Is This The Start Of Something Big?

Unless the Iranians are insanely careless when moving ordnance around an “ammunition depot”, it’s unlikely that an explosion of this size was an accident, especially if reports are true that this was actually a highly secret missile base, a senior Guard commander was killed and/or that two consecutive explosions occurred in two IRGC bases.

Mystery surrounds deadly blast at Iran ammunition depot

Mystery surrounds yesterday’s explosion at a Revolutionary Guard ammunition depot that was so large it was felt and heard almost 30 miles away in Tehran.

. . .

The Fars News Agency, which is connected to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), reported on Sunday that the IRGC “strongly dismissed certain baseless reports” that the explosion was “related to nuclear tests or transport of missile warheads.”

“The blast happened during the transportation of [conventional] ammunition,” said the IRGC press chief General Ramazan Sharif. Some 15 soldiers had been “martyred,” he said, dialing down initial estimates of 40, though some of the wounded were in critical condition.

See also:
Blasts hit IRGC military base in W Tehran, 15 dead
‘IRGC military base blast kills 17’
Accidental explosion at Revolutionary Guard ammunition depot kills 17 west of Iran’s capital
Iran explosion at Revolutionary Guards military base
17 killed in Iran base blast
Iran exile group claims blast near Tehran hit closely guarded missile base
Iran exile group claims blast hits missile base
Iran exile group claims blast hits missile base
Iran Exile Group Claims Blast Hits Missile Base
Iran Guards: Officer killed in blast a ‘martyr’
Iran: Dead Guard commander was missile expert
Massive explosion in Iran kills 17
17 killed in massive explosions at munitions depot near Tehran
Iran: Top Revolutionary Guard commander among those killed in blast
US blog: Mossad behind Iran blast
Israelis wonder about deadly Iranian missile-site explosion

Was this Israeli orchestrated sabotage of an Iranian test, related to Iran’s nuclear weapons program or, perhaps, a U.S. B-2 strike, based on timely intelligence? Either possibility could be a plausible explanation for what occurred. One thing’s for damn sure, if it turns out that, indeed, two separate IRGC bases were hit near simultaneously, it wasn’t an accident.

/in any case, keep the Iranian “accidents” coming, they’re much easier to sell to the international community and much less disruptive to world markets than belligerent acts of war by foreign powers

Caught Stealing . . . Again

I thought cyberattacks were supposed to considered acts of war, how long are we going to just keep bending over for this threat to national security behavior?

Chinese Hackers Target Chemical Companies

Chinese hackers tried to penetrate the computer systems of 48 chemical and military-related companies in a late summer cyber attack to steal design documents, formulas and manufacturing processes, a security firm reported Tuesday.

The attack ran from late July to mid-September and appeared to be aimed at collecting intellectual property for competitive advantage, reported Symantec, which code-named the attack Nitro, because of the chemical industry targets. Hackers went after 29 chemical companies and 19 other businesses that made advanced materials primarily used in military vehicles.

See also:
The Nitro Attacks
Stealing Secrets from the Chemical Industry

Nitro Attack: Points of interest
“Nitro” spear-phishers attacked chemical and defense company R&D
‘Nitro’ Cyber-Spying Campaign Stole Data From Chemical, Defense Companies
‘Nitro’ Hackers Rifle Through Chemical Companies’ Secret Data
Report: Chinese hackers launched summer offensive on US chemical industry
‘Nitro’ Hackers Reportedly Attack Dozens of Companies in Chemical, Defense Industries
Chemicals and defence firms targeted by hacking attack
Dozens of chemical firms hit in espionage hack attack
“Nitro” attacks target 29 firms in chemical sector
‘Nitro’ hackers use stock malware to steal chemical, defense secrets
‘Nitro’ Hackers Steal Chemical Company Secrets
Nitro Malware Targeted Chemical Companies
Cyber attacks on chemical companies traced to China
Cyber Attacks on Chemical Firms Traced to Chinese Computers
Symantec uncovers cyber espionage of chemical, defense firms

You know, if we’re not going to treat these attacks as military in nature, which we should, the least we should do is take action against China for violation of international trade agreements, not to mention international law. For all the ‘fraidy cat, nervous Nellies who are so scared of engaging China in a trade war, what do you call these constant corporate espionage cyberattacks?

/China is not our friend

Operation Linda Nchi

Kenya is hardly the first country to invade Somalia and attempt to clean out the festering cesspool of Islamic criminals and terrorists and it probably won’t be the last. So far, every country that’s attempted to tame Somalia has come up empty. Based on what’s currently known of Operation Linda Nchi, I’m not particularly optimistic that Kenya will be any more successful than any other country has been in the past.

Kenyan Troops Advance in Somalia, Pursuing Al-Shabab

Kenyan forces have entered a second part of southern Somalia as part of operations against militant group al-Shabab.

Officials and witnesses confirmed to VOA Somali Service Tuesday that Kenyan troops, backed by helicopters, moved through the border town of El-Waq on Monday and are now in Somalia’s Gedo region.

Kenyan troops have also been seen near the al-Shabab-controlled town of Afmadow in the Jubba region. Residents are reported to be fleeing the town in fear of a battle.

. . .

The exact size of the Kenyan force in Somalia is not clear. Residents have reported seeing columns of 30 to 40 armored vehicles.

Al-Shabab is calling on all Somalis to defend against what it calls “the enemy.”

The last country to invade Somalia was Ethiopia, which deployed troops in 2006 to oust Islamist militants who had briefly taken over the capital. Al-Shabab emerged as the main group fighting the Ethiopians, who withdrew at the beginning of 2009.

See also:
Kenyan military crosses into Somali
Kenya Cabinet meeting backs military operation in Somalia
Kenya, Somalia Seal Pact to Hit Shabaab
Kenya cabinet backs military offensive into Somalia
Kenya troops ‘advance into Somalia near Afmadow’
Kenyan troops close in on Somali’s second key town
Kenyan forces hunt militants inside Somalia
Kenyan forces kill 75 Somali militants
Kenyan incursion into Somalia provokes threat from Islamic militants
Al-Shabaab threaten to take ‘flames of war’ into Kenya
Kenya’s security on alert following al-Shabaab threat
Zero tolerance to Al Shabab threat
Was Kenya right to enter Somalia?
Price that Kenya must pay to keep al-Shabaab at bay
Kenya
Kenya
Somalia
Somalia
Al-Shabaab
Al-Shabaab
Al-Shabaab

All I can say is go Kenya, good luck and happy hunting! Somalia hasn’t been subdued yet, not even by the United States, but there’s always a first time.

/oh, and while you’re in the neighborhood, could you do the world a favor and wipe out the Somali pirate safe harbors?

Watching The Drone Watchers

I smell China, or maybe Russia. The fact that the virus keeps resisting efforts to remove it shows that there’s some sophistication involved.

U.S. Military Drones Infected With Mysterious Computer Virus

A fleet of U.S. military drones on a Nevada Air Force base has been infected by a keylogger virus that tracks every key and button their pilots press, Wired.com reported Friday — and top Air Force sources strongly contested.

The virus was first noticed by officials at Creech Air Force Base nearly two weeks ago using the base’s security system. It logged every keystroke of the pilots in the control room on the base as they remotely flew Predator and Reaper drones on missions over Afghanistan and other battle zones.

There has been no confirmation of information being lost or sent to an outside source, but the virus has been resistant to military efforts to clear it from the system.

“We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back,” a source told Wired.

See also:
Exclusive: Computer Virus Hits U.S. Drone Fleet
Computers Controlling Military Drones Reportedly Infected with Virus
Computer Virus Attacks U.S. Military Drones: Wired
Keylogger virus hits US drone operations
Combat drones’ computer systems reportedly infected with virus
Computer virus hits US’ Predator drone fleet
US war drones keep flying despite computer virus
America’s Drones Have Been Infected by a Virus
Virus infects Pentagon drones’ computers
U.S. Drone Controllers Said To Be Infected By Computer Virus
US drones hit by virus
U.S. Military Facing a Battle Unlike Any Other
Cyberwar: a Whole New Quagmire – When the Drones Come To Roost
Creech Air Force Base

Theses computers didn’t just infect themselves, they were almost surely infected by someone, either deliberately or unwittingly, connecting a malware infected memory stick or other portable media storage device to the network. This has been a known attack vector for a long time now and it’s easily preventable, simply don’t allow portable media storage devices anywhere near classified computer networks!

/search all personnel coming and going if that’s what it takes, it’s a small price to pay for avoiding potentially catastrophic security breaches like this

Lost In Space Again

When it comes to launching satellites, the Russians can’t seem to catch a break.

Russia Loses Contact With Satellite After Rocket Launch

Russia’s Federal Space Agency lost contact with a new communications satellite shortly after it launched into space due to an apparent communication glitch on the spacecraft’s rocket, Russia’s space agency has reported.

The satellite, called Express-AM4, blasted off atop a Proton rocket on Wednesday (Aug. 17) at 5:25 p.m. EDT (2125 GMT) from the central Asian spaceport of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where it was early Thursday morning local time.

According to a translated statement posted in Russian to the country’s Federal Space Agency website, officials said flight controllers lost contact with the satellite due to an apparent communications problem with the Proton rocket’s Breeze M upper stage. Later, another statement suggested that the rocket stage may have been found though the status of the Express-AM4 satellite was unclear.

. . .

The new rocket malfunction is the latest of several embarrassing Russian launch failures or incidents for Russia’s space program in a single year.

See also:
Missing satellite found off designated orbit
Lost Russian satellite found in wrong orbit
Russia loses newly launched telecom satellite
Russian Inquiry Into Express-AM4’s Anomaly…
Russia loses contact with $265-million Express-AM4 satellite shortly after launch
Satellite loss deals ‘severe blow’ to Russia: experts
Powerful communications satellite feared lost in space
Contact lost with freshly launched satellite in Russia
Missing satellite found off designated orbit
Russia loses contact with satellite after launch: reports
Russian Federal Mission Express-AM4 Anomaly Investigation Underway
Russia loses contact with just-launched £160m satellite in latest setback for its space industry
Russia loses contact with Europe’s biggest communications satellite
Russian satellite missing within hours of takeoff
Russia Loses Contact With Newly-Launched Satellite

Looking on the bright side, at least they don’t currently have this sort of problem with their manned space flights.

/which is a really good thing since, now that the U.S. space shuttle program is grounded, we depend on Russia to ferry out astronauts back and forth from the International Space Station

Our Friends The Pakistanis

Is this the thanks we get for our billions of dollars in annual aid?

Report: Pakistan gave China access to ‘stealth’ chopper in bin Laden raid

Pakistan gave China access to the previously unknown “stealth” helicopter that crashed during the commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May despite explicit requests from the CIA not to, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

. . .

“The US now has information that Pakistan, particularly the ISI, gave access to the Chinese military to the downed helicopter in Abbottabad,” the paper quoted a person “in intelligence circles” as saying.

Pakistan, which enjoys a close relationship with China, allowed Chinese intelligence officials to take pictures of the crashed chopper as well as take samples of its special “skin” that allowed the American raid to evade Pakistani radar, the newspaper reported.

See also:
Pakistan lets China see US helicopter
Pakistan let China see ‘stealth’ chopper from bin Laden raid: FT
Report: Pakistan Gave China Access To US Chopper
Pakistan let China see crashed US “stealth” copter – report
UPDATE 1-Pakistan let China see crashed US “stealth” copter-FT
Pakistan let China see “stealth” chopper from bin Laden raid
Can We Please Have Our Wreckage Back?

Well, kiss that technology goodbye, and China didn’t even have to steal it, Pakistan handed it to them.

/tell me again why we give Pakistan billions of dollars and pretend they’re our ally?

Education Out Of Control

Is it just me or does anyone else find it extremely disturbing that the U.S. Department of Education has their own heavily armed entry teams breaking down the doors of private residences and conducting S.W.A.T. style police raids?

Education Department S.W.A.T. team raids California home

A S.W.A.T. team with orders from the U.S. Department of Education broke into a California home at 6 a.m. Tuesday and reportedly roughed up a man because of a student aid issue involving his estranged wife. His wife was not present.

In 2010, the Post’s Valerie Strauss reported that the Education Department was purchasing 27 Remington Brand Model 870 police 12-gauge shotguns to replace old firearms used by Education’s Office of Inspector General, which is the law enforcement arm of the department. DoE said the guns were necessary to help enforce “waste, fraud, abuse, and other criminal activity involving Federal education funds, programs, and operations.”

Kenneth Wright says his house was raided because of his wife’s unpaid loans. One blogger speculated that we finally know what those guns are being used for.

But the Department of Education told Reason Magazine Wednesday that the SWAT team raided the house because of a criminal investigation, not a student loan.

See also:
Failure to pay student loan brings SWAT team kicking in debtor’s door
SWAT Team Raids Man’s Home Over Student Loans
Federal agents search Stockton home
‘Unpaid Student Loan’ Raid Claim Refuted as Feds Target California Couple in Fraud Probe
Feds defend Department of Education raid on a home
OK, Education Dept. raid is not a hallmark of liberty
These Are the Charges That Require the Department of Education to Send a Dozen Armed Agents to Kick Through Your Front Door
DoE Releases Partial Search Warrant Related to Yesterday’s Raid
Update on Department of Education SWAT raid in Stockton
Reading, Writing, Breaking, Entering
Office of Inspector General

You know, I don’t really care why a U.S. Department of Education S.W.A.T. team is breaking down doors and conducting raids. What I care about is that the U.S. Department of Education has a S.W.A.T. team and law enforcement arm in the first place. Seriously, what the hell, isn’t conducting raids and making arrests like this why we already have the FBI?

This is totally out of control and way beyond the pale, is this what legislators had in mind when they set up the Department of Education in 1979, military style police raids on private residences? The U.S. Department of Education is operating well beyond it’s original mandate. The DoE should be abolished, we’d save billions of dollars annually and it wouldn’t even be missed.

/when I graduated from high school, there was no Federal Department of Education and we all survived and made it through school just the same, and arguably with a better education too