The hacker who took over San Francisco's Muni got hacked

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Last week, the San Francisco Municipal Light Rail system (the Muni) had to stop charging passengers to ride because a ransomware hacker had taken over its network and encrypted the drives of all of its servers. Read the rest

Snowden's lawyer says he'll testify about German surveillance...if Germany gets him safe passage out of Russia

An official German government committee of inquiry investigating the illegal surveillance that Edward Snowden revealed has asked Snowden to testify before it, the German Federal Court of Justice has ordered the German government to offer Snowden safe passage to Germany to do so, or admit to illegal spying. Read the rest

Russia reveals that it "was in contact" with Trump's campaign during race

Illo: Rob Beschizza  / Photo: Kremlin.ru

Now that Trump's elected, those to whom debts are owed can start fucking with him. Took it all of a day for one to get started!

Russia said it was in contact with President-elect Donald Trump’s team during the U.S. election campaign, despite repeated denials by the Republican candidate’s advisers that any links existed. “There were contacts” before the election, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Thursday, according to the Interfax news service. “We continue this work of course,” he said, without giving details of what the contacts were.

Bonus points to Ryabkov for the ostentatious ambiguity. It's like something from a 1970s Hollywood movie about a secret technology that makes Americans scared of radio waves in the 650nm range: “We continue this work of course.”

In The Guardian, a "pro-Kremlin political analyst" quoted as saying "maybe we helped a bit with WikiLeaks" is getting a lot of play, too. This fits the pre-election suspicions of U.S. intelligence, but that job title means he's just a blogger/pundit type. Read the rest

Mysterious snowballs appear on Siberian beach

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The Gulf of Ob is a remote Siberian reach of the Russian empire, and its beaches are covered in gigantic snowballs up to a meter across. The BBC reports that they're the result of a "rare environmental process where small pieces of ice form, are rolled by wind and water, and end up as giant snowballs." (Photo: SERGEI BYCHENKOV) Read the rest

Photos of daily life in the coldest city on earth

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Yakutsk (pop. 269,601), the capital city of the Sakha Republic in Russia, is the coldest city on earth, where temperatures can drop to -50 degrees Celsius (-58 degrees Fahrenheit). Lonely Planet has a galley of photos by Amos Chapple. (Photo here is by Maarten Takens from Flickr) Read the rest

Learn the Russian alphabet in ten minutes

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With Putin and Russia in the news more and more thanks to Trump and Steven Seagal, maybe it's high time to learn how to pronounce Russian text. Thanks to the instructor's lovely accent in this ten-minute tutorial, you'll be pronouncing (if not understanding) in short order. Read the rest

Putin grants Russian citizenship to Steven Seagal

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Russian premier Vladimir Putin welcomes a new Russian to the motherland: Steven Seagal, the martial artist, ponytail aficionado, and star of countless popular action movies.

"He has made requests about citizenship for a long time and quite persistently," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by news agency RIA Novosti.

Under the Russian constitution, the president has authority over "issues of citizenship of the Russian Federation and the granting of asylum."

That means that Seagal automatically became a Russian citizen as soon as the decree was published, and he doesn't have to officially accept it. There was no immediate known reaction from Seagal.

I made a Steven Seagal movie generator once, but other people have made better ones since. Read the rest

Leading DNS experts say they've found a secret dedicated link between Trump and a giant Russian bank

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After the DNC hack, security experts began playing close attention to the security of servers associated with the Trump campaign, on the assumption that if the Democrats had been targeted, the Republicans would be, too. Read the rest

Leaked Kremlin memos reveal plan to destabilize Ukraine

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The Kiberkhunta hacker group has dumped 2,000 messages from Putin aide Vladislav Surkov's email, including two documents related to the Kremlin's plans to consolidate their annexation of Ukraine: "Priority Action Plan to Destabilize the Social-Political Situation in Ukraine," and "Concrete Action Plan on the Promotion of the Federal Status of Zakarpattia Oblast." Read the rest

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

Vladimir Zhirinovsky Oct. 11, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev

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

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

Vladimir Putin. Photo: Reuters

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

Left-wing activists across the former USSR launch "September," to rally opposition to far-right movements

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September is a new website launched by left-wing groups in Ukraine, Belarus, and other former Soviet states, devoted to finding common cause among activists across the region (the name is a bit of an inside joke about the October, 1917 revolution, embodied in the site's strapline, "It’s not October yet, but it’s close"). Read the rest

Yahoo says hack of 500 million users "state-sponsored," but a security firm calls bullshit

Yahoo logo at Mobile World Congress in Spain. February 24, 2016. REUTERS

So, that huge hack of 500 million Yahoo user accounts last week that Yahoo blamed on a "state-sponsored actor"? A private internet security firm is calling bullshit on the "state-sponsored" part.

Read the rest

Michelle Obama's passport leaked in new hack blamed on Russia

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An image identified as a scanned copy of U.S. first lady Michelle Obama’s passport was published online today by "DC Leaks," along with personal emails associated with a man identified as a “low-level White House staffer who worked with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.”

Read the rest

Polar bears hold Russian scientists hostage on tiny Arctic island

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A group of Russian scientists have been trapped for two weeks by polar bears at an Arctic island weather station. The scientists face a month-long wait for a rescue.

Read the rest

Oppps.ru: patient zero in Russia's fake news epidemic

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Donald Trump did not slam the International Paralympic Committee's decision to bar Russian athletes from the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, and the BBC never quoted him as saying, "The decision to bar Russian Paralympics athletes was made by complete retards. These people are the real cripples." But virtually every news outlet in Russia ran a story saying both things were true, after Oppps.ru (The Optimist) ran a completely false story to that effect. Read the rest

Top Russian anti-corruption official had $120M in cash in his apartment

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Dmitry Zakharchenko, the deputy head of the Energy Industry Department of the General Administration of Economic Security and Combating the Corruption, also had €2m in cash. Read the rest

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