World View: China Suspected in New York Times Hacking

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com:
  • China's smog becomes deadly, but use of coal increases
  • Chinese attackers considered likely in NY Times hacking
  • Israel threatened with International Criminal Court over settlements
  • France declares 'Mission Accomplished!' in Mali

China's smog becomes deadly, but use of coal increases

China's consumption of coal has tripled in the last decade. Currently, China burns as much coal as the rest of the world combined, and the amount is still surging. Beijing and other Chinese provinces are paying a heavy price right now, because the smog is causing respiratory problems, and thousands of premature deaths according to one study. There's little chance of any cutbacks, as coal accounts for two-thirds of China's energy supply. Millions of cars also add to the pollution. The air quality index is so high that the Beijing Meteorological Bureau is advising children and the elderly not to leave home. To make matters worse, the smog is reducing visibility on the icy roads. There have been at least 2,000 reports of traffic accidents, and at least two people have died. BBC and Xinhua

Chinese attackers considered likely in NY Times hacking

Attackers have been hacking into computer systems at the NY Times for the last four months, stealing the corporate passwords for every employee and compromising the home PCs of multiple reporters. It's believed that the attackers gained initial entry by using "spear phishing" attack on some of the reporters. That is, the attackers gathered personal information about the reporters from multiple sources, including Facebook, and used that information to create a credible, personal e-mail message with a link that the reporter would click on, resulting in malware being installed on his computer. Once the malware was installed, the attackers could gather additional information to escalate the attack. Some 45 people's computers were infected with custom-designed malware, indicating a large, sophisticated attack. China's government is the suspected perpetrator, but that hasn't been proven. The NY Times' computers were supposedly protected by Symantec's Norton Antivirus, and is now suffering a major black eye as a result of the incident. Information Week and Forbes

Israel threatened with International Criminal Court over settlements

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) is demanding that Israel permanently end its settlement building in the West Bank, and that Israel immediately begin a process of withdrawing from the West Bank and east Jerusalem. According to the draft report, prepared by 3 members of the UNHCR: 

The establishment of the settlements in the West Bank including east Jerusalem is a mesh of construction and infrastructure leading to a creeping annexation that prevents the establishment of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state and undermines the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

The report stopped short of advocating that the issue be brought to the International Criminal Court (ICC), but says that the ICC has jurisdiction. In particular, the State of Palestine may go to the ICC, with a result that "may lead to accountability for gross violations of human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law and justice for victims. Israel has rejected the report as "biased," pointing out that there's no mention of the experience with Gaza. In 2005, Israel withdrew all its settlements and military from Gaza, but the result has been something that no one expected: Hamas took control of Gaza in 2008, and has been using Gaza as a base for terror and rocket attacks on Israel. The Israelis fear that the same thing could happen in the West Bank. Jerusalem Post

France declares 'Mission Accomplished!' in Mali

France's Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said France's air attacks had hit the Mali rebels hard: 

The jihadists suffered heavy losses. There were numerous strikes which hit their equipment and men. 

The French intervention has succeeded. [Rebel fighters are] returning home, or trying to cross the borders, which will be more and more difficult... or they are making a tactical retreat.

Le Drian said that France's warplanes were striking Kidal, the last militant stronghold in northern Mali, and ground troops were gathering to enter the city. France now has 3,500 troops on the ground. AFP

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