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BREAKING: Fake news CNN discovers Russian video game “Hilltendo” tricked 60 million Americans to vote Trump (Video)

CNN finally caught Russians swaying millions of US voters with this 3-level game.

Alex Christoforou

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CNN has blown the Trump-Russia 2016 election collusion doors wide open with undeniable proof of how the Russians convinced over 60 million Americans to vote Trump in 2016.

Aside from using 13 Russian bots on twitter working convince Americans to vote Trump, CNN is now reporting that the Kremlin also engineered a “Crooked” Hillary video game (“not playable on smartphones”) which had the awesome power to magically change voters’ minds during the 2016 US presidential campaign.

RT reports on the effects the game called “Hilltendo” had on the unsuspecting American voting public…

CNN’s crackerjack reporters have discovered that Russians created an anti-Hillary Clinton video game called “Hilltendo” and then tried to make it go viral in the weeks before the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Fake news CNN reports

On the surface, it looks like a silly, Flash-based game of the sort that populated the internet for years. Yet Hilltendo appears to be more sophisticated than that. In fact, it may indicate an intent to zero in on the people who played the game, track their behavior on social media, and hit them later with micro-targeted advertisements, according to several website programmers and cybersecurity experts who viewed the code at CNN’s request.

The evidence is embedded in the website’s code, internet records, the methodical campaign to make Hilltendo gain popularity online, and a Russian software developer’s ties to the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency.

Jonathon Morgan, whose company New Knowledge tracks the spread of misinformation online, said the game is an example of how sophisticated and expansive Russian propaganda is and why it’s difficult for any one social media platform to solve the problem.

The game consisted of three levels, starting with this one: “Help Hillary delete as many classified emails as possible before she is caught.” Players controlled a Hillary Clinton character who sits on a missile and eliminates emails, all while avoiding FBI agents.

The next level asked: “How much money can Hillary get from the Arab states?” At the top of the screen, nations’ flags drop money. At the bottom, the Clinton character holds a basket to collect the cash as it falls.

The final level challenged users to “Help Hillary throw the Constitution as far as possible,” and it included caricatures of then-President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton.

The game’s website had Facebook and Google tracking software embedded on it. This software would have made it possible for the game’s creators to identify people who played the game and later target them with advertising elsewhere on the Web, including on Facebook, potentially to direct them to disinformation campaigns.

Hilltendo would have been a relatively simple game to build, said Brian Moore, a New York-based developer who built the viral anti-Republican video game “GOP Arcade.”

“You could get this out in as quickly as 12 hours. It’s a very simple game. They could have found a template to build the game on. The animations are pretty stock. It’s not anything too insane,” he told CNN. “The art is the hardest part. It’s pretty polished.”

How did fake news CNN connect the dots from the video game to Russia…

Hilltendo.com, like any website, is kept online by a computer network with an Internet Protocol address. Many websites can be randomly grouped together on the same IP address — 17 different websites that have nothing to do with anti-American Russian activity once had the IP address eventually used by Hilltendo.

But records examined by cybersecurity expert Paul Vixie and CNN appear to show that, beginning in May 2016, the hosting company dedicated this IP address to a single client. From that point on, the only new websites assigned to that address were Hilltendo.com, PlayWithHillary.com, and BlackFist.pro. BlackFist.pro has previously been shown to have been run by the Internet Research Agency, the Kremlin-linked corporation indicted by U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller last month.

There are further signs of the websites’ connections to each other and to Russians.

PlayWithHillary.com and Hilltendo.com were registered on the same day: September 9, 2016. Anonymized records of internet traffic obtained by CNN show that both websites were first connected to just hours apart, possibly by the administrator of the sites testing them. Those records were collected by Vixie, one of the world’s top experts on Domain Name Server records, the system that serves as the internet’s phone book.

It is still theoretically possible that the three websites are unconnected to each other. But Vixie noted that this would be an astounding coincidence: Two different people registering similar domain names on the same day with the same web hosting provider, and assigned the same IP address.

“I don’t see that happening,” he said.

And there’s one more clue on top of that. The identity of the person who registered Hilltendo.com is kept hidden by a corporate proxy — a common tactic used by everyday people seeking privacy online. But the registration information for PlayWithHillary.com is public. It lists someone named Aleksandr Skripnikov in St. Petersburg, Russia, where the Internet Research Agency is based.

CNN also documented how mentions of “Hilltendo” made their way across the internet.

The game does not appear to have been shared widely on Twitter. Only two dozen or so links to the game were still live on Wednesday. One person who did share the game on Twitter, however, appears to be a Russian software developer living in St. Petersburg with two ties to the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency.

The Twitter user @MetalRex101, who self-identified as Ilya Ibragimov, created an account there the month Hilltendo went live. When CNN viewed the account last year, it included only two tweets — both linking to Hilltendo, both sent just days after the game was released. The @MetalRex101 account has since been suspended. Twitter would not say why it was taken down, but it has purged thousands of Russian accounts tied to U.S. election meddling.

Ibragimov uses the “MetalRex101” identity on various online services, and he lists his job history on the Russian social media platform VKontakte. In 2016, according to his VKontakte profile, Ibragimov worked at Glavset — a company based in the building where the Internet Research Agency operated: 55 Savushkina Street in St. Petersburg.

In 2014, Ibragimov’s VKontakte profile says, he worked at another St. Petersburg firm, Morkov. Morkov is run by Sergey Polozov, according to Polozov’s own VKontakte account and Russian company records. Polozov was one of the 13 Russian nationals named in Mueller’s indictment of the Internet Research Agency last month.

According to the indictment, Polozov worked for the Internet Research Agency from 2014 to 2016, serving as the manager of its IT department. Part of his role, the indictment claims, was to procure U.S. servers and other computer infrastructure in an attempt to mask the agency’s Russian origins.

CNN has reached out to Polozov and Ibragimov for comment.

Efforts to promote the game appear to have been focused primarily on the online image sharing website Imgur. It is the 14th most popular website in the United States, according to the online audience tracker Alexa — ahead of sites like Pinterest, CNN, and The New York Times.

In September 2016, just days after the Hilltendo.com website was registered, two Imgur accounts, both only weeks old, posted lists of video games to “kill your time.” Both of the posts went viral on the platform and were viewed more than 700,000 times; one even made it to Imgur’s coveted front page.

The pair’s posts have since been removed by the company. But back in September 2016, they were highlighted by Imgur staff in a weekly blog post about the top performing posts on the platform.

CNN reviewed these accounts last fall. Both had telltale signs of sham marketing campaigns.

Months after these posts were made, CNN spoke to several Imgur users who were bothered by them. Daniel Lupton, an actuary in Minnesota, said that when he first saw them he thought, “This doesn’t make sense. It feels all fake. It feels manufactured.”

In a statement to CNN, Imgur said: “We have been actively investigating how our platform may have been used by foreign actors. We plan to proactively share what we have learned with authorities and investigators.” The company said it has not been contacted by Mueller’s team or congressional investigators.

A link to the game was also posted to Voat, a platform that markets itself as an alternative to Reddit. There, the game was posted by user “Peter_Hurst.” Hurst posted to Voat almost 200 times in the two months between July and September 2016.

Dozens of Hurst’s posts linked to articles on DoNotShoot.us and BlackMattersUS.com, two websites CNN confirmed were part of a Russia’s effort to interfere in American politics. The account is still on the platform but has not posted since 2016.

On Reddit, a “Peter_Hurst” account also regularly posted links to Internet Research Agency websites, CNN found.

Reddit said the Peter_Hurst account was suspended in 2016 for spam, but did not provide any further details.

In a post on the platform on Monday, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said that the company is investigating the spread of Russian propaganda on its platform and is cooperating with congressional investigators.

In a statement, U.S. Senator Mark Warner, the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, said that he would encourage Reddit and other sites “to take a much closer look at how their platforms and services could be used to manipulate their users’ trust and attention.”

Hilltendo does not appear to have achieved virality on Facebook or Twitter, perhaps in part because it was not playable on smartphones. It was only available on desktop and laptop computers.

The game is no longer online, but numbers previously displayed on the site claimed the game was played almost 19,000 times.

In the process of investigating the game’s origins, CNN downloaded the Hilltendo video game’s computer code. We reviewed every line of code and received help from Amanda Rousseau, senior malware researcher at the cybersecurity company Endgame. Buried within the thousands of lines of code were mentions of “kek kek,” online slang predominantly used by alt-right trolls to represent laughter.

You can’t make this stuff up!

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Major Syrian Army Assault On Southeast Idlib As Sochi Deal Unravels

Though the Syrian war has grown cold in terms of international spotlight and media interest since September, it is likely again going to ramp up dramatically over the next few months. 

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Via Zerohedge


The Syrian Army unleashed a major assault across the southeastern part of Idlib province on Saturday, a military source told Middle East news site Al-Masdar in a breaking report. According to the source, government forces pounded jihadist defenses across the southeast Idlib axis with a plethora of artillery shells and surface-to-surface missiles.

This latest exchange between the Syrian military and jihadist rebels comes as the Sochi Agreement falls apart in northwestern Syria, and in response to a Friday attack by jihadists which killed 22 Syrian soldiers near a planned buffer zone around the country’s last major anti-Assad and al-Qaeda held region. The jihadist strikes resulted in the highest number of casualties for the army since the Sochi Agreement was established on September 17th.

Though the Syrian war has grown cold in terms of international spotlight and media interest since September, it is likely again going to ramp up dramatically over the next few months.

The Al-Masdar source said the primary targets for the Syrian Army were the trenches and military posts for Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham in the towns of Al-Taman’ah, Khuwayn, Babulin, Haish, Jarjanaz, Um Jalal, and Mashirfah Shmaliyah. In retaliation for the Syrian Army assault, the jihadist rebels began shelling the government towns of Ma’an, Um Hariteen, and ‘Atshan.

Damascus has been critical of the Sochi deal from the start as it’s criticized Turkey’s role in the Russian-brokered ceasefire plan, especially as a proposed ‘de-militarized’ zone has failed due to jihadist insurgents still holding around 70% of the planned buffer area which they were supposed to withdraw from by mid-October. Sporadic clashes have rocked the “buffer zone” since.

Russia itself recently acknowledged the on the ground failure of the Sochi agreement even as parties officially cling to it. During a Thursday press briefing by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova admitted the following:

We have to state that the real disengagement in Idlib has not been achieved despite Turkey’s continuing efforts to live up to its commitments under the Russian-Turkish Memorandum of September 17.

This followed Russia also recently condemning  “sporadic clashes” and “provocations” by the jihadist group HTS (the main al-Qaeda presence) in Idlib.

Likely due to Moscow seeing the writing on the wall that all-out fighting and a full assault by government forces on Idlib will soon resume, Russian naval forces continued a show of force in the Mediterranean this week.

Russian military and naval officials announced Friday that its warships held extensive anti-submarine warfare drills in the Mediterranean. Specifically the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s frigates Admiral Makarov and Admiral Essen conducted the exercise in tandem with deck-based helicopters near Syrian coastal waters.

Notably, according to TASS, the warships central to the drill are “armed with eight launchers of Kalibr-NK cruise missiles that are capable of striking surface, coastal and underwater targets at a distance of up to 2,600 km.”

Since September when what was gearing up to be a major Syrian-Russian assault on Idlib was called off through the Russian-Turkish ceasefire agreement, possibly in avoidance of the stated threat that American forces would intervene in defense of the al-Qaeda insurgent held province (also claiming to have intelligence of an impending government “chemical attack”), the war has largely taken a back-burner in the media and public consciousness.

But as sporadic fighting between jihadists and Syrian government forces is reignited and fast turning into major offensive operations by government forces, the war could once again be thrust back into the media spotlight as ground zero for a great power confrontation between Moscow and Washington.

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Trump Quietly Orders Elimination of Assange

The destruction of Assange has clearly been arranged for, at the highest levels of the U.S. Government, just as the destruction of Jamal Khashoggi was by Saudi Arabia’s Government.

Eric Zuesse

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On June 28th, the Washington Examiner headlined “Pence pressed Ecuadorian president on country’s protection of Julian Assange” and reported that “Vice President Mike Pence discussed the asylum status of Julian Assange during a meeting with Ecuador’s leader on Thursday, following pressure from Senate Democrats who have voiced concerns over the country’s protection of the WikiLeaks founder.” Pence had been given this assignment by U.S. President Donald Trump. The following day, the Examiner bannered “Mike Pence raises Julian Assange case with Ecuadorean president, White House confirms” and reported that the White House had told the newspaper, “They agreed to remain in close coordination on potential next steps going forward.”

On August 24th, a court-filing by Kellen S. Dwyer, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Alexandria Division of the Eastern District of Virginia, stated: “Due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure [than sealing the case, hiding it from the public] is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged. … This motion and the proposed order would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter.” That filing was discovered by Seamus Hughes, a terrorism expert at the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. On November 15th, he posted an excerpt of it on Twitter, just hours after the Wall Street Journal had reported on the same day that the Justice Department was preparing to prosecute Assange. However, now that we know “the fact that Assange has been charged” and that the U.S. Government is simply waiting “until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter,” it is clear and public that the arrangements which were secretly made between Trump’s agent Pence and the current President of Ecuador are expected to deliver Assange into U.S. custody for criminal prosecution, if Assange doesn’t die at the Ecuadorean Embassy first.

On November 3rd (which, of course, preceded the disclosures on November 15th), Julian Assange’s mother, Christine Ann Hawkins, described in detail what has happened to her son since the time of Pence’s meeting with Ecuador’s President. She said:

He is, right now, alone, sick, in pain, silenced in solitary confinement, cut off from all contact, and being tortured in the heart of London. … He has been detained nearly eight years, without trial, without charge. For the past six years, the UK Government has refused his requests to exit for basic health needs, … [even for] vitamin D. … As a result, his health has seriously deteriorated. … A slow and cruel assassination is taking place before our very eyes. … They will stop at nothing. … When U.S. Vice President Mike Pence recently visited Ecuador, a deal was done to hand Julian over to the U.S. He said that because the political cost of expelling Julian from the Embassy was too high, the plan was to break him down mentally…   to such a point that he will break and be forced to leave. … The extradition warrant is held in secret, four prosecutors but no defense, and no judge, … without a prima-facie case. [Under the U.S. system, the result nonetheless can be] indefinite detention without trial. Julian could be held in Guantanamo Bay and tortured, sentenced to 45 years in a maximum security prison, or face the death penalty,” for “espionage,” in such secret proceedings.

Her phrase, “because the political cost of expelling Julian from the Embassy was too high” refers to the worry that this new President of Ecuador has, of his cooperating with the U.S. regime’s demands and thereby basically ceding sovereignty to those foreigners (the rulers of the U.S.), regarding the Ecuadorian citizen, Assange.

This conservative new President of Ecuador, who has replaced the progressive President who had granted Assange protection, is obviously doing all that he can to comply with U.S. President Trump and the U.S. Congress’s demand for Assange either to die soon inside the Embassy or else be transferred to the U.S. and basically just disappear, at Guantanamo or elsewhere. Ecuador’s President wants to do this in such a way that Ecuador’s voters won’t blame him for it, and that he’ll thus be able to be re-elected. This is the type of deal he apparently has reached with Trump’s agent, Pence. It’s all secret, but the evidence on this much of what was secretly agreed-to seems clear. There are likely other details of the agreement that cannot, as yet, be conclusively inferred from the subsequent events, but this much can.

Basically, Trump has arranged for Assange to be eliminated either by illness that’s imposed by his Ecuadorean agent, or else by Assange’s own suicide resulting from that “torture,” or else by America’s own criminal-justice system. If this elimination happens inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, then that would be optimal for America’s President and Congress; but, if it instead happens on U.S. soil, then that would be optimal for Ecuador’s President. Apparently, America’s President thinks that his subjects, the American people, will become sufficiently hostile toward Assange so that even if Assange disappears or is executed inside the United States, this President will be able to retain his supporters. Trump, of course, needs his supporters, but this is a gamble that he has now clearly taken. This much is clear, even though the rest of the secret agreement that was reached between Pence and Ecuador’s President is not.

Scooter Libby, who had arranged for the smearing of Valerie Plame who had tried to prevent the illegal and deceit-based 2003 invasion of Iraq, was sentenced to 30 months but never spent even a day in prison, and U.S. President Trump finally went so far as to grant him a complete pardon, on 13 April 2018. (The carefully researched docudrama “Fair Game” covered well the Plame-incident.) Libby had overseen the career-destruction of a courageous CIA agent, Plame, who had done the right thing and gotten fired for it; and Trump pardoned Libby, thus retroactively endorsing the lie-based invasion of Iraq in 2003. By contrast, Trump is determined to get Julian Assange killed or otherwise eliminated, and even Democrats in Congress are pushing for him to get that done. The new President of Ecuador is doing their bidding. Without pressure from the U.S. Government, Assange would already be a free man. Thus, either Assange will die (be murdered) soon inside the Embassy, or else he will disappear and be smeared in the press under U.S. control. And, of course, this is being done in such a way that no one will be prosecuted for the murder or false-imprisonment. Trump had promised to “clean the swamp,” but as soon as he was elected, he abandoned that pretense; and, as President, he has been bipartisan on that matter, to hide the crimes of the bipartisan U.S. Government, and he is remarkably similar in policy to his immediate predecessors, whom he had severely criticized while he was running for the Presidency.

In any event, the destruction of Assange has clearly been arranged for, at the highest levels of the U.S. Government, just as the destruction of Jamal Khashoggi was by Saudi Arabia’s Government; and, just like in Khashoggi’s case, the nation’s ruler controls the prosecutors and can therefore do whatever he chooses to do that the rest of the nation’s aristocracy consider to be acceptable.

The assault against truth isn’t only against Assange, but it is instead also closing down many of the best, most courageous, independent news sites, such as washingtonsblog. However, in Assange’s case, the penalty for having a firm commitment to truth has been especially excruciating and will almost certainly end in his premature death. This is simply the reality. Because of the system under which we live, a 100% commitment to truth is now a clear pathway to oblivion. Assange is experiencing this reality to the fullest. That’s what’s happening here.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Libya’s Peace Process Dies in Palermo

The best the Palermo negotiators could come up with at the end was a bland statement declaring their hope that sometime in the future all the Libyan forces will meet to sort out their differences.

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Authored by Richard Galustian for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity:


“Resounding flop” was the verdict of Italy’s former prime minister Matteo Renzi on this week’s Libya peace conference held in Palermo. He’s not wrong. The conference hosted by Italy’s new government achieved the remarkable feat of making Libya’s tensions worse, not better. Acrimony broke out between the parties, and Turkey’s delegation walked out, its vice president Fuat Oktay accusing unnamed States of trying to “hijack the process.”

Some sources in Palermo suggested, yet to be verified, that the US thought the Conference was not too bad: a joke if true.

Moreover the mystery we might ask is what “process” is there to hijack? Because the truth is, the peace plan the conference was supporting is already dead.

That plan was the brainchild of the United Nations, launched more than a year ago with the aim of ending Libya’s split between warring Eastern and Western governments with elections in December.

Even before the first delegates set foot in the pleasant Sicilian city of Palermo this week, the UN admitted the election date of December 10 they had decided to scrap.

The eastern government, led by the parliament in Tobruk, had made moves in the summer to organize a referendum on a new constitution which would govern the elections. But no referendum was held, and most Libyans agree it would be pointless because Tripoli, home to a third of the country’s population, is under the iron grip of multiple warring militias who have the firepower to defy any new elected government. Hours after the delegates left Palermo, those militias began a new bout of fighting in the Tripoli suburbs.

The best the Palermo negotiators could come up with at the end of the talks was a bland statement declaring their hope that sometime in the future all the Libyan forces will meet in a grand conference to sort out their differences – and this after four years of civil war. To say that chances of this are slim is an understatement.

Dominating the Palermo talks, and indeed Libya’s political landscape, was and is Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan National Army, the country’s most powerful formation. In four years, the LNA has secured Libya’s key oil fields and Benghazi, its second city, ridding most of the east Libya of Islamist militias.

Haftar met reluctantly negotiators in Palermo, but insisted he was not part of the talks process. The Italian government press office said Haftar was not having dinner with the other participants nor joining them for talks. Haftar specifically opposed the presence of the Muslim Brotherhood champion, Qatar, at the event along with Turkey.

Haftar clearly only attended because he had a few days before visiting Moscow – which sent to Sicily Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev – and because also of Egyptian President Sisi’s presence along with his allies.

Possibly Haftar was simply fed up. Twice in the past two years he has attended previous peace talks, hosted each time in Paris, giving the nod to declarations that Libya’s militias would dissolve. Yet the militias remain as strong as ever in Tripoli.

Haftar is detested by the militias and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) but supported by a large segment of the population – 68 percent, according to an opinion poll by America’s USAID. His popularity is based on a single policy – his demand that security be in the hands of regular police and military, not the militias.

Not everyone is happy, certainly not Turkey, which is backing Islamist, MB and Misratan forces in western Libya who detest Haftar. Yet Turkey’s greatest statesman, the great Kamal Ataturk, was a champion of secularism: After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire following World War One Turkey faced the prospect of utter disintegration, and it was Attaturk who rose to the challenge, defending the country’s borders, while ordering that the mullahs, while responsible for spiritual welfare, have no political power.

Political Islam is not popular in Libya either. Libya is a Muslim country, its people know their faith, and most want government to be decided through the ballot box.

The problem for Libya is what happens next with the peace process broken. Haftar has in the past threatened to move on Tripoli and rid the militias by force if they refuse to dissolve, and it may come to that – a fierce escalation of the civil war.

The second possibility is that Libya will split. The east is, thanks to the LNA, militarily secure. It also controls two thirds of the country’s oil and operates as a separate entity, down to it banknotes, which are printed in Russia while the Tripoli government’s are printed in Britain. A formal split would be an economic boon for the lightly populated east, but a disaster for Tripolitania, its population losing most of the oil, its only source of export income.

Yet with the failure of peace talks, and no sign of Tripoli militias dissolving, military escalation or breakup seem more likely than ever.

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