Hacking

Germany has been struck by a wave of hackers from the People’s Republic of China as the PRC moves to steal from cutting-edge manufacturers.

The German government

is now moving to shield companies from state-backed hackers and criminal gangs, offering to pay to harden the defenses of Germany’s most vulnerable firms.

This is a start, but it’s insufficient.

Hacks like this, originating as they do from a fundamentally autocratic nation, can only be taken as state-sanctioned, if not outright -directed, as such they are overt acts of aggression, and so they require commensurately serious responses.

Loss of Power

And of communications, air conditioning in hot and humid environs (and of heating in cold environs), food and water distribution, fuel supplies, and so on.

Block by block and city by city, utilities face one of the largest power restoration challenges in US history as they bring back electricity to more than 15 million people affected by Hurricane Irma.

Almost 60,000 utility workers from the US and Canada are descending on Florida and other states hard hit by the storm, with more line crews and contractors expected soon….

Willful Ignorance

Senator Diane Feinstein (D, CA) wrote a letter to the editor of USA Today that’s breathtaking in the sweep of its ignorance.

Should the United States adopt a policy of no first use, making clear to the world that our country will never launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike? The answer is yes.

The answer is, of course, No.  She began that question with a false premise.  No first use is not limited to a preemptive nuclear strike.  It simply means no first use.  We engaged in first use when we bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki (apart from the narrow tautology that we were the only nation with nuclear weapons), and contra Feinstein’s disparagement of the use and its casualties, that use ended the war, saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of American, Allied, and Japanese soldiers and the lives of millions of Japanese civilians.

Not Current

It turns out that most of the 7th Fleet ships were not—are not—current on their training.  In my old USAF parlance, that would render them non-OR—not operationally ready, not capable of doing their wartime mission.

As of late June, eight of the 11 cruisers and destroyers in the Seventh Fleet, and their crew members, weren’t certified by the US Navy to conduct “mobility seamanship,” or basic steering of the ship….

“And their crewmembers.”  That means, to me, that not only were the crewmen individually not positionally qualified, they weren’t qualified as the ship’s unified crew—the ships were not qualified.  Not operationally capable.

Chips and the PRC

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the US seems to be preparing to block the purchase of Lattice Semiconductor Corp, a maker of chips for civilian electronics, by Canyon Bridge Capital Partners, a company backed and funded by the government of the People’s Republic of China.  This is upsetting the deal’s backers.

Lattice management and other deal backers think we should all be “satisfied with their efforts to address national security concerns,” and they’re preparing to appeal to President Donald Trump to overrule the expected CFIUS decision.  This is nonsense.  Canyon Bridge is an arm of the PRC government; it isn’t possible to address successfully national security concerns when the government of an enemy is involved in buying one of our technology companies.

Iran and the Nuclear Deal

Somalia has written our State Department asking for help since al Shabaab, in concert with al Qaeda, has seized and is operating some of Somalia’s surface uranium mines, with a view to sending the output to Iran.

This issue can be summed up in a single word: uranium.  Al-Shabaab forces have captured critical surface exposed uranium deposits in the Galmudug region and are strip mining triuranium octoxide for transport to Iran.

That customer is somewhat speculative on Somalia’s part, but neither terrorist organization has much use for yellowcake except as a money-raising item for sale.  Beyond that, there aren’t many customers in the pool, either, and only Iran and northern Korea have much interest in illicitly obtaining the ore.

Sale of a Stock Exchange

Good idea?

The Chicago Stock Exchange wants to sell itself to Chongqing Casin Enterprise Group, a Chinese conglomerate whose parent is CHX Holdings Inc.  Never mind that this would be a camel’s nose of the People’s Republic of China into our financial system and expose it to PRC hacking, disruption, theft, etc, etc, etc.

Fortunately, a collection of Congressmen persuaded the SEC to indefinitely delay the sale and purchase.  Unfortunately, the deal hasn’t been killed altogether.

Casin…says it is independent of the Chinese government.

Of course it is. In a nation that is increasing its autocratic control over its economy and the businesses in it.  Sure.

Another Cynical Mueller Leak

Special counsel Robert Mueller is examining what role, if any, former national security adviser Mike Flynn may have played in a private effort to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails from Russian hackers, according to people familiar with the matter.

It’s becoming increasingly crystalline that, whatever purpose Special Counsel Robert Mueller has in his “investigation,” it’s a dishonest one.  That’s the only reason that occurs to me for his careful string of “leaks” to the public, of which this is only the latest.

Why am I not Surprised?

The International Institute for Security Studies has the story.

North Korea’s missile programme has made astounding strides over the past two years. An arsenal that had been based on short- and medium-range missiles along with an intermediate-range Musudan that repeatedly failed flight tests, has suddenly been supplemented by two new missiles: the intermediate-range Hwasong-12 and the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Hwasong-14. No other country has transitioned from a medium-range capability to an ICBM in such a short time. What explains this rapid progression? The answer is simple. North Korea has acquired a high-performance liquid-propellant engine (LPE) from a foreign source.

Technology Theft

In a piece on American CEOs’ (and Apple’s in particular) cowardice in their dealings with the People’s Republic of China’s government—censor your stuff or you can’t operate in the PRC, give up your technology to or you can’t operate in the PRC, and these worthies meekly comply—comes this reminder on the latter bit:

Just about everybody in the US capital is complaining about how China forces foreign companies to give up technology in return for market access.

In truth, the PRC isn’t alone in this: willing participants are those American CEOs who acquiesce in the name of short-term profit rather than long-term gain.