http://infocult.typepad.com/ seems to be the best place currently tracking is weird phenomenon, so I wanted to bring it to your attention. Consider this the thread for creepy clowns.
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The revelation that Russia’s intelligence services hacked the computer systems of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in what appears an attempt to weaken her in the U.S. election against Donald Trump may seem like the stuff of conspiracy.
But the truth is far more alarming. Russia’s activities aren’t part of a conspiracy. They are elements of an openly stated doctrine — a resurrection of Soviet style political warfare, in which intelligence agencies seek to amplify divisions among their enemies, weakening the Western front by sowing discord and dissent whenever the opportunity presents itself.
The political warfare of the Cold War is back — in updated form, with meaner, more modern tools, including a vast state media empire in Western languages, hackers, spies, agents, useful idiots, compatriot groups, and hordes of internet trolls. The target of the hacks wasn’t just Clinton. Nor is Moscow much interested in supporting Trump (willing useful idiot though he may be). What the Russians have in their sights is nothing less than the democratic fabric of American society and the integrity of the system of Western liberal values.
Russia is effectively using our democracies and our systems of rule of law against us. The method works like a computer virus. They insert a lie, a false accusation, a fabrication, an illegally-obtained private conversation — some form of kompromat — into our media, competing for ratings and ad revenue, and then they let us tear ourselves apart.
Far from being an all-powerful “spookocracy” that controls the Kremlin, Russia’s intelligence services are internally divided, distracted by bureaucratic turf wars, and often produce poor quality intelligence – ultimately threatening the interests of Vladimir Putin himself.
Drawing on extensive interviews with former and current intelligence officials, “Putin’s hydra: Inside Russia’s intelligence services” explains how the spy agencies really work, and argues that Europe’s view of them is patchy and based on outdated caricatures.
The paper punctures the myth that the agencies are the power behind the throne in Russia. They are firmly subordinated to the Kremlin, and Putin plays them off against one another. They are not a united bloc but a disparate group, whose solidarity disappears as soon as there is an opportunity to make money or avoid blame.
When the ground crew at Harare International Airport comes out to refuel the plane, they’re horrified to see blood dripping down the fuselage. The plane’s crew dismisses it. Its led by two Americans, who claim they hit a bird earlier. Somebody calls the cops.
“The ground crew refueling the plane alerted local authorities,” the Zimbabwe Herald reported. “Drops of blood were coming from a door, and state security officials stationed at the airport insisted it be opened.”
They make the pilot climb up the fuselage, and open the door leaking blood. What he finds: an adult male. No bird. No feathers.
“For some reason the pilot first put on latex gloves, and then opened the door, which is quite high up the aircraft,” an aviation insider told the Zimbabwe Herald. “And thwack, a fully clothed body of a black man fell out.”
“Thwack?” Okay. But the body only falls half-out, and for the next several hours the partially-severed arm of a dead man drips blood down the fuselage which wells into a puddle on the tarmac while things sort themselves out.
The crew probably now realize that they face a bit of a sticky wicket. A dead body onboard. Cause of death unknown. Name unknown. Nationality unknown.
This study is an attempt at a preliminary transnational investigation of the Paneuropean Right and particularly of the covert forum, the Cercle Pinay and its complex of groups. Amongst Cercle intelligence contacts are former operatives from the American CIA, DIA and INR, Britain's MI5, MI6 and IRD, France's SDECE, Germany's BND, BfV and MAD, Holland's BVD, Belgium's Sûreté de l’Etat, SDRA and PIO, apartheid South Africa's BOSS, and the Swiss and Saudi intelligence services. Politically, the Cercle complex has interlocked with the whole panoply of international right-wing groups: the Paneuropean Union, the European Movement, CEDI, the Bilderberg Group, WACL, Opus Dei, the Moonies, Western Goals and the Heritage Foundation. Amongst the prominent politicians associated with the Cercle Pinay were Antoine Pinay, Konrad Adenauer, Archduke Otto von Habsburg, Franz Josef Strauß, Giulio Andreotti, Manuel Fraga Iribarne, Paul Vanden Boeynants, John Vorster, General Antonio de Spínola, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.
Once the fragmented information is pieced together, the network that emerges cannot be overlooked: the Cercle complex can be seen to be an international coalition of right- wing intelligence veterans, working internationally to promote top conservative politicians who would shape the world in the 1970s and 1980s.
To take the British example, much of the destabilisation of British democracy in the 1970s can only be fully understood by analysing the international support given to groups like the Anglo-American "deniable propaganda" outlet, the Institute for the Study of Conflict. The Cercle Pinay was a major source of support for the ISC virtually from its inception on; the Cercle Pinay and the ISC also tied in with another key British group, the Foreign Affairs Research Institute, heavily funded by BOSS, apartheid South Africa's secret service. BOSS's other incursions into domestic politics in Britain, notably their smear operations against leading Liberals such as Jeremy Thorpe and Peter Hain, were a significant factor in the hijacking of British democracy in the 1970s. Three Cercle members on the FARI Board assisted FARI's actions from 1976 through to the early 1980s. FARI in many ways was the British successor to a previous Cercle operation to support South Africa; the Cercle and the ISC had been active partners in setting up a Paris-based propaganda outlet in 1974 as part of South Africa's covert media campaign later exposed in the "Muldergate" scandal.
German intelligence reports on the Cercle Pinay written in late 1979 and early 1980 which were published in Der Spiegel in 1982 also shed new light on a "Thatcher faction" within MI6 in the lead-up to the Conservatives' 1979 election victory. Whilst receiving wide publicity in France and Germany, these reports have never been covered by the British Press. This serious omission is astounding in the light of the undeniable authenticity of the reports and the startling allegations they contain: one of the German intelligence reports dated November 1979 quotes a planning paper by Crozier about a Cercle complex operation "to affect a change of government in the United Kingdom (accomplished)".
The loosening of marijuana laws across much of the United States has increased competition from growers north of the border, apparently enough to drive down prices paid to Mexican farmers. Small-scale growers here in the state of Sinaloa, one of the country's biggest production areas, said that over the last four years the amount they receive per kilogram has fallen from $100 to $30.
The price decline appears to have led to reduced marijuana production in Mexico and a drop in trafficking to the U.S., according to officials on both sides of the border and available data.
This was a predictable outcome of legalization, but still a big deal and welcome news. One of the major arguments for legal pot is that it will weaken drug cartels, cutting off a major source of revenue and inhibiting their ability to carry out violent acts — from mass murders to beheadings to extortion — around the world. And cannabis used to make up a significant chunk of cartels' drug export revenue: as much as 20 to 30 percent, according to previous estimates from the Mexican Institute of Competitiveness (2012) and the RAND Corporation (2010).
Will this be enough to completely eliminate drug cartels? Certainly not. These groups deal in far more than pot, including extortion and other drugs like cocaine and heroin.
Still, it will hurt. As the numbers above suggest, marijuana used to be a big source of drug cartels' revenue, and that's slowly but surely going away. It's still possible that legalization in America could produce downsides in the US, such as more cannabis abuse. But it's a potentially huge win for Mexico and other Latin American countries.