US investigators corroborate elements of Russia dossier on Trump, CNN reports

Reporters with CNN interviewed federal investigators who confirm for the first time that some elements in that mysterious British spy's dossier on Donald Trump's Russia hijinks are legit.

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Russia's slot-machine bans let criminals buy machines on the cheap and reverse-engineer them

In 2009, then-PM Vladimir Putin engineered a Russian ban on slot machines in a bid to starve Georgian mafiyeh of funds, the resulting glut of used slots gave Russia's own criminal gangs cheap testbeds to use in a project to reverse-engineer the machines and discover their weaknesses -- now, Russian gangs roam the world's casinos, racking up careful, enormous scores. Read the rest

Chair made out of gold-plated AK-47s

Rainier Weber pays tribute to Rainier Weber with this chair, "upholstered in luxurious hand woven fabric from London and Venice" and matching lamp. The 22k-plate set is $127,000. (via Crazy Abalone) Read the rest

Lollypop Lorry - a good Ska band from Russia

Lollypop Lorry plays old-schoolish Ska music. They're from Yekaterinburg, Russia. Their music is available on Bandcamp. Read the rest

Deutsche Bank fined for laundering Russian money

U.K. and U.S. authorities fined Deutsche Bank of Germany $629 million for helping crooked Russian plutocrats move $10 billion out of Russia.

Via Bloomberg:

From April 2012 to October 2014, mirror trades were used by Deutsche Bank customers to transfer more than $6 billion from Russia, through the German lender’s arm in the U.K., to overseas bank accounts including in Cyprus, Estonia, and Latvia, the FCA said. Another nearly $4 billion in suspicious "one-sided trades" were also carried out.

The mirror trades allowed clients to buy local blue-chip shares for rubles, while the same stocks would be sold in London for dollars, in order to obtain the U.S. currency. Although such trades can be legal, there was a lack of controls in place at Deutsche Bank to prevent money laundering and other offenses.

A couple of weeks ago Western Union was fined $586 million for colluding with organized crime. The CEOs of both companies kept their jobs.

By Christoph F. Siekermann - Fotografiert am 17. September 2005, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link Read the rest

Trump to sign yet another trash executive order, this time on 'the cyber'

'President' Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order addressing cybersecurity today, Reuters reports in an item that cites "two sources familiar with the situation.” The EO is expected to be Trump's first action to address what he called a top priority of his administration during the Presidential campaign.

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Law decriminalizing wife-beating and kid-smacking sails through Russian Duma

A bill that demotes domestic violence to a civic offense has passed Russia's lower parliamentary chamber, the Duma. Read the rest

Surveillance camera vandalized in Russia

An apartment-dweller in Tver, Russia installed a video camera on his or her front door, looking out into the stairwell, then uploaded a compendium of amusing and/or interesting moments to YouTube. The neighbors seem generally hostile to surveillance, though some of them are in no condition to notice it.

Google Translate suggests the following caption: "Pensioner, hammer and inadequate man camera shot war neighbors in apartment building in Tver."

Tip: use stickers. Legal, easily carried, completely effective, no damages. Read the rest

After Trump's press-conference, a Russian journalist commiserates with his "doomed" American colleagues

Alexey Kovalev is a critical Russian journalist who's lived through Putin's gutting of the Russia's press freedoms, producing a tame, whipped domestic press who act as stenographers for Putin's annual four-hour Christmas press-conferences. Read the rest

€9m Russian loan to French far-right leader Marine Le Pen is called in

The Russian Bank Deposit Insurance Agency has demanded repayment by French National Front leader Marine Le Pen -- daughter of open neo-Nazi and party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen -- of €9m borrowed from the First Czech-Russian Bank, which is now defunct. Read the rest

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.”

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Santa teaches busy mum a lesson in charming Russian christmas ad

Enjoy Moskovskiy Kreditniy Bank's special Christmas commercial, wherein Grandfather Frost helps a businesswoman learn to appreciate her daughter and perhaps her place. [via] 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.

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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.

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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.

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Clinton campaign breaks silence, demands declassification of Russian election hack intel

As news of the CIA's assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election spreads, top Hillary Clinton adviser and likely Russian hacking victim John Podesta today publicly voiced support for a push by some members of the Electoral College to receive an intelligence briefing ahead of their formal vote next week.

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Russia hacked U.S. presidential election for Trump, says CIA

The Washington Post reported Friday evening that the CIA says Russia intervened in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to help Donald Trump win, rather than just to undermine confidence in the political system as was reported during the campaign.

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