In a move absolutely no one expected because things like this never happen after high-profile incidents of mass violence, Russian President Vladimir Putin today "urged closer cooperation between other countries' security services after the Boston Marathon bombings," reports CNN
, Said Putin, "If we combine our efforts, we will not suffer blows like that." [CNN.com] — Xeni
The bizarre explosion in the skies over in Russia on Feb. 15, 2013 left scientists dumfounded. The asteroid 2012 DA14 was expected
to pass some 17K miles over Indonesia, but the Russian impactor wasn't foreseen: it flew from the direction of the sun where telescopes couldn't see it, and surprised everyone hours before the more-publicized asteroid's flyby.
A NASA news item today explains how scientists are piecing together what happened, using infrasound sensors operated by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).
Read the rest
A meteor has exploded over
, a remote part of Russia 150km north of Kazahstan. The meteor's descent was captured by many video cameras (largely the ubiquitous Russian dashboard cams, it seems). There are no reports of deaths, but apparently there are now 400 reported injuries. At least one large building, a zinc factory, had its roof demolished by the explosion.
A witness in Chelyabinsk reported hearing a huge blast early in the morning and feeling a shockwave in a 19-storey building in the town centre.
The sounds of car alarms and breaking windows could be heard in the area, the witness said, and mobile phones were working intermittently. "Preliminary indications are that it was a meteorite rain," an emergency official told RIA-Novosti. "We have information about a blast at 10,000-metre altitude. It is being verified."
"I was driving to work, it was quite dark, but it suddenly became as
bright as if it was day," said Viktor Prokofiev, a 36-year-old resident of
Yekaterinburg in the Urals mountains.
"I felt like I was blinded by headlights," he told Reuters.
Meteorite explosion over Russia injures hundreds [The Guardian]
This is the creation of Mikhail Smolyanov, whose concept bike designs are, to a one, wonderful to behold. Funnily nostalgic, gloriously impractical, and beautifully rendered.
From Art Lebedev studios, the "octopus" plunger, which creates the amusing illusion of a tentacled poop-monster's questing appendage reaching up out of the pan.
From English Russia, original source unknown, "These are the Chechen homemade guns. There is a risk that the war will never end if they use such weapons..." No way to tell how accurate that description is -- Chechens are such bogeymen in the Russian press-pantheon that I always take anything ascribed to them with a grain of salt.
Assorted Russia, Part 65 (some NSFW stuff on this page)
Syria's brutal Assad regime has damned few allies left in the world, but one of them, Russia, is governed by a dirty-tricking ruling elite who've made a science out of manipulating Internet opinion. This may explain the weird, stilted pro-Assad astroturf army who appear in any discussion of the regime's atrocities to explain that it's all a Jewish conspiracy.
And on like that. SyriaTribune maintains a YouTube channel stocked with clips from — surprise — Vladimir Putin’s Russia Today portraying Assad as the victim of a bloody-minded western conspiracy. A self-described French intellectual named Thierry Meyssan — author of 9/11 The Big Lie — reveals that TV images purporting to show Assad’s massacres of civilians were prepared by the CIA, along with White House deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes, and “aims at demoralizing the Syrians in order to pave the way for a coup d’etat.” The #FakeRevolution hashtag on Instagram provides pictorial, meme-filled boosterism for Bashar, like a screengrab from Time’ app kindly telling user mybubb1e to stop voting for Assad for Person of the Year or Hillary Clinton with flames shooting out of her eyes and ear, courtesy of Bashar4Ever.
Meet the Assadosphere, the Online Defenders of Syria’s Butcher [Spencer Ackerman/Wired]
Security researcher Brian Krebs picks out some choice exchanges out of a dump from an elite Russian spammer message-board, and suggests that this contains clues to the identities of the world's most prolific spammers.
“Everything is all right with John. We drank with him recently in Europe. He is getting married soon. He is no longer spamming stocks. He got squeezed [arrested/questioned] once very badly some time ago. Now he is all clean. His friend – SP – screwed him and also is not working with stocks now. Rin is in total shit. He is going to be in jail (or he is going to be hiding) for a long time. He calls me pretty often, so he is alive so far. I am helping his wife with money from time to time.”
The two exchange recommendations about their favorite nightclubs in St. Petersburg, Russia. Tarelka inquires how Severa is doing, which elicits the following reply:
“I am okay. Damn, where to find sponsors? I am sure I can spin off stocks even in the current market. Are there any more contacts? Maybe I will ask Apple. Maybe he can give me some referrals. Who could think two years ago that this “theme” would die, huh? Give my regards to Igor [possibly Igor Gusev, the co-curator of SpamIt]. I wish you luck and patience.”
Tarelka says he tried to convince John/Apple that there was still money to be made in stock spam, but that John insisted the market was dead, and that no one was coming forward to pay spammers to send pump-and-dump spam anymore.
A Closer Look at Two Bigtime Botmasters
Brian Krebs has published an ad from "Foreign Agents," a notorious Russian crime service. They're advertising the availability of foot soldiers in the USA who can help cash out hacked bank accounts and credit cards. Unlike traditional bank-fraud mules, who don't know that they're part of a scam, these "associates" are "неразводные" ("nerazvodni" or "not deceived").
The proprietors of this service say it will take 40-45 percent of the value of the theft, depending on the amount stolen. In a follow Q&A with potential buyers, the vendors behind this service say it regularly moves $30,000 – $100,000 per day for clients. Specifically, it specializes in cashing out high-dollar bank accounts belonging to hacked businesses, hence the mention high up in the ad of fraudulent wire transfers and automated clearinghouse or ACH payments (ACH is typically how companies execute direct deposit of payroll for their employees).
According to the advertisement, customers of this service get their very own login to a remote panel, where they can interact with the cashout service and monitor the progress of their thievery operations. The service also can be hired to drain bank accounts using counterfeit debit cards obtained through ATM skimmers or hacked point-of-sale devices. The complicit mules will even help cash out refunds from phony state and federal income tax filings — a lucrative form of fraud that, according to the Internal Revenue Service, cost taxpayers $5.2 billion last year.
Say what you will about their criminal tendencies, those bank robbers have excellent art direction.
Online Service Offers Bank Robbers for Hire
In the NYT, a piece by Sophia Kishkovsky
on Svetlana Kuritsyna, "the very antithesis" of the imprisoned protest-art group Pussy Riot. Sveta is described as "a disarmingly direct, red-cheeked, 20-year-old Putin supporter from an impoverished rural region" who stands out "for her very normality and has become an accidental celebrity after an innocent, and somewhat inarticulate, video interview in which she glowingly praised Mr. Putin." The clip became a meme, with more than 2 million YouTube views, she now has her own reality show. — Xeni
Here's Dmitry Golubovskiy, CEO of Esquire Russia, reading the longest word in Englis. It's the chemical name for titin, and it runs to 189,819 letters. It takes him 3:33 to read the whole thing. Here's a bit of it:
The Longest Word in English (Pronounced)
In our Epic Halloween DIY Costume
thread, Boing Boing reader Becca Tarvin shares
of a gang of revelers dressed as Russian art-provocateur-heroes Pussy Riot
On Retronaut, Viktor Bulla's "Pioneers defense drill, Leningrad." It dates from 1937, four years before the Siege of Leningrad, and that makes the weirdness vivid and poignant. So many of the children here would have died in the Siege, or lived through it in the civil defense force, eating wallpaper paste and digging trenches. How brave and ready they must have felt in 1937, though.
Pioneers defense drill, Leningrad
Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova have been sent to regions known for hosting Russia's harshest hard-labor camps, places that once served as Soviet gulags. The 24 and 22 year old mothers -- who performed a song protesting the Russian Orthodox Church's connection to the Putin regime in a cathedral -- have been sentenced to two years of hard labor. Though the regions to which they've been dispatched is known, no one -- not even their families -- has been allowed to know exactly which prison-camps they are incarcerated in. The Guardian's Miriam Elder reports from Moscow:
"These are the harshest camps of all the possible choices," the band said via its Twitter account on Monday.
...Confusion reigned on Monday as relatives and lawyers tried to assess exactly where the women were sent. Both Perm and Mordovia host several prison camps, some of which comprised the Soviet-era gulag system. Prison authorities declined to comment on the women's whereabouts.
Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova had petitioned to serve their sentences in Moscow, arguing that they wanted to be close to their children. Alyokhina has a five-year-old son named Filipp, while Tolokonnikova has a four-year-old daughter named Gera.
Pussy Riot band members sent to remote prison camps
(Image: Free Pussy Riot Posters & Designs 07, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from centralasian's photostream)