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Russia Economy

Whiplash on Wall Street, and OPEC and Russia agree to cut oil production. And Britain's Parliament votes on Brexit, and Uber resumes tests of its self-driving cars. | 12/9/18
Defending his business practices on Twitter, the president sounded “like a stoner who just got pulled over on the way home from Burning Man,” Fallon said. | 12/4/18

President of the United States Donald Trump has defended the business dealings he had with Russia before becoming president, again calling current investigations a "witch hunt". On Thursday his ex-lawyer... | 11/30/18
The US president's dealings were thrown into focus after his ex-lawyer admitted lying to Congress. | 11/30/18
President Trump’s failed 2016 effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow marked the culmination of 30 years of interest by Mr. Trump in establishing a foothold in Russia and nearby Ukraine. Here is a look at Mr. Trump’s business record regarding Russia. | 11/30/18
For years, the president has denied that he had any business interests in Russia during the 2016 election. His former personal lawyer now says otherwise. | 11/30/18
"The word Revolution is not, for us French, a vague word. We know that the Revolution is a rupture, the Revolution is an absolute. There is no moderate revolution, there is no revolutionary dirigism as there is the dirigism of the economy. What we announce will be done against the whole current system, or it will not be done. If we thought that this system is capable of reforming itself, that it can break away from itself the course of the fatal evolution towards the Dictatorship - the Dictatorship of Money - we would certainly refuse to run the risk of an explosion capable of destroying precious things, which they will reconstruct after a long time, of perseverance, of disinterestedness and of love. by Maurizio Blondet But the system will not change the course of its evolution, for the good reason that it does not evolve anymore; it is organized only for the purpose of simply lasting another moment, of surviving. Far from pretending to resolve its own contradictions, which are nonetheless insoluble, it seems increasingly ready to impose itself by force, thanks to a regulation that is more meticulous and narrower than the particular activities, made in the name of a kind of democratic form of dictatorship. Every day in fact the ideological period has long since surpassed, in New York as in London. We see the British Imperial Democracy, the American Plutocratic Democracy marching hand in hand with the Marxist empire of the Soviet Dominions, certainly pursuing the same final purpose, whatever the cost, having the air to fight it, the system within the which all they have acquired wealth and power. Because, after all, Russia plays the classic role of parliamentary opposition in the capitalist system."

Way to sheik things up, Jim Carrey.

Actor-artist Carrey once again graced his Twitter followers with a pictorial criticism of Trump on Tuesday, depicting Trump cozying up to a figure that appeared to be Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Behind the two figures, a dump truck appeared to be dropping a load of cash in front of the White House.

Also Read: Mitch McConnell Waves the White Flag Amid a Blue Wave in Jim Carrey's Latest Artwork

“Tres Sheik,” Carrey wrote of the image.

While Carrey didn’t offer further commentary on the image, the “Kidding” star posted the cartoon on the same day that Trump questioned whether bin Salman had knowledge regarding the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month.

Trump issued a statement Tuesday reading in part, “Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”

Also Read: Jim Carrey Goes Doggy-Style on Trump and Jim Mattis in Latest Artwork

In the statement, Trump also cited Saudi Arabia’s agreement to “spend and invest $450 billion in the United States.”

“After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States,” Trump’s statement read. “This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States. Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors. If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries – and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business. It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!”

Also Read: Jim Carrey Rips 'Sadist-in-Chief' Trump in Latest Artwork: 'This Is Manslaughter'

See Carrey’s latest artwork below.

“Tres Sheik”

– Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) November 20, 2018

Related stories from TheWrap:

Mitch McConnell Waves the White Flag Amid a Blue Wave in Jim Carrey's Latest Artwork

Jim Carrey Goes Doggy-Style on Trump and Jim Mattis in Latest Artwork

Jim Carrey Rips 'Sadist-in-Chief' Trump in Latest Artwork: 'This Is Manslaughter' | 11/21/18

So let me get this straight.

The wide-eyed billionaires who run Facebook previously claimed they were simply unaware of how their platform was being used by bad people to sway the U.S. presidential election, foment hate and division and contribute to ethnic cleansing abroad.

That’s what they said. But as it turns out, they were delaying. They were denying. They were — what’s the word for it? Oh yes: dishonest.

Also Read: Mark Zuckerberg 'Didn't Know' Facebook Worked With Opposition Research Firm

And they were watching their stock price — no doubt, very very carefully.

The New York Times’ five-byline, 4,000-word investigation, published on Wednesday, brings hard facts and reporting to the charade we’ve been watching for years.

“As evidence accumulated that Facebook’s power could also be exploited to disrupt elections, broadcast viral propaganda and inspire deadly campaigns of hate around the globe, Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg stumbled,” the investigation concludes, referring to founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg.

“Bent on growth, the pair ignored warning signs and then sought to conceal them from public view,” the Times wrote. “At critical moments over the last three years, they were distracted by personal projects, and passed off security and policy decisions to subordinates, according to current and former executives.”

Also Read: Facebook Drops Conservative Consulting Firm That Targeted Critics and Competitors

I’ve been ringing the bell about Facebook for some time, after watching in horrified silence as the platform — which once promised to create a business model to promote and support the creators of news content — turned out to be dishonest about that, too. No financial support was ever forthcoming for those who reported the news and partnered with Facebook to share it. It turned out to be the other way around — publishers have to pay Facebook to access their own subscribers — surprise!

Too bad for newsrooms being decimated quarter by quarter.

Also Read: The Confused Ethics of Mark Zuckerberg - Let's Definitely Not Judge Those Holocaust Deniers

All this rotten fruit falls from the same poisoned tree.

I always thought — and have written — that manchild-CEO Mark Zuckerberg was tone deaf about the serious responsibilities that come with creating and maintaining a platform used as a tool of mass communication among hundreds of millions of people. This summer I pointed out that his lack of a humanities education as a Harvard drop-out was a real problem. In his heart, it seems, he does not accept that his platform gives him massive responsibility. The lip service he has paid publicly was not convincing before Congress, or in interviews like the one this summer with Kara Swisher in which he defended Holocaust deniers’ right to share their lies on Facebook.

So why should we trust this latest remark? “To suggest that we weren’t interested in knowing the truth, or that we were trying to hide what we knew, or that we tried to prevent investigations is simply untrue,” he stated today on a press call about Facebook’s latest content standards.

It is also disappointing to learn that Sandberg — beloved for her empathic air, her intellectual polish, her advocacy of women’s leadership — bought into this system.

Also Read: Mark Zuckerberg Is Russia, Trump and Cambridge Analytica's Useful Idiot

According to the investigation, instead of digging into the alarming revelations of Russian meddling and fake news on the platform in 2016, she chewed out Facebook’s head of security Alex Stamos for embarrassing her in front of the board.

I am particularly offended that we learned in the article that Facebook  — shame! — lobbied “a Jewish civil rights group to cast some criticism of the company as anti-Semitic,” and hired hired conservative opposition research experts to launch a counter-information campaign. Definers, the conservative group that reportedly wrote stories slamming Facebook critics, encouraged journalists to look into George Soros’s funding of those groups.

Facebook responded in a blog post: “Definers did encourage members of the press to look into the funding of ‘Freedom from Facebook,’ an anti-Facebook organization. The intention was to demonstrate that it was not simply a spontaneous grassroots campaign, as it claimed, but supported by a well-known critic of our company. To suggest that this was an anti-Semitic attack is reprehensible and untrue.”

But overall, it turns out that Facebook was more worried about appearances and stock price than fixing how the platform was being misused to undermine democracy. It seemed more worried about appearing pro-Democrat than about whether Russia had burrowed its way into our country: “If Facebook implicated Russia further, [advisor Joel] Kaplan said, Republicans would accuse the company of siding with Democrats.”

I called a Facebook spokesman who said he was offended that I said his company’s behavior and statements suggest a betrayal of public trust.

“You’re conflating things in an unhealthy and unproductive way,” Tom Reynolds, of the company’s policy and communications team, told me. “These are important issues. It’s important to be precise.”

“During the spring and summer of 2016, we found Russian hacking activity, we alerted the government, and campaign committees,” he said. “When we learned things, we tried to disclose it as much as possible. Where we can, we share as much information as we can.”

He pointed to tweets by Facebook security chief Alex Stamos spreading the blame for 2016 around to news outlets who reported on the hacked emails.

I asked: Do you think Facebook has a trust problem?

“That’s for other people to decide on,” he said. “We are working around the clock to do a better job when it comes to content moderation, reducing hate speech, reducing bullying . Reduce the bad, amplify the good.”

An admirable goal, to be sure. | 11/15/18
Experts believe that the rate of the Russian ruble may collapse again just like it happened during the crisis in 2014. In turn, Russian companies may deal with the shortage of currency to pay their debts on foreign markets. Pravda.Ru reported earlier that the net outflow of capital from Russia during the first ten months of 2018 made up $42.2 billion, which was three times as much as in the same period last year. This is the largest capital outflow figure that Russia has seen since 2014. Almost all of the additional income that Russia has received from growing oil prices was levelled off because of the outflow of capital, chief economist at VEB (Vnesheconombank, Foreign Economic Bank) Andrei Klepach believes. "If we look at the dynamics of the ruble exchange rate and its separation from the dynamics of oil prices, we can see that all the revenues obtained from the current oil price of $70 per barrel as opposed to the earlier predicted price of $50, have been taken out of the country. In other words, nothing of those extra revenues has settled in the Russian economy - everything was taken out," said Andrei Klepach.Valentin Katasonov, a professor at the Department of International Finance of MGIMO, told Pravda.Ru that Russian businessmen take their capitals out of Russia over the fear of economic sanctions against the Russian Federation. "They cannot handle stabs in the back that the Russian Central Bank and the Finance Ministry inflict on the Russian economy, because such things can cause their fortunes to shrink," the expert believes. The expert noted that the Russian Central Bank still violates Article No. 75 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which binds the bank to ensure the protection and stability of the Russian ruble. Instead, the Central Bank pursues the inflation targeting policy and has in fact abandoned maintaining the ruble exchange rate by conducting currency interventions."This may eventually cause the currency to collapse again as it happened in December 2014," said Valentin Katasonov. According to the expert, there are three constituents in the outflow of capital. "First off, this is the net outflow of private capital, the second part is the negative balance on investment income - this is what Western creditors receive as interest on loans. The third part is the growth in gold reserves."According to my calculations, these constituents make the capital outflow of $100 billion a year. Elvira Nabiullina, the head of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, gives a much smaller amount, but Central Bank estimates are nothing but bluff. The Central Bank does not control anything. To regulate the problem, one needs to restrict the movement of capital," Valentin Katasonov told Pravda.Ru.

Much of Google's traffic yesterday appeared to be re-routed through Russia and dropped at China Telecom. The issue raises serious concerns as a possible traffic hijacking incident but later linked to a network misconfiguration by a firm in Nigeria. Reuters reports: "Nigeria's Main One Cable Co took responsibility on Tuesday for a glitch that temporarily caused some Google global traffic to be misrouted through China, saying it accidentally caused the problem during a network upgrade. ... Main One said in an email that it had caused a 74-minute glitch by misconfiguring a border gateway protocol filter used to route traffic across the internet. That resulted in some Google traffic being sent through Main One partner China Telecom, the West African firm said."

"This incident further underscores one of the fundamental weaknesses in the fabric of the Internet," says ThousandEyes' Ameet Naik. ThousandEyes, a network monitoring firm, was one of the first companies to raise the alarm on Tuesday after noticing traffic to Google was getting dropped at China Telecom. Naik writes: "BGP was designed to be a chain of trust between well-meaning ISPs and universities that blindly believe the information they receive. It hasn't evolved to reflect the complex commercial and geopolitical relationships that exist between ISPs and nations today. ... Even corporations like Google with massive resources at their disposal are not immune from this sort of BGP leak or malicious hijacks. MainOne took 74 minutes to either notice or be notified of the issue and fix it, and it took about three-quarters of an hour more for services to come back up. Most enterprises who don't have Google's reach and resources may not be able to resolve the issue as quickly, which can significantly impact business." | 11/13/18
Russia is trying to wean itself off the greenback as its economy buckles under U.S. sanctions and the country prepares for stricter penalties expected later this month. | 11/11/18

Two months ago, the Trump White House published its National Cyber Strategy. It was followed a few days ago with the release of its draft NSTAC Cybersecurity "moonshot."

The Strategy document was basically a highly nationalistic America-First exhortation that ironically bore a resemblance to China's more global two-year-old National Cybersecurity Strategy.

However, the Moonshot draft comes across as a Public Relations gambit meant to underpin the Strategy pronouncement by borrowing on the Von Braun project pitched to President Kennedy and implemented in the 1960s as the Apollo program. Apart from the rather ludicrous comparison, the draft itself serves up little more than another cybersecurity word salad found around Washington with six "strategic pillars" sprinkled on top. We are told that these pillars achieve "a more enduringly safe and secure Internet within the next 10 years [that] will require a holistic and multi-disciplinary approach." A "word salad" rendition of the draft is attached as an image.

These kinds of documents have appeared everywhere around the world over the past decade. Perhaps not unexpectedly, they all tend to have the same salad ingredients: Technology, Human Behavior, Education, Ecosystem, Privacy, and Policy. NATO has an extensive library of them.

And, almost every regional and global organization and intergovernmental body today have their own versions. The EU has several, and nearly two hundred Nation States at the ITU Plenipotentiary at the moment, are redrafting a bundle of them.

There is not much new in the NSTAC draft except the Moonshot packaging plus potentially creating a few new mini-government bureaucracies among existing government agencies to oversee the effort and lobby for additional funding. The last point — funding — figures prominently into the recommendations even as the document plainly offers nothing substantively new.

The report places considerable faith in "U.S. Government leadership" when the historical record in creating joint efforts like SEMANTECH and MCC have been problematic at best in sectors far less abstruse. Furthermore, as opposed to the UK's NCSC, the aversion within the U.S. to supporting its most valuable expert Information Assurance assets at NSA, creates an enduring institutional dysfunction. Additionally, scores of other national government agencies and thousands of companies and institutes scattered globally are pursuing similar well-funded initiatives that are largely unknown within the U.S. government, and with no ability to discover them and bring about convergence and harmonization.

What is most unfortunate is the model itself — which suggests there is some kind of achievable endpoint of cybersecurity. The complexities and dynamics of contemporary electronic components, code, and networks — coupled with business economics, adversarial incentives, legal constraints, and human foibles — result in an ecosystem where risk management and cyber-hygiene are the necessary courses of action.

On the positive side, the draft recommendations do harken back to a period when NSTAC hosted its own R&D;expert community and regular R&D;workshops. There are, however, several faux pax. While the draft repeatedly mentions that 5G is extremely important and that it will replace existing internets, it somewhat embarrassingly in the Glossary does not know where 5G work is done (i.e., 3GPP and NFV ISG) and that it is already being rolled out. The lack of engagement by U.S. government agencies in existing 5G industry technical developments has long been endemic.

More significantly, the report continues to push the politically motivated "open internet" when NSTAC was warned two decades ago by the DARPA Director who approved the TCP/IP platform development — that the "open internet" notion was flawed and meaningful cybersecurity is fundamentally impossible with open internets. Indeed, the dangers of open internets have come vividly home to roost over the past year courtesy of Russia's FSB and GRU.

Fortunately, the legacy DARPA internets are rapidly transitioning to a world of virtually instantiated network slices under a 5G aegis. While considerable attention is being devoted to 3GPP and related venues to security, it is unclear whether unknown and unforeseen vulnerabilities and attacks will not emerge.

Written by Anthony Rutkowski, Principal, Netmagic Associates LLC | 11/8/18

Michael Cohen said that President Donald Trump used racist language towards black people during the 2016 election cycle.

In an interview with Vanity Fair published Friday, Cohen said that after a campaign rally, he told the then-candidate Trump that his crowd “looked vanilla” on TV, pointing out that his audience was largely Caucasian. He said that Trump’s response was: “That’s because black people are too stupid to vote for me.”

The White House did not respond to TheWrap’s request for comment on all of the remarks that the president is accused of saying.

Also Read: Michael Cohen Urges People to Vote Against Trump to Prevent 'Another Six Years of This Craziness'

Cohen also said in the interview that while he was an employee of the Trump Organization and later as the president’s personal lawyer, Trump had used racist language.

In another instance, after Nelsen Mandela’s death, Cohen told Vanity Fair that Trump said to him: “Name one country run by a black person that’s not a s—hole,” adding, “Name one city.”

And to Cohen, Trump’s racially-charged rhetoric goes back even further. In the late 2000s, while traveling to Chicago for a Trump International Hotel board meeting, Cohen recalled: “We were going from the airport to the hotel, and we drove through what looked like a rougher neighborhood. Trump made a comment to me, saying that only the blacks could live like this.”

Cohen also told the magazine of a conversation regarding the first season of “The Apprentice.” That season ended with a head-to-head between Bill Rancic and Kwame Jackson, an African-American investment manager and Harvard Business School graduate. “Trump was explaining his back-and-forth about not picking Jackson,” Cohen said. “He said, ‘There’s no way I can let this black f—ing win.'”

Also Read: President Trump Unfollows Michael Cohen on Twitter

Once famous for saying he would be willing to take a bullet for Trump, Cohen has cooperated with federal prosecutors in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. In August, Cohen pleaded guilty in various charges including campaign finance violations, tax evasion and bank fraud. His decision to cooperate came as he potentially faced decades in prison for the violations.

In the following months, he largely stripped himself of his former affiliation from Trump. In July, he told ABC that his “first loyalty” was not to Trump but to his family and country. After once stepping gingerly around Cohen’s probable betrayal, Trump has also taken off the gloves, lacing into his former confidante on Twitter, accusing Cohen — in a subtweet — of turning on him to get out of unrelated legal trouble.

You can read the full story in Vanity Fair here.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Michael Cohen Urges People to Vote Against Trump to Prevent 'Another Six Years of This Craziness'

Watch MSNBC Host Turn to 50 Cent for Analysis of Michael Cohen Flipping on Trump (Video)

Michael Cohen Attorney Outs Himself as Source of Trump-Russia CNN Report | 11/2/18
Russia's sanctions against 322 Ukrainian citizens and 68 companies come as a serious blow to the economy of Ukraine. The sanctions block non-cash funds, securities and property on the territory of the Russian Federation. They also prohibit the transfer of Ukrainian capital out of Russia. However, the Russian authorities have not sanctioned the Ukrainian oligarchs, who finance the war in the Donbass. Ukraine's top Russophobes - President Petro Poroshenko, oligarchs Igor Kolomoisky and Rinat Akhmetov do not appear on Russia's black lists either. Has Russia struck a serious blow on Ukraine indeed? We asked this question to experts.
The Kremlin froze the Russian assets of a broad cross-section of Ukraine’s political and business elite, saying it was responding to Kiev’s moves. | 11/1/18
Russia imposed economic sanctions against 322 Ukrainian citizens and 68 companies. The Kremlin hopes that the sanctions will help normalise Ukraine's relations with Russia. The decree to impose sanctions against Ukrainian natural persons and legal entities was signed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to counteract unfriendly actions against Russian citizens and organisations.Russia will thus freeze bank accounts, securities and property in Russia for individuals and legal entities of Ukraine. In addition, it will not be allowed to withdraw capital outside Russia. The sanctions apply to judges of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the 8th convocation, major Ukrainian entrepreneurs, officials of the presidential administration of Ukraine, heads of executive bodies and large Ukrainian companies, legal entities controlled by Ukraine's largest businessmen.Russia's sanctions will in particular affect Ukrainian MP Anton Gerashchenko, the leader of the Batkivshchyna party Yulia Tymoshenko, former head of the Majlis of the Crimean Tatars Mustafa Dzhemilev, chief military prosecutor of Ukraine Anatoly Matios and the son of Ukrainian President, businessman Alexei Poroshenko. The sanctions will also be imposed on chemical company Ukrhimenergo, located in the Luhansk region.Russia may lift the sanctions in the event Ukraine lifts its sanctions against Russia. Reportedly, however, Russia's sanctions list does not include Ukraine's wealthiest man Rinat Akhmetov, whose fortune was evaluated at $5.5 billion according to Forbes magazine. Akhmetov's key industrial assets are concentrated in the Donbas, from where he comes. His companies provide electricity and heat to most of Ukraine's settlements.The list of Russia's sanctions against Ukraine does not include Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Vladimir Groysman. The sanctions will not affect businessman Igor Kononenko - Poroshenko's right hand and his main business partner. Poroshenko's confectionary holding Roshen does not appear on the lists either. Introducing retaliatory measures against Ukraine, the Kremlin expects Kiev to show political will to normalise relations with the Russian Federation sooner or later, presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters.When asked about the absence of Ukrainian president on Russia's black lists, Peskov said that presidents usually are not included on sanctions lists as it would be off the scale, Putin's official spokesman said. Ukraine imposed sanctions against dozens of Russian citizens after Russia reunited with the Crimea in 2014. Ukraine has been expanding its restrictions against Russia afterwards. In May 2018, the list contained the names of 1,748 Russian individuals and 756 legal entities. They are Russian MPs, Russian political parties, businessmen and their companies.

Facebook, despite missing on Wall Street revenue estimates for the second straight quarter and reporting flat user growth in the U.S., saw its share price inch higher on Tuesday afternoon, after reporting better-than-anticipated Q3 earnings.

Facebook reported earnings of $1.76 per share and revenue of $13.73 billion, easily surpassing analyst earnings estimates of $1.47 per share but narrowly missing on sales estimates of $13.78 billion. Revenue increased 33 percent year-over-year. Facebook increased its profits 9 percent year-over-year, reporting $5.14 billion in net income.

The company also reported underwhelming user growth. Monthly active users moved higher, with Facebook adding 40 million MAUs to hit 2.27 billion overall. Daily active users crept upwards as well, hitting 1.49 billion DAUs, compared with 1.47 billion last quarter. Analysts had estimated 1.51 billion DAUs and 2.29 billion MAUs. And most of Facebook’s growth is coming outside the U.S. and Europe — the company’s two most lucrative markets. Facebook remained flat at 185 daily users in North America, and lost 1 million daily active users in Europe.

Also Read: Facebook Deletes 82 Iranian Accounts for Misinformation on Trump, Kaepernick

Shareholders didn’t appear to mind the lukewarm user growth — especially compared to smaller competitors like Snap and Twitter recently reporting a drop in users — with Facebook shares increasing about 2 percent in after-hours trading to $149 per share.

“Our community and business continue to grow quickly, and now more than 2 billion people use at least one of our services every day,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement. “We’re building the best services for private messaging and stories, and there are huge opportunities ahead in video and commerce as well.”

Also Read: Facebook Inflated Video Views up to 900 Percent, Amended Lawsuit Says

The company declined to share specifics on Instagram’s user and sales growth, something Wall Street and investors have kept their eyes on as Facebook itself reaches a saturation point for user growth. The company did boast “more than 2.6 billion people now use Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, or Messenger each month” in its earnings statement. Facebook executives had warned last quarter the company could be entering a stage in its history where it doesn’t routinely post breakneck revenue and user growth.

It’s been a turbulent three months since Facebook last reported earnings. The company reported in July the dreaded combo of uninspiring user growth and a miss on Wall Street’s revenue expectations. (Facebook, even missing analyst estimates, posted its best quarterly revenue in its history.) The company’s stock, which had recovered from its Cambridge Analytica swoon earlier in the year, has since dropped about 20 percent, trading below $147 per share as markets closed on Tuesday. Facebook shares are down more than 15 percent since the start of 2018.

Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company made a concerted media push to quell fears it was unable to securely protect user data. Those efforts were punctured earlier this month, when Facebook announced a breach of its security system. The breach left 30 million users vulnerable to having profile information lifted — including their contact information, location and recent search history.
The social network’s defense against fake news has also been tested in recent months. Facebook announced in August it had removed hundreds of accounts tied to Iran and Russia for spreading political misinformation. Another 82 Iranian-tied accounts — spreading fake news on a myriad of topics, from immigration to President Trump to Colin Kaepernick — were deleted last week, the company announced.

The company will hold a conference call at 5 p.m ET to discuss its earnings.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Frontline's 'Facebook Dilemma' Shows How Facebook Became the 'Dominant Information Source for Entire Countries'

Facebook, Twitter Suspend Accounts Tied to Cesar Sayoc

Facebook Deletes 82 Iranian Accounts for Misinformation on Trump, Kaepernick | 10/30/18

Yahoo today announced it has agreed to pay $50 million in damages and will offer two years of free credit-monitoring services to 200 million people whose email addresses and other personal information were stolen as part of the massive security breach. Michael Liedtke reporting in The Associated Press: "The restitution hinges on federal court approval of a settlement filed late Monday in a 2-year-old lawsuit seeking to hold Yahoo accountable for digital burglaries that occurred in 2013 and 2014, but weren't disclosed until 2016. ... Verizon will now pay for one half of the settlement cost, with the other half paid by Altaba Inc., a company that was set up to hold Yahoo's investments in Asian companies and other assets after the sale. ... About 3 billion Yahoo accounts were hit by hackers that included some linked to Russia by the FBI ." | 10/23/18
U.S. sanctions have driven the price of oil and the ruble apart—leaving Russia with expensive crude and a cheaper currency, a combination that is helping its economy. | 10/16/18
Russia’s third-class communal railcars have for decades melded together people, cuisine and customs from across the nation’s 11 time zones. Now passengers fear something vital will be lost as the “platzkart” gets redesigned and replaced as part of an effort to boost a sanction-laden economy. | 9/26/18
Russia’s third-class communal railcars have for decades melded together people, cuisine and customs from across the nation’s 11 time zones. Now passengers fear something vital will be lost as the “platzkart” gets redesigned and replaced as part of an effort to boost a sanction-laden economy. | 9/26/18

A split Panel in an early decision under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) held that parties deserve more than "[i]t depends [on] what panelist you draw." Time Inc. v. Chip Cooper, D2000-1342 (WIPO February 13, 2001). That's one side of the paradigm; the other side makes demands on the parties to prove their contentions, either of cybersquatting (one element of which is proving that respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests) or rebutting the claim (one element of which is respondent demonstrating it has rights or legitimate interests). The Majority held that credibility is an element of persuasion:

The dissent spends much time in an attempt to explain Respondent's inaction, but none explaining his actions. The dissent believes that the panel should refrain from evaluating the credibility of the parties. The majority disagrees. As panelists, we are not obliged to put away our common sense before we open a file. Why was it necessary to register the Complainant's mark in all three generally available gTLDs in order to accomplish any of the aims Respondent professed to have? The majority believes that it was not necessary

Respondent in Time Inc. could hardly deny that the phrase "Life Magazine" was identical to Complainant's mark; its sole argument was the subjective claim that it had no intention to infringe, but intention is measured by its consequences; if the act produces injury, it is intended.

If words and phrases are common property (corralled in dictionaries or expressions in common use), trademark owners cannot own them but are granted limited rights to prevent others from using them for unlawful purposes. Time Inc. cannot own "life." To bring it more current, the trademark owner of ATLAS has no exclusive right to "atlas" in the phrase "Atlas Global Van lines," AWGI, LLC v. Cordelli Brian Scarlet / null, FA180800 1801553 (Forum September 18, 2018) (. The limitation is explained in Entrepreneur Media, Inc. v. Smith, 279 F.3d 1135, 1147 (9th Cir. 2002): "Although EMI has the exclusive right to use the trademark 'ENTREPRENEUR' to identify the products described in its registration, trademark law does not allow EMI to appropriate the word 'entrepreneur' for its exclusive use." The concept that preserves words and phrases from being monopolized lives on in UDRP awards, the "Atlas" case being the most recent.

A different law applies to coinages. Unless canceled for genericide, mark owners have enforceable rights for every part of speech. If it's a noun it cannot be appropriated as a verb. The Respondent in Google Inc. v. Jan Jeltes, DAU2008-0012 (WIPO October 20, 2008) and Google Inc. v. Jeltes Consulting/N. Tea Pty Ltd, D2008-0994 (WIPO August 20, 2008) converted the noun into a verb--"to google" — and thence into another noun "googler" —> and — and thence (again) for the verb "googles."

The plaintiff in a U.S. federal action (joined by a losing Respondent in a UDRP proceeding, Chris Gillespie) tried a different tack for Google, of petitioning the court "for cancellation [of Google's trademark] on the ground that the word 'google' is primarily understood as 'a generic term universally used to describe the act[ ] of internet searching.'" Elliott v. Google, Inc., 860 F. 3d 1151 (9th Circuit 2017). In the earlier UDRP proceeding, Respondent-Gillespie argued that the "Complainant has been aware for some time that its mark is being used generically as a transitive verb meaning 'to search the Internet'. Since 'google' is now considered a generic term, the proper forum to decide the issue is the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board or the courts [not a UDRP proceeding]." Google Inc. v. Chris Gillespie, FA1203001434643 (Forum May 10, 2012).

Respondent-Gillespie in the UDRP proceeding had registered 763 domain names that "paired the word 'google' with some other term identifying a specific brand, person, or product — for example, ',' ',' and ''" The three-member Panel rejected the genericide argument as being out of the scope of the UDRP and reduced the issue to comparison of domain names and trademark. It found that Respondent lacked rights or legitimate interests, and had registered the domain and was using domain name in bad faith.

To the Court, Elliott was essentially missing the point:

In order to show that there is no efficient alternative for the word "google" as a generic term, Elliott must show that there is no way to describe "internet search engines" without calling them "googles." Because not a single competitor calls its search engine "a google," and because members of the consuming public recognize and refer to different "internet search engines," Elliott has not shown that there is no available substitute for the word "google" as a generic term.

Important for UDRP parties is the Court's advice because what holds true in court to prove contentions is also true in the administrative proceedings, to wit

Elliott cannot survive summary judgment based on "sheer quantity" of irrelevant evidence. We agree with the district court that, at best, Elliott has presented admissible evidence to support the inference that a majority of the relevant public uses the verb "google" in a generic sense. Because this fact alone cannot support a claim of genericide, the district court properly granted summary judgment for Google. (Emphasis added).

This is a good segue into the topic of persuasion or lack of it, and why. There are three recent cases for this review, a four-letter string of letters, Elgi Equipments Limited v. Michael Zielinski, Worldengine Holdings LLC, D2018-1625 (WIPO September 7, 2018) (. Complaint denied), a neologism in Goodr LLC v. Michael Rader, Brandroot, D2018-1171 (WIPO August 28, 2018) (. Complaint granted), and the already mentioned phrase in AWGUI, .

In Elgi Equipment, the four-letter string is either a coinage (Complainant), an acronym (for other businesses and trades) or, more simply, a string of random letters. The parties are located in India and the U.S. The disputed domain name was registered eleven years ago. Complainant alleges "elgi" is an invented term, a parochial view since Respondent demonstrated that the word is a surname, a geographic term as the name of a river in Russia, is used by at least two other businesses around the world who use the letters as an acronym, one of whom has the dot com registration, and is an abbreviation for "electronic gas injection" in certain industries.

Each of these successive pieces of evidence undercuts Complainant's contentions and adds to the persuasiveness of Respondent's defense. Complainant's contentions are also undercut by the existing facts. While "the Complainant has set out reasonable evidence of the extent of its contemporary activities under the ELGI mark ... and there is no doubt that as at the date of the Complaint its reach extends to the United States where the Respondent is based," nevertheless

the Respondent is correct to point out that the Complainant's acquisition of its manufacturing base in the United States in 2012 post-dates the registration of the disputed domain name by some five years and that, furthermore, in media coverage of this event produced by the Complainant an article notes that this purchase "will give Elgi a strong foothold in a market where it is not present".

The Panel points out that this "independent media report supports the Respondent's position in that it indicates that the Respondent is unlikely to have known of the Complainant because it had no market presence in the United States when the Respondent registered the disputed domain name and would not do so for a further five years thereafter. The Respondent's evidence that the filing of the Complainant's United States registered trademarks also post-date the registration of the disputed domain name by a number of years provides further support for its case." While this is not a case Complainant should never have brought, which is why the Panel declined to sanction it for reverse domain name hijacking, it had no actionable claim for cybersquatting.

The neologism "Goodr" introduces a different kind of problem for Respondent, namely that it is not a word in the English language. It's the kind of coinage possibly analogous to "bettr" or "greatr" in which the omitted vowels notwithstanding are recognizably English words with omitted vowels. That is not true of "goodr." Nevertheless, Respondent alleged that the name was generic, a difficult assertion since the word (even without the missing vowel) is manufactured ("worser" could be an example since it is in the dictionary although listed as "substandard."). However, the three-member Panel was not persuaded that "gooder" was a word or Respondent's argument that

it acquired the disputed domain name, which is a valuable five-letter domain, because of the generic and/or common usage of the term "goodr" as a descriptive term or as a surname. Respondent notes that the term "goodr" is a play on, reference to, and/or abbreviation of "gooder" and "do-gooder".... Respondent contends that it has developed and sold many other similar portfolios of descriptive terms that drop vowels, including , , , and .

To be noted, though, "buyr," "hotgrl," "leadrs," and "" are recognizable as English words minus vowels. Not so "goodr" (the sole use is found the noun phrase "do-gooder.") The Panel held that

Notably, while Respondent claims to have registered the disputed domain name on the basis of its generic or common usage, the website at the disputed domain name makes no use of or reference to "goodr" as a common or descriptive term or that "goodr" is a play on "gooder" or "do?gooder." Instead, the website refers to the disputed domain name as a "great name," and "a snappy and memorable take on the word 'good'", which in combination could be seen as suggesting that the term "goodr" is essentially distinctive or fanciful and not a common descriptive term as Respondent now argues.

Although not cited by the Panel, Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, D2000-0003 (WIPO February 18, 2000) offers a clue (unconscious to the Panel chair, I think) that an inference will be drawn from respondent's choice of name when "it is not possible to conceive of any plausible actual or contemplated active use of the Domain Name by respondent that would not be illegitimate." The Panel held:

Simply put, Respondent, who promotes itself as a branding expert, either deliberately chose to ignore Complainant's rights or deliberately decided not to conduct any search when determining that GOODR was unique and had good "brandability". Respondent was either aware of, or through its own representations should have been aware of, Complainant's rights when acquiring the disputed domain name and when later seeking to capitalize on the disputed domain name.

The Atlas case illustrates yet another issue, namely a trademark composed of a common dictionary word incorporated into a phrase that can plausibly be used for goods or services that "would not be illegitimate":

The Complaint filed in this proceeding is exceedingly spare. In particular, it makes no attempt to show, by at least proof prima facie, that Respondent has failed to use, or to make demonstrable preparations to use, the contested domain name, "in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services" as provided in Policy ¶ 4(c)(i).

Worse (not worser!) for the Complainant is a miscue on its submission, hence a puncturing of credibility:

there is attached to the Complaint a screen print of the web page that is claimed to resolve from the disputed domain name. That web page displays a street address in Flushing, New York, a phone number, an e-mail address, a US Department of Transportation (USDOT) number and a Motor Carrier (MC) number. The Complaint does not suggest that any investigation has been made to determine the bona fides of these items of information. And, although the same web page also contains tabs labeled "Get Free Quote," "About Us," "Services," "Contact," "References" and "Letters," the Complaint makes no showing that these tabs have been explored to determine if they reflect whether a bona fide business is under operation at the challenged domain name.

The Panel found these omissions leave open the possibility that Respondent has "rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name" within the meaning of Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). Because Complainant has left this question unattended, we cannot, on the record before us, conclude that Complainant has met its three-pronged obligations of proof under Policy ¶ 4(a)."

The common element in all these cases is a combination of undigested evidence promoted as conclusive and issues of credibility, either lack of it or reinforced by concrete evidence. The Atlas and Elgi Complainants and Goodr Respondent lacked credibility, that is the contentions lacked sufficient evidence to support requested conclusions. Parties lose when they substitute allegations of fact for the substance of fact.

Written by Gerald M. Levine, Intellectual Property, Arbitrator/Mediator at Levine Samuel LLP | 9/25/18
Andrei Kostin, the head of VTB Bank, shared his plans for the future of foreign currency in the Russian Federation. During the Eastern Economic Forum, Kostin, who is ranked one of Russia's most prominent bankers, suggested legal addresses of Russia's largest holding companies should be transferred under Russia's jurisdiction. According to him, foreign registrations of Russian legal entities makes the fulfilment of subsequent tasks more complicated. Kostin pointed out the need to place Eurobonds on Russian platforms and abandon the primary depository in the form of Euroclear. Many experts believe that such suggestions would take Russia towards self-isolation.The head of VTB also pointed out the need for all participants of the stock market to adhere to "unified rules." Some assumed in Russia that Mr. Kostin thus wanted to punish the Americans for the sanctions that they had imposed on him. In a nutshell, Andrei Kostin offered President Putin a plan to refuse from the US dollar. The plan is not very original: Kostin suggests making Russia an outcast country, in which dollar settlements would be excluded. Iran and Venezuela had taken such measures for their economies some time ago, but neither Iran nor Venezuela have showed an economic breakthrough yet. Quite on the contrary, the two nations suffer from declining national currencies and a plethora of restrictions. Some suggested Mr. Kostin could go to Venezuela or Iran to learn a few lessons there. Earlier, Andrei Kostin caused quite a stir in Russia, when he said that Russian citizens' dollar deposits could be converted at market value into rubles.Experts were more restrained in their assessment of Kostin's suggestion. Maksim Shein, the chief investment strategist of BCS, told Pravda.Ru that it makes no difference what currency banks choose to return deposits to clients - the most important thing is to have foreign currency deposits converted into rubles at market value.  The problem of Andrei Kostin's statements and reactions to them is about the radical presentation of such information. It is clear to all in Russia that the national market will grow increasingly national and ruble-oriented against the backdrop of sanctions and Russia's course to economic sovereignty. Mr. Kostin tries to hold common people accountable for the economic crisis in the country. Many people in today's Russia still remember the attitude to foreign currency in the USSR. However, the Soviet Union used to have a developed social system. All the recent moves of the Russian authorities in relation to the retirement age indicate that Russia is taking a sharp liberal turn in economy. Currency restrictions do not fit into liberal reforms. Clearly, Russian banks need to develop and grow under the conditions of economic and financial restrictions, especially when President Putin talks about the need for a major economic breakthrough. The people, however, are not happy about the fact that the breakthrough is going to be made at their expense. This gives rise to panic and scathing comments about Mr. Kostin and his suggestions. It is wort mentioning that the amount of transactions signed within the scope of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok totalled nearly three trillion rubles. Perhaps it is too early to put a cross on the Russian economy and expect dark years to come. Also read: Russian government prepares to get rid of US dollar in economy
The main event of September 13 in Russia is the interview, which Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov gave to RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan. The British authorities accused these two men of involvement in the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury and referred to them as officers of the Russian military intelligence, GRU. First off, the two men acknowledged in the interview that those were their real names. "From the very beginning, we wanted to come to London and have fun there, it was not a business trip. Our friends have long recommended we should go to visit this wonderful town of Salisbury. We went there to see Stonehenge, Old Sarum, but we couldn't do it, because traffic in England was paralysed on March 2 and 3," Petrov said. In Salisbury, they also wanted to see the town's cathedral, which is famous for its spire. Petrov and Boshirov acknowledged that they could have passed by Sergei Skripal's home, although they did not know where it was located. The two men also said that they did not bring any poisonous substances or Nina Ricci perfumes with them. "Isn't it silly for two normal lads to bring women's perfume along? When you go through customs control, they check all your belongings. If we had had something, they would have had questions as to why a man would have women's perfume in his luggage," Boshirov said.Boshirov and Petrov responded negatively to the question of their work for the Russian military intelligence, which is commonly referred to GRU, although its official name was changed several years ago. The men said that they work in the industry of fitness and sports nutrition. They confirmed that they had been to Switzerland several times as well, but mostly for tourism. The men said that their lived changed completely after their photos and videos were published in world media. "We can't go out, we are scared, we are scared for our lives, for our loved ones, for those people who know us," said Ruslan Boshirov. It is worthy of note that Petrov and Boshirov gave an interview to RT the day after President Putin appealed to them to come out to media representatives. Also read: Putin: We know who Skripal poisoners are
Viktor Zolotov, the chief of the Russian National Guards (Federal National Guard Troops Service), published a video address to opposition activist Alexei Navalny. In his address, Zolotov called Navalny out in a duel and promised to make a "juicy meat chop" out of him. The video comes as Zolotov's reaction to the recent investigation conducted by Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) into the procurement of foodstuffs for the Russian National Guards at inflated prices."With respect to me, you had insulting, slanderous reflections, and it's not customary for army officers to forgive that," Zolotov said in the video message posted on the YouTube channel of the Russian National Guards on September 11. "From time immemorial, the scoundrel would be punched in the face and summoned to a duel," he added. "Mr. Navalny, no one stops us from returning at least part of those traditions, I mean demanding satisfaction, I simply challenge you to a duel - to a ring, tatami, you name it, where I promise to make a fine, juicy meat chop out of you," Viktor Zolotov said sitting in front of the camera. It is worthy of note that Zolotov had earlier served as a security guard for President Putin. Zolotov also promised to trample on Navalny and use him as a door mat. "If, Mr. Navalny, you ever again speak in an insulting or slanderous tone about me or my family members, I promise you that before I step over you and use you as a door mat, I will arrange a show for the entire staff of the National Guards," said Zolotov.It is worthy of note that Viktor Zolotov challenged Navalny at a time when the latter is serving his 30-day arrest in Moscow and has no way to respond.In his video address, the director of the Russian National Guards recalled another investigation conducted by Navalny's Anti-Corruption Fund  - about the property of Zolotov's family. The report, published in 2016, evaluated Viktor Zolotov's property at 663 million rubles."I'm not a poor man indeed. Unlike you, when you were just learning to sit down on a pot, I had served in the army, worked at a factory production, was, by the way, an outstanding communist worker, and later engaged in business activities," the military man said. Earlier, officials at the Russian Guards called Navalny's investigation of the purchase of food products for the agency "falsified and provocative." "The deliveries of food and the provision of food services for the troops of the National Guard of the Russian Federation is carried out by an organisation appointed by the government of the Russian Federation in accordance with the current legislation," Zolotov said.We would like to note here that Alexei Navalny's team continues investigating into a variety of "corruption schemes", while all of those investigations have a zero degree of effectiveness. Navalny's Anti-Corruption Fund had conducted investigations into "cases" of Dmitry Medvedev, Yuri Kovalchuk, Igor Shuvalov, Igor Sechin, Vyacheslav Volodin, Alisher Usmanov and others. Many of them sued Navalny and won the trials. Mr. Zolotov could follow in their footsteps and do the same. It appears that someone at the top let Alexei Navalny become such a principled oppositionist to release the steam of people's discontent. Navalny himself profits from creating his image of a person, who unmasks others. In fact, however, he is a competent narrator of "scary" stories, a populariser, who wants to be the leader of Russia's opposition, if not president. Many in Russia found Viktor Zolotov's address to Navalny ridiculous. "We have no doubt about the wonderful physical shape of Mr. Zolotov, but we do have doubt of whether he is a man of a high intellectual level," bloggers write on social media. 

As an explosive New York Times op-ed about President Donald Trump dominates the headlines, senior officials in the White House are denying on the record that they have any connection to the piece, titled “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.”

In the essay, an anonymous author claiming to be a senior official within the Trump administration asserted that top White House officials are secretly working to “thwart” the president’s “misguided impulses” and “worst inclinations.” The author also blasted Trump’s “amorality” and “anti-democratic” actions, and accused the president of attacking conservative ideals including “free minds, free markets and free people.”

RELATED: President Trump Suggests Times Made Up Official Who Penned Op-Ed After First Calling It Treason

“Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back,” the author wrote.

Does the so-called “Senior Administration Official” really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source? If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2018

As speculation around the author’s identity continues to build — with even the president unsure of how to respond to the essay — here are the members of the president’s cabinet who, according to NBC News, have said they did not write the Times op-ed.


Some have pointed to Pence’s affinity for the archaic word “lodestar”, which is used in the op-ed, as a clue that he’s the culprit. But the vice president’s office “definitively denies” that he was the author, and his communications director tweeted that “the Vice President puts his name on his Op-Eds.”

The Vice President puts his name on his Op-Eds. The @nytimes should be ashamed and so should the person who wrote the false, illogical, and gutless op-ed. Our office is above such amateur acts.

— Jarrod Agen (@VPComDir) September 6, 2018


Pompeo said, “It’s not mine” and chastised The Times for taking “a disgruntled deceptive bad actor’s word for anything and put it in their newspaper.”


“Speculation that The New York Times op-ed was written by me or my Principal Deputy is patently false. We did not,” he said in a statement.


“Secretary Nielsen is focused on leading the men and women of DHS and protecting the homeland – not writing anonymous and false opinion pieces for the New York Times,” the agency’s press secretary, Tyler Q. Houlton, said in a statement.

RELATED: Trump Reportedly Requested Official Photos of His Inauguration Have ‘Empty Areas’ Cropped Out


“It was not his op-ed,” chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said.


“No, Dir. Mulvaney is not the author,” a spokesperson for Mulvaney told NBC News.


“The Secretary didn’t write the op-ed,” a spokesperson for Carson told NBC News.


“It is laughable to think this could come from the Secretary,” Tony Sayegh Jr., a spokesman for Mnuchin, tweeted.

.@stevenmnuchin1 is honored to serve @POTUS & the American people. He feels it was irresponsible for @nytimes to print this anonymous piece. Now, dignified public servants are forced to deny being the source. It is laughable to think this could come from the Secretary.

— Tony Sayegh Jr. (@tony4ny) September 6, 2018


“Neither Secretary Wilkie nor anyone else at VA wrote the op-ed,” an agency spokesperson told NBC News.


“The Secretary does not play these sophomoric Washington games. He is definitively not the author,” a department spokesperson told NBC News.


“No!” Haspel’s press secretary Tim Barrett said.


“Of course not,” Conway told NBC News.


“Acting Administrator Wheeler supports President Trump 100 percent and is honored to serve in his Cabinet. He also believes whoever wrote the op-ed should resign,” an EPA spokesperson told NBC News.


“No, Secretary Perdue did not write the op-ed,” a department spokesperson told NBC News.


“Administrator McMahon is not the author,” an agency spokesperson told NBC News.


“I am not the author of the New York Times OpEd, nor do I agree with its characterizations,” Perry tweeted.

I am not the author of the New York Times OpEd, nor do I agree with its characterizations. Hiding behind anonymity and smearing the President of the United States does not make you an "unsung hero", it makes you a coward, unworthy of serving this Nation.

— Rick Perry (@SecretaryPerry) September 6, 2018


“I did not write and am thoroughly appalled by this op-ed,” Ross tweeted.

I did not write and am thoroughly appalled by this op-ed. I couldn’t be prouder of our work at Commerce and of @POTUS.

— Sec. Wilbur Ross (@SecretaryRoss) September 6, 2018

RELATED VIDEO: Trump Calls Omarosa Manigault Newman a ‘Dog’ After She Claims He’s Racist and in ‘Mental Decline’


McGahn told reporters, “no,” when they asked if he was the author.


“For those who have inquired, this is to confirm that Secretary Chao is not the author of the op-ed,” a spokesperson told NBC News.


“When you’re serving as the U.S. envoy in Moscow, you’re an easy target on all sides. Anything sent out by me would have carried my name. An early political lesson I learned: never send an anonymous op-ed,” Huntsman said, via a statement tweeted by a spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Moscow.

Amb Huntsman: Come to find, when you’re serving as the U.S. envoy in Moscow, you’re an easy target on all sides. Anything sent out by me would have carried my name. An early political lesson I learned: never send an anonymous op-ed.

— Andrea Kalan (@USEmbRuPress) September 6, 2018


“No, Secretary Azar did not write the op-ed,” an agency spokesperson told NBC News.


“I did not write it. It does not reflect my views at all, and it does not reflect the views of anyone I know in the Administration,” he said via a statement to NBC News. | 9/6/18

In what’s becoming a rite of passage for Silicon Valley executives, Twitter chief Jack Dorsey headed to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, testifying to Congress that his company doesn’t censor users based on politics or target conservative voices.

Those in the gallery and watching at home didn’t glean much new from Dorsey’s testimony, however. Dorsey calmly reiterated much of what he’s already said in recent months — that Twitter doesn’t make decisions based on “political ideology,” as he said in his opening remarks. This comes after the company has been criticized from both the left and the right of late. Conservatives have accused Twitter of shadow-banning prominent right-wing voices — which Dorsey denied on Wednesday. At the same time, the social media platform has been skewered by many on the left for not booting conspiracy theorist Alex Jones last month, as did several other tech giants.

When asked why Twitter suspended conservative commentator Candace Owens for mimicking New York Times reporter Sarah Jeong’s contentious tweets, including “cancel white people,” Dorsey said it was a “mistake.”

He argued it wouldn’t make business sense for Twitter to jettison large swaths of Republicans, viewing the platform as a new-age “public square” where almost anything should be allowed to be said. “Impartiality is our guiding principle,” Dorsey added.

Also Read: Jack Dorsey Tells Congress Twitter Doesn't Use 'Political Ideology' to Make Decisions

Dorsey also acknowledged the Twitter ecosystem can often be “toxic” for users, particularly women, as Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) put it. The exec said Twitter is focused on making the platform more hospitable right now, at the expense of all-out growth.

“Our singular objective as a company right now is to increase the health of public conversation, and we realize that will come at short-term cost,” Dorsey said.

The few moments that offered an opportunity for clarity didn’t reveal much. Dorsey declined to disclose how many content moderators the company has employed, saying he’ll follow up with “specific numbers” later. He was cagey when pressed by one representative to disclose his political affiliation, eventually conceding and saying he’s a registered Independent. One illuminating exchange did come when Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) pressed Dorsey on whether Twitter follows Russian laws mandating user data be stored in Russia. Dorsey at first said he’ll get back to Kinzinger on it, before saying, “We don’t have servers in Russia.”

Also Read: Twitter Begins Labeling Political Ads Ahead of 2018 Election

Dorsey was often candid when talking about how Twitter can improve. On its arcane user guidelines, Dorsey said if you “sat down with a cup of coffee you wouldn’t be able to understand them.” He added Twitter’s verification process is  “not where we’d like it to be” and needs work.

While several Republican urged Twitter to treat conservatives fairly, some Democrats said the questions over political bias were a waste of time. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) called the fixation on Twitter’s politics a “charade” at one point.

The day did have a farcical element to it. During a break in the Senate’s hearing earlier in the day, Jones — on hand in the audience — called Sen. Marco Rubio a “frat boy” and “snake.” Rubio, in return, dismissed Jones as a “clown.” Later, right-wing activist Laura Loomer interrupted the hearing, loudly shouting at Dorsey. She was drowned out by Rep. Billy Young (R-LA) suddenly bursting into an auctioneer’s call.

Also Read: Twitter Tests Recommending Accounts to Unfollow

Ultimately, the daylong testimony yielded little insight. Much like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s trip to Washington last spring, our elected representatives lobbed complaints and demanded Twitter do a better job, whether its protecting conservatives or making its platform less toxic. But they also said they’d prefer Twitter handle its issues alone, preferring to bypass legislation that would restrict major social media companies. In other words, don’t expect Congress to do much about Silicon Valley’s headaches for the time being.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Jack Dorsey Tells Congress Twitter Doesn't Use 'Political Ideology' to Make Decisions

Twitter Denies Jack Dorsey Personally Stopped Alex Jones Ban

Twitter Begins Labeling Political Ads Ahead of 2018 Election | 9/6/18

An IDN is a domain name which uses a particular encoding and format to allow a wider range of scripts to represent domain names such as Gujarati, Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, Devanagari and many more scripts. In simple words, a domain name with non-English characters will be called an Internationalized Domain Name.

Humans have a variety of languages and alphabets that are familiar to them, and domain names do too. IDN unlocks an increased familiarity and affinity for humans. Well, it is easy to say now that IDNs are an investment in your company's future. Also, such audience uses keyboards that enables only their native language, thus when they look for a domain name, it makes complete sense for companies to make these domains available for them.

Another angle to understand why it is important for a company to have IDNs.

Have you seen a 2-sided business card? One side is always in English and one side in a local language. Why do people do it? Names and Brands for that matter have a strong sentimental component for attachment to what language you speak and you would certainly like to hold on to a domain name of your company in that language to protect your Brand.

Companies need to upgrade their network not just for serving the local audience but a global world of local audiences too. Once you become Universal Ready, then your system will support all local languages around the world, for example, if your system can support Hindi Email Addresses, technically it supports Russian and Chinese Email Addresses too.

There are various examples if we look at different countries adopting IDNs. In Russia, the IDN's have been adopted for visual marketing. They've done some measurement that suggests it takes just 2 seconds for someone to recognize and remember a Cyrillic domain name, but considerably longer to remember an ASCII address. Many companies in Russia started out using their IDNs for this purpose and then redirecting users to their ASCII website. Since then some have started native Cyrillic websites.

In India, Government of Rajasthan adopted IDNs and provided every citizen a free Email Address in their native language to remove the language barrier and connect every citizen to the Internet.

Coming back to Why Companies should adopt IDN, there are more reasons to it. Delaying implementing EAI increases the cost of its eventual implementation as it could mean rewriting or re-architecting code that is in development now. It also increases technical debt that will need to be resolved at some point.

Market Opportunity

CEOs are sensitive to financial and market opportunities. However, although native language support is an important factor in capturing a market, there are also many other factors that have to be resolved simultaneously. (For example, having native language speakers in customer support and call centers, native language marketing, social media, etc.) Therefore many of the arguments about market size and opportunity are not as compelling as most people think until they are made specific to the industry and demographics of the company's particular product space.


Local or global competitors can leverage their support for EAI and native languages to take away market share. That is a cogent threat.

User Experience, Customer Satisfaction and Retention

Users may have pride or feel their status is elevated by having a native language and personalized email address or IDN. Employees may also take pride in an IDN for their company.

EAI offers ease of use including entry (typing, handwriting recognition, voice), visual and voice recognition, memory recall, and easier site navigation.

Also, EAI/IDN makes it easier for users to communicate or transfer linguistic domain names to each other, since they can speak them or write them out on paper, etc.

Reach and Brand

IDN may improve SEO as the local content is lesser for your region in comparison to English. This gives early mover advantage to set up better-searched pages and rankings for your site. This reinforces and protects the localized company and product names.

As people tend to understand and visualize local language much better, IDN will make it easier for users to recognize phishing or other malicious variants of the company domain name. It even gives you the advantage of protecting brand names and prevent others from infringing on your rights in a domain name or using it to hurt your brand or trademark or hurt your SEO.

Special thanks to UASG.TECH and experts from industry who have all contributed their views namely Andrew Sullivan, Andre Schappo, Ashish Modi, Don Hollander, Edmon, Jothan Frakes, Mark Svancarek, Nitin Walia, Pinkard Alan, Roberto Gaetano, and Tex.

Written by Ajay Data, Founder and CEO at XgenPlus | 8/31/18
President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev have played the game of bad cop and good cop in their efforts to explain the essence of the pension reform to the people of Russia. Putin's behaviour in relation to the prime minister looks unethical, just as it looks wrong in relation to his electors. It appears that Putin may eventually lose control of the patriotic idea - the only idea that still helps him stay in his office. After the president's televised address to the nation on August 29, it became clear that it was Putin who initiated the pension reform in Russia. This is evidenced by his harsh affirmation about the lack of alternatives to the reform. Until recently, however, Putin tried to distance himself from his government, which he had allegedly commissioned to develop and implement the unpopular reform. As a result, Medvedev failed to handle the psychological burden and disappeared from the public eye for a while. When he reappeared in front of the cameras, one could see him as a tired and sick person.Putin is being unethical towards his voters as well. Putin's voter is commonly known in Russia as "vatnik", who values Putin's achievements in building the Russian world, limiting the influence of American globalism and oligarchic structures.During the above-mentioned speech, Putin referred to experts twice without naming them. Apparently, it goes about Alexei Kudrin, experts of the Higher School of Economics - liberal, pro-Western people, whom Putin's voters despise. Thus, Putin has shown disrespect to his electors in a hope that people are ignorant and they do not need to know any names. Addressing the nation with his speech, Putin said: "Even if we sell all buildings of the Pension Fund, the money will be enough only for a few months. And then what?" However, we understand that it goes about all the knick-knacks, apartments and plots of land that our fat officials, MPs and oligarchs have. Putin clearly gave it to understand that he would never rip epaulettes off their shoulders. As a matter of fact, we do not understand now what makes Putin different from late Boris Yeltsin, who also entrusted everything to "Chicago boys" and plunged the country into chaos. We can see Putin threatening us now that the system will not have money for pensions in six or seven years if everything remains the same. The first reason for the looming crisis, as Putin says, is demography. "In 2005, the ratio of working citizens, who replenish the Pension Fund regularly, and citizens receiving old-age insurance pensions, is nearly 1.7 to one, but in 2019,  it will be 1.2 to one," Putin said noting that life expectancy in Russia had increased by eight years.The trend is the same in Western countries. Robots continue to replace humans depriving them of jobs, but the pension system in the West is far from collapsing. In Western countries, the pension fund gets replenished through the growth in people's wages and, accordingly, deductions to the budget. The most surprising thing is that such a system works identically in Russia too, although officials tend to conceal it in order to speculate on the topic of who feeds whom. Thus, the average Russian citizen during his work service of 20 years and an average salary of 40,000 rubles gives away about 2.4 million rubles to the Pension Fund. Russian male pensioners live for an average of eight years, during which they receive back only 1.600 million, and the state keeps the remaining 800,000 rubles in the budget. No one knows what that money goes for, although it is obvious that the state wants to take and spend even more. It is worthy of note that when speaking about the growth, Putin refers to Russia during the 1990s. Why not compare indicators of the year 2018 to 2014, when the West started imposing sanctions on Russia one after another, and the Russian economy started rolling down the hill?Putin dismisses all alternative proposals for financing the Pension Fund. He did not mention the amendment on the progressive scale of taxation, although there was such a proposal made at the hearings in the State Duma on August 21. That money could be used to compensate entrepreneurs for their contributions to the Pension Fund to support people of pre-retirement age.Putin does not want to attract oil revenues to finance the Pension Fund either. According to him, this money will not be enough to pay pensions for as little as two months. Yet, oil revenues constitute a supplementary, rather than the only source of income for the Pension Fund. "What if oil prices go down?" Putin says. Indeed, the government would then need to find a way to increase tax collection from other sources.For comparison, the deficit of the Pension Fund in 2018 will amount to 257 billion rubles, while the net outflow of capital in 2017 was 31.3 billion dollars, which is about 1 trillion 966 billion rubles. The National Welfare Fund holds 4 trillion 844 billion rubles. Gazprom's profit is evaluated at 997 billion rubles. The profit of Russia's largest state-run bank, Sberbank, is 542 billion rubles. The Russian shadow economy is evaluated at 33.6 trillion rubles, or 39 percent of GDP, said business ombudsman Boris Titov.Therefore, all of the measures that Putin voiced in his speech look superficial. We have an impression that all of the "gifts" that Putin mentioned in his speech had been included in the reform in advance. Obviously, the inflation will eat up the promised addition of 1,000 rubles per year. Putin speaks about a pension of 20,000 rubles by 2024, whereas in Europe, pensions make up 40 percent of what a people get during their work service. One can only guess why Putin takes such a position. Probably, this is due to the overwhelming external pressure. If Putin had tried to explain that, people would have probably understood. Instead, they saw their president laying the burden of responsibility for the future of the country on the population. Putin does not feel guilty for the fact that Russia has not been able to amass enough money during the 2000s to finance social programs and build an independent financial system. He does not feel guilty for showing insufficient resistance to the shadow economy and corruption. Instead, he was trying to come to terms with oligarchs. An agreement with them has turned out to be more important for him than an agreement with the people.Putin's voters want a strong social state that would successfully support the foreign policy of the Kremlin from the inside. The living standard in Russia has been decreasing for the last five years, and Putin wants his electors to pedal back. Putin's rating may eventually collapse, and the president will lose control of the idea of patriotism that he has been talking about for so long. People will feel humiliated and betrayed when they realise that their president lied to them. Lyuba Lulko (Stepushova)Pravda.Ru Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru
The Trump administration imposed new sanctions against Russia, escalating U.S. diplomatic pressure on Moscow as the White House tries to fend off a push by lawmakers to deploy even-more-potent tools to cripple the Russian economy. | 8/22/18
The Trump administration imposed new sanctions against Russia, escalating U.S. diplomatic pressure on Moscow as the White House tries to fend off a push by lawmakers to deploy even-more-potent tools to cripple the Russian economy. | 8/22/18
Elvira Nabiullina has earned an unusual degree of freedom to clean up Russia’s messy banking system and stabilize its economy against volatile markets and looming sanctions. Her skills have won her praise from Vladimir Putin—as well as from abroad. | 8/21/18
Elvira Nabiullina has earned an unusual degree of freedom to clean up Russia’s messy banking system and stabilize its economy against volatile markets and looming sanctions. Her skills have won her praise from Vladimir Putin—as well as from abroad. | 8/21/18
Russia experienced default on August 17, 1998. Today, 20 years after those events, the economic situation in Russia does not seem stable to many. As the ruble declines in value against the dollar and the euro, many believe that another default is likely to occur. However, experts say that such pessimistic forecasts are at least premature. During the late 1990s, the Russian economy had no mechanisms to protect itself from external negative factors. The crisis that started in Asia struck Russia easily. Economically, Russia was lying in ruins. The Soviet industrial complex was destroyed, and Russia's trade balance depended on oil almost entirely - more than 90 percent. During those years, Russia was running the program of short-term state liabilities known as the "GKO pyramid." It was built on the principle of a financial pyramid. Needless to say that all pyramids collapse sooner or later. In the GKO pyramid, however, the founder was the state. When the GKO system collapsed, it struck a powerful blow on the national economy. Currently, the economic situation in Russia differs a lot from that during the 1990s. First all, the share of materials and energy sectors is about 50 percent. The rest falls on the agrarian complex, chemical and military industries, machine building and a number of other strategic manufacturing industries.Secondly, despite, or even owing to such a factor of permanent external pressure as sanctions, the Russian economic system constantly develops new protective mechanisms. To crown it all, there is nothing in today's Russia that would be reminiscent to the GKO system. There are sanctions, external pressure and fluctuations in the Russian national currency. Economists, however, still give optimistic forecasts.For example, Yevgeny Yasin, who served as the minister for economy in 1993-97, believes that the war of sanctions with the USA would not cause a major economic crisis, although it would hinder development and create certain difficulties. Oleg Safonov, manager of BKS Ultima, is much more positive in his forecasts. In particular, he believes that the Russian economy does not look vulnerable today. "Despite the economic sanctions, Russia can keep calm in the foreseeable future. Russia has accumulated certain resources and restructured external debts. Plus, oil prices remain quite high. New sanctions will affect the economy, of course, but not too much," he said. US experts share a different opinion on the subject, though. Vladimir Rozhankovsky, an investment analyst with Global FX, believes that Western media outlets actively work to create a negative image of Russia in every way possible. "The scenario of 1998 is not going to repeat in Russia. Back in 1998, Asia failed to cope with enormous amounts of money. These days, however, it is developing countries that send their money to the USA. There are more chances for the US economy to collapse," the expert said. Economist Vladislav Zhukovsky does not share general optimism. "Default in Russia is inevitable. It will take place if oil prices decline. Russia receives 68 percent of its income from exporting oil and natural gas," he believes. Sergei Dubinin, the former head of the Bank of Russia, does not agree with the economist.  "The structure of the Russian economy today has nothing in common with that of the late 1990s. Today, the Russian Federation does not have a burden of a public debt, especially short-term, domestic debt. The entire Russian public debt, including the external one, is balanced by currencies. In addition, the floating exchange rate gives no promises to pay the debt at a fixed rate. The banking system is relatively stable, so default is not threatened Russia in any way." Photo credits:
If Oleg Sentsov wants to be pardoned, he needs to ask President Vladimir Putin personally about this. This is how the procedure goes in Russia, officials at the administration for ensuring constitutional rights of citizens under the presidential administration told Sentsov's mother in response to her petition for pardon of her son.The convict, Oleg Sentsov, will have to write a petition, but before it goes to Putin, a special committee and the head of the subject will have to approve the document. It is up to the head of state to make the final decision. Sentsov's mother was informed that her appeal was forwarded to the governor of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District, where the convict serves his sentence. Oleg Sentsov's mother appealed to the Russian president on July 13 with a request to pardon her son. In her letter to the president she wrote that her son's family was going through many problems and hardships without the father. On August 9, it became known that the letter was delivered to the pardon commission under the Russian president.We would like to recall here that there were many personal requests from a variety of public figures in Russia to pardon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Putin pardoned Khodorkovsky in 2013 on humane grounds (Khodorkovsky's mother was dying) after the entrepreneur had sent his personal petition to the president. In addition, experts and journalists note that Oleg Sentsov is not a director. "Oleg Sentsov from Simferopol was a common owner of a computer club. He did not have any cinematographic or any other type of education associated with art. At some point, his business went to the bottom, and Oleg wanted to make a film about the life of a gamer. This is the story behind his motion picture "Gamer" which was released in 2012. Oleg Sentsov was convicted in Russia for 20 years imprisonment on charges of terrorist activities. In May, the man went on a hunger strike, demanding the release of Ukrainian political prisoners. His protest lasts for more than 90 days.Russia's Federal Security Bureau arrested Oleg Sentsov, Alexander Kolchenko, Alexei Chirniya and Gennady Afanasyev on May 30, 2014. The men were suspected of organising a branch of the right-wing subversive and terrorist group Right Sector (banned in Russia) in the Crimean Republic.
Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov announced a possible move that Russia can take in response to new US sanctions. The new sanctions, which the US plans to put in effect against Russia on Aug. 22, include the ban on the supplies of dual-use equipment to Russia, restrict the activities of Russian banks, lower the level of diplomatic interaction and even ban the flights of Russia's Aeroflot to the United States.Many experts believe that Russia will choose to get rid of the US dollar in its economy. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said that the US dollar was an "unreliable currency." "We have significantly cut investing our reserves in US assets. In fact, the dollar, which was considered the world currency, already becomes a risk instrument for settlements," Siluanov said.The Russian Finance Minister also suggested a solution that may serve as Russia's powerful response to the United States. "We can fix the dollar equivalent, but receive the euro, other freely convertible currencies, and, eventually, the national currency for oil supplies," Siluanov said adding that Russia may continue reducing its investment in US securities. The remarks from the Finance Minister triggered many discussions in social media in Russia. Some believe that Mr. Siluanov was talking about the "beginning of the end" of the domestic market, the reintroduction of the planned economy similar to the one that used to exist in the USSR. Others see more reasons for the Russian ruble to decline further against the dollar. At the same time, the topic of the dollar peg in the Russian economy is not new. When Russian President Putin warned representatives of big business that it was becoming increasingly risky to keep money in foreign accounts and in offshore companies, he spoke about the current situation. In May of this year, Anton Siluanov also spoke about the need for Russia to move away from the dollar, although those statements did not attract much attention. "The restrictions that American partners impose are of an extraterritorial nature. The willingness of Europe to provide its position to American partners will show whether the euro can replace the dollar in settlements," he said. "If our European partners declare their unequivocal position, we certainly see a way out in using the European settlement unit and European organizations for financial settlements, payments for goods and services that often fall under various restrictions today," he added. Today, Siluanov continues this line of thinking and sees other currencies that may replace the dollar - the euro, the ruble and the yuan. The minister believes that one should invest less in dollars and use them less to be less dependent on sanctions. Yet, those who prefer to read between the lines are led to believe that the Russian government was going to ban the use of dollars in Russia. For the time being, Russia's state policy in relation to the US economy eyes further reduction of Russia's investment in US bonds and public debt. Photo credits:

Lindsay Lohan has some harsh words for women who have been outspoken about sexual harassment or sexual assault in the workplace.

During an interview with British publications The Times, the 32-year-old actress opened up about her own on-set experiences in Hollywood, saying she doesn’t “really have anything to say” about the #MeToo movement which began late last year.

“I can’t speak on something I don’t live, right? Look, I am very supportive of women. Everyone goes through their own experiences in their own ways,” Lohan said, claiming she didn’t condone “attention-seekers.”

When it comes to people who have experienced alleged harassment or assault, the Sick Note actress said, “If it happens at that moment, you discuss it at that moment.”

“You make it a real thing by making it a police report,” she said. “I’m going to really hate myself for saying this, but I think by women speaking against these things, it makes them look weak when they are very strong women.”

RELATED: Lindsay Lohan Lands Her Own MTV Reality Show, Lohan Beach Club — Get All the Details

Lohan continued, “You have these girls who come out, who don’t even know who they are, who do it for the attention. That is taking away from the fact that it happened.”

The former Mean Girls star is currently living near Kalo Livadi beach, southeast of Mykonos, Greece, where she co-owns the Lohan Beach House — a series of cabanas for rent to tourists for €1,000 a day, according to The Times.

She referenced her business success abroad as a method of getting back at her ex-fiancé, Russian business mogul Egor Tarabasov, after the two had an infamous physical fight on that very beach in July 2016.

“I had a fight with my ex on this very beach. What did I do? Nothing,” she said. “I just took over the beach. The best revenge is success, right?”

RELATED: Lindsay Lohan Threatens to ‘Fire’ Waitresses at Her Beach Club for Not Wearing Matching Shoes

Lohan also opened up about her faith, saying she doesn’t “subscribe to any particular religion” but that she does “believe there is a higher power than us.”

After getting bitten by a snake and contracting a debilitating virus that left her hospitalized for weeks in 2014, Lohan says she reached out to a trusted source for guidance.

“I called my shaman and she told me that the snake bit was actually a blessing,” she said, adding, “Yes, I have two shamans.”

As for what her future holds, the actress told The Times she has plans to launch her own children’s charity in Dubai and may even adopt a child.

“Probably from Russia,” she said. “I want a little blonde Russian boy.” | 8/9/18
Alexei Navalny announced another protest action in Russia on September 9. On this day, which will be the single voting day in Russia, Navalny urges all Russians to publicly express protest against the pension reform. Mr. Navalny traditionally tries to make his mass events happen on special and important days. Apparently, the opposition blogger tries to receive as much media coverage as possible in Western countries. Most of Navalny's meetings and rallies take place as unauthorized events, in which his followers often clash with representatives of law-enforcement agencies. It is important to understand that Alexei Navalny is not an independent persona. Simply put, he acts as a conductor of Western influence in Russia. It became especially evident after the rallies on Bolotnaya Square in Moscow. Those rallies became an attempt to make Maidan riots happen in Russia. It is worthy of note that Mr. Navalny had openly spoken about the need to raise the retirement age in the past. These days, however, he wants the Russians to protest against the pension reform. We have no questions to Mr. Navalny about it, because this is common logic of his political "struggle," or business, better to say. He has been extremely consistent in this business of his. The main question is why he had an opportunity to appear in the niche that is highly important for the entire Russian society. We believe that he appeared there because a public discussion on the need to raise the retirement age in Russia had failed from the very start. The State Duma is now on holiday, so there is no communication between electors and  parliamentarians. However, Internet and social media never go on holidays. Russian bloggers express their ardent protest against the pension reform bill and pay absolutely no attention to statements about important changes that the bill may have during further discussions in the parliament. State-run mass media, however, try to work in accordance with their agenda. First off, they do not call the pension reform a "reform" and refer to the experience of foreign states, even though Russia has major ideological discrepancies, if not confrontation, with Western countries. At the same time, the silence of the government, which came up with this reform and started promoting it, and the active position of the parliament, which started passing the bill contrary to all of its principles and reputation, creates interesting political sentiments in the Russian society. The majority of Russian people have their eyes on Vladimir Putin as the only power institution that remains with this majority and who is ready to conduct a full-fledged dialogue with his people, or listen to them, at least. All this takes us back to Putin's pre-election campaign, which the presidential administration should have supported informationally. It turned out, though, that it was Putin himself, who conducted the campaign for himself with his own forces and his real policy.In general, the situation with the pension reform is the same.  The Kremlin should have launched a massive propaganda campaign to inform the population and establish communication channels with people to make the discussion as massive as possible. Nevertheless, the Kremlin does not seem to be willing to pay attention to the problem, whereas the majority of Russians have their hopeful looks attached to President Putin as the only legitimate representative of power in the country.What was the point of running the campaign of "transparent and legitimate" elections in Russia, if those who won the elections are unwilling to listen to their electors nor do they want to pay attention to what their electors say on such an important topic as retirement age. As for Navalny and its protest activity, it is clear how he is going to promote it in the media. Alexei Navalny will portray himself as a person, whom the Russian administration accuses of working for the West, of stealing timber and buying luxury cars, etc, etc. Meanwhile, a social protest in Russia is turning into a political one. Mr. Navalny can now win the support of not only young people, who want more adrenaline in their blood. He can win the support of mature adults - people of pre-retirement age, who make the core of so-called Putin's majority. The consolidated majority has made it possible for Russia to achieve considerable economic and political progress. Today, however, this majority may split. One is left to wonder if OMON riot police dare to twist elderly people's arms and drag them into police vans during street protests. What will Putin say if it happens? On September 9, 2018, the Russian Federation is to hold elections of various levels, including additional elections of seven deputies to the State Duma, elections of heads of 26 subjects of the federation (22 direct and 4 through voting in parliament), and elections of deputies of legislative (representative) state power bodies in 17 regions of the Russian Federation. In regions where governors resigned after June 9, the elections will be held on the single voting day in 2019.Pravda.Ru Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru 
China, Russia and India say they will continue to buy petroleum from Iran, despite U.S. sanctions that would prohibit those sales. But they’re having problems making investments in Iran’s oil fields. | 8/8/18
Russian companies routinely face harassment from law-enforcement officials seeking to extort money or expropriate businesses, according to business owners, lawyers and activists, creating a hurdle for Moscow’s efforts to boost small business. | 8/7/18
Russia is prepared for another package of US sanctions and may respond to it with a military and strategic blow.The new bill about new sanctions against Russia includes measures against the Kremlin elite and bans transactions with a new Russian sovereign debt. The Russian side will respond to the US with mirrored military and strategic measures, Anatoly Aksakov, the chairman of the Committee for Financial Market at the State Duma said. Russia may revise some of Moscow's international obligations. Aksakov stressed that it goes about  new acquisitions of Russia's sovereign debt, which does not need to be increased as the budget operates with a surplus.Russia's budget is based on the price of oil at $40 per barrel. Taking into account the fact that today the price of oil is above $70, the Russian National Welfare Fund, which accumulates reserves, has been growing lately. Thus, the impact of US sanctions in this regard will be minimal.Russia is prepared for the new sanctions, which, as Aksakov believes, are not going to affect the Russian economy. However, foreign investors have been turning their backs on Russian securities lately because of the intention of the US administration to impose new sanctions on Russia. The Kremlin noted that US senators are going too far. As long as Russia's unsubstantiated and far-fetched interference in US elections gives US officials the right to cause economic damage to the Russian economy and to the well-being of the Russian population, Russia has every reason to develop its own measures, including military and strategic ones, that would lead to irreparable losses for the US economy and population. Russia may revise some of its international obligations against the background of its highly strained relations with the West. In the past, Russia had assumed certain obligations under certain international legal conditions. As long as the conditions are changing, the obligations will change too. The US abjures its international responsibilities on a regular basis as well, including in the sphere of control over the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons (Iran nuclear deal), and in terms of tariff and non-tariff protectionism in trade.According to the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper, the document entitled "Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKAA), is intended to exert economic, political and diplomatic pressure on Russia in response to Russia's ongoing interference in the American electoral process. The authors of the document pay special attention to Russia's "pernicious influence in Syria" and "aggression in the Crimea".The authors of the document are Democrat Ben Cardin, Republican Lindsey Graham, Democrat Robert Menendez, Republican Cory Gardner, Republican John McCain, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen. The measures to be taken against Russia include "sanctions against political figures, oligarchs, family members and others who directly or indirectly contribute to illegal and corrupt activities on behalf of Vladimir Putin."DASKAA also contains a paragraph on restrictive measures against transactions involving investment in energy projects that have the support of state or parastatal organizations of Russia, as well as sectoral sanctions against any person in Russia that could be involved in "malicious cyberactivity."The bill has received a lot of media attention lately because of its requirement to prohibit transactions with the new Russian sovereign debt. Interestingly, the bill appeared soon after the Putin-Trump summit in Helsinki. The DASKAA text also complicates the procedure for the US withdrawal from NATO as much as possible and simplifies the transfer of defense equipment to the countries of the military bloc in order to reduce the dependence of certain NATO countries on Russia's military equipment.US officials started proposing new anti-Russian initiatives after the Helsinki summit.  For example, Republican Senator John Barrasso put forward an initiative against Russia's Nord Stream 2 energy project. According to him, European countries need to diversify their imports of natural gas and opt for organic fuels from the United States.Experts believe that such actions could take the world to a global crisis as financial markets would experience the shock that the world has not seen since the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Restrictions on capital mobilization and sales of energy carriers would imply default on Russia's external obligations, the amount of which is only slightly less than the debts of LB before its bankruptcy. USA's new measures may thus trigger the effect of a house of cards and lead to deleverage on all markets. In the beginning of the current year, when everyone was expecting sanctions on Russia's federal OFZ bonds, the US Treasury Secretary clearly stated that such a move would be dangerous for the world financial system. At the same time, the USA may pass the DASKAA act to keep Russia on a short leash as was the case with the CAATSA act, the implementation of which took place only eight months after the document was adopted.

With each passing day, a new public opinion article appears or U.S. government official pronounces how the open internet is abetting some discovered catastrophic effects on our societal institutions. In just one week, the examples include increased information on FSB & GRU attacks on electoral systems and infrastructure, Trump's obliging tactical destruction of societal norms and propagation of the QAnon cult, U.S government agency officials playing "cyber security spin-the-bottle" at press conferences, and the "weaponization" of Facebook noted recently by the Valley's venerable "recoder" in the New York Times. With these constant wacks upside the head, one begins to understand that the internet as it exists in the U.S. is a constantly evolving Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD) where we wait each day for some new attack to emerge with no end in sight.

What is amazing about all of these contemporary developments is that the DARPA Director who originally approved the development of its internet initiative in the 1970s, Steve Lukasik, has been warning of the dangers of an open internet since it found its way into the public infrastructure in the 1990s. He pulled together an initial expert team in the mid-90s supported by NSA, and spent the next decade hosting extraordinary Red Team specialists and producing innumerable DOD reports on the multiple weaponizations of the open internet for kinetic attacks. Most were FOUO but widely known in the national security community. Several were made publicly available. As perhaps the nation's most prominent national security scientist on detecting and mitigating Weapons of Mass Destruction over a 60 year period, Lukasik knew the subject matter well.

One of Lukasik's last reports in the DOD WMD series was prepared in 2007 for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and entitled "Mass — Effect Network Attacks: a Safe and Efficient Terrorist Strategy." Over that decade period, he began to shift the focus from "kinetic" WMDs to non-kinetic weapons and the paper "looks fifteen years ahead." It is now eleven years later and strikingly accurate. Non-kinetic WMDs have a significant tactical advantage as they are diffuse without attribution, can be more easily hidden and don't invite kinetic responses.

In the typical meticulous analytical style of DARPA's most highly-regarded Emeritus Director, his analysis proceeds in three steps:

The first, and simplest, part is to collect ideas relating to the future state of network technologies and functionalities and to project trends observed among network users to see how new technology may be used and, more to the point, misused. The second step is to identify a number of possible attacks, enabled under future network environments, that have the potential for producing mass effects. Complementing this perspective of the offense, the third section outlines various kinds of defender responses.

He begins with a note that,

Network vulnerabilities and their consequences have been studied since the first development of network technology by the Department of Defense. In the vastly simpler days of the ARPANET, when links were few and nodes were trusted, the concern was reading or changing packets in transit, and NSA applied their talents to link encryption.

In the last sentence, above, he reveals little-known facts about the DARPA TCP/IP internet platform for its twenty years prior to becoming available to the public in the mid-90s. Namely that it was regarded by DARPA's own leadership as so vulnerable that every connected host computer was tightly controlled, every user well known, all the links encrypted at the bit level for years, managed out of a common Network Operations Center, and every packet of traffic was observed and characterized with derived metadata.

As the report projects the evolution of both the network and applications, it noted that "mass effect" weapons on public institutions would emerge as the weapon of choice about the current timeframe. It also notes that the continued pursuit of "an open internet" would significantly decrease the barriers to intrusion leading to ever more tailored weapon disasters.

The paper describes how the community of cyber attackers would evolve. It notes that "Destructive cyber attacks, being less directly violent, and considerably safer to the perpetrator, may appeal to a larger fraction of the population than those who commit physical violence." It cites other findings that "Cybercrime and the criminals behind malware are getting more and more organized. They can afford to hire professionals, and it is becoming a business for many people."

It is, however, the portrayal of "the future cyberspace battlefield" and the transition to "mass effect attacks" that are especially prescient. Lukasik describes an expansion from economy-oriented network attacks to people-oriented attacks. The latter consist of the following — each of which he describes in considerable detail… in 2007.

  • Destroying trust within populations
  • Wearing down resistance of population to a change in government policy
  • Reputation assassination
  • Destroying confidence in elites

In the conclusion, the report notes that,

Technical vulnerabilities, even when recognized, are only the visible part of the problem. The hidden part of the problem is the level of maliciousness and malevolence that rides on networked technology. Old-time hacking has been augmented by mature, capable, innovative professionals intent on doing real damage to individuals and to institutions.

Perhaps Lukasik's most significant part of the conclusion — and one he has made many times in U.S. national security settings — is that "architectural thinking about networks must abandon the paradigm that everything is best connected to everything. There is a need for an antinetworking discipline to better clarify the tradeoffs." Can Washington, however, ever understand this critical change of direction?

Cyber Whiplash: pushing the Open Internet weapon abroad?

Washington has never been noted for its effective inter-agency coordination, and long been dysfunctional. The Trump Administration has raised the dystopia to levels never before witnessed. As an example, one can get real "cyber whiplash" when in the same month, you have the State Department calling for coordination among allies to deal with internet soft WMD activities, and just five short blocks away, the Commerce Department advocating an Open Internet international policy. The latter, of course, evokes life in an alternative universe where the internet brings a cornucopia of goodness for all, and rails against anyone who would impede the openness.

Amusingly, the Commerce proceeding to "identify the most important issues facing the internet globally" also pushes the great benefit of VPNs while ignoring Russia's FSB and GRU using the same technologies to attack the U.S. It is not clear where this Open Internet Kool-aid will be fed internationally, but the utter obliviousness to major contemporary developments is difficult to comprehend. (Hint: the rest of the world is not this clueless.) What is especially ironic if not amusing is that — as Morozov repeatedly points out — it was cyber-utopians and self-serving Silicon Valley lobbyists in the Clinton and Obama Administrations that created these nationally self-destructive policies. But then, bureaucratic fiefdoms are frequently on auto-pilot.

The Future: closed interoperable internets

The good news is that outside the Washington Beltway of encapsulated delusion, and especially in international industry and multilateral venues today, Lukasik's exhortation for a fundamental change in network security architecture requirements is well understood. There is considerable work on arrays of new security mechanisms and platforms for closed interoperable internets coupled with necessary security controls. A principal example are NFV-SDNs manifested as 5G mobile infrastructure. These new platforms may not remedy some of the damage already done to societal norms and institutions, but they set a direction for technical, operational, and normative solutions.

An additional challenge going forward, however, is the growing cyber-sinophobia that has been dramatically exacerbated by Trump. China is by far the largest market for network-based products and services, and Chinese companies are by far the largest participants in scores of industry and multilateral venues deploying and evolving the essential network security solutions to mitigate internet mass-effect WMDs. Although the manner in which the solutions are deployed in China may not always comport with Western views, they are based on a culture of successful self-preservation of the Middle-Kingdom over many millennia.

The U.S. is now faced with a choice between cooperation in implementing and evolving similar solutions itself or suffering ever more damaging mass effect attacks by domestic and foreign adversaries. The FSB and GRU are no doubt betting on the latter for the immediate future. Hopefully, they are wrong.

Written by Anthony Rutkowski, Principal, Netmagic Associates LLC | 8/4/18
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would raise concerns with Moscow about allegations that Russia has been flouting United Nations sanctions by allowing North Koreans to do business. | 8/4/18
In a press briefing just two weeks ago, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced that the grand jury assembled by Special Counsel Robert Mueller had returned an indictment against 12 officers of Russia's Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian General Staff (better known as Glavnoye razvedyvatel'noye upravleniye, or GRU). The indictment was for conducting "active cyber operations with the intent of interfering in the 2016 presidential election." [...] The allegations are backed up by data collected from service provider logs, Bitcoin transaction tracing, and additional forensics. The DOJ also relied on information collected by US (and likely foreign) intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Reading between the lines, the indictment reveals that the Mueller team and other US investigators likely gained access to things like Twitter direct messages and hosting company business records and logs, and they obtained or directly monitored email messages associated with the GRU (and possibly WikiLeaks). It also appears that the investigation ultimately had some level of access to internal activities of two GRU offices. [...] Yet, after a summit meeting with Russia's President Vladimir Putin just days following the indictment, Trump publicly expressed doubt that Russia was involved. The president has said that Putin strongly denied any interference in the election - even as the United States' own director of national Iintelligence, Dan Coats, reiterated the conclusion that Russia was responsible for the attacks. With such rhetoric, Trump has continued to send mixed messages about the findings of his own intelligence and law enforcement teams, while seeming to put more stock in Putin's insistence that the Russian government had nothing to do with any of this. After digging into this latest indictment, the evidence suggests Trump may not have made a very good call on this matter. But his blaming of the victims of the attacks for failing to have good enough security, while misguided, does strike on a certain truth: the Clinton campaign, the DNC, and DCC were poorly prepared for this sort of attack, failed to learn lessons from history, and ignored advice from some very knowledgeable third parties they enlisted for help.

A detailed look at how Russia attacked the United States election process. Sadly, this being the internet, we probably won't be able to keep the discussion focused on the technical process, but can we all promise to at least try? Regardless of political affiliation, all of us should be worried about the election process of the most powerful country on earth being this easily manipulated by external forces. | 7/27/18

In the rather unique world of public international law for cybersecurity, the treaty provisions of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) stand alone. They form the multilateral basis for the existence of all communication networks, internets, and services worldwide and have obtained the ascent by every nation in the world. They also contain the only meaningful multilateral cybersecurity provisions that have endured over a century and a half through all manner of technological change. Indeed, it was radio internets a hundred years ago that gave rise to the greatest cybersecurity challenges.

So when all the nations of the world meet every four years at ITU Plenipotentiary Conferences to review these treaty provisions, the activity is eagerly watched by the small group of international cybersecurity law historians for potential changes to respond to new developments. The 2018 Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-18) is coming up in about three months — meeting at Dubai, 29 Oct to 16 Nov. Today, watching these treaty conferences is easier with all the documents available online in multiple languages shortly after being received. Indeed, almost the entire history of materials is available on-line going back to 1865.

The documents for the period from 1865 to 1865 reside in the Austria State Archives in Vienna, and for the period between 1917-1922, in the U.S. National Archives. The United States played the leading role in forming the modern day ITU treaty provisions, including key cybersecurity norms, in a series of conferences at the end of the First World War, including a long seminal treaty drafting conference in Washington in 1920 and in Paris in 1921 to add global radio internet provisions.

Most of the cybersecurity treaty making proposals to the ITU instruments in recent years have been relatively unimpressive — largely dealing with the enormous major issues today by adopting or altering conference resolutions rather than changing organic law found in the provisions. For a stable body of public international law that has formed the basis for all global telecommunication and cybersecurity over a century and a half, the basics remain fairly constant. Instantiating and protecting communication capabilities across the borders of national sovereigns fundamentally remain the same. It is an arena where Bully Bilateralism fails spectacularly.

Thusfar, the PP-18 input proposals are not particularly notable - primarily directed at getting national candidate officials elected to ITU positions in its multiple component bodies and slots on its continuing management mechanism, the Council. As perhaps the first evidence of the adverse effects of the current U.S. Administration, the candidacy of a highly-regarded U.S. expert was withdrawn for re-election to the Radio Regulations Board on which she already sits. Thus, the U.S. will have no representative on this key international quasi-judicial body overseeing radio spectrum use which the U.S. itself created seventy years ago, and has had a presence over many decades, including a continuing one since 1999. Notwithstanding the widely divergent views about the ITU in domestic Washington politics over the decades, one consistency has been the support for significant involvement in the Radiocommunication Sector since 1904 except for a brief period under Harding.

One of the significant PP-18 bellwethers among the input materials is a report on potentially holding a treaty conference to amend the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR) that exist as an independent instrument. The principal purpose of the current ITR provisions adopted in 1988 was legalizing public internets globally and providing for related cybersecurity

An ill-advised subsequent attempt by Russia to amend the provisions in 2012 resulted in half the world rejecting the provisions. However, there are certainly ample reasons to amend and evolve the 1988 treaty given the plain need for a multilateral instrument directed at instantiating extraterritorial NFV-SDN-5G capabilities and OTT services. U.S. Cloud Service providers have also been actively seeking treaty provisions.

The only sage input into the meeting dealing with the subject matter occurred earlier this year — notably from China speaking for the first time on the subject — which took the strategic global leadership view that such provisions were essential for the global economy and would eventually be adopted.

For the present, it appears as if the U.S. Administration is content with trashing multilateral obligations and institutions, and moving back to a world of national insularity — forcing U.S. companies to locate their facilities and services abroad in multiple jurisdictions with long-term adverse effects. How it will prevent network products and services from entering the U.S. from abroad seems best described as a fool's errand. What the unfolding U.S. calamity does provide, however, is to give other nations — especially China — the opportunity to forge the necessary multilateral arrangements to pursue emerging markets and larger global market shares. China is today by far, the largest-scale participant in all manner of industry standards bodies in the telecommunication sector, including cybersecurity-related activities. It is a role once played by the U.S. government and industry.

So from a cybersecurity legal historian's perspective, events at the PP-18 remain a kind of fascinating crystal ball for looking into a future where the U.S. has clearly lost its leadership at best, and viability in the worlds of spectrum management and global information economy at worst. be continued.

Written by Anthony Rutkowski, Principal, Netmagic Associates LLC | 7/26/18
A close associate of the Brexit donor Arron Banks has raised questions about whether he had business contacts with Russia. | 7/25/18
On July 24, the State Duma gave the third and final reading to the law on increasing the value added tax by two percent from 18 to 20 percent.The government and the parliament, developing and adopting this law, proceeded from the assumption that a higher VAT would bring additional 600 billion rubles in revenues to the budget.However, the reaction to this law, as well as to the notorious bill on raising the retirement age, has been ambiguous, to put it mildly. Some MPs remain opposed to the law saying that it would strike a serious blow on people's well-being and trigger a rise in prices on everything. Valentin Shurchanov, a member of the Communist Party faction in the Russian Parliament, stated that the VAT law was "harmful." "We have budget reserves of nearly five trillion rubles. Yet, we want to collect 630 billion for the economy from people next year, even though we only keep those five trillion rubles in a quiet place," the MP said. Expert and economist Mikhail Khazin was more expressive in his remarks: "I think that raising taxes during an economic downturn is an idiotic initiative. They raised VAT by two percentage points from 18 percent, which in fact means a VAT increase by 11 percentage points. The VAT increase will have a negative effect on people's lives, because economic activity will decrease, prices will rise, and the number of jobs will decrease too."Mikhail Khazin also said that the government did not understand how to implement social initiatives in Putin's program: "Vladimir Putin set the goal to develop social policy, but the government believes that they do not have money for that. As they say, one needs to milk the cow more and feed her less to make her give more milk and eat less," the expert said. For common people, a VAT of 20 percent will entail an increase in prices on everything by approximately five percent. The rate of real inflation will accelerate too. People will have to spend less so that the government receives additional trillions of rubles in the budget. Many social networkers in Russia want to "thank" members of the United Russia faction, who make the majority in the Russian Parliament, for unanimously approving the laws that make people's lives worse. The law will come into force from January 1, 2019. It is believed that the law will send prices on absolutely all consumer goods up by at least eleven percent. In 2019, Russia is to experience a reduction in GDP and investment, as well as lower consumption levels. These indicators are expected to drop by 0.4-0.6 percentage points. In general, Russian citizens do not have to expect anything positive from their government in the foreseeable future. Many paid attention to the fact that MPs approved the law to raise the value added tax very quickly, as if they were in a great hurry. Usually, it takes the parliament a longer time to adopt laws. Business analysts also predict a sharp rise in prices on all goods. To compensate for decreased margins, manufacturers will most likely opt to include their costs in the final price. Higher prices will entail a moderate reduction in demand on the market. If each counterparty includes their costs in prices for their services, then prices may rise by 15-20 percent. The tax burden will also affect the construction sector, the automotive industry and mechanical engineering giving import goods a head start. It turns out that Putin's import substitution and efforts to support domestic producers turn out to be a proper mess.
More than 1000 delegates from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) will gather at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg tomorrow, Wednesday, 25 July 2018 for the BRICS Business Forum which will takes place as part of the 10th BRICS Summit. The Heads of State of the BRICS countries will preside over the [&hellip

The economy of Russia is the eleventh largest economy in the world by nominal value and the sixth largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). Russia has an abundance of natural gas, oil, coal, and precious metals. It is also rich in agriculture. Russia has undergone significant changes since the collapse of the Soviet Union, moving from a centrally planned economy to a more market-based and globally integrated economy. Economic reforms in the 1990s privatized most industry, with notable exceptions in the energy and defense-related sectors. Nonetheless, the rapid privatization process, including a much criticized "loans-for-shares" scheme that turned over major state-owned firms to politically connected "oligarchs", has left equity ownership highly concentrated. As of 2011, Russia's capital, Moscow, now has the highest billionaire population of any city in the world. In late 2008 and early 2009, Russia experienced the first recession after 10 years of rising economy, until the stable growth resumed in late 2009 and 2010. Despite the deep but brief recession, the economy has not been as seriously affected by the global financial crisis compared to much of Europe, largely because of the integration of short-term macroeconomic policies that helped the economy survive.

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