Trump and Russian Banks, Sitting In a DNS Tree…

Over at Slate, Franklin Foer reports on a weird log of communications between Donald Trump’s servers and a bank in Russia:

In late July, one of these scientists—who asked to be referred to as Tea Leaves, a pseudonym that would protect his relationship with the networks and banks that employ him to sift their data—found what looked like malware emanating from Russia. The destination domain had Trump in its name, which of course attracted Tea Leaves’ attention. But his discovery of the data was pure happenstance—a surprising needle in a large haystack of DNS lookups on his screen. “I have an outlier here that connects to Russia in a strange way,” he wrote in his notes. He couldn’t quite figure it out at first. But what he saw was a bank in Moscow that kept irregularly pinging a server registered to the Trump Organization on Fifth Avenue.


The researchers quickly dismissed their initial fear that the logs represented a malware attack. The communication wasn’t the work of bots. The irregular pattern of server lookups actually resembled the pattern of human conversation—conversations that began during office hours in New York and continued during office hours in Moscow. It dawned on the researchers that this wasn’t an attack, but a sustained relationship between a server registered to the Trump Organization and two servers registered to an entity called Alfa Bank.


Tea Leaves and his colleagues plotted the data from the logs on a timeline. What it illustrated was suggestive: The conversation between the Trump and Alfa servers appeared to follow the contours of political happenings in the United States. “At election-related moments, the traffic peaked,” according to Camp. There were considerably more DNS lookups, for instance, during the two conventions.

Could there be a bigger black-kettle-calling pot in the world than Donald Trump?


Politics, Technology

The Republican Internal Class War

Back in January, The Atlantic published an article by David Frum on the internal class war going on in the Republican party. I finally got around to reading it and it’s still very relevant and it’s great.

Here’s a piece:

When Trump first erupted into the Republican race in June, he did so with a message of grim pessimism. “We got $18 trillion in debt. We got nothing but problems … We’re dying. We’re dying. We need money … We have losers. We have people that don’t have it. We have people that are morally corrupt. We have people that are selling this country down the drain … The American dream is dead.”

That message did not resonate with those who’d ridden the S&P 500 from less than 900 in 2009 to more than 2,000 in 2015. But it found an audience all the same. Half of Trump’s supporters within the GOP had stopped their education at or before high-school graduation, according to the polling firm YouGov. Only 19 percent had a college or postcollege degree. Thirty-eight percent earned less than $50,000. Only 11 percent earned more than $100,000.

Trump Republicans were not ideologically militant. Just 13 percent said they were very conservative; 19 percent described themselves as moderate. Nor were they highly religious by Republican standards.

One of Frum’s core points is that there’s a disconnect between the candidates the Republican elite want to win (people that are not Trump) and the candidate resonating the most with the non-elite people (Trump).



Nate Silver: Clinton Has an Eighty Percent Chance of Winning

Nate Silver says Hilary Clinton has an 80.3% chance of winning the election.

Obviously, this is a forecast and things could change between now and November 8th, but let’s try and keep it this way.

FiveThirtyEight has some great data visualizations.

Here’s one showing, “…a map of the country, with each state sized by its number of electoral votes and shaded by the leading candidate’s chance of winning it.”:

You can agree or disagree with Silver’s predictions, but you can’t say he isn’t thorough.