—–ON THE AGENDA—–
FCC SET TO OFFICIALLY REPEAL NET NEUTRALITY
ABC News reports, “The Federal Communication Commission could officially repeal the Obama-era ‘net neutrality’ rules by publishing the order to the National Register on Thursday,” which will result in “a wave of opposing lawsuits from state attorneys general.” ABC News adds, “The reversal is a hallmark victory for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, whose tenure has seen him strongly advocate for reduced regulation in lockstep with the president who appointed him, Donald Trump.” ABC News notes, “In order for that final rule to take effect, the White House Office of Management and Budget will have to sign off, which is expected happen quickly.”
From ABC News.
U.S. EMBASSY IN MONTENEGRO ATTACKED
CNN reports, “A man killed himself after attempting to throw a grenade over the wall of the US Embassy in Montenegro’s capital of Podgorica early Thursday, authorities said. The grenade appeared to have gone off as it was thrown into the air, and the man detonated a second device that killed him, police said.” CNN adds, “The man’s body was found 100 feet from the embassy’s wall, according to Steve Goldstein, US Undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. The man’s motive for throwing the device was unclear, Goldstein said.” Let’s hope it was some drunk and not a Russian-backed mega plot that went awry.
DESPERATE MAN WALKING, TWEETING
The Washington Post reports, “President Trump on Wednesday lashed out at Attorney General Jeff Sessions, suggesting the president’s supporters should pressure Sessions to focus the investigation into Russian election meddling on President Barack Obama’s administration.” Of course Twitler did this via what else, his favorite Russian-owned medium, Twitter. Using the antisocial network, the fake Russian bullshit president wrote, “Question: If all of the Russian meddling took place during the Obama Administration, right up to January 20th, why aren’t they the subject of the investigation? Why didn’t Obama do something about the meddling? Why aren’t Dem crimes under investigation? Ask Jeff Session!” So he misspelled the name of his Attorney General and this is completely crazy, but most of yesterday’s crazy and dwindling surplus of outrage assigned to crazy went to the notion he espoused during a listening session with Parkland survivors and their parents of arming teachers. The Washington Post notes, “Trump later sent a new version of the tweet with the correct spelling.” Just like a big boy. The Washington Post adds, “The morning tweet was the latest in Trump’s often-angry running commentary on the investigation in the five days since the Justice Department’s special counsel announced a sweeping indictment of what prosecutors say is a notorious Russian group of Internet trolls.” Yes and not a word of that belayed concern for what is happening to our country. Question: why did democracy end? Answer: the Russians paid cash.
From The Washington Post.
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS, DISINGENUOUS PIECE OF SHIT
POLITICO reports, “Bernie Sanders on Wednesday blamed Hillary Clinton for not doing more to stop the Russian attack on the last presidential election. Then his 2016 campaign manager, in an interview with POLITICO, said he’s seen no evidence to support special counsel Robert Mueller’s assertion in an indictment last week that the Russian operation had backed Sanders’ campaign.” POLITICO notes, “The remarks showed Sanders, running for a third term and currently considered a front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, deeply defensive in response to questions posed to him about what was laid out in the indictment. He attempted to thread a response that blasts Donald Trump for refusing to acknowledge that Russians helped his campaign — but then holds himself harmless for a nearly identical denial. In doing so, Sanders and his former campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, presented a series of self-serving statements that were not accurate, and that track with efforts by Trump and his supporters to undermine the credibility of the Mueller probe.” Why might they do that? Might they know more about what Russia was doing to meddle in our election then they let on? Bernie couldn’t bring himself to vote for sanctions either — it is worth recalling. Of course he later backtracked on his Clinton-blaming bullshit because it did not look good and issued a statement that said the opposite. Too late. You can’t spill the covfefe and then expert to put it back in the jar again as if the covfefe had never spilled.
DEMOCRATS WANT MORE FUNDING TO FIGHT ELECTION INTERFERENCE
POLITICO reports, “Congressional Democratic leaders on Wednesday called for more than $300 million in new funding to help safeguard this November’s elections against Russian interference. But they stopped short of courting any shutdown battles over the issue ahead of next month’s must-pass government spending bill. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) outlined their bid for extra money for the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and Election Assistance Commission in a letter to GOP leaders that made no mention of President Donald Trump.” POLITICO adds, “Trump should take the lead on efforts to protect the midterm elections from Russian influence ‘rather than obsessing over the legitimacy of his election, tweeting and relitigating the 2016 campaign,’ Schumer told reporters.” Zing!
DARKNESS AT NUNES SOLICITS HELP FROM RUSSIAN BOTS TO GO VIRAL
Business Insider reports, “Rep. Devin Nunes, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, sent a tweet on Wednesday in which he sarcastically called on Russian bots to help an article he had linked to go viral.” How do we know and why is the word “sarcastically” inserted in this story? DARKNESS AT NUNES tweeted, “Catch up on mainstream media Russian conspiracy theories in this piece by @FDRLST PS-If you are a Russian Bot please make this go viral PSS-If you’re not a Russian Bot you will become one if you retweet”. The Federalist by the way is a garbage outlet whose editor-in-chief Sean Davis has blocked TRUMPISTAN WATCH for asking simply who funds them.
From Business Insider.
DEATH CULT GOP ON HOUSE INTEL COMMITTEE REFUSES EVEN APPEARANCE
The Daily Beast reports, “Republicans on the House intelligence committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election have refused Democratic entreaties to subpoena Twitter for direct messages of Donald Trump associates”. That is right, they are not even pretending to go through the motions of an investigation at this point. The Daily Beast notes, “Democrats have indicated they want DMs concerning Donald Trump Jr. and Trump consigliere Roger Stone—both of whom have been linked to WikiLeaks, which famously released hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 campaign.” Surprise surprise, “Representatives for committee chairman Devin Nunes and Russia investigation chief Mike Conaway did not reply to a request for comment.” They are swimming in covfefe.
From The Daily Beast.
BILL BROWDER BRIEFLY DETAINED, QUESTIONED IN SWITZERLAND
The Daily Beast reports, “British businessman Bill Browder says he was briefly detained and questioned by Swiss authorities on Monday night, a week after lawyers acting on his behalf lodged court papers attacking the credibility of Switzerland’s federal prosecutors. The court filing, seen by The Daily Beast, demands the recusal of one of Switzerland’s top prosecutors because of his links to an alleged Russian double-agent who was working with the Swiss prosecutors’ office.” The Daily Beast adds, “The alleged double-agent, named only as Victor K. in court, was fired amid allegations of breaching official-secrets laws, corruption, and ‘unauthorized clandestine behavior,’ which included visits with the Russian operatives who were behind the notorious July 2016 Trump Tower meeting. The employee of the Federal Criminal Police, who was assigned to work closely with the Swiss prosecutor’s office on Russian investigations, appealed in vain against his dismissal, claiming that colleagues knew all about his long history of dealings with Russian officials and go-betweens, such as Natalia Veselnitskaya—whom he met in Moscow.” The Daily Beast continues, “One of those colleagues was Patrick Lamon, the federal prosecutor overseeing a long-running Swiss-Russian corruption case. Browder’s legal team argue that the police officer was intimately involved with Lamon’s investigation into alleged Russian fraud and corruption—rendering both men unfit to continue with the case.”
From The Daily Beast.
THE EU RENEWS SANCTIONS ON TRUMP’S GREAT RUSSIAN FRIENDS
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “European Union ambassadors have prolonged the asset freezes and visa bans on 150 Russian officials and Moscow-backed Ukrainian separatists for another six months”. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty adds, “The diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak on the record, said the measures would be formally adopted in the coming days.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty notes, “The EU diplomats said that Russia’s new ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, remains on the EU sanctions list. The Russians under EU sanctions also include Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, Armed Forces General Staff chief Valery Gerasimov, and state TV presenter Dmitry Kiselyov.”
NOT ONE BUT TWO U.S. DESTROYERS IN THE BLACK SEA NOW
Stars and Stripes reports, “Two American destroyers sailed into the Black Sea over the weekend, the first time since 2014 that more than one U.S. warship has operated in this tense region other than in an exercise. The destroyers USS Ross and USS Carney are patrolling the sea to help maintain regional security and stability, the Navy said.”
From Stars and Stripes.
SYRIA: NEVER BELIEVE ANYTHING UNTIL THE KREMLIN DENIES IT
Reuters reports, “The Kremlin said on Wednesday that Western allegations the Russian Air Force was responsible for civilian deaths in the rebel-held district of eastern Ghouta outside the Syrian capital Damascus were groundless. Pro-government forces pounded eastern Ghouta on Tuesday, in a surge of violence that a war monitor said had killed at least 250 people since Sunday night.” Remember: never believe anything until the Kremlin denies it.
NAVALNY DETAINED, COULD BE IN JAIL FOR FAKE ELECTIONS
The Telegraph reports, “Opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been charged with an administrative offence that could put him in jail when Vladimir Putin stands for re-election on March 18. Mr Navalny said on Twitter on Thursday afternoon that police had taken him into custody as he was coming out of a dentist’s office. He posted a photograph of himself in a van with police officers.” The Telegraph adds, “He later tweeted that he had been charged with illegally organising a public demonstration, an administrative violation that carries a potential 30-day jail sentence for repeat offenders like Mr Navalny, and released.”
From The Telegraph.
RUSSIA BLOCKS ANOTHER KREMLIN CRITIC’S WEBSITE
Reuters reports, “Russian authorities have blocked a news website sponsored by Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky less than a month before a presidential election, according to a block list available on the Russian communications regulator’s website.” Reuters recalls, “Putin freed Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man, in 2013 after he had spent a decade in jail for fraud, a charge Khodorkovsky said had been fabricated to punish him for funding political opposition to Putin. The president has said he regards the businessman as a common thief.” That must mean Putin sees himself as an extraordinary one.
LATVIA’S BANKING CRISIS: WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON + WHAT IS KNOWN
Reuters reports, “ Latvia’s central bank chief has been suspended pending an investigation into bribery allegations, and the Baltic country’s third biggest bank has sought emergency support following U.S. accusations of money-laundering and sanctions-busting. The problems, which the government says are not connected, have dealt a blow to Latvia’s reputation as a financial hub that bridges Russia, which it borders, and the West.” Reuters recalls, “The U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said on Feb. 13 it was seeking restrictions on ABLV bank on suspicion of involvement in money laundering and helping clients violate United Nations sanctions on North Korea. ABLV denied the accusations. But it said on Monday it had sought temporary liquidity support from the central bank after depositors withdrew 600 million euros ($740 million), about 22 percent of total deposits”. Reuters reports, “The ECB [European Central Bank] has stopped all payments at the bank to prevent its collapse. Separately, central bank chief Ilmars Rimsevics was detained on Saturday on suspicion that he solicited a bribe. He was released on Monday, and denied the accusations, but was suspended from his post on Tuesday. Latvia’s Defence Ministry said on Tuesday the allegations may be part of a disinformation campaign intended to damage trust in the country and influence the outcome of a parliamentary election in October.” Reuters notes, “Ilmars Rimsevics was part of the political movement that led Latvia to independence from the Soviet Union and is a member of the European Central Bank’s governing council. The 52-year-old economist is known internationally as a conservative policy maker and in Latvia as a firm manager at the central bank”. Reuters adds, “Rimsevics says he is the victim of a smear campaign and refuses to resign. He is not allowed leave the country.” Reuters observes, “the root cause of the problem was hardly hidden. Latvia’s banks hold around $13 billion worth of foreign deposits, roughly half of all deposits in the sector, an issue highlighted as a source of risk by authorities year after year.” Reuters notes, “The complaint against Rimsevics was made by small Latvian lender, Norvik Bank, Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis said. Its owner is a Britain-based Russian, Grigory Guselnikov.”
BALTIC PRESIDENTS WILL MEET TRUMP IN APRIL
Agence France Presse reports, “US President Donald Trump will welcome his counterparts from the three Baltic states in Washington on April 3 to discuss security and economic ties, the Estonian presidency said Thursday. The presidents of fellow NATO members Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — Kersti Kaljulaid, Raimonds Vejonis and Dalia Grybauskaite — last met with Trump in Warsaw last year.”
From Agence France Presse.
POLITICO reports, “New charges have been filed in special counsel Robert Mueller’s criminal case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and aide Rick Gates, but the charges were put under seal by the court, obscuring the nature and import of the development. The new charging document filed in federal court in Washington could be a superseding indictment, adding new charges or even new defendants to the charges filed against Manafort and Gates last October. The pair were accused of money laundering and failing to register as foreign agents for their work related to Ukraine, among other crimes.” POLITICO notes, “There was no immediate indication of new charges in the court’s online docket, but a public, paper docket book kept in the clerk’s office at U.S. District Court in Washington contained an entry showing sealed charges filed recently under the docket number for the Manafort-Gates case. The entry was undated, but the sequence suggests the charges were filed Friday or later.” POLITICO adds, “In the filing unsealed last Friday, prosecutors said Manafort made ‘a series of false and fraudulent representations’ to Federal Savings Bank, a Chicago-based financial institution that gave a Manafort-linked firm a $9.5 million loan in December 2016.” More shots fired.
SWEET HOME CHICAGO
NBC News reports, “Federal investigators are probing whether former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort promised a Chicago banker a job in the Trump White House in return for $16 million in home loans”. NBC News notes, “received three separate loans in December 2016 and January 2017 from Federal Savings Bank for homes in New York City, Virginia and the Hamptons. The banker, Stephen Calk, president of the Federal Savings Bank, was announced as a member of candidate Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers in August 2016.” And “Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is now investigating whether there was a quid pro quo agreement between Manafort and Calk.” Wow! We are used to this kind of stuff here with Blagojevich but well, we are used to this here and it is still and always and forever something when political office is sold as a personal favor.
From NBC News.
COME AS YOU ARE
POLITICO reports, “Sam Nunberg, one of President Donald Trump’s earliest campaign advisers, is scheduled to meet Thursday with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators in Washington”. POLITICO adds, “Nunberg was an outspoken Trump aide who got fired in August 2015 over racially charged Facebook posts. Trump later sued Nunberg for $10 million for breaching a confidentiality agreement. They settled the case a month later.” POLITICO notes, “Nunberg, who will be accompanied for the Mueller interview by defense attorney Patrick Brackley, got an invitation to meet with the special counsel in mid-January soon after the publication of Michael Wolff’s tell-all ‘Fire and Fury.’”
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
[REMEMBER TO SHOW SYMPATHY]
The Daily Mail reports, “President Donald Trump held a cue card between his hands that reminded him to offer sympathy as he met with victims and families of the Florida high school massacre on Wednesday. A photo from the event shows Trump holding what appears to be a piece of paper with the White House letterhead. And while many of the notes are indiscernible, point number five is clearly visible – a reminder to himself to tell his guests: ‘I hear you.’” The Washington Post has a fuller look at the card and number four is two questions: “resources? ideas?” Isn’t he pretending to be the president? Isn’t that what he would be bringing to the table were he, you know, an actual president?
UDAY SAYS WE DON’T THINK ENOUGH OF THE TRUMP FAMILY SACRIFICES
Vanity Fair reports, “When he chose to move into the White House, Trump was forced to give up a life he ‘loved’ —one in which he had ‘so many things going.’ And now, it seems his oldest son is feeling the pinch as well. On Tuesday, Donald Trump Jr. told an Indian television station that narratives about the Trump family profiting off the presidency are totally misguided, because they ignore the brutal sacrifices the family has made in order to serve the country. When the haters talk about the Trump Organization ‘profiteering from the presidency and all this nonsense,’ he explained, they fail to mention ‘the opportunity cost of the deals that we were not able to do.’ That, Donny said, is ‘sort of a shame. Because we put on all these impositions on ourselves and essentially got no credit for actually doing that . . . for doing the right thing.’” Yes, think of the Trump family sacrifices! Yes TRUMPISTAN WATCH also struggles to believe Uday is a real person and not a cartoon villain.
From Vanity Fair.
REMEMBER RULES DON’T APPLY TO THE FAMILY, CHAIN MIGRATION EDITION
The Washington Post reports, “The parents of first lady Melania Trump have become legal permanent residents of the United States and are close to obtaining their citizenship, according to people familiar with their status, but their attorney declined to say how or when the couple gained their green cards. Immigration experts said Viktor and Amalija Knavs very likely relied on a family reunification process that President Trump has derided as ‘chain migration’ and proposed ending in such cases.” Get ‘em out of here! What qualifications do they have? We want only the best people! Melania does not even have a college degree before she began her “modeling” career. ICE! ICE! USA! USA! Build the wall!
From The Washington Post.
TRUMP’S OLD ENFORCER IS ON THE RNC PAYROLL
ABC News reports, “A firm run by Keith Schiller, the loyal bodyguard who followed Donald Trump from the boardroom to the Oval Office and then abruptly departed in September, has been added to the payroll of the Republican National Committee, federal campaign filings show. Schiller’s firm, KS Global Group LLC, has received several payments totaling $75,000 for ‘security services’ beginning in October, just weeks after Schiller left his White House post as director of Oval Office operations. KS Global Group is a company bearing Schiller’s initials and was incorporated in Florida under his name in October 2017. It appears to be a branch of a company formed in Delaware in October 2015, according to corporate records.” That’s $15k a month in “services” Schiller provides.
From ABC News.
WOMEN + MINORITIES MATTER LESS THAN EVER TO T REX’S STATE DEPT
POLITICO reports, “State Department officials have been ordered to pare back passages in a soon-to-be-released annual report on global human rights that traditionally discuss women’s reproductive rights and discrimination”. POLITICO adds, “The directive calls for stripping passages that describe societal views on family planning, including how much access women have to contraceptives and abortion. A broader section that chronicles racial, ethnic and sexual discrimination has also been ordered pared down”. The move “appears to highlight the stated desire of Tillerson and President Donald Trump to make human rights a lower priority in U.S. foreign policy.”
WTF IS GOING ON AT THE VA + WHY DOES IT SOUND SO SOVIET?
POLITICO reports, “The White House has given Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin the green light to quash an internal rebellion among conservative foes of his leadership.” POLITICO adds, “The embattled Cabinet head said he’d begun investigating what he called ‘subversion’ at the agency, and those who have defied his authority ‘won’t be working in my operation.’” What!? Are we really talking about subversion at the Department of Veterans Affairs!? So, everyone who voted for Trump, this is what you actually voted for when you did: Russian mafia state leeches on every orifice, structure and crack of governance. In all fairness, we do not yet know if this is Russia mafia state scum or merely inspired by their tactics, but, “Shulkin’s new chief of staff, Peter O’Rourke, is meeting with each staffer suspected of defying Shulkin ‘individually and as a group to determine, now that there is a clear direction where we are going, where people are going to stand,’ he said. ‘Those who crossed the line in the past are going to have to be accountable for those decisions.’” POLITICO recalls, “Shulkin and the White House on Friday named O’Rourke, who previously led an accountability office at VA, to replace Vivieca Wright Simpson after she retired last week. An IG report accused her of falsifying an email to get the VA to pay for Shulkin’s wife to accompany him on a trip to England and Denmark over the summer. The IG investigation, which also found Shulkin had improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets from a friend, appears to have brought Shulkin’s foes out in the open, seeing an opportunity to drive him out of office over the scathing report. But Shulkin repaid the money and appears to have maintained the White House’s backing.” And that’s just at the VA. Imagine what is happening over at the Department of Energy or the EPA.
DEATH CULT DEVOTEES FLIP AFTER RUSSIAN BOT PURGE ON TWITTER
USA Today reports, “Conservative Twitter users raged against the social media company, lobbing accusations of left-wing bias and censorship after thousands of followers were wiped out in an overnight bot purge. The suspension of multiple accounts followed the indictment by special counsel Robert S. Mueller of Russian nationals for meddling in the U.S. election, including using fake accounts on Twitter to conduct ‘information warfare’ against the United States.” USA Today notes, “The hashtag #TwitterLockOut was trending in the U.S. on Wednesday morning as thousands of accounts, including those belonging to Michael Flynn Jr., son of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and Infowars editor Paul Joseph Watson complained that hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of their followers had been shut down.”
From USA Today.
WE HAVE TO ARM THE BOTS + TROLLS TO SAVE THEM
BBC News reports, “Twitter accounts suspected of links to Russia have turned their attention to the contentious issue of US gun control in the wake of the mass shooting in Florida, researchers suggest.” Divisiveness is Russia’s modus operandi so it is very helpful that, “Gun control is one of the most divisive issues in America.” BBC News notes, “the gun control tweets followed a typical pattern of stoking both sides of an argument and casting public doubt on institutions such as the police or the media.”
From BBC News.
RUSSIAN TROLLS, TRUE EQUAL OPPORTUNITY OFFENDERS
The Forward reports, “The Russian troll farm indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for interfering in the 2016 election also used its Twitter bots to boost the message of a handful of prominent anti-Muslim extremists, including right-wing Jewish activist Pamela Geller. The Russian-operated bots promoted tweets and articles by Geller, Robert Spencer and Frank Gaffney, all of whom are identified as anti-Muslim extremists by the Southern Poverty Law Center.” The Forward is careful to note, “There is no sign so far that Geller or any of the other anti-Islam activists collaborated with the Russian effort.”
From The Forward.
—–RADIO MOSCOW: STORIES FROM THEIR PRESS AND OURS—–
THEY ARE SUCH ASSHOLES, AND FOR WHAT?
The Moscow Times reports, “The mother of prominent theater director Kirill Serebrennikov has died after a long period of illness, while her son remains under house arrest.” So imagine you believe Trump really cares about you and your family, your elderly mother, this is just a reminder that his great friends in the Russian mafia state do not even care from the families of their own cultural leaders. The Moscow Times recalls, “Serebrennikov, the director of Moscow’s Gogol Center, was detained in August and placed under house arrest on charges of embezzling 68 million rubles ($1.1 million) of government funds in a case that critics argue is politically motivated.”
From The Moscow Times.
CHICAGO CULTURE VULTURES, THE EU FILM FESTIVAL IS HERE!
The Gene Siskel Film Center has posted the selections for this year’s EU Film Festival! Woo-hoo! Topping the top of every list this year should be “The Death of Stalin,” banned in Russia and Azerbaijan and probably other authoritarian places as well. Check out some flicks this March if you live here or are just passing through, and given this is sort of the Eastern European metropolis of the world, there are many, many offerings from our friends in Central and Eastern Europe, including Estonia this year. Happy viewing!
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