Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Six Years Later, “Havana Syndrome” Mystery Still Not Solved

The mysterious illnesses that have attacked various U.S. intelligence personnel across the globe over the past six years are still part of an active investigation by the CIA and other intelligence agencies. The sickness, nicknamed “Havana Syndrome” after the first cases were reported by U.S. personnel in Cuba, is characterized by symptoms similar to traumatic brain injuries. In spite of the unknown origin of the illness, investigators lack the evidence to suggest that a biological weapon from a foreign adversary could be the cause, saying that the reported illnesses were too random and widespread to be caused by a weapon. However, that doesn’t explain why only U.S. personnel stationed abroad have reported getting sick. That certainly doesn’t seem random. One intelligence panel suggested the illness could be traced to electromagnetic waves, but one would expect such an environmental factor to be indiscriminate and affect more than just these select individuals. These cases seem much more intentional than that, and the victims of the illness are getting frustrated that their questions still can’t be answered, six years down the road and counting.

-Anna

https://www.cnn.com/2022/10/05/politics/cia-investigation-havana-syndrome-mysterious-illness/index.html

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Seeks to Oppose Russian Propaganda in African Countries

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, started his 10-day tour across Africa this week. One of his main aims is to “better explain Ukraine” to his African counterparts and why they are important for Ukraine’s defence against the Russian war of aggression.

“I arrived here and I hear, ‘This isn’t our war, the West is fighting against Russia’; ‘Russia and Ukraine are one people’; and ‘Russia attacked you because you were going to become a NATO member,’” Kuleba described conversations with Senegalese officials according to the New York Times.

On Tuesday, the Ukrainian foreign minister stated to journalists in Dakar: “Russian narrative has been very present here. Now it’s time for Ukrainian truths.”

So far, many African countries have not condemned the war of aggression against Ukraine. The main reason is the fact that Russia is Africa’s largest supplier of weapons and wheat.

From my point of view, it is counterproductive for the US that Russia still has much influence on several African countries. Especially the war on Ukraine is used by Russia to ship its propaganda abroad, along with weapons and wheat. By that, the Kremlin is instrumentalizing African countries as a reproducer of the anti-West and anti-Ukraine narrative. This is counterproductive for EU and US goals to gain further international support for aiding Ukraine.

Furthermore, Africa is a continent that has a lot of potential as it has a majorly young population, important raw materials like oil (e.g. in the North East of Mozambique), precious metals and rapidly growing cities (e.g. Nairobi, Daressalaam, Lagos, etc.). Thus, any potential from this continent that is misused and instrumentalized by Russia is vis-à-vis a loss for the US and counterproductive for its aim of staying the dominant actor on the world’s stage. Therefore, the Biden administration should also more interact with African partners to make sure, governments are not repeating Russian propaganda.

– Maline

Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/04/world/africa/kuleba-africa-tour.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-56886085

Ballistic Missile Launch Over the Japanese Mainland

Hours ago, an intermediate-range ballistic missile was launched from the rogue state of North Korea over mainland Japan for the first time in five years. As a result of the launch, Japan was forced to issue evacuation notices and suspend train services across the country. This marks the most provocative stance North Korea has taken this year as it continues to test ICBMs at an increasing rate. Japanese authorities alerted residents in northeastern regions to evacuate to shelters, in the first “J-alert” alert since 2017. The United States condemned the launch as “dangerous and reckless” and has already consulted with both South Korean and Japanese national security advisers to determine an appropriate response to the unfolding situation. The flight distance shows the missile’s range is enough to hit Guam, home to U.S. military bases that possess the capability to deploy bombers capable of reaching the Korean mainland, an ability which the North Koreans condemn and likely hope to dissuade through their posturing.

-Wesley

South Korea Says North Korea Has Fired Ballistic Missile Toward Sea | HuffPost Latest News

N. Korea sends missile soaring over Japan in escalation (msn.com)

 

Boko Haram and the CIA?

There is the possibility that the Boko Haram is another problem created by the CIA to “divide and rule” Nigeria. This was because of the United States’ goal during the “Scramble for Africa” to counter the influence of China and Russia. With the African Command of the U.S. military, AFRICOM, they wanted to control the resources and strategic locations by injecting a problem and having the country rely on the U.S., NATO, IMF, and the World Bank -which all have strong U.S. influence- for help. Thus the supposed CIA creation of the Boko Haram in Nigeria. Terrorism in Nigeria will result in United States dependency for the most strategical location in Africa.

Boko Haram is an offshoot of the CIA

– Katelyn

Protests held over climate crisis and energy rises

In the UK, thousands of people take the streets to protest for more action on climate change the day that energy prices come into effect. Postal and rail strikes coincide with the effort seen all around the UK, including Belfast. Many of the protesters are fighting against capitalism and urging the government to do more about the climate crisis. The heat wave that hit the UK adds fuel to fire along with the rising profits of the fuel industry. Overall, these protests show how those in power are falling short of what their people both want and need in terms of the climate and everyday life, even in wealthy countries like the UK.

 

Amanda Krest

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-63102669

Isis is wreaking havoc in Afghanistan

The return of Isis demonstrates the Taliban’s inability to rule as the group is spreading havoc in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a haven for terrorists when the Taliban are in charge. In this article, it was discussed how a bomb swept through a Kabul exam room on Friday, when kids were taking a practice exam to get ready for college. Although several people were killed and injured, Isis is most likely responsible for the bombing of this school. Even before the Taliban gained control, Isis began to gain ground. After the US-led involvement in 2001, bombs have occurred more frequently than they have in the past. Nothing compares to the speed of terrorism’s devastation in the lengthy 21-year history of international control. It is obvious that the Taliban will not be able to stop or defeat Isis. It is too poorly put together and too ready to cause ongoing harm. Even in periods of growth, they were unable to rule Afghanistan. They lack economic knowledge. They aren’t lawmakers. The majority of this is the fault of the democracies around the world, especially America.

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/isis-is-wreaking-havoc-in-afghanistan

-Nick

U.S. Charges 3 Iranians in Broad Hacking Scheme

Three Iranians have been charged for a wide-ranging hacking campaign across the world that targeted local governments, public utilities and nonprofit institutions, across the United States, Israel, Russia and Britain. These men breached computers, demanding a ransom in Bitcoin after deploying malware that blocked access to networks, or steal data and threaten to either sell or make sensitive information public if the victims did not pay up. The State Department offered a $10 million reward for any information, releasing that those charged worked for tech companies linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is a powerful branch of Iran’s military. The cyber attacks were not directed by the Iranian government, and in fact the men even tried to extort ransom from Iranian businesses.

The computer breach shows the extent that hackers are willing to go to in order to gain some sort of profit or in formation. In my personal opinion, the key point of this article is how the three men worked for companies linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. These men were in a position where they could access such classified information and use it to their advantage, but they also had the materials to actively hack into computers across the world. They were able to do this because Iran is unwilling to crack down on cybercrime within its borders, especially ransomware attacks. This meant that if they had wanted, they could have done a lot more damage.

-Kerrin

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/14/us/politics/iran-hacking-cyberattacks.html?searchResultPosition=1

Chinese Hacking Attempts On The Rise

The idea of China, or any State Power, using hacking to gain intelligence or conduct operations is not new. However, it appears as though attempts to hack vital parts of the US to gain intelligence has been on the rise this year. Apparently, the movement has made the hacking program larger than all other programs put together.

Specifically, these are Chinese-based companies, not China directly, that are being accused of stealing sensitive information regarding things regarding the US Government. However, the Chinese government has rejected allegations of attacks against the US and has retorted by stating it is the US that has been hacking them.

According to reports, Chinese hackers look for information regarding things ranging from foreign policy, trade policy, and even cryptocurrency. Multiple governmental agencies have been affected as well, however the specific agencies are not publicly known.

While there is no official connection between hacking groups and the Chinese government, the US government and others have been speculating that the Chinese government has been using these hacking groups as proxies to gather information on their behalf. This is not dissimilar to accusations of the Chinese military using civilian ships to attack foreign nations ships in disputed territory; removing the blame and putting it onto citizens.

It would be hard for the Biden Administration to do anything; if it were easy it would have been done by now. Considering the sensitivity of information that could be gathered by these hacking groups, it is important to further secure this information in some way. Without concrete evidence, these hacking groups are nothing more than that; hacking groups. Without solid proof that they are fronts set up and paid for by the Chinese Government, there is little the United States can do.

 

Chinese hacking group targeting US agencies and companies has surged its activity, analysis finds | CNN Politics

 

Recent Instances of Espionage Committed by U.S. Citizens

The charging of a former NSA employee with counts of espionage is the most recent of several incidents of federal personnel attempting to sell classified information to foreign entities. Jareh Dalke, who was employed by the NSA for less than a month over the summer, was able to obtain secret and top secret government intelligence which he intended to sell to a foreign actor (most likely a Russian entity).  Unfortunately for him, the “spy” Dalke thought he was making a deal with was actually an undercover FBI agent, and Dalke was apprehended and charged.

This happened at about the same time that U.S. Army Major Jamie Lee Henry and wife Anna Gabrielian were indicted for plotting to sell confidential medical records of American military personnel to Russia. The question that remains is why is this happening now? Are these cases simply examples of opportunists taking advantage of the war between Ukraine and Russia, desperately trying to make a quick and immoral buck or two, or are these individuals engaging in espionage because they are truly on Russia’s side? Henry and Gabrielian are reported to have demonstrated pro-Russia sentiment, but it is unclear whether Dalke’s motivation was over support for Russia or simply financial gain.

-Anna

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/former-us-intelligence-employee-arrested-espionage-related-charges-rcna50075

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/09/29/army-major-and-doctor-wife-charged-in-plot-to-give-us-military-medical-info-to-russians.html

$12b to Ukraine?

A bill announced by the Biden administration on September 28 will add another 1.1 billion in aid sent to Ukraine in their efforts to defend against the Russian invasion (1). This package will bring the aid provided to Ukraine to almost $17 Billion since Biden has taken office. (1) This package is designed to help Ukraine in the long term, sending 18 more High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and 12 Titan anti-drone systems (1). This long-term approach from the white house can easily be interpreted that this conflict isn’t expected to end any time soon. Even if this conflict does come to a relatively quick end, Ukraine would still be set up to defend itself for the foreseeable future. A country having the capability to defend itself against Russia (and others) may encourage other countries to join NATO in order to deter aggression (as contentious as this may be). This approach leads to the next bill which was passed by congress on September 30. A $12.3 billion stopgap was signed off by President Biden shortly before the deadline to sign such a bill, which could have resulted in a government shutdown. A stopgap, as defined by merriam-webster; something that serves as a temporary expedient. This leaves the bill subject to change, it’s unknown where all that money will go. I’ve cited at least one article that mentions it will go towards helping Afghan refugees (3). While helping Afghan refugees is a wholesome endeavor, it can be misleading to constituents where the money is actually going. Especially since none of the articles I read actually named the bill that was being passed. H.R. 6833 “Continuing Appropriations and Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2023” (4) is labeled as such on the house’s most viewed bills webpage. After clicking on that link and viewing the summary of the bill, you’ll notice the name has changed, “Making continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2023, and for other purposes.” (5) Upon reading the summary, you’ll notice it mostly talks about making insulin affordable, which an executive order from the current administration undid an initiative from the former administration. Another initiative that may be targeted by this bill includes speeding up the permitting process for energy initiatives. (6) It remains to be seen where this money will eventually go and I’m sure it will be up for much debate leading up to the midterms and throughout this new fiscal year.

-Roderick

(4) https://www.congress.gov/most-viewed-bills
(5) https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/6833
(3) https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-congress-negotiators-set-12-bln-new-ukraine-aid-2022-09-26/
(1) https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-government-and-politics-746ae5a7113e9bb78562ee3a943c9260
(2) https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stopgap
(6) https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/sen-manchin-ends-push-for-faster-energy-project-permit-process-easing-path-for-spending-bill

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