Pentagon Cloud Bidder Linked to Sanctioned Russian Oligarch

A technology company bidding for a Pentagon contract to store sensitive data—potentially including the U.S. nuclear codes—has close links with a firm associated with a sanctioned Russian oligarch, a BBC investigation has revealed. Viktor Vekselberg is said to have links to the C5 Group, an investment firm that has reportedly worked closely with the leading bidder, Amazon Web Services. The U.S. government sanctioned Vekselberg for his links to the Kremlin and agents working for the Mueller inquiry have questioned him and seized his electronic devices. Both C5 and Amazon Web Services say C5 is not involved in the bid on the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (Jedi) project, which would see military data held in a storage cloud rather than smaller servers across different departments within the Pentagon. Top military secrets would be held in the cloud, including classified details about weapons systems, military personnel, intelligence, and operations. The BBC has found an injection of Russian money in the C5 Group, some of which the report links to Vekselberg’s offices. Despite Amazon Web Services and C5 working together on a number of cloud projects all over the world, both companies deny having a close relationship.


Theresa May’s Conservative Party Calls Vote of No Confidence in PM

The British government was thrown into chaos Wednesday morning after it was confirmed the prime minister will face a no-confidence vote. The leadership challenge was instigated after 48 lawmakers from Theresa May’s own Conservative party issued letters of no confidence to officials. The vote will take place Wednesday. Lawmakers have expressed their fury at the deal May struck with the European Union on the U.K.’s exit from the bloc, with fears that it would leave the country bound by EU rules but with no influence over them. She canceled a vote Tuesday on the deal because it faced certain defeat. Conservative members of parliament will vote between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m local time (1 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET). May has been prime minister since shortly after the U.K. voted to leave the EU in 2016. If she loses the vote, the Conservative party will put forward at least one candidate to become the new prime minister. Speaking outside 10 Downing Street Wednesday morning, May vowed to fight the no confidence vote with “everything I’ve got” and said a leadership challenge now would risk delaying or even canceling Brexit.


Strasbourg Christmas Market Shooter Suspect Identified, but Still at Large

French authorities have detained five people in the hunt for a suspected extremist who opened fire on a Christmas market in Strasbourg, killing three and wounding at least 13. Police say the 29-year-old suspect, Cherif Chekatt, was wounded in a gunfight with soldiers after the Tuesday night attack but he escaped, possibly over the border to Germany. Chekatt is reported to have a criminal record mentioning 25 case,s including several serious cases of robbery. His apartment was searched by police Tuesday morning— hours before the shooting—in an investigation for attempted murder. It’s not known what roles police believe the five detained people may have had in the attack—the motive is still unclear. Eight of the injured are in serious condition; the city’s mayor said some had head wounds. France has gone on high alert as the manhunt continues.

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Next NY Attorney General Letitia James: I Will Use ‘Every Area of the Law’ to Investigate Trump

New York’s incoming attorney general says she plans to use “every area of the law” to investigate Donald Trump, his family, and his connections for any illegal activity when she takes up her post next month. “We will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well,” Letitia James, a Democrat, told NBC News. She will specifically look at any illegal activity in relation to Trump’s real-estate holdings in New York, the Trump Tower meeting with a Russian official in 2016, government subsidies Trump received, and the Trump Foundation. “We want to investigate anyone in his orbit who has, in fact, violated the law,” James said. Meanwhile, Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen is due in a Manhattan courtroom 11 a.m. Tuesday to learn his punishment for dodging taxes, lying to Congress, and violating campaign-finance laws. He stands to get around four years in prison, but his lawyers have argued for leniency because of his cooperation with federal investigators.


Woman Unwittingly Used in HIV Advertisement Awarded $125,000 in Damages

A woman whose picture was used in an HIV ad campaign without her knowledge has been awarded $125,000 in damages. Avril Nolan, who does not have HIV, was left “devastated” when a friend sent her the newspaper advert showing her face with the slogan: “I AM POSITIVE.” Justice Thomas Scuccimarra said in his ruling: “Ms. Nolan was not HIV positive, and no disclaimer to the effect that the person depicted as a model appears in the advertisement. Ms. Nolan did not give permission for the use of her photograph, taken in an entirely different context, and apparently thereafter sold.” Nolan had posed for the photo for a “street-style” magazine piece about her taste in music—but the picture was later sold to a photo agency that licensed it for the Division of Human Rights ad. When she contacted the campaign group through the photographer, the group said it wouldn't remove the image until she confirmed she wouldn’t hold it liable for the use of her image. Nolan asked for $1 million in damages, but the judge found $125,000 would be “reasonable compensation.”


California Wildfire Costs to Top Last Year’s $12 Billion Record

The financial cost of this year’s California wildfires is expected to soar past last year’s record of more than $12 billion, NBC News reports. Insurance claims and cleanup costs are both expected to hit unprecedented amounts, with the debris cleanup alone predicted to cost state and federal authorities at least $3 billion. Most of that work will happen in Northern California, where the deadly Camp Fire destroyed the city of Paradise and killed at least 86 people, making it the deadliest wildfire in the U.S. for a century. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spent $1.3 billion on debris removal in Northern California in 2017. Cleanup is expected to begin in January and take about a year to complete. Meanwhile, the insurance industry is expecting payouts exceeding last year’s record $11.8 billion. California Insurance Commissioner Davy Jones warned the increasing risk from wildfires in the state could force insurers to raise premiums or decline to sell policies entirely to homes in high-risk areas.


‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘The Shining’ Immortalized in the National Film Registry

Jurassic Park and The Shining are among 25 films being added to the National Film Registry to mark 30 years since its creation. The library has selected movies for preservation because of their cultural, historic, and artistic importance since the registry began in 1988. The 25 new films bring the total number to 750. Brokeback Mountain, My Fair Lady, and Cinderella will also receive the honor—Brokeback Mountain, released in 2005, will become the most recent film on the list. “These cinematic treasures must be protected because they document our history, culture, hopes, and dreams,” said Carla Hayden, the librarian of Congress.


Louisiana Police Chief Used ‘God’s Will’ to Justify Management Decisions, Lawsuit Alleges

A police chief in Louisiana has been accused of forcing religion on officers and citing “God’s will” to justify questionable promotions in a new lawsuit. So far, two former Port Allen police officers have filed federal civil-rights cases against both the Port Allen Police Department and Police Chief Esdron Brown, alleging that Brown sought to force religion on them, The Advocate reports. Robert Cannon Jr., who resigned from the Port Allen Police Department in April, alleges that Brown’s stress on religion and meetings geared toward religion created a hostile work environment. Cannon’s suit, filed last week, also reportedly maintained that Brown violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing to comply with a reasonable medical accommodation for him while out on patrol. In June, Patrick Marshall, another former officer, filed a similar case against the department and Brown, claiming the chief tried to force him to attend mandatory religious counseling meetings. When the officer declined, Brown allegedly threatened job suspension or termination, The Advocate reports.


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By The Beast

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