—–ON THE AGENDA—–
BALTIC STATES FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET WITH T REX
Estonian Public Broadcasting reports, “Foreign Minister Sven Mikser (SDE) will head to the United States during the weekend for a five-day working visit, as part of which he and the foreign ministers of Latvia and Lithuania will meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday. During the meeting the advancement of transatlantic cooperation, the security situation in Europe and the fight against terrorism will be discussed. In addition, the upcoming meeting of U.S. President Donald Trump with the presidents of the three Baltic countries in April and preparations for the [sic] NTO summit to be held in July will be talked about”. Estonian Public Broadcasting notes, “The meeting of the Baltic presidents with Trump will take place on April 3.” Estonian Public Broadcasting notes, “On Tuesday, Baltic foreign ministers will meet with Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Eliot Engel, vice chairman of the committee. In addition a meeting has been scheduled with the chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Bob Corker, and vice chairman of the committee Robert Menendez.”
TRUMP WANTS TO BE OUR FAKE PRESIDENT FOREVER
The AP reports our fake “President Donald Trump says he thinks it’s great that China’s president now holds that office for life and muses that maybe the U.S. will do the same someday. Trump’s remarks were met with laughter and applause during a luncheon for Republican donors Saturday at his South Florida estate. CNN said it obtained a recording of the remarks.” Despicable.
From the AP.
MUELLER’S HIT LIST REVEALED IN GRAND JURY SUBPOENA
Axios reports it “has reviewed a Grand Jury subpoena that Robert Mueller’s team sent to a witness last month.” According to Axios, “Mueller is subpoenaing all communications — meaning emails, texts, handwritten notes, etc. — that this witness sent and received regarding the following people,” and get ready it is quite the hit list! Carter Page, Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump, Hope Hicks, Keith Schiller, Michal Cohen, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Roger Stone and Steve Bannon rounds out the set. Axios notes, “The subpoena asks for all communications from November 1, 2015, to the present. Notably, Trump announced his campaign for president five months earlier — on June 16, 2015.” Note who isn’t mentioned; these may be our informants or cooperating witnesses. Also don’t forget to register who you think will be indicted next in this week’s TRUMPISTAN WATCH March Madness poll (results will be revealed Friday, a day TRUMPISTAN WATCH always hopes is an indictment day).
SURPRISE! MUELLER’S INVESTIGATION ALSO INCLUDES UAE ADVISOR NOW
The New York Times reports, “George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman, has hovered on the fringes of international diplomacy for three decades. He was a back-channel negotiator with Syria during the Clinton administration, reinvented himself as an adviser to the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, and last year was a frequent visitor to President Trump’s White House.” The New York Times adds, “Mr. Nader is now a focus of the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel. In recent weeks, Mr. Mueller’s investigators have questioned Mr. Nader and have pressed witnesses for information about any possible attempts by the Emiratis to buy political influence by directing money to support Mr. Trump during the presidential campaign”. The New York Times notes, “The investigators have also asked about Mr. Nader’s role in White House policymaking,” adding, “The focus on Mr. Nader could also prompt an examination of how money from multiple countries has flowed through and influenced Washington during the Trump era.” The New York Times adds, “Mr. Nader, 58, made frequent trips to the White House during the early months of the Trump administration, meeting with Stephen K. Bannon and Jared Kushner to discuss American policy toward the Persian Gulf states in advance of Mr. Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia in May 2017, according to people familiar with the meetings. By some accounts, it was Mr. Bannon who pushed for him to gain access to White House policymakers. Others said Mr. Kushner backed him.” The New York Times notes, the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, “Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater USA, the private security company now known as Academi, at one point hired Mr. Nader to help the company generate business deals in Iraq.” The Israeli press also seized on the detail that “Nader reportedly received what The New York Times described as a ‘detailed report’ from top Trump fundraiser Elliot Broidy about a private meeting in the Oval Office with the president,” as The Times of Israel reports, which notes, “Broidy, a Republican fund-raiser who is a California-based investor with a strong interest in the Middle East, owns a private security company called Circinus, with hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts with the United Arab Emirates.”
GOVERNMENT IS A WAY TO SAVE PRINCELING JARED’S REAL ESTATE EMPIRE
The Intercept reports, “The real estate firm tied to the family of presidential son-in-law and top White House adviser Jared Kushner made a direct pitch to Qatar’s minister of finance in April 2017 in an attempt to secure investment in a critically distressed asset in the company’s portfolio”. The Intercept adds, “At the previously unreported meeting, Jared Kushner’s father Charles, who runs Kushner Companies, and Qatari Finance Minister Ali Sharif Al Emadi discussed financing for the Kushners’ signature 666 Fifth Avenue property in New York City.” The meeting lasted 30 minutes, “included aides to both parties, and was held at a suite at the St. Regis Hotel in New York.” The Intercept notes, “A follow-up meeting was held the next day in a glass-walled conference room at the Kushner property itself, though Al Emadi did not attend the second gathering in person.” Bad enough? Oh, but The Intercept recalls, “The failure to broker the deal would be followed only a month later by a Middle Eastern diplomatic row in which Jared Kushner provided critical support to Qatar’s neighbors. Led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, a group of Middle Eastern countries, with Kushner’s backing, led a diplomatic assault that culminated in a blockade of Qatar. Kushner, according to reports at the time, subsequently undermined efforts by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to bring an end to the standoff.” The devil is in the details as The Intercept notes, “This was not the first time Charles Kushner solicited funds from the Qataris, but it is the first direct pitch known to be made to the minister of finance himself. Notably, the play came after Trump’s election.” The firm said they do not do deals with sovereign wealth funds (yet) but that artfully dodges the question of whether this meeting took place. Recall Qatar hosts US Central Command (CENTCOM) for the Middle East so princeling Jared really is a horrific little shithead for this because after this, there really is no reason why any country should count on us ever again.
From The Intercept.
UKRAINE’S OUSTED PREZ YANUKOVYCH SAYS HE NEVER MET MANAFORT
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “Ukraine’s ousted President Viktor Yanukovych said on March 2 that he never had a face-to-face meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump’s ex-campaign manager Paul Manafort, despite Manafort’s extensive work for his government.” Bullshit! There is simply no way this is true. After Manafort began to work for Yanukovych’s government, Yanukovych even visibly began to resemble Manafort in his choice of coif and luxury suits. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty recalls, “Manafort, 68, is accused of money laundering, tax fraud, and banking fraud connected to work he and his partner Richard Gates did for Yanukovych’s government from 2006 to 2014, when Yanukovych was ousted by pro-European Maidan street protests and fled to Russia. In an indictment issued by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Manafort is also charged with acting as a lobbyist for Yanukovych’s government without registering with the U.S. Justice Department.”
STATE DEPARTMENT SPENT ZERO FIGHTING RUSSIAN PROPAGANDA
The New York Times reports, “the State Department has yet to spend any of the $120 million it has been allocated since late 2016 to counter foreign efforts to meddle in elections or sow distrust in democracy. As a result, not one of the 23 analysts working in the department’s Global Engagement Center — which has been tasked with countering Moscow’s disinformation campaign — speaks Russian, and a department hiring freeze has hindered efforts to recruit the computer experts needed to track the Russian efforts.” Essentially, T Rex has helped the Russians to capture our foreign policy as the most useless Secretary of State in U.S. history while certainly being one of the most consequential. Of course, “Mr. Tillerson has voiced skepticism that the United States is even capable of doing anything to counter the Russian threat,” The New York Times notes, as it is exceptionally hard when you do not even try. Recall the goal of active measures is to capture the state, so foreign policy, defense and the economy.
From The New York Times.
HOUSE DEMOCRATS SEEK ANSWERS FROM ENCRYPTED MESSAGING APPS
ABC News reports, “The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee is seeking subpoenas to crack into encrypted messaging technology used by Trump associates during the 2016 campaign, the latest example of the obstacles imposed by emerging technology in the ongoing investigations in Russian election meddling.” ABC News adds, “The specific companies congressional Democrats want to question include WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal and SnapChat,” whereas members of the GOP death cult have so far been unwilling, preferring to take witnesses, each with a long track record and in some case professed tendencies to lie, at their word. A shonda for sure!
From ABC News.
COVFEFE UPSETTER: THE RETURN OF PETER STRZOK OF THE POLISEXTS
The Washington Post reports, “The FBI interviewed top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin around the holidays last winter — more than a month and a half after the politically charged investigation into Clinton’s email practices had seemed to conclude for a second time, according to people familiar with the probe. Agents were focused on how Abedin’s and Clinton’s messages ended up on a laptop used by former congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), Abedin’s estranged husband”. The Washington Post adds, “They considered their look at Clinton complete but still had questions about whether Abedin should have told them about the messages sooner”. Why is this important to the matter at hand besides the fact that every pound of flesh extracted from Trump must also be excised in return from Hillary? Well, as The Washington Post notes, “The interview is important, though, because it shows that even after the bureau had intimated publicly that its probe into Clinton was over, the FBI knew it still had work to do with one of her close aides. It is also notable for one of the people advocating it: FBI Agent Peter Strzok, a key figure in both the Clinton probe and the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, whose anti-Trump texts have come under scrutiny”. Those are the polisexts of the FBI Secret Society in case you forgot that conspiracy theory covfefe of a few months back that has cycled through far right wing media in the ensuing months. This kind of spoils that covfefe unless it was all smoke and mirrors and the Parkland kids really are crisis actors and don’t forget about Seth Rich in the parlor with the candlestick!
From The Washington Post.
FROM ROGUE STATES TO GREAT POWERS: ADJUSTING MISSILE DEFENSE
The Washington Post reports, “The Trump administration is working on an expanded U.S. missile defense policy that would address certain threats from Russia and China, departing from a previous strategy that focused nearly exclusively on rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran. The new policy will still call for bolstered technology against rogue states, with a particular focus on weapons to intercept North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s missiles. But it will also mention the need to consider missile threats from Russia and China, according to people familiar with the review.” The Washington Post notes, “The document remains in a draft form and could change before its tentative release late this month.” The Washington Post adds, “The Pentagon’s chief spokeswoman, Dana W. White, emphasized in a briefing Thursday that U.S. missile defenses aren’t trained on Russia and remain focused on rogue nations. The American military already knew about the weapons Putin referenced and stands ready to defend the United States”. The Washington Post notes, “Critics warn that these systems encourage competitors to develop more sophisticated arms, are expensive and have questionable effectiveness.”
From The Washington Post.
STATE DEPARTMENT APPROVES JAVELIN ANTITANK MISSILES TO UKRAINE
Unian Information Agency reports, “The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency has said the U.S. Department of State made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Ukraine of Javelin Missiles and Javelin Command Launch Units (CLUs) for an estimated cost of $47 million.” Unian Information Agency adds, “The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on March 1. The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region”. Unian Information Agency notes, “The prime contractors will be Raytheon/Lockheed Martin Javelin Joint Venture of Orlando, Florida and Tucson, Arizona. However, these missiles are being provided from U.S. Army stocks and the CLUs will be obtained from on-hand Special Defense Acquisition Fund (SDAF)-purchased stocks. There are no known offset agreements proposed in conjunction with this potential sale.” Sometimes thoughts and prayers or statements that begin, “The U.S. Department of State thoroughly condemns…,” are not enough, truly.
From Unian Information Agency.
SURPRISE! PUTIN’S NEW INVISIBLE SUPER NUKES ANIMATION A FAKE, TOO!
EU vs Disinfo reports, “as several of the independent media noticed, among them The Insider and Republic, the culmination point of the new video when Florida is bombed appears identical to an animation produced 11 years ago by the Russian state TV station Pervy Kanal. The old video showed the capabilities of another weapon, which was then presented as Russia’s new super weapon – a weapon President Putin in his speech on Thursday said that the new weapon would now replace.” EU vs Disinfo notes, “It is not the first time we see creative use of video footage in the pro-Kremlin propaganda”. Of course Russia still has a lot of nukes but the West has all their elites’ money and children, none of which are hostages so figure this bluster is clearly for domestic consumption. One problem: we can see it and it is ridiculous, laughable.
From EU vs Disinfo.
RUSSIA’S FAKE ANIMATION TO SHOW OFF ARMS, NOT ASK FOR ARMS RACE
Agence France Presse reports, “The Kremlin on Friday said Russia will not be part of a new arms race as the United States and NATO voiced concern over Vladimir Putin’s boasts of new ‘invincible’ weapons.” Agence France Presse recalls on Thursday, Putin used “his state of the nation address to unveil a new arsenal of hypersonic weapons and submarines less than three weeks before an election is expected to extend his rule until 2024.” Agence France Presse adds, “Putin said the weapons would render Western missile defence systems obsolete, prompting a harsh response from NATO, which insisted its systems based in Europe were not directed against Russia.” During the presentation, “Putin insisted the next generation weapons would only ever be used in self-defence, though his presentation featured video montages of missiles crossing mountains and oceans, including the Atlantic. US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel shared worries in a phone conversation over Putin’s claims, Berlin said Friday.” However, “Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected accusations Russia was violating any arms control agreements.” Agence France Presse adds, “Washington accused Moscow of breaching Cold War-era arms treaties, with a State Department spokeswoman saying it was ‘unfortunate’ to have watched a video animation that depicted a nuclear attack on the United States.” Agence France Presse notes, “Analysts said Putin — who is all but guaranteed to win a fourth Kremlin term in March 18 elections — was effectively challenging Washington to a new arms race.” Additionally, “The US State Department expressed outrage at Putin’s presentation and his ‘cheesy’ animated video of warheads over US soil — and said the Russian leader had confirmed long-held allegations about his programme.”
From Agence France Presse.
PUTIN RESPONDS TO MUELLER’S INDICTMENT OF 13 RUSSIANS
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “President Vladimir Putin said Russia won’t take action against Russians accused of meddling in the U.S. presidential election if they did not break Russian laws. In an interview with NBC News aired late on March 2, Putin said Russia has not been presented with official evidence or an extradition request from U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who last month indicted 13 Russians and three Russian companies for allegedly interfering in the 2016 election.” Surprise!
RUSSIA SAYS US BAILS ON JOINT CYBER SECURTY SCAM WITH THEM
Russian state-run Tass reports, “Washington has wrecked cybersecurity consultations with Moscow,” according to Russian ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov, who whined, “We have expressed indignation to the Department of State that the American side has wrecked Russian-American expert consultations on global information security. Earlier it was agreed to conduct them in Geneva on February 27-28. Russia’s inter-agency delegation already arrived in Switzerland. The Americans refused to participate in the event just on its first day under the pretext of absolutely ungrounded accusations against Russia”. Oh poor babies! There won’t be a follow up on “March 6-7 in Vienna” either according to our great friends in the fascist Russian mafia state. Tough.
From Russian state-run Tass.
HACK OF GERMANY PART OF RUSSIAN WORLDWIDE CAMPAIGN
Reuters reports, “A powerful cyber attack on Germany’s government computer network was part of a worldwide campaign likely carried out by a Russian hacker group known as Snake, sources briefed on the incident said on Friday. Germany’s chief federal prosecutor’s office said it had launched a preliminary investigation into possible espionage related to the incident, which security sources said was first detected in December but may have begun much earlier.” Reuters adds, “German media had initially reported the attack was launched by the Russian hacker group APT28, which Western governments and intelligence agencies have also blamed for a 2015 breach of the German lower house of parliament and the Democratic National Committee ahead of the 2016 U.S. election. But sources familiar with the incident now say it involved malicious software known as Snake or Turla, that is has been linked to a Russian government agency of the same name.”
THIS IS HOW RELIABLE RUSSIA IS AS AN ENERGY PARTNER
Reuters reports, “Russia’s Gazprom (GAZP.MM) said on Friday it would terminate its gas contracts with Ukraine after it lost a court case, escalating a dispute which has left Ukraine struggling to stay warm and which the EU said could threaten gas flows to Europe.” Reuters adds, “A Stockholm arbitration court ordered Gazprom this week to pay more than $2.5 billion to Ukrainian energy firm Naftogaz – a ruling meant to conclude a long legal battle that has run alongside Ukraine’s broader political stand-off with Russia. But after the court decision, Gazprom did not restart gas supplies to Ukraine as expected on Thursday, forcing Kiev to take emergency measures to make up for the shortfall and warn that transit flows to Europe were at risk.” Reuters notes, “To make up for the lack of supplies from Russia, Kiev has suspended lessons at schools, universities and kindergartens until next week, switched power stations from gas to fuel oil and bought extra gas from Poland.”
OLEG DERIPASKA + VIKTOR VEKSELBERG GRANTED CYPRIOT PASSPORTS
The Guardian reports, “The Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska has bought a Cypriot passport under a controversial scheme that allows rich investors to acquire citizenship and visa-free access to the European Union.” The Guardian notes, “Deripaska, an aluminium magnate with connections to Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, is one of hundreds of wealthy individuals who have applied for Cypriot nationality. His application was approved last year. The revelations will revive concern about oligarchs with Kremlin connections buying EU passports.” The Guardian adds, “The island also offered citizenship to Viktor Vekselberg a major shareholder in the Bank of Cyprus, the country’s biggest bank, documents show. Vekselberg appears to have turned the offer down. His spokesman said he only had Russian citizenship.” The Guardian notes, “The Cypriot documents seen by the Guardian and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) show that Deripaska’s first attempt to become a Cypriot citizen was unsuccessful.” The Guardian adds, “Cyprus has been accused of failing to vet passport candidates vigorously enough, heightening concerns in EU circles about people being able to buy EU citizenship. On this occasion, however, Deripaska was asked to resubmit his case because of a preliminary inquiry into his affairs in Belgium. The inquiry was subsequently dropped in 2016.” The Guardian reports, “Leaked documents show that the Cypriot ‘golden visa’ scheme remains a lucrative source of revenue for the island, generating at least €4.8bn (£4.3bn). Cyprus has given citizenship to 1,685 ‘foreign investors’ since 2008 – many from the former Soviet Union, and from China, Iran and Saudi Arabia – and 1,651 members of their families,” and adds, “The fresh trove of scheme beneficiaries obtained by the Guardian and the OCCRP confirms the extent to which Cyprus’s citizen-by-investment programme has become a main avenue for Russian oligarchs who wish to get a European passport.”
From The Guardian.
MAN DETAINED IN GERMANY OVER RUSSIAN EMBASSY ARGENTINA COKE
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “A man the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) claims was behind an alleged attempt to smuggle nearly 400 kilograms of cocaine from Argentina to Moscow has been detained in Germany, his lawyer and police said. Andrei Kovalchuk’s lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, said on March 2 that his client was detained on the outskirts of Berlin on March 1, and German police confirmed that he was detained.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty adds, “Russia has requested Kovalchuk’s extradition and the process could take several weeks, the Interfax news agency quoted the spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Berlin, Denis Mikerin”. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty notes, “Russian authorities say Kovalchuk is the main suspect in a bizarre case involving 16 pieces of luggage that officials in Argentina and Russia say were packed with more than $60 million worth of cocaine and left in a storage area at the Russian Embassy school in Buenos Aires.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty adds, “The FSB has said that three suspects have been detained in Russia and two in Argentina as a result of what both countries said was a joint operation, while the alleged mastermind — later identified as Kovalchuk, a former technical worker at the Russian Embassy in Argentina who lives in Germany — was wanted under an international arrest warrant.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “Kovalchuk’s lawyer, Zherebenkov, said on February 27 that his client had left his suitcases at the embassy in 2016 and they contained coffee, some alcohol, and other items — but no cocaine. On February 28, Russian state and independent media outlets quoted Zherebenkov as claiming that the operation was a provocation conducted by the U.S. intelligence services and Argentinian police in an attempt to discredit the Russian Embassy.” The Guardian adds, “Kovalchuk, who is reported to live in Hamburg, was arrested on Thursday, said Zherebenkov, who on Friday confirmed that Kovalchuk was opposing his extradition to Russia on drug charges, adding that conditions in German prisons were better than those in Russia.”
SUPER HUGE SUPER FAKE SHOW OF POPULAR SUPPORT FOR PUTIN
The Guardian reports, “Standing beside Putin were celebrities and sports stars, including members of Russia’s men’s ice hockey team fresh from their triumph at the Winter Olympics. At Putin’s bidding, they burst into a rendition of Russia’s national anthem. Police said 80,000 people were present, with another 50,000 watching on big screens outside the stadium. It was, on the face of it, a perfect demonstration of popular support for Putin,” however, “Multiple reports before Saturday’s rally indicated that tens of thousands of Russians had been strongarmed into attending the event. University students, state employees, and workers at private companies were among those who came under pressure, according to opposition websites and social media posts,” The Guardian adds, noting, “Others were paid to attend.” The Guardian notes, “‘Men and women. 20-55 years old. March 3rd, rally/concert “For a Strong Russia” in support of Vladimir Putin. Payment 500 roubles [£6],’ read an announcement posted on Tuesday on a popular ‘rent-a-crowd’ website.” The Guardian adds, “There was no lack of genuine Putin supporters, however. Activists from the National Liberation Movement, an ultra-nationalist group, were highly visible both around the stadium and on the snow-caked streets outside.”
From The Guardian.
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
TRUMP SPENT 100TH DAY ON THE GOLF COURSE SINCE TAKING OFFICE
The New York Post reports a truly special anniversary occasion indeed as “Saturday was the 100th day he’s spent at one of his golf clubs since he took office”! If only there were a kitschy plate or coin to commemorate the occasion! As The New York Post notes, “Once a virulent critic of presidential golfing, Trump mulliganed on the issue when he took office. He visited one of golf clubs on nearly a quarter of the days he’s been president. His visits have been limited to four golf clubs, all of which he owns: Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, FL.; Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, FL.; Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, VA; and Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ”. America first! Forever fake!
From The New York Post.
THE SEC EXISTS TO LOOK THE OTHER WAY ON THE TRUMPISTAN ELITES
CNBC reports, “The Securities and Exchange Commission late last year dropped its inquiry into a financial company that a month earlier had given White House adviser Jared Kushner’s family real estate firm a $180 million loan. While there’s no evidence that Kushner or any other Trump administration official had a role in the agency’s decision to drop the inquiry into Apollo Global Management, the timing has once again raised potential conflict-of-interest questions about Kushner’s family business and his role as an adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump.” Must be another coincidence and if not that than certainly a hoax! But the details! CNBC notes, “The SEC detail comes a day after The New York Times reported that Apollo’s loan to the Kushner Cos. followed several meetings at the White House with Kushner.” Surprise!
TRUMPISTANI ELITE KICKS OFF TRADE WAR WITH A WINDFALL
Think Progress reports, “Billionaire investor and longtime Trump confidant Carl Icahn dumped $31.3 million of stock in a company heavily dependent on steel last week, just days before Trump announced plans to impose steep tariffs on steel imports.” Think Progress adds, “In a little-noticed SEC filing submitted on February 22, 2018, Icahn disclosed that he systematically sold off nearly 1 million shares of Manitowoc Company Inc. Manitowoc is a ‘is a leading global manufacturer of cranes and lifting solutions’ and, therefore, heavily dependent on steel to make its products.” Of course, “The filing came just seven days before a White House event where Trump announced his intention of imposing a 25 percent tariff on steel imports.” This is pretty much kleptocracy 101, 202 involves embezzling state funds but at this rate, that’s probably already happening! Of note, “Icahn resigned in August, in advance of a New Yorker article which detailed how he used his position in the White House and his connection to Trump to protect his investments,” Think Progress adds, which when coupled with this news item tells us the resignation was on paper only. Welcome to Trumpistan, how much will the Trumpistani elites steal from the taxpayer today?
From Think Progress.
ET TU, REP. ANDY HARRIS OF MARYLAND?
The Baltimore Sun reports, “Residents of Maryland’s 1st Congressional District might wonder why their representative, the conservative Republican Andy Harris, would support a European political leader who wants to turn what remains of his country’s once-promising post-Soviet democracy into something like Vladimir Putin’s Russia.” The Baltimore Sun asks, “why would Andy Harris feel a need to defend Viktor Orban, the autocratic ruler of Hungary, who, in 2014, famously pledged to turn his country into an ‘illiberal democracy,’ like Russia, by centralizing power, controlling the news media, and cracking down on academic freedom and dissent?” The Baltimore Sun notes, “it seems weird to hear Andy Harris cry foul at a State Department effort to encourage press freedom there. Doubly weird given that Harris’ Hungarian-born father spent two years in a Soviet gulag for his anti-communist views.” The Baltimore Sun adds, “In a post on his web site in January, Harris wrote: ‘Given the outcry over alleged Russian interference in the last U.S. presidential election, it’s a wonder more people on Capitol Hill are not up in arms over efforts by the United States government to underwrite active measures to influence the outcome of the upcoming parliamentary elections in Hungary.’ Harris decried the fact that the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor had offered $700,000 in grants to fund independent news organizations outside of Budapest, Hungary’s capital. The grants are aimed at helping media outlets ‘produce fact-based reporting and … increase citizens’ access to objective information about domestic and global issues of public importance.’ Once granted, the U.S. funds will not be available until after the Hungarian elections in April.” The Baltimore Sun wryly notes, “That sounds like a far cry from what Russian operatives are accused of doing in the 2016 U.S. elections.” Less you have any idea that Orban’s Hungary resembles what the death cult GOP wishes to deconstruct our republic into ashes to become, Harris “also calls Hungary ‘a vibrant democratic state.’” In doing so, he fails his history test.
From The Baltimore Sun.
RECALL: RUSSIAN MISSILES WERE ALWAYS DESIGNED TO HIT THE US
The Washington Post reports, “Russian President Vladimir Putin used an annual speech this week to make bold claims about ‘invincible’ new Russian weapons that could easily overcome U.S. missile defenses. Among the weapons Putin said had been successfully tested was a cruise missile with a nuclear-propulsion engine — a weapon that would fly at a low altitude and follow an unpredictable flight path to avoid U.S. missile defense systems.” The Washington Post adds, “if Putin’s claims are accurate, they represent a step forward in missile technology that existing U.S. missile systems would be unable to match. There’s another important detail here, however: U.S. missile defense systems are almost certainly no match for existing Russian missiles, either.” The Washington Post notes, “Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association, said that Russia would have ‘no problem whatsoever’ overcoming U.S. missile defenses with its existing weapons. As such, Putin’s shiny new weapons don’t necessarily change the core strategic balance with the United States.” Reassuring!
From The Washington Post.
NO IMAGES OF T REX ON HORSEBACK FOR THE TRUMPISTANI PEOPLE
The Los Angeles Times reports, “The cameras were in place. The horses were saddled up. But two minutes before Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived at the Wesley ranch in the breathtaking Argentine Patagonia, reporters and photographers were abruptly hustled away and told they would not be allowed to document the diplomat on horseback.” We the American people feel so deprived, or is it depraved at this point? The Los Angeles Times notes, “Tillerson’s horse ride into the Nahuel Huapi national park had been seen as the highlight of his visit to this gorgeous piece of Argentina during a seven-day, five-nation diplomatic tour of Latin America. But you won’t see pictures of it.” The explanation? The Los Angeles Times reports, “Steven Goldstein, the State Department’s undersecretary for public diplomacy, said Tillerson, a Texas rancher and former CEO of Exxon Mobil, considered the horse ride to be a ‘private moment.’ Yet it was a moment that had been included in the official press schedule, and reporters were escorted to the stables by State Department personnel.” The Los Angeles Times adds, “Goldstein said Tillerson paid out of his own pocket to rent Zorzal, a large white steed. ‘He wanted to ride a horse for 25 minutes on his own,’ Goldstein added. On his own, with a mounted posse of Secret Service agents in tow.” If we did have photos and T Rex was shirtless in them, we could do a side by side who wore it better with Putin. That would have been maximum covfefe. Instead, we get nothing. We are depraved! And deprived!
From The Los Angeles Times.
CHECK YOUR SOUP + SALAD FOR RUSSIAN TROLLS À LA AL QAEDA
The AP reports, “One tried his hand at standup comedy. Another wrote a psychological dissertation about loneliness among the elderly. A third, from eastern Siberia, studied economics and wildlife management, and was known to his work colleagues by the unlikely nickname of ‘Jay Z.’” The AP adds, “They are among the 13 Russians indicted by a grand jury in Washington in a sweeping conspiracy to defraud the United States and its political system, including the 2016 presidential election, via bogus social media posts and other ‘information warfare.’ The indictment said they sought to support the campaign of Donald Trump and disparaged Hillary Clinton. The 13 Russians, most of them in their 20s, worked in St. Petersburg at what was known by the nondescript name of the Internet Research Agency, which has since become known as the ‘troll factory.’” The AP notes, “Those employed by the agency have either ignored or refused requests for interviews, but friends, colleagues, open source materials and media reports portray a group of bright men and women in their 20s who were eager to build their careers without worrying too much about the nature of their work.” The AP continues, “Yevgenia Kotlyar, who has been investigating the agency since last year for independent Dozhd TV, believes that a lot of the trolls saw it as an easy way to earn money.” Kotlyar evokes a familiar refrain, “It was business and nothing personal.” As for the leadership, “The indictment identified Mikhail Bystrov, its general director, as the agency’s highest-ranking official, while Mikhail Burchik was executive director, its No. 2, in charge of operational planning of its U.S. activities. Russian media said Bystrov dealt with organizational issues and Burchik was its de facto chief of the operation, located in an inconspicuous office on the northern edge of the city. A 31-year-old tech entrepreneur, Burchik owned several companies, including the Commercial News Agency, which was dissolved in December 2017. According to public records, Burchik received several state contracts, including one in 2015 worth just over 1.3 million rubles ($23,000) for the distributing a local newspaper in St. Petersburg,” the AP adds, recalling, “Robert and Maria Bovda worked as top translators for the agency between November 2013 and October 2014. According to the indictment, Maria was chief of the agency’s ‘translator project,’ the core unit for the U.S. operations, and Robert served as her deputy.” The AP notes, “In social media photos posted by Robert Bovda, they are shown smiling and drinking beer on vacation in Crimea. Maria Bovda sports dreadlocks, while Robert posts about his love of music and memes. Their relationship is not clear. Robert’s former professor, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, confirmed that he studied at St. Petersburg State University, specializing in the psychology of crisis and wrote a dissertation about the loneliness and dependency of the elderly,” and, “Maria told RBC that she worked at the agency but denied meddling in the U.S. election.”
From the AP.
MEDUZA, RUSSIAN NEWS IN EXILE
Nieman Lab at Harvard University reports on the Meduza news outlet, “The Riga-based news outlet — founded in 2014 by a group of Russian journalists pushed out from another popular Russian news site Lenta.ru and left largely alone by the Latvian government — has been translating some of its work into English since February 2015.” Nieman Lab adds, “Its main Russian site gets around 10 million monthly unique visitors — 55 percent of whom are under age 35 — and it estimates its five-month-old podcasting effort has accumulated 650,000 listens. The English-language site, which carefully curates and translates the reporting from the Russian side, gets an average of 100,000 monthly unique visitors, though big stories can sometimes bump a certain month to around half a million visitors”. Nieman Lab notes, “Meduza has around 45 staffers and a large network of freelancers around Russia reporting stories,” and, “A succinct morning English email newsletter has attracted around 5,500 subscribers”.
—–TOWARDS A PEACEFUL NUCLEAR EXCHANGE—–
NAMING RUSSIA FAKE SUPER MEGA INVINCIBLE GO ANYWHERE NUKES
The Moscow Times reports, “Viewers may have been too distracted by splashy infographics and animated warheads to notice a naming contest that Russian President Vladimir Putin had announced for his new advanced nuclear weapons. The online competition to name an unlimited-range nuclear-powered cruise missile, a nuclear-propelled underwater drone and a combat laser weapon was launched after Putin delivered his two-hour speech on Thursday.” Less you have any doubt his super weapons claim was to supplement actual real nationalism based on any real values of national pride in how a nation treats its citizens, “Loyal fans sprang into action, with suggestions on the Russian Defense Ministry’s Facebook page ranging from the patriotic ‘Palmyra,’ ‘Slavyanka,’ and ‘Kremlin’s Hand’ to the ironic ‘Peace Envoy,’ ‘Boomerang,’ ‘She Drowned’ and ‘Goodbye America.’” Grab your barf bucket as The Moscow Times notes, “The editor in chief of the pro-Kremlin RT news network Margarita Simonyan was among the first high-profile figures to suggest naming the cruise missile “Volodya,” a shorthand for “Vladimir,” in honor of Putin.” Yeah, barf.
From The Moscow Times.
—–RADIO MOSCOW: STORIES FROM THEIR PRESS AND OURS—–
“ICARUS” ABOUT RUSSIAN OLYMPIC DOPING WINS AN OSCAR
ESPN reports, “The Bryan Fogel-Dan Cogan film ‘Icarus,’ which helped expose Russia’s widespread doping of its athletes, won the Oscar for Best Documentary on Sunday night. The documentary, distributed by Netflix, began with the premise of Fogel, an amateur cyclist, out to prove how easy it is to beat a drug test. But along the way, he met the then-director of the Moscow anti-doping lab, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, and stumbled upon one of the biggest scandals in sports history.” ESPN recalls, “Ultimately, more than 1,000 athletes across 30 sports were implicated in Russia’s state-sponsored doping program. Russian track and field athletes were barred from competing at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016, and 111 winter athletes were ruled ineligible for the recently completed Pyeongchang Winter Games. Others had medals and results stripped.” ESPN notes, “In the course of making ‘Icarus,’ two of Rodchenkov’s colleagues died under mysterious circumstances, and Rodchenkov — who oversaw doping protocols and test sample tampering at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games — fled to the United States.” ESPN adds, “Rodchenkov first told his story to The New York Times in May 2016. He said he remains in fear of his life and under the protection of the U.S. Department of Justice.”
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