—–ON THE AGENDA—–
STAGE MANAGED MEDIA BEFORE FURTHER ASSAULTS ON RULE OF LAW
CNN reports, “The Trump administration will now brief a bipartisan group of lawmakers in addition to two key House Republicans on a confidential intelligence source in the Russia investigation, after initially scheduling a briefing only for the pair of GOP congressmen.” CNN adds, “The Justice Department announced Wednesday evening that it will hold back-to-back meetings on Thursday, one for House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes and Oversight Chair Trey Gowdy and another immediately after for the bipartisan ‘Gang of Eight’ and Gowdy.” This was a confusing mess as yesterday throughout the day things changed and may yet. If you are unfamiliar, “The ‘Gang of Eight’ consists of the top Republican and Democratic members of the House and Senate intelligence committee as well as congressional leaders from both parties.” CNN notes, “The schedule change occurred following sharp criticism from Democrats that the White House was politicizing intelligence by initially offering the briefing only to Republicans. The White House had announced shortly before the bipartisan meeting was scheduled that they were working on holding a briefing for the ‘Gang of Eight’ before the Memorial Day recess. Hours earlier, the White House had said that the briefing for the ‘Gang of Eight’ would happen next month.” The current schedule according to CNN is, “Nunes and Gowdy are scheduled to meet at noon with White House chief of staff John Kelly, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Chris Wray and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. Then at 2 p.m., the Gang of Eight, plus Gowdy, will meet with the same administration officials.”
FOREIGN MEDIA TAKE TRAIN FOR NORTH KOREA’S DENUCLEARIZING SHOW
The AP reports, “A group of foreign journalists departed by train Wednesday to watch the dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear test site after eight reporters from South Korea received last-minute permission to join them. The remote site deep in the mountains of the North’s sparsely populated northeast interior is expected to have a formal closing ceremony in the next day or two, depending on the weather. The closing was announced by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ahead of his planned summit with U.S. President Donald Trump next month.” The AP notes, “The train trip was expected to take 8-12 hours, followed by several hours on a bus and then an hour hike to the site itself. The journalists were put in sleeping cars on the train, four bunks to a compartment. The compartments had windows covered with blinds, and the journalists were told not to open the blinds during the journey,” which notes, “Media were also expected to pay their own costs for the trip. The train fare was $75 per person round trip. Each meal was $20.” The AP adds, “The group includes an Associated Press Television crew.” CNN reported the spectacle happened this morning, noting, “There were no international experts in the invited group and no one was present who was able to assess the explosions in order to tell if they were deep enough to destroy the tunnels.”
“SPYGATE” IS JUST ANOTHER WORD FOR NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE
CNN reports, “Former FBI Director James Comey pushed back on President Donald Trump’s spying claims on Wednesday, warning that attacking the FBI ‘will do lasting damage to our country.’” On honey, we are there and the country is a long way gone. CNN adds, “the former FBI director wrote, ‘Facts matter. The FBI’s use of Confidential Human Sources (the actual term) is tightly regulated and essential to protecting the country. Attacks on the FBI and lying about its work will do lasting damage to our country. How will Republicans explain this to their grandchildren?’” TRUMPISTAN WATCH finds the supposition that we will all live to see our grandchildren delightfully optimistic. CNN notes, “In a second tweet on Wednesday, Comey called on the American public to ‘seek truth.’” People seem to prefer the scams and reinforcement of their own beliefs, though. CNN adds, “The comments from Comey, who was abruptly fired by the President last year, come after Trump questioned whether the FBI placed ‘spies’ in his campaign.” CNN notes, “a confidential intelligence source was not planted inside the campaign to provide information.” Now try telling that to the American media! Among U.S. news organization using the term “SPYGATE” from Trump’s tweet shamefully in their headlines with little to no clarification that it is bullshit: the AP, CBS News, Fox News, Newsweek, NBC News, NPR, PBS NewsHour, POLITICO, TIME, USA Today, Voice of America, The Washington Examiner, The Washington Post and Yahoo! News. So pretty much all of them. You know what other outlet used it in such a way? Russian state-run RT. This is how propaganda works, and very effectively, too! All these outlets should be deeply ashamed, if there were such a thing anymore, for participating in the scam. Instead they will probably all get Pulitzers because nothing means anything anymore anyways.
BALLER DEPUTY AG ROSENSTEIN APPEARS WITH TRUMP AT PUBLIC EVENT
NBC News reports, “Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says he’s not a fan of ‘piling on’ — especially when he’s the one at the bottom of the heap. Rosenstein, a frequent target of President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans because he oversees special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, was discussing a recently announced Justice Department policy that encourages coordination between law enforcement”. But in the real news buried in this story, NBC News notes, “On Tuesday, Trump barked, ‘Next question, please,’ to a reporter after he was asked if he had confidence in Rosenstein. And on Wednesday morning, Trump, despite talking at length about other topics, wouldn’t answer repeated questions about his confidence in his deputy attorney general. There was no animosity on display later in the day, however, when Rosenstein accompanied Trump to a roundtable about gang activity and immigration in Long Island, N.Y. Rosenstein spoke at the event for several moments about MS-13 and how the Justice Department had tried to dismantle the gang. When Rosenstein finished talking, Trump praised him.”
From NBC News.
NO HOPE: CLOWN PRINCELING JARED’S SECURITY CLEARANCE RESTORED
CNN reports, “President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, had his White House security clearance restored Wednesday, a person familiar with the matter said, after months of uncertainty stemming in part from his role in the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.” No matter what informal arrangements were in place during his period of hiatus and what classified information he likely had access to, this represents a severe rupture in procedure that renders it essentially useless if someone so corrupt and unnecessary as the clown princeling Jared can have access to vital national security secrets. Anything can happen now.
MICHAEL COHEN IS A VERY CHEAP WHORE: UKRAINE EDITION
BBC News reports, “Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, received a secret payment of at least $400,000 (£300,000) to fix talks between the Ukrainian president and President Trump”. Did you imagine those Javelins sent to Ukraine recently materialized out of nothing? Accept by now that anyone who gets anything from this regime has tipped into the coffers and only Michael Cohen’s secrets are spilling into the public for now. BBC News notes, “The payment was arranged by intermediaries acting for Ukraine’s leader, Petro Poroshenko, the sources said, though Mr Cohen was not registered as a representative of Ukraine as required by US law.” BBC News adds, “The meeting at the White House was last June. Shortly after the Ukrainian president returned home, his country’s anti-corruption agency stopped its investigation into Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort.” BBC News continues, “A high-ranking Ukrainian intelligence officer in Mr Poroshenko’s administration described what happened before the visit to the White House. Mr Cohen was brought in, he said, because Ukraine’s registered lobbyists and embassy in Washington DC could get Mr Poroshenko little more than a brief photo-op with Mr Trump. Mr Poroshenko needed something that could be portrayed as ‘talks’. This senior official’s account is as follows – Mr Poroshenko decided to establish a back channel to Mr Trump. The task was given to a former aide, who asked a loyal Ukrainian MP for help.” BBC News adds, “He in turn used personal contacts who attended a Jewish charity in New York state, Chabad of Port Washington. (A spokeman for the Chabad has asked us to make clear that officials there were not involved.) This eventually led to Michael Cohen, the president’s lawyer and trusted fixer. Mr Cohen was paid $400,000.” BBC News notes, “A second source in Kiev gave the same details, except that the total paid to Mr Cohen was $600,000.” Either way, look at how cheap our foreign policy is going for! Pennies on the billions! Total wholesale liquidation! It’s like the 1990s in Russia!
From BBC News.
NOW THAT POMPEO IS AT STATE THERE IS NO MORE DEEP STATE THERE
The Hill reports, “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday rejected the possibility of a ‘deep state’ existing at the State Department, following President Trump’s latest claim that there is a group of employees in federal government working to undermine his administration.” That’s nice. The Hill adds, “‘I don’t believe there is a deep state at the State Department,’ Pompeo said during a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “ CNN adds, “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the US has a ‘great deal more work to do’ to safeguard the integrity of American elections ahead of the upcoming 2018 midterms.” What work? What safeguards? What bullshit!
EX-US ATTORNEYS URGE CONFIRMATION OF FORMER ALFA BANK LAWYER
The Hill reports, “A group of more than a dozen former U.S. attorneys from both the Bush and Obama administrations on Wednesday urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to confirm President Trump’s nominee to lead the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. Brian Benczkowski’s nomination has been stalled for months, with Democrats raising questions about his work for a Russian bank,” Alfa Bank, “that has faced scrutiny in the federal investigation into 2016 election meddling.” The Hill notes, “in the letter sent to Judiciary Committee leaders Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the former U.S. attorneys praise Benczkowski’s ‘temperament, integrity, and experience.’”
From The Hill.
FBI LAUNCHED OPERATION TO TAKE DOWN RUSSIAN BOTNET
BuzzFeed News reports, “US and Russian intelligence agencies are currently battling for control of a botnet of more than half a million hacked home and office network routers. On Wednesday morning, Cisco’s cybersecurity research arm announced that at least 500,000 routers — spread across 54 countries, though the vast majority are in Ukraine — had been infected with malicious software by the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency”. BuzzFeed notes, “Dubbed VPNFilter, the program is sophisticated, and gives whoever controls the botnet a number of abilities over compromised routers. That includes the capability to monitor internet traffic that comes through the router, to send that information back to the Russian government via the Tor network, and to render the router itself unusable if necessary.” BuzzFeed adds, “But sometime before 9 a.m. Wednesday, the FBI took a major step to disrupt the botnet by getting a warrant to seize the domain the VPNFilter-affected devices would reach out to, thereby halting the process by which an infected router gets new instructions, according to a source familiar with the operation. The Department of Justice announced the operation Wednesday night.”
From BuzzFeed News.
US CAN’T RID GOVERNMENT COMPUTERS OF KASPERSKY MALWARE
The Daily Beast reports, “Federal agencies are so far unable to comply with a law banning Kaspersky Lab software from U.S. government networks by October”. Surprise! The Daily Beast adds, “Multiple divisions of the U.S. government are confronting the reality that code written by the Moscow-based security company is embedded deep within American infrastructure, in routers, firewalls, and other hardware—and nobody is certain how to get rid of it.” Again, the empire has no security. (See more on Kaspersky in today’s “KNOW YOUR ENEMY”.)
From The Daily Beast.
ATLANTIC COUNCIL CONDEMNED FOR HOSTING ALFA GROUP OLIGARCHS
Voice of America reports, “A dozen prominent anti-Kremlin thinkers and activists have published an open letter condemning a major Washington research organization for hosting an off-the-record round-table dinner for two oligarchs listed on a U.S. Treasury-issued registry of 210 wealthy Russians identified as close to President Vladimir Putin. The Atlantic Council, which hosted Pyotr Aven and Mikhail Fridman, principals of the U.S.-sanctioned Alfa Group, published the condemnatory letter on its website before the private dinner Monday, which was internally billed as ‘an outlook for the Russian economy in an era of escalating sanctions.’” Voice of America adds, “The open letter criticizing the Atlantic Council, co-signed by major Kremlin detractors such as former world chess champion Garry Kasparov and prominent scholars Andrei Piontkovsky and Sarah Chayes, was published in tandem with an Atlantic Council response, in which it defended its decision. The council said that ‘in order to do our work well — in this case concerning Russia — we need the best information and the best networks possible.’” Voice of America notes, “The critics, while crediting the Atlantic Council’s agreement to publish their letter of protest, and recognizing the value of dialogue ‘even with one’s adversaries,’ insisted the format of the meeting represented an ethical breach.” Voice of America adds, “Both men are named in the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, the U.S. law tied to allegations of Kremlin interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. Event moderator Anders Aslund, resident senior fellow of the group’s Eurasia Center, organized the talk. He described Aven and Fridman as ‘old friends’ with whom he routinely meets.” Was this wishful thinking or too polite of a comment given to Voice of America’s Russia service?
From Voice of America.
MATTIS DELIVERS AIR FORCE ACADEMY COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS
The Washington Examiner reports, “Defense Secretary Jim Mattis delivered a rousing commencement speech Wednesday to a group of 984 Air Force Academy graduates in Colorado, telling them to ‘hold the line’ in protecting the U.S.” Not so subtle there is it. He previously made such remarks in Jordan while visiting U.S. troops stationed there. The Washington Examiner adds, “‘You now stand ready to hold the line, to protect America’s experiment in democracy with all the cunning, ferocity and grit you have inside of you,’ Mattis said.” The Denver Post notes Mattis acknowledged present realities in his way as, “Mattis said he has been pushing the Pentagon to look ahead of the wars it’s fighting and to figure out how to adapt to the changing character of war, whether it’s in outer space or cyber space. ‘As we say in the Department of Defense, our enemies get a vote,’ Mattis said.”
MARINE CORPS MOVED TANKS FROM NORWAY TO FINLAND
The Marine Corps Times reports, “In preparation for a looming fight with Russia, for the first time the Corps temporarily moved some of its M1A1 Abrams tanks holed up in secret caves in Norway to Finland. It was for a large-scale annual training exercise featuring mechanized units known as Arrow 18, and it was the first time the Corps and its Abrams tanks have ever participated in the evolution, which took place from May 7-18.” The Marine Corps Times notes, “The exercise involved only 30 Marines with nearly 5,000 Finnish soldiers, roughly 150 armored vehicles and 300 other military vehicles — a substantial display of firepower and deterrence flaunted not far from the Russian border. But the Corps pulled out all the stops by moving its main battle tank from a series of secret cave complexes in Norway — a Cold War era storage program designed to rapidly equip Marines for a fight with Russia — to Pojankangas Training Area near Kankaanpaa, Finland for the exercise.” The Marine Corps Times recalls, “Currently, Finland is a nonaligned country with NATO. But the country has been seeking closer defense ties with the U.S. ever since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014.”
From The Marine Corps Times.
RUSSIAN SUB TESTFIRES FOUR INTERCONTINENTAL MISSILES
The AP reports, “A Russian nuclear-powered submarine successfully test-fired four intercontinental ballistic missiles on Tuesday, the navy said. The navy said the submarine, named Yuri Dolgoruky after the medieval prince who founded Moscow, launched the Bulava missiles in a single salvo from a submerged position in the White Sea. The navy said the mock warheads the missiles carried reached their practice targets on the opposite side of Russia — the Kura shooting range on the far eastern Kamchatka Peninsula.” The AP adds, “The exercise marked the first simultaneous launch of four Bulava missiles, which can carry multiple nuclear warheads and has a range of up to 9,300 kilometers (about 5,770 miles.)” The AP notes, “The Yuri Dolgoruky is one of the three new Borei-class submarines the Russian navy has. Another five such submarines are under construction to gradually replace some of the older Soviet-built ones.”
From the AP.
INVESTIGATORS FINGER RUSSIAN MILITARY IN MALAYSIAN JET DOWNING
The Guardian reports, “An international team of investigators say they have uncovered hard evidence that a Russian military missile system fired the missile that shot down flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014.” The Guardian notes, “In 2016, investigators announced they had evidence that the BUK system involved in the incident had crossed the border into eastern Ukraine from Russia and returned after the plane had been shot down.” The Guardian adds, “At a press conference in The Hague on Thursday, the investigators showed photo and video evidence they said proved that they had identified the specific BUK system responsible for shooting down the plane. They said they had ‘legal and convincing evidence which will stand in a courtroom’ that the BUK system involved came from the 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade based in Kursk in western Russia. For the first time, the investigators appeared to confirm that the Russian military was complicit in the downing of the plane, at the very least by providing the missile system used.”
From The Guardian.
GAZPROM AVOIDS EUROPEAN ANTITRUST FINE
Reuters reports, “Russian gas giant Gazprom clinched a deal with EU antitrust regulators on Thursday to reform its pricing structure and allow rivals a foothold in eastern Europe, avoiding fines in a case that has dragged on for seven years.” Reuters notes, “The EU’s decision to accept Gazprom’s offer has allowed it to escape fines of as much as 10 percent of its global turnover – an outcome that has angered Poland and other eastern EU countries which have sought a tougher line from Brussels.” Reuters adds, “Under the deal, the Russian gas export monopoly will tie its prices to benchmarks such as western European gas market hubs and border prices in France, Germany and Italy, scrapping its old system of linking them to oil prices. It will also allow price reviews every two years.”
VTB BANK CHIEF SAYS NOT LENDING TO DERIPASKA, WARNS OF WWIII
CNBC reports, “Diplomatic tensions and the ‘aggressive policy’ of the U.S. toward Moscow are of more concern than economic sanctions, the president and chairman of one of Russia’s largest lenders said Tuesday. ‘What concerns me more than any economic sanctions, that for the first time since the Cuban (missile) crisis — people, at least in Russia and probably in America also, have started to feel that there is more danger of World War III,’ Andrei Kostin, the president and chairman of Russia’s VTB Bank told CNBC’s Geoff Cutmore in Moscow.” CNBC notes, “Kostin said the most recent sanctions, which essentially prohibit him from doing business with U.S. entities and citizens or travel to the country, had so far not affected his daily life.” Kostin also said in the interview that VTB Bank is not lending new money to Oleg Deripaska, but that could very well just be talk, not reality. However Reuters reports, “The CEO of Russia’s VTB Bank (VTBR.MM), Andrey Kostin, said on Wednesday the bank was ready to give aluminium producer Rusal more time to make repayments on its loans,” citing Russian state-run Tass.
RUSAL CEO, BOARD MEMBERS QUIT IN BID TO EVADE US SANCTIONS
The Wall Street Journal reports, “Russian aluminum giant United Co. Rusal on Thursday said Chief Executive Alexandra Bouriko and seven board members resigned in an effort to help the company escape the Trump administration’s sanctions program.”
From The Wall Street Journal.
YULIA SKRIPAL SPEAKS OUT FOR FIRST TIME FOLLOWING POISONING
Reuters reports, “Yulia Skripal survived an assassination attempt that UK authorities blame on Russia. But the daughter of one of Russia’s most famous spies says she wants to return to her country ‘in the longer term’, despite the poisoning.” Skripal told Reuters, “My life has been turned upside down.” Reuters notes, “Skripal was speaking from a secret location in London as she is under the protection of the British state.” She released a written statement in English.
NAVALNY’S SPOKESPERSON SENTENCED TO 25 DAYS IN JAIL
Meduza reports, “Moscow’s Tverskoi District Court has sentenced Alexey Navalny’s spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, to 25 days in jail for helping him promote unpermitted anti-Putin rallies on May 5.”
YOU SEND ME
CNN reports, “Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office appears ready to send George Papadopoulos to his sentencing and may be done using his help in the Russia probe, according to a court filing Wednesday. A filing by prosecutors from the special counsel’s office in DC District Court asks the judge overseeing Papadopoulos’ guilty plea to begin preparing for his sentencing.” CNN notes, “Prosecutors had delayed pushing Papadopoulos’ court proceeding toward its conclusion twice since he pleaded guilty last October to lying to investigators. He faces a maximum of five years in prison.”
ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER
CNN reports, “The special counsel’s office for the first time Wednesday revealed some of the witnesses it may put on the stand against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, as prosecutors and Manafort’s team argued several legal questions in advance of his trial this September.” CNN adds, “The prosecutors’ office said they intend to call to testify Melissa Laurenza, a private attorney who helped Manafort and his longtime deputy Rick Gates file allegedly misleading foreign lobbying registrations with the Justice Department, as well as individuals from companies Manafort worked with.”
CAN’T STOP THE FEELING
Reuters reports, “A federal judge expressed skepticism on Wednesday toward a request by lawyers for President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort to suppress evidence seized by FBI agents working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller.” Reuters adds, “The hearing before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson gave Manafort another opportunity to hinder the criminal case against him. Jackson last week refused to dismiss the charges”. Reuters notes, “Manafort’s lawyers told the judge the FBI conducted an illegal warrantless search in May 2017 on a storage unit by getting one of Manafort’s low-level employees to unlock it and let an agent look inside. The agent later obtained a warrant to seize business records stored there.” The storage locker was in someone else’s name and they had the key when unlocking it for FBI agents, a fact Jackson pointed out during the hearing.
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
WAS ELLIOTT BROIDY COVERING FOR TRUMP IN PLAYMATE PAYOFF?
The Washington Post reports Trump’s personal attorney Michael “Cohen represented Broidy in an arrangement with a former Playboy model named Shera Bechard, who was paid $1.6 million to keep quiet about an affair she supposedly had with Broidy, which resulted in a pregnancy that she aborted. From the start, many parts of this story didn’t quite add up. Broidy is a very rich man, but not necessarily someone who has occasion to hang out with Playboy models, unlike some people you might be familiar with.” The Washington Post notes, “he was not a public figure, which makes the $1.6 million payoff seem wildly excessive. To put it bluntly, $1.6 million is ‘Keep this out of the papers because it’ll be a huge story’ money, not ‘Don’t tell my wife’ money. And why would Broidy, who has access to the most high-priced and discreet legal talent in the country, retain someone like Cohen to take care of this delicate matter for him?” The Washington Post adds, “All of which leads to the theory that Broidy was acting as a cut-out for the person who really had the affair with Bechard: Trump. That theory is, at the moment, unproven but compelling.” Very. The Washington Post continues, “We all know about Trump’s weird relationship with his daughter Ivanka Trump, how he often comments on her body and says things like ‘If she weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.’ Both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, the Playboy model who says she had an affair with Trump, said that Trump compared them to his daughter, which is a rather odd thing to say to a woman you’re having sex with. Whatever the true nature of Trump’s feelings, it’s clear that he’s attracted to women who remind him of Ivanka Trump. I bring this up because Shera Bechard is a dead ringer for Ivanka Trump.” So much Trumpian ick! Most tantalizingly, “why would Broidy step in and put up $1.6 million of his own money to do Trump a solid in this way? The explanation is that he may have stood to gain much, much more. And he had been involved in this kind of arrangement before. In 2009, Broidy pleaded guilty to a felony charge of rewarding official misconduct; he stayed out of jail by testifying against his co-conspirators. He gave $1 million in illegal gifts to New York State officials, and the state invested $250 million with his investment firm. One of the interesting details was that as part of the gifts, Broidy paid $90,000 to the mistress of one of the New York officials.”
From The Washington Post.
COVER YOUR DRINK IF YOU PLAN ON ATTENDING KASPERSKY CONFERENCE
Vice’s Motherboard has a truly long piece on the annual Kaspersky Lab conference in Cancun which features a lot of anecdotes on how slick a public relations operation it is, but buried in it is this: “‘Watch your drinks,’ a longtime attendee who asked to remain anonymous advised me before I went. They told me there have been multiple cases of attendees reporting being slipped drugs in their drinks, or people breaking into other people’s rooms. Another person who attended in the past also described a similar incident, but declined to elaborate. Yet another attendee also said he heard rumors of such incidents.” Motherboard adds, “‘I have no interest in going back,’ another attendee said. ‘I got a weird vibe the whole time I was there. It was super shady. There were a lot of very inquisitive people that came out of nowhere. It felt like it was an information gathering fest for them. They liquor you up, and work their way into all these conversations that you’re having with people.’” As Vice’s Motherboard concludes the piece, “Trust at your own risk.”
From Vice’s Motherboard.
JUDGE RULES UNCONSTITUTIONAL FOR TWITLER TO BLOCK FOLLOWERS
NBC News reports, “President Donald Trump cannot block Twitter users for the political views they have expressed, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled on Wednesday. Blocking users from viewing his Twitter account — a feature offered by the social media platform — is unconstitutional and a violation of the First Amendment, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald wrote in her ruling.” NBC News adds, “The government had argued that blocked individuals could still access the president’s tweets. The judge agreed but said that even considering the president’s First Amendment rights, preventing users from interacting directly with him on Twitter represented a violation of a ‘real, albeit narrow, slice of speech.’ The case had been brought by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. It argued that the @realDonaldTrump Twitter account is a ‘public forum’ under the First Amendment.” NBC News notes, “The institute represented seven individuals who had been blocked by account,” adding, “The plaintiffs were: a university professor in Maryland, a surgery resident in Tennessee, a Washington state songwriter, a New York comedy writer, an author, a legal analyst and a police officer.”
From NBC News.
ONLY WHITE BLONDE PUNDITS DESERVE THEIR HUMANITY IN TRUMPISTAN
The Washington Post reports, “President Trump offered support Wednesday for Tomi Lahren, a provocative Fox News pundit who had a drink thrown at her while leaving brunch at a Minneapolis restaurant over the weekend.” Poor baby! The Washington Post adds, “‘Everybody is with Tomi Lahren, a truly outstanding and respected young woman!’ Trump wrote on Twitter shortly after Lahren appeared on ‘Fox & Friends’ to discuss the incident.” It’s like a new untouchable class is emerging. No, it’s the same untouchable class as always, but not if you are a rich white male celebrity, then you can always grab them by the pussy. Of the incident, The Washington Post adds, “According to multiple reports, Lahren was heckled by patrons at the rooftop restaurant and got into a heated exchange before leaving. Videos of the episode surfaced on social media, gaining national attention.”
From The Washington Post.
STOP RETWEETING THE TWO KRASSENSTEIN BROTHERS, PLEASE
The Daily Beast reports, “In late 2016, federal agents showed up at the Fort Myers, Florida, homes of brothers Brian and Edward Krassenstein, seizing computers and financial records, and hauling off ‘at least 20 to 30 bundles of stuff.’” The Daily Beast adds, “At the time, the story was just a notable blip on local media’s crime blotter. But in the two years since, the Krassensteins have become more than a pair of local businessmen. They’re now prominent members of the online anti-Trump ‘resistance,’” because why are they passing anyone sniff test with their petulant demands for retweets and painfully simplistic blatherings, except they are and really credible people have retweeted them a lot? The Daily Beast adds, “According to the feds, the brothers also, until recently, ran websites that propped up fraudulent online financial scams. Law enforcement officials last year seized nearly half a million dollars from the brothers, money that prosecutors say was derived from wire fraud. The Krassensteins, who have not been charged with any crimes, maintain that they did nothing wrong or illegal.” Because they are obviously better at running scams, which people seem to seek more than factual, difficult to process truths, “The brothers remain extremely popular in corners of the anti-Trump left, having parlayed their vehement, often conspiratorial opposition to the president into social-media fame, with well over a million followers between them. They also run the standalone news websites Independent Reporter and Hill Reporter where, like Twitter, their brand of #Resistance—a label that they eschew, but which aptly fits their frequent calls for the impeachment and prosecution of the president—has galvanized Trump critics.” TRUMPISTAN WATCH by contrast has no background in running scams and no desire for simple, one-sided anything, so is wildly less successful than this. Do not mistake this as jealousy rather irritation with the simplicity and self-defeating nature of human behavior. TRUMPISTAN WATCH vows not to change to become more scammy, ergo more popular.
From The Daily Beast.
—–TOWARDS A PEACEFUL NUCLEAR EXCHANGE—–
WH WANTS MORE HIGH LEVEL NORTH KOREA TALKS BEFORE SUMMIT
CNN reports, “The Trump administration wants additional high-level talks with North Korea and assurances from Kim Jong Un that he is committed to giving up his nuclear program before next month’s planned historic summit in order for the meeting to go ahead”. CNN adds, “The official said substantive discussions before the summit would need to take place between North Korea’s leadership, and either Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or other top administration officials after the completion of joint US-South Korea military exercises.” CNN notes, “Pompeo said Tuesday he would ‘do what it takes to make sure that this is a successful meeting,’ including meeting with the North Koreans again, possibly in a third country.” CNN adds, “Top White House officials will travel to Singapore this weekend, but their focus is to confer with a North Korean delegation on logistical and agenda items for the June 12 summit. The officials include, Joe Hagin, the White House’s top logistics official overseeing advance and scheduling teams, and recently named deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel, who national security adviser John Bolton put in place in late April.”
DOD SAYS NORTH KOREAN NUKES CENTRAL TO THEIR SECURITY STRATEGY
The AP reports, “A Pentagon report to Congress says North Korea sees nuclear weapons as central to its security, an assessment that would seem to complicate President Donald Trump’s effort to persuade the North’s dictator, Kim Jong Un, to give them up.” The AP adds, “The report was delivered to Congress in April, one month after Trump agreed to meet Kim to discuss the North’s denuclearization. It was based on the Pentagon’s analysis of North Korea’s military capabilities and strategies through 2017, when it was widely believed in the U.S. government that Kim had no intention of surrendering his nuclear weapons.” Some of us who live on the part of planet earth where facts matter still think that. The AP notes the Pentagon is pouring sold cold water on denuclearization fantasies over at the White House and Mike Pompeo’s office at the State Department as, “A copy of the Pentagon report was posted Tuesday by Steven Aftergood on his Secrecy News blog. Later in the day the Pentagon made it available on its website,” which adding, “The report offers little suggestion that the Pentagon anticipated a circumstance in which North would consider giving up its nuclear weapons.” The AP adds, “The report called perpetuation of the Kim dynasty the ‘primary strategic goal’ of North Korea,” which is not helped by National Security Advisor John Bolton’s talk of a “Libyan model,” naturally.
From the AP.
LAVROV DUE TO VISIT NORTH KOREA MAY 31
Reuters reports, “Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov plans to visit North Korea, Russian news agencies quoted a foreign ministry spokeswoman as saying on Wednesday,” with a date for the visit set for May 31. Reuters notes, “That would mean him visiting before a proposed summit in Singapore between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.”
—–RADIO MOSCOW: STORIES FROM THEIR PRESS AND OURS—–
LET’S TALK ABOUT WHY DENIRO SHOULD NOT PLAY MUELLER ON SNL
Russia Beyond the Headlines, a Russian state-run propaganda outlet, dives into Robert DeNiro’s past (and current for that matter) involvement in Russia. It is perhaps precisely why it has always been so very wrong that DeNiro has been rehabilitated of this through his role playing Special Counsel Robert Mueller on “Saturday Night Live”. Russia Beyond the Headlines notes, “Robert De Niro’s ties to Russia go back as far as the early 1980s – though he was virtually unknown here at the time.” Russia Beyond the Headlines adds, “When in November 2015 Robert De Niro came to Moscow to launch another Nobu restaurant (he owns a stake at the sushi restaurant chain) he was asked whether he’d like to get a Russian passport like Gerard Depardieu or Steven Seagal. De Niro chuckled and said: ‘As you can imagine, this is a complicated situation, so we’ll see.’” P.S. Nobu Moscow is co-owned by the elder Agalarov, Emin’s father Aras, and it is one of their favorite hangouts in Moscow. The Agalarovs took Trump to Nobu Moscow when he was in town for the Miss Universe pageant in 2013. While “De Niro’s representative had to clarify that the actor had no plans of obtaining Russian citizenship,” the fact is he looks much more like the elder Aras Agalarov than Mueller. Russia Beyond the Headlines notes, “According to the late Russian actor and director Mikhail Kozakov, De Niro came to the Soviet Union for the first time in 1982 to take part in a Soviet-American co-production about the ballerina Anna Pavlova. American producers wanted to hire De Niro for a small role in the movie to attract U.S. viewers. But after his arrival in Moscow, Soviet officials in charge of the cinema industry realized that hiring a two times Oscar winner could be ideologically wrong. The reason was his performance in The Deer Hunter.” Russia Beyond the Headlines adds, “De Niro did not leave the country immediately after being denied the role. According to Kozakov, the actor was interested in the USSR. He stayed there to take a look around Moscow and subsequently came back several times.” And “in 1987, when the American actor chaired the jury of the Moscow International Film Festival.”
IN MEMORIAM: LUIS POSADA CARRILES
The National Security Archive reports, “CIA-trained Cuban exile and suspect in the 1976 Cuban jetliner bombing that killed all 73 people on board, Luis Posada Carriles, has died at the age of 90.” The National Security Archive notes, “The National Security Archive’s Cuba Project Director Peter Kornbluh has fought for the release of U.S. documents to shed light on Carriles’s activities and provide historical evidence for his victims for over a decade. Kornbluh said of Carriles and his U.S.-backing, ‘The CIA created and unleashed a Frankenstein.’” As a result, the National Security Archive hosts “a selection of the declassified record on Carriles and his crimes”.
From The National Security Archive.
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