Monthly Archives: May 2013

Weapon System Designs Compromised “By Hackers”

I have no idea how, allegedly, Chinese hackers may have compromised weapon designs — it makes no sense how our defenses would be so easily violated:

Designs for many of the nation’s most sensitive advanced weapons systems have been compromised by Chinese hackers, according to a report prepared for the Pentagon and to officials from government and the defense industry.

Among more than two dozen major weapons systems whose designs were breached were programs critical to U.S. missile defenses and combat aircraft and ships, according to a previously undisclosed section of a confidential report prepared for Pentagon leaders by the Defense Science Board.

Experts warn that the electronic intrusions gave China access to advanced technology that could accelerate the development of its weapons systems and weaken the U.S. military advantage in a future conflict.

The Defense Science Board, a senior advisory group made up of government and civilian experts, did not accuse the Chinese of stealing the designs. But senior military and industry officials with knowledge of the breaches said the vast majority were part of a widening Chinese campaign of espionage against U.S. defense contractors and government agencies.

The significance and extent of the targets help explain why the Obama administration has escalated its warnings to the Chinese government to stop what Washington sees as rampant cyber­theft.

In January, the advisory panel warned in the public version of its report that the Pentagon is unprepared to counter a full-scale cyber-conflict. The list of compromised weapons designs is contained in a confidential version, and it was provided to The Washington Post.

Some of the weapons form the backbone of the Pentagon’s regional missile defense for Asia, Europe and the Persian Gulf. The designs included those for the advanced Patriot missile system, known as PAC-3; an Army system for shooting down ballistic missiles, known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD; and the Navy’s Aegis ballistic-missile defense system.

Also identified in the report are vital combat aircraft and ships, including the F/A-18 fighter jet, the V-22 Osprey, the Black Hawk helicopter and the Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ship, which is designed to patrol waters close to shore.

Also on the list is the most expensive weapons system ever built — the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is on track to cost about $1.4 trillion. The 2007 hack of that project was reported previously.

Washington Post

The general ineptitude of the government to allow these breaches  must be high — no doubt, shortsightedness and illogical bureaucracies have undermined and plagued US Defense for years not to mention the inability of the government to ever pull the trigger on anything, as such is oft the flaw of burgeoning bureaus.

I highly doubt that this is work solely done through hacking and if it was, even in part, done by hackers it would only make sense if they had inside men going about it. The idea of just being able to use mass communications to stumble upon this is absurd.

Something far more nefarious lurks.

Military Suicides Continue

A particularly horrible series of statistics:

Amid a raft of Pentagon initiatives to slow its suicide crisis, a new Army report Thursday showed the pace of self-inflicted deaths among soldiers — and all service members — has barely budged so far this year from the record rate the military suffered during 2012.

Through April, the U.S. military has recorded 161 potential suicides in 2013 among active-duty troops, reservists and National Guard members — a pace of one suicide about every 18 hours. The Army, the largest contingent of the armed forces, sustained 109 reported suicides during the first four months, according its latest report.

Last year, when self-inflicted military deaths outstripped the number of troops killed in combat, there was one suicide every 17 hours among all active-duty, reserve and National Guard members, according to figures gathered from each branch.

“We are still continuing to fight this problem with the same intensiveness,” said Cynthia O. Smith, a Pentagon spokeswoman. “We are still focused on preventing suicides from occurring in the Department of Defense. We are doing everything we can to ensure that service members are getting the proper health care they need to prevent this type of event from happening.

NBC

I remember that in the last period of my military service this was something that was particularly happening a lot — the interventions and interruptions in regular service to have us receive speeches about mental health. And so be it. It is good that I can say, first hand, that I witnessed the Army doing everything it could to help improve the mental health of Soldiers.

Ironically, the deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan have gotten less demanding and the general quality of life is going up. Whatever is causing the suicides might be a mere generational shift in the way that people are behaving.

I’ve consistently heard that the new Soldiers are less disciplined and that many NCOs have not even been given the proper authority to do what they need to discipline them — instead, there is a lot of jumbled and half ass attempts to cover what is going on. I should probably take some time to ask some of my friends still in the know about the occurrences going on in the military surrounding this — I would certainly like an update.

Boy Scouts Lift Gay Ban

A rather interesting decision:

(Reuters) – The Boy Scouts of America voted on Thursday to lift a century-old ban on openly gay scouts in a major victory for gay rights activists, but the decision means a sea of change for an organization that depends heavily on faith-based groups.

More than 60 percent of the group’s National Council, comprised of some 1,400 delegates, voted in favor of ending the ban, effective January 1, 2014, the group said in a statement. A prohibition on openly gay adult leaders remains in place.

The decision followed weeks of intense lobbying by gay rights activists and members of conservative organizations, many of them church groups that have traditionally formed the backbone of one of the nation’s largest youth organizations.

Reuters

While the ban on openly gay scout leaders is in place, this lift in general could be viewed both as a compromise and as a defeat for the gay rights lobby as they actually haven’t gotten the organization to admit that openly gay people can be role models.

But this could have major negative impacts on the Scouts, as a whole, who do refuse huge backing from the religious. Just as such, it would have been foolish for the Cardinals to choose a Pope which was liberal and openly pro-homosexual as the overwhelming majority of their supporters are not, and the ones that are do not make up a sizable demographic of staunch supporters.

Likewise, appeasing liberalism in a fundamentally conservative institution… I’m not sure if that is going to be a good long term strategy for anyone.

하시모토 ‘한국군도 베트남에서 성매매’

내가 처음으로 영어 계시판에서 이 사건에 대해 들었다. 그 때도 하시모토가 이렇게 말하고 있는 지를 이해할 수 없었고 얼마나 바보스럽다. 미국인과 다른 서양인들도 이 것을 읽었을 때 “쇼킹”이라고 했다.

이런 미친 말을 계속하는 하시모토가 지금 다른 전쟁의 공포적인 사건을 지적하고 있다:

연일 위안부와 관련한 망언을 쏟아내고 있는 하시모토 도루 일본 유신회 공동대표가 자신의 발언을 희석하기 위해 베트남전에 참전한 한국군까지 끌어들였습니다.

일본 언론에 따르면 하시모토 대표는 어젯밤 유신회 행사에 참석한 자리에서 “전쟁터의 성문제로 여성을 이용했던 일본도 나빴다”고 전제한 뒤 “2차 대전 이후 베트남전에서 한국군이든 모두가 전쟁터의 성문제로 여성을 이용하지 않았냐”고 반문했습니다.

하시모토 대표는 또 ‘위안부가 당시에 필요했다’는 자신의 망언을 철회하지 않겠다는 입장을 재확인한 뒤 “일본인이 의식을 갖게 되었기 때문에, 좋은 방향으로 가면 된다”며 “한일 관계가 더욱더 성숙해지면 좋겠다”고 말했습니다 (.고은상 gotostorm@mbc.co.kr  )

MBC뉴스

물론 모든 전쟁에는 잔혹한 사건이 일어난다. 그렇지만 여기서 문제점은일본의 역사적 보기에는 한국은 식민지 이여서 서로 전투하는 것이 아니였다. “평화롭다”고 생각하는 일본인이 많아서 어떻게 계속 한국의 여성을 위안부로 시킬 수 있나? 모순적인 일이라고 생각한다.

또 한, 영어 속담이 있는데 “악이 두 개 있어도 선이 되는 것이 아니다.” (인터넷에서 다른 번역이 보일 수 있는데 사실은 이번에는 이렇게 번역하면 제일 좋다. 나의 한국어가 완벽하지 않아서 죄송한다!).  

그리고 우리가 다른 군대와 일본군의 차이점을 알아야한다. 베트남에서 미군, 한국군, 호주군등등 성매매 문제가 개인적인 것이였다. 개별적인 군인이 창녀촌에 갔으니까 이런 일이 있었다. 일본군은 공식적으로 여성의 위엄성을 위반했고 성매매 직원으로 시켜서 얼마나 다른 일이 이잖나? 또 한, 일본군 사령관이 위안부가 만들어서 공식적으로 이 행동을 인정해서 지속적으로 찬성하는 것이다.

이 두 사건이 매우 다르고 이렇게 사건을 희석하는 것이 이치에 맞지 않다.

Obama Clamping Down On Leaks

This is the sort of thing that one would almost expect to hear the liberal media accusing a conservative administration of — and something that, as a conservative, I would not be that surprised to find out that they were guilty of — but apparently the whatever Obama is doing is enough to get people criticizing him:

WASHINGTON–The Obama administration hasn’t prosecuted journalists for obtaining or publishing classified information, but open government and journalism advocates say the Justice Department’s aggressive investigative methods of classified leaks by government officials are having a chilling effect on news organizations’ ability to play a watchdog role.

The renewed criticism of the Obama administration comes following new revelations that federal authorities secretly obtained the e-mails and tracked the movements of Fox News reporter James Rosen as part of an ongoing investigation of former State Department analyst Stephen Kim, who is charged with leaking a classified report on North Korea.

The Justice Department is also under fire for secretly obtaining phone records from 20 phone lines used by Associated Press journalists earlier this year as part of a separate leak investigation.

But the monitoring of the Fox News reporter, which was unsealed in court documents in 2011 but went unnoticed until a Washington Post report published Sunday, marks a startling expansion on the war on leaks by the administration, according to some free press advocates.

Gregg Leslie, legal director for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said documents filed in support of search warrant in a leak prosecution involving Kim marks the first time a reporter has been classified as an unindicted co-conspirator or a participant in an alleged crime for seeking information.

USA Today

Perhaps there is simply a pressure that the Obama administration faces in an amateurish attempt to control information that is just not working out at all and now they are becoming embarrassed. I assume that much of the information that traditionally has been leaked was intended to be leaked — or why else would it be tolerated by many of the past governments? These people are not incompetent. But perhaps someone in the Obama administration really just isn’t doing their job so well.

I think one of the mistakes many people make in the reading and the understanding of stories like this is the thought that these things occur almost in a sort of vacuum. But, in reality, there is an entire culture behind leaks and very clear guidelines on what can and should be said to the media — when this is breached, all hell can potentially break loose for the administration.

Ironically, I suspect this might affect liberal administrations more than conservative ones for the fact that the conservatives are more likely to hire other ideologues that have a greater ideological commitment on certain fronts. That is to say that there is more unity amongst Republicans to their administration overall than there are amongst Democrats. I even once heard a Lawyer friend of mine describe the Democrats as being defined simply by being not Republican.

While Republicanism embraces a whole lot of different stripes of conservative (a fact many are not sensitive about) it certainly does seem that there is some more ideological cohesion and thus perhaps a smaller amount of potential leaks and issues.

The IRS Scandal

While I am quite busy with a dozen other things one thing that I have been overlooking and meant to write about is right here:

As President Obama denounced the IRS’s ‘‘inexcusable’’ actions last week and lawmakers of both parties lined up on Friday to accuse it of an array of misconduct, everything seemed so clear: The nation’s tax agency had deliberately targeted conservative activists, violating the public trust — and perhaps the law.

While there are still many gaps in the story of how the IRS scandal happened, interviews with current and former employees and lawyers who dealt with them, along with a review of IRS documents, paint a more muddled picture of an understaffed Cincinnati outpost alienated from the broader IRS culture and provided with little direction.

Overseen by a revolving cast of midlevel managers, stalled by miscommunication with IRS lawyers and executives in Washington, and confused about the rules they were enforcing, the Cincinnati specialists flagged virtually every application with Tea Party in its name.

But their review went beyond conservative groups: More than 400 organizations came under scrutiny, including at least two dozen liberal-leaning ones and some that were seemingly apolitical.

Over three years, as the office struggled with a growing caseload of advocacy groups seeking tax exemptions, responsibility for the cases moved from one group of specialists to another, and the Determinations Unit, which handles all nonprofit applications, was reorganized.

Boston Globe

There are a number of ways that one can potentially start painting the picture — one of which there was a deliberate, highly organized attempt to ruin the tax exemption status of right wing organizations and potentially go further and launch almost a biased auditing of them. However, a lot of effort is also being put into portraying it as a total mix up.

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle — overzealous midlevel management attempting to become politically influential or some such, or just harboring such a strong hatred so as to mess with the applications of these people. Regardless, it will be remembered as one of the many embarrassments of the Obama administration that when it is not pleasing conservatives through their hawkish foreign policy is actively making a fool of themselves on the general security of the nation.

While this is a mid-level phenomenon, I think it is important to remember that this is what conservatives (and even liberals) will face in the coming years: increased anger and hatred towards one another with a rapidly polarizing United States (and NATO as a whole). The internet has only served to fan a lot of the hatreds which people have one another, so it would seem, resulting in mix ups along these lines that are complete embarrassments to any large bureaucracy which strives to appear to be objective and credible.

US Shale Oil Supply Shock Shifts Global Economy

Big news for anyone who has even a passing interest in economics and the environment — but it is something that we have to digest a bit:

Shale oil production adds economic value, but critics say the costs to the environment are also large
A steeper-than-expected rise in US shale oil reserves is about to change the global balance of power between new and existing producers, a report says.

Over the next five years, the US will account for a third of new oil supplies, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The US will change from the world’s leading importer of oil to a net exporter.

Demand for oil from Middle-East oil producers is set to slow as a result.

“North America has set off a supply shock that is sending ripples throughout the world,” said IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven.

The surge in US production will reshape the whole industry, according to the IEA, which made the prediction in its closely-watched bi-annual report examining trends in oil supply and demand over the next five years.

The IEA said it expected the US to overtake Russia as the world’s biggest gas producer by 2015 and to become “all but self-sufficient” in its energy needs by about 2035.

The rise in US production means the world’s reliance on oil from traditional oil producing countries in the Middle East, which make up Opec (the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries), would end soon, according to the report.

BBC

This could really change a lot — I wonder how long we have known about the potential for this massive shift?

The impact on the ME and on the environment could be huge as we can now prolong our petrol based economy as well as cause the overall price of oil to go down. Of course, the ramifications are huge in both directions and it would be most appropriate to just stop and digest this…