Sunday, May 14, 2017

N Korea Fires Missile That Lands In Sea Near Russia, Asia Braces For Ransomware Fallout, Damascus District Evacuates

North Korea fires missile that lands in sea near Russia

 North Korea, defying calls to rein in its weapons program, fired a ballistic missile that landed in the sea near Russia on Sunday, days after a new leader came to power in South Korea pledging to engage Pyongyang in dialogue.
The U.S. military's Pacific Command said it was assessing the type of missile that was fired but it was "not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile". The U.S. threat assessment has not changed from a national security standpoint, a U.S. official said.
Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said the missile could be a new type. It flew for 30 minutes before dropping into the sea between North Korea's east coast and Japan. North Korea has consistently test-fired missiles in that direction.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the missile landed 97 km (60 miles) south of Russia's Vladivostok region.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called the launch a message by Pyongyang to South Korea after the election of President Moon Jae-in, who took office on Wednesday.
"You first have to get into Kim Jong Un's head - which is, he's in a state of paranoia, he's incredibly concerned about anything and everything around him," Haley told ABC's "This Week" program, referring to North Korea's leader.
Haley added that the United States will "continue to tighten the screws," referring to sanctions and working with the international community to put pressure on Pyongyang.
The White House mentioned Russia in its earlier statement about the launch. "With the missile impacting so close to Russian soil – in fact, closer to Russia than to Japan – the President cannot imagine that Russia is pleased," the White House said, referring to U.S. President Donald Trump.
The launch served as a call for all nations to implement stronger sanctions against North Korea, it added.
The missile flew 700 km (430 miles) and reached an altitude of more than 2,000 km (1,245 miles), according to officials in South Korea and Japan, further and higher than an intermediate-range missile North Korea successfully tested in February from the same region of Kusong, northwest of its capital, Pyongyang.
An intercontinental ballistic missile is considered to have a range of more than 6,000 km (3,700 miles).
North Korea is widely believed to be developing an intercontinental missile tipped with a nuclear weapon that is capable of reaching the United States. Trump has vowed not to let that happen.

Kim Dong-yub of Kyungnam University's Institute of Far Eastern Studies in Seoul said he estimated a standard trajectory would give it a range of 6,000 km (3,700 miles).

After North Korea provoked both its neighbors and the US when on Sunday morning it fired off yet another ballistic missile from Kusong near the border with China  - one which this time did not explode upon launch  - just days after the election of a new South Korean president who ironically advocates more engagement with Pyongyang, experts said the missile appeared to be a new type of ballistic missile, and had a far greater range than any other weapon North Korea has successfully launched.

According to Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, the missile rose to a height of about 2,000 kilometers, a much steeper trajectory than usual for a North Korean missile test. She also confirmed that officials were looking into the possibility that it was a "new type of ballistic missile." Japan's cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said the missile traveled for about 30 minutes and landed 700 kilometers east of the launch site. A spokesman for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff estimated the distance at 435 miles.
Cited by the WSJ, independent experts said the missile, if fired at a conventional angle, could have flown 2,800 miles—far enough to reach the U.S. military base in Guam.

That is a “considerably longer range than its current missiles,” said David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, in an analysis of the launch.

Having unleashed hell on over 100 nations and over 225,000 users worldwide on Friday, cybersecurity experts in Asia are bracing for the WannaCrypt ransomware plague to strike as the workweek begins.

As The South China Morning Post reports, thousands of computers across Asia were said to be affected with more reports expected when people return to work after the weekend, security experts said. Attley Ng, senior vice president of NSFOCUS Asia Pacific, a network security solutions company, said:

"China was hit very hard. The attack was very widespread, especially in the higher learning and education sector, resulting in an almost complete paralysis of systems there.

“What makes this event so significant is the use of a vulnerability that allows the ransomware to spread rapidly within an [unprotected] organisation.
The Hong Kong Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Centre (HKCERT), which responds to cybersecurity events, said one home-based user had come forward, becoming the only victim in the city so far.

Michael Gazeley, managing director of local cybersecurity service provider Network Box, said he received calls from major companies throughout Saturday seeking help.

“Hong Kong will get absolutely hammered by this attack. This attack is global and it’s only going to get worse as the virus is evolving,” he warned.

“This is happening just before a weekend in Asia. By Monday, someone will go back to work, click a link on an email, and wipe out the company.”

HKCERT backed up the assertion that the threat could still attack companies as people return to work this week.

The Office of the Government Chief Information Officer said it had not received any report from government-related security breaches. It added that it has stepped up surveillance on security threats, while reminding all departments to take measures to safeguard against ransomware.
Of course - a massive global cyberattack is just the excuse that elites need to 1) enforce more centralized control over the internet, and 2) explain away any Q2 weakness in global growth as merely 'transitory'.

More than 1,500 rebels and their family members left the devastated district of Qaboun on the edge of the Syrian capital Damascus after more than two months of aerial strikes and artillery shelling, rebels and state media said on Sunday.

The rebels had agreed overnight to a secret evacuation deal after being cornered in a small pocket of Qaboun, which lies on the northeastern edge of Damascus. The area has been largely reduced to rubble after being struck by hundreds of aerial strikes and missiles over a period of about 80 days.

The Syrian army had resumed its intensive bombardment of the district on Wednesday after a one-day ultimatum it gave the rebels mainly drawn from the area to surrender and agree to evacuate to rebel-held areas in northern Syria.

"The regime has threatened to destroy what is left of Qaboun and will not accept anything but a military solution," Abdullah al Qabouni from the local council of the district told Reuters.

Hundreds of rebels and their families were evacuated this week from the adjacent Barzeh district after rebels there decided to lay down their arms and leave to rebel-held Idlib province.

Syrian state media said evacuations had almost been completed and the district was now securely in army hands.

Most of the residents of the once-bustling area, which had sheltered thousands of displaced people from other parts of Syria in the course of the conflict, fled in the last two months as the bombing escalated.

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