6:13 AM 12/28/2017 – The name of the supermarket, “Perekryostok” means “The Crossroads” and it is symbolic. The simplicity and the ease of the execution of this act are shocking…

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Update 11:18 AM 12/30/2017

ХРОНИКА ДНЯ – Настоящее Время: ФСБ: задержан предполагаемый организатор взрыва в Петербурге

Федеральная служба безопасности сообщила о задержании подозреваемого в организации взрыва в супермаркете “Перекресток” в Петербурге. Его уже допрашивают в Следственном комитете. “ФСБ РФ в ходе оперативно-разыскных мероприятий 30 декабря 2017 года установлен и задержан организатор и непосредственный исполнитель подрыва самодельного взрывного устройства, совершенного 27 декабря в торговом зале магазина “Перекресток” в городе Санкт-Петербурге”, сказали в спецслужбе. Накануне группировка “Исламское государство” взяла на себя ответственность за взрыв в супермаркете “Перекресток” в Петербурге. Взрыв в супермаркете “Перекресток” произошёл вечером 27 декабря. Самодельное взрывное устройство, сработало в камере хранения. Его мощность оценили в 200 граммов в тротиловом эквиваленте. Пострадали 17 человек, 11 из них госпитализированы. Президент России Владимир Путин признал, что это был теракт. Следственный комитет возбудил уголовное дело по статье 30 и части 2 статьи 105 УК (покушение на убийство двух и более лиц общеопасным способом). Расследованием происшествия занимался Национальный антитеррористический комитет.

ХРОНИКА ДНЯ – Настоящее Время

Updates: 10:10 AM 12/30/2017


Long War Journal
Islamic State claims its men planted bomb at St. Petersburg supermarket
Long War Journal
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the Dec. 27 bombing that wounded 13 people in St. Petersburg, Russia. The explosion was quickly labeled an act of terrorism by Russian officials. Russian President Vladimir Putin described it as and more »

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6:13 AM 12/28/2017 – The name of the supermarket, “Perekryostok” means “The Crossroads” and it is symbolic. The simplicity and the ease of the execution of this act are shocking… 

Also, note that the place of the “accident” is near the “Museum of the Soviet Epoch” at the “Gigant Kholl” – “The Hall of Giants”, on the “Labaratornaya ulitsa” – the “Laboratory Street”.

Are the Leftists-Antifas, and the Asian “guest workers” among the suspects? 

M.N. 

Euronews’s YouTube Videos: Putin: St Petersburg supermarket bombing ‘an act of terrorism’
 

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Duration: 01:13

At least 10 people were injured on Wednesday by an explosion at a supermarket in St Petersburg, Russias second-largest city and the site of a deadly subway bombing this year.
READ MORE : http://www.euronews.com/2017/12/28/putin-st-petersburg-supermarket-bombing-an-act-of-terrorism-

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E

BBCRussian’s YouTube Videos: Путин назвал взрыв в Петербурге терактом
 

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Duration: 01:30

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Story image for Gigant hall St.Petersburg from RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

Officials Investigating Blast That Injured At Least 10 In St. Petersburg

RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty14 hours ago
Footage on social media shows multiple police vehicles, ambulances, and fire engines outside the Gigant Hall leisure center, where the supermarket is located on the ground floor. “There was a bang. Emergency personnel are already on the scene. The evacuation has been completed, and there was no …

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Bomb rips through St Petersburg supermarket injuring ten Christmas …

Daily Mail18 hours ago
The Perekrestok supermarket is located on the ground floor of the Gigant Hall leisure center, in the northwest part of St Petersburg. ‘There was a bang. Emergency personnel are already on the scene. The evacuation has been completed, and there was no fire,’ a local Emergencies Ministry official told news …
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euronewsru’s YouTube Videos: Путин: взрыв в Санкт-Петербурге – теракт
 

From: euronewsru
Duration: 01:13

До сих пор это была лишь одна из версий произошедшего
ЧИТАТЬ ДАЛЕЕ : http://ru.euronews.com/2017/12/28/st-pete-blast-update

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6:18 AM 12/27/2017 – Weapons sale to Ukraine | Moscow bus

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LABRAT KNATS! – Google Search

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Trump administration approves lethal arms sales to Ukraine

Washington PostDec 20, 2017
Correction: A previous version of this blog post incorrectly reported that the Trump administration had approved the first-ever commercial sale of lethal weapons to Ukraine. It stated that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had publicly supported arms sales to Ukraine; Mattis did not explicitly do so. This post has …
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He dealt with the F.B.I. investigation into whether Hillary Clinton mishandled classified information when she used a private email server. Republicans, including Mr. Trump, have relentlessly criticized the F.B.I. for the way it handled that investigation. Mrs. Clinton was not charged, nor were any of her aides. Mr. McCabe has also been deeply involved in the F.B.I.’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and the potential involvement of the Trump campaign.

The Russia investigation is being led by a special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who has already charged four people associated with Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign. One of them, a foreign policy adviser, has pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with the Russians, while another pleaded guilty to lying about his conversation with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

Mr. Mueller’s inquiry has infuriated the president, who has called the investigation a witch hunt and has pressed repeatedly for a shake-up at the F.B.I. Mr. McCabe was deputy director when the F.B.I. opened the investigation in July 2016.

The president crowed on Saturday that James A. Baker, the F.B.I. general counsel, who was seen as an ally of Mr. Comey’s, would soon step down from that post, although he will remain at the bureau.

Mr. McCabe became a political piñata after his wife decided to run as a Democrat for a Virginia State Senate seat. As part of her campaign, she accepted nearly $500,000 in contributions from the political organization of Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime friend of Mrs. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Pressure on Mr. McCabe and Mr. Wray intensified this month after The New York Times reported that a top F.B.I. lawyer and counterintelligence agent traded disparaging text messages about the president. Both the agency and the lawyer had worked closely on the Clinton and Russia investigations. However, Mr. Mueller decided to pull the agent off the Russia investigation. The lawyer, who was close to Mr. McCabe, had already left Mr. Mueller’s team by the time the texts were discovered.

Republicans seized on the texts to claim that the F.B.I.’s leadership was politically slanted. Agents have rejected that assertion, calling it insulting and untrue.

Mr. McCabe, who is seen as highly intelligent, rose quickly through the ranks of the F.B.I., eventually running national security, then the bureau’s second-largest field office, before moving back to headquarters, where he was put on track to be deputy director. He has many supporters in the F.B.I. who consider him beyond reproach.

His defenders say he has done his job admirably in the face of intense partisan attacks while navigating crisis after crisis.

“The political hit job on McCabe — his supposed ideological bias, the fact his wife ran for office as a Democrat, the attacks on his competence — are way out of line,” said Frank Montoya Jr., a former senior F.B.I. official who retired in 2016 and worked closely with Mr. McCabe. “The people who are making these baseless accusations don’t know McCabe. I do. The guy’s a total pro. His only motivation is to support and defend the Constitution.”

His detractors see Mr. McCabe as an ambitious creature of Washington who did not spend enough time as an agent working with informants and making cases. Those critical of Mr. McCabe believe he lacked the operational experience to become director and needed to spend more time in the field.

But even among some of those who dislike Mr. McCabe, he earned their grudging respect when he stood up to Mr. Trump and defended the F.B.I. and Mr. Comey’s tenure during a heated congressional hearing in May while he was acting director.

Mr. McCabe’s plan to retire at some point after he was eligible to retire was first reported by The Washington Post. Mr. McCabe will most likely follow the path of other highly qualified F.B.I. senior officials eligible to retire who leave after securing a lucrative job in the private sector.

Officials say that Mr. Wray is considering David L. Bowdich, currently the third-ranking official in the bureau, to replace Mr. McCabe. Mr. Bowdich ran the F.B.I.’s Los Angeles field office before coming to Washington. He is best known for being the public face of the F.B.I. in California after the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack.

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Using Billions in Government Cash, Mexico Controls News Media

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Mr. Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, also known as the PRI, pioneered this system during its 70 years in power. Former President José López Portillo explicitly laid out the government’s expectations decades ago — he was even quoted as saying that he did not pay the media to attack him — and the practice continued when the opposition claimed the presidency in 2000, then again in 2006.

But the government’s influence over the media goes well beyond the advertising spigot, with officials sometimes resorting to outright bribery. In Chihuahua, the former governor spent more than $50 million on publicity, officials say, in a state saddled with huge public debts. Yet that was just the official figure.

Prosecutors have also collected signed receipts for bribes to local journalists — payoffs so common that some reporters were even listed as government contractors, documents show. With so much government money circling around, entire news websites sprang up with a single purpose, prosecutors contend: to support the former governor’s agenda.

“The relation between the media and power is one of the gravest problems in Mexico,” said Javier Corral, the new governor of Chihuahua. “There is collusion, an arrangement, in terms of how the public resources are managed to reward or punish the media. It’s carrot and stick: ‘Behave well, and I’ll give you lots of money and advertising. Act bad and I’ll get rid of it.’”

RELIANCE ON PUBLIC ADVERTISING

Pick up a newspaper, tune into a radio station or flip on the television in Mexico and you are greeted with a barrage of government advertising. In some papers, nearly every other page is claimed by an ad promoting one government agency or another. At times, as much airtime is dedicated to venerating the government’s work as it is to covering the news.

The extraordinary spending comes at a time when the Mexican government is cutting budgets across the board, including for health, education and social services. The federal government spent as much on advertising last year, about $500 million, as it did to support students in its main scholarship program for public universities.

The co-opting of the news media is more fundamental than any one administration’s spending on self-promotion, historians say. It reflects the absence of the basic pact that a free press has with its readers in a democracy, where holding the powerful accountable is part of its mission.

“It’s a common problem in the developing world, but the problem is much, much graver in Mexico,” said David Kaye, the United Nations special representative for freedom of expression. “It’s remarkable what the government spends.”

Most news outlets have relied on public advertising for so long that they would not survive without the government, giving officials tremendous leverage to push for certain stories and prevent others, analysts, reporters and media owners say.

“This is an economic problem,” said Carlos Puig, a columnist at the newspaper Milenio, which receives substantial government funding. “The classic American model does not exist here.”

Last year, a public outcry erupted after a top official in the Peña Nieto administration went to Milenio’s offices to complain about a story. The article, criticizing a national anti-hunger initiative, was taken down from the newspaper’s website right after the visit.

The piece later went back up, with a far less damning headline. The newspaper says the reason was simple: The article was “deplorable,” an inaccurate and “vulgar” attempt to smear an official, requiring an apology to readers. But journalists and democracy advocates, citing the power of government advertising, cried foul and the reporter resigned in protest, claiming to have been censored. Eventually, the original headline was restored.

Overt government interference is often unnecessary. Sixty-eight percent of journalists in Mexico said they censored themselves, not only to avoid being killed, but also because of pressure from advertisers and the impact on the company’s bottom line, according to a three-year study by Mexican and American academics.

Francisco Pazos did. He worked for years at one of the largest papers in Mexico, Excélsior. One of his most frustrating moments came in late 2013, he said, when the government was in the throes of a fight with commuters over a transit fare increase.

Mr. Pazos said he tried to explore the commuters’ anger in detail, until an editor stopped him, telling him the paper was no longer going to cover the controversy.

“I came to understand there were issues I simply couldn’t cover,” Mr. Pazos said. “And eventually, I stopped looking for those kinds of stories. Eventually, you become a part of the censorship yourself.”

Many media owners and directors say they have so few independent sources of income outside the government that they face a stark choice: wither from a lack of resources, or survive as accomplices to their own manipulation.

“Of course, the use of public money limits freedom of expression, but without this public money there would be no media in Mexico at all,” said Marco Levario, the director of the magazine Etcétera. “We are all complicit in this.”

The model means that some media outlets in Mexico can scarcely afford their own principles. Twenty years ago, the newspaper La Jornada was one of the most beloved in the nation, a critical voice and a must-read for intellectuals and activists who carried the tabloid around town, tucked under their arms.

But the years have not been kind to the paper. A few years ago, it was on the cusp of financial ruin. Then the government intervened, rescuing the publication with more than $1 million in official advertising and, critics say, claiming its editorial independence in the process.

“Now they own them,” Mr. Levario said. “The paper has been like a spokesman for the president.”

Other business ties link news outlets to the government. Many media companies are part of larger conglomerates that build roads or other public projects. The same person who owns Grupo Imagen, which includes radio, television and print media, also owns a major construction firm, Prodemex. It has earned more than $200 million in the past five years building government facilities, and will play a role in the construction of the new Mexico City airport.

La Jornada, Excélsior and Excélsior’s parent company, Grupo Imagen, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

The nation’s Supreme Court recently took up the issue of official advertising, ruling in November that the government must act on the president’s promise to regulate the flow of public money in an unbiased way.

“The absence of regulation in official publicity allows for the arbitrary use of communications budgets, which restricts indirectly freedom of expression,” said Arturo Zaldívar, a Supreme Court justice.

In a statement, the president’s office referred to its official advertising as a form of constitutionally backed publicity that enables it to inform and educate the public about its work. But it rejects the assertion that such spending skews the media’s coverage of important issues or stifles free speech in any way.

“Every day journalists in Mexico question, with absolute freedom, the government’s actions and those of our representatives, including the president,” it said. “There is a permanent criticism from Mexican journalists toward the government. Just by opening any newspaper, turning on the television and going to social media, you can verify this.”

When he came to office in 2012, the president vowed to more fairly distribute the government’s advertising dollars. Shortly after his election, Mr. Peña Nieto’s team came up with a plan to regulate media spending, according to three people familiar with the proposal.

But Aurelio Nuño, the president’s former chief of staff, said the effort never got far enough to produce a draft of any legislation that could yield action. The effort was subsumed by other campaign promises and left behind, he said.

‘HEATING THEM UP’

As the editor for recruiting at the newspaper Reforma, Diana Alvarez has grown accustomed to the flexible definition of journalism in Mexico.

A few years back, she said, she interviewed one young woman from a large paper in Mexico City. The woman, who had a master’s degree in journalism, said her job at the paper consisted of creating files of negative press clippings on governors across the country.

Those files were turned over to the paper’s sales department, which then approached the governors to sell them “coverage plans” to improve their public image, the young woman explained.

Mrs. Alvarez rattled off more examples. One applicant, an editing candidate, boasted that he knew how to work his relationships with politicians to score more advertising money.

He called it “heating them up,” which involved showing the target a critical story that his newspaper was planning to publish. Then, as he explained to Mrs. Alvarez, an advertising contract with his paper would help “put out the fire.”

Yet another applicant, a former state government employee, said he knew how to “deal with the press,” Mrs. Alvarez recalled. He told her how he had been in charge of distributing envelopes filled with cash for reporters as bribes.

“I wish I could say these are isolated cases, or just a few, but it isn’t the case,” Mrs. Alvarez said. “There have been many like these, where they come and speak about these practices in a way that makes you realize they have normalized them.”

Daniel Moreno, the director of the digital publication Animal Político, says he receives almost nothing from the federal government, and relatively small amounts from state governors.

It’s not because he doesn’t want the money, Mr. Moreno says. It’s just that the kind of critical coverage his news team does is not rewarded with government contracts, he contends.

Recently, Mr. Moreno said he received a call from officials in the state of Morelos, which spends about $3,000 a month with him on advertising. The governor’s wife was going through a rough period over claims that she was politicizing aid for earthquake victims — an accusation she rejected — so a state official suggested that Animal Político do a few positive stories on her.

Mr. Moreno politely declined.

“They were pretty offended,” he said with a shrug. “And I’m pretty sure that money is gone.”

Still, that was better than it is with most states, Mr. Moreno said. As a policy, Animal Político publishes a banner on pieces that are paid advertising, so readers know the work is not independent journalism, he said.

But officials in the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Sonora have refused to pay for content unless it is published without the banner, he said. Mr. Moreno refused.

“I’ve lost more money than I’ve earned that way,” he said with a laugh.

This month, news organizations came together to denounce the violence against the press in Mexico, where the murders of journalists hit a record this year. Thirty-nine media groups signed on.

But a few, including Animal Político, were missing — on purpose. They had insisted on some extra lines in the announcement about the damage that official publicity does to free speech.

A small uproar ensued, they said. Some large newspapers that rely heavily on government money objected.

Ultimately, the letter was sent without the lines — and without the signature of Mr. Moreno and his compatriots. The news media, it appeared, would not challenge its livelihood.

AN EXPOSÉ RAISES QUESTIONS

On Aug. 23, Ricardo Anaya, the president of the opposition National Action Party and now a candidate for president in next year’s election, woke up to find his name and family splashed across the front page of El Universal, a major newspaper.

The story went into details about his father-in-law’s real estate empire and, more pointedly, the ways in which Mr. Anaya’s political career had helped propel that fortune.

The narrative was a familiar one in Mexico: A political leader had used his influence to enrich himself and his family. El Universal laid out the addresses and values of the various properties, and even published head shots of his entire extended family, 14 people in all. News outlets across the country carried the story.

The only thing missing, a court ultimately decided, was accuracy. Mr. Anaya managed to show that much of the information was flawed, skewed or simply wrong. While his in-laws clearly owned a number of properties, many had been in their possession before his political career began, public deeds showed.

Even more puzzling, Mr. Anaya said, were the photographs of his family. They had not been public before, as far as the family knew. In fact, they looked an awful lot like passport pictures.

Given that such photos were held by the foreign ministry, which issues passports, Mr. Anaya suspected that his rivals in the government had leaked the pictures to the newspaper.

“They are trying to destroy my political career with this campaign,” he contended. “You can’t compete with a government that pays $500 million a year to the media.”

For the next two months, the newspaper dedicated more than 20 front pages to Mr. Anaya, accusing him of misusing public funds, benefiting financially from his position and fracturing his party.

Mr. Anaya filed suit. In October, the court found that El Universal had misrepresented his in-laws’ wealth and wrongly accused Mr. Anaya of using his office to benefit them.

El Universal claimed that it was entitled to publish the story under the right to freedom of expression, an argument the judge questioned because the paper “had not based its investigation in facts.” The newspaper has appealed the court’s decision.

The case raises national questions of trust in a country where the news media receives so much money in government advertising.

El Universal receives more government advertising than any other newspaper in the nation, about $10 million last year, Fundar found. Critics argue that the newspaper has become something of an attack dog for the government ahead of presidential elections next year.

The suggestion is “false and offensive,” the newspaper says. Government advertising “does not affect in any way the editorial line of the newspaper,” it says, adding that “thinkers of all political parties” are represented in its pages.

Not all its journalists agree. In July, a half-dozen columnists announced their resignations in protest over what they called biased coverage, saying the owners had destroyed the institution’s credibility.

Salvador Frausto, an investigative editor who earned the paper many awards, also left. Colleagues said he was clearly uncomfortable with how close the paper was becoming to the PRI and its new presidential candidate, José Antonio Meade.

The person who replaced Mr. Frausto as the new investigative editor was most recently a press officer at the foreign affairs ministry, according to his LinkedIn profile.

And the news director of El Universal had close ties with the new candidate: His wife was Mr. Meade’s international press chief at the finance ministry.

The paper says that there is no conflict of interest, and that it does not tolerate biased coverage of any kind.

But it isn’t the first time the paper’s journalists have challenged its independence. Writers said that in 2012, when Mr. Peña Nieto was running for office, editors and news directors began changing columns critical of the candidate, sometimes at the last minute, without warning them.

“The reason I resigned is because I no longer felt like I was guaranteed a free space,” Andrés Lajous, now a doctoral student at Princeton University, wrote in an article recounting the events.

‘IT WAS THE FEDS’

Witnesses were calling it an execution.

In January 2015, Laura Castellanos, an award-winning reporter, was sent by editors at El Universal to cover a pair of shootouts involving the federal police.

At the time, self-defense groups had taken up arms to fight against organized crime, and Ms. Castellanos, who had written extensively on the subject, was considered an expert.

She spent 10 days reporting the story, tapping old sources and interviewing witnesses in the state of Michoacán, where 16 had been killed and dozens wounded.

The issue was especially delicate because a close ally of the president, Alfredo Castillo, who had been appointed to oversee the security situation in Michoacán, claimed that the deaths came from a shootout with armed assailants.

Ms. Castellanos said she recorded interviews with 39 people — victims, bystanders, hospital workers — and came to a different conclusion. The federal police had summarily executed unarmed suspects, including some as they surrendered on their knees with their arms in the air, she said her reporting showed.

After days of editing and fact-checking, she said the story was ready to run. Only it didn’t.

Ms. Castellanos and her editors were not surprised. Mr. Peña Nieto was already under heavy public pressure for his handling of the disappearance of 43 college students, as well as his wife’s purchase of a multimillion-dollar home from a major government contractor.

But after two and a half months — during which time one of her sources was tortured and killed, she said — Ms. Castellanos worried her story would never run.

Working with lawyers, she said she discovered a loophole in her contract — one that allowed her to publish the material elsewhere.

One of the few publications willing to take the story was a new website founded by Carmen Aristegui, another award-winning reporter, who had lost her radio station job after breaking the story about the president’s wife.

But the morning the Michoacán story was scheduled to publish, under the headline “It Was the Feds,” Ms. Aristegui’s website went dark.

Eventually, they figured out what happened: The website had been hacked.

The two eventually published the story, but the case again raised questions about independence in a country awash in government advertising.

Neither the killings, nor the hacking, have been fully resolved. El Universal said it had not published Ms. Castellanos’s story because it did not meet the newspaper’s standards.

The next year, Ms. Castellano’s article was awarded Mexico’s most coveted journalistic prize: the national award for investigative reporting.

Continue reading the main story

FBI searches for evidence of Russia’s meddling in US election in liquidated Cyprian bank

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American intelligence has requested information about the bank FBME. According to the documents of the Cyprus Central Bank, about half of its clients were Russians.

The FBI requested data on the previously closed FBME bank, which the US Treasury had previously accused of money laundering, from the Cypriot authorities. Intelligence suspects the bank of servicing influential customers from Russia, according to The Guardian, citing its sources.

The Guardian‘s interlocutors suggest that the inquiry may be related to the investigation into a matter of possible interference of Russia in the election of the US President in 2016. Special prosecutor Robert Mueller subordinates this case. Previously, the US Central Bank requested information on FBME from the Central Bank of Cyprus.

In the documents of the Central Bank of the republic, which were at the disposal of the newspaper, it appears that about half of FBME clients were Russians. In particular, these are member of the Federation Council of Russia Alexander Shishkin and businessman Vladimir Smirnov. It was also reported that the bank housed 23 accounts of Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.

FBME bank was liquidated in 2017. A year earlier, it was under Washington’s sanctions, and in 2014 the US Treasury had accused the organization of money laundering.

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A husband and wife were shot dead in their Virginia home three days before Christmas by a 17-year-old boy they had warned their daughter not to date because of his racist views, according to officials and news accounts. The teenager shot Scott Fricker, 48, and his wife, Buckley Kuhn-Fricker, 43, around 5 …
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BARTOW, Fla. – The Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Polk County Fire Rescue investigators are on the scene of a fatal, twin-engine plane crash at the Bartow Airbase. The crash occurred at the end of a runway near Ben Durrance Road in Bartow in heavy fog, a Polk County sheriff’s release said. Irving Smith …
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Homeland Security says chain migration let terrorism-related suspects into U.S.

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A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said Saturday that two recent terror suspects made their way into the U.S. via chain migration.  (Reuters)

The Department of Homeland Security said chain migration is the common element in two cases allegedly tied to terrorism activities, according to a statement released Saturday.

In the statement on Twitter, Acting Press Secretary Tyler Houlton said DHS “can confirm the suspect involved in a terror attack in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and another suspect arrested on terror-related money laundering charges were both beneficiaries of extended family chain migration.”

Chain migration is when an immigrant gains legal entry into the U.S. via sponsorship by a family member who’s already a legal resident or citizen. The Trump administration launched a campaign against the immigration system, in favor of a more merit-based structure, favoring education and job potential as factors.

WHITE HOUSE TO PUSH MERIT-BASED IMMIGRATION IN NEW CAMPAIGN

The memo referred to Ahmed Aminamin El-Mofty, 51, who it said was a naturalized U.S. citizen admitted to the U.S. from Egypt on a family-based visa. El-Mofty went on a shooting spree Friday in Harrisburg and was reportedly targeting police officers.

The gunman, carrying two rifles and a shotgun, fired at officers in multiple locations.

“He fired several shots at a Capitol police officer and at a Pennsylvania state police trooper in marked vehicles,” Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico said. The state trooper was injured but is “doing well,” he said.

El-Mofty pursued the trooper to a residential neighborhood and encountered law enforcement officers, who ultimately killed him after he fired “many shots” at them.

The statement also mentioned Zoobia Shahnaz, who DHS said was a naturalized U.S. citizen who entered from Pakistan, also on a family-based visa. Shahnaz was indicted on Dec. 14 after she allegedly laundered more than $85,000 through Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies overseas to the Islamic State.

END CHAIN MIGRATION, AS TRUMP WANTS, AND SWITCH TO MERIT-BASED IMMIGRATION

Acquiring the money through fraudulently obtained credit cards and a bank loan, Shahnaz laundered the funds to people in Pakistan, China and Turkey and “planned to travel to Syria and join ISIS,” federal officials said.

Shahnaz was charged in federal court with bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and three counts of money laundering, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In the DHS statement Saturday, Houlton said, “These incidents highlight the Trump administration’s concerns with extended chain migration.”

“Both chain migration and the diversity visa lottery program have been exploited by terrorists to attack our country,” Houlton said. “Not only are the programs less effective at driving economic growth than merit-based immigration systems used by nearly all other countries, the programs make it more difficult to keep dangerous people out of the United States and to protect the safety of every American.”

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‘Anyone can be attacked for partisan gain’: Comey issues rare statement in defense of top FBI lawyer – Business Insider

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‘Anyone can be attacked for partisan gain’: Comey issues rare statement in defense of top FBI lawyer
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“James Baker, who is stepping down as FBI General Counsel, served our country incredibly well for 25 years & deserves better. He is what we should all want our public servants to be.” Since making his Twitter presence publicly known in recent months 

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FOIA Researchers Are Targeting a Shadowy FBI Program Called ‘Gravestone’
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The problem, of course, is that the FBI’s mission and the tools it uses to accomplish it often collide with the privacy protections guaranteed to Americans by the Fourth Amendment. We know, for instance, that the FBI has engaged in questionable, if not 

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A few years ago, not long after Jeanine Pirro paid a visit to Donald J. Trump at his Trump Tower office, a box arrived at her home in Rye, N.Y.. Inside was a gift: a selection of shoes from the latest Ivanka Trump footwear collection. Ms. Pirro, the 

Trump-Russia Steele Dossier: FBIs Insurance Policy for Clinton Campaign?

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The FBI’s deputy director Andrew McCabe testified Tuesday at a marathon seven-hour closed-door hearing of the House Intelligence Committee. According to the now-infamous text message sent by FBI agent Peter Strzok to his paramour, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, it was in McCabe’s office that top FBI counterintelligence officials discussed what they saw as the frightening possibility of a Trump presidency.

That was during the stretch run of the 2016 campaign, no more than a couple of weeks after they started receiving the Steele dossier — the Clinton campaign’s opposition-research reports, written by former British spy Christopher Steele, about Trump’s purportedly conspiratorial relationship with Vladimir Putin’s regime in Russia.

Was it the Steele dossier that so frightened the FBI?

I think so.

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There is a great deal of information to follow. But let’s cut to the chase: The Obama-era FBI and Justice Department had great faith in Steele because he had previously collaborated with the bureau on a big case. Plus, Steele was working on the Trump-Russia project with the wife of a top Obama Justice Department official, who was personally briefed by Steele. The upper ranks of the FBI and DOJ strongly preferred Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, to the point of overlooking significant evidence of her felony misconduct, even as they turned up the heat on Trump. In sum, the FBI and DOJ were predisposed to believe the allegations in Steele’s dossier. Because of their confidence in Steele, because they were predisposed to believe his scandalous claims about Donald Trump, they made grossly inadequate efforts to verify his claims. Contrary to what I hoped would be the case, I’ve come to believe Steele’s claims were used to obtain FISA surveillance authority for an investigation of Trump.

There were layers of insulation between the Clinton campaign and Steele — the campaign and the Democratic party retained a law firm, which contracted with Fusion GPS, which in turn hired the former spy. At some point, though, perhaps early on, the FBI and DOJ learned that the dossier was actually a partisan opposition-research product. By then, they were dug in. No one, after all, would be any the wiser: Hillary would coast to victory, so Democrats would continue running the government; FISA materials are highly classified, so they’d be kept under wraps. Just as it had been with the Obama-era’s Fast and Furious and IRS scandals, any malfeasance would remain hidden.

The best laid schemes . . . gang aft agley.

Why It Matters
Strzok’s text about the meeting in McCabe’s office is dated August 16, 2016. As we’ll see, the date is important. According to Agent Strzok, with Election Day less than three months away, Page, the bureau lawyer, weighed in on Trump’s bid: “There’s no way he gets elected.” Strzok, however, believed that even if a Trump victory was the longest of long shots, the FBI “can’t take that risk.” He insisted that the bureau had no choice but to proceed with a plan to undermine Trump’s candidacy: “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that, “according to people familiar with his account,” Strzok meant that it was imperative that the FBI “aggressively investigate allegations of collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.” In laughable strawman fashion, the “people familiar with his account” assure the Journal that Strzok “didn’t intend to suggest a secret plan to harm the candidate.” Of course, no sensible person suspects that the FBI was plotting Trump’s assassination; the suspicion is that, motivated by partisanship and spurred by shoddy information that it failed to verify, the FBI exploited its counterintelligence powers in hopes of derailing Trump’s presidential run.

But what were these “allegations of collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia” that the FBI decided to “aggressively investigate”? The Journal doesn’t say. Were they the allegations in the Steele dossier? That is a question I asked in last weekend’s column. It is a question that was pressed by Chairman Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) and Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee at Tuesday’s sealed hearing. As I explained in the column, the question is critical for three reasons:

(1) The Steele dossier was a Clinton campaign product. If it was used by the FBI and the Obama Justice Department to obtain a FISA warrant, that would mean law-enforcement agencies controlled by a Democratic president fed the FISA court political campaign material produced by the Democratic candidate whom the president had endorsed to succeed him. Partisan claims of egregious scheming with an adversarial foreign power would have been presented to the court with the FBI’s imprimatur, as if they were drawn from refined U.S. intelligence reporting. The objective would have been to spy on the opposition Republican campaign.

(2) In June of this year, former FBI director James Comey testified that the dossier was “salacious and unverified.” While still director, Comey had described the dossier the same way when he briefed President-elect Trump on it in January 2017. If the dossier was still unverified as late as mid 2017, its allegations could not possibly have been verified months earlier, in the late summer or early autumn of 2016, when it appears that the FBI and DOJ used them in an application to the FISA court.

(3) The dossier appears to contain misinformation. Knowing he was a spy-for-hire trusted by Americans, Steele’s Russian-regime sources had reason to believe that misinformation could be passed into the stream of U.S. intelligence and that it would be acted on — and leaked — as if it were true, to America’s detriment. This would sow discord in our political system. If the FBI and DOJ relied on the dossier, it likely means they were played by the Putin regime.

How Could Something Like This Happen?
We do not have public confirmation that the dossier was, in fact, used by the bureau and the Justice Department to obtain the FISA warrant. Publicly, FBI and DOJ officials have thwarted the Congress with twaddle about protecting both intelligence sources and an internal inspector-general probe. Of course, Congress, which established and funds the DOJ and FBI, has the necessary security clearances to review classified information, has jurisdiction over the secret FISA court, and has independent constitutional authority to examine the activities of legislatively created executive agencies.

It appears that the FBI corroborated few of Steele’s claims, and at an absurdly high level of generality.


In any event, important reporting by Fox News’ James Rosen regarding Tuesday’s hearing indicates that the FBI did, in fact, credit the contents of the dossier. It appears, however, that the bureau corroborated few of Steele’s claims, and at an absurdly high level of generality — along the lines of: You tell me person A went to place X and committed a crime; I corroborate only that A went to X and blithely assume that because you were right about the travel, you must be right about the crime.

Here, the FBI was able to verify Steele’s claim that Carter Page, a very loosely connected Trump-campaign adviser, had gone to Russia. This was not exactly meticulous gumshoe corroboration: Page told many people he was going to Russia, saw many people while there, and gave a speech at a prominent Moscow venue. Having verified only the travel information, the FBI appears to have credited the claims of Steele’s anonymous Russian sources that Page carried out nigh-treasonous activities while in Russia.

How could something like this happen? Well, the FBI and DOJ liked and trusted Steele, for what seem to be good reasons. As the Washington Post has reported, the former MI-6 agent’s private intelligence firm, Orbis, was retained by England’s main soccer federation to investigate corruption at FIFA, the international soccer organization that had snubbed British bids to host the World Cup. In 2010, Steele delivered key information to the FBI’s organized-crime liaison in Europe. This helped the bureau build the Obama Justice Department’s most celebrated racketeering prosecution: the indictment of numerous FIFA officials and other corporate executives. Announcing the first wave of charges in May 2015, Attorney General Loretta Lynch made a point of thanking the investigators’ “international partners” for their “outstanding assistance.”

At the time, Bruce Ohr was the Obama Justice Department’s point man for “Transnational Organized Crime and International Affairs,” having been DOJ’s long-serving chief of the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section. He also wore a second, top-echelon DOJ hat: associate deputy attorney general. That made him a key adviser to the deputy attorney general, Sally Yates (who later, as acting attorney general, was fired for insubordinately refusing to enforce President Trump’s so-called travel ban). In the chain of command, the FBI reports to the DAG’s office.

To do the Trump-Russia research, Steele had been retained by the research firm Fusion GPS (which, to repeat, had been hired by lawyers for the Clinton campaign and the DNC). Fusion GPS was run by its founder, former Wall Street Journal investigative journalist Glenn Simpson. Bruce Ohr’s wife, Nellie, a Russia scholar, worked for Simpson at Fusion. The Ohrs and Simpson appear to be longtime acquaintances, dating back to when Simpson was a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center. In 2010, all three participated in a two-day conference on international organized crime, sponsored by the National Institute of Justice (see conference schedule and participant list, pp. 27–30). In connection with the Clinton campaign’s Trump-Russia project, Fusion’s Nellie Ohr collaborated with Steele and Simpson, and DOJ’s Bruce Ohr met personally with Steele and Simpson.

The Department of Justice and FBI were favorably disposed toward Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS.


Manifestly, the DOJ and FBI were favorably disposed toward Steele and Fusion GPS. I suspect that these good, productive prior relationships with the dossier’s source led the investigators to be less exacting about corroborating the dossier’s claims.

But that is just the beginning of the bias story.

At a high level, the DOJ and FBI were in the tank for Hillary Clinton. In July 2016, shortly before Steele’s reports started floating in, the FBI and DOJ announced that no charges would be brought against Mrs. Clinton despite damning evidence that she mishandled classified information, destroyed government files, obstructed congressional investigations, and lied to investigators. The irregularities in the Clinton-emails investigation are legion: President Obama making it clear in public statements that he did not want Clinton charged; the FBI, shortly afterwards, drafting an exoneration of Clinton months before the investigation ended and central witnesses, including Clinton herself, were interviewed; investigators failing to use the grand jury to compel the production of key evidence; the DOJ restricting FBI agents in their lines of inquiry and examination of evidence; the granting of immunity to suspects who in any other case would be pressured to plead guilty and cooperate against more-culpable suspects; the distorting of criminal statutes to avoid applying them to Clinton; the sulfurous tarmac meeting between Attorney General Lynch and former President Clinton shortly before Mrs. Clinton was given a peremptory interview — right before then–FBI director Comey announced that she would not be charged.

The blatant preference for Clinton over Trump smacked of politics and self-interest. Deputy FBI director McCabe’s wife had run for the Virginia state legislature as a Democrat, and her (unsuccessful) campaign was lavishly funded by groups tied to Clinton insider Terry McAuliffe. Agent Strzok told FBI lawyer Page that Trump was an “idiot” and that “Hillary should win 100 million to 0.” Page agreed that Trump was “a loathsome human.” A Clinton win would likely mean Lynch — originally raised to prominence when President Bill Clinton appointed her to a coveted U.S. attorney slot — would remain attorney general. Yates would be waiting in the wings.

The prior relationships of trust with the source; the investment in Clinton; the certitude that Clinton would win and deserved to win, signified by the mulish determination that she not be charged in the emails investigation; the sheer contempt for Trump. This concatenation led the FBI and DOJ to believe Steele — to want to believe his melodramatic account of Trump-Russia corruption. For the faithful, it was a story too good to check.

The DOJ and FBI, having dropped a criminal investigation that undeniably established Hillary Clinton’s national-security recklessness, managed simultaneously to convince themselves that Donald Trump was too much of a national-security risk to be president.

The Timeline
As I noted in last weekend’s column, reports are that the FBI and DOJ obtained a FISA warrant targeting Carter Page (no relation to Lisa Page). For a time, Page was tangentially tied to the Trump campaign as a foreign-policy adviser — he barely knew Trump. The warrant was reportedly obtained after the Trump campaign and Page had largely severed ties in early August 2016. We do not know exactly when the FISA warrant was granted, but the New York Times and the Washington Post have reported, citing U.S. government sources, that this occurred in September 2016 (see herehere, and here). Further, the DOJ and FBI reportedly persuaded the FISA court to extend the surveillance after the first warrant’s 90-day period lapsed — meaning the spying continued into Trump’s presidency.

The FBI and DOJ would have submitted the FISA application to the court shortly before the warrant was issued. In the days-to-weeks prior to petitioning the court, the FISA application would have been subjected to internal review at the FBI — raising the possibility that FBI lawyer Page was in the loop reviewing the investigative work of Agent Strzok, with whom she was having an extramarital affair. There would also have been review at the Justice Department — federal law requires that the attorney general approve every application to the FISA court.

Presumably, these internal reviews would have occurred in mid-to-late August — around the time of the meeting in McCabe’s office referred to in Strzok’s text. Thus, we need to understand the relevant events before and after mid-to-late August. Here is a timeline.

June 2016
In June 2016, Steele began to generate the reports that collectively are known as the “dossier.”

In the initial report, dated June 20, 2016, Steele alleged that Putin’s regime had been “cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years.” (Steele’s reports conform to the FBI and intelligence-agency reporting practice of rendering names of interest in capital letters.) The Kremlin was said to have significant blackmail material that could be used against Trump.

In mid-to-late June 2016, according to Politico, Carter Page asked J. D. Gordon, his supervisor on the Trump campaign’s National Security Advisory Committee, for permission to go on a trip to Russia in early July. Gordon advised against it. Page then sent an email to Corey Lewandowski, who was Trump’s campaign manager until June 20, and Hope Hicks, the Trump campaign spokeswoman, seeking permission to go on the trip. Word came back to Page by email that he could go, but only in his private capacity, not as a representative of the Trump campaign. Lewandowski says he has never met Carter Page.

July 2016
Page, a top-of-the-class graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy with various other academic distinctions, traveled to Moscow for a three-day trip, the centerpiece of which was a July 7 commencement address at the New Economic School (the same institution at which President Obama gave a commencement address on July 7, 2009). The New York Times has reported, based on leaks from “current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials,” that Page’s July trip to Moscow “was a catalyst for the F.B.I. investigation into connections between Russia and President Trump’s campaign.” The Times does not say what information the FBI had received that made the Moscow trip such a “catalyst.”

At a meeting in deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe’s office, it was discussed that the bureau needed something akin to an “insurance policy” even though Trump’s election was thought highly unlikely.


Was it the Steele dossier?

Well, on July 19, Steele reported that, while in Moscow, Page had held secret meetings with two top Putin confederates, Igor Sechin and Ivan Diveykin. Steele claimed to have been informed by “a Russian source close to” Sechin, the president of Russia’s energy conglomerate Rosneft, that Sechin had floated to Page the possibility of “US-Russia energy co-operation” in exchange for the “lifting of western sanctions against Russia over Ukraine.” Page was said to have reacted “positively” but in a manner that was “non-committal.”

Another source, apparently Russian, told Steele that “an official close to” Putin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov had confided to “a compatriot” that Igor Diveykin (of the “Internal Political Department” of Putin’s Presidential Administration) had also met with Page in Moscow. (Note the dizzying multiple-hearsay basis of this information.) Diveykin is said to have told Page that the regime had “a dossier of ‘kompromat’” — compromising information — on Hillary Clinton that it would consider releasing to Trump’s “campaign team.” Diveykin further “hinted (or indicated more strongly) that the Russian leadership also had ‘kompromat’ on TRUMP which the latter should bear in mind in his dealings with them.”

The hacked DNC emails were first released on July 22, shortly before the Democratic National Convention, which ran from July 25 through 28.

In “late July 2016,” Steele claimed to have been told by an “ethnic Russian close associate of . . . TRUMP” that there was a “well-developed conspiracy of co-operation” between “them” (apparently meaning Trump’s inner circle) and “the Russian leadership.” The conspiracy was said to be “managed on the TRUMP side by the Republican candidate’s campaign manager, Paul MANAFORT, who was using foreign policy adviser, Carter PAGE, and others as intermediaries.”

The same source claimed that the Russian regime had been behind the leak of DNC emails “to the WikiLeaks platform,” an operation the source maintained “had been conducted with the full knowledge and support of TRUMP and senior members of his campaign team.” As a quid pro quo, “the TRUMP team” was said to have agreed (a) “to sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue,” and (b) to raise the failure of NATO nations to meet their defense commitments as a distraction from Russia aggression in Ukraine, “a priority for PUTIN who needed to cauterise the subject.”

Late July to Early August 2016
The Washington Post has reported that Steele’s reports were first transmitted “by an intermediary” to the FBI and other U.S. intelligence officials after the Democratic National Convention (which, to repeat, ended on July 28). The intermediary is not identified. We do not know if it was Fusion, though that seems likely given that Fusion shared its work with government and non-government entities. Steele himself is also said to have contacted “a friend in the FBI” about his research after the Democratic convention. As we’ve seen, Steele made bureau friends during the FIFA investigation.

August 2016
On August 11, as recounted in the aforementioned Wall Street Journal report, FBI agent Strzok texted the following message to FBI lawyer Page: “OMG I CANNOT BELIEVE WE ARE SERIOUSLY LOOKING AT THESE ALLEGATIONS AND THE PERVASIVE CONNECTIONS.” The Journal does not elaborate on what “allegations” Strzok was referring to, or the source of those allegations.

On August 15, Strzok texted Page about the meeting in deputy FBI director McCabe’s office at which it was discussed that the bureau “can’t take that risk” of a Trump presidency and needed something akin to an “insurance policy” even though Trump’s election was thought highly unlikely.

September 2016
Reporting indicates that sometime in September 2016, the DOJ and FBI applied to the FISA court for a warrant to surveil Carter Page, and that the warrant was granted.

Interestingly, on September 23, 2016, Yahoo’s Michael Isikoff reported on leaks he had received that the U.S. government was conducting an intelligence investigation to determine whether Carter Page, as a Trump adviser, had opened up a private communications channel with such “senior Russian officials” as Igor Sechin and Igor Diveykin to discuss lifting economic sanctions if Trump became president.

It is now known that Isikoff’s main source for the story was Fusion’s Glenn Simpson. Isikoff’s report is rife with allegations found in the dossier, although the dossier is not referred to as such; it is described as “intelligence reports” that “U.S. officials” were actively investigating — i.e., Steele’s reports were described in a way that would lead readers to assume they were official U.S. intelligence reports. But there clearly was official American government involvement: Isikoff’s story asserts that U.S. officials were briefing members of Congress about these allegations that Page was meeting with Kremlin officials on Trump’s behalf. The story elaborated that “questions about Page come amid mounting concerns within the U.S. intelligence community about Russian cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee.” Those would be the cyberattacks alleged — in the dossier on which Congress was being briefed — to be the result of a Trump-Russia conspiracy in which Page was complicit.

Isikoff obviously checked with his government sources to verify what Simpson had told him about the ongoing investigation that was based on these “intelligence reports.” His story recounts that “a senior U.S. law enforcement official” confirmed that Page’s alleged contacts with Russian officials were “on our radar screen. . . . It’s being looked at.”

Final Points to Consider
After his naval career, Page worked in investing, including several years at Merrill Lynch in Moscow. As my column last weekend detailed, he has been an apologist for the Russian regime, championing appeasement for the sake of better U.S.–Russia relations. Page has acknowledged that, during his brief trip to Moscow in July 2016, he ran into some Russian government officials, among many old Russian friends and acquaintances. Yet he vehemently denies meeting with Sechin and Diveykin. (While Sechin’s name is well known to investors in the Russian energy sector, Page says that he has never met him and that he had never even heard Diveykin’s name until the Steele dossier was publicized in early 2017.) Furthermore, Page denies even knowing Paul Manafort, much less being used by Manafort as an intermediary between the Trump campaign and Russia. Page has filed a federal defamation lawsuitagainst the press outlets that published the dossier, has denied the dossier allegations in FBI interviews, and has reportedly testified before the grand jury in Robert Mueller’s special-counsel investigation.

Even though the FISA warrant targeting Page is classified and the FBI and DOJ have resisted informing Congress about it, some of its contents were illegally and selectively leaked to the Washington Post in April 2017 by sources described as “law enforcement and other U.S. officials.” According to the Post:

The government’s application for the surveillance order targeting Page included a lengthy declaration that laid out investigators’ basis for believing that Page was an agent of the Russian government and knowingly engaged in clandestine intelligence activities on behalf of Moscow, officials said.

Among other things, the application cited contacts that he had with a Russian intelligence operative in New York City in 2013, officials said. Those contacts had earlier surfaced in a federal espionage case brought by the Justice Department against the intelligence operative and two other Russian agents. In addition, the application said Page had other contacts with Russian operatives that have not been publicly disclosed, officials said.

I’ve emphasized that last portion because it strongly implies that the FISA application included information from the Steele dossier. That is, when the Post speaks of Page’s purported “other contacts with Russian operatives that have not been publicly disclosed,” this is very likely a reference to the meetings with Sechin and Diveykin that Page denies having had — the meetings described in the dossier. Do not be confused by the fact that, by the time of this Post report, the Steele-dossier allegations had already been disclosed to the public by BuzzFeed (in January 2017). The Post story is talking about what the DOJ and FBI put in the FISA application back in September 2016. At that time, the meetings alleged in the dossier had not been publicly disclosed.

Two final points.

First: The FISA application’s reliance on 2013 events as a basis for suspicion in 2016 that Page was a foreign agent of Russia is curious. The 2013 investigation involved Russian intelligence operatives who were trying to recruit business people, such as Page, as sources — i.e., Page was being approached by Russia, not acting on Russia’s behalf. In the 2013 investigation, Page met with a Russian agent, whom he apparently did not realize was an agent. They met at an energy symposium in New York and Page did networking-type things: exchanging contact information and providing his jejune assessment of the energy sector’s prospects. The Russian agent described Page as an “idiot” in a recorded conversation. According to Page, he cooperated with the FBI and helped prosecutors in the case against one of the suspects — claims that the government could easily disprove if he is lying.

Second: In reporting on the FISA warrant that targeted Page, the Washington Post asserted that “an application for electronic surveillance under [FISA] need not show evidence of a crime.” That is not accurate.

Under federal surveillance law (sec. 1801 of Title 50, U.S. Code), the probable-cause showing the government must make to prove that a person is an agent of a foreign power is different for Americans than for aliens. If the alleged agent is an alien, section 1801(b)(1) applies, and this means that no crime need be established; the government need only show that the target is acting on behalf of a foreign power in the sense of abetting its clandestine anti-American activities.

By contrast, if the alleged agent is an American citizen, such as Page, section 1801(b)(2) applies: The government must show not only that the person is engaged in clandestine activities on behalf of a foreign power but also that these activities (1) “involve or may involve a violation of the criminal statutes of the United States”; (2) involve the preparation for or commission of sabotage or international terrorism; (3) involve using a false identity to enter or operate in the United States on behalf of a foreign power; or (4) involve conspiring with or aiding and abetting another person in the commission of these criminal activities.All of these involve evidence of a crime.

The only known suspicions about Page that have potential criminal implications are the allegations in the dossier, which potentially include hacking, bribery, fraud, and racketeering — if Russia were formally considered an enemy of the United States, they would include treason.

The FBI always has information we do not know about. But given that Page has not been accused of a crime, and that the DOJ and FBI would have to have alleged some potential criminal activity to justify a FISA warrant targeting the former U.S. naval intelligence officer, it certainly seems likely that the Steele dossier was the source of this allegation.

In conclusion, while there is a dearth of evidence to date that the Trump campaign colluded in Russia’s cyberespionage attack on the 2016 election, there is abundant evidence that the Obama administration colluded with the Clinton campaign to use the Steele dossier as a vehicle for court-authorized monitoring of the Trump campaign — and to fuel a pre-election media narrative that U.S. intelligence agencies believed Trump was scheming with Russia to lift sanctions if he were elected president. Congress should continue pressing for answers, and President Trump should order the Justice Department and FBI to cooperate rather than — what’s the word? — resist.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.


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1:21 AM 12/15/2017 – The Secret History of the Russian Consulate in San Francisco

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The Secret History of the Russian Consulate in San Francisco Foreign Policy

mikenova shared this story from Comments on: The Secret History of the Russian Consulate in San Francisco.

The first thing you need to understand about the building that, until very recently, housed the Russian Consulate in San Francisco — a city where topography is destiny, where wealth and power concentrate, quite literally, at the top — is its sense of elevation. Brick-fronted, sentinel-like, and six stories high, it sits on a hill in Pacific Heights, within one of the city’s toniest zip codes. This is a neighborhood that radiates a type of wealth, power, and prestige that long predates the current wave of nouveau riche tech millionaires, or the wave before that, or the one before that. It is old and solid and comfortable with its privilege; its denizens know they have a right to rule. Indeed, from Pacific Heights, one can simultaneously gaze out on the city, the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge — and, beyond, the vast, frigid Pacific.

The second thing you need to understand about the closure of Russia’s San Francisco consulate is that, after the Trump administration summarily announced on Aug. 31 that it would shutter the building 48 hours later, the news coverage that followed almost uniformly focused on two things: the dumbfounding heat (this city, cool and grey, is in California but not of it) and the black smoke wheezing from the consulate’s chimney, as employees rushed to burn up, one assumes, anything confidential or inculpatory.

People were right to look upward, toward the building’s roof, but their focus was misplaced: It was, in reality, the motley array of antennas and satellites and electronic transmittal devices dotting the rooftop — objects viewed with deep suspicion and consternation by U.S. intelligence community officials for decades — that tells the story of the Russian Consulate in San Francisco, not the ash drifting listlessly over the neighboring mansions.

I rushed to the consulate the day the closure announcement was made and watched the building sit impassively in the heat, while the media crews cooled off in the shade. A suspiciously large number of delivery vans were circling, and there was an unusual concentration of loiterers (in their cars, on computers; in biking gear, across the street) on an otherwise very quiet block. Pedestrians walked by, snapping photos on their iPhones.

San Francisco, it was clear, was now embroiled in the increasingly feverish diplomatic confrontation between the two nuclear superpowers. In July, Russian President Vladimir Putin had announced, in an interview on state-run television, that he was decreasing by 755 the total number of personnel working at U.S. diplomatic facilities in his country. Closing the San Francisco consulate (and two smaller diplomatic annexes) was the Trump administration’s retaliation for this move. Putin, for his part, claimed that he was merely responding to the Barack Obama administration’s December 2016 shutteringof two Russian recreational compounds on the East Coast; the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, identified as spies, from the country (this list included four employees of the San Francisco consulate, including the building’s “chef”); and a new round of congressional sanctions. The Obama administration, of course, made these moves in retaliation for the unprecedented Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

But why the focus on San Francisco? Why not close one of Russia’s other three consulates, in New York, Seattle, or Houston? And why now?

The answer, I discovered, appears to revolve around an intensive, sustained, and mystifying pattern of espionage emanating from the San Francisco consulate.

The answer, I discovered, appears to revolve around an intensive, sustained, and mystifying pattern of espionage emanating from the San Francisco consulate. According to multiple former intelligence officials, while these “strange activities” were not limited to San Francisco or its environs, they originated far more frequently from the San Francisco consulate than any other Russian diplomatic facility in the United States, including the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C. As one former intelligence source put it, suspected Russian spies were “doing peculiar things in places they shouldn’t be.” Russian officials in Washington failed to respond to multiple attempts via email and phone for comment.

In the course of reporting this story, I spoke to over half a dozen former high-level U.S. intelligence officials about the closure of the consulate. Some of these individuals, almost all of whom worked on counterintelligence in San Francisco, spoke on the record generally about Russian espionage in Northern California; extensive conversations with other former intelligence officials occurred on background, in order to discuss sensitive matters related to recent Russian activities in the Bay Area and beyond. These sources confirmed that the San Francisco consulate served a unique role in Russian intelligence-gathering operations in the United States, as an important, and perhaps unrivaled, hub for its technical collection efforts here. But, as I discovered, it was what these efforts entailed that is key to understanding why San Francisco — the oldest and most established Russian Consulate in the United States — was singled out for closure.

For many decades, U.S. officials have been keenly aware that, because of the consulate’s proximity to Silicon Valley, educational institutions such as Stanford and Berkeley, and the large number of nearby defense contractors and researchers — including two Energy Department-affiliated nuclear weapons laboratories — Russia has used San Francisco as a focal point for espionage activity. The modalities of Russian espionage in the Bay Area have historically been well known to U.S. counterintelligence personnel, who understand (at least generally) what the Russians will target and how they will try to achieve their objectives.

One former senior counterintelligence executive, for example, recalled the “disproportionate number” of science- and technology-focused Russian intelligence officers based in San Francisco, some of whom were experts in encryption and were tasked with identifying new developments in such technologies in Silicon Valley. A second former intelligence official noted the long-standing interest of Russian intelligence operatives in San Francisco in building relationships with local tech experts and venture capital firms. What has evolved, noted multiple former officials, is the intensity of Russian efforts. According to Kathleen Puckett, who spent two decades working on counterintelligence in the Bay Area, “there was more aggressiveness by the Russians in the 2000s than back in the 1980s.”

Suspected Russian intelligence officers, often fully aware they were being surveilled by the FBI, began showcasing inexplicable and bizarre behaviors in remote, forlorn, or just seemingly random places.

Starting roughly 10 years ago — and perhaps going even longer back, according to multiple former U.S. intelligence officials — something changed. Suspected Russian intelligence officers, often fully aware they were being surveilled by the FBI, began showcasing inexplicable and bizarre behaviors in remote, forlorn, or just seemingly random places.

It is highly likely, sources told me, that the consulate’s closure was linked to U.S. intelligence officials definitively proving long-held suspicions about the objectives of these Russian activities — or that officials could simply no longer countenance these extraordinarily aggressive intelligence-collection efforts and seized on the opportunity to disrupt them after Putin’s latest diplomatic salvo.

What seems clear is that when it came to Russian spying, San Francisco was at the very forefront of innovation.

Imagine driving up and over Mount Tamalpais, the iconic 2,500-foot peak located just north of San Francisco, then switch-backing precipitously through a redwood-studded ravine until, over the horizon, you spot a giant, shimmering, curvilinear beachfront. This is Stinson Beach, a 45-minute drive from the city. Now imagine that, standing out at the water’s edge, is a man in a suit — a man known to U.S. intelligence as a Russian intelligence officer. He has a small device in his hand. He stares out at the ocean for a few minutes, turns around, walks to his car, and leaves.

This account, confirmed to me by multiple former U.S. counterintelligence officials, is one example of a spate of such odd behaviors. Suspected Russian intelligence operatives — under diplomatic cover as well as travelers visiting the country — were also found idling in wheat fields and in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, among other places. Russia has a “long and successful record of using legal travelers” for intelligence-gathering purposes, Steven Hall, the CIA’s former chief of Russia operations, told me. “This ranges, for example, from someone who gets a visa to do a scholarly presentation to someone who says they want to visit Napa Valley on their vacation,” he said.

The driver stood next to his car, not purchasing any fuel. The passenger approached a tree, circling it a few times.

Some suspected Russian intelligence officers were found engaging in weird, repetitive behaviors in gas stations in dusky, arid burgs off Interstate 5, California’s main north-south artery. In one remarkably strange case, said one former intelligence official, two suspected Russian spies were surveilled pulling into a gas station. The driver stood next to his car, not purchasing any fuel. The passenger approached a tree, circling it a few times. Then they both got back into the car and drove away. Suspected Russian intelligence operatives would perform the same strange rituals multiple times at the same gas stations.

Multiple theories about these activities emerged. One was that the Russians were trying to confuse and overwhelm their FBI surveillance teams, in order to gauge just how extensive their coverage really was — in other words, to test the capacity of their counterspies. Another theory revolved around a long-standing communications technique among Russian spies, known as “burst transmissions,” wherein intelligence operatives transmit data to one another via short-wave radio communications. But for these, said another former intelligence official, you need a line of sight, and such transmissions are only effective at relatively short distances.

Many of these behaviors, however, didn’t seem to fit a mold. For one, the FBI couldn’t establish that these suspected Russian intelligence operatives — some of whom were spotted with little devices in their hands, others without — were engaging in any communications. But according to multiple sources, one recurrent and worrying feature of these activities was that they often happened to correspond to places where underground nodes connected the country’s fiber-optic cable network. (In a June articlePolitico’s Ali Watkins reported a few instances of these strange behaviors, tracing them back to the summer of 2016, as well as their potential connection to the fiber-optic network.)

Over time, multiple former intelligence officials told me, the FBI concluded that Russia was engaged in a massive, long-running, and continuous data-collection operation: a mission to comprehensively locate all of America’s underground communications nodes, and to map out and catalogue the points in the fiber-optic network where data were being transferred. They were “obviously trying to determine how sophisticated our intelligence network is,” said one former official, and these activities “helped them put the dots together.”

Sometimes, multiple former U.S. intelligence officials told me, Russian operatives appeared to be actively attempting to penetrate communications infrastructure — especially where undersea cables came ashore on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. They were “pretty sure” said a former intelligence official that, on at least one occasion on land, a Russian operative successfully broke into a data closet (a telecommunications and hardware storage center) as part of an attempt to penetrate one of these systems.

But what was “really unnerving,” said the former senior counterintelligence executive, was the Russians’ focus on communication nodes near military bases. According to multiple sources, U.S. officials eventually concluded that Moscow’s ultimate goal was to have the capacity to sever communications, paralyzing the U.S. military’s command and control systems, in case of a confrontation between the two powers. “If they can shut down our grid, and we go blind,” noted a former intelligence official, “they are closer to leveling the playing field,” because the United States is widely considered to possess superior command and control capabilities. When I described this purported effort to map out the fiber-optic network to Hall, the former senior CIA official, he seemed unfazed. “In the context of the Russians trying to conduct hybrid warfare in the United States, using cyber-types of tools,” he said, “none of what you described would surprise me.”

Multiple former intelligence officials also told me that U.S. officials were concerned that Russian intelligence operatives would provide these coordinates to deep-cover “illegals” — that is, Russian spies in the country under non-diplomatic cover (think of the Anna Chapman network) — or travelers, who might then carry out a sabotage campaign. There were also concerns that Russia could share these coordinates with other hostile foreign-intelligence services, such as a potential illegal Iranian network operating within the country.

As these strange activities persisted over the last decade, former intelligence officials told me, the FBI began to collate and compare surveillance reports from across the country, overlaying them with Russian flight paths occurring as part of the overt Treaty on Open Skies collection program.

The treaty, which entered into force in 2002, allows both the United States and Russia (and 32 other signatories) to conduct a limited number of unarmed surveillance and reconnaissance flights over each other’s territory per year. (According to the State Department, as of 2016 the United States had flown a total of 196 such flights over Russia, while Russia had flown 71 flights over the United States.) The methods of collection — video, photographic, infrared, and radar — are highly regulated and circumscribed, and the country whose territory is being flown over must approve the requested flight path. Flights are monitored in person by representatives of the host government. Afterward, upon request, the collected data must be shared with all treaty signatories. Open Skies was conceived, essentially, as an arms-control agreement: an attempt to decrease, through greater transparency, the uncertainties surrounding each great power’s array of military forces, which could lead to an erroneous nuclear exchange.

But U.S. intelligence officials began to notice a disturbing pattern vis-à-vis these “strange activities” and Open Skies: Suspected Russian operatives were appearing in places that had recently been, or were later, part of Russian flyovers. If these operatives were on the ground prior to the flight, U.S. officials suspected that they were likely helping shape coordinates for subsequent Open Skies missions, multiple former intelligence officials told me. If they appeared afterward, U.S. officials believed that the Russians had identified a potential object of interest (such as a fiber-optic node) and wanted in-person confirmation on what previously been identified during a flyover. There is simply “no substitute for someone literally going to locations and recording GPS coordinates,” said the former senior counterintelligence executive. “From 30,000 feet, you’re not necessarily going to have accuracy if you’re pinpointing a portal.”

Not only were suspected spies visiting the same places that Russian surveillance planes were flying over as part of their Open Skies missions, but they were also appearing directly beneath these planes, in real time, while these flights were ongoing.

Eventually, U.S intelligence officials hit on another series of correlations: Not only were suspected spies visiting the same places that Russian surveillance planes were flying over as part of their Open Skies missions, but they were also appearing directly beneath these planes, in real time, while these flights were ongoing. “The idea was that some kind of communication could have been taking place between the plane and guy on the ground,” one former intelligence official told me. “The hard part was to confirm exactly what they were doing.” (Foreign Policy could not verify whether U.S. officials were able to definitively establish if, or how, such communications indeed occurred.)

One theory, relayed to me by multiple sources, was that the Russians might have been using the flights as a communication platform — airplanes can act as a kind of cell tower, the former officials noted, receiving and transmitting data. If Moscow was concerned that U.S. counterintelligence was able to intercept encrypted data from secure communications facilities based in their diplomatic compounds, the Russians might have been seeking to bypass this possibility by secretly routing data through the passing airplanes. “If a U.S. monitor is watching three functions aboard an Open Skies flight,” worried one former intelligence official, “maybe the fourth function is covert — out of sight and out of mind of observers — and while the monitor is looking at these other functions, the transmission and receipt of data is occurring under their nose.”

If true, these actions by Russia would appear to violate the spirit of the Treaty on Open Skies, if not the letter itself. The treaty has strict restrictions on the types of collection that is permitted, and any covert ground-to-air communication or data transfer occurring between an aircraft and a suspected intelligence officer located below would seem to clearly contravene the agreement. This entire data-collection operation for the western United States, said one former senior counterintelligence executive, was being managed out of the San Francisco consulate.

Russia has aggressively exploited its diplomatic presence in San Francisco for decades, and the United States has historically responded in kind. In 1983, for instance, the State Department issued new guidelines forbidding Soviet diplomats and journalists from visiting Silicon Valley. In the Ronald Reagan era, the consulate figured prominently in a number of sordid cases featuring American turncoats — including those of Allen John Davies, a former Air Force sergeant who offered the Soviets information on a secret U.S. reconnaissance program, and Richard Miller, the first FBI agent ever to be convicted of espionage, who was sleeping with — and passing information to — a Soviet agent being run out of San Francisco. In 1986, 13 San Francisco-based Soviet diplomats, accused of spying, were expelled by the Reagan administration; soon after, the Soviets publicly accused the FBI of operating a sophisticated bugging system in San Francisco via a tunnel it had secretly bored under the consulate. (“Obviously” the building was bugged around this time, said Rick Smith, who worked on Russian counterintelligence for the FBI in San Francisco from 1972 to 1992.)

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Soviets’ interest in San Francisco “was primarily about economic, and not really political, intelligence,” said Oleg Kalugin, a former KGB major general who served as the deputy (and later acting) chief of the KGB station at the Soviet Embassy in Washington from 1975 to 1980. “The main priority of Russian intelligence at that point was industrial development, technological development, to get equal to the United States,” said Kalugin.

Quietly but unquestionably, San Francisco had become a locus of Russian spying. “In recent years,” states a 1984 UPI article, “there have been frequent reports that 50 or more spies report to the San Francisco consulate general.” In fact, wrote the San Jose Mercury in 1985, “FBI officials believe Soviet spying on the West Coast is controlled” from this location. “Agents say the Soviets eavesdrop on the Silicon Valley from the roof of the consulate using sophisticated electronics made in the United States.”

The giveaway, even then, was the roof: covered with satellite dishes, antennae, and makeshift shacks, these devices pointed to a robust Russian signals-intelligence presence.

The giveaway, even then, was the roof: covered with satellite dishes, antennae, and makeshift shacks, these devices pointed to a robust Russian signals-intelligence presence. (The shacks, which persisted until recently, one former intelligence official told me, were erected to conceal the shape of the transmission devices from U.S. intelligence agencies, which would occasionally conduct reconnaissance overhead.)

During that time, “there was nothing but antennas and signals” on the top of the building, recalled former FBI agent LaRae Quy, who spent nearly two decades working counterintelligence in San Francisco. “It was embarrassing that we would allow that to happen. But I guess that’s what the Russians did for us as well.” Quy, who retired in 2006, also told me that at least 50 percent of all San Francisco consulate personnel in the 1980s were full- or part-time spies.

This focus on signals and technical intelligence persisted until much more recently, multiple former U.S. intelligence officials told me. “It was almost like everyone they had there was a technical guy, as opposed to a human-intelligence guy,” one former official recalled. “The way they protected those people — they were rarely out in the community. It was work, home, work, home. When they’d go out and about, to play hockey or to drink, they’d be in a group. It was hard to penetrate.” The same official also noted that San Francisco was integral to the discovery by U.S. intelligence of a new class of Russian “technical-type” intelligence officer, working for the rough Russian equivalent of the National Security Agency, before this organization was eventually folded by Putin back into the FSB. This group, which was not based at the consulate itself, was identified via its members’ travel patterns — they would visit the Bay Area frequently — and the types of individuals, all in high-tech development, with whom they sought contact. According to this former U.S. official, these Russian intelligence officers were particularly interested in discussing cryptology and the Next Generation Internet program.

But it was the consulate’s location — perched high atop that hill in Pacific Heights, with a direct line of sight out to the ocean — that likely determined the concentration of signals activity. Certain types of highly encrypted communications cannot be transmitted over long distances, and multiple sources told me that U.S. officials believed that Russian intelligence potentially took advantage of the consulate’s location to communicate with submarines, trawlers, or listening posts located in international waters off the Northern California coast. (Russian intelligence officers may also have been remotely transmitting data to spy stations offshore, multiple former intelligence officials told me, explaining the odd behaviors on Stinson Beach.) It is also “very possible,” said one former intelligence official, that the Russians were using the San Francisco consulate to monitor the movements, and perhaps communications, of the dozen or so U.S. nuclear-armed submarines that routinely patrol the Pacific from their base in Washington state.

All in all, said this same official, it was “very likely” that the consulate functioned for Russia as a classified communications hub for the entire western United States — and, perhaps, the entire western part of the hemisphere.

The closure of the San Francisco consulate cannot, of course, be decoupled from the political circumstances surrounding it. Because of the unique, and uniquely unsettling, history and attitude of U.S. President Donald Trump toward Russia — the one country treated with forbearance by a president who blithely aggrieves adversaries and allies alike — the administration’s actions in San Francisco were viewed with perplexity and suspicion by a number of the former intelligence officials with whom I spoke.

First, some note, there is the issue of retaliatory balance: In these kinds of diplomatic conflicts, there is an expectation of parity in terms of the damage you inflict on your antagonist. Putin’s move — to order a 755-person staff decrease among U.S. diplomatic mission employees in Russia — appeared far more aggressive than it actually was. The U.S. government employs hundreds of Russians (knowing full well that some may be spies) to help staff its diplomatic facilities in that country, and almost all the affected individuals under these cuts were Russian nationals, not U.S. diplomats or intelligence officials in Russia under diplomatic cover. The sting of this decision was further lessened by the fact that, as one source told me, U.S. intelligence officials have been pushing the State Department for years to decrease local staff in its diplomatic facilities in Russia because of ubiquitous concerns about espionage. Putin’s decision, then, was not without risks for Russian intelligence-gathering operations themselves. “The downside for the Russians is that [by ordering the staffing decrease] you’re the cutting number of potential informants,” noted Hall, the CIA’s former chief of Russia operations.

The outright shuttering of the San Francisco consulate by the Trump administration, then, seems to be a more severe countermeasure than the Russian actions that immediately precipitated it. The closure announcement, Hall said, was “great news, and long overdue.” Stephanie Douglas, who served as the FBI special agent in charge of the San Francisco Division from 2009 to 2012, characterized the administration’s decision as “incredibly aggressive and pretty stunning, honestly.” It was “a blow to the Russians to have this consulate close, in particular,” the former senior counterintelligence executive said. Another former intelligence official called it “unprecedented.” Compounding the mystery further has been Russia’s relatively muted response; a sign, this last former official speculated, that Putin may still be holding out hope for some kind of grand bargain with the Trump administration. “If they don’t react to closing of the San Francisco consulate,” wondered the former official, “what’s the payback they’re waiting for?”

The incongruities here are unsettling. On the one hand, Trump’s decision to shut down the San Francisco consulate was far more consequential and assertive than most realized at the time; on the other hand, there is no evidence — nor any good reason to believe, given his past proclivities — that Trump himself understood the gravity of his own move. “Based on my other interactions with West Wing officials, and the depth of their understanding on the issues in general, I would be very surprised personally if President Trump had any … comprehension of that at all,” said Jeffrey Edmonds, who served as the National Security Council’s director for Russia until April 2017.

Edmonds suggested the locus of the closure decision was likely the National Security Council’s Principals Committee — particularly Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis — and that the move was thereafter delivered to Trump as a fait accompli. “I’ve heard that, generally, when Tillerson and Mattis come to an agreement and present something to the president, he’s usually pretty on board with that,” Edmonds said.

One former intelligence official offered that the consulate’s closure may be a signal from Trump to Robert Mueller, a way for the president to show the special counsel that his administration is not in thrall to Russian interests, financially or personally.

This National Security Council-centered account was the most benign theory I heard. One former intelligence official offered that the consulate’s closure may be a signal from Trump to Robert Mueller, a way for the president to show the special counsel appointed to investigate election-year collusion with Moscow that his administration is not in thrall to Russian interests, financially or personally. A second former official speculated that the closure will be temporary and that after, say, a future terrorist attack in the United States, Moscow might ostentatiously offer to provide intelligence on the perpetrators, and the Trump administration — grateful for Russia’s cooperation and assistance — might then return the building to its erstwhile tenants.

These former U.S. officials were as united in their opinion about Russia’s long-term objectives as they were divided about Trump’s short-term intentions. Every former intelligence officer I spoke with for this story was confident that Russia will continue aggressive human-intelligence-gathering operations in the Bay Area, likely through individuals under non-official cover — say, via engineers or data scientists. “Silicon Valley loves Russian programmers,” remarked one former intelligence official.

The dynamics and methods they employ will necessarily change, these officials said, but San Francisco and Silicon Valley are simply too target-rich, too valuable, and too soft for them to cease activities here. The spy war will endure; the Russians will, over time, rebuild their networks, adjusting their activities to account for their lack of local diplomatic cover. Ultimately, the circumstances surrounding the closure of the San Francisco consulate are just one piece in a much larger, and far more shadowy, antagonism between the two nuclear superpowers. “The great game is upon us again,” one former intelligence official said to me. “San Francisco has always been a focal point for Russian interests. The work won’t stop.”

Zach Dorfman is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and an investigative journalist. Follow him on Twitter: @zachsdorfman.

The other great mystery of Strzoks texts

mikenova shared this story from Post Editorial Board New York Post.

Here’s a puzzle about the texts that got Peter Strzok in so much trouble: Why was the FBI’s top counterintelligence guy, an expert in secure communications, making radioactive comments via cellphone?

In any event, the FBI inspector general came across the texts and informed Strzok’s then-superior, Special Counsel Bob Mueller — who quite rightly kicked him off the “collusion” probe team.

The bureau stuck him in an HR job while the IG investigates, though now Congress is all over the matter, too.

And all for good reason: The texts show clear bias against now-President Trump, and for Hillary Clinton. At least one, mentioning an “insurance policy” if Trump won, casts doubt on the FBI work that wound up leading to Mueller’s probe.

That is, his foolishness (he even did it on his work phone) led to the exact opposite result of what any anti-Trumper would want.

Then, too, this married man was texting with his mistress, a top FBI lawyer. Was the affair another part of a life going off-track? (It even technically made him a security risk, since it left him vulnerable to blackmail.)

We have to trust the IG and Congress to get to the bottom of it all. But at a minimum it leaves a taint on every political case Strzok worked on, including the Hillary e-mail probe.

Ironically, it was the IG’s review of how the FBI handled that Clinton investigation that exposed the texts. That’s right: Strzok was on a case centered on careless communications security when he was himself so careless.

Whether there was any wrongdoing, we’ll soon find out. But either way, one thing is abundantly clear: Strzok was way, way off his intelligence game.

Deutsche Bank – Google Search

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Deutsche Bank Had Flagged Manafort-Related Transactions

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Deutsche Bank AG earlier this year flagged around $30 million in potentially suspicious transactions as part of an internal investigation into its role as a conduit for money involving Paul Manafort or people and entities connected to him, according to a person briefed on the matter. The findings, which were …
December 14, 2017

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Four dead and 24 injured after school bus is hit by train near …

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The French Interior Ministry has so far confirmed four children have died and another 24 have been injured. The Pyrenees-Orientales authority tweeted that the collision occurred Thursday afternoon on a railway crossing at a small town some 9 miles west of Perpignan, close to the border with Spain.
Four French children killed after train mows into school bus
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Three dead as school bus, train collide in France: police source

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PERPIGNANFrance: At least three people were killed and several injured on Thursday after a train crashed into a school bus at a level crossing in southern France, a police … The bus was struck by the train in Millas about 18 kilometres west (11 miles) of the city of Perpignan, close to the Spanish border.
FBI News Review: 2:40 PM 12/14/2017 M.N.: The answer is: YES, and without any doubts! The FBI Did Become A KGB-Type Operation Under Obama! Investigate him personally, investigate the FBI, and investigate how it happened.

mikenova shared this story from Trump Investigations from mikenova (31 sites).

M.N.: The answer is: “YES”, and without any doubts! The FBI Did Become A ‘KGB-Type Operation’ Under Obama! Investigate him personally, investigate the FBI, and investigate how it happened.  “I think the FBI has been compromised,” Fitton said on Fox News @ Night. “Forget about shutting down Mr. Mueller. Do we need to shut down the FBI because it was … Continue reading“2:40 PM 12/14/2017 – M.N.: The answer is: “YES”, and without any doubts! The FBI Did Become A ‘KGB-Type Operation’ Under Obama! Investigate him personally, investigate the FBI, and investigate how it happened. “

 FBI News Review

Democracy and the Machinations of Mind Control | by Anthony Barnett | NYR Daily

mikenova shared this story from The New York Review of Books.

The British are catching up with an American awareness of the intertwined political influence of the secretive super-rich, social media, and the Kremlin. In America, illicit support for Trump has been investigated by intelligence agencies, Justice Department officials, and major media organizations. Uncovering election interference in Brexit-Britain has been a more freelance business. About a year ago, Carole Cadwalladr, a regular contributor to The Observer newspaper, started researching the “right-wing fake news ecosystem” and its capture of web searches through Google especially. This line of inquiry has also been followed by ByLine, a crowdfunded investigative journalism initiative, which hosts a regular column by J.J. Patrick, who has been mapping the scale and penetration of Russian trolls and bots sowing hatred and division via social media.

Cadwalladr’s reporting led her to uncover the part played by Cambridge Analytica in the Brexit referendum. This company, London-based but US-owned (principally by the hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, who was one of Donald Trump’s biggest donors), generated the “220 million” data setsof US voters’ details that underpinned Trump’s Facebook campaign. This employed so-called black ads only seen by targeted voters, a process that bypasses and undermines the shared political community essential for democracy. Cadwalladr found that the firm had also acted on behalf of the Vote Leave campaign in Britain—though Cambridge Analytica denied elements of her reporting.

In a follow-up article, she described how “a website called CNSnews.com… dominated Google’s search algorithm,” flooding it with reports that established media outlets are “fake” and “dead”; this site was backed, too, by Mercer’s foundation. Cadwalladr also met with Andy Wigmore, who had been the director of communications for Nigel Farage, the former head of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and leading Leave campaigner who has subsequently emerged as a Trump acolyte. Cadwalladr learned that Farage was friends with Mercer and, as Wigmore told her, that Mercer had directed Cambridge Analytica to help the Brexit campaign. According to the UK’s election law, all gifts in kind must be declared for their monetary worth and none can come from overseas donors. The UK’s Electoral Commission is now investigating this apparent double breach; Cambridge Analytica, meanwhile, is pursuing legal action against The Observer.

In March, Farage was spotted going into the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has taken refuge. As Farage left the embassy, a BuzzFeed News journalist asked what he was doing there. Farage replied that he could not remember. In an overview in May, Cadwalladr pieced together various ties between the Trump campaign, Nigel Farage, and Russian “influence” efforts (including the alleged leaking of hacked information to WikiLeaks). British democracy, she concluded, had been “hijacked”:

There are three strands to this story. How the foundations of an authoritarian surveillance state are being laid in the US. How British democracy was subverted through a covert, far-reaching plan of coordination enabled by a US billionaire. And how we are in the midst of a massive land grab for power by billionaires via our data. Data which is being silently amassed, harvested and stored. Whoever owns this data owns the future.

As Cadwalladr was developing her thesis about this new machinery of political subversion, the UK editor of openDemocracy, Adam Ramsay, made a discovery of his own (I was the first editor of openDemocracybut was not involved with this story). With Peter Geoghegan, Ramsay showed how large sums of money were sent to the Vote Leave campaign during the EU referendum via a small, hard-line Loyalist party in Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). (By curious serendipity, Prime Minister Theresa May was forced to form a coalition government with the DUP after her Conservative Party lost its parliamentary majority in the general election of June 2017.) The loophole-ridden regulations governing British elections permit Northern Irish parties the unique privilege of not having to declare the source of their donations. A policy once justified by security concerns during the Troubles was abused by as-yet unidentified Brexit supporters to channel a secret, roughly half-million-dollar donation through the DUP to be spent mostly in mainland Britain.

In September, openDemocracy followed up with further reporting on a story originally broken last year by the satirical and muck-raking magazine Private Eye. A twenty-three-year-old fashion student had set up his own campaign for Brexit, which he called “BeLeave.” During the period immediately before a referendum, such operations must register with the Electoral Commission. They are permitted a maximum expenditure of £700,000 (about $935,000), while the designated lead campaign on each side is permitted up to £7 million ($9.35 million). Vote Leave led for the Brexit side and as it reached its limit, it gave £625,000 ($835,000) to the tiny BeLeave, that apparently paid it to AggregateIQ, a Canadian data analysis company that was assisting Vote Leave. AggregateIQ is, again, linked to Robert Mercer. The protests that followed this openDemocracy report led, at length, to the Electoral Commission’s opening an inquiry into the payment; openDemocracy also published an analysis of the dubious finances of Arron Banks, the major British funder of UKIP and its anti-immigrant call for Brexit. On the basis of Banks’s multimillion-pound funding of Brexit causes, one lawmaker called for the Electoral Commission to investigate whether Russian meddling was involved in the Leave campaign. Banks has dismissed reports of Russian money as “bollocks.”

As Cadwalladr continues to report on the effects of Vote Leave’s “dark campaign” and its funding, she acknowledges others’ arguments that Brexit was also caused by, for example, “rising inequality, frustration with elites, economic uncertainty.” I would add to those factors the resurgence of a particular English nationalism based on the dream of a resurgent “Great Britain,” which was seduced by the pro-Brexit campaign slogan “Take back control.” Nationalist sentiment of this sort will not be undermined by any revelations about Russian trouble-making or covert support from American billionaires—any more than Trump’s base seems likely to abandon the president over what the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller may discover.

In both the US and the UK, investigations into the deployment of these shadowy forces are still in progress. In close contests, every influence counts. There is, therefore, an understandable temptation to emphasize that without secretive billionaires, or the Russians, or Facebook, the outcomes of the Brexit referendum and the US presidential election would have been different. And as elections are likely to carry on being close-run, it is important to track down and expose systemic manipulation. But it does not follow that slush funds, algorithms, and alleged conspiracies were primary causes of the electoral shocks of 2016. Nearly 63 million Americans voted for Trump, although Hillary Clinton outspent him by half a billion dollars. In the UK, 52 percent of voters backed Brexit. A widespread revolt against elite entitlement and genuine resentment against a rigged system are the most important explanations in both cases.

Trump, at least, can be voted out of office in three years’ time. Britain’s referendum decision to quit the European Union will not be so easily reversed. Should the UK leave the EU on schedule at the end of March 2019, impoverishment and humiliation are likely; even a successful Brexit, if such is possible, will pitch the UK into permanent competition with the Continent. Either outcome is repugnant for large majorities of voters in London, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. With the stakes so high, anything that undermines the legitimacy of Brexit fills its Remain-voting opponents with hopes of a reprieve. This could be a dangerous delusion.

The emerging picture of efforts to manipulate the outcomes of the US election and the Brexit referendum leads to an awkward paradox. For the first time in a long time, voters who recognized the rigged nature of the system voted in large enough numbers to overthrow “the swamp” of “politics as usual”; at the same time, the system itself was perhaps more rigged than ever, thanks to the new-fangled methods. While it is vital to expose how these worked, it is even more important also to develop a politics that validates voters’ legitimate repudiation of a corrupt establishment, rather than dismisses them as ignorant and gullible. The risk of exaggerating the effect of novel methods of subversion is that it will only reinforce cynicism about politics and government in general—and that would be a win for billionaires like Robert Mercer, and their friends and helpers like Nigel Farage, and all they stand for.

This is the trap from which democracy in Britain and America must now extricate itself. There will have to be a credible alternative and not a return to the status quo that led to the revolts of 2016. In Britain, the advocates of Brexit captured a wish for self-government with their slogan “take back control”—a desire for democratic accountability that must be freed from the grasp of demagogy, not derided. As for the US, Trump pledged in Pennsylvania that he would speak for “the millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache.” By all means, mock his hypocrisy, but the only way to combat his influence effectively will be by a politics that does speak for millions of workers.

It is possible to spring the trap. Behind both Brexit and Trump was a widespread repudiation of entitlement. Part of its energy in Britain has now gathered around a resurgent Labour Party, which made unexpected gains in June’s general election despite vicious attacks from the right-wing press on its leader, Jeremy Corbyn. In the US, the current of opposition and resistance is running through the #MeToo wave of revulsion at sexual harassment and male abuse of power. A groper-in-chief president faces his own public reckoning, as more and more voices—this week, a blistering denunciation from the editorial board of USA Today—call out his presumption of the right to belittle and humiliate. Trump remains in office, and Brexit proceeds, but unearned entitlement is everywhere on the run. The enemies of democracy—from oligarchs to billionaires—have reason to be fearful.

Hanukkah’s real meaning — Don’t just see the spiritual light, share it with the world

mikenova shared this story from FOX News.

Even most Jews are unaware that the key to the observance of Hanukkah isnt lighting the candles, playing with dreidels (spinning tops), eating latkes (potato pancakes), or giving gifts (in an imitation of Christmas).

Russia has ability to ‘disrupt’ Britain’s internet access, head of Armed Forces warns

mikenova shared this story from News.

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Trump’s Strange Love for Putin Has Become a National Security Nightmare – Vanity Fair

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Vanity Fair
Trump’s Strange Love for Putin Has Become a National Security Nightmare
Vanity Fair
In his first press conference as president, Donald Trump made a revealing comment about his relationship with Russia, which the U.S. intelligence community had accused of interfering in the 2016 election and which has been a source of so many of his
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3 Ways Trump’s Narcissism Is Endangering AmericaEsquire.com
Globalnews.ca –The Hill
all 757 news articles »
2:01 PM 12/14/2017 M.N.: Investigate the Obamas FBI and the Obamas DOJ! What the utter idiots! Obama was more Third World caudillo than president

mikenova shared this story from FBI News Review.

M.N.: Investigate the Obama’s FBI and the Obama’s DOJ! What the utter idiots! “This shouldnt be all that surprising given that Barack Obama gleefully weaponized the FBI, Department of Justice, and various intelligence agencies, and criminalized political differences in the process. A radical zealot with a desire to fundamentally transform the United States, the 44th president … Continue reading“2:01 PM 12/14/2017 – M.N.: Investigate the Obama’s FBI and the Obama’s DOJ! What the utter idiots! – “Obama was more Third World caudillo than president…””

2:13 PM 12/14/2017 Polish official says Putin responsible for 2010 plane crash

mikenova shared this story from Global Security News.

Polish official says Putin responsible for 2010 plane crash Visitors at the Powazki Cemetery, in Warsaw, Poland, on Nov. 12, 2016, walk toward a memorial of some of the victims of a 2010 plane crash in Russia that killed Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski and 95 other prominent Poles. CZAREK SOKOLOWSKI/AP PHOTO WARSAW, Poland Poland’s … Continue reading“2:13 PM 12/14/2017 – Polish official says Putin responsible for 2010 plane crash”

2:40 PM 12/14/2017 M.N.: The answer is: YES, and without any doubts! The FBI Did Become A KGB-Type Operation Under Obama! Investigate him personally, investigate the FBI, and investigate how it happened.

mikenova shared this story from FBI News Review.

M.N.: The answer is: “YES”, and without any doubts! The FBI Did Become A ‘KGB-Type Operation’ Under Obama! Investigate him personally, investigate the FBI, and investigate how it happened.  “I think the FBI has been compromised,” Fitton said on Fox News @ Night. “Forget about shutting down Mr. Mueller. Do we need to shut down the FBI because it was … Continue reading“2:40 PM 12/14/2017 – M.N.: The answer is: “YES”, and without any doubts! The FBI Did Become A ‘KGB-Type Operation’ Under Obama! Investigate him personally, investigate the FBI, and investigate how it happened. “

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12:47 PM 12/14/2017 – Lenin: Since the birth of Soviet Russia, Vladimir Lenin has been viewed as a controversial figure, revered and reviled for his rigid political ideals.

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Lenin

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Lenin

Title:                      LeninAuthor:                 Victor Sebestyen

Sebestyen, Victor (2017). Lenin: The Man, The Dictator, And The Master of Terror. New York: Pantheon

LCCN:    2017008076

DK254.L4 S34 2017

Scope and content

  • Since the birth of Soviet Russia, Vladimir Lenin has been viewed as a controversial figure, revered and reviled for his rigid political ideals. He continues to fascinate as a man who made history, and created the first Communist state, a model that would later be imitated by nearly half the countries in the world. Drawing on new research, including the diaries, memoirs, and personal letters of both Lenin and his friends, Victor Sebestyens biography–the first in English in nearly two decades–is not only a political examination of one of the most important historical figures of the twentieth century, but a portrait of Lenin the man. Lenin was someone who loved nature, hunting, fishing and could identify hundreds of species of plants, a despotic ruler whose closest ties and friendships were with women. The long-suppressed story of the complex love triangle Lenin had with his wife, and his mistress and comrade, reveals a different character to the coldly one-dimensional figure of the legend. Sebestyen also reveals Lenin as a ruthless and single-minded despot and a product of his time and place: a violent, tyrannical and corrupt Russia. He seized power in a coup, promised a revolution, a socialist utopia for the people, offered simple solutions to complex issues and constantly lied; in fact, what he created was more a mirror image of the Romanov autocracy. He authorized the deaths of thousands of people, and created a system based on the idea that political terror against opponents was justified for the greater ideal. One of his old comrades who had once admired him said he desired the good… but created evil. And that would include his invention of Stalin, who would take Lenins system of the gulag and the secret police to new heights– Provided by publisher.

LC Subjects

Other Subjects

  • BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Historical.
  • HISTORY / Europe / Russia & the Former Soviet Union.

Date Posted:      December 14, 2017

Reviewed by Joseph C. Goulden[1]

Let not October pass by without proper notice of the 100th anniversary of one of the greater calamities of modern history: the seizure of control of Russia on Oct. 25, 1917, by what became the Communist Party.

As biographer Victor Sebestyen writes in his horrifying biography of Vladimir Lenin, under communism millions of people were killed, jailed or sent into the great maw of the gulag. The estimated body count, in Russia and the rest of the world, is in multi-digit territory.

Should we fret about communism now that the Soviet Union and its subsidiaries are defunct? Think again. Recent public opinions show that some 80 percent of Russians look with favor upon Joseph Stalin, Lenins successor as dictator. President Vladimir Putin recently spent millions restoring Lenins tomb in Moscowan artifice that Mr. Sebestyen labels as part shrine, part tourist trap. Mr. Putins goal of restoring Russias rightful grandeur is frequently stated.

The Hungarian-born Sebestyen, a foreign correspondent for several London dailies, including the Times, the Daily Mail and the Evening Standard, traces Lenins origins as a member of the comfortable minor nobility. Born Vladimir Ulyanov, he was radicalized when an older brother was hanged for working against Tsar Nicholas II.

Appalled, the young man took the revolutionary name of Lenin (one of more than 100 pseudonyms he used over the years) and launched his career as a revolutionist. Arrested, he defended himself with an assertion oft repeated over the years: Terror is the only form of defense, the only road individuals can take when their discontent becomes extreme.

Sentenced to Siberia, on release he fled to Europe, spending most of 17 years in Switzerland. There he published newspapers supporting revolutionaries in Russia.

In 1913 the Tsar permitted a semblance of elective government, headed by Alexander Kerensky. But the opposition became a noisy mélange of competing factions. With World War I casualties well over a million by 1917, and inflation out of control, the inept Nicholas II lost control of the then-capital of Petrogradessentially dethroned.

Along with other exiles, Lenin tried to meld the opposition into a unified party. After a hot debate over Marxist teachings, the faction that Lenin headed became known as the Bolsheviks, or majority; the remainder were the Mensheviks. The schism would haunt the Communist Party for decades.

As war continued, Lenin saw an opportunity. At risk of being branded as a traitor, he obtained German support to return to Russia. (Considerable money apparently went to him as well, although the exact amount is unknown.) A sealed train carried him through Germany and Finland to Petrograd, where he plunged into the revolution with an oratorical fervor, leading what he termed Soviets.

He was not universally popular. Debate foes termed him dominating, abrasive, combative and often downright vicious. He disdained cooperation with Kerensky. All power must go to the Soviets, he declared. But, as Mr. Sebestyen writes, he had developed a voice that would revolutionize workers.

With Kerenskys mandate due to expire on Oct. 27, Lenin saw the chance to install his own government. By a vote of 10 to 2, the governing board of the Bolsheviks anointed him as leader, and he emerged as the dominant figure.

Generalities were his only promise. As he told future rival Leon Trotsky, First, we must seize power. Then we decide what to do with it.

Revolutionary betrayals began immediately. Despite his calls for freedom for all, he detested peasants as a class. Hence, vows of land reform, under which farmers would gain possession of their own land, became collective agriculture.

When farmers in the grain-rich Ukraine did not deliver the desired amounts of foodstuffs, Lenin ordered their farms seized. Thousands of families were displaced; many were killed. The resultant famine brought death to uncounted millions of persons.

Lenin detested the working class, deriding them for their trade union consciousness. What was needed, he declared, was a “tribune of the people.” So, a legislative assembly was convened. It lasted only a few hours until Lenin lost a key supporter and let it collapse.

Even more deadly, he pushed the theory that dissent was equivalent to treason. As Trotsky astutely observed, When Lenin talks about the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat he means the dictatorship over the proletariat.

A free press? Censorship was imposed the second day of Lenin’s rule to stop the torrent of filth and slander against the new order.

Such was arguably the most evil legacy of communisma rule that gave Lenin and subsequent dictators the authority to murder dissidents at will. As he put it, “How can you make a revolution without firing squads?”

Lenin did not anoint a successor, although his initial choice, later withdrawn, was Stalin. Nonetheless, as Victor Sebestyen writes, Lenin created the monster, and it was his greatest crime that he was now leaving Stalin with good prospects of becoming the Soviet dictator.

[1] Goulden, Joseph C. in The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (23, 2 Fall 2017, pp. ). Joseph C. Goulden is a long-time review of espionage and spy books for Intelligencer, for the Washington Times,for law journals and other publications. Some of these reviews appeared in prior editions of the Washington Times or the Washington Lawyer (DC Bar Association). Joe Gouldons most recent book is Goulden, Joseph C. (2012). The Dictionary of Espionage: Spyspeak into English. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications. His 1982 book, Korea: The Untold Story of the War, was published in a Chinese-language edition in 2014 by Beijing Xiron Books. He is author of 18 nonfiction books.

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Perez Refuses to Give Straight Yes When Asked if Hes Fully Satisfied With Pelosi, Schumer Leadership

Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez refused to say Thursday if he is was fully satisfied with Democratic leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.).When asked by Fox News’ Bill Hemmer about the calls for new leadership by some Democratic lawmakers, Perez wouldn’t give a straight answer.

“Were making real progress, look at the 2017 elections here, Bill. Democrats, not only in Alabama, but in Virginia, New Jersey all sorts of other races,” Perez said.

“Were leading with our values, weve learned from our mistakes,” he added.

“Is that a yes?” Hemmer interjected

“Without Nancy Pelosi, we wouldn’t have health care,” Perez stated.

Hemmer continued to pressure Perez for a straight answer.

“So you are satisfied with her leadership,? I take it thats a yes?” Hemmer persisted.

“Well you know what? We’re leading into the 2018 election cycle,” Perez said.

“So its a maybe?” Hemmer commented.

“I think we are going to win the Senate and the House. It’s an uphill battle, but I think with their leadership we can do it,” Perez said.

“I cant chalk up that answer to a yes,” Hemmer concluded.

Pelosi, who has served in the House since 1987, has long held influence among House Democrats. She served as Speaker of the House from 2007-11 and has served as House Minority Leader since that time.

Over the past year, a number of Democratic lawmakers have called for new blood.

Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton has been an outspoken critic of Pelosi, and called for new leadershipon multiple occasions.

Linda Sanchez (D., Calif.) said in October she believed it was time to “pass the torch to a new generation.”

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D., N.Y.) also wants a “leadership change,” telling CNN “It’s time for Nancy Pelosi to go, and the entire leadership team.”It’s time for Nancy Pelosi to go, and the entire leadership team.”

Pelosi defend herself against criticism in October while she talked to ABCs George Stephanopoulos about her strengths as a leader.

“I think we do have a great array of talent, and I have promoted it all along the way,” she said, naming Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) as an example.

“I think Im a great legislator, I know the budget,” she said. “Self-promotion is a terrible thing but clearly somebody has to do it.”

The post Perez Refuses to Give Straight Yes When Asked if Hes Fully Satisfied With Pelosi, Schumer Leadership appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

“Hillary Is Corrupt and Trump Is Crazy: At the FBI, Anger at Being Scapegoated – Vanity Fair
 


Vanity Fair
Hillary Is Corrupt and Trump Is Crazy: At the FBI, Anger at Being Scapegoated
Vanity Fair
The F.B.I. team had plowed through 50,000 Hillary Clinton e-mails found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop in less than one week. Yet on Saturday night, November 5less than three days before polls opened for Election Day, 2016there were 3,000 more to and more »

White House departures: Who’s been fired and who resigned in the Trump administration – USA TODAY
 


USA TODAY
White House departures: Who’s been fired and who resigned in the Trump administration
USA TODAY
May 9: James Comey. The White House initially said the FBI director’s firing was based on the Justice Department’s recommendation, over his handling of the Clinton email probe. Since then, Trump has said he had considered firing Comeyeven without that and more »

Eric Trump Joins Attack On Kirsten Gillibrand, Says She Asked For Money ‘Every 3 Days’

His father implied in a tweet the senator was willing to trade sex for campaign contributions.
Trump can claim ‘fairly serious achievements’ in first year, Putin says – CNN
 


CNN
Trump can claim ‘fairly serious achievements’ in first year, Putin says
CNN
The Trump administration has been embroiled for months in investigations into potential collusion between Russian operatives and Trump associates during the 2016 US presidential campaign and transition — a claim Trump fiercely denies. Asked for his and more »

Putin Trump – Google News: Trump and Pence were warned in January that CIA had proof Putin directed election hacks: report – Raw Story
 


Raw Story
Trump and Pence were warned in January that CIA had proof Putin directed election hacks: report
Raw Story
Trump has repeatedly denied U.S. intelligence findings about Russian interference, and both he and Putin have insisted the claims were made up by Democrats to justify the election loss by Hillary Clinton. But the Washington Post reported Thursday that 
Report: CIA Captured Putin’s ‘Specific Instructions’ to Hack the 2016 ElectionDaily Beastall 2 news articles »

 Putin Trump – Google News

Putin: Trump can claim ‘fairly serious achievements’ in first year – EverythingLubbock.com
 


EverythingLubbock.com
Putin: Trump can claim ‘fairly serious achievements’ in first year
EverythingLubbock.com
MOSCOW (CNN) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump had made some “fairly serious achievements” since he took office and derided what he called the “espionage mania” surrounding meetings held by Trump  

GOP senator: ‘Trump’s problems were vetted during the campaign’ – The Hill
 


The Hill
GOP senator: ‘Trump’s problems were vetted during the campaign’
The Hill
You can do anything,” Trump says on the recording. Johnson went on to say that only allegations of misconduct againstTrump that took place during his presidency should be investigated. “If it’s something during his presidency, absolutely we have to and more »

Ex-spy re-thinks attacks on Trump – Indiana Gazette
 


Indiana Gazette
Ex-spy re-thinks attacks on Trump
Indiana Gazette
Until Trump. In August 2016, the retired-but-still-active-in-intelligence-matters Morell decided to abandon decades of nonpartisanship and come out in support of Hillary Clinton. In a New York Times op-ed, he praised Clinton’s experience and called  

Fans of Trump’s friendliest news network are turning on him – Washington Post
 


Washington Post
Fans of Trump’s friendliest news network are turning on him
Washington Post
Trump likes what he sees on Fox, which means that what he sees depicts him favorably. And yet, according to new polling from Suffolk University, those voters who have the most trust in Fox’s reporting have increasingly begun to view Trumpunfavorably and more »

2020: GOP wants Trump to run again, crushes Kasich in matchup – Washington Examiner
 


Washington Examiner
2020: GOP wants Trump to run again, crushes Kasich in matchup
Washington Examiner
A national poll released Thursday morning finds that 70 percent of GOP voters want President Trump to run again, a strong endorsement of his agenda and approach. Public Policy Polling said that Trump would crush any opponent in the Republican Party  

NEW REPORTS: Working Class and Elite Democrats Were Divided on 2016 Priorities and 13 Percent of Partisans … – Business Wire (press release)
 

NEW REPORTS: Working Class and Elite Democrats Were Divided on 2016 Priorities and 13 Percent of Partisans …
Business Wire (press release)
Clear data about what moved voters in 2016 can help us better understand the dynamics shaping voter opinions in upcomingelections. In the coming months, the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group will be releasing a number of in-depth reports and data and more »

Donald Trump Told Of Putin’s ‘Specific’ Orders For Russia To Hack Election, Ignored CIA Intel, New Report Says – The Inquisitr
 


The Inquisitr
Donald Trump Told Of Putin’s ‘Specific’ Orders For Russia To Hack Election, Ignored CIA Intel, New Report Says
The Inquisitr
Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald Trump was told in a top-secret briefing that the CIA had extraordinary intelligence proving Russian president Vladimir Putin gave specific instructions on how Russia would hack the United States 2016 and more »

Trump FCC Chairman: Destroying Net Neutrality Is Actually Fun and Cool – Vanity Fair
 


Vanity Fair
Trump FCC Chairman: Destroying Net Neutrality Is Actually Fun and Cool
Vanity Fair
Ajit Pai, the Trump-appointed Federal Communications Commission Chairman who is definitely not a Verizon puppet, has employed a variety of rhetorical techniques to explain why his imminent move to gut net neutrality rules will not be a financial 
Fake comments flooded in when the FCC repealed net neutrality. They may count less than you think.Washington Postall 566 news articles »

Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election-meddling divides America – The Economist
 


South China Morning Post
Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election-meddling divides America
The Economist
Read Trump-sceptic newspapers or watch such cable networks as MSNBC or CNN, and the evidence is stacking up of Russian collusion with the president. This story comes with villains and prime suspects. Michael Flynn, a former national security adviser to 
Bill Press: Flynn proves Russian investigation not going awayBaltimore Sun
As Mueller’s Russia Probe Forges Ahead, Potential Legal Endgames Begin to Take ShapeNPR
FBI agents on Russia probe called Trump an ‘idiot’, ‘loathsome human being’South China Morning Post
The Hill –New York Daily News –Los Angeles Times –Twitter
all 1,093 news articles »
Jerusalem for Christians, Jews and Muslims is both a city and an idea | Giles Fraser: Loose canon

Its the object of overwhelming projection, a place of dreams and longing. There can be no political peace there until Jerusalem the golden is understoodTrying to organise parish pilgrimages to the Holy Land, I have often come across church people who refuse to travel to Israel, and to Jerusalem in particular, because they do not want the reality of the place to interfere with their idea of it. Jerusalem the golden / With milk and honey blest, they have sung in church, I know not, O I know not /What joys await us there, / What radiancy of glory, / What bliss beyond compare.No town can ever live up to that sort of billing. The reality is always going to be more prosaic. Which is why those who do make the pilgrimage can sometimes feel a little deflated by the sheer everydayness of the place the shops, the traffic, the traffic wardens, and all the paraphernalia of a bustling tourist industry.

Continue reading…

Russia’s Military Is Leaner, But Meaner – Bloomberg
 


Bloomberg
Russia’s Military Is Leaner, But Meaner
Bloomberg
But leaving that aside, Putin may well understand the nature of modern military challenges better than U.S. President DonaldTrump and U.S. legislators — and Russia’s authoritarian system may be more efficient when it comes to military allocations 
How Putin made himself a Middle East power brokerCBS News
Trump can claim ‘fairly serious achievements’ in first year, Putin sayskjrh.com
Putin says US gripped by fabricated spymania, praises TrumpCyprus Mail
Business Insider –The Australian
all 671 news articles »
Late-night hosts on Roy Moore’s defeat: ‘The real loser here is Donald Trump’

Comics, including Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee, covered the Republican loss in Alabama and how the president is coping with the newsLate-night hosts have discussed Roy Moores loss in the Alabama Senate election and how the result will affect Donald Trump.

Related: Late-night hosts to Roy Moore: ‘Hello you and the horse you rode in on’

Tonight at 11/10c, America breathes a sigh of relief knowing that Alabama isnt sending Cowboy Roman Polanski to the Senate. pic.twitter.com/RK9e8w7dnH

Continue reading…

Grassley demands answers on FBI officials’ texts about Trump – Politico
 


Politico
Grassley demands answers on FBI officials’ texts about Trump
Politico
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley demanded answers Thursday about when top Department of Justice officials became aware of anti-Donald Trump text messages sent in 2015 and 2016 by top FBI officials, including one senior agent involved 
Months-worth of FBI employees’ texts dreading Trump victory released to CongressCNN
FBI officials said Clinton ‘has to win’ race to White House: NYTReuters
An FBI agent’s anti-Trump text messages pose a growing threat to the Mueller investigationVox
New York Times –Baltimore Sun (blog) –NPR –Politico
all 1,116 news articles »
The surest sign yet that Donald Trump is a goner

There are now a number of reasons to believe that Donald Trump is a goner. His approval rating is the lowest of any first-year U.S. President in the history of polling. His Russia scandal moves closer to taking down his presidency and his entire family by the day. His sexual assault scandal is coming back into focus at just the wrong time for him. He’s so unpopular, he’s now costing his own party congressional seats by endorsing its candidates. But the surest sign yet that Trump is a goner is coming from within his own innermost circle.Donald Trump and Roger Stone have been close personal friends for forty years. Stone was so deeply involved in Trump’s campaign, he helped facilitate the conspiracy between the campaign and Russian-controlled WikiLeaks. By all accounts, Trump and Stone have spoken on the phone regularly since Trump took office. Trump trusts Stone enough to tell him how things are really going behind the scenes, and even if Trump is too delusional to connect the dots, Stone can surely get a read on what Trump is telling him. So what is Stone doing with that information?

According to Roger Stone, he’s working on a new book about the demise of Donald Trump’s presidency (link). Stone is so sure that Trump is a goner, and that there is nothing he can do to save his friend from being ousted from office, he’s already begun writing a past-tense book on that ouster. Stone isn’t placing this bet for no reason.

Keep in mind that Trump supporters and the lunatic far right are the primary audience for Roger Stone’s books. He’s not writing this book because he thinks they want to hear about Trump’s demise. He’s simply certain that his friend Trump is going down, and that it’ll happen soon enough to punish a book he’s already assembling. Stone is surely basing this on what he’s heard from Trump himself. It’s the surest sign yet that Trump is a goner.

The post The surest sign yet that Donald Trump is a goner appeared first on Palmer Report.

Mexico One Step Closer to Legalizing Military State – teleSUR English
 


teleSUR English
Mexico One Step Closer to Legalizing Military State
teleSUR English
Yesterday’s House of Representative commission approved the bill with what human rights advocates are calling nine “minor” and cosmetic changes. The bill would legalize, among other provisions, the president’s ability as commander in chief to orderand more »

Omarosa Manigault-Newman: ‘I’ve seen things that made me uncomfortable’

The former Apprentice star denies reports she had been fired from her post as an assistant to Donald Trump, and says she has a profound story to shareFormer Apprentice star Omarosa Manigault-Newman said she had felt uncomfortable and upset in the White House as its most high-profile African American woman, as she denied reports she had been fired from her post as an assistant to Donald Trump.

She also hinted strongly that she had revealing and potentially damaging stories to share from her time in the Trump administration.

Related: Former Apprentice contestant Omarosa resigns from Trump administration

Continue reading…


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4:46 PM 12/12/2017 – Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! For themselves! 

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Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Putin Ordered Theft Of Clinton’s Emails From DNC, Russian Hacker Confesses
Putin Ordered Theft Of Clinton’s Emails From DNC, Russian Hacker Confesses – Newsweek
Is The FBI Biased? Democrats and Republicans Have Accused the Bureau of Political Persecution
Is The FBI Biased? Democrats and Republicans Have Accused the Bureau of Political Persecution – Newsweek
8:56 AM 12/12/2017 FBI News Review: Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! | Democrats seek alleged evidence of anti-Clinton bias at the FBI Politico
Former police officer argues FBI pushed him to support terrorism – Washington Post
Trump attorney says FBI, DOJ ‘conflicts’ require second special counsel – NBCNews.com
12:01 PM 12/12/2017 fbi Google News: Former police officer argues FBI pushed him to support terrorism Washington Post
Trumps lawyer calls for a special counsel investigation of alleged corruption at FBI and Justice Department
fbi – Google News: Former police officer argues FBI pushed him to support terrorism – Washington Post
FBI News Review: The Showboats and The Perfect Robots: Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! Fire the nincompoops and put them in prison! Front Page Link
The Showboats and The Perfect Robots: Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! Fire the nincompoops and put them in prison! Front Page Link
8:16 AM 11/2/2017 Is FBI indeed any closer to drawing a conclusion on motive f…
mueller – Google News: Why Team Trump Needs to Lay Off the Mueller Probe – New York Times
peter strzok is removed – Google News: HUGH HEWITT: A special counsel needs to investigate the FBI and Justice Department. Now – Apalachicola Times
Andrew McCabe – Google News: Democrats seek alleged evidence of anti-Clinton ‘bias’ at the FBI – Politico
mueller – Google News: Let Mueller Keep Digging – Wall Street Journal
fbi – Google News: FBI’s McCabe ‘has an Ohr problem,’ will not testify on Tuesday, source says – Fox News
Andrew McCabe – Google News: FBI’s McCabe ‘has an Ohr problem,’ will not testify on Tuesday, source says – Fox News
FBI News Review: Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems!
Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems!
Trump is the one in ‘tatters,’ not the FBI (opinion)
Democrats seek alleged evidence of anti-Clinton ‘bias’ at the FBI
Leah Vukmir slams Russia probe, FBI: ‘Something is rotten’ | State and Regional
Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! Not for the criminals whom they cannot catch because they are not capable of solving their crimes, but for themselves, for the years of abuse of power, lying to the American people… pic.twitter.com/nVviEklIuq
mikenova shared this story from mikenov on Twitter.

Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! Not for the criminals whom they cannot catch because they are not capable of solving their crimes, but for themselves, for the years of abuse of power, lying to the American people… pic.twitter.com/nVviEklIuq



Posted by mikenov on Tuesday, December 12th, 2017 10:54am
Putin Ordered Theft Of Clinton’s Emails From DNC, Russian Hacker Confesses
mikenova shared this story from Newsweek.

A Russian hacker accused of stealing from Russian banks reportedly confessed in court that he hacked the U.S. Democratic National Committee (DNC) and stole Hillary Clinton’s emails under the direction of agents from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).

According to Russian news site The Bell, Konstantin Kozlovsky, a Russian citizen working for a hacker group called Lurk, confessed to hacking Clinton’s emails during a hearing about his arrest in August. An audio recording and minutes from the hearing were posted on Kozlovsky’s Facebook page, and their authenticity was reportedly confirmed by The Bell.


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12:34 PM 12/10/2017 – Saakashvili Supporters March In Kyiv

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Saved Stories

Saved Stories – None

Saakashvili Supporters March In Kyiv

россия и запад – Google News: Захарова: Запад решил скапитализдить военные успехи России – News Front – новости Донбасса, России, Крыма и Мира в целом!
Putin personality cult – Google News: Super Putin: Exhibition Depicting Trump’s Favourite Russian as Superhero Opens in Moscow – Newsweek
Saved Stories – Trump Investigations: donald trump racketeering – Google News: Robert Reich: We Must Resist This Pernicious Legal Assault On The Resistance – Newsweek
Saved Stories – Trump Investigations: How Trump is spreading the “fake news” virus around the world – Axios
Sanders: Congress shouldn’t jump the gun on Trump impeachment – NBCNews.com
1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): Elections 2016 Investigation – Google News: Senators clash over direction of Russia, Clinton probes – The Hill
Putin and Erdogan to discuss Trump’s move on Jerusalem – Deutsche Welle
The Trump-Russia Probe Is About to Get Uglier – Bloomberg
Data: Republican Party ID drops after Trump election – NBCNews.com
Super Putin: Exhibition Depicting Trump’s Favourite Russian as Superhero Opens in Moscow – Newsweek
James Comey slams weak Donald Trump
Prosecutors say emails prove Manafort heavily edited Ukraine op-ed – 41 NBC News
Trump – Google News: Trump Thinks People Should Be Fired for Misrepresenting the Truth on Twitter – New York Magazine
trump under federal investigation – Google News: Is Trump going to fire Mueller? 6 disturbing signs. – ThinkProgress
US elections and russia – Google News: US may sanction Russian firms that built banned missile – New York Post
Russian Intelligence services – Google News: Russia has MORE sleeper agents in UK now than during the Cold War, expert warns MPs – Express.co.uk
Palmer Report: The maddening part of Michael Flynns plea deal against Donald Trump
Russia influence in Eastern Europe – Google News: We thought the Cold War was over – Santa Fe New Mexican
Palmer Report: Donald Trump just reminded us he truly is a psychopath
Comey resignation – Google News: Trump partisans attack America from within – Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
trump as danger to National Security – Google News: Impeachment hysteria from the left knows no end – New Jersey Herald
trump as danger to National Security – Google News: Impeachment hysteria knows no end – Grand Island Independent
trump as putin’s puppet – Google News: OPINION | Patrick Buchanan: Is Flynn’s defection a death blow? – The Livingston Parish News (press release)
Trump and Russia – Google News: A battle for public opinion: Trump goes to war over Mueller and Russia – The Guardian

 

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Saakashvili Supporters March In Kyiv

From: rferlonline
Duration: 00:30

Thousands of people marched in the center of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, on December 10 to demand the release of opposition leader Mikheil Saakashvili from custody and to call for the impeachment or resignation of President Petro Poroshenko. (RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service)
Originally published at – https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-kyiv-saakashvili-march/28908028.html

россия и запад – Google News: Захарова: Запад решил скапитализдить военные успехи России – News Front – новости Донбасса, России, Крыма и Мира в целом!


News Front – новости Донбасса, России, Крыма и Мира в целом!
Захарова: Запад решил скапитализдить военные успехи России
News Front – новости Донбасса, России, Крыма и Мира в целом!
Потрудитесь объяснить этой даме, вкрадчиво спросил Филипп Филиппович. Шариков сыграл ва-банк: Я на колчаковских фронтах ранен, пролаял он. Перестаньте! крикнул вслед Филипп Филиппович.», иронично цитирует классика Захарова. «Господа, перестаньте! Ваши достижения это Ирак 
Захарова предложила западным партнерам гордиться “победами” в Ираке, Ливии и АфганистанеТАСС

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 россия и запад – Google News

Putin personality cult – Google News: Super Putin: Exhibition Depicting Trump’s Favourite Russian as Superhero Opens in Moscow – Newsweek


Newsweek
Super Putin: Exhibition Depicting Trump’s Favourite Russian as Superhero Opens in Moscow
Newsweek
According to independent pollster the Levada Center, Putin enjoys sky-high popularity, and his approval ratings have not dipped below 80 percent since March 2014, when Russia launched its campaign to annex Crimea. Critics argue that the absence of an 

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 Putin personality cult – Google News

Saved Stories – Trump Investigations: donald trump racketeering – Google News: Robert Reich: We Must Resist This Pernicious Legal Assault On The Resistance – Newsweek


Newsweek
Robert Reich: We Must Resist This Pernicious Legal Assault On The Resistance
Newsweek
He is also a member of Donald Trump’s personal legal team. Bowe has publicly stated that he’s in conversations with other corporations considering filing their own SLAPP lawsuits. If the goal is to silence public-interest groups, the rest of us must 

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 donald trump racketeering – Google News

 Saved Stories – Trump Investigations

Saved Stories – Trump Investigations: How Trump is spreading the “fake news” virus around the world – Axios


Axios
How Trump is spreading the “fake news” virus around the world
Axios
Discussing the situation in Qatar at a joint press conference in September, the emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Ahmed al-Sabah, said “the media campaign…is totally unacceptable to the people because the media coming out of this country is against the 

and more »

 Saved Stories – Trump Investigations

Sanders: Congress shouldn’t jump the gun on Trump impeachment – NBCNews.com


NBCNews.com
Sanders: Congress shouldn’t jump the gun on Trump impeachment
NBCNews.com
WASHINGTON Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday warned against jumping the gun in pursuing impeachment charges against President Donald Trump and maintained that any potential proceedings should not be partisan. I think there is a process that has to be 

and more »

1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): Elections 2016 Investigation – Google News: Senators clash over direction of Russia, Clinton probes – The Hill

Senators clash over direction of Russia, Clinton probes
The Hill
The panel’s investigation into the 2016 election appears to have hit the skids, with members increasingly fighting over the direction of the probe. Republicans want to dig back into Obama-era scandals, including the FBI’s handling of its investigation

and more »

 Elections 2016 Investigation – Google News

 1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites)

Putin and Erdogan to discuss Trump’s move on Jerusalem – Deutsche Welle


Deutsche Welle
Putin and Erdogan to discuss Trump’s move on Jerusalem
Deutsche Welle
The two men agree that US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital is a bad idea. They will discuss what, if anything, can be done to counter the US move. Putin and Erdogan shake hands at the Presidential Palace  
Has Trump botched the Palestinian deal already?Washington Post
 
Spotlight: Putin to visit Turkey to discuss Jerusalem crisis, SyriaXinhua

Erdogan, Putin concerned about Mideast stabilityThe BRICS Post 
Turkish government slams Trump over Jerusalem decisionHurriyet Daily News
Sputnik InternationalThe Quint
 
Putin to visit Egypt, Turkey on MondayDaily News Egypt
Egypttoday (blog)Ahram Online
 –ClickLancashire

all 13,891 16 news articles »
The Trump-Russia Probe Is About to Get Uglier – Bloomberg


Bloomberg
The Trump-Russia Probe Is About to Get Uglier
Bloomberg
Equally clear is that no matter what is revealed, Trump and his allies won’t go quietly. Already, some congressional Republicans are trying to smear Mueller, the most experienced and respected special counsel in more than 40 years. If cornered, does 
A battle for public opinion: Trump goes to war over Mueller and RussiaThe Guardian
Trump escalates ‘rigged system’ rhetoric amid Russia probeCNN
The campaign to delegitimize the Russia probe is well under wayLos Angeles Times
BBC News –NPR –Business Insider –NPR
all 788 news articles »
Data: Republican Party ID drops after Trump election – NBCNews.com


NBCNews.com
Data: Republican Party ID drops after Trump election
NBCNews.com
Donald Trump’s presidential win was a boon for the Republican Party in Washington, consolidating the GOP’s control of the Oval Office, Senate and House of Representatives. But beyond the Beltway, poll data suggests the election has had the opposite 

and more »

Super Putin: Exhibition Depicting Trump’s Favourite Russian as Superhero Opens in Moscow – Newsweek


Newsweek
Super Putin: Exhibition Depicting Trump’s Favourite Russian as Superhero Opens in Moscow
Newsweek
Critics argue that the absence of an independent media in Russia and any serious rivals to Putin warps opinion polls. A cult of personality has sprung up around the Russian president, whose macho propaganda stunts are regularly broadcast by the Kremlin 

and more »

James Comey slams weak Donald Trump

Former FBI Director James Comey can only sit back and watch as his Trump-Russia investigation is ultimately carried out by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Trump fired Comey to try to sabotage the investigation, leaving Comey sidelined even as Mueller picks Trump apart. That hasn’t kept Comey from periodically weighing in, however. Just as Trump was taking the stage for an embarrassingly narcissistic display at a pointless rally on Friday night, Comey took to Twitter to slam him.

Comey has taken to largely speaking in historical quotes, and as the narcissistic Trump was taking the stage to seek applause from his remaining fanatics, Comey settled on a quote from Edmund Burke. Comey tweeted “Applause is the spur of noble minds, the end and aim of weak ones.” There was no question whatsoever that Comey was aiming his quote directly at Trump, and thus calling him “weak.”

James Comey doesn’t tweet often, but when he does, it’s usually a response or veiled warning shot at Trump. For instance, his previous tweet was about a meeting with the publisher of his upcoming book, which is largely an expose into his troubling stretch dealing with Trump: “In NYC to meet with my publisher. Hope leadership book will be useful. Reassuring to see Lady Liberty standing tall even in rough weather.”

Meanwhile Robert Mueller has arrested four of Donald Trump’s people in the Russia scandal, and two of them have already pleaded guilty. The investigation is still ramping up, and it’s a matter of when, not if, Trump is taken down.

The post James Comey slams “weak” Donald Trump appeared first on Palmer Report.

Prosecutors say emails prove Manafort heavily edited Ukraine op-ed – 41 NBC News


41 NBC News
Prosecutors say emails prove Manafort heavily edited Ukraine op-ed
41 NBC News
Prosecutors also said Voloshyn was not the principal author of the piece, but that Manafort was working with Konstantin Kilimnik. In their earlier filing, prosecutors had said Manafort was working with an unnamed individual with ties to Russian 
Manafort Denies Defying Gag Order With Op-Ed WorkLaw360 
Mueller has 400000 documents in Manafort, Gates probeGephardt Daily

all 16 news articles »

Trump – Google News: Trump Thinks People Should Be Fired for Misrepresenting the Truth on Twitter – New York Magazine


New York Magazine
Trump Thinks People Should Be Fired for Misrepresenting the Truth on Twitter
New York Magazine
On Saturday, President Trump demanded an apology from Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel over a tweet that Weigel sent earlier in the day incorrectly calling into question Trump’s boast about the crowd size at his Friday night rally in Florida. After 
President Trump calls for Washington Post reporter who apologized for inaccurate tweet to be firedWashington Post
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trump under federal investigation – Google News: Is Trump going to fire Mueller? 6 disturbing signs. – ThinkProgress


ThinkProgress
Is Trump going to fire Mueller? 6 disturbing signs.
ThinkProgress
No one really knows what Donald Trump will do next not even Donald Trump. But with Robert Mueller racking up indictments and 2017 drawing to a close, there are several indications that Trump is considering sacking the special counsel. Firing Mueller 
The Russia Investigations: Knife Fights Over Feds, Trump Jr … – NPRNPR
Pardoning Flynn Is a Very Good Idea: Trump’s Legal Strategy Is Really a PR StrategyVanity Fair
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US elections and russia – Google News: US may sanction Russian firms that built banned missile – New York Post


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US may sanction Russian firms that built banned missile
New York Post
They are not supported by the technical characteristics of the launch installation, which allegedly does not comply with the treaty, or by flight telemetry data. Nothing. The issue adds further tension to relations between Moscow and Washington 
If US withdraws from INF treaty, Russia will have to respond in kind deputy FMRT
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Russian Intelligence services – Google News: Russia has MORE sleeper agents in UK now than during the Cold War, expert warns MPs – Express.co.uk


Express.co.uk
Russia has MORE sleeper agents in UK now than during the Cold War, expert warns MPs
Express.co.uk
“These hand-picked, deep-cover intelligence officers live abroad under assumed ‘legends’: carefully constructed false foreign identities and life stories (over decades in some cases), allowing ‘illegals’ to blend in. “Nowadays, UK CI and CE 

 Russian Intelligence services – Google News

Palmer Report: The maddening part of Michael Flynns plea deal against Donald Trump

Make no mistake: Michael Flynn’s plea deal against Donald Trump was the best possible outcome for us and Robert Mueller, and it was the worst possible outcome for Trump. If Mueller had been forced to arrest an uncooperative Flynn, it would have been a failure, because the entire point was to get him to flip. There is however, in the short term, a maddening aspect to Flynn’s deal. I suspect you share my pain on this.

Seeing Michael Flynn in handcuffs, after the things he did to this country, would have been cathartic but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the short term impact that his arrest would have had in terms of moving the public forward on this scandal. All along, much of the public has been hearing “Trump committed treason with Russia” from one side and “Russia is fake news” from the other side, and they’ve been waiting to see which way things actually went.

The arrest of Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort six weeks ago was a big deal that convinced a lot of people of the “realness” of the Trump-Russia scandal. If Michael Flynn had been arrested on the full boat of charges he was facing, including conspiracy to commit kidnapping and all the other cartoon villain stuff he’s accused of, it would have set off pandemonium among the public. Trump’s National Security Adviser tried to kidnap a guy as part of the Trump-Russia scandal? How many heads would that have turned? Trump-Russia would have become something straight out of the O.J. trial.

Because Michael Flynn cut a deal instead, the general public wasn’t hit with the shock value of what would have been one of the most surreal arrests of all time. Those of us paying attention have figured out that his extraordinarily lenient deal means he turned over proof that Donald Trump and the other big fish are guilty. We know where this is going. Yet for the moment, a whole lot of people are still left wondering just how “real” this scandal is. For that, we’ll have to wait for the arrest of one of the bigger fish Flynn flipped on.

The post The maddening part of Michael Flynn’s plea deal against Donald Trump appeared first on Palmer Report.

 Palmer Report

Russia influence in Eastern Europe – Google News: We thought the Cold War was over – Santa Fe New Mexican


Santa Fe New Mexican
We thought the Cold War was over
Santa Fe New Mexican
Kennan wrote: At the bottom of the Kremlin’s neurotic view of world affairs is the traditional and instinctive Russian sense of insecurity. He went on to say that the Soviet Union was a political force committed fanatically to make certain that 

 Russia influence in Eastern Europe – Google News

Palmer Report: Donald Trump just reminded us he truly is a psychopath

I’m not a medical professional, but in the time since I began covering Donald Trump, I’ve had to spent a fair amount of time discussing him with medical professionals. I’ve had it explained to me that in layman’s terms, a sociopath is someone who harms others for his own gain without any remorse, while a psychopath is someone who enjoys harming others so thoroughly, he doesn’t care if it harms himself in the process. Tonight, Trump reminded us that he truly is a psychopath.

Donald Trump’s entire foray into politics has consisted of lying every time he opens his mouth, in the most confusing ways possible, forcing the media to spend its time unraveling his lies instead of investigating his criminal scandals, and yelling “fake news” at the media whether they end up being able to accurately get to the bottom of his lies or not. As a self-interested sociopathic strategy, it’s worked surprisingly well.

Trump has told thousands of documented lies, journalists have had to waste millions of collective hours exposing those lies, and yet his idiot supporters choose to believe those lies anyway. But tonight was a reminder that even when Trump’s strategy works, he still finds a way to screw it up for himself. For instance, Trump has constantly and bizarrely lied about crowd size his inauguration and his rallies. The media regularly has to report on those lies. Over the weekend, respected reporter Dave Weigel of the Washington Post swung and missed on crowd size while trying to do his job in good faith.

Trump posted a tweet demanding that Weigel apologize, so Weigel did precisely that. Trump won. He caught a reporter’s inaccuracy about him, and he got that reporter to admit it, too. Trump’s overall “fake news” mantra is garbage, but for once he scored. So what did he do? He responded to Weigel’s apology by suddenly demanding that Weigel be fired.

In so doing, Donald Trump blew his opportunity. Instead of the story being that he caught the media making a mistake in its reporting about him, the story is that Trump went completely berserk even after his initial demands were promptly met. It wasn’t enough for Trump to win at the expense of someone who hadn’t really done anything wrong. He was so desperate to harm this reporter, he ended up harming himself in the process. He’s not just a sociopath. He’s a psychopath. It’ll help bring him down in the end.

The post Donald Trump just reminded us he truly is a psychopath appeared first on Palmer Report.

 Palmer Report

Comey resignation – Google News: Trump partisans attack America from within – Lockport Union-Sun & Journal


TIME

Newsweek
Trump partisans attack America from within
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., called former FBI director James B. Comey an “egomaniac rogue” and speculated that the FBI paid for the “dossier” on Trump’s activities in Russia. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., speculated that anti-Trump bias led the FBI to conclude 
WATCH: Sanders says there is no conflict between Trump and FBI Director WrayPBS NewsHour 
Donald Trump Will Soon Fire Robert Mueller, But Russia Investigation Can Continue Anyway, Experts SayThe Inquisitr
 
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trump as danger to National Security – Google News: Impeachment hysteria from the left knows no end – New Jersey Herald


Washington Examiner
Impeachment hysteria from the left knows no end
New Jersey Herald
Then there are all the Democrats Mueller has surrounded himself with as he investigates the Russian ties of a Republican president. Not the least of the biased hands on deck was an FBI investigator reportedly dismissed because of anti-Trumpmessages 
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trump as danger to National Security – Google News: Impeachment hysteria knows no end – Grand Island Independent


Washington Examiner
Impeachment hysteria knows no end
Grand Island Independent
Then there are all the Democrats Mueller has surrounded himself with as he investigates the Russian ties of a Republican president. Not the least of the biased hands on deck was an FBI investigator reportedly dismissed because of anti-Trumpmessages 
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trump as putin’s puppet – Google News: OPINION | Patrick Buchanan: Is Flynn’s defection a death blow? – The Livingston Parish News (press release)


The Livingston Parish News (press release)
OPINION | Patrick Buchanan: Is Flynn’s defection a death blow?
The Livingston Parish News (press release)
After all, Hillary Clinton, who accused Trump of being ‘Putin’s puppet,’ lost. Flynn, it now appears, was not freelancing, but following instructions. His deputy, K. T. McFarland, sent an email to six Trump advisers saying that Obama, by expelling the 
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Trump and Russia – Google News: A battle for public opinion: Trump goes to war over Mueller and Russia – The Guardian


The Guardian
A battle for public opinion: Trump goes to war over Mueller and Russia
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 Trump and Russia – Google News


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8:02 AM 12/9/2017 – How Russia Cheats – The New York Times

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Saved Stories – 1. Russia

Saved Stories – 1. Russia

How Russia Cheats – The New York Times

Russia’s ongoing quest for empire – The Ukrainian Weekly (press release)
The Daily Vertical: Let The Power Games Begin
The Evolving Stalemate Between Russia and the West – STRATFOR
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Top Diplomat Says Ukraine Sticking Point in US-Russia Ties – U.S. News & World Report
US to maintain Russia sanctions until it withdraws from Ukraine, Tillerson says – CNN International
Recalling the Russian Revolution – Tampa Bay Newspapers
Collusion
What’s the Matter with Eastern Europe? – Common Dreams
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Meet Mike Pompeo, your likely new and Trump-friendly secretary of state – Vox
Israel & the South Caucasus – Georgia Today

 

Saved Stories – 1. Russia
How Russia Cheats – The New York Times

mikenova shared this story .

The Kremlin dismissed the details of both schemes as “absurd,” but on Tuesday Russia was barred from the 2018 Winter Games for its state-backed cheating. Some individual Russian athletes may compete independently in neutral uniforms, but the Russian flag will not appear when the Games begin in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The details of the sports scandal — deconstructed by Russian whistle-blowers who have provided rare insider insights — offer perhaps the purest case study of Russia’s drive to dominate, its brazen methods and, in part, its motivation to influence the American presidency.

In a declassified intelligence report released early this year, United States officials said Russia’s attacks on the election had been, for Mr. Putin, partial payback for the doping scandal, which he repeatedly called an American-led effort to defame Russia. Last month, as new medals were stripped from Russian Olympians, Mr. Putin said the disqualifications were the United States’ attempt to undermine his re-election.

In fact, sports regulators and investigators who conducted the multiple investigations into Russia’s doping are headquartered in Canada, and the Olympic leadership in charge of disqualifying athletes is based in Switzerland. It was the former president of that staunchly neutral country, Samuel Schmid, who conducted the latest investigation for the Olympic committee, resulting in Tuesday’s sanctions.

In scrutinizing Russia, sports and antidoping officials have said they acted on objective forensic and scientific evidence of Russia’s fraud: documents, data, lab analyses and glass bottles of urine with telltale signs of tampering. Just as allies of the special counsel Robert Mueller have done this year in the context of the election inquiry, the officials have defended their impartiality and interest in plain facts.

Three key whistle-blowers helped provide those facts: Grigory Rodchenkov, Russia’s former longtime chief antidoping chemist, as well as Yuliya and Vitaly Stepanov, a former Russian runner and a former employee of the nation’s antidoping agency. All now live in the United States, in undisclosed locations from which they have spoken openly about years of coordinated cheating. The Justice Department, too, has taken interest in their evidence.

Dr. Rodchenkov, whose personal diaries cataloged each day of cheating in Sochi, came to the United States only after Vitaly Mutko — Russia’s deputy prime minister and former sports minister — asked him to resign in light of growing global suspicions about the extent of the nation’s cheating, which the chemist had helped mastermind.

“Today we also have a meeting, how to come from defensive to offensive,” Dr. Rodchenkov wrote to me in an email on Nov. 10, 2015, having initially denied wrongdoing in our early exchanges. At that meeting, Mr. Mutko effectively dismissed him and set off a dramatic chain of events: “Freedom!” he wrote in another email that night.

Dr. Rodchenkov’s tell-all account, reported in The Times in May 2016 and detailed in the documentary “Icarus,” culminated in Russia’s Olympic ban this week. It was instrumental in motivating some Russian officials to temper their rigid denials and acknowledge that an “institutional conspiracy” had existed, though they maintained it had not been state sponsored.

Still, before this week’s final sanctions were announced, global athletes, antidoping advocates and some sponsors had expressed concern about a growing crisis in international sports, pointing to the long delay by both regulators and Olympic officials in responding to evidence of widespread cheating that went even beyond Sochi.

As those critics wondered when or if sports officials would penalize Russia for its systematic transgressions by rescinding Olympic medals and condemning the state-supported schemes, they questioned not just fundamental frailties in drug-testing controls but also the independence of antidoping authorities.

One year later, similar basic questions about separation of power have taken on renewed relevance in American politics as a result of Russia’s breaches. Those questions have followed Mr. Trump’s repeated attacks on the independence of the Justice Department, in defiance of the post-Watergate norms intended to insulate law enforcement from partisan and personal agendas.

In the same way that Mr. Trump has avoided acknowledging evidence of Russia’s interference in the election, Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, took more than a year to accept the extensive evidence of Russia’s interference in the Sochi Olympic lab operations.

Other sports officials, such as the president of skiing’s governing body, initially told me that the evidence on Russia was conspiratorial or “too Hollywood,” just as some Republican lawmakers have doubted the legitimacy of Mr. Mueller’s mandate.

In drawing out his decision-making until this week, Mr. Bach called for due process and stressed the importance of giving Russia a fair chance to defend itself.

One defense came just after the early penalties for Russian athletes at the 2016 Olympics: a set of cyberattacks. A group known as Fancy Bear — which American intelligence officials tied to Russia’s main military intelligence unit, the G.R.U. — published the hacked private medical records of top American athletes, as well as the private emails of antidoping officials who had lobbied for a ban on Russia.

The hackers — the same group that stole emails from the Democratic National Committee’s servers and released them ahead of the 2016 election — called the athlete records proof of illegal drug use by stars such as Simone Biles and Serena Williams. All athletes had received necessary clearances to use the substances in question, and none of the information constituted a violation.

In a fiery interview in Moscow last year, Mr. Mutko, the former sports minister and current deputy prime minister, echoed Mr. Putin, arguing that Russia had been disadvantaged globally. In sports as in all things, he said, the decks were stacked against the nation.

This week, he was barred from attending any future Olympics, though he remains at the helm of Russia’s 2018 soccer World Cup.

“Somebody has to take the responsibility,” he said in July 2016, three months before Mr. Putin promoted him. “There must be a master at home.”

Correction: December 8, 2017An earlier version of the photo caption with this article misstated the location of Sochi. It is in Russia, not Japan.

Continue reading the main story

Russia’s ongoing quest for empire – The Ukrainian Weekly (press release)


The Ukrainian Weekly (press release)
Russia’s ongoing quest for empire
The Ukrainian Weekly (press release)
The Russian elite traditionally believe that Russia and its East Slavic neighbors are and always will be part of a joint historical and cultural space, and ultimately the same nation. The ongoing Ukraine-Russia war can be traced to this theme that 

The Daily Vertical: Let The Power Games Begin

From: rferlonline
Duration: 01:56

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.
Originally published at – https://www.rferl.org/a/daily-vertical-let-power-games-begin/28905016.html

The Evolving Stalemate Between Russia and the West – STRATFOR


STRATFOR
The Evolving Stalemate Between Russia and the West
STRATFOR
Those efforts have substantially boosted Russian influence in the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific, and it has followed by deepening its ties in other strategic theaters such as Afghanistan, Venezuela and Libya. Initially, Russia appeared to be 
Tillerson says Ukraine key sticking point in US-Russia tiesABC News
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Russia-NATO Cold War Leads Finland to Build Military 100 Years After Independence – Newsweek


Newsweek
Russia-NATO Cold War Leads Finland to Build Military 100 Years After Independence
Newsweek
Throughout the Cold War, Finland attempted to balance the interests of both Western and Eastern factions, and renewed tensions across Europe have once again put the Nordic nation in the middle of a geopolitical struggle for influence. While Lindberg 

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Tillerson: US, Russia could normalize ties but for Ukraine – KIRO Seattle


KIRO Seattle
Tillerson: US, Russia could normalize ties but for Ukraine
KIRO Seattle
“The issue that stands in the way is Ukraine,” Tillerson said. President Donald Trump campaigned on the need to improve ties with Russia, Tillerson said in Vienna, adding that “normalizing” the relationship was something the U.S. still “badly would 

Top Diplomat Says Ukraine Sticking Point in US-Russia Ties – U.S. News & World Report


U.S. News & World Report
Top Diplomat Says Ukraine Sticking Point in US-Russia Ties
U.S. News & World Report
VIENNA (AP) U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Thursday that Ukraine was the sole sticking point keeping the United States and Russia from forging a closer relationship and that all other disputes were secondary. “The issue that stands in 
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US to maintain Russia sanctions until it withdraws from Ukraine, Tillerson says – CNN International


CNN International
US to maintain Russia sanctions until it withdraws from Ukraine, Tillerson says
CNN International
Washington (CNN) The United States will maintain sanctions against Russia until it returns full control of Crimea to Ukraine, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Thursday. Speaking in front of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a meeting of 

Recalling the Russian Revolution – Tampa Bay Newspapers

Recalling the Russian Revolution
Tampa Bay Newspapers
By 1922 the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, consisting of Russia and 14 other states, was formed. Years of political rivalries followed. Joseph Stalin came out on top. He secured his victory by starving millions of his fellow Soviet citizens. The 

Collusion

The investigation into suspected collusion between US President Donald Trump and the Russian government has claimed its first three victims: one (Paul Manafort) for completely unconnected money laundering charges, and two (George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn) for lying to investigators about things which were not themselves criminal, and which are therefore crimes which would never have happened had there never been an investigation. To date, the evidence of direct collusion between Trump and the Russians is looking a little thin, to say the least. Now, into this maelstrom steps Guardian reporter Luke Harding with his book Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russian Helped Donald Trump Win.

Collusion spends over 300 pages insinuating that Trump is a long-standing agent of the Russian secret services, and hinting, without ever providing any firm evidence, that Trump and his team acted on orders from the Kremlin to subvert American democracy. Ill be honest, and admit that I picked this book up expecting it to be a series of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, and to be utterly unbalanced in its analysis, and in that sense Im not an unbiased reader. At the same time, I was interested to see if Harding had come up with anything that everybody else had not, and was willing to give him a chance. I neednt have bothered. For alas, my worst suspicions proved to be true, and then some.

collusion

The first thing to note about Collusion is that most of it is padding. That is to say, that it consists mainly of a lot of digressions in which Harding describes people and events not directly related to the main story of collusion. Whenever a new character is introduced, you tend to get pages of background information, along with descriptions of various places theyve been to, things theyve done in the past, and so on. At the start of the book, for instance, Harding introduces Christopher Steele, who prepared an infamous dossier purportedly based on secret sources within the Kremlin, which made all sort of extreme accusations against Trump. We learn about Steeles parents, his childhood, his education, his career, and so on. Harding recounts how he met Steele. We learn about how they tried one café, then another, who drank what, etc, etc. This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the book. There’s a lot of padding. This padding makes Collusion an easy read, and gives it colour, and the flavour of a spy novel. But none of it adds anything to our knowledge of Donald Trump and his relationship with Russia. Its just filler, designed to cover up the fact that, when it comes to the matter of collusion, Harding doesnt have a whole lot new to say and certainly doesnt have enough to fill up an entire book.

The second thing to note is that Hardings modes of argumentation and standards of evidence are not  – how can I be polite about this? what Im used to as an academic. Lets take the example of Trumps former convention manager, Paul Manafort, to whom Harding devotes an entire chapter, obviously on the basis that the Trump-Manafort connection somehow proves a Trump-Kremlin connection. The problem Harding has is that, despite pages of fluff about Manafort, he hasnt got any evidence that Manafort is a Kremlin agent. In fact, he quotes one source a former Ukrainian official, Oleg Voloshin as telling him that when Manafort worked as a political advisor to Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich:

Manafort was an advocate for US interests. So much so that the joke inside the Party of Regions [in Ukraine] was that he actually worked for the USA. He supported Ukraines association with NATO and with the EU. He warned Yanukovich not to lock up [former Prime Minister Iuliia] Tymoshenko. If it werent for Paul, Ukraine would have gone under Russia much earlier, Voloshin told me.

This is pretty funny behaviour for a Kremlin agent, and Harding has to admit that, Its unclear to what extent, if any, Manafort was involved in supplying intelligence to Russia. This doesnt fit with the conclusion that Harding obviously wants readers to draw that Manafort was a Kremlin agent, and so Trump must be too. So, he comes up with something else: some of Manaforts associates in Ukraine were rumoured to have links with Russian intelligence. Note the use of the word rumoured. Its not exactly convincing, but its good enough for Luke, who uses it to tell a story about one such associate, Konstantin Kilimnik. Harding recounts that he contacted Kilimnik by email to ask him about his relationship with Manafort. Kilimnik responds by telling him that the collusion accusations are  insane and gibberish, and signs off his email with a bit of self-mockery: Off to collect my paycheck at KGB. :))

And heres where it gets interesting. For Harding thinks theres something suspicious about Kilimniks answer. He writes:

The thing which gave me pause was Kilimniks use of smiley faces. True, Russians are big emoticon fans. But Id seen something similar before. In 2013 the Russian diplomat in charge of political influence operations in London was named Sergey Nalobin. Nalobin had close links with Russian intelligence. He was the son of a KGB general; his brother had worked for the FSB; Nalobin looked like a career foreign intelligence officer. Maybe even a deputy resident, the KGB term for station chief. On his Twitter feed Nalobin described himself thus:

A brutal agent of the Putin dictatorship : )

And thats it. Thats Hardings evidence. Just to make sure readers get the point, he follows the last line up with a double paragraph space. Stop and think what this means, he seems to be saying. Someone who looked like a career foreign intelligence officer uses smiley faces. Kilimnik uses smiley faces!!! Say no more.

This is the level at which Hardings logic works. Harding recounts a meeting of Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the White House, a meeting which was photographed by someone from the Russian news agency TASS. As Harding tells us:

The Times put the photo of Trump and Lavrov on its front page. At the bottom of the photo taken inside the White House was a credit. It said: Russian Foreign Ministry.

Yet another double paragraph break follows,  just to make sure that readers take in the implication of what this means.

Take another example. We learn (which in fact we knew already if wed been following this story) that Trumps short-lived National Security Advisor, and former head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, Michael Flynn, attended a conference on the subject of intelligence at Cambridge University, where he met a Russian woman, Svetlana Lokhova. Harding admits that, There is no suggestion she is linked to Russian intelligence. Nevertheless, he feels it necessary to tell us that Flynn later corresponded with her by email. He writes:

In his emails, Flynn signed off in an unusual way for a US spy. He called himself General Misha.

Misha is the Russian equivalent of Michael.

Again, Harding then introduces a section break, leaving this ominous fact hanging in the air. Think of what it means, he is saying!

This is typical of how Harding argues. He puts in some suspicious sounding fact, or asks some question, and then just leaves it hanging. The implication is that the question doesnt need answering, that the most damaging and extreme answer is obviously true. Theres an awful lot of this technique in Collusion. Harding spends pages on a digression about Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybovlev before telling us that Rybovlevs private jet sometimes parks next to that of Donald Trump. Seems suspicious, huh? Except that Harding tells us that, The White House said that Trump and Rybovlev had never met. This appears to be true. But Harding isnt satisfied, and asks, Had he [Rybovlev] perhaps met someone else from Trumps entourage during his travels? Like, for example, Trumps personal lawyer Michael Cohen? Later, Harding tells us that Rybovlevs yacht was once at Dubrovnik at the same time as Ivanka Trumps yacht. Was this perhaps planned he asks.

Hardings method is to ask these questions, as if asking was itself proof of guilt. Trump borrowed money from Deutsche Bank. Deutsche Bank was bailed out at one point by the Russian bank VTB. Was there a connection? Harding asks. But Harding doesnt answer these questions. In fact, one of the interesting things about this book is that again and again the author has to confess that the facts dont really fit what hes trying to say. For instance, when discussing Trump and Deutsche Bank, and trying to make it sound as if Trump was in some way connected to the Kremlin because he was borrowing from the Germans, Harding writes, The sources insist that the answer was negative. No trail to Moscow was ever discovered, they told us.

This isnt a lone example. Harding spends quite a few pages discussing Carter Page, a businessman who appeared on RT and gave a talk at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, and who at one point had a marginal role in the Trump election campaign. Its clear that he wants it all to sound really damaging. And yet, he writes that Pages attempts to meet Trump individually failed. So, it turns out that theres not much of a connection there after all. Likewise, when discussing Russian computer hackers, Harding writes: By the second decade of the twenty-first century the cyber world looked like the high seas of long ago. The hackers who sailed on it might be likened to privateers. Sometimes they acted for the state, sometimes against it. This rather undermines his claim that the Russian state was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

In another example, Harding discusses the sudden death of Oleg Erovinkin, who worked for the oil company Rosneft. He speculates that Erovinkin was Steeles source deep inside Rosneft, and was murdered because word of Steeles document had leaked out. The murder, he implies, is proof of the dossiers validity. Except that Harding admits that, there was nothing suspicious about Erovinkins sudden death and Steele was adamant that Erovinkin wasnt his source. Yet this doesnt stop Harding from writing that, in the wake of the dossier the Kremlin did appear to be wiping out some kind of American or Western espionage network. It certainly looked that way.

I could give other examples, but I cant make this review too long. The point is that Harding ignores his own evidence. He argues by innuendo, and on occasion he just lets his imagine run away with itself. Steeles dossier alleged that Trump had hired prostitutes while on a trip to Moscow. Vladimir Putins response was to crack a joke about Russian prostitutes being the best in the world. But to Harding it wasnt a joke. As he writes:

Putin may have been sending a second message, darkly visible beneath the choppy, translucent waters of the first. It said: weve got the tape, Donald!

I wish I could say that this book was a joke. If you were going to write a parody of the collusion story, this is perhaps what it would look like. Unfortunately, Harding is deadly serious and I suspect that a lot of uncritical readers will soak it all up, not stopping to reflect on the awful methodology. So, I end on a word of warning. By all means read this book. But dont do so in order to find out the truth about Donald Trump and Russia; do so in order to understand the methods currently being used to enflame Russian-Western relations. In that respect, Collusion is really quite revealing.

What’s the Matter with Eastern Europe? – Common Dreams


Common Dreams
What’s the Matter with Eastern Europe?
Common Dreams
They’d suffered the early consequences of the shock therapy economic reforms that would soon be introduced across much ofEastern Europe and, after 1991, Russia. Although the Polish economy had finally stabilized, unemployment had, by the end of 1990 

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Lavrov Says ‘Key Issues’ Regarding Caspian Legal Status Solved

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said the five Caspian states have agreed on “all the outstanding key issues” regarding the legal status of the Caspian Sea.

Is Vladimir Putin really the evil genius behind Donald Trump? – TheRecord.com


TheRecord.com
Is Vladimir Putin really the evil genius behind Donald Trump?
TheRecord.com
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the West became accustomed to a diminished Russia. To see it reasserting itself today in its traditional spheres of influence Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Baltic states, Central Asia is 

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Is Vladimir Putin really the evil genius behind Donald Trump? – TheSpec.com


TheSpec.com
Is Vladimir Putin really the evil genius behind Donald Trump?
TheSpec.com
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the West became accustomed to a diminished Russia. To see it reasserting itself today in its traditional spheres of influence Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Baltic states, Central Asia is 

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US Using Political Pressure to Draw Balkans Into NATO – Russian Foreign Ministry – Sputnik International


Sputnik International
US Using Political Pressure to Draw Balkans Into NATO – Russian Foreign Ministry
Sputnik International
The Western states repeatedly raised concerns with regard to the joint drills, saying that the Russian troops, deployed in Belarus for the military exercises, were likely to stay in the country afterward, which was repeatedly refuted by Russia. Moscow 

Russia’s summit in Sochi mirrored the 1945 carve-up of Europe – The National


The National
Russia’s summit in Sochi mirrored the 1945 carve-up of Europe
The National
Despite the fact that the agreement produced in Yalta spoke of free determination and democracy, in retrospect, we know that the meeting lay the groundwork for what became the Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe. Similarly, despite the fact that the 

Growing gaps in US, European interests as Tillerson crosses the Atlantic – Arab News

Growing gaps in US, European interests as Tillerson crosses the Atlantic
Arab News
His speech noted some areas of shared interest between the US and Europe, but even in these cases it is complicated. For example, there is European interest in increasing liquefied natural gas imports from the US, but there are challenges over price 

Mueller removed FBI agent from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts: reports – Reuters


Reuters
Mueller removed FBI agent from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts: reports
Reuters
In apparent reference to the case, the Justice Department inspector general’s office said in a statement on Saturday that it was reviewing allegations involving communications between certain individuals. The matter came up during a review that the 

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Budapest Summit: The Silk Road Comes to Europe – Sputnik International


Sputnik International
Budapest Summit: The Silk Road Comes to Europe
Sputnik International
Serbia is therefore indispensable to China, while the Central and Eastern European powerhouse of Poland holds crucial importance because of its dual north-south and even east-west connectivity potential, though the latter vector will only be fully

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Russia won’t heed US request to break ties with North Korea, Lavrov says – ABC News


Newsweek
Russia won’t heed US request to break ties with North Korea, Lavrov says
ABC News
Russia looked negatively on U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley’s call for countries to end relations with North Korea and believes that sanctions pressure is exhausted, according to a read-out of Lavrov’s address to reporters at a 
North Korea Is Bluffing With New Missile Range Threats, Says Russian SenatorNewsweek
Nuclear Weapons And Russian-North Korean RelationsForeign Policy Research Institute (press release) (blog)

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Seeking Russian Presidency, Socialite Hits the Campaign Trail

Ksenia Sobchak, a television journalist and opposition candidate, opened a campaign office and vowed to stir a national discussion about what is wrong with Russia.

Gay Soccer Fans Warned To Not Hold Hands In Russia At 2018 World Cup – HuffPost


HuffPost
Gay Soccer Fans Warned To Not Hold Hands In Russia At 2018 World Cup
HuffPost
Gay people have a place in Russia which is quite hidden and underground. Russia in 2013 passed what is called a gay propaganda law to prohibit promoting homosexuality. Attacks against LGBT people are not uncommon and the situation in theRussian 
Welcome to Russia 2018, the most political World Cup in history and one unlike any we have ever seen beforeThe Independent
Russia will allow rainbow flags at World Cup despite ‘gay propaganda law’International Business Times UK
Gay Soccer Fans Warned Not To Hold Hands At Russian World CupExpressNewsline
GkMen –10,000 Couples
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Artificial Swarm Intelligence Says Vladimir Putin Will be TIME’s Person of the Year – Futurism


Futurism
Artificial Swarm Intelligence Says Vladimir Putin Will be TIME’s Person of the Year
Futurism
When it comes to predicting the future, Google’s top engineer Ray Kurzweil is the futurist who holds the high score. The so-called future teller has an estimated 86 percent accuracy rate for his predictions. When it comes to making predictions 

Meet Mike Pompeo, your likely new and Trump-friendly secretary of state – Vox


Vox
Meet Mike Pompeo, your likely new and Trump-friendly secretary of state
Vox
In the 11 months he’s been in his post, Pompeo has quickly developed a close relationship with the president. He gives thepresident daily intelligence briefings, as well as his thoughts on whatever political or national security issue might be 

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Israel & the South Caucasus – Georgia Today


Georgia Today
Israel & the South Caucasus
Georgia Today
Moreover, the region is also a hotbed of ethnic fighting with three ongoing separatist conflicts in South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh further complicating political stability. However, the South Caucasus’ strategic location, which lies 

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8:07 AM 12/8/2017 – Putin and Russia’s 2018 Election – STRATFOR

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Putin and Russia’s 2018 Election – STRATFOR

Russian Military Wants To Help Trump Destroy ISIS in Iraq – Newsweek
Russia Takes a Step Toward the Post-Putin Era – Bloomberg
Russia Takes a Step Toward the Post-Putin Era
Mike Flynn and the Russians: Was he reckless, greedy or hopelessly corrupt?
Tillerson Says the US Will Never Accept Crimea Annexation – New York Times
FBI director defends bureau’s integrity as critics question handling of Trump, Clinton probes – Washington Post
Mikhail Lesin’s death swung attention to Russia after Obama’s intelligence fiasco – Washington Times
Bitcoins soar to heavens in value, but leave a staggering toll on earthly environment
The Strange Tale of Peter Strzok – The Atlantic
The Evolving Stalemate Between Russia and the West – STRATFOR
Can the president obstruct justice?
Russian Colonel General Identified as Key MH17 Figure – bellingcat
Why the Kremlin is suddenly admitting that it rigged the election in Donald Trumps favor
Donald Trump: The huge Israel announcement has overshadowed the Russia turmoil at home – ABC Online
Hannity: Trump-Russia Probe ‘A House Of Cards Beginning to Crash Down’ – Fox News Insider
Criminals are cashing in on Bitcoins for illegal activity from buying drugs, hiring hitmen and forging passports on … – The Sun
Criminals are cashing in on Bitcoins for illegal activity from buying drugs, hiring hitmen and forging passports on the Dark Web
Bitcoins – Google Search
Bitcoins – Google Search
Rachel Maddow Explains Mystery Around Arrests of High-Level Russian Intelligence Officers – AlterNet
Rachel Maddow Explains Mystery Around Arrests of High-Level Russian Intelligence Officers
NYPD Security Theater Takes Manhattan – Streetsblog New York (blog)
6 hurt in 3-vehicle accident near World Trade Center – New York Daily News
6 hurt in road-rage crash in Lower Manhattan – Fox5NY

 

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Putin and Russia’s 2018 Election – STRATFOR

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STRATFOR
Putin and Russia’s 2018 Election
STRATFOR
As the world continues to focus on the 2016 U.S. presidential election and claims of Russian involvement more than a year later, Russia is preparing for its own presidential election season in 2018. In this episode of the Stratfor Podcast, Vice 

Russian Military Wants To Help Trump Destroy ISIS in Iraq – Newsweek

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Newsweek
Russian Military Wants To Help Trump Destroy ISIS in Iraq
Newsweek
Russia has offered to assist the U.S. in the final stages of the fight against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in Iraq after Moscow declared total victory against the jihadis in neighboring Syria. Russia has long questioned the effectiveness 
ISIS defeat in Syria ‘significant step, but remnants may regroup elsewhere’RT

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Russia Takes a Step Toward the Post-Putin Era – Bloomberg

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Bloomberg
Russia Takes a Step Toward the Post-Putin Era
Bloomberg
He has held on to illegally annexed Crimea, and the Kremlin retained operational control over the mob-run, separatist “people’s republics” in eastern Ukraine, most recently through what looked like an engineered coup in one of them. Putin was held back 
Top Vladimir Putin Critic Pays Visit To SCFITSNews
US govt could ‘lose perspective’ & move towards war – Oliver StoneRT

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Russia Takes a Step Toward the Post-Putin Era

mikenova shared this story .

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement that he would run for a fourth term as president was long predicted, though it seemed to some Russian observers (incorrectly) that he waited unusually long to make it. Less predictable is how the system Putin built will plan its perpetuation after his term ends in 2024, when he’s constitutionally barred from running again.

Putin’s third term has been his most important one, more momentous even than his first, in 2000-2004, which was marked by U.S. Republican-style economic reforms, a flat income tax, the harsh taming of the 1990s oligarchs and the recentralization of power. In 2012-2018, Putin abandoned any pretense of playing along with the U.S. and its European allies and sought to make it clear to the rest of the world that Pax Americana was ending. In that, he has been largely successful. He has, however, neglected the base on which his geopolitical achievements rest — his own Russia, the vast, still poor, increasingly cynical and potentially very angry nation that Putin may not quite represent, or even run, anymore.

Putin claims his biggest successes outside of Russia. He has held on to illegally annexed Crimea, and the Kremlin retained operational control over the mob-run, separatist “people’s republics” in eastern Ukraine, most recently through what looked like an engineered coup in one of them. Putin was held back from further territorial gains by cost considerations — it appears important to him to keep regular military casualties low while making proxies shoulder most of the burden — but his minimum goals, including instability in Ukraine, have been achieved. It’s obvious even to the most biased observers that, despite massive Western support, modern Ukraine is a corrupt mess that is hardly more European than when its people decided to break away from the Russian orbit at the beginning of Putin’s third term.

Despite U.S. resistance, Putin helped his Syrian ally, President Bashar al-Assad, win his civil war. At the end of 2017, it’s clear that if Assad is leaving at all, he’s not being toppled, the way the U.S. and its allies toppled Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi. Putin’s successful, resource-light intervention has redrawn the Middle Eastern relationship map, helping effectively rip Turkey out of the Western alliance and forcing even Saudi Arabia to seek a good working relationship with Moscow, which was solidified by an oil policy alliance.

Putin has also given hope to illiberal forces throughout Europe, which failed to win critical elections this year but which will remain useful allies. And, deservedly or not, Russia has been established in the Western elite’s mind as a hacking superpower, a different kind of tech force than the U.S. with its commercial internet behemoths. It’s a reputation Putin is looking to strengthen by embracing cryptocurrency technology as an alternative to the Western-dominated financial system.

All of this has cost Russia its place in the G-8 and its vague aspirations to membership in a greater Europe, stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok. But it hasn’t made Russia a pariah to the rest of the world, most notably to China, which has benignly allowed Putin to shake the foundations of the Western-led global order. Putin’s third term will likely be remembered as the four years that made a multi-polar world if not a reality, then a possibility.

But as Putin’s skill was applied to geopolitics, he was an increasingly absent feudal lord at home. Gleb Pavlovsky, a Kremlin political operator during Putin’s early years in power, captured this feeling best in an interview with Echo Moskvy radio on Wednesday:

For the world, it’s Putin’s Russia. But inside, it’s no longer Putin’s, it’s already post-Putin, and all the main players in it try, so to say, to make their own moves, set up their own chessmen, build up a potential for the moment Putin is no longer there. Putin is just walking around trying to get in on this process. I don’t think it’s possible for him to own it anymore.

Indeed, if first- and second-term Putin was a competent micromanager, making all the important decisions and mediating every significant conflict, Putin now appears to have lost that ability.

One high-profile example is the ongoing trial of former economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev, against whom a close Putin associate, Igor Sechin, the head of state-owned oil giant Rosneft, organized a sting operation to accuse him of extorting a $2 million bribe. The trial has been open to the press, and the secretive Rosneft chief has suffered the indignity of being repeatedly summoned to appear and inventing excuses not to. This is the kind of conflict that, in earlier days, Putin wouldn’t have allowed to play out in the open — at least not for long.

Another example is the defiant independence of Ramzan Kadyrov, the Putin-installed head of Chechnya. His conspicuous wealth, violent suppression of opponents and insistence on conservative Islamic values in a secular state are an ongoing challenge to Moscow’s authority — but Kadyrov’s warlord reputation seems to keep the federal law enforcement apparatus at bay. Again, Putin hasn’t intervened.

Even the banishment of Russian officials from next year’s winter Olympics is indicative of Putin’s weakening leadership. Russian state propaganda outlets discuss it in terms of geopolitical retribution — but Putin could have staged a domestic clean-up and kicked out officials who had, at best, failed to out a doping conspiracy in Russian sports and at worst, participated in it. He could then have appealed to his old friend International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach for support. Yet no such clean-up has taken place, indicating Putin’s remoteness and relative indifference.

Throughout the third term, Putin also drifted on economic policy. Little was done to prepare Russia for an era of low oil prices. A modest agricultural boom which has turned the country into a top grain exporter is no substitute for the lost hydrocarbon revenues, and snail-paced economic growth based on a borrowing-fueled consumption surge isn’t enough to generate economic optimism. Putin has repeatedly shown a reluctance to promote any bold change that would show Russians a more hopeful future.

Though Putin remains by far Russia’s most popular politician, Russians have been apathetic about the March election. According to Levada Center’s latest poll, only 58 percent of voters intend to cast ballots. In 2012, 65.3 percent turned out, and polls at the same time in the electoral cycle indicated that more than two-thirds would cast votes. Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption activist and Putin’s only serious opponent, won’t be allowed to run against him despite months of campaigning and mustering visible support in the Russian hinterland, especially among the young. He has promised to campaign actively for a boycott of the election.

The Soviet-style campaign announcement on Wednesday — during a visit to a truck factory in Nizhny Novgorod, where a worker asked him a “spontaneous” question about the election — is evidence of the Kremlin’s lack of ideas, characteristic of its domestic policy during Putin’s third term. Putin’s legitimacy after his inevitable win will be the lowest of his reign, spurring an ever more active battle for succession, in which new players are likely to start emerging as soon as Putin is re-enthroned.

Putin has cast Russia in the role of the world’s biggest geopolitical disruptor. But its current performance is unsustainable without coherent, successful domestic policies. Putin has presided over, indeed enabled, a corrupt, inefficiently run country where people — including those in the top echelons of business and power — just fend for themselves as best they can. The question of what kind of future Russia might have will arise after Putin’s re-election, and Putin won’t necessarily have much say in it.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Therese Raphael at traphael4@bloomberg.net

Mike Flynn and the Russians: Was he reckless, greedy or hopelessly corrupt?

mikenova shared this story .

According to the whistle-blower, Copson said, “This is the start of something I have been working on for years. Mike has been putting everything in place for us.” Copson allegedly turned his phone around when he received the text, displaying the message from Flynn that the project was “good to go.” This would mean that Flynn’s first action for the new president was to let his former business partners know that their plan to build nuclear reactors with Russian partners was on.

Think about this for a moment. By this time, Flynn and everyone else in the country was aware that Russia had interfered in the election and that there was serious suspicion surrounding the Trump campaign’s and transition team’s dealings with Russian actors. They knew about the “Steele dossier” because it had been written up in Mother Jones before the election, and Trump himself had been briefed on it by FBI Director James Comey. If what this whistle-blower says is true, Flynn was even more reckless than we knew.

This news is especially damning since we already know that Flynn failed to disclose trips to the Middle East on behalf of ACU when he filed his security clearance renewal application in 2016. It means that his memory was sharp enough to call his friend even before Trump had finished his speech, but not good enough to remember to put his dubious business activities on his disclosure forms. And Robert Mueller knew all about it.

Flynn has made the case in public that it’s important to engage in business deals with Russian interests because the United States needs the Russian government to help fight ISIS. It’s even possible that’s what he thought he was doing — along with lining up a fat payday. According to The Washington Post, Flynn pushed this plan relentlessly during his brief tenure in the White House as national security adviser and his staff kept pushing it even after he left, without really understanding why they were doing it, just knowing that Flynn insisted it was a high priority.

Tillerson Says the US Will Never Accept Crimea Annexation – New York Times

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New York Times
Tillerson Says the US Will Never Accept Crimea Annexation
New York Times
After his talks with Mr. Putin in November on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting in Danang, Vietnam, Mr. Trump emphasized that he believed Mr. Putin was sincere in his denials of interference in the 2016 United States 
Tillerson says Ukraine key sticking point in US-Russia tiesWCAX
Is Rapprochement with Russia Still Possible?The American Conservative

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FBI director defends bureau’s integrity as critics question handling of Trump, Clinton probes – Washington Post

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Washington Post
FBI director defends bureau’s integrity as critics question handling of Trump, Clinton probes
Washington Post
FBI Director Christopher A. Wray defended the agency’s integrity Thursday, telling skeptical Republican lawmakers that its agents are decent people committed to the highest principles of integrity and respect.” Wray was asked at the House Judiciary
FBI Director Christopher Wray defends agency after Trump’s attacksCNN
FBI Director Wray grilled by Republicans over ‘bias’ concerns in Russia, Clinton email casesFox News
FBI Director Christopher Wray defends bureau amid turbulence over Russia investigationLos Angeles Times
USA TODAY –CBS News –U.S. News & World Report –Business Insider
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Mikhail Lesin’s death swung attention to Russia after Obama’s intelligence fiasco – Washington Times

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Mikhail Lesin’s death swung attention to Russia after Obama’s intelligence fiasco
Washington Times
How exactly did the corpse of Mikhail Lesin, Moscow’s most influential media magnate and the founder of the Kremlin-backed global satellite TV network Russia Today, or RT, wind up in a Washington hotel room just a mile from the White House almost

Bitcoins soar to heavens in value, but leave a staggering toll on earthly environment

mikenova shared this story from National News |.

The jump in value of bitcoins has been nothing short of precipitous: A bitcoin that started 2017 worth $1,023 was trading at $16,999 at 2 p.m. Thursday. The currency has … Click to Continue »

The Strange Tale of Peter Strzok – The Atlantic

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The Atlantic
The Strange Tale of Peter Strzok
The Atlantic
Nationwide, law enforcement tends to lean right, and during the campaign, Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani acknowledged receiving secrets from FBI insiders. While the Justice Department has a clear code of ethics, it does not preclude employees from holding 

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The Evolving Stalemate Between Russia and the West – STRATFOR

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STRATFOR
The Evolving Stalemate Between Russia and the West
STRATFOR
Those efforts have substantially boosted Russian influence in the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific, and it has followed by deepening its ties in other strategic theaters such as Afghanistan, Venezuela and Libya. Initially, Russia appeared to be 
Tillerson says Ukraine key sticking point in US-Russia tiesABC News
Is Rapprochement with Russia Still Possible?The American Conservative

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Can the president obstruct justice?

mikenova shared this story from Post Politics.

Can the president obstruct justice?

One of President Trumps private lawyers, John Dowd, made a bold claim Monday that a president cannot be found guilty of obstruction of justice. The statement raised a lot of questions for legal experts when it comes to laws applying to the American presidency: Can a president obstruct justice? Or is he immune from this as […]

Russian Colonel General Identified as Key MH17 Figure – bellingcat

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bellingcat
Russian Colonel General Identified as Key MH17 Figure
bellingcat
The investigation has identified, to a high degree of certainty, Delfin as Colonel General Nikolai Fedorovich Tkachev, currently serving as the Chief Inspector of the Central Military District of the Russian Federation. Photographs, videos, and audio 

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Why the Kremlin is suddenly admitting that it rigged the election in Donald Trumps favor

mikenova shared this story from Palmer Report.

After a year of largely denying it, even while throwing in the occasional wink, the Russian government is now finally admitting that it rigged the United States presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor. It’s not saying so in exact words. Instead it’s acknowledging through a state-controlled media outlet that it arrested one of its own intel officers for admitting to the U.S. that Russia rigged the election. Rachel Maddow broke this news on her show, but left it an open question as to why Russia is choosing now. I have some thoughts on that.

Keep in mind that just yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he’s “running” for reelection in early 2018 after all. I’m putting “running” in quotes because he’ll rig this election like he always does, and he’ll win automatically. But this announcement is something of a surprise, because just a week ago, someone planted a series of stories in major European newspapers which claimed Putin was considering retiring. These stories had to have been planted by the Russian oligarchs as a warning to Putin: get your act together on this nonsense with Trump and sanctions, or we will put you out of business.

To be clear, even though Putin has total control over his puppet Trump, there is nothing that Putin can do to get Trump to lift U.S. sanctions on Russia. Both political parties are intent on increasing those sanctions, in retaliation for Putin’s decision to rig the election for Trump. There is only one possible way Putin can get those sanctions lifted, even though it may be a long shot, and he’s savvy enough to know it.

The United States will continue to take a defensive and punitive position toward Russia as long as Donald Trump illegitimately remains in power. If Trump is gone, and Russia begins to atone for its sins, then maybe those sanctions get incrementally walked back as a way of encouraging future good behavior. I’m not saying Putin is preparing to oust Trump in the hope of keeping his oligarchs happy. I’m just saying I think he’s testing the waters for ousting Trump by admitting today that he rigged the election. Watch Putin’s next move carefully.

The post Why the Kremlin is suddenly admitting that it rigged the election in Donald Trump’s favorappeared first on Palmer Report.

Donald Trump: The huge Israel announcement has overshadowed the Russia turmoil at home – ABC Online

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ABC Online
Donald Trump: The huge Israel announcement has overshadowed the Russia turmoil at home
ABC Online
It’s a move that the President had promised to deliver from way back when he was just candidate Trump. It’s also something that many Presidents have said they’d do but haven’t and it’s largely supported by the Washington Establishment. The White 
Donald Trump’s Jerusalem announcement faces further backlash: Russia, Canada, Pakistan condemn US decisionFirstpost
Forget Russia, Israel Actual Foreign Power Collaborating With Team TrumpSputnik International

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Hannity: Trump-Russia Probe ‘A House Of Cards Beginning to Crash Down’ – Fox News Insider

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Fox News Insider
Hannity: Trump-Russia Probe ‘A House Of Cards Beginning to Crash Down’
Fox News Insider
Sean Hannity said in his Opening Monologue that the federal investigation into President Trump is becoming a “house of cards [that is] beginning to crash down.” Hannity said that the increasing tally of probe-related officials to be shown to have 

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Criminals are cashing in on Bitcoins for illegal activity from buying drugs, hiring hitmen and forging passports on … – The Sun

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The Sun
Criminals are cashing in on Bitcoins for illegal activity from buying drugs, hiring hitmen and forging passports on …
The Sun
I hope the authorities sit up and take notice of this report, which suggests highly dangerous individuals and criminal organisations are using a cloak of anonymity surrounding Bitcoin to finance crime. Regulation of crypto-currencies is long overdue 

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Criminals are cashing in on Bitcoins for illegal activity from buying drugs, hiring hitmen and forging passports on the Dark Web

mikenova shared this story from The Sun.

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News Corp is a network of leading companies in the worlds of diversified media, news, education, and information services.

The Sun, A News UK Company

All Tech

A Sun investigation has now proved that Bitcoin is linked to a range of serious crimes on the Dark Web

Exclusive

By Miles Goslett and Nick Pritchard

8th December 2017, 2:03 am

Updated: 8th December 2017, 4:22 am

THE smartly dressed young woman barely attracted a glance as she swept into the second-hand electronics store and approached the Bitcoin machine.

Standing there for half an hour, she peeled off £50 notes from a fat roll and fed them into the slot — until £10,000 in sterling had been converted into the electronic currency that only exists online.

When she came back the next day to do the same, store manager Simao Arinto became suspicious.

“It was £50 after £50 after £50,” said the boss of the CeX store in central London’s Tottenham Court Road.

“She told us she got some kind of insurance that paid out for some kind of disease. What was the truth? Who knows?”

The police, however, believe they do know the truth, warning this week that this fast-growing digital cryptocurrency is being exploited by organised criminals who use Bitcoin cashpoints to launder dirty cash.

Bitcoins were being traded for around $20,000 each yesterday as speculators created the biggest buying rush the world markets have ever seen.

Some exchanges saw the value of the digital currency 52 percent rise at its peak yesterday – with the past seven days seeing a 72 per cent rise.

The astronomical price increases–driven by demand for the coins the numbers of which are limited–are the biggest in the history of modern financial markets, even beating ‘Tulip Mania’, a 17th century financial crash that became known as the first financial ‘bubble’.

Bitcoin’s price has gone up faster in past three years than the price of tulip bulbs did before that bubble burst, according to figures from the New York firm Convoy Investments.

Now a Sun investigation has proved that Bitcoin is also linked to a range of serious crimes thanks to the anonymity it offers.

Within minutes of logging on to the Dark Web — an encrypted corner of the internet that can only be accessed by special browsers — we found organised criminals offering a chilling array of services.

For payment in Bitcoin, we could get a computer hacker to “destroy a business or a person’s life”, buy drugs, passports, cloned credit cards and counterfeit money or even order acid attacks, rape and murder.

Bitcoins only exist as lines of computer code and are created and stored online–and the surge in value means that criminals who had previously been paid in Bitcoin are seeing their wealth rise astronomically.

They can be ‘mined’ by computer users using software that both verifies other people’s transactions and generates a new ‘block’ of code by solving increasingly complex mathematical problems.

They were created in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto — an unknown person or group — but have surged in value by more than 1,400 per cent this year alone.

They hit a peak this week when one unit went from being worth £8,750 on Tuesday to £12,500 Thursday at the time of writing. The value has probably risen again since.

Bitcoin’s rapid rise is fuelled by the fact there is a limited supply — only 21million will ever exist — and that it is completely unregulated by banks and governments, making it attractive for criminals or those who want to keep their transactions secret.

One of the first sites we come across on the Dark Web is Dream Market, where a gram of super-strength cocaine costs 0.00344 of a Bitcoin, the equivalent of £43.

The vendor, called Drugkingz, promises to ship it anywhere in the UK or Ireland.

Another site, called Clone Card Crew, offers cloned credit cards, and boasts: “All cards are skimmed and cloned. They are legal to receive. Using them is a different thing.”

One truly disturbing site is Slayers Hitmen. The online agency claims to have 48 operatives worldwide who will inflict all sorts of physical attacks in return for Bitcoin.

An assassination by shooting costs the Bitcoin equivalent of £11,185. An acid attack is £3,000, rape £1,500 while a “scare” comes in at £750.

The site asks for 50 per cent of the fee to be deposited upfront in an online Bitcoin wallet.

At the UK Guns and Ammo site, you can buy a new 9mm Glock 19 pistol for 0.04 Bitcoins, worth £500. A new 9mm Walther P99 handgun goes for £650.

Yet another site offers “high quality” fake euros that will apparently pass UV and pen tests and work in vending machines.

Thirty bills, worth 600 euros, cost the Bitcoin equivalent of 315 euros.

Cryptocurrency specialist detective inspector Timothy Court, of the Met’s Organised Crime Group, said this week: “We are seeing criminals using Bitcoin to buy drugs and firearms on the Dark Web and also laundering money with it.

“Cash is hard to move for criminals but cryptocurrency is an easy way to move assets across borders.”

He added that it was an “emerging issue” which is being closely monitored by law enforcement agencies.

Julian Dixon, CEO of anti-money laundering and big data specialists Fortytwo Data, said: “I warmly welcome The Sun’s investigation.

“I hope the authorities sit up and take notice of this report, which suggests highly dangerous individuals and criminal organisations are using a cloak of anonymity surrounding Bitcoin to finance crime.

“Regulation of crypto-currencies is long overdue so the funding of these activities by worldwide criminals, in even the darkest region of the web, ceases.”

The Met’s Serious and Organised Crime Command is carrying out a cryptocurrencies training programme to help sharpen its officers’ awareness of the problem.

But they face an uphill battle combatting it, as detective superintendent Nick Stevens explains.

He said: “Cryptocurrencies are not illegal, but they are unregulated, decentralised currencies that can be quickly transferred across borders then converted into the currency of the country where the funds are received.”

He added that his team is currently investigating several major criminals who use Bitcoin and the Dark Web for “the supply of drugs, firearms, modern slavery and child exploitation”.

The CeX store in Tottenham Court Road is more used to customers buying and selling unwanted DVDs than arriving with large sums of cash.

But that could change now it is one of only 98 UK High Street shops to host a Bitcoin terminal.

Boss Mr Arinto told The Sun that the Bitcoin users he sees are a mixed bunch, but one trait unites them: A desire for privacy. This is not surprising.

The terminals offer an easy way for drug dealers and other criminals to launder cash without having to go through any bank checks.

After notes have been converted into Bitcoins, they can be moved anywhere in the world electronically then withdrawn as clean cash.

They are stored in a virtual wallet on a PC or mobile phone app and can then be withdrawn from another Bitcoin machine in the local currency.

This system makes the cash almost impossible to trace. Mr Arinto said: “I see people from all types of backgrounds. Some try to cover their faces and will look around to see if anyone is looking.

“Some of them come in and make the whole shop stink of weed.

“There is a £400 limit on deposits, but there is no limit on how many deposits you can make and no identity checks.

“You want to ask questions but it’s their personal life.”

That might be so, but it is a problem that has the potential to affect us all.

There are more than 1,300 cryptocurrencies in use, with new ones emerging all the time.

Bitcoin’s extraordinary growth has sparked alarm among police and intelligence agencies across the globe, with the Russian mafia in particular known to be capitalising on the phenomenon.

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The Way It Works

BITCOIN is a form of digital currency, created and held electronically. It is produced by people running powerful computer programs to solve complex mathematical problems. Here we answer the main questions about it.

What makes it different from a normal currency? There are no physical notes or coins, so no single institution controls it. It exists only as lines of computer code. The value of Bitcoin is highly volatile, which has led people to buy it as a risky speculative investment.

Who created it? An anonymous software developer, or possibly developers, known as Satoshi Nakamoto.

Who prints it? No one. Bitcoin is created digitally by a community of people that anyone can join. Bitcoins are “mined” using computing power to solve puzzles and unlock currency units.
is there a limit on how many Bitcoins can be mined? Only 21million Bitcoins can ever be created by miners. However, these coins

can be divided into smaller parts. The smallest divisible amount is one hundred-millionth of a Bitcoin and is called a Satoshi, after the founder.

Is its use truly anonymous? You can set up a Bitcoin address in seconds – and it does not have to be linked to any name or address. But Bitcoin stores details of every single transaction that has ever happened in a huge version of a ledger, called the blockchain. This blockchain tells all about each purchase by each address linked to each Bitcoin.

Detective chief superintendent Mick Gallagher, head of the Met’s Organised Crime Command, says police have been aware of the threat for around 18 months but “at the moment it feels like there is significant growth”.

This week, the Treasury said that money-laundering regulations should be updated to include virtual currencies.

But while we wait for that to happen, law agencies have their work cut out to stop Bitcoin and its rivals allowing requests for serious crimes to be just a few clicks away.

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More than $70 million stolen in bitcoin hack

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Rachel Maddow Explains Mystery Around Arrests of High-Level Russian Intelligence Officers – AlterNet

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Rachel Maddow Explains Mystery Around Arrests of High-Level Russian Intelligence Officers
AlterNet
Well now, from the Russia side, ‘The Bell’ is reporting, based on conversations with acquaintances of the men arrested, that the reason they were arrested is because they were the Russian sources who helped U.S. intelligence services get evidence last 

Rachel Maddow Explains Mystery Around Arrests of High-Level Russian Intelligence Officers

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Over the summer, MSNBC reporter Richard Engle went to Russia to investigate a number of 2016 arrests by the government, including one high-ranking intelligence colonel for the FBS. Engle spoke with an attorney representing one person and was threatened live on camera that even asking the questions he was broaching were dangerous.

Rachel Maddow said that her research staff has been monitoring those arrested. The internal department within Russia’s spy agency, the FSB, called it’s cyber-terrorism division the Information Security Department. She recalled that the United States intelligence agencies described the Russian hack involving two different hacker groups: fancy bear and cozy bear. The Information Security Department was the “cozy bear” in the intelligence information.

At the meeting last year with high-ranking FSB officers, men rushed in and put a black bag over the head of the deputy chief of the Information Security Department.

“And he hasn’t been seen since,” Maddow said. His deputy was also arrested that day along with a senior person with Kaspersky Labs, who was charged with treason. She noted that The New York Times described these arrests as the “highest profile arrests of the FSB since the breakup of the Soviet Union.”

“As we’re all watching from the United States, the progress of this American investigation into what Russia did and whether they had help from the [Donald] Trump campaign,” Maddow continued. “We’re watching that investigation indict the Trump campaign chairman and get a guilty plea from the national security advisor. We’re watching the incredibly dramatic investigations, those arrests at that FSB meeting a year ago, those are the closest things we’ve seen to any kind of parallel action happening on the Russian side. Right?”

She noted that the Russians are not likely to be investigating the hack on the United States or any possibly collusion or conspiracy with the Trump campaign. However, they might want to cover it up.

A new outlet in Russia called “The Bell,” published a report that the reason for the black bag being thrown over the man’s head was that he knew Karate and they were concerned he would resist arrest.

“As Americans, the thing we’re most interested in is whether or not those arrests tell us something or prove to us anything about what Russia did in our election,” Maddow said. “In January, The New York Times reported it was possible Russia might have made those arrests to try to stop the flow of information out of Russia about what the Russian government did to hack the U.S. election.”

They cited two U.S. officials saying, “human sources in Russia did play a crucial role in proving to U.S. investigators who was responsible for the DNC hacking.”

“Well now, from the Russia side, ‘The Bell’ is reporting, based on conversations with acquaintances of the men arrested, that the reason they were arrested is because they were the Russian sources who helped U.S. intelligence services get evidence last year,” Maddow said.

Maddow’s research team hired a Russian translator to review the article and explain that “The Bell” reported, “confirmed that the arrest of Sergey Mikhailov and his comrades is connected with the U.S. elections.”

She explained that this website is a new site that has sprung up out of the blue and that her team is trying to seek out confirmation for the story.

“But if, in fact, the news reports are correct and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has locked up his own people who he believes told U.S. investigators about what Russia did in the election last year, including a colonel at the FSB, one of the top cyber spies, if this reporting from Russia bears out, it would prove one important thing for us and raise an important question for us,” she continued.

She explained that it would prove the Russian government is “full of bull-pucky” when they told President Donald Trump that they had nothing to do with the attacks.

“If they hadn’t actually attacked the election they wouldn’t have to lock up people who told the U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia had attacked our election,” Maddow explained. “You only lock somebody up if they gave out real information, right?”

She went on to wonder why Russia would be allowing this information to surface now.

“That FSB colonel and those arrested with him have been in jail for a year this week,” she said. “Why would the Russian government allow us to know now the reason they have been in jail all this year, because they helped America figure out Russia hacked our election? Why would it be to Russia’s advantage for us to allowed to know this now?”

Unfortunately, only the intelligence community can answer those questions.

Watch the full commentary below:

Sarah K. Burris writes about politics and technology for Raw Story. 

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8:00 AM 12/8/2017 – The Evolving Stalemate Between Russia and the West – STRATFOR

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The Evolving Stalemate Between Russia and the West

mikenova shared this story .

At the beginning of 2017, it appeared as if the strained relationship between Russia and the West was about to undergo a substantial shift. U.S. President Donald Trump, who had campaigned on a platform of improving relations with Russia, was about to be inaugurated. Upcoming elections in the core European Union states of France and Germany offered the possibility that Euroskeptic parties would rise to power, leading to a major change in those countries’ positions, including on maintaining sanctions against Russia. Furthermore, it appeared as if solidarity within NATO, as well as support for Western-leaning states like Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, was in danger of weakening substantially.

But as 2018 approaches, it’s clear that instead of waning, Western pressure against Russia has intensified. In the United States, lawmakers wrested the power to withdraw U.S. sanctions against Russia away from the president, partially as a result of the numerous investigations launched into the extent of Russian interference in U.S. elections. Trump essentially was forced to cede his power to unilaterally lift the penalties in July, and Congress subsequently enacted a stronger sanctions regime against Moscow.

In France, the National Front, a Euroskeptic party, and its pro-Russian presidential candidate Marine Le Pen reached the second round of the country’s presidential election, but Le Pen lost to centrist Emmanuel Macron in the decisive vote. Russia certainly had tried to influence the result in favor of Le Pen, but the exposure of the cyberwarfare and information campaigns it had used to try to influence the outcome of U.S. elections and the revelation that the Kremlin was employing the same techniques in Europe, blunted their effectiveness. The same held true during the German general elections in September, where despite Russian efforts, the anti-establishment Alternative for Germany party did not gain substantial traction, even though it did outperform expectations. After the dust of the European elections settled, the European Union maintained its cohesiveness, and its members voted unanimously to extend sanctions against Russia through the end of 2017.

In the meantime, neither the European Union nor NATO has backed away from the countries on the European/Russian borderland. The United States and the European bloc have been steadfast in their support for Ukraine, and NATO has followed through with the deployment of semipermanent battalions to Poland and the Baltic states. On its side of the border, Russia has built up its forces as well, and while there has been no major confrontation between Russia and NATO, their military standoff has maintained the intensity of past years.

What’s Ahead in 2018?

Several key issues will shape the direction of ties between Russia and the West in 2018. One is the conflict between Russian-backed separatist forces and the Ukrainian government in Ukraine’s east, which is entering its fourth year. Following an escalation of violence along the frontlines in the separatist Donbas region shortly after Trump’s inauguration, military activity has decreased in intensity in recent months. The conflict has now taken on the “semi-frozen” nature typical of those in other Russian-backed breakaway territories in the former Soviet space. In the meantime, diplomatic activity between Russia and the West over the Ukrainian separatist conflict picked up after a suggestion by Russian President Vladimir Putin in September that a U.N. peacekeeping force be deployed to Eastern Ukraine.

Putin’s proposal and associated diplomatic efforts have raised the question of whether the end of the Ukrainian conflict could be in sight in 2018. But given the gap between Russia and the West over the nature and parameters of a potential U.N. mission in Donbas, prolonged negotiations are likely before any agreement could be struck. Russia, on one hand, has suggested the deployment of a limited force purely to protect observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe on the line of contact between Ukrainian security forces and the separatists. But Ukraine and the United States have both called for a deployment to span all of Donbas, including along the border between the separatist territory and Russia. That option essentially would represent a complete abandonment of Russia’s strategic position in Donbas, given that Moscow is thought to funnel troops and weapons to support the rebels over the border. While Russia can use the peacekeeping proposal to show its willingness to negotiate over the conflict in an effort to stave off additional Western pressure, it does not mean that Russia will capitulate to the Ukrainian-U.S. position. What’s more, Russia could drive an escalation of fighting if it suited its needs.

Depending on what ongoing U.S. investigations over Russian election meddling reveal, the United States could escalate its sanctions regime against Russia. And although Trump does not support it, key members of his administration are openly considering sending lethal weaponry to Ukraine. If the United States decides to take either of those actions, Moscow could choose to respond by escalating the conflict in Eastern Ukraine — or responding elsewhere in an asymmetric fashion.

A longtime driver of tensions between Russia and the West has been the ongoing military buildup by both sides along the European borderlands, which shows no signs of slowing. Russia is expected to permanently deploy Iskander short-range ballistic missile systems to its Kaliningrad enclave on a permanent basis at the beginning of 2018, while NATO will set up new Atlantic and logistics commands, as well as increase coordination efforts on Black Sea patrols and cyberdefense capabilities. The continued buildups could add pressure that would interfere with the resumption of already stalled arms control talks between the United States and Russia.

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Can the president obstruct justice?

One of President Trumps private lawyers, John Dowd, made a bold claim Monday that a president cannot be found guilty of obstruction of justice. The statement raised a lot of questions for legal experts when it comes to laws applying to the American presidency: Can a president obstruct justice? Or is he immune from this as […]

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Russian Colonel General Identified as Key MH17 Figure
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Why the Kremlin is suddenly admitting that it rigged the election in Donald Trumps favor
 

mikenova shared this story from Palmer Report.

After a year of largely denying it, even while throwing in the occasional wink, the Russian government is now finally admitting that it rigged the United States presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor. It’s not saying so in exact words. Instead it’s acknowledging through a state-controlled media outlet that it arrested one of its own intel officers for admitting to the U.S. that Russia rigged the election. Rachel Maddow broke this news on her show, but left it an open question as to why Russia is choosing now. I have some thoughts on that.

Keep in mind that just yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he’s “running” for reelection in early 2018 after all. I’m putting “running” in quotes because he’ll rig this election like he always does, and he’ll win automatically. But this announcement is something of a surprise, because just a week ago, someone planted a series of stories in major European newspapers which claimed Putin was considering retiring. These stories had to have been planted by the Russian oligarchs as a warning to Putin: get your act together on this nonsense with Trump and sanctions, or we will put you out of business.

To be clear, even though Putin has total control over his puppet Trump, there is nothing that Putin can do to get Trump to lift U.S. sanctions on Russia. Both political parties are intent on increasing those sanctions, in retaliation for Putin’s decision to rig the election for Trump. There is only one possible way Putin can get those sanctions lifted, even though it may be a long shot, and he’s savvy enough to know it.

The United States will continue to take a defensive and punitive position toward Russia as long as Donald Trump illegitimately remains in power. If Trump is gone, and Russia begins to atone for its sins, then maybe those sanctions get incrementally walked back as a way of encouraging future good behavior. I’m not saying Putin is preparing to oust Trump in the hope of keeping his oligarchs happy. I’m just saying I think he’s testing the waters for ousting Trump by admitting today that he rigged the election. Watch Putin’s next move carefully.

The post Why the Kremlin is suddenly admitting that it rigged the election in Donald Trump’s favorappeared first on Palmer Report.

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Criminals are cashing in on Bitcoins for illegal activity from buying drugs, hiring hitmen and forging passports on the Dark Web
 

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All Tech

A Sun investigation has now proved that Bitcoin is linked to a range of serious crimes on the Dark Web

Exclusive

By Miles Goslett and Nick Pritchard

8th December 2017, 2:03 am

Updated: 8th December 2017, 4:22 am

THE smartly dressed young woman barely attracted a glance as she swept into the second-hand electronics store and approached the Bitcoin machine.

Standing there for half an hour, she peeled off £50 notes from a fat roll and fed them into the slot — until £10,000 in sterling had been converted into the electronic currency that only exists online.

When she came back the next day to do the same, store manager Simao Arinto became suspicious.

“It was £50 after £50 after £50,” said the boss of the CeX store in central London’s Tottenham Court Road.

“She told us she got some kind of insurance that paid out for some kind of disease. What was the truth? Who knows?”

The police, however, believe they do know the truth, warning this week that this fast-growing digital cryptocurrency is being exploited by organised criminals who use Bitcoin cashpoints to launder dirty cash.

Bitcoins were being traded for around $20,000 each yesterday as speculators created the biggest buying rush the world markets have ever seen.

Some exchanges saw the value of the digital currency 52 percent rise at its peak yesterday – with the past seven days seeing a 72 per cent rise.

The astronomical price increases–driven by demand for the coins the numbers of which are limited–are the biggest in the history of modern financial markets, even beating ‘Tulip Mania’, a 17th century financial crash that became known as the first financial ‘bubble’.

Bitcoin’s price has gone up faster in past three years than the price of tulip bulbs did before that bubble burst, according to figures from the New York firm Convoy Investments.

Now a Sun investigation has proved that Bitcoin is also linked to a range of serious crimes thanks to the anonymity it offers.

Within minutes of logging on to the Dark Web — an encrypted corner of the internet that can only be accessed by special browsers — we found organised criminals offering a chilling array of services.

For payment in Bitcoin, we could get a computer hacker to “destroy a business or a person’s life”, buy drugs, passports, cloned credit cards and counterfeit money or even order acid attacks, rape and murder.

Bitcoins only exist as lines of computer code and are created and stored online–and the surge in value means that criminals who had previously been paid in Bitcoin are seeing their wealth rise astronomically.

They can be ‘mined’ by computer users using software that both verifies other people’s transactions and generates a new ‘block’ of code by solving increasingly complex mathematical problems.

They were created in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto — an unknown person or group — but have surged in value by more than 1,400 per cent this year alone.

They hit a peak this week when one unit went from being worth £8,750 on Tuesday to £12,500 Thursday at the time of writing. The value has probably risen again since.

Bitcoin’s rapid rise is fuelled by the fact there is a limited supply — only 21million will ever exist — and that it is completely unregulated by banks and governments, making it attractive for criminals or those who want to keep their transactions secret.

One of the first sites we come across on the Dark Web is Dream Market, where a gram of super-strength cocaine costs 0.00344 of a Bitcoin, the equivalent of £43.

The vendor, called Drugkingz, promises to ship it anywhere in the UK or Ireland.

Another site, called Clone Card Crew, offers cloned credit cards, and boasts: “All cards are skimmed and cloned. They are legal to receive. Using them is a different thing.”

One truly disturbing site is Slayers Hitmen. The online agency claims to have 48 operatives worldwide who will inflict all sorts of physical attacks in return for Bitcoin.

An assassination by shooting costs the Bitcoin equivalent of £11,185. An acid attack is £3,000, rape £1,500 while a “scare” comes in at £750.

The site asks for 50 per cent of the fee to be deposited upfront in an online Bitcoin wallet.

At the UK Guns and Ammo site, you can buy a new 9mm Glock 19 pistol for 0.04 Bitcoins, worth £500. A new 9mm Walther P99 handgun goes for £650.

Yet another site offers “high quality” fake euros that will apparently pass UV and pen tests and work in vending machines.

Thirty bills, worth 600 euros, cost the Bitcoin equivalent of 315 euros.

Cryptocurrency specialist detective inspector Timothy Court, of the Met’s Organised Crime Group, said this week: “We are seeing criminals using Bitcoin to buy drugs and firearms on the Dark Web and also laundering money with it.

“Cash is hard to move for criminals but cryptocurrency is an easy way to move assets across borders.”

He added that it was an “emerging issue” which is being closely monitored by law enforcement agencies.

Julian Dixon, CEO of anti-money laundering and big data specialists Fortytwo Data, said: “I warmly welcome The Sun’s investigation.

“I hope the authorities sit up and take notice of this report, which suggests highly dangerous individuals and criminal organisations are using a cloak of anonymity surrounding Bitcoin to finance crime.

“Regulation of crypto-currencies is long overdue so the funding of these activities by worldwide criminals, in even the darkest region of the web, ceases.”

The Met’s Serious and Organised Crime Command is carrying out a cryptocurrencies training programme to help sharpen its officers’ awareness of the problem.

But they face an uphill battle combatting it, as detective superintendent Nick Stevens explains.

He said: “Cryptocurrencies are not illegal, but they are unregulated, decentralised currencies that can be quickly transferred across borders then converted into the currency of the country where the funds are received.”

He added that his team is currently investigating several major criminals who use Bitcoin and the Dark Web for “the supply of drugs, firearms, modern slavery and child exploitation”.

The CeX store in Tottenham Court Road is more used to customers buying and selling unwanted DVDs than arriving with large sums of cash.

But that could change now it is one of only 98 UK High Street shops to host a Bitcoin terminal.

Boss Mr Arinto told The Sun that the Bitcoin users he sees are a mixed bunch, but one trait unites them: A desire for privacy. This is not surprising.

The terminals offer an easy way for drug dealers and other criminals to launder cash without having to go through any bank checks.

After notes have been converted into Bitcoins, they can be moved anywhere in the world electronically then withdrawn as clean cash.

They are stored in a virtual wallet on a PC or mobile phone app and can then be withdrawn from another Bitcoin machine in the local currency.

This system makes the cash almost impossible to trace. Mr Arinto said: “I see people from all types of backgrounds. Some try to cover their faces and will look around to see if anyone is looking.

“Some of them come in and make the whole shop stink of weed.

“There is a £400 limit on deposits, but there is no limit on how many deposits you can make and no identity checks.

“You want to ask questions but it’s their personal life.”

That might be so, but it is a problem that has the potential to affect us all.

There are more than 1,300 cryptocurrencies in use, with new ones emerging all the time.

Bitcoin’s extraordinary growth has sparked alarm among police and intelligence agencies across the globe, with the Russian mafia in particular known to be capitalising on the phenomenon.

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The Way It Works

BITCOIN is a form of digital currency, created and held electronically. It is produced by people running powerful computer programs to solve complex mathematical problems. Here we answer the main questions about it.

What makes it different from a normal currency? There are no physical notes or coins, so no single institution controls it. It exists only as lines of computer code. The value of Bitcoin is highly volatile, which has led people to buy it as a risky speculative investment.

Who created it? An anonymous software developer, or possibly developers, known as Satoshi Nakamoto.

Who prints it? No one. Bitcoin is created digitally by a community of people that anyone can join. Bitcoins are “mined” using computing power to solve puzzles and unlock currency units.
is there a limit on how many Bitcoins can be mined? Only 21million Bitcoins can ever be created by miners. However, these coins

can be divided into smaller parts. The smallest divisible amount is one hundred-millionth of a Bitcoin and is called a Satoshi, after the founder.

Is its use truly anonymous? You can set up a Bitcoin address in seconds – and it does not have to be linked to any name or address. But Bitcoin stores details of every single transaction that has ever happened in a huge version of a ledger, called the blockchain. This blockchain tells all about each purchase by each address linked to each Bitcoin.

Detective chief superintendent Mick Gallagher, head of the Met’s Organised Crime Command, says police have been aware of the threat for around 18 months but “at the moment it feels like there is significant growth”.

This week, the Treasury said that money-laundering regulations should be updated to include virtual currencies.

But while we wait for that to happen, law agencies have their work cut out to stop Bitcoin and its rivals allowing requests for serious crimes to be just a few clicks away.

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More than $70 million stolen in bitcoin hack

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Rachel Maddow Explains Mystery Around Arrests of High-Level Russian Intelligence Officers – AlterNet
 

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Rachel Maddow Explains Mystery Around Arrests of High-Level Russian Intelligence Officers
AlterNet
Well now, from the Russia side, ‘The Bell’ is reporting, based on conversations with acquaintances of the men arrested, that the reason they were arrested is because they were the Russian sources who helped U.S. intelligence services get evidence last  

Rachel Maddow Explains Mystery Around Arrests of High-Level Russian Intelligence Officers
 

mikenova shared this story from AlterNet.org Main RSS Feed.

Over the summer, MSNBC reporter Richard Engle went to Russia to investigate a number of 2016 arrests by the government, including one high-ranking intelligence colonel for the FBS. Engle spoke with an attorney representing one person and was threatened live on camera that even asking the questions he was broaching were dangerous.

Rachel Maddow said that her research staff has been monitoring those arrested. The internal department within Russia’s spy agency, the FSB, called it’s cyber-terrorism division the Information Security Department. She recalled that the United States intelligence agencies described the Russian hack involving two different hacker groups: fancy bear and cozy bear. The Information Security Department was the “cozy bear” in the intelligence information.

At the meeting last year with high-ranking FSB officers, men rushed in and put a black bag over the head of the deputy chief of the Information Security Department.

“And he hasn’t been seen since,” Maddow said. His deputy was also arrested that day along with a senior person with Kaspersky Labs, who was charged with treason. She noted that The New York Times described these arrests as the “highest profile arrests of the FSB since the breakup of the Soviet Union.”

“As we’re all watching from the United States, the progress of this American investigation into what Russia did and whether they had help from the [Donald] Trump campaign,” Maddow continued. “We’re watching that investigation indict the Trump campaign chairman and get a guilty plea from the national security advisor. We’re watching the incredibly dramatic investigations, those arrests at that FSB meeting a year ago, those are the closest things we’ve seen to any kind of parallel action happening on the Russian side. Right?”

She noted that the Russians are not likely to be investigating the hack on the United States or any possibly collusion or conspiracy with the Trump campaign. However, they might want to cover it up.

A new outlet in Russia called “The Bell,” published a report that the reason for the black bag being thrown over the man’s head was that he knew Karate and they were concerned he would resist arrest.

“As Americans, the thing we’re most interested in is whether or not those arrests tell us something or prove to us anything about what Russia did in our election,” Maddow said. “In January, The New York Times reported it was possible Russia might have made those arrests to try to stop the flow of information out of Russia about what the Russian government did to hack the U.S. election.”

They cited two U.S. officials saying, “human sources in Russia did play a crucial role in proving to U.S. investigators who was responsible for the DNC hacking.”

“Well now, from the Russia side, ‘The Bell’ is reporting, based on conversations with acquaintances of the men arrested, that the reason they were arrested is because they were the Russian sources who helped U.S. intelligence services get evidence last year,” Maddow said.

Maddow’s research team hired a Russian translator to review the article and explain that “The Bell” reported, “confirmed that the arrest of Sergey Mikhailov and his comrades is connected with the U.S. elections.”

She explained that this website is a new site that has sprung up out of the blue and that her team is trying to seek out confirmation for the story.

“But if, in fact, the news reports are correct and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has locked up his own people who he believes told U.S. investigators about what Russia did in the election last year, including a colonel at the FSB, one of the top cyber spies, if this reporting from Russia bears out, it would prove one important thing for us and raise an important question for us,” she continued.

She explained that it would prove the Russian government is “full of bull-pucky” when they told President Donald Trump that they had nothing to do with the attacks.

“If they hadn’t actually attacked the election they wouldn’t have to lock up people who told the U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia had attacked our election,” Maddow explained. “You only lock somebody up if they gave out real information, right?”

She went on to wonder why Russia would be allowing this information to surface now.

“That FSB colonel and those arrested with him have been in jail for a year this week,” she said. “Why would the Russian government allow us to know now the reason they have been in jail all this year, because they helped America figure out Russia hacked our election? Why would it be to Russia’s advantage for us to allowed to know this now?”

Unfortunately, only the intelligence community can answer those questions.

Watch the full commentary below:

Sarah K. Burris writes about politics and technology for Raw Story. 

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Streetsblog New York (blog)
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The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.
Originally published at – https://www.rferl.org/a/daily-vertical-let-power-games-begin/28905016.html

Criminals are cashing in on Bitcoins for illegal activity from buying drugs, hiring hitmen and forging passports on the Dark Web

Source: Criminals are cashing in on Bitcoins for illegal activity from buying drugs, hiring hitmen and forging passports on the Dark Web
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7:01 AM 12/8/2017 – Mystery Around Arrests of High-Level Russian Intelligence Officers

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Rachel Maddow Explains Mystery Around Arrests of High-Level Russian Intelligence Officers

mikenova shared this story from AlterNet.org Main RSS Feed.

Over the summer, MSNBC reporter Richard Engle went to Russia to investigate a number of 2016 arrests by the government, including one high-ranking intelligence colonel for the FBS. Engle spoke with an attorney representing one person and was threatened live on camera that even asking the questions he was broaching were dangerous.

Rachel Maddow said that her research staff has been monitoring those arrested. The internal department within Russia’s spy agency, the FSB, called it’s cyber-terrorism division the Information Security Department. She recalled that the United States intelligence agencies described the Russian hack involving two different hacker groups: fancy bear and cozy bear. The Information Security Department was the “cozy bear” in the intelligence information.

At the meeting last year with high-ranking FSB officers, men rushed in and put a black bag over the head of the deputy chief of the Information Security Department.

“And he hasn’t been seen since,” Maddow said. His deputy was also arrested that day along with a senior person with Kaspersky Labs, who was charged with treason. She noted that The New York Times described these arrests as the “highest profile arrests of the FSB since the breakup of the Soviet Union.”

“As we’re all watching from the United States, the progress of this American investigation into what Russia did and whether they had help from the [Donald] Trump campaign,” Maddow continued. “We’re watching that investigation indict the Trump campaign chairman and get a guilty plea from the national security advisor. We’re watching the incredibly dramatic investigations, those arrests at that FSB meeting a year ago, those are the closest things we’ve seen to any kind of parallel action happening on the Russian side. Right?”

She noted that the Russians are not likely to be investigating the hack on the United States or any possibly collusion or conspiracy with the Trump campaign. However, they might want to cover it up.

A new outlet in Russia called “The Bell,” published a report that the reason for the black bag being thrown over the man’s head was that he knew Karate and they were concerned he would resist arrest.

“As Americans, the thing we’re most interested in is whether or not those arrests tell us something or prove to us anything about what Russia did in our election,” Maddow said. “In January, The New York Times reported it was possible Russia might have made those arrests to try to stop the flow of information out of Russia about what the Russian government did to hack the U.S. election.”

They cited two U.S. officials saying, “human sources in Russia did play a crucial role in proving to U.S. investigators who was responsible for the DNC hacking.”

“Well now, from the Russia side, ‘The Bell’ is reporting, based on conversations with acquaintances of the men arrested, that the reason they were arrested is because they were the Russian sources who helped U.S. intelligence services get evidence last year,” Maddow said.

Maddow’s research team hired a Russian translator to review the article and explain that “The Bell” reported, “confirmed that the arrest of Sergey Mikhailov and his comrades is connected with the U.S. elections.”

She explained that this website is a new site that has sprung up out of the blue and that her team is trying to seek out confirmation for the story.

“But if, in fact, the news reports are correct and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has locked up his own people who he believes told U.S. investigators about what Russia did in the election last year, including a colonel at the FSB, one of the top cyber spies, if this reporting from Russia bears out, it would prove one important thing for us and raise an important question for us,” she continued.

She explained that it would prove the Russian government is “full of bull-pucky” when they told President Donald Trump that they had nothing to do with the attacks.

“If they hadn’t actually attacked the election they wouldn’t have to lock up people who told the U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia had attacked our election,” Maddow explained. “You only lock somebody up if they gave out real information, right?”

She went on to wonder why Russia would be allowing this information to surface now.

“That FSB colonel and those arrested with him have been in jail for a year this week,” she said. “Why would the Russian government allow us to know now the reason they have been in jail all this year, because they helped America figure out Russia hacked our election? Why would it be to Russia’s advantage for us to allowed to know this now?”

Unfortunately, only the intelligence community can answer those questions.

Watch the full commentary below:

Sarah K. Burris writes about politics and technology for Raw Story. 

Rachel Maddow Explains Mystery Around Arrests of High-Level Russian Intelligence Officers – AlterNet

mikenova shared this story from Russian Intelligence services – Google News.

Rachel Maddow Explains Mystery Around Arrests of High-Level Russian Intelligence Officers
AlterNet
Well now, from the Russia side, ‘The Bell’ is reporting, based on conversations with acquaintances of the men arrested, that the reason they were arrested is because they were the Russian sources who helped U.S. intelligence services get evidence last 

Bitcoins – Google Search

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More than $70 million stolen in bitcoin hack

CNNMoney4 hours ago
Hackers have carried out a heist on a leading digital currency platform, making off with bitcoins worth more than $70 million. “Yesterday morning at about 1 a.m. a hacker or a group of hackers was able to infiltrate our systems through a compromised company computer,” NiceHash CEO Marko Kobal said in …
Hackers Steal $70 Million in Bitcoin
Money Magazine21 hours ago
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Why Has Bitcoin’s Price Gone Up So Fast?

New York Times11 hours ago
SAN FRANCISCO — Bitcoin has been in a bull market like few the world has ever seen. At the beginning of the year, the price of a Bitcoin was below $1,000. It hit $5,000 in October, then doubled by late November. And on Thursday, less than two weeks later, the price of a single Bitcoin rose above $20,000 …
Criminals are cashing in on Bitcoins for illegal activity from buying drugs, hiring hitmen and forging passports on the Dark Web

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A Sun investigation has now proved that Bitcoin is linked to a range of serious crimes on the Dark Web

Exclusive

By Miles Goslett and Nick Pritchard

8th December 2017, 2:03 am

Updated: 8th December 2017, 4:22 am

THE smartly dressed young woman barely attracted a glance as she swept into the second-hand electronics store and approached the Bitcoin machine.

Standing there for half an hour, she peeled off £50 notes from a fat roll and fed them into the slot — until £10,000 in sterling had been converted into the electronic currency that only exists online.

When she came back the next day to do the same, store manager Simao Arinto became suspicious.

“It was £50 after £50 after £50,” said the boss of the CeX store in central London’s Tottenham Court Road.

“She told us she got some kind of insurance that paid out for some kind of disease. What was the truth? Who knows?”

The police, however, believe they do know the truth, warning this week that this fast-growing digital cryptocurrency is being exploited by organised criminals who use Bitcoin cashpoints to launder dirty cash.

Bitcoins were being traded for around $20,000 each yesterday as speculators created the biggest buying rush the world markets have ever seen.

Some exchanges saw the value of the digital currency 52 percent rise at its peak yesterday – with the past seven days seeing a 72 per cent rise.

The astronomical price increases–driven by demand for the coins the numbers of which are limited–are the biggest in the history of modern financial markets, even beating ‘Tulip Mania’, a 17th century financial crash that became known as the first financial ‘bubble’.

Bitcoin’s price has gone up faster in past three years than the price of tulip bulbs did before that bubble burst, according to figures from the New York firm Convoy Investments.

Now a Sun investigation has proved that Bitcoin is also linked to a range of serious crimes thanks to the anonymity it offers.

Within minutes of logging on to the Dark Web — an encrypted corner of the internet that can only be accessed by special browsers — we found organised criminals offering a chilling array of services.

For payment in Bitcoin, we could get a computer hacker to “destroy a business or a person’s life”, buy drugs, passports, cloned credit cards and counterfeit money or even order acid attacks, rape and murder.

Bitcoins only exist as lines of computer code and are created and stored online–and the surge in value means that criminals who had previously been paid in Bitcoin are seeing their wealth rise astronomically.

They can be ‘mined’ by computer users using software that both verifies other people’s transactions and generates a new ‘block’ of code by solving increasingly complex mathematical problems.

They were created in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto — an unknown person or group — but have surged in value by more than 1,400 per cent this year alone.

They hit a peak this week when one unit went from being worth £8,750 on Tuesday to £12,500 Thursday at the time of writing. The value has probably risen again since.

Bitcoin’s rapid rise is fuelled by the fact there is a limited supply — only 21million will ever exist — and that it is completely unregulated by banks and governments, making it attractive for criminals or those who want to keep their transactions secret.

One of the first sites we come across on the Dark Web is Dream Market, where a gram of super-strength cocaine costs 0.00344 of a Bitcoin, the equivalent of £43.

The vendor, called Drugkingz, promises to ship it anywhere in the UK or Ireland.

Another site, called Clone Card Crew, offers cloned credit cards, and boasts: “All cards are skimmed and cloned. They are legal to receive. Using them is a different thing.”

One truly disturbing site is Slayers Hitmen. The online agency claims to have 48 operatives worldwide who will inflict all sorts of physical attacks in return for Bitcoin.

An assassination by shooting costs the Bitcoin equivalent of £11,185. An acid attack is £3,000, rape £1,500 while a “scare” comes in at £750.

The site asks for 50 per cent of the fee to be deposited upfront in an online Bitcoin wallet.

At the UK Guns and Ammo site, you can buy a new 9mm Glock 19 pistol for 0.04 Bitcoins, worth £500. A new 9mm Walther P99 handgun goes for £650.

Yet another site offers “high quality” fake euros that will apparently pass UV and pen tests and work in vending machines.

Thirty bills, worth 600 euros, cost the Bitcoin equivalent of 315 euros.

Cryptocurrency specialist detective inspector Timothy Court, of the Met’s Organised Crime Group, said this week: “We are seeing criminals using Bitcoin to buy drugs and firearms on the Dark Web and also laundering money with it.

“Cash is hard to move for criminals but cryptocurrency is an easy way to move assets across borders.”

He added that it was an “emerging issue” which is being closely monitored by law enforcement agencies.

Julian Dixon, CEO of anti-money laundering and big data specialists Fortytwo Data, said: “I warmly welcome The Sun’s investigation.

“I hope the authorities sit up and take notice of this report, which suggests highly dangerous individuals and criminal organisations are using a cloak of anonymity surrounding Bitcoin to finance crime.

“Regulation of crypto-currencies is long overdue so the funding of these activities by worldwide criminals, in even the darkest region of the web, ceases.”

The Met’s Serious and Organised Crime Command is carrying out a cryptocurrencies training programme to help sharpen its officers’ awareness of the problem.

But they face an uphill battle combatting it, as detective superintendent Nick Stevens explains.

He said: “Cryptocurrencies are not illegal, but they are unregulated, decentralised currencies that can be quickly transferred across borders then converted into the currency of the country where the funds are received.”

He added that his team is currently investigating several major criminals who use Bitcoin and the Dark Web for “the supply of drugs, firearms, modern slavery and child exploitation”.

The CeX store in Tottenham Court Road is more used to customers buying and selling unwanted DVDs than arriving with large sums of cash.

But that could change now it is one of only 98 UK High Street shops to host a Bitcoin terminal.

Boss Mr Arinto told The Sun that the Bitcoin users he sees are a mixed bunch, but one trait unites them: A desire for privacy. This is not surprising.

The terminals offer an easy way for drug dealers and other criminals to launder cash without having to go through any bank checks.

After notes have been converted into Bitcoins, they can be moved anywhere in the world electronically then withdrawn as clean cash.

They are stored in a virtual wallet on a PC or mobile phone app and can then be withdrawn from another Bitcoin machine in the local currency.

This system makes the cash almost impossible to trace. Mr Arinto said: “I see people from all types of backgrounds. Some try to cover their faces and will look around to see if anyone is looking.

“Some of them come in and make the whole shop stink of weed.

“There is a £400 limit on deposits, but there is no limit on how many deposits you can make and no identity checks.

“You want to ask questions but it’s their personal life.”

That might be so, but it is a problem that has the potential to affect us all.

There are more than 1,300 cryptocurrencies in use, with new ones emerging all the time.

Bitcoin’s extraordinary growth has sparked alarm among police and intelligence agencies across the globe, with the Russian mafia in particular known to be capitalising on the phenomenon.

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The Way It Works

BITCOIN is a form of digital currency, created and held electronically. It is produced by people running powerful computer programs to solve complex mathematical problems. Here we answer the main questions about it.

What makes it different from a normal currency? There are no physical notes or coins, so no single institution controls it. It exists only as lines of computer code. The value of Bitcoin is highly volatile, which has led people to buy it as a risky speculative investment.

Who created it? An anonymous software developer, or possibly developers, known as Satoshi Nakamoto.

Who prints it? No one. Bitcoin is created digitally by a community of people that anyone can join. Bitcoins are “mined” using computing power to solve puzzles and unlock currency units.
is there a limit on how many Bitcoins can be mined? Only 21million Bitcoins can ever be created by miners. However, these coins

can be divided into smaller parts. The smallest divisible amount is one hundred-millionth of a Bitcoin and is called a Satoshi, after the founder.

Is its use truly anonymous? You can set up a Bitcoin address in seconds – and it does not have to be linked to any name or address. But Bitcoin stores details of every single transaction that has ever happened in a huge version of a ledger, called the blockchain. This blockchain tells all about each purchase by each address linked to each Bitcoin.

Detective chief superintendent Mick Gallagher, head of the Met’s Organised Crime Command, says police have been aware of the threat for around 18 months but “at the moment it feels like there is significant growth”.

This week, the Treasury said that money-laundering regulations should be updated to include virtual currencies.

But while we wait for that to happen, law agencies have their work cut out to stop Bitcoin and its rivals allowing requests for serious crimes to be just a few clicks away.

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After a year of largely denying it, even while throwing in the occasional wink, the Russian government is now finally admitting that it rigged the United States presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor. It’s not saying so in exact words. Instead it’s acknowledging through a state-controlled media outlet that it arrested one of its own intel officers for admitting to the U.S. that Russia rigged the election. Rachel Maddow broke this news on her show, but left it an open question as to why Russia is choosing now. I have some thoughts on that.

Keep in mind that just yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he’s “running” for reelection in early 2018 after all. I’m putting “running” in quotes because he’ll rig this election like he always does, and he’ll win automatically. But this announcement is something of a surprise, because just a week ago, someone planted a series of stories in major European newspapers which claimed Putin was considering retiring. These stories had to have been planted by the Russian oligarchs as a warning to Putin: get your act together on this nonsense with Trump and sanctions, or we will put you out of business.

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The United States will continue to take a defensive and punitive position toward Russia as long as Donald Trump illegitimately remains in power. If Trump is gone, and Russia begins to atone for its sins, then maybe those sanctions get incrementally walked back as a way of encouraging future good behavior. I’m not saying Putin is preparing to oust Trump in the hope of keeping his oligarchs happy. I’m just saying I think he’s testing the waters for ousting Trump by admitting today that he rigged the election. Watch Putin’s next move carefully.

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According to the whistle-blower, Copson said, “This is the start of something I have been working on for years. Mike has been putting everything in place for us.” Copson allegedly turned his phone around when he received the text, displaying the message from Flynn that the project was “good to go.” This would mean that Flynn’s first action for the new president was to let his former business partners know that their plan to build nuclear reactors with Russian partners was on.

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