Top News Stories for Today – January 5, 2017
Trump working to revamp intelligence agency
Donald Trump and his top advisers are working on a plan to restructure the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency, The Wall Street Journal reports. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence was founded in 2004, primarily to help intelligence agencies coordinate efforts in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
A person close to the Trump transition team told WSJ Trump says the office has become “bloated and politicized,” and he believes the intelligence community is attempting to undermine his win by saying Russians hacked Democratic groups before the presidential election. When it comes to the CIA, the team wants to cut back on staffing at headquarters and send more people into field posts. Trump has regularly attacked intelligence agencies on Twitter, dismissing their hacking assessments, and one of his advisers is Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was pushed out of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2013 by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and others. The Wall Street Journal, The Week
Senate hosts hearing on foreign cyber threats
The Senate Armed Services Committee convenes Thursday morning to hear a testimony from US intelligence officials concerning “foreign cyberthreats to the United States.” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is the committee’s chairman and has been vocally at odds with President-elect Donald Trump, blaming Russia for Democratic hacks during the election.
Trump, citing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, has denied such claims. The committee will hear from National Intelligence Director James Clapper Jr., the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Marcel Lettre, and Adm. Michael Rogers, of the National Security Agency and United States Cyber Command. “The point of this hearing is to have the intelligence community reinforce from their point of view that the Russians did this,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who is also on the committee. Democrats on the committee include Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.). The New York Times, The Week
NASA to launch two asteroids in 2020s
NASA is planning two missions to asteroids in the early 2020s to explore the solar system’s origins, the agency announced Wednesday. The first mission, Lucy, is slated to head for the Trojan asteroids in Jupiter’s orbit in 2021.
Then, in 2023, the Psyche mission will launch to what NASA describes as a “giant metal asteroid” called Psyche 16, which is nearly “three times farther away from the sun than is the Earth.” “Lucy will observe primitive remnants from farther out in the solar system, while Psyche will directly observe the interior of a planetary body,” said NASA planetary science director Jim Green. The missions, selected from five possible endeavors, are part of NASA’s Discovery Program. NASA, The Washington Post, The Week
Trump taps William Hagerty as ambassador to Japan
US President-elect Donald Trump plans to pick businessman William Hagerty as the next US ambassador to Japan, an adviser to Trump’s transition team told Reuters Wednesday. Hagerty is a Tennessee native who founded a private equity firm, Hagerty Peterson. He spent several years in Japan with the Boston Consulting Group and later served in the White House of former President George H.W. Bush.
Japanese companies play a key role in the US economy, employing more than 800,000 American workers. They contributed $78 billion to US exports in 2014, according to the US Embassy in Tokyo. A long-time US resident of Tokyo who knows Hagerty by reputation said he had a reputation as a “typical management consultant — logical, thoughtful, and has no patience for trade rhetoric.” VOA
More Clinton emails released
The US State Department has released another 1,031 emails sent or received by Hillary Clinton in her official capacity during her tenure as Secretary of State. The agency was ordered by a federal court to process 1,850 pages of material received from the FBI by Tuesday. The released emails were part of those documents. Many of the documents are “near duplicates” of documents Clinton provided to the State Department in 2014 and have already been made public, State Department spokesman John Kirby said.
A “near duplicate,” according to the agency, would include emails identical to previously released chains that were forwarded from Clinton to aides with the note “Please print,” for example. Clinton deleted about 30,000 emails from the private server she used while secretary of state, saying they were not work related, before turning over thousands more to the government. But during its investigation, the FBI recovered some additional emails that could be relevant to the Freedom of Information Act request that has been driving the release. VOA
Apple withdraws New York Times app
Apple has withdrawn the New York Times from its China App Store, following a request from Chinese authorities. The paper said the move was aimed at preventing readers in China “from accessing independent news coverage”. Apple said they had been informed the app violated Chinese regulations but did not say what rules had been broken.
Western media have long been facing difficulties making their content available in China with many outlets frequently or permanently blocked. According to the New York Times, Apple removed both the English-language and Chinese-language apps from the App Store in China on 23 December.
The paper cited an Apple spokesperson as saying the firm had been “informed that the app is in violation of local regulations” which meant it had to be taken down. “When this situation changes, the app store will once again offer the New York Times app for download in China,” the spokesman said. The New York Times said they had asked Apple to reconsider the decision. BBC
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