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Meddling gone WILD: Internet giants all over the map in Russian ‘election meddling’ testimony

Russia conspiracy theorists can’t decide if the Kremlin wanted to help Trump or tear him down

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(ZeroHedge) – Following today’s Senate Judiciary panel hearings with social media executives, the establishment’s ‘Russians colluded with Trump’ narrative is hanging but all but the thinnest of threads.

Having shown that so-called ‘Russian actors’ “were trying to create discord between Americans,” during the election – which politicians attempted to position as “directed against Clinton,” top lawyers from Facebook and Twitter said Tuesday that Russian-linked posts and advertisements placed on the social networks after Election Day sought to sow doubt about President Donald Trump’s victory.

As we showed earlier, sixteen thousand Facebook users said that they planned to attend a Trump protest on Nov. 12, 2016 organized by the Facebook page for BlackMattersUS – a Russian-linked group.

The event was shared with 61,000 users.

“Join us in the streets! Stop Trump and his bigoted agenda!” reads the Facebook event page for the rally.

“Divided is the reason we just fell. We must unite despite our differences to stop HATE from ruling the land.”

And that appears to have the ‘Russians’ m.o. after the election, as Politico reports, Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch told a Senate Judiciary panel that content generated by a Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency after Nov. 8 centered on “fomenting discord about the validity of his [Trump’s] election.”

“During the election, they were trying to create discord between Americans, most of it directed against Clinton.

After the election you saw Russian-tied groups and organizations trying to undermine President Trump’s legitimacy. Is that what you saw on Facebook?” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asked at the hearing.

Stretch and his Twitter counterpart, Sean Edgett, called that an “accurate” statement.

Not really the one-sided, reason-for-my-loss, Russians-colluded narrative that the left (and right establishment) would like to be spun.

The social media giants’ counsels parried most grandstanding blows from the various politicians; however, there were five key moments that Politico identified during the hearings…

1) First look at the fake Russian ads

Tuesday’s hearing offered the public its first look at political ads that Facebook and Twitter have identified as being purchased by the Russia-sponsored Internet Research Agency. The companies provided copies of the ads to congressional investigators earlier this month and revealed yesterday that they were seen by millions of users in the U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) showed an advertisement depicting an altered image of comedian Aziz Ansari holding a sign deceptively claiming voters could cast ballots via text from home. Meanwhile, Coons decried a sponsored image of a kneeling solider with the text “Hillary Clinton has a 69 percent disapproval rate among all veterans” overlaid on top. Facebook has said publicly that lawmakers should decide whether to make all 3,000 Russia-backed ads it has found available for public review.

2) Facebook not sure whether Russian ads swayed election

Facebook wasn’t able to offer much in the form of a definitive answer when Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) asked the company if it felt like content on its platform had an effect on the election. “In an election where a total of about 115,000 votes would have changed the outcome, can you say that the false and misleading propaganda people saw on your Facebook didn’t have an impact on the election?” Hirono asked. Stretch dodged in response. “We’re not well-positioned to judge why any one person or an entire electorate voted as it did,” he said.

3) Facebook won’t say no to accepting election-related foreign money

Franken, in an especially fiery exchange, asked Twitter, Google and Facebook if they would commit to not accepting foreign money payments on election-related advertisements, saying he wanted a simple “yes” or “no” answer from the platforms — and wanted to know why Facebook didn’t catch Russian agents purchasing ads sooner. Stretch said he hesitated on the foreign currency question because “it’s relatively easy for bad actors to switch currencies. So it’s a signal but not enough.” Edgett gave a quick “yes” to Franken, and Google Law Enforcement and Information Security Director Richard Salgado said Google would need to have a good enough “signal” that the transaction was illegal to keep it from going through. “Foreigners can’t use money in our campaign, you know that?” Franken said.

4) Democrats — allies of tech — attack their friends

For Democrats, who have for years had a largely warm and productive relationship with liberal-leaning Silicon Valley, the hearing represented a sharp break. Several members seized upon the chance to unleash on the company reps their simmering frustrations that the tech industry’s tools — so often pitched as the means for making the world a better place — had harmed their nominee, perhaps even fatally. Blumenthal highlighted widely shared posts on Twitter that incorrectly claimed that voters could cast ballots for Clinton simply by tweeting. “Do you know how many thought they voted but in fact were fooled?,” Blumenthal asked Edgett, who said he did not know.

5) No support for Honest Ads Act

Not a single one of the three tech giants would commit to supporting Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.)’s Honest Ads Act, which would require disclosures about political advertising on their platforms. All three have rolled out and touted work to independently address the issue of ads, following the introduction of the bill. “We certainly support the goals of the legislation and would like to work through the nuances to make it work for all of us,” Salgado said. Their answers prompted Klobuchar to draw attention to the lack of external oversight on these actions. “Just to clarify, while you are taking responsibility for a lot of what happened here, and trying to make some changes, there wouldn’t be an outside enforcer for any of these policies, right?”

Finally, James Lewis, an international cyber policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the revelation about Russian anti-Trump activity on social media post-election fits with typical Kremlin information warfare efforts.

“Their goal is to create confusion and dissent. The target is the U.S. and NATO, not any particular candidate. They just want chaos…”

Credit: Tyler Durden

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Constantinople: Ukrainian Church leader is now uncanonical

October 12 letter proclaims Metropolitan Onuphry as uncanonical and tries to strong-arm him into acquiescing through bribery and force.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The pressure in Ukraine kept ratcheting up over the last few days, with a big revelation today that Patriarch Bartholomew now considers Metropolitan Onuphy “uncanonical.” This news was published on 6 December by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (running under the Moscow Patriarchate).

This assessment marks a complete 180-degree turn by the leader of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, and it further embitters the split that has developed to quite a major row between this church’s leadership and the Moscow Patriarchate.

OrthoChristian reported this today (we have added emphasis):

A letter of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine was published yesterday by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in which the Patriarch informed the Metropolitan that his title and position is, in fact, uncanonical.

This assertion represents a negation of the position held by Pat. Bartholomew himself until April of this year, when the latest stage in the Ukrainian crisis began…

The same letter was independently published by the Greek news agency Romfea today as well.

It is dated October 12, meaning it was written just one day after Constantinople made its historic decision to rehabilitate the Ukrainian schismatics and rescind the 1686 document whereby the Kiev Metropolitanate was transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church, thereby, in Constantinople’s view, taking full control of Ukraine.

In the letter, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that after the council, currently scheduled for December 15, he will no longer be able to carry his current title of “Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine.”

The Patriarch immediately opens his letter with Constantinople’s newly-developed historical claim about the jurisdictional alignment of Kiev: “You know from history and from indisputable archival documents that the holy Metropolitanate of Kiev has always belonged to the jurisdiction of the Mother Church of Constantinople…”

Constantinople has done an about-face on its position regarding Ukraine in recent months, given that it had previously always recognized the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate as the sole canonical primate in Ukraine.

…The bulk of the Patriarch’s letter is a rehash of Constantinople’s historical and canonical arguments, which have already been laid out and discussed elsewhere. (See also here and here). Pat. Bartholomew also writes that Constantinople stepped into the Ukrainian ecclesiastical sphere as the Russian Church had not managed to overcome the schisms that have persisted for 30 years.

It should be noted that the schisms began and have persisted precisely as anti-Russian movements and thus the relevant groups refused to accept union with the Russian Church.

Continuing, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that his position and title are uncanonical:

Addressing you as ‘Your Eminence the Metropolitan of Kiev’ as a form of economia [indulgence/condescension—OC] and mercy, we inform you that after the elections for the primate of the Ukrainian Church by a body that will consist of clergy and laity, you will not be able ecclesiologically and canonically to bear the title of Metropolitan of Kiev, which, in any case, you now bear in violation of the described conditions of the official documents of 1686.

He also entreats Met. Onuphry to “promptly and in a spirit of harmony and unity” participate, with the other hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in the founding council of the new Ukrainian church that Constantinople is planning to create, and in the election of its primate.

The Constantinople head also writes that he “allows” Met. Onuphry to be a candidate for the position of primate.

He further implores Met. Onuphry and the UOC hierarchy to communicate with Philaret Denisenko, the former Metropolitan of Kiev, and Makary Maletich, the heads of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” and the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” respectively—both of which have been subsumed into Constantinople—but whose canonical condemnations remain in force for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The hierarchs of the Serbian and Polish Churches have also officially rejected the rehabilitation of the Ukrainian schismatics.

Pat. Bartholomew concludes expressing his confidence that Met. Onuphry will decide to heal the schism through the creation of a new church in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Metropolitan Onuphry’s leadership is recognized as the sole canonical Orthodox jurisdiction in Ukraine by just about every other canonical Orthodox Jurisdiction besides Constantinople. Even NATO member Albania, whose expressed reaction was “both sides are wrong for recent actions” still does not accept the canonicity of the “restored hierarchs.”

In fact, about the only people in this dispute that seem to be in support of the “restored” hierarchs, Filaret and Makary, are President Poroshenko, Patriarch Bartholomew, Filaret and Makary… and NATO.

While this letter was released to the public eye yesterday, the nearly two months that Metropolitan Onuphry has had to comply with it have not been helped in any way by the actions of both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Ukrainian government.

Priests of the Canonical Church in Ukraine awaiting interrogation by the State authorities

For example, in parallel reports released on December 6th, the government is reportedly accusing canonical priests in Ukraine of treason because they are carrying and distributing a brochure entitled (in English): The Ukrainian Orthodox Church: Relations with the State. The Attitude Towards the Conflict in Donbass and to the Church Schism. Questions and Answers.

In a manner that would do any American liberal proud, these priests are being accused of inciting religious hatred, though really all they are doing is offering an explanation for the situation in Ukraine as it exists.

A further piece also released yesterday notes that the Ukrainian government rehabilitated an old Soviet-style technique of performing “inspections of church artifacts” at the Pochaev Lavra. This move appears to be both intended to intimidate the monastics who are living there now, who are members of the canonical Church, as well as preparation for an expected forcible takeover by the new “united Church” that is under creation. The brotherhood characterized the inspections in this way:

The brotherhood of the Pochaev Lavra previously characterized the state’s actions as communist methods of putting pressure on the monastery and aimed at destroying monasticism.

Commenting on the situation with the Pochaev Lavra, His Eminence Archbishop Clement of Nizhyn and Prilusk, the head of the Ukrainian Church’s Information-Education Department, noted:

This is a formal raiding, because no reserve ever built the Pochaev Lavra, and no Ministry of Culture ever invested a single penny to restoring the Lavra, and the state has done nothing to preserve the Lavra in its modern form. The state destroyed the Lavra, turned it into a psychiatric hospital, a hospital for infectious diseases, and so on—the state has done nothing more. And now it just declares that it all belongs to the state. No one asked the Church, the people that built it. When did the Lavra and the land become state property? They belonged to the Church from time immemorial.

With the massive pressure both geopolitically and ecclesiastically building in Ukraine almost by the day, it is anyone’s guess what will happen next.

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Ukrainian leadership is a party of war, and it will continue as long as they’re in power – Putin

“We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.

RT

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Via RT…


Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has branded the Ukrainian leadership a “party of war” which would continue fueling conflicts while they stay in power, giving the recent Kerch Strait incident as an example.

“When I look at this latest incident in the Black Sea, all what’s happening in Donbass – everything indicates that the current Ukrainian leadership is not interested in resolving this situation at all, especially in a peaceful way,” Putin told reporters during a media conference in the aftermath of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

This is a party of war and as long as they stay in power, all such tragedies, all this war will go on.

The Kiev authorities are craving war primarily for two reasons – to rip profits from it, and to blame all their own domestic failures on it and actions of some sort of “aggressors.”

“As they say, for one it’s war, for other – it’s mother. That’s reason number one why the Ukrainian government is not interested in a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” Putin stated.

Second, you can always use war to justify your failures in economy, social policy. You can always blame things on an aggressor.

This approach to statecraft by the Ukrainian authorities deeply concerns Russia’s President. “We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been soaring after the incident in the Kerch Strait. Last weekend three Ukrainian Navy ships tried to break through the strait without seeking the proper permission from Russia. Following a tense stand-off and altercation with Russia’s border guard, the vessels were seized and their crews detained over their violation of the country’s border.

While Kiev branded the incident an act of “aggression” on Moscow’s part, Russia believes the whole Kerch affair to be a deliberate “provocation” which allowed Kiev to declare a so-called “partial” martial law ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election.

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When Putin Met Bin Sally

Another G20 handshake for the history books.

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Via Zerohedge


In the annals of handshake photo-ops, we just may have a new winner (much to the delight of oil bulls who are looking at oil treading $50 and contemplating jumping out of the window).

Nothing but sheer joy, delight and friendship…

…but something is missing…

Meanwhile, earlier…

Zoomed in…

And again.

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