House committee grills Comey and Rogers on Trump and Russia: key points

FBI director confirms investigation of Trump campaigns ties to Russian government and smacks down several of the presidents tweets

The House intelligence committee hearing on Russian tampering in the US election has wrapped, as has day one of judge Neil Gorsuchs confirmation hearings. Heres what happened.

  • FBI director James Comey announced for the first time that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian governments efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russias efforts.
  • Trump campaign figures mentioned at the hearing included Michael Flynn, Carter Page, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, JD Gordon, Jeff Sessions and Kellyanne Conway. Comey declined to say whether the president was or is being personally investigated.
  • Comey knocked down Trumps assertion on Twitter that Barack Obama had wire tapped him. We do not have any information that supports those tweets, Comey said.
  • Republican chairman Devin Nunes admitted: We know there was not a physical wiretap at Trump Tower. However it is possible that other surveillance technology was used against President Trump and his associates.
  • Tweets sent from the @potus account during the hearing mischaracterized Comeys testimony and that of NSA director Michael Rogers. One tweet said the witnesses had told Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process.
  • Comey was asked about the tweet. Weve offered no opinion, have no view, have no information on potential impact, because its not something weve looked at, Comey said. It certainly wasnt our intention to say that today.
  • Rogers denied a White House claim that the Obama administration asked GCHQ to conduct surveillance on Trump, saying it would have been a violation of US law to ask the British to conduct such an operation.
  • Republicans called for punishment for anyone who leaked classified information to the press, concerning Flynns contacts with Russian operatives or other issues.One member promised to grill former CIA director John Brennan and former director of national intelligence James Clapper about leaks next week.
  • It emerged that the FBI investigation of Russian tampering was launched in late July, although the public did not learn of the investigation for months, well after the FBI saw fit to announce its investigation of Hillary Clintons emails.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/20/key-points-house-committee-hearing-trump-russia-comey

Taiwan to ask US for stealth fighters to combat China threat

Defence minister announces air force overhaul after defence review says island faces increased risk from Beijing

Taiwan has said it plans to upgrade its F-16 fighter jets and will seek cutting-edge stealth aircraft from the US in the face of a growing military threat from China.

Taiwans defence minister, Feng Shih-kuan, told lawmakers the country was focusing on inexpensive but effective asymmetric warfare techniques to combat threats in the air and seas. He said the budget amounted to 2.05% of Taiwans economy but that he hoped it would increase to nearly 3% next year.

The announcement follows the release of this years $11.4bn defence budget, an increase of less than 1% from last year, reflecting strains on the governments finances resulting from a heavy entitlements burden and slowing growth in the high-tech, export-oriented economy.

That compares with Chinas 7% rise in defence spending, announced this week, bringing its defence budget to about $151bn, the worlds second-largest after the US.

During Fengs announcement, Lieutenant General Chiang Chen-chung said Taiwans forces are able to strike Chinese bases across the 160km-wide Taiwan Strait. When asked if that strike ability extended to bases charged with operations against Taiwan as far as 1,300km away, Chiang said yes.

China considers the self-governing island to be its own territory, to be brought under its control by force if necessary. China has threatened to attack if Taiwan declares formal independence or if it considers peaceful unification no longer achievable. The sides split during a civil war in 1949.

In a defence review released every four years that maps out challenges and strategies, the defence ministry said Taiwan faced an increased threat from the air, sea and by missiles, thousands of which China has pointed at the island. It said Chinas immediate goals in a conflict would be to blockade Taiwan, use diverse military means to attack, and take control of outlying island groups.

The report also warned of the threat of cyber warfare, saying China has the means to attack both military and civilian networks on the island.

Without giving details, the report said Taiwan would also seek fighters able to take off vertically, more surface-to-air missiles and a revitalised navy deploying domestically made submarines and fast attack craft.

President Tsai Ing-wens government has renewed efforts to develop the domestic arms industry in response to difficulties in procuring weapons abroad because of Chinese diplomatic and economic pressure.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/17/taiwan-to-ask-us-for-stealth-fighters-to-combat-china-threat

Who is Derrick Watson, the Hawaii judge who blocked Trump’s latest travel ban?

He has made himself a lightning rod with his strongly worded ruling on the ban, but many have praised Watson as fair-minded and highly principled

The ink was barely dry on Judge Derrick Watsons order suspending Donald Trumps latest travel ban when the recriminations and conspiracy theories began.

One Fox News commentator called it judicial tyranny. President Trump himself called it unprecedented judicial overreach. On social media, amateur sleuths noted that Judge Watson had graduated from the same Harvard Law School class as Barack Obama (in 1991), and even noted that Obama had been in Hawaii on the day of the ruling, as though they had cooked it up together.

One thing is beyond doubt: Judge Derrick Kahala Watson, the only native Hawaiian currently serving as a US federal judge, has made himself a national lightning rod with a ruling that admirers and detractors alike have described as pointed and outspoken.

His 43-page document flatly describes the governments contentions in defense of the revised travel ban as untrue and says the administrations illogic is palpable. It is rare that judges are willing to stick their necks out so visibly. And Judge Watson hardly has a reputation as a hothead or a rabble-rouser. He is a product of Hawaiis prestigious private school system, attended Harvard as an undergraduate as well as a law student, and had a distinguished career as a federal prosecutor in northern California and Hawaii before being elevated to the federal bench. He has also served as a reserve captain in the US army.

Interviews with colleagues and friends by the Associated Press overnight suggested a man who was usually understated and fair-minded if also strict and highly principled. That was also the impression gleaned by the Senate when it voted unanimously to confirm Watson as a federal judge in 2013. At the time, President Obama praised him and five other judicial nominees for their talent, expertise, and fair-mindedness.

Certainly, Watson is not the first federal judge to take issue with the administrations attempts to impose a temporary ban on travelers from certain Muslim-majority countries. A similar restraining order was issued in early February by Judge James Robart in Seattle in response to the first draft of the administrations executive order, and Watsons ruling coincided with a similarly argued, though less broad, ruling from a federal judge in Maryland. All of them have argued that the travel ban looks a lot like an instrument of religious discrimination both because of what is in the executive orders themselves and because of what President Trump and his team have said about them on the campaign trail and in public appearances since the election.

There are indications, though, that Watsons viewpoint may have been further influenced by his Hawaiian heritage and his long record of advocacy for immigrant rights and civil rights. While with a San Francisco law firm in the early 2000s, he devoted hundreds of hours to pro bono cases defending the rights of Mexican restaurant workers being held in slave-like conditions and to landlord-tenant disputes.

The complaint filed by Hawaiis attorney general against the Trump travel ban contained an explicit reference to some of the most painful chapters in the islands history the Chinese Exclusion Acts and the imposition of martial law and internment of Japanese Americans following the bombing ofPearl Harbor. At the time, the US supreme court upheld the governments argument similar to Trumps that it had the executive authority to defend national security as it saw fit. But the courts ruling in Korematsu v United States has since been described as a stain on American jurisprudence and has been widely repudiated in federal court rulings if never explicitly overturned.

If you have an order taking us back half a century to a time when there was discrimination on the basis of national origin or religion, Hawaiis attorney general, Doug Chin, told reporters after Watsons ruling, thats something we have to speak up against.

Watsons suspension of the travel ban rested on the argument that the plaintiffs, including the head of the Muslim Association of Hawaii, had a strong likelihood of prevailing at a full trial. That conclusion, though, rests on a reading of case law that many more conservative jurists and commentators do not share particularly when it comes to considering comments by President Trump and administration officials as well as the text of the executive order itself.

Watsons imaginative reasoning in Hawaii v Trump asserts a new judicial power to disregard formal law if the presidents personal words create a basis for mistrusting his motives, conservative commentator David Frum wrote in a column worrying about the kind of precedent this could set for future administrations of either party persuasion. In the age of Trump, many will be sympathetic to this judicial power but it is crammed with dangers, too.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/16/derrick-watson-hawaii-judge-trump-travel-ban

Trump’s loose talk came back to haunt him in judge’s travel ban ruling

Hawaii judges insistence that Trumps talk of banning Muslims must be taken literally is a reminder of the enduring power of language

For months, critics of the president have been told that they should take Trumps words seriously, but not literally.

On Wednesday night federal district judge Derrick K Watson refused to take the bait. He insisted that Trumps words on banning Muslims should be taken seriously and literally.

Judge Watson made headlines when he granted a temporary restraining order halting Trumps latest effort to ban entry of people from six predominantly Muslim nations into the United States.

The judge found that the executive order violates the constitutions establishment clause and discriminates against a religious group.

His decision galvanized attention because it set up a new clash between Trump and the judiciary, a clash that the president eagerly took up when he told a large and supportive audience in Nashville, Tennessee, that the judges order striking down what he called a watered down version of the first order was an unprecedented judicial overreach.

Yet as important as substance of the judges decision, and the clash that it foretells, is, what may be even more important is the lesson that it offers about the enduring power of language.

The judge set out to determine if the revised executive order, which now makes no reference to religion, was simply a pretext for an unconstitutional act of religious discrimination. To do so he recalled the many things that the president said about the purpose of the executive order he issued, both before and after his took office.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/15/trump-travel-ban-muslims-hawaii-judge-power-words

John McCain tells Trump: present wiretapping evidence or retract the claim

Senior Republican calls on president to prove extraordinary allegation that his predecessor tapped phones in Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign

Senior Republican John McCain has told Donald Trump to either present evidence proving Barack Obama was involved in wiretapping his phones or retract the claim.

McCains demand came after the House intelligence committee asked the president for evidence that phones at Trump Tower were tapped during the campaign.

I think the president has one of two choices: either retract or to provide the information that the American people deserve, because if his predecessor violated the law, President Obama violated the law, we have got a serious issue here to say the least, McCain said.

Trump asserted in a tweet last week: Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my wires tapped in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism! He continued the allegation against Obama in other tweets but offered no evidence.

The committees request for evidence by Monday was made in a letter sent to the justice department by the House committee chairman, Republican Devin Nunes, and the panels ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff, a senior congressional aide said on Saturday. The aide wasnt authorised to discuss the request by name and requested anonymity.

Obamas director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has said that nothing matching Trumps claims took place. Despite the denial, Trump has asked Congress to investigate.

During the past week, Schiff said the committee would answer the presidents call to investigate the claim. He also said he would ask the FBI director, James Comey, directly when he appears later this month before the full committee, which is investigating Russian activities during the election.

On Sunday, Schiff said he doubted there was any evidence of wiretapping but that Comey and others called to testify at the upcoming hearing would be in a position to have to know.

I think on March 20 if not before well be able to put this to rest, Schiff told George Stephanopoulos on ABCs This Week. I dont think anyone has any question about this, George. The only question is why the president would make up such a thing.

McCain said Trump could clear this up in a minute if he were to call the director of the CIA, director of national intelligence and say, OK, what happened?

The president had an obligation to provide evidence that Obama broke the law or retract his claim, the Arizona Republican said.

I do believe on issues such as this, accusing a former president of the United States of something which is not only illegal, but just unheard of, that requires corroboration. Ill let the American people be the judge, but this is serious stuff, McCain said on CNNs State of the Union.

Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to the president, said on Sunday on Fox News Channels MediaBuzz that the House and Senate intelligence committees had agreed to investigate and well make a comment after those findings are complete.

Nunes has said that so far he has not seen any evidence to back up Trumps claim and has suggested the news media were taking the presidents weekend tweets too literally.

The president is a neophyte to politics hes been doing this a little over a year, Nunes told reporters this past week.

Other lawmakers also have asked for evidence.

Declaring that Congress must get to the bottom of Trumps claim, senators Lindsey Graham and Sheldon Whitehouse asked Comey and the acting deputy attorney general, Dana Boente, to produce the paper trail created when the justice departments criminal division secures warrants for wiretaps.

Associated Press contributed to this report

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/13/john-mccain-tells-trump-present-wiretapping-evidence-or-retract-the-claim

Boston St Patricks Day parade to allow gay veterans to march

OutVets group had said no to marching without rainbow flag, a symbol of gay pride, which is on their banner and jackets

Organizers of Bostons St Patricks Day parade reversed course on Friday and said they would allow a group of gay veterans to march in this years event.

The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council announced on the parades Twitter account that it had signed an acceptance letter that would clear the way for OutVets to participate.

OutVets did not immediately say whether it would accept the invitation to march.
We are in receipt of a letter from the allied war council, and we are actively reviewing it, said Dee Dee Edmondson, a lawyer for the group.

An earlier vote by the council to bar OutVets from marching drew immediate condemnation from high-profile politicians, some of whom said they would not march if the gay veterans were excluded. It caused some sponsors to back out and stirred up a furor on social media.

It was unclear if the reversal of the decision was a result of a second vote by the council. I decided this is a wrong that has to be corrected, the parades lead organizer, Tim Duross, told WHDH-TV.

Earlier, OutVets executive director Bryan Bishop said the vets had been told the original decision to bar them was because of their rainbow symbols. Bishop said the council offered to allow the group to march if its members did not display the rainbow flag, a symbol of gay pride, which is on their banner and their jackets.
The group said no.

I almost fell out of the chair at that point, said, You gotta be kidding me, Bishop said.

He said OutVets has displayed the rainbow at the parade the last two years. It infuriates me to look at the veterans that I know, gay and straight, who have served this country with valor and honor and distinction, and just because youre a veteran who happens to be gay your service is somehow less than someone who is not of the LGBT community or someone whos not gay, he said.

Edmondson, the OutVets lawyer, described the letter as generic and said it did not make fully clear whether the gay group would be allowed to display its banner. OutVets was first allowed to participate in the parade in 2015, in what was seen as a groundbreaking decision after parade organizers had, for decades, resisted the inclusion of gay groups. The case went to the US Supreme Court, which in 1995 upheld the councils right to bar gay groups on free speech grounds.

The council said in a statement on Thursday its decision had been misinterpreted.
The council is accepting of all people and organizations, but it will not permit messages that conflict with the overall theme of the parade, it said.
That decision resulted in backlash from other veterans organizations.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/11/boston-st-patricks-day-parade-to-allow-gay-veterans-to-march

Bill Clinton warns US and Britain face an ‘identity crisis’ amid nationalist surge

Clintons first appearance since the election was at the launch of Yitzhak Rabin biography, where he drew parallels to Israel turmoil that led to his assassination

Bill Clinton, the former US president, has warned that America, Britain and other parts of the world are embroiled in an identity crisis as nationalist movements carve divisions within borders.

Clinton was making his first major public appearance on Thursday since his wife Hillarys shock election defeat by Donald Trump, which robbed him of a widely trailed return to the White House.

Appearing relaxed and in good humour, the 42nd president spoke at the launch of a biography of Yitzhak Rabin, the late prime minister of Israel, at the Brookings Institution thinktank in Washington. He made no reference to Trump or the bruising election but suggested that the rise of nationalism echoes the turmoil in Israel that led to the 1995 assassination of Rabin.

In the microcosm of the Middle East he prefigured the battle that is now raging across the world, that you see in America, you see in the Brexit vote, you see in the Philippine election, you see in the debates being held in the Netherlands and France, all over, where people who claim to want the nation state are actually trying to have a pan-national movement to institutionalise separatism and division within national borders all over the world, Clinton said.

And nothing strikes people as unusual about that, in thinking that that loyalty is more important than the loyalty to the traditions, the rules, the laws, the development of your own nation. This is a global deal. Its like were all having an identity crisis at once and it is the inevitable consequence of the economic and social changes which have occurred at increasingly rapid pace.

Rabins rise to become prime minister for the second time, putting some old adversaries in government, offering Israelis assurance that they could vote on a final peace deal and trying to reconcile conflicts within the country has lessons for the present, Clinton added.

It is worth remembering that what happened 20 years ago is a microcosm of what is coming full bloom across the world today and these things are going to have to be worked out. He believed in the end wed be better off sharing the future.

In what could be construed as a dig at Trump, the former president said: I think if you believe that climate change is real, if you believe that technology will give terrorists more options to kill people and basically delegitimise the whole idea of the nation state, then the idea of institutionalised internal conflict in nation after nation after nation is not the wisest strategy to pursue.

Clinton, who campaigned for his wife across the country and recounted her story at the Democratic national convention only to suffer crushing disappointment in November, observed that people often have found more political success and met the deep psychic needs people have had to feel that their identity requires them to be juxtaposed against someone else.

He challenged the audience: It always comes down to two things are we going to live in an us and them world, or a world that we live in together? If you got that, in every age and time, the challenges we face can be resolved in a way to keep us going forward instead of taking us to the edge of destruction.

Last years election featured moments that shocked even veteran observers when at the second presidential debate Trump paraded women who have previously accused Clinton of sexual abuse. On Thursday the Democrat decried an erosion of standards and said: We have to find a way to bring simple, personal decency and trust back to our politics.

He called the day of Rabins assassination by an extremist Jew after Rabin had signed the Oslo peace accords with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as maybe his worst day in the White House. I remain convinced that had he lived we would have achieved a comprehensive agreement with the Palestinians by 1998 and wed be living in a different world today.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/09/bill-clinton-trump-yitzhak-rabin-rise-nationalism

Donald Trump says nuclear threat from North Korea has entered ‘new phase’

US president told Japanese PM he is 100% with Tokyo as US moves Thaad missile defence system into South Korea following Pyongyang missile launches

The threat posed by North Korea to the US and its allies has entered a new phase, Donald Trump said on Tuesday, a day after the regime test-launched four ballistic missiles towards Japan.

In phone talks on Tuesday, Trump told Japans prime minister, Shinzo Abe, that the US stood 100% with Tokyo after three of the intermediate-range missiles landed in the sea off Japans north-west coast.

President Trump told me that the United States was with Japan 100%, and that he wanted his comments to be communicated to the Japanese people, Abe told reporters at his residence. He said he wanted us to trust him as well as the United States 100%.

Japan and the United States confirmed that the latest missile firing by North Korea is a clear challenge to the region and the international community, and that its threat has entered a new phase.

The comments came as the US said the first elements of its controversial missile defence system had arrived in South Korea on Tuesday. The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) anti-missile system is meant to intercept and destroy short- and medium-range ballistic missiles during the last part of their flights, the US Pacific Command said in a statement.

Continued provocative actions by North Korea, to include yesterdays launch of multiple missiles, only confirm the prudence of our alliance decision last year to deploy Thaad to South Korea, US Pacific Commander Admiral Harry Harris said.

China has denounced Thaads deployment, saying its powerful radar would compromise its security.

South Koreas Yonhap news agency, citing military sources, said the system could be operational as early as April, well ahead of schedule.

Trump and Abe spoke as the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, declared the launches a success and warned that they were part of a training exercise for an attack on US military bases in Japan, home to almost 50,000 American troops.

The four ballistic rockets launched simultaneously are so accurate that they look like acrobatic flying corps in formation, the state-run Korean Central News Agency quoted Kim as saying. The regime also released images of the missile launches, with a smiling Kim in attendance.

Jon Passantino (@passantino)

North Korea releases new photos of what it says is yesterdays missile launch with Kim Jong Un in attendance pic.twitter.com/P6MBiLmMV3

March 7, 2017

The launches were seen as a protest against the start of joint military exercises involving South Korea and the US that Pyongyang regards as a rehearsal for an invasion of North Korea.

A day after operation Foal Eagle began last Wednesday, North Koreas army, deploying the same vitriolic language it reserves for the annual drills, warned that it was ready to immediately launch its merciless military counteractions if South Korean or US forces fired even a single shell into waters near the divided Korean peninsula.

North Koreas ambassador to the UN, Ja Song-nam, said the joint exercises were driving the region towards nuclear disaster. It may go over to an actual war, Ja said, adding: Consequently, the situation on the Korean Peninsula is again inching to the brink of a nuclear war.

Abe said that Trump, who was diplomatically wrong-footed by a North Korean missile launch last month, had reaffirmed Washingtons unwavering commitment to Japans security.

The leaders agreed that Mondays launches were in violation of UN resolutions banning Pyongyang from developing ballistic missile technology. Washington and Tokyo have requested a meeting of the UN security council on Wednesday.

Abe said he had told Trump that Japan was willing to take on a large role and responsibility to enhance the deterrence provided by the Japan-US alliance.

Trump has yet to state how he intends to address the growing North Korean threat from ballistic missiles, amid evidence that the regime is edging closer to acquiring the ability to marry a miniaturised nuclear warhead with a long-range missile capable of striking the US mainland.

The UN has imposed six rounds of sanctions since the North conducted its first nuclear test in 2006, but they have failed to dent the regimes quest to build what it claims is a defensive nuclear arsenal.

Trump has not publicly commented on Mondays missile launch, but his ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said on Twitter that the world wont allow North Korea to continue on its destructive path.

Choi Kang, an analyst at the Seoul-based Asan Institute for Policy Studies, said the launch was a warning to Tokyo. North Korea is demonstrating that its target is not just limited to the Korean peninsula any more but can extend to Japan at any time and even the US, he said.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/07/donald-trump-threat-north-korea-new-phase

Trump golf resort and Scottish planners clash over the environment

US presidents Scotland development is under fire as it seeks to expand its boutique hotel and ditch its ecological monitoring group

The Trump Organization is facing a new battle with Scottish planners and conservationists over the protection of rare dunes and wildlife at its Aberdeenshire golf resort.

Trump International Golf Course Scotland has challenged a key part of the planning permission it won for the resort in 2008 as it pushes ahead with plans for a second 18-hole golf course and an extension to its boutique hotel.

The company, now being run by Donald Trumps son Eric, applied to Aberdeenshire council last week to discharge clauses in its planning permission which require it to run an environmental advisory group to oversee construction across the rare, legally protected dune system used for the course.

To the alarm of conservationists, it wants to replace the group, which Trump unilaterally closed down in 2013, with annual environmental inspections for the next three years.

In January, the president signalled a fresh offensive against out of control environmental regulations in the US as he offered to cut pollution controls on the car industry, while declaring he was to a large extent an environmentalist who had won awards.

The proposal risks putting the Trump Organization into conflict with Scottish government planning inspectors who ruled in December that robust environmental monitoring of any new building was needed at the resort.

Insisting Trump follow the 2008 master plan in full, the inspectors said the site was environmentally sensitive and part of a legally protected site of special scientific interest (SSSI). They said ecological monitoring may need to be strengthened.

It will be essential for robust environmental assessments to inform detailed development proposals and to ensure necessary environmental safeguards are in place. Environmental assessments and management plans concluded some years ago may require to be revised, updated, extended or amended, they said.

The inspectors also objected to Aberdeenshires proposals to include Trumps latest plan to build 850 private homes and 1,900 leisure accommodation units because that new scheme was too dissimilar to the plans approved in 2008.

They said the Trump Organization should stick to the original plan, requiring the US company to pay for a primary school and affordable homes if it tries to build a timeshare complex and private housing estate. Aberdeenshire council is expected to accept the inspectors recommendations on Thursday 9 March.

The Menie Environmental Monitoring Advisory Group (Memag), named after the estate where the resort is based, was originally proposed by Trumps advisers to placate environmental groups and the government conservation agency Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

Ecologists objected strenuously to the resort because it involved bulldozing large parts of one of Scotlands rarest coastal dune habitats protected by the Foveran Links SSSI mentioned by planning inspectors.

Those objections played a large part in forcing Scottish ministers, who publicly backed Trumps plans, to put the resort application to a formal planning inquiry. It approved the plans in 2008 partly on condition that SNH and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the countrys water and air pollution watchdog, had seats on Memag.

To the alarm of environment groups, the Trump Organization has since allowed Memag to lapse. It last met in January 2013. After that point, the Trump organisation said it had fulfilled its purpose and been closed down. Aberdeenshire failed to take any action to force Trump to keep it running.

TIGCS has now written to the council saying it had carried out an internal review which found no evidence Memag added value to the monitoring work by council officials now that its first golf course had been built.

Even though it originally proposed setting it up, its report to the council said the review had decided it was an unnecessary and disproportionate development management tool in the context of this development.

There are no known examples of a Memag mechanism elsewhere in Scotland in relation to golf course maintenance and operation.

James Reynolds, of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland, said they were not surprised. The Trump Organizations environmental commitments never seemed like anything more than greenwash at the time of application, in a cynical bid to secure consent for the golf development, he said.

It should not be forgotten that the irreversible environmental damage to this nationally important site of special scientific interest was justified by the then Scottish government due to its supposed national benefits for the economy, jobs and more. But now, with the promise of those myriad national benefits open to doubt, it begs the question was it worth it?

Debra Storr, an ex-councillor who voted against the original planning application, said attempts to remove Memag from the planning approval should be opposed.

I believe it was actively undermined by the Trump Organization and the council was negligent in permitting this, she said. The formal abandonment of Memag would send a further signal to Trump that he may trample the environment with impunity.

TIGCS has been approached for a comment.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/mar/05/trump-company-and-scottish-planners-clash-over-environment

Snap shares continue to rise after IPO but analysts remain wary

Shares in Snapchat company opened Thursday at $24 and rose to $27 by Friday, but analysts predict struggles similar to those of Twitter, Groupon and Fitbit

Shares in Snap Inc, the picture messaging app that went public yesterday with a valuation of $29bn this week, continued to soar on Friday as some analysts warned against hot air fuelling the dramatic rise.

Snap priced its initial public offering at $17 a share, and opened up for trading Thursday at $24. In trading since, the stock has continued to be buoyed by investor excitement, rising above $27 per share by Friday at noon.

The stock rose substantially after the media firm NBCUniversal disclosed a $500m stake taken at the initial public offering (IPO).

The initial success of the offering raises the likelihood that the tech sector could soon present further public offerings, but analysts remain wary.

In a note to clients, the Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry compared Snap to Fitbit, Groupon and Twitter all companies that have struggled to maintain valuations since going public.

Let all the hot air go out, let the private investors cash out, lets see how the Industry evolves in 1.5 years, Chowdhry wrote, according to the Wall Street Journal.

His warning was repeated by other tech sector analysts concerned that Snap will follow a pattern of hot, then cooling, tech IPOs.

Euphoria could cause a short-term disconnect between fundamentals and valuation, warned the Susquehanna Financial analyst Shyam Patil in a note to investors.

Patil said that while there was still room for near-term upside, we struggle to see SNAP as a long-term investment.

On Thursday, the Instinet analyst Anthony DiClemente urged investors to reduce their holdings of Snap, warning that the company is already seeing a slowdown in the growth of daily average users and average revenue per users.

But in a letter to employees, the NBCUniversal CEO, Steve Burke, said the company had invested in Snap as part of an aggressive strategy to capitalize on increasing digital content consumption.

It is rare to have the opportunity to invest at this stage in a company as visionary and dynamic as Snap, Burke said.

He said NBC had invested over $1.5bn in digital businesses in the last 18 months, adding that Snaps CEO, Evan Spiegel, and his team had done an outstanding job building Snap into an extremely innovative and relevant company.

Meanwhile, beneficiaries of Snaps IPO include a private Catholic high school in Californias Silicon Valley that made $24m. St Francis High Schools president, Simon Chiu, said the school would use the funds for financial aid, professional development, teacher training and funding of school programs.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/mar/03/snap-stock-price-ipo-analysts-wary