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EU holds largest-ever cyber-security exercise

Cyber Attacks
© Inconnu
Cyber-attack: Thursday's one-day exercise involving 29 countries and 200 agencies dealt with attack scenarios against "critical infrastructure."
The European Union on Thursday carried out its biggest exercise to prevent cyber-attacks on Europe's public utilities and communications networks.

The director of the European Network and Information Security Agency, Udo Helmbrecht, told The Associated Press that Thursday's one-day exercise involving 29 countries and 200 agencies dealt with attack scenarios against "critical infrastructure."

Helmbrecht said European countries were working to improve their coordination between national security agencies and to further standardize protective software and methods.

Examples of serious past incidents, he said, include a wave of cyber-attacks against Estonia in 2007 that severely affected the country's banks and government agencies, and the Stuxnet computer virus that was used to target energy and industrial sites in Iran.

Comment: see also: Cybersecurity survey Major hacking attack in US looms

Quenelle

Serbia's Milosevic's widow ridicules EU lifting sanctions

Mirjana Markovic
© AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, File
In this June 27, 2001, file photo Mirjana Markovic, the wife of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, arrives to visit Milosevic at the central prison in Belgrade, Serbia. Slobodan Milosevic's exiled widow has ridiculed European Union's decision to lift a 15-year freeze on assets of the former Serbian strongman, saying that the family has no property outside Serbia.
Slobodan Milosevic's exiled widow ridiculed the European Union's decision to lift a 15-year freeze on assets of the former Serbian strongman, saying in an interview published Thursday that the family has no property outside Serbia.

The EU earlier this week dropped its sanctions against Milosevic's family and several of his former political associates, saying they no longer represent "a threat to the consolidation of democracy" in Serbia.


Comment: Well, we can look at Ukraine to understand how well Western democracy works.


Milosevic's widow, Mirjana Markovic, who was granted political asylum in Russia with their son Marko when Milosevic lost power in a popular revolt 2000, told Belgrade's Vecernje Novosti newspaper that she "laughed" when she heard the news.

"Neither me, nor my husband nor my children had or have any property in the EU countries," she said.
Bell

Play-time is over: Putin's message to the Western elites


Comment: Putin's speech at the Valdai conference in Sochi last week is getting a lot of coverage, both in the alternative news sphere, and the Russophobic den of lies that is the corporate western mainstream presstitute media. And for good reason. You can read the full speech here, along with Paul Craig Roberts' commentary. See also:

putin
© Aleksey Nikolskyi, RIA Novosti
Most people in the English-speaking parts of the world missed Putin's speech at the Valdai conference in Sochi a few days ago, and, chances are, those of you who have heard of the speech didn't get a chance to read it, and missed its importance. (For your convenience, I am pasting in the full transcript of his speech below.) Western media did their best to ignore it or to twist its meaning. Regardless of what you think or don't think of Putin (like the sun and the moon, he does not exist for you to cultivate an opinion) this is probably the most important political speech since Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech of March 5, 1946.

In this speech, Putin abruptly changed the rules of the game. Previously, the game of international politics was played as follows: politicians made public pronouncements, for the sake of maintaining a pleasant fiction of national sovereignty, but they were strictly for show and had nothing to do with the substance of international politics; in the meantime, they engaged in secret back-room negotiations, in which the actual deals were hammered out. Previously, Putin tried to play this game, expecting only that Russia be treated as an equal. But these hopes have been dashed, and at this conference he declared the game to be over, explicitly violating Western taboo by speaking directly to the people over the heads of elite clans and political leaders.
Bad Guys

Insurance companies start writing 'Ebola exclusions' into policies

isurance_ebola
© AFP Photo/Simon Maina
As Ebola spreads further from its current epicenter in West Africa, American and British insurance companies have started to adjust their standard policies for hospitals and other vulnerable businesses to exclude the virus.

According to insurance industry insiders, companies needing to insure business travel to West Africa or to cover losses following a quarantine may now deal with revamped policies that will likely increase in price based on the latest Ebola outbreak, which has killed nearly 5,000 people in West African countries like Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

"What underwriters are doing at the moment is they're generally providing quotes either excluding or including Ebola - and it's much more expensive if Ebola is included," Gary Flynn, an event cancellation broker at London's Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group Plc, told Reuters.

Ebola has had less impact on liability insurance. For instance, in the US, policies that cover the likes of worker's compensation claims are regulated on the state level. Thus, Ebola exclusions are not likely, according to Reuters.

Property and casualty insurers, though, have more at stake and are taking into account the possibilities of heightened Ebola infections.

ACE Ltd told Reuters that its global casualty unit, used for US companies to insure employees who travel abroad, was excluding Ebola on a "case-by-case basis" while underwriting new policies and renewals for some clients with operations in Africa, since there is a "potentially higher risk exposure."

"Business interruption" may be getting the most attention, according to Tony DeFelice, managing director of Aon Risk Solutions' national casualty practice in the US. Such interruptions include possible loss of employees to illness, or quarantine of an airliner or cruise ship due to a case of suspected Ebola or other sickness.
Quenelle

Putin: It's extremely important to counteract any attempts at reviving fascist ideology

Putin
© Alexei Nikolsky/TASS
Russian President Vladimir Putin finds it extremely important to combat any attempts to revive fascist ideology and falsify Russian-Ukrainian common history, said a congratulatory message which the Russian head of state sent to veterans of the Great Patriotic War and Ukrainian people on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of country's liberation from fascist invaders.

"In the years of the Great Patriotic War, the power of spirit and unity of our multinational nation, valor and sustaining power of warriors-liberators, guerrillas, resistance movement fighters and workers of the rear was showed in all their grandeur during heavy and bloody battles for Ukraine," the Kremlin press service quoted the president as saying.

"Our grandfathers and fathers together, in common ranks, were fighting courageously and selflessly for the freedom and independence of the Motherland, were defeating the enemy and were bringing a long-awaited victory closer."

"We should preserve carefully remarkable traditions of fraternal friendship and mutual assistance they left. This is extremely important to raise the growing generation with high patriotic values, actively counteract any attempts at reviving fascist ideology, instigation of inter-ethnic strife and falsification of our common history," Putin noted.

The Russian president wished "Ukrainian veterans of the Great Patriotic War good health, well-being and strong spirit and peace and prosperity to all fraternal people of Ukraine."
Vader

10 ways Obama has silenced American media, from intimidation to surveillance

Obama
© www.tpnn.com
After US President Barack Obama entered office in 2009 pledging transparency and open government, it was a refreshing wind of change from the locked-down Bush years. The reality, however, has fallen dramatically short of the promise.

10. White House seizes phone records of Associated Press reporters

During a two-month period in 2012, the US Justice Department seized telephone records from some 100 journalists at AP offices in New York, Washington and Connecticut without providing any explanation. The government waited until May 2013 to inform the global news agency of the unprecedented surveillance, which naturally sparked a wave of consternation and not a little apprehension throughout the media world. "There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters," AP Chief Executive Gary Pruitt said in a letter addressed to former Attorney General Eric Holder.
© AFP Photo / Jean Ayissi
9. Emmy-award winning reporter accuses government of bugging her laptop

In her book, "Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama's Washington," former CBS anchor Sharyl Attkisson says she was informed that one of the US government's intelligence agencies "discovered my Skype account handle, stole the password, activated the audio, and made heavy use of it, presumably as a listening tool." Further inspection of the laptop revealed classified US documents that were "buried deep" in her computer. The reason for the "plant," according to her unidentified source, "was probably to accuse you of having classified documents if they ever needed to do that at some point."
Brains & artistry behind my 2013 Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Journalism:Producer Kim Skeen,Editor Nancy Wyatt. pic.twitter.com/LHYrCyLGp1

- Sharyl Attkisson (@SharylAttkisson) October 12, 2013
8. News correspondent's emails monitored

In May 2013, Fox News correspondent James Rosen was accused under the Espionage Act of possibly being a "co-conspirator" in the 2009 release of classified information on North Korea's nuclear plans based on interviews with his Washington source. It was revealed that the US government monitored Rosen's emails, a clandestine activity that would seem to have little in common with the spirit of a free press. The charges came at a very peculiar time. Republican Senator Marco Rubio reminded that Rosen had been aggressively reporting on the 2012 Benghazi tragedy, which saw the US ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens killed during a massive protest. "The sort of reporting by James Rosen detailed in the report is the same sort of reporting that helped Mr. Rosen aggressively pursue questions about the Administration's handling of Benghazi." Was not-so-subtle pressure being exerted on Rosen to back off on Benghazi?
Network

Cybersecurity survey: 'Major' hacking attack in US looms

Cyber attacks

Cyber attacks might be taking a toll now, but just wait: a survey of experts says things are likely to get even worse in the US over the next decade

Cyber attacks might be taking a toll now, but just wait: a survey of experts says things are likely to get even worse in the US over the next decade.


A majority of cybersecurity experts surveyed in a poll see a likelihood of major damage from a cyber attack in the coming years, according to a Pew Research Center report.

From the 1,600 experts polled, 61 percent answered "yes" to the question: "By 2025, will a major cyber attack have caused widespread harm to a nation's security and capacity to defend itself and its people?"

"Widespread harm," the survey explained, would mean significant loss of life or property losses, damage, theft in the tens of billions of dollars.

"There was considerable agreement among these experts that individuals could be more vulnerable and businesses could persistently be under attack," said Lee Rainie, a co-author of the report and director of the Pew Research Center's Internet Project.

"They said essential utilities are a vulnerable target and theft and economic disruptions could be substantial."

The remaining 39 percent surveyed said major damage from a cyber attack could be avoided.

"Some confidently pointed out that the threat of counterattack might deter the worst," said Janna Anderson of Elon University's Imagining the Internet Center, which conducted the study with Pew.

"And many used the Cold War as a metaphor, saying severe harm is unlikely due to the threat of mutually assured disruption. Some said cyber threats are being exaggerated by people who might profit most from creating an atmosphere of fear."
Quenelle

Lavrov: U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria violate international law

© RIA Novosti. Sergey Pyatakov
According to the minister, overcoming the accumulated contradictions is only possible through the joint efforts of the international community, deepening of dialogue and partnership.
Airstrikes by the US-led coalition against the Islamic State group in Syria without the approval of the country's official government contradict international law, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.

"[We are] Convinced that the fight against terrorism and extremism should be built on a solid foundation of international law under the auspices of the UN Security Council. The practice of airstrikes on the IS on Syrian territory unilaterally without the agreement of the Syrian government does not comply with these principles," Lavrov stated.

"To ensure success in the fight against terrorism it is necessary to give high priority not only to the military threat posed by the jihadist groups, but also to the roots of this phenomenon," he added.

According to the minister, overcoming the accumulated contradictions is only possible through the joint efforts of the international community, deepening of dialogue and partnership.

The international anti-IS coalition launched by the United States in September is currently conducting air strikes against IS militants both in Syria and Iraq. In late September, Syrian President Bashar Assad said his country is ready to back international actions against the Islamic State on its territory as long as they are in line with the legal framework. He added that Syria should be notified first of any strikes before they are conducted.

The IS is a Sunni jihadist group that has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012. In June, it launched an offensive in Iraq, seizing vast areas in both countries and announcing the establishment of an Islamic caliphate on the territories under its control.
Extinguisher

N.Korea may invite UN rights investigator after Kim Jong-un prosecution threats

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un
© AFP Photo
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
For the first time in a decade, North Korean diplomats met a UN human rights investigator to discuss his possible visit to the country ahead of a UN General Assembly session, that could potentially lead to a trial by the International Criminal Court.

The hour-long meeting was unexpected, Marzuki Darusman told reporters on Tuesday, as Pyongyang officials had not met UN officials charged with investigating North Korea's human rights record for the past 10 years.

Darusman said the move appears to be motivated by the talk of legal action against Korea's leader Kim Jong-un.


Comment: This is an interesting development. Makes one wonder what really is North Korea's motivation.


In addition to Darusman, the UN's newly appointed High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, may be invited for a visit.

He said if such a visit were to materialize, he would require access to "any location, institution which would be of primary concern" to the world, particularly North Korea's prison camps. "A visit for the sake of visiting" won't do, he added.
Star of David

Obama officials call Netanyahu "chickenshit" and "coward" over Israeli decision-making in Middle East

© AFP Photo/Gali Tibbon
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
US-Israeli relations have sunk to new lows after Obama administration officials were cited calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a "chickenshit" and "coward" engaging in political posturing, instead of efforts at Middle-Eastern de-escalation.

The comments were delivered in a conversation with The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg on condition of anonymity. To many they symbolize the next step in a "full-blown crisis" of relations between the two, primarily over Netanyahu's relentless settlement-building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and the Iranian nuclear issue.

"The thing about Bibi is, he's a chickenshit," said one official, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname."The good thing about Netanyahu is that he's scared to launch wars. The bad thing about him is that he won't do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states,"he continued.

Goldberg keeps a running list of all the things US officials have ever called Netanyahu in interviews, and it's not small. "Aspergery" popped up, among other things. But it is the first time high-ranking officials have expressed their views of the Israeli leader in such a "gloves-off manner."
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