US officials totally cool with classified surveillance leaks, long as it fits their story

Russian Military investigators stand near  debris of a Russian airliner at its crash site in north Egypt, Nov. 1, 2015. REUTERS

In the past few days there have been a flurry of stories about the Russian plane that crashed in the Sinai peninsula, which investigators reportedly think may have been caused by a bomb. Notably, anonymous US officials have been leaking to journalists that they believe ISIS is involved, and it’s a perfect illustration of the US government’s rank hypocrisy when it comes to the Edward Snowden disclosures.

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Bizarre brutalist and experimental Soviet bus stops


Over the course of 12 years, photographer Christopher Herwig traveled more than 18,000 miles around Eastern Europe to photograph the incredible, brutalist, experimental, and downright bizarre bus stops built during the Communist era. He compiled the results into a new book titled Soviet Bus Stops.

“I’d never seen such a variety of creative expression applied to a public structures before,” Herwig told Vantage. “The designers pushed the limits of their imaginations. They did not hold back and sometimes, maybe, even they went too far...These bus stops are less about the Soviet Union as a whole and more about the local regions and individual artists … people who were often creatively oppressed.”

Soviet Bus Stops (Amazon)

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Refugee family lives in airport

Hassan Abdo Ahmed Mohammed, his wife, and four children escaped the Syrian civil war to settle in Russia. The Kurdish family landed in Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport but the Russian government says the family's visas are fake. If they return to Syria, they may be killed. So they have been living in the airport for 50 days while lawyers try to sort out their status. UNICEF brings them food and, a week ago, the United Nations and an NGO convinced Russian authorities to permit them to spend their nights in a terminal hotel room. From CNN:

Mohammed thinks Russia's close ties with the embattled Syrian government are interfering with his plans to enter Russia.

"Russia has a very strong relation with the Syrian regime, and they don't want to encourage Syrians to leave the country," he said.

Mohammed's lawyer said the Syrian government checked out their passports and said they were authentic. Russian authorities are now investigating the the passports, the lawyer said, and should come to a decision soon.

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Can you make your own wearable video-graffiti beamer?


Adafruit Industries takes a fascinated look at the VIDEOBLLST_R, an arm-mounted electronic buckler that projects line-art on any night-time surface you aim it at, giving you the power to produce video graffiti on demand. Read the rest

Our favorite photos of Vladimir Putin cuddling adorable soft fuzzy animals


The authoritarian leader of Russia sure knows how to look good cuddling adorable soft fuzzy animals. Here is proof.

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Mysterious dead creature found near the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant


A woman in Sosnovy Bor, Russia found this mysterious, tiny, deteriorated creature on a river bank. She named it Kesha. Read the rest

Russian government backs down on Wikipedia censorship


"Because the Wikimedia Foundation uses HTTPS-encrypted connections for all of its sites," reports Parker Higgins, "the government was left with only the option of ordering the entire site blocked, or leaving the offending page accessible." Read the rest

Spear phishers with suspected ties to Russian government spoof fake EFF domain, attack White House

The spear-phishing attempt appears to be part of "Pawn Storm," a massive attack that's been underway across the net for more than a month, and involved a rare zero-day (previously unknown) Java exploit. Read the rest

Wacky dudes in Russia open 1940s war ration can and eat it because Russia


According to the uploader's description, these jolly Russian gentlemen here are opening what is identified as a 70-year-old package of Soviet fighter pilot war chow.

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Yeti poses for portrait

Andrey Lyubchenko, reports The Siberian Times, encountered the creature on a trip to Yeti-infested Kemerovo. It posed for a sketch (above).

"The Yeti was about two and a half metres tall, with thick dark brown hair like a bear's - but a lot softer. He was holding a wooden stick, with bits of hair wrapped around it. But the main thing was his eyes, they were just like light-coloured human eyes."

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Defector from Kremlin's outsourced troll army wins 1 rouble in damages

Lyudmila Savchuk was fired from St Petersburg's Internet Research -- the Kremlin's troll factory -- for talking to the media about her job posting messages rubbishing Putin's opponents to Internet forums. Read the rest

WATCH: The most Russian tool of all time: the knife-flask shovel

KRPR9E After doing some digging, why not relax with some charcuterie and vodka? A knife acts as a cap for a handle flask on this clever Russian shovel.

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Russian city "bans yoga" because of "occult character"

According to the Moscow Times, yoga studios in Putinland have been told to stop hosting classes, lest they spread the occult.

One of the letters, seen by Kommersant and addressed from Nizhnevartovsk First Deputy Head Sergei Levkin to the head of social and youth policy Marianna Parfenova asks that she take all necessary measures to stop Hatha yoga lessons from taking place at the stadium.

The move is crucial "in order to prevent the spread of new religious cults and movements," reads the letter.

A second letter, sent to the heads of the departments for physical culture and education, refers to Hatha yoga as "inextricably linked to religious practices" and as having "an occult character," Kommersant reported Friday.

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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.
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CNN interview with author of discredited Sunday Times story on Snowden is painful to watch

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If you haven't seen it, you owe it to yourself to do so now.

Russia's troll factory

An outstanding expose of Internet Research Agency, a St Petersburg, Russia-based army of trolls for hire who post pro-Kremlin messages to comment forums all day. Read the rest

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

My bet is on "something else."

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