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Accused Russian agent Maria Butina pleads guilty to attempting to sway US policy Raiders' Bryant, on IR, again suspended by NFL

Accused Russian agent Maria Butina pleads guilty to attempting to sway US policyA Russian woman has admitted to acting as an agent for the Kremlin to get close to the Republican party in an effort to influence US policies.  Maria Butina, 30, pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiracy in a court in Washington on Thursday, admitting to working under the direction of a top Russian official to infiltrate the National Rifle Association (NRA), a powerful gun rights group closely aligned with senior Republican politicians. She is the first Russian citizen to be convicted of working to shape US policy in the run up and through the 2016 election campaign, agreeing to co-operate with prosecutors for less prison time. Appearing before Judge Tanya Chutkan, she admitted to conspiring to work with Alexander Torshin, a former deputy governor of Russia's central bank, and two US citizens as a Russian agent from 2015 until her 2018 arrest.  Butina, a former graduate student at American University in Washington who publicly advocated for gun rights, was arrested in July and has been held in jail without bail ever since.  Maria Butina was said to be directed by Alexander Torshin, previously described as Vladimir Putin's "emissary" Credit: AP She initially pleaded not guilty to the charges against her but in the last week it was revealed she had reversed course and agreed to co-operate with prosecutors.   Her aim was to make contacts with officials at the NRA, conservative figures and 2016 presidential candidates in order to set up unofficial back channels with high-ranking American politicians. Butina is known to have met with the president's son, Donald Trump Jnr, during one of the NRA's conventions as well as reportedly hosting a party in Washington attended by Trump campaign aides in November 2016. Prosecutors told the court that Butina drafted a March 2015 "Diplomacy Project" that called for establishing unofficial channels of communication between high-ranking American politicians in order to help advance Russia's interests. In this courtroom sketch, Maria Butina, left, is shown next to her attorney Robert Driscoll Credit: AP To carry out the plan, Butina requested $125,000 (£98,000) from a Russian billionaire to attend conferences and set up "separate meetings with interested parties" such as other Russian businessmen or people with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they added. The prosecutors said Butina invited "powerful members" of the NRA for a visit to Moscow where they met with high-level Russian officials. Apparent photos of the NRA Moscow trip are posted on her social media accounts. After the visit, according to court records, she sent a Russian official a message apparently referencing the NRA saying, "We should let them express their gratitude now, we will put pressure on them quietly later." The alleged Russian agent was arrested in July Credit: Reuters Butina also hosted "friendship dinners" in the hope of establishing ties with people who "would have the ear of the next US presidential administration," prosecutors said. After the 2016 election, she proposed creating a dialogue with President Donald Trump's advisors, but the Russian official told her he did not think the foreign affairs ministry would "go for it," prosecutors said. The actions occurred during the same time period that US intelligence agencies have concluded Russia engaged in a campaign of propaganda and hacking to sow discord during the 2016 presidential race and boost Mr Trump's chances against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Butina was a gun rights activist Butina's lawyers previously identified the Russian official as Alexander Torshin, who was a deputy governor of Russia's central bank and was targeted with US Treasury Department sanctions in April.  One of the two Americans referenced in the prosecution's case was Paul Erickson, an conservative political activist who was romantically linked to Butina. His lawyer William Hurd said: "Paul Erickson is a good American. He has done nothing to harm our country and never would." Russian officials hit back at the case, calling it a "modern political inquisition" in comments quoted by the RIA state news agency. She faces a maximum of five years in prison and deportation. As part of her agreement prosecutors dropped a second charge of violating a law that requires foreigners working for their government to register with the US Justice Department. Her lawyer, Robert Driscoll, estimated that under sentencing guidelines for similar crimes Butina could face up to six months in prison.  Because of Butina's ongoing co-operation, the judge did not set a sentencing date but scheduled a hearing for February 12.  


Raiders WR Martavis Bryant, who was placed on IR earlier this month, has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL for a violation of the league's substance abuse policy.
'Christmas miracle': 3 suspected thieves rescued after days in West Virginia mine Brees gifts 174 players, coaches milestone balls

'Christmas miracle': 3 suspected thieves rescued after days in West Virginia mineThree people who disappeared in a closed West Virginia mine five days ago have been rescued and taken to a hospital in what a family member called a "Christmas miracle."


Drew Brees went the extra mile to show his appreciation to dozens of his past and present receivers, offensive linemen, coaches and mentors for the part they played in him breaking the NFL career passing-yardage record.
Yemen's warring parties agree to ceasefire in Hodeidah and U.N. role Zeke first RB to be fined for lowering of helmet

Yemen's warring parties agree to ceasefire in Hodeidah and U.N. roleAt the close of a week of talks in Sweden, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said a framework for political negotiations would be discussed at the next round of talks at the end of January between the Iranian-aligned Houthis and the Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Western nations, some of which supply arms and intelligence to the Saudi-led coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015, had pressed the two sides to agree confidence-building steps to pave the way for a wider truce and a political process to end the war, which has killed tens of thousands of people. The conflict has pushed Yemen, the poorest country on the Arabian Peninsula, to the verge of famine.


Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was fined $26,739 for lowering his helmet to initiate contact against Eagles defensive back Corey Graham. He was the first offensive player to be flagged for that penalty this season.
Chinese tech workers told not to travel to US 'unless it's essential' after Huawei exec arrested Tagovailoa (ankle) joins bowl practice for Tide

Chinese tech workers told not to travel to US 'unless it's essential' after Huawei exec arrestedTechnology researchers in China have been ordered to not travel to the US unless it is absolutely necessary, amid rising tensions between the two countries. Staff working in sensitive tech sectors were given the warning following the arrest of a Chinese tech executive in Canada, a source told the South China Morning Post. The warning comes after a similar order from US tech giant Cisco to some of its employees, which asked them the to any non-essential travel to China.


Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the SEC title game, participated in Friday's bowl practice but did not take part in one footwork drill.
Middle School Student Dumps Trump From His Name After Relentless Bullying FIU's Phillips played all season despite warrant

Middle School Student Dumps Trump From His Name After Relentless BullyingA middle school student in Delaware has been allowed to change his surname


FIU running back Shawndarrius Phillips was arrested earlier this week on a domestic battery charge, nearly four months after a warrant was issued for his arrest.


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Bolivia Views and Opinions
 
Why U.S. Engagement Policy Is The Correct One

Invariably, when one thinks of the efficacy of a nation’s military, the mind’s eye is drawn to the ability of that country to deliver a \"warhead onto the forehead\" of their enemies. Indeed, owing to the Pentagon’s slick packaging of the First Gulf War, modern conflict, in the American mind, became synonymous with high-tech toys, grainy videos of successful missile shots, and a quick resolution of hostilities.

Living Wages Are A Global Problem

The recent protests for an increased minimum wage are part of a larger global protest. The purpose is the same for low wage earners all over the world; increase wages to match the cost of living, and allow workers to form unions if desired and needed. The global protest has gained media attention all over the world, but critics claim that is the only accomplishment the movement will have.

Ukraine: Not What It Seems

After tense days of fighting this week, people in Ukraine are mourning the dead and celebrating the removal of President Victor Yanukovych from power. The final struggle that began on February 18, was the bloodiest endured by the protesters of Euromaidan. By February 22 the fighting was over.

In a Five to Four Decision, Voting Just Got Harder

In a five to four decision along party lines, the Supreme Court ruled on the controversial Shelby County v. Holder case. The ruling, believed by many sets the nation back decades in Civil Rights, while others see it as the fault of Congress dropping the ball on updating the act when it should have years ago.

Coup Or Civil War In Egypt

The day after new protests erupted in Egypt the military in a show of support presented an ultimatum to Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood-led government. Morsi was to step down from power and meet all of the demands of the Egyptian people, or face being removed by the military on Wednesday. As the ultimatum deadline draws closer in Egypt, Morsi refuses to leave, insisting that parliamentary elections are needed before he should be removed, and that he doesn't have permission from the United States to remove himself from power. Most recently he stated he will pay with his life to preserve the sanctity of the ballot box.

 

 
 
 
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