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Putin ready to sue: Harry Potter's Dobby looks too much like me


(Warner Bros/Sasha Mordovets and Getty)

Russian lawyers are reportedly planning to sue Warner Bros because Dobby the House Elf from the Harry Potter movies looks too much like Vladimir Putin.

Update: It's from 2003. My bad.

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Bent book bookends


Дмитрий Куляев's "Books" is a set of bookends made from mutated, bent hardcovers, or reasonable facsimiles thereof. No indication if they ever went into production or were just one-offs (to be honest, they might even be renders -- can you tell from the pixels?). He's got some other nice pieces -- check out the bulletproof vest and cold arms.

Books (via That Book Smell)

Massive hovercraft lands on crowded beach

Sunbathers on Russia's Baltic Coast were surprised by massive hovercraft landing on the beach. According to BBC News, Russian authorities said this was part of a "routine training exercise."

Russian Pastafarian parade disrupted by cops, Orthodox hooligans


Robbo sez, "Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster members who held a procession in Moscow were dispersed by riot police and Orthodox activists; some were detained for holding an 'unsanctioned rally.' Best quote in the news post: 'We were detained for simply walking,' a message posted by another Pastafarian said. 'In particular, I was taken in for a sieve on my head.'

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Truckload of gas cylinders explodes 39 times

On a Russian highway, a truck filled with propane cylinders explodes 39 times, boom, boom, boom, each explosion more spectacular than the last.

Взрыв газели с балонами на МКАДе (via Kottke)

Court finds for man who rewrote the credit-card fine-print to give himself unlimited, interest-free credit


A wily Russian fellow crossed out the fine-print on an unsolicted credit-card application from Tinkoff Credit Systems in 2008 and wrote in his own terms, giving himself unlimited, interest-free credit and exemption from all fees, with a 3MM ruble fee should the bank change the terms and a 1MM ruble fee should they cancel his card. He crossed out the URL giving the terms and conditions and wrote in his own. And a court has ruled that his changes -- which were blindly accepted by the bank -- are binding. He's now suing them for breach of contract, since they refused to pay him the cancellation fee he'd written in -- he's seeking USD727,000.

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Stephen Fry to David Cameron and IOC: a Russian 2014 Olympics would be a repeat of the 1936 Berlin games


Comedian and national treasure Stephen Fry has written an open letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron and the International Olympic Committee calling on them to move the upcoming Winter Olympics from Russia to another country, specifically, any country in which homosexuality is not criminalized and LGBT people are not violently scapegoated as they are in Russia. Vladimir Putin recently rammed through legislation that bans being gay, talking about being gay, or advocating for the rights of LGBT people, and violent gangs routinely and savagely attack LGBT people, with impunity. Vicious practices like "corrective rape" and murder are ignored by the police. Fry compares bringing the Olympics to Russia in 2014 to cowardice that led to the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which legitimized Hitler and the Nazis on the global stage.

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Statue of Stalin to be reinstated in Gori, Georgia


A statue of Josef Stalin in his hometown of Gori, Georgia, pulled down in 2010, will be re-erected, thanks to prime-minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, a billionaire who is friendly to Russia.

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Cyber-crooks mail heroin to Brian Krebs


Brian Krebs is a security expert and investigative journalist who has published numerous ground-breaking stories about the online criminal underground, much to the consternation of the criminal underground. Krebs has been the victim of much harassment, including a dangerous SWATting (where someone called a SWAT team to Krebs's door, having told them that an armed gunman was inside).

Most recently, a Russian crook called Flycracker crowdfunded the purchase of a gram of heroin on the Silk Road, which he mailed to Krebs, having first called the cops to alert them that Krebs was a narcotics trafficker. Luckily for Krebs, he lurks in the same forums in which this was planned, and knew of it in advance and tipped off the local cops and the FBI.

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What happened to other Americans who fled to Russia?

Hopefully, Edward Snowden's sojourn in Russia will go better than most of the historic examples of Americans defecting to that country. Maggie 24

Which three Russian authors did Edward Snowden's lawyer place on his reading list?

Attorney Anatoly Kucherena met with NSA leaker Edward Snowden in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport Wednesday. The Russian lawyer is helping the ex-intel contractor with his Russian asylum request. Kucherena left a brown paper shopping bag behind, and the NYT's Robert Mackey writes that this bag contained "a change of clothes and English translations of books by three Russian authors — Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Anton Chekhov and Nikolai Karamzin — that might help Mr. Snowden, an American, learn about the nation around the airport he has been trapped in for the past month." Xeni 6

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - “Nightwater Girlfriend” (free MP3)

Sound it Out # 54: Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - “Nightwater Girlfriend” (free MP3)

Naming your band after a Russian political leader does not necessarily get you noticed in his home country, but it eventually did for Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. The Boris Yeltsin Foundation has been following the Springfield, MO band’s consistently lovely music-making for years, and invited them to visit the motherland as headliners of the Old New Rock Festival in Yekaterinburg, Russia this past January.

Once the band accepted the gig, the U.S. consulate in Yekaterinburg named them cultural ambassadors to Russia for a day. SSLYBY performed at a local high school and answered questions about being an American rock band. There’s a forthcoming documentary about this trip called “Discussions with Russians”.

Where do you go from there? SSLYBY returned to Missouri in the spring and wrote/recorded a new record in guitarist Will Knauer’s parents’ attic. It’s called Fly By Wire and is full of deliciously earnest pop gems like “Nightwater Girlfriend”, which you can download below.

Obama to Putin, on the phone (probably): Dude, don't even think about granting Snowden asylum


Photo by Polona Frelih, of Delo.si, who attended a closed-door meeting held by Snowden with human rights NGOs today at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport.

About that phone call between the presidents of the US and Russia, held just hours after fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden met with NGO reps and a Wikileaks spokesperson in a Moscow airport to announce he would seek asylum in Russia:

"The two leaders noted the importance of U.S.-Russian bilateral relations and discussed a range of security and bilateral issues, including the status of Mr. Edward Snowden and cooperation on counter-terrorism in the lead-up to the Sochi Winter Olympics," read a White House statement.

The Sochi Olympics in Russia are next year. And Putin will be hosting Obama in Russia for the G20 leaders summit in less than two months.

Video from Edward Snowden's statement in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport

At YouTube, Cryptome has published a 30-second video of the conference Edward Snowden held in Moscow today. The video first surfaced on Russia's Life News website, which did not name the source for this clip. Notable because no press were permitted inside, and no video was allowed.

Obama to pressure Putin to give up Snowden; White House says he's "not a dissident"


White House spokesperson Jay Carney.

"Mr. Snowden is not a human rights activist or dissident," White House spokesman Jay Carney said today, adding that "providing a propaganda platform" for the National Security Agency leaker was "counter to the Russian government's previous declarations of Russia’s neutrality."

Previously, the US Ambassador to Russia is reported to have said the administration believes he's no whistleblower, either.

Snowden invited human rights groups to a meeting in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport earlier today to announce his plans to seek asylum in Russia. A Wikileaks representative was at his side.

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