Russian fighter jet intercepts US Navy plane, putting US crew "at risk"

A Russian fighter jet intercepted a US Navy plane this morning over the Black Sea, an encounter that lasted for 25 minutes and put put the US crew in danger.

Via CNN:

...The Russian SU-27 jet passed directly in front of the US EP-3 aircraft at a high speed, the officials said. The US crew reported turbulence following that initial interaction in which the direct pass occurred.

The SU-27 then made a second pass of the US plane and applied its afterburner while conducting a banking maneuver, which is believed to have caused a vibration that was experienced by the American crew.

And according to the US Navy, "This interaction was determined to be unsafe due to the SU-27 conducting a high speed pass directly in front of the mission aircraft, which put our pilots and crew at risk. The intercepting SU-27 made an additional pass, closing with the EP-3 and applying its afterburner while conducting a banking turn away. The crew of the EP-3 reported turbulence following the first interaction, and vibrations from the second."

WTF??

Image: US Navy Read the rest

Antarctica: Scientist stabs colleague who kept spoiling the endings of books for him

Russians, obviously. Read the rest

What 'Independence Day' Is Like In Transnistria, An Unrecognized Country Inside Moldova

Transnistria, officially the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, is an Eastern European territory with a strong Soviet vibe. Technically, the country does not exist. Transnistria is considered a part of the Republic of Moldova, and isn't an officially recognized nation of its own, despite declaring independence in 1990, followed by a war in 1992. I attended this year's Independence Day celebrations in Transnistria, hoping to understand what the place and the people are all about. Here's what I saw. Read the rest

Rocket failure forces emergency landing by joint American-Russian crew

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin were forced to make an emergency landing in Kazakhstan this morning during their attempted trip to the International Space Station. The duo were on board a Russian-built Soyuz rocket, launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan when, according to early reports from NASA, the rocket's booster failed minutes after liftoff.

NASA reported in a tweet that the “...Soyuz capsule is returning to Earth via a ballistic descent, which is a sharper angle of landing compared to normal.” A search and rescue team was deployed to pick up the astronaut and cosmonaut from the capsule's landing site, approximately 12 miles east of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, will be conducting a formal investigation into what went wrong with their rocket.

Scary shit. Read the rest

A portrait of Maria Butina, as told through the accused Russian agent's social media profiles

NPR reporters poked around in Maria Butina's social media world, looking at the accused Russian agent's thousands of social media friends and reaching out to over 200 individuals. The resulting investigative report paints a portrait of Butina's life, from Siberia, to the tight-knit Moscow pro-guns shooting community, to D.C, Las Vegas, Washington state, and South Dakota. Read the rest

Russian agents allegedly tried to hack lab associated with Skirpal poisoning investigation

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has been elbows-deep in the investigation of the Novichok nerve agent attack on Sergei and Yulia Skirpal. As part of their investigation into where the nerve agent may have originated, the OPCW sent samples of the chemical weapon to a number of independent labs.

Using multiple labs provides a fail safe against false positive results and bias – two things you'd want to avoid considering the fact that the results of the tests could trigger a significant international incident. One of the labs that the OPCW may have used (I mean, they're not going to come right out and say that this is where they're sending dangerous shit) was Switzerland's Spiez Laboratory. Since Russia has denied that it had any role in the poisoning of the Skirpals and the other collateral victims of the Novichok attack, it's really really surprising to be surprised by the surprise expulsion of two Russian intelligence agents (surprise!) from The Hague, where OPCW is based. Apparently, they were trying to tinker with Spiez Laboratory's computers.

From NPR:

Swiss and Dutch authorities did not immediately respond to NPR's request for comment. Andreas Bucher, a spokesperson for Spiez Laboratory, also declined to comment on the deportations. However, he confirms the laboratory's computer systems have been probed by unknown hackers in recent months.

"We've had indications that we were in the crosshairs," Bucher says. No data has been stolen from the lab, he adds.

Although Spiez Laboratory has not officially acknowledged receiving a sample, it is widely believed to have done so, according to Jean Pascal Zanders, an independent chemical weapons expert based in France.

Read the rest

Russia's growing anti-Putin vanguard is young and fearless

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the political opposition who showed up in Russia's streets was old and grey: people who had lived through the Soviet era and then watched as their state industries and national wealth were looted by oligarchs, and who wanted an equitable system with broadly shared prosperity. Read the rest

Paul Manafort, Trump’s ex-campaign chairman, pleads guilty + will cooperate with Mueller investigation

President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is pleading guilty to two criminal charges under plea deal terms to include his cooperation as a witness in the investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Read the rest

Accused Russian agent Maria Butina will remain in jail, U.S. judge rules

A U.S. judge ruled Monday that the accused Russian military operative Maria Butina must remain in jail, saying she poses a “very real risk of flight,” and also granted the government prosecutors' request for a gag order in the high-stakes case. Read the rest

Russian feminist blogger faces 5 years for "inciting hatred" against men

Kazakh blogger Lyubov Kalugina has been charged under Russia's Article 282, an "anti-extremism" law now being used by men who claim women sharing jokes and memes offend them. Via Quartz: Read the rest

George Papadopoulos gets 14 days in jail, former Trump campaign adviser must also pay $9,500 fine

Former Trump campaign adviser (and coffee boy) George Papadopoulos was sentenced to 14 days in jail, a year of supervised release, 200 hours of community service, and a $9,500 fine after pleading guilty to lying to federal agents in connection with the Russia investigation. Read the rest

Devin Nunes flew to London to get info on ex-spy who wrote Trump dossier: Reports

Congressman Devin Nunes, who is an oddly enthusiastic supporter of President Donald Trump's personal legal interests and chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, unsuccessfully tried to meet the leaders of Britain’s three intelligence agencies on a recent trip to London, report multiple news agencies today citing sources familiar with Nunes' travel schedule. Read the rest

Yevgeniy Nikulin, Russian charged in 2012 LinkedIn & DropBox hacks, now of 'great interest' in Mueller probe

Why does the Russian embassy want to visit accused hacker Yevgeniy Nikulin so very badly, lawyers ask. Good question. Read the rest

Britain is a money-launderer's paradise, Part LXII

Paul Manafort's money-laundering conviction makes a convenient peg to hang Buzzfeed's investigation into shell companies in the UK off of; and what their excellent reporting reveals is a playground for money-launderers who operate in the most brazen way, using a complex system of shell companies all over the world, but using the UK as the the lynchpin for their schemes. Read the rest

Former NSA contractor Reality Winner sentenced to 5+ years in prison for leaking secret report on Russian election hacking to The Intercept

Former Air Force language specialist and intelligence contractor Reality Winner has been sentenced to 63 months in prison. Read the rest

'Too Late to Protect 2018 Elections,' says Alex Stamos, former Facebook CSO

The latest read from Alex Stamos bears an appropriately grim title. Read the rest

The true story of Notpetya: a Russian cyberweapon that escaped and did $10B in worldwide damage

Andy Greenberg (previously) is a veteran Wired security reporter who has chronicled the frightening and chaotic world of cyberwar since its earliest days; in a forthcoming book called "Sandworm," Greenberg tells the fascinating and terrible tale of Notpetya (previously), a Russian cyberweapon (built on leaked NSA cyberweapons!) that disguised itself as criminal ransomware, but which was designed to identify and destroy key Ukrainian computer systems and networks. Read the rest

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