Thursday, October 5, 2017

Last Call For Russian To Judgment

You would think that given the allegations against our good friends in Russia that the Trump regime would be steaming mad at Moscow and ready to start demanding answers.  Alas, that has yet to happen even as evidence keeps piling up that the Russians have largely succeeded at happily destroying America's intelligence capability for decades.

Hackers working for the Russian government stole details of how the U.S. penetrates foreign computer networks and defends against cyberattacks after a National Security Agency contractor removed the highly classified material and put it on his home computer, according to multiple people with knowledge of the matter.

The hackers appear to have targeted the contractor after identifying the files through the contractor’s use of a popular antivirus software made by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab, these people said
The theft, which hasn’t been disclosed, is considered by experts to be one of the most significant security breaches in recent years. It offers a rare glimpse into how the intelligence community thinks Russian intelligence exploits a widely available commercial software product to spy on the U.S. 
The incident occurred in 2015 but wasn’t discovered until spring of last year, said the people familiar with the matter. 
The stolen material included details about how the NSA penetrates foreign computer networks, the computer code it uses for such spying and how it defends networks inside the U.S., these people said. 
Having such information could give the Russian government information on how to protect its own networks, making it more difficult for the NSA to conduct its work. It also could give the Russians methods to infiltrate the networks of the U.S. and other nations, these people said. 
The breach is the first known incident in which Kaspersky software is believed to have been exploited by Russian hackers to conduct espionage against the U.S. government. The company, which sells its antivirus products in the U.S., had revenue of more than half a billion dollars in Western Europe and the Americas in 2016, according to International Data Corp. By Kaspersky’s own account it has more than 400 million users world-wide. 
The revelation comes as concern over Russian infiltration of American computer networks and social media platforms is growing amid a U.S. special counsel’s investigation into whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign sought or received assistance from the Russian government. Mr. Trump denies any impropriety and has called the matter a “witch hunt.” 
Intelligence officials have concluded that a campaign authorized by the highest levels of the Russian government hacked into state election-board systems and the email networks of political organizations to damage the candidacy of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. 
A spokesman for the NSA didn’t comment on the security breach. “Whether the information is credible or not, NSA’s policy is never to comment on affiliate or personnel matters,” he said. He noted that the Defense Department, of which the NSA is a part, has a contract for antivirus software with another company, not Kaspersky. 
In a statement, Kaspersky Lab said it “has not been provided any information or evidence substantiating this alleged incident, and as a result, we must assume that this is another example of a false accusation.” 
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov in a statement didn’t address whether the Russian government stole materials from the NSA using Kaspersky software. But he criticized the U.S. government’s decision to ban the software from use by U.S. agencies as “undermining the competitive positions of Russian companies on the world arena.”

I've long said that Kaspersky Labs could have been a Putin intel front, I warned you guys about them two years ago and surprise, that's when the theft took place.  Now we absolutely know that's the case, because the Russians have now hit us not just once (Edward Snowden), not just twice (Harold Martin) but now three times with this yet-to-be-named contractor who got his data hoovered up by Kaspersky Labs.

No wonder the Russians were able to pull off the soft coup of the century and install Donald Trump in the White House.  They had the keys to the front door, back door, and every side door in sight, and every time they opened one they found more keys waiting to be handed over.  And yeah, the guy who has to shoulder the blame for that?

Barack Obama.  I'm sorry to say it, but he messed up.  Badly.  Fatally so, in fact.  We'll be paying for this for the rest of my lifetime, I suspect.  Once would be a mistake, twice is an unfortunate coincidence, but three times is enemy action as they say, and he got rolled along with our entire country.

He lost the first major war of the 21st century without firing a shot.  Maybe that's harsh, but look at the hell we're in today.  There's a lot of blame to go around, and he has to get his share of it.

Don't get me wrong, Donald Trump is a traitor, period.  But Obama made this far too easy for Moscow to win.

The GOP's Money Masters Are Mad

The people who truly run America -- wealthy mega-donors to the GOP's campaign coffers -- are swiftly becoming angry at the complete inability of the Trump regime to give them their trillions in tax cuts, austerity spending cuts, and Obamacare repeal.

As primary challengers to House and Senate GOP losers are popping up like dandelions after a summer storm, the big money guys are now turning their backs on those in the Republican leadership who have failed them.

Tensions reached a boiling point at a recent dinner at the home of Los Angeles billionaire Robert Day. In full view of around two dozen guests, Thomas Wachtell, a retired oil and gas investor and party contributor, delivered an urgent message to the night’s headliner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: Just do something.

Wachtell, who has given tens of thousands of dollars over the years to Senate Republicans, recalled that McConnell responded defensively. Passing legislation takes time, the Republican leader responded, and President Donald Trump didn’t seem to understand how long it required. 
“Anybody who was there knew that I was not happy. And I don’t think anybody was happy. How could you be?” said Wachtell, who has previously given over $2,000 to McConnell but recently stopped donating to Senate GOP causes. “You’re never going to get a more sympathetic Republican than I am. But I’m sick and tired of nothing happening.” 
With the GOP’s agenda at a virtual standstill on Capitol Hill, the party is contending with a hard reality. Some of the party's most elite and influential donors, who spent the past eight years plowing cash into the party’s coffers in hopes of accomplishing a sweeping conservative agenda and undoing Barack Obama’s legislative accomplishments, are closing their wallets.

It's probably not helping the GOP that donors are well aware of the fact that Mitch and Paul Ryan are most likely complicit in Trump's Russia collusion scheme too.  Giving lots of money to guys who are about to end up crashing and burning in disgrace is a bad investment.

The backlash is threatening to deprive Republicans of resources just as they're gearing up for the 2018 midterms. Party officials are so alarmed that North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, who oversees fundraising for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told his colleagues at a recent conference meeting that donations had fallen off a cliff after the Obamacare flop. The committee’s haul plummeted to just $2 million in July and August, less than half of what it raised in June. 
"When you’re in a business and you tell your stakeholders you’re going to build a building or something, you have to follow through," said Houston-based energy executive Dan Eberhart. "I can’t borrow money to build a building and then not follow through, which is what these guys are doing.” He said he's spoken to four Republican senators over the past month to express his displeasure, mostly over the party's failure to repeal Obamacare. 
Behind the scenes, the GOP has begun to try to smooth things over with its most important givers. On Monday, Trump met with the party’s most prominent donor, Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who has privately expressed frustration that the president hasn't moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. And in the wake of an establishment-backed candidate’s loss in Alabama, a top McConnell political lieutenant, Steven Law, held a series of frank discussions with key benefactors. 
Some of the donors are giving lawmakers an earful. Bruce Rastetter, an Iowa agribusiness mogul who has funded a long list of Republican elected officials, said he had informed his state’s two GOP senators, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, that he would not donate to Republican senators “unless they pass new legislation or get new leadership.” 
In the world of campaign politics, big donors have long been known as gripers — an exclusive group accustomed to stroking and attention. But this year is different. Veteran fundraisers say they’re having an unusually hard time setting up meetings with major contributors, lining up checks and organizing events. 
One seasoned GOP fundraiser forwarded along a curt email from a sought-after donor. “The GOP leaders should know, no movement on remaining agenda: tax reform, infrastructure, deregulation, etc. means no funding from supporters like me,” it read. “No meetings, calls, contributions until we see progress.”

The true leaders of the country have spoken.  They bought and paid for the Republican-controlled government under the Trump regime, and now they want their money back.

So they're going around the GOP altogether and targeting vulnerable Trump state Democrats.

A Charles and David Koch-backed group is launching a $4.5 million ad campaign targeting three Democratic senators, urging them to support the Republican tax reform plan. 
The television ad buy, announced Thursday morning, will target Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, all of whom are facing tough re-election efforts next year in states that President Donald Trump won. 
The conservative-leaning Koch organization has made passing tax reform a priority and has pledged to spend tens of millions of dollars organizing voters and pressuring elected officials to support an overhaul. 
In the ad, a woman looks at the camera and says that tax reform will help "average" Americans. 
"People are sick of politics. I am too. But fixing our broken tax system isn’t about politics — it’s about helping people," she says. "That’s what tax reform will do. So, what’s stopping us?"

Grab your wallets, folks. Sooner or later they're get every penny and then some from Trump's "populist agenda"  Count on it.

Just Another Day In Gunmerica

We've heard a lot about how the Las Vegas massacre terrorist (and he's a terrorist, period) somehow "didn't fit the profile of a typical mass shooter".  Andrea Grimes reminds us that secular white men with multiple firearms and a history of domestic violence like Stephen Paddock fit exactly the profile of the vast majority of people who use firearms to commit acts of atrocity.

There was no “lack of red flags” in Paddock’s history. He very closely fits the profile of the kind of person who is demographically most likely to commit a domestic terror attack in the United States: He’s a white man, and he wasn’t a Muslim, and in fact he wasn’t particularly religious at all, and he had unfettered access to guns. When the news media reports shock and surprise at the lack of warning signs before a quiet, secular white guy commits an act of domestic terrorism, they’re not actually reporting a real lack of warning signs—they’re bolstering America’s steel-plated, gold-engraved, marble-polished tendency to give violent white men the benefit of the doubt, every time and indefinitely. This despite the fact that evidence shows men who look and act like Stephen Paddock are more likely than anyone else to commit crimes of this nature. 
To be clear, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with profiling the men—it’s always men, don’t @ me—who commit these crimes. I think there’s value in exposing the monsters who live among us. The monsters who are our brothers, our fathers, our dads, our neighbors, our bosses, our partners. 
But I wonder when the journalists responsible for crafting the national, historical narrative around mass murder are going to connect the dots instead of scratching their chins over how yet another quiet, pasty loner of a guy could possibly take to the streets with murder and mayhem on his mind. I wonder if that time will ever come, when our newsrooms are still mostly white and mostly male, full of men who appear to be deeply reluctant to accept that the next terrorist in our American streets will probably look like them.

No.  And they will give him a pass precisely because of this.  It should be newsworthy that Paddock committed the crime at all, but that would be a tacit admission that the real problem in this country are white men with legal stockpiles of guns and ammo and the willingness to use them against others.

Journalists can absolutely report that people say they are shocked or surprised, but journalists don’t have to take it at face value that it is, objectively, shocking or surprising that a quiet, nonreligious white guy would murder people in the streets of an American city. It is perfectly possible—and, if we are ever going to confront America’s culture of toxic white masculinity with the aim of ending this kind of violence, absolutely necessary—for a journalist to quote a surprised neighbor or brother and observe, in the next sentence or graf, that Stephen Paddock (or the next mass-murdering dude like him) fits the demographic profile of an American domestic terrorist. 
To treat white male violence of this nature as unusual, when evidence suggests it is anything but, is to perpetuate the racist, Islamophobic and often misogynist narratives that empower broader political oppression of Americans of color and Muslim Americans. To be surprised by Stephen Paddock, and to fail to challenge readers and audiences to recognize the cultural biases that blind them to the reality of who commits mass murders in this country, is to normalize racism and bigotry. And that normalization trickles up and out: It empowers leaders like Donald Trump to enact bans on Muslim travelers, it stokes a “Build the wall!” mob mentality, and it delays the reckoning that this country so urgently needs to have with itself on the subjects of racism and xenophobia.

The country was built on racism and xenophobia, and that remains to this very day.  Why would we ever expect anything to change?  That power has always been backed by the implicit threat of the use of force, and the Second Amendment has been used as a tool to further that power.  You can argue that this wasn't the original intent of the Constitution in the age of muskets and Minutemen, but then again the original intent of the document was that people like me counted at 3/5ths of a person. too.

Freedom of gun ownership has never extended to people of color, and especially to black America. That right has always been reserved for "law-abiding" white America, as well as the cultural cache of implied social power and virility that goes with it.

Little wonder then that the bump feed stocks that Robert Paddock used in his crimes are now selling like proverbial hotcakes laced with Viagra.

Bump-fire stocks remain legal, but it is getting increasingly harder to find one to buy. Scores of online retailers have sold out of the devices, which enable a semiautomatic weapon to mimic the functionality of a machine gun. 
Police found at least a dozen rifles equipped with bump-fire stocks in the hotel room from which a gunman killed 59 people in Las Vegas on Sunday night. In the wake of the shooting, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California introduced a bill that would ban the devices. 
Bump-fire stocks are typically widely available for purchase on the Internet. WalMart and Cabela’s, two of the nation’s largest gun sellers, appear to have halted online sales of the devices early Wednesday. For retailers that have continued to sell them, business is booming. The webpages of several online retailers state that the devices are sold out.

“Due to extreme high demands, we are currently out of stock. Please check back with us shortly,” reads a notice on the website of Slide Fire Solutions, the manufacturer of a popular bump-fire device.

After all, this is a country that sold a million firearms in the week after Sandy Hook, where three percent of Americans own half the 150 million guns in the country, and where nutjobs like Alex Jones are close to advocating using all those guns in the next civil war.

The enemy’s engaging us. Everybody needs to be packing, like I told you on Friday and on Sunday. Get ready -- Democrats are going to be killing people, a lot of folks. And obviously, just like you don’t see conservatives going out and doing mass shootings, they don’t want to blame the Second Amendment, they don’t want to go out and kill people. It’s almost always drug-head Democrats, devil worshippers, you name it. That’s their M.O. The Democrats know when they mass-kill now, they know to not say they’re Democrat operatives. They just want to use that to get the Second Amendment and get a civil war going.

Something's got to give, and soon.  It won't be pretty when it happens, either.


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