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

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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.

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What is going on in this video of a Russian freeway incident?

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I watched this bizarre video a couple of times and couldn't figure out what's going on. I think Folderpirate on Reddit has the best theory:

The guy on the bike was in on it. It was a carjacking/kidnapping targeting the first car. Guy on bike stops traffic by trying to cross in front of mark. Mark stops. Argument ensues as cyclist smacks car/yells/is obnoxious/wont move out of way. Mark gets out of car while it's running. Two kidnapper cars come up, grab the mark and his passenger, and steal their car.

Also, the guy filming is in on it as well. He's filming this to mail it to whomever they are going to try and get money from.

There seems to be a bit more going on. Are the guys in white caps bodyguards? The car that stopped for the bike looks expensive, so maybe it belongs to an oligarch's kid who has two white-capped face-pushing goons to clear the way for him? Whatever happened, it was well planned and smoothly executed, like a scene from a thriller. Read the rest

To see the future, visit the most remote areas of the GBAO

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Jan Chipchase travelled 7,100km through the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) ("a remote, sparsely populated, mostly Pamiri, Kyrgyz-speaking region of Tajikistan") with only a small piece of hand luggage, and in those rugged, beautiful mountains, discovered 61 glimpses of the future. Read the rest

Russia's ghastly Children's Rights Commissioner finally quits

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Pavel Astakhov -- celebrity lawyer, courtroom TV star, crime novelist, reciter of impromptu religious poetry -- has finally met a scandal he couldn't laugh off: when he met with the children who'd survived a boating accident that killed 14 of their friends, he opened with "So, how was the swim?" Read the rest

Snowden publicly condemns Russia's proposed surveillance law

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Edward Snowden has taken to Twitter to condemn Russia's proposed "Yarovaya law," which provides prison sentences of 7 years for writing favorably about "extremism" on the Internet, criminalizes failure to report "reliable" information about planned attacks, and requires online providers to retain at least six months' worth of users' communications, 3 years' worth of "metadata" and to provide backdoors to decrypt this material. Read the rest

Russian bill mandates backdoors in all communications apps

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A pending "anti-terrorism" bill in the Duma would require all apps to contain backdoors to allow the secret police to spy on the country's messaging, in order to prevent teenagers from being "brainwashed" to "murder police officers." Read the rest

Security economics: black market price of hacked servers drops to $6

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A new Kaspersky report analyzes an online hacker marketplace called xDedic, where access to 70,000 hacked servers -- multiplayer game servers, billing servers, cellular/ISP servers, dating servers, betting servers, government and university servers -- in 173 countries can be bought for $6 and up. Read the rest

Russians who "like" social media posts sent to prison

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Andrei Bubeyev, a 40-year-old electrician from Russia, was sent to prison for sharing a picture of a toothpaste tube with the words: "Squeeze Russia out of yourself!" with 12 friends.

From ABC News:

In spring 2015, [Bubeyev] left town to work on a rural construction site. After investigators couldn't get through to him on the phone, they put him on a wanted list as an extremism suspect. When Bubeyev stopped by to visit his wife and young son at their country cottage, a SWAT team stormed in and arrested him.

His wife now lives alone with their 4-year-old son in a sparsely furnished apartment on the ground floor of a drab Soviet-era apartment block. After her husband was arrested, Anastasia Bubeyeva, 23, dropped out of medical school because she couldn't find affordable day care for her child, who still wears an eye patch for an injury he suffered when he bumped his head during the raid.

Several months after his arrest, Bubeyev pleaded guilty to inciting hatred toward Russians and was sentenced to a year in prison. His offense was sharing articles, photos and videos from Ukrainian nationalist groups, including those of the volunteer Azov battalion fighting Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. Among them was an article about the graves of Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine and a video describing Russia as a "fascist aggressor" and showing Russian tanks purportedly crossing into Ukraine.

Less than two weeks after the verdict, Bubeyev was charged again. This time, he was accused of calling for "acts of extremism" and "actions undermining Russia's territorial integrity." He had shared the picture of a toothpaste tube and also an article under the headline "Crimea is Ukraine" by a controversial blogger, who is in jail now, calling for military aggression against Russia.

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Plagiarism detection app vs Russia's elites: 1-2 fake PhDs discovered every day

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Dissernet, a leaderless collective of Russian scientists and journalists scrapes the doctoral dissertations of Russian elites -- who have been attaining advanced degrees at an unprecedented rate -- runs them through plagiarism detection software to flag probable frauds for human review, and publishes the names of officials who've been caught cheating, one or two every day. Read the rest

Russian Embassy in London tweets game screengrab, thinks it's real

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The Russian Embassy in London retweeted a screengrab from Command And Conquer Generals: Zero Hour along with the comment, "Extremists near Aleppo received several truckloads of chemical ammo." People replied with funny tweets.

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Russian Embassy illustrates terrorist bomb truck tweet with bomb truck from "Command and Conquer"

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"Extremists near Aleppo," tweeted the Russian Embassy in London, "received several truckloads of chemical ammo."

And just to make sure the news was sufficiently clear, they attached an image of three trucks loaded with weapons: that is, from the cartoon video game world of Command & Conquer.

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CCCP Cook Book – recipes from the days of Soviet food planners

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Fuel Publishing, based in London, has carved a niche in the book world by creating books that document the small dark corners of Soviet history. You may be familiar with the series of books, Russian Criminal Tattoos, that revealed the language of body ink and the hierarchies of gulags. CCCP Cook Book uses the same obsessive attention to detail to great effect. When your country is wholly dependent on what the obshchina (collective farm) produces, what you eat is a political act. CCCP Cook Book delves deep into the history of dishes beloved by generations of Russians evolved from both the ideal of equal for all and the realities of planned food production in a country of nearly 170 million.

Visually, CCCP Cook Book adheres to Fuel’s high-minded design aesthetic. The full-page photos that illustrate the recipes are faithfully reproduced in the faded colors and garish contrasts that plagued cookbooks (regardless of origin) throughout the mid-century period.

Knowing that “Soviet” in Russian means "assembly" helps understand that Soviet cuisine isn’t necessarily Russian food. Central planners developed recipes based on projected harvests and preserved foods. Fresh herring wasn’t available in Taskent, but tinned (preserved) fish could be distributed throughout the country. Workers were fed meals at their workplaces that helped standardize recipes, as commissary cooks were required to follow the famed manual, “Book of Tasty and Healthy Food.”

That guide purposefully adapted regional dishes into new, improved Soviet recipes. Vorschmack has its roots in Jewish cuisine, but is easily recognized today as our own deviled eggs. Read the rest

Russia bans Polish "Communist Monopoly" board-game

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Kolejka ("Queue") is a popular satirical Polish board game that lampoons life under Stalinist rule; the Russian consumer watchdog Rospotrebnadzor has banned publisher IPN, the Polish "Institute of National Remembrance," from distributing its Russian version of the game unless they remove "anti-Russian" elements that are "excessively critical" of the USSR. Read the rest

Russia moots ban on discussions about VPNs, reverse proxies, and other anti-censorship techniques

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Russian law provides for a national censorwall that entertainment companies can populate with the URLs of websites they dislike, without much oversight or review (it's similar the system used in the UK in that regard). Read the rest

Russia's military uses gigantic wooden comedy props for punishment

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Russian soldiers who screw up are made to carry gigantic wooden props that illustrate their sins: for example, if you're caught looking at your phone, you have to run around with a massive fake wooden cellphone strapped to your back until you've learned your lesson.

Other punishments include carrying massive guns made out of logs (showing up without your weapon), carrying huge logs painted to look like cigarettes (caught smoking on duty), and carrying massive log-swords (forgetting your bayonet).

Russian Army Punishments [Semper Annoying]

(via Super Punch)

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Europe and Russia just launched a Mars space mission to sniff out signs of life

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A European-Russian spacecraft headed out from our humble little planet to space today, in search for life on Mars.

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Putin orders most Russian troops out of Syria, citing “overall completion” of military goals

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 14, 2016.  REUTERS

Vladimir Putin says Russian troops will begin withdrawing from Syria starting Tuesday, the day which marks 5 years since the start of Syria's bloody civil war. Putin's pledge is a move to help advance U.N.-brokered peace talks that resumed today.

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