BuzzFeed News reports, “The fingerprint-analysis software used by the FBI and more than 18,000 other US law enforcement agencies contains code created by a Russian firm with close ties to the Kremlin, according to documents and two whistleblowers.” BuzzFeed notes, “The allegations raise concerns that Russian hackers could gain backdoor access to sensitive biometric information on millions of Americans, or even compromise wider national security and law enforcement computer systems.” Once Mueller is fired, prepare for darkness to descend over these lands if that is the case because Russia likes body counts to prove its brutality – and then likes to hide the truth of its crimes to kill what is left inside of the living. BuzzFeed reports, “The Russian code was inserted into the fingerprint-analysis software by a French company, said the two whistleblowers, who are former employees of that company. The firm — then a subsidiary of the massive Paris-based conglomerate Safran — deliberately concealed from the FBI the fact that it had purchased the Russian code in a secret deal, they said.” According to BuzzFeed, “The Russian company whose code ended up in the FBI’s fingerprint-analysis software has Kremlin connections”. BuzzFeed notes, “The Russian company, Papillon AO, boasts in its own publications about its close cooperation with various Russian ministries as well as the Federal Security Service — the intelligence agency known as the FSB that is a successor of the Soviet-era KGB and has been implicated in other hacks of US targets.” BuzzFeed adds, “In hopes of winning the FBI contract, the Safran subsidiary Sagem Sécurité, later renamed Morpho, licensed the Papillon technology to boost the performance of its own fingerprint-recognition software, the whistleblowers said. Both of them worked for Morpho: Philippe Desbois was the former CEO of the company’s operations in Russia, and Georges Hala worked for Morpho’s business development team in Russia.” BuzzFeed notes, “The company, now named Idemia, has provided fingerprint-recognition software to the Department of Defense and agencies in 28 states and 36 cities or counties across the US,” adding, “Idemia is a powerful lobbying force in Washington, and it is currently fighting to kill legislation that would endanger its status as the sole provider of fingerprint services for the TSA PreCheck program.” All great news!

From BuzzFeed News.



Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “Many foreign investors appear to be using the last days of 2017 to pull money out of Russia amid concern that new U.S. sanctions next year may target Russian oligarchs and state corporations that are close to the Kremlin, media reported on December 26.” Citing a report in the Russian paper Kommersant, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty notes, “The year-end market move away from Russia appears to be reversing a surge of foreign investment that occurred at the beginning of 2017, when investors anticipated a thawing of U.S.-Russian relations under the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.” Ok so this is actually good news.

From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.



Bloomberg reports, “President Vladimir Putin is using the threat of additional U.S. sanctions to encourage wealthy Russians to repatriate some of their overseas assets, which exceed $1 trillion by one estimate.” There is something that will not happen because money not only does not care who owns it, those who do usually do not enjoy throwing it at the fire and holding it hostage to the whims of an oppressive security state if it can be kept safely offshore. Putin has this delusion that the capital restrictions abroad could force money home for safe keeping, which it might to a certain degree. Putin imagines if he waves his hand and says, “People should feel comfortable and secure and it shouldn’t involve additional expenses,” it will be so but rule of law comes from somewhere other than imperial edicts in societies with real economies that are robust, dynamic and safe to invest in. Russia is none of these things. According to Reuters, Putin’s solution is that “Russia should scrap the 13 percent profit tax on funds repatriated from abroad”. For those who are not so dumb, you probably could not pay them to bring their money home to Putin’s hands. Why would you listen to a thief about what to do with your money?

From Bloomberg and Reuters.



Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “The All-Russia People’s Front (ONF), an action group consisting of politicians, celebrities and other well-known Russians, has officially nominated Vladimir Putin as an independent candidate in next year’s presidential election.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty adds, “An ONF meeting in Moscow of almost 700 people, including ballet dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze, director Vladimir Khotinenko, actors Mikhail Boyarsky and Vladimir Mashkov, designer Valentin Yudashkin, pianist Denis Matsuev, and ice hockey player Vladislav Tretyak, formally backed Putin on December 26, a formality needed as part of the process of being an independent candidate.” Independent from what exactly? Scrutiny or law and order?

From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.



Meduza published a translation of Russian opposition candidate Alexey Navlany’s words to the Central Election Commission after he gathered the necessary signatures and attempted to register. In his opening remarks, he states the dilemma that Russia faces: “For the second time in my life, I’m addressing a meeting of the Central Election Commission about the same thing: ‘What, folks, do we have to do, so more people come out to the polls? So that Russian citizens — who for the past 18 years have completely stopped believing that elections have any effect — actually believed in this process again and came to the polls to make a conscious choice and wield some real influence over what’s happening in this country.’ And the amazing thing is that I call on you and call on you, and you always say, ‘No.’” Then he turns to the present Russian reality where, “A hundred thousand people protested against you [in 2011]. The people who came to these demonstrations declared that the authorities — the president and the Central Election Commission — falsified the elections, deceived millions of people, and stole millions of votes. They protested and they told you all this. So you changed a few formal things, but you’ve continued doing the same exact thing.” Navalny ultimately confronts a situation that puts the authorities official statements on the line. “I’m quite certain that the Central Election Commission’s decision not to allow me to compete in this election, if that is your decision, will rob millions of people of their votes,” Navalny said, adding, “You’d be excluding millions of people from the political system itself, because you wouldn’t be giving them the chance to participate in this election.” Lastly Navalny reminds them they are human: “I want to tell you again: you are not robots. You all appear to me to be thoroughly alive. I could reach out and touch each of you rosy, well-fed human beings. And the Central Election Commission is an independent agency.” It is so easy to forget that last part in Russia, especially if one is in the employ of the Russian mafia state. Do not make any mistake: this is as much a threat to Putin’s Russia as the Solidarity trade union was to occupied Poland’s sham government of the workers of the 1980s.

From Meduza.



In the old days of the Cold War, when dissidents on the other side of the curtain achieved their greatest moral strength and victory it was usually by highlighting the absurdities of the regime, by turning the rhetoric and making it into a straightjacket for those in power. Well so too with Navalny’s call to boycott Russia’s sham elections. BBC reports, “The Kremlin says a call by opposition leader Alexei Navalny for a boycott of the 2018 presidential election needs to be checked to see whether it is legal.” So to recap: Navalny cannot participate in the elections and now the Kremlin must check whether he cannot not participate. Mission accomplished.

From BBC.



The Moscow Times reports, “Russia’s Foreign Ministry has accused the United States of election meddling after criticism of Russia’s decision to bar opposition leader Alexei Navalny from taking part in the 2018 presidential elections.” The spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, somehow tried to draw a connection to U.S. “hypocrisy” over the registration of Russian state-run RT as a foreign agent because they must whine about everything even if it makes no fucking sense. Russia’s eternal sense of grievance will never actually be the result of shitty domestic policies or bad leadership in their minds because the truth is to painful when you live in a Lubyanka toilet bowl you helped to build.

From The Moscow Times.



CNN reports, “Russia is ready to serve as a mediator between North Korea and the United States if both sides agree, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN on Tuesday.” Thank but no thanks.

From CNN.



Interfax Ukraine reports, “The Austrian Supreme Court has decided that Ukrainian businessman Dmytro Firtash’s appeal, asking for a retrial and arguing that the Austrian Court of Appeals erred when it allowed extradition to the United States (thereby overturning the Austrian trial court’s decision denying extradition), was not without merit, Firtash’s defense has said.” Oh come on, bring him on home to TRUMPISTAN WATCH. Recall, the indicted Paul Manafort pal is wanted in Federal Court in Chicago on charges related to bribing Boeing officials that predate the 2016 election but signaled Obama ratcheting up his efforts to do the most minimal amount possible to confront Russian bullshit. Curiously, he’s represented by old Clinton world fixture Lanny Davis who said in a statement, “The Supreme Court thus ordered a stay of Mr. Firtash’s extradition pending its review”.

From Interfax-Ukraine.





Reuters reports, “A Georgian-American businessman who met then-Miss Universe pageant owner Donald Trump in 2013, has been questioned by congressional investigators about whether he helped organize a meeting between Russians and Trump’s eldest son during the 2016 election campaign”. Reuters adds, “The Senate and House of Representatives intelligence committees recently questioned behind closed doors Irakly Kaveladze, a U.S. citizen born in the former Soviet republic of Georgia”. Reuters notes, “The panels knew Kaveladze was at the June 9, 2016 meeting but became more interested in him after learning he also attended a private dinner in Las Vegas in 2013 with Trump and Agalarov as they celebrated an agreement to hold that year’s Miss Universe pageant in Moscow”.

From Reuters.





The Daily Beast reports, on “the first of a three-part series based on never-before-published training manuals for the KGB”. As The Daily Beast notes, “The type of tradecraft suggested in the FBI complaint against Papadopolous (PDF), the transformation of civilians into assets who are then tasked with targeting other civilians, possibly of foreign or hostile nations, has been standard operating procedure for generations.” The Daily Beast recalls, “MOST OF WHAT WE KNOW of the Cold War, at least as it went down on the opposition’s side, has come to us from the testimony of high-level KGB defectors such as Oleg Gordievsky and Sergei Tretyakov, or from the post-retirement memoirs of spymasters such as Oleg Kalugin. In one staggering case of good fortune, Vasili Mitrokhin, the archivist for the KGB’s First Chief Directorate, which was in charge of foreign intelligence in the Soviet Union, managed to smuggle into the West handwritten copies of an enormous tranche of Soviet intelligence documents.” The Daily Beast has obtained a “108-PAGE DOCUMENT is marked ‘secret’ in Russian and titled ‘Political Intelligence from the Territory of the USSR.’ It is dated Moscow, 1989 (the year the Soviet bloc collapsed) and comes with the following disclaimer: ‘Approved by the USSR KGB PGU as a teaching manual for students of the Andropov Red Banner Institute in special discipline course 1 and agents of external intelligence.’ PGU stands for Pervoye Glavnoye Upravlenie, or the First Chief Directorate, and the Andropov Red Banner Institute is the famous finishing school for Soviet operatives.” This is your modern day SVR or Rusian foreign intelligence. Inside is “is a how-to guide for recruiting and running foreign agents who traveled to the Soviet Union, using institutions ostensibly dedicated to everything but espionage.” Of note, “The First Chief Directorate training manual was passed to The Daily Beast several weeks ago by a European security service, which says that the document is still classified in Russia primarily because, even though it is nearly 30 years old, it is still relied upon as an educational tool for Putin’s clandestine cadres.” Here is how their manual defines “active measures”: “The conspiratorial promotion to the enemy of fabricated news, especially prepared materials and documents, so as to lead him into confusion and motivate him to decisions and actions that meet the interests of the Soviet state. Disinformation measures are undertaken to undermine the positions of imperialism in various countries of the world, increase the contradictions among imperialist states, bourgeois political parties and individual figures, to weaken their positions, counteract the unleashing of anti-Soviet campaigns and also for the purposes of influencing the outcome of negotiations not only on political matters but in concluding major trade deals with foreign companies and firms.” Must read.

From The Daily Beast.



Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says Russia has started establishing a permanent presence at its two military bases in Syria — the Russian naval facility in Tartus and the Russian-run Khmeimim air base near the city of Latakia.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty notes, “Shoigu said on December 26 that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ‘approved the structure and staff of the principal bases’ the previous week and that Russia had ‘started forming a permanent group of forces there.’” Additionally, “Russia’s Federation Council on December 26 approved a law ratifying an agreement between Moscow and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government about Russian forces at the naval base in Tartus. That agreement was signed in Damascus on January 18.” Well remember this the next time they whine about Uncle Sam and imperialism.

From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.



People Magazine reports, “In a new Twitter video, first daughters Tiffany and Ivanka Trump blew kisses to followers — but received mostly criticism in return.” She really is a little girl in way over her head. This sort of behavior is not exactly conducive to taking a person seriously as a White House advisor but way down there in the aesthetic realm with Melania’s porn-y Christmas selfie (which of course TRUMPISTAN WATCH has made into an end of the year collector’s item covfefe mug). People Magazine notes, “In the short clip — which was posted by President Trump’s younger daughter, Tiffany, on Twitter and Instagram on Tuesday — the two women wear swimsuits and sunglasses as they lounge by the pool at their father’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and the song ‘O Holy Night’ plays. A filter featuring angel wings and a halo hovers over the sisters as they blow kisses and Tiffany wishes fans a Merry Christmas.” Also, “in another Twitter controversy on Tuesday, some critics pointed out that Ivanka’s family vacation photos featured a Confederate flag in the background.” Trump has taken us so far over the aesthetic edge as a nation that we are a long way gone and it will be a struggle to work our way back to mere tacky kitsch in the years after this ends.

From People Magazine.





Business Insider reports on a sensational MSNBC clip that reverberated around the internet yesterday as it was a slow news day and Trump was off golfing and being privately disgusting, so this was to keep the juices of our outrage flowing. On MSNBC, “Republican Rep. Francis Rooney said Tuesday that he wants to see the upper ranks of the FBI purged of politically motivated agents who he believes are working for ‘the deep state.’” According to Business Insider, “Rooney said that he is not trying to discredit the investigation but ‘would like to see the directors of those agencies purge it, and say, ‘look, we got a lot of great agents, a lot of great lawyers here. Those are the people I want the American people to see’… not these people who are, kind of, the deep state.’” Well, welcome to Soviet Trumpistan. “These people” no longer just refers to minorities and immigrants, now The Deep State is among the undesirables.

From Business Insider.





The Washington Post carries words from Venezuelan Andrés Miguel Rondón on chavismo and the lessons learned from it after one year of Trump. As Rondón notes, “Powerful men in entertainment, media and even politics have seen their public lives implode under scandal almost instantly for months now, but Trump holds on.” How? “If you’re among the majority of Americans who oppose Trump, you can’t understand why. And it’s making you furious. I saw the same thing happen in my native Venezuela with the late Hugo Chávez, who ruled as precisely the sort of faux-populist strongman that Trump now loves to praise,” he adds. Of course while Trump’s “overall approval rating has dwindled to below 40 percent, but his base — the only people Trump appears to think he needs to answer to — still loves him.” Rondón adds, “in the face of all this scandal, Trump is not even close to collapse. He and his supporters are simply grinning back at you.” He may be right in that, “If you want to fight Trump effectively, you have to learn to think like they do and give up altogether the prospect that scandal will one day undo him.” While our Venezuelan colleague has no clear answers, he has some observations worth noting on the emotional psyche or map of Trump’s base. Now few Trump supporters would change their vote a year later (only 7%) because “2017 Trump is not very different from 2016 Trump on his way to power. Everything he’s done in the White House is more of the same: An enemy (the unpatriotic minorities, the lying liberal media, anyone not part of his Manichaean vision) is being cartooned, blamed for all of society’s evils and offered in sacrifice as a scapegoat to the United States’ problems. The purported solution is still simple: Shame them, silence them, build a wall around them. The basic premise that the restoration of the country lies in the destruction of its enemies remains.” The problem for woes and broken dreams belongs with the elites and the undesirable minorities and immigrants, in essence, the appeal of scapegoating. This is significant because “now in power, paints himself as a fighter under siege”. So naturally, “What you call scandal is only a sign that he is fighting back. Indeed: that he is fighting you.” Sadly, “It does not matter that he is eroding the nation’s democratic institutions. That this combat is dangerous, hypocritical, built on lies. That you, after all, are innocent. His supporters are convinced that you are to blame. Until you can convince them otherwise, they will cheer him on.” So, be human but not in that awful scapegoating, hateful murderous way we see popping up here and there nowadays. However get ready for a long fight for this to end, as our Venezuelan colleague notes, “Chávez is dead, but chavismo lives on.” Or as Bruce Springsteen would sing, “Everything that dies some day comes back.”

From The Washington Post.



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