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Mandiant: China’s Army Hacking US, Canadian Utility Infrastructure

8:48 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Chinese Flag

Submitted without (much) comment:

On the outskirts of Shanghai, in a run-down neighborhood dominated by a 12-story white office tower, sits a People’s Liberation Army base for China’s growing corps of cyberwarriors.

The building off Datong Road, surrounded by restaurants, massage parlors and a wine importer, is the headquarters of P.L.A. Unit 61398. A growing body of digital forensic evidence — confirmed by American intelligence officials who say they have tapped into the activity of the army unit for years — leaves little doubt that an overwhelming percentage of the attacks on American corporations, organizations and government agencies originate in and around the white tower.

An unusually detailed 60-page study, to be released Tuesday by Mandiant, an American computer security firm, tracks for the first time individual members of the most sophisticated of the Chinese hacking groups — known to many of its victims in the United States as “Comment Crew” or “Shanghai Group” — to the doorstep of the military unit’s headquarters. The firm was not able to place the hackers inside the 12-story building, but makes a case there is no other plausible explanation for why so many attacks come out of one comparatively small area.

“Either they are coming from inside Unit 61398,” said Kevin Mandia, the founder and chief executive of Mandiant, in an interview last week, “or the people who run the most-controlled, most-monitored Internet networks in the world are clueless about thousands of people generating attacks from this one neighborhood.”

Remember when Obama alluded to foreign countries “swiping” our domestic secrets during his State of the Union speech? This is what he was talking about.

This probably could have been nipped in the bud years ago, but that would have pissed off the US titans of industry so eagerly shipping our jobs overseas to Shanghai — and whose largesse funds the election campaigns of our politicians. Even now, I wonder if it could be stopped or even reined in.

And Stuxnet comes home to roost.

Read the rest of this entry →

Russians in Syria, US Backing Rebels: Will World War III be World War I Redux?

6:28 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Bayrische Pickelhaube

Things are getting more “interesting” (and when I say “interesting” I mean “scary”) in Syria:

Russian military advisers are manning some of Syria’s more sophisticated air defences – something that would complicate any future US-led intervention, the Guardian has learned.

The advisers have been deployed with new surface-to-air systems and upgrades of old systems, which Moscow has supplied to the Assad regime since the Syrian revolution broke out 21 months ago.

The depth and complexity of Syria’s anti-aircraft defences mean that any direct western campaign, in support of a no-fly zone or in the form of punitive air strikes against the leadership, would be costly, protracted and risky.

Air strikes against chemical weapon depots would potentially disperse lethal gases over a vast area, triggering a humanitarian disaster. US and allied special forces have been trained to seize the air bases where the warheads are kept, but it is unclear what the next step would be. It would be physically impossible to fly the hundreds of warheads out of the country, while it would take thousands of troops to guard the arsenal for what could be many months.

Chemical weapons potential: Check.
Smaller nations and rebel groups used as proxies by Great Powers: Check.
Potential for other nations to be sucked into the conflict: Check.

All that’s missing is for somebody to wear the Pickelhaube and someone to wear the poppy. Read the rest of this entry →

Why Do France and the UK Want Us to Help Them Help Libyan Rebels? 400,000 Refugees Probably Had a Lot to Do with It.

7:13 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

When I first wrote about the Libyan uprising and the US’ role in helping the rebels, I wondered about the reasons that Britain and France might have for a) wanting to help the rebels militarily, and b) wanting the US to help with their efforts.

Turns out that I’d seriously underestimated the magnitude of the Libyan refugee crisis that Gaddafi’s crackdown created.

How bad of a crisis? This bad: 400,000 persons have fled the country as of today. That’s out of a population of 6.4 million, meaning that one out every sixteen persons living in Libya back in early February has left Libya, very likely forever. 180,000 of that number had left, half of them for Tunisia, in the eleven days stretching from February 20 — when Gaddafi unleashed his helicopter gunships on protesters — to March 3.

Now, many of the refugees are themselves immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, and are simply returning to their own homelands. But many, if not most of them, are stuck in Tunisia and Egypt for the foreseeable future, joining displaced persons from Tunisia itself. And a fair number of them, not wanting to go back to their homelands — as one Nigerian immigrant to Libya said, “If our country was a very nice place to be, we would not have gone to a place like Libya” — are looking towards Europe.

In fact, there are a number on European soil already. Five thousand have landed at the island of Lampedusa, which though it belongs to Italy is much closer geographically to Libya. Over eight hundred have made it as far as Malta, and more are on the way to both Malta and Lampedusa, as well as other places around the Mediterranean Sea.

This exodus, on top of the Tunisian exodus, is starting to unnerve a lot of people, particularly right-wing nutjob politicians such as Marine Le Pen, daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen (and who like her father is dismayingly popular in France), and commentators in Italy and France who like to periodically raise the specter of hordes of dark-skinned Africans overrunning the white people of Europe. Ironically, Gaddafi has used these fears to justify his continued rule, stating in December that “Europe will become black” if he is overthrown. However, the number of persons who have already fled as a result of his crackdowns has apparently made various European governments decide that they might be better off if Gaddafi were removed from power as quickly as possible.

So there you have it. No oil, no kowtowing to Al-Qaeda or the CIA, no imperialism, no US leading the rest of the world around. At its heart, it’s pretty much a desire to stop Gaddafi from causing even more people to flee and overwhelm the already-taxed refugee camps in Tunisia, much less Lampedusa or Malta. Whatever one thinks of the US’ involvement in a European and African issue, it’s not based on the motives so many people like to ascribe to it.

UPDATE: A quick note:

The number of refugees who left Libya in the eighteen days before NATO’s no-fly zone: around 300,000, at a rate of 14,000 a day.

The number who have left in the eighteen days since the NFZ was established to yesterday: around 100,000, or around 6,000 a day.

As I touched on earlier, one of the things that until now had made the European nations that make up NATO be relatively friendly to Gaddafi was his self-appointed role as the gatekeeper between Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. Playing on European racist fears, he worked to all but end unsanctioned African migration through Libya to Europe, he also has warned that “Europe will become black” through a torrent of uncontrolled refugees if he’s allowed to fall. However, since three times as many persons have fled Libya in the eighteen days before the NFZ as have fled in the eighteen days since the NFZ was established, his gatekeeper argument doesn’t carry the weight it once did among European leaders.

So again no, it’s not about oil or imperialism or cuddling up to Al-Qaeda. It’s about racism in large part, but it’s also about legitimate fears of seeing UNHCR efforts to keep Tunisian refugee camps, already swamped with Tunisian and Libyan refugees who can’t go home just yet, collapse under a swarm of Libyans fleeing Gaddafi’s crackdown, should he have been allowed to continue it uninterrupted. (In fact, when the rebels do well, many Libyan refugees take it as a sign they can come home; on the other hand, when Gaddafi does well, it increases refugee flow.)

China Rigged Copenhagen to Fail So the US Would Get Blamed for It

9:30 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

This doesn’t surprise me one bit, really:

Copenhagen was a disaster. That much is agreed. But the truth about what actually happened is in danger of being lost amid the spin and inevitable mutual recriminations. The truth is this: China wrecked the talks, intentionally humiliated Barack Obama, and insisted on an awful “deal” so western leaders would walk away carrying the blame. How do I know this? Because I was in the room and saw it happen.

China’s strategy was simple: block the open negotiations for two weeks, and then ensure that the closed-door deal made it look as if the west had failed the world’s poor once again. And sure enough, the aid agencies, civil society movements and environmental groups all took the bait…

…. Even George Monbiot, writing in yesterday’s Guardian, made the mistake of singly blaming Obama. But I saw Obama fighting desperately to salvage a deal, and the Chinese delegate saying “no”, over and over again. Monbiot even approvingly quoted the Sudanese delegate Lumumba Di-Aping, who denounced the Copenhagen accord as “a suicide pact, an incineration pact, in order to maintain the economic dominance of a few countries”.

Sudan behaves at the talks as a puppet of China; one of a number of countries that relieves the Chinese delegation of having to fight its battles in open sessions. It was a perfect stitch-up. China gutted the deal behind the scenes, and then left its proxies to savage it in public.

And they did it pretty much because they could — and because even with their glaciers melting, the glaciers that supply their rivers, scoring points off the US is far, far more important than making sure the world as a whole survives.

The one thing, besides Lynas’ presence, that kept the Chinese from getting clean away with it: Obama’s breaking into one of the secret meetings the Chinese were holding; the cat started to get out of the bag at that point.

(Crossposted at Mercury Rising.)

UPDATE: I for one should have known something was up when a bunch of nations that turned out to be China’s proxies started hollering over draft documents that were months old and no longer part of the discussion.

Liz Cheney Wants Us To Bow To China

5:41 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Betcha dollars to doughnuts you won’t hear Dan "OMG EEEEK Obama was polite to an Asian dude" Riehl gumming Dick Cheney’s ankle over this.

After all the nonsense emanating from the right-wing bloggers — nonsense slavishly repeated by a corporate media that doesn’t bother to notice that Republican Richard Nixon greeted Chairman Mao with a polite bow without conservative commentators rushing to their fainting couches over it — we find that Liz Cheney, the daughter of their hero, their icon, Dick Cheney, wants us all to bow to China — big time.

Never mind that the alleged "concern" expressed by China, and referenced by Liz Cheney and her partner in sliming, FOX’s Neil Cauvto, is not exactly well sourced. Never mind that, as T.R. Reid notes in The Healing of America, they dropped their extremely successful "barefoot doctors" system in their rush to become capitalists — and so now have the dubious distinction of being the one major industrial nation whose residents have worse access to health care than we do. Never mind that Cheney’s friends at FOX spent a good chunk of yesterday freaking out about "bowing" done for form’s sake, as opposed to the truly submissive grovelling Liz Cheney is now urging on us here in America.

None of that matters. What matters is that once again, FOX tells us that anything, even bowing to China, is OK if a Republican does it.