—–ON THE AGENDA—–
ZAPAD WATCH: STARTING TODAY, RUSSIA PREPS TO LOSE TO VEYSHNORIA
Watch out Russia, Veyshnoria is going to kick your ass but not if it doesn’t have to. Actually it already did. And the Russians are streaming across the border to freedom where the Veyshnorians are passing out bananas. Reuters reports, “From planes, radars and ships in the Baltics, NATO officials say they are watching Russia’s biggest war games since 2013 with ‘calm and confidence’, but many are unnerved about what they see as Moscow testing its ability to wage war against the West.” Reuters reports, “NATO believes the exercises, officially starting on Thursday in Belarus, the Baltic Sea, western Russia and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, are already underway. It says they are larger than Moscow has publicized, numbering some 100,000 troops, and involve firing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.” Officially, Russian state-run TASS reports, “The drills involve up to 12,700 troops, including 7,200 Belarusian and around 5,500 Russian troops, with up to 3,000 of them deployed to Belarus.”
RUSSIA CONFIRMS WANTED FULL RAPPROCHEMENT WITH U.S.
What did TRUMPISTAN WATCH say yesterday? America is too beautiful, too shiny, too full of herself, too distracted to ever really fall for Putin. He is like a good B-movie villain with a bunch of C-listers, not a serious life partner. Meduza reports Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, father of ridiculous Russian Instagrammer Liza Peskova, said, “Russian officials did in fact ask the U.S. earlier this year to agree to a series of meetings to discuss pressing international issues, but they say they encountered no reciprocity from the Trump administration”. Sad! Just kidding, it’s wonderful. Apparently the State Department is still functioning and at least the lights are on upstairs at Foggy Bottom still.
WH ETHICS OFFICE MOVES TO ALLOW ANONYMOUS LEGAL FUND GIFTS
POLITICO reports, “The U.S. Office of Government Ethics has quietly reversed its own internal policy prohibiting anonymous donations from lobbyists to White House staffers who have legal defense funds.” Is that so Russia can now also fund their legal defense? POLITICO notes, “At issue for the Trump staffers is a 1993 OGE guidance document that gave a green light to organizers of legal defense funds for government employees to solicit anonymous donations from otherwise prohibited sources — like lobbyists or others with business before the government. That Clinton-era opinion reasoned that if such donors were anonymous, such donations could be legal because the employee ‘does not know who the paymasters are.’” Recall the Clintons left office in debt because of legal bills. In a nod to our quaint memories of yesteryear, a time before Trumpistan, “the 1993 guidance document was never officially changed, in part because aides working in the George W. Bush and Obama administrations didn’t face significant legal scrutiny while still serving in government. (I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, the Bush aide who was convicted of perjury and other crimes connected to the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity, had already left the White House by the time his trial started.)”
INDICATIONS MUELLER HONING IN ON COMEY’S FIRING
CNN reports, “The Justice Department is preventing Senate investigators from interviewing two top FBI officials who could provide first-hand testimony over the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, the latest sign that Special Counsel Robert Mueller could be investigating the circumstances around the firing”. Curiously, CNN reports, “The previously undisclosed turf war comes as the Senate judiciary committee has not yet given assurances to the special counsel’s office that it could have unfettered access to the transcript of the interview it conducted last week with the President’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., saying that the full Senate must first authorize the release of the information to Mueller’s team.”
MUELLER EXAMINING SOCIAL MEDIA + TRUMP CAMP TIES TO RUSSIA
Bloomberg reports, “Russia’s effort to influence U.S. voters through Facebook and other social media is a ‘red-hot’ focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 election and possible links to President Donald Trump’s associates”. According to Bloomberg, “Mueller’s team of prosecutors and FBI agents is zeroing in on how Russia spread fake and damaging information through social media and are seeking additional evidence from companies like Facebook and Twitter about what happened on their networks”. Bloomberg notes how slow the wheels were to turn on this in reporting, “The ability of foreign nations to use social media to manipulate and influence elections and policy is increasingly seen as the soft underbelly of international espionage, another official said, because it doesn’t involve the theft of state secrets and the U.S. doesn’t have a ready defense to prevent such attacks”. Bloomberg adds, “Agencies including the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are now examining what could be done to prevent similar interference and espionage in future elections, staring [sic] with the 2018 midterm congressional vote, the official said. At the same time, Russia is ramping up its hacking operations, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said.”
FLYNN FACTS: WHAT THE HELL DID HE PUT ON HIS SECURITY CLEARANCE?
ABC News reports, “Democrats in Congress believe retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn illegally concealed more than a dozen foreign contacts and overseas trips during the process of renewing his security clearances”. Rep. Elijah “Cummings told ABC News that Flynn’s foreign contacts — which involved high ranking foreign officials and business executives — were so numerous they could not have been inadvertent omissions or incidental contacts.” According to the letter from Congressional Democrats ABC News published, The Guardian reports the letter Congressional investigators sent “accused him of violating federal law when he failed to disclose a trip he took to the Middle East in June 2015 to promote the US-Russia [nuclear] project, as well as several contacts with foreigners that they allege ought to have been declared.” CNN reports, Flynn “has refused a new request to appear as a witness before the Senate intelligence committee”.
TRUMP CAMP HELLSPAWN MICHAEL FLYNN JR. INVESTIGATED
NBC News reports, “Michael G. Flynn, the son of President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, is a subject of the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign”. According to NBC News, “The inquiry into Flynn is focused at least in part on his work with his father’s lobbying firm, Flynn Intel Group”. NBC News reports, “A former business associate of Michael Flynn’s said the younger Flynn had a heavy hand in the day-to-day operations of Flynn Intel Group and served as his father’s chief of staff. Those responsibilities included attending meetings with his father and communicating with prospective clients, the former business associate said.” Recall Flynn Jr. “perpetuated a so-called ‘pizzagate’ conspiracy theory that surfaced in the days before the November election alleging Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton had used the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington to run a child sex-trafficking operation. About a month later, in December 2016, a North Carolina man fired gunshots in the pizzeria allegedly in response to the false ‘pizzagate’ story. At the time, Flynn wrote on Twitter: ‘Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it’ll remain a story.’” Hellspawn.
From NBC News.
UNMASKED: WHY DID SUSAN RICE DO IT?
DARKNESS AT NUNES is not now truly the only one who wants to know why Susan Rice unmasked a bunch of quislings in the Trump campaign. Well, now CNN reports, “Former national security adviser Susan Rice privately told House investigators that she unmasked the identities of senior Trump officials to understand why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates was in New York late last year”. This is nowhere near the full story. How can it be? But it is the first succulent drip. CNN reports that during a December Trump Tower meeting, “Zayed met at the time with Flynn, Kushner and Bannon,” and that “came shortly before the UAE brokered a meeting to open lines of communications with the United States and Russia, with a clandestine January meeting in the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean.” CNN reports, “But Rice’s suggestion that she unmasked the names of US individuals — who turned out to be Trump associates — over concerns about the propriety of the crown prince’s visit to the United States could help her fend off attacks that she was out of line in the actions she took.”
PETTY AS FUCK: RUSSIA NIXES U.S. CONSULATE PARKING SPOTS
New York Magazine reports, “U.S. diplomats are going to have a much harder time parking in Russia now that their exclusive parking spots have been revoked”. Citing Russian state-run television reports, New York Magazine adds, “parking spaces at the U.S. consulate general in Saint Petersburg were painted over with a pedestrian crossing and special parking signs at the consulate in Yekaterinburg were removed.”
From New York Magazine.
RUSSIA HIRES LAWYERS TO TAKE ON U.S. “BARBARIC ACTS”
Foreign Policy reports, “Russia plans to hire an as yet unspecified prominent U.S. law firm to represent its interests — and its diplomatic property — in court, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told [Russian state-run] Interfax on Wednesday.” The words “barbaric acts” come from Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova yesterday.
From Foreign Policy.
ZAPAD WATCH: LET THE GAMES BEGIN WITH A LITTLE ICBM LAUNCH
Newsweek reports, “Russia carried out an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test in the country’s remote northwest ahead of a huge war game scheduled to begin later this week that will involve thousands of troops near the Belarus western border with NATO countries.” Let the Zapad games begin. You know there cannot be this kind of media build-up without some sort of collision or tragedy because that is how a reality TV script and the combined cynical centrifugal forces of the universe work.
CHINESE NAVY SHIPS DEPART TO JOIN DRILLS WITH RUSSIA
The AP reports, “Four Chinese navy ships have departed for joint drills with Russia in the latest sign of growing cooperation between the two militaries that could challenge the U.S. armed forces’ role in the Asia-Pacific.” According to Chinese state-run Xinhua, “The drills are being held in the Sea of Japan near the Korean Peninsula and the Sea of Okhotsk off the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido”. The AP notes, “The exercises are the second stage of an annual joint drill, the first part of which was held July 22-27 in the Baltic Sea — the first time the countries had exercised together in the northern European waterbody.”
From the AP.
GOVERNMENT BANS KASPERSKY FROM SYSTEMS, 90 DAYS TO COMPLY
NBC News reports Wednesday “The Department of Homeland Security has ordered federal agencies to stop using software made by Kaspersky Lab over concerns about the company’s ties to Russian intelligence”. In a statement, DHS said, “The Department is concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies, and requirements under Russian law that allow Russian intelligence agencies to request or compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting Russian networks”. About goddamn time. Recall, “Best Buy announced last week it would stop selling Kaspersky products over concerns about the company’s Russian government ties.” Government agencies have 90 days to comply in the removal of Kaspersky from their systems, NBC News reports.
From NBC News.
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
LET’S REVISIT THE BIG LIE + RECALL IT’S NOT CLOSE TO THE FULL HORROR
And Mother Jones’ David Corn is our guide! Mother Jones recalls, “On December 2, 2015, during an interview with an Associated Press reporter, Trump was asked about his relationship with a fellow named Felix Sater. Trump, who was then the front-runner in the GOP presidential nomination contest, replied, ‘Felix Sater, boy, I have to even think about it. I’m not that familiar with him.’ He referred questions to his Trump Organization. One of his lawyers, Alan Garten, subsequently told the AP that Sater once prospected for real estate deals for the Trump Organization and that the arrangement lasted for six months in 2010.” However, “at that very moment—Trump was in the middle of the deal to build a Trump Tower in the Russian capital and that Sater had put together the venture. As he was running for president, Trump was hiding this project from the American public, and he was insisting he barely knew the man at the center of it. This was serious deceit.” Naturally “the candidate was attempting to distance himself from a one-time felon.” Mother Jones mentions, “Sater had a substantial criminal record. In the early 1990s, when he was in his mid-20s, Sater went to jail for about a year after he smashed a broken margarita glass into the face of a man during a barroom altercation. After that, he became part of a mid-1990s stock swindle tied to the Mafia and Russian organized crime. To escape going back to jail, he pleaded guilty to racketeering and became a cooperating witness for the FBI.”
From Mother Jones.
WHY WERE THE BOOMERS SO SUSCEPTIBLE?
Ken Burns writes in The Atlantic on “How the Vietnam War Broke the American Presidency”. With “More than 58,000 Americans and as many as 3 million Vietnamese had died in the conflict,” the result was “The war undermined the country’s faith in its most respected institutions, particularly the military and the presidency. The military eventually recovered. The presidency never has.” Burns notes, “It did not happen all at once, this radical diminution of trust. Over more than a decade, the accumulated weight of critical reporting about the war, the publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, and the declassification of military and intelligence reports tarnished the office. Nor did the process stop when that last chopper took off. New evidence of hypocrisy has continued to appear, an acidic drip, drip, drip on the image of the presidency.” And you think the KGB and its successor rebranded as the FSB is unawares? Of course not, they waited until nobody in the West cared to remember the Cold War. Defectors such as Yuri Bezmenov in the 1980s highlighted this generation as the probable target given its mistrust in the government for future operations.
From The Atlantic.
PRINCELING JARED + ARYAN PRINCESS CHINA TRIP CANCELLED
The South China Morning Post reports, “Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s trip to China may have been cancelled because some officials in the White House decided the couple were not suitable to make preparations for US President Donald Trump’s visit to Beijing.” Burn. According to The South China Morning Post, “John Kelly, the chief of staff of the White House, did not think Kushner would be an appropriate channel even though he helped to establish contacts between China and US officials in the past.” Thank fucking god anytime Aryan princess Ivanka has ended up anywhere near U.S. diplomacy in the past it has only proven a royal embarrassment. All hail John Kelly!
CBS News reports, “The language was intended to stir up hate, using pictures and incendiary language: ‘They won’t take over our country if we don’t let them in.’ The group behind the messages called itself Secured Borders. But investigators say it was part of a Russian campaign to influence the 2016 election”. CBS News adds, “To that end, Secured Borders used Facebook’s event and initiation tool to promote an anti-immigrant rally in Twin Falls, Idaho, a city it called ‘a center of refugee resettlement’ responsible for a ‘huge upsurge of violence toward American citizens.’ That was false, and the rally itself never happened, in spite of the Russian campaign.” Divide and conquer.
From CBS News.
—–RADIO MOSCOW: STORIES FROM THEIR PRESS AND OURS—–
BOMB THREAT HOAXES LEAD TO MASS EVACUATIONS ACROSS RUSSIA
Bloomberg reports, “Nearly 100,000 people have been evacuated from airports, schools and government buildings across Russia, including an iconic department store on Red Square, amid a wave of fake bomb threats that officials called unprecedented.” Bloomberg adds, “In Moscow, the hoaxes led to the clearing of the GUM shopping complex, across Red Square from the Kremlin, as well as several other major malls, universities, hotels and train stations. Sheremetyevo airport, the capital’s busiest, tightened security after a threat, Interfax reported. The official Tass news agency, citing an unnamed security-service source, said more than 50,000 people had been evacuated in the capital after about 100 threats. That came a day after 45,000 people had been evacuated Tuesday from 205 buildings in 22 cities across Russia in similar hoaxes, RIA reported.” Bloomberg reports, “Threats and evacuations outside the capital also were reported today, in cities ranging from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the Far East, across Siberia, to Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea.” Bloomberg notes, “The anonymous calls came from Internet dialing systems and couldn’t easily be traced, official news agencies reported. Initial reports indicated the evacuations might have been some kind of exercise.” CIA?
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