Tag Archives: hacking

March 24, 2017

Jihadi terror manuals on how to use a car as a ‘tool of war’ for mass murder can be found in just two minutes on Google and Twitter

  • Fanatics are urged to use cars before going on stabbing rampage in the guides
  • Video revealed after Khalid Masood killed three in car then stabbed a policeman
  • Manuals told jihadists in West to learn from Palestinian terrorists who use cars 
  • News comes as Boris Johnson accused social media sites of inciting terrorism 

Guides to mounting a car terror attack were available on Google and Twitter last night.

The vile manuals were online despite widespread warnings that UK jihadists use them for training.

Fanatics are urged to deploy large vehicles as ‘tools of war’ before going on a stabbing rampage – the template for Wednesday’s atrocity in Westminster. Boris Johnson accused social media websites of inciting terrorism.

The vile manuals were online despite widespread warnings that UK jihadists use them for training

And Google’s YouTube video platform was found to be raking in money from conspiracy theories saying the London outrage was a hoax.

As the maniac behind the attack was unmasked as 52-year-old Khalid Masood:

  •  The security services faced questions because he was known to police and MI5;
  •  Home Secretary Amber Rudd denied failures but admitted: ‘One got through’;
  •  It emerged MPs had raised concerns about the Commons gates Masood waltzed through;
  •  Officials revealed that he was shot dead by a ministerial bodyguard, rather than by armed police;
  •  Islamic State claimed Masood was its ‘soldier’;
  •  Officers made eight arrests around the country;
  •  The death toll rose to five when a 75-year-old man died in hospital last night.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4344338/Jihadi-terror-manuals-use-car-tool-war.html#ixzz4cF84mUUX

EXC: MPs railed against use of armed police at Parliamentary gates because they created a bad ‘atmosphere’ and said anti-terror barriers were ‘UGLY’

  • Interviews with MPs and staff from 2014 reveal resistance to boosting security
  • They complained that security barriers surrounding parliament were ‘ugly’ 
  • Also griped about armed police at main entrances creating bad ‘atmosphere’ 
MPs complained in 2014 that armed police being deployed at the Parliamentary gates because they created a bad 'atmosphere'

MPs complained in 2014 that armed police being deployed at the Parliamentary gates because they created a bad ‘atmosphere’

MPs railed against the armed police being deployed at the Parliamentary gates because they created a bad ‘atmosphere’.

There were also a slew of complaints that security barriers to prevent terrorists ramming cars into the building were ‘ugly’.

The complaints, in response to a survey by the House authorities in 2014, lay bare the extent of resistance among politicians to modernising security on the estate before the bloody terror attack this week.

Armed officers are not currently stationed round the clock at the Carriage Gates, the main entrance that looks out on to Parliament Square.

Khalid Masood marauded through the access point on Wednesday, stabbing Pc Keith Palmer to death. He was shot by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon’s personal guards after making it around 20 yards on to the estate.

Lib Dem MP Tom Brake, a member of the ruling Commons Commission, suggested today that officers manning the gates should always be armed or accompanied more closely by armed colleagues.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4346698/EXC-MPs-complained-armed-police-Parliament-gates.html#ixzz4cIGBINEv

Iran’s Spymaster Claims Pro-Regime Agents Operating in D.C., London, Canada

Claims pro-Iran ‘lobby’ pushing Tehran’s agenda in D.C.
March 23, 2017 3:28 pm

Iran maintains a network of spies and lobbyists who clandestinely push the Islamic regime’s agenda in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, according to the head of Iran’s ministry of intelligence, who touted the pro-Iran network’s ability to spread its ideology to the West.

Mahmoud Alavi, Iran’s intelligence minister, in recent remarks independently translated by the Washington Free Beacon, bragged about the Islamic Republic’s ability to operate an unnamed “lobby group” in D.C. that helps to push the regime’s hardline agenda.

Alavi disclosed that Iranians with dual citizenship in the United States, Canada, and England, remain devoted to the “Islamic revolution” and are working to promote this agenda in their adopted homelands.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/irans-spymaster-claims-pro-regime-agents-operating-d-c-london-canada/

2 more ‘significant’ arrests made in investigation into London attack

Authorities said two officers are listed in critical condition. Reuters reported on Friday that the attacker’s birth name was Arian Russell.

According to police, Masood was born in Kent, U.K., and they believe he was most recently living in the West Midlands, which includes the city of Birmingham.

Masood was known to authorities and had a range of previous convictions for assaults, including grievous bodily harm, possession of offensive weapons and public order offenses.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the rampage, saying Masood was “an Islamic State soldier” who “carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of the coalition.”

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/03/24/2-more-significant-arrests-made-in-investigation-into-london-attack.html

#DarkSeaSkies: CIA’s tool to hack MacBook Air in under 29 seconds exposed

Amidst WikiLeaks’ revelations about the CIA’s capabilities to hack into Apple products is DarkSeaSkies – a tool used to monitor and control MacBook Air that’s physically installed by a CIA agent or asset in “less than 29 seconds.”

DarkSeaSkies is a tool that runs in the background of a MacBook Air to allow the CIA command and control laptops. It is delivered via “supply chain intercept or a gift to the target.”

It’s loaded onto a MacBook via booting through a thumb drive. The CIA’s user document explains: “It is assumed that an operator or asset has one-time physical access to the target system and can boot the target system to an external flash drive.”

A 2009 “user requirements” document on DarkSeaSkies explains it was created to allow the CIA to access a MacBook Air.

The CIA’s COG [Computer Operations Group] had a “time-sensitive operational need” to install the Nightskies tool onto a MacBook Air, as the CIA had an “opportunity to gift a MacBook Air to a target that will be implanted with this tool.” It’s unknown who this target was.

https://www.rt.com/viral/382095-darkseaskies-cia-mackbook-darkmatter/

Swiss open probe into spying in Switzerland’s Turkish community

Switzerland has opened a criminal probe into possible spying involving Switzerland’s Turkish community, federal prosecutors said on Friday.

“The Office of the Attorney General has been made aware of concrete suspicion that political espionage has likely been conducted involving the Turkish community in Switzerland,” the agency said in a statement, giving no details about the probe launched on March 16.

The Swiss foreign minister told his Turkish counterpart on Thursday that Switzerland would “rigorously investigate” any illegal spying by Ankara on expatriate Turks before an April 16 referendum that could expand Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s powers.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-swiss-turkey-espionage-idUSKBN16V1GD?il=0

In Venezuela’s Toxic Brew, Failed Narco-State Meets Iran-Backed Terrorism

In Venezuela’s Toxic Brew, Failed Narco-State Meets Iran-Backed Terrorism

As if the political and economic chaos wracking Venezuela wasn’t worrying enough, a couple of recent stories underscore the potential national security threat brewing there. First, last month’s designation of Venezuela’s vice president, Tareck El Aissami, as a drug kingpin by the U.S. Department of Treasury. Second, a CNN investigative report revealing that Venezuela’s embassy in Iraq was allegedly selling Venezuelan passports and identity documents to Middle Eastern nationals — raising the disturbing prospect that Caracas is facilitating the entry of Islamist militants to Latin America. Indeed, the CNN report echoed revelations from 2013 that the Venezuelan embassy in Syria was issuing passports to terrorists under the direction of Ghazi Atef Nassereddine, a Treasury-sanctioned, FBI-wanted Venezuelan diplomat who happens to be a key Hezbollah operative. Put all this together and what do you get? A rabidly anti-American failed state that appears to be incubating the convergence of narco-trafficking and jihadism in America’s own backyard.

Venezuela’s links to the drug trade are deep and well documented. Collusion with the cartels reaches the highest levels of the state. Two nephews of President Nicolás Maduro were arrested in Haiti and convicted on drug trafficking charges by a federal jury in Manhattan last November. General Néstor Luis Reverol Torres — Venezuela’s current minister of interior and justice, and former head of its national anti-narcotics agency — was indicted in the United States last August on cocaine trafficking charges, along with a former captain in Venezuela’s National Guard. The list of officials implicated in narco-trafficking also includes a former minister of interior and justice, two senior intelligence officers who later became governors, and now Vice President El Aissami

In Venezuela’s Toxic Brew, Failed Narco-State Meets Iran-Backed Terrorism

Venezuela expresses ‘desire’ to reestablish relations with Israel

8 years after Caracas expelled Israeli envoy, chief rabbi says he pitched a ‘period of courtship,’ consular relations before full ties

[Editor’s Note: Venezuela since Hugo Chavez and including Maduro has been anti semitic and anti-Israel in the extreme.  There are only 20,000 or fewer Jews in Venezuela, and many are leaving because of pressure from the regime. This initiative appears to indicate the extreme desperation of the current government.]

Venezuela’s foreign minister expressed to his country’s chief rabbi “the desire to establish full relations with the State of Israel” eight years after the South American nation expelled its Israeli ambassador.

“We suggested to start with a period of courtship, which means a beginning through consular relations, so that later it will become a marriage, which would be Israel’s own embassy again in Venezuela, as we have always had here,” Venezuela’s Sephardic chief rabbi, Isaac Cohen, told AJN News.

Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez spoke of the country’s commitment to re-establish ties during a meeting last Friday with several Jewish leaders, including Cohen and Elias Farache, president of the Confederation of Israelite Associations of Venezuela, the umbrella Jewish organization.

Cohen said that he has been in touch with the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

“I am an Orthodox and Zionist rabbi, and for me it is Jewish pride to have the flag of the State of Israel hoisted here in Venezuela, as in any country where there is a Jewish community. That gives us peace and tranquility, it’s fundamental,” the rabbi said.

Last month, President Nicolas Maduro welcomed a Jewish delegation including Cohen and Farache at the governmental palace to strengthen cooperation that over the years has faced roadblocks.

“A good day of dialogue for peace. Boosting the co-existence and the dialog of civilizations, of religions to consolidate our nation,” the far-leftist leader tweeted after the meeting.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/venezuela-expresses-desire-to-reestablish-relations-with-israel/

 

Imam calling for Jews to be killed in sermon at Montreal mosque draws police complaint

Larger Muslim community wants apology from mosque and wonders why controversial imam was invited to preach

By Brennan Neill, Stephen Smith, CBC News

The controversial imam is Jordanian cleric Sheikh Muhammad bin Musa Al Nasr who was the invited guest of a Saint-Michel mosque.

The controversial imam is Jordanian cleric Sheikh Muhammad bin Musa Al Nasr who was the invited guest of a Saint-Michel mosque. (YouTube)

A Montreal mosque is facing a police complaint and rebukes from the larger Muslim community after a video of an imam delivering a sermon in which he asks for Jews to be killed surfaced online.

The sermon took place at the Dar Al-Arqam Mosque in the city’s Saint-Michel neighbourhood on Dec. 23, 2016.

The video was posted to the mosque’s YouTube channel three days later. The imam in the video is Jordanian cleric Sheikh Muhammad bin Musa Al Nasr — he was reportedly an invited guest of the mosque.

In the video, the imam recites in Arabic the verse: “O Muslim, O servant of Allah, O Muslim, O servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”

CBC independently verified the speech and its translation.

The controversial verse comes from a religious text known as a hadith, which interprets the words and actions by the Prophet Muhammad.

The hadith in question deals with end times and tells how stones and trees will ask Muslims to come and kill Jews hiding behind them.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/imam-sermon-montreal-mosque-1.4037397

 

China’s ZTE Pleads Guilty to Illegally Shipping U.S. Technology to Iran.

Mar 22, 2017

Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE on Wednesday pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court in Texas for illegally shipping U.S. goods and technology to Iran.

The guilty plea was part of an agreement the company reached earlier this month with U.S. authorities that also called for nearly $900 million in fines and other penalties.

The company admitted to three charges: conspiring to export American-made items to Iran without a license from the U.S. government, obstructing justice, and making a material false statement.

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A five-year investigation had found ZTE (ZTCOY, +1.86%) conspired to evade U.S. embargoes by buying U.S. components, incorporating them into ZTE equipment and illegally shipping them to Iran.

ZTE, which devised elaborate schemes to hide the illegal activity, agreed to the guilty plea after the U.S. Commerce Department took actions that threatened to cut off the gear maker’s global supply chain.

http://fortune.com/2017/03/22/zte-guilty-shipping-us-technology-iran/

Russia, India in Talks on Creating New Models of BrahMos Missiles – Putin’s Aide

Russia and India are in talks on creating new models of missiles at the BrahMos Aerospace joint enterprise, Russian Presidential Aide for Military-Technical Cooperation Vladimir Kozhin said Thursday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — India has set a target of $2 billion defense exports, a six-fold increase from current exports, by 2019. In order to give impetus to exports, the Narendra Modi government has allowed government-owned defense companies to earmark 10 per cent of their production for exports. “The biggest challenge in boosting defense exports from India is the limited range of exportable products, limited overseas markets and predominance of defense manufacturers who have been in the business far longer than India,” Cowshish added.

“Today, Indian partners propose to develop, deepen this cooperation, make new models of the missile, these talks are underway,” Kozhin said in an interview with Rossiya 24 television channel.

A hypersonic version of the BrahMos cruise missile, capable of flying at up to 5,000 kilometers per hour, is expected to be created by 2020.

https://sputniknews.com/military/201703231051898499-russia-india-brahmos/

France’s Marine Le Pen urges end to Russia sanctions

France’s far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has called for the lifting of EU sanctions on Russia, during a visit to Moscow.

The National Front (FN) leader called for closer French-Russian ties at a meeting in Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma.

She told its speaker sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea were counterproductive, Interfax reported.

Ms Le Pen has also met President Vladimir Putin.

He reportedly told her that Russia had no intention of interfering in the election, but had the right to meet any French politicians it wanted.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39375969

Terror suspect ‘drives car full of liquid gas, knives and rifles at high speed’ into Antwerp shopping crowds

Terrified pedestrians had to jump out of the way as the car entered the pedestrianised street just a day after the London terror attack

A suspected terrorist has been arrested in Belgium after he allegedly tried to drive a car into shoppers on a pedestrianised street – less than 24 hours after the attack in London.

The vehicle was reportedly full of liquid gas, knives and rifles.

Terrified pedestrians had to jump out of the way as the car entered the De Meir shopping street in Antwerp at high speed on Thursday morning.

The suspected driver, who was wearing camouflage, was later arrested by police, local media reported.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/antwerp-belgium-car-attack-london-10083953

U.S. Senate to vote on Montenegro’s NATO membership

The U.S. Senate will vote next week on the ratification of Montenegro as the newest member of the NATO alliance, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday, after the Trump administration urged lawmakers to take up the long-delayed matter.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had written to the leaders of the Senate to say Montenegro’s membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was “strongly in the interests of the United States.”

All 28 of NATO’s members must ratify Montenegro’s accession before it can formally join the alliance. The vote in the U.S. Senate was held up for months when at least two Republican senators, Rand Paul and Mike Lee, blocked a quick vote.

The Senate’s Republican leadership had not scheduled a more time-consuming roll call vote until Thursday. McConnell announced in the Senate that there would be a procedural vote on Monday evening, which should clear the way for a final ratification vote later in the week.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-nato-montenegro-idUSKBN16U33K

Moldovan PM Pavel Filip : NATO liaison office will open in Chisinau this July

1703241027561490270672original_8.jpg

Moldovan PM Pavel Filip said on Thursday at the end of the joint Romania – Moldova government meeting in Piatra Neamt that a NATO liaison office will open in Chisinau this July. Premier Pavel Filip also reaffirmed support for the participation of the Moldovan army in NATO joint exercises carried out outside country borders. 

“I said that the Republic of Moldova is a parliamentary country and the important decisions are taken by the government and Parliament. At the same time, we have the institution of the President who is also the commander-in-chief. We were faced with a less pleasant situation when the national army was unable to participate in the military exercises organized in Romania, under the NATO aegis. You are perfectly aware of President Igor Dodon’s stance and his love towards NATO. We managed to sign an agreement with NATO and a NATO liaison office will open in Chisinau in July. Back then we had discussions with the President of the country and explained to him that most of the national forces’ plan of activities related to training and exercises – that is about 80 percent – will take place outside the territory of the Republic of Moldova with the support of our NATO partners. The further refuse to participate in these exercises would mean the weakening of the national army, and it makes no logic when a commander-in-chief is complacent with the weakening of the National Forces. I believe this was the first and last time when this confusion occurred and that in the future the National Army of Moldova will participate in all applications. Even more than that, we should thank for this support with the training and exercises the Moldovan army participates in,” said Prime Minister Pavel Filip. 

http://actmedia.eu/daily/moldovan-pm-pavel-filip-nato-liaison-office-will-open-in-chisinau-this-july/68714

Pentagon worried about Chinese investment in US startups: report

The Pentagon is worried about new American technology firms turning to Chinese companies for investment on potential military applications, The New York Times reported.

Chinese firms are sending money to U.S. startups, include rocket engine manufacturers, companies that design sensors for autonomous naval ships and printers that make flexible screens that could be used in fighter jets. Many of the Chinese firms making the investments are owned by state-owned companies or have connections to Chinese officials, according to the Times.

Department of Defense (DOD) officials worry about the investments because they have found that China is encouraging companies with close government ties to invest in U.S. startups specializing in technology that could advance China’s military and its economy, according to a new DOD special report.

The Pentagon sent the report — commissioned before President Trump took office — to senior administration officials this week.

Details on the size of the deals are not available, as startups and their investors are not required to disclose them.

http://thehill.com/policy/defense/325519-pentagon-worried-about-chinese-investment-in-us-startups-report

Cyber war: Defense firms face battle to guard secrets

Thousands of defense contractors face a Pentagon directive to boost cyber security defenses by the end of the year, but many will likely won’t have all the safeguards in place, a cyber expert says.

“We don’t anticipate many companies being close to being compliant by the end of the year,” said Timothy Birt, Riverside Research information technology security administrator in Beavercreek.

Hackers target secret data on weapon systems, classified research on leap-ahead technology and personal information on top scientists and others with critical jobs.

“The interest in that personal data is to actually use it against employees of clear defense contractors to blackmail them or just coerce them into giving up information that they may not otherwise want to do,” Birt said.

 

Some of the prizes adversaries have pilfered via cyber espionage have loomed large: Congressional leaders have pointed out the close resemblance between the Chinese J-31 and the U.S. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the target of a cyber hack.

The Defense Science Board detailed other weapon systems cyber spies have stolen designs and data on span the F/A-18 fighter jet; the V-22 vertical take-off and landing aircraft; the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship and the Black Hawk helicopter, The Washington Post has reported.

“Cyber attacks have become the preferred method of conducting espionage, because virtually every U.S. secret is on a network somewhere.,” said Loren B. Thompson, senior defense analyst and a defense industry consultant with the Virginia-headquartered Lexington Institute. “If enemies can gain access to those networks, they can avoid the difficulty of planting agents in organizations — a drawn out and dangerous process.

http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/cyber-war-defense-firms-face-battle-guard-secrets/q5nqjUomGdjXeI5JQV1ceL/

 

 

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March 8, 2017

ISIS fanatics dressed as DOCTORS in white lab coats storm military hospital in Afghanistan shooting dead four patients and staff as dramatic siege breaks out

  • Three gunmen stormed the Sardar Daud Khan hospital in Kabl, Afghanistan
  • They gained entry to after a suicide bomber blew himself up at a rear entrance
  • Terrorists surged into the hospital dressed as doctors and armed with AK-47s
  • Four militants now dead after police shot dead three gunmen who opened fire 

Terrorists dressed as doctors in white lab coats stormed a military hospital in Afghanistan shooting dead four patients and staff and injuring dozens more.

ISIS have claimed responsibility for the attack on Sardar Daud Khan hospital in Kabul and one of the gunmen appeared to wave the terror group’s flag out of the window before he and his fellow assailants were shot dead.

Hospital administrators said three gunmen wearing white lab coats ran riot in the hospital after a suicide bomber on foot blew himself up at the backdoor entrance, sparking chaos inside the 400-bed facility.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4292378/Blast-gunfire-hit-Kabul-military-hospital-officials.html#ixzz4ajcUN8MY

At least 30 killed in attack on Kabul military hospital

At least 30 people have been killed in an attack on a hospital. 02:25

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN)Attackers dressed in medical uniforms stormed a military hospital in the heart of the Afghan capital of Kabul on Wednesday, killing more than 30 people and wounding at least 50, said Dawlat Waziri, spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense.

A suicide bomber set off an explosion at the south gate to the Sardar Mohammed Daud Khan hospital before three gunmen entered the building and made their way to the second and third floors, said Sediq Sediqqi, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman.
The gunmen killed and wounded doctors and hospital employees and injured Afghan soldiers, according to an Afghan Defense Ministry statement.
Afghan security forces and police mounted a six-hour siege at the hospital, which is the biggest and best-equipped facility in the country. They killed the attackers around 3:30 p.m. local time (6 a.m. Wednesday ET).
The facility, known locally as the “400 bed” hospital, is located only a few hundred meters from the US embassy and the diplomatic quarter of Kabul. Other recent attacks in Kabul have targeted important public buildings, such as the Afghan Supreme Court and national parliament.

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un lights fire across Asia, raising dilemma for Trump

The stakes for Donald Trump are potentially higher than Obama, given North Korea’s progress in developing an intercontinental missile capable of hitting the US with a nuclear warhead

This picture was released by North Korea’s KCNA on 7 March, 2017 showing the launch of four ballistic missiles by the Korean People’s Army during a military drill at an undisclosed location in North Korea. Photo: AFP/

This picture was released by North Korea’s KCNA on 7 March, 2017 showing the launch of four ballistic missiles by the Korean People’s Army during a military drill at an undisclosed location in North Korea.

 

Hong Kong: Murder in Malaysia. Protests in China. And missiles flying toward Japan. All can be traced back to North Korea and show how Kim Jong Un is managing to stir up tensions in the region while trying to provoke a reaction from US President Donald Trump.

The question for Trump, Xi Jinping and other leaders is how to respond, given sanctions, cajoling and military pressure have all failed to rein Kim in. While Trump initially signalled he’d be open to talks, more recently he’s indicated he could follow Barack Obama’s lead in insisting North Korea abandon its nuclear programme before negotiations can occur.

The stakes for Trump are potentially higher than Obama, given Pyongyang’s progress in developing an intercontinental missile capable of hitting the US with a nuclear warhead. The recent events are probably Kim’s way—after a hiatus in his provocations—to try and force Trump to the table with concessions, analysts said.

http://www.livemint.com/Politics/FxjnuBMLgKGWtE2In1fuSP/North-Koreas-Kim-Jong-Un-lights-fire-across-Asia-raising-d.html

 

Islamic State leader Baghdadi abandons Mosul fight to field commanders, U.S. and Iraqi sources say

By Isabel Coles, John Walcott and Maher Chmaytelli | MOSUL, IRAQ/WASHINGTON

U.S. and Iraqi officials believe the leader of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has left operational commanders behind with diehard followers to fight the battle of Mosul, and is now hiding out in the desert, focusing mainly on his own survival.

It is impossible to confirm the whereabouts of the Islamic State “caliph”, who declared himself the ruler of all Muslims from Mosul’s Great Mosque after his forces swept through northern Iraq in 2014.

But U.S. and Iraqi intelligence sources say an absence of official communication from the group’s leadership and the loss of territory in Mosul suggest he has abandoned the city, by far the largest population center his group has ever held.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-baghdadi-idUSKBN16F1DF

 

Kim Jong-Un is preparing for ANOTHER missile test as China warns North and South Korea are like ‘two trains accelerating towards a head-on collision’

  • China has stepped into the escalating tensions between the US and North Korea
  • Superpower suggested North Korea could suspend nuclear and missile activities
  • US and South Korea could then halt joint military drills, Chinese minister said
  • In the past week, North Korea has fired off four ballistic missiles in what it called a training exercise for a strike on US bases in Japan

Kim Jong-Un is preparing for another missile test despite moves by China to diffuse growing tensions between North and South Korea.

Beijing wants North Korea to suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for a halt in joint military drills conducted by the US and South Korea.

Minister Wang Yi said that escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula were like ‘two accelerating trains, coming toward each other with neither side willing to give way.’

Wang asked: ‘Are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision?’

But despite the warning, Kim has lined up yet another test of a new medium-range missile.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4292664/Kim-Jong-prepares-missile-test-tensions-rise.html#ixzz4ajcv5Rds

North Korea Could Soon Launch Attack on Hawaii

Experts call for immediate upgrade in state’s missile defenses

BY:
March 8, 2017 5:00 am

North Korea could soon have the capacity to launch an attack on Hawaii that would devastate America’s Pacific military bases, accelerating the need for the United States to upgrade missile defenses in the area.

The United States today relies on ground-based ballistic missile interceptors deployed in California and Alaska to protect Hawaii, but these defenses would do little to guard U.S. territory in the Pacific against a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which officials believe is nearing completion.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency in February test fired a new SM-3 Block IIA missile from Hawaii that successfully intercepted an incoming ballistic missile, but the Pentagon does not maintain a permanent missile defense installation or detection capabilities on the Hawaiian Islands.

The Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii hosts an experimental, land-based ballistic missile defense system called Aegis Ashore. The facility served as a prototype for the U.S. missile defense facility in Romania, which was declared operational last year, and another in Poland that will be completed in 2018.

Ariel Cohen, director of the Center for Energy, Natural Resources, and Geopolitics at the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, told the Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday that the Defense Department needs to immediately upgrade the Aegis Ashore facility in Hawaii from experimental to operational to guard against North Korean aggression.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/north-korea-soon-launch-attack-hawaii/

U.S., Russia Counter Erdogan in Syria as Kurds Get Shield

  • Buffer zones set up to prevent assault on Kurdish-held town
  • Putin to meet Erdogan, Netanyahu this week as battle spreads
The U.S. and Russia have found themselves teaming up for the first time in the war in Syria — against a country both call an ally: Turkey.

The U.S. and Russia moved this week to block a threatened drive by Turkey to seize Manbij, a town in northern Syria about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Turkish border. A U.S. deployment and a Russian-brokered deal with Syrian forces created buffer zones that headed off any Turkish campaign against the Kurdish forces who hold the town — seen by Washington as key allies against Islamic State and by Turkey as terrorists.

As the outside powers fighting in Syria step up the fight to crush Islamic State, the battle is laying bare their often-conflicting loyalties. With all sides pushing into terrorist-held territory, the potential for clashes between the players is rising.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is a central player thanks to his military campaign, but he must keep allies like Syria and Iran on his side even as tries to cooperate with the U.S. and Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan comes to Moscow on Thursday with his defense minister for talks with Putin.

“This is a unique circumstance when the U.S. and Russia have found themselves thrown together against Turkey because of the Kurds, who are directly sponsored by Washington and get Russian support too,” said Alexander Shumilin, head of the Middle East Conflict Center at the Institute for U.S. and Canada Studies, a government-run research group in Moscow.

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-03-08/u-s-russia-counter-erdogan-in-syria-as-fight-scrambles-allies

To security establishment, WikiLeaks’ CIA dump is part of US-Russia battle

WikiLeaks says documents about CIA’s computer hacking tools came from US, but many perceive group as pro-Russia following role in 2016 election 

in Washington

The latest WikiLeaks document dump about the CIA’s computer hacking toolshighlights the intelligence agency’s penetration of everyday consumer electronics, heightening profound fears about privacy aroused in 2013 by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

In the Washington security establishment, however, the leaks are being viewed more as the latest battle in a struggle between US and Russian intelligence services being played out in the US political arena – a fight in which WikiLeaks is widely seen as sitting firmly in Moscow’s corner.

The latest leaks land amid an ongoing and very public feud between the US president and the country’s intelligence agencies over Kremlin efforts to influence the election in Donald Trump’s favour. In recent months, the president has repeatedly denigrated US intelligence agencies – going as far as comparing them to the Nazi regime – while openly cheering on WikiLeaks activities. He has also alleged, so far without any evidence, that the Obama administration spied on himand his election campaign.

The apparent CIA hacking tools published by WikiLeaks feed directly into that struggle. Some Trump supporters have claimed that the apparent Russian hacking attacks could be a “false-flag” operation, hinting it was carried out by the new president’s domestic foes, and the “Vault 7” documents published on Tuesday give them potential ammunition.

The WikiLeaks press release highlights the CIA’s “Umbrage” group, said to collect a library of hacking tools used by intelligence agencies of foreign countries, “including the Russian Federation”, allowing them to conduct false flag operations.

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/mar/07/wikileaks-cia-documents-us-russia-conflict

Did The US Military Just Invade Syria?

Several days ago, a convoy of U.S. troops was spotted crossing the border into Syria from Iraqi Kurdistan. The convoy, comprised mostly of hulking Stryker armored fighting vehicles, was en route to the Syrian village of Manbij, which was recently liberated from ISIS. It’s the most overt U.S. military action on the ground in Syria to date. In fact, each vehicle in the convoy was outfitted with a large American flag. The soldiers were meant to be seen. It didn’t take long for photos to surface on the internet, and the Department of Defense was prepared with an explanation.

According to Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, the soldiers were deployed to Syria to keep peace among the myriad militias and other forces who have temporarily set aside longstanding feuds to focus on repelling ISIS from Manbij. “It’s a visible reminder, for anybody who’s looking to start a fight, that the only fight that should be going on right now is with ISIS,” Davis told the Associated Press.

Until now, the American mission in Syria has been limited to training, advising, and equipping local forces, and the occasional clandestine raid. But the troops who just arrived in Syria do not specialize in standing up or bolstering indigenous armies (a mission set known as Foreign Internal Defense, which is exclusive to certain units under the military’s Special Operations Command). They’re not Green Berets, or Navy SEALs, or MARSOC Raiders. They are members of the U.S. military’s premier raid force — the 75th Ranger Regiment.

http://taskandpurpose.com/us-military-just-invade-syria/

Trump Admin Blasted for Continuing Obama Admin Effort to Sell Iran Planes

Leading Republican calls for moratorium, questions admin priorities

BY:

The Trump administration is under increasing criticism from Republican lawmakers for continuing Obama-era policies to provide material support to the Iranian regime, including airplanes, which many have warned could be used to illegally ferry weapons across the Middle East on behalf of the Islamic Republic’s war effort, according to lawmakers and veteran congressional insiders who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

The Trump administration’s Treasury Department informed the Free Beacon on Monday that it would continue to grant licenses to companies such as Boeing so that they can pursue multi-billion dollar deals with Iran.

This policy, started by the Obama administration as part of the nuclear deal with Iran, is opposed by many on Capitol Hill and runs counter to campaign trail promises by President Donald Trump to end such agreements.

Iran announced in February that it had found a “foreign company” to finance the country’s purchase of at least 77 new planes from Boeing and Airbus.

The Treasury Department would not provide the Free Beacon with the name of this foreign entity, despite multiple requests, stating only that licenses making these sales legal “will be issued the same as any other specific license,” according to a Treasury Department official. The sales are set to be approved per guidelines set forth in the Iran nuclear agreement.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/trump-admin-blasted-continuing-obama-admin-effort-sell-iran-planes/

Palestinian gun dealers ordering parts off the internet, army says

In an illegal weapons crackdown, IDF seizes hundreds of firearm components, arrests 9 suspects in Nablus

Hundreds of gun parts seized by the IDF as part of a raid in the Balata refugee camp, outside Nablus, on March 8, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

Since the beginning of last year, the Israel Defense Forces has been focused on thwarting the manufacture and sale of guns in the West Bank, with the hope of preventing such weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists and criminals.

The army has raided dozens of alleged gunsmithing workshops and seized hundreds of weapons in the past 15 months. But in the overnight raid, the army set its sights on a new aspect of the gun trade: online markets.

The army found that Palestinians had been using websites to purchase firearm components, an intelligence officer in the army’s West Bank Division told reporters on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/palestinian-gun-dealers-ordering-parts-off-the-internet-army-says/

Germany warns Turkey over Nazi jibes amid referendum rowComparisons with Nazi Germany are “lines that should not be crossed”, the German foreign minister has warned his Turkish counterpart as they met to try to defuse a bitter row.

But Sigmar Gabriel also emphasised his wish to return to “friendly relations”.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Germany of “Nazi practices” because of the cancellation of rallies involving Turkish ministers.

He is seeking new constitutional powers in a 16 April referendum.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu repeated the Nazi comparison on a visit to Hamburg aimed at drumming up support among some of the 1.4m Turkish voters who live in Germany.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned the Nazi jibe as “unacceptable” and Mr Gabriel echoed her sentiment after a breakfast meeting in Berlin with Mr Cavusoglu.

“The Turkish side said it wanted to be treated equally with respect but I believe both sides have a responsibility and there are lines that must not be crossed and any comparison with Nazi Germany is one of them,” Mr Gabriel said.

But Mr Gabriel was also keen to stress the “success” of the two nations’ ties, and stressed his intention to avoid lasting damage to them.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39203624

Turkey gets additional drones to fight ISIS, Kurds

ANKARA — Kale-Baykar, a privately owned Turkish venture specialized in drones, has delivered a batch of six armed drones to the Turkish military.
The Turkish Defense Ministry said in a statement that the Bayraktar TB-2 unmanned aerial vehicles, indigenously developed by Kale-Bayraktar, would be stationed at an air base in Elazig in eastern Turkey. Two of the drones are armed, the statement said.
Turkey last year successfully tested the Bayraktar, which hit a target at the Konya fire test field in central Anatolia from a distance of eight kilometers. The Bayraktar uses the MAM-L and MAM-C, two mini smart munitions developed and produced by the state-controlled missile maker Roketsan. Roketsan’s mini systems weigh 22.5 kilograms including a 10-kilogram warhead.
Turkey’s local industry also is developing BSI-101, a SIGINT system, for the Bayraktar in order to end Turkey’s dependence on U.S.-made SIGINT systems for drones.
The Bayraktar can fly at a maximum altitude of 24,000 feet. Its communications range is 150 kilometers. The aircraft can carry up to 55 kilograms of payload.
Turkey plans to extensively use a fleet of various drones in its anti-insurgency fight against Kurdish militants in the country’s eastern and southeastern regions as well as in neighboring northern Iraq and northern Syria.

Alleged Iranian spy set to be tried in Germany

BERLIN (AP) ” A 31-year-old Pakistani man is going on trial in Berlin on allegations he spied for Iran on Israeli and Jewish institutions in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

Syed Mustufa H., whose full name was not giving for privacy reasons, is due in court Wednesday on espionage charges.

H., who came to Germany in 2012 to go to university, is accused of having collected information on a professor at a university in Paris, the former president of the German-Israel Society and others in Western European countries.

Prosecutors say he then passed the information to a contact person with the Iranian intelligence agency. He’s alleged to have received at least 2,052 euros ($2,170) for his spying activities.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11814673

German bank blacklist of Yemeni nationals widens

The decision by German banks to cancel the accounts of 100 Yemeni nationals now has wider implications, DW can reveal. The entire state of Yemen has been blacklisted by Commerzbank.

Commerzbank (picture-alliance/dpa/B. Roessler)

Last month, Deutsche Welle reported that several German credit institutes, including Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, have been terminating the bank accounts of close to 100 Yemeni students, businesspeople and diplomats in Germany without giving any reason.

But now, based on a letter from Commerzbank, obtained by DW, it is now clear that this wave of cancellations isn’t just targeting individuals from the Middle Eastern country, but the state of Yemen itself.

Commerzbank-Schreiben an den jemenitischen Botschafter in Deutschland NEU (Jemenitische Botschaft Berlin)

The letter, dated February 17 and addressed to Yemen’s ambassador Yahia Mohammed Abdullah Al-Shaibi, reads: “Due to changes in business policy we will no longer support or transact business with Yemen.” When approached by DW for a response, Commerzbank replied it was not going to further comment on the issue.

The latest revelation is a major setback for the estimated 2,000 Yemeni nationals living in Germany, as they attempt to find new banking facilities in their host country.

http://www.dw.com/en/german-bank-blacklist-of-yemeni-nationals-widens/a-37839413

New revelation hits France’s scandal-plagued Fillon

PARIS – Scandal-plagued French presidential hopeful Francois Fillon was hit by a new revelation on Tuesday, this time over an interest-free, undeclared loan he received from a billionaire friend.
The conservative candidate “did not deem it necessary” to report the 50,000 euros (R685745.80) loan he received from Marc Ladreit de Lacharriere in 2013 to a state transparency watchdog, the Canard Enchaine weekly said in its edition to appear Wednesday.

“The ‘oversight’ may be costly for the presidential candidate,” said the investigative and satirical newspaper, which also made the allegations in January about the fake jobs scandal that has threatened to derail Fillon’s candidacy.

Le Canard Enchaine reported that Fillon’s lawyer Antonin Levy had confirmed the loan had been repaid in full, but did not say when.

https://www.enca.com/world/new-revelation-hits-frances-scandal-plagued-fillon

Britain beefs up defenses in the Falkland Islands

LONDON – Britain has awarded £153 million (US $187 million) worth of contracts to equip the Falkland Islands with a new ground-based air-defense system known as Sky Sabre, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed. 
A clutch of deals agreed around the turn of the year but only now becoming public includes award of a contract by the British to an Israeli company to supply a key battlefield command-and-control network to defend the South Atlantic island from potential Argentinian aggression.

The main contract award, which the MoD valued at £78 million (US $95 million), was signed Jan. 9 with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defence Systems, to develop a battle management, command, control, communications, computers  and intelligence (BMC4I) network.

Missile builder MBDA and surveillance radar supplier Saab have also been awarded contracts to integrate other, already ordered, ground-based air-defense system elements into the BMC4I.

Trump to Pick Former UN Spokesman Grenell for NATO Post, Official Says

  • Grenell will be among highest-ranking openly gay officials
  • Former Fox commentator was a Trump loyalist from early on

President Donald Trump will nominate Richard Grenell to be his ambassador to NATO, according to a White House official, a selection that would make the longtime loyalist and former U.S. spokesman at the United Nations the highest-ranking openly gay person to serve in the administration.

Reached by phone on Wednesday, Grenell, 50, declined to comment. The White House official asked not to be identified because the position hasn’t been formally announced.

A spokesman under John Bolton and three other Republican-administration ambassadors at the UN from 2001 through 2008, Grenell has been a Fox News contributor for four years and a Trump supporter since the start of the campaign.

The founder of Capitol Media Partners, he frequently tangles with journalists on his Twitter feed, accusing reporters of being unfair to Trump and Republicans. His name had circulated as a candidate for Trump’s ambassador to the UN, though the job ultimately went to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-08/trump-said-to-pick-former-un-spokesman-grenell-for-nato-post

NATO, Russia reach rare consensus on issues of airspace security in Baltic Sea

HELSINKI, March 7 (Xinhua) — Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said here on Tuesday that NATO and Russia had reached a consensus on some issues of airspace security in the Baltic Sea region.

At a press conference held after a meeting with visiting Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid on Tuesday, Niinisto said that NATO and Russia shared the same opinions on some issues at the International Civil Aviation Organization’s airspace security meeting in Helsinki at the beginning of March.

“I think it is very remarkable that NATO and Russia were in agreement with this. We haven’t seen it for years. Even though they are minor things, if we can enhance airspace security in the Baltic Sea area, it will hopefully be the start of finding out bigger (issues) to agree on also,” said Niinisto.

Kaljulaid also emphasized the importance of the small steps made by NATO and Russia, saying the development of airspace security was a good example of that.

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-03/08/c_136110321.htm

In first, missile launched from unmanned Israeli ship

Rafael defense contractor lauds achievement as proof of remote-controlled boats’ potential for naval security

An unmanned Israel Navy ship test fires missile off the coast of Ashkelon on March 7, 2017. (IDF spokesperson)

An unmanned Israel Navy ship test fires missile off the coast of Ashkelon on March 7, 2017. (IDF spokesperson)

For the first time, a missile has been fired from a remote-controlled, unmanned ship during an exercise, the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems contractor announced Tuesday.

The missiles were fired by a new version of Rafael’s “Protector” series of unmanned ships, which had only previously been capable of small arms fire.

The unmanned ship fired Spike missiles, a Rafael-made guided missile. They reportedly struck all of the simulated targets successfully during the tests.

The tests were carried out off the coast of Askhelon by the Navy’s 916th Squadron, which operates off the Gaza coast.

The Israel Defense Forces currently has a small fleet of “Protector” ships, which are used to complement its manned patrol boats around Israel’s coastal waters.

This version of the “Protector” model is referred to by the Israel Navy as the “Sea Knight.”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/in-first-missile-launched-from-unmanned-israeli-ship/

“Serbia to get Russian MiGs on NATO aggression anniversary”

Russian President Vladimir Putin should sign a degree on the delivery of six MiG-29s to Serbia during his meeting in Moscow with Serbian PM Aleksandar Vucic.

SOURCE: VECERNJE NOVOSTI /

Belgrade-based Vecernje Novosti is reporting this, and adding that there is a great chance that the warplanes will officially join the Serbian Armed Forces “symbolically” on March 24 – the 18th anniversary of the start of NATO’s aggression against Serbia.

The MiGs will land at the military airport in Batajnica at the end of the month. The handover ceremony will be attended by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the newspaper writes, and adds that “the details of the arrival of the MiGs” are not published officially for the time being.

According to the article, two possibilities are under consideration.

“The option of the MiGs flying directly from Russia to Serbia is being considered. That has not been quite confirmed yet, because it would also have a delicate political note. One of the ideas is to, in this case, have the planes salute Serbia by flying vertically across its entire territory. The other option is to deliver the aircraft aboard Russian transport planes, most likely Ilyushins,” an unnamed source from top military circles has been quoted as saying.

http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2017&mm=03&dd=08&nav_id=100707

Kosovo moves to create national army despite Serb opposition

by Reuters
* Kosovo says new army would help cement peace

* Serbia warns of regional instability

* Serb deputies to boycott Kosovo parliament session

By Fatos Bytyci

PRISTINA, March 8 (Reuters) – Kosovo signalled on Wednesday plans to turn its security force into a national army, a move strongly opposed by its ethnic Serb minority and by Belgrade which said it would cause instability in the region.

Nearly two decades after the Kosovo war, relations between Belgrade and Pristina remain strained and Serbia continues to regard Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008, as a renegade province.

The Kosovo government ordered the creation of a national army three years ago but Serbian deputies said they would block the required changes to the constitution.

On Wednesday parliament indicated it would bypass that opposition by preparing amendments to an existing law that would allow the Kosovo Security Forces (KSF) to buy heavy weapons, effectively turning it into an army.

A vote is expected in the coming days. Serb deputies, who number just 11 in the 120-strong chamber but whose support would be needed to change the constitution, said they would boycott the session.

“This is a decision in the interests of our country for completely peaceful purposes … to have good relations with all our neighbours but also to protect our country,” the speaker of parliament, Kadri Veseli, said during a visit to a KSF barracks.

http://news.trust.org/item/20170308122417-el9l6

The Pentagon got caught trying to hide embarrassing cost overruns on Navy ships

(PACIFIC OCEAN (April 23, 2014) 


If the data you need to release to the public is potentially embarrassing, there’s always classification review to the rescue.

The US Government Accountability Office deleted details of cost overruns on two of the Navy’s littoral combat ships from a report on shipbuilding contracts, at the request of the Defense Office of Prepublication and Security Review.

The review referred to the financial tidbit on the USS Milwaukee and the USS Jackson as “sensitive but unclassified” in a footnote, according to Anthony Capaccio of Bloomberg News, who first reported the news.

“The department failed to consider the public interest in knowing that cost targets were being exceeded, and by how much,” Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy, told Bloomberg. “Instead, it looks like DoD is trying to keep unfavorable facts out of the public eye. In the long-run, that’s not a smart move.”

The Navy’s push to field littoral combat ships has come under sharp criticism from defense experts and members of Congress. Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, for example, last year called out the $12.4 billion for the Navy’s requested 26 littoral combat ships as “an unfortunate and classic example” of the problems of defense acquisition, according to AP.

That’s not to mention the problems with the ships themselves, which have been plagued with mechanical issues. In 2016, four LCS’s experienced engineering difficulties, forcing the Navy to halt all further operations of the ships.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/pentagon-got-caught-trying-hide-221424491.html

Report casts doubt about Pentagon adding third missile defense site

This after a recent New York Times article indicated that the two exiting sites–located in Alaska and California–have a poor rate of success.

Furthermore, the report stated that more recently the military has concentrated on using other forms of cyber defense.

However, north country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik continues to push for Drum to get a missile interceptor. Stefanik’s office telling 7 News that adding a site to the east coast would increase “reliability.”

Two other locations are up for consideration along with Fort Drum, but it’s not yet known whether the Pentagon will ever actually green light the costly project.

http://www.informnny.com/news/local-news/report-casts-doubt-about-pentagon-adding-third-missile-defense-site/667891739

As North Korea missile threat grows, Japan lawmakers argue for first strike options

By Tim Kelly and Nobuhiro Kubo | TOKYO

Rattled by North Korean military advances, influential Japanese lawmakers are pushing harder for Japan to develop the ability to strike preemptively at the missile facilities of its nuclear-armed neighbor.

Japan has so far avoided taking the controversial and costly step of acquiring bombers or weapons such as cruise missiles with enough range to strike other countries, relying instead on its U.S. ally to take the fight to its enemies.

But the growing threat posed by Pyongyang, including Monday’s simultaneous launch of four rockets, is adding weight to an argument that aiming for the archer rather than his arrows is a more effective defense.

 “If bombers attacked us or warships bombarded us, we would fire back. Striking a country lobbing missiles at us is no different,” said Itsunori Onodera, a former defense minister who heads a ruling Liberal Democratic Party committee looking at how Japan can defend against the North Korean missile threat. “Technology has advanced and the nature of conflict has changed.”

For decades, Japan has been stretching the limits of its post-war, pacifist constitution. Successive governments have said Tokyo has the right to attack enemy bases overseas when the enemy’s intention to attack Japan is evident, the threat is imminent and there are no other defense options.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-japan-idUSKBN16F0YE

Study Finds India Is Asia’s Most Corrupt Country, While Japan Comes In Last

One of the main objective of the current Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been to make India corruption free. But it seems the country still has a long way to go. A recent survey by Transparency International (TI), an anti-corruption global civil society organization, states that India has the highest bribery rate among the 16 Asia Pacific countries surveyed. Nearly seven in 10 people who accessed public services in India had paid a bribe. In contrast, Japan has the lowest bribery rate, with 0.2% respondents paying a bribe.

Approximately 900 million — or over one in four — people across 16 countries in Asia Pacific, including some of its biggest economies like India and China, are estimated to have paid a bribe to access public services. For its report titled “People and Corruption: Asia Pacific”, TI spoke to nearly 22,000 people in these countries about their recent experiences with corruption.

One of the main objective of the current Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been to make India corruption free. But it seems the country still has a long way to go. A recent survey by Transparency International (TI), an anti-corruption global civil society organization, states that India has the highest bribery rate among the 16 Asia Pacific countries surveyed. Nearly seven in 10 people who accessed public services in India had paid a bribe. In contrast, Japan has the lowest bribery rate, with 0.2% respondents paying a bribe.

Approximately 900 million — or over one in four — people across 16 countries in Asia Pacific, including some of its biggest economies like India and China, are estimated to have paid a bribe to access public services. For its report titled “People and Corruption: Asia Pacific”, TI spoke to nearly 22,000 people in these countries about their recent experiences with corruption.

 

Even massive economic players like China aren’t that far behind India. The biggest economy in the region has a lot to do in terms of fighting corruption. Nearly three quarters of the people surveyed in the country said corruption has increased over the past three years, suggesting people don’t see much work happening against corruption.

People in the survey were also asked to rate their government in terms of how it was performing in fighting public sector corruption. More than half the people living in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia felt that their government was doing a good job in fighting corruption. In contrast people in South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia didn’t think highly of their government in its fight against corruption.

Services people pay for

Across the region, nearly two in five said that they thought most or all police officers were corrupt. Unsurprisingly, just under a third of people in the region who had come into contact with a police officer in the past 12 months had paid a bribe. While citizens of Pakistan were the most likely of any country to be asked for bribes in law and order institutions (around seven in 10), for India the police bribery rate is 54% and for China a low 12%.

India had the highest bribery rates of all the countries surveyed for access to public schools (58%) and healthcare (59%), suggesting serious corruption risks when people try to access these basic services. In comparison these numbers for Pakistan and China for public schools are 9% and 29% respectively. In terms of healthcare, the rate for China is 18% and for Pakistan 11%.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/suparnagoswami/2017/03/08/study-finds-india-is-asias-most-corrupt-country-while-japan-comes-in-last/#52468ccf1201

 

Air Force Orders Rheinmetall Ammo for F-35 Fleet


Rheinmetall
has received a $6.5 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to produce four lots of ammunition for the service branch’s fleet of Lockheed Martin-built F-35 aircraft.

The company said Monday it will begin to deliver Frangible Armor Piercing rounds to the Air Force in December 2017.

Rheinmetall will manufacture the ammunition at a company facility in Switzerland and expects its joint venture with Day and Zimmermann‘s munitions business to assemble ammunition in the U.S. under future follow-on contracts.

The FAP round was originally developed for NATO air forces as part of an effort to boost the F-35’s lethal capacity in comparison with modern infantry fighting vehicles.

Dusseldorf, Germany-based Rheinmetall provides mobility and threat-appropriate security technology platforms to military customers.

http://blog.executivebiz.com/2017/03/air-force-orders-rheinmetall-ammo-for-f-35-fleet/?utm_source=ExecutiveBiz+Daily+RSS+Feed&utm_campaign=26ce0ab718-Mailchimp_ExecutiveBiz_RSS_10_23_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_378117c9e8-26ce0ab718-81843969

Stolen Apple IDs can hold your iPhone hostage

“The problem is, Apple IDs are used with too many services,” Xiao said as he showed a slide listing 20 different Apple services accessible with an Apple ID, including the App Store, Apple Music, the Apple Online Store, iCloud, Find My iPhone, iMessage and the Mac App Store. “Every feature can be abused to make a profit.”

He explained that Apple IDs can be exploited to squeeze money out of almost any aspect of the Apple ecosystem, from deceiving users with spam Apple Messages, to locking users out of their devices and demanding ransom, to artificially pumping up the user ratings of dodgy apps so that they rank in the Top 10 on the App Store.

http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2017/02/14/stolen-apple-ids-can-hold-your-iphone-hostage.html

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

February 10, 2017

Trump nixed candidate for State Department job over campaign criticism: report

President Trump has rejected a top candidate for deputy secretary of State who criticized him during the 2016 presidential campaign, CNNreported Friday.

A meeting between Trump and Elliott Abrams went well, CNN reported, but Trump nixed Abrams for the State Department role once he learned that Abrams criticized him during his White House run.

Abrams, who worked for former presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, was considered a top contender for the No. 2 job.
He had the backing of White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and senior adviser Jared Kushner. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also supported Abrams for the job because of his experience, CNN reported.

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/318943-trump-rejected-abrams-as-deputy-secretary-of-state-after-he-learned

Russia suspected over hacking attack on Italian foreign ministry

Exclusive: Italian government official says no classified emails were compromised in attack believed to have lasted more than four months last year

Italy’s prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni
Italy’s prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni, was foreign minister at the time of the hack, but sources say he was not affected. Photograph: Dadi/AGF/REX/Shutterstock

Russia is suspected by Italian officials of being behind a sustained hacking attack against the Italian foreign ministry last year that compromised email communications and lasted for many months before it was detected, according to people familiar with the matter.

An Italian government official confirmed that the attack hit the foreign ministry last spring and lasted for more than four months but did not infiltrate an encrypted system used for classified communications.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/10/russia-suspected-over-hacking-attack-on-italian-foreign-ministry

Britain’s entire fleet of attack submarines ‘out of action’Laura Hughes,

The Royal Navy’s fleet of attack submarines are all currently out of action, according to reports.

Britain’s seven ‘hunter-killer’ vessels are understood to be ‘non-operational’ as they undergo repairs and maintenance.

HMS Astute is the only vessel currently at sea, but she is still “weeks away” from active service.

Theresa May is said to have been kept in the dark by Defence chiefs, the Sun reports.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/10/britains-entire-fleet-attack-submarines-action/

French Jews will have to renounce their Israeli citizenship if Marine Le Pen is elected as president, the National Front leader reveals

  • Far-right leader said citizens with dual nationalities from non-European countries will have to choose one or the other
  • She was quizzed on whether she includes Israel within proposed rules
  • Le Pen said those who do not choose French nationality will not necessarily be forced to leave
  • She has previously called for Jews to stop wearing kippahs in public 

French Jews who have dual Israeli nationality will have to give up one of their nationalities if far-right candidate Marine Le Pen is elected.

The Front National leader said she would not allow citizens to hold dual citizenship in two non-European countries.

She will, however, not include Russia in the policy, stating she considers it to be part of the ‘Europe of nations’.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4211324/Le-Pen-French-Jews-renounce-Israeli-citizenship.html#ixzz4YHtgNgaZ

Girl, 16, is among four people arrested in France on suspicion of plotting a suicide bomb attack in Paris using ‘Mother of Satan’ explosives

  • The four are suspected of planning a terror attack on the French capital
  • They were arrested today in the southern city of Montpellier
  • Reports from France suggest they may have been identified on social media
  • Explosives were reportedly found by anti-terrorist teams 

A 16-year-old girl has been arrested in the French city of Montpellier on suspicion of plotting a suicide attack in Paris.

She was one of four suspects arrested after investigators from the anti-terrorist sub-directorate swooped this morning.

Agents had been monitoring their computers for several weeks, and it thought the four may have been identified on social media.

A ‘bomb-making laboratory’ was found in the single flat raided in Montpellier, said a source close to the case.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4211008/Girl-16-arrested-Paris-terror-probe.html#ixzz4YHui5Jg2

Trump tells Chinese president US will honor ‘one China’ policy

President Donald Trump told China President Xi Jinping the U.S. would honor the “one China” policy months after Trump suggested he might use American policy on Taiwan as a bargaining chip between the two sides.

Trump “agreed at the request of President Xi,” to honor the policy, the White House said in a statement late Thursday.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/02/10/trump-tells-chinese-president-us-will-honor-one-china-policy.html

Michael Flynn talked sanctions with Russia before Trump took office: Reports

– The Washington Times – Friday, February 10, 2017

National Security Adviser Michael Flynn discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with the Russian ambassador before President Trump took office, according to new reports.

Mr. Flynndenied he had discussed the sanctions with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to The Washington Post on Wednesday before a spokesman said Thursday that while Mr. Flynn had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he “couldn’t be certain” that the topic never came up.

The Post said its report relied on “nine current and former officials” who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/feb/10/michael-flynn-talked-sanctions-russia-trump-took-o/

Ukraine will hold live-fire drills with Buk-M1 antiaircraft missile systems at the Yagorlyk practice range in the Kherson Region in the country’s southeast, spokesman for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry Dmitry Gutsulyak said on Friday. About 50 tactical exercises have been planned with the command posts of brigades, regiments and basic units, almost 25 tactical drills with Buk-M1 surface-to-air missile batteries at practice ranges, and also about 35 tactical and special maneuvers with logistics teams to ensure cohesion of antiaircraft missile formations, TASS quoted him as saying. “Units of S-300 air defense systems will take part in tactical live-fire drills during the multinational exercises Saber Guardian – 2017 at the Shabla training range in Bulgaria,” Gutsulyak added.

https://www.rt.com/news/line/

Russia’s Baltic Sea Pipeline Scares The Life Out Of Ukraine

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Despite opposition last year from anti-trust authorities in Poland, Russia is not backing down. Energy giant Gazprom insists it will build the Nord Stream II pipeline through the Baltic Sea even if it has to do it alone. The pipeline will sit right beside the Nord Stream I pipeline that already exists.  And if it gets built, Ukraine is convinced it’s future as a transit line for Russian gas into Europe is finished.

“As it is, Russia is moving its traditional Ukraine transit to Nord Stream I,” says Andriy Kobolyev, CEO of Naftogaz in Ukraine. “If you look at the numbers on gas consumption in Europe out to 2020, it is obvious to me that if we get a Nord Stream II and if we get the expansion of Turkish Stream, which is already happening, with two pipelines there now instead of one, then that will mean Ukrainian transit of Russian gas into Europe with equal zero.”

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2017/02/09/russias-baltic-sea-pipeline-scares-the-life-out-of-ukraine/#6dd5abce336b

Top commander: Russia ‘legitimizing’ Taliban to undermine US, NATO

Russia is trying to legitimize the Taliban in order to undermine the United States and NATO, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan said Thursday.

“The Russian involvement this year has become more difficult,” Gen. John Nicholson told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “First, they have begun to publicly legitimize the Taliban. This narrative that they promote is that the Taliban are fighting Islamic State and the Afghan government is not fighting Islamic State and that, therefore, there could be spillover of this group into the region. This is a false narrative.”

“I believe its intent is to undermine the United States and NATO,” he later added.

http://thehill.com/policy/defense/318741-top-commander-russia-legitimizing-taliban-to-undermine-us-nato

Turkey’s Erdoğan paves way for April vote on new sweeping powers

Referendum to be held after president approves bill on constitutional changes that could allow him to rule until 2029

Turkey’s president has approved a major constitutional reform bill granting him broad new powers under an executive presidential system, paving the way for a referendum on the bill on 16 April.

The 18-article bill was passed by parliament last month without garnering the two-thirds majority needed to become law.President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s approval allows the changes to go to a referendum in the deeply polarised country, which is still under emergency law.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/10/turkeys-president-erdogan-approves-constitutional-boost-to-his-powers

STR | AFP | Getty Images

China ‘beefing up military’ on disputed islands in the South China Sea, says US think tank

Kristin Huang

Satellite images suggest China has upgraded its military ­infrastructure in the disputed ­Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, ­according to a U.S. think tank.

The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington said on Wednesday that China now ­occupied 20 outposts in the ­Paracels, and that there had been an extensive military build-up on eight islands.

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/09/china-beefing-up-military-on-disputed-islands-in-the-south-china-sea-says-us-think-tank.html

But on Friday, the California-based chip maker GlobalFoundries announced a $10 billion project in China, showing how the center of gravity continues to shift across the Pacific.

The new advanced semiconductor factory, in the central Chinese city of Chengdu, is only the most recent in an array of investments, often by major multinationals, into China with the support of the Chinese government. The projects have become markedly more sophisticated, making more modern microchips, memory chips or flat-panel displays.

Italian businessman dumped North Korean nuclear waste in ocean near Taiwan

Environmental groups demand investigation

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – An Italian businessman dumped radioactive nuclear waste in the ocean near Taiwan in the 1990s, according to documents from an Italian intelligence service declassified Wednesday.

The information was contained in 61 documents from SISMI, an Italian military intelligence department, which were submitted to an Italian parliamentary investigation commission, according to the Italian media.

The reports named Giorgio Comerio as a businessman who made a fortune by sending ships loaded with nuclear and other dangerous materials to the bottom of the sea in the Mediterranean and near Somalia and Taiwan.

Comerio began collaborating closely with the government of North Korea around 1995, the documents said. In return for the payment of US$227 million (NT$7 billion), he disposed of 200,000 barrels of radioactive waste, whose final resting place must be the ocean near Taiwan, according to SISMI.

http://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3092135

Only 1 of Germany’s 8 Airbus A400M military planes ready for use – air force

Just one of Germany’s eight Airbus A400M military transport aircraft can be used at the moment, the country’s air force has said. The news comes after one of the planes broke down while the German defense minister was visiting Lithuania.

Recently, three planes – including the one in Lithuania – were out for unscheduled repairs, and two more were set to be checked, a spokesman for the German Air Force said, as cited by Reuters.

The spokesman added that a seventh plane was still undergoing the acceptance process following the arrival on January 31.

https://www.rt.com/news/376916-germany-airbus-military-plane/

Stealth, Super Bombs and Lasers: All of the Reason Iran Should Fear America’s Military

Should the U.S. have to resort to the military option against Iran’s nuclear program, the B-2 stealth bomber would figure prominently in the operations. One of Iran’s best defenses is its massive and unforgiving geography. The country is three times larger than Iraq and roughly equivalent to the size of all of Western Europe. Most of its major nuclear facilities, as well as some of its important military sites, are located deep inside the country. Some of these are also located near important cities, such as the Fordow nuclear enrichment plant that is located near the important religious city of Qom. This and four others, make up the weapons America would use to go to war against Iran. 

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/stealth-super-bombs-lasers-all-the-reason-iran-should-fear-19377

WHITE HOUSE PROBES LEAKS OF TRUMP’S CALLS WITH FOREIGN LEADERS

Saboteur from inner circle must be identifed ASAP

Officials in the White House are looking into leaks about President Donald Trump’s phone calls with foreign heads of state, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling them “very concerning.”

“We’re looking into the situation, yes, and it’s very concerning,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on Thursday as quoted by the Hill.

Spicer stressed that the way parts of the information are being revealed “is clearly a breach of a lot of protocols and laws.”

The spokesperson noted that Trump is worried by the leaks, adding that “the idea that you can’t have a conversation without that information getting out is concerning,” Spicer said.

http://www.infowars.com/white-house-probes-leaks-of-trumps-calls-with-foreign-leaders/

Kremlin says Turkey provided intel for “friendly fire” strikes

By Christian Lowe and Tulay Karadeniz | MOSCOW/ANKARA
The Kremlin and the Turkish military gave conflicting accounts on Friday of who was responsible for the accidental death of three Turkish soldiers in Russian air strikes in Syria.

The “friendly fire” incident occurred during an operation against Islamic State near the northern Syrian city of al-Bab on Thursday, highlighting the risk of unintended clashes between the numerous outside powers in a complex war. [nL5N1FU3WP]

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the air strikes had been launched based on coordinates provided to Russia by the Turkish military.

“Unfortunately, our military, while carrying out strikes on terrorists, was guided by coordinates given to them by our Turkish partners, and Turkish servicemen should not have been present on those coordinates,” he told a conference call with reporters.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-albab-kremlin-idUSKBN15P0ZI?il=0

Russia’s ‘Humpty Dumpty’ hackers: What were they trying to do?

Russian police have arrested members of a prominent group of hackers that leaked information about Russian officials and state ministries. BBC Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg meets a “Humpty Dumpty” member hiding out in Estonia who explains why the notorious group did what they did.

In a restaurant in the city of Tallinn, Alexander Glazastikov tells me how he got into the business of stealing and leaking information.

“I was bored with my job, I wanted to try something else. Something interesting.”

Along with former journalist Vladimir Anikeev, Glazastikov created “Anonymous International”. The group became known as “Shaltai Boltai” – the Russian name for “Humpty Dumpty”. Mr Anikeev is now under arrest in Moscow.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-38930627

Feds Bust Alleged Russian Bank Hacker in Los Angeles

Alexander Tverdokhlebov, whom authorities describe as an ‘extremely sophisticated and well-connected cybercriminal,’ allegedly stole cash from thousands of U.S. bank accounts.

KEVIN POULSEN

A federal investigation into a Russian cybercrime ring led Secret Service agents to the doorstep of a 29-year-old Los Angeles man the United States calls an “extremely sophisticated and well-connected cybercriminal” who allegedly used malware to steal cash from thousands of U.S. bank accounts.

Alexander Tverdokhlebov was arrested in an early-morning raid on Feb. 1 on a four-count wire fraud indictment alleging that he worked with a Russian colleague in 2009 and 2010 to attack U.S. financial institutions. He allegedly used a botnet of 10,000 hacked PCs.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/02/10/feds-bust-alleged-russian-bank-hacker-in-los-angeles.html

‘Paranoid Republicans’ are reportedly using an app that auto-deletes messages over hacking fears

In 2016, the emails of Democratic Party officials were hacked and leaked to Wikileaks — an incident that defined the US presidential election and helped Donald Trump achieve his shock victory over establishment favourite Hillary Clinton.

Republicans are now determined not to let the same happen to them.

Axios’ Jonathan Swan and David McAbe are reporting that some members of Trump’s administration and other senior Republican officials have taken up using Confide, a secrecy-focused messaging app backed by Google.

These days, plenty of apps — from iMessage to WhatsApp — offer end-to-end encryption to help protect users’ data from prying eyes. But Confide takes it a step further by deleting messages once they have been read, Snapchat-style, and makes it difficult to even screenshot them.

http://www.businessinsider.com/republicans-encrypted-ephemeral-messaging-app-confide-hacking-fears-gop-report-2017-2

Army drone that vanished on flight found stuck in a tree

An Army drone that disappeared on a training flight in southern Arizona turned up hundreds of miles away in Colorado, stuck in a tree, and the military is trying to figure out how it got there.

A hiker spotted the Shadow drone in the foothills west of Denver on Thursday, officials at Fort Huachuca in Arizona told the Colorado Springs Gazette.

The $1.5 million drone was missing a wing, The Associated Press reported. “An investigation into what happened is the next step,” Fort Huachuca spokeswoman Tanja Linton said.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/02/10/army-drone-that-vanished-on-flight-found-stuck-in-tree.html

The colonels shaping Trump’s Middle East policy

WASHINGTON — Underneath the drama and chaos of the Donald Trump White House — the rival power centers, combative press conferences mercilessly mocked on Saturday Night Live, leaked transcripts of Trump’s phone calls to allied leaders, and the often inflammatory tweeter-in-chief, fuming over the latest perceived insult while watching “Morning Joe” — a cadre of deeply serious, tested military intellectuals at the National Security Council is shaping Trump’s Middle East policies.

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/02/trump-white-house-nsc-colonels-middle-east-policy.html#ixzz4YJIBrsLL

Girl, 16, who planned to blow up a Jewish school in Denmark becomes the first female in the country’s history to be charged with terrorism

  • A 16-year-old girl has been charged with plotting to bomb schools in Denmark
  • She has become the first female in Danish history to be arrested for terrorism 
  • Prosecutors said she planned ‘to make bombs’ using Acetone peroxide (TATP) 
  • She had targeted a private Jewish school in Copenhagen and her own school

A 16-year-old girl has become the first female to be arrested on terrorism charges in Denmark’s history after she planned to bomb two schools, including her own.

Prosecutor Lise-Lotte Nilas says, the Danish student from the small town of Kundby, is accused of ‘having made preparations to make bombs’ using the explosive known as TATP.

She had targeted a private Jewish school in Copenhagen and the school she attened, Sydskolen, in the town of Fårevejle.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4212712/Teenager-female-country-s-history-terrorism.html#ixzz4YJLWlvRk

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

February 4, 2017

ISIS’ threat to Britain is reaching new high, says London mayor as he warns that police cuts could cost lives

  • Sadiq Khan says terror threat has risen since he became Mayor last year
  • Mayor tells MailOnline that keeping people safe is ‘increasingly difficult’
  • Urges government not to cut police funding and criticises Trump’s travel ban 

The terror threat from ISIS is reaching new highs and cutting police budgets could cost lives, Sadiq Khan has warned.

The London Mayor said the danger of attacks in the capital had risen since he entered city hall last May and keeping people safe was becoming ‘increasingly difficult’.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4187364/ISIS-threat-Britain-reaching-new-high-says-Sadiq-Khan.html#ixzz4XjDEvWgF

 

Terror target May Force One: Stunning security lapse as PM’s flights are left visible on a website tracker

  • Astonishing security lapse makes PM a ‘flying target’ on Flightradar24 website
  • Blunder means terrorists could see the direction and speed of ‘May Force One’
  • Compromising info was broadcast live as May flew into terror hotspot Turkey
  • Intelligence experts say the lapse is ‘beyond absurd’ and ‘extremely dangerous’

Terrorists can follow every movement of the Prime Minister’s official aircraft live by using a mobile phone app, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

The astonishing security lapse made Theresa May ‘a flying target’ as she arrived in the terror hotspot of Turkey from Washington last week, experts warned.

The exact location of the aircraft, dubbed ‘May Force One’ – along with its height, direction and speed – was broadcast online as it came into land in Ankara, the site of repeated terrorist attacks.

Security experts said the lapse made Theresa May’s RAF Voyager ‘a flying target’ as she flew from Washington to Turkey last week

Last night, experts called for the transponder – the on-board device that broadcasts its location – to be switched off, as is the case with the US President’s Air Force One jet.

Chris Phillips, the former head of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office, said: ‘This is perfect information for a would-be terrorist. They should have turned off the tracker on the plane. It is ridiculous and irresponsible that this information is publicly available.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4192126/Security-lapse-leaves-s-plane-terror-target.html#ixzz4XmFT9C2m

Two Arrested in UK for Hacking DC CCTV Cameras Before Trump Inauguration

National Crime Agency has arrested a Swedish woman and a British man for hacking CCTV Cameras with ransomware malware.

Pictured: Louvre suspect who ‘posted pro-ISIS messages on Twitter moments before he attacked four soldiers outside Paris art gallery’

  • A man armed with a machete was shot five times in the stomach after attempting to storm the museum
  • Police chief said the attacker was shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ before being gunned down
  • The suspect has been named as Abdallah El Hamahmy, a 29 year old Egyptian national 
  • French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has described the attack as ‘terrorist in nature’
  • Sources say the man’s condition has stabilised overnight
  • The Louvre reopened this morning, with armed soldiers in uniform doing high visibility patrols 
Investigators believe 29-year-old Egyptian national Abdallah El Hamahmy is the man shot five times outside the Louvre yesterday

Investigators believe 29-year-old Egyptian national Abdallah El Hamahmy is the man shot five times outside the Louvre yesterday

A man suspected of attacking four soldiers outside the Louvre in Paris posted pro-ISIS tweets moments before it happened yesterday morning, French investigators believe.

Detectives are probing the Twitter account of Egyptian national  Abdallah El Hamahmy, who is believed to have arrived in France eight days before the attack.

Iran holds military exercise in defiance of US sanctions

Dec. 29, 2016, photo, released by the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), shows long-range S-200 missile fired in a military drill in the port city of Bushehr, on the northern coast of Persian Gulf, Iran.

Dec. 29, 2016, photo, released by the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), shows long-range S-200 missile fired in a military drill in the port city of Bushehr, on the northern coast of Persian Gulf, Iran.  (Amir Kholousi, ISNA via AP)

 

In apparent defiance of the new sanctions imposed by the Trump administration, Iran held a military exercise Saturday to test missile and radar systems.

The aim of the exercise, held in Semnan province, was to “showcase the power of Iran’s revolution and to dismiss the sanctions,” Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards website said, according to Reuters.

During the exercise, a senior commander of Iran’s Revolution Guard said the country’s missiles will come down on the country’s enemies if they do wrong.

“If the enemy does not walk the line, our missiles come down on them,” Gen. Amir Ali Haijazadeh said.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/02/04/iran-holds-military-exercise-in-defiance-us-sanctions.html

German magazine sparks furor with image of Trump beheading Statue of Liberty

German weekly magazine Der Spiegel sparked controversy at home and abroad on Saturday with a front cover illustration of U.S. President Donald Trump beheading the Statue of Liberty.

It depicts a cartoon figure of Trump with a bloodied knife in one hand and the statue’s head, dripping with blood, in the other. It carries the caption: “America First”.

The artist who designed the cover, Edel Rodriguez, a Cuban who came to the United States in 1980 as a political refugee, told The Washington Post: “It’s a beheading of democracy, a beheading of a sacred symbol.”

The cover set off a debate on Twitter and in German and international media, with Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a member of Germany’s Free Democrats (FDP) and vice president of the European Parliament, describing it as “tasteless”.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-germany-spiegel-idUSKBN15J0EU

Judge Breaks Precedent, Orders Google to Give Foreign Emails to FBI

A potentially major blow for privacy advocates occurred on Friday when a U.S. magistrate ruled against Google and ordered it to cooperate with FBI search warrants demanding access to user emails that are stored on servers outside of the United States. The case is certain to spark a fight, because an appeals court ruled in favor of Microsoft in a similar case recently.

According to Reuters:

U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Rueter in Philadelphia ruled on Friday that transferring emails from a foreign server so FBI agents could review them locally as part of a domestic fraud probe did not qualify as a seizure.

The judge said this was because there was “no meaningful interference” with the account holder’s “possessory interest” in the data sought.

http://gizmodo.com/judge-breaks-precedent-orders-google-to-give-foreign-e-1792003911

Petraeus: ‘Moral Obligation’ to Allow Iraqi, Afghan Translators Into U.S.

Former CIA head commends Mattis for working on exemptions from Trump immigration order

Retired Gen. David Petraeus said Friday that the United States has a “moral obligation” to provide local translators who have aided the U.S. military abroad a path to the United States.

“There is an implicit moral obligation to those who share risk,” Petraeus, a former CIA director, said at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. on Friday afternoon. “It’s very important for the future as well.”

Petraeus made the remarks on the Special Immigrant Visa program for local translators in Iraq and Afghanistan who have aided the U.S. military amidst backlash over President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/petraeus-moral-obligation-allow-iraqi-afghan-translators-u-s/

Car blast in E. Ukraine kills militia commander, Lugansk blames Kiev’s ‘hit squad’

Car blast in E. Ukraine kills militia commander, Lugansk blames Kiev’s ‘hit squad’
Two people, including the chief of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) Militia Office, were killed in a car blast in the republic’s capital, Lugansk. The Lugansk People’s Militia says the blast was a terrorist attack carried out by Kiev’s secret services.

“Presumably, the terror attack was committed by Ukrainian special services aiming to destabilize the situation in the republic [of Lugansk],” Marochko added.

https://www.rt.com/news/376294-lugansk-blast-anashchenko-terror/

Russia and India’s Supersonic BrahMos Cruise Missile: Heading to Submarines and Stealth Fighters?

Russia and India are developing a new version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile that could be launched from submarines and the Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA fifth-generation stealth fighter.

The new variant—which is considerably smaller than the original BrahMos—would be light enough to be carried even on relatively diminutive Mikoyan MiG-35 Fulcrum-F.

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/russia-indias-supersonic-brahmos-cruise-missile-heading-19307

BLOW UP DOLLS

Terrorists strapped grenades to children’s toys in Syria in sickening act of desperation before Aleppo was overrun by government troops

Jihaidis booby-trapped dolls and left them at a wrecked school to be found by soldiers or kids

TERRORISTS in eastern Aleppo stitched grenades to children’s dolls in the final days before the city was wrenched back into Syrian government control.

Dozens of booby-trapped toys have been found under the wreckage of the one of the city’s buildings — levelled by Russian warplanes and troops loyal to dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Terrorists in Aleppo wired up grenades to children’s dolls

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2783916/syria-aleppo-dolls-bombs-assad/

Senior Islamic State leader ANNIHILATED during devastating airstrike in Iraq

A SENIOR Islamic State jihadi has been wiped out after a devastating airstrike in eastern Iraq.

ISISNC•GETTY

An ISIS senior leader has been wiped out

The depraved killer, nicknamed Abu Suhaib, was obliterated in the strike which targeted the region of Mutaibija as two of his sick associates were also injured in the blast – according to local sources.

Sahib is said to be the son-in-law of the terror cell’s “emir” or governor of the Hawi al-Udhaim region in Iraq.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/763016/Islamic-State-ISIS-Daesh-leader-Abu-Suhaib-killed-airstrike-Iraq-Mutaibija-death-Mosul

Mattis: Iran the ‘biggest state sponsor of terrorism’

Defense Secretary James Mattis slams Tehran hours after the Trump administration announces fresh sanctions.

Iran has confirmed that it tested a medium-range ballistic missile last week [File: Mostafa Qotbi/IRNA/AP]
Iran has confirmed that it tested a medium-range ballistic missile last week [File: Mostafa Qotbi/IRNA/AP]

US Defense Secretary James Mattis has called Iran the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism, hours after the Trump administration announced fresh sanctions on the country following a recent missile test.

“As far as Iran goes, this is the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world,” Mattis told reporters in Tokyo on Friday, before adding that he saw no need to increase troop numbers in the Middle East in response.

“I don’t see any need to increase the number of forces we have in the Middle East at this time. That’s not in the cards right now,” he said.”We always have the capability to do so. But right now I don’t think it’s necessary.”

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/02/mattis-iran-biggest-state-sponsor-terrorism-170204065048014.html

 

Disaster medicine scientist sentenced to death in Iran

A researcher studying disaster medicine at two European institutes has been sentenced to death in Iran, apparently for security-related offenses. Iranian-born Ahmadreza Djalali, a scientist at the Research Center in Emergency and Disaster Medicine (CRIMEDIN) at the University of Eastern Piedmont in Novara, Italy, and the Free University Brussels (VUB), was arrested more than 9 months ago on still-unknown charges and has been imprisoned in Iran since then, most of the time in solitary confinement and without access to a lawyer.

VUB announced the sentence in a statement on its website today. Colleagues, convinced of Djalali’s innocence, say they are trying everything they can to prevent his execution. A petitionset up by Hakan Altintas, a supporter in Turkey, asks the Iranian government to let Djalali come home; friends and colleagues are also raising awareness about his case on a Facebook page.

“Ahmadreza is passionate about science,” says Ives Hubloue, the head of VUB’s Research Group on Emergency and Disaster Medicine. “He’s not interested in politics. We don’t believe he would do anything at all” to undermine the Iranian government.

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/02/disaster-medicine-scientist-sentenced-death-iran

Raqqa Liberation Op Doomed Without Kurds – Iraqi Kurdistan Government

The operation to recapture the Syrian city of Raqqa from the Islamic State terror group will be doomed if the Kurdish forces lose the possibility to take part in it, the representative of the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government in Russia told Sputnik.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Thursday, The Washington Post reported, citing sources, that the Trump administration dropped plans by former President Barack Obama to arm Kurdish fighters in northern Syria in a push to recapture the city of Raqqa from Daesh.

“I have not been informed yet on this decision, if it really was taken. These could be just statements from some individuals, not an official decision. But if this is true, if the Kurds do not take part in Raqqa liberation any longer, it will be much harder to complete the liberation operation. The Kurds are now the main force,” Aso Jangi Talabani said.

He added that a few days ago the Kurdish fighters helped to liberate several villages in the direction of Raqqa.

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201702041050332837-raqqa-op-doomed/

Japan readies package for Trump to help create 700,000 U.S. jobs

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attending a budget committee session of the House of Councillors in Tokyo on May 13, 2016.

KAZUHIRO NOGI | AFP | Getty Images
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attending a budget committee session of the House of Councillors in Tokyo on May 13, 2016.

Japan is putting together a package it says could generate 700,000 U.S. jobs and help create a $450-billion market, to present to U.S. President Donald Trump next week, government sources familiar with the plans said.

The five-part package, to be unveiled when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits Trump on Feb. 10 in Washington, envisage investments in infrastructure projects such as high-speed trains and cybersecurity, said the sources, who declined to be identified as they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Investing in overseas infrastructure projects dovetails with a key plank in Abe’s growth strategy, which is to export “high-quality” infrastructure technology.

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/03/abe-says-japan-to-show-unwavering-alliance-with-us-under-trump.html

Gmail will stop working on Chrome for XP and Vista this year

Older Chrome versions will redirect to Gmail’s basic HTML website by December.
If it’s been some time since you’ve updated your Chrome browser, you might see a banner at the top of Gmail’s interface on February 8th. It’ll contain a reminder to update to Chrome version 55 from 53 and below, since the newer iteration comes with several big security updates. That banner will go away after you update — unless you’re still using Windows XP or Vista. Google stopped releasing Chrome updates for those two after version 49, since Microsoft no longer supports its older Windows platforms.

So, what will happen if you don’t — or can’t — update Chrome? Well, Gmail will work like usual throughout 2017. Sometime in December, though, you’ll start being redirected to the basic HTML version of the email service and will be more vulnerable to security risks. Google says the best thing you can do is upgrade and ditch XP or Vista ASAP.

https://www.engadget.com/2017/02/04/gmail-chrome-xp-vista/

South Korea’s presidential Blue House blocks search amid graft probe

By Ju-min Park and Christine Kim | SEOUL

South Korean special prosecutor officials withdrew from the presidential Blue House on Friday after it blocked them from searching offices there, in the latest twist in a corruption scandal that has gripped the country for months.

Park was impeached by parliament on Dec. 9 on suspicion of colluding with a long-time friend, Choi Soon-sil, to pressure big business to donate to two foundations set up to back the president’s policy initiatives.

Park is also accused of allowing Choi to exert inappropriate influence over state affairs. Both of them have denied wrongdoing.

The special prosecution office has not explained why it needs to search the Blue House, saying only that it would be done in connection with its investigation.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-politics-idUSKBN15I043

THE BUZZ

China and North Korea’s Greatest Fear: Japan Armed with Lots of Nuclear Weapons

Japan could invest in a small arsenal of land-based missiles, each carrying one or more nuclear warheads. The missiles could be stationed in hardened silos, like the American Minuteman III, or on mobile launchers like the Russian RS-24 Yars. A Japanese ICBM would be smaller, not needing the range and fuel to reach North America. The ability to reach all of China, European Russia and the Middle East would be sufficient.

It is perhaps China’s greatest nightmare: a nuclear-armed Japan. Permanently anchored off the Asian mainland, bristling with nuclear weapons, a nuclear Japan would make China’s security situation much more complex than it is now, and force China to revise both its nuclear doctrine and increase its nuclear arsenal.

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/china-north-koreas-greatest-fear-japan-armed-lots-nuclear-19304

Taiwanese diagnosed with H7N9 after China trip

CDC is looking for 108 people who came into contact with patient

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January 22, 2017

  • PM says focus of her meeting with Trump in Washington on Friday will be Nato, Russia and trade  
  • ‘Special relationship enables us to say when we think things are unacceptable’
  • May will be first world leader to meet President Trump in the White House
  • Trump calls her ‘my new Maggie’ and he returned Churchill bust to Oval Office
  • May says she looks forward to welcoming Trump to Britain ‘sometime this year’

Theresa May has confirmed she will meet new US President Donald Trump for talks at the White House on Friday.

In a major victory for No 10 she will be the first world leader to visit President Trump in the White House and they will meet less than a week after his inauguration.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4144850/Theresa-confirms-ll-meet-Donald-Trump-Friday.html#ixzz4WV1WJejq

Number 10 ‘cover up’ of botched Trident missile test was ‘stupid’ and makes us look like North Korea, ex-navy chief blasts as Theresa May refuses FOUR TIMES to say if she knew of failed test

  • Missile was fired from HMS Vengeance during test in June near coast of Florida
  • Reported malfunction took place just before vote on renewing Trident
  • Theresa May was accused of omitting any reference to the failed test 

A major malfunction in the UK's Trident nuclear missile deterrent was covered up by Downing Street, it was claimed last night 

A major malfunction in the UK’s Trident nuclear missile deterrent was covered up by Downing Street, it was claimed last night

The former head of the Royal Navy blasted No10 today over its ‘bizarre and stupid’ decision to ‘cover up’ a major malfunction in the UK’s Trident nuclear missile deterrent and said it made Britain look like North Korea.

It was claimed last night that Downing Street imposed a ‘news blackout’ about the failed test just weeks before a crucial Commons vote on the future of Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

Today Theresa May refused four times to say if she knew about a major malfunction in the UK’s Trident nuclear missile deterrent.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4144200/Trident-fiasco-covered-No10.html#ixzz4WV26YM9k

Yemeni officials say suspected US drone strike kills 3 alleged Al Qaeda operatives

They say the two Saturday strikes killed Abu Anis al-Abi, an area field commander, and two others. They spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release the information.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/01/22/yemeni-officials-say-suspected-us-drone-strike-kills-3-alleged-al-qaeda-operatives.html

US Army selects replacement to iconic M9 pistol after 30 years of service

US Army selects replacement to iconic M9 pistol after 30 years of service
The US Army has selected the Swiss-designed Sig Sauer P320 to replace the iconic M9 Beretta, the Army’s pistol of choice for more than three decades. The P320’s size and caliber can be configured by the shooter without tools, the Army says.

A $580 million fixed-price contract for the so-called Modular Handgun System including handgun, accessories, and ammunition to replace the current M9 standard service pistol of the US Army has been awarded to Sig Sauer, a Swiss firearms manufacturer, the Pentagon said in a statement.

The announcement comes following the US Army’s search for a new handgun. The Beretta M9, the current sidearm, officially entered service with the US military in 1990, beating out many contenders. However, reliability issues, design flaws, and concerns over low stopping power began emerging with time.

https://www.rt.com/usa/374620-us-army-new-sidearm/

Moscow acts to oust Iran from Syria, bombs ISIS

For Putin, the injection of Hizballah into a major Syrian battle came at an awkward moment in terms of his diplomatic strategy on the eve of the Syrian peace conference that opens in Astana, Kazakhstan, Sunday, Jan. 23, under his joint sponsorship with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

The Russian leader had already given his co-sponsor a commitment to initiate a resolution at Astana demanding the withdrawal of all pro-Iranian militias from Syria, including Hizballah. This aimed at pacifying Syrian opposition groups but was also meant to demonstrate to President Trump that Moscow would be a strong partner in the war on ISIS while also ready to clip Iran’s wings and influence in the affairs of Syria and Lebanon.

At the same time, Russian war strategists appreciate the urgency of averting the fall of Deir ez-our and its air base to the Islamists. This catastrophe would negatively impact the entire campaign against the terrorist organization on its three main fronts, Mosul, Raqqa and Palmyra, and count as ISIS’ biggest victory in the past year.

https://www.debka.com/article/25897/Moscow-acts-to-oust-Iran-from-Syria-bombs-ISIS

China warns Japan against interfering in Taiwan affairs

China has warned Japan against interfering in Taiwan’s affairs following a media report saying Tokyo’s armed forces plan a tabletop exercise this week on the assumption that there will be a military clash between the Chinese mainland and the self-ruled island.

“The Taiwan issue is internal affairs of China. We hope the Japanese side will speak and act cautiously,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a press briefing, when asked about the Kyodo News report, adding that Tokyo should not take any action that would undermine peace and stability in the region.

The report, released on Jan 18, said Japan’s Self-Defense Forces will conduct the simulated exercise from Monday to Friday, with the U.S. military taking part in it as an observer.

https://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/china-warns-japan-against-interfering-in-taiwan-affairs

 

Taiwan expected to complete F-16 upgrades within six years: AIDC

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan’s state-owned Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. (AIDC) said it has begun an upgrade of the country’s fleet of U.S.-manufactured F-16 fighter jets and that the work is expected to be completed within six years.

The first batch of four F-16s is being upgraded at the AIDC’s plant, said the company, adding that a new hangar will be launched soon to facilitate the retrofit program.

In order to carry out the program locally, the manufacturer of the jets — Lockheed Martin in the United States — sent its engineers to Taiwan last year and helped train local personnel at the AIDC on how to perform the upgrades to improve the aircraft’s combat capability.

According to the AIDC, the retrofit program will include installing advanced equipment on the fighters, including the AN/APG active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system, currently used in the U.S. F-22 and F-35 fighter aircraft. The Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System and the short-range air-to-air missile AIM-9 Sidewinder will also be installed.

http://www.chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/national/national-news/2017/01/21/490036/Taiwan-expected.htm

China party paper says no ‘provocation’ can stop its military drills

China’s military will carry out drills regardless of foreign provocations and pressure, the Communist Party’s paper said on Sunday, adding that exercises far out at sea like those conducted recently by its sole aircraft carrier will become normal.

China caused unease among some countries in the region last month when the carrier the Liaoning, accompanied by several warships, cruised around self-ruled Taiwan and into the Pacific for what China called routine drills.

Earlier this month, Taiwan scrambled fighter jets and navy ships as the Liaoning then passed through the narrow waterway separating China from the island Beijing claims as its own.For its part, China was alarmed this month when U.S. President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state Rex Tillerson said China should be denied access to islands it has built in the contested South China Sea.

The People’s Daily said no amount of “word bombs”, such as Tillerson’s South China Sea remarks, could stop China’s military drills.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-defence-idUSKBN15602H

China commissions 31st stealth warship

Chinese media have said the U.S. has to wage a war with China if America blocks it from accessing the artificial islands it has built in the contested South China Sea.

Rapidly expanding its naval fleet, China has commissioned its 31st stealth warship as it got its battle group under its first aircraft carrier ready amid tensions with the U.S. and other nations over its assertiveness in the disputed South China Sea.

The People’s Liberation Army Navy has commissioned its 31st Type—056 class corvette, marking a new addition to the world’s largest fleet of modern corvettes, official media reported.

With a maximum speed of 52 km/h, the ship features good manoeuvrability, a high-level of automation and stealth capability, and is capable of hitting aircraft, ships and submarines, the PLA Daily, the official organ of the Chinese military said.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/China-commissions-31st-stealth-warship/article17077870.ece

Italian brother and sister arrested over cyber espionage operation which tapped emails of ex-prime ministers and Vatican cardinals

Francesca Maria Occhionero is accused of hacking into thousands of email accounts along with her brother, a nuclear engineer.
Francesca Maria Occhionero is accused of hacking into thousands of email accounts along with her brother, a nuclear engineer. CREDIT: FACEBOOK

An Italian nuclear engineer and his sister have been arrested by police on charges of conducting a massive cyber-espionage operation that hacked into the emails of two former prime ministers, Vatican cardinals and Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank.

Giulio Occhionero, 45, and his sister Francesca Maria Occhionero, 48, who have residency in the UK but are believed to have been most recently living in Italy, were arrested on charges of stealing state secrets and illegal hacking.

Mr Occhionero, who investigators said had strong links to the Masonic movement, allegedly developed software that infected email accounts, enabling him to access the information.

He called the “malware” or computer virus “Eye Pyramid” – an apparent reference to the all-seeing eye of God, or Eye of Providence, a symbol often associated with Freemasonry that appears on the US one dollar bill.  The name of the software may also have been a play on his own surname – Occhionero means “black eye” in Italian.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/10/italian-brother-sister-arrested-cyber-espionage-operation-tapped/

Greece sells its national railway operator to Italy

Greece’s national rail company TrainOSE has been sold to Italy’s state railway group Ferrovie dello Stato (FS) for €45 million ($48.1 million).

The sale is part of Greece’s €86 billion bailout agreed with international creditors two years ago. The privatization of state assets is a condition of the bailout deal though it contradicts Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ pre-election promise not to privatize the country’s infrastructure.

Athens has agreed to sell the rail operator and other state assets aiming to earn €5.8 billion by 2018.

According to FS Chief Executive Renato Mazzoncini, the acquisition of TrainOSE is “an opportunity for growth and improvement both for FS which carries on its international development and for the Greek railways which will be able to take advantage of FS’s know-how and experience.”

https://www.rt.com/business/374104-greece-rail-company-sale/

Many Arrested Inauguration Day Protesters Will Face Felony Rioting Charges, Prosecutors Say

WASHINGTON (CBSNEWS/AP) – Most of the approximately 230 protesters arrested on Inauguration Day will be charged with felony rioting, federal prosecutors said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The office said most of those arrested will be released without having to post bail and must return to court in February.

A first group of 10 men appeared in Superior Court just before 3 p.m., and their lawyer entered a not guilty plea on their behalf. A judge released all of them on the condition they not get re-arrested in the District of Columbia.

Interim D.C. police chief Peter Newsham said Friday that 217 people were being charged with rioting.

Many Arrested Inauguration Day Protesters Will Face Felony Rioting Charges, Prosecutors Say

 

 

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The Real Cybercrime

by Stephen Bryen

[A version of this article appeared in the Huffington Post with Rebecca Abrahams]

It now seems that the Office of Personnel Management, which had outsourced its data storage to other Federal agencies, has lost an astonishing 18 million personnel records, including most of those involving security clearances.  The information is now in the hands of unknown hackers who almost certainly have bartered the stolen information to willing buyers.  Most experts think that the buyer is most likely China, with Russia running a close second.

When a prospective employee applies for a job that requires a security clearance he or she fills out a form called an SF-86 which is called a Questionnaire for National Security Positions. The Questionnaire is extensive and demanding and requires so much information to be handed over to the government that there is virtually nothing left one could dream of adding to it.  Your friends, colleagues, bosses, neighbors are all included along with all your personal information. In the wrong hands this document at minimum guarantees easy identity theft. Worse, in the hands of a determined adversary, a person’s vulnerabilities can be exploited including tracking the employee and making sophisticated “phishing” operations possible.  Phishing is a technique where a false email or message can be sent to an employee that, when opened, puts spyware on the employee’s computer.

You would think given the explosive importance of the SF-86 form that the government would take strong steps to protect the information.  Perish the thought.  Nothing like that has been done: in fact, the government passes around these forms to other agencies (such as the FBI) and gives them to contractors for “processing.”

Our government has consistently failed at computer security from the beginning. The first Computer Security Act was passed in 1988, and there have been many subsequent legislative initiatives since then along with Executive Orders and pronouncements from agencies including NSA and the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST), the latest one just this week.

None of them understand the problem or demonstrate any real willingness to solve it.  All of them have the wrong cart in front of the wrong horse.

The truth is that unless special steps are taken to protect sensitive unclassified information the game is lost from the start.

What are those steps?  Most fundamentally there are two: compartmenting information and encrypting it.   For unclassified information which is what the SF-86 is considered to be, the government neither compartments nor encrypts. NSA won’t let them because the information is not classified: our government security experts keep thinking they can do it another way.  No they can’t.

NIST has just put out a new directive for contractors.  It is worthless.  Why?  Because it does not require either compartmentalization or encryption.

Compartmentalization means that not everyone can access everything.  It is as simple as that.  It can be made weightier by adding a “need to know” requirement, meaning that you are only entitled to look at what is absolutely necessary for your job.  Properly administered need to know and compartmentalization protects any major theft of information particularly if the data itself is stored in an encrypted format.

081203-N-2147L-390 NORFOLK, Va. (Dec. 3, 2008) Sailors on the watch-floor of the Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command monitor, analyze, detect and defensively respond to unauthorized activity within U.S. Navy information systems and computer networks. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Corey Lewis/Released)

081203-N-2147L-390
NORFOLK, Va. (Dec. 3, 2008) Sailors on the watch-floor of the Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command monitor, analyze, detect and defensively respond to unauthorized activity within U.S. Navy information systems and computer networks. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Corey Lewis/Released)

The real crime is the failure of both the administration and the Congress to put in place a higher standard of information protection applying these known and effective tools.  While everyone is running around thinking about firing the head of the Office of Personnel Management, perhaps they should think about firing themselves for the crimes against privacy they have perpetrated.

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Is Hollywood Going Back to Flip Phones?

Hollywood stars, producers and writers are so worried by hacks at Sony and the compromise of “selfie” nude photos, many are saying they are going back to Flip Phones to protect themselves.  Are Flip Phones safer than today’s smartphones?
 
A Flip Phone is called a “Feature Phone” in the trade.  It is not a “smart” phone, but it can do some of the things a smartphone can do.  For example a typical Flip Phone can receive email, SMS (text) messages, send photos, keep a calendar and use Bluetooth.  The big difference is in the Operating System and the fact that Feature Phones typically don’t use high speed data connections such as 3G or 4G or WiFi.
 
Feature Phones also don’t have operating systems like iPhone, Android or Windows, although some of them might have cut down versions of these systems. Mostly they have semi-programmable software sets that support the phone’s functions.  
 
But Flip Phones are certainly not “safer” than smartphones.
 
For example, Flip Phones have GPS chips and your location can be tracked on a Flip just as well as you can be tracked on a smartphone.
 
And SMS, Email and pictures can be easily intercepted by government organizations as well as by hackers.
 
There is even pretty good spyware that can be installed on some Flip Phones.
 
What Feature Phones or Flips generally don’t have is much access to social media such as Facebook which needs a data connection. Nor can you use programs like Skype for communications.  But you can access the Internet, although the connection is very slow.
 
If the Hollywood types can live without high quality nudie photos and the social media, maybe the Flip Phone will work for them. But it won’t make them much more secure.
 
Just like smartphones, communications on a Flip or Feature Phone are just as vulnerable to intercept as they are on a smartphone.  In fact, maybe even more so because you can’t put your own encryption on a Flip or Feature Phone and many Flip Phones have only rudimentary scrambling that can easily be turned off by any hacker.
 
The truth is there is neither much protection nor much future in Flip Phones, which is why they are increasingly losing market share.
 
The big problem for everyone is that as far as smartphones and Flip Phones are concerned is that we are living in the “wild West” in the sense that there are few security standards, lots of spaghetti code, too much foreign manufacturing and tampering, and a home government that exploits all these vulnerabilities meaning that our government is compromised and won’t do much to help the average citizen, or even the above average citizen (assuming such a citizen exists).  This leaves American business at risk and it violates most of the freedoms we are supposed to enjoy. Folks in Hollywood are rightfully offended, but the big picture is even more challenging.
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Time to Dump Microsoft and Google

by Stephen Bryen

It is time for the US government, critical infrastructure components, the military and important businesses to dump Microsoft and Google.  The products of these two companies, and many others, built primarily for entertainment have no place in sensitive government and business operations.  All of them represent a time bomb whose chain reaction has already started. The constant hacking and intrusion of these systems is robbing the American taxpayer blind and undermining national security.

Our government has long been two-faced about the vulnerabilities of popular operating systems, open source software and the total lack of security that dominates America’s software industry.  That’s because NSA and other intelligence organizations in the US government take advantage of the stunning weakness of these platforms for spying. So, while the government opines about hacking and foreign governments, it is busily at work spending billions of dollars to spy on anyone and everything.

I am not at all against government spying.  It keeps me and my family safe.  It is important and if we decide to curtail it we may pay too high a price enabling terrorists and foreign regimes to bring harm to our country.

My problem is that the two faced approach has blocked any chance to put real security in place for critical computer networks providing essential services, and it has left our military vulnerable to hacking.  Today we know that our energy companies, banks, transportation systems, even our health care delivery has been heavily assaulted from within and without, by foreign and domestic hackers.  Key defense programs have been compromised and billions of dollars worth of data stolen. Important stealth combat systems have been stolen.

America is a rich country, one of the richest in the world. But can we afford the losses we are taking?  Because of the two faced approach, we do not have accurate reporting on how much has gone out the window, but it is a lot. Our government will not own up to the true danger so long as its spying trumps security at home.

Risks are multiplied by the fact that almost all our computer hardware comes from China.  Certainly American companies make some of it although production is abroad, but none of that really matters.  The opportunity to slip micro code into mobile phone and computer platforms is there and plain to see.  But our government offers no guidance on this sore subject, and in fact continually encourages production outside our borders.

Surely at some point in the not so near future tragedy will strike.  Someone will penetrate a nuclear power plant and generate a Three Mile Island type disaster; or Amtrak will end up with trains on the same track heading in opposite directions; or the power grid will go out as it did on overload in 2003; or Air Force One’s elaborate systems could cause a crash landing.  There are plenty more dire scenarios.

The Chinese have got sick and tired of NSA and GCHQ. Thus China is investing in new hardware for its government and military systems and a Chinese operating system without Google and Microsoft.  In a few years China will be better protected than America.  Maybe we should pay attention.  What the Chinese are doing is not just a curiosity.  It is a serious investment that may give them more secure systems than we have.

We waste billions each year trying to graft security onto open, public computer systems and networks that were never build to be secure. Thousands of software engineers from all over the world work for America’s software companies.  Computer technology has become so globalized that trying to manage production and keep any semblance of security is strictly impossible.  Recent bugs found in open source software widely used in all computer systems came from Germany.  It could just as well come from France, the UK, India, Israel, Singapore or China. It seems everyone is playing in this field and these is zero auditing of the final products.  The rush is to get to market.  It can be patched later!  But as we know, once a vulnerability is introduced, it lives on.  The myriad systems that use these products can’t possibly track the known bugs; and the unknown holes in the system rise to the surface at an increasingly fast tempo.

No one can, or needs to, fix the globalized software and hardware industry.  What is needed is a trusted solution that is available only to qualified government, military and critical industries that is build on rigorous, tested security standards and on hardware that is strictly controlled in the United States.  Building a secure system is costly, but the investment is far less than what is going out the window today and certainly less than the risk exposure we currently have.

Some would say that a trusted solution will not stay up with the times and will become a costly and useless artifact.  There are two answers to this complaint.  A security system has a limited purpose and is not like commercial systems with features more geared to entertainment than productivity. Moreover, a security based system should not be divorced from the real world. If important communications, processing or data management solutions are important and attractive, nothing would prevent these from being adapted to a security-based system.

I am far from optimistic our government will throw out Microsoft and Google and all the Chinese hardware it has bought. But without a new way of protecting ourselves we will pay dearly for our government’s short sighted approach to protecting its citizens.

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Hacking Back and the Cyber Balance of Power

The Washington Post carried a front page article on October 10th “Hacked Firms Quietly Talk about Fighting Fire with Fire”  about growing corporate anger over successive cyber attacks.  The new theme: go on the offensive.  Hack back!

They are not alone.  The Pentagon has set up a secretive unit called Plan X which is supposed to fight back against hacking. Its “rules of engagement” are classified, and nobody really knows if Plan X is operational or pie in the sky.

But how would “hacking back” work?  The corporate approach, as reported in the Post, seems to be that one can attack the hackers, send them bogus information, as a way of closing them down.  Would this work?

Most of the really bad hacking, attacks on government computers and networks and on America’s critical infrastructure is foreign government sponsored.  The latest banking attacks are thought to be Russian-sponsored, Putin’s reaction to American-led sanctions because of the Ukraine crisis.   And the Senate Armed Services Committee has found that American defense companies are being systematically looted by China through cyber espionage.

Well-financed foreign governments do not directly launch attacks on American companies or our government and military. They would be foolish to do so, especially since they have plenty of other options.  The Russians and Chinese have cadres of hackers who can operate on their behalf.  Occasionally these state-sponsored “independent” hackers make a few extra dollars by stealing credit cards and emptying bank accounts.  Sure you can hack them back, but they will just get another computer and do it again.  Living abroad they are beyond American law enforcement.  The FBI may want to investigate; one can expect few results.

Then there is the problem of recognizing that a hack has occurred.  A study by Verizon which was done with the cooperation of many businesses, security firms and government experts points out that it often takes a long time to uncover an intrusion. If you don’t know you have been ripped off you may in the end find your coffers empty when it is too late.

The level of angst circulating in business and government circles caused by huge financial losses from cyber intrusions (one study says $300 billion per year goes out America’s cyber “pipeline”) suggests we are rapidly reaching a tipping point. The security model we are trying to apply is a failure.

In fact as I have pointed out elsewhere, the security model we have cannot work for the simple reason that it is impossible to protect computer networks when the networks, fixed and mobile platforms, and transmission equipment are composed of open-source computer code and foreign sourced hardware, predominantly manufactured in China.  The time has come for the government to realize we cannot protect America’s resources or critical systems such as telecommunications, energy, health care and banking if they are running on foreign produced equipment and globalized software.

And there is more.

It makes no sense to go after hackers who are employed by foreign governments.  If we want to be serious when our banks are attacked or our nuclear power plants are damaged we have to respond in kind.  This is the ancient rule of warfare. We need to establish a cyber balance of power.  To do so, we have to act like a grown up superpower that is no longer willing to be picked on by hackers and intruders ad nauseam.  It is doubtful the Pentagon’s Plan X rules of engagement allow it to attack the other guy’s critical infrastructure, but maybe they should. If the White House is timid maybe Congress can put some backbone into our leadership.

Successive administrations have kicked the ball down the hall on cyber security.  Leaders have bought into the idea that there is some nice solution just around the corner and all we needed to do is to be more rigorous, spend more money, and apply the right security safeguards. If anything, as spending on security has increased, so have cyber attacks.  There is no empirical evidence that more spending has produced anything approaching a cure.  While it may get them off the hook by throwing more dollars at the problem, a more serious and comprehensive approach is needed and soon.  That approach is tit for tat for those attacking us, and weaning our computer networks and communications systems off  weak, compromised software and Chinese-made hardware.  We would not give our soldiers rifles made in China?  Why do we run our nuclear power plants and government computers on Chinese supplied parts?

The partying going on in Beijing and Moscow will go on until we get serious.  We are still buying the beer.

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Give Me $46 Billion and I will Build a Safe Computer System

ABI Research estimates that cyber security spending on the critical infrastructure was $46 billion last year. The largest part of these dollars was spent in the United States.

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Meanwhile, in the United States, Federal government agencies have stepped up their efforts to improve cyber security protection. The Pentagon is tripling its staffing of cyber security professionals even while critical defense programs are being cancelled or curtailed. By 2016, the Pentagon should have 6,000 cyber professionals at work. In a boastful speech describing the Defense Department’s investment in cyber, Defense Secretary Hagel says they are on the way to building “a modern cyberforce.” To back up his words, the Pentagon announced last June that by 2018 the Pentagon planned to spend $23 billion on cyber security.

The Defense Department also created a United States Cyber Command (originated in 2009) which is located at Ft. Meade, Maryland, the home of the National Security Agency. The Cyber Command (officially USCYBERCOM) is headed by a Navy Admiral, Michael S. Rogers, and is subordinate to the US Strategic Command. Strategic Command involves space operations (such as military satellites), information operations (such as information warfare), missile defense, global command and control, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance , global strike and strategic deterrence (the United States nuclear arsenal), and combating weapons of mass destruction. Thus USCYBERCOM is part of the Defense Department’s most sensitive organization that includes control over America’s strategic nuclear missiles.

But despite this massive spending and the hiring of thousands of security professionals, the United States has thus far failed to protect government agencies, the rest of the critical infrastructure of the United States, regular businesses, and personal security. Despite the billions sunk into the effort each year, none of the investment has stopped the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, the Syrians, or the tens of thousands of hackers from pounding America’s computer networks. To date there have been massive hits against government computer systems, health care systems, banking and finance, power companies including nuclear facilities and energy companies, and defense companies. Vast amounts of information have been either stolen, overwritten or mutilated by hackers. Today no one can be sure whether our communications are safe, whether the lights will stay on, whether our early warning systems will function. Instead of curtailing the threat, every evidence points to its escalating out of control.

Has anyone bothered to ask why this is so? Now, our leaders, bureaucrats and their academic and industry advisers keep telling us they need to spend more, and like Pavlov’s dogs, when the bell rings, they appropriate more money to fight the threat.

If you have a spare $46 billion laying around there is an answer to computer security. But the answer will not be found in any Federal government plan. All of them are, like Hans Brinker, trying to stick their finger in the leaking dyke.

The reason is easy to discern. All computers, including all mobile devices, operate on open systems that were developed by countless software engineers worldwide. The computer industry and its allied software development is a global industry that is totally insecure. You don’t know who writes the code, the level of competency, the degree of security training, the level of auditing and internal testing for vulnerabilities, or whether some of the engineers are owned by foreign intelligence services or are promoting various ideological causes. Even in the United States, major companies such as Microsoft, Apple, or Google are run by nameless developers who come from a plethora of places (including lots of foreigners). These companies have no ability to properly vet their employees, nor do they have any real incentive to do so.

What makes matters even worse is that we have grown a security industry, already embedded in government and in corporate America, that feeds off the vast amounts of money being thrown at the computer hacking problem. To be frank, these folks have a vested interest in insecurity, because insecurity fuels their budgets. And even if the majority of them are sincere and want to help, their efforts will always fail.

The brilliant Pentagon, which is supposed to know what it is doing in cyber matters, has hired Amazon to provide “cloud” services for Pentagon information and data. The Pentagon has also cleared Samsung (a Korean company), Apple (an American company) and Blackberry (a Canadian company) to provide mobile phones for top Pentagon employees. These Pentagon decisions are intellectually defective and demonstrate that throwing billions of dollars at a problem may only compound the issue. Who clears the people at Samsung, or Blackberry, Apple or Amazon? A lot of folks in Hollywood right now, who stupidly “trusted” Apple’s cloud service, now find their naked bodies (and more) posted on the Internet.

The truth of the matter is that public systems and “open source” software are the real danger. Give us $46 billion and we can fix the problem, at least for the Pentagon and the critical infrastructure by building a truly secure, totally encrypted system that is self contained and invulnerable to hacking. To be safe you must eliminate all open source, public systems for government and critical business enterprises.

Right now you cannot buy a safe operating system because no one has invested in one. That investment is absolutely necessary for our survival and our security, not to mention the protection of our freedom and democracy. Open source public systems will always trample on human rights. They are sources of constant abuse by our enemies.

Let’s face it. The US government made a huge mistake when it decided to rely on public systems for critical communications and data storage. When you think that almost all the hardware is made in China and the folks producing these systems are everywhere around the world, you can see the enormity of the security disaster before us..

Given the destabilizing events around the world, the risks to American vital defense systems and critical infrastructure are reaching the tipping point. It is urgent for our leaders to recognize the nature of the threat and implement a radical change in our computer networks and systems. The Pentagon, DARPA, CYBERCOM, NSA and everyone else involved have a responsibility to figure it out and not just play dumb

PLEASE NOTE: This article, written by Stephen Bryen and Rebecca Abrahams was published on September 5, 2014 in the Huffington Post.  

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rebecca-abrahams/give-me-46-billion-and-i_b_5773316.html 

 

 

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