21st Century Wire
For the past two weeks we’ve seen the Obama administration embroiled in controversy, as three separate scandals continue to grow and attach themselves to the White House.
While this is major news, and does have the power to topple this U.S. President, there are other far-reaching actions unfolding under his watch…
In a bizarre move, President Obama, held two joint press conferences last week, one with U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and another with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Perhaps the dual Presidential podiums were a subliminal touch to what seemed to blur the line between world leaders, in a sense, becoming rule by global council. This strange observation may well be significant to understanding the kind of dark partnerships that are developing world-wide.
Rightly, most of the media will focus on the obvious take down of an empire, as they try to uncover the truth about Benghazi, IRS, and the DOJ. However, on the global chess board of finance and war, more stark revelations have come to light involving the U.S. President. During the press conference with Prime Minister Cameron, President Obama, made vague sweeping statements about a Transatlantic Partnership with the E.U. A partnership that many fear will lead to a Transatlantic Union which will impose more globalized standards and regulations, potentially derailing individual free trade.
This was made clear by The New American earlier this year:
“The “Transatlantic Partnership,” of course, is just one of the major sovereignty-threatening international schemes being pursued by the Obama administration simultaneously — closer North American Integration and the so-called “Trans-Pacific Partnership” are two of the most prominent efforts. The latest plot, though, has far-reaching, global implications that critics argue represent a serious threat to America and freedom. If the U.S.-EU deal ends up becoming reality, the regulatory regime governing the new bloc, which accounts for about half of global GDP, would become the de-facto standard-setting entity for the entire planet.”
Obama had this to say during the Cameron press conference:
“With respect to the relationship between the U.K. and the EU, we have a special relationship with the United Kingdom. And we believe that our capacity to partner with a United Kingdom that is active, robust, outward-looking and engaged with the world is hugely important to our own interests as well as the world. And I think the U.K.’s participation in the EU is an expression of its influence and its role in the world, as well as obviously a very important economic partnership”.
Obama echoed the same rhetoric at the Erdogan press conference adding: “Today, we focused on three areas that I want to highlight. First, we agreed to keep expanding trade and investment. Over the past four years, our trade has surged and U.S. exports to Turkey have more than doubled. As the United States pursues a new trade and investment partnership with the EU, I want to make sure that we also keep deepening our economic ties with Turkey. So we’re creating a new high-level committee that will focus on increasing trade and investment between our two countries and will help fuel Turkish innovation. And the progress that Turkey’s economy has made over the last several years I think has been remarkable and the Prime Minister deserves much credit for some of the reforms that are already taking place.”
It seems that more and more we’re faced with a manufactured reality, one in which international institutions will have dictatorial power over trade and the economy world-wide. Breaking away from sovereign entities controlling their own destiny.
Is the transatlantic partnership a sleeping giant for the global economy? What other partnerships are being harbored in regards to U.S., Britain and Turkey? How does this tie into the situation in Syria?
Writer Patrick Henningsen delves further into this in a recent op-ed for Russia Today news: “On Wednesday Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul(R) weighed in on the Benghazi debacle, in a direct challenge to the President and Hillary Clinton, inferring that the Sept. 11, 2012 attack unfolded as a result of a secret arms trade, and rubbishing the previous government line put forward by Susan Rice and the US Intelligence community that the attack was a result of a YouTube film, “The Innocence of Muslims”. During a recent CNN interview Paul explains:
“I’ve actually always suspected that, although I have no evidence, that maybe we were facilitating arms leaving Libya going through Turkey into Syria,” he said. “Were they trying to obscure that there was an arms operation going on at the CIA annex?”
One can only conclude that those in the world who are making economic reforms aligned to a socialist “pay your fair share” tax scheme, can also control the narrative on world events. Creating a new kind of “strategy of tension” by forcing countries to be complicit in illegal activities, via their trade partnerships. Is the new growing economic partnership, a partnership in conflict and consolidation?
NASA scientists have recorded the biggest observed meteorite impact on the moon, with an explosion equal to 5 tons of TNT. The event is part of ‘lunar meteor showers’ observed by astronauts of the moon exploration program.
The 40-kg meteorite measuring 0.3 to 0.4 meters wide traveling 56,000 mph slammed through the moon’s surface on March 17, 2013.
The explosion from the impact, glowing like a 4th magnitude star, was so bright that it could have been seen from Earth with the naked eye. However the flash of light lasted only for a second and was rather difficult to detect.
Ron Suggs an analyst at the Marshall space flight center was the first to notice the explosion on a digital video recorded by one of the monitoring programs.
“It jumped right out at me. It was so bright” he acknowledged.
“On March 17, 2013, an object about the size of a small boulder hit the lunar surface in Mare Imbrium,” says Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office.
“It exploded in a flash nearly ten times as bright as anything we’ve ever seen before.”
Unlike Earth, the moon has no atmosphere to protect it. As there is no oxygen, it poses the question of how they explode.
“Lunar meteors don’t require oxygen or combustion to make themselves visible. They hit the ground with so much kinetic energy that even a pebble can make a crater several feet wide. The flash of light comes not from combustion but rather from the thermal glow of molten rock and hot vapors at the impact site,” NASA explains.
As the crater from the impact could be as wide as 20 meters, comparing it to the brightness of the explosion might give certain explanations to scientists about “lunar meteor showers”.
For the past eight years NASA scientists have been observing the moon as part of a lunar monitoring program to identify new kinds of space debris that can threaten our planet. The US space agency says that this is a ‘good candidate’ for research.
The lunar impact might have been part of a much larger event, Cooke noted. NASA and the University of Western Ontario’s sky cameras detected an unusual number of deep-penetrating meteors on Earth. These speeding fireballs rushed along nearly identical orbits between Earth and the asteroid belt. He notes that the Earth and the moon were pelted by meteoroids at about the same time and supposes that these two events were connected.
The NASA lunar monitoring program began in 2005. “Lunar meteor showers” are quite common, since the beginning of the program scientists have detected more than 300 impacts. According to NASA’s observations, half of all lunar meteors come from known meteoroid streams such as the Perseids and Leonids. The rest are from sporadic space debris.
Russia plans to launch its next unmanned mission to the moon in 2015. It will mark the country’s return to the Earth’s natural satellite after a 40-year hiatus. The Russian space agency has said that three lunar exploration missions will be launched from Cosmodrome Vostochny under construction in the country’s Far East region. The first mission is to be dubbed the ‘Luna-Glob-1’.
Back in August 2012, things were a lot different in Washington DC and in the White House…
The Obama administration was brandishing a confident swagger back then, heading into the elections against a hobbling GOP opponent, and Benghazi had yet to unfold in all of its ugliness.
As Hillary Clinton was jetting around on the US State Department budget promoting her ‘Friends of Syria’ Middle East and European tours, and as the CIA were busy like bees working in the gray shadows of Benghazi, Washington and London were laying the groundwork for their new WMD case is Syria.
As last summer drew to a close, President Barack Obama confidently announced he was drawing a ‘Red Line’ in Syria regarding the use of chemical weapons, meaning that any evidence of their use on either side of that conflict would lead to consequences, the obvious inference being automatic US military intervention.
Fast forward to the present, and Washington appears to have been caught in the vortex of its own spin machine, with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney recently forced to ‘clarify’ the President’s infamous ‘Red Line’ decree with what can only be described as desperate political cover. Here Carney attempted to explain away the previous ultimatum and re-explain the President’s position:
“What the president made clear is that it was a red line, and that it was unacceptable, and that it would change his calculus… What he never did – and it is simplistic to do so is to say that ‘if X happens, Y will happen’. He has never said what reaction he would take.”
It’s hard to run a global empire and still pander to sensitive liberal concerns at home. The White House seems to be at pains coming to terms with what the Neoconservative Bush government already knew a decade ago – that there really is no good, safe way to do a military intervention. In the end, the façade of political spin cannot provide ethical cover for invading and toppling another sovereign state. You can’t finesse your way into it, you have to just go for it in full view – lie if you have to, fabricate evidence if need be, and be damned with the political fallout…
Cyber crime is big business in the US. It’s used to spy, steal, harass competition, political opponents, or to stage an attack and blamed it on a foreign enemy.
Is the government in on this crime industry? Yes, and in bigger ways than you can imagine…
This trend is enabled domestically by an institutionally corrupt US legal system and a police state which are fast working to shut and jail security consultants and white hat hackers who help to expose security flaws and government hegemony over cyber space. The reason for this is because the state wants to be able to operate in secret – as the world’s biggest and most prolific hacking machine. In other words, the US government want hackers to exist, but only hackers who are on their payroll.
Still not convinced? According to McAfee, the United States is home to the largest number of botnets or “zombie armies – a hive of computers that are used to generate spam, relay viruses and flood networks and servers with excessive requests to cause it to fail – in the world, and even control remote overseas servers used to hack other computers worldwide.
Want more? Data from Germany’s Deutsche Telekom shows that more attacks against its networks come from the US.
Obama will tell his people that the Chinese are responsible for this hack, or that one. Still think that the US is not the number one cyber threat to the planet in 2013?
Read this shocking report…
The United States government is investing tens of millions of dollars each year on offensive hacking operations in order to exploit vulnerabilities in the computers of its adversaries, Reuters reports.
According to an in-depth article published Friday by journalist Joseph Menn, the US and its Department of Defense contractors are increasingly pursuing efforts to hack the computers of foreign competitors, in turn exposing a rarely discussed aspect of the nation’s clandestine cyber operations.
In a time when the government continues to prosecute alleged domestic computer criminals — so much so that demands for technology law reform have been rampant as of late — Menn says the US is guilty of spending millions on discovering, identifying and exploiting previously unknown security flaws, often gaining unfettered access to the systems and networks of international targets.
As a result, the US has become one of the world’s top players in regards to wreaking havoc over the Internet — even as calls to investigate foreign hackers increase in Congress.
On Tuesday, a bipartisan supported proposal was introduced in Congress specifically to protect US commercial data from being compromised by foreign hackers. According to Menn, however, the American government is just as guilty of cybercrimes as the countries it warns against in introducing the “Deter Cyber Theft Act.”
“Even as the US government confronts rival powers over widespread Internet espionage, it has become the biggest buyer in a burgeoning gray market where hackers and security firms sell tools for breaking into computers,” Menn wrote.
In his report, Menn explained that a large chunk of the country’s current cyber endeavors does not rely on defensive strategy as one might imagine, but instead involves offensive operations launched with the intent of causing harm on the computers of adversaries.
Menn wrote defense contractors “spend at least tens of millions of dollars a year” on simply researching exploits that, if pursued, could put the eyes and ears of the American intelligence company essentially anywhere in the world.
And although the US has not officially gone on the record to acknowledge these shadowy operations, Menn wrote that the nation’s most well-known cyber endeavor — the Stuxnet worm that targeted Iranian nuclear plants — is just one example of the budding attempts to attack foreign entities.
“Computer researchers in the public and private sectors say the US government, acting mainly through defense contractors, has become the dominant player in fostering the shadowy but large-scale commercial market for tools known as exploits, which burrow into hidden computer vulnerabilities,” he wrote.
“In their most common use, exploits are critical but interchangeable components inside bigger programs. Those programs can steal financial account passwords, turn an iPhone into a listening device or, in the case of Stuxnet, sabotage a nuclear facility.”
Menn cited several defense contractors and government officials — many speaking on condition of anonymity — who admitted the increasingly dominant role the US government has in pursuing research on these exploits and using them to attack rival networks.
According to the report, “Reuters reviewed a product catalogue from one large contractor, which was made available on condition the vendor not be named. Scores of programs were listed. Among them was a means to turn any iPhone into a room-wide eavesdropping device. Another was a system for installing spyware on a printer or other device and moving that malware to a nearby computer via radio waves, even when the machines aren’t connected to anything.”
These contractors, he wrote, spend upwards of $100,000 on licensing single operations to governments, including the US. The result has been the development of a thriving industry, largely underground, where exploits are bought and sold before patches are developed to protect against intrusions. These “zero-day exploits”— labeled as such because developers are unaware of the flaw until it’s announced — fetch big bucks from contractors, governments and hackers.
And as the demand for these exploits increases, so do the players in the game. One example cited by Menn is Atlanta-based Endgame Inc., which recently brought in $23 million in funding courtesy of Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. But as early as 2011, Endgame and similar entities have been on the radar of hacktivists hell-bent on exposing the largely unknown doings of defense contractors.
When the loose-knit hacking collective Anonymous investigated security consultants HBGary in 2011, they uncovered only the tip of an intricate iceberg made up of former federal employees and other intelligence workers being paid boatloads to give governments exploits that could be used to their advantage. Project PM, the open-source online think tank started by former Anonymous collaborator Barrett Brown, discussed Endgame and its associates in great detail.
From a Business Week article cited by Brown:
“Endgame executives will bring up maps of airports, parliament buildings and corporate offices. The executives then create a list of the computers running inside the facilities, including what software the computers run, and a menu of attacks that could work against those particular systems. Endgame weaponry comes customized by region — the Middle East, Russia, Latin America and China — with manuals, testing software and ‘demo instructions.’ There are even target packs for democratic countries in Europe and other US allies.”
Last year Brown was arrested on unrelated counts and remains in custody six months later with an eventual trial still a ways before him. The US government has since subpoenaed Internet host Cloudflare for records pertaining to Project PM, and has equated the website as a criminal enterprise.
“Project PM served as a forum through which defendant Brown and other individuals sought to discuss their joint and separate activities and engage in, encourage, or facilitate the commission of criminal conduct online,” the government alleged when it fought back attempts from the current Project PM administrator to quash that subpoena.
Brown fired back from prison: “It makes it much more obvious that this investigation and the charges against me has to do with our successful research into what may be criminal activities by firms close to the government.”
“It is virtually impossible to conclude that the obscenely excessive prosecution he now faces is unrelated to that journalism and his related activism,” Glenn Greenwald wrote earlier this year for The Guardian.
Meanwhile, Menn admitted that other investigative computer work — specifically discovering exploits like the one Endgame thrives off of — is an endeavor that discourages people outside of the government and defense industry from entertaining.
“Most companies, including Microsoft, Apple Inc. and Adobe Systems Inc, on principle won’t pay researchers who report flaws, saying they don’t want to encourage hackers,” he wrote. “Those that do offer ‘bounties,’ including Google Inc. and Facebook Inc., say they are hard-pressed to compete financially with defense-industry spending.”
Andrew Auernheimer, a 26-year-old independent security researcher, was recently sentenced to 41 months in prison for identifying and disclosing a harmless exploit on the servers of AT&T that allowed anyone with the know-how to collect the email addresses of thousands of Apple iPad users. After he was convicted, Auernheimer wrote for Wired that the selective prosecution of some security researchers will deter future hackers from ever disclosing exploits, even critical ones that effect national security.
“In an age of rampant cyber espionage and crackdowns on dissidents, the only ethical place to take your zero-day is to someone who will use it in the interests of social justice. And that’s not the vendor, the governments, or the corporations — it’s the individuals,” he wrote. “In a few cases, that individual might be a journalist who can facilitate the public shaming of a web application operator. However, in many cases the harm of disclosure to the un-patched masses (and the loss of the exploit’s potential as a tool against oppressive governments) greatly outweighs any benefit that comes from shaming vendors. In these cases, the antisec philosophy shines as morally superior and you shouldn’t disclose to anyone.”
As Washington, led by Chuck Hagel continue their chemical weapon-induced campaign to arm the Al-Qaeda rebel terrorists in Syria, Russia moves ahead with fulfilling its own existing contracts with the Assad government. The US had previously tried to block Russian supplies to Syria, claiming that this was somehow “unfair”.
The irony here is that the US, its NATO allies and the Gulf states have already been arming their Islamic guerilla factions in Syria dating back to August of 2012. The details of a massive airlift comprised of 75 airplanes, and an estimated 3,000 tons of military weaponry which left Croatia to Jordan were revealed here in March, as well as confirmation that Saudi Arabia financed a large portion of that secret shipment to al Qaeda and other FSA fighters – all working with the support of the CIA, MI6 and others.
Meanwhile in Moscow…
Russia is not planning to supply Syria with any weapons beyond the current contracts that are nearing completion, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. The news comes amid speculations that Moscow might sell S-300 air defense systems to Damascus.
“Russia does not plan to sell,” Lavrov told reporters on being asked on S-300 air defense systems rumors. He stressed that Russia has only been fulfilling contracts that have already been signed with Syria for defensive weapons.
On Thursday the White House urged Russia not to sell weapons to Syria, saying that such assistance to Damascus is “particularly destabilizing to the region.”
“I think we’ve made it crystal clear we would prefer that Russia was not supplying assistance ” to the Syrian regime in its war against opposition forces, US Secretary of State John Kerry said in Rome Thursday.
The warning from the US came a day after the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel had informed the Obama administration about Moscow’s alleged plans to transfer S-300 missile batteries to Syrian security forces, possibly as early as this summer.
Kerry did not directly respond to the report, but said the United States has repeatedly opposed arms deals in the past.
He reiterated the US position against transfers of missile systems to Syria because of the possible threat to Israel.
According to the report, Israel informed the US that Syria made payments on a 2010 deal to buy four batteries from Russia for $900 million. That included six launchers and 144 missiles, each with a range of 125 miles (200 kilometers).
Despite repeated accusations it has tried to deliver military equipment to Syria, Moscow mantains that it is only fulfilling contracts that are already signed, which are for defensive weapons.
Speaking to German media in Hannover in April, Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to the allegations, saying that Russia only “supplies the legitimate regime… This is not prohibited by international law.”
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov has also insisted that Russia has no plans to sign any further military contracts with Syria, and now only honors old contracts, many of which date back to the Soviet era.
Following an incident in which a Russian ship was intercepted carrying helicopters for Damascus, then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton slammed Russia for sending “combat” helicopters to the Syrian government, but later the statement was retracted, with the US acknowledging they were“old helicopters” refurbished under previous contracts.
Russia and the US have in a deadlock over the Syrian conflict and thus far failed to agree on an approach to resolve the two-year long crisis in the war-torn country. While Washington insists that Assad and his regime must step down, Moscow maintains that only the Syrian people should decide and foreign interference should not be the determining factor. Russia insists that only direct talks between parties involved in the conflict – the government and the opposition – can bring an end to the fighting, which according to the UN has claimed lives of more than 70,000 people.
SEOUL, South Korea — Former NBA star Dennis Rodman is tapping his friendship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to ask for the release of a Korean-American man sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in the North.
“I’m calling on the Supreme Leader of North Korea or as I call him `Kim’, to do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose,” Rodman said on Twitter. He later called the tweet a direct response to a Seattle Times editorial that dared him to ask Kim for the release if the two are really buddies.
Rodman visited North Korea in February and sat next to Kim as they watched an exhibition basketball game. His trip came at a time of high tension between Pyongyang and Washington and was not endorsed by the U.S. State Department.
Bae is a tour operator who was arrested in North Korea in November. The North’s Supreme Court sentenced him last week for unspecified “hostile acts” against the state. In a Foreign Ministry statement on Sunday, North Korea said the 44-year-old Washington state man entered the country with a disguised identity.
Bae is at least the sixth American detained in North Korea since 2009. The others eventually were deported or released, some after trips to Pyongyang by prominent Americans, including former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.
North Korea’s Foreign Ministry rejected speculation that it was seeking a U.S. envoy to negotiate Bae’s release, saying he is not a political bargaining chip.
Analysts have said North Korea may be using Bae as bait to open direct negotiations with the United States over its nuclear arms programs. Bae’s sentencing came during a lull after weeks of threats of war from Pyongyang against the U.S. and South Korea.
The U.S. has called for the North to immediately release Bae. It relies on Swedish diplomats in Pyongyang to deal with Bae’s case because the North and the U.S. have no formal diplomatic relations after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce instead of a peace treaty.
North Korea has not described the exact nature of Bae’s alleged crimes. Friends say Bae is a devout Christian and tour operator based in China who traveled frequently to North Korea to feed orphans.
A man charged with two counts of murder has vanished from one of Russia’s best guarded detention centers through a hole in the ceiling. The escapee may have only used a spoon in his jailbreak…