ELITE RUSSIANS POPPED THEIR CORKS IN D.C. DURING THE CATASTROPHE
The Washington Post reports, “In the days before Donald Trump’s inauguration, a wealthy Russian pharmaceutical executive named Alexey Repik arrived in Washington”. Repik “posted a photo on Facebook of a clutch of inauguration credentials arranged next to a white ‘Make America Great Again’ hat, writing in Russian: ‘I believe that President Donald Trump will open a new page in American history.’” Additionally, “He wrote on Facebook that he got close enough to the president-elect at a pre-inaugural event to ‘check the handshake strength of Donald Trump.’ He and his wife, Polina Repik, witnessed Trump’s swearing-in from ticketed seats in front of the U.S. Capitol. And he posed for a photo shoulder-to-shoulder with Mike Pompeo, the president’s nominee to head the CIA”. The Washington Post notes, “prominent business leaders and activists from the country attended inaugural festivities, mingling at balls and receptions — at times in proximity to key U.S. political officials. Their presence caught the attention of counterintelligence officials at the FBI”. The Washington Post adds, “some of the figures had surfaced in the agency’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia”. The Washington Post was able to identify “at least half a dozen politically connected Russians who were in Washington on Inauguration Day — including some whose presence has not been previously reported. Among them was Viktor Vekselberg, a tycoon who is closely aligned with Putin’s government. Another was Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer whose June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr. has become a focus of the Russia investigation. She attended a black-tie inaugural party hosted by the campaign committee of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.)”. Additionally, “Boris Titov, a politician and business advocate who is running for president of Russia with the Kremlin’s blessing.” The Washington Post notes, “Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents are legally permitted to contribute to an inaugural committee. Several U.S. business executives with ties to Russia together donated $2.4 million to the inaugural committee”. The Washington Post adds, “Titov, like several of the Russian elites who attended Trump’s inauguration, declined to say how he obtained his tickets, only that they came ‘via our friends — entrepreneurs in the Republican Party.’” The Washington Post notes, “Andrew Intrater, a New York businessman who is president of the U.S. affiliate of Vekselberg’s company, gave $250,000,” and “Access Industries, a company founded by Leonard Blavatnik — a Soviet-born American British billionaire who is a longtime friend and business associate of Vekselberg — contributed $1 million to the committee.” The Washington Post adds, “Another Russian American who has had business dealings in Russia, IMG Artists chief executive Alexander Shustorovich, also gave $1 million, records show.” Also attending, “Maria Butina, a Russian gun rights activist and assistant to Alexander Torshin,” who appears to have helped Russia infiltrate the NRA.
From The Washington Post.
DEUTSCHE BANK HANDS OVER INFO ON PRINCELING JARED’S FINANCING
The New York Daily News reports, “Deutsche Bank is looking at evidence that companies related to Jared Kushner may have moved ‘suspicious money through the German lender, according to a report. The bank has informed a national finance supervisor about the transactions and will also inform special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian election meddling, Manager Magazin, part of the Der Spiegel group, reported Friday.” Of course, “Trump himself has done extensive business with Deutsche, and acknowledged having $130 million in debts to the bank last year that the Financial Times reported were closer to $300 million,” The New York Daily News adds.
From The New York Daily News.
NATIONAL DEFENSE STRATEGY FOCUSES ON GREAT POWER COMPETITION
Defense One reports, “The Trump administration’s long-awaited National Defense Strategy declares a decisive shift in America’s security priorities, away from the age of ISIS-level terrorism and toward a return to great-power competition with regional giants China and Russia.” Defense One notes, “Compared to previous administrations’ strategy documents, the new one focuses far more on reacting to those threats, and far less on what American defense leaders want the world to look like afterwards.” Defense One reports, “The document lays out the world’s threats and challenges to the U.S., as military leaders see it. To wit: China’s rapidly modernized its force to beat U.S. weapons and challenge the U.S.economically. Russia wants ‘to shatter’ NATO.” Defense One adds, “Notably, the document limns Russia’s use of technology to subvert elections in George [sic], Crimea, and eastern Ukraine. It makes no mention of Russian interference in Trump’s own election.” In a bit of awkward phrasing, Defense One notes, “Mattis, in his Friday speech, summarized the summary and noted the attention to big-power competition. He was notably quiet about the spread of violent extremism and terrorism”.
From Defense One.
EX-SPY WHO EXPOSED CHINESE SOURCES MAY HAVE EXPOSED CIA IN RUSSIA
NBC News reports, “The arrest last week of a former CIA officer suspected of spying for China exposed one of the most significant intelligence breaches in American history. But the damage is even worse than first reported”. NBC News adds, “A secret FBI–CIA task force investigating the case concluded that the Chinese government penetrated the CIA’s method of clandestine communication with its spies, using that knowledge to arrest and execute at least 20 CIA informants”. Now we learn for the first time, “American officials suspect China then shared that information with Russia, which employed it to expose, arrest and possibly even kill American spies in that country”. NBC News reports, “Those sobering findings, sometime after the inquiry began in 2012, led the CIA to temporarily shut down human spying in China, and to overhaul the way it communicates with its assets around the world”. After “20 CIA sources were executed by the Chinese government,” NBC News adds, “Then an unknown number of Russian assets also disappeared”. NBC News recalls, “Eventually a top secret joint FBI-CIA task force investigation led authorities to suspect that former CIA case officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee had been spying for China. Lee, 53, was arrested this week and charged, not with espionage, but with a single count of possessing classified information.” Plea bargain?
From NBC News.
SANCTIONING THE REALLY BAD GUYS
Quartz reports, “Noted Russia hawks Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio this week urged (pdf) treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin to consider Yuri Chaika, Putin’s attorney general, and Alisher Usmanov, an oligarch with reportedly close Kremlin ties. They said both men had been linked to ‘significant acts of corruption’ and may have violated America’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, in a letter sent with senators Roger Wicker and Cory Gardner on Jan. 17. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates was cc’ed on the letter. Usmanov, a metals magnate ranked by Forbes as the world’s 66th richest man with a $15.9 billion fortune, owns a large stake in Arsenal FC, one of Britain’s top soccer clubs, and was the subject of two embarrassing Paradise Papers reports.” Chaika “has been prosecutor general since 2006,” with a Pussy Riot song dedicated to his misdeeds. He may have been “the source of the emails about Hillary Clinton promised to Donald Trump Jr. in Trump Tower.”
HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE NOT FOLLOWING THE MONEY
The Atlantic follows up on the release of the House intelligence committee transcript of its interview with Fusion GPS’ Glenn Simpson and specifically Rep. Adam Schiff’s question, “Who should it subpoena if it wanted to learn more?” In response, “Simpson laid out a roadmap for Schiff”. Simpson’s reply, from the transcript, was clear and razor sharp: “So the first thing that I would do would be to subpoena the brokers and the people, the other people that were involved in the transactions, and the title companies and the other intermediaries that would have that kind of information. Then I would go to the banks next. But I actually think some of the intermediary entities in a lot of these transactions are going to be where a lot of the information is…” He added, “I would go for the clearing banks in New York that cleared the transactions”. Well as of Friday, The Atlantic reports, “the committee had been unable to follow this roadmap, because Republican members are not interested,” citing Rep. Adam Schiff as a source. Schiff adds, “when most people think of kompromat, they think of the salacious video. But if the Russians were laundering money… that would be a very powerful lever the Russians would have over the president of the United States.” Yes, it’s true, Americans will never understand the subtleties and nuances of Russian disinformation, but their genitals and sexual perversion is something all of American can understand.
From The Atlantic.
TWITTER MINIMIZES DAMAGE IT DID, STEPS UP PRETENDING TO CARE
The Hill reports, “Twitter said Friday that it has suspended 1,062 new accounts it has found to be linked to the Internet Research Agency, a Russian ‘troll farm’ which disseminated content intended to interfere in the U.S. political process. In total, the company has found 3,814 Internet Research Agency-linked accounts, which posted 175,993 tweets during the 2016 presidential campaign.” Additionally, “Twitter said it also found 13,512 new Kremlin-linked bot accounts, bringing the total number of bots it has found in connection to Russia’s election influence efforts to 50,258.” Additionally, “The company also said in a post on Friday that it will notify 677,775 people to let them know that they either liked, retweeted or followed Russian-linked accounts, following a request from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) to do so.” Senator John Cornyn, the number two Senate Republican, is among those known to have engaged with Russian propaganda. However, the antisocial network won’t reveal to users the content of those tweets or accounts, retreating behind claims that such info is “no longer publicly available.” But BuzzFeed points out, “New data provided to BuzzFeed News shows there are more than 3,700 active tweets, generated by third-party apps, that quote or cite Russian troll accounts and link back to active content on Instagram originally posted by trolls.” Jonathan Albright, the research director of the Tow Center of Digital Journalism, said, “We found a police department that had reposted content from a veterans account [run by Russian trolls].” The guardians of public safety have our national insecurity at heart. Albright added the repost apps “are actually keeping all of this stuff in a zombie state, a state of suspended animation”. What does Twitter say? “A Twitter spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that the company’s blog post was specific to the more than 50,000 troll accounts and the content they posted. They said Twitter does not remove troll content that was cited or reposted by other accounts.” Truth bombs kill corporate propaganda.
U.S. OIL OUTPUT WILL SURPASS RUSSIA (AND SAUDI) THIS YEAR
USA Today reports, “U.S. oil production is booming and is forecast to surge beyond the output from heavyweight Saudi Arabia and rival Russia this year”. USA Today adds, “U.S. oil production, which has already risen to its highest level in nearly 50 years, will push past 10 million barrels a day in 2018 as higher prices entice more producers to start pumping, the International Energy Agency said in its monthly market report.” In other words, if this authoritarian project succeeds, it will follow the petro-state model.
From USA Today.
MILITARY CHIEFS DUNFORD + GERASIMOV DISCUSS SYRIA ON THE PHONE
Reuters reports, “Russian Chief of the General Staff of the armed forces Valery Gerasimov and his U.S. counterpart Joseph Dunford have discussed the situation in Syria by phone, RIA news agency reported on Saturday, citing the Russian Defence Ministry.”
SHUTTING DOWN NAVALNY: ONE IF BY KANGAROO COURT…
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “A court in Moscow has ordered the closure of a foundation that has been bulwark of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s presidential campaign. The Meshchansky District Court issued the ruling on January 22 after the Justice Ministry earlier this month filed a lawsuit with the court seeking to shutter the Fifth Season Foundation.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty notes, “Navalny’s campaign chief, Leonid Volkov, said in November that the Fifth Season Foundation is the legal entity that officially employs workers of Navalny’s campaign offices across Russia, receives financial contributions from supporters, and concludes lease agreements and other deals on behalf of Navalny’s campaign.”
…TWO IF BY SHEER BRUTALITY
The Moscow Times reports, “A dozen campaign offices belonging to Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s have been vandalized or searched by police ahead of a nationwide protest later this month.” The Moscow Times notes, “Navalny has called for a mass rally on Jan. 28 to protest against Russia’s upcoming presidential elections in March. The opposition leader said he would lead an election boycott after he was barred from running as a candidate due to a prior fraud conviction that his supporters dismiss as politically motivated.” Ruslan Shaveddinov, a campaign spokesman told Novaya Gazeta, “Eleven offices have sustained damage over the past two to three days,” adding, “We tie this directly to our voters’ boycott”. The Moscow Times adds, “Later on Thursday, a twelfth office was attacked in Samara by ‘cops’ who forced their way in and damaged property”. What is the little guy in the Kremlin so afraid of?
From The Moscow Times.
UK MILITARY CHIEF CALLS FOR MORE FUNDING TO FIGHT RUSSIAN BS
CNN reports, “The head of the British Army will warn that the country’s government risks increasing its vulnerability to Russian aggression if it fails to invest further in its military infrastructure. Gen. Nick Carter is expected to tell the Royal United Service Institute on Monday that Britain will be unable to preempt or respond to adversaries unless its military capabilities are overhauled.” CNN adds, “Carter will warn that the UK would struggle to match Russia’s military capabilities, citing Russia’s long-range missile strikes on Syria, where 26 missiles were deployed from a 1,500 km (930 mile) range. He will also highlight Russia’s simulated attack exercises across northern Europe, from Kaliningrad to Lithuania, as part of a new tactic in exploiting the gray areas between peace and war.”
LITHUANIA’S DEFENSE MINISTRY PROBES TV STATION HACK
The AP reports, “Lithuania’s Defense Ministry says an investigation was launched Friday after hackers posted a bogus story on the website of a television news station.” The AP adds, “Television station TV3 said it was hacked late Thursday and shortly after that a bogus story appeared on the channel’s website accusing Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis of sexually harassing a male radio journalist.” The AP reports, “Defense Vice Minister Edvinas Kerza told reporters the national cybersecurity center is investigating the case and the internet protocol address (IP) of the hacker had been traced to St. Petersburg in Russia.” Additionally, “The editor of the website also blamed Russian hackers.”
From the AP.
ECUADOR’S PRESIDENT LABELS JULIAN ASSWIPE A PROBLEM + A NUISANCE
BBC News reports, “Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno has described Wikileaks founder Julian Assange as an ‘inherited problem’ in a television interview.” Recall, “Mr Assange has been living inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London since June 2012, when he claimed political asylum. He had been wanted on assault claims in Sweden, which have been dropped, but now fears extradition to the US. The UK recently refused to recognise Mr Assange as a diplomatic agent, which would have provided him with immunity.” Probably because the U.K. recognizes him as a Russian intelligence asset. BBC News adds, “President Moreno said Mr Assange had created ‘more than a nuisance’ for his government.” However, “While Mr Moreno’s government has said that it will maintain Mr Assange’s asylum, it has also sought ways for him to leave the embassy without running the risk of extradition to the US”. This is all still much too polite. Consequences, dood bro.
From BBC News.
—–INDICTMENT ROCK CITY—–
LEADER OF THE PACK
The AP reports, “A lawsuit challenging special counsel Robert Mueller’s authority may soon be transferred to another judge. Mueller and lawyers for Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Donald Trump’s campaign, filed a joint notice Friday saying they have no objection to transferring Manafort’s lawsuit to the federal judge overseeing the criminal case against him.” Recall, “Manafort sued this month seeking to have the case against him dismissed and arguing that Mueller overstepped his bounds by charging him for conduct he says is unrelated to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.” Not unrelated, dood bro! The AP adds, “both sides said Friday that they would not object to the lawsuit being given to Amy Berman Jackson.”
From the AP.
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
BABYSITTING TRUMP 101: MAKE SURE ALL DADDIES ARE IN AGREEMENT
The Washington Post reports, “Rex Tillerson’s mission was delicate but not unfamiliar as he phoned President Donald Trump last week: Persuade the boss to curb his own impulses on yet another potentially explosive national security issue.” When it comes to baby Donny’s foreign policy tantrums, The Washington Post adds, “It’s fallen to Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis and national security adviser H.R. McMaster to soften some of Trump’s most dramatic impulses”. The Washington Post adds, “Even as they coaxed Trump into preserving more of the Obama-era status quo than many expected was possible, they’ve had to navigate carefully around Trump’s clear aversion to being publicly contradicted by staff or made to look feeble on the world stage.” The Washington Post notes, “as America’s national security leaders start Year 2, they’re hoping they’ve finally cracked the code to working for Trump: designing strategies durable enough to confront the innumerable challenges of the present day — North Korea, Iran, Russia, Syria — yet flexible enough to accommodate a commander in chief who often veers wildly off-message.” It is like he is not really the president and does not really do anything but have his “executive time,” better known as Twitter outbursts. The Washington Post adds, “‘One fundament of stability has been Tillerson’s alliance with Mattis. ‘They never go to a national security council meeting or to the president without being in agreement in advance themselves,’ Sen. Bob Corker, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman”. It’s good all of Trump’s daddies are “on the same page,” in Senator Corker’s words.
From The Washington Post.
SELLING ACCESS TO MAR-A-LAGO, GRACELAND SEEMS MORE EXCLUSIVE
The Washington Post reports, “at an event called the Red, White and Blue Celebration for We the People, which was put on by a Palm Beach group called Trumpettes USA,” Thursday night faux news Fox News propagandist Jeanine Pirro gave a keynote speech. The Washington Post notes, “The Trumpettes set their ticket price at $300, very low for Palm Beach. And they invited anybody who could pay. The result was an event that brought 700-plus Trump supporters from around the country into the gilded sanctum of Mar-a-Lago.” Eric “Qusay” Trump told those gathered, “We had people in our lives that we thought were great friends that were nowhere to be found,” adding, “As I really look around the room, you know, these are our true friends.” Oh the poor piece of trash, you do not understand politics is even more transactional than real estate. The Washington Post adds, “Trump’s presidency has transformed Mar-a-Lago,” and “Once, Mar-a-Lago was a walled paradise where money kept political strife out. Now it uses politics to bring in money, from groups who like the idea that their ticket sales put money in the president’s pocket. Republican officials. Conservative activists. Pro-Israel groups. And, now, Trumpettes.” You know, the death cult and its extremist compadres. The Washington Post notes, “the event followed the format of a Palm Beach charity ball — without the charity.”
From The Washington Post.
LIKE ANY PROPER KLEPTOCRACY, A PRINCELING SELLS TRUMPISTAN OUT
The New Yorker takes a long look at the amateur hour of American diplomacy that is the walking indictment waiting to happen known as princeling Jared. Among countless fascinating details of how pliant the young princeling is and how T Rex adapted Chinese language of “mutual respect” during his first visit to Beijing, we learn, “Chinese officials said that [Chinese Ambassador to the U.S.] Cui and Kushner, in meetings to prepare for the summit at Mar-a-Lago, discussed Kushner’s business interests along with policy.” Like any proper kleptocracy, Trumpistan is for sale for personal gain by the elites. Of course the “deep state” crowd at the FBI staged an attempted intervention because they are such a buzzkill, always! The New Yorker notes, “In March, 2017, Bill Priestap, the F.B.I.’s chief of counterintelligence, visited the White House and briefed Kushner about the danger of foreign-influence operations, according to three officials familiar with the meeting. Priestap told Kushner that he was among the top intelligence targets worldwide, and was being targeted not only by China but by every other major intelligence service as well, including those of the Russians and the Israelis. Priestap said that foreign spy agencies could use diplomats and spies masquerading as students and journalists to collect information about him.” Then there is also long time family friend of the Kushner-Trumps Wendi Deng Murdoch who, “U.S. diplomats and intelligence officials have long speculated about”. The New Yorker notes, “Internally, some Chinese officials spoke about her in ways that suggested they had influence over her,” adding, “Other [U.S.] officials said that the intelligence was inconclusive.” Naturally princeling Jared is arrogant and greedy enough to ignore the pros because, “After all, he told others, New York real estate is not ‘a baby’s business.’” The whole article, by the way, is called, “Soft Target”.
From The New Yorker.
CONTAIN THE BASTARDS WHO ONLY RESPOND TO STRENGTH
Foreign Affairs notes, “With each passing week, the evidence of Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election—and in U.S. politics and society more generally—grows”. Foreign Affairs adds, “Whereas physical attacks on the U.S. homeland, such as Pearl Harbor or 9/11, have brought Americans together in a common cause and led them to bolster defenses, an assault on the American sense of national unity could weaken the institutions and shared beliefs that are critical to enduring security and success. Growing domestic strife and diminishing trust in national institutions represent as great a threat to the United States as any traditional national security concern, with the exception of a nuclear attack.” Like many a Soviet leader before him, “Putin is a career intelligence officer who is deeply hostile to democratic change anywhere near Russia, paranoid about what he believes to be U.S. efforts to oust him, and resentful of American domination of the post–Cold War world.” The fact is, “Moscow will cease and desist only if it concludes that it is paying a major price in matters important to it, including in the area of European security.” Russia only respects strength. Foreign Affairs is right to point out in light of these facts that, “Considering the gravity and consequences of the Russian intervention, the U.S. response has been grossly inadequate. The Obama administration was slow to realize the full extent of the Russian operation and, when it did, was reluctant to react, announcing only a limited set of retaliatory measures (primarily sanctions on selected Russian operatives) after the election was over.” And of course, “The Trump administration has done even less,” Foreign Affairs notes, adding, “Trump has refused even to acknowledge that it happened, repeatedly calling the allegations a ‘hoax.’” Of course, “Without a more vigorous and comprehensive response, the Kremlin’s meddling will continue—and even get worse—while other adversaries might also conclude they can attack the United States with relative impunity.” Fun! Welcome to 2018 hell.
From Foreign Affairs.
RUSSIANS BE LIKE WE OWN YOU, ACT LIKE IT
The Washington Post reports, “Russian nationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky still fondly remembers the time he says a Russian official working at the United Nations arranged a meeting for him with Donald Trump.” Zhirinovsky said, “He understood that we were even better than the Americans.” However now after one year of Russian mafia state occupation hell in Trumpistan, “the pundits and politicians here who predicted a sea change in relations with the United States increasingly are concluding that they bet wrong.” Zhirinovsky, “who hosted a champagne reception in the Russian parliament after Trump won,” did not anticipate the awakening of “deep state” and the intense resistance of the American bureaucracy. The Washington Post notes, “The result: a civics lesson for those Russians who thought that the U.S. president could wield as much influence as their own.” The Washington Post adds, “A year into Trump’s term, that improvement is nowhere in sight. By the end of the month, the U.S. Treasury is expected to release a list of Russian business executives close to the Kremlin”. However, “Being on the list is not tantamount to being hit with sanctions, but it probably will carry a stigma.” Only now Zhirinovsky (and others) realize, “If [Hillary] Clinton had won, then the whole elite of the U.S. wouldn’t be so set against us”. Another valuable insight: “Obama ‘called us a nation in ruins that is a small regional power. A year later, people in America are talking about nothing but Russia,’ said Andrei Klimov, deputy chairman of the foreign affairs committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament. ‘The only right lesson out of all this is: Don’t pretend that others are dwarves.’” That cuts both ways, assholes.
From The Washington Post.
KASPERSKY NOW IN RUSSIAN INTEL CONTROL FROM THE INSIDE OUT
BuzzFeed reports, “Eugene Kaspersky, the CEO of Kaspersky Lab, was in London when an anonymous voice at the other end of the phone informed him that his son had been kidnapped. The ransom: 3 million euros. Kaspersky immediately called Igor Chekunov, an alleged former KGB officer who acted as both a lawyer for the company and its alleged liaison with the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the successor to the infamous KGB, and other Russian security services. Chekunov took the lead in coordinating the rescue operation.” BuzzFeed adds, “After four days, Russian special operations troops, known as Spetsnaz, came to Ivan’s aid, freeing him”. The moment “served as a tipping point in a battle that had been waged inside his father’s company since 2010.” BuzzFeed notes, “over the last year its outlook has plummeted in North America and Europe, where in 2016 it did over half of its business.” BuzzFeed, along with Riga-based Russian and English outlet Meduza, reports, “the decline in fortunes of Kaspersky Lab was the result of an internal struggle for control that pitted allies of the Russian secret service against ‘tech-savvy’ staff and Western investors.” Of course, “The managers within Kaspersky Lab like Chekunov with ties to Russia’s security agencies won that battle. But in so doing, they threaten to destroy everything the company has built outside Russia.” Before this report it was widely rumored that the kidnapping of Kaspersky son was orchestrated by the Russian security services and represented the turning point for the company. The truth however is it probably predates the kidnapping as BuzzFeed reports, “Everyone at Kaspersky Lab knew not to schedule any meetings on Dec. 20. In Russia, it marks the Day of Federal Security Service Officers, commonly known as Chekist’s Day,” adding Eugene Kaspersky, “even planned his business trips around it”.
RUSSIAN BOTS HAVE DARKNESS AT NUNES’ BACK
Business Insider reports, “Republican lawmakers are pushing for the House Intelligence Committee to release a memo written by the panel’s chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, that outlines purported surveillance during the transition period against President-elect Donald Trump by former President Barack Obama’s administration. And Russia-linked Twitter bots have jumped on the bandwagon.” Business Insider adds, “#ReleaseTheMemo is the top-trending hashtag among Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence operations, according to Hamilton 68, a website launched last year that says it tracks Russian propaganda in near-real time.” And, “The most-shared domain among the accounts has been WikiLeaks, and the most-shared URL has been a link to WikiLeaks’ ‘submit’ page.” Rep. Adam Schiff described the memo thus: “Rife with factual inaccuracies and referencing highly classified materials that most of Republican Intelligence Committee members were forced to acknowledge they had never read, this is meant only to give Republican House members a distorted view of the FBI”. A Business Insider source adds the DARKNESS AT NUNES memo “was ‘a level of irresponsible stupidity that I cannot fathom,’ adding that it ‘purposefully misconstrues facts and leaves out important details.’” Let’s just take that “level of irresponsible stupidity” phrase and broadly apply it to the entire regime, with the possible exception of Defense Secretary James Mattis and even less possibly National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.
From Business Insider.
DAMIEN SHARKOV CONVEYS RUSSIAN DISINFO IN NEWSWEEK AGAIN
Newsweek reports, “Russia has accused U.S.-based website Buzzfeed of ‘presenting itself as a news portal’ while actually being in league with the U.S. intelligence services. The accusations from Moscow’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs came after Buzzfeed News published a second article reporting on suspicious financial dealings by Russian diplomats around the time of the last U.S. election.” Of course the story bears the byline of Newsweek’s chief Russian propagandist Damien Sharkov. He moves from paraphrasing to directly quoting his probable backers in Moscow, making his regurgitation all the more hilarious and in line with the first rule of Russian propaganda: accuse your opponent of that which you yourself are guilty of. “The ministry suggested the site had portrayed ordinary staff payroll matters as events of a ‘conspiratorial nature.’” Recall, the Manhattan District Attorney raided Newsweek’s offices late last week.
—–RADIO MOSCOW: STORIES FROM THEIR PRESS AND OURS—–
AMBASSADOR HUNTSMAN TAKES FREEZING EPIPHANY DIP
The Washington Post reports, “The latest attempt at Russian-American rapprochement came in the guise of a shirtless U.S. ambassador. Wearing black swimming trunks, U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr. on Sunday plunged into the icy waters of the Istra River outside Moscow as Russian journalists’ cameras rolled. The former Utah governor was trying out an Orthodox tradition for the Epiphany holiday, commemorating the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River.” The Washington Post adds, “His frigid dip had a geopolitical air to it: Huntsman was following Russian President Vladimir Putin, who did his own shirtless Epiphany photo op Friday.” Who wore it better? Well, any American over any Russian any day, obviously.
From The Washington Post.
FROM SUNDANCE WITH LOVE FOR TRUMP
The Daily Beast reports on “Our New President, a new documentary that debuted at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. The doc, directed by New York-based filmmaker Maxim Pozdorovkin,” is a documentary that “provides a collage of clips of Russia’s state-sponsored fake news that paints a damning portrait of Putinland (think InfoWars on meth).” In it, “We’re then presented with an inside look at Russian state television’s outrageous coverage of Hillary during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. They claim, based on zero evidence, that Hillary’s fainting episode at the 9/11 Memorial may prove ‘fatal’; repeat the bogus claim that a security guard flanking Clinton is a doctor armed with a syringe who’s ‘always ready if Hillary has a spell’; provide (fake) medical records of Clinton alleging that she suffers from, among other things, ‘dementia’ and ‘retardation’; allege that the Clinton administration ‘began every day by doing drugs’ and that Clinton brought a team of ‘cocaine users’ to the White House; and breathlessly report on the ridiculous ‘death list’ comprised of “enemies of the Clintons who died suspiciously.” And that’s not all – not even close! The Daily Beast adds, “They (falsely) parrot the popular right-wing conspiracy theory that the late Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was a ‘programmer’ who ‘leaked Clinton’s emails and was an important witness’; refer to her as ‘Killary’; claim that she ‘psychologically raped’ the ‘victims’ of Bill Clinton; and, with a week before the election, baselessly accuse the Dems of orchestrating an illegal voting operation.” And then, “About 20 minutes in comes the flip side of the coin: Russian state TV’s glowing coverage of candidate Donald J. Trump.” We all know adulation is less fun than shredding something so you will have to see the film or relive in your memory what sort of Adonis of America the Russians stupidly thought Trump was and would be. The Daily Beast, however, notes, “The film’s funniest moments explore the cultural hysteria in Russia over the election of Trump.”
From The Daily Beast.
LATVIANS GATHER TO REMEMBER INDEPENDENCE DRIVE
The Baltic Times reports, “Several hundred people, including Latvian state officials, young guards, students and their teachers, gathered in Dome Square in Riga Old Town this morning to light a traditional bonfire in remembrance of the 1991 Barricades. Participating in the event was also President Raimonds Vejonis, Saeima Speaker Inara Murniece (National Alliance), Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis (Greens/Farmers), as well as other state officials.” The Baltic Times notes, “The Barricade Days date back to January 1991 when people flowed into the capitals of the Baltic states and erected makeshift barricades around strategic locations like the parliament and the national radio to protect them against Soviet troops that wanted to crush the Baltic nations’ independence drive. Several people died during the Soviet special police force OMON attacks in Vilnius and Riga. The 1991 Barricades in Riga, organized by the Popular Front of Latvia and built and manned by patriots from all regions of Latvia, were a unique example of non-violent protest.” Long live a free and independent Latvia!
From The Baltic Times.
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