Russia’s Information War on the West

A Twitter thread by Carole Cadwalladr (@carolecadwalla) from 27 February, 2022. A critical analysis of what is still going on, and why it matters. See the original here.

Ok. Deep breath.

I think we may look back on this as the first Great Information War. Except we’re already 8 years in.

The first Great Information War began in 2014. The invasion of Ukraine is the latest front. And the idea it doesn’t already involve us is fiction, a lie.

It was Putin’s fury at the removal of President Yankovych in Feb 2014 that kicked everything off. Information operations were first crucial step in invasion of Crimea & Donbass. A deliberate attempt to warp reality to confuse both Ukrainians & the world.

This was not new. The Soviets had practiced “dezinformatsiya” for years. But what was new in 2014 was technology. Social media. It was a transformative moment. “Hybrid warfare” on steroids: a golden Willy Wonka ticket to manipulate hearts & minds. Almost completely invisibly.

But it wasn’t just Ukraine. We now know Russia began another offensive in Feb 2014. Against the West. Specifically, but not exclusively, America. How do we know this? Because the FBI conducted a forensic, multi-year investigation. That almost no-one paid any attention to.

The Mueller Report. You’ve heard of it. But probably as a headline about how it didn’t “prove” collusion between the Kremlin & Trump campaign. We can come back to that. What it did prove – BEYOND ANY DOUBT – was that Russia attacked 2016 US election through multiple routes.

And just one of the ways Russia attacked 2016 US election was via the tech platforms. Especially: Facebook. This was a military technique, it pioneered in Ukraine in 2014. By 2016, it refined, iterated & supersized these. Most brilliantly of all, they were entirely invisible

And it wasn’t just Russia. Companies such as Cambridge Analytica. Political operatives such as Manafort. Amoral opportunists such as Cummings. They learned how to exploit a platform that was totally open – anyone could do so. And totally closed – no-one could see how.

But also it was Russia. That’s what the Mueller Report proves. And, again, Ukraine is at centre of it all.(Read @profshaw’s thread here. Note walk-on role for Arron Banks’s business partner & his friend the Russian spy)

In 2016, we knew none of this. Russia & other bad actors acted with impunity &, in some cases alignment. But now, through the sheer bloody hard work of academics, journalists & FBI, we do know.

But it was complex, messy, difficult. So… We brushed it all under the carpet

We failed to acknowledge Russia had staged a military attack on the West. We called it “meddling”. We used words like “interference”. It wasn’t. It was warfare. We’ve been under military attack for eight years now.

This failure is at the heart of what is happening now in Ukraine. Because the first offensive in the Great Information War was from 2014-2022. And Putin won.

And he won by convincing us it wasn’t even a war.

We fell for it. We said it was “just ads” that “don’t work anyhow”. And “a bot didn’t tell me to vote”. Facebook is still an open threat surface. Exploited by authoritarians from Philippines to India to Brazil to Hungary. It’s maybe not a world war. But the world is at war.

Meanwhile, in Britain, we’re a captured state. In America, the institutions of govt worked. Even in spite of Trump. The authorities investigated. Individuals were indicted, charged, jailed. The hostile actions of a foreign state examined & unpicked.

(Not that it mattered.) The US media & therefore public failed to understand the real lessons of Mueller Report. And in the UK? We didn’t even bother trying. We allowed Johnson’s govt to sweep 2016 under the carpet. Nigel Farage. Arron Banks. Facebook. Russia. The lot.

But it wasn’t ‘just ads’. It was war. And it’s absolutely crucial that we now understand that Putin’s attack on Ukraine & the West was a JOINT attack on both.  

That began at the exact same time.

Across the exact same platforms.

And this new front, the invasion of Ukraine, is not just about Ukraine. We are part of the plan. We have always been part of the plan. And Ukraine is not just fighting for Ukraine but for the rest of us too.

And maybe that could be why we’ve failed to understand Putin’s strategy in Ukraine? Because it’s not just a strategy in Ukraine. It’s directed at us too. And that’s what makes this such a uniquely perilous moment. Not least, because we still don’t understand we’re at war.

If it helps, the penny dropped for me with Skripal. Planned by the GRU – Russia’s military intelligence. As was the weaponised hack-&-leak of Hillary’s emails. Military doctrine carried out by military officials in  military operations. Just like the one now in Ukraine.

TL;DR – She’s tired.

The story of Arron Banks is intertwined with every single element of the above. That’s for another time. What matters now is Ukraine. And the key to helping it is to understand that Putin isn’t just coming for us next. He already has.

Russia is not our friend. Russia has never been our friend, despite fighting the Nazis together in World War II. I lived through the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis and Civil Defense and Duck and Cover drills, and it’s all Russia.

“We will bury you!” ¹

Putin is still a KGB agent. Never forget this.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


¹ Some have suggested this is a mistranslation of what Nikita Khrushchev said, which was “Мы вас похороним!” While I am not a Russian linguist, based on the feeling that was coming from the Soviet Union at the time, I dispute this. He meant exactly what he said.

United breaks guitars, and beats up paying customers.

We live in a tumultuous world, with a lot going on around us. There’s a lot that we can’t do much about. But I’ve always felt that corporate douchebaggery and abuse of power need to be called out whenever it happens.

According to a video posted at Facebook, and reported on at the Courier Journal, the following events just took place.


  1. United Airlines flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked. (That practice in itself is worthy of a lot of discussion, but it’s standard operating procedure in the airlines and hotel world.)
  2. Passengers were told at the gate that the flight was overbooked and United, offering $400 and a hotel stay, was looking for one volunteer to take another flight to Louisville at 3 p.m. Monday.
  3. Passengers were allowed to board the flight. (Notice: you’ve paid for your ticket, and you have your butt in a seat.)
  4. Passengers were told that four people needed to give up their seats to stand-by United employees that needed to be in Louisville on Monday for a flight. (United feels that deadheading employees are more important than paid passengers.)
  5. Passengers were told that the flight would not take off until the United crew had seats.
  6. The offer was increased to $800, but no one volunteered.
  7. A manager came aboard the plane and said a computer would select four people to be taken off the flight. (“The Reaping.”)
  8. One couple volunteered as tribute and left the plane.
  9. The man in the video was confronted. He became “very upset” and said that he was a doctor who needed to see patients at a hospital in the morning.
  10. The manager told him that security would be called if he did not leave willingly, and the man said he was calling his lawyer.
  11. One security official came and spoke with him, and then another security officer came when he still refused. Then, she said, a third security official came on the plane and threw the passenger against the armrest before dragging him out of the plane.

So here’s an elderly Asian doctor who needs to see his patients in the morning, who has a confirmed, paid ticket on a United Airlines flight, and because UA overbooked and wants their employees to have free seats, three armed thugs come on board and knock the old man out before dragging him, bloodied, off the plane, because he wouldn’t surrender his rights.

Great work, United. This beats breaking guitars six ways from breakfast.

This is what should have happened:

  1. United doesn’t overbook their flights (Not likely, it’s common travel practice.)
  2. United continues to bump the incentive – $1,000, $1,200, and free hotel, etc. etc. – until enough people take the offer. It would have happened quite soon, problem solved.

Here’s what I’m hoping happens:

  1. The physician in question does indeed get hold of a high-powered legal firm and sues the company for enough money to buy the entire European Union, plus Canada.
  2. United’s stock ends up in the Mariana Trench because nobody ever flies with them again.
  3. The three armed thugs (security personnel, cops, whatever) are fired and end up spending the rest of their days sweeping up after horses in Texas rodeos.

Here’s what’s likely to happen:

  1. Some sort of settlement, and the affair quietly fades away.
  2. United continues to abuse passengers because, after all, most of us are very comfortable and there will be a Starbucks to go to at our destination. (Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people continue to protest in Serbia and Ecuador and around the world because they are tired of government corruption.)
  3. “Proper procedure was followed.”

Disclaimer: I wasn’t there. I didn’t see the event. There are always more facts to any story than are being reported. But regardless, this looks really bad at first blush. If United’s corporate leadership were any sort of humans, they’d be filling their britches and entering DEFCON-5 damage control mode, but I sincerely doubt they’ll lose a minutes sleep over the event.

Don’t fly United. This is really sad in a lot of ways, because for the longest time United was the best of the best in airlines in the USA, and I have a long history of flying with them since the 50s.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


A Taxonomy of Trump Tweets – from On the Media.”

On the Media is “WNYC’s weekly investigation into how the media shapes our world view. Veteran journalists Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield give you the tools to survive the media maelstrom.”

A recent segment intriguingly addresses the PEOTUS’ twitter-storm, and how the media should appropriately respond.

As we all know, Donald Trump’s tweets have become a potent force in our new era. On the one hand, a single tweet can cripple opponents, activate supporters, move markets, and subsume the news cycle. On the other, they’re a window into Trump’s wee-hours, unfiltered id. But when his tweets are full of half-truths, distortions, and often bold-faced lies, should journalists treat them as normal presidential utterances, or something else? Cognitive linguist George Lakoff believes that the press must understand how Trump uses language if we’re to responsibly report on his tweets, not just magnify their misinformation. He talks with Brooke about the categories he’s come up with for thinking about Trump tweets.

A summary of the categories:

  1. Preemptive Re-framing – Trump’s tweet stated, “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” This was rated “Pants on Fire” by Politifact, but it effectively re-frames the popular vote in the minds of those who see the tweet, thus distorting the facts in the public arena.
  2. The Diversion Tweet – This kind of tweet is akin to the magician’s misdirectional “nothing up my sleeve.” While you’re busy looking at his or her sleeve to be sure, jiggery-pokery is happening elsewhere. A good example is focusing on Hamilton, as Trump did when he tweeted “The Theater must always be a safe and special place.The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!” In this way, people focus on Hamilton rather than the $25 million settlement in the case of  fraud allegations against Trump University.
  3. The Trial Balloon – Send up something and see how the public reacts, so you’ll know what to do in the future. When Trump tweeted, “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” he watched to see how the public responded to this idea; in this case there was a brief discussion about nuclear policy which quickly faded from the public consciousness.
  4. Deflection – In which you attack the messenger. After being pointedly called out by Meryl Streep for mocking a disabled reporter, Trump attacked the messenger: “Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood, doesn’t know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes. She is a Hillary flunky who lost big. For the 100th time, I never “mocked” a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him “groveling” when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!The video is out there; no matter how much he denies it, Trump’s actions can not be interpreted as anything other than cruel mockery of a man’s afflictions – but attacking Ms. Streep, one of the most accomplished and versatile actresses of this generation, deflect’s the public’s view from the issue at hand. This was also evident as Trump attacked Buzzfeed, CNN, and the BBC around reports on the supposed Russian dossier.

Lastly, Lakoff presents an example of a Trump tweet that uses all four strategies at once:

“Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to “leak” into the public. One last shot at me.Are we living in Nazi Germany?”

  • Pre-emptive framing: “This is fake news.”
  • Diversion – Getting the public to discuss whether or not this is fake news rather than addressing the issue itself.
  • Deflection – Attacking the messengers
  • Trial balloon – Will the intelligence agencies be stopped, and are they working like Nazi Germany?

And, of course, tucked away in the tweet is the invocation of a corollary to Godwin’s Law: In any online discussion, whoever first brings up a reference to Hitler has lost the argument, and the discussion is ended.

Lakoff’s suggestions for the press on how to handle the onslaught of 3 AM tweets, as well as the entire podcast (it’s only about 8 minutes long) are well worth the listen.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Improving the web, one word at a time.

XKCD is a wonderful strip. Sometimes Munroe’s posts are based in deep and often incomprehensible (to me) math, sometimes intriguing science, and sometimes the most violently twisted whimsy one could imagine.

The most recent installment gives some suggestions for making the web-browsing experience more interesting.


The internet being what it is, and people’s creativity and free time factoring in, it was no surprise that a vehicle has already been created that allows such a list (or any other) to be implemented.

My news feed now looks like this:


This courtesy of Word Replacer II, a chrome extension that allows you to wipe out any word in your browser that you might find offensive, tiresome, or annoying, and replace it with any other. Tired of seeing Justin Bieber or Kim Kardashian all over the news? Replace them with “Little Bunny Froo-froo” or “King Koopa.”

Trust me, it will make your daily perusal of the news much more uplifting.

The user interface is a bit hard to use, but the fastest way to get things in is to build a blob with this format and import it. Notice that the closing brace after each segment has a comma after it – all except for the last one.

“version”: “2.0.10”,
“replacements”: [
“repA”: “Hillary Clinton”,
“repB”: “Her Supreme Corruptness”,
“type”: “Simple”,
“case”: “Maintain”,
“active”: true
“repA”: “Donald Trump”,
“repB”: “the bombastic blowhard”,
“type”: “Simple”,
“case”: “Maintain”,
“active”: true

It took me a while of fiddling to get them in, but I was able to get about 30 replacements installed and now watching the news feeds actually gives me a smile.


The Old Wolf has spoken

An Insider’s View of Martin Shkreli

The media has gone nuts about Martin Shkreli, the CEO of Turing Pharma who “obtained the manufacturing licence for Daraprim, an out-of-patent medicine, and raised its price by 5,455 percent (from $13.50 to $750 per tablet).” (Wikipedia)


While the company has stated that there will be a price reversal (as of this writing, we don’t know how much yet), Shkreli has now “receded from the public” according to USA Today, and who can blame him with the furious media storm raging out there?

Most analyses focus on rampant greed within the pharma industry, and use Shkreli as the poster boy for the zenith thereof. One redditor (/u/BlueGold), however, offers a different viewpoint which sheds some additional light on the subject. I’ve bowdlerized it a bit for family consumption – the original thread is here if you don’t mind colorful language.

Legal securities transaction experience and a little SEC regulation fluency checking in:

I’ve actually been doing some more research on the guy at work today, and am pretty blown away at how this all went down, should this theory be on point.

I’d like to state first that he’s a total jerk, and that this is a theory, but it’s becoming more and more convincing that he intended for all of this to happen, and it’s been a fun idea to play with – help educate me in what else this would require and each other:

So he knew the 4,700% cost-floor revaluation was an embellishment with a purpose:

He has, from what I can find, $4 – $15 million in shares of borrowed stock in various pharma corp. entities.

So, the moment reddit started raging about the injustice to the AIDS victims, and someone on Hilary’s digital media team said “Mrs. Clinton – appeal to all these voters by coming down on this dude!” he cracked a beer and watched his whole plan unfold.

In realistic share terms, taking taxes, interest rates in the ST contract with his lenders, and estimated holding into account, is probably several million dollars in profit for a day of acting. Someone above said “he’ll make billions short-selling!” Not only could he not make that much on a 20% drop short sale with his highest estimated borrowed holding, but the profit from a short sale like this doesn’t come to light for the market player until days, weeks, even months later when the price is back up to optimal value for cashing out.

So, its safe to say that he made millions with his little PR stunt, and vocationally, in a vacuum, he’s totally brilliant. Again, universally – he’s a jerk, but has an undeniable vocational aptitude for what he does.

If this probable play theory is on point, he knew he’d announce this cost reduction and caving on the 5k% value inflation shortly after reddit, twitter, mainstream media, and Hilary all started airing out their grievances – and he knew that there would be a subsequent revitalization in the pharma. share market base.

Bada bing bada boom. Say what you want about this guy, but he just acted like a jerk in order to troll the outrage bandwagon into actually influencing share values, and it totally worked. He didn’t deprive any dying children, he didn’t put anyone on the street, he probably didn’t even leave his office.

Alas, the predictable freakout hit the exact water mark he wanted it to, maybe even higher, and he bought all he could at the low price the bandwagon created, flipped back his $4-$15 million in borrowed shares to his creditors with presumably a “lets do business againreal soon” interest rate, and will soon profit generously when the market settles back to its regular CFS.

It would be really impressive, entirely because of the ignorance that is the foundation of everyone’s outrage.

I see a lot of people griping and moaning about the “system,” and the “extortion,” and the “broken justice” of SEC regs, and no suggestions other than “Old_Wolf_Censored this psychopath.”

Ya know what the ironic thing about this situation is though? His play will encourage the SEC revision committee to act. Not PI groups, not activists, not media attention. But this guy, who took advantage of the volatility of the market in response to uninformed social justice outcry. The only thing that really gets the attention of the SEC revision committee is economic circumstances, and the potential to not have firm control over happenings in private trading.

From 1934 – 2012, the SEC Regulatory Revision Committee has instituted 7 major acts, all in response to participant profiting, no one went to prison, and ALL THE ACTS were in the interest of non-corporate market participants.

Like it or not, he’s the only one who’ll make a difference for the better, whether it’s his intention or not – and he’s getting rich while he’s doing it, and not actually acting any differently than 80% of the other AIDS med manufacturers in the industry. In fact, he’s lowered his price below many others.

EDIT: Hopefully this adds some umph to anything I’ve said or answers any questions:

This guy is a master at short selling tactics.

He would get in a run of the mill short sale position, but then encourage the FDA via filing of “citizen petitions” to stall the release of certain products from corporations whose stock he was short selling. In doing this, is where his real mastery lies:

Dr. Hayflick, of OHSU (an outstanding medical research facility), “got a call from him in 2012, suggesting she try a different molecular modification to remedy pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration, or PKAN. ‘Damned if it doesn’t do what he thought it would do…It’s impressive. It’s humbling.'”

This isn’t a new thing, at all. I think this outrage is situational discontent with the pharma industry at large, and the for-profit nature of its governance. This, unfortunately, is a product of our privatized medical production realm that happens constantly. He just happened to make a noisy jerk out of himself, but really is one of many players, and still a small one at that.

Gylbera costs 1$ million buckaroos for annual treatment.

Acthar gel was marked 7000% for years.

Cinryze runs 3 times as much as his proposed value.

Short selling, multi-thousand percent mark ups from production-to-sale on drugs, constitutionally-protected systematic deflation of competition, reverse mergers… These are all well established market practices, just usually employed by undeniably smart, exploitive market players and CFOs who keep their mouths shut. This kind of noisy behavior has potential to create a PR nightmare that influences shareholder’s reactionary tendencies. Alas, it’s going back up!!! like our little jerk here has done.

This dude is a jerk. And if this hypothetical situation is on; a really smart jerk.

Once more, it serves to emphasize that this is one person’s theory. But it’s based on substantial experience in the industry, and makes for fascinating reading. There are some possibly good outcomes from this entire debacle:

  1. It has shined the light of reason on some of these scummy financial practices that seem commonplace, and
  2. It has energized the debate over the outrageous costs of drugs in the USA during a bitter election cycle.

Let us hope that some good comes out of this, whether or not Shkreli ever intended such an outcome.

The Old Wolf has spoken, with thanks to /u/BlueGold.

Commentary: Question to the Islamic Terrorist

Published at VG News.

This should be read by every Muslim, preached over every pulpit by every Imam.


These are the terrorists who attacked Charlie Hebdo yesterday. But there have been many such in recent years.

While the world picks up the pieces and tries to rebuild, I have some questions for you. You whose bloodlust cannot be slaked.

I ask because I’m a Muslim. And you say you are Muslim. And you say you kill for the God in whom we both believe. You are even proud of this, and some Muslims support you. Most do not, and I ask on their behalf:

“What have you really accomplished?”

Yesterday you killed 12 people and freedom of expression. You say that you avenged the Prophet. You were violated because caricatures were drawn. Charlie Hebdo had a circulation of 50,000. You changed this yesterday. Those caricatures you thought were worth killing for, so that no one would ever again dare to caricature our prophet? Those cartoons had a circulation of 500 million yesterday. At the very least.

Newspapers worldwide have the cartoons on the front pagte today, online, on paper. Millions have changed their profile picture to a caricature of Muhammad . You said “Charlie Hebdo is dead.” The world responded by saying “Je suis Charlie,” “I’m Charlie.” You’ve made ​​Charlie Hebdo immortal. And freedom of speech has reemerged stronger than ever. And did you know that many Muslims, who in 2005 and 2006 were hurt and depressed over the Mohammed cartoons, yesterday wrote that they have changed their minds? They say that the killing of the defenseless is a far greater insult against Muslims than caricatures will ever be. They say: “Draw, draw, draw.” This is what you have achieved.

You threaten and kill

You came onto the stage in earnest on 11 September, 2001. You began with the terrorist attacks in the United States. There you killed 2,996 people. You helped start the “war on terror”. It’s not over yet. And perhaps the war will never be won. The war has resulted in 116,657 civilian casualties, and the count is still rising. Most are Muslims like you and me. Children, the elderly, women and men. Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed by NATO forces, tens of thousands of civilians have been killed by you. You call them victims in the war for God, and you butcher them down without blinking, your your fellow-muslims. And your fellow-muslims must answer for your crimes. Hate crimes against Muslims in Western countries are on the rise. This is what you have accomplished.

You say you are going to spread “true Islam.” Your method is automatic weapons, suicide bombs, indoctrination and fear. Pure fear. You threaten to behead, whip and stone your fellow-muslims into believing in what you believe is true Islam. You call yourselves IS and have killed 24,000 people in Iraq: Muslims, Yazidis, Christians. You use children as soldiers and sell women as sex slaves. You are few, but Muslims are numerous. The many will never live as demanded by the few. Therefore you can never make progress with democratic means. So you resort to the sword and call yourself a lion. Over a hundred Muslim eminent scholars, with close to a billion Muslims behind them, call you an insult to Islam. This is what you have achieved.

The day you lost the battle

The last few years have started something new. You go for the most defenseless. Women, children, aid workers and journalists. You shoot one Malala in the head, because you do not like what she says. Today hear a whole world of Malalas. You shoot 132 children, most boys in puberty, because you think Islamic writings demand that, in the head. From close range. You think this will scare the Pakistani military and the Pakistani people. Pakistan responds with airstrikes, mass executions of convicted terrorists, and mass mobilization against you. A mobilization Pakistan has never seen before. So what have you accomplished, really?

Have you ever thought of the following: If you possess the one truth, should not one billion Muslims follow this of their own free will? You’ve had well over a decade to fight for your case, your interpretation. If your arguments had weight, would you not then have managed to convince all cartoonists to put away the pen? Do you see that you lost your case the day you picked up your weapons? I ask because I am a Muslim.

Shazia Sarwar