DID MANAFORT FACE BLACKMAIL ATTEMPT?
Hacked text messages from the iPhone of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s daughter suggest he did. POLITICO cites “undated communications, allegedly” from Manafort’s daughter that “include a text that appears to come from a Ukrainian parliamentarian named Serhiy Leshchenko, seeking to reach her father, in which he claims to have politically damaging information about both Manafort and Trump.” In the texts, Leshchenko threatens to go to the Ukrainian anti-corruption authorities or the FBI or “maybe your way to work things out”. Leshchenko denies sending the texts and wrote as much on Facebook; Manafort however confirms the texts and said similar ones were sent to his phone. “The images began circulating this week in political circles in Washington and Kiev,” writes POLITICO.
THE MASSAGE IS THE MESSAGE
In a Reuters exclusive, energy companies were summoned by Putin’s great state and told they must advise the Kremlin of any public opinion shaking developments within the sector ahead of next year’s “election”. Hint: this is not so Putin can make every thing right or great or even acceptable. Russia cannot adjust the global economy and even if he could fire all the corrupt managers, Putin would much rather conceal all their crimes so he can control them.
Deutsche Welle takes a closer look at Frauke Petry’s Moscow meetings, noting that the far right German party Alternative für Deutschland has admitted to meeting Russian diplomats in Berlin, contact between its youth group and United Russia’s Nashi, but not funding assistance like France’s far right Front National. Among those Petry met with while in Moscow was Pavel Navalny, a member of the Duma in charge of energy issues who is also in charge of “a contact group for cooperation with the German parliament.”
From Deutsche Welle.
UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM IS THE FIRST STEP
Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post takes a closer look at H.R. McMaster’s thoughts on current security challenges, highlighting some very reassuring ones. Alas someone in the national security apparatus at the top who understands the problem IS Russia and the collapse of everything that holds in place everything we hold dear is at stake. May help some sleep at night to know instead of ousted General Michael Flynn we now have McMaster who understands Russia is “engaged in what you might say is a limited war for an objective of collapsing the post-World War II political, economic, and security order, and to replace that with one that is more sympathetic to their interests.” McMaster says their strategy is “very sophisticated” combining “the use of unconventional forces under the cover of conventional forces but also involves a very sophisticated propaganda disinformation campaign, economic actions and political subversion and so forth.” Phew. It’s a little less like “Dr. Strangelove” now, but only a little.
From The Washington Post.
OPPOSITION ACTIVIST’S CONVICTION OVERTURNED
Dissident (what it means to be politically engaged outside of “United Russia”) Ildar Dadin had his conviction overturned. Russian state-run news agency TASS said he should be released Monday. His grave crime against the Russian state? Attending “unauthorized rallies”. So they tortured him, he said last November. Russians must express their political views publicly only when it is authorized and since it is not authorized, these are the consequences.
MOURNING IN AMERICA
The New York Medical Examiners Office said Tuesday, “The cause and manner of death of the Russian Ambassador to the United Nations [Vitaly Churkin] needs to be studied further.” Surprise, surprise. Is it possible Ambassador Churkin died of something other than “natural causes”? A funeral is scheduled for tomorrow, February 24, in Moscow.
FELIX THE FAT CAT
From Timothy L. O’Brien, Executive Editor of Bloomberg View who wrote a book, Trump Nation: The Art of Being the Donald, which Donald naturally sued over and lost in 2011. O’Brien discusses how Trump’s Russian investor partner, Bayrock Group’s Felix Sater came up in the lawsuit. O’Brien describes Sater as a shady character who has had “repeated run-ins with law enforcement for, among other things, money-laundering, helping organised crime families defraud stock investors, and stabbing a man in the face with the stem of a broken margarita glass. (To make matters more complex, Sater has co-operated with the US federal government in a number of investigations, winning a delayed prison sentence in the money-laundering case as well as praise from authorities for his help.)” O’Brien adds in a deposition in 2007, Trump had not decided whether to sever ties with Sater; recently Trump has repeatedly lost his memory when it comes to Sater.
From The Irish Examiner.
FLYNN FOR THE RECORD
Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine wants Flynn to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Collins also told a Maine Public Radio show she is open to subpoenaing for Trump’s tax returns, but with an important caveat: “If it’s necessary to get to the answers.” Other members of the committee sent letters to a number of agencies last week ordering documents related to the probe saved. Collins said, “We have very aggressive committee members.” Can’t wait.
THERE’S A REASON FOR THIS TREASON
The Ukrainian Parliament, the Rada, has opened an inquiry into Andrii Artemenko, a Member of Parliament and key liaison according to a story The New York Times published last weekend about a back door over Ukraine deal involving the Trump administration. In a court filing, prosecutors accused Artemenko with “subversive acts against Ukraine.”
From The New York Times.
Konstantin Kilimnik, a “shadowy political operative” in Ukraine, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, spoke to Kilimnik about his contacts with former Trump campaign manager and current Trump Advisor Paul Manafort. Kilimnik says he briefed Manafort on Ukraine every few months (bizarre since Manafort was not technically on the job all that long) and denies ties to Russian intelligence, despite suggestions to the contrary. There are also more details on the contents of the possible “peace plan” that would result in Moscow-backed rulers annexing and cutting up part of Ukraine.
TRADE MARK INFORMATION
In addition to registering 3,000 plus domain names related to his name (but not TrumpistanWatch.com !), The New York Times has a story on the 400 trademarks Trump has registered since 2000 in 28 countries around the world based on findings from nine databases. Russia is naturally among the countries but little continues to be known as to why and what purpose and to what end.
From The New York Times.
PolitiFact breaks down the six main accusations dogging Trump so far and looks at the evidence, what has been corroborated, what hasn’t and why. Hint: Trump’s tax returns would tell us a whole lot more than this can.
A FAKE TRUMPISTAN WATCH?
Just as you would not trust any one who tells you to trust them, you really don’t trust someone who is perpetually, constantly lying to you. Woe is Russia, this is all Russophobia! See – this is how this works, unravel a loose strand, then shift and plant a firm view, no matter how false or inaccurate. Welcome to the mind-bending world that is sure to be a Russian state-run fake news watchdog. The Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova basically outlined a vision mimicking TRUMPISTAN WATCH: “Here we will make an example of such propaganda dumped by various media outlets, providing links to their sources, and so on.” Hmmm…. FAKE NEWS! BuzzFeed gives us a glimpse at the site and seems thoroughly underwhelmed by the entire enterprise, hosted on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website.
ANNOUNCING THE OBVIOUS
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu addressed the Russian Parliament, the Duma, on Wednesday. He announced that the Russian military is actively engaged in information warfare and is assigning yet more military personnel to the cause of promoting disinformation and propaganda (what Western media has hesitated to call anything other than “fake news”). Well, this seems like part of that battle as well, since as is known, Russia is engaging in an active campaign of disinformation and psychological warfare.
From Sky News.
RECREATING THE REICHSTAG
The Russian military is building a replica of the Reichstag at Patriot Park outside Moscow, a Defense Ministry project to promote nationalism among the youth. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced the plan in a speech to the Duma on Wednesday. The project’s intent is to encourage feelings of patriotism for the motherland among the youth. According to The Guardian, it was unclear “whether members of the public would be able to recreate the storming or only members of the Youth Army.”
PORTRAIT OF THE BULLSHIT ARTIST
Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov denied reports that the Russian state clearly planted with NBC News of a seven page psychological assessment of our Great Leader, The Donald that was in the works for Putin’s consumption. Memo to Peskov: a suggestion for a far superior lie is, “As if millions of profiles do not exist already of President Trump.” And then openly riff on why your boss thought this was wise. In America, you would get a book deal. We understand after Churkin, Erovinkin, Karlov, et al, that the consequences are a bit different in your country.
RADIO MOSCOW: STORIES FROM THEIR PRESS AND OURS
OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF AMERICANS SUPPORT NATO NOT RUSSIA
NBC News has poll results taken with Survey Monkey that show 80 percent of Americans think NATO membership is good for the U.S. A majority also think Russia is “unfriendly” (understatement) towards the U.S. And what does Russia have to offer us for walking away from the most successful military alliance in history, remind me?
From NBC News.
AMERICANS HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN THE COLD WAR
No matter what is happening on The Hill with the sudden winds of Russia love since Trump’s election victory and Inauguration, POLITICO finds the American people feel otherwise. POLITICO and USA Today travelled to Congressional town halls across the country where Congressmen are getting an earful from constituents about Trump and Russia. Good! The American people are not sheeple of the great leader quite yet!
MEANWHILE IN MOSCOW
TASS is drumming up how much Americans love Vlad since a Gallup poll in 2015 showed Putin only had a 13 percent favorability rating among Americans but now that has jumped to 23 percent! Quoting from the poll, TASS notes, “His negative rating remains unchanged at 72%”! Despite all the trolling, lies, and sheer inane nonsense, Americans are not prone to living lies or fear that prevents action.
From Russian state-run TASS.
SOUL ON ICE
Vox has a Q+A with Mihail Fishman, the editor of the English-language Moscow Times who has covered politics in Russia almost as long as Putin has been around. The conversation presents a nice deconstruction for personality obsessed Americans of how and why Putin is playing Trump. The most important insight worth dwelling on is that Putin “does not believe a true and just democracy exists anywhere.” Think about all the “what about-ism” that enables!
SEDITION IS HIS PERMANENT CONDITION
Deposed former President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled in disgrace after 100 demonstrators were shot dead as they protested in Maidan three years ago Monday, takes to Russian state-run media to menace those of his fellow countrymen desiring a future free from Russia’s grip. In essence, he will back Moscow’s efforts to annex Donbass if you read between the lines of his fanciful letter addressed to Western leaders in a desperate bid for relevance. No one but the locals will have a hand, except Russian-backed rebels will always have the motherland until it is no longer convenient for the motherland to have them. Sad!
PAT BUCHANAN: COZY WITH THE KREMLIN OR JUST USEFUL IDIOT?
Buchanan, the original white nationalist presidential candidate of our times, addresses the most urgent issue facing our nation, namely “the epidemic of Russophobia”. Buchanan blames Republican obstructionists and revenge-seeking Democrats for impeding the future great state the Dear Leader and the Kremlin will build together. He is only right in his conclusion, “a second cold war with Russia, its back up against a wall, may not end quite so happily as the first.” Yes this will be more unpleasant for Russia than the 1990s.
From The Miami Herald.
IS RUSSIA THE 51st STAR?
Newsday reports that during his Brussels press conference with the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, the American flag had 51 not 50 stars. Is Russia the 51st star? Or is it the District of Columbia? Who knows! Strange!
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