Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Ad Hoc Media Update (43)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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On most fronts, possibly the worst week Russia has experienced this year. All wholly self-inflicted.


NATO / EU / Russia Reports


Stealth F-22 Raptors Are in Europe with One Goal in Mind: Deter Russia | The National Interest

The jets, which can cruise at supersonic speeds without afterburners and which typically operate at higher altitudes than most fighters, are being deployed to Germany to deter any potential Russian aggression.
US nuclear commander: Russia and China are not our friends
Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, cited Russian and Chinese ambitions to develop hypersonic weapons.
The US’s nuclear commander says the only way to defend the US from new Russian and Chinese missiles lies in space | Business Insider
The key to defending the US homeland against Russian and Chinese missile threats, as well as emerging and potential threats from countries like North Korea and Iran, lies in space, according to the head of US Strategic Command.
Russian submarine threat largest since Cold War: top US Navy admiral
Pentagon and NATO brass have issued fresh warnings about increased Russian naval activity in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea, with the top U.S. Navy admiral saying this week Russian submarine operations are currently at levels not seen since the Cold War.
Russia’s nuclear arsenal: All bark and no bite? | Fox News
Amid fears of a new cold war, an examination of Russia’s nuclear arsenal by Fox News shows that there may be no need for worry about a devastating attack on the U.S. Nuclear warfare experts say Russia’s arsenal of nukes is strictly for defense, and that while Moscow has a first strike option, it isn’t likely to use it.
Trump has Germany thinking about getting nuclear weapons, but some think it’s a ‘totally phony debate’ | Business Insider
President Donald Trump’s relationship with Europe has been characterised by him attacking NATO for what he perceives as failures to meet the defence-spending goals alliance members have agreed to work toward.
NATO in Ukraine: High Strategic Stake, Irresolute Engagement – Jamestown
Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 15 Issue: 115 By: Vladimir Socor August 1, 2018 04:43 PM Age: 3 days United States President Donald Trump’s behavior at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) recent summit in Brussels (July 11–12) and in its aftermath has cast a shadow on this landmark event. Trump’s follow-up actions, including the meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, continued hitting at NATO and the European Union from afar. Trump’s persona and his possible motivations furnished the main topic of analysis throughout these events, diverting attention from the actual results of the NATO Brussels Summit. Its agenda and decisions clearly identified Russia as the main source of threats and challenges to the Alliance. The summit’s balance sheet is a mixture of significant accomplishments and unfinished business left over from years past, notably in the Black Sea region and NATO’s eastern neighborhood. The North Atlantic Alliance’s modest engagement with Ukraine is hardly commensurate with that country’s centrality to a secure Europe. Nor does this level of relations adequately respond to Ukraine’s aspirations for Euro-Atlantic integration. Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine—a country that defends Europe in the process of defending itself—seems to have inhibited NATO from a proper mentoring and advisory role in Ukraine, instead of stimulating such a role. The country’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations mainly rely on the engagement of the United States with Ukraine on a bilateral basis, and potentially a few willing member countries, rather than on NATO’s collective policies. The Alliance adheres to its declared Open Door Policy regarding Ukraine in a nuanced way. The Brussels Summit Declaration recognizes that “an independent, sovereign and stable Ukraine […] is key for Euro-Atlantic security. We stand firm in our support for Ukraine’s right to decide its own future and foreign policy course free from outside interference. In light of Ukraine’s restated aspirations for NATO membership, we stand by our decisions taken at the Bucharest Summit and subsequent Summits” (Nato.int, para. 62, July 11). The document, however, stops short of specifying what the 2008 Bucharest (and subsequently reaffirmed) decision was, namely that “Ukraine and Georgia will become members of NATO.” The 2018 Brussels Declaration makes this specification only with regard to Georgia, in the immediately preceding paragraph: “We reiterate the decision made at the 2008 Bucharest Summit that Georgia will become a member of the Alliance” (Nato.int, para. 61, July 11). NATO encourages Ukraine to make “full use of the Comprehensive Assistance Package [CAP], so that Ukraine can better provide for its own security” (Nato.int, para. 62, July 11). Meant as a contribution to improving Ukraine’s defense capacity and interoperability, that package consists of six trust funds, set up at NATO’s 2014 Wales Summit and confirmed at the 2016 Warsaw Summit. Allied countries, individually or in groups, volunteer to provide financial support and expertise for the projects run by each trust fund. The six trust funds are designed to assist Ukraine with: C4 (Command, Control, Communications and Computers, led by a trio of Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom); Logistics and Standardization (led by the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Poland); Cyber Defense (Romania); Military Medicine and Rehabilitation (Bulgaria); Military Career Transition (Norway); and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (Slovakia). (Nato.int, July 14). However, the funding is not up to the level of these tasks. In the run-up to the 2018 Brussels Summit, the budget planned for CAP’s six trust funds was reported to total only $9.5 million, not all of which was actually collected (Heritage.org, July 6). NATO officials have not released the CAP trust funds’ budget figures. The Summit further encouraged Ukraine to make full use of the NATO-Ukraine Commission (NUC) and the Annual National Plan (ANP) in order “to reach its objectives of implementing NATO principles and standards.” The responsibility for implementation of ANPs falls primarily on Ukraine. (If an aspirant country receives a membership action plan, then NATO shares the aforementioned objectives and responsibility with that country). The NUC meets periodically at the presidential, ministerial, ambassadorial and expert levels (Hungary has vetoed NUC meetings since October 2017), while the ANP entails an annual review process coordinated by Ukraine’s deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration, Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze (highly respected in Brussels). The working groups under the NUC and under the ANP straddle the borderline between civilian and military domains, as is the case with CAP’s trust funds. On the civilian side, albeit with national security implications, NATO and Ukraine jointly operate a Platform on Countering Hybrid Warfare; moreover, they have held a major exercise named Table Top, aimed at improving the resilience of Ukraine’s critical energy infrastructure.
UAWire – Pentagon asserts its unquestionable strength to deter Russia’s hypersonic weapons
The USA’s ability to counter Russia’s hypersonic weapons is unquestionable despite the claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin made while …
Swedish Defence Minister criticises Russian counterpart for spreading false information – The Local
Sweden’s Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist has criticised his Russian counterpart Sergej Sjojgu for spreading false information about collaboration between Sweden and Nato. Sweden’s Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist has criticised his Russian counterpart Sergej Sjojgu for spreading false information about collaboration between Sweden and Nato. Hultqvist was responding to a comment made by the Russian minister last week in which he claimed Nato has access to Sweden and Finland’s airspace and territorial waters. “What the Russian defence minister describes is false. Nato does not have unrestricted access to either Finnish or Swedish territorial waters and airspace,” Hultqvist told Sveriges Radio. “Special permission is required for any foreign state vessel or aircraft to enter our territory.” READ ALSO: Sweden, US and Finland agree to work more closely on defence The Russian minister had referred to a supposed agreement from May 2018 where Finland and Sweden would grant air and water access in exchange for participation in Nato’s military exercises and access to the alliance’s weapons. Not true, according to Hultqvist. “Sweden is free from military alliances and we make our own decision. This was a false portrayal,” the Swedish minister noted.
Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist reacted to the words of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu about the Scandinavian country’s cooperation with NATO, calling them a lie – Swedish Defense Minister accuses Russian colleague Sergei Shoigu of lying – 112.international
Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist reacted to the words of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu about the Scandinavian country’s cooperation with NATO, calling them a lie
UAWire – Lithuanian security services accuse online service Yandex.Taxi of transferring user data to Russia
The service Yandex.Taxi, working in Lithuania is transferring data to Russian IP-addresses, according to the National Center for Cybersecurity ( …
Albania is intended to build the first NATO airbase in the Balkans – NATO to build airbase in Balkans – 112.international
Albania is intended to build the first NATO airbase in the Balkans
Estonia Searching For Missile Accidentally Fired During NATO Air Exercise
Estonian military helicopters are looking for a missile after it was accidentally fired over the country’s southern skies on August 7 by a Spanish fighter jet participating in a NATO training mission.
Spanish fighter jet accidentally fires missile over Estonia – CNN
A Spanish fighter jet accidentally fired an air-to-air missile while flying over Estonia during an air-policing mission, a NATO official told CNN.
A Spanish fighter jet accidentally fired a missile near the border with Russia — and they still can’t find it | Business Insider
A Spanish air force Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet accidentally fired an air-to-air missile during an a routine training exercise over southeast Estonia on Tuesday afternoon, and authorities have not been able to locate the missile or what is left of it.
Russia’s Strategy of Destabilization in Montenegro – To Inform is to Influence
Case study how Russia attempted and failed to destabilize Montenegro.   </end editorial> Russian influence in Montenegro: disinformation, threats and attempted regime change By EU vs Disinfo A recent debate about Montenegro’s NATO membership has put the spotlight on this Western Balkan country. But it is not the first time that it has been at the centre…
U.S. Officials Scrambled Behind the Scenes to Shield NATO Deal From Trump – The New York Times
John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, pushed NATO ambassadors to finish a critical policy document before the alliance’s summit meeting last month so the president could not reject it.
Trump Aides Secretly Worked to Keep Him From Blowing Up NATO
National security adviser John Bolton reportedly demanded that the latest NATO agreement be hammered out before July’s summit, so Trump couldn’t derail it. It’s the latest example of Trump’s staff managing him, but they can’t keep it up forever.
Officials reportedly worked behind Trump’s back to get NATO agreement done before his arrival
Official site of The Week Magazine, offering commentary and analysis of the day’s breaking news and current events as well as arts, entertainment, people and gossip, and political cartoons.
Security Team Scrambled To Finish NATO Deal Away From Trump After G7 Disaster – Talking Points Memo
NATO ‘Encirclement’ May Be Creating a New Crisis with Russia | The National Interest
NATO expansion has fueled some of Russia’s worst fears . . . and impulses. What happens now?
NATO Is More Than a Military Alliance so Don’t Treat It as One | The National Interest
The thinking on NATO is out-of-date and so is the insistence on spending more on conventional military hardware in Europe.
Russia Is Slowly Declining As a Space Superpower – Defense One
The first country to launch a satellite is losing its space advantage to leakers, competitors like SpaceX, and most importantly to China.

Russia / Russophone Reports

 


 

The Week In Russia: Sanctions, Seagal, and Sentsov
Weeks after the first summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. officials announced a fresh volley of sanctions against Russia and warned that more may b…
Russia, China Block U.S. Bid To Blacklist Moscow Bank At UN
Russia and China have blocked a U.S. proposal to add a Russian bank and Moscow-based North Korean banker to a UN blacklist, UN diplomats have said.
UAWire – Kremlin admits Russia cut off from modern oil extraction technologies
The West’s sanctions against Russian mining companies have been creating “serious problems” for Russian oil and gas extraction companies, who …
UAWire – Media: Russian journalists killed in Central Africa found informant through Putin’s associate’s company
Kirill Romanovsky, a journalist of the Russian Federal News Agency RIA FAN introduced Alexander Rastorguyev to a “fixer” in the Central African …
Putin Signs Measure To Raise Russia’s VAT
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a measure that will increase the country’s value-added tax (VAT) from 18 to 20 percent as of January 1, 2019.
Not So United: Russia’s Ruling Party Rattled By Pension-Reform Crisis
Ninety percent of Russians oppose the Kremlin’s plan to raise retirement ages. And now some regional activists of the ruling United Russia party are handing in their party cards and joining the ran…
Navalny Calls For Mass Rallies Against Pension Reform
Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny has called for mass demonstrations across Russia next month against an unpopular government plan to raise the retirement age.
Moscow Office Of Open Russia Movement Searched By Police
The Moscow office of the Open Russia civic movement established by exiled former tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky was searched by the police on August 9, the group has said.
Russia’s Rusal Says Sanctions Forcing Shutdown Of Plant Catering To U.S. Customers
Russian aluminum giant Rusal says U.S. sanctions are forcing it to shut down one of its smaller plants which catered to U.S. customers and find new jobs for hundreds of the plant’s workers.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russian Governors to Putin – ‘We’re No Worse than Kadyrov, and We Need Money Too’
Paul Goble Staunton, August 6 – Vladimir Putin’s continuing willingness to pay enormous tribute to Ramzan Kadyrov for pacifying Chechnya and performing other services for the Kremlin leader is beginning to backfire with ever more Russian governors insisting that “we are no worse than Kadyrov and we need trillions of rubles as well.” On the Svobodnaya pressa portal, Moscow commentator Anton Chablin says that the Kremlin’s willingness to support Kadyrov’s latest demand for the construction of a high-speed train line that would end in Grozny has made its refusal to support projects in Russian areas especially infuriating (svpressa.ru/economy/article/207038/). Why at a time of budgetary stringency should Chechnya get such enormous amounts of money while others can’t get anything at all? Chablin lists projects from one end of Russia to the other that have either been rejected, put on hold or cut back even as Putin spends more and more on Chechnya and the North Caucasus more generally. Unfortunately, experts say, the kind of projects Chechnya is getting and the others are not are not what Russia needs. They will at best provide a short-term stimulus to the regions involved, Sergey Zhavoronkov of the Institute for Economic Policy. They will not provide the basis for long-term. That critique has been heard before. What is new is the rising tide of anger about Chechnya getting what it wants when Russian regions aren’t getting anything at all. They are told they must do without because of a tight budget and they want to know why Chechnya isn’t being told the same thing. In reposting Chablin’s article, one VKontakte group puts up two pictures, one of the beautiful home of a Chechen official that was obviously rebuilt with Russian money and the other of a disintegrating building that is the house museum of Immanuel Kant in Kaliningrad (vk.com/politicalelite?w=wall-123916919_111360). The group concludes that these pictures show “all that one needs to know about the priorities of Russia” – or at least the priorities of the ruling group of Putin and Kadyrov.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russian Expats Becoming Part of Greater China, Beijing Paper Says
Paul Goble Staunton, August 6 – Russians from Siberia and elsewhere are flocking to China where salaries are three to five times higher than they are in the Russian Federation (newizv.ru/news/society/23-07-2018/sibirskie-uchitelya-vyrvalis-iz-nischety-v-kitay), and join other Russians to become “part of our Greater China,” a Beijing newspaper says. Russians have been living in China since before Soviet times, and many of them, Toutiao reports, have become an ethnic minority within the family of nationalities which form the population of China (toutiao.com/a6577580769818968590/; translated into Russian are inosmi.ru/social/20180804/242828091.html). The older Russian minority in China now numbers “fewer than 20,000 people,” the paper says. “They speak Russian and still use the Cyrillic alphabet.” But they have become very loyal Chinese as well, defending the country when needed and supporting China even against Russia, Toutiao says. When asked what they think about Russia, the ethnic Russian minority of China gives an answer that makes all Chinese proud: “’We are Chinese,’” its members say. And despite the fact that they look and act in other ways like their co-ethnics in China, they insist that “they are not foreigners but Chinese.” This is obviously not a trend the Russia of Vladimir Putin is interested in highlighting not only because it shows that linguistic and cultural survival does not mean the retention of political loyalties but also because is indicates that even China with its radically different culture can win the loyalty of ethnic Russians on its territory.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin’s Latest ‘Import Substitution’ – Pensioners from Abroad Instead of Pensioners from Russia
Paul Goble Staunton, August 6 – Vladimir Putin’s pension reform has taken on a whole new dimension, Igor Yakovenko says. Because few Russians will live to pension age if the Kremlin gets its way and boosts retirement ages, the Russian government has begun to “import pensioners from the West.” This process began in 2013 when Putin gave Russian citizenship to Gerard Depardieu “instantly” upon being asked, a status ethnic Russian refugees from Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and elsewhere have sought for years, the Moscow commentator says, almost tongue in cheek (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5B6718EC8213F). After Putin’s action, the Mordvinians gave him a home, the Udmurts made the French actor “’an honorary Udmurt,” and Chechnya made him an honorary citizen of Chechnya and gave him the keys to a five-room apartment in Grozny. Depardieu in response constantly said that he “very much loves Russia.” But then he took his keys and “went to live in the south of Belgium and declared that in the future he would live in Algeria. In making these latest declarations, the French actor said not a word about his time in Russia. Despite that, Putin more recently not only gave Steve Siegel Russian citizenship but gave him a job in the Russian foreign ministry as special representative for Russian-American cultural-humanitarian relations. Siegel at 66 is a pensioner even under the proposed Russian rules, “but he is full of energy and has a good memory.” “Suddenly,” Yakovenko says, Siegel “began to recall his Buryat or Mongol roots.” He announced that he recalls a picture of his ancestors sitting in Mongol clothes. “Possibly, Steven Siegel doesn’t know that Mongolia is another country.” Perhaps the foreign ministry’s Maria Zakharova explained that to him. Certainly “Putin’s militant Buryat” sounds better. “The idea of pensioner import substitution is extremely important and with real prospects,” Yakovenko says. The only mistake the Russian foreign ministry has made in this case is forgetting that the real representatives of Moscow’s public diplomacy aren’t old actors but the private military companies like the Vagner group. Of course, even Siegel, not to mention the West, will understand that soon enough.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Memorial Says Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russian Jails are Political Prisoners
Paul Goble Staunton, August 6 – The Memorial Human Rights Center says that the more than 29 Jehovah’s Witnesses now in preliminary detention or under house arrest in the Russian Federation are political prisoners because the charges against them have been fabricated by the government. “We do not use the term ‘prisoner of conscience’” which International Amnesty does, but it precisely conveys the essence of the case: they are being persecuted exclusively and immediately for their faith and convictions, for the realization of their rights to freedom of conscience and convictions which are guaranteed both by the Constitution and international norms,” Memorial says (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5B66F9821E17B). “The decision of the Supreme Court about the ban on the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the recognition of their organization as extremist does not withstand any criticism. It is in fact based on previous decisions of various district courts in the course of recent years which have more than one recognized printed materials of this church as extremist,” the group says. And these decisions in turn, the SOVA Human Rights Center adds, are in every case based on hireling experts who say whatever the authorities want said without any regard for the truth. In reporting this, human rights activist Sergey Davidis observes that he “does not understand the logic and meaning of this persecution. Its illegality is obvious, but many are persecuted illegally in [Russia]. In the majority of cases, however, it is clear why this is being done and what profit those who engage in it receive.” But “in the case of the persecution of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, whatever the hypothetical gains of the authorities might be … they are exceeded many times over by the real attacks on the reputation [of the country and its government,] losses which in turn will only grow over time.” In this situation, one can only call for “freeing the political prisoners,” he says.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Ethnic-Based Units in Soviet Army in World War II Far Less Effective than Moscow Often Claims
Paul Goble Staunton, August 5 – Because non-Russians form an increasing share of the Russian armed services, ever more of them and of Russians as well are looking back to the times when the Soviet government formed military units along nationality lines, less in the chaotic days of the Civil War than during World War II. These units in many cases, however, existed more on paper than in reality, historian Aleksandr Brazhnik writes; and consequently, their celebration as possible models for the future should be treated more skeptically than is all too often the case, especially among non-Russians (russian7.ru/post/kak-srazhalis-sovetskie-nacionalny/). There were nationality-based units in the Soviet military until 1938 when Moscow banned them because of its conviction that advances in military technology made a unitary approach necessary. But three years later, in the wake of the German invasion, the Soviet government changed its mind, and formed 66 national military units, half of whom saw combat. In November 1941, the Defense Committee of the USSR called for the formation of national cavalry divisions consisting of volunteers from Central Asia, Kalmykia, Bashkiria, the Cossack regions and the North Caucasus. It was planned to establish 19 such divisions, but only six were created: the Tajik, Turkmen, Uzbek, Kalmyk, Bashkir and Kabardino-Balkarian. There simply weren’t enough men from the others who knew Russian, and some Soviet commanders felt that many of these people lacked military spirit. At the end of 1942, Moscow ended the draft among North Caucasians and the formation of national units from that region was stopped. Many of the national units were deployed in the rear to guard key installations. One prominent exception was the Kalmyk units which were sent to fight in various fronts. “Part of the national subdivisions existed only on paper.” That is, they were called national units but were filled overwhelmingly by Russians either from the outset or after heavy losses. According to Brazhnik, “the only subdivision of the Red Army which over the course of the war preserved its ethnic composition was the 88th separate Chinese rifle brigade; But it fought against the Japanese and only in August-September 1945.” The numerically small peoples of the North and Siberia were not drafted, but some of their volunteers achieved distinction as snipers. But according to the historian, many of them didn’t understand the nature of the ideological struggle between communism and Nazism and thus were less reliable than might otherwise have been the case.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Regime Restrains Anti-Semitic Actions but Not Anti-Semitic Propaganda, Shnirelman Says
Paul Goble Staunton, August 4 – Viktor Shnirelman, an anthropologist who has specialized on anti-Semitism in Russia for 25 years, says that the Putin regime has restrained anti-Semitic actions but not anti-Semitic propaganda, an indication that it retains the image of the Jew as enemy of Russia and will keep that in reserve until the need to use it arises. That conclusion is offered in his new book, Three Myths about a Conspiracy: Anti-Semitic Propaganda in Contemporary Russia (in Russian, Moscow: Academia, 2017, 390 pages), that has been reviewed by Svetlana Solodvnik for Yezhednevny zhurnal (ej.ru/?a=note&id=32763). In this book, she says, Shnirelman notes that “the beginning of the 21st century in Russia has been characterized by an unprecedented upsurge of xenophobia. Xenophobia in these attitudes clearly gives pride of place to gastarbeiters; but it has a more developed ideological foundation” which in many cases relies on myths historically applied by anti-Semites to Jews. Three of these “xenophobic myths” are especially popular, the anthropologist says: the myth of the anti-Christ against whom all good people must struggle, the myth of the Aryan nation, and the myth of the Khazars. Solodovnik provides brief summaries of his arguments in each case. The myth of the anti-Christ goes back to early Christian times and has been typically but not always associated with the Jews. Since the end of Soviet times, this myth, often spread by republication of the notorious forgery “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” has been especially widespread in discussions among extreme Russian nationalists. Fortunately, Shnirelman says, this propaganda has not attracted much of a following in the Russian population; but the ideas remain widely available and could spread under certain conditions. The myth of the Aryan nation is typically associated with the Nazis who viewed the Germans as the true Aryans. But among Russian nationalists over the last 150 years and especially in recent decades, Shnirelman says, there are many who argue that Russia is the true Aryan nation, especially now after becoming more northern after losing its south in 1991. “Today, ‘the Aryan myth’ is directly connected with identity,” Shnirelman says, allowing people to believe in their own greatness however bad conditions are at present by postulating the existence of a perfect ancestral background. But the third myth, that of the Khazars, is especially powerful in Russian nationalist discourse, the anthropologist says. The Khazars have been praised at some points for allowing the Russian nation to emerge and condemned at others for becoming a Jewish state that threatened Russia’s very existence. The latter view is more commonly held now. But the most intriguing if most absurd evolution of the use of the Khazar myth came after the Maidan in Ukraine. Then, some Russian nationalists began to argue that Ukraine was the “New Khazaria” and as such a mortal threat to the continued existence of Russia and Russians as such. Likely as a result of pressure from above, that idea has lost currency more recently.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: As a Result of Moscow’s Policies, a Third of Russia’s Poor are Children Under 16
Paul Goble Staunton, August 3 – A third of those in Russia classified as poor are children under the age of 16, a dramatic increase of 25 percent in the last decade and the direct result of government policies which have pushed more children into poverty, according to Anastasiya Baskatova of Nezavisimaya gazeta (ng.ru/economics/2018-08-01/2_7279_bednost.html). “Poverty among children has become a systemic problem,” one that the authorities have helped to create by their specific policies which focus mostly on preventing poverty among the elderly and that is likely to get worse in the future as the country fails to achieve the amount of economic growth needed to lessen this plague, the economic journalist says. According to a new study by the Higher School of Economics, “more than 60 percent of the poor in Russia are families with children.” In fact, since the early 1990s, hildren have become 1.52 times more likely than Russians as a whole to fall into poverty and to remain there for long periods of time. Liliiya Ovcharova, one of the authors of the study, argues that “the increase of the fraction of children among the poor is connected with the fact that in Russia, social programs directed at fighting poverty re directed primarily in support of the elderly” even as many of the programs that existed in Soviet times to help children have been cut back or eliminated. Vladimir Putin’s May decrees do nothing to address this, Ovcharova says, or they are based on assumptions that cannot possibly be realized. For example, to cut poverty by half would require economic growth of at least eight percent a year while no one thinks the Russian economy can grow by more than four, even under the best of conditions. The main conclusion of the Higher School of Economics report is that there is “a very high degree of probability” that poverty among children is something that is going to be around for a very long time and may get worse before there is any chance that it will get better. There are things the government could do but it has chosen not to – and is unlikely to change.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Duma Plan to Target Shadow Business will Anger Many and Achieve Little, Experts Say
Paul Goble Staunton, August 3 – Even as protests against raising retirement ages continue and some suggest this Putin move recalls Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol campaign in terms of how it is undermining the regime (publizist.ru/blogs/34/26272/-), Moscow appears ready to adopt yet another measure that will infuriate the population without achieving what its authors hope for. A group of United Russia Duma deputies has come up with draft legislation that will increase fines by 40 times on those engaged in illegal entrepreneurial activity, that is, on those who fail to register their actions with the state and thus avoid paying taxes or living by the rules (profile.ru/economics/item/126445-v-pogone-za-tenyu). United Russia leaders have approved the idea but suggested that the amount of increase in the size of fines should be reduced. But both representatives of other parties in the Duma and independent experts say that this move will not lead to massive registration or any windfall for the government in terms of revenue, Igor Naumov of the Profile portal reports. According to recent studies, more than 14.6 million Russians over the age of 15 work in the “informal” or “shadow” sector – or just over 20 percent of all the employed population. And because many work part time in this sector, as many as 33 million Russians, 44.8 percent of all employed, are part of it as well. These numbers have all been rising, Andrey Nazarov of Delovaya Rossiya says, even though conditions for conducting business in Russia have been improving. The reason people don’t register is fear of government supervision and control and the burden taxes and reporting requirements impose on their activities. The current size of fines for this type of economic activity mean that many simply ignore them or treat them as a cost of doing business, one far lower than they would have to pay if they were operating in compliance with the state. But raising these fines will do little to end the problems the state has with the biggest offenders, experts say. The Russian shadow economy forms 39 percent of the country’s GDP, but it is not one thing but rather several and approaching all of them in the same way will not work. According to Aleksey Kalachev of FINAM, the authorities need to recognize this and devise different approaches to different aspects of the problem. Truly criminal activity will never be registered by anyone no matter how high the fines are, he says; and what many call “the garage economy,” while it involves many people who are engaged in relatively small but economically important activities. Moreover, its suppression would beyond question trigger popular anger and possibly protests. Between these two are firms that don’t register and might do so to avoid higher fines. But the largest of them won’t because they will treat any fines as a cost of doing business or seek to avoid paying them by the use of their relationships with the authorities. In any case, Kalachev says, the total value of these firms is far smaller than many imagine. What needs to be done instead of a one-size-fits-all fine regime, the economic analyst argues, is to change the registration requirements to make it easier for individuals to register and report their incomes combined and combine that with better enforcement of existing laws governing truly illegal economic operations.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Despite World Cup, Russia Remains ‘Land of Racism Triumphant,’ Voronkov Says
Paul Goble Staunton, August 2 – Russian media claims notwithstanding, the recent World Cup competition did nothing to disprove the fact that Russia very much remains “a land of racism triumphant” because if the foreigners in the games instead had come to work alongside Russians in normal times, they would be tweeted exactly like Tajiks, Viktor Voronkov says Voronkov, the director of the Moscow Center for Independent Sociological Research, attracted attention several years ago for making that charge; and he has now been challenged to defend it by Anastasiya Belyayeva of St. Petersburg’s Gorod-812 news agency (gorod-812.ru/patriotizm-rasizm-na-moy-vzglyad-odno-zhe/). The World Cup did not show that Russians are not racists, the sociologist insists. “If the very same Brazilians came to work as janitors for us, they wouldn’t do well but rather become ‘Tajiks.’ The World Cup had the atmosphere of a holiday.” And those foreigners present at a holiday are treated differently than those around every day, Voronkov continues. The average Russian goes into some “Georgian or Azerbaijani café and this exoticism very much pleases him. But when [he] encounters the same Georgia or Azerbaijani on the street, they can elicit hostility.” Similarly, “when we go to Brazil, it all looks very interesting, but when Brazilians come to us, there must be the special conditions” for Russians to see them positively. “Racism,” Voronkov continues, “consists in that e in principle distinguish some people from others and divide them by nationality or race. If a girl becomes acquainted with a guy, why is it important to us that he is a Brazilian or a Russian? She has just gotten acquainted with a guy whom she likes.” Anyone who challenges that is displaying a form of racism. He continues: “Racism is a general term which includes in itself sexism, homophobia, and even look-ism. Look-ism is the division of people on the basis of appearances. If with the construction of gender and race, everything is clear to me, with look-ism, I cannot do anything from the inside: some look better and others don’t.” “In Russia,” Voronkov says, “despite all the talk about friendship of the peoples, we are directed toward the idea that all people must be the same. We devote very little of our attention to the fact that some people are different and will never be the same as we are – and what is most important that they do not become worse as a result.” With regard to Russia in particular, the sociologist argues, “here many are infected with the Stalinist idea of patriotism. Patriotism in the Russian version is good to the extent it leads to thoughts that we are a power, we are a state, we are the authorities, and we are around Putin. That is, in Russia, patriotism is great power and imperial oriented.” “This is not love to the motherland but to the greatness of power,” he says. “But I love not an abstract ‘big motherland’ but a specifically concrete small one. I like the southern part of the Petrograd side. This is my motherland. Someone else loves his village and a nearby river because he was born there. Such local patriotism harms no one.” “But patriotism which is promoted by the state … is not love to the motherland but a mobilization of the people around the authorities. However, even many liberals today attempt to explain their patriotism by saying that it is healthy. But patriotism at the level of the state is always bad.” The only healthy patriotism, Voronkov insists, is either local or cosmopolitan. Asked about the situation in Finland, the sociologist says there the country is small and that it is completely possible to love it all as “a small motherland.” Moreover, it has a democratic state which obeys its own laws and thus is worthy of affection as well. The patriotism if the Finns is based on democracy. In Russia, people want to rely on Orthodoxy. According to Voronkov, “’state’ patriotism will in the foreseeable future disappear everywhere. National states will lose their definiteness. Many people today feel themselves to be Europeans rather than Finns or Germans. Very soon the era of nation states will pass; and then it is uncertain what patriotism will support. I think it will regionalize,” the scholar says. Asked whether this will not lead to “a crisis of cultural identity,” Voronkov replies that why should it be necessary to identify with a state in order to identify with a culture. The Americans find no difficulty in having a culture based on the English language even though they are not part of England. “But with us in Russia, everything becomes political, including culture. Cultural action becomes political. In it, on the one hand, the authorities look for extremism and on the other, people express their negative attitude toward Putin because there are no other means of expressing opposition attitudes,” the sociologist concludes.
Macron To Discuss Hunger Striking Inmate Sentsov’s Plight With Putin
French President Emmanuel Macron’s office says he is due to discuss the plight of Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov, who has been on a hunger strike in a Russian prison for nearly three months, with…
‘Release Sentsov’ Banner Displayed In Moscow Amid Reports Hunger Striker’s Health Worsening
A large banner demanding immediate release of hunger-striking Ukrainian film-maker Oleh Sentsov and other political prisoners in Russia has been displayed in downtown Moscow.
Eighteen Killed In Russian Helicopter Crash
Russian authorities say 18 people were killed when a Russian helicopter crashed after a mid-air collision in Siberia.
Chechen Man Convicted Of Killing Notorious Russian Colonel Dies In Siberian Prison
Yusup Temerkhanov, a Chechen man who was convicted in the high-profile murder of former Russian Army Colonel Yury Budanov, has died while serving his sentence in a penal colony in Siberia, his lawy…
Pussy Riot Member Alyokhina ‘Barred From Leaving Russia’
A member of the Russian punk protest band Pussy Riot has been barred from leaving Russia, a colleague says.
Pussy Riot’s Alyokhina Defies ‘Ban’ On Leaving Russia
A member of the Russian punk protest collective Pussy Riot managed to travel from Moscow to Britain, defying what the group said was an order prohibiting her from leaving the country.
Crimean Tatar Sets Himself On Fire To Protest Building Development
A Crimean Tatar activist set himself on fire to protest a plan by Russia-imposed authorities to build a new apartment complex on Tatar land in the Crimean capital, Simferopol. Vatan Karabash doused himself with gasoline on August 3 and set himself alight. People nearby quickly extinguished the flames and Karabash did not appear to suffer life-threatening burns. Local Crimean Tatars fear their homes will be demolished for a new district that will contain apartment units for 9,000 families. WARNING: Disturbing images
Kremlin plans to turn annexed Crimea into cultural capital – Channel NewsAsia
Six masterpieces from Russia’s top art galleries and museums will be moved to Crimea to be housed in a new cultural centre on the peninsula, …
Reports: Russian Businessman Targeted In Bombing Attack In Bishkek
A Russian businessman has been targeted in a bombing attack in Bishkek, police sources in the Kyrgyz capital say.
Leader Of ‘Shaltai-Boltai’ Hacking Group Released From Russian Jail
The leader of a group believed to be behind the hacking of high-profile accounts including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s feed has been released from jail.
Man Convicted Of Killing Notorious Russian Colonel Buried In Chechnya
Thousands of people have gathered in the Chechen village of Geldagen for the burial of Yusup Temerkhanov, a native of the village who died on August 3 in a Russian prison while serving a 15-year se…
Another Russian Faces Criminal Probe Over Social-Media Memes
Russian authorities are investigating a man for social-media memes that allegedly contain hate speech and insult religious believers, the latest in a spate of such cases to emerge in the Siberian c…
Russian LGBT Activists Detained In St. Petersburg
Russian police have detained around 30 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights activists who took part in an unsanctioned rally in St. Petersburg. Several dozen activists gathered at the city’s Palace Square holding rainbow flags and placards on August 4. Russia passed a law in 2013 banning the spread of gay “propaganda.”
Russian LGBT Activists Detained In St. Petersburg
Russian police detained have detained around 30 LGBT rights activists who took part in an unsanctioned rally in St. Petersburg.
Russian Woman Faces Prison Over ‘Insulting Religious Feelings’
A Russian woman has gone on trial over social-media memes that prosecutors allege contained hate speech and insulted religious believers.
Fourth Resident Of Russia’s Altai Charged With Social-Media Extremism
A fourth resident of Russia’s Altai region in Siberia has been charged with inciting hatred via posts on the Internet.
Moscow Expels Greek Diplomats In Tit-For-Tat Move
Russia says it has summoned Greece’s ambassador to Moscow to inform him of “reciprocal measures” after Athens’s expulsion of two Russian diplomats last month over allegations of meddling with its r…
Ukrainian Ombudswoman Says ‘Rapid Actions Needed’ To Save Sentsov
Ukrainian Ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova says “rapid actions” are needed to save the life of Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov, who has been on a hunger strike in a Russian prison for nearly three months.
Four Gang Members Convicted Of Highway Killings In Moscow Get Life In Prison
Four members of a notorious gang convicted of highway killings and robberies in Moscow have been sentenced to life in prison.
Two Inmates Found Dead In Siberian Prison Where Guards Were Accused Of Torture
Two inmates have been found dead in a penal colony in Russia’s Siberian region of Zabaikalye, where guards have been previously accused of torturing inmates.
Show Me The Money: We’re Still Waiting For Our Wages, Say World Cup Workers
Hosting the 2018 World Cup cost Russia billions. But unpaid workers at one of its new stadiums say that wasn’t quite enough.
Russian school principal is fired after refusing to single out parents with unpaid utility bills — Meduza
A school outside Chelyabinsk has fired its director after she refused to sit down with students’ parents and lecture them about their unpaid utility bills. According to local journalists, the town’s education officials sent school director Natalia Matveyeva an email with a spreadsheet listing individuals with outstanding utility debts, ordering her to find the names of any students’ parents and summon them for “explanatory meetings.” She said no, arguing that such behavior would violate her relationship with parents.
U.S. Citizen In Small Boat Washes Up In Russia’s Far East
A U.S. citizen has been detained in Russia’s Far Eastern region of Chukotka after apparently accidentally sailing across the Bering Sea in a small boat.

 

Central Asia / Caucasus Reports


 

Stephen Blank | As Kazakhstan Asserts Its Independence, How Will Russia React?
Editor’s Note: A version of this article was originally published by The Interpreter, which is published by the Lowy Institute, an independent,
Convention On Caspian Sea’s Legal Status To Be Signed On August 12, Kremlin Says
The Kremlin says that, after more than two decades of negotiations, leaders of the five Caspian Sea countries will sign a convention on the resource-rich sea’s legal status at a summit in the Kazakh port city of Aqtau on August 12.
The Russia-Georgia War: Not Frozen and Not Forgotten – To Inform is to Influence

All my friends and acquaintances from Georgia were angered and distraught over the tenth anniversary of the Russian occupation of South Ossetia.  The date 08.08.08 is an especially powerful reminder to them of Russian aggression. Ten years later and Russia continues a creeping advance along the border, literally moving fences deeper into Georgian territory. Ten…

 

Georgian President Honors Fallen Soldiers From 2008 War With Russia
Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili laid a wreath at a ceremony to honor fallen soldiers in the brief war with Russia 10 years ago. He offered condolences on August 8 to family members at the Mukhatgverdi military cemetery north of the capital, Tbilisi. Conflict broke out between Russia and Georgia on the night of August 7, 2008, in the separatist region of South Ossetia, with each side accusing the other of starting the hostilities. Hundreds died and thousands were displaced during the five-day war which ended with a European Union-brokered peace agreement in the former Soviet republic.
Displaced And Disconnected: Georgians Lament Legacy Of War With Russia
A decade after Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war over two breakaway regions, Georgians like Nana, Marina, and David still live with its devastating consequences.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘This isn’t Corruption, Sir; This is Kleptocracy’ — Why Moscow is So Angry at Yerevan
Paul Goble Staunton, August 5 – In 1789, the Duke of Liancourt told Louis XVI that what the French king faced was “not a mutiny, Sire, but a revolution.” So too today, Armenian leader Nikol Pashinyan is moving against not corruption in the Western sense but against kleptocracy in which corruption is not a partial evil but the essence of the system. And that distinction, one that is all too often “lost in translation,” Yerevan commentator Tigran Khzmalyan says, is the main reason behind Vladimir Putin’s anger about what is going on in Armenia today: It is not an attack on this or that corrupt figure but on the system on which the Kremlin leader operates (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5B65D93E8E633). As such, what Pashinyan is doing is for Putin even more of a threat than the declarations of leaders of other post-Soviet states that they want to reorient themselves away from Moscow toward the West because it is that and an attack on the kleptocratic principle that Putin has enshrined as the basis of his rule. “Corruption in the Western understanding is unacceptable and dangerous thing but only PART of the socio-political system,” Khzmalyan points out. It can be more or less widespread depending on circumstances; but it is never the defining feature of the system. Instead, it is viewed as a danger to it. But “in totalitarian societies of the Asian type,” societies like those in Putin’s Russia and its satellites, “everything is different. Corruption there is so different that even to call it by the same word is an enormous and fatal mistake, a mistake which leads to the substitution of concepts” and makes clarification of the truth impossible. Indeed, “in Russia and its satellites, there is no corruption. More precisely, there is no corruption there in the Western understanding of the word, as a separate phenomenon reflecting the group interests of one part of society set in opposition to the state as a whole,” Khzmalyan says. Instead, “corruption” is the essence of these states. Because that is the case, the Armenian analyst continues, Russian Duma deputies like Mizulina, Markov and Yarovaya are “absolutely right when they openly and sincerely declare that the struggle with corruption is an attack on the sovereignty of Russia.” “In Russia and in a large portion of its former possessions, corruption is the main state-forming principle, the basic method of the existence, preservation and transfer of power. Thus, the word ‘corruption’ absolutely loses its original meaning and must be replaced by another non-Latin but Greek term – kleptocracy, the rule of thieves.” Under their rule, “corruption is practically non-existent because the essence of these systems is corruption. More precisely, in such systems, there is nothing except corruption.” “That is why any real struggle with corruption immediately is transformed into a struggle for power in the state and into a struggle for the very existence of the state,” Khzmalyan says. That is what Mikael Saakashvili did in Georgia: “he struggle not with corruption but with kleptocracy” – he almost succeeded and was attacked by Russia for that Pashinyan is now trying to do the same thing in Armenia, the analyst continues. “The arrest of Robert Kocharyan, the second president of the republic, is only formally connected with his criminal secret order 0038 of February 23, 2008 to direct the army against the people in violation of the constitution.” Instead, the case against him is far larger because Kocharyan “was defending not just his own power but the very existence of the kleptocratic system which he created over the course of the ten years he was in office” and which was the basis of his ties with Putin in Moscow. All this will come out at his trial – and that is why the Kremlin is so angry. “The nervous reaction of Moscow to the arrests in Yerevan is understandable. ‘This isn’t Georgia, this isn’t Ukraine, this is Armenia,’ Pashinyan said at the end of April. ‘This isn’t a Maidan, this isn’t Saakashvili, this is ours,’ his words were translated for Putin in the Kremlin.” And that makes what the Armenian leader is doing even more disturbing for the Russian leader. Pashinyan, Khzmalyan argues, is not declaring that he is trying to take Armenia to the West: he is simply working to “destroy Asia in Armenia,” and that makes him doubly dangerous because “the struggle with corruption in this part of the world can only be a struggle with the kleptocracy. Everything else is simply tilting at windmills.”
Azerbaijan: A River Of Illegal Drugs Runs Through It
A small district along Azerbaijan’s southern border with Iran is feeling the ill effects of being along one of the world’s major drug-trade routes.
Assassination attempt and protest send warning to Azerbaijan’s rulers | Reuters
An assassination attempt and protest in Azerbaijan’s second city have sent a warning to the ruling elite that discontent is simmering in the tightly controlled, oil-producing state.
A Landmark Caspian Agreement — And What It Resolves
The leaders of Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan meet in the Kazakh port city of Aqtau this weekend. Many observers expect them to sign a long-awaited agreement to resolve territorial questions about the Caspian Sea and possibly clear the way for the export of enormous amounts of oil and natural gas. (The views expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect those of RFE/RL.)

 

Belarus Reports

 


 

UAWire – Russia prepares to close the border with Belarus to foreign transport
Russia intends to change the border-crossing rules for long-distance truck drivers of the third countries entering its territory from Belarus, …
Belarus Detains 18 Journalists in Raids at Independent Outlets – The New York Times
Officials from the Investigative Committee searched the offices of three news organizations, raising fears of a crackdown on dissent.
More Belarusian Journalists Detained As Media Crackdown Widens
A local correspondent for German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle has been detained in Belarus on suspicion of obtaining information illegally from the state-run news agency, BelTA, amid wh…
Five Belarusian Journalists Remain In Custody After Police Raids
More journalists have been detained for questioning in Belarus for allegedly obtaining information illegally from the state-run news agency, BelTA, amid what appears to be a widening crackdown on i…
Belarusian Lockdown: Independent Journalists Decry Wave Of Arrests
Journalist Tatsyana Karavyankova was taken into custody by Belarusian police on August 7 in what analysts say is part of an attempt by Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to silence critics …
Belarusian Authorities Raid Offices Of Independent Media, Detain Three Journalists
Belarusian authorities have raided the Minsk offices of two independent news outlets and detained three journalists, claiming they illegally obtained information from a state-run news agency.
Belarus Claims It Freed Detained Journalists, But Some Still In Custody
Belarusian state investigators claimed late on August 9 that they had released all journalists detained this week on suspicion of hacking the computer systems of state-run news agency BelTA, but so…
Belarusian Nobel Laureate Alexievich Cancels Event In Ukraine Amid Threats
Belarusian writer and Nobel Literature Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich says she has canceled her meeting with readers in the Ukrainian city of Odesa amid threats.
Belarusian government significantly increased the length of time that visitors from a list of 80 foreign countries could remain in Belarus visa-free – Belarus opening up to the World Amidst Russian Accusations of Disloyalty – 112.international
On July 24, the Belarusian government significantly increased the length of time that visitors from a list of 80 foreign countries could remain in Belarus visa-free. The period was extended from 5 to 30 days (Belta, July 24). The five-day timeframe was introduced in February 2017. And by some accounts, 100,000 or 20 percent more people visited Belarus over the subsequent 12-month interval, year-on-year (Deutsche Welle—Russian service, February 12). As under the previous five-day visa-free regime, travelers looking to take advantage of the 30-day visa-free stay must arrive in and leave Belarus through the same port of entry/exit—namely, Minsk International Airport. It is uncertain whether this latest decision was cleared by Russia. The border between Russia and Belarus is transparent. But when Minsk announced its initial visa-free travel decision in February 2017, Moscow introduced border controls with Belarus for citizens of third countries traveling to Russia along major highways. Additionally, flights from Belarusian airports to Russia were reassigned to international terminals of Russian airports; previously, those travelers disembarked at domestic terminals. Interestingly, Belarus did not take reciprocal steps. When, in early summer, this author went to the security check for international departures with a boarding pass for a Minsk–St. Petersburg flight, a Belarusian airport clerk explicitly said, “You are flying to Russia, yes? But this is the security check for international flights.” In any case, controls may only be selective: one may continue to cross the Belarusian-Russian border unfettered along secondary (including unpaved) roads via multiple modes of transport, including by bicycle and, of course, on foot.
Investigation Committee continues searching Tut.by office, 112.international – 112.international
Investigation Committee continues conducting searches of journalists in Belarus – the search in Tut.by office is over, yet the officers of the Investigation Committee started searches in other subdivision of the company, as Tut.by reports. “As at 8 am on Wednesday, the search of the editors’ office was over, but it is underway in other subdivisions of the company,” Tut.by informs. Radio Liberty reported that the search takes place on the 8th floor, where the office of hoster.by, a huge Internet service provider, is located. It serves more than 60% of the Belarusian websites. Since 2012, hoster.by is a technical administrator of the national domain extensions .by and .BEL. It should be noted that hoster.by is an enterprise of Tut.by founder – Yury Ziser.
Three Belarusian Sergeants Go On Trial Over Death Of Conscript Who Complained Of Hazing
Three Belarusian Army sergeants have gone on trial over the suspicious death of young conscript, Alyaksandr Korzhych, in October.
Batty In Belarus – Researching Europe’s Biggest Bat
Researchers in Belarus are trying to learn more about a rare bat that hunts birds in flight.

Transnistria / Moldova Reports

 


 

Kremlin Playbook Spotlight: Moldova – To Inform is to Influence
Thank you to CSIS for this wonderful little article. I apologize for not picking this up before. Thank you to David Hunt for the reminder. </end editorial>

 


 

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports

 


 

War Without End – The New York Times
The Pentagon’s failed campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan left a generation of soldiers with little to fight for but one another.
Afghan suicide bomber kills Czech Nato soldiers – BBC News
The three soldiers were targeted while on a foot patrol in eastern Afghanistan.
Attack by Taliban kills 3 Czech NATO soldiers in Afghanistan; one American wounded | Fox News
Three NATO-affiliated troops were killed early Sunday morning in a suicide attack during a routine security patrol on foot outside a large U.S. air base in Afghanistan.


Bin Laden’s mother breaks her long silence – CNN
Peter Bergen says the Guardian’s interview with Osama bin Laden’s mother, Ali Ghanem, is noteworthy because bin Laden, the architect of the 9/11 terror attacks, and his mother were exceptionally close.
Osama Bin Laden’s son apparently married 9/11 hijacker’s daughter, reporter says – CBS News
&quot;9/11 alumni remains very viable and very real,&quot; says reporter who interviewed family of September 11 mastermind
Osama bin Laden’s mom says ‘he was a very good kid and he loved me’
Osama bin Laden’s mother spoke out for the first time this week about her son’s life and radicalization in a bombshell interview with the Guardian.
Russia Backs Saudis In Dispute With Canada Over Jailed Rights Activists
Russia on August 8 came out in support of Saudi Arabia in its dispute with Canada over Riyadh’s arrest of womens’ rights activists, saying it is “unacceptable” for Ottawa to lecture the kingdom on …
Pakistani Soldiers To Receive Russian Military Training Under New Deal
Pakistan and Russia have reached a military cooperation deal that includes sending Pakistani soldiers to Russia for training, the countries’ defense ministries have announced.

DPRK / PRC / WESTPAC Reports

 


 

North Korea threatens to end ‘stability’ on Korean Peninsula
North Korea threatened to end the “hard-won atmosphere of stability on the Korean Peninsula” on Thursday, in response to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s efforts to enforce economic sanctions against the regime.
North Korea threatens to stall denuclearization in warning to US | Fox News
North Korea on Thursday threatened to stall the denuclearization of its missile program if the U.S. continues to abide by an outdated acting script amid Washington’s calls to enforce sanctions against the regime.
North Korea Praises Trump, Slams Other US Officials for Sabotaging Peace – Sputnik International
The North Korean Foreign Ministry accused “high-level officials within the US administration” of “going against the intention of President Trump to advance the DPRK-US relations” in a statement Thursday. Meanwhile, the socialist state renewed calls for a permanent peace treaty so that “a mood will be created for creating trust.”
‘Insulting’: North Korea hits out at US for call to enforce sanctions | World news | The Guardian
Pyongyang accuses Trump administration of following ‘outdated acting script’ as denuclearisation deal shows few signs of progress
North Korea says US ‘throwing cold water’ on denuclearisation progress – Moneycontrol.com
During landmark talks with US President Donald Trump in June, the North’s leader Kim Jong Un signed up to a vague commitment to denuclearisation, far from the longstanding American demand for the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of Pyongyang’s atomic arsenal.
North Korea slams US for lacking ‘basic decorum’ in nuke talks | TheHill
North Korea blasts U.S.’ “shameless and impertinent behavior” as tensions remain high – CBS News
Pyongyang accuses &quot;high-level officials within the U.S.&quot; of keeping pressure up against North Korea
North Korea: US not adhering to its side of the bargain since Trump-Kim summit – CNNPolitics
North Korea issued a forceful statement Thursday against what it said were elements of the US government which are not adhering to the spirit of the dialogue established by US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Singapore summit hin June.
On North Korea, Pompeo’s talks are faltering. Here are a few reasons why
If the administration is serious about addressing North Korea, that is an admirable goal, but they need to think through their negotiating strategy.
Sanctions Busters Smuggled North Korean Coal, Iron to the South via Russia – WSJ
Three South Koreans illegally imported North Korean coal and iron via Russia in violation of sanctions, exposing a crack in the U.S.-led campaign to cut off trade with Pyongyang.
3 South Korean firms found to have illegally imported North Korean coal and pig iron.. – YouTube
Seoul’s government completed an investigation into what was suspected to be illegal imports of coal from North Korea. According to our Lee Jiwon, the results don’t look good. 7 of the 9 cases clearly violates UNSC sanctions. South Korea’s Customs Service revealed at a briefing on Friday that North Korean coal and pig iron have, in fact, been brought into the country illegally. Three South Korean firms were found to have broken the law in 7 of the 9 cases. Most of them involved the fabrication of documents about the goods’ origin. “After the UN Security Council banned the trading of North Korean coal, the suspects transshiped the North Korean product at a Russian port onto a vessel with a third country’s flag and forged documents to make it look like the goods were from Russia.” Inspections of Russian coal, in particular, have gotten tougher because of the sanctions, so in one case the company said falsely that the coal was of a type that doesn’t require a certificate of origin at all. Between April and October last year, they brought in a total of 35-thousand tons of North Korean coal and pig iron, worth some 6-point-6 billion won, or about 5-point-8 million U.S. dollars. Most of the coal had been acquired by the suspects as commission for selling North Korean coal to third-party countries. It’s thought the reason they did it was because coal from the North is so cheap. This is a clear violation of UN Security Council resolution 23-71, which stipulates that North Korea shall not supply, sell or transfer directly or indirectly coal, iron or iron ore,… and that all UN member states shall prohibit the procurement of such material from the North. The Korea Customs Service said it will refer the firms and their representatives to the prosecution. And the seven ships that brought in the coal, including Shinning Rich and the Jin Long, will be reported to the Security Council committee on North Korea sanctions, but its not clear whether the ships will face sanctions themselves. Either way, the South Korean government said it will ban them from its ports. As for a local company that bought and used the coal, the customs service said it’s likely to be exempt from the United States’ secondary boycott because it could not have known the coal’s origin. Lee Ji-won, Arirang News.
North Korea rejects repeated US proposal to slash nuclear arsenal: report | TheHill
North Korea has reportedly rejected a formal timeline for its denuclearization proposed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
North Korea: Pompeo says Kim must cut nuclear bombs by 60 to 70 percent – Vox
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has repeatedly asked North Korea to cut its nuclear warhead stockpile b 60 to 70 percent. The North Koreans keep balking.
North Korea frustrates US as ‘maximum pressure’ eases on sanctions | World news | The Guardian
Pyongyang appears to be evading curbs with help of lax approach by China and Russia
Bolton: US still ‘waiting’ for North Korea to start denuclearizing – CNNPolitics
President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton said on Monday that the administration does not feel North Korea is living up to its end of an agreement to denuclearize.
John Bolton admits it: The North Korea summit was a bust – The Washington Post
It looks as though Kim Jong Un snookered Trump.
Bolton: North Korea not taking steps to denuclearise | North Korea News | Al Jazeera
Trump’s national security adviser says Pyongyang has not lived up to the declaration signed in Singapore in June.
China threatens progress in North Korean denuclearization talks | TheHill
North Korea could be the most challenging, multifaceted negotiation of President Trump’s career.
North Korea’s Pompeo Problem Exposes Widening Rift on Talks – Bloomberg
North Korea appears to have a Pompeo problem.
U.S. extends small olive branch to North Korea to streamline humanitarian aid – CBS News
The committee that monitors sanctions on North Korea​ for the UN Security Council approved new guidelines Monday to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid
North Korea hopeful for 2nd Trump-Kim Summit – CNN
North Korea believes there is a “strong possibility” of a second summit between the country’s leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump, according to an official with close knowledge of Pyongyang’s position on the matter.
North Korea urges U.S. to drop sanctions as Seoul probes illicit coal shipments | Reuters
North Korean state media on Monday urged the United States to drop sanctions, as South Korea said it was investigating nine cases of coal shipments that potentially violated U.N. resolutions.
North Korea’s Complaint – WSJ
The sanctions erode as Pyongyang continues its nuclear arms program.
White House not ‘starry-eyed’ about North Korea, Bolton says – POLITICO
&quot;We’re going to have see performance from the North Koreans, there’s no question about it,&quot; the national security adviser says.
North Korea wants US to drop sanctions after ‘goodwill measures’ – Business Insider
North Korean state media is urging the US to drop its sanctions following a series of moves it considers goodwill gestures. State media says Pyongyang…
Russian Bank Hit With Sanctions For Helping North Korea : NPR
The U.S. Treasury Department announced Friday that it has put Agrosoyuz Commercial Bank on a blacklist, after it engaged in transactions that supported North Korea’s arms program.
China is quietly relaxing its sanctions against North Korea, complicating matters for Trump
As Trump waits for North Korea to follow through on denuclearization, China loosens up implementation of economic sanctions.
Pompeo: North Korea’s Kim will determine timeline for denuclearization | TheHill
Trump letter to Kim Jong Un given to North Korea’s top diplomat at ASEAN summit – The Washington Post
According to an account given by State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, U.S. ambassador Sung Kim, traveling with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday, gave the letter to North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong Ho after Ri and Pompeo shook hands.
Seoul wants to make some defense reforms, but we’re not there yet | TheHill
Under the current atmospherics, with a still-nuclear North Korea, troop reduction potentially could leave a gaping hole in South Korea’s security and military readiness.
US warns Russia, others on enforcing North Korea sanctions 
Mike Pompeo said the U.S. has credible reports that Russia is violating UN sanctions by allowing joint ventures with North Korean companies and issuing new permits for North Korean guest workers.
UN report: North Korea still pursuing nuclear, missile programs – CNNPolitics
A confidential UN report has accused North Korea of continuing to develop nuclear and missile programs in violation of international sanctions.
North Korea’s Grave Secrets: What U.S. Remains Can Reveal
Fifty-five packages of remains supposed to be Americans killed in the Korean War were sent to a U.S. government lab on Hawaii this week. Now the real investigative work begins.
Roller-coaster nuclear diplomacy between U.S. and North Korea hits highs and lows – CBS News
North Korea’s foreign minister greeted the U.S. Secretary of State with a smile, then delivered a scathing attack on the Trump administration
A North Korean defector’s harrowing story of escape | Business Insider
Police raid Korean company which claimed to have found sunken ship full of gold – CNN
Police in Seoul have raided the offices of a South Korean company which claimed to have found a sunken Russian warship with billions of dollars of gold on board.


China tested a hypersonic weapon the US can’t defend against — Quartz
“We don’t have any defense that could deny the employment of such a weapon against us.”
China tests its hypersonic waverider aircraft Starry Sky-2 | World | News | Express.co.uk
CHINA has successfully tested its hypersonic aircraft Starry Sky-2 that is able to carry nuclear weapons and escape anti-missile defence systems at an astonishing five times the speed of sound.
China claims to have successfully tested its first hypersonic aircraft – CNN
China claims to have successfully tested its first hypersonic aircraft, a big step forward in aerospace technology that could intensify pressure on the US military.
China-US latest: Warning issued to US Navy in South China Sea – ‘LEAVE NOW’ | World | News | Express.co.uk
THE Chinese military told a US Navy plane flying over the highly-disputed island in the South China Sea to “leave immediately”.
Beijing’s response to Japan’s new destroyer shows its authoritarian endgame in the South China Sea | Business Insider
Japan launched a new destroyer with top-of-the line US missile defence technology earlier this month, the Maya, and despite Japan and the ship’s mostly defensive nature, China portrayed the ship as a dangerous menace. Japan launched a new destroyer with top-of-the line US missile defence technology earlier this month. Japan’s military is a self-defence force and the ship is only meant to do training and diplomatic outreach. But China portrayed it as a menace because it wants to seize control of the South China Sea. Defence cooperation between the US and Japan ushered in an era of peace that enriched the world, and China, but now a powerful China seeks to unseat the US as the world’s superpower, and its response to the destroyer demonstrates that.
Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea | Fox News
A look at recent developments in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves: ___ EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a weekly look at the latest developments in the South China Sea, the location of several territorial conflicts that have raised tensions in the region.
Beating Them at Their Own Game: The Economic Dimension of Competing With China
It’s impossible to understand China’s military strategy without understanding its economic policy. Most prominently, the Belt and Road Initiative seeks to
How Chinese Cybersecurity Standards Impact Doing Business In China | Center for Strategic and International Studies
Download the Brief   The Issue:   The Chinese government has issued close to 300 new national standards related to cybersecurity over the past several years. These standards cover products ranging from software to routers, switches, and firewalls.
China’s Gas Tariffs Are a Permian-Size Problem for Oil – Bloomberg
A prolonged trade war could slam exports just when producers need them most.
Domestic issues, not trade war, are China’s top priorities: TS Lombard
The elevation in trade tensions between the U.S. and China may have dominated headlines in recent months, but a tariff war is not the most pressing concern for Beijing, according to TS Lombard.
China media on trade war: Beijing ‘will not surrender’ to US threats
China’s state media continued its aggressive rhetoric against U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, accusing Washington of being deceitful amid an ongoing trade dispute.
China Will Lose The Trade War With America, And That’s Good For Its Citizens
China isn’t well prepared to fight a trade war with America.
America Should Oppose China’s Economic Imperialism | The National Interest
Beijing is forcing U.S. companies to not mention Taiwan. This has to change.
Why Republicans don’t push back on Trump’s China tariffs — in one map – The Washington Post
Republicans representing high-trade shock districts were more likely to blame China.
The Marshall Plan That Failed – Defense One
Before George Marshall transformed American foreign policy in Europe, he lost a major political fight in China.


Japan Chooses Lockheed Martin Radar For Missile Defense | Missile Defense content from Aviation Week
The LRDR scored higher than the SPY-6 in detection, multitarget handling and continuous operation, Japan says.
Taiwan’s got a new cruise missile, and it’s got mainland China’s coastal strongholds in its sights | Business Insider
Worries Grow in Singapore Over China’s Calls to Help ‘Motherland’ – The New York Times
With ethnic Chinese constituting a majority of Singapore’s population, some fear the country could be an especially tantalizing target for China’s influence.
Asian Nations Push Back at U.S. on Trade, Sanctions – WSJ
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo faced criticism from China and skepticism from Southeast Asian powers over U.S. trade policies, as well as a warning from North Korea about Washington’s approach to talks, at a weekend meeting of regional leaders.
U.S. pledges nearly $300 million security funding for Southeast Asia | Reuters
U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged on Saturday to provide nearly $300 million in new security funding for Southeast Asia, as China forges ahead with plans to bolster its engagement in the region.
Vietnam’s New Cybersecurity Law Will Hurt Economic Growth | The National Interest
The passage of a restrictive cybersecurity law by Vietnam’s National Assembly is a giant step back—one that comes at the expense of Vietnam’s small and medium-sized businesses.

 


 

Foreign Policy Reports

 


 

Friendship no more: how Russian gas is a problem for Germany | Reuters
For decades, the Friendship pipeline has delivered oil from Russia to Europe, heating German homes even in the darkest days of the Cold War.
Poroshenko: Nord Stream 2 is Trojan horse of Kremlin – 10.08.2018 11:35 — Ukrinform News
The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is the Kremlin’s Trojan horse aimed against the European energy and, ultimately, geopolitical security.”The refusal to implement the project within the framework of the Third Energy Package of the EU and deliberate failure of Gazprom to implement the decisions of the Stockholm Arbitration on cases with Ukraine – these are clear and unambiguous signals about the true motives of the gas pipeline and its potential catastrophic consequences for the European Union,” President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko posted on Facebook. In this context, the President calls on Ukraine’s European partners “to get rid of the deceptive and destructive Kremlin spell as soon as possible and firmly defend own energy security.” The construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline began in Germany in May 2018. The agreement on project funding was signed with ENGIE (France), OMV (Austria), Royal Dutch Shell (UK-Netherlands), Uniper and Wintershall (Germany). The 1,220-kilometer gas pipeline, with a total capacity of 55 billion cubic meters a year, will provide a direct link between the coast of Russia via the Baltic Sea to Greifswald, Germany.
UAWire – First Nord Stream 2 pipes laid in Germany
The first pipes have been laid as part of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project near the German coast of the  Baltic Sea, reported the German …
Bullying, death threats and violence: German schools grapple with a string of anti-Semitic incidents – The Washington Post
Despite a growing sense of urgency over anti-Semitic attacks and bullying in classrooms, German teachers are still not routinely trained on how to respond.
Gazprom’s opportunities to borrow abroad shrinking – Gazprom experiencing difficulties borrowing abroad due to assets frozen in Naftogaz lawsuit – media – 112.international
It makes economic sense for the corporation to borrow overseas, which is unlikely to become problematic as Gazprom has a strong supply of liquidity and there is an opportunity to obtain loans issued by Russian banks.
Anti-Semitism in Berlin rises by almost 20 per cent | Daily Mail Online
Earlier this year, a teenage boy at an international school in Berlin was subjected to months of bullying for being Jewish, while a Jewish girl at another school in the city received death threats.
Heat Wave Reveals German Mines, Grenades and Live Explosives Submerged Since World War II
Around 5,500 unexploded munitions are discovered in Germany each year.
Russia expels Greek diplomats in retaliatory move | Reuters
Russia said on Monday it had summoned Greece’s ambassador to Moscow and told him it was responding in kind to what it called an unfriendly decision by Athens to expel two Russian diplomats.
UAWire – Spain arrests three Russian mafia leaders
The police in Marbella, south of Spain, arrested three criminal mafia leaders from the former Soviet Union countries. They are accused of the …
Russian Film Draws ‘Balkan Line’ In Kremlin’s Effort To Shore Up Support
An upcoming Russian film looks back at the seizure of Pristina Airport as Moscow looks to strengthen future ties with Serbia.
Kosovo’s President, Belgrade Willing To Consider Border Changes
Senior government officials in Kosovo and Serbia have indicated a willingness to consider border changes as part of a peace process aimed at ending a dispute over Kosovo’s independence that has h…
UAWire – NATO forces withdraw from Kosovo border with Serbia
NATO military personnel from the International Peacekeeping Force in Kosovo (KFOR) left the Gazivoda Lake reservoir on the border with Serbia on …
UAWire – Media: NATO forces deployed to the North of Kosovo
NATO is concerned about media reports that a Kosovar military action is being prepared in the North of the Republic in order to gain military …
Serbia Criticizes Israel’s ‘Immoral’ Participation In Croatia Anniversary
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic has criticized Israel after its military jets took part in a ceremony in Croatia marking a victorious military operation at the end of the Balkan country’s 19…
Gen. Francisco Franco is still dead. But entombed? Maybe not much longer | Fox News
Even in his grave, the 20th-century dictator who ruled Spain with an iron fist keeps dividing the country.
6 arrests in failed plot to assassinate Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro – CBS News
Authorities say they’ve detained &quot;six terrorists and assassins&quot; suspected of using pair of drones packed with explosives to apparently kill Nicolas Maduro
Russian trolls’ attack on Italian president to be investigated as “terrorism” | UNIAN
Investigation of the massive attack of the Russian “troll factory” in social networks on President of Italy Sergio Mattarella will be entrusted to anti-terrorism investigators. On the night of May 28, just a few hours after the Italian president refused to appoint Eurosceptic Paolo Savona Minister of Finance, a mass attack started against the president in social networks. Investigation of the massive attack of the Russian “troll factory” in social networks on President of Italy Sergio Mattarella will be entrusted to anti-terrorism investigators. It is noted that the Prosecutor’s Office of Rome in the coming days will begin investigating the attacks of Twitter “trolls” on the president of Italy, after which the case will be transferred to the anti-terrorist agency, as reported by Italy’s ANSA news agency, Ukrayinska Pravda reports. It is also expected that on Monday, August 6, the Parliamentary Committee of the Intelligence and Security Service (COPASIR) will hear the corresponding report by the director of the Italian DIS secret service, Alessandro Pansa.
Serbian President Invokes Hitler To Blast ‘Croatia Without Serbs’ Policy
Croatian leaders have celebrated a victorious military operation at the end of the country’s 1991-95 war for independence, while Serbia’s president accused Croatia of intentionally expelling Serb…
Bolton: ‘No US government involvement’ in attempted drone assassination of Venezuelan President Maduro | Fox News
The United States had no involvement in the apparent drone assassination attempt of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Saturday afternoon, National security adviser John Bolton told Fox News Sunday.
An explosion in Venezuela brings gimmick drones to the political battlefield
In light of an apparent assassination attempt via drone in Venezuela, it’s important to understand how drones have been used before and what countermeasures exist.
South Africa on brink of ‘ANARCHY’ as president demands white farmers’ land is SEIZED | World | News | Express.co.uk
SOUTH Africa’s white farmers have hit out in anger at the government’s decision to agree to constitutional changes to seize land from them.
South Africa’s business-friendly president alarms investors with land grab proposal
Cyril Ramaphosa announced this week that his government is to press on with a plan to overhaul how land is owned in the country.
[Essay] | American Imperium, by A.J. Bacevich | Harper’s Magazine – Part 8
Untangling truth and fiction in an age of perpetual war
France starts new MH370 probe, after the official report failed to work out what really happened – SFGate
MH370: New Investigation Opened Into Missing Plane After Victims’ Families Slam Malaysian Report
The victims’ families criticized a previous report that exonerated the flight’s crew.


Pope Francis pushes Catholics to actively oppose the death penalty – Religion News Service
On death penalty, pope diverges from his U.S. flock – Washington Post
The pope’s official opposition to the death penalty differs from the views of more than half of U.S. Catholics — and Americans in general.
Pope’s death penalty stance bolsters conservative push to end executions
That push to abolish the death penalty has earned support among conservative lawmakers, and Pope Francis’s declaration against the death penalty may make it difficult for Catholic politicians to allow the practice to continue.
The Catechism and the death penalty: are Catholics right to be worried? | CatholicHerald.co.uk
This wouldn’t be the first time a pope has been in tension with Catholic teaching

 


IW/EW/IO/Cyber Reports


 

How Your Brain Tricks You Into Believing Fake News – To Inform is to Influence
This is an excellent article about how one might recognize fake news, as well as some potential solutions for countering fake news. I actually learned the name for several techniques I use when I read a story. A very short synopsis of a few things one might ask or look for when reading an article from a questionable source. First, WHO is behind the page. I ask, what is the author’s purpose? Is it to simply provide information? To promote a certain agenda? “Who is behind the information?” Next, does the organization behind the website have a history? When reading, is there a lot of other facts pertinent to the story, to help put the story or article in a larger context? I only found one problem with the article. It paints fact checkers as infallible, incapable of being fooled by fake news. I have profound heartburn about some fact-checking groups. Some have a strong bias as to politics, some have a strong bias against societal issues, and some do not take the time to understand all the issues in some very large, complex, and confusing fields. We are all human, so I have found several mistakes and false assumptions when fact checkers deal with information warfare, for example. But even I make mistakes now and then… okay, very seldom. Just joking. This is well written, it tackles a very complex issue, and it addresses some of the problems with many approaches. </end editorial>
Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify ban Infowars’ Alex Jones | Technology | The Guardian
Crackdown on US conspiracy theorist for promoting violence and hate speech
Apple, Facebook, YouTube, Spotify remove Alex Jones’ Infowars content
Scott Galloway, NYU Stern professor, and Tony Romm, Washington Post tech policy reporter, discuss social networks’ increasing responsibility to police content on their platforms.
Trump administration coordinating with Facebook to combat disinformation
The Trump administration and Facebook are working together to counter foreign influence operations, but research suggests social media sites need to be more aggressive in taking false content off their platforms.
InfoWars app still in Google, Apple stores after companies move against other content
Big tech made a show on Sunday night and Monday of moving against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his media company InfoWars, but Apple and Google are both still giving prominent space to its app.
The Future Of Information Warfare Is Here — And The Russians Are Already Doing It – To Inform is to Influence
This is highly unethical by US standards, but hey, since when has Russia done anything ethical? </end editorial>
Here’s the full text of Mike Pence’s cybersecurity speech
At the first-ever National Cybersecurity Summit in New York City on July 31, Vice President Mike Pence gave an in-depth speech about what the Trump administration is doing, and what it says past administrations didn’t do, to address cybersecurity. The text below is from the official speech posted on the White House website.
Mike Pence’s Cybersecurity Speech, Annotated – Defense One
The vice president delivered a fiery campaign-style cybersecurity speech at a Homeland Security cyber conference Tuesday. Here’s an explainer.
Marines increase ways to detect and kill air threats, from hobby drones to cruise missiles
Facing an array of threats, the expeditionary force aims to keep the sky safe.
Congress offers millions in budget to cyber-harden missile defense systems
House and Senate appropriators’ funding lines for cyber-hardening missile defense systems are essentially identical.
How algorithms can harm cybersecurity
As more companies are using machine learning to defend their networks, a top researcher is warning that an over-reliance on algorithms can bring a false sense of digital security.
The Russian DNC hack shows the US needs to get smart on crypto
The wider adoption of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology is likely to lead to greater use by criminals, terrorists and spies. The U.S. is unprepared for this eventuality.
Disinformation Analysis on the Western Balkans: Lack of Sources Indicates Potential Disinformation – To Inform is to Influence
Citing actual sources gives credibility to reporting. A name, a report, a study, an organization, a spokesperson speaking on the record. All are good sources. Anonymous sources are good occasionally, but should only be used by journalists with a history of double checking the credibility of information. This is a determination made by the journalist. The source must be impeccable, have a history of credibility, and the information so valuable that it will disclose a major issue. Too many articles are based on hearsay, rumors, innuendos, and projection. Some are written with good intentions, but as the saying says, the road to hell is littered with good intentions. Many articles are written with an agenda. The article may be designed to undermine someone’s reputation, to introduce an element of doubt on to the subject’s purpose for doing something, or even to create a highly public smear campaign. We are seeing the latter all too often. We see a sensational headline, a resultant outcry of rage against the alleged guilty party, a public figurative lynching, and eventually the disclosure that the initial report was fake. Many of these reports are designed specifically to become an emotional issue, to stir up extreme emotions, and relying on the average human not caring about the actual facts. Often we see many of these reports written with such an agenda. It often requires dozens, if not hundreds, to create a wave of emotion. Today, with the use of botnets and trolls, we are seeing thousands of such reports echoed and amplified. In the below article from StopFake, we see an example of an entire issue manufactured without sources. Here we see Belgrade-based civic association CRTA researching reporting in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and finding it littered with pro-Russian and anti-US reports. This issue should be highlighted and exposed. This demands global journalistic standards be established and enforced while still maintaining our freedom of speech and freedom of the press. </end editorial>
Twitter CEO says Infowars’ Alex Jones not banned because ‘he hasn’t violated our rules’
While tech giants Facebook, YouTube and Apple have booted content by Jones, Twitter has notably resisted purging him from its platform.
Stephen Colbert slams Alex Jones: “Looks like his website Infowars just lost their war on info” | Salon.com
The far-right conspiracy theorist’s posts and videos were erased from most sharing and social media platforms
New research says ZTE phones could be hacked
The Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE have manufacturing vulnerabilities that allow them to be taken over.
How hackers can defeat cyber deception methods
Effective cyber deception requires believability and diversity of information. But closely inspecting the data can defeat any spoofing attempt.
As Russians hack the US grid, a look at what’s needed to protect it
The U.S. electricity grid is hard to defend because of its enormous size and heavy dependency on digital communication and computerized control software. The number of potential targets is growing as “internet of things” devices, such as smart meters, solar arrays and household batteries, connect to smart grid systems.

US Domestic Policy Reports

 


 

Congress Rushes to Spend Billions on Space Weapons—Even if They Don’t Work – Defense One
Even a bare-bones system would be ridiculously costly, and more likely to foster war than prevent it.
Defense Budget Shifts Military’s Focus From Terrorism To China And Russia : NPR
The 2,500-page National Defense Authorization Act, which tells the Pentagon how to spend its budget, is headed to President Trump’s desk for signature. A look at its key provisions.


WH pushes back after Rand Paul suggests Trump asked him to deliver letter to Putin | Fox News
The White House pushed back against Sen. Rand Paul Wednesday after the Kentucky Republican implied on Twitter that President Trump had asked him to deliver a letter of introduction to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Rand Paul Delivers Letter From Trump to Putin During Moscow Trip – WSJ
The senator tweeted that he was “honored” to deliver the letter, a move coming amid heightened scrutiny of the president’s relationship with the Russian leader.
Sen. Rand Paul says he delivered letter from Trump to Putin
Russian officials slammed a new round of U.S. sanctions the Trump administration levied to punish Vladimir Putin’s government for using a chemical weapon.
U.S. Senator Delivers Letter From Trump To Putin On Moscow Trip
U.S. Republican Senator Rand Paul says he delivered a letter from President Donald Trump intended for Russian leader Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin during the Kentucky politician’s trip to Moscow.
Rand Paul has suddenly emerged as one of Trump’s biggest allies on Russia | Business Insider
Republican Sen. Rand Paul was once one of President Donald Trump’s staunchest critics, particularly during the 2016 presidential election. But in recent months he’s become one of his biggest allies on issues relating to what has been a constant thorn in the president’s side: Russia.
Rand Paul meets with Gorbachev | TheHill
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) met on Tuesday with former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev as part of his weeklong trip to Russia.
Sen. Rand Paul goes to Moscow and invites Russians to Washington in unofficial bid to boost ties – The Washington Post
Once a foe, Paul has become one of President Trump’s fiercest defenders on Russia. 
After Rand Paul meeting, Russian lawmakers agree to Washington visit – POLITICO
&quot;Engagement is vital to our national security and peace around the world,&quot; Paul said.
U.S. Mulling Sanctions On Russian Tycoon Yevtushenkov
The U.S. State Department is considering whether to impose sanctions on Russian tycoon Vladimir Yevtushenkov amid charges that his company Sistema built projects in Crimea since it was illegally an…
Russian Operatives Have Penetrated Florida’s Election System, U.S. Senator Says
Russian operatives have penetrated the election system of one of the largest U.S. states, and could delete voters’ registration documents ahead of the November elections if the systems are not adeq…


WikiLeaks says Senate Intelligence Committee has asked Julian Assange to testify in Russia investigation – NY Daily News
Julian Assange may be ready to break his silence.
WikiLeaks on Twitter: “BREAKING: US Senate Intelligence Committee calls editor @JulianAssange to testify. Letter delivered via US embassy in London. WikiLeaks’ legal team say they are “considering the offer but the conditions must conform to a high ethical standard”. Also: https://t.co/pPf0GTjTlp… https://t.co/9G1qC8Q93S”
WikiLeaks says Senate panel requested Assange testimony for Russia probe | TheHill
WikiLeaks is claiming that the Senate Intelligence Committee has asked its founder Julian Assange to testify as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the election.


Marco Rubio: If Mueller had ‘strong evidence’ of collusion, it would have been leaked by now
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said Sunday that if there was strong evidence to prove that there was collusion between President Trump’s campaign and Russia, it would have been leaked by now.
Fox News’ Chris Wallace Grills John Bolton Over Trump’s Attacks On Media
“What wars have we started?” Wallace asked Trump’s national security adviser.
The Washington Post to publish book examining Russian interference in 2016 election – The Washington Post
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Greg Miller examines the president’s relationship with Russia in “The Apprentice: Trump, Russia and the Subversion of American Democracy.”
Trump Acknowledges Purpose Of Meeting With Kremlin-Linked Lawyer In 2016
U.S. President Donald Trump has acknowledged that a June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower in New York with a Kremlin-linked attorney was conducted to receive information on his political opponent, but h…
White House officials explain Trump’s ‘Russian hoax’ line – CNNPolitics
Two of President Donald Trump’s top aides on Sunday defended his “Russian hoax” line, saying he was referring to allegations that his campaign coordinated with Russia in the 2016 presidential election.
White House adviser Kudlow: EU trade announcements seen within 30 days | Reuters
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Friday said the United States and the European Union were making strong progress in trade talks and could announce some agreements within the next month.
Trump’s in a never-ending battle against the media because it works – The Washington Post
It’s Trump and his fans against the media, the Democrats — and even some Republicans.
Russian election meddling case supported by mountain of evidence
For two years, cybersecurity experts, spies and federal agents have built an astonishingly detailed case that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
WaPo: Trump associate interacted with alleged Russian spy – YouTube
CNN Published on Aug 3, 2018 Maria Butina, the Russian national charged with conspiracy to act as an agent of Russia within the US, interacted with a former Trump campaign aide in the run-up to the 2016 election, according to The Washington Post.
Trump and his administration clash over Russia threat – YouTube
CNN Published on Aug 3, 2018 The nation’s top national security officials came together to warn of a pervasive Russian effort to undermine US democracy at a White House press briefing. Hours later, President Donald Trump called the threat a “Russian hoax,” directly contradicting his administration.
How Trump is assisting Putin’s goal of destabilizing the U.S. political system – The Washington Post
And Trump is helping (regardless of why).
Trump Privately ‘Fearful’ That Don Jr. ‘Wandered Into Legal Jeopardy’: Reports
The president’s recent social media outbursts are motivated by fear for his son, CNN and WaPo report.
Week 63: With Trump’s Crowd, the Common Thread is Russian Money – POLITICO Magazine
Manafort, the former campaign manager, is on trial for shady financial dealings, but he was far from the only one in Trump’s dealing with the Kremlin.
Ex-CIA chief criticizes Russia policy: ‘Never in my lifetime’ seen such a ‘confused message’ – To Inform is to Influence
There is one person responsible for synchronizing the national message, the job is usually delegated to the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications. We have had none since Monica Crowley left. State cannot do it, especially not the GEC. The BBG cannot do it, and USAID cannot do it. Politicians absolutely cannot do it. Somebody should be in the job who knows Information Warfare, Information Operations, Strategic Communications, and Public Diplomacy. The last time the job was done properly was in 2009, by Mark Pfeifle and Kevin McCarty. Nobody is coordinating, synchronizing, and directing the instruments of Strategic Communications for the government of the United States of America. Nobody is reaching into academia, the corporate world, or the public for expertise and assistance. Nobody is coordinating with programs both internal to and outside the United States, to ensure maximum effectiveness of our efforts to counter Russian and Chinese information warfare. This is not working. </end editorial>
U.S. Identifies Russians Detained On Fraud, Money-Laundering Allegations
The U.S. Department of Justice has made public the identities of four Russian citizens arrested by the FBI in New York on suspicion of money laundering and collusive fraud.
Leaked document: Putin lobbied Trump on arms control – POLITICO
A list of issues he shared with Trump in Helsinki suggests Russia wants to continue traditional nuclear talks with the U.S. — but doesn’t answer all questions about their meeting.
Trump lobbied on nuclear weapons by Putin at Helsinki summit, leaked document reveals | World | News | Express.co.uk
VLADIMIR Putin lobbied US President Donald Trump to control nuclear arms and prohibit weapons in space when the two leaders met last month, top secret Russian documents have revealed.
Bill would ban House members from serving on boards of publicly held companies | TheHill
Two lawmakers introduced legislation Thursday to ban House members from serving as board members for publicly traded companies following the arrest of Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) for alleged insider trading.


More online ugliness: NY Times writer compared Trump and Hitler | Fox News
Their cases could not be more different.
Kurtz: The free speech debate over Sarah Jeong and Alex Jones | Fox News Video
‘MediaBuzz’ host Howard Kurtz weighs in on the increasing difficulty of defending the New York Times for hiring Sarah Jeong, a writer with a history of racist and anti-Trump tweets, while Facebook, Apple and other tech giants are perfectly comfortable banning Alex Jones.
Democratic senator applauds Silicon Valley censorship | Fox News Video
Sen. Chris Murphy praises removal of Infowars from social media platforms as ‘good first step’; reaction from Nigel Farage, Fox News contributor and former U.K. Independence Party leader.
Ingraham: Big tech and the new corporate censorship | Fox News Video
Sen. Chris Murphy praises removal of Infowars from social media platforms as ‘good first step’; reaction from Nigel Farage, Fox News contributor and former U.K. Independence Party leader.
Did left-wing Hillary hate put Donald Trump in the White House?
Psychologists surveyed hundreds of alt-right supporters. The results are unsettling. – Vox
Results show supporters are prejudiced, dehumanizing, and aggressive.
Donald Trump: Russian ‘Asset’ Since 1987 When KGB ‘Compromised’ Him On Moscow Trip, According To New Book
When Donald Trump made a trip to Russia in 1987, he was likely “compromised” by the KGB and has been an “asset” for Russia ever since, and the Russian government has long …


Here’s Paul Manafort’s strategy for acquittal
The question is: Will the jury believe Rick Gates with sufficient confidence?
Prosecutors Expected To Rest Friday After Scrutiny Of Paul Manafort’s Finances : NPR
The jury got a granular look at Manafort’s alleged use of offshore bank accounts and multiple loan applications on which prosecutors say he lied.
Mueller team files complaint against Manafort trial judge over latest reprimand | Fox News
After days of being dressed down by the judge overseeing the Paul Manafort case, federal prosecutors sought Thursday to put their foot down — filing a motion complaining that Judge T.S. Ellis III had unfairly admonished them in front of the jury.
Star Witness In Manafort Trial Details Ukrainian, Russian Money Ties
A longtime business partner of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman has detailed how he helped Paul Manafort hide millions of dollars that he earned from Ukrainian clients.
Manafort Deputy Details Delinquent Ukraine Payments; Defense Accuses Him Of Multiple Affairs
Rick Gates, the U.S. government’s star witness in its financial-fraud prosecution of Gates’ former boss, Paul Manafort, has concluded three days of testimony and often withering cross-examination, detailing how a Ukrainian political party failed to pay $2.4 million in 2015, pushing Manafort into dire financial straits.
Poroshenko Administration Backtracks, Confirms 2014 Meeting With Manafort Team
Before he became the victor in Ukraine’s 2014 snap presidential election, businessman Petro Poroshenko was scrambling to put together a winning campaign.
Rick Gates says he falsified bank documents to secure loans to Paul Manafort
Paul Manafort’s former business associate Rick Gates told a court Tuesday he helped to devise a scheme to forgive a fake loan to Manafort in an effort to help him secure a mortgage loan, an admission that cuts to the heart of prosecutors’ bank fraud case against Manafort.
Rick Gates’ brutal lesson for Paul Manafort (Opinion) – CNN
Criminals, politicians and other narcissists tend to be self-interested individuals. Put enough pressure on them, and they’ll happily shift the blame (hopefully to where it really belongs). Paul Manafort is living that reality, Jill Filipovic says.
Rick Gates says he lied for years at Paul Manafort’s request and stole from him in the process – Chicago Tribune
Rick Gates — the star witness against Trump’s ex-campaign manager — admitted in federal court Monday that he committed a host of crimes with his former boss.
As Manafort Trial Continues, The Defense Gets Its Shot At Ex-Partner Rick Gates : NPR
Rick Gates returns to the witness stand Tuesday. He said Monday he was directed by Paul Manafort to lie to evade taxes. Manafort’s lawyers say Gates embezzled and is now lying to cover his tracks.
Rick Gates testifies he and Manafort committed fraud, admits embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars | Fox News
Rick Gates on Monday took the stand in the federal fraud case against his former business partner, ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, testifying that he and Manafort conspired to commit bank and tax fraud — and that he embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort.
Rick Gates reminds Trump to shut up about Paul Manafort
Rick Gates’ testimony at the trial of former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort, on Monday offered new reasons for President Trump to stop publicly defending Manafort.
Paul Manafort aside, white-collar crimes just aren’t being prosecuted anymore – The Washington Post
How the federal government has underperformed when it comes to enforcement of certain laws.
Manafort prosecution’s frustration with judge leads to fiery clashes – POLITICO
The clashes are unusual and, for the prosecutors, risky.
Gates tells Manafort trial he assisted in filing false tax returns | Reuters
Rick Gates, a former campaign aide to President Donald Trump, testified on Monday at his former business partner Paul Manafort’s tax and bank fraud trial that he assisted Manafort in filing false tax returns.
‘Overruled, Overruled’; Mueller’s Team Stumbles Even as Their Star Witness Shines | Law & Crime
Government attorneys had a rough half-day in the Eastern District of Virginia. While Rick Gates’ testimony in many ways blew the lid off the proceedings against
Rick Gates reveals he told Robert Mueller about several OTHER crimes as part of plea deal | Daily Mail Online
Paul Manafort’s former deputy revealed details of his plea deal with Mueller’s probe in federal court in Alexandria, VA, saying he informed about more crimes than the ones his ex-boss is charged with.
“Useful idiots”: Political experts comment on Manafort’s advice to Yanukovych to exploit issue of opposition’s anti-Semitism | UNIAN
The letters of former political adviser of ex-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, Paul Manafort, whose case is currently being heard in the U.S. court, take note of Ukrainian opposition forces of the Yanukovych era. In the letters dated 2012, Manafort stressed that Yanukovych should make pro-Israel statements, condemn the Svoboda party and anti-Semitic acts by opposition representatives.
Judge appoints ‘firewall’ counsel to review Mueller documents for sensitive information | TheHill
A judge agreed to appoint an independent “firewall” lawyer to review pretrial evidence related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s case against Russians who allegedly interfered in the 2016 election.
‘Firewall counsel’ to protect government secrets in Russian election meddling case – ABC News
A judge ruled Monday that a “firewall counsel” will be employed in the government’s case against alleged Russian election meddlers.
Judge cautions Mueller team on high bar for Manafort conviction | Fox News
The judge in the Paul Manafort trial reminded Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team on Friday of the high bar for conviction — that they must prove the former Trump campaign chairman knowingly violated tax and bank laws related to his political work overseas.
A Trump Pardon Is Starting To Look Like Paul Manafort’s Best Hope
In its first week, the former Trump campaign chairman’s trial hasn’t gone very well for him.
Paul Manafort hid foreign income on taxes, accountant says – CNNPolitics
Paul Manafort’s accountants testified against the former Trump campaign chairman on Friday, telling jurors that loan amounts were fudged to help him on his taxes, loan documents sent to banks were forged and that he did not disclose his financial stake in foreign companies.
The Manafort trial has President Trump very worried – The Washington Post
If Manfort is acquitted, Trump will say it proves his own innocence. If he’s convicted, Trump will say it was meaningless.
Manafort trial day 4: Accountant concedes possible wrongdoing, Manafort’s double life – POLITICO
“They never told us about any income deposited in foreign accounts,“ Manafort’s accountant told jurors.
Manafort’s accountant given immunity to testify – YouTube
Fox News Published on Aug 3, 2018 As President Trump’s legal team goes back and forth with Mueller about a potential interview, the fourth day of Paul Manafort’s trial comes to a close with his accountant testifying about his finances; Ellison Barber shares the latest details on ‘Hannity’.
Eric Trump bashes Washington Post and Jeff Bezos after report claiming Trump hotel profited off of Saudi visit | Business Insider
Eric Trump on Friday bashed The Washington Post on Twitter after it reported the Trump International Hotel in New York City had profited from “a last-minute visit” to the city by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.
Manafort trial Day 4: Accountant Cindy Laporta testifies she helped falsify documents to help Manafort get loans – The Washington Post
Manafort Prosecutors Grill Accountants About Tax Filings, Foreign Bank Accounts
U.S. lawyers combed through years of business documents and income-tax returns for Paul Manafort, as they built their arguments that President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman committed ta…
Day Four: Accountant Testifies How She Helped Hide Manafort’s Ukraine Income
A former accountant testified how she helped falsify income and tax statements for Paul Manafort, U.S. President Donald Trump’s ex-campaign chairman, as prosecutors further buttressed their tax a…
Manafort Sure Spent Money But Were Those His Offshore Accounts? – Bloomberg
Jurors in the Paul Manafort fraud trial may have come away from the first week of testimony with a vivid impression of him as a man who spent vast sums on luxurious houses, landscaping, and clothes, and who gave lenders phony documents as he grew desperate for cash.
Trump administration’s use of sanctions draws concern – The Washington Post
Officials say the measures have been effective against Iran, North Korea and other nations. But critics say they are being overused.
Where’s the outrage about Clinton campaign
WASHINGTON — All of Washington is waiting with bated breath to find out whether the Mueller investigation will provide evidence proving that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. So far, “Exhibit A” against President Trump is the meeting Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort had with a group of Russians claiming to have dirt on Hillary Clinton. That meeting should never have happened. When you get an email offering to provide “very high level and sensitive information” from the “Crown prosecutor of Russia” that could “incriminate Hillary” Clinton and is part of “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump” you don’t reply by saying “I love it.” You call the FBI. The president claims he did not know about the meeting. His former lawyer, Michael Cohen, says he did. Whether he knew is beside the point. Senior officials of his campaign were willing to accept help from Vladimir Putin; they were saved only because the meeting was a bust. The Russians didn’t end up providing any dirt. But as bad as the Trump Tower meeting was, it took place at the request of the Russians. They were the ones who approached the Trump campaign, not the other way around. By contrast, the Clinton campaign proactively sought dirt on Trump from Russian government sources. They did it through cutouts. In April 2016, Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias retained opposition research firm Fusion GPS to compile incriminating information on Trump. Fusion GPS in turn hired Christopher Steele, a former British MI6 operative with sources among Russian government officials. The result was the salacious dossier, whose sources included “a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure” and “a former top level intelligence officer still active in the Kremlin.” Steele’s work was paid for by Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee. That means a paid agent of the Clinton campaign approached Russian officials for damaging material on Trump.
Manafort’s defense team attempts mission impossible – POLITICO
His legal team is mounting a case to exonerate him in Virginia — an uphill battle, experienced attorneys say.
Rick Gates — and the lies he’s admitted telling — to take center stage at Manafort trial – The Washington Post
Paul Manafort’s former protege, who also served as a top Trump campaign aide, is a star witness for the prosecution.
Manafort’s First Trial Is a Sideshow. The Next One Won’t Be.
Paul Manafort’s current trial may seem interesting, but the one he faces next month in Washington, D.C., will reveal much more about the Mueller investigation, as well as how far Manafort is willing to go for President Trump.
Manafort Trial: 4 Insights As Week 2 Begins : NPR
Paul Manafort’s business partner, Rick Gates, has become the center of the defense’s case. They say he is behind the financial crimes Manafort is accused of. Gates is expected to testify this week.
Paul Manafort trial week 1: Everything you need to know – INSIDER
This week, the jury heard testimony from several critical people, including Manafort’s longtime bookkeeper and accountants, all of whom testified to Manafort’s alleged financial fraud.
Key Witness At Manafort Trial Testifies On Cyprus Shell Companies
The ex-deputy for U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has revealed new details about how Ukrainian businessman paid millions of dollars for extensive lobbying and p…
How Manafort’s case influences international image of Ukraine – Paul Manafort: Three lessons for the Ukrainian lobbyists – 112.international
violation of one of the Woodstock Principles put Manafort outside the professional community of American lobbyists, depriving him of moral and legal support to his colleagues
Defense Lawyers Attack Credibility Of Star Witness At Manafort Trial
The defense lawyer for President Donald Trump’s ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort has sought in a searing cross-examination to undermine the credibility of the U.S. government’s star witness b…
Gates Claims Manafort Did Political Work For Ukraine’s Poroshenko, Who Denies It
Rick Gates, a former business partner of lobbyist and political consultant Paul Manafort, said he and Manafort did consulting work for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko — something which the Uk…
Paul Manafort trial: Rick Gates testimony today during day 5: Live blog and updates today – CBS News
Paul Manafort’s legal team targets Richard Gates in hopes of beating criminal charges
Paul Manafort’s longtime deputy told jurors Tuesday how he spent years hiding millions of dollars in foreign income as loans to lower the former Trump campaign chairman’s tax bill.
Paul Manafort Trial: Gates Admits Having Affair as Defense Attacks Him – The New York Times
Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for President Trump, is being tried on charges of bank and tax fraud in a case stemming from the special counsel’s investigation.
Kathleen Manafort takes front-row seat in husband’s fraud trial – POLITICO
She appears unfazed as she sits daily in the courtroom. When Paul Manafort enters, he often blows her a kiss.

 

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