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

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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"

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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

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My bet is on "something else."

8-bit photo gun made from a Game Boy and a thermal printer

Stick a thermal printer, a Game Boy and a camera into an Arduino-controlled gizmo and you've got ::vtol::'s 8-bit instant photo gun. Read the rest

Laptop killing booby-trapped USB drive

The USB Killer is a booby-trapped, hand-made USB drive that will "burn down" your laptop if you insert it into your USB slot. Read the rest

Selfie-taking naked Russian guy in the snow blocks traffic

Another exemplary Russian video: dashcam, bad tempers, likely vodka abuse, and an abrupt ending leaving you wanting more. Read the rest

R2D2 handbags

These embroidered felt R2D2 handbags ($185, 17" high) are made to order in Moscow by Krukrustudio. (via Bonnie Burton) Read the rest

Pizza condoms

Marina Malygina's mock-ups for a pizza-themed condom in its own little pizza box is intended to help resolve the American love of both food and sex. Read the rest

Russia bans trans people from driving

Under an insane new Russian "safety law," people with "mental disorders" may not drive. Read the rest

The ruble is sinking almost as fast as bitcoin

The falling price of oil is causing problems for Russia's economy, says Matt O'Brien of the Washington Post. The ruble is down 50% against the dollar this year. The Russian central bank raised interest rates from 10.5 to 17 percent in an attempt to prop up the value of the ruble, but this move will "send Russia's moribund economy into a deep recession."

The only asset, and I use that word lightly, that's done worse than the ruble's 50 percent fall is Bitcoin, which is a fake currency that techno-utopians insist is the future we don't know we want. And this is only going to get worse. Russia, you see, is stuck in an economic catch-22. Its economy needs lower interest rates to push up growth, but its companies need higher interest rates to push up the ruble and make all the dollars they borrowed not worth so much. So, to use a technical term, they're screwed no matter what they do.

Sorry, Putin. Russia’s economy is doomed Read the rest

Beautiful steampunk creatures

Igor Verniy creates amazing steampunk animal junkbots from watch parts, car parts and electronic junk (here's his Etsy store); in this Bored Panda interview, he explains his process. Read the rest

Brian Krebs's "Spam Nation"

In Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime-from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door, Brian Krebs offers a fascinating look at the mass-scale cybercrime that underpins the spam in your inbox and provides an inside peek at a violent fight among its principle players. Cory Doctorow reviews.

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

Gallery of Russian criminal tattoo police file photos

A new, crowdfunded book offers one of the most comprehensive archives of the phenomenon of Russian criminal tattooing.

Lena Finkle's Magic Barrel: Bad romance, Russia and writer's angst

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Anya Ulinich's 2008 debut novel Petropolis, marked her out as a master of tragicomic romance; now she's back with a huge, hilarious, bitter graphic novel about sex, immigration, the Russian soul, and heartbreak. Cory Doctorow reviews Lena Finkle's Magic Barrel: A Graphic Novel.

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