Black Sabbath “War Pigs”

Black Sabbath “War Pigs”

Black Sabbath “War Pigs”

The Calamity News and Politics Jukebox Choice of the Day is from the premier metal band (my opinion) BLACK SABBATH doing their powerful anti war song, “War Pigs”.  Support Ukraine. Donate to UNICEF Ukraine Relief.

Putin’s War On Humanity

Putin’s War On Humanity

The people of Ukraine are valiantly fighting to halt Russian assault.

Putin’s War On Humanity

By Anonymous

 

No Words

Empathy is a word that gets tossed around a lot. And yet, when we put it to use in times of tragedy, it does little to solve the matters at hand—except, perhaps, to stay that hand from causing further destruction.

I Can Imagine

Right now, I’m mother of one with another on the way. I could be one of those terrified Ukrainians running from bombs, one hand holding my child’s and the other clutching my belly. For a moment, I can place myself there: terror, frustration, and determination all coursing through my veins as I fear for my family’s wellbeing, wondering if my husband would be running with us or staying behind to defend our country and our democratic way of life.

Loud and Ugly

There is much at stake, and although it doesn’t always feel real to us, as we’re scrolling through the news on our phones and sipping our coffee, the reality of injury and death is a stark possibility for those simply living in any war torn region of the world. Now, Ukraine has become a war zone due to the madness of one man, Vladimir Putin. Putin’s ilk is nothing new. Sadly, such strongmen take over countries and strip citizens of self determination, someplace in the world on a nearly daily basis. Some countries fall quietly. Such is not the case with Ukraine, the fight there is loud and ugly, as Ukrainian civilians take up arms to fight back against the Russian invaders.

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Russian Cyber Attacks Targets and Purpose

Russian Cyber Attacks Targets and Purpose

Russian hackers are causing world wide problems.

Russian Cyber Attacks Targets and Purpose

By Joseph Wales and D. S. Mitchell

 

A Consistent Threat

Headlines linking Russia to a web of cyber attacks against a variety of sovereign nations has become daily bread for decision-makers and the public alike. Whether it’s the NotPetya attack, the recent shut down of the Colonial Pipeline, or meddling in foreign elections; Russia is a consistent and aggravating threat. Russia uses cyber operations alongside non-military and military methods to pursue its strategic goals. It views this as an ongoing information confrontation.

Back in Time

Russia began attacks on the United States in 1996 with the Moonlight Maze attack. The Moonlight Maze resulted in the theft of a massive amount of classified information from several U.S. government agencies. Those effected included NASA, the Department of Energy, the Defense Department, and numerous private sector entities and defense contractors. The attack caused a serious breach, compromising national security interests, strategies, and capabilities.

Ukraine Intimidation

Russian state-sponsored attacks are on the rise, most famously Russian cyber ninjas are behind the recent mischief in Ukraine. Several cyber events have  knocked out major government websites this month. This cyber-intrusion is aimed to intimidate society and destabilize the situation in the country, stopping the work in the public sector, and crushing citizens trust in the governing authorities.

What It Includes

Russia’s cyber warfare units employ hacker attacks, internet surveillance SORM technology, dissemination of  propaganda and misinformation, political trolling, and all means of social media manipulation. Most of these attacks, although not technically in house operations,  are still coordinated by the Russian FSB. The FSB replaced the notorious KGB, but a change in initials doesn’t change the mission.

How Many From Russia?

Over the past year, 58% of all cyber-attacks observed by Microsoft from nation-states came from Russia. Moreover, these attacks are increasingly effective, jumping from a 21% rate in 2020, to a 32% successful compromise rate in 2021. Russian nation-state attacks are increasingly targeting government agencies for intelligence gathering, which saw a hike from 3% to 53% in a year—these attacks target agencies involved in national security, defense, and foreign policy. The top three nations targeted by Russian cyber attacks were Ukraine, UK, and the United States.

Common Causes For Cyber Attacks

Most often, cyber-attacks occur because the attackers want something:

  • IT infrastructure
  • Clients’ lists
  • Customer database
  • Customers or staff’ email addresses and login details
  • Sensitive personal data
  • Customers’ financial details such as credit card data
  • Business’ financial details

Russian Motives

Putin’s motivation is different.  Putin life goal is to restore the territory lost with the collapse of the former Soviet Union. The Russian president views cyber-attacks as a natural extension for achieving his goals. For instance, how the Russian military hacked Olympic enemies for revenge, and how it hacked the Democratic National Committee to bolster Trump’s chances in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Russians are mainly interested in influence operations without physical manipulation.

Classic Influence Operation

What we saw in the 2016 U. S. elections was a classic influence operation. This was also Putin’s aim when hacking Russia’s perceived Olympic enemies. Russia wanted information it could use against these enemies in social media campaigns. Manipulation of the news, creating new mind sets, instigating social rifts.

China, A Different Animal

On the other hand, China has also been actively involved in passive cyber-attacks. However, in the case of China, their main focus seems to center on economic, technology both military and civilian. They are going after intellectual property and stealing it to improve their advantage in world trade. For instance, they infiltrated and copied the plans of the fighter jets F-35 and F-22. The Chinese now have the largest navy in the world, thanks to learning many western secrets. The issues of Hong Kong and Taiwan are just below the surface.

Any Cut Back Coming?

Evelyn Farkas, a former defense official for Obama, argued that the Russian government would not be stopping state-sponsored cyber-attacks against America or any other nation, unless the consequences  were so painful that continuation of such behavior would be unthinkable. Despite President Biden’s meeting with Putin recently, the Russians seem immovable, denying responsibility for their ongoing computer attacks. During their meeting, Biden argued that some crucial infrastructures such as energy and water systems should be off-limits to any type of attack. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is enough mettle in the whole of the U.S. government to go after Putin and/or Xi Jinping with a cyber sledge hammer. Unless Putin and his cyber ninja forces are caused real pain, the attacks will continue.

 

Russian Mercenary Drama in Mali

Russian Mercenary Drama in Mali

Mali is a landlocked country in western Africa

Russian Mercenary Drama in Mali

By Nicholas Waithaka and D. S. Mitchell

Increasing Instability in Mali

Mali has been a hotbed of political unrest for decades, making it vulnerable to external interference from players like Russia and China. Over the past few months, reports indicate that the head of Mali’s military junta, Colonel Assimi Goita, has negotiated a deal that would bring approximately 1,000 mercenaries from the Wagner Group into the country. Mali has had escalating security and political problems, but a turn to international paramilitary actors may become the proverbial slippery slope.

A Spiderweb Of Interference

The Wagner group, first appeared in Ukraine in 2014, where it assisted the Russian military in the annexation of Crimea. Since then, a spiderweb of paramilitaries, mercenary organizations, and businesses interestingly linked to Vladimir Putin and Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin have emerged under the general name; the Wagner Group.

Encouraging Instability 

In Syria the Wagner Group supported embattled President Bashar al-Assad while securing a foothold in the country’s energy sector.  In other unstable areas around the world such as Libya, Sudan, Madagascar, Mozambique and now Mali, a Russian paramilitary group is providing military support to unpopular, and undemocratic governments. The Wagner Group has become a shorthand name for a mostly opaque and extensive network of mercenary services. In fact, U.S. intelligence services caution the benign name may disrupt our ability to think about what they do and how they operate.

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Lost Afghan Baby Reunited With Family

Lost Afghan Baby Reunited With Family

Despite all the bad news coming out of Afghanistan there was some good news.

Lost Afghan Baby Reunited With Family

At long last, some happy news out of Afghanistan. After an agonizing five months a baby lost during the chaotic American military evacuation has been reunited with family members in Kabul.

By D. S. Mitchell

 

Left With A Soldier

On August 19th, 2021 thousands of people rushed the Kabul airport trying to leave Afghanistan, in the wake of the U.S military withdrawal. Anyone who was watching on television saw the chaos that unfolded.  After twenty years of military occupation America was pulling out. In the chaos of the evacuation the father of a then 2 month old boy, Sohail Ahmadi, left him in the care of an Afghan Republican soldier. The boy and soldier somehow, yet unclear, became separated.

A Taxi Pick Up

A taxi driver told social service officials and reporters from Reuter’s News Service that he had found the baby alone and crying, abandoned on the floor of the airport. By his report, the driver searched the area for the child’s family but was unsuccessful. On his wife’s advice the man took the baby home. The couple’s initial attempts to locate the parents of Sohail were unsuccessful. The couple gave him the name Mohammad Abed. “If we had not found his family then we would have protected and raised him as our own child,” the taxi driver Hamid Safi told news reporters.

Mournful Goodbye

Sohail’s father, Mirza Ali Ahmadi, said he searched for 3 days at the airport for his missing son. In utter despair he said, he finally boarded a plane to the United States with his wife and their four other children. Months after the departure,  with the help of social media channels, several emergency relief agencies and local police, the relatives of Sohail were tracked down in Kabul just last week. It was at that time the boy was handed over to his grandfather.  The grandfather was elated, telling reporters that Sohail will be cared for by his aunt until he can be cleared to join his parents in the United States.

Tears of Sadness, Tears of Joy

It was a sad goodbye for the taxi driver, his wife,  and their three daughters. Mrs. Taxi Driver, Safi’s wife Farima said, “I felt responsible for him like a mother. He used to wake up a lot at night. Now when I wake up he is not there and that makes me cry. I am a mother. I understand he will not be with us always and he needs to be with his parents,”

Sohail’s Father 

‘We were in a bad condition these past five plus months,” Sohail’s  father reported, after they had had a video reunion, “but now that our son has been found we are happy,”  The case of Sohail Ahmadi has a happy ending, but for many other children separated from their families in a war torn world this outcome is rare and we should celebrate it.

Martin Niemoller “First They Came”

Martin Niemoller “FIRST THEY CAME”

Sometimes it doesn't take a lot of words to tell the story

“First They Came” was written by anti-Nazi pastor, Martin Niemoller. The message is clear.

 

First They Came

By Martin Niemöller

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.

Violence Erupts In Kazakhstan

Violence Erupts In Kazakhstan

Violence erupts in former Soviet state

Editor Update: *Kazakhstan is a Central Asian country and former Soviet Union state. It extends from the Caspian Sea in the west to the Altai Mountains where it borders both China and Russia. Almaty is its largest city, and a long-standing trading hub between east and west.

Things have quieted down in Kazakhstan after more than a week of protests across the country. The 2,500 troops (part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization) sent by Russia at the request of Kazakhstani President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev have announced their intent to withdraw.

Over 8,000 people have been arrested and at least 164 people have been killed. 

Violence Erupts In Kazakhstan

 

By MAHINROOP PM

Shortages Trigger Unrest

Dozens of people were killed in clashes between protesters and security forces in the central Asian country of Kazakhstan. Police have killed dozens of rioters as violence escalated across the country. According to state television, 13 security forces personnel have so far been killed in the riots. The Presidential residence and the Mayor’s office in Almaty were set ablaze. It has been reported that the city’s airport is under military control. In turn, cars were set on fire by the protestors and blocked and littered the streets of Almaty.

Russian Paratroopers Deployed

The riots in Kazakhstan started as a protest against fuel shortages and sharp price hikes and it was later transformed into anti-government protest. In response, a state of emergency was declared January 5th, and an appeal for help to the  Collective Security Treaty Organization(CSTO) was issued. The CSTO is a military alliance of former Soviet Union states. Russia sent in paratroopers to restore order. Several armed personnel and a number of troops entered the main square of Almaty on Thursday and a clash with rioters ensued for a third consecutive day.

Terror Returns With A Bang

The square appeared peaceful later with hundreds of protestors still gathered, but there was no troop presence. Unverified videos on social media platforms showed troops patrolling Almaty’s streets overnight and firing weapons. The government has since shut down the internet across Kazakhstan.  At least for now it is impossible to confirm the full extent of violence. The riots were unprecedented for the former Soviet Union territory. The President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has reinstated a fuel price cap for six months.  In addition, he has announced actions against Nursultan Nazarbayev who has ruled for the last 30 years. and other top officials and family members of Nazarbayev. 

 

Hong Kong Freedoms Under Attack

Hong Kong Freedoms Under Attack

Unrest in Hong Kong has the world watching

Hong Kong Freedoms Under Attack

Continuing anti-democratic crackdowns in Hong Kong are alarming many in the west.

 

By Nicholas Waithaka and D. S. Mitchell

A Little History

On July 1, 1997 the UK transferred sovereignty over Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China. Hong Kong is now a Special Administrative Region of the PRC.  At the time of the transfer, Chinese officials promised to preserve as much of Hong Kong’s unique attributes as possible. In fact, a 50-year autonomous stretch was declared. During the autonomous period Hong Kong was to keep its capitalist structures and its western freedoms. The plan was to integrate Hong Kong with motherland China while preserving the political and economic systems that had developed under the British.

The 1984 Declaration

The Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 outlined the territory’s “one country, two systems” future. That principle is enshrined in a document called the Basic Law – in effect, Hong Kong’s mini constitution. Although the Chinese central government does not have power over Hong Kong per say; the central government does have the authority to interpret the basic laws. According to the terms of Hong Kong’s constitution (it’s basic law), the autonomous period is to last until 2047. From recent events 50 years is apparently longer than Beijing intends to wait.

National Security Law

In recent years, Beijing has begun interfering in Hong Kong’s political governance, notably cracking down on any form of dissent; peaceful or not.  Such central government actions fueled massive protests in Hong Kong between 2019-2021. In 2020, Beijing passed a controversial national security law and arrested dozens of pro-democracy activists and lawmakers. It is becoming clear that Beijing is intent on eroding the long-held freedoms of Hong Kong citizens.

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EDITORIAL: Flirting With Nazis Is Dangerous

EDITORIAL: Flirting With Nazis Is Dangerous

The dark days of the Nazi control of Europe led to the death of millions.

EDITORIAL:

Flirting With Nazis Is Dangerous

A Neighbor’s Nazi Experience

D. S. Mitchell

Martin Hartman is a tall slender man. His thinning white hair is brushed back, his jacket zipped against the winter wind, as he leans against his cane for support. There is a deep sadness in his eyes and a soberness in his demeanor. You can tell he has a story, and he wants to share it. Martin Hartman is my neighbor.

Martin was born in Holland in 1924. Prior to the Depression of the 1930’s, his family had owned a prosperous construction business. His family like many others had suffered during those economically depressed times, but by 1940, the 97-year-old said, the economy “had begun to turn around,” things were looking up he confirmed. The future looked promising.

There had been rumblings of war, but few took them seriously, after all WWI was a mere twenty two years in the past. No one could imagine the world once again plunging into conflict. The next few days would change his life and those of his friends and family forever. “I was 16. It was May 10, 1940. We heard bombing and saw planes. It was the German invasion, and the blitz was over in three days.” The squashing of Holland’s defenses was quick, but far from painless.

After the German invasion, they began barricading city blocks and then sweeping the apartments for young men to fill the military ranks due to troop loss. Hartman describes it, “Gradually Nazism crawled into Holland. Good people were killed, or sent to prison . . . Jews and ministers.”

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