First, from the Washington Post, bombs away:
Intensified U.S. airstrikes keep Kobane from falling to Islamic State militants
The U.S.-led coalition stepped up airstrikes around the Syrian border town of Kobane on Tuesday after Turkey appealed for help, enabling Kurdish fighters to reverse the advance of Islamic State militants for the first time since the extremists launched their assault about three weeks ago.
The strikes followed the request by Turkey for intensified U.S. efforts to prevent the predominantly Kurdish town, known as Ayn al-Arab in Arabic, from falling to the Islamic State, Turkish officials said. Turkey has lined up tanks and troops within view of the Syrian Kurdish fighters defending Kobane but has not sought to intervene — for a tangle of reasons bound up with its complicated relationship with Kurds and its doubts about the goals of the international coalition fighting the extremists.
Turkey insisted, however, that it does not want the town to fall, and a senior official said Ankara asked the United States on Monday to escalate strikes.
Sky News qualifies:
US Military Says Airstrikes Alone May Not Stop IS
- Islamic State fighters could take control of more towns and villages despite an increase in coalition airstrikes, officials warn
Airstrikes alone may not be able to stop the advance of Islamic State fighters in Syria, US officials have warned.
Barack Obama met military commanders to discuss the campaign against IS in Syria and Iraq amid fears troops would be needed on the ground.
“Our strikes continue, alongside our partners. It remains a difficult mission,” the US President said. “As I’ve indicated from the start, this is not something that is going to be solved overnight.”
Al Jazeera English adds another complication:
Turkish-Kurdish relations threatened by ISIL
- The stakes are high for Turkey if ISIL took over Kobane, say Turkish analysts
According to analysts, Turkey does not believe that ISIL poses such a major threat.
“ISIL is not Turkey’s concern,” said Soli Ozel, a Turkish political analyst and journalist. “It’s more interested in dealing with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Bashar al-Assad regime. Turkey considers this as an opportunity to accomplish its goal in the region: deal with its two major enemies, and ISIL is not one of them.”
Kobane is a strategically located town, covering a large swathe of land stretching from the Turkish border to Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of Syrian Kurdistan (aka Rojava) on the Euphrates river in Syria.
If Kobane falls entirely under ISIL control, it will not just mark another territorial gain for the group but the acquisition of a key border crossing. ISIL has already taken the industrial regions including Maqtala al-Jadida and Kani Arabane in eastern Kobani after violent clashes with Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters. In Syria, ISIL has control over most cities along the Euphrates River, including Deir el-Zor, Raqqa and al-Aqim in Syria.
From Homeland Security News Wire, hmmmmm:
Four arrested in London in plot to behead people on city streets
Officers from the Metropolitan Police counterterrorism unit early yesterday arrested four young men in London over a suspected terrorist plot to grab people on the streets of London and behead them. One of the four arrested was said to have links to Syria and Islamic State (ISIS). Security analysts have said that ISIS would likely seek to retaliate against the United Kingdom in response to British fighter planes joining the U.S. and Arab states in bombing raids on ISIS targets in Iraq.
Officers from the Metropolitan Police counterterrorism unit early yesterday arrested four young men in London over a suspected terrorist plot to grab people on the streets of London and behead them. One of the four arrested was said to have links to Syria and Islamic State (ISIS).
Counter-terrorism officials said one of the four had access to weapons and, accordingly, the officers who raided his address were heavily armed. This one suspect was subdued by a Taser gun.
From the Associated Press, more bombs on their way:
Canadian Parliament authorizes air strikes in Iraq
- Following a request from the U.S., Canada’s Parliament has voted to authorize airstrikes against the Islamic State militant group in Iraq
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party introduced the motion last week and it was debated this week. Harper has a majority of seats in Parliament so the vote was all but assured. The motion passed Tuesday 157-134.
The motion authorizes air strikes in Iraq for up to six months and explicitly states that no ground troops be used in combat operations.
While the Canadian Press covers Northern anxieties:
RCMP investigating dozens of suspected extremists who returned to Canada
Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney says the RCMP is investigating dozens of Canadians who have returned from fighting extremist wars overseas.
A recent federal report said the federal government knew of more than 130 individuals with Canadian connections who were abroad and suspected of supporting terror-related activities.
Blaney also told the Commons public safety committee Wednesday that the government will bring forward new measures to help monitor suspected terrorists, but he offered no details.
And the Washington Post looks South:
Tom Cotton: Terrorists collaborating with Mexican drug cartels to infiltrate Arkansas
There’s been a ton of chatter to the effect that Republicans are on offense against Democrats on immigration and national security alike. Yet to convert these issues into political gain, some Republicans apparently believe they need to go to extraordinary lengths to conflate terrorism and illegal immigration into one giant, terrifying, hydra-headed threat to the country.
Exhibit A: GOP Rep. Tom Cotton, who is running for Senate in Arkansas. The Congressman told a tele-town-hall meeting that the Islamic State is actively working with Mexican drug cartels who are looking to expand into the terrorism business — and that the groups, working in tandem, could infiltrate the country and attack people in Arkansas.
While the McClatchy Washington Bureau chills out:
No Islamic State fighters coming from Mexico, Homeland Security says
The Department of Homeland Security is trying to shoot down reports that terrorist fighters are operating in Mexico and that some already have been caught attempting to cross the United States’ southern border.
Homeland Security officials said Wednesday that there was no truth to reports that fighters affiliated with the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, have been apprehended on the border.
“The suggestion that individuals who have ties to ISIL have been apprehended at the southwest border is categorically false, and not supported by any credible intelligence or the facts on the ground,” Marsha Catron, DHS press secretary, said in a statement.
From RT, bringing the war home to Europe:
Pro-ISIS radicals with machetes, knives attack Kurds in Germany
Peaceful protests against IS in Syria and Iraq organized by Kurdish nationals in several German cities ended with serious clashes with pro-jihadist Muslims in Hamburg and Celle. Police had to request reinforcements to restore order.
Police in Hamburg, a port city of 1.8 million people, used water cannons, batons and pepper spray late Tuesday to disperse crowds of warring Kurds and pro-jihadist Muslims, armed with knives and brass-knuckles, following a protest against Islamic State militants who are attacking the Kurdish town of Kobani in Syria near the Turkish border.
In most of the cities, protests went off peacefully and were virtually trouble-free, but in Celle police failed to prevent clashes.
The first brawl between about 100 Kurds and Muslims on each side took place Monday, but police in Celle, a town of 71,000, with the help of colleagues from Hannover, Oldenburg and Wolfsburg, prevented serious clashes between the two groups.
On Tuesday, however, the two sides, armed with stones and bottles, attempted to break through police lines to attack each other.
intelNews covers a mystery:
Iran silent about deadly blast that ‘lit up sky’ near Tehran
The government of Iran is refusing to comment on a reported blast at a secretive military facility that some sources say “lit up the sky” last week. The blast is said to have taken place on Sunday night at the Parchin military complex, located approximately 20 miles southeast of Iranian capital Tehran.
The semi-official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported on Monday that the explosion had been caused by a “fire [that] broke out in an explosive materials production unit” east of Tehran, and that two people had died. Interestingly, however, the news agency did not specify the precise location of the blast, nor did it identify the “explosive materials production unit” in question. There was also no mention of the cause of the fire that allegedly resulted in the blast.
A few hours later, the Iranian-language news site SahamNews, which is politically linked to the Iranian opposition, claimed that the blast happened at Parchin and that it was a “massive explosion” that “lit up the evening sky” and caused windows to shatter as far as 9 miles away from the complex. It is worth noting that the blast was reported just hours after Israeli officials accused Iran of conducting nuclear implosion tests at a host of nuclear facilities, including Parchin.
From CBC News, covering up to the north:
Federal scientists muzzled by media policies, report suggests
- Defence scores highest for openness, while Natural Resources Canada among lowest
Canadian government scientists face far more restrictions on talking to the media than their U.S. counterparts, a new analysis has found.
The study of media policies from 16 federal departments was released today by Evidence for Democracy, a non-profit group that advocates for evidence-based public policy. The group organized rallies across the country in support of federal scientists in 2013.
The analysis, led by Karen Magnuson-Ford, a researcher at Simon Fraser University who has a master’s degree in biology, found that all but one department performed worse than the average for U.S. government departments in similar analyses in 2008 and 2013.
Onto the world of spooks and hacks, first with The Hill:
Google chief on NSA: ‘We’re going to end up breaking the Internet’
The integrity of the Internet could be at risk if Congress does not act to rein in the National Security Agency, Google head Eric Schmidt warned on Wednesday.
Speaking alongside other tech executives and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) at a Silicon Valley event, Schmidt said the revelations about U.S. surveillance could prompt countries to wall off their networks.
“The simplest outcome: We’re going to end up breaking the Internet,” Schmidt said, “because what’s going to happen is governments will do bad laws of one kind or another, and eventually what’s going to happen is: ‘We’re going to have our own Internet in our own country, and we’re going to do it our way.’ “
“It is fundamentally about breaking the Internet,” echoed Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch. “The Internet is a medium without borders, and the notion that you would have to place data and data centers and the data itself [in a particular location] … is fundamentally at odds with the way the Internet is architectured.”
The Guardian covers the reality of Gitmo:
Guantánamo use of olive oil in force feedings ‘astonishing’, doctor tells court
- Testimony on second day of court challenge to force feedings focuses on long-term health effects on detainees after procedure
The methods used by the US military to feed inmates in Guantánamo Bay against their will presents a long-term risk to their health, a federal court heard on Tuesday.
Steven Miles, a doctor and professor of medical ethics at the University of Minnesota, told a courtroom that lubricating the feeding tubes at Guantánamo, used on hunger-striking detainees, can cause a form of chronic inflammatory pneumonia, and questioned whether the force feeding was medically necessary.
The condition, resulting from olive oil reaching the lungs due to misplaced insertions, would be hard to detect by physicians for released or transferred detainees, as it might look on x-rays like tuberculosis or lung cancer, Miles testified, calling the olive oil lubrication “astonishing to me”.
“There’s simply no debate about this. All the medical literature I’ve found said the [lubrication] had to be water-soluble. One doesn’t have to make very many salads to know olive oil is not water soluble,” Miles said.
And Threatpost covers hacking at the money spot:
Tyupkin Malware Infects ATMs Worldwide
Criminals in Eastern Europe have evolved their attacks against automated teller machines, moving beyond solely targeting consumers with card skimmers that steal debit card numbers, to attacks against banks using malware that allows someone to remove money directly from an ATM without the need for a counterfeit or stolen card.
Researchers at Kaspersky Lab, in conjunction with Interpol, today said they have detected the Tyupkin malware on more than 50 machines; only ATMs from a particular manufacturer running a 32-bit version of Windows are impacted.
Most of the Tyupkin submissions to Virus Total are from Russia (20) with a limited number of samples (4) reported from the United States.
From Network World, hooking up:
Windows XP flaws help Russian ‘Qbot’ gang build 500,000 PC botnet
The Russian gang behind the obscure Qbot botnet have quietly built an impressive empire of 500,000 infected PCs by exploiting unpatched flaws in mainly US-based Windows XP and Windows 7 computers, researchers at security firm Proofpoint have discovered.
A year or two ago, what the Qbot (aka Qakbot) campaign has achieved in the roughly half dozen years the actors behind it have been operating would have been seen as a major concern. Recently, standards have gone up a notch.
These days Russian hackers are grabbing headlines for altogether more serious incursions such as the recently revealed attack on US bank JPMorgan Chase, and botnets sound like yesterday’s problem.
And then there’s spying of another sort, a Windows on your soul, perhaps. From TechWorm:
Microsoft’s Windows 10 has permission to watch your every move
“Microsoft collects information about you, your devices, applications and networks, and your use of those devices, applications and networks. Examples of data we collect include your name, email address, preferences and interests; browsing, search and file history; phone call and SMS data; device configuration and sensor data; and application usage.”
“We may collect information about your device and applications and use it for purposes such as determining or improving compatibility” and “use voice input features like speech-to-text, we may collect voice information and use it for purposes such as improving speech processing.”
More of the same from DeepLinks:
Adobe Spyware Reveals (Again) the Price of DRM: Your Privacy and Security
The publishing world may finally be facing its “rootkit scandal.” Two independent reports claim that Adobe’s e-book software, “Digital Editions,” logs every document readers add to their local “library,” tracks what happens with those files, and then sends those logs back to the mother-ship, over the Internet, in the clear. In other words, Adobe is not only tracking your reading habits, it’s making it really, really easy for others to do so as well.
And it’s all being done in the name of copyright enforcement. After all, the great “promise” of Digital Editions is that it can help publishers “securely distribute” and manage access to books. Libraries, for example, encourage their patrons to use the software, because it helps them comply with the restrictions publishers impose on electronic lending.
How big is the problem? Not completely clear, but it could be pretty big. First, it appears Adobe is tracking more than many readers may realize, including information about self-published and purchased books. If the independent reports are correct, Adobe may be scanning your entire electronic library. Borrowing a copy of Moby Dick from your public library shouldn’t be a license to scan your cookbook collection.
After the jump, more on those student murders in Mexico including eyewitness accounts, pressure on government, and Uncle Sam’s own ties to the killers, death squad target Colombia reporters, Raging artillery and an exodus on the Indo/Pakistani border and a ceasefire demand from New Delhi, a protest fizzle in Hong Kong, Japanese/American military plans move forward and China reacts, while an Abe aide hints government will nullify the Comfort Women apology, another official act of historical revisionism, and the foreign press reacts to a government refusal to disavow racists, a Stalinist admission from Pyongyang, and Seoul arrests a Japanese reporter for lèse majesté. . . Continue reading