back to article Prez Obama expels 35 Russian spies over election meddling

President Barack Obama has ordered the expulsion of 35 suspected Russian spies in response to "malicious cyber activity and harassment" by Putin's government for attempts to undermine the 2016 election. In a statement issued on Thursday, Obama ordered a number of actions in response to "the Russian government’s aggressive …

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35??

When Russia must have 3500 or even 35000 operatives in the USA?

What a joke.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 35,000??

When Russia must have 3500 or even 35000 operatives in the USA?

Are you sure it is just 35,000? I am quite certain it is much closer to 62,979,636!

Let the purges begin! I will be the first to join my local branch of the Un-American Activities Committee.

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Facepalm

Even *if* it was the Russians that leaked the information

Not that I believe it for one minute, but just for argument sake, lets say it was the Russians that leaked the info on Clinton.

The US public should be thankful that they exposed Clinton for what she is, a lying, cheating SOB. Doing the job the main stream press should have been doing all along, you know, investigative journalism, exposing corruption to the public. Instead we had the main stream press going bat shit crazy over Trump and kissing Clinton's nether regions for the past 12 months.

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Re: Even *if* it was the Russians that leaked the information

Not wanting to support Clinton here, but the problem here is that I would be surprised if *any* politician doesn't manipulate the truth presented to the public. Having one side being hacked and the other remain in control of their message unbalances things. Even if there is nothing to answer for, a public opening of an investigation is enough to knock confidence - which is exactly what happened when you look at the polls.

That said, it's a novel situation for a US president to be elected with help from a country that he supposedly wants to have an arms race with.

I am genuinely confused about how this could be useful to Putin. Perhaps he knows how easy Trump is to wind up and thinks this may work to his advantage. Or perhaps he is just having a laugh. That would probably be enough of a reason. After all, once you've bought your islands and your planes and your gold shit and your friends, what else is there to do with the remaining hundreds of billions you've extracted from the russian state?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Even *if* it was the Russians that leaked the information

The US public should be thankful that they exposed Clinton for what she is, a lying, cheating SOB. Doing the job the main stream press should have been doing all along, you know, investigative journalism, exposing corruption to the public.

Normally it's all about balance, but 2016 was the first year in my memory where bullshit became more important than the facts and blame decided politics more than benefit. In the UK that was demonstrated by Brexit being somehow of benefit to the UK (with the main protagonists disappearing from teh scene as soon as it had happened), in the US by Trump winning on the premise that, as a billionaire, he is best placed to somehow give the very same level of people work that he had previously ripped off via his business activities.

Yes, 2017 will be interesting but for most people, however, it won't be much fun. Facts no longer matter - until you cannot provide for your family. At that point, even the most byzantine bullshit will not be able to hide the truth - but trust the media to keep massaging the statistics.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Even *if* it was the Russians that leaked the information

I am genuinely confused about how this could be useful to Putin. Perhaps he knows how easy Trump is to wind up and thinks this may work to his advantage. Or perhaps he is just having a laugh. That would probably be enough of a reason. After all, once you've bought your islands and your planes and your gold shit and your friends, what else is there to do with the remaining hundreds of billions you've extracted from the russian state?

That's exactly it: it's no longer about money - these players all have more than they'll ever be able to spend, even if they retired right now. It's about power (and, to a degree, avoiding boredom). Money is merely a way to keep score.

Don't expect any of these people to do something positive with that money either.

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Windows

Re: Even *if* it was the Russians that leaked the information

Having one side being hacked and the other remain in control of their message unbalances things.

I don't know. Open any "serious" paper during the election circus, and try to find "balance".

The saying "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." applies.

The saddest spectacle is various intelligentisa / ivory tower blogs now complaining about unfairness and media bias against Clinton. One wonders whether there are large amounts of fluoride served to the intellectual elites.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Even *if* it was the Russians that leaked the information

The circumstantial evidence is a bit ambiguous here.

1. If it was Russians, I would have expected them to put out a detailed laundry list of all "interesting" sponsors of Clinton and Blair foundations with special emphasis on which Ukrainian oligarch gave how many millions and how many billions would they gain from various changes in the Ukraine political landscape. Nearly all of this is in the public domain by the way, what is missing is the analysis (you cannot really blame people for being afraid here).

2. At the same time, exactly because of 1 Clinton (and Blair) are definitely not Vladimir Christmas card list. So Vladimir making her pay the bill for all the various "regime changes", "election influencing" and other political incursions in Russia and its periphery by her and her family for the last 25 years... Hmm... Cannot really blame him there...

In any case, if you cannot stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Quoting the Greek rep to NATO when Turks presented their side on shooting that Su-24: "If we treated each of your incursions like this, we would have been shooting an F16 a day".

If the rest of the world would decide to treat US diplomats meddling in their elections the way US is treating the Russians here, there would be ZERO US diplomats left outside US borders. In fact, the rest of the world be looking for someone hidden in the closet to extradite.

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Re: Even *if* it was the Russians that leaked the information

"That said, it's a novel situation for a US president to be elected with help from a country that he supposedly wants to have an arms race with."

Bill Clinton's campaign saw some illegal donations from China. An English language newspaper owned by the Chinese Communist party has talked of war with the USA being "inevitable, if the US government does not concede China's reasonable demands in the South China Sea".

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Black Helicopters

Assange?

The executive order is extraordinarily wide ranging. And it should make it possible to demand direct extradition of Julian Assange to the USA without going through Sweden and the "rape" charade. Looks like Assange is NEVER leaving that Embassy.

I'm sure the incoming administration will find both the order and the "Countering Disinfo and Propaganda Act" useful in the near future.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Assange?

To be brutally frank, Assange has just created a reason why he should be extradited, but as he helped Trump get into office I suspect that justice will never be served. He actively participated in interference with the election of the US, which is (AFAIK) a criminal offence.

But hey, Putin is mates with the incoming President to a degree that he even foregoes the usual diplomatic tit-for-tat after the current administration ejected a whole bunch of Russians.

It means that Assange will be given the customary stiff ignoring (which will hurt him more than any acknowledgement and leaves him with the problem of being wanted in the UK for jumping bail), but if I were Snowden I'd be worried. Unless, of course, someone finds a way to claim that all he revealed was somehow the Democrats' fault - in that case he might at least get his passport back.

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Re: Assange?

He actively participated in interference with the election of the US, which is (AFAIK) a criminal offence

If this is a UK offence, which particular UK law did he violate? I cannot think of any. You are not allowed to fight abroad. To meddle in politics abroad is not prohibited. If it was we would have to extradite a large contingent of exile politicians and oligarch "refugees" from every country under the sun.

If this is a US offence, anyone can publish any dirt they like on any candidate - the only laws which apply to that are civil ones - like libel. The US law on the subject addresses only a US politicos under foreign influence (it is in the constitution). There is bugger all about anything which is purely foreign..

I am not familiar with LatAm laws, but they are probably no different as there everyone has traditionally hosted the neighbour's government in exile after it was loaded on the boat across the river by the yet another military coup in their homeland.

So, there is _NO_ law whatsoever (yet) under which one can claim that someone in a foreign country interfering in US elections is committing an extraditable criminal offence. I can see the congress hastily drafting it in the next session though (and the Eu governments following suit). However, as it cannot be backdated, this cannot become the basis for AssAnge extradition request. Any attempt to have him shipped under a backdated law addressing this will get shot down in the courts.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Assange?

So, there is _NO_ law whatsoever (yet) under which one can claim that someone in a foreign country interfering in US elections is committing an extraditable criminal offence

Good points, but that principally declares Russia's hacking as perfectly OK too which strikes me as strange.

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Re: Assange?

Good points, but that principally declares Russia's hacking as perfectly OK too which strikes me as strange.

AssAnge has not been proven to hack anything. There is no law about handing stolen general purpose data. Bank secrecy, personal data, financial data - sure, there is law and precedent. General purpose data such as the emails of a political party - nope, nothing suitable to apply besides the usual laws on handling stolen goods and those have had no precedent in this area.

By the way, Russians have not been proven to hack anything. There is no evidence, only claims and conjectures based on target selection while using similar malware. That level of evidence will not stand up in any court, even the well known kangaroo court show running on an island in the Caribbean.

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Stop

Re: AC Re: Assange?

"....He actively participated in interference with the election of the US, which is (AFAIK) a criminal offence....." Debatable. Assange himself didn't put them up on a website, Dickileaks did, but only after they let a worldwide network of accredited journalists go to town on them. Once again, stop trying to bash the source in avoidance of the damning content. Assange is happily getting more of the revenge on "the Big Bad US" he has dreamed of ever since he got convicted of hacking US systems, but he didn't create the material out of thin air. Podesta and the DNC did.

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Mushroom

Cue retaliation...

... in 3... 2... 1...

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Gesture to appease Joe Public

Expelling known spies is and has always been just a gesture to show Joe Public, "Look, we're doing something about it." Just political bullshitting, to be honest.

Much harder to expell spies the US doesn't know are spies. Even more difficult to expell those who have an American passport. And those are the one to worry about.

On a side note, I don't buy this RU interference nonsense. It's a desperate attempt to depict Trump as an illicit successor in the White House. (Disclaimer: I think he is a shite candidate. But so was Clinton. Choosing the lesser of two evils was particularly hard this time around.)

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Re: Gesture to appease Joe Public

In diplomacy you only ever expel the spies you know about once their usefulness is over. In other words, you expel the ones who know their cover is blown. The most useful spy to any government is the one that doesn't know that you know they're a spy.

Also doesn't hurt to expel a few that you suspect aren't spies, but have diplomatic connections. Keeps the opposition on their toes...

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Choice of words

"Cold War deja vu"

The USSR lost that one as I recall.

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Re: Choice of words

Yeah, but then the US inflicted the Brezhinsky gambit on itself. It's like a virus writer who nukes his lab.

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Anonymous Coward

The USSR lost that one as I recall.

You recall wrong.

Both sides lost it - one by imploding, and the other by becoming exactly like the abhorrent monstrosity it set out to defeat.

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Re: The USSR lost that one as I recall.

> the other by becoming exactly like the abhorrent monstrosity it set out to defeat.

Isn't that the part of the movie where Israel is founded?

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Joke

Re: Choice of words

And you lost the meaning of deja vu.

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Re: Choice of words

"Cold War deja vu"

"The USSR lost that one as I recall."

Yes - but this time around, they aren't supporting an unsustainable empire and political system - and they aren't broke. The Russian Federation happens to be one of a rather select group of countries which have a positive net international investment position.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Choice of words

The Russian Federation doesn't have Poland, Baltic States, (most of) Ukraine, and other productive areas any more.

There's also those (slightly annoying to Putin) sanctions....

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Why?

Normally Lame Ducks take a caretaker role doing the bare minimum to keep the government functioning until the new President is sworn in. Obama has done several administrative and political actions that seem to be giving everyone the "finger".

The issue of tossing out Russians over the hacking seems to be silly because hackers can be based any in the world. So tossing out a few bodies looks good for getting a perp walk in the media but not much else. Also, in Pennsylvania, the judge throw out the recount claims of hacking after reviewing the PA procedures and practices. He found that the alleged hacking was a fiction in the minds of Stein and her funders. Since other states follow similar procedures and each state has its own system hacking an election is not that easy. Each state will have different equipment, methods, and procedures. Thus to hack the election, the Russians would need to guess which states are going to be critical to hack and figure out appropriate methods to hack each state. In the case of PA, the state allows, apparently, each county to use one several approved methods. So in PA you would need to hack at the county level. In the US there are about 3000 counties/parishes/boroughs (states are inconsistent in their terminology).

Also, in Michigan the recount found major problems with Wayne County (Detroit) unrelated to hacking; more like old fashioned ballot box stuffing. In Wisconsin, the recount (again no evidence of hacking) increased Trump's total by about 150 votes - a reasonable swing statewide for either candidate.

Applying Occam's Razor, the Russians are interested in the outcome of the election. They will attempt to hack political parties and campaigns probably for information. They are not likely to have the fine grained local knowledge to stuff the ballot box successfully. These comments can probably be said about any competent (and most incompetent) spookhauses.

So the better question, is what does making the Russians the evil heavy gain the donkeys? Trump does not seem to be enthusiastic about getting involved in any shooting wars. So unless his hands are tied, he is likely to have a very different policy in the Middle East. This means US policy towards Russia will be changing to probably a less hostile one.

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"next week"

Trump will put off getting the intel briefing until next week? Wow, that's presidential --NOT!

SAD!

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April Fool's is early this year!

Why would an outgoing president pander to the American public's belief in conspiracy, rumour and innuendo under every nearby rock!

No wonder they could only choose Bozo the Clown or Killary for the next one!

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For crying out loud

I see obomber talking, but all I hear is "Whaaaaaa, waaaaaaaa"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: For crying out loud

Sorry, that was his teleprompter playing an SJW talk tape. He can't actually offer any "intelligent" comments without being told what to say via the teleprompter.

Dumbest.President.Ever

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Dumbest.President.Ever

I'd put Warren G Harding up there, but he was smart enough to know he was dumb.

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Anonymous Coward

HAHA! They got lovely parting gifts though

A complementary assortment basket of (counterfeit) body lotions! Which they all promptly drank, and then they died. And the West was saved, and they lived happily ever afterwords.

Who are these assholes who love Putin and Trump so much? What fucknuts! Please forget about science and government regulations and drive a motorcycle really fast without a helmet and crash and die. That would be funny too! :) The world thanks you!

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Re: HAHA! They got lovely parting gifts though

Arse

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PTW
Pint

Re: HAHA! They got lovely parting gifts though

Bob Rocket have an up vote! And a beer ---->

Why are leftists so full of bile, vitriol and hate!? Yet always try to claim the moral high ground?

Socialism, 200 million deaths and counting...

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Holmes

Re: HAHA! They got lovely parting gifts though

Hillary Clinton, is that you?

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Holmes

When "Joint Analysis" means being high on the good stuff

FBI/DHS Joint Analysis Report: A Fatally Flawed Effort

The FBI/DHS Joint Analysis Report (JAR) “Grizzly Steppe” was released yesterday as part of the White House’s response to alleged Russian government interference in the 2016 election process. It adds nothing to the call for evidence that the Russian government was responsible for hacking the DNC, the DCCC, the email accounts of Democratic party officials, or for delivering the content of those hacks to Wikileaks.

It merely listed every threat group ever reported on by a commercial cybersecurity company that is suspected of being Russian-made and lumped them under the heading of Russian Intelligence Services (RIS) without providing any supporting evidence that such a connection exists.

A common misconception of “threat group” is that refers to a group of people. It doesn’t. Here’s how ESET describes SEDNIT, one of the names for the threat group known as APT28, Fancy Bear, etc. This definition is found on p.12 of part two “En Route with Sednit: Observing the Comings and Goings”:

"As security researchers, what we call “the Sednit group” is merely a set of software and the related network infrastructure, which we can hardly correlate with any specific organization."

Unlike Crowdstrike, ESET doesn’t assign APT28/Fancy Bear/Sednit to a Russian Intelligence Service or anyone else for a very simple reason. Once malware is deployed, it is no longer under the control of the hacker who deployed it or the developer who created it. It can be reverse-engineered, copied, modified, shared and redeployed again and again by anyone. In other words — malware deployed is malware enjoyed!

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Trollface

Sure is hardcore retaliation out there!!

The International Business Times (who they?) reports:

Drudge Report was down briefly around 7 p.m. EST, but working hours later. The top headline read: "MOSCOW MOCKS OBAMA 'LAME DUCK'" Meanwhile, the conservative Washington Times wrote: "Matt Drudge suggests U.S. government cyberattack on Drudge Report website. DDoS attack comes same day Obama announced countermeasures against Russia for hacking of Democrats."

Conservatives on Twitter also accused the government of shutting down the Russian news website, RT. "Numerous reports of Russian state-run Network RT being unavailable. Drudge Report also under 'Biggest DDoS attack since site's inception,'" wrote one user.

Or maybe it's the run-up of the CIA-powered coup (Hopefully we will get a cool logo and martial patch out of that, I'm preparing banana-flavoured popcorn now and tuning into CNN. Robert Ludlum phonebook-sized thrillers? Pah! We do real now!)

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Anonymous Coward

The Big Lie

Well, the administration released its promised "proof" of Russian involvement - and there is none.

Interesting article here: http://arstechnica.com/security/2016/12/did-russia-tamper-with-the-2016-election-bitter-debate-likely-to-rage-on/

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Anonymous Coward

This is why I come here

Discounting some of the last few post, this is why I love The Reg. For the most part, very civil, very intelligent, very logical discussions about a wide range of subjects. (Should it all be tech related? Sorry, I really don't care).

This is so lacking from most discussions I read, where it is all "fsck X, he/she/it is an a-hole and should go to jail" or "screw Y, he/she/it is an a/b/c and should be killed".

Hail Britannia. (our mother country after all) God bless.

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Happy

Re: This is why I come here

Same with me, and I am OK with the "Hail Britannia" too, but for the sake of "facts", there are perhaps a few things one could add. The majority of people who emigrated to America came from the rest of Europe and that does not include the first wave from Spain and Portugal.

And when you Americans think about the "The Declaration of Independence" you love, and seldom read, note, no Kings, Queens or Lords. The Declaration has its background in the very French/German "Age of Enlightenment" (an intellectual movement which dominated the world of ideas in Europe in the 18th century).

And in "The Law of Nations (French: Le droit des gens) a work of political philosophy by Emerich de Vattel".

The Scot, Adam Smith joined in as a key figure in the Scottish Enlightenment and in "Book V of The Wealth of Nations", Smith comments on the low quality of instruction and the meager intellectual activity at English universities.

I would add "Hail Europe" to your comment.

And if you like to feel England as your mother country then think about it like the son who travelled Europe, decided to lave England for the Americas and told his father to keep his old system as he wanted non of it.

Some links for those who find facts interesting.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_Enlightenment

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Law_of_Nations

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Declaration_of_Independence

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Smith

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_colonization_of_the_Americas

And when you are at it, what have you done to the "separation of church and state" you will find non of that aim in the Inauguration of Trump.

You understand a lot more when you realize that the Brits read English history as the World history, it also partly explains the Brexit vote.

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Anonymous Coward

BTW

This whole thread has been about discussing 1 possible reason why Hillary lost, and if A or B was behind it, and how big a difference it made. There also has been another discussion of the popular vote vs the electoral college and what the "perfect" system would be.

Reasons Hillary lost. Obama said "Kill coal". Hillary echoed "Kill coal".

Election. Let me suggest an alternative to the electoral college as is, or the popular vote, counties.

Pennsylvania has 67 counties. Trump won 58, Hillary won 9. Ohio has 88 counties. Trump won 81, Hillary won 7. West Virginia... Doesn't matter how many they have, Trump won them all, Hillary 0.

Seems coal killed Hillary rather than the other way around. Goldman Sachs. Simply deplorable.

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Silver badge

Media Smoke and Mirrors ....... but to ever diminishing effectiveness these days.

The Global Command and Control Systems as Are and the Elite Establishment Executive as Is Is, are all too aware of the mortal danger and deep dark waters they are in, and the consequences they will suffer in near future times.

Avail yourselves of their shenanigans with the reading and sharing of Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars ...... and realise their very real fears are surrounding them for a reckoning ........

It is only a matter of time before the new breed of private programmer/economists will catch on to the far reaching implications of the work begun at Harvard in 1948. The speed with which they can communicate their warning to the public will largely depend upon how effective we have been at controlling the media, subverting education, and keeping the public distracted with matters of no real importance.

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Trollface

Russki hacks flap now reaching UFO hysteria levels!

‘Russian hackers’ penetrate US power grid with ‘outdated Ukrainian malware’ (Warning: RT.com, labeled by such truth-providing outfits as WaPo a "fake news" site, i.e. news that someone doesn't want you to hear or think about, i.e. actual news)

A Vermont utility sounded the alarm after finding malware code on a laptop that the FBI and DHS had touted as associated with Russian hackers. However, cybersecurity specialists say the code came from an outdated Ukrainian hacking tool.

The US media reported the incident as if Russian hackers had penetrated America’s electric grids, prompting some officials to call on the federal government to protect Americans from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Vermonters and all Americans should be both alarmed and outraged that one of the world’s leading thugs, Vladimir Putin, has been attempting to hack our electric grid, which we rely upon to support our quality-of-life, economy, health, and safety,” Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin said in a statement.

“This episode should highlight the urgent need for our federal government to vigorously pursue and put an end to this sort of Russian meddling,” he said.

smug_putin.jpg

(obligatory: "who is a thug and a gangster-spook-scum of the lowest order and capable of anything" ... lefty writers like Matt Taibbi really let rip when they feel they are on the goodthink side)

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Re: Russki hacks flap now reaching UFO hysteria levels!

Worst is that's it's WaPo pumping out the frack news Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility, showing risk to U.S. electrical grid security, officials say. ("Officials", huh?) Looks like they have rewritten it and put an "Editor's Comment" at the top (aka non-apology). Oh well. On to the next headline shocker.

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