Russia

Once Extinct in Japan, Stork Population Soars to 100 After Gift From Russia

Once wiped out in Japan, this species of stork is slowly – but surely – returning to the skies, thanks to regional conservation biologists.

Officials at the Hyogo Park of the Oriental White Stork in Toyooka, Japan have just announced the release of a recently-raised white stork, making it the 100th white stork living free in the wild today.

Conservationists first announced the 12-year milestone on Monday.

The species in Japan became extinct…

Stephen Colbert Trolls Trump, Announces 2020 Presidential Run on Russian TV

As he revealed on Twitter in a trolltastic message to President Donald Trump on Thursday, Stephen Colbert is currently “on assignment” in Russia for an upcoming broadcast of The Late Show. While there, he also made an appearance on the Russian late-night talk show Evening Urgant, where he decided to make a very big announcement—under the assumption no one in the United States would hear about it.

Colbert joined host Ivan Urgant for a game of “Russian roulette” that included vodka shots and pickles, and made a series of toasts—in English—with each drink. “To the beautiful and friendly Russian people,” he said before downing the…

Comey: White House lied about me, FBI

Former FBI director James B. Comey on Thursday used a dramatic appearance before a national audience to sharply criticize the character of the president, accusing Trump of firing him over the Russia investigation and then misleading the public about the reasons for the dismissal.

Trump and his team, Comey said, told “lies, plain and simple,” about him and the FBI in an effort to cover up the real reason for his sudden sacking last month. Comey said that after one particularly odd private meeting with the president, he feared Trump “might lie” about the conversation, prompting him to begin taking careful notes after each encounter.

Comey revealed that after he was fired, he leaked notes on his interactions with Trump to the media, hoping that sharing the information would prompt the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the administration over possible links to Russia.

“It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” Comey said. “I was fired, in some way, to change — or the endeavor was to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.”

Comey’s testimony threatened to deepen the legal and political crisis engulfing the White House, which has struggled to respond to growing questions about the president’s conduct.

Fired FBI director James B. Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on President Trump and the FBI’s Russia probe.

“I can definitely say the president is not a liar,” said White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders after the hearing. “I think it’s frankly insulting that that question would be asked.”

Over nearly three hours of testimony in a packed hearing room, Comey grimly recounted the events that he said showed the president sought to redirect the Russia probe away from his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and get the FBI to publicly distance the president himself from the probe.

As Comey spoke, most senators on the dais sat spellbound. Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Committee sought to soften Comey’s version of events, noting that Trump never ordered him to drop the Flynn investigation but merely “hoped” he would. Democrats tried to build a case that Trump had obstructed justice by firing Comey.

Pressured by the administration to focus on the president’s legislative ambitions rather than the politically consuming investigation, Republican leaders defended the president after the hearing, with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) casting Trump as a political novice who isn’t “steeped in the long-running protocols” of Washington and is “just new to this.”

Comey declined to say whether he thought the president had obstructed justice, saying that was a determination to be made by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

In response to Comey’s testimony, Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, released a statement saying the president “never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone.”

Kasowitz also accused Comey of trying to “undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications.”

The hearing, broadcast nationally by at least 12 television networks, was held in a cavernous space in the Hart Senate Office Building with hundreds of seats to accommodate the intense interest. Several lawmakers who do not serve on the committee took seats in the audience, a rarity on Capitol Hill. Most were Democrats eager to hear Comey’s claims of presidential impropriety.

Inside the hearing room, people audibly groaned or gasped when Comey said he had “no doubt” that Russian government officials were behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee last year.

Anticipation for the hearing stretched far beyond the Hill. Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) walked into the hearing with a binder that included 20 of more than 600 questions he said were submitted to him by constituents.

Comey began his testimony by saying he became “confused and increasingly concerned” about the public explanations by White House officials for his firing on May 9, particularly after the president said in an interview that he was thinking about the Russia investigation when he decided to fire him.

The former director wasted little time repudiating White House statements that he was fired…

Russian Malware Operation Linked To Britney Spears’ Instagram

What’s hiding in your Instagram account, Britney?

Oops, they did it again. Russian hackers that is, this time hiding a sophisticated malware operation in Britney Spears’ Instagram account.

A gang of Russian hackers notorious for spying on foreign governments, diplomats and military facilities has come up with a clever back-door Trojan marriage between their operation and social media — most notably Spears’ Instagram, according to Slovakian cyber-security firm ESET, which discovered the ruse.

The account — hopefully — wasn’t being used to target victims. Rather, it was used as a kind of camouflaged command center for the Turla hacker system. Comments posted to the site linked to a central server that sent instructions and trafficked hacked stolen data to and from computers infected by malware. Hacking operations can often…

Even If Dana Rohrabacher Was a Russian Asset, Would He Know?

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher
Dana Rohrabacher leaves a House Republican Conference meeting on October 7, 2015 in Washington.

Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican who has represented Huntington Beach, California for 14 terms on Capitol Hill, has a bummer of a nickname: Putin’s Favorite Congressman. On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that, during a closed meeting of House Republicans, Representative Kevin McCarthy—another Californian and, like Rohrabacher, a stalwart ally of President Donald Trump—said (jokingly, it seems) “there’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.”

Then, on Friday, the New York Times reported that five years ago the FBI tried to tell Rohrabacher that Russian spies were literally trying to recruit him, to turn the congressman into a Russian intelligence asset. He told the Times not to worry so much: “I can’t imagine someone in a position of power in the United States government not fully appreciating the fact that whoever he’s dealing with who’s a foreigner that he doesn’t know is trying to influence him.”

No biggie! Rohrabacher is totally onto the Russian spies. And for sure, nobody is seriously claiming that Dana Rohrabacher is taking money from or giving secrets to the Russian government. Except his quote to the Times is a little scary in its predictability. Psychology and behavioral economics say that Rohrabacher almost certainly doesn’t know how compromised he might be by years of friendship and meetings with Russians. “People think other people are more vulnerable to conflict of interest than they are,” says George Loewenstein, a behavioral economist at Carnegie Mellon University. And if you show them the numbers that say everyone is vulnerable? “They say, ‘it’s statistics,’ and they always think they’re at the favorable end of the distribution.”

In this, Rohrabacher is Congress’ version of a physician getting called on by a pharmaceutical sales rep. The reps do everything from pay for super-expensive travel to conferences and big-ticket speeches all the way down to handing out pens emblazoned with drug names and buying cheap lunches. And all of it—all of it—increases the likelihood that a doctor will prescribe the drug, no matter how objectively good the drug is.

Now, this fact used to be tough to get at. Studies of conflict of interest…

Android Pay is coming to Brazil, Russia, Spain, Taiwan, and Canada

Google is expanding its Android Pay mobile payment service to more markets, saying that soon it’ll be available in Brazil, Russia, Spain, Taiwan, and Canada. The company also promised that a streamlined mobile checkout experience would be coming soon for PayPal users, building on top of Google’s existing partnerships with Visa and Mastercard.

Reports surfaced this week that Android Pay would be available in more cities. Previously, only those in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Singapore, Poland, New Zealand, Ireland, and a few others.

Android Pay launched two years ago as a competitor to Apple Pay and Samsung Pay,…

Did Russia Hack Macron? The Evidence Is Far From Conclusive

Meth Smokers Tried To Enter NSA HQ With Guns, Drugs And A Grenade, Government Claims

Leader of ‘En Marche !’ Emmanuel Macron addresses supporters after winning the French Presidential Election. Macron’s campaign was the subject of a hack, leading to a leak of 9GB of email data. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

It looks like Russia, it smells like Russia, so it’s probably Russia. So goes the current line of thinking in the security community as it tries to figure out who leaked reams of files pilfered from the campaign staff of the incoming French President Emmanuel Macron.

Take, for instance, FireEye, the cybersecurity firm credited with first identifying Democratic National Committee hackers known as APT28 and Fancy Bear as a Russian operation; that crew is now the number one suspect in the Macron attack, which saw data leaked Friday, just two days before the second round of the French election.

FireEye, as others have surmised, said the links between APT28 and the Macron hit are largely based on “TTPs” – tactics, techniques and procedures. The Macron attackers – from their phishing attempts to the public dissemination of data partly aided by Wikileaks’ Twitter account – used many of the same TTPs associated with previous APT28 activity, said FireEye’s head of cyberespionage intelligence John Hultqvist.

There were also two IP addresses both hosted in Europe, which served up phishing sites targeted at Macron’s En Marche campaign: onedrive-en-marche.fr and mail-en-marche.fr. Those sites, set up in March and April, were originally attributed by Trend Micro to Fancy Bear (which it dubbed Pawn Storm) before the leaks.

But Hultqvist could only say the attack was “probably” carried out by APT28, a group the U.S. government claimed was run out of the Kremlin’s…

Museum of Russian Icons

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Often they are images from the Gospels or of the Virgin Mary.
Many have burnished gold leaf. Shaun Ratcliffe (CC BY 2.0)
Front entrance to the Museum of Russian Icons. Vlad B (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Many icons on on wooden panels. Shaun Ratcliffe (CC BY 2.0)
Although housed in an old mill, the interior is completely renovated to show off the collections. Baseballfanatic85 (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Side and rear view, showing the modern extension. Courtesy of Dany Pelletier

The largest assemblage of Russian icons outside of Russia is not in New York or Paris or London. It’s across the street from quiet, manicured Central Park in the…