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White House: We’re inviting Putin to Washington for another summit this fall

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One smart thing Trump could do this fall to make voters forget all of this Russia business before the midterms is, errrrrrrrrrrrrr, invite Putin to the White House shortly before the vote. Dan Coats, ostensibly the man in charge of U.S. intelligence, got the news live on the air while being interviewed in Aspen today and seemed as surprised as any of us are:

Very confidence-building, baby. But yes, this is really happening: After the Humiliation in Helsinki, Trump’s decided that not only does he want another photo op with Putin, he wants to hand him the honor of a White House visit.

In theory that could work. Trump welcomes him to the capital, does the grip-and-grin, then impresses everyone with a show of support for U.S. intelligence by stressing to Putin’s face that he blames him for the 2016 interference and warning him not to do anything before the midterms. (Too late, according to BuzzFeed.) In practice, though? C’mon, we’ve all had crushes. It’s impossible to be chill when the apple of your eye is standing right there next to you. It’s destined to be another back-slapping session. All it’ll take to cement the disastrous optics of that meeting is Mueller releasing his report on obstruction shortly before or after and accusing Trump of a crime. If you thought it was awkward for Russian intelligence agents to be indicted a few days before the summit last week, imagine Trump getting accused of obstruction right before a White House sitdown with Putin.

The tsar allegedly floated an interesting idea to him during their private chat in Finland:

Vladimir Putin told Russian diplomats that he made a proposal to Donald Trump at their summit this week to hold a referendum to help resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine, but agreed not to disclose the plan publicly so the U.S. president could consider it, according to two people who attended Putin’s closed-door speech on Thursday…

Putin’s proposal will alarm Ukrainian officials after Trump last week appeared to leave open the possibility of recognizing Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, which triggered the crisis that led to fighting in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Ukraine has offered the areas autonomy under its rule and backs the deployment of international peacekeepers in the region…

Leaders of so-called rebel republics in Donetsk and Luhansk held referendums in May 2014 that declared independence. The votes were rejected as illegal by the U.S. and the European Union, while Ukraine called them a “farce.” Russia said at the time that it “respects” the votes, which showed as much as 96 percent support for breaking away from Ukraine.

Very clever. Between this and the proposal about letting U.S. intelligence question the 12 Russian agents indicted by Mueller if Russia can question Mike McFaul, it’s increasingly clear that Putin’s goal at the summit was to raise proposals which he knew would appeal to Trump but would horrify the American diplomatic and intelligence ranks. He chose to sow division, as usual, by playing on the ideological fault lines between the strongman president and his anti-strongman staff. A U.S. natsec official would vomit at the idea of ransoming McFaul to Russian fascists but Putin knew that targeting one of Obama’s own ambassadors would play into Trump’s own anti-Obama inclinations. Same with the idea of a separatist referendum in Ukraine. Cementing a precedent in which Russia can invade a neighbor’s sovereign territory and then get the locals to “agree” under threat to join the Russian Federation “voluntarily” would be a disaster, like blessing the Anschluss as democratically legitimate. (Putin likes German precedents in his territory grabs. One of his arguments for seizing Crimea was that there are many ethnic Russians there, a Russian Sudetenland.) It would also require trusting Russian election administrators to count the votes fairly, just in case the threat of being shot by Moscow-backed separatists wasn’t enough to get the locals to vote the right way. It’s farcical. Okay the process in Ukraine and maybe Putin might consider trying it out in a few years in, er, Montenegro.

But Trump would probably dig it. He admires “strength” and what could be stronger than taking your weaker neighbor’s land? If a patina of democracy can be lent to it via a referendum, so much the better. (He’s mentioned before when asked about Putin’s seizure of Crimea that, from what he understands, Crimeans prefer to be part of Russia.) Putin probably explained it to him in terms of Iraq: If the United States could invade there and let Iraqis choose their own government, surely eastern Ukrainians deserve the right to choose whether to be swallowed by Russia. Now Bolton and Pompeo, who doubtless just got done explaining why we can’t trade Mike McFaul, are going to have to explain why this won’t work either.

I’ll leave you with Coats — again, the man atop the U.S. intelligence pyramid — admitting that he still has not a clue about what promises were made or ideas raised between the president and the head of Russia when they were face to face last week. Exit quotation: “Sources close to Trump tell Axios that they’re already speculating about whether Trump ends up firing Coats.”

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Previously Deported Illegal Alien Charged with Brutal Murder of Shakopee, MN Woman

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Minnesota officials charged Fraider Diaz-Carbajal from Mexico with the brutal murder of his former girlfriend in Shakopee, Minnesota earlier this month.

Fraider Diaz-Carbajal had been previously deported but told the court he has lived in the are for 18 years.
Fraider does not speak English and needed a translator.

He stabbed his former girlfriend several times before cutting his own neck.

SW News Media reported:

A 27-year-old woman who was killed in Shakopee on Aug. 12 has been identified as Enedelia Perez Garcia, 27, and today prosecutors charged Fraider Diaz-Carbajal, 35, 1279 Taylor St. Unit 6, with second-degree murder (not premeditated) in her death. Police say he was in the country illegally after being deported in 2014.

At about 4:02 p.m. on Aug. 12, Shakopee police were dispatched to a fight call involving a knife at 1279 Taylor St., No. 6., and while on the way to the Taylor Ridge Towhomes, they were told a male had a knife and a female was possibly dead.

According to the charging documents, officers found a bloody scene in the upstairs bedroom: Diaz-Carbajal was lying with his head resting on the stomach and chest of a woman who was sitting on the floor with her back against the wall and did not appear to be breathing. Diaz-Carbajal’s throat was cut with a 6 to 8-inch-long laceration and there were several stab wounds in his abdomen. He was “taking occasional breaths and moving” and a large, bloody knife was at his left side.

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Can AI produce fine art?

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We don’t normally cover the fine art beat here for obvious reasons, but there was a sale of a painting to a French collector in February which drew some attention. Another work by the same artist is going on sale at Christie’s presently. They works are going for some impressive amounts of money, but that’s not what makes the story interesting. The artist is an Artificial Intelligence program from a company named Obvious. (Time)

Hanging inside a gold frame on a pristine white wall in Christie’s Central London Gallery is a dark, moody portrait of a man in Puritan-style black clothes—the work, it seems, of some Old Master. But scrawled in the bottom right corner, there’s an unexpected signature: a mathematical equation.

This is Edmond de Belamy by French art collective Obvious—or, more accurately, by an algorithm designed by Obvious.

“The whole process is about humans having as little input as possible in the finished piece,” says Gauthier Vernier, one of three 25 year-old French men who started Obvious in April 2017 out of their apartment in Paris. Since then, by teaching a computer about art history and showing it how to make its own work, Obvious have produced 11 artworks with the help of artificial intelligence.

I’m not going to go into great detail about the technical particulars behind this since you can read them all at the article and at the Obvious Art website if you wish. The short version is that they developed an algorithm that scanned a vast number of paintings taken from classical art. It uses something called Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) which randomly generate images meeting certain criteria (a face has two eyes, one nose, one mouth, etc.) and the program “tests” each image itself to see if it can tell whether it’s original art or a computer generation. The results do indeed resemble portraits.

Here’s the real question: Is this art? Allow me to offer the definitive answers (plural) because it works both ways.

First… Yes. This is art.

But that answer comes with a caveat. Anything can be art because art is in the eye of the beholder. You can walk down the beach, find a particularly interesting looking piece of driftwood, take it home, clean it up and mount it on a wooden base. If you find it attractive, if it brings you pleasure, if your friends come over and compliment you on it… it’s art. And that’s only good art I’m talking about. Some of the crap put out by human beings as “modern art” is total garbage. If a crucifix in a jar of urine or three basketballs shoved into a broken fish tank (I actually saw that one in a gallery in New York City some years ago) qualify as art, then anything this robot spits out can certainly bear the name.

Second… No. This is definitely not art.

What they are presenting is a painting. But it didn’t come from an original thought or moment of inspiration in a mind, human or otherwise. They fed a bunch of examples into a program and had it randomly place zeros and ones corresponding to random colors until it generated something which matched certain test criteria that the programmers defined as being “art.” There was no feeling, no intent nor even any knowledge in the “mind” of the program of what it was doing. It was solving a math problem by randomly guessing combinations until it arrived at some solutions which met those design criteria.

It also wasn’t “painted” in any way that requires effort, training or involves risk of messing up a brush stroke. I had to search for a while to find out how the actual, physical paintings are created, but the AI only generates an image file. It’s then fed into a fancy laserjet printer which is set up to print on canvas instead of paper. Then a human being took it out and mounted it in a frame. An artist could never reproduce one of their painting precisely by hand. There would always be at least minute differences. Obvious could crank out the same portrait a thousand times and they would all be the same.

This isn’t even artificial intelligence as near as I can see. And it’s certainly not fine art. You could switch out the canvas for paper and it would be making interesting posters. If some rich collector wants to go to Christie’s and lay out tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for one of these creations, that’s up to them. But save up your money, because Obvious can produce thousands more for you in no time at all.

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President Trump Responds to Manafort Conviction “Nothing to do With Russian Collusion” (VIDEO)

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“NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIAN COLLUSION” – President Trump

President Trump responded Tuesday afternoon after a jury found his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty on 8 felony counts.

The President spoke to the press shortly after he landed in Charleston, West Virginia as he headed to his rally.

“It doesn’t involve me but I still feel really sad…you know it’s a very sad thing that happened. This has nothing to do with Russian collusion. This started as Russian collusion…this has absolutely nothing to do…this is a witch hunt and it’s a disgrace,” Trump said.

President Trump also said that he feels very bad for Paul Manafort. “He worked for Bob Dole, he worked for Ronald Reagan…” Trump continued.

The President didn’t answer any questions about his former lawyer Michael Cohen who just pleaded guilty to 8 counts; his plea deal includes 3-5 years jail time.

VIDEO:


After four days of deliberations, the jury reached a verdict on 8 counts and could not make a decision on 10 counts in the tax evasion and bank fraud case against Paul Manafort.

Judge Ellis declared a mistrial on 10 counts. The jury found Manafort guilty on 8 counts.

Both Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort were hunted down by Mueller and his thugs because of their association with Donald Trump.

We currently have a two-tiered justice system because AG Sessions is AWOL.

One set of laws for Trump and his supporters and another set of laws for Democrats and Clinton-Deep State cronies.

H/T: Zero Hedge

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