Russia attacks U.S. oil and gas companies in massive hack (Source CNN Money) The Cold War didn’t end in the 1990’s. It simply moved online. That much is clear after a security firm reported this week that Russian hackers have launched unprecedented, highly-sophisticated attacks on Western oil and gas companies. The cyber operation nicknamed Energetic Bear is the latest example of an ongoing battle between all-seeing American and British cyber spies on one side — and intellectual-property-stealing hackers in China and Russia on the other. The report by Symantec (SYMC, Tech30) described how hackers have sneaked malware into computers at power plants, energy grid operators, gas pipeline companies and industrial equipment makers. Most of the targets were in the United States and Spain. The rest were across Europe. The malware was used to steal documents, usernames and passwords. In the best-case scenario, the hackers only took valuable and sensitive information. At worst, they gained the ability to hijack controls — and even sabotage the nation’s energy supply.
EU’s united front on Russia falling amid gas needs (Source Associated Press) A clutch of countries is breaking ranks with the EU’s efforts to put economic and diplomatic pressure on Russia over Ukraine and building a pipeline meant to carry huge amounts of Russian gas to their doorstep. Russian natural gas already accounts for around a third of the EU’s needs. The South Stream pipeline could increase Russian supplies to Europe by another 25 percent, potentially boosting Moscow’s leverage long after the Ukraine crisis fades. Adding to the skein of Russian pipelines already ending in Europe, South Stream would go through Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria and Italy in one leg and Croatia, Macedonia, Greece and Turkey in a second. The European Commission, the EU executive, has ordered a construction moratorium over concerns with Russia’s dual role as pipeline owner and gas supplier. It has also delayed some political talks on the pipeline amid the crisis in Ukraine. “Developments in Ukraine and Russia have demonstrated that the EU’s priority is to diversify its energy sources,” says spokeswoman Sabine Berger of the EU Energy Commissioner’s office. But Austria, Hungary, and Serbia — the first two EU members, the third a candidate to join — have said they will build their sections of the project and others may follow, to the displeasure of the EU and United States. In the wake of Austria’s decision last month, Washington urged it to “consider carefully” whether that contributed to “discouraging further Russian aggression.” Moscow says such arguments by the U.S. are driven by business concerns. In Vienna recently to lobby for Austrian support for South Stream, Russian President Vladimir Putin said “our American friends … want to supply Europe with gas themselves.” In Slovenia Tuesday for discussions that included South Stream, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov challenged the EU Commission’s moratorium as “not in accordance with norms of international law.” European reaction has been generally muted. Many countries in central and eastern Europe already get much of their gas from Russia, making them ill-placed to criticize South Stream. Those further west, like France, have seen their lucrative business relations with Russia untouched by sanctions against Moscow. “Europe’s energy dependence on Moscow seems to be in the cards for a long time to come,” says Michael Klare, author of “Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet, the New Geopolitics of Energy.” ”Moscow is not going to give up its dominant position easily.”
DANGEROUS RULING: JUDGE LETS MICROSOFT SEIZE & REDIRECT NO-IP DOMAINS WITHOUT NOTICE (Source TECH DIRT) Microsoft posted a somewhat self-congratulatory blog post yesterday about how it was taking on a “global cybercrime epidemic” and effectively targeting systems used by malware. Of course, part of the details were that Microsoft totally misrepresented the nature of No-IP and how dynamic DNS solutions work. No-IP’s parent company, Vitalwerks Solutions, was painted by Microsoft as being something of an accomplice to the malware epidemic, allowing Microsoft to convince a judge to seize a bunch of very popular No-IP domains without any notice or immediate recourse. Microsoft claims that it’s just stopping malware, but the collateral damage from grabbing those domains is immense. According to No-IP: Unfortunately, Microsoft never contacted us or asked us to block any subdomains, even though we have an open line of communication with Microsoft corporate executives. We have been in contact with Microsoft today. They claim that their intent is to only filter out the known bad hostnames in each seized domain, while continuing to allow the good hostnames to resolve. However, this is not happening. Apparently, the Microsoft infrastructure is not able to handle the billions of queries from our customers. Millions of innocent users are experiencing outages to their services because of Microsoft’s attempt to remediate hostnames associated with a few bad actors. AS NO-IP FURTHER NOTES, MICROSOFT COULD HAVE EASILY CONTACTED THEM, AND THE COMPANY WOULD HAVE TAKEN ACTION: Had Microsoft contacted us, we could and would have taken immediate action. Microsoft now claims that it just wants to get us to clean up our act, but its draconian actions have affected millions of innocent Internet users.
Sunni rebels declare new ‘Islamic caliphate’ (Source Aljazeera.com) A Sunni armed group which controls large areas of Iraq and Syria has announced the establishment of a “caliphate” straddling the two countries, urging other groups to pledge allegiance. In an audio recording released on Sunday, the group formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant declared its chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, “the caliph” and “leader for Muslims everywhere”. “The legality of all emirates, groups, states and organisations becomes null by the expansion of the caliph’s authority and the arrival of its troops to their areas,” said the group’s spokesman Abu Mohamed al-Adnani. “Listen to your caliph and obey him. Support your state, which grows every day.” The group announced that it was now called the “Islamic State”. According to the statement, the new caliphate stretches from Iraq’s Diyala province to Syria’s Aleppo. “The Shura [council] of the Islamic State met and discussed this issue [of the caliphate] … the Islamic State decided to establish an Islamic caliphate and to designate a caliph for the state of the Muslims, said Adani. “The words ‘Iraq’ and ‘the Levant’ have been removed from the name of the Islamic State in official papers and documents.”
CHINA TO SET YUAN CLEARING BANKS IN LUXEMBOURG, PARIS (Source NASDAQ)
In its continued push to make the yuan a global currency, China’s central bank said Sunday it plans to designate clearing banks for its currency in Paris and Luxembourg, as the two financial centers battle with London to become the leading European offshore yuan-trading city.The People’s Bank of China announced the move in two separate statements Sunday. It didn’t say when it would designate the clearing banks. The French and Luxembourg central banks said Sunday they had signed agreements with PBOC allowing for greater cooperation in the oversight of their domestic yuan market.
The dollar meltdown (Source news24.com) As global “reserve currency” the U.S. dollar forms the backbone of our world’s financial system. But according to a new research report, the U.S. dollar could lose its status as the world’s reserve currency as a result of the new US legislation, which takes effect on July 1, 2014. The report claims that the new law, U.S. House of Representatives Bill “H.R. 2847”, passed into law by U.S. Congress in 2010, will usher in a potential meltdown of the U.S. dollar. Compiled with input from analysts, the report says that this new law will wreak havoc with local currencies around the world, including the S.A. Rand. It may be the U.S. Government’s biggest blunder which could effectively lead to a collapse of the U.S. Dollar. The New York Post recently reported, “The US dollar is getting perilously close to losing its status as the world’s reserve currency. Should it cross the line, the 2008 financial crisis could look like a summer storm.” As the U.S. dollar gets closer to losing its position as the world’s reserve currency, the impact will be felt worldwide. America contributes 34% to the global economy. Should the U.S. Dollar collapse America’s economy will just about shutdown. Business will at least temporarily grind to a halt. This will directly affect America’s trade partner countries like South Africa. Commodity prices for petrol, oil and other commodities are expected to skyrocket. Almost everything will get dramatically more expensive – clothing, furniture, household goods, food, electronics, televisions, computers and cars.
Russia Strikes out at Sanctions and Takes its Battle to the Dollar (Source globalresearh.ca) The European Union sees a new deadline on implementing economic sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis expire today, June 30, 2014. But Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is turning the tables on the United States to spur a global ‘de-dollarisation’, writes Professor Stefan Hedlund. Russia is making a concerted attack on the status of the America’s greenback dollar as a global reserve currency and is in the process of abandoning the ‘petro-dollar’ as its trading unit for oil and gas. Russian energy companies have been told to ditch the dollar and sign contracts in rubles and the currencies of partner-countries. The desire to reduce the use of dollars is in line with China’s aim to promote international use of the Chinese yuan. Other emerging market nations would also like to see reduced American hegemony. An attack by Russia on the US dollar would be devastating and could, in theory, trigger a stock market collapse in the United States. However, the status of the greenback as global reserve currency is not yet under serious threat, for the simple reason that the alternatives are worse. But the Russian attack may prod the global economy to take a further step on the road to a system without a designated reserve currency. If Central Banks across the world were to sell off their holdings of US government bonds, then the US economy would be flooded with dollars, causing the currency to plummet, inflation to spike and interest rates to skyrocket. The consequent rise in the cost of financing government debt would be monstrous, and having to return to fiscal balance would force the closure of so many social spending programmes that there would be rioting in the streets. Russian banking and energy experts have discussed with government officials ways to eliminate the dollar from export operations. Economy minister Alexei Ulyukaev, has called on Russian energy companies to be ‘braver in signing contracts in rubles and the currencies of the partner-countries’. There has been talk of introducing a ‘currency switch executive order’, whereby companies could be compelled to transact a percentage of their operations in, say, Russian rubles or Chinese yuans. Rosneft has concluded a ‘goods-for-oil’ swap with Iran which provides 500,000 barrels of Iranian oil per day to sell on global markets. And Gazprom’s recent US$400 billion gas deal with China is viewed by both sides as a way of moving away from US dollar domination.
What Common People of New EU Associate Members Have a Right to Know (Source strategic-culture.org) The European Gendarmerie Force (EUROGENFOR) is a multinational initiative of six EU Member States – France, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Spain – established in 2006 by treaty with the aim to strengthen international crisis management capacities and contribute to the development of the Common Security and Defense Policy. EUROGENDFOR can be considered as an integrated police tool designed to carry out police missions in different theatres, including destabilized ones, in support of the EU, the UN, the OSCE and NATO, or possible ad hoc coalitions. The main feature of this armed force is flexibility. It can intervene quickly in any high intensity conflict under any military command (formally under the control of civilians), acting jointly with other divisions or in a totally autonomous manner. It may also intervene at any time of the conflict in the initial phase to stabilize or restore the pre-existing order alongside or replacing the local police force. During the transition phase it will be called to serve a purely military mission in coordination with the local authorities, and in the final stage will facilitate the transfer of responsibilities from the military to the civilian chain of command. The methods of intervention are the following: replacement of the local police forces in certain areas where the conduct of the normal civil activity is in crisis (read – it deprives the country of national sovereignty – author’s note) and building military facilities in an environment characterized by high levels of insecurity and crime due to the lack of an adequate rule of law (a pretext easy to invent – author’s note). The unit’s contingent is about 2,500 men able to intervene within thirty days in every corner of the world. Article 29 determined that the staff members of EUROGENFOR will not suffer any proceedings concerning the execution of a judgment against them in the host State, in the receiving State or in a case connected to the fulfillment of their service.
Pope excommunicates Italian Mafia members (Source cnn.com) Using his strongest language to date, Pope Francis told Italian Mafia members that they are excommunicated from the Catholic Church. During a one-day visit to Calabria, the Pope denounced the local mafia, called ‘Ndrangheta, as an example of “the adoration of evil and contempt for the common good.” According to reports, ‘Ndrangheta is one of the wealthiest international crime organizations, with an annual turnover of 53 billion euros ($72 billion), much of it from the global cocaine trade.
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