—–ON THE AGENDA—–
OPEC MEETING THIS WEEK: SHOWDOWN OVER U.S. SHALE OUTPUT
CNBC reports, “OPEC’s meeting next week could be a volatile one for the energy market, as the cartel seeks to extend its agreement to limit oil production against rising U.S. output.” CNBC notes, “OPEC is expected to extend its deal with Russia and other oil producers to keep 1.8 million barrels a day off the market, but what’s not clear is for how long. Analysts say the market is positioning for a nine-month extension from the deal’s current expiration in March.” CNBC adds, “So far the agreement has been seen as a factor in stabilizing the oil market, and it has helped boost prices to a two-year high. But heading into the Nov. 30 meeting, Russia’s oil companies have been complaining loudly because higher crude prices have helped the U.S. shale industry ramp up production and nibble away at global market share.” Energy historian turned consultant Daniel Yergin said, “One big question for [OPEC] as they head to Vienna is how vigorous will be the response of U.S. shale to these higher prices”.
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST: TRUMP SOHO NO MORE
WNYC, the NPR affiliate in New York City, reports, “It’s not really in Soho, and now the Trump SoHo won’t go by the name Trump either.” That is because, “In a statement released Wednesday, the Trump Organization, which licensed its name and managed the hotel/condo located near the mouth of the Holland Tunnel, announced it was taking a buyout from the building’s current owners, to take effect by the end of the year.” Due to the opaque authoritarian nature of our state and the president’s sham front company, “The Trump organization refused to say how much it was paid, creating a historically unprecedented situation: a company with government business has made an unknown payoff to the President’s company.” WNYC notes, “The Trump SoHo has been hemorrhaging business since Trump announced his presidential campaign. After the inauguration, the once-busy corner of Spring and Varick street emptied out. NBA players, limos, rope lines, paparazzi all disappeared as the name ‘Trump’ became increasingly toxic among people who wanted to be in lower Manhattan.” WNYC adds, “Room rates hovered around $300 per night, far below the $900 per night once projected by the building’s developers. Events and weddings dried up, as couples and companies became fearful that their venue would cause strife. In May, the bar ran out of ingredients, and then abruptly closed.” Of course, there is that pesky episode as well when, “Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. dropped a felony larceny case against Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump after a visit from a major campaign donor, Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz.” The Washington Post adds, “The deal to remove the Trump name was made with the Trump SoHo condominium board and the property’s majority owner, CIM Group, a California-based real estate investment firm. The hotel is divided into condominiums whose owners allowed them to be rented out as hotel rooms.” The Washington Post notes, “This will be the third time since Trump’s election that his name has been removed from a building. In July, the Trump name was taken off the Trump International Hotel in Toronto after the property’s owner reached a similar buyout deal. The hotel will be reopened as a St. Regis”. Additionally, “And last year, the owners of three Trump Place apartment buildings in New York announced that those properties would be renamed after tenant complaints.”
FLYNN’S LAWYERS SPLIT FROM TRUMP’S, SIGNALS COOPERATING WITH FEDS
The New York Times reports, “Lawyers for Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, notified the president’s legal team in recent days that they could no longer discuss the special counsel’s investigation.” This story dropped at about 4pm EST on Thursday just as families across America were sitting down to feast or otherwise in preparatory states or experiencing degrees of the itis already. The New York Times notes, “Defense lawyers frequently share information during investigations, but they must stop when doing so would pose a conflict of interest. It is unethical for lawyers to work together when one client is cooperating with prosecutors and another is still under investigation.” This is the greatest indication to date that Flynn is cooperating with Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation.
From The New York Times.
FLYNN PARTNER BIJAN KIAN NOW TARGET OF MUELLER PROBE
NBC News reports, “A former business associate of Michael Flynn has become a subject of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation for his role in the failure of Flynn’s former lobbying firm to disclose its work on behalf of foreign governments”. NBC News adds, “Federal investigators are zeroing in on Bijan Kian, an Iranian-American who was a partner at the now-dissolved Flynn Intel Group, and have questioned multiple witnesses in recent weeks about his lobbying work on behalf of Turkey.” NBC News reports, “The Flynn Intel Group, managed by Flynn, who was briefly President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, was paid $530,000 for lobbying on behalf of a Netherlands-based firm called Inovo BV, owned by Turkish-American businessman Ekim Alptekin. Months later, the firm filed the required paperwork under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)”. There is also a photograph of Kian and Flynn with NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers, who remains on the job despite former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s advice to Obama that he be fired. The image is from the Nowruz Commission’s “opulent annual Nowruz, or Iranian New Year, gala”. Not a great look these days.
From NBC News.
MANAFORT IN THE AIR: FREQUENT FLYER TO RUSSIA + UKRAINE
McClatchy reports, “Political guru Paul Manafort took at least 18 trips to Moscow and was in frequent contact with Vladimir Putin’s allies for nearly a decade as a consultant in Russia and Ukraine for oligarchs and pro-Kremlin parties.” McClatchy adds, “Even after the February 2014 fall of Ukraine’s pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych, who won office with the help of a Manafort-engineered image makeover, the American consultant flew to Kiev another 19 times over the next 20 months while working for the smaller, pro-Russian Opposition Bloc party. Manafort went so far as to suggest the party take an anti-NATO stance”. McClatchy notes, “Manafort first began to establish connections in Ukraine – ground zero in the geopolitical struggle between Putin’s Russia and the West – in late 2004. His reputation as a masterful political strategist and fixer was earned over decades hopping planes to the Congo, Philippines and elsewhere to advise authoritarian rulers friendly with the United States.” Recall, “By the end of that year, the former Soviet republic of Ukraine was paralyzed by widespread protests amid allegations that Yanukovych, the prime minister in a government rife with corruption, had won the presidency in a rigged election. What became the Orange Revolution persisted until another, internationally monitored vote was held and rival Victor Yushchenko was declared the winner.” McClatchy adds, “Manafort and a partner formed Davis Manafort Partners Inc. in early 2005 and opened offices in Kiev.” McClatchy fills in necessary background: “Manafort’s first client in Ukraine was Rinat Akhmetov, the country’s richest man and a key funder of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. Deripaska introduced Manafort to Akhmetov, who hailed from Russia-leaning Eastern Ukraine. In the summer of 2005, Akhmetov tapped Manafort to help Yanukovych and his party in the 2006 elections”.
OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE? WHY DID BOENTE RESIGN SUDDENLY?
Newsweek reports, “A Democratic lawmaker wants to examine the abrupt resignation of a prominent Department of Justice official with connections to the special counsel’s Russia investigation. On Wednesday, Senator Chris Coons asked the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing about the October resignation of Dana Boente, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.” Of note is the fact that “special counsel Robert Mueller reportedly began using a grand jury around July to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible coordination with the Trump campaign” in the Eastern District of Virginia. Newsweek notes, “Boente, who has been at the Justice Department for more than three decades, is also resigning from his role as an acting assistant attorney general. He will stay at the department until the Senate confirms President Donald Trump’s nominee for that role. Early in the Trump administration, he served as acting attorney general and acting deputy attorney general.”
FUSION GPS FINANCIAL RECORDS UNSEALED ON THANKSGIVING
Newsweek reports, “Fusion GPS, the research firm that commissioned a dossier featuring explosive and salacious allegations over President Donald Trump’s links to Russia, has accused the president’s allies of ‘another desperate attempt’ to discredit its findings. On Thursday, a federal court unsealed documents related to Fusion GPS’ bank records as part of an ongoing legal battle with the House Intelligence Committee.” Newsweek notes, “Reports in right-wing media have seized upon records showing that Fusion GPS gave money to multiple journalists last year, accusing the firm of paying reporters to publish stories corroborating the dossier.” Recall who is behind the subpoena to reveal these records: DARKNESS AT NUNES. Newsweek adds, “records unsealed Thursday detailed payments received from another law firm, BakerHostetler. The House Intelligence Committee, and specifically Nunes, has sought those records over allegations that Fusion GPS acted as an unregistered foreign agent for its work for BakerHostetler, which represented the Russian holding firm Prevezon in its defense of money laundering charges.” The Prevezon money laundering scheme was at the heart of the Sergey Magnitsky case and the subsequent Magnisky Act which has so angered the Kremlin as it amounts to targeted sanctions against Putin allies and associates. Newsweek is careful to note, “The bank records show that Fusion GPS was paid $523,651 by BakerHostetler between March 2016 and October 2016. Fusion GPS’s detractors, including Bill Browder, who spearheaded the passage of the Magnitsky Act, and Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, have accused the firm of conducting a smear campaign on behalf of the Russian government to defeat the act.”
PRINCELING JARED SEES PORTFOLIO SHRINK AMID FAILURE TO DO A THING
The Washington Post reports princeling Jared’s “once-sprawling White House portfolio, which came with walk-in privileges to the Oval Office, has been diminished to its original scope under Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, and he has notably receded from public view.” The Washington Post notes that on paper, “He still maintains the broad portfolio he took on at the beginning of the administration that made him a punchline among aides on Capitol Hill: peace in the Middle East; matters regarding Canada, Mexico and China; and the Office of American Innovation”. The Washington Post reports, “He attends meetings of his innovation group once a week, often on a Tuesday or Wednesday for an hour-long check-in and progress update. The innovation office launched with great fanfare in March, but some aides recently said they could not pinpoint exactly what it has accomplished.” Of course, princeling Jared is also working towards peace in the Middle East, a noble and wholly unattainable goal for someone so adept at nothing but nepotism. But he’s really good at nepotism!
From The Washington Post.
ARYAN PRINCESS IVANKA WON’T BE SUPPORTED BY STATE ON INDIA TRIP
CNN reports, “Days ahead of what should be a major moment for Ivanka Trump on the world stage,” the State Department has hung Aryan princess out to dry as “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson isn’t sending a high-level delegation to support her amid reports of tensions between Tillerson and the White House.” Sad! CNN adds, “Tillerson’s decision not to send senior State Department officials to this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit, being held in India,” very much has “to do with the fact Ivanka Trump is leading the US delegation this year.” CNN notes, “The State Department puts on the large yearly event, which Secretary of State John Kerry and even President Obama attended multiple times.” So interpret this as quite the snub of Aryan princess Ivanka’s efforts as a stateswoman, which let’s face it are floundering even in the one department she claims to know: fashion. But like princeling Jared, she too is also amazingly adept at nepotism!
ACTIVE MEASURES WATCH: STATE’S FROZEN WAR
Wired reports, “The US anti-propaganda effort extends beyond just the GEC [Global Engagement Center]; other corridors of the State Department and the Department of Defense monitor Russia’s actions closely, as well. But even as Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle interrogate US tech companies about their role in disseminating this disinformation, former State Department staffers say that the government agency specifically tasked with analyzing and combating this issue has effectively been frozen.” That’s why TRUMPISTAN WATCH is here! You have heard of Deep State? ¡Bienvenido al Shadow State! One former State Department staffer told Wired, “On this issue of state aggression, I would say we’re doing almost zilch”. That is how you know our adversary has our state department and T Rex in a straight jacket. According to Wired, “In July of last year, Republican senator Rob Portman and Democratic senator Chris Murphy introduced the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act, which created a second mission for the GEC: attacking state-sponsored propaganda. Even though the US government was aware of Russian meddling in the presidential election earlier, it wasn’t until December, when President Obama signed the bill into law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, that responding to this new threat fell under the GEC’s purview.” To be clear, this much is not out of the ordinary, the NDAA is an annual fall procession of budget maneuvering through the defense community in the fall in Washington. Wired notes, “After the inauguration, the central challenge was securing the budget President Obama approved for the GEC, which set aside up to $60 million per year for two years to fight state-sponsored propaganda. That money was to be transferred from the Department of Defense to the Department of State, but initiating that transfer was entirely up to the Secretary of State’s discretion,” something they failed to do. Let that sink in. When does a department or bureaucrats refuse money that isn’t truly dirty? When? (Merch plug: shop the SAVE THE STATE DEPARTMENT collection at the TRUMPISTAN WATCH merch shop.)
FBI NEVER TOLD RUSSIANS’ U.S. HACKING TARGETS
The AP reports, “The FBI failed to notify scores of U.S. officials that Russian hackers were trying to break into their personal Gmail accounts despite having evidence for at least a year that the targets were in the Kremlin’s crosshairs”. According to AP, “Nearly 80 interviews with Americans targeted by Fancy Bear, a Russian government-aligned cyberespionage group, turned up only two cases in which the FBI had provided a heads-up. Even senior policymakers discovered they were targets only when the AP told them, a situation some described as bizarre and dispiriting.” The AP adds, “Among them: a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, retired Lt. Gen. Patrick Hughes; a former head of Air Force Intelligence, retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula; a former defense undersecretary, Eric Edelman; and a former director of cybersecurity for the Air Force, retired Lt. Gen. Mark Schissler.” The AP adds, “An AP analysis of the data suggests that out of 312 U.S. military and government figures targeted by Fancy Bear, 131 clicked the links sent to them. That could mean that as many as 2 in 5 came perilously close to handing over their passwords.” The AP reports, “A former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, who like many others was repeatedly targeted by Fancy Bear but has yet to receive any warning from the FBI, said the lackluster response risked something worse than last year’s parade of leaks.” Wake up, wake up, wake up!
From the AP.
U.S. CITIZENS AMONG CITGO EXECS DETAINED BY VENEZUELA
The Wall Street Journal reports, “American citizens were among the executives at Citgo Petroleum Corp. that the Venezuelan intelligence agency arrested here on Tuesday”. The Washington Post adds, “The arrests here of six top executives of Citgo, the U.S. subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned oil giant, amount to a dramatic shake-up in the leadership of the oil interests that have been keeping embattled President Nicolás Maduro in power. The move suggests a possible attempt by the government to ensure the loyalty of Citgo’s management”. The Washington Post adds news details as “Venezuelan authorities on Tuesday arrested the six — including Citgo’s chief executive — alleging that they had sought to defraud the nation through a $4 billion financial deal.” While The Wall Street Journal headline notes four of the six arrested are U.S. citizens, The Washington Post reports, “At least five of the detained executives are U.S. citizens”. Recall, “Houston-based Citgo has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Venezuela’s oil giant since 1990,” which is currently propped up by loans from Russian oil giant Rosneft. Reuters reports, “Venezuela’s government on Wednesday named Asdrubal Chavez, a former oil minister and cousin of the late leader Hugo Chavez, as the new president of U.S.-based refiner Citgo,” noting, “President Nicolas Maduro made the announcement in a broadcast on state television.” On Thursday, Reuters adds the State Department “asked the government of leftist Nicolas Maduro for access to Venezuelan-American executives of U.S.-based refiner Citgo”. Also on Thursday, Reuters reports, “All six men are being held in the headquarters of Venezuela’s military counterintelligence department in Caracas, the country’s state prosecutor said in a statement”. Reuters reports, “Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA said on Friday it was making last-minute payments on two bonds close to default, including one backed by shares in U.S.-based refiner Citgo”.
KAZAKH CANADIAN HACKER IN YAHOO BREACH TO PLEAD GUILTY
Reuters reports, “A Canadian accused by the United States of helping Russian intelligence agents break into email accounts as part of a massive 2014 breach of Yahoo accounts is expected to plead guilty” this week. According to Reuters, “Karim Baratov, who earlier this year waived his right to fight a U.S. request for his extradition from Canada, is scheduled to appear in federal court in San Francisco on Tuesday for the plea hearing”. Recall, “Baratov, a 22-year-old Canadian citizen born in Kazakhstan, was arrested in Canada in March at the request of U.S. prosecutors.” Reuters adds, “Prosecutors said that the FSB officers, Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin, directed and paid hackers to obtain information and used Alexsey Belan, who is among the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s most-wanted cyber criminals, to breach Yahoo. When the FSB officers learned that a target had a non-Yahoo webmail account, including through information obtained from the Yahoo hack, they worked with Baratov, who was who paid to break into at least 80 email accounts, prosecutors said.”
PUTIN SIGNS MEDIA FOREIGN AGENTS BILL
CNN reports, “Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed amendments into law that will allow foreign media outlets in Russia to be listed as ‘foreign agents,’ according to state-run news agency Sputnik news.” Former journalism school professor of TRUMPISTAN WATCH, “Tom Kent, president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, said it was too early to speculate on the effects of the new amendments.” Just a hunch increased harassment and stepped up intimidation tactics will be on the menu. BBC adds, “At least nine US-funded broadcasters, including Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty could be hit.”
RUSSIA THROWS WEIGHT BEHIND ARRESTED OLIGARCH IN NICE
Reuters reports, “The Kremlin said on Wednesday it will spare no effort to defend the rights of Suleiman Kerimov, a Russian businessman and lawmaker who was arrested in the French Riviera resort of Nice in connection with a French tax evasion case.” Reuters notes, “Shares in Polyus, Russia’s biggest gold producer which is controlled by Kerimov’s family, were down on the news of his detention.” Reuters reports, “The 51-year-old billionaire would be presented to a judge with a view to formally placing him under judicial investigation, a French public prosecutor said in Nice on Wednesday.” Kremlin shill Dmitry Peskov said, “We will do everything in our power to protect his lawful interests”. Reuters notes, “Originally from the mainly Muslim Russian region of Dagestan, Kerimov built his multi-billion natural resources business through a combination of debt, an appetite for risk, and political connections. He owned top flight soccer club Anzhi Makhachkala until he sold it in 2016. Kerimov’s fortune peaked at $17.5 billion in 2008 before slumping to just $3 billion in 2009”. So this should make the kleptocrats in Moscow and the French Riviera, Knightsbridge and wherever else they hide their families and wealth just a tad bit nervous. Good. Deutsche Welle reports, “The Russian Foreign Ministry‘s press service told the Agence France Presse (AFP) news agency on Monday that senior French diplomat Paul-Bertrand Barets had been summoned for a consultation.”
PUTIN SAYS PREPARE FOR WAR PRODUCTION
The Independent reports, “Russian business should be prepared to switch to production to military needs at any time, said Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. The Russian president was speaking at a conference of military leaders in Sochi.” Putin said, “The ability of our economy to increase military production and services at a given time is one of the most important aspects of military security,” adding, “To this end, all strategic, and simply large-scale enterprise should be ready, regardless of ownership.”
From The Independent.
RUSSIA, TURKEY + IRAN MOUTH PEACE, PAY LIP SERVICE TO IT IN SOCHI
The New York Times reports, “Leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran announced an agreement on Wednesday to sponsor a conference aimed at achieving a peaceful settlement of the Syria war. The announcement by the three leaders, who were meeting in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, underscored Russia’s increasingly influential role in determining the outcome of the war,” without the United States and its influence in world affairs. The New York Times notes, “The conference they proposed, also to be held in Sochi, was announced just days before a new round of peace talks was planned in Geneva, convened by a special United Nations envoy, Staffan de Mistura. It was another sign that Mr. de Mistura’s efforts, frustrated for years, have now been overshadowed by Russia’s actions.” The New York Times adds, “Mr. Putin sought to use the Sochi announcement to portray Russia as a flexible diplomatic intermediary in the Syria conflict, despite Russia’s military backing for Mr. Assad”.
From The New York Times.
RUSSIA GOES AFTER CHEMICAL WEAPONS ORGANIZATION
Reuters reports, “After blocking U.N. Security Council action against Syria, Russia has proposed changing the rules for inspectors at the world’s chemical weapons body in The Hague, a move Western diplomats and experts said would undermine its work.” According to Reuters, “At the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), a draft Russian-Iranian decision circulated among the 41 members of the body’s executive council, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, sought to overturn procedures on how OPCW inspectors work and how their findings are shared.” Just to be crystal clear that despite Russian and Syrian denials and obfuscations, “Investigators have already concluded that Syrian government forces were behind later attacks with nerve-agent sarin and chlorine barrel bombs, while Islamic State militants had used sulfur mustard gas.” This is the truth Russia seeks to incinerate.
SUDANESE PRESIDENT OMAR AL BASHIR VISITS RUSSIA
The AP reports, “Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said on a visit to Russia Thursday that his country needs protection from the U.S. and could serve as a gateway to Africa for Moscow.” The AP adds, al-Bashir “accused the U.S. of fomenting the conflict in Sudan,” on his visit to Sochi. Recall, “The Darfur region has been the site of violent conflict since 2003, when rebels took up arms against the government in the capital, Khartoum, accusing it of discrimination and neglect.” Over 300,000 have died in the conflict which has forced 2.7 million refugees, according to the UN. The AP notes, “Al-Bashir, who rose to power in 1989, is on the International Criminal Court’s wanted list for committing crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region.” But for now, he is a guest of the Russian mafia state. Al-Bashir also spoke with Russian state-run Sputnik and alleged the U.S. was seeking to divide his country into five parts.
TURKEY EXPECTS ITS RUSSIAN MISSILES BY 2019
Reuters reports, “Turkey expects to receive its first Russian S-400 surface-to-air missiles in 2019, Defence Minister Nurettin Canikli said on Wednesday, the first time Ankara has given a firm timeline for a deal that has alarmed its NATO allies.” Reuters notes, “Canikli said Turkey was also in talks with the Franco-Italian EUROSAM consortium on developing its own missile defense systems, after signing a memorandum to strengthen cooperation between the three countries in defense projects.”
RUSSIAN AIRCRAFT VIOLATED ESTONIAN AIRSPACE
Estonian Public Broadcasting reports, “A Russian aircraft violated Estonian airspace at around noon on Tuesday. The plane spent less than a minute in Estonian territory. The incident happened in the vicinity of Vaindloo, a small island in the Gulf of Finland.” Estonian Public Broadcasting adds, “The aircraft of the type Ilyushin IL-76 entered Estonian airspace without permission. The plane’s transponder was active, and a flight plan had been submitted. The plane was not in contact with Estonian air traffic control.”
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
REMEMBER THE TIME FAKE RUSSIAN POTUS LEAKED INTEL TO THEM?
Vanity Fair reports in depth on that time our fake Russian POTUS leaked valuable intelligence concerning the fight against ISIS to our great friends at the highest levels of the Russian mafia state, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The intelligence, procured from the Israelis, was the product of an outstanding intel sharing arrangement. As Vanity Fair notes, “In the American-Israeli intelligence relationship, it is customary for the Mossad station chief and his operatives working under diplomatic cover out of the embassy in Washington to go to the C.I.A.’s Langley, Virginia, headquarters when a meeting is scheduled.” Of note, “the N.S.A., the American electronic-intelligence agency that eavesdrops on the world, and Unit 8200, its Israeli counterpart, have an agreement to share the holiest of intelligence holies: raw electronic intercepts.” Vanity Fair reports, “Israel, according to sources with access to the activities of the Mossad and Unit 8200, has delivered information about Russia’s interaction with the Syrian, Iranian, and Hezbollah forces taking the field in the Syrian civil war. And there is little that gets American military strategists more excited than learning what sort of tactics Russia is employing.” According to Vanity Fair, “a small group of Mossad officers and other Israeli intelligence officials took their seats in a Langley conference room on a January morning just weeks before the inauguration of Donald Trump.” It was then “as the meeting was about to break up that an American spymaster solemnly announced there was one more thing: American intelligence agencies had come to believe that Russian president Vladimir Putin had ‘leverages of pressure’ over Trump”. As one senior Israeli spook put it, “if Trump is handing over Israel’s secrets to the Russians, then he just might as well be delivering them to Iran, Russia’s current regional ally.” The senior Israeli military command appears to have come to the conclusion that “Trump betrayed us,” which means, “if we can’t trust him, then we’re going to have to do what is necessary on our own if our back is up against the wall with Iran.”
From Vanity Fair.
HOW THE KREMLIN WANTED 2016 COVERED, REVEALED!
The New Yorker reports, “On a recent Saturday in November, Dimitri Skorobutov, a former editor at Russia’s largest state media company, sat in a bar in Maastricht, a college town in the Netherlands, with journalists from around the world and discussed covering Donald Trump. Skorobutov opened a packet of documents and explained that they were planning guides from Russian state media that showed how the Kremlin wanted the 2016 U.S. Presidential election covered.” The New Yorker adds, “He flipped through his pages and pointed to the coverage guide for August 9, 2016, when Clinton stumbled while climbing some steps. The Kremlin wanted to play the story up big.” The New Yorker notes, “Skorobutov said in his speech that the pro-Trump perspective extended from Kremlin-controlled media to the Moscow élite.” The slogan: “Trump is our president.” How horrible. Of course, “when he won the elections, on 9th November, 2016, Russian Parliament or State Duma even applauded him and arranged a champagne party celebrating the victory of Donald Trump.”
From The New Yorker.
THE RUSSIANS REALLY WANT US TO KNOW THEY DID THIS
Washington Monthly reports on yet another victory dance in the end zone after the November 9, 2016 coup. Russian internet personality and Kremlin hack Konstantin Rykov surely did as much in posting on Facebook following the coup about how four years earlier he received a thumbs up pic sent from a jet from Trump after Obama won reelection and Trump tweeted, “We should march on Washington”. Rykov had responded, “I’m ready. What should I do?” In the second post, Rykov stated Russia wanted to “Ensure the victory of Donald in the election of the US President. Then create a political alliance between the United States, France, Russia (and a number of other states) and establish a new world order.” He goes on, “Our idea was insane, but realizable.” Curiously Rykov adds, “British scientists from Cambridge Analytica suggested making 5,000 existing human psychotypes — the ‘ideal image’ of a possible Trump supporter. Then.. put this image back on all psychotypes and thus pick up a universal key to anyone and everyone.” Rykov notes, “The next step was to develop a system for transferring tasks and information, so that no intelligence and NSA could burn it.” As Washington Monthly notes, “Keep in mind that this was all written just four days after Trump was elected.” Rykov has been described as, “chief voice and troll for the Kremlin on Twitter.” Furthermore, “he actually served in the Duma, Russia’s parliament, as a member of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia political party.”
From Washington Monthly.
THE NORMALIZATION OF TRUMP + PUTIN PASSTIME OF PEDOPHILIA
The Washington Post reports, “President Trump gave a boost Tuesday to embattled Republican candidate Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race, warning against a Democratic victory and emphasizing that the former judge ‘totally denies’ allegations of inappropriate relationships with teenage girls.” Recall the fake Russian president himself stands accused of walking in on teenage girls in the dressing room of his beauty pageants, groping and assaulting numerous women, and is recorded on tape boasting that “when you’re a star, they let you do it” adding that he likes to “grab them by the pussy.” Putin was accused of pedophilia by since poisoned to death KGB defector Alexander Litvinenko of the famous polonium tea at London’s Mayfair Hotel. Then there is also the uncomfortable video of Putin lifting up a young boy’s shirt and kisses his stomach taken at the height of his power while touring the Kremlin. So the normalization of pedophilia begins! Wait until this sours our national youth organizations, such as the Boy Scouts where Trump already gave a stunningly distasteful speech – even for him – earlier this year. Or as The Washington Post warns, “Trickle-down authoritarianism is here.”
THE FORMER EBOLA CZAR WARNS OF TRUMP’S COURT PACKING SCHEME
Ronald Klain, most noteworthy in the public eye as Obama’s former ebola czar, writes in The Washington Post, “Conservatives have a new court-packing plan, and in the spirit of the holiday, it’s a turducken of a scheme: a regulatory rollback hidden inside a civil rights reversal stuffed into a Trumpification of the courts. If conservatives get their way, President Trump will add twice as many lifetime members to the federal judiciary in the next 12 months (650) as Barack Obama named in eight years(325). American law will never be the same.” That is a true fakt. The Washington Post adds, “Sessions is methodically reshaping the Justice Department to reflect his nationalist ideology and hard-line views.” The Washington Post notes, “The Justice Department has similarly rolled back Obama administration positions in court cases over voting rights.” This is what dictators do to subvert the course of justice and free and fair elections.
KASPERSKY STILL ON GOVERNMENT CONTRACTORS’ COMPUTERS
POLITICO reports, “The Trump administration’s order barring certain Russian software from government networks doesn’t fully cover one troubling vulnerability — the teeming ranks of government contractors.” Of course, “That omission could leave open gateways for hackers looking to pilfer government secrets, cybersecurity specialists warn,” POLITICO notes.
KLEPTOCRACY WATCH: TRUMP WINE ON SALE IN A NATIONAL PARK
Town and Country reports, “Trump Winery may not be one of the largest wineries in the country like the president said it was in August, but it got a sales boost from a store in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park.” Now Town and Country, the fluffy society publication, is calling out Trump’s lies? Embarrassing. Citing a report in The Hill, Town and Country notes, “Delaware North Cos., which is in charge of the concessions at the Skyland Resort lodging area on the park grounds, sold Trump wine throughout 2016 and as recently as September.”
From Town and Country.
TRUMP CLAIMS HE REJECTED TIME “MAN OF THE YEAR” OFFER
Oh man, let’s hope it’s Special Counsel Robert Mueller this year. The AP reports, “Time magazine is disputing President Donald Trump’s account of how he rejected the magazine’s request for an interview and photo sessions ahead of its ‘Person of the Year’ issue.” On Friday evening, Trump tweeted, “the magazine informed him he was ‘probably’ going to be granted the title for the second year in a row.” The AP adds, “Later that evening, Time tweeted that Trump ‘is incorrect about how we choose Person of the Year.’” The AP notes, “He has falsely claimed to hold the record of cover appearances.” He has also had a fake cover featuring himself made and hung in his clubs before.
From the AP.
TRUMP ENDORSES FAUX NEWS FOX OVER TRUE FAKT-BASED CNN
The Huffington Post reports, “Donald Trump’s favorite news network is ‘much more important’ than the often critical CNN, the president tweeted Saturday.” The Huffington Post notes, “The president also accused CNN of spreading ‘fake news’ around the world, saying CNN International represents America ‘very poorly.’ CNN snapped back that it’s not the network’s job to represent the U.S. to the world — it’s the president’s.” Smack. Also on Saturday, Newsweek reports, “President Donald Trump Saturday re-tweeted and thanked a website showcasing his achievements —that has also promoted conspiracy theories and anti-Semitism.” Great. Real news! Newsweek notes, “The website has in the past published articles promoting the conspiracy theory that DNC staffer Seth Rich was murdered on the orders of Hillary Clinton, and that banking is corrupted by ‘certain bloodlines,’” i.e. Jewish blood is incompatible with pure Christian blood, as the centuries-old racist trope goes. As a made in American mix of both, TRUMPISTAN WATCH can vouch for the fact that this is total bullshit.
TODAY IN LIGHT DISINFORMATION
The Washington Post reports, “President Trump is at Mar-a-Lago, his resort in Palm Beach, Fla., for the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s the Wednesday of Thanksgiving week, a day that can generally be fairly described as low-key for most people,” adding, “‘Low-key’ is also how deputy White House press secretary Lindsay Walters described the day to the press pool Wednesday morning.” But then insanity of the White House’s right brain interceded and “Less than 10 minutes later, though, the White House asked the press pool for a correction. ‘While the White House communications staff expects the press pool to have a “low-key day,”’ the update from The Washington Post’s Jenna Johnson wrote, ‘the president will NOT have a low-key day and has a full schedule of meetings and phone calls.’” Note, “Over the course of his presidency, Trump has spent all or part of 98 days at properties associated with his private business — once every 3.1 days,” and passed the 100 day mark at Trump properties over the Thanksgiving holiday, an abomination that means being president is like a part time side gig used to rally the klan and the white nationalists, Nazis. Of course, “About an hour after Johnson sent out her update about how Trump wouldn’t be having a ‘low-key’ day after all, another update from the press pool: Trump was departing Mar-a-Lago for destination unknown. Ten minutes later, the destination was revealed: The president is spending his morning at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach.” Surprise! TRUMPISTAN WATCH knows you did not expect that ending.
From The Washington Post.
THE DEATH OF NET NEUTRALITY WILL KILL THE TRUE FAKT RESISTANCE
The Globe and Mail carries a column by Sarah Kendzior, where she notes, “For nearly a year, we have exercised First Amendment rights like we were working a defibrillator on democracy’s damaged heart. We debunked lies, catalogued crimes, demanded justice and created a vast, informal movement dedicated to the pursuit of truth over alternative facts.” However, “that may be about to end. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission announced it was planning a sweeping rollback of net neutrality, allowing corporations to decide what content is available online while pricing most citizens out of equal access to information.” The result, Kendzior notes, is that “For nearly a year, America has stood at the crossroads of a damaged democracy and a burgeoning autocracy. If net neutrality is destroyed, we will cross firmly into the latter, and our return is unlikely.” Kendzior recalls history, that unknown known to many Americans, insofar as, “The erosion of freedom of speech and assembly has always been a hallmark of dictatorship, one traditionally associated with formal decrees of censorship or dramatic acts like book burning.” Kendzior observes, “technology can be manipulated while excessive litigation can force the media into self-censorship. The subtler gesture of removing the neutrality of the internet allows constitutional rights to remain intact on paper but demolished in practice.”
From The Globe and Mail.
FAKEBOOK WILL TELL USERS ONLY IF THEY FOLLOWED FAKE RUSSIAN BS
Axios reports, “Facebook will tell users whether they followed pages set up by Russian operatives as part of a broad campaign to interfere in the 2016 election”. According to Axios, “The social network said Wednesday that it will create a page on its support website that will tell a user which pages and accounts they followed on Facebook and Instagram that have been linked to a Russian troll farm involved in the election campaign. Users will also be able to see when they followed the account.” Axios adds, “What they’re not doing: Telling users whether they were exposed to content from the pages in their Newsfeed, even if they didn’t follow them. Users may have seen content that spread organically or as a result of a paid ad. Facebook has argued that it’s especially difficult to be able to show that information,” but fails to state that as Google’s ex-Chief Ethicist Tristan Harris points out, “THAT. IS. A. LIE.” Also, just one troll farm? But there are so many! Then, it’s decontextualized so all surrounding context of the moment in history is lost. Furthermore, this may end up understating the problem, which is in fact one we were all effected by because active measures are black in white in message but in reach it is all gray. (MeCheck out the accumulating RU SOCIAL DISINFO on the TRUMPISTAN WATCH website for examples of groups, avatars and content and corresponding merchandise in the TRUMPISTAN WATCH merch shop.)
RUSSIAN CENSOR WARNS TWITTER OVER DATA LAW COMPLIANCE
Reuters reports, “Russia’s communications watchdog Roskomnadzor said on Monday it would check next year if Twitter has complied with the law requiring all companies to store personal data of Russian citizens on Russian soil.” Reuters notes, “Last year Russia blocked access to social networking website LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, after a court found the firm guilty of violating Russia’s data law.”
MORE BOTS FOR WHICH TWITTER DOES NOTHING UNTIL PUBLICLY SHAMED
BuzzFeed reports it “has uncovered a new network of suspected Twitter propaganda accounts – sharing messages about Brexit, Donald Trump, and Angela Merkel – that have close connections to the Russian-linked bot accounts identified by the social media platform in its evidence to the US Congress.” But surprise! BuzzFeed notes, “The relative ease of discovery raises serious questions as to just how many Russian-linked bots may still be active on Twitter, how the company identifies and removes such accounts, and whether its process for identifying accounts for its evidence was inadequate,” which hello yes, yes it was, is, and will continue to be until an adult steps into the infant intellect sanctuary that is Twitter hq. As BuzzFeed notes, “within 24 hours,” of notifying Twitter, “all 45 had been suspended.” But that leaves so many thousands of others! The bots in question “appeared to have taken their profile pictures from other users’ social media accounts – a common tactic of bots and propaganda accounts. The pictures used included those of an Estonian cartographer, a Dutch photographer, a Swedish hardware consultant, and an Estonian shaman.”
OUT TO LUNCH: MILO YIANNOPOULOS + UK RUSSIAN NEWSPAPER OWNER
BuzzFeed reports, “Evgeny Lebedev, the media mogul who owns the Independent and the London Evening Standard, met with disgraced journalist turned right-wing activist Milo Yiannopoulos for lunch in London on Tuesday”. BuzzFeed adds, “Lebedev, who also owns TV channel London Live, has kept in regular contact with the cheerleader of the alt-right over recent years.”
—–TOWARDS A PEACEFUL NUCLEAR EXCHANGE—–
A FRIENDLY PSA FROM THE WASHINGTON POST: DON’T BE REASSURED
The Washington Post reports, “In the United States the president, and only the president, has the authority to order the unleashing of nuclear weapons. This power is not given by the Constitution, nor any specific law. It results from a series of Cold War-era decisions made secretly by the executive branch and the U.S. military.” The Washington Post thereby advises, “Which means recent statements by current and former four-star commanders of the Strategic Command — the branch of the military that would launch nuclear weapons were such a thing to happen — that the military would only carry out ‘legal’ presidential orders to use nukes shouldn’t be particularly reassuring.” Duck and cover, children. The Washington Post notes, “News coverage of these comments seemed to convey the idea that the military could be a fail-safe to prevent a nuclear launch, but the opposite remains true.” Recall, “Both Gen. John Hyten, the head of U.S. Strategic Command, and retired Gen. C. Robert Kehler, the commander from 2011 to 2013, have spoken recently about not following ‘illegal’ orders to use nukes. Speaking at the Halifax International Security Forum last weekend, Hyten said he’d push back: ‘I provide advice to the president, he will tell me what to do,’ he said. ‘And if it’s illegal, guess what’s going to happen? I’m going to say, “Mr. President, that’s illegal.” And guess what he’s going to do? He’s going to say, “What would be legal?” And we’ll come up with options, with a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that’s the way it works. It’s not that complicated.’” There is the obvious question of, “What if the White House legal staff came up with their own arguments in favor of a rash attack?” The Washington Post notes, “The past 50 years of American warfare has shown that presidents and their advisers have been able to come up with ‘just war’ arguments for every military engagement, no matter how stretched in retrospect.” History is such a downer for pointing out obvious truths we Americans always try and ignore in favor of reinventing the wheel and expecting different results each time.
From The Washington Post.
—–RADIO MOSCOW: STORIES FROM THEIR PRESS AND OURS—–
TWO MORE RUSSIAN ATHLETES STRIPPED OF SOCHI OLYMPIC MEDALS
The AP reports, “Two more Russian athletes were stripped of their Olympic medals from the 2014 Sochi Games on Wednesday, leaving the United States as the country with the most medals.” According to the AP, “Four Russians, all skeleton racers, were banned by the International Olympic Committee for doping, including men’s gold medalist Alexander Tretyakov and women’s bronze medalist Elena Nikitina.” The salt on Russia’s wound: “The ban for Tretyakov puts Latvia in line for its first Winter Olympic gold medal. If the IOC formally reallocates the medals, Martins Dukurs would be upgraded to gold,” the AP notes.
From the AP.
RUSSIA PULLS 2023 BASKETBALL WORLD CUP BID
The AP reports, “Russia has withdrawn a bid to host the 2023 basketball World Cup, saying that international criticism of the country’s athletes was to blame for the decision.” Recall, “Russia’s doping scandals across various sports have caused it to be stripped of numerous Olympic medals”.
From the AP.
POPE FRANCIS TO VISIT THE BALTIC STATES NEXT YEAR
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “Pope Francis will visit the Baltic states in 2018 as Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania mark 100 years since they gained independence from Russia, the presidents of the three countries said on November 22.” Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said, “The occasion is beautiful because the Baltic states will celebrate the centenary”. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty adds, “Representatives from the offices of Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis and Estonia’s Kersti Kaljulaid also confirmed the likelihood of a papal visit, the Baltic News Service reported.” Recall, “Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia declared independence from Russia in 1918. They remained independent until World War II, when the Soviet Union annexed them after making a deal with Nazi Germany. Some countries, including the United States, never officially recognized the annexation. The countries broke free from the Soviet Union in 1990-91, eventually joining the European Union and NATO.”
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