Thursday, May 7, 2015

Russia's Greatest Weapon May Be Its Hackers - Newsweek

L. TODD WOOD: Let's talk about Russia and its role in World War II - Washington Times

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Washington Times

L. TODD WOOD: Let's talk about Russia and its role in World War II
Washington Times
Russia is estimated to have lost close to 30 million people to the Germans during the war. The true tally could be even much higher. Americans cannot even fathom the scale of such a loss. The United States lost approximately a half-million during World ...
V-Day in Russia Evokes National Pride at Difficult TimeABC News
Russia prepares for WWII victory celebrations amid shaky Western tiesChannel News Asia

all 49 news articles »

How America and Russia Could Start a Nuclear War - The National Interest Online

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The National Interest Online

How America and Russia Could Start a Nuclear War
The National Interest Online
But is a nuclear war between Russia and America possible today? After all, there is no longer a Cold War, the Soviet Union and its military alliance were dismantled long ago, and both Russiaand America have slashed their nuclear inventories. What ...
Why one of Russia's top foreign policy experts is worried about a major war ...Vox
Russia vs. Europe War WorriesValueWalk

all 13 news articles »

Economic Crisis Slows Putin's Plans to Modernize Russian Military - Wall Street Journal

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Wall Street Journal

Economic Crisis Slows Putin's Plans to Modernize Russian Military
Wall Street Journal
MOSCOW—Russia's economic crisis is forcing President Vladimir Putin to quietly scale back plans to build an “indomitable” military, even as Moscow readies one of the largest-ever displays of its might on Red Square this weekend. When Mr. Putin ...
Should Putin fear Russia's extremist far right?Vox
Chinese president's trip to fortify military ties with RussiaSouth China Morning Post (subscription) 
The Hidden Challenges of Modernizing Russia's MilitarySTRATFOR
Voice of America-New York Times (blog)-Reuters
all 234 news articles »

Russia's Greatest Weapon May Be Its Hackers - Newsweek

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Newsweek

Russia's Greatest Weapon May Be Its Hackers
Newsweek
According to the U.S. Intelligence Community's 2015 “Worldwide Threat Assessment” report,Russia and China are the "most sophisticated nation-state actors” in the new generation of cyberwarfare, and Russian hackers lead in terms of sophistication, ... 
Newsweek: Russia's greatest weapon may be its hackersUkraine Today

all 2 news articles »

US Ambassador To Ukraine Says 'Russia Has To Change Its Approach' - RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

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RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

US Ambassador To Ukraine Says 'Russia Has To Change Its Approach'
RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
KYIV -- The U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, says Russia has to change its approach to the situation in Ukraine's east to make peace in the region possible. Talking to RFE/RL in Kyiv on May 6, Pyatt said that Russia is supplying pro-Russian... 
An uneasy friendshipThe Economist
After Sanctions, Russia Sees Huge Capital FlightWashington Free Beacon
EU Energy Chief Sefcovic Eyes Russia-Ukraine Gas Deal by JuneBloomberg
Yahoo News-EU News-Business Insider
all 567 news articles »

Two Chinese Warships Enter Black Sea, Reports Link Visit to Possible Chinese ... - USNI News

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Business Insider

Two Chinese Warships Enter Black Sea, Reports Link Visit to Possible Chinese ...
USNI News
Two People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) guided missile frigates entered the Black Sea on Monday in a first for the PLAN, according to photos of the ships crossing the Bosporus Strait obtained by USNI News. The pair is bound for the Russian naval base ...
Chinese warships just sailed to Russia ahead of a possible major arms deal ...Business Insider
China, Russia to Conduct Naval Drill in Mediterranean Sea, Further ...Yibada (English Edition)

all 29 news articles »
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An uneasy friendship - The Economist

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The Economist

An uneasy friendship
The Economist
While Western leaders are staying away in protest against Russia's aggression in Ukraine (and the first annexation of sovereign territory in Europe since the second world war), China's president, Xi Jinping, will be the guest of honour of his friend ...
US Ambassador To Ukraine Says 'Russia Has To Change Its Approach'RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
EU's top diplomat says destabilized Russia in nobody's interestYahoo News 
Ukraine breaks from Russia in commemorating victoryKyiv Post

EU News-Bloomberg
all 617 news articles »

Russian super-tank 'stalls' on rehearsal parade in Moscow - BBC News

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BBC News

Russian super-tank 'stalls' on rehearsal parade in Moscow
BBC News
Russia's new high-tech battle tank has ground to a halt during a rehearsal for 9 May Victory parade in Moscow, prompting speculation of a breakdown. One of T-14 Armata tanks suddenly stopped on Red Square, and the driver raised a red flag - apparently ...
Russia's state-of-the-art tank stops during parade rehearsalFox News
Russia reveals fearsome Armata tank in bid to gain battlefield advantageeuronews
Russia and Vladimir Putin's latest tank that puts West's models in the shadeDaily Mail
Voice of America -ABC News
all 361 news articles »

Why Armenia turned to Russia instead of the West - Washington Post (blog)

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Why Armenia turned to Russia instead of the West
Washington Post (blog)
Not long before Ukraine signed the agreement with the European Union that precipitated a crisis with Russia that continues to unfold, Armenia, Ukraine's small neighbor to the south, made a different decision. Following a discussion with Russian leader ...

and more »

A Parade Hailing Russia's World War II Dead and Marching Further From the West - New York Times

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New York Times

A Parade Hailing Russia's World War II Dead and Marching Further From the West
New York Times
MOSCOW — The Russian version of Hitler's defeat emphasizes the enormous, unrivaled sacrifices made by the Soviet people to end World War II, so the country has long staged a colossal military parade on May 9 to recognize Victory Day as the most ...
NATO military exercises aim to send message of resolve to RussiaLos Angeles Times 
Economic Crisis Slows Putin's Plans to Modernize Russian MilitaryWall Street Journal
L. TODD WOOD: Let's talk about Russia and its role in World War IIWashington Times
NDTV (blog)-
 The Guardian- Vox
all 417 
news articles »

Russian WW2 parade: A tank-spotter's guide - BBC News

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BBC News

Russian WW2 parade: A tank-spotter's guide
BBC News
Russia will stage its biggest ever military parade on 9 May, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two. A rehearsal in central Moscow has revealed some new hi-tech Russian armour for the first time, lifting a veil of ...
Russian super-tank 'stalls' on rehearsal parade in MoscowBBC News
Russia's state-of-the-art tank stops during parade rehearsalFox News 
Russia's newest tank stops during parade rehearsalU.S. News & World Report
euronews-Yahoo News UK
all 362 news articles »

Out-of-Control Russian Spacecraft Will Fall from Space Overnight Tonight - Space.com

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Space.com

Out-of-Control Russian Spacecraft Will Fall from Space Overnight Tonight
Space.com
An out-of-control Russian cargo ship is headed for a destructive plunge into Earth's atmosphere overnight between Thursday and Friday (May 7-8), with satellite watchers around the world trying to pinpoint the exact time and place of the craft's fall ...
Russia's Progress cargo spacecraft set to crash to EarthThe Guardian
Where Will Doomed Russian Spacecraft Fall? Experts Can Only GuessNBCNews.com
Russian space officials warn spacecraft might not burn up entirely in atmosphereDaily Mail
CBC.ca -Sydney Morning Herald -RT
all 275 news articles »
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Russia is ready to restore partnership with NATO - Lavrov - RT

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RT

Russia is ready to restore partnership with NATO - Lavrov
RT
Lavrov told a media conference on Thursday that Russia will welcome a revived partnership:“I want to say with all honesty: we are receiving signals from our NATO partners that it wouldn't hurt to renew cooperation between our military departments. If ...
Germany's Steinmeier presses for Ukraine progress on Russia visitReuters
German FM: Progress in Resuming NATO-Russia Military ContactABC News
German and Russian diplomats pay tribute to Stalingrad victimsDeutsche Welle

all 67 news articles »

Impeach the traitor now!

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This week we were forced to witness the true colors of our ultra-socialist and pro-terrorist President Barack Hussein Obama again. Fresh off of his capitulation to his Muslim brothers in Tehran with regard to the sham nuclear negotiations that threaten the annihilation of not just Israel but also our own country, he seized the opportunity at the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama, to advance his dastardly plan to open full diplomatic relations with the Communist island of Cuba. Shaking the hands of brutal and blood-thirsty dictator Raul Castro, the younger brother of Fidel Castro, a man who has waged his own version of the Holocaust against his people since the early 1960s when he seized power, Obama later in the week removed Cuba from the list of terrorist nations. Fidel and Raul Castro, the terrorist-supporting dictators, even installed Soviet nuclear weapons on the island only to be forced to remove them later under President Kennedy’ naval blockade and the threat of a full-fledged nuclear strike by the United States. But, what makes matters worse is that Obama received nothing in return from his Communist friends.
This is typical of Obama. He is a communist and a Muslim (who gives preferential treatment to Muslims over Judeo-Christian values) at heart and has acted accordingly over the last six years since he and his administration cleverly seized power over We the People by passing himself off as an amiable mainstream liberal, a Christian and someone who is a natural born citizen eligible to be president. Notwithstanding the ever-growing list of Obama scandals, from IRS-gate, to Benghazi-gate, to Fast and Furious-gate, to NSA/CIA-gate, to Obamacare-gate, to Amnesty-gate and many others – where he has ignored and defied the power of Congress and subverted not just the Constitution but also the rule of law time and time again, King Hussein is now on the verge doing such permanent traitorous damage to our national security that he should be removed from office for this alone.
Indeed, if Obama were a white man, a la President Nixon, he would have been impeached and forced to resign by now. (And Nixon was at least a patriot.) But Obama and many of his henchmen, like Attorney General Eric Holder, a true fellow criminal and racist, know well how to play the so-called race card. Criticize him in any way and this amounts to an attack upon not just him but his “people.” Given “opposition” Republican fears that they will be tarred as racist in time for the next presidential elections (on top of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton calling them sexist), Obama thus has reason to believe that he has carte blanche to do as he pleases; and doing as he pleases means deconstructing the nation to pay reparations in the form of higher taxes and other socialist programs the white middle and upper class is forced in particular to bear, and to reduce the power of the United States to ash. In doing the latter, either by design or otherwise, Obama has not only furthered a Muslim caliphate in the Middle East and around the world, but now is waging a revival of and opening the door to communism in our own hemisphere, something former Democratic presidents, including even the dunce Jimmy Carter, never had the “chutzpah” to do.
It is thus time for Republicans, sincere Democrats (perhaps an oxymoron) and independents in Congress to act. The nation comes first, and the heritage of our Founding Fathers and the free nation they bequeathed to us is at stake. We simply cannot sit back for another two years, hoping that King Hussein will leave office peacefully, waiting for a new day when We the People have a president who loves and wants to protect our country and acts accordingly. By that time, more than irreparable damage will have been done to the state of the nation.
Articles of impeachment must now be drafted and presented to the House of Representatives. Republicans and other representatives can no longer be allowed to hide for cover on fear of being branded racists and sexists. Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were impeached for far less – the latter over an intern named Monica Lewinsky. Our nation’s representatives have a legal and moral obligation not to leave this traitor in office one minute longer. They must be forced by We the People to act, on threat of having themselves rooted from their elitist establishment congressional perches and leave office. The president of the United States is an insidious traitor, plain and simple. He is worse than Benedict Arnold during Revolutionary War days, particularly since more is at stake and we have even more to lose in today’s nuclear and terrorist age.
It is not acceptable for Obama to coddle communist and Muslim demagogues and dictators, and much worse further their interests by reintroducing communism to the Western hemisphere in the case of Cuba and allowing Iranian fanatics in Tehran to acquire the nuclear weapons to destroy and, at a minimum, blackmail us as well as the rest of Western civilization into submission to their Islamic caliphate.
If our representatives cannot and will not do their jobs and get rid of this dangerous scourge now occupying the Oval Office, then We the People will need to rise up and legally get the job done!
Media wishing to interview Larry Klayman, please contact media@wnd.com.
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Here's What a Cyber Warfare Arsenal Might Look Like

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Stuxnet was just the beginning, as malware becomes the new nuclear option
The Pentagon has made clear in recent weeks that cyber warfare is no longer just a futuristic threat—it is now a real one. U.S. government agency and industry computer systems are already embroiled in a number of nasty cyber warfare campaigns against attackers based in China, North Korea, Russia and elsewhere. As a counterpoint, hackers with ties to Russia have been accused ofstealing a number of Pres. Barack Obama’s e-mails, although the White House has not formally blamed placed any blame at the Kremlin’s doorstep. The Obama administration did, however, call out North Korea for ordering last year’s cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.
The battle has begun. “External actors probe and scan [U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)] networks for vulnerabilities millions of times each day, and over 100 foreign intelligence agencies continually attempt to infiltrate DoD networks,” Eric Rosenbach, assistant secretary for homeland defense and global security, testified in April before the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. “Unfortunately, some incursions—by both state and nonstate entities—have succeeded.”
After years of debate as to how the fog of war will extend to the Internet, Obama last month signedan executive order declaring cyber attacks launched from abroad against U.S. targets a “national emergency” and levying sanctions against those responsible. Penalties include freezing the U.S. assets of cyber attackers and those aiding them as well as preventing U.S. residents from conducting financial transactions with those targeted by the executive order.
Deterrence of this type can only go so far, of course, which is why the DoD last month issued an updated version of its cyber strategy for engaging its adversaries online. The plan outlines Defense’s efforts to shore up government networks, systems and information as well as those run by U.S. companies.
If cyber attacks continue to increase at the current rate, they could destabilize already tense world situations, says O. Sami Saydjari, a former Pentagon cyber expert who now runs a consultancy called the Cyber Defense Agency. “Nations must begin to create real consequences for malicious action in cyberspace because they are leading, in aggregate, to serious damage, and there is potential for much larger damage than we have seen so far,” he adds.
A major part of the DoD’s cyber strategy is to bolster the Pentagon’s “cyber mission force,” which the department began forming in 2013 to carry out its operations in cyberspace. Although the unit will not be fully operational before 2018 the unit is expected to have nearly 6,200 military, civilian and contractors—divided into 13 teams—working across various military departments and defense agencies to “hunt down online intruders,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said last month during a lecture delivered at Stanford University.
The strategy does not go into detail about which digital weapons the cyber mission force will deploy to fight its campaigns. That information can instead be gleaned from the malicious software—“malware”—already rampant on the Internet as well as military technologies designed to disrupt digital communications. The Stuxnet worm that sabotaged Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment plant in November 2007 is an early example of cyber war weaponry. No one has officially claimed ownership of Stuxnet although much speculation points to the U.S. and Israel as its authors. A related piece of strategic malware known as Flame is subtler, stealthily gathering information and transmitting it via Bluetooth while avoiding detection.
The components of cyber warfare are the very same components as warfare using guns and explosives, only much faster, Saydjari says. An attacker would seek to damage a critical infrastructure such as power, telecommunications or banking by damaging the computer systems that control those infrastructures. “The instrument of creating that damage is generally some form of malicious software that is inserted into such systems by a variety of means including hacking into the system by taking advantage of some known but as yet unpatched or as yet undiscovered vulnerability,” he adds.
China recently admitted that it has both military and civilian teams of programmers developing digital weapons, and documents disclosed by National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden indicate China has developed malware to attack U.S. Defense Department computers and even steal sensitive information about the F-35 Lightning II fighter plane that Lockheed Martin is developing for the U.S. Air Force. “All technically savvy countries are developing both offensive and defensive capabilities to prepare for the potential of cyber conflict both by itself and as one aspect of broader conflicts including kinetic warfare, which involves bombs and bullets,” Saydjari says. “The goal of many such countries is to be able to exercise complete dominance and control over any part of cyberspace, anywhere and anytime it serves their national interests.”
The Air Force Research Laboratory is soliciting projects that could furnish cyber deception capabilities for use by commanders to “provide false information, confuse, delay or otherwise impede cyber attackers to the benefit of friendly forces.” Another aspect of cyber warfare could be the use ofcyber electromagnetic activities to “seize, retain and exploit an advantage over adversaries and enemies in both cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum,” according to a U.S. Army report on the subject. Electromagnetic attacks have already struck in South Korea where more than 500 aircraft flying in and out of that country’s Incheon and Gimpo airports reported GPS failures in 2010,IEEE Spectrum reported in 2014. The source of the electromagnetic fields was traced to the North Korean city of Kaesong, about 50 kilometers north of Incheon.
Cyber war itself may be difficult to define but cyber treaties pose an even bigger challenge. “In some sense it is a bit like asking bank robbers in the old wild West to negotiate a non–bank-robbing treaty,” Saydjari says. “Many countries are benefiting from the lack of rules. Many countries are exploring this new arena of warfare and do not quite understand it well enough to agree to stop exploring it.”
Even more importantly, he adds, it is very difficult to attribute responsibility to actions within cyberspace because of its complexity, “so imposing consequences to treaty violation would be problematic.”
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· · · ·

Hacking a 21st Century Government | Gavin Newsom

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Can you imagine walking into your public library looking for a specific book only to discover that nothing is organized and there is no Dewey Decimal system to help you locate it? Or firing up your laptop to find something online, but every search engine -- Google, Bing, Yahoo -- have all been shut down?
While these scenarios sound like they are straight out of an episode of the Twilight Zone, this is what it's like for any Californian who wants to participate in the legislative process in Sacramento. While the information exists, it is virtually impossible to find.
The California State Legislature does not produce transcripts or minutes from its public hearings. The majority of meetings in Sacramento are recorded via video or audio. But, the public has no way to search who said what. This means that you either have to attend every hearing to know what was said or spend countless hours watching or listening through hearings that have nothing to do with your issue.
This is about to change.
We didn't want to just talk about the problem. We wanted to actually build something to help make it better. Together with engineering and political science students at Cal Poly's Institute of Advanced Technology and Public Policy (IATPP), we are developing a tool to modernize Sacramento. We are harnessing social media and video to open up the halls of government. And the name of this movement and the new platform for civic engagement is called: Digital Democracy.
Think of it as a searchable, sharable video engine for California government. It's like C-SPAN, Google, and Facebook for California politics all rolled into one.
Giving Advocates a Fighting Chance
This online tool for the digital age will give advocacy groups fighting for veterans, the homeless, and foster children, the ability to easily keep tabs on where lawmakers stand on issues important to them.
Take Jim Roberts for example. Jim runs the Family Care Network, a non-profit that helps foster children along California's Central Coast. Organizations like his do not have the funding to hire a lobbyist to advocate in Sacramento.
Instead, Jim has to drive five hours from San Luis Obispo to Sacramento to sit in on committee hearings. But with this new tool, Jim now has an opportunity to be part of the legislative process without leaving his office. Jim can find videos of hearings specifically related to foster care just by entering a few search terms. He can also use Digital Democracy to see where elected officials stand on foster care and use social media to mobilize those families to advocate for services essential to the well being of foster children.
This powerful tool is now right at his, and every Californians' fingertips.
Innovation Empowers Citizenship
The way citizens interact with their government needs an update for the 21st century. This is exactly why this new advocacy tool is so important.
If you are concerned about health care reform, for example, you can find every moment your issue is being talked about, whether by a legislator, lobbyist, or member of the public. Digital Democracy will help reporters and regular citizens connect the dots from a lobbyist, to a company, to a bill.
In a state that Snapchat, Google, Twitter, and Facebook all call home, our government is failing to provide citizens with basic online tools and resources. Search engines have been around since the mid '90s. YouTube just turned 10 years old. California tech companies are obsessed with constantly improving their user experience. Shouldn't our government be doing the same?
That is why we are so excited about the new platform. Using technology, we can further the ideals of a government of the people, by the people, for the people.
We are building Digital Democracy for anyone who wants to have more of a say in how our hard earned tax dollars are spent. It's something both Democrats and Republicans can support. It's something that Northern Californians and Southern Californians can agree upon. This first-of-its-kind, online tool harnesses the power of video and social media to open up the halls of government and empower everyday citizens like never before.
Learn more about Digital Democracy at: www.digitaldemocracy.org.
*This article first appeared in the OC Register.
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· · ·

Russia's Greatest Weapon May Be Its Hackers

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In hacker jargon, it’s called a “cyber-to-physical effect.” It’s when a hacker reaches out from the virtual world into the real one—often with catastrophic consequences. The Americans and Israelis pioneered the technique back in 2009 when the Stuxnet program infiltrated Iranian computer systems and wrecked thousands of uranium-enriching centrifuges. But now other players—especially the Russians and Chinese—are getting into the game of remotely using computer networks to destroy infrastructure and threaten human lives. Last year, according to a report by Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security, a blast furnace melted down in an unnamed industrial city in Germany after a digital attack on its control systems, causing “massive damage.”
It nearly happened in the United States too, when unknown hackers succeeded in penetrating U.S. electrical, water and fuel distribution systems early in 2014. While old-fashioned, relatively low-tech data hacks make headlines—for instance, high-profile break-ins over the last 12 months to the email systems and databases of the White House, State Department, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense and Sony Pictures Inc.—what has security officials seriously worried is the new and dangerous world of cyber-to-physical infrastructure attacks.
“This is not theoretical,” National Security Agency Director Admiral Michael Rogers told the U.S. House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee recently. Hacking attacks on the U.S. and its allies are “costing us hundreds of billions of dollars,” Rogers warned, and will result in “truly significant, almost catastrophic failures if we don’t take action.”
According to Alexander Klimburg, an affiliate of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Belfer Center and senior research fellow at the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, “cyberspace today is like Europe in 1914, before World War I. Governments are like sleepwalkers. They do not comprehend the power of new technology and the consequences of misunderstanding each other’s activities.”
According to the U.S. Intelligence Community’s 2015 “Worldwide Threat Assessment” report, Russia and China are the "most sophisticated nation-state actors” in the new generation of cyberwarfare, and Russian hackers lead in terms of sophistication, programming power and inventiveness. “The threat from China is overinflated, while the threat from Russia is underestimated,” says Jeffrey Carr, head of Web security consultancy Taia Global and author of the book Inside Cyber Warfare. “The Russians are the most technically proficient. For instance, we believe that Russian hackers-for-hire were responsible for the Sony attack.”
Last year hackers gained access to thousands of Sony company emails and threatened further damage unless a film lampooning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was withdrawn from cinemas. “We spoke to [one of the hackers] via an intermediary,” says Carr. “Even after Sony lost 80 percent of its network capability, the hackers were still operating. That shows an incredibly high level of technical ability.”
The Moscow connection is worrying because Russia is the only country to date to have combined cyberwarfare with assaults by conventional guns and tanks. “The Russia-Georgia war of 2008 was a perfect example of a combined kinetic and cyber operation,” says Carr. “Nobody else has ever done anything like that.”
05_08_RussianHackers_02Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) shakes hands with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu during a meeting in Sochi, November 24, 2014. Putin has characterized the Internet as a “CIA invention” and this month ordered the FSB to “cleanse the Russian Internet” by forcing all Internet providers to keep their servers in Russia—another turn of the screw in the Kremlin’s long-term plan to create a separate Russian Internet. Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Reuters
Similarly, in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in April 2014, ground assaults were accompanied by a deluge of mostly low-tech cyberassaults on over a hundred government and industrial organizations in Poland and Ukraine, as well as attacks on the European Parliament and the European Commission. Many of these attacks featured a modified version of “BlackEnergy,” a kind of malware program known as a Trojan horse that is designed to remotely take over computers. A network of such infected computers, or “bots,” is known as a “botnet.” This can be mobilized to overwhelm a target server with requests for information and crash it—an attack known as Distributed Denial of Service, or DDoS.
“The BlackEnergy malware was authored by a Russian hacker and originally used for DDoS attacks, bank frauds and spam distribution,” says Pierluigi Paganini, founder of the Security Affairs blog and a member of a European Union Agency for Network and Information Security working group. “But the new variant was used in targeted attacks on government entities and private companies across a range of industries.”
One of the biggest mysteries of the latest generation of cyberattacks—known in the U.S. government as Offensive Cyber Effects Operations—is working out who is behind them and whether they are being launched with political or criminal intent.
What’s not in doubt is that Russian hackers have long been kings of the cybercrime world. A group of Russians and Ukrainians were named by U.S. federal prosecutors as being behind the biggest cybercrime case in U.S. history, a bank-card fraud spree from 2010 to 2013 that cost companies including J.C. Penney, JetBlue and French retailer Carrefour more than $300 million. A group of Russian “click-jackers” were convicted in the U.S. last year for hijacking users of Apple's iTunes store, Netflix, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, Amazon.comESPN.com and the Wall Street Journal website—as well as computers at NASA.
Another as-yet-unidentified hacking ring, based in a small city in south-central Russia, stole some 1.2 billion Internet logins and passwords and more than 500 million email addresses last year by plundering data from more than 400,000 websites, according to U.S. cybersecurity firm Hold Security. And in February the Moscow-based Internet security company Kaspersky Labs revealed details of the biggest Internet heist of all time—a raid on over 100 banks in Russia, Ukraine, Japan, the United States and Europe from 2013 to 2014. Kaspersky reported seeing evidence of $300 million in losses just from the banks that had hired it to clean up the mess—and estimated that the total amount stolen was likely to be around $900 million.
“This is cybercrime on an industrial scale,” says one Moscow-based Western Internet security consultant, who helped overhaul several Russian banks’ defenses in the wake of the attack. “In one case in Kiev, they made the bank’s ATMs spew out money, which was collected by people walking by.” The techniques used to break into the bank’s electronic systems via flaws in Adobe and Microsoft programs “were not particularly sophisticated,” says the consultant, “but it was amazing how careful they were not to alert the victims and to keep their backdoor into their systems a secret.”
05_08_RussianHackers_04Customers queue to withdraw hryvnia currency from an ATM outside a Privatbank CJSC bank branch in Kiev, Ukraine, on February 20, 2014. Among the most frightening new-generation cyberweapons are those designed to target super-secure, so-called “air-gapped” systems that have no links to the Internet or outside networks. Vincent Mundy/Bloomberg/Getty
The exact nature of the links between these criminal hackers and the Russian government remains murky. “Cybercrime, cyberterrorism and cyberwarfare share a common technological basis, tools, logistics and operational methods,” says Klimburg. “They can also share the same social networks and have comparable goals. The differences between these categories of cyberactivity are often razor–thin. It’s hard to distinguish in cyberspace between financial and political motivation.”
In particular, the methods of delivering malware into a target computer are identical. Hackers seek vulnerabilities in popular programs that allow them to introduce alien code, in particular a weak spot in the code known as a “zero-day,” meaning it remains unpatched and can be used for an attack before it is discovered by everyone else, so there are zero-days between an attack and the discovery of the vulnerability. A good zero-day vulnerability can be sold for $200,000, says Klimburg, but there are many examples of Russian hackers “lending” their zero-day hacks to the government for espionage purposes, then using them for crime later.
“Hundreds of ‘black-hat’ Russian hackers are doing this for a living—whether it’s at the order of Swiss bankers or Ukrainian oligarchs,” says Carr. “Russian hackers who are caught are given the choice to work for the FSB [Federal Security Service] or to go to jail. The FSB also has some on contract hire.”
There is strong evidence, going back to cyberattacks on Estonia as early as 2007, that Russian cybercriminals were working either with or for the Russian state. But now, it seems, the Kremlin is getting directly involved. U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March that Russia’s Ministry of Defense is “establishing its own cybercommand” responsible for “conducting offensive cyberactivities.” And the Russian government appears to be stepping up funding for the research and development of cybertechnology at world-class computer science centers such as the prestigious St. Petersburg Polytechnic University and Samara State University, according to information gathered by Seattle-based Taia Global.
Possible evidence linking recent hacking attacks on the U.S. government to the Russian state includes the digital signatures of a hacker group known as Advanced Persistent Threat 28 (or APT28, identified by the U.S.-based Internet security company FireEye) and a family of hackers labeled CozyDuke, CosmicDuke, MiniDuke and OnionDuke (spotted by Kaspersky Labs). These groups, which may or may not be related, have some giveaway signatures that tie them to Russia. “Indicators in APT28’s malware suggest that the group consists of Russian speakers operating during business hours in Russia’s major cities,” says a recent FireEye report. “More than half of the malware samples...attributed to APT28 included Russian-language settings.”
But the real giveaway is not the forensics of the APT28 codes but their targets over the past five years, which have included Georgia’s ministries of internal affairs and defense, the Polish and Hungarian governments, NATO, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Norwegian army and U.S. defense contractors. The APT28 hacking crew "does not appear to conduct widespread intellectual property theft for economic gain, but instead is focused on collecting intelligence,” says FireEye. “That would be most useful to a government.”
Though there is evidence that the development teams of APT28 and the CosmicDuke, MiniDuke and OnionDuke “worked together and shared same knowledge and coding techniques,” and that they all have Russian origins, it’s likely they are separate groups, says Paganini. “All these groups are state-sponsored hackers, probably backed by the Russian government, though it is likely that they operate under different divisions of the same cyberarmy.”
Was APT28—and the Kremlin—behind hacking attacks on the White House and State Department this year, which cracked open confidential email records (though not, according to a spokesman, the president’s personal email)? The Kremlin strongly denies it. “We know that blaming Russia for everything has turned into a sport,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov joked to journalists. “At least they haven't looked for Russian submarines in [Washington's] Potomac River, as has been the case in a few other countries.”
05_08_RussianHackers_03Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov attends a meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, on December 25, 2013. There is strong evidence, going back to cyberattacks on Estonia as early as 2007, that Russian cybercriminals were working either with or for the Russian state. But now, it seems, the Kremlin is getting directly involved. Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty
Yet some code—in particular, the family of “backdoors” into programs known as CHOPSTICK—regularly used by APT28 has been linked to those virtual break-ins. And there’s less ambiguity about a similar attack on an unclassified military network at the U.S. Department of Defense last year. “We analyzed their network activity, associated it with Russia and then quickly kicked them off the network," Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said in April.
Cyberspying on the West Wing’s emails may be cheeky, but it’s not much different from the old-school espionage and signals-intelligence games that Russia and America have been playing for decades. What’s truly scary, on the other hand, is infiltrating physical infrastructure in a way that could herald a new generation of violent covert action and sabotage. “This is an entirely new way of waging war,” says one former KGB general once posted as a spy to London who now works in the private security sector. “It is like the invention of planes or submarines. Suddenly you can attack the enemy from a completely new and unexpected direction.... This is the essence of warfare: constant surprise.”
In April, Eugene Kaspersky, the Moscow-born CEO of Kaspersky Labs, noted that there has been a dramatic surge in targeted attacks against power grids, banks and transportation networks around the world—and warned that groups targeting crucial infrastructure have “the capacity to inflict very visible damage. The worst terrorist attacks are not expected.”
Among the most frightening new-generation cyberweapons are those designed to target super-secure, so-called “air-gapped” systems that have no links to the Internet or outside networks. The developers of Stuxnet bridged the air gap by developing ingenious programs that infected CD-ROMs and memory sticks that then colonized Iran’s nuclear development computers, ultimately inflicting devastating physical damage on uranium centrifuges and forcing the Iranians to replace their entire computer infrastructure. But a Stuxnet-like program that can be carried by email and memory sticks, called Uroburos, has been around since 2011—and was diagnosed as being of Russian origin. Uroburos targets Microsoft Windows, sets up surreptitious communications with its parent network and is able to leap across air gaps isolating secure networks from the Internet.
“The scary thing is that now everyone can do pretty much anything to anyone,” says Klimburg. He believes that one way to distinguish between criminal and government cyberactivity is measuring the amount of programming resources an attack requires—like malware designed to leap across air gaps. “If you see a huge amount of organization and programming going into an attack, that’s a good indicator that there’s a government involved.”
The U.S. and Europe remain extremely vulnerable to infrastructure attacks—especially as so much of these developed economies’ vital infrastructure is now electronic, from financial systems to social networks. One small example: In late April, a fleet of American Airlines Boeing 737s was temporarily grounded after an iPad application known as an “electronic flight bag” used by pilots for preflight checks crashed. The iPad app replaced 13 pounds of paper manuals—but when it went down, so did the entire fleet.
More worrying, though still hypothetical: The U.S. Government Accountability Office issued an official warning in April that “modern aircraft’s interconnectedness can potentially provide unauthorized remote access to aircraft avionics systems” and that an aircraft’s Wi-Fi access could be exploited by hackers. When security researcher Chris Roberts joked on Twitter about how easy it would be to “start playing with the EICAS”—Engine-Indicating and Crew-Alerting System—he was bumped off a flight. Boeing issued a statement saying that “no changes to the flight plans loaded into the airplane systems can take place without pilot review and approval.”
Other infrastructure is just as unprotected. A recent survey by the energy industry consultants Black & Veatch revealed that only 32 percent of U.S. electric utility companies had integrated security systems with the “proper segmentation, monitoring and redundancies needed for cyberthreat protection.”
Personnel work at the Air Force Space Command Network Operations & Security Center at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo. July 20, 2010. The U.S. and Europe remain extremely vulnerable to infrastructure attacks—especially as so much of these developed economies’ vital infrastructure is now electronic, from financial systems to social networks. Rick Wilking/Reuters
In February, President Barack Obama set up a new Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center, described as “a national intelligence center focused on connecting the dots regarding malicious foreign cyberthreats to the nation.” Defense Secretary Carter made a trip to the heart of Silicon Valley, this month to help improve relationships with tech companies after damaging revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about digital surveillance. “This threat affects us all,” Carter told the assembled techies. "There are also really great opportunities to be seized through a new level of partnership between the Pentagon and Silicon Valley.”
Behind the scenes, American spy agencies are also busy fighting a secret war against cyberenemies. Snowden—now in hiding in Russia—publicly revealed the massive scale of data mining by U.S. intelligence agencies, often in apparent violation of protections for U.S. citizens’ privacy. But a recent report by Kaspersky Labs suggests that the U.S. is no slouch in the hacking department either. A hacking collective that Kaspersky’s team dubbed Equation Group—sponsored, it coyly says, “by a nation-state with nearly unlimited resources”—has for the past 14 years apparently been busy planting top-flight spyware around the world, including a keystroke-logging program called Grok and a protective encryption system known as GrayFish.
The top targets? Iran and Russia, followed by Pakistan, China and India. The malware has targeted financial, government, diplomatic, aerospace and telecommunications networks, as well as research institutions and universities. According to Kaspersky’s engineers, the Equation Group designed “the world’s most mysterious malware warhead” as well as “a secret storage vault that survived military-grade disk wiping and reformatting, making sensitive data stolen from victims available even after reformatting the drive and reinstalling the operating system.”
Thanks to its vast resources, the U.S. may well be able to stay one step ahead of its cyberenemies. But the problem with this new battlefield is that none of the potential combatants know the rules—and, even more dangerous, no one can be certain of who the combatants are. “It is not always possible to distinguish between cyberespionage, cyber covert action and, most importantly, preparation for cybersabotage or war,” says Klimburg. “Serious misunderstandings are preprogrammed.... The consequences of misidentifying the motive of the attacker could be, in diplomatic-speak, ‘inadvertent escalation’—or accidental cyberwar.”
Richard Clarke, head of cybersecurity and counterterrorism coordination in the George W. Bush administration, has warned of the dangers of a “false flag” cyberattack designed to create tension between the U.S. and, for instance, China and launched by a hidden third party.
Some academics have proposed “cybermilitary exercises” between the United States and Russia as a vehicle for trust building. Others suggest establishing “rules of the road”—a kind of informal agreement for cyberspace that outlines what is a legitimate target for espionage purposes, with an agreement not to target super-critical infrastructure such as power grids with cyberespionage attacks.
But even if Beijing could be persuaded to come on board, the current geopolitical tension between Washington and Moscow is hardly conducive to gentleman’s agreements. Russian President Vladimir Putin has characterized the Internet as a “CIA invention” and this month ordered the FSB to “cleanse the Russian Internet” by forcing all Internet providers to keep their servers in Russia—another turn of the screw in the Kremlin’s long-term plan to create a separate Russian Internet, a project to which Putin has pledged some $100 million since 2012. And during the Sochi Olympics in February 2014, the FSB deployed aggressive cyberspying tools designed to infect foreign visitors’ computers and cellphones with spyware through Wi-Fi networks and cellphone towers.
It is unlikely that such a regime would shy away from using every cyberweapon at its disposal. It’s equally unlikely that, faced with a barrage of what White House spokeswoman Jan Psaki described as “hundreds of cyberattacks a day,” the U.S. will cease and desist from developing some of the world’s most sophisticated cyberweapons in retaliation. The cyber arms race is on.
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United Kingdom election highlights shrinking role as U.S. ally

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LONDON — Britain's election Thursday is highlighting how the once-dominant player on the world stage is turning inward and dissolving its long-time role as the United States' most vital ally.
Voters are heading to the polls here amid dramatic spending cuts by , who over the past five years has slashed military funds and the nation's diplomatic corps. Those cuts are unlikely to change even if the other main party candidate — Labour's — comes out the victor.
"The U.K. really isn't pulling its weight on the world stage in a manner that we've come to expect," said Raffaello Pantucci, of the for Defense and Security Studies, a London-based think tank.
"It's clearly something that has an impact on how the U.S. views the U.K. — you don't just want your partner to be a partner for the sake of it, you want them to be useful and to help advance your interests around the world," Pantucci said.
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FBI may have missed chance to stop Texas shooters

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Joe Dana, KPNX-TV, Phoenix 8:16 p.m. EDT May 6, 2015
Nadir Soofi and Elton Simpson are the suspects involved in the Dallas shooting.(Photo: 12 News and NBC)
PHOENIX -- There are now reasons to believe that when Nadir Soofi and Elton Simpson headed to Dallas with an intent to kill, one of them was already a target of an open investigation.
According to the New York Times, the F.B.I. and police in Phoenix opened a new investigation into Elton Simpson last year after he began posting comments on social media supportive of ISIS. Simpson had already served three years probation for lying to the FBI in a case dating back to 2007 that initially alleged he attempted to join an international terrorist organization.
According to the Times, authorities monitored Simpson's online postings last year and occasionally put him under surveillance, but they had no indication he planned to launch the attack in Dallas. On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the FBI's Phoenix office referred questions to the agency's Washington D.C. bureau. A spokesperson in Washington D.C. was unavailable for comment.
Former federal law enforcement officials said the FBI simply may not have had enough specific information of an imminent threat to take a proactive measure, such as serving a search warrant or conducting ongoing 24-hour surveillance on Simpson.
"I'm not privy to what the FBI in Phoenix saw. But clearly if they thought he was plotting something, he would not have been allowed to likely even leave the state if that were the case," said a nationally recognized counter-terrorism consultant Don Borelli, who spent 25 years with the FBI and specialized in investigating domestic and foreign terrorists. Borelli is now a vice-president for the New York based Soufan Group, a security consulting firm.
Borelli estimated there are "hundreds if not thousands" of individuals like Simpson in the U.S. who since 9/11 have been through the federal legal system for allegations related to terrorist-affiliations. Borelli said knowing which among them deserve further scrutiny after they leave the legal system is a challenge for FBI officials.
"How do you triage? And really that is the million-dollar question. How do you figure out that this is the individual who is going to get in his car and drive to Texas and start shooting? It's a very difficult task on the backs of law enforcement and the intelligence community," Borelli said.
Another former federal official, Bernard J. Zapor, who retired last year as special agent in charge of the ATF Phoenix Field Office, says it's possible that the two roommates kept their intentions airtight, even with law enforcement investigating them.
"There have been cases in the past where people that are radicalized, and we know this from the July 2007 subway attacks in London, that through the radicalization process they did keep the entire process to themselves," Zapor said, who teaches counter-terrorism classes at ASU. "Not even their closest family or friends knew."
Zapor says agencies cannot blindly throw all investigative resources at an individual like Simpson who makes incendiary comments on social media.
"These kinds of pieces of evidence, whether on social media or elsewhere, these tidbits are out there constantly and there's limited resources for these agencies that have to pick and choose where they are going to spend their attention," Zapor said.
Authorities are also now seeking a third suspect tied to the Garland, Texas Mohammed cartoon contest shooting. VPC
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Russia's state-of-the-art tank stops during parade rehearsal - Fox News

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Fox News

Russia's state-of-the-art tank stops during parade rehearsal
Fox News
Weaponry was rolling across central Moscow Thursday morning in the dress rehearsal of the May 9 military parade as Russia commemorates the 70th anniversary of victor of Nazi Germany in World War II. One of the tanks moving on Red Square suddenly ...
Russian WW2 parade: A tank-spotter's guideBBC News
With cutting-edge tank fleet, Russia intends to close post-Cold War gap with WestNational Post
Russia reveals fearsome Armata tank in bid to gain battlefield advantageeuronews
CNN International -Newsmax -Newsweek
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Russia's Progress spacecraft set to crash to Earth within 24 hours - The Guardian

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The Guardian

Russia's Progress spacecraft set to crash to Earth within 24 hours
The Guardian
Russian spacecraft that broke down on its way to the International Space Station last week will fall to Earth by midday on Friday, according to European Space Agency officials. The uncrewed Progress 59P cargo vessel has been tumbling around the ...
Doomed Russian Spacecraft Is Falling From Space, But Where Will It Fall?Space.com
Russian space officials warn spacecraft might not burn up entirely in atmosphereDaily Mail
Progress, Russian space cargo ship, to fall from orbit FridayCBC.ca
Sydney Morning Herald -Phys.Org
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Nato's Baltic war games send a signal to Russia - The Times (subscription)

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The Times (subscription)

Nato's Baltic war games send a signal to Russia
The Times (subscription)
A British warship and troops are taking part in some of Nato's biggest war games close to Russia's borders this week, as British fighter jets prepare to protect the Baltic skies from Russian aircraft. HMS Portland, a Type 23 frigate, is among a fleet ...

NATO Not Responsible For Ukraine's Security From Russia, Should Focus On ... - International Business Times

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International Business Times

NATO Not Responsible For Ukraine's Security From Russia, Should Focus On ...
International Business Times
Maris Riekstins, Latvia's top envoy to NATO, said Wednesday the military alliance is not responsible for Ukraine's security and should focus on protecting its member nations. NATO has taken steps in recent months to bolster its presence in Eastern ... 
Patrushev: Ukraine's membership in NATO is neo-Nazis's attempt to revanchevestnik kavkaza
Latest from IranPress TV
Russia prepares for hybrid warsRussia and India Report

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NATO Response Force Sharpens Spearhead - Aviation Week

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NATO Response Force Sharpens Spearhead
Aviation Week
The NATO Response Force (NRF), created in 2003, is transitioning into a rapid-reaction force in an effort to reassure Eastern European member-states that there will be timely support after an attack. The NATO summit in Wales last September approved ...

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NATO military exercises aim to send message of resolve to Russia - Los Angeles Times

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Los Angeles Times

NATO military exercises aim to send message of resolve to Russia
Los Angeles Times
NATO countries are staging massive air, land and sea exercises across Russia's northern borders this month in response to warnings from the Kremlin and strategic analysts that President Vladimir Putin's threats to use nuclear weapons are more than bluster.
Former GDR top brass slam US-NATO policy, anti-Russian rhetoric in open letterRT
German military slam US-NATO policy in open letterRussian Peacekeeper
How America and Russia Could Start a Nuclear WarThe National Interest Online
ValueWalk
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US must do more to help Ukraine withstand Russian aggression: Rob Portman ... - cleveland.com

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cleveland.com

US must do more to help Ukraine withstand Russian aggression: Rob Portman ...
cleveland.com
Efforts to strengthen Ukraine must be part of a broader, comprehensive strategy to support our regional allies and deter Russian aggression. We must demonstrate America's commitment to the security of our NATO allies through a reinforced NATO presence ...
Ukraine Crisis Update: Separatists, Government Forces Exchange Artillery Fire ...International Business Times
Surge in Fighting Puts Ukrainian Truce in DoubtTruthdig
Fighting in eastern Ukraine likely to erupt again, as sanctions against Putin failHungarian Free Press
War is Boring
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Reuters: NATO starts anti-submarine drills in North Sea as Russia tensions rise - Kyiv Post

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Kyiv Post

Reuters: NATO starts anti-submarine drills in North Sea as Russia tensions rise
Kyiv Post
NATO launched one of its biggest-ever anti-submarine exercises in the North Sea on May 4, inviting non-member Sweden for the first time, amid increasing tensions between Russia and its northern neighbors. Read more here. READ MORE IN SECTION.
Latvia Detects Russian Military Ships Near Border As NATO Conducts Naval ...International Business Times
Lithuania detains suspected Russian spy – prosecutor's officeeuronews
Birds of prey help NATO police Baltic airThe Daily Star
The Moscow Times -The Maritime Executive -RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
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Latvia Detects Russian Military Ships Near Border As NATO Conducts Naval ... - International Business Times

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International Business Times

Latvia Detects Russian Military Ships Near Border As NATO Conducts Naval ...
International Business Times
In the face of Russia's activity, the NATO military alliance has recently expanded its own military operations. Several NATO nations and Sweden, which is not part of the alliance, conducted anti-submarine naval drills in the North Sea on Monday to test ...
Reuters: NATO starts anti-submarine drills in North Sea as Russia tensions riseKyiv Post
​The Russians aren't coming! How & why hawks hype 'threat' to Baltic StatesRT
Lithuania Arrests Russian Suspected Of SpyingRadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
Firstpost -The Daily Star
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NATO Forces Launch Largest Anti-Submarine Exercises Ever Off Norway Coast - NPR (blog)

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NPR (blog)

NATO Forces Launch Largest Anti-Submarine Exercises Ever Off Norway Coast
NPR (blog)
This year's annual exercise comes amid rising concerns by NATO that Russia could employ the same tactics in the three Baltic states — Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia — that it used in Ukraine. The three small countries rely on the Nordic countries for ...
NATO Starts Anti Submarine Exercise in North Sea as Russia Tensions RiseThe Moscow Times
NATO begins largest anti-submarine exercises ever in the North SeaWorld Socialist Web Site

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NATO, Russia flex military muscles - Washington Post

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NATORussia flex military muscles
Washington Post
May 5, 2015 11:56 AM EDT - Amid rising regional tensions, Russia prepared for its May 9 Victory Parade, while NATO held anti-submarine exercises in the North Sea. (Reuters). RELATED LINKS. STORY: NATO to briefly move command HQ to Romania from ...

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Russia Updates National Security Strategy To Respond To 'New Emerging ... - International Business Times

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International Business Times

Russia Updates National Security Strategy To Respond To 'New Emerging ...
International Business Times
Last year, NATO revamped its rapid reaction force to counter what it called Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. Russia called the force, which is designed for a full deployment within 48 hours, a provocation. Patrushev specifically mentioned NATO's ...

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Royal Navy and Nato launch BIGGEST EVER war games on Russia's borders - Express.co.uk

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Express.co.uk

Royal Navy and Nato launch BIGGEST EVER war games on Russia's borders
Express.co.uk
The traditional training mission off the coast of Norway, which will see Nato forces approach and target ships to simulate attacks, comes just weeks after reports of Russian submarines in the waters off Europe. Last month Latvia claims it detected a ... 
NATO Conducts Anti-Submarine Exercises in North Sea as Russian Activity ...VICE News
NATO Launches Military Drills On Russia's DoorstepValueWalk
Militarization of The Baltic Sea: Phantom Russian Sub Hunts Gave Birth to ...Center for Research on Globalization
Venture Capital Post-Aberdeen Press and Journal
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NATO Launches Military Drills On Russia's Doorstep - ValueWalk

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ValueWalk

NATO Launches Military Drills On Russia's Doorstep
ValueWalk
Russia and NATO have been flexing their military-power muscles for a while now, but this time it is something big. NATO has launched its large-scale military drills in Europe amid growing Vladimir Putin's military aggression. These war games will ...

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Pentagon considered stopping intercepts of Russian aircraft - CNN

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CNN

Pentagon considered stopping intercepts of Russian aircraft
CNN
NATO jets scrambled more than 400 times in 2014 for Russian intercepts. The U.S. is continuing the longstanding practice of only intercepting some Russian flights, based on where the Russians are flying. If they remain far off the coastline, the U.S ...

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European War Games: Responses to Russian Military Drills - STRATFOR

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STRATFOR

European War Games: Responses to Russian Military Drills
STRATFOR
Several events have coincided to demonstrate the dynamic, if not guarded, relationship betweenRussia and the Nordic and Baltic states. Ten NATO countries and Sweden launched a two-week planned exercise in the North Sea on May 4 to improve their ...

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ISIS-Inspired John Thomas Booker Jr. Charged in Kansas Military Bomb Plot - NBCNews.com

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NBCNews.com

ISIS-Inspired John Thomas Booker Jr. Charged in Kansas Military Bomb Plot
NBCNews.com
American-based ISIS wannabes who have been arrested over the past two years were drawn in by the utopian fantasy of an Islamic caliphate and not necessarily a desire to commit terrorist acts on U.S. soil, a new study has found. The survey by Fordham ...
Second Person Arrested in Connection to Military Attack PlotKXXV News Channel 25

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The Texas ISIS attack was not averted owing to US “human intelligence” deficit

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The two gunmen who Sunday, May 3, tried - and failed - to shoot up an exhibit of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, northeast of Dallas, sounded a wakeup call for US counter-terrorism agencies - even before the Islamic State warned that this first attack on US soil would not be its last. Both homegrown Islamist terrorists were shot dead. But the incident betrayed the “human intelligence” weakness of US and Western agencies – a shortage of undercover agents to mingle in communities which may produce terrorists.

Tehran holds captured cargo ship to ransom

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If the Danish owners of the MNV Maersk Tigris cargo ship, seized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards navy last week, fail to pay up $10 million, the ship and its cargo will be put on the market for sale, said the managers of the Pars Tala’eyeh Oil Produces Company in Tehran Tuesday. DEBKAfile: Iran broke the law of the sea by seizing a cargo ship in international waters. However, Washington is not making a fuss so as not to put a spoke in the wheel of nuclear negotiations.

The Not-So-Special Relationship | Washington Free Beacon

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Ed Miliband
Ed Miliband / AP
BY: Daniel Wiser 
The leaders of both major political parties in the British general election on Thursday have indicated that they would shirk an active role in addressing international security issues, marking a further decline in a once robust defense alliance with the United States, analysts say.
In a rare foreign policy speech last month, Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party, criticized David Cameron, the Conservative prime minister, for having “presided over the biggest loss of influence for our country in a generation.” Cameron is perceived as having largely focused on domestic issues as prime minister while subordinating the world’s pressing security crises. He accepted cuts to Britain’s defense budget in order to lower the deficit, was absent from the Minsk negotiations in February regarding Ukraine’s conflict with Russia, and was slow to support the United States in striking the Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq.
Yet Miliband himself is unlikely to be more assertive on foreign affairs if Labour is able to form a ruling coalition. When asked earlier this year whether he would be tough enough to pressure President Vladimir Putin of Russia on the Kremlin’s support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, he responded “Hell, yes” and cited his resistance to another world leader—President Barack Obama. He helped sink a 2013 proposal in Parliament to launch airstrikes in Syria against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime with the United States, which also backed out after congressional opposition.
Analysts in Washington say they are pessimistic that either Cameron or Miliband will recommit to what was formerly known as Britain’s “special relationship” with the United States.
“The real danger is both are likely to not put a priority on keeping the special relationship all that special,” said Gary Schmitt, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who researches Europe and security issues. “The cuts in Britain’s military have left its conventional forces in such a small state that they are no longer thought to be, sort of, your natural partner.”
Britain has joined most other NATO countries in reducing its defense spending over recent years. While it currently meets the NATO target of spending 2 percent of its GDP on the military, that might not last for long. The Royal United Services Institute projects that Britain could spend just 1.7 percent of its GDP on defense by 2020. Such a low figure would hamper Britain’s ability to continue the close military ties it has had with the United States since World War II, Schmitt said.
Russia, by contrast, has boosted its defense expenditures to more than 4 percent of GDP, according to World Bank data. Putin appears intent on using that military advantage to serve his interests. The Kremlin illegally annexed the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine in March 2014 and has since supported an insurgency in the eastern part of the country, sparking a war that has claimed more than 6,000 lives.
Neither Britain nor the European Union (EU) are prepared to take a harder line against Russia for its destabilization of Ukraine, said Tom Rogan, a Washington-based writer for London’s Daily Telegraph. EU officials, including representatives from London, recently urged Ukraine to uphold its commitments in the Minsk ceasefire agreement and to avoid giving Russia an excuse to escalate its support for the separatists. However, the officials admit that the Kremlin has committed more blatant violations of the Minsk accord than Ukraine.
U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO’s top commander, said last month that the Russian-backed separatists appear to preparing for a new offensive in eastern Ukraine.
Rogan said Britain and the EU have been “very selfish” in their lack of efforts to aid Ukraine and deter Russia.
“The Europeans have become accustomed to the United States subsidizing their social welfare states by taking the role as guarantor of their security,” he said. He added that Britain has been reluctant to challenge Russian elites who hold significant assets in London and provide capital to the British economy.
Other domestic issues could prompt Britain’s next prime minister to turn his focus inward. Cameron has promised to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership in the EU by the end of 2017 if his party wins. The referendum fight could occupy a large portion of Cameron’s time in the next two years should he prevail.
Neither the Conservative Party nor the Labour Party is expected to attain more than a third of votes on Thursday, making protracted negotiations to form a governing coalition likely.
If Miliband gains the upper hand, he might have to partner with the Scottish National Party (SNP) to form a ruling coalition. The SNP favors breaking Scotland apart from the United Kingdom and scrapping Britain’s nuclear defense program—divisive issues that would further divert the prime minister’s attention from foreign affairs and alienate Britain from the United States.
Miliband has also expressed support for recognizing a Palestine state—another position at odds with longstanding U.S. policy.
Schmitt said the United States also deserves some blame for its growing detachment from Britain on defense issues. Obama signaled early in his presidency that “these transatlantic ties are probably less important than in the past” when he returned a bust of Winston Churchill to the British ambassador to the United States, Schmitt said.
“It’s somewhat of a pox on both houses,” he said. “Europe isn’t doing enough and the Obama administration doesn’t seem to care.”
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INFORMATION WARFARE: The Phony War With China

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Obama weighs giving Riyadh bunker buster bombs

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US Secretary of State John Kerry was set to offer Saudi Arabia GBU-28 bunker buster bombs during his visit Wednesday and Thursday to Riyadh. Washington has so far only been willing to provide Israel with those weapons. Kerry’s mission is to ease regional fears over the nuclear deal shaping up with Iran by the June 30 deadline – ahead of the Gulf summit convened by President Obama at Camp David on May 13. However, Saudi leaders, like the rest of the Sunni Arab world, doubt whether the deal will stop Tehran acquiring a nuclear bomb.
Washington is leading the discussion to set up a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) to shield the Gulf nations and their oil resources.

News you may have missed #892 (legislative update)

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Canadian lawmakers vote to expand spy powers. Danish spy chief resigns over Islamist attacks. OSCE urges France to reconsider controversial spying bill.
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IS Group Losses Resulting in Self-Styled Caliphates

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Fighting on several fronts against multiple foes, the Islamic State militant group is showing signs of strain and, as a result, tribesmen and locals in towns it controls are enlisting locals to fight in self-styled caliphates, according to activists and local residents in northern Syrian towns.

US Intel Officials Cautious About New IS Threat

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A bold, new threat by an alleged American member of the Islamic State terror group has U.S. intelligence officials taking notice, although so far there seems to be little to back it up.

ISIS jihadi linked to Garland attack has long history as hacker - CNN

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CNN

ISIS jihadi linked to Garland attack has long history as hacker
CNN
From these sources, the portrait emerges of a dangerous hacker and influential recruiter who's able to crack online banking security systems and who has demonstrated on occasion a zany sense of humor, once dressing up as a Power Ranger and wielding a ...
ISIS Hacker Linked to Garland Terror Attack Warns: “You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet”…PJ Media

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Megyn Kelly: If This Is Where We Stand On Free Speech, 'the Jihadis Are Officially Winning'

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Fox News Channel host Megyn Kelly responded to much of the criticism of the Mohammed Art Exhibit and Contest by saying, “If this is where American sentiment stands on this issue, then the jihadis are officially winning” on Wednesday.
Kelly said that the participants in and organizers of the event “were trying to make a point about intolerance by some in the Muslim world, and about principles on which the USA is supposed to stand firm. Namely, that no matter how abhorrent one might find another’s words, in this country, we defend their right to say them. Standing up for that principle is not an endorsement of the controversial speech. It is promoting a value at the very core of who we are. The group holding this contest was not on TV shouting its message. It was holding a private event behind closed doors to make a point about liberty.”
She continued, “Sure enough, the jihadis responded and were shot dead by a quick-reacting police officer on scene. Incredibly, what has happened in the days since is a rush to condemn the event organizers with nary a mention of the radical Islamists who sought to murder them over a cartoon… Over the last 72 hours, we have heard the event organizers condemned for being too provocative, too stupid, even for inviting their own attempted murder.”
Kelly concluded, “If this is where American sentiment stands on this issue, then the jihadis are officially winning. The terrorists’ point was to shut us up, not just the organizers of this event, but any American who deigns to disagree with their way of life or thinking. There may be a time and place to discuss whether this kind of discourse is helpful to our country, to our fight with the jihadis, and so on. But within hours of an attempted murder of the very folks under attack? The reaction is, ‘Well, you asked for it.’ Well, they did not ask for it. In this country, we have every right to say what we want to say about Mohammed, or anyone else for that matter. And the rest of society can condemn this group’s speech as a matter of decorum, but how about waiting a beat until the crime scene has been cleared? Lest we appear more concerned about offending Islam than we are about a fundamental pledge we’ve all taken, namely liberty for all.”
Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter: @IanHanchett

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