The SIM Card Saga. The NSA and Britain’s GCHQ’s Agenda: Establishing Total Control Over Internet and Mobile Phone Users (Source globalresearch.ca) Recent days have been marked by a record number of news stories regarding the US and its allies trying to establish total control over Internet users. On February 16, researchers at the Moscow-based security group Kaspersky Lab announced the discovery of the ultimate virus which has virtually infected all spheres of military and civilian computing in more than 40 countries around the world. They’ve managed to discover a piece of malware that must have been installed on hard disks while they were still being manufactured, and due to its complexity and a certain number of features that it shares with Stuxnet, it’s safe to assume that it was created by US secret services. On February 18, The Guardian confirmed that for the last 7 years Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) had been sharing personal intelligence data en masse with America’s national security agencies, regardless of the fact that it had interceptedmillions of foreign citizens’ conversations. The ruling of a UK court clearly suggests that these actions were illegal on top of being carried out in violation of the the European Convention on Human Rights. On February 19, it was announced that the National Security Agency (NSA) along with its British partner in crime –GCHQ, has manged to steal encryption keys from Gemalto – the world’s largest manufacturer of SIM-cards. This allowed the above named intelligence agencies to tap any phone and intercept data from any mobile device that was using a SIM-card produced by Gemalto.
Activists: IS militants kidnap dozens of Christians in Syria (Source AP) Islamic State militants have abducted at least 70 Christians, including women and children, after overrunning a string of villages in northeastern Syria, activists and relatives said Tuesday. The Sunni extremists, who follow a radical interpretation of Islam, have repeatedly targeted religious and ethnic minorities in Syria and Iraq since seizing control of large swaths of both countries. The group’s fighters have ransacked churches, demolished Shiite and Sunni Muslim shrines, and enslaved women of the Yazidi community, a tiny sect IS considers heretical. The latest assault began before dawn on Monday, when the militants swept through the villages nestled along the banks of Khabur River near the town of Tal Tamr in Hassakeh province. The area is predominantly inhabited by Assyrians, an indigenous Christian people who trace their roots back to the ancient Mesopotamians. During the raids, the militants took between 70 and 100 Assyrians captive, said Nuri Kino, the head of the activist group A Demand For Action, which focuses on religious minorities in the Middle East. He said some 3,000 people managed to flee the onslaught and have sought refuge in the cities of Hassakeh and Qamishli. Kino said his organization based its information on conversations with villagers who fled the attack and their relatives. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the abductions, but put the number of Christians held by the Islamic State group at 90. The Observatory relies on a network of activists inside Syria. Both activist groups said that most of the captives come from the village of Tal Shamiram, located some 85 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of the provincial capital of Qamishli. An Assyrian Christian woman from Tal Shamiram who now lives in Beirut said she has been scrambling to find out what has become of her parents as well as her brother and his wife and kids.
15,000 Egyptians flee Libya after warning (Source AFP) Almost 15,000 Egyptians have flocked home from war-torn Libya via the border crossing at Sallum, state media reported Monday, after Islamic State group jihadists murdered 21 Coptic Christians. Last week Egyptian and Libyan warplanes hit IS targets inside Libya after the jihadists released a gruesome video on February 15 showing the Christians, 20 of them Egyptian, being beheaded. Cairo has since urged the hundreds of thousands of Egyptians working in Libya to leave, and also chartered planes to fly many of them home from Tunisia, Libya’s western neighbour. At least 14,585 have heeded the call and returned through Sallum in northwest Egypt, state news agency MENA reported. It said they included 3,018 Egyptians on Monday alone, but did not specify how many were Christian. A transport ministry spokeswoman in Tunisia said at least 1,000 Egyptians who had fled Libya have been airlifted home on planes chartered by Cairo since Friday. A Tunisian customs official said an unspecified number of Egyptians were also waiting on the Libyan side of the border, hoping to cross. Late on Monday a plane carrying 231 Egyptians airlifted from Tunisia earlier in the day landed at Cairo airport, the fifth such Egypt Air flight bringing Egyptians home, an airport official said. Last July, thousands of Egyptians fleeing violence in Libya were stranded for days at the border with Tunisia, with authorities refusing to admit them until Cairo had arranged their return home. Tunisia was flooded by expatriates fleeing Libya during the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi, and struggled to cope. Days after the revolt erupted, Egypt sent military aircraft to Libya to evacuate its citizens trapped by the violence.
Russia accuses US of bringing ‘chaos’ to Middle East (Source AFP) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the United States on Monday of plunging the Middle East into chaos and fueling the rise of extremists because of its drive to dominate the world. Lavrov leveled the fierce criticism of Washington’s policies at a special UN Security Council debate on maintaining international peace and security. The foreign minister cited the US-led air strikes in Syria, the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the 2011 military intervention in Libya as examples of “violations of the fundamental principles of the United Nations.” “All of this is the result of attempts to dominate global affairs, to rule over all, everywhere, to use military force unilaterally to push one’s interests,” Lavrov told the 15-member council. “These have plunged the Middle East and North Africa into instability and chaos, and to a large extent have created a breeding ground in which extremists thrive,” he said. Russia and the United States have been at loggerheads over the war in Syria, with Moscow supporting President Bashar al-Assad and opposing US air strikes against Islamic State targets. Lavrov did not mention the United States by name, but his remarks made clear he was targeting the US administration. The foreign minister spoke of “unsavory methods” being used such as “regime change” and “open support for the unconstitutional state coup in Ukraine a year ago.” Russia has repeatedly accused the United States and its western allies of having engineered the ouster of pro-Kremlin Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych, which triggered the separatist upheaval in Crimea and east Ukraine.
Ukraine rebels mark Soviet holiday for defenders of ‘fatherland’ (Source Yahoo News)
Thousands of men and women gathered on Lenin square in east Ukraine’s main rebel-held city Donetsk on Monday to celebrate a Soviet-era holiday and pay hommage to their fallen fighters. Military music blasted out as a cossack dressed in black and a leather-clad rocker carried an icon of the Virgin Mary with Jesus onto a stage to mark Russia’s “Defender of the Fatherland Day”, originally a celebration of the mighty Soviet Red Army. “This festival is a celebration of the army of workers and peasants,” a woman shouted into the microphone. Commanders in camouflage from the Vostok battalion of the pro-Russian separatist forces gathered on the stage to celebrate what they described as “free Donetsk”.
What Is Russia Up To in the Arctic? (Source Newsweek)The Mågerø air defense monitoring base is inside a mountain at the end of an unmarked country road two hours south of Oslo, Norway. With only a rudimentary sentry box, a simple draw gate and a lone soldier guarding its entrance, the installation looks more like the set for a movie about the Nazi occupation of the country than a key link in the country’s state-of-the-art defenses. At the end of a long, narrow tunnel into the mountain, in a cavernous room filled with computers and radar monitor screens, intelligence specialists stare at blinking icons marking the movement of aircraft around Norwegian airspace. On an all-too-typical afternoon recently, they watched as two nuclear-capable Tu-95 Russian Bear Bombers floated like fireflies across the top right of their monitors. A few desks away, an airman picked up phone and called Bodø, a military base on Norway’s northern coast. Moments later, two F-16s rose to eyeball the intruders. It turned out the Russian bombers were just practicing some kind of circling maneuver outside of Norway’s Arctic air space. But on January 28 two more Tu-95 bombers, escorted by tankers and Russia’s most advanced MiG-31 fighter jets, showed up off the coast. One of them was carrying “a nuclear payload,” according to the London Sunday Express, which cited intercepted radio traffic. And last fall, a Russian Tu-22 supersonic bomber skirting Norway’s northern airspace was photographed carrying a cruise missile in launching position, according to the Barents Observer blog. Late last year, with the world’s attention riveted on Ukraine, Putin put a little-noticed exclamation mark on his Arctic strategy. For the first time, the Kremlin’s announced military doctrine included instructions to prepare to defend Russia’s interests in the Arctic. Plans for two new Arctic army brigades were drawn up. An abandoned military base at Alakurtti, Russia, less than 30 miles from the Finnish border, was reopened. And military construction crews began refurbishing a string of Cold War–era bases on islands in the Arctic. “Our main objective is research and evaluation of conditions in the Arctic and the suitability of our weapons and equipment this far north,” Vladimir Kondratov, commander of the surface ships group of the Northern Fleet, told Russia Today.
Former Megachurch Pastor Rob Bell: A Church That Doesn’t Support Gay Marriage Is ‘Irrelevant’ (Source Huffington Post) Rob Bell, the widely popular and controversial former megachurch pastor, is now convinced that a church doesn’t support same-sex marriage will “continue to be even more irrelevant.” Bell made the comments on an episode of Oprah Winfrey’s “Super Soul Sunday,” where he appeared with his wife Kristen to talk about religion and spirituality. “One of the oldest aches in the bones of humanity is loneliness,” Bell said. “Loneliness is not good for the world. Whoever you are, gay or straight, it is totally normal, natural and healthy to want someone to go through life with. It’s central to our humanity. We want someone to go on the journey with.” Bell notes that Christianity is evolving and that many Christians have already opened their hearts to the idea that two people of the same sex would choose to journey together. In fact, he says the church’s acceptance of gay marriage is “inevitable.” “I think culture is already there and the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense, when you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who are your brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles, and co-workers and neighbors, and they love each other and just want to go through life,” he said. Bell was founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in western Michigan. He raised eyebrows in 2011 with his book “Love Wins,” which questioned the existence of hell. Since then, he’s slowly drifted away from his evangelical roots. He’s now a spiritual adviser for Oprah Winfrey, appearing on the “Rob Bell Show” on Winfrey’s OWN television network.
US Marines on the Ground in Iraq as ISIS Burns 45 Alive (Source The Fiscal Times) Iraqi local officials in Iraq’s town of al-Baghdadi have warned of another ISIS mass burning massacre. The terror organization surrounded a compound several days ago that houses more than 1000 families and burned 45 people alive. “ISIS has killed more than 150 people from al-Obaid tribe…some of them were burned alive and some were beheaded…they were policemen…some of them fought against ISIS before,” said sheikh Mal Allah al-Obaidi, the head of the local council in the al-Baghdadi. An Iraqi air base is located next to al-Baghdadi. More than 300 US military service members are providing training, and coordinating US air raids there. As the US military official at the central command announced that the US will train 12 Iraqi brigades to start an Iraqi operation to liberate the northern city of Mosul in April or May, reports emerged suggesting US Marines will conduct a limited operation in the border area between Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to strike ISIS jihadists who control the border area. “US forces have landed in al-Habbaniya air base,” said Saadon Shehan, a blogger from al-Ramadi, the provincial capital of al-Anbar province in western Iraq. The target of the Marines supposed operation is to cut a major funding source to ISIS by ending its control of the border area. It is estimated that ISIS makes $150,000 daily by collecting money from travelers using the Iraqi – Jordanian highway.
After 3 Months, Hackers Still Plaguing State Dept. (Source newser.com) The hackers that got into the State Department’s unclassified email system three months ago are still there, and they seem to be harder to get rid of than bedbugs, insiders say. Investigators believe the hackers first got into the network through an infected link in an email that spread malware throughout the department’s systems worldwide, sources tell the Wall Street Journal. Despite repeated attempts to clear the system with the help of the NSA and outside contractors, the hackers keep trying to sneak back in with altered versions of the code. Multiple sources tell the Journal that the hack appears to be linked to the Russian government, and some of the emails taken were related to the Ukraine crisis. But Russian government hackers are believed to have capabilities close to those of the highly advanced US ones, a report from Kaspersky Lab exposed this week, so investigators aren’t sure why they were even able to detect the hack. One insider says it appears that Moscow either sent its “B-team,” or it wanted to send Washington a message by not covering its tracks.
Racist Chelsea Football Fans (Source RT) Racism rears its ugly head, as this video shows a black man in Paris forcefully pushed off a subway train by rowdy British Chelsea fans headed for a match with Paris Saint-Germain. An investigation into their identities is underway. “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it” – this is the phrase they chanted during the incident, seen here in amateur video footage taken at the Richelieu-Drouot station and obtained exclusively by the Guardian. The man tried to squeeze past them several times, before being given a hard shove. The ride was delayed by three minutes as this was happening, according to British expat Paul Nolan. He told the newspaper that “the doors were open and I could see and hear that a lot of chanting was going on. It looked like it was quite aggressive so I just took out my phone to record it.” “He was obviously completely shocked when they pushed him off.