qatar, and the United Nations, set for Istanbul on 24 April. It’s a crucial piece in the Biden administration’s new Afghan jigsaw. The UN is being brought centre stage as efforts are stepped up to jump-start peace talks as well as forge a consensus among regional powers, each with their own Afghan proxies. 

In the Gulf state of Qatar, where teams of Taliban and Afghan government negotiators have been meeting on and off since September, some Taliban were heard using the English idiom “the ball’s now in our court” in reaction to news of a delayed US pullout. They’ve always insisted they’re in pursuit of peace.

“The Taliban leadership has shown no sign of wanting peace, and every sign of wanting to pursue a route to power through war,” assesses Kate Clark, Co-Director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network. 

The traditional “fighting season” looms amid reports of a blistering Taliban campaign in store; Afghan government forces are also braced for battle. 

“Who preserves the gains of the last 20 years if there’s worsening civil war or where the Taliban capture territory?” asks Clark. “Where there’s conflict, freedoms evaporate; where the Taliban rule they are as authoritarian as before, and few girls go to school above primary age in Taliban-controlled areas.”

Mindful of this hot button issue, the US is at pains to point it will “work with other countries using diplomatic, economic, and humanitarian tools to protect the gains made by Afghan women”.

“Biden wants to get out of the Afghan war, but not Afghanistan,” says Asey of the Institute of War and Peace Studies in an effort to present a brave face at this pivotal juncture.

As the US seeks to “close the book” on its longest war, Afghan minds are now sharply focused on the next chapter of their own longer war without end.

#AceNewsDesk report ………….Published: Apr.14: 2021:

Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports by https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all our posts, also links can be found at here for Twitter and Live Feeds https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

#afghanistan, #nato, #taliban, #washington

(WASHINGTON) Court Report – A judge permanently banned the release of undercover videos that show Planned Parenthood employees discussed the alleged sale of fetal body parts #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr.13: The defendants’ First Amendment arguments do not defeat preclusion or otherwise weigh against entry of judgment on the breach of contract claim,” Orrick wrote:

Free Beacon: Judge Prohibits Release of Undercover Pro-Life Activist’s Recordings – Washington Free Beacon: ‘William Orrick, a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, ruled Wednesday that pro-life videographer David Daleiden was in breach of contract when he secretly recorded videos of the National Abortion Federation’s conferences. The ruling bars Daleiden from ever releasing the videos he recorded at the conference, meaning hundreds of hours of footage will never see the light of day’

Attorneys for the Thomas More Society, the law firm representing Daleiden, said they plan on appealing the ruling. Firm vice president and senior counsel Peter Breen said the court’s ruling violated journalistic freedom.

“This permanent injunction covering up the release of incriminating video from a large abortion trade show strikes at the heart of the First Amendment,” Breen said. “The American people deserve to see and hear what the abortion providers of this country are willing to say and do to skirt and even violate the law.”

Daleiden’s videos purportedly show Planned Parenthood employees discussing the sale of aborted fetal tissue. Daleiden’s legal representation has argued that he used tactics similar to other undercover journalists. A coalition of groups including PETA and free speech organizations filed briefs on behalf of Daleiden, arguing that his tactics echoed those of whistleblowers in the past.

The ruling is the latest in a long line of developments in the legal conflicts surrounding Daleiden’s work as an undercover journalist. Last year, Orrick ruled that Daleiden had to pay more than $13 million to cover Planned Parenthood’s legal fees. Daleiden filed a defamation suit against Planned Parenthood in September alleging the organization launched a smear campaign against him to distract from the content of Daleiden’s videos.

Orrick’s role in the legal proceedings has also come under scrutiny due to his past financial support of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Northern California. Daleiden’s attorneys unsuccessfully attempted to get Orrick removed from the case.

#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: Apr.13: 2021:

Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports by https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all our posts, also links can be found at here for Twitter and Live Feeds https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

#planned-parenthood, #pro-life, #washington