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US NSA OKs Trump to share info with Russia



Donald Trump

Washington, May 17 : US National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said on Tuesday that it was “wholly appropriate” for President Donald Trump to share classified information with Russian officials during their meeting in the Oval Office last week.

Trump decided to mention the information in the “context of the conversation” with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, McMaster told reporters in the White House, calling it “wholly appropriate to that conversation” and “consistent with the routine sharing of information between the president and any leader with whom he’s engaged”.

During those conversations, Trump disclosed the city from which the intelligence was derived, McMaster confirmed.

However, McMaster did not make clear if the information was highly classified as the Washington Post reported one day earlier.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump tweeted that he has “the absolute right” to share certain information with Russia.

“As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against the IS & terrorism,” he said in a pair of tweets on Tuesday.

But the president also did not specifically say whether he spilled highly classified information to Russian officials.

Trump reportedly relayed information from a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria when meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

The related information-sharing arrangement was considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, according to the Post report.

In response, McMaster, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell all issued statements later on Monday, claiming such reports are wrong.

Powell said in a statement: “This story is false. The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced.”

“At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed, and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly,” said McMaster, who participated in the meeting.

The Post report said Trump appeared to be boasting of the “great intel” he receives when he described a looming terror threat, citing an official with knowledge of the exchange.

The information was provided by a US partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement. The partner did not give the US permission to share the information with Russia, the Post said.

Following the meeting, the White House contacted the CIA and National Security Agency to contain the damage, according to the Post.

As US President Trump has broad authority to declassify government secrets, making it unlikely that such disclosures broke the law. However, he is facing a deepening trust crisis as a new poll released Tuesday finds nearly half of US voters (48 per cent) said they would support Trump’s impeachment, while only 41 per cent would oppose such charges.

The White House is in a “downward spiral” and needs to do something to get “under control”, Republican Senator Bob Corker said following the Post report.

Trump’s approval ratings have been hovering in the high 30s and 40s. According to Gallup, Trump has the lowest approval of any new president since the surveys began in 1953.


Israel opens probe into Facebook after data scandal



Cambridge Analytica data scandal

JERUSALEM: Israeli authorities said Thursday (Mar 22) they had launched an investigation into Facebook’s activities following a scandal over the hijacking of personal data from millions of the social network’s users.

Israel’s privacy protection agency “informed Facebook” of the probe after revelations over data transfers from the tech giant to consultant Cambridge Analytica, the agency said.

It said it was also looking into “the possibility of other infringements of the privacy law regarding Israelis”, it said in a statement released by the justice ministry.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper has reported that Israeli hackers offered material to Cambridge Analytica.

But an Israeli justice ministry spokeswoman said the probe did not involve hackers, focusing rather on whether Israeli users’ rights were violated.

Under Israel’s privacy law, personal data may only be used with consent and for the purpose for which it was handed over, the privacy protection agency said.


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Middle East

Loud explosion heard outside busy hotel in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu

Explosion hits busy road outside popular hotel in central Mogadishu.



Somalia Car Bombing

MOGADISHU: 16 people killed and 20 injured in a bomb attack at the entrance of  Wehliye hotel in Mogadishu. Most of the casualties are auto rickshaw drivers and passengers, according to witnesses.

The death toll is expected to rise.

The attacked was claimed by al-Shabab, Reuters news agency reported, citing the armed group’s military operation spokesman.

Al-Shabab, which is fighting to overthrow Somalia’s internationally recognised government, is frequently carrying out attacks in and around the capital.

More to follow.

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Twitter’s chief information security officer quits




San Francisco, March 22: As tech companies reel under mounting pressure to prevent their platforms from data breach and fake news, Twitter’s Chief Information Security Officer Michael Coates has decided to quit.

In a tweet on Thursday, Coates who joined Twitter in 2015 announced his departure from the micro-blogging website.

“Twitter has been an amazing ride, but as I mentioned internally a few weeks back, my time is coming to an end. I’m confident to leave the program with an amazing security team,” Coates tweeted.

According to The Verge, Coates’ interim replacement is Joseph Camilleri, a senior manager for information security and risk.

Coates’ departure comes soon after reports surfaced that Facebook’s Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos is planning to leave the company by August.

Facebook is facing the heat after Cambridge Analytica, a British consulting company, was accused of harvesting data of up to 50 million Facebook users without permission and using the data to help politicians, including US President Donald Trump and the Brexit campaign.

Meanwhile, Michael Zalewski, Director of Information Security Engineering at Google, has also announced his departure from that company after 11 years.


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