—–INDICTMENT ROCK CITY—–
POWER AND GLORY
Bloomberg reports, “U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller unveiled the details of a widespread and coordinated campaign by Russians to influence the U.S. presidential election in favor of Donald Trump, delivering on his initial mandate by the Justice Department. In an indictment announced Friday in Washington, Mueller describes a years-long, multimillion-dollar conspiracy by hundreds of Russians aimed at criticizing Hillary Clinton and supporting Senator Bernie Sanders and Trump. Mueller charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities and accused them of defrauding the U.S. government by interfering with the political process.” Bloomberg notes, “Prosecutors provided a remarkably detailed picture of how Russians used social media, fake rallies and secretive operatives in the U.S. to create ‘political intensity’ by backing radical groups, opposition social movements and disaffected voters. The outreach from the Russians included direct contact with over 100 Americans.” Important to note (and ergo why Rod Rosenstein, winner of bureaucratic survivor, gets to keep his job another week), “The indictment cites no instances of Russians coordinating directly with the Trump campaign.” Bloomberg adds, “Still, the accusations detail unprecedented foreign attempts to influence the outcome of a U.S. election, including the manipulation of accounts at big U.S. companies like Facebook, Twitter, PayPal and Instagram. Those companies will continue to face pressure to clamp down on fraudulent accounts or risk a government crackdown as intelligence officials have warned that Russians are already engaged in influencing the 2018 midterm elections.” But that pressure has yet to affect their ever-rising actual fortunes, e.g. profits.
Bloomberg reports, “All of the people and companies charged in Friday’s indictment were connected in some way to the Internet Research Agency, a company widely reported to be a front for Russian government influence campaigns on social media. The company and 12 of its current or former executives and employees were charged. Prosecutors also charged Yevgeniy Viktorivich Prigozhin, a Russian restaurateur and caterer widely known as ‘Putin’s chef’ for hosting his state dinners with foreign dignitaries, and two of his companies. The companies, Concord Catering and Concord Management and Consulting, have Russian government contracts. The special counsel alleges that they provided the financing for the Internet Research Agency’s operations.”
THE FIRST TASTE
The New York Times reports, “Long before he was indicted by the United States in a case involving the troll factory that spearheaded Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 United States elections, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin emerged from prison just as the Soviet Union was collapsing and opened a hot-dog stand. Soon, he has said, the rubles were piling up faster than his mother could count them in the kitchen of their modest apartment, and he was set on his improbable career. He earned the slightly mocking nickname of ‘Putin’s cook.’” Despite his humble origins, eventually over time “Mr. Prigozhin became one of Russia’s richest men, joining a charmed circle whose members often share one particular attribute: their proximity to President Vladimir V. Putin.” As The New York Times notes, “In return, they are expected to provide other, darker services to the Kremlin as needed.” The New York Times adds, “he has emerged as Mr. Putin’s go-to oligarch for that and a variety of sensitive and often-unsavory missions, like recruiting contract soldiers to fight in Ukraine and Syria.”
From The New York Times.
TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME
POLITICO reports, “Special counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities on Friday with an illegal ‘information warfare’ scheme to disrupt the 2016 presidential election and assist the candidacy of President Donald Trump.” POLITICO adds, “The dramatic indictment reveals a bold covert effort that went beyond the previously-known use of ‘fake news’ and social media misdirection to divide American voters and harm Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.” POLITICO continues, “It charges that as early as 2014, Russian nationals physically entered the U.S., and, hiding their true identities, gathered intelligence, organized political rallies — and even paid Americans to assist their political sabotage. The Russians allegedly paid one American in Florida to dress up as Hillary Clinton in a prison uniform and hired another to build a cage to ‘imprison’ the Clinton impersonator at a Florida rally.” POLITICO notes, “The effort was led by the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, a notorious online misinformation operation with suspected Kremlin ties, according to the indictment, and involved what the court filing called ‘unwitting’ U.S. citizens and Trump campaign official. The indictment concludes that the Internet Research Agency ‘had a strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system.’ While noting that the operation undermined multiple presidential candidates, including Trump GOP rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, the document says that the shadowy Russian agency’s operations ‘included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump… and disparaging Hillary Clinton.’” POLITICO adds, “Mueller’s 37-page charging document alleges that the Russian operatives created online accounts under names like ‘Woke Blacks,’ ‘Blacktivist’ and ‘United Muslims of America’ to encourage minority groups not to vote for Clinton. They also promoted Twitter hashtags like #Hillary4Prison, alleged on Facebook that Clinton’s campaign had committed voter fraud.” POLITICO recalls, “Two of the indicted Russians allegedly traveled to the U.S. in 2014, visiting Nevada, California, New Mexico, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Louisiana, Texas and New York ‘to gather intelligence’ and that the duo had discussed ‘evacuation scenarios.’” The Washington Post provides a useful timeline of events from the charges outlined in the indictment.
TAKE ME TO THE WATER
POLITICO reports, “The Russian scheme to sway the 2016 U.S. presidential election was a plot years in the making — an expensive effort that cost millions of dollars and employed as many as hundreds of people, the federal indictment unsealed Friday alleges.” There “are several takeaways from the indictment secured by special counsel Robert Mueller:”
- “The operation started as far back as 2014.”
- “The plot had strong links to Putin.”
- “The trolls supported Trump and trashed Clinton.”
- “It wasn’t just an online scheme.”
- “The trolls had ‘unwitting’ insider help.”
- “Hundreds of people may have been involved.”
- “The Russians spent millions of dollars.”
- “The IRA used U.S. technology to cover their tracks.”
- “The indictment doesn’t mention the election hacks.”
2 LEGIT TO QUIT
POLITICO reports, “The scathing indictment unsealed Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller outlines a multi-state scheme to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. But the document makes clear that the operation in Florida, the nation’s largest swing state, was in a class by itself.” Maybe that is because his Florida campaign chair Susie Wiles is married to Lanny Wiles and both have been linked to Dana Rohrabacher and Natalia Veselnitskaya. It was Lanny who secured a seat for Veselnitskaya in a Congressional hearing where the former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul was testifying. POLITICO adds, “The indictment is packed with details of how Russian nationals duped Donald Trump campaign volunteers and grass-roots organizations in Florida into holding rallies they organized and helped fund with foreign cash. And Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio himself was a target of an effort to ‘denigrate’ him and several other presidential candidates.” POLITICO adds, “During the heat of the 2016 race, Trump campaign officials in Florida said they were surprised by all the grass-roots support for the president — which seemed entirely organic at the time. In keeping with those comments in 2016, those same campaign officials say they were never made aware of any Russian involvement.” Wiles told POLITICO by phone, “We weren’t looking for fake Americans that were really Russians. The world seems different now.” She added, “she does not remember encountering any groups planning rallies or working in coordination with the campaign that seemed outside the norm of traditional political organizations.” POLITICO notes, “In the charging documents, Mueller noted specific instances when Russian nationals interacted directly with Trump campaign staff, who were oblivious to the fact they were being hoodwinked by Russian agents.” POLITICO adds, “Russians also helped organize some of the most recognizable anti-Hillary Clinton displays of the election cycle in Florida.” POLITICO adds, “The Florida Goes Trump rallies were held in more than 20 cities across the state on Aug. 20, 2016. News releases touting the event were rife with grammatical errors and used language ripped from a traditional Trump stump speech.”
BACK IN THE USSR
CBS News reports that the outcome of the indictments is that “there probably won’t be any arrests soon — because it’s ‘highly unlikely’ Russia will extradite any of those indicted. The indictment is significant because it lays out specific details about how Russia meddled in the 2016 election and what crimes were committed under U.S. law.” It also means that even if they will not be handed over, should they materialize in the countries where we have allies, odds are good they will get a knock on the door and an extradition request at the very least. Hackers have been successfully extradited from Prague, Barcelona and Suleyman Karimov was arrested at the Nice airport and Dmytro Firtash in Vienna is fighting similar proceedings. So, in essence indicted Russians are prisoners in their own country, which is an enormous prison. Additionally, “CBS News senior national security analyst Fran Townsend said that judging by the size and scope, it’s ‘impossible to think’ the operation could have been carried out without the blessing of the Kremlin.” That’s right, the fake Russian bullshit president can scream Deep State hoax and fraud like a deranged homeless man in the middle of the supermarket until the cows come home, the truth goes marching on.
From CBS News.
TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN
POLITICO reports, “Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office has told a federal judge it has found evidence that Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, committed bank fraud not addressed by the indictment last October in which he was charged with money laundering and failure to register as a foreign agent. As legal wrangling continues over a $10 million bail package for Manafort, prosecutors this week accused him of submitting false information to a bank in connection with at least one of his mortgages.” POLITICO notes, “No criminal charges are known to have been filed over the alleged fraud, and Mueller’s office does not say in the filing whether it intends to bring any.” POLITICO adds, “The filing by Mueller’s office says Manafort obtained a mortgage using ‘doctored profit and loss statements’ overstating ‘by millions of dollars’ the income for his consulting company, DMP International. Prosecutors appear to be referring to a $9.5 million mortgage that Federal Savings Bank of Chicago extended in late 2016 to a Manafort-linked firm, Summerbreeze LLC. Prosecutors’ references to ‘conspiracies’ suggest that someone beyond Manafort was involved in the alleged fraud, but no further details were given.”
ROLL ME AWAY
The Los Angeles Times reports, “A former top aide to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign will plead guilty to fraud-related charges within days — and has made clear to prosecutors that he would testify against Paul Manafort, the lawyer-lobbyist who once managed the campaign.” The Los Angeles Times adds, “The imminent change of Gates’ plea follows negotiations over the last several weeks between Green and two of Mueller’s prosecutors – senior assistant special counsels Andrew Weissmann and Greg D. Andres.” The Los Angeles Times notes, “Gates, a longtime political consultant, can expect ‘a substantial reduction in his sentence’ if he fully cooperates with the investigation. He said Gates is likely to serve about 18 months in prison.” Thank you for your service!
From The Los Angeles Times.
LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO
The AP reports, “A California man has pleaded guilty to unwittingly selling bank accounts to Russians meddling in the US elections. Richard Pinedo of Santa Paula pleaded guilty earlier this month to using stolen identities to set up bank accounts that were then used by the Russians. A Justice Department spokeswoman says Pinedo did not know at the time he was dealing with Russians.” The AP notes, “The plea deal is the third in special counsel Robert Mueller’s continuing Russia probe.” CNN adds, “Pinedo ran a scheme that helped his customers use dummy bank accounts to bypass the security of online companies like PayPal, which can be used to transfer money and pay for online services. The Russians had opened accounts on PayPal using stolen identities of people in the US, prosecutors said. The related indictment of the Russians listed 14 bank accounts they used. Pinedo’s service, called Auction Essistance, helped users circumvent the online security feature that tests whether a person’s identity is real, by depositing and withdrawing small amounts from a bank account then asking the person to identify the amounts in the deposits. The separate indictment of 13 Russians described how they illegally obtained bank account numbers to evade PayPal’s security measures.” CNN notes, “Pinedo’s business, Auction Essistance, appears to have gone dark on the internet as of Friday, despite previously having Facebook and Twitter pages and a sizable amount of public customer reviews. But cached versions of the business’ homepage and a promotional Medium post from 2015 show a business pitching itself as a trusted aid to webcrawlers who’d like privacy online.”
FULL TRUMPISTAN! TWITLER LOSES HIS MIND, AGAIN!
USA Today reports, “President Trump declared that his presidential campaign ‘did nothing wrong’ hours after special counsel Robert Mueller announced new federal indictments against Russian nationals for allegedly meddling in the 2016 election partly to help Trump win. Trump, who rarely acknowledges Russia’s election interference said their activities began in 2014 – ‘long before I announced that I would run for president. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!’” The Washington Post reports, “President Trump questioned the intensifying special counsel investigation of his 2016 campaign and his administration while attacking his own national security adviser, the FBI, Hillary Clinton, former president Barack Obama, Democrats in Congress, CNN and others in a remarkable nine-hour span of tweets that included profanity and misspellings.” Full Trumpistan! The Washington Post notes, “Posting from his palatial estate, he seemed most aggrieved that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team on Friday had filed 13 indictments against Russians and alleged that the effort was intended to push voters toward Trump and away from Clinton, his Democratic rival.” The Washington Post adds, “While unleashing fury on a number of targets, the president had nothing to say about the 13 Russians who have been indicted, their allegedly elaborate operation and the Russian government.” So he also isn’t playing golf out of respect for the dead in the latest school shooting “in what aides describe as showing respect for the 17 people killed in a school shooting in Florida last week. The president has instead spent much of his time watching television and tweeting, aides said.” Out of respect, for the dead. The Washington Post reports, “After a string of tweets Saturday afternoon, he dined with talk-show host Geraldo Rivera and the president’s two adult sons before returning to his quarters for more posts.” The Washington Post continues, “The tweet that bothered several people around him the most was his direct attack Saturday evening on the FBI.” The Washington Post adds, “Attacking the FBI for missing a tip on the Florida shooter — a significant blunder for the bureau, which it admitted Friday — while funerals are still being held for the victims was a remarkable move. The special counsel’s investigation, which is independent of the main Justice Department, has nothing to do with the missed tip.” America also gets to wake up to headlines today about how the kids are alright and slamming our fake Russian bullshit POTUS for his politicizing of their tragedy to deflect from his Russia treason.
TRUMP CITES FAKEBOOK EXEC TO DEFLECT PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
CNBC reports, “Russia’s suspected meddling in U.S. politics wasn’t expressly meant to elect President Donald Trump, but was intended to sow fear and hatred among Americans, a top Facebook executive said — an assessment that was endorsed by the president himself. Rob Goldman, vice president of ads at Facebook, took to Twitter on Friday to applaud special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation of Russian trolls on social media. He also sought to clarify what he perceived as misconceptions surrounding Russian meddling in the U.S. political process.” He wrote, “The main goal of the Russian propaganda and misinformation effort is to divide America by using our institutions, like free speech and social media, against us. It has stoked fear and hatred amongst Americans. It is working incredibly well. We are quite divided as a nation.” Good for him, to remain in denial so long is almost a genuine achievement.
BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE, START WITH PRINCELING JARED
The Washington Post reports, “White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly announced Friday that beginning next week, the White House will no longer allow some employees with interim security clearances access to top-secret information — a move that could threaten the standing of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law. Kushner, a senior adviser to the president, has been able to see some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets even as his background investigation has dragged on for more than a year.” The Washington Post cites earlier reports that “Two U.S. officials said they do not expect Kushner to receive a permanent security clearance in the near future”. The Washington Post adds, “In the meantime, Kushner has maintained an interim clearance that gives him access to top-secret and sensitive compartmented information — a rare level of access to hold for a long period of time.” The Washington Post notes, “His elite position has allowed him to meet with foreign officials around the world and read the classified intelligence prepared daily for the president.” The Washington Post reports, “Kushner’s ability to maintain his current portfolio, which includes classified briefings, could change next week. That’s when Kelly said he plans to discontinue high levels of access for White House employees whose security clearances have been pending since June 1 or longer.” The Washington Post is sure to note, “It is not clear how Kushner could perform his job without a high-level security clearance.” Beautiful.
From The Washington Post.
PRINCELING JARED BLEEDING FINANCIAL DISCLOSURES
Talking Points Memo reports, “Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and a top adviser, wrote a letter to White House Deputy Counsel Stefan Passantino dated Jan. 3, 2018 adding a number of additional business interests that had not previously been on his personal financial disclosure form. That letter, which has not been previously reported, corrects and adds new corporate positions and details of his companies’ structures that he legally was required to disclose, in a seeming attempt to square his filing with spouse Ivanka Trump’s as well as clean up some previously overlooked items.”
From Talking Points Memo.
MATTIS ALLUDES TO RUSSIAN ROLE IN FEBRUARY 7 ATTACK IN SYRIA
The Army Times reports, “U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has yet to see a direct link between Russia and an attack against U.S. backed forces in Syria, but is not ruling anything out following the confirmed deaths of five Russian contractors during the incident. ‘I still cannot give you any more information on why they would do this. They took direction from someone, with some local direction. Was it from external sources? Don’t ask me, I don’t know,’ Mattis told reporters Feb. 17 while returning from Europe.” Mattis added, ““But I doubt that 250-300 people all just decided on their individual own selves to suddenly cross the river into enemy territory and start shelling the location and maneuvering tanks against it.” Good call.
From The Army Times.
U.S. DESTROYER ENTERS THE BLACK SEA
Unian Information Agency reports, “The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) entered the Black Sea on February 17, 2018.” Unian Information Agency notes, “This naval operation is in support of our NATO allies in eastern Europe and falls under Operation Atlantic Resolve.”
From Unian Information Agency.
RUSSIANS CREATING PSEUDO-HISTORY TO INFLUENCE U.S. NAVAL CULTURE
Russian state-run Tass reports, “Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov on Friday laid a wreath to the tombs of six Russian sailors from the Svetlana steam frigate, who died here when she was on a round-the-world voyage of 1876-1877.” Yeah, that incident no one has ever fucking heard of before now, well that. Russian state-run Tass duly informs, “Back then, the Russia sailors were invited to Norfolk as guests of honor and participants in a parade on the anniversary of the March 1862 Battle of Hampton Roads in the American Civil War of 1861-1865, the first sea battle in naval history between ironclad warships. As follows from documents, the Russian sailors contracted, presumably, either scurvy or typhus and were taken to a local hospital but died to be buried in Norfolk along with sailors from other ships and navies in late January 1877. Currently, the tombs of the six sailors from Russia’s Svetlana frigate are located on the territory of the US’ Naval Station Norfolk.” Russian state-run Tass notes, “The 40-gun screw frigate Svetlana was built in France’s Bordeaux in 1856.” Additionally a separate Russian state-run Tass article reports, “A monument to Soviet pilots who underwent training and then took Catalina flying boats to the Soviet Union during World War II will emerge in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, by next autumn, the city’s acting mayor, Rick King, told the media on Friday.” Rick King, you useful idiot or pliant tool, congrats on your first known appearance in Russian state propaganda! Russian state-run Tass adds, “King said he hoped the monument would be in place by December 1. He was speaking at a special ceremony honoring Russian sailors buried in Norfolk. The monument will be delivered from Russia.” Russian state-run Sputnik also has an item, “King stressed that it is a ‘great thing that we are all coming together.’” Ew…. Maximum covfefe.
RUSSIAN STOCKS TUMBLE ON NEWS OF MUELLER INDICTMENTS
CNBC reports, “Russian stocks tumbled Friday afternoon after a federal grand jury indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election. The VanEck Vectors Russia exchange-traded fund (RSX), which tracks a host of publicly-traded Russian companies, fell 1.6 percent following news of the indictments. The fund is largely comprised of energy and financial companies, according to FactSet.” CNBC notes, “The downturn appeared to reflect investor fears over souring U.S.-Russia relations and that the latest developments could force President Donald Trump’s hand in enforcing sanctions.”
DERIPASKA STEPS DOWN AS HEAD OF RUSAL, EN+
Bloomberg reports, “Billionaire Oleg Deripaska is stepping down as CEO of Rusal and president of En+ Group Plc as part of a broader reshuffle”. Bloomberg notes, “the appointments will be announced after the Rusal board meets Feb. 22. En+ CEO Maxim Sokov will take the role as president and Rusal CEO Vladislav Soloviev will become CEO of En+.” Deripaska was just targeted by anti-corruption crusader and opposition leader Alexey Navalny in a video that linked him to a Kremlin aide and an escort on a yacht last summer.
—–NOT MIDNIGHT IN MUNICH: SECURITY CONFERENCE SPECIAL—–
TRUMP “CHIDES” MCMASTER BECAUSE TRUMP IS A GODDAMN TRAITOR
NPR reports, “President Trump chided his national security adviser on Sunday, tweeting H.R. McMaster ‘forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians.’” No Twitler, he did not forget he had no intention of spewing bullshit at a grown up event like the Munich Security Conference. NPR notes, “McMaster said on Saturday that it is now ‘incontrovertible’ Russia interfered in the 2016 election,” and cited the indictment in his remarks on Saturday afternoon. In Munich, “McMaster did not equivocate. He used forceful language to convey American strength against what the indictment describes as a coordinated Russian disinformation campaign, waged largely online, meant to sway American voters in Trump’s favor,” NPR reports. McMaster told the gathering, “The United States will expose and act against those who use cyberspace, social media and other means to advance campaigns of disinformation, subversion and espionage”.
NORMANDY FOR- GET ABOUT IT
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “There were few signs of progress on the issue of a potential United Nations peacekeeping force in eastern Ukraine at the Munich Security Conference on February 17, while the envoys from Russia and the United States delivered barbs over fresh election-meddling accusations by Washington. Meanwhile, talks in the so-called Normandy Format — consisting of Germany, France, Ukraine, and Russia — aimed at halting fighting between Russia-backed separatists and Kyiv’s forces in Ukraine’s east failed to materialize in Munich as of February 17, reportedly due to a scheduling conflict.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty notes, “In his speech opening the second day of the conference, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that a UN peacekeeping mission could lead to a ‘step-by-step lifting’ of sanctions against Russia over its interference in Ukraine.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty adds, “Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, however, said a day earlier that he and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov were unable to come to an agreement on the issue of peacekeepers during their meeting in Munich.” Reuters notes the official reason it “was scrapped” is “due to scheduling conflicts after German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel unexpectedly had to return to Berlin after the release of a German-Turkish journalist from a Turkish prison.”
POUR ONE FOR POROSHENKO + PEACE
The AP reports, “Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is renewing a push to have United Nations peacekeepers deployed in eastern Ukraine, arguing that there is ‘a unique window of opportunity’ to implement a three-year old peace deal.” The AP adds, “Poroshenko argued at the Munich Security Conference Friday that ‘there is a chance for Moscow to show the sense of compromise and agree on United Nations peacekeepers throughout the whole occupied territory of Donbass.’ He said that any such force should be granted a ‘robust functional mandate.’” Defense News adds, “Ukraine president Petro Poroschenko raged against Russia during a speech at the Munich Security Conference”. Defense News quotes, “‘My message to you is that it is in our joint interest to resist Russians attempt to break our unity and ruin our democracy throughout Europe or throughout the world…. to prove Europe is a continent of stability, peace and cooperation,’ Poroschenko said. ‘Dear friends, these values are our greatest assets against the Russian threat.’”
SWEDEN OFFERS TO LEAD UN PEACEKEPERS IN UKRAINE
Deutsche Welle reports, “Non-NATO member Sweden would be open to providing troops to a UN peacekeeping mission in trouble-torn eastern Ukraine if both Russia and the West agreed, Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist told Ukrainian and US officials at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. Hultqvist was responding to a report commissioned by former NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen — now an adviser to Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko — which proposed that Sweden lead a UN peacekeeping mission in Ukraine.” Deutsche Welle notes, “Sweden’s offer to lead the UN mission in Ukraine comes amid strained relations with Russia, which has increased military operations in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Sweden since its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014. Russia’s maneuvers prompted Sweden to deploy a permanent unit of 350 soldiers on the strategically important Baltic Sea island of Gotland.”
From Deutsche Welle.
THE LAWYERS’ SPOKESMAN HAS DECIDED TO SING
The Daily Beast reports, “Mark Corallo, former spokesperson for President Donald Trump’s legal team, spoke with Special Counsel Bob Mueller earlier this week for over two hours”. Simply epic. The Daily Beast recalls, “One moment that might be of particular interest to the special counsel: a now-infamous flight back from the G-20 summit, when Trump and his close aides –– including his daughter Ivanka, Jared Kushner, and Communications Director Hope Hicks –– drafted a deceptive statement regarding Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Kremlin-linked Russian nationals. According to the Times, Corallo was in a position to tell Mueller that Hicks once claimed the president’s sons emails about that meeting would ‘never get out.’” Then Uday barfed them up on his personal Twitter account because stupid is as stupid does.
From The Daily Beast.
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
TRUMP’S MILITARY PARADE SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN
NBC News reports, “There is growing concern within the US military about the costs of President Donald Trump’s proposed military parade and the disruption it could cause. If Trump insists on a military parade through Washington involving thousands of troops, armored vehicles, missiles and other heavy weapons the event could disrupt crucial military training schedules, according to a defense official directly familiar with the initial planning efforts.” So it is also terrible for our security – shit, Russia must be extra thrilled. CNN adds, “There are also concerns over the cost of the event”. And horror of horrors, “the Pentagon is considering seeking out private donations to offset some of the non-military costs of the event. The donations could not cover military salaries or the cost of moving equipment but they could be used to pay for other aspects of the parade.” Most Orwellian and deranged however is, “One solution being considered to alleviate that concern,” the “so-called multimedia option, which could include a concert and large video screens on the National Mall displaying images of military gear rather than bringing large amounts of hardware to Washington.” This is classic authoritarian fare typically reserved for breakaway regions and unrecognized states, but hey, that is sort of what Trumpistan is, too.
From NBC News.
THANKS OBAMA OR THIS IS WHAT INTELLECTUAL HONESTY LOOKS LIKE?
NBC News reports, “The Obama administration’s muted response to the 2014 Sony hack may have laid the groundwork for Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections, a top Democrat argued Friday.” No “may have,” but rather absolutely did. NBC News adds, “Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the previous administration should have established a ‘more forceful deterrent’ against potential adversaries considering cyberattacks against the U.S. or its institutions.” Translation: Obama made Schiff’s job very hard. Yes, it is called do not take nuclear weapons off the table suddenly less you give your enemies nothing to fear.
From NBC News.
UDAY DOES INDIA DESPITE PROMISES OF NO NEW FOREIGN PROJECTS
The New York Times reports, “When the Trump family jet lands in India this week, the family member taking a tour of the world’s largest democracy — with a Secret Service detail in tow — won’t be the president on a diplomatic mission. It will be his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., on a sales trip.” The New York Times notes, “The Trump family earned as much as $3 million in royalties in 2016 from ventures in India, according to the president’s financial disclosure report. And Ivanka Trump made her own trip to India in November, in her capacity as a member of Trump administration, just as sales were about to start on some of the residential projects.” India is the Trump Organization’s biggest market with three projects in the country. The Guardian flushes out some of the bilious details in that, “Prospective investors in a Trump Tower project near Delhi are being offered a conversation and dinner with Donald Trump Jr as part of a marketing campaign that has drawn criticism from corruption watchdogs.” And ahead of Uday’s visit, “Full-page advertisements reading ‘Trump is here. Are you invited?’ featured on the front page of three Indian national newspapers,” The Guardian notes.
NOT NORMAL: EVERYONE IS LOOKING FOR THE EXITS, ANY EXIT WILL DO
The AP reports, “A senior aide to Jared Kushner is leaving the White House to return to his family’s real estate company. Reed Cordish is a central figure in the Kushner-led Office of American Innovation. Cordish will be replaced by Brooke Rollins, a former aide to Texas ex-Gov. Rick Perry who heads the Texas Public Policy Foundation on Prison Reform.” Cordish is described by the AP as a “longtime friend” of princeling Jared’s.
From the AP.
PAYPAL BROUGHT INTO ALL THIS COVFEFE IN LATEST INDICTMENT
Fortune reports, “In an indictment brought Friday by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, PayPal has become the latest tech company pulled into the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.” Fortune adds, “while it was previously known that Russian operatives had been accused of spreading propaganda on Facebook and Twitter by stealing identities of Americans, the special counsel now says they also used PayPal accounts to fund their efforts. Federal prosecutors allege that the PayPal accounts were opened with fake identities to get past the online payment company’s security requirements.”
MEET SURKOV, KING OF MODERN POLITICAL TECHNOLOGISTS
Slate reports, “Specialists known as ‘political technologists’ have been a feature of politics in Russia and other former Soviet countries since the early post-Communist parties. They are not quite the same as the ‘spin doctors’ of democratic politics, or the blunter propagandists of totalitarian systems. Rather than just promoting their own favored candidates, they manufacture entire political narratives, including opposition, to keep them in power. As the British scholar Andrew Wilson puts it in his book Virtual Politics, the technologists act as ‘political meta-programmers, system designers, decision-makers, and political controllers all in one, applying whatever technology they can to the construction of politics as a whole.’” Slate adds, “The best known political technologist today is Putin’s Tupac- and Allen Ginsberg–loving aide and chief ideologue Vladislav Surkov. Journalist Peter Pomerantsev describes the methods of Putin’s ‘grey cardinal’.” Slate notes, “Surkov recently took his postmodern provocateur act to a new extreme by writing a novel under a pseudonym (he denied, unconvincingly, being the author) that satirizes the Russian political system he himself created, then attacking the author under his own name in print.”
RUSSIA’S COVERT EFFORT TO UNDERMINE LATVIAN INSTITUTIONS
The Jamestown Foundation’s Paul Goble writes, “Thanks to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as well as its own efforts, Latvia almost certainly is protected against a Russian military threat of the kind some in Moscow constantly threaten the Baltic States with. Indeed, a new Estonian government report specifically concludes that a Russian military threat to the Baltic countries is relatively low (Valisluureamet.ee, February 2018). And yet, Latvia—to an even greater extent than its two immediate NATO neighbors—is now confronted by expanding Russian efforts to undermine its key domestic institutions. According to Jānis Maizītis, who heads the Bureau for the Defense of the Constitution of Latvia, the country’s banks and businesses are under threat, and Moscow is even trying to promote regime change via the ballot box, as it has attempted to do in other countries (Svpressa.ru, February 5).” Goble notes, “This year marks not only the centennial of the establishment of Latvia’s independence, but also parliamentary elections, which will be scheduled most likely in the fall. As Maizītis has argued, Moscow is making use of familiar tactics it has employed elsewhere to try to tip the outcome against the pro-Western parties that have dominated Latvian politics for the last 25 years. The Russian government is backing pro-Moscow political factions who, at a minimum, will drop Riga’s efforts to linguistically integrate the ethnic-Russian minority into the Latvian nation and work to improve relations between Latvia and the Russian Federation. This, in turn, will facilitate attempts by Russian firms to expand their share of business and banking in Latvia and not challenge the ways in which Moscow oligarchs have used Riga banks to launder illegally acquired Russian wealth (Delfi.lv, February 13; Svpressa.ru, February 5).” At heart though is the idea that “Over the longer term, if the elections go as Moscow seeks to promote, it might even be possible that Latvia could morph from one of the most enthusiastic supporters of NATO into one of the members that question the Alliance’s assertive approach to Russia. A Latvia ruled by pro-Kremlin parties could even seek to limit NATO’s response to that threat.” Have you seen this movie before? No longer the lives of others, is it?
From The Jamestown Foundation.
CELEBRITIES + TRUMPISTANI ELITES DUPED BY TROLL ACCOUNTS
The New York Daily News reports, “Special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday filed conspiracy fraud charges against 13 Russian nationals and three organizations, including the so-called ‘troll farm,’ Internet Research Agency. The company, funded by the Russian government, pushed propaganda on hundreds of thousands of Americans through Twitter accounts like @TEN_GOP and @America1st — but not without some help.” The New York Daily News adds, “Celebrities, politicians as well as media and news organizations were among the hundreds of thousands of American social media users duped into engaging with the phony accounts, often times thrusting the Russian-state sponsored Tweets into viral territory. Trump personally thanked one of the accounts for its support and his son Uday “made a frequent habit of retweeting the troll accounts on matters ranging from voter fraud to to a Swedish Immigrant riot hoax.” Other celebrities who shared content from trolls include far right commentator Ann Coulter, rapper Nicki Minaj, comedian Sarah Silverman, “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah, actor James Woods and television personalities Sean Hannity and Chris Hayes and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
From The New York Daily News.
RUSSIA IS COMPETITIVE WITH MASS SHOOTERS IN DERANGEMENT
Wired reports, “In the wake of Wednesday’s Parkland, Florida school shooting, which resulted in 17 deaths, troll and bot-tracking sites reported an immediate uptick in related tweets from political propaganda bots and Russia-linked Twitter accounts. Hamilton 68, a website created by Alliance for Securing Democracy, tracks Twitter activity from accounts it has identified as linked to Russian influence campaigns. As of morning, shooting-related terms dominated the site’s trending hashtags and topics, including Parkland, guncontrolnow, Florida, guncontrol, and Nikolas Cruz, the name of the alleged shooter. Popular trending topics among the bot network include shooter, NRA, shooting, Nikolas, Florida, and teacher.” Wired adds, “In other cases, the bots jump on existing hashtags to take control of the conversation and amplify a message. That’s likely what is happening with the Parkland shooting and the hashtag guncontrolnow”. One of the Alliance for Securing Democracy’s research analysts, Bret Schafer, “says the spike in shooting-related posts from Russia-linked bots is in line with what his group observed after last year’s shootings in Las Vegas and Texas.”
—–RADIO MOSCOW: STORIES FROM THEIR PRESS AND OURS—–
POST-SOVIET FASHION WATCH
Fashionista reports, “So far, the Fall 2018 look is anything but subtle.” In their “14 Breakout Trends from New York Fashion Week,” we can see the incubation period of the post-Soviet fashion watch is over, we are now full on. Fashionista notes, “Think statement-making, capital-L Looks like brightly colored animal prints and furs, metallics, colorful tights and tracksuits. ‘The Matrix’ look was also prominent”. Oh, my! The winner of post-Soviet fashion watch brings all this together with white boots and gold jewelry. This is your challenge.
*NEW* MERCH: TRUMPISTAN WATCH shop.
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