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.”

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

The best dystopian fiction you'll ever read

Russian science fiction authors Boris and Arkady Strugatsky created worlds and shared stories so fantastic, so well imagined, and so terrifyingly believable their work may create an existential crisis in even the most solidly confident individual. It has long been a challenge to find their work in English but a translation of The Doomed City, long considered their magnum opus, is finally available.

Read the rest

Moose warms face with car exhaust

On a brisk wintry day, this clever moose decided to use a car's exhaust to get a faceful of warm air. The best part is the car owner who keeps scraping his windshield. Read the rest

How governments and cyber-militias attack civil society groups, and what they can do about it

The University of Toronto's Citizen Lab (previously) is one of the world's leading research centers for cybersecurity analysis, and they are the first port of call for many civil society groups when they are targeted by governments and cyber-militias. Read the rest

The hacker who took over San Francisco's Muni got hacked

Last week, the San Francisco Municipal Light Rail system (the Muni) had to stop charging passengers to ride because a ransomware hacker had taken over its network and encrypted the drives of all of its servers. Read the rest

Snowden's lawyer says he'll testify about German surveillance...if Germany gets him safe passage out of Russia

An official German government committee of inquiry investigating the illegal surveillance that Edward Snowden revealed has asked Snowden to testify before it, the German Federal Court of Justice has ordered the German government to offer Snowden safe passage to Germany to do so, or admit to illegal spying. Read the rest

Russia reveals that it "was in contact" with Trump's campaign during race

Now that Trump's elected, those to whom debts are owed can start fucking with him. Took it all of a day for one to get started!

Russia said it was in contact with President-elect Donald Trump’s team during the U.S. election campaign, despite repeated denials by the Republican candidate’s advisers that any links existed. “There were contacts” before the election, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Thursday, according to the Interfax news service. “We continue this work of course,” he said, without giving details of what the contacts were.

Bonus points to Ryabkov for the ostentatious ambiguity. It's like something from a 1970s Hollywood movie about a secret technology that makes Americans scared of radio waves in the 650nm range: “We continue this work of course.”

In The Guardian, a "pro-Kremlin political analyst" quoted as saying "maybe we helped a bit with WikiLeaks" is getting a lot of play, too. This fits the pre-election suspicions of U.S. intelligence, but that job title means he's just a blogger/pundit type. Read the rest

Mysterious snowballs appear on Siberian beach

The Gulf of Ob is a remote Siberian reach of the Russian empire, and its beaches are covered in gigantic snowballs up to a meter across. The BBC reports that they're the result of a "rare environmental process where small pieces of ice form, are rolled by wind and water, and end up as giant snowballs." (Photo: SERGEI BYCHENKOV) Read the rest

Photos of daily life in the coldest city on earth

Yakutsk (pop. 269,601), the capital city of the Sakha Republic in Russia, is the coldest city on earth, where temperatures can drop to -50 degrees Celsius (-58 degrees Fahrenheit). Lonely Planet has a galley of photos by Amos Chapple. (Photo here is by Maarten Takens from Flickr) Read the rest

Learn the Russian alphabet in ten minutes

With Putin and Russia in the news more and more thanks to Trump and Steven Seagal, maybe it's high time to learn how to pronounce Russian text. Thanks to the instructor's lovely accent in this ten-minute tutorial, you'll be pronouncing (if not understanding) in short order. Read the rest

Putin grants Russian citizenship to Steven Seagal

Russian premier Vladimir Putin welcomes a new Russian to the motherland: Steven Seagal, the martial artist, ponytail aficionado, and star of countless popular action movies.

"He has made requests about citizenship for a long time and quite persistently," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by news agency RIA Novosti.

Under the Russian constitution, the president has authority over "issues of citizenship of the Russian Federation and the granting of asylum."

That means that Seagal automatically became a Russian citizen as soon as the decree was published, and he doesn't have to officially accept it. There was no immediate known reaction from Seagal.

I made a Steven Seagal movie generator once, but other people have made better ones since. Read the rest

More posts