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Frustrated Russian Officials Struggling To Get Any Policies Through Dysfunctional Trump Administration 

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MOSCOW—Lamenting that internal disorganization was making it extremely difficult to get anything done, Russian officials voiced their frustration Thursday about continuing struggles to get policies through the dysfunctional Trump administration. “You’d think that after being in the White House for a month, they’d have at least some rudimentary process for rolling out our new proposals, but it’s just been a mess so far,” said Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, adding that the recent dismissal of Michael Flynn as national security advisor was “just the tip of the iceberg” in a chaotic White House where internal conflicts and numerous leaks made it hard for the Russians to implement any workable ideas at all. Read the rest of this entry »

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How Spooks Played the Game: ‘Kill Mike Flynn’

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‘The knives are out.’

Richard Pollock reports: National Security Advisor Gen. Michael T. Flynn (ret.) — who resigned Monday — was the victim of a “hit job” launched by intelligence operatives, Obama government holdovers and former Obama national security officials, according to former intelligence officials who spoke with The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group.

“There are individuals who are well versed in information operations — we used to call that propaganda.  They know how to do it.  It’s deliberately orchestrated.”

The talk within the tight-knit community of retired intelligence officers was that Flynn’s sacking was a result of intelligence insiders at the CIA, NSA and National Security Council using a sophisticated “disinformation campaign” to create a crisis atmosphere. The former intel officers say the tactics hurled against Flynn over the last few months were the type of high profile hard-ball accusations previously reserved for top figures in enemy states, not for White House officials.

“This was a hit job,” charged retired Col. James Williamson, a 32-year Special Forces veteran who coordinated his operations with the intelligence community.

Noting the Obama administration first tried to silence Flynn in 2014 when the former president fired him as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Williamson called Monday’s resignation, “stage Two of ‘Kill Mike Flynn.”

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Former intelligence officials who understand spy craft say Flynn’s resignation had everything to do with a “disinformation campaign” and little to do with the December phone conversation he had with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

[Read the full story here, at The Daily Caller]

They charge officials from America’s top spy counsels leaked classified government intercepts of Flynn and President Trump’s conversations with world leaders and had “cutouts” — friendly civilians not associated with the agency — to distribute them to reporters in a coordinated fashion.

The issue of leaks was a prime topic for Trump when he tweeted Wednesday, “Information is being illegally given to the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?).Just like Russia.”

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Retired Col. James Waurishuk, who spent three decades in top military intelligence posts and served at the National Security Council, said in an interview with TheDCNF. “We’ve never seen to the extent that those in the intelligence community are using intelligence apparatus and tools to be used politically against an administration official,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »


Jonah Goldberg: Why Does Trump Insist on Such Absurd Moral Equivalency?

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Once again, President Trump has come to Russian President Vladimir Putin ’s defense by throwing America under the bus.

Jonah Goldberg writes: In a pre-taped interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, aired on Super Bowl Sunday, Trump was asked to explain his respect for Putin.

From Our Partners: Asked About Russia Sanctions, Donald Trump Says ‘We Ough…

“He is the leader of his country,” Trump said, adding the usual boilerplate about wanting to have good relations and help fighting Islamic State.

O’Reilly interjected, “Putin’s a killer.” And a vexed Trump replied, “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country is so innocent?”

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Wax statue of Vladimir Putin, Madame Tussauds

This was no gaffe. A similar conversation played out between MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Trump in December 2015. Scarborough asked about Trump’s bromance with Putin and Trump responded, “When people call you brilliant, it’s always good. Especially when the person heads up Russia.”

Putin “kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries,” objected Scarborough. “Obviously that would be a concern, would it not?”

[Read more here, at the LA Times]

“He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader, you know, unlike what we have in this country,” Trump said, referring to then-President Obama.

“But, again, he kills journalists that don’t agree with him,” protested Scarborough.

“Well, I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe,” Trump said.

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Wax statue of Donald Trump, Madame Tussauds

In July, Trump said something similar in response to questions from the New York Times about the bloody repressions and mass arrests by Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “When the world looks at how bad the United States is, and then we go and talk about civil liberties, I don’t think we’re a very good messenger.”

One might expect to hear that kind of logic from a dorm room full of Marxists. And if Obama had ever suggested the same, conservatives would have pounced. Of course America isn’t without sin. But ethically speaking, America has towered above Russia – including Russia under Putin. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Ben Sasse: No Moral Equivalency Between the U.S. and Putin’s Regime 

Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) is having none of President Trump’s false moral equivalence. On ABC’s This Week Sunday, Sasse expressed his distaste at the comparison of the United States and Vladimir Putin’s regime.

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“Let’s be clear: Has the U.S. ever made any mistakes? Of course. Is the U.S. at all like Putin’s regime? Not at all. The U.S. affirms freedom of speech; Putin is no friend of freedom of speech. Putin is an enemy of freedom of religion, the U.S. celebrates freedom of religion. Putin is an enemy of free press; the U.S. celebrates free press. Putin is an enemy of political dissent; the U.S. celebrates political dissent and the right for people to argue free from violence about places where ideas are in conflict. There is no moral equivalency between the United States of America, the greatest freedom-loving nation in the history of the world, and the murderous thugs that are in Putin’s defense of his cronyism. There’s no moral equivalency there.”

David French writes:

…Trump said, “There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers. Well, you think our country is so innocent?” I’d like to focus on the follow-up, when O’Reilly gave him an opportunity to amend his statement:

O’REILLY: I don’t know of any government leaders that are killers.

TRUMP: Well — take a look at what we’ve done, too. We made a lot of mistakes. I’ve been against the war in Iraq from the beginning.

O’REILLY: Yes, mistakes are different than –

TRUMP: We made a lot of mistakes, OK, but a lot of people were killed. So, a lot of killers around, believe me.

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In response, I’m reminded of a quote from our founder, William F. Buckley, Jr.:

[T]o say that the CIA and the KGB engage in similar practices is the equivalent of saying that the man who pushes an old lady into the path of a hurtling bus is not to be distinguished from the man who pushes an old lady out of the path of a hurtling bus: on the grounds that, after all, in both cases someone is pushing old ladies around. Read the rest of this entry »


Kremlin Demands Apology from Fox News Over Putin ‘Killer’ Comment

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The Russian government is demanding an apology from Fox News, after anchor Bill O’Reilly called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “killer” in an interview that aired before the Super Bowl.

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“We consider such words from the Fox TV company to be unacceptable and insulting, and honestly speaking, we would prefer to get an apology from such a respected TV company,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, according to Reuters. Read the rest of this entry »


Life Under Alternative Facts 

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The Soviet Union bombarded its citizens with such facts in the seventies and eighties. No one was fooled.

 writes: There was no real cognitive dissonance existing in the minds of most people in the Soviet Union of the nineteen-seventies and eighties. Everyone knew that everything said on the radio or on television, everything (with the exception of weather reports or sports results) was a blatant lie, spoken pro forma, just because that’s the way things were and had to be: outside, it was dark or light or drizzly or sunny or cold and snowy or pleasantly warm or too hot for comfort—and on the radio and on TV and in newspapers and magazines the untold legions of official-propaganda folks talked about the kind of reality which did not remotely exist in the reality of Soviet people’s lives.

“Everyone knew that they, the Soviet people, lived in a veritable funhouse of a giant isolated world unto itself, in the parallel reality of that endless hall of crazily distorted mirrors.”

Just because from dawn to dusk everyone was forced to hear on the radio and read in newspapers that everyone’s life in the Soviet land was wonderful and was going to be infinitely better still, and that everyone else out in the capitalist world envied the happiness of Soviet people’s lives, no one was duped into thinking this was actually how things were, neither in their own lives or in the lives of people all around them, in their cities and villages.

[Read the full story here, at The New Yorker]

Everyone knew the truth, even in the absence of any alternative, more reality-bound source of information. Everyone knew how things were in reality. How could one not? One had one’s eyes and ears and one’s own life to live. Read the rest of this entry »


President Trump Adopts the Language of America’s Anti-American Radical Left; Democrats Rejoice; Republicans Aghast

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[VIDEO] Russia: Man High on Drugs Holds Teen Hostage, Demands More Drugs

Raw video: Police neutralize man after he entered house and held 13-year-old girl hostage with knife in dramatic standoff caught on tape in Russia.

The drug-crazed man broke into a house in the city of Omsk in Omsk Oblast region, central Russia, where the girl lives with her grandmother.

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Named only as Zhenya, he starts demanding drugs from the terrified family, according to local media reports.

Threatening her with a knife, the man made the girl call the police so he could demand drugs in exchange for her freedom. Police and a SWAT team rushed to the scene.

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The clip filmed by a cop shows the tattooed junkie holding the girl on his lap. His hands are behind her, thought to have been holding the knife against her. Read the rest of this entry »


New MiG-35 ‘Fulcrum Foxtrot’ Demonstrated For Putin and Foreign Market

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MiG-35 Demo is Both Product Debut and Contrast of Russian and Western Doctrine in the F-35 Era.

Tom Demerly reports: In a widely publicized event on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017 the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau (MiG) parented by United Aircraft Corporation officially demonstrated the new MiG-35 to the Russian government. A subsequent demonstration for export customers was carried out today Jan. 27.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is reported to have viewed the first demonstration via remote video due to poor weather in the region.

The new MiG-35 (NATO reporting name: “Fulcrum Foxtrot”) is a greatly upgraded aircraft based on the earlier MiG-29 airframe. Significant upgrades on the MiG-35 include a completely new fly-by-wire flight control system, vastly improved cockpit, substantially upgraded avionics and an overall design philosophy that provides an enhanced degree of operational autonomy on the MiG-35 compared to earlier Russian combat aircraft. The MiG-35 will also integrate precision-guided targeting capability for air-to-ground weapons, a rarity in previous Russian air-ground doctrine.

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The MiG-35 unveiled on Jan. 27, 2017

There is a significant engine upgrade on the new MiG-35. The aircraft uses two impressive Klimov RD-33OVT engines fitted with bi-directional thrust vectoring nozzles. This contrasts aircraft like the current Russian Su-35 and the U.S. F-22 Raptor that only use single-axis vertical thrust vectoring.

[Read the full story at The Aviationist]

This marks a fascinating departure from previous Soviet-era combat aircraft capabilities while retaining the Russian penchant for lower unit cost in exchange for numerical superiority, a doctrine that has pervaded Russian military thinking for the entire century.

The OLS-K targeting and surveillance system is mounted on the engine nacelle in front of the elevators

The OLS-K targeting and surveillance system is mounted on the engine nacelle in front of the elevators

The Russians have always traded unit capability for numerical superiority, relying on the hope that quantity would beat quality in a major conflict. Interestingly, this doctrine has shifted moderately toward a centrist mix of quality and quantity apparently in search of the best solution for indigenous use as well as attracting export buyers.

The new MiG-35 is an example of this shift. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Krauthammer: Just Hoping Obama Doesn’t Return Alaska to the Russians 

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[VIDO] General Jack Keane: President Obama was intimidated by Putin

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Obama Worship: Clap-Out Recalls Stalin’s Grim Loyalists 

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kevin-williamsonKevin D. Williamson writes: Applause was a serious business in the Soviet Union, as it is in Cuba, as it is in Venezuela, as it is in all unfree societies and at our own State of the Union address, which is modeled on the ex cathedra speeches of unfree societies. The less free you are, the more you are obliged to applaud. Joseph Stalin’s pronouncements were greeted with perfervid applause, which would continue, rapturously — no one dared stop — until Stalin himself would order its cessation.

“The desire to rule is complexly mixed up with the desire to be ruled, just as the most masterful among us bow the lowest and grovel the most enthusiastically when presented with a strongman-savior.”

But what to do when Stalin was not there? The mere mention of his name, even in his absence, would trigger fanatical applause, and nobody wanted to be the first to stop. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn related one famous story:

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The director of the local paper factory, an independent and strong-minded man, stood with the presidium. Aware of all the falsity and all the impossibility of the situation, he still kept on applauding! Nine minutes! Ten! In anguish he watched the secretary of the District Party Committee, but the latter dared not stop. Insanity! To the last man! With make-believe enthusiasm on their faces, looking at each other with faint hope, the district leaders were just going to go on and on applauding till they fell where they stood, till they were carried out of the hall onend-is-near stretchers! And even then those who were left would not falter.

[Read the full story here, at National Review]

[Kevin D. Williamson’s book  “The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome”  is available at Amazon]

Then, after eleven minutes, the director of the paper factory assumed a businesslike expression and sat down in his seat. And, oh, a miracle took place! Where had the universal, uninhibited, indescribable enthusiasm gone? To a man, everyone else stopped dead and sat down. They had been saved! The squirrel had been smart enough to jump off his revolving wheel.

That, however, was how they discovered who the independent people were. And that was how they went about eliminating them.

That same night the factory director was arrested.

Stalin is long gone, and the Soviet Union, too, having been deposited, as Ronald Reagan predicted, onto the “ash heap of history.” But the craven instinct on display in the scene Solzhenitsyn described remains.

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The desire to rule is complexly mixed up with the desire to be ruled, just as the most masterful among us bow the lowest and grovel the most enthusiastically when presented with a strongman-savior. There is something atavistic in us that is older than the human part — the inner chimp — that makes those who listen to its voice keenly aware of their places in the social hierarchy. Even a predator instinctively recognizes a predator higher up the food chain.

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“The language there is interesting: She did not write that Price ‘did not applaud,’ ‘refrained from applauding’, or even ‘failed to applaud,” but that he refused to applaud, a formulation that converts passivity into a positive act, one from which we are to derive something of significance about his fitness for the role of secretary of health and human services.”

Which is not to say that National Public Radio’s Marilyn Geewax is a Stalinist, but rather that they were what she is, representatives of the same species.

[Read the full story here, at National Review]

Geewax, who is a senior business editor for NPR, is very interested in applause. This week, she expressed some concern that Representative Tom Price has been nominated to serve as the next secretary of health and human services. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama Accused of Wrecking Trump’s Transition

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Paul Bedard writes: A leading House Republican charges that President Obama is implementing a “scorched earth” exit strategy aimed at undermining President-elect Trump first months while cementing his own legacy through a frenzy of midnight regulations.

“I do believe that the retaliation if you will with Russia was appropriate for conduct, but it was appropriate for conduct going back weeks, months, or even years. And that’s one of the challenges is, the Russians see this as the desperate act of a dying administration, not as a measured response to their misconduct.”

California Rep. Darrell Issa also hit Obama’s post-campaign effort to blame Russia for the outcome of the election, which has sparked some Democrats to suggest that the results are illegitimate.

“That’s where President Obama is going to come up with shortages in his legacy because there’s going to be an asterisk saying, basically President Obama had questionable actions during the transition.”

— Rep. Darrell Issa

President Obama is not going softly into the night. He very clearly wants to leave what some call scorched earth, or at least troubled waters,” said Issa on this weekend’s Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson.

The show, titled “Exit Strategy,” focuses on Obama’s last minute moves, including the wave of regulations being flushed through the a government. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] DEEP GOVERNMENT: Krauthammer on Buzzfeed-Russia-Trump

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Pentagon to Sideline Social Experiments in Favor of Core Mission Under Mattis

Under President Obama, the military sought to integrate transgender persons into the ranks, allow women into special operations forces and purge the nomenclature of gender-specific words, adopting what some critics say was a “politically correct” liberal agenda. That’s a contrast to the traditional U.S. military approach.

US President Barack Obama attends a military briefing with US Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham (L) at Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul, in Afghanistan, May 25, 2014. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

“It has struck this building in a big way and we need to get away from that. Our focus is defending this country, and we should not spend so much time on social engineering.”

In addition, some Navy ships have been named for civil rights activists.  And while the Obama administration has taken an inclusive approach on some issues, it has also worked to minimize expressions of Christianity in the ranks. For example, several officers have been disciplined for displaying Bibles or gospel verses in their quarters.

Veterans and military experts told FoxNews.com that, while some of Obama’s civil rights advancements may be locked in, neither Trump nor his choice for secretary of defense, Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis, are likely to make social experimentation a priority.

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“You need to be known as a good soldier or Marine and not by your sexuality, your gender or your particular faith. We need everyone to pull in the same direction and not espouse a particular personal agenda that doesn’t fit into the nation’s best long-term interest.”

“Here in [the Pentagon], we don’t say merry Christmas, and I think we have been misguided when it comes to our history and who we are as a nation, and political correctness is indicative of that,” Department of Defense contractor and retired Army Col. Robert Maginnis told FoxNews.com.

“It has struck this building in a big way and we need to get away from that. Our focus is defending this country, and we should not spend so much time on social engineering.”

Mattis, who on Thursday goes before the Senate Armed Services Committee as part of his confirmation process, will likely “bring the warrior ethos back to the Pentagon,” Maginnis said.

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That mentality was “drained by the Obama administration,” he said. “You need to be known as a good soldier or Marine and not by your sexuality, your gender or your particular faith. We need everyone to pull in the same direction and not espouse a particular personal agenda that doesn’t fit into the nation’s best long-term interest.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] NBC: Intel Officials ‘Don’t Believe’ Trump Dossier; Just ‘Political Junk’ 

During NBC’s special live coverage of Donald Trump’s press conference on Wednesday, reporter Cynthia McFadden revealed that U.S. intelligence officials deemed rumors of a Russian dossier of damaging information about the President-elect to not be credible.

She explained to NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt: “…as far as they are concerned, and I’m going to quote now, ‘Intel and law enforcement officials agree that none of the investigations have found any conclusive or direct link between Donald Trump and the Russian government, period.’”

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McFadden further informed viewers: “They wanted it available, we are told, so that if they felt they needed to explain to the President-elect the difference between vetted intelligence…and this raw kind of disinformation that’s out there.” Read the rest of this entry »


KOMPROMATAGEDDON

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Russia Says ‘Нет, у нас нет никаких компрометирующих материалов на Трампа’

Russia has denied such accusations and described them as unsubstantiated and an attempt by U.S. politicians to distract attention from domestic issues.

Laura Mills writes: Russia on Wednesday denied it has compromising material on Donald Trump, calling a dossier of unverified allegations an “absolute fabrication” and an attempt to damage U.S.-Russian relations.

“Among the allegations, contained in a set of confidential memos written by the former official, are that Mr. Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, met with Kremlin officials and discussed how to arrange cash payments to hackers working under Moscow’s direction against the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.” 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the report, which claimed that Russia has material that could be used to blackmail Mr. Trump, as “pulp fiction,” according to Russian news agencies.

“The FBI has found no evidence that he traveled to the Czech Republic, where the meeting allegedly took place in August of last year, officials said.”

“This is a clear attempt to damage our bilateral relations,” he said. “Truly, there are those who whip up this hysteria, who will break their necks to support this ‘witch hunt’”

Mr. Peskov said that the Kremlin wasn’t involved in collecting compromising information on anyone, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

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His comments come a day after it emerged that U.S. intelligence agencies and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have spent months trying to substantiate explosive claims, compiled by a former Western intelligence official, that Russian government operatives engaged in an extensive conspiracy with advisers to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign and employees of his company, according to people familiar with the matter.

The U.S. intelligence community and top officials have repeatedly accused Russia of trying to influence the 2016 presidential election, releasing a report last week that leveled broad accusations against Moscow, including cyberattacks meant to undermine the election and skewed coverage by state-funded Russian media.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Russia has denied such accusations and described them as unsubstantiated and an attempt by U.S. politicians to distract attention from domestic issues.

The latest claims were deemed sufficiently significant by senior intelligence officials to summarize them in a two-page addendum to the classified briefing President-elect Trump received last Friday about Russian efforts to influence the U.S. presidential campaign, the people said.

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“FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!” Mr. Trump tweeted after the allegations surfaced publicly Tuesday evening.

U.S. officials confirmed that a summary of the information had been given to Mr. Trump. They said sharing of such unverified information was taken out of an abundance of caution that the incoming president should be aware of allegations being made against him that could become public—a decision intelligence experts backed. President Barack Obama received the same information, officials said. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Gutfeld: Time to Treat Cyberattacks Like Military Ones 

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U.S. Intel Hacks Blame Putin for Intel Hacks

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Reports of Russian interference in the already divisive election have roiled Washington, even as the U.S. Congress on Friday certified Trump’s victory in the Electoral College.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an effort to help Republican Donald Trump’s electoral chances by discrediting Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign, U.S. intelligence agencies said in an assessment on Friday.

“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election,” the report said. “We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.”

Russia’s objectives were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate former Secretary of State Clinton, make it harder for her to win and harm her presidency if she did, an unclassified report released by the top U.S. intelligence agency said.

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[ALSO SEE – Four Key Truths of the Wikileaks Mess by David French]

“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election,” the report said. “We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.”

The report, although it omitted classified details, was the U.S. government’s starkest public description of what it says was an unprecedented Russian campaign to manipulate the American body politic.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, foreground right center, says goodbye to Dr. Darrell Scott, foreground left center, the senior pastor of New Spirit Revival Ministries in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, in the middle of a media crush in the Trump Tower lobby in New York, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. Trump met with a coalition of 100 African-American evangelical pastors and religious leaders in a private meeting at Trump Tower. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Reports of Russian interference in the already divisive election have roiled Washington, even as the U.S. Congress on Friday certified Trump’s victory in the Electoral College. Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots.

“The report neither assessed ‘the impact Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election’ nor did it provide details on the evidence underpinning its conclusions, a fact likely to keep alive the controversy over what Moscow may have done.”

The report’s conclusions, though lacking details of how the Russians may have relayed the material to WikiLeaks and others, will give ammunition to Democrats and Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress who want tougher action against Russia, setting the scene for a potential showdown with Trump.

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“The report’s conclusions, though lacking details of how the Russians may have relayed the material to WikiLeaks and others, will give ammunition to Democrats and Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress who want tougher action against Russia, setting the scene for a potential showdown with Trump.”

It could also give a boost to members of Congress seeking an independent, bipartisan investigation of Russian hacking.
Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Krauthammer: Trump Understands That Fighting Intel ‘Is a Losing Proposition’ 

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U.S. Spy Report Blames Putin for Hacks, But Doesn’t Back It Up

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The long-awaited public report on Russia’s role in the DNC hack accused the Kremlin of working to elect Trump—without providing much new information to prove it.

Kimberly DozierNoah ShachtmanMichael Weiss report: U.S. spy chiefs presented their case at Trump Tower on Friday that Russia was behind the hacks that rocked the 2016 presidential election. But they didn’t help themselves by releasing a strongly-worded report that is scant on new evidence—and is, in some cases, a literal rehash of outdated information.

“The unclassified report is not particularly impressive. It basically confirms what those who had been paying attention already know. It may serve to limit Trump for purposes of plausible deniability. But this is a highly risk-averse document that shows deference to the protection of sources and methods over informing the American people. That’s a shame, as certainly more detail could have been safely provided.”

— Susan Hennessey, former NSA official, to The Daily Beast, in an email

“There was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines,” President-elect Trump said in a statement right after he met with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan, FBI Director Jim Comey, and NSA chief Adm. Michael Rogers.

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“Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election [and with]… a clear preference for President-elect Trump,” the intelligence chiefs announced through an unclassified report released after the meeting that sounded like it was coming from an alternate universe.

The night-and-day report and reaction hint at either a difficult relationship to come between the president and America’s spies, or a cagey response by a future commander in chief who is only beginning to realize how the chess masters in the Kremlin play the game of geopolitics.

The unclassified report is unlikely to convince a single skeptic, as it offers none of the evidence intelligence officials say they have to back it up—none of those emails or transcripts of phone calls showing a clear connection between the Russian government and the political intrusions. The reason—revealing how U.S. spies know what they know could endanger U.S. spy operations.

“There was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines.”

And it contains some out-dated information that seems slapdash considering the attention focused on it. Errors in the report were almost inevitable, because of the haste in which it was prepared, said one U.S. official briefed on the report. The report comes in three levels—unclassified, classified and then one so top secret that only a handful of intelligence professionals was able to view the whole thing. That most classified report is the one that went to President Barack Obama, and to Trump. The merely classified version will be briefed to lawmakers in the coming days. The classification issues alone meant it was “hard to transmit around” to be fact-checked, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

[Read the full story here, at The Daily Beast]

“The unclassified report is not particularly impressive,” Susan Hennessey, a former NSA official, told The Daily Beast in an email. “It basically confirms what those who had been paying attention already know. It may serve to limit Trump for purposes of plausible deniability. But this is a highly risk-averse document that shows deference to the protection of sources and methods over informing the American people. That’s a shame, as certainly more detail could have been safely provided.”

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That lack of specificity makes it easier for Trump to stay in the “see no, hear no, speak no evil” column. His post-spy-summit statement seemed to cherry-pick the intelligence, only mentioning parts of the briefing that confirmed his belief that election vote tallies were not tampered with, rather than the part that described how the Democratic National Committee and key Hillary Clinton campaign officials were hacked, and their emails released to devastating result.

Then again, maybe the scales did fall from his eyes behind those closed doors, and he did believe the “forensic evidence” the spies had gathered, as described by current and former U.S. intelligence officials, including emails between Russian officials celebrating the results of the election, and intercepted conversations showing they’d hoped to sow discord and doubt, whoever got elected.

Perhaps the president-elect just got a crash course in “Moscow Rules,” and is beginning to understand the world-class hacking machine at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s disposal. The rules, established for U.S. spies working in Moscow during the Cold War, include: Don’t harass the opposition; lull them into a sense of complacency; and pick the time and place for action.

Read the rest of this entry »


Intelligence Leaders Confirm Russian Influence Op to Undermine Election

 writes: Russian intelligence agencies sought to influence the 2016 presidential election through coordinated cyber and propaganda activities, three U.S. intelligence leaders told a Senate hearing Thursday.

“This was a multifaceted campaign, so the hacking was only one part of it. It also entailed classical propaganda, disinformation, fake news.”

—  James Clapper, to the Senate Armed Services Committee

Additionally, Senate testimony revealed that the National Security Agency, the government’s key cyber intelligence and technical spying service, confirmed the Russian intelligence service’s covert cyber and propaganda effort to influence the election campaign.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper previewed a forthcoming government report, to be released as early as Monday, on the Russian intelligence operations that included intrusions into Democratic National Committee computers and the email account of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign chairman, John Podesta.

The Russians then orchestrated the release of hacked internal information through three propaganda conduits in a coordinated campaign.

“Our assessment now is even more resolute than it was with that statement on the 7th of October. I don’t think we’ve ever encountered a more aggressive or direct effort to interfere in our election.”

“This was a multifaceted campaign, so the hacking was only one part of it,” Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “It also entailed classical propaganda, disinformation, fake news.”

The forthcoming report will describe the full range of Russian intelligence activities during the campaign, Clapper said.

Clapper confirmed the details of the Oct. 7 statement issued jointly by his office and the Department of Homeland Security accusing Russia of interfering with the 2016 election. That statement identified three entities, the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, another site called DCLeaks.com, and a hacker code-named Guccifer 2.0, as the outlets for the hacked information.

General Keith Alexander (L), director of the National Security Agency (NSA) testifies at a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington October 29, 2013. Top U.S. intelligence officials appeared at a congressional hearing on Tuesday amid a public uproar that has expanded from anger over the National Security Agency collecting the phone and email records of Americans to spying on European allies. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper watches on at right. REUTERS/Jason Reed

“There’s actually more than one motive, so that’ll be described in the report.”

“Our assessment now is even more resolute than it was with that statement on the 7th of October,” Clapper said. “I don’t think we’ve ever encountered a more aggressive or direct effort to interfere in our election.”

Asked if the earlier assessments about Moscow’s disinformation program had changed, Clapper stated: “No. In fact, if anything, what we’ve since learned just reinforces that statement the 7th of October.”

NSA Director Mike Rogers told the hearing that the report was “done essentially” by the CIA, FBI, and NSA.

The inclusion of NSA in the report is the first time NSA’s role in assessing the Russian cyber attacks was mentioned.

NSA’s capability to monitor foreign cyber intelligence operations is highly advanced. Documents disclosed by renegade NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the agency in the past has broken into foreign intelligence service networks and stolen information those services were gathering from spies—without being detected. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] John Kerry Says Failure in Syria Has Nothing to Do With Red Line 

Buying into, and even fueling the Palestinian propaganda narrative

 


Washington Post Is Richly Rewarded for False News About Russia Threat While Public Is Deceived

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In the current D.C. climate on Russia, all relevant journalistic incentives encourage and reward false news.


Drudge Trolls Outgoing POTUS

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WikiLeaks Exposed Journalists Fired Demoted Now Covering Trump White House

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Peter Hasson reports: WikiLeaks’ publication of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta revealed the close ties between prominent journalists and the Clinton campaign. Many of those same journalists will now be covering the Trump White House.

CNBC chief political correspondent and New York Times political writer John Harwood demonstrated clear partisanship in his many email exchanges with Podesta.

Harwood told Podesta to “watch out” for Dr. Ben Carson during the Republican primary. “Ben Carson could give you real trouble in a general,” Harwood warned, including video clips of Carson’s political positions.

Screenshot/WikiLeaks

Screenshot/WikiLeaks

Screenshot/WikiLeaks

In a December 2015 email to Podesta, Harwood claimed the Republican Party was “veering off the rails” and bragged about provoking Trump during a Republican presidential debate, where he asked Trump if he was running “a comic book version of a presidential campaign.”

Screenshot/WikiLeaks

Screenshot/WikiLeaks

“I imagine…” Harwood titled the email, continuing in the body: “…that Obama feels some (sad) vindication at this demonstration of his years-long point about the opposition party veering off the rails.”

“I certainly am feeling that way with respect to how I questioned Trump at our debate.”

As CNBC’s chief political correspondent, Harwood will play a central role in the network’s coverage of the Trump administration. Harwood has yet to respond to repeated requests from TheDC regarding his email exchanges with the Clinton campaign. Read the rest of this entry »


How The Washington Post Rewrote Its Story on Russian Hacking of The Power Grid

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Fake News: This narrative was false and as the chronology below will show, illustrates how effectively false and misleading news can ricochet through the global news echo chamber through the pages of top tier newspapers that fail to properly verify their facts.

kayleyKalev Leetaru writes: On Friday the Washington Post sparked a wave of fear when it ran the breathless headline “Russian hackers penetrated U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont, U.S. officials say.” The lead sentence offered “A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials” and continued “While the Russians did not actively use the code to disrupt operations of the utility, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss a security matter, the penetration of the nation’s electrical grid is significant because it represents a potentially serious vulnerability.”

“From Russian hackers burrowed deep within the US electrical grid, ready to plunge the nation into darkness at the flip of a switch, an hour and a half later the story suddenly became that a single non-grid laptop had a piece of malware on it and that the laptop was not connected to the utility grid in any way.”

Yet, it turns out this narrative was false and as the chronology below will show, illustrates how effectively false and misleading news can ricochet through the global news echo chamber through the pages of top tier newspapers that fail to properly verify their facts.

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“Only after numerous outlets called out the Post’s changes did the newspaper finally append an editorial note at the very bottom of the article more than half a day later saying ‘An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electric grid. Authorities say there is no indication of that so far. The computer at Burlington Electric that was hacked was not attached to the grid.’”

The original article was posted online on the Washington Post’s website at 7:55PM EST. Using the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, we can see that sometime between 9:24PM and 10:06PM the Post updated the article to indicate that multiple computer systems at the utility had been breached (“computers” plural), but that further data was still being collected: “Officials said that it is unclear when the code entered the Vermont utility’s computers, and that an investigation will attempt to determine the timing and nature of the intrusion.” Several paragraphs of additional material were added between 8PM and 10PM, claiming and contextualizing the breach as part of a broader campaign of Russian hacking against the US, including the DNC and Podesta email breaches.

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“Just as with the Santa Claus and the dying child story, the Post story went viral and was widely reshared, leading to embarrassing situations like CNBC tweeting out the story and then having to go back and retract the story.”

Despite the article ballooning from 8 to 18 paragraphs, the publication date of the article remained unchanged and no editorial note was appended, meaning that a reader being forwarded a link to the article would have no way of knowing the article they were seeing was in any way changed from the original version published 2 hours prior.

Yet, as the Post’s story ricocheted through the politically charged environment, other media outlets and technology experts began questioning the Post’s claims and the utility company itself finally issued a formal statement at 9:37PM EST, just an hour and a half after the Post’s publication, pushing back on the Post’s claims: “We detected the malware in a single Burlington Electric Department laptop not connected to our organization’s grid systems. We took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alerted federal officials of this finding.”

“Particularly fascinating that the original Post story mentioned that there were only two major power utilities in Vermont and that Burlington Electric was one of them, meaning it would have been easy to call both companies for comment.”

From Russian hackers burrowed deep within the US electrical grid, ready to plunge the nation into darkness at the flip of a switch, an hour and a half later the story suddenly became that a single non-grid laptop had a piece of malware on it and that the laptop was not connected to the utility grid in any way.

[Read the full report here, at Forbes.com]

However, it was not until almost a full hour after the utility’s official press release (at around 10:30PM EST) that the Post finally updated its article, changing the headline to the more muted “Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility, showing risk to U.S. electrical grid security, officials say” and changed the body of the article to note “Burlington Electric said in a statement that the company detected a malware code used in the Grizzly Steppe operation in a laptop that was not connected to the organization’s grid systems. The firm said it took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alert federal authorities.” Yet, other parts of the article, including a later sentence claiming that multiple computers at the utility had been breached, remained intact.

grid

“One driving force of fake news is that as much of 60% of the links shared on social media are shared based on the title alone, with the sharer not actually reading the article itself. Thus, the title assigned to an article becomes the story itself and the Post’s incorrect title meant that the story that spread virally through the national echo chamber was that the Russians had hacked into the US power grid.”

The following morning, nearly 11 hours after changing the headline and rewriting the article to indicate that the grid itself was never breached and the “hack” was only an isolated laptop with malware, the Post still had not appended any kind of editorial note to indicate that it had significantly changed the focus of the article.

This is significant, as one driving force of fake news is that as much of 60% of the links shared on social media are shared based on the title alone, with the sharer not actually reading the article itself. Thus, the title assigned to an article becomes the story itself and the Post’s incorrect title meant that the story that spread virally through the national echo chamber was that the Russians had hacked into the US power grid.

[Read the full story here, at Forbes.com]

Only after numerous outlets called out the Post’s changes did the newspaper finally append an editorial note at the very bottom of the article more than half a day later saying “An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electric grid. Authorities say there is no indication of that so far. The computer at Burlington Electric that was hacked was not attached to the grid.”

Yet, even this correction is not a true reflection of public facts as known. The utility indicated only that a laptop was found to contain malware that has previously been associated with Russian hackers. Read the rest of this entry »


Byron York: On Russia Hacks, it’s Jump-to-Conclusions vs. Wait-and-See

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The intelligence community’s response: Fuhgeddaboudit.

Byron York writes: President-elect Trump stirred yet more controversy Saturday night when, as he entered his New Year’s Eve party at Mar-a-Lago, he said he is not convinced the intelligence community is sure about allegations Russian hackers sought to influence the election.

“I just want them to be sure, because it’s a pretty serious charge,” Trump told reporters, “and I want them to be sure.”

The next morning, Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, scoffed at Trump’s statement. “This is the overwhelming judgment of the intelligence community and, frankly, all of the members of the intelligence committees in Congress, Democrats and Republicans,” Schiff said on ABC Sunday. “None of us have any question about this. The only one who does apparently is Donald Trump.”

That is not the case. There are, in fact, members of the intelligence committees who do have questions about this. Yes, many Republicans believe Russian hackers tried to mess with the U.S. presidential campaign in some way, mostly because they believe Russian hackers are always trying to mess with U.S. systems and institutions. But when it comes to solid information on precisely what was done, and on evidence of motives, many Hill Republicans are mostly in the dark — because the intelligence community has kept them there.

[Read the full story here, at Washington Examiner]

Subscribe today to get intelligence and analysis on defense and national security issues in your Inbox each weekday morning from veteran journalists Jamie McIntyre and Jacqueline Klimas.

putin-don-draper-shrug

Remember that before Christmas the intelligence community refused to brief the House Intelligence Committee, telling lawmakers they can wait until intel officials finish the investigation ordered by President Obama. In response, House committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes argued that the Director of National Intelligence was “obligated to comply” with a House request, and that the committee was “deeply concerned” by the DNI’s “intransigence.”

The intelligence community’s response: Fuhgeddaboudit.

So the wait to learn more goes on. Meanwhile, a number of Democrats are arguing that the evidence is so overwhelming that Congress must establish a special investigating committee, even though there will already be multiple investigations of the Russia matter in the standing committees of Congress. Read the rest of this entry »


Edward Jay Epstein: The Fable of Edward Snowden

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As he seeks a pardon, the NSA thief has told multiple lies about what he stole and his dealings with Russian intelligence.

Edward Jay Epstein writes: Of all the lies that Edward Snowden has told since his massive theft of secrets from the National Security Agency and his journey to Russia via Hong Kong in 2013, none is more provocative than the claim that he never intended to engage in espionage, and was only a “whistleblower” seeking to expose the overreach of NSA’s Mini-Snowden-Meinformation gathering. With the clock ticking on Mr. Snowden’s chance of a pardon, now is a good time to review what we have learned about his real mission.

Mr. Snowden’s theft of America’s most closely guarded communication secrets occurred in May 2013, according to the criminal complaint filed against him by federal prosecutors the following month. At the time Mr. Snowden was a 29-year-old technologist working as an analyst-in-training for the consulting firm of Booz AllenHamilton at the regional base of the National Security Agency (NSA) in Oahu, Hawaii. On May 20, only some six weeks after his job there began, he failed to show up for work, emailing his supervisor that he was at the hospital being tested for epilepsy.

This excuse was untrue. Mr. Snowden was not even in Hawaii. He was in Hong Kong. He had flown there with a cache of secret data that he had stolen from the NSA.

This was not the only lie Mr. Snowden told. As became clear during my investigation over the past three years, nearly every element of the narrative Mr. Snowden has provided, which reached its final iteration in Oliver Stone’s 2016 movie, “Snowden,” is demonstrably false.

This narrative began soon after Mr. Snowden arrived in Hong Kong, where he arranged to meet with Laura Poitras, a Berlin-based documentary filmmaker, and Glenn Greenwald, a Brazil-based blogger for the Guardian. Both journalists unknownwere longtime critics of NSA surveillance with whom Mr. Snowden (under the alias Citizen Four) had been in contact for four months.

[Order Edward Jay Epstein’s book “How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft” from Amazon.com]

To provide them with scoops discrediting NSA operations, Mr. Snowden culled several thousand documents out of his huge cache of stolen material, including two explosive documents he asked them to use in their initial stories. One was the now-famous secret order from America’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court requiring Verizon to turn over to the NSA its billing records for its phone users in the U.S. The other was an NSA slide presentation detailing its ability to intercept communications of non-American users of the internet via a joint program with the FBI code-named Prism.

These documents were published in 2013 on June 5 and 6, followed by a video in which he identified himself as the leaker and a whistleblower.

At the heart of Mr. Snowden’s narrative was his claim that while he may have incidentally “touched” other data in his search of NSA files, he took only documents that exposed the malfeasance of the NSA and gave all of them to journalists.

Yet even as Mr. Snowden’s narrative was taking hold in the public realm, a secret damage assessment done by the NSA and Pentagon told a very different story. According to a unanimous report declassified on Dec. 22 by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the investigation showed that Mr. Snowden had “removed” (not merely touched) 1.5 million documents. That huge number was based on, among other evidence, electronic logs that recorded the selection, copying and moving of documents.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

The number of purloined documents is more than what NSA officials were willing to say in 2013 about the removal of data, possibly because the House committee had the benefit of the Pentagon’s more-extensive investigation. But even just taking into account the material that Mr. Snowden handed over to journalists, the December House report concluded that he compromised “secrets that protect American troops overseas and secrets that provide vital defenses against terrorists and nation-states.” These were, the report said, “merely the tip of the iceberg.”

The Pentagon’s investigation during 2013 and 2014 employed hundreds of military-intelligence officers, working around the clock, to review all 1.5 million documents. Most had nothing to do with domestic surveillance or whistle blowing. They were mainly military secrets, as Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before the House Armed Services Committee on March 6, 2014. Read the rest of this entry »


Vladimir Putin Mocks Outgoing U.S. President, Calls Obama a ‘Cotton-Headed Ninny Muggins’

elf-obama

Vladimir Putin said he would work with Donald Trump not Barack Obama on Friday as he mocked the expulsion of his own alleged spies and Kremlin underlings launched abuse at the president.

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his rival Barack Obama up to ridicule on Friday by declining to engage in tit-for-tat expulsions – and instead inviting U.S. diplomats’ children to the Kremlin to party.

The Russian strongman’s actions were accompanied by a fusillade of abuse aimed at Obama from Moscow underlings, who called him a ‘political corpse’ and said his administration was made up of  ‘angry and shallow-brained losers’.

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Putin had been expected to mirror Obama’s decision to expel 35 intelligence agents with Cold War style revenge expulsions.

His foreign minister had called for the measure, but instead Putin – who met the makers of a Russian TV drama about Vikings and posed with a large sword – said he was waiting to deal with Donald Trump. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Syria Announces Ceasefire that was Reached Without the U.S. 

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WaPo: 50% of Clinton Voters Believe Russia ‘Tampered with Vote Tallies in Order to get Donald Trump Elected’

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The story deals largely with the fact that party breakdown determines the conspiracy theories people are willing to believe or not. Interestingly enough, when looking at the results, Republicans (in particular, Trump voters) are less likely to believe conspiracy theories than Hillary voters. For example, the ‘Pizzagate’ conspiracy that said leaked emails from the Clinton campaign talked about a pedophilia ring run out of pizza parlor, shows 46% of Trump voters believe it but 53% do not.

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Bitter Clinton voters are more easily persuaded, however, especially when it comes to the belief the Russians hacked our voting systems to help Trump:

Trump voters and Clinton voters also look differently at two Election Day conspiracy theories: that Russia actually hacked the votes to change the election results, and that there were, as Donald Trump suggested, there were “millions of people who voted illegally.”

Half of Clinton’s voters think Russia even hacked the Election Day votes (only 9% of Trump voters give that any credibility at all). Six in ten Trump voters believe there were millions of illegal votes cast on election day. Read the rest of this entry »


Russian Military Buildup on Disputed Isles Clouds Resolution of Row with Tokyo

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 reports: Even though Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed their recent agreement on joint economic activities on four disputed islands off Hokkaido is a step toward resolving the territorial row, the islands’ strategic importance for Russia is likely to continue complicating the decades-old issue.

Even if the agreed economic cooperation chiefly in the Russian Far East makes headway, the strategic importance of the Russian-held islands, claimed by Japan, bodes ill for Tokyo in its efforts to regain them, especially given the advance of China in the Arctic region and Russia’s need to maintain its nuclear deterrence, according to some analysts.

Japan claims that Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai islet group are an integral part of its territory and were illegally seized by the Soviet Union after Japan’s surrender in World War II in August 1945. Russia maintains the Soviet Union took the islands legitimately as the spoils of war.

Russia has been modernizing its military on the islands, which delineate the southern edge of the Sea of Okhotsk where Russian nuclear submarines are deployed. Read the rest of this entry »