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Deputy commander of NATO's forces in Europe: "Must prepare for Russian attack!"

Adrian Bradshaw
© Ben Birchall/AFP/Getty Images
British Commander Land Forces Lieutenant General Adrian Bradshaw, used very strong language to convince of the nonexistent Russian threat. Good job!
Russian expansionist ambitions could quickly become "an obvious existential threat to our whole being", the most senior British military officer in Nato has said in a strongly worded speech.

General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, appointed last year as Nato's deputy commander of forces in Europe, said the alliance needed to develop both fast-reacting conventional forces and capacities to counter Russian efforts at coercion and propaganda, as seen in Ukraine.

Talking of "an era of constant competition with Russia", Bradshaw told an audience at the Royal United Services Institute that Nato had to maintain a cohesive system of deterrence on its eastern borders, something that would require help from the EU.

He said Nato was pushing ahead with plans for a very high readiness joint taskforce, "in order to convince Russia, or any other state adversary, that any attack on one Nato member will inevitably lead them into a conflict with the whole alliance".

David Cameron has warned Vladimir Putin of "more consequences" if a ceasefire in Ukraine does not hold. Speaking on a visit to Govan shipyard in Glasgow on Friday, the prime minister said the responsibility for what had happened in Ukraine "lies absolutely squarely with Vladimir Putin and Russia", and a strong response was needed.


Comment: The neonazis in Kiev that the US, NATO and EE enthroned, are asking for lethal weapons to start "a full scale war", which throws the Minsk agreements into the garbage bin, and Cameron and Bradshaw, yet again, blame... Russia!?

Ukrainian deputy foreign minister claims Kiev preparing for 'full-scale' war


Comment: For a deputy commander of NATO's forces, he sounds very prone to paranoid ideation and easily terrorized by imaginary threats...

Battery

Tesla: Bonfire of the money printers' vanities

© Reddit user s1lentway
The trouble with the money printing madness in the Eccles Building is that it generates huge deformations, misallocations and speculative excesses in the financial markets. Eventually these bubbles splatter, as they have twice this century. The resulting carnage, needless to say, is not small. Combined financial and real estate asset markdowns totaled about $7 trillion after the dotcom bust and $15 trillion during the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

Yes, the Fed has managed to reflate this cheap money bubble for the third time now, but the certainty that it will splatter once again is not the issue at hand. What gets lost in the serial bubble-making process of modern central banking is that vast real resources - labor, capital and materials - are misallocated owing to mispricing of stock, bonds and real estate during the bubble inflation phase.

Comment: Crony capitalism at its best no doubt.

Brick Wall

The battle behind the fog of propaganda: The 'Exceptional' U.S. suffers crushing defeat in Debaltsevo

"There's no city left. It's destroyed."

— Anonymous Ukrainian soldier following the battle of Debaltsevo
In less than a year, the United States has toppled the democratically-elected government of Ukraine, installed a Washington-backed stooge in Kiev, launched a bloody and costly war of annihilation on Russian-speaking people in the East, thrust the economy into a downward death spiral, and reduced the nation to an anarchic, failed state destined to endure a vicious fratricidal civil war for as far as the eye can see.

Last week, Washington suffered its greatest military defeat in more than a decade when Ukraine's US-backed army was soundly routed in the major railway hub of Debaltsevo. Roughly, 8,000 Ukrainian regulars along with untold numbers of tanks and armored units were surrounded in what-came-to-be-known-as "the cauldron." The army of the Donetsk Peoples Republic led by DPR commander Alexander Zakharchenko, encircled the invading army and gradually tightened the cordon, eventually killing or capturing most of the troops within the pocket. The Ukrainian Armed Forces suffered major casualties ranging between 3,000 to 3,500 while a vast amount of lethal military hardware was left behind.

According to Zakharchenko, "The amount of equipment Ukrainian units have lost here is beyond description."

Comment: This is the picture of Washington's blind pursuit of its undeclared war on Russia.

Bomb

Netanyahu after IAEA report: Iran's nuke program is 'hidden'

netanyahu
© Reuters / Ronen Zvulun
A new IAEA report has sparked a war of words ahead of key Geneva negotiations, with Israel claiming it proves that Iran is "preparing for the production of nuclear weapons," and Tehran insisting that it shows its "transparency."

"The agency remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear-related activities involving military-related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile," said a copy of a confidential document compiled by the International Atomic Energy Agency, obtained by the media in several countries late on Thursday.

Israel was more emphatic.

Comment: Next he'll say the Iranians have invisibility cloaks around their nuclear program. What the IAEA and the rest of the civilized world don't understand is that if Netanyahu says Iran has a nuclear weapons program, it does. How hard is that to understand? No need for evidence. Just take Bibi's word for it.

Safe

Small victory? Greece gets 4-month loan extension from Eurozone

Varoufakis
© Virginia Mayo/AP
Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis speaks during a media conference after a meeting of eurogroup finance ministers in Brussels.
The newly-elected Syriza government of Greece and its creditors from the 19-nation Eurozone have reportedly reached a draft deal for a loan extension to the country for another four months.

The specifics of the agreement, and the conditions imposed on Greece, have not yet been fully revealed to the public, but according to Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) in Washington, DC, the deal represents a "significant retreat" by the so-called troika and "shows that their austerity program, which has failed miserably, is no longer politically enforceable."

According to CEPR's preliminary analysis, the agreement gives Greece fiscal flexibility, lowering previous fiscal surplus constraints and forestalls the immediate threat of Greece being forced out of the eurozone through a loss of support from the European Central Bank (ECB). Media reports citing Greek officials familiar with the deal indicated that additional tax increases and cuts to pensions were not part of the agreement.

"European officials had a gun to the head of the Greek government, and they just pulled it away - at least for now," Weisbrot said.

Comment: For more background on the negotiations, see:

USA

Ukraine crisis highlights the failures of Western civilization

War party bigotry and hate may be enough to drive neo-Nazis leading Kiev in the Ukraine civil war. But the reverse blame of Putin and Russia by corporate media and states has a deeper interest. It propels the geostrategic economic and military war of movement through East Europe to Russia. It is the indispensible big lie to mask their set up for foreign financial predation. A big pay-off matrix looms in Ukraine for US-led arms corporations and military services, agribusiness and GMO's, speculator funds on debts and currency, monopoly providers of privatized social services, Big Oil frackers for newly discovered rich deposits, junk food suppliers like Poroshenko in US-frankenfood alliance, and - last but not least - the IMF money party waging a war of dispossession by financial means.

The IMF enforces the global money-sequence cancer system by its defining policy commands on debt-impoverished countries to open them up to foreign feeding on their domestic markets and fire-sale enterprises, drastically reduced workers' wages and benefits, stripped public pensions, healthcare and education, sell-off of historic infrastructures to pay ever more bank-created debts, and - in general- multiplying transnational money demand and profit invading their life functions at all levels. The IMF and Wall Street have been cumulatively hollowing out Africa, Latin America, South-East Asia, South Europe and the US itself in these ways over 35 years. Now it is the turn of the once social democratic Europe, state by state, beginning with the most indebted and helpless. Ukraine on the outskirts of Europe next to Russia is where the military option has been required to strip it and its former Slavic economic union with Russia. This historic relationship has been the last line of life defence in the way, a conservative but sharing ethos of resource-rich societies with Putin as a superior leader facing the US-EU's many-times more powerful economic levers and lethal arms to bully him and Russia into submission.

To take the naturally rich Ukraine for transnational bank and corporate looting, the public must be sold the story of Putin as the villain. Only then can debt screws be applied and the country opened to long-term and full-spectrum financial, foreign and oligarch control beneath the people's notice. The IMF is already in motion to ensure that the Kiev coup state provides all of this. Few observe the underlying fact that the crushing bank debt eating societies alive across the world is all debt money created by big private banks with no legal tender to back 97% of it. Ukraine is the latest nation to fall into the deadly trap without a sound. Here public money for public need is ended, although it created the US itself. As Ben Franklin has testified, to regain public money issue was the prime reason for the American Revolution. Public banking was also what made modern Canada from 1938 to 1974 by public investment money without private debt-servicing loaned by the public Bank of Canada for construction of Canada's material and social infrastructures from the St Lawrence Seaway to public pensions and universal healthcare.
Cell Phone

The Great SIM Heist: How spies stole the keys to the encryption castle

American and Brittish spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The hack was perpetrated by a joint unit consisting of operatives from the NSA and its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. The breach, detailed in a secret 2010 GCHQdocument, gave the surveillance agencies the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world's cellular communications, including both voice and data.

The company targeted by the intelligence agencies, Gemalto, is a multinational firm incorporated in the Netherlands that makes the chips used in mobile phones and next-generation credit cards. Among its clients are AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and some 450 wireless network providers around the world. The company operates in 85 countries and has more than 40 manufacturing facilities. One of its three global headquarters is in Austin, Texas and it has a large factory in Pennsylvania.

AT&T SIM Cards produced in bulk
In all, Gemalto produces some 2 billion SIM cards a year. Its motto is "Security to be Free."

With these stolen encryption keys, intelligence agencies can monitor mobile communications without seeking or receiving approval from telecom companies and foreign governments. Possessing the keys also sidesteps the need to get a warrant or a wiretap, while leaving no trace on the wireless provider's network that the communications were intercepted. Bulk key theft additionally enables the intelligence agencies to unlock any previously encrypted communications they had already intercepted, but did not yet have the ability to decrypt.

As part of the covert operations against Gemalto, spies from GCHQ — with support from the NSA — mined the private communications of unwitting engineers and other company employees in multiple countries.

Gemalto was totally oblivious to the penetration of its systems — and the spying on its employees. "I'm disturbed, quite concerned that this has happened," Paul Beverly, a Gemalto executive vice president, told The Intercept. "The most important thing for me is to understand exactly how this was done, so we can take every measure to ensure that it doesn't happen again, and also to make sure that there's no impact on the telecom operators that we have served in a very trusted manner for many years. What I want to understand is what sort of ramifications it has, or could have, on any of our customers." He added that "the most important thing for us now is to understand the degree" of the breach.

Leading privacy advocates and security experts say that the theft of encryption keys from major wireless network providers is tantamount to a thief obtaining the master ring of a building superintendent who holds the keys to every apartment. "Once you have the keys, decrypting traffic is trivial," says Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union. "The news of this key theft will send a shock wave through the security community."

Beverly said that after being contacted by The Intercept, Gemalto's internal security team began on Wednesday to investigate how their system was penetrated and could find no trace of the hacks. When asked if the NSA or GCHQ had ever requested access to Gemalto-manufactured encryption keys, Beverly said, "I am totally unaware. To the best of my knowledge, no."

According to one secret GCHQ slide, the British intelligence agency penetrated Gemalto's internal networks, planting malware on several computers, giving GCHQ secret access. We "believe we have their entire network," the slide's author boasted about the operation against Gemalto.

Additionally, the spy agency targeted unnamed cellular companies' core networks, giving it access to "sales staff machines for customer information and network engineers machines for network maps." GCHQ also claimed the ability to manipulate the billing servers of cell companies to "suppress" charges in an effort to conceal the spy agency's secret actions against an individual's phone. Most significantly, GCHQ also penetrated "authentication servers," allowing it to decrypt data and voice communications between a targeted individual's phone and his or her telecom provider's network. A note accompanying the slide asserted that the spy agency was "very happy with the data so far and [was] working through the vast quantity of product."

The Mobile Handset Exploitation Team (MHET), whose existence has never before been disclosed, was formed in April 2010 to target vulnerabilities in cellphones. One of its main missions was to covertly penetrate computer networks of corporations that manufacture SIM cards, as well as those of wireless network providers. The team included operatives from both GCHQ and the NSA.

While the FBI and other U.S. agencies can obtain court orders compelling U.S.-based telecom companies to allow them to wiretap or intercept the communications of their customers, on the international front this type of data collection is much more challenging. Unless a foreign telecom or foreign government grants access to their citizens' data to a U.S. intelligence agency, the NSA or CIA would have to hack into the network or specifically target the user's device for a more risky "active" form of surveillance that could be detected by sophisticated targets. Moreover, foreign intelligence agencies would not allow U.S. or U.K. spy agencies access to the mobile communications of their heads of state or other government officials.

"It's unbelievable. Unbelievable," said Gerard Schouw, a member of the Dutch Parliament, when told of the spy agencies' actions. Schouw, the intelligence spokesperson for D66, the largest opposition party in the Netherlands, told The Intercept, "We don't want to have the secret services from other countries doing things like this." Schouw added that he and other lawmakers will ask the Dutch government to provide an official explanation and to clarify whether the country's intelligence services were aware of the targeting of Gemalto, whose official headquarters is in Amsterdam.

Last November, the Dutch government amended its constitution to include explicit protection for the privacy of digital communications, including those made on mobile devices. "We have, in the Netherlands, a law on the [activities] of secret services. And hacking is not allowed," Schouw said. Under Dutch law, the interior minister would have to sign off on such operations by foreign governments' intelligence agencies. "I don't believe that he has given his permission for these kind of actions."

The U.S. and British intelligence agencies pulled off the encryption key heist in great stealth, giving them the ability to intercept and decrypt communications without alerting the wireless network provider, the foreign government or the individual user that they have been targeted. "Gaining access to a database of keys is pretty much game over for cellular encryption," says Matthew Green, a cryptography specialist at the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute. The massive key theft is "bad news for phone security. Really bad news."
Attention

Ukrainian deputy foreign minister claims Kiev preparing for 'full-scale' war

© AFP 2015/ ANATOLII STEPANOV
Ukrainian deputy foreign minister claimed Kiev was preparing for a "full-scale" war and urged Canada to send lethal assistance to the country in a radio interview.

Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said in an interview with Canadian radio that Kiev was getting ready for a full-scale war.

"We don't want to scare everybody, but we are preparing for full-scale war," Prystaiko claimed.


Comment: War is scary no matter how you slice it.


He also called on Canada to send lethal arms to Ukraine adding that the country has been training Kiev forces during the last ten years.

Comment: Will Canada step up its assistance to Ukraine in violation of the Minsk Agreements to help the US warhawks?

Meanwhile his boss, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, wants weapons in order to maintain peace!

Nuke

IAEA forced to review Iran's alleged nuke arms program after CIA-planted 'evidence' was revealed

© AFP Photo / Press TV
Centrifuges at Iran's Nantanz nuclear site.
Doctored blueprints for nuclear weapon components supplied to Iran by the CIA 15 years ago could force the IAEA to review its conclusions on Iran's atomic program, which was potentially based on misleading intelligence, Bloomberg reports.

The details of the Central Intelligence Agency operation back in 2000 were made public as part of a judicial hearing into a case involving Jeffrey Sterling, an agent convicted of leaking classified information on CIA spying against Iran.

"The goal is to plant this substantial piece of deception information on the Iranian nuclear-weapons program, sending them down blind alleys, wasting their time and money," a May 1997 CIA cable submitted to the court reads.

The intelligence in question pertains to fake designs of atomic components that were transferred to Iran in February 2000.

Comment: Smoke and mirrors courtesy of the intelligence agencies pursuing an agenda to produce certain outcomes.

Bad Guys

What could possibly go wrong? Company presses forward on plans to ship fracking wastewater via barge in Ohio River, drawing objections from locals

barge
© Shutterstock
A major dispute is brewing over transporting wastewater from shale gas wells by barge in the Ohio River, the source of drinking water for millions of Americans.

On January 26, GreenHunter Water announced that it had been granted approval by the U.S. Coast Guard to haul tens of thousands of barrels from its shipping terminal and 70,000-barrel wastewater storage facility on the Ohio River in New Matamoras, Ohio.

"The U.S. Coast Guard approval is a significant 'win' for both GreenHunter Resources and our valued clients," Kirk Trosclair, Chief Operating Officer at GreenHunter Resources, Inc., said in a statement announcing the Coast Guard's approval. "Our ability to transport disposal volumes via barge will significantly reduce our costs, improve our margins and allow us to pass along savings to our clients."

Outraged environmental advocates immediately objected to the news.

"Despite the thousands of comments from residents along the Ohio River opposing the risk of allowing toxic, radioactive fracking waste to be barged along the Ohio River, the Coast Guard quietly approved the plan at the end of 2014," said Food & Water Watch Ohio Organizer Alison Auciello.

"The Coast Guard is risking man-made earthquakes, drinking water contamination, leaks and spills. This approval compromises not only the health and safety of the millions who get their drinking water from the Ohio River but will increase the amount of toxic fracking waste that will be injected underground in Southeast Ohio."

But the company's announcement was in fact made before the Coast Guard completed its review of the hazards of hauling shale gas wastewater via the nation's waterways - a process so controversial given the difficulty of controlling mid-river spills and the unique challenges of handling the radioactivity in Marcellus shale brine that proposed Coast Guard rules have drawn almost 70,000 public comments.
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