Many know the name Kaspersky well. Others may only dimly recognize the brand name. Its anti-virus and Internet security software has been around for years in computer stores and OEM’d with computer systems. More than a year ago, I became concerned about what I was learning about Kaspersky Lab and its headquarters in Moscow, I began asking myself hypothetical rhetorical questions. What if Kaspersky was quietly working with the Russian FSB? What if Kaspersky had installed a sleeping Trojan Horse in millions of copies of its consumer computer security software? I was a user of Kaspersky Lab cybersecurity software myself. I knew that it was rated very highly by the tech journals. I liked its elegance and simplicity compared with other competitor products from U.S. based companies like Symantec and McAffee. Nevertheless, as the Russian hacking of the 2016 election became an ever-larger issue, I decided to pull the plug on Kaspersky because of my fears, though there was no direct evidence of collusion between Kaspersky and the Kremlin at that time, wiped my system clean, and installed another competitor product.
Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election has evolved into a genuine and unprecedented national crisis. The Electoral College meets December 19th. Over the years, the Electoral College has deteriorated into a quant rubber-stamp of each state’s elector outcome. Some states have even passed laws that prohibit electors from changing their votes. However, this is patently un-Constitutional and not the intent of The Founders. Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers that the intent was for the Electoral College to be a check on exactly the situation we are facing. Meanwhile, a group of electors has demanded that the CIA share its evidence with the Electoral College.
Italy, Austria, and France, in that order, are the next dominos likely to fall in the global wave of populist political sentiment. Italy and Austria will both go to the polls on the same day next month, December 4th, for somewhat different reasons, but with both outcomes likely to advance the political forces on the right in Europe. In Austria, it’s expected that Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party will prevail. That would make him the first elected far-right leader in Western Europe since 1945. Italy’s vote is a referendum initially scheduled for the fall. On the table is a package of constitutional reforms that Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has proposed to streamline lawmaking, but it is increasingly being seen a plebiscite on Renzi’s government, which it appears he may lose, causing his government to fall, and creating an opportunity for the far right to form a new anti-immigration government. In the upcoming 2017 Presidential election in France, ultra-nationalist Marine Le Pen is seen as the possible front-runner.
Lost today in the extraordinary news frenzy surrounding the release of a video tape of Donald Trump making unprecedented lewd and obscene comments about women, was Barak Obama’s announcement that the United States officially and publicly accuses Russia of espionage in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee, and stealing documents, now in the possession of Wikileaks. Some may recall Julian Assange’s video interview with Bill Maher on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher about a month ago on this topic. It seems clear from the Bill Maher interview that Assange is on a jihad against the DNC because Clinton wanted to prosecute him. Assange has no altruistic motives — it is personal. We have a foreigner trying to influence U.S elections using documents stolen by Russia.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has quit an advisory panel to Panama’s government set up after the Panama Papers scandal. Some 11.5m documents, leaked from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca, revealed huge offshore tax evasion.The government appointed a panel to look at Panama’s financial practices. But Mr Stiglitz and and Swiss anti-corruption expert Mark Pieth, who also quit, said government interference in their work amounted to “censorship”. The seven-person panel also included Panamanian experts. “I thought the government was more committed, but obviously they’re not,” Mr Stiglitz told Reuters news agency. “It’s amazing how they tried to undermine us.”