Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by The Internet, Nov 2, 2016.
You've got one, I've got one albeit in the dome , and started by our own fair Tara. Missus Clinton has hers and now Russia.
Where is it all going to end?
Don't ffs say to hell in a hand basket or I'll go sunny side up by my own hand than be lumped in with Vlad and that she devil.
My prediction is it's gonna end at Lolita Island with a whole bunch of Washington and the elite memorizing their new address of Gitmo...
Maybe we should only pay attention to the VP candidates since the 2 candidates are going to be in jail.
Paul Manafort on the left with Ben Carson beside him. Good article on Manafort here:
To understand what is going on now in the US with all these Russian covert ops, I think it helps to understand what has been happening in Ukraine the past 10 years or so. First, you gotta know your revolutions. The Orange revolution was Nov 2004-Jan 2005. The Euromaidan revolution was Feb 2014. No protesters got shot in the Orange Revolution but about a 100 people were killed during the Maidan protests.
I have a hard time remembering these Russian names and this makes it hard to tell the story to others. Sometimes mnemonics help, like "Ya I know bitch" for "Yanukovych." Yanukovych is the Trump in this story and it really helps to remember that asshole's name.
So Yanukovych started out as a teenage thug with no money. Then he became a politician backed by a rich "pro-Russian" oligarch. "Pro-Russian" is not an ideological or nationalistic thing, seems to me anyway. "Pro-Russian" means being linked in with the organized crime network running the major industries in Russia.
Here is a Ukrainian protester in 2014 tickling the ivories at Yanukovych's home. As you can see, protesting in Ukraine in 2014 was serious business.
How did Yanukovych get so rich on a tiny government salary? I don't remember details but basically, shell companies skim money off government contracts into offshore accounts under the thumb of bad guys.
Hey I remember Ben Swann. He's that anti-vax loonie from Atlanta.
The Russian disinfo trifecta for me is: anti-vax, anti-GMO, and climate change is no biggie. Well also, "your government is corrupt and must be destroyed." Apparently spending a billion a year on disinfo is cheap way to defeat an enemy.
Not super informative but kind of interesting.
MEPs sound alarm on anti-EU propaganda from Russia and Islamist terrorist groups
November 23, 2016 - 16:16 Context
Propaganda pressure on the EU from Russia and Islamist terrorist groups is growing, MEPs warn in a resolution voted on Wednesday. It seeks to distort the truth, incite fear, provoke doubt and divide the EU. To counteract anti-EU campaigns, MEPs suggest reinforcing the EU’s tiny “strategic communication” task force and investing more in awareness raising, education, online and local media, investigative journalism and information literacy.
“I was given the task of describing the propaganda of both state and non-state actors. We have seen many transformations of it. As regards the Russian Federation, the situation is now clear. After its annexation of Crimea and aggression in the eastern part of Ukraine, many countries are fully aware of its disinformation and manipulation“, said rapporteur Anna Fotyga (ECR, PL). “This report, in the course of its preparation, was also a target of hostile propaganda”, she added.
The resolution stresses that the EU needs to counter disinformation campaigns and propaganda from countries, such as Russia, and non-state actors, like Daesh, Al-Qaeda and other violent jihadi terrorist groups.
Hostile propaganda against the EU and its member states seeks to distort the truth, provoke doubt, divide the EU and its North American partners, paralyse the decision-making process, discredit the EU institutions and incite fear and uncertainty among EU citizens, says the text.
Russia seeks to divide
MEPs warn that the Kremlin has stepped up its propaganda against EU since annexing Crimea and waging hybrid war in the Donbass. They note that ”the Russian government is employing a wide range of tools and instruments, such as think tanks […], multilingual TV stations (e.g. Russia Today), pseudo-news agencies and multimedia services (e.g. Sputnik) […], social media and internet trolls, to challenge democratic values, divide Europe, gather domestic support and create the perception of failed states in the EU’s eastern neighbourhood”.
The resolution stresses that the “Kremlin is funding political parties and other organisations within the EU” and deplores “Russian backing of anti-EU forces” such as extreme-right parties and populist forces.
Daesh targets the EU
As the EU and its citizens are major targets of Daesh, MEPs call on EU member states to work more closely to protect society from its recruitment drives and enhance resilience against radicalisation. They also suggest developing a narrative to counter Daesh, “including through the empowerment and increased visibility of mainstream Muslim scholars who have the credibility to delegitimise Daesh propaganda.”
To counteract anti-EU campaigns, MEPs suggest investing in awareness raising, education, online and local media, investigative journalism and information literacy, which would empower citizens to analyse media content critically. It is equally important to adapt communication to specific regions, including access to information in local languages, says the text.
The resolution also suggests deepening EU and NATO cooperation on strategic communication, reinforcing the EU’s 9-strong strategic communication task force and providing more support to boost media resilience in EU neighbourhood countries.
The resolution was approved by 304 votes to 179, with 208 abstentions.
Stuff on Exxon and Russia
Exxon Says It's “Not a U.S. Company”
Exxon, the top U.S. producer of oil and gas and a well-documented funder of climate science denial, actually leases more land in Russia than it does in the U.S.
“Exxon boosted its Russian holdings to 63.7 million acres in 2014 from 11.4 million at the end of 2013, according to data from U.S. regulatory filings,” reported Bloomberg in March 2014. “That dwarfs the 14.6 million acres of rights Exxon holds in the U.S., which until last year was its largest exploration prospect.”
Exxon, though headquartered in Irving, Texas near Dallas, is a sprawling “private empire” with assets spread across the globe. When asked about building more U.S. refineries to protect the U.S. economy and consumers from fuel shortages, former CEO and chairman Lee Raymond put Exxon's view of itself and its loyalty to the U.S. bluntly.
“I'm not a U.S. company, and I don't make decisions based on what's good for the U.S,” Raymond is quoted as saying in the 2012 book Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power by Steve Coll.
In June, Tillerson attended the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum after taking a two-year hiatus from attending the event, which is the top business meeting held annually in Russia. Igor Sechin, CEO of Russian state oil company Rosneft and currently the subject of U.S. sanctions, served as the keynote speaker.
Offshore Drilling, Fracking, LNG
Exxon and Rosneft have maintained close business relations, so much so that Putin gave the Order of Friendship Award to Tillerson in 2013. In terms of business ties, what has that “friendship” entailed?
The two oil companies had intended to tap into Russia's bounty of over 191 billion acres of offshore Arctic oil as part of their joint venture. (However, that was before the U.S. sanctioned Russia for its incursion in Crimea, which has temporarily halted the drilling plans.) The two companies also co-run the Arctic Research and Design Center for Continental Shelf Development in Russia, in which Exxon maintains a 33.33 percent stake.
Since 1996, Exxon has also taken part in the Sakhalin Consortium, which centers around pumping oil offshore from Russia's Sakhalin Island. Exxon and Rosneft also co-own acreage in Texas' Permian Basin shale patch, and until recently dropping the joint venture, they co-owned 20 offshore drilling plots in the Gulf of Mexico.
Cult leader wannabe, if not de facto.
Info on how journalists are controlled, silenced, poisoned, and murdered in Russia. Really worth watching because a lot of this I had never heard before.
I have been puzzled by pro-Russian people habitually posting, "Putin is a strong leader while Obama is weak." Why would I want a strong man running my country? I prefer someone who is smart and dignified. No wants dictator.
Now that I've seen the way political "debate" looks on Russian TV, I understand how the Russian people have been conditioned to value brute force above other qualities in their leaders.
I Googled the drugging of US diplomats in Russia that Masha Gessen mentioned in the video above. WTF I had no idea this kind of bullshit was happening.
No wonder Trump was so pissed off about this:
Trump can probably flip that the moment he's in office, but people might ask him about that.
Russia is hurting for cash. The deal with Exxon would have brought in mega money but that deal is on hold while sanctions are in place. So how can Russia make serious cash in the near future?
Some months ago the Donald began talking about nuclear bombs. He asked why we don't use them. He also said that our allies ought to start defending themselves rather than rely on the US for defense. And he said other countries ought to have nukes for their own defense.
At the time Trump's thoughts on nuclear weapons struck me as bizarre. The whole point of nukes is to NEVAR use them. Nuclear weapons exist only to deter the use of nukes. So I was like, lol Trump and I ignored his dumbass comments.
As I understand, both the US and Russia have around 5000 nuclear bombs each. Yet the US only needs, say, a hundred to insure that Russia becomes a radioactive wasteland forever. Probably a dozen would be plenty enough to fry everything useful over there. So 5000 bombs is crazy overkill.
Years ago Russia and the US recognized that having too many nukes actually decreases the security of each country. Plus each bomb is hella expesive to monitor and maintain. So both powers have wanted to disarm although that has not been a top priority lately.
Now, if NATO fragmented and if our Asian allies felt the need to defend themselves without our help, I imagine that a market for nuclear weapons would emerge. Hmm.
Is it possible that Russia would like to make bank out of its nuclear stockpile so its economy doesn't tank?
Russia's deficit is in the trillions of rubles, a full 3.5% or so of GDP. It's hard to imagine that they could make up that difference selling a few thousand nukes.
Some debt just sits there. But operating expenses, like feeding soldiers, needs cash or shit hits the fan. So several billion in cash money at the right time matters.
But nukes are bad for everyone so I really hope we get back to disarmament.
I read this Wikipedia article about a book popular in Russia and now everything makes sense.
Dumbfucks. We could have a pretty fun planet if we stopped all the military land grab shenanigans and emphasized education more.
The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia is a geopolitical book by Alexander Dugin. The book has had a large influence within the Russian military, police, and foreign policy elitesand was allegedly used as a textbook in the General Staff Academy of Russian military.
The book was co-authored by General Nikolai Klokotov of the General Staff Academy. Colonel General Leonid Ivashov, head of the International Department of the Russian Ministry of Defence, apparently advised in the project.Klokotov stated that in the future the book would "serve as a mighty ideological foundation for preparing a new military command."
Dugin has asserted that the book has been adopted as a textbook in many Russian educational institutions.
The book declares that "the battle for the world rule of [ethnic] Russians" has not ended and Russia remains "the staging area of a new anti-bourgeois, anti-American revolution." The Eurasian Empire will be constructed "on the fundamental principle of the common enemy: the rejection of Atlanticism, strategic control of the USA, and the refusal to allow liberal values to dominate us."
Military operations play relatively little role. The textbook believes in a sophisticated program of subversion, destabilization, and disinformation spearheaded by the Russian special services. The operations should be assisted by a tough, hard-headed utilization of Russia's gas, oil, and natural resources to bully and pressure other countries.
The book states that "the maximum task [of the future] is the 'Finlandization' of all of Europe".
Germany should be offered the de facto political dominance over most Protestant and Catholic states located within Central and Eastern Europe. Kaliningrad oblast could be given back to Germany. The book uses the term "Moscow-Berlin axis".
France should be encouraged to form a "Franco-German bloc" with Germany. Both countries have a "firm anti-Atlanticist tradition".
The United Kingdom should be cut off from Europe.
Finland should be absorbed into Russia. Southern Finland will be combined with the Republic of Karelia and northern Finland will be "donated to Murmansk Oblast".
Estonia should be given to Germany's sphere of influence.
Latvia and Lithuania should be given a "special status" in the Eurasian-Russian sphere.
Poland should be granted a "special status" in the Eurasian sphere.
Romania, Macedonia, "Serbian Bosnia" and Greece – "orthodox collectivist East" – will unite with "Moscow the Third Rome" and reject the "rational-individualistic West".
Ukraine should be annexed by Russia because "“Ukraine as a state has no geopolitical meaning, no particular cultural import or universal significance, no geographic uniqueness, no ethnic exclusiveness, its certain territorial ambitions represents an enormous danger for all of Eurasia and, without resolving the Ukrainian problem, it is in general senseless to speak about continental politics". Ukraine should not be allowed to remain independent, unless it is cordon sanitaire, which would be inadmissible.
In the Middle East and Central Asia:
The book stresses the "continental Russian-Islamic alliance" which lies "at the foundation of anti-Atlanticist strategy". The alliance is based on the "traditional character of Russian and Islamic civilization".
Iran is a key ally. The book uses the term "Moscow-Tehran axis".
Armenia has a special role: It will serve as a "strategic base," and it is necessary to create "the [subsidiary] axis Moscow-Erevan-Teheran". Armenians "are an Aryan people … [like] the Iranians and the Kurds".
Azerbaijan could be "split up" or given to Iran.
Georgia should be dismembered. Abkhazia and "United Ossetia" (which includes Georgia's South Ossetia) will be incorporated into Russia. Georgia's independent policies are unacceptable.
Russia needs to create "geopolitical shocks" within Turkey. These can be achieved by employing Kurds, Armenians and other minorities.
The book regards the Caucasus as a Russian territory, including "the eastern and northern shores of the Caspian (the territories of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan)" and Central Asia (mentioning Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kirghistanand Tajikistan).
China, which represents a danger to Russia, "must, to the maximum degree possible, be dismantled". Dugin suggests that Russia start by taking Tibet-Xinjiang-Mongolia-Manchuria as a security belt. Russia should offer China help "in a southern direction – Indochina (except Vietnam), the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia" as geopolitical compensation.
Russia should manipulate Japanese politics by offering the Kuril Islands to Japan and provoking anti-Americanism.
Mongolia should be absorbed into Eurasia-Russia.
The book emphasizes that Russia must spread Anti-Americanism everywhere: "the main 'scapegoat' will be precisely the U.S."
In the United States:
Russia should use its special forces within the borders of the United States to fuel instability and separatism, for instance, provoke "Afro-American racists". Russia should "introduce geopolitical disorder into internal American activity, encouraging all kinds of separatism and ethnic, social and racial conflicts, actively supporting all dissident movements – extremist, racist, and sectarian groups, thus destabilizing internal political processes in the U.S. It would also make sense simultaneously to support isolationist tendencies in American politics."
The Eurasian Project could be expanded to South and Central America.
I was trolling around the webs learning more about Alexander Dugin, the author of The Foundations of Geopolitics --that "Make Russia Great Again" tomb I mentioned above. Then this thing hit me in the face:
It's like the bastard love-child of a Hitler-Stalin pact. Jeez I thought that was Poland.
Great article on Dugin here: https://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2016/dec/19/trump-putin-same-side-new-world-order
If we want to fight Duginism, this bit gives us a clue as to how to be winning:
The above links to Dugin's prsonal website where he shares his own special brand of fascism and end of times cure all for world woes.
Some of the stuff he links to is equally interesting like this one ;
Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/380614/dugins-evil-theology-robert-zubrin
His Eurasianism is a satanic cult.
"Men of action cut a large figure in the history books, but it is the ideas placed in their heads by men of thought that actually determine what they do. Thus the scribblings of mad philosophers can lead to the deaths of millions. As the modern-day heir to this tradition, Alexander Dugin bids fair to break the record. Most Americans don’t know anything about Alexander Dugin. They need to, because Dugin is the mad philosopher who is redesigning the brains of much of the Russian government and public, filling their minds with a new hate-ridden totalitarian ideology whose consequences can only be catastrophic in the extreme, not only for Russia, but for the entire human race."
The more I read the greater the urge to reach for the euthanasia kit.
"Alexander Dugin", really? They should have killed Rasputin a few more times.
If this guy had any real significant influence in the Kremlin we'd have real cause for concern.
Seems like Russia has expansionist ambitions. So maybe the stuff in Wikipedia about Dugin's books being required reading amongst military officers is true.
It is hard to sort out Russia because everything I read is true and false at the same time. A bunch of sources will say Putin loves Dugin. Then other sources will say he rejects Dugin. Bleh.
Putin doesn't strike me as the sort of guy to actually like anyone. If anything he'd keep up the appearance of liking him as a means of keeping an eye on him and his followers.
Russian politics is so fruitin' complex anyway.
Back in 2014 when Russia invaded Ukraine I stumbled upon pro-Putin propaganda on right wing US web sites. Here is a post from the Ukraine thread:
Back then I wanted to tell somebody about all the circumstantial evidence I was finding suggesting Russia was manipulating right wing groups in the US. I thought about writing my congress critters. But then I was like, I am a nobody and I will just sound like a paranoid Internet person. It got to be too much work for me, collecting dox, so I gave up.
In case you didn't know, this one is funny because there were no US presidential elections in 2014.
It's also funny that Russians think Americans won't know who Putin is without "President of Russia" added to his name. Funny because it's true.
This article I found about the Mercers (the people who fund and advise Trump) has useful info. It is tl;dr but I will try to boil it down later. Basically, the Mercers are in a financial circle with a Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash and a British real estate mogul Vincent Tchenguiz. Also the Russian Alfa Bank. These guys gave us both Trump and Brexit. I wonder if the UK would still want to leave the EU if they understood these connections to the Leave campaign.
Will Donald Trump’s Data-Analytics Company Allow Russia to Access Research on U.S. Citizens?
Tracing the suspicious-looking, and messy, ties between a Ukrainian oligarch, an elections-information firm, and the GOP candidate’s former campaign manager
By Ann Marlowe, August 22, 2016 • 10:00 PM
The Trump campaign has hired Ted Cruz’s former data-analysis firm, Cambridge Analytica—and in doing so, it has connected itself with a British property tycoon, Vincent Tchenguiz, and through him with the Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, a business associate of Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who resigned last week. It would be hard to find a better example of why the ownership of the companies that collect data on the American electorate matters.
What Cambridge does is what marketers have done for some time now: segment potential customers (in this case, voters) by their buying habits, lifestyle, and psychology. It most famously worked on the “Leave.” campaign during Brexit voting in the United Kingdom.
Cambridge Analytica’s British parent company, SCL, has attracted criticism for some unusual strategies, such as trying to persuade opposition supporters not to vote in a Nigerian election, using the influence of “local religious figures.”
Mainly, though, SCL and CA both seem to have some pretty tired ideas. “The firm groups people according to where they fall on the so-called OCEAN scale, which psychologists use to measure how open, conscientious, extroverted, agreeable, or neurotic they are,” Wired reported in April. There’s nothing evil—or particularly smart—about this “psychological profiling,” which has been around for decades, and it’s questionable if it actually works to predict voting behavior.
CA obviously didn’t sprinkle the right kind of fairy dust for Cruz; a recent news item has it that the campaign felt it was [being used by] CA to develop its product. Others say the firm doesn’t quite “get” American politics and has reliability issues: As Advertising Age quoted a consultant: “The product comes late or it’s not quite what you envisioned.”
But what’s worrisome is that CA, as The Wall Street Journal reports, is not just relying on public records:
Cambridge Analytica is surveying tens of thousands of Britons across the country on issues including partisanship, personality, and their concerns about EU membership. The company will then fuse those findings with other publicly available data on voters to produce advice for how “Leave EU” should target their messaging more specifically through multiple channels.
Between “big data,” cyberwarfare, and new levels of detail in election polling, Americans ought to be thinking seriously about who owns the firms that collect this data.
And because CA is linked to U.K. property mogul Vincent Tchenguiz, who himself has connections to Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, a Putin protégé (and Paul Manafort business associate) it’s possible the information CA collects might be shared with people who are not friendly to American democracy—not that Donald Trump thinks there’s anything wrong with Putin, Firtash, and others like them.
For 10 years, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company’s largest shareholder was Vincent Tchenguiz, who, together with his brother Robert, is estimated to be worth £850 million (about $1.1 billion). Even today, a year after Tchenguiz divested his shares, SCL Group Chairman Julian Wheatland, who is also one of the company’s four directors, is a Tchenguiz employee.
Tchenguiz used the same Guernsey holding company, Wheddon Ltd., to invest both in Cambridge Analytica’s parent company in the U.K. and in another privately held U.K. business whose largest shareholder was the Ukrainian gas middleman Dmitry Firtash. (To buy into a privately held business you normally need the approval of the biggest shareholders, who were Firtash and Raymond Asquith, who also works for Firtash.) Firtash, indicted in 2014 by the United States in a complex bribery case, is under a sort of house arrest in Austria, free on $175 million bail, while the U.S. continues to attempt, unsuccessfully, to extradite him. He has already been stripped of some of his Ukrainian assets by prosecutors there.
Many articles have reported that the U.S. billionaire Robert Mercer is the owner of Cambridge, but some basic Googling would have shown that this isn’t true. The Daily Beast got it right; Cambridge Analytica’s press releases refer to it as “the U.S. subsidiary of SCL Group.” But the relationship between Cambridge Analytica and SCL is far from easy to decipher.
The privately-held SCL Group Ltd. (UK co. #05514098) has a half-dozen subsidiaries, with an overlapping group of directors. One subsidiary is SCL Elections. Cambridge Analytica’s website in December 2015 listed its New York address as Suite 2703 in the News Corp. building, 1211 Avenue of the Americas, the same New York address formerly listed on SCL Elections’ website as its New York office. (Both websites have since been updated, with new addresses.) SCL Elections is entirely owned by executive Alexander Nix.
Meanwhile, another related company, SCL USA, incorporated in January 2015 and entirely owned by SCL Elections, changed its name to Cambridge Analytica UK Ltd. on April 14 of this year. Confusingly, its U.K. address, 1 Westferry Circle, is not the same as either the address of SCL Elections or the London address of Cambridge Analytica at 1-6 Yarmouth Place in Mayfair. And it’s unclear if there’s a Cambridge Analytica incorporated anywhere in the United States; one would have to search registers in all 50 states.
Ad Age reported that CA “will not discuss its investors,” but the mothership, SCL Group, has pretty straightforward ownership: From shortly after its incorporation in 2005 until June 2015, according to the company’s obligatory Companies House filings, the largest of the 15 shareholders of SCL Group was Tchenguiz.
Tchenguiz made his money in London’s highly competitive real estate market and is said to be smart as a whip. He and his brother Robert are also known as big Tory donors. But what they’re best known for isn’t something any entrepreneur seeks out.
In March 2011 the brothers were arrested in dramatic predawn raids as part of an investigation into the 2008 collapse of the Icelandic bank Kaupthing. Just before its collapse, Kaupthing’s loans to the Tchenguiz brothers totaled 40 percent of its capital. It has been charged that Kaupthing—which had a far-from-transparent ownership structure—was effectively the Tchenguiz brothers’ bank and that they looted the bank, leading to its collapse. Various Kaupthing executives ended up in jail. Yet Vincent Tchenguiz managed to beat the charges, and even to win restitution from the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office after charges were dropped. Many think the SFO badly mishandled the case.
That’s not all. Kaupthing’s largest shareholder, Meidur, now called Exista, which owned 25 percent of its shares, had ties to Alfa Bank, the largest Russian commercial bank; Alfa chairman was “deep state” figure Mikhail Fridman, chairman and co-founder of Alfa Group, the parent of Alfa Bank. Meanwhile, Trump adviser Richard Burt is on the “senior advisory board” of Alfa Bank. (None of which is illegal or secret.)
Vincent Tchenguiz’s investment in SCL Group Ltd. began soon after the company’s incorporation July 20, 2005. In the fall of 2005, Tchenguiz’s Consensus Business Group acquired 22,533 shares of SCL—the largest single shareholding, representing 24 percent of its then-95,134 shares. On Nov. 11, 2006, a new director was appointed to represent Tchenguiz’s interests—Julian David Wheatland, who was listed as “chairman” in the 2010 and 2011 accounts and on the SCL Group website.
Wheatland was formerly “head of the International Division at U.K. structured-finance house Consensus Business Group.” Consensus is Tchenguiz’s holding company. Wheatland is currently CEO of Consensus Community, a part of Consensus Business Group, which in turn manages investments for Investec Trust (Guernsey) Ltd., a trustee for the Tchenguiz Family Trust.
The 2006 accounts (available online) of SCL Group show a whopping loss of £2.3 million ($3.02 million), but no “going concern” statement was included. In May 2013, SCL Group’s auditor resigned; the 2011 accounts were the last audited accounts filed. Shareholders’ equity plummeted from: £681,000 in 2006 to a modest £273,000 in 2012 to £4,424 in 2013 and £87,420 in 2014—a very poor showing compared to similar companies.
Tchenguiz remained involved in SCL Group for 10 years, despite its lack of financial returns. Vincent Tchenguiz is mainly known as a real estate investor; his reasons for acquiring shares in SCL in the first place are as opaque as his reason for divesting them. From the outside, it seems an odd, unprofitable sideline. But SCL is a private company, so we can only follow the filings: Tchenguiz’s 22,533 shares were initially held by Consensus Business Group and later owned by Wheddon Ltd., another vehicle owned by his family holding company, Investec Trust.
Then, as of June 10, 2015, SCL canceled Wheddon’s 22,533 shares and paid Wheddon £147,746 (about $194,500)—a tiny amount in relation to Tchenguiz’s estimated wealth. It also changed its name from Strategic Communications Laboratories Ltd. to its current name, SCL Group Ltd. Julian Wheatland signed the “special resolution,” which, in U.K. business is a move “to protect minority shareholders against important decisions being taken without proper consideration and, to the extent possible, consensus.”
Did Tchenguiz change the name and remove his shareholding as an attempt to rebrand, in preparation for going to work for Ted Cruz? If that’s so, the Cruz campaign did only an imitation of due diligence, looking only at the company’s current ownership, not even bothering with the previous year, and not noticing that Tchenguiz still has a director on the company. Though Tchenguiz no longer owns shares in SCL, he would likely retain influence on the company operations: His director, Julian Wheatland is still SCL’s chairman and one of SCL’s four directors to this day. Wheatland is also a director of two other companies in the SCL family: SCL Analytics Ltd. and SCL Strategics Ltd.
Tchenguiz has branched out beyond his core ground-rents business before—and this is what connects him to Manafort partner Dmitry Firtash. Around the same time that he bought into SCL, in 2005-2006, Vincent Tchenguiz began giving interviews publicizing a new interest: “green” investing. One of these seemingly anodyne investments was in a privately held U.K. company called Zander Group Ltd. that has a very complex capital structure.
What does Zander do? Zander says on one of its subsidiaries’ websites that it is in the business of soil regeneration. It doesn’t seem to get a lot of work, but on March 2007, according to a posting on its website from January 2012 (since removed), it signed a contract to work on anti-desertification in Moammar Gadhafi’s Libya. An ex-director of Zander Group, Geoffrey Stuart Pearson, was jailed in Britain for his role in the collapse of Langbar Corp., the U.K.’s biggest AIM market fraud. (At the time, the U.K.’s SFO shut Langbar down in fall 2005, Zander shares were its only investment. The SFO apparently never found this interesting.)
As the obligatory Companies House filings show, Tchenguiz invested in Zander Group in 2005-2006 through his Vantania Holdings Ltd.; on Sept. 11, 2015, Vantania transferred its shares to Wheddon Ltd. (This was just after Wheddon had divested its shares in SCL Group Ltd.)
Here’s the Firtash link: From 2006 until 2011, the largest single shareholding in Zander Group, 28 percent of the total shares, was owned by a Cyprus company called Spadi Trading. And Spadi was owned by Group DF, as in Dmitry Firtash, in the British Virgin Islands. This holding company is one of 153 companies worldwide the U.S. is trying to seize pursuant to its indictment of Firtash. (Spadi’s ultimate owner is Robert Shetler-Jones, also a Group DF board member.).
There’s no proof that Tchenguiz knows Firtash, but it’s hard to imagine he’d be able to buy into a closely-held private business like Zander without the approval of the largest shareholder, even though Tchenguiz only bought 74,075 out of 11.5 million Zander Group shares in 2006. Moreover, Zander Group’s chairman, and its biggest shareholder, is Raymond Asquith, an English peer who doubles as an executive of Group DF.
Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, had numerous dealings with Dmitry Firtash’s Group DF. Firtash is probably the most savory person with whom Manafort has worked; others include Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch formerly barred from the United States for Russian mob ties, ex-Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovich, Mobutu Sese Seko, Ferdinand Marcos, and African warlord Jonas Savimbi. The fact that Vincent Tchenguiz’s man Wheatland is still the chairman and a director of SCL Group and that Tchenguiz is also a co-investor with the Firtash crew might give some candidates pause—but there’s no reason to think Trump is one of them. (As far as the public record indicates, Trump has never worked directly with Tchenguiz and Paul Manafort is not a director of any English companies, though he might be a shareholder; this information is not easily searchable.)
The moral may be, we ought to be paying closer attention to who owns the companies collecting data on American voters.
Skip this post if you aren't interested in an info dump on Robert Mercer, the guy under Putin's thumb running Trump's presidency.
tl;dr: Mercer had an early experience with research in a military setting that made him think government financed research is fail. Then he got a PhD in computer sci in 1972. In the 70s-80s he worked for IBM. In 1993 he joined a hedge fund management group called "Renaissance Technologies" out on Long Island. Then he became a billionaire.
tl;dr: OMGWTFBBQ an annual return of 71.8%?!!!
I know Renaissance was founded by genius code breakers. But how can any algorithm be that good?
I can imagine people accepting the 35% return over a 20 year span, because geniuses. But WTF 71.8%.
Renaissance's Medallion fund can't be a Ponzi scheme because it is limited to the company's employees. But these people could be covering up a spy network that allows for insider trading.
I wonder what the numbers are for 2015 and 2016. And I wonder where the SEC is in all of this.
To recap: Putin > Firtash > Mercer > (Manafort, Trump, Bannon, Conway, DeVos, likely other Trumpsters)
Ukrainian oligarch with ties to Trump campaign fighting extradition to Chicago
Kim Janssen, Chicago Tribune, August 1 2016
He's a former business partner of Donald Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort, and a fugitive from U.S. law enforcement.
But will Ukrainian billionaire oligarch Dmytro Firtash ever face justice in a Chicago courtroom?
Indicted by a federal grand jury in Chicago in 2014, the 50-year-old Firtash is painted in court papers as a regular Bond villain, accused of masterminding an international titanium-mining racket. With references to Swiss bank accounts, bribes for corrupt Indian politicians and links to Chicago-based airplane manufacturer Boeing, the case reads like a spy thriller.
Efforts to extradite him from Austria, however, have been unsuccessful. Freed on an enormous $174 million bond that highlighted his enormous wealth, Firtash last year convinced a lower court Austrian judge that the case was a politically motivated attempt by the U.S. to clamp down on allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin following the Russian annexation of Crimea.
With close ties to the Kremlin — and a history of supporting anti-Western forces in Ukrainian politics — Firtash had grounds to make his case. He maintains his innocence.
But the U.S. Department of Justice hasn't given up. It has pushed the Austrian Ministry of Justice to appeal to a higher court the decision not to extradite Firtash, an appeal that is still pending.
That prompts an intriguing question for the Trump campaign: Would a Trump administration aggressively pursue Firtash's extradition, or might it be tempted to quietly end the U.S. pursuit of a former business partner of Trump's campaign manager?
Manafort and the Trump campaign did not respond Monday morning to requests for comment.
But Manafort's ties to Firtash are extensively documented in court filings from an unrelated federal case in New York.
Manafort and business partners, including Firtash, in 2008 negotiated an $895 million deal to buy the site of the Drake Hotel in Manhattan, which they hoped to redevelop as a luxury mall and spa called Bulgari Tower. Memos of meetings that Manafort and Firtash attended in Kiev are included in the lawsuit, though the deal eventually fell apart.
While Firtash had yet to be indicted at that point, a diplomatic cable sent by U.S. ambassador to Ukraine William B. Taylor during the period in which Manafort and Firtash were negotiating, later leaked by Wikileaks, alleged Firtash had ties to Russian organized crime and described him as "one of Ukraine's most wealthy and notorious oligarchs."
Manafort's extensive ties to pro-Russian former President Ukrainian Viktor F. Yanukovych and to Ukrainian business leaders sympathetic to Moscow have become an issue in the presidential campaign, thanks to Trump's frequent statements of admiration for Putin, who Trump has described as "strong leader."
Trump told ABC host George Stephanopoulos in an interview that aired Sunday that he had no involvement in removing a provision from the Republican platform that would have called on his administration to arm Ukraine to defend itself against Russia.
Should Firtash ever be brought to Chicago to stand trial, his ties to Manafort may add to the intrigue.
A thief in law or "Vor" in the USSR and post-USSR states is a professional criminal of elite status within the organized crime environment. Each new Vor is vetted (literally "crowned", with respective rituals and tattoos) by consensus of several Vors. Vor culture is inseparable from prison organized crime: only repeatedly jailed convicts are eligible for Vor status. Thieves in law are drawn from many nationalities from a number of post-Soviet states.
Although Armenia, Chechnya, Estonia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan have long had criminals and bandits, during the disorder of the Russian Revolution of 1917, armed gangs proliferated until they became a very significant factor which controlled society. The criminal culture with its own slang, culture and laws became known as Vorovskoy Mir (Russian: воровской мир) or "Criminal/ Thieves World".
After World War II, the vory in the Gulag system were weakened by the so-called Bitch Wars - a prison gang war between pure vory and the so-called suki ("bitches"). The 'suki' were former members of the criminal underworld who had broken the thieves' code by agreeing to join the Soviet army and fight against Nazi Germany during World War II (in exchange for being freed from prison). The Thieves' Code forbids assisting authority in any way.
After the end of the war, thousands of suki were arrested for new crimes and were placed at the very bottom of the criminal hierarchy in prison, treated with the same lack of respect shown to police informants and victims of prison rape.
Since most 'suki' were tough, lifelong criminals and assassins hardened by the experience of brutal combat during World War II, they decided to murder all the 'pure vory'. This resulted in the so-called Bitch Wars which lasted for decades. Due to a large number of 'suki', most gulags were divided into two separate zones: one for 'suki' and one for 'vory'.
After the breakup of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, the vory assumed a leading role within the Russian criminal hierarchy (see Russian Mafia). The group was able to "infiltrate the top political and economic strata while taking command of the burgeoning crime network that spread murderously through the post-Soviet countries."
Today the Vory have spread around the world, to Madrid, Berlin, and New York and are involved in everything from petty theft to billion-dollar money-laundering while also acting as arbiters among conflicting Russian criminal factions.
As capitalism began to take hold in Russia, an increasing number of college-educated criminals began to take over more lucrative ventures. While these new criminal elements first worked with the Vory in the 1990s, in the 2000s (decade), ties to big business and government grew in importance. Consequently, while the "Vory are still strong in gambling and retail trade," their importance in Russian economy and society has decreased.
One famous Vor V Zakone is Vladimir Podatev who was appointed a member of the commission for human rights under President Boris Yeltsin, in spite of three previous felony convictions for murder, assault, and rape. Another famous vor is Vyacheslav Ivankov, a notorious mobster with convictions in both the former Soviet Union and the United States who was assassinated in 2009.
Recently the Obama administration has implemented sanctions against an organisation known as the Brothers' Circle, several members of which are thieves-in-law.
Firtash had (maybe has) a natural gas business in partnership with an infamous Russian mobster, Semion Mogilevich. Mogilevich is wanted by the FBI for "fraud-related crimes; general supervillainy"
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