Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tolerance, Change, America, and the World

An item in Monday's news started me thinking about tolerance, and how it's been practiced here in America. Sometimes tolerance, American style, is the sort you'll find in a dictionary: "willingness to recognize and respect the beliefs or practices of others." (Princeton's WordNet) Sometimes "tolerance" and "freedom" mean "free to agree with me, and do things my way."

I've experienced two flavors of the latter sort of "tolerance," and don't think much of either.

I think the 'dictionary' sort of tolerance is a good idea. Partly because it's part of my system of belief, partly out of a kind of enlightened self-interest. I've been over this in another blog:And, yes: as the name of that blog suggests, I'm a Catholic. Which may not mean what you've been told. I'll get back to that, later in this post.

If you follow that other blog, you may as well skip this post. It's a slightly-edited version of "Religious Freedom In America: It Could be Worse" (March 20, 2012). I decided that most of the original post fit this blog's range of topics:Enough introduction. Here's that post:

Tolerance, Freedom, and America

One reason that I think America is okay is that this country has a fairly good track record for tolerance. Far from perfect, though.

I remember when this country was flushing McCarthyism out it its system, and when "banned in Boston" was taken seriously: sometimes as a sign of End Times; sometimes, I think, as free publicity.

I endured political correctness, when I last did time in American academia. It wasn't, in my opinion, an improvement on McCarthyism: just the same old 'my way or the highway' attitude, with a somewhat different agenda.

Life, Freedom, and Change

But we got over McCarthyism. I think we'll get over political correctness, although the "free to agree with me" attitude packaged as "tolerance" is still very much with us. I've been posting about a current effort by America's national government to control how Americans practice our religions:
By the way, what you may have read in the papers notwithstanding: 'Those Catholics' aren't trying to make you worship our way. The problem we have with the HHS mandate comes from our belief that human beings are people. All human beings.

Anyway, we're not allowed to 'force' anyone to change your mind about faith. It's in the rules:
  • Catholics must support religious freedom
    (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2104-2109)
    • For everybody
      (Catechism, 2106)

It Could be Worse

Like I said, America has a fairly good record of tolerance. Killing folks who don't conform, and bragging about it, isn't a serious problem in today's America.

Folks in some parts of the world have a very different approach to living with differences:
"School that employed American shot in Yemen denies he proselytized Christianity"
Associated Press, via (March 19, 2012)

"The school employing an American teacher gunned down in Yemen has denied accusations that he was proselytizing Christianity.

"A text message that circulated by mobile phone in Yemen said that 'holy warriors' had killed 'a senior missionary' in the central city of Taiz, shortly after the teacher was shot dead Sunday by two gunmen on a motorcycle...."

"...A statement from the International Training Development Centre in Taiz identified the victim as Joel Shrum, an American development worker living in Yemen with his wife and two children since 2010.

"The school denied that Shrum was proselytizing, saying that he 'highly respected' Islam. It said Muslims and Christians work together on 'human development, skill transfer and community development' projects there and that religious and political debates are not permitted...."
The lesson to learn from that article isn't, I think, that all Yemeni, or Muslims, are bad. Even though whoever killed Joel Shrum may have been a Yemeni, or a Muslim.

Frightened by Change?

I'm inclined to believe the school's claim that he was not guilty of proselytizing. Arguably, though, the entire school is guilty of trying to 'destroy' Yemeni culture. Sort of.

The school's agenda of "human development, skill transfer and community development" sounds like a 'plot' to bring Yemen into the 20th century. Maybe even the 21st.

Change can be scary. Folks sometimes feel threatened by change. I think that Associated Press article shows what can happen when folks get scared: and think that killing someone will solve their problems. Or at least make them feel better.

Judgmental as this may seem: I don't think that's right.
(Catechism, 2258-2287, 2302-2317)

Human Development, Living in the Past, and Being Catholic

I'm a practicing Catholic, so human development is one of my priorities. (" 'To Build a Better Future ... With Confidence Rather Than Resignation' " (February 20, 2012))

For someone living in Yemen, who sees change as intrinsically bad: the International Training Development Centre in Taiz is a very real threat.

I'm not spooked by change. But then, I'm an American.

I grew up in a crucible of change: the country I live in today isn't like the one I grew up in. Which isn't an entirely bad thing. I remember when "she's as smart as a man" was supposed to be a compliment, and that's another topic.

A World Full of 'Foreigners'

I have no problem with international organizations. Not because they span national boundaries, anyway. That's not because I'm a Catholic, though.

I grew up outside the Catholic faith, and spent my teens in the '60s. The United Nations was a disappointment, communist experiments were disasters: but I found no reason to drop the idea that people are people, no matter where they are.

Later, when I became a Catholic, I learned more about why accepting all people is important. (Catechism, 616, 631, 2318, for starters) And that's yet again another topic.

A World Full of Neighbors

I've said it before. We live in a big world. Some of us are what the "Parthians, Medes, and Elamites..." became after two millennia of change.

Some of us are like me: what barbarians living on the far side of Magna Germania became after more than a millennia of contact with the Catholic Church. We changed a lot. We even gave up human sacrifice, and that's yet again another topic.

But we're all the same. We're people. And, like it or not, we're all neighbors.

The Catholic Church tells me that I'm supposed to love God, and love my neighbors. Also that everybody is my neighbor. (Matthew 22:36-40; Matthew 5:43-44; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 10:25-30; Catechism, 1825)

That's a simple set of ideas. Believing them isn't a problem. Embracing them isn't always easy: but I think it's important.

Particularly since some of my neighbors have been through a rough time lately.

Yemen, History, and Getting a Grip

Some places weathered Europe's colonial period, and the Treaty of Versailles, without coming apart at the seams. Other places are still like Yemen. I think there are worse ways of wrapping up a war than the Treaty of Versailles, and that's another topic, for another blog:
I sympathize with folks in Yemen who are trying to pick up the pieces from several centuries of foreign rule.1 But I don't sympathize with those who decided that folks who don't agree with them should die. They're still neighbors: but that sort of thing has to end, for everybody's sake.

Apparently someone in Taiz, Yemen, is at least going through the motions of treating Joel Shrum's death as a crime:
"...Taiz security director Ali al-Saidi said Monday that the investigation is still ongoing...."
(Associated Press)
That's good news, as far as it goes.

Related posts:

1 Yemen was a center of civilization. Two or three millennia back. Change happens, though, and several centuries of foreign rule didn't work out very well for Yemen. My opinion. (More at "History of Yemen," Wikipedia) Yemen since the Versailles debacle, briefly:
"North Yemen became independent of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. The British, ... withdrew in 1967 from what became South Yemen. ... the southern government adopted a Marxist orientation. ... exodus of hundreds of thousands of Yemenis from the south to the north.... formally unified as the Republic of Yemen in 1990. A southern secessionist movement in 1994 was quickly subdued. ... a group seeking a return to traditional Zaydi Islam, began in 2004 and has since resulted in six rounds of fighting ... with a ceasefire that continues to hold. The southern secessionist movement was revitalized ... Public rallies ... inspired by similar demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt ... fueled by complaints over high unemployment, poor economic conditions, and corruption. ... resulted in violence, and the demonstrations had spread to other major cities. ... hardened its demands and was unifying behind calls for SALIH's immediate ouster. ... and in early June an explosion at the mosque in the presidential compound injured SALIH, who was evacuated to Saudi Arabia for treatment. ... SALIH returned to Sanaa amid heavy shelling and machinegun fire ... SALIH signed the GCC-brokered agreement to step down, to transfer some of his powers to Vice President Abd al-Rabuh Mansur HADI..."
(Yemen, CIA World Factbook (last updated March 6, 2012))

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

America is Not at War With the Marines

On the whole, I like living in America. I also think this country has a political system that's not the worst ever devised by humanity.

Which isn't quite the same as thinking that democracy always produces desirable results - and that other forms of government are always bad:On a related topic, Americans have a presidential election coming up this November. I plan to vote. This time around, I think it's particularly important: because apparently the lunatics are running this particular asylum.

An Apparent Attack, and Disarming Those Big, Rough, Marines

The good news is that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is okay. The bad news is that, if an apparent attack had been a little better planned - some obliging soul had seen to it that all the big, rough, dangerous United States Marines in Mr. Panetta's vicinity - - - had been disarmed.

I - am - not - making - this - up.
"Military source calls incident at Afghanistan airport an 'attempted attack' " (March 14, 2012)

"A military source tells Fox News the strange incident on the tarmac Wednesday at Camp Bastion that occurred moments before Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived via C-17 was an attempted attack.

"This official could not say whether the local Afghan involved knew Panetta was about to arrive, but he could say it certainly wasn't any type of accident.

"Fox News has learned the attacker was an Afghan interpreter who was carrying gasoline and a lighter with him in the pickup truck, which he managed to steal from a British service member. The coalition service member was injured during the incident, possibly run over by the truck...."
That article is about the apparent attack.

This is why I think Mr. Panetta was very, very lucky:
"Soldiers asked to disarm during Leon Panetta speech"
The Telegraph (March 15, 2012)(not a typo: it's 'tomorrow' on the other side of the Atlantic now)

"US soldiers were asked to disarm during a speech by Leon Panetta, the American defence secretary, in a sign of grown concern over spates of seemingly random violence in Afghanistan.

"Less than a week after a US staff sergeant allegedly massacred 16 civilians in Kandahar, American soldiers were banned from bringing guns into a talk by Mr Panetta at a base in Helmand province.

"Around 200 troops who had gathered in a tent at Camp Leatherneck were told 'something had come to light' and asked abruptly to file outside and lay down their automatic rifles and 9mm pistols.

" 'Somebody got itchy, that's all I've got to say. Somebody got itchy - we just adjust,' said the sergeant who was told to clear the hall of weapons.

"Major General Mark Gurganus later said he gave the order because Afghan troops attending the talk were unarmed and he wanted the policy to be consistent for all....."
I don't blame General Gurganus. Like anyone else in the United States Armed forces, the hierarchy he's in has a civilian at the top. There may even have been a rational motive for 'consistently' disarming everybody around Mr. Panetta.

With the possible exception of anyone who might want to hurt the American official: and wasn't as dedicated to following the rules as Marines are.

Someone really ought to tell the lot that's running America just now: We're NOT AT WAR WITH THE UNITED STATES MARINES. The American military is not, except in the minds of some politically-correct diehards from the '60s, the enemy.

A tip of the hat to @darsen003, on Twitter, for the heads-up on the Telegraph article.

Somewhat-related posts:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Playing 'Victim;' Living in a Big World

I'm not a Muslim, but I am part of a religious minority: and have reason to be glad that America isn't as WASPish as it was when I was growing up. I'm acutely aware that some folks hate what they think I stand for: but I also realize that what affects my fellow-believers may not be directed at us. I've been over that in another blog:Yeah: I'm one of those people. Moving on.

"Why's Everybody Always Pickin' on Me"

As part of a memorable '50s song's lyrics, "why's everybody always pickin' on me" was quite effective.

As a position taken by folks in a minority group? I don't think it's the most prudent choice. For starters, I think America has gotten over the 'everybody's a victim' intellectual fad. And that's almost another topic.

Here's what set me off today:
"Muslim journalist defends surveillance by NYPD, says some Muslims 'use religion as cover'"
Catherine Herridge, (March 13, 2012)

"The New York Police Department has faced criticism for its surveillance of the Muslim community, but one prominent Muslim journalist defended the department in an interview with Fox News.

" 'We use religion as a cover, said Asra Nomani, a 46-year-old journalist whose work has been published by the Wall Street Journal and The Daily Beast. Nomani, a native of India, says radical ideology is very real -- and damaging to all Muslims...."

"Radical Ideology"

I can almost understand why some of Saudi Arabia's ruling family feel the way they do. What's a little harder to understand is other Muslims going along with acting as if Islam was a wholly-owned subsidiary of the House of Saud.

Back to that article.
"...Nomani showed Fox News a Koran from a mosque in West Virginia. She says the Koran's Saudi publisher added negative language about Jews and Christians. This interpretation of Islam, Nomani says, is part of a larger problem.

" 'I think that there is a movement in America right now to claim this concept of Islamophobia, to say that people are hating on Islam,' she said. 'Let's be honest, there are people that do hate on Islam. But I think that (Police Commissioner) Ray Kelly and the New York Police Department have been targeted in this larger campaign to try to show that people are picking on Muslims.'..."

"...Nomani said the Muslim community should take charge: 'I think we would be better served by being more proactive rather than defensive.'..."
Then there was the time a Saudi prince lectured New Yorkers, saying that the 9/11 attacks were America's fault.1 I've posted about that before. (November 2, 2007)

Bottom line? 'With friends like these, Islam doesn't need enemies.' My opinion.

How Would I Feel?

"...The New York Police Department's controversial surveillance program involved efforts to infiltrate mosques and Muslim communities on college campuses to gather intelligence on potential threat. News of the secret program has sparked strong reactions, both negative and positive....
How would I feel, if police were infiltrating churches and Catholic communities on college campuses? I probably wouldn't like it. But I'd also see it as a wonderful opportunity for evangelization.2 There's nothing quite like a captive audience.

I'd also be concerned about a legitimate investigation turning into something closer to a 'witch hunt.'

But I might think that investigations - even 'infiltration' - might be justified, if this very hypothetical situation were real:
"...Let's say that Scandinavian Lutherans had, for decades, been blowing up airplanes, buses, and themselves in what they called a Ragnarokathon. Learned scholars explained that the Scandinavian Lutherans were doing this because western culture didn't appreciate lutefisk and lefse...."
(August 1, 2007)
Sure, Catholics aren't Lutherans: but I might realize that a full-bore secular government might not know that. And there would always be the possibility that a rogue Catholic or two might have decided to go crazy over lefse.

If 'Ragnarokathon' was real, I'd probably prefer that the Catholic Church cooperate with secular authorities. That would be the fastest, and most effective, way to deal with a major threat. And yes, I know about the pedophile priests.

Why Should I Defend Muslims?

I'm not, quite, 'defending' Muslims. But I do think that many - probably most - Muslims would prefer living in the 21st century. Particularly when an alternative is to cosy up with crazies. Let's remember that Islamic terrorists have a distressing habit of killing Muslims for wearing the 'wrong' clothes, or saying the 'wrong' thing.

Besides, I've read Niemöller's poem.

"Sophisticated Understanding," and Death Threats

My hat's off to Asra Nomani. Folks who make sense sometimes pay a high price.
"...As for the Attorney General Eric Holder's confirmation last week to lawmakers that his department is reviewing complaints about the NYPD's surveillance, Nomani was unequivocal: If you draw the line, make it clear that the terrorists are on one side and everyone else is on the other.

" 'I think that Ray Kelly has a sophisticated understanding of what the problem is, that it's a reality,' she said. 'And I would tell him to just keep going for it, you know, and really help us clean up our mosques and our communities.'

"Nomani also has faced a personal cost for her activism, which was profiled in a PBS documentary called 'The Mosque in Morgantown.'

" 'I've had death threats, she told Fox News. I'm not going to be voted most popular at the local mosque. But I think that those are the calculations you have to make when you want to make a difference.' "

Living in a Big World

I think what's driving many Islamic terrorists is what they see as vast, alien, world that threatens their way of life. In a way, they've got a point.

I've gotten the impression that Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and others, are upset because their culture had stayed pretty much the same, since back when Abram moved out of Ur. (October 8, 2007) Then, in a generation or two, they got "...dragged across thousands of years of change, from a culture of burqas and honor killings to a world of bikinis, Budweiser and dog food commercials." (October 21, 2010)

I don't think we live in the best of all possible worlds: but I'm about as sure as I can be that the answer isn't a violent - and futile - effort to go back to 'the good old days.' And that's another topic, for another blog.

Related posts:
In the news:
1 Background, excerpt from the news (2001):
"Giuliani rejects $10 million from Saudi prince" (October 12, 2001)

"Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Thursday the city would not accept a $10 million donation for disaster relief from Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal after the prince suggested U.S. policies in the Middle East contributed to the September 11 attacks.

" 'I entirely reject that statement,' Giuliani said. 'There is no moral equivalent for this [terrorist] act. There is no justification for it. The people who did it lost any right to ask for justification for it when they slaughtered 4,000 or 5,000 innocent people.'

"Prince Alwaleed gave the mayor a check after a Thursday morning memorial service at Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Center towers destroyed in the attacks.

"The prince offered his condolences to the people of New York, but after the ceremony he released a statement suggesting the United States 'must address some of the issues that led to such a criminal attack.'

" 'The check has not been deposited. The Twin Towers Fund has not accepted it,' Giuliani said in a statement late Thursday.

"The prince's statement said the United States 'should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stand toward the Palestinian cause....

" '...our Palestinian brethren continue to be slaughtered at the hands of Israelis while the world turns the other cheek,' the statement said.

"Giuliani flatly rejected the prince's position. 'To suggest that there's a justification for [the terrorist attacks] only invites this happening in the future,' he said. 'It is highly irresponsible and very, very dangerous.

" 'And one of the reasons I think this happened is because people were engaged in moral equivalency in not understanding the difference between liberal democracies like the United States, like Israel, and terrorist states and those who condone terrorism....' "
2 As a Christian, a Catholic, I have a "...desire to proclaim him, to "evangelize," and to lead others to the 'yes' of faith in Jesus Christ...." And a desire and need to know this faith better, myself. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 429) Which doesn't mean that I want to force you to agree with me. The Catholic Church supports religious freedom tholics must support religious freedom. (Catechism, 2104-2109) For everybody. (Catechism, 2106) If that's not what you've read, I'm not surprised: and that's another topic.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Noted: New York State Education Department: "The Military ... Doesn't Count"

This isn't, quite, about the war on terror. I think the New York State Department of Education's policy comes from an attitude that's - regrettable:
"Schools rip DOE's military disservice"
Susan Edelman, New York Post (March 4, 2012)

"City principals are up in arms over a new plan that gives bonus points this year to high schools based on graduates going to college - but doesn’t count those who join the military.

"Department of Education officials met with a group of principals last week to explain changes in Progress Reports coming out this fall. Schools that send more kids to community or baccalaureate colleges within six to 18 months will get extra credit.

"When a principal asked about points for grads who choose to enlist in the armed forces, he was shot down.

" 'The military isn't college. It doesn't count,' the group was told...."
This looks like more of the bias that's plagued American academia for decades.

In one sense, I don't blame folks who say that "the military isn't college. It doesn't count...." They may sincerely believe that the American military is drafted from the oppressed classes in America: poor, uneducated, minorities. Or that soldiers are brutish thugs who go around torturing and killing all the time.

On the other hand, folks who determine education policy for a state should, I think, know something about education - and today's America. At least those aspects of American culture that relate to education.

Bias: An Equal-Opportunity Issue

Politically-correct education bosses aren't the only sort of folks who can be biased.

I'm just as dissatisfied with 'regular Americans' who seem to regard all Muslims as 'Arabs,' and all Arabs as "Towlheads." Then there's that infamous "they're all Muslims" crack.

If there's a practical reason for penalizing schools that allow students to consider military service: maybe the New York State DOE decision makes sense. Maybe.

It's hard to imagine, though, that discouraging schools from letting students know about military service, which involves practical training and experience, isn't rooted in simple bias.

'Does it matter,' if schools are penalized for allowing students to consider getting out of the classroom before they enter the cubicle? I think it does. Among other things, a young adult who decides to enter military service instead of going straight into college will be exposed to a new culture. And a set of values that is arguably more firmly rooted in reality.

Me? I went straight from high school to college - and stayed there for years. In the '60s and '70s. I eventually figured out why academia didn't always make sense: and that's another topic.

Related posts:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

"Chinese Hackers" - - - And Keep Reading

The headline is attention-getting. Which headlines are supposed to be. So was the article's lead paragraph:
"Chinese hackers took over NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, Inspector General reveals" (March 1, 2012)

"Chinese hackers gained control over NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in November, which could have allowed them delete sensitive files, add user accounts to mission-critical systems, upload hacking tools, and more -- all at a central repository of U.S. space technology, according to a report released Wednesday afternoon by the Office of the Inspector General...."
I've posted about 'cyberwar' and how important it is to keep the wrong people from getting at anything from my credit card number, to launch codes for nuclear missiles.

Simple? Not

The headline's accurate. So is the lead paragraph.

But there's more going on than "could have allowed...." I put a slightly longer excerpt from the article at the end of this post.1

The article links to a nine-page document:
It's not particularly turgid prose. Certainly not compared with some government documents I've slogged through: If you're interested in what's going on, I suggest you read it yourself.

The report has good news, and it's got bad news.

First, the bad news: NASA, and a whole lot of other government and private outfits, could do a lot better when it comes to keeping their data secure. This is hardly 'news.'

Now, the good news: The Office of Inspector General (OIG) and other agencies around the world have started tracking down and dealing with folks who aren't nice when it comes to other people's data.

Turns out, there are a lot of folks who haven't been nice. And they don't fall into one simple category of 'bad guys.'

Conclusions, Crazy and Otherwise

There's a summary of events and actions at the end of that NASA cybersecurity report.

I might be able to take data from that report; pour in assumptions, biases, and a generous helping of paranoia: and claim that a secret cabal (that's the best kind) of Romanians, Estonians, and Texans, are plotting to take over the world by hacking into the accounting systems of Minnesota companies.

That would be - crazy talk.

I could also claim that the report proves that China's leaders are plotting to take over America's computer networks.

That would be - not so much crazy talk, as arguing ahead of facts. 'Way ahead of facts.

I'm not at all comfortable at how many hack attacks on American - and other - computer networks 'just happen' to come from servers in China. I'd like to believe that China's current leadership has gotten past the 'good old days' of Mao's cultural revolution, and want to make China a better place for the folks who live there. I'd also like to believe that everybody could just get along.

But this is the real world: and national leaders don't always have the best interests of their citizens in mind; or a sensible view of what their citizens need. And that's another topic.

Very Cautious Optimism

I insist on seeing some good news in that Cybersecurity report.

Government agencies in America and elsewhere are apparently treating crimes which are committed primarily online as - crimes.

After what look like serious investigations - not just knee-jerk accusations and assumptions - action has been taken. Correctly, if that catastrophic drop in spam was the result of two rogue Internet Service Providers getting shut down.

China's leadership may have decided to join the rest of the world, where it comes to treating online crimes as 'real' crimes. Okay - that's on the strength of just one arrest: but that's a start.

Mr. Martin's Cybersecurity Summary, Summarized

Here's what I got, after parsing out Mr. Martin's "NASA Cybersecurity..."summary:
  • February 2012
    • JPL systems hacked
    • A Romanian national was indicted in the Central District of California
      • Following convictions in Romania for related criminal activity
    • Result: losses of over $500,000 to the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) Program
  • January 2012
    • Unauthorized accesses into numerous systems belonging
      • NASA
      • The Pentagon
      • The Romanian government
      • Commercial entities
    • Romanian authorities a 20-year-old Romanian national for this intrusion
    • Result: products from a variety of NASA scientific research efforts were inaccessible to the general public for a brief period of time
      • No long-term damage to the underlying programs was reported
  • November 2011
    • JPL IT Security reported suspicious network activity involving Chinese-based IP addresses
    • NASA review disclosed that the intruders had compromised the accounts of the most privileged JPL users
      • Giving the intruders access to most of JPL's networks
    • The Office of Inspector General (OIG) continues to investigate this matter
  • November 2011
    • Following an earlier international fraud scheme
      • That compromised more than 4 million computers worldwide
        • Including 135 NASA systems
      • Over $15,000,000 in assets from the operation have been seized
        • So far
    • Indictments announced
      • By the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York
      • Six Estonians
      • One Russian national
  • February 2011
    • Hacked
      • Two NASA systems
      • A Minnesota-based company's pay and accounting system
    • A Texas man pled guilty to wire fraud in Federal court in Minnesota in connection with the crime
    • Result: more than 3,000 registered users were denied access to oceanographic data supplied by NASA for several days. Direct remediation costs in this case exceeded $66,000
  • February 2011
    • Distribution of malware that caused NASA data to be compromised
    • A British citizen was sentenced in England to 18 months' imprisonment for his role
    • Result: about 2,000 NASA e-mail users were infected with this malware as part of a worldwide computer fraud scheme
  • December 2010
    • Following the hacking of seven NASA systems
      • Many containing export-restricted technical data
    • A Chinese national was detained
      • By Chinese authorities
      • For violations of Chinese Administrative Law
    • This detention
      • Followed
        • An OIG investigation
        • Lengthy international coordination efforts
    • Significance: "This case resulted in the first confirmed detention of a Chinese national for hacking activity targeting U.S. Government agencies. Seven NASA systems, many containing export-restricted technical data, were compromised by the Chinese national."
  • March 2009
    • Following unauthorized intrusions into NASA JPL systems
      • Two computer systems used to support
        • NASA's Deep Space Network
        • Several Goddard Space Flight Center systems
    • Italian authorities
      • Raided the home of an Italian national suspected of taking part in the intrusions
      • Suspect the individual of being a member of a hacker group responsible for an Internet fraud and hacking schemes
    • Result: Good question
      • NASA officials assured us that no critical space operations were ever at risk
  • Other incidents
    • (No date given)
      • 53 NASA systems were affected by the criminal activity sponsored by McColo Inc.
        • None of the systems were mission critical
      • Twenty-one NASA systems compromised as part of criminal activity hosted by rogue ISPs
      • OIG investigations followed
        • Rogue ISPs were identified by NASA OIG and other law enforcement agencies as a major source of
          • Child pornography
          • E-mail spam
          • Stolen credit cards
          • Malicious software
        • Result:
          • Shutdown of rogue Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
            • "McColo Inc."
            • "Triple Fiber Networks,"
          • The U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California ordered McColo Inc. to pay the Federal Government a $1.08 million civil judgment
          • Worldwide reduction in spam of approximately 50 percent shortly after the ISPs were taken offline
    • 2009
      • Following theft of
        • Cisco Systems, Inc., proprietary code
        • Numerous intrusions into NASA systems
          • Including Ames Research Center's Super Computing Center
      • A Swedish citizen indicted in 2009
      • Swedish and U.S. authorities agreed to have the subject tried in Sweden
      • The subject
        • Was found guilty
        • A "formal criminal history" was filed by Swedish authorities
      • Result: several instances when the Ames Research Center's Super Computing Center was temporarily shutdown to clean up after the intrusions
        • Losses to NASA were estimated at over $5,000,000
Relate posts:
In the news:

1Excerpt from the news:
"Chinese hackers took over NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, Inspector General reveals" (March 1, 2012) "Chinese hackers gained control over NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in November, which could have allowed them delete sensitive files, add user accounts to mission-critical systems, upload hacking tools, and more -- all at a central repository of U.S. space technology, according to a report released Wednesday afternoon by the Office of the Inspector General. "That report revealed scant details of an ongoing investigation into the incident against the Pasadena, Calif., lab, noting only that cyberattacks against the JPL involved Chinese-based Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. "Paul K. Martin, NASA's inspector general, put his conclusions bluntly. " 'The attackers had full functional control over these networks,' he wrote.... "...Beyond a wealth of exploration programs, such as the recent GRAIL mission to study the moon and the upcoming Mars Science Laboratory, JPL manages the Deep Space Network, a network of antenna complex. "Martin released written testimony about the attacks in the report 'NASA Cybersecurity: An Examination of the Agency;s Information Security,' presented to the House Science, Space and Technology Committee investigations panel on Wednesday. It details a host of security lapses and breaches of protocol at the space agency...."

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.