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Wikileaks refused to publish massive hack of Russian government intel during 2016 US presidential campaign

[ 0 ] August 17, 2017 |

In the summer of 2016, as WikiLeaks was publishing documents from Democratic operatives allegedly obtained by Kremlin-directed hackers, Julian Assange turned down a large cache of documents related to the Russian government, according to chat messages and a source who provided the records.

WikiLeaks declined to publish a wide-ranging trove of documents — at least 68 gigabytes of data — that came from inside the Russian Interior Ministry, according to partial chat logs reviewed by Foreign Policy.

The logs, which were provided to FP, only included WikiLeaks’s side of the conversation.

“As far as we recall these are already public,” WikiLeaks wrote at the time.

“WikiLeaks rejects all submissions that it cannot verify. WikiLeaks rejects submissions that have already been published elsewhere or which are likely to be considered insignificant. WikiLeaks has never rejected a submission due to its country of origin,” the organization wrote in a Twitter direct message when contacted by FP about the Russian cache.

(The account is widely believed to be operated solely by Assange, the group’s founder, but in a Twitter message to FP, the organization said it is maintained by “staff.”)

In 2014, the BBC and other news outlets reported on the cache, which revealed details about Russian military and intelligence involvement in Ukraine. However, the information from that hack was less than half the data that later became available in 2016, when Assange turned it down.

“We had several leaks sent to Wikileaks, including the Russian hack. It would have exposed Russian activities and shown WikiLeaks was not controlled by Russian security services,” the source who provided the messages wrote to FP. “Many Wikileaks staff and volunteers or their families suffered at the hands of Russian corruption and cruelty, we were sure Wikileaks would release it. Assange gave excuse after excuse.”

The Russian cache was eventually quietly published online elsewhere, to almost no attention or scrutiny.

In the months leading up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of potentially damaging emails about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and her campaign, information the U.S. intelligence community believes was hacked as part of a Kremlin-directed campaign. Assange’s role in publishing the leaks sparked allegations that he was advancing a Russian-backed agenda.

Back in 2010, Assange vowed to publish documents on any institution that resisted oversight.

With notably rare exceptions, apparently.


The Dunning-Kruger school

[ 0 ] August 17, 2017 |

Donald Trump is spending this morning of his vacation lamenting the removal of various monuments to treason in defense of slavery:

Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. You…..

…can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson – who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish! Also…

.the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!

One thing I’ve been surprised by during this slow motion car crash into a raging dumpster fire of a presidency is the sheer depth of Trump’s stupidity and ignorance. You could tell during Tuesday’s press conference that he thought he had come up with a new and especially powerful argument when he lectured the reporters about the previously unappreciated fact — no doubt just relayed to him by an advisor in the previous day or two — that Washington and Jefferson owned slaves (wait until he finds out that Jefferson liked to rape some of his).

On top of everything else, he’s just really really dumb — and of course he remains blissfully unaware of this.

Trump melts down at press conference

[ 192 ] August 15, 2017 |


Not literally unfortunately.

Trump again blames all sides for Virginia violence in bizarre, chaotic press conference

President Donald Trump on Tuesday adamantly defended his response to the deadly white nationalist rally in Virginia in a chaotic press conference, backing again into the blame of all sides that put him into bipartisan hot water.

Bickering with reporters, some of whom he called “fake news,” Trump defended the protest that led to the violence and contended that some of the individuals carrying torches at the white nationalist rally did not have bad intentions.

“You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists and the press has treated them absolutely unfairly,” Trump said at Trump Tower in New York. He repeatedly stressed that the rally started over the potential removal of a statute of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Asking the rhetorical question of whether Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, he asked, “Are we going to take down Thomas Jefferson’s statue?”

The bizarre display will likely do little to staunch the bipartisan criticism heaped on Trump on Saturday after he condemned violence “on many sides.” The White House attempted to limit the damage Monday, when Trump made a statement condemning neo-Nazis, white supremacists and KKK members.

Only three and half more years of this to go.

UPDATE: Maybe not. I’m told that FOX News has done a sudden 180 on Trump after this performance. Has Murdoch decided to pull the plug on this show?

Charlotte Law School closes

[ 9 ] August 15, 2017 |

The law school reform movement recorded another small but significant victory today, with the sudden closing of the Charlotte School of Law, just days before the fall semester was scheduled to begin. CSL was one of the three ABA-sanctioned institutions run by Infilaw, a particularly scammy for-profit outfit which I profiled three years ago, in a piece that modesty forbids me from pointing out described exactly how this particular higher ed bust out scheme was being run, and where it was going to end up.

The good news for the school’s marks victims students is that those of them who remained enrolled to the bitter end, or who withdrew within the last 120 days, will now have their federal educational loans automatically discharged if they don’t transfer to another law school.

One student who transferred to another law school wrote to Above the Law:

Charlotte School of Law has never cared about its students, but the money they brought in. I’m sure their students will learn of its closure through the media. If students get an email, it will probably be later this afternoon.

On a personal note, I have no sympathy for the faculty of Charlotte School of Law. They brought this upon themselves and should be reminded of it. They were all well aware of the school’s problems and were complicit in its downfall with poor curriculum, grading curves, and being fine with accepting and then failing out unqualified students. Charlotte School of Law professors only cared about their jobs and positions, not the welfare of students. I do not wish terrible things on their families, but for all the faculty and staff at Charlotte School of Law, I wish the same fate the students will suffer upon them. I hope they encounter hard choices between a rock and a hard place, massive debt, and extremely poor job prospects as a consequence from coming out of that school.

This means that, after many decades over the course of which dozens of new ABA law schools were approved while none were ever shut down, four ABA law schools have gone out of business in just the last two years: Hamline,* Indiana Tech, Whittier, and now Charlotte (this represents 2% of all ABA schools). It remains to be seen if we are nearing some sort of tipping point, which will cause other university administrators who have been subsidizing money-losing law schools with bad reputations — several dozen ABA schools currently fit this description — to decide that they have been throwing good money after bad.

*Hamline University’s law school technically merged with William Mitchell, a free-standing law school, but since the new school is the same size as William Mitchell was prior to the merger, this in effect allowed Hamline to close its law school while minimizing reputational damage to the university as a whole.

The deeply mysterious semiotics of the Unite the Right rally

[ 202 ] August 13, 2017 |

Maybe Ann Althouse and Glen Reynolds could organize a conference on the complicated question of whether this poster indicates that there may have been some sort of anti-Semitic undertone to yesterday’s gathering of proudly White men.

Just a suggestion: Mr. and Mrs. Jared Kushner could no doubt add some much-needed perspective on the matter.

Let’s not argue and bicker about who killed who

[ 131 ] August 12, 2017 |

For Trump, I suppose this counts as subtle:

President Trump said he condemns hatred and bigotry on “many sides” in Charlottesville, Virginia, in remarks from New Jersey, his first since white nationalist group protests turned violent and resulted in at least one death on Saturday.

“We’re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia,” Mr. Trump said. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides.”

In his remarks, the president failed to mention the displays of white nationalism or Nazi symbols present in Charlottesville Saturday.

“It’s been going on for a long time in our country,” Mr. Trump said of the hatred and bigotry in Charlottesville. “Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time.”

Anybody want to take a crack at translating the last three sentences from Trumpspeak into English?

The bottom line here of course is that fascists and anti-fascists are both to blame. (To be fair, the mainstream media seems much less prone to both sides do it ism than they were six months ago. To be just, that is literally the least they can do after all they did to bring this situation about).

This is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

Trump thanks Putin for expelling US diplomats from Russia because it cuts the government payroll

[ 140 ] August 10, 2017 |

I kid, I kid.

Oh wait I don’t:

BEDMINSTER, N.J. — President Trump said here Thursday that he is “very thankful” to Russian President Vladimir Putin for expelling hundreds of U.S. diplomats from Russia because he said it helps him cut the U.S. government’s payroll.

Addressing for the first time Putin’s decision late last month that the U.S. Embassy and consulates in Russia would have to cut 775 diplomatic and technical staff, Trump told reporters that he sees no reason for them to continue working in Russia.

“I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down our payroll and as far as I’m concerned I’m very thankful that he let go a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll,” Trump said. “There’s no real reason for them to go back. I greatly appreciate the fact that we’ve been able to cut our payroll of the United States. We’re going to save a lot of money.”

Good job America.

Also, her emails.

Your opposite job

[ 157 ] August 10, 2017 |

The New York Times has used Labor Department descriptions of what skills you need to do a particular job to create a web thingy where you can supposedly figure out what the opposite job to your own might be.

For a cheap laugh at Erik’s expense, type in Historian.

In case you’re wondering, the opposite job to a lawyer’s is an agricultural grader, which is a person who sorts agricultural products according to their size, quality, and type. This is a profession which requires maintaining excruciating attention to detail while performing essentially the same mind-numbing task over and over again, so obviously it is the exact opposite of proofreading a 320-page financial document, that looks a whole lot like the previous 77 320-page financial documents you reviewed this month.

Misty water-colored memories

[ 190 ] August 8, 2017 |

Guess who wrote or perhaps dictated this on April 30th of last year, published under the headline “Donald the Dove, Hillary the Hawk:

WASHINGTON — IT seems odd, in this era of gender fluidity, that we are headed toward the most stark X versus Y battle since Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.

Donald Trump exudes macho, wearing his trucker hat, retweeting bimbo cracks, swearing with abandon and bragging about the size of his manhood, his crowds, his hands, his poll margins, his bank account, his skyscrapers, his steaks and his “beautiful” wall. . .

Hillary Clinton’s rallies, by contrast, can seem like a sorority rush reception hosted by Lena Dunham, or an endless episode of “The View,” with a girl-power soundtrack by Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato. The ultimate insider is portraying herself as an outsider because she’s a woman, and the candidate who is considered steely is casting herself as cozy because she’s a doting granny.

And yet . . . can it be that it was all so simple then?

Once you get beyond the surface of the 2016 battle of the sexes, with its chest-thumping versus maternal hugging, there’s a more intriguing gender dynamic.

On some foreign policy issues, the roles are reversed for the candidates and their parties. It’s Hillary the Hawk against Donald the Quasi-Dove.

Just as Barack Obama seemed the more feminized candidate in 2008 because of his talk-it-out management style, his antiwar platform and his delicate eating habits, always watching his figure, so now, in some ways, Trump seems less macho than Hillary.

He has a tender ego, pouty tweets, needy temperament and obsession with hand sanitizer, whereas she is so tough and combat-hardened, she’s known by her staff as “the Warrior.”

If we had the chance to do it all again . . .

Glen Campbell

[ 44 ] August 8, 2017 |

Glen Campbell has died at the age of 81.

Here is a complete list of songs of his that I can recognize:

The Wichita Lineman
Rhinestone Cowboy
Southern Nights

I like the first two quite a bit. He was a big crossover star in the late 60s through the mid-70s. He had a variety show on one of the major networks when that was a thing.

This exhausts my Glen Campbell knowledge base. Hopefully Erik will supplement at length.

Comments are wide open.

Mend your speech a little

[ 268 ] August 8, 2017 |

La Rochefoucauld’s aphorism that “we sometimes think we hate flattery, but what we hate is merely the way it is done” is obviously not a universal principle:

Twice a day since the beginning of the Trump administration, a special folder is prepared for the president. The first document is prepared around 9:30 a.m. and the follow-up, around 4:30 p.m. Former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and former Press Secretary Sean Spicer both wanted the privilege of delivering the 20-to-25-page packet to President Trump personally, White House sources say.

These sensitive papers, described to VICE News by three current and former White House officials, don’t contain top-secret intelligence or updates on legislative initiatives. Instead, the folders are filled with screenshots of positive cable news chyrons (those lower-third headlines and crawls), admiring tweets, transcripts of fawning TV interviews, praise-filled news stories, and sometimes just pictures of Trump on TV looking powerful.

What a pitiful excuse for a human being.

Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury

[ 173 ] August 3, 2017 |

And away we go:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Special counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in Washington to investigate allegations of Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, the Wall Street Journal said on Thursday, citing two unnamed people familiar with the matter.

The grand jury began its work in recent weeks and is a sign that Mueller’s inquiry into Russia’s efforts to influence the election and whether it colluded with President Donald Trump’s campaign is ramping up, the Journal said.

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