Russian hackers are hiding in Britney Spears’s Instagram account

❝ In order to hack foreign governments, military officials, and embassies, Russian hackers are now using Britney Spears in their operations by posting cryptic comments on her Instagram photos.

Hackers at Turla, a group believed to be linked to Moscow, are using Instagram comments on Britney Spears’s photos to control their hacking operation, said researchers at Slovakian security firm ESET…

❝ The comment doesn’t make sense and doesn’t seem threatening to the untrained eye. But, according to ESET, it’s key to the hackers’ success.

❝ After compromising computers, hackers need a way to send them instructions and get data back. They often set up a command and control server to do this. Security professionals defending against cyberattacks usually try to find the central server and shut it down in hopes of crippling the entire network.

The comment on Britney Spears’s photo is a clever strategy for announcing the location of a new command and control server after the previous one gets shut down. When decoded, it’s actually the central server’s internet address

❝ So why are the Russian hackers now targeting an American pop star’s Instagram account?

The answer is simple: Web traffic from users around the world is constantly flowing through Instagram. It would be incredibly easy to hide malicious comments and links on photos posted by celebrities…

❝ The discovery raises questions about what else is hiding in the comment sections of celebrities’ social media pages and how Russian hackers are getting creative to avoid tracking.

And, of course, no country’s cyberspooks have exclusive use of creepy hacks, political or otherwise. The same stunts are liable to be foisted on popular websites by the NSA or CIA – or Trump’s favorite 400-lb teenager in his Long Island bedroom.

World’s largest investment group says “Coal is dead’ and oil faces “peak demand”


Of course, you could invest on Trump’s advice

❝ “Coal is dead,” Jim Barry, the global head of BlackRock’s infrastructure investment group, explained in a recent interview.

BlackRock, the world’s largest investment group, with $5 trillion in assets — more than the world’s largest banks — has begun to bet on clean energy. Why? “The thing that has changed fundamentally the whole picture is that renewables have gotten so cheap,” said Barry…

❝ President Donald Trump famously campaigned on restoring coal jobs, and has continued to reiterate that commitment as president, but the economic reality makes that a futile effort.

The U.S. alone has shuttered 40 gigawatts of coal plants since 2000.

“These [coal plants] will not reopen whatever anything President Trump does,” as Bloomberg New Energy Finance recently explained, “nor do we see much appetite among investors for ploughing money into U.S. coal extraction — stranded asset risk will trump rhetoric.”

The economic reality is that cheap fracked gas and plummeting prices for clean energy has squeezed both coal production and coal consumption to levels not seen for decades.

❝ Coal isn’t the only fossil fuel at risk. Because of the rapidly improving performance and cost of batteries, Barry is “bullish” on electric vehicles. And as a result, he is bearish on oil demand, noting that “there was always this historic view on oil about peak supply but it’s about peak demand being an equal dynamic.”

In short, the smart money is headed away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy.

Not that any of this means much to our state and national politicians. Smart money doesn’t concern them – just money. That’s what controls elections in our much-vaunted Republic. And, for now, the corporations most willing to provide funds to our political hacks are the ones who get representation.

The people? Looks like we’re still last in line.

China Switches On World’s Largest Floating Solar Farm — On A Lake Over A Closed Coal Mine


Click to enlarge

❝ Last week, workers switched on a solar energy plant capable of producing 40 megawatts of power, which floats on a manmade lake in China’s Anhui province near the city of Huainan…The array is the largest floating solar project in the world, though at the brisk pace China is building new renewable projects it’s unlikely to hold that title very long.

❝ Built by the company Sungrow Power Supply, the power plant will produce enough energy to power 15,000 homes…While the company has not revealed the exact size of the operation, it produces twice as much energy as the previous holder of the largest-floating-solar-plant title, which is located in the same area and was launched by the company Xinyi Solar in 2016.

❝ Anhui province is a coal-rich region, and the Sungrow plant is located on a lake that was once the site of intensive mining. Heavy rains filled the area with water…

So why build solar plants on top of lakes and reservoirs?…Building on bodies of water, especially manmade lakes that are not ecologically sensitive, helps protect agricultural land and terrestrial ecosystems from being developed for energy use. The water also cools the electronics in the solar panels, helping them to work more efficiently…

❝ While the floating solar plant is the largest in the world, it pales in comparison to some of China’s non-floating solar projects. The Longyangxia Dam Solar Park on the Tibetan plateau hosts 4 million solar panels that produce 850 megawatts of energy. Even that will soon be eclipsed by a project in the Ningxia Autonomous Region, which will have 6 million solar panels and produce 2 gigawatts of power.

If Trump’s chumps continue to keep the Republican Party in power, say, until 2024 — we may yet see coal become the cheapest source of mediocre construction stone in the United States. Keeping fewer people employed than Arby’s just to maintain welfare checks flowing into certain corporate bank accounts is an important part of the 18th Century lifestyle so beloved of today’s conservative politicians.