Putin-linked thinktank wrote plan to swing 2016 U.S. election in Trump's favor

A Russian thinktank controlled by Vladimir Putin's government crafted a written plan “to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system,” reports Reuters, citing three current and four former U.S. officials.

Snip:

They described two confidential documents from the think tank as providing the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election. U.S. intelligence officials acquired the documents, which were prepared by the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, after the election.

The institute is run by retired senior Russian foreign intelligence officials appointed by Putin’s office.

The first Russian institute document was a strategy paper written last June that circulated at the highest levels of the Russian government but was not addressed to any specific individuals.

It recommended the Kremlin launch a propaganda campaign on social media and Russian state-backed global news outlets to encourage U.S. voters to elect a president who would take a softer line toward Russia than the administration of then-President Barack Obama, the seven officials said.

A second institute document, drafted in October and distributed in the same way, warned that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was likely to win the election. For that reason, it argued, it was better for Russia to end its pro-Trump propaganda and instead intensify its messaging about voter fraud to undermine the U.S. electoral system’s legitimacy and damage Clinton’s reputation in an effort to undermine her presidency, the seven officials said.

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Eerily realistic Trump, Putin, and Kim Jong-un masks

Landon Meier of Hyperflesh unveiled some crazy new masks at Monsterpalooza 2017: Trump, Putin, and Kim Jong-un masks that are so lifelike people do a double-take. Read the rest

FBI got secret court order in mid-2016 to monitor Carter Page as part of Russia-Trump probe

The Federal Bureau of Investigations asked for and received a secret court order last summer to eavesdrop on communications between Carter Page, then a campaign adviser to candidate Donald Trump, as part of the FBI's investigation into connections between Team Trump and Russia.

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Even by the standards of tax-havens, Gibraltar is pretty sketchy

As Brexit shambles on, UK Tory Parliamentarians and Theresa May are spoiling for a re-run of the Falklands Island debacle, this time over Gibraltar, a British outpost at the tip of Spain. Read the rest

That Dr. Strangelove scene where the U.S. President phones Russia about an imminent air strike

In the War Room, the U.S President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers) is making a phone call to the President of the U.S.S.R. From Dr. Strangelove, directed by Stanley Kubrick (1964).

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This 'Putin as a gay clown' image is now illegal in Russia, so please do not share

This image of Russian leader and purported Donald Trump kingmaker Vladimir Putin as a gay clown is now illegal in Russia. Whatever you do, do not share this far and wide so that everyone sees it.

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Your Monday afternoon new, damning Trump-Putin connection

Is anyone surprised that Eric Prince, CEO of Blackwater, brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and familiar face around the NYC Trump transition office, held a clandestine meeting in the Seychelles with a close advisor to El Sr. Putin just days before the inauguration?

Via the Washington Post:

Prince was an avid supporter of Trump who gave $250,000 last year to support the GOP nominee’s campaign, records show. He has ties to people in Trump’s circle, including Stephen K. Bannon, now serving as the president’s chief strategist and senior counselor. Prince’s sister Betsy DeVos serves as education secretary in the Trump administration. And Prince was seen in the Trump transition offices in New York in December.

U.S. officials said the FBI has been scrutinizing the Seychelles meeting as part of a broader probe of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and alleged contacts between associates of Putin and Trump. The FBI declined to comment.

The Seychelles encounter, which one official said spanned two days, adds to an expanding web of connections between Russia and Americans with ties to Trump — contacts that the White House has been reluctant to acknowledge or explain until they have been exposed by news organizations.

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Russian billionaire Deripaska paid Manafort to 'greatly benefit' Putin before Manafort joined Trump campaign

Before he worked for the Donald Trump presidential campaign, Paul Manafort worked for a Russian billionaire to help promote Russian president Vladimir Putin's agenda in the United States.

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FBI: We have evidence Trump team and Russia communicated mid-campaign, maybe to coordinate Clinton info dump

This seems like a big escalation in the Trump/Russia investigation story. Late Wednesday, the FBI said it has evidence that associates of Donald Trump communicated with Russia during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, possibly to coordinate the release of Hillary Clinton campaign info via Wikileaks.

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Gold Nokia 3310 with Putin's portrait on it

Nokia's resurrected 3310 is the dumbphone du jour, but it has two key flaws. First, the 2G radio bands it uses are insecure and being shut down by many telcos, meaning it might not work in your region. Second, the base model doesn't have a bas-relief portrait of Russian premier Vladimir Putin on it.

Sadly, this feature is a $3,700 upgrade from Caviar, one of those design houses that supposedly has a classy European pedigree but is, in any case, now devoted entirely to making special editions of phones for drug lords. Many are Putin themed, but Trump is the hot new thing.

WHAT’S BETTER THAN A NOKIA 3310? A GOLD NOKIA 3310 WITH VLADIMIR PUTIN’S FACE ON IT [The Outline] Read the rest

Vitaly Churkin, Russian ambassador to the United Nations, dies suddenly, age 64

The Russian Foreign Ministry reports today that Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, died suddenly today in New York. He died on Monday age 64, just one day before his 65th birthday.

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U.S. spies are withholding intelligence from Donald Trump, who has none

Capping off Donald J. Trump's No Good Very Bad Horrible Day today, the Wall Street Journal reports that senior U.S. intelligence officials are deliberately withholding sensitive information from the President because they don't trust him. Today's report cites sources inside the White House, and underscores the deep mistrust between career spies and the imploding kakistocracy.

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'Flynn Doesn't Matter,' says TPM's Josh Marshall, 'This Is About Trump'

A scorching analysis of the unprecedented last few days in America from Joshua Marshall of Talking Points Memo, following the Russia-clouded resignation of Trump national security Michael Flynn, who follows the Russia-scandal resignation of Paul Manafort, and other advisors who've stepped aside under various clouds of suspicion.

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Trump aides were in constant contact with top Russian officials during campaign

This is so much bigger than Watergate. America has not seen a political crisis of this magnitude for generations. The other shoe drops on #Flynngate tonight. Trump, Manafort, and Flynn's activities “raise a red flag.” The U.S. government is in "unbelievable turmoil." Who is in charge of America?

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Russia may turn Snowden over to U.S. as 'gift' to 'curry favor' with Trump (who wants to kill the NSA leaker)

U.S. intelligence officials say Russia 'is considering' sending Edward Snowden back to the United States as a "gift" to President Donald Trump, who has consistently referred to the NSA leaker as a "spy" and a "traitor" for whom the death penalty would be appropriate punishment.

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US investigators corroborate elements of Russia dossier on Trump, CNN reports

Reporters with CNN interviewed federal investigators who confirm for the first time that some elements in that mysterious British spy's dossier on Donald Trump's Russia hijinks are legit.

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Russian doctors "puzzled" over symptoms of Putin critic in a life-threatening coma

Vladimir Kara-Murza works for the pro-democracy group Open Russia and is openly critical of Putin's policy of assassinating people he isn't fond of. Last week Kara-Murza hospitalized with organ failure on the day he was to travel to the United States. He has been diagnosed with "acute intoxication by unidentified substance" and is in a life-threatening coma.

From the NYTimes:

On the Fox program, Mr. Trump said he respected Mr. Putin and hoped Russia and the United States could join forces to defeat Islamic terrorism. The host, Mr. O’Reilly, responded: “He’s a killer though. Putin’s a killer.” It was unclear whether the characterization referred to the unsolved assassination of dissidents, muckraking journalists and opposition politicians or allegations of war crimes in Syria, Ukraine or Chechnya.

The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, told reporters Monday that the description was “unacceptable, insulting.”

The Soviet Union operated a secret laboratory to research untraceable poisons that were tested on condemned gulag prisoners, security service defectors have said.

Image by Leonidalekseev (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In 2015 Kara-Murza was hospitalized for two weeks for similar symptoms. Read the rest

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