Beyond Watergate

Our political system is under attack by a foreign nation.

Revelations that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) server was hacked by Russians known to be working for state intelligence is only the tip of the iceberg. Like the break-in at the Watergate offices of the DNC on 17 June 1972, it appears to be part of a coordinated effort to influence the election. Unlike Watergate, it is being run by Putin’s Russia – a vast “kleptocracy” of mafia known as the “Bratva” (brotherhood) that routinely conducts similar operations around the world.

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A Can’t Lose War He Can’t Fight

Russian troops have invaded Ukraine, this is not in question. Whether or not they have the official sanction of Russia itself or are merely “on vacation” fighting for a good cause is up to the reader to decide. The main contention so far is what exactly Putin is doing by playing a very silly game by trying to invade without invading, telling the world a fairly transparent fairy tale that no one believes

I think that the key question has to lie in Putin’s head, which is to say how he is responding to the forces on him. That requires a lot of speculation in the absence of any good information. Good reporters (and bloggers) don’t go deep into speculation, so if you don’t want to read this I’ll understand. But it seems that Putin is eyeballs deep into a war he can’t lose but also can’t fight.

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The Small Stories Inside

There is a lot happening in the world today, and so much of it is just plain bad. Gaza, Ukraine, West African Ebola – none of this is good news. But there are some smaller stories that are bubbling up that are worth taking a look at. Some of them are from territory we’ve covered before. But I’d hate to have this get lost in the shuffle. Welcome to a Barataria roundup of some smaller stories that may be missed in the big (bad) news of the day.  They are the little stories stuck inside the big ones, trapped like Matryoshka nesting dolls.
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Credit Where It’s Due

Part of the problem with the news today is that nearly everything in the world is interconnected. Stories have a tendency to bleed into each other for a variety of reasons, such as their equal usefulness as political tools or because the actors are involved in many different things at once. A good conspiracy theorist can link two stories together in ways that they probably shouldn’t be.

This may be one of those moments. Caveat Lector, let the reader beware.

There is little doubt that the theft of credit cards from Target last Winter could be traced to Ukraine – and, in so doing, the network of organized crime we might call the “Russian Mafia”. It is more accurate to refer to them by their own name for themselves, Bratva (Ukrainian for “Brotherhood”) because they are an international syndicate based in Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine and operating nearly everywhere.

An estimate of their take from credit card fraud puts into perspective the scale of the problem in Ukraine,  We can estimate the resources they have as well as the stake they are fighting for as they resist the introduction of order and the rule of law. It also points to the US role in Ukraine – which is to say without sending in troops.

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US, Get Over Yourselves!

Imagine you are a young woman walking down a street in the US when a group of young men starts hooting and whistling at you.  It’s probably annoying, even infuriating, but you keep walking and ignore them.  Now imagine the same thing happening on a street in Kiev or Odessa.  You should probably run for your life because you may have just become a target to be kidnapped and sold as a sex slave in a distant land.

That is the reality faced every day in Ukraine, where a repudiation of the descent into a mafia state is likely the main issue at the heart of the recent rebellion and interference by neighboring Russia.  But you’d never know that reading the mainstream media here in the US.  This important story has been largely ignored because everything, everywhere in the world is reported as if it is about the US somehow – no matter how ridiculous this perspective is.

Our inability to simply get over ourselves is the main reason our press is so terrible, not some liberal/conservative bias.  It is well demonstrated by the complete miss on this important story shaping the world today.

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