Avert your eyes! My Sunday morning look at incompetency, corruption and policy failures:
• ex-KGB Spy: Russia Cultivated Trump as Asset for 40 years, ‘The Perfect Target’ Donald Trump was cultivated as a Russian asset over 40 years and proved so willing to parrot anti-western propaganda that there were celebrations in Moscow, according to a former KGB spy. Yuri Shvets, posted to Washington by the Soviet Union in the 1980s, is a key source for American Kompromat: How the KGB Cultivated Donald Trump, a new book comparing the former US president to “the Cambridge five”, the British spy ring that passed secrets to Moscow during the early cold war. (The Guardian)
• Worrisome New Coronavirus Strains Are Emerging. Why Now? Across the globe, SARS-CoV-2 is evolving ways to evade the immune system and become more infectious. Blown pandemic response plans are to blame. (Wired)
• Three Weeks Inside a Pro-Trump QAnon Chat Room For the past three weeks, a group of Trump supporters and QAnon believers met online, swapped theories and eagerly awaited the conspiracy’s violent climax. I was listening in. This is what they sounded like. (New York Times)
• Why did Leon Black pay $158m to Jeffrey Epstein? Law firm report sets out services Apollo founder received from convicted paedophile (Financial Times)
• After Capitol riot, police chiefs work to root out officers with ties to extremist groups The revelation that the Capitol mob — covered in emblems of extremist groups — included off-duty law enforcement officers possibly assisted by working police is escalating pressure on sheriffs and police chiefs nationwide to root out staff with ties to white supremacist and far-right armed groups. (Washington Post)
• Twitter and YouTube Banned Steve Bannon. Apple Still Gives Him Millions of Listeners. Steve Bannon broadcasts election denialism and apocalyptic calls to action several times a day via Apple’s podcast app. He’s not the only one using the platform to spread claims that became a rallying cry of the mob that threatened the Capitol. (ProPublica)
• A QAnon ‘Digital Soldier’ Marches On, Undeterred by Theory’s Unraveling Valerie Gilbert posts dozens of times a day in support of an unhinged conspiracy theory. The story of this “meme queen” hints at how hard it will be to bring people like her back to reality. (New York Times) see also What Comes Next For QAnon Followers “Don’t let this moment slip by. Capitalize on their anger. Radicalize!” read one message that circulated among far-right channels on Telegram, a messaging app favored by the alt-right and once populated by terrorists. (FiveThirtyEight)
• Tucker Carlson and The Deep Lie: No, conservatives are not being “muzzled” It works this way. The lie (any lie) begins in the fever swamp—>social media —> Fox News/talkradio —> goes viral —> achieves critical mass —> politicians begin to “ask questions” because “people are saying” —> dominates political debate….and the loop continues until the lie shatters our polity. (Bulwark)
• Fauci on What Working for the Admin in 2020 Was Really Like From denialism to death threats, Dr. Anthony Fauci describes a fraught year as an adviser to President Donald J. Trump on the Covid-19 pandemic. (Science Times)
• Trump’s useful thugs: how the Republican party offered a home to the Proud Boys Early in Trump’s presidency, emboldened neo-Nazi and fascist groups came out into the open but were met with widespread revulsion. So the tactics of the far right changed, becoming more insidious – and much more successful. (The Guardian) see also Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was an FBI informant Extremist leader repeatedly worked undercover for investigators after his arrest in 2012, former prosecutor and court files reveal (The Guardian)
Be sure to check out our Masters in Business interview this weekend with the legendary fund manager Ron Baron of Baron Funds. Founded in 1982, the firm is known for long-term, fundamental, active approach to growth investing, and has $49 billion in AUM. 16 of 17 Baron Funds, representing 98.3% of assets outperformed their passive benchmark since inception; the Baron Partners Fund was up +148% in 2020.
Capitol Riot: Which States Have Made The Most Arrests?
To learn how these reads are assembled each day, please see this.