A bit delayed on this edition. I’ve been moving the last few days. It’s a pain in the butt. And it doesn’t get easier with age or with the number of moves made in my lifetime. Suffice it to say I’ve traded a great lake view for a great mountain view. So things have gotten a bit behind. Plus I had to wait until today to get my internet installed. I know – excuses will be listened to, but not tolerated!
US Companies Providing Russians with Security Source Code
We have known for quite some time the Russians are employing every possible cyber tactic to undermine US computer systems, establish hacker networks and steal millions of dollars on a recurring basis. So where are they getting some of the most critical product security secrets you might ask? From the very companies developing the software. Cisco, IBM and SAP have all acknowledged and acceded to the demands by Russia to review source code for security products such as firewalls, anti-virus applications and software containing encryption before permitting these products to be imported to and sold in Russia. This, according to Reuters, has been going on for quite some time and those requests have increased since 2014. Supposedly these requests are done to ensure foreign spy agencies have not hidden and “backdoors” that would allow them to borrow into Russian computer systems. But in doing so Russian inspectors have the opportunity to find vulnerabilities in products’ source code and instructions that control both basic and advanced operations of computer equipment. While a number of U.S. firms say they are playing ball to preserve their entree to Russia’s huge tech market, at least one U.S. firm, Symantec, told Reuters it has stopped cooperating with the source code reviews over security concerns. That halt has not been previously reported. Symantec said one of the labs inspecting its products was not independent enough from the Russian government. U.S. officials say they have warned firms about the risks of allowing the Russians to review their products’ source code, because of fears it could be used in cyber attacks. But they say they have no legal authority to stop the practice unless the technology has restricted military applications or violates U.S. sanctions. (photo above left is the Russian Security Service Building). From their side, companies say they are under pressure to acquiesce to the demands from Russian regulators or risk being shut out of a lucrative market. The companies say they only allow Russia to review their source code in secure facilities that prevent code from being copied or altered. I wish I were making this up. My recommendation – don’t sell them anything – let ’em rot.
It’s been reported some of you are not receiving the notification message announcing there is FOD to pick up. If that’s the case, try deleting your history and your cookies. I’m told if you receive recurring messages on a company computer in particular, it deletes my message or sends it to junk mail. You may find in there as well.
China Launches New Aircraft Carrier
As mentioned in the last edition of FOD, China was ready and has now launched their first domestically designed and built aircraft carrier on Wednesday, April 26th The launch came three days after the 68th anniversary of the Peoples’ Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) at a shipyard in the port of Dalian, in the northeastern Liaoning province. It’s conventionally powered with steam catapults and a 12° ski jump take-off ramp and four arresting gear wires. The Type 001A carrier has not yet been named. Maybe there’s a mail-in contest for the name, like the Pandas. Their next carrier, the Type 002, is expected to launch in 2021. Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr., USN, the Commander, United States Pacific Command (USPACOM), who testified before Congress on April 27th, believes China intends to challenge free access to the South China Sea. “In my opinion China is clearly militarizing the South China Sea,” Harris told the Senate Armed Services Committee in February 2016. “You’d have to believe in a flat earth to believe otherwise.” “China is creating a great wall of sand, with dredges and bulldozers, over the course of months,” Harris told the audience at a conference in Australia. “When one looks at China’s pattern of provocative actions towards smaller claimant states — the lack of clarity on its sweeping nine-dash line claim that is inconsistent with international law and the deep asymmetry between China’s capabilities and those of its smaller neighbors — well, it’s no surprise that the scope and pace of building man-made islands raise serious questions about Chinese intentions.” ADM Harris is a 1978 graduate of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. Harris is the U.S. Navy’s current “Old Goat” – the longest-serving Naval Academy graduate on active duty. He is also the Navy’s current “Gray Owl” – the Naval Flight Officer on active duty who has held this designation the longest period. Harris took command of USPACOM on May 27, 2015. “We are obliged to defend South Korea by a treaty,” Adm. Harry Harris, head of U.S. Pacific Command, told lawmakers just today April 27, 2017. “They have a very strong and capable military, as we do. But if we’re going to defend them or if we’re going to fight with them on the peninsula then we have to be able to integrate with their military, we have to be able to work with their military, we have to understand their military and vice versa.” China believes the exercises destabilize the situation with North Korea and that if the U.S. curtailed them the Kim Jong-Un regime might agree to deescalate. But Harris said the exercises should continue so the U.S. can fulfill its treaty obligations.
I think the comments section is working. Try it out! I’ve done an update to this post and you should have receive your email notification of a new post on April 14.
FOD Regarding Tillerson’s Mission to Moscow
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s mission to Moscow is not likely to yield substantive changes in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s support of Bashar al-Assad and the current Syrian regime. Despite US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley’s and Tillerson’s assertions Moscow was complicit in the allegednerve gas attack, or inept at fulfilling their earlier international promise to remove these chemical weapons from Syrian hands, the balance of power remains about the same. The Trump administration has accused Moscow of attempting to help cover up Assad’s use of chemical weapons. Assad and his allies continue to gain ground in Idlib province and to make gains in the critical corridor between Damascus and the Mediterranean Sea. I don’t believe Putin will see any need to change his long term strategies of one; continued and expanded access to a warm water port on the Mediterranean they now have at Russian naval base in Tartus and two; increasing Russia’s great-power status. The Fireball opinion is the latter is the more important to Putin. Additionally Putin shares concerns with Assad in containing Islamic extremism, lest it spread to Russian Muslim regions. Putin would likely point to the large number of Chechen jihadist fighting in Syria as proof. His strategy of containment hinges on Assad staying in power. And likewise sees all of those aligned with Assad’s opposition/removal as obstacles to Putin’s containment strategy, along with the warm water port. As long as the largely Sunni jihadis are waging war on Assad, the threat to Russian territories is reduced. Over the years, the US attempts to isolate Iran have allowed ever increasing military and intelligence ties between Russia and Iran. We have seen over the last few years Iran create formidable forces of Shia militias and fighters spring up across the Arab world, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Pakistan and Afghanistan, all trained by and directed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards with help from Russia. Our limited strike can be looked at as a limited – one-off event or a fundamental change in US strategy in the Middle East. Indeed Putin would like to see it as an isolated event. Any broader American initiative to force regime change in Syria diminishes Russia’s role in the conflict, endangers their warm-water port interests and would be seen as a personal defeat for Putin.
I’ve made some format changes. I’m of the hope the comments and subscription features will now function correctly. It’s still a work in progress and I’m a bit adverse to work these days.
Assad – You’re Fired – Update
Announcing the targeted missile strikes on at Shayrat Airfield in Syria has been viewed as a good first step in dealing with the Syrian civil war by most US Government officials, foreign governments and the news media. All aspects of the operation appear to have come off well.
Precision weapon utilization minimized collateral damage, Russian military commanders were notified in advance, no manned US aircraft were involved (no aircraft/pilots risked), US troops were not in harm’s way and the BDA (Bomb Damage Assessment) points to specific targets associated with the nerve gas attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province were eliminated. Now comes the hard part – putting forth an international diplomatic effort aimed at removing Assad from power. Assad and in effect Russia (I would venture to say Assad does nothing without Putin knowing) having crossed ‘the line the sand’ once again has seen ‘there’s that new sheriff in town.’ Criticism will come from many asking why this nerve gas attack is suddenly more horrific than Assad’s previous attacks on civilians , women and children, hospitals, using thousands of high explosive barrel bombs, so as to change US policy in Syria. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “Through the Geneva process, we will start a political process to resolve Syria’s future in terms of its governance structure and that ultimately, in our view will lead to a resolution of Bashar al Assad’s departure.” A successful Syrian strategy will involve many players with differing agendas. It was uniquely poignant to have Xi Jinping dining with President Trump as events were unfolding in Syria.
It points to President Trump’s willingness to use military force when American interests are at stake, not only in Syria, but North Korea and those Chinese actions in the South China Sea. As might have been expected, I now see where the Russians are planning on sending a ship to the eastern Mediterranean and Congress is calling for an explanation of the Trump long-term strategy for Syria. Tillerson has a difficult task ahead of his upcoming visit to Russia, where he is unofficially scheduled to meet with Putin.
March 23rd is National Puppy Day. And it’s Spring, so it’s the perfect time to adopt a puppy. Words of advice: select a breed that best suits your personality and living arrangements; be available to give your new puppy training in guidance the first few weeks; make sure he/she gets their shots; feed your pup a high quality DOG food (not people food)(it’s better for them), and of course have you pup spayed or neutered.
Adopt a puppy from your local shelter, rescue or pure breed rescue organization. Breeders who breed ‘show quality’ dogs sometimes have older puppies (around a year old) who didn’t mature in champion quality dogs.
Donate money, food or toys to your local shelter
Support initiatives to ban puppy mills in your locale.