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How Cuban Spy Used Incredible Memory To Betray US




Ana Belén Montes poses for a photo shortly after her release from a 20-year prison sentence. Her brown hair is streaked with grey, and she is approximately 66 years old.

There was little evidence that Montes had spent years as a covert Cuban spy embedded deep within the US government. Or that she was formerly regarded as one of the most dangerous intelligence operators targeting the country.

That, according to experts, is what made her the ideal spy.

Ana Montes was caught on September 21, 2001, and was later found guilty of plotting to spy on the United States.


US Intelligence Searching For Decades

For nearly a decade, US intelligence authorities had been looking for a Cuban mole inside the government, but determining who was sending sensitive information to the Cubans proved to be a herculean effort.

“It truly is a needle in a haystack,” said Pete Lapp, a former FBI agent who, along with his partner, Steve McCoy, was part of the team that proved Montes was a Cuban spy.

Lapp and his team were tasked with finding and eliminating the mole. To complicate matters further, Mr. Lapp claimed that the Cubans also attempted to conceal Montes’ gender by implying that the spy was a man with high-level clearance, thus broadening the pool of prospective targets.

“It would have been a lot easier if we had known we were looking for a woman,” he admitted.

The FBI was looking for a lady and a top US intelligence official in Cuba and Central America.

The Cuban Queen

Cuba played a long game with Montes. Mr. Lapp says that she was asked to spy for them before graduating from graduate school. So, she became an “operative of the Cuban intelligence service” and joined the US Defense Intelligence Agency.

“She did an excellent job of being near-perfect, and everything she accomplished as an analyst simply served to build a wall of security around her,” he explained.

Ana Montes moved up in the US intelligence services. Before becoming a senior intelligence operative studying Cuba, she first worked on a portfolio for El Salvador and Nicaragua. Her expertise earned her the title “Queen of Cuba” within the agencies.

She also sent some of the most sensitive information about the country to a foreign government that was against it for more than 17 years.


On The Run for 17 Years

“One of the reasons I think she never got caught was she primarily memorized the knowledge that she took away,” said Jim Popkin, author of Code Name Blue Wren, which chronicles Montes’ climb through the ranks and eventual capture.

“She had a day job where she sat silently, studiously, and memorized as many sensitive documents as possible. Her nocturnal duty was to go home, type it up on a Toshiba laptop, encrypt it, and send it to her handler.”

Instead of working for money, Montes eventually admitted to investigators that she spied on the US because she opposed her government’s interventionist actions in Central America and Cuba.

Mr. Popkin said, “She was especially dangerous because she told the real names of American spies in Cuba.”

That information alone could have put lives in danger, but Montes also revealed the existence of a multibillion-dollar stealth satellite used by the US to spy on Russia, China, and Iran.

“That’s why intelligence officers call her one of the most damaging spies in American history and, in my opinion, the most damaging female spy we’ve ever had,” Mr. Popkin added. By 2000, intelligence agencies suspected Montes of being a spy, and Mr. Lapp and his team narrowed down on her as a suspect.

An International Spy

“Let’s not focus on catching her in the act of spying,” I insisted. “Let us first ensure that we have the proper individual,” Mr. Rapp stated.

After looking for the mole for years, Lapp and his team finally found him over Memorial Day weekend in 2001. They went to Montes’ house and found a laptop under her bed with secret information from the 1990s.

“I thought, holy [expletive], holy [expletive],” said Mr. Lapp, whose inquiry will be detailed in the upcoming book Queen of Cuba.

Montes receives a National Intelligence Certificate of Distinction from CIA Director George Tenet.

Leading the compartmentalized life of a spy meant lying not just to the nation’s highest intelligence organizations but also those closest to her, including her family.


The Cuban Queen

Her sister, Lucy, was one of four close family members who worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The day Montes was caught, the rest of the world discovered she was a spy for the Cuban government.

Mr. Popkin talked to the family for his book, and he said that the family’s anger at her betrayal was mixed with relief when she was sent to prison.

“It did give [Lucy] some solace just to understand a little bit more about her sister and why their once-close connection had deteriorated over the years,” he added.

Ana Montes was released on January 6 after serving most of her 25-year term. Montes said she wishes to live a “quiet and private existence” now that she is out of prison and back in Puerto Rico. However, within hours of her release, Montes stated that she was still thinking about Cuba.

“I encourage anyone who wishes to focus on me to do so on significant subjects, such as the major problems confronting the Puerto Rican people or the United States’ economic embargo on Cuba,” she said in a statement provided to BBC News by her lawyer, Linda Backiel.

“Who has asked the Cuban people in the previous 60 years if they want the United States to enforce a strangling embargo that causes them to suffer?”

But Montes’ release was a setback for Mr. Lapp and the men and women who had worked to bring her to justice for years.

“I knew this day was coming, but that doesn’t make it any less painful,” he added.



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CNN Ousts CEO Chris Licht After A Brief, Tumultuous Tenure




THE NEW YORK CNN fired Chief Executive Chris Licht, After a turbulent year in charge of the faltering news organization, culminating in a stinging magazine feature and the growing realization that he’d lost the trust of the network’s journalists, CNN fired Chief Executive Chris Licht.

Just two days after Licht declared he would “fight like hell” to earn the respect of those around him, the change was revealed at CNN’s editorial meeting on Wednesday morning.

In addition to appointing a four-person interim leadership team, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav announced during the editorial meeting that he would conduct a comprehensive search for Licht’s replacement.

Republicans had grown increasingly wary of the network due to frequent attacks by the late President Donald Trump. Thus, Licht was mandated to try and make CNN more appealing to both sides of the country’s political spectrum.

However, several network employees viewed Licht’s call for change as a rejection of their prior efforts, and a live town hall interview with Trump last month generated strong opposition.

Don Lemon was fired from the network’s morning show earlier this year after Licht tried to modernize it, but it was unsuccessful. Creating a new prime-time lineup was protracted, as Kaitlan Collins was only recently chosen to host the 9 p.m. hour, which has been without a permanent host since Chris Cuomo was let go in December 2021.


CNN fired Chief Executive Chris Licht.

Just over a year ago, Zaslav appointed Licht to succeed Jeff Zucker, a well-liked predecessor who had created shows like MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” CBS’ morning news program, and Stephen Colbert’s late-night show. Zucker was let go for failing to disclose a mutually beneficial relationship with another CNN executive.

The position “was never going to be easy, especially at a time of great disruption and transformation,” Zaslav wrote in a memo to CNN employees.

He remarked, “Chris put his heart and soul into it. It has been clear throughout his tenure that he has a great affection for journalism and this industry. Unfortunately, things did not turn out as we had intended, and in the end, I was responsible.


An inquiry for comment from Licht has yet to receive a response.

“Inside the Meltdown at CNN,” a lengthy profile of Licht that appeared in Atlantic magazine on Friday, proved embarrassing and probably sealed his demise. Before he arrived, Licht criticized some of CNN’s COVID coverage, which infuriated some journalists.

According to a Wall Street Journal piece published Tuesday night, Jake Tapper, Anderson Cooper, and Erin Burnett, three of CNN’s top anchors, reportedly privately voiced their disapproval of Licht’s management.

In the meantime, viewers were leaving. With 494,000 viewers in May, CNN’s prime-time audience was down 16% from April and fell short of MSNBC, its nearest competitor in the news market.

Amy Entelis, Virginia Moseley, Eric Sherling, and David Leavy, four current CNN executives, were chosen by Zaslav to lead the network while a replacement is sought.

In the message, Zaslav stated, “We are in good hands, allowing us to take the time we need to run a thoughtful and thorough search for a new leader.”


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Navalny Supporters Hold Demonstrations To Mark Russian Opposition Leader’s 47th Birthday




Russia — As Navalny followers held pickets and demonstrations to mark the imprisoned opposition leader’s 47th birthday on Sunday, with at least 90 people reportedly arrested, Alexei Navalny expressed hope for a better future in Russia despite a crackdown on dissent.

Navalny is currently serving a nine-year sentence for fraud and contempt of court, accusations he claims were made up to get him for his efforts organizing anti-Kremlin protests and exposing state corruption.

His next trial on allegations of extremism could land him in jail for many years. Critics of the Kremlin see the lawsuit as another effort by the Russian government to isolate its main adversary, President Vladimir Putin.

On Sunday, Navalny’s supporters urged protests to show solidarity with him in Russia and overseas.

Some Navalny fans in Russia held solitary pickets to commemorate his birthday, while others spray-painted walls, running the risk of receiving their prison sentences. The organization that tracks political arrests, OVD-Info, reports that at least 90 people were held.

Police increased their presence in central Moscow and moved swiftly to apprehend anyone attempting to set up a lone picket on Pushkin Square or elsewhere in the city.

One individual was able to distribute flyers before being taken away.

One of those arrested was a woman wearing a hoodie with the words “You aren’t alone” inscribed, holding a small black balloon with “Happy Birthday!” on it. She questioned the officers about why they were holding her, but they remained silent.


On Sunday, Navalny’s supporters urged protests to show solidarity with him in Russia and overseas.

Additionally, Navalny’s fans appeared in St. Petersburg and other Russian cities, holding solitary pickets and leaving graffiti and placards in his favor.

Demonstrations in favor of Navalny were held in many European towns.

In a social media statement made public by his allies, Navalny stated that while he would undoubtedly prefer to celebrate his birthday with a family breakfast, kisses from his kids, and gifts, “life is such that social progress and a better future can only be achieved if a certain number of people are willing to pay for the right to have beliefs.”

“The price each has to pay is smaller the more there are of such people,” he remarked. And there will undoubtedly come a time when speaking the truth and defending justice in Russia will be commonplace and completely safe.

After recovering in Germany from the nerve agent poisoning he claimed the Kremlin was responsible for, Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow in January 2021.

He was first given a 22-year prison term for breaking his parole. He received a nine-year term for fraud and contempt of court last year. He is incarcerated in a maximum-security facility 250 miles (150 kilometers) east of Moscow.


On Sunday, Navalny’s supporters urged protests to show solidarity with him in Russia and overseas.

The allegations of extremism against Navalny, which carry a potential 30-year sentence, include his anti-corruption foundation and remarks made by his closest friends. His allies claimed that the accusations retrospectively criminalize all of Navalny’s foundation’s actions since its establishment in 2011.

The fresh claims coincide with an increased crackdown on dissent by Russian authorities amid the battle in Ukraine, which Navalny has sharply criticized.

A Moscow court denied a plea from Navalny’s attorneys for more time to review the extensive new charges, which he dismissed as “absurd,” and set a preliminary hearing for Tuesday to discuss technical matters associated with a fresh trial of Navalny.

Navalny cited an investigator saying he would be tried in a different military court on terrorism-related accusations, which might result in a life sentence.

In a social media statement on Sunday, he thanked his supporters and saw his prison sentence “just as an unpleasant part of my favourite job.”

“This is where loss begins,” he said. “My aim for the previous year was not to become nasty and enraged and not to lose the nonchalance of behavior. And if I was successful, it was only because of your help.


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Delta Air Lines Hit With Lawsuit Over Claims Of Carbon Neutrality




A class action complaint was filed against Delta Air Lines on Tuesday, claiming the company falsely advertised itself as the “first carbon-neutral airline” in the world. The complaint filed in California federal court alleges the airline used fraudulent carbon offsets.

Carbon credits are purchased by businesses worldwide to offset carbon dioxide emissions by funding initiatives that promise to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or avoid pollution that would have otherwise occurred. However, suggestions that their benefits are overstated have recently put them in the spotlight.

According to the complaint, Delta is a major customer that has purchased credits from various projects, including wind and solar farms in India and a wetland in Indonesia.


When asked for comment, the airline remained silent.

Mayanna Berrin, a resident of Glendale, California, has filed a lawsuit claiming to represent all Californians who have flown on Delta since March 2020. It claims that any gains from the offsets will be short-lived and would have occurred anyway. A carbon credit is only legitimate if it results in a positive outcome that would not have occurred without the credit.

Three years ago, Delta stated it would become carbon neutral, producing no more greenhouse gas emissions than it removed from the atmosphere. It may also need financial outlay to ensure its absorption in another setting.

According to Berrin, this allowed the company to increase its share of the market and its prices. Berrin, a writer for Nickelodeon, told The Associated Press that individuals her age, just on the cusp of their thirties, are particularly vulnerable to climate concerns.


A class action complaint was filed against Delta Air Lines on Tuesday, claiming the company falsely advertised itself as the “first carbon-neutral airline” in the world.

“I felt comfortable paying more because I was neutralising when I needed to travel for work or to see my family,” she explained. She claimed she was frustrated and sad that she had second thoughts regarding Delta’s adjustments.

“They can’t just claim neutrality if that’s not factually accurate,” she argued. “Lawsuits are scary, and there are probably a lot of people who share my frustrations but don’t realise they have rights or can make a difference if they speak up.” According to her lawyer, Jonathan Haderlein, it is one of only a handful of “greenwashing” claims in the United States based on consumer protection law and the first of its kind against a major American airline.

2:23-cv-04150 is the official case number.

The International Energy Agency estimates that by 2021, aviation will have contributed over 2% of global CO2 emissions.

According to FlightRadar24, which monitors GPS data beamed to satellites and receivers, Delta, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, has 672 flights in the air worldwide as of Tuesday morning.

Source – (AP)

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