Saturday, April 29, 2017

4.29.17: Russian rallies urge Putin not to run again; dozens arrested | Putin’s Propaganda Machine Targets Europe | 'At least SIX prisons holding gay men in Chechen Republic' | French Presidential Front-Runner Denies Russian Media Accreditation | Russia's Lavrov says ready to cooperate with U.S. on Syria: agencies | Вручение медалей «Герой Труда Российской Федерации». Звание Героя Труда присвоено художественному руководителю Московского театра «Современник» Галине Волчек.

Russian Rallies - 4.29.17
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Putin’s helmeted stormtroopers arrest dissenters


A woman is detained by helmeted police at a demonstration in St Petersburg today, organised by opposition group Open Russia

AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky

Apr 29, 10:16 AM EDT

Russian rallies urge Putin not to run again; dozens arrested

By JIM HEINTZ
Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) -- Under the slogan "I'm fed up," demonstrators urging Vladimir Putin not to run for a fourth term rallied in cities across Russia on Saturday. Dozens were arrested in St. Petersburg and elsewhere.

The centerpiece rally in Moscow went peacefully, despite being unsanctioned by authorities. Several hundred people rallied in a park then moved to the nearby presidential administration building to present letters telling Putin to stand down from running in 2018.

But in St. Petersburg, Associated Press journalists saw dozens arrested. The OVD-Info group that monitors political repression relayed reports of more arrests in several cities, including 20 in Tula and 14 in Kemerovo.

Putin has not announced whether he plans to run for president again next year.

He has dominated Russian politics since becoming president on New Year's Eve 1999 when Boris Yeltsin resigned. Even when he stepped away from the Kremlin to become prime minister in 2008-2012 because of term limits, he remained effectively Russia's leader.

Nationwide protests on March 26 appeared to rattle the Kremlin because of the demonstrations' unusual size and reach. The predominance of young people in those protests challenges the belief that the generation that grew up under Putin's heavy hand had become apolitical or disheartened.

Saturday's demonstrations were much smaller, but indicated that marginalized opposition forces will continue to push.

The demonstrations were called for by Open Russia, an organization started by Kremlin foe Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

As an oil tycoon, Khodorkovsky was once listed as Russia's richest man, but his political ambitions put him at odds with the Kremlin. He was arrested in 2003 and served 10 years in prison on tax-evasion and fraud convictions that supporters say were political persecution. He was pardoned in 2013, left the country and revived Open Russia as a British-based organization.

On Wednesday, Russia's Prosecutor-General banned Open Russia as an undesirable foreign organization. But the group's Moscow branch says it is administratively separate and not subject to the ban.

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Russian rallies - Google Search


Story image for Russian rallies from Fox News

Russian rallies urge Putin not to run again; dozens arrested

Fox News-2 hours ago
Under the slogan "I'm fed up," demonstrators urging Vladimir Putin not to run for a fourth term rallied in cities across Russia on Saturday.

    _____________________________________

Putin’s Propaganda Machine Targets Europe | commentary 

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Меркель привезет в Москву привет от Трампа — Рамблер/новости
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Several Chechen men are hiding out in Moscow after escaping what they say is a brutal campaign against gay men by authorities in the Muslim region of Russia

'No choice but to lie or die': Gay men facing death flee Russia's Chechnya


At least six secret prisons are holding gay men in Russia's Chechen Republic, with prisoners tortured until families pay police large bribes, it has been claimed. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov (pictured) has denied rounding up and murdering homosexuals in his predominately Muslim republic

'At least SIX prisons holding gay men in Chechen Republic'




Заседание Совета Безопасности.

Заседание Совета Безопасности.

Вручение медалей «Герой Труда Российской Федерации». Звание Героя Труда присвоено художественному руководителю Московского театра «Современник» Галине Волчек.

Вручение медалей «Герой Труда Российской Федерации». Звание Героя Труда присвоено художественному руководителю Московского театра «Современник» Галине Волчек. 

M.N.: Vovchick and Volchek: a special closeness. 

_____________________________________________________

QUOTES: 


Putin’s Propaganda Machine Targets Europe



"Macron gave no specific examples of Russian media spreading fake news at the time, but a February 4 report by Sputnik quoted a pro-Putin center-right French legislator as saying Macron was a puppet of U.S. political and financial elites. By contrast, Moscow has warm relations with Macron's rival in the presidential race, National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who met President Vladimir Putin in a surprise visit to Moscow ahead of France's April 23 first round vote... Independent analysts are increasingly concluding that Macron has been targeted by the Kremlin. A cybersecurity research group this week said Macron's campaign was hit by a group of Russian hackers last month. The Pawn Storm group, which has been linked to several high-profile attacks in the West, is also believed to be behind the attacks last summer on the U.S. Democratic National Committee, in what U.S. intelligence agencies said was an attempt to undermine Hillary Clinton's presidential bid.

"The Macron campaign claims its security was stout enough to keep out the Kremlin’s cyber-invaders, but there is little that Macron can do to stop all of the misinformation being pumped out by the Russian propaganda apparatus online and on the air.

Sputnik News, for example, claimed that Macron is backed by a “very wealthy gay lobby” and that he is loyal to American banks. The not-so-hidden innuendo here is that Macron (who is married to his former high school teacher) is gay. Whether this particular rumor is damaging any more at a time when homophobia is on the wane in the West is open to question, but, obviously, Macron’s opponents seemed to think so.


This is one story that is easy to connect to Moscow. Others are harder to trace. There were, for example, online rumors..." 

"...the West needs to fight back more actively to get its message out to the oppressed populace of Russia. Reinvigorate the instruments of information warfare, such as the now-defunct U.S. Information Agency, 

that we used to wage the Cold War and give Putin a taste of his own medicine. Our information warriors, unlike theirs, wouldn’t even have to make anything up. Putin can’t handle the truth."

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French Presidential Front-Runner Denies Russian Media Accreditation

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French presidential front-runner Emmanuel Macron's campaign has declined to give Russia Today and Sputnik press accreditation after his team found the Russian state-owned news outlets publish misleading information about the candidate.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the denial of accreditation "outrageous" and "deliberate and bare-faced discrimination against Russian media by the presidential candidate of a state that has historically been vigilant when it comes to free speech."
Sputnik and RT were created by the Kremlin for foreigners and are available in several languages. Both have a French language website.
A Macron spokesman on April 28 described the outlets as a "two-headed entity" which issues Russian state propaganda and fake news.
In February, Macron accused the Kremlin of mounting a "smear campaign" via state media against the centrist former economy minister, a strong defender of the European Union.
Macron gave no specific examples of Russian media spreading fake news at the time, but a February 4 report by Sputnik quoted a pro-Putin center-right French legislator as saying Macron was a puppet of U.S. political and financial elites.
By contrast, Moscow has warm relations with Macron's rival in the presidential race, National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who met President Vladimir Putin in a surprise visit to Moscow ahead of France's April 23 first round vote.
Macron takes a hard line on maintaining EU sanctions imposed on Moscow over the Ukraine crisis, whereas Le Pen backs the lifting of sanctions and improving ties with Russia.
RT has issued several statements denying suggestions that it is part of a campaign to spread fake news about Macron.
"So this is how gracelessly freedom of speech ends in a country which prides itself on its freedoms almost more than it prides itself on its Camembert and Brie cheeses," RT's editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said on social media.
Independent analysts are increasingly concluding that Macron has been targeted by the Kremlin. A cybersecurity research group this week said Macron's campaign was hit by a group of Russian hackers last month.
The Pawn Storm group, which has been linked to several high-profile attacks in the West, is also believed to be behind the attacks last summer on the U.S. Democratic National Committee, in what U.S. intelligence agencies said was an attempt to undermine Hillary Clinton's presidential bid.
Pawn Storm is widely suspected of having links to Russia's security services.
Moscow has denied any involvement in seeking to influence France's election, which will be settled in a second-round run-off between Macron and Le Pen on May 7.
With reporting by AFP and Reuters
Read the whole story

· ·

Survey points to Macron victory

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Emmanuel Macron
Emmanuel Macron (pic from Stock News USA)
PARIS. – A new Odoxa survey of voter intentions said centrist Emmanuel Macron would win the French presidency in a May 7 vote, but that his share of the vote would be 59 percent, down four percentage points from its previous survey.
The survey, carried out over April 26-27 and published on Friday, saw his far right rival Marine Le Pen on 41 percent, up four points compared with the previous survey on April 24-25.
The poll showed that 40 percent of supporters of the defeated first-round French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon would vote Emmanuel Macron, while half of Francois Fillon voters would do the same.
More than 40 percent of Melenchon voters plan to abstain, the poll also showed. – Reuters.
Read the whole story

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Меркель привезет в Москву привет от Трампа — Рамблер/новости

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Во вторник, 2 мая, в Россию с рабочим визитом приезжает канцлер Германии 
Ангела Меркель
. Это первый за два года визит германского канцлера в Москву, от которого стороны ждут если не нормализации отношений, то активизации диалога. Меркель прибудет в Россию после встречи с президентом США, и американский фактор тоже будет играть существенную — и не самую конструктивную — роль в поездке в Москву.
Московский визит Меркель важен как для германского, так и для российского лидеров. Для Меркель это возможность продемонстрировать, что она имеет влияние на Россию, которую в 
ЕС
считают главным возмутителем политического спокойствия. Для российского президента, в свою очередь, переговоры дают возможность донести свое видение процессов в регионе до одного из главных, если не главного лидера Евросоюза.
Российский лидер публично пригласил Меркель приехать в Россию еще в марте, во время столичного визита главы 
МИДЗигмара Габриэля
. «Мы ждем с визитом госпожу федерального канцлера, прошу передать ей самые лучшие пожелания», — сказал Путин. Однако очевидно, что встреча российского и германского лидеров легкой не будет, учитывая обилие политических противоречий.
Конфликт на востоке Украины является главным камнем преткновения между Германией и Россией. Берлин не раз призывал Москву повлиять на самопровозглашенные ЛНР и ДНР, чтобы те пошли навстречу Киеву в минском переговорном процессе, целью которого является прекращение огня. Российское руководство, между тем, подчеркивает: самопровозглашенные республики Донбасса являются самостоятельными игроками на переговорах, Москва не определяет их позицию, а Берлину лучше сосредоточиться на том, чтобы убедить пойти на уступки как раз Киев.
В Германии пока полны решимости продолжать минский процесс и выработать «дорожную карту» действий, которую предлагал согласовать прежний глава германского МИД 
Франк-Вальтер Штайнмайер
. В Москве также хотят стабилизации ситуации, но скептически относятся к готовности украинского президента 
Петра Порошенко
 выполнять условия минских соглашений, которые он сам подписал в 2015 году.
Сохранять статус-кво на Украине становится все труднее. Киев не раз говорил, что минский процесс не работает, а ВС Украины готовы перейти к силовым действиям против ополченцев на востоке.
Для имиджа Меркель важно добиться хотя бы видимости прогресса на востоке Украины: Германия — ключевой игрок «нормандского формата» (вместе с Россией, Францией и Украиной), призванного для ускорения минских переговоров по Донбассу.
В свою очередь, директор Центра германских исследований 
РАНВладислав Белов
 считает, что Меркель постарается сделать все возможное, чтобы найти выход из ситуации на Украине, так как Минский процесс «ее детище». «Она движима стремлением не наказать Путина, а искать компромиссы», — рассказал эксперт.
В проблеме Украины есть и экономическая составляющая. Она связана с идей российской стороны начать строительство газопровода «Северный Поток-2», который может лишить Украину роль в транзите российского газа. Согласно проекту, газ пройдет по дну моря непосредственно в Германию. Однако политический контекст существенно замедляет реализацию, несмотря на то, что схема финансирования проекта уже согласована.
Кроме Украины еще одним трудным моментом в переговорах Германии и России будет вопрос Сирии. Здесь позиции стран расходятся гораздо сильнее.
«Меркель убеждена, что президент Сирии 
Башар Асад
 не просто диктатор, а преступник, убивающий детей и женщин, и негативное отношение распространяется на Путина, который поддерживает Асада», — говорит Белов. Учитывая, что встреча происходит за два месяца до саммита «большой двадцатки» в Гамбурге, где хозяйкой будет Меркель, необходим какой-то прогресс по сирийскому урегулированию, говорит Белов.
Главный раздражитель между Москвой и Берлином в Сирии — химическая атака в провинции Идлиб. Германия солидаризировалась с США, возложив на Россию моральную ответственность за трагедию, в которой погибло более 80 человек.
4 апреля по деревне Хан-Шейхун был нанесен удар снарядами с зарином. Несмотря на опровержение со стороны Дамаска и отсутствия международного расследования, большинство западных стран уверено: бомбы с запрещенными химическими веществами нанесла авиация Башара Асада, который пользуется покровительством Москвы.
Близость Германии с США — одна из главных сложностей в переговорах с Меркель, считает доцент кафедры политической истории 
МГИМОКирилл Коктыш
. «То, что Берлин в своей политике четко ориентируется на США — это данность уже многих лет. Поэтому это даже нельзя негативным фактором на переговорах. Москва это учитывает всегда», — считает собеседник «Газеты.Ru».
По его мнению, США имеют немало возможностей контролировать Берлин, в том числе потому, что на территории Германии находятся около 70 тысяч американских военнослужащих. Американский вектор Берлина не меняется вне зависимости от того, кто находится на президентском кресле в США. Во время президентства 
Барака Обамы
, например, американо-германские связи подкреплялись хорошим личным контактом между ним и Меркель — однако это не мешало американским спецслужбам продолжать широкую программу компьютерной слежки и телефонной прослушки правительственных зданий в Германии.
Об этом стало известно в 2013 году, когда бывший агент 
АНБЭдвард Сноуден
 обнародовал секретные данные о масштабах киберопераций США за рубежом. В марте на 
WikiLeaks
 были опубликованы новые утечки конфиденциальных документов, в которых говорилось о бункере
ЦРУ
Скандалы, связанные с американским присутствием, не раз вызвали суровые заявления со стороны Меркель. Тем не менее, на суть отношений между Вашингтоном и Берлином это не сказывалось.
Последний европейский визит американского президента Барака Обамы прошел именно в Германии. Американский лидер сердечно попрощался с Меркель и с трибуны в Берлине выступил с финальным обращением ко всей Европе. Накануне в газете Wirtschaftswoche вышла его статья в соавторстве с той же Меркель.
Сегодня, когда США возглавляет 
Дональд Трамп
, личный контакт между руководством Америки и Германии оказался потерян. Это стало очевидным во время двусторонней встречи канцлера Германии и Трампа, которая состоялась в марте. По данным западных СМИ, германская делегация была неприятно удивлена тем, насколько Трамп был несведущ в европейской тематике.
Американский президент десять раз переспрашивал Меркель, никак не веря в то, что США не могут заключить отдельное торговое соглашение с Германией. Только когда канцлер одиннадцатый раз объяснила, что такие документы заключаются только на уровне Евросоюза и с Евросоюзом, американский лидер понял этот принцип. Кроме того, в ходе одного их протокольных мероприятий Трамп не пожал Меркель руку, причем настолько очевидно, что это вызвало комический эффект.
В ходе тех же переговоров Трамп также крайне настойчиво требовал от делегации Германии увеличить расходы на военные программы 
НАТО
 до 2% ВВП. Берлин без энтузиазма относится к этой идее.
Вероятно, жесткая тактика Трампа была вызвана в том числе пренебрежительными комментариями, которые позволили себе в его адрес ряд политиков Германии в прошлом году, в ходе американской предвыборной гонки.
«Трамп давил на Меркель, такой у него подход, — рассуждает Коктыш. — США выгодно, чтобы Германия финансировала НАТО в большем объеме. Также США выгодно, если Европа будет оставаться разделенной и слабой после выхода из ее состава Великобритании, а ось Вашингтон-Лондон будет, наоборот, укрепляться». Впрочем, эксперт добавил, что нынешняя
администрация США
 может изменить позицию, но пока Вашингтон предпочитает следовать политической инерции.
Лондон, между тем, считается одним из главных сторонников продолжения санкционного режима против России. 11 апреля, в преддверии переговоров G7 в Италии, глава МИД Великобритании
Борис Джонсон
 заявил, что Лондон и Вашингтон рассматривают новые возможности для антироссийских санкций — как ответная мера на сирийскую химатаку. По данным британской The Independent, Германия и ЕС были не в восторге, но принципиально возражать не стали. Впрочем, условием для обсуждения новых санкций Берлин назвал проведение международного расследования зариновой атаки на Хан-Шейхун.
По данным Австрийского института экономических исследований WIFO, между тем, уже введенные экономические санкции против России стоили Германии 6 млрд евро, а всему ЕС — 17,6 млрд евро.
В апрельском интервью агентству The Associated Press Дональд Трамп заявил: «Это забавно, но лучшая личная химия у меня сложилась с Меркель». Тем не менее, в Европе есть понимание, что американские подходы к Берлину сохранились со сменой американской администрации.
Этим вполне может воспользоваться Россия, которая в данный момент ищет новые возможности для выстраивания новых отношений с Европой и США, уверен Коктыш. Впрочем, для этого нужно заручиться пониманием Меркель.
Владислав Белов отмечает, что канцлер Германии является определяющим политическим тяжеловесом среди лидеров ЕС после того как начался выход из Евросоюза Великобритании под руководством премьера 
Терезы Мэй
.
Это дает Меркель серьезные козыри на переговорах с Россией, тем более, что США сейчас не уделяют много внимания Украине и заняты другими проблемами.
В таком же выжидательном положении находится и Германия, и другие страны ЕС. Во время недавних встреч с европейскими парламентариями многие из них в беседах с «Газетой.Ru» утверждали, что пока не знают, что ждать от Трампа. «Трамп некомфортный человек для всех, но он американский президент», — говорит Белов.
Не исключено, что Путин будет интересоваться мнением Меркель о ее оценке Трампа, с которым ему еще предстоит встреча. Белов отмечает что, хотя между Путин и Меркель «нет больших симпатий, но есть взаимное уважение».
Знание Путиным немецкого языка также несет свои плюсы даже в разговоре через переводчика: «Он слышит разговор два раза и всегда есть возможность оценить качество перевода», — говорит эксперт.
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Russia's Lavrov says ready to cooperate with U.S. on Syria: agencies

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Lawmakers wary of Russia's ability to plant dirt, fake evidence

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WASHINGTON —
In a brief and largely overlooked exchange between Sen. Marco Rubio and America's top spy during a January hearing about Russia's alleged election meddling, the Florida Republican sketched out what he fears could be the next front in the hidden wars of cyberspace. 
Could Russian hackers, Rubio asked then-Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., hypothetically gain access to a U.S. lawmaker's computer, plant criminal evidence on the device of, say, child pornography or money laundering and then tip off law enforcement? 
"It is certainly well within both their technical competence and their potential intent to do something like that," Clapper told the Senate Intelligence Committee days before stepping down in January. "I think the next trend in the cyber business will be the compromise with the fidelity of information." 
 ‘Weaponization’ of data 
The question of how Russia and other adversaries might use cybertools in the future to meddle in American politics is, of course, overshadowed for now by what U.S. intelligence agencies say was Moscow's elaborate campaign to interfere in the 2016 presidential race. 
Emails reportedly stolen by Russian hackers from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta, were later released to the public — something U.S. intelligence officials call the "weaponization" of data — in an effort to sow discord, discredit Clinton and, ultimately, help Donald Trump win. 
Now, five months after Trump's electoral triumph, Russia's alleged interference is the focus of investigations by the FBI as well as the House and Senate Intelligence committees. All three probes are also looking into possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign. Counterintelligence investigations are notoriously long and painstaking affairs, and officials have declined to provide a timeline for them to conclude. 
2018 and 2020 could be a repeat
Even as investigators race to determine what exactly transpired during the 2016 presidential race, senior officials are warning that Russian meddling is not just a thing of the past. FBI Director James B. Comey said in sworn testimony last month that the Kremlin is likely to try to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections as well as the 2020 presidential race. 
If the scale, scope and ambition of Moscow's 2016 cyber campaign long eluded U.S. officials, it has hit home as the investigations have pulled together the various threads of the operation. 
It has also spurred officials to think about what future Russian efforts might look like. One concern is that adversaries could seek to manipulate vote counts — a scenario the Obama administration feared in the 2016 vote but one that ultimately did not come to pass. 
'They can put things on your computer’ 
But another potential form of cyber mischief has increasingly caught the eye of members of the congressional intelligence committees: instead of stealing information, Russia could plant fake information to tarnish a public figure. 
"Not only can they take things off your computer, they can put things on your computer that will compromise you," Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent, said at a hearing last month on Russian cyber operations. "I think that should send a shudder through all Americans that this isn't only taking — you can be very careful in your emails but something can show up on your computer that's fake and you could be in a lot of trouble." 
It is a technique the Russians have used against critics at home and in Europe, experts say. 
The curious case of Vladimir Bukovsky 
Russian dissident Vladimir Bukovsky claims he was the target of just such methods. British police searched Bukovsky's home in Cambridge after receiving a tip about illegal materials — child pornography — and confiscated his computers. Bukovsky has said he is the victim of a smear campaign involving data planted on his devices by a third party, in this case Russia. 
Prosecutors say he downloaded the illegal images over a 15-year period. The trial began in December but was postponed after Bukovsky was hospitalized. 
The Bukovsky case, as well as similar incidents elsewhere in Europe, have generated concerns in the United States about Russia employing similar tactics here to go after public officials. 
The use of compromising information — real or contrived — to discredit an adversary is an age-old trick in the world of espionage. The Soviet KGB was particularly adept at it. 
"Doing those sorts of activities to ruin, for example, a politician or a diplomat's reputation with fake or true but misleading information, those are long-standing techniques," said Christopher Porter, a former CIA official now with the cybersecurity company FireEye. "There's nothing new about that." 
 From far away, with minimal risk 
What is new, Porter said, is that cybertools give countries the ability to carry out such operations from far away, with minimal risk and at scale. 
In other words, modern technology has made it much easier to conduct such operations now than in the past, when intelligence agencies needed a large team, sometimes spread across several countries, to successfully compromise a public figure. Now, all it takes is a small group of cyberwarriors working on computers in an office from the safety of their homeland. 
 A global threat 
Their reach, meanwhile, extends to nearly any computer across the globe. 
"Even if you live in your capital and even if the country you live in has a skilled police force and good intelligence services, they can't necessarily protect you as an individual from that adversary cyberthreat group going after you," Porter said. 
The U.S. government isn't going to help, either, Porter said, noting that only things defined as critical infrastructure, such as the power grid, gets federal protection. 
"So individuals, even if they're politically important, their personal accounts aren't defended in the same way that their government accounts are," he said. 
The past few years have provided ample evidence that private accounts are susceptible to being hacked. In 2015, CIA Director John O. Brennan's personal email account was hacked. And then, of course, there's also Podesta's Gmail account. 
Insider says forensics will expose hacking
In the case of compromising evidence on a public official's computer, some say the fears expressed by Rubio and others are legitimate but perhaps overblown. 
One former senior U.S. official said that if a prominent official is ensnared in a scenario like the one spelled out by Rubio, U.S. law enforcement would conduct a rigorous forensic examination to ensure the veracity of the allegations. 
The evidence, in such an instance, "would be endlessly scrutinized," particularly since the idea of a third party planting evidence on a device is now frequently brought up in cases involving compromising digital data, the former U.S. official said on condition of anonymity. 
But the official pointed to a potential ripple effect of such fears about Russia's cyber reach: the potential chilling of free speech and people's willingness to stake out strong positions against Russia. 
"They're worried because they're hawks that they're going to get targeted," the former official said.
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News Reviews and Opinions: 7:44 PM 4/28/2017 - Among Trump aides, Mattis emerges as a key voice on national security issues - The Washington Post

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Among Trump aides, Mattis emerges as a key voice on national security issues - The Washington Post
Tillerson Keeping ‘All Options’ Open if Diplomacy With North Korea Fails - The New York Times
Russian navy intelligence ship sinks after collision with freighter off Turkish coast  - The Washington Post
Russian mafia groups reportedly operate in Europe on behalf of the Kremlin | Europe | DW.COM | 27.04.2017
Donald Trump and Russia: The Spanish connection with Trump’s Russia scandal | In English | EL PAÍS
Facebook Hints You-Know-Who Tried To Manipulate U.S. Election
Lawmakers Wary of Russia’s Ability to Plant Cyber Dirt
Pentagon Inquiry Seeks to Learn if Flynn Hid Foreign Payment - The New York Times
Analysis: How the state of Russian media becomes the state of international media - Chicago Tribune
Эксперты рассказали, как Россия пытается повлиять на выборы во Франции | Новости в 'Час Пик'
Marine Le Pen rarely mentions gender...
Trump Isn’t Anti-L.G.B.T. - The New York Times
How 'The Simpsons' turned around a timely 'Trump's first 100 days' spoof - The Washington Post

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RUSSIA and THE WEST - РОССИЯ и ЗАПАД: Russian mafia groups reportedly operate in Europe on behalf of the Kremlin | Europe | DW.COM | Russian intelligence ship sinks - 4.27.17: "You Zar ("Sith"), si (see, ssi) f...... H(anging) - (by the herd of sheep)" - News - "Youzarsif H" - Google Search | Putin a 'dark Sith Lord' as Russia spreads fake news, NATO seminar told - The Sydney Morning Herald | Russia-West, Syria Tensions Exposed at Moscow Security Conference Friday April 28th, 2017 at 7:48 AM
RUSSIA and THE WEST - РОССИЯ и ЗАПАД: » Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks: Планы генерального масштаба – Газета Коммерсантъ № 74 (6068) от 27.04.2017 28/04/17 09:25 from 1. My News Blogs from mikenova (2 sites) mikenova shared this story . Минобороны РФ вчера открыло в Моск...
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News Reviews and Opinions: Russian mafia groups reportedly operate in Europe on behalf of the Kremlin | Europe | DW.COM: "The report claims there is a close connection between the Kremlin's state security apparatus represented by the Foreign Intelligence Service, military intelligence (GRU), and the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Russian organized criminal groups active in European countries. Moreover, the Kremlin often tasks these groups to act on its behalf. "The Russian state is highly criminalised, and the interpenetration of the criminal ‘underworld’ and the political ‘upperworld’ has led the regime to use criminals from time to time as instruments of its rule," the ECFR study said."
News Reviews and Opinions: My News Blogs - from Mike Nova

Russia - 4.28.17

СМИ узнали о времени для уничтожения спецаппаратуры утонувшего «Лимана» :: Общество :: РБК
Россия предложила США дружить доменами
СМИ: экипаж «Лимана» успел уничтожить секретную аппаратуру - Свободная Пресса - Война в Сирии. Новости Сирии. Фото. Сирия 2017.

Moscow security conference highlights... - 4.28.17

Moscow security conference highlights...
Russia ready to mend ties with NATO: Military chief
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США и НАТО понизили градус конференции по безопасности в Москве / Воины и Армии / Независимая газета
Планы генерального масштаба – Газета Коммерсантъ № 74 (6068) от 27.04.2017
Moscow security conference highlights rift between Russia, NATO
Новости мира - Главная проблема НАТО не оборонные бюджеты, а Россия - zn.ua

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Russia's ability to plant dirt fake evidence on computers - Google Search

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Lawmakers wary of Russia's ability to plant dirtfake evidence on ...

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Lawmakers Wary of Russia's Ability to Plant Cyber Dirt

Roll Call-Apr 26, 2017
Lawmakers Wary of Russia's Ability to Plant Cyber Dirt ... concerned about being compromised by fake information planted on their computers, ... access to a U.S. lawmaker's computerplant criminal evidence on the device of, ...

Lawmakers Wary of Russia’s Ability to Plant Cyber Dirt

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In a brief and largely overlooked exchange between Sen. Marco Rubio and America’s top spy during a January hearing about Russia’s alleged election meddling, the Florida Republican sketched out what he fears could be the next front in the hidden wars of cyberspace.
Could Russian hackers, Rubio asked then-Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., hypothetically gain access to a U.S. lawmaker’s computer, plant criminal evidence on the device of, say, child pornography or money laundering and then tip off law enforcement?
“It is certainly well within both their technical competence and their potential intent to do something like that,” Clapper told the Senate Intelligence Committee days before stepping down in January. “I think the next trend in the cyber business will be the compromise with the fidelity of information.”
The question of how Russia and other adversaries might use cybertools in the future to meddle in American politics is, of course, overshadowed for now by what U.S. intelligence agencies say was Moscow’s elaborate campaign to interfere in the 2016 presidential race.
Emails reportedly stolen by Russian hackers from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, were later released to the public — something U.S. intelligence officials call the “weaponization” of data — in an effort to sow discord, discredit Clinton and, ultimately, help Donald Trump win.
Now, five months after Trump’s electoral triumph, Russia’s alleged interference is the focus of investigations by the FBI as well as the House and Senate Intelligence committees. All three probes are also looking into possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign. Counterintelligence investigations are notoriously long and painstaking affairs, and officials have declined to provide a timeline for them to conclude.
Even as investigators race to determine what exactly transpired during the 2016 presidential race, senior officials are warning that Russian meddling is not just a thing of the past. FBI Director James B. Comey said in sworn testimony last month that the Kremlin is likely to try to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections as well as the 2020 presidential race.

Fake information

If the scale, scope and ambition of Moscow’s 2016 cyber campaign long eluded U.S. officials, it has hit home as the investigations have pulled together the various threads of the operation.
It has also spurred officials to think about what future Russian efforts might look like. One concern is that adversaries could seek to manipulate vote counts — a scenario the Obama administration feared in the 2016 vote but one that ultimately did not come to pass.
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But another potential form of cyber mischief has increasingly caught the eye of members of the congressional intelligence committees: instead of stealing information, Russia could plant fake information to tarnish a public figure.
“Not only can they take things off your computer, they can put things on your computer that will compromise you,” Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent, said at a hearing last month on Russian cyber operations. “I think that should send a shudder through all Americans that this isn’t only taking — you can be very careful in your emails but something can show up on your computer that’s fake and you could be in a lot of trouble.”
It is a technique the Russians have used against critics at home and in Europe, experts say.
Russian dissident Vladimir Bukovsky claims he was the target of just such methods. British police searched Bukovsky’s home in Cambridge after receiving a tip about illegal materials — child pornography — and confiscated his computers. Bukovsky has said he is the victim of a smear campaign involving data planted on his devices by a third party, in this case Russia. 
Prosecutors say he downloaded the illegal images over a 15 year period. The trial began in December but was postponed after Bukovsky was hospitalized.
The Bukovsky case, as well as similar incidents elsewhere in Europe, have generated concerns in the United States about Russia employing similar tactics here to go after public officials.
The use of compromising information — real or contrived — to discredit an adversary is an age-old trick in the world of espionage. The Soviet KGB was particularly adept at it.
“Doing those sorts of activities to ruin, for example, a politician or a diplomat’s reputation with fake or true but misleading information, those are longstanding techniques,” said Christopher Porter, a former CIA official now with the cybersecurity firm FireEye. “There’s nothing new about that.”
What is new, Porter said, is that cybertools give countries the ability to carry out such operations from far away, with minimal risk and at scale.
In other words, modern technology has made it much easier to conduct such operations now than in the past, when intelligence agencies needed a large team, sometimes spread across several countries, to successfully compromise a public figure. Now, all it takes is a small group of cyberwarriors working on computers in an office from the safety of their homeland.

Personal accounts

Their reach, meanwhile, extends to nearly any computer across the globe.
“Even if you live in your capital and even if the country you live in has a skilled police force and good intelligence services, they can’t necessarily protect you as an individual from that adversary cyberthreat group going after you,” Porter said.
The U.S. government isn’t going to help, either, Porter said, noting that only things defined as critical infrastructure, such as the power grid, gets federal protection.
“So individuals, even if they’re politically important, their personal accounts aren’t defended in the same way that their government accounts are,” he said.
The past few years have provided ample evidence that private accounts are susceptible to being hacked. In 2015, CIA Director John O. Brennan’s personal email account was hacked. And then, of course, there’s also Podesta’s Gmail account.
In the case of compromising evidence on a public official’s computer, some say the fears expressed by Rubio and others are legitimate but perhaps overblown.
One former senior U.S. official said that if a prominent official is ensnared in a scenario like the one spelled out by Rubio, U.S. law enforcement would conduct a rigorous forensic examination to ensure the veracity of the allegations.
The evidence, in such an instance, “would be endlessly scrutinized,” particularly since the idea of a third party planting evidence on a device is now frequently brought up in cases involving compromising digital data, the former U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.
But the official pointed to a potential ripple effect of such fears about Russia’s cyber reach: the potential chilling of free speech and people’s willingness to stake out strong positions against Russia.
“They’re worried because they’re hawks that they’re going to get targeted,” the former official said.
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Facebook Hints You-Know-Who Tried To Manipulate U.S. Election

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Facebook has issued a security report in which it says it found evidence of a coordinated attempt to manipulate last year’s U.S. election through its platform.
In a white paper issued Thursday, members of Facebook's security team said they found evidence of “malicious actors leveraging conventional and social media … with the intent of harming the reputation of specific political targets.”
Though it said the company is "not in a position to make definitive attribution," it said its data “does not contradict the attribution provided by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence in the report dated January 6, 2017.”
vladimir putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin was accused in a CIA report of attempting to manipulate the outcome of the U.S. election last November. A new security report from Facebook says its data "does not contradict" the CIA's conclusions. (Photo: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin)
That report concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an “influence campaign” to damage Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and aid her Republican opponent, Donald Trump.
It also concluded “with high confidence” that Russian military intelligence was actively involved in spreading news of leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta.
“Fake personas were created on Facebook and elsewhere to point to and amplify awareness of this data,” Facebook said in its report, not mentioning the Podesta emails directly.
“Social media accounts and pages were created to amplify news accounts of and direct people to the stolen data. … From there, organic proliferation of the messaging and data through authentic peer groups and networks was inevitable.”
Information had little impact on election: report
But the report also suggests that the “information operations” carried out during the U.S. elections likely had little impact on the outcome.
“The reach of known operations during the U.S. election of 2016 was statistically very small compared to overall engagement on political issues,” the Facebook report stated.
The authors said the social site is taking a "multi-pronged approach" to addressing the issue, including improving its ability to identify fake Facebook accounts; supporting media literacy programs; and "monitoring the efforts of those who try to negatively manipulate civic discourse on Facebook."
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Facebook admits 'malicious actors'...

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Facebook admits 'malicious actors' spread misinformation during the 2016 U.S. election

Recode - ‎3 hours ago‎
It also cites a government report that found Russia played a major role in the presidential race. by Tony Romm and Kurt Wagner Apr 28, 2017, 2:50pm EDT. tweet · share · Linkedin. Almost six months after a U.S. presidential election that was rife with ...

Facebook gearing up to fight political propaganda

The Spokesman-Review - ‎1 hour ago‎
In this April 18 photo, conference workers speak in front of a demo booth at Facebook's annual F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif. In a paper posted online on Thursday Facebook security researchers said the company will monitor the efforts of ...

Facebook, for the first time, acknowledges election manipulation

CBS News - ‎5 hours ago‎
Without saying the words "Russia," "Hillary Clinton," or "Donald Trump," Facebook acknowledged Thursday for the first time what others have been saying for months. In a paper released by its security division, the company said "malicious actors" used ...

Bots aren't spreading fake news on Facebook; humans are

Quartz - ‎4 hours ago‎
Facebook published a new paper this week outlining how it's dealing with government-backed attempts to influence politics in other countries, or what it's calling “information operations.” One of its findings refutes the notion that bots are the ...

Facebook says governments tried to exploit network to sway elections

USA TODAY - ‎5 hours ago‎
SAN FRANCISCO — Less than six months ago, Mark Zuckerberg shrugged off the idea that fake news on Facebook swayed the outcome of the U.S. presidential election as "pretty crazy." Now Facebook is vowing to shut down "information operators" after the ...
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THAAD to have initial operational capability 'very soon': Pentagon


Putin’s Propaganda Machine Targets Europe

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The saboteurs vary, depending on the issue vexing the populist wing of the GOP that day. The list of those undermining this presidency is ballooning: “globalists,” “neocons,” former Obama administration officialsJohn McCain, and, of course, Democrats. It doesn’t appear to have occurred to those nursing a palpable sense of betrayal that alleging a conspiracy of wreckers concedes that Trump’s first 100 days in office were, to say the least, subpar.
The President of the United States is not without agency, and it is patronizing to rob him of it in the attempt to excuse his failures. Yet, Trump fans do have a kernel of a point. The president is being undermined from within, albeit without malicious intent. If Trump’s populist/nationalist fans are looking for a culprit, they need look no further than the nearest mirror. More specifically, they can cast blame for Trump’s predicament on their champion in the West Wing: Steve Bannon.
Regardless of the subjective merits of the various policy proposals that landed with a thud during Trump’s first months in office, those failures are often attributable to the work of the people who make up “The Bannon Wing” in the White House.
An executive order banning travel into the United States from seven majority-Muslim nations, issued just eight days after Trump was inaugurated, almost exploded on the launch pad. It resulted in 24 hours of disastrous press during which American citizens were detained by law enforcement, children and the elderly were harassed at airports, and foreign nationals who had risked their lives helping American soldiers were turned back to war zones. In all this, grassroots Democrats discovered an organizing principle. That executive order, reportedly crafted by Bannon and his erstwhile ally (and former aide to Jeff Sessions), Stephen Miller, was stayed in the courts before the White House dropped it. A revised version of that order hasn’t fared much better and currently resides in legal limbo.
By all accounts, Bannon was no fan of the GOP’s failed first attempt to repeal and replace ObamaCare—he was in good company among conservative Republicans. But he also knew that the failure of this first attempt at a major legislative success would reflect poorly on the administration he served. And so the former Breitbart News chief was dispatched to Capitol Hill to cajole recalcitrant conservatives in the Freedom Caucus into supporting the flawed legislation. “Guys, look: This is not a discussion,” Bannon was quoted as saying by Axios’s Mike Allen. “This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill.” This condescension did not go over well with a group of legislators who are used to being strong-armed by Republicans with more clout than Bannon.
That bill’s failure is surely attributable only to the bill itself. It is, however, an open question as to whether Bannon truly regretted its demise. According to New York Magazine, sources in the White House said Bannon privately undermined the bill, which he allegedly said was “written by the insurance industry.”
“He’s maniacally focused on these trade issues,” Bannon said of Trump in an interview with the New York Times last week. He explained that the Trump White House would soon revive a push to compel American firms to purchase U.S. products and hire U.S. workers. That impulse likely led to the inclusion of a provision in Trump’s executive order approving the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The provision mandates that “all new pipelines, as well as retrofitted, repaired or expanded pipelines” use American steel “to the maximum extent possible.” Trump even told a joint session of Congress that “new American pipelines be made with American steel.” There was just one problem: American firms no longer produce nearly enough of the kind of steel necessary for that kind of project. In retreat, the White House explained that Keystone and pipelines like it are not really “new,” and so the order does not pertain to them.
The nationalist wing of the GOP also stumbled into problem this week when a federal judge blocked yet another presidential executive order, this time targeting so-called “sanctuary cities.” The court ruled that the order, which blocked the disbursement of federal funding unless targeted jurisdictions complied with federal immigration officials, violated the separation of powers. “The Constitution vests the spending powers in Congress, not the President, so the Order cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds,” read Judge William Orrick’s decision. In other words, only Congress can place conditions on the distribution of federal funds.
This executive order and those like it may be re-written to survive judicial scrutiny, or another judge could find that Orrick’s argument lacks merit. In any case, the effort to pursue the nationalist wing’s policy preferences has called into question this White House’s competence. Fortunately for the courts, they’ve been temporarily spared a review of the latest Bannon project: withdrawing from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
On Wednesday, administration officials told reporters that another Bannon-devised executive order withdrawing the U.S. from NAFTA could be revealed as early as next week. Such an order, which would inevitably be subject to an increasingly familiar and uncertain review process in the courts, was immediately met with protests from congressional Republicans and the governments of America’s northern and southern neighbors. Following two calls with the president and prime minister of Mexico and Canada respectively, Trump promised he would only “renegotiate Nafta rather than terminate.”
Was this merely a negotiating tactic? Is Trump communicating to his nationalist supporters that he hasn’t abandoned them entirely? Maybe. But if Trump is truly committed to renegotiating NAFTA, the pro-trade Republicans with which he is also surrounded may soon convince the president that North America’s free-trade zone was already updated amid negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This ready-made “win” on trade might soon prove irresistible.
“Bannon is Trump’s tie to his base,” The Hill’s Kristin Tate wrote. “Trump needs Bannon, the nerve center of his ideological brain trust.” The president doesn’t appear to agree. “I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late,” Trump told the New York Post following Bannon’s ouster from the National Security Council’s Principal’s  Committee. So long as Bannon and the “political movement” Tate says he “embodies” continue to herd this administration into cul-de-sacs from which they are forced to retreat sheepishly, the president’s patience will one day run out. If Trump fans truly cared about the success of this administration, they’d welcome that prospect.
Join us—you'll be in good company. Everyone worth reading is reading (and writing for) COMMENTARY:
 There’s an enormous amount of shouting in the wild west of conservative media. That has its place, and is often a sign of the energy on the right. But amidst the cacophony there’s a special need for serious, considered, and compelling argument, presented in the hope of persuading, not just punishing. This is where COMMENTARY has always shined, perhaps more now than ever before. It aims to tackle the best arguments of its intellectual opponents, not just the easiest targets. It’s a journal I’ve read for nearly 30 years and I can’t think of a time when I’ve valued it more. 

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 There is more commentary in the world than ever before—whether in print, on the air, or on the Internet. But there is still a dearth of serious, informed commentary that reports, analyzes, and argues without ever stooping to name-calling or vitriol. If you further narrow down the segment of the commentariat that looks at the world from a conservative and Jewish perspective—well, you’re left with only one choice. The magazine you are now reading. COMMENTARY has changed over the years—for instance, it now publishes this blog—but one thing that has not changed is its steadfast commitment to providing the best analysis from the most informed writers of the most important ideas in the world, all written in clear prose that appeals to a general audience. There is nothing else like it. Never has been, never will be. 

Max Boot

 In 1975 the Economist said of COMMENTARY: “The world's best magazine?” Take away the question mark and that statement still stands, thirty-eight years later. It's still the magazine America's liberals dread most, and the one America's enemies can't afford to ignore. It's the point of the conservative spear in the never-ending fight against the insanity of the left, whether it's in foreign policy or economic policy, social and cultural issues, or the arts—and no one does a better job standing up for Western culture and America's interests and those of its allies, including Israel. In fact, surviving the next three years—the Obama administration home stretch—and building the foundations for an American resurgence afterward will be impossible without reading COMMENTARY in print and online. 

Arthur Herman

 COMMENTARY is an indispensable read on the Arab Spring, the Afghan war, the future of American conservatism, and all the other crazy stuff out there. But you already knew that. What I really love about it is that it’s a full-service operation, and its back-of-the-book guys—the fellows who write about music, literature, and all the things that make life worth living as the world goes to hell—are the best in the business. There is an observation in a Terry Teachout piece on the wonderful singer Nancy LaMott about “Moon River” that has stayed with me for almost two decades. I fished it out from the back of my mind to impress a gal at a Goldwater Institute reception only the other day, and it worked a treat. So thank you, COMMENTARY! Likewise, my differences with the arts’n’culture crew unsettle me far more than the geopolitical ones: reasonable people can disagree on how large a nuclear arsenal those wacky mullahs should be permitted to own, but I’m still agog at the great Andrew Ferguson’s mystifying praise for the New York Times obituaries page a couple of issues back. That’s COMMENTARY for you—provocative to the end, on matters large and small. In these turbulent and dismaying times, we can all use a huckleberry friend waiting round the bend, in the mailbox each month and on the computer screen every morning. For any journal of opinion, as “Moon River” teaches us, there’s such a lot of world to see. COMMENTARY sees most of it with piercing clarity: it can’t know all the answers, but it asks all the right questions, and with great farsightedness. It deserves your wholehearted support. 

Mark Steyn

 It's notorious, and true, that government officials hardly read anything. Memos, sure; nowadays, emails and tweets as well. But magazines? People barely have time to eat lunch or see their kids, so how can an intellectual monthly affect public affairs? The question is a good one. How did COMMENTARY do it? The answer is that officials, like all citizens following American foreign policy, need a way to understand the world around them. When prevailing theories fail, when conventional wisdom is clearly at variance with what they see before their eyes, the outcome for senators and congressmen and White House officials is what the shrinks call cognitive dissonance. They may say one thing but believe another, or simply be unable to square previous beliefs and policies with the clear effects of U.S. conduct. They've lost the ability to explain the world. And then came COMMENTARY, offering month after month of piercing, bracing analysis—and value judgments of right and wrong, and clear writing about American gains and losses. Here was an insistence on looking reality in the face. Here was plain argument, seeking no quarter intellectually and giving none. And it mattered. It shamed some people, and emboldened others; COMMENTARY demanded that we conform policy to the opportunities and dangers that really faced America. In years of confusion and obfuscation, that striking clarity changed policies, and changed American conduct, because it changed the way we understood the world. 

Elliott Abrams

 For more than 60 years, COMMENTARY has been a go-to source on matters of the greatest importance to our nation and our civilization. Today, its full-throated defense of the United States and freedom is as eloquent as it was a half-century ago, and no less urgent. Issues of the day will change, news cycles come and go, but COMMENTARY remains an indispensable authority in the battle of ideas that help to shape our world. Its continued success is both an indication, and source, of the country’s intellectual health. 

Donald Rumsfeld

 Why does COMMENTARY matter? Since 1945, no other monthly magazine has so consistently published serious, provocative argument and analysis. No other monthly magazine has viewed America and the world through such a wide angle, encompassing economics, politics, society, culture, religion, and diplomacy. No other monthly magazine has published such a celebrated and wide-ranging list of editors and contributors. Cerebral, critical, and committed, the point of view found in its pages is as unique as it is formidable. And in a world of Iranian nukes, rising anti-Semitism, radical Islam, American disarmament, bipartisan neo-isolationism, and disintegrating institutions, reading COMMENTARY is more than a pleasure. It is a necessity. 

Matthew Continetti

 I first subscribed to COMMENTARY in 1973, as a recovering liberal who had invested four years of my young life in writing speeches for a constellation of McGovernite candidates and office-holders. Living in Berkeley at the time, I relished COMMENTARY as a guilty pleasure, feeling grateful that the magazine arrived each month discreetly disguised in a plain, brown wrapper that concealed its suspiciously neo-conservative content. In the militantly leftist community in which I functioned forty years ago, receiving regular monthly installments of the most degrading porn would have produced far less embarrassment than my growing devotion to the persuasive prose of Norman Podhoretz and Co. Yes, my personal journey from left to right-center involved the usual biographical factors, including the three P’s: paychecks, parenthood, and prayer. Paychecks, because they arrived with shocking subtractions in the form of onerous and incomprehensible taxes; parenthood, because responsibility for a new generation forced a longer-term perspective; and prayer, because my own growing Jewish observance led to the conclusion that my “idealistic” ’60s generation, with all its narcissism and preening self-regard, might not provide life’s ultimate answers after all. Fortunately for me, reading COMMENTARY with near-religious regularity helped to organize my onrushing insights and experience into a more coherent world view. In a dark time in our nation’s history, while surviving (temporarily) in the most unhinged corner of the continent, this incomparable publication persuaded me that I wasn’t alone. 

Michael Medved

 COMMENTARY has become my new go-to website for news analysis because it is measured, substantive, thoughtful, and written for news consumers of all shapes and sizes. When juggling all the issues of the day and thinking them through, I find myself going back to COMMENTARY again and again to see if there’s anything more that can help me add the ingredients needed to finalize an argument. I like the mix of foreign policy and national political news, as well as the discussions about America’s place in the world and what it should be. I’m a print subscriber and a frequent website visitor, and I follow all of the writers on Twitter. Thank you, COMMENTARY, for providing such consistently helpful content. 

Dana Perino

Subscribing to COMMENTARY gives you full access to every article, every issue, every podcast—the latest stories as well as over 70 years of archives, the best that has been thought and written since 1945.
Join the intellectual club, today.
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Facebook Groups Raise Over $100000 to...

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Facebook Groups Raise Over $100000 to Help Gay Men in Chechnya

<a href="http://NBCNews.com" rel="nofollow">NBCNews.com</a> - ‎14 hours ago‎
Two online fundraisers have pulled in more than $100,000 for the LGBTQ humanitarian crisis in Chechnya. One of the fundraisers, titled "Helping Gay Men Flee Chechnya," raised $93,499 in just six days. Another raised more than $20,000 in five days.

Chechnya accused of trying to 'eliminate' gay population before Ramadan

Fox News - ‎14 hours ago‎
A British foreign minister has warned that the Chechen Republic government is planning to "eliminate" its entire gay population by the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. "Human rights groups report that these anti-gay campaigns and killings ...

Gay Concentration Camps: Silence = Death

Huffington Post - ‎8 hours ago‎
I drove to work crying the other morning. It wasn't the stress of being a solo mom of three kids under ten, or dealing with chronic health issues and economic challenges. It wasn't the video of the passenger being dragged off the United flight, or the ...

Russian spox would rather chew off her arm than answer question on Chechnya's gay concentration camps

Death and Taxes - ‎16 hours ago‎
Maria Zakharova, a rep from Russia's foreign affairs ministry, is regretting sitting down with Katie Couric for an interview right about now. Granted, Zakharova's job is to brief the media on Russia's foreign policy, but she practically chewed her own ...
Read the whole story

· ·

My View: Trump compromised by Russian ties | Editorials

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The magazine Foreign Policy asked: “Is Trump Russia’s Useful Idiot, or Has He Been Irreparably Compromised?” There are currently three investigations underway to determine whether he conspired with Putin to tilt the U.S. election in his favor.
As a candidate, Trump denigrated NATO and the EU, and criticized allies such as Germany, while consistently praising Vladimir Putin. Clinton Watts, ex-FBI agent, detailed for the Senate Intelligence Committee how Trump and his campaign used Russian propaganda against his opponents, including the principal claim that the election was rigged.
Sen. Mark Warner of the Senate Intelligence Committee has revealed that Russia hired 1,000 people to create anti-Clinton ‘fake news’ during the election.
CBS News reports that the FBI is investigating whether the Trump campaign helped Russian intelligence carry out cyberattacks on the DNC as far back as March 2016. Sir Richard Dearlove, former chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service, and other U.S. sources have told the Guardian that FBI Director James Comey has “direct and incontrovertible evidence” that Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia. Dearlove has also accused Donald Trump of secretly borrowing from Russia during the financial crisis to avoid bankruptcy — which his tax returns would reveal.
According to The New York Times and the Guardian, Britain, Holland, Germany, Estonia, Poland, Australia and possibly France provided information on secret meetings in Europe between Russian officials and the Trump campaign. “Separately, American intelligence agencies had intercepted communications of Russian officials, some of them within the Kremlin, discussing contacts with Trump associates” (NYT).
The Washington Post reported that the FBI obtained a FISA warrant last summer to monitor former Trump adviser Carter Page, indicating there was probable cause to believe he was a Russian agent.
Michael Flynn’s actions probably also warranted a FISA warrant. He met with several of Russia’s far-right allies in Europe; he also understated payments from the Russian government on his financial disclosure form, according to The Wall Street Journal.
BBC News reports that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had at least 15 bank accounts in Cyprus, a center for Russian money laundering, and bought homes in New York with cash. Flynn, Page, Manafort, Sessions, Stone and other campaign officials had meetings with Russian officials and lied about them.
Others with suspicious links to Russia include Eric Prince, who met secretly with a Russian emissary in Mauritius, and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who met repeatedly with one of Putin’s puppet bankers and convicted spies, Evgeny Buryakov. Kushner failed to report it on his security questionnaire, a possible felony.
USA Today detailed some of the connections between Trump and wealthy former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations. Dozens of wealthy Russians, including some with criminal convictions, have bought condos in Trump properties.
A former assistant U.S. attorney in New York said that the Trump SoHo project “was largely financed by illegally obtained cash from Russia …, including money provided by known international financial criminals and organized crime racketeers.”
As Steven Hall, a former CIA chief of Russian operations, told the Financial Times, “… behind every great Russian fortune there is a great friendship with the Kremlin.”
Karen Dawisha (Putin’s Kleptocracy) and William Browder (Red Notice), among others, have documented the ties between Putin, the FSB, and the Russian mafia.
In response, Trump, whom the Los Angeles Times said “… gives every indication that he is as much the gullible tool of liars as he is the liar in chief,” has attempted to divert and distract, claiming that Obama had wiretapped him, that Susan Rice had revealed classified information, and bombing Syria as diversions.
As Trump tweeted back in 2012, “Now that Obama’s poll numbers are in tailspin — watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate.”
Tellingly, his (putative) secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, admits Donald Trump’s attack on Syria wasn’t intended to do any damage to Assad. In other words, it was a diversion; a president who has told us he believes military intervention happens when poll numbers are in a tailspin has just intervened while his poll numbers were in a tailspin.
As the L.A. Times editorial board wrote: “(Trump) has made himself the stooge, the mark, for every crazy blogger, political quack, racial theorist, foreign leader or nutcase peddling a story that he might repackage to his benefit as a tweet, an appointment, an executive order or a policy.”
There are too many Russia contacts to be coincidental; Trump the Kremlin’s useful fool had to have orchestrated them, and is now irreparably compromised.
Tom Maertens served as National Security Council director for nonproliferation and homeland defense under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and as deputy coordinator for counter-terrorism in the State Department during and after 9/11. He lives in Mankato.
Read the whole story

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Carter Page: Media, 'corrupt Clinton...

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Carter Page: Media, 'corrupt Clinton regime' kept tying me to Trump team

Fox News - ‎Apr 23, 2017‎
International businessman Carter Page blames the mainstream media and the “corrupt Clinton regime” -- not himself -- for repeatedly saying he was an adviser to the Donald Trump presidential team, according to a letter obtained Sunday by Fox News.

Carter Page: 'Dodgy Dossier' Was Part of Obama's 'Domestic Political Intelligence Operation'

PJ Media - ‎Apr 23, 2017‎
Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page appeared on CNN Saturday morning to respond to CNN's exclusive report that Russia tried to use Trump's advisers to infiltrate the campaign. Page was largely dismissive of CNN host Michael Smerconish's ...

Trump aide says he 'NEVER met' Carter Page over 550 days on campaign trail

The Hill - ‎Apr 23, 2017‎
A top White House aide says he never met former Donald Trump · Donald TrumpTrump: 'I don't think anybody' has had 100 days like mine Bill Kristol: Trump praising China's leader 'embarrassing' Trump stands to win big on tax reform, but a trade war with ...

Carter Page: Reports on Trump campaign, Russia are 'false narratives'

CNN - ‎Apr 22, 2017‎
(CNN) A former adviser to Donald Trump's campaign referred to reports that Russia tried to influence the US election as possibly "a political stunt" on Saturday in remarks largely dismissive of questions about the issue. CNN is exclusively reporting ...

'Russia tried to use Trump advisers to influence election'

Hindustan Times - ‎Apr 23, 2017‎
A Russian agent would likely have concealed his or her true role or identity while speaking with Trump's foreign policy aide Carter Page (in picture), who himself has vigorously denied any possible collusion with Moscow.(REUTERS FILE). Russian ...
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Trump, Russia Optimistic About...

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Trump, Russia Optimistic About Improving Relations After First 100 Days

Breitbart News - ‎17 hours ago‎
President Trump said many times on the campaign trail that he hoped to get along with Russia, to deal with challenges such as Islamic terrorism and the conflict in Syria. About 100 days in, it appears the U.S.-Russian relationship has become more tense ...

Rhetoric isn't working -- Trump needs to speak with Putin

CNN - ‎22 hours ago‎
Jill Dougherty is a former CNN foreign affairs correspondent and Moscow bureau chief with expertise in Russia and the former Soviet Union. The opinions in this article belong to the author. (CNN) Murderer ... thug ... monster ... bad guy. These are ...

Commentary: Why Trump should mend ties with Russia

Reuters UK - ‎Apr 28, 2017‎
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attend a news conference following their talks in Moscow, Russia, April 12, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin. By Josh Cohen. During his presidential campaign, Donald ...

Trump and Putin expected to meet in May

Business Day (registration) - ‎Apr 28, 2017‎
Moscow — Russia and the US are preparing for a possible first meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump before the two presidents attend July's Group of 20 summit in Germany, according to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

To move away from the brink of nuclear war

<a href="http://www.MICEtimes.asia" rel="nofollow">www.MICEtimes.asia</a> (press release) - ‎19 hours ago‎
This week U.S. Secretary of state Rex Tillerson (Rex Tillerson), met in Moscow with Minister of foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov — this will be the first official high-level dialogue between the administration of the tramp and Russia since the ...
Read the whole story

· · ·

Facebook gearing up to fight...

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Facebook gearing up to fight political propaganda

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - ‎3 hours ago‎
Facebook security researchers said the company will monitor the efforts of those who try to hurt “civic discourse” on its service. It is also looking to identify fake accounts, and says it will notify people if their accounts have been targeted by ...

Facebook admits 'malicious actors' spread misinformation during the 2016 U.S. election

Recode - ‎16 hours ago‎
It also cites a government report that found Russia played a major role in the presidential race. by Tony Romm and Kurt Wagner Apr 28, 2017, 2:50pm EDT. tweet · share · Linkedin. Almost six months after a U.S. presidential election that was rife with ...

Russia eyed after Facebook says it was used by 'malicious actors' during US presidential election

Fox News - ‎15 hours ago‎
A report released by Facebook this week "does not contradict" the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence's assertion that Russia attempted to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. The Facebook report, released Thursday, describes ...

Bots aren't spreading fake news on Facebook; humans are

Quartz - ‎17 hours ago‎
Facebook published a new paper this week outlining how it's dealing with government-backed attempts to influence politics in other countries, or what it's calling “information operations.” One of its findings refutes the notion that bots are the ...

Facebook, for the first time, acknowledges election manipulation

CBS News - ‎18 hours ago‎
Without saying the words "Russia," "Hillary Clinton," or "Donald Trump," Facebook acknowledged Thursday for the first time what others have been saying for months. In a paper released by its security division, the company said "malicious actors" used ...
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Facebook gearing up to fight...

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Facebook gearing up to fight political propaganda

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - ‎3 hours ago‎
Facebook security researchers said the company will monitor the efforts of those who try to hurt “civic discourse” on its service. It is also looking to identify fake accounts, and says it will notify people if their accounts have been targeted by ...

Facebook admits 'malicious actors' spread misinformation during the 2016 U.S. election

Recode - ‎16 hours ago‎
It also cites a government report that found Russia played a major role in the presidential race. by Tony Romm and Kurt Wagner Apr 28, 2017, 2:50pm EDT. tweet · share · Linkedin. Almost six months after a U.S. presidential election that was rife with ...

Russia eyed after Facebook says it was used by 'malicious actors' during US presidential election

Fox News - ‎15 hours ago‎
A report released by Facebook this week "does not contradict" the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence's assertion that Russia attempted to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. The Facebook report, released Thursday, describes ...

Bots aren't spreading fake news on Facebook; humans are

Quartz - ‎17 hours ago‎
Facebook published a new paper this week outlining how it's dealing with government-backed attempts to influence politics in other countries, or what it's calling “information operations.” One of its findings refutes the notion that bots are the ...

Facebook, for the first time, acknowledges election manipulation

CBS News - ‎18 hours ago‎
Without saying the words "Russia," "Hillary Clinton," or "Donald Trump," Facebook acknowledged Thursday for the first time what others have been saying for mo
Read the whole story

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Macron Denies Access to 2 Russian Media Outlets in French Campaign

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Turkish military says kills 14...

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Turkish military says kills 14 Kurdish militants in northern Iraq

The Star Online - ‎1 hour ago‎
ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's military killed 14 members of the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in air strikes in northern Iraq on Saturday, the military said in a statement. Six militants were killed around the area of Sinat-Haftan and eight in ...

Turkish military convoy moves closer to Syrian Kurds

Daily Mail - ‎20 minutes ago‎
ISTANBUL (AP) - A convoy of Turkish military vehicles has relocated to a base near the Syrian border as tensions with U.S.-backed Kurdish militants escalate. Footage shot Friday night shows armored vehicles and personnel carriers on the road. Private ...

US sends forces to support Kurds in northern Syria

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - ‎2 hours ago‎
BEIRUT -- U.S. armored vehicles are deploying in areas in northern Syria along the tense border with Turkey, a few days after a Turkish airstrike that killed 20 U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters, a Syrian war monitor and Kurdish activists said Friday ...

April 25 airstrikes killed 89 PKK terrorists: Military

Anadolu Agency - ‎1 hour ago‎
In updated figures, the Turkish military Saturday said a total of 89 PKK terrorists had been killed in air raids earlier this week in northern Iraq and northeastern Syria. In April 25 airstrikes against PKK terrorists, meant to prevent the group from ...

US troops monitor situation along Syria-Turkey border

Al-Arabiya - ‎2 hours ago‎
US military vehicles and Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG) drive in the town of Darbasiya next to the Turkish border, Syria April 28, 2017. (Supplied). Reuters Saturday, 29 April 2017. Text size A A A. A commander of the Syrian ...

90 PKK, YPG terrorists killed in cross-border strikes on Sinjar, Karaçok

Daily Sabah - ‎4 hours ago‎
At least 90 PKK and its Syrian wing's armed forces, the People's Protection Units (YPG) terrorists were killed on Saturday in separate Turkish airstrikes against PKK elements based in the Sinjar region of northern Iraq and YPG targets in Karaçok ...

U.S. deeply concerned about Turkey's airstrikes in Syria, Iraq

Normangee Star - ‎7 hours ago‎
“Clashes between the People's Protection Units [YPG] and the Turkish army in Derbassiye continue”, reported Jesper Söder, a Western volunteer with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Turkey views some of the Syrian Kurdish forces assisting ...
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· · ·

French Presidential Front-Runner Denies Russian Media Accreditation

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French presidential front-runner... 

'No choice but to lie or die': Gay men facing death flee Russia's Chechnya

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Several Chechen men are hiding out in Moscow after escaping what they say is a brutal campaign against gay men by authorities in the Muslim region of RussiaSeveral Chechen men are hiding out in Moscow after escaping what they say is a brutal campaign against gay men by authorities in the Muslim region of Russia © AFP Naira DAVLASHYAN
Moscow (AFP) - Ilya looks tired and drawn. After being beaten and tortured by men in military uniform in Russia's Chechnya region, he fled to Moscow but still fears for his life -- because he is gay.
"In Chechnya, I had no choice but to lie or die," says the 20-year-old.
He is now hiding out in a small house on the edge of Moscow with five other Chechen men after they escaped what they say is a brutal campaign against gay men by authorities in the Muslim region of Russia's North Caucasus. 
All refused to give their real names for fear of someone recognising them and tracking them down.
"If any of my relatives realises I'm gay, they won't hesitate a minute before killing me," another of the men, 28-year-old Nortcho, told AFP.
"And if they don't do it, they will get killed themselves for failing to uphold the family honour."
While casual homophobia is common in Russia, the problem is particularly acute in conservative Chechnya, where homosexuality is taboo and seen in many families as a moral failing that should be punished by death.
In late March, the Novaya Gazeta liberal newspaper -- known for critical reports on Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya's iron-fisted ruler for the last decade -- published a shocking report that gay men had been rounded up.
The newspaper reported that the authorities had detained more than 100 gay men and urged their families to kill them to "wash clean their honour." It said at least two had been killed by relatives and a third died after being tortured.
The accusations were taken all the more seriously since the security forces controlled by Kadyrov -- a fierce loyalist of President Vladimir Putin -- have long been accused by rights activists of carrying out kidnappings and beatings of his opponents.
Chechen President Ramzan KadyrovChechen President Ramzan Kadyrov walks before a meeting of the state council at the Kremlin in Moscow, September 18, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Asked to comment on the Novaya Gazeta report, Kadyrov's spokesman claimed that such punitive treatment of gay men in Chechnya was impossible since they "do not exist" in the region.
Kadyrov on Wednesday denied that any homosexuals had been arrested, saying "provocative articles about Chechnya (have) reported so-called arrests.
"It's even embarrassing to talk about it. It's said there have been what are called arrests, murders, (newspapers) have even given the name" of one victim, he said. "But he is alive, in good health and is at home."

'I'm terrified' 

Chechen military Kadyrov Chechnya Soldiers of the Akhmad Kadyrov Special Forces Unit march during the military parade to mark the Victory Day in Grozny, Russia, May 9, 2015. RIA Novosti/REUTERS
The Moscow branch of a Russian NGO called the LGBT Network is helping Chechens to flee the region and receives "three or four requests for help each day," said the branch's leader Olga Baranova. Nearly 20 people at risk have already moved to Moscow, she told AFP.
While Ilya is now more than 1,800 kilometres (1,120 miles) from the Chechen capital of Grozny, he still jumps up every time a car drives close by the house, which is surrounded by a fence.
"By helping me, the Network has handed me a reprieve -- but they'll find me in the end," he says quietly.
In October he was taken into a field and beaten by three men in military uniform. A huge scar runs along the side of his jaw.
"They filmed everything. They told me it would end up on social media unless I paid 200,000 rubles ($3,650). I borrowed the money and paid it," he said, speaking hoarsely.
But after that he had to flee to Moscow anyway. 
"Some soldiers came to see my mother and told her I was gay," he said. "I'm terrified. I haven't been able to sleep since I left."
Another man who refused even to give an alias said he left Chechnya two weeks ago. He said he too has been unable to sleep since, haunted by the fear that his wife and his child will find out he is gay.
In March he was held "in an unofficial prison" for a week, the man said.
"There were other gay men in the cell. Some of them had been beaten up," he recalled. "When I was released, I realised that meant I should leave as swiftly as possible."

Absolute tyranny'

russia gayA demonstrator holds up a picture depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin with make-up, during a protest by the gay community. Cris Toala Olivares/Reuters
Reports of the abuses have drawn international condemnation, as activists have accused the authorities in Russia of turning a blind eye for fear of upsetting Kadyrov in a region where Moscow fought two bloody separatist wars.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Monday she was "disturbed" by the reports.
Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch said that in her view: "It will only take a call from the Kremlin to Kadyrov for the arrests to stop."
Russia's Prosecutor-General's office formally opened an investigation on Monday but Russia's human rights ombudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova told TASS state news agency there had been no reports of such missing people to police, investigators or prosecutors.
Lokshina of Human Rights Watch countered that "imagining people coming forward with information without getting any effective protection, any security guarantee, is just impossible."
"Here we are dealing with LGBT people and they are particularly vulnerable in Chechnya because in addition to fearing the authorities they also have to fear their own relatives," she said.
The Novaya Gazeta reporter Irina Gordiyenko, one of the journalists who broke the story, has received a death threat from Chechnya's chief mufti over her investigation.
Gordiyenko says that Kadyrov rules with "absolute tyranny" with the Kremlin's tacit consent. 
"That's what lies at the heart of the problem: the impunity of the Chechen authorities," she said. 
Read the whole story

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Rights groups: Gays being rounded up...

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Rights groups: Gays being rounded up in Chechnya detention centers

USA TODAY - ‎Apr 20, 2017‎
MOSCOW — For weeks, LGBT rights groups have sounded alarms that gay men are being persecuted in the Russian republic of Chechnya, but they predicted that a formal government investigation into their allegations of detention and torture would find no ...

Why Russia's Persecution Of Its LGBTQ Community Matters

Huffington Post - ‎Apr 19, 2017‎
Russia's domestic human rights abuses contravene the liberal democratic ideals America has championed for a century. 04/19/2017 11:27 am ET | Updated 6 days ago. Associated Press. “The beatings begin as soon as you're brought in. The electric shocks ...

'No choice but to lie or die': Gay men facing death flee Russia's Chechnya

Business Insider - ‎Apr 20, 2017‎
Moscow (AFP) - Ilya looks tired and drawn. After being beaten and tortured by men in military uniform in Russia's Chechnya region, he fled to Moscow but still fears for his life -- because he is gay. "In Chechnya, I had no choice but to lie or die ...

Joint Letter to United Nations Secretary General Re: The Arbitrary Detention, Torture and Murder of Gay Men in ...

Human Rights Watch (press release) - ‎Apr 20, 2017‎
OutRight Action International and Human Rights Watch, both founding members of the UN LGBT Core Group, together with ILGA Europe are writing to you to urgently appeal for your intervention in the appalling situation in Chechnya. As you know, in recent ...

Andy Cohen calls out Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov for torture of gay and bisexual men

Mic - ‎Apr 20, 2017‎
Andy Cohen's late night clubhouse is usually filled with celebrities and party games, but on Wednesday night, the Watch What Happens Live host delivered a much more serious message. Cohen addressed Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov directly about ...
Read the whole story

· ·

'At least SIX prisons holding gay men in Chechen Republic'

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At least six secret prisons are holding gay men in Russia's Chechen Republic, with prisoners tortured until families pay police large bribes, it has been claimed.
Earlier this month it was revealed police in the predominantly Muslim republic rounded up more than 100 men suspected of homosexuality and that at least three of them had been killed.
Reports had initially centred on two jails in the villages of Argun and Tsotsi-Yurt. But Novaya Gazeta, the respected Russian newspaper that made the initial claims, now says there are a further four prisons illegally holding men for their sexual orientation.
At least six secret prisons are holding gay men in Russia's Chechen Republic, with prisoners tortured until families pay police large bribes, it has been claimed. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov (pictured) has denied rounding up and murdering homosexuals in his predominately Muslim republic
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At least six secret prisons are holding gay men in Russia's Chechen Republic, with prisoners tortured until families pay police large bribes, it has been claimed. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov (pictured) has denied rounding up and murdering homosexuals in his predominately Muslim republic
The newspaper also claims that the men, who face torture in jail, are only released once their families offer bribes to police. 
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov last week denied rounding up and murdering homosexuals and insisted one man declared dead was 'in good health and at home'.
But his denial was then dismissed by many gay men forced to flee the country, one of whom told the AFP news agency: 'I had to lie or die.'
Campaigners said gay men are being tortured with electric shocks and beaten to death, or ordered to 'sit on bottles' as punishment. 
Images of people who claim to have been detained at the camps show them with large bruises on their legs, and what appears to be burns on their backside. 
One survivor, known only as Adam, said metal clamps were attached to his fingers and toes before shockwaves were sent through his body, as part of a campaign of torture at an informal detention facility.
Families are believed to be 'shamed' for not snitching on homosexuals, who are publicly humiliated, beaten up and electric shocked in prisons. Pictured: A former military base in the city of Argun, believed to be the location of one of the camps
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Families are believed to be 'shamed' for not snitching on homosexuals, who are publicly humiliated, beaten up and electric shocked in prisons. Pictured: A former military base in the city of Argun, believed to be the location of one of the camps
Adam also told how he was beaten with wooden sticks or metal rods as his torturers shouted abuse at him and demanded to know the names of other gay men. 
Chechnya, which has come under fire from LGBT groups for its institutional homophobia, is run by Kadyrov, a father-of-ten who has been accused of ordering extra-judicial killings. 
It was feared that he is sanctioning the killings of homosexuals after his spokesman after Alvi Karimov denied there were any gays in Chechnya at all.
Karimov added: 'You can't detain and harass someone who doesn't exist in the republic.
'If there were such people in the Chechen republic, law enforcement wouldn't have a problem with them because their relatives would send them to a place of no return.'
One former gay inmate, known only as Adam, said metal clamps were attached to his fingers and toes before shockwaves were sent through his body as part of a campaign of torture at an secret prison in Chechnya. Pictured: Another victim speaking out on TV in Germany
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One former gay inmate, known only as Adam, said metal clamps were attached to his fingers and toes before shockwaves were sent through his body as part of a campaign of torture at an secret prison in Chechnya. Pictured: Another victim speaking out on TV in Germany
Today, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow was concerned about human rights violations but had no reason to believe reports about the persecution of gay men in Chechnya. 
President Vladimir Putin last week met Kadyrov, who dismissed the 'provocative' reports. 
The reports, however, have been taken seriously by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and prominent international organisations, which have urged the Russian government to investigate.
Lavrov told reporters Monday that Russian officials haven't seen any information confirming the reports but added that Moscow is concerned about 'any human rights violations.' 
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Novaya Gazeta: Russia's Chechnya Has...

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Novaya Gazeta: Russia's Chechnya Has at Least Six Secret Prisons for Gays

Coda Story - ‎Apr 26, 2017‎
There are at least six secret prisons in Chechnya used for detaining and torturing men suspected of being gay, according to Russia's Novaya Gazeta, who broke the story of mass arrests, torture and killings of gay men in the Russian republic. Locations ...

5 overlooked stories you should read now

PBS NewsHour - ‎Apr 25, 2017‎
A man walks in front of a replica of Unha-3 rocket displayed at the Sci-Tech Complex in Pyongyang, North Korea. Photo by Damir Sagolj/Reuters. Last week started with a potential nuclear standoff, saw two elections go down to the wire, and ended with ...

Russian reporter who exposed Chechen 'detention and torture of gay men' goes into hiding as allegations widen

The Independent - ‎Apr 26, 2017‎
One of the Russian reporters who exposed the detention and torture of gay men in Chechnya has gone into hiding amid fears of retribution as the scope of alleged abuse widens. Both the Kremlin and Chechen government have dismissed “provocative” ...

Chechnya to 'Eliminate' Entire Gay Population Ahead of Islamic Ramadan

Christian Post - ‎Apr 26, 2017‎
(Photo: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov)Muslim men arrive for Friday prayers at the central mosque in the Chechen capital Grozny April 26, 2013. (Photo: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov)Ramzan Kadyrov, head of Russia's Chechnya, waits before an annual state of the ...

Eastern Europe must break its silence on Russia's anti-gay campaign

Washington Post - ‎Apr 25, 2017‎
Maxim Eristavi is a nonresident research fellow with the Atlantic Council and co-founder of Hromadske International, an independent news outlet, based in Kiev. By now, news of the vicious anti-LGBT campaign in the Russian republic of Chechnya has made ...
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Putin’s Propaganda Machine Targets Europe

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The saboteurs vary, depending on the issue vexing the populist wing of the GOP that day. The list of those undermining this presidency is ballooning: “globalists,” “neocons,” former Obama administration officialsJohn McCain, and, of course, Democrats. It doesn’t appear to have occurred to those nursing a palpable sense of betrayal that alleging a conspiracy of wreckers concedes that Trump’s first 100 days in office were, to say the least, subpar.
The President of the United States is not without agency, and it is patronizing to rob him of it in the attempt to excuse his failures. Yet, Trump fans do have a kernel of a point. The president is being undermined from within, albeit without malicious intent. If Trump’s populist/nationalist fans are looking for a culprit, they need look no further than the nearest mirror. More specifically, they can cast blame for Trump’s predicament on their champion in the West Wing: Steve Bannon.
Regardless of the subjective merits of the various policy proposals that landed with a thud during Trump’s first months in office, those failures are often attributable to the work of the people who make up “The Bannon Wing” in the White House.
An executive order banning travel into the United States from seven majority-Muslim nations, issued just eight days after Trump was inaugurated, almost exploded on the launch pad. It resulted in 24 hours of disastrous press during which American citizens were detained by law enforcement, children and the elderly were harassed at airports, and foreign nationals who had risked their lives helping American soldiers were turned back to war zones. In all this, grassroots Democrats discovered an organizing principle. That executive order, reportedly crafted by Bannon and his erstwhile ally (and former aide to Jeff Sessions), Stephen Miller, was stayed in the courts before the White House dropped it. A revised version of that order hasn’t fared much better and currently resides in legal limbo.
By all accounts, Bannon was no fan of the GOP’s failed first attempt to repeal and replace ObamaCare—he was in good company among conservative Republicans. But he also knew that the failure of this first attempt at a major legislative success would reflect poorly on the administration he served. And so the former Breitbart News chief was dispatched to Capitol Hill to cajole recalcitrant conservatives in the Freedom Caucus into supporting the flawed legislation. “Guys, look: This is not a discussion,” Bannon was quoted as saying by Axios’s Mike Allen. “This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill.” This condescension did not go over well with a group of legislators who are used to being strong-armed by Republicans with more clout than Bannon.
That bill’s failure is surely attributable only to the bill itself. It is, however, an open question as to whether Bannon truly regretted its demise. According to New York Magazine, sources in the White House said Bannon privately undermined the bill, which he allegedly said was “written by the insurance industry.”
“He’s maniacally focused on these trade issues,” Bannon said of Trump in an interview with the New York Times last week. He explained that the Trump White House would soon revive a push to compel American firms to purchase U.S. products and hire U.S. workers. That impulse likely led to the inclusion of a provision in Trump’s executive order approving the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The provision mandates that “all new pipelines, as well as retrofitted, repaired or expanded pipelines” use American steel “to the maximum extent possible.” Trump even told a joint session of Congress that “new American pipelines be made with American steel.” There was just one problem: American firms no longer produce nearly enough of the kind of steel necessary for that kind of project. In retreat, the White House explained that Keystone and pipelines like it are not really “new,” and so the order does not pertain to them.
The nationalist wing of the GOP also stumbled into problem this week when a federal judge blocked yet another presidential executive order, this time targeting so-called “sanctuary cities.” The court ruled that the order, which blocked the disbursement of federal funding unless targeted jurisdictions complied with federal immigration officials, violated the separation of powers. “The Constitution vests the spending powers in Congress, not the President, so the Order cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds,” read Judge William Orrick’s decision. In other words, only Congress can place conditions on the distribution of federal funds.
This executive order and those like it may be re-written to survive judicial scrutiny, or another judge could find that Orrick’s argument lacks merit. In any case, the effort to pursue the nationalist wing’s policy preferences has called into question this White House’s competence. Fortunately for the courts, they’ve been temporarily spared a review of the latest Bannon project: withdrawing from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
On Wednesday, administration officials told reporters that another Bannon-devised executive order withdrawing the U.S. from NAFTA could be revealed as early as next week. Such an order, which would inevitably be subject to an increasingly familiar and uncertain review process in the courts, was immediately met with protests from congressional Republicans and the governments of America’s northern and southern neighbors. Following two calls with the president and prime minister of Mexico and Canada respectively, Trump promised he would only “renegotiate Nafta rather than terminate.”
Was this merely a negotiating tactic? Is Trump communicating to his nationalist supporters that he hasn’t abandoned them entirely? Maybe. But if Trump is truly committed to renegotiating NAFTA, the pro-trade Republicans with which he is also surrounded may soon convince the president that North America’s free-trade zone was already updated amid negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This ready-made “win” on trade might soon prove irresistible.
“Bannon is Trump’s tie to his base,” The Hill’s Kristin Tate wrote. “Trump needs Bannon, the nerve center of his ideological brain trust.” The president doesn’t appear to agree. “I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late,” Trump told the New York Post following Bannon’s ouster from the National Security Council’s Principal’s  Committee. So long as Bannon and the “political movement” Tate says he “embodies” continue to herd this administration into cul-de-sacs from which they are forced to retreat sheepishly, the president’s patience will one day run out. If Trump fans truly cared about the success of this administration, they’d welcome that prospect.
Join us—you'll be in good company. Everyone worth reading is reading (and writing for) COMMENTARY:
 There’s an enormous amount of shouting in the wild west of conservative media. That has its place, and is often a sign of the energy on the right. But amidst the cacophony there’s a special need for serious, considered, and compelling argument, presented in the hope of persuading, not just punishing. This is where COMMENTARY has always shined, perhaps more now than ever before. It aims to tackle the best arguments of its intellectual opponents, not just the easiest targets. It’s a journal I’ve read for nearly 30 years and I can’t think of a time when I’ve valued it more. 

Jonah Goldberg

 There is more commentary in the world than ever before—whether in print, on the air, or on the Internet. But there is still a dearth of serious, informed commentary that reports, analyzes, and argues without ever stooping to name-calling or vitriol. If you further narrow down the segment of the commentariat that looks at the world from a conservative and Jewish perspective—well, you’re left with only one choice. The magazine you are now reading. COMMENTARY has changed over the years—for instance, it now publishes this blog—but one thing that has not changed is its steadfast commitment to providing the best analysis from the most informed writers of the most important ideas in the world, all written in clear prose that appeals to a general audience. There is nothing else like it. Never has been, never will be. 

Max Boot

 In 1975 the Economist said of COMMENTARY: “The world's best magazine?” Take away the question mark and that statement still stands, thirty-eight years later. It's still the magazine America's liberals dread most, and the one America's enemies can't afford to ignore. It's the point of the conservative spear in the never-ending fight against the insanity of the left, whether it's in foreign policy or economic policy, social and cultural issues, or the arts—and no one does a better job standing up for Western culture and America's interests and those of its allies, including Israel. In fact, surviving the next three years—the Obama administration home stretch—and building the foundations for an American resurgence afterward will be impossible without reading COMMENTARY in print and online. 

Arthur Herman

 COMMENTARY is an indispensable read on the Arab Spring, the Afghan war, the future of American conservatism, and all the other crazy stuff out there. But you already knew that. What I really love about it is that it’s a full-service operation, and its back-of-the-book guys—the fellows who write about music, literature, and all the things that make life worth living as the world goes to hell—are the best in the business. There is an observation in a Terry Teachout piece on the wonderful singer Nancy LaMott about “Moon River” that has stayed with me for almost two decades. I fished it out from the back of my mind to impress a gal at a Goldwater Institute reception only the other day, and it worked a treat. So thank you, COMMENTARY! Likewise, my differences with the arts’n’culture crew unsettle me far more than the geopolitical ones: reasonable people can disagree on how large a nuclear arsenal those wacky mullahs should be permitted to own, but I’m still agog at the great Andrew Ferguson’s mystifying praise for the New York Times obituaries page a couple of issues back. That’s COMMENTARY for you—provocative to the end, on matters large and small. In these turbulent and dismaying times, we can all use a huckleberry friend waiting round the bend, in the mailbox each month and on the computer screen every morning. For any journal of opinion, as “Moon River” teaches us, there’s such a lot of world to see. COMMENTARY sees most of it with piercing clarity: it can’t know all the answers, but it asks all the right questions, and with great farsightedness. It deserves your wholehearted support. 

Mark Steyn

 It's notorious, and true, that government officials hardly read anything. Memos, sure; nowadays, emails and tweets as well. But magazines? People barely have time to eat lunch or see their kids, so how can an intellectual monthly affect public affairs? The question is a good one. How did COMMENTARY do it? The answer is that officials, like all citizens following American foreign policy, need a way to understand the world around them. When prevailing theories fail, when conventional wisdom is clearly at variance with what they see before their eyes, the outcome for senators and congressmen and White House officials is what the shrinks call cognitive dissonance. They may say one thing but believe another, or simply be unable to square previous beliefs and policies with the clear effects of U.S. conduct. They've lost the ability to explain the world. And then came COMMENTARY, offering month after month of piercing, bracing analysis—and value judgments of right and wrong, and clear writing about American gains and losses. Here was an insistence on looking reality in the face. Here was plain argument, seeking no quarter intellectually and giving none. And it mattered. It shamed some people, and emboldened others; COMMENTARY demanded that we conform policy to the opportunities and dangers that really faced America. In years of confusion and obfuscation, that striking clarity changed policies, and changed American conduct, because it changed the way we understood the world. 

Elliott Abrams

 For more than 60 years, COMMENTARY has been a go-to source on matters of the greatest importance to our nation and our civilization. Today, its full-throated defense of the United States and freedom is as eloquent as it was a half-century ago, and no less urgent. Issues of the day will change, news cycles come and go, but COMMENTARY remains an indispensable authority in the battle of ideas that help to shape our world. Its continued success is both an indication, and source, of the country’s intellectual health. 

Donald Rumsfeld

 Why does COMMENTARY matter? Since 1945, no other monthly magazine has so consistently published serious, provocative argument and analysis. No other monthly magazine has viewed America and the world through such a wide angle, encompassing economics, politics, society, culture, religion, and diplomacy. No other monthly magazine has published such a celebrated and wide-ranging list of editors and contributors. Cerebral, critical, and committed, the point of view found in its pages is as unique as it is formidable. And in a world of Iranian nukes, rising anti-Semitism, radical Islam, American disarmament, bipartisan neo-isolationism, and disintegrating institutions, reading COMMENTARY is more than a pleasure. It is a necessity. 

Matthew Continetti

 I first subscribed to COMMENTARY in 1973, as a recovering liberal who had invested four years of my young life in writing speeches for a constellation of McGovernite candidates and office-holders. Living in Berkeley at the time, I relished COMMENTARY as a guilty pleasure, feeling grateful that the magazine arrived each month discreetly disguised in a plain, brown wrapper that concealed its suspiciously neo-conservative content. In the militantly leftist community in which I functioned forty years ago, receiving regular monthly installments of the most degrading porn would have produced far less embarrassment than my growing devotion to the persuasive prose of Norman Podhoretz and Co. Yes, my personal journey from left to right-center involved the usual biographical factors, including the three P’s: paychecks, parenthood, and prayer. Paychecks, because they arrived with shocking subtractions in the form of onerous and incomprehensible taxes; parenthood, because responsibility for a new generation forced a longer-term perspective; and prayer, because my own growing Jewish observance led to the conclusion that my “idealistic” ’60s generation, with all its narcissism and preening self-regard, might not provide life’s ultimate answers after all. Fortunately for me, reading COMMENTARY with near-religious regularity helped to organize my onrushing insights and experience into a more coherent world view. In a dark time in our nation’s history, while surviving (temporarily) in the most unhinged corner of the continent, this incomparable publication persuaded me that I wasn’t alone. 

Michael Medved

 COMMENTARY has become my new go-to website for news analysis because it is measured, substantive, thoughtful, and written for news consumers of all shapes and sizes. When juggling all the issues of the day and thinking them through, I find myself going back to COMMENTARY again and again to see if there’s anything more that can help me add the ingredients needed to finalize an argument. I like the mix of foreign policy and national political news, as well as the discussions about America’s place in the world and what it should be. I’m a print subscriber and a frequent website visitor, and I follow all of the writers on Twitter. Thank you, COMMENTARY, for providing such consistently helpful content. 

Dana Perino

Subscribing to COMMENTARY gives you full access to every article, every issue, every podcast—the latest stories as well as over 70 years of archives, the best that has been thought and written since 1945.
Join the intellectual club, today.
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Facebook Groups Raise Over $100000 to...

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Facebook Groups Raise Over $100000 to Help Gay Men in Chechnya

<a href="http://NBCNews.com" rel="nofollow">NBCNews.com</a> - ‎14 hours ago‎
Two online fundraisers have pulled in more than $100,000 for the LGBTQ humanitarian crisis in Chechnya. One of the fundraisers, titled "Helping Gay Men Flee Chechnya," raised $93,499 in just six days. Another raised more than $20,000 in five days.

Chechnya accused of trying to 'eliminate' gay population before Ramadan

Fox News - ‎14 hours ago‎
A British foreign minister has warned that the Chechen Republic government is planning to "eliminate" its entire gay population by the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. "Human rights groups report that these anti-gay campaigns and killings ...

Gay Concentration Camps: Silence = Death

Huffington Post - ‎8 hours ago‎
I drove to work crying the other morning. It wasn't the stress of being a solo mom of three kids under ten, or dealing with chronic health issues and economic challenges. It wasn't the video of the passenger being dragged off the United flight, or the ...

Russian spox would rather chew off her arm than answer question on Chechnya's gay concentration camps

Death and Taxes - ‎16 hours ago‎
Maria Zakharova, a rep from Russia's foreign affairs ministry, is regretting sitting down with Katie Couric for an interview right about now. Granted, Zakharova's job is to brief the media on Russia's foreign policy, but she practically chewed her own ...
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My View: Trump compromised by Russian ties | Editorials

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The magazine Foreign Policy asked: “Is Trump Russia’s Useful Idiot, or Has He Been Irreparably Compromised?” There are currently three investigations underway to determine whether he conspired with Putin to tilt the U.S. election in his favor.
As a candidate, Trump denigrated NATO and the EU, and criticized allies such as Germany, while consistently praising Vladimir Putin. Clinton Watts, ex-FBI agent, detailed for the Senate Intelligence Committee how Trump and his campaign used Russian propaganda against his opponents, including the principal claim that the election was rigged.
Sen. Mark Warner of the Senate Intelligence Committee has revealed that Russia hired 1,000 people to create anti-Clinton ‘fake news’ during the election.
CBS News reports that the FBI is investigating whether the Trump campaign helped Russian intelligence carry out cyberattacks on the DNC as far back as March 2016. Sir Richard Dearlove, former chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service, and other U.S. sources have told the Guardian that FBI Director James Comey has “direct and incontrovertible evidence” that Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia. Dearlove has also accused Donald Trump of secretly borrowing from Russia during the financial crisis to avoid bankruptcy — which his tax returns would reveal.
According to The New York Times and the Guardian, Britain, Holland, Germany, Estonia, Poland, Australia and possibly France provided information on secret meetings in Europe between Russian officials and the Trump campaign. “Separately, American intelligence agencies had intercepted communications of Russian officials, some of them within the Kremlin, discussing contacts with Trump associates” (NYT).
The Washington Post reported that the FBI obtained a FISA warrant last summer to monitor former Trump adviser Carter Page, indicating there was probable cause to believe he was a Russian agent.
Michael Flynn’s actions probably also warranted a FISA warrant. He met with several of Russia’s far-right allies in Europe; he also understated payments from the Russian government on his financial disclosure form, according to The Wall Street Journal.
BBC News reports that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had at least 15 bank accounts in Cyprus, a center for Russian money laundering, and bought homes in New York with cash. Flynn, Page, Manafort, Sessions, Stone and other campaign officials had meetings with Russian officials and lied about them.
Others with suspicious links to Russia include Eric Prince, who met secretly with a Russian emissary in Mauritius, and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who met repeatedly with one of Putin’s puppet bankers and convicted spies, Evgeny Buryakov. Kushner failed to report it on his security questionnaire, a possible felony.
USA Today detailed some of the connections between Trump and wealthy former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations. Dozens of wealthy Russians, including some with criminal convictions, have bought condos in Trump properties.
A former assistant U.S. attorney in New York said that the Trump SoHo project “was largely financed by illegally obtained cash from Russia …, including money provided by known international financial criminals and organized crime racketeers.”
As Steven Hall, a former CIA chief of Russian operations, told the Financial Times, “… behind every great Russian fortune there is a great friendship with the Kremlin.”
Karen Dawisha (Putin’s Kleptocracy) and William Browder (Red Notice), among others, have documented the ties between Putin, the FSB, and the Russian mafia.
In response, Trump, whom the Los Angeles Times said “… gives every indication that he is as much the gullible tool of liars as he is the liar in chief,” has attempted to divert and distract, claiming that Obama had wiretapped him, that Susan Rice had revealed classified information, and bombing Syria as diversions.
As Trump tweeted back in 2012, “Now that Obama’s poll numbers are in tailspin — watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate.”
Tellingly, his (putative) secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, admits Donald Trump’s attack on Syria wasn’t intended to do any damage to Assad. In other words, it was a diversion; a president who has told us he believes military intervention happens when poll numbers are in a tailspin has just intervened while his poll numbers were in a tailspin.
As the L.A. Times editorial board wrote: “(Trump) has made himself the stooge, the mark, for every crazy blogger, political quack, racial theorist, foreign leader or nutcase peddling a story that he might repackage to his benefit as a tweet, an appointment, an executive order or a policy.”
There are too many Russia contacts to be coincidental; Trump the Kremlin’s useful fool had to have orchestrated them, and is now irreparably compromised.
Tom Maertens served as National Security Council director for nonproliferation and homeland defense under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and as deputy coordinator for counter-terrorism in the State Department during and after 9/11. He lives in Mankato.
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Carter Page: Media, 'corrupt Clinton...

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Carter Page: Media, 'corrupt Clinton regime' kept tying me to Trump team

Fox News - ‎Apr 23, 2017‎
International businessman Carter Page blames the mainstream media and the “corrupt Clinton regime” -- not himself -- for repeatedly saying he was an adviser to the Donald Trump presidential team, according to a letter obtained Sunday by Fox News.

Carter Page: 'Dodgy Dossier' Was Part of Obama's 'Domestic Political Intelligence Operation'

PJ Media - ‎Apr 23, 2017‎
Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page appeared on CNN Saturday morning to respond to CNN's exclusive report that Russia tried to use Trump's advisers to infiltrate the campaign. Page was largely dismissive of CNN host Michael Smerconish's ...

Trump aide says he 'NEVER met' Carter Page over 550 days on campaign trail

The Hill - ‎Apr 23, 2017‎
A top White House aide says he never met former Donald Trump · Donald TrumpTrump: 'I don't think anybody' has had 100 days like mine Bill Kristol: Trump praising China's leader 'embarrassing' Trump stands to win big on tax reform, but a trade war with ...

Carter Page: Reports on Trump campaign, Russia are 'false narratives'

CNN - ‎Apr 22, 2017‎
(CNN) A former adviser to Donald Trump's campaign referred to reports that Russia tried to influence the US election as possibly "a political stunt" on Saturday in remarks largely dismissive of questions about the issue. CNN is exclusively reporting ...

'Russia tried to use Trump advisers to influence election'

Hindustan Times - ‎Apr 23, 2017‎
A Russian agent would likely have concealed his or her true role or identity while speaking with Trump's foreign policy aide Carter Page (in picture), who himself has vigorously denied any possible collusion with Moscow.(REUTERS FILE). Russian ...
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Trump, Russia Optimistic About...

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Trump, Russia Optimistic About Improving Relations After First 100 Days

Breitbart News - ‎17 hours ago‎
President Trump said many times on the campaign trail that he hoped to get along with Russia, to deal with challenges such as Islamic terrorism and the conflict in Syria. About 100 days in, it appears the U.S.-Russian relationship has become more tense ...

Rhetoric isn't working -- Trump needs to speak with Putin

CNN - ‎22 hours ago‎
Jill Dougherty is a former CNN foreign affairs correspondent and Moscow bureau chief with expertise in Russia and the former Soviet Union. The opinions in this article belong to the author. (CNN) Murderer ... thug ... monster ... bad guy. These are ...

Commentary: Why Trump should mend ties with Russia

Reuters UK - ‎Apr 28, 2017‎
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attend a news conference following their talks in Moscow, Russia, April 12, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin. By Josh Cohen. During his presidential campaign, Donald ...

Trump and Putin expected to meet in May

Business Day (registration) - ‎Apr 28, 2017‎
Moscow — Russia and the US are preparing for a possible first meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump before the two presidents attend July's Group of 20 summit in Germany, according to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

To move away from the brink of nuclear war

<a href="http://www.MICEtimes.asia" rel="nofollow">www.MICEtimes.asia</a> (press release) - ‎19 hours ago‎
This week U.S. Secretary of state Rex Tillerson (Rex Tillerson), met in Moscow with Minister of foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov — this will be the first official high-level dialogue between the administration of the tramp and Russia since the ...