Under an insane new Russian "safety law," people with "mental disorders" may not drive. Read the rest
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.
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
Gautam Trivedi spotted this bit of real-world Russo-cyberpunk: a supersonic jet retired to the back yard of a stately Russian mansion. Read the rest
The decades since the collapse of the USSR are the longest period of depopulation in Russian history, and the first peacetime loss of that scale anywhere in the world. Booze, violence, obesity, and poor standard of living alone don't account for the mortality either. Read the rest
An article in The Wire, citing mostly tabloid and Ukrainian government sources, claims that locals and separatists looted the wreckage of MH17, creating difficulties for forensic investigators. Read the rest
A bot that monitors Wikipedia for edits from Russian government IPs recorded a change to the MH17 entry, assigning blame to "Ukrainian soldiers" (a previous edit had blamed it on "terrorists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic with Buk system missiles, which the terrorists received from the Russian Federation"). Read the rest
Around 11:00AM ET today, Interfax, CNN, and other news agencies began reporting that Malaysia Airlines flight 17, heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed in eastern Ukraine.
Some 280 passengers and at least 15 crew members, a total of 295 lives, are believed to have been on board the Boeing 777 passenger jet. This is the second crash involving Malaysia Airlines within the past few months.
Sergei "Fly" Vovnenko, a Russo-Ukrainian cybercrook who stalked and harassed security journalist Brian Krebs -- at one point conspiring to get him arrested by sending him heroin via the Silk Road -- has been arrested. According to Krebs, Vovnenko was a prolific credit-card crook, specializing in dumps of stolen Italian credit-card numbers, and faces charges in Italy and the USA. Krebs documents how Vovnenko's identity came to light because he installed a keylogger on his own wife's computer, which subsequently leaked her real name, which led to him. Read the rest