Monday, July 3, 2017

Back to Work

I generally work from 8 a.m. until about noon (wow, talk about looking in a mirror), and nothing is going to stop me (glitches or not) from getting back on the log after a day of rest:

"The British slogan “Keep calm and carry on” proved popular and fair-goers of all ages filled the center, but this day was for the children...."

The “kids need something normal, just a chance to relax and have fun.”

"Last year, a devastating truck bombing on a bustling commercial street in downtown Baghdad killed nearly 300 people."

This year:

"Airstrikes propel gains in Mosul, despite toll on civilians" by Susannah George Associated Press  July 02, 2017

MOSUL, Iraq — Iraqi forces say their recent territorial gains against the Islamic State in Mosul’s Old City have largely been propelled by airstrikes, despite reports of civilian casualties and warnings from human rights groups of the dangers of using large munitions in the dense, highly-populated area.

No real outrage out there, either. Endless war and destruction has become normal, if it is even noticed over here at all.

As strikes pummeled the Old City Sunday, hundreds of civilians fled. Many were badly injured and had to be carried out over mounds of rubble by family members. Deeper inside the district, narrow alleyways were littered with bodies.

Special forces Lieutenant Colonel Muhanad al-Timimi said that during the past three days his forces have carried out about 20 airstrikes a day on Islamic State-held territory within the area of operation — a portion of the Old City measuring about one-half square mile.

Just looking around here for reference, and what its that, one for every block? The airstrike may also contain more than one missile, in fact, usually does. No wonder it is all rubble. This isn't about liberation or about terrorists; this is about destroying a civilization and a culture.

‘‘It’s because we have a lot of enemy forces here,’’ he said, conceding the number of munitions used was relatively high.

Half buried in a mound of rubble beside a strike crater, limbs protruded, darkened by dust and rotting in the summer heat.

Don't worry, they were ‘‘two Daesh fighters.’’ 

I don't even like the U.S.-created, funded, and directed mercenaries but they are/were still human beings.

When the small unit rounded another narrow street the men silently stepped over the body of an elderly man lying in a pool of fresh blood.

A warning cracked over the radio that an airstrike was called in on a position just 50 meters away and the men ducked into a cleared home. When they emerged two more bodies, in civilian clothes and without weapons, lay in the next street.

Throughout the fight against the Islamic State, the US-led coalition has largely relied on airstrikes to enable Iraqi ground forces to advance. But in previous battles, civilians were evacuated from front lines. In Mosul, the Iraqi government told the city’s estimated 1 million people to stay put to avoid massive displacement.

And so you could be slaughtered as collateral damage, oops. 

Meanwhile, there terrorists got outta town.

Iraqi forces have repeatedly requested airstrikes in Mosul, often to kill teams of just two or three Islamic State fighters armed with light weapons.

Manhal Munir was sheltering in the basement of his home with his extended family when Islamic State fighters took a position on his roof. They were targeted by an airstrike Sunday morning. The house collapsed.

‘‘I just pulled my youngest daughter out with me,’’ Munir said at a nearby medic station, the toddler on his lap. ‘‘My mother was stuck between two large blocks of cement. We tried to free her,’’ he said, still covered in dust and his eyes red with grief. ‘‘After two hours she died.’’

Yeah, I.... I.... (blog editor just shakes his head. What good would an apology from these quarters do? F***!)

In the weeks leading up to the operation to retake the Old City the United Nations and human rights groups warned the Iraqi government against the use of explosive weapons with wide effects in the Old City area, where houses are tightly packed and the civilian population is dense.

‘‘In the crowded Old City, using explosive weapons with wide area effects puts civilians at excessive risk,’’ Lama Fakih of Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

The coalition did not immediately respond to a question about what munitions are being used.

‘‘The coalition always seeks to use weapons that are proportional to the target to minimize collateral damage,’’ the US-led coalition said in a written statement.

‘‘Nearly all munitions released have been precision-guided to ensure we achieve the desired effects,’’ the statement continued. ‘‘The avoidance of civilian casualties is our highest priority.’’

That's why they use white phosphorous and depleted uranium in Iraq and Syria. For our protection, of course.

In a report Friday, Airwars, a group that monitors civilian casualties from airstrikes, said it ‘‘presently estimates that between 900 and 1,200 civilians were likely killed by coalition air and artillery strikes over the course of the eight-month [Mosul] campaign.’’

Probably more.

The group said the territorial gains in Mosul come at a ‘‘terrible cost.’’

The UN estimates that tens of thousands of civilians are still trapped inside the Old City.

Iraqi forces launched the operation to retake the Old City — the Islamic State’s last stand in Iraq’s second-largest city — in mid-June after eight months of grueling battles across Mosul’s eastern half and around the city’s western edge.

Iraq’s prime minister declared an end to the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate in late June and pledged victory was ‘‘near’’ after Iraqi forces retook the landmark al-Nuri mosque in the Old City.

Which is also in rubble.

Iraq’s federal police declared a partial victory Sunday, announcing they had completed ‘‘the liberation of our sector,’’ according to spokesman Captain Bassam Khadim.

Iraq’s special forces are now just 450 yards from the Tigris River that roughly divides Mosul in half, according to Major General Sami al-Aridi.

Print paper couldn't get across, I guess.

‘‘For us, the airstrikes are better than artillery because they allow us to target the enemy accurately,’’ said special forces Brigadier General Haider Fadhil. ‘‘They help us minimize civilian casualties and casualties among our own forces.’’ 


American troops are taking on an increasingly prominent role in the fight for Mosul.

Once largely restricted to working within highly fortified Iraqi bases, US commanders now travel in and around Mosul with small teams of soldiers, sharing intelligence and advising plans of attack, revealing how the US role in Iraq has steadily deepened throughout the operation to retake the city.

Methinks we are there forever, or until the plan for Empire implodes.

The US-led coalition’s fight against the Islamic State in Iraq has slowly expanded during the past three years from a campaign of airstrikes carried out by coalition forces who largely stayed within heavily fortified bases to an operation with some 6,000 American troops on the ground, many operating close to frontline fighting.

And you never even knew there was a U.S. ground war going on, did you?


Hail, victory!

A medic injects an IV into the hand of an Iraqi girl who fled the fighting in the Old City of Mosul as she lies in a clinic in the city's western...
A medic injects an IV into the hand of an Iraqi girl who fled the fighting in the Old City of Mosul, as she lies in a clinic in the city's western industrial district on July 2, 2017 (Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images).

That was the photo in my printed paper, and here is another image I found during the search.

"21 killed as Damascus rocked by suicide blast" by Albert Aji Associated Press  July 02, 2017

DAMASCUS — Security forces chased three explosive-laden vehicles through Damascus Sunday, intercepting two of them at checkpoints but failing to stop the third before it exploded in the city center, killing at least 21 people.

The rare attack in the heart of Syria’s capital unfolded ahead of the morning commute on the first work day after a major Muslim holiday.

The Interior Ministry said security forces tracked all three cars and intercepted two of them at checkpoints on the airport road. The third made it into the city center, where the driver blew himself up near Tahreer Square.

Such attacks have been relatively rare in Damascus, the seat of power for President Bashar Assad, who made a series of public appearances last week in a show of increased confidence after more than six years of battling a rebellion.

Progovernment forces have engaged in heavy fighting in Damascus’ suburbs during the war, but have largely kept the rebels out of the city center. In recent days, Syrian troops and allied forces have been fighting to drive the rebels out of Ain Terma and Jobar, adjacent areas on the city’s eastern outskirts that have been under rebel control since 2011.

The rebels said government forces attacked them with chlorine gas overnight, and the Observatory said 12 fighters were treated for suffocation. The Syrian military denied the claims, and there was no way to independently verify them.


Even the pre$$ quickly dropped it.

Here is some BREAKING NEWS.....

The attacks come days before Russian-sponsored talks are to resume in the Kazakh capital, Astana, where the two sides agreed to a cease-fire earlier this year that has been repeatedly violated. 

It's like a rote response. Anyone talks peace, U.S.-backed terrorists attack.

The new round of talks is expected to delineate ‘‘de-escalation zones.’’ Russian officials said the talks are also to discuss the formation of a Syrian national reconciliation committee.

In a separate development Sunday, a fire broke out in a Syrian refugee settlement in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, killing at least one person and sending large plumes of black smoke into the sky, the state news agency and the Red Cross said.

Ahmed Salloum, a member of the local emergency services, said the fire turned the tent camp near Qab Elias town into ‘‘ashes.’’

He said firefighters and emergency workers struggled for over two hours to contain the fire that broke out around midday. Temperatures are soaring in Lebanon’s Bekaa region, and Salloum, an electricity technician, said he suspected an overload of power was to blame.

‘‘The settlement has turned to ashes. Even the iron melted,’’ Salloum said.

And yet Grenfell(?) is still standing.

Can I go home now?

Only the bathrooms at the edge of the settlement were left standing. The explosion of gas canisters could be heard from a distance.

George Ketteneh of Lebanon’s Red Cross said initial reports indicate that over 100 tents burned down and one person died.

Ketteneh said about 97 families, or an estimated 700 persons, live in the informal settlement. He said at least six were wounded.

Lebanon is home to over 1 million registered Syrian refugees, who reside largely in settlements in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, near the border.

The fire came two days after Lebanese authorities rounded up nearly 400 Syrian refugees following an attack on military troops conducting raids in refugee camps in another town near the border with Syria.

So what are they trying to say, the Lebanese government sabotaged the camp?


Also see:

"In 1988, the USS Vincennes mistakenly shot down an Iran Air jetliner over the Persian Gulf, killing all 290 people aboard."

That's the war game gone awry that H.W. Bush said he would never apologize for the United States of AmeriKa, no matter what the facts are.

Sorry if that spoils the 4th for you.


Aid helicopter crash kills 8 after Indonesian volcano erupts

In Obama's wake; talk about cosmic karma. The earth is revolted at his (carbon) footprints.

Launch fails for Chinese heavy-lift carrier rocket Several launches of the Long March-5 were scheduled in preparation for China’s lunar probe, manned space station, and Mars probe missions, according to Xinhua. Sunday’s launch was to be the last drill.

Can't help but wonder if the U.S. sabotage it like they claim to have regarding some North Korean launches.


"French president vows support in Africa antiextremist fight" Associated Press  July 02, 2017

BAMAKO, Mali — France’s president on Sunday promised strong support for a new multinational military force against extremists in Africa’s vast Sahel region, saying the ‘‘terrorists, thugs, and assassins’’ need to be eradicated.

Well, I'm sure that will go over well with the French people who are seeing their social safety net shredded at the same time.

President Emmanuel Macron, meeting in Mali with leaders from the five regional countries involved, said France will provide military support for operations as well as 70 tactical vehicles and communications, operations, and protective equipment.

The 5,000-strong force will be deployed by September, and its funding will be finalized by then, Macron said at a press conference.

The leaders of Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Chad — known as the G5 — must clarify their roles and contributions for the force to attract more support from outside countries, the French president added.

‘‘We cannot hide behind words, and must take actions,’’ he said.

The new antiterror force will operate in the region along with a 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission in Mali and France’s own 5,000-strong Barkhane military operation, its largest overseas mission.


That's the French sphere of influence, 'er, patrol.

Also seeTurkish police chase away transgender marchers in Istanbul

I'm liking Turkey now.


"Brazil captures drug lord who used surgery to hide" Associated Press  July 02, 2017

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian police said Sunday that they have captured a major drug lord known as ‘‘White Head’’ who used plastic surgeries to help him evade authorities for nearly three decades.

Luiz Carlos da Rocha was arrested Saturday in the state of Mato Grosso, authorities said. He has been sentenced by Brazilian courts to more than 50 years in prison for international drug trafficking and money laundering.

Police said Rocha’s cartel produced cocaine in Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia and exported it to Europe and the United States via Brazil and Paraguay. In Brazil alone, police estimate Rocha brought in 5 tons of cocaine per month.

Police also seized about $10 million worth of the drug lord’s assets, including planes, properties, and luxury cars.

A 76-year-old woman and her daughter were killed Friday during a shootout between police and drug traffickers in a Rio de Janeiro slum.


What about Temer?


"Sudanese doctors urge measures against cholera outbreak" Associated Press  July 03, 2017

CAIRO — Sudanese doctors and aid workers urged the government to declare a state of emergency over a cholera outbreak and delay the start of the school year, which began on Sunday, although authorities say the situation is under control.

Been about a month since they dumped Sudan on us.

The disease, which is passed through contaminated water, has surfaced across the country, including in the capital, Khartoum, prompting the US Embassy last month to issue a warning and note that fatalities had been confirmed. Egypt has begun screening passengers from Sudan at Cairo’s international airport.

Some 22,000 cases of acute watery diarrhea have led to at least 700 fatalities since May 20, said Hossam al-Amin al-Badawi, of the independent Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors. He added that the condition is most likely cholera, but the government refuses to officially release test results for it.

Sudanese doctors say the cholera, a bacterial infection linked to contaminated food or water, is progressing. They are urging the government to seek international aid, a step linked to declaring a state of emergency. If left untreated, it can cause death from dehydration.

Sudan’s official news agency SUNA meanwhile announced the opening of the school year, saying that authorities had the outbreak of ‘‘acute watery diarrhea’’ under control.

That's all that was on my print plate.

‘‘It risks becoming an epidemic, especially in rural areas,’’ said Alfatih Masoud, of the non-official Sudanese Doctors Union. ‘‘Our ministry insists on referring to it as diarrhea for political reasons, and opening schools today is dangerous because they are possible places of rapid transmission.’’ Photos of affected areas online show patients crowded into makeshift tents for treatment.

Masoud said that watery diarrhea is a symptom, not a diagnosis, and that the level of immediacy required for rehydration of patients in the current cases pointed to cholera as the diagnosis.

Meanwhile, activists reported on social media that nine opposition party members were detained in the city of Omdurman late last month for organizing workshops on cholera prevention — partly for using the name, which the government sees as a provocation. Authorities, who have previously acknowledged some 350 deaths, say that infections are decreasing. 

The semantics is all about the U.N. being allowed in, isn't it?

‘‘Health Minister Bahr Idriss Abu Garda announced a significant decline in cases of watery diarrhea in all states of Sudan, especially White Nile State thanks to the interventions carried out by his ministry,’’ the Health Ministry said in its most recent statement on its website, dated June 13.

Activists and the opposition say President Omar al-Bashir’s government refuses to acknowledge the cholera outbreak because it would reveal failures in the country’s crumbling health system, where corruption is rife.

‘‘The government silence and inability to confront the epidemic, preferring to achieve political victories, is at the expense of the health and life of citizens,’’ the opposition Sudanese Congress Party said. The group is urging all political parties and civil society groups to press for the state of emergency so that Sudan can invite foreign assistance. 

Wanna wrestle?

Neighboring South Sudan is grappling with ‘‘the longest, most widespread and most deadly cholera outbreak’’ since it won independence from Sudan in 2011, according to the United Nations.

Since the outbreak began a year ago, more than 11,000 cases have been reported, including at least 190 deaths, according to the World Health Organization and South Sudan’s government.

The arrival of refugees from there poses a contagion risk, the WHO said, because their host areas are overcrowded and lack adequate sanitation.

‘‘The arrival of refugees from cholera-affected areas in South Sudan increases the threat of importation of the disease into Sudan, placing both refugees and host communities at risk,’’ it said in an e-mailed response to the Associated Press.

The group, which has been working in Sudan’s affected areas and helping the government vaccinate against cholera, says the response to cholera and acute watery diarrhea is not that different.



"Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert released from prison" by Ian Deitch Associated Press  July 02, 2017

JERUSALEM — Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert left prison early Sunday days after a parole board granted him early release from his 27-month corruption sentence.

Prison Service spokesman Assaf Librati said Olmert, 71, was whisked away by security and driven home after serving 16 months. Olmert appeared gaunt and pale as he left the facility.

Librati said the terms of Olmert’s early release stipulate that for the next few months he must do volunteer work, appear before police twice a month, and not give interviews to the media or leave the country. Olmert will reportedly volunteer at a food bank and for a group that provides medical aid to needy families. However, President Reuven Rivlin could relieve him of the parole restrictions.

‘‘We are very happy, a great burden has been lifted and a great sorrow and pain has ended,’’ Eti Livni, a friend of Olmert, told Army Radio.

Olmert was convicted in 2014 in a wide-ranging case that accused him of accepting bribes to promote a real-estate project in Jerusalem and obstructing justice. The charges pertained to a period when he was mayor of Jerusalem and trade minister before he became premier in 2006.

His departure from office in 2009 ended the last major Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and ushered in the era of Benjamin Netanyahu.


Olmert was a longtime fixture in Israel’s hawkish right wing when he began taking a dramatically more conciliatory line toward the Palestinians more than a decade ago. He played a leading role in Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and became prime minister in January 2006 after then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a debilitating stroke. He resigned amid a corruption scandal that clouded his administration.

A gifted orator, Olmert broke a series of taboos while in office — warning that Israel could become like apartheid South Africa if it continued its occupation of the Palestinians and expressing readiness to relinquish parts of Jerusalem under a peace deal.

He led his government to the Annapolis peace conference in November 2007 — launching more than a year of ambitious, but ultimately unsuccessful US-brokered talks.

Olmert has said he made unprecedented concessions to the Palestinians — including a near-total withdrawal from the West Bank and an offer to place Jerusalem’s Old City under international control — and was close to reaching an agreement at the time of his resignation.

I guess some people will not allow a deal and have to have it all.

Olmert was rushed to hospital with chest pains last month, but doctors ruled out a heart attack. A few days before that, Israel’s Justice Ministry asked the police to investigate whether Olmert committed a ‘‘criminal offense’’ while behind bars.


It said a book Olmert is writing touches on ‘‘sensitive security issues’’ and that his lawyer was caught leaving the prison with a chapter on ‘‘secret operations’’ not approved by the censor for publication. Police searched the publishing house of the Yediot Ahronot newspaper, but not the paper itself, over the incident.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked welcomed Olmert’s release, telling Army Radio he deserved to have his sentence reduced and that ‘‘all in all his behavior in prison was very good.’’

A few hours after his release, a somber-looking Olmert was seen walking around a shopping mall in Tel Aviv. A public relations company representing the mall released photos of the former premier in a clothing store. It said people had greeted him and wished him well.

Brings a tear to your eye, doesn't it?



"On July 3, 1976, Israel launched its daring mission to rescue 106 passengers and Air France crew members being held at Entebbe Airport in Uganda by pro-Palestinian hijackers; the commandos succeeded in rescuing all but four of the hostages."

Turns out Entebbe was a staged and scripted event to further demonize Palestinians and make Israel look butch

See what happens when you stand against them?

Of course, where would appeasement get you?


"Hackers find ‘ideal testing ground’ for attacks: developing countries" by Sheera Frenkel New York Times  July 02, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO — The attack had the hallmarks of something researchers had dreaded for years: malicious software using artificial intelligence that could lead to a new digital arms race in which AI-driven defenses battled AI-driven offenses while humans watched from the sidelines.

I'm not $ure everyone dreads it.

But what was not as widely predicted was that one of the earliest instances of that sort of malware was found in India, not in a sophisticated British banking system or a government network in the United States.

Security researchers are increasingly looking in countries outside the West to discover the newest, most creative, and potentially most dangerous types of cyberattacks being deployed.

As developing economies rush to go online, they provide a fertile testing ground for hackers trying their skills in an environment where they can evade detection before deploying them against a company or state that has more advanced defenses.

The cyberattack in India used malware that could learn as it was spreading, and altered its methods to stay in the system for as long as possible. Those were “early indicators” of AI, according to the cybersecurity company Darktrace. Essentially, the malware could figure out its surroundings and mimic the behavior of the system’s users, though Darktrace said the firm had found the program before it could do any damage.

“India is a place where newer AI attacks might be seen for the first time, simply because it is an ideal testing ground for those sorts of attacks,” said Nicole Eagan, chief executive of Darktrace.

At times, these attacks are simply targeting more susceptible victims. While companies in the United States will often employ half a dozen security firms’ products as defensive measures, a similar company elsewhere may have just one line of defense — if any.

Maybe they should give Mike Flynn a call.

In the case of attacks carried out by a nation-state, companies in the United States can hope to receive a warning or assistance from the federal government, while companies elsewhere will often be left to fend for themselves.

Cybersecurity experts now speculate that a February 2016 attack on the central bank of Bangladesh, believed to have been carried out by hackers linked to North Korea, was a precursor to similar attacks on banks in Vietnam and Ecuador. 

I'm full up on crap, sorry.

That hackers managed to steal $81 million from the Bangladesh Bank generated headlines because of the size of the heist, but what interested cybersecurity experts was that attackers had taken advantage of a previously unexplored weakness in the bank’s computers by undermining its accounts on Swift, the international money transfer system that banks use to move billions of dollars among themselves each day. 

Why didn't they take more, and Wall Street rips that off every day!

It was an unprecedented form of cyberattack. But since then, the cybersecurity firm Symantec has found the method used against banks in 31 countries.

The malware discovered by Darktrace researchers stopped short of being a full-fledged AI-driven piece of software. It did, however, learn while it was in the system, trying to copy the actions of the network in order to blend in.

“What was concerning was that this attack, once it got into the network, used AI techniques, like trying to learn the behaviors of employees on the network, to remain undetected for as long as possible,” Eagan said. She said she saw a future in which countries raced against one another to hire people skilled in developing complex algorithms that could be used to run such malware.

WTF is going on with the traffic lights?

Eagan’s company, which has headquarters in Cambridge, England, and San Francisco, has increasingly found hacking incidents in India since it expanded there.

As other cybersecurity companies enter Southeast Asia, Africa, and other parts of the world where they have not had much presence, they will continue to discover new types of malware being tested in those markets, said Allan Liska, a senior threat intelligence analyst at Recorded Future, a cybersecurity firm based in Somerville, Mass.

“For several years, Taiwan and South Korea have been proven testing grounds for some of the more advanced groups in China,” Liska said. “Those countries have high-speed Internet, widespread Internet penetration, and not a lot of security infrastructure in place.”


They create a Stuxnet, too?

He added: “We see a pattern among the attackers. They test something, make improvements, and then six weeks later test again before launching it at their true targets.”

As Internet use has expanded in Africa, Liska said, his company has noticed an increase in spear-phishing attacks in which hackers appear to be testing their skills in English- and French-speaking African countries. Spear phishing employs messages that appear innocuous but contain dangerous malware. They are one of the most popular forms of cyberattacks, though they largely depend on the attackers’ ability to hone a message that can fool a victim into opening a link or attachment.

He said that in the spear-phishing tests his company had found, attackers appeared to be testing their language, but did not include the actual malware in the link, what he described as the payload.

“They save that payload for when they are going to actually launch their attack in whatever French- or English-speaking country they are after,” Liska said.

Countries across Southeast Asia and the Middle East that have come online over the past decade have been tempting targets for hackers, said Chris Rock, an Australian security researcher and chief executive of the cybersecurity firm Kustodian.

“They are a testing ground for different kinds of environments,” he said. “For hackers, they can be low-hanging fruit.”

Doing tests in a country that presumably has fewer defenses is a double-edged sword, Rock said. On one hand, attackers can hone their skills. On the other hand, they risk being discovered. Once a cybersecurity firm has the signature of an attack, it can build defenses against it, and spread those defenses among its clients.

Rock said that if one target “has, actually, installed a good defense and you get caught, then you have wasted your time.”


Let's call Kaspersky:

"Russian antivirus CEO offers up code for US scrutiny" by Raphael Satter and Veronika Silchenko Associated Press  July 02, 2017

MOSCOW — The chief executive of the Russian company Kaspersky Lab says he’s ready to have his source code examined by US government officials to help dispel long-lingering suspicions about Kaspersky’s ties to the Kremlin.

In an interview at his Moscow headquarters, Eugene Kaspersky said Saturday that he’s also ready to move part of his research work to the United States to help counter rumors that he said were started more than two decades ago out of professional jealousy.

‘‘If the United States needs, we can disclose the source code,’’ he said, adding that he was also ready to testify before US lawmakers. ‘‘Anything I can do to prove that we don’t behave maliciously I will do it.’’

Kaspersky, a mathematical engineer who attended a KGB-sponsored school and once worked for Russia’s Ministry of Defense, has long been eyed suspiciously by some competitors, particularly as his antivirus products became popular in the US market. Some speculate that Kaspersky, a fixture of the conference circuit, kept his Soviet-era intelligence connections. Others say it’s unlikely his company could operate independently in Russia, where the economy is dominated by state-owned companies and the power of spy agencies has expanded dramatically under President Vladimir Putin.

Take a look in the mirror, AmeriKa!

No firm evidence has ever been produced to back up such claims. But that has not stopped what was once gossip at tech conferences from escalating into public accusations by US politicians and intelligence officials amid rising concerns over Russian interference in the United States.

The U.S. doesn't need evidence, dammit!!!

Senior US intelligence officials have suggested that Congress steer well clear of Kaspersky’s products, and lawmakers are weighing a proposal to ban the company from the Pentagon. Law enforcement seems to be taking a hard look at the company as well. On Wednesday, NBC news reported that at least a dozen US employees of Kaspersky were visited at their homes by FBI agents.

Have they been evicted from Massachusetts yet?

Kaspersky confirmed the NBC report, although he said he didn’t know what the focus of the FBI’s questioning was. He did say his relationship with the FBI was now shot.

‘‘Unfortunately, now the links to the FBI are completely ruined,’’ he said, noting that his company cooperated with both US and Russian law enforcement. ‘‘It means that if some serious crime happens that needs Russian law enforcement to cooperate with FBI, unfortunately it’s not possible.’’

The FBI declined to comment, but agents are unlikely to lose much sleep over that; Kaspersky allowed that cooperation between Russia and the United States on cybercrime has often been ‘‘far from perfect.’’ 

Almost nap time, thanks.

Still, lawmakers’ moves to single out the company worry even Kaspersky’s critics, who note that it would set an unfavorable precedent for US technology firms — many of which are known to work closely with the National Security Agency. 

Imagine how AmeriKan firms wuill now be treated overseas.

Kaspersky defended his work, saying he never benefited from official protection of any kind.

‘‘I do understand why we look strange. Because for Russia it’s very unusual, a Russian IT that’s very successful everywhere around the world. But it’s true,’’ he said.

Kaspersky said his company does defensive work exclusively, although under questioning he allowed that some unnamed governments had tried to nudge him toward hacking — what he calls ‘‘the dark side.’’

Oh yeah?

‘‘There were several times it was close to that,’’ he said, adding that the officials involved weren’t Russian. He said in a discussion about defensive cybersecurity cooperation ‘‘turned to the offensive. I stopped that immediately. I don’t even want to talk about it.”

Only two I can think of that would be candidates.

Kaspersky’s offer to have his code audited may not quiet all the skeptics, some of whom are concerned less about the integrity of the company’s software and more about the company’s staff and the data they gather. As at many cybersecurity outfits in the United States and elsewhere, some Kaspersky employees come from espionage backgrounds

It's a revolving door.

Kaspersky acknowledged having former Russian intelligence workers on his staff, saying that ‘‘most probably we have these guys in our sales department for their relationship with the government sector.’’ But he added that his company’s internal network was too segregated for a single rogue employee to abuse it. 

Don't they have TV shows like that?

‘‘It’s almost not possible,’’ he said. ‘‘Because to do that, you have to have not just one person in the company, but a group of people that have access to different parts of our technological processes. It’s too complicated.’’

He insisted the company would never knowingly cooperate with any country’s offensive cyber operations.

‘‘We stay on the bright side,’’ he said, ‘‘And never, never go to the dark side.’’



Related: (Not)Petya Malware ,“An Act Of War”, Requiring a NATO Response?

Time to bed down for the night.