Last week, a 25-minute video published by Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny alleging a new link between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign made headlines around the world. Now the Russian government wants it scrubbed from the internet—so much so that it is taking steps that could block millions of its own citizens from using YouTube or Instagram.
The video was released last Thursday and accused Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Prikhodko—a top foreign policy official—of having been a conduit between the Kremlin and Oleg Deripaska, an oligarch linked to the Trump campaign. In making his case, Navalny mined the autobiography and Instagram feeds of Nastya Rybka, a Russian model and escort who claims to be Deripaska’s mistress. Drawing on video and audio Rybka posted that captured her, Deripaska, and Prikhodko relaxing on a yacht while the two men discuss US-Russia relations, Navalny’s video alleges that Deripaska hosted Prikhodko for a secret meeting at sea in the company of several female escorts. Deripaska immediately denied the claim and threatened to sue media outlets reporting on it, assailing the video as a “planned campaign aiming to damage my reputation.”
The day after the video’s publication, Deripaska won a court injunction requiring it—along with six other videos and 14 Instagram posts—to be taken down. The court, in Deripaska’s native Krasnodar region, found that the posts violated his right to privacy and ordered that they must come down.
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Intelligence officials testified before a Senate committee about global threats. Left to right: FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Robert Ashley, National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency Director Robert Cardillo. Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
In their annual summary of global threats, the nation’s intelligence agencies warned on Tuesday that climate change and other environmental trends “are likely to fuel economic and social discontent—and possibly upheaval—through 2018.”
While there may not be indications of an abrupt and cataclysmic event on the immediate horizon, the trends are already visible, they said in a statement presented to the Senate Intelligence Committee at a hearing where the Trump administration’s top intelligence officials testified.
The statement was matter-of-fact and brief, but unambiguous. Normally, conclusions like these might not deserve much notice. But in an administration where top officials, including some with intelligence responsibilities, have repeatedly questioned the basic science of global warming, such a frank confirmation of the mainstream consensus was striking.
Early this past December, Virginia state officials opened up their latest “dynamically priced” toll superhighway, a 10-mile stretch of interstate that runs from Northern Virginia into Washington, D.C. Ten days later, commuter Chris Kane looked up at the signage that continually updates the road’s current rush-hour fare.
The sign read $44.
“That’s insane,” Kane tweeted.
This stressed-out commuter had a point. But a great many of our elected officials today, in Virginia and around the country, don’t buy it. The incredibly pricey tolls that commuter Chris Kane sees as insane have become our conventional public policy wisdom on transportation.
Former intelligence officers are joining mainstream news networks as analysts with increasing frequency—a pattern that threatens the independence of the American press, warns journalist Caitlin Johnstone, who writes at Consortium News:
More and more of the outlets from which Americans get their information are being filled not just with garden variety establishment loyalists, but with longstanding members of the U.S. intelligence community. These men got to their positions of power within these deeply sociopathic institutions based on their willingness to facilitate any depravity in order to advance the secret agendas of the U.S. power establishment, and now they’re being paraded in front of mainstream Americans on cable news on a daily basis. The words of these “experts” are consistently taken and reported on by smaller news outlets in print and online media in a way that seeds their authoritative assertions throughout public consciousness.
A recent example is John Brennan, who was CIA director from 2013 to 2017 and who joined NBC News and MSNBC this month as a senior national security and intelligence analyst. Glenn Greenwald wrote a 2013 article in The Guardian about Brennan, who in 2008 had withdrawn his name for consideration for CIA director because of an outpouring of “strong criticism:”
STARMAN, 1 MILLION KILOMETERS AWAY: On Feb. 10, 2018, Enrico Pettarin of Farra dIsonzo, Italy, photographed Elon Musk’s cherry red Tesla Roadster more than 1 million km from Earth “It was very faint,” says Pettarin, “shining in reflected sunlight like a 17th magnitude star, but I was able to photograph it using my 0.4-meter telescope.”
Launched on Feb. 6, 2018, by a Falcon Heavy Rocket at Cape Canaveral, the Roadster is traveling around the sun on an elliptical orbit that will take it beyond the orbit of Mars. Every day it is getting farther from Earth.
Other amateur astronomers around the world have also been photographing the distant electric car, piloted by a space-suited mannequin named “Starman.” At the moment, Pettarin holds the distance record. But stay tuned, because records are meant to be broken!
THE UNITED STATES intelligence community has been conducting a top-secret operation to recover stolen classified U.S. government documents from Russian operatives, according to sources familiar with the matter. The operation has also inadvertently yielded a cache of documents purporting to relate to Donald Trump and Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Over the past year, American intelligence officials have opened a secret communications channel with the Russian operatives, who have been seeking to sell both Trump-related materials and documents stolen from the National Security Agency and obtained by Russian intelligence, according to people involved with the matter and other documentary evidence. The channel started developing in early 2017, when American and Russian intermediaries began meeting in Germany. Eventually, a Russian intermediary, apparently representing some elements of the Russian intelligence community, agreed to a deal to sell stolen NSA documents back to the U.S. while also seeking to include Trump-related materials in the package.