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U.S. Spies, Seeking to Retrieve Cyberweapons, Paid Russian Peddling Dirt on Trump

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, New York Times

U.S. Spies, Seeking to Retrieve Cyberweapons, Paid Russian Peddling Dirt on Trump

After months of secret negotiations, a shadowy Russian bilked American spies out of $100,000 last year, promising to deliver stolen National Security Agency cyberweapons in a deal he insisted would also include compromising material on President Donald Trump, according to U.S. and European intelligence officials. The cash, delivered in September, was intended as the first installment of a $1 million payout, according to U.S. officials, the Russian and communications reviewed by The New York Times. The theft of the secret hacking tools had been devastating to the NSA, and the agency was struggling to get a full inventory of what was missing.

Inquiry Into Soldiers’ Deaths Urges Curtailing West Africa Missions

A draft military investigation into the deadly ambush of U.S. soldiers in Niger in October calls for the Pentagon to scale back the number of ground missions in West Africa, and to strip commanders in the field of some authority to send troops on potentially high-risk patrols. While U.S. troops will continue accompanying local forces on military patrols across West Africa and the continent’s Sahel region, the missions will be vetted more rigorously than they have been over the past year, according to two military officials with knowledge of the findings who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Vatican Inches Closer to Deal With Chinese, Raising Catholic Fears

Pope Francis and his diplomats have been quietly pouring energy into negotiations with the Chinese government that could help end a decades-long dispute over control of the Catholic Church in the country. But as signs of a possible breakthrough have emerged, some Catholics fear that the Vatican, in its eagerness for a deal, could betray clerics and parishioners who have illicitly practiced their faith for decades and risked arrest and persecution by worshipping in the underground church. They are also alarmed that a deal could end the independence for which the underground church has long stood.

Colombian Rebels Suspend Election Campaign, Undermining Peace

The deal that ended decades of war in Colombia hinged on a simple formula: The rebels would surrender their weapons, and in exchange, earn the right to run for office in the country’s democracy. But on Friday the former fighters said they were suspending their campaign. Their activists were being killed, they said, and threats were mounting against those who remained — including their top commander, who is running for president. While the decision does not send the country back to war, it does put Colombia’s peace into a kind of limbo.

Oxfam, British Charity, Admits Sexual Misconduct by Workers in Haiti

Oxfam, one of Britain’s largest charities, acknowledged Friday that staff members committed “sexual misconduct” in Haiti in 2011, after a news report revealed that senior officials there had hired prostitutes, including for sex parties. Oxfam fired four people and allowed three others to resign after an investigation, which also found that drivers were sometimes ordered to pick up prostitutes and that orgies were held at houses near Port-au-Prince that were used by the organization’s staff. The employees included Oxfam’s chief official for Haiti relief and other senior staff members, according to the article, which cited a confidential report by the charity.

Fight Over Cambodian Leader’s Facebook ‘Likes’ Reaches a U.S. Court

One of Cambodia’s leading opposition figures has asked a federal court in California to force Facebook to reveal details of its dealings with Hun Sen, the country’s authoritarian prime minister, arguing that he has used the platform to manipulate public opinion and strengthen his hold on power. Lawyers for the opposition politician, Sam Rainsy, filed a petition Thursday in the Northern District of California asking that Facebook be compelled to release records of advertising purchases by Hun Sen and his allies. Sam Rainsy says Hun Sen has used Facebook to spread false news stories and death threats directed at political opponents.

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