Welcome to Sott.net
Mon, 26 Sep 2016
The World for People who Think

Puppet Masters


UK government departments suffer 9,000 data security breaches in just 1 year

© Pawel Kopczynski / Reuters
Personal data security was breached nearly 9,000 times in UK government departments in one year, according to a damning report from the National Audit Office (NAO).

The watchdog revealed the 17 largest departments recorded 8,995 data breaches in 2014-15, but that only 14 were reported to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) was the worst offender, with 6,041 breaches and just three reported to the ICO. Almost all of those not reported were "minor" breaches that "potentially had an impact on customers but were not managed centrally by the department."

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) had 2,801 breaches and also reported just three to the ICO.

Under the Data Protection Act, Whitehall departments can decide which personal data breaches to report to the ICO. However, the NAO said it was impossible to determine how serious the thousands of incidents not disclosed to the commissioner were.

Comment: The 'new approach' seems to be to create yet another government bureaucratic behemoth.

"The new cyber agency of UK spy center GCHQ is gearing up to build a 'great firewall' to block malicious sites used for hostile cyber attacks and combat cybercrime.

The flagship DNS filtering program will involve automating defenses against unsophisticated but high-volume cyber attacks, the head of the new National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), Ciaran Martin, told a conference in Washington, DC.

The program, which is currently being trialed on public sector IT networks, is aimed primarily at protecting government sites and the infrastructure of industries important to national security, such as power and transport."
But they'll try to make a few quid on the side too. Gotta love capitalism.
"However, it will also be offered to consumers and major IT companies such as BT, Sky and Virgin Media on an opt-in basis."


North Korea dismisses US bomber flyover as 'bluff'

© Steve Thurow / Reuters
B-1B Lancer bombers
North Korea has said the recent US bomber flight over South Korea was no more than a "bluff" and a "laughing stock" for the whole world. It has nevertheless warned that such "reckless provocations" should stop.

Pyongyang state media is rarely picky with its choice of words when it comes to South Korea or the US. The latest outburst has been sparked by the flight of two supersonic B-1 Lancer strategic bombers belonging to the United States over South Korea on Tuesday.

"[This] farce is no more than a bluff to free the puppet military of rapidly growing war phobia and war-weariness and fan up war hysteria," Minju Joson, a state-run North Korean government newspaper, said.


The world is turning ugly as 2016 approaches final quarter

© www.wallstreetdaily.com
One of the signs of the times. There are others...
I have to say that the negative reverberations in our current economic and political environment are becoming so strong that it is impossible for people to not feel at least some uneasiness in their gut. I imagine this is the same kind of sensation many felt from 1914 to 1918 during World War I and the terrible birth of communism, or perhaps in the early 1930s at the onset of the Great Depression and the rise of fascism. Some global changes are so disturbing that they send shockwaves through the collective unconscious before they ever hit the mainstream. People know that something is about to happen, even if they cannot yet clearly define it.

Comment: Well, this doesn't look good for EU or the US, even if only part of this comes to be. The scariest thing is it really looks plausible, given the context and 'run up' in rhetoric by significantly positioned people in various governments. When certain phrasings become prevalent, the actions to 'make it so' have already begun. If it comes full on, 'crisis' doesn't even begin to address it.

The following is a segment from a 1981 movie that hits the nail:

Stock Up

Kerry's State Department funneled millions through the Peace Corps to daughter's nonprofit program

© blurbrain.com
Kerry & Kerry, well connected
More than $9 million of Department of State money has been funneled through the Peace Corps to a nonprofit foundation started and run by Secretary of State John Kerry's daughter, documents obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation show. The Department of State funded a Peace Corps program created by Dr. Vanessa Kerry and officials from both agencies, records show. The Peace Corps then awarded the money without competition to a nonprofit Kerry created for the program.

Initially, the Peace Corps awarded Kerry's group — now called Seed Global Health — with a three-year contract worth $2 million of State Department money on Sept. 10, 2012, documents show. Her father was then the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which oversees both the Department of State and the Peace Corps.

Seed secured a four-year extension in September 2015, again without competition. This time, the Peace Corps gave the nonprofit $6.4 million provided by the Department of State while John Kerry was secretary of state. Seed also received almost $1 million from a modification to the first award, as well as from Department of State funds the group secured outside the Peace Corps.

The Peace Corps program — called the Global Health Service Partnership (GHSP) — sends volunteer physicians and nurses to medical and nursing schools in Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Liberia, according to Seed's website. More than 40 clinical educators worked at 13 sites in the 2014-2015 program.

Kerry and government officials colluded to launch the program and ensure that Seed would get the contract.

Comment: Conflict of Interest? Eyebrows tend to raise when something whiffs of insider advantage. (Just curiosity: What is the Seed Global Health's mandate on vaccinations?)


UK Foreign Affairs report: Cameron "ultimately responsible" for Libyan strategy that destroyed the country and led to rise of ISIS

The UK strategy in Libya was based on erroneous facts, and the operation to protect civilians turned into "regime change by military means," a report by UK Foreign Affairs Select Committee said, adding that ex-PM David Cameron is "ultimately responsible." The report dubbed "Libya: Examination of intervention and collapse and the United Kingdom's future policy options" was released on Wednesday.

"In March 2011, the United Kingdom and France, with the support of the United States, led the international community to support an intervention in Libya to protect civilians from attacks by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi," the report stated. However, this policy was not informed "by accurate intelligence" and a limited intervention "to protect civilians drifted into a policy of regime change by military means."

"UK strategy was founded on erroneous assumptions and an incomplete understanding of the evidence." ... "The [UK] Government failed to identify that the threat to civilians was overstated and that the rebels included a significant Islamist element," the report says.

Stock Down

Awww, that's a shame: Warren Buffett loses $1.4 billion as Wells Fargo scandal sends shares tumbling

© Left: Getty Images; right: AP
Warren Buffett had $1.4 billion wiped from his fortune Tuesday after Wells Fargo & Co. fell 3.3 percent as the fallout continued from revelations that bank employees had opened more than 2 million accounts without clients' approval.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the lender's biggest shareholder, fell 2 percent, causing the 86-year-old's fortune to drop more than anyone else's on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The U.S. investor is the world's fourth-richest person with a net worth of $65.8 billion.

Tuesday's decline came amid a global equity sell off that has wiped out $93 billion from the world's 400 biggest fortunes since Friday. The billionaires shed $37.3 billion Tuesday as stocks and bonds both slumped, and oil sank after the International Energy Agency's prediction that a glut will extend into next year.

Your cheat sheet on life, in one weekly email.Get our weekly Game Plan newsletter.Sign UpThe world's second-richest person, Inditex SA founder Amancio Ortega, leads the 400 richest people with a decline of $3.3 billion since the sell off began, according to the index. Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates, the world's richest person with $87.3 billion, has lost $2.4 billion. Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos, the world's third-richest person with $66.2 billion, has shed $1.9 billion. Buffett, whose fortune is mostly in Berkshire shares, has lost $1.6 billion in the sell off.

Wells Fargo was overtaken by JPMorgan Chase & Co. as the world's most valuable bank on Tuesday. It has fallen 5.9 percent since Thursday, when the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced fines stemming from the fake accounts. The drop since Thursday compares with a 2.5 percent fall for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index.

Comment: See also:


Killary's email scandal is much bigger than her warmongering self

In yet another sign that the establishment media has completely lost any semblance of a grounding in reality, the Washington Post just opined that "The Hillary Clinton email story is out of control," whining about how much attention the story of Clinton's homebrew email system is receiving in this campaign. This despite the fact that the facts on the ground here are incontrovertible:
  • Hillary Clinton used a private (and unsecured) email server for official State Department communications during her time as Secretary of State.
  • She asked aides to "wipe her servers" after the State Department finally got around to asking her for emails related to her public record; they responded by smashing her 13 blackberries with hammers.
  • She withheld 17,500 work related emails from FBI agents.
  • She lied about receiving classified material over the server.
  • The best the FBI could do in deciding not to prosecute her (after the mysterious tarmac meeting between Loretta and Bill) was to say she was too stupid to know that "c" meant classified and that her actions were extremely careless.
  • If she had been anyone else, Hillary Clinton would have been in jail by now.
© The Washington Post
But never mind all of that; the Washington Post has decided that the public is too concerned about the issue so I guess it's time to move on, right?

Wrong. Thankfully this is 2016 not 1966, and the dinosaur media no longer dictates the news cycle like they used to. CNN and the NYT can call it a "stumble" all they want, but we've seen the video; we know that Clinton's feet didn't move at all and she was literally dragged into that van. Similarly, we don't have to take the talking heads word for it; we know that Clinton broke the law with the emails, tried to lie her way out of it, and has only gotten away with it because of her political connections (and the body count, of course; let's not forget the body count).

But as it turns out, there's an even bigger story here than Clinton's illegal activities or the establishment media's willingness to cover it up.

Comment: When all else fails, Clinton tries to pin her email scandal on the black guy


New York Attorney-General begins investigation into Donald J. Trump Foundation

The New York Attorney-General has opened an investigation into the Donald J. Trump Foundation, citing "impropriety" concerns.

"My interest in this issue really is in my capacity as regulator of nonprofits in New York state," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Tuesday, speaking to CNN's 'The Lead.' "And we have been concerned that the Trump Foundation may have engaged in some impropriety from that point of view... and we've inquired into it, and we've had correspondence with them. I didn't make a big deal out of it or hold a press conference. We have been looking into the Trump Foundation to make sure it's complying with the laws governing charities in New York."

Following news of the investigation, Jason Miller, a senior communications adviser for the Trump campaign, called Schneiderman "a partisan hack who has turned a blind eye to the Clinton Foundation for years and has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president."

This is nothing more than another left-wing hit job designed to distract from Crooked Hillary Clinton's disastrous week," Miller said.

Comment: While Trump's business dealings have a long track record of being highly dubious, it is terribly obvious that the Democratic political machine is going after him with everything they can.


Détente can work: Kerry and Lavrov's Syrian talks show the value of diplomatic engagement

© Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva, Switzerland, on September 9, 2016.
Serious observers understand that working with Russia to ease Syria's civil war is the only way to stop the crisis.

In Geneva on Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, announced a plan to impose a cease-fire in Syria beginning Monday evening, September 12.

Provided the cessation of hostilities holds for seven days—which is no sure thing—the United States and Russia will take, in the words of Lavrov, "coordinated steps" to target both ISIS and the extremist al-Nusra Front, recently rebranded as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. The agreement, which the Syrian government supports, also calls for the grounding of the Syrian air force over non-ISIS held territory and for the creation of a humanitarian corridor to supply the besieged city of Aleppo.

While Lavrov correctly noted on Friday that "no one can give a 100 percent guarantee" that the plan will achieve its objective, the American war party lost little time in trying to undermine the diplomatic breakthrough. As the AP reported on Friday, the "proposed level of U.S.-Russian interaction has upset several leading national security officials in Washington, including Defense Secretary Ash Carter."

Meanwhile, the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Texas Congressman Michael McCaul, appeared on MSNBC Monday morning, telling Joe Scarborough, "I don't really trust the Russians." One prominent neoconservative pundit sneered, "If Donald Trump wins the presidential election in November, he might want to make Secretary of State John Kerry his special envoy for U.S.-Russian cooperation in the war on terror." Whether or not hardliners like McCaul trust the Russians, securing a cease-fire would go a long way toward addressing the rapidly unraveling humanitarian crisis on the ground, while increased US-Russian cooperation might lead to the defeat of ISIS and al-Nusra in Syria.

Comment: Diplomatic discussions are better than armed aggression to be sure, but it was Russia's skill in managing the Syrian situation that more or less forced the U.S. to the table. By outmanoeuvring the U.S.' attempt overthrow Assad with its proxy army of Saudi-funded head-chopping jihadists, the Empire had no choice but to engage with Russia. To do otherwise would have blatantly exposed the hypocrisy of its actions in Syria for the world to see.


Oliver Stone: DNC hack was 'probably an inside job,' not Russia

© Mark Blinch / Reuters
During an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday, director Oliver Stone accused the Democratic National Committee of hacking itself. Asked by the host what he makes of the reports that Russian hackers breached the DNC's email server and fed information to WikiLeaks in an attempt to influence the U.S. presidential election, Stone called that idea a "great fiction."

The director, currently promoting his biopic of Edward Snowden, said the intelligence experts he has spoken with indicated that the DNC hack was "probably an inside job." He went on to specify that he believed the hack was perpetrated by Democrats within the committee.

The revelations from the hack led directly to the resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other high-level officials.