The Obama Administration says the U.S. will continue to strengthen its defenses and discuss cyber theft with top Chinese officials following a security report that blamed China’s military for recent cyber-attacks on key industries.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … THE VERY LONG RUN.
** QUICK HITS. Yesterday’s hyped story about President Barack Obama’s refusal to provide White House press corps access to his private golf game is now acknowledged by some of its hypers as a disaster. Who could ever have guessed that? … See if your eyesight is good enough to even see cyber-attacks in the increasingly notorious word cloud of last month’s U.S. Senate Armed Services confirmation hearing on Defense Secretary-designate Chuck Hagel. Hint: Even Clark Kent wouldn’t find it.
** NEW SURVEY: DEVELOPMENT OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS BY NORTH KOREA OR IRAN SEEN BY HUGE MAJORITY AS A “CRITICAL THREAT,” SEE ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM AND CHINA’S RISE AS EQUIVALENTLY THREATENING. A new Gallup Poll survey indicates that alarm about North Korean’s and Iran’s nuclear programs is very significant.
Intriguingly, given the the preponderance of Israel/Iran questions at the recent Senate Armed Services confirmation hearing for Chuck Hagel, roughly the same number of people — just over half for each — think that Islamic fundamentalists and the rise of China are threatening.
And concern about potential conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is declining.
Oddly, Gallup didn’t ask about options for dealing with any of these these threats.
Eighty-three percent of Americans say the development of nuclear weapons by North Korea is a critical threat to the vital interests of the United States, placing it at the top of a list of nine potential threats, along with Iranian nuclear weapons and international terrorism. …
After North Korean and Iranian nuclear weapons and international terrorism, Americans are most likely to view Islamic fundamentalism and China’s economic and military power as critical threats to U.S. vital interests. Less than half believe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Indian-Pakistani conflict, and the military power of Russia pose similar threats to the United States. …
Americans’ perceptions of the threat some of these international matters pose to the United States have shifted in recent years. Specifically, since 2004, Americans have increasingly viewed the military power of China and the military power of Russia as threats. Over the same period, Americans have come to view the Israeli-Palestinian and Indian-Pakistani conflicts as less threatening to the United States. …
A top secret branch of China’s military is being accused of being behind cyber attacks on companies all over the world. An American computer security firm says the group of hackers, also known as Unit 61398, has been operating over the past seven years to steal information. The Chinese government, however, denied their involvement in the global hacking operation reportedly based in Shanghai.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama returned late yesterday from Florida, where he spent the Presidents Day weekend.
He received the intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He then delivered remarks in an event at the South Court Auditorium to urge action to avoid the automatic budget cuts scheduled to hit next Friday if Congress fails to find a path forward on balanced deficit reduction.
A new report, published in the New York Times, the Guardian, and other newspapers around the world, identifies a unit of China’s People’s Liberation Army, operating out of Shanghai, as being behind cyber-attacks around the world.
That includes the hacking and ransacking of the New York Times which occurred when the paper was preparing a story on how the family of the PRC’s premiere, Wen Jiabao, amassed billions of dollars.
General John Allen, the just returned Afghan War commander with whom I served in the rather distant past, has, I’m told, decided to retire rather than pursue the command of NATO.
Obama had appointed him to the post, one of the most prestigious in the world, but that was before Allen found himself caught up in the goofy David Petraeus sex scandal triggered by Petraeus’s biographer/girlfriend sending hostile anonymous e-mails to CentComm socialist Jill Kelley. Who idiotically reacted by prompting an FBI investigation, which in turn revealed her trove of e-mails to Allen in Kabul.
Allen was cleared of wrongdoing by the Pentagon and by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who is something of a fan. But his Senate confirmation hearing would still have been embarrassing, not something that anyone needs. So he will retire and spend time with his family, as the saying goes.
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving Mali and Algeria, the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Syria, Iraq, AfPak, and the South China Sea.
Military Crisis Zone Times: Mali is eight hours ahead of Pacific time, the Persian/Arabian Gulf is ten hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is eleven and a half hours ahead of Pacific time. The time in Manila, on the South China Sea, is fifteen hours ahead of Pacific time.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Pretty slow time in California politics, but Brown is, among many other things, prepping a spring trip to China, so he is undoubtedly interested in the big story today about China’s reported central role in hacking and cyber-attacks around the world.
Brown welcomed incoming Chinese leader Xi Jinping to California last year, and will lead a delegation of business and governmental leaders to the Middle Kingdom. He was acquainted with Xi’s father, Xi Zhongxun, one of the original Communist revolutionary leaders in China.
President Barack Obama warned this morning that if Congress does not prevent forced spending cuts slated to go into effect at the end of the month, people will lose their jobs. Congress is on its latest vacation, a week-a-half for Presidents Day, which was yesterday.
** THE ANTI-HAGEL GAMBITS: CLEVER, BUT NOT REALLY THAT CLEVER. … From my February 15th essay.
** WITH LITTLE POLITICAL OR POLICY IMPACT AND DUMBED DOWN LANGUAGE, DOES THE STATE OF THE UNION EVEN MATTER? … From my February 12th column.
** JERRY BROWN FINDS FUN (IN NEW FOIL RICK PERRY) AND MORE THAN A BIT OF ILLUMINATION. … From my February 7th column.
** COME HAGEL OR HIGH WATER: IN THE SHADE OF IRAQ. … From my February 1st essay.
** THE STATE OF JERRY BROWN’S STATUS: AFTER THE STATE OF THE STATE. … From my January 30th essay.
** OBAMA’S CLEAR YET MUTED TRUMPET: HOPE’S AUDACITY MEETS LOWERED EXPECTATIONS. … From my January 23rd essay.
** HOW NOT TO STAGE MANAGE THE WORLD. … From my January 18th column.
** FROM GOVERNATOR TO MOONBEAM. … From my January 3rd, 2011 feature.
** OBAMA: RIDING WITH HISTORY. (NOTE: As Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States, this column was the featured column on the top of the front page of the Huffington Post.) … From my January 19th, 2009 Huffington Post column.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in major military operations in the region, and the Arab awakening underway, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer. The NWN live link to AJ does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer from the Russia Today channel. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the state-run channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Having crashed over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, 2008, crude oil is trading around $96 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $62 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity, and down about $18 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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