Mueller accuses 12 Russians of hacking the Hillary campaign

Twelve Russian intelligence officers hacked into the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton presidential campaign in the run-up to the 2016 election and released tens of thousands of stolen communications in a brazen effort by a foreign government to meddle in US politics, according to a grand jury indictment announced Friday (overnight NZT).

The indictment stands as the clearest Justice Department allegation yet of Russian efforts to interfere, through illegal hacking, in the US presidential election before Americans went to the polls - and the first to implicate the Russian government directly.

It had been sought by special counsel Robert Mueller and comes days before President Donald Trump holds a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

US intelligence agencies have said the meddling was aimed at helping the Trump campaign and harming the election bid of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

The effort also included bogus Facebook ads and social media postings that prosecutors say were aimed at influencing public opinion and sowing discord on hot-button social issues.

The indictment lays out a sweeping effort starting in March 2016 to break into key Democratic email accounts, such as those belonging to the Democratic National Committee, the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Among those targeted was John Podesta, the Clinton campaign chairman.

The Kremlin denied anew that it tried to sway the election.

"The Russian state has never interfered and has no intention of interfering in the US elections," President Vladimir Putin's foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said.

But the indictment identifies the defendants as officers with Russia's Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff, also known as GRU.

It accuses them of covertly monitoring the computers of dozens of Democratic officials and volunteers, implanting malicious computer code known as malware and using spearphishing emails to gain control of the accounts of people associated with the Clinton campaign.

The charges come as Mueller continues to investigate potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign to influence the presidential election.

FILE - In this June 13, 2012, file photo then-FBI Director Robert Mueller listens as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. Mueller took office as FBI director in 2001 expecting to dig into drug cases, white-collar misdeeds and violent crime. A week later was Sept. 11. Overnight, his mission changed and Mueller spent the next 12 years wrestling the agency into a battle-hardened terrorism-fighting force. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election. Source: Associated Press


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Maryland suffers another mass shooting, months after newspaper targeted

Three people were killed overnight in a shooting at a distribution centre for a US pharmacy chain, officials said.

A law enforcement official in Maryland with knowledge of the shooting stressed that the number of dead is based on preliminary information. The official wasn't authorized to discuss details by name and spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press.

The incident took place at an aid distribution centre near Baltimore. Source: Breakfast

A suspect was taken into custody and was in critical condition, Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler told a news conference.

It appears there was only one weapon, a handgun, that was used and there were no shots fired by responding law enforcement officers, Mr Gahler said. Mr Gahler also said multiple people had been killed and wounded in the shooting, without giving any other details on casualties.

A Baltimore hospital said it had received four patients with gunshot wounds from the shooting. Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center spokeswoman Monica Stone said in an email today that she was unable to provide details about the patients' conditions.

Mr Gahler said the call about shots fired came in from the Rite Aid distribution centre at about 9.06am (local time) and deputies and other officers were on the scene in just over five minutes.

"We are so preliminary in this investigation," Mr Gahler said. "It's so important that we deal in facts." He said authorities don't want to "make it worse" for the families involved by giving out incorrect information.

At a nearby fire station, family members were waiting to be reunited with loved ones. Police blocked off the road outside but were waving in cars driven by people who said they were there to meet up with people who were at the distribution centre.

The attack came nearly three months after a man armed with a shotgun attacked a newspaper office in Annapolis, Maryland, killing five staff members. Authorities accused Jarrod W. Ramos of attacking The Capital Gazette because of a longstanding grudge against the paper.

The FBI described the Aberdeen incident as an "active shooter situation" and said its Baltimore field office was assisting.
In a tweet, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said his office is monitoring the situation in Aberdeen and that the state stands ready to offer any support.

Susan Henderson, spokesman for Rite Aid, said the shooting happened on the campus of a company distribution centre in Aberdeen. She described it as a support facility adjacent to a larger building.

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman said that unfortunately, incidents like this are "becoming a too-often occurrence not only in Harford County but in the country".

Shirley Pollack, of Perryville, Md. reacts to what authorities have called a shooting with multiple victims in Perryman, Md. on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018. Authorities say multiple people have been shot in northeast Maryland in what the FBI is describing as an "active shooter situation."   Pollack,was concerned about her son  who worked near the scene of the shooting.  (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)
Concerned mum Shirley Pollack waits for word of her son, who works near the site of a mass shooting in Maryland. Source: Associated Press

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WWE wrestler turned Tennessee mayor to return to the ring in Australia

A new mayor of a US town who's also a semi-retired pro wrestler will once again don his "Kane" gear to participate in the WWE Super Show-Down pay-per-view event in Australia.

The Knoxville (Tennessee) News Sentinel reports Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs said Wednesday the Oct. 7 event is what he and WWE CEO Vince McMahon agreed to when Mr Jacobs' election became likely. While campaigning, Mr Jacobs said he wanted to focus on running the county, but wouldn't rule out a special appearance.

The Melbourne event is billed as the largest collection of WWE superstars and legends to appear in Australia.

FILE - In this Aug. 2, 2018 file photo, Republican Glenn Jacobs waits for early results to come in for the mayoral race in Knoxville, Tenn.  The Tennessee mayor will once again don his “Kane” gear to participate in the WWE Super Show-Down pay-per-view event in Australia. Jacobs said Wednesday, Sept. 20,  the Oct. 6 event is what he and WWE CEO Vince McMahon agreed to when it became likely Jacobs would be elected. (Caitie McMekin/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP, File )
Republican Glenn Jacobs, otherwise known as WWE wrestler Kane, waits for early election night results to come in during the 2 Aug. 2918 mayoral race in Knoxville, Tenn. Source: Associated Press

Mr Jacobs also announced WWE will donate NZ $150,000 to the Knoxville Public Safety Foundation "in appreciation for making a series of appearances for WWE this fall". It's unclear how many other events Mr Jacobs might do.

KANE / FINLAY - 25.09.2009 - WWE Smackdown et ECW Live Tour - Palais Nikaia de Nice,    (Photo : Icon Sport via Getty Images)
WWE wrestler Kane (centre), otherwise known as Glenn Jacobs, performs in France in 2009. Source: Getty

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World Anti-Doping Agency reinstates Russia

The World Anti-Doping Agency declared Russia's scandal-ridden drug-fighting operation back in business Thursday, a decision designed to bring a close to one of sports' most notorious doping scandals but one bitterly disputed by hundreds of athletes and described as "treachery" by the lawyer for the man who exposed the corruption.

On a 9-2 vote, the executive committee took the advice of the agency's compliance review panel and declared RUSADA as having satisfied conditions of reinstatement that were gradually softened over the summer.

In most tangible ways, the decision doesn't change much: RUSADA has been up and running for a while, bringing one of the world's largest testing programs back on line with the help of officials from Britain and elsewhere. And Russia's Olympic committee was brought back into the fold after the Pyeongchang Olympics, where athletes who could prove they were clean were able to compete as "Olympic Athletes from Russia."

But RUSADA's reinstatement now clears the country to again bid for major international events — although soccer's World Cup was held there this summer despite that restriction.

It also clears a major hurdle for Russia's track team to be declared compliant by that sport's international governing body, one of the few to take a strong, consistent stand against doping.

Perhaps most importantly, hundreds of athletes and dozens of world anti-doping leaders see it as a stinging rebuke to the ideal of fair play.

"WADA's decision to reinstate Russia represents the greatest treachery against clean athletes in Olympic history," said Jim Walden, the attorney for Grigory Rodchenkov, the former Moscow lab director who exposed much of the Russian scheme.

WADA had been telegraphing the move since Sept. 14, when it released the recommendation of its compliance review committee. Olympic champion Beckie Scott resigned from that committee afterward.

"I'm profoundly disappointed," Scott said to Canadian broadcaster CBC after the decision. "I feel this was an opportunity for WADA, and they have dealt a devastating blow to clean sport. I'm quite dismayed."

Even in Russia, where the news was welcomed, it came with a sense that there's still work to be done.

"These questions will always follow us," said RUSADA CEO Yuri Ganus, whose appointment to the job was part of the housecleaning at the agency that WADA demanded. "These aren't the kind of skeletons which can lie unnoticed in the closet. These are the skeletons which will be banging on the closet door all the time."

The two biggest roadblocks to RUSADA's reinstatement involved the country accepting findings from a report by investigator Richard McLaren that concluded the government had engineered the doping scandal to win medals at the Sochi Olympics. It also involved Russia agreeing to hand over a trove of data and samples that could be used to corroborate potential doping violations that stemmed from the cheating.

Over a summer's worth of correspondence between WADA leaders and Russia's sports minister about how to bridge the gap, a pattern emerged of WADA backing down from its initial requirements and, at one point, essentially asking Russia what it would be willing to say in a letter designed to satisfy the WADA review committee.

"We think that a small addition to the letter, if acceptable to you, could ensure that the letter is well received ... and that a positive recommendation is provided," WADA CEO Olivier Niggli wrote to sports minister Pavel Kolobkov in May in a letter obtained by BBC Sport .

In the end, Russia agreed to accept findings of an IOC-commissioned report that put less onus on the Russian government for the scheme, a move that Rodchenkov said earlier this week was done "for the pure purpose of protecting their top-level apparatchiks who destroyed the Olympic Games in Sochi."

Russia also agreed to hand over the samples and data by Dec. 31. If it does not, RUSADA will again be declared noncompliant.

"Without this pragmatic approach, we would continue with the impasse and the laboratory data could have remained out of our reach indefinitely," WADA president Craig Reedie said after Thursday's executive committee meeting in Seychelles.

Critics said reinstating RUSADA before obtaining the data only amounts to accepting another promise from a country that hasn't kept many over the five-year course of the scandal.

Travis Tygart, the CEO for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, called the decision "bewildering and inexplicable," and urged a full revamping of WADA; Reedie also serves as a member of the IOC, which is one of the many conflicts of interest that bother critics of the agency.

"Let's be clear: Absolutely nothing will be off the table for how we, the anti-doping community, begin the work of reforming WADA," Tygart said.

Reedie said "WADA understands that this decision will not please everybody."

Vladmir Putin is walking a very fine line with his reaction to the downing of the jet, Paul Buchanan says.
Source: Breakfast

"Clean athletes were denied places at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as other major events, and others were cheated of medals," he said. "It is entirely understandable that they should be wary about the supposed rehabilitation of offenders."


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Brexit could be good news for Kiwis wanting to live and work in the UK

Brexit could be good news for New Zealanders wanting to live and work in the UK.

Negotiations are on going between Britain and the European Union with Britain due the leave the EU on March 29 next year.

Cathy Allen is a speech and language therapist who is reluctantly heading back to New Zealand after being unable to extend a visa despite Britain's National Health Service's best efforts to keep her.

"I've been trying for the last six months every month and the reason it hasn't gone through is just that there's visa caps."

But the UK Government's own advisers are now recommending the highly skilled migrant cap should be scrapped.

Ms Allen said if that happens, "It'd be a lot easier, I'd be able to stay here 3-5 years."


There are just eight weeks to work through the deadlock on key issues. Source: 1 NEWS