Guccifer 2.0’s American Fingerprints Reveal An Operation Made In The USA

Authored by Elizabeth Lea Vos via Disobedient Media,

In his final report in a three-part series, Guccifer 2’s West Coast Fingerprint, the Forensicator discovers evidence that at least one operator behind the Guccifer 2.0 persona worked from the West Coast of the United States.

The Forensicator’s earlier findings stated that Guccifer 2.0’s NGP-VAN files were accessed locally on the East Coast, and in another analysis they suggested that a file published by Guccifer 2.0 was created in the Central time zone of the United States. Most recently, a former DNC official refuted the DNC’s initial allegations that Trump opposition files had been ex-filtrated from the DNC by Russian state-sponsored operatives.

So, if Guccifer 2.0’s role was negated by the statements of the DNC’s own former “official” in a 2017 report by the Associated Press, why do we now return our attention to the Guccifer 2.0 persona, as we reflect on the last section of new findings from the Forensicator?

The answer: Despite almost two years having passed since the appearance of the Guccifer 2.0 persona, legacy media is still trotting out the shambling corpse of Guccifer 2.0 to revive the legitimacy of the Russian hacking narrative. In other words, it is necessary to hammer the final nail into the coffin of the Guccifer 2.0 persona.

As previously noted, In his final report in a three-part series, the Forensicator discusses concrete evidence that at least one operator behind the Guccifer 2.0 persona worked from the West Coast of the United States. He writes:

“Finally, we look at one particular Word document that Guccifer 2 uploaded, which had “track changes” enabled. From the tracking metadata we deduce the timezone offset in effect when Guccifer 2 made that change — we reach a surprising conclusion: The document was likely saved by Guccifer 2 on the West Coast, US.”

The Forensicator spends the first part of his report evaluating indications that Guccifer 2.0 may have operated out of Russia. Ultimately, the Forensicator discards those tentative results. He emphatically notes:

“The PDT finding draws into question the premise that Guccifer 2 was operating out of Russia, or any other region that would have had GMT+3 timezone offsets in force. Essentially, the Pacific Timezone finding invalidates the GMT+3 timezone findings previously described.”

The Forensicator’s new West Coast finding is not the first evidence to indicate that operators behind the Guccifer 2.0 persona were based in the US. Nine months ago, Disobedient Media, reported on the Forensicator’s analysis, which showed (among other things) that Guccifer 2.0’s “ngpvan” archive was created on the East Coast. While that report received the vast majority of attention from the public and legacy media, Disobedient Media later reported on another analysis done by the Forensicator, which found that a file published by Guccifer 2.0 (on a different occasion) was probably created in the Central Timezone of the US.

Adding to all of this, UK based analyst and independent journalist Adam Carter presented his own analysis which also showed that the Guccifer 2.0 Twitter persona interacted on a schedule which was best explained by having been based within the United States.

The chart above shows a box which spans regular working hours. It indicates that unless Guccifer 2.0 worked the night shift, they were likely working out of the US. Though this last data point is circumstantial, it is corroborated by the previously discussed pieces of independently verifiable hard evidence described by the Forensicator.

When taking all of these separate pieces into account, one observes a convergence of evidence that multiple US-based operators were behind the Guccifer 2.0 persona and its publications. This is incredibly significant because it is based on multiple pieces of concrete data; it does not rely on “anonymous sources within the government,” nor contractors hired by the DNC. As a result, much of the prior legacy press coverage of Guccifer 2.0 as a Russia-based agent can be readily debunked.

Such tangible evidence stands in contrast to the claims made in a recently published Daily Beast article, which reads more like a gossip column than serious journalism. In the Daily Beast’s recital, the outlet cites an anonymous source who claims that a Moscow-based GRU agent was behind the Guccifer 2.0 operation, writing:

“Guccifer 2.0, the “lone hacker” who took credit for providing WikiLeaks with stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee, was in fact an officer of Russia’s military intelligence directorate (GRU), The Daily Beast has learned. It’s an attribution that resulted from a fleeting but critical slip-up in GRU tradecraft.

… But on one occasion, The Daily Beast has learned, Guccifer failed to activate the VPN client before logging on. As a result, he left a real, Moscow-based Internet Protocol address in the server logs of an American social media company, according to a source familiar with the government’s Guccifer investigation.

… Working off the IP address, U.S. investigators identified Guccifer 2.0 as a particular GRU officer working out of the agency’s headquarters on Grizodubovoy Street in Moscow.”

[The Daily Beast, March 22, 2018]

Clearly, the claim made in the Daily Beast’s report is in direct contradiction with the growing mound of evidence suggesting that Guccifer 2.0 operated out of the United States. A detailed technical breakdown of the evidence confirming a West-Coast “last saved” time and how this counters the claims of the Daily Beast can be found in the Forensicator’s work.

The Forensicator explained to Disobedient Media that their discovery process was initiated by the following Tweet by Matt Tait (@pwnallthings), a security blogger and journalist. Tait noticed a change revision entry in one of the Word documents published in Guccifer 2.0’s second batch of documents, (uploaded 3 days after Guccifer 2.0 first appeared on the scene).

The Forensicator corrects Tait, stating that the timestamp is in “wall time,” (local time) not UTC. The Forensicator explains that Tait’s mistake is understandable because the “Z” suffix usually implies “Zulu” (GMT) time, but that isn’t the case for “track changes” timestamps. The Forensicator writes that the document Tait refers to in his Tweet is named Hillary-for-America-fundraising-guidelines-from-agent-letter.docx; it has Word’s “track changes” feature enabled. Guccifer 2.0 made a trivial change to the document, using the pseudonym, “Ernesto Che,” portrayed below:

The Forensicator correlated that timestamp (“12:56:00 AM”) with the document’s “last saved” timestamp expressed in GMT, as shown below courtesy of the Forensicator’s study:

Based on the evidence discussed above, the Forensicator concludes that Guccifer 2.0 saved this file on a system that had a timezone offset of -7 hours (the difference between 0:56 AM and 7:56 AM GMT). Thus, the system where this document was last changed used Pacific Timezone settings.

The logical conclusion drawn from the preceding analysis is that Guccifer 2.0 was operating somewhere on the West Coast of the United States when they made their change to that document. This single finding throws into shambles any other conclusions that might indicate that Guccifer 2.0 was operating out of Russia. This latest finding also adds to the previously cited evidence that the persona was probably operated by multiple individuals located in the United States.

Taken all together, the factual basis of the Russian hacking story totally collapses. We are left instead with multiple  traces of a US-based operation that created the appearance of evidence that Kremlin-allied hackers had breached the DNC network. Publicly available data suggests that Guccifer 2.0 is a US-based operation. To this, we add:

  • The Forensicator’s recent findings that Guccifer 2.0 deliberately planted “Russian fingerprints” into his first document, as reported by Disobedient Media.

  • A former DNC official’s statement that a document with so-called “Russian fingerprints” was not in fact taken from the DNC, as reported by Disobedient Media.

  • The media’s role in propagating the connection between early Russian hacking allegations and the Guccifer 2.0 persona, as reported by Disobedient Media.

In the course of the last nine months this outlet has documented the work of the Forensicator, which has indicated that not only were Guccifer 2.0’s “ngp-van” files accessed locally on the East Coast of the US, but also that several files published by the Guccifer 2.0 persona were altered and saved within the United States. The “Russian fingerprints” left on Guccifer 2.0’s first document have been debunked, as has the claim that the file itself was extracted from the DNC network in the first place. On top of all this, a former DNC official withdrew the DNC’s initial allegations that supported the “Russian hack” claim in the first place.

One hopes that with all of this information in mind, the long-suffering Guccifer 2.0 saga can be laid to rest once and for all, at least for unbiased and critically thinking observers.

Pepe Escobar: Iran Is Bracing For All-Out Economic War

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times,

While the dogs of war bark, the Ancient – and New – Silk Road goes on forever and a civilization with a long and proud history gets on with life…

The minute you set foot in the streets of Mashhad, the air smelling of saffron, a fine breeze oozing from the mountains, it hits you; you’re in the heart of the Ancient Silk Road and the New Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

To the east, the Afghan border is only three hours away on an excellent highway. To the north, the Turkmenistan border is less than four hours away. To the northwest is the Caspian Sea. To the south is the Indian Ocean and the port of Chabahar, the entry point for the Indian version of the Silk Roads. The Tehran-Mashhad railway is being built by the Chinese.

A group of us – including American friends, whose visas were approved at the highest levels of the Iranian government – have gathered in Mashhad for the New Horizon Conference of independent thinkers. Right after a storm, I’m in a van on the way to the spectacular Imam Reza shrine with Alexander Dugin, which the usual suspects love to describe as “the world’s most dangerous philosopher,” or Putin’s Rasputin.

Debating and discussion time

We’re deep in debate not over geopolitics but … bossa nova. Exit Sun Tzu and Machiavelli, enter Tom Jobim and Joao Gilberto.

Persia traditionally has been a land of serious intellectual discussion. At the conference, after a lunch break, a few of us decide to start our own geopolitical debate, no cameras rolling, no microphones on. Dugin expands on what multipolarity could be; no universality; pluriversal; a realm of pluralistic anthropology; all poles sovereign. We discuss the pitfalls of Eurasian identity, Islamic identity, sub-poles, India, Europe and Africa.

A few minutes later Iranian scholar Blake Archer Williams – his nom de plume – is delving into “The sacred community of Shi’ite Islam and its covenantal dispensation.”

Karaj is a bustling three million-strong city one hour away from Tehran by freeway. Early one morning I enter a room in a hawza – an Islamic seminary. In my previous travels I have visited hawzas in Qom, but never a female-only school. This one harbors 2,275 active students from all over Alborz province up to PhD level. They study philosophy, psychology, economics and politics. After graduation, some will go abroad, to teach in Islamic and non-Islamic nations.

Our Q&A is exhilarating. Many of my interlocutors are already teachers, and most will become scholars. Their questions are sharp; some are extremely well informed. There’s so much eagerness to know detail after detail about life in the West.

High academic standards

The next day I visit the Islamic Azad University; more than four million alumni, 1.4 million current students, 29,000 faculty members, 472 campuses and research centers and 617 affiliated high schools. The Karaj campus is the second in importance in Iran.

This is an extraordinary experience. The hillside campus may not be a UCLA, but puts to shame many prestigious universities across Europe. Not to mention the annual tuition fees; only US$1,000 on average. Sanctions? What sanctions? Most of the equipment may yield from the 1980s, but they have everything they need. As attested by jovial master architect Ali Kazemi, who spent 16 years in Paris after graduating from Nanterre, the academic standards are very high.

Rector Mohammad Hasan Borhanifar – formerly at the University of Kyrgyzstan in Bishkek – opens all the doors at the campus. I’m shepherded by Mohammad Hashamdar, from the Faculty of Languages. I talk to the deans of all faculties and have a Q&A with students, mostly in international relations.

Even before the proclamation of the “strongest sanctions in history,” everyone wants details on the US Treasury’s new form of financial war, even more deadly than a hot war. In slightly more than two months, the purchase of US dollars, steel, coal and precious metals will be banned; there will be no more Iranian imports to the US and aviation and the car industry will be under sanctions.

Airbus may have to cancel multi-billion dollar orders from Iran. An IT professor tells me Iran can buy excellent Sukhoi passenger jets instead. No Peugeots? “We buy Hyundai.”

My interlocutors update me on investments by Total, Airbus, BASF, Siemens, Eni – its branch Saipem signed a $5 billion deal with the National Iranian Oil Company, NIOC, to develop oil and gas fields and ultimately supply energy to Europe. They confirm that if Total pulls out of the development of the 11th phase of the South Pars gas field, the Chinese CNPC will take over.

Almost 70% of Iran’s oil exports go to China and Asia, 20% go to Europe. Almost 90% of what the EU buys from Iran is oil, going mostly to Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Germany and the Netherlands. Iran remains THE Big Prize, as Dick Cheney well knew; an astonishing $45 trillion in oil and gas reserves.

A wide gene pool

I’m slightly alarmed when, talking to the Friday prayer imam – who is the actual representative of Ayatollah Khamenei in Karaj – he’s clueless about the New Silk Roads. Just as the Ancient Silk Road allowed Buddhism to fertilize Chinese culture, Iran, India and China are bound to cross-fertilize again; imagine a trans-Eurasia lab equipped with a wide gene pool and well-educated young armada searching for creative solutions.

The LA freeway hell pales in comparison with being stuck in a monster three-hour traffic jam from Tehran to Karaj, only 25 kilometers. I duly incorporate a Persian imprecation to my vocabulary; kharab beshe, which in polite translation means “going to nowhere.” I miss my requisite geopolitical dinner with Professor Marandi of the University of Tehran; we do it later on Whatsapp – like MBS and Jared Kushner.

What daily life in 17 million-strong, congested to death Tehran reveals is the standard of living essentially of a mid-level emerging nation. Everyone has a car, and smartphones and wi-fi are ubiquitous. In parallel, everywhere we feel intimations of a Persian civilization boasting at least a millennium of fabulous history even before Islam was born. And when we talk to the secularized intellectual elite, it’s clear that for them, in comparison, Arabs are nothing but trouble.

Everywhere I go I’m back in the ’70s; the whole infrastructure seems decades old, but everything works. Except for timing; Iran might as well be the land of magical realism 2.0, where the unexpected happens when all hope has been forsaken.

A smart, young generation

In Mashhad, I’m the guest in a political talk show on Khorasan TV – in a studio immaculately preserved from the ’70s. Yes, this is the heart of the fabled Khorasan – “where the sun arrives from” – that transfixed Alexander The Great. I spend half an hour dissecting the JCPOA; my translator is an over-qualified import-export expert. Khorasan TV’s blockbuster is an American-style cop show essentially covering road accidents in real time; after all, the crime rate is negligible.

Real inflation is at 16% a year – so far. Foreign exchange inflation is much higher. Real youth unemployment is at a steep 30%, in a country of 80 million where the median age is 29 and 40% of the population is under 24. One of my translators in Karaj, Ali, is 24; he’s unemployed, learned English by watching DVDs and cannot afford to rent his own place.

Under the new rial devaluation, the median regional salary plunged to about US$250 per month. One cannot rent a 40 square meter apartment near Azad University for less than $200 per month.

I stop for a late night pizza in Mashhad. The bill reads a whopping 200,000 rials; that’s a little more than $3. The euro in the black market spikes to nearly 80,000 rials.

Social media

Telegram has been blocked – but still, everyone uses both Telegram and WhatsApp. Some VPNs work, some don’t. The block was not necessarily linked to the spread of anti-government rumors during the January street protests – which actually started in Mashhad.

Elaheh, who did her language master in France; Bojan, who has a PhD in economics from San Diego State; or Ayoub Farkhondeh, who works on terrorism studies at the Habilian research institute, are all amused by the “bizarre” coverage by Western media of all things Iran.

The analysis of well-educated people in both Mashhad and Tehran tends to qualify the protests as essentially IMF riots – which happen when the Washington Consensus forces governments to reduce subsidies. Real revolutions, in Iran, involve clerics, middle-class intellectuals and the bazaaris.

This time the focus was the grassroots; the working class in small provincial cities. Millions in Iran, after all, depend on government salaries and subsidies. In contrast, Team Rouhani is essentially neoliberal.

Of course, there’s government criticism – more towards the clerics than neoliberal Team Rouhani. Businessmen told me of untold ministerial-level corruption – but it’s virtually impossible to verify the numbers. The Pasdaran, as the IRGC is referred to, continue to control a great deal of the economy and to manage a welfare system and client system that distributes favors to millions of people, but also imposes rigid social control.

At the same time, not looking at Iran via a windowless cubicle in Washington but actually on the ground, it’s clear that NSC Adviser John Bolton’s plan to revive the Mujahedin-e Khalq, known as MEK, to attempt a color revolution will fail miserably. MEK is universally despised. The whole of Iranian society won’t blame either Khamenei or Rouhani for the incoming economic war.

Europe on the spot

Persian politeness, hospitality and graciousness always strike a visitor as deeply touching. All that combined with an obsession with the image that the West has of Iran. Iran does not seek “isolation”; it’s Washington politics that wants it isolated.

So no wonder Europe is on the spot. The EU will activate a 1996 lawwhich forbids European companies to comply with US sanctions, protecting them “against the effects of the extra-territorial application of legislation adopted by a third country.” Still, the question is ubiquitous; “The Europeans will side with us or the Americans?”

In parallel, Iranians don’t want to be like the West. And the best way to understand it is by visiting the Imam Reza shrine over and over again – I went early in the morning, after an afternoon storm, and at night.

Night activities at Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad. Photo: Asia Times/Pepe Escobar

The Imam Reza shrine, known as Astan Qods-e Razavi, is a marvel enveloped in golden and turquoise domes, lavish minarets and 12 courtyards spread over one million square meters. It hosts the largest Iranian NGO; a centuries-old administrative structure encompassing eight general directorates, more than 50 industrial, agricultural and service companies, over 15 cultural and research institutions and more than 12,000 students.

The 12th-century library at the shrine is one of the world’s oldest, along with Alexandria, the Vatican and Topkaki. Ayatollah Khomeini ordered its preservation. The public library holds four million books in more than 90 languages. There’s even a lab to “cure book diseases.” Mashhad runs a library in India plus a documentation center with more than 18 million items, including a 1,300-year-old document linked to Imam Ali.

Before leaving on a night flight to Doha, I visit the shrine one last time with two fine, steeped in history, Italian observers, ace journalist Giulietto Chiesa and writer Roberto Quaglia. It’s the first day of Ramadan. We’re speechless facing the crossover of aesthetic beauty, spiritual illumination and plain old fun.

Whole families gather, improvise a picnic, chat, take selfies, kids roam around playing. Instead of being glued to some dodgy version of Big Brother, like most across the West, they prefer to live life in a shrine. It is indeed an organic “third day,” like a government insider told me in Tehran.

Meanwhile, a Chinese train is snaking along from Mongolia to Tehran carrying sunflower seeds. While the dogs of war bark, the Ancient – and New – Silk Road goes on forever.

Why Industrial Robot Sales are Sky High

Industrial robots have come a long way since George Devol invented “Unimate” in 1961.

After pitching his idea to Joseph Engelberger at a cocktail party, the two soon saw their new creation become the first mass-produced robotic arm to be used in factory automation.

Today, as Visual Capitalists’s Ang Ahlstrom notes, this robot class is raising the bar of global manufacturing to new heights, striking a seamless mix of strength, speed, and precision. As a result, demand for industrial robots keeps growing at a robust 14% per year, setting the stage for 3.1 million industrial robots in operation globally by 2020.

Source: Visual Capitalist

DRIVERS OF ROBOT SUCCESS

Why are industrial robots flying off the shelves at an unprecedented rate?

Significant factors include advancements in machine learning and computer vision, since the prospect of new functionality leads to more use cases and increased demand. In addition, the maturation of 3D printing technology and the soaring interest in collaborative robots also deserve some of the credit.

What’s interesting though, is that according to experts, the record demand for robots is actually largely in response to the notable decline in unit costs.

ARK Investment Management, a leading researcher in this market, says that industrial robot costs are expected to drop a solid 65% between 2015 and 2025. Impressively, the cost per robot will plunge from $31,000 to $11,000 over that decade of time.

A SUDDEN COST DECLINE

Why are unit costs dropping so fast?

For ARK, such price shifts account for the workings of Wright’s Law, which states: “for every cumulative doubling in number of units produced, costs will decline by a consistent percentage”. In the field of robotics that cost decline, also known as the “learning rate”, has been around 50%.

As industrial robotic operations grow, especially in the automotive industry, the manufacturing sector continues to save millions. Meanwhile, working conditions improve as robots take mundane, repetitive, and dangerous task loads from human workers.

At present, the largest market share of industrial robots is held in the Asia-Pacific region – namely, China, Japan, Korea, and India. But as current trends suggest, these falling prices will only steer further global reach.

Grassley: Fusion GPS Testimony “Extremely Misleading, If Not An Outright Lie”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has accused Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson of giving “extremely misleading” testimony that may have been an “outright lie” regarding his post-election work conducting opposition research on the Trump matter. 

Of note, when Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) asked Simpson if he was still being paid for work related to the dossier, Simpson refused to answer

So you didn’t do any work on the Trump matter after the election date; that was the end of your work?” Schiff asked.

Simpson responded, saying: “I had no client after the election.

where we do have actual evidence of misleading testimony in Committee interviews, we should treat it seriously. For example, when the Committee staff interviewed Glenn Simpson in August of 2017, Majority staff asked him: “So you didn’t do any work on the Trump matter after the election date, that was the end of your work?” Mr. Simpson answered: “I had no client after the election.” 

As we now know, that was extremely misleading, if not an outright lie. -Sen. Chuck Grassley

“Contrary to Mr. Simpson’s denial in the staff interview, according to the FBI and others,” Grassley notes, “Fusion actually did continue Trump dossier work for a new client after the election.”

Grassley also noted comments made by Senate Intelligence Committee staffer Daniel Jones, who is conducting an ongoing, private investigation into Trump-Russia claims is being funded with $50 million supplied by George Soros and a group of 7-10 wealthy donors from California and New York.

This effort was originally revealed in February and reported on by The Federalistafter a series of leaked text messages between Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and lobbyist Adam Waldman suggested that Daniel J. Jones – an ex-FBI investigator and former Feinstein staffer, was intimately involved with ongoing efforts to retroactively validate a series of salacious and unverified memos published by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent, and Fusion GPS.

In short, Jones is working with Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele to continue their investigation into Donald Trump, using a $50 million war chest just revealed by the House Intel Committee report.

Simpson was commissioned by the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign to perform opposition research on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. Through their efforts they recruited former MI6 spy Christopher Steele to compile the salacious and unverified “Steele Dossier” used in part by the FBI to apply for a FISA surveillance warrant on Trump campaign aide Carter Page. 

“So, despite the fact Mr. Simpson said he had no client after the election, he in fact did, and that client revealed himself to the FBI,” Grassley said.