Daily Bread for 5.24.18

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of eighty-five.  Sunrise is 5:23 AM and sunset 8:20 PM, for 14h 57m 05s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 75.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the five hundred fifty-ninth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1775, John Hancock is unanimously elected President of the Continental Congress.

Recommended for reading in full —

  Denise Clifton contends Russia’s Campaign to Help Trump Win Was Just the Start (“And the next attack on US elections, warns former FBI agent Clint Watts, could come from within”):

Former FBI special agent Clint Watts was tracking ISIS terrorists and their propaganda on Twitter in 2014 when he first encountered a different kind of troll. These accounts weren’t trying to recruit fighters for jihad. They were promoting an “Alaska Back to Russia” petition on, pushing pro-Kremlin foreign policy views, and drumming up support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Watching this troll army inundate social media into 2015 and 2016—including rising attacks on Hillary Clinton and promotion of Donald Trump for president—Watts realized a new information war was underway. As he tracked false news stories from Russian state media that were repeated by the Trump campaign, he was surprised to see that Kremlin-linked disinformation was sometimes even driving the campaign’s own narrative. Two days before Election Day, Watts and his fellow cybersecurity analysts JM Berger and Andrew Weisburd warned that the Kremlin wasn’t just backing Trump but was seeking “to produce a divided electorate and a president with no clear mandate to govern. The ultimate objective is to diminish and tarnish American democracy.”

In the aftermath, as lawmakers struggled to contend with Russia’s role, the Senate Intelligence Committee relied on Watts’ expertise to help it understand the attack across social media networks. In his new book, Messing With the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians, and Fake News, Watts details how Americans found themselves in a presidential election that was swirling with fake accounts and Kremlin propaganda. His work with Berger and Weisburd has also aided the Alliance for Securing Democracy’s Hamilton 68 Dashboard, which tracks a network of hundreds of Twitter accounts pushing Kremlin propaganda to this day. Watts spoke to Mother Jones recently about Putin’s backing of Trump in 2016, Twitter’s bot problems, and other US tech giants’ role in the morass. And he offered a roadmap for navigating the even more sophisticated influence campaigns that may be looming for future elections—and that could originate within the US political system itself [see full article for interview with Watts].

Andrew Desiderio and Kevin Poulsen report Exclusive: U.S. Government Can’t Get Controversial Kaspersky Lab Software Off Its Networks (“The law says American agencies must eliminate the use of Kaspersky Lab software by October. U.S. officials say that’s impossible—it’s embedded too deep in our infrastructure”):

Federal agencies are so far unable to comply with a law banning Kaspersky Lab software from U.S. government networks by October, The Daily Beast has learned. Multiple divisions of the U.S. government are confronting the reality that code written by the Moscow-based security company is embedded deep within American infrastructure, in routers, firewalls, and other hardware—and nobody is certain how to get rid of it.

“It’s messy, and it’s going to take way longer than a year,” said one U.S. official. “Congress didn’t give anyone money to replace these devices, and the budget had no wiggle-room to begin with.”

“On May 8, DHS chief Kirstjen Nielsen promised to provide senators with data on the Kaspersky purge ‘later today.’ Two weeks later: nothing.”

Peter Baker reports Trump Team’s Mueller Strategy: Limit the Investigation and Attack the Investigators:

“This is an effort by the president to distract from his legal troubles and throw as much mud into the air as he can,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. “But it’s doing enormous damage to the Justice Department. If they think they can placate him, they’ll probably find that doesn’t work. That doesn’t placate a bully.”

James R. Clapper Jr., who was the director of national intelligence under President Barack Obama, said that Mr. Trump is trying to distort standard investigatory practices to insinuate wrongdoing.

“I didn’t know about this informant,” said Mr. Clapper, whose memoir, “Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From a Life in Intelligence,” will be published Tuesday. “No one in the White House knew. Certainly the president didn’t know. This is a routine thing that goes on all the time. We’re making a huge mountain out of a molehill. The purpose was to understand what the Russians were doing.”

Paul Wood reports Trump lawyer ‘paid by Ukraine’ to arrange White House talks:

Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, received a secret payment of at least $400,000 (£300,000) to fix talks between the Ukrainian president and President Trump, according to sources in Kiev close to those involved.

The payment was arranged by intermediaries acting for Ukraine’s leader, Petro Poroshenko, the sources said, though Mr Cohen was not registered as a representative of Ukraine as required by US law.

Mr Cohen denies the allegation.

The meeting at the White House was last June. Shortly after the Ukrainian president returned home, his country’s anti-corruption agency stopped its investigation into Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort.

A high-ranking Ukrainian intelligence officer in Mr Poroshenko’s administration described what happened before the visit to the White House.

  Here’s The Most Decorated Dog of WWI:

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