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Hacked Emails Reveal NATO General Plotting Against Obama on Russia Policy

The Intercept -

Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, until recently the supreme commander of NATO forces in Europe, plotted in private to overcome President Barack Obama’s reluctance to escalate military tensions with Russia over the war in Ukraine in 2014, according to apparently hacked emails from Breedlove’s Gmail account that were posted on a new website called DC Leaks.

Obama defied political pressure from hawks in Congress and the military to provide lethal assistance to the Ukrainian government, fearing that doing so would increase the bloodshed and provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with the justification for deeper incursions into the country.

Breedlove, during briefings to Congress, notably contradicted the Obama administration regarding the situation in Ukraine, leading to news stories about conflict between the general and Obama.

But the leaked emails provide an even more dramatic picture of the intense back-channel lobbying for the Obama administration to begin a proxy war with Russia in Ukraine.

In a series of messages in 2014, Breedlove sought meetings with former Secretary of State Colin Powell, asking for advice on how to pressure the Obama administration to take a more aggressive posture towards Russia.

“I may be wrong, … but I do not see this WH really ‘engaged’ by working with Europe/NATO. Frankly I think we are a ‘worry,’ … ie a threat to get the nation drug into a conflict,” Breedlove wrote  in an email to Powell, who responded by accepting an invitation to meet and discuss the dilemma. “I seek your counsel on two fronts,” Breedlove continued, “… how to frame this opportunity in a time where all eyes [sic] on ISIL all the time, … and two,… how to work this personally with the POTUS.”


Breedlove attempted to influence the administration through several channels, emailing academics and retired military officials, including former NATO supreme commander Wesley Clark, for assistance in building his case for supplying military assistance to Ukrainian forces battling Russian-backed separatists.

“I think POTUS sees us as a threat that must be minimized, … ie do not get me into a war????” Breedlove wrote in an email to Harlan Ullman, senior adviser to the Atlantic Council, describing his ongoing attempt get Powell to help him influence Obama.

“Given Obama’s instruction to you not to start a war, this may be a tough sell,” Ullman replied  a few months later, in another string of emails about Breedlove’s effort to “leverage, cajole, convince or coerce the US to react” to Russia.

Breedlove did not respond to a request for comment. He stepped down from his NATO leadership position in May and retired from service on Friday, July 1. Breedlove was  a four star Air Force general and served as the 17th Supreme Allied Commander of NATO forces in Europe starting on May 10, 2013.

Phillip Karber, an academic who corresponded regularly with Breedlove —  providing him with advice and intelligence on the Ukrainian crisis —  verified the authenticity of several of the emails in the leaked cache. He also told The Intercept that Breedlove confirmed to him that the general’s Gmail account was hacked, and that the incident had been reported to the government.

“The last conversation I had about it with General Breedlove, he said, ‘Yeah, I’ve been hacked several times,'” said Karber. He added that he noticed at least one of his personal emails appearing online from the leak before we had contacted him. “I turned this over to the U.S. government and asked them to investigate. No one has given me any answer.”

“I have no idea whose account was leaked or hacked,” said Powell, when reached for comment about the emails. Powell said he had no comment about the discussions regarding Obama’s response to the conflict in Ukraine.

In the European press, Breedlove has been portrayed as a hawkish figure known for leaning on allied nations to ditch diplomacy and to adopt a more confrontational role again Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine. Breedlove, testifying before Congress earlier in February of this year, called Russia “a long-term existential threat to the United States and to our European allies.”

Der Spiegel reported that Breedlove “stunned” German leaders with a surprise announcement in 2015 by claiming that pro-Russian separatists had “upped the ante” in eastern Ukraine with “well over a thousand combat vehicles, Russian combat forces, some of the most sophisticated air defense, battalions of artillery” sent to Donbass, a center of the conflict.

Breedlove’s numbers were “significantly higher” than the figures known to NATO intelligence agencies, and seemed exaggerated to German officials. The announcement appeared to be a provocation designed to disrupt mediation efforts led by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In previous instances, German officials believed Breedlove overestimated Russian forces along the border with Ukraine by as much as 20,000 troops, and found that the general had falsely claimed that several Russian military assets near the Ukrainian border were part of a special build-up in preparation for a large-scale invasion of the country. In fact, much of the Russian military equipment identified by Breedlove, the Germans said, had been stored there well before the revolution in Ukraine.

The emails, however, depict a desperate search by Breedlove to build his case for escalating the conflict, contacting colleagues and friends for intelligence to illustrate the Russian threat. Karber, who visited Ukrainian politicians and officials in Kiev on several occasions, sent frequent messages to Breedlove — “per your request,” he noted — regarding information he had received about separatist military forces and Russian troop movements. In several updates, Breedlove received military data sourced from Twitter and social media.

Karber, the president of the Potomac Foundation, became the center of a related scandal last year when it was discovered that he had facilitated a meeting during which images of purported Russian forces in Ukraine were distributed to the office of Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and were published by a neoconservative blog. The pictures turned out to be a deception; one supposed picture of Russian tanks in Ukraine was in fact an old photograph of Russian tanks in Ossetia during the war with Georgia.

Breedlove stayed in close contact with Karber and other officials who shared his views on the Ukrainian conflict.

“Phil, can’t we get a statement to counteract the Russians on use of force? what can I do to help? If the Ukrainians lose control of the narrative, the Russians will see it as an open door,” wrote retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who forwarded on his messages with Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. He also passed along concerns from the Bulgarian president that Bulgaria might be Russia’s next target.

In other messages, Clark relayed specific requests for the types of military aide desired by Ukrainian officials. In addition to radar systems and other forms of military equipment, Clark recommended that Breedlove “encourage Ukraine to hire some first rate pr firms and crisis communications firms in US and Europe.” He added, “They need the right tools to engage in information warfare.”

Ukraine did hire several D.C. lobbying and communication firms to influence policymakers. In June 2015, the government signed a deal with APCO Worldwide, an influential firm with ties to senior Democratic and Republican officials.

In an email in February 2015, Karber told Breedlove that, “Pakistan has, under the table, offered Ukraine 500 TOW-II launchers (man-portable version) and 8,000 TOW-II missiles,” adding that deliveries of the anti-tank weapons could begin by the end of the month. “However,” Karber wrote, “Pakistan will not make these deliveries without US approval; moreover they will not even request that approval unless they have informal assurance that it would be approved.”

Karber told the Intercept that the Pakistani arms deal never materialized.

Breedlove was most recently in the news explaining that he now thinks we need to talk to the Russian government to resolve the conflict in Ukraine. “I think we need to begin to have meaningful dialogue,” he said last week, while reiterating his views on the need for a strong NATO to militarily match Russia. “Russia does understand power, and strength, and unity,” he said.

The emails were released by DC Leaks, a database run by self-described “hacktivists” who are collecting the communications of elite stakeholders such as political parties, major politicians, political campaigns, and the military. The website currently has documents revealing some internal communications of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and George Soros’s Open Society Foundation, among others.

Top photo: General Philip Breedlove.

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The post Hacked Emails Reveal NATO General Plotting Against Obama on Russia Policy appeared first on The Intercept.

You Can Now Browse Through 427 Millon Stolen MySpace Passwords

Slashdot -

Stan Schroeder, writing for Mashable:An anonymous hacker managed to obtain an enormous number of user credentials in June 2013 from fallen social networking giant MySpace -- some 427 million passwords, belonging to approx. 360 million users. In May 2016, a person started selling that database of passwords on the dark web. Now, the entire database is available online for free. Thomas White, security researcher also known by the moniker "Cthulhu," put the database up for download as a torrent file on his website, here. "The following contains the alleged data breach from Myspace dating back a few years. As always, I do not provide any guarantees with the file and I leave it down to you to use responsibly and for a productive purpose," he wrote. The file is 14.2 GB in size; downloading it might take some time. It is password-protected, but White made the password available on Twitter and his site.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Meizu MX6 Ubuntu Edition coming soon (leaks)

Liliputing -

Chinese device maker Meizu offers a range of Android smartphones with decent specs and reasonably low prices. Meizu is also one of the few companies producing phones that come with Ubuntu software as an alternative to Android.

The Meizu Pro 5 Ubuntu Edition was the most powerful Ubuntu phone to date when it launched earlier this year, and a recent software update transformed it into the first Ubuntu phone that you could also use as a desktop computer.

Continue reading Meizu MX6 Ubuntu Edition coming soon (leaks) at Liliputing.

British Conservatives in Chaos Over Brexit, but Labour Party’s in No Position to Pounce

The Intercept -

Until Thursday, the political wrangling in Britain over how, or whether, to withdraw from the European Union — a move supported by a narrow majority of the voters in last week’s referendum, but opposed by 75 percent of the members of Parliament elected just last year — seemed likely to trigger a new general election.

Although the ruling Conservative Party is not required to call an election until 2020, most political observers expected Prime Minister David Cameron to be replaced by the leader of the campaign for a British exit from the EU, Boris Johnson, who would then want a fresh mandate from the public.

That was the thinking, anyway, until an extraordinary sequence of events unfolded, starting with an announcement from Michael Gove, the Leave campaign’s ideologue, who was expected to run Johnson’s campaign to become the new leader of the Conservatives, and hence prime minister. Gove, the justice secretary, released a statement on Thursday saying that he did not think Johnson, his ally in the Leave campaign, was up for the job of running the country, and he wanted to be prime minister himself.

If you don't have time for the full 'Gove and Boris' story, basically Gove is the penguin on the right pic.twitter.com/beUDuA7hUB

— Gaby Hinsliff (@gabyhinsliff) June 30, 2016

Gove’s surprise move undermined Johnson’s chances of winning the internal party vote to be leader, but also seemed to make it unlikely that he could succeed either, given how many bitter accusations of betrayal it prompted from fellow Conservatives.

Fury among some Boris backers. 'I'd rather vote for Pol Pot than Gove' says one new May supporter. 'Treachery' says another.

— Ben Wright (@BBCBenWright) June 30, 2016

Tory MP: Gove is f@cked. It was the most monumentally stupid thing to do. From now onwards disloyalty will be simply called 'Doing a Gove'

— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) June 30, 2016

With the anti-EU faction of his party suddenly split, and rumors that his candidacy was opposed by the men who run Britain’s most influential right-wing tabloids, Rupert Murdoch and Paul Dacre, Johnson turned up late for the speech in which he was expected to announce his leadership bid and revealed that he would not take part in the race.

"That person cannot be me," @BorisJohnson rules himself out of #Toryleadership race https://t.co/K6pbNn362q https://t.co/fhkLY57nmh

— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) June 30, 2016

The lobby's reaction as expressed by @SamCoatesTimes pic.twitter.com/iOjhy1lhfa

— Andrew Alexander (@andrew_alex) June 30, 2016

Important: at Times biz summit yesterday @rupertmurdoch said he had doubts about @BorisJohnson & wished Gove would run

— Robert Peston (@Peston) June 30, 2016

On Monday @rupertmurdoch said Gove "most principled and most able” candidate & "could run a fine government”. Three days later he's running

— Nick Robinson (@bbcnickrobinson) June 30, 2016

Given that it was widely believed that Johnson had only joined the Leave campaign as a way to increase his popularity and make it more likely that he could become prime minister, this shocking turn of events earned him widespread derision online from Britons who see departure from the EU as a disaster for the country.

@BorisJohnson You spineless c$&t You lead this ludicrous campaign to leave EU. Win, and now fuc& off to let someone else clear up your mess.

— Ewan McGregor (@mcgregor_ewan) June 30, 2016

#Boris: I want a pony I want a pony I want a pony
UK: You know you'd have to muck out the stable, right?
Boris: I don't want a pony#Brexit

— Shona L Craven (@shonacraven) June 30, 2016

Boris Johnson rules himself out. What, then, was the last four months of energetic disingenuousness about?To the dustbin of history with you

— John Harris (@johnharris1969) June 30, 2016

So Boris smashed up the whole place for nothing. For nothing.

— Philip Collins (@PCollinsTimes) June 30, 2016

By Friday morning, Johnson was being heckled on the street, accused of plunging the country into chaos for his own advancement and then dropping out of the contest to be in charge of cleaning up the mess.

Boris Johnson is doorstepped and questioned about Michael Gove and the future of Britain https://t.co/gu0JwzGtLc

— Sky News (@SkyNews) July 1, 2016

'You'll be to blame Boris mate': @BorisJohnson is heckled by a teenage Remain supporter #EURefhttps://t.co/TZfEkOXVHL

— ITV News (@itvnews) June 22, 2016

This somewhat farcical series of events was made all the more absurd by how strenuously Gove had previously denied having any ambition to be prime minister in interviews that instantly resurfaced on social networks.

"I'm not equipped" to be PM, "I don't want to be" PM, Michael Gove tells #wato in 2012 https://t.co/slOCKdj5NP https://t.co/DlUD3OpAyn

— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) June 30, 2016

"I will sign a piece of parchment in my own blood…. I don’t want to be PM” #Gove


— Les Hinton (@leshinton) June 30, 2016

Under normal circumstances, this kind of disarray inside the Conservative Party — with the resignation of a prime minister and a deep divide between the factions opposed to and in favor of EU membership — should present an opportunity for the opposition Labour Party. That party, however, has been busy with a civil war of its own.

In the aftermath of the referendum, and driven partly by speculation that there might be an election soon, about 80 percent of the party’s members of Parliament have called for their leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to step down. Corbyn, who was accused of being lukewarm about the EU, has refused — pointing out that he was chosen not by his fellow MPs, but by a clear majority of the party’s members and paying supporters in a direct election held just 10 months ago.

A poll of Labour members released on Thursday suggested that he would easily win a new vote.

Poll just now shows that against named opponents Corbyn still leads comfortably pic.twitter.com/58b9rhCKlI

— Matthijs Krul (@McCaineNL) June 30, 2016

The attempt to topple Corbyn, whose left-wing politics are popular with young voters and trade unions but frighten pro-business centrists, has led to bitter recriminations and public feuding. That, in turn, has drawn attention away from the fact that the Conservative government has divided the country over the EU, plunging the economy into uncertainty and fostering anti-immigrant hysteria — all without any apparent plan for how to manage the transition out of the EU.

That infighting continued on Thursday, as Labour released a report on confronting anti-Semitism in its ranks. News coverage of the report, however, was devoted not to its recommendations but to the outraged reaction from some members of the party to remarks by Corbyn that they called anti-Semitic. “Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu government,” Corbyn said, “than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organizations.”

That comment was widely misreported as Corbyn comparing Israel to “the Islamic State,” which he denied. But when video of his statement on the report was posted on his own Twitter account later, that part of his remarks was omitted.

The Shami Chakrabarti Inquiry's report into antisemitism and all forms of racism was published yesterdayhttps://t.co/ytmmD2328w

— Jeremy Corbyn MP (@jeremycorbyn) July 1, 2016

A second spat between Labour members also marred the same news conference. That confrontation began when Marc Wadsworth, a black Labour activist who supports Corbyn, distributed a press release that accused those plotting against the leader of cooperating with the “right-wing, corporate media” to smear him. Wadsworth then complained of what he called an example of such collusion at the news conference, saying that a reporter for The Telegraph, Kate McCann, had handed a copy of his statement to a Labour MP, Ruth Smeeth.

Smeeth, who is Jewish, was outraged by the accusation and stormed out of the event. In a statement she released later, Smeeth said that Wadsworth had “used traditional anti-Semitic slurs to attack me for being part of a ‘media conspiracy.’” She added that it was “beyond belief that someone could come to the launch of a report on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and espouse such vile conspiracy theories about Jewish people, which were ironically highlighted as such in Ms. Chakrabarti’s report, while the leader of my own party stood by and did absolutely nothing.”

Wadsworth wrote later that he “had no idea that Smeeth was Jewish,” had not intended to endorse any conspiracy theory about Jewish control of the media, and had “a life-long record of fighting against racism and anti-Semitism.”

The leadership of the Labour Party is perhaps a sideshow, however, distracting attention from the worrying implications of the fact that voters in many of its traditional strongholds supported British withdrawal from the EU. Although just 10 of Labour’s 229 MPs supported the Leave campaign, one study suggested that majorities in 70 percent of the areas represented by Labour in Parliament voted for withdrawal.

Writing in The Guardian this week, John Harris argued that the referendum revealed signs of “a longstanding and possibly terminal malaise” for Labour, from which the party might never recover.

As with the centre-left parties across Europe in the same predicament, Labour is a 20th-century party adrift in a new reality. Its social foundations — the unions, heavy industry, the nonconformist church, a deference to the big state that has long evaporated — are either in deep retreat or have vanished completely. Its name embodies an attachment to the supposed glories of work that no longer chimes with insecure employment and insurgent automation.

Given that level of disarray, it appears unlikely that Labour will be able to capitalize on the Conservative split over leaving the EU anytime soon. An early general election is also looking less likely, as the Conservative leadership contest coalesces.

While several Conservatives have put themselves forward to compete with Gove in the party’s internal contest, which will conclude in early September, the clear frontrunner for the job is now Home Secretary Theresa May, even though she supported the campaign for Britain to remain in the EU. As a senior figure in the government elected last year, May made it clear in a speech announcing her candidacy that she would not feel the need to call a new election before 2020.

Corbyn gets it in neck for being lukewarm about Remain. Yet for Theresa May being lukewarm about Remain is now a great virtue. I'm puzzled

— Michael Crick (@MichaelLCrick) June 30, 2016

In her declaration, May pledged to respect the referendum result, saying, “Brexit means Brexit: the campaign was fought, the vote was held, turnout was high and the public gave their verdict.”

"Brexit means Brexit," says Theresa May at Tory leadership campaign launch, "there must be no attempts to remain" https://t.co/h235R1RkOA

— Sky News (@SkyNews) June 30, 2016

She did not, however, specify what sort of arrangement Britain would seek with the remaining 27 members of the union, although it is widely expected to be something like membership of the European Economic Area, along with countries like Norway, that are not in the EU but can trade freely with the bloc in exchange for paying dues and agreeing to allow citizens from EU nations to live and work freely in their country.

May also said that Britain would not give formal notification of its departure from the EU, triggering a two-year time limit on negotiations over a new trade deal, until some unspecified time next year.

Although May publicly opposed leaving the EU before the referendum, she has previously worked to restrict immigration into Britain, which many voters said was their main objection to membership in the economic bloc.

Immigration. Patriotism. Muslims. People explain why they voted #Leave https://t.co/M2JBQEbEAJ

— Ciaran Jenkins (@C4Ciaran) June 24, 2016

As Rebecca Glover observed in The Independent, May is far from a champion of progressive values, as her harsh rhetoric on asylum seekers and economic migrants at last year’s Conservative Party conference made plain.

“There are people who need our help, and there are people who are abusing our good will,” May said then. “When immigration is too high, when the pace of change is too fast, it’s impossible to build a cohesive society. It’s difficult for schools and hospitals and core infrastructure like housing and transport to cope, and we know that for people in low-paid jobs, wages are forced down even further while some people are forced out of work altogether.”

Theresa May believes the free movement of people makes it "impossible to build a cohesive society." Read into that, and let it sink in.

— Miriam Brett (@MiriamBrett) June 30, 2016

Statements like those, and a promise to restrict immigration in any new deal with the EU, might reassure voters who support the formal British exit, but troubled many of those on the left of the political spectrum who see May as partly to blame for the increasing anxiety over immigration.

Can people on the left stop saying May is the best Tory candidate, she literally made a van drive round London telling immigrants to go home

— Charlotte L. Riley (@lottelydia) June 30, 2016

Never forget Theresa May's "Go Home" vans. She helped stoke the violent racism on our streets. pic.twitter.com/dT8Ju18pTb

— Chris Coltrane (@chris_coltrane) June 30, 2016

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The post British Conservatives in Chaos Over Brexit, but Labour Party’s in No Position to Pounce appeared first on The Intercept.

Bitcoin Core qt: transaction fee too small

Bitcoin feeds -

I accidentally made a transaction with only 2 cents in fees. As expected the transaction is stuck with 0 confirmations.

I have since turned off Core so that it stops trying to transmit this transaction. Will this suffice for having this transaction drop off the queue and my Bitcoins returned back to my wallet?

If not, what is the simplest and safest means of rectifying this issue so that I can resend my Bitcoins with a higher fee?

submitted by /u/IllusionDestroyer666
[link] [comments]

FINTECH: 6 Elite Business Schools Exploring Blockchain And Bitcoin

Bitcoin feeds -

businessbecause.com / Seb Murray / 30th June 2016 23:55:00 GMT

MBA programs are trying to decode the complex digital ledger

2016 has been the year of the blockchain. The revolutionary potential of bitcoin\'s underlying technology is the sexist topic in finance. So it should be no great shock that business schools are trying to decode [...]

The post FINTECH: 6 Elite Business Schools Exploring Blockchain And Bitcoin appeared first on The Bitcoin Channel.


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