Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snakes have been slithering on Earth far longer than anyone ever realized


Remarkable Fossils Push Back Snake Origins by 65 Million Years 

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Snakes have been slithering on Earth far longer than anyone ever realized. Scientists on Tuesday described the four oldest-known snake fossils, the most ancient of which was a roughly 10-inch-long (25 cm) reptile called Eophis underwoodi unearthed in a quarry near Oxford, England, that lived about 167 million years ago. The remarkable fossils from Britain, Portugal and the United States rewrite the history of snake evolution, pushing back snake origins by tens of millions of...

Winter Storm 2015: Timelapse Views of the Snowstorm | The New York Times 

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From around Manhattan, timelapse views of the late-January snowstorm. Produced by: Margaret Cheatham Williams and Catherine Spangler Subscribe to the Times Video newsletter for free and get...
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Twin Brothers Who Ran $2bn Drug Empire Jailed

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The Chicago siblings' enterprise was so lucrative they had to employ full-time money counters to keep tabs on the waves of cash.

Mexico says murdered students were mistaken for rival gang

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The 43 Mexican students who disappeared four months ago were murdered on the orders of a drug cartel who mistook them for members of a rival gang, the government said on Tuesday, finally confirming the deaths of the trainee teachers.
  

Weak Corporate Results Put the Market in a Hole - New York Times

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Fox News

Weak Corporate Results Put the Market in a Hole
New York Times
Stocks slumped Tuesday after some of the market's largest companies reported disappointing earnings, taking investors on a turbulent ride that deepened the losses for the year. The companies that rattled the market included Microsoft, Caterpillar and Procter ...
US company outlooks worry investors, sending stocks lowerChron.com
US stocks sink on weak earnings; Nasdaq -1.9%GlobalPost

all 336 news articles »

Winter Storm 2015: De Blasio Defends Storm Preparations | The New York Times 

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Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York stressed the importance of heeding warnings though a snowstorm affected the city much less than had been anticipated. Produced by: NYC Mayor Read the story...
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US Official:' A Free Europe Rises or Falls With Ukraine'

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A top U.S. official said Tuesday that the conflict in eastern Ukraine has become a battleground for a peaceful and free Europe. "We all know that today, a Europe whole, free and at peace rises or falls with Ukraine. Ukraine’s front line for freedom is ours as well," Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland told a gathering at the Washington-based Brookings Institution. Washington and its European allies are reassessing their options in dealing with Russia's...

Putin slams bids to rewrite history at Auschwitz memorial

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President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday slammed what he called attempts to rewrite history as he presided over a politically sensitive ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of...
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Blizzard spares NYC but buries New England in snow

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New Yorkers clean up and return to normal daily activities following a snowstorm that hit the east coast of the US. Duration: 00:38.
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`Wicked storm': Blizzard drops 2 feet of snow on New England

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BOSTON (AP) -- Its winds howling at more than 70 mph, the Blizzard of 2015 slammed Boston and surrounding parts of New England on Tuesday with none of the mercy it unexpectedly showed New York City, piling up more than 2 feet of snow....

NYC Officials Defend Shutting Down City for Blizzard That Wasn't 

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Winter Storm Juno, as it's being called, dumped as much as 60 centimeters (almost 2 feet) of snow on parts of the northeastern United States but failed to live up to its "historic" billing...
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The Blizzard That Wasn’t | The New York Times

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In New York City, roads and subways were nearly deserted Tuesday morning, as people woke up to a much lighter snowfall than had been predicted. Some were irritated; others just headed to the...
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Israeli Opposition Takes Aim at Netanyahu Over Planned Speech to Congress - New York Times

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New York Times

Israeli Opposition Takes Aim at Netanyahu Over Planned Speech to Congress
New York Times
JERUSALEM — Michael B. Oren, who spent four years as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ambassador to Washington, has called on Mr. Netanyahu to cancel his speech to Congress about Iran. Amos Yadlin, a former military intelligence chief who ...
Elkin: Not everyone has an asset like NetanyahuYnetnews
Boehner defends decision to snub Obama with Netanyahu visitNew York Daily News 
Candidly Speaking: Should Netanyahu address Congress?Jerusalem Post Israel News
Haaretz-
 CNN International-TheBlaze.com
 
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Winter Storm 2015 in New York on Instagram | The New York Times 

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As snowstorm Juno approached the city, New Yorkers rushed home, and then frolicked in the snow. Produced by: Deborah Acosta Read the story here: http://nyti.ms/1Bktk3R Subscribe to the Times...
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Winter Storm Juno: Snow Scenes Around New England | The New York Times 

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A compilation of scenes from Boston, Providence, R.I., and other areas as a winter storm barreled through the region Monday night into Tuesday. Read the story here: http://nyti.ms/1BktJTL...
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Iran says Israel crossed 'red lines', vows to respond: IRNA

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DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran has told the United States that an Israeli air strike which killed an Iranian general in Syria last week had crossed "red lines" and the Islamic Republic will respond, a senior official was quoted as saying by IRNA news agency on Tuesday.
  

In major move, Mormon apostles call for statewide LGBT protections - Salt Lake Tribune

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Sacramento Bee

In major move, Mormon apostles call for statewide LGBT protections
Salt Lake Tribune
(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) LDS Apostle Dallin H. Oaks makes a public statement for religious freedom and nondiscrimination in Salt Lake City Tuesday Jan. 27, 2015. He was one of four LDS leaders that called for legislation that protects vital ...
Mormon church backs LGBT rights -- with one conditionCNN International
Mormon
 
Leaders Appeal for Balance of Gay and Religious RightsNBCNews.com

Mormon leaders call for measures protecting gay rightsSFGate
Daily Caller- KCSG-Deseret News
all 179 
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Blizzard 2015: New England Buried, NYC Lifts Travel Ban - NBCNews.com

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NBCNews.com

Blizzard 2015: New England Buried, NYC Lifts Travel Ban
NBCNews.com
The coast of New England was clobbered on Tuesday by a blizzard every bit as ferocious as forecasters feared — 2½ feet of snow, wind as strong as a hurricane and icy waves powerful enough to shake houses. All of Nantucket island lost power, and an ...
Blizzard 2015: 'Mass'-ive Storm Slams Coast, NantucketABC News
Powerful Snowstorm Buries New England, Cutting Off NantucketNew York Times
Nantucket Islanders Lose Power, Phones to Northeast BlizzardBusinessweek
abc40
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Heavy Fighting Drains Ukraine Government's Options and Finances

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Ukrainian troops beat off fresh attacks by pro-Russia militants on a crucial rail hub Tuesday, part of recent heavy fighting that is sapping the Ukrainian administration of options and finances as it works to fend off a wider Russian-supported onslaught.

Fighting Intensifies in Eastern Ukraine 

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A weekend of fierce fighting in Ukraine’s embattled Donbass region continued Monday as pro-Russian insurgents encircled Ukrainian government troops in a new advance. The war of words heated up, too, as Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Kiev of relying on a “foreign legion” to wage war against the separatist militias. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called Putin’s comments “nonsense.”

WorldViews: Michelle Obama forgoes a headscarf and sparks a backlash in Saudi Arabia 

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Barack Obama was in Riyadh on Tuesday to pay his respects to the late Saudi King Abdullah. His visit, for which he cut short a much-hyped trip to India, underscores how important the U.S.-Saudi relationship remains to the American leadership. On social media, however, much of the attention has focused on something else: His wife's attire.Read full article >>






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Litvinenko lawyer accuses Putin of running 'mafia state' - video

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The lawyer representing Alexander Litvinenko's family, Ben Emerson, tells a public inquiry in London the former KGB spy was killed for trying to expose links between the Kremlin and organised crime. Emerson says the relationship between the Kremlin and Russian organised crime syndicates is so intimate that the two are "effectively indistinguishable". Tuesday was the first day of the public inquiry into the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, who died in London in 2006 from radiation poisoningContinue reading...

Russian grocery stores found to be plumping up prices

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Investigations reveal shops making unjustified price increases – such as cabbage up by 353% – following state ban on import of western foods
Investigations of grocery stores across Russia that were ordered by the prosecutor general have revealed unjustified price increases following a ban on imported foods adopted in response to western sanctions.
Prosecutors in the Samara region found that between August and December 2014, the price of cabbage, cucumbers and peppers increased by 353%, 544% and 654%, respectively, the newspaper RBC Daily reported. The Russian staple buckwheat, which is often used as a kind of social barometer as consumers tend to stockpile it in anticipation of hard times, rose by 276%.
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Russia tried to learn how to use high-speed trading to rock market, US says - MarketWatch

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MarketWatch

Russia tried to learn how to use high-speed trading to rock market, US says
MarketWatch
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Russia sought to use spies to get more information about high-frequency trading in a potential bid to destabilize the market, according to a court document released by the U.S. government on Monday. The U.S. government ...

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CORRECTED-(OFFICIAL)-UPDATE 2-Russia buys more gold reserves ... - Reuters

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Wall Street Journal

CORRECTED-(OFFICIAL)-UPDATE 2-Russia buys more gold reserves ...
Reuters
(Corrects headline as well as first three paragraphs to say that the Netherlands did not raise its gold holdings, as had been incorrectly stated in an earlier IMF news release). * Russia added 20.73 tonnes in December-IMF. * Gold price rose in December ...
Russia, Kazakhstan Acquire More Gold; Netherlands Also a Buyer, Says IMFWall Street Journal
Russia Increases Gold Reserves for Ninth Consecutive MonthThe Moscow Times
Russia raises gold reserves for 9th straight month in DecemberEconomic Times

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Can Consumer Drones Become a Serious Threat?

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White House security was breached again Monday when a small remote-controlled ‘quad copter’ crashed on its lawn. The U.S. Secret Service is investigating, but drone experts say there is no reliable way to protect against these now widely available devices. This was not the first incident of a flying machine on the grounds of the White House. In September, 1994, a pilot crashed a small Cessna airplane onto the South Lawn, prompting re-evaluation of security procedures. But the latest incident again highlighted the increased vulnerability of the traditional home of the U.S. presidents. Thanks to advances in cheap electronics, lightweight materials and mechanical parts, drones are now available to anyone. The Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates U.S. airspace, limits the flights of drones operated by hobbyists to a height of about 120 meters and within sight of the operator. But modern drones can be pre-programmed to fly automatically along so-called “way points.” According to Illinois Institute of Technology Robotics Lab associate professor Matthew Spenko, some manufacturers program their drones so they can not be operated in certain areas, though the system is not immune to hacking. “If you are smart enough and you know what you are doing, you can always override that,” he explained. Spenko said quad copters can carry up to six kilograms of payload. The best among them can stay airborne for 25 minutes and fly as fast as 10 meters per second. University of Nebraska journalism professor Matthew Waite studies how drones can be used to report news. He said Monday’s incident may have some bad consequences. “I have been saying for years that it is going take one idiot doing something stupid to trigger a lot of bad policy," he said, "and I am afraid that we may have found our idiot.” Waite said the White House is well protected, but a motivated person can still create a lot of chaos. “If somebody wants to cause harm and havoc with a device and some explosives, there is very little to stop them," he notes. "That is just kind of the way of the world.” The Secret Service does not have a reliable system to identify and disable drones. After the latest incident, Waite said the agency no doubt will reconsider its options, but he said he thinks the danger from drones is small. “Could you do damage with it? Absolutely. Are you going to level a building with it? No, probably not," said Waite. "Sure, there is a threat here and the grand scheme of other threats I think that it is pretty low.” Much as other modern devices, drones are here to stay, so governments and regulators will have to come up with comprehensive regulations to control their use. In the meantime, private companies already are seeing the potential for a lucrative business -- devices that protect us from drones.

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Yemen Rebels Release Kidnapped Presidential Aide

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Yemen's Houthi movement has freed the presidential chief of staff, whom it seized on January 17 during a power struggle with then-President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Houthi official Ali al-Quhoom and two government officials said on Tuesday. The seizure of the aide, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, helped to plunge Yemen into political crisis, resulting in clashes between the Houthis and Hadi's presidential guards that prompted the president and the government to resign. Quhoom said bin Mubarak was freed without any restrictions or conditions as a goodwill gesture to ease tensions in Yemen and in honor of a delegation of tribal leaders from the Shabwa province in southeastern Yemen where the Hadi aide comes from. “Bin Mubarak has just been handed over" to a tribal leader, Quhoom told Reuters by telephone. The Houthis had also threatened unspecified further steps after Hadi laid out a new draft constitution that would devolve authority to regions, in an attempt to resolve regional, political and sectarian differences in Yemen. The Houthis quickly rejected the draft, saying it paved the way for dividing the country and obstructing a power sharing agreement they signed when they captured Sana'a in September. Hadi and the rest of his government resigned on Thursday in exasperation at the Houthi takeover of much of the country. Political parties in Yemen, including the Houthis, are currently trying to agree on what to do after Hadi's resignation, which has left a power vacuum in a country that borders the world's top oil exporter Saudi Arabia. The Houthis have proposed forming a presidential council of representatives of various political parties. Other parties are trying to persuade Hadi to retract his resignation before they agree to any new arrangement.

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Remember Russia? It's still doomed. - Washington Post (blog)

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Billboard

Remember Russia? It's still doomed.
Washington Post (blog)
President Obama might have a future as a credit rating analyst. During his State of the Union, you might remember, he took a victory lap of sorts when he declared that, as the price of its aggression, Russia's economy was "in tatters." Well, S&P agrees ...
Why Russia's Economy Will Not CollapseProject Syndicate
Russia's Touring Industry Suffers Under Weight of Sanctions, Crumbling RubleBillboard

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Common Drugs Linked to Increased Risk of Dementia, Alzheimer's 

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A new study by U.S. researchers has found that common, over-the-counter drugs - including those to promote sleep and treat allergies - may increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease among people 65 and older. The drugs are called anticholinergics, a class of medications that block the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.  They are found in a host of medicines ranging from antidepressants to muscle relaxants. They cause a host of side effects, including dry eyes and mouth, sleepiness and constipation. A study of the drugs found a higher risk of dementia among older adults who took anticholenergics for three years or more. Researchers at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy followed almost 3,500 older men and women, none of whom appeared to suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s at the outset of the study. Eight hundred of the participants who took standard daily doses of drugs - including antihistamines and drugs for bladder control - developed dementia, including Alzheimer's, after an average follow-up of seven years. The increased risk of dementia was also seen among those who took medications - including tricyclic antidepressants - to treat depression. Investigators say people should not panic and stop taking their medications. Rather, they advise those who take suspect drugs should talk to their health care providers, who may be able to prescribe safer alternatives. The study was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

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Gotham in the Russian-American SpyWar 

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Yesterday brought front-page news of the FBI’s arrest of a Russian businessman in the Bronx who, according to the information released by the Department of Justice, had been operating as an agent of Russian intelligence for several years, collecting mainly economic information in the United States.
The man in custody is Evgeny Buryakov (39), AKA Zhenya, while his co-conspirators, who have already left the United States, are named as Igor Sporyshev (40) and Victor Podobnyy (27), also Russian nationals. While living in New York, Sporyshev was serving with the Russian trade mission there, while Podobnyy was an attaché with the Russian Mission to the United Nations.
All three were in actuality officers of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). Sporyshev and Podobnyy were serving in “official” cover positions of the kind used by the SVR and its KGB predecessor for nearly a century, while Buryakov was serving in a “non-official cover” position, to use the verbiage cited by the FBI. That is, Buryakov enjoyed no diplomatic immunity, which is why he is in custody now; had the FBI managed to catch up with Sporyshev and Podobnyy there was not much they really could have done since those men enjoyed diplomatic protection. At worst, they would have been expelled from the United States — PNG’d in spy-speak (from being declared persona non grata).
To use proper Russian terminology, Sporyshev and Podobnyy were “Legals” while Buryakov was an “Illegal.” Such spies without official cover have long been the elite of the Kremlin’s espionage arm, a select cadre. During the Cold War they were legendary, not least because while Legals are relatively easy for the FBI, or any competent counterintelligence service, to detect — the odds of a Legal SVR officer being noticed as actually a spy during his or her tour as a “diplomat” in any Western country are high — Illegals are much more difficult to detect and neutralize.
Or rather, they were. During the Cold War, the KGB was careful to not “cross the streams” between their Legal and Illegal networks in the West much, if at all: associating with a Legal, who may be under surveillance, is a good way for an Illegal to wind up on the radar of the local security service. The massive roll-up of the SVR’s Illegals Network in 2010, which was a debacle for the Kremlin, was noticed by the media and the public mainly for the fetching Anna Chapman, red-headed Russian temptress extraordinaire, but represented a historic counterintelligence win for the FBI and the Intelligence Community.
Although the media had a good laugh at the Illegals Network, not seeing much important going on there, the reality was different. While it seems indisputable that several of the Illegals caught in 2010 were not up to the caliber of their predecessors of hoary Chekist legend, this has something to do with the fact that the SVR had to rebuild their networks abroad, which went to pieces after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Over the last fifteen years, Russian intelligence has rebuilt their spy networks worldwide, and sometimes getting spies in the field inadequately prepared, backed by flimsy covers, has been a problem, as the Kremlin values quantity as well as quality. It should be noted that Russian military intelligence (GRU) also has networks of Legals and Illegals around the world, separate from SVR espionage.
As a former counterintelligence officer obsessed with espionage against the West, Putin has pushed hard for SVR and GRU to “get in the game” and they have. Today, Russian espionage against the West, including numbers of operatives and the tempo of their operations, equals its highest levels during the Cold War. Not every operation is a win, as the Chekist-in-Charge is well aware. The sudden loss of the Illegals Network in 2010 was a major disruption and to fill the gap the SVR sent less-able officers like Buryakov to America, perhaps too hastily.
Our counterintelligence was on to him almost immediately. Many leads emerged from the Illegals Network takedown, in multiple countries, and many tantalizing hints, considering subsequent developments, remain officially unresolved. Buryakov did not help himself by meeting with Sporyshev and Podobnyy, but otherwise he had limited ability to communicate with Moscow Center, i.e. SVR headquarters.
The story of his work is standard spy stuff: covert communications, dead-drops, brush-passes, sometimes fumbling efforts to recruit American businesspeople and students. The main target of this SVR network in New York was economic espionage, particularly regarding the financial sector. They seem to have landed no big fish, but it needs to be kept in mind that the DOJ account of the Buryakov ring released yesterday is the unclassified version of the case which always omits much important detail. Russian espionage operations are seldom straightforward, while some defy real understanding for years, even decades.
Significantly, U.S. counterintelligence had an excellent look into this trio’s activities, due mainly to good SIGINT — since the greatest weakness of any spy is the need to communicate. Thanks to this, eventually the banker/spy Buryakov fell prey to a ruse when a slightly-too-good-to-be-true source emerged and he took a gamble that a savvier officer might have demurred from. But the source promised classified U.S. Government information, as well as casino goodies; of course, this source was actually under FBI control, a dangle.
As with the Illegals Network in 2010, journalists and commentators who are ignorant of Russian espionage tradecraft are blowing this story off as being of little consequence, even comedic. There is, however, nothing funny about this case. In the first place, it shows that the Kremlin continues to collect economic intelligence in the West, using various covers to steal information of many sorts. This is a big win for the FBI and U.S. counterintelligence, but luck was on our side here, and that cannot be counted on.
Moreover, Illegals have many purposes, including functioning as long-term sources to maintain agent networks in the event of war, when diplomatic facilities close and Legals get pulled home. Given the parlous state of relations between the West and Russia now, this is not a theoretical concern. The Kremlin, unlike most Western intelligence services, tends towards the long-view and worst-case planning with utmost seriousness.
Ominously, among the things Buryakov was looking to steal included very sensitive information regarding high-speed Wall Street trading, automated trading algorithms, and “destabilization of markets.” If that thought doesn’t worry you, you’re not paying attention. There is a bona fide financial and economic war being waged now between Russia and the West, and Moscow intends to win. The potential threat to remove Russia from SWIFT, the international banking information-sharing mechanism, has reduced the Kremlin to fits. Today Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev promised that his government’s reaction to booting Russia from SWIFT, which would be tantamount to total financial isolation for Moscow, would be “unlimited” and not merely economic in nature. Western pundits are chuckling at the SVR’s missteps in New York today, but it may be Putin and his spies who get the last laugh here.
UPDATEOver at CrossingWallStreet, Eddy Elfenbein — whom you should be following if you care about your financial future — has added his thoughts on the Wall Street side of this case, a must read.
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Houthis Seek Peaceful Transition in Sanaa, Leader Says

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The leader of Yemen's Houthis, who control Sanaa, said Tuesday that his group was seeking a peaceful transfer of power after the resignation of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, and he urged all factions to work together to solve the crisis. Abdel-Malek al-Houthi's conciliatory remarks in a televised speech came less than an hour after his supporters released Hadi's chief of staff, whom they seized last week in an attempt to gain leverage in a dispute with Hadi over the constitution. The seizure of the aide, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, helped to plunge Yemen deeper into political crisis, resulting in clashes between the Houthis and Hadi's presidential guards that prompted the president and the government to resign Thursday. Political parties in Yemen, including the Houthis, are currently trying to agree what to do after Hadi's resignation, which has left a power vacuum in a country that borders the world's top oil exporter, Saudi Arabia. In his speech, Houthi warned against allowing Yemen to be pushed to collapse and said that consultations were proceeding under U.N. auspices to resolve the country's standoff. "We are seeking a peaceful transfer of power on the basis of partnership," Houthi said in a speech broadcast on the group's al-Maseerah television. "Let everyone go toward cooperation instead of clashing, arguing and wrestling." He added that resolutions made during nearly a year of national dialogue organized by Hadi in 2013 and an agreement signed after the Houthis captured Sanaa last September would also be the basis for any agreement. Describing Hadi's resignation as a "maneuver," Houthi said political parties, with U.N. support, have been holding consultations to bring about a "peaceful transfer of power." The Houthis emerged as the dominant faction in Yemen by seizing Sanaa in September and dictating terms to a humiliated Hadi, whom they held as a virtual prisoner at his home last week after clashing with his security guards. Hadi, a former general, has blamed the Houthis' control of Sanaa for impeding his attempt to steer Yemen toward stability after years of turmoil and tribal unrest. In a statement, U.N. special envoy Jamal Benomar welcomed Mubarak's release, saying "this news would help reduce tensions and enable progress" in the negotiations he was facilitating between political parties. Benomar said he urged Ansarallah, the Houthis' official name, to "undertake steps that would be in the best interest of all political sides and the people of Yemen." He also pressed all political parties to act responsibly and to give priority to the national interest, the statement said.

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EU Heads Call for More Russia Sanctions - Wall Street Journal

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Wall Street Journal

EU Heads Call for More Russia Sanctions
Wall Street Journal
“We note evidence of continued and growing support given to the separatists by Russia, which underlines Russia's responsibility. We urge Russia to condemn the separatists' actions and to implement the Minsk agreements,” the leaders said. They plan to ...
Ukraine conflict: EU weighs more sanctions on RussiaBBC News
EU leaders likely to decide on new Russia sanctionsReuters
NATO chief: Russia is behind Ukraine rocket attackUSA TODAY
Huffington Post -Financial Times
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Ruble's dramatic drop inflicts economic pain in Russia - CBC.ca

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CBC.ca

Ruble's dramatic drop inflicts economic pain in Russia
CBC.ca
Svetlana Onike, a 36-year-old mother of three, lets out a long sigh, her shoulders droop, she's near tears. Sitting In her tiny one-bedroom apartment an hour outside Moscow, Svetlana explains how her monthly mortgage costs have suddenly doubled to ...

Ukrainian Pilot Being Held Hostage in Russia on Verge of Death, Lawyer Says 

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A Ukrainian female army pilot may die in detention in Russia where she is on hunger-strike, her lawyer said Monday, calling on President Vladimir Putin to release her.

Americanization of Russian Language and Culture Threatens National Security, Moscow Military Writer Says

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Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 27 – For more than 150 years, the Anglo-Saxon world has been the main competitor and threat to the Russian way of life, and today, the United States is carrying out ‘a ‘quiet’ and bloodless’ war against Russia by promoting the Americanization of its language and culture, according to a Moscow military writer.

            In an article featured on Topwar.ru, Aleksey Dyomin defines “Americanization” as “the process of the gradual change of social relations and culture toward the norms of models used in the US” and thus toward what people there call “’the American way of life’” (topwar.ru/67421-modnye-uvlecheniya-kak-ugroza-nacionalnoy-bezopasnosti.html).

            What is taken from the US “is integrated into the existing system and changes the values, traditions, behavioral and legal norms and institutions of particular societies,” he continues, sometimes “on the initiative” of those absorbing it but often unilaterally and supported by the US as such.

            “Since the moment of the disintegration of the USSR,” not only Russia but “many of the countries of the former socialist bloc have been subjected to Americanization,” Dyomin says, noting that there are many manifestations of this process.

            In economics, he argues, Americanization involves the taking over of American rules and management styles in major companies, the privatization of public institutions, and insisting on profit as the measure of success for what had been non-commercial entities. In technology, it includes the use of the Internet and mobile telephones.

            In the cultural and media spheres, Dyomin says, Americanization is manifested in the adoption of American forms of musical culture like hip hop, the domination of Hollywood films and television programs, and “the development of unproductive forms of entrepreneurial activity which are parasites on popular culture” such a copyright law and the like.

            In these spheres, it also involved “the creation of an enormous number of social organizations, the celebration of American holidays like Halloween, the introduction of American types of sport, the spread of American fast food, and the wearing of clothes that do not fit Russian conditions. All this, Dyomin says, is leading to “a decline in public morality.”

            And in the social sphere, he continues, Americanization has led to a contraction of welfare and social supports, “an equalization of all social groups in terms of their rights,” a sharp increase in the cost of education and medical services, and the adoption of the American system of education with all the disruption that has caused.

            But both the most obvious and the most insidious – because often unrecognized – form of Americanization involves the adoption of English words and expressions, the use of which disposes people to think and then act along the lines of those who came up with them, Dyomin argues.

            He suggests that there are eight kinds of such borrowing going on: direct in which an English word is simply transliterated into English, like money or weekend; hybrids in which an English work is given a Russia suffix like “askat’” for “ask;” trace words which correspond phonetically like virus and menu; semi-trace words like “drive;” exoticisms where there is no possible Russian equivalent like chezburger or khot-dog; slang like OK or second hand;” composites in which two foreign words become one Russian one like videosalon; and jargonisms in which the word borrowed is reshaped in Russian like “krezanutiy” or “crazy.”

The Americanization of Russia has proceeded so far that it is a cause for alarm because it is being carried out by “our ‘friends’ from beyond the ocean with one single goal – the destruction of Russia as a state from within by a means which is absolutely unnoticed and even for some acceptable.”

But history suggests there is nonetheless reason for hope. “In 1812, all the ruling stratum (the nobility) was under the total influence of French culture. Nevertheless, Napoleon’s army was destroyed. I hope,” Dyomin says in conclusion, “that in today’s undeclared war the outcome will be the same -- that the enemy will be defeated and that victory will be ours!”

 

 

 
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The Campaign Against “Leviathan” in Russia - The New Yorker

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The New Yorker

The Campaign Against “Leviathan” in Russia
The New Yorker
Andrey Zvyagintsev is known as one of Russia's leading filmmakers, but his latest movie, “Leviathan,” has been especially successful. Prior to its nomination for the Academy Award, it won Best Screenplay at last year's Cannes Film Festival, Best Film ...
Golden Globe winner 'Leviathan' spooks Russia's culture chiefsHaaretz 
Dissenting opinion: By praising 'Leviathan' for its spotlight on Russia's ...National Post

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US still considering military option against Russia: Analyst - Press TV

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US still considering military option against Russia: Analyst
Press TV
The United States is still considering the military option against Russia over Ukraine, according to an analyst in Belgrade, Serbia. Joaquin Flores, geostrategist and director at Center for Syncretic Studies, made the remarks in a phone interview with ...

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Президент Латвии Андрис Берзиньш решил не ехать в Москву на 9 мая - Коммерсантъ

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DELFI.lv

Президент Латвии Андрис Берзиньш решил не ехать в Москву на 9 мая
Коммерсантъ
Президент Латвии Андрис Берзиньш решил отказаться от участия в мероприятиях, посвященных празднованию 9 мая в Москве. «Президент Латвии не считает возможным посетить праздничные мероприятия 9 мая в Москве», — говорится в сообщении на официальном сайте ...
Президент Латвии не поедет в Москву на празднование Дня ПобедыГазета.Ru
Президент Латвии отказался от участия в мероприятиях в честь Дня Победы в МосквеВзгляд
Президент Латвии решил не ехать в Москву 9 маяМосковский комсомолец
Интерфакс -Журналистская правда
Все похожие статьи: 39 »

What the Credit Downgrade to 'Junk' Means for Russia - ABC News

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Financial Times

What the Credit Downgrade to 'Junk' Means for Russia
ABC News
Russia has seen its credit grade cut to "junk" status for the first time in over a decade, a big blow for a country that wants to be a world economic power. The downgrade by Standard & Poor's reflects the country's growing economic problems, such as ... 
UPDATE 3-Market
 reaction muted after S&P drops Russia to 'junk'
Reuters

Russia's downgrade deepens political crisis with EuropeFinancial Times 
Oil price slide drives Russia to 'junk' statusThe Week UK
Forbes
 -New York Times-The Guardian

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Putin blames politics for Russian ratings downgrade

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Vladimir Putin has blamed political meddling after Standard and Poor's cut Russian government debt to "junk" status








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США говорят о новых инструментах давления на Россию

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Некоторые законодатели настаивают на поставках Украине оборонительного оружия на фоне просьб Киева о...
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Turkic Peoples of Caucasus Seek to Avoid Circassians’ ‘Mistake,’ Kumyk Leader Says

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Paul Goble

 

            Staunton, January 27 – The Turkic peoples of the North Caucasus – including the Kumyks, the Balkars, and the Karachay – want to avoid “the mistakes” that have surrounded the Circassian national movement and made it into “an apple of discord” rather than bridge between Russia and other countries,  according to Ramazan Alpaut.

 

            The comments of the president of the Moscow Organization for Kumyk Culture suggest just how sensitive the Circassian issue remains for Moscow and how the Turkic peoples, both in binational republics like Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachayevo-Cherkesia and in multi-national Daghestan, believe they will benefit by positioning themselves in a different way.

 

            In an interview with Gulnara Inandzh of Azerbaijan’s Gumilyev Center, Alpaut, whose people numbers 500,000 in Daghestan alone, says that theTurks in the North Caucasus want to work with European and Turkish institutions and actively cooperate with diaspora groups without causing problems for Moscow (gumilyev-center.az/kumykskij-komponent-v-politike-rossii).

 

            Alpaut says that his group starts from the proposition that “historically Russia is among other things a Turkic state,” one in which even today “about 20 million” of its citizens are Turkish, and that as a Eurasian country, it is the product of the coming together of Slavic and Turkic civilizations. According to the Kumyk activist, Russians are beginning to recognize that reality.

 

            In the past, “Russia and then the Soviet Union united half of all the Turks of the world, one fourth of their respective populations were Turkic, and the Turks occupied an enormous portion” of their territories.  Sometimes the leaders of those countries fought against the Turkic peoples without recognizing that in so doing, they were fighting against themselves.

 

            Now, Moscow recognizes, Alpaut says, that Turks are “not a national minority” in Russia but rather one of the foundations on which the state rests, and the central authorities realize that Turkic groups within their borders do not constitute a risk or a threat but rather an opportunity for Russia to remain “part of the Turkic world.”

 

            The Turkic groups are responding, he says. Their Russian citizenship is “primary,” of course, but nothing interferes with their membership in the broader Turkic world or their sense that they are very much “part” of that world.

 

            As Alpaut points out, it is always a mistake to reduce the Turkic question to Turkey. Not only are there important Turkic countries like Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan but there are numerous Turkic peoples like those of the North Caucasus who are part of that issue as well. The Turks of the North Caucasus can be the bridge between Moscow and that world.

 

           
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Alexander Litvinenko 'assassinated to stop him exposing Vladimir Putin's links to organised crime' 

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Russian president Vladimir Putin described as 'nothing more or less than a common criminal dressed up as a Head of State' by barrister for Litvinenko family