Obama team expected to announce measures to punish Russia for election hacking

If you're concerned about what, if anything, the outgoing presidential administration can do to fight back against Russia hacking the U.S. elections for Trump——stay close to your phones as this lame duck end of the year week rounds up.

Tomorrow, team Obama is rumored to be “announcing a series of measures to punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 presidential election, including economic sanctions and diplomatic censure.”

Read the rest

'Russians were responsible for hacking the DNC,' says Obama in final 2016 press conference

U.S. President Barack Obama met with reporters today for the final press conference of 2016, before the new administration is due to take over. Live tweets below.

Read the rest

FBI and ODNI now back CIA's assessment that Russia hacked U.S. election for Trump win

Federal Bureau of Investigations chief James B. Comey and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper today indicated the FBI and ODNI support a recent CIA assessment that Russia committed internet attacks targeted at America's elections, with the intent in part being to help Donald Trump win.

Read the rest

U.S. intelligence officials say Putin was personally involved in U.S. election hack

Putin had at least two reasons to interfere in the U.S. presidential election. First, he had a grudge against Hillary Clinton (she called him a "tough guy with a thin skin" in 2014). Second, he wanted to reveal corruption in US politics and to "split off key American allies by creating the image that [other countries] couldn't depend on the U.S. to be a credible global leader anymore," according to a high-level intelligence source.

From NBC News

"It is most certainly consistent with the Putin that I have watched and used to work with when I was an ambassador and in the government," said Michael McFaul, who was ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014.

"He has had a vendetta against Hillary Clinton, that has been known for a long time because of what she said about his elections back in the parliamentary elections of 2011. He wants to discredit American democracy and make us weaker in terms of leading the liberal democratic order. And most certainly he likes President-elect Trump's views on Russia," McFaul added. Clinton cast doubt on the integrity of Russia's elections.

Read the rest

How Russia pulled off a cyberwar invasion of America, according to the New York Times

Huge New York Times investigation on Russia's role in the elections, and Trump's upset victory: "The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the US.” It's a riveting tic-tock narrative, and no doubt those in the intel/security biz will debate the contents.

An examination by The Times of the Russian operation — based on interviews with dozens of players targeted in the attack, intelligence officials who investigated it and Obama administration officials who deliberated over the best response — reveals a series of missed signals, slow responses and a continuing underestimation of the seriousness of the cyberattack.

The D.N.C.’s fumbling encounter with the F.B.I. meant the best chance to halt the Russian intrusion was lost. The failure to grasp the scope of the attacks undercut efforts to minimize their impact. And the White House’s reluctance to respond forcefully meant the Russians have not paid a heavy price for their actions, a decision that could prove critical in deterring future cyberattacks.

The low-key approach of the F.B.I. meant that Russian hackers could roam freely through the committee’s network for nearly seven months before top D.N.C. officials were alerted to the attack and hired cyberexperts to protect their systems. In the meantime, the hackers moved on to targets outside the D.N.C., including Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, John D. Podesta, whose private email account was hacked months later.

Even Mr. Podesta, a savvy Washington insider who had written a 2014 report on cyberprivacy for President Obama, did not truly understand the gravity of the hacking.

Read the rest

"Russia's Trump" says America must elect Donald Trump or prepare for nuclear war

An ultra-right Russian politician aligned with Vladimir Putin says American voters should elect Donald Trump for president, or prepare for nuclear war. Vladimir Zhirinovsky likes to compare himself to Trump, and is a similarly unrestrained blowhard.

"Americans voting for a president on Nov. 8 must realize that they are voting for peace on Planet Earth if they vote for Trump,” he said. “But if they vote for Hillary it's war. It will be a short movie. There will be Hiroshimas and Nagasakis everywhere."

Read the rest

U.S. accuses Russia of trying to “interfere with the U.S. election” through internet attacks

“We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities,” said a statement today from the Obama administration about a series of cyberattacks on U.S. political figures and organizations.

Them's fightin' words.

Read the rest

Russia abruptly halts nuclear and energy-related research pact with U.S.

Welp, this does not sound good.

Cooperation between the United States and Russia hit a serious new snag today when the government of Donald Trump's personal hero Vladimir Putin put the brakes on an agreement with the United States in nuclear energy.

On Wednesday, Russian officials announced suspension of a nuclear research agreement, and the termination of a another agreement on uranium conversion.

Read the rest

Trump campaign chairman paid $12.7m by Ukraine government in secret ledger

Paul Manafort, the campaign chairman of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, received $12.7m in secret cash payments as a consultant for Ukraine's ruling political party, according to a ledger seen by the New York Times.

And Mr. Manafort’s presence remains elsewhere here in the capital, where government investigators examining secret records have found his name, as well as companies he sought business with, as they try to untangle a corrupt network they say was used to loot Ukrainian assets and influence elections during the administration of Mr. Manafort’s main client, former President Viktor F. Yanukovych.

Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials.

Trump, himself a millionaire, has been vocally and some say oddly solicitous toward Russia and its strongman leader, Vladimir Putin. Manafort is plainly denying the NYT's report, or at least the part of it where he pockets $12.7m. With his ties to one of Putin's stickier tentacles exposed, though, rival candidate Hillary Clinton is becoming more forceful about demanding answers.

Donald Trump's campaign team must disclose all pro-Russia links, Hillary Clinton's manager has said, following new allegations in the New York Times. ... It said Ukraine's National Anti-Corruption Bureau had discovered the listed payments in the ledgers of Mr Yanukovych's then governing Party of the Regions - allegedly part of "an illegal off-the-books system".

Read the rest

FBI: Russia hacked DNC. US officials: Electing Trump, crushing Clinton was Putin's goal.

Did Vladimir Putin order the Russian government to hack the Democratic National Committee, obtaining emails that Wikileaks has since released, to take down Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US Presidential elections?

That’s the theory that emerged rapidly inside American intelligence and law enforcement agencies since the 20,000 leaked internal DNC emails spread throughout the internet, just before the beginning of the party's convention in Philadelphia.

Read the rest

Happy Putants

Read the rest

Interview with Pussy Riot about new video

Pussy Riot’s leader, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, spoke with the Daily Beast about their new music video, which makes fun of the Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Y. Chaika.

“My American friend [Dave Sitek, who produced the video song] suggested that this time we do hip-hop, the genre originally rooted in gangster culture,” said NT. “So in the film we have a criminal, the biggest gangster there is in Russia: Prosecutor General Yuri Y. Chaika.”

[Tolokonnikova] plays a rather special version of Chaika. She wears a tight uniform, fishnet stockings, and patent pink high heels that sharpen her long legs. Over and over she sings Chaika’s rules: “Be loyal to those in power, because power is a gift from God, son. I love Russia. I’m a patriot.”

The words come straight from Chaika’s declarations after members of the Russian opposition investigated him and leveled against him allegations of massive corruption and connections with organized crime.

Read the rest

Putin: Give Sepp Blatter the Nobel; Trump should be president

Ole Vlad's figured out how to troll the west: celebrate corrupt, populist strongmen who brazenly lie while fronting for the rich and powerful. Read the rest

We laugh, but Putin's hilariously macho photos help him "stay in power"

Amanda Taub and Johnny Harris analyze the bizarrely-staged photo ops in which the Russian president is seen to enjoy a "Walter Mitty-esque fantasy life" where he "subdues tigers, rides horses, and communes with dolphins:" this is politics in Russia.

It's a reminder to the Russian public — and to the Russian elite, whose support Putin relies on — that Putin is healthy, he is in control, and he is going to stay that way. All of that matters a great deal in Russia. Russian political power is centralized with Putin, and if he were to suddenly die or become ill, it's not at all clear what would happen next. … Photos of Putin looking shirtless, healthy, and powerful are a way to reassure the public that there's no need to worry. If Putin is fine, then Russia is fine. But consider the implication of that assertion: if Putin is not fine, then neither is Russia. The scary part is that's probably correct.
Read the rest

Putin foe's grave sudden illness: "spoiled yogurt" or "something else" to blame

My bet is on "something else."

Vladimir Putin takes the gloves off

In a virulently anti-Western and uncharacteristically blunt speech, Russian spy-turned-president Vladimir Putin set out his agenda for Russia and its relationship to "western elites." The speech wasn't widely reported in the west, but Dmitry Orlov has helpfully translated, transcribed and summarized it. Read the rest

Russia's population declined by 7m (5%) between 1992 and 2009

The decades since the collapse of the USSR are the longest period of depopulation in Russian history, and the first peacetime loss of that scale anywhere in the world. Booze, violence, obesity, and poor standard of living alone don't account for the mortality either. Read the rest

More posts