Russian Foreign Ministry briefing: Venezuela; Syria; Silicon Valley is hacking the Foreign Ministry website

Briefing by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova
April 12, 2017

Excerpts:

The situation in Venezuela

We’re receiving a lot of requests to explain Moscow’s position on this issue.

We’re watching with concern the situation in Venezuela, a country with which we maintain friendly relations, where opposition activists continue to clash with law-enforcers, even with the Easter holidays approaching. We feel sorry for the people who were killed or injured in street violence that is spiralling out of control. We cannot help mentioning a growing risk that the destructive scenarios which we have spoken about time and again and have warned against and which call to mind the grievous events in Chile in the 1970s might be implemented.

We believe that non-violence offers a way to end political confrontation – this is exactly our vision of how to resolve the political crisis and resume nationwide dialogue for the sake of searching jointly for answers and solutions to the socioeconomic challenges facing the country.

In this context, we’re concerned about the statements by the US Southern Command to the effect that further aggravation of the crisis in Venezuela might require a prompt response at a regional level. It should be understood that statements like these are adding to the instability, escalating the situation in that country. They cannot be treated otherwise than words to encourage Venezuelan radicals to create an atmosphere of uncertainty and instability and incite violent confrontation. We consider the fact that tensions are running high in Venezuela to be a very dangerous trend. Honestly, in our view, this would hardly be in the interests of the United States and the entire international community, including the countries in the region.

We would like to say again that all political processes unfolding in Venezuela should be strictly in line with the constitution, keep to both its letter and spirit in full, and comply with the governing laws. There is no alternative to a peaceful settlement of Venezuela’s internal problems reached at the negotiating table and in compliance with the constitution – and there cannot be any.

The situation in Syria

The military-political situation in Syria sharply deteriorated following the massive US strike on April 7 against the al-Shayrat airfield where Syrian Air Force planes are based. In this room, as well as for many other audiences, we have given an extended evaluation of that, issuing corresponding statements and explanations and making comments. As is known, Russia responded to that outright act of aggression against a sovereign UN member state by suspending the Russian-US memorandum on the prevention of air incidents in the course of operations in Syria. A corresponding explanation was provided via both the Defence Ministry and the Foreign Ministry. Washington’s use of force is a serious challenge not only to regional but also to international security.

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From Selma to the CIA. Rep. John Lewis will boycott inauguration of Donald Trump

Global Research, January 19, 2017
World Socialist Web Site 16 January 2017

In an interview conducted Friday for NBC’s Sunday morning program “Meet the Press,” Democratic Representative John Lewis announced that he would boycott the inauguration of President Donald Trump because, “I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president.”

There are many reasons to reject and oppose the presidency of Donald Trump: he personifies the financial oligarchy that now dominates the US political system and seeks to subordinate all public policy to its mad drive to amass ever-greater wealth; he has filled his cabinet and White House staff with ultra-right ideologues, fellow billionaires and ex-generals; his government is committed to a program of drastic cuts in spending for education, health care and other public services, combined with a massive military buildup.

Lewis, however, mentioned none of these things. He based his rejection of Trump on the report by US intelligence agencies about Russian hacking during the 2016 presidential election campaign. “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected, and they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” he said. “That’s not right. That’s not fair. That’s not the open democratic process.”

No evidence has been presented proving that the Russian government was responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign. The hue and cry over Russian hacking has two purposes: to conceal the actual content of the leaked emails, which showed the right-wing and antidemocratic character of the Clinton campaign, and to whip up public opinion in the United States in favor of political, economic, diplomatic and ultimately military “retaliation” against Russia.

There is not the slightest genuine democratic content to Lewis’s critique of Trump. He did not cite Trump’s loss of the popular vote by nearly three million votes, or the impact of voter ID laws enacted by many Republican-controlled state governments to suppress minority voting. His attack on Trump consisted solely of embracing the CIA-led anti-Russian campaign in language reminiscent of the 1950s redbaiter Joseph McCarthy.

There is a grim historical irony here. During the years of the most intense struggles for civil rights in the South, in the 1950s and 1960s, the FBI, the police in cities like Birmingham, Alabama, and the southern Democratic politicians all claimed that protests against segregation were the work of “outside agitators,” communists sent in to do the bidding of the Soviet Union. But John Lewis, who played a significant role as a student leader during those years and led the march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, has remembered only one thing: denouncing your opponents as tools of Russia is a proven propaganda tactic.

A congressman from Atlanta for the past 30 years, Lewis personifies the recruitment and corruption of a section of middle-class African-Americans to reinforce the domination of capitalist politics. Civil rights leaders like Lewis were co-opted as part of a conscious strategy of the US ruling elite to refurbish the Democratic Party and the state machinery as a whole.

Dozens of major cities were turned over to African-American mayors, some of them veterans of the civil rights struggles, others merely cashing in on it. The Congressional Black Caucus expanded its number from a handful to more than thirty. With the assistance of programs like affirmative action, slots were created for black academics, government officials, military officers, corporate executives and ultimately CEOs.

These positions were not very numerous, but they were well paid, politically symbolic and gave a cover of “diversity” for the depredations of American big business and the crimes of the Pentagon. US imperialism incinerated tens of thousands of defenseless Iraqi conscripts while General Colin Powell, the first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, briefed the press on the progress of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. In similar fashion, Powell, as the first black secretary of state, and Condoleezza Rice, the first black female national security adviser, were at George W. Bush’s side when he launched the illegal 2003 invasion of Iraq.

This process culminated in the election of Barack Obama, the first African-American president—also the first president to assert the right to assassinate American citizens, using drone-fired missiles, anywhere in the world. Obama, a creature of the military-intelligence apparatus, expanded the war in Afghanistan, launched a new war in Libya and engaged the US military once again in war in Iraq and Syria. He continued and strengthened the police state operations of the CIA, the FBI and the National Security Agency.

It is noteworthy—and characteristic of this corrupt layer of African-American Democratic politicians—that John Lewis has never opposed the military-intelligence operations of the Obama administration. On the contrary, Lewis received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Obama in 2011, the same year Obama authorized the drone-missile assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen.

Some 50 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. made a critical step forward when he sought to combine the struggle for democratic rights at home with opposition to imperialist war abroad, courageously coming out against the war in Vietnam. There is not a shred of such principle among those who today seek to wrap themselves in King’s mantle in order to cover their own right-wing politics.

After Dr. King’s assassination in April 1968—an event that was undoubtedly linked to his turn against the Vietnam War—his acolytes made their peace with the establishment. Some of them, like Andrew Young, who had always stood on the right wing in King’s councils, became open apologists for US imperialism, with Young serving as US ambassador to the United Nations in the Carter administration.

Others, like Jesse Jackson, Julian Bond and John Lewis, became political hacks for the Democratic Party, giving this party of big business a “progressive” cover as it moved further and further to the right. Lewis also served in the Carter administration, running several antipoverty programs, before winning a congressional seat in 1986. In recent years, he has cashed in quite literally on his role in the 1960s, with his Faith and Politics Institute selling seats to lobbyists for $25,000 apiece to his annual visit to Selma to reenact the 1965 march.

The enlistment of Lewis in the warmongering anti-Russian campaign only underscores the political challenge facing the American working class. No section of the Democratic Party will conduct a genuine or principled struggle against the monstrous right-wing program of the Trump administration and the Republican Congress. The Democratic Party, like the Republicans, defends the profits and wealth of the financial aristocracy and the global interests of American imperialism.

Chris Hedges: The real purpose of the U.S. National Intelligence Report on alleged hacking by Russia

Global Research, January 12, 2017
Truthdig 8 January 2017

Some thoughts on “Russia’s Influence Campaign Targeting the 2016 US Presidential Election,” the newly released declassified report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

1. The primary purpose of the declassified report, which offers no evidence to support its assertions that Russia hacked the U.S. presidential election campaign, is to discredit Donald Trump. I am not saying there was no Russian hack of John Podesta’s emails. I am saying we have yet to see any tangible proof to back up the accusation. This charge—Sen. John McCain has likened the alleged effort by Russia to an act of war—is the first salvo in what will be a relentless campaign by the Republican and Democratic establishment, along with its corporatist allies and the mass media, to destroy the credibility of the president-elect and prepare the way for impeachment.

A detail of a page in the declassified report. (Jon Elswick / AP)

The allegations in the report, amplified in breathtaking pronouncements by a compliant corporate media that operates in a non-fact-based universe every bit as pernicious as that inhabited by Trump, are designed to make Trump look like Vladimir Putin’s useful idiot. An orchestrated and sustained campaign of innuendo and character assassination will be directed against Trump. When impeachment is finally proposed, Trump will have little public support and few allies and will have become a figure of open ridicule in the corporate media.

2. The second task of the report is to bolster the McCarthyist smear campaign against independent media, including Truthdig, as witting or unwitting agents of the Russian government. The demise of the English programming of Al-Jazeera and TeleSur, along with the collapse of the nation’s public broadcasting, designed to give a voice to those not beholden to corporate or party interests, leaves RT America and Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! as the only two electronic outlets with a national reach that are willing to give a platform to critics of corporate power and imperialism such as Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Ralph Nader, Medea Benjamin, Cornel West, Kshama Sawant, myself and others.

Seven pages of the report were dedicated to RT America, on which I have a show called “On Contact.” The report vastly inflated the cable network’s reach and influence. It also included a few glaring errors, including the statement that “RT introduced two new shows—‘Breaking the Set’ on 4 September and ‘Truthseeker’ on 2 November—both overwhelmingly focused on criticism of the US and Western governments as well as the promotion of radical discontent.” “Breaking the Set,” with Abby Martin, was taken off the air two years ago. It could hardly be tarred with costing Hillary Clinton the election.

The barely contained rage of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper at the recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on foreign cyber threats was visible when he spat out that RT was “promoting a particular point of view, disparaging our system, our alleged hypocrisy about human rights, et cetera.” His anger was a glimpse into how the establishment seethes with hatred for dissidents. Clapper has lied in the past. He perjured himself in March 2013 when, three months before the revelations of wholesale state surveillance leaked by Snowden, he assured Congress that the National Security Agency was not collecting “any type of data” on the American public. After the corporate state shuts down RT, it will go after Democracy Now! and the handful of progressive sites, including this one, that give these dissidents space. The goal is censorship.

3. The third task of the report is to justify the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization beyond Germany, a violation of the promise Ronald Reagan made to the Soviet Union’s Mikhail Gorbachev after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Expanding NATO in Eastern Europe opened up an arms market for the war industry. It made those businesses billions of dollars. New NATO members must buy Western arms that can be integrated into the NATO arsenal. These sales, which are bleeding the strained budgets of countries such as Poland, are predicated on potential hostilities with Russia. If Russia is not a threat, the arms sales plummet. War is a racket.

4. The final task of the report is to give the Democratic Party plausible cover for the catastrophic election defeat it suffered. Clinton initially blamed FBI Director James Comey for her loss before switching to the more easily demonized Putin. The charge of Russian interference essentially boils down to the absurd premise that perhaps hundreds of thousands of Clinton supporters suddenly decided to switch their votes to Trump when they read the leaked emails of Podesta. Either that or they tuned in to RT America and decided to vote for the Green Party.

The Democratic Party leadership cannot face, and certainly cannot publicly admit, that its callous betrayal of the working and middle class triggered a nationwide revolt that resulted in the election of Trump. It has been pounded since President Barack Obama took office, losing 68 seats in the House, 12 seats in the Senate and 10 governorships. It lost more than 1,000 elected positions between 2008 and 2012 nationwide. Since 2010, Republicans have replaced 900 Democratic state legislators. If this was a real party, the entire leadership would be sacked. But it is not a real party. It is the shell of a party propped up by corporate money and hyperventilating media.

The Democratic Party must maintain the fiction of liberalism just as the Republican Party must maintain the fiction of conservatism. These two parties, however, belong to one party—the corporate party. They will work in concert, as seen by the alliance between Republican leaders such as McCain and Democratic leaders such as Sen. Chuck Schumer, to get rid of Trump, silence all dissent, enrich the war industry and promote the farce they call democracy.

Welcome to our annus horribilis.

‘Not the Russians’: John McAfee talks hacking allegations, U.S. government surveillance, and cybersecurity with Larry King (VIDEO)

From RT, Politicking with Larry King

December 30, 2016

In this episode of Politicking, political activist, tech pioneer and CEO of MGT Capital Investments John McAfee joins Larry King to bring us his valuable insight regarding issues of cybersecurity and the ominous encroachment of mass surveillance and vulnerability of big government agencies. But first, Bill Marczak, senior research fellow at the Citizens Lab at the University of Toronto’s School of Global Affairs, explains his frightening discoveries in the field of phone-commandeering spyware in the course of his activism with Bahrain Watch.
Following the release of an FBI report outlining Russia’s alleged role in hacking the 2016 election, Larry King sat down to talk with tech pioneer John McAfee to discuss the current state of cybersecurity.

McAfee is no stranger to cybersecurity. As the developer of the first commercial antivirus program, he has been a major player in the industry for the past 50 years. He is also the CEO of MGT Capital Investments, and an outspoken former presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party.

Based on all of his experience, McAfee does not believe that Russians were behind the hacks on the Democratic National Committee (DNC), John Podesta’s emails, and the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. As he told RT, “if it looks like the Russians did it, then I can guarantee you it was not the Russians.”

The Joint Analysis Report from the FBI contains an appendix that lists hundreds of IP addresses that were supposedly “used by Russian civilian and military intelligence services.” While some of those IP addresses are from Russia, the majority are from all over the world, which means that the hackers constantly faked their location.

McAfee argues that the report is a “fallacy,” explaining that hackers can fake their location, their language, and any markers that could lead back to them. Any hacker who had the skills to hack into the DNC would also be able to hide their tracks, he said

“If I was the Chinese and I wanted to make it look like the Russians did it, I would use Russian language within the code, I would use Russian techniques of breaking into the organization,” McAfee said, adding that, in the end, “there simply is no way to assign a source for any attack.”

However, McAfee does see a problem with the National Security Agency (NSA) being able to listen in on every conversation and read every text message and email of every American. Rather than focusing on disrupting the bad guys in foreign countries, McAfee thinks that “all of that effort has been placed on a country that is afraid of its own citizens.”

He claims that the only way he has been able to fully block the NSA from infecting his phone with spyware is by using a flip-phone too old to be hacked. He even goes as far as to call the iPhone the “ultimate spy device.”

As for the future, McAfee’s biggest fear is that the role of the NSA will change under a President Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump wants the DOJ to head a national task force of law enforcement agencies to create our cybersecurity,” he says.

McAfee predicts that if President-elect Trump follows through with that intention, the FBI will end up heading the NSA, as they are the lead technologists within the DOJ.

McAfee thinks that idea is a recipe for disaster, warning “we don’t need one more attacker, that attacker being our own government.”

https://www.rt.com/usa/372219-larry-king-mcafee-cybersecurity/

 

 

Fox News host challenges Democratic lawmaker over claims of Russian hacking (VIDEO)

In this exchange, notice how adamant and entrenched Congressman Adam Schiff is in his position. Schiff makes an accusation about Russia, builds a whole story on that foundation, and then goes on a verbal attack.

Fox host Tucker Carlson uses the phrase “weasel words”. This was a very sophisticated verbal barrage by Schiff that shifted the focus to Carlson, that he was the one with the problem for not “believing”. Schiff did not act humiliated or flustered. The exchange reveals how deeply committed Schiff and an unknown number of American officials are to pushing this particular story line and belief and to unbendingly defend it.

Officials such as Adam Schiff are directing American foreign policy based on their near-pathological prejudices and beliefs. How far will they go? The current results are visible in destroyed countries and lives, and these conflicts aren’t over yet.

From Sputnik News

December 9, 2016

On Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, Congressman Adam Schiff was absolutely humiliated over his Russian hysteria and repeated claims that the Kremlin had hacked the election.

Democratic members of Congress have demanded in a letter that President Obama brief them on “Russian interference” in the election before leaving office, and Schiff was one of those who signed. To promote their cause, the California representative appeared on Fox News, and one of the most epic showdowns in the recent history of the network ensued. Carlson left the Democratic representative looking completely ridiculous, after the latter accused the host of being an “apologist for the Kremlin,” and telling him that he will need to “move his show to RT.”

“The information was true, and voters got to see that, and it helped them assess how they wanted to vote. Why is that bad? Are you really arguing against more information for voters?” Carlson asked.

“Are you really arguing in favor of a foreign adversarial party hacking into the American —” a stunned-looking Schiff began.

Tucker then asserted that he was not arguing in favor of it, but that the information was placed into the public view — and thus voters had the right to see and assess it.

Schiff then asserted that President-elect Donald Trump was the only beneficiary of “Russian meddling,” which was quickly shot down as “speculation” by Carlson. Schiff continued to assert that the intelligence community claimed that the Kremlin was behind the hacks.

 Journalism Fail: Washington Post Story on ‘Fake News’ Was Fake

“Here’s the thing,” Carlson began, “I’ve lived here a long time, I remember vividly the ‘massive stockpiles of WMD’s in Iraq,’ which the intelligence community assured us were there, and they weren’t, so pardon my skepticism, I think it’s a patriotic position.”

Schiff appeared to grow increasingly flustered and continued to push McCarthyist anti-Russian sentiment, which Carlson hilariously mocked.

“I’m confused by what you are alleging,” Carlson interjected. “You’re saying that you believe the Russian government hacked into John Podesta’s emails and that the voters knew too much? Then you’re saying what, that they hacked voting machines? What are you saying?”

Schiff then said that if the Russians had hacked into Carlson’s emails, that he would not seek to justify their release.

“Are you arguing that voters should not have seen that information?” Carlson repeated several times.

Eventually, Schiff admitted that in some cases the press should publish information that is illegally obtained, if it is of great public interest, but continued to claim that Russia was behind the hack and that the press are responsible for reporting where the information came from.

US Lawmakers Move to Criminalize ‘Fake News, Propaganda’ on the Web

Carlson asserted that Schiff does not know if Russia was behind the hacks. He then challenged the congressman to turn to the camera and specifically say that, “I know the government of Vladimir Putin hacked John Podesta’s emails.” The representative would not comply.

“You’re carrying water for the Kremlin,” the clearly desperate representative said, now trying to deflect the conversation. “You’re going to have to move your show to RT — Russian Television.”

The assertion drew big laughs from the host, who called his statement “so dumb.”

“You know what — that is just so beneath your office, because it is so dumb, you’re being duplicitous,” Carlson laughed. “I’m asking you, did they hack Podesta’s emails and you can’t say it.”

Carlson asked him, again, to look into the camera and say the Russian government hacked Podesta’s emails.

“You can’t, and you know you can’t, and you’re hiding behind weasel-words,” Carlson said. “Say they hacked John Podesta’s emails.”

The flustered Schiff then accused Carlson of ignoring that Russia is behind the hack because it benefitted the Republican candidate. He also accused the Fox host of being an “apologist” for the Kremlin.

“I just think if you’re going to make a serious allegation about an actual country, which an actual government, you ought to know what you are talking about — and you don’t!” Carlson laughed.

The heated, and highly entertaining, exchange ended with the host mocking the congressman by saying, “I need to take a call from Vladimir Putin…so I need to put you on hold for one second.”

https://sputniknews.com/us/201612091048340762-tucker-carlson-russian-hacking-claims/