Archive for the ‘Russia’ Category

Bitcoin mining in Siberia

May 14, 2019

For centuries, Siberia has been known for its coal, iron, diamond, and gold mines, but its new industry is cryptocurrency mining. BBC Moscow correspondent Sarah Rainsford reports.

Related:

“Bitcoin Miners Flock to New York’s Remote Corners, but Get Chilly Reception,” Patrick McGeehan, New York Times

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Trump’s Shady Russian Business Ties

April 4, 2017

Trump's Shady Russian Business Ties

“. . . USA Today looked at the ‘wealthy Russians and oligarchs from former Soviet Republics — several allegedly connected to organized crime,’ who have invested in Trump-branded real estate, basing the article on a ‘review of court cases, government and legal documents, and an interview with a former federal prosecutor.’ The review focused on ’10 wealthy former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations or money laundering,’ but the pertinent question now is whether Trump is beholden to Kremlin-linked Russian oligarchs.”
— “Ex-federal prosecutor says shady Russian money is keeping the Trump Organization afloat,” Peter Weber, The Week

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Trump’s Mercenary Back-Channel to Russia

April 3, 2017

Trump's Mercenary Backchannel to Russia

Nine days before Donald Trump’s inauguration, the United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a contact close to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, according to the Washington Post. The January 11th meetup, an attempt to open a back-channel line of communication between Putin and Trump, took place in the Seychelles islands. Erik Prince, who donated $250,000 to the Trump election effort, is still in the army-for-hire business, providing private security services for the UAE, and lives part-time in Abu Dhabi. His sister, Betsy DeVos, is currently Secretary of Education.

More:

“Blackwater founder held secret Seychelles meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel,” Adam Entous, Greg Miller, Kevin Sieff and Karen DeYoung, Washington Post

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Top image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Never Fear, Jared’s Here

April 3, 2017

President Trump, has appointed son-in-law Jared Kushner to run his new Office of American Innovation. And what could be more innovative than giving your daughter’s husband a job? The goal of this new biz exec “SWAT team” is to run the federal government “like a great American company.” Would that be like the four companies Donald Trump bankrupted, or the one that landed Jared Kushner’s daddy in prison?

Trump in-law Kushner may have little time to spearhead SWAT raids. He’ll be talking to the Senate Intelligence Committee about his meeting with Sergey Gorkov, head of the Russian state development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB), sanctioned by the U.S.in 2014 after Russia seized the Ukraine. The meeting was in December, while Mr. Kushner still ran the family business, the multibillion-dollar Kushner Companies. He still owns some Kushner Company assets.

The Intelligence Committee inquiry isn’t a fishing expedition. Last year a New York VEB employee, Evgeny Buryakov, admitted he was actually a Russian SVR spy. Mr. Buryakov is serving two and a half years in a US prison.

More:

“America’s government can’t be run like a business. That’s a feature, not a bug.” Jeff Spross, The Week

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The 3 Trump-Russia scandals. That we know about.

March 1, 2017

A timeline of the 3 Trump-Russia scandals that we know about. At this point in time.

UPDATES: 

Scandal #4

“Sessions met with Russian envoy twice last year, encounters he later did not disclose,”  Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller, Washington Post

Scandal #5

“Jared Kushner met with Russian ambassador during transition, White House official says,” AP via Los Angeles Times

Scandal #6

“Trump Jr. likely paid $50K for event hosted by Russian allies,” Mark Hensch, The Hill

Scandal #7

“In a reversal, former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page now says he did have contact with Russia,” Joshua Barajas, PBS NewsHour

“Two more former Trump aides spoke with Russian ambassador,” Max Greenwood, The Hill

Javier Zarracina @Vox has a handy graphic

Related:

“White House staff told to preserve Russia-related materials,” Julie Pace and Vivian Salama, Associated Press

“Bush ethics lawyer: Trump’s Russia scandal so far is ‘much worse’ than the early stages of Watergate,” Tara Golshan, Vox

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McDonalds in Russia

February 22, 2016

McDonalds in Russia

The Russian economy is in a nosedive thanks to falling oil prices, Western sanctions, and general lack of faith in the Ruble. But the county’s McDonalds’ burger biz is booming, and the fast-food chain is adding 60 new Russian eateries this year, and now has over 500 outlets from St. Petersburg to Siberia. What gives? Use of locally-sourced products keeps prices down, and avoids the retaliatory foreign food bans imposed after the Ukraine crisis triggered Western economic sanctions. McD’s also added a line of lower-priced pork burgers to fit the slimmer wallets of today’s Russian consumers. Are those fried brie nuggets still on the menu?

More:

“Russia’s economy is tanking. But McDonald’s is still lovin’ it,” Dan Peleschuk, Global Post

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Sports Medicine, Russian Style

November 19, 2015

Sports Medicine, Russian Style
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recently reported that Russia’s secret service intimidated workers at a drug-testing lab and impersonated lab engineers, and a Russian drug test lab destroyed 1,400 samples, all to cover up positive drug tests by the country’s athletes. Russia’s athletes paid to make doping violations disappear, bribed anti-doping authorities to ensure favorable results, and Russian sports officials submitted bogus urine samples for doping team athletes. This was documented at the London Olympics, at Sochi, and during other athletic competitions. Given this long-term, state-sponsored, systemic culture of corruption, WADA called for banning Russian athletes from international competition, including the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The evidence is so strong that the council of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) suspended Russia from all international track and field competition by a vote of 22 to 1. Even Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for an internal investigation of his nation’s sports teams to identify individual culprits and pledged cooperation with international anti-doping sports bodies.

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What Santa and Putin Have In Common

August 10, 2015

What Santa and Putin Have In Common
Santa Claus and Vladimir Putin have something in common: They both live in Russia. If the UN says so, anyway.

Russia has submitted a formal bid to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) claiming more than 463,000 square miles of Arctic Ocean seabed, including the North Pole. Russia says that the underwater Lomonosov and Mendeleev Ridges under the Arctic are extensions of the country’s continental shelf. In December, Denmark claimed most of the same territory, saying the Lomonosov Ridge is an extension of Greenland. Norway and Canada are preparing similar claims. Russia made a symbolic stunt claiming the Pole in 2007, putting a titanium flag on the sea floor under the ice cap.

Why would anyone want the Arctic seafloor, anyway? Oil and gas. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates there are reserves of 90 billion barrels of oil and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas there, 22 percent of the world’s unrecovered oil and natural gas, and with Global Warming it’s becoming more accessible.

Another nation with interests in the Arctic is ineligible to file a UN claim, since it’s not a signatory of the Convention on the Law of the Sea: The United States of America.

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The First Spacewalk was 50 Years Ago

March 22, 2015

The Firsrt Spacewalk was 50 Years Ago

On March 18, 1965, Cosmonaut Alexey Leonov stepped outside the USSR’s  Voskhod-2 space capsule and floated in space for 12 minutes and 9 seconds, It was the first spacewalk.

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Putin May Be Planning to Shut Off the Internet

September 25, 2014

Putin May Be Planning to Shut Off the Internet

“The Kremlin is considering radical plans to unplug Russia from the global internet in the event of a serious military confrontation or big anti-government protests at home, Russian officials hinted on Friday.

President Vladimir Putin will convene a meeting of his security council on Monday. It will discuss what steps Moscow might take to disconnect Russian citizens from the web “in an emergency”, the Vedomosti newspaper reported. The goal would be to strengthen Russia’s sovereignty in cyberspace. The proposals could also bring the domain .ru under state control, it suggested.”

— “Putin considers plan to unplug Russia from the internet ‘in an emergency,'” Luke Harding, The Guardian

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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