Discussion in 'In The News' started by Rambo, Jan 12, 2017.
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Mueller investigation, a whole lot of nothing.
Mueller Indictment - The "Russian Influence" Is A Commercial Marketing Scheme
Yesterday the U.S. Justice Department indicted the Russian Internet Research Agency on some dubious legal grounds. It covers thirteen Russian people and three Russian legal entities. The main count of the indictment is an alleged "Conspiracy to Defraud the United States".
The published indictment gives support to our long held believe that there was no "Russian influence" campaign during the U.S. election. What is described and denounced as such was instead a commercial marketing scheme which ran click-bait websites to generate advertisement revenue and created online crowds around virtual persona to promote whatever its commercial customers wanted to promote. The size of the operation was tiny when compared to the hundreds of millions in campaign expenditures. It had no influence on the election outcome.
The indictment is fodder for the public to prove that the Mueller investigation is "doing something". It distracts from further questioning the origin of the Steele dossier. It is full of unproven assertions and assumptions. It is a sham in that none of the Russian persons or companies indicted will ever come in front of a U.S. court. That is bad because the indictment is build on the theory of a new crime which, unless a court throws it out, can be used to incriminate other people in other cases and might even apply to this blog. The later part of this post will refer to that.
In the early 1990s some dude in St.Petersburg made a good business selling hot dogs. He opened a colorful restaurant. Local celebrities and politicians were invited to gain notoriety while the restaurant served cheap food for too high prices. It was a good business. A few years later he moved to Moscow and gained contracts to cater to schools and to the military. The food he served was still substandard.
But catering bad food as school lunches gave him, by chance, the idea for a new business:
described how those "Russian influence" ads (most of which were shown after the election or were not seen at all) were simply part of a commercial scheme:
The pages described and the ads leading to them are typical click-bait, not part of a political influence op.
One builds pages with "hot" stuff that hopefully attracts lots of viewers. One creates ad-space on these pages and fills it with Google ads. One attracts viewers and promotes the spiked pages by buying $3 Facebook mini-ads for them. The mini-ads are targeted at the most susceptible groups.
A few thousand users will come and look at such pages. Some will 'like' the puppy pictures or the rant for or against LGBT and further spread them. Some will click the Google ads. Money then flows into the pockets of the page creator. One can rinse and repeat this scheme forever. Each such page is a small effort for a small revenue. But the scheme is highly scaleable and parts of it can be automatized.
Because of the myriad of U.S. sanctions against Russia the monetization of these business schemes required some creativity. One can easily find the name of a real U.S. person together with the assigned social security number and its date of birth. Those data are enough to open, for example, a Paypal account under a U.S. name. A U.S. customer of the cloaked Russian Internet company could then pay to the Paypal account and the money could be transferred from there to Moscow. These accounts could also be used to buy advertisement on Facebook. The person who's data was used to create the account would never learn of it and would have no loss or other damage. Another scheme is to simply pay some U.S. person to open a U.S. bank account and to then hand over the 'keys' to that account.
The Justice Department indictment is quite long and detailed. It must have been expensive. If you read it do so with the above in mind. Skip over the assumptions and claims of political interference and digest only the facts. All that is left is, as explained, a commercial marketing scheme.
I will not go into all its detail of the indictment but here are some points that support the above description.
Defendants, posing as US. persons and creating false U.S. personas, operated social media pages and groups designed to attract U.S. audiences. These groups and pages, which addressed divisive US. political and social issues, falsely claimed to be controlled by US. activists when, in fact, they were controlled by Defendants. Defendants also used the stolen identities of real U.S. persons to post on social media accounts. Over time, these social media accounts became Defendants' means to reach significant numbers of Americans ...
By in or around April 2014, the ORGANIZATION formed a department that went by various names but was at times referred to as the "translator project." This project focused on the US. population and conducted operations on social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. By approximately July 2016, more than eighty ORGANIZATION employees were assigned to the translator project.
(Some U.S. media today made the false claim that $1.25 million per month were spend by the company for its U.S. campaign. But Point 11 of the indictment says that the company ran a number of such projects directed at a Russian audience while only the one described in 10d above is aimed at an U.S. audience. All these projects together had a monthly budget of $1.25 million.)
(Point 17, 18 and 19 indict individual persons who have worked for the "translator" project" "to at least in and around [some month] 2014". It is completely unclear how these persons, who seem to have left the company two years before the U.S. election, are supposed to have anything to do with the claimed "Russian influence" on the U.S. election and the indictment.)
Defendants and their co-conspirators, through fraud and deceit, created hundreds of social media accounts and used them to develop certain fictitious U.S. personas into "leader of public opinion" in the United States.
The indictment then goes on and on describing the "political activities" of the sock-puppet personas. Some posted pro-Hillary slogans, some anti-Hillary stuff, some were pro-Trump, some anti-everyone, some urged not to vote, others to vote for third party candidates. The sock-puppets did not create or post fake news. They posted mainstream media stories.
Some of the persona called for going to anti-Islam rallies while others promoted pro-Islam rallies. The Mueller indictment lists a total of eight rallies. Most of these did not take place at all. No one joined the "Miners For Trump" rallies in Philly and Pittsburgh. A "Charlotte against Trump" march on November 19 - after the election - was attended by one hundred people. Eight people came for a pro-Trump rally in Fort Myers.
The sock-puppets called for rallies to establish themselves as 'activist' and 'leadership' persona, to generated more online traffic and additional followers. There was in fact no overall political trend in what the sock-puppets did. The sole point of all such activities was to create a large total following by having multiple personas which together covered all potential social-political strata.
At Point 86 the indictment turns to Count Two - "Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud and Bank Fraud". The puppeteers opened, as explained above, various Paypal accounts using 'borrowed' data.
Then comes the point which confirms the commercial marketing story as laid out above:
Defendants and their co-conspirators also used the accounts to receive money from real U.S. persons in exchange for posting promotions and advertisements on the ORGANIZATION-controlled social media pages. Defendants and their co-conspirators typically charged certain U.S. merchants and U.S. social media sites between 25 and 50 U.S. dollars per post for promotional content on their popular false U.S. persona accounts, including Being Patriotic, Defend the 2nd, and Blacktivist.
There you have it. There was no political point to what the Russian company did. Whatever political slogans one of the company's sock-puppets posted had only one aim: to increase the number of followers for that sock-puppet. The sole point of creating a diverse army of sock-puppets with large following crowds was to sell the 'eyeballs' of the followers to the paying customers of the marketing company.
There were, according to the indictment, eighty people working on the "translator project". These controlled "hundreds" of sock-puppets online accounts each with a distinct "political" personality. Each of these sock-puppets had a large number of followers - in total several hundred-thousands. Now let's assume that one to five promotional posts can be sold per day on each of the sock-puppets content stream. The scheme generates several thousand dollars per day ($25 per promo, hundreds of sock-puppets, 1-5 promos per day per sock-puppet). The costs for this were limited to the wages of up to eighty persons in Moscow, many of them temps, of which the highest paid received some $1,000 per month. While the upfront multiyear investment to create and establish the virtual personas was probably significant, this likely was, over all, a profitable business.
Again - this had nothing to do with political influence on the election. The sole point of political posts was to create 'engagement' and a larger number of followers in each potential social-political segment. People who buy promotional posts want these to be targeted at a specific audience. The Russian company could offer whatever audience was needed. It had sock-puppets with pro-LGBT view and a large following and sock-puppets with anti-LGBT views and a large following. It could provide pro-2nd amendment crowds as well as Jill Stein followers. Each of the sock-puppets had over time generated a group of followers that were like minded. The entity buying the promotion simply had to choose which group it preferred to address.
The panic of the U.S. establishment over the loss of their preferred candidate created an artificial storm over "Russian influence" and assumed "collusion" with the Trump campaign. (Certain Democrats though, like Adam Schiff, profit from creating a new Cold War through their sponsoring armament companies.)
The Mueller investigation found no "collusion" between anything Russia and the Trump campaign. The indictment does not mentions any. The whole "Russian influence" storm is based on a misunderstanding of commercial activities of a Russian marketing company in U.S. social networks.
There is a danger in this. The indictment sets up a new theory of nefarious foreign influence that could be applied to even this blog. As U.S. lawyer Robert Barns explains:
The only thing frightening about this indictment is the dangerous and dumb precedent it could set: foreign nationals criminally prohibited from public expression in the US during elections unless registered as foreign agents and reporting their expenditures to the FEC.
Mueller's new crime only requires 3 elements: 1) a foreign national; 2) outspoken on US social media during US election; and 3) failed to register as a foreign agent or failed to report receipts/expenditures of speech activity. Could indict millions under that theory.
The legal theory of the indictment for most of the defendants and most of the charges alleges that the "fraud" was simply not registering as a foreign agent or not reporting expenses to the FEC because they were a foreign national expressing views in a US election.
Author Leonid Bershidsky, who prominently writes for Bloomberg, remarks:
I'm actually surprised I haven't been indicted. I'm Russian, I was in the U.S. in 2016 and I published columns critical of both Clinton and Trump w/o registering as a foreign agent.
As most of you will know your author writing this is German. I write pseudo-anonymously for a mostly U.S. audience. My postings are political and during the U.S. election campaign expressed an anti-Hillary view. The blog is hosted on U.S, infrastructure paid for by me. I am not registered as Foreign Agent or with the Federal Election Commission.
Under the theory on which the indictment is based I could also be indicted for a similar "Conspiracy to Defraud the United States".
(Are those of you who kindly donate for this blog co-conspiractors?)
When Yevgeni Prigozhin, the hot dog caterer who allegedly owns the internet promotion business, was asked about the indictment he responded:
"The Americans are really impressionable people, they see what they want to see. [...] If they want to see the devil, let them see him."
this guy creeps me out. prison paul the paper eater is less rapey.
You've got to get behind the weirdo sixth form student who plays Dungeons & Dragons and has a leather jacket that reeks if patchouli oil. If you can't get past that, then you'll miss out on some interesting commentary. He's banned in Merkel's Germany, so automatically I am inclined to take an interest in what he has to say. He's especially astute on the legacy media and has been for sometime.
He could rent out his bare chest for advertising...
Death of the MSM:
Tarriffs and protectionism should encourage reinvestment of the corporate tax cuts instead of executive bonuses and shareholder payouts.
I’m not a macroeconomist, so I don’t know the ins and outs of all the possible effects, good and bad. I do think the corporate tax cut combined with protectionism has potential to produce a synergistic effect.
There's a big protectionist racket and it's called the EU, but that doesn't bother Theresa May, who once again can't help but try to stick the boot in the biggest potential ally the Brits have in these times:
Trouble with the UK is that the few corporations that produce things in this country are all foreign owned/ controlled.
Plus they tend to work more in the interest of their share holders than their employees. Import/ export tarriffs hurt their bonusses, that's why they spend millions on lobbying to prevent a hard Brexit.
Protecting the US from cheap Chinese steel import might be a good thing, especially for the states that still produce steel.
The EU already announced "counter measures" should the US impose import tarriffs. Like the Europeans buy American cars the same way Americans buy European (mostly German) cars.
I think that every single publicly owned company (ie a company with shareholders) does this. In fact, it's typically required of the companies to do so.
The problem with Trump's strategy is that, although the US imports a lot of steel, less than 2% of US steel imports come from China. Canada, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, South Korea and a number of other countries all sell more steel to the US than China.
Trump's main complaint seems to be that the Chinese economy's huge demand for steel has caused China to ramp up production of steel massively, which has then depressed prices and had a flow-on worldwide. So US steel prices are low as a consequence of high Chinese steel production, and those low prices has affected the profitability of US steel manufacturers.
However, even though that may be, in a roundabout way, the fault of China, I'm not sure if slapping tariff barriers on steel will help. I guess that it will enable domestic US steel producers to raise their prices, because imported steel from Canada, Brazil etc will be more expensive.
It used to take 10 men to make a ton of steel now is one.
Cheering from steel workers because they think their jobs are protected will turn to snivelling when the price of their trucks, canned beer and aluminum bass boats go up.
This argument is often used to justify why those industries can't be repatriated because they're no longer labour intensive so the net result in more employment is not worth the negative side of trade wars and tariffs.
But economies of scale come into this, with increased production and better quality. The Germans had this down to an art and I was shocked when I started to travel on business trips to Germany the scale of the industries that we in the UK were being told was not possible in advanced post-industrial societies anymore.
I agree a lot of these industries are hard and harsh, but the reality is a lot of the population are not academic and manual skilled labour and heavy engineering offers the best in terms of being able to earn and provide for your family or self.
The EU has various mechanisms for adding tariffs through import duties and also through legistlation. The latest one being the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which can result in fines of 4% of global business turnover should your company be unlucky enough to be hacked and personal data stolen. Other ones such as the machinery and pressure equipment directives were attempts to keep manufacturing in Europe, albeit it is possible to manufacture to these standards outside of the EU. And the CE marking was copied by China to the extent you cannot tell the difference between the two logos with a casual eye.
IIRC, the Chinese CE mark means China Export. They just made it look as close to the European CE mark as they could to confuse / deceive the uninformed / ill informed.
Very naughty. I believe the Chinese are now getting worried about their own IP being stolen LOL.
Most steel is now made in Spain, AFAIK only high quality steel is made in Germany, most of it is bought by China. A few years ago there was a shortage of train wheels because there was no decent steel left. A lot of the jobs in mining and steel making have disappeared. Same with the garment industry, both were situated in and around the "Ruhrpott".
Within Europe, Germany is the only country that exports more than it imports (in value, at least). So a trade war with the US will hurt it most. Very much like the stupid EU sanctions against Russia.
A weak US$ might help exports, but I'm not sure what they actually do export, other than weapons and maybe airplanes.
Pharmaceuticals, bulk chemicals, high tech goods. More than you think. As does Britain.
Erm US is the second largest export economy in the world, so a lot.
The problem with this stupid policy ( oh, and it is not alien to Trump, Obama also implemented steel tariffs, let's not forget, but it was on China Steel but nowhere deep enough) is a trade war benefits no one.
America's trade partners (particularly EU, ipso facto, Germany and the US will come out as losers on this: the proposed tariffs are great for US steelmakers — not so great for a chunk of the US economy that relies on steel, like vehicles, appliance and construction companies.
Trump with some of his zany mutterings ( at least he is somewhat loyal to his base) deny or refuse to recognise the effect of automation and globalisation on the job market.
The US is the 5th largest steel producer. But it imports 4x what it exports.
Canada imports 50% of US steel exports.
Canada is the largest steel exporter to the US and China is way down the list. India and Russia are the fastest growing.
China has been targeted many times for dumping cheap steel on the US. They also use 3rd parties as proxies hence the blanket tariffs.
But if China actually is the target then Trump is pissing off more allies who ship more steel to the US than China does.
Again, does the US have the capacity to domestically produce 400% more steel and by when. They will still have to import.
In terms of aluminium, the US produces 840,000 tonnes and imports 5.7 million tonnes.
Canada supplies 2.48 million tonnes or 43% of America's aluminum.
They only have 5 total smelters (the US aluminum industry says 2) and only 1 that produces high quality aluminum required for military jets. UAE and China produce this metal.
That plant in KY said it will hire 300 workers when the tariffs are in place. Drop in the bucket when you consider that the bulk of US aluminum industry jobs (about 150,000 or 97%) are in product manufacturing not aluminum production.
The US is a world leader in aerospace exports and planes use craploads of aluminum.
The big issue with China is them dumping aluminum foil on the US market.
So again, the tariffs are short sighted and very Trumpesque in their surface knowledge intent with seemingly no consideration of other industries that use steel and aluminum
Could all just be a test. Apparently he has targeted German car manufacturers again.
Or he simply hates your "peoplekind" leading "feminist" PM. Which is something I can understand.
Are there any decent steel bloggers or shills I can follow? I would like to learn about top top bespock smelting.
Ask Blue Loafers, He has connections in the mining industry so I am sure he can put you in touch with the right people
CNN heads to Thailand for some ladyboy action in search of the ever elusive Russian collusion:
How do you guys read?
I liked his N Korea approach. Not really familiar with much else he did.
Think it goes back to him badmouthing Trump months ago plus his soft approach to things. Not aggressive enough.
And another one bites the dust.
Trump sure loves firing people, but I suppose we knew that already.
Rumor is that it was because he jumped on that Russian spy poisoning story
The timing would certainly suggest that.
You mean Sergei Skripal?
What's the link between Skripal and the dismissal of the US SoS?
You just need to listen to Trump himself, he didn't connect with the administration's mission and vision for America:
The nerve agent incident needs to be handled delicately and within agreed protocols. May's been badly advised, the ultimatum and threats have been played too early. The ''dramatic'' statement promised this afternoon in the Commons may prove a damp squib or the beginning of tit for tat retailations. There's no nuance or pitch development in all this. I would have gone neutral: we are conducting the investigation and will then make our findings known. And maintain radio silence until the evidence is tabled.
As likely as this is Russia, jumping the gun immediatelty using ultimatums and threats will play into Putin's hands. The lies and fake news of the MSM means we cannot trust the Russian trope until due process has been followed. Putin's smirking on camera for he knows May is weak, being manipulated and when the threat of thermo-nuclear war is put on the table she will have to back down pulling one of her quivering faces.
Rex Tillerson's dismissal was rumoured since last Christmas. The circus continues.
Perhaps the new Secretary of State will fill the vacant positions. For a former CEO I wasn't sure why Tillerson let the vacancies run for so long. You can't do everything by yourself.
Presided over huge budget cuts, and none of the existing experts / swamp inhabitants / career diplomats wanted anything to do with the WH.
You're saying he's like a real CEO?
Economic nationalism and paleoconservatism is the way to go. If Trump delivers that -and its a big if - then he will have done well.
Nobody likes Theresa May.
Somebody does, or else she wouldn't still be PM.
The guy who developed that nerve gas lives in the US.
The hysteria about unproven Russian involvement in the poisening of an ex-spy is slightly getting out of hand.
The fact that practically all Western/ EU "leaders" are in on this shows that Theresa May is a part of this unholy alliance.
Tillerson alledgedly belongs to the same group of the Bilderberger. The good people that gave us feminism and social divide with the help of their MSM outlets.
Practically every MSM outlet is pushing this nerve gas rubbish as if it was true. They tried this is Syria and failed and they will fail again.
It seems that certain NATO states are almost determined to start a conflict with Russia.
We might need a new thread "The forthcoming war with Russia" soon.
To think, we coulda had a lovably goofy libertarian in the WH. Definitely a dude not in secret societies. Actually against big governments. This guy.
And who is Gary Johnson?
But he’s too goofy for the WH I suppose.
At least a libertarian candidate will be allowed to debate next time.
The Tory system has been set up deliberately to install weakling non-identities to ensure no fanction in the party gains a structural advantage. The problem now is that times call for a PM of action and intelligence. Yes, she's feigning strength against Russia, but that's to curry favour with her masters in Europe and deflect the attention on the de facto blasphemy laws now inacted and Muslim white slavers operating with almost impunity and a nod and wink from the authorities in the new and market towns. The working classes have been expected to just grin and bear the impossible and now the resistance is galvanizing and they're running scared clamping down. Events my dear boy, events are about to overtake May and the established order. Rioting rioting blood. She's despised for she is the end result of politics without conviction.