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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DANGER AHEAD: Cyber Hacking On The Rise

Cyber threats to world economies is growing daily

DANGER AHEAD:

Cyber Hacking On The Rise

Colonial Pipeline was hit with a devastating ransomware cyberattack in May 2021 that impacted computerized equipment managing the pipeline. The attack forced the company to shut down approximately 5,500 miles of pipeline in the United States, crippling gas delivery systems across the Southeast and Mid Atlantic states and panicking consumers.

By William Jones and D.S. Mitchell

Terrorists. Criminals and Cowboys

The ongoing digitization of all aspects of modern life should be concerning.  Governments world-wide are facing new challenges to keep both business and government secrets private in an increasingly threatening world of cyber criminals, state sponsored terrorists, and cowboy hackers. With increasing online and data usage, government databases have become primary targets for hackers and other cyber terrorists and criminals. Recent events have shaken the U.S. government and citizen confidence. Hackers can compromise data and as Chris Krebs said recently, ransomware attackers are the greatest threat to our digital world. Krebs served as Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in the United States Department of Homeland Security from November 2018 to November 2020.

Cyber Warfare

Cyber warfare is defined as actions by a nation-state to penetrate another nation’s computers or networks to cause damage or disruption. It may also include non-state actors, such as terrorist groups, private companies, political or ideological extremist groups, criminal organizations, and activists.  Cyber attacks  have been a cause of concern for years, as the frequency of data breaches has increased along with their complexity and (economic, military, and political) implications, including elections and military catastrophe an ever growing possibility.

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Alexi Navalny And His Current Situation

Alexi Navalny And His Current Situation

Jones William and D. S. Mitchell

Massive protests 

Alexi Navalny is a pain in Putin’s side.  Allies of the Russian dissident began protests April 21st, 2021, demanding Putin’s most vocal critic receive proper hospital care. People despite government crackdowns on protests showed up in large numbers.  Many supporters believe only mass protests can save Alexi’s life and many people are willing to risk imprisonment and harassment by the police.

Alexi Navalny Today

Alexi Navalny was arrested the day he returned to Russia after being treated in Germany for what appeared to have been a nerve agent poisoning.  During this most recent imprisonment, on March 31st, 2021, Navalny went on a hunger strike, demanding proper medical treatment for loss of sensations in his hands and legs and severe back pain.

Deteriorating

Recent news reports indicate an electrolyte imbalance. His high potassium levels increase his risk for a cardiac arrhythmia. His personal physician pleaded that Navalny should be moved to an intensive care unit because of his deteriorating condition.  Navalny also risks severe renal impairment.  Navalny’s wife, Yulia, said her husband’s weight is down to 167 lbs from 187 lbs when he started the hunger strike at the end of March.

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Russia: Music & The Disaffected Youth

Music in Russia is always under threat by Putin's government

THE OTHER RUSSIA:

Music And The Disaffected Youth

By Trevor K. McNeil

Mother Russia

Russia is a different kind of place. It boasts the world’s largest land mass. It is the only place that stopped an invasion by both  Napoleon and Hitler. It is also one of the most insular nations in the world. Significantly it is a Slavic language. It has it’s own unique alphabet derived from Cyrillic script for Old Church Slavonic. It is also functionally unilingual, the vast majority of Russians, unless they have lived or were educated elsewhere, speak only Russian.

No Discord 

It would be tempting to say “The Russians” in the grand narrative sense, it is however, far more accurate to say the Russian government, which is itself divided and distinct. To the point that there are technically two people in charge at any given time. Quite apart from the political sphere, there is also the everyday civilian dimension in which most people live. While there are certainly many who fall into line with Putin’s way of thinking, either naturally or because they have been swayed by propaganda, there are many who do not. Which really only stands to reason, it being a statistical impossibility that in a country of hundreds of millions that the majority would completely, or even strongly, agree with those in power.

Give Me Music

One of the lesser known aspects of Russian culture is its large and diverse music scene. One of the most popular genres is a modern incarnation of Russian folk music. Some mix it with elements of rock music, like the infectiously catchy and usually upbeat Otava Yo. Others are more traditional like Igor Resteryaev who sticks to accordion and vocals, in a style that can veer from the pensive to the goofy depending on the song.

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Alexi Navalny: Enemy of the Rogue State

Alexi Navalny: A Thorn In Putin’s Side

Putin has political opponents he just doesn't care how he silences them

Alexi Navalny:

ENEMY OF THE ROGUE STATE

By Trevor K. McNeil

 

Rebel Roots

No nation has ever been completely peaceful, no matter what some might like to claim. As though in a self-aware correction to this, some don’t even bother to try and appear civilized, such as the Mongols or the Spartans. Others go through periods of stability, though the next invasion, rebellion, conquest or border war isn’t a matter of if, but when.

On a Reverse Trajectory

One of the main perpetrators of the meat-grinder of Europe was Russia or, as it was known for the majority of the century, the Soviet Union. That doesn’t mean the Czarist period was a picnic, either. Under the czars, someone was always fighting or planning to fight, someone else. Even during the days  of the purges, the threat of being purged surely was enough to make a lot of people angry. Russia, is a direct rebuke to the notion of history progressing in a linear trajectory.  Putin’s Russia more closely resembles 1961 than the first attempts at democratization in 1991. If anything they are moving backwards. Now, as then, there are those opposing the government, often at risk to their lives by way of assassination by the state. One such death-defying rebel is Alexi Navalny.

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