Cambridge Analytica: links to Moscow oil firm and St Petersburg university | News | The Guardian

Surprise! Russian-born Cambridge professor Aleksandr Kogan has ties to St. Petersburg and did work for the Russian oil firm Lukoil (if not others). He claims he’s just a scapegoat but he certainly is looking more and more like a key player in Russian election meddling.

I wonder how North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis feels about getting elected with potentially Russian help?

Aleksandr Kogan, the Cambridge University academic who orchestrated the harvesting of Facebook data, had previously unreported ties to a Russian university, including a teaching position and grants for research into the social media network, the Observer has discovered. Cambridge Analytica, the data firm he worked with – which funded the project to turn tens of millions of Facebook profiles into a unique political weapon – also attracted interest from a key Russian firm with links to the Kremlin.Energy firm Lukoil, which is now on the US sanctions list and has been used as a vehicle of government influence, saw a presentation on the firm’s work in 2014. It began with a focus on voter suppression in Nigeria, and Cambridge Analytica also discussed “micro-targeting” individuals on social media during elections.The revelations come at a time of intense US scrutiny of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, with 13 Russians criminally charged last month with interfering to help Donald Trump.

In Britain, concerns about Russian propaganda have been mounting, with the prime minister, Theresa May, recently attacking Russia for spreading fake news, accusing Moscow of attempts to “weaponise information” and influence polls.

Lukoil, Russia’s second-largest oil company, discussed with Cambridge Analytica the data company’s powerful social media marketing system, which was already being deployed for Republican Ted Cruz in the US presidential primaries and was later used to back Brexit and Trump.

Source: Cambridge Analytica: links to Moscow oil firm and St Petersburg university | News | The Guardian

Russian spy: This is how nerve agent Novichok destroys your mind and body, even if you survive | The Independent

If Sergei and Yulia Skripal survive being poisoned by Novichok nerve agent, they may be left suffering illnesses that ruin their lives – which may be the point of the attack, security experts have warned.

The case of a Russian military scientist accidentally exposed to Novichok appears to show that even surviving the effects of the supertoxic nerve agent is horrific.

Andrei Zheleznyakov was said to have been injected with an antidote almost immediately, but a friend said he still went from being a jovial, creative man to suffering “chronic weakness, toxic hepatitis, epilepsy, severe depression and an inability to concentrate”, before dying five years later.

Source: Russian spy: This is how nerve agent Novichok destroys your mind and body, even if you survive | The Independent

Soviet Scientist Who Developed Novichok Poison Used on Sergei Skripal: ‘I’m Sorry’

The person who understands the effects of novichoks best is Vil Mirzayanov, a scientist and later head of Foreign Technical Counterintelligence at the State Scientific Research Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology (GosNIIOKhT) in Moscow in the 1970s and 1980s, which allegedly produced the shadowy class of binary nerve agents known as the “novichoks” (newcomers). And he has a message for Skripal and his daughter: my bad.

“I’d tell him [Skripal] that I’m very sorry that I participated in the development of these weapons,” Mirzayanov told The Daily Beast.

GosNIIOKhT scientists developed the agents under a program codename “Folio” beginning in the 1980s. Mirzayanov spoke out about the covert program as the Soviet Union fell, earning him a prison term at home before he escaped to exile in the United States.

During the Cold War, the idea that a novichok agent would be used in a covert assassination seemed alien to Mirzayanov and his fellow scientists. The weapons, developed in intense secrecy by Soviet scientists, were originally designed for use in bombs and shells on a battlefield rather than a cloak-and-dagger assassination in a suburb in southern England.

“I couldn’t imagine. No one could imagine. It’s outrageous. We were convinced at the time that we were developing these weapons and testing others for the protection of the country and for defense,” Mirzayanov said. “It was not our goal. None of the scientists supposed that it would be used with terrorist goals. It was a military thing. It was a weapon for mass killing.”

Source: Soviet Scientist Who Developed Novichok Poison Used on Sergei Skripal: ‘I’m Sorry’

American General In Syria Confirms US Forces Killed Hundreds Of Russians In Massive Battle – The Drive

Remember that rumor of a Russian attack on U.S. forces in Syria? Apparently it’s more than a rumor.

I’m not sure what Putin was thinking here. Did he think he could get away with it?

A senior U.S. general appears to have confirmed that hundreds of Russians fought – and died – in a major battle against American forces and their local counterparts in Syria. More importantly, U.S. Army Brigadier General Jonathan Braga, director of operations for the main U.S. military task force in charge of operations in Iraq and Syria, said he feared the situation could have escalated into an all-out conflict with Russia, something we at The War Zone have warned repeatedly is becoming a worryingly realistic possibility.

Braga gave the surprisingly candid account of what had happened to NBC’s Richard Engel, who traveled with the general to visit the exact site of the incident in Syria and to see what the U.S. military was doing to improve its defensive posture.

Source: American General In Syria Confirms US Forces Killed Hundreds Of Russians In Massive Battle – The Drive

Are these SpaceX’s Starlink satellites?

Looks like I may have found the orbital elements (TLEs) of SpaceX’s Starlink Internet satellites. I noticed on SatView’s site that three objects entered orbit on 22 February, one of which was SpaceX’s PAZ satellite. PAZ was the primary payload on SpaceX’s most recent Falcon 9 flight and the Starlink birds were the secondaries.

Starlink orbits!

Following Satview’s links takes you to the real-time tracking of 43616U and 43617U (International Designators 2018-020A & 2018-020B), two satellites that are almost certainly Starlink’s TinTin A & B (or Microsat 2A & 2B). They show up in NORAD’s catalog as the bland descriptions of “Object B” and “Object C” and were launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on the same day as PAZ. From CelesTrak:

So now I know both what to look for and where and when to look for it. Now I need to acquire the gear to acquire the signals, which might be the biggest stumbling block of all. Well, aside from actually decoding any signals I happen to get.

Yes, folks, this actually is rocket science.

Raleigh charities signed off on Simple Recycling deal

I’m still poking through all the meeting notes, but I thought it notable that the local Salvation Army signed off on the deal when it was presented to Raleigh City Council at its 3 January 2017 meeting. From Council minutes: [PDF]

Lisa Rivers, Salvation Army Advisory Board, told about herself, work she has done and stated she and the Salvation Army Advisory Board are huge advocates of the proposed program. They feel it would be cost efficient, provide positive environmental impacts, etc. Ms. Rivers pointed out she is on the committee which looks for/receives donations and feels the proposed program will actually increase the donations many nonprofits receive. She stated most people who donate do not consider their donations “trash.” She feels the proposed program is a great opportunity for all and feels it will create a lot of awareness related to needs, donations, be a great thing, and
be much more effective and provide a return for all. It is a great opportunity and will provide a great partnership.

Continue reading

I-Team Exclusive: Sen. Reid discusses UFO study | LasVegasNow

Former Senator Harry Reid discusses his Pentagon UFO study project.

Did anyone notice what just happened here?

1. The U.S. Government has confirmed it has been studying UFOs.
2. This study has been quietly supported at some of the highest levels of government.
3. A video of a compelling UFO encounter has just been officially released by the U.S. Government.
4. One of the highest ranking former members of Congress didn’t run away from these events but proudly claimed them.
5. In spite of all this, the world didn’t end. People didn’t run for the hills. Mostly everyone shrugged.

These are all remarkable events and unthinkable even a few years ago. If all the people who made this happen escape without being publicly crucified we may see more of these disclosures.

Is society becoming ready to accept the truth of other life in the universe?

The existence of the UFO study was first reported by the I-Team back in October. That’s when a high-ranking intelligence officer in charge of the program quit to take a job with a private company.

Over the weekend, news of Harry Reid’s role in the study surfaced in news reports. The senator gave his only on camera interview to the I-Team’s George Knapp.

Harry Reid’s interest in UFOs dates back to 1989 because that is when George Knapp first had conversations with him on the topic.

In the years since, Reid quietly collected more information, met with scientists, intelligence officials, and other experts, and finally authorized a study that was carried out by a company created by a Las Vegas billionaire.

Since the story broke on Saturday, Reid has been bombarded with media requests, but he gave his only on camera interview to the I-Team.

The release this weekend of videos recorded by military pilots is unusual because, officially, the U.S. government stopped collecting information about UFOs back in 1969, when the Air Force canceled Project Blue Book. But in the decades since, pilots and others continued to encounter technology that is beyond anything known on earth.

Source: I-Team Exclusive: Sen. Reid discusses UFO study | LasVegasNow