News Updates from CLG
22 February 2015
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Previous edition: Obama Signs Executive Order Encouraging Companies to Share Cyber Security Information With U.S. Government

Australia’s most senior Muslim says it was a mistake to vote for Tony Abbott | 20 Feb 2015 | Australia’s most senior Muslim leader has said he won’t “repeat the mistake” of voting for Tony Abbott, and publicly advised the prime minister to “work in any field other than politics”. The strong comments by the Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohammed come amid other signs of a serious breakdown in relations between the Abbott government and large elements of Australia’s Muslim communities, ahead of the expected announcement of new security legislation on Monday. Nearly 100 Islamic clerics, activists and organisations released a petition on Thursday rejecting what they called “the Abbott government’s predictable use of Muslim affairs and the ‘terror threat’ to attempt to stabilise a fragile leadership and advance its own political agendas”.

Did NSA, GCHQ steal the secret key in your phone SIM? It’s LIKELY | 19 Feb 2015 | The NSA and Britain’s GCHQ hacked the world’s biggest SIM card maker to harvest the encryption keys needed to silently and effortlessly eavesdrop on potentially millions of people. That’s according to documents obtained by surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden and leaked to the web on Thursday. The damning slides, published by Snowden’s chums at The Intercept, detail the activities of the as-yet unheard-of Mobile Handset Exploitation Team (MHET), run by the US and UK. The group targeted Gemalto, which churns out about two billion SIM cards each year for use around the world, and targeted it in an operation dubbed DAPINO GAMMA.

Top-secret military warning on Ebola biological weapon terror threat –Porton Down memo marked ‘UK secret UK eyes only’ reveals scientists analysed use of virus by al-Qaida or Isis [or the Pentagon, to facilitate the theft of Africa’s oil] | 21 Feb 2015 |Scientists at the top-secret military research unit at Porton Down, Wiltshire, have been assessing the potential use of Ebola as a bioterrorism weapon, according to confidential documents. A three-page memo, marked ‘UK secret UK eyes only’, reveals that the unit, where chemical, radiological and biological threats are analysed, was tasked with evaluating whether terrorist organisations such as al-Qaida and Islamic State (Isis) could use the deadly virus to attack western targets. The heavily redacted document, which has been released under the Freedom of Information Act, reveals that the unit was asked last October to provide “guidance on the feasibility and potential impact of a non-state actor exploiting the Ebola outbreak in west Africa for bioterrorism”.

U.S. and Iraq Planning Massive Mosul Offensive With 20,000 Iraqi Troops | 19 Feb 2015 | The U.S. and Iraq are planning a spring offensive to retake the city of Mosul that will require 20,000 to 25,000 Iraqi troops to defeat 1,000 to 2,000 Islamic State fighters, according to an official from U.S. Central Command. The main attack force of five Iraqi army brigades will need to be trained first by U.S. advisers, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity at a briefing Thursday to discuss military operations…The U.S. is considering offering a range of backing for the offensive, such as air support, intelligence and logistics, the official said. The military also hasn’t ruled out deploying a small number of U.S. troops on the ground to find targets and call in airstrikes.

US Reveals Mosul Assault Timing in Rare Move –A force of 20,000-25,000 Iraqi and Kurdish forces will aim to seize the city back from thousands of Islamic State fighters. | 20 Feb 2015 | An Iraqi military operation to retake the country’s second largest city [Mosul] from Islamic State is likely to begin in April or May, according to a US official…The planned spring assault on the city, with a population of over a million, will involve about 12 brigades, five of whom will soon have coalition training, the official at US Central Command added. No decision has been made on whether small numbers of US military advisers might need [sic] to be on the ground close to Mosul to direct close air support.

Work of prominent global warming denier was funded by energy industry –Documents: Koch brothers foundation among groups that gave total of 1.25m | 21 Feb 2015 | A prominent academic and climate change global warming denier’s work was funded almost entirely by the energy industry, receiving more than 1.2m from companies, lobby groups and oil billionaires over more than a decade, newly released documents show. Over the last 14 years Willie Soon, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, received a total of 1.25m from Exxon Mobil, Southern Company, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and a foundation run by the ultra-conservative Koch brothers, the documents obtained by Greenpeace through freedom of information filings show. According to the documents, the biggest single funder was Southern Company, one of the country’s biggest electricity providers that relies heavily on coal.

Ohio high court rules against local fracking ban, opponents may seek civil rights argument| 19 Feb 2015 | The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled [Munroe Falls v. Beck Energy] that a local ordinance couldn’t block a fracking company from drilling, affirming priority of state law. Yet observers say the decision leaves room for a challenge based on civil rights. The court ruled on Tuesday in a split 4-3 decision that a Munroe Falls ordinance that banned hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the town did not trump state permitting power.

The coldest day ever! Temperature records broken across the country by the ‘Siberian Express’ cold snap as Manhattan hits 1F | 20 Feb 2015 | The weather phenomenon dubbed the Siberian Express caused record-breaking low temperatures in almost every single area in the central and eastern US on Friday, with all major cities reporting record lows for this date and many reporting record lows for the month of February. The temperature dropped to a 60-year-low of 1F in New York City Friday morning, caused fruit crops to freeze in Florida, and in Embarrass, Minnesota, it got all the way down to -41F on Thursday. The air mass known as the Siberian Express traces a line all the way back to the Russian territory, crossing over the North Pole on its way to Canada and into the U.S.

Snowy owls have come to New York City –These owls are from the Arctic. | 20 Feb 2015 | Snowy owls are invading New York. And the freezing cold temperatures are to thank for their arrival. So far, at least seven of the owls have been spotted in the New York City area, including on Governor’s Island which tweeted a picture of a new feathered friend. New York Magazine reports bird experts believe this may be the first time snowy owls have started living on that island.