Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the US - New York Times

The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the US - New York Times

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Chron.com

The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the US
New York Times
A filing cabinet broken into in 1972 as part of the Watergate burglary sits beside a computer server that Russian hackers breached during the 2016 presidential campaign at the Democratic National Committee's headquarters in Washington. Credit Justin T.
How A Single Typo Led To The Unraveling Of Hillary Clinton's CampaignHuffington Post
Why Some People Think a Typo Cost Clinton the ElectionThe Atlantic
A simple two-letter typo might have cost Hillary Clinton the entire electionTheBlaze.com
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Dow Flirts With 20000 as Stocks Rise, Gold Falls Ahead of Fed - Bloomberg

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Bloomberg

Dow Flirts With 20000 as Stocks Rise, Gold Falls Ahead of Fed
Bloomberg
Global stocks advanced, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average surging toward 20,000 on speculation that the Federal Reserve's expected rate increase is a signal of confidence that the world's largest economy is strengthening. The dollar and ...
Dow closes at record high but doesn't top 20000 yetUSA TODAY
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This GOP-Backed Law Forbids Donald Trump From Using Presidency For Personal Profit - Huffington Post

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Huffington Post

This GOP-Backed Law Forbids Donald Trump From Using Presidency For Personal Profit
Huffington Post
President-elect Donald Trump's business empire represents an unprecedented source of conflicts of interest between his presidential duties and the hundreds of private companies he controls, which he has said he will not sell and will leave to his sons ...
Government ethics office not involved in Trump's business planThe Hill (blog)
Not so funny now for DemocratsFox News
Donald Trump's Wealthy Cabinet Picks to Undergo Financial Scrutiny He Didn't FaceNew York Times
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all 111 news articles »

Trump taps Montana congressman Ryan Zinke as interior secretary - Washington Post

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Washington Post

Trump taps Montana congressman Ryan Zinke as interior secretary
Washington Post
President-elect Trump has tapped GOP Rep. Ryan Zinke, who has represented Montana's at-large congressional seat for one term, to serve as secretary of the Department of the Interior, according to an individual with first-hand knowledge of the decision.
Montana congressman is now the favorite to be Interior secretaryLos Angeles Times
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Trump taps Montana congressman for Interior secretaryThe Hill
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Rex Tillerson's 3 am phone call - Politico

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Politico

Rex Tillerson's 3 am phone call
Politico
It was nearly 3 o'clock in the morning when the phone rang in Sana'a, the capital of Yemen, an impoverished, war-torn country on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Hours earlier, Rex Tillerson, then a young, up-and-coming country manager at Exxon, had ...
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Duterte keeps admitting to killing people. His supporters keep shrugging it off. - Washington Post

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Washington Post

Duterte keeps admitting to killing people. His supporters keep shrugging it off.
Washington Post
It should have been a shocking admission. On Monday, Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, bragged about killing people. He said that when he was a city mayor, he used to hunt suspects on his motorcycle, shooting people on the spot. The goal ...
Philippines president claims he killed criminals himself, popped pillsFox News
Philippines' Duterte 'in the pink of health', ministers sayReuters
Philippine President Duterte Admitted to Personally Killing PeopleForeign Policy (blog)

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Priebus floats shakeup for White House press corps - The Hill

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Politico

Priebus floats shakeup for White House press corps
The Hill
Priebus raised the possibility of changing the format of the daily press briefing and rearranging the seating chart inside the James Brady Press Briefing Room. “The traditions, while some of them are great, I think it's time to revisit a lot of these ...
Trump chief of staff Priebus: White House press briefings could be changedNBC2 News
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Moscow has the world's attention. For Putin, that's a win. - Washington Post

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Washington Post

Moscow has the world's attention. For Putin, that's a win.
Washington Post
MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin is winning. For now. The Russian leader is winning because the post-Cold War order he has railed against has been thrown into chaos, and the Kremlin's fingerprints are widely seen to be all over it. A year ago, Russia ...
US Officials: Putin Personally Involved in US Election HackNBCNews.com
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IT HAPPENED AGAIN: Yahoo says a billion user accounts were stolen in possibly the biggest hack of all time - Business Insider

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Business Insider

IT HAPPENED AGAIN: Yahoo says a billion user accounts were stolen in possibly the biggest hack of all time
Business Insider
Yahoo has announced that "more than one billion user accounts" may have been stolen by hackers during an attack that took place in August 2013, according to a press release. This is a separate hack than the one that Yahoo announced back in September, ...
Yahoo Discloses New Breach of 1 Billion User AccountsWall Street Journal
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Yahoo says one billion accounts exposed in newly discovered security breach

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(Reuters) - Yahoo Inc warned on Wednesday that it had uncovered yet another massive cyber attack, saying data from more than 1 billion user accounts was compromised in August 2013, making it the largest breach in history.
  

Rebel officials say Aleppo evacuation plan back on track

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ALEPPO, Syria/BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian opposition groups said an evacuation of rebel-held areas of Aleppo was back on track and expected to begin early on Thursday, but uncertainty persisted as a media outlet run by Lebanon's Hezbollah said truce talks faced "big complications".
  

Thousands of airline pilots flying with suicidal thoughts - Harvard 

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Loath to Meddle in Election, Obama Delayed Blaming Russia for D.N.C. Hack 

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The administration was concerned that any statement by President Obama would be viewed as politicizing intelligence, the White House said.

There He Is, Mr. Cabinet Secretary

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Call it cabinet selection as beauty pageant. As President-elect Donald J. Trump assembles his cabinet and prepares to govern, he is drawing on an underestimated asset: showmanship honed over years of television pageantry.
At Trump Tower, the contestants parade through the lobby filled with journalists in a virtual swimsuit competition, their candidacy more public than that of previous cabinet nominees. They stand before the judge, talking points at the ready in their version of the earnest speeches beauty queens give about their special talents and hopes for a better world. These are all rituals Mr. Trump knew well from his ownership of the Miss Universe beauty pageant from 1996 until he sold it last year.
Past presidents-elect usually interviewed but one finalist, winnowed by their transition staff. But Mr. Trump is shrewdly milking this process for maximum drama, fulfilling the entertainment quotient that sells so well to his voters. Who gets a 10? Will he or she score well enough, and what kind of experience gets a high score, anyway? Mr. Trump’s long flirtation with Mitt Romney as secretary of state, and his ultimate rejection, also sends a message about power, with a dose of retribution satisfying to Trump loyalists who resented Mr. Romney’s denunciations of their man.
The parallels between politics and beauty pageants are legion, and a prelude to the next installment of the Trump show. “Beauty pageants lay bare what we do not want to recognize matters in our own society,” said Hilary Levey Friedman, an assistant visiting professor of sociology at Brown University. Appearance matters. Packaging matters. As Ronald Reagan also demonstrated, and Mr. Trump has shown in his transition by tweet and rally, simple, visceral messages work. People remember them long after the wonky details of policy have faded.
Presidents have always appealed directly to the public, bypassing mediators such as the press. President Obama tried to do so with his @Potus Twitter account and appearances on “The Daily Show” and “Between Two Ferns.” But Mr. Trump has shown a mastery of the medium like few before him.
He understands what showmen have long known: Sex sells. So does his nominee for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, with his suggestive commercials for Carl’s Jr. featuring bikini-clad women dangling pieces of bacon from their mouths and biting into huge hamburgers.
This Mr. Trump has in common with Silvio Berlusconi, the other billionaire with a television background who alternately appealed to and appalled Italy with his boasts of sexual prowess and disdain for political protocol. Mr. Berlusconi revolutionized Italian television and made a fortune by ushering in the era of “velinas,” scantily clad women as adornments to virtually any programming.
From his first venture, a striptease game show, he applied the formula even to serious political talk shows, said Alexander Stille, the author of “The Sack of Rome,” about Mr. Berlusconi’s reign. “You’d see a woman who was not even going to be asked any questions, with very long legs and a very short skirt, and the camera is giving you the best view it can offer you of her décolletage.”
Like Mr. Trump, Mr. Berlusconi was speaking over the heads of the chattering classes, cementing his appeal with a different audience. Mr. Stille remembered an episode when Mr. Berlusconi, serving a rotation as European Union president, suggested that the assembled leaders talk about soccer and women to break the ice over stalled negotiations on a draft constitution. He turned to Gerhard Schröder, then Germany’s chancellor, who was on his fourth marriage, and asked him to start since he knew so much about women. Conversation froze.
But Mr. Stille said, “I thought, what are the two most popular subjects of conversation in your average Italian bar? Soccer and women. I realized I’m not his intended audience.”
Indeed, many of those who participate in and watch beauty pageants come from small-town, conservative sections of the United States, Professor Friedman said — a demographic that voted decisively for Mr. Trump. Analyses of viewer data for the Miss Universe and “Apprentice” shows found that the audiences were typically larger at two ends of the economic spectrum — those who earned $40,000 a year or less, or those who earn more than $100,000. Exit polls suggested that many working-class voters preferred Mr. Trump, even as he also drew support from higher earners.
People have always loved spectacle. Mr. Trump knows how to deliver, doling out announcements like the Carrier deal or broadsides against the “Hamilton” cast’s treatment of his vice president, perfectly pitched to resentments of mockery by the cultural elite. Beauty pageants have come in for their share of disdain, too, shunned by the same elite as an outmoded celebration of body over brains.
But Miss America, more than Mr. Trump’s Miss Universe shows, has been rebranding for years, selling the pageants as empowering, not demeaning. It highlights skills contestants learn that some have turned to a career in politics, such as public speaking, presiding over ceremonies or endorsing worthy community programs. Sarah Palin competed in the Miss Alaska pageant. And Jennifer Granholm, former governor of Michigan, was a former Miss San Carlos (California).
Whether you buy the empowerment argument or not, Mr. Trump has put all he learned about staging pageantry to good use. For the moment, it seems, it’s working.
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Putin Is Waging Information Warfare. Here’s How to Fight Back.

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PRAGUE — Welcome to 21st-century conflict, more Machiavellian than military, where hacks, leaks and fake news are taking the place of planes, bombs and missiles. The Russian interference in the United States presidential election is just a taste of more to come.
How can countries protect themselves from such methods? As with nuclear weapons, deterrence is better than confrontation. The United States and its allies in the West need to find a way to discourage Russia, the leading practitioner of this kind of political warfare, from striking first.
With nuclear weapons, deterrence relies on demonstrating the possession of similar capabilities — and the will to use them. This won’t work with political warfare.
It is not as though the United States hasn’t dabbled in destabilization and disinformation campaigns. But these tactics are less likely to work in Russia, where the news media is mostly state-controlled, the security apparatus quickly stamps out political threats, and citizens have few illusions about their leaders. (For example, when the Panama Papers revealed that President Vladimir V. Putin’s cronies had secret bank accounts, most Russians simply shrugged, unsurprised.) All that such efforts would do is show Russians that Mr. Putin is right to say the West is no better than him.
What Russia’s president fears is failure. His macho political persona relies on the conceit that he never gets things wrong, and that he can, with the help of hackers, special forces or brutal allies, outmaneuver the West and consequently regain Russia’s status as a global power.
This is why the United States and its allies should pursue a strategy of deterrence by denial. Mr. Putin shouldn’t fear retaliation for his information warfare — he should fear that he will fail.
There are several ways to go about this. First, United States institutions need better cybersecurity defenses. Political parties and major newspapers are now targets just as much as the power grid and the Pentagon are. The government has to help provide security when it can — but people have a duty to be more vigilant and recognize that their cybersecurity is about protecting the country, not just their own email accounts. The leaked emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John D. Podesta, revealed how easily hackers fooled intelligent political operatives with phishing attacks.
Instead of trying to combat each leak directly, the United States government should teach the public to tell when they are being manipulated. Via schools and nongovernmental organizations and public service campaigns, Americans should be taught the basic skills necessary to be savvy media consumers, from how to fact-check news articles to how pictures can lie.
Deterrence can also take the form of limiting the Russians’ ability to buy media muscle covertly. Global finance is still gangsters and the spooks’ best friend, allowing them to secretly move and spend money. By joining the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s latest and most stringent Common Reporting Standards agreement for sharing financial information, for example, and by putting pressure on American states with notoriously tough secrecy laws, Washington would make it harder for not just corrupt Russians officials but also Moscow’s security apparatus to spend money at will in America.
But the United States also needs to declare in advance, and with evident resolve, the kinds of actions it would take in response to certain political attacks. Russia has been taking advantage of the weaknesses and freedoms of the West, so the West should similarly strike back against Russia’s vulnerabilities.
For example, punitive measures like sanctions can be a very powerful weapon against the opportunist kleptocrats on whom Mr. Putin relies for support. Media owners whose networks spread disinformation, members of Parliament who cultivate extremists, and oligarchs who allow themselves to be used as Kremlin front men should all be fair game. Treating them like members of an organized crime syndicate would allow Washington to freeze not only their assets, but also those of their families, and bar them from entry.
The West also needs to stand together against the Kremlin’s divide-and-rule tactics. NATO members are committed by treaty to defending one another from military attacks, but there aren’t similar provisions for cyberattacks or information warfare. Many smaller countries hesitate to play their part in fighting Russian espionage and subversion — whether expelling spies or closing front organizations — because they fear Russia’s inevitable retaliation. The United States needs to promise its allies it will support them.
Finally, Mr. Putin’s own vanity could be turned into a weapon against him. Every time he overreaches, the American government should point it out. Every time he fails, we need to say so loudly and clearly. We should tell jokes about him. He can rewrite the record in Russia, but the West does not have to contribute to his mythmaking — and we should stop building him up by portraying him as a virtual supervillain.
All of this requires a new mind-set. It means accepting that Russia has chosen to be at war with us — albeit a special and limited war. Russia needs to be treated as a political combatant.
It also means remembering how much stronger the United States is than Russia, economically, militarily, diplomatically and even politically. Mr. Putin is a geopolitical guerrilla who has adopted a strategy he hopes can play to his own strengths and circumvent the West’s. Now the West needs to demonstrate that it has a strategy to combat his adventurism.
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· · ·

Donald Trump Taps Another Vladimir Putin Fanboy, Ryan Zinke, for Cabinet Post

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I spent most of the morning in the Apple store getting my electric Apple phone repaired, so we're a little late to our now daily summary of the activities down at Camp Runamuck. But it seems that, prior to his trip out to West Allis, Wisconsin, El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago met not only with the newly discharged Kanye West, but also with two retired football players, Ray Lewis and Jim Brown, both of whom have had run-ins with the law.
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"Two great guys!" the president-elect tweeted. So that happened.
So then the president-elect went out to Wisconsin and made both Paul Ryan and Scott Walker put on an entertaining puppet show in front of an appreciative crowd. From The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
President-elect Trump praised Ryan during their first joint appearance. "He's like a fine wine," President-elect Trump said of Ryan at his West Allis, Wisconsin rally. "Every day that goes by, I get to appreciate his genius more and more." Ryan has had an at-times tumultuous relationship with President-elect Trump during the 2016 election. Two previous times the men were set to campaign together were scuttled, including one in the wake of the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape where President-elect Trump described sexually assaulting women. In the wake of the tape, Ryan told House Republicans in October that he would no longer defend the nominee and would devote the remainder of the campaign season to helping Republicans in down ballot races. "It was before I had my driver's license the last time Wisconsin went Republican. This is amazing," Ryan said Tuesday in West Allis. "I want to thank Donald Trump. I want to thank Mike Pence."
Trump was preceded to the podium by, among other people, the deranged Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee County, who has not had someone die of thirst in his county jail in a couple of months, nor has a newborn infant expired on a cell floor in almost as long. Clarke did not disappoint, per the Journal-Sentinel:
During his speech, Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. mocked reports of Russian interference in the presidential election, calling it "the Russian conspiracy," and said the United States intelligence should instead investigate George Soros and liberal threats against conservatives.
Oh, OK. Wisconsin has turned into a real political chronic ward.
Meanwhile, back in Manhattan, the Team of Rascals was filling out nicely. The prospective Secretary of the Interior is a Congressman from Montana named Ryan Zinke. He is what will pass for a "moderate" on the Trump environmental team, since he believes in exploiting the public lands rather than selling them off wholesale. The essential Montana Cowgirl blog has been tracking Zinke for a while. It pointed out that Zinke, a former SEAL, may have inflated his military derring-do. It also points us to an old story in The Washington Times.
You may recall that, a while back, American conservatives developed an ensemble crush on Vladimir Putin, who rode horses bareback. (Rrrrrowrrrrr!). The president-elect was quite loose with unflattering comparisons between the incumbent president and the Russian autocrat. Zinke, who'd clambered onboard the Trump Train early in the game, agreed, and nobody was made quite as tingly by the Muscovite muscleman as was Congressman Zinke. From The Washington Times:
"There is no doubt that for the Russian people Vladimir Putin is a more effective leader than our president is for the American people," said Rep. Ryan Zinke, Montana Republican and the first Navy SEAL to serve in the House of Representatives. Mr. Zinke said that was how he interpreted Mr. Trump's remarks, which have been sharply criticized by Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton and her allies. The former SEAL Team Six team leader cited Mr. Putin's successes annexing Crimea, spreading Russian influence in Ukraine and planting the Russian flag at the North Pole, claiming sovereignty over a large portion of the Arctic Ocean. [Emphasis mine] On the other hand, Mr. Zinke said, America's president sent $1.7 billion in cash to Iran, the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism.
No mention of Syria in there among Putin's foreign policy triumphs. Must've been an oversight.
Nonetheless, Secretary Zinke is going to be another Putin fanboy in the executive branch. Some of the leftier-than-thou folks who keep calling me a McCarthyite will have to tell me how many of these people have to get hired before I stop believing in coincidence. And then there's Michael Flynn, who apparently takes national security material to swap meets and tries to get a load of magic beans for his trouble.
What fresh hell awaits us on Thursday, only god or Kanye can tell.
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· · · ·

The perfect weapon: How Russian cyberpower invaded the US | The Berkshire Eagle

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By Eric Lipton, David E. Sanger and Scott Shane, 2016 New York Times 
 WASHINGTON — When Special Agent Adrian Hawkins of the FBI called the Democratic National Committee in September 2015 to pass along some troubling news about its computer network, he was transferred, naturally, to the help desk.
His message was brief, if alarming. At least one computer system belonging to the DNC had been compromised by hackers federal investigators had named "the Dukes," a cyberespionage team linked to the Russian government.
The FBI knew it well: The bureau had spent the last few years trying to kick the Dukes out of the unclassified email systems of the White House, the State Department and even the Joint Chiefs of Staff, one of the government's best-protected networks.
Yared Tamene, the tech-support contractor at the DNC who fielded the call, was no expert in cyberattacks. His first moves were to check Google for "the Dukes" and conduct a cursory search of the DNC computer system logs to look for hints of such a cyberintrusion. By his own account, he did not look too hard even after Hawkins called back repeatedly over the next several weeks — in part because he wasn't certain the caller was a real FBI agent and not an impostor.
"I had no way of differentiating the call I just received from a prank call," Tamene wrote in an internal memo, obtained by The New York Times, that detailed his contact with the FBI.
It was the cryptic first sign of a cyberespionage and information-warfare campaign devised to disrupt the 2016 presidential election, the first such attempt by a foreign power in American history. What started as an information-gathering operation, intelligence officials believe, ultimately morphed into an effort to harm one candidate, Hillary Clinton, and tip the election to her opponent, Donald Trump.
Like another famous American election scandal, it started with a break-in at the DNC. The first time, 44 years ago at the committee's old offices in the Watergate complex, the burglars planted listening devices and jimmied a filing cabinet. This time, the burglary was conducted from afar, directed by the Kremlin, with spear-phishing emails and zeros and ones.
An examination by The Times of the Russian operation — based on interviews with dozens of players targeted in the attack, intelligence officials who investigated it and Obama administration officials who deliberated over the best response — reveals a series of missed signals, slow responses and a continuing underestimation of the seriousness of the cyberattack.
The DNC's fumbling encounter with the FBI meant the best chance to halt the Russian intrusion was lost. The failure to grasp the scope of the attacks undercut efforts to minimize their impact. And the White House's reluctance to respond forcefully meant the Russians have not paid a heavy price for their actions, a decision that could prove critical in deterring future cyberattacks.
The low-key approach of the FBI meant that Russian hackers could roam freely through the committee's network for nearly seven months before top DNC officials were alerted to the attack and hired cyberexperts to protect their systems. In the meantime, the hackers moved on to targets outside the DNC, including Clinton's campaign chairman, John D. Podesta, whose private email account was hacked months later.
Even Podesta, a savvy Washington insider who had written a 2014 report on cyberprivacy for President Barack Obama, did not truly understand the gravity of the hacking.
By last summer, Democrats watched in helpless fury as their private emails and confidential documents appeared online day after day — procured by Russian intelligence agents, posted on WikiLeaks and other websites, then eagerly reported on by the American media, including The Times. Trump gleefully cited many of the purloined emails on the campaign trail.
The fallout included the resignation of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the chairwoman of the DNC, and most of her top party aides. Leading Democrats were sidelined at the height of the campaign, silenced by revelations of embarrassing emails or consumed by the scramble to deal with the hacking. Though little-noticed by the public, confidential documents taken by the Russian hackers from the DNC's sister organization, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, turned up in congressional races in a dozen states, tainting some of them with accusations of scandal.
In recent days, a skeptical president-elect, the nation's intelligence agencies and the two major parties have become embroiled in an extraordinary public dispute over what evidence exists that President Vladimir Putin of Russia moved beyond mere espionage to deliberately try to subvert American democracy and pick the winner of the presidential election.
Many of Clinton's closest aides believe that the Russian assault had a profound effect on the election, while conceding that other factors — from Clinton's weaknesses as a candidate, to her private email server, to the public statements of FBI Director James A. Comey about her handling of classified information — were also important.
While there's no way to be certain of the ultimate effect of the hack, this much is clear: A low-cost, high-impact weapon that Russia had test-fired in elections from Ukraine to Europe was trained on the United States, with devastating effectiveness. For Russia, with an enfeebled economy and a nuclear arsenal it cannot use short of all-out war, cyberpower proved the perfect weapon: cheap, hard to see coming, hard to trace.
"There shouldn't be any doubt in anybody's mind," Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency and commander of U.S Cyber Command, said at a postelection conference. "This was not something that was done casually, this was not something that was done by chance, this was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily," he said. "This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect."
For the people whose emails were stolen, this new form of political sabotage has left a trail of shock and professional damage. Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress and a key Clinton supporter, recalls walking into the busy Clinton transition offices, humiliated to see her face on television screens as pundits discussed a leaked email in which she had called Clinton's instincts "suboptimal."
"It was just a sucker punch to the gut every day," Tanden said. "It was the worst professional experience of my life."
The United States, too, has carried out cyberattacks, and in decades past the CIA tried to subvert foreign elections. But the Russian attack is increasingly understood across the political spectrum as an ominous historic landmark — with one notable exception: Trump has rejected the findings of the intelligence agencies he will soon oversee as "ridiculous," insisting that the hacker may be American, or Chinese, but that "they have no idea."
Trump cited the reported disagreements between the agencies about whether Putin intended to help elect him. On Tuesday, a Russian government spokesman echoed Trump's scorn.
"This tale of `hacks' resembles a banal brawl between American security officials over spheres of influence," Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, wrote on Facebook.
Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder and editor, has resisted the conclusion that his site became a pass-through for Russian hackers working for Putin's government or that he was deliberately trying to undermine Clinton's candidacy. But the evidence on both counts appears compelling.
Over the weekend, four prominent senators, two Republicans and two Democrats, joined forces to pledge an investigation while pointedly ignoring Trump's skeptical claims.
"Democrats and Republicans must work together, and across the jurisdictional lines of the Congress, to examine these recent incidents thoroughly and devise comprehensive solutions to deter and defend against further cyberattacks," said Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Chuck Schumer and Jack Reed.
"This cannot become a partisan issue," they said. "The stakes are too high for our country."
As the year draws to a close, it now seems possible that there will be multiple investigations of the Russian hacking — the intelligence review Obama has ordered completed by Jan. 20, the day he leaves office, and one or more congressional inquiries. They will wrestle with, among other things, Putin's motive.
Did he seek to mar the brand of American democracy, to forestall anti-Russian activism for both Russians and their neighbors? Or to weaken the next American president, since presumably Putin had no reason to doubt U.S. forecasts that Clinton would win easily? Or was it, as the CIA concluded last month, a deliberate attempt to elect Trump?
In fact, the Russian hack-and-dox scheme accomplished all three goals.
What seems clear is that Russian hacking, given its success, is not going to stop. Two weeks ago, the German intelligence chief, Bruno Kahl, warned that Russia might target elections in Germany next year. "The perpetrators have an interest to delegitimize the democratic process as such," Kahl said. Now, he added, "Europe is in the focus of these attempts of disturbance, and Germany to a particularly great extent."
But Russia's cybertsars have by no means forgotten the American target. On the day after the presidential election, the cybersecurity company Volexity reported five new waves of phishing emails, evidently from Cozy Bear — the nickname for one of the two Russian hacking groups the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike found at work inside the DNC network — aimed at think tanks and nonprofits in the United States.
One of them purported to be from Harvard University, attaching a fake paper. Its title: "Why American Elections Are Flawed."
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Democrats say agency told them Trump must give up Washington hotel

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Study Finds One in Six Americans on Psychiatric Drugs

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A new analysis published on Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine reveals that approximately one in six adults in the United States is taking at least one psychiatric drug, most commonly an antidepressant or antianxiety drug. The findings underscore the legal drug epidemic plaguing this country as Americans have become increasingly dependent on pharmaceuticals.

Washington Free Beacon: White House: Trump Knew About Russian Interference in Election, Encouraged It 

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White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on Wednesday that President-elect Donald Trump not only knew about Russia interfering in the election but actively encouraged it.
“There’s ample evidence that was known long before the election, and in most cases, long before October about the Trump campaign and Russia,” Earnest said at the White House daily press briefing.
He continued by saying that Trump encouraged and called on Russia to hack his former opponent, Hillary Clinton.
“Everything from the Republican nominee himself calling on Russia to hack his opponent,” Earnest said. “It might be an indication that he was obviously aware and concluded, based on whatever facts or sources he was–he had available to him, that Russia was involved and their involvement was having a negative impact on his opponent’s campaign.”
Earnest took his comments a step further and said that Trump chose a campaign chairman in Paul Manafort who had strong connections to the Russian government.
“That’s why he was encouraging them to keep doing it. You had the Republican nominee referred to the president of Russia as a ‘strong leader,'” Earnest said. “The Republican nominee chose a campaign chair that had extensive, lucrative, personal, financial ties to the Kremlin and it was obvious to those who were covering the race that the hack and leak strategy that had been operationalized was not being equally applied to the two parties and to the two campaigns. There is one side that was bearing the brunt of that strategy and another side that was clearly benefiting from it.”
Earnest ended by saying that despite all the information he just listed, it did not change the way how the news was reported in favor of Trump.
“Now, I know there’s a lot of reporting that there may be some disagreement in the intelligence community about where or not that was the intent,” Earnest said. “That’s a question that they should ask and a question they may attempt to answer, but there certainly was no doubt about the effect. And again, you didn’t–it didn’t require a security clearance or a consensus high-confidence intelligence assessment to understand, and in spite of that, that didn’t change the way in which this information was reported on either.”


 Washington Free Beacon
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Huma vs. the “Night Stalkers”

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Huma vs. the “Night Stalkers”

Vanity Fair - ‎7 hours ago‎
“Maybe I'm just pissed off, but I really don't give a shit about what happens to Huma to be honest with you,” one close adviser to Hillary Clinton told me recently. He was irked, in particular, at Abedin's seemingly superfluous breach of decorum during ...

Hillary to celebrate dismal failure with ritzy party for rich donors — paid for by campaign funds

Hot Air - ‎1 hour ago‎
An essential companion piece to the other big Hillary story this morning, detailing just how inept her mega-bucks campaign was when it counted. The fact that she's throwing a party for her biggest contributors tomorrow to toast to her squandering their ...

Clinton's inner circle is now blaming Huma Abedin for the election

The Week Magazine - ‎3 hours ago‎
Huma Abedin has found herself at the center of a blame game over who lost Hillary Clinton the election, Vanity Fair reports. "[Abedin] was enjoying the red carpet and enjoying the photo spreads much too much in my opinion," one campaign insider reflected.

The long knives come out for Huma

American Thinker (blog) - ‎3 hours ago‎
Oh boy! We have a leading indicator that infighting, mutual recriminations, and media leaks finally are breaking out among members of Team Hillary, as responsibility for losing the election is being dodged. All the help from John Brennan and the media ...

The Claws Come Out! Hillary Staffers Rip Huma In Shocking Profile

Daily Caller - ‎20 minutes ago‎
Hillary Clinton insiders have turned their backs on Huma Abedin after a devastating election loss. Huma Abedin. (Photo: Getty Images). In a shocking new profile published in “Vanity Fair” Wednesday, former advisers ripped into one of Clinton's closest ...

Hillary Clinton Aide: 'I Really Don't Give a Shit About What Happens to Huma'

Heat Street - ‎47 minutes ago‎
Hillary Clinton's political career is probably over, and some people are wondering what will become of her most trusted body woman, Huma Abdein. Huma, the estranged wife of Anthony Weiner, a notorious dick-pic fiend who recently received treatment for ...
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How Trump Can Avoid the Ethical Tar Pit

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Over the years, Judicial Watch has called out many White House conflicts of interest. We fought in court against President Bill Clinton’s taking money to pay his legal bills through a legal-defense fund. During the George W. Bush administration, we questioned the propriety of his father, President George H.W. Bush, working for Carlyle Group, an investment company that was, in effect, a major defense contractor. We also investigated and sued over the connections between another defense contractor, Halliburton, and Vice President Dick Cheney, the company’s former C.E.O. We highlighted in 2014 how Bill Clinton was getting unusually large six-figure speaking fees from foreign governments while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.
Soon, Donald J. Trump could face some very serious conflict of interest problems of his own. He acknowledged as much recently when he tweeted out plans for a “major news conference” on Thursday, since postponed, to explain how he intended to leave behind his “great business in total to fully focus on running the country.”
In a tweet on Monday, he promised without elaborating that “no new deals will be done” by his business while he is president. This sounds interesting. Americans should expect that the new president will take reasonable steps to separate his public office from his personal business.
But it would be unfair to insist that Mr. Trump destroy his business to become president. This would create a dangerous precedent that would, in effect, deter those who had succeeded in their private lives from bringing their substantial skills to the public arena.
Mr. Trump said recently that he intended to allow his family to take the helm after he assumes office. “I’ve built a very great company and it’s a big company and it’s all over the world,” Mr. Trump said, adding, “I don’t care about my company. It doesn’t matter. My kids run it.” But of course it does matter; otherwise, he would liquidate his businesses, put the proceeds in a blind trust, send the kids out to find new jobs, and be done with the issue.
Given the potential for conflicts, it makes sense for the American people to demand assurances that the public interest won’t be harmed by the continued operation of Trump Inc. So, what to do?
First, let’s not pretend that the Trump children will not be conflicted in running the company for their father. That is why Mr. Trump should formalize his complete separation from his company and stop working on any aspect of his business. He should draw no pay. And, difficult as it may be, he should vow not to discuss any aspect of the Trump business empire with his children — or any other Trump executive.
Mr. Trump and those at the company’s helm should commit to full transparency by making public any contracts with any federal agency, foreign government or foreign corporation. Our nation’s enemies, and some of our friends, will seek to either curry favor with or damage America through the Trump businesses. By providing full transparency, Mr. Trump and his family can show that they take seriously that, as Mr. Trump has tweeted, it is “visually important, as president, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses.”
It would be in the company’s best interest to set up an internal watchdog to help develop procedures that could help avoid conflicts.
Judicial Watch has already analyzed a number of current foreign entanglements that will require Mr. Trump and his family to demonstrate thorough transparency:
In China, a frequent Trump target on the campaign trail, the government-controlled Bank of China is part of a group that lent a Trump-affiliated office building in Manhattan $950 million. In India, Trump business partners are building luxury apartment complexes. Three Indian developers flew to New York recently and met with the president-elect. And in Germany, troubled Deutsche Bank has been involved in $3.5 billion in loans to Trump entities since 1998.
These connections would create more than enough controversy for most administrations. So it would be a good practice for the Trump progeny to avoid any new foreign entanglements. The Constitution’s Emoluments Clause bars the president from earning any compensation from a foreign government. Mr. Trump ought to consider a partial disinvestment from his company by either selling outright or rejecting the proceeds of any stakes with foreign government partners.
He should refuse any third party contributions to his personal foundation.
Above all, the Trump administration should be completely transparent on any government dealings with the Trump empire.
His refusal to release his tax returns is another issue that will dog him. The law doesn’t require Mr. Trump to release them, and he has been advised by his lawyer not to do so while he is under audit. It would obviously be good transparency and good politics to make them public. But critics should take seriously how the release of the confidential tax information could damage the company and the family.
In the best of circumstances, the Trump family business and questions about conflicts will be a burden to his presidency. There is no off-the-shelf ethics plan that would cover every possible conflict.
Judicial Watch, and the left’s planned Judicial Watch imitators, will monitor this issue. If he mishandles his devolvement from his business, he may tarnish his presidency. It would be ironic if Mr. Trump’s business success put his political and business legacy at risk.
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The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S.

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“I had no way of differentiating the call I just received from a prank call,” Mr. Tamene wrote in an internal memo, obtained by The New York Times, that detailed his contact with the F.B.I.
It was the cryptic first sign of a cyberespionage and information-warfare campaign devised to disrupt the 2016 presidential election, the first such attempt by a foreign power in American history. What started as an information-gathering operation, intelligence officials believe, ultimately morphed into an effort to harm one candidate, Hillary Clinton, and tip the election to her opponent, Donald J. Trump.
Like another famous American election scandal, it started with a break-in at the D.N.C. The first time, 44 years ago at the committee’s old offices in the Watergate complex, the burglars planted listening devices and jimmied a filing cabinet. This time, the burglary was conducted from afar, directed by the Kremlin, with spear-phishing emails and zeros and ones.
Phishing uses an innocent-looking email to entice unwary recipients to click on a deceptive link, giving hackers access to their information or a network. In “spear-phishing,” the email is tailored to fool a specific person.
An examination by The Times of the Russian operation — based on interviews with dozens of players targeted in the attack, intelligence officials who investigated it and Obama administration officials who deliberated over the best response — reveals a series of missed signals, slow responses and a continuing underestimation of the seriousness of the cyberattack.
The D.N.C.’s fumbling encounter with the F.B.I. meant the best chance to halt the Russian intrusion was lost. The failure to grasp the scope of the attacks undercut efforts to minimize their impact. And the White House’s reluctance to respond forcefully meant the Russians have not paid a heavy price for their actions, a decision that could prove critical in deterring future cyberattacks.
The low-key approach of the F.B.I. meant that Russian hackers could roam freely through the committee’s network for nearly seven months before top D.N.C. officials were alerted to the attack and hired cyberexperts to protect their systems. In the meantime, the hackers moved on to targets outside the D.N.C., including Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, John D. Podesta, whose private email account was hacked months later.
Even Mr. Podesta, a savvy Washington insider who had written a 2014 report on cyberprivacy for President Obama, did not truly understand the gravity of the hacking.
By last summer, Democrats watched in helpless fury as their private emails and confidential documents appeared online day after day — procured by Russian intelligence agents, posted on WikiLeaks and other websites, then eagerly reported on by the American media, including The Times. Mr. Trump gleefully cited many of the purloined emails on the campaign trail.
The fallout included the resignations of Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the chairwoman of the D.N.C., and most of her top party aides. Leading Democrats were sidelined at the height of the campaign, silenced by revelations of embarrassing emails or consumed by the scramble to deal with the hacking. Though little-noticed by the public, confidential documents taken by the Russian hackers from the D.N.C.’s sister organization, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, turned up in congressional races in a dozen states, tainting some of them with accusations of scandal.
In recent days, a skeptical president-elect, the nation’s intelligence agencies and the two major parties have become embroiled in an extraordinary public dispute over what evidence exists that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia moved beyond mere espionage to deliberately try to subvert American democracy and pick the winner of the presidential election.
Many of Mrs. Clinton’s closest aides believe that the Russian assault had a profound impact on the election, while conceding that other factors — Mrs. Clinton’s weaknesses as a candidate; her private email server; the public statements of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, about her handling of classified information — were also important.
While there’s no way to be certain of the ultimate impact of the hack, this much is clear: A low-cost, high-impact weapon that Russia had test-fired in elections from Ukraine to Europe was trained on the United States, with devastating effectiveness. For Russia, with an enfeebled economy and a nuclear arsenal it cannot use short of all-out war, cyberpower proved the perfect weapon: cheap, hard to see coming, hard to trace.
The Central Intelligence Agency concluded that the Russian government deployed computer hackers to help elect Donald J. Trump.
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“There shouldn’t be any doubt in anybody’s mind,” Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency and commander of United States Cyber Command, said at a postelection conference. “This was not something that was done casually, this was not something that was done by chance, this was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily,” he said. “This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect.”
For the people whose emails were stolen, this new form of political sabotage has left a trail of shock and professional damage. Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress and a key Clinton supporter, recalls walking into the busy Clinton transition offices, humiliated to see her face on television screens as pundits discussed a leaked email in which she had called Mrs. Clinton’s instincts “suboptimal.”
“It was just a sucker punch to the gut every day,” Ms. Tanden said. “It was the worst professional experience of my life.”
The United States, too, has carried out cyberattacks, and in decades past the C.I.A. tried to subvert foreign elections. But the Russian attack is increasingly understood across the political spectrum as an ominous historic landmark — with one notable exception: Mr. Trump has rejected the findings of the intelligence agencies he will soon oversee as “ridiculous,” insisting that the hacker may be American, or Chinese, but that “they have no idea.”
Mr. Trump cited the reported disagreements between the agencies about whether Mr. Putin intended to help elect him. On Tuesday, a Russian government spokesman echoed Mr. Trump’s scorn.
“This tale of ‘hacks’ resembles a banal brawl between American security officials over spheres of influence,” Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, wrote on Facebook.
Over the weekend, four prominent senators — two Republicans and two Democrats — joined forces to pledge an investigation while pointedly ignoring Mr. Trump’s skeptical claims.
“Democrats and Republicans must work together, and across the jurisdictional lines of the Congress, to examine these recent incidents thoroughly and devise comprehensive solutions to deter and defend against further cyberattacks,” said Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Chuck Schumer and Jack Reed.
“This cannot become a partisan issue,” they said. “The stakes are too high for our country.”

A Target for Break-Ins

Sitting in the basement of the Democratic National Committee headquarters, below a wall-size 2012 portrait of a smiling Barack Obama, is a 1960s-era filing cabinet missing the handle on the bottom drawer. Only a framed newspaper story hanging on the wall hints at the importance of this aged piece of office furniture.
“GOP Security Aide Among 5 Arrested in Bugging Affair,” reads the headline from the front page of The Washington Post on June 19, 1972, with the bylines of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.
Andrew Brown, 37, the technology director at the D.N.C., was born after that famous break-in. But as he began to plan for this year’s election cycle, he was well aware that the D.N.C. could become a break-in target again.
There were aspirations to ensure that the D.N.C. was well protected against cyberintruders — and then there was the reality, Mr. Brown and his bosses at the organization acknowledged: The D.N.C. was a nonprofit group, dependent on donations, with a fraction of the security budget that a corporation its size would have.
“There was never enough money to do everything we needed to do,” Mr. Brown said.
The D.N.C. had a standard email spam-filtering service, intended to block phishing attacks and malware created to resemble legitimate email. But when Russian hackers started in on the D.N.C., the committee did not have the most advanced systems in place to track suspicious traffic, internal D.N.C. memos show.
Mr. Tamene, who reports to Mr. Brown and fielded the call from the F.B.I. agent, was not a full-time D.N.C. employee; he works for a Chicago-based contracting firm called The MIS Department. He was left to figure out, largely on his own, how to respond — and even whether the man who had called in to the D.N.C. switchboard was really an F.B.I. agent.
“The F.B.I. thinks the D.N.C. has at least one compromised computer on its network and the F.B.I. wanted to know if the D.N.C. is aware, and if so, what the D.N.C. is doing about it,” Mr. Tamene wrote in an internal memo about his contacts with the F.B.I. He added that “the Special Agent told me to look for a specific type of malware dubbed ‘Dukes’ by the U.S. intelligence community and in cybersecurity circles.”
Part of the problem was that Special Agent Hawkins did not show up in person at the D.N.C. Nor could he email anyone there, as that risked alerting the hackers that the F.B.I. knew they were in the system.
Mr. Tamene’s initial scan of the D.N.C. system — using his less-than-optimal tools and incomplete targeting information from the F.B.I. — found nothing. So when Special Agent Hawkins called repeatedly in October, leaving voice mail messages for Mr. Tamene, urging him to call back, “I did not return his calls, as I had nothing to report,” Mr. Tamene explained in his memo.
In November, Special Agent Hawkins called with more ominous news. A D.N.C. computer was “calling home, where home meant Russia,” Mr. Tamene’s memo says, referring to software sending information to Moscow. “SA Hawkins added that the F.B.I. thinks that this calling home behavior could be the result of a state-sponsored attack.”
Mr. Brown knew that Mr. Tamene, who declined to comment, was fielding calls from the F.B.I. But he was tied up on a different problem: evidence suggesting that the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Mrs. Clinton’s main Democratic opponent, had improperly gained access to her campaign data.
Ms. Wasserman Schultz, then the D.N.C.’s chairwoman, and Amy Dacey, then its chief executive, said in interviews that neither of them was notified about the early reports that the committee’s system had likely been compromised.
Shawn Henry, who once led the F.B.I.’s cyber division and is now president of CrowdStrike Services, the cybersecurity firm retained by the D.N.C. in April, said he was baffled that the F.B.I. did not call a more senior official at the D.N.C. or send an agent in person to the party headquarters to try to force a more vigorous response.
“We are not talking about an office that is in the middle of the woods of Montana,” Mr. Henry said. “We are talking about an office that is half a mile from the F.B.I. office that is getting the notification.”
“This is not a mom-and-pop delicatessen or a local library. This is a critical piece of the U.S. infrastructure because it relates to our electoral process, our elected officials, our legislative process, our executive process,” he added. “To me it is a high-level, serious issue, and if after a couple of months you don’t see any results, somebody ought to raise that to a higher level.”
The F.B.I. declined to comment on the agency’s handling of the hack. “The F.B.I. takes very seriously any compromise of public and private sector systems,” it said in a statement, adding that agents “will continue to share information” to help targets “safeguard their systems against the actions of persistent cybercriminals.”
By March, Mr. Tamene and his team had met at least twice in person with the F.B.I. and concluded that Agent Hawkins was really a federal employee. But then the situation took a dire turn.
A second team of Russian-affiliated hackers began to target the D.N.C. and other players in the political world, particularly Democrats. Billy Rinehart, a former D.N.C. regional field director who was then working for Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, got an odd email warning from Google.
“Someone just used your password to try to sign into your Google account,” the March 22 email said, adding that the sign-in attempt had occurred in Ukraine. “Google stopped this sign-in attempt. You should change your password immediately.”
Mr. Rinehart was in Hawaii at the time. He remembers checking his email at 4 a.m. for messages from East Coast associates. Without thinking much about the notification, he clicked on the “change password” button and half asleep, as best he can remember, he typed in a new password.
What he did not know until months later is that he had just given the Russian hackers access to his email account.
Hundreds of similar phishing emails were being sent to American political targets, including an identical email sent on March 19 to Mr. Podesta, chairman of the Clinton campaign. Given how many emails Mr. Podesta received through this personal email account, several aides also had access to it, and one of them noticed the warning email, sending it to a computer technician to make sure it was legitimate before anyone clicked on the “change password” button.
“This is a legitimate email,” Charles Delavan, a Clinton campaign aide, replied to another of Mr. Podesta’s aides, who had noticed the alert. “John needs to change his password immediately.”
With another click, a decade of emails that Mr. Podesta maintained in his Gmail account — a total of about 60,000 — were unlocked for the Russian hackers. Mr. Delavan, in an interview, said that his bad advice was a result of a typo: He knew this was a phishing attack, as the campaign was getting dozens of them. He said he had meant to type that it was an “illegitimate” email, an error that he said has plagued him ever since.
During this second wave, the hackers also gained access to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and then, through a virtual private network connection, to the main computer network of the D.N.C.
The F.B.I. observed this surge of activity as well, again reaching out to Mr. Tamene to warn him. Yet Mr. Tamene still saw no reason to be alarmed: He found copies of the phishing emails in the D.N.C.’s spam filter. But he had no reason, he said, to believe that the computer systems had been infiltrated.
One bit of progress had finally been made by the middle of April: The D.N.C., seven months after it had first been warned, finally installed a “robust set of monitoring tools,” Mr. Tamene’s internal memo says.

Honing Stealthy Tactics

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Here’s What America Needs to Know About Trump and Russia

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This weekend, we finally learned the CIA’s professional conclusion about Russia’s involvement in our presidential elections: Russia hacked both the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign, and the goal was to help Trump win. And the CIA isn’t out on a limb here: both the director of National Intelligence, who represents all 16 intelligence agencies, and the head of Homeland Security, have said Russia was behind the hacking. The FBI also holds Russia responsible for hacking, but hasn’t reached a conclusion about its motives.
We are only beginning to process the fact that a foreign country interfered with American democratic elections. But when it comes to Russia and its relationship with Donald Trump, the election hacking may be only the tip of the iceberg. The American public doesn't have access to the data the intelligence community—all 16 agencies combined—have on the Russian government, its banks and oligarchs, and their relationships with Trump's campaign, his business ventures, and the president-elect himself. That must change before January 20. The information needs to be made public.
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I've worked in the defense community for the past 20 years, the past three as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia. Over that time, my colleagues and I have watched Russian cyber-operations become far more ambitious and insidious. They've moved from technical denial-of-service attacks—targeting Estonia in 2007, Georgia in 2008 and against Ukraine’s internet and cellular phone networks in 2014 and electrical grid a year later—to the use of cyber spying and release of captured information to influence publics, including their own. In 2014, during U.S. and European Union negotiations to build a transitional government in Ukraine, Russia made public a wiretapped conversation between my colleagues Assistant Secretary Toria Nuland and the U.S. ambassador in Ukraine, Geoff Pyatt, during which Nuland is heard saying “Fuck the E.U.” The objective was to embarrass U.S. officials and increase tension between them and their EU counterparts.
I watched as Russia funded far-right and far-left political parties in Western and Eastern Europe (most notably in France and Hungary), as well as NGOs and used its economic influence (especially in oil and gas) to pressure European politicians to support Kremlin objectives. This fall, we saw Moscow continue to intervene in other nations' politics, funding pro-Russian political parties in Moldova, and sponsoring demonstrations against that country's pro-Western government. This week, the head of the German domestic intelligence agency warned: "We see aggressive and increased cyber spying and cyber operations that could potentially endanger German government officials, members of parliament and employees of democratic parties."
We know from the most senior intelligence officials that the Russian government hacks and transfer of information to WikiLeaks were conducted at a minimum to cause Americans to lose faith in their political process, and at a maximum to increase the odds that Trump could win the election. And we should heed their words: As a close consumer of intelligence on Russia for three critical years, I know our intelligence on Russia, unlike that on North Korea, for example, is excellent.
Given Russia's capabilities and its recent patterns, it is not at all far-fetched to ask whether Trump is indeed the “puppet” Secretary Clinton mockingly named him in the second presidential debate. Is he financially and politically beholden to Russians close to the government and to the Kremlin itself? If so, is he prepared to accommodate Putin’s interests? Should we expect a robust "reset," in the tense relationship between the two countries, perhaps one that even compromises U.S. interests, like the stability of its allies in Europe, and American values, like democracy and human rights? If the Trump administration attempts one, it is worth noting that whatever the U.S. gives up would likely be very temporary: For domestic political reasons, Putin needs the United States as its public enemy, given Russia’s current and foreseeable economic situation, and Russian presidential elections are coming up in 2018.
Today, we already have enough clues and too much undisclosed information to warrant worry about the puppet scenario. There are signs the Trump campaign was involved in coordinating this release of hacked information—then-adviser Carter Page’s trips and meetings in Moscow, and Russian statements that they were in touch with the campaign. And of course, Trump publicly called on the Russian government to continue hacking Hillary Clinton’s computers during a televised campaign appearance. His campaign dismissed it as a joke; it's not clear everyone did. It may be too much to say that the Kremlin and Russian secret services put Trump on the path to seeking the presidency, but they certainly contributed to getting him there—even perhaps, to their surprise.
Since the election, various senior Russian officials, such as Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, have asserted that they’ve had ongoing conversations with the Trump camp. Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks has denied this. If the Russian officials in this "he said-she said" game aren't lying, it raises the question about what they are discussing or planning.
We know, per Donald Trump Jr., that Russia makes up a significant amount of the family business. What we don’t know is how much Russian money is involved, and what Russian money. How did Trump get out of debt? To whom does he owe money? Who provides the collateral for his loans? Is he beholden to Russian oligarchs and banks who are under the thumb of the Kremlin and Russian security services?
If these relationships do exist, the basic foreign policy implication is that a President Trump will seek to accommodate Vladimir Putin's objectives: equal status between the United States and Russia; a 19th century sphere of influence for Russia in Europe/Eurasia/Central Asia; and acceptance of brutal nondemocratic dictators even in the face of their people's nonviolent attempts to force them from power. And the United States is unlikely to retaliate against Russian cyberattacks, and may not maintain strong deterrence against Russian violations of air, sea and space protocols for military behavior.
In Europe, this would mean no further NATO enlargement and no military or other assistance to non-NATO states like Ukraine and Georgia that are occupied in part by Russian forces and trying to maintain their political and economic sovereignty. It would likely arrest the movement toward democracy and free-market capitalism. In the Middle East, it would mean letting the brutal dictator Bashar Assad try to rule Syria by force, with Russia and Iran helping.
The result would be more insecurity—Eastern and Western European states would start looking out for their own interests, arming unilaterally and weakening NATO and further dividing the EU. With collective security diminished, and the chance of American resistance significantly reduced, Russia may be tempted to test NATO countries by sending security forces into the Baltics to protect ethnic Russians or by conducting risky military maneuver in NATO air or maritime space. If a conflict were to break out among major European powers—collectively our top trading partner, and individually our closest allies—U.S. basic interests would be affected. If America chose to side with Russia over our European allies, that would be a repudiation of U.S. interests and values. In Syria, the final crushing of the conventional opposition forces would spell the dawn of a bitter and destabilizing insurgency against Assad, Iran and Russia.
For the homeland, the failure to respond to Russian cyber-interference and to establish and maintain military deterrence against attacks on U.S. military and civilian infrastructure will make us less safe. There will be a greater temptation for the Russian government to use cyber and other means to disrupt normal life in America for smaller stakes, like getting sanctions lifted or retaliating against the Magnitsky human rights law. Being cooperative in this area will only make America weak, coupled as it will be by mutual distrust between our militaries and the conventional and nuclear balances between us.
For a lot of Americans, this whole Russian-intervention scenario may seem far-fetched. And political scientists and former policymakers like myself know not to jump to conclusions based on a few data points, and on the significant questions Trump has refused to answer. It is also possible that the somber professional Cabinet members like Jim Mattis and John Kelly will successfully advocate for U.S. interests, and the Trump circle's evident impulses to accommodate Putin will be effectively countered or moderated.
Nonetheless, there's already plenty to worry about. Nothing like this level of foreign interference in American democracy has even been imagined in modern political history. So before we even get to interagency debates on Russia, before the president-elect takes the oath, the American people deserve to know what the intelligence community knows about his business history and entanglements with Russians and Russia.
The intelligence community, especially the CIA, will be loath to reveal too much lest their sources and methods are compromised. But if our worst fears are realized, Trump has knowingly benefited from Kremlin help, but those means may be jeopardized by the next administration, anyway. His team would be motivated to eliminate means of collection and analysis and of informing others in the executive branch or Congress. As the public and legislators press for more clarity, there are a handful of specific questions they need to focus on:
1) What did Russia do to interfere in U.S. elections?
2) Did any American citizens collude with Russia to assist in the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere in elections? If so how, and were Trump associates, or Trump himself, aware?
3) Have Russians given or loaned Trump and/or his businesses money, or provided collateral or other financial assistance to him?
If the answers yield further evidence that the president-elect is indebted to the Russian government or individuals with Kremlin ties, the intelligence community and policy officials should also begin disclosing what they know about whether Trump's associates have been in contact with Russian officials, and what they've been discussing.
There are U.S. government officials who know the answers to these questions; the most powerful among them, with the ability to declassify intelligence, will leave when power is transferred to Trump. It is bad enough that Trump has been labeled the biggest "Pinocchio" of all the presidential candidates by the fact-checkers at The Washington Post. But it would be far worse if his Geppetto, the man holding his strings, was Vladimir Putin—and if the people who were in a position to warn Americans did not do so.
Dr. Evelyn Farkas served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia from 2012 to 2015, is former Executive Director, Graham-Talent WMD Commission and has served almost twenty years in the executive and legislative branches of government.
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Putin, Trump and the West's new...

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Putin, Trump and the West's new ideological alliance

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In a year of surreal political developments, a curious flipping of the script is playing out in Washington: Democrats furious about reports of alleged Russian interference in the American electoral process are the main ones banging the drum about ...

The good, bad and ugly of warmer US-Russia relations

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WASHINGTON (CNN) – George W. Bush tried it. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton tried it. Now Donald Trump is vowing to reset relations with Russia. But could the unintended costs outweigh the benefits? The President-elect's Russian gambit seems like a ...

Podesta's email hack hinged on a very unfortunate typo

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An extensive New York Times report on this summer's catastrophic email hack of the Democratic National Committee has turned up a very embarrassing detail about how the attack took place. It was reported at the time that Clinton campaign manager John ...

Телефонный разговор с Федеральным канцлером Германии Ангелой Меркель

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По инициативе германской стороны состоялся телефонный разговор Владимира Путина с Федеральным канцлером Федеративной Республики Германия Ангелой Меркель.
Лидеры продолжили обсуждение ситуации вокруг поставок российского газа европейским потребителям через территорию Украины. Владимир Путин вновь выразил обеспокоенность в связи с тем, что украинская сторона уклоняется от согласования договорённостей о закупках газа из России в нынешнем зимнем сезоне, что создаёт угрозу транзиту в Европу.
В контексте проблемы мирного урегулирования внутриукраинского конфликта отмечена необходимость активизации усилий по всеобъемлющему выполнению минских договорённостей от 12 февраля 2015 года. Президент России подчеркнул, что в нынешней обстановке требуется, прежде всего, прекращение киевскими силовиками провокационных обстрелов населённых пунктов Донбасса, снятие социально-экономической блокады региона и налаживание прямого диалога Киева с Донецком и Луганском.
В ходе обсуждения ситуации в Сирии Владимир Путин информировал о действиях России по борьбе с международным терроризмом и о масштабной гуманитарной помощи, направляемой в освобождённые от боевиков районы САР.
Условлено активизировать двусторонние контакты.

The Putin Paradigm - The New York Review of Books

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The Putin Paradigm
The New York Review of Books
Of course, Putin may well have reasons for wanting Trump to president—not least Trump's apparent skepticism toward NATO and his lack of opposition to Russia's military interventions in Ukraine and Syria. .... Some appointments appear to point to ...

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'CRISIS MODE' Sweden prepares for WAR with Russia amid fears Putin is readying an attack - Express.co.uk

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Express.co.uk

'CRISIS MODE' Sweden prepares for WAR with Russia amid fears Putin is readying an attack
Express.co.uk
Russia simulated a nuclear attack on Sweden last year as part of a series of twisted war games, which prompted the country's defence minister Peter Hultqvist to send 150 troops and tanks to the remote Gotland island in case Putin tried to annex it for ...

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Kremlin calls talk of Russian interference in U.S. elections ‘absolute nonsense’ 

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The chaos and consternation in Washington has been of interest to Vladimir Putin.

The Latest: Russia says Aleppo operation has ended

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BEIRUT (AP) -- The Latest on the Syrian conflict (all times local):...
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Page 6

U.S. strike kills Islamic State militants linked to Paris attacks

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. drone strike in Syria last week killed two Islamic State leaders linked to the Nov. 13, 2015 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people as well as a third militant convicted in absentia in Belgium for a disrupted plot, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.
  

Exclusive: Top U.S. spy agency has not embraced CIA assessment on Russia hacking - sources

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The overseers of the U.S. intelligence community have not embraced a CIA assessment that Russian cyber attacks were aimed at helping Republican President-elect Donald Trump win the 2016 election, three American officials said on Monday.
  

Police Drag Woman Off Delta Flight in Detroit

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The woman failed comply with boarding procedures, Delta told ABC News.

Obama hits Trump over intel briefings, alleged Russia connections - Fox News

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Fox News

Obama hits Trump over intel briefings, alleged Russia connections
Fox News
The brief era of good feelings between President-elect Donald Trump and his soon-to-be predecessor may be over, with President Obama sounding off Monday night on Trump's reluctance to receive regular intelligence briefings and further questioning the ...
If Russian claws dug into US politics — Obama, not Trump, let it happenThe Hill (blog)
WATCH: Obama tells Trevor Noah that without intelligence briefings “you are flying blind”Salon
Obama hits Trump over intel briefingsPolitico
Breitbart News -Huffington Post -CNBC -Billboard
all 148 news articles »

A Brief History of U.S. Intervention in Foreign Elections - The Takeaway

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Click on the 'Listen' button above to hear this interview.
U.S. lawmakers and officials continue to respond to CIA intelligence reports that Russia deliberately interfered with the November election in order to get Donald Trump elected.  
Yet, intervening in foreign election is nothing new, particularly to the United States. U.S. intelligence has historically used clandestine tactics to put leaders into office who are favorable to American interests. The decades of meddling dates back to the early days of the CIA and were seen as a necessary strategy to contain the Soviet threat during the Cold War. 
Tim Weiner is a reporter and author who has written extensively on American intelligence. He's winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his work on clandestine national security programs, his books include "Enemies: A History of the FBI" and "Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA."  His most recent book is "One Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon." 
Click on the 'Listen' button above to hear Weiner explain how the U.S. government has meddled in foreign elections around the world.

After China's Hubris, It's Trump's Turn - Wall Street Journal

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Wall Street Journal

After China's Hubris, It's Trump's Turn
Wall Street Journal
SHANGHAI—China's belligerence during the Obama era began with hubris —a conviction that post-financial-crisis America was in irreversible decline and its own rise was unstoppable. That triumphant sense of destiny abruptly ended decades of ...
AP Explains: Why China sees Taiwan issue as non-negotiableWashington Post
Aleppo, Donald Trump, Chennai: Your Tuesday BriefingNew York Times
China's Red Line Has Asia Braced for Lose-Lose Trump BattleBloomberg
Washington Times -Los Angeles Times -Reuters -Christian Science Monitor
all 581 news articles »
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Page 7

Trump Chooses Exxon Chief Tillerson as Secretary of State

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President-elect Donald Trump will name Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state, a transition official said.

Ivanka Trump's alleged longtime stalker arrested in New York

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Justin Massler, 34, has been stalking Ivanka Trump at least since 2010, when he was charged with stalking and harassment.

Between panic and euphoria, Pakistan tries to figure out Donald Trump 

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Often mistrusted, the U.S. anti-terrorism partner hopes to win over the president-elect.

Putin ready to meet Trump ‘at any moment’ 

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Russian President Vladimir Putin says he is prepared to meet President-elect Donald Trump at any time.

What is the Russian Order of Friendship, and why does Rex Tillerson have one? 

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You don't have to be an oil magnate or a friend of Putin to get one.

Parents: Car crash changed alleged pizza parlor gunman

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Updated 10:24 pm, Monday, December 12, 2016
  • FILE- In this Dec. 4, 2016, file photo, Edgar Maddison Welch, 28 of Salisbury, N.C., surrenders to police in Washington. Welch, who fired an assault riffle multiple times inside a pizza restaurant in the nation's capital while investigating an internet conspiracy theory is expected in court Tuesday, Dec. 13, for a hearing on whether he should stay in jail while he awaits trial. (Sathi Soma via AP, File) Photo: AP / Sathi Soma
  • FILE- In this Dec. 4, 2016, file photo, Edgar Maddison Welch, 28 of Salisbury, N.C., surrenders to police in Washington. Welch, who fired an assault riffle multiple times inside a pizza restaurant in the nation's capital while investigating an internet conspiracy theory is expected in court Tuesday, Dec. 13, for a hearing on whether he should stay in jail while he awaits trial. (Sathi Soma via AP, File)

FILE- In this Dec. 4, 2016, file photo, Edgar Maddison Welch, 28 of Salisbury, N.C., surrenders to police in Washington. Welch, who fired an assault riffle multiple times inside a pizza restaurant in the nation's capital while investigating an internet conspiracy theory is expected in court Tuesday, Dec. 13, for a hearing on whether he should stay in jail while he awaits trial. (Sathi Soma via AP, File)
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FILE- In this Dec. 4, 2016, file photo, Edgar Maddison Welch, 28 of Salisbury, N.C., surrenders to police in Washington. Welch, who fired an assault riffle multiple times inside a pizza restaurant in the
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Photo: AP
Parents: Car crash changed alleged pizza parlor gunman
WASHINGTON (AP) — The man charged with firing an assault rifle inside a Washington pizza restaurant underwent a personality change after he hit a 13-year-old boy with his car in October, his parents said Monday.
Edgar Maddison Welch shifted from being energetic and outgoing to melancholy and quiet, Terri Welch and Harry Welch Jr. told The Washington Post (http://wapo.st/2hxFSql) at their son's public defender's office.
"He was very traumatized. We feel that accident changed him," Harry Welch said. Wife Terri said they have wondered whether it could have been a catalyst for the incident at Comet Ping Pong.
Police and prosecutors say that on Dec. 4, Maddison Welch went into the restaurant and fired an AR-15 rifle multiple times inside. No one was hurt.
He told police "he had read online that the Comet restaurant was harboring child sex slaves," and he wanted to investigate, according to court documents.
His parents said they'd never heard of the conspiracy theory dubbed "Pizzagate" and were shocked to learn their son had been arrested in connection with it.
"We were stunned. And my heart just stopped and stomach just dropped," Terri Welch said.
Harry Welch said his son felt guilty after the crash and worried about the long-term effects for the child, who had to be airlifted to a hospital with broken bones and a head injury. His parents said Maddison Welch began having nightmares but did not to seek help.
No charges were filed in the crash.
Maddison Welch's parents said their son is loving and responsible, an affectionate father to two young girls. "He's a dad first," Terri Welch said. He is deeply religious, with two Bible verses, Isaiah 40:30-31, tattooed across his back, they said.
And after an earthquake devastated Haiti in 2010, killing hundreds of thousands, Maddison Welch traveled to the impoverished island and spent weeks there building houses with a church.
The couple from North Carolina was in town to attend a Tuesday court hearing for their son, with whom they have not spoken since the shooting. Welch faces charges including assault with a dangerous weapon.
___
Information from: The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com
Read the whole story

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Senate and House Leaders Call for Inquiry of Russian Hacking in Election 

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Senator Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul D. Ryan said they supported the investigations, setting up a possible conflict with President-elect Trump.

Fiorina casts doubt on intelligence about Russia hacking - Politico (blog)

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Politico (blog)

Fiorina casts doubt on intelligence about Russia hacking
Politico (blog)
Carly Fiorina on Monday also cast doubt on the CIA's assessment that Russia tried to tip the election in Donald Trump's favor, after meeting privately with the president-elect in Trump Tower. “We talked about hacking, whether it's Chinese hacking or ...

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What Russia and Putin Have and Have Not Accomplished - National Review Online

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Newsweek

What Russia and Putin Have and Have Not Accomplished
National Review Online
Let's get this out of the way first and foremost: While there is plenty of evidence that Russia meddled in the 2016 election — for the sake of sowing doubt and uncertainty, undermining the then-likely future president (Hillary), and/or trying to help ...
Trump and PutinHuffington Post
CIA Veterans Urge Caution on Leaks Saying Russia's Putin Tried to Get Trump ElectedNewsweek
Roberts: In Trump's world, Putin's the good guy and the CIA is ineptAZCentral.com
Business Insider -Washington Post (blog) -The Globe and Mail -Washington Post
all 2,350 news articles »

Russia and the U.S. Election: What We Know and Don’t Know

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A guide to separating fact from rumor and speculation in a swirl of news about Russia’s electoral interference.

Эйдман: Путин заставил российских военных выполнять роль клоунов - GORDONUA.COM

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GORDONUA.COM

Эйдман: Путин заставил российских военных выполнять роль клоунов
GORDONUA.COM
Президент России Владимир Путин использовал армию в Сирии для создания телевизионной картинки, однако теперь это может вылиться в новую "афганскую войну". Об этом в своем Facebook написал российский социолог, политолог и публицист Игорь Эйдман. "Путин заставил ...

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Putin's game is to neuter and divide the West - and he is succeeding - Telegraph.co.uk

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Telegraph.co.uk

Putin's game is to neuter and divide the West - and he is succeeding
Telegraph.co.uk
The Russians know how to make you feel welcome. On my first visit to Moscow as foreign secretary in 2010, whole motorways seemed to have been closed, vodka flowed freely, and the then President Medvedev hosted me at his villa in the woods. They were ...