Updates from December, 2017 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Jack 3:49 am on December 11, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: belgium politics, brussels violence, drieu godefridi, , , , , , , , , , , ,   


    When then-candidate Donald Trump noted in January 2016 that, thanks to mass immigration, Brussels was turning into a hell hole, Belgian and European politicians presented a united front at the (media) barricades: How dare he say such a thing? Brussels, capital of the European Union, the very quintessence of the post-modern world, the avant-garde of the coming new “global civilization,” a hell hole? Of course assimilating newcomers is not always easy, and there may be friction from time to time. But never mind, they said: Trump is a buffoon, and anyway, he has zero chance of getting elected. Such were the thoughts of those avid readers of The New York Times International Edition and regular watchers of CNN International.

    However, Donald Trump, in his unmistakable, brash style, was quite simply right: Brussels is rapidly descending into chaos and anarchy. Exactly two months after that dramatic Trumpism, Brussels was eviscerated by a horrific Islamic terror attack that left 32 people dead. And that was only the tip of the monstrous iceberg that has built up over three decades of mass immigration and socialist madness.

    Last month alone in Brussels, there were three separate outbreaks of rioting and looting on a major scale.

    First, there was the qualification of the Moroccan team to the soccer World Cup: between 300 and 500 “youths” of foreign origin took to the streets of Brussels to “celebrate” the event in their own way, looting dozens of shops in the historical center of Brussels, wreaking havoc in the deserted avenues of the “capital of civilization” and, during their riot, injuring 22 police officers.

    Riot police, backed by a water cannon, attempt to push back rioters in the center of Brussels, Belgium, on November 12. Hundreds of “youths” of foreign origin “celebrated” the World Cup qualification of Morocco’s soccer team by rioting and injuring 22 police officers. (Image source: Ruptly video screenshot)

    Three days later, a social media rap music star nicknamed “Vargasss 92,” who is a French citizen of foreign origin, decided to organize another unauthorized “celebration” in the center of Brussels, which quickly turned into another riot. Again, shops were destroyed and people assaulted for no other reason than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Short clips of the event streamed onto the social networks, showing the world (and Belgians) the true face of Brussels without the politicians’ makeover. No wonder the European political elite hate social media from the depths of their hearts; they prefer the sanitized (and, in both France and francophone Belgium, heavily subsidized) traditional press.

    Finally, on November 25, the socialist authorities in charge of the City of Brussels had the bright idea of authorizing a demonstration against slavery in Libya, which quickly descended into yet another riot: shops were destroyed, cars set on fire, 71 people arrested.

    This lawlessness, with not even the remotest political justification, is the new normal in Brussels. Politicians may not like that fact, which is the result of their lamentable failure, but it is nonetheless a massive and unavoidable fact. The new Brussels is characterized by riots and looting by people of foreign origin, as well as the ongoing heavily-armed military presence in the streets of Brussels, in place since March 22, 2016, the day that European Islamists murdered 32 and wounded 340 people in the worst-ever terrorist attack in Belgium.

    One may wonder why these fine Belgian soldiers patrolling the streets do nothing to stop the rioters. For the simple reason that it is outside of their remit; should a soldier actually hurt a looter, he would probably be publicly chastised, pilloried by the media, put on trial and dishonorably discharged.

    It would be funny if it were not so serious. After the first two recent riots, Belgian state television (RTBF) organized a debate with politicians and pundits from Brussels. Among the participants was Senator Alain Destexhe, from the center-right Reformist Movement (the party of Belgium’s Prime Minister).

    Destexhe is an interesting figure in Belgian politics. In French-speaking Belgium, he has been among the few to say publicly that the mass-immigration Belgians are inflicting upon themselves is unsustainable, that Islam may not be such a peaceful religion, and that school classes in which 90% of the children are of foreign origin, who do not speak French or Dutch at home, are not a recipe for success. Such may be taken as a given in much of the Western world, but in the French-speaking part of Belgium, heavily influenced by the French worldview, he was considered right-wing, if not an extremist, a racist, and other such niceties the Left often utters.

    When, during this debate, Destexhe tried to make his point — that there is a connection between the non-integration of many people of foreign origin in Brussels and the decades-long high level of immigration — the moderator literally yelled at him that “Migration is not the subject, Monsieur Destexhe! MIGRATION IS NOT THE SUBJECT, STOP!”, before giving the word to a “slam poet”, a young woman who explained that the problem was that women wearing the Islamic veil (such as herself) do not feel welcome in Brussels. The audience was then instructed to applaud her. Also on the set was a Green Party politician who affirmed that “nobody knows the origin of the rioters.” Hint: they were, in their own idiosyncratic way, “celebrating” Morocco‘s victory. A great moment of Belgian surrealism? No, just a typical political “debate” in French-speaking Belgium, except that normally Destexhe is not invited.

    The picture would not be complete without mentioning that the very night that the first riot began, November 11, an association called MRAX (Mouvement contre le racisme, l’antisémitisme et la xénophobie) published on its Facebook page an appeal to report any case of “police provocation” or “police violence”. The results of the riot? 22 police officers hurt, zero arrests. MRAX is not only a bunch of leftist Islamist sympathizers, they are heavily financed by taxpayers. Are movements from the right also financed by taxpayers? Simply put: No. In Brussels, the unemployment rate is a staggering 16.9%, a mind-boggling 90% of those on welfare have foreign origins, and although taxes are among the highest in the world, the public coffers are nonetheless bleeding. A sad snapshot of yet another socialist failure.

    But there is hope. Brussels is not only Molenbeek and rioting, it has a robust tradition of entrepreneurship, and Belgium’s federal government, particularly its Flemish component, is extremely conscious of the challenges that need facing. But nothing is going to change if people do not recognize that in many respects Brussels has, from the opulent conservative and “bourgeois” city that it was 25 years ago, morphed into a hell hole.

    Ironically, what Brussels now obviously needs is another Donald Trump.

    Drieu Godefridi, a classical-liberal Belgian author, is the founder of the l’Institut Hayek in Brussels. He has a PhD in Philosophy from the Sorbonne in Paris and also heads investments in European companies.


    See Also:

    (1) Anti-Trump protesters in Beirut clash with security outside US embassy

    (2) Twenty masked men throw Molotov cocktails at synagogue as terrified youngsters huddle in the basement

  • Jack 2:57 am on December 5, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: fraudulent science, lucy johnston, , uk law enforcement, uk politics, , , ,   

    Make It So 

    SCIENTISTS who carry out fraudulent medical research would face criminal charges under new laws being considered by MPs.

    The proposal is among a raft of measures to tackle drug company fraud being examined by a Commons committee.

    Members have been told that misleading claims about the effectiveness of drugs have led to patients dying.

    Whistleblowers have also received death threats. Norman Lamb, chairman of the Science and Technology Select Committee, has written to each UK university to ask them to ensure staff who expose misconduct are protected.

    The all-party committee has received testimony claiming prominent academics are paid large sums of money to publish false data.

    Consultant cardiologist Dr Peter Wilmshurst, who submitted evidence to the report, said: “If someone was to falsify data about aircraft performance and planes started crashing they would likely face a criminal prosecution. But falsifying data about drugs is highly unlikely to lead to a sanction, even if it kills people.”

    “The real scandal is the extent of this problem is covered up by senior people in the profession and major institutions.

    “Regulators deal with it ineffectively even when people repeatedly offend but they do not seem to understand misconduct can lead to deaths of patients. It’s absolutely outrageous.”

    Dr Wilmshurst, who is based at Royal Stoke University Hospital, started investigating misconduct 35 years ago when a drug firm offered him a bribe to falsify research on a drug with life-threatening side effects.

    Lib Dem MP Mr Lamb said: “This evidence raises serious concerns about the failure of the system to protect patient safety.

    “We need to have total confidence in the integrity of medical research.

    “Regulators have to treat this with utmost seriousness and we will consider whether there is a case for new criminal offences.”


  • Jack 3:35 am on December 4, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , ,   

    Mission Impossible 

    Two years ago in Kiev, I met with Artem Sytnik and his colleagues at the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, along with the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, of Ukraine, and wrote a profile headlined, “Can this man save Ukraine?” Mr. Sytnik at the time had just been installed as the head of NABU.

    The two newly minted organizations, part of a group of four anti-corruption agencies set up in concert with Western partners, were fresh, shiny entities filled with hope and promise. Young, newly hired prosecutors and detectives roamed the halls, radiating a fascinating yet naive energy to correct their country’s course in preparation for eventual association with the European Union. I wondered at the time what the future would bring. Mr. Sytnik even asked me to return and follow up on the unit’s progress at some point.

    To the disappointment of the European Union and American and European diplomats in Kiev, it seems the promise of these organizations has fallen victim to the old ways of the Soviet Union. Anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine are on the brink of collapse.

    The image of NABU and its sister service, the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption, have been badly tarnished, possibly irreparably. This is in spite of good funding, good salaries for the employees and support of the West.

    No senior Ukrainian government official has been convicted on corruption charges. The NAPC has yet to set up a functioning system to track assets of government officials.

    With NABU in particular, high-profile corruption cases have simply been sidelined. Corrupt officials in Ukraine want nothing better than to curb the organization’s work, and it seems they are succeeding.

    A perfect example of this is the case of the Privat Group of oligarch Igor Kolomoisky. The state nationalized the PrivatBank to prevent its collapse. However, it was found out later that on the eve of the nationalization, the owners withdrew all the money.

    Mr. Sytnik put the losses at approximately $600 million, a massive amount for the national financial system. NABU detectives seized relevant documents, but no action has been taken in the case. Mr. Sytnik has not mentioned the case for over two months. There are rumors of a lucrative secret deal between Mr. Sytnik and Mr. Kolomoisky to keep the case under wraps.

    Then there is the case of the large energy company Zaporozhye Oblenergo, one of the first actions initiated by NABU after its creation. The estimate of internal losses resulting from corruption is $12.8 million. Shareholders of the company include the oligarchs, the Surkis brothers, one of whom is the president of the famed Kiev soccer club Dynamo. According to parliamentary member Serhiy Leshchenko, appointments in power companies run by the Surkis brothers are vetted by Igor Kononenko, deputy chairman of the faction loyal to President Petro Poroshenko.

    Again, Mr. Sytnik and his office have not mentioned the situation for over six months, blocking the prosecution of one his first high-profile cases. Again, there are whispers of large bribes being paid to stop NABU in its tracks.

    Now a public feud between NABU and NAPC has erupted after a review of Mr. Sytnik’s activities was initiated by NAPC. Mr. Sytnik responded by launching a probe of NAPC’s chief, Natalia Korczak. Both sides subsequently hurled confrontations, threats, lawsuits and allegations. As the infighting continues, any momentum to fight corruption in Ukrainian society seems to be lost.

    An audio recording has come to light in which Mr. Sytnik disparages NAPC in comments to a colleague. Mr. Sytnik confirmed the conversation took place. NABU also has leaked classified information, causing possible legal problems for the agency and its leader. Calls for Mr. Sytnik’s resignation have begun to be heard, in Ukrainian public circles and in Western embassies in Kiev.

    The West may very well push to replace the leadership at NABU with more impartial figures in order to preserve the agency’s future capability, or even existence.

    The alleged corruption in the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office has been widely discussed in Washington, Brussels and Kiev. It now seems the anti-corruption agencies in Ukraine also deserve more scrutiny. The Ukrainian people deserve as much. The fate of future aid from international agencies also rests on Ukraine’s ability to put the legacy of Soviet corruption behind it.

    I wonder if that invitation from Mr. Sytnik still stands.

    L. Todd Wood is a former special operations helicopter pilot and Wall Street debt trader, and has contributed to Fox Business, The Moscow Times, National Review, the New York Post and many other publications. He can be reached through his website, LToddWood.com.


  • Jack 3:11 am on November 27, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: ebola virus, , , news one, red crescent, red cross,   

    Donation Theft 

    An internal investigation at the Red Cross revealed that nearly $6 million in funds that were allocated to fight the Ebola crisis were stolen and wasted by corrupt employees at the organization and other culprits, NBC News reported.

    According to the news outlet, a probe was launched by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies surrounding how the organization managed $124 million in funds that were donated between 2014 and 2016. The money was supposed to go towards combating the disease that was rapidly spreading throughout African countries that included Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

    During the investigation, it was discovered that at least 2.13 million Swiss francs went missing during a transaction between the Red Cross and a Sierra Leone-based bank due to an inaccurate exchange rate. Similar things occurred in Liberia and Guinea where large amounts of money went missing due to illegal billing practices and fraudulent increased prices for relief items and staff and volunteer payroll. According to the news outlet, there were 1.17 million Swiss francs lost in Guinea and 2.7 million Swiss francs lost in Liberia.

    Red Cross representatives were disheartened by the findings of the investigation and plans to take the necessary steps towards battling fraud within the organization. The organization will now have auditors travel with relief staff in the case of an epidemic or natural disaster and stricter spending limits will be implemented.

    “We are pursuing every possible avenue to reclaim all funds that have been misappropriated, diverted, or otherwise illegally taken. This includes working with authorities in affected countries and elsewhere as appropriate,” IFRC undersecretary general for partnerships Dr. Jemilah Mahmood told NBC News. She also added that the individuals that were involved will be held accountable and she hopes that these incidents don’t overshadow the organization’s efforts to provide relief. She stated that the organization played a “critical and widely recognized role in containing and ending the outbreak.”

    The Ebola virus claimed the lives of over 11,000 individuals in the three countries that were impacted by fraud.


    World Health Organization Confirms 2 More Ebola Cases In Congo Outbreak

    Doctors Discover New Ebola Case In Sierra Leone


  • Jack 3:21 am on November 24, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , kim jong un, , north korean border security, north korean poliics, norther korean dictatorship, , ,   

    Of Course 

    NORTH Korea has switched out ALL border guards at the demilitarised zone (DMZ) with South Korea as a furious Kim Jong-un comes to terms with this month’s humiliating defection.

    North Korea suffered acute embarrassment on November 13 when a border guard fled first by jeep and then on foot across the joint security area (JSA) with South Korea.

    The defector, identified only by his surname Oh, sped in a jeep towards the South before losing control and crashing into a ditch. He sprinted the final few metres as North Korea guards opened fire.

    Now those border guards are believed to be taking the full force of Kim Jong-un’s fury for the incident – with all believed to have lost their positions.

    Yonhap News, a Seoul-based news agency, believes all border guards have been replaced at the border in a huge security overhaul.

    And they said an intelligence source had told them the guards were also in danger of cruel punishment at the hands of Kim’s security agents.

    The unnamed source told the agency: “Signs were detected that North Korea has replaced all border security officials following the defection.

    “Given this situation, commanders of the responsible military unit and senior officers might have undergone punishment.”

    Four of those guards punished breached the rules of the 1953 Armistice Agreement, the news agency said.

    It said: “The United Nations Command said Wednesday that North Korea clearly violated the 1953 Armistice Agreement twice last week when its border guards tried to hunt down the soldier fleeing to South Korea via the truce village of Panmunjom.

    “Four armed North Korean guards chased the defector, who tried to dash toward the South. He was shot five times and some of the gunshots flew over the Military Demarcation Line (MDL).

    “A North Korean guard also crossed the MDL for a few seconds and then returned to the North’s side.”

    The source also claimed North Korea is now tightening its screening of those entering and leaving the demilitarised zone as well as other aspects of security in the joint security area.

    The news agency said: “The intelligence source also said that North Korea appears to have temporarily closed the so-called 72-hour bridge, over which the defector drove the jeep at high speed to reach the northern side of the JSA.”


  • Jack 3:25 am on November 16, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , john bolton, , taryn tarrant-cornish, , , weapons smuggling   


    NORTH Korean weapons were seized aboard Iranian smuggling ships as authorities seek to stamp out smuggling, a UN report has revealed.

    The weapons were on their way to war-torn Somalia when they were caught by an inspection looking for contraband.

    A UN diplomat earlier asked: “Why are Iranian and North Korean small arms finding their way into Somalia from Libya? Do they date from before the arms embargoes (against both North Korea and Iran)? How did they get there from Libya?

    “It certainly emphasises the point that Somalia is a country awash with arms and still very fragile.”

    It is believed the weapons were sent by Iran in an attempt to arm militants fighting in Somalia.

    The ships were intercepted in the Arabian Sea by a French vessel.

    The Type 73 machine guns were manufactured in the prison country before being sold to Iran between 1970 and 1980.

    The hermit kingdom has repeatedly taken part in a series of illegal activities to fund its nuclear and missile programmes.

    Kim Jong-un’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung sanctioned the production of opium and other drugs, including fake prescription medicine.

    In 2001 the income from these activities was estimated to be as high as £800,000 ($1billion).

    The news follows shocking claims that Kim Jong-un was prepared to sell nuclear weapons to “anybody with hard currency” including to Iran and terrorist groups, an ex-UN ambassador has claimed.

    John Bolton, former US ambassador to the UN, said North Korea could also sell nuclear weapons to aspiring nuclear powers unless the rogue nation was stopped.

    North Korea has continued with its development of a nuclear weapons arsenal despite international condemnation.

    After the rogue state’s despot leader Kim Jong-un started a furious war of words with US President Donald Trump fears of the possible outbreak of World War 3 intensified.

    Mr Bolton added his “preferred outcome” to the growing US-North Korea crisis would be to “reunite the two Koreas” but conceded talks with the hermit state would be a “complete non-starter.

    He said: “My preferred outcome is to reunite the two Koreas. That wouldn’t happen overnight.

    “There are a variety of possibilities, one possibility is the Chinese said ‘we’re doing all we can, why don’t you sit down and negotiate with the North Koreans’, which is a complete non-starter in my view.

    “I think then the outcome is nearly certain that North Korea will get nuclear weapons and not just North Korea since they’ll sell to anybody with hard currency, Iran, terrorist groups, other aspiring nuclear powers.

    “That’s why the resolution of the North Korea issue is so important because the proliferation impact of North Korea visibly getting nuclear weapons around the world would be considerable.”


  • Jack 2:48 am on November 14, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: brooke crothers, computer hacking, , google search results, , mail fishing, , seo   

    Banking Online 

    According to a blog post by Cisco-owned Talos, the Zeus Panda malware essentially “poisons” Google search results to push fake bank-related results to the top of a key word search. Then, the unwary user, looking for quick answers to a search related to their bank, is fooled into clicking on malicious links.

    The malware utilizes search engine optimization (SEO) “to make their malicious links more prevalent in the search results…[which] will enable the attacker to quickly obtain credentials, banking and credit card information,” Talos said.

    “[It’s] a clever way…to serve malicious files,” a spokesperson for the internet security firm Avast told Fox News. “Although it’s not completely new, it’s rarely seen as a mechanism of spreading malware such as banking Trojans.”

    Computer security website Bleeping Computer covered the malware in a recent post.

    “This group has taken a novel approach, never before seen in the distribution of banking Trojans,” Bleeping Computer wrote.

    The ultimate goal is to trick you into going to the hacked site, then redirecting you until you reach a site offering a Microsoft Word document for download, according to Talos.

    “Ironically we have observed the same redirection system and associated infrastructure used to direct victims to tech support and fake [anti-virus] scams,” Talos added.

    So far, the malware seems to be targeting customers in Sweden, India, Australia and Saudi Arabia. But that’s never stopped successful malware from spreading to other countries.

    How to protect yourself

    Malware often needs you to proactively click on links and buttons. In this case when the Microsoft Word document is opened, it prompts pop-ups such as “Enable Editing,” “Enable Content” and “Macros have been disabled.” If you do enable the macro, an executable download will infect your system.

    The biggest red flag you’ll get is from Microsoft itself. By default, macros are disabled. And Microsoft wants you to keep it that way to protect you from documents coming from untrusted sources.

    Avast told Fox News that it is currently “blocking most of these sites, [which] prevents users from being infected.”

    “Defending against this attack requires not only vigilance by companies to make sure the sites and servers are compromised, but that consumers pay attention to what they are clicking on and not enabling macros or open unknown attachments,” according to a post at SC Media, a cybersecurity website.


  • Jack 3:03 am on October 30, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: brad hunter, , , , ,   


    On a warm Sunday, October afternoon, the kind of fall day when it seems anything is possible, I went to a funeral.

    I knew the dead man by proxy. I never met him.

    One of those things a dutiful partner does because it’s the right thing to do.

    He was dead at 36.


    Another casualty of the opioid epidemic ravaging cities and towns alike.

    Last summer a hometown buddy told me his daughter’s friend, 14 at the time, with her whole life in front of her was having a limited-time engagement at a local funeral parlour.

    Popped a pill at a party. Didn’t know. Dead.

    I was ahead of the curve on the whole opioid epidemic.

    In 2004, I was sent to rugged Appalachia to do a story on something called Oxycontin or as cops called it, Hillbilly Heroin.

    Huge swaths of rural West Virginia, western Pennsylvania, Kentucky and other luckless podunk towns were being ravaged by the deadly new drug.

    Main Street — they all had Main Streets — looked like the zombie-fied set of The Walking Dead. Stiletto-thin with lifeless eyes, the addicts’ faces told a heart-stopping tale of misery.

    Loved ones spilled their guts, telling me of their despair of not being able to get help. Standing over their child’s coffin.

    Now, the days of the Oxycontin plague seem like a trip to Canada’s Wonderland.

    The latest viral death machine started in Canada on the west coast, as these things frequently do.

    Wave after wave of the killer pharmaceutical fentanyl began hitting our shores, courtesy of clandestine labs in China, aided and abetted by the greedy and cruel here. And the bodies began piling up: in suburban homes, downtown alleys and in the morgue.

    What’s being sold is murder.

    Cash has no conscience.

    Up to the end of July this year, 368 people had died of fentanyl overdoses in British Columbia. The death toll in Canada last year was nearly 3,000.

    This year will be worse.

    Now, the judiciary appears to have had enough as broken family after broken family trudge their way to court and watch as their child’s killer takes a tap on the wrist. No more.

    Joshua Eyamie-Binks, 31, and Cortney Rattray-Johnson, 27, of Ottawa, cried crocodile tears as they pleaded guilty to selling fentanyl. He got a 10-year jolt in the Big House, she went down for an eight spot last summer.

    Greasy Todd Dube, 22, a frequent flier in the criminal justice system got sorted with nine years in the slammer for his fentanyl flirtation in Edmonton.

    Kristy Dyroff saw her son, Wesley Greer’s corpse put in a bodybag, the child she had nurtured was now cold as ice. She has pushed the courts to hit fentanyl dealers with manslaughter charges when a death is involved.

    “When I read his death certificate and it said ‘homicide,’ it changed everything in my mind,” the Georgia woman told the Orlando Sentinel. “I had to make sure whoever did this had to be stopped.”

    She is also tackling websites selling the poison.

    “I think… Wesley would be proud of his mother,” she said through her tears.



    (*) Carfentanil: Canada’s drug of mass destruction

    See Also:

    (1) Police report five fatal overdoses in one day in Abbotsford, B.C.

    (2) The Chinese connection fueling America’s fentanyl crisis

    (3) Synthetic Fentanyl Deaths Rise in Americans Opioid Epidemic

    (4) This Is the New Threat Driving the Opioid Crisis

    (5) Opioid Arrest: Insys Therapeutics founder indicted

    (6) Opioid crisis: Sellers tout prescription drugs on social media

    (7) 1-year-old dies after ingesting powerful synthetic opioid

    (8) Deadly opioid epidemic that is crippling the US is set to spread to Europe

    (9) Walgreens now sells overdose antidote over-the-counter without a prescription as the US battles deadly drug epidemic

    (10) Doctor admits accepting nearly $200,000 in kickbacks to illegally prescribe fentanyl spray to patients who did not need it

  • Jack 2:48 am on October 28, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , russian crime, , , , yulia tymoshenko   

    Freedom Denied 


    Corruption in Ukraine is not exactly a fresh news story, but I don’t think most people understand the depths of the problem.

    As President Petro Poroshenko pleads with the Trump administration for aid and weapons under pressure from the Russian bear, it seems the machinery of government below him is engaged in an orgy of illegal activity. The picture is one better suited to 1920s Chicago than to a developing country in Europe, particularly one demanding Western largesse and support.

    In May, two dozen heads of regional tax administrations employed under ousted President Viktor Yanukovych were detained and flown to the international airport in Kyiv and then transferred to the domestic airport by helicopter in a big, expensive show produced for the television cameras. The showy event was the culmination of a campaign by Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko to highlight the successes of his agency. The spectacle was arranged by Chief Military Prosecutor Anatoly Matsios. It is interesting to note the case had nothing to do with military affairs and should have been beyond Mr. Matsios’ purview. The reason this is important becomes clear later.

    The suspects were charged with severe crimes against the Ukrainian people, essentially embezzling money to enrich themselves. One of those detained was the ex-head of the State Tax Administration of the Kharkiv region, Stanislav Denisyuk.

    But now, 20 of the suspects have already been released. Anti-corruption watchdogs in Ukraine charge that the military prosecutor used intermediaries to extort money from the detainees, easing the way for their quick release.

    Mr. Denisyuk’s case is interesting because he was dismissed from his position due to a staff reduction and suspended from his duties during the period in which the alleged crimes took place. It seems his real crime was becoming aware of corruption in the activities of those above him at the time — yes, you guessed it, Mr. Matios.

    Mr. Denisyuk’s family tells me they have been asked to pay $2 million to settle his case and obtain his release. They say they have audio recordings of the offer in which Mr. Matios and Mr. Lutsenko are mentioned as the offer is being made through an intermediary. Mr. Denisyuk’s family paid $200,000 and appealed to the Ukrainian inspector general to investigate the incident. At this point the money was returned. Mr. Denisyuk remains in prison. The intermediary was not detained and was even allowed to leave the country.

    The military prosecutor’s office in Ukraine is supposed to be investigating war crimes. In reality, these cases seem uninteresting to these officials.

    There’s the case of Mark Paslovsky, an American citizen who was fighting with the Donbass Battalion during the initial years of the conflict with Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. He gave $300,000 of his own money to buy drones to assist in the fight, but the equipment was never purchased. Mr. Paslovsky demanded the money back and was subsequently killed in a battle two days later in 2014. His business property in Ukraine was allegedly stolen after his death. The case remains unresolved.

    Mr. Matios’ position also remains a mystery. As a member of the disgraced Yanukovych regime, he was allowed to stay in government, perhaps owing to his wealth and importance to other officials in the Ukrainian government. He is alleged to control large financial flows which, again, are beyond the responsibility of the military prosecutor’s office.

    The bottom line is that the persistent corruption endemic to Soviet times has not been rooted out of Ukraine after a quarter-century of independence. In many ways, the situation is worse under Mr. Poroshenko than it was during the Yanukovych regime. Perhaps international organizations should make sure that significant progress is made cleaning up the situation before more hard-earned tax dollars are spent to support the Poroshenko government. This is not too much to ask.

    • L. Todd Wood is a former special operations helicopter pilot and Wall Street debt trader, and has contributed to Fox Business, The Moscow Times, National Review, the New York Post and many other publications. He can be reached through his website, LToddWood.com.


    See Also:

    (1) Recent Ukraine History…

    (2) A woman fights and loses

    (3) Car-Bomb Murders Terrify Ukraine’s Capital, and Many Suspect the Kremlin’s Behind Them

    (4) Apparent Assassination Attempt Injures Ukrainian Lawmaker, Kills 2 People

    (5) ‘Fundamental Differences’ Remain After NATO-Russia Council Meeting

  • Jack 2:42 pm on October 5, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: gordon lubold, kapersky labs, nsa, , shane harris, ,   

    Another Leak? 

    WASHINGTON—Hackers working for the Russian government stole details of how the U.S. penetrates foreign computer networks and defends against cyberattacks after a National Security Agency contractor removed the highly classified material and put it on his home computer, according to multiple people with knowledge of the matter.

    The hackers appear to have targeted the contractor after identifying the files through the contractor’s use of a popular antivirus software made by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab, these people said.

    The theft, which hasn’t been disclosed, is considered by experts to be one of the most significant security breaches in recent years. It offers a rare glimpse into how the intelligence community thinks Russian intelligence exploits a widely available commercial software product to spy on the U.S.

    The incident occurred in 2015 but wasn’t discovered until spring of last year, said the people familiar with the matter.

    The stolen material included details about how the NSA penetrates foreign computer networks, the computer code it uses for such spying and how it defends networks inside the U.S., these people said.

    Having such information could give the Russian government information on how to protect its own networks, making it more difficult for the NSA to conduct its work. It also could give the Russians methods to infiltrate the networks of the U.S. and other nations, these people said.

    The breach is the first known incident in which Kaspersky software is believed to have been exploited by Russian hackers to conduct espionage against the U.S. government. The company, which sells its antivirus products in the U.S., had revenue of more than half a billion dollars in Western Europe and the Americas in 2016, according to International Data Corp. By Kaspersky’s own account it has more than 400 million users world-wide.

    The revelation comes as concern over Russian infiltration of American computer networks and social media platforms is growing amid a U.S. special counsel’s investigation into whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign sought or received assistance from the Russian government. Mr. Trump denies any impropriety and has called the matter a “witch hunt.”

    Intelligence officials have concluded that a campaign authorized by the highest levels of the Russian government hacked into state election-board systems and the email networks of political organizations to damage the candidacy of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

    A spokesman for the NSA didn’t comment on the security breach. “Whether the information is credible or not, NSA’s policy is never to comment on affiliate or personnel matters,” he said. He noted that the Defense Department, of which the NSA is a part, has a contract for antivirus software with another company, not Kaspersky.

    A spokesman for the NSA didn’t comment on the security breach. “Whether the information is credible or not, NSA’s policy is never to comment on affiliate or personnel matters,” he said. He noted that the Defense Department, of which the NSA is a part, has a contract for antivirus software with another company, not Kaspersky.

    In a statement, Kaspersky Lab said it “has not been provided any information or evidence substantiating this alleged incident, and as a result, we must assume that this is another example of a false accusation.”

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov in a statement didn’t address whether the Russian government stole materials from the NSA using Kaspersky software. But he criticized the U.S. government’s decision to ban the software from use by U.S. agencies as “undermining the competitive positions of Russian companies on the world arena.”

    The Kaspersky incident is the third publicly known breach at the NSA involving a contractor’s access to a huge trove of highly classified materials. It prompted an official letter of reprimand to the agency’s director, Adm. Michael Rogers, by his superiors, people familiar with the situation said.

    Adm. Rogers came into his post in 2014 promising to staunch leaks after the disclosure that NSA contractor Edward Snowden the year before gave classified documents to journalists that revealed surveillance programs run by the U.S. and allied nations.

    The Kaspersky-linked incident predates the arrest last year of another NSA contractor, Harold Martin, who allegedly removed massive amounts of classified information from the agency’s headquarters and kept it at his home, but wasn’t thought to have shared the data.

    Mr. Martin pleaded not guilty to charges that include stealing classified information. His lawyer has said he took the information home only to get better at his job and never intended to reveal secrets.

    The name of the NSA contractor in the Kaspersky-related incident and the company he worked for aren’t publicly known. People familiar with the matter said he is thought to have purposely taken home numerous documents and other materials from NSA headquarters, possibly to continue working beyond his normal office hours.

    The man isn’t believed to have wittingly worked for a foreign government, but knew that removing classified information without authorization is a violation of NSA policies and potentially a criminal act, said people with knowledge of the breach.

    It is unclear whether he has been dismissed from his job or faces charges. The incident remains under federal investigation, said people familiar with the matter.

    Kaspersky software once was authorized for use by nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies, including the Army, Navy and Air Force, and the departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security, Energy, Veterans Affairs, Justice and Treasury.

    NSA employees and contractors never had been authorized to use Kaspersky software at work. While there was no prohibition against these employees or contractors using it at home, they were advised not to before the 2015 incident, said people with knowledge of the guidance the agency gave.

    For years, U.S. national security officials have suspected that Kaspersky Lab, founded by a computer scientist who was trained at a KGB-sponsored technical school, is a proxy of the Russian government, which under Russian law can compel the company’s assistance in intercepting communications as they move through Russian computer networks.

    Kaspersky said in its statement: “As a private company, Kaspersky Lab does not have inappropriate ties to any government, including Russia, and the company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts.”

    Suspicions about the company prompted the Department of Homeland Security last month to take the extraordinary step of banning all U.S. government departments and agencies from using Kaspersky products and services. Officials determined that “malicious cyber actors” could use the company’s antivirus software to gain access to a computer’s files, said people familiar with the matter.

    The government’s decision came after months of intensive discussions inside the intelligence community, as well as a study of how the software works and the company’s suspected connections to the Russian government, said people familiar with the events. They said intelligence officials also were concerned that given the prevalence of Kaspersky on the commercial market, countless people could be targeted, including family members of senior government officials, or that Russia could use the software to steal information for competitive economic advantage.

    “The risk that the Russian government, whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could capitalize on access provided by Kaspersky products to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates U.S. national security,” the DHS said Sept. 13 in announcing the government ban.

    All antivirus software scans computers looking for malicious code, comparing what is on the machine to a master list housed at the software company. But that scanning also gives makers of the software an inventory of what is on the computer, experts say.

    “It’s basically the equivalent of digital dumpster diving,” said Blake Darché, a former NSA employee who worked in the agency’s elite hacking group that targets foreign computer systems.

    Kaspersky is “aggressive” in its methods of hunting for malware, Mr. Darché said, “in that they will make copies of files on a computer, anything that they think is interesting.” He said the product’s user license agreement, which few customers probably read, allows this.

    “You’re basically surrendering your right to privacy by using Kaspersky software,” said Mr. Darché, who is chief security officer for Area 1, a computer security company.

    “We aggressively detect and mitigate malware infections no matter the source and we have been proudly doing it for 20 years,” the company said in its statement. “We make no apologies for being aggressive in the battle against malware and cybercriminals.”

    U.S. investigators believe the contractor’s use of the software alerted Russian hackers to the presence of files that may have been taken from the NSA, according to people with knowledge of the investigation. Experts said the software, in searching for malicious code, may have found samples of it in the data the contractor removed from the NSA.

    But how the antivirus system made that determination is unclear, such as whether Kaspersky technicians programed the software to look for specific parameters that indicated NSA material. Also unclear is whether Kaspersky employees alerted the Russian government to the finding.

    Investigators did determine that, armed with the knowledge that Kaspersky’s software provided of what files were suspected on the contractor’s computer, hackers working for Russia homed in on the machine and obtained a large amount of information, according to the people familiar with the matter.

    The breach illustrates the chronic problem the NSA has had with keeping highly classified secrets from spilling out, former intelligence personnel say. They say they were rarely searched while entering or leaving their workplaces to see if they were carrying classified documents or removable storage media, such as a thumb drive.

    The incident was considered so serious that it was given a classified code name and set off alarms among top national security officials because it demonstrated how the software could be used for spying. Members of Congress also were informed, said people familiar with the matter.

    Then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter and then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper pushed President Barack Obama to remove Adm. Rogers as NSA head, due in part to the number of data breaches on his watch, according to several officials familiar with the matter.

    The NSA director had fallen out of White House favor when he traveled to Bedminster, N.J., last November to meet with president-elect Donald Trump about taking a job in his administration, said people familiar with the matter. Adm. Rogers didn’t notify his superiors, an extraordinary step for a senior military officer, U.S. officials said.

    Adm. Rogers wasn’t fired for a number of reasons, including a pending restructuring of the NSA that would have been further complicated by his departure, according to people with knowledge of internal deliberations. An NSA spokesman didn’t comment on efforts to remove Adm. Rogers.

    Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, (D., N.H.) said in a statement: “This development should serve as a stark warning, not just to the federal government but to states, local governments and the American public, of the serious dangers of using Kaspersky software.”

    She added: “The strong ties between Kaspersky Lab and the Kremlin are extremely alarming and have been well-documented for some time. It’s astounding and deeply disturbing that the Russian government continues to have this tool at their disposal to harm the United States.”

    Write to Gordon Lubold at Gordon.Lubold@wsj.com and Shane Harris at shane.harris@wsj.com


    • Jack 3:15 pm on October 5, 2017 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      If folks are scared of this comment system they needn’t be. Signup takes about two minutes and once signed up DO NOT log out unless you must. The short story is that you will be able to comment not only here but in many of the large news agencies which use this system. Fox News is one of the big ones.

      Just FYI.

  • Jack 11:49 am on October 3, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , nimer mahmoud jamal, , ,   

    Lesson Unlearned 

    Nimer Mahmoud Jamal, the 37-year-old Palestinian terrorist who on September 25 murdered three Israelis at the entrance to Har Adar near Jerusalem, had a permit from the Israeli authorities to work in Israel.

    His family and friends say he also had a good life and was considered lucky to have been employed by Jews because he received a higher salary and was protected by Israeli labor laws. The night before Jamal set out in his murderous mission, he spent a few hours at the fitness gym in his village, located only a few miles away from Har Adar.

    So, Jamal, the murderer of the three Israelis (two of the victims were Arab Israelis), was not poor. He was not unemployed. In fact, according his friends, Jamal earned much more than what a senior police officer or school teacher working for the Palestinian Authority or Hamas brings home every month.

    What was it, then, that drove Jamal to his murderous scheme, gunning down three young men who were supposed to be facilitating his entry into Israel? Was it because he could not provide for his children? No. Was it because his landlord was pressuring him about the rent? No: Jamal lived in a nice place of his own, complete with furniture, appliances and bedrooms that any family in the West would be proud to own.

    Jamal wanted to murder Jews because he believed this was a noble deed that would earn him the status of shaheed (martyr) and hero among his family, friends and society. In Palestinian culture in particular, and Arab culture in general, murderers of Jews are glorified on a daily basis.

    They are touted as the lucky ones who are now in the company of Prophet Mohammed and the angels in Paradise. Male terrorists are also busy with the 72 virgins they were awarded as a prize for murdering Jews. The murderers — as Muslim clerics and leaders hammer into the heads of Palestinians — are also given access to rivers of honey and fine drinks once they set foot in their imaginary Paradise.

    Jamal’s friends and family are now convinced that he has been rewarded by Allah and Prophet Mohammed in Paradise for murdering three Israelis. They do not care about his children, whom he left behind, and certainly not about the families of the three Israelis he murdered.

    In his village and on social media, Jamal is being hailed as a hero and martyr. Not a single Palestinian has come out against the cowardly terror attack by a man who took advantage of a permit from the Israeli authorities to commit a terror attack.

    The Jewish families that once employed Jamal as a cleaner had trusted him. They had opened their homes and hearts, as well as their wallets, to him. The Israeli authorities wanted to trust him and see him as a normal person who just wanted a job with a decent income to support his family.

    But Jamal, like many other Palestinians, betrayed the trust the Jews gave him. He chose to stab in the back the same people who had gone out of their way to help him.

    Sadly, this terrorist also betrayed the cause of thousands of Palestinian workers who enter Israel for work every day. These workers stand to lose the most from Jamal’s terror attack and treachery.

    Luckily for them, the Israeli authorities are saying that the Har Adar murder will not affect Israel’s policy of granting permits to Palestinians to work inside Israel, because the vast majority are not involved in violence.

    The Har Adar murders ought to teach us at least one thing: that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not about the economy or improving the living conditions of the Palestinians. Jamal, who had a job and freedom of movement and a lovely apartment, surely proves this point, as do the murders or attempted murders by other well-to-do terrorists such as Mohammad Atta, Osama bin Laden, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and many others.

    Jamal’s bloody lesson, however, apparently still needs to be learned by the West, which, despite all evidence, doggedly persists in drawing an unbroken line between Palestinian terrorism and poverty.

    Jamal, however, is far from the first terrorist to convey this crucial lesson: most Palestinian terrorists over the past decades were educated and had jobs.

    Some Palestinian suicide bombers were nurses, schoolteachers and lawyers. Some came from middle class and even wealthy families and clans. Money and education, however, did not stop them from committing atrocities against Israelis.

    Terrorists like Jamal are motivated by deep hatred for Jews and Israel. They have been indoctrinated and brainwashed by their leaders and Muslim religious clerics into believing that Jews are evil and need to be eliminated by all available means.

    Not a single terrorist has complained of carrying out an attack because he or she were starving, had no food for the children and were unable to buy ice cream from the local grocery store. The terrorists, in fact, spell it out as it is: they openly announce that they are motivated by their indoctrinated hatred for Israel and Jews. This is what the Palestinian, Arab and Islamic propaganda machine has done to generations of Arabs and Muslims. Officials and people in the West may deny what they hear as hard as they like; but the terrorists could not be more are honest about what their murderous motives are.

    What, then, about those on the West who continue to talk about the conflict as if it were about creating new jobs and paving roads and improving infrastructure for the Palestinians? This seems to be the approach endorsed in the U.S. by Donald Trump’s administration.

    There is nothing wrong, of course, with boosting the economy and creating job opportunities. This might have a moderating effect on a few Palestinians. They will be happy to see a better economy and a drop in the unemployment rate.

    Such measures, however, will never change the hearts and minds of Palestinians. Palestinians will never recognize Israel’s right to exist because Americans and Europeans built them an industrial park somewhere in the West Bank.

    Over the past 25 years, the Palestinians have received billions of dollars in aid from the international community. When they headed to the ballot boxes, they voted for Hamas because it told them it will destroy Israel. Palestinians are most likely to vote for Hamas once again if free and democratic elections were held tomorrow in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

    We might remember this as Trump’s Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, returns to our region to discuss ways of reviving the so-called peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. The Trump administration and Jason Greenblatt seem to have bought the lie that “It’s about money, stupid.”

    No. The conflict is about an unbendable refusal to allow a Jewish Israel to exist in the Middle East. It is about the abiding interest in the Arab and Islamic world to obliterate Israel and murder Jews. It is about the ongoing, bloody Arab and Islamic incitement against Israel and Jews. Jobs are not the problem, and they are not the solution. Let us pay attention to reality for a change: Jamal and his fellow terrorists can teach us something — if only we would listen.

    Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.


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