Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Night Watch

North Korea: On 18 May, the Minister of People's Security, General Choe Pu-il, accompanied by officials of the Pyongyang city government and Party organizations, apologized in public for the collapse of a 23-story apartment building under construction. North Korean media published images of the officials apologizing to the families of the victims at the site of the collapse. The North's media reported the collapse occurred on 13 May and the cleanup ended on the 17th.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that Choe Pu Il said the responsibility for the accident rests with him as he failed to uphold well the Workers' Party of Korea's policy of love for the people. He repented of himself, saying that he failed to find out factors that can put at risk the lives and properties of the people and to take thorough-going measures, thereby causing an unimaginable accident.

He made a firm pledge to make sure that the Ministry of People's Security becomes a genuine security organ which always protects the interests, lives and properties of the people, true to the party's noble intention of putting the popular masses above all.

A second General from the Ministry, who apologized, admitted that he was chiefly to blame because he was in charge of the construction.

Comment: North Korean media have not published the numbers of the dead and injured, but they must be significant to warrant a public apology. The only reason the North's leaders have ever apologized in public in this fashion - and they have on rare occasions - is to control damage so as to avert a worse crisis. Disgraced leaders apologize prior to punishment.

The event appears staged in that the family members stood at attention in their best attire. The so-called family members showed no signs of wailing, which would be normal even in North Korea.

Several points are noteworthy. The apologies of senior officials signify unusual public accountability. Some or all of them will be punished, possibly by execution.

Secondly, in North Korea, people's security includes safe construction and accident prevention. They are also the responsibility of the national police authority, which is the Ministry of People's Security.

Finally, the collapse is a huge embarrassment, which bodes ill for those responsible. North Korea only admits flaws in its system when it absolutely must, although construction methods are slipshod and standards are not enforced. This accident must have threatened riots in the capital.

Vietnam: Update. China has sent five ships to Vietnam to evacuate Chinese nationals. Vietnam ordered strict population controls to prevent a repeat of last week's deadly anti-Chinese riots.

India: The election officials released the final vote count from the general elections last Friday. The Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 282 seats in parliament. The incumbent Congress Party won 44. The BJP won ten more seats than required to govern without a coalition.

Comment: The Congress sustained it worst electoral loss since independence.

Narendra Modi, the longtime Chief Minister of Gujarat State, will become the next prime minister. He campaigned on a platform of pro-business policies, of economic growth and prosperity, and in favor of globalization. Traditionally, the BJP has advanced Hindu interests at the expense of other religions and minorities. It is generally hostile to Muslims; prepared to destroy mosques that infringe on sacred Hindu land; and sometimes has incited violent attacks against minorities, especially Muslims.

His government will be tougher in handling Pakistan and China than the outgoing Congress government has been. That does not necessarily mean relations will be strained, but they will be more distant. However, a sensational terrorist attack traced to Pakistan, such as the Mumbai bombings in November 2008, would risk war, under a BJP government.

Ukraine: Security. The so-called command of the People's Army of Kramatorsk, in the Donetsk Oblast, said it beat back an attack by the Ukrainian National Guard.

"We have rebuffed the National Guard soldiers' attack. No information is available about our casualties yet," a spokesman for the Kramatorsk People's Army command said.

The Kyiv regime's Interior Ministry claimed the National Guard repelled a militia attack against a "base" near Slovyansk.

In Luhansk, separatists took control of the regional police headquarters through a negotiated surrender. This was the last administration building in Luhansk that remained under the control of Kyiv regime loyalists.
/ Jihad Watch
Angry Muslims 
Over at The Investigative Project on Terrorism today, there is a good review of my book Arab Winter Comes to America. You can order the book here. And the Kindle edition is here.

“Robert Spencer Defines the War Against Jihad,” by Andrew E. Harrod, IPT News, May 19, 2014:
“America is at war; and has been since at least September 11, 2001, but no one is really sure who with,” Robert Spencer writes in his recently released Arab Winter Comes to America: The Truth about the War We’re In. Thankfully, Spencer’s important book makes a significant contribution in clarifying this catastrophic confusion.
That “Islam is a fundamentally peaceful religion” no different from…other faiths” in multicultural ecumenism, Spencer observes, forms a Western policy “cornerstone” and “cherished dogma of today’s political correct elites.” Yet President George W. Bush’s claim before Congress on Sept. 20, 2001, that al-Qaida terrorists “practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism” does not “become any truer for being oft repeated.”
“[U]unlike other modern faiths, Islam is a political religion” whose “comprehensiveness is often a matter for boasting among Islamic apologists” in comparison to “Christianity’s vague set of moral precepts,” Spencer writes. Such detail includes a “denial of basic rights…integral” to Islamic law despite attempted Muslim portrayals of sharia as “so amorphous as to defy characterization.” Islam’s death penalty for apostasy, for example, gives it something in common with cults, making leaving in one piece difficult.
Sharia interpretations “more compatible with Western pluralism and liberal democracy…have never gained any significant traction among Muslims.” However undesirable, centuries-old Islamic orthodoxy invariably and unsurprisingly has controlling legal authority.

White House: Obama Learned of Fake VA Lists From Media

By Cathy Burke

  / Newsmax

Image: White House: Obama Learned of Fake VA Lists From Media
The first time President Barack Obama heard about allegations of phony waiting lists that hid long — and allegedly deadly — lapses of care for ailing veterans was from an April 23 CNN report,  White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday.

"If you mean the specific allegations that I think were first reported by your network out of Phoenix, I believe, we learned about them through the reports," Carney said, according to CNN.

Carney said that although the president wasn't aware of the fake patient lists at the Phoenix, Ariz., Department of Veterans Affairs facility, he'd known of the VA's general problem with long wait times and inadequate care for several years.

On Tuesday, there were mounting signs that the White House realized they had a full-fledged scandal on their hands and were moving into crisis mode, The Washington Post reported.

The damage could be especially severe to Obama's domestic agenda, which has barely recovered from the Obamacare debacle ahead of midterms that polls show Democrats will lose in large numbers.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.  — an Iraq war veteran, double-amputee and former VA assistant secretary — told the Post that the recent allegations are similar to problems she faced at the department from 2009 to 2011.

“I’m not surprised, because it’s such a large network that you’re going to find problems,” Duckworth said.

Obama has gained more federal funding for VA and expanded the list of what qualifies for disability treatment and urged private-sector firms to employ veterans once they return from Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the Washington Times reported Monday that internal memos show the Obama-Biden transition team was told in late 2008 of the problems with care at the Arizona facility.

Carney dug in, however, insisting that "then-candidate Obama [in 2008] identified problems with the VA and committed himself, if being elected, to making sure we enhance the budgets we provide to the Veterans Affairs Department so we can better serve our veterans.

"We asked for and received from Congress significant increases in the VA budget . . . You have more veterans being served," he said.

The White House spokesman said Obama is standing by embattled VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, saying also: "Accountable individuals must be held to account."

But ABC News' Jonathan Karl got into a testy exchange with Carney over last week's resignation of Robert Petzel, undersecretary for health in the VA,  who was already due to retire this summer, according to the Free Beacon, which printed a transcript of the dialogue.

"Jay, how can you suggest that his resignation comes as accountability when the VA put out a press release on Sept. 20 saying he was leaving? That's almost eight months ago," Karl said. Cutting off Carney's referral to the American Legion, Karl barked: "I don't care what the American Legion has to say. I'm asking what you have to say."

"Well, I would point you to the American Legion, which obviously has a deep interest in this matter and has been reported on significantly by your network and others in terms of what they've said about this issue," Carney responded.

Town Hall's Guy Benson wrote Monday, "We can now tack the VA scandal onto the growing roster of controversies the President of the United States allegedly first learned about via news reports," citing Obama's lack of awareness of the problems with the Obamacare launch and NSA snooping.

Benson went on to reprint a tweet from The Blaze staffer Steve Krakauer on an Obama campaign promise — from 2007:

Cyberthreats...Obama's diversion de jour
By: Diane Sori

"This case should serve as a wake-up call to the seriousness of the ongoing cyberthreat." 
-AG Eric Holder on his bringing charges of hacking against the Chinese government

Oh the hypocrisy of it all...Fast and Furious...NO charges brought... Benghazi...NO charges brought...the IRS targeting conservative groups...NO charges brought...the NSA spying on Americans...NO charges brought...the VA scandal...NO charges brought...cyber-spying by Chinese officials...charges brought.

AG Eric Holder who has the authority to bring charges against those who perpetrate crimes against America brings NO charges when they should be brought, but bringing spying charges against China...or against any nation...borders on the ludicrous as all nations...including the U.S....spy on their adversaries.

But now Eric Holder is suddenly running to America's defense as he brings what he calls "the first such case brought against state actors"... something he also refers to as "21st century burglary"...as the charges he's bringing relate to cyber-espionage and theft of trade secrets, and he's bringing them against Chinese military officials whom he claims hacked into six major U.S. companies and a trade union to steal trade secrets. And these companies named are connected to the U.S. nuclear, metals, and solar products industries. The alleged companies hacked included major U.S. firms Alcoa World Alumina (the world's largest aluminum manufacturer), Westinghouse Electric (they build nuclear power plants), Allegheny Technologies (a metals manufacturer), SolarWorld (a major manufacturer of solar related products), and U.S. Steel Corporation (the country’s largest steel maker). Also hacked was the United Steelworkers Union which opposes Chinese trade practices. 
And what was stolen from all included information deemed useful to Chinese companies, including state-owned companies, and this lead Holder to say this hacking is different than that of intelligence gathering...hacking actually...because it's cyber-espionage for the sole purpose of gaining the commercial upper hand against U.S. businesses.  
But isn't it odd that despite these allegations that one of the companies supposedly hacked actually downplayed the hacking.

“To our knowledge, no material information was compromised during this incident, which occurred several years ago,” according to Monica Orbe, Alcoa’s director of corporate affairs. “Safeguarding our data is a top priority for Alcoa, and we continue to invest resources to protect our systems.”

And now suddenly after all this time Eric Holder feels it's his duty to charge in and save American 'face' if you will by bringing charges of computer fraud, conspiracy to commit computer fraud, damaging a computer, aggravated identity theft, and economic espionage against five Shanghai-based officials who have NEVER set foot on American soil...five officials in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) with 'handles' such as UglyGorilla and KandyGoo. And Holder's bringing such charges borders on the insane as this is NOTHING more than industrial espionage...done so by all sides for decades. And Holder actually thinks the Chinese government...a government that spies on their own people as a matter of standard operating procedures...will turn over these individuals to face charges in U.S. courts. 
Is this man for real...I think NOT.

And of course the Chinese government...who has NO extradition treaty with the U.S...said NO when they heard this nonsense, after all they claim the accusations were made up and so they issued a warning that such erroneous accusations would damage U.S./China relations...as if relations were all the good to begin with...and as such they have suspended high-level cyber-talks with the U.S. that began last June.

In fact, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang said the charges are “purely ungrounded and absurd,” adding that the U.S. had “fabricated facts” which “seriously violates basic norms of international relations and damages Sino-U.S. cooperation and mutual trust.”

And these charges against Chinese military officials come soon after a separate worldwide operation resulted in the arrest of 97 people in 16 countries who are suspected of developing, distributing, and/or using malicious software called BlackShades to gain control of personal computers.
But as serious as computer hacking is we all know what these charges against China are really all about...can you say 'divert and deflect'...a skill honed to a fine art by this administration...as this supposed landmark case...as this bravado and chest pounding by Holder...is NOTHING but an administration run amok's attempt to draw attention off all the oh-so-damaging scandals...especially the Benghazi and VA scandals.

And now saying that he's been concerned for quite some time about cyberthreats emanating from China, Obama has announced new goals...more diversions actually...by naming John Carlin, former Assistant Attorney General for National Security, to head the Justice Department's National Security Division...a division that will work to prosecute state-sponsored cyberthreats...as per a claimed administration strategy two years in the making to address what Obama considers China's threats to U.S. national and economic security.

And Obama hopes that by now outwardly play acting for the all important 'smile for the camera' photo-ops...play acting that he and the federal government are willing to step up to the plate to stop these cyberthreats...that an important message will be sent to voters that they will remember come November. But as with everything else this administration touches of late, as Obama's dirty and bloody hands seek a justice that he knows will NEVER come...that this too will come back to haunt both he and his administration...as computer hacking is NOT new and as president this is something he should have known about and addressed years ago...but did NOT.

Sounds like his knowing almost five years ago about the problems in the VA doesn't it...just saying.