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Inside the Kremlin’s War to Control Google Search Rankings

Polipace Staff

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When it comes to improving your search rankings on Google, there are endless theories and strategies used by marketers around the world. One that is new, however, is making direct threats against Google itself, but that is the strategy that Alexander Zharov, the head of media regulator Roskomnadzor, is taking.

Just hours after it was revealed Google will be down-ranking stories from the Kremlin-owned media properties Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik, Russia has announced that it will retaliate against the search giant if it carries through with its plans, Reuters reports. Alexander Zharov, the head of Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor, told Interfax that his agency sent a letter to Google on Tuesday requesting clarification on their intentions.

This started last week when Executive Chairman of Alphabet (the parent company of Google), Eric Schmidt, said that Google would be giving less prominence to ‘those kinds of websites’ when asked a question about the rankings of Russian sites Sputnik and Russia Today. The less prominent rankings is instead of delisting them entirely.  RT—formerly known as Russia Today—routinely shapes its coverage portray Russia in the best possible light, and to make the West, and especially the United States, look bad.

Russian media in the US have been under increased pressure in the wake of the probe into Moscow’s alleged interference in the US presidential election, with Twitter blocking advertising from the channels owned by RT and Sputnik. At the same time, at a Congress hearing as part of the so-called Russia probe, tech giants, namely Twitter, Facebook and Google, have confirmed the lack of evidence of Russian media’s interference in the US elections. For its part, Moscow has repeatedly called such claims groundless

Google has discovered that Russian operatives spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads on YouTube, Google search, Gmail and other outlets promoting Russia Today stories, among other things.

In response, Zharov said, “We will receive an answer and understand what to do next. We hope our opinion will be heard, and we won’t have to resort to more serious” retaliatory measures.

It is obviously not clear exactly what they will be able to do. He went on to say that he would be monitoring, ‘how discriminating this measure will be in its practical embodiment. It is obvious that we will defend our media.’

Most recently, US Congressional Press Galleries took away credentials from RT America after it had been forced to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act earlier in November.

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International

Deutsche Bank Raided over Russian Money Laundering

Polipace Staff

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A money laundering probe stemming from the “Panama Papers” has led police to Deutsche Bank, according to authorities. Prosecutors believe the bank helped clients “transfer money from criminal activities” to tax havens.

German Federal police on Thursday raided the Frankfurt offices of Deutsche Bank. The Frankfurt prosecutor’s office said the raids stemmed from an investigation into suspected money laundering at the German bank.

About 170 law enforcement agents took part in the operation. The investigation revolves around multiple Deutsche Bank employees, including two believed to still be working at the financial institution.

Deutsche Bank said it was “fully cooperating” with authorities. “The case is related to the Panama Papers,” a spokesperson said.

According to prosecutors, Deutsche Bank is suspected of helping some 900 customers setup offshore shell companies in tax havens to “transfer money from criminal activities.” They said some €311 million ($354 million) is believed to have been laundered, citing information gleaned from the so-called “Panama Papers.”

Markus Meinzer, financial secrecy director of the Tax Justice Network, has been quoted “surprised that German officials would finally take action” on information garnered from the “Panama Papers.”

“It has been two years that they’ve been analyzing these files,” Mainzer said. “We have seen in other situations that German prosecutors took very long to take action” against tax avoidance schemes and financial crimes.

The “Panama Papers” data leak comprised some 11.5 million documents and was leaked to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung by an anonymous source in 2015. At least 28 German entities were identified in the leak, according to reports at the time, including Deutsche Bank.

Deutsche Bank has come under increased scrutiny for lax anti-money laundering mechanisms. In September, German financial regulator BaFin formally ordered the bank to do more to combat money laundering in its institutions.

BaFin also assigned an audit firm to assist the bank in fulfilling its regulatory requirements, saying Deutsche Bank needs to “take appropriate internal safeguards.”

In the past, Deutsche Bank has acknowledged that its anti-money laundering efforts have fallen short of financial rules. In August, it confirmed that even after it was fined for helping Russian clients wash some $10 billion (€8.8 billion), its mechanisms to stop such criminal activity were still ineff

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International

Trump Threatens Acosta, Again

Polipace Staff

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The White House has announced that despite a Judicial order restoring Acosta’s press pass, they will suspend it immediately after the order expires in 14 days.

According, to Brian Stelter of CNN, “Lawyers were already expected to be back in court this week to discuss the timeline for further proceedings. Unless there’s some sort of resolution, CNN will be arguing for a preliminary injunction. Here’s what CNN outside counsel Ted Boutrous told me on “Reliable Sources” before these new developments were known… “

The White House argues Acosta did not follow “basic standards” at a news conference when he scrapped with U.S. President Donald Trump.

In a court filing Monday, CNN said the administration was creating “retroactive due process.” The network tweeted that the White House “is continuing to violate the First and Fifth amendments of the Constitution.”

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Crime

HORROR IN NYC: Did Saudi Government Assassins Kill Two Sisters?

Polipace Staff

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Two Saudi Sisters Rotana and Tala Farea, whose bodies were found washed up along the Hudson river,  may have been victims of Saudi government assassins according to a well placed source within NYPD. They were then killed only a day after they applied for asylum in the United States, scared to return to the oppressive Saudi regime.

Their mother said that the Saudi government had called them on October 23rd and threatened them with being taken back to Saudi Arabia (and most likely punished) because the sisters had applied for asylum in the United States.

The sisters’ bodies then were found the next day, ducted taped, dead washed on the shore of the Hudson River.

There is a Saudi Consulate in NYC at 866 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10017

Police have ruled out that the pair jumped from the George Washington Bridge in a suicide pact, a theory that was initially pushed out by police, because neither body had visible signs of trauma that would have occurred when they hit the water.

Tala was last seen on Aug. 24, according to a now-removed posting on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website. The alert said she might be with her sister.

A cause of death for the two women — both of Fairfax, Virginia — has not yet been determined.

This news comes the same day that we’ve learned that Washington Post Columnist, Jamal Khashoggi was strangled and dismembered in  a Saudi Consulate in Turkey.

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