Archive for the ‘Conflict’ Category

Hackers ‘raid US weapons’

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Cultural Revolution

– If China doesn’t implode from its own internal pressures (the failure of the Mandate of Heaven concept), then it is likely that we’re all going to be living in a Chinese dominated world.

– Most of the rest of us are living in debt ridden societies with few realistic ideas of how to break the debt cycles. (Oh, yeah, let’s have another WalMart or Warehouse store so we can buy really cheap shit – that’ll sort things out).

– So here, the Chinese, apparently, have stolen the heart of America’s weapon system designs. They’ve denied it?   Well, what would you expect them to say?

– Clearly, they are winning the game against the west and they’ve used our own Capitalistic Systems and greed against us, brilliantly.

– All we can hope for is that their own greed, corruption, and their failure to understand that they too are subject to the consequences of pollution, climate change and global overshoot, is going to pull their system apart before they can take over ours.  

– Then, at least, we can all live equally in a ruined world rather than having to be serfs in a ruined world that they dominate.

– Do you think after reading this that I am prejudiced against the Chinese?  

– No, I’m not.  I differentiate between the people and their culture.   I know and value a number of excellent friends among the Chinese.  

– But their culture is another thing.  These are, after all, the same people that gave the world the spectacle of The Cultural Revolution just a few decades ago.  These same folks drive the Shark Fin markets, the Bear Gall Bladder Markets, the Ivory Markets, and etc.  

– They don’t seem to mind poisoning each other, and other nationalities, in their pursuits of profit.  (Granted, we’ve not been much better).  And, like other cultures before them (and here I very much include ours), they think they are superior, that they are right and that it is their mandate to rule.

– In the end, I think I’d prefer our own assholes to theirs.

– dennis

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Some of America’s key defence items compromised but the culprits are not known.

Designs for some of America’s most important and sensitive weapons systems have been compromised by Chinese hackers, according to a confidential report.

More than two dozen key weapons systems had been affected, including missile defences, fighter jets, helicopters and navy vessels, the report said.

Among those listed are the advanced Patriot missile system, or PAC-3, the F/A-18 fighter jet, the Black Hawk helicopter and the V-22 Osprey, which is able to land and take off vertically.

It was not clear from the report, extracts of which were published by theWashington Post, when or how the designs had been compromised.

Its authors _ the Defence Science Board, an influential advisory body _ stopped short of accusing the Chinese Government of attempting to steal the information.

But senior military sources pointed the finger directly at Beijing, saying the security breaches were part of a “widening Chinese campaign of espionage against US defence contractors and government agencies”.

– More…

– Thanks to Kierin M for the Mandate of Heaven concept.

On Radical Islam and the Taliban

Monday, October 15th, 2012

A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything. 

~ Nietzsche

There is a strain of Islam loose on our planet which would like to take us back to the 13th century.  Just the other day, some of these fellows shot a 14 year old school girl in the face in an attempted assassination in the Swat Valley area of Afghanistan.  Her crime was advocating that women should have a right to education.

In their most extreme form, Islamic Fundamentalists would impose their religious police on us.  They would reject the equality of men and women.  They would reject the separation of Church and State.  They would reject freedom of speech.  They would reject freedom of religion.  They would reject freedom of assembly and they would reject freedom of the press.  They would force us to dress by their codes.  They believe that they have a right to kill anyone who speaks out against Islam.   Indeed, they think it is Islam’s right to rule the world and many of them think that this will be accomplished by the sword.

I’m not going to mince words here.  They, and those like them, who would impose their faith-based belief systems on the rest of us by force are a cancer among us.

The Taliban are creating terrible havoc in the world today and I, for one, have lost all patience with them.  And I have lost all patience with the multiculturalists who say we should tolerate them and turn the other cheek and hope that they will learn by our example.

The Western World

We in the western industrialized nations have spent centuries clawing our way up and out of a world of made of superstition, violence, disease, slavery, inequality, and religious domination.  At the end of all that, our societies are not by any means perfect but they are vastly better than what went before.

Much of what drove people into a Diaspora from Europe and onto the American, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand shores was a deep desire to get away from religious oppression and political domination.

So, here we are now in our comfortable western democratic societies enjoying the benefits of freedom of religion, speech, and assembly.  Here we are enjoying our societies in which women have equality and the vote.

But what are these societies of ours?

Well, these societies we’re enjoying are secular societies which means that they are not exclusively allied to any particular religion.

This point is worth thinking about for those of you who are religious (and I know that most of you are).   We live in peaceful country wherein those of us of different religious persuasions get along well because we live in a secular society in which we are all guaranteed an equal right to practice our faith.

But, unfortunately, in today’s world, some folks make the word ‘secular’ sound like it’s a dirty word.

Next time you hear someone say such a thing, stand back and reflect and ask yourself what that person wants to accomplish.  You’ll find that most of them will be in favor of abandoning secularism in favor of being able to impose whatever their favorite religion is upon the rest of us; to make it into the state religion that we all have to follow.

And isn’t that just another way to take us back to the 13th century?  Didn’t we just come from there not long ago?

Stories from the Islamic World

I started this article by referring to the 14 year old school girl shot in Afghanistan for simply advocating the rights of women to get an education.  I could cite many more stories I have followed over the years from the Islamic world.

Did you know that they perform forced female genital mutilations on young girls in Egypt?  This is done to remove their clitoris to  ensure their chaste behavior.  The idea being that these woman cannot not now feel sexual pleasure and thus will never be tempted to stray.

Did you know that there are honor killings carried out because young women in some countries have the audacity to think that they have the right to decide for themselves who they  want to marry?

Did you know that women in many Islamic counties are required to wear garments that completely cover them?  This is done so that they will not incite lust in men.

And did you know that in many places women have no right to vote, own land, drive a car or even go outside unless accompanied by their husband or a male blood relative?

These things go on in many Islamic counties in the world today.  Countries which are members of the U.N., countries which are geo-political allies of the U.S.   Countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt to name a few.

Someday, these different world views are going to collide; Islam’s and ours. There’s even an academic phrase for this likelihood.  It is, “The Clash of Civilizations”.

If you look up Islam on the web, you will learn that 50 countries have Muslim majorities.  23% of the world’s population is Muslim.   Islam is the second largest religion in the world after Christianity.  And, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world.

Islam in perspective

But before I go any further, let me point out in fairness that Islam is not all one thing.

There are fundamentalist Muslims and there are progressive Muslims.  There are those who believe in women’s equality and those who don’t.  There are those who are willing to live along side other cultures and belief systems in tolerance and there are those who are not.  There are educated Muslims and there are ignorant ones.  There are many Muslims in the world today that reject the violence of the few such as the Taliban.  There are Islamic countries where women can dress as they like, get an education, drive cars and own property just as people in our countries can.

In the future, I sincerely hope that most of Islam will follow the same path that our western nations did and claw their way out of the darkness and into some semblance of the light to join us here in the 21st century.

We should all hope so because the world is getting smaller decade by decade and we are all being pressed up against each other more and more.

The current pressures and problems in Europe, which has allowed millions of Muslims to immigrate, illustrates these tensions.  And where Europe goes now, we will all eventually follow.

I’m out of tolerance

Personally, I’ve run out of tolerance for the more extreme forms of Islam just as I’ve run out of tolerance for the more extreme forms of Christianity in the U.S.

Those Islamic Imams who call for the overthrow of the evil and corrupt western states and who want to impose their Sharia Law of us are no different to me than those Christian preachers among us who think that the Bible should trump the Constitution and that the U.S. should become officially a Christian State and all the decisions in it should be driven by interpretations of Biblical scripture.

All these folks want to take us back to the 13th century and I thoroughly reject them all.   The freedoms we’ve gained over these last centuries in these secular states are far too valuable to yield to people whose convictions are all faith based and who think that their understandings and beliefs should trump our rights.

Let me step aside here, as I did with the Muslims, and strongly assert that the vast majority of Christians and Christian preachers are not radical fundamentalists bent on replacing the secular state and the Constitution and establishing a Christian state.   Most Christians are steeped in tolerance and want to live and let live. They are the salt of the earth and the very bedrock of our western nations and they are not the people I am talking about here.

If you think I’m wrong by including Christians in with my complaints, you should consider some of the Christian movements afoot in the U.S. now like Joel’s Army.

And as to the pointy end of the stick of Islamic Fundamentalism; the Taliban?

Frankly, my friends, I’ve lost all patience with them and their shooting of 14 year-old girls and I’d advocate a scorched earth policy on them where ever their shadow falls.

– – – – – – – – –

 – This article was updated on 18 Oct 2012 to reflect that nothing I say here should be seen as reflecting on the vast majority of Christians or Muslims.  The vast majority are tolerance and quite willing to live and let live.   I am only speaking in this article of those who would impose their faith-based belief systems on the rest of us by force.  – dennis

– Private critique by David D. – much appreciated.

Researchers warn of new Stuxnet worm

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Researchers have found evidence that the Stuxnet worm, which alarmed governments around the world, could be about to regenerate.

Stuxnet was a highly complex piece of malware created to spy on and disrupt Iran’s nuclear programme.

No-one has identified the worm authors but the finger of suspicion fell on the Israeli and US governments.

The new threat, Duqu, is, according to those who discovered it, “a precursor to a future Stuxnet-like attack”.

Its discovery was made public by security firm Symantec, which in turn was alerted to the threat by one of its customers.

The worm was named Duqu because it creates files with the prefix DQ.

Symantec looked at samples of the threat gathered from computer systems located in Europe.

Initial analysis of the worm found that parts of Duqu are nearly identical to Stuxnet and suggested that it was written by either the same authors or those with access to the Stuxnet source code.

“Unlike Stuxnet, Duqu does not contain any code related to industrial control systems and does not self-replicate,” Symantec said in its blog.

“The threat was highly targeted towards a limited number of organisations for their specific assets.”

In other words, Duqu is not designed to attack industrial systems, such as Iran’s nuclear production facilities, as was the case with Stuxnet, but rather to gather intelligence for a future attack.

The code has, according to Symantec, been found in a “limited number of organisations, including those involved in the manufacturing of industrial control systems”.

Symantec’s chief technology officer Greg Day told the BBC that the code was highly sophisticated.

“This isn’t some hobbyist, it is using bleeding-edge techniques and that generally means it has been created by someone with a specific purpose in mind,” he said.

Whether that is state-sponsored and politically motivated is not clear at this stage though.

“If it is the Stuxnet author it could be that they have the same goal as before. But if code has been given to someone else they may have a different motive,” Mr Day said.

He added that there was “more than one variant” of Duqu.

“It looks as if they are tweaking and fine-tuning it along the way,” he said.

The worm also removes itself from infected computers after 36 days, suggesting that it is designed to remain more hidden than its predecessor.

The code used a “jigsaw” of components including a stolen Symantec digital certificate, said Mr Day.

“We provide digital certificates to validate identity and this certificate was stolen from a customer in Taiwan and reused,” said Mr Day.

The certificate in question has since been revoked by Symantec.

– More…

 

Climate change ‘grave threat’ to security and health

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Climate change poses “an immediate, growing and grave threat” to health and security around the world, according to an expert conference in London.

Officers in the UK military warned that the price of goods such as fuel is likely to rise as conflict provoked by climate change increases.

A statement from the meeting adds that humanitarian disasters will put more and more strain on military resources.

It asks governments to adopt ambitious targets for curbing greenhouse gases.

The annual UN climate conference opens in about six weeks’ time, and the doctors, academics and military experts represented at the meeting (held in the British Medical Association’s (BMA) headquarters)argue that developed and developing countries alike need to raise their game.

Scientific studies suggest that the most severe climate impacts will fall on the relatively poor countries of the tropics.

UK military experts pointed out that much of the world’s trade moves through such regions, with North America, Western Europe and China among the societies heavily dependent on oil and other imports.

Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, climate and energy security envoy for the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), said that conflict in such areas could make it more difficult and expensive to obtain goods on which countries such as Britain rely.

“If there are risks to the trade routes and other areas, then it’s food, it’s energy,” he told BBC News.

“The price of energy will go up – for us, it’s [the price of] petrol at the pumps – and goods made in southeast Asia, a lot of which we import.”

– More…

 

The Lesson of the Chinese Invasion

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

– Isn’t this how America took over much of Central and South America 50 to 100 years ago?   Selling them things they didn’t have, gaining control of their markets and buying up control of their natural resources?

– And then, eventually, as the Americans moved behind the scenes, right wing dictatorships friendly to American interests were installed so that the money from the local resources could keep flowing to the US and so that any local political unrest was kept in check?

– Many left-wing students of American foreign policy over the last 2 or 3 decades will recognize these patterns.   Allende, Copper & Chile and Nicaragua’s Sandinistas and Contras are just two arch-typical stories of this genre. 

– So, the wheel of history turns and the Chinese nw are only doing what rising economic powers do; which is to seek more of the same.    And the greed of the naive and unsuspecting for lower prices in their target markets makes it all quite easy for them.   And all the money returns home to China and the standard of living of the Chinese people rise each year and their military is rapidly advancing from third-world quality to first-wolrd.

– What part of this “writing on the wall” can students of history not see?

– But amazingly, the short terms benefits always drive us like lemmings bound for their cliff jumps, to stock our stores with cheap Chinese gee-gaws.  And while the cheaply manufactured stuff pours into our countries, our cash goes the other way and day by day we deliver increasing power over us to them.

– Even here in my new country, New Zealand, the big box stores are jammed with cheap gee-gaws.   And the currently ascendant National Party (a rough analog of the US’s Republican Party) is busy passing laws to allow the country to sell off chucks of it essential infrastructure; Electric power generation, rail systems, etc.   The say that they believe not more than 10 to 20% will be sold so we will still retain control.  But, significantly, they’ve put no legal limits on how much can be sold – so they don’t offend or scare off the buyers.  (right!).

– They are saying that we need to do this to raise capital to fund other infrastructure projects that the nation needs.   As a first-order argument, that sounds, perhaps, reasonable.   But turn the crank one more round, and those new infrastructures will also need to be sold to fund the next round.  And so on.

– How sweet for the offshore buyers; an entire country building itself up very nicely and selling itself off as it does so.   Eventually, we’ll have a very nice country with lots of excellent infrastructure here.   And all owned by someone else.

– Going down this path, either here or in the US, how long will it be before the Chinese’s unlimited money is controlling who is winning elections?   And how long before they’ve installed a majority of people in the government who are deeply sympathetic to Chinese interests?   After that, it’s a single inevitable step to a nation becoming a Banana Republic to the Chinese juggernaut – much like many nations in Central and South America were when the American hegemony was at its apex.

– To my Chinese friends and readers  this is not an anti-Chinese flame I’ve written.   I fully believe that if it was Brazil, or India or any of a dozen other countries, the results would be the same.    This is all driven by human greed for power and control.  And the fact that it is the Chinese who are just now sitting in the global power spot, is just a coincidence of history and not an indictment of them as a people.

– dennis

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Many economic Nostradamuses have long predicted that the epitaph on America’s tombstone will ultimately read, “Made In China.” But casual observers probably didn’t think the funeral procession would happen this fast. In the last year, though, most have wised up. Thanks to a spate of mind-blowing headlines, we are learning that the Chinese invasion isn’t just a distant possibility — it’s happening right now.

First, in February, ABC News reported that almost every Americana-themed trinket sold in the Smithsonian Institute is made in China. Then news hit that San Francisco is importing its new bay bridge from China. Then came the New York Times dispatch about the Big Apple awarding Chinese state-subsidized firms huge taxpayer-funded contracts to “renovate the subway system, refurbish the Alexander Hamilton Bridge over the Harlem River and build a new Metro-North train platform near Yankee Stadium.”

Astounding as all of that is, it was quickly topped by news last week reminding us that the new Martin Luther King monument in Washington was designed by a Chinese government sculptor and assembled by low-wage Chinese workers.

The trend is enough to trouble any American. After all, when a memorial for a civil rights leader who deplored “starvation wages” and died supporting a sanitation union’s strike is built by non-union serfs from China, it’s a good sign there’s a big problem.

But then, what exactly is that problem?

Xenophobes will say China’s ascendance threatens America’s global cultural hegemony and promises to create a dystopia forcing us all to endure the supposed horrors of speaking Mandarin and using chopsticks.

Such misguided and bigoted demagoguery, though, distracts from the real crisis staring at us in our own mirror — a crisis not of other, but of self. Indeed, for all the fears of external assault, the Chinese invasion tells us the true problem is that America is no longer willing or able to invest in its own future.

– To read more…

 

Six Moldovan ‘uranium smugglers’ arrested

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Moldovan police have arrested six people suspected of trying to sell a type of uranium that can be used in nuclear weapons.

Those held wanted to sell more than 1kg (2.2lb) of uranium-235 with a value of at least $20m (14m euros; £12m), an official said.

The were conflicting reports as to whether the men were accused of trying to sell the uranium to an African country, or to an African national.

Four of the suspects are Moldovan.

Two others are from the breakaway Trans-Dniester region, one of whom also holds Russian citizenship, Vitalie Briceag, an official from the interior ministry, told reporters on Wednesday.

Police seized 1.8kg of uranium-238 in Moldova’s capital, Chisinau, last year.

Uranium-238 is the most commonly found, naturally occurring form of the substance.

The type needed for nuclear fuel and weapons is the less common uranium-235.

“The container with uranium has been in Chisinau for a week,” said Mr Briceag.

“All that time intermediaries were looking for buyers. The container, 20cm [8in] long and 40cm [16in] in diameter, was found at one of the detained men’s apartments.”

Germany, Ukraine, and the US had helped Moldova with the investigation, he said.

The Associated Press quoted Mr Briceag as saying the uranium had come from Russia and the suspects were trying to sell it to a North African country.

But other reports cited Mr Briceag as saying the men wanted to sell the uranium to a Muslim citizen of an unnamed African state.

It was not clear to what level the uranium was enriched.

– To the original…

The 25 Countries Whose Governments Could Get Crushed By Food Price Inflation

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Food inflation is now a reality for much of the world. It contributed to the overthrow of the Tunisian government, has led to riots across the Middle East and North Africa, driven up costs in China and India, and may only be getting started.

Whether you blame a bad crop or bad monetary policy, food inflation is here.

Nomura produced a research report detailing the countries that would be crushed in a food crisis. One, Tunisia, has already seen its government overthrown.

Their description of a food crisis is a prolonged price spike. They calculate the states that have the most to lose by a formula including:

  • Nominal GDP per capita in USD at market exchange rates.
  • The share of food in total household consumption.
  • Net food exports as a percentage of GDP.

We’ve got the top 25 countries in danger here and the list, including a major financial center, may surprise you.

– To see the list of 25 counties click the arrow…

The year of living dangerously

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Rising commodity prices and extreme weather events threaten global stability

Get ready for a rocky year. From now on, rising prices, powerful storms, severe droughts and floods, and other unexpected events are likely to play havoc with the fabric of global society, producing chaos and political unrest. Start with a simple fact: the prices of basic food staples are already approaching or exceeding their 2008 peaks, that year when deadly riots erupted in dozens of countries around the world.

It’s not surprising then that food and energy experts are beginning to warn that 2011 could be the year of living dangerously — and so could 2012, 2013, and on into the future. Add to the soaring cost of the grains that keep so many impoverished people alive a comparable rise in oil prices — again nearing levels not seen since the peak months of 2008 — and you can already hear the first rumblings about the tenuous economic recovery being in danger of imminent collapse. Think of those rising energy prices as adding further fuel to global discontent.

Already, combined with staggering levels of youth unemployment and a deep mistrust of autocratic, repressive governments, food prices have sparked riots in Algeria and mass protests in Tunisia that, to the surprise of the world, ousted long-time dictator President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and his corrupt extended family. And many of the social stresses evident in those two countries are present across the Middle East and elsewhere. No one can predict where the next explosion will occur, but with food prices still climbing and other economic pressures mounting, more upheavals appear inevitable. These may be the first resource revolts to catch our attention, but they won’t be the last.

– More…

Brazil Finance Minister Mantega warns of trade war

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Brazil has warned that the world is on course for a trade war because of what it says is currency manipulation by China, the US and others.

Finance minister Guido Mantega said Brazil was preparing moves to prevent further appreciation of its currency.

He said his government would raise the issue at the World Trade Organization and the G20 group of rich and developing countries.

Mr Mantega was speaking in an interview with the Financial Times newspaper.

“This is a currency war which is turning into a trade war,” Mr Mantega said in his first major interview since Dilma Rousseff took office as Brazil’s new president on 1 January.

He said Brazil’s trade with the US had slipped from an annual surplus of about $15bn (£9.6bn) to a deficit of $6bn because of US efforts to revive its economy through loose monetary policy.

“The exchange rate is one of the main drivers of economic policy, more so even than productivity,” he said.

Mr Mantega added that China’s “undervalued currency” was also distorting world trade.

He has been finance minister since 2006. In September last year he accused some rich countries of deliberately devaluing their currencies to boost exports and make their economies more competitive.

The Brazilian real has increased by 39% against the US dollar in the last two years.

Its value has been going up steadily as Brazil’s economy has grown, making Brazilian exports less competitive.

Brazil has been swamped by a flood of foreign capital that is taking advantage of low interest rates in the developed world to chase high returns in emerging economies, the BBC business reporter Linda Duffin says.

The International Monetary Fund warned in October that some countries appeared to be trying to use their currencies “as a weapon” and the issue of currency manipulation was discussed at the G20 summit in November.

– To the original…

The Decline And Fall Of The American Empire

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

– I spend part of my evening last night reading “The Decline And Fall Of The American Empire” by Professor Alfred McCoy.

– Some friends of mine in an on-line discussion group were passing it around and discussing it.  Once I read it, I sent it along to others of my friends as well.   It’s a view (several, actually) of how the American decline might play out.  As Baby-Boomers and younger, we’ve all grown up in an American dominated world and it is hard for any of us to imagine such a global sea-change could happen.   But I, like McCoy, believe it is coming.

– It’s a good read and not too long.   Give it a shot it you have a few moments.

– Dennis

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Four Scenarios for the End of the American Century by 2025

A soft landing for America 40 years from now? Don’t bet on it. The demise of the United States as the global superpower could come far more quickly than anyone imagines. If Washington is dreaming of 2040 or 2050 as the end of the American Century, a more realistic assessment of domestic and global trends suggests that in 2025, just 15 years from now, it could all be over except for the shouting.

Despite the aura of omnipotence most empires project, a look at their history should remind us that they are fragile organisms. So delicate is their ecology of power that, when things start to go truly bad, empires regularly unravel with unholy speed: just a year for Portugal, two years for the Soviet Union, eight years for France, 11 years for the Ottomans, 17 years for Great Britain, and, in all likelihood, 22 years for the United States, counting from the crucial year 2003.

Future historians are likely to identify the Bush administration’s rash invasion of Iraq in that year as the start of America’s downfall. However, instead of the bloodshed that marked the end of so many past empires, with cities burning and civilians slaughtered, this twenty-first century imperial collapse could come relatively quietly through the invisible tendrils of economic collapse or cyberwarfare.

But have no doubt: when Washington’s global dominion finally ends, there will be painful daily reminders of what such a loss of power means for Americans in every walk of life. As a half-dozen European nations have discovered, imperial decline tends to have a remarkably demoralizing impact on a society, regularly bringing at least a generation of economic privation. As the economy cools, political temperatures rise, often sparking serious domestic unrest.

Available economic, educational, and military data indicate that, when it comes to U.S. global power, negative trends will aggregate rapidly by 2020 and are likely to reach a critical mass no later than 2030. The American Century, proclaimed so triumphantly at the start of World War II, will be tattered and fading by 2025, its eighth decade, and could be history by 2030.

– To the full article…

– Research thanks to John P.