Tuesday, May 16, 2017

El Daily Stormer: Neo-Nazi website is now in Spanish, too

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How does a leading neo-Nazi website that has railed against Hispanic immigrants expand its audience beyond a loyal base of U.S. white supremacists? By publishing a Spanish-language edition, of course.

The Daily Stormer — infamous for orchestrating internet harassment campaigns by its “Troll Army” of readers — recently launched El Daily Stormer as a “news portal” tailoring its racist, anti-Semitic content for readers in Spain and Latin America.

Andrew Auernheimer, a notorious computer hacker and internet troll who writes for the English-language site, says the Spanish edition fits their mission to spread Hitlerism across the world.

“We want our message to reach millions more people,” he said in a telephone interview.

Hate sites have realized that the U.S. has no monopoly on white nationalists and other far-right extremists, says Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project. Others, such as Stormfront, already created multilingual forums.

“The white supremacist movement has really viewed itself as past borders, reaching out to white people in other countries,” Beirich said.

The law center represents a Montana real estate agent who sued The Daily Stormer’s founder, Andrew Anglin, last month for unleashing an anti-Semitic “campaign of terror” against her family.

Anonymous trolls bombarded Tanya Gersh’s family with hateful and threatening messages after Anglin published the family’s personal information in a December post that accused Gersh and other Jewish residents of Whitefish, Montana, of engaging in an “extortion racket” against the mother of white nationalist Richard Spencer.

Anglin’s site takes its name from Der Stūrmer, a newspaper that published Nazi propaganda. It includes sections called “Jewish Problem” and “Race War.”

El Daily Stormer titles its anti-Semitic section “Judiadas,” an offensive term with roots in medieval Spain, where it was invoked to justify genocidal attacks on Jews.

The Spanish site also includes appeals for donations and unpaid articles, and a forum where people complain about Chile and Argentina filling up with “negros,” referring to people from Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay.

Auernheimer, known online as “weev,” said a team of volunteers is writing original content for the Spanish-language site. The site’s appeal for unpaid collaborators says being a dissident “has never been a lucrative activity,” and that it is looking for writers “willing to risk everything for the survival of our race.”

“We have a big Spanish-speaking population on our forums, so it was an easy direction to branch out into,” he said.

About 40 percent of The Daily Stormer’s 3.2 million unique monthly visitors are in the U.S.; the Spanish edition has added fewer than 10,000 since its recent launch, Auernheimer said.

Surpassing Stormfront as the top U.S. hate site hasn’t been a financial boon for The Daily Stormer, which calls itself “100 percent reader-supported.” Anglin complained in January that a Ukrainian advertising company had banned them, leaving an Australian electrician as the site’s only advertiser.

“We don’t have revenue commensurate with a publication of our size,” Auernheimer said.

Feds Subpoena Records for $3.5M Mystery Mortgage on Manafort’s Home

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By  and 

Federal investigators have subpoenaed records related to a $3.5 million mortgage that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort took out on his Hamptons home just after leaving the campaign, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The mortgage document that explains how Manafort would pay back the loan was never filed with Suffolk County, New York — and Manafort's company never paid up to $36,000 in taxes that would be due on the loan.
In addition, despite telling NBC News previously that all his real estate transactions are transparent and include his name and signature, Manafort's name and signature do not appear on any of the loan documents that are publicly available. A Manafort spokesperson said the $3.5 million loan, which was taken out through a shell company, was repaid in December, but also said that paperwork showing the repayment was not filed until he was asked about the loan by NBC News.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is also taking a "preliminary look" at Manafort's real estate transactions, according to a separate source. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the Justice Department has requested Manafort's banking records.

Jason Maloni, a spokesperson for Manafort, said, "Mr. Manafort has not been contacted by any authorities other than the United States Congress and officials responsible for FARA guidance, and he is cooperating with those inquiries."

On August 19, 2016, Manafort left the Trump campaign amid media reports about his previous work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, including allegations he received millions of dollars in payments.
That same day, Manafort created a holding company called Summerbreeze LLC. Several weeks later, a document called a UCC filed with the state of New York shows that Summerbreeze took out a $3.5 million loan on Manafort's home in the tony beach enclave of Bridgehampton.
Manafort's name does not appear on the UCC filing, but Summerbreeze LLC gives his Florida address as a contact, and lists his Bridgehampton home as collateral.
A review of New York state and Suffolk County records shows the loan was made by S C 3, a subsidiary of Spruce Capital, which was co-founded by Joshua Crane, who has partnered with Donald Trump on real estate deals. Spruce is also partially funded by Ukrainian-American real-estate magnate Alexander Rovt, who tried to donate $10,000 to Trump's presidential campaign on Election Day but had all but the legal maximum of $2,700 returned.
The mortgage notice for the loan, however, was never entered into government records by the lender. A mortgage notice normally names the lender, and gives the interest rate, the frequency with which payments must be made, and the length of the mortgage.
Real estate experts contacted by NBC News called the omission "highly unusual," though not illegal.
David Reiss, a professor at Brooklyn Law School who specializes in real estate law, said, "It would be totally ill-advised to not record the loan on the property that is being secured. … Recording the mortgage on the property protects the lender."
Without it, there's no public record that the borrower owes money.
The mortgage notice would also show the mortgage tax has been paid. A party who does not file a mortgage notice but does pay tax would have to file a separate affidavit, which would be in the county's property file. Suffolk County records do not show that the tax was paid.
Suffolk County charges a 1.05 percent tax rate on mortgages. Absent any exemptions, the amount owed would be about $36,750.
Manafort's spokesperson, Jason Maloni, said the loan was only meant to serve as a bridge loan. A copy of another required filing, the UCC 3, made available to NBC News by Maloni shows that the loan was repaid in December. Maloni said the UCC 3 was not filed until May 2, after NBC News asked about the loan. The UCC 3 has not yet appeared in state or Suffolk County records.
Why was there no mortgage notice? Manafort's real estate attorney, Bruce Baldinger, said that the loan was sent for recording, "in due course," by the title company but was returned by the county recording clerk "due to deficiencies in accompanying documents. Mr. Manafort had no role in this process other than assisting counsel in remedying the deficiencies."
Suffolk County does not keep records of failed or improper mortgage filings.
Baldinger said Spruce Capital had required that Manafort create the LLC to receive the loan, and that the Hamptons property had previously been held in the name of Kathleen Manafort, Paul's wife. Baldinger said that Manafort himself was never the borrower.
The deed for the Bridgehampton house was transferred from Kathleen Manafort to Summberbreeze LLC in December 2016.
There is also a question as to how the loan came about and how the lender and borrower were introduced. Two people involved say that independent broker Millenium Estates LLC brought the deal to Spruce.
However, Manafort's spokesperson Maloni said Millenium wasn't the independent broker.
Baldinger said that the relationship with Spruce Capital originated with an independent mortgage broker who was introduced to Manafort by Manafort's son-in-law. "The broker then introduced me to Spruce Capital," said Baldinger.
"Prior to the transaction, Mr. Manafort had no knowledge of either the broker, Spruce Capital, or its principals. After the repayment of the loan, Mr. Manafort had no further dealings or contact with Spruce Capital or its principals, nor had he any reason to be in any contact with them."

A spokesperson for Spruce Capital said the loan came from an unnamed independent broker. Asked about Spruce backer Alexander Rovt and whether he had any role in the deal, the spokesperson said "We are unaware of any connection to Alexander Rovt."
Rovt is a Ukrainian émigré to the U.S. who earned more than $1 billion selling fertilizer in Ukraine and buying real estate in New York. In 2011, he sold all his overseas interests to Dmytro Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch who had been Manafort's business partner in a failed $850 million hotel redevelopment deal.
Firtash is under U.S. indictment in an unrelated case and facing extradition from Vienna, Austria.
A spokesperson for Alexander Rovt said, "As far as he knows, [Manafort's loan] came to Spruce through an unrelated broker like any other deal."
Manafort's LLC, Summerbreeze, took out a new $9.5 million loan in December using the Hamptons property as part of the collateral. The lender is Federal Savings Bank of Chicago, whose chief executive Steve Calk was an economic adviser to the Trump campaign.
NBC News and other media outlets reported in March that Manafort had used LLCs to buy four properties in New York City between 2006 and 2014 for cash, and had then taken out mortgages on them.
Manafort said through a spokesman at the time that his real-estate transactions were "executed in a transparent fashion and my identity was disclosed — in fact my name is right there on the documents in one of today's news reports."

Were Trump’s revelations to the Russians criminal or just stupid? We can’t rule out either

After blurting secrets to the Russians, Trump faces a NATO meeting dumbed down for his benefit. Can it get worse?

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Back in January there was a little-noticed story among all the hubbub surrounding reports of Russian interference in the election and possible ties with the Trump campaign. YnetNews reported the following:
Donald Trump’s upcoming inauguration as the next president of the United States is causing Israeli intelligence officials to lose sleep as well. Discussions held in closed forums recently raised fears of a leakage of Israeli intelligence top-classified information, clandestine modus operandi and sources, which have been exposed to the American intelligence community over the past 15 years, to Russia — and from there to Iran.
 The following month the Wall Street Journal reported this:
US intelligence officials have withheld sensitive intelligence from President Donald Trump because they are concerned it could be leaked or compromised, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter . . .
These reports were received in right-wing circles as evidence of ongoing treason by the intelligence community. I recall coming across them and thinking that it seemed paranoid. It was hard to imagine that even Trump could be so dumb or craven as to give secret information to anyone, particularly to the Russian government. Sure, he had a thing for Putin and was precipitously tilting toward Russia for shallow and nonstrategic reasons, but the presidency would have to sober him up and require him to operate in a more serious manner.
Nobody in their right mind could have ever believed that within four months  Trump would unceremoniously fire the FBI director over what he admitted were concerns about the Russian investigation and then the next morning meet with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office. The meeting had been previously scheduled, but it looked terrible. It looked even worse when the American press was kept out of the meeting while representatives of Russian government media were allowed in. They posted pictures of President Trump at the meeting grinning like a jack-o’-lantern with Lavrov and a surprise guest, Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — the man at the very center of the Russia probes.
This was all so unbelievable that you had to wonder whether Trump had cooked up an elaborate trolling exercise designed to let investigators know that he was going to do whatever he wanted and there was nothing anyone could do to stop him. As it turned out, receiving Lavrov was a favor to President Vladimir Putin, the man to whom Trump just couldn’t say no, as Trump told CBS’ John Dickerson.
None of that could have prepared us for what The Washington Post reported yesterday: Not only did Trump do all those things listed above; he also gave the Russian ambassador classified “code-word-protected” intelligence, putting some vital resources at risk and scaring the hell out of anyone who ever shared information with the U.S. government. If it were anyone but Donald Trump and his Keystone Kop White House, one would be forced to conclude that the president of the United States is an agent of the Russian government.
But this is Donald Trump, a man in so far over his head that it’s amazing he’s still breathing. The most likely explanation is that he’s just too ignorant to know what he was saying. By all accounts, he refuses to sit still for briefings and demands that all reports be reduced to single-page bullet points. He has shown absolutely no willingness to bone up on necessary knowledge; he lies and exaggerates constantly. and all you have to do is look at his Twitter feed to see that he is as impulsive and combative as a tween bully.
So it’s entirely predictable that he shot off his mouth to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador as a boast. According to the Post he said, “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day” and proceeded to blurt some out to prove it. His warm feelings toward Russia may have been the motivation:
Us intell official says trump was trying to show russians "how cooperative he wants to be with them" in fight against isis. @washingtonpost
Those Russian officials were undoubtedly very pleased. They certainly were all smiles in the pictures. American allies and others who have cooperated with the U.S. in sharing intelligence probably weren’t quite so happy about it.
This bombshell couldn’t have come at a worse time. Trump is about to embark on his first international tour and it was already looking like it would be yet another humiliation for the United States. Foreign Policy reported on Monday the following about the upcoming NATO meeting:
NATO is scrambling to tailor its upcoming meeting to avoid taxing President Donald Trump’s notoriously short attention span. The alliance is telling heads of state to limit talks to two to four minutes at a time during the discussion, several sources inside NATO and former senior U.S. officials tell Foreign Policy. And the alliance scrapped plans to publish the traditional full post-meeting statement meant to crystallize NATO’s latest strategic stance.
The heads of 28 NATO member states will be there and they’re all anticipating a meeting tailored to a petulant child who needs to be entertained:
“Even a brief NATO summit is way too stiff, too formal, and too policy heavy for Trump. Trump is not going to like that,” said Jorge Benitez, a NATO expert with the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank.
Organizers are scrapping the normal declaration that accompanies such meetings because they think Trump won’t be happy. You see, one of the primary reasons for NATO’s existence is its adversarial relationship to Russia and we all know how Trump feels about that.
After Trump’s shenanigans this past week, let’s just say that it’s unlikely anyone at the meeting will feel all that comfortable sharing anything but small talk with President Loose Lips. According to Foreign Policy:
“People are scared of his unpredictability, intimidated by how he might react knowing the president might speak his mind — or tweet his mind,” the former official said. Or, as another current senior NATO official put it before the meeting: “We’re bracing for impact.”
It’s best to keep your seat belt fastened at all times. The turbulence grows worse every day.

What Happens When Intelligence Agencies Lose Faith in the President?

If bureaucrats restrict the information they share with political leaders, the damage could prove deep and lasting.

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American military and intelligence agencies must assume from now on that the president of the United States is a security risk. He cannot be trusted to protect state secrets.

In a parliamentary system, a head of government who did what Donald Trump has done would already have resigned. There is no sign of that from the 45th president. Instead, the remainder of the U.S. government must cope with a president who has proven himself unable to understand the significance of the secrets shown him—proven himself a compulsive blurter and blabber—and added new urgency to the fear that he is somehow under the thrall of Russia.

Would the president have so abjectly tried to impress representatives of any other country? He blabbed because he bragged, and he bragged because he values Russia’s and Putin’s goodwill so bizarrely much. As the economist Justin Wolfers noted, if officials had not revealed the truth to the media, the Russians would now genuinely have damaging kompromat on Trump: the secret of a dereliction of duty that would have gotten anybody else in government fired, if not indicted.

So what happens now?

When officials at one agency of government become convinced that another cannot be trusted to preserve secrets, they slow the flow of information to that agency. Can they do that when the distrusted agency is the White House; the distrusted person, the president of the United States?

The president can never be cut out of the information loop altogether. But consider how little information Trump wants in the first place. He is satisfied with single pagers dotted by colorful bullet points. If that is all he uses, maybe it’s better for everybody to hold back information he could possibly misuse?

Or maybe the sterilization will happen inside the White House itself. The National Security Council staff, formerly tasked to integrate the presidency and the government, could find a new rule: quarantining the president from the government.

If so, they’ll be averting one immediate danger by creating another for the longer term: They will be rerouting the government of the United States around its constitutional head. Unelected staff will decide what the elected president can safely be allowed to know.

It’s understandable why conscientious professionals would take such measures. Yet consider the troubling consequence of that decision. The security aspects of government would slip away from political control—for reasons that might seem necessary in the short run, but could be hard to reverse in the longer term. Donald Trump promised to shake up Washington. And what is being shaken is the trust of those who must carry out his orders. Someone has to be ultimately in charge of the national-security portions of the U.S. government. After this week, it may become a lot harder to identify precisely who that someone is.

Thoughts And Prayers For All The GOP Lawmakers Concerned About Trump’s Behavior

But will all these members of Congress actually do anything to check Trump?

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By Amanda Terkel

After The Washington Post published its explosive report that President Donald Trumprecently disclosed “highly classified” information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador, politicians in Washington did what they usually do in reacting to serious matters: They said they were troubled and concerned and then went about their way.
Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) said the news was “deeply concerning,” and he will raise it when the House Intelligence Committee meets.  
“I would be concerned anytime we’re discussing sensitive subjects with the Russians,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.). 
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) similarly said the revelations were “deeply disturbing,” while Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told the White House to get its act together: “The White House has got to do something soon to bring itself under control and in order. It’s got to happen.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he wants a “full explanation” from the administration of what Trump disclosed, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would simply like “a little less drama from the White House on a lot of things so that we can focus on our agenda.”
None of them offered ways in which they’ll be a check and balance against Trump.
Lawmakers in Trump’s party largely reacted the same way when Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said he was “troubled” by the timing of the firing, which came as the FBI is investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections ― and whether there was any collusion with Trump’s campaign. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) went a step further and called Comey’s dismissal “very troubling.” Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) called for “a transparent explanation as to how this decision was reached and why it was executed at this time.”
Those lawmakers were some of the most critical of what Trump did; others defended his decision. Most Republican lawmakers ― even those who don’t like that Comey was fired ― still don’t think it’s necessary to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Russia and the 2016 election. 
On Tuesday, when The New York Times reported that Trump pressed Comey to end the FBI’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his contacts with Russian officials, Burr ― who is chair of the Intelligence Committee and has subpoena power ― threw his hands up in the air and said it was the media’s job to hold Trump accountable. 
Members of Congress have always been great at putting out strongly worded statements. They’re also quick to issue thoughts and prayers after a national tragedy. But they’ve never been as good at actually using their power to take action, especially when it means punitive action against a member of their own party. 
The proper handling of classified information is something the Republicans have been deeply concerned about for quite some time. Some were, after all, willing to go so far as to say Hillary Clinton should be impeached if she became president because of the way she handled classified information by setting up a private email server as secretary of state. (The FBI cleared her of wrongdoing.)
In July, Ryan called on the director of national intelligence to refrain from giving Clinton classified briefings during the campaign.
In October 2015, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) said Clinton ― who had not yet even won the Democratic nomination ― would be a “unique president...because the day she’s sworn in is the day that she’s subject to impeachment because she has committed high crimes and misdemeanors.” He questioned “how many lives she put at risk by violating all rules of law that are designed to protect America’s top-secret and classified information from falling into the hands of our geopolitical foes.”
Brooks, however, was less gung-ho about going after Trump Tuesday, saying that it didn’t appear the president violated any laws. 
“That’s a distinction” between the Clinton and Trump situations, he told HuffPost. “If that changes, then let me see what the change is.”
He eventually acknowledged it could be “worrisome” if Trump shared highly classified information with the Russians that could reveal sensitive sources critical in the fight against terrorists. 
“If it’s true [it’s worrisome]. If it’s not true, it’s not worrisome,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s true or not.”
And in the end, if nothing else works, there are always thoughts and prayers.
“I have put more time in prayer than perhaps I had before,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said Monday. “There is nothing about how [Trump] conducted the campaign or his actions in the first few months that would give me hope, but that is what faith after all is, is the triumph of hope over experience.”