Contains selective news articles I select

Archive for December, 2011

Airport security extends strike in Paris

PARIS, Dec. 26 (UPI) — Airport security staff at Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris have agreed to extend a strike that authorities say has had little impact on flight schedules.

An airport spokesman said flights were running on time on Monday, Radio France Internationale reported.

About 200 security staff, however, voted to extend their strike over pay issues.

Police were assigned to the airport after French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared the holiday travel would not be “taken hostage,” by the strike.

The government would take “all necessary measures” to keep the airport running smoothly, Sarkozy said.

Source: United Press International (UPI).
Link: http://www.upi.com/Business_News/2011/12/26/Airport-security-extends-strike-in-Paris/UPI-34401324914640/.

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White whale rescue operation suspended

ANADYR, Russia, Dec. 26 (UPI) — An operation to rescue dozens of white whales trapped in ice off Russia’s Chukotka Peninsula was suspended Monday because of weather conditions, officials say.

Officials said a rescue tug boat headed to the area Friday after fishermen working in the Bering Sea reported seeing about 100 whales trapped in ice Dec. 13, RIA Novosti reported.

The tug boat, which failed to make it through the ice, is heading to the port of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to refuel, Lubomir Mukha said.

“If the weather and ice conditions in the area improve, the operation may continue,” Mukha said.

Holes in the ice allow the whales to breathe easily, but they are still in danger as food in the area dwindles.

Experts from the Chukotka Fishery Research Center said there is enough food in the Sinyavinsky channel to feed the whales at least until January.

Source: United Press International (UPI).
Link: http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2011/12/26/White-whale-rescue-operation-suspended/UPI-70141324913902/.

‘Anonymous’ hackers target US security think tank

By CASSANDRA VINOGRAD and RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI | AP
Sun, Dec 25, 2011

LONDON (AP) — The loose-knit hacking movement “Anonymous” claimed Sunday to have stolen thousands of credit card numbers and other personal information belonging to clients of U.S.-based security think tank Stratfor. One hacker said the goal was to pilfer funds from individuals’ accounts to give away as Christmas donations, and some victims confirmed unauthorized transactions linked to their credit cards.

Anonymous boasted of stealing Stratfor’s confidential client list, which includes entities ranging from Apple Inc. to the U.S. Air Force to the Miami Police Department, and mining it for more than 4,000 credit card numbers, passwords and home addresses.

Austin, Texas-based Stratfor provides political, economic and military analysis to help clients reduce risk, according to a description on its YouTube page. It charges subscribers for its reports and analysis, delivered through the web, emails and videos. The company’s main website was down, with a banner saying the “site is currently undergoing maintenance.”

Proprietary information about the companies and government agencies that subscribe to Stratfor’s newsletters did not appear to be at any significant risk, however, with the main threat posed to individual employees who had subscribed.

“Not so private and secret anymore?” Anonymous taunted in a message on Twitter, promising that the attack on Stratfor was just the beginning of a Christmas-inspired assault on a long list of targets.

Anonymous said the client list it had already posted was a small slice of the 200 gigabytes worth of plunder it stole from Stratfor and promised more leaks. It said it was able to get the credit card details in part because Stratfor didn’t bother encrypting them — an easy-to-avoid blunder which, if true, would be a major embarrassment for any security-related company.

Fred Burton, Stratfor’s vice president of intelligence, said the company had reported the intrusion to law enforcement and was working with them on the investigation.

Stratfor has protections in place meant to prevent such attacks, he said.

“But I think the hackers live in this kind of world where once they fixate on you or try to attack you it’s extraordinarily difficult to defend against,” Burton said.

Hours after publishing what it claimed was Stratfor’s client list, Anonymous tweeted a link to encrypted files online with names, phone numbers, emails, addresses and credit card account details.

“Not as many as you expected? Worry not, fellow pirates and robin hoods. These are just the ‘A’s,” read a message posted online that encouraged readers to download a file of the hacked information.

The attack is “just another in a massive string of breaches we’ve seen this year and in years past,” said Josh Shaul, chief technology officer of Application Security Inc., a New York-based provider of database security software.

Still, companies that shared secret information with Stratfor in order to obtain threat assessments might worry that the information is among the 200 gigabytes of data that Anonymous claims to have stolen, he said.

“If an attacker is walking away with that much email, there might be some very juicy bits of information that they have,” Shaul said.

Lt. Col. John Dorrian, public affairs officer for the Air Force, said that “for obvious reasons” the Air Force doesn’t discuss specific vulnerabilities, threats or responses to them.

“The Air Force will continue to monitor the situation and, as always, take appropriate action as necessary to protect Air Force networks and information,” he said in an email.

Miami Police Department spokesman Sgt. Freddie Cruz Jr. said that he could not confirm that the agency was a client of Stratfor, and he said he had not received any information about a security breach involving the police department.

Anonymous also linked to images online that it suggested were receipts for charitable donations made by the group manipulating the credit card data it stole.

“Thank you! Defense Intelligence Agency,” read the text above one image that appeared to show a transaction summary indicating that an agency employee’s information was used to donate $250 to a non-profit.

One receipt — to the American Red Cross — had Allen Barr’s name on it.

Barr, of Austin, Texas, recently retired from the Texas Department of Banking and said he discovered last Friday that a total of $700 had been spent from his account. Barr, who has spent more than a decade dealing with cybercrime at banks, said five transactions were made in total.

“It was all charities, the Red Cross, CARE, Save the Children. So when the credit card company called my wife she wasn’t sure whether I was just donating,” said Barr, who wasn’t aware until a reporter with the AP called that his information had been compromised when Stratfor’s computers were hacked.

“It made me feel terrible. It made my wife feel terrible. We had to close the account.”

Wishing everyone a “Merry LulzXMas” — a nod to its spinoff hacking group Lulz Security — Anonymous also posted a link on Twitter to a site containing the email, phone number and credit number of a U.S. Homeland Security employee.

The employee, Cody Sultenfuss, said he had no warning before his details were posted.

“They took money I did not have,” he told The Associated Press in a series of emails, which did not specify the amount taken. “I think ‘Why me?’ I am not rich.”

But the breach doesn’t necessarily pose a risk to owners of the credit cards. A card user who suspects fraudulent activity on his or her card can contact the credit card company to dispute the charge.

Stratfor said in an email to members, signed by Stratfor Chief Executive George Friedman and passed on to AP by subscribers, that it had hired a “leading identity theft protection and monitoring service” on behalf of the Stratfor members affected by the attack. The company said it will send another email on services for affected members by Wednesday.

Stratfor acknowledged that an “unauthorized party” had revealed personal information and credit card data of some of its members.

The company had sent another email to subscribers earlier in the day saying it had suspended its servers and email after learning that its website had been hacked.

One member of the hacking group, who uses the handle AnonymousAbu on Twitter, claimed that more than 90,000 credit cards from law enforcement, the intelligence community and journalists — “corporate/exec accounts of people like Fox” News — had been hacked and used to “steal a million dollars” and make donations.

It was impossible to verify where credit card details were used. Fox News was not on the excerpted list of Stratfor members posted online, but other media organizations including MSNBC and Al-Jazeera English appeared in the file.

Anonymous warned it has “enough targets lined up to extend the fun fun fun of LulzXmas through the entire next week.”

The group has previously claimed responsibility for attacks on credit card companies Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc., eBay Inc.’s PayPal, as well as other groups in the music industry and the Church of Scientology.

____________

Plushnick-Masti reported from Houston. Associated Press writers Jennifer Kay in Miami and Daniel Wagner in Washington, D.C. also contributed to this report.

Iran’s Navy to Launch Second Modern Destroyer

2011-12-26

Iran’s Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said Sunday that the Iranian navy was constructing its second modern warship destroyer called Jamaran-2.

Talking to the official IRNA news agency, Sayyari said the destroyer, which enjoys capabilities in three areas of surface-to- air, surface-to-surface and sub-surface operations, will join the Iranian fleet soon.

The Jamaran-2 is also capable of offering fuel to helicopters, he said.

The Navy commander further noted that the Jamaran-1 warship destroyer is present in the Velayat-90 war games which are underway in Iran’s southern waters for a 10-day period.

The Iranian Navy launched a 10-day massive naval exercises in the international waters on Saturday.

The naval drills, dubbed Velayat 90, cover an area of 2,000 km stretching from the east of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden.

Different classes of submarines, including Tareq and Ghadir, the newest ground-to-sea missile systems and torpedoes will be employed in the maneuvers.

It is the first time the Iranian Navy carries out naval drills in such a vast area, Sayyari said at a press conference on Thursday.

Earlier this month, Parviz Sorouri, a member of the Iranian Majlis (parliament) National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said that Iran plans to practice its ability to close the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s most important passages for exports of crude oil and oil products from littoral states of the Persian Gulf.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said later that closing the Strait of Hormuz is not on Iran’s agenda since Iran believes in upholding the stability and peace of the region.

Source: CRIEnglish.
Link: http://english.cri.cn/6966/2011/12/26/2701s673192.htm.

Russian intelligence facilities attacked in Syria

23 December 2011

At least 40 people have been killed and over 100 injured as a result of bombings in Damascus. Lebanese TV channel Al-Manar reports that the explosions have been carried out by “martyr bombers”.

It is also reported that facilities of Russian intelligence have been targeted. According to the latest information, booby-trapped cars have been undermined near the two centers of the security forces of Alawite regime. Most of killed and wounded are Syrian soldiers and intelligence agents. The Assad regime declared that “the attack had been organized by Al-Qaeda”.

The Guardian referring to Syrian TV says that the bombings in Syria were directed against Russian intelligence. Russia has repeatedly supported the current Syrian government that caused discontent among the local opposition. The world’s media outlets reported about several anti-Russian protests that had taken place in Damascus.

Russian experts also acknowledge that the explosions in Damascus were directed against Moscow and not against the Syrian government. That was stated by political analyst Alexei Malashenko from Moscow Carnegie Center.

Two explosions occurred a day after international observers had come to Syria. According to the plan of the League of Arab States, they should get a third-party view on the situation in the country.

According to UN statistics, the total number of victims of the Alawite regime in Syria has exceeded in recent months 5,000 people.

Department of Monitoring
Kavkaz Center

Source: Kavkaz Center.
Link: http://kavkazcenter.com/eng/content/2011/12/23/15537.shtml.

Russian superpatriots disclose their plans to conquer the world

23 December 2011

Russian superpatriots disclosed their plans for the future in the person of reserve Colonel-General Ivashov, who gave an interview to Russian news agency Novy Region.

It is worth mentioning that Ivashov was the head of Russia’s Defense Ministry’s Central International Military Cooperation Directorate, at the time of the Kosovo war.

Ivashov was in charge of following the situation in Kosovo for the Russian Government. In that capacity he had detailed and confidential information coming from intelligence sources, contacts with senior military officials of other countries and meetings of the Russia-NATO Council. He also had contacts with the Yugoslav military leadership, and met seven times with Slobodan Milosevic.

The plans of Ivashov’s superpatriots are unchanged and are not much different from those of Putin, except in details: militarization of Russia to seize the whole world under the leadership of a Russian leader like Stalin. Ivashov said in particular:

“The tandem is just a toy in the hands of those forces, both internal and external, that wish to destroy Russia, and the Russian army – they do it, so there will be no one to defend our space, our people, our territory.

All my colleagues, everybody who supports me will fight for Russia, and we are ready for a new phase of our struggle for Russia. I will not talk about our plans, but believe me, we have a strong desire not to allow to ruin Russia, not to permit it to be further robbed, and we’ll use the whole arsenal of means in order to defend both our present and our future.

We are a great nation, we won great victories, we saved several times humanity from destruction.

I urge my colleagues, especially those who wore or wear army uniform: it is important to fight for the army, for the safety of the Fatherland!

This Kremlin is not so strong, just nobody has smacked its face before.

We are to take from the West all the best they have. If they do not give us – then steal it l! Why do we have intelligence?

I talked about that to Zyuganov (head of Putin’s Communists – KC), my colleagues talked to Sergei Mironov (head of Putin’s parliamentary Nationalists from Justified Russia party – KC), all of them are for Russia! It’s time to sweep away the scum out of the Kremlin, but we should not be limited with the Kremlin. After sweeping them away, the others will come. This sweeping should be carried out throughout Russia, simultaneously. We will try to sweep them away from the Kremlin, but you need to do the same in provincial towns, villages, regions, districts.

Russia will have many allies in the East and South, and in the West. Well, look at the protests which are taking place in the Western world, and they increase. These people are our allies. We have a mission to bring the most valuable to this world. We have brought peace, and we must do it again, that is our historic mission. Today, all over the world, the peoples want to see a leader who will lead them to the normal path of development.

We do not have enough population in Russia for that mission. At the same time, we see a very large population growth in Central Asian republics, Ukraine, the Caucasus. We are to organize the inflow of these people into our country.

Colonel General Ivashov concluded his interview in a purely Russian style – he denounced his political competitor to the KGB:

“Boris Mironov (former Russian information minister in Boris Yeltsin’s government – KC) suggested to me, watching how graduate officers are received in the Kremlin, to go in there with explosives, or at least with a pistol, and to shoot them all dead”.

Department of Monitoring
Kavkaz Center

Source: Kavkaz Center.
Link: http://kavkazcenter.com/eng/content/2011/12/23/15538.shtml.

Darfur rebel group confirms leader killed

Dec 26, 2011

Johannesburg – The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the main rebel group in Darfur, has confirmed that its leader was killed by the Sudanese military and vowed revenge, according to a statement carried by local media on Monday.

While the Sudanese army had said the rebel leader Khalil Ibrahim was killed in battle as he was trying to sneak into South Sudan last week, JEM countered that he was killed in an airstrike and charged that foreign powers were involved in the attack.

‘This indicates a collusion and conspiracy by some quarters in the regional and international milieu with the regime of genocide in Khartoum,’ JEM was quoted as saying by the Sudan Tribune daily.

‘By this plot, Khartoum opened the door for political murders,’ according to a spokesman for the group, which pulled out of a peace deal with the government last year.

Ibrahim reportedly returned from Libya this year, after the downfall of the Moamer Gaddafi’s regime, from whom JEM allegedly received support. Newly independent South Sudan is also accused by Khartoum of aiding the rebels.

According to reports and video footage circulating online, police in Khartoum dispersed supporters of JEM who tried to pay condolences at the house of Ibrahim’s family on the outskirts of the Sudanese capital.

It was unclear who would replace the rebel leader at the helm of the group, which he helped found in 2000.

In the conflict in Darfur, ongoing since 2003, some 300,000 people have died according to the UN, though Khartoum says the figure is lower.

Source: Monsters and Critics.
Link: http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/africa/news/article_1682725.php/Darfur-rebel-group-confirms-leader-killed.

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