FBI, Russia, and other players
To add some comments to this very good and straightforward article, in my humble opinion. This situation is further complicated by the strong suspicions that a certain, pro-Trump faction of the FBI‘s upper echelons, possibly represented by Kallstrom (reportedly, Trump’s old childhood friend), and the Giuliani circles, reportedly very close to the New York branch of the FBI, might have been a prominent part of this conspiracy against the U.S., or the so called FBI NY branch cabal, or according to Sidney Blumenthal: “Cabal Of Right-Wing FBI Agents” who “Took Down Hillary In A “Coup D’Etat”. Both of them, Kallstrom and Giuliani, apparently, and again, reportedly, and assumingly, aspired to lead the FBI after Trump’s win.
It is also my suspicion that the FBI engineered the Abedin – Weiner email affair as their sexual-political “sting operation”, which is an old, familiar and the favorite trick in both their own and Mr. Putin’s political toolboxes. In these circumstances, the question that logically and inevitably arises, is: What was the degree of cooperation between them and the Russians? This is the big and the important question, and it has to be addressed and answered. This affair led to the October 28, 2016 Letter, which in the opinion of the pollsters, now broadly accepted, did decide the outcome of the elections.
The question about how the hundreds of thousands of emails (650,000) ended up on Abedin – Weiner laptop, remain essentially unanswered. Who planted them there and with whose help? If you get the wind that there might have been a covert or overt collusion between the Russians and the FBI, it would be hard to accuse you of the lack of logic in your thinking. Naturally, the next set of questions that inevitably arises, is the degree of infiltration and penetration of the FBI by the Russians and the others, who worked hard on this for many years. They do have a sad history in this regard, illustrated recently by this account.
See also: ANTHONY WEINER WAS THE FIRST TO TALK ABOUT TRUMP’S CONNECTIONS WITH RUSSIAN OLIGARCHS, WEINER’S SENTENCE IS TRUMP’S REVENGE.
Mr. Mueller’s Investigation proceeds at its pace and seems to be rather deep and comprehensive, and I think and hope that he and his team will address these issues in their customary and expected depth, and will not cover up the FBI’s possible wrongdoings if any are discovered, and/or confirmed; although some observers expressed their strongly worded doubts on this account.
The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. That what we need if we really want to recover and to understand what happened, starting from 1990-s, and encompassing both the 9/11, 2001 and The Elections 2016. These two epochal events do seem to be the connecting links of the same mysterious chain, as the author suggests, and as was noted by many others, of the writing and thinking public, on this subject.
“After weeks/months of the Hillary campaign bashing Trump for “irresponsibly” questioning the legitimacy of the election process, Clinton-insider, Sid Blumenthal, is apparently making the media rounds in Europe attributing her loss to a “coup d’etat” organized by “a cabal of right-wing agents of the FBI in the New York office attached to Rudy Giuliani.”
“It was the result of a cabal of right-wing agents of the FBI in the New York office attached to Rudy Giuliani, who was a member of Trump’s campaign.”
“I think it’s not unfair to call it a coup. Yeah, a coup d’etat.”
Of course, Blumenthal is well known within Clinton world for his wild conspiracy theories as John Podesta pointed out he is “lost in his own web of conspiracies.”
- Russia’s Election Meddling Was Another U.S. Intelligence Failure | The New Yorker
- Dana Priest | The New Yorker
- Dana Priest – Google Search
- FBI and elections 2016 – Google Search
- Trump and conspiracy against the U.S. – Google Search
- cabal – Google Search
- FBI NY branch cabal – Google Search
- The Cabal against Clinton: Giuliani, Bannon and the FBI New York bureau (part 2 of 2) – YouTube
- 9/11, 2001 and The Elections 2016 – Google Search
- Sidney Blumenthal: “Cabal Of Right-Wing FBI Agents” Took Down Hillary In A “Coup D’Etat” | Zero Hedge
- News Reviews and Opinions: The Autumn Of Our Discontent – by Michael Novakhov
- Mueller’s Investigation – Google Search
- News – Mueller’s Investigation – Google Search
- New York branch of the FBI and Trump – Google Search
- Kallstrom and Trump – Google Search
- James B. Comey, called a ‘liar’ and ‘leaker’ by Trump, tweets a quote about truth and justice – The Washington Post
- Trump voters were motivated by racism, not economic anxiety : The Massachusetts Daily Collegian
- Trump suggests softening the US’ stance towards Russia, easing sanctions – Business Insider
- Former DNI James Clapper says he didn’t know about Papadopoulos meetings – Business Insider
- James Clapper says Watergate ‘pales’ in comparison to Trump-Russia – Business Insider
- Authorities investigating stairwell collapse at San Diego gym that injured nearly two dozen children – LA Times
- 21 children injured after platform collapses at San Diego parkour gym for kids – The Washington Post
- children staircase – Google Search
- low gun definition – Google Search
- Police: 2 dead, 2 wounded in Atlanta concert shooting – ABC News
- How Spain’s Fight Against Gangsters Revealed Russian Power Networks
- Bulgaria’s Richest Man or Mafia Kingpin? Possibly Both | Provocateurs | OZY
- pro-Trump faction of the FBI – Google Search
- Rudy Giuliani – Google Search
|Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks|
|Russia’s Election Meddling Is Another American Intelligence Failure – The New Yorker|
|Russias Election Meddling Was Another U.S. Intelligence Failure|
After failing to detect and stop Al Qaeda’s 9/11 attack sixteen years ago, Congress more than doubled the budget of American intelligence agencies and gave them unprecedented secret authorities.
As the intelligence beat reporter for the Washington Post at the time, I watched these agencies grow in size, as dozens of new buildings appeared around the Washington region to house a ballooning workforce of over a million people with top-secret security clearances.
The National Security Agency obtained permission to collect and store the private Internet correspondence and cell-phone data of millions of Americans. The F.B.I. was granted the power to obtain citizens’ banking, library, and phone records without court approval. The C.I.A. opened secret prisons abroad where they tortured terrorist suspects. Local police departments began employing military-grade weapons, armored vehicles, and cell-phone-tracking devices.
All these measures, and many more, were put in place in the name of national security. And yet, last year, these vastly larger agencies failed to defend, or even warn, the American public against the most audacious Russian covert operation toward the United States since the end of the Cold War.
Only after the fact, when a Russian disinformation campaign had already tainted the 2016 Presidential election, did the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, another vast post-9/11 creation, disclose the Kremlin’s interference. The unclassified January, 2017, report, made public by the O.D.N.I., included only the thinnest of evidence, leaving many people wondering if it were true. Whether the Russian campaign actually changed the outcome of the election is impossible to know, but it clearly succeeded at exacerbating political divisions in the United States and undermining the credibility of the results.
Unlike 9/11, the Russian campaign did not occur without warning on a quiet fall day. Rather, it unfolded over at least six months on Americans’ social-media accounts—hardly the stuff of spy novels. Kremlin leaders had signalled their plans years in advance. The Russian playbook wasn’t a secret, either. It had been well documented by European governments, researchers, and journalists after the Kremlin’s information operations to destabilize Estonia, in 2007; Georgia, in 2008; Ukraine, in 2014; and Britain, in the leadup to the 2016 Brexit vote.
Facing one of the clearest domestic threats to the U.S. in a decade, neither the F.B.I., which has the responsibility for conducting counterintelligence inside the United States, nor the O.D.N.I. warned Americans that platoons of Russian-backed automated “bots” and human trolls were working online to amplify racial divisions and anti-government conspiracy theories. The F.B.I. deputy director, Andrew McCabe, admitted in a CNBC interview on October 4th that the U.S. intelligence community “should have predicted” the attacks “with more clarity, maybe, than we did.” “When you overlay these attacks onto what we’ve known on our counterintelligence side about the Russians for many years, it completely fits into their playbook,” he went on. “This ability to insert themselves into our system, to sow discord and social and political unrest, is right up their alley, and it’s something we probably should have seen.” In a recent interview, a senior intelligence official who was given permission to speak with me, agreed. “He’s spot-on,” the official, who asked not to be named, said of McCabe.
John Brennan, who served as the C.I.A. director from 2012 to 2016, has said that there was no way for U.S. intelligence officials to have seen such a Russian effort coming. “People have criticized us and the Obama Administration for not coming out more forcefully in saying it,” he said at a national-security forum in Aspen in July. “There was no playbook for this.”
Many members of the intelligence community, or I.C., as the collective agencies are known, blame President Obama for being reluctant to publicly criticize the Russian campaign during the 2016 election. But, by law, the intelligence chiefs must also keep congressional intelligence-committee members briefed on major threats to national security—yet it doesn’t look as if they gave the representatives many details either. Instead, members of Congress seemed as surprised as the rest of us when they learned about Russia’s social-media presence from recent testimony by Facebook and Twitter. Max Bergmann, who worked at the State Department until 2017, and had access to classified reports on the Russia activities, described the problem to me as “a failure of imagination. Everyone was guilty of the same sin.”
I don’t think even that sentiment captures the scope of the failure, and neither do the foreign officials and experts who watched the Russian effort unfold in the United States. A senior European diplomat, who asked not to be identified, told me recently that the two years that passed between Russia’s cyberattacks on the Ukrainian elections and the 2016 U.S. election “should have been enough to alert U.S. officials.”
Among the first to document Russia’s online disinformation tactics was Olga Yurkova, a thirty-two-year-old journalist who recently graduated from the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy School of Journalism. On March 1, 2014, Yurkova watched on television and online as armed men in unmarked uniforms occupied Crimea. Russian media named them “polite people.” Yurkova and her university colleagues, steeped in previous Russian disinformation operations in the Baltics and elsewhere, knew better.
“Their lies were so blatant that all Ukrainian journalists were speechless with shock,” Yurkova told me from Kiev. “As responsible journalists, we had to do something with this.” The following day, Yurkova created a Web site called StopFake.org, which is dedicated to debunking fake news and identifying Russian disinformation. The article announcing the launch of the site, and its mission, was shared thirteen thousand times on Twitter within two hours, Yurkova told me by e-mail. Readers quickly began sending in bogus stories, and soon were even trying to debunk articles themselves. Every day, StopFake’s team combed Russian- and English-language media for suspicious content. They checked the veracity of sources cited, the accuracy of translations, the validity of numbers and statistics, and the authenticity of photos and videos. Sometimes, they made phone calls to people quoted in a story, or cross-checked facts with laws and regulations. It often took weeks to refute false articles with convincing evidence.
“We have been working for three years to inform very diverse people about why they should consider this problem, how they can reduce the impact of propaganda, and what are the possible ways of countering propaganda as a phenomenon,” Yurkova said. Although StopFake now publishes in eleven languages and has thirty employees, the organization still operates on a shoestring budget: two hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars in 2016, compared to an over-all U.S. intelligence budget of seventy billion dollars. StopFake doesn’t have an office, and, to save money, all of its workers use their personal computers and communicate via Facebook.
Another research center whose work is public is the Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, a NATO-affiliated organization housed in a boxy white building, which I visited last spring in Riga, Latvia. The center’s 2014 report on Russia’s campaign against Ukraine identified the same themes that the Kremlin would use against the United States two years later. “Russia media has systematically cultivated a feeling of fear and anxiety,” the report found. The Presidential Administration, a Kremlin office under the direct authority of Vladimir Putin, “controls a large number of bloggers and trolls in the social media to spread information supporting Russia’s narrative and to silence opponents.” The report said that the bloggers use false personas and identities to flood Facebook and Twitter discussions.
Another analyst who publicly identified Russian disinformation tactics more than two years ago is the former journalist Ben Nimmo, now an Edinburgh-based propaganda expert and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. Nimmo first noticed Kremlin-linked social media interfering in Western democratic processes during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, and he says that they remain active in the U.S. today.
“The structures that are in place are still operating,” Nimmo said. The hundreds of fake accounts that Facebook and Twitter recently identified as Russian-created, he warned, “are like cannon fodder. The Russians use them and just throw them away and create new ones.” Yet the intelligence community remains silent, as if the Russians had gone away.
I found at least a dozen other institutes that appeared to be producing groundbreaking work. Mark Laity, the director of strategic communications at NATO military headquarters, lauded the work of research groups. “They’ve very often done far better than officialdom,” he told me. “They’re producing product that is superb.”
None of the work of these non-government researchers is conducted using surveillance systems, supercomputers, or subpoena power. Nothing the public researchers do is classified. And that is precisely the problem. Government analysts have always viewed open-source information, or OSINT, as it is called in the intelligence world, as a poor substitute for classified information. Intelligence officials often dismiss the importance of public pronouncements by foreign leaders, actions recorded by journalists, data collected by university professors, and discussions at open conferences. It is a decades-old problem. In 2002, the practice helped blind U.S. intelligence officials to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s evidence that Iraq did not actually possess weapons of mass destruction. In 2010, it blinded them again to the Arab Spring revolutions brewing across the Middle East. Devaluing OSINT has become a more significant problem as Russia and China use social media as an arena to wage disinformation operations.
Unless F.B.I. agents and American intelligence officers get over this bias, they will continue asking for special powers to snoop on Internet users in ways that should not be allowed. If they are denied their surveillance requests, they will likely throw up their hands and say that they then can’t help fix the problem. (The F.B.I. declined to comment for this article.)
Russian disinformation operations in the United States continue unabated. Leaving a recent closed-door hearing on the Russian campaign, the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, told reporters, “You can’t walk away from this and believe that Russia’s not currently active.”
The senior intelligence official I interviewed expressed the same concern. “I don’t think we’ve seen a change at all in Russian activity,” she told me. “They are still trying to use race, religion, Democrats, Republicans, E.U., NATO issues as a division. They are still on social media in every way. There’s no change.” The official expressed worry because there has been no intense public debate in the United States, as there has been in the Baltics and Ukraine, about how to respond to Russian disinformation. “I don’t think we’ve been through the same national conversation as Ukraine and other countries to say we will use everything we can to defend against it,” she said.
To see the ongoing Russia disinformation campaign for myself, one day in late September, I went to the Alliance for Securing Democracy’s new public dashboard of trending stories on six hundred Kremlin-oriented or -influenced Twitter accounts. That day, they included claims that the United States is helping ISIS in Syria, conspiracies about the Las Vegas mass shooting, and an attack on the actor Morgan Freeman for launching the Committee to Investigate Russia. The Freeman post—with the headline “Morgan Freeman Psy-Op Proves How Desperate the Deep State Has Become,”—was the most popular.
The 9/11 attacks were followed by a cascade of investigative journalism, congressional committees, and special panels that uncovered damning evidence of the I.C.’s failure to detect the plot and warn the public beforehand. This pattern could repeat itself soon in the Russian debacle. It doesn’t matter that President Trump believes that the allegations are a hoax perpetrated by the media and Democrats. It doesn’t matter that he believes Putin when the Russian leader told him this weekend that he did not meddle in the American elections. It doesn’t matter because the press and Congress are still free to do what they are empowered and protected by the Constitution to do—hold the executive branch accountable.
To avoid long drawn-out investigations and the wasting of even more time, the I.C. should remember two of the most important lessons that emerged after 9/11: it is unwise to conceal the truth and to pretend that all is well. Instead, the director of National Intelligence, Daniel Coats, one of the few members of the Trump Cabinet whose reputation for independence is still intact, could quickly deliver to the public the details of the Russian disinformation effort—minus only the most perishable sources and methods. He could commission educational materials, like those on StopFake’s Web site, that help the public spot online disinformation. He could disclose to Congress the weaknesses in the I.C.’s capabilities, and make the case for rearranging resources to combat this not-so-new threat.
Members of Congress should pay special attention to the F.B.I., which conducts counterintelligence in the United States but which, according to most insiders I interviewed recently, is not up to the job of detecting and countering Russian disinformation.
If Coats doesn’t take these steps, then Congress should do so. There is no time to waste. As the senior intelligence officer told me recently, “We have no reason to believe that 2018 will be any different.”
|5:21 AM 11/13/2017 A freak accident or the premeditated act for the sake of sending the symbolic message?|
Some of the victims of the stairwell collapse at Vault PK in Barrio Logan, Saturday night, being assisted by first responders from the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department and San Diego Police Department. (Keven Smith) A freak accident or the premeditated act for the sake of sending the symbolic message? Interpretation: San Diego: Son, die e … Continue reading“5:21 AM 11/13/2017 A freak accident or the premeditated act for the sake of sending the symbolic message?”
|Trump Cozies Up To Duterte, Ignores Human Rights Questions|
He also laughed when the Philippine leader referred to journalists as “spies.”
|children staircase – Google Search|
KRIS Corpus Christi News
CBS 8 San Diego–Nov 11, 2017
SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) – Multiple children were injured Saturday night after a stairwell collapse at Vault PK. Witnesses told News 8 a staircase …
More than 20 children hurt after staircase collapses
KRIS Corpus Christi News–14 hours ago
21 children injured after platform collapses at San Diego parkour …
Washington Post–11 hours ago
Stairwell Collapse At San Diego Indoor Gym Leaves 21 Kids Hurt
<a href=”http://Patch.com” rel=”nofollow”>Patch.com</a>–20 hours ago
Authorities investigating stairwell collapse at San Diego gym that …
Highly Cited–Los Angeles Times–Nov 11, 2017
Dozens of children injured in stairwell collapse in Barrio Logan
Highly Cited–The San Diego Union-Tribune–Nov 11, 2017
Los Angeles Times
The San Diego Union-Tribune
The San Diego Union-Tribune
|Authorities investigating stairwell collapse at San Diego gym that injured nearly two dozen children|
San Diego building inspectors are still trying to determine how a stairwell at an indoor gym in the Barrio Logan community collapsed Saturday night, injuring more than two dozen people, most of whom were children.
The incident occurred about 7:40 p.m. at Vault PK on Main Street near Sigsbee Street, a large warehouse that shares space with a paintball facility and Crossfit gym, officials said. Vault PK specializes in parkour, a physically demanding sport that requires athletes to navigate military-style obstacle courses.
The accident occurred in the midst of an open gym night for ages 5 to 14, according to the gym’s website.
Twenty-one children and two adults, ages 72 and 46, were taken to various hospitals with moderate to minor injuries. Three or four of the victims suffered spinal injuries when a 10-by-30-foot wooden platform collapsed on them, said San Diego Fire-Rescue Deputy Chief Steve Wright.
“It could have been much worse,” he said.
The patients were taken to Rady Children’s Hospital, Scripps Mercy, Sharp and UC San Diego Medical Center, Wright said. There were additional people with minor injuries who left on their own, rather than by ambulance, he said.
Zachary Smith, who was there with his son for a birthday party, said he was standing on the platform, which he described as a viewing area, along with about 30 others, when the staircase below collapsed, causing the platform to topple. He fell onto a young girl but neither was seriously hurt, he said. Smith’s son was also on the platform at the time but suffered only minor scrapes.
“It was a freak accident,” Smith said, adding that he believes it could have been avoided because the structure did not appear to be built to hold such weight.
Smith said the collapse sparked chaos with parents scrambling to find their children amid the debris.
One parent who did not provide his name said the stairwell collapsed after so many children were running up and down to get pizza. Many parents were likely using a Groupon that had been offered for the evening’s open gym, he said.
His 11-year-old son was not injured. He said he thought 40 to 50 people would show up for the evening “but there were probably three times that.”
Joe Saari said that when he and his wife dropped off their two children for a few hours, there were 100 to 150 kids at the warehouse, which includes trampolines and bouncy houses. The couple were heading back home to Chula Vista when one of their children called and said there had been an accident.
His kids suffered minor scrapes, Saari said.
A woman said her 13-year-old son was unhurt but “devastated” by the traumatic scene. She said she went inside to get him out and saw one child with blood all over his face.
At Total Combat Paintball, which shares the facility with the gym, the day began normally before the accident.
“It was business as usual until we heard a loud boom come from the gym, at which point our staff and some customers ran over to the gym to help any way we could,” the company said in a statement.
An hour after the incident, the street around the warehouse was lined with ambulances and fire trucks, some leaving with victims inside and yet still more emergency vehicles arriving. One woman stood on the sidewalk, holding an ice pack over one eye while she talked on her cellphone.
Children huddled nearby in groups, some with parents. San Diego police corralled the children and matched them up with parents as they arrived.
City building inspectors were on the scene Sunday to investigate the cause of the collapse.
|PBS NewsHour Weekend full episode Nov. 12, 2017|
On this edition for Sunday, Nov. 12, President Trump arrives in the Philippines, his last stop on a five-nation Asia tour. Also, researchers in Hawaii, already a state leader in renewable energy, are using ocean waves to make electricity. Megan Thompson anchors from New York.
|James B. Comey, called a liar and leaker by Trump, tweets a quote about truth and justice – The Washington Post|
Former FBI director James B. Comey has been somewhat active on Twitter over the past month, mostly tweeting nature photos and avoiding anything blatantly political.
In one of his latest tweets, he quoted a sermon from the late English Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon about the difference between a truth and a lie: “If you want truth to go around the world you must hire an express train to pull it; but if you want a lie to go around the world, it will fly; it is light as a feather and a breath will carry it.”
|Trump voters were motivated by racism, not economic anxiety : The Massachusetts Daily Collegian|
(Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
Last week, when White House Chief of Staff John Kelly claimed that the Civil War resulted from “a lack of ability to compromise,” he engaged in one of America’s most cherished pastimes: whitewashing history to coincide with a narrative that both sides of a particular conflict had worthy arguments, and the real tragedy was their inability to come to a mutual understanding. Indeed, if not for his history of commanding Department of Homeland Security officials to generalize immigrant populations as criminal, and his ill-considered feud with African-American Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, General Kelly’s behavior could be viewed as largely a product of the education he received growing up. Until the 1970s, U.S. history textbooks across the country routinely referred to the Civil War as the “War Between the States” and depicted secession and Reconstruction as equally egregious mistakes.
Yesterday finished up one of those calendar occurrences that are oh-so-cherished by members of any student body: a three-day weekend. The reason for this most recent elongated treat was so the country could observe one of its lesser-recognized holidays. I am talking, of course, about Presidents’ Day – or should…
Filed under Archives, Columns, Opinion, Scrolling Headlines · Tagged with bernie sanders, brian schaffner, dj joey franchise, Elizabeth Warren, Frederica Wilson, George Packer, Hillary Clinton, John Kelly, Matthew MacWilliams, New York Times, New Yorker, Nicholas Kristoff, President Trump, Tatishe Nteta
|Bulgaria’s Richest Man or Mafia Kingpin? Possibly Both | Provocateurs|
You may not know their names, but the world’s Little Known Billionaires wield a hidden economic clout. Read more of this OZY original series.
There’s a saying that goes “Other countries have the mafia; in Bulgaria, the mafia has the country.” Many Bulgarians may reject the notion, but from the look on his face, whether in photographs or the rare interview, Vasil “the Skull” Bozhkov, supposed mafia kingpin and Bulgaria’s richest man, doesn’t disagree. Often shown smirking or reclining with a cigar, Bozhkov, an entrepreneur with an estimated net worth of $1.5 billion, gives off an air of impervious and unbridled power.
The origin of the nickname is unknown, but glance at a leaked 2009 report on Bulgaria’s most wanted criminals prepared by U.S. Chargé d’Affaires John Ordway, and you’ll find a colorful cast of Bulgarian mob bosses, including the Beret, Big Margin, the Chicken and the Billy Goat. Perhaps Bozhkov is known as the Skull because of his very prominent facial bones, or maybe it’s the way his piercing eyes peer out from deep-set sockets. Or, it could be something more sinister.
Bulgarian mogul Vasil Bozhkov has amassed an extensive collection of rare Thracian artifacts, offering a glimpse of a little-known ancient civilization which has left no written records.
Source Courtesy of CSKA sports
Bozhkov, 61, made his fortune during Bulgaria’s transition from communism to capitalism in 1989. His first company, a currency exchange opened in 1990 in Sofia, quickly expanded into a chain. In 1991, he and two partners formed IGM, a gambling company that started with one casino at the Hotel Rila in Sofia and now has countless sites throughout the city. By the end of that year, Bozhkov had amassed profits so great that he set up a holding company, Nove, which today is comprised of more than 30 businesses with numerous subsidiaries, including the popular Eurofootball lottery.
Though it seems an impossible leap to go from owning a handful of currency exchanges to running a multinational empire in a single year, it’s important to note that just after the fall of socialism, a little went a long way. Bozhkov’s rise in Bulgaria was, in some ways, a preview of the wealth a handful of Russian oligarchs would rapidly amass a few years later thanks to a similar transition, after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. “At this time, you could buy a three-bedroom flat in Sofia for $4,000,” explains Lachezar Bogdanov, manager of the Bulgarian economic think tank Industry Watch. “Everything was so cheap that if you had a few million dollars, it was a huge advantage.” And the Skull had more than a few million — in fact, he had a whole bank’s worth of leva. In 1994 he opened the Bulgarian Commercial Industrial Bank, which soon merged with Credit Bank of Multigroup, a savvy move that gave Bozhkov the power to lend himself money through the network of companies under the Nove umbrella.
Born in 1956 in Velingrad, Bulgaria, the man who would become the Skull grew up under the totalitarian regime of Todor Zhivkov, a Soviet bloc Communist who ruled his country with an iron fist for 35 years until his ouster in 1989. It was a period when Bulgaria was a reclusive, agrarian country, sheltered from Western capitalist influences — and utterly devoid of the flashy foreign cars driven by designer-clad gangsters that zip through the streets Sofia today.
Precisely when and how Bozhkov allegedly entered organized crime is unknown, but according to the report from Ordway, a veteran foreign service officer and former U.S. ambassador, he is “Bulgaria’s most infamous gangster.” And while he has never been brought to court for syndicated crime, another leaked report — this one classified in 2005 by former U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria James Pardew — states: “Bozhkov’s illegal activities include money laundering, privatization fraud, intimidation, extortion and racketeering.” Organized crime in Bulgaria, as detailed in Ordway’s report, is particularly active in international money laundering, drug and human trafficking, counterfeiting and contract killing.
Today, the Skull has strayed far from the Communist ideals of his childhood, enjoying the opulent lifestyle afforded by his billionaire status. An avid art collector, he owns hundreds of Roman, Greek and Thracian works of art. In 2011, he loaned artifacts for an exhibition at the National History Museum in Sofia, and to coincide with Bulgaria’s admission into the EU, he was invited to exhibit items from his collection in Brussels. Unfortunately, while Bulgaria boasts some of the richest archaeological sites around, plunderers are known to raid tombs and graves — fueling a black market in ancient treasures that some speculate can be traced to Bozhkov’s extensive collection.
Philanthropic gestures aside, Bozhkov is still seen as a key player in Bulgaria’s deeply corrupt landscape. According to a report published last year by Transparency International, Bulgaria is perceived as the most corrupt country in the European Union on measures that include freedom of the press, independent judiciary and organized crime. “Corruption risks in Bulgaria remain high,” explains Miriam Konradsen Ayed from GAN’s Business Anti-Corruption Portal. “The judiciary is particularly susceptible to corruption due to undue influence from politicians and well-connected businessmen.” And Ordway maintains in his leaked report that bringing reputed mafia ring leaders like the Skull to justice “would be a major victory for the new government and demonstrate to a skeptical European Commission (and Bulgarian public) that the days of impunity are over.”
It’s a reality that may be inching closer. In 2015, Bulgaria adopted two strategic documents — the National Strategy for Preventing and Countering Corruption 2015-2020 and Strategic Guidelines for the Prevention and Counteraction to Corruption 2015-2020, notes Jasna Panjeta, program and outreach director for the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative. She believes the Bulgarian government has made it a priority to increase transparency across all public sectors and says the European Commission’s Cooperation and Verification Mechanism will continue to monitor judicial reform and efforts to curtail corruption and organized crime.
Not everyone agrees that the Skull’s rise to the top is a clear example of corruption. “It’s the way that the system works,” insists Bogdanov, adding that the “entrepreneurs” who made quick starts out of the gate in the early ’90s exploited the opportunities presented by the regime change and gained a major advantage. Infamous gangster or crafty businessman? We tried asking, but the Skull didn’t respond to our request for an interview. And we left it at that.
|How Spains Fight Against Gangsters Revealed Russian Power Networks|
These were all examples of how making someone’s personal, and sometimes private, information public on the internet led to intense harassment.
Today, each of the cases could easily be termed a form of doxxing — short for “dropping documents.” In the last few years, doxxing has increasingly been used as an online weapon to attack people. People’s “documents” — records of their addresses, relatives, finances — get posted online with the implicit or explicit invitation for others to shame or hector them.
But while doxxing may seem both creepy and dangerous, there is no single federal law against the practice. Such behavior has to be part of a wider campaign of harassment or stalking for it to be against the law.
It was all fascinating and disturbing, and I think leaves people, myself included, with a lot to think about concerning doxxing, its effectiveness and appropriateness both. Reporters, after all, have been doing a form of doxxing for decades.
But to hope of thinking clearly about doxxing, it always helps to better understand it and its practitioners.
So, how do doxxers dox? They use public records, like property records, tax documents, voter registration databases; they scour social media, real estate websites and even do real-life surveillance to gather information. Then, they publish the information online.
For some, doxxing is morally troubling. Law professor Danielle Citron is one. “It provides a permission structure to go outside the law and punish each other,” she says. “It’s like shaming in cyber-mobs.”
Then, there is the matter of doxxing the wrong person.
Here’s an example: After the infamous “Unite the Right” protest in Charlottesville, an attendee wearing an “Arkansas engineering” shirt was identified as Kyle Quinn, a professor at the University of Arkansas. Except Kyle Quinn wasn’t in Charlottesville. That didn’t stop the internet, and so when “Kyle Quinn” was doxxed as one of those torch — bearing protesters in Charlottesville, Quinn spent a weekend in hiding due to the amount of online abuse he subsequently received. The real protester, a former engineering student named Andrew M. Dodson, later apologized.
In some cases, people doxxed after taking part in white supremacist marches have been arrested, lost their jobs or allegedly been disowned by their families.
Other experts question whether doxxing white supremacists is a useful tactic. “Is this an effective means of challenging racist views?” ask Ajay Sandhu and Daniel Marciniak, researchers at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom. They argue that doxxing simply isolates people, forcing them into smaller parts of the internet. “You don’t really challenge them, you allow them to exist in those isolated spaces,” Sandhu says.
Some tips on how to protect yourself from doxxing
The short answer is: You probably can’t fully. But we have a few tips that will help make the information you want kept private more secure.
Two-factor authentication adds another level of security for online accounts. You should set this up for your social media, online banking, and any account connected to your credit cards (Venmo, PayPal, Amazon), and things with recurring payments that have credit card info like Netflix. For social media, here’s
for your Facebook account, and here’s one
Increase privacy on your social media accounts
For Facebook, you can adjust your privacy settings
. Some boxes to check:
Also helpful to reduce personal information in your public profile:
How strong are your passwords?
Other sites: Once you’ve scrubbed the above listings, it’s a good idea to Google your name and the words “address” or “phone number” and see what comes up. If something does, find a way to manually opt out of each one of those sites.
Voter files are public records in nearly every state, but some states block the release of information for certain people. For example,
information for individuals participating in the state’s Address Confidentiality Program for victims of domestic violence and stalking. It’s worth checking with your local or state election authority to see how your state operates.
If you want more, here are some guides we are particularly fond of:
|17 Signs of Trump Team Collusion with Russia – PlanetSave.com|
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|VOA Newscasts – November 12, 2017|
Give us 5 minutes, and we’ll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.
|PBS NewsHour Weekend full episode Nov. 12, 2017 – YouTube|
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|Donald Trump: Former Top Intelligence Chiefs: Trump Being ‘Played’ By Putin|
I think Mr. Putin is very clever in terms of playing to Mr. Trumps interest in being flattered, former CIA Director John Brennan said
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Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks Ex-Intel Heads Respond As Trump Muddles Message On Russian Influence In Election : The Two-Way : NPR putin won US 2016 election – Google News: Ex-Intel Heads Respond As Trump Muddles Message On Russian Influence In Election – NPR putin won US 2016 election – Google News: Clapper: Downplaying Russia threat … Continue reading“1:58 PM 11/12/2017 – Ex-Intel Heads Respond As Trump Muddles…”
|Just Security: Who in Their Right Mind Would Believe Putin?|
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organized crime and intelligence – Google News
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A day after meeting with the Russian president during an economic summit in Vietnam, President Trump told reporters he sided with U.S. intelligence agencies but believed that Putin “feels” his country “did not meddle in the election.” Jorge Silva/AP hide caption
A day after meeting with the Russian president during an economic summit in Vietnam, President Trump told reporters he sided with U.S. intelligence agencies but believed that Putin “feels” his country “did not meddle in the election.”
Mixed statements from President Trump during his Asia trip drew criticisms at home Sunday, particularly over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claims that his country didn’t meddle in the 2016 U.S. Elections.
Scott goes on to report that a statement from the U.S. State Department says conversations between the two leaders were focused on Syria and defeating ISIS there.
|putin won US 2016 election – Google News: Ex-Intel Heads Respond As Trump Muddles Message On Russian Influence In Election – NPR|
putin won US 2016 election – Google News
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putin won US 2016 election – Google News
|Mueller Immediately Closes Investigation After Hearing Putin Proclaim His Innocence – The New Yorker (satire)|
|Saved Stories – 1. Trump: Ex-intelligence chiefs: Trump is being played by Putin and US is in ‘peril’|
Two former US intelligence chiefs have said Donald Trump poses a peril to the US because he is vulnerable to being played by Russia, after the president said on Saturday he believed Vladimir Putins denials of Russian interference in the 2016 election.