Yawei Liu (刘亚伟) joined The Carter Center in 1998 and has been the director of its China Program since 2005. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations since 2014, the associate director of the China Research Center in Atlanta, and an adjunct professor of Political Science at Emory University. He co-authored Obama: The Man Who Will Change America (Chinese language, 2008).
He is the founding editor of http://www.chinaelections.org, http://www.uscnpm.org, and http://www.chinatransparency.org. Since 2012, he has organized an annual forum on U.S.-China relations. Read the rest of this entry »
Paying ransom just invites the next attack.
Tim Johnson reports: U.S. corporations that have long resisted bending to the demands of computer hackers who take their networks hostage are increasingly stockpiling bitcoin, the digital currency, so that they can quickly meet ransom demands rather than lose valuable corporate data.
The companies are responding to cybersecurity experts who recently have changed their advice on how to deal with the growing problem of extortionists taking control of the computers.
“It’s a moral dilemma. If you pay, you are helping the bad guys,” said Paula Long, chief executive of DataGravity, a Nashua, New Hampshire, company that helps clients secure corporate data. But, she added, “You can’t go to the moral high ground and put your company at risk.”
“A lot of companies are doing that as part of their incident response planning,” said Chris Pogue, chief information security officer at Nuix, a company that provides information management technologies. “They are setting up bitcoin wallets.”
Pogue said he believed thousands of U.S. companies had prepared strategies for dealing with hacker extortion demands, and numerous law firms have stepped in to facilitate negotiations with hackers, many of whom operate from the other side of the globe.
Symantec, a Mountain View, California, company that makes security and storage software, estimates that ransom demands to companies average between $10,000 and $75,000 for hackers to provide keys to decrypt frozen networks. Individuals whose computers get hit pay as little as $100 to $300 to unlock their encrypted files.
Companies that analyze cyber threats say the use of ransomware has exploded, and payments have soared. Recorded Future, a Somerville, Massachusetts, threat intelligence firm, says ransom payments skyrocketed 4,000 percent last year, reaching $1 billion. Another firm, Kaspersky Lab, estimates that a new business is attacked with ransomware every 40 seconds.
“If you’re hit by ransomware today, you have only two options: You either pay the criminals or you lose your data,” said Raj Samani, chief technical officer at Intel Security for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “We underestimated the scale of the issue.”
Hackers often send out email with tainted hyperlinks to broad targets, say, an entire company. All it takes is one computer user in a company to click on the infected link to allow hackers to get a foothold in the broader network, leading to hostile encryption.
“At least one employee will click on anything,” said Robert Gibbons, chief technology officer at Datto, a Connecticut company that offers digital disaster recovery services. Read the rest of this entry »
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.
“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.
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 »
“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 »
The Obama administration has been the most lawless in U.S. history. Here are just a few examples to prove it. And these are doozies…. (read more)
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.
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.
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 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 »
Even a prominent Trump adviser accepts the false premise that there has been no ‘ethical shadiness.’
Even Trump adviser Peter Thiel seems to agree. When the New York Times’s Maureen Dowd observed during an interview that Mr. Obama’s administration was “without any ethical shadiness,” Mr. Thiel accepted the premise, saying: “But there’s a point where no corruption can be a bad thing. It can mean that things are too boring.”
In reality, Mr. Obama has presided over some of the worst scandals of any president in recent decades. Here’s a partial list:
• State Department email. In an effort to evade federal open-records laws, Mr. Obama’s first secretary of state set up a private server, which she used exclusively to conduct official business, including communications with the president and the transmission of classified material. A federal criminal investigation produced no charges, but FBI Director James Comey reported that the secretary and her colleagues “were extremely careless” in handling national secrets.
• Operation Fast and Furious. The Obama Justice Department lost track of thousands of guns it had allowed to pass into the hands of suspected smugglers, in the hope of tracing them to Mexican drug cartels. One of the guns was used in the fatal 2010 shooting of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Congress held then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt when he refused to turn over documents about the operation.
• IRS abuses. Mr. Obama’s Internal Revenue Service did something Richard Nixononly dreamed of doing: It successfully targeted political opponents. The Justice Department then refused to enforce Congress’s contempt citation against the IRS’s Lois Lerner, who refused to answer questions about her agency’s misconduct. Read the rest of this entry »
‘Everyone should be ashamed’
Peter Hasson reports: The end of Barack Obama’s eight years in office combined with an incoming Trump administration has liberal journalists placing a renewed importance on holding elected officials accountable.
In an article published Monday, Politico’s Jack Shafer argues that Donald Trump has made reporters “free” to cover the presidency in a more aggressively critical manner than they did during previous administrations.
Reporters, Shafer says, “ought to start thinking of covering Trump’s Washington like a war zone.”
Let’s fix this headline: Trump Is Making Journalists … Do Their Job Again? https://t.co/xUdAPMUFld
— Rachel Stoltzfoos (@RachelStoltz) January 16, 2017
“Witness how many publications are selling subscriptions by promising to ‘hold Trump accountable,’” Shafer adds later, arguing that “It’s not winter that’s coming with the inauguration of Trump. It’s journalistic spring.”
Liberal media members on Twitter received Shafer’s rediscovery of journalistic purpose with enthusiastic applause.
“Hear, hear! Has there ever been a more interesting time to be a reporter?” Politico’s Josh Dawsey cheered.
Clara Jeffrey, editor-in-chief of the left-wing Mother Jones, wrote: “Yes: Cover Trump admin the way you would a war zone.”
‘I think they made a mistake here. And when people make mistakes, they should apologize.’
Mark Finkelstein writes:
…not only does Pelosi implicitly accept the scurrilous allegations as true, her implication would seem to be that Trump is being blackmailed…(more)
DONALD TRUMP: A thing like that should never have been had, and it should certainly never have been released.
NANCY PELOSI: I always wondered what did Russia have on Donald Trump?
CHRIS WALLACE: Bob, what do you think, and this is something we discussed with both of our guests, of the way that the intelligence community handled the so-called Russia dossier, and overall, how do you think of the way they’ve handled Donald Trump?
BOB WOODWARD: I think what’s underreported here is Trump’s point of view on it. And you laid it out: when those former CIA people said these things about Trump, that he was a recruited agent of the Russians —
WALLACE: — a useful fool
WOODWARD: — yeah, and a useful fool. I mean, they started this in Trump’s mind, he knows the old adage, once a CIA man, always a CIA man. And no one came out and said those people shouldn’t be saying things. So then act two is the briefing when this dossier is put out.
I’ve lived in this world for 45 years, where you get things and people make allegations. That is a garbage document. It never should have been presented as part of an intelligence briefing, as you suggested, other channels have the White House counsel give it to Trump’s incoming White House counsel. Read the rest of this entry »
After Donald Trump Kills CNN Reporter with Death-Ray, Media Debates Use of Top-Secret Military Weapons Against CiviliansPosted: January 12, 2017
The dogs of the Democratic media were absolutely howling yesterday over sordid, unverified allegations involving Russia, but the president-elect and his team put on a master class in self-defense. They hit back forcefully, with press secretary Sean Spicer calling publication of the allegations “disgraceful” and Vice President-elect Mike Pence calling it a case of “fake news” that aims to “delegitimize the president-elect.”
It was a strong warm-up, and Trump then took the stage to completely deny the charges, and repeated the denials in response to numerous questions. By the end of the press conference, he had managed to turn the spotlight away from himself and on to the lack of integrity in both the media and government intelligence agencies — where it also belongs.
That was no mean feat, and his performance was a reminder that Trump is not and never will be a pushover. He fights fire with fire and is getting increasingly more disciplined in making his case.
Pulling it off was not as easy as he made it look. The run-up to his first press conference since winning the election had the air of crisis that was routine in the long campaign. Then, every week or two, many geniuses predicted that something Trump had said or done would be the final straw and he would have to drop out.
Similarly, the salacious allegations he faced yesterday packed a potential to seriously wound him before he takes office. Anything less than complete denial would have created a firestorm, but after his no-wiggle-room statements, the allegations withered, at least for now. That had to disappoint the dead-enders who hoped they had finally found the kill shot.
Instead, Trump emerged intact and even stronger as he made news on two other fronts: He released extensive plans on how he is severing himself from his company and nominated a new secretary of the troubled Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Read the rest of this entry »
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.
“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.
“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.
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 »
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.writes:
“This was a multifaceted campaign, so the hacking was only one part of it. It also entailed classical propaganda, disinformation, fake news.”
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.
Wow, the DNI’s report, presented in this tweet in its entirety, is pretty amazing: pic.twitter.com/U1gtUS5jqd
— Sonny Bunch (@SonnyBunch) January 6, 2017
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.
“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 »
In the current D.C. climate on Russia, all relevant journalistic incentives encourage and reward false news.
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.
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.
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.”
“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 »
Junko Horiuchi 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.
Moscow (AFP) – A Russian military plane carrying 91 people has disappeared from radar after taking off from the southern city of Adler, local news agencies reported the defence ministry as saying Sunday.
Russian aircraft goes missing pic.twitter.com/BEpTSYtrLH
— NewsX (@NewsX) December 25, 2016
…As Obama concludes his reign of error, his party is smaller, weaker, and more rickety than it has been since at least the 1940s. Behold the tremendous power that Democrats have frittered away — from January 2009 through the aftermath of Election Day 2016 — thanks to Obama and his ideas:
- Democrats surrendered the White House to political neophyte Donald J. Trump.
- U.S. Senate seats slipped from 55 to 46, down 16 percent.
- U.S. House seats slid from 256 to 194, down 24 percent.
- Democrats ran the U.S. Senate and House in 2009. Next year, they will control neither.
- Governorships fell from 28 to 16, down 43 percent.
- State legislatures (both chambers) plunged from 27 to 14, down 48 percent.
- Trifectas (states with Democratic governors and both legislative chambers) cratered from 17 to 6, down 65 percent.
Since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, eight U.S. presidents have served at least two terms or bowed to their vice-presidents due to death or resignation. Among them, Obama ranks eighth in total state legislative seats that his party preserved during his tenure. Obama has supervised the net loss of 959 such Democratic positions, down 23.5 percent, according to Ballotpedia, which generated most of the data cited here. This far outpaces the 843 net seats that Republicans yielded under President Dwight David Eisenhower. Read the rest of this entry »
Oil Drilling ‘Ban’ Still Allows Production Outside America
“This is so egregious, it’s perfectly revealing of the fact that Obama as he leaves the White House, he’s trying to nail everything to the floor so it can’t be moved. Of course, it can be moved. First of all, he’s interpreting this 50, 60-year-old law, in a wildly different way. It was intended to protect the feeding areas of the walrus. It was supposed to be specific, narrow, small tracks, not this gigantic locking away.”
“Second, they can’t even defend it in its own terms. The idea that because we’re not going to drill here, the oil and natural gas is not going to be produced, is ridiculous. It’s going to end up being produced in Nigeria, places all over the world, where the standards — environmental standards and protections — are infinitely less than they are in the U.S. So even in terms of the environment, you’re increasing the danger. It’s very obvious that all they’re trying to do is prevent American production of hydrocarbons, and it’s futile. The Indians and the Chinese are opening a coal-fired plant every week. It is not going to stop. What we don’t do, they will do. What we are doing is exporting jobs, exporting the waste, and exporting the danger.”
Source: National Review
Russian Diplomat is Shot Dead at his Home in Moscow Hours After the Assassination of Ambassador in AnkaraPosted: December 20, 2016
A high ranking Russian diplomat has been found dead from gun shot wounds in Moscow, it was reported early today.
Petr Polshikov, 56, was found at his home in the capital city with a bullet wound to his head.
The shooting disclosed by Ren TV came soon after news broke of the assassination of Russian ambassador to Ankara, Andrey Karlov.
The circumstances of the shooting remained unclear, and it is understood police are examining all possible theories as to his death.
Two empty bullet shells were found in the flat on Balaklavsky Prospekt.
A gun was discovered under the sink in the bathroom.
Ren TV showed footage from the crime scene. Read the rest of this entry »
David French writes: The world just got more dangerous. A gunman shot and killed the Russian ambassador to Turkey and then stood over his body, shouted “Allahu Akhbar” and began ranting about Syria and Aleppo. I won’t embed video of the shooting, but you can see the entire thing here. Warning, the footage is extremely disturbing.
Early reports are often wrong, but it appears the shooter was a Turkish police officer:
— Ali Hashem علي هاشم (@alihashem_tv) December 19, 2016
We can’t forget that this incident comes just a little more than a year after Turkish forces shot down a Russian jet, and it comes after Erodgan has comprehensively purged Turkish security forces to allegedly leave only his loyalists on staff. Read the rest of this entry »
25 years after the Soviet Union ceased to exist, plenty of repressive regimes live on. Today, the free world no longer cares.
Garry Kasparov writes: A quarter-century ago, on Dec. 25, 1991, as the last Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, resigned after a final attempt to keep the Communist state alive, I was so optimistic for the future. That year and the years leading up to that moment were a period when anything felt possible. The ideals of freedom and democracy seemed within the reach of the people of the Soviet Union.
“It is difficult to describe what life in the U.S.S.R. was like to people in the free world today. This is not because repressive dictatorships are an anachronism people can’t imagine, like trying to tell your incredulous children that there was once a world without cellphones and the internet.”
I remember the December evening in 1988 when I was having dinner with friends and my mother in Paris. My family and I still lived in Baku, capital of the then-Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan, where I was raised, but I had become accustomed to unusual freedoms since becoming the world chess champion in 1985. I was no longer accompanied by KGB minders everywhere I went, although my whereabouts were always tracked. Foreign travel still required special approval, which served to remind every Soviet citizen that this privilege could be withdrawn at any time.
“The U.S.S.R. ceased to exist in 1991, but there are plenty of repressive, authoritarian regimes thriving in 2016. The difference, and I am sad to say it, is that the citizens of the free world don’t much care about dictatorships anymore, or about the 2.7 billion people who still live in them.”
My status protected me from many of the privations of life in the Soviet Union, but it did not tint my vision rose. Instead, my visits to Western Europe confirmed my suspicions that it was in the U.S.S.R. where life was distorted, as in a funhouse mirror.
We were discussing politics, of course, and I was being optimistic as usual. I was sure that the Soviet Union would be forced to liberalize socially and economically to survive.
“The words of John F. Kennedy in 1963 Berlin sound naive to most Americans today: “Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free,” he said. That for decades the U.S. government based effective foreign policy on such lofty ideals seems as distant as a world without iPhones.”
Mr. Forman played the elder voice of reason to my youthful exuberance. I was only 25, while he had lived through what he saw as a comparable moment in history. He cautioned that he had seen similar signs of a thaw after reformer Alexander Dubčekhad become president in Czechoslovakia in 1968. Eight months after Dubček’s election, his reforms ended abruptly as the U.S.S.R. sent half a million Warsaw Pact troops into Czechoslovakia and occupied the country. Many prominent Czechs, like Messrs. Forman and Kavalek, fled abroad.
“Gorbachev’s perestroika is another fake,” Mr. Forman warned us about the Soviet leader’s loosening of state controls, “and it will end up getting more hopeful people killed.” I insisted that Mr. Gorbachev would not be able to control the forces he was unleashing. Mr. Forman pressed me for specifics: “But how will it end, Garry?”
I replied—specifics not being my strong suit—that “one day, Miloš, you will wake up, open your window, and they’ll be gone.”
“Ronald Reagan’s warning that ‘freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction’ was never meant to be put to the test, but it is being tested now. If anything, Reagan’s time frame of a generation was far too generous. The dramatic expansion of freedom that occurred 25 years ago may be coming undone in 25 months.”
It is difficult to describe what life in the U.S.S.R. was like to people in the free world today. This is not because repressive dictatorships are an anachronism people can’t imagine, like trying to tell your incredulous children that there was once a world without cellphones and the internet. The U.S.S.R. ceased to exist in 1991, but there are plenty of repressive, authoritarian regimes thriving in 2016. The difference, and I am sad to say it, is that the citizens of the free world don’t much care about dictatorships anymore, or about the 2.7 billion people who still live in them.
The words of John F. Kennedy in 1963 Berlin sound naive to most Americans today: “Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free,” he said. That for decades the U.S. government based effective foreign policy on such lofty ideals seems as distant as a world without iPhones. Read the rest of this entry »
Russian Hacking: Was it a Proportional Response? Retaliation for State Deptment Sponsorship of Anti-Putin Protests in Europe?Posted: December 18, 2016
Did Vladimir Putin specifically target Hillary Clinton through a Russian email hack? Or was she a convenient target for a greater goal? AEI Resident Scholar Leon Aron explains.
Outside California, Hillary Clinton lost the popular vote by 1.4 million to Donald Trump.
John Merline reports: Democrats who are having trouble getting out of the first stage of grief — denial — aren’t being helped by the fact that, now that all the votes are counted, Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote has topped 2.8 million, giving her a 48% share of the vote compared with Trumps 46%.
To those unschooled in how the United States selects presidents, this seems totally unfair. But look more closely at the numbers and you see that Clinton’s advantage all but disappears.
As we noted in this space earlier, while Clinton’s overall margin looks large and impressive, it is due to Clinton’s huge margin of victory in one state — California — where she got a whopping 4.3 million more votes than Trump.
California is the only state, in fact, where Clinton’s margin of victory was bigger than President Obama’s in 2012 — 61.5% vs. Obama’s 60%.
But California is the exception that proves the true genius of the Electoral College — which was designed to prevent regional candidates from dominating national elections.
In recent years, California has been turning into what amounts to a one-party state. Between 2008 and 2016, the number of Californian’s who registered as Democrats climbed by 1.1 million, while the number of registered Republicans dropped by almost 400,000.
What’s more, many Republicans in the state had nobody to vote for in November. Read the rest of this entry »
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange implied in an interview that a murdered Democratic National Committee staffer was the source of a trove of damaging emails the rogue website posted just days before the party’s convention.
Speaking to Dutch television program Nieuswsuur Tuesday after earlier announcing a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Seth Rich’s killer, Assange said the July 10 murder of Rich in Northwest Washington was an example of the risk leakers undertake.
“Whistle-blowers go to significant efforts to get us material and often very significant risks,” Assange said. “As a 27-year-old, works for the DNC, was shot in the back, murdered just a few weeks ago for unknown reasons as he was walking down the street in Washington.”
When the interviewer interjected that the murder may have been a robbery, Assange pushed back.
When pressed as to whether Rich was, in fact, the leaker, Assange stated that the organization does not reveal its sources.
Police have said they believe the motive was robbery, and that there is no evidence Rich’s murder was connected to his work. But Rich’s father has said the 4 a.m. murder, in which Rich was shot several times from behind, did not appear to be a robbery, as his son’s wallet and watch were not taken. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Krauthammer: On Russia, ‘The Passivity of Barack Obama in the Face of This Is Simply Staggering’Posted: December 13, 2016
“The overall concern is real. The idea that it gave the election to Donald Trump, I think, is absurd. The intelligence agencies themselves are split. There is no way really to discern intent without having a source inside and we don’t. But the real issue is this: There is extensive report on how this thing developed over 18 months with the Obama administration knowing about this.”
“Knowing about all kinds of intrusions by the Russians through others, and the passivity of Barack Obama in the face of this is simply staggering. It quotes officials as saying that in the end there were people saying we had to do something, some kind of retaliation to prevent or deter the Russians and/or others, and Obama never did. In part because he didn’t want to lose influence with Russia in Syria.”
CIA says Moscow’s efforts specifically intended to hurt Clinton’s election prospects.
Donald Trump has rejected the assessment of the US intelligence community that alleged hacking by Russia in the months before the election was aimed at helping the property mogul beat his rival Hillary Clinton.
“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” the Trump transition team said after the Washington Post reported that the CIA had concluded that Russia tried to sway the race in his favour.
Ahead of the election, the White House accused Russia of interfering with the democratic process. But the Washington Post on Friday said the CIA had concluded that the efforts were specifically intended to hurt Mrs Clinton. The paper said Russia had hacked both the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee but only given information taken from the Democrats to WikiLeaks, which then released it before the election. The RNC had previously denied suggestions that it was hacked.
“It’s pretty clear to me that WikiLeaks was designed to hurt Clinton and it could be us tomorrow.”
Charles Schumer, the New York senator who will become the top Democrat in the Senate in January, on Saturday called for a congressional investigation into the alleged Russian hacking. “That any country could be meddling in our elections should shake both political parties to their core. Senate Democrats will join with our Republican colleagues next year to demand a congressional investigation and hearings to get to the bottom of this,” said Mr Schumer. “It’s imperative that our intelligence community turns over any relevant information so that Congress can conduct a full investigation.”
Democrats, including those who are disappointed that Mrs Clinton lost the election despite winning the popular vote, are frustrated at the lack of scrutiny of events that they believe may have influenced the outcome of what was one of the most bitter elections in modern American history. Read the rest of this entry »
Tucker Carlson takes on Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin over her claims that many of Trump’s voters are angry, racist white people. (December 9th, 2016)
This post will unpack the leak from the CIA published in the WaPo tonight.
emptywheel writes: Before I start with the substance of the story, consider this background. First, if Trump comes into office on the current trajectory, the US will let Russia help Bashar al-Assad stay in power, thwarting a 4-year effort on the part of the Saudis to remove him from power. It will also restructure the hierarchy of horrible human rights abusing allies the US has, with the Saudis losing out to other human rights abusers, potentially up to and including that other petrostate, Russia. It will also install a ton of people with ties to the US oil industry in the cabinet, meaning the US will effectively subsidize oil production in this country, which will have the perhaps inadvertent result of ensuring the US remains oil-independent even though the market can’t justify fracking right now.
The CIA is institutionally quite close with the Saudis right now, and has been in charge of their covert war against Assad.
This story came 24 days after the White House released an anonymous statement asserting, among other things, “the Federal government did not observe any increased level of malicious cyber activity aimed at disrupting our electoral process on election day,” suggesting that the Russians may have been deterred.
This story was leaked within hours of the time the White House announced it was calling for an all-intelligence community review of the Russia intelligence, offered without much detail. Indeed, this story was leaked and published as an update to that story.
Which is to say, the CIA and/or people in Congress (this story seems primarily to come from Democratic Senators) leaked this, apparently in response to President Obama’s not terribly urgent call to have all intelligence agencies weigh in on the subject of Russian influence, after weeks of Democrats pressuring him to release more information. It was designed to both make the White House-ordered review more urgent and influence the outcome.
So here’s what that story says.
In September, the spooks briefed “congressional leaders” (which for a variety of reasons I wildarseguess is either a Gang of Four briefing including Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, and Harry Reid or a briefing to SSCI plus McConnell, Reid, Jack Reed, and John McCain). Apparently, the substance of the briefing was that Russia’s intent in hacking Democratic entities was not to increase distrust of institutions, but instead to elect Trump.
The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.
The difference between this story and other public assessments is that it seems to identify the people — who sound like people with ties to the Russian government but not necessarily part of it — who funneled documents from Russia’s GRU to Wikileaks.
Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.
[I]ntelligence agencies do not have specific intelligence showing officials in the Kremlin “directing” the identified individuals to pass the Democratic emails to WikiLeaks, a second senior U.S. official said. Those actors, according to the official, were “one step” removed from the Russian government, rather than government employees.
This is the part that has always been missing in the past: how the documents got from GRU, which hacked the DNC and John Podesta, to Wikileaks, which released them. It appears that CIA now thinks they know the answer: some people one step removed from the Russian government, funneling the documents from GRU hackers (presumably) to Wikileaks to be leaked, with the intent of electing Trump.
Not everyone buys this story. Mitch McConnell doesn’t buy the intelligence. Read the rest of this entry »
China: Shinzo Abe Statue with Hitler Mustache Removed by Shenyang Mall After Japanese Consulate ComplainsPosted: November 27, 2016
The Abe wax figure was first unveiled last week along with likenesses of Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin.
Alex Linder writes: Unfortunately, customers visiting one Shenyang shopping mall will no longer be greeted by a bowing Shinzo Abe with a Hitler mustache after the mall received complaints from the Japanese consulate in the city.
The Abe wax figure was first unveiled last week along with likenesses of Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. Behind the kowtowing Japanese Prime Minister were Chinese characters reading: “Commemorating the September 18th Incident.”
“Confusingly, the worker added that the Hitler mustache was added intentionally to ‘make sure it didn’t entirely resemble Abe,’ and that the backdrop had nothing to do with the statues, as they had just been placed there temporarily.”
In English, this is known as the Mukden or Manchurian Incident, when a staged explosion in Shenyang (then called Mukden) provided Japan with the pretext for its invasion of Manchuria in 1931. This year was the 85th anniversary of that incident, causing some “patriotic” Chinese companies to ban their employees from buying the new iPhone 7.
“The figures were all made by a craftsman from Dandong, Liaoning province, and displayed in order to ‘enrich the shopping experience of customers.'”
Those bans were largely ridiculed across China, as was this wax figure. Chinese netizens called the Abe-Hitler figure a “disgrace.” Read the rest of this entry »
MATALIN: Can I have an honest moment here people, Van has to my mind retracted your whitelash with what you just said, no, that we have to not focus on the toxic stuff — okay, but you — if you don’t, you’re wrong. You are not — that’s not the path for progressives. We’ve all agreed at the outset that the path which is Ellison’s message is to go back to the rust belt and the rednecks . You’re not going to get there with climate change and Putin.
JONES: I said and stand by it. I said that race was a part and there was a part that alt-right part is part of the whitelash. If you listened to the whole quote you would agree with what I said So i don;t take that back–
MATALIN: I did listen and you said what do I tell the kids. I’m a black man in America who went to Yale and written books who served a president and now —
JONES: I’m a ninth generation American and the first born in my family with all my rights. Ninth generation American, so we have not escaped because I went to Yale all the problems of this country.
MATALIN: You should not be a racial polemicist you should be a racial reconciler.
JONES: You should be ashamed about yourself to say that about me to my face.
MATALIN: Should I say it behind your back would be better?
JONES: I spent more time than you have trying to be a racial reconciler.
MATALIN: Really? how do you know that? Do you know anything about me?
JONES: Apparently you don’t know anything about me. Read the rest of this entry »
MEXICO CITY (AP) — The world faces a starkly different America led by a President Donald Trump.
While the billionaire businessman’s election was welcomed in some countries, others saw it as a big shock as governments will now have to deal with a man who has cozied up to Vladimir Putin, told North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies they would have to pay for their own protection and vowed to make the Mexican government pay for a multibillion-dollar border wall.
Trump’s win was particularly startling in Mexico, where his remarks calling Mexican immigrants criminals and “rapists” were a deep insult to national pride. Financial analysts have predicted a Trump win would threaten billions of dollars in cross-border trade, and government officials say they have drawn up a contingency plan for such a scenario, though without releasing details.