Headlines II: Spies, pols, threats, hacks, zones,


Lotsa ground to cover, so straight ahead, first with the Washington Times:

Greenwald to publish list of U.S. citizens NSA spied on

Glenn Greenwald, one of the reporters who chronicled the document dump by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden via the U.K. press, now said he’s set to publish his most dramatic piece yet: The names of those in the United States targeted by the NSA.

“One of the big questions when is comes to domestic spying is, ‘Who have been the NSA’s specific targets?’ Are they political critics and dissidents and activists? Are they genuinely people we’d regard as terrorists? What are the metrics and calculations that go into choosing those targets and what is done with the surveillance that is conducted? Those are the kinds of questions that I want to still answer,” Mr. Greenwald told The Sunday Times of London.

And a video report from RT America:

Greenwald to reveal Americans targeted by NSA

Program Notes:

Journalist Glenn Greenwald will end his National Security Agency series by revealing the names of American citizens targeted for surveillance by the agency. Documents provided to Greenwald by whistleblower Edward Snowden have been central to his series, revealing the massive extent of the government’s surveillance on international and domestic populations. The journalist promises his last reveal will be similar to a fireworks display; the best and most impressive portion of the show is the finale. RT’s Ameera David has more information on the tantalizing tease by Greenwald.

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau, there’s a deeper story here:

Spy whistleblower advocate stays put

Less than two months ago, a high-profile government whistleblower advocate found himself under scrutiny — ironically in an investigation of an alleged leak to Congress.

The Pentagon’s inspector general was trying to suspend and possibly revoke the top secret access of Dan Meyer, that office’s former director of whistleblowing. At the time, the news triggered concerns in Congress that he was being retaliated against for doing his job. But Meyer, who is now executive director for intelligence community whistleblowing, doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.

Although he won’t comment on the specifics, he did say his security badge “had been restored.” Asked if he had any concerns about his future, he was cryptic, but upbeat. “I have been treated very well by the intelligence community,” he said.

From NBC News, both spook and eavesdropper:

Edward Snowden Tells Brian Williams: ‘I Was Trained as a Spy’

Edward Snowden, in an exclusive interview with “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams, is fighting back against critics who dismissed him as a low-level hacker — saying he was “trained as a spy” and offered technical expertise to high levels of government.

Snowden defended his expertise in portions of the interview that aired at 6:30 p.m. ET on Nightly News. The extended, wide-ranging interview with Williams, his first with a U.S. television network, airs Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.

“I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word, in that I lived and worked undercover overseas — pretending to work in a job that I’m not — and even being assigned a name that was not mine,” Snowden said in the interview.

From New Europe, politically inconvenient:

Austria constant partner of NSA: journalist

American journalist Glenn Greenwald has said in an interview with newspaper Der Standard on Monday that Austria “constantly” works together with the American National Security Agency (NSA).

This came despite recent claims from Austrian Minister for Defence Gerald Klug that the two work together only “occasionally.”

The confidant for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden said the cooperation is discreet and aimed at specific goals, though added the NSA sees countries such as Austria — which it puts in a “Tier B” category — primarily as a monitoring target, and as a partner “only secondarily.”

He said further documents on the cooperation between Austria and the NSA would “probably” be released as he understood the Austrian public is interested in the information, and added that “we” are currently deciding the best way to distribute the documents amongst journalists to speed up their reporting.

From intelNews.org, raising curious questions:

Alleged CIA spy seeks retrial after Iranian court slashes his sentence

A United States citizen held in Iran since 2011 on spy charges has appealed for a retrial after an Iranian court quashed his earlier death sentence for espionage. Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, a former Marine born in the US state of Arizona, was arrested in August of 2011 in Iran and charged with carrying out a covert mission for the Central Intelligence Agency.

In December of 2011, Hekmati appeared on Iranian state television and acknowledged that he was an operative of the CIA. He said in an interview that he had been trained “in languages and espionage” while in the US Army and that, in 2009, after nearly a decade of intelligence training, he was recruited by the CIA and specifically prepared to carry out what intelligence operatives sometimes refer to as a ‘dangling operation’ in Iran.

The aim of the mission, said Hekmati, was to travel to Tehran, contact Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and National Security, and pose as a genuine American defector wishing to supply the Iranians with inside information about American intelligence. His immediate task was to gain the trust of Iranian authorities by giving them some correct information in order to set the stage for a longer campaign of disinformation aimed at undermining a host of Iranian intelligence operations.

From the New York Times, street level spookery:

In Complaint, Activists Seek Audit of New York Police Surveillance

Several groups plan to file a formal complaint on Tuesday seeking an audit of the New York Police Department’s intelligence gathering operations, after recent revelations that the department had been monitoring political activists, sending undercover officers to their meetings and filing reports on their plans.

The groups said the complaint would be the first over surveillance to be filed with the department’s new office of inspector general; it is likely be a closely watched test for the office, whose duty is to oversee the tactics and the policies of the police.

The City Council, despite opposition from former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, created the office last year after complaints about the overuse of stop-and-frisk tactics and surveillance of Muslim communities.

From Homeland Security News Wire, repudiating another form of domestic “security”:

U.S. recalibrating Secure Communities

As more and more municipalities across the country refuse to hold undocumented immigrants in jail on behalf of DHS’ Secure Communities program, President Barack Obama is adopting a strategy to limit deportations to undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of violent crimes. The new strategy would help relieve political pressure on the White House as immigrant rights activists continue to label Obama as the “deporter in chief” for his administration’s aggressive enforcement of immigration laws.

Secure Communities began under the George W. Bush administration to coordinate enforcement of federal immigration laws with local communities. The FBI collects the fingerprints of individuals arrested by local and state police, to identify fugitives or individuals wanted in other jurisdictions. With Secure Communities, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials review the fingerprints against immigration databases to see whther arrested individuals are deportable.

Secure Communities requires that local law enforcement agencies hold detainees until an ICE agent arrives, but police chiefs say that the law has made undocumented immigrants less likely to report crimes when they have been victims or witnesses. “The immigrant community are the prey; they are not the predators,” said Ron Teachman, chief of police in South Bend, Indiana. “We need them to be the eyes and ears. They are exploited in their workplace, in their neighborhoods and in their own homes with domestic violence.”

From the Guardian, revelations assessed:

Privacy under attack: the NSA files revealed new threats to democracy

Thanks to Edward Snowden, we know the apparatus of repression has been covertly attached to the democratic state. However, our struggle to retain privacy is far from hopeless

The 20th-century question was how many targets could be simultaneously followed in a world where each of them required hack, tap, steal. But we then started to build a new form of human communication. From the moment we created the internet, two of the basic assumptions began to fail: the simplicity of “one target, one circuit” went away, and the difference between home and abroad vanished too.

That distinction vanished in the United States because so much of the network and associated services, for better and worse, resided there. The question “Do we listen inside our borders?” was seemingly reduced to “Are we going to listen at all?”

At this point, a vastly imprudent US administration intervened. Their defining characteristic was that they didn’t think long before acting. Presented with a national calamity that also constituted a political opportunity, nothing stood between them and all the mistakes that haste can make for their children’s children to repent at leisure. What they did – in secret, with the assistance of judges appointed by a single man operating in secrecy, and with the connivance of many decent people who believed themselves to be acting to save the society – was to unchain the listeners from law.

And from RT, a curious blacklisting:

Snowden, Greenwald, Appelbaum, WikiLeaks ‘blacklisted’ from Stockholm Internet Forum

Key digital rights activists – including Edward Snowden and hacker Jacob Appelbaum – have been blacklisted from the Stockholm Internet Forum (SIF) on internet openness and freedom. The move has caused a stir at the gathering and outraged Twitter users.

The third annual European meeting of internet activists kicked off in Sweden on May 26, with its main theme being “Internet– privacy, transparency, surveillance and control.”

But strangely enough, those whose names immediately spring to mind when it comes to the issue of surveillance are not allowed to attend the event.

And a video report from RT, focusing on the waffling of program organizations when put to the question:

Where’s Ed? Stockholm web summit slammed as Snowden, Greenwald ‘blacklisted’

Program note:

Blacklisting Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, hacker Jacob Appelbaum and others by the Stockholm Internet Forum (SIF) on internet freedom provoked strong criticism from participants and outrage on Twitter.

From the New York Times, rewards for switching sides:

Hacker Who Helped Disrupt Cyberattacks Is Allowed to Walk Free

The New York man who helped the authorities infiltrate the shadowy world of computer hacking and disrupt at least 300 cyberattacks on targets that included the United States military, courts and private companies was given a greatly reduced sentence on Tuesday of time served, and was allowed to walk free.

Federal prosecutors had sought leniency for the hacker, Hector Xavier Monsegur, citing what they called his “extraordinary cooperation” in helping the Federal Bureau of Investigation take down an aggressive group of hackers who were part of the collective Anonymous, of which he was a member, and its splinter groups, which had taken credit for attacking government and corporate websites.

Mr. Monsegur’s information, the authorities said, led to the arrest of eight “major co-conspirators,” including Jeremy Hammond, whom the F.B.I. had called its top “cybercriminal target” and who was sentenced to 10 years in prison in November.

The Washington Post covers an equally spooky form of everyday espionage:

Brokers use ‘billions’ of data points to profile Americans

Are you a financially strapped working mother who smokes? A Jewish retiree with a fondness for Caribbean cruises? Or a Spanish-speaking professional with allergies, a dog and a collection of Elvis memorabilia?

All this information and much, much more is being quietly collected, analyzed and distributed by the nation’s burgeoning data broker industry, which uses billions of individual data points to produce detailed portraits of virtually every American consumer, the Federal Trade Commission reported Tuesday.

The FTC report provided an unusually detailed account of the system of commercial surveillance that draws on government records, shopping habits and social media postings to help marketers hone their advertising pitches. Officials said the intimacy of these profiles would unnerve some consumers who have little ability to track what’s being collected or how it’s used — or even to correct false information. The FTC called for legislation to bring transparency to the multi-billion-dollar industry and give consumers some control over how their data is used.

From the New York Times, caught in the crossfire:

Technology Companies Are Pressing Congress to Bolster Privacy Protections

A law that allows the government to read email and cloud-stored data over six months old without a search warrant is under attack from technology companies, trade associations and lobbying groups, which are pressing Congress to tighten privacy protections. Federal investigators have used the law to view content hosted by third-party providers for civil and criminal lawsuits, in some cases without giving notice to the individual being investigated.

Nearly 30 years after Congress passed the law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which government officials have interpreted to cover newer technologies, cloud computing companies are scrambling to reassure their customers, and some clients are taking their business to other countries.

Ben Young, the general counsel for Peer 1, a web hosting company based in Vancouver, British Columbia, said his customers were keeping their business out of the United States because the country “has a serious branding problem.”

Defense One asks for spare change:

Are Paychecks the Problem? Senate Considers Bonuses for Pentagon’s Cyber Workforce

Current and aspiring Defense Department personnel with cyber skills could see a boost in pay under a Senate 2015 defense policy bill that lawmakers detailed on Friday.

Defense is up against the private sector’s lucrative salaries as it endeavors to boost cyber mission forces. Pentagon Secretary Chuck Hagel recently said these forces, expected to include 1,800 personnel by year’s end, should number 6,000 professionals in 2016.

The Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday approved a measure that directs each military service to determine “whether recruiting, retention, and assignment of service members with cyber skills requires bonuses or special and incentive pays,” according to the new details. The services would have to report their decisions to Congress by Jan. 31, 2015.

BBC News hacks you pocket pal:

Apple devices ‘hijacked for ransom’ in Australia

Several users of Apple devices in Australia have reported that their gadgets have been “hijacked” – with a message demanding money.

Experts believed the hack had targeted users by exploiting the Find my iPhone feature.

A message appeared on some targeted phones asking for “$100 USD/EUR” to be sent to a PayPal account.

Mobile networks have advised affected users to contact Apple, which has not yet commented on the problem.

And it’s not just Down Under, as the London Telegraph reports:

iPhones frozen by hackers demanding ransom

  • People around the world have found their iPads and iPhones frozen by hackers who are demanding cash ransoms to unlock their devices

Owners of iPhones and iPads have been targeted by a hacker who is freezing iOS devices and demanding a ransom of up to £55 to unlock them.

The majority of the attacks have taken place in Australia although there are also reports of Britons being affected.

It appears that the hacker, who goes by the name Oleg Pliss, has managed to exploit the Find My iPhone feature which can track and remotely lock stolen devices.

Reuters covers another hack attack:

Spotify to ask users to re-enter passwords after cyberattack

Music streaming service Spotify AB will ask some of its 40 million users to re-enter their passwords and upgrade their software in coming days after detecting unauthorized access to its internal systems and data.

Chief Technology Officer Oskar Stal said in a blogpost on Tuesday that it has found evidence of attackers accessing just one user’s data, which did not include payment or password information. But as a precaution, it intends to ask “certain Spotify users” to re-enter their log-in credentials, and upgrade their Google (GOOGL.O) Android app.

Spotify said it is not recommending any action yet for users of Apple Inc (AAPL.O) iPhones or devices based on Microsoft’s (MSFT.O) Windows.

From CBC News, a spy in the bedroom, and for a good cause:

Spy cam nabs care worker stealing from 82-year-old Winnipegger

  • ‘What you did is despicable,’ Manitoba judge says in giving thief 2 years probation, community work

Viola Dufresne said she noticed money vanishing from her wallet starting last January, totalling nearly $1,100 over six months.

“My dad taught us morals, and all of a sudden I’m in my home and somebody rips me off. It made me mad,” she told CBC News on Monday.

Winnipeg police told Dufresne there wasn’t much they could do without evidence, so she went online and bought a spy camera. The camera, which resembles a clock radio, showed the home-care aide taking $25 from Dufresne’s wallet.

Techdirt laments:

Former CIA Director And Defense Secretary Says CIA Tried, But Failed, To Do Economic Espionage

  • from the this-doesn’t-make-the-us-look-any-better dept

US intelligence officials still seem to think that there’s some big distinction between the kind of intelligence work the US does versus the kind that other countries do. US officials time and time again claim that they don’t do “economic espionage” — even though it’s pretty clear that they do it, just through indirect means (i.e., while they don’t hand trade secrets over to companies, they’re certainly using economic information to impact policy and trade discussions).

Former Defense Secretary and CIA boss Robert Gates continued this sort of tone deaf line of thinking from US intelligence defenders by claiming that French intelligence downloads the contents of laptops from businessmen visiting Paris:

“There are probably a dozen or 15 countries that steal our technology in this way,” Gates said in an interview the Council on Foreign Relations posted online Thursday. “In terms of the most capable, next to the Chinese, are the French — and they’ve been doing it a long time.”

After the jump, the latest developments in the ongoing, ever-transforming Asian Game of Zones, including the latest American plans for Afghanistan, Sino-American cyberwar gambits, allegations of ramming, corporate targeting, the relentless push for Japanese militarization, and Pyongyang blusters belicosely. . .

From the Tribune Washington Bureau, Obama gets Nixonian:

Obama seeks to cut troop level in Afghanistan to 5,000 by end of 2015

President Barack Obama is planning to leave 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the U.S. ends its combat mission this year, but will quickly cut that number roughly in half by the end of 2015, a senior administration official said Tuesday.

Obama plans on consolidating U.S. troops in Kabul and at the Bagram Airfield. Under the plan, by the end of 2016 the U.S. will draw down to “a normal embassy presence with a security assistance office in Kabul, as we have done in Iraq,” the official said.

After more than 12 years of war, the U.S. is open to supporting two “narrow missions” in the country – training Afghan forces and supporting counterterrorism operations against what remains of al-Qaida.

While MIT Technology Review offers Sino-American cyberwar escalation suggestions:

How the U.S. Could Escalate Its Name-and-Shame Campaign Against China’s Espionage

  • Chinese companies believed to be benefiting from stolen secrets could be the next target of U.S. action to curb industrial espionage

Earlier this week the U.S. Department of Justice indicted five Chinese military officers for industrial espionage, accusing them of leading attacks on the computers of U.S. companies including U.S. Steel and Westinghouse to gather material to be passed on to Chinese companies.

The move puts U.S. policy in line with experts who have argued that only naming and shaming the perpetrators, and pursuing them through legal action, will rein in such attacks. Digital IP theft is now normal for U.S companies, although few victims disclose the fact.

Dmitri Alperovitch, cofounder and chief technology officer (see “TR35: Dmitri Alperovitch”) of the security company Crowdstrike, a company that offers new ways to trace and fight back against cyberattacks, told MIT Technology Review’s Tom Simonite how the U.S. could use its new strategy to increase the pressure on China even further.

Wired threat level covers another front in the same arena:

How a Chinese Tech Firm Became the NSA’s Surveillance Nightmare

The NSA’s global spy operation may seem unstoppable, but there’s at least one target that has proven to be a formidable obstacle: the Chinese communications technology firm Huawei, whose growth could threaten the agency’s much-publicized digital spying powers.

An unfamiliar name to American consumers, Huawei produces products that are swiftly being installed in the internet backbone in many regions of the world, displacing some of the western-built equipment that the NSA knows — and presumably knows how to exploit — so well.

That obstacle is growing bigger each year as routers and other networking equipment made by Huawei Technologies and its offshoot, Huawei Marine Networks, become more ubiquitous. The NSA and other U.S. agencies have long been concerned that the Chinese government or military — Huawei’s founder is a former officer in the People’s Liberation Army — may have installed backdoors in Huawei equipment, enabling it for surveillance. But an even bigger concern is that with the growing ubiquity of Huawei products, the NSA’s own surveillance network could grow dark in areas where the equipment is used.

And Bloomberg News covers another:

China Said to Study IBM Servers for Bank Security Risks

The Chinese government is reviewing whether domestic banks’ reliance on high-end servers from IBM compromises the nation’s financial security, people familiar with the matter said, in an escalation of the dispute with the U.S. over spying claims. Betty Liu reports on “Mover & Shakers” on Bloomberg Television’s “In The Loop.”

The Chinese government is reviewing whether domestic banks’ reliance on high-end servers from International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) compromises the nation’s financial security, people familiar with the matter said, in an escalation of the dispute with the U.S. over spying claims.

Government agencies, including the People’s Bank of China and the Ministry of Finance, are asking banks to remove the IBM servers and replace them with a local brand as part of a trial program, said the four people, who asked not to be identified because the review hasn’t been made public.

While TechWeekEurope responds:

China Responds To Hacking Allegations With More Hacking Allegations

  • “You run the NSA, and you have the nerve to accuse us of spying?”

Chinese authorities have published a report in which they accuse the US of orchestrating surveillance operations that “penetrate every corner of China”. The report also contains information about cyber attacks against Chinese businesses, becoming the latest sign of escalating tensions between the two countries.

The announcement could be seen as a response to the US Department of Justice charging five hackers, who it claims were employed by the People’s Liberation Army, with criminal offences last week.

The report, entitled “America’s Global Surveillance Record”, suggests that the US government agencies are currently harvesting data which belongs to the Chinese state, the country’s businesses and its law-abiding citizens.

From Global Times, another Chinese gambit?:

China to clean up instant messaging services

The Chinese government started a month-long campaign to eliminate malpractice on instant messaging services like WeChat on Tuesday.

While such services have become popular online communication channels, some people have used them to distribute illegal and harmful information, seriously undermining public interests and order in cyberspace, said a statement from the State Internet Information Office (SIIO).

The campaign will target public accounts on instant messaging services, which can spread information on a large scale and mobilize followers, according to the statement.

WeChat has more than 800 million users. Besides private accounts used for communication among friends, family and acquaintances, many public accounts are owned by organizations, companies or individuals for mass communication.

From South China Morning Post, another Chinese security concern:

Politburo pushes for ethnic unity in restive Xinjiang in wake of terror attacks

  • Emphasis is placed on bilingual education and employment to achieve ‘long-term peace’

National solidarity would be achieved in Xinjiang by promoting bilingual education, “patriotic religious practices” and interaction between ethnic groups, the Politburo said after a meeting yesterday.

It called for “religious harmony and elimination of extremism”, according to a statement released by Xinhua.

Employment would also be a priority, with the goal of ensuring that at least one person in each family has a job. And education levels of all schools across Xinjiang would be enhanced.

And the New York Times notes a phase shift in another venue recently marked by violent escalations:

China Oil Rig Finishes First Phase of Drilling in Waters Claimed by Vietnam

A giant Chinese oil rig has finished its first round of drilling in South China Sea waters also claimed by Vietnam and moved to another site in the area, the rig’s operator, China Oilfield Services Ltd (COSL), said on Tuesday.

In a statement, COSL said exploration would still take place off the Xisha islands, China’s name for the disputed Paracel chain, suggesting the rig was not moving far.

In early May, the rig was deployed between the Paracel islands and the Vietnamese coast, sparking deadly anti-China riots in Vietnam and protests from the government in Hanoi.

And SINA English stakes the claim:

China: Vietnam’s island claims ‘ridiculous’

A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry on Monday refuted Vietnamese comments on the sovereignty of the Xisha Islands, vowing determination to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Qin Gang said the information offered by the Vietnamese side at a press briefing in Hanoi last Friday was ridiculous.

“Their comments showed the country’s falsification of history, denial of truth, inconsistency and treachery,” Qin said, arguing that Vietnam has little international credibility.

From South China Morning Post, justification:

China claims Vietnam boat ‘rammed oil rig’ before sinking in disputed waters

  • Clash involving fishing boats in Paracel Islands leads to official protest from Hanoi, as Beijing says Vietnamese vessel breached security zone

Tensions between China and Vietnam continued to escalate yesterday as both nations traded accusations over the sinking of a Vietnamese vessel near a controversial oil rig in a disputed area of the South China Sea.

Vietnam’s foreign ministry lodged a protest with the Chinese embassy in Hanoi, claiming a Chinese vessel rammed and sank a Vietnamese boat on Monday.

But the Foreign Ministry in Beijing said the Vietnamese boat went into a restricted area near the oil rig in the Paracel Islands and rammed a Chinese vessel. The Vietnamese boat then sank.

And from MintPress News, a lingering legacy from another war involving a country now seen as a likely ally in the spat with China:

For Vietnam, Leftover American Bombs Mean The War Has Never Ended

  • Bombs have killed at least 42,000 Vietnamese since the US pulled out — more than the number of Americans killed in action.

Almost four times more explosives were used on Vietnam during the war than in all of World War II. An estimated 800,000 tons of unexploded ordnance — known as UXO, and consisting of bombs, mines, munitions and other explosives — remain, afflicting a staggering 20 percent of the country, officials say.

If true, that’s more than the 635,000 tons of bombs dropped by US forces in the Korean War.

In Vietnam, US forces used more than 15 million tons of firepower — roughly half from aircraft and the rest on the ground. Historians believe that the US deployed the vast majority of the explosives used during the conflict.

Kyodo News admonishes:

Japan urges China to exercise restraint in S. China Sea

Japan urged China on Tuesday to exercise restraint in the South China Sea after reports that a Vietnamese fishing boat was rammed by a Chinese fishing boat and sunk in disputed waters the previous day.

“It was an extremely dangerous action that could threaten people’s lives,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference in Tokyo. “It is important for the countries concerned to refrain from unilateral action that would raise tensions and to handle matters calmly, while observing international law.”

Monday’s incident was the first reported sinking of a vessel since China stationed an oil rig near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea in early May.

While the Yomiuri Shimbun ramps up the pressure:

MSDF ship to join intl disaster drills in South China Sea

The Defense Ministry will dispatch the Maritime Self-Defense Force transport ship Kunisaki to an international disaster-response drills to be held in the South China Sea, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The Kunisaki will transport about 140 personnel of the U.S. and Australian forces in the search-and-rescue drills to be held in Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines.

This is the first time that the MSDF’s transport ship will be engaged in such a task as carrying as many as 100 U.S. and Australian troops.

And for a little entertainment, those folks at Taiwanese Animators have devoted their skills to a portrayal of the recent games of aerial chicken played out between Chinese and Japanese aircraft over the China Seas:

China vs Japan: Chinese fighters buzz Japanese planes over East China Sea

Program notes:

Chinese fighter pilots got abnormally close with two Japanese reconnaissance planes on Saturday in two separate incidents in overlapping Air Defense Identification Zones (ADIZ) claimed by both countries, the Japanese Defense Ministry said on Sunday.

Japan said the two episodes occurred on Saturday in airspace over the East China Sea that both countries claim as their own. These zones are areas bordering their own sovereign airspace in which they require foreign aircraft to identify themselves and provide flight plans.

The first flyby occurred when a pair of Chinese SU-27 fighters flew within 150ft of a Japanese P-3C. Later a pair of Chinese fighters also came with 100ft of a Japanese YS-11 plane.

From Xinhua, the faintly ameliorative:

China determined on peace, stability in South China Sea: vice FM

China will continue to promote peaceful settlement of disputes through negotiation with the countries concerned, said China’s Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin on Tuesday. He added that no country should doubt China’s determination and will to safeguard the peace and stability of the South China Sea.

Liu’s remarks came amid rising tensions between China and Vietnam over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

“China is devoted to continuing to promote peaceful settlement of disputes through negotiations by countries directly concerned, as well as to promoting common development until we can find solutions to the disputes,” Liu told reporters on the sidelines of a colloquium in Beijing commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence.

And in Tokyo, the relentless drive for power power surges on, via the Mainichi:

Gov’t ponders SDF response to possible N. Korean nuclear attack on U.S.

The government is considering a response by the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to a nuclear missile attack by North Korea on the U.S. mainland as part of Japan exercising the right to collective self-defense, government sources said.

Specifically, the executive branch of the government calls for considering the need for the SDF to guard U.S. military supply ships and other non-combatant vessels on request from Washington should North Korea launch a nuclear missile on the U.S. mainland.

Jiji Press strategizes:

Japan Ruling Parties Hold 2nd Talks on Security

Japan’s ruling parties held a second meeting on security issues on Tuesday, focusing on so-called gray-area emergency situations that do not involve military attacks.

At the day’s session, government representatives presented 15 situations, including so-called gray-area ones, for which Japan may need to write or revise security-related laws, to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito.

The two parties began discussions on how Japan should respond to three gray-area cases, including one in which an armed group apparently from another country lands on a “remote island, et cetera.”

While the Asahi Shimbun strongly objects:

ASAHI POLL: 67% deem Abe’s plan to reinterpret Constitution as ‘improper’

Nearly 70 percent of voters believe Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is resorting to “improper” procedures in his drive to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, an Asahi Shimbun survey showed.

Overall, 55 percent of voters oppose the prime minister’s plan for constitutional reinterpretation concerning the exercise of the right to collective self-defense, compared with 29 percent who support it, according to the survey.

However, opposition increases when his method is called into question. Asked how they view Abe’s strategy to drastically change Japan’s postwar security policy without a revision of the Constitution, 67 percent of respondents said it is “improper.

And the regional sales pitch moves on, via the Associated Press:

In 1st since WWII, Japan army chief visits Myanmar

In a first since World War II, Japan’s army chief is visiting Myanmar.

Chief of Staff of Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Gen. Shigeru Iwasaki arrived in the capital of Naypyitaw on Monday to meet his counterpart and to build closer military ties.

He will meet commander-in-chief of defense services Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing on Tuesday to discuss bilateral military ties and mutual cooperation in security and disaster relief.

For our final item, via SINA English, the wild card threatens a deadly tantrum:

N. Korea says danger of ‘catastrophic’ clash at truce village

North Korea on Tuesday warned that recent “provocative” activities by US troops at a truce village on the heavily fortified inter-Korean border could lead to a “catastrophic” military clash.

The warning came from the head of the North Korean forces stationed in the frontier village of Panmunjom — where the ceasefire agreement to end fighting in the 1950-53 Korean War was signed.

Panmunjom has hosted multiple inter-Korean talks over the decades and is heavily guarded, with mostly South Korean and US troops on the southern side under the auspices of the UN Command (UNC).

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