The Morning Jolt

Iranians Execute Scientist Mentioned in Clinton’s E-mails

Yes, the Iranian regime executed a nuclear scientist who reportedly helped U.S. intelligence who was mentioned in Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. From this, one might think that Clinton’s insecure server got the man killed. It probably didn’t help Amiri, but the story is a bit more complicated than that.

Back in May, 2015:

New Hillary Clinton emails released by the State Department appear to lift the curtain on the bizarre circumstances surrounding Shahram Amiri, an Iranian nuclear scientist who claims to have been abducted by the CIA.

The just-released emails, which were sent to Clinton back in 2010, seem to support what State Department sources have long maintained: that Amiri was not abducted, but a defector and paid informant who changed his mind about helping the U.S.

Amiri’s behavior was contradictory and complicated. One theory is that he wanted to get paid by the Americans — the Washington Post cited sources saying Amiri was paid $5 million — and then return to Iran, claiming that he had been taken against his will. Others wondered if his family was being threatened. Depending upon his motive, Amiri was daring, crazy, stupid, or engaging in a noble act of self-sacrifice.

Amiri’s complicated story began in 2009, when he mysteriously disappeared while on a religious pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. Almost immediately, Tehran accused the U.S. of abducting him. The U.S. denied the accusation, saying it had no knowledge of Amiri’s whereabouts.

Fast forward to nearly a year later, when a series of videos surfaced online of a man claiming to be Amiri.

On them, he denied being a defector and claimed to have been hiding out from CIA operatives in Virginia. In a subsequent video, however, he said he was living freely in Arizona.

Two weeks later, on July 14, 2010, CNN reported that Amiri had returned to Tehran after going to Iran’s interest section at the embassy of Pakistan in Washington.

Iran publicly greeted him as a returning hero; but apparently right after the public celebrations ended, he was arrested and tortured in prison.

You may see the stories indicating that being named in Hillary Clinton’s e-mails led to Amiri’s ultimate fate. It probably has a lot more to do with his decision to return to Iran.

The news this weekend:

The spokesman for the Iranian judiciary confirmed on Sunday that Amiri had been hanged, claiming he had given away state secrets. The semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje’i as saying that Amiri had been convicted of spying and put to death after his sentence was upheld by the supreme court.

Did Clinton’s e-mail get Amiri killed? Not directly, but it’s unnerving to see she was discussing such material on an insecure system. We don’t know for certain that the Iranians had successfully hacked into Clinton’s server — as FBI Director Comey said, hackers are good at covering their tracks — but it seems foolish to assume Tehran could not have. Friendly references to Amiri in private e-mail by Hillary and her staff would destroy his claims to his captors that he wasn’t voluntarily helping American intelligence.

Amiri was probably a dead man the moment he decided to return to Tehran, no matter how secure Clinton’s server was. Having said that, it’s hard to believe that this story won’t discourage other potential defectors. Getting away from a hostile regime is dangerous enough for the defector and everyone he cares about; now there’s always the chance that your name might pop up in some e-mail, sealing your doom.

Bush: ‘You Help the Man That Won!’ Note Which Bush Said It, However . . .

When extended families gather together around the Thanksgiving dinner table in late November this year, how many will have awkward, combative, or tense conversations about the election?

No matter how much you’re picturing your family’s discussion as looking like a Hatfield-McCoy wedding party, how do you think it will go compared to the Bush family Thanksgiving?

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush is asking Texas Republicans to support the Republican presidential nominee — though he has not endorsed Donald Trump.

Bush said it’s time to put aside lingering tensions from the primary — in which Trump defeated his father, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — to back the nominee, the the Texas Tribune reported.

“From Team Bush, it’s a bitter pill to swallow, but you know what? You get back up and you help the man that won, and you make sure that we stop Hillary Clinton,” Bush said, according to video provided by someone in the audience.

Bush was Saturday speaking as the Texas GOP’s victory chairman, responsible for overseeing the party’s statewide campaign in November. He had previously been criticized for taking the role without endorsing Trump.

However the election turns out, Uncle George will probably have some thoughts, judging from his comments from last week.

Without naming Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, former President George W. Bush delivered an incisive critique of his policies of “isolationism, nativism and protectionism” at a private fundraiser in Cincinnati on Tuesday for Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, according to four people who attended.

Asked about the future of the Republican Party, Mr. Bush said, “As long as everyone feels welcome, I think we’ll succeed,” according to Mr. Wenstrup.

Rio’s Secret Plan Revealed: Lower Expectations, Then Seem to Do Okay

The good news is, despite serious concerns about Rio de Janeiro’s ability to host these summer Olympic games, that no athletes have been devoured by giant toxic sludge monsters . . . so far. In fact, most of the Olympic competitions progressed without problems this weekend. But the concerns about disorganization and crime appeared well-founded:

Winds wreaked havoc on the second full day of competition, forcing the cancellation of rowing races and delays to tennis and kayaking, while spectators ran for cover from flying signs, cafe umbrellas and other debris torn from their moorings.

Games organizers, who were already looking to fix the long queues at security checkpoints that marred the first day, also faced new security scares. Portugal’s education minister was robbed at knifepoint on Saturday at the Olympic lake. He escaped unharmed and the assailant was arrested, Brazilian authorities said.

How would you like to hear this assurance? “Relax, it was one of those low-speed bullets.”

The bullet which flew through the roof of a media tent at the Olympic Equestrian Center on Saturday came from a nearby slum, according to a Brazilian official.

During the lunch break of the first day of the evening competition, a large bullet pierced the roof of the tent and landed on the floor. The competition was not disrupted and nobody was hurt.

“According to the security forces the bullet came from a community far from here,” organizing committee spokesman Mario Andrada said on Sunday as investigations continued. “They were aiming at the police blimp which carried cameras.

“The same source, which is the Minister of Defense, says the first findings showed that the bullet arrived . . . with low energy and low speed.”

Security forces would not say if they are close to an arrest but are looking at footage from cameras on the blimp.

Does Goodyear have these problems?

Ah, those charming locals!

Several reporters heard chants of “Zika!” aimed at American players Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat before each would hit serves late in their match against Poland’s Monika Brzostek and Kinga Kolosinska on Sunday morning at Copacabana Beach.

It’s not clear why the largely Brazilian crowd chose Fendrick and Sweat as the recipients of the chant, as neither player has made a public comment about fears of the Zika virus. But with several American athletes dropping out of the Olympics because of concerns over the virus — Hope Solo of the U.S. women’s soccer team has been a prime target — it’s unsurprising the crowd would lump Fendrick and Sweat in.

Speaking of Zika . . .

That’s It. Unleash the Genetically-Modified Mosquitos!

Meanwhile, as noted last week, more and more cases of Zika are popping up in Florida. God help you if you own a business in a neighborhood declared to be at high risk, such as Wynwood:

The always-popular Wynwood was noticeably empty of its usual weekend crowds because of Zika.

Several shop owners and managers CBS4’s Donna Rapado tried to speak with turned her away. They didn’t want to draw more attention to the situation.

One eclectic plant shop owner did tell Rapado off camera that on Saturday she only had one sale — and it didn’t happen until about 5 p.m. “It’s actually been pretty much a ghost town.”

Some doctors argue that the absence of business in Wynwood reflects a panic, and that the coverage of the Zika virus is alarmist:

Chavoustie and his friend, another doctor, were discussing the Zika virus and the effect on Wynwood. “It’s bizarre,” he said.

“You can pull up to a restaurant, get out of your car and walk 12 feet into the restaurant,” he said. “You’re not going to be assaulted by an aedes aegypti mosquito.”

The doctors believe the situation is “overblown by the media,” because most infected people show no symptoms, and those who do recover in a week.

They would know. Last Monday, they returned from their annual medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic, where mosquitoes carry much deadlier diseases, like chikungunya and dengue.

Simple precautions, like wearing insect repellent with DEET and long-sleeved clothing, do a lot of good, he said.

The idea of genetically altering a mosquito to reduce the population seems like a pretty nifty tool — except everyone’s seen Jurassic Park, and absorbed the lesson that “life finds a way” and/or that when scientists start altering the DNA of animals, it usually ends with the animals running around eating people.

This is not the last hurdle Oxitec faces in turning its dream of disease-obliterating mosquitoes into reality. The company will have to win the approval of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, which plans to vote on the proposal after issuing a survey testing local sentiment of Keys residents this fall. While past surveys have shown the project to have a majority of support, it has also had vocal naysayers. Some fear the environmental impacts that removing the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, a non-native species, might have. Others have more imaginative objections, such as conspiracy theories about the project.

Oxitec’s mosquitoes are engineered to include two copies of the baby-mosquito killing genes, overriding natural selection to make it almost certain that their offspring receive the killer gene from dad. Oxitec claims that trials in Brazil, Panama and the Cayman Islands have reduced mosquito populations by 90%, calling the success “an unprecedented level” of human control over nature. (The World Health Organization, which has also studied using such tactics against disease, has stated that while the technology “has demonstrated the ability to reduce the [mosquito] populations in small-scale field trials” there is still “an absence of data on epidemiological impact.”)

ADDENDA: Our John Fund offers an update on the latest undercover video from James O’Keefe, exposing how easy it is for someone to vote in another person’s name in Michigan:

Last week in Michigan, O’Keefe struck again, testing the state’s voter-ID law, which allows non-ID holders to vote if they merely fill out an affidavit claiming they are who they say they are. Such affidavits are almost never checked. Using this ruse, O’Keefe told different poll workers he was Detroit mayor Mike Duggan, Wayne State University Law School dean Jocelyn Benson, and columnist Nancy Kaffer of the Detroit Free Press — all whom strongly oppose voter-ID laws. In each case, poll workers offered him primary ballots for the person he was claiming to be. He was also offered the ballot of legendary Michigan rapper Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Bruce Mathers III.

In all but one sting, the poll workers offered him a ballot, though he never actually accepted a ballot or cast an illegal vote.

Come on, poll workers. Look at this guy. Remember his face. It’s bad enough when one of O’Keefe’s anonymous staffers fools you, but O’Keefe himself? Inexcusable!

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