Friday Open Thread 02-20-15
Good morning 99percenters!
Some news and Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks
AMERICAN AND BRITISH 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 GCHQ document, 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.
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.
The mainstream media in the U.S. is being very quiet about this, but the truth is that the U.S.-backed government in Kiev is starting to lose the civil war. This week, the separatists captured the very important railway junction of Debaltseve despite the fact that a ceasefire is supposed to be in place. Buoyed by a constant influx of Russian weapons and supplies, the separatists have gained a clear upper hand in the conflict. But this was not supposed to happen. When protest groups that were funded, organized and advised by organizations in the United States violently overthrew the democratically elected Ukrainian government, the Obama administration was hoping that the Ukrainian people would rapidly embrace their new pro-western leaders. Instead, the nation was plunged into a very bitter civil war that could go on for many years. And as the battlefield stands right now, the government in Kiev will probably be forced to concede even more territory in the months ahead as more weapons and fighters arrive from Russia. The Obama administration could decide to intervene by shipping large amounts of weapons and supplies to the Ukrainian government, but that could turn the civil war in Ukraine into a proxy war between the United States and Russia. And the thing about proxy wars is that sometimes they turn into real wars.
Earlier this month, the world rejoiced when a ceasefire between the government in Kiev and the separatists was announced.
But it didn’t last long.
As I mentioned above, this week the separatists took full control of Debaltseve. The following is how CNN described the situation on the ground…
The scene of devastation is staggering in Debaltseve, the town at the heart of the battle between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists in recent days.
Barely a house is unscathed by shelling. Elderly civilians trapped by the fighting still cower in basements. After most Ukrainian forces pulled out Wednesday, the separatists are now in control.
It’s obvious there’s been a seismic shift on the battlefield. But it’s not yet clear what the Ukrainian withdrawal means for the shaky peace deal that came into force Sunday.
Will the separatists halt their offensive, satisfied with the territory they hold? Or will they be emboldened to push for more?
Russia has begun deploying the next generation of Nebo-M anti-missile radar facility systems as part of a responsive measure to a threat stemming from NATO anti-ballistic missile systems in Eastern Europe.
“The mobile multi-range programmable Nebo-M complex is capable of performing the tasks of providing information on small-sized aerodynamic and hypersonic targets in a difficult jamming background, as well as providing information for anti-missile weapon systems,” said colonel Aleksey Zolotuhin, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry’s press service.
— Alexandru Cociorvei (@AlexandruC4) February 19, 2015
The development and deployment of next-gen anti-missile systems featuring Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) technology is a top priority for the Russian Defense Ministry, as US anti-ballistic missile system are springing up in Romania, Turkey, Poland, and even in Spain.
The new Nebo-M 3-D radar system features a programmable multi-band design. The complex includes central data fusion and command post module as well as three radars, all deployed on separate high-mobility 8 x 8 24-ton vehicles. According to Aviatioweek, radars feed data to the command post using high-speed narrow-beam digital data links in the microwave band.
— TOPWAR (@topwar_ru) February 19, 2015
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