Russia is trying to undermine confidence in US justice system: experts

Washington: A group of cybersecurity, national security and legal experts is warning that Russia's efforts to weaken America's democratic institutions aren't limited to elections – but also extend to the US justice system.

Justice scales.Credit:The Age

"While we all focused on the electoral system, I think this disinformation effort is organised to really attack any of the pillars of democracy," Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, a former general counsel at the National Security Agency and the CIA, said.

"And when you think of the system that is the most highly regarded among the three branches of government, it is the court system. If you were installed in the position of a Russian disinformation planner, wouldn't you want to erode that?"

Russia's digital campaign to influence the 2016 presidential race in favour of President Donald Trump put election security in the national spotlight, resulted in congressional investigations and prompted lawmakers on Capitol Hill to set aside federal funding for states to strengthen their election systems.

By contrast, Russia's apparent attempts to use similar tactics of spreading propaganda and disinformation on social media platforms to corrode the legitimacy of the US judicial system have drawn much less scrutiny from policymakers.

The Mueller probe has been targeted. Pictured, Ex-FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election.Credit:AP

The band of experts, doing research for the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, is tracking how Russian operatives tend to exploit sensitive issues such as immigration and race in posts designed to drum up backlash to the justice system.

Suzanne Spaulding, a former undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security in the Obama administration who oversaw cybersecurity and critical infrastructure protection, and Harvey Rishikof, a visiting professor of law at Temple University Beasley School of Law, are also part of the think tank's "Defending Democratic Institutions" project.

Spaulding, now a senior adviser to CSIS, said she plans to brief lawmakers on the research this month.

The threat to the justice system, Spaulding warned, could spread beyond influence campaigns and into actual hacking.

She worries Russian operatives could launch ransomware or distributed denial-of-service attacks against courts' computer systems, leak or alter court documents and steal judges' email communications.

"The notion of a nation-state targeting them for the purpose of really making them look bad I think is not something that has been on their radar screen," Spaulding said of her conversations with judges before adding that "they immediately understand" once they get briefed that such potential cyberattacks could damage public confidence in the courts.

For the research, Spaulding is gathering open-source material on Russia's influence campaigns.

She has in part relied on Hamilton 68, an online tool from the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, which monitors Twitter accounts that spread Russian propaganda.

In an article published on Lawfare in September, Spaulding and Rishikof gave an example of the kind of fake posts they're seeing.

Trolls weighed into the racially charged case of the death of Kate Steinle killed by immigrant Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, right.Credit:AP

They wrote that in the summer of 2016, Russian operatives sought to inflame tensions in the case of a sexual assault investigation in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Using a deceitful Facebook account, Russians helped further spread "rumours that a young girl had been raped at knifepoint by Syrian refugees" and "accused government officials, including the prosecutor and judge in the case, of conspiring to protect the immigrant community by covering-up the true nature of the crime," Spaulding and Rishikof wrote.

Russian operatives used Facebook to organise a protest in Twin Falls titled "Citizens before refugees," the Daily Beast reported.

The Twin Falls case illustrated Russia's attempts at "sowing discord and painting the justice system as an agent of politicians," Spaulding and Rishikof wrote.

In their quest to push disinformation, Russian trolls don't advocate for one position over another but instead promote opposite arguments on the same subject, according to Rishikof.

"They take both sides because the goal is to whip up controversy and discredit institutions," he said.

Spaulding said she has found signs that Russian trolls have also targeted special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's election interference and the trial of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, an undocumented Mexican immigrant, in the death of Kate Steinle in San Francisco.

Some of the disinformation efforts aren't so subtle.

In their essay published on Lawfare, Spaulding and Rishikof said Russian media outlets RT and Sputnik also "routinely produce content that alleges corruption, partisanship, and fundamental unfairness of the justice system."

As Spaulding said, "We have issues that we need to continue to address in this country, but that does not mean that we sit back and let an adversary exploit those issues for the purpose of weakening us. Russia's goal is not to make us better."

Washington Post

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The ‘Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Season 2 Soundtrack Will Transport You Back In Time

One of the reasons why The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel exploded to become one of the most beloved new comedies of the past year and swept the Emmys clean is because it not only features great characters, acting, and writing, but it is a treat for all of the senses. Mrs. Maisel proved yet again that it boasts some of the most exquisite costuming on television right now in it second season, and it also delivered another transportive soundtrack to make viewers fell enveloped in the 1950s. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 2 soundtrack is filled with so many songs that you will want to listen to over and over again once you finish bingeing the season.

Just like with the show’s Season 1 soundtrack (which is available online), Season 2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel opens with an iconic Barbra Streisand song. This time, it is Streisand’s rendition of the opening number from Hello, Dolly, "Just Leave Everything To Me." The energetic showtune plays over scenes of workers at the department store B. Altman arranging window displays. And it continues as we move further inside to learn that Midge Maisel is actually working in the phone room rather than the make-up counter like she was before. The song is the perfect choice for the scene, since naturally, Midge is able to take care of everything and everyone in the midst of a hectic din of phone calls.

Another singer who has become a fixture in the show’s soundtrack is Peggy Lee. Songs by the famous jazz singer from the ’40s and ’50s have been featured prominently in both seasons of Mrs. Maisel. Season 2 kicks off its third episode with Peggy Lee’s song "There’ll Be Some Changes Made."

But the real standout artist of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 2 is none other than Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra. Various iconic Sinatra songs pop up over the course of the ten new episodes, including classics like "The Coffee Song" and "One For My Baby."

The thing that really makes the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel soundtracking so unique, though, is not just its selection of music from the ’50s era. The show also makes the bold choice to mix in more modern music for an anachronistic jolt, usually playing over the ending credits of an episode. A number of these more modern, ending songs imbue the show with a punk or new wave feel, and Season 2 was filled with tracks that came decades after Midge Maisel’s rise in stand-up comedy, including "Someday" by the Stroke, "Dance This Mess Around" by the B-52’s, "Cities In Dust" by Siouxsie and the Banshees, and "Opportunities" by the Pet Shop Boys.

And of course, probably the most memorable musical moment of Season 2 came at the beginning of the season finale. During the flashback scene to when Joel Maisel proposed to Midge, he cues up "Shall We Dance?" from the musical The King and I, which Midge admits is her favorite song. After Midge finally says yes, the newly engaged couple dance in the street to the showtune.

Unfortunately, the full Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 2 soundtrack is not yet available online, but you can keep re-listening to these jams while you wait for an official release.

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My fella is leaving me and our baby alone on Xmas so he can spend the day with his ex

I had been looking forward to our baby’s first Christmas and us being a family.

But I was horrified to hear he was accepting his wife’s invitation to spend Christmas together with their children and his mother-in-law.

He has two kids, aged 12 and 15. I expect him to want to see his kids but at the same time I am hurt as this would be our very first festive season together as new parents ourselves.

I feel I deserve better both for myself and our baby boy.  I feel sidelined.

DEIDRE SAYS: Your boyfriend is torn between loyalty to his two older children and your baby. Try and sort this out now rather than it causing distress every December.

If he can see both families that day, go for that.

Otherwise, agree he should alternate every year.

It may not be your ideal but would set a precedent, putting the children’s feelings first. Your baby won’t even be aware it is Christmas this year.

READ TODAY'S DEAR DEIDRE My wife and I sleep in separate rooms since I found out she's been having sex with her mate's husband

READ DEIDRE'S PHOTO CASEBOOK Louella and Wayne have sex while Gina's gone to visit her mother

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Ex-cop in blundered Poppi Worthington case resurfaces on TV looking for new home

The husband of an ex-police officer who led the bungled probe into Poppi Worthington’s death has defended their appearance on a TV show.

Ex-Det Insp Amanda Sadler, 52, disciplined for blunders, featured with husband Gary Sadler on Channel 4’s A Place in the Sun.

The couple said they wanted to “get away from the persecution” by spending £265,000 on a new home on the Spanish island of Mallorca.

Gary, also a former police officer, said: “Amanda has been scapegoated over the Poppi Worthington affair. Amanda was home in bed when all the evidence was lost.

“They well and truly hung Amanda out to dry. Others didn’t face their responsibilities.”

The couple did not buy a home, but Gary said they wanted a “fresh start”, adding: “We went on the programme because we wanted to get away from the persecution by the media and by Cumbria Police.”

Poppi, 13 months, died of suffocation in her father’s bed in 2012.

Her dad Paul, 50, was never charged due to the botched probe.

He went to the High Court this week to object to a coroner including signs of sexual abuse on the record of her death.

Mrs Sadler, once Miss Great Britain, was demoted and retired in 2016.

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'RHONY' Alum Aviva Drescher Reacts to Ramona Singer Kissing Harry Dubin

Over him? Aviva Drescher has reacted to her former Real Housewives of New York City costar Ramona Singer being spotted kissing her ex-husband, Harry Dubin.

“I didn’t mind being the first to kiss Harry but glad I am not the last!” the 48-year-old reality star tells Us Weekly exclusively.

In footage published by TMZ on Tuesday, December 4, Singer, 62, and Dubin can be seen smooching at the Pomona restaurant in Manhattan. Fellow RHONY star Tinsley Mortimer was also in attendance, according to the outlet.

Dubin was previously linked to Drescher, Sonja Morgan and Luann de Lesseps. He first appeared on the Bravo series in season 5, at which time he was said to be the Leggy Blonde author’s ex-husband. The exes, who divorced in 2005, share a son, Harrison. The Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars alum is now married to Reid Drescher, with whom she has two children.

The businessman dated Morgan, 55, before his marriage to Drescher, and the pair were nearing an engagement in season 6 after rekindling their on-again, off-again relationship. However, Dubin and de Lesseps, 53 — who also previously dated him — were later spotted leaving a birthday party together.

Singer lauded Dubin during a July 2017 appearance on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen. “He’s extremely charming and personable and fun to be with,” she said at the time. “And he’s kind-hearted and warm and generous.”

However, the Life on the Ramona Coaster author, who split from husband Mario Singer in 2014, insisted she would never date him.

Ramona seemingly referenced the kiss when she posted a meme of herself on Instagram on Tuesday which read, “Me acting shocked and playing the victim after I intentionally did something to stir the pot.” She added shrug and laugh-cry emojis and a woman symbol in the caption.

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Shawn Mendes Is Looking Forward to Spending Time with Sister Aaliyah for the Holidays

Shawn Mendes only has one thing on his Christmas list this year and it’s so cute, you’re not going to be able to handle it!

Speaking with KISS FM at the Dallas Jingle Ball over the weekend, the 20-year-old “In My Blood” singer revealed that he just really wanted to hang out with his younger sister, Aaliyah.

“I’m really looking forward to spending time with my sister,” he shared. “She’s a bit older now and she’s just really cool to hang out with.”

Shawn added, “I feel like we have a really awesome connection. I always want to hang out with her, but she’s 15 now and she’s in high school and we’ve become actually really close friends and I really enjoy hanging with her.”

“The more I’m gone, the more I find myself reaching out and FaceTiming and just wanting to be with [my family].”

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Woman who says she was unknowingly filmed in hotel shower launches $100M lawsuit

ALBANY, N.Y. — A woman who claims hidden-camera footage of her in a hotel shower was posted on a dozen pornographic websites by someone who tried to extort her filed a $100 million lawsuit.

The Chicago resident, identified only as Jane Doe in the lawsuit, alleges the nude video was taken at a downtown Albany Hampton Inn and Suites in July 2015 while she was taking the New York bar exam. The lawsuit filed Friday names the hotel’s owners and the Hilton chain as defendants.

The woman found out about the secret taping this September when an anonymous emailer sent her a link to the video, which was posted on a pornographic website with her full name. The emailer said “I’m a perv” and at first demanded more private images from her, but eventually demanded $2,000 up front and $1,000 a month for a year, according to the lawsuit.

The woman did not give into the demands as more postings were made to popular porn sites. She monitors sites to seek the video’s removal when she sees it.

Links to the video also were emailed to friends and associates of the woman from an account made to look like they were from her. The bogus emails said it was for a friend’s art project and asked recipients to “let me know what you think and leave a like!” A separate email to her seeking bitcoin payments said “you want me to stop. Right?” according to the lawsuit.

“It was just absolutely traumatizing because these are people I went to law school with,” the woman told Good Morning America, which first reported the lawsuit. “They’re friends, they’re co-workers. And they were sent a link to what looks like an email I sent.”

A hotel spokesman told the Associated Press in an email they were shocked by the lawsuit’s allegations. While no recording devices were uncovered during a recent renovation, he said they will continue to work with authorities to discover the perpetrator.

A Hilton spokesperson said in an email that they will support the hotel’s independent ownership and management as they investigate and co-operate with any law enforcement investigations.

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Stormy's girlfriend Maya Jama relaxes on the beach in a pink bikini on sun-soaked break in Barbados

Stormzy's girlfriend smoked and chatted to a brunette pal as she perched on a lounger.

The 24-year-old stunner wore her hair in a messy bun and displayed her incredible curves in the revealing swimwear.

Taking a well earned break from her Radio One show, she sat back and lit up in the Caribbean on Wednesday.

Later, Maya dipped her toes into the crystal blue waters but soon returned to her lounger and topped up her tan.

Maya proudly showed off her curves on Twitter and Instagram, sharing photos with the caption: "When your best friend knows your angles"

Fans showered her with compliments beneath the post and one said: "Stormzy got himself one of the sweetest of sweet ones…"

Another wrote: "Body is something else man"

As a third asked: "Do you have a bad angle??"

The presenter recently documented a busy day shooting for fans on Instagram.

The star sizzled in an array of slinky leotards as she posed for a raunchy photo shoot with Veni Magazine.

Maya first showed off her incredible figure in a white one-piece as she shared a cheeky mirror selfie to her story.

She completed her glamorous look with a bouncy blow dry and smoky eye, and struck a fierce pout for the camera ahead of her first take.

Not stopping there, the presenter went on to share a second sizzling snap in a plunging black leotard, which accentuated her slim frame with a leopard print belt.

Maya is no stranger to saucy shoots, and recently revealed she would pose naked – but only if it were the right time or place.

Speaking exclusively to The Sun last month, she said: "Do you know I’ve actually been asked to pose nude before for Woman’s Health, so it would have been done in a tasteful way, but I was like no.

"Maybe when I’m older but no not now."

She also touched upon her romance with rapper Stormzy, who she has been dating for more than three years.

The pair are fiercely private about their relationship, but Maya lifted the lid on what drew her to the grime artist in the first place.

She said: "I like shy boys maybe because I’m so loud, it’s like ‘I want to talk to you first’.  I like a boy who is mysterious in the corner and then I would have to take an interest."

Maya returned to television screens tonight, as the host of new Channel 4 show The Circle.

The series sees the contestants living in individual apartments and communicating solely through social media, in a bid to be the most liked and bag the £50k prize.

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How To See The Geminid Meteor Shower 2018 & Surround Yourself With Stars

Take a moment to look back on the past year and ask yourself whether or not you truly embraced the beauty of the universe. Did you find enough time to take strolls through the countryside? Were you able to swim through a natural body of water? Did you ever stop to gaze upon the stars? If you answered "no" to any of these questions, it’s still not too late. You have the opportunity to get a years’ worth of cosmic brilliance in one sitting, so take notes on how to see the Geminid meteor shower 2018.

In case you haven’t heard, the Geminid meteor shower is one of the most exciting and enchanting meteor showers that we have the privilege of experiencing. According to, as many as 120 meteors per hour can blaze through the sky during its peak, so even if you don’t normally care about shooting stars, this is a big deal. And, as you astrology nerds may have already guessed, these meteors travel from the direction of the constellation Gemini. As the shooting stars spiral through the night, feel free to imagine the twins dancing in-between them.

Anyway, enough chatter: Read on to get the most out of this year’s Geminid meteor shower experience.

When The Geminid Meteor Shower 2018 Begins

Lucky for you, there’s still plenty of time to plan ahead for the upcoming Geminid meteor shower. As reported by, the Geminid peaks from Thursday, Dec. 13 to Friday, Dec. 14. However, if you can’t make the peak, the Geminid meteor shower technically begins on Dec. 4 and lasts until around Dec. 17. While the peak is the best time to catch as many shooting stars as you can, you’ve still got almost two whole weeks to see them.

What Time The Geminid Meteor Shower 2018 Starts

While you can technically glimpse the Geminid meteor shower as soon as it reaches night, there are better times to see it than others. According to, the meteors will really begin to peak around 2 a.m., but they’ll begin to gain traction around 9 or 10 p.m., so it’s wise to prepare for a late night of shooting star viewing.

If you’re not in the mood to indulge in some caffeine or you’re unable sleep-in the next morning, you can still see them earlier in the night. You’ll just have to be more patient with the stars.

Where To See The Geminid Meteor Shower 2018

Fortunately, there’s not one place you need to be in order to see the Geminid meteor shower in action. However, you’ll want to steer clear of big cities and light pollution. To make sure that you can spot even the faintest shooting stars, you should travel somewhere far away from civilization; somewhere rural. By doing so, there will be nothing to impede your view of the cosmic fireworks.

How To See The Geminid Meteor Shower 2018

When planning an evening of meteor shower viewing, it’s wise to choose a night in which the sky will be clear and the moonlight will be faint. You may want to check your local weather report in advance. However, we’re lucky that the moon will be a mere waxing crescent when the Geminid meteor shower reaches its peak, allowing us to see the sky more vividly.

As always, recommends that you allow at least 20 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark before watching any meteor shower. also implores you to ditch the telescopes and binoculars, for they’ll actually get in your way of seeing the meteor shower rather than help you. Simply sit back, relax, and allow the magic to happen to you.

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Bear Attack Repellent Leaks At Amazon Warehouse, Critically Injuring One And Sending Dozens To The Hospital

The chemical designed to ward off bears ended up harming Amazon employees instead.

If a chemical is potent enough to ward off bears, it’s definitely considered hazardous to humans. Amazon warehouse workers learned this lesson the hard way when an aerosol can of bear attack repellent fell off a shelf and instantly dispersed everywhere.

Employees at the fulfillment center in Robbinsville Township, New Jersey, quickly were overcome by the chemical, reportedly enduring difficulty breathing, a burning sensation in the throat, and stinging watery eyes. Rescue workers were called at approximately 8:50 a.m. to report to the New Jersey warehouse for help. More than a dozen employees were sent to five area hospitals and one patient was reportedly in critical condition. At least 80 employees allegedly were impacted by the incident.

The company evacuated all employees from the third floor of the south wing to a safe area while rescue workers tended to the accident. Robbinsville Township public information officer John Nalbone told the Daily News that the fire department had been dispatched to investigate “fumes” at the warehouse.

“It was isolated to that portion of the building,” Nalbone said.

Rachael Lighty with Amazon released a statement about the accident, confirming that a damaged aerosol can was the culprit. She thanked the “swift response of our local responders.”

“(It) dispensed strong fumes in a contained area of the facility,” Lighty said. “The safety of our employees is our top priority, and as such, all employees in that area have been relocated to safe place and employees experiencing symptoms are being treated onsite.”

It’s a wonder more employees weren’t impacted, considering hundreds of workers are normally inside the building during the workday. According to the Daily News, Amazon warehouse employees have complained about working conditions in general. In Minnesota, employees said they experienced exhaustion and dehydration without air conditioning.

Furthermore, bear attack repellent is nothing to mess around with. According to Yellowstone National Park, grizzly bear expert Stephen Herrero with the University of Calgary analyzed dozens of human-bear encounters and found bear pepper spray to be 94 percent effective in deterring aggressive bears.

Gary Clutter, a hunter from Bozeman, Montana, found himself face to face with a grizzly while hunting a few years ago. He told National Park Trips Media that bear spray saved him from an impending attack.

“I caught the bear (with bear pepper spray) full in the face when it was four feet away. It was like it hit a wall. The grizzly turned and ran so fast toward her cub she ran over it. Then, cub and sow were gone. This worked exactly the way it was designed to work. The bears didn’t die and all I’m out is a can of bear pepper spray,” he said.

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