—–ON THE AGENDA—–
NATO SPEAKS OUT ABOUT INF TREATY VIOLATIONS
The AP reports, “NATO says it is concerned about a Russian missile system that could carry nuclear warheads, and believes it violates a landmark Cold War arms treaty. The U.S.-led military alliance said in a statement Friday that ‘allies have identified a Russian missile system that raises serious concerns.’” The AP adds, “NATO fears the system, which it did not identify, contravenes the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.”
From the AP.
TRUMP SPOKE TO HIS MASTER, SAD LITTLE VOVA
Bloomberg reports, “President Donald Trump spoke with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, amid the intensifying investigation into whether the Kremlin meddled in last year’s U.S. election to help Trump win.” Yesterday was also Putin’s annual presser and the little guy in the Kremlin was effusive in his praise of the Great Lunatic and, like our fake bullshit president, also denies their shared crime: hacking the 2016 election. According to Bloomberg, “The White House said Trump thanked Putin for ‘acknowledging America’s strong economic performance.’ The phone conversation came after a request from the U.S., the Kremlin said in an emailed statement.” So. Much. Vomit. And. Bullshit.
OBAMALAND SOURCE: PRINCELING JARED IS HEADED OUT THE DOOR
While not as strong on Obamaland sources as Lynn Sweet, who the Obama administration could faithfully drop news with and expect it reprinted with few to no tweaks, The Chicago Sun-Times gossip columnist Michael Sneed reportedly “hears rumbles Jared Kushner, husband of President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, may be this/close to pulling the plug on his White House career.” Oh boy! Do you hear the rat-tat-tat of an opening salvo for the drumbeats of an indictment as TRUMPISTAN WATCH does? “A top source familiar with the workings of the White House claims Kushner’s move would be prompted by the erosion of his influence because of ‘the beacon pointed at his neck’ stemming from the Russian probe conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller,” Sneed reports. The Chicago Sun-Times wraps up this delicious with “Kushner is rumored to be considering exiting his major White House roles sometime during the holiday season.” Happy holidays!!!
From The Chicago Sun-Times.
EMIN IS BACK IN THE NEWS!
Remember the kitsch Azerbaijan-Russian popstar Emin? How could you forget him if you read TRUMPISTAN WATCH, which has tracked this kid’s career for years, before even Donald Trump was a blip on the political radar. Now The Washington Post reports, “About a month after Donald Trump launched his presidential bid, a British music promoter suggested his Russian pop-star client could arrange for the new candidate to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to an email obtained by The Washington Post.” The Washington Post notes, “The July 2015 offer by publicist Rob Goldstone came about a year before he set up a meeting for Trump’s eldest son with a Russian lawyer who he said had incriminating information about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.” The Washington Post reports, “Scott Balber, an attorney for the pop star Emin Agalarov, said Agalarov asked Goldstone to invite Trump to his father’s party but was not aware that the publicist dangled the possibility of meeting with Putin.” According to The Washington Post, Trump’s personal assistant Rhona “Graff responded two days later, telling Goldstone that Trump would probably not be able to attend the party.”
From The Washington Post.
14 FORMER OFFICIALS SIGN AMICUS BRIEF AGAINST TRUMP, ROGER STONE
Business Insider reports, “Fourteen former national security, intelligence, and foreign policy officials who have served at senior levels in Republican and Democratic administrations recently co-wrote an amicus brief as part of a lawsuit brought against President Donald Trump’s campaign and Roger Stone, Trump’s longtime confidant.” Business Insider adds, “The lawsuit was filed in July by three private citizens whose personal information was stolen in hacks of the Democratic National Committee and published by WikiLeaks. The plaintiffs have argued that the Trump campaign, Stone, ‘and those they conspired with arranged for the hacked information to be provided to WikiLeaks.’ The Trump campaign and Stone have filed motions to dismiss the complaint. The plaintiffs responded to those motions on December 1. They laid out, among other things, a ‘motive to collaborate’ between the campaign and Russia and points of contact during the election.” Business Insider reports, “Former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former NSA Director Michael Hayden and 11 other former officials filed the amicus brief on December 8. Among the other officials were former Deputy National Security Adviser Avril Haines, former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, and former acting CIA Director Michael Morrell. The brief was submitted in support of neither party, and the former officials emphasized in the document that they could not disclose classified information. But their message was clear: The Kremlin uses local actors to help amplify the scope and impact of its influence operations, such as the one it carried out on the US election in 2016.” The opening paragraph cites a KGB General, Oleg Kalugin, TRUMPISTAN WATCH interviewed for Foreign Policy a decade ago.
From Business Insider.
CONGRESS WANTS TO SUBPOENA BRAD PARSCALE, ALEXANDER NIX, OTHERS
Business Insider reports, “The ranking members of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees want to subpoena two of the data firms hired by President Donald Trump’s campaign team for documents related to their potential engagement with foreign actors like Russia and WikiLeaks during the election. Reps. Elijah Cummings and Jerry Nadler sent a letter to Cambridge Analytica’s CEO Alexander Nix and Giles-Parscale cofounder Brad Parscale – who also served as the Trump campaign’s digital director – in October.” Business Insider adds, “The letter was also sent to the heads of Deep Root Analytics, TargetPoint Consulting, and The Data Trust, which were among the outfits hired by the Republican National Committee to bolster the Trump campaign’s data operation.”
From Business Insider.
DEUTSCHE BANK FLAGGED SUSPECT MANAFORT TRANSACTIONS
The Wall Street Journal reports, “Deutsche Bank AG earlier this year flagged around $30 million in potentially suspicious transactions as part of an internal investigation into its role as a conduit for money involving Paul Manafort or people and entities connected to him”.
From The Wall Street Journal.
FCC VOTES AGAINST NET NEUTRALITY, FREE SPEECH + DEMOCRACY
POLITICO reports, “The FCC today voted 3-2 along party lines to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality regulations, handing a victory to telecom providers over the objections of tech companies including Netflix, Reddit and Etsy. The agency’s Republican majority approved a plan to scrap the rules preventing internet providers like Comcast and AT&T from blocking or slowing web traffic, or creating so-called paid internet fast lanes.” If TRUMPISTAN WATCH’s website is slower to load some day soon, now you know why. And you can direct your complaints to the GOP death cult that does not even pretend to govern or speak for anyone but the billionaire plutocrats, corporate interests and Russian adversaries they actually represent. And a very special fuck you to the FCC Chariman Ajit Pai (more on him in “KNOW YOUR ENEMY” today). Nonetheless, this is not over as it has to go through Congress yet. Get ready to make some noise.
BRITISH DEFENSE HEAD SAYS RUSSIA COULD CUT NATO NATIONS’ INTERNET
The Guardian reports, “Russia could pose a major threat to the UK and other Nato nations by cutting underwater cables essential for international commerce and the internet, the chief of the British defence staff, Sir Stuart Peach, has warned. Russian ships have been regularly spotted close to the Atlantic cables that carry communications between the US and Europe and elsewhere in the world.” (See today’s “KNOW YOUR ENEMY” on Russia’s San Francisco consulate for more to this effect.) The Guardian notes, “The warning came a fortnight after the centre-right thinktank Policy Exchange issued a report saying 97% of global communications and $10tn in daily financial transactions were transmitted through such cables.” The Guardian adds, “The report, written by Conservative MP Rishi Sunak, cited US intelligence officials speaking about Russian submarines ‘aggressively operating’ near Atlantic cables. Sunak added that when Russia annexed Crimea in 2013, an early move was to cut the main cable connecting it to the rest of the world.” Do not say you were not warned.
From The Guardian.
DECONFLICTION JUNCTION, WHAT’S YOUR FUNCTION? SYRIA REDUX
CNN reports, “Two US F-22 stealth fighters intercepted two Russian aircraft Wednesday after the Russian jets crossed the Euphrates River in Syria, flying east of the ‘de-confliction line’ that is supposed to separate Russian and US-led coalition aircraft operating over Syria”. CNN adds, “The US jets fired warning flares during the intercept of the two Russian Su-25 close air support jets according to the officials after they crossed the de-confliction line multiple times. One of the officials said a Russian Su-35 fighter jet was also involved and that the aerial encounter lasted ‘several minutes.’”
EUROPE EXTENDS RUSSIA SANCTIONS
The AP reports, “The European Union has extended sanctions against Russia because of the stalled peace process in Ukraine. EU Council President Donald Tusk said at Thursday’s summit of the 28 EU leaders that they were “united on the roll-over of economic sanctions on Russia.’”
From the AP.
PUTIN PRETENDS HE SPEAKS FOR RUSSIAN PEOPLE TO SOBCHAK’S QUESTION
BBC News reports on Putin’s nearly four hour long annual pony show presser yesterday that “Kseniya Sobchak, a celebrity and political talk show host,” was present and “asked Mr Putin about the repression of the opposition, including Mr Navalny, and whether the authorities were afraid of competitors.” To this obvious choreography, Putin responded, “I’m sure that the overwhelming majority of Russians don’t want this,” while lying that “he was not afraid of anyone.” If only this were true.
From BBC News.
RUSSIA SETS FAKE ELECTIONS FOR MARCH
CNN, citing Russian state-run TASS, reports, “Russia’s next presidential election will be held on March 18, 2018”.
UDAY’S RUSSIAN LAWYER LADY FRIEND MAKES VIRTUAL NY APPEARANCE
The New York Daily News reports, “The Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. at the height of his dad’s presidential campaign made a virtual appearance Thursday via phone in a Manhattan court. Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lawyer for real estate giant Prevezon, began representing the conglomerate in late 2015, when then-Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was prosecuting a $230 million civil money laundering case against the company. Veselnitskaya, who was on the line with a translator, did not speak during the proceeding.” The New York Daily News notes, “Shortly before the Manhattan Federal Court trial was set to begin last May, prosecutors and Prevezon inked a $5.9 million settlement deal. Prevezon has yet to pay up.”
From The New York Daily News.
DARKNESS AT NUNES LURKS IN THE SHADOWS, CONTINUES UNMASKING SHIT
The Washington Times reports, “Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is scrambling behind the scenes for a legislative answer to one of the Russian election meddling saga’s most festering issues: how names of Trump transition team members swept up in Obama-era intelligence reports were revealed earlier this year.” Ugh it’s DARKNESS AT NUNES striking at things that try and have integrity again. The Washington Times adds, “sources close to the eight-term California Republican say he is quietly engaged in a push to tighten restrictions on the practice of ‘unmasking’ during presidential transitions,” which presumably has meaning to someone in the death cult GOP or their Russian mafia state sponsors. One must wonder why we heard so little concern about FISA and an uptick in surveillance activity over the last 16 years from the GOP death cult when it was regular American citizens, not a puppet regime and Russian agents. Recall that once upon a time, in the time before 2016, this was a left-wing cause.
From The Washington Times.
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
THE RUSSIANS NOW CLOSED SAN FRANCISCO SPY DEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Foreign Policy profiles the now shuttered Russian consulate in San Francisco as “Russia has used San Francisco as a focal point for espionage activity.” Foreign Policy reports, “One former senior counterintelligence executive, for example, recalled the ‘disproportionate number’ of science- and technology-focused Russian intelligence officers based in San Francisco, some of whom were experts in encryption and were tasked with identifying new developments in such technologies in Silicon Valley. A second former intelligence official noted the long-standing interest of Russian intelligence operatives in San Francisco in building relationships with local tech experts and venture capital firms.” Foreign Policy notes, “Starting roughly 10 years ago — and perhaps going even longer back, according to multiple former U.S. intelligence officials — something changed. Suspected Russian intelligence officers, often fully aware they were being surveilled by the FBI, began showcasing inexplicable and bizarre behaviors in remote, forlorn, or just seemingly random places.” Foreign Policy reports, “one recurrent and worrying feature of these activities was that they often happened to correspond to places where underground nodes connected the country’s fiber-optic cable network.” Foreign Policy adds, “the FBI concluded that Russia was engaged in a massive, long-running, and continuous data-collection operation: a mission to comprehensively locate all of America’s underground communications nodes, and to map out and catalogue the points in the fiber-optic network where data were being transferred.” Foreign Policy notes, “what was ‘really unnerving,’ said the former senior counterintelligence executive, was the Russians’ focus on communication nodes near military bases.” The Foreign Policy piece also leaves open the question of whether Russia violated the Open Skies Treaty, which allows for Russia and the U.S. to do a requested “flyover” of the other’s airspace. Russian flyover often involved flying over ground operative in place, leading to questions as to whether there is an effort at secure communication, which would violate the treaty. Fun fact buried in this piece: in 1983, the Reagan administration forbade Russian diplomats from visiting Silicon Valley. What a difference the end of history makes.
From Foreign Policy.
ARYAN PRINCESS IVANKA RELAUNCH ON FIFTH AVENUE
W Magazine reports, “An Ivanka Trump store is opening on Manhattan’s pricy Fifth Avenue inside Trump Tower today in what is characterized as a ‘new era’ for the eponymous contemporary fashion label. It will be the third time the brand has tried to have some sort of physical presence, and the first time in the domestic United States that highlights all of its offerings beyond the now shuttered Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry brand.” One must imagine if Aryan princess Ivanka had a heart, it might beat faster upon such news. W Magazine notes the many past failures: “It’s also a move into its own brick and mortar space, something the brand has long struggled with. When Ivanka Trump herself was still running the brand, she opened a fine jewelry boutique in Manhattan’s Upper East Side in 2007 before relocating it to SoHo in 2011; she quietly shuttered it in 2015. There was also a now-closed Ivanka store in China, and, briefly, there was a fine jewelry mini-boutique inside Trump Tower.” W Magazine notes, “In the absence of its own boutiques, the brand relied on other stores to carry it, but the Trump name led to controversy earlier this year. Several stores, including Nordstrom’s, decided to drop their Ivanka Trump offerings citing lagging sales. This triggered President Trump, as many things do, to angrily tweeting about Nordstrom’s decision, and Conway controversially urging the president’s base to go out and buy items from the brand. In March, the brand also shuttered the fine jewelry line on which it was founded.” Poor little rich girl!
From W Magazine.
FCC CHAIRMAN AJIT PAI HARLEM SHAKES WITH PIZZAGATE TRUTHER
Gizmodo reports, “On Thursday, the Republican-dominated Federal Communications Commission and its chairman, Verizon BFF Ajit Pai, will hold a vote on whether to repeal Barack Obama-era net neutrality rules. If passed, the FCC would allow ISPs to begin setting up a tiered internet designed to suck as much money from customers’ pockets as possible while screwing with their ability to access competitors’ content, or really anything that might suck up amounts of bandwidth inconvenient for their profit margins.” Gizmodo adds, “The plan is immensely unpopular, even with Republicans. This type of situation would typically call for a charm offensive, though Pai has apparently decided to resort to his time-honored tactic of being incredibly condescending instead. In a video with the conservative site Daily Caller’s Benny Johnson—the dude who got fired from BuzzFeed for plagiarizing Yahoo Answers—Pai urged the country to understand that even if he succeeds in his plan to let ISPs strangle the rest of the internet to death, they’ll let us continue to take selfies and other stupid bullshit.” As if this is not insulting enough, Gizmodo notes, “one of the Daily Caller employees that danced alongside Pai in the video seems to be a proponent of Pizzagate, the infamous and completely baseless internet conspiracy theory claiming prominent Washington, D.C. Democrats were running a child sex trafficking ring out of a local pizza restaurant. The woman in question, Daily Caller video produce Martina Markota, appears to the right of Pai during the Harlem Shake portion of the video.” Who are these people? When they go low, we must remind them they are knocking from below.
SUSPICIOUS INCIDENT REROUTES WEB TRAFFIC FOR 3 BIG TECH FIRMS
Ars Technica reports, “Traffic sent to and from Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft was briefly routed through a previously unknown Russian Internet provider Wednesday under circumstances researchers said was suspicious and intentional.” Ars Technica adds, “The unexplained incident involving the Internet’s Border Gateway Protocol is the latest to raise troubling questions about the trust and reliability of communications sent over the global network. BGP routes large-scale amounts of traffic among Internet backbones, ISPs, and other large networks.” Ars Technica notes, “Wednesday’s event comes eight months after large chunks of network traffic belonging to MasterCard, Visa, and more than two dozen other financial services were briefly routed through a Russian government-controlled telecom, also under suspicious circumstances.” Ars Technica reports, “the hijack lasted a total of six minutes and affected 80 separate address blocks. It started at 4:43 UTC and continued for three minutes. A second hijacking occurred at 7:07 UTC and also lasted three minutes. Meanwhile, a second monitoring service, Qrator Labs, said the event lasted for two hours, although the number of hijacked address blocks varied from 40 to 80 during that time.”
From Ars Technica.
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